Iran Announces Missiles Equipped with Multiple Warheads
Iranian Fateh-110 series Missiles with alleged Multiple warhead capabilties Source FARS news agency 3-5-14
Iran’s Revolutionary guard unveiled a new class of missiles which it alleges has multiple warhead capabilities. In our March NER article, has Iran Developed Nuclear Weapons in North Korea? , We reported sources suggesting that the Islamic regime , in cooperation with North Korea, were testing a nuclear equipped MIRV warhead and that Iran might have the capability of fitting one on a ballistic missile within 4 to 6 months.
If this announcement today by Iran’s FARS agency is confirmed, it will demonstrate that the P5+1 negotiators were blindsided by Iranian demands to exclude ballistic missile development. As Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman said in a US Senate Foreign Relations hearings in early February 2014 before Chairman Sen. Robert Menendez: “It is true that in these first six months we’ve not shut down all of their production of any ballistic missile that could have anything to do with delivery of a nuclear weapon.” Jennifer Rubin in her Washington Post blog, “Right Turn” cited Sen. Menendez in his speech before AIPAC’s Annual Policy Conference yesterday, saying:
Menendez repeated a warning he recently gave on the Senate floor that it will “be too late” to enact sanctions six months from now. That reality hangs over AIPAC, the Iran and P5+1 talks, and Congress: Iran by achieving partial relaxation of sanctions and by biding time to continue missile development and advanced centrifuge research is quickly becoming the nuclear-capable state Menendez vows to prevent.
What will the Obama West Wing do in the face of this challenge by the Iranian regime pursuing its diplomatic track? WE don’t pretend to know. However, both sponsors of the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act, S. 1881, Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) do. That is to overwhelm Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and move on passing the standby sanctions authority. Even that may be “too late” given today’s announcement. Moreover, with the Israel Navy interception of rockets bound for Gaza in the Red Sea today, Iran is pursuing all means possible to create a nuclear equipped ICBM umbrella demonstrating its hegemony in the global Islamic terrorist war against Israel, the US, Middle East allies and the West.
Those dangers were highlighted in Israeli PM Netanyahu’s speech at the AIPAC Conference yesterday when he said:
Iran says it only wants a peaceful nuclear program. So why is it building a heavy water reactor, which has no purpose in a peaceful nuclear program? Iran says it has nothing to hide. So why does it ban inspectors from its secret military sites? Why doesn’t it divulge its military nuclear secret — the secrets of its military nuclear activities? They absolutely refuse to say a word about that. Iran says it’s not building nuclear weapons. So why does it continue to build ICBMs, intercontinental ballistic missiles, whose only purpose is to carry nuclear warheads?
See, unlike Scud missiles, that are limited to a range of a few hundred miles, ICBMs can cross vast oceans. And they can strike, right now or very soon, the eastern seaboard of the United States — Washington — and very soon after that, everywhere else in the United States, up to L.A.
And the important point to make is this: Iran’s missiles can already reach Israel, so those ICBMs that they’re building, they’re not intended for us. You remember that beer commercial, “this Bud’s for you”? Well, when you see Iran building ICBMs, just remember, America, that Scud’s for you.
Note these excerpts from this AP Report on today’s announcement from Tehran:
At a ceremony Wednesday, Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan presented a delivery of four types of ballistic missiles — named Qiam, Qadr H1, Fateh-110 and Persian Gulf. The Qadr H1 and Qiam, he said, are equipped with multiple warheads, greatly boosting their destructive power.
"These missiles are able to hit and destroy enemy targets with precision, and they meet a variety of the armed forces' needs," Dehghan said. "The weapons have strengthened Iran's deterrence power and military might," he added, in comments were posted on the Guard's website.
Iran regularly announces breakthroughs in military technology that are impossible to independently verify. But the Pentagon released a rare public report in 2012 noting significant advances in Iranian missile technology, acknowledging that Tehran has improved their accuracy and firing capabilities.
Dehghan said Western sanctions have not stopped Iran from boosting its ability to deter its enemies, a reference to Israel and the U.S.
"Comprehensive sanctions enforced strictly by enemies ... didn't cause the slightest crack in our determination and will," he said.
Many of Iran's missiles use solid fuel, or a combination of both solid and liquid fuel, improving the accuracy of the weapons.
Iran has a variety of missiles, some with a reported range of 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles), enough to reach much of the Middle East. Military commanders have described them as a strategic asset and a strong deterrent, capable of hitting U.S. bases or Israel in the event of a strike on Iran.
Semiofficial Fars news agency provided details on the medium-range Qiam missile for the first time, saying it was the latest missile developed by Gen. Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, the father of Iran's missile program who died in a testing accident in 2011.
Qiam, Fars said, was specifically built to target U.S. bases in the region, which he said have encircled Iran. With a range of 800 kilometers, the 6-ton missile has been described in Iranian media as ushering in a new era of ballistic missile production for the country.
"It sums up the country's 25-year defense industry experience in aerospace. Qiam's wingless design is one of the characteristics that gives it greater speed and the capability to be launched from various launchers," Fars said.
(Reuters) - Street clashes marred an announcement on Wednesday that India's general election will start on April 7 as passions run high in a race that pits Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi against the unpopular Nehru-Gandhi family's ruling party.
Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath said 814 million people had registered to vote, a number larger than the population of Europe, making this the biggest election the world has ever seen. Results are due to be announced on May 16.
In Delhi and a regional city, members of Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fought street battles with supporters of a young anti-corruption party hours after the announcement. Several people were injured and police used water cannons to disperse the crowds.
The violence broke out after the leader of the anti-corruption party was stopped by police during a campaign in Modi's state of Gujarat. Supporters gathered outside BJP offices to protest his detention.
The election follows growing anger amongst urban Indians over corruption as well as a sense that the centre-left government led by the Congress party has frittered away opportunities for rapid growth.
Modi has emerged in opinion polls as the favorite to head the next government, buoyed by his strong economic track record as chief minister of the state of Gujarat.
Exuding self-confidence, Modi has won the support of many middle-class Indians who even a year ago would not have voted for a man accused by critics of failing to stop, or even tacitly encouraging, a spasm of Hindu-Muslim bloodshed in Gujarat in 2002. Modi has denied any wrongdoing and the Supreme Court has said there is not enough evidence to pursue investigations.
Born of a street movement against graft scandals related to the sale of natural resources over the last decade, the anti-corruption Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party has also emerged as a major player, alleging corruption in both main parties.
It is not likely to win many seats, but is setting the agenda for other parties by harping on high utility prices and crony capitalism.
Starting on April 7, voting will be held in nine stages, staggered until May 12, to allow security forces to be effectively deployed during an exercise that has often been marred by violence, ballot-rigging and buying votes.
"Credible elections conducted at regular, prescribed intervals are the very soul, or hallmark, of any democratic system," Sampath said, adding that he was particularly concerned about over-spending by candidates and parties.
The introduction of electronic voting and staggered phases over the past decade has dramatically decreased fraud on polling days, and India's elections are largely free and fair.
Another Day, Another Iranian Attempt To Smuggle Advanced Weaponry To Hamas
And look at the trajectory of those M-302 missiles, as they were flown -- without any thought of obtaining frequent-flyer miles -- from Damascus to Tehran, from Tehran to Bandar Abbas, from Bandar Abbasin southern Iran to Umm Qasr in southern Iraq, and then, by ship, from Umm Qasr, by ship, all the way down through the Straits of Hormuz, around the entire Arabian peninsula, and then up the Red Sea to Sudan, where the Israelis stopped, boarded, and seized the ship and its cargo.
Between 1920 and 1970, 900,000 Jews were expelled from Arab and other Muslim countries. The 1940s were a turning point in this tragedy; of those expelled, 600,000 settled in the new state of Israel, and 300,000 in France and the United States. Today, they and their descendents form the majority of the French Jewish community and a large part of Israel’s population.
In the countries that expelled Jews, a combination of six legal, economic, and political measures aimed at isolating Jews in society was instituted: denationalization; legal discrimination; isolation and sequestration; economic despoilment; socioeconomic discrimination; and pogroms or similar acts.
It is the custom to say that Zionism was responsible for this development. However, the region’santi-Semitism would have developed even without the rise of the state of Israel because of Arab-Islamic nationalism, which resulted in xenophobia.
The fact that these events have been obscured has served in the campaign to delegitimize Israel, and therefore to a large extent, the same population that suffered this oppression. The fate of Palestinian refugees, their proclaimed innocence, and the injustice they endured form the main thrust of this delegitimization. The Jewish refugees have suffered more than the Palestinian refugees and undergone greater spoliations. However, they became citizens of the countries of refuge, especially Israel and France, while Palestinians were ostracized from the Arab nations.
Iranian Rocket Shipment Bound for Gaza Seized by Israeli Navy off Port Sudan
M-302 seized from Klos-C by Israeli Locatioon of Israeli Seizure of Klos-C off Port Sudan
Credit the Israeli Naval Commandos of Sayeret 13 and missile boats with another coup seizing the Panamanian flagged vessel, the KLOS-C packed with clearly marked Iranian M302 Rockets bound ultimately for Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza. You may recall the Sayeret 13 boarded the Turkish ferry the Mavi Mamara in the May 2010 Free Gaza Flotilla. This time Iran has used Syria for transshipment of a consignment of M302 rockets via Iraq in the Persian Gulf. The raid on the KLOS-C occurred in the Red Sea off Port Sudan just before off loading for shipment to Gaza via Salafist Jihadist helpers in the Egyptian Sinai peninsula . The M302 rockets have a range of 200 KM threatening all of the populous central Israel.
Watch this IDF video of the KLOS-C seizure of Iranian M302 rockets:
The Jerusalem and Washington Post accounts note this most recent episode in a more than 14 year history of IDF seizures, a credit to diligent naval intelligence as well as Israel’s special operations prowess. Here are some excerpts from the Washington Postreport :
The ship, the KLOS C, was carrying Syrian-made M-302 rockets and was intercepted more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) south of Israel off the coasts of Sudan and Eritrea, military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told reporters.
Previously, Gaza militants have only been able to reach about 50 miles (80 kilometers) into Israel with their homegrown M-75 missiles. Hezbollah used M-302s in a 2006 war against Israel, the military said.
The operation, codenamed “Full Disclosure,” followed months of intelligence gathering. Lerner said the shipment originated in Syria. From there the weapons were flown to Iran and departed from the Bandar Abbas port. Lerner said the Iranians tried to “obscure their tracks” by shipping first via Iraq and then out to sea. The shipment was destined for Sudan, from where it was to be moved overland through Egypt to Gaza.
Lerner said the 17 crew members of the ship, flying under a Panama flag, were not suspects and were probably unaware of the content of their cargo. The vessel was being brought to the port of Eilat, Israel’s most southerly point, where the crew would be released and the cache unloaded. It was expected to arrive later this week.
The Washington Post chronicled the more than decade history of Israeli Naval seizures and air strikes against Iranian weapons shipments to Gaza:
Three years ago, Israel seized the cargo ship Victoria loaded with weapons allegedly sent by Iran to Gaza , including land-to-sea missiles.
In November 2009, Israel took over the Iranian Francop vessel off the coast of Cyprus and captured hundreds of tons of rockets, missiles, mortars, grenades and anti-tank weapons on board that it said were headed to Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.
Israel is also suspected of carrying out airstrikes in Sudan on arms shipments believed to be bound for Gaza. Israel has never confirmed carrying out the strikes.
In January 2002, Israeli forces stormed the Karine A freighter on the Red Sea, and confiscated what the military said was 50 tons of missiles, mortars, rifles and ammunition headed for the Gaza Strip.
In May 2001, Israel captured the vessel Santorini off its coastline, packed with explosives Israel said were being sent from Hezbollah to Palestinian militant groups.
The Jerusalem Postreport drew attention to Iran’s use of Syria for transshipment of rockets and others strategic weapons to terrorist proxies in the Middle East:
The IDF Spokesman's Unit said that the operation was made possible by inter-agency intelligence cooperation and the IDF's enhanced capabilities. "This prevented the arrival of a shipment of deadly and advanced weapons, which was aimed at harming Israeli civilians, and intended to reach the terrorist organizations of the Gaza Strip who are waging confrontation against Israel."
The spokesman added that special commando navy teams acted in accordance with international law during the raid and boarded the ship for armed searches before uncovering the rockets.
Iran flew the rockets to an Iranian air field, trucked them to a sea port, and shipped them to Iraq, where they were hidden in cement sacks.
The ship then set sail from Iraq to Port Sudan, near the Sudanese-Eritrean border, on a journey expected to last some ten days.
Had the shipment of rockets not been intercepted the rockets would likely have been unloaded in Egypt and taken by land over Sinai to smuggling tunnels into Gaza.
One day before reaching its destination, the Israel Navy pounced, raiding the vessel and bringing it under its full control. There were no injuries in the incident.
"We have certain proof that Iran was behind this," a senior military source said.
"The final destination was the Gaza Strip, where Iran hoped to unload the rockets and transfer them to terrorist organizations," he added.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and smaller groups are constantly working to build up their rocket arsenal, and are believed to have several thousand short range rockets that threaten southern cities and dozens of medium-range rockets that can reach greater Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.
By the end of 2013, Hamas was estimated by Israeli intelligence to possess 5000 short-range rockets and dozens of medium-range rockets, placing 70 percent of Israeli civilians in its range.
Gaza today has some 25,000 armed fighters. Of those, 16,000 belong to Hamas divisions. The Islamic Jihad has 5,000 fighters, split up into five divisions, and is armed with more than 2,000 rockets. Smaller terror groups have over 4,000 terrorists among their ranks, and are armed with dozens of rockets, as well as a large quantity of light arms.
In addition to replenishing its rocket arsenal, Hamas is trying to create capabilities to launch terror attacks, and possesses anti-aircraft missiles as well.
The "Closing In" On Yabroud Goes Into Its Fifth Month With Iraqi Shi'a Help
From Asharq Al-Awsat:
Syrian government closes in on opposition stronghold in Yabroud
ISIS claims it has taken control of Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus
Soldiers loyal to Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad stand with members of the media at Al-Sahl after the soldiers seize control from rebel fighters in this March 3, 2014, handout photograph distributed by Syria’s national news agency, SANA. (REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters)
Beirut and London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Syrian government forces have intensified their attacks on the town of Yabroud, one of the most important remaining opposition strongholds in the mountainous Qalamoun area along the Lebanese border.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday that government forces attacked Yabroud with helicopter-borne barrel bombs, and that “these attacks come one day after the killing 15 opposition fighters in clashes near the town of Sehel.” The Observatory also quoted opposition activists as saying that fighting was continuing in the Sehel area, north of Yabroud.
Lebanese Al-Manar TV, which is operated by the Hezbollah movement, aired on Monday a video of government soldiers who had reportedly stormed Sehel and expelled armed groups.
The same day, a Syrian army officer was quoted by the news agency AFP as saying: “We noted a state of confusion and defeat among the armed groups” and that “Al-Sahl is very important because it is the first line of defense for the town of Yabroud.”
The battle of Qalamoun started at the end of 2013, when the Syrian army advanced on a number of towns and expelled armed rebel groups, resulting in the displacement of many residents of the area to nearby Lebanon.
The region is strategically situated, falling between Damascus and Homs, and is a key supply route for government forces, as well as linking rebel groups in the Rif Dimashq area around the capitol with sympathizers in Lebanon.
Hezbollah has also accused armed groups based in Yabroud of preparing car bombs for attacks on areas linked to its supporters in Lebanon.
Elsewhere in Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) said its fighters had entered the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus.
In a statement published on their Twitter account, ISIS said that “ISIS fighters, along with fighting factions in Yarmouk, have succeeded expelling the ‘Shabihas of Ahmad Jibril,’” a reference to the fighters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), which is reportedly allied with the Syrian government.
The director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdurrahman, told Asharq Al-Awsat that despite the fact that ISIS entered Yarmouk camp, the Al-Nusra Front remains the most organized jihadist force inside the camp.
Abdurrahman said the decision by ISIS to enter the Yarmouk camp may have been triggered on Monday by Syrian government threats to storm the camp if it was not cleared of Islamist fighters.
Abdurrahman said: “The situation on the ground in the camp on Tuesday was calm” but that he expected “an escalation in the coming hours.”
The Al-Nusra Front deployed in the camp two days ago, accusing the government of violating a truce signed in mid-January, and has allowed aid to reach the residents.
Opposition activists blame ISIS for the breakdown of the truce when the group’s fighters stormed the town of Bebella, where the truce was signed, and raised its flag over the municipal building.
Meanwhile, activists said Syrian government forces had used heavy artillery to bombard a group of Syrian refugees who gathered in a mosque and some houses in the town of Holah, in Rif Homs. The activists added that the town was suffering from difficult humanitarian conditions because of the constant bombardment and the government forces’ control of the roads leading to the town.
In Deir Ezzor, government forces made progress in fighting around the town’s military airport with help from the Iraqi Abu Al-Fadl Al-Abbas Brigade, according to Bashar Al-Abbad, spokesman of the rebel factions besieging the airbase.
Abbad said: “Opposition forces intercepted a wireless communication between Iraqi military elements in the airport area, which proves their participation in the fighting with the regime.”
Googling Gogol, Or What You Can See On The Via Sistina
At 47, via Sistina, in Rome, you can look up and see on the wall this plaque which notes, in Russian and Italian, that a famous Russian writer, or if you prefer a famous Ukrainian writer who wrote in Russian, or if you prefer something simpler, just a writer, lived in that very building between 1838 and 1842, when he wrote "Dead Souls."
And the same writer, Nikolai Gogol,who once planned to write a history of the world "in eight, or perhaps nine, volumes," also wrote a story, bearing a title some may find not inapposite today, about "How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled With Ivan Nikiforovich."
The PVV wants “jihad brides” from Gouda to lose their passports, and that they be apprehended and questioned upon their return from Syria.
MP for the PVV, Joram van Klaveren posed Parliamentary questions to Ministers Asscher, of Social affairs, and Opstelten, of Security and Justuce, about the muslim women who are traveling to war-torn Syria to support male fighters, the AD reports.
According to the AD, the women concerned include one Dutch, a Bosnian and three Moroccan women. The “jihad brides” frequently use social media to maintain contact with the Syrian fighters.
Van Klaveren wants to ban the phenomenon of jihad brides. If the women have two passports, then the Dutch one should be confiscated, the PVV urge.
French webmaster was handed a one year jail sentence in a Paris court on Tuesday after being convicted of inciting and glorifying terrorism. The Muslim convert translated Al Qaeda propaganda into French before uploading it onto the web, but said he regretted his actions.
The 26-year-old, identified as Romain, was detained in September last year in the Normandy department of Calvados, where he lives.
Prosecutors say he acted as administrator of the Ansar al Haqq website, a "reference" for the radical Islamist movement, and as a translator of "Inspire" magazine, which is put out by militant group Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Paris prosecutors said.
His arrest was the first made under a new law passed in the aftermath of the Toulouse shootings, carried out by self-proclaimed Al-Qaeda inspired gunman Mohamed Merah.
At his trial on Tuesday he said: "I had no intention of encouraging people to attack France or the United States. I regret it and if I could go back I would not have done it."
The Ansar al Haqq website that he manages "has more than 4,000 members including 685 that are active" and Romain published statements from Al-Qaeda's north African branch AQIM on it, they added.
They said an investigation also found that the suspect had "an active role in the translation into French and the distribution of the tenth and 11th editions of the magazine Inspire."
Romain's lawyer Thomas Klotz saidthat the charges were against the European Convention on Human Rights and that hisclient was the only person in France being held under the new law. Nevertheless judges were not convinced by the defense and handed Romain a one year jail sentence.
Last week in this column, I expressed admiration of the line President Obama and other Western leaders had taken in supporting the ouster of Russian ally Viktor Yanukovych from the presidency of the Ukraine. It was easily foreseeable and widely predicted that Russian president Vladimir Putin would retaliate, as his Russian official ego is even pricklier than that of the Soviet leaders whom he served in the days when the USSR was America’s only rival as a superpower, and intermittently asserted an eminent domain over neighboring countries, including East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Afghanistan, all of which it occupied militarily. As I wrote last week, Crimea was assigned to Ukraine only in 1954, and that country’s claim to it now is not unquestionable. Given the fact that about 60 percent of the population of Crimea is ethnically Russian and that almost half the others are Tatars of no more affinity to Ukrainians than to Russians, the ability of the Ukrainian government to hold the loyalty of Crimea was always doubtful, especially as Russia has never officially acknowledged the legitimacy of an independent Ukraine. As I also wrote last week, it is galling for the Russians to rely on the Ukraine for a naval base for its Black Sea fleet.
It was not a matter of immense importance to the Soviet Union where its naval forces were until the mid Sixties, because Russia was never a very serious naval power, boxed in as it was in the Baltic, the Black Sea, and the White Sea, and at Vladivostok in the Far East. Its naval effort was in submarines and it did not have a large merchant fleet. But after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Nikita Khrushchev began, and Leonid Brezhnev continued, a major naval and merchant-marine build-up, which severely strained the Soviet economy and drove the United States to an even larger naval expansion. It was as ineffective as Kaiser Wilhelm II’s challenge to the Royal Navy in the 20 years prior to World War I, a challenge that strained world tensions and drove Britain into the arms of the French and Russians — and resulted in total failure: When war came, the German navy engaged in only two days of fighting and ultimately surrendered and scuttled itself. The Soviet navy achieved no more, but there was no war between the Great Powers and the fleet subsists, though it is aging, and the Black Sea Fleet is a tenant of the Ukraine, needs the agreement of the Turks to exit the Black Sea, and is shadowed in the Mediterranean by the U.S. Sixth Fleet and can get to an ocean only via the Suez Canal or through the closely watched Straits of Gibraltar.
As this is being written, Russia has effectively invaded Crimea, reestablished a Crimean semi-autonomous republic, and given Ukrainian forces in the area an ultimatum. The commander of the Ukrainian navy, such as it is, has defected to the new pro-Russian entity of Crimea. The new government in Kiev has appointed new regional governors to replace the Yanukovych loyalists, but it is not clear that the writ of the central government will run any more authoritatively in the largely Russian eastern regions around Donetsk and Dnepropetrovsk and along the Russian border, a rich coal and steel area, than it has in Crimea. The danger to the West is that it goes on autopilot and Western leaders blather a lot of self-righteous paraphrases of King Lear about “costs” and red lines, which Putin could hardly be blamed for ignoring, and yet which will incite increased skirmishing between Ukraine and Russia and could lead to Russian aggression against Ukraine as a whole. This would be no day at the beach for the Russians: The Ukrainians are fierce fighters, and they would be assisted, at least materially if not in combat forces, by the West; and if Brezhnev’s Soviet Union could not hold Afghanistan, Putin’s shrunken remnant of that country would have insuperable problems with three times the number of Ukrainians, on the borders of NATO (albeit in terrain less conducive to guerrilla war than Afghanistan is). The Munich parallel, incidentally, has been overdrawn: Britain and France could not go to war to prevent Czech Germans (in the Sudetenland) from adhering to Germany. Chamberlain’s mistake was in spurning Stalin, agreeing to such a fast timetable, not securing a serious guarantee of the surviving Czechoslovakia (which the Poles and Hungarians then attacked), and representing the shabby episode as the triumph of “Peace with Honour.” (There was neither peace nor honor.)
The European Union appears to be ready to commit $35 billion to Ukraine, and the urgency of conditions may cause the Ukrainian political class, a pretty self-interested group on its record, to regroup in the unity of oppressed peoples and try to earn the respect of its compatriots. The glamorous former premier, Yulia Timoshenko, whom Yanukovych spuriously imprisoned for three years, hit the ground running last weekend, and could be an important player again. There is no point in threatening Putin with nameless vengeance that won’t happen. All the huffing and puffing over Syria and Iran has not got us very far and Obama’s pious bunk about red lines has become a butt of international mockery. The morale of the American public has suffered, as the means of its government have been dissipated, by $2 trillion and 50,000 casualties in the Iraqi and Afghan wars that seem not to have yielded very satisfactory results. The country is unenthused about military expeditionary activities. And Obama’s rank abdication of his constitutional role as commander-in-chief to the Congress in the Syrian fiasco does not cause America’s adversaries to tremble in contemplation of his countermeasures, as Japan did with Roosevelt over the Panay incident (1937), Stalin did with Truman over the Berlin Airlift (1948–49), Khrushchev did with Eisenhower after threatening to attack France and Britain after Suez (1956), Kim Jong Il did with Nixon after shooting down an American reconnaissance aircraft (1969), and as Qaddafi did after Reagan was provoked into bringing the rafters of his house down on him (1986).
Even after everything that has happened, there is an astonishing volume of uncomprehending nonsense in the Western media about what is at stake in Ukraine. On February 20, former Italian premier Romano Prodi had a piece in the New York Times urging collaboration with Putin in integrating Ukraine into Western Europe (exactly what Putin does not want). The sequel, on March 1 in the same place, by Georgetown professor Charles King, urged an incomprehensible form of countercultural tolerance on the beleaguered Ukrainians and imputed to the Russian leader the chief motive of an obsessive desire to reveal Western hypocrisy. (There has been no shortage of that, but it is scarcely relevant to the preservation of the independence of Ukraine.) This crisis is not and never has been anything except a struggle for primacy in Eastern Europe between Russia and the West. And despite the feebleness and irresolution of the West, it is still much stronger by every measurement than Russia, which is essentially an imposture, a make-believe effort to reenact the conduct and strength of a Great Power in the absence of the sinews of that power.
The West converted Japan to the Occident’s social, political, and economic virtues, which are now being partly emulated by China and India, and have displaced the palsied inefficacies and inhumanities of the czarist and Communist Russians and Ottoman Turks in much of Eastern Europe. The correlation of forces is favorable even in this week, in which British foreign secretary William Hague warned Russia of “costs and consequences” while a photograph of a position paper in the hands of a junior British official revealed that Britain would not actually seek sanctions or do anything; and in which the Western response took on a Gilbert and Sullivan air of reprisals through visas and the Paralympics. If Western leaders utter dire threats but follow through with such ineffectual nonsense, in the fine tradition of the infamous Joe Biden pledge to hit the “reset button” in U.S.–Soviet relations, Putin will just partition off the most Russian parts of the Ukraine and leave a much more homogeneous Ukraine of about 33 million people, well-launched with (mainly) German money. If the Western leaders completely overplay their hand — and with John Kerry in Kiev, any hyperbole is possible before the “unbelievably small” proportions of any likely response are revealed — Putin may actually invade the non-Russian Ukraine, which would in turn accelerate the collapse of his thugdom, swaddled as it is in the costs and artifices of his masquerade as a collector or breaker of nations like Catherine the Great, Alexander I, or Stalin.
Ukraine will be independent, possibly after a partition to save Russia’s ill-favored face, possibly even after repulsing a general Russian assault, and it will join the West. German influence will prevail over Russian in Eastern Europe, and the West will ultimately show Russia the way to being a great nationality not only in cultural, folkloric, and geographic terms, but as a civil society. This is a contest we cannot lose, not because our leaders seem to have much idea how to deal with it, unlike some of their recent forebears, but because they have every moral and material advantage over Russia, and if their incompetence deprives Ukraine of a swift resolution of this conflict, it will only be because that incompetence will induce Putin into adventurism Russia cannot support, a minor updated reprise of the failed occupation of Eastern Europe after World War II and the insane foray into the unremitting primitiveness of Afghanistan. Putin’s ego and braggadocio will, if necessary, insure us against the maladroitness of most of the West’s current statesmen. We could do worse, though some days it seems otherwise.