The show so far, a continuing series

South Korea suspends THAAD deployment

Turkey prepares to send troops to Qatar

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards charge that Saudi Arabia was behind the terror attack on Teheran

Hmm…Meanwhile Qatar is engaging in talks with Turkey and Iran for emergency food and water supplies.

I don’t know what to expect from the Qatar situation, but I will say this.  If America really is withdrawing from its global role, “crude economism” predicts that small, hard to defend, oil-rich states are the first places where you would expect fighting to break out.  So Qatar is a bellwether for how global world order is likely to evolve.

Recall, by the way, that Qatar hosts the largest U.S. military base in the Middle East.  Unless the Qatar situation is resolved very quickly, and sufficiently in Qatar’s favor, I would say that the expected return from hosting such bases just fell dramatically.


The South Korea change is mostly because of their new President, as Moon Jae-in has always had dovish views, and Park Geun-hye's crazy scandal and impeachment had nothing to do with the USA. It's a mistake to ascribe it entirely to Trump, instead of due to domestic interests and politics, as I see occasionally. Other countries have erratic politics and policy shifts much as the US can. Of course I don't think that Trump is the right person to manage a difficult time.

Time to withdraw from Korea. If they want to be in the Chinese orbit, let them.

There is no US interest there. Its just a residue from the Cold War.

. . . and if they don't want to be in the Chinese orbit? If they have, in fact, fought side by side with Americans to stay out of the Chinese orbit? And if we, in fact, have repeatedly pledged our assistance in keeping them out the Chinese orbit?

If they don't want to be in the Chinese orbit, that's fine too. They will have to either (i) dramatically increase their military strength or (ii) find a powerful ally, whom they treat with respect. If they don't want to do either of those things, then their wish to avoid subservience to China is rather like the demand of a poor man for a coach and four.

They chose (ii), having US as a powerful ally that they have a close relationship with. And as an American I hope for the sake of Korea and all of Asia we keep it that way.

As best as I can make out, the new president of South Korea is no more enthusiastic about the U.S. alliance than our new president is about NATO. The big difference being that NATO needs us, whereas we don't need or even necessarily want South Korea. I say cut them loose and let them work out their own destiny.

Have you been to South Korea? It's rich, they love America and tons of powerful people there have studied in the US. If you want to cede all of Asia, which is and will continue to be the biggest global market for decades, to China's control I have to think you don't really care about American prosperity.

China's control? What do you people think? That China will invade Korea if we arent there? That all of Asia will somehow become off limits to the US if we dont maintain a military presence there? American arrogance is the mother of our foreign policy problems.

You cede influence, you seed everything. China doesn't have to invade or annex territory--they just have to be smarter than us and more persistent. Hint: right now, they are.

Yea, and Korea has no agency whatsoever here? They must decide to do what we tell them or some Chinese horror will befall them?

Yeah, they really love America.

If the South Koreans don't want to be defended by the US shouldn't the US just fold her tents and silently steal away?

As someone who thinks the US and the world are both better with the US placing global cop, things would go better if the default position was us not getting involved and asked to help, instead of us going in and helping and getting a lot of resentment for it.

Global cop? If you look at history, global bully would be the more appropriate title. (Note: I'm not saying that Russia is any better, but lets be honest right?)

"global bully"! Give me your best example of something America typically does that is being a "global bully". Resist the urge to make a laundry list just one example of typical American "global bullying".

China has a billion people. They can send 30 million of them to buy property in Australia and that's the end of Australia as a British Commonwealth state. Same for Canada.

We lack the national unity and ruthlessness for global cop, frankly. The moment we get any serious pushback we will end up looking weak indeed.

How well do we play this role anyway? How long have we been putzing around in Afghanistan? What have we accomplished by overthrowing dictators in Iraq and Libya?

Your point is true. However I don't think Australia would allow it. I don't think Australian citizens would allow it. I suspect if the Chinese were to try that they would ban all foreign property ownership and nationalize any properties already owned by foreigners. Canada wouldn't. Their politicians are too naive and their citizens have lost control of their government.

"How well do we play this role anyway?"

Well, we did win the Cold War against a formidable adversary with enough nuclear weapons to blow the world up several times over. Also, the post-WW2 Era, the period where the US led the free world, seems to have gone pretty well considering the 50 years prior had two world wars and the Nazis overrunning much of Europe.

When and where was the surrender signed? Just because the Soviet system, one that was predicted as destined to fail by some from the beginning, couldn't endure doesn't mean that the US "won" the cold war. Of course even now the Russians are the bogey man under the bed, more so than critical trading partner China, whose investments in US T-bills make them a serious partner in the economy rather than a genuine threat. There must be an external threat, preferably more than one, to justify the state. The US has Russia, "terrorism" and China so the state is pretty important, even to those that aren't big recipients of its largesse.

" However I don’t think Australia would allow it. I don’t think Australian citizens would allow it"

You don't get out much, do you?

Its happening. And the fact that sentient Australians are unhappy about it means nothing to this Coalition gov't.

No. We should act like a global leader and not a fat, drunk baby with the nuclear codes.

What a delightfully vacuous stance. Believe it or not, Korea is an actual country with its own objectives and desires. They can decide for themselves if they want THAAD or not, its not a tragedy when a country decides what it wants isnt exactly what the US wants.

That doesn't mean "withdraw from Korea" and let them be in the Chinese orbit, which is what Bob said. Are you following here?

Sorry, that was response to dear, not Bob (roids giving me fits today). But the point is exactly the same. You work with them to preserve an important alliance--not walk away.

Im following just fine, and what im hearing is the same vague nonsense ive heard for some time. What exactly do you imagine being a "global leader" entails exactly?

Korea is its own country with its own desires. China is not our enemy. This isnt the cold war.

Keep in mind the THAAD suspension is largely symbolic, since the interception rate is only, at best, about 33%, and largely useless at the border where they use artillery anyway. The reason THAAD was suspended was for the USA to appease China, so the Chinese can do more to contain North Korea.

?? 33% ??
Not even close to correct. Intercepts have hit the target every time since the system's been operational in 2006.

Please John Turner. Study first. Start with "hitting a bullet with a bullet". The one time THAAD even got over 50% I think they embedded a GPS device in the target to make sure the intercepts struck.

Short Youtube video on this subject: Keep in mind also that in real life missiles don't move in a predictable path as in testing, especially in the terminal phase when they are fully up to speed and hitting atmospheric turbulence... THAAD is like the Patriot anti-missile system, which during one of the Gulf Wars, some said may have had zero hits rather than the perfect score touted by the military-industrial patriots.

You're a complete idiot and have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.

If Americans weren't so corrupt and hadn't acted so irresponsible, it would never, ever have happened. Quo usque tandem abutere patientia nostra?

* irresponsibly

For some libertarians, skepticism about the efficacy of our government meddling in the affairs of people ends at our shores.

rather cryptic

one need not be a libertarian to see that the U.S. long term foreign policy of war & imperialism is a disaster. Even Progressive World Wars I & II (Wilson/FDR) were safely avoidable.

solution today is to sharply disengage our overt/covert military operations from other nations. Not a single American government soldier/operative should be in the MidEast or Korea... or Europe, Japan, etc.
South Korea & Japan can defend themselves. Qatar is a joke -- a contrived hereditary monarchy under Sharia Law--- its fate is totally unimportant to America's true interests and formal Constitution.

Given that America did not start, and stayed out of the World Wars until drawn in, in what sense "avoidable?"

You think Japan occupying the Pacific and Nazis controlling Europe a better counterfactual? How long would that take to become another kind of World War?

"until drawn in"

what a cute little belief. American politicians "chose" to enter war, after campaigning on anti-war platforms. even Winston Churchill admitted that WWII was avoidable.

You have lost me. Germany invaded Poland. Japan invaded Manchuria.

Avoidable in the sense that they could have been told to keep em?

The Japanese war could definitely have been avoided. It is not as if the U.S. declared war when Japan invaded Manchuria. The Japanese were prepared to concede every negotiating point to the U.S., but diplomatic failures and miscommunications led to war

Japan would not have occupied the Pacific. They would have the Philippines, Dutch East Indies, and some unimportant islands. The war in China had reached a stalemate before Pearl Harbor. The Nazis would not have controlled Europe. The Soviet Union would have defeated Germany even without our help.

The map, The Empire of Japan in 1942, is here:

German occupied territory is here:

You can write some fanfic about what "happened next" but I was only citing the 1942 status quo.

Germany didn't need to exert control over Europe, there were plenty of indigenous fascists in every country willing to do the job for them. The Vichy French, for example, but the collaborators were everywhere.

I'd suggest that government meddling in the affairs of people within our shores also lacks efficacy.

That's not what he meant.

Let's hope the Saudis overplay their hand before they get the weapons they paid for.

Apparently no contracts have been signed. Letters of intent have been exchanged.

As for Turkey supporting Qatar, keep in mind Turkey has held, not so long ago, joint military exercises with, of all people, Israel. Middle East politics is complicated... I read on BBC today a rumor that the Saudis want to shut down Qatar-based Al Jazeera news agency (too much press given to democratic voices is the reason).

Sounds like it's high time for me to grab my ankles!

I expect something will be worked out in S. Korea and Qatar, but even if things are patched up, downside potential is demonstrated. American "trouble at the top" has given other actors, at the very least, more room to maneuver.

How many more bullets to dodge?

Bullets to dodge? So Korea decided to not have missile defense. They didn't have it before, they don't now. Far more momentous would be if China started buying Nork coal. North Korea has shot more missiles towards Japan in any case.

As for Qatar the characteristic ally in the Middle East plays both sides trying to get the US to bail them out all the while exporting their ugliness. That is what Qatar did, and they were called on it. Maybe someone else won't be so silly.

Nothing we have seen so far is anywhere as blithering stupid as what Obama did. By this time on his presidency he had thrown the democracy movement in Iran to the wolves.

Some of you just love to rant and free associate with contradiction.

Test flights "towards"?

Trump called Qatar an important ally 2 weeks ago.

Did you actually want Obama to invade and institute regime change in Iran?

It was only a start of the stupidity, ending with defining the catastrophe of what is the Middle East today with Isis, the refugee crisis, etc.

So far this century we have seen two presidents with different strategies, neither of them particularly successful. Here we have a third doing something different. So far he hasn't committed to a multi trillion dollar occupation, nor convinced everyone that he is easy to ignore. In his speech last month he plainly and clearly placed the responsibility in their laps. Obama saw everyone as victims, Trump sees them as authors of their own misery. I think that is far more conducive to advancement.

It is early days, but Trump would have to try really hard to be as bad as his two predecessors.

How does that explain Trump reversing himself twice in a week?


I don't think trump does anything related to a strategy whatsoever. I'm pretty sure he doesn't know where Qatar is on a map, or really what the Muslim Brotherhood even is.

On the other hand, the previous strategies were so insane that maybe a human random policy generator would be better. Which is basically what we elected.

"I would say that the expected return from hosting such bases just fell dramatically."

It was stupid to have the base there in the first place.

Same with the 5th Fleet HQ in Baharain.


Qatar is a leading sponsor of terror*. Among other things, it sheltered Hamas leaders and funds Al Quada's propaganda arm.

More broadly, these are unstable authoritarian countries.

*Yes, I know many Saudis do the same.

So then...why?

Its dangerous to have major bases in unstable authoritarian countries that are in conflict with other authoritarian countries.

Qatar supports our enemies and we have a base there. Does not seem like a good situation.

Well its built now, it's a sunk cost. Why not just switch sides so that Qatar Supports our allies?

I hate all the terrorism that Iran has brought upon us recently. And electing hardliner Muslim fundamentalists the last two elections doesn't really fluff my nutter either.

Oh well then i guess Obama should have acted like a global leader and not a fat, drunk baby with the nuclear codes and then maybe those bad things wouldnt have happened.

Or maybe we only have so much control over what other countries do, irrespective of our leader's actions.

"Meanwhile Qatar is engaging in talks with Turkey and Iran for emergency food and water supplies."

Time for the Saudis to invade.

Is this Bob from Ohio, or Ivan from Volga?

Nothing would throw the world economy into the dumpster faster than a war between the largest oil exporters. On the other hand the Russian economy would suddenly rank higher. Yay.

War, large & small, has raged in the MIdEast for the past century+... and the world economy/oil-exports has survived quite nicely. You are missing the big picture

I take it you are young now.

I was young then, and my dad told me to go wait an hour in line to buy gas. And then the other car. I was 16 and fine with that. I had wheels!

And then what happened? Did the country collapse into a endless depression never to see a drop of oil again? Or did the world markets respond to the higher prices and spur new oil exploration?

That page tells the story. Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford did not leave it to markets, no.

Gerald Ford, Republican, instituted the first fuel economy standards.

American fuel standards did not make oil appear in the north sea and gulf of mexico. *World* oil markets responded exactly how i described it, higher prices encouraged more oil exploitation.

You are playing a game, swapping the experience of different decades.

In the 1970s the American people and their government were so concerned that they set in place sweeping government actions for energy security. See more at

It is pre-fracking but excellent on history.

Yes, im looking at more than just the immediate aftermath. Historically the embargo was short term disruptive, but weakened the power of OPEC long term. Today, the present, there is little risk of an oil embargo because there are so many oil producers now and we have alternative fuels, alternative ways of making gas, and alternative ways of powering cars.

This isnt the 70s. And if the only lesson you want to learn comes from viewing only the narrow time period you choose and not the long term reality, then you are the one playing games.

There was more than one oil shock in the 1970s -

And as i said, this is not the 70's.

And you apparently have no recollection of the 1979 oil crisis triggered by the Iranian Oil embargo. The big picture is that most of the world depends on the importation of oil. The US is in a favorable position currently and has, I have read, about 8 years of oversupply before it falls back into the former position of net oil importer.

If all you ever consider is the immediate aftermath of the oil embargo then you would be correct. Long term, the oil embargo created a whole bunch of new oil exporting countries and ultimately broke the power of OPEC. If they want a repeat of that, especially with fracking technology taking off and battery powered cars hitting the market, then they are welcome to embargo away.

I was just commenting that if Turkey and Iran are going to aid Qatar, the time to act is before they can.

Trump has already been guided back to the historic US position that stability is in our interest. He has spoken to the Emir and offered to mediate a settlement with Saudi Arabia.

Is this like your whole bycycle rant from the other day on that other thread?

The income in Qatar is $150,000 per capita. With population explodiing in the region and most of the workers in Qatar imported from places like Pakistan and Bangladesh, why shouldn't there be a bloody, violent revolution? And why should the US serve as the Gurkha Contingent for the sybaritic ruling class in Qatar?

I have no sympathy for the al-Thani family. If the migrant workers revolt and mount the emir's head on a pitchfork, I would cheer.

However, that does not seem to be the situation. Rather, the al-Saud family seems to be attempting to extend suzerainty over Qatar. Anything and and everything the al-Thani family has done the Saudis have done worse and on a larger scale. I would much rather see them working at cross-purposes than one subjugated to the other.

Suzerainty is great. Have you been playing Civ VI or just have it in your back pocket?

Oil prices are low.

Revenues for Middle Eastern countries are declining.

We no longer need their oil.

We need to protect Qatar about as much we need to protect Venezuela.

Which means to the last drop?

Our president's rash and idiotic behavior puts every soldier in harm's way. I take that personally. Where's the muzzle and finger trap when you need one?

Like when he let the military use the MOAB in Afghanistan a while ago instead of expecting them to clear out the nest by hand?

One thinks that Democrats would learn that micromanaging wars from the White House doesn't work and gets lots of Americans killed for nothing.

Was Bush micromanaging when he got so many people killed in Iraq?

Giving the nod to a proxy war in Qatar with the Saudi's invading and Turkey / Iran swooping in for the rescue with a major US naval installation in the middle is plainly idiotic.

Air Force - 'The US Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, provides command and control of air power throughout Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and 17 other nations.

The base, which boasts one of the longest runways in the Persian Gulf at 12,500 feet, is a strategically important facility that can accommodate up to 120 aircraft.

In 2016, the base was used as staging ground to fly B-52 airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. Early in the Afghanistan campaign, F-16 fighters and E-8C Joint Stars reconnaissance planes that monitor ground units were based there, along with refueling tankers.'

Bahrain is where the Navy is

I wonder how one breaks an Iranian nuclear deal and credibly threatens to strike them if their are Iranian troops on the ground right next to the air base where you would strike them from.

Any role for the US in the world order evaporated when Reality Winner became the new face of the U S intelligence community. It was bad enough when it was Chelsea Manning. And judging by the rate at which the IC spawns fresh embarrassments, it will get much more worse before it gets better. At least after the UK elects Corbyn tomorrow we won't be all alone in the global rejects club.

The concern with "classified information", ie. whatever the bureaucracy wants to keep to itself, is strange. In a so-called democratic republic how can the citizens evaluate the performance of their elected and appointed if just about everything is classified? In fact, most of the classified information is already well-known to whomever the enemy of the moment might be, those in the dark are the taxpayers/voters. But, that's the bureaucracies work. The FBI won't release information to the CIA, the SEC won't deal with the IRS and it takes a FOIA law suit to get any information from Dept. of Agriculture.

Was it Trump's fault when Russia invaded and annexed large swathes of Ukraine?

Allowing instability on the Arabian Peninsula is Trump's brilliant way of spurring market forces to reduce greenhouse gases and encourage renewables rather than subjecting the nation to judicial regulation stemming from Paris Treaty lawsuits.

This is really about getting the 2022 World Cup to the USA, or (far less likely but more deserving) Australia. Maybe Sepp Blatter is up for a cabinet position. Or the Supreme Court? Perhaps an Emir?

You're right about the USA being non-deserving. The one time the USA hosted the World Cup I recall being stuck in a trolley in Frisco and the Irish fans puzzled I had no idea about the World Cup, except it's a soccer match held once every four years. Same thing happened with the Euro cup when Greece won it, unexpectedly, I had no clue they did.

Bonus trivia: they do suffer concussions in soccer and rugby, and probably should wear those old fashioned leather skullcap bicycle helmets but spectators don't like them as you look like a sissy.

Rugby players can and do wear head protection

Another perspective on ROK's relation with their northern family:

So now a staunch ally (KSA) is rattling sabers with another staunch ally (Qatar) leading another staunch ally (Turkey-NATO member and nuclear weapon host) to intervene with Iran (Great Satan) on the side of Qatar.

Maybe George Washington and John Quincy Adams had a point.

Trump has oil men and military men on his national security/foreign policy team, and I think they are solidly in the conventional thinking:

1. Europe and the EU project are in terminal decline, and will be increasingly less willing or able to intervene in the Middle East.
2. Oil still rules the globe. And the Sunnis, who have a lot of it, have made their peace with Israel.
3. Israel must be the strongest power in the region. Shia Islam and Iran threaten that status, so they and their allies (including Russia) are perennial enemies.

Qatar is notoriously the biggest funder of the Syrian rebels so maybe Trump is right and he's gotten the Saudis to see that permanent Wahabbist-fueled chaos in Syria is unacceptable. Or, there is some other feud going on which, due to the region's opaque governance, we will never know about.

If South Korea only wants two units and not four, let them have the two. It's (mostly) their millions of population at stake. Let them make the judgement call.

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