Update – 2 December 2014

The past few weeks offered no major changes in strategic outlook for the US.  The Middle East continues its slow religious war between Sunni and Shia.  The North Korean leader continues to reshuffle the positions of power at the top by adding his sister to the mix.  While China’s leader Xi continues with his power consolidation under the guise of anti-corruption movement.  The most interesting news this week came from Russia where the economy is now predicted to enter recession, according to Russian Economic Ministry.  While here at home Secretary Hagel resigned.

With regards to Middle East the “50,000 ghost soldiers” on the payroll of Iraqi army as disclosed this week should serve as another warning flag to the US foreign policy decision makers.  This is just the latest evidence of Iraqi corruption and incompetence.  I wonder how those advocating continued US presence think we could stop something such as this from happening?  The Iraqi government and armed forces do not deserve our help in their current form.  All we are doing with our aid is enabling the continued corruption as demonstrated by the ghost soldiers on the payroll.  If Iraq actually had those 50,000 extra soldiers, maybe they would not have been pushed back as far this past June.  Our continued involvement will add no impetus for Iraqis’ to change their behavior.  And why should they.  They rob and squander their country’s wealth and no matter what US rides to the rescue.  We should let them fight for their own country.  If they are incapable of doing so, then they don’t deserve to have it.

In the US, the resignation of the SECDEF will change nothing in our strategic outlook.  No SECDEF in recent memory actually enforced accountability for performance in combat and the chance that the new SECDEF will do so is extremely low.  But as they say, never say never.  It would also be interesting to see if the new SECDEF will recommend a change in strategy or if we will continue with our never ending war.

The last interesting tidbit of new is regarding Russian strategic situation.  In summary, since last summer Russia has been put under sanctions, kicked out of G8, and now the economy is entering a recession.  All of which could lead to widespread anti Putin protests.  And in return Russians annexed Crimea, where they already had a naval presence for the next 30 years and possible two new statelets in Eastern Ukraine.  Which only makes that clear, that anyone who thought the Putin is some kind of strategic genius, is greatly mistaken.  Based on what has happened, it is clear Mr. Putin has no idea of what is actually good for Russian long term interests.  Instead every time he makes a move he seems to be digging further and further down into the hole.  I would be watching next year, when the Russian standards of living start to decrease, to see how population will react.  There might be some tough times in Mr. Putin’s future.