Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

Janine Davidson examines the art, politics, and business of American military power.

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Weekend Reader: Strategic Fishing Vessels, Russian “Invasion” of Ukraine and ISIS Articles Worth a Read

by Janine Davidson
August 22, 2014

A Vietnamese sinking boat (L) which was rammed and then sunk by Chinese vessels near disputed Paracels Islands, is seen near a Marine Guard ship (R) at Ly Son island of Vietnam's central Quang Ngai province May 29, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters)


Fishing vessels have become pawns in the South China Sea. China is using fishing vessels strategically—by creating blockades and moving into contested waters—without the risk of culpability that accompanies military movement.  This tactic isn’t new—dating back to the 1990s—but it is ratcheting up tension in the South China Sea, where other states have very few options available and the fishermen themselves will potentially pay the price.

Russian trucks have crossed the border and Ukraine says “invasion.” This morning reports indicate some of the Russian trucks poised on the border for over a week are now en route, though without the ICRC monitors and supposedly under rebel escort.  In the meantime, Ukraine claims they have taken possession of two Russian armored vehicles near Luhansk, purportedly abandoned by their drivers.  Russia denies this claim and has also shut down four McDonald’s restaurants for supposed health violations which is thought to be a political move in response to U.S. and international sanctions.  Russia has adopted similar policies towards other countries,even going so far as to embargo the import of Polish fruits and vegetables. The embargo has spurred Polish citizens to up their own consumption and post photos on social media captioned “an-apple-a-day-keeps-Putin-away”.

ISIS continues to grow stronger, prompting a flood of opinions on what the U.S. and the global community need to do to stop this abominable terrorist organization from further proliferating. A few short articles worth reading — Former Acting Director of CIA, and career spy, John McLaughlin’s “The End of the Beginning”, Recently retired Marine Corps General, John Allen’s “Destroy the Islamic State Now”, and Former Obama State Department Director of Policy Planning Anne Marie Slaughter’s “Don’t Fight in Iraq and Ignore Syria” —originally published in June this year.

All agree that  it is absolutely imperative that the pressure on ISIS not stop:  As Gen. Allen notes, “[the U.S.] remains the only nation on the planet capable of exerting the kind of strategic leadership, influence and strike capacity to deal with IS.” John McLaughlin reminds us all that ISIS has already surpassed Al Qaeda and achieved one of their key objectives— controlling territory.  With a boundary between Syria and Iraq that now only exists on a map, Slaughter poses a key question, “Why is the threat of ISIS in Iraq a sufficiently vital interest, but not the rise of ISIS in Syria?”

More ‘Lessons Learned’ from Al Qaeda. As Al Qaeda letters have previously indicated, terrorist organizations are more than happy to share lessons learned with like-minded organizations. Now AQAP is not only aligning itself with ISIS, but also offering some words of wisdom on evading drone strikes.

Weekend Reader Video Bonus: John Oliver on the increasing militarization of U.S. police forces.


Post a Comment 2 Comments

  • Posted by Mike M.

    Slaughter has been laughably wrong about this for more than a year. Had we followed her advice in Syria, ISIS would have had even faster and easier access to U.S. weapons and funding. As it stands, the existence of ISIS as any sort of powerful force in the world is the direct result of people like Slaughter supporting the invasion of Iraq and then supporting the use of U.S. funds and weapons to arm the Iraqi military as well as insurgencies throughout the Middle East. These are exactly the people we should not be listening to now.

  • Posted by Peter Duveen

    Unfortunately, various subterfuges used to shape the narratives on the Middle East and Ukraine have discredited the news media and government pronouncements. We do not know much about what is actually happening on the ground in either situation. When the death of a single journalist suddenly becomes a cause celebre for the allocation of billions of dollars in military resources, one questions whether the assistance of the mainstream media to promote such an outlook keys us in to the odd hand-in-glove relationship between media and government that has marginalizes both in the view of thoughtful observers.

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