Monday, September 18, 2017


The Swiss Institute for Peace and Energy Research (SIPER) recently created a series of maps depicting the foreign military installations of five nations with large defense budgets. The five nations are:

  1. The United States: Spending $611 billion in defense with 587 military bases in 42 other nations in addition to the 4.154 bases in the US and 114 bases in US overseas territories. See also our US Combatant Commands map post and see how the US views the world militarily. 
  2. France: The French have military bases in 11 foreign nations, most of which are located in former west African French colonies. France, however, also has a presence in French Guyana (South America), Germany, and, oddly, in the United Arab Emirates. See also our Francophone map post.
  3. The United Kingdom: Like the French, British military bases may be found in eleven foreign nations. Unlike the more concentrated French presence in west Africa, however, British bases are found in a more scattered form across the globe. See also our British Empire map post.  
  4. Russia: Military bases belonging to Russia are present in 9 other nations, most of which are located along Russia's periphery. These include: Armenia (2 bases), Belarus (4 bases), Kazakhstan (4 basess), Kyrgyzstan (1 base) , and Tajikistan (7 bases). There is also a Russian presence in breakaway regions of Transnistria (Moldova), South Ossetia and Abkhazia (Georgia). Only Syria and Vietnam are host to Russian bases further afield. See also our Russian Geopolitics map post.
  5. China: China's only military base outside of China is found in Djibouti at the mouth of the Bab-el-Mandeb, a geostrategic location at the southern end of the Red Sea. See also our Geostrategic choke points map
Given the minimal fixed military presence of both Russia and China, the neoconservative and growing liberal concerns regarding these nations seem over-estimated. Vietnam aside, the maps reveal Russia's primary concern with its immediate borders and with the protection of Christians in the Mideast. China also focuses on its periphery, seeing the particularly growing American presence in southern and eastern Asia as an encircling threat.   

To view all five maps, along with a bonus map depicting an overlap of Russian and American bases, please read this excellent map post from Strange Maps.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

ANTIETAM: America's Bloodiest Day

September 17, 2017 - just shy of one week after 9/11 - marks the 155th anniversary of the bloodiest day in American history. It was on this day in 1862 that General Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the north was turned back, Confederate recognition by Britain and France was thwarted, and the Emancipation Proclamation was ensured. The cost of this was around 23,000 American casualties, almost 4,000 of which were killed in combat. In comparison, 9/11 witnessed the deaths of 2,996 while some 80,000 Russian and French casualties resulted from the single day Battle of Borodino in 1812.

The Battle of Antietam followed a string of Confederate victories led by the newly appointed General Lee beginning in late June of 1862. In a period of one week, Lee won a series of stunning battles that drove the Union Army back from the gates of Richmond. In late August, Lee followed up his opening victories with the Battle of Second Bull Run, located south of Washington DC. In another decisive win, Lee almost outflanked and destroyed the Union Army as it withdrew over Bull Run.

With these victories in hand, Lee decided it was time to take the fight north.

As he would do in the Gettysburg campaign, Lee marched his army nearer to the mountains in northwest Virginia, using them as a screen to cover his forces moving north. Believing the Union commander, General McClellan, to be a slow and cautious leader, Lee took the risk of dividing his forces on the march. While Lee's estimation of McClellan was accurate, Lee did not know that an order containing his marching plans was accidentally discovered by Union forces. With Lee's marching orders in hand, there was little stopping McClellan from attacking the Confederate army piecemeal, and thus bring an end to the war.

McClellan, however, failed to take advantage of Lee's mistake. As he began his attack, McClellan's advance actually drove Lee's disparate forces towards one another. Their final position, however, found the Confederate army sandwiched between the large Potomac River behind them and the Antietam Creek in front of them.

 Unable to rapidly retreat across the Potomac, such a situation could prove disastrous to the army should they lose the battle ahead. What's more, Lee with 40,000 men was far outnumbered by McClellan's 80,000. One large push forward with all his troops should have led to the destruction of Lee's forces.

The Battle of Antietam ended in a tactical draw. However, the repulsion of  General Lee's invasion into the North forcing his return to Virginia, was a strategic win for the Union. It was the most significant victory of the war in terms of American foreign policy objectives.  Some argue that Antietam, not Gettysburg, was the turning point in the war. Why did McClellan fail to destroy Lee at Antietam? We invite our readers to watch this short 4-minute video explaining the battle. We can summarize Antietam by describing McClellan's strategy as a rolling attack on Confederate lines from north to south (see map at left). Fighting commenced in the morning at a cornfield at the north end of the battle, then passed further south to an area called the West Woods. From here the action moved to a sunken dirt road now known as the Bloody Lane. Further south it seemed as though the tide turned as Union forces crossed the large stone bridge, pouring troops around Lee's southern (right) flank. Last minute Confederate reinforcements, however, pushed back Union forces and thus brought the battle to an end.

Antietam proved that Lee wasn't invincible - and with Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, the war was increasingly tied to the moral fight against racial slavery. Despite their need for Southern cotton, neither Britain nor France - both of which condemned slavery - would be giving their support to the slave-holding South.

Although the war would drag on for another three deadly years, the blood spilled in war against racial slavery would providentially reflect slavery's grim death toll. For the six million African slaves that died in the Atlantic crossings, one-tenth of that number - 600,000 - is the estimated number of American dead during the Civil War. From Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address:
"...if God wills that [the Civil War] continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'"

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Religion & Geopolitics Review: Saturday, September 16

by Dr. David Pence and A. Joseph Lynch

The complete interview of presidential advisor Steve Bannon with Charlie Rose of CBS is very worthwhile. The TV version highlighted an unpleasant side of Mr. Rose who has a well deserved  reputation as a prepared interviewer who lets his guests talk. This longer version shows Rose as a better interviewer because he allows much more uninterrupted time for Mr. Bannon to display his vigorous intelligence.  On the TV version, Mr. Bannon said the American bishops had been "terrible on DACA" with their reflexive opposition to Trump's rescinding  President Obama's executive order preventing children of illegal immigrants from deportation.  President Trump has signaled clearly he wants immigration reform to be done by law not executive order. Only this approach will lead to a reform that can lead to citizenship for some, deportation for others and an end to de facto open borders. Sanctuary cities and states display a depressing willingness  to accept as permanent an immigrant class of humans as a labor force and recipient of public services but not fellow citizens. Bannon correctly called the American bishops self serving for favoring unrestricted Catholic immigrants as a remedy to membership problems inside the Church caused by their own sins.
The Jesuit, James Martin, continues his campaign for mainstreaming homosexuality within the Catholic Church and he is willing to play dirty with those who oppose him.   Even the vigorous opposition of Austin Ruse at Crisis magazine though has not fully named the problem represented by the likes of Jim Martin in the American Catholic Church. Normalizing homosexuality is not aimed at comforting an effeminate teen who is part of "All our Children". Martin's media blitz is meant to obfuscate the role of the  homosexual subculture within the Catholic priesthood and episcopacy that allowed the sexual abuse of teen age males from Guam to Chicago in the last century.  This includes whole provinces of Jesuits dominated by the lavender psychology. Martin's homosexual campaign is not about protecting that confused vulnerable fifteen year old. It is the strident campaign of well fed and highly placed 50 to 60 year olds who seek to protect the perch of chicken hawks who are secretly  panicking with fear at the wrath of real reform. The all male clergy of the Catholic Church should be a light to the nations as a public fraternity of men under God. They should be a masculine witness for the interracial brotherhood( the agreement among adult males that will socialize the young males) needed to calm our cities. They should stand as the bishops at the Second Vatican Council said for fraternity among nations as the Christian alternative to the Darwinism of perpetual war drums. Male relationships and personality structures are crucial to building public tranquility in our cities and nations.  The "pansy" is not a public man of authority and community. He is a male but he is not doing his duty as a man. That is why "pansy" is an insult that serious public men may hurl at a self indulgent deceiver. James Martin and many of his fellow Jesuits hold a personal conception of brotherly love which is incest. This is not the missionary brotherly love that Christ inaugurated with his apostles under Peter. It is not the courageous brotherly love that the martyr saints of this day(Sept 16) Cornelius and Cyprian spoke of as they were killed for the new public Kingdom of the Christian movement. Hopefully Catholic priests and laymen will learn to speak as clearly and profoundly about the corruption of the James Martin/Judas priests as Mr. Bannon speaks about the nature of the corrupt elite he is challenging.  


WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE? As the 500th anniversary of the Reformation draws near, a Pew Research Center survey asked Protestants what divides them from Catholics. While evangelicals score higher, a majority of Protestants can't tell the difference. (Bonus: Can you tell the difference? Take the quiz by following the link).

THE HOMOSEXUAL LOBBY IN THE CHURCH - SOME NAMES THAT KEEP RESURFACING EVEN FROM THE DEAD: A tribute to Italian Cardinal Martini from Canadian priest, Fr Rosica. Two characters to watch; one is dead. From the LA Times obituary of Cardinal Martini in 2012: "For years, Martini had been Europe's most prominent liberal cardinal, frequently voicing openness on such divisive church issues as priestly celibacy, homosexuality and the use of condoms to fight AIDS."

SECULAR JEWS AND PRACTICING CATHOLICS - IT'S GETTING UGLY: Can you be a practicing Catholic and a Judge? Some Democrats are seeing the contradiction. Dianne Feinstein was clear in the link above. Bernie Sanders went after an evangelical. Al Franken jumped the same lady Catholic judge that Feinstein attacked. In a wonderful compliment, Senator Feinstein told the Catholic woman, "The dogma lives loudly within you."  If only Christian men who believe in the brotherhood of all men and the local brotherhoods of our own nations could live so well.

SERVING MASS CAN LEAD TO PRIESTLY VOCATIONS: Fr. Scott Wallisch, Vocations Director of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, calls on archdiocesan priests and server trainers to encourage their male high school servers to join the Knights of St. Tarcisius. Founded by AoA's A. Joseph Lynch, the Knights of St. Tarcisius forms young men as servers as they pass through "four stages of knighthood... experience true Catholic fraternity... [while] discerning the priesthood."

AQUINAS ON BEAUTY: "St. Thomas Aquinas does a good job of defining beauty: for things to be beautiful, they must have the three qualities of integrity, proportion, and clarity. "Integrity means that all the parts of an object present are where they belong, while proportion means that all of the parts are in right relationship to each other. Clarity means that something has a certain brightness, effulgence, or splendor so that the object’s integrity and proportion can capture our attention."



ISIS HEADS TO THE PHILIPPINES: As the war turns against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, its commanders now call on recruits to shift forces to the Philippines. With Duterte in power, ISIS is bound to have quite the fight on its hands.

ON IRAN: Tiara Parsi, a thinker who was very influential during the Obama administration gives a more historical and nuanced view of Iran than we might hear from Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham or Democrat Robert Menendez. This is a long but worthwhile interview introducing his work.

A VERY BAD IDEA - PROPOSED POLICY TO INCREASE US WAR EFFORTS AGAINST SHIITES OF YEMEN AND BAHRAIN: This is being done to give more military flexibility in responding to Iranian aggression. There are no two places in the world where the Saudi religious persecution of Shiites is more falsely presented as a war against Iran. Many US military leaders (especially Marines) have a deep hostility toward Iran whom they blame for the 1983 killing of 241 marines in Beirut. Good men are being played. Joining the Saudis in their Wahhabi hatred against Shiites will not avenge our brothers.

A review of terrorism and how it ends by the New Yorker's Robin Wright. A very interesting historical article but not very related to the Salafist war declared on 9/11. An ongoing problem among DC experts has been labeling this as a war against a tactic - "the war on terrorism".

ISRAEL BOMBS SYRIAPreemptive messages.

THE TWO EIDSThe end of Ramadan and the end of the Hajj (Pilgrimage). The yearly pilgrimage (the Hajj) and the yearly fasting month of  Ramadan both end with days of feast (Eid). The Hajj is an annual  5 day period when Muslims from all over the word return to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Hajj means "to journey" and the fulfillment of this duty is one of the five pillars of Islam.  It is a time to stone the devil, and remember the willingness of Ishmael to be sacrificed to do the will of God (Islam means submission to God). The days of the Hajj end with the Eid al Adha (Feast of sacrifice).  All Muslims, even those who do not do the pilgrimage that year, celebrate the Eid.

The end of the monthly fast of Ramadan is celebrated with the Eid al Fitr (Feast of breaking the fast). The month is marked by fasting all day from food and drink (including water). Self mortification is meant  to elevate the desire for God over the wants of the flesh.  The rigorous fast is also to engender empathy with the poor and hungry whose lack of food and drink is involuntary. Fasting and almsgiving are central to the month as are the daily prayers which cultivate a public consciousness of God.

THE NEXT FRONT IN THE MIDEAST COULD BE LEBANON WITH THE MOST UNAPOLOGETIC CHRISTIANS IN THE REGION: From Rod Dreher interview of Andrew Doran policy advisor of Defense of Christians:
RD: We have seen images recently of Christians returning to their badly damaged sanctuaries in Syria and Iraq. Has the worst passed for Middle Eastern Christians?

AD: The number of Christians in Iraq and Syria has gone from over three million combined fifteen years ago to less than a million today. This happened for many reasons.  One is the radicalization of Muslims through well-funded ideologies. The most pernicious of these ideologies is Wahhabism, which Saudi Arabia has spent untold billions to export globally for decades. Everywhere I go in the Middle East, Muslims and Christians alike ask, “Why isn’t America doing something to stop the Wahhabis? Don’t you know they’re your enemy and ours?” The petrol wealth and influence of the Gulf states has thus set the Muslim world back generations, if not centuries. Most of the violence against both Middle East Christians and Americans has come from this source, though I hasten to add that Iran and its proxies are also a serious threat. 
From a strictly political point of view, what do Americans not understand about the situation Christians in the Middle East face — not just in war zones, but elsewhere?

Americans probably don’t understand the extent to which their public servants in DC really don’t care. The foreign policy establishment, like the public culture in America, has a general contempt (often masquerading as indifference) for Christians. This is ironic because the Christians are the progressives of their societies in the Middle East.

Americans would probably be shocked at how unapologetically Christian and free Lebanon is. Lebanon is the closest thing to a Western country in the Arab world, and not only because of the lifestyle and prevalence of French and English. There are monasteries in the mountains, catacombs, statues of Jesus and Mary, Christian universities, Christian politicians, and above all a confidence in Christian culture that we’re losing in the West. This has rubbed off on non-Christians in Lebanon, giving the place a very moderate feel. (There are places one usually doesn’t go, of course, but think of all the places we never go in America because they’re unsafe—and far more dangerous than anything in Lebanon.) Put simply, the Christians of Lebanon don’t have the dhimmi mentality of a hostage, contingent people that sadly characterizes so many Christians in the Middle East. When you see Lebanon, you understand why it’s worth saving. Christians in places like Egypt and elsewhere will often point out that Lebanon gives them a model for equality and hope.

The problem isn’t the American people so much as it is Washington. There’s a clear chasm between the values of the American people and their elites. It’s important not only to make a moral argument, of course. IDC and its partner organizations make a case that it’s in American interests to protect and preserve Christian and other minority communities. Americans often think that humanitarian aid is the answer, and that is needed, but we also need policies that will protect Christians. If we can get that part right, no humanitarian aid will be needed.


ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA DON'T FORGET... South Korea is an actor. Their new leftist government has already been forced to display military exercises and renewed friendship with Japan in response to North Korean missile launches. At heart though the new president Moon Jae-in wants a radical new approach to reunifying his country. Best books on North Korea.


HOW CLOSE TO BOMBING NORTH KOREA WAS/IS THE US? Two thinkers we should not listen to: RALPH PETERS, JOHN BOLTON.  However, it is hard for us to see how this is going to be resolved without some kind of military action by President Trump.

THE RISK OF NUCLEAR WAR WITH NORTH KOREAA long, very informed article by Evan Osnos of the New Yorker.


RELIGION AND GLOBAL AFFAIRS IS NOT THE SAME AS RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: The office led by Shaun Casey (author of a book on The Making of a Catholic President) has been folded into another department. This is not progress.


BUDDHISTS CLEANSE MUSLIMS IN BURMA (MYNAMAR): White globalists lose a heroine. In Russia the Muslims protest the Burma expulsion. Russia allows a vigorous non jihadist Islamic culture. Burmese Buddhists close their "western door to Islamic expansion." Where are the protectors of Islam?

CITY STATES AND NATIONS: An author gets carried away in seeing an internet future of city states as the nations recede. The city states will not replace the nation state but they will become more autonomous regions of self governance. Consider the direct control municipalities of China.


CONSUMERS AND CENTURIONS: Is America becoming two subcultures?

NASHVILLE STATEMENT IS ABOUT ECOLOGY: Three Popes have taken the same view.

SOCIOBIOLOGY AND SEX ROLES: "The more an animal population tends toward acting together in a eusocial way, the more important are sexual differences in work roles to harmonize the common purposes of the group." The lowest form of physical life- the Bacteria- are asexual. The most developed and integrated social lives mark the eusocial organisms.  The social lives of bees and ants are built on hierarchy, sexual differentiation and parthenogenesis.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

September 14: The Triumph of the Cross

"Though He was in the form of God, 

Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. 

Rather He emptied Himself and took the form of a slave being born in the likeness of men. 

He humbled himself obediently accepting even death, death on a cross. 

Because of this God highly exalted Him and bestowed on him the name above every other name. 

So that at Jesus' name every knee shall bend in the heavens and on the earth and under the earth and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father: JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!"    



The Triumph of the Cross is the establishment of a new honor/shame code. The obedience of the Son -- filial piety -- conquered the disobedience of the Evil Angel and the first humans. Even more than the sacrificial love that Jesus shows for all of us in His death, it is His obedient love for His Father that is the driving dynamic of this event. Jesus obeys His Father and allows Himself to be publicly humiliated, with His mother close by as a participant in His suffering. Jesus had asked that this cup pass Him, but He submitted to the will of the Father. Obedience to a sacral order, not equality of station, is the road to Victory. This does not abolish honor codes but elevates a new King and incorporates the angels and martyrs in a new court of reputation. This does not do away with shaming and expulsion but dethrones the Prince of this world and scoffs at the glitter and glamour of sin.

The Triumph of the Cross and the Kingdom of God is established by entering into the sacramental order that flows from the side of the Pierced One. That sacramental order reconstitutes the human species as the Body of Christ. The sacramental order is built on a sacral brotherhood that Christ established to maintain His Presence and His sacrifice to the Father on earth throughout time. Through Christ's Church we are incorporated in the interpersonal love of the Trinity. As brothers in Christ we go forth to baptize the nations to effect the Kingdom of God and Triumph of the Cross. The fraternity of priests sustain the Body of Christ in the Eucharistic forms of local Church and earthly Kingdom. The laymen shape civic territorial circles of patriarchal fraternity and order - -some explicitly Christian; others patterned after other transcendental truths. Creating these concentric circles of ordered fraternity bring men into the formations that protect the Eucharistic acts of worship while preparing humanity for the final Coming and Triumph of the Lord.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

CONFUCIUS -- Mao's Red Guards reviled him as "The Number One Hooligan Old Kong"

Confucius (the Chinese call him Kongzi) lived 500 years before Christ. His teachings still influence almost a quarter of the earth's population.

In his philosophy he stressed order: "Look at nothing in defiance of ritual, listen to nothing in defiance of ritual, speak of nothing in defiance of ritual, never stir hand or foot in defiance of ritual."


"Of all virtues, filial piety is the first."
          (ancient Chinese saying)

What did Confucius call the most important relationship in a society? That between father and son.

"... no single Confucian teaching has been drummed more persistently into East Asian minds over the past 2,000 years than the sage's vision of the ideal family... Confucius forged a very strict pattern of hierarchical relations within families... The well-regulated Confucian family is built on the concept of filial piety, or xiao. Confucius believed if you were a child who revered your parents, you would also be a loyal citizen, an honorable gentleman, and a devoted spouse."

Assorted sayings of Confucius: 
  • "Good government consists in the ruler being a ruler, the minister being a minister, the father being a father, and the son being a son."
  • "When his father is alive, you observe a man's intentions. It is when the father is dead that you observe the man's actions. If for three years he makes no change from the ways of his father, he may be called filial." 
  • "Fathers cover up for their sons and sons cover up for their fathers. Uprightness is to be found in this." 
  • "Only be dutiful towards your parents and friendly towards your brothers, and you will be contributing to government." 

Chairman Mao despised Confucius. He "launched the most concerted assault on Confucius in Chinese history... A society once dominated by the great sage became ignorant of the man, his ideas, and his moral mission. Ceremonies venerating Confucius that had been a routine feature of Chinese life for almost two millennia were banned... 

"The Red Guards, mostly students, swept across China rooting out the 'four olds' -- old customs, old habits, old culture, and old thinking."

Now, with Mao's influence on the wane, China has come back to its senses. Its recent leaders are stressing tradition and the need to learn from Kongzi.

The temple in Qufu, home town of Confucius
(midway between Beijing and Shanghai)

"If a man takes no thought about what is distant, he will find sorrow near at hand." – Confucius

UPDATE: Speaking of the centrality of the Father/Son relationship, ponder once again the words of our Lord in the Gospel of St. John (chapter 14):
Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves."

Monday, September 11, 2017

SEPTEMBER 11: Remember, Reconsider, Redirect

by David Pence

It has been 16 years since 3,000 Americans died in the attacks of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. The New York firefighters and the passenger citizens who prevented the hijacker goals on Flight 93 remind us that a fighting citizenry and local police and firemen are always the primary defense in this asymmetric form of war. The natural response to an attack is for a people to assemble in natural protective relations to safeguard the group. This religious war will be fought by a religious people organized as a nation of protectors in every city and state. A return to God as a people and a renewal of our American national identity are essential elements in our defense. Reversing the asexual modern socialization patterns of young males is just as necessary. Our civc/political failure to link male maturation and patriotic protective duty has spawned, some effeminate and others thuggish, hyper-individualized and ungrateful young males. The 9/11 attacks did bring an outpouring of gratitude and honor toward the soldier, policeman, and fireman -- the traditional male citizen protectors. Our young males need such clarity. Male maturation has nothing to do with color; it is about entering an adult male group united by religious and protective duty. Adolescents think they know it all but real men submit to spiritual authority. Boys are protected by women; grown up men protect women. To effectively protect, we must bond together as a fraternity of fathers. Reversing the cultural lessons of the sexual revolution by reasserting the spiritual meaning of manhood and national brotherhood is another essential response to 9/11.

From the beginning the US governmental response to the attack has misunderstood the religious animus that still motivates our enemies. This has led to strategic incoherence in picking our allies and isolating our enemies. The shock of 9/11 has misguided our tactics as well leading to a skewed emphasis on protecting airplane flights before securing our water supply and electrical grid. We have argued that we must understand the role of religion and nations in framing this conflict. We think there is much to be learned from both Barack Obama and his senior foreign policy advisor (scroll down for interview with Ben Rhodes within this link). They came to understand the failure of our own foreign policy establishment and the mistake in demonizing Shiite Iran when we are fighting a branch of Sunni Islam fostered by Saudi Arabia. This understanding has been deliberately obfuscated by Israeli and Saudi forces who wish to turn the war on terror into a war against Iran. A significant reinforcement  of their narrative is the US Marine memory of Oct 23, 1983. For many soldiers  the Iran/Syrian/ Hezbollah inspired bombing of Marine barracks in Beirut was the "real beginning of global Islamic terrorism." The event was part of the 1982 Lebanon, PLO, Israeli war in which US troops were inserted with no definitive military goals for the forces themselves. There is a great lesson to learn from our soldiers' deaths in Beirut. That lesson is not that Iran is the chief exporter of terrorism in the world.    

The war in Afghanistan is a different theatre than the struggle in the Mideast. But like the fight against ISIS in the Mideast, we will need Iran and Russia as well as India and China in helping bring negotiated peace in Afghanistan. (Scroll to Islam and Mideast in this link for good review of Afghanistan conflict).

The war of the Saudis against the Houthi of Yemen has weakened our fight against AQAP in Yemen. This is directly analogous to our long involvement in aiding jihadist Sunnis against the Assad government in Syria. Our country is an ally in the religious persecution of Shiites which animates so much of Muhammed bin Salman's new more aggressive Saudi foreign policy. This aggression is part of the young Crown Prince's effort to win favor with the Wahhabi clergy in pressing his claims for succession to the throne against his more competent elder kinsmen. The Crown Prince is also the force behind the anti-Qatar campaign (scroll to new Crown Prince). The strategic goals of the US have been obfuscated by confusing them with the goals of our traditional allies. Pakistan in South Asia, as well as Saudi Arabia and Israel in the Mideast have different goals and different enemies than the U.S.

President Trump has advocated an 'America first' foreign policy. Now we need citizens, journalists, scholars -- but most of all the US Senate -- to debate fully what that means. We owe clarity of strategy to our dead, our military, and the young men we are socializing to continue the protection.   This must include trying to resolve the almost 40-year-old Iran/Israeli war which is being confused with the global war against salafist jihadists. (See this excellent summary of Israel's geopolitical stance in which ISIS as a buffer is preferred to a stabilization of Shia-led governments in Iran, Iraq or Syria.)