Ukraine, Iraq and a black sea strategy of the USA
Material posted: Publication date: 11-09-2014

Currently, the United States lost his balance. They face challenges on the Syrian-Iraqi theater, as well as in Ukraine, and none of them have no clear answer. They have no idea how it will look success in each direction, what resources are willing to allocate to each of them and also would it be possible to cope with the possible consequences of defeat.

This kind of dilemma is not something unusual for a global power. The possibility of unexpected events due to the breadth of his interests and size of the powers, and these events, especially simultaneous calls in different areas, create uncertainty and confusion. Some degree of uncertainty, not lead to disaster, due to the geographical position and power of the United States, but this does not negate the need for a coherent and interrelated strategy, even if this strategy is easy care and letting events take their course. I'm not suggesting the latter strategy, but argue that at a certain stage of confusion have cleared up by itself, and must crystallize a clear intention. When this happens, the result will be the coherence of a new strategic map covering both conflicts.

The most important issue for US is the creation of a single integrated plan that takes into account the most pressing challenges. The starting point of this plan should be determining the theatre of operations, which would be connected enough geographically to make it possible interrelated political maneuvering and military planning. U.S. military doctrine clearly departed from the strategy to the simultaneous conduct of two wars. Perhaps operationally, it is difficult to fight with all enemies simultaneously, but in conceptual terms it is very important to think from the point of view of a balanced centre of gravity of operations. For me it is becoming increasingly obvious that this centre – the Black sea.

Ukraine and Syria — Iraq

Currently there are two active theatre of military action with broad potential significance. One of them is Ukraine, where the Russians launched a counter-offensive in the Crimea. Another is the region of Syria – Iraq, where the forces of the "Islamic state" launched an offensive, the immediate goal of which is to establish control over the regions of both countries, and the task-maximum – rule over the territory from the Levant to Iran.

In most aspects of the relationship between the two theaters there. Yes, the Russians remained a problem in the mountain Caucasus, and there are reports of Chechen advisers who help "Islamic state". In this sense, the Russians are not happy about what is happening in Syria and Iraq. At the same time, Russian is beneficial to all, leading the attention of the USA from Ukraine. In turn, in the long term the Islamic state must oppose Russia. However, his immediate problem is American power, so anything that distracts US, into the hands of Islamic state.

But compared to the Iraq-Syrian crisis, the Ukrainian crisis has a completely different political dynamics. The actions of the armed forces of Russia and the "Islamic state" in any case, are not coordinated, and, in the end, the victory of each of these parties would be contrary to the interests of the other. But the United States, which must carefully determine the point of application of the attention, political will and military power, both crisis must be addressed together. The Russians and the Islamic state can afford such a luxury, as the concentration of forces on one crisis. The United States must both engage and align them with each other.

When the United States tried to cope with the Ukrainian crisis, they were already in the process of limiting its involvement in middle Eastern Affairs. The Obama administration wants to create a unified Iraq without the jihadists, and that Russia has agreed with the Pro-Western orientation of Ukraine. However, she does not want to commit substantial military forces to either theater. Her dilemma is how to achieve their goals without risking. If she can't do this, what is the risk she will go or should go?

The principle policy of any country should be a rational strategy to minimise risk and create maximum influence. Following this logic, the goal of U.S. strategy should be to maintain the balance of power in the region through the use of allies and providing them with material support, trying where possible to avoid direct military involvement. The main thing – to provide support, eliminating the need for direct intervention.

On the Syrian-Iraqi theater, the United States moved from a strategy aimed at the creation of a unified state under secular Pro-Western forces management to search strategies of balance of power between the alawites and jihadists. In Iraq, the US sought a unity government in Baghdad, and are now trying to contain the Islamic state, using the minimum required U.S. forces and Kurdish, Shiite and some Sunni allies. If that doesn't work, then the U.S. strategy in Iraq will resemble a strategy in Syria, namely, the search strategy of balance of power between factions. Hardly right now there some other strategy. The American occupation of Iraq that began in 2003, has not led to a military solution, and it is still unknown whether it will be possible to repeat the 2003 year again. Any measures of a military nature must be undertaken in the expectation of a clear result and be based on reasonable expectations that the highlighted forces will be sufficient to achieve this result. Attempts to wishful thinking are unacceptable. In practice, it is unlikely that aviation and special operations forces on the ground will force the Islamic state to capitulate or bring it to collapse.

Ukraine certainly has a different dynamic. The United States saw the events in Ukraine or the possibility of demonstrating moral position, or a strategic blow to the national security of Russia. In any case, the result was the same: for the fundamental interests of Russia was created the problem, and the President of Russia Vladimir Putin in a precarious situation. His intelligence services completely failed in the task of prediction or control of events in Kiev, as well as raising a wide uprising in Eastern Ukraine. Moreover, the Ukrainians won the Russian supporters (despite the fact that the differences between supporters and Russian troops are becoming less and less significant). But it was obvious that the Russians were not about to just let Ukrainian reality has become a fait accompli. They had to counterattack. But even in this case, they will continue to shift away from the state in which they have an impact on Ukrainian politics, to the state in which they lose everything, except for a small part of Ukraine. Therefore, they will maintain a permanently aggressive attitude in trying to win back the lost.

The us strategy in Ukraine is emulating the strategy in Syria — Iraq. First, Washington is using its allies; secondly, it provides them with financial support; and, thirdly, it avoids direct military involvement. Both strategies assume that the main enemy — "Islamic state" in Syria — Iraq and Russia in Ukraine – is unable to organize a decisive attack, or that any has taken a decisive attack can be slowed down by air strikes. But for the success of the U.S. strategy requires consistent Ukrainian and Iraqi resistance to Russia and the "Islamic state", respectively. If the resistance will not arise or disappear, then the strategy will lose all meaning.

The United States put to dubious allies. And the outcome of current events is important in the long run. On the eve of the First and Second world wars, the U.S. strategy was to limit its participation to until to resolve the situation without a massive deployment of American forces would be impossible. During the cold war, the United States changed their strategy, depriving themselves of avenues of escape, at least for the part of the forces, and the result has improved. The United States is not invulnerable to external threats, although to develop these external threats in this case should be very rapidly. Intervention in the early stages was less costly than intervention at the last minute. Neither the Islamic state nor Russia do not pose such a threat to the United States, and, most likely, the regional balance of power will be able to hold them back. Otherwise, the crisis could escalate into a more direct threat to the United States. And the formation of regional balance of power requires a strenuous effort and taking on at least some of the risks.

The regional balance of power and the Black sea

In the absence of significant guarantees from the outside, rational step on the part of such countries as Romania, Hungary or Poland will meet Russia halfway. Fair or not, but such guarantees can give only the United States. The same can be said of the Shiites with the Kurds, which the United States has in recent years been abandoned, believing that they themselves can take care of myself.

The United States is the question of how to organise this support in a material and conceptual sense. There are two different and seemingly unrelated theater, and American power is limited. It seems that the situation excludes the possibility of providing credible guarantees. But in its development of the strategic concept the US should withdraw from the consideration of them as separate theatres in the side of the relationship to them as different aspects of one and the same theater – black sea.

Looking at the map, notice that the Black sea plays the role of a geographically cohesive Foundation of these territories. The black sea is the southern frontier of Ukraine, the European part of Russia and the Caucasus, where Russian forces, jihadists and Iranian power. Northern Syria and Iraq are less than 650 kilometers from the Black sea.

The U.S. North Atlantic strategy. They had a Caribbean strategy, Western-Pacific strategy, etc. this does not mean a simple naval strategy. Rather, this was understood to be the combined system of the projection of the force in which the strategic task of supply, troop transport and air support were assigned to the Navy. In addition, it involves placing your forces in such a configuration, in which one connection, or at least a command structure that could provide support in several ways.

The United States has a strategic problem that can be treated either as two unrelated problems, requiring exorbitant resources, or as a single integrated solution. It is true that the Russians and the Islamic state don't look at ourselves as part of a single theatre, but the boundaries of theatre operations for the U.S. does not come from opponents. The first step in building a strategy is a definition card in which the strategist to think in terms of unity of strength, and not separation, unity support, not separation. This allows the strategist to think about its regional relations as element of interrelated strategies.

Imagine for a moment that re-elected Russian intervention in the Caucasus that the jihadists withdrew from Chechnya and Dagestan to Georgia and Azerbaijan, or Iran decided to move North. The outcome of events in the Caucasus will be of great importance to the United States. As it stands strategic, when the decision-makers in the US seems incapable of conceptualization of the two strategic cash problems, the third such crisis could crush them. But thinking through the prism of security of what I call "Big pool of Black sea" will provide a basis for the solution of the thought experiment. Black sea strategy would have asked the significance of Georgia and the Eastern coast of the Black sea. More importantly, it would raise Azerbaijan to the position which he should occupy in American strategy. Without Azerbaijan Georgia weight small. Azerbaijan appears a counterweight to jihadists in the mountainous Caucasus (or at least buffer), since Azerbaijan is a logical "Eastern anchor" of the strategy of the Big Black sea.

Black sea strategy would also identify the two key partners of the United States. The first is Turkey. Besides Russia, Turkey is a major black sea power. She has interests in the entire pool "Big Black sea", namely, in Syria, Iraq, the Caucasus, Russia and Ukraine. From the standpoint of the black sea strategy, Turkey becomes one of the indispensable allies of the U.S., as its interests have common ground with the American. A precondition of this strategy will be to bring the American and Turkish policies, which implies that both countries will have to produce major political shifts. Explicitly focused on the Black sea strategy would put U.S.-Turkish relations to the forefront, and the inability to coordinate their positions would show both countries that they need to review their strategic relationships. So far the impression that U.S.-Turkish relationship based on the systematic withdrawal from a collision with reality. If Black sea is a Central element, an escape from reality, which is rarely useful in creating realistic strategies, would be difficult.

The Central position of Romania

The second critical country is Romania. The Montreux Convention prohibits the passage of unlimited naval forces in the Black sea through the Bosporus, controlled by Turkey. However, Romania is a black sea country, and restrictions are not applied to them, although the Navy submitted a few aging frigates with the support of the half-dozen corvettes. Apart from the fact that Romania is a potential base for aircraft in the region, including in Ukraine, support for the building of Romania's significant naval forces on the Black sea, with the prospect of inclusion into their composition amphibious ships, will create a deterrent forces of the Russians. Besides, it is so will change the situation on the Black sea, which will push Turkey to cooperate with Romania and thereby with the United States. The traditional structure of NATO can survive this evolution, though most NATO countries has nothing to do with the problems facing the Black sea basin. No matter what the outcome of the drama of Syria — Iraq, it is secondary in comparison with the future of Russia's relations with Ukraine and the European Peninsula. Poland acts as the anchor of the North European plain, but while the scene is the Black sea, and this makes Romania a very important partner on the European Peninsula. It is the first to feel the pressure, if Russia will restore its position in Ukraine.

I have often wrote about the appearance (and the inevitability of appearance) of the Alliance based on the concept of Intermarium — the inter-seas movement. He would have stretched from the Baltic to the Black sea and would represent a Union whose purpose is the containment of a newly active Russia. I imagined this Alliance stretching westward from the Caspian sea and captured Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Looms line Poland-Romania. It seems obvious that, taking into account the developments on both sides of the Black sea, will appear and the remaining part of this line.

The United States should adopt a policy of cold war. It consisted of four elements. First, the allies expected that they will provide the geographical Foundation of defense and substantial forces sufficient to respond to threats. Secondly, the U.S. should provide military and economic assistance, necessary to support this structure. Third, the US would pre-allocate some forces as the guarantor of the US obligations and its sources of direct support. And fourth, Washington was to guarantee the absolute commitment of all U.S. forces to defending allies, although the need of guarantee you never do.

Given the conceptual division of the region into discrete theaters, the uncertain Alliance structure in the greater black sea basin, which are the United States, does not meet the objectives of providing mutual support, neither needs the US in implementing a consistent policy in the region. The United States is providing aid, but again on a temporary basis. Some U.S. forces taking part in the events, but there is no answer to the question, what is their mission, whether they are in the right place, and what is the purpose of the regional policy.

Thus, the American policy at the moment is inconsistency. "Black sea strategy" – a simple name but sometimes the name is sufficient to focus strategic thinking. As long as the United States think in relation to Ukraine and Syria with Iraq, as if they are on different planets, the economy of effort that requires a coherent strategy would not be achieved. View of the Black sea as the Central element of the unified diverse and extensive region, can give coherence to American thinking. Although wars are not won and have not been prevented by a simple reference of strategic concepts, value has everything that ensures consistency of the American strategy.

The pool is Large of the Black sea, taken in a broad sense, has become the object of military-political activity in the United States. He's just not perceived as such in military, political, or even public and media assessments. But should be. You need to bring the perception in line with fast-paced reality.

George Friedman


Tags: USA , Near East , Ukraina , Iraq