Intelligence Guidance: Week of Feb. 7, 201
Intelligence Guidance: Week of Feb. 7, 201
1. Greece: The Greek question has been moved to the top of the list. This really is not about Greece any more, but about the future of the European Union. A European country that is part of the eurozone is in deep financial trouble. So are Portugal and Spain. We have argued in the past that the EU was built for prosperity, but that its test would come in adversity. There are two ways out. One is to push the Greeks (and others) out of the eurozone, which is not likely to happen now. The other is to devise a solution to the financial problems. That will create a new differentiation in Europe between those countries that retain full control over their domestic life, and those that do not. This is because a bailout of Greece will certainly create some system of oversight, which will in turn create a model for other countries getting help, and two classes of EU members. Germany is the major player in this issue, given the needed resources and despite the fear of being seen as Europe’s major player. Bad memories are all around. But the focus must be on the Germans. Without them there is no solution, and it is hard to imagine that the eurozone will want to have its first major casualty just now. The answers are in Berlin.
My question is this: Will this bottom falling out strengthen the dollar? With the euro and the EU falling down perhaps the stock market will come back after this last fall today…
2. Ukraine: Opposition leader Viktor Yanukovich won the Ukrainian election. He is certainly the more pro-Russian candidate, and while Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko will likely claim foul, the election appears over. So the question now is, “What next?” The Western orientation of Ukraine is over, and the Russians have won a great victory. Belarus and Kazakhstan are moving in tandem with Russia. Georgia is increasingly isolated, and the Baltics increasingly nervous. The question to focus on is: What is the Russians’ next move? Do they lean back and wait, or push their advantage? And what do they do about the American Patriot missiles slated to be placed on the edge of Russian territory near Kaliningrad? Or Romania’s push for the U.S. ballistic missile defense system on its turf? We need to watch Moscow.
I guess the question remains.. Just how long will Russia wait to assert itself and will it be overt?
3. Iran: The Iranian crisis appears to be moving toward its long-awaited boil. The Iranians have made another offer, rejected by the Americans. The Russians and Chinese remain committed to continuing diplomacy — and opposed to sanctions. More aggressive sounds are coming out of the Israelis, but their resources for a military action are limited. The focus remains on Washington. U.S. President Barack Obama has made it clear that he is not prepared to accept an Iranian nuclear weapon, but he remains silent on what he plans to do. The silence does not mean much since — regardless of his course — he has nothing to say. Washington is crawling with all sorts of rumors — a major hobby in Washington — and they are completely unreliable. But still, at a certain point, silence will mean acquiescence to Iranian nuclear weapons. Doing nothing means acceptance will be difficult. It still seems to us that something will give soon. The focus is on Washington.
So, big O seems to be stymied on the Iranian nuke thing. I am afraid that this administration will allow the Iranians to have their way and we will be seeing Ahmed on some podium somewhere proclaiming that they have the “Iranian Bomb”
At this point I am sure that the Israelis will be locking and loading for a tussle with bunker busters. Of course, it is hard to tell where the wiley Iranians have the facilities built now. As we have little to no INTEL in the region that I know of it may be hard to find. Maybe the Mossad or Shin Bet have better sources?
In any case, keep your eyes on this one.. I suspect it will be acting up again soon.
4. Iraq: Violence is mounting in Iraq. The Sunnis are being pushed out by the Shia, and that is creating another crisis. So far there has been no discussion about delaying future U.S. military withdrawals. Obama wants U.S. troops to be out by this coming summer, but the United States has made commitments regarding the Sunnis’ security. The United States is using the same strategy in Afghanistan with the Taliban, so simply walking away seriously complicates efforts in Afghanistan. This is a potential crisis for Washington. It is interesting to examine the role that Iran is playing in this problem right now.
Well, we found out the hard way on just up and leaving with Afghanistan and really, we broke it, we bought it. The problem here is the whole tribal nature of the region. All of these crazy infights that have been going on since the dawn of time just won’t quit.
Of course as the report calls out, we need to be paying more attention to Afghanistan and less in Iraq, but, that may not be happening with all the silliness. So I expect more stop loss letters going out and eventually a re-surge in Iraq. This is especially the case since we need a wedge against Iran… It’s a cluster fuck.
I should also note here that the government in Iraq is about as trustworthy as the Afghani… Yay. We’re there for good I think. No matter what Big O has to say in the “hope” arena.
5. Venezuela: The country will stay on our watch list until the current crisis or morass — depending on how you want to describe it — sees some resolution. It can go from increased repression to an uprising. What is hardest to believe is that the Venezuelan situation will stay where it is.
Of course this fails to mention the whole call by Hugo to have people come in and help him with his wells. He seems to have horked his oil wells and needs to get them back online so, he has made calls to other countries. We will have to keep an eye on him like the report says. I am sure there is much more whackiness to come out of the south.