Thursday, September 1, 2016

Fall Weiß

At dawn on September 1st, Luftwaffe struck at Polish airfields destroying most of the planes before they could get off the ground. With control of the skies assured wicked Wehrmacht began the systematic destruction of railroads and the few communications nodes. From the very outset the Poles mobilization plan was seriously compromised. Before the day ended, chaos reigned at Polish Army HQ.

The first phase of the campaign, fought on the frontiers was over by September 5th and the morning of the 7th found reconnaissance elements of Army Group South’s 10th Army just 36 miles southwest of Warsaw. Meanwhile, also on September 5th, vBock’s Army Group North had cut across the corridor and turned southeast for Warsaw. Units of the 3rd Army reached the banks of the River Narew on September 7th, just 25 miles north of Warsaw. The fast moving armored panzer 'Schwerpunkts' of blitzing attacks left the immobile Polish armies cut up, surrounded and out of supply.

Meanwhile the closing of the inner ring at Warsaw witnessed some tough fighting as the Polish Poznan Army, bypassed in the first week of the war, charged heading and attacked toward Warsaw to the southeast. The German 8th and 10th Armies were put to the test as they were forced to turn some divisions completely around to meet the desperate Polish assault. In the end the gallant attack fell short and by September 19th the Poznan Army surrendered some 100,000 men and Poland’s last intact army.

As this was occurring the second, more deeper envelopment led by General Heinz Guderian’s panzers took the city of Brest-Litovsk on September 17th, and continued past the city where they made contact with the 10th Army spearhead at Wlodowa 30 miles to the south.

The war, for all practical purposes was over by September 17th. Lvov surrendered on the 19th. Warsaw held out until September 27th, gave up the ghost and the last organized resistance ended October 6th with the surrender of 17,000 Polish soldiers at Kock.

The campaign had lasted less than two months and ended in the destruction of the Polish Army and the fourth partition of Poland. German losses were surprisingly heavy considering the brevity of the campaign.

Deutsch casualties total some 48,000 of which 16,000 were killed. Fully one quarter of the panzers the German committed to battle were lost to Polish anti-panzer guns.  Luftwaffe was forced to trash  550 aircraft.

It was not a cheap victory by any means but it did confirm to the generals of  Wehrmacht that the military machine that they had built was indeed the best in the world and worthy of their confidence.

Reaction around the world on 1 Sept 1939?

France - mobilized her military and demanded Deutschland withdraw from Poland.

Great Britain - mobilized her army and RAF (the Navy was mobilized the day before) and demanded Germany withdraw from Poland.

Italy - Announced no military plans or initiatives.

Russia - warned concern for civilian population of Russian descent and fear of Polish bandits would warrant armed intervention. She also mobilized her military.

Great Satan - Demanded a halt of indescriminate bombing of towns and civilians.

Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Swiss - announced neutrality

Deutschland - "Determined to eliminate insecurity and perpetual civil war from the borders of the Reich"

Poland - appealed to Great Britain and France to intervene in honour of the Mutual Assistance Treaty of 1939.

1 September is the day an old world order was violently overturned, chock full of lessons, promises and harbingers that echo still today.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Syria Stuck

Have you ever wondered why the Syrian conflict has dragged on for so long?

At the core of the struggle is that local Syrian actors have so far been unable and unwilling to agree on an acceptable and sustainable way to end their conflict.

And as attested to by the recent back-and-forth struggle over the fate of Aleppo -- Syria’s second largest city -- none of those actors seem powerful enough to best the others. None can restore the old order, and none can create a new order -- not even with the help of outside powers. 

So what about those outside powers?   

There’s a tendency to blame the United States in the main for failing to act more assertively. But there are any number of other participants -- Russia, Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia -- who instead of showing a willingness to work together, show little beyond narrow self-interest when it comes to addressing the two central questions that define the Syrian civil war: what to do about Bashar Assad, and how to deal with the Islamic State.

Civil wars usually end in one of a few well-defined ways: one party gains a decisive advantage; all sides exhaust themselves and are open to compromise; or outside powers intercede to tip the balance. 

None of these outcomes is possible in Syria right now, and the outside powers only seem to complicate matters. All have different agendas, and some of those agendas align better with the others than with Washington’s priorities. Indeed, the administration of President Barack Obama seems like the odd man out -- committed to the defeat of ISIS and to a vision of Syria that does not appeal to its counterparts. 

 Without an unlikely congruence among the outside actors, the conflict will go on, to America’s disadvantage.
Russia is perhaps the most dynamic of the outside players. President Vladimir Putin’s military intervention, launched in September 2015, clearly reflects his desire to enhance Russia’s influence and leverage on the international stage while blocking American wishes and securing the Assad regime’s place in whatever arrangements are to outline the new Syria.   

Russia’s role in the siege of Aleppo makes it pretty clear that Moscow is both supporting the Assad regime’s efforts to regain control over the city and at the same time trying to persuade the Americans that in exchange for restraining Assad, Washington should align with Moscow in striking radical Islamist groups such as Fatah al-Sham -- formerly Jabhat al-Nusra -- long a Russian core priority.   

Moscow is also backing Kurdish forces in the struggle for Aleppo -- an indication that Moscow understands that the Kurds may well expand their territorial ambitions in northern Syria. In short, Russia has a game plan for Syria, and it’s not one that envisions a unified country under the control of the Sunni majority without Assad or at least an Alawite successor.

Iran seems even more determined to oppose any solution that doesn’t involve a key role for Assad’s regime. Tehran laid the groundwork for Assad’s forces to move on Aleppo by deploying units of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and mobilizing Shiite militias.

For now, Russian and Iranian goals have aligned to play a major role in keeping Assad in power. That Russia is now flying bombing runs against Assad's opponents from Iranian airbases drives home that point. We don’t know whether Tehran believes a military victory for Assad in Aleppo and beyond is possible. But what is evident is that Iran relies on the presence of a friendly Alawite regime in Syria, and views it as vital to strategic Iranian priorities: to the need to maintain its ties to Lebanon; not to see its window into the Arab-Israeli conflict closed; and to avoid encirclement by its Sunnis neighbors. Tehran is even more set on keeping Assad in power over part of Syria than is Moscow.

Turkey also has clear goals in Syria that depart from America’s. And the recent abortive coup will not make a U.S.-Turkish alignment any easier. The coup attempt will likely undermine the military’s readiness and preparedness and will discourage any major military involvement  against Assad or ISIS. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is focused on limiting Kurdish gains both at home and in Syria. And tensions with Washington over the presence in Pennsylvania of Mr. Erdogan’s archenemy, Fethullah Gulen, and the Obama administration’s support for the Syrian Kurds, will continue. Putin is already moving closer to Iran. Now, the United States should expect little help from Turkey in Syria -- and potentially a lot of trouble.

Saudi Arabia clearly is focused more on trying to weaken Assad rather than striking at ISIS. But Riyadh seems much more concerned with checking Iranian influence closer to home in Yemen than in making major contributions to the fight in Syria. The Saudis argue of course that getting rid of Assad would in fact be a blow to Tehran’s regional influence and reach. But bogged down in their campaign against the Houthis, there’s little the Saudis are prepared to do, outside of funneling money and weapons to Islamist groups battling Assad. Many of those groups are only one step removed from ISIS in their radical aims. Right now, given the numbers of civilians that Riyadh has killed in their airstrikes, Saudi Arabia is more concerned about its image in Yemen than in Syria.  

All of this leaves the United States isolated and alone. Washington’s efforts with Russia, Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia have not paid off in Syria yet.

Washington’s policy is focused on defeating ISIS and al-Nusra in Syria and trying as best it can to work with Moscow to find ways to tamp down the violence and create a stable political transition. Focusing primarily on an anti-ISIS agenda seems to be paying off. But surely Washington would also like to see Assad go. Indeed, as a recent interview I did with the NSC’s top Middle East hand Robert Malley suggests, the administration knows that without a solution to the Assad problem, defeating ISIS and creating anything like a stable state in Syria won’t be possible. Neither Russia nor Iran is willing to do that

Nor is the administration -- worried about getting too heavily involved in Syria militarily, confronting Russia, and mucking up the Iranian nuclear accord -- willing to play tough with Tehran and Moscow in order to induce a change in their policy. In other words, Washington won’t place direct U.S. military pressure on Assad or create no-fly zones to limit Russian and Syrian airstrikes.

This leaves the administration betwixt and between a number of powers that are willing to risk much in defense of their interests. More than likely, come January 2017, neither the Assad nor the ISIS files will be closed. Syria will still be a mess, and the next administration will be wrestling with powers in the country that it can neither contain nor influence.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

New Masters of Revolutionary Warfare?


Is the multi nom d'guerre'd ISIS, ISIL, IS, Caliphate crafting a revolution in warfare?

Two years after the fall of Iraq’s second largest city to the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh), there is still an alarming dissensus concerning their nature, strategy, and goals. Is it a nihilistic terrorist group, an apocalyptic death cult, an insurgency, a terrorist army, a proto-state, or some hybrid of these? Does the group really adopt Islamic principles, or is it a Sunni neo-Ba’athist restoration movement with genocidal proclivities? The confusion is not limited to academics, whose writings about the Islamic State are insightful yet rarely stray from singular research areas like ideology, economics, terrorism, religion, or regional studies. Even the US Special Forces commander tasked with countering the group in late 2014 admitted in a candid moment that he and his command did not understand “this movement.”

To examine the Islamic State’s adaptation of its own revolutionary war doctrine, a review of its original prescriptions is in order. The reasonable definition of People’s War: a form of irregular war that utilizes “peasant armies that are drawn upon for an integrated and protracted politico-military phase strategy of eventual state takeover. A shadow or proto-state is created in parallel to the pre-existing one being targeted for elimination.”

Mao, the first proponent and theorist of this type of warfare, believed that victory was only possible once the population is mobilized to support the guerillas, whose goal is to attack the enemy when advantaged and to shy away from conflict when not. The part time fighters and their supporters are to be indoctrinated in the political philosophy of the movement to motivate them to fight and persevere through a protracted struggle. The campaign progresses through three phases of blended guerilla activities and increasing conventional strength: the building/preservation phase, the expansion phase, and the decisive phase. These periods are fluid and conditions vary from location to location, usually dependent on enemy strength and efforts. The keys to success are developing experienced and disciplined soldiers that bond well with a supportive population, the utilization of a strong influence campaign with propaganda units at the lowest levels, and an integrated set of political goals that are synchronized with military efforts at all levels.

Revolutionary war is more than military action, since those who choose to utilize it blend “military, political, economic, social, and psychological” efforts to achieve their goals. The military objectives are two fold; a slow defeat of the government’s army as well as the use of terror to cripple the existing social organization, which before the conflict served to “restrict or minimize violence among the people.”

Once the violence reaches a certain level, these barriers collapse. Crenshaw noted in her study of revolutionary warfare in Algeria that terrorism almost always acts as a “principal instrument” in this form of political violence. This instrument is “not aimed, as war is, at the annihilation of the enemy’s coercive forces, but seeks to wound him politically and psychologically.” Finally, the movement taxes the population under its influence in order to fund operations and derive legitimacy for the shadow state.

The initial political agenda of the Islamic State movement was ambitious, with a goal of growing from just a few foreign fighters and local hosts to domination of the Iraqi resistance to the occupation. Zarqawi’s group had valuable experience in clandestine operations but had to outpace the reorganizing Ba’athists, rival Islamists, and a fledgling Iraqi government while battling a very capable foreign military coalition. Furthermore, unlike other groups who had various degrees of interest in power sharing with the national government, Zarqawi’s group maintained the revolutionary goal of replacing it with a Salafi influenced state run according to the “prophetic method.”

To accomplish this, the Islamic State’s political efforts were five-fold: it had to frustrate and weaken the growing power of the government and its security forces, recruit from rival resistance groups, foster an exaggerated perception of Sunni alienation, provoke an overreaction from Shia militias, and convince the United States to withdraw from Iraq.

Zarqawi’s small group began its military campaign with a strong notion of neutralizing the tremendous technological capabilities of the United States as observed first hand in Afghanistan in late 2001.[30] Ceding the day to day struggle (sniping and road side bombs) to local insurgent groups, Zarqawi’s group focused on high visibility attacks against symbolic targets using ‘precision guided’ suicide bombers and special operations that produced media attention and popularity among resistance sympathizers.[31] The end result of these actions would discredit the state’s authority and legitimacy, and divide elements of the population against each other.

This type of military strategy is summarized in the book Management of Strategy, written by al Qaeda strategist Abu Bakr Naji, and propagates a controversial and violent method for destroying both the government and society before starting anew.[32] Interestingly, the Islamic State media disputes the notion that this book was influential, writing

It is important to note that contrary to Western media claims, this book never defined the methodology of the mujahidin. The top Islamic State leadership – including Shaykh Abu Musab al Zarqawi – did not recommend al Suri’s book. As for the concise but beneficial 100 page book titled Management of Savagery by an unknown author who only went by the penname Abu Bakr Naji, then when Shaykh al Zarqawi read this book he commented, “it is as if the author knows what I’m planning.” Note: Although Naji’s book describes very precisely the overall strategy of the mujahidin, Naji fell into some errors in his discussions on issues related to the takfir of parties who forcefully resist the Shariah and its laws.

The expertise of jihadists from previous conflicts mixed with one of professional soldiers and intelligence professionals created a potent special operations capability in one other area: assassinations.[35] According to Lia, one al Suri Afghan lecture was titled: “terrorism is a religious duty, and assassination is a Prophetic tradition.”[36] The Islamic State created assassination brigades as early as 2004, in order to target Shia militias whose anti-Sunni activities often drove members to the movement.[37] Special brigades began to proliferate, targeting Iraqi Islamic Party (Muslim Brotherhood) members, communists, Iraqi politicians, judges, municipal employees, senior defense and police officials, poll workers, female spies, and later Sunni Awakening council leaders.

Eliminating enemies creates opportunities for access to the population, and the Islamic State was a frequent experimenter and innovator in the creation and structure of its influence campaign. While Abdullah Azzam’s use of propaganda to mobilize the Sunni ummah to come and fight in Afghanistan during the Soviet era was an inspiration, the Islamic State built on this precedent to integrate all of the lines of effort together: political, social, military, and economic. Ingram divided the strategic logic of the Islamic State’s media strategy into two distinct categories: one pragmatic and the other perceptual. Islamic State’s pragmatic appeals focused on stability, security, and economic means; its perceptual appeals highlight sectarian and ethnic divides while championing the group as the only viable protector of Sunni Muslims from a variety of threats.

An objective review of the evolution of the Islamic State makes it clear that its leaders have honed and largely perfected the synchronization and execution of Mao’s critical elements of revolutionary warfare. 

Mao’s army, once the Japanese invaders were gone, waged a smart campaign against a weak and corrupt regime before achieving success. The Vietnamese communists, facing a much tougher foe, eventually won unification through the use of a largely conventional invasion. 

In this case study, the Islamic State established a new sovereignty in large parts of two adjoining states within a 12-month period against a state supported by a regional power and a global hegemon.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Saudi Schizophrenia


The original Women Hating Whahabi Kingdom of Arabia is as much as a hot mess as Pakistan.

Actually, way more.

Check it...

The idea has become a commonplace: that Saudi Arabia’s export of the rigid, bigoted, patriarchal, fundamentalist strain of Islam known as Wahhabism has fueled global extremism and contributed to terrorism. As the Islamic State projects its menacing calls for violence into the West, directing or inspiring terrorist attacks in country after country, an old debate over Saudi influence on Islam has taken on new relevance.

In the realm of extremist Islam, the Saudis are “both the arsonists and the firefighters,” said William McCants, a Brookings Institution scholar. “They promote a very toxic form of Islam that draws sharp lines between a small number of true believers and everyone else, Muslim and non-Muslim,” he said, providing ideological fodder for violent jihadists.

Yet at the same time, “they’re our partners in counterterrorism,” said Mr. McCants, one of three dozen academics, government officials and experts on Islam from multiple countries interviewed for this article.

The reach of the Saudis has been stunning, touching nearly every country with a Muslim population, from the Gothenburg Mosque in Sweden to the King Faisal Mosque in Chad, from the King Fahad Mosque in Los Angeles to the Seoul Central Mosque in South Korea.

Not to mention places like, oh you know, Boston, Chattanooga and Riverside Cali.

Support has come from the Saudi government; the royal family; Saudi charities; and Saudi-sponsored organizations including the World Muslim League, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth and the International Islamic Relief Organization, providing the hardware of impressive edifices and the software of preaching and teaching.

And for a small minority in many countries, the exclusionary Saudi version of Sunni Islam, with its denigration of Jews and Christians, as well as of Muslims of Shiite, Sufi and other traditions, may have made some people vulnerable to the lure of Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and other violent jihadist groups.

Exhibit A may be Saudi Arabia itself, which produced not only Osama bin Laden, but also 15 of the 19 hijackers of Sept. 11, 2001; sent more suicide bombers than any other country to Iraq after the 2003 invasion; and has supplied more foreign fighters to the Islamic State, 2,500, than any country other than Tunisia.

Saudi authorities had executed 47 people in a single day on terrorism charges, 45 of them Saudi citizens. These people studied Islam for 10 or 15 years in Saudi Arabia. Is there a problem with the educational system?

When al Qaeda attacks in the kingdom awoke the monarchy to the danger it faced from militancy, Saudi Arabia has acted more aggressively to curtail preachers who call for violence, cut off terrorist financing and cooperate with Western intelligence to foil terrorist plots. 

From 2004 to 2012, 3,500 imams were fired for refusing to renounce extremist views, and another 20,000 went through retraining, according to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs — though the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom expressed skepticism that the training was really “instilling tolerance.”

Saturday, August 27, 2016


Ello Ebberdobby!

Yours truly has been busier than a one legged fellow at an assets kicking contest - so all apologies for being Absent W/Out Leave!

Be back up with full time fully crunkness here directly

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

War Crimes Tribunal For Islamic State

 "The Defense Rests"

The military campaign against the Islamic State has jelled, and ISIS defeats continue to mount. As shown in the ouster of Islamic State forces last week from Manbij in Syria and Sirte in Libya, the group’s fighters are now fleeing abroad or into the desert rather than fight to the death to hold untenable positions in cities and towns. Raqqa and Mosul will be next and at that point the war against ISIS in Syria and Iraq becomes a mopping-up operation, however bloody that may be.

Its morale broken and its administrative structures and military force collapsing, the ISIS operation is shifting from establishing a Muslim theocratic state and global authority to surviving as a collection of more or less coherent international terrorist networks. Across the world there may be even more terrorist attacks than before, but at a certain point jumping from one dismal assessment to another must give way to looking at the facts as they are. In the Middle East, numerous religious, ethnic, regional, and national conflicts remain to be addressed, but the Islamic State’s demise will be seen to be an event of historical consequence.

ISIS is the apotheosis of Islamist geopolitical jihad as launched by al-Qaeda in the late 1980s. It will have had a fearsome life, but its short-lived success is unlikely to be replicated, let alone surpassed. That Islamic State survives materially in some other, ultimately less unique and consequential form, is another matter. That other jihadist groups survive for the foreseeable future is also of lesser consequence. That the ideology of global jihad survives in a weakened form and still attracting certain numbers of recruits is also regrettable but not fundamental. Some fanaticisms need only time to burn themselves out.

The issue then is how to make the most of Islamic State’s destruction.

The greatest issue has to do with the present and future development of Islam in general, and Islam in the Arab world in particular. How the ISIS saga will be pondered and digested within Islam is an important element of world political and religious evolution.

A far from insignificant piece of that great debate involves what should be done with any ISIS leaders that are captured.

ISIS leaders must not escape accountability in some forum. Those responsible for Islamic State’s war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocidal depredations must not be allowed to simply disappear into prisons or be executed. ISIS should not be allowed to evaporate into historical oblivion.
The International Criminal Court, flawed as it may be, is the appropriate institution because its specific mission is to enforce U.N. covenants on these most heinous of crimes. And the very fact that the United States for its own specific reasons is not a party to the ICC treaty will lend legitimacy to the court’s jurisprudence. ICC cases are only brought to indictment and trial by its own Office of the Prosecutor, not by states.

Trying ISIS leaders at the ICC will furthermore demonstrate that religious war as well as war crimes committed for other reasons can be tried and judged as legal matters within the purview of agreed international law itself.

Dealing with ISIS legally as well as militarily will create a historical record of high importance. In the last analysis, the war against Islamic State is a matter of political will.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Did The Ayatollah Win?

Today, the 77-year-old ayatollah—who reportedly suffers from cancer—is seeking to cement his legacy and to shape the political transition that will occur once he is gone. The nuclear agreement provides him with the building blocks to do that, and for now, at least, Khamenei and his allies look to be the deal’s big winners. 

The next U.S. administration is likely to face an unhappy choice: to continue to work with Iran or to challenge an increasingly entrenched supreme leader and his Revolutionary Guard.

 To understand Khamenei’s perspective on the negotiations and the resulting deal, the best place to start is Iran’s nuclear program. The agreement requires Iran to accept key limitations: Previously, the country had nearly 20,000 centrifuge machines producing nuclear fuel and was on the cusp of possessing weapons-grade uranium. A plutonium-producing reactor was also nearly online. 

 Today, only 5,000 centrifuges are spinning, the plutonium-making reactor has been made inoperable, and most of Iran’s enriched uranium has been shipped out of the country. Iran also agreed to grant greater access to its nuclear sites to inspectors from the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to prevent the country from diverting fissile materials to banned military purposes.

Khamenei, however, doesn’t appear to share this view of the deal’s constraints. Just as Iran’s negotiators were agreeing to these terms in July 2014, the supreme leader delivered a speech about the nuclear program—without consulting his chief negotiator, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, according to U.S. and European officials. In the address, Khamenei said that his oil-rich country needed at least 100,000 centrifuges to power its civilian nuclear program in the coming decades. This was more than 20 times what the administration envisaged. 

Western diplomats wondered whether Iran’s diplomats really spoke for the supreme leader. 

Indeed, in recent weeks, Iranian officials have talked of their preparations to build 10 new nuclear reactors with Russian help. This will require a steady supply of nuclear fuel from centrifuges that will be allowed to go online in a decade.

 The Revolutionary Guard controls the program, and there’s a risk that in 10 or 15 years, they might decide to restart their weaponization activities.

 As for conventional military capabilities, the deal didn’t do much to curtail Iran’s ambitions. The supreme leader demanded a provision weakening a U.N. Security Council resolution that prohibits Tehran’s ballistic-missile development—and got it. He wanted the U.N. embargo lifted on Iran’s ability to buy or export conventional arms—and got it, in five years. He wanted to retain Iran’s ability to export arms—and the deal does nothing to interfere with that. 

 Finally, the nuclear deal also seems to have boosted Mr. Khamenei’s ability to influence the region. In the ornate former palaces and six-star hotels where the nuclear talks took place in Austria and Switzerland last year, U.S. and European officials talked optimistically about using the deal to stabilize a roiling Middle East. They hoped that Iran, the region’s great Shiite power, might play a constructive role in ending conflicts in Yemen, Iraq and, above all, Syria.

It hasn’t worked out that way. Even as the talks continued, Mr. Khamenei and his generals were plotting a much broader military campaign in Syria in partnership with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to European, Arab and Iranian officials. Starting in January 2015, the supreme leader’s top aides began a series of visits to the Kremlin to chart out a plan to bolster the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The result was a highly coordinated operation in Syria that began just weeks after the nuclear deal was completed. Mr. Putin’s air force has pounded Syrian rebels, bombing not just Sunni jihadists associated with Islamic State or al Qaeda but also U.S.-backed fighters. At the same time, Mr. Khamenei’s Revolutionary Guard mobilized thousands of soldiers and Shiite militiamen to launch a ground offensive, with Iranian troops fighting alongside militants from Hezbollah and other Shiite militias. 

The joint Iranian-Russian operation drove back Syrian rebels who had been advancing on the Assad regime’s stronghold on the Mediterranean coast, according to Arab and U.S. officials, and allowed the minority regime to retake large swaths of territory. The Kremlin announced this week that it has started launching airstrikes in Syria from Iranian territory.

 Khamenei has sworn off any collaboration with the U.S. in the Middle East, even against shared regional enemies like Islamic State. Instead, he has continued Iran’s campaign to control the oil-rich Persian Gulf and weaken the influence of the U.S., Israel and its Sunni Arab allies across the region. U.S. military commanders say that they have seen no tapering off of Revolutionary Guard support for its allies in Yemen, Iraq or the Palestinian territories.

 Khamenei cannot know how the U.S. will respond to his uncompromising stance, especially with a new administration soon to take office. But he may figure that he wins either way. If the deal falls apart, he could call it proof that the Americans never could be trusted and figure that another round of biting U.N. sanctions will prove too difficult to assemble. If the deal survives, he will have his military continue to develop missiles and conventional arms to position Iran to become a latent nuclear weapons power in 10 years. 

Either way, it is the Ayatollah not his more moderate rivals, who are acting as if they have been strengthened by the nuclear deal.