IS & Trade Speculation-Some Links

Michael Totten links to Jonathan Spyer: ‘The Guns Of August: Inside The Kurdish-IS War

‘I left Erbil for Amman in the early hours of the morning. The streets were deserted but the refugees’ tents were still visible at the side of the road. Iraq and Syria, it appears, have become geographical expressions only. Political Islam in its various versions is fighting over much of what remains. The Kurds are standing for a radically different politics along a long line to the north. What is to come, and how all this – which may be just beginning – will end, remains hidden beyond the horizon.’

So, if and when we roll back IS, what next?

From Blackfive:

‘In a posting from last week, I mentioned what it will take to mount an airstrike campaign against targets in Syria. Given that we’re going to do this using every available air asset possible, we are looking at a combined force of about 15,000 strong. Navy, Marine, USAF, Army will all be posted to supporting this effort, at least initially.

Wait, Marines? Yep- look at some of their assets based on Navy ships; we’ll use a few of them during the campaign. I’m not sure we’ve established the Erbil base yet, so most of these will be flying from Qatar, Kuwait, and ships throughout CENTCOM and EUCOM areas (the Med being a EUCOM responsibility)’

I suppose we’ll see.

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Tyler Cowen appears at a talk about Thomas Piketty’s book (1 hr 16 min long):

Also from his site, interesting speculation about trade and the growth of water/harbor cities such as Venice, and comment speculation about what makes a good port:

‘The greater the anonymity of exchange, and the greater the distance involved, the stronger is the role of a formal port as a centralized supplier of trust and also buyer-seller coordination. That will imply a small number of water nodes, all the more so as globalization and specialization proceed .’

More Or Less On The Bergdahl Trade-Some Links

Folks at Blackfive are keeping an eye on things, but it’s still early on:

‘As someone who worked the Sgt Bergdahl issue for 4 years, I have a long, sordid history with this issue. And I WAS going to come out on the topic this week- I had mentioned to several people that I wanted to post up about it. But I’ve been advised not to, by some people who understand the ‘why’.’

The issue has gotten quite political now, largely due to that strange Rose Garden press conference where we got to see some of how the sausage is made. Like Benghazi, the Bergdhal affair offers a lot to be concerned about, but it’s also partially become a proxy to argue larger political and policy directions, and dissatisfaction with this President’s commitments (closing Guantanamo, offering a timeline and negotiations for AfPak withdrawal etc., dealing with bad people for questionable gains).

Many gatherers around similar ideals are trying to protect the President and their commitments, while many opponents are on the attack.

From a linked-to piece by Brad Thor:

‘It is important to note that the Haqqanis are not the same thing as the Afghan Taliban. The two are different groups…The Haqqanis are a heavily criminal enterprise sowing and feeding off of the chaos in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region. Envision Al Qaeda crossed with the Sopranos and you begin to get the picture of what these thugs are like.’

Dexter Filkins at the New Yorker takes a look at the Haqqani-ISI (Pakistani Intelligence) connection. I recall that even as Pervez Musharraf signed on the partnership in the War on Terror, he was playing us on both ends, partly because of the political realities of Pakistan.  You can’t ask a leader to be too far ahead of his people.

Bergdahl was probably hustled over into Pakistan through the Haqqanis:

Given the close connections that the I.S.I. maintains with the network, it seems inconceivable that the organization wasn’t well aware of Bergdahl’s condition, status, and whereabouts. Did the I.S.I. try, over the years, to free him? We don’t know. Could Pakistani intelligence officials have done more to help him? Did they do nothing? Likewise, we don’t know. Were they involved, and perhaps even instrumental in, gaining his final release? We don’t know. But, given the amount of American money that flows into Pakistan, we’re entitled to ask.’

Lots of questions in the air…