Quote Originally Posted by Woodsman View Post
You know a great deal and it's always a pleasure and a privilege to hear your thoughts on these matters.
I wonder if the focus should shift to more towards the macro?

By that I mean the following:

US Middle East policy recently and moving forward(and mentioned by EJ as well) is one of increasing disengagement.

At the moment, the US appears to be somewhere in the middle of the engaged <—> disengaged continuum.

Still engaged enough to be sucked into every crisis.

But disengaged enough to no longer effectively deter kinetic action by adversaries.

Multiplied by an increasingly fragile global economic environment.

With authoritarian adversaries further attracted by the western election(vulnerability) cycle.

——-
In military operations, rearguard actions(retreat) while in contact with the enemy are amongst the most difficult and dangerous to properly execute. If an adversary accurately identifies a rearguard action, that is typically a lower risk, higher reward time to press an attack.

In military operations, the US led west have historically “owned the night” based on superior sensing technology down to the individual combatant. So fighting at night with no moon creates the greatest unfair advantage over adversaries.

——-
This may be an oversimplistic assessment and analogy, but I think it’s valid at the basic macro level:

The US is partway thru it’s geopolitical rearguard(retreat) action and is particularly vulnerable to adversaries pressing both direct/indirect attack until the US is geopolitically disengaged and consolidated in whatever the new normal becomes.

Authoritarian US adversaries “own the night” when it comes to US election cycles and have the greatest advantage in the lead up to and during elections if carefully leveraged.

So I would posit the US is most vulnerable in the next 12 months, despite the fact the US is actually trying to disengage from the region(despite the superficial schizophrenic appearance).

Magnified by Iran/Russia increasingly desperate for higher energy prices and less likely to be impacted by a global shock in a relative sense.

Although I suspect China must be increasingly concerned at how rising energy prices would seriously impact China at. Cost that could easily exceed the value of relative change to US/China geopolitical power/influence.

——-
Maybe my theory is valid. Maybe not.

But what I know is that I really struggle to find any innocent actors with clean hands in this.

We could get into arguments about force ranking hands by how dirty(or bloody) they are, but it would likely be quite futile.

I think a far more important question is: which hands are likely to start washing and which hands are likely to get dirtier/bloodier?