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James W. McConnell

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Russia’s Winter Offensive and NATO’s Response


Russia has decided to use the force necessary in Ukraine. The Russians have begun to destroy the Ukrainian lines of communications — the power grid, bridges, roads and railroads — without which Ukraine’s forces can’t be resupplied. Once the destruction of the lines of communication is completed, Russia’s army, particularly its extensive artillery, will present Ukrainian forces with the unpleasant reality that they are vastly outgunned and outnumbered.
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US Ground Forces are Leaving the Middle East - Like it or Not


US ground forces appear to be leaving Syria in spite of the efforts of those who are obsessed with the region and who seek to remain no matter the cost. Inexplicably, some who wish us to remain have responsibilities in the Trump Administration.

Our wars in the Middle East were lost the moment they began. These wars have proven costly in lives, wounded, populations displaced and destroyed, America’s alliances and standing in the world and trillions of dollars wasted. The greatest costs, however, have been incurred by allowing our obsession with the Middle East to permit Russia to expand its lead in military technology.

The War in Syria, like the rest of America’s 21st-century incursions into the Middle East, has been irretrievably lost. This reality, while dismissed in Washington, is recognized almost everywhere else.

Consider, for example, that in the past few days the Arab League has scheduled a vote — expected to easily pass — on reestablishing relations with Syria and reopening their Embassies in Damascus. The United Arab Emirates has already done so. Italy and Great Britain are renovating their Embassies in preparation for reopening. At the same time, the Iraqi Air Force is flying missions in support of the Syrian government. Recently, Syria has received, and is learning to operate, the very sophisticated Russian S-300 Anti-Aircraft System which works in concert with Syrian shorter range air defenses and Russian systems. Russian air defense and electronic warfare systems, along with Russian aircraft, operate from Russia’s two Syrian bases in support of Syrian military operations.
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Time to End Our 14 Year Middle East Misadventure


The United States invaded Iraq in March, 2003. Over the ensuing fourteen years we’ve done nothing of significance that hasn’t proven counterproductive.

None of this should have been a surprise. Prior to invading Iraq, Lieutenant General Bill Odom, the Director of the National Security Agency under President Reagan made it clear in every forum that would carry his opinion that if America invaded Iraq it would be the greatest strategic blunder in the nation’s history. Those of us with any knowledge of the region shared his opinion. Unhappily, the nation’s elected leadership ignored the fact that the Sunni-Shia religious conflict over Mohammed’s succession has defined the entire region since it began in 632AD and blundered into a religious war we couldn't win.

The dream of a Shia Crescent, with Shias controlling Iran, Iraq and Syria was, as long as Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq, impossible to realize. Our invasion of Iraq, and the elections which the majority Shias dominated, made the Shia Crescent a reality. Iraq’s leading Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Sistani, made it clear he would insist every vote counted and made sure his Shia majority got to the polls. While Al-Qaeda and ISIS, supported by their Sunni brethren in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States, along with the Kurds are contesting this reality, our absence of any Grand Strategy in the region and hostility to the Shias has given the Russians a strategic opening which can’t be reversed. 
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