Several articles have been published since the 2016 election raising the possibility that President Trump could try warming U.S. relations with Russia to counter a rising and increasingly assertive China. Such “triangular diplomacy” to pit Moscow against Beijing does sound like innovative strategic maneuvering that could prove groundbreaking. But it won’t work in practice.
The world’s most dangerous arms race is not to be found in Moscow and Washington, or in East Asia, where tensions are high on the Korean Peninsula and a showdown looms in the Western Pacific between Beijing and the United States. Nor is it to be found in the Middle East, a region in turmoil where two powers–Iran and Saudi Arabia–are engaged in proxy warfare in several hotspots. No, the answer lies in South Asia, and the ongoing rivalry between India and Pakistan.
People hold grudges for any number of reasons: bullying in high school, stealing girlfriends, or, in more extreme circumstances, framing them for wrongdoings. But no reasonable person would characterize wanting accountability for the murder of hundreds of U.S. Marines in a brutal terrorist attack as a “grudge,” right? Well, you obviously have not read a new article published Sunday in Politico: “James Mattis’ 33-Year Grudge Against Iran.” Written by Mark Perry, who once authored a book in which he advocated that the U.S. “talk to” terrorists in order to stop terrorism, the piece describes the Marine Corps as a “cult” suffering from 30-plus-years of uncompromising, warmongering hostility toward Iran.
It is one of the simplest, yet most horrifying forms of punishment one can imagine: throw a prisoner into a dark, empty cell, lock the door, provide no food or water, and leave them to die. Auschwitz’s notorious Block 11–known appropriately as “the death block,” and full of “starvation cells”–was meant to punish prisoners with torture. It is hard to imagine being put in the Suffocation Room, designed to make individuals suffocate from lack of air, or the standing cells, tiny areas less than a square yard in which four people would be held and sitting was impossible. They would stay like that for days, leaving the cells to work a full day of hard labor only to return at night and be forced to stand. Many would die of exhaustion in the holdings, each of which had one tiny opening to let enough air in to prevent the prisoners from suffocating.
ISIS evidently has a presence in Pakistan–and one significant enough that established regional terror groups are willing to work with it. Here’s the greatest threat that an ISIS presence in Pakistan poses, and it’s one that policymakers should plan for now: the potential escalations that could follow a major terrorist attack on India, Pakistan’s arch-foe. The aftermath of such an assault could have global consequences if both countries are not careful.
In the summer of 1988, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ordered thousands of political prisoners to be executed in secret over a two-month period. About 4,500 people were murdered, with the massacre covered up by a media blackout inside Iran. Twenty-eight years later, the official website of Khomeini’s then-heir apparent, the late Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, released an audiotape of an Aug. 15, 1988, meeting on the purges. Montazeri can be heard lashing out at the clergymen present for facilitating the mass-killings, declaring, “You all will be judged as the biggest criminals in history.” The audiotape shows the ruthlessness of the committee of clergymen, some of whom hold senior positions today in President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet–men like Mostafa Pourmohammadi, the current minister of justice–and elsewhere in the regime–like Hossein Ali Nayeri, now a senior judiciary official.
Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 brought U.S.-Russia relations to their lowest point since the Cold War. At the same time, China ramped up its aggressive activities in the South China Sea, pushing its territorial claims and challenging international norms of freedom of navigation. Iran, meanwhile, increased its support to proxies across the Middle East and bolstered its support for the Assad regime in Syria.