Michael KreponDecent Intervals

During his first term, President Obama set about to extricate the United States from the wars he inherited from George W. Bush. Not surprisingly, getting out has proved to be harder than getting in. His second term’s agenda has been spent seizing opportunities while seeking to avoid making new messes for his own successor to clean up. Having negotiated a nuclear deal with Iran, Obama is now pushing hard on trade and climate agreements. He has tried his best to resist the undertow of Afghanistan and Iraq, and keep on the periphery of the hellhole that is Syria.

Obama’s stubborn “fidelity to international order” – the term he used in his address before the UN General Assembly – and commitment to progressive idealism in U.S. foreign and national security policy have not ebbed, despite the woes of the world. At the UN, Obama told the assembled dignitaries,

Our nations are more secure when we uphold basic laws and basic norms, and pursue a path of cooperation over conflict. And strong nations, above all, have a responsibility to uphold this international order.

This message, while noble, has a dissonant ring given Russia’s actions in Ukraine and China’s in the South China Sea. International order has also given way to chaos and predation in the Middle East, where Obama is deeply reluctant to deploy more U.S. troops to counter violent Islamic extremism.

The specter of quagmires has haunted the United States ever since the Korean and Vietnam Wars. In April 1971, a young, disillusioned veteran of the Vietnam War named John Kerry asked the Senate Foreign Relations Committee two devastating rhetorical questions: “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” To which I might add, “What do you say to the loved ones and families of the deceased and the wounded warriors?” The assembled Senators who supported the continued prosecution of the Vietnam War were stumped by these questions; those who opposed it answered by calling for a quick exit.

President Richard Nixon and national security adviser Henry Kissinger’s answer during the crucible of Vietnam was a “decent interval.” They inherited over 200,000 troops on the ground in South Vietnam, and were bombing the hell out of the North, as well as Cambodia and Laos. They mined the North’s harbors and tried other ways to leverage a negotiated outcome that would allow U.S. troops to leave and the South Vietnamese government to hang on for about two years. After this decent interval, the fall of the South could be blamed on its inability to defend itself with the means that the U.S. Government had so generously provided.

The goal of a decent interval could not, of course, be conveyed to U.S. troops engaged in the fight, those who fought alongside them, and to the people they were fighting for.  The settlement Kissinger negotiated wasn’t worth the paper it was written on, but it was probably the best the Nixon Administration could do. The American public had lost hope for a heroic ending to this war and, while public opinion was divided, it was trending towards ending the war on whatever terms were available. Troop withdrawals were a political necessity. Massive street demonstrations conveyed this message with a powerful mix of determination and creativity. The Congress used the power of the purse to push for an exit. With troop withdrawals accompanied by escalating bombing campaigns, nuclear feints (more on this later) and diplomatic gymnastics, Nixon and Kissinger couldn’t engineer leverage.

One side in this fight was more cohesive and committed, could operate from sanctuaries, and had the unswerving support of Moscow. The other side had the most powerful military in the world, and lost. I revisited this painful history when reading William Burr and Jeffrey P. Kimball’s detailed and judicious new book, Nixon’s Nuclear Specter: The Secret Alert of 1969, Madman Diplomacy, and the Vietnam War.

This history haunts America again, as the Obama Administration struggles to close the books on an ill-executed war in Afghanistan and an ill-conceived war in Iraq. Governments in both countries preside weakly over shrunken domains. For these wars, Secretary of State John Kerry cannot answer the questions he raised as a young Vietnam vet. The Obama Administration faces a familiar quandary of trying to shore up shaky governments with permeable borders and determined foes. It can again add to troop strength – remember the Bush Administration’s “surge” and Obama’s awkward, unconvincing speech at West Point? – without prospect for lasting gains as long as these governments remain dysfunctional and their militaries are hard-pressed to turn the tide, even after extraordinary U.S. sacrifices.

If only, critics say, the Obama Administration had “stayed the course” in Iraq, or had “done more” in Afghanistan. But fighting wars alongside nation-building in poorly governed lands with fractious divides can never be America’s strong suit. The situation in Syria is different: This mess has been created almost entirely by others, and, in my view, less U.S. passivity is called for. At issue here is how to raise the costs to those responsible for this maelstrom without sinking into it.  Into this fray now comes Vladimir Putin, who is running out of foreign reserves as he runs into quagmires.

Obama and his team are fond of telling others to “do more,” while being wary of doing more in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. The range of possible outcomes in these countries does not include victory.


  1. AEL (History)

    With respect to “fidelity to international order”, the words Libya and Yemen were not mentioned. I guess there hasn’t been enough of a decent interval.

  2. Yeah, Right (History)

    I’m not terribly convinced that the USA has much “fidelity to international order” when it insists that it has the “right” to launch bombing raids inside Syria without receiving any request for military assistance from the Syrian Government.

    That certainly doesn’t fit into any concept of “Westphanian sovereignty” that I am aware of, looking much more like “imperial arrogance” to me.

    At least Lavrov gave the correct answer when he was asked when the Russians were going to start bombing targets inside Iraq: “We were not invited; we were not asked. And we are polite people, as you know. We don’t come if not invited”

    • Cameron (History)

      Quite a good answer, I’m sure that Chechnya and the Ukraine are pleased as punch to hear that.

      As for fidelity to international order within Syria, which Syrian government are you refering to? There are at least three that I can think of functioning within the territory that we think of as “Syria” plus independent rebel groups. Westphalian sovereignty relied upon the sole use of force to maintain order within a state, by that logic there is no Syrian government, and we’re all taking sides in the war of Syrian Succession.

    • Yeah, Right (History)

      You do understand that Chechnya *is* a part of Russia, right?

      You did know that, Cameron?

      “As for fidelity to international order within Syria, which Syrian government are you refering to?”

      That would be the Syrian government, Cameron.

      “There are at least three that I can think of functioning within the territory that we think of as “Syria” plus independent rebel groups”

      Then your thinking is faulty. There is only one Syrian Government, and all the other wannabes are attempting to overthrow it by force of arms.

      Get with the program, Cameron: even the USA refers to everyone else as “rebels” (if they are following orders from Washington) or “jihadists” (if they aren’t following orders from Washington), but it doesn’t refer to any of them as “governments”.

      “Westphalian sovereignty relied upon the sole use of force to maintain order within a state, by that logic there is no Syrian government, and we’re all taking sides in the war of Syrian Succession”

      Just out of curiosity, would you care to run that same ruler over the American Civil War and explain to me how that *wouldn’t* have justified outside intervention by, say, the UK or France?

      Civil wars are civil wars, and what makes them different from “wars” is exactly that i.e. they are not wars of an INTERNATIONAL nature.

      Westphanian sovereignty would insist that you don’t intervene in wars that aren’t of an INTERNATIONAL nature unless, of course, the government of that country requests your military assistance.

      It’s perfectly OK to answer that request. It’s not OK to butt in where you haven’t been invited.

      The Syrian government has requested just such assistance from Russia, and it most definitely hasn’t requested any assistance from the USA.

      One is therefore entitled to intervene, and one is not.

      Do you want to have another try at picking the correct players? Because I have to tell you, your last pick was wrong.

    • Magpie (History)

      Um, I don’t think anyone is saying Syria doesn’t exist or whatever. We’re relying on collective self-defence vs groups who attacked Iraq. The grey area is that collective self-defence usually applies only to aggressor countries. But first, ISIS is acting as a nation, even if we don’t recognise it as such, and the spirit of collective self-defence surely applies to an aggressor army, even if that army isn’t attached to a recognised nation. And second, the UN gave sanction to the US invasion of Afghanistan on the basis of collective self-defence, specifically in response to a terrorist non-state actor. So there’s precedent.

      Plus also, Russia is attacking rebels who might not have attacked Iraq, but have attacked Syria. So they’re definitely allowed to do that.

      US-aligned bombing of targets in Syria is, yes, a bit grey, but IMO it clearly comes down on the side of “in the spirit of the law”. Frankly, Syria’s objection is self-defeating on the face of it, and it’s an artefact of the ridiculous political games Russia is playing with the US. Let’s recognise that, and move on.

      Yes, score one International Diplomacy Point to Russia, for manufacturing a pissing contest and then pissing a bit further than anyone else was willing to try.

      Now, tell me again what we’re trying to achieve in Syria? Russia’s game is obvious: restore Assad’s control as Russia’s Man in the Levant, and try to make the US look bad in the process. Good. Straight forward.

      What is America’s win condition? Do we end up with three countries: Shiite West Syria (Russian), Sunni theocratic West Syria / East Iraq (no-one’s, ‘cept maybe the KSA), and a Shiite Eastern Iraq as a much needed future ally for Iran (also Russian)? Have the rebellion roll over / massacre the Alawites? Have Assad re-establish the family’s rule-by-torture-house? Help establish a greater Kurdistan who doesn’t really trust you, and make Erdogan’s constituency explode in a mushroom cloud of rage, swapping a strong firm ally for a weak tenuous one? Are any of these outcomes called victory?

      Does anyone seriously think this will end with Assad’s peaceful removal and some kind of unity government that’ll bring everyone together? Because to those people, I have a really kickass bridge to sell you.

    • Cameron (History)

      “You do understand that Chechnya *is* a part of Russia, right? You did know that, Cameron?”

      Yeah, because they lost the second Chechen War. You did know that they declared independence after the breakup of the USSR, right?

      And your lack of comment regarding Ukraine speaks volumes.

      “’Westphalian sovereignty relied upon the sole use of force to maintain order within a state, by that logic there is no Syrian government, and we’re all taking sides in the war of Syrian Succession’

      Just out of curiosity, would you care to run that same ruler over the American Civil War and explain to me how that *wouldn’t* have justified outside intervention by, say, the UK or France?”

      Under the Westphalian system they could have. Under the logic of the balance of European power, and the mechanics of self-interest, (mostly domestic in the UK, and power projection for France,) that Westphalian states make for their actions they didn’t.

      “Civil wars are civil wars, and what makes them different from “wars” is exactly that i.e. they are not wars of an INTERNATIONAL nature.

      Westphanian sovereignty would insist that you don’t intervene in wars that aren’t of an INTERNATIONAL nature unless, of course, the government of that country requests your military assistance.”

      R2P and the ending of strict Westphalian states aside, a conflict that spills over the borders of a state becomes international in nature, and the Syrian conflict has.

      “It’s perfectly OK to answer that request.”

      So you would accept a NATO bombing campaign against Ukrainian separatists?

      “Do you want to have another try at picking the correct players? Because I have to tell you, your last pick was wrong.”

      I don’t quite get this, other than to add the following.
      Sir or Madam, I am sorry if my opinion, expressed on the internet offended you so greatly that you felt such an aggressive tone was necessary.

  3. Ataune (History)

    I believe “Yeah, Right” is mentioning the Syrian political system that had its Foreign Minister Moallem invited by the UN to talk at her General Assembly … as the representative of the Syrian state. The same podium where before him President Obama had the speech to which our host is referring. Assad government might be a cruel one or under tremendous stress from several fronts by foreign fueled terrorism/insurgency, but as of now and as far as the UN is concerned, she is the sole representative of the Syrian state. Like it or not, this has been the order and the “rules” for the international relations since WWII victors established it.

  4. Magpie (History)

    Surely with Syria we have the same old problem. What does victory look like?

    We can’t go on obsessing over process when we don’t actually know what the process is meant to achieve. It’s one thing to draw lines on a map at home, then cynically work to make those lines real. That lead to terrible tragedies in the time of empires, but ***at least it worked***. Instead we get a tale told by an idiot.

    Syria right now is almost a black comedy, a perfect example of our short termism taken to the point of the ridiculous. Everyone knows Russia has been directly supporting Assad since forever. Everyone knows the Turks hate the Kurds way more then they hate ISIS. Everyone knows there’s Saudi and Qatari money, ideas, and people sloshing about in the badlands. None of this is secret – and here we are, obsessing over the process, ignoring these obvious truths. Worse, we’re apparently super surprised by the obvious truths. What? Russia aggressively supporting Assad? What?! Turkey supporting the Kurd-killing Salafists under the table? WHAT!? Wahabi nutbags taking over the rebellion? Colour me gob-smacked, because apparently I’m a gigantic idiot.

    What does victory look like? Does anyone know? Do we keep pretending we’re on the same side as Russia and Saudi Arabia and Turkey and the Kurds, when it is simply not possible for all of those things to be true?

    And incidentally, are we ever going to get over the whole “commie Sunni” thing and forgive the Kurds for surviving the 60’s and 70’s, unlike the other progressive middle-easterners who got variously tortured or disappeared into extinction? Or will we keep avoiding even mentioning them if we can possibly help it? Let’s go help the K… Kuh… Kurrrrrr…. YAZIDIS.


  5. Bradley Laing (History)


    A bill to be voted on by Danish lawmakers in 2016 will seek to ensure that Greenlandic uranium is not used in nuclear weapons.

    The bill, included as part of the legislative programme from the new parliamentary session, which opened today, comes after Copenhagen, in 2013, recognised Greenland’s right to exploit all of its underground resources.

  6. J House (History)

    “He has tried his best to resist the undertow of Afghanistan and Iraq, and keep on the periphery of the hellhole that is Syria.”
    President Obama doubled down in Afghanistan with the ‘surge’ of nearly 100,000 troops, and it has been a complete failure in the end. Casualties spiked and what is to show for it? Helmand and Kunduz provinces are nearly lost, with the Taliban gaining more ground weekly.
    In Iraq, in 2011 the President declared Iraq was ‘secure’ and ‘could stand on its own’ (his words), and that ‘the United States will not be Iraq’s Air Force’. Another policy failure.
    Libya? He ordered NATO air power to take down an Arab dictator that was no threat to U.S. national security, with no post-conflict plan, resulting in total chaos there. On top of it, that phony ‘no fly zone’ turned into a regime change operation, ensuring the Russians would never trust the U.S. on a vote for a NFZ in the UN again. The President did all of this while breaking U.S. law…the War Powers Act.
    Yemen? We are knees deep in that secret dirty war, re-supplying the ‘coalition’ with deadly arms in which we have no control over increasing civilian casualties.
    Periphery of Syria? We have been conducting airstrikes on a group for over a year now that will have a long memory and will do what it can to strike back at the U.S. and Europe, long after the President leaves office. Stay tuned for 9/11, part II.
    The President’s foreign policy prescriptions have emboldened Russia, who now have more influence and a stronger foothold in the Middle East than they have in 30 years. Come back to my post when Putin makes a move in the Baltics before the end of the President’s term, and tests NATO’s ‘red line’. Preparations are already underway for another maskirovka party in Lithuania
    Krepon, with all due respect, I suggest you replace your morning kool-aid with coffee.

    • krepon (History)

      Yes, Obama temporarily raised troop levels, against his grain, in my view. You are right: what does he have to show for them?
      Nixon inherited 285,000 troops in Vietnam from LBJ, and what did he have to show for it?
      The press is reporting that Obama may leave his successor with 5,000 troops in Afghanistan. He couldn’t end US military engagement in Iraq, either.
      Those who criticize him for not leaving better outcomes for his successor to inherit are not persuasive, in my view. How many US troops would be required for a lasting, better outcome in Afghanistan and Iraq? J: How many more deaths and grave injuries to US troops are you willing to invest in seeking “better” outcomes?

  7. J House (History)

    The President, when he ran for office the first time, knew very well what he was ‘inheriting’ (I object to that politically charged word…every President knows what they are getting into when they run for office). Yes, it was far easier to get in Iraq and Afghanistan that to get out. But the President took his eye off the ball in Iraq when there was some measure of stability in 2009 (look at the trend lines in U.S. combat deaths then, and they were still in the fight).
    In Afghanistan, he tried to replicate the success of the ‘surge’ strategy in Iraq and failed, mainly because he set an end date for withdrawal, and complicated it by taking it to the Taliban, not just AQ.
    The Libyan debacle was completely of this President’s doing, and it runs counter to his pre-election comments about invading Arab countries that do not threaten America. His actions have destabilized the entire arc of North Africa.Libya’s ASPs have been looted of all weaponry and explosives. We will pay for this, dearly.
    As far as my policy prescriptions go, who cares? Biden had it right in Afghanistan…a lighter footprint was the right action, and he wasn’t persuasive enough.
    Recognize that, like Vietnam, if Afghans opposing the Taliban do not want it bad enough, then the cause is lost.

  8. Ataune (History)


    “Surely with Syria we have the same old problem. What does victory look like?”

    I believe you are making the same old age mistake, as a Frenchman would say, by putting “la charrue avant les boeufs.”

    When acting in international arena one should, as a state, be always careful that the perception of legality precede one’s desire to modify the political reality; not the other way around. As the recent history showed us failing to do so will mark you as a villain and an aggressor, ending-up most of the times on the losing side of the political fight, destroying even the road you imagined is taking you to the “mission accomplished”.

    So maybe your question needs to be changed to reflect the perception of the legality. For example into something like this:

    “What should we multilaterally do as a state to bring a just solution to the urgent problem in Syria?”

    • Magpie (History)

      Ah, but for that, we’d need to know what a just solution might be, before we can possibly work out what we need to do to achieve it. That’s my point.

      What does a just solution look like?

    • Magpie (History)

      (Sorry to double post).

      I mean, we can say “we must build this coalition, and obey these laws, and bomb those people, and support those other people, and limit these actions, and press harder on that front, and prop up that faction, and avoid this escalation”. And that’s all great. We might get a cleaner process if we think that way. But the problem remains: to what end? What will that clean process get us?

      It’d be like hopping in your car, and saying “I must stay within the speed limit, and make sure there’s plenty of fuel, and indicate when I turn, and ensure everyone has their seatbelt on, and not text while I drive, and ensure there’s enough air in the tyres, and be courteous and polite to other drivers”. And that’s all great. You’ll be a good driver!

      You have answered the question: “What, as a good driver, must I do to ensure I safely arrive at my destination?”

      But none of it matters much if you don’t know where you’re driving.

  9. ataune (History)


    You are driving in a highway called “international law” toward a goal defined as “peace and harmony”. In the political reality, if you don’t like this highway you can obviously get out or destroy it trying to build other ones – which by the way no one will most likely use if you are doing it unilaterally. Either way you will be an isolated rogue and ultimately when you don’t succeed, you will be perceived as a fool and a villain.

    In this highway one of the cars you are bumping to is called “Syria” driven by a guy called “Assad”. You firmly believe that this car and his driver shouldn’t be driving in the highway since they seems not to be respecting the “internal rules”: buckling up, not texting while driving, kids in safe seats etc… You would love to have either the driver or the car tossed away, but, unfortunately, the rules of a behavior, instituted yourself for the common good, towards the goal of “peace and harmony in the world”, don’t allow you to do so.

    Now the choice is yours, go back to what you did just recently, 12 years ago, and try to change all the rules and destroy unilaterally the highway; or sit down, talk to everyone, including the driver “Assad” and find a way to resolve the issue with everyone included.

    • Magpie (History)

      Um, no. ‘Peace and harmony’ is not a realistic outcome. That’d be like getting in your car and driving to ‘transcendent happiness’. It’s not a place. Get Obama up at the podium and say “the mission objective is peace and harmony” and see how well that goes down. What does ‘peace and harmony’ actually look like? Assad back in control? Al-Nusra running the show from Damascus? Everyone in the region dead?

      That’d be peaceful, at least.

      Once again you’re focusing on process. What’s the outcome you’re hoping for? You seem to imply that you think a reasonable outcome is that Assad will stop fighting, the rebels will stop rebelling, and ISIS will – I dunno, get jobs in IT or something. Everyone just… stops fighting. Is that the outcome you want? It’s hard to tell because, as I keep saying, you’re failing to separate the outcome from the process.

      You’ve given an alternative process: obey the rules and talk to people. And that’s a good process! I like that process. But what would you be trying to achieve with it? Before we know if a process could achieve our objectives, we need to know what the objectives are.

      Are we aiming for a return to the borders and (relative) stability that existed before this war started? The rebels won’t accept that by talking. ISIS won’t. I doubt the Kurds would. ***IF*** you’re aiming to bring the rebel-held areas back into the Syrian-government fold, ***THEN*** I’d suggest Russia’s approach is the right one. They’re bombing rebels who oppose the recognised government of Syria, in the hopes of ultimately forcing their surrender and the resumption of Assad’s control over the country. It’s a plan that makes sense, because 1. They have an objective and 2. They’re doing things that could reasonably achieve that objective.

      You can decry the present free-for-all bomb-o-rama as the wrong process, and that’s fine. But, once again, we really need to know what the process is meant to achieve before we decide it’s the wrong process. If they are *intending* to degrade international norms and kill every living thing in the region, then hey, good start. Action matches intent.

      Maybe the objective is worth dubious legality, lots of money spent, lots of people dead, lots of risk of escalation. Depends on the objective. Killing a person is wrong, but if I do it to save my kids, it’s acceptable. The desired outcome is what decides whether a process is appropriate.

      Without knowing what the end-game is supposed to look like, we can’t judge if this risky expensive violent strategy is the justified, or even whether it could realistically achieve that objective, and ***neither can the decision makers***. That’s the problem. All we see are the costs, the process. What’s the pay off?

      What are we trying to buy with these lives we’re spending?

      I hope it’s something nice.

  10. Gregory Matteson (History)

    Tell me what I’m missing here: We say we are a nation of laws. We have signed and ratified the UN Charter, making it treaty law for our government. The Assad government is the internationally recognized government of Syria. We have not publicly withdrawn recognition of said government. We are publicly arming, financing, and training rebel forces in Syria. Isn’t there a contradiction in this?

  11. Derick Schilling (History)

    There were 536,000 US troops in South Vietnam at the end of 1968, and the number peaked at 543,000 in April 1969 during the first months of the Nixon administration. When Nixon and Kissinger took office the US was no longer bombing North Vietnam, and the bombing of the North did not resume until April-May 1972. The US began bombing Cambodia in March 1969, and began mining North Vietnamese harbors in May 1972. The bombing of Laos, begun under Johnson in 1964-65, continued under Nixon until 1973.

  12. Jay Casey (History)

    Very illuminating but what is your proposed solution?

  13. Tariq Kirmani (History)

    Washington typically asks other nations to “do more.” A good example is Washington regularly asking Pakistan to “do more.” This “do more” mantra from Washington has been repeated so many times that the Pakistani people think of America like an unsatisfied Mother-In-Law who keeps asking “do more”.

    And why is Washington supporting and arming “terrorist/rebels” against Syrian government? Because Saudi-Arabian king wants America to dislodge the current ruler in Syria? Is Washington a puppet to Saudi Kings and Princes? Regards, TK

    • Magpie (History)

      Erm, no need for conspiracies. Assad is Russia’s man in the Levant, and it’s in the US’s interests to see him gone.

      Assad is also an important link in the chain that goes (Russia, shhh, we don’t talk about Russia) -> Iran -> Assad’s Syria -> Hezbollah -> Israeli stuff gets blown up, wrecked, killed, or otherwise embarrassed (Hezbollah being the only anti-Israel force that’s worth a damn). This is not a secret (not even the Russian bit, except we don’t talk about that bit).

      Then there’s the precarious Shiite government in Iraq, after we went and saddamised some guy who’s name I forget. Shiites somehow became Russia’s Muslims in the Cold War, basically, and ISIS is wrecking all sorts of illusions by reminded everyone that, actually, Iraq’s Shiites probably have more to do with Iran’s Shiites than the people who broke their country and generally show a lot more flopping about, foreign-policy-wise, than the dictatorship next door. ANYWAY, ISIS is making that painfully obvious, so again, not good. And also, not a secret.

      Then there’s the quiet-never-mention-it *thing* we got going on with the (kurds, shhhhh, don’t mention the kurds), who (I would lay money) are a pet project of State, being one of those beacons of democracy and relative decency which State has always had a soft spot for, only we can’t admit it because that’d make Turkey blow a fuse, and the Other State (the one with letters) still can’t forgive them for being commie Muslims who have had the utter gall to still be alive and largely un-tortured. ISIS were wrecking the Kurds, but now
      (thanks in part to the odd airstrike to make up for accidentally giving ISIS armour, whoops, sorry) some nice young Kurdish folk have said “Excuse me Mr Salafist, I believe you dropped this” and have handed over a huge pile of arses. So yay, score one for the forces of good(ish).

      …is that an expression you guys have? Handing someone their arse?

      Anyway, that bit’s not really properly secret either, as long as you don’t ever say (kurd, shhhhh), and mumble ‘Yazidi’ or ‘Kobane’ or something instead.

      So yeah, plenty of up-front reasons to be blowing up idjits, without resorting to ham-fisted Saudi princes lurking about.

      The KSA, of course, are happy about the whole situation, since their violently-minded doofuses (doofi?) have a great place to go blow off steam / die horribly without it impacting on the peace and stability of the Kingdom. Plus they want Assad gone double, and want Iraq to stay out of Iran’s little sphere triple. Same reasons as the US, minus the Kurds.

      Phew. There. Slap on some references no-one will check, and you’ve got a thesis.

  14. Bradley Laing (History)


    “Despite being a member of the wartime Cabinet, Attlee had little knowledge of the Manhattan project and the development of the atomic weapons that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. When he became Prime Minister shortly afterwards he was immediately faced with the question of whether Britain should become a nuclear power itself. In these early days before the Cold War gathered momentum, the Attlee government had a major dilemma: whether to pursue an internationalist or a nationalist agenda. He recognised that the modern conception of war to which his generation had become accustomed was now ‘completely out of date’ in the nuclear age. If the world lapsed into a major war again he believed that every weapon available would be used resulting in ‘the destruction of great cities and, in the deaths of millions.’It seemed to him that some form of deterrence was the only answer, but what if deterrence broke down? – See more at: http://blog.oup.com/2015/10/clement-attlee-bomb/#sthash.q5tGyB4a.dpuf

  15. Bradley Laing (History)

    Dangerous radioactive remnants resulting from the 1971 explosion of the so-called Globus-1 device in an underground nuclear bunker in Russia’s Ivanovo Region, near Moscow, have been liquidated, according to RosRAO a state affiliated nuclear waste handler.

    The explosion was a part of a peaceful use experiment, RosRAO said in its release, but the aftermath led to the site of the experiment becoming a radioactive hot spot, which threatened to contaminate the Volga River, the longest in Russia and Europe.