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OCTOBER 18-19,  2023

THE SITUATION:   It's late Thursday, and the key things to look for now, in the Israel/Hamas war, are these:  First, the start of the Israeli ground campaign into Gaza.  The campaign was signaled today when the Israeli defense minister told his troops that they would soon see Gaza from the inside.

Two, the possibility of a second front, which would complicate all plans.  Rocket fire from Lebanon into northern Israel has increased each day for the last two weeks.  The rockets are fired by Hezbollah, a notorious terror organization run by Iran.  Should open war break out between the Hezzies and the Israelis, it could destroy the Lebanese economy and turn the country into a basket case.

Three, and critical to Americans, is the possible involvement of the United States in the fighting.  Just today an American destroyer, the USS Carney, operating in the northern Red Sea, shot down several missiles and drones that were possibly headed for Israel.  From ABC:

The USS Carney, a U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer in the northern Red Sea, on Thursday shot down multiple missiles and drones launched by Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen that the Pentagon said were potentially headed toward targets in Israel.

It is the first time in recent memory that a U.S. Navy ship in the Middle East has engaged missiles and drones that were not directly aimed at the vessel.

It's also the first U.S. military action taken to defend Israel in the current crisis and with the U.S. and other countries trying to contain the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the possibility that an Iranian-backed proxy group fired missiles and drones at Israel is sure to increase growing regional tensions.

The ship was in the northern Red Sea on Thursday evening local time when it intercepted three land attack cruise missiles and several drones, Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said at a press briefing. U.S. officials told ABC News that the Carney had brought down eight drones launched by the Houthis. 

COMMENT:  We will have an active weekend.  If there is another incident regarding the American armed forces, a true crisis involving this country could erupt.  Please note the piece just below, reflecting a similar incident earlier this week.  Not a coincidence, I assume.

October 19, 2023       Permalink

 

DON'T IGNORE THIS:  We regularly point out that, although headline news grabs our attention, other news might be just as important, or more so.  There is combat involving Americans in Iraq.  Please don't ignore this.  From Fox: 

U.S. military forces in Iraq destroyed a drone and damaged another at bases hosting American troops, officials said Wednesday. 

American and coalition forces defended themselves against three drones in the past 24 hours, said U.S. Central Command. 

Coalition forces sustained minor injuries while engaging the two drones in western Iraq, CENTCOM said. In a northern part of the country, U.S. forces destroyed a drone and no injuries were reported. 

Two U.S. defense officials confirmed to Fox News that the U.S. intercepted two one-way attack drones targeting Iraq's al-Asad air base where American troops are located. 
Officials were still assessing the impacts to operations. 

“In this moment of heightened alert, we are vigilantly monitoring the situation in Iraq and the region,” a CENTCOM statement said. “We want to emphasize U.S. forces will defend U.S. and Coalition forces against any threat.” 

Defense officials tell Fox News the U.S. currently has about 2,500 troops in Iraq. Officials didn’t say who is believed to be responsible for the drones.

COMMENT:  Get that last one.  Officials won't say who is responsible.  Does the name "Iran" come to mind?  They're right next door, and maybe we should at least think about the role of Iran from time to time.

We liberated Iraq, but the country his hardly an American ally.

October 19, 2023       Permalink

 

 

OCTOBER 16-17,  2023

A VISITOR FROM THE WEST:  Forget the dates above.  It's now 4:44 a.m., Wednesday the 18th.  President Biden has just landed in Tel Aviv, Israel.  Obviously, he is flying into a serious wartime situation.  We have nothing further on the president's visit. 

However, other things are happening.  As I've mentioned often, one of our goals at Urgent Agenda is to find things for our readers that they may have overlooked in a dramatic period, but which are important.   The Mideast war situation is sucking most of the air out of the room, but the state of our economy is the subject of new and critical warnings.  This is important.  From Fox: 

With the tenuous and fragile geopolitical backdrop of today, the US would want to be able to leverage a strong financial foundation. Whether a solid balance sheet that could accommodate an increase in military and related spending if needed or a Strategic Petroleum Reserve that was full and ready for an actual emergency, the US should be fortified and have all options available.

Unfortunately, that is not the case today. The IMF has come out explicitly and reinforced what its analysis has shown implicitly for quite some time: the current financial position of the US is unsustainable. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as this has been echoed by analysis from the Treasury, the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) and just about anyone not detached from reality.

This unsustainability creates not only an economic security issue for the US, but a national security issue as well.

After exploding the already massive size of government another 40+% over the past four years, public debt to GDP is again at levels exceeding 120%. For context, the IMF and others have noted in the past that a sovereign balance sheet becomes unwieldy at around 70-80% debt to GDP.  

If the US were an emerging market, such a balance sheet would likely cause a currency crisis. Having the world’s reserve currency, as well as the relative state of other countries (a phenomenon often referred to as the US being the "cleanest shirt in the laundry") has kept that from happening and allowed those managing the country’s finances to continue to act recklessly. 

The ongoing conflicts around the globe are undoubtedly related to the perceived all-around weakness of the US on the international stage. The president projects weakness in his persona and actions, the latter ranging from releasing oil from our strategic reserves not for emergency purposes but for a political stunt in an effort to artificially, temporarily suppress prices, to loosening sanctions on Iran and providing them access just last month to another $6 billion in cash.

Not to mention that we have a completely porous southern border under the Biden administration that has let in millions of people, with no idea from where they have come or their intentions for being here.

The countries around the world who seek to further weaken the US’s stronghold economically and otherwise have been working to hasten and exploit this existing weakness. It is no coincidence that around the same time in August that, as the Wall Street Journal reported, "Officers of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had worked with Hamas" to plot the details of the attack on Israel, the BRICS alliance (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, although heavily dominated policy-wise by China) had formally extended an invitation to Iran (as well as the Saudis, the UAE and other countries) to join them.  

COMMENT:  We are also bogged down by a political system dominated by identity politics and wokeness.  Wokeness never won a war.  Or a peace.

Ordinarily, we would look to the next presidential election to straighten things out.  But, if it's Biden versus Trump, maybe we should temper our expectations.

October 18,  2023     Permalink 

 

BULLETIN: AFTERNOON:  Congressman Jim Jordan failed to get the required 217 votes from the House today in his bid to become speaker.  He declares that there will be another vote.  It took former Speaker Kevin McCarthy 15 ballots to be elected, and Republicans don't want that spectacle to repeat.

IT WILL BE CLOSE:  A vote on the House floor to elect a new speaker is expected today, Tuesday.  Jim Jordan of Ohio is the frontrunner, but must get 217 on the floor to actually be elected speaker.  There are no guarantees here.

If Jordan goes down in flames, it will indicate that the GOP in the House is deadlocked, and should be sent back to kindergarten class.  The big-deal election of 2024 is a bit more than a year away.  Will there be a real GOP running, or a bunch of immature players?  I'm not sure.

And remember that a budget must be passed within weeks to prevent the government from shutting down.  If there is a shutdown, and conditions in the country start to nosedive, Republicans will be blamed, and for good reason.

TODAY IN THE MIDEAST WAR:  President Biden flies to Israel tomorrow, Wednesday.  He will then apparently fly off to America's other "allies" in the region, including the people's republic of Saudi Arabia.  No one actually knows precisely whey the president is making the trip, but apparently he got a good rate.

Meanwhile, Biden has ordered a buildup of American forces in the neighborhood.  We're told that this is a message to Hamas and other bad actors not to try to enlarge the Israel-Hamas conflict.  But there is informed speculation that they could be used to help rescue American hostages held by Hamas.

Stand by for more after dawn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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