"The United States is, at the moment, off balance. It faces challenges in the Syria-Iraq theater as well as challenges in Ukraine. It does not have a clear response to either. It does not know what success in either theater would look like, what resources it is prepared to devote to either, nor whether the consequences of defeat would be manageable. A dilemma of this sort is not unusual for a global power. Its very breadth of interests and the extent of power create opportunities for unexpected events, and these events, particularly simultaneous challenges in different areas, create uncertainty and confusion. U.S. geography and power permit a degree of uncertainty without leading to disaster, but generating a coherent and integrated strategy is necessary, even if that strategy is simply to walk away and let events run their course. I am not suggesting the latter strategy but arguing that at a certain point, confusion must run its course and clear intentions must emerge. When they do, the result will be the coherence of a new strategic map that encompasses both conflicts. The most critical issue for the United States is to create a single integrated plan that takes into account the most pressing challenges. Such a plan must begin by defining a theater of operations sufficiently coherent geographically as to permit integrated political maneuvering and military planning. U.S. military doctrine has moved explicitly away from a two-war strategy. Operationally, it might not be possible to engage all adversaries simultaneously, but conceptually, it is essential to think in terms of a coherent center of gravity of operations. For me, it is increasingly clear that that center is the Black Sea. There are currently two active theaters of military action with broad potential significance. One is Ukraine, where the Russians have launched a counteroffensive toward Crimea. The other is in the Syria-Iraq region, where the forces of the Islamic State have launched an offensive designed at a minimum to control regions in both countries -- and at most dominate the area between the Levant and Iran. In most senses, there is no connection between these two theaters. Yes, the Russians have an ongoing problem in the high Caucasus and there are reports of Chechen advisers working with the Islamic State. In this sense, the Russians are far from comfortable with what is happening in Syria and Iraq. At the same time, anything that diverts U.S. attention from Ukraine is beneficial to the Russians. For its part, the Islamic State must oppose Russia in the long run. Its immediate problem, however, is U.S. power, so anything that distracts the United States is beneficial to the Islamic State.
But the Ukrainian crisis has a very different political dynamic from the Iraq-Syria crisis. Russian and Islamic State military forces are not coordinated in any way, and in the end, victory for either would challenge the interests of the other." (STRATFOR)
"There is a new chart-topper in Roll Call’s latest monthly ranking of the 10 most vulnerable senators.
Montana’s appointed Sen. John Walsh was by far the most endangered incumbent in the chamber at the time of the previous installment in early August, but his decision last month to not seek a full term opened the top slot to a couple other worthy contenders. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., is still in a perilous political position, but Louisiana Sen. Mary L. Landrieu has leapfrogged him on the list to become the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbent. The Democrat is pushing hard to eclipse 50 percent on Nov. 4, the day of Louisiana’s jungle primary and possibly Landrieu’s best opportunity for re-election. She will undoubtedly get close. But if Landrieu doesn’t win a majority of the vote against a few GOP challengers, she will likely face Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., in the Dec. 6 runoff.If that happens, all bets are off, and Landrieu’s viability may depend on which party prevailed on Election Day. With the elections just two months away, Democratic incumbents overall have run strong-enough campaigns to ensure the fight for the Senate majority remains a tossup — despite a playing field tilted heavily in the GOP’s direction. Republicans, who need a net gain of six seats to take control of the chamber, are expected to get halfway there by picking up the open seats in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia. Its open-seat opportunities don’t stop there, but the GOP will likely need to defeat at least two sitting senators to win the majority. They have several to choose from:" (RollCall)
"After one of the most pleasant summers in memory (June through August), yesterday Mother Nature delivered us an important reminder: she rules. It was hot as hell and beyond humid yesterday in New York and much of the Northeast, unlike the past two months, and the weatherman says today will only be worse. I spent the holiday weekend in the City where it was beautiful including a brief but big thunderstorm on Sunday afternoon. Had dinner with friends on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and last night; and mainly read a book I’m just about to finish called 'Careless People; Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of The Great Gatsby' by Sarah Churchwell, an American professor of American Literature at a university in East Anglia. aturday, during my regular stroll (dogwalking) down by the river. I love to watch the boats on the river, as you may have gathered if you’ve read the NYSD before. However, I was surprised by all the activity going on in the brief time that I was there (with camera in hand). I have a new camera – a Canon SX700HS with a 30X Optical Zoom, and it was a perfect moment to check out its zoom power – as you will see. I love these big barges carrying construction equipment. I have no idea what kind of project the crane was heading for, be it in the harbor or on land although I was surprised to see it at work on a weekend, let alone a holiday weekend." (NYSD)