It could be called provoking a snake while barefoot, but, then again, the U.S. military isn’t what it used to be. This means that the forthcoming joint naval exercises planned by China, Russia and Iran to take place in the Caribbean and along Latin American coast may result in a bit of angry huffing and puffing emanating from Washington, D.C., but not much more.
The Super Frontier joint exercises, set to happen now literally right under America’s nose, aren’t the first joint military operation held by these three nations. The most recent, dubbed Marine Security Belt 2022, took place within the confines of the northern area of the Indian Ocean earlier this year. Published intelligence analyses praise the three navies for their capabilities in saving a burning vessel, freeing a ship captured by hostile forces, shooting at hard-wearing (mostly made of concrete) targets, attacking targets in the air at night, locating and successfully destroying hostile submarines, and doing all that in complicated and complex conditions of mutual communications.
The extent of the forthcoming Super Frontier exercises isn’t known yet other than to participating forces, but what is known is that Venezuela will be the official host.
If that’s not rubbing America’s nose in dirt, it would be difficult to fathom what would be.
Several American analysts have concluded that it seems as if Latin America were considering forming a military coalition against the U.S.
Washington, we have a problem
One of the major issues facing America’s military isn’t so much lack of top-of-the-line hardware.
It’s the personnel manning (personing?) it that has been failing on most counts the last few decades.
Sergeants yelling into recruits’ faces during drills at exercise grounds for not performing to the rules have been accused of humiliating the recruits’ personal dignities and told to stop it.
Questioning orders and demanding detailed explanation so that even the thickest of skulls can get it has become accepted norm rather than unacceptable exception.
Political correctness that would lead to promotions of those who know their gender pronouns better than how to use weapons and shoot in anger has become norm instead of merit.
Identity-based politicking would become more important than studies of strategies and tactics on the battle field.
The list is almost endless. The American armed forces have gone woke, embracing the so-called cancel culture with enthusiasm unbecoming of men and (of course) women in uniform.
And this is the force that is expected to stand up to military forces steeped in the traditional tradition of “You’re in the army now, lad, shut up and do what you’re told.”
This is not to say that this military tradition is perfect. This is to say that maintaining it wins wars more often than ridiculing and abandoning it.
The fifth wheel
The U.S. used to lord over Latin America with a fist made of steel.
Gone are the days when then-President John F. Kennedy would put his foot down, and Soviet boss Nikita Khrushchev would meekly order his missiles – stationed on his reckless orders in Cuba – dismantled and returned back to the Soviet Union, and pronto.
It is important to note that the Indian Ocean exercise had the year 2022 designation attached to it: it is supposed to become a permanent feature for the three navies with, perhaps, more forces joining the fun in future years.
Russian and Chinese spokesthingies remain mum on the whole matter. Statements from Iran are saying it all: “The geographical and strategic location of Iran has made it the focus of international attention,” one such document said.
“The waters around Iran, especially the Sea of Oman and the Persian Gulf, have become the hotspot for sabre-rattling for many countries, including the U.S. and some of its allies to form a maritime coalition for patrols in the Persian Gulf these days.
“The Sea of Oman is a particularly sensitive waterway as it connects to the Strait of Hormuz, through which about 30 per cent of the world’s crude oil passes and which in turn connects to the Persian Gulf.
“(The Marine Security Belt 2022) began in the port city of Chabahar in southeastern Iran. … and (it) is aimed at promoting the security of international trade in the strategic regions amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S.”
And the final nail: “Holding trilateral exercise between the three countries have received mixed reactions from international media in recent days which shows the significance of the drill both in the region and world, as Jonathan Eyal, associate director at the Royal United Services Institute, said the joint naval drills had been choreographed by the three countries to send a message that U.S. influence in the region was waning.”
Joining a bigger club
Iran was invited to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) last September.
This Eurasian political, economic and security organisation is no midget to be taken lightly in world affairs. It covers some 60 per cent of Eurasia’s territory, some 40 per cent of the world’s population call the region home, and at least 30 per cent of world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is created right there.
The SCO, known originally as the Shanghai Five, happened after China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan (listed here in alphabetical order) signed a mutual security agreement in 1996. Today’s SCO happened after Uzbekistan joined, and it would become an eight-country partnership with India and Pakistan joining a few years ago.
Several other countries are engaged as observers, candidates for membership or partners, and Iran happens to be one of them.
As SCO’s official documents of association point out, “military exercises are also regularly conducted among members to promote cooperation and coordination against terrorism and other external threats, and to maintain regional peace and stability.”
Nothing to sneeze at.
With the fall of the Soviet Union, the Americans thought that the bi-polar world that had two superpowers running its business, has gone “kaput,” too, and they will be running things from now on without anybody’s interference.
With their current Administration basically restoring Iran’s ability to join the nuclear weapons club, this snub had to happen.
Were they short-sighted or were they short-sighted?