Marco Rubio Makes His Move In Iowa: What Comes Next?


Iowa has spoken. Don “Gotti” Trump has been kneecapped. Ted “Evangelical” Cruz eked out a dramatic four point victory (28%) in the most Christian conservative state in the nation. But the big winner was Marco “Too Smooth” Rubio whose third place finish, one point behind Trump at 23 percent was the most shocking development in a raucous GOP campaign.

Having endured more media attacks than all the other GOP candidates combined, Rubio’s last minute surge changed the election calculus for several reasons. There is now a legitimate three way race for president between Cruz, Trump and Rubio; each representing a different base in the party. What Iowa demonstrated was that Rubio has the most potential to expand his base of support as opposed to Trump and Cruz.

Rubio’s last minute surge that took him from 15% to 23% was powered by the largest sector of Iowa’s undecided voters breaking to his camp. Surprisingly, Rubio cut deepest into the Christian conservative vote, winning one in four evangelical voters in a banner field of religious stalwarts that including Cruz, Carson, Santorum, and Huckabee.

Rubio’s base vote was the more educated suburban middle class voters with families around Iowa’s urban centers, especially Des Moines. They were sympathetic to his focus on raising kids, the struggles of paying off college debt which he experienced and working people who live pay check to pay check like his own family did. Moreover, did well with younger voters and voters concerned about national security.

Rubio also did well because he neutralized his biggest negative–his role in the Gang of Eight immigration bill–with deft oratorical and debating skill. He took responsibility for trying to solve a problem, redefined immigration as a critical national security issue to stop ISIS, and then put Ted Cruz on the defensive for supporting the same bill. On the stump he deflected the blow by weaving a soft yarn of his own family’s immigration journey from Cuba; the son of a father arriving on America’s shores broke and not speaking the language, but believing in the America dream.

At the end of the day, when Iowa’s undecided casts their ballots, Rubio was their choice because they believed was the best hope the GOP had of beating the Democratic nominee. As a persuasive mainstream conservative Rubio’s purchase is his ability to straddle all sectors of a party that is increasingly divided between the establishment and a hard right revolt.

For months, we have heard that the Republican establishment has been waiting for Rubio to break out before he earns their imprimatur and access to their deep bank accounts. It has happened in Iowa. And immediately after the New Hampshire primary, assuming Rubio places in the top three, they must gently escort Bush, Christie and Kasich to the door.

It’s on to New Hampshire now, and the three dimensional chessboard of New Hampshire open primary. Rubio has to beat Kasich, Christie and Bush to solidify his position as the conservative mainstream candidate. And then there is getting ready to take on Don “Gotti” Trump, whose attacks are certainly coming. The most important thing Rubio takes to New Hampshire is Marco-mentum.




Why Republican Presidential Candidates Want to Kill the Iran Nuclear Treaty


It’s over! Iran’s program to build a nuclear weapon has been shut down said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week. Reactors have been disabled, centrifuge production slashed, spent nuclear fuel shipped abroad and inspections abound.

So why are prominent Republicans and their presidential candidates howling, even threatening to tear up the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (CPOA) nuclear treaty if elected?

Simply put, now that treaty signatories Britain, Germany, France, Russia and China have accepted the IAEA’s certification that Iran’s nuclear weapons program has been terminated, there is no rationale for America to advocate regime change in Iran!

That’s unacceptable for Republican defenders of American Empire, the neo-conservative political establishment and military hardliners. They want Iran’s Shi’a clerical establishment overthrown. And with good reason.

Since the 1979 revolution that toppled the CIA backed Shah, Iran has almost singlehandedly thwarted America’s designs to establish dominion over the Middle East. Even now, without an active nuclear weapons program, the CPOA treaty can be leveraged to increase Iran’s capability to displace the pro-American axis in the Middle East.

In accordance with CPOA provisions, by “deep sixing” its nuclear weapons program, Iran will receive $100 billion in financial assets frozen for years by international sanctions. In addition, the treaty calls for America and European nations to lift financial, trade and oil sanctions on Iran.

Tehran is now back in play on the world market as a natural gas and oil giant. Capitalized by $100 billion in hard currency, Iran’s economy—currently the same size as the state of Michigan–could emerge as the region’s economic behemoth.

From Israel to Saudi Arabia, fears that Iran will use the $100 billion no-nukes dividend to build up its missile program, its military and support insurgencies across the region is real.

Recently, Iran added the Houthi rebels who now control Yemen’s capitol to its anti-American alliance with Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Iran is also the international religious leader of the Shi’a Islamic sect. Their century’s old struggle against the Sunni majority sect led by its rival Saudi Arabia is a constant flashpoint of conflict coursing through the region.

This explosive cocktail is propelling the Syrian civil war toward a Shi’a-Sunni sectarian bloodbath and deepening Saudi intervention to expel the Houthi from Yemen. With oppressed Shi’a minorities living in Saudi Arabia, Iran’s support for their Shi’a brethren constitutes a direct challenge to the House of Saud.

The January 2 assassination of prominent Shi’a Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr by the Saudi government was a salient case in point. The murder provoked an angry exchange of words and the severing of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

For now, the winds of change in the Middle East are blowing in Iran’s favor; American Empire is on the decline. Worse still for the U.S. is the forceful re-emergence of Russia in the Middle East, supporting Syrian President Assad and by extension Iran.


For all these reasons, American Empire hawks’ argument that scuttling the treaty, allowing Iran to restart its nuclear weapons program and pursuing regime change might be a cynical but better strategy to hold the line in the Middle East.

Empire hawks and GOP presidential hopefuls will continue to castigate Obama for being weak on Iran and blast the nuclear deal. But the reality is that since Obama took office, America has been running covert CIA operations inside Iran. His administration collaborated with Israel on everything from the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist to launching the STUXNET computer virus that damaged thousands of Iranian nuclear centrifuges—an “act of war” by any standard. Obama tried to the same Stuxnet cyber-attack on North Korea, but it failed.

The Stuxnet cyberattack was a strategy that helped to prevent Iran from “going nuclear” and proved instrumental in forcing them to the negotiating table. If Republicans hawks want regime change in Iran, their best bet would be to win the presidency in 2016 and unilaterally terminate the treaty.

All they would have to do is convince the American people, Europe and the United Nations that the world would be safer with Iran speeding to develop a nuclear weapon, instead of what we have today—an Iran with no capacity or program to develop a weapon of mass destruction. Good luck.










Will Donald Trump’s “White Lives Matter” Movement Take Over or Split the Republican Party?


Win or lose, Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential run has ignited a civil war inside the Republican Party. The GOP now finds itself navigating a perilous course as Trump’s ultra-nativist forces prepare for an all-out fight for control of the GOP.

Should Trump lose, a breakaway movement to form America’s first mass right-wing nationalist organization is a very real possibility. Either way, the GOP as we know it will not likely survive the 2016 elections.

Trump’s angry legions of mostly white, older, less educated and moderate income Middle Americans may best be characterized as the “White Lives Matter” (WLM) movement. The 2016 elections mark the showdown with the GOP establishment they’ve long waited for.

Feeling that America no longer works for them, WLM has gone on the offensive against the federal government, corporations, banks, globalization, the media and immigrants that represent a clear and present danger to their way of life.

While the nation and the Republican establishment are reeling at WLM’s meteoric rise, the insurgents are brimming with confidence and swag. They should be for two reasons; history and charismatic leadership are leaning in their direction.

Processing revolts of angry whites with WLM’s demographic footprint is nothing new for the GOP. In 1968, Republicans converted Gov. George Wallace’s states’ rights, segregationist presidential supporters into a solid GOP voting bloc in the south.

But 2016 will be different. WLM has absorbed the lessons of the post-1990 revolts against the GOP establishment. That historical reference not only informs their disdain for compromise, but has strengthened their resolve.

This time WLM will not cave in to establishment presidential candidates like McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012. Unlike Ross Perot’s reform movement, their political agenda won’t be coopted as the GOP did with the 1994 Contract with America.

Buoyed by Trump’s presidential poll position, uncompromising tone, media star power and deep pockets, WLM has the strategic depth to prosecute the fight all the way to the Republican convention and beyond. By funding his own campaign and condemning Super PACS as the fount of corruption, Trump has emerged as WLM’s noble crusader who won’t sell out to the establishment they despise.

WLM’s litany of grievances is substantial, but their rage is primarily driven by their economic marginalization in the “new economy.” Since the Great Recession ended in 2009, real median household income has remained almost $4,000 below pre-recession levels and 1999 income levels.

And while the U.S. economy has grown, WLM has slipped further and further behind. When Obamacare tried to siphon off $500 billion of Medicare benefits to help cover health insurance for non-citizens and the foreign born, WLM activists who depend on government entitlements chomped at the bit.

WLM also fear globalization. They distrust corporations that transferred hundreds of thousands of American jobs overseas. Worse still, they dread the future. The speed that technology continuously transforms the work place has outpaced their ability to upgrade their educational and job skills. Especially for the less well educated, WLM’s economic instability and uncertainty about the future has pushed suicide and drug addiction to new levels.

Above all, it is immigration that animates WLM’s intense hated of the Republican Party establishment. WLM feels they are losing the competition for critical federal assistance payments to immigrants-legal and illegal.

They want birthright citizenship ended and the wall on America’s southern border completed now to stop illegal immigration from Mexico. Where WLM erred was believing the Republican Party shared their views.

After Mitt Romney’s presidential defeat in 2012, Republican leaders and top donors gathered to craft a new strategy to take back the White House. The GOP has lost four of the last six presidential races. At issue was the Republicans capacity to expand beyond its white core constituency or risk political insolvency.

Accordingly, the 2012 Growth and Opportunity Report stated that “Among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform.” Conservative luminaries like Sean Hannity, Rupert Murdock, Charles Krauthammer and financial powerhouse Sheldon Adelson all sang the praises of the report. For WLM it was the last straw; the civil war had begun.

Whether WLM was naïve, or simply ignorant of corporate America and the Chamber of Commerce’s long-standing support of open immigration policies remains to be seen. Nevertheless, the GOP report and the subsequent push by the Senate “Gang of Eight” to pass an immigration reform bill became the focus on intense opposition.

Beyond immigration, the GOP establishment had other scores to settle; namely prosecuting a rearguard action to knock the Tea Party back into line. The GOP machine wanted to exact a pound of flesh after stalwart senators Richard Lugar, Bob Bennett and Charlie Christ were taken down by Tea Party renegades in 2010.

It wasn’t until Congress voted on October 16, 2013 to lift the debt ceiling and reopen the federal government that the GOP establishment claimed the Tea Party “fever is broken.” But reports of the Tea Party’s demise were greatly exaggerated. In 2014, House Majority Leader Eric Canter was torpedoed in the Republican primary. A year later John Boehner was chased from the House Speaker’s chair.

The GOP establishment’s position on immigration and campaign of retribution against Tea Party activists had created a rebellion in search of a leader. Thus, when candidate Trump, blasted Mexican illegals as rapists, drug dealers and murderers, WLM sprang to life.

Since June 2015, Trump has been on a roll. His call to deport 12 million illegals was only the beginning. The ISIS inspired Paris and San Bernardino terrorist attacks not only poured more fuel on the fire, but gassed up Trump’s image as the defender of America against foreign hordes bent on her destruction.

In calling for a national registry of Muslims, banning all non-American Muslims from entering the country and suggesting he’d kill family members of suspected terrorists, Trump deliberately pushed WLM’s agenda beyond constitutional legality.

On every issue from his protectionist trade policy to isolationist criticism that U.S. intervention in Iraq wasted $2 trillion that could have been used to create American jobs, Trump’s message is narrowly tailored to address WLM’s economic anxiety.

It is also no accident that Trumps political lexicon is laced with power connotations. His adversaries are all “weak,” lack “toughness” or are “low-energy.” He, on the other hand is a man of strength and action. He’s not going to defeat ISIS, he’s going to “bomb the s_ _ _ out of ISIS.” His insulting remarks against women and the disabled are part of a well-orchestrated war against political correctness.

Trump understands that culture and language, not policies, are the sharpest weapons of criticism in a civil war. His attack on political correctness is a green light to WLM that they don’t have to conceal their angst about being white and being left behind by the government and the GOP. They are heeding the message.

Most of all, Trump understands that WLM requires a strongman—a maximum leader. Donald Trump is not simply building a base of support to win a presidential campaign. Unwittingly or not, he’s building a predominantly white political army that bears all the hallmarks of a nascent totalitarian movement.

WLM’s bolt into the political mainstream may be new to America; it is however not unique to America. In Germany, France and Britain right-wing nativist movements are on the rise; all spurred by an anti-immigrant backlash sweeping over Europe.

Speculation about how the GOP will stop, co-opt or embrace Donald Trump will undoubtedly dominate the headlines from now until the Republican convention in Cleveland. Whether he prevails or not, WLM, by any name, will likely become an enduring political feature in America’s body-politic.



“Containment Plus” Can Obama’s ISIS Strategy Prevail?


05bernardino_web12-master675The San Bernardino terrorist attack has pushed President Obama back into the dock of world public opinion. His Oval Office speech articulating a more muscular “Containment Plus” strategy sought to calm fears and assure the world ISIS could be defeated. It did neither.

Instead Donald Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering America became the subject of debate from European parliaments to the Arab street. Why did Obama argue to stay the course of containment when the consensus and results suggested it is a flawed policy? Simply put, it was Obama’s only viable option.

Republicans howled but offered no alternative plan. The American people won’t support putting conventional troops on the ground, neither will Obama’s European and Arab allies. Furthermore, Obama’s decision to make removing President Assad’s regime top priority in the Syrian civil war gave ISIS the oxygen and maneuvering room needed to stand up its caliphate.   

The San Bernardino terrorist attack has changed the equation. Obama must move on ISIS. Last week Britain’s parliament voted to commence air strikes in Syria and Iraq. With France fully on board after the Paris massacre, Obama now believes a more committed and aggressive application of “Containment Plus” can neutralize ISIS in the short run.

So how would the “Containment Plus” model work? The basic game plan calls for increased air strikes against ISIS command and control centers, oil transport operations, heavy weaponry, communications hubs, storage and training centers.  

In addition, efforts to interrupt ISIS financial operations and oil transfers would severely degrade ISIS’s fighting capacity and ability to fund its Islamic state. A revenue strapped ISIS would be forced to increase taxes on its already overburdened population and create difficulties maintaining the  militia’s payroll.

Eventually, a discontented population and militia would rebel. The disintegration of the ISIS caliphate would begin. True enough, air strikes could not defeat ISISI on the ground. But with their forces severely degraded the U.S. and its allies would finally pull together indigenous Syrian rebels to advance on the ISIS capitol of Raqqa and other strongholds.

Presumably the dismemberment of the caliphate in Iraq and Syria would deprive ISIS of its’ primary recruiting asset: the Islamic state. In addition, Obama could help his cause by capturing or killing ISIS maximum leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  Oddly enough, this imperative is rarely mentioned.   

“Containment Plus” does have a downside. It will take time. ISIS will still maintain its capacity for conducting global operations from its bases in Libya, Yemen and northern Nigeria. Moreover, the destruction of the ISIS caliphate will not end the civil war in Syria, it would simply initiate a new phase of the conflict.

That being said, it’s critical that the Obama administration and the intelligence community revisit their strategic assessment of ISIS. From the beginning ISIS was misunderstood and underestimated. Indeed, their political, marketing, recruitment and battlefield sophistication continues to wrong foot the United States.

It can be argued that part of the Obama Administration’s blind spot was viewing ISIS through the lens of fighting al Qaeda post 9/11.  Al Qaeda was a small, secretive terror organization providing logistics, financing, planning and training to select jihadi cells conducting hi-end attacks against America. Their goal was to force the United States out of the Middle East and begin to “restore” Islam.

On the other hand ISIS is a mass organization of conventional and urban guerilla fighters, seasoned in the Iraq and Syrian civil wars. Their goal was not primarily directing attacks against America, but to create an ever expanding Islamic state—a caliphate they successfully established in Iraq and Syria.

Unlike al Qaeda that didn’t attack other Sunni jihadists and Shia Muslims, ISIS seeks to eliminate al Qaeda as a rival jihadist force. ISIS is also hell bent on stoking all-out war against Shia Muslims led by Iran.

In this respect ISIS is following the playbook of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the former leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, who converted the insurgency against the U.S occupation into a bloody sectarian war against Iraqi Shia. Zarqawi’s brutal killings and sectarian bombings of civilians led to his break with Bin Laden’s faction of al Qaeda and the subsequent formation of ISIS.

With seven Middle Eastern countries involved in the Syrian civil war, events are rapidly evolving toward a Sunni-Shia showdown—a possibility fraught with cataclysmic consequences. At the end of the day that just may be ISIS’s goal.


ISIS Attack on Paris: The First of the Storm

franceunitedIn the aftermath of the ISIS Friday 13th mass attack that killed 129 people in Paris, events are escalating quickly. From European capitals to the crisis room at the White House, the western world is on “ISIS alert.”

But the vexing question remains; what is to be done about ISIS? What we have seen and heard thus far does not inspire confidence.

France is now in a “state of emergency” for three months. After calling the attacks “an act of war,” President Francois Hollande launched 30 airstrikes on November 14 on al Raqqa, the ISIS stronghold in Syria. It was a predictable response. But if ISIS has not been stopped by over 1000 bombing runs the last year, what difference will 30 or even 300 more strikes make?

The cold reality is that if ISIS is to be neutralized in Iraq and Syria, they must be defeated by hardened troops on the ground. Therein lies the dilemma for the west. Nobody wants to commit “boots on the ground” to annihilate ISIS.

More instructive is what this attack reveals about what we know and don’t know about ISIS. We now know how seriously the international intelligence community and national leaders in the west underestimated ISIS.

Unlike al Qaeda, establishing an Islamic caliphate was not the empty rhetoric of a JV (Junior Varsity) according to President Obama. With the United States and the west preoccupied with toppling Syrian President Assad following the 2011 Arab Spring rising, ISIS moved methodically to establish its Islamic state in Syria and then expand into Iraq.

Similarly, ISIS was underestimated regarding its ambition for global reach across the Middle East and into Europe. Following the Paris attacks, retired U.S. generals and intelligence experts first speculated that al Qaeda were the perpetrators, given the coordination and planning required to execute six simultaneous attacks on French soil.

The lack of clarity about ISIS capabilities were also evident once they took responsibility for the Paris attacks on November 14. American counterterrorism “experts” debated whether the Paris attacks came from an ISIS central command, or if local franchises and trained supporters have the green light to “go when ready.” Given last week’s bombing in Beirut and the Russian airliner downing that ISIS took credit for, the likely answer is that ISIS possesses a potent centralized and decentralized capability.

More importantly, the Paris attack reveals the potential strategic depth ISIS has in Europe and France in particular. Of the 6.3 million Arabs that currently live in Europe, 4.7 million reside in France. The common denominator between the January Charlie Hebdo assault and the Friday 13 attacks in Paris is that Arab French nationals, Arab ex-patriots and recent migrant arrivals from the Middle East were involved.

Simply put ISIS may be strategically targeting France’s large Arab population to raise a substantial fifth column for terrorism. Having launched two major terrorist attacks in France the past eight months this deliberate design may suggest strategic concentration by ISIS.

The November 14, ISIS communique taking responsibility for the Paris attacks states “This attack is the first of the storm and a warning to those who wish to learn.” American and European intelligence services and leaders should take heed. They are still fighting terrorism based on the 9/11 al Qaeda model. That just won’t cut in 2015.

The EU Immigration Crisis: From the Berlin Wall to the Islamic Curtain



The specter of third world migrants and refugees streaming into Europe is presenting EU leaders with a looming crisis. Religious and civil wars coursing through the Middle East and North Africa are fueling the EU’s immigration dilemma. If these conflicts match the intensity and duration of the religious Thirty Years War (1618-1648) then Europe’s version of the “Browning of America” will have far reaching consequences.

Europe’s xenophobic reaction to the immigration crisis can be summarized in three words; “The Muslim Question.” With the International Organization for Immigration reporting that 464,000 migrants have entered Europe since January 2015, (mostly Syrian, Afghan, Iraqi and Eritrean refugees) the blowback has started.   

In July Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, started building a 110 kilometer fence to halt refugees surging north out of Greece and Turkey. Orban said his actions that cut the flow from 10,000 to less than 100 refugee border crossings a day, will “keep Europe Christian.” Tension mounted last week as Austrian officials vowed to construct a fence along their border with Slovenia. Two days later Slovenia threatened to build restrictive barriers on its frontier with Croatia.

The fencing in of Europe’s southern approaches with an “Islamic Curtain” is designed to shut down the Balkan Trail where all roads lead to Germany. While Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Polish officials said they may only take “Christian Syrian refugees,” Germany and Sweden have embraced the influx of civil war refugees, and not solely out of compassion.

Germany has pledged 6 billion euros to support  800,000 migrants by the end of 2015 and is prepared to accept 500,000 asylum seekers a year over the next several years. “If Europe fails on the question of refugees,” warned German Chancellor Angela Merkel, “then it won’t be the Europe we wished for.”

Germany and Sweden’s open immigration policies make economic sense, given Europe’s unsustainable declining birth rates (1.6 per family) and ageing populations. Arguably, migrants could boost Germany’s economy as workers, taxpayers, and consumers helping to shore up its social safety net.  But how long Chancellor Merkel can sustain this policy remains to be seen.

Germany’s southern province of Bavaria is now overwhelmed with refugees. Moreover, Merkel’s poll numbers have dropped five points in the past few months as anxiety rises. One extremist terror attack in Germany associated with “Islam” would exert enormous pressure to derail the entire project.

A wave of right wing nationalism is now washing over a polarized Europe. The “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident,” in Germany, the National Front in France and the UK Independence Party in Britain are growing in influence. The most significant trial of strength with European anti-immigration forces could come in Britain’s 2017 referendum on staying in or getting out of the European Union. Not surprisingly, Prime Minister David Cameron has called for curbs on the free movement of migrants and is trying to fast forward the referendum to 2016 to blunt right leaning nationalist criticism.       

Internationally, migration waves spurred by the disruptive consequences of globalization are battering the metropoles of Europe and North America. Asians have surpassed Latinos as the leading sub-group immigrating to America. Russia has an estimated 16 million Muslims within its borders. As for Europe, the crisis shows no signs of abating.      



Republican Fallout Opens Door for Marco Rubio to win Presidential Nomination


With ninety days to go to the February 1, Iowa Presidential caucus Marco Rubio’s campaign appears to be stuck in the mud. But appearances like presidential polls can be deceiving. Rubio is uniquely positioned to surge to the forefront by the time the Ides of March descends on the Republican field next spring.  Rubio’s unlikely path to the GOP nomination can best be described as the “politics of collapse,” and it is already unfolding in dramatic fashion.

On October 22, Jeb Bush withering under attacks from Donald Trump and frustrated with his own pathetic performance finally exploded. Displaying all the arrogance and angst of a man endowed with a sense of hereditary entitlement, Jeb said “I’ve got a lot of really cool things I could be doing instead of sitting around being miserable and listening to being demonized by people or feeling compelled to demonize them. That is a joke. If that’s what you want then elect Trump.”

In reality Bush was finished before his campaign began. Bush has no guts, no guile and no passion for the rigors of a national campaign or the job. More important, he has never articulated a rationale for his candidacy except patrimonial lineage and a war chest of cold cash. Jeb Bush has one chance to redeem himself and help his party; muster the courage to step aside early and go do those “really cool things.”

The second bombshell clearing a path for Marco Rubio was Ben “Quiet Storm” Carson overtaking Donald Trump in a October 27th CBS News/New York Times nationwide presidential poll. Dr. Carson moved ahead of Trump with a 26 to 22 percent lead and is beating him in Iowa, the hotbed of hard right Republican cultural conservatism. If you think Trump has been over the top with his slash and burn campaign against immigrants and women, the worst is yet to come now that he is behind in the polls. The invective Trump will unleash against Dr. Carson has already started with attacks on his religious affiliation as a Seventh Day Adventist. His problem is that Dr. Carson’s camp is going to match Trump blow for blow. When the bloodletting is finished the spectacle of mutually assured destruction will likely consume both candidates.

The impeding collapse of Bush, Carson and Trump will ultimately leave Marco Rubio waiting in the wings as the only “reasonable conservative” the GOP party establishment can close ranks behind.  Rubio represents a clean break with Republican presidential nominees of the past and their losing ways. He radiates youthful exuberance. Rubio is urbane, articulate and has the oratorical skills to animate when talking about the future. He is the only Republican that can turn out the Hispanic swing vote. Moreover, when Republicans finally confront the realities of electoral math, Rubio can carry Florida and Texas. Should Rubio take on John Kasich as his Vice President he can beat Hillary in Ohio and turn the Midwest battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin into hotly contested races.

It’s clear that the Republican Party in Congress and thus far in the presidential campaign is imploding. It leads one to wonder if a sensible center still exist in the GOP. If it does, they should brook no delay in circling the wagons around Marco Rubio. But I wouldn’t bet on it. As John Kasich asked in his sendoff event for the Colorado debate “What has happened to our party?” It’s collapsing John!

By Webster Brooks

Brook Foreign Policy Report

Will Russia’s October Surprise Foil Obama’s War on Syria?


Russia’s dramatic military intervention in Syria’s civil war this October threatens to torpedo the United States and NATO’s four-year project to depose Syrian President al Assad. Say what you will about Russian President Putin; but he is no half-stepper.

This was no slow buildup of detachments of “military advisors,” computer whiz-kids and administrative support personnel in back rooms banging out reports and diplomatic cables to Moscow. No, Putin ordered fighter jets to bomb U.S supported Free Syrian Army targets, unsheathed cruise missiles from Russian ships in the Caspian Sea, and dispatched attack helicopters to provide close combat support for pro-Assad and Hezbollah forces engaged in intense street fighting around Homs and other cities.

Putin’s actions were neither precipitous nor more Russian bullying to get a seat at the table in the most high stakes war raging in the Middle East. It was a calculated response to derail President Obama’s not so secret plan to topple the Assad government in close partnership with Turkey.

Well before the Pentagon’s October 9 announced that it is shutting down its $500 million program to stand up a new rebel force inside Syria to fight ISIS, President Obama has been working to cut a deal with President Rayyip Erdogan to put Turkish boots on the ground in Syria. In October 2014 Turkey’s Prime Minister Davutoglu told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that Turkey would be willing to put its troops on the ground in Syria “if others do their part.”

So what does Turkey want? Erdogan has four basic demands. Turkey wants a buffer zone on the Syrian side of the border to protect Turkey against Assad’s forces and ISIS attacks. Erdogan wants a no-fly zone over all or parts of Syria and for America to turn a blind eye to his continuous bombing of Kurdish independence forces inside Syria and Iraq. Most importantly, Erdogan wants Syrian President Bashar al-Assad removed from power and that is the nexus of the deal.

The first major breakthrough came when the U.S. was granted access to fly missions against Syria from Turkeys Incirlik air base. That was a game changer. US bombers, drones and fighters can now enter Syrian airspace in 15 minutes instead of 3 to 4 hours from Bahrain. Notwithstanding the ramping up of U.S. air power and the transport of supplies and equipment, Assad’s defeat will require serious ground forces.

Clearly the top priority of Obama’s evolving Syria strategy remains taking down President Assad, not defeating I.S.I.S. This explains why he is shifting tactics to more heavily arm al Qaeda mercenaries to battle the Assad regime while negotiating with Turkey to get boots on the ground.

What President Obama hadn’t counted on was Russia’s October surprise attack. The U.S and its allies are now facing seasoned Syrian, Hezbollah and Iranian ground forces, backed by Russian airpower. Syria’s civil war has just taken a serious turn, but just where its going no body knows.