Saturday Headlines

The Evolution Of Migrant Smuggling In Europe
Throughout Europe, criminal networks are moving from the trade in guns and drugs to exploit the record number of migrants coming from war-torn Syria and beyond. The Wall Street Journal reports on how the practice of migrant-moving has overtaken drug-running and cigarette-smuggling and is no longer strictly the purview of gangs, but individuals as well.

“Over just a few months, the crisis has created a migrant-smuggling opportunity between Turkey and Germany that European security officials estimate at billions of dollars. The expansion of smuggling activity—from sophisticated transnational gangs to the lone opportunist equipped with just a phone and a vehicle—poses another thorny challenge for European governments already divided on how to respond to the migrant crisis,” the paper reports.

Politics And Putin Is Driving Obama Syria Policy
The uncomfortable reality is that the Obama administration’s announcement of its plans to send 50 special operations forces to Syria to “advise and assist” in the battle against ISIS is it has little to do with military strategy and more to do with domestic politics and Russian President Vladimir Putin, says Foreign Policy magazine’s David Rothkopf.

Because the military footprint(s) is so insignificant to have any measurable impact on the war, other reasons must be pushing the shift in strategy.

“Domestically, the move to send U.S. Special Forces into Syria helps the president address the perception of American inaction that was seen to have contributed to the Russian intervention while also helping to address concerns that the administration’s efforts to train the Syrian opposition have been a failure to date. As far as geopolitics is concerned, it lends credibility to America’s desired role in advancing the multiparty talks about Syria’s future taking place in Vienna this week,” writes Rothkopf.

Phillip Lohaus of the American Enterprise Institute echoes Rothkopf’s skepticism that the move represents a fundamental or significant change in the administration’s approach to the war in Syria.

“Forty special operations troops may have been enough to make an impact in the fight against the ISIS of 2012, but not the ISIS of 2015. A pinprick force will only have a pinprick impact, that is, unless they are allowed to exercise the full range of capabilities that they have been trained to bring to bear. The deployment of special operations forces to northern Syria is a public relations campaign and a last-gasp tactic masquerading as prudence and strategy,” he says bluntly.

The Real Lessons Of War Echoed In Star Wars Films

When George Lucas released the first film in his epic science fiction series, few could have imagined how the images on the screen could come to reflect the reality on the battlefield. But from drones to the rise of irregular military forces, fiction is not so different from the real world, argues Justin Bauman in Small Wars Journal.

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