First entry- 2005
"AIPAC prepared a detailed presentation that was given to Netanyahu with all the negative repercussions they believe would result from the controversial invitation to Congress and the cumulative damage. On Feb. 25 behind closed doors, one of the heads of AIPAC said, to paraphrase: All the things we warned him of, are materializing. We foresaw the domino effect that took place, the boycott by more and more Democratic Congress members, the significant deterioration in relations with Democratic legislators, the talks about boycotting the AIPAC convention (that is also being held at the beginning of March) by the administration. We protested, we warned. And who wasn't impressed? Netanyahu. He’s coming.
In anticipation of the speech, the sides have been increasing the stakes on an almost daily basis. First, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Feb. 24 that Netanyahu’s speech is “destructive to the fabric of the relationship” between the two countries. She added, “The relationship between the US and Israel has always been bipartisan and we have been fortunate that politics have not been injected into this relationship. But what has happened over the last several weeks … is that on both sides there have been injected some degree of partisanship.”" Al-Monitor
AIPAC thinks that the speech to Congress in defiance of the president is a bad idea? Really? If that is so, then who, pilgrims, thinks it a good idea? Is it Derner, the former American who is now Israeli ambassador in Washington? Is it Bonehead, errr Boehner? This man can't get his own caucus to vote to fund DHS. Is it the WAR PARTY among the menagerie of Rotary Club strategists, xenophobes (except for Israelis) and primitive Saracen haters that now seem to be the Republican Base? Is there any doubt that Israel's political position will be damaged by the arrogance and contempt displayed for American government in this adventure? pl
"“What the president objects to is not that Mr. Netanyahu will speak to Congress, but the content of what he intends to say,” Dershowitz argues, dismissing protocol objections by noting that “President Obama sent British Prime Minister David Cameron to lobby Congress with phone calls last month against conditionally imposing new sanctions on Iran if the deal were to fail.” He adds that Congress has full constitutional authority to participate in foreign policy and invite speakers.
Dershowitz has harsh words for those Democrats–fewer than two dozen–who are planning to boycott the speech.
“As a liberal Democrat who twice campaigned for President Barack Obama, I am appalled,” he declares, warning that they are turning Israel into a partisan issue. “This will not only hurt Israel but will also endanger support for Democrats among pro-Israel voters. I certainly would never vote for or support a member of Congress who walked out on Israel’s prime minister.”
Dershowitz has twice endorsed Obama for president, but has also warned repeatedly that Obama could become America’s version of Neville Chamberlain if he allowed Iran to become a nuclear power.
Obama’s promise to prevent that “seems to be in the process of being broken,” Dershowitz notes, “as reports in the media and Congress circulate that the deal on the table contains a sunset provision that would allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons after a certain number of years." Breitbart
IMO Dershowitz is a rational man until what he sees as Israel's interest is involved, then he begins to threaten and snarl at those who on any other issue would be his "friends."
He threatens the president of the United States and members of Congress over the interests of a foreign country?
It appears that for him Israel is not a foreign country. pl
"Genêt's goals in South Carolina were to recruit and arm American privateers who would join French expeditions against the British. He commissioned four privateering ships in total, including the Republicaine, the Anti-George, the Sans-Culotte, and the Citizen Genêt. Working with French consul Michel Ange Bernard Mangourit, Genêt organized American volunteers to fight Britain's Spanish allies in Florida. After raising a militia, Genêt set sail toward Philadelphia, stopping along the way to marshal support for the French cause and arriving on May 18. He encouraged Democratic-Republican societies, but President Washington denounced them and they quickly withered away.
His actions endangered American neutrality in the war between France and Britain, which Washington had pointedly declared in his Neutrality Proclamation of April 22. When Genêt met with Washington, he asked for what amounted to a suspension of American neutrality. When turned down by Secretary of StateThomas Jefferson and informed that his actions were unacceptable, Genêt protested. Meanwhile, Genet's privateers were capturing British ships, and his militia was preparing to move against the Spanish.
Genêt continued to defy the wishes of the United States government, capturing British ships and rearming them as privateers. Washington sent Genet an 8,000-word letter of complaint on Jefferson's and Hamilton's advice " Wiki on Genet
It has been a long time since a foreign political leader or ambassador attempted to seize control of American foreign policy on behalf of his own government's desires. In Genet's time even the Francophiles like Jefferson rejected foreign interference in our affairs. Today, the Zionist 5th column advances the foreign leader's agenda. pl
Once I interviewed a psychopath who was in prison. He was in his forties, charming, intelligent, sun tanned, lean, and all went well. As I was leaving, as we were shaking hands, eyes locked, he said to me, “its good I met you in here, Richard, because if I met you outside, I’d kill you in a minute,” and gave a friendly laugh.
I thought of that when lately I was thinking of the causes of WWII, and Hitler. You see the images of Hitler on the American Heroes Channel, (talk about misleading hyperbole), with his mustache, and you suddenly realize that we have to brush aside the idea that he was some mythic figure with supernatural powers. He was a man just like me and you. If you study his face without its mustache, you see that he has high forehead crowned by hair, and a thin, triangular face. It is not a handsome face, but a grim and unwelcoming face. The trouble starts when you study his mouth. That is where his innate cruelty is expressed very clearly. It is a sinister mouth. The lips are misshapen and vulgar, belligerent, with a hint of a sneer. Studying the mouth is worthwhile.
The difference between Hitler and the rest of us is that he was a psychopath who was brilliant, charming, equipped with a photographic memory like Napoleon, and, who, if you got in his way, would have you killed in a minute like my inmate. He was completely unscrupulous.
Hitler as a human being is utterly reprehensible, but as a strategist he is worth considering, especially when we consider IS and its methods.
Part of the gift of imagination is to be able to foresee effects. It we take an action what will its results be? What are the effects that a policy engenders? What are the consequences? What are the new things to which such a policy gives birth? What new formations or entities will it encourage” What elements does it contain that will it lead to failure? To have no idea of these is to open the path to disaster. Ready made assumptions kill imagination and dull the mind to the consequences of what they have enacted.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Several recipients of my analysis of and policy recommendations on the Ukrainian crisis have have hit on a serious point --my suggestion that in the course of the process aimed at ending the crisis the Ukraine should be considered for membership in the European Union. A few people have doubted that Russia would be prepared to allow it. Their attitude is necessarily at this point uncertain or unknown. Since everyone agrees that the crisis is very serious and I believe this may be a crucial piece of any solution, let me explain my suggestion:
1) To succeed in the major objectives, which I believe are to (a) prevent a slide back into the Cold War, b) prevent further actual and potential clashes between Russia and the West and between Russia and the Ukraine and (c) help in the limited way we can to make the Ukraine into a viable and reasonably healthy and secure nation-state, we need to put together a package;
2) That package cannot be seen by any party -- the leaders of the governments of the US, the EU, NATO, Russia or the Ukraine -- as a humiliation; so there must be something in a successful negotiation and outcome for everyone. As we all know from our daily experiences at our individual level, lopsided deals don't work or last very long;
3) I believe that the Russians will demand, and are right to do so, that the Ukraine forswear joining NATO and that we -- the EU and the US -- affirm clearly and unequivocally that commitment and our obligation not to encourage it;
4) I believe that the leaders of the Ukrainian, the US and probably of the member states of the EU will seek and feel they will need for their own domestic political purposes some sort of at least cosmetic reward for their commitment on the NATO abstention;
"The latest to face the militants’ wrath are the Assyrian Christians, of northeastern Syria, one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, some speaking a modern version of Aramaic, the language of Jesus.
Assyrian leaders have counted 287 people taken captive, including 30 children and several dozen women, along with civilian men and fighters from Christian militias, said Dawoud Dawoud, an Assyrian political activist who had just toured the area, in the vicinity of the Syrian city of Qamishli. Thirty villages had been emptied, he said." NY Times
"Its militants seized the museum — which had not yet opened to the public — when they took over Mosul in June and have repeatedly threatened to destroy its collection.
In the video, put out by the Islamic State’s media office for Nineveh Province — named for an ancient Assyrian city — a man explains, “The monuments that you can see behind me are but statues and idols of people from previous centuries, which they used to worship instead of God.”
A message flashing on the screen read: “Those statues and idols weren’t there at the time of the Prophet nor his companions. They have been excavated by Satanists.”" NY Times
None of this is surprising.
- For these salafist jihadis Christians are an inferior type of ahl al-kitab (people of the book). IS are required by Quran and Hadith to abstain from calling them pagans but backslide continuously into calling them polytheists because of Christian trinitarian doctrine. The practice of the early Muslim community under the Ummayad and Abbasid Caliphates was to charge Christians, Jews and other "people of the book" a capitation tax, (jizyat). This established them as dhimmi ( a protected second class community under Muslim rule). IS considers that it is merely restoring that ancient process. Christian unwillingness to submit to this regime invalidates their "protected" status for IS. IMO they are likely to kill these hostages. BTW if OFAC does not declare some of these resistance groups to be kosher (a little humor) I will have nothing to do with them (the Christians as opposed to OFAC). I have watched DoJ at work too often since 9/11 to risk anything like that. OFAC being what it is I do not expect them to do anything for these people.
- Wahhabi salafist extremists such as these are deeply wedded to their sharia concept of "shirk." This involves the sin of giving importance to material objects; art, people, institutions that in their view should be accorded only to God. From their point of view statues that may have been worshiped are the devil's work. Remember that similar people with similar beliefs destroyed those giant Buddhas in Afghanistan. This vandalism in Mosul is typical for them. pl
"Speculative philosophy of history asks at least three basic questions:
Wiki on the philosophy of history.
The notion that history has direction, purpose, or a destined path is simply absurd. History is what happened, and that is all.
The fantasy of historical directionality is responsible for much of the inability to forecast outcomes that is so evident in today's moment in history. Why is that? It is because the idea of a destined path in human affairs is empty of other than propaganda meaning for ideologues and does not correspond to reality.
It is said by the high and mighty and those who have the media megaphone that this or that is on "the wrong side of history."
- Russia and Putin are said to be "on the wrong side of history" because they are so "foolish" as to imagine that the eternal process of national identity formation, rivalry and ambition are not ended. What is the evidence that this is true?
- President Obama states that the Republicans are "on the wrong side of history" for not accepting his wish to largely abolish US border and immigration law in favor of open borders. Does anyone ask if Mexico is "on the wrong side of history" by not wishing to do the same?
- The Republicans are continuously admonished to transform themselves into a second Democratic Party so as to get "on the right side of history" with regard to the "inevitable" eventual minority status of the white population in the USA. The notion that much of the emerging "minority" population will be transformed into members of the majority American culture over time is studiously ignored. The ongoing cultural integration of Americans of East Asian, Indian (as opposed to Amerindians) and Latino descent speaks to that likely outcome. It is culture, not race, that matters in this debate.
- Socially conservative people are urged to get "on the right side of history" with regard to gay rights. The thinness of "scientific " evidence for the normality of the gay life is not seen on the left as a problem in proclaiming the absolute right to recognition of the LGBT lifestyle as normal.
- Anyone who dares to say, think or write that women and men are not equally capable of all tasks in life is said to be "on the wrong side of history." I am still waiting to learn the name of the first woman marine lieutenant to complete the infantry officer basic course or Army Special Forces training. I await that news and will want to know if the course was "softened" to achieve that end as phys. ed. requirements were softened at West Point to enable women's success when I taught there.
- Were Nazi Germany and imperial Japan defeated because they were "on the wrong side of history" or were they crushed by the massed forces and economies of the USSR and the Western allies?
- Is it really true that the colonial powers were inevitably going to lose their imperial possessions after World War 2 because they were "on the wrong side of history" or were they merely exhausted by the travails of the two world wars and unable to put up more than a fitful resistance either materially or psychologically? Was the Britain that conquered the sub-continent and ruled it for two hundred years beginning in the 18th Century really "on the wrong side of history?"
- If the Yazidis, Christians, Sabaeans, etc. are eliminated by IS as enemies of God will it be said by some that they were "on the wrong side of history" or would it be that they were merely swamped by numbers and the indifference of the US Government to them as largely irrelevant to the development of the poli-sci inspired view of history as the track to centralization, homogenization and an earthly utopia?
Is it not clear that the visions of ideologues, both Left and Right are being allowed to create a fantasy world of inevitability in human destiny? pl
The small Christian minority communities in Syrian and Iraq are threatened with extinction by IS, Nusra and the like. These people typically live in scattered clusters of villages near the Kurdish areas of the two countries. these Christians are among the earliest adherents of Christianity, ar ethe original inhabitants of those lands and were well tolerated by the Ottomans and all succeeding governments until the jihadis arrived on the scene.
The jihadis hate them as much as they hate other Muslims, Yazidis and other ethno-religious minorities. The jihadis are now attacking the Christian villages in both countries, taking hostages and murdering the men.
Is it legal for US citizens to donate money to the militias of political parties that are trying to defend these villages, often with foreign volunteer instruction by European and American soldiers.
The US now has federal law that penalizes and threatens with prosecution anyone who provides "material support" to terrorists.
I am concerned that some of these Christian militia groups may have some sort of connection to Kurdish groups like the PKK ot YPG who are fighting IS in the same areas.
Is there a US government list that designates some of these Christian groups as legal for private citizen support? pl
In a rather ghastly 19th century experiment, a biologist by the name of Heinzmann found that if he placed a frog in boiling water, the frog immediately leapt out but that if he placed the frog in tepid water and then gradually heated it, the frog stayed put until he was scalded to death. Are we like the frog? I see disturbing elements of that process today as we watch events unfold in the Ukraine confrontation. They profoundly frighten me and I believe they should frighten everyone. But they are so gradual that we do not see a specific moment in which we must jump or perish. So here briefly, let me lay out the process of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and show how the process of that crisis compares with what we face today over the Ukraine.
* * *
Three elements stand out in the Cuban Missile Crisis: 1) relations between the USSR and the US were already "on the edge" before they reached the crisis stage; each of us had huge numbers of weapons of mass destruction aimed at the other. 2) the USSR precipitated the Crisis by advancing into Cuba, a country the US had considered part of "area of dominance" since the promulgation of the 1823 Monroe Doctrine. 3) some military and civilian officials and influential private citizens in both countries argued that the other side would "blink" if sufficient pressure was put on it.
Allow me to point out that I had a (very uncomfortable) ringside seat in the Crisis. I was one of three members of the "Crisis Management Committee" that oversaw the unfolding events. On the Monday of the week of October 22, I sat with Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Under Secretary George Ball, Counselor and Chairman of the Policy Planning Council Walt Rostow and Under Secretary for Political Affairs U. Alexis Johnson and listened to President Kennedy's speech to which we all had contributed. The account Kennedy laid out was literally terrifying to those who understood what a nuclear confrontation meant. Those of us in that room obviously did. We were each "cleared" for everything America then knew. And we each knew what our government was seeking -- getting the Russian missiles out of Cuba. Finally, we were poised to do that by force if the Russians did not remove them.
I sent this to someone at CNN.
"- McDonald is NOT a “military man.” (Jake Tapper) He was given a free undergraduate degree at West Point where not only ALL his expenses were paid (I was a professor at WP) but he received a salary as a student as well.
- Mc Donald did not have a “career” in the US Army. (Suzanne Malveaux) After graduation he served the absolute minimum required by law and then RESIGNED from the Army ending any connection with the Army.
- He is not in any sense RETIRED from the US Army. (Malveaux again) Someone who is RETIRED from the military served a full career or was RETIRED for disability. Such a person was transferred from the active list to the RETIRED LIST but is still IN THE ARMY or whichever service.
General (ret.) Eric Shinseki is a RETIRED officer. He is usually referred to on 24/7 news as a “former” general. He is not. He is still a general but Mcdonald is a business shark, not a “military man,” with an Army “career” who “retired” from the Army. "
I was a professor at West Point and served 26 years as a commissioned officer of the Regular Army. I am a Special Forces soldier, school trained and served as such in combat.
Colonel (ret.) US Army
The Washington Post is reporting that a proposed Virginia Bill would make it difficult if not perhaps illegal for animal shelters to euthanize unwanted pets. PETA is apparently alleging that the bill is aimed at itself since it euthanises the majority of its foundlings. There is now apparently infighting among various shelters about the bill.
The shelters in my Australian State work by screening healthy animals for undesirable behavioural traits and those that pass then sit on death row for up to Eight weeks awaiting adoption.
My beloved Chocolate Labrador Roxanne was a rescued dog. My late partner Annie believed that the rescued dogs knew they had been saved from death and accordingly loved you more.
In the full knowledge that fools rush in where angels fear to tread, I ask; What say you about this bill?
"Mr. McDonald, a 1975 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, served in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, where he completed jungle, arctic, desert warfare and Ranger training, according to his official biography.
But his assertion to a homeless veteran in Los Angeles that he was in Special Forces — captured on camera for a CBS News report — was false, he acknowledged on Monday. His initial claim was first reported by The Huffington Post." NY Times
He graduated from Hudson High (USMA, where I taught) in peacetime. West Point cadets have all expenses paid and are paid a salary while studying there. After graduation he went to the Officer Basic Course, Ranger School (a leadership course) the Airborne School, and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division (that's about 15,000 people) at Ft. Bragg, NC. While there he participated in various unit training events like "jungle, arctic, desert warfare" thingies and then resigned (not retired) from the US Army as soon as his service obligation (five years) was fulfilled. He had this obligation because the US Government and US taxpayers had paid for his four years at West Point. The bill for this educational experience is variously thought to be between 3 and 5 hundred thousand dollars (depending on how the cost of staff and faculty, post and garrison at WP, etc. is computed). He left (resigned, not retired) the Army to pursue his real calling in life which was evidently to become a Wall Street/business mogul and very wealthy man. IMO a peacetime stint in the 82nd Airborne Division as a junior officer was a bit like an extended stay at "Outward Bound." He should thank us all for giving him all these educational experiences while paying him (including at West Point). If he did I would say, "you are welcome."
Nevertheless, he lied to a homeless ex-soldier in LA, while mugging for the TV camera. McDonald was not trained to be a special ops guy, nor did he serve as one but he did lie about it. He asked this ex-soldier (who may also have been lying) when he served in SF. You only ask someone that if you are trying to establish if you served together. This question amplified the lie.
Well, so what, you might ask. Lots of people lie. Lot's of people leave the Army taking their West Point education to the business world. Wall Street is full of them. Those people are largely responsible for funding (through private contributions) the West Point located institute for the study of terrorism (or whatever they call it).
Nevertheless, a lie is still a lie. "Duty, Honor, Country,' is the West Point motto.
On the other hand there is the example of General (ret.) Eric Shinseki, the man who as Army Chief of Staff told the senate the truth about the probable costs of the Iraq War. He walks very well on his ruined leg. You can hardly see how bad his injuries were. He, too, is a West Point graduate. Shinseki was purged from his position as Secretary of Veteran's Affairs in the kind of hysterical press induced frenzy that has become the norm in the US. Who is the better man?
Would it be worth driving McDonald from office for this lie? No, but an attempt to steal from brave mens' record of valor is a sorry thing. pl
Let's face up to the fact that in war, in close combat, one always loses men captured by the enemy. There will certainly be close combat and American soldiers and airmen will be involved and some will inevitably be captured.
IS will kill them in the most gaudy and spectacular ways that they can devise. IS sees such killings of the "crusaders" as justified because IS believes that those who fight them are the enemies of God. IS also believes that such unequivocal propaganda of the deed is very useful in recruiting worldwide.
Such an attitude is not unusual. The Japanese "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" sought to humiliate and destroy Allied POWs for much the same reasons. They expected that the Filipinos, Malays and others would rally to them upon demonstration of White inferiority.
Unfortunately, we are not altogether innocent of this kind of thinking. A three star US general of my acquaintance told me on the occasion of the First Gulf War that if the Iraqi people or Iraqi Army resisted us they should be "destroyed." Fortunately, no one was likely to listen to him, but still...
If the Obama Administration is going to follow its declared policy in Iraq and eventually in Syria we must be prepared for the worst. pl
Permit me to add some Sunday black humour. Following the U.S. State Department pronunciamento that a lack of jobs for young Islamic males was fuelling jihadism, "The D.C. Clothesline" web site reports that State is flooded with job applications from said jihadists, a selection are reproduced at the link….
On a serious toe, such a suggestion indicates that the State Department Pollyannas still believes the "market forces" utilitarian political science model applies to ISIS members and not the millennial cult model of Woods article.
Any move to retake Mosul requires a much higher level of Iraqi Army (IA), Kurdish peshmerga and Coalition capability, planning and coordination than has been seen to date. Given the lack of alignment on strategy, much less tactics, between these three groups combined with ongoing leadership and combat power issues in each I’d suggest that any move towards Mosul would not occur any time soon. If it did move early, great effort would be needed to ensure sufficient application of combat power and logistical support to the forces involved, and the ability to protect its logistics tail (lines of communication). And it would likely be a slow process unless Coalition forces were engaged to strike key centers of gravity / leadership targets that resulted in a cascade of effects on Daesh forces in Mosul – something not necessarily a high likelihood. Should Daesh choose to stand and fight in an urban environment any engaging force – in particular one split politically and lacking experience and capacity – would find it tough going. Should Daesh withdraw, they would still retain significant presence and disruptive capacity in Iraq, with elements returning to Syria and others reinforcing operations in Anbar. In other words, they would remain a very real threat, one that has significant presence and support. And, absent an even-handed approach to managing post-attack governance in Mosul, revenge killings and harassment against the population by Shia militias and Kurdish forces would set the stage for ongoing conflict.
There is a Zionist dilemma, which Ariel Sharon, late in life, had to grapple with. The fundamental tenet of Zionism in all its various 19th and 20th century forms (as distinct from Judaism as a religion, particularly prophetic Judaism), is that the only safe place for Jews, free from pogroms and holocausts, is in a Jewish-majority state. What that means is that any kind of one-state solution, encompassing all of the land of historic Palestine, must either: 1. be an apartheid state, in which non-Jews are second class citizens without full voting rights. The recent change in the Israeli Basic Law (they don't have a constitution) actually provides for such a two-tier citizenship provision under the rubric of Israel as a "Jewish State." 2. Mass expulsion of the majority of Palestinians from the West Bank to some kind of walled-off permanent refugee camp called Gaza. Sharon decided on a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza to preserve the "Jewishness" of Israel and the West Bank for some period of time. Eliminating the 1.3 million Palestinian residents of Gaza from the equation provided for a Jewish majority for a longer period of time.
Either expel the Palestinians of the West Bank into Jordan (in Israel, this is called "Jordan is Palestine" and is advocated by people like Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman) and/or Gaza--or eliminate them via some more overtly genocidal action.
These are the options, under the underlying terms of Zionism. It is, of course, possible for a sane element within the Israeli society and Israeli leadership to abandon or modify those tenets in order to achieve peace. A two-state solution, as negotiated at Oslo and revived by President Bill Clinton towards the very end of his presidency, would, of course, solve the Zionist dilemma. But Netanyahu is not interested in accepting the territorial limitations by allowing a viable Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza.
Anecdote: A friend of mine, a prominent African-American political figure from a famous family, was asked to address a Jewish audience in Brooklyn a number of years ago. He accepted the invitation, but when he arrived at the appointed location, he discovered it was the Brooklyn chapter of the Anti-Defamation League. He could plainly see that he was facing a very hostile crowd. He had to think on his feet. After being introduced to stone-faced stares from the majority of the hundred or so people in the room, my friend asked: "How many of you think it can happen here?" Immediately, every hand in the room shot up in the air. He responded: "Before they can get to you, they have to get us out of the way first. I think that is a starting point for a dialogue." He got a standing ovation at the end of the session.
This is, indeed, the ultimate paradox for Israel. They can no longer have it both ways. If they try, they are going to be ostracized and isolated from their last remaining few friends, including the United States. I think they've lost much of Europe already, maybe with the exception of Britain and Germany (for very different historic reasons, obviously). The big issue in my mind is whether there are some circles inside the Israeli institutions who understand the crisis clearly enough to act from the inside, to assure Netanyahu's defeat and the formation of a government that will move rapidly to revive the Peres-Abbas deal.
Note that, in the last few weeks, the US Government has released a study from the late 1960s, on how Israel got the nuclear bomb, and the role of both France and the United States in that process. Not a new story, but releasing some previously classified US Government documents at this moment does send a message. And I urge everyone to watch the Al Jazeera America documentary, recently aired on the USS Liberty. Aside from some very excellent interviews with survivors, and some new documents, the broadcast featured an interview with retired Four Star Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, who was absolutely blunt about the fact that the Israelis knew that they were attacking a US spy ship, and they did it anyway. They were betting that the power of the Zionist Lobby, even back then, would be sufficient to silence LBJ. That message, coming out at this moment, is, IMHO, intended as a further message to the Israeli institutions. There have been back-channel promises made by some Israeli military and intelligence circles that they understand the damage that Netanyahu has done to the US-Israeli relationship and they intend to take action. March 17 is one good place to start.
Tonight I watched Brooks of the NY Times explain to Woodruff and Shields the religious motivation of IS. He had it exactly right. They did not have a clue as to what he was talking about. Congratulations to him. I have no way to communicate to him. I hope one of you will pass my compliments. pl
The organisation, the Nineveh Plains Protection Units, has more than 3,000 troops serving or awaiting training, and has the backing of the Iraqi Government and the Kurdish Peshmerga.
The force has 500 Assyrian Christian troops stationed in towns such as Alqosh in the Nineveh Plains to defend them from ISIS, with a further 500 being trained and another 3,000 men registered and awaiting training. Their aim is to take back the rest of the Nineveh Plains, a traditionally Christian part of Iraq, which was overrun by ISIS last summer. More than 100,000 Christians are currently displaced in the nearby Kurdish-controlled region of northern Iraq, along with a large number of Yazidis.
The Assyrian forces are allied to the Iraqi Army and Kurds but do not take orders from either, and their aim is to establish an administrate area for the Assyrians and Yazidis, as well as other minorities such as Shabaks and Mandeans." Catholic Herald by way of the Independent
Just thought to give all you poly sci people as well as other assorted materialists something to bitch about. I expect that the Muslims who are members of this committee will approve of the "Ninevah Plains Protection Units." pl
"According to the senior military official, the operation to recapture the northern city will probably take place in April or May.
Iraq's second largest city is currently being held by 1,000 to 2,000 IS militants, the official added.
Mosul was home to more than a million people before it fell to IS last June.
The unnamed official told reporters that no decision had been made on whether a small group of US military advisers would be needed on the ground to direct air support.
All of the fighters in the force will have gone through US training by the time of the operation, the official added.
He said the operation would be needed by May, otherwise it would be compromised by the summer heat, although he added that it could be delayed if the Iraqi forces were not ready.
So what is going on here? IMO this is pressure on Obadi's government to move north soon with his masse de manoevre. The Iraqi government is quoted as saying "maybe in the Fall." (Translation: maybe never. We'll keep Baghdad)
Why would we pressure them? Politics in the US and delusions in the White House would be the reasons. The Childrens' Crusade wants quick gratification like any group of experience challenged adolescents. When that kind of desire for justification of belief is combined with the anomie reported in the recent US Army report on the lack of ethics now prevalent in the officer corps, then the stage is set for a drama that Clausewitz would have recognized from his own writings on the "culminating point" of battles and campaigns. (Culminating points, not tipping points)
The Iraqis will have a smallish force which will have to outpost the long road north to Mosul. It should be expected that no matter how far the spearheads go the road behind them will be subject to closure. Cut the supply line and the spearheads will die - simple principle. By the time the Iraqi Army/Shia death squads (militias) reach Mosul there will be fewer of them and they will be in Sunni country.
This will be the last real chance for the Shia to establish control over Iraq as it was and maybe the last chance for the BHO Administration to be taken seriously in war. pl
"The White House responded by dispatching thousands of American military, diplomatic, and intelligence personnel to Iraq in a final bid to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. But this desperate, ill-conceived effort will inevitably fail because the administration is employing the chainsaws of Iraq’s Iranian-backed Shiite militias rather than the scalpels of American special operations forces in its ground war against IS.
When it became clear that the Islamic State posed an existential threat to Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government, the country’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, resorted to a measure not taken in a century: Heissued a religious edict calling for all able-bodied men to take up arms to defend the state. Within months, hundreds of thousands of young Shiites responded to the call — and today, virtually all of them have been absorbed into Iranian-dominated militias, whose fundamental identity is built around a sectarian narrative rather than loyalty to the state. Recently, one militia commander estimated their total strength at 800,000 men, dwarfing the official Iraqi Security Forces." FP.com
Yes. IMO we Americans destroyed Iraq as a country, and yet further destruction awaits. Giuliani and the other nationalist, flag waving half-wits are busy appealing to the mouth breathing "set" and labeling other Americans as non-patriots because of differing opinion on policy. Sad! Nevertheless, recent polling from Pew indicates that most Americans now realize that we are condemned to yet more war in Mesopotamia with our own people on the ground. Why? Wait until Operation Mahdi or whatever the Shia government calls it begins and then we will see. pl
I know many people who don’t begin their lives in earnest until they retire. Suddenly they want to be people of widespread education and broad culture because now they have time to study. How often one hears, “Now that I don’t work, I am free to read.” B.S. To most of them, study means reading the newspapers or Hunger Games. Most could not pass a quiz about what they read. Yet suddenly they are to be seen gazing at art in museums, gazing at paintings, listening to classic music at concerts, not truly understanding what they artists meant or what their value of their art consisted of. They have been told it’s revered. They have been told that it is “great” art, and that “great” art is admired by well educated people, and they want to be well educated and admired, and so they fall in step.
The sheer shallowness of their minds is truly astonishing. They have never been forced to know the inner resources of their own nature. They do not know the conditions that allowed for the development of individual thought in history. They do not grasp the role of commerce in the development of art.
When you have spent your life diving in the shallows, doing the mental dead-man’s float, how do you develop a taste for depth? How do you learn to swim and carry yourself through the water? You can’t. There is in these eager seekers for self improvement a deficiency of personality– a lack of any depth of curiosity -- the lack of an ability to ask questions -- a lack of the ability to be deeply moved – a lack of the ability to apply themselves -- deficiencies that prevent them from learning to distinguish the true from the false. The self-educated take something that someone else has pronounced valuable, but they personally never ask themselves why it is so. What creates its value? Why is this painting more valuable than another? What creates its worth? What was its style? What was it attempting to render? Perhaps what others have called “valuable” really wasn’t valuable and enduring after all. Maybe its value was momentary, a prisoner of fashion, of fad, of idleness, and in the end maybe it was destined to end up on the scrap heap.
By Patrick Bahzad
The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into
a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity
and honour. Things have been far worse than we have
been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient
than the public knows. It is a disgrace to our imperial record,
and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure.
T.E. LAWRENCE, "Report on Mesopotamia",
Sunday Times (August 1920)
By the time ISIS – then still ISI – launched its 2010 offensive against Baghdad and Central Iraq, preparations were well underway for the tidal wave of "Arab Spring" revolutions that swept across North Africa and the Middle-East. Although this is not the subject of this essay, there's a lot to be said about what seemingly started as spontaneous mass demonstrations of disorganised youth who rallied under slogans coined by "Facebook", "Twitter" and other social media, in a movement that spread from Tunisia to Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and finally Syria.
Suffice to say that these revolutions were neither fully spontaneous nor totally disorganised. To those with an eye for that kind of detail, they seemed like a distant echo of the colour and flower revolutions that did away with authoritarian, anti-US regimes from Belgrade to Kiev and Tbilisi in the early 2000s. Based on a similar 2.0 template of democratic revolution, with the insurgency option as a contingency plan, this rudimentary approach proved to work out rather well – at least in the short run – in countries such as Tunisia and Egypt, but it would show serious shortcomings in Libya and even more so in Syria, where the deep flaws of this regime change strategy camouflaged as a peaceful movement for democracy and a "moderate" brand of Islam revealed its true nature.
Fact is that for all the social causes of unrest in Syria, which were very similar to Tunisia and Egypt, there were also fundamental differences in the ethnic and religious fabric of the country, as well as a totally different power structure, that made Syria an alltogether different proposition. Before turning to the central topic, which is ISI/ISIS involvement in the civil war and the implications of that move, it seems rather fitting to briefly summarize the context and the specifics of the Syrian case.
Back to the future
Contrary to Tunisia and Egypt, which both share a pretty high degree of religious and ethnic homogeneity, despite the presence of a Christian Copt minority in the latter case, Syria used to be both a multi-ethnic and a multi-confessional State in which Sunni Arabs only represented roughly 60-65 % of the population. In other words, it is a State whose various minorities, whether religious (Alawis, Christian, Shia, Druze) or ethnic (Kurds and Assyrians for example) totalized over a third of the population.
It is also a country whose ruling Alawi minority has a history of persecution by Arab Sunnis, dating back to a 14th century "fatwa" by Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, which still fuels a sense of paranoia and schizophrenia among Alawis today, whenever the mere idea of power sharing with the Sunni majority is being considered. This "fatwa" is still valid today and applied very much to the letter when Fundamentalist brigades of the "Free Syrian Army" deal with Alawi soldiers, not to speak of the treatment prisoners or even civilians receive at the hands of Al Qaeda's "Jahbat al-Nusra" or ISIS. To these foes, Alawis are apostates at best, probably worse than Iraqi Twelver Shia, and deserve to be put to the sword without mercy.
To the first wave of peaceful demonstrations that took place in March 2011, the Baathist regime of Damascus replied with the brutal ferocity that is the trade mark of authoritarian regimes trying to nip in the bud any attempt at social or political emancipation. Claims of that sort have been heard over and over again on CNN, the BBC and other networks, and while they're not exactly false, they don't tell the whole story either.
The "Long campaign of terror"
Indeed, to many among the Alawis, especially in the security forces, the current civil war hasn't begun in March 2011, but during the "long campaign of terror" that started in 1976. Back then, the "Muslim Brotherhood" – spiritual ancestors to many of the Fundamentalist groups among the Syrian rebels – kicked off a campaign of political assassinations, with the help of various sponsors, some of whom are probably behind the insurgents of today's.
"The White House said on Wednesday that Israeli officials had mischaracterized U.S. negotiations on Iran's nuclear program and criticized what it called "a continued practice of cherry-picking" and leaking information out of context.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the Obama administration is mindful of the need to keep the negotiations private and accused Israel of distorting the U.S. position.
"There's no question that some of the things that the Israelis have said in characterizing our negotiating position have not been accurate," Earnest said at a news briefing. "There's no question about that."
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, speaking to reporters on Wednesday, also accused Israel of "selective sharing of information" but declined to say what information had been cherry-picked.
"I think it is safe to say not everything you are hearing from the Israeli government is an accurate reflection of the details of the talks," Psaki said." Haaretz
"Unlike every other world leader, the bumptious Bibi has decided to take a side in America’s internal conflict by addressing a joint meeting of the Republican-controlled Congress (responding to an invitation from House Speaker John Boehner) without even informing President Obama that he was Washington-bound. One of Netanyahu’s goals is to undercut the administration’s efforts to negotiate a pact with Iran that will impede that nation’s nuclear program. His other goal is clearly to stick it to Obama and thus appear to the Israeli electorate — which will go to the polls on March 17 — as one tough dude. If Netanyahu’s talk, the idea for which was at least partly cooked up by Ron Dermer, a former GOP operative who moved to Israel and is now its ambassador to the United States, also has the effect of boosting the Republican Party at the expense of Obama and the Democrats, so much the better. "Washpost
It looks like Bibi has "screwed the pooch" on US/Israeli relations. IMO there will be an inevitable popular reaction among the great majority of Americans to the spectacle of the leader of a client state so dependent on us defying and undermining our head of state before our federal legislature.
And then there is the simple truth that most Jewish Americans are on the left and Bibi aligns himself with today's GOP? Madness. pl
Adam L. Silverman
In the comments to my post yesterday, COL Lang asked for further information regarding the Dabiq Prophecy that is supposedly a major driver for ISIS. In attempting to respond to his question I started digging for more information. The prophecy appears to originate in the Kitab Al-Fitan wa Ashrat As-Sa`ah (The Book Pertaining to the Turmoil and Portents of the Last Hour) - the link includes both the Arabic and the English. The isnad, or chain of citation demonstrating provenance, is to Abu Huraira - one of Prophet Muhammed's companions and the narrator of a very large number of hadith. The Dabiq Prophecy is specifically found in Chapter 9: Pertaining to the Conquest of Constantinople and the Appearance of the Dajjal and Descent of Jesus Son of Mary (Jesus Christ). These sections follow on from earlier hadith that retell more familiar end times prophecy, such as of Gog and Magog.
From what I've been able to track down, Kitab Al-Fitan wa Ashrat As-Sa`ah, is part of a larger collection of hadiths entitled Sahih Muslim. Sahih Muslim was compiled by Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj al-Naysaburi and is considered to be one of the authoritative collections of the hadith. For more general information on Muslim eschatology, Virginia Commonwealth University's World Religions and Spirituality Project has put together a basic primer, which can be found here.
A television channel run by Lebanese group Hezbollah, which is fighting alongside pro-government units, reported that the Syrian army had taken control of areas north of Aleppo. The Observatory said Hezbollah was involved in the battle.
The pro-government al-Watan newspaper said on Monday that government forces aimed to completely surround the city this week in a major offensive against insurgent groups.
In December mainly Islamist insurgent factions in Aleppo grouped together to form Jabhat al-Shamiyya -- the Levant Front -- an attempt at unity among their fighters. Last month the Western-backed rebel group Hazzm movement joined the alliance after coming under pressure from Nusra Front.
Recent Syrian army progress in the area has reduced the chances of a truce between the government and disparate insurgent groups, diplomats say.
As TTG might say, time for a little soldier speak, the SAA might not want to yalk to the people they and HB are defeating?
Well, no s--t pilgrims! Local truces are breaking out all over the country outside the IS controlled areas. The rebel owned parts of Aleppo seem to have been sealed off. Why talk to the rebels? Just starve them out. Aleppo has been besieged many times and that was the usual methodology. pl
"In a separate development on Tuesday, the influential Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr announced he was withdrawing his forces from an umbrella group of Shia militia fighting IS alongside the Iraqi army.
He cited what he called the bad behaviour of other militia within the Popular Mobilisation Forces, whom he accused of 'wreaking havoc through murdering, kidnapping and violating sanctuaries'.
Shia militia have been accused of kidnapping and killing scores of Sunni civilians since Islamic State launched an offensive in northern Iraq last June that saw it seize large swathes of the country.
Elsewhere, there are reports at least 35 more Egyptian Christians are feared to have been kidnapped by jihadists in retaliation for air strikes on targets in Libya.
Militants from the Islamic State and Ansar Al-Sharia are understood to have rounded up dozens of farm workers in the wake of bombings by Cairo, it was reported by local media.
The move is believed to be a direct response to strikes by Egyptian warplanes yesterday which came after fanatics released a horrific video showing the beheading of 21 Christians on a beach." Daily Mail
They will kill the 35 as well. IMO the conduct of IS is so far outside the scope of even "normal" jihadism as to make them justifiably subject to the most extreme measures. To some extent I think they are trying to provoke the US into a group of wars that can be used as mobilization propaganda across the world of Islam. Sadly, they will probably succeed because their deeds are so horrific and their stance is so uncompromising that they cannot be ignored. Imagine what will happen when they capture US soldiers. Imagine. pl
"The 21 decapitations pushed Sisi into open action, expanding his battle against Islamist militancy in Libya not long after he appeared to be gaining the upper hand against militants in the Sinai Peninsula who support Islamic State.
On Tuesday, he called for a United Nations resolution mandating a U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria to intervene in Libya.
Ahead of a U.N. Security Council meeting on Wednesday on the situation in Libya, Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri met on Tuesday with ambassadors from the council's five veto-wielding powers - the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China.
Since the fall of strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, a number of Islamist movements have taken hold in Libya. Recently, some have declared ties to Islamic State and claimed high-profile attacks in what appears to be an intensifying campaign."
Libya has proven itself incapable of self stabilization. IMO there will be no choice but for a UN sponsored force to occupy Libya. pl
The Atlantic recently published an extended article by Graeme Woods on ISIS and its theology. Woods attempts, through his reporting, to ascertain what is it that ISIS is really on about, what does it really have to do with Islam, and what does this tell us about what ISIS is actually interested in achieving. Overall, I think Woods piece is important and thought provoking, but that it is missing some important things. The reason I think its important is that Woods both argues for taking ISIS's statements regarding Islam at face value and actually does so. This is significant in that it forces part of the discussion back to several important questions: what is ISIS's actual connection to Islam? how does this relate to the different variants of Sunni Islam in the region? how does this relate to how Sunni Muslims in other parts of the world understand their religion and how to navigate the modern world in ways that are compatible with their religion? what, if anything, can we learn by comparing and contrasting these differences?
Woods' reporting gets to some of these questions and teases the others. What he does not do, however, is directly confront that no religion is monolithic in the 21st Century. As has often been discussed her at SST, there is no single, monolithic Islam. As a result of ijma, or consensus, each Sunni community essentially establishes their own variant of Islamic Law and practice that makes sense in the context of the time and place that they live in. The only Sunni variants that downplay the role of ijma are Wahabbiya and its extremist offshoots - best represented by ISIS and al Qaeda. The ability to pull different portions of one's religious tradition, give them salience, and utilize them occurs because religion, like other forms of identity, are contextual. They have to be able to allow the adherent to navigate the world they actually live in, not just speak and respond to events that existed in the past. Every successful religion, ideology, and philosophy does this. In the case of ISIS, what they are doing is taking different pieces from the Islamic tradition, recontextualizing them, and arguing that the way to not only deal with the 21st Century, but to achieve an idealized and glorified future, is to establish a way of life that is a pastiche made up of pieces from an idealized past.
ISIS, however, does not get the last word. A number of very prominent Muslims, including many mujtahids and scholars, have come out and argued that ISIS has made a hash of Sunni tradition and practice, as well as Islamic history. Over 100 prominent Muslim scholars have even sent an open letter to al Baghdadi refuting his theological, dogmatic, and historical interpretation and presentation of Islam as incorrect and dangerous (the English translation is attached as a pdf below).
There are a couple of portions of Woods' reporting that I would like to highlight for just a moment or two. The first is that ISIS is a millennialistic/apocalyptic movement. Woods posits, based on interviews and review of ISIS's materials, that ISIS seeks to bring about and capitalize on the Islamic understanding of the end of days. While Woods is correct to argue that this is a powerful motivating force while recognizing that it can also be fragile too, I think it needs further drawing out. I wrote my master's thesis in religious studies on millenialistic/apocalyptic movements. What all of them have in common is that they do not and cannot handle failure well. Woods mentions that should the glorious Islamic triumph to be fought against Rome, which is to be fought in Syria, not occur or not be successful, this could lead to a splintering of ISIS. My masters' research indicates that, if anything, Woods is understating this reality. Every movement I looked at - for the literature and thematic review to the actual six case studies - all demonstrated just how delicate apocalyptic movements are. One of the most seminal works on the subject is entitled When Prophecy Fails for a reason. It charts several movements and what happens when the prophesied end time events failed to occur. Spoiler alert: nothing good! Whether it was the medieval Jewish messianic sect of Shabatai Zevi or the Millerites who emerged from the Great Awakening in the Burnt Over District of New York - all it takes is failing to achieve one critical event and things will fall apart. Sometimes, like the Seventh Day Adventists arising from the failure of the Millerites when the Rapture failed to occur twice, these groups survive. Other times they are brutally suppressed. Even worse is when they are resurrected like the Branch Davidians a millennialistic/apocalyptic offshoot of the Seventh Day Adventists.
With Israeli elections a month away, the internal warfare inside Israel is bubbling to the surface. The latest revelation to hit Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu appeared in the widely-read Times of Israel this week. Back in the summer of 2011, then-Israeli President Shimon Peres was engaged in intense diplomacy with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The two men held a series of secret meetings in Jordan and other locations and hammered out a deal that was remarkably similar to the proposal offered two years later by US Secretary of State John Kerry. During his back and forth consultations with President Abbas, Peres kept Prime Minister Netanyahu fully informed of all of the discussions.
At one point in late July 2011, Peres and Abbas reached a deal, and the two men planned to meet on July 28 in Amman, Jordan to sign on the dotted line. Abbas' plane was in the air en route to Amman when Peres was told that Netanyahu rejected the proposal. Abbas turned his plane around and returned to Ramallah, and the last best chance for a viable two-state solution was blown up. In hindsight, Netanyahu never had any intention of seriously reaching a deal.
The fact that the story, which appeared a year ago in some Arab and Western media, hit the Israeli public at this sensitive moment is indicative of the behind-the-scenes warfare going on in the run-up to the elections on March 17. Netanyahu's backroom deal with US Speaker of the House John Boehner to bypass the White House altogether and arrange a Netanyahu address before a joint session of Congress on March 3 has blown up in both Boehner and Bibi's face. Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, who never informed Secretary of State Kerry about the planned Congressional address during a two-hour face to face meeting, is virtually persona non grata for the Administration. Liberal Democrats are considering a boycott of the Netanyahu appearance, and if a sizable number of Jewish Members of Congress stay away, this could undermine Netanyahu's whole scheme to pull off an election victory on the strength of a bipartisan standing ovation on Capitol Hill. AIPAC is scrambling to damage control the affair, and even the head of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai Brith Abe Foxman has called for Bibi to reject the invitation.
The Peres-Abbas deal was fair--even beyond fair from any sane Israeli standpoint. The newly established Palestinian state was to be demilitarized. Negotiations were to determine land-swap modifications of the 1967 borders. Contentious issues, including the status of the holy sites in Jerusalem and the "right of return" were to be put off for a later date to allow for the establishment of the two states. In the Peres-Abbas talks, it had been suggested that Israel allow 150,000 Palestinians to return to Israel--over a 15 year period. 150,000 out of 5 million. It guaranteed a solid Jewish majority in Israel well into the future.
Netanyahu showed his hand in rejecting the deal outright. The fact that he diddled Kerry and the US for a year before again rejecting the two-state proposal coming from the Secretary of State should not have surprised anyone familiar with the Peres-Abbas diplomacy of 2011. It is no wonder that the US-Israel relationship has reached such a low point. The stakes in the upcoming Israeli elections extend far beyond Israel's complex internal politics. They go to the heart of the US-Israel "special relationship" and it's now-questionable future.
- 15 December, 1863 -
(In Camp Near Orange, Virginia)
"It snowed hard the night of the fourteenth. Big, white flakes came floating down in the windless darkness. A new moon did not bestow enough light to see well, but if you left your hut to stand alone in the forest, you could feel the snow in your eyebrows and on your cheeks. You could smell the smoke from the chimneys, and hear the gentle sound of the flakes landing all around. You knew from the sound that it would snow all night, and that there would be deep, heavy, new snow in the morning.
Dawn brought with it the still, shimmering brightness that makes a winter's day seem full of new promise. It was the kind of day which gives men back their childhood for a time.
The snowball battle began about ten A.M. in a skirmish between some Alabama men and a wood cutting party from Coppens' Zouaves. The Louisianans had worked hard since breakfast with two man cross-cut saws, dropping trees for their division's saw-mill. The rasp of the saws and the ribald French songs of the detail could be heard across the surrounding fields. Men stood outside their huts to listen. They scratched and spat while making comments on the singing.
It was probably the obsessive nattiness of the Zouaves that set off the attack, the grey baggy pants and the embroidered red vests. Perhaps that was it, or perhaps it was nothing in particular. Maybe they just happened to be there, looking the other way while they worked, and not seeing the stealthy advance through the trees.
My wife is a fan of Michael Connelly’s cop novels. Amazon has adapted his books and his protagonist (Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch) into an instant video series, a la House of Cards. All the first season’s shows have been released at the same time.
Harry is a hard boiled LAPD homicide detective, played by slender, gray haired, ice-blue eyed Titus Welliver. Titus was an Irish gangster in the Sons of Anarchy series and has been on a plethora of TV ads as well. We watched the first two episodes and I decided about 20 minutes into the first one that I was hooked.
The story line is not unique. Hard boiled detective, in legal trouble, reputation as a gunslinger, former special forces soldier, his captain trying to sink him, a serial killer involved. This is all the stuff of modern cop shows. But the first few episodes are well written, well acted, directed with pace and the supporting characters show signs of become compelling parts of the story.
This is a well done cop show and, importantly, the screenplays are written with Mr. Connelly’s help. As we found with ‘Justified’, which had Elmore Leonard in the creative process (it’s based on his ‘Get Shorty’), Mr. Connelly’s involvement has, so far, rendered the video true to the spirit of his books (as certified by my spouse).
As an add on, I would recommend Justified as well. It’s almost done it’s run. Timothy Olyphant caught my eye on HBO’s Deadwood. Superb acting in both series. It is really an ensemble cast, filled with some outlandish characters that just keep on coming and going. I know a few people who have taken offense because of its setting in rural Kentucky but I have found the folks portrayed to be fully realized and the bad guys mostly clever, crafty and complex. Walton Goggins has had an ongoing role as ‘Boyd Crowder’ and his character is a marvel, really a force of nature.
We have Amazon Prime and the series is gratis if you have that status. As you know, you can watch it on Chromecast, Roku, laptops, Ipads, etc.
Abu Omar, a businessman from Sinsil, to the south-west of Barwana,told Reuters news agency that about 10 Humvees carrying a few dozen armed men arrived in the village on Monday afternoon.
They were wearing black and brown uniforms, suggesting some were affiliated with Shia militia and government security forces, he said. Others appeared to be civilians.
Men and boys were dragged from their homes, beaten and cursed with sectarian slurs, and then led in small groups to a field, Abu Omar added.
They were then made to kneel and stare at the ground as the gunmen selected victims one by one and then led them behind a mud wall.
"They took them behind the wall. Less than a minute, then a gunshot," Abu Omar said. "All we could hear was the gunshots. We couldn't see."" BBC
Well, the Sunnis are also massacring Shia villagers. What was that about a government of inclusion? pl
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has said Egypt reserves the right to respond in any way it sees fit.
IS militants claim to have carried out several attacks in Libya, which is in effect without a government.
However, with many armed groups operating in Libya, it is not clear how much power IS actually wields." BBC
Egypt began a program of air attacks in Libya today. I would imagine that is just a beginning.
Will Egypt seek to occupy Egypt to put paid to the various Jihadi factions? It is quite possible that this will happen. Is Egypt capable of carrying out such an operation?
I do not think so. pl
"Arnaud was a giant of journalism,” Larry Beasley, president and CEO of The Times, said Sunday. “His globe-trotting reporting kept America informed, and his tireless work as our editor-in-chief helped put The Washington Times on the map in its early days.”
Osborn Elliot, onetime editor of Newsweek and later dean of the Columbia University journalism school, wrote that “de Borchgrave has played a role in world affairs known to no other journalist.”" Washingtontimes
Arnaud de Borchgrave was a friend. We used to have lunch together often and I came to have a high regard for him. Reverence would not have been too strong a term. I have not seen as much of him the last few years as I should have done, but that was my fault, not his.
He was a Belgian nobleman from the Ardennes who renounced his title when he immigrated to the US. His father was head of Belgian intelligence in the exile government during WW2. His maternal grandfather was Sir Charles Townshend. the British general who surrendered to the Turks at Kut in the Mesopotamia Campaign of 1916. After the surrender Townshend lived comfortably in captivity in Istanbul while his men died by thousands in Ottoman prison camps. Arnaud was not proud of his grandfather. Arnaud enlisted in the Royal Navy at 16 and was the coxswain of a landing craft in the British landings in Normandy on 6 June, 1944. After the war he became a journalist and covered so many wars and alarums that they can hardly be counted.
Sitting in his CSIS office one day I walked around the room looking at the photographs while he went somewhere else in the building. When he returned I asked him about the one in which he stood next to a C-47 and a large French officer while paratroops were to be seen just about everywhere. He explained to me that the big man was General Cogny and the place was Dien Bien Phu in November 1953 in the valley of the Nam Dong River in far western Tonkin. Cogny was the commander of French forces in what is now North Vietnam. Arnaud had been staying with him as a house guest when Operation Castor was launched to create a defensible airhead at DPB like the one at Na San the year before. Cogny invited Arnaud to fly to DPB with him to view the progress of the landing. On the way Cogny told him that he had been ordered by the high command in Paris and Saigon to establish this distant base to administer "a lesson" to the Viet Minh in the context of ongoing negotiations over independence for Indochina. Cogny said that he had protested on the basis of an an inadequacy of forces and the distance from supporting air bases, but had been over ruled. He said the operation was doomed.
That is the kind of access that de Borchgrave had throughout his long career.. We are unlikely to see something like that for a long time. pl
"Saint Michael, the archangel of battle, is tattooed across the back of a U.S. army veteran who recently returned to Iraq and joined a Christian militia fighting Islamic State in what he sees as a biblical war between good and evil.
Brett, 28, carries the same thumb-worn pocket Bible he did whilst deployed to Iraq in 2006 – a picture of the Virgin Mary tucked inside its pages and his favorite verses highlighted.
“It's very different," he said, asked how the experiences compared. "Here I’m fighting for a people and for a faith, and the enemy is much bigger and more brutal."" Yahoo News
St. Michael is/was patron of paratroopers and the Confederate States. I will have to contemplate this for a bit... This might become a focus of my advocacy if it is not connected in any way to a terrorist organization so designated by the US Government. Support of such an organization would be a crime under US law as "material support of terrorism" under the Patriot Act.
There used to be an international St. Michael's Society made up of Catholic paratroopers. This originated in the French Army somewhere long ago in the mists of Indochina. The chapter I belonged to was in the 8th SFGA in the CZ. We took care of several impoverished villages in the Republic of Panama and once a quarter would jump onto Gatun DZ where the RC chaplain, a former pro football tackle would say Mass after we built him an altar of aviator kit bags full of our used parachutes with one of the camouflage pattern canopies spread over the drop. This was an ecumenical occasion. Jews and Protestants (and all others) who wanted to were invited. Some jumped with us. Some served as jumpmasters, DZ safety, etc. Colonel Arthur Simons always jumped with us. Somehow this reminds me... "The Bull" was always with his men. pl
My friends, in short, the situation is this: from the early morning until almost 1700 there was intense fighting for Logvinovo. The Ukrops threw all of their reserves for a breakthrough - no less than three battalion tactical groups numbering up to eight hundred people, with the support of not less than forty tanks. According to the militia, fresh, well-armed and well-trained battalions went in the battle. Despite the fact that they had to advance practically in the open, in full view of the heights held by the militia, under crossfire, they rushed forward with exceptional persistence, ignoring the losses, skillfully using terrain folds and maintaining tactical order.
According to intelligence, these were shock battalions, which the Ukrainian command was saving for a decisive offensive. These battalions have completed a full course of study under the guidance of American and Polish instructors on Yavorovsky base and were recently covertly relocated to the area of the ATO. But despite the surprise attack, and its strength, the Ukrainian storm-troopers failed to break through the defense of the militia. Having suffered huge losses at the stage of advance and deployment, the attackers failed to break into Logvinovo and the attack chocked on the approaches to the village. The last two tanks were burned just a few hundred meters from the positions of the militia. (Vladislav Shurygin)
This is what was going on just north of Debaltsevo while Putin, Merkel, Hollande and Poroshenko talked the night away in Minsk. I've read that nearly half the discussions revolved around whether the Ukrainian forces at Debaltsevo were in a salient or a cauldron. Hollande tried hard to convince Poroshenko of the later. The discussion group in Minsk must have thought the lot of those poor bastards bleeding on the steppes surrounding Debaltsevo was of great strategic importance. I agree. As a salient, Debaltsevo remained a serious threat to both the military and political survival of Novorossiya. From here the Ukies could have severed the link between Donetsk and Lugansk as they damned near did last summer. As a cauldron, the Ukies stand to lose another 5,000 plus soldiers as well as a lot of equipment and supplies. This is the fourth major cauldron in six months. This is a military disaster for the Kiev junta. It may also be a political disaster for the junta. The Pravy Sektor battalions of Yarosh and his allies have threatened to overthrow Poroshenko. Will Nuland's boy toy, Yats, be part of junta 2.0 or a victim of it? Will Germany, France and the U.S. continue to cheer for such an overtly nazi unelected regime in Kiev?
Here's another wrinkle. "This morning NAF scouts spotted NATO tanks inside the encirclement (Cauldron) at Debaltseve. According to their information the possibility is strong that up to 25% of the trapped army may be NATO." If so, these are probably Polish and/or Lithuanian volunteers. If they are German, French or U.S. people, as Warren Zevon says, the shit has hit the fan. I'm sure Putin is already aware of who's in the cauldron. I doubt he will risk nuclear war, no matter who's in the cauldron. What the shaved apes that pass for our national security experts and leaders will do is an open question.
Fighting continues around the Debaltsevo cauldron. The eventual fate of the surrounded Ukies was best summed up by Eduard Basurin, Deputy Defense Minister of the DPR, in his 14 February morning briefing:
Basurin: We received intelligence that the Ukrainian military in the Debaltsevo cauldron have been told that they should not surrender and have to wait until Feb 15. Their command promises to withdraw or rotate them to moved out with the help of the OSCE. That is why they don’t give up. I do not know what will happen in the course of the day. I suppose the attempts to break through will be continued. They understand that they cannot cope without ammunition, fuel and food.
Journalist: What will be the fate of those Ukrainian military men who will stay in the cauldron after February 15?
Basurin: I am not a bloodthirsty man. Perhaps they will starve.
Journalist: Does it mean they will not be shelled, but they will not be let out of the pocket either?
Basurin: Right. I am sorry, but why the hell should we let them out? We give them a chance to stay alive. They are our enemies. Our real enemy, who has come to our land. Yes we will carry out the obligations. Nevertheless if the enemy undertakes attacks, they will be adequately rebuffed.
It is my opinion that the half-assed ceasefire afforded by Minsk 2.0 will not save those trapped in the cauldron. They will be captured or killed. At this point the continued survival of Novorossiya is much less in jeopardy than the regime in Kiev. The ceasefire will also give the fighting forces on both sides a chance to breath. The Ukrops will have to rebuild again. Rebel forces like Givi's Somali battalion and Motorola's Sparta battalion have been in intensive fighting for weeks. They must rest. Despite all the talk about marching on Kiev, the forces of Novorossiya just cannot do that.
A few more worthwhile links:
Two weeks ago I moved from a city apartment to a Five bedroom house on Forty acres of farmland alongside a snow fed river. From my study as I write this morning I can see Four Kangaroos breakfasting next to my garden fence. From the kitchen while I made the coffee I watched wild fallow deer feeding near the river. My Nikon shutter click startles them from a hundred yards away. My friends know that I have been pining for return to this part of the country for what have been Twelve tumultuous years. That tumult was not only been driven by personal events but by increasing concern over international affairs and I am most grateful to Col. Lang and the Committee for providing me with an education on many matters as well as confirming my suspicions that all was not well in Washington.
The proximate cause of this international tumult in my opinion is the last ditch attempt by the American elite to maintain a monopolar world, as described in the article"Neoliberalism is our Frankenstein" posted at The Atheneum by Col. Lang.
To paraphrase a former Australian Prime Minister; America must now either crash through or crash since no one in Washington seems to be seems to be thinking about a "Plan B". Indeed, even talking about the possibility of doubting the wisdom of the Washington consensus - Congress, the think tanks, the media commentariat and their enablers is a career limiting act. To put that another way; presenting cold hard facts and sober argument that does not buttress the group think worldview of the Kagans, Krauthammers and Cheneys will get you fired.
This is the first component of a binary recipe for lethally stupid foreign policy. Please note that I use the word "Stupid" in the sense of Professor Cipollas definition - doing something that is both injurious to everyone including the perpetrator and also totally unexpected by its victims.
The second component of our suicide cocktail is the overwhelming narcissism in American leadership. I have gone on, and on, about this subject and I apologise for restating my warnings. Narcissists are great haters. Everything is personal to them, all the time. They lack any shred of empathy. They have a massive sense of entitlement and hold themselves above any man made law. Nothing I have seen in President Obamas behaviour has shaken my belief that he suffers from this condition and of course his acolytes are also infected.
At the core of the Narcissist is a lack of self worth and a deeply distressed and traumatised child. In an attempt to salve this hurt they will literally do anything. For example an Australian Prime Minister, spurned by his own party colleagues, brought down his own Government. My concern is that Obama may not wish to live in a world where he is not feted and reduced to a mere mortal and that instead he prefers to go down in history as the author of this worlds destruction if he is not to be the leader of a unipolar American empire.
Unless there is some kind of circuit breaker event, perhaps a great natural disaster for example, I fear that the bellicose anti Russian stance will harden and when that happens war becomes a self fulfilling prophesy. What I am now looking for are anti Russian pronouncements by formerly sober commentators, that would be the next step.
Now its time for breakfast and to help my neighbour yard his cattle for the market.
"Shelling suddenly stopped at midnight in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk after President Petro Poroshenko gave the order to government forces to halt firing in line with a ceasefire agreement reached last Thursday.
Poroshenko, wearing the uniform of the armed forces supreme commander, said in a televised address in the capital Kiev that there was still "alarm" over the situation around Debaltseve, a key transport hub, where government forces are hard pressed by encircling Russian-backed separatists.
And he warned that Ukraine, if it was slapped once, would not offer the other cheek.
But, seated alongside armed forces chief of staff Viktor Muzhenko, he added: "I very much hope that the last chance to begin the long and difficult peaceful process for a political settlement will not be wasted."" Reuters
"Trust has been eroded to the point of almost being destroyed," said Nunn. "You got a war going on right in the middle of Europe. You got a breakdown of the conventional forces treaty, you got the INF (IntermediateRange Nuclear Forces) treaty under great strain, you got tactical nuclear weapons all over Europe. It's a very dangerous situation." In late January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists set its "Doomsday Clock" to three minutes to midnight. The last time it was set to that time was in 1983, "when USSoviet relations were at their iciest point," as the group of scientists explained. The only other time when the situation was even worse was in 1953, when the clock was set to two minutes to midnight. Unchecked climate change and the "nuclear arms race resulting from modernization of huge arsenals" pose "extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity," the group's statement read. The current rhetoric coming from the rivals in the East and West seems poorly suited to reducing the threat. "The Russian aggression is a direct threat to NATO," British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said at the Munich Security Conference. The situation is made more complicated by the fact that Russia's actions in Ukraine are difficult to define. With camouflage, trickery and deception, the Russians are applying the full arsenal of socalled hybrid warfare,.." Spiegel
Three minutes to midnight... pl
"Danish police shot and killed a man early Sunday suspected of carrying out shooting attacks at a free speech event and then at a Copenhagen synagogue, killing two men, including a member of Denmark's Jewish community. Five police officers were also wounded in the attacks.
"Denmark has been hit by terror," Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said. "We do not know the motive for the alleged perpetrator's actions, but we know that there are forces that want to hurt Denmark. They want to rebuke our freedom of speech."
Jens Madsen, head of the Danish intelligence agency PET, said investigators believe the gunman was inspired by Islamic radicalism."
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decried the attack and said his government plans to encourage a "massive immigration" of Jews from Europe.
"Again, Jews were murdered on European soil just because they were Jews," Netanyahu said at the start of his Cabinet meeting Sunday. "This wave of attacks is expected to continue, as well as murderous anti-Semitic attacks. Jews deserve security in every country, but we say to our Jewish brothers and sisters, Israel is your home."
" The brazen kidnapping and slaying of a Sunni sheikh and eight members of his entourage in the Iraqi capital was met with outrage by Sunni politicians Saturday, deepening sectarian distrust and threatening to tear apart the country’s fragile government.
Sunni politicians said they would boycott parliament after the killing of Sheik Qasim al-Janabi, a moderate Sunni tribal leader, his son and the other members of their convoy, blaming the Friday night assault on Shiite militias that they say the government has allowed to act with impunity. Discussions continued into the night as to whether Sunni parties should pull out of the government altogether.
Such a move would strike a blow to the inclusive Iraqi government that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi created under pressure from the United States, which had tied his efforts to reach out to Sunnis to military assistance." Washpost
"The inclusive Iraqi government?" What a joke! Only Obama's girls (whether male or female) could ever have professed to believe Obadi's government was going to be "inclusive."
It takes Kirbyesque dexterity with govspeak to make that idea seem remotely plausible. pl
Sheikh Naim al-Gaoud, a Sunni Muslim leader of the Albu Nimr tribe, called for more U.S. intervention -- including ground troops, arming tribes directly or at least pressuring the Iraqi government to give the tribes more firepower.
While U.S. officials have said that ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State, is on the defensive in Iraq and Syria, al-Gaoud says that's definitely not the case where he is.
"In Anbar, we are losing ground, not gaining," he said." CNN
Yes, pilgrims, in spite of Twinkle Toes John Kirby's dancing, this could go down anytime in Anbar. The Albu Nimr tribe fought AQ in Iraq. Then we walked away from them in support of our fantasy of a one man one vote government for Iraq, thus completely ignoring the actual ethnic and sect based structure of Iraqi society. The destabilization caused by US political interference provided an opening for Islamic extremists and now ten years later we have the result. IS is a coalition of forces that we unleashed inadvertently The US is selling snake-oil that insists that a re-trained Iraqi Army will be a better and far more capable force than the one that ran away a few months ago. Where on earth does that idea come from except from the kind of ambition fueled group think that i have seen so often?
Here we have this Albu Nimr sheikh telling what sounds like the truth to me. He will not be listened to. pl
"... the Islamic State is more and more on the defensive. It has not made any significant conquests since the summer. During the past month, it mounted a major offensive in western Anbar Province but achieved only modest gains.
American military officials in Iraq tell me they are confident that a smaller, revamped Iraqi Army will be ready to begin big operations to retake Iraq from the Islamic State in the next four to eight months. Kurdish and Iraqi forces have largely secured Baghdad and its environs, made gains in the cities of Baiji and Samarra, cut off the road by which the Islamic State was supporting its garrison in Mosul from its base in Syria, and are encroaching on Mosul itself. In six to 18 months, the Islamic State may be driven out of Iraq altogether." K. Pollack in the NY Time
"The main road linking Mosul with the Syrian border has been cut and nearly 100 square miles have been liberated." Ignatius
Ken Pollack has an interesting record. First he was for the invasion of Iraq. Then when Rumsfeld's "dead-enders" became a serious impediment to neocon ambitions Pollack was against the war. Now we have the latest "evolution" of Pollackian thought on Iraq.
It is clearly the main propaganda theme of the US Government to claim/fantasize that IS in IRaq/Syria is doomed by the very evilness that has led to their previous success.
Pollack is clearly "signed up" for that as he always has been "signed up" for whatever the powers that be want. Wait! I take that back. I first knew him when he was a junior ME analyst at CIA and I remember him as an honorable, clear thinking young man.
Nevertheless, now he mouths the Power Point briefings given to him in the kind of process that George Romney described as "brainwashing" after his infamous 1965 VN trip.
The Obadi government is just another Shia run sectarian government? Well, no s--t, Shirlock!
Unfortunately for this latest Pollack venture into self-serving boosterism, IS is knocking on the door at Al-Asad air base in western Anbar near Ramadi. The latest reports indicate near total control by IS of the nearby town of al-Baghdadi. This establishes a "block' between Al-Asad and Baghdad.
Reports also say that IS is using suicide bombers for fire support in both A-Baghdadi and in attacks on the airbase.
Can there be any doubt that a major goal of IS at Al-Asad is to kill Americans and take some prisoner? I would say they have figured out the vulnerabilities of the American public rather well. pl
You notice, I hope, that Ignatius makes two separate statement about the situation north and west of Mosul. One is that nearly 100 square miles of territory has been "re-taken." OK, but what is in that 100 square miles and how much was it defended? Secondly, I have seen video of what it is that supposedly blocks the road from Mosul. It was thirty or so men on a barren hilltop overlooking the road from a distance. Let's see what happens when IS tries running a convoy down that road.
On Ignatius', larger point, I agree that the PM and all the other Kurdish groups should be speedily supplied with heavy weapons and supplies. To that end, an arrangement should be made with Iran for transshipment of materiel from Gulf ports to Kurdistan . IMO opinion the Baghdad government cannot be trusted to deliver the goods to the Kurds. pl
The burning alive of a captured Jordanian pilot by the Islamic State (IS) was a horrific act, and deserves to be wholeheartedly condemned by everyone. It is, sadly, true that people are incinerated during war, both combatants and non-combatants. But the burning alive of Lt al-Kassasbeh was a brutal crime, since he was a prisoner of war and also because of the 'production' made of the whole miserable episode.
The IS compounded this vicious act by committing a second abomination: claiming that this punishment was administered according to the tenets of 'Islam'.
This 'Islam' that the IS adhere to is a simplistic, medieval code derived from the Wahhabi creed, which is the usual religion of Jihadis. But this creed is not the Islam that was first taught by the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century CE. It is not even the Religion of Islam that began to be formulated some 200 years after the Prophet and, over the centuries, developed into a complex structure with many variations in different parts of the world (the usual trajectory of religions that start from a simple, fundamental ideology).
Unfortunately (for Islam and Muslims), the Wahhabi creed is spreading in the Muslim world and has become the face of Islam for many on the outside. It is important to understand how this has come about.
Mueller had been spotted “in the company” of an ISIS leader who was being tracked by U.S. intelligence and some officials believed she was in a “forced marriage.”
In a handwritten letter that Mueller’s parents released Tuesday, the 26-year-old captive insisted she was being treated with “the utmost respect + kindness” and that she was “unharmed” and even put on a few pounds." NY Daily News
How do we know that Mueller is dead? (epistemology again) All I have seen mentioned thus far is a photograph of Mueller wrapped in a burial shroud. Is that really "evidence?" What else is there? Tell us if "you" want us to believe.
IS did not see her as a bargaining chip or hostage? No? If that is so, what did they see her as? What is this counter terrorism official trying to tell us?
She was spotted in the company of an IS leader? What? Walking around with him?
Paraphrasing the big red dog in my favorite ad, who is to say what a forced marriage is, or becomes? We should look at the case of Patty Hearst (Tanya) of the Symbionese Liberation Army.
She said she was treated with the utmost respect and kindness and that she was unharmed? OK. Well then, pilgrims, how did she get "deaded?"
There is something wrong with this story, something other than the usual MSM hysteria and ratings exploitation.
Come clean! pl
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catchfire (a strange film on a similar theme)
In the old days, political differences between countries were more often than not settled by war. That was only natural - under the ius ad bellum the right to go to war was an imperative of a monarch, which he was entitled to use as he saw fit and which was regarded as a normal tool of statecraft. And even then there were limits - possibly the first trial for waging aggressive war is that of Conradin von Hohenstaufen in 1268. One could do a lot of mischief, but not just as one pleased.
Over time the European practice of Cabinet Wars emerged - a type of war which affected Europe during the period of absolute monarchies, from the 1648 Peace of Westphalia to the 1789 French Revolution. These wars were characterised by small armies, noble officer corps, limited war goals, and frequently changing coalitions among the belligerents. There was a policy dispute over inheritance or a boundary, war was being declared (usually very politely), fought and settled. Wikipedia's entry sums it up rather well:
The Thirty Years' War, based on religious conflict, had been marked by wild plunders and marauding armies. Order was reestablished by the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, which formulated the rules of international relations for the next centuries, in particular respective to the laws of war (jus ad bello and jus in bellum). During the Age of Enlightenment and under the direction of the "enlightened despots," wars became more regulated, although the civilian population was still a current victim of mercenaries. Such scenes as the 1572 St. Bartholomew's Day massacre became exceptional. Thus, Berlin was not plundered during the Seven Years' War of 1756-1762, despite having fallen into enemy hands not once but twice.
This state of affairs evolved during the era of the formation of nation states in the 19th century ito national wars with citizen particpation and conscript armies. The American Civil War and battles like Solferino (the carnage of which led to Henry Dunant initiating the Geneva Conventions and the Red Cross) offered glimpses into what technological advances in war were to bring in the next century.
It is this, the curse of the Evil deed,
Giving birth to new Evil, on which it may feed
F. SCHILLER “Wallenstein”
About three years ago, almost nobody knew them, yet they were about to make a name for themselves. Ever since the onslaught on Northern Iraq and the autonomous Kurdish regions, not a single day has passed without ISIS – the so-called "Islamic State in Iraq and Syria" – making the headlines for yet another gruesome execution, bloody massacre or terrorist attack. In fact, we’ve now heard their name so often that they almost seem familiar to us.
ISIS, a reminiscence of the Demons of old
In our collective conscience, they’ve become one of those barbaric sects or groups of raiders, ghosts really – very much like the Jinns of the Quran – appearing and vanishing into the sands of the Arabian desert. In some way, they also look like a modern version of the Huns, who rode out of the steppes of Central Asia, scorching the earth under a fearsome leader, before being swallowed up again by the vastness of the lands they came from, leaving nothing but a trail of death and the memories of a long dark shadow stretching over the countries they had turned into dust.
More likely though, the fate awaiting ISIS won't be too dissimilar to that of the 13th century Hashashins sent out by the "Old Man on the Mountain" from his fortress Alamut, to strike fear and terror into the hearts of his enemies all over the Middle-East. The Hashashins too managed to challenge the powers that be, mainly Seljuk Turks, even though they were vastly outnumbered, and stroke alliances with regional outcasts like the Crusader States in the Holy Land. But then they finally got defeated and wiped off the face of the earth by a much more powerful and determined foe coming from the East (i.e. the largest Mongol army the world had ever seen).
All this, of course, is already far beyond the knowledge that the average citizen has about the Middle-East in general, and the "Islamic State" in particular. And in truth, it's not that relevant to events unfolding at the moment. Just enough to trigger repulsion and disgust at the men fighting and killing under the Black Banner carrying the seal of the Prophet, insufficient however to answer such basic questions as to who they are, where they come from and what they want.
This is what really matters though. Beyond the usual media hype about the barbaric executions and seemingly medieval lifestyle, these are men with an agenda and an organisation, military gear and logistics, as well as considerable financial means. And what we actually know about them is very little, contrary to what mainstream media and their so-called experts would have you believe. More worrying, Western intelligence is almost as clueless as CNN, and the current state of play of the anti-ISIS coalition and its achievements can bear testimony to that.
ISIS has become a Black Hole in the heart of the Middle-East. Come too close and you'll get sucked into it with no chance of escaping. Try and listen or watch and you'll get almost nothing, just some background noise. That is the scariest part about the "Islamic State", the void it seems to have built in and around its area of influence. There are ways however to obtain information about what's going on inside this nexus. Knowing the enemy is the first step towards defeating it …
But getting there means dealing with a number of issues – local, regional and global. It also means getting into questions unpleasant for us in the West, especially the real trigger event that set in motion what is now unravelling before our eyes. The aim here is not to play the blame game, what’s done is done and there’s no way back. The only thing at stake is how to get out of this mess and how to avoid similar mistakes in the future, which won’t be an easy task to achieve.
Operation "Iraqi Freedom"
The seminal event, the one single historic development which made all this possible, is without doubt the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. This is not to say that “George W” is to blame for all that happened. In fact, he’s not. He may have been the guy in the Oval Office and, contrary to his successor, he certainly didn’t back away from controversial decisions. He looked like a leader and talked tough, but the guy in charge – if there ever was one – was the “wild man” in the office down the hallway. A wild man on the loose, without adult supervision and under the influence of a bunch of sorcerer apprentices, coming right out of the “Neo-Con” school of witchcraft and wizardry, people so full of themselves, they thought they could not only destroy imaginary WMDs, but also build a viable democracy in Iraq, promote peace with Israel and reshape the balance of power in the Middle-East. In the words of a famous RAND Corporation analyst at the time, “Iraq was the tactical pivot, Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot and Egypt was the prize”.
"... Syria is not just a civil war, but a propaganda war being fought for competing geopolitical interests. The end-result of this tug of war between pro-interventionist and anti-interventionist narratives has been the victory of neither, and thus, the entrenchment of violence amidst a Syrian stalemate.
Unfortunately, some parties see this stalemate as a strategic boon. Noting “the synergy between the Israeli and American positions”, the New York Times recently reported that: “For Jerusalem, the status quo, horrific as it may be from a humanitarian perspective, seems preferable to either a victory by Mr. Assad’s government and his Iranian backers or a strengthening of rebel groups, increasingly dominated by Sunni jihadis.” In this context, the threat of “limited” military strikes is more about sending a message to Iran and Syria, rather than about decisively defeating Assad — which may be because “the West needs more time to prop up opposition forces it finds more palatable.” Le Monde
The government/academic/media/thinktank world decided several years back that the Syrian Government was altogether responsible for the death and destruction of the Syrian civil war. In pursuit of that view ALL casualties are said to be the SAG's responsibility because it did not surrender to the various kinds of rebels early on. There does not seem to be any possibility of withdrawal from that lofty consensus (group think) now prevalent among the "cognoscenti." At numerous meetings in the capital (Washington) swamp and the other capital swamp (New York) I have heard all the informational "players" sound off on the wisdom of their judgments about the viability of the SAG, its weakness, the opposition of the "Syrian People" to the SAG, etc. When interlocutors are asked why the Alawis, Shia, Christians, etc and many sophisticated, westernized Sunnis support the SAG, eyes roll upward in frustration. One young man actually told me that "he knew what he was doing." He had served three or four years in the army, had left as a captain and currently held a position as the Syria analyst at a major think tank.
I have made it a habit to challenge the epistemology of their data. "How do you know that?" This would be a typical challenge. This kind of question ALWAYS elicits the same kind of response. The response is hostility to the question followed by a grudging admission that the sources of data that are taken as probably true are all on the rebel sides,. The favorite is the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK based rebel propaganda organ.The SAG's statements and reporting is simply dismissed as beneath contempt.
An example of that would be the interview that Bashar Assad gave to the BBC this week. The Beeb had pursued Assad for several years seeking this interview. He finally granted the interview and sat with Bowman, the ME editor of BBC, for an exclusive talk. BBC asked in advance if there were any areas of questioning that were "off limits." The answer was that there were none and Assad answered every question within the limits of expression of someone who does not speak English every day. The on-air reaction of Bowman reporting later from the safety of Beirut was completely dismissive. The attitude was that Assad's willingness to participate in the interview was an unaccountable irrelevance since he was obviously lying about every topic of discussion.
Bowman made a great deal of the subject of "barrel bombs," and their bestiality as evidence of a demonic Nazi-like hatred for the Syrian people. Assad asserted that the Syrian Air Force does not use barrel bombs. He said they had lots of ordinary bombs. Why use barrel bombs? This statement was taken as evidence of Assad's perfidy. "Barrel Bombs" are 55 gallon drums filled with explosives and fragmentation junk that are dropped as sling loads under helicopters. I have no idea if the SAG uses barrel bombs, but it seems to me that the difference in effect between that and common 250 or 500 lb. aerial fragmentation bombs cannot be very great. US air power uses large, destructive bombs all the time as do all air forces across the world. Would it not have been a normal reaction to Assad's position for Bowman to ask for access to Syrian Air Force operations in order to confirm or deny Assad's statements? It seems that Bowman did not do that. Why? Was it because he could not afford to learn something that would be outside the consensus? Actually, why not ask for "embedding" throughout the Syrian Armed Forces for the same purpose?
We should face the truth about the media's statements about the Syrian Civil War. They are something less than objective truth. Why is that? pl
" I am even more concerned about the billions we are planning to spend to prepare the homeland in the event of a nuclear first strike. It was a myth that drove the United States and Soviet Union each to build thousands of weapons during the Cold War. Unlikely then. And it’s certainly unlikely now.Nonetheless, the 2016 budget has millions for hardening redundant Air Force and Navy communications so they can survive a hit by a nuclear first strike.
The United States, as Obama’s 2015 National Security Strategy says, is investing in “a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.”
The United States shouldn’t spend billions more in the expectation that the deterrence will fail.
It only helps create the impression that this country is preparing for nuclear war, and might strike first." Washpost/Pincus
Just who is it that we think might launch a first strike against us? Russia, China, the UK, France, Pakistan? Iran has no nuclear weapons but the truly paranoid are sure that they are striving mightily to acquire a ballistic missile based capability that would hold at risk Europe and North America.
This continuing theme is, of course, convenient to those who want us to make Israel safe against Iran. Without the "threat to the US" theme the American people and their blundering ham-handed government could not be lured into eternal hostility to the BAD, BAD, IRANIAN SHIA.
If only the Syrian government had a nuclear weapons program!! Sigh... pl
"... if the Army truly does believe that Golsteyn violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice, then they should charge him with a crime. If they can’t do that, then we must conclude that insufficient evidence of a crime exists, in which case Secretary McHugh should give him the Distinguished Service Cross he deserves.
Congressman Hunter pointed out in his article that a recent survey conducted by the Military Timesrevealed only 27 percent of the military felt that their leaders were looking out for the best interests of the troops. Golsteyn’s situation illustrates why this is the case, and is of a piece with the case of Will Swenson, whose Medal of Honor package was “lost” after he bitterly criticized his chain of command over the ROEs, or of Jim Gant, one of the most successful special operators of the last decade, who was nonetheless drummed out of the Army after running afoul of his superiors.
Golsteyn, Swenson, Gant, and others like them are led by men who interrupt their political intrigues and email flirtations with wealthy socialites only to crucify the troops actually doing the fighting when, for whatever reason, they become politically inconvenient—preferably, as with Golsteyn, in a manner that allows for no response or appeal. Freebeacon
The US military is now ruled by men and women who have the mentality and character of "big box" chain store managers at your local mall.
The number of them who are selfless servants of the Republic is small. We used to have general officers who were real soldiers. What happened? Careerism and mirror imaging in promotions happened. There are a few good ones around. LTG McMaster is an example but he was passed over for BG at least once and was finally promoted because wise people in the civilian world intervened at the White House. What was his "crime?" He argued with the top brass over strategy in the Iraq War. This was after he had commanded an armored cavalry regiment with great distinction at Tel Afar. He may not remember this now.
We have fallen a very long way from the days when George Marshall fired generals by the dozen if they tried to avoid hard duty. Marshall was also in the habit of giving GIs a ride in his staff car on the way to the Pentagon from his quarters at Ft. Myer. And then there was Ridgeway who was standing by the side of the road one day in Korea when a passing heavily burdened infantry soldier called out to his comrades to ask if any of them would tie his boot lace. This four star general knelt in the mud to do the job.
We have fallen a long way. pl