"It now seems beyond question that Clinton’s server contained a variety of classified information including some information so sensitive that even now — years after she left her job as secretary of state — it can’t be released. While that fact doesn’t for certain undercut Clinton’s central defense — that she never sent or received any information marked classified at the time — it does raise even more questions about why she chose to be the first secretary of state to exclusively use a private server to conduct her official business.
Clinton has said that none of her emails were marked classified when they were sent. But it is the responsibility of individual government officials to handle classified material appropriately, including by properly marking it as classified, according to experts.
For Clinton, the State Department announcement will give credence to the idea that her initial explanations of why she set up the private server and what sorts of material she kept on it are not entirely accurate. And, more broadly, the State Department announcement keeps the story in the news and hands her political opponents a ready-made way to bash her on the eve of what is the most important vote of her political life." Washpost
Cilizza is a an insider Borgist columnist. for him to abandon her in this way is indicative of what is to come. pl
" ... the State Department acknowledged Friday that 22 messages stored on the server contain top secret information.
Clinton has long denied any of the messages that went through the unprotected server in her home contained highly sensitive material. The State Department said none of the messages were marked top secret at the time they were sent -- although it is looking into whether they should have been.
The administration refused to discuss the contents of the messages, which it acknowledged hours before the latest batch of about 1,000 pages of Clinton email is to be disclosed publicly. The messages marked top secret are being excluded from the disclosure. LA Times
Attention pilgrims! US Classified information comes in levels of secureness: The lowest - Confidential, the middling secret - Secret, the good stuff - Top Secret. Then above that or parallel to... are various "code word" compartments.
So, we are talking abut the Good Stuff.
This disclosure AT THE STATE DEPARTMENT by John Kirby puts the Obama/Sanders meeting of a couple of days ago in an interesting light. It seems that Sanders was asked to come to the meeting on short notice. One wonders if the government provided the transportation for the trip from St. Paul, Minnesota 1500 miles away.
IMO this is the crack of doom for the HC campaign. We are talking multiple felony charges here folks. Anyone who thinks the FBI will not continue to leak over this whole phenomenon is kidding himself.
One of the things that puzzles me about this has to do with Bill Clinton. He had to know and he let her do this to herself?
It seems likely that Bernie (Mr. Clean) Sanders will succeed to the nomination. pl
"The first Syria peace talks for two years were a "complete failure" before they started on Friday, a Western diplomat said, after the United Nations announced it would press ahead with them despite an opposition boycott.
Opponents of President Bashar al-Assad said they were far more concerned with fending off a Russian-backed military onslaught, with hundreds of civilians reported to be fleeing as the Syrian army and allied militia tried to capture a suburb of Damascus and finish off rebels defending it.
U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura has invited the Syrian government and an opposition umbrella group to Geneva for "proximity talks", in which they would meet in separate rooms.
But so far the main opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) has refused to attend, insisting it wanted an end to air strikes and sieges of towns before talks can start. The boycott defies Washington, which has urged the opposition to take up the "historic opportunity" for the talks, without preconditions." Reuters
As I wrote a while back, one cannot gain a victory at a negotiation without first having won on the battlefield. The rebels seem to know this and so do not want to negotiate. pl
Far to the east of Damascus, a hundred kilometers beyond Palmyra, lies Deir az-Zour, the largest city in eastern Syria. It sits on the Euphrates River deep in the heart of the Islamic State. It’s been a battlefield since November 2012 and has been surrounded by IS forces since mid-2014. The front lines of the pocket have seldom remained static. Periodic IS offensives make some inroads most often driven back by SAA counteroffensives.
Desperate for something to crow about, IS moved 2,000 or so of its fighters from other fronts to launch its latest attempt to take Deir az-Zour earlier this month. It succeeded in taking some ground including an army supply base and most of a neighborhood in the north and an air defense missile base in the south. With the considerable help of Russian airstrikes, including TU-22M3 strategic bombers flying from Russia, the SAA defenders of Deir az-Zour blunted the IS offensive and are slowly retaking some of the lost terrain.
The press has picked up on one aspect of this latest round of fighting. Depending on which source you listen to, IS fighters have kidnapped up to 400 civilians as hostages from the areas they captured and have killed at least 135 and up to 280 people. Some 80 of those killed were captured SAA soldiers and pro-government militiamen. The truth may be closer to scores of victims rather than hundreds.
The forces in the pocket consist of the 104th Airborne Brigade of the Republican Guards and the 137th Artillery Brigade of the 17th Reserve Division, some units of the National Defense Forces (NDF), and militia from the Shaytat Tribesmen. These soldiers have not just seen the elephant, they have watched the herd pass by time after time. They are hardened fighters. Their commander is Major General Issam Zahreddine, a Druze from Tarba. His nickname is the Lion of the Republican Guard. He was posted to Deir az-Zour in November 2013 and left only to lead the defense of Hasakah in August 2015 before returning to Deir az-Zour. He leads from the front and is clearly an inspirational and competent leader. His son is also in the 104th.
In my assessment, Deir az-Zour will not fall, especially with Russian and Syrian air support. The military airport is still open and functioning for resupply. It will remain a thorn in the side of IS until the R+6 forces can lift the siege. The SAA refuses to cede the initiative and continues to threaten the IS north-south and east-west LOCs.
Here is a video of fighting in the pocket. It gives a good sense of the situation. General Zahreddine figures prominently and appears to enjoy taking a few shots at the jihadists himself. The final battle sequence shows close fighting with hand grenades. Clearly there are no slackers or shirkers here.
For more detailed coverage of fighting in the Deir az-Zour pocket, I recommend Al-Masdar News, a pro-Assad paper based in Lebanon. The paper’s editor in chief is Leith Abou Fadel, sometimes referred to as Assad’s pitbull. Despite his obvious bias, his reports are informative and factual. Here’s some of his recent writings.
" ... there is a broad recognition in the Pentagon that building an effective Afghan army and police force will take a generation’s commitment, including billions of dollars a year in outside funding and constant support from thousands of foreign advisers on the ground.
“What we’ve learned is that you can’t really leave,” said a senior Pentagon official with extensive experience in Afghanistan and Iraq who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions. “The local forces need air support, intelligence and help with logistics. They are not going to be ready in three years or five years. You have to be there for a very long time.”
Senior U.S. commanders have also been surprised by al-Qaeda’s resilience and ability to find a haven in the Afghan countryside, as well as the Taliban’s repeated seizure of large tracts of contested territory." Washpost
We pay these guys? We educated them in what we describe as Staff or War Colleges? (Self referential hazard) I graduated from a variety of the "higher" US service schools and I will tell you that there was nothing very creative that was taught in any of them. It was essentially "cook book" teaching.
A lot of people on SST start to glow red in the eyes when I say something favorable about the WWI and II German Army, but the contrast in pedagogy is striking. The German Army systematically (of course) first selected the smartest young officers to become the intellectual core of the Army. It then taught these officers the Army's doctrine for combat. Following that, the same Army taught them to ignore that doctrine when that was necessary and to think for themselves.
That is not what happens in the US. In this country most national board selected war college attendees (these are the top service schools) are essentially mirror images of the present caste of senior officers. They are people who have consistently been the best uniformed bureaucrats, the best apple polishers, the people who looked the best in the official file photographs (no mustache!), and it does not hurt one's chances if a relative is a three or four star flag officer. A majority are (in Myers-Briggs terms) SJs. These are the guys who make the trains run on time. They are wedded to the palpable and the "here and now." Not surprisingly they are not good at what Bush 41 called "the vision thing." They typically form large committees seeking to understand the future by reducing all factors to tiny and edible bits. It is understandable that they detest the MB test as well as those those who do have "the vision thing." Well, pilgrims, by and large this group of future-blind careerists run the armed forces and its interactions with the foreign policy community.
In Afghanistan these people have relentlessly sought to apply the recipes bestowed on them by people like Petraeus, Kilcullen et al to the project of nation building that we have attempted since 2009. It is a failure. Is that not clear?
Afghanistan is not a nation-state. It never was. There is a state of Afghanistan that is inhabited by five or six different ethnic nations. They do not share a common language. The economy amounts to next to nothing except in the parts the Chinese hope to make something of. The armed forces and police are far larger than anything Afghanistan can possibly support in the present or future. That means that the Americans (mainly) will have to support this artificial and inorganic creation forever.
The generals have "learned" that we cannot leave? The French thought that of Algeria until De Gaulle wisely decided to leave.
I say again. We pay these guys? pl
“Many of them are not doing enough, or are doing nothing at all,” Carter said in an interview with CNBC on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“We can do a lot ourselves … (but) we are looking for other people to play their part,” he added, without singling any country out.
In a separate interview with Bloomberg TV, Carter called the anti-IS alliance a “so-called” coalition, highlighting frustrations the Pentagon has with some partners — particularly Sunni Arab nations — not doing enough.
“We need others to carry their weight, there should be no free riders,” he said.
Carter has spent the past week in Europe, primarily in Paris, where he sought to persuade allies to step up their efforts against the IS group.
He is meeting with representatives from another 26 allied nations next month to make the same appeal." rawstory
Reality is a bitch.
The Borg has never accepted the idea that our "friends and allies" have their own agendas and for very few of them the idea of actually fighting IS is an agenda item. The Borg has never wanted to understand that a lot of the people whom we want to join us in fighting IS are actually quietly supportive of the anti-Western goals of IS. And then there is the little problem of fighting an enemy who think PWs are playthings to be beheaded, burnt alive, etc.
Yes, reality is a bitch. pl
"... the White House has confirmed that two will meet Wednesday, a tacit acknowledgment that the senator’s popularity among Democratic primary voters has unleashed a potent political movement that could influence not only the race to succeed Obama but also the president’s legacy.
The meeting will take place at a time when the contest between Sanders (Vt.) and Obama’s former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, is surprisingly tight — particularly in Iowa, where caucus-goers will cast the first ballots of the year on Monday. Democratic voters are choosing between an iconoclast who has emerged as an emotional favorite for liberal activists and an establishment politician who argues that her lengthy résumé and dealmaking ability make her better qualified for the nation’s highest office." Washpost
So, pilgrims, what is this really about? The WH says that at a Christmas party the prez casually asked Bernie to "stop by some time." I don't think that is the cause of this meeting. So what is it?
What's going on here?
This morning's (1/26/16) NYTimes has an editorial reporting that the U.S. and some European allies are about to take on ISIS in Libyia. And yes, (even!) the Times is suspicious.
Quoting General Joseph Dunford, head of the joint chiefs, the editorial reports: "that military officials were 'looking to take decisive military action' against the Islamic State... in Libya." According to the editorial, Congress is taking a pass on any declaration of war, and the Obama Administration thinks "it would be nice, but not necessary," if Congress did.
The Times Editorial. Times News Story (1/22/16): "U.S. and Allies Weigh Military Action Against ISIS in Libya"
P.S. An update and more fill in the blanks...this time in Iraq and Syria:
"In meetings with President Obama's national security team in recent weeks, military officials have told the White House that they believe they have made significant progress in the fight against the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria, administration officials said. But to deal a lasting blow to the extremist Sunni militancy, [ISIS], they believe that additional forces will be needed to work with Iraqi, Kurdish and Syrian opposition fighters on the ground in the two countries.
"In the past, the Pentagon’s requests for additional troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan have been met with skepticism by Mr. Obama, and his aides have said he has resented what he has regarded as efforts to pressure him. But the rise of the Islamic State has alarmed the White House, and a senior administration official said Thursday that the president is willing to consider raising the stakes in both Iraq and Syria."
Front page stories look to be a piece of the pressure campaign.
The Washington Post has just published an article about the conduct of the Petraeus Case - and how a plea deal was reached, for better or worse. I wonder if it gives us any insights as to how Clinton will be treated?
The last paragraphs:
"Holder, who was planning to leave office and didn’t want to leave the case for the next attorney general, approved the settlement. Holder declined to comment. But he offered this explanation for his decision at a media event last year when asked if there was a double standard that allowed Petraeus to plead to a misdemeanor when his department had zealously pursued others for similar alleged crimes.
“There were factors that made the resolution of the case appropriate,” he said. “There were some unique things that existed in that case that would have made the prosecution at the felony level and a conviction at the felony level very, very, very problematic.” Walrus
By Patrick BAHZAD
It happened over the weekend. SST had predicted this outcome a while ago, but until it materialized on the ground, our forecast seemed to the Borgist preachers like the distant proposition of a bunch of ex-military guys who couldn't see the big picture. Reality is a bitch though. You can conjure up an alternative dreamland, but in the end, there is no escaping the harsh facts of a military balance of power.
Things had started to move early last week, when the SAA, NDF and local militias moved into Salma, the rebel stronghold that was key to defensive positions South of the M4 highway linking Latakia to Idlib. After weeks of preparations and softening up defences, R+6 finally moved in and there was not much the various rebel groups could have done at that point to stop or reverse this trend. The "grinding" phase of the offensive (the so called "attrition") had taken a heavy toll on JaN, AaS and other FSA groups present in the area. With increasing losses, diminishing resources and fading resupplies, the balance between the two opponents had already started shifting way earlier than last week, but the only thing the proponents of the "percentage war" could see, was that R+6 territorial gains remained mostly "marginal".
The Fall of Salma
Well, the "marginal" has certainly turned into a landslide push forward now, and even news outlets which had been strictly following the party line were forced to recognize that fact. The LA Times and the Washington Post - even the NY Times - changed their tune. Experts aligned for months on the Borgist narrative suddenly sounded alarmed at the prospect of "Assad is winning". But that is the price you pay for believing your own spin. Sooner or later, you're in for a reality check !
What has happened militarily is closely linked to the non-linearity of military matters, as we discussed last week. There can be various phases in a ground operation stretching over a period of several months, and the operational tempo of one phase is in no way indicative of the others. Once the strategic breaking point is reached though, the side having gained the upper hand usually pushes through, which results in the opponent's posture crumbling under the pressure. This is what happened with Salma, a former mountain resort North-East of Latakia, that was taken over by FSA groups in mid-2012 and has been turned into the headquarters of various groups, including JaN elements.
Before the decisive attack on Salma about ten days ago, different strategic points around the city were taken by the SAA in November and December of last year. When R+6 went for their final assault, Salma had already become untenable. Its loss meant that the whole defensive line South of the M4 highway was compromised and both SAA advances and "tactical" retreat by the rebels made for a very quick correction of the frontline in the area.
Focus on Rabiah
As a consequence, R+6 were able to reach and cross the M4 at Sheekhaneh, taking over Mount Baradun as well as the Baradun dam. Almost simultaneously, operations started towards Rabiah, the main rebel stronghold in the Jabal Turkmen and HQ to the FSA's "First Coastal Division". The inroads made by the SAA, with CAS from the RuAF, again proved decisive against a rebel frontline that had already been destabilized by the loss of Salma and the prospect of being cut off from their LOCs with Jisr al-Shughur. True, a small rebel counter-attack was launched far up North of Latakia province in the middle of last week, but other than taking a couple of hamlets close to the Turkish border, nothing decisive was achieved. At best, a diversion, at worst, a PR-stunt the effects of which are no longer felt.
"In one e-mail, Clinton pressured Sullivan to declassify cabled remarks by a foreign leader.
“Just e-mail it,” Clinton snapped, to which Sullivan replied: “Trust me, I share your exasperation. But until ops converts it to the unclassified e-mail system, there is no physical way for me to e-mail it.”
In another recently released e-mail, Clinton instructed Sullivan to convert a classified document into an unclassified e-mail attachment by scanning it into an unsecured computer and sending it to her without any classified markings. “Turn into nonpaper w no identifying heading and send non-secure,” she ordered.
Top Secret/SCI e-mails received by Clinton include a 2012 staff e-mail sent to the then-secretary containing investigative data about Benghazi terrorist suspects wanted by the FBI and sourcing a regional security officer. They also include a 2011 message from Clinton’s top aides that contains military intelligence from United States Africa Command gleaned from satellite images of troop movements in Libya, along with the travel and protection plans for Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was later killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi.
“Receiving Top Secret SAP intelligence outside secure channels is a mortal sin,” said Chris Farrell, director of investigations for Judicial Watch, the Washington-based public law firm that has successfully sued State for Clinton’s e-mails." NY Post
She has one hell of a problem.
IMO this NY Post article can only be a deliberate leak designed by the leaker(s) to block Obama's ability to suppress the FBI investigation as well as DOJ action against Clinton and her immediate personal staff. This article, and the implied threat of more such leaks effectively shuts out the possibility of a POTUS intervention in the investigation.
It will be surprising if there are not indictments.
Biden stands in the wings, "licking his chops" in anticipation of fulfilment of his life long dream.
One must ask why she would have done something so foolish as to conduct the business of her office by masses of unclassified E-mail handled by a personally owned server located in her house. This server was backed up by another server located in Denver, Colorado. That server was maintained by a "mom and pop" business that kept the back-up server in a guest bathroom in their apartment.
I can only attribute this madness to an arrogance so profound that it cast caution to the wind in the belief that she was above the law.
It was one thing to maintain contact with friends like Sid B. by private E-mail but to try to run the State Department this way was just crazy. pl
"Biden, who arrived in Turkey late on Thursday for a visit, reportedly said at a meeting with Turkish lawmakers on Friday that the PKK is different from the Syrian Kurdish group the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Davutoğlu responded to these remarks, calling the PYD a "terrorist organization collaborating with the Syrian regime," and saying its armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG), operates on orders from the PKK leadership based in northern Iraq, as he spoke to a group of journalists en route from Germany to Turkey late on Friday.
At the press conference with Biden, Davutoğlu said the YPG was a part of the PKK and that it gets open support from the PKK, which he said was a threat not only to Turkey but to the entire region. The YPG, Davutoğlu said, is turning into a security risk due to its association with the PKK.
"Turkey considers the Assad [Syrian president Bashar al-Assad] regime, Daesh and the YPG a threat," he said.
He also said only the legitimate Syrian opposition should take part in the upcoming Syria peace talks, apparently ruling out support of possible PYD participation amid reports of Russian efforts pushing for the representation of the Kurdish group in the negotiations." todays zaman
Once again, what is Uncle Joe Biden seeking to accomplish on this trip? Is the real agenda a vacation for him and his lovely wife? The bazaars in Turkey are endlessly fascinating. The cuisine is excellent. The people are a lot like Americans, blunt, forthright, friendly.
But, the AKP government of Sultan Tayyip is an un-named co-conspirator of the Muslim Brotherhood. Tayyip and his little friend Davutoglu (the name means "son of David" He is of Jewish descent.) . These AKP people clearly intend to re-establish something reminiscent of the late Ottoman Empire. Their meddling in Syria and Iraq are evidently seen by them as instrumental to that goal.
The YPG Kurds are now advised on the ground by US Green Berets and supported by both US coalition and Russian air.
Nevertheless, Davutoglu told the world with Uncle Joe at his side that the YPG Kurds are terrorists as dangerous and threatening as IS or the Nusra people that he and his boss support from a Turkish sanctuary base.
Joe avoided agreeing with Davutoglu over YPG, and a follow-on presser with the Sultan was cancelled to avoid more public disagreement but the underlying policy dissonance remains. Does the Obama Administration not see that? Do they think that Tayyip and company are not neo-Ottoman revanchists, irredentists and Islamists? Do they not see that?
BTW, on MTP today Robert Gates blathered on about "no fly Zones" and an Arab/Turkish coalition ground force against ISM. My god! This man was DCI and SECDEF and he does not know that none of that can be done? The Arabs lack the capacity and the will and NFZ would quickly become sanctuaries for jihadis. Mon dieu! pl
"In a damning critique of what is still the Republican line on Iran, the former congressman characterized neocons as fear-mongering, trigger-happy hawks who would rather launch pre-emptive war than allow nonviolent diplomatic efforts to succeed. Their “greatest fear,” he writes, “is for peace to break out.”
Conservative pols and pundits have been working themselves into a tizzy, trying to spin recent developments in the U.S.-Iran relationship into a narrative of American folly and weakness. Never mind that those developments include the release of four political prisoners, as well as a brief altercation with the U.S. Navy, which ended — much to some conservatives’ consternation — without violence.
Conversely, Paul, the onetime Republican presidential candidate and father of current GOP hopeful (and debate no-show) Rand, praised what he described as the triumph of diplomacy thanks to both the efforts of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as their counterparts in Tehran." Reisman
Hilary Clinton has come to the fore lately as the country's leading neocon. Her strident calls for unending and un-relenting hostility to Iran are indicative of the character of the "advice" she is getting and the fear of abandonment by AIPAC that seems to grip her.
The People (in the constitutional sense of the term) do not trust her. They watch her well rehearsed performances and recognize them for the contrived, coached things that they are.
Now the multi-billionaire Zionist Michael Bloomberg is floating the rumor that if there is a Trump/Sanders election he MAY run as an independent and spend a billion dollars of his own money in the process. He also says that if HC is the Democratic candidate he probably WOULD NOT run against her. Does this mean that HC is acceptable to the billionaire class and to Zionists like little Mike, but Sanders is not?
Senator Sanders is far to the left of me politically. He would do a lot of things that I would not like, but he is not a neocon. pl
I am afraid Sir Robert Owen's inquiry, and the media reception of it, marks a further stage in the consolidation of 'Ingsoc' in the U.K. The charitable view of Sir Robert is that he is a judge in whom the propensity common to many of his kind automatically to believe the police and intelligence services, and to disregard the counter-claims of those they accuse, has reached a point of near insanity. The uncharitable is that he is engaged in a deliberate attempt to cover up the truth. These are not claims I make lightly. Throughout, Sir Robert has conducted his investigation on the basis that the integrity of the investigation by Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) into Litvinenko's death could be taken for granted. He has done so despite the fact that claims by SO15 on crucial matters have changed with a frequency which makes those made by Orwell's 'Ministry of Truth' look like models of consistency. Take for instance the crucial claim that one can rule the possibility that Litvinenko knowingly had contact with polonium prior to his meeting with his supposed assassins, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun, on the late afternoon of 1 November 2006. The current version is summarised – and accepted without question – in section 6.274 of Owen's report. (See https://www.litvinenkoinquiry.org/files/Litvinenko-Inquiry-Report-print-version.pdf .)
According to Owen's summary: 'Mr Litvinenko left home at about 12.30pm. He travelled into central London by bus and tube, arriving at Oxford Circus shortly after 1.30pm. The bus on which he travelled was subsequently identified and tested for radiation. No radiation was detected.' According to the 'evidence' on which Owen relies, the bus in question was a number 274, identified by Litvinenko's Oyster Card – an electronic device which everyone who travels regularly on public transport in London uses. Unfortunately, this account is new. Originally, it was suggested that Litvinenko was given a lift into central London by car. Then he was said to have travelled the whole distance on a number 174 bus (which also goes near his house) which was identified by a £1.50 ticket. Only in April 2007, in a book by the former BBC Moscow Correspondent Martin Sixsmith, did the Oyster Card appear, and the bus was still a 174. In the August 2008 study by the 'NYT' correspondent Alan Cowell, this became a 174 bus and unspecified tube. According to Sixsmith's – vivid – account, Litvinenko arrived in central London at 11.30am – two hours earlier than the time now given. None of the journalists involved appear to have bothered to check what their SO15 sources told them with what others had been told. This is stenography, not journalism. Most if not quite all of these discrepancies, together with a large number of similar ones, have been pointed out in memoranda supplied to the Inquiry team, starting back in September 2012. I have been assured by the Solicitor to the Inquiry, Martin Smith, that these memoranda have been read. And it gets worse. Although I am still reading through the report, it appears that Owen has chosen to accept the version according to which Litvinenko, together with associates like the Italian Mario Scaramella and their common collaborator Yuri Shvets, was engaged in bona fide attempts to uncover terrible truths about Putin and his 'sistema'. To do this, Owen both suppresses a vast mass of information, much of it unearthed by Mr Italian collaborator Mr David Loepp, and repeatedly drawn to the Inquiry team's attention by myself, and makes highly selective use of the information he does accept into evidence. A key document is a letter supplied to Scaramella by Litvinenko on 1 December 2005 for use by the so-called 'Mitrokhin Commission', of which my Italian collaborator Mr David Loepp obtained the full (Italian) version, and an abbreviated (English) version was presented at the Inquiry. Not discussed by Sir Robert Owen, however, was a key claim in the letter: that the notorious Ukrainian mobster Semyon Mogilevich, while acting as an agent for the FSB and under Putin's personal 'krysha', was attempting to obtain a 'mini nuclear bomb' for Al Qaeda. This was clearly an attempt to capitalise on the 'suitcase nuke' hysteria. At the time he and Scaramella were collaborating in disseminating this and similar claims – with the involvement of other figures, such as Oleg Gordievsky, Vladimir Bukovsky, Vladimir Rezun (aka 'Viktor Suvorov'), and the former CIA operative Lou Palumbo – Litvinenko was, as we now know, an agent of MI6. (See https://www.litvinenkoinquiry.org/files/2015/03/INQ018922.pdf .)
This farrago was supported by material from the famous Melnichenko tapes, which were transcribed and disseminated by Shvets, the whole operation being funded by Boris Berezovsky. As is evident to anyone who has looked at all closely to them, what used to be the conventional wisdom – that the published excerpts were not edited – is patently false. If you do not believe me, have a look at the key transcript, available at https://www.litvinenkoinquiry.org/files/2015/04/INQ015726wb.pdf Another key document which has surfaced at the Inquiry is an affidavit by Litvinenko taken in Tel Aviv by Michael Cotlick, a personal assistant to Berezovsky, in April 2006. This relates to a dossier circulated by Russian intelligence to Israeli, Italian, German and French intelligence – also U.S. intelligence as we know from other sources. This dossier made claims about Berezovsky's supposed links to mobsters and Chechen guerillas. In brief, the Litvinenko mystery is part and parcel of the larger story of claims and counter-claims about the relationship of, on the one side, both Russian oligarchs and Western intelligence services to jihadists, and on the other, the Russian security services to jihadists. One can see these claims and counter-claims surfacing in a symposium on the well-known 'neocon' site 'FrontPageMag.com' on 27 October 2006 – that is, at precisely the time polonium was being smuggled into London. In this symposium, which is full of hysteria about – palpably non-existent –'suitcase nukes', what is clearly a polonium-beryllium initiator, which was also palpably non-existent, is identified as the key missing element required to make such a device functional. (See http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=1857 .)
This and much further information has also been discussed by me in memoranda submitted to the Inquiry team – repeatedly. However, according to Sir Robert Owen, the only possible explanation for the presence of polonium in London in October and November 2006 is a deliberate plot, probably approved by Putin, to assassinate Litvinenko. On this, I think the last word should be left to 'Natasha', the 'Humor Editor' of 'Russia Insider', who imagines how a conversation on the subject back in 2006 in the Kremlin might have gone. (See http://russia-insider.com/en/litvinenko-plot-revealed-last/ri12379 .) On a more serious note, some further relevant material on all this is provided in three 'diaries' which Mr Loepp and I put up on the 'European Tribune' site back in 2012, which contain links to earlier pieces written by the two of us separately: although in my case with extensive help from him. (See http://www.eurotrib.com/user/uid:46/diary .)
"In a barely veiled swipe at one of the Middle East’s leading powers, the United Nations’ special envoy for Syria accused Saudi Arabia of undermining his efforts to bring a broad slate of Syrian opposition groups to upcoming peace talks designed to end Syria’s brutal civil war.
In his confidential Jan. 18 briefing to the U.N. Security Council, which was obtained exclusively by Foreign Policy, Staffan de Mistura said Riyadh is complicating his efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the Syrian conflict by trying to tightly control which opposition groups will be allowed to participate in the negotiations.
His comments came shortly after a slate of Saudi-backed Syrian opposition groups, organized under the banner of the Riyadh-based High Negotiations Committee (HNC), rebuffed his personal appeals to allow other groups to take part in the talks. De Mistura complained to the council that the Saudi-backed opposition coalition and its “sponsors insist on the primacy and exclusivity of their role as ‘THE’ opposition delegation.” While de Mistura did not name Saudi Arabia, Riyadh is the main international sponsor of the HNC. The group, however, is backed by France, Turkey, and Qatar." Foreign Policy
"The Saudi-backed Syrian opposition ruled out even indirect negotiations with Damascus before steps including a halt to Russian air strikes, contradicting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's insistence that talks will begin next week.
With the five-year-old Syrian war showing no signs of ending, it looks increasingly uncertain that peace talks will begin as planned on Jan. 25 in Geneva, partly because of a dispute over the composition of the opposition delegation.
Peace efforts face huge underlying challenges, among them disagreements over President Bashar al-Assad's future and tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Russia on Friday denied a report that President Vladimir Putin had asked Assad to step down last year.
The Syrian government has said it is ready to take part in the Geneva talks on time. The office of U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura said he was still aiming "at rolling out the talks" on Jan. 25, and would be "assessing progress over the weekend".
Russia said the talks could be delayed until Jan. 27 or 28 because of the disagreement over who would represent the opposition." Reuters
"Clinton has been drawing attention to a comment Sanders made in Sunday's NBC News Democratic debate when he said, "I think what we've got to do is move as aggressively as we can to normalize relations with Iran."
That shows a level of naiveté, Clinton insists. In an interview with NPR Wednesday, Clinton drew attention to his position, calling it a "fundamental misunderstanding of what it takes to do the patient diplomacy that I have experience in."
After noting that Iran "seeks the destruction of Israel" and is "flouting international law with its ballistic missile threats," Sullivan said in the video, "it's not at all clear why it is Sen. Sanders is suggesting it."
In a conference call held for reporters Thursday, Sullivan reiterated his concern, saying normalizing relations with Iran is "a bridge too far" even for supporters of diplomatic relations with Iran." nbcnews.com
Well, pilgrims, Clinton once sounded as though she actually understood international relations, but, no more. The Clintonian drive to power before all else is evident now. Triangulation is everything both in foreign policy and in her shameless pandering to Blacks in South Carolina. It is known now that she is one the main instigators and supporters of the R2P/neocon driven Syria policy/lunacy. She continues to say nonsensical things about; regime change, the need to install a replacement government that would include salafi jihadi elements, "no fly zones," unending and absolute hostility to Iran, and support for Erdogan's post-secular turkey. All of these things are on the Likudnik agenda. To top off the list of her "problems," her presentations are so over-rehearsed that they look wooden and phony.
Saudi Arabia is trying hard to win in the negotiations what its Wahhabi friends have not been able to win on the battlefield. That will not happen. Basic Tip: First you win on the battlefield, then at the peace talks.
IMO Syria and Russia are "playing along" with the peace talks meme for the purpose of demonstrating the futility of such an approach. That will work. pl
"Russia could be making moves to establish an air base in northeastern Syria along the border with Turkey, a development that could further complicate the overall situation in the region, two U.S. officials told CNN on Thursday.
The officials say the U.S. has seen a "limited" number of Russian military personnel, more akin to an exploratory party, looking at an airfield in Qamishli, Syria, possibly to determine how they might use the site in the future." CNN.com
This would be a bold move. This place is cheek by jowl next to the Turkish border. IMO it would be supported by air mainly from Russia down over Iran and then west into Qamishli itself. That would take a lot of airlift. It would also require some sort of solid base defense. Who would provide that? The photo above shows that across the road there is a fully developed base structure, housing, etc.
Operationally, this would place Russian air power as support for the Kurds in a very favorable position. It would also make a good SAR base for the US led coalition but, I suppose, the R2Pers aren't smart enough for that. pl
By Patrick Bahzad
The year 2016 has only just begun, but to the Neo-Cons, Neo-Wilsonians and other R2Pers, future developments in Syria already seem pretty certain. The only noticeable exceptions to this unanimous media landscape are the rather refreshing account given in today's Washington Post ("Russian Airstrikes are working in Syria") and another piece by the LA Times, published a couple of days ago. Other than that, the silence among the media crowd and the political establishment is quite deafening. However, as evidenced by Col. Lang’s recent pieces, all these folks string together a story that can best be described as a mixture of self-hypnosis and self-delusion. With absolutely no background in military and strategic matters, the song that is being sung is simple: the Russians will inevitably get stuck in a quagmire and the only way out will be to cooperate with the White House and State Department, on the US administration's terms of course.
This is the world we are living in: everybody is entitled to an opinion, however wrong and misguided it may be. The good thing on the other hand is that sooner or later reality will come back and bite you in the ass, when you are living in lalaland.
Things are quite simple really: the only basis – other than a partisan agenda – on which the Borgists build their opinion and outlook is the “metrics” of recent operations. Those “metrics” are about the one thing they are willing and maybe capable to understand: easily quotable figures and numbers that give the uninformed viewers a sense of certainty about the narrative they are being fed.
There is no need to go any further than the NYT for a soft version of the deeply flawed methodology that presides over the Borg’s analysis of military matters. You just have to “do the math”, as they say, to realize Putin is not doing very well: dozens of aircraft deployed, Russian advisers deployed with SAA frontline units, allied troops (Hezbollah, IRGC, Iraqis and Afghan militias) mobilized by the thousands and barely 1.3 % of Syrian territory having changed hands in the three months since the Russian intervention started. Worse even, ISIS bombed a civilian Russian airliner out of the skies, killing 224 people, Turkey shot down a Russian military aircraft and two Russian servicemen were killed in the incident.
No question asked about their goals, strategy and tactics, other than the same old “Putin wants to prop up Assad” and “the Russians are targeting moderate groups, supported by the US”. Nothing about the cost/benefit ratio, or the sustainability of their effort. And I'm not even talking about the strategic points the Russians have already scored. The killer-argument of course, the one that is hammered home every time a representative of the Borgist narrative is interviewed, is the territorial argument: Assad and the Russians have recovered little ground despite weeks of intensive airstrikes and the only way for Putin to alter the dynamics of the war is to get involved ever more into the conflict, thus risking “another Afghanistan”.
According to Borgist logic, the Russians will therefore come to the realization that their enterprise is futile and the US should then seize the opportunity and impose their own agenda – and that of their local allies. Watching MSM news and debates about the latest round of fighting in Syria is a bit of a strange experience, not unlike discussing a football game with some friends of yours and getting the feeling you’ve actually seen a totally different game. The linear logic that is at work here is quite surprising in the sense it is utterly non-sensical.
"Russia’s military intervention in Syria is finally generating gains on the ground for Syrian government forces, tilting the battlefield in favor of President Bashar al-Assad to such an extent that the Obama administration’s quest for a negotiated settlement to the war suddenly looks a lot less likely to succeed.
The gains are small-scale, hard-won and in terms of territory overall don’t add up to much, in keeping with the incremental nature of war.
But after 3½ months of relentless airstrikes that have mostly targeted the Western-backed opposition to Assad’s rule, they have proved sufficient to push beyond doubt any likelihood that Assad will be removed from power by the nearly five-year-old revolt against his rule. The gains on the ground are also calling into question whether there can be meaningful negotiations to end a conflict Assad and his allies now seem convinced they can win." Washpost
The US MSM has carefully avoided describing the major gains made by R+6 forces but now the game has so clearly gone down the drain for the R2Pers, their neocon friends, the Turks and the Gulfies that mention of it cannot be avoided.
I wonder if Ms Sly actually understands war so little that she believes her own description of the battlefield situation. Perhaps. Perhaps.
Well, pilgrims, she has one thing right. There isn't the chance of a snowball in hell that R+6 can be BSd into giving up what is obviously a winning hand.
We Americans ought to start contemplating the massive amounts of money that we are NOT GOING TO MAKE in the re-construction of Syria and the development of Iran's economy.
The dreams of the Brave New World Order have proven to be expensive. pl
"The world economy is bracing for a glut of oil that could send prices tumbling even further as demand cools while supplies of already-prevalent crude increase as sanctions are lifted on Iran.
With demand from a contracting Chinese economy falling and Iran to resume exports, “unless something changes, the oil market could drown in oversupply,” " Time.com
Tell me the thing about "Peak Oil" again... pl
"As fighters in the city dig-in and try to consolidate their positions, those fighting on the regime’s side are cutting off supply lines along seven fronts in a bid to cut-off the eastern part of the city, ahead of the upcoming offensive.
The Syrian military and its allied militias have once again started offensive operations after Russia intervened late last September on their side and began providing air support. " Rudaw
Rudaw is a Kurdish news network.
"b" tells us that there are 8,000 R+6 reinforcements newly arrived in the Aleppo area. Who these troops might be I know not. Is this the much reported newly created 4th Assault Corps of the Syrian Army or some other group? And what exactly is the composition of the 4th Assault Corps?
Russian air and artillery are chewing the "opposition" to bits while the threat of Russian anti-air defenses have effectively grounded the Turkish Air Force. This has enabled the YPG Kurds to advance across the Euphrates River to threaten the IS' supply line to Turkey and the Syrian Army to re-group and sort out the confusion caused by the long, slow decline it had experienced at the hands of rebels supplied by the US, Turkey and the Gulfies.
The "grinding" process continues as forces are positioned for the climactic battle we have characterized here as the kesselschlacht .
If I were in northern Syria as an "opposition" fighter I would either be thinking of "rallying" to the government side or looking over my shoulder at the Turkish border. pl
"The give and take over which opposition parties and individuals are represented in the peace talks may in the end be a sideshow for the real trend in Syria, which is the progress of the Syrian army, backed by Russia and Iran, in retaking territory from the Islamic State (IS), Jabhat al-Nusra and other armed groups. Who is winning on the battlefield matters more than who fills the chairs in Vienna or Geneva, although this is not to disparage the many positive contributions the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) can and will make to help Syria’s transition. But the Syrian endgame is more likely to be found in Aleppo rather than in well-intentioned ISSG meetings in European cities." al-monitor
Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/01/syria-isis-nusra-aleppo-opposition-jihadi-assad-terrorist.html#ixzz3xXyjKYe7
Yes folks, "there is no substitute for victory." The "opposition" will be destroyed on the plains of Idlib Province and then the civvies can bitch and whine all they want at a peace conference pl
Yesterday was Implementation Day. Today on the FZ GPS show it was repeatedly said that what was negotiated was the ending of a "POTENTIAL nuclear weapons program" but did Iran actually have a nuclear weapons program at all after 2003? pl
"The IAEA wants to know how far Iran got, “where it did this work” and “was this weapons capability just put on the shelf, waiting to be quickly restarted?” With that information, the IAEA can “design a verification regime and to determine if Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful today,”" Walter Pincus
I usually agree with Walter Pincus, know him personally and have a high regard for his analytic ability but I think he is pursuing the wrong question in this matter.
Pincus seems focused on determining the residual value of previous Iranian work on nuclear weapons design. His idea apparently is that the Iranians may possess finished or nearly finished nuclear weapons design technology that is "on the shelf" and that can be used in a rapid "start up" effort to actually build a usable nuclear weapon.
For me, the more important question is whether or not there was an Iranian nuclear WEAPONS program at all after2003.
The US Intelligence Community has been unwilling to say publicly that there has been any such program since 2003. What they may have said in private is unknown to me. pl
On the occasion of the implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran it is important to remember a few things:
- It remains unclear as to whether the Iranians have had an active nuclear weapon development program since 2003 when they are thought by many to have ended it when the putative Iraqi threat was removed by the US.
- The 9/11 attackers/plotters/funders were all Sunni.
This is a a list of Muslim Groups presently actively hostile to the US:
- The Islamic State (Sunni)
- The Al-Nusra Front (Sunni)
- Al-Qa'ida Central (Sunni)
- Al-Qa'ida in Magheb (Sunni)
- Al-Qa'ida in Arabian Peninsula (Sunni)
- Boku Haram (Sunni)
- Al-Shabbab (Sunni)
- Khorassan Group (Sunni)
- Society of the Muslim Brothers (Sunni)
- Sayyaf Group in the Philippines (Sunni)
- Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan (Sunni)
- Lashgar i Taiba (Sunni)
- Jemaa Islamiya (Sunni)
- Houthis (Shia)
Shia forces bombed US and French facilities in Beirut in 1983. That was 33 years ago. Shia militias fought the US COIN campaign in Iraq. So did Sunni forces. Shia forces are now fighting IS in Iraq and Sunni jihadis in Syria.
So, why is it that US media consistently describe the Shia as a malevolent force throughout the Islamic World?
Could it be because Israel/AIPAC and the Gulf Arabs want Iran contained as a geopolitical rival in the region? Could it be that? pl
The prospect of Iran's emergence from isolation could overturn the geopolitical balance of the Middle East. Iran is the pre-eminent Shi'ite Muslim power and its allies are fighting proxy wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen against allies of its main Sunni Muslim regional rival, Saudi Arabia.
In Iraq, Tehran has found itself on the same side as the United States, supporting a Shi'ite-led government against Sunni militants of Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
Zarif has argued, including in a New York Times Op-Ed column last week, that Iran wants to help the global fight against Sunni Muslim militants, who he said are spurred on by policies adopted by Saudi Arabia.
"It's now time for all — especially Muslim nations — to join hands and rid the world of violent extremism. Iran is ready," Zarif tweeted on Saturday. Reuters
Well, the Republicans, anti-Iran fanatics generally, agents of influence of Israel and assorted cats and dogs have all tried to stop this and they have all failed.
IMO Obama can count this one as among his major achievements. pl
I just viewed the digital preview of episode 1 of a new PBS series about a Civil War hospital in Alexandria, Virginia entitled “Mercy Street.” I found it excellent. The creators of the series took great pains to adhere to historical accuracy, including medical procedures, style, etiquette and behavior. The series portrays life at the Mansion House Hotel and Carlyle House turned into a military hospital by the Union Army in 1861. The filming was done in Richmond and historic Petersburg, Virginia where much of the movie “Lincoln” was shot.
Visit Alexandria is one of the supporters of the series and is running several exhibits in the city to coincide with the debut of the series on 17 January. The exhibits will run through Spring. If Visit Alexandria is smart, they will contact one of their own sons, Colonel Lang, to incorporate his knowledge of the place and period as well as the “Strike The Tent” trilogy into their celebration of the “Mercy Street” series. One of the characters in “Mercy Street” is Frank Stringfellow, a Confederate spy and scout who “is on a covert mission in Alexandria disguised as a dental assistant.”
"In a pivotal step reflecting the changeability of military and political deals in Israel’s neighborhood, Jordan has almost overnight agreed to establish a shared war room with Russia for the concerted conduct of their operations in Syria. This represents an extreme reversal of Amman’s policy. Until now, Jordan fought against Russia’s protégée Bashar Assad from a joint war room north of Amman called the US Central Command Forward-Jordan, as part of a lineup with the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel." Debka
IMO, the retention of Jordanian participation in the CENTCOM ops center in Jordan is just re-insurance intended to hedge Jordan's new bet on R+6's coming victory in the area south of Damascus. With this new policy, Jordan will help Russia destroy the rebel forces in that area or will undoubtedly disarm them as they cross the border into Jordan. Jordan needs to get the war over with so that the masses of Syrian refugees can go home, but the price of that should not to be to let jihadis find a refuge in Jordan. Jordan has far too many takfiri salafi within its borders already. Article 9 may apply to some.
King Abdullah came to Washington this week to discuss this (possibly seeking available "gimmedats?") and was in the process of being ignored by Obama (obsessed as he is with "justice"). Then some brave soul explained to the prez that Jordan was abandoning its alliance with the US and Israel in favor of R+6. That was evidently enough to get his attention (even though still distracted by Sandy Hook and his continuing grief). He met Abdullah planeside at Andrews AFB as the little guy was leaving the US, but, alas, too little too late.
Debka's tone in this piece is remarkable. It reeks of Israeli ethnocentric arrogance. Jordan is not a serious player militarily, really? Moscow's "key objective" is to clear south Syria of rebels? In fact the action in northern Syria is much more significant from Moscow's POV in that it is likely to kill more jihadis. These will be jihadis who will not end up back in Russia.
About the only thing that could save the rebels south of Damascus from their Gotterdammerung would be an Israeli attack into the flank of R-6. Good luck on that happening! pl
When Saudi Arabia went on a rampage and started bombing Yemen many were scratching their heads, wondering what that was all about. Was there a point? Was there some underlying principle to it? Jamal Khashoggi elaborates on Al Arabiya that there was a decisive plan, and that it has a name: The Salman doctrine.
A few months ago, I wrote an article entitled “Each era has its state, men and foreign policy.” Today, following the Decisive Storm campaign, time will produce even more than that. It’s King Salman’s principle. ...
So what’s Salman’s principle? The statement of the five Gulf countries that laid the basis of the alliance of the Decisive Storm campaign can explain it. ...
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) promis[ed] to deter the aggression and restore security via the political process ... However, can a regional state, no matter how powerful it is in its surrounding, implement such a doctrine without superpowers, and particularly the U.S.?
This is what King Salman bin Abdulaziz did and he established a new rule in international relations. This is what veteran Senator John McCain noticed last Thursday, and hours after launching the Decisive Storm campaign, he said that “Arab countries no longer trust the U.S. and this is why they planned this alliance on their own.” He added that there had been no such alliance in decades.
So this is an act that establishes a new image laid out by King Salman. So how did this happen and can it go on? I think the first step was when the Saudi king decided his country could no longer bear the provocative Iranian expansive policy in the region, and the American silence over it.
Saudi Arabia no longer cares if this U.S. silence is the passing weakness of a president whose term ends in two years, or if it’s a conspiracy or a major deal that President Barack Obama is negotiating with the Iranians as they address the latter’s nuclear program.
It seems the Saudi king decided that Saudi interest comes first. He decided that if Saudi Arabia has to act alone, then it will. Of course, it would have preferred this old tested scenario of alliance to be with its old ally; however it could not link the fate of the country to this alliance - although it first resorted to forming an alliance with its brothers and friends from the Arab and Muslim world.
... How can this benefit us later?
The first benefit is that strong regional countries like Saudi Arabia can lead even if history, or at least its history, changes. The second is that when the U.S. senses “decisiveness,” it will respond and follow the regional leader …
A third benefit is that allies … when they sense the leader’s decisiveness, they get over their desire to alter their policies and - either willingly or reluctantly - go on with the leader’s plan and eventually benefit themselves before benefitting anyone else.
Now that Decisive Storm is on, there must be someone observing the situation. What happened is setting a new rule in the science of “resolving crises,” and if this succeeds, it will encourage other regional powers to try it somewhere else.
… The Turks, who are the upcoming partner of Saudi Arabia in the process of “resolving crises” without U.S., think so too.
... Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has several times voiced his desire to impose a no-fly zone - and later - a buffer zone in north Syria. He even suggested this latter idea to King Salman during their last summit and his idea was supported by the king ...
... Let’s wait’s and see. Just like Erdogan supported Saudi Arabia’s operation in Yemen, Saudi Arabia will of course support him if he decides to adopt Salman’s doctrine.
It appears that the point of Operation Decisive Storm was doing something decisive.
It must be to Salman's great perplexion and chagrin that thus far none of the desired decicively decisive results have manifested and that goes for a Saudi victory in Yemen as much as for Erdogan's Syrian no-fly- and safe-zones. The Saudis – and not for lack of scheming – never got their chance ‘to drag along an unwilling and exasperated US kicking and screaming’.
That Salman's cunning plan was all about being decisive, 'changing the game' and 'creating new realities' is suggestive. Neocon advice? It reads like stuff a Kagan would write. Strikingly, Kashoggi singled out for praise the stalwart support of the demented John McCain.
Kashoggi's grandiose fawning sheds light on the rich Saudi fantasy life that lies at the roots of the mess that is Saudi foreign policy today. For that alone it is worth reading.
~ by confusedponderer
I am told that the lieutenant in charge of the two boats decided to re-set his navigational electronics to make a plotted course more of a straight line. That is what brought the boats into Iranian territorial waters. So much for the hysterical, jingoist crap being pushed on TV by CNN and in the senate by Tom (Woof-Woof) Cotton and the senior madman from Arizona. Ah, and then there was the ranting of Joe "Turgidson" Scarborough this morning. The other people on the set were clearly embarrassed. That was justified by his ridiculous over-reaction. pl
While the usual disclaimers apply including the fact that I am no military or political expert, I wonder if it would be useful for SST members to consider what a Syria reborn after the demise of ISIS might decide to become? I also wonder what the Geopolitical fallout of victory over ISIS might be?
Taking the Geopolitical issue first, I am assuming that the successful Russian intervention destroys Washingtons "Monopolar worldview" as it should if we are to avoid nuclear war and that the rebuilding of Syria occurs in an environment of intense competition for influence among "Great Powers (™)" Europe, America, China and Russia.
The latter Two have the front running. The R2P people in D.C. are completely discredited because they not only instigated the war but prolonged it. I fail to see therefore , absent a Pauline conversion, how they can claim any role in Syrian reconstruction. To put that another way, I don't see an American reincarnation of Noel Annan dragging a Conrad Adenauer out of the rubble and promoting him as "their man". Europe? Well they have simple done Washingtons bidding.
Russia in my opinion, stands to gain most - a warm water naval base, perhaps an air base - vengeance for President Obamas "Regional Power" slur. Then of course there are the weapons sales. China? Well there is a lot of spare capacity in the Chinese economy at the moment that might usefully be used for the reconstruction of Syrian infrastructure. The Kurds? More winners.
Who are the losers? Turkey for One, at least under an Erdogan Government. Then there are the Gulf states and the KSA who may wind up facing a united and battle hardened Shia crescent. Israel? Fast footwork may prevent any fall out. They have not (yet) tried to annex the Golan or attack into Lebanon although that might have been the intent had the Assad regime looked like losing.
As for Syria and the Syrian people themselves? I think we may have actually done some nation building here thereby proving the Walrus law - governments achieve the reverse of their stated objectives. My thinking is that winning a war like this is a transformational event for Syrian society. Notwithstanding the realities of Arab behaviour catalogued by Col. Lang, I think the shared experience of this war has the potential to bind Syrians in a national sense - perhaps giving some emotional realities to Sykes - Picot - not just lines on a map anymore, especially if Assad can be magnanimous in victory.
I will cease bloviating and ask you what you think the future might hold for Syria.
" Al Hardan received training on how to use an AK-47 assault rifle in November 2014 on a farm outside Houston from a confidential informant who was working with federal authorities.
During the hearing, Wittliff read aloud excerpts from a conversation that authorities had recorded between Al Hardan and his wife in October 2014. Prosecutors did not say how the recording was obtained.
“Once I get the passport I will leave America, I will leave. I will make a widow of you,” Al Hardan said to his wife, according to the excerpt read in court. “I will go to Syria. I am not wacko. I am not wacko. I am speaking the truth. I want to blow myself up. I want to blow myself up … I am against America.”
Wittliff also testified authorities had a photograph showing Al Hardan had taken an oath on a Quran to the Islamic State and that in the closet of his bedroom, agents found an Islamic State flag and a prayer to do list in which he spoke about receiving strength to be able to commit jihad and becoming a martyr." WTOP.com
This fellow has not yet been convicted of "material support to terrorism." That should be remembered.
Nevertheless, it should also be remembered that he and his brother evidently got through the much discussed "refugee vetting process" to enter the US as officially designated refugees. That is an ominous thing.
The jihadi groups have clearly stated goals of infiltrating people into the US for the kind of attacks and activities that the DHS/FBI recorded al-hardan as saying that he intended to do.
Particularly irritating is his talk of "getting the passport." I have heard that phrase all too often in the ME from people who wanted a US passport not because they wanted to become Americans but rather because it would be a convenience.
Perhaps, Governor Abbott is not wrong about retroactive screening of recent refugees who entered the US under the refugee clearance program. pl
"Regime forces have launched a new campaign just west of Aleppo city to cut off neighboring Idlib province from the Turkish border, a correspondent on the frontlines with the pro-regime Lebanese al-Mayadeen channel told Syria Direct Tuesday.
The endgame is the capture of the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, said Ridha al-Basha, who is currently embedded with Syrian army forces west of Aleppo city. If the Syrian army can take back the border post, it would “isolate Idlib from the Turkish border,” he said.
The army’s campaign, which began on Monday, aims first to capture the town of Khan al-Asal, approximately 2.5km west of Aleppo city, in a four-pronged attack, reported state-owned news agency SANA Monday." Syriadirect
IMO this is part of the shaping of the battlefield for the coming decisive battle of annihilation in Idlib and western Aleppo provinces. As "b" has pointed out the jihadi forces at Salma withdrew without much of a fight at the end. Western Borgist media are doing a great job in their task of ignoring R+6 progress. pl
"... the Syrian Arab Army’s 103rd Brigade of the Republican Guard – in close coordination with the National Defense Forces (NDF), the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), Liwaa Suqour Al-Sahra (Desert Hawks Brigade), the Russian Air Force, and Muqawama Souri (Syrian Resistance) – liberated the strategic town of Salma after a short battle this morning with the Islamist rebels of Jabhat Al-Nusra (Syrian Al-Qaeda group) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
The loss of Salma for the Islamist rebels will prove devastating in the coming weeks, as the town overlooks much of the Latakia Governorate and the western countryside of the Idlib Governorate, where Jaysh Al-Fateh (Army of Conquest) has enjoyed unrivaled control.
The next step for the Syrian Armed Forces will be to take the rebel stronghold of Al-Rabiyah in the Turkmen Mountains (Jabal Al-Turkmen); if captured, the Islamist rebels will likely retreat from the entire province, as they will no longer possess any high ground." Al Masdar
It seems likely that the main further advance in the area will be from Salma and Al-Rabiya NE up the M4 to Jisr al-Shugur and thence to Idlib City. At the same time there is a road that run SE from Salma that leads down into the plains of Idlib Province.
The pincer movement and Kesselschlacht in Idlib takes shape. pl
By Patrick Bahzad
Are we witnessing the emergence of the first visible cracks in the Syrian rebels' armour ? It may be too early to predict a breakdown in their defensive posture on the ground, in North-Western Syria, but what commentators on SST had been expecting may be about to start and the "snow ball" effect might set in earlier than expected.
The Borg's discourse has remained unchanged over the past weeks. Unable to see their narrative for what it is, the proponents of the all too familiar "Assad must go" solution keep arguing that the Russian involvement in the war has been marginally influential at best, detrimental to Putin's interests at worst. Well, reality is a bitch, as these good folks might find out soon. As we speak, R+6 troops are moving in on the rebel held town of Salma, North-East of Latakia, in an offensive that has the potential to cause the breakdown of this entire stretch of the front-line.
Entrenched in strongly fortified positions, rebel units of various colour had resisted Russian airstrikes and Syrian artillery up until now, sustaining only "minor" territorial losses according to the Borg. But as any first year student of Clausewitz will tell you, defensive warfare only trumps offence if managed properly. The breakthrough of a large attacking force through defensive lines on the other hand can cause for the disruption of the entire strategic balance of power, therefore potentially nullifying any advantage the defending party might have.
Is this what we are witnessing in and around Salma ? It may be too early to tell, but the signs are there and should be a warning to all those who have been arguing that no military victory is possible. Now obviously, they may have a point insofar as a strategic stalemate is one possible scenario for the current conflict, with both sides and their sponsors being in a position where they can never be totally defeated, but can't win militarily either.
I made a grievous error in not noting, at the outset of the first part of this piece, that I was discussing only an earlier part of Roman history. I will try and undo that error now.
The Gracchi and the Revolution
I know that this is repetitive, but Success simply introduces a whole new series of challenges and demands for new energies, approaches and fresh tactics. The complexity of the fresh necessities brought about by the advent of triumph usually places the country in some new peril, on the verge of new precipices it hasn’t prepared itself for by its history or experience. All history conceals big blanks in its narrative. Success implies novel difficulties and requires the imaginative and structural resourcefulness to meet them. Success causes some people to pause and rest and relax their exertions, but in fact, rapid a new growth is needed to forestall either retarding discord or outright decline. Success focuses on one area of our environment, one area of endeavor, and related areas of effort, while others, if not addressed, may cause us to lose what we've won. Victory almost always has very unexpected and unfortunate consequences for the victors for which they have no remedies.
The victory of Rome in the Punic War cut like a chain saw through the whole fabric of the society. There was a flood of new wealth from the conquered provinces, which displaced in part the older economy, which was based on the peasant farmers who formed the main base of Rome’s military forces. Corn, the farmer; s chief crop was now being imported, although its impact on the economy was minimal, More important, the long period of conscription to which the farmer was subject meant that he had no one to maintain or improve or even hold his property when he was abroad. He won Rome; s victories only to return to a ruined home. There was no one and no agency for him to approach for redress.
"Public outcry and condemnation against the Syrian government spread like wildfire across mainstream news and social media when the horrific photos of starved children and civilians from the besieged town of Madaya emerged. No one could understand why Assad would allow this to happen to his own people, especially since videos emerged (that can be seen on my last Madaya article) under a month ago that displayed rallies against the occupying terrorist forces and in support of the Syrian government.
Hours after my last article, truth seekers quickly unveiled the lies shrouding around the starvation of the people." Global Research
"There are between 300 and 600 terrorist in Madaya. The commanding group is Jabhat al-Nusra. There are some 23,000 civilians. The last ICRG convoy delivered food for some two month in mid October. The Syrian army delivered some additional 50 tons of food at the end of November. That last ICRG visit to Madaya was some 10 days ago when some wounded were eveacuated. No famine was reported by the ICRG. Another aid convoy arrived today.
According to civilian inhabitants (not the armed men the NYT uses as "witnesses") the militants have confiscated all delivered aid and sell it only to exorbitant prices to the inhabitants.
There are also sieges on other towns. Most notable Nubr and Kafraya where some 40,000 civilians on the government's side are under siege by Nusra and other groups. Unlike Madaya those towns also come under regular shelling by the "peaceful protesters" of the anti-Assad side." b (Moon of Alabama)
The rebels in Syria are systematically building false propaganda cases against the Syria Government and its allies and then feeding them to the Western media.
That was the case in the Al-Ghouta Sarin gas attack. The chief UN investigator said that the rebels were probably responsible for the attack but the Borg quickly silenced her.
Now we have the interesting case of Madaya, a rebel controlled town on the Syria/Lebanon border up on the Anti-Lebanon mountain.
In this piece the author demonstrates that the images being spread across the world by the Western media are demonstrably false.
Particularly annoying are the photos of a pretty little girl claimed to be starving in Madaya. this girl has now revealed on the internet that she is happily living with her family in south Lebanon.
At the risk of accusations of ethnocentrism and Arab bashing I will say that based on my long association with the Arab peoples I judge that there is little that the majority like better than the idea of winning (anything) by trickery and if the trickery works against the detested West then so much the better.
And, BTW, any thought that the US Government does not know this is all BS is just naïve. pl
I read a lot of history because the wars in history all exhibit many of the same factors.
It has always been my impression that Rome was an aggressive power, opportunistic, always eager to expand whatever the cost. This impression is false. Many times, just like any other power, it was the victim of fear and of necessities that drove and intensified fear. Fear, as a component of rivalry which dreads any attempt to fend off superiorities under which one is liable to be subjugated, is a much underestimated component of history and foreign policy. (Trump appeals to such fear.)
In any case, one of Rome’s first wars, with the Etruscans, was occasioned by pressures of population growth along with Rome suffering from famine and pestilence because of having too little land to sustain its people. By conquering Veii, the great Etruscan city, and defeating the Etruscans, Rome would gain fertile badly needed territory that could be farmed. In other words, Rome’s fear was mixture of the self-defensive and of aggression.
The Etruscan confederation of city-states had no unity, no small factor in its defeat. The Romans provoked the Etruscans by occupying a place called Fidenae, and full war followed. It was in 396 BC that it destroyed Veii, the chief Etruscan city. (I don’t know much about the Etruscans except they were 12 city-state league and that the gladiatorial games was perhaps one of their inventions, along with, perhaps, the Samnites.) In any case, the war left Etruria fell into Roman hands. At a stroke Rome doubled the size of its territory. Rome got Etruria’s excellent system of roads and Rome=s farmers got farms.
Roman leaders replaced the two annually elected consuls, civilians, with three, later six -- all army officers with the same power.
Trouble soon followed victory. It usually does.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A top Marine general predicts that the Defense Department's vows to maintain the same standards for women and men in combat jobs won't last, saying the military will eventually be pressured to lower the qualifications so more women can serve in jobs like the Marine infantry.
The public comments by Gen. John Kelly, head of U.S. Southern Command, underscored how strongly the Marines opposed Defense Secretary Ash Carter's plans to fully integrate women into all combat jobs, including the Marine Corps and special operations forces like Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets. A new, high-level disagreement is erupting over whether the Marine Corps must also fully integrate its 12-week recruit training program at Parris Island in South Carolina.
"They're saying we are not going to change any standards," Kelly told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday. "There will be great pressure, whether it's 12 months from now, four years from now, because the question will be asked whether we've let women into these other roles, why aren't they staying in those other roles? Why aren't they advancing as infantry people?"
Kelly, who has been a Marine for 45 years and served three tours in Iraq, said the sole basis for change in the military should be whether the change will make units more lethal. "If the answer to that is no, clearly don't do it. If the answer to that is, it shouldn't hurt, I would suggest that we shouldn't do it, because it might hurt," Kelly said. (Lolita C. Baldor, AP Correspondent)
Navy Secretary Mabus sent the Marine Commandant a letter on 1 January demanding a plan for integrating Marine basic training by 15 January. He wants integration to begin by 1 April. A second memo warned the Marine leaders “not to use any concerns about integrating women into combat jobs as ways to delay the process.”
General Kelly is absolutely right. The Administration, including civilian leadership in the Pentagon don’t give a damn about the Marines or soldiers in the field. The Marine Commandant, General Neller, has asked for a one-on-one meeting with Ash Carter to discuss this matter. I will not be surprised to see General Neller forced to retire soon. If he is forced into retirement, he will become a vocal rallying point for all former Marines in their fight to save our fighting forces from the social revolutionaries. I’ll gladly join the Jarheads in this one. It should become an election issue. The fate of this country may depend on it.
Re-published in light of ongoing events in Germany and the apprehension of two Iraqis in Texas who had passed the immigrant vetting that was promised and who are accused of wishing to re-export themselves to the jihad in the ME. pl
"Indeed, I would assign to Washington most of the blame for what is happening right now. Since folks inside the beltway are particularly given to making judgements based on numerical data they might be interested in the toll exacted through America’s global war on terror. By one not unreasonable estimate, as many as four million Muslims have died or been killed as a result of the ongoing conflicts that Washington has either initiated or been party to since 2001.
There are, in addition, millions of displaced persons who have lost their homes and livelihoods, many of whom are among the human wave currently engulfing Europe. There are currently an estimated 2,590,000 refugees who have fled their homes from Afghanistan, 370,000 from Iraq, 3,880,000 million from Syria, and 1,100,000 from Somalia. The United Nations Refugee Agency is expecting at least 130,000 refugees from Yemen as fighting in that country accelerates. Between 600,000 and one million Libyans are living precariously in neighboring Tunisia.
The number of internally displaced within each country is roughly double the number of those who have actually fled and are seeking to resettle outside their homelands. Many of the latter have wound up in temporary camps run by the United Nations while others are paying criminals to transport them into Europe.
Significantly, the countries that have generated most of the refugees are all places where the United States has invaded, overthrown governments, supported insurgencies, or intervened in a civil war..." Giraldi
Phil Geraldi is a close friend. I have great appreciation and respect for the Christian charity that permeates his cited article. I share his remorse and regret for the horrors that the United States has inflicted on the Islamic World although both he and I have resisted the worst expressions of the foolishness that has been US policy in the last fifteen years.
Nevertheless, I must point to the fact that the current migrants to Western Europe are merely the "bow wave" of what IMO is a volkervanderung that will consist of many, many more people moving generally from East to West. There are millions of people in the MENA and Central Asia regions who would like to move to Western Europe or North America. Some of them want to get themselves and their families out from under the bombing and out of the general mayhem, but, IMO an even stronger "draw" is the high standard of living to be found in the destinations of choice. It is now clear to those waiting in the Islamic World that the West does not have the will to resist this mass migration, a period of movement of the peoples that may well permanently and massively alter the cultures of the Western European countries. Is the United States responsible for triggering the avalanche of migration that is just starting? Yes, we are responsible, but is the Western European region really capable of assimilating the millions who will be on the move toward Germany, France, etc.? The countries of Western Europe are more or less ethnically and culturally uniform in their ways of life. Americans have a hard time understanding that truth. The US is not and has never really been an ethnic "nation." The US was built and continues to be built in a process of never ending immigration that has changed the nature of the country in every generation. For most Americans there exists a basic assumption that immigrants can be assimilated and will become integrated in a society changed by their presence.
Europe is not really like that. France is a good example. There is an element in French society, descended from colonial subjects who were loyal to the metropole in Algeria and elsewhere and who voluntarily moved to France proper as part of the process of de-colonialization. These people are truly French. They are to be found throughout French society and government. But, there also many, many people who have moved to France from the francophone maghreb and West Africa who have no interest in becoming culturally French. Their goal is cultural autonomy in separate enclaves. There are now so many examples of this mentality and actions based on it that I will not bother to present such examples.
The question must be asked. Will the Germans accept having their way of life changed by the millions who undoubtedly will begin to move toward Germany? How many Muslim migrants will Germany successfully absorb?
The present wave of migrants contains some Christians. These are usually more Western in culture and easier to absorb. Just from looking at them in TV reporting it is easy to see that many of the present migrants are somewhat westernized and often are educated people. Those who come after them will be less and less like that. pl
Obama - "... what you said about murder rates and violent crime generally is something that we don’t celebrate enough. The fact of the matter is, is that violent crime has been steadily declining across America for a pretty long time. And you wouldn’t always know it by watching television, but overall, most cities are much safer than they were 10 years ago or 20 years ago.
Now, I’d challenge the notion that the reason for that is because there’s more gun ownership, because if you look at where are the areas with the highest gun ownership, those are the places, in some cases, where the crime rate hasn’t dropped down that much. And the places where there’s pretty stiff restrictions on gun ownership, in some of those places the crime has dropped really quickly. So I’m not sure that there’s a one-to-one correlation there.
But I think the most important point I want to make is that you will be able to purchase a firearm. Some criminals will get their hands on firearms even if there’s a background check. Somebody may lie on a form. Somebody will intend to commit a crime but they don’t have a record that shows up on the background check system.
But in the same way that we don’t eliminate all traffic accidents, but over the course of 20 years, traffic accidents get lower — there’s still tragedies, there’s still drunk drivers, there’s still people who don’t wear their seatbelts — but over time, that violence was reduced, and so families are spared. That’s the same thing that we can do with gun ownership." Times-Union
I thought CNN and Anderson Cooper did a remarkable job in trying to keep "the game" honest.
Obama gave it his best shot but I doubt that he moved "the needle" much in the direction he wants. His claque applauded on cue. Gifford's husband, the astronaut made appropriate remarks.
On the other hand there were many in the audience who stood respectfully when the president entered but did not applaud then or at any time during the discussion.
CNN's Anderson Cooper tried to question Obama but the man was clearly annoyed by that and actually more or less told Cooper to shut up at one point.
The opposition to Obama's desire to reduce access to guns by incremental measures was represented by 1- the "American Sniper" SEAL's widow. She made it clear that she does not trust the government with yet more power in the area of gun control. Remember, her husband was killed by a psychotic while shooting with the man on a gun range. 2- a sheriff who was unsympathetic to the idea of disarming people. He is presently running for Congress. 3- a married woman with children who was violently raped when a university student and who then became an advocate of gun ownership and self defense.
I thought some of Obama's data points were dubious and should be fact checked. An example would be his depiction of Indiana as a state devoid of gun sales checks. I looked this up. According to Indiana law, "... there are more specific regulations regarding the purchasing and selling of handguns. The transfer of a handgun is subject to a background check to be conducted by an authorized dealer at the time of purchase. " This is with regard to state background checks. There would also be a federal instant background check in any sale by an FFL holder. Evidently Obama was talking about un-licensed sales on a commercial basis. Well, pilgrims he should have said so. If Obama wants to make a case for expanding enforcement of licensing requirements to unlicensed commercial dealers he should do that without being deceptive. The deception makes people suspicious of his and his allies' intention with regard to actual private transfers.
IMO Obama missed an opportunity to make proposals that most people would support:
Keeping guns out of the hands of the truly mentally incompetent while protecting veterans and others from government mommyism in the matter. We have not forgotten Feinstein's statement that all combat veterans are mentally ill.
"No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States." US Constitution
It is not a legal bar for office as president of the US for someone to be a dual, triple, or even quadruple citizen of various countries. The possession of passports from other countries is also not a legal bar to office.
To be a dual, etc. citizen would undoubtedly cause many nationalist Americans to abstain from voting for a particular candidate. IMO that is why Cruz dumped his Canadian citizenship 18th months ago.
IMO the US Constitution should be amended to remove the "natural born citizen" language. This language bars naturalized Americans from the presidency no matter how long they have been citizens and no matter what their service to the country may have been. Two examples of such people would be Jennifer Granholm, the former governor of Michigan (brought to the US as a baby), and Arnie Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California.
This restriction on the office was understandable in the beginning of the Republic when the possibility of counter-revolution led from abroad was real but the restriction no longer is sensible. pl
"Since October, Islamic State (IS) forces in the eastern part of Syria's Aleppo province have been under pressure and compelled to fight on several fronts: against the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its Arab allies near the large Tishrin Dam; against the Syrian army and Russian aircraft around Kuwaires military airport and al-Jaboul Lake; against the rebel umbrella group Jaish al-Fatah (dominated by Ahrar al-Sham and al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra) in the Azaz corridor between Aleppo and the Turkish border; and against the local population in Manbij, toward which the PYD and its allies are advancing. With the PYD seizing the only intact bridge across the Euphrates River for several hundred miles and the Syrian army potentially advancing further north or west, a large group of IS fighters in the Aleppo area could be left without land access to their capital in Raqqa. This prospect raises the question of who would benefit from eliminating IS on this front, and how." WINEP
As I said in an earlier post "the wheels are coming off" the rebel wagons. In this case it is an IS wagon but all the wagons are falling apart.
IS is reported to have made a major effort to re-take the Tishriin Dam and bridge across the Euphrates. They apparently failed and lost a lot of men in the process. If, as the WINEP piece suggests, there may be a linkup between R+6 forces going north and NE from Kuweires air base east of Aleppo and the YPG Kurds who are now across the Euphrates then a large number of IS will be cut off from their main center at Raqqa. If that happens, IS will have to break this encirclement or withdraw their force north of the encirclement into Turkey. At the same time R+6 is attacking west and south of Aleppo and east from Lattakia.
South of Damascus in the Deraa- Jordan Border corridor rebel forces seem to be "dying on the vine" in the absence of continuing Jordanian support. Refugees from this area are massed at the border seeking entry into Jordan,
On the diplomatc front it appears that Kerry doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting an agreement for a cease fire. The reason for this is simple. The various sorts of jihadis have no intention of negotiating with the government.
Maybe IS really is starting to withdraw some of its people from Syria. Their prospects seem poor. pl
CNN and its best front man, Anderson Cooper, will be holding a "town hall" for Obama somewhere in Virginia. Obama should be asked:
1 - What does "universal" mean in the gun control that he favors and favored three years ago? Does "universal" mean ALL transfers of firearms?
2 - What does "in the business of" mean in his new ATF rules? Does it mean that anyone who sells guns is "in the business of?" pl
"Desertion from the FSA is more common in northern Syria, where Islamist groups dominate the military landscape. The appeal of such groups is generally attributed to the strength of Islamist rebels, whose organizations are generally better funded and have more weapons. Western countries have also been reluctant to support rebel groups, with the United States putting an end to its "train and equip" program in October because of fears that arms could fall into extremist hands.
In June 2014, the FSA high command was sacked over corruption allegations by the opposition government and the organization's Supreme Military Council was disbanded.
Despite such problems, FSA Col. Abdel Jabar Okaidy told Al-Monitor that the fighters' morale is still strong overall, contrary to what the southern front fighter said. He explained, "We are fighting for a cause we believe in, in spite of Russian air support and the deployment of Iranian, Lebanese and Iraqi militias, the pro-regime forces' advance has been slow and insignificant."
Hatahet explained that the regime's shortage of manpower has left it, at least so far, unable to capitalize upon the substantial support provided by Russia and Iran." US News and World Report
"... the pro-regime forces' advance has been slow and insignificant."
Well, if you can't win on the battlefield you can always try to BS your way to success in the foreign press. In fact the various FSA unicorn army groups and the jihadi monsters (somewhat reminiscent of the Reivers in the "Firefly" TV series) are falling to bits.
US News is run by good old Mort Zuckerman who IMO never met an Arab he did not want to screw. The Syrian government is a particular favorite IMO among many of his crowd because, well, just because...
If you read carefully between the lines in this piece what you see is the image of rebel forces both north and south of Damascus that are in the process of slow motion collapse. pl
This was a comment I made in response to someone's plaint that he was saddened by my failure to support democracy in the ME. Keith Harbaugh suggests that it deserves better placement. pl
"I favor democracy in the ME, but the actual historical record indicates that the result of attempts to induce the adoption of forms of government that mimic Western norms is not good. Have you ever lived anywhere but the US? Have you ever lived in the ME? I have and for long periods. Your desire to support "democracy" in the ME is a reasonable theoretical construct that is probably based on a lack of first hand knowledge of these societies. IMO these societies are not suited to constitutionally driven, law bound secular democracy. The colonial powers attempted to create such regimes as they withdrew from hegemony over regions that in many cases they had made into protean "states." These new states also attempted to govern themselves on the basis of "democracy." The record of their achievement is poor. Algeria, Tunisia, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon all were governed after de-colonialization in more or less "democratic" ways but in the end they all degenerated into autocracies that maintained the forms of law driven democracies but which all who lived within them knew to be farce. I can go through the record in each of these places if you insist. The same thing happened in Pakistan. FB Ali may want to comment. He suffered mightily (chapeau) in the process of Pakistan's "fall from grace" from the time of Jinnah to the autocracy of Dia al-Haq. This inaptitude for actual democracy has nothing to do with peoples' genetic inheritance and everything to do with the underlying culture in the broad sweep of territory of Islamicate civilization. People who leave this cultural matrix have little trouble adapting to Western norms so long as they do not live in Ghettoized Muslim communities of any size. Other cultures have similar problems but we are talking of here of this particular culture. Islamicate culture favors unity rather than diversity. The notion of such Western concepts as the "loyal opposition" or the value of diversity is totally absent in these "countries" except among the handful of acculturated Westernized liberals who are the darlings of the Western MSM and Western liberals like you. What the Islamicate culture likes is unity of purpose behind one strong man, one ethnic group or sect or one idea. Egypt is a powerful example. Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak were all military officers who ran Egypt as illiberal democracies while laughing up their sleeves at the spirit of democracy which they believed (correctly I think) was simply unworkable in the cultural context of Egypt. The great flaw in neocon thinking has always been the notion of the Modern Man waiting within his eggshell to be liberated from the yoke of traditional culture, strongmen, etc. The truth is that the vast majority of people in the Islamicate cultural area do not want to be liberated from their culture. They want three things; safety, a western standard of living and the accession to power of their own group whatever that may be. To believe that they really want what you think of as democracy is to be dangerously and naively deluded."
"... a political term in the United States referring to sales of firearms by private sellers." Wiki cited below
Obama is evidently about to try to restrict transfers of firearms between private individuals. He seems to intend to do that without legislated authority. There is no "gun show loophole." Vendors participating in a gun show are registered holders of federal firearms dealers licenses and are required to conduct instant background check from the show before selling a firearm.
Nevertheless, there is endless prattle about "expanding background checks," and closing the "gun show loophole." Obama is mounting a maximum IO effort against the American people in this matter. CNN is now running back to back adds directing what domestic audience CNN has to a "town hall" on Thursday on GUNS.
Let us take note of the awkward fact that just about all mass shootings in the US are done with firearms purchased legally under present law from holders of federal firearms dealers licenses (FFL) and for which the required instant background checks were conducted by the FFL holder.
Sales between private individuals out in the parking lot of gun shows are just that.
There is also talk of making internet sales of firearms subject to background checks. Well, pilgrims, they already are subject to such checks. If you buy a gun on line, and I have done so as an experiment, the dealer ships the weapon to an FFL holder near you and that dealer runs the background check BEFORE delivery of the weapon.
So, what are we talking about?
IMO we are talking about eventually, if not now, requiring any transfer of a firearm to require a federal background check whether the transfer is; a private sale, a gift, a loan, a bequest, etc.
FFL holders will love this. They will make a lot of money in fees for handling the background check and paperwork. I might obtain an FFL myself.
Obama's crowd want to make the kids play nicely in the schoolyard. This would be a major step in that direction. pl