"As of last week, the Turkish Air Force had conducted more than 300 strikes against Kurdish targets versus only three against ISIS. Turkey’s war against ISIS was quickly and by design directed against the Kurds, including the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units YPG militia which, together with the Iraqi Kurds, is supported by the United States and has been the most effective force in opposing ISIS. So Turkey, pretending to oppose ISIS, is actually attacking ISIS’s enemies and even placing in danger the American advisers known to be working with the Kurds.
All of which means that the United States is again looking on in astonishment over having been bamboozled, recalling Rudyard Kipling’s famous epitaph “A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the East.” One angry American general calls the development a “bait and switch,” while another commented that Erdogan “needed a hook” to go after the Kurds and lied to Washington to accomplish that. I might even suggest that the original suicide bombing that sparked the whole chain of events, which was carried out by a 20-year-old ethnic Kurd, might itself have been a false flag operation by MIT, designed to ease Turkish entry into a hot war ostensibly against ISIS but which would really be directed at the Kurds." Geraldi
Phil was so kind as to write to me approvingly of my recent scribblings on Turkey and Syria. Here we have his much better comment on the same phenomenon.
At the same time we have this linked McClatchy story in which it is made clear that the Syrian unicorns think the Turkish government betrayed them to Erdogan's Nusra friends. pl
By Patrick BAHZAD
With the frequency in "lone gunmen" attacks – or attempted and foiled attacks – increasing ever more since the start of this year, it may be time to highlight certain patterns that have become apparent and represent potentially crucial challenges for societies in Western Europe. The paradigm shift regarding both qualitative and quantitative aspects of Islamic terrorism is now clearer than ever before to law enforcement and officials, but the implications of this shift still needs to be emphasized, as there are possibly tough choices ahead of us.
Back in the 1990s, when Western Europe and France in particular were first targeted by groups whose members would later be sucked into the maelstrom of global Jihad, it was fairly easier for law enforcement to identify potential threats. Admittedly, the number of individuals on watch lists was much smaller, leaving counter-terrorism with more resources to monitor activities. But Islamic radicals were still operating genuine cells, and their leaders or logistics experts were often foreigners having been allowed into the country as political refugees. They did not blend into civil society and stuck to their own. Once infiltrated, which happened usually quite quickly, it was only a matter of time before these groups were taken apart by law enforcement, generally before even staging an attack.
Changing patterns and profiles
Those days are gone. Jihad and Islamic terrorism in the West has become an entrepreneurial activity for a underclass holding a grudge. Basically, people are now being groomed or grooming themselves into ticking time-bombs, waiting for a reason to go into self-destruct mode. The crux is, there is no single pattern that fits this new type of terrorism. Too many variables have blurred the line for a simple grid to allow us singling out dangerous individuals from the general population.
Some people cry "racial discrimination" and "ethnic profiling" when they hear targeted surveillance and increased monitoring of certain groups, facilities or web sites. The truth though is that about 30 % of the individuals on the continent's terror watch lists have a fully European (Caucasian) and often domestic background. Another 30 % is made up of European nationals having an immigration background that has nothing to do with the Middle-East or North-Africa. These are mostly second generation immigrants from Sub-Saharan Africa, but also from the Caribbean or South America, who have been won over by radical Islam through years of indoctrination in desolate suburbs that are now strongholds of Salafi beliefs, or during a prison stay in which they chose to join the most powerful "brotherhood" in European jails, the Islamic radicals. Only 40 % approximately of security risks – depending on the country – have a Middle-Eastern, North African or Asian background.
"The adversarial relationship between Mr. Trump and the Spanish-language news media, which has simmered publicly since he announced his candidacy in June, boiled over on Tuesday at a news conference in Dubuque, Iowa, when the candidate erupted at Jorge Ramos, the main news anchor at Univision and Fusion, when he tried to ask a question without being called on. Mr. Trump signaled to one of his security guards, who physically removed Mr. Ramos from the event.
“Don’t touch me, sir. Don’t touch me,” Mr. Ramos said, as he was marched out of the room. “I have the right to ask a question.”
Mr. Ramos was eventually allowed to return. But for the Spanish-language press, which has grown in size and influence in politics, the tense exchange was a highly public flexing of muscle against a candidate who many outlets no longer pretend to cover objectively: They are offended by Mr. Trump’s words and tactics — and they are showing it." NY Times
I watched the Trump-Ramos imbroglio this morning and I would agree with the Morning Joe crew and Donald Trump that Ramos was WAY, WAY out of line.
Ramos who has fixed and parochial views on all things related to Latinos in the US, traveled to Iowa and attended, uninvited, a Donald Trump presser in a Trump hired hotel meeting room where he stood up while Trump was answering another reporter's question and began to harangue Trump on Ramos' favorite agenda:
- You cannot build a sufficient border barrier.
- You cannot deport 11 million illegal immigrants.
- You cannot stop "birthright citizenship."
- You cannot change the constitution.
- I am a reporter. I have a right to question you.
- I am an immigrant and a citizen and you must listen to me.
None of this was expressed as question. It was all accusatory diatribe. Well, pilgrims, Ramos does not have a RIGHT to ask anything of Trump or anyone else and to demand a response. He was at a private meeting, paid for by Trump. Trump is under no obligation at all to accept this kind of ethno-centric harangue from someone who, IMO, has no respect at all for the American political process or American law if it is inconvenient to his ethnic brethren. He behaved in much the same way toward President Obama, calling him "deporter in chief."
Ramos may be a citizen of the United States but, like a lot of non-Latino media people he needs to learn how to behave himself in the context of AMERICAN society and to accept the idea that journalists DO NOT determine our political future.
What Ramos has done is win more votes for Trump. pl
"A spokesman for Ahrar Al Sham said that the organization accepted to negotiate. The talks started in the beginning of August in Istanbul and ended with a deal on a short cease fire without solving the problem. “The Iranians have gone mad. They want us to give up Zabadani, move its people out, and in return they will move all the inhabitants of Kafraya and Foua’a and relocate them in a site close to the Lebanese borders or in the Rif of Hama. They warned us and the Turks that if we capture the two villages, they will move the Shia inhabitants out anyway but will then reduce the two villages to rubbles. They will level them to earth. We refused the offer”, the Spokesman said.
The Iranians have not gone mad. They are simply implementing what we described previously as “Plan B”. It is obvious that the trilateral alliance has a clear concept of how Syria will be partitioned. Zabadani will be the spring board to clear the southern Damascus belt of either opposition presence or Sunni presence or both if necessary. The idea is to secure Qalamoun and Damascus, re-enforce defenses around the controlled stretch of territory that includes Hama and then see what will come in the diplomatic channels.
While it is normal that the joint Assad-Hezbollah-IRGC command has a clear division of labor that serves one clear plan, it is not obvious that the Syrian opposition has a unified parallel plan, either to abort the trilateral partitioning intentions or to wage a meaningful counter-attack." Middle East Briefing
It is clear now that the scheming and maneuvering of the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have finally weakened the Syrian government enough to being about its downfall in the not too far distant future.
The impending emergence of Iran from international isolation reduces the willingness of the Iranian government to endlessly, and expensively continue to support the Syrian government. The IRGC may wish to fight on forever in Syria but the government and the Ayatollahs probably do not.
The Arab author of this piece is hostile to the Syrian government but IMO he has it right when he speculates that what he calls the "trilateral alliance" (Syrian Army/IRGC/Hizbullah) now see their best chance of salvaging something from the coming "train wreck" as being a demography based partition agreed to at some negotiating table. Such a partition will require considerable ethno-sectarian cleansing and transfer of populations from areas to areas, something like the Ataturk/Venizelos transfer of the 20s.
IMO the jihadis of various colorations will dominate post Assad Syria. They will struggle over the extent of their territories and the Alawis, Shia and Christians will become residents of a besieged coastal enclave or reduced to dhimmitude under the jihadis.
Will the "trilateral alliance" be able to hold Damascus very long after Assad departs? I doubt it, and then the butchery will really begin. pl
By Patrick BAHZAD - updated on August 22nd, 7.30 am EST
In yet another case of "lone gunman syndrome", a potentially catastrophic terror attack was foiled yesterday by two US servicemen on the "Thalys" highspeed train going from Amsterdam to Paris.
As more details are trickling in about the incident that happened Friday afternoon, it has become clear to law enforcement that we are dealing again with a lone gunman/terrorist carrying out yet another isolated attack.
Although the French Ministry of the Interior has cautioned against jumping to conclusions, Belgian Prime-Minister Charles Michel has acknowledged that a major terror attack had been avoided. Given that the incident took place on a train between Belgium and France, two investigative teams (the French Counter-terrorism Task Force and the Belgian Federal Prosecution Office) are closely cooperating and currently looking into the events as well as into the alleged shooter's identity and past.
What happened and who was involved ?
It was 5.45 pm local time and the "Thalys" was just short of the border to France, when a man sitting in the last carriage of the highspeed train opened fire, shooting at least one round with his handgun and seriously wounding one man.
Among the passengers, who immediately ducked down, were three American tourists (two of them US servicemen) who saw the gunman pass them by as he was pursuing one of the train conductors. The shooter was trying to continue firing his handgun and was carrying an AK-47.
As it turned out, the primer of the AK was faulty, so that the rifle didn't go off when the shooter had first tried to use it. Instead he had picked a handgun out of his backpack but only managed to fire one bullet. Somehow, in his frenzy, he ejected the magasine of his weapon and carried on pulling the trigger as he went after the conductor. With no ammunition in the chamber and no magasine engaged, he was however unable to do anymore damage.
The present strategy of the US for defeat of IS is ultimately dependent on the Turks. Turkey is the main pathway through which IS receives recruits of both sexes and the main pathway through which IS continues to export oil to raise money. Erdogan's Turkey has until very recently barred the US from the use against IS of air bases built and maintained by the US for NATO. These bases are at Incirlik, Diyarbakir, and Batman.
Retired USMC general John Allen has arrived at an agreement with Erdogan for use of these bases for surveillance, attack and SAR purposes in the war against IS. This will be a great convenience to the US air forces.
The problem with this deal is that Turkey and the US have different expectations and goals in this arrangement.
The US wants the bases for the IS war.
The Turks want to facilitate the downfall of the present Syrian government in order to advance the cause of Sunni triumphalism in the Levant. In this, they are complicit with Saudi Arabia and other Sunni moneyed parties in the Gulf. The prospect of a Syria dominated by a Nusra Front led government does not bother Erdogan at all. He has much the same result in mind for Turkey if he can only get enough seats in parliament to change the pesky constitution with its elements of Kemalist secularism. He also must complete his purge of the officer corps of the Turkish armed forces who remain a threat while brooding over the present government of their country.
The Turks also want the US to help them bomb the Kurds (ALL THE KURDS) into submission or extinction, whichever comes first. To this end the Turks will use their own forces and to extent that they can persuade, the forces of the United States and the Europeans. the "allied" Arab air forces have little more than a symbolic political value in this.
For the United States, Turkey's desire to crush Kurdish nationalism is a major problem. The notion that the Pesh Merga, YDP and PKK Kurds are indifferent to each others' fates is an example of the kind of ignorant magical thinking that has run American policy in the ME since the neocons and R2P "crowds" have come to be dominant. In fact the Kurds despite their political and tribal differences are one people. If the United States is complicit in attacks on Kurdish fighters of any kind, it will risk with a high probability of occurrence the loss of the Kurdish ally.
I have been increasingly inclined to reluctantly accept the notion that the US should fight IS directly on the ground and in the air with its own forces and without regard for Arab "allies," not because the jihadis are an existential threat to the US but, rather because they menace civilized life in the Islamic World and across the rest of the world as well. In this context the obstacles presented by Erdogan's policies and crypto alliance with the Islamists are an obstacle to any future destruction of the Islamic State's caliphate. Without true Turkish cooperation victory over the IS phenomenon is not possible and the US should not attempt it. Turkey is IS's de facto protector.
The destruction of IS and Nusra would not mean that future jihadi movements would not someday arise, but such destruction would win time, and that would be enough. pl
PS Marcus says he has rejected the world and will not return but adds that I can use his image as an emblem of my musings.
I keep hearing the Republican Gang of 17 talk about "building up the armed forces." What the hell do they mean? We already spend over 600 billion dollars a year on the armed forces and even more on overseas military operations. We have close to a million people in the US Army, the USMC and their reserve components. We have all manner of "goodies" in high tech equipment, aircraft and ships. What are they talking about?
We now live in a society that is so oriented toward the self-conscious welfare of the individual that therapists describe such antique concepts as "duty" to be mere obstacle to self-fulfillment. This not the kind of society from which our soldiers once emerged.
IMO the ground forces are at or near their limits in voluntary recruitment. There was a certain enthusiasm after 9/11. That eased recruiting problems for a while but it also brought us such sterling "sojers" as the former sergeant Bales, Chelsea Manning and Bergdahl. That fit of enthusiasm has passed.
Now recruits have to be actively sought, one person at a time. Standards are high. Recruits must be physically and mentally qualified and must be American citizens or legal residents of the US or its possessions and this is checked.
Where would they get a lot more people for the ground forces? Women? The LGBT "community?" Minorities? Blacks seem to prefer non-shooting occupations in the military. Foreign mercenaries under new law? (the Oaxaca Legion?)
What the hell are the elephants talking about? Do they have any idea at all? pl
I confess to finding the Trump phenomenon to be immensely entertaining. Joe McQuaid, the publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader, a very conservative newspaper, has said that Trump's supporters are people who would have held season tickets for the Gladiatorial Games at the Coliseum. I think that is about right but, guess what, pilgrims, there are a lot of such folk.
"The people" are mighty tired of Washington's fumbling, Washington's inept warfighting, job flight under trade agreements, etc. The list is long. In my opinion, Trumpism and Sanderism are, in fact, two sides of the same coin, minted from the same metal of discontent. I really like Bernie, my fellow antique curmudgeon. I don't like a lot of his desired outcomes, but I like the way he voices them. But, I don't think he has a chance of obtaining the nomination so his policy positions don't matter a lot. The Democrats are likely to nominate Biden or even Webb as a black horse rather than Sanders.
The Donald is a different horse. Perhaps "hobby horse" would be a better term with which to describe him. There really are enough wildly unhappy people in flyover America to make the notion of a Trump Republican Party nomination plausible. Failing that, the idea that his ego might fuel an independent candidacy with three major candidates is also plausible. Something like that might end in the House of Representatives where the outcome is beyond reasonable speculation.
For the sake of argument, let us accept the notion that Trump might be president of the United States. IMO he has no solid comprehension of the limits of presidential power. He may vaguely perceive the idea but only that. As a "bidness" man and entrepreneur he has virtually absolute control over the actions of the corporations, partnerships, LLCs, etc., that are parts of his financial empire. Boards of directors, stockholders meetings and the like are just "speed bumps" for him to race across with the energy of which he boasts. He is accustomed to negotiations with business entities both at home and in foreign countries in which any kind of guile, deception, threats and bluff are fair game. He evidently thinks he can deal with American government branches in the same way
I do not think he fully grasps how different the US federal government is from what he is used to dealing with. The three branches of the federal government REALLY ARE separate and equal. The Framers divided power for the specific purpose of preventing someone like Trump achieving the kind of undiluted power that he says he will wield over Defense, Immigration, Foreign Trade, Lobbying, etc. To be blunt, the presidency lacks the independent power to do many of the things Trump wants to do. To achieve these policy goals ANY president would need the cooperation of Congress and the federal courts. Obama has been trying to close the detention camp at Gitmo for six and a half years and Congress has simply blocked him by passing laws against his program.
What would happen when Congress or the courts similarly blocked Trump? IMO he would try to ignore the constitutional limits of his power and that would be the end of him. Don't think for a moment that the US military would do anything to support him against the rest of the government. That would not happen. pl
Turkey - The Turkish foreign minister yesterday announced on Turkish TV that no Turkish soldiers will be sent into the "buffer zone" to defend it. Well, then who will defend it? "Turkmen Volunteers?" This would be a transparent ploy, something like the Chinese "volunteering" to fight the US in Korea. The first time a Turkish soldier or jandarm para-military bitches to the media about being "volunteered" Erdogan will have a lot of trouble. Perhaps the unicorn army of non-jihadi anti-Assad resistants? Their leading wave of conquest was just handed its hat, ass and overcoat by the Nusra Front. The effort to train such people is revealed to be totally ineffective. I ask again - Who and what is defending Incerlik Air Base in turkey? IS has demonstrated its ability to operate within Turkey. Air base defense is not an idle question.
HC - News on the jungle telegraph in Washington holds that contrary to any expectation of Clintonian sanity in the e-mailgate caper, HC's staff transmitted information over her non-government e-mail account that they knew had previously been judged to be classified. If that is true, she is in a lot of trouble both politically and legally as are people who were in her former staff. This behavior would be vastly different from transmitting information that had not yet been classified by State or some other government department.
IS chemical weapon use - There is some evidence that IS has repeatedly used chlorine gas or mustard gas against Kurdiah fighters. The Borg's immediate knee-jerk reaction is to suggest that perhaps IS obtained these munitions from the Assad government. Well, pilgrims, these chemical agents are not all that hard to make.
Ramadi - The US and Iraq tell us that Ramadi is about to fall to the forces of light. Well, we are waiting...
Odierno's parting shot - The departing US Army Chief of Staff, Ray Odierno, affectionately known as "The Desert Ox," announced at a final presser that it might be necessary to partition Iraq. Abadi's government reacted in fury to that, and why not. The Shia Arabs want to rule Iraq as it was and in one piece. It will be interesting to see what the new CoS is like. He is a Princeton grad rather than WP.
Political projection for 2016 - A Republican ticket made up of Kasich/Fiorino or Kasich/Rubio. pl
"The basic fundamentals of the Doha talks were: 1) A rejection of the scenario of partitioning Syria, as it will create more instability and provides no end to the war, 2) Adopting the parameters laid by the UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura and by Moscow, 3) Working on an unofficial demarcation of areas of influence, 4) Negotiating, separately first, with Arab Sunni players and the Iranians to determine the final status of these areas of influence, a la Taif agreement, while leaving the door opened to direct talks later on, 5) General elections in Syria with a prior understanding that Assad will not run and that the new government will include representatives of all components of the Syrian society.
(Taif was the deal that ended the Lebanese civil war. It was based on an unofficial partitioning of the country to areas of “natural” sectarian and political control combined under a sectarian dosed central government)" MEB
The author recognizes that this "solution" is partition in all but name as it was in Taif1 -Lebanon.
That agreement was negotiated over the heads of the Lebanese combatant factions and Hafez al-Assad by the triad of; Philip Habib, Dick Murphy and Rafik Hariri. Habib was then Reagan's world-wide diplomatic mister fix-it. He had been raised in New York City in a Jewish neighborhood although he was the child of Lebanese Maronite immigrants. He spoke Yiddish and supposedly had a magic touch with those who spoke the language (and their overseas kin). Rafik Hariri was the darling of the Sudeiri faction of the Saudi Royal family. He had begun life as a poor boy in Sidon, Lebanon, had emigrated to SA, had become a Wahhabi and made vast amounts of money constructing public buildings for the royals. Rumors abound as to what the connection was but I will not list them here. He was a Saudi "citizen" at the time of negotiations. And then there was Richard W. Murphy, the US ambassador in Saudi Arabia. I worked for him there at the time. He and Habib were busy most of the time traveling around the ME in Hariri's plane trying to unravel various Gordian Knots. They schmoozed their way to what looked like a peace deal between the Lebanese (Gemayel) government of the day and Israel. That fell apart when Hafez al-Assad learned of it. The Lebanese were desperate for an end to their self immolation and the Habib/Murphy/Hariri flying carpet managed to arrange a meeting at Taif in Saudi Arabia. Interestingly, this was held in one of the royal guest houses that Hariri had built. There, the Saudis and the Americans arranged a deal that effectively partitioned Lebanon while preserving the image of a single sovereign country. The deal did not require Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon. Hafez-al-Assad gave his assent with the understanding that Lebanon would be within Syria's sphere of influence. The Saudis required that Hariri resume his former Lebanese citizenship and be appointed prime minister by the rump parliament that theoretically still existed in Beirut or what was left of Beirut. The US assented and someone informed the Lebanese of the agreement. Lebanon has been a mess ever since with massive sectarian and political tensions just below the surface of daily life. Lebanon continues to be treated as a regional pawn by all those interested. Perhaps the Lebanese deserve this for allowing themselves to be abused and participating in the abuse. Perhaps Lebanon, a colonial construct, should never have been a single country. It was, after all, merely a French conceit. For this deal to be made required not only the total exhaustion of the Lebanese fighting factions but also the acquiescence of all external players.
The Saudis have now been busy buying off Sisi. That should work in this context. Turkey will be enthusiastically "on board" under present management. Are Russia, Hizbullah and Iran likely to accept defeat at the hands of; the Children's Crusade, the Izzies, and the 'Desert Irish?"
I doubt this is possible considering the mischief the US is fostering against Russia, the general attitude towards Iran of The Borg, and American insistence at Israel's direction that Hizbullah are merely terrorists. pl
"“It’s somewhat dangerous, because there’s a kind of a dog whistle here that some people are going to hear as ‘it’s time to go after people,’ and not just rhetorically,” said David Makovsky, a former Middle East adviser for the Obama administration and now an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies. But Aipac’s claims, he said, had been just as overheated. “There’s almost a bunker mentality on both sides.”" NY Times
"David Makovsky?" A former adviser to the Obama Administration? IMO he is an unregistered agent of Israel as are all the people at WINEP. "... time to go after people?" Well, pilgrims, IMO he and AIPAC know all about how to do that.
FARA clearly does not apply to WINEP or AIPAC. The FBI has on many occasions sought to force these groups to register under FARA but political pressure from Israel's friends (like Schumer) have always managed tp block that.
AIPAC was, in fact, created in response to US Government demands that AIPAC's predecessor group register under FARA.
"The American Israel Public Affairs Committee was founded in 1951 by Isaiah L. "Si" Kenen. Kenen originally ran the American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs as a lobbying division of the American Zionist Council. Before that, Kenen was an employee of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs..." wiki on AIPAC
Bibi has cast the dice and opted for a struggle to the bitter end with Obama for control of US foreign policy.
We will see, pilgrims, we will see... pl
"America is heading for war with Russia. Some call the current situation “an increase of hostility” or “Cold War II.” There are two sides to this story. I believe that American journalists from all political persuasions are not offering critical analysis. Understanding the Russian side and taking their arguments seriously can help prevent serious consequences.
Americans believe that Russians are fed propaganda by the state-controlled media. If Russians only could hear the truth, the thinking goes, they would welcome the US position. This is not so. There are more than 300 TV stations available in Moscow. Only 6 are state-controlled. The truth is that Russians prefer hearing the news from the state rather than the Internet or other sources. This is different from almost any other country. It is not North Korea where the news is censored. Each night during the Crimea crisis, anyone could watch CNN or the BBC bash Russia.
With regard to Ukraine, Russia has drawn a red line: It will never allow Ukraine to be part of NATO. Russia sees the US as the aggressor, surrounding Russia with military bases in Eastern Europe at every opportunity since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The US sees Russia as the aggressor against its neighbors. A small misstep could lead to war. This time the war will not be “over there.” The Russian bombers flying off the California coast on July 4th clearly demonstrate this point. Russians understand that the US has not fought a war on its soil since the civil war. If new hostilities start, Russia will not let the war be a proxy war where the US supplies weapons and advisors and lets others do the “boots on the ground” combat. Russia will take the war to the US. How did we reach this critical point in such a short time?" Jack Hanick
Somehow the United States has become a militaristic state obsessed with force and enemies. It is true, of course that we face real enemies at present. The jihadis could hardly be more real or dangerous, not as an existential threat to the US, but as all too real a threat for individuals or for targets that might at some point grow to the size of cities.
Nevertheless, it must be said that the US, often at the urging of special interests like AIPAC, is manufacturing enemies as well as allies. It has now become "axiomatic" in the American media to refer to Israel as "our greatest ally." That must be a revelation for Britain, France and Germany!
The Republican debaters this week were totally "on board" in their response to Bibi's dog whistle. Bibi insists that Iran is a country ruled by mad mullah anti-Semites who will never change and who are sobbing and wheezing with desire for the day when they can immolate Israel's Jews (and presumably Arabs as well) in a nuclear strike. That this would result in the destruction of Iran in a counter strike is, for Bibi not anything to be considered since they are, well, mad mullahs. Senator Schumer (D - New York) evidently a man with ears that hear the dog whistle) has announced rather quietly that he will oppose the Iran deal BECAUSE THE IRANIANS WILL NOT CHANGE Hear the dog whistle? He did it as quietly using the GOP debate and Jon Stewart's departure for New Jersey political pastures as cover. IMO Jewish Americans who roll over barking in response to the dog whistle are doing Jewish Americans as a whole a great disservice. The media does not hesitate to say that those in opposition are Jews. The dog whistle connection is impossible to ignore.
Russia does not want to fight us. From our actions and statements in obedience to The Borg, we seem to want to fight them.
A puzzling thing repeated many times by the debate creatures was a line about "re-building our armed forces." What the hell are they talking about? How many more hundreds of billions do they want to spend every year?
Joe Scarborough is a small-bore thinker but he worries his way through problems of perception until he approaches comprehension. His street rat instincts then lead him through a maze of double speak on the air as he seeks to force Mika's kaffeeklatch to acknowledge the obvious. Why is he so devious? Simple - he knows that "the masters" in The Borg will do him in if he is perceived to be too independent. When was the last time you saw Freeman interviewed on network TV?
This morning while the birdies were perched around the stammtisch table, Joe asked Richard Haass, president of the CFR, if it is really necessary to rid Syria of Bashar Assad. Haas blinked a few times and then said that Assad was the cause of both rebellion in general and the growth of IS and Nusra. Joe let that go of course. He will return to the subject like a dog returning to a ripe bone long buried in the back garden.
Haass has been president of CFR since 1990 -? He has long presented himself as a deep thinker and a neutral party (almost) in the great struggle of the Zionist state to realize its self perceived destiny in the ME. His predecessor at CFR, Les Gelb, was, IMO, almost comically one sided in this matter however crudely he sought to disguise the fact.
Haass has been more careful, but today the look of surprise and something like alarm that came over him was striking. What was visible in that moment was a deep need to reinforce the message, the message that people like him and Dennis Ross are, IMO, engaged in injecting into the blood stream of The Borg.
Israel is deeply in thrall to a Revisionist Zionist fantasy in which all the surrounding states must be rendered impotent and harmless. That kind of thought led AIPAC and its more covert allies to drive the US towards war and invasion in Iraq. It mattered not at all that the case to be made about WMD programs in Iraq was a total fabrication. It mattered not at all.
Now, the main visible theme in the Likudnik effort is the idea that Hizbullah, the Syrian Government and Iran are, in combination, the greatest threat to the dream yet faced. In fact, Syria has long supplied Hizbullah and has served as a port of entry for Iranian weaponry and advisers on their way to Hizbullah. The present Syrian government must therefore be destroyed.
Joe asked Haass what would replace Assad.
The answer was that a junta of Alawi generals is the mostly likely outcome when Assad is removed.
In this response can be seen the vision of a Syria that will accept a role as a Morgenthau Plan style entity that accepts its fate as a pastoral vassal of Israel.
What next, Joe? pl
Adam L. Silverman
Last weekend's post on how the Lafayette movie theater shooter got his gun included the links to the relevant portions of the Alabama and Georgia codes in regard to mental health commitment being a disqualifying event for the purchase of a firearm. What it appeared to be, based on the Georgia code, was that the commitment had aged out under Georgia law. At The Truth About Guns, Nick Leghorn argued that the shooter would have had to falsify his answers to the Form 4473, which is, of course, a crime. We now know that neither his involuntary commitment, nor his answers on From 4473 were disqualifying accounts or a criminal act. The reason for this is because Houser was not involuntarily committed. He was subjected to an Order to Apprehend by a probate court judge in Carroll County. An Order to Apprehend is the first step in the evaluation process - a process that is intended to NOT run roughshod over anyone's civil rights and liberties. Houser was brought in, evaluated, and the recommendation from the mental health professionals was not hospitalization - i.e. involuntary commitment. As such, nothing regarding his mental health status would have or should have been entered into NICS. As for all of his other run ins with the law: the link to the Ledger-Enquirer story has a full run down of everything he was alleged to have done, as well as how and why none of it ever, in the end, resulted in a felony conviction.
* Hi-Point .40. Image found here. Houser used a Hi-Point .40, my apologies to all GLOCKophiles/GLOCK fanboys that felt besmirched by last weekends graphic of the Plastic Fantastic...
** I know I promised a review of Winkler's Gunfight. I want to reread the book before I do it up as I originally read it last August. I have an analytical project I'm working on for work, which should be done by the end of the week. So I'll endeavor to get it up in a ten-day or so.
"... the American-aligned unit, known as Division 30, in fighting off the assault, according to an American military spokesman and combatants on both sides. The strikes were the first known use of coalition air power in direct battlefield support of fighters in Syria who were trained by the Pentagon.
The attack on Friday was mounted by the Nusra Front, which is affiliated with Al Qaeda. It came a day after the Nusra Front captured two leaders and at least six fighters of Division 30, which supplied the first trainees to graduate from the Pentagon’s anti-Islamic State training program.
In Washington, several current and former senior administration officials acknowledged that the attack and the abductions by the Nusra Front took American officials by surprise and amounted to a significant intelligence failure." NY Times
"a significant intelligence failure?" No! No! Based on my 34 years experience in government in the war-fighting, policy and intelligence fields I would bet you a month's pay that the intelligence community told the policy people (elected and appointed) that the Nusra Front are inherently and permanently enemies of the United States and the west in general.
What has happened in this is that the policy people, unable to find tools with which to bring down the Syrian government, (at Israel's behest) have been working for the last several months at the considerable task of convincing themselves that not all Nusra jihadis are "bad people." Some are now said to be "misguided" by policy people in the hope that the Nusra Front can be made into useful idiots willing to serve the interests of what they would call the Crusader and Zionist foe.
Well, pilgrims, if someone or some group of someones in the IC contradicted that idea I am quite sure that the response from the policy side would be to tell them to go play amongst themselves quietly whilst the grown-ups talk.
Contributing to this catastrophe visited upon the hapless 60 members of Division 30 (the Unicorn Army) is the willingness of Israel to support the rebels fighting the Syrian Government south of Damascus. Guess what! These rebels include Nusra Front elements. Israel is treating their wounded in Israeli hospitals and providing them close air support.
Well, pilgrims, if Israel thinks they are all right...
He thinks we should leave the "civilized world" and move to a nice, warm island where we can concentrate on finding ripe coconuts, good bananas, the odd lobster and where the doings of the
Fundament of Borgistas will not so oppress us.
He raises the following points:
- The Turks describe their Indian Reservation in NW Syria as being a "no-fly" zone for their favorite non-IS rebels. These include the Nusra front.
- The US anti-IS czar, General (ret.) Allen USMC says it is not a no-fly zone.
- Who is going to defend this Indian Reservation?
- The Turks have now graciously given us access to four air bases that we built and maintained on their territory. We did this because they were once something like NATO allies of the United States.
- The Turkish Deputy PM has once again insulted a woman member of parliament by telling her that she should shut up BECAUSE she is a woman. We need allies like the Erdogan government? Oh, I forgot we have other allies like that, the Saudis!
- The Turkish Air Force has now begun to bomb installations of the PKK. This is a problem for the US since the other Kurds; PM, YPG, etc. do not share Turkey's view of the PKK and the various Kurdish groups are the only people effectively fighting IS. We (Allen) traded the Turks our de facto agreement to this in return for the use of the air bases? Have we considered the fact that Turkey may now become unstable over this intervention? I hope someone is thinking about air base security.
- An unnamed "senior US official" said today that the US does not seek the military defeat of the Syrian Government. No? You could have fooled me. Oh, I forgot (getting old) that we hope that Assad will decide to commit personal and national suicide by allowing us to jaw-bone him into leaving.
- Kurdish and Syrian government forces have driven IS back from Hasakah in NE Syria. Will the Turks accept that or will they bomb IS's enemies there because they are Kurds and Syrian Government? US air reportedly put in 10 strikes at Hasakah to help with the anti-IS effort. We are not helping the Syrian Government?
I suggest a de-confliction office somewhere to prevent US/Turkish/Syrian engagements.
Marcus and I will continue to discuss the possibility of escape. I am thinking of Bora Bora. I remember the old San Miguel ad that began "I was standing on the beach at Bora Bora..." pl,
Adam L. Silverman
One several occasions I've written here at SST about the disconnect between Jewish Americans and the organizations, and in some cases specific individuals, who claim to speak for them. The former include AIPAC, their research arm The Washington Institute (for Near Eastern Politics/WINEP), The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), The American Jewish Congress, The Republican Jewish Coalition, and a bunch of other groups. The latter group I like to call Professional Jews and include Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Jennifer Rubin, Rabbi Foxman*, Rabbi Boteach, Professor Dershowitz, and a whole host of others. As I've previously written these groups and individuals often attempt to, and do, present a set of positions to America that is supposedly representative of Jewish Americans. In almost every case, such as support for resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, the actual data tells us something else: that a majority, or at least a plurality, of Jewish Americans take an opposite position than those presented by these groups and individuals. So it should not be too surprising to find that when it comes to the recently negotiated P5+1 Agreement with Iran that a majority of Jewish Americans are in favor of the deal (53% think Congress should vote to affirm it and 49% directly support the agreement). Despite this AIPAC intends to send 300 lobbyists to Capitol Hill to lobby against it (h/t: Digby). As is usually the case the Professional Jewish Organizations and Jews are not aligned with the majority of Jewish Americans. Not that you are likely to see that reported on a Sunday TV talk show - you know the ones that have Bill Kristol or Charles Krauthammer on every weekend...
* Rabbi Foxman is sort of an interesting individual and kind of an outlier in this groups. Because he is the head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which monitors and tracks anti-Semitism and other extremist and exclusionary activity and groups, he has often been on TV, radio, and covered in print as a go to resource regarding Jewish Americans, their concerns and their views. However, after some negative responses to some of his interactions on Fox News, as well as some bad experiences that he had on air with some of the Fox News on air talent, he seems to have not just backed off, but returned to focusing in his media appearances on anti-Semitism and extremism in the US. He recently indicated that the ADL "was not campaigning on the agreement."
Hillary's "classified" e-mails
" To be properly classified, a classification authority (an individual charged by the U.S. government with the right and responsibility to properly determine the level of classification and the reason for classification) must determine the appropriate classification level, as well as the reason information is to be classified. A determination must be made as to how and when the document will be declassified, and the document marked accordingly. Executive Order 13526 describes the reasons and requirements for information to be classified and declassified (Part 1). Individual agencies within the government develop guidelines for what information is classified and at what level" Wiki on classification in the US.
God himself does not personally "classify" information, not even in the US Government. He leaves that task to mere mortals. People who have security clearances and who are given access to documents marked with some jumble of letters indicating a degree of secrecy usually assume that there is something inherent in the information or the document that made it "classified." That is not the case. Information does not become "classified" until a "classification authority" says it is classified. In each department of the Executive Branch of the federal government the ultimate "classification authority" is the cabinet officer who heads that department, i.e., the Secretary of --------.
In the case of the State Department, that "classification authority" was Hillary Clinton whilst (I been watchin;' Brit TV again) she was Secretary of State, Sooo, unless she ruled that something circulating within State was "classified," it was not.
In the case of something from another department that came to her already "classified" that would be a more complex "call," but not a simple "call." Normally, information coming to a departmental secretary has more than one source. Who can say what information came from where? Sooo, let up, people. pl
How well is "containing IS" doing?
The answer is--- not very well. Absent a US national desire to fight a major war in Iraq and Syria, the only way to get rid of IS is to wall it up in the territory it has managed to capture and keep it walled up until it evolves into something other than the monstrous version of Sunni Islam that it now is. That happens with revolutions. It ALWAYS happens. I challenge you to name a revolution in which it did not happen.
The needed cordon sanitaire is looking shaky.
On the north, IS inspired terrorism inside Turkey has apparently caused that country to suspend its flirtation with IS, but not evidently Nusra and other anti-Syrian government groups. At the same time Turkey has begun bombing PKK associated Kurdish groups that it hates for nationalist reasons. To what extent the other Kurdish fighters, YPG, Pesh Merga, etc. will accept this is not clear to me. After all, the US has been engaged in combat support of these groups with US air. We are their de facto allies.
On the east, Iraq, in spite of all the happy talk declarations from the Obama Administration is still looking mighty weak. The ISF and friends re-captured Ramadi, right? No? The ISF and friends re-captured Baiji, right? No? IS is newly and expansively active in Diyala Province? Yes. A greater alignment of the US with Iran in combating IS seems inevitable if Iraq is to be "saved."
On the west, the US, Turkey, Jordan, Israel and the Saudis are still intent on destroying the present Syrian Government and armed forces as well as the Hizbullah allies of the Syrian Government. The common threads in this determination are; the childlike belief in the Borg that a secular, liberal government would arise from the rubble, Israeli desire to screw Hizbullah and Iran which are seen in Israel as "the main enemy," Saudi and Islamist Turk desire for absolute Sunni domination of, well, everything.
On the south, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are insignificant militarily. They have a lot of equipment but little ability to use it other than at the operator level. War is a social process in the service of political goals. If you want to include economics as a sub-set of politics, that is fine by me. The Saudis and Kuwaitis have no real understanding of the military social process. If you don't understand that statement, keep reading SST. Someone will eventually succeed in explaining it. IMO the only viable solution for building up the south flank of the containment zone would be for the Saudis/Kuwaitis to hire some other country's forces to do the job for them. They have done this before. Saudi/Pakistani agreements stationed large numbers of active duty Pakistan service people in Saudi Arabia for many years. These Pakistanis were situated in combat units as well as support and staff jobs. This kind of augmentation could free up Saudi security services for internal security, a job they are fit for. Failing this kind of strategy Saudi/Kuwait will remain very vulnerable to internal jihadi subversion.
A cordon sanitaire strategy will not, of course, obviate jihadi terrorism outside the contained zone. That would remain the field of competence of; police, intelligence work, SOF and the like. pl
Obama as worldwide community organizer
"Hope and Change" was the watchword of Obama's election in 2008. I voted for him twice for lack of someone acceptable to me on the other side, but there was no enthusiasm in my support. I thought there might be hope for this man when I watched him mock himself on late night TV as "the goat boy messiah," and "arrogant," but alas, he is revealed as someone who thinks there is value in wandering the world lecturing alien peoples with regard to their sometimes abhorrent folkways. Female genital mutilation is an abomination and is all too frequent in Black Africa and Egypt, but does he really think he can "jaw-bone" them out of this custom? Really? Perhaps that kind of delusion explains his fantasy policy in Syria. pl
The Sanders/Trump phenomenon
IMO both these men are expressing widespread discontent in the part of the electorate that I would describe as culturally White. This is the part of the electorate that identifies with the historic majority culture of the United States. Race has nothing to do with whether or not you are culturally White. Asian Americans, some Black Americans, Latino Americans and three toed sloth Americans all can be culturally White. These people feel deeply threatened by the "goat boy messiah," and his cultural brethren in the Borg and are looking for their own messiah. pl
Adam L. Silverman
COL Lang just asked where last night's murder-suicide perpetrator got his gun. Keeping in mind that this is an unfolding news story and information is going to shift and change as the investigation continues: NBC (and other news organizations) is now reporting that he legally purchased the .40 caliber Hi-Point at a Phenix, AL pawn shop in February 2014. The question that arises is if he was involuntarily committed how could he have made it past the background check. While Federal statute indicates that an involuntary conviction or adjudicated mental defect is disqualifying in regards to purchasing a handgun, neither Georgia nor Alabama law is 100% in line with this. Involuntary commitments, in Georgia are disqualifying within five years of the attempted purchase (O.C.G.A.§ 16-11-129). Moreover, conviction of non-violent misdemeanors is also not disqualifying according to Georgia's statutes. According to the news reports, Houser was involuntarily committed seven years ago and what has been published of his lengthy criminal record has been non-violent misdemeanors and traffic violations. Alabama's statutes (ALA CODE § 13A-11-72) pertaining to who is prohibited from owning a pistol makes no mention of voluntary or involuntary confinement at all and only disqualifies those convicted of committing violent offenses. So according to the state statutes, in both the states he has resided in - Georgia and Alabama - he was not prohibited from purchasing/owning a firearm. The question that will have to be answered is why, given that Federal law is stricter in regards to involuntary incarceration, the information regarding Houser's did not make its way from Columbus, GA where it happened to the State of Georgia up to the Federal NICS database. The problem with this and the other databases used, like all databases, and as we saw with Dylan Roof's purchase, is they are only as good/useful as the information that is put in them. Put in the wrong information, leave out pertinent information, and they will not tell you what you need to know because they cannot tell you what you need to know. And one of the biggest problems with the NICS system is that it has been underfunded, for political/ideological reasons, and state involvement is hit or miss - because of funding and sometimes ideological/political issues.
Obama is unhappy with how many are killed with a gun in the US. Well, why not? He should be. That is his job.
At the same time we should remember that most gun fatalities are self inflicted and a lot of the rest are the by-products of the drug enterprise.
The shooter in Lafayette, Louisiana had a destroyed mind, had been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital and had once been denied a gun purchase by the background check system.
So, before the media gets its shorts in a twist again over this, let's find out how he got the gun. pl
Yesterday COL Lang requested that everyone in ear (and eye) shot write their member of Congress. While letters will get logged in and eventually read by someone, email is basically ignored. The quickest and most direct way to get your views registered with your member of Congress and Senator is to call. Congressional offices log the calls, the subjects of the calls, and the position/view of the caller regarding the subject of the call. The good folks at Balloon Juice regularly put up these instructions when someone mentions contacting their Congressperson or Senator, so I'm going to link and then adapt their instructions:
If you're not sure who your member of Congress is, click over to this page, put in your zip code, and push the red button.
The Congressional Switchboard's number is (202) 224-3121. Here are the links with the direct numbers to Senator's and Congressperson's offices. While every so often you might get to speak to your actual Senator or Congressperson, it is much more likely you're going to wind up speaking to a staffer in their office. When you call, please remember to:
1) Be polite!
2) Identify who you are and your zip code.
3) Politely state the issue you are calling about.
4) Politely tell them how strongly you feel about it.
5) Politely tell them that you and your fellow like minded constituents in your district or state will take their vote on this issue into consideration when they next come up for reelection.
6) Politely thank the staffer for his or her time.
7) Hang up and go about your normal daily routine.
I strongly support the agreement with Iran with regard to nuclear energy programs. I do not think it is a perfect agreement but I think it is good enough to be a prophylactic against yet another war in the ME. IMO the deal is in the best interest of; the United States, Israel and all others.
There is a major political project underway to exert pressure on members of the US Congress in both houses to vote against the deal.
I entreat all Americans within the sound of my voice to contact their two senators and member of the House to express support for the agreement. pl
With regard to a putative Bibi order to the Israel Air Force (IAF) to attack Iran (presumably in a maximum effort) there is an open question as to whether or not the IAF would obey such an order. Israel is not the United States. Israel is a parliamentary democracy. The US is a presidential democracy. American officers have no tradition of overt resistance to presidential orders. In Israel the cabinet are members of a committee of something like equals with the PM as first among equals. IDF officers routinely enter politics after if not during (reserves as well) military service. Politicians are not a separate and alien class to IDF officers. To career IDF officers civilian politicians are basically something that should be scraped off a boot. IDF General Staff intelligence estimates that Iran has not had a nuclear WEAPONS program since 2003. The US IC has the same opinion. I ask again - would the IDF obey an order to attack Iran in these circumstances? pl
In this episode of "The Newshour," we have evidence of cracks in the usually seamless nature of the policy collective.
- Susan Rice ( 13:34 ) makes a clear eyed and (for her) impassioned defense of the Iran nuclear agreement.
- OTOH we have the baying of a panel of the "usual suspects" assembled evidently for the purpose of having Judy Woodruff feed them "set up" lines so that they could declaim against the deal. (20:30)
Michael Haydon's denunciation of the deal was a bit of a surprise, but of such material are generals made these days. Perhaps he is not on good terms with Hillary or simply thinks that she will implode eventually, weighted down by her plasticized campaign and that Obama will be succeeded by a faithful servant of Natanyahu.
Sandy Berger made a few fitful attempts to inject just a little balance into the discussion but was treated with barely concealed disdain as a perhaps "reformed" kleptomaniac. (Berger was apprehended some years ago while trying to steal documents from the US National Archives.)
Woolsey is a long time, big time neocon operator and Dennis Ross, well, he is on record as being a faithful son of Israel. (They, are, he said, my people.)
IMO The Newshour has become the most sophisticated mechanism in the hasbara network. Gwen Ifill is an excellent reporter but she is really fronting for the controlling interest there.
The Borg is splitting over this. How much farther will the cracks spread? pl
From their point of view there are numerous targets for eradication.
- Army post names to change: Ft. Bragg (North Carolina), Ft Lee (Virginia), Ft Hood (Texas), Ft Benning (Georgia), Ft Rucker (Alabama), Ft A P Hill (Virginia), Camp Pickett (Virginia), Ft Polk (Louisiana). These posts house close to half the soldiers of the Regular Army of the United States. None of these posts existed before WW One. They were all so named as part of a concerted effort on the part of the US Government to entice the states of the former Confederacy to support the war and to fight with enthusiasm. The WBS ended in total Northern victory in 1865. The seceded states were declared to no longer exist and were instead numbered and administered as Military Districts of the occupation. This occupation ended at various points in time with Texas being the last to be re-admitted to the Union in 1870. Before that time these states were treated as outside the Union. The experience of occupation was not thought of as pleasant. As a result the Confederate generation's adherence to the concept of "The Union" was not unlimited. When the Spanish War began 35 years after Appomattox, Southern response to Washington's appeal for volunteers was tepid. Wade Hampton (MG, CSA) then Governor of South Carolina replied to the request by saying that "the South knows the cost of war, let the North fight." In the hope of obtaining the support of the South for WW One, the above named mobilization posts were named for the South's heroes.
- In the same effort, a space was made at Arlington National Cemetery (Mrs. RE Lee's estate) for burial of Confederate veterans. This is called Jackson Circle. Several hundred "Johnnies" are buried there in the shadow of Moses Ezekiel's "Confederate Memorial" statue. He was one such himself and VMI's first Jewish graduate. Surely these "traitors" will have to be removed from Arlington.
- Schools- how many public schools are there scattered across the land that are named for Confederates? They will be re-named? A California Assemblyman has introduced a bill in the state legislature to change the names of two California schools named for Lee.
- How many counties are named for Confederates?
- Nancy Pelosi proposed today that the flags of states that contain elements of any Confederate flag should be banned from the US House of Representatives. By my initial count those would be Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. Perhaps she sees more traces of "corruption" in the flags of other states.
- How many units of the Army National Guard are descended from Confederate units. The 116th Infantry Regiment comes to mind. This is the old "Stonewall Brigade." They always claimed he was named for them and not the other way around. "Beaches of Normandy" is one battle honor streamed on the regiment's colors.
- How many statues are there that would be removed from public property? Every court house in the south has such a statue. Typical would be the magnificent bronze depiction of a Rebel rifleman that stands before the old county court house in Leesburg, Virginia.
- How many streets will be re-named? There are 20 in Alexandria, Virginia.
- The graves of "Johnnies" once invited in US government cemeteries would never be decorated with their flags? Will these "traitors" be dug up?
- There would be no display of Confederate memorials in the national battlefield parks where there are so many now? In those places they struggled to the death against my ancestors.
And what of our slaveholder presidents? Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson and on and on?
- Will all the towns named for them be re-named?
-Will the images of Washington and Jefferson be dynamited from Mount Rushmore?
- Will the Washington and Jefferson memorials in the city of Washington be demolished?
- Will the city of Washington be renamed?
If you want to destroy the ties that bind us, persist in such fantasies. There will be a political price to be paid. John Boehner knows this. pl
" Dylann Roof, who is accused of killing nine people at a church in South Carolina three weeks ago, was only able to purchase the gun used in the attack because of breakdowns in the FBI’s background-check system, FBI Director James B. Comey said Friday.
Comey said that Roof should have been prevented from buying the .45-caliber weapon used in a shooting that authorities have said was motivated by Roof’s racist views. The political repercussions of the June 17 massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston led South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag from its statehouse grounds Friday.
“This case rips all of our hearts out, but the thought that an error on our part is connected to a gun this person used to slaughter these people is very painful to us,” said Comey." Washpost
Just after these frightful murders by this drug soaked madman, I asked "how did he get the gun?" Now we know. The FBI screwed up the national instant background check mandated in law and FBI Director Comey was man enough to admit it. As Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said today this breach does not suggest further tightening of gun purchase laws. It suggests that the people in the background check system should do their jobs better. pl
Adam L. Silverman
Earlier COL Lang referenced Bernard Fall's COIN equation. Fall was very prolific - writing both books and articles, as well as lecturing right up until the time of his death while on patrol with the marines in Vietnam on the Street Without Joy. In his "Theory of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency", originally presented as a lecture and then transcribed and published in Naval War College Review, Fall posited his equation for Revolutionary Warfare and presents in the narrative the basis for the equation that Col Lang referenced and which he would present in equation form elsewhere. For everyone's convenience, I'm attaching the pdf of the article below the post. Its not long, but its well worth taking the time to read it. One of the most prescient portions is just before Fall's conclusion:
Civic action is not the construction of privies or the distribution of antimalaria sprays. One can't fight an ideology; one can't fight a militant doctrine with better privies. Yet this is done constantly. One side says, "land reform," and the other side says, "better culverts." One side says, "We are going to kill all those nasty village chiefs and landlords." The other side says, "Yes, but look, we want to give you prize pigs to improve your strain." These arguments just do not match. Simple but adequate appeals will have to be found sooner or later.
It was Col Lang who advised me to read Dr. Fall's works as part of my preparation for the work I do for the military. In reality he told everyone in that classroom back in December 2007 to do so and it was excellent advice. Sadly I have found too few have read Fall and to many overly rely on more modern/recent scholars and practitioners of COIN. In many ways I find that Fall is like Sun Tzu. If you read him carefully and take his lessons to heart, you will never try to conduct counterinsurgency.** Just as the careful reader of Sun Tzu learns that the only real Taoist way of war is to never fight one.
I recently had reason, about two weeks ago, to go back and reread Fall's article and among the things that stuck out at me was the block quote I pulled out above. In that one quote Fall encapsulates the key point that too many seem to miss when they try to develop a strategy to defeat revolutionary movements - the tactical solutions that seem to work and are easily counted cannot and will not get you to victory.* Another key point that jumped out at me two weeks ago is Fall's remarks about the spreading oil slick, now called the spreading ink spot, concept. I've read and reread this piece at least ten times in the past eight years, but its always jarring to see Fall explain that this could only work in the Sahara as the center of the slick was to be the oases. If you could clear and hold the water supply, and then connect your points of control from oasis to oasis, eventually everyone would have to come to you or die of thirst. There were no oases in Vietnam. There are no oases in Anbar Province...
* I think it was three or four months ago that Tyler was deriding the idea of the need to create jobs in Iraq and Syria to remove an economic driver of support for DAESH. From a strategic perspective Tyler was spot on - tactical level economic development is not going to solve/resolve this conflict. And while we would probably see some success if the economies in Syria and Iraq improved, the lack of jobs and opportunity is a symptom, not the actual problem. And as Fall indicates that problem can't be fixed by building roads or sewer systems or toilets, etc.
** This, as he has made clear many times here at SST, and Col Lang's very informed view of COIN as well.
I am in Venice and the Biennale art exhibitions are in full swing. I love the works of Henri Rousseau and there is an exhibition of his work in the Doges Palace, among them this masterpiece "War". Rousseau was a painter of the "naive" school, defined thus in Wikipedia: "Naïve art is a classification of art that is often characterized by a childlike simplicity in its subject matter and technique"..... "The characteristics of naïve art are an awkward relationship to the formal qualities of painting, especially non-respect of the three rules of the perspective (such as defined by the Progressive Painters of the Renaissance): decrease of the size of objects proportionally with distance, muting of colors with distance, decrease of the precision of details with distance, The results are: effects of perspective geometrically erroneous (awkward aspect of the works, children's drawings look, or medieval painting look, but the comparison stops there) strong use of pattern, unrefined color on all the plans of the composition, without enfeeblement in the background, an equal accuracy brought to details, including those of the background which should be shaded off. Simplicity rather than subtlety are all supposed markers of naïve art. It has, however, become such a popular and recognizable style that many examples could be called pseudo-naïve." ------------------------ One has to wonder if the same description - childlike simplicity, might attach to American foreign policy in Ukraine and the Middle East? Does the subject look like Nuland? Samantha Power?
"China's government has pulled out all the stops to support share prices. The People's Bank of China has cut interest rates to a record low, brokerages have committed to buy billions worth of stocks, and regulators have announced a de facto suspension of new share listings.Dong Tao, chief economist for Asia excluding Japan at investment house Credit Suisse, said Beijing fears that the stock rout could undermine consumption, as people nursing losses are unlikely to go to the mall and spend."That creates all kinds of risks for the economy and for the financial system and this is why Beijing is worried," he said.Investors clearly aren't convinced by government efforts. China's stock market has been on a roller-coaster ride, sometimes opening with a jump of as much as 7%, before ending the day down by that much." CNN
Is this bigger than the Greek problem? pl
" President Obama acknowledged setbacks in U.S. efforts to fight “nimble” and “opportunistic” Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria, but reaffirmed his ongoing strategy of battling the terrorist organization yesterday after a rare meeting with top military brass at the Pentagon.
“As with any military effort, there will be periods of progress, but there are also going to be some setbacks,” Obama said. “But today, it’s also important for us to recognize the progress that’s been made.”
Critics say the ongoing campaign, in which the United States provides airstrikes and military advisors while relying largely on regional forces on the ground to hold Islamic State fighters at bay, is unsustainable." Boston Herald
Critics of the BHO Administration often say that Obama has no real strategy for dealing with IS, AQ and all the other phenomena of 21st Century jihadism. They are not correct. Obama has a strategy. He described it once again in a visit to the Department of Defense at the Pentagon.
The underlying principle in his "plan" is his belief in the inability of the US to impose its will on foreign jihadis by sheer force. This belief is expressed well in statements such as "there is no military solution," "Ruritanians must win the fight for themselves (with our help), and "the government must reach out to ------- (some flea bitten minority). Well, pilgrims, that is "nation building" by whatever euphemistic name you prefer.
"Nation building' is now a dirty word in US power circles because it is understood to connote "Counterinsurgency" (i.e. "nation building). This is a doctrine created by the former colonial powers after WW2 in which the metropole sought to devise a method with which revolutionary independence movements could be defeated. In the end the method as described by Bernard Fall involved: "Political Action + Economic Development + Counterguerrilla operations." The belief was that these ingredients would produce friendly countries or still colonized but malleable territories and populations.
It never really worked if the opponents were serious people. The record of failure of the COIN idea is impressive. There are very few real successes recorded in history. The Philippines under Magsaysay, the defeat of the Tupamaro guerrillas in Uruguay, British success against EOKA in Cyprus, there are only a few such examples. All of them involve providentially good, local, authentic leadership.
The USA has repeatedly tried to apply this philosophy of war (basically more development than fighting). It has never worked for us. In the end the effort costs too much, is too cruel in an extended and public way and requires more patience than is native to the American soul. Vietnam (the American public gave up), Afghanistan (the flea bitten hostiles still run the countryside), Iraq (the sectarian and ethnic flea bitten still hate each other), Syria (we insist that this time we will succeed in re-organizing the country).
Obama's strategy against the jihadi menace (and it is a menace) is to "help," to "assist," to "supply," to provide air support, to "train," to "guide" governments. This is COIN, folks. This is "nation building." Obama and the generals and what's his name? Ah! Carter! promise that a few hundred billion dollars more and another generation of US soldiers "advising" will yield something in these far flung places that will seem to us to be familiar and not threatening. What a crock! Does Obama really believe this nonsense served up by his slicky boy preppy staffs?
The ugly truths are that the wars in the MENA area are not the product of misunderstanding and money corruption in government. In fact, they are the current manifestation of ancient and potent group rivalries, rivalries in which killing and dying are quite ordinary things and in which with few exceptions most people are quite willing to "screw" their group enemies to the wall.
The genteel fantasy of COIN inspired reconciliations is just that, a fantasy that has nothing to do with the savagery of real life in MENA. In the case of IS as it spreads and metastasizes across the land, the fantasy has no chance whatever of defeating a real army, led by men whom we spurned and threw out into the street to starve.
So, what the hell do we think we are doing? You tell me! pl
Adam L. Silverman
As we wait to see the outcome of today's referendum in Greece in regards to how its government should proceed in debt negotiations and responses with the EU, I wanted to point to two of the best pieces I've read on how things got to this point. The first is David Attewell's Putting the Greek Referendum in Context. Attewell clearly and concisely goes through how things have gotten to this point. The second piece is a much longer piece by Steve Randy Waldman at Interfluidity (h/t John Cole at Balloon Juice). Waldman takes a much deeper dive into how things got this way, as well as engaging in the important discussion about whether economics, especially macroeconomics, is supposed to be about efficiently and effectively allocating resources or about morality.
In many ways the instability of a loose federation or confederation within a monetary union framework, which is what the EU really is despite its bureaucratic nature, is clearly showing here. Each member state is supposed to be fully sovereign, yet no member state that is on the Euro controls its own monetary supply. And the supposedly independent European Central Bank has made it clear it will withhold liquidity/cash at the bidding of its economically most powerful members and the financial sector. This would be the equivalent of, during an economic downturn in the US, the US Federal Reserve refusing to make dollars available to the states that make up the US. Imagine if that had happened, even selectively, to force structural budgetary and economic changes at the state and local level during the Great Recession of 2008? That would have been a crisis of both federalism and the Constitution! What the EU member states are now learning, if they're paying attention, is that they are not actually sovereign. They don't control their own money supply, the ECB is not impartial, and it does the bidding of both the most powerful of the European economies and of the European financial sector. The takeaway here is that the EU states on the Euro are not fully sovereign, do not control their own economic, let alone political, systems, and are to do the bidding of those who have the monetary control.
"A century and a half ago this weekend, hundreds of thousands of white Americans in the lowland South did something unprecedented in their lifetimes: They declined to commemorate the Fourth of July. On July 4, 1865, newly freed African-Americans and an occupying army were celebrating the Fourth as a triumph of Revolutionary principles beneath the federal flag and portraits of the martyred Abraham Lincoln. “The white people,” a Columbia, South Carolina, diarist reported, “shut themselves indoors.”
Now, on the eve of another July 4 one hundred fifty years later, we find that these issues haven’t quite gone away. Following the horrific slaughter in a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, last month, as Gov. Nikki Haley was calling for removal of the Confederate flag from the State Capitol grounds, the Ku Klux Klan—still around after all these years—planned to hold a pro-Confederate rally on July 18. In Virginia, the Sons of Confederate Veterans pledged to oppose Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe's order to remove the flag from state-issued license plates, and a new CNN poll shows the nation is still remarkably split on the very meaning of the Confederate flag: Fully 57 percent of Americans see the flag more as a symbol of Southern pride than as a symbol of racism; opinions on the flag are sharply divided by race, level of education and region.
Welcome to the Disunited States of America. Nominally we are still a single nation, and average Americans still feel a surge of patriotism as they raise their eyes skyward to watch the rockets’ red glare at July 4th parties across the country. And of course the idea of a nation of very different kinds of people united only by a common passion for freedom and democracy—E Pluribus Unum—has always been a part of our self-identity. Yet in recent weeks a number of social and political issues—the Charleston slaughter, made more horrific by a vicious online manifesto in which the alleged killer declared he hates the American flag; history-changing Supreme Court decisions on Obamacare and gay marriage that elicited bitter exchanges even among the justices themselves; and heated arguments over marijuana legalization—have highlighted how much remains unresolved in our national conversation. Politico
"At the conclusion of NATO’s defense ministers meeting in Brussels last week, Breedlove lauded the decision to help him more quickly mobilize forces while acknowledging there was more work to do at the political level.
“In order to have a very high readiness force, you need to have a very high readiness decision-making system,” he told reporters. “And 28 nations have empowered the military commanders to do the things they do and now they will work on their decision speed to match.”
While NATO continues to work on its internal process for making rapid bureaucratic decisions, there are a range of complicated matters that could challenge NATO should Breedlove ever decide he needs to call on the 5,000-member spearhead force. The quick deployment of a relatively small response unit would amount to more of a show of force in a crisis than a commitment to any formal intervention, but any such move would still be politically charged." military.com
Breedlove looks more and more like General Buck Turgidson in the film Dr. Strangelove. He wants the fuse to be cut shorter and shorter on actual deployment of forces in a "crisis?"
The shorter the fuse is cut, the greater the likelihood of someone lighting that fuse with rapid escalation on both sides. pl
"The federal designation allows the Pamunkey Indian Tribe to receive certain federal benefits on medical care, housing and education, among other things. That tribe is only the second recognized since President Barack Obama took office, joining hundreds of others nationwide that have received that distinction.
The recognition also leaves open the possibility of the tribe seeking a casino through a separate approval process, though the 200-member tribe has said it has no plans to do so.
“We’re looking at all economic opportunities, but we have nothing on the table right now,” said Bob Gray, the Pamunkey’s assistant chief.
Still, the tribe’s application was opposed by MGM Resorts, which is building a casino at the National Harbor outside the nation’s capital in Maryland.
The Pamunkey’s 1,200-acre reservation is about 25 miles east of Richmond on the Pamunkey River in rural King William County. A California-based group that has supported gambling limits in that state also opposed the application. In the United States, there are 493 Indian casinos and 1,262 commercial casinos. The recognition was also opposed by the Virginia Petroleum and Grocery Association, which expressed concerns about the tribe selling gas and cigarettes tax free to non-tribal members." Washpost
There are half a dozen Indian tribes in Virginia. Their reservations are small but very old in the context of the Commonwealth. I suspect that they are about to make a lot of money in the gaming industry. the Pequots in Connecticut own the largest casino/resort complex in the eastern USA.
In one of the more colorful ceremonies available for tourist consumption the tribes bring the governor of Virginia a tribute in deer meat each year.
For people who are really of the Virginia establishment there is no prouder claim than to be descended from Pocahontas and John Rolfe.
So much news, so little time to work on this. I confess to having been distracted most of the day by telephone and internet time trying, finally successfully I think, to resolve a minor issue with the VA over allotment payments for my VGLI premiums. I got older and the premiums went up and I needed to make a small change. The only efficient US government people on the phone are the Social Security folks. I cannot say enough good about them.
US Military Strategy - Maybe Dempsey is trying to soft-pedal this but the references to Russia as an adversary are disturbing. How far forward are we going to lean against Russia in the context of new hand-picked senior people in the JCS who have probably been asked by the WH and Carter if they will accept the R2P view of the world? That is obviously Obama's view as well. If it were not, Obama would have gotten rid of the Harpies (male and female) by now. For god's sake, people look at how the first World War started.
Cordesman - He seems to want us to move from military alliances to civil-military alliances in which the US would "coordinate" everyone's actions. If this is the case, then Cordesman and his crew have become imperialists in the true sense of the word.
Boko Haram - The Borg has been pushing the line that the Nigerian army under new management has been eliminating the scourge. This most recent attack would indicate that BK has re-positioned itself and is still a big problem as are newly minted IS franchises in Afghanistan, and the Caucasus. This problem is growing, not shrinking. IMO it will be necessary to defeat the Caliphate on its home ground in Syria and Iraq, defeat it militarily and discredit it in the minds of Muslims or possible future Muslims who dream of a much greater 'Umma.
Syria SW Front - ISW reports with some detail on the "progress" the rebels are making with Israeli, Jordanian and US support. ISW seems to want to see this coalition of the unicorn/Nusra forces take Damascus or so weaken the Syrian government that it will fall as part of the general onslaught of Islamist forces from other quarters. ISW seems to think that would be a good thing. Why that would be escapes me. (irony)
Shark Alert - North Carolina is studying the shark menace. There have been several attacks on their coast that are reminiscent of the "Jaws" films. My suggestion for dealing with this threat to our civil right to wade in the water would be to stay out of the water.
Every summer the rise of temperatures rings in Cocktail season, and I stock up on suitable quality spirits for my bar. I have a preferred online vendor, which has a good selection and good prices, for some of my spirits.
Alas, this year I experienced an unexpected obstacle: My Germany based vendor's Pay Pal didn't work, because of a bug, and when I asked what was up. I was told, in several calls, a story that I initially got totally wrong. What had happened was this:
In 2011 or so my vendor, and many other German online traders, received an E-Mail, in English, that demanded they drop all their Cuban products, or else lose their PayPal services. It was outright blackmail. Those who didn't, had their Payl Pal accounts frozen. What triggered this was apparently US government pressure on Pay Pal to enforce Helms Burton in Germany, on Germans.
As it went, my vendor then obtained an injunction and Pay Pal settled out of court, agreeing that Pay Pal lifts the freeze of the vendor's account while the vendor sells products from Cuba by other ways (bypassing US entities).
Normally, about US sanctions on Cuba I couldn't care less about. If you fools choose to deprive yourself of quality Cuban rum and cigars, just because you can't get over the Bay of Pigs, or the continued existence of Communism in your neighbourhood - it's your loss, not mine, and if you insist on silly ideas like having Helms-Burton, your hassle, not mine. Or so I thought, and with some reason.
By Patrick Bahzad
Let's cut the chase and get straight to the point. This is what is established as of now, 5.30 pm CET.
What happened ?
- At approximately 10 a.m. this morning, a van entered an chemical production site in the suburbs of Lyons, in south-eastern France. Contrary to what was said in previous reports, the van didn't crash the security gate, but had proper clearance to enter the premises, a facility registered on the so-called "Seveso List" (a list of sites producing hazardous dioxin-like compounds).
- Having entered the site, the driver crashed his van into a gas tank, probably expecting this to cause an explosion likely to damage the chemical production-line itself.
- Although the crash caused an explosion, only two people were injured. The driver of the van then tried to ignite an oxygen tank but was knocked-out by a fireman who had rushed to the scene. He was immediately turned over to French Gendarmerie and taken into custody.
- Shortly after the police had secured the perimeter, a severed head was found in the immediate vicinity of the attack (the body was found in a nearby bush), together with a black Islamic banner and another flag with inscriptions in Arabic. Both pieces of evidence are currently being analysed and translated.
What can we say about the driver/attacker ?
- French officials confirmed that the driver of the van is 35 year-old Yassin Salhi, a French citizen of North-African origin. He grew up in the East of France and lost his father while still a teenager, a recurring profile among a number of French Jihadis.
- Yassin Salhi was known to French counter-terrorism police, but was never arrested or sentenced in relation with a terrorist enterprise.
- However, he had been under surveillance between 2006 and 2008. This surveillance was ended, given that it hadn't come up with any evidence suggesting Salhi might be involved in terrorist activities.
Outsourcing is the rage these days and the US businesses, chasing cheaper labour in perpetual pursuit of efficiency/savings/greater profits, are at the head of the field. US government agencies have followed suit, trying to make do with the limited budgets they have, and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is no exception.
The OPM is a somewhat obscure US federal agency which, among other things, conducts 90+% of background checks for personnel applying for sensitive jobs in the military and security agencies. Just as with large corporations, the cost and staff requirements of maintaining their IT infrastructure led them to seek savings by hiring outside talent for the job. What OPM did was't any different than what many US corporations do.
As it goes, outsourcing functions one can easily end up outsourcing the related know-how and the judgement acquired by experience (all the stuff you can't put into an SLA). Which savings just were not worth it usually becomes apparent only in hindsight. Given that there are things that are irreversible, lack of foresight results in a self-inflicted wound.
Obviously, with outsourcing knowledge retention becomes a real problem. Staff tends to run away when they see the writing on the wall and the best leave quickly in pursuit of more rewarding employment and to escape the terminal boredom administering to Whatnot in Mumbai or worse, having to train their replacement before being given the boot. That is to say, those who remain are usually not the creme de la creme.
I'm guessing, but perhaps that was why the OPM hired the wrong people. That they did so is clear. I wonder whether the OPM will heed the sage advice Dr. Watson dispensed to the hapless pawn shop owner in the Jermey Brett adaptation of the The Red-Headed League: "Next time you engage an assistant, pay him the proper wage!" ... but I digress.
As it went, OPM came to hire apparently chinese hackers - and gave them root access. This would have been bad for a company, but became something else entirely when it came to government data. Here, the hackers were able to steal the senstitive personnel records of federal employees working in military and security agencies. Businessinsider reports (links below):
"Specifically, the hackers reportedly acquired SF86 forms, which detail sensitive background information."Security-wise, this may be the worst breach of personally identifying information ever," Michael Borohovski, CEO of Tinfoil Security, told Business Insider on Friday.
"[The] OPM is responsible for administering the SF 86, which is one of the most extensive national security questionnaires that exists."
"Federal employees and contractors who want government-security clearance have to disclose virtually every aspect of their lives via an SF 86 questionnaire, which is then stored on OPM's largely unencrypted database. ..."
"In fact, the breach was unprecedented in its breadth and scope: "Security-wise, this may be the worst breach of personally identifying information ever," Michael Borohovski, CEO of Tinfoil Security, told Business Insider on Friday."
The time the hackers had to sift through all that data likewise was unprecedented:
"The average time Chinese hackers have access to a compromised system is 356 days and the longest recorded was 4 years and 10 months"
This has a potential to severely compromise US personnel and more, and here I hand over to TTG who is better able to explain what it means:
"When I heard of this data breach, my first thought was that here was another reason to watch my credit card and bank accounts very closely. What more could I lose after the news of the Anthem Blue Cross data breach discovered back in February. Then when the loss of the security files of up to 14 million Federal employees, retirees and contractors was announced, I knew this was a lot worse than the temporary loss of a credit card or two.
I have seen opinions that the information lost in this data breach poses a danger to U.S. personnel operating overseas in sensitive and covered positions. Fortunately, most people operating in those kinds of positions do not have records stored at OPM. I didn’t have contact with OPM until I retired from DIA. However, a lot of people who work with those in sensitive positions do go through the OPM for their security clearances. That includes a slew of support personnel and contractors. Those working under cover could be discovered through their associations with those support personnel and contractors.
The loss of the information contained in the SF86s and background investigations of these people is a treasure trove to China or whoever has this information. Filling out an SF86 is a laborious and time consuming task for anyone. It can take weeks to gather the detailed information requested in the form. The information in the OPM’s database of SF86s represents decades of man-years of detective work.
With that information and a halfway decent data mining tool, one can easily construct an accurate and detailed model of the vast national security structure of the USG. This model would include all the myriad government and contractor offices, the leadership structure along with detailed contact information, what they think of each other, and everyone’s dirty laundry. This model would also show how this national security structure evolved over time, at least since 9/11. With additional inputs, this model may even be predictive. This is indeed a serious data breech."
The US definition of terrorism in the criminal code is found in 18 U.S. Code § 2331. 18 USC § 2331 states:
Dylan Roof, 21, of Lexington SC, evidently a high school drop-out, has confessed to the murders of nine people who had welcomed him into their midst and into a Bible study group in their church's basement in Charleston, SC. Roof sat with them for an hour and then produced a pistol, a Glock Model 21, .45 ACP semi-automatic with which he shot to death six women and three men, sparing one after telling her that she would live to recount what he had done.
There are various questions raised in the media concerning mental health, Southern culture, gun sales, etc. Roof was from a little town 1oo miles away. He traveled to Charleston to do this.
- This weapon costs at least $500. Who paid for that? He was evidently unemployed and not living in his parents home.
- One account of how he got the gun describes the acquisition as a birthday gift from his father. This young man had nothing about him to recommend to a parent the gift of a large caliber pistol. If that is what happened then a case is strengthened for required federal and state background checks for private transfer of firearms including between family members.
- According to a second version of the acquisition, Roof bought the pistol himself with birthday gift money. In this version of the story he bought the pistol from a gun dealer in Charleston. In that case the dealer would have had a Federal Firearms License and a federal background check would have been required. Roof does not seem to have had a record of treated mental health problems. He had been convicted of a trespass misdemeanor and was awaiting trial for felony possession of illegal drugs. The federal firearms transfer check should have picked up the pending felony trial and blocked the sale. I don't know what SC law is on this. In Virginia the transfer would have been illegal and picked up in the additional state check. If Roof's purchase of this pistol was not blocked by the background check then the efficacy of such checks is questionable.
Possession of a firearm is an individual constitutional right in the US. The federal courts including SCOTUS have repeatedly supported that right although allowing "reasonable" restrictions on the right. These restrictions include background checks, but are background checks really effective blocks to possession of firearms by criminals or the mentally ill?
If the answer is "no," then some solution must be found for the obvious problem we have in the use of firearms for crimes like the one in Charleston.
Politicians will, of course, demagogue the issue and the media will chatter stupidly but Obama is right in saying we must find some solution to this problem.
I am a Lifetime member of the NRA. I own a lot of guns and intend to keep them and keep shooting them, but this problem should be dealt with. pl
(The Death of Mathieu de Clermont, Grand Master of the Hospitallers on the walls of Acre -1291. For those who do not know, Acre was the last Christian city in the Levant to fall to the Muslims, in this case Mamelukes from Egypt))
"... the people of the region must change their political culture to succeed. Long-term success must come from the people, he added, because much of the appeal of extremist groups would evaporate if government is seen as representing all aspects of a country fairly.
Given this, the general said, “the role the United States military is taking against a transregional threat of ISIL represents, in my judgment, an appropriate level of effort.” defense.gov
Well, Martin, the people of the region are changing their political culture. They are reverting to the medieval pattern of faith and strongmen as the arbiters of history. They are shaking off the bonds imposed by ecumenical empires (Ottoman, European, etc) of various kinds and reverting to what lies close to their hearts. We don't like it? What is the alternative?
I listened to this testimony today. It was before the HASC and this Pentagon blurb does not capture the true import.
Dempsey went on about the nine aspects of THE POLICY, or was it nineteen or maybe twenty-nine? This is frightening because it betrays the existence of a policy deliberation in which logic and knowledge were tortured to death in the interest of interagency consensus. Whenever that happens the result is something like a giraffe. That would be a donkey designed by a large committee.
Mr. Carter expressed grave doubts about the outcome in Iraq. This opinion must be the result of the counsel he is receiving from: Pollack, Kagan and O'Hanlon. (His ME advisers) He took note of the fact that few trainees of any kind are showing up for training in the US training bases. He thinks that is a bad sign.
When pressed Dempsey said that if the Iraq government collapses we (the US Armed Forces) will fight on from our "network" of Hedgehogs assisting whoever wants help and without regard to the wishes of "the government."
I guess he never heard of besieged fortresses, dababat (SVBIEDs or battering rams), or Dien Bien Phu. Ah, I forgot. That was the French... That would never happen to us. pl
If you missed this episode of Larry Wilmore's "Nightly Show" I recommend you watch it all the way through. Here we have a group of Black comedians discussing the phenomenon of the "Trans-Racialled" White woman who until last week portrayed herself as Black and who was the head of the Spokane, Washington branch of the NAACP as a Black woman. Among the interesting things about her now known are the lawsuit she brought against Howard University as a graduate student for discriminating against her as a White woman and the hate mail she sent herself in Spokane.
This morning on Fox News a psychiatrist tried to tell the morning news crew that it is a bad thing for people to tell themselves that they are what they feel themselves to be. Given the current mania in the US for self-determination in identity that idea clearly frightened the news people and they did their best to shut him up. pl
A reminder: We solved nothing in Iraq. We broke the fragile British construct that was the Kingdom of Iraq. We own it but cannot fix it. What will result ultimately will be; a Shia Iraq from Baghdad south to the Gulf, a Kurdish place in the mountains, and IS stretching across Syria and Iraq. Are SA, Lebanon and Jordan not next on the Islamist agenda.
Former RAF Habbaniya was the center of the balance of British presence in Iraq. Look at the pictures of chapels, cemeteries, and swimming pools for the British troops. Do the pictures not give you a frisson of deja vue? If not, you are dull.
Habbaniya is the place we will defend and try to make Sunni tribesmen and Shia cowards into fighters? The omens for this are not good.
Wherever it is that we will try to do this, we should fortify and defend this place heavily. otherwise, the IS will see it as a place to bring us to battle, either there or along the logistic trail to the east. pl
"Ukraine had an NGO driven bloodless coup (kind of). This coup was clearly the doing of the U.S. ... The CIA appears to have a record of incredible incompetence"
That is not so, not quite, and that deserves some elaboration.
Of course, Bush 43 authorised the CIA do do destabilisation missions in Iran to achieve regime change, so take that with a grain of salt. But today, regime change is largely run out of the State Department. In the 70s, the CIA's history of coups and regime change caught up with it and was met with a public backlash that culminated in the climatic Church comittee hearings.
The politicians who wanted to keep doing these things irrespective of that moved the programs out of sight, and shipped staff and shop over to other organisations and found new sources of funding.
Lest these programs be again interrupted through pesky "oversight" by elected representatives, the new venue needed to be outside the bodies of the executive branch. The solution was government funded NGOs in the mold of Germany's Parteinahe Stiftungen.
Today, to the extent they concern 'soft power', such activities are run by the State Department through surrogates - semi official (USAID, NED, NDI, IRI, CIPE and ACILS), contractors and public relations firms or (congenially) entirely private (Soros' Open Society Foundation) and professional activists (OTPOR veterans). This is being supported by sympathetic journalists (providing friendly coverage or joining the fight) and pundits, lobbies (especially the transatlantic ones - Marshal Fund, Atlantic Society etc.) and think tanks (think Freedom House etc).
The semi-independent 'NGO' character of USAID, NED, NDI, IRI, CIPE and ACILS guarantees continuity in the democratising mission even with changes in government. The diverse ideological thrust of each organisation also addresses different different segments in the society of "to be developed" countries. It also provides plausible deniability. Also, these programs may be run by genuine idealists, who are not serving the US government, let alone the CIA, and will not think of themselves that way.
A lot of US support to Poland's Solidarity movement during the Cold war went trough the AFL-CIO linked ACILS, who apparently were far better connected than the CIA.
In a nutshell, these bodies run their various programs autonomosly in a decentralised fashion. In the absence of intervention, they do so on auto-pilot in accordance with the bipartisan consensus (on regime change in Russia, Cuba, Venezuela etc pp), much like on tram lines - and they may not get every memo.
A perfect example for that is the recent case of USAID vs. Cuba in which USAID sponsored a free twitter-ish program to organise resistance to overthrow the Castros - while the US administration at the same time pursued normalisation with Castro's Cuba.
Baghdad has not identified or sent any new recruits to the Al Asad air base in western Iraq for as many as four to six weeks, defense officials said Monday.
The U.S. is currently training 2,601 Iraqi forces, but none of them are at Al Asad, officials said.
"Al Asad has zero. And Al Asad has had zero now for some time," said one defense official on background." Christina Wong
Is Obama deliberately misleading us all? The US military has faults but lying to the Commander in Chief is not among them. We can be sure that Dempsey et al have informed POTUS of this distressing truth. And yet, he and his mouthpieces, like Twinkle Toes Kirby at State continue to repeat their talking points concerning the aspirational truth.
Obama gave a splendid speech today defending the ACA. This was aimed directly at the largely Catholic mind of SCOTUS and based on Catholic Church social teaching concerning the duty to care for the sick, poor and infirm. It was lovely, but while he does that the ME burns.
The Shia Iraqi government still does not wish to arm potentially dissident Sunni Arab tribes? what a surprise! The potentially dissident Sunni Arab tribes do not want to serve under the Shia enemies of their blood? Another big surprise! Hell! The Shia government is still rationing military assistance to the largely Sunni Kurds with a medicine dropper!
The US has 300 USMC trainers at Asad Air base in western Anbar. They are surrounded. Why are they still there? Their blood is potentially on Obama's hands. pl
On or around the weekend of 16 May, 2015, Eric G. Wintemute, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at American Vanguard Corporation, met with senior policymakers in Washington. The meeting was attended by Lieutenant General John F. Mulholland, the Associate Director of Military Affairs at the CIA since January of this year. In the words of other guests who were present at the meeting, Mulholland told Wintemute that everything should be done to draw Russia in the war with Ukraine.
This bit of news has been making the rounds on blogs and twitter accounts reporting on the war in Ukraine. As far as I can tell, it originated on the Moscow blog, pravosudiya.net, run by an amateur named Tatiana Volkova. She describes herself as a choreographer, a web designer, a truck driver and a lawyer. How very Russian. She appears to have obtained this news about Mulholland from a close and reliable friend rather than from some other news source. I have no reason to doubt “gospozha” Volkova, but I would appreciate corroboration of Mulholland’s comment from some other source.
Why am I so worked up over this comment? Mulholland is not some fake product of a neocon think tank. He previously served as deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command and commander of US Army Special Operations Command. He also commanded special operations task forces during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and 5th Special Forces Group. He should know better. Why would he say such a thing if it was not Administration policy… a policy conjured up by the likes of Nuland and other neocon warmongers? As Colonel Lang said, “Those challenged in self-esteem may seek to prove themselves by goading The Bear but [we] learned not to do such stupid things.”
How far are we in successfully goading Russia into overtly invading Ukraine? To date, we all owe Putin a debt of gratitude for not taking the bait. Last week it appeared full scale war would break out again in western Ukraine. Best I can gather, the Donetsk rebels got sick and tired of the increasing Ukrainian indiscriminate shelling of Donetsk. This shelling has caused more and more civilian casualties. A strike on a market injuring 60 was the last straw. The rebels struck out at Maryinka and several villages west of there in an artillery search and destroy raid with around 800 troops and up to 40 tanks and IFVs with artillery support. They claim 400 Ukies killed and 60 vehicles destroyed including several artillery batteries. Rebel losses were not inconsequential. Both sides have built up their defensive lines since the Minsk-2 ceasefire began so offensive actions will be more costly for both sides in the future. I doubt this is the beginning of renewed all out war. Just more of the phoney ceasefire.
What is more disconcerting is recent events in Transnistria, an unrecognized state that broke away from Moldova in 1992. Both Moldova and Ukraine have, in effect, established a blockade of this landlocked state far larger than Luxembourg. Poroshenko has pledged to assist Moldova in regaining its territorial integrity. Russia has about 1,350 troops with heavy weapons stationed in Transnistria. Russia has pledged to stand by Transnistria and must find a way to keep its troops and the country supplied. Complicating the situation, Kiev has installed that impetuous hothead Saakasvili as governor of Odessa, stationed an S-300 battery near the border and is building up its troops on that border. NATO ships are building up in the Black Sea including the USS Ross, an Arleigh Burke-class Aegis equipped guided-missile destroyer. Will Russia be forced to resupply Transnistria by air over the Black Sea (and the USS Ross) and Ukrainian territory or will Putin convince Moldova to relent? Will the U.S. and NATO force Moldova to maintain a blockade? Is this what Mulholland meant when he said everything should be done to draw Russia in the war with Ukraine? What could go wrong? Everything.
TTG and I have decided to divide up the task of writing of the dangers present in the possibility of escalation in the Syria/Mediterranean area and/or in the NATO/Russian confrontation over Ukraine and the ultimate borders of Russia.
Syria and the Mediterranean - To my surprise I find that many people do not understand that military escalation is not a coldly rational process of war gaming action/reaction in a Hegelian way. The "Wizards of Armageddon" of fifty years ago may have imagined that this was the case but few of them had ever fought anyone nor had they borne the weight of seeking to exercise or advise restraint when group think, imagined proofs of masculinity and fantasies of national destiny were in the air. To some extent the Marxist notion of war as a conspiracy to seize and exploit resources plays into the idea that an escalatory process can be halted whenever the game looks unprofitable. All of history provides evidence that this is not the case. An example would be the deliberations of the Japanese war council before Pearl Harbor. In those discussions the emperor's advisors believed that US determination to stop their drive to power in Asia required them to go to war. It was understood by the members of the council that the US was potentially much the stronger power but in the end the council told Hirohito that if Japan did not fight the US they (the Japanese) would not be the men their ancestors had been.
It may be that the danger of an escalatory incident leading to war may be greater in eastern Europe but my personal focus is on the Levant and Mediterranean. In that area I deeply fear an incident at sea or in the air against Russian forces that could lead us to mutual destruction.
Those challenged in self-esteem may seek to prove themselves by goading The Bear but I learned not to do such stupid things. pl