"Republican A. Benton Chafin Jr. won a state Senate seat Tuesday that secured GOP control of the General Assembly, dimming Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s legislative prospects and erasing the last vestige of blue from Southwest Virginia.
Chafin, a freshman state delegate, easily defeated Democrat Mike Hymes to fill the Senate seat that Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell) abruptly resigned in June. The nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) called the race shortly before 8 p.m." Washpost
This senatorial district has not elected a Republican since before WW2. pl
- It seems that most of the people interviewed on TV do not understand that homicide is not a federal crime. With certain exceptions a homicide is entirely within the jurisdiction of the state in which it is committed. None of the exceptions are applicable in this case. Therefore the federal government has no jurisdiction in the homicide involved and there is no apparent way that the federal government can seize control of the legal process concerning homicide. A state grand jury begins to hear evidence today. In the US a grand jury does not decide guilt or innocence. It decides if there exists "probable cause" to believe that a crime was committed and if it so believes it indicts the probable culprit and remands him/her for trial on a specific charge. If the accused is not a flight risk nor dangerous, bail is set and the accused is released until trial. Because the grand jury does not "try" the case, hearsay evidence is admissable and in this case Wilson will be invited to testify. This grand jury is said to be "diverse" and a Black assistant prosecutor will present the case. I have served on two Virginia grand juries and IMO the system functions well.
- Failing that the federal government can prosecute Wilson for depriving Brown of his constitutional rights by killing him without sufficient justifcation BECAUSE he was Black. This would be under the Civil rights Act of 1968. To do that they, will have to convince a grand jury (in this case a local federal grand jury) and then get a conviction in federal court in St. Louis. That might be difficult. Federal law requires trial on a federal charge by a federal court in the state in which the deed was done and as close as possible to the scene.
- The federal government (DoJ) can also launch a proceeding against the entire Ferguson city government including the police department for a "pattern" of behavior prejudicial to the constitutional rights of African Americans. With that method they can seek a judgment from a federal judge that places a reorganization of the of the city government under federal control.
- The Obama Administration faces a difficult congressional election in November. Aggressive intrusion into this local matter involving race is a risky thing for them to do.
- Based on last night, the level of violence seems to be declining in the town. If this continues that will make use of the "Insurrection Act" more difficult for the Obama Administration.
- AG Holder has publicly declared that "the DoJ stands with the people of this community." We probably know which community he is talking about and it is unlikely to be Missouri as a whole.
- It is disappointing that the TV media are clearly siding with the mob and IMO are encouraging disorder. A Black TV anchor today interviewed the Black mayor of an adjoining town and asked him what would satisfy "the people." The mayor responded "arrest, trial and conviction." The anchor responded with "excellent."
- As in the case of the mayor cited above, the Back lawyers, Black state legislators , and Black people interviewed on the steets, it seems clear that many Black people do not want "justice" in this matter. What they want is vengeance, and they are quick to say that what is implied is vengeance against all. That is sad and it echoes exactly what happened in the Zimmerman case. pl
The Western media have proved for all to see that the Western media comprises either a collection of ignorant and incompetent fools or a whorehouse that sells war for money. The Western media fell in step with Washington and blamed the downed Malaysian airliner on Russia. No evidence was provided. It its place the media used constant repetition. Washington withheld the evidence that proved that Kiev was responsible. The media’s purpose was not to tell the truth, but to demonize Russia.
Now we have the media story of the armored Russian column that allegedly crossed into Ukraine and was destroyed by Ukraine’s rag-tag forces that ISIS would eliminate in a few minutes. British reporters fabricated this story or were handed it by a CIA operative working to build a war narrative. The disreputable BBC hyped the story without investigating. The German media, including Die Welt, blared the story throughout Germany without concern at the absence of any evidence. Reuters news agency, also with no investigation, spread the story. Readers tell me that CNN has been broadcasting the fake story 24/7. Although I cannot stand to watch it, I suspect Fox “news” has also been riding this lame horse hard. Readers tell me that my former newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, which has fallen so low as to be unreadable, also spread the false story. I hope they are wrong. One hates to see the complete despoliation of one’s former habitat. (Paul Craig Roberts)
I share PC Roberts’ disgust for the behavior of Western media in their coverage of the war in Ukraine. Not only does the Western reporting show these “newspeople” to be nothing more than a pack of idiots and whores, as Roberts suggests, but the heavy handed propaganda effort makes it damned near impossible for most of us to gain an informed idea of what is actually happening in Ukraine. What is happening? I will try to sort out the true situation and establish a framework for discussing the many facets of the “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” that is the war in eastern Ukraine.
At a macro level, this is a re-ignition of the Cold War. Some just can’t pass up a chance to tweak the Bear’s nose and are oblivious to the possibly of deadly consequences. Others have long memories and precious little forgiveness. Russia can deal with all that as long as Ukraine is not a hostile outpost of NATO on their border. But I believe it is the Neocons and R2Pers most responsible for this mess. They’ve spent five billion and twenty years getting to this point and they appear willing to double down. I think they had dreams of Sevastopol becoming a NATO/US naval base. That would be tweaking the Bear’s nose just a little too hard. Beyond the whole spreading democracy vision thing, there is now the specter of a world economy arising to compete with the petrodollar based Western economy. That scares the hell out of some dangerous people… or perhaps it just presents an investment opportunity.
Much has been made of leadership changes and internal turmoil in Kiev and in Donetsk/Lugansk. I don’t think we should read too much into this. Both the junta and Novorossiya are new entities born out of violent upheavals only months ago. They are fighting a civil war and Kiev, at least, is subject to the outside pressures I noted earlier. It is too much to expect stability in the leadership circles of either side.
As in many countries, Ukraine has its share of internal tensions and differences. These differences did not guarantee the start of this civil war. What upset the societal equilibrium was the West’s investment in the worst element of Ukrainian society. Nuland and her cabal used the ultra nationalists of Pravy Sektor and Svoboda to push their own neocon agenda. The crazies got the money, the training and the weapons and took over the asylum. The Russian speaking East Ukrainians had no choice but to leave, revolt or die at the hands of the rabidly anti-Russian Banderites. Even the Ukrainians in the western oblasts are beginning to revolt against the junta's call for reserve mobilizations. And IMO Putin had no choice but to return Crimea to Russia before the crazies had a chance to ruin it.
The military situation appears to be in a state of dynamic equilibrium. The Ukrainian forces have, up to now, been able to mount battalion or more sized armored thrusts into weakly held rebel territory, but these thrusts, more often than not, got badly chewed up and surrounded. They've lost at least six brigades this way. The rebels recently captured documents where the Ukrainian military command admitted to 14,378 KIA and WIA, 158 POWs, 8,972 deserters, 31 planes, 20 helicopters, 307 tanks, 145 BMPs, 121 BMDs, 283 BTRs, 14 Grad and 11 Uragan MLRS. Rebel losses are unknown. They have much better opsec. Neither side maintains solidly held continuous front lines. This is what allowed the junta to make these armored thrusts, but it also allows the rebel saboteur-reconnaissance groups to range behind the junta lines to destroy their artillery and logistics bases. This video give a good view of a rebel unit and the nature of most of the fighting in Novorossiya. Of course this kind of fighting is interspersed with artillery and multiple rocket launcher strikes such as this. An accompanying video of the same unit at rest gives some great insights into the mindsets of the rebels.
Artillery has been critically important for both sides. A central element of junta military strategy seems to be the destruction of civilian infrastructure and the killing/terrorizing of the populace. Andrew Kramer of the NYT gave a good account of this a few days ago, which shows not all MSM reporters are idiots or whores. Artillery has taken the place of airstrikes for the junta forces. However, the rebels are also amassing an impressive artillery force and even the Ukrainian military admit the rebel's fire is accurate and effective.
I use the past tense to describe the armored thrusts of the junta forces because they appear to be losing the ability to concentrate sufficient forces to execute major attacks. They are on their third mobilization. That's a clear sign of running on empty. In order to address the growing unrest in Transcarpathia, the junta had to withdraw 1,200 troops from the front last week. They have no strategic reserve. At the same time a rebel leader announced that 1,200 rebels just returned from four months of training in Russia as reinforcements ready to fall in on a substantial amount of recently captured heavy equipment.
There are also increasing signs of mounting guerrilla operations throughout eastern Ukraine. Small things like the burning of one of Komoloisky's banks in Dnepropetrovsk and the ambush of Polish PMC vehicles and the sabotage of defense maintenance facilities in Kharkov are becoming more commonplace. Partisan groups are increasing sabotage activity around Slavyansk and Krasny Liman, areas where Strelkov withdrew from last month. The partisan activity is strong enough to incite junta artillery to begin shelling Slavyansk from Karachun Mountain once again.
So, where do the opposing forces stand today? If you look at the first map accompanying the NYT article, you would think the rebels are very close to defeat. However, that map shows the high water marks of the junta forces over the course of the four month war. A better set of maps is available here. Look at these maps over time and see the fluidity of the battlefield. Yes, the rebels are giving up ground, but they are preserving their combat forces. The junta is squandering theirs. Every time you read an article like this NYT piece, which proves PC Roberts original point, look for an article like this to balance the view.
Last week I said I sensed the junta forces are reaching a culminating point. I still believe that. I don't see them in any position to take Donetsk or Lugansk or to ever seal the border with Russia. The rebels are not collapsing, nor are they ready to march on Kiev. There is a dynamic equilibrium, but time is on Novorossiya's side.
"Missouri's governor said on Monday he would send the National Guard into the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson to restore calm after authorities forcibly dispersed a crowd protesting last week's fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen by police.
Gov. Jay Nixon signed an executive order deploying the U.S. state militia, saying demonstrators had thrown Molotov cocktails and shot at police as well as a civilian, a description of the night's events diverging widely from some eyewitness accounts." Reuters
"Whenever an insurrection occurs in any State against its government, the President may, upon the request of its legislature or of its governor call into Federal service such of the militia of the other States. This is a statutory exception to the PCA." wiki on US National Guard.
I assume that the provision in law for the employment of the National Guard to suppress "insurrection" is the basis for the employment of the Missouri Army National Guard in Ferguson. I believe that this kind of employment for restoration of public order can be federally funded without regard to the Posse Comitatus Act (PCA). This is important because the National Guard will need the power of arrest in this situation and in most federal mobilization situations the National Guard does not have the power of arrest.
Will the introduction of the National Guard calm the city of Ferguson or will it escalate the disorder there? IMO that is a question yet to be answered. National Guardsmen will make good targets for rioters. Will the NG deploy with loaded weapons? what will be their rules of engagement? pl
"German intelligence agents secretly recorded at least one telephone conversation involving U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and parties to West Asia negotiations in 2013, as well as a 2012 conversation between former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, according to a media report.
According to German magazine Der Spiegel, in addition to surveillance of U.S. targets, Germany did and continues to snoop on Turkey was.
The latest twist comes after ties between Berlin and Washington were engulfed in tension over allegations that the U.S. National Security Agency tapped the personal phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, prompting an angry response from Ms. Merkel’s office and an assurance from the Obama administration that such spying would not recur." The Hindu
You mean that the lovely Germans listen to other people's private telephones? Why would they do that? Ah! The nasty, evil Americans must have corrupted them and browbeat them into doing this bad thing!
The BND grew out of the Gehlen Group formed after WW2 which itself grew out of a section of the German Army General Staff in WW2 called Foreign Armies East (FAE). This section had responsibility for collection and analysis of information concerning Soviet forces. Foreign Armies East ran espionage agents behind Soviet lines, COLLECTED SIGNALS INTELLIGENCE (SIGINT) and analysed all that for the Wehrmacht.
At the end of the war the head of FAE, Major General Reinhard Gehlen, German Army, gathered up his records and people and succeeded in surrendering to the US Army. After some doubts the US "adopted" Gehlen and his group and started using them against the Soviets. That seems a sound decision to me.
Over time the Gehlen Group grew into the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the German federal intelligence service, Well, guess what folks? They did SIGINT in WW2 and they have pretty much always done SIGINT and always did it in close cooperation with NSA. Well, maybe not always, most certainly not when they were collecting against US diplomatic targets. In this case Der Spiegal broke cover on this activity.
Now, are we supposed to believe that Chancellor Merkel, "the most powerful woman in Europe," did not know that senior US officials were among the many, many targets collected against by the BND? We are expected to believe that she did not know that the BND collected such signals when she flamed all over the media and diplomatic world about her precious cell phone conversations?
At the same time, all you others out there in; the UK, Canada, Australia, etc. who may feel a certain moral superiority to the Germans do exactly the same thing. pl
"Expect them to learn quickly from these mistakes. Many Islamic State commanders are former Baathist officers who have seen U.S. firepower in action and understand how to respond to it. Some are veterans of almost three years of Syrian bomb strikes and are comfortable with quickly taking cover at the first sight of aircraft overhead. Recent images show they are dispersing their newly acquired U.S. tanks, Humvees and artillery. They also are beginning to hide their command posts in villages and digging in their small units. Their supplies are being stuffed into houses, where they cannot be spotted from the air. It's an old tactic that works. Just ask the Israelis.
"Hate speech laws in Canada include provisions in the Criminal Code of Canada, provisions in the Human Rights Act and in other federal legislation, and statutory provisions in each of Canada's ten provinces and three territories. The Criminal Code prohibits "hate propaganda." The Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination on various grounds, and forbids the posting of hateful or contemptuous messages on the Internet. Legislation in the provinces and territories prohibits discrimination on the same grounds as Canada's Human Rights Act in matters of provincial or territorial concern such as employment and accommodation. These laws are considered controversial by many commentators because of the perceived threat they pose to rights."
Canada has no real heritage of revolt in favor of individual rights. "Good government and order," is the tradition. As a country it is IMO much like what the US would have become if the British and the Tories had won the war waged against the Westminster Parliament. With the exceptions of the Metis revolt and the 1837-1838 revolt against the crown in Quebec, Canada has a long record of the submission of subjects of the crown to authority. My Anglo-Canadian family in SE Quebec split down the middle in that last fight and my own ancestral branch moved to western Wisconsin. Ironically, Sanford Bills, my great grandfather who had been born in Canada joined the Union Army because he thought it right to suppress a Southern revolt against central government.
Canadian thought with regard to free speech is IMO conditioned by their limited views of what liberty means in the US. pl
"The Israelification of America’s security apparatus, recently unleashed in full force against the Occupy Wall Street Movement, has taken place at every level of law enforcement, and in areas that have yet to be exposed. The phenomenon has been documented in bits and pieces, through occasional news reports that typically highlight Israel’s national security prowess without examining the problematic nature of working with a country accused of grave human rights abuses. But it has never been the subject of a national discussion. And collaboration between American and Israeli cops is just the tip of the iceberg.
Hear me now Oh thou bleak and unbearable world, Thou art base and debauched as can be; And a knight with his banners all bravely unfurled Now hurls down his gauntlet to thee!
Maybe I’m being a bit too emotional quoting Don Quixote in "The Man of LaMancha"… especially for a supposedly hard hearted empath. Well, too bad. I’m not dead yet and there are things in the world that still stir my blood. This is one of them.
MOSCOW, August 14, 21:41 /ITAR-TASS/. The Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday urged the warring sides in Ukraine to cease fire immediately in order to guarantee the security of the humanitarian convoy for the eastern regions of Ukraine. “Now that the multifaceted efforts to settle all aspects of the initiative to provide humanitarian assistance to the population of the south-east of Ukraine has entered the final stage, the Foreign Ministry of Russia is strongly urging the warring sides to cease fire immediately,” the statement said.
“This must be done in order to guarantee the security of the upcoming humanitarian mission. A ceasefire is required by the appalling situation in the South-East of Ukraine,” the ministry said. It also called on the warring parties in Ukraine to show political will and alleviate the suffering of people in the south-east of the country. The passage of the humanitarian convoy to the south-eastern regions of Ukraine will be a test of adequacy for Kiev, Alexander Brechalov, a Public Chamber member, said.
I think we are seeing the beginning of Putin’s end game for Novorossiya and Ukraine. He’s been quiet lately and downright conciliatory in his recent public speech in Crimea. No threats. No demands. No red lines. He just set a convoy of humanitarian aid in motion. He went through the motions of negotiating with Kiev for the passage of this convoy through Kharkov on the way to Lugansk. As expected, Kiev denied entrance of the convoy into Ukraine. No problem. The convoy headed south towards a border crossing controlled by the rebels. As of last report, it’s camped within twenty kilometers of the border only a few hours away from Lugansk.
Shortly after the humanitarian convoy encamped, a Guardian reporter traveling with the convoy watched a column of over twenty BTR-80s and accompanying support vehicles cross the border into Ukraine. Is this true or did the reporter just get turned around on the steppes of Russia? Is this the beginning of a full scale invasion? No, my guess is that this column, if it did actually across the border, is just advanced security for the humanitarian convoy. They reportedly went in with headlights on and in full view of Western reporters. This is Putin hurling down his gauntlet. Moscow is warning Kiev not to interfere with this humanitarian effort, a test of adequacy as Brechalov said. If any artillery or air attacks are made to disrupt the aid effort, I have no doubt the offending units will suffer swift and complete retribution at the hands of Russian forces. Kiev is right royally screwed.
In the last 24 hours, Donetsk has been hit by GRAD, SS-21 ballistic missiles and airburst white phosphorus rounds. However, the rebels have blunted junta attempts to enter or surround the city. Pavel Gubarev’s militia group retook the Marinovka border crossing with Russia. A direct road from Russia to Donetsk is now open. This also closes a pocket with two more junta brigades surrounded. I’ve seen a twitter report of a company of Russian tanks moving north from the Marinovka crossing towards Donetsk. This can’t be a full scale invasion either. It may be just enough to keep this pocket closed.
The other big news of the last 24 hours is the status and whereabouts of Gospodin Strelkov. Rumors have been swirling for the last two days. Kiev said he was severely wounded and in Sevastopol or dead. Others claimed he was fired as Defense Minister and fleeing back to Moscow. The truth seems to be that he is no longer the Defense Minister, either fired or resigned. His current status is unknown, but he is reported to have been reassigned to some other duty in the DPR government. Perhaps he is now a field commander rather than a minister just as Gubarev, the former President of the Donetsk Peoples Republic, just led the rebel assault at Marinovka.
I sense the junta forces are reaching a Clauswitzian culminating point and the Novorossiyan rebels sense the same thing. Something big is in the wind. As my old mentor and good friend, Master Sergeant Albert H. Rivers would say in such a situation, “The shit’s on, good buddy!”
"Islamic State gunmen are continuing their sweep across Iraq and are poised at the gates of a town just north of Baghdad – despite American air strikes intended to thwart the extremist group’s advances.
Commanders from the fundamentalist militia are massing near Qara Tappa just 70 miles north of the capital, according to Iraqi security sources and a local official.
The move threatens to broaden the front against Kurdish Peshmerga troops, who in recent days have been routed from several battlefields across northern and western Iraq.
The development came as clashes erupted west of Baghdad and the United Nations announced its highest level of humanitarian emergency for the crisis-hit country." The Telegraph
Various stupidities concerning The Islamic State and the combat situation in Iraq and Syria are being broadcast by US media.
- It is said over and over again that IS's advance has been halted in Iraq, "blunted" by US air strikes. This is nonsense. The Director of Operations of the Joint Staff personally appeared in the press briefing room at the Pentagon a few days ago to insist that the small air effort underway had no chance at all of stopping IS or deterring it further gains on the ground. An attack on a single mortar here, a truck there, is not a serious matter from the point of an aggressive and highly mobile force like IS. Their response to the air action thus far has been to disperse their assets and units and to move quite a lot of them into towns where the US is effectively deterred from attack. At the same time they have forbidden the locals to leave the towns. The Israelis like to accuse Hamas/IJ of using Gazans as human shields. This is silly. War is a political process and one uses what weapons one has. If Hamas or IS had an air force they would use that instead of using the negative political effects on their opponents of civilian casualties but they do not have an air force. In reality IT is still on the march. In the last few days they captured several towns north of Aleppo in Syria. They took them away from other opposition groups. In Iraq they hold Anbar Province west of Baghdad and are positioned 60 miles north of the capital. IMO, IS is consolidating its gains and establishing governnance in the territory they hold. At the same time they are receiving volunteer reinforcments from overseas. It takes some time to integrate new people into the force. IMO the present situation is merely a pause that precedes a renewal of IS expansion. pl
"The White House has instructed the Pentagon and the U.S. military to put on hold a transfer of Hellfire missiles that Israel had requested during its recent operation in the Gaza Strip, the Wall Street Journal reports.
"“We assess that U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq have slowed ISIL’s operational tempo and temporarily disrupted their advances toward the province of Irbil. However, these strikes are unlikely to affect ISIL’s overall capabilities or its operation in other areas of Iraq and Syria,” Lt. Gen. William Mayville Jr., director of operations for the Joint Staff, told reporters." Stars and Stripes
He da man! If he doesn't think so then what is all the nonsense in the media about this handful of naval air strikes "turning back" the IS hordes? pl
"Shortly after the statement was released, Mr. Maliki appeared on state television, sitting around a table with his military commanders, where he delivered the same message.
Mr. Maliki did not back away from the threat of a legal challenge to the nomination of Mr. Abadi, a lawmaker from Mr. Maliki’s own Shiite Islamist Dawa Party.
But any legal challenge — which would be based on Mr. Maliki’s contention that he had a legal right to make the first attempt at forming a new government after the election, because his bloc won the most seats — is considered quixotic, because he has lost much of the support within his own party."
Maliki's statement is directed to the army, not to his police troops. pl
" The core of the proposal, which is written in vague terms, calls for the creation of an international mechanism that would better monitor goods entering and exiting Gaza. This mechanism would verify that materials such as iron and cement brought into the Strip not reach Hamas and other terrorist groups, which are thought likely to use them for military purposes." Times of Israel
One of the problems Israel has in reconstruction is "Who will benefit from the sale of cement to Gaza?" If Natanyahu wants to be a hard ass about it , then Egypt will sell the cement and israeli businesses will get screwed. let's see how he deals with that. pl
Read more: UK, France, Germany propose plan for Gaza reconstruction | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/uk-france-germany-propose-plan-for-gaza-reconstruction/#ixzz3ADrEzQEt
I wrote the following reply to "Origin" in response to an off blog message he sent me in which he expressed surprise at the lack of devotion to the integrity of the Sykes-Picot state system displayed by governments and semi-governments in the ME . He specifically cited a recent meeting in Irbil of Sunni Arab tribal sheikhs to discuss action against the Baghdad government possibly in cooperation with IS. He also mentioned a similar conference held in Amman.
"I think what you (Origin) miss in this is that these countries are not really post Treaty of Westphalia nation-states. They were created by the colonial powers in the image of European countries that more resemble that model. In fact, these Middle East countries are inhabited by disparate groups of people who self-indentify within their group or perhaps within several groups they belong to. These peoples do not identify with the state in which they live unless they happen to run it. Thus, the Kurds feel no actual loyalty to the thing the British called "Iraq." They are quite willing to cooperate with other Sunni people, in this case Sunni Arab tribes who are also indifferent or hostile to the government in Baghdad now that it is run by their ancestral enemies, the Shia Arabs. The Kurds would not lift a finger to help "Iraq" if they were left alone in their mountains. What they yearn for first, last, and always is Kurdish independence. The same situation exists in Jordan a country that is in essence a "reservation" for Sunni Arabs. It has been that since it was created by the Brits in payment of a World War One obligation to the Hashemits Emir Abdullah. This obligation originated in Abdullah's support for the British during the war. When Iraq was under Sunni rule Jordan supported Iraq. Shia run "Iraq" means nothing to Jordan. The same this is true around the region.
IS is different from all these states. It does not recognize the legitimacy of the notion of countries at all and seeks a world wide theocratic state beginning in the Middle East.
The mozaic of all these groups that exists on the ground in the Middle East does not fit the boundaries of the Sykes-Picot world created after WW1. Come to grips with that."
I would add that even in Europe the process of creating national identities accepted by the masses was long and difficult and in some ways and places is not complete. Indeed one could ask if that process is is complete in the US.
It appears that the separatist enclave in Ukraine is about to fall. They have been squeezed into the two cities of Donetz and Luhansk, and the link between them has now been cut. The Kiev military is using artillery and other weapons to pound their positions in these cities, causing much destruction and many civilian casualties.
At the same time, the United States has provided an example of armed intervention to aid its friends (the Kurds) and provide humanitarian aid to civilians caught up in the fighting. Why doesn't Putin follow this example and launch some air attacks on Ukrainian artillery and heavy weapons, and open up a 'humanitarian' corridor to the besieged area? (It is doubtful that Samantha Power's belligerent threats at the UN would deter him!). What, then, is holding Putin back?
To understand this issue one needs to realise that the policy makers in the Kremlin are hard-headed realists. For them foreign and military policy is a calculus of relative gain and loss; sentiment does not play any role in their policy decisions. As far as Ukraine is concerned, their calculations probably go along the following lines:
The signs of an end to the resistance are starting to appear: Ukrainians are taking over from Russian functionaries in the separatist administration; the separatists have declared their readiness for a ceasefire.
The Kremlin realises that the ending of the Ukraine fighting will not end the US/NATO campaign against them, just the focus is likely to change from the separatist campaign to the annexation of the Crimea. The Russians are preparing for this; they have realised that this is the start of a long campaign against them, another Cold War.
Even though Russia has made a lot of effort to normalise relations with the West, trying hard to be accepted as a partner, it has not succeeded. The main reason behind this campaign against them appears to be related to the problems, internal and external, facing the US; it needs an external 'enemy' to cope with them.
- The US 24/7 media circus is filled this morning with the bloviations of the Morning Joe types. Neocon enthusiasts like Dan Senor and Max Boot were brought on the show to agitate for US commitment to another war in Iraq. The claim is made that IS is an existential threat to the US. what are we, Israelis, to make such a claim? Boot quoted a supposed comment by Bonaparte to the effect that "if you start to take Vienna, then you should take it." One would think that Boot would have learned from his earlier cheerleading about the Iraq War that Vienna is a lot harder to take than might be imagined from his university based viewpoint. Joe Scarborough himself raved on. He cannot grasp the fact that the US is not the world's hegemon. He, and similar chickenhawks, yearn for such a role and have a very hard time believing that people will not simply obey an imperial ukase delivered from the White House. In regard to Europe today Joe suggested that if the EU countries will not obey us they should be abandoned to their fate. Clearly he sees all the world as made up of clients of the US. He is a simpleton. Tom Friedman was on this fool's show today to describe his recent interview with Obama. In the course of this exposition he tried to explain to Joe that he had learned in the last ten years of the limits of US power. Joe bellowed and carried on about that, trying to bully Friedman into saying that if only the US had armed the "secular, moderate, middle class" opposition to the Syrian Government then all would have been well. Friedman told him there really was no such available group then and even more now as Joan Walsh said on Saturday. "a moderate Syrian opposition fighter is as hard to find as a unicorn." Friedman said that Obama told him that the USG would be be arming far more FSA fighters if they could find them. At the same time McCain snarls his enmity for Obama on every available platform and the Old Lady from South Carolina predicts another 9/11 occurrence if IS is not destroyed immediately. Unfortunately some of the more simple among us are beginning to believe in the worldwide menace of IS. IS is intent on building a salafist state in the Arab World. We should resist that but yet more hysteria will not serve that purpose and we should take note of the fact that the same people who instigated the last war in Iraq are pushing for another major US commitment.
- The Yazidis are rescuing themselves from Sinjar Mountain with the assistance of US air strikes and a small number of Pesh Merga and Kurdish fighters from Syria. Some 20,000 Yazidis have made their way north into the Kurdish held NE wing of Syria. It seems unlikely that Erdogan will let them into Turkey since he is an ally of IS.
- There is an interesting contrast in the way the Richard Nixon gave up the US presidency peacefully in the Watergate crisis and the way Maliki now threatens a coup in Baghdad. Should there not be a lesson in that?
- The media are trying to make something of the CIA's executive agency in the direct delivery of armaments to the KRG. This is a big nothing. Specific US law permits delivery of military materiel to the Iraqi government but not to the KRG. By making the delivery a covert action under the authority of a presidential finding authorized by the National Defense Act, that legal problem is avoided.
- The claim is being made that a few US air strikes have halted IS advances oward Irbil. No. IS troops reaction thus far has been limited to taking their black flags off their vehicles, The two little towns that IS lost over the weekend are insignificant. pl
It appears that a putsch against the constitutional government of Iraq is underway in Baghdad. This seems to be on behalf of Nuri al-Maliki and against the newly elected Sunni Arab president of the country and the parliament. Maliki has been under great pressure from the US to leave office because it has been thought that he has largely been responsible for the alienation of many of Iraq's Sunni Arab population. He is said to have done this by opppressing that population as a means of advancing the interests of his own group, the Shia Arabs.
An alternative narrative of what is occurring is Maliki's claim that he is protecting the city against someone else's coup.
According to early reports large numbers of Ministry of Interior police troops (overwhelmingly Shia and loyal to Maliki) have taken control of the various bridges over the Tigris River that separate Shia East Baghded from largely Sunni West Baghdad. These police troops are reinforced by armored vehicles that must come from the Iraqi Army. They have moved in strength into the Green Zone which contains the US Embassy, the Parliament and various government facilities.
If Maliki wishes to seize control of West Baghdad it is difficult to see what would stop him. pl
The level of uninformed maundering in the media today concerning IS is impressive:
The civvies on the tube "go on" about the need for diplomacy and the need for an inclusive government in Baghdad. The civvies profess to believe that IS was somehow defeated or frustrated at "the gates" of Baghdad and are now milling about north and west of Baghdad frustrated by their inability to capture the city. The civvies think that IS will wait for an inclusive government to be formed and for re-training/re-equiping of the ISF to take place. The civvies want to believe that a handful of tactical airstrikes has halted an IS advance towards Irbil and its important airfield. They ignore the awkward truth that hitting a few isolated positions in the field will not stop a determined armored force that keeps moving.
Another awkward truth is the fact that getting the tens of thousands of Yazidis down off their mountain will require creation of a land bridge to Kurdish Syria or Turkey. (It is just too far to expect too be able to move all those civilians to the Kurdish mountsins in the east.) To build such a land bridge would require the participation of thousands of soldiers with heavy equipment, functioning logistics and lots of air support. Who would provide that, the pesh merga? Not! They lack the men, the equipment and the air support.
US air is still flying off an aircraft carrier in the Gulf. This is very far away and the distance, in itself, lmits the amount of air power that can be projected. It limits it a lot! If the administration is serious about the Yazidis or the Kurds they will have to start operating from Batman and Incirlik in Turkey as well as Irbil and Suleymaniyah in the KRG or start using heavy bombers like the B-52.
As I have previously written the present scale of US air attacks are mere "pin pricks." The idea of them frightens American and European journalists but IS troops will be unimpressed at this scale of attacks.
The notion that IS is somehow stymied in regard to Baghdad is silly. They are consolidating control over the area they conquered and establishing governance in the same area.
Kurdistan beckons to them as an objective because it is an obvious gateway for the entry of US troops into IS's northern flank.
IS is receivng reinforcements from among jihadis across the world. I presume that they get into IS territory through Turkey.
When they are done in the north they will return to the problem of eliminating the present Iraqi government. I doubt if they plan to occupy the Shia south of Iraq but the destruction of what remains of Iraqi government central authority is certainly possible
If they succeed in doing that much, Jordan, Lebanon and the Gulf will beckon. pl
"The West on the wrong path
In view of the events in Ukraine, the government and many media have switched from level-headed to agitated. The spectrum of opinions has been narrowed to the width of a sniper scope. The politics of escalation does not have a realistic goal – and harms German interests.
Newspapers we thought to be all about thoughts and ideas now march in lock-step with politicians in their calls for sanctions against Russia's President Putin. Even the headlines betray an aggressive tension as is usually characteristic of hooligans when they 'support' their respective teams.
The Tagesspiegel: “Enough talk!“ The FAZ: “Show strength“. The Süddeutsche Zeitung: “Now or never.“ The Spiegel calls for an “End to cowardice“: “Putin's web of lies, propaganda, and deception has been exposed. The wreckage of MH 17 is also the result of a crashed diplomacy.“
Western politics and German media agree.
Every reflexive string of accusations results in the same outcome: in no time allegations and counter-allegations become so entangled that the facts become almost completely obscured.
Our purpose is to wipe off some of the foam that has formed on the debating mouths, to steal words from the mouths of both the rabble-rousers and the roused, and put new words there instead. One word that has become disused of late is this: realism."
The author is absolutely correct in observing that unlike the US, we have to be a little more serious in our relationship towards Russia and look beyond domestic political expedience. After all, we live here. The US have the luxury of distance from the mess it stirs up of late in Ukraine (or in the Middle East for that matter).
US trade with Ukraine or Russia is neglectable. They don't pay a price in the civil war in Ukraine either: The Ukrainians do the killing and the dying, and the US in the meanwhile merrily blames Putin for everything. More, the US will not for years poison their relations with an immediate neigbour (Alaska nobody in DC cares about anyway).
For Poland, the Batic States and Germany, there are immediate real life consequences of generating Russian hostility. Not only will we be less secure as a result of it, we will also pay for it economically, and pay for what?
The Handlesblatt article rightly points out that "If economic ties were maintained for mutual profit, then severing them will lead to mutual loss. Punishment and self-punishment are the same thing in this case."
So we are supposed to punish ourselves so the Obama administration can feel good about themselves and increase their electoral chances at home by pandering to latent US russophobic sentiments? True: Considering how mindlessly aggressive as their policy is, they cannot possibly be outhawked here.
"Jazirah" is a multi-purpose word in Arabic. It can variously mean; island, peninsula (properly shibhat jezirah), Algeria the country as in al-jeza'ir, (plural) Algiers, the city, also as in al-jeza'ir, the Qatari TV stations, etc. In my title here it refers to the crescent shaped semi-fertile band of land that stretches from northern Iraq to coastal Syria (the Fertile Crescent), in other words, the very land now claimed by IS.
The US has now commenced operations intended (beneath all the political baloney from the White House) to test the idea that perhaps the IS coalition is a fragile instrument that can be thrown back by a few dozen tactical air strikes from a carrier far away. These air strikes are being flown in support of a coming attempt by Pesh Merga and resuscitated refugees from the Maliki army to make a counter-offensive against the IS mini-horde west and SE of Irbil. The influence of the American advisory team in Irbil and Baghdad is evident in this plan.
The US Army nearly always believes that "the best defense is a good offense." Classical military thought dictates that the defense is the stronger form in war but the offensive is more decisive. Well, no matter, US forces can usually be relied on to opt for the offensive form no matter how crazed an idea that might be. This tendency was shown in the Maliki army's attempt to re-take Baiji and Tikrit from the south, whether they were ready to do so or not.
The Pesh Merga/Maliki army juggernaut is now going to attempt the same thing in Kurdistan. Like the attampt on Baiji/Tikrit this will be a desperate gamble. Armies, especially third world armies, are fragile instruments when they have experienced reverses. Bonaparte said that at least two thirds of the ingredients for success or failure had to do with states of mind. In other words, if an army is feeling good about itself and its leaders almost anything was achievable. If not, then almost nothing was achievable.
A failed counter-offensive in the north might doom Irbil and put Obama to the test yet again. pl
IS (an emerging theocratic state)/Iraq (a geographic expression now rather than a country) -
There is an old German military maxim that runs something like "if you have a serious problem, boot it! Don't pee on it!" (The Germans here will sort me out on this.)
My expectation is that having now seen an actual demonstration of the US willingness to use air power to defend the KRG and Irbil the IS military leadership cadre will decide that the best Course of Action (COA) is to occupy Kurdish towns as rapidly as they can. Expect to see an early maximum effort to take Irbil. The IS mobile force possesses tanks, APCs and artillery and the ability to use them IMO their knowledge was hard bought in the Iran-Iraq War and at the Frunze Academy and other Soviet schools. IMO, ISIS is using military experts from the Old Iraqi Army (the one we disbanded) much as the Bosheviki used former Tsarist officers to organize and run the Red Army until the Blood Purges began in the 30s. Marhsal Tukhashevski was an eample of such a person. He was shot in the purge.
IMO IS is cleaning up its strategic rear and consolidating its new state. Some pathetic newsfool bleated today that "we thought ISIS was "over extended." I suppose that means that the Children's Crusade "experts" in the WH, State Department and media thought that to be the case. Here at SST (home of the truly hard hearted empaths) we never thought that.
An insurgent force that can; wage propaganda war, has lots of money, a coherent ideology and the ability to organize and operate armored kampfgruppen (battle groups) is a very dangerous opponent. IMO that force potentially threatens the state system throughout the Sunni Middle East and is a menace that must be halted.
To build an effective local coalition of forces against IS (a concert of the Middle East?) one must stop trying to unseat the existing governments. They are the only possible basis for such a coalition; Iran, Turkey, whatever government exists in Iraq, Jordan, Syria (Bashar), Egypt, Kuwait (for the basing), Saudi Arabia (for the money and basing), Qatar (for the basing). Unfortunately, to bring these forces together, Obama's government would have to acknowledge the folly of its college bull session foreign policy over the last six years. The Children's Crusade that is the Obama Administration in the NSC and State Department, driven by the social disease of utopian social science fantasies unseated Mubarak and thus began the unraveling of the system of nation states in the ME. In the absence of that system of governments, the underlying traditional loyalties which were suppressed by the nation states have re-emerged with a vengeance.
Will Obama have sense enough to reverse his policy? I doubt it.
Sinjar Mountain and the Yazidis -
These are among the unfortunates of the earth. There are many such groups in the world. Dropping water and food to these people is a necessary but utterly inadequate response to their predicament. What has to be done is for a ground corridor to be opened from the mountain to Turkey through Kurdish held NE Syria. Nothing else will suffice. Will that happen? Probably it will not.
Bibi Agonistes or "Why don't they give up?"
IMO it is the Israelis who are trapped by Gaza. Having attacked Hamas and Company in Gaza on the pretext of supposed Hamas involvement in the murder of three Jewish youths in the Hebron area, Bibi's belief was that he could smash and disassemble the Palsestinian consolidated government through massive and savage application of force on the Gaza population. Instead what he got was continuing (if ineffectual) resistance, the condemnatation of much of the world (including eventually the Obama claque) and now a refusal to accept a more permanent cease fire unless the sige of Gaza is lifted. Israel's war aims include a demonstration of Palestinian helplessness in order to induce a general acceptance of that helplessness among Palestinians. That being the case, the Palestinians must be seen to have gained nothing by resistance, but they keep shooting. Even Carol Costello on CNN can see that, "Oh why don't they give up! They can't win!" Her Irish ancestors (?) did not feel that way about the British throughout their 700 year long struggle. pl
"In other words, today, Russia is once again isolating itself from the international community" -President Obama in a statement on Jul 29 2014, announcing increased trade sanctions against Russia.
"Russia is introducing a full 12 months embargo on the import of beef, pork, fruits and vegetables, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and the Kingdom of Norway. Russia is also introducing an airspace ban against European and US airlines that fly over our airspace to Eastern Asia, namely, the Asia-Pacific Region and is considering changing the so-called Russian airspace entry and exit points for European scheduled and charter flights. Furthermore, Russia is ready to revise the rules of using the trans-Siberian routes, and will also discontinue talks with the US air authorities on the use of the trans-Siberian routes." - The Sakers interpretation of Russias response yesterday.
I have to ask, as per The Times headline; Exactly who is isolating themselves from whom? Who is going to get hurt the most? Doesn't Washington understand the principle that a mere allegedly "regional power" like Russia is quite capable of making more trouble for the West than we can inflict on it?
Does Washington really think that the Russian people are going to march on the Kremlin to vent their anger at President Putin because of Washingtons sanctions? My own opinion is that sanctions will only strengthen the existing trade links between the BRIC group of nations and hurt "us" more than "them". As a friend whose economic knowledge is far better than mine pointed out; Once new market channels are opened in response to sanctions, it becomes extremely difficult to win back those markets when sanctions are lifted.
"Pat - My folks were loading magazines last I checked. Just texted them. Firefight was on outskirts of city. Irbil will probably hold, but they'll probe Duhok too. Their MO is lightning penetration of Pesh lines, which has been successful. They attack every few miles, break the lines, then pince together and mop up. Hopeful enough heavy equipment has dropped in so that won't be the case. Also, they've learned to spread their forces to be less vulnerable to air. Lots of drones would be helpful here." Old Soldier (OS)
I received the above from a friend who is trying to save a few of the Yazidis trapped on the mountain at Sinjar. He is a retired infantry officer with a lot of combat experience. He was a battalon adviser with the ARVN airborne division in 1971- 72. He has men in the field trying to affect a rescue.
ISIS will surely kill any Yazidis who fall into their hands. For ISIS the Shia are murtadd (apostates) and deserving of death, but the Yazidi are not Muslim at all. For ISIS they are watheni (pagans). Logically, pagans should be given the chance to accept ISIS's version of Islam, but that does not seem to be their policy.
His field man's description of IS coalition tactics against the Pesh Merga are what I would expect. The Old Iraqi Army military experts who are the fighting brain of the IS coalition were well schooled in the military art. I remember conversations with men like these concerning tactical and operational level methods in the world wars. This has Guderian, Patton, Manstein et al written all over it. In addition to that theoretical base, the Old Iraqi Army had a lot of largely successful experience fighting the Kurds. That helps.
And in another bit of terrible news it seems that the Mosul Dam has been captured by IS. To the west of Baghdad they also control the Haditha Dam and the Al-Qaim Dam as well. These are major hydroelectric resources. What will happen if the lights go out in Baghdad?
Will Irbil fall? Who can say?
"IS is now on Turkey’s radar not because of its massacres in Iraq or hostage Turks, but because of the activities of people affiliated with the group inside Turkey.
On Juy 29, the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan, the sight of mass outdoor prayers performed by a large crowd of long-bearded men in white robes and the sermon that followed ignited a serious debate in Turkey. The sermon included, among other things, “Those who believe, those who … participate in jihad on the path of Allah with their lives and all their beings will be rewarded generously. They are the ones who will survive. Our plea to Allah Almighty is to accept us jihadists. We beg him to compassionately help the mujahideen, those in jihad … to hit their targets accurately.”
Images of this assembly were provided by the group itself. Only after they were released on websites known to be closely affiliated with IS did the mainstream media become aware of them and run the images.
This brings to mind the line of poetry quoted today by Babak. The line ran roughly that a man who raises a wolf is eventually torn to pieces by it. Did Erdogan really think that his half baked Islamism would protect him from the IS forces that he has nurtured and given training space and sanctuary? pl
Browsing through this week's (August 11) New Yorker on my way to a doctor's appointment, I started reading David Remnick's "Watching the Eclipse: Ambassador Michael McFaul was there when the promise of democracy came to Russia--and when it began to fade." I had a long wait and read the whole thing. I am not a Russian specialist--I am not even that interested in Russia! But....
More than half the essay gives an account of Michael McFaul, both as former recent ambassador and as a Stanford graduate student in the early 1990s. (Remnick, now the editor of the New Yorker was a WashPost correspondent in Moscow from 1988 to about 1992, seems to have know McFaul back then). If Remnick's account of McFaul's career, past and present, is accurate, it is hard to imagine a more incompetent ambassador. Poor George Kennan to be succeeded by this.
Remnick also does a few pages on Putin, then and now. Putin may be outmaneuvering Obama in Ukraine, but there's no getting around his being a thug. On the other hand, Remnick does allow that he is promoting Russia's national interest, as he (and many fellow Russians) sees it. Don't see how that's going to work.
P.S. Susan Rice and McFaul are reported in the article to have been students together at Stanford, and she invited him into the Obama campaign.
Here's the link (or go to your doctor's office and read it):
UPI Terrorism Correspondent | June 18, 2002 at 8:13 PM
In the wake of a suicide bomb attack Tuesday on a crowded Jerusalem city bus that killed 19 people and wounded at least 70 more, the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, took credit for the blast.
Israeli officials called it the deadliest attack in Jerusalem in six years.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon immediately vowed to fight "Palestinian terror" and summoned his cabinet to decide on a military response to the organization that Sharon had once described as "the deadliest terrorist group that we have ever had to face."
Active in Gaza and the West Bank, Hamas wants to liberate all of Palestine and establish a radical Islamic state in place of Israel. It is has gained notoriety with its assassinations, car bombs and other acts of terrorism.
But Sharon left something out.
Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.
Israel "aided Hamas directly -- the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization)," said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies.
Israel's support for Hamas "was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative," said a former senior CIA official.
According to documents United Press International obtained from the Israel-based Institute for Counter Terrorism, Hamas evolved from cells of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928. Islamic movements in Israel and Palestine were "weak and dormant" until after the 1967 Six Day War in which Israel scored a stunning victory over its Arab enemies.
After 1967, a great part of the success of the Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood was due to their activities among the refugees of the Gaza Strip. The cornerstone of the Islamic movements success was an impressive social, religious, educational and cultural infrastructure, called Da'wah, that worked to ease the hardship of large numbers of Palestinian refugees, confined to camps, and many who were living on the edge.
"Social influence grew into political influence," first in the Gaza Strip, then on the West Bank, said an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"Israel does not deserve all the blame. Arab political and religious leaders, despite historic grievances, have a duty to recognize that Israel is their neighbor. Israel is part of the mosaic of the modern Middle East. A change in tone and tenor and a public embrace of Israel by religious leaders will calm the nerves of an anxious Israeli population.
In the end, Israel has limited options. Peace is not possible without Hamas, and Hamas is not a simple terrorist outfit. Its political arm, its leadership inside and outside Gaza, despite their tensions, are open to indirect talks with Israel.
Just as the British and American governments negotiated peace in Northern Ireland by reaching out to IRA terrorists through their political wing of Sinn Fein, we must tame Hamas through politics, not the failed strategy of war." Ed Husain
Ari Shavit of Ha'aretz was on Morning Boob today saying much the same thing as Husain does in this opinion piece. IMO a willingness of the GOI and Hamas to deal with each other is an absolute requirement for any kind of settlement.
The Irish example is now proposed as a fashionable and reasonable "path" to a way out of the dismal mess that is the Palestinian impasse in dealing with Israel.
Even Mornin' Joe Scarborough expresses this thought on Mika's daily orgy of feminism. He had the Palestinian ambassador to the UN on today and managed to walk down the fine line of political caution while expressing support for peace.
Joe asked the ambassador how Israel could be assured that a PA run Gaza with Hamas still present would not wage war against them. the ambassador said that if an agreement could be reached then an international observer force (UN?) would be needed, a force with unlimited rights of "no notice" inspection.
I agree and IMO such a force would have to be built around a core structure of Egyptians. pl
"An Afghan soldier shot a United States Army major general to death and wounded a German brigadier general and at least 14 other foreign and Afghan military service members on Tuesday at a military training academy on the outskirts of Kabul, officials of the American-led coalition said Tuesday. The major general appeared to be the highest-ranking member of the American military to die in hostilities overseas since the Vietnam War." NY Times
This is mute commentary on how much Afghans have really changed. (irony) This is clear in spite of the nonsense being spouted by Rear Admiral Kirby at the Pentagon. pl
Congratulating Colonel Lang on the 10,000,000 page views this blog has attained, Ishmael Zecariah described it as 'one of the few venues where "truth and honor" still have meaning.'
When, more than nine years ago now, the Colonel initiated this blog, he wrote that he would 'tell the truth as it is given to me to know the truth.' As one of the 'old lags' who has been reading and commenting on SST since those early days, I have always hoped that among its audience would be people in the U.S. intelligence community – and perhaps indeed the British – for whom the concepts of 'truth and honor' do still have a great deal of meaning.
The presence of honest and competent analysts in the U.S. intelligence community was readily apparent at the time when both our countries were lied into the catastrophic invasion of Iraq – in part because such people were 'stabbed in the back' by MI6 and the British Joint Intelligence Committee's endorsement of the claim that Saddam Hussein had sought uranium from Niger.
Subsequently, however, such analysts succeeded in frustrating attempts to misrepresent the Iranian nuclear programme so as inveigle us into another disastrous war. And while the JIC were quite happy to collaborate in attempts to lure both our countries into an attack on Syria, honest and competent analysts at the British defence science laboratory at Porton Down, if Seymour Hersh's account is to be believed, supplied their colleagues in the Defense Intelligence Agency with the evidence which enabled General Dempsey to frustrate the attempt.
For some time, the veteran journalist Robert Parry has been suggesting that what U.S. intelligence analysts know about the shooting down of the Malaysian flight MH17 on 17 July does not mesh with official claims that there is unambiguous evidence that the insurgent forces were responsible.
Yesterday, he claimed that U.S. intelligence analysts now believe that the atrocity was likely to have been the result of a deliberate attempt by extremists in the new regime in Kiev to shoot down a Russian plane.
It was at 7 pm (GMT) on this day one hundred years ago, a little after the time at which I am posting this, that, following the German invasion of Belgium, the British Government delivered the ultimatum which led to its declaration of war four hours later. Some reflections on 'truth and honor', on the claims and counter-claims about MH17, and on Europe's rush to catastrophic war a century ago may be timely.
"In the face of stiff resistance from Shiite militias aligned with Iran that have stalled their march on Baghdad, the ISIS fighters who captured Mosul in June pushed north during the weekend. By Sunday afternoon, they were in control of two other towns after fierce battles with Kurdish security forces, known as the pesh merga, who have been thrust into combat to defend the border of their autonomous region in northern Iraq from encroachments by ISIS.
In a statement, ISIS boasted of conquering “more important areas which were controlled by the pesh merga and the secular militias.” With the new territory, which the group described as “the border triangle of Iraq, Syria and Turkey,” ISIS strengthened its hold on territory that traverses the frontiers of Iraq and Syria, giving it an even greater ability to move fighters and weapons between the front lines of the civil wars in both countries." NY Times
IMO IS is systematically "cleaning up" its strategic "rear' in Iraq and Syria before continuing "march on Baghdad." I don't think this pause in the campaign against the Iraqi government has anything to do with Shia militia resistance. When IS finishes this phase of its campaign plan it will move to the next phase.
In this instance the Kurds lost important locations and populations to IS. Like the Iraqi government after the IS capture of Beiji and Tikrit, the Kurdish Authority will have one opportunity to demonstrate its ability to recover lost ground from IS. If that fails then the Kurdish Authority will be at the mercy of future IS "attention," and its fate will probably depend on Turkish, Iranian or US intervention.
With its program of Salafi renewal of supposed early Islamic practices, IS treats heterogeneous Islamic groups like all the Shia factions, Yazidis, Druze, etc. even worse that it does Christians or Jews (if there are any to be found in the "caliphate." ) These non-Sunni groups are simply considered to be murtadoon (apostates) and they are killed. Christians are offered the choice of payment of jizya (the dhimmi tax on second class people), conversion or the sword. pl
Someone wrote to ask how he/she/it might customize the little colored square thingies that appear next to your comments. I asked Typepad. They say that if you have a Typepad account then the picture you have on your Typepad page will automatically appear chez nous. Other than that, no chance. Some hilarious possibilities exist. pl
If you think the current Israeli invasion of Gaza is a response to the discovery of the bodies of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers in late June, think again. Israel’s invasion was a pre-planned action and, if you simply go back and examine the news reports since April, you will realize that the missing teens became a convenient, tragic symbol that Israel disgracefully used as a pre-text for trying to destroy Hamas. Let me walk you thru some of the relevant press clippings.
Let’s start on 25 April 2014 with an article by John Lyons of the Australian entitled, Fatah, Hamas Unity Hurts:
After a bitter seven-year split, Fatah, which governs the West Bank, and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, announced yesterday that they had agreed on reunification.
The US expressed “disappointment” and Israel reacted angrily, immediately cancelling a round of peace talks with the Palestinians. . . .
Periodically, Hamas fires rockets from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel. However, more often than not the rockets are fired by Islamic Jihad or one of the five Salafist groups who do not acknowledge Hamas’s right to rule Gaza.
Israel’s policy is to respond to any rockets from Gaza, regardless of who fires them. Within hours of the latest announcement, Israeli jets launched an air strike on Gaza. Israel said this was in response to rockets fired from Gaza.
On 2 June 2014, Israel was still miffed at the apparent unity forged between Fatah and Hamas. Agence France reported:
Early on Monday, Israeli warplanes staged two bombing raids on targets in central and southern Gaza following rocket fire on southern Israel, a spokesman said.
“After two rockets were fired at Israeli territory over the last two days, the Israeli airforce attacked two terrorist sites in central and southern Gaza,” he said, noting the raids were successful.
Summing up at this point in time:
- Lieutenant Gordin is declared dead by the IDF. The government faced a wave of public hysteria that would have tied their hands. This declaration restores some of their freedom of action.
- Marc Regev, Bibi's spokesman told Blitzer today that Palestinian civilian casualties in Gaza have been "greatly exagerated" by "forces hostile to Israel." Frank Luntz should be very proud of such disciples.
- The IDF says it has "nearly finished the job" in destroying "teghor (terror) tunnels." Why is it that they can find these infiltration routes into "Isghael" (Israel) now and could not before? Simple. The US started giving them Ground Penetrating Radar imagery a week or so ago. Before that they were blind mice searching for holes in the ground. they are understandably annoyed that they did not have their hands in this US cookie bowl before.
"According to the Associated Press, the two spoke on the phone Friday amid growing tensions between the US and Israel over the Gaza conflict, that has in the meantime further detirorated after a UN and US backed ceasefire collapsed Friday morning.
Obama and other US officials did not directly blame Hamas for the abduction of 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin, but they made clear they hold Hamas responsible for the actions of all factions in the Gaza Strip. The language was a distinct change from Thursday when Washington was focused on the deaths of Palestinian civilians.
Netanyahu told Shapiro the Obama administration was “not to ever second-guess me again” and that Washington should trust his judgment on how to deal with Hamas, according to people familiar with the conversation." Ynet News
IMO Dan Shapiro is a fervent Zionist and should not be US Ambassador in Israel. His religion is not the issue. His political philosophy should be the focus. pl
"Q Thanks. I want to ask about the situation in the Middle East. And why do you think Israel should embrace a cease-fire in Gaza when one of its soldiers appears to have been abducted and when Hamas continues to use its network of tunnels to launch attacks? And also, have you seen Israel act at all on your call to do more to protect civilians?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I think it's important to note that we have -- and I have -- unequivocally condemned Hamas and the Palestinian factions that were responsible for killing two Israeli soldiers and abducting a third almost minutes after a cease-fire had been announced. And the U.N. has condemned them as well.
And I want to make sure that they are listening: If they are serious about trying to resolve this situation, that soldier needs to be unconditionally released as soon as possible.
The fundamental principal of the Justification Meme is that no land inhabited by people is allowed to be taken. So, if you want to steal the land from a native population, you must first de-people it. This is an easy task; all that is necessary is that you give the inhabitants a good nickname such as redskin or wog and a few negative adjectival and verbal associations. It helps if you are far richer and technologically advanced than the targeted population and if a large lot of them can be terrorized to death. After that the land is devoid of people and all is copacetic. The theft is now moral and the use and conquering of the land is now a noble act done in fulfillment of the obligations of good stewardship of the earth and duty to God.
It is not easy for a normal person to steal from one’s family and neighbors because one can experience empathy and guilt for the act. Stealing from a dog engenders little regret. Thus, if a people seek to oppress another people and steal their birthright land, they first must dehumanize them to the equivalence of dogs or monsters; hence, nicknames are assigned. Secondly, some adjectival tag must be attached that further minimizes the victim’s worth, like being lazy, dirty, cowardly, or the favorites, evil and savage. Thirdly, the adjectival tag must be paired with some worthy characteristic of the oppressor for comparison such as civilized, skilled, or heroic. Similarly, the land of the native needs a characterization such as untamed wilderness or barren land. Finally, an oppressor’s act with respect to the native’s land must be described in some positive way like tamed, swamp drained, or desert made to bloom. Together, these adjectival and verbal tools can be assembled to create a myth or meme that justifies the theft and grants the oppressor a warm and satisfied feeling of accomplishment and religious fulfillment.
Three crooks, three liars, three men who have betrayed the trust of the American people; what should be done with them?
- DNI Clapper perjured himself before the US Senate and was allowed to apologize and stay on.
- General Keith Alexander has gone into business in retirement for the purpose of selling cyberwarfare knowledge that rightly belongs to the American people.
- John Brennan is now revealed as yet another liar. He told everyone who would listen that CIA had not hacked its way into computers belonging to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). Now the CIA IG has produced a report that states the opposite. Brennan has apologized to the senate. That is not enough. The SSCI's role is oversight of the CIA. Under Brennan's command CIA tried to escape that oversight.
Obama will probably not allow prosecution of these traitors to the spirit of American democracy. They know too much. pl
Frank Luntz wrote a paper for his fellow Zionists a few years back. In this paper he specified the kind of language to be used in public utterance for the purpose of eliciting a conditioned response from the American public. For example Israeli PWs should always be described as having been "kidnapped," "abducted," or as being held "hostage." This trickiness is intended to create a mental image of innocent, indeed childlike IDF soldiers who have been victimized by criminals. This is clever. Today Martin Fletcher and Blinken from the NSC were all over Morning Joe using this language to describe an IDF soldier taken prisoner. Blinken demanded that Hamas release this "hostage. " At the same time the point is made that this "abduction" was perpetrated against a group of IDF engineers who were demolishing tunnels inside Gaza DURING THE CEASE FIRE. Lordy! Lordy! How dare the Hamasniks do such a thing! Have they never heard of the rules of Israeli Warfare?
Rule 1 - We do what we please but you must not imitate us, because we are "special" and we want to WIN!!
Ariel Sharon once infamously conducted a major armored offensive operation during a cease fire that Israel had accepted. This was during the Battle of the Chinese Farm in 1973. He defeated the Egyptian Army who stupidly were abiding by the UN sponsored cease fire, and Sharon WON! He won because he was "SPECIAL," but don't you think for a minute you Palestinian terrorists that you can do the same. NO, NO NO! You are not "special." pl
Can anyone identify the maker of the shell?
This requires no comment. It reminds me of street scenes in Frankfurt am Main when I lived there as a child just after WW2. And we are giving the IDF more bombs? How can we pretend to be seeking a cease-fire when we are doing that? pl
We have been distracted by Gaza and the R2P campaign against Russia. While we have been so deflected, IS in Iraq have been busy.
The idiot press has interpreted IS' consolidation of its gains as exhaustion or some other nonsense. In fact they have been; prosecuting their war against the Syrian Arab Government, chopping heads as the opportunity presents, and bringing their forces, both guerrilla and conventional into position for an offensive against the Iraqi "Government." Yesterday, they destroyed a bridge across the Tigris between Samarra and Tikrit thus isolating the Tikrit and Beiji areas from any movement north toward these key places. At the same time IS forces sit on the eastern and western flanks of the supply lines of GOI forces at Samarra.
It is now clear that the happy, reveling Shia crowds celebrating Eid al-Adha face the prospect of Sunni cooperation with IS west of the Tigris in the Adhamiya Sunni barrio of Baghdad . That is where the airport and the US Embassy are located.
To "top things off," there are now a lot of of suicide attacks and fighting in the Sunni towns south of Baghded that are located just south of the capital and on the roads leading to them. Closure of the two main roads leading south from Baghdad will isolate the capital. It is inevitable in that case that the airport will be attacked at least enough to make it unusable. That will seal the fate of Shia Baghdad. IS must be sharpening their machetes (or whatever they use). To quote Eddy Izzard, "kill, kill, kill, ah. lunch."
All this will add another burden of defeated adolescent fantasy to the Obama seminar.
Judy Miller, once of the NY Times, used to tell me that I was a pessemist. Do they still employ the hasbara shill (maybe?) Michael Gordon? pl
In the past two days Kiev’s forces have launched several short-range ballistic missiles into areas in east Ukraine controlled by self-defense forces, CNN reports, citing US government sources. The move “marks a major escalation” in the Ukrainian crisis, CNN said.
“Three US officials confirmed to me a short time ago that US intelligence over the last 48 hours has monitored the firing of several short-range ballistic missiles from territory controlled by Ukraine government forces into areas controlled by the pro-Russian separatists,” Barbara Starr, CNN’s Pentagon correspondent, said in a live report. Short-range ballistic missiles can carry warheads of up to 1,000 pounds (450 kg) and are capable of killing dozens of people at a time, Starr said.
A Moscow correspondent for another American television network, ABC, tweeted Tuesday that the Kiev forces fired three ballistic missiles at self-defense forces near the town of Snezhnoe (Snizhne in Ukrainian) in the Donetsk Region. According to Kirit Radia, this is what a US official told ABC’s Pentagon digital journalist Luis Martinez. “In last 48 hours Ukraine's military fired 3 SS21 short range ballistic missiles at separatists near Snizhne, US official tells @LMartinezABC” (RT.com)
Oops! Somebody at the Pentagon didn’t get the memo. I cannot understand how advertising the Banderistas’ use of SRBMs helps sell the message that Putin is the devil. That’s not the worst part of this story. A correspondent for the Saker’s blog just put this news out this morning.
Information from very reliable sources. These sources are in Novorossiya, Russian Federation, EU and Ukraine:
29.07.2014 in afternoon Ukraine time 4 SS-21 Tochka tactical ballistic missiles were fired by Ukraine Armed Forces. At least two were clearly aimed at Saur Moglia with the idea of the Ukes trapped in The Cauldron having a sudden escape route opened for them. Moments before launch Russian Federation units surged toward the border at The Cauldron area and to the north of The Cauldron.
“Under those circumstances, Israel would potentially have to contend with tens of thousands of casualties, the paralysis of all its systems and the need to create defensive measures for individual neighborhoods and even for streets. And all of that is based on the assumption that West Bank Arabs and some the Israeli Arabs will not join the campaign. Counter-attacks by the air force won’t help when everyone is dug in deep underground, laughing all the way to Jerusalem.”
This horrific scenario that he so ardently etched in the consciousness of the Israeli masses justifies the killing of civilians in Gaza and the deaths of Israeli soldiers in battle. It ends with an apocalyptic prediction: “In the best-case scenario, international forces would be brought in to demilitarize the state,” the popular status update says, continuing, “Israel’s nuclear weapons and the whole dream of a Jewish state would disintegrate for another thousand years.” According to this article, the kidnapping and murder of the three teens paved the way for a military operation that resulted in the discovery of a “brilliant plan” to destroy Israel." Akiva Eldar
Hysteria and skillful use of IO has brought about this image in Israeli minds and the same bilge is being sold to American audiences by Zionist spokesmen like Steve Schmitt who mouthed this line on Morning Joe" yesterday.
In fact, what we are talking about in the actual, as opposed to the fantasy, combat situation is posession by Hamas of a mass of homemade artillery rockets that are wildly innacurate and that are easily defeated by the American funded "Iron Dome." In addition, Hamas has some tunnels which penetrate as much as a mile into the Israeli desert and which can be used for raiding in Israel.
This is an existential threat? Does the IDF not station troops in the desert near Gaza? Do the Israelis in all their genius not posses Ground Penetrating Radar? No? Well, the Americans can always give them the equipment and/or training or can provide them with the imagery.
Natanyahu is smarter than to believe this silliness. His real purpose is to destroy Hamas so that he can dominate the PA. pl
Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/07/israel-protective-edge-right-left-support-avri-gilad.html?utm_source=Al-Monitor+Newsletter+%5BEnglish%5D&utm_campaign=6f08e48c7b-July_29_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-6f08e48c7b-93066749#ixzz38sKpM42d
"Vice President Cheney knew all along Saddam had zero nukes. His main interest was to establish a democracy in Iraq which he believed would have a rippled effect among Israel’s neighbors and provide the Jewish state with 25 years of peace and security. Given the bloody failures of Afghanistan and Iraq, President Obama is understandably gun-shy, reluctant to get more deeply involved in a geopolitical game he clearly does not understand.
John Kerry, his Secretary of State, while well-equipped intellectually for the job, showed yawning gaps of Middle Eastern knowledge, when he made 12 roundtrips to the Middle East in almost as many weeks — in the mistaken belief that Israel and Hamas in Gaza were ready for a Middle Eastern settlement." De Borchgrave
What is it with Cheney and Israel? Rumors have circulated in Washington for years that he has some undisclosed family or other personal connection with the Zionist cause. Is that what all this has been about? Alternatively, does he harbor resentment against the "Aghabs" for slights received during his business years. God knows it is easy to be offended by the behavior of a lot of Arabs in the business world.
Kerry is an "Innocent Abroad." He has been a striver with beautiful hair for a long time. His vanity is apparent. For such people it is easy to imagine that the irresistable charm of your manner gives you leverage in interpersonal relations that, unfortunately, does not exist.
The thought of John Kerry trying to cozy up to a hyper-nationalist fascist like Natanyahu is sadly amusing. pl
Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/ArnauddeBorchgrave/Afghanistan-Iraq-Iraq-in-Crisis/2014/07/29/id/585556#ixzz38xUGS9NH
Barack Obama: "I demand that Israel agrees to an immediate, unilateral ceasefire and halt all offensive activities, in particular airstrikes."
Benjamin Netanyahu: "And what will Israel receive in exchange for a ceasefire" politifact
And what will Israel "receive in exchange?" How many billions do we give Israel every year? pl
"Harel writes however that a kind of "Oral Law" has developed inside IDF which is supported by many commanders, even at brigade and division level, that goes further than the official order, including the use of tank shells or air strikes. "A dangerous, unofficial interpretation of the protocol has been created," a senior officer told Haaretz. "Intentionally targeting a vehicle in order to kill the abductee is a completely illegal command. The army's senior command must make this clear to officers."
wiki on "The Hannibal Directive"
Well, well, the US Army will do almost anything to retrieve a captured soldier alive, or even his dead body. "We leave nobody behind" has become an impractical but hearfelt mantra inherited from the SOF raiding forces. Apparently, the IDF equivalent would be "we leave no man behind alive."
This policy, however cloaked in silence by the IDF certainly must be a matter of concern for conscripts and reservists in the context of Palestinian and Lebanese fighters who are increasingly willing to "mix it up" in close combat. In such circumstances the possibility of capture is great.
Richard Silverstein in his blog Tikkun Olam has recounted the story of an IDF NCO killled at Gaza in such an incident and as a reward for his account has been subjected to a deliberate campaign among the Zionists to drive him from the public square. Hmm. they do that? pl
Evil has many faces.
Once it was a bespectacled jackbooted 'specialist' working assiduously to increase the throughput of the gas chambers.
Today it is a bunch of drunken louts on a hilltop cheering as bombs and shells destroy apartment building after apartment building along with their occupants.
Or, the fanatics steeped in religion who brutally kill people because they hold different beliefs.
Evil arises in the human heart. When it fills it to the brim the heart becomes a blackened, putrid bit of flesh, instead of the repository of the feelings and emotions that make us human.
When Evil fills a heart it makes it easy to commit the greatest of all crimes − kill another human being. When Evil fills the hearts of a whole people it makes it easy for them to annihilate another people. It makes no difference if that is done to seize their land or to purify one's own; the crime remains the same.
Such manifestations of Evil pose a challenge to the rest of humanity. Either we stand up and condemn or oppose them, or we become complicit in the crime − there is no middle, neutral ground.
While few indeed can summon up the shining heroism of a Rachel Corrie, or even the courage of a young Lucas Koerner (who stood up in Jerusalem to say: Not in my name), it is important to disassociate oneself from the abomination being perpetrated by bearing witness to one's opposition, each according to their circumstances. That is how one affirms one's own humanity.
As for those who support, excuse, or even condone this crime, or use mealy-mouthed circumlocutions to avoid showing their true colours, they become a part of the Evil abroad in the land. The Evil descends into their hearts, and they begin to recede from humanity, and join its enemies.