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22 April 2011

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Michael Brenner

No doubt that we do live in interesting times. The term reminds me that the supposed Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times" is apocryphal - according to some erudite Chines students of mine. No doubt that we are embarking on a long political journey by taking just the first analytical and policy step. (Yes, a traditional Chinese saying).

All this is procrastination until I figure the odds on all 6 of the Colonel's progostications being correct - after which I'll check in with my Las Vegas
bookie and see what odds she's offering.

VietnamVet

Colonel,

Thanks for your excellent Survey.

My only question is how long can the peoples of Egypt and the United States remain pacified as the oligarchs and military “maneuver just beneath the surface of events” without addressing any of their basic needs; the right for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

TamBram

Col.,
Why wouldn't we expect a new Syrian regime, if Sunni-controlled, to react against years of repression by the Alawites by reducing ties with Iran? That is, my instinct is there would be temptation for a sort of "out with the old, in with the new" house-cleaning.
I do agree such a regime would not change its relationship towards Israel or Hamas.

Cloned Poster

I cannot believe that Libya will end well for Sarkozy/Cameron (ergo Obama).

The playstation sim fighters drones from the US will make more mistakes than they do in Pakistan

Patrick Lang

TamBram

The Syrian Baath Party is as much Sunni as Alawi. The relationship with Iran is strategic, not sectarian. Alawis are not Shia. pl

Patrick Lang

CP
You are letting your politics get in the way of your thinking. Your description of these drones is laughably inaccurate. pl

The beaver

Col.

I, too, am surprised by the absence of the twin brother of John McCain, aka Joe Lieberman in Benghazi. Wonder why? not because of TLV!!!

Ken Hoop

Does the Col have any opinion on Undersecretary of Defense Flournoy's confident prediction in her Charlie Rose interview last nite (available on his site) that the new Iraqi government will be an ally of US Mideast policy? I fear the necessary attempts to so manipulate and the results thereof.

Ken Hoop

I agree with the Col that Alawis are not Shia. They deify Ali and,seemingly, Christ as well. They cannot be said to accept that Mohammed was the last prophet.

However their doctrines are not well-circulated and have in fact been secret until recently, and I believe if you check, you will find the Baathist regime has appointed or influenced certain Syrian clergy to declare them as within Islam and in such manner as to suggest they are tacitly Shia.

Patrick Lang

ken hoop

I am very aware of the efforts of the alawi element in the Baath over the years to have 'Ulema say that they are Muslims. They are not for the reasons you state. Perhaps you remember the riots in Damascus years ago that wer caused by the provision in the syrian constitution that requires the president to bre a Muslim. As you know many 'Ulema and Qadi's are "for sale' all over the Islamic world. pl

Patrick Lang

Ken Hoop

Flournoy is a political tool. I understand that it has been made clear to the US government that she is incorrect. pl

Lysander

I'm curious if Aliwites accept converts to their religion, or if they are a closed sect, like Druze.

I'm actually quite positive about developments in both Egypt and Syria. In the former there is a new constitution and upcoming elections where the presidency will actually be contested and limited to two terms. Already my relatives are arguing about their preferences: Baradei, Ahmed Zuweil and others. (Amr Musa is mistrusted by the small circle I know.) Most importantly, protesting and dissent have become a habit. Danger lies ahead, I know, but there is progress. It is not surprising that the Army didn't simply role over and give up all of its privilege.

I have no proof of it, but I feel Syria will avoid all the sectarian strife that many fear (and some probably hope for)

Agree that Syrian foreign policy will continue to disappoint neocons and Israel fawners.

Rd.

Col.

Do you believe approving/supporting (not objecting) the SA incursion to Bahrain may have had any impact on the Iraqi decision re US troop presence?

JMH

Per her dod bio:

Prior to her confirmation, Ms. Flournoy was appointed President of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) in January 2007.

As Andrew Bacevich writes in Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War, CNAS exists to promote unending GCOIN, global counter insurgency.

Fiorangela

OT, to LeaNder re Caroline Glick video in US w/ D. Feith --

you commented elsewhere on the peculiar appearance of Glick's mouth. I see an immobile upper lip -- one of the markers of Fetal Alchohol Syndrome. http://www.writework.com/essay/fetal-alcohol-syndrome-its-symtoms-and-treatment/q/irreversible+brain+damage

If I recall correctly, Doris Lessing wrote extensively on FAS in her adopted child. No amount of love and dedicated and informed parenting could calm the demons that beset Lessing's FAS afflicted child.

Fiorangela

Is Iran-as-enemy an article of faith among military, ie. Col. Lang? I respect the colonel's experience and acknowledge his military, professional perspective. Does military training enforce the received narrative unquestioningly, ie. that Iran is an enemy, or is there a body of evidence that indicates that Iran does, indeed, intend to invade the US, destroy our cities, Sabinize our women, and impose a system of finance on the US that precludes usurious interest?

Fiorangela

PS speaking of destroying our cities -- I had business in Youngstown, Ohio, the other day. All I could repeat as I headed back to the airport was, "This is what a city looks like when it dies."

There are 80,000 people hanging on in Youngstown. The US congress gave $3.075 billion to Israel to buy more weapons, ~$530. per Israeli, who have an average GDP of $29,500 per capita in an economy that is growing by over 4% per year.

$3.075 lavished on the citizens of Youngstown would mean a boost of $38k per person in a year.

nah. why bother. it's a dead city, dig a hole & bury it.

Farooq

Sir,
I am very surprised about your assessment of Syria. To my inexperienced and untrained mind it almost seemed that Syria will fizzle out like Iran. I am actually astonished that in Yemen Salih is still there after defections in military.

On another note i wonder what is your assessment of future course for United States of America. Given how much political views and biases color such long term assessments of country in the media, i wonder if it is possible to have a very objective assessment based on current trajectory.

Roy G

Thanks, Col., it's interesting to get a 'scorecard' roundup of the region, along with your peerless prognostications. A couple of questions for you or anybody who'd care to take a shot:

Lebanon has been pushed off the front page by the Arab Spring uprisings, which also, perhaps unsurprisingly, delayed the UN Hariri assassination tribunal / stalking horse. Is this now dissipated due to other events in the region?

Israel, obviously, is apart(heid) from this grouping, but obviously their course is murky as well. What do you think about Netenyahu coming to rally the AIPAC troops? Are they still stuck on the Iran option, and how does that scenario change given recent events? Is Israel facing the new reality in their belligerent approach, given that their golem, the US, has been significantly diminished in its offensive options?

The Twisted Genius

Fiorangela,

I know General Zinni wanted to pursue a policy of engagement with Iran when he was CENTCOM Commander. I don't know how that idea went over in the Pentagon.

Patrick Lang

RoyG

He is coming to discipline Obama. pl

Patrick Lang

farooq

IMO you have to have some insight into internal political processes. pl

Patrick Lang

Fiorangela

The military accepts the policy position of the government. pl

Fiorangela

Thanks Patrick.
I'm the daughter of Italian peasants (ie. perpetual resistance, mistrust government) who grew up in US flower child era and eventually spent 3 hours on the Mall in Charlottesville in 3 degrees F. trying to shame Virgil Goode into opposing war on Iraq.

You say "military accepts policy position of government." Is that an "I obey" acceptance because I have sworn to obey, or is it, "I intellectually, prudentially, and morally accept the policy position of the government?"

My understanding is you are no longer active duty. Does that give you more freedom of thought and analysis?

What degrees of challenge to the "accepted" policies of government can be exercised by the active military?

--this is not personal, Col. Lang, and I apologize for the primary school nature of the questions. My background is in religion and as homemaker & mother; I'm seeking education on an aspect of American being-in-the-world that I know nothing about. Thanks.

Patrick Lang

Fiorangela

As a retired officer I am under no obligation to support the policy positions of the govenrment of the day. At the same time I feel obligated to do whatever I can to assist the country in the many hours of distress to which it seems determined to consign itself.

Active duty military personnel are under no obligation to agree with the government, but they ARE obligated by their oaths and UCMJ to be respectful towards the government and to obay its lawful orders. the position of people of the reserve components when not on active duty is less clear to me. pl

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