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18 October 2012


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Clifford Kiracofe

Yes. Here is a longer study, May 2012, by Aron Lund:


So all this isn't known inside the Beltway? The Obama Administration is not aware of all this? Romney and company are not aware of all this? Susan Rice is not aware of all this? Mrs. Clinton is not aware of all this? Samantha Power is not aware of all this? The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is not aware of all this? And so on.

So where does Obama's policy come from? Why do Republicans support the policy? Just why?

Magical thinking...."shared values"...Let's see how O and R handle Syria on Monday.



We posted his longer study on SST on 19 September. pl

Al Spafford


Has Thomas Ricks flipped? Kagan, Kristol "...some of the most thoughtful conservatives around ..." on such matters as Syria?

Clifford Kiracofe


Missed it, thanks. Even more reason that some of the data in the paper should be more widely known around town.

I was not clear, my point is that available open source information indicates US Syria policy has been a disaster from the start. Data and analyses about the players, the role of Saudi, Qatar, jihadis, etal, weapons have been available open source as the situation has unfolded over the past 18 months. Regional and country specialists in various parts of the Federal government are aware of the situation. A reasonable assessment does not require esoteric all source fusion on this.

Yet we have a policy disaster caused by the politicians and their political appointees approaching the catastrophic should regional war/general war break out.

Here are Syria papers posted at the influential Council on Foireign Relations website. They reflect general "Establishment" thinking. Add to these the products from other paper mills such as Haim Saban's Saban Center at Brookings and various other Neocon and non-Neocon think tanks. The dominant "Establishment" (Democrat and Republican) Syria policy recommendations are interventionist/pull down Assad:

Republicans have signed on to Obama's Syria policy and want to go even further faster. Not too bright.

Can Romney make a successful flip-flop on Syria? He has demostrated excellent flip-flop skills.

That is, drop the present Obama policy and seek a political settlement through diplomatic means not requiring Assad to step down. For example, as a way out, why not support the UN process and the Eid ceasefire proposal? Such a policy, of course, would lead to cooperation with Russia and China on the matter and regional powers such as Iran...perhaps too much for the Neocons and Humanitarian Interventionists and their magical thinking and "shared values." But flip-flops can happen. cliff



That's because you are ahead of the curve, instead of being like the reactive clowns in Babylon-on-the-Potomac. They're too caught up in their respective fever dreams - liberal interventionist, neo-conservative, zionist (the senior partner to the other two groups, most likely) - to seek advisement from those not in thrall to these ideologies. Nope, they'll wait 'til the wheels come off before realistic, evidence-backed alternatives are considered. And even then, the bi-partisan wool will be pulled over the nation's eyes. Red, white, and blue CYA.

Oh, and off-thread, but not really, I note that a 50-page report, "Death of a Dictator: Bloody Vengeance in Sirte", has been issued by Human Rights Watch wherein are laid out (with documentation) war crimes committed by the insurgents who caught Ghadhafi. I'm sure that this will be perused in Syria, and the appropriate conclusions drawn.

The report is available at this link:


Click on "Read the Report".


Far too simplistic. Are you forgetting the corruption and violence with which the regime's rule is maintained? Is the broader Arab Spring nothing at all to do with Syria's revolt? Furthermore, even if sectarianism plays a major part in the revolt, isn't it obvious that minority rule fosters sectarianism in a way that majority rule wouldn't?
A typical class of officer cadets will contain 90% non-Sunni when the country is 70% Sunni.
I noticed that a previous post cast the regime as a protector of minorities (specifically Christian). Whoever wrote that post has clearly never lived in Syria, nor comprehended how venal minority leaders actually are. The Christian population in Syria has diminished under Baathist rule. But most of the bishops prefer to promote their own narrow interests, as told to me by disgusted members of their flock, including their own family members. Sectarian rivalry has existed since long before the revolt.

In some parts of the country sectarianism is now blatant,e.g. in Homs, and has a history a lot older than the Baathists. But that is inflamed largely due to the sectarian nature of the regime's violence. Even many Alawis are well aware that the Assad family have played the sectarian card to their advantage.

This is not to say that future bodes well. Sectarianism will likely increase. But it is not correct to say that those people who support the regime are not sectarian or that those who oppose the regime are. You simply disrespect the brave people who have stood up to this regime and to their own narrow minded communities.


Clifford Kiracofe said...

“I was not clear, my point is that available open source information indicates US Syria policy has been a disaster from the start”

The Iraq and Afghan policies have been a failure.. The Iran policy has been a failure, ME, etc.. the list goes on.. Obviously, no one is being scored on these policies.. so one can presume, the failures will continue till it hurts beyond limit.


Atheist Aleppine

You need to learn how to spell "atheist." "Simplistic," is a code word used by second rate professors to tell student victims that they don't agree with them. The Syrian government is corrupt and violent? All governments in the ME are corrupt and violent. The one you would impose on the Syrian people would be equally corrupt and violent. I prefer a corrupt, violent government that is not a theocracy. BTW, you sent me a dummy e-mail address. that's a banning offense here. pl

Clifford Kiracofe

Yes, and what that limit is remains to be seen. 2016? 2020?

The interventionist foreign policy of the Establishment (Democrat and Republican) is a consensus.

The consensus is created by the Council on Foreign Relations and a variety of think tanks.

Congress is dominated by the consensus. The US newsmedia is a propaganda outlet for the consesus.

A few progressive Democrats speak out. A few Republicans like Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan speak out. But that is about it.

FB Ali

You obviously have an axe to grind in this matter.

The Assad regime was not generally sectarian before the fighting started. Sure, it favoured Alawis, but it did not oppress the other sects. Once the fighting started, it has indeed become a sectarian conflict. Whatever the outcome, sectarianism will be rife in Syria for a long time.

Sectarianism is not the issue; the issue is Salafi jihadism. This is bad not only for the West but also for the Muslim world generally. The triumph of Salafi-Wahabi ideology among Muslims will set them back several centuries.

Assad and his supporters are no angels, but they are the lesser evil.


Now I understand. Assad is a bastard, BUT he's our bastard.


Apologies for the misspelling.
Email is a dummy because I don't wish to reveal my contact details. I'm surprised you've just noticed, as I've been commenting on this blog for years using various dummy addresses, such as abc@def.com. If this is not acceptable, goodbye and good luck.

Simplistic means simplistic. The conflict is complex,and it has different causes in different areas.In some areas it is certainly sectarian.
And finally, I certainly do not want any form of theocracy because I am sick and tired of being bullied by ignorant, corrupt and ultimately self-defeating people. I don't have a problem with religious people of any persuasion, but I believe in a social contract negotiated between people. Salafis and Baathists are both bullies to me.

Reluctantly, I have to agree with FB Ali's comment that Salafis are a danger. That is not to say that they have a broad appeal among Syrians - simply that they seem to have taken the initiative.

The most tragic aspect of this rebellion is that the good intentions of decent people will amount to nothing if, as the Colonel suggests, the choice is between corrupt Baathists or corrupt Salafists. Some of us actually have to live there. The corruption is killing the poor because the state has been gutted by the Baathists. They are well and truly incapable of governing properly.

I asked a wealthy businessman what percentage of his income he pays in taxes. He said one in a thousand. He was, and still is, fully against the rebellion as are many similarly devout Sunnis and conservatives of all persuasions. What I can't stand about fearful conservatives is that they ignore the train crash that is the country, refuse to do anything constructive, rightly blame the restrictions imposed on them by the government, then fail to change the government.

Syria is getting poorer at an alarming rate. It may well be that this rebellion is premature and doomed to fail. The next one will be even uglier because the state is too weak,corrupt and violent to find a practical way forward.


I believe one of the key differences between a secular dictatorship and a religious one, is that in one case you are fine as long as you don't do politics and don't challenge too much the established order, whereas in the second case the religious fanatics also want to control your thoughts. That is a huge difference. I am not sure all these well intentioned people in the West really understand this and the implications...
The point Pat Lang has been making time and time again about the objectives of Islamic political movements is absolutely correct: the final objective is to put in place a theocracy. The means to get there are varied, going from violent confrontation to slow transformational change, but the goal remains. And when they get there, western style democracy is not going to be on board. The non-muslims and the reconstructed muslims are not going to have fun.



I spot check e-mail addresses. You have been lucky. you sought to deceive me and so you are banned. If you wish to believe that revolution in Syria will produce good government, good luck to you! pl


Clifford Kiracofe said in reply to Rd....

"Yes, and what that limit is remains to be seen. 2016? 2020?"

When the $$$$ hit the bottom line. once the pocket is hurting, we'll see a policy change. for now, bus. as usual, I am affraid.

Alba Etie

Mr Kiracofe
Are we to make anything of the Turkish government calling for a cease fire ? Is there any hope that we are seeing a drawback of support for the Salafist insurgents in Syria ? And there was a suicide bombing in a mosque South East Iran this morning ?
Would the Sauds or the Qatari government be trying to instigate unrest in Persia at this time ? There have been loose talk about Hizbollah sending armed fighters to Syria - where is the MEK in all these moving chess pieces ? ( Its disgusting to me that both former Gov Howard Dean & former Gov Tom Ridge are now mouth pieces for the MEK - wonder who is paying for that bit of MEK whore mongering ? )

Clifford Kiracofe

Interview with General Aoun, Arabic with English subtitles:


This interview was blacked out in the US press as far as I can tell.

Convenient car bomb in Beirut today in a Christian neighborhood. Qui bono?


"Assad and his supporters are no angels, but they are the lesser evil."

Do we have a dog in this fight at all? I know that the Obama Administration has called for Assad to step down, but what have we really done to further "regime change" in Syria? It certainly isn't Libya, is it?

I prefer a policy of nonintervention. The Iran-Syria/Assad axis is hostile to us, but "our friends, the Saudis" are equally noxious to me. I don't see that we should be choosing sides between the two camps at all. If I am wrong in this assumption, I would appreciate somebody much more knowledgeable about the Middle East to educate me (sincerely!) what our national policy should be for Syria and the Middle East in general.

PS. It goes without saying that I look to neither the current administration nor "say anything Mitt" for constructive guidance on what our policy should be.

Cliffiord Kiracofe


The UN has suggested a ceasefire for EID. It is symbolic. Given the dynamics in the region it will be difficult to stop the disintegration and violence now, IMO. I don't doubt the Saudis and Qataris are looking for trouble and stirring the pot anywhere they can.

Some Hizb volunteers are reported in Syria defending small Shia villages along the Lebanon border. Also, volunteers from Iraq are reportedly assisting their brethren in Syria.

The MEK is a terrorist cult with a very good lobby in Washington DC. They themselves have plenty of money to buy the services of any US politician so inclined. This is why they were delisted: the politicians were for sale. This is the norm inside the Beltway.


I do wonder if this is why East Asian dictatorships seem to be more stable, economically and politically, than their Western (defined broadly) counterparts--accounting for, say, natural resources availability. PRC and Communist Vietnam repressive dictatorship, but they do not seem to try very hard to impose a rigid and conformist Communist theology upon the masses (except during Mao's last years and probably in SV after NV conquered it). Park and Chun ran a harsh authoritarian regime in South Korea, but they didn't believe in much and didn't demand their countrymen "believe" a particular "religion." The closest thing there is to religious extremism in East Asia is North Korea, and even there, there is no "true believer" in the pseudo religion based around the Kim family--and, still, it is the worst basketcase of them all, in every sense imaginable.

You are absolutely right, I think, that religious dictatorship is far more intrusive and illiberal than a secular one, and as such, much more likely to bring strife and misery to their subjects. Promoting religious authoritarianism just because they oppose secular authoritarians is a dangerous delusion....


Clifford Kiracofe said...

"Convenient car bomb in Beirut today in a Christian "

Yes very convenient for the Izis who are unable to deal with Hezbollah, hence resorting to internal strife in Lebanon.

This general hassan guy, head of ISF, appears to be a shady character with hands into too many cookie jars..

"A 2010 investigative piece published by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that UN investigators scrutinized al-Hassan as a possible suspect in the Hariri assassination. The investigators considered his alibi to be "weak and inconsistent...[he is] a possible suspect in the Hariri murder."

Al-Hassan said he was studying for an exam at the Lebanese University on the day of Hariri's assassination, and therefore excused himself from tending to his bodyguard duties. Phone records showed that al-Hassan made 24 calls in the morning of the assassination, though he claimed he was studying. "

sounds like liquidating a potential eye witness may be a bulls eye.


Norbert M. Slamon

Thank you for the link. Also enjoyed the interview below.

Clifford Kiracofe


Just a matter of time for spillover into neighboring countries. We are 18 months into this. As Col. Lang has pointed out, the US policy is simply to take Assad down with no consideration of the consequences. This has been enunciated by POTUS himself.

Libya was an Anglo-French war in which the US participated. The present Anglo-French war against Syria also has US participation. Sykes-Picot with a twist and update. But the White House and Congress have never heard of messrs. Sykes and Picot. Yes? No?...(No as they are too stupid.)

The local allies, Saudi and Qatar, are in the Anglo-French mix as well as in the US mix. So the game is more complicated than it may appear. Of course, the Zionists are in the mix: in Israel, in the US, in the UK and in France, in Riyadh and Doha, and so on.

I suppose this is not really "regime change" as there does not seem to be anything organized and serious to change to. So let's call it regime destruction. Chaos for chaos' sake (apologies to Gautier etal) has an aesthetic appeal to Neocons.

We will have to "await developments" per the car bomb(s?). Looking at the photos in the Lebanese press it involved a fair amount of high explosives given the blast effects. It is not clear to me if Hassan happened to be on the street/in a car or whatever and was the target. Perhaps he just happened to be there? It is not clear to me yet that he was the primary target. The first reports said Gemayel's office was the target. Reports so far are rather vague about the event although many are quick to blame Syria. But qui bono? So let's see how the reporting develops over the next few days.

If Romney would drop the Neocons and do a flip flop, he could blame the disintegrating situation in the region on the US "regime change" policy of Obama re Syria. He could bemoan the Beirut situation and so on. But the Republicans themselves bought into Obama's regime change policy. Very stupid but not surprising given the degradation of the Republican Party.

So now the region is bathed in blood and Americans can watch the proceedings on TV/Internet over cocktails in the comfort of their homes and feel good about all those "shared values" we have with the jihadis. We will hear more about these "shared values" on Monday night it would seem.

Clifford Kiracofe

Glad they were helpful. Blackout of the Aoun interview in the US press. The pro-Israel corporate media places a bubble over the US but with Internet and satellite and a little imagination one can get around this...for now.

Babak Makkinejad

You evidently are ignoring what transpired in China between 1948 to 1982.

Or what was going on in USSR between 1934 to 1953.

Yes, I suppose Madlestahm could have his concubines and drink vodka and later die in a concentration camp.

I suppose that would make a difference to some people.

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