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18 December 2012


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I am interested in your thoughts on the kidnapped NBC journalist, whose name escapes me ATM. I have no reason to doubt the story for a second, but on the other hand, the story of the Shabibas telling them that they were trained by the Revolutionary Guard and were associated with Hezbollah just sounds too perfect.

The only checkbox they didn't tick off was telling them that they were ready to use chemical weapons.

Am I mistaking life for the movies?



Yes, it is all just too "neat." pl

Alba Etie

Col Lang
Could you please explain how President Obama has painted himself into a corner regarding Syrian Civil War stalemate ? How is it that we will be led to inevitable US intervention in this conflict ? Is it because BHO has said Assad has to go & we will lose face if Assad stays in power - even in a stalemated conflict ?



Could you please give us your assessment as to what the outcome of the current "stalemate" situation is likely to be in the absence of any qualitative change in outside intervention. Or the range of possible outcomes.



A prolonged stalemate is likely. morethan that i cannot discern. pl


Alba Etie

My style in this blog is to engage your mind. You should answer these questions for me and I will then "grade" your answers. pl


Does intervention include the possibility of negotiations without conditions? Or will the USG stick by its intransigence and demand that Assad surrender before any negotiations?

Certainly, US intransigence makes stalemate or military intervention the only outcomes. Either way, the destruction of Syria will continue for the foreseeable future.

Al Arabist

Well, first all palestinian infrastructure within syria is being wrecked and the solidarity of all those with pal. passports---blue to the syr. green- are certainly driven to fight with each other. Mind you the blue passport people have a LOT of solidarity, probably better than any pals. around the world. Or should I say they 'had.'

FB Ali

David Ignatius in the WP has a 'report' of the Syrian regime moving chemical weapon constituents -- possibly to Lebanon!


Shades of Curveball!


FB Ali

It's all BS fed to him by CIA as a matter of state policy. The government of the US has no idea what the Syrians are doing with their chem stockpiles. pl


It was Richard Engel. Even better, after said firefight 'rescued' him and his crew they were driven through the night to a 'rebel' safe house and then across the border. Assad's oh so threatening army? Nowhere to be seen. Neither are any of the bodies of those 'pro Assad Shiite militiamen - trained by Iran's Revolutionary Guard and allied with Hezbollah' - killed in the rescue! because, while we dotted all the I's (Iran!) and crossed all the t's (rebel's good!) in this report, there was not a single camera anywhere that could take a photo of the dead. Surely they didn't just get up and walk away?

Mr. Engel ""I think I have a very good idea who they were," Mr. Engel told NBC of his captors." Evidence, well what's that? There's no way this was a kidnapping for money, nor even a false flag operation - because after almost a week this Iranian trained (remember, that's the oh so effective training we in America have to stop) group is still in an area Mr. Engel thinks is 'rebel' held. All those other pro-Assad militiamen, the Syrian Army, anybody with a damned camera - why they're nowhere to be seen.

Not to fear, I'm sure he's so unlike Judith Miller. Now about that 'evidence'?

Alba Etie

Col Lang
Thank you for the engagement of ideas here. My lay man's opinion is that the BHO administration is trying to course correct itself from to much neocon , Wilsonian driven foreign policy making in the first term . And part of that course correction involves not getting deeper into the Syrian Civil war. I also believe that it is self evident that the course correction is ongoing because we are not at war in Persia either. I do not know how Sec of State John Kerry would help the 2nd term course correction away from the neocon agenda - but am fairly confident that Sec of Defense Hagel would not be in support of action in Syria or Persia.

Alba Etie

Do you believe that BHO will invade Syria -the way Dubya did Iraq ?


"You should answer these questions for me and I will then "grade" your answers."

Obama's foreign policy is dominated by the neo-Wilsonians/globalists, who are only differentiated by their neocon kin (liberal/SDS types from the 60s, mostly Jewish, who believed a strong US military could be used as a club against unfriendly regimes in the MENA). They have fed him much a lot of fantasy presented as fact that Assad's 'regime' in Damascas will fall anyday, much how Rumsfield was always insisting we have turned the corner every few months in Iraq.

There is also the little matter of the recalcitrant Security Council refusing to allow another Libya to happen under their noses. Susan Rice believed she could talk to Putin like a naughty child and he would concede to US wishes? I see. Meanwhile, quotes by Russian officials are taken out of context and fed to an unquestioning US public (more on this) while the Russian Navy moving another two squadrons into the Med goes unreported.

Saudi Arabia and Israel have been working together behind the scenes to fund, train, and transport jihadis to Syria, and both are heavyweights around DC who have high expectations, I imagine, of the US riding in like the cavalry when their offensive falters. I'm sure there's also a prickly question of Assad attempting to put the cat among the birds by exposing this hypocrisy to the Islamic world, but that's just from where I'm sitting. I believe I've read on here that the Saudis are, by and large, able to live with massive hypocrisy.

Finally, the US public has been led to believe by its mainstream news outlets that Syria is primed to fall at any time, and it will be Libya 2 - but with less ambassadors raped to death by angry mobs. Every news story swoons over handsome and dashing rebels fighting against jackbooted thugs. Or something.

So why would Obama have to attack? His pride, for one thing. He has a massive ego and the fact that Assad did not simply bend over and take the rape and cold storage in a supermarket that Qaddafi got probably befuddles him on some level. If Assad is still drinking tea and eating layali lubnan a year from now, well maybe he's not the One that was prophesized. There is also the not so small matter of the self righteousness that Obama and his foreign policy crew have cloaked themselves in, where all sacrifices are worthwhile in the name of some vague "democracy" as long as some other poor schmuck is one making them. No death is too horrible, not even the undeclared drone war killing 160+ children in Pakistan alone to fight 'terra'.

Add to this the pressure the Israeli and SA lobbies will apply, and Obama's rhetoric thinking of himself as a global Lincoln, and eventually we'll see yet another foolish action in the MENA sphere.


Someone please explain why Assad's downfall means that Hezbullah would be neutralized. It terms of military capability, it would not be disarmed or entirely cut off from Iranian assistance. In terms of political capacity, its position in Lebanon no longer depends on external forces. Indeed, it could conceivably gain from an end to the Syrian link.

Finally, nobody has any confidence in predicting who (if anyone) would come out on top in Syria - much less what their attitude toward Hezbullah, Israel, Palestine or the US would be. The idea that an Islamist leadership, of whatever oientation, would place such a premium on becoming part of the pax-Israeliana/Americana/Saudiana in order to glean some economic crumbs is less than persuasive. Let's remember that the main reason that the 3 Sunni autocratic states tolerated the status quo was the fear that an upheaval could generate radical new political forces in the region. So what happens when forces of that kind are in Damascus?

I admit to both ignorance as to the elements at play in a multi-dimensional equation and a lack of a reliable crystal ball. I should hope that the Obama people would make the same admission.

Alba Etie

Col Lang
The biggest difference between Iraq & Syria - is that the neocons were able to use the mass grief and fear from the 911 attacks to conflate Saddam , WMD & al Qaida - to justify their illegal occupation . I personally just do not see the neocons stampeding us into Syria. Respectfully what am I missing that says we will be in Syria in the near future ?



IMO what we will see is an aerial intervention and blockade as well as supply of rebel forces. pl

The Twisted Genius

Like Alba Etie, I'm not convinced that our intervention in Syria is inevitable. Before we recognized the Syrian Opposition, we designated their most effective fighting force as a terrorist organization. That's a pretty big obstacle. I think there's a big battle in the Administration between those who believe the propaganda and those who see through the bullshit. I'm also encouraged by Harper's report that the Israelis aren't too thrilled about a jihadist victory in Syria.


TTG and AE

I will be happy if you are correct. pl


It feels a little strange to be cheering Putin on whenever he addresses the issue of Syria. I think he understands the heart of the matter though. A Sunni victory is a victory for extremism and as the president of a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional country he has little interest in that.

Is part of the problem our splendid isolation? When your guarded by two oceans you never have to pay the price for naive meddling.

Alba Etie

Col Lang
And the Patriot deployment is just the prelude to the blockade -as in no fly zone ? Given the abject wreck of the EU economy- will the other NATO members go along with even a limited intervention in Syria?
I do not know - but from here I guess we keep an eye on what Turkey does.

Alba Etie

I am praying that Obama's ego is not as massive as we all fear.
Glad to see you post here again.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.



!- The policy of the US is regime change. 2- We have enticed NATO into a similar position. 3 - The US and a 100 other countries have recognised the rebel collection of bits and pieces as the government of Syria. This government can now request our intervention. 4 -Obama is now channelling Lincoln in a full blown display of hubris. 5- The initial costs of the intervention will be paid out of "sunk costs in the air force and navy.

I don't see how he escapes the consequences of his actions to date. pl

Clifford Kiracofe

Russian warships are said to be headed for Syria. The official reason, the Kremlin says, is to be prepared for any mass evacuation of Russian citizens of which there are about 100,000 there who are Russian women married to locals and their children. There are an addition 5,000 or so Russians working in Syria.

Not being a military strategist, I wonder what is the significance, if any, of this deployment. Could it interfere with a US-NATO intervention?

Could Russia or China introduce weapons systems which would complicate the US-NATO intervention? Iskanders? Or?

Russia's only external naval facility is in Syria. Are there factors of Russian strategy and/or prestige which would lead Moscow to undertake moves to complicate a US-NATO intervention?

On the prestige factor, at what point does Russia have to respond seriously to the US moves perceived as threatening? So far it has been a matter of rhetoric, UNSC action, and moving forward strategic nuclear deterrence but what else might be in store?

Is there a realistic possibility of a US/NATO intervention expanding not just to a war with Iran but to armed confrontation with Russia? What if the US intervention results in the deaths of Russian citizens?

POTUS escapes, IMO, owing to such factors as Congress is bought by the pro-Israel lobby, members are cowards, members are stupid, members are self-serving, and the media is owned largely by pro-Israel interests.

There is no Congress to oppose the Imperial Presidency so there is no Constitutional separation of powers but rather a usurpation of power by the Executive allowed and encouraged by Congress. By transferring powers to the Executive, the politicians in Congress avoid accountability..."he did it" not us. Thus we have an Imperial Presidency with Congress as a nullity. Time for more "States Rights"...

Charles I

Perhaps the theory is that the Syrian endgame will prompt a few missiles that could be used as a pretext for a major aerial campaign against HB, muddying the Lebanese waters yet again prior to a full scale assault on Iran

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