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24 March 2013


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A simple question demands a simple answer - Yes!

William R. Cumming

YES we are that ignorant.

FB Ali

The US was once the undisputed Super Power of the world. Bush Jr paid put to that with his disastrous Iraq and Afghan wars. Watching Kerry now strut this imperial hubris stuff is quite comical!


Casting Kerry as Spock is highly illogical.



I had exactly the same reaction when I read the story this morning. There is a related element. Apparently, kerry said that if the Iraqis didn't cooperate, they'd risk not be invited to participate in the post-war international planning for Syria. That's to say, we expect to take the lead in placing Syria under some sort of custodianship a la Afghanistan. Whoever might come out on top in Syria, and the Iraqis, would be denied the freedom to choose which governments they can talk to. All this at a time when resentment among the Syrian opposition over the lack of external increases the odds on a strong strain of xenophobia (this holds whatever one may thing of the idea of providing help - and is contingent of course on Assad toppling).

Kerry never has been an original or even independent thinker - unlike Hagel. But one assumed that he had more common sense, sense of reality and free from cant than the likes of Hillary et al. Evidently, that assumption was mistaken.

Stupid? I couldn't think of a better word - other than insane.



Two things wrong with the US view of Syria. 1- the Syrian revolution was born in the Sunni mosques from a population that has always had deep salafi/MB connections. the Baath in Syria has always been made up of non-salafi Sunnis, shia and alawis. this coalition has struggled endlessly with the salafi element in the population. this has always been a revolt that had sunni motivation with Saud support. it is part of a larger Saudi policy. somehow the idea has been sold that this started as a secular anti-baath rebellion. It did not. Maliki kknows that as do the Iranians. 2- The notion that the US will have any "say" in a post Assad government is hysterically funny."



Live long and pompously. pl

William R. Cumming

DH and PL! Lacking emotion and passion the Spock alterego of Kerry seems appropriate.

Only the obtuse marry for money!

Babak Makkinejad

Iranian leaders, as far as I can tell, make a distinction between Salafis and Ikhwan. They are willing to work with Ikwan and will backwards and forwards to accommodate them. On the other hand, Salafis are beyond the pale for them since Salafis have rejected both Tradition and Reason.


On the bright side Kerry lost in 2004.


A few more words on personalities. That Kerry should do and say those ridiculous things suggests strongly that he is quite prepared to play the faithful loyalist who obediently executes whatever silly instructions come from the White House. So who in the White House is sending those instructions? Barack Obama, Ben Rhodes on the NSC - the failed novelist who apparently has his ear,Donilon, Susan Rice, Chief of Staff McDonough who was no 2 at the NSC.

I know one person on the NSC staff who has just been put in charge of Iraq and Iran - Phil Gordon. I worked with him in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Oddly he is a West Europe man who served as ssistant Secretary for Europe. He is fluent in French and German; In fact, he did the translations for both Vedrine's and Sarkozy's book. He is exceptionally intelligent with a rare feel for foreign policy and diplomacy. He was a skeptic on Iraq who very early on wrote an insightful article on the grand neo-con vision for the Middle East while declaring his agnosticism. He then kept his mouth shut until 2007 when he published a very sensible book om American thinking about the islamic world. The Islamic country he knows best is Turkey.

Gordon is also a cautious man - in part for personal family reasons and modest means. He may be beyond that stage. I would be very comfortable having him take a leading role in implementing the diplomacy for a new strategy re Iran or any other trouble spot. Will he be an advocate? Probably not - only a skeptical voice about the use of military force and a realist about consequences. If so, not out in front or at the risk of affronting his boss. He would be a natural ally for Hagel.


Kerry's hubris is incredible, but not surprising. Typical neoliberal globalist.

Sir, what do you think of the events in Cyprus in regards to the banking crisis there? It seems the EU wants to fund the bailout through giving the Russian investors a haircut. How will Putin respond if this goes through?

Nasreddin Hodja

Is the breaking up of Iraq and of Syria a possible outcome?

If so, would the sunni tribes of Iraq join forces with their kins in Syria?

Will a version of Colonel Peters‘ map become reality?

Would Israel feel free to expel large amounts of Palestinians and simultaneously make border corrections at the expense of Lebanon, Jordan or Egypt in case of a major war in the region?

How about a scenario like this:

Syria collapses.

The war spills over into Iraq.

The Kurds of Syria announce their merger with Iraqi Kurdistan.

Iraq violently breaks up into three parts.

Turkish troops march into Kurdistan and Syria.

Israel attacks Hizbullah positions in Lebanon and bombs Iran‘s nuclear facilities.

Iran strikes back at Israel. Major casualities give Israel a pretext to use tactical nukes to take out Iran‘s nuklear sites.

The international financial system collapses.

In the ensuing chaos and protracted war, Israel annexes territories in Lebanon, the Sinai and Jordan, and expels hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.



Who is "Colonel Peters" and what is "his map?" If you mean Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters, why would you care what he thinks or writes? pl

William Fitzgerald

Pat Lang,

I'm in the yes camp on your question. We have a long standing tendecy to believe our own propaganda, much of which emanates from interest groups. The only interest that ought to matter should be the national interest, realistically and rationally defined. The Syria question is an example of that tendency. Does anyone think we should be pursuing a "balance of power" policy in the Near East? I ask because it seems to me that we are in the position of fully supportig the objectives of the Israeli/Saudi condominium of interests there. They are strange bed-fellows and not an alliance, but seem to have common objectives, which are not always ours. The other side of the power equation, Iran, Syria and perhaps Turkey,could be a useful balance were we not invariably on the other side.




I hope you understand that it was a rhetorical question. pl

William R. Cumming

MBrenner! Thanks for the discussion of Phil Gordon and obviously one to watch carefully.

How about a new hypothesis for the USA and Syria! We know that President Obama does not lack for ego and that he prides himself on his brilliance as a Constitutional lawyer [never having argued a case or filed a brief with SCOTUS] and that he prides himself on being smarter than any around him but Michelle. He holds his cards close to the vest and maniuplates the MSM quite well including stories about his advisors and confidants.

So beliving in tricle down theories in many disciplines, Obama has decided to promote and prolong the Syrian civil war as long as possible even until he leaves office. Why?

The Syrian civil war to some extent checkmates countries [perhaps stalemates them is better wording] including Israel, Turkey, Iran,Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the Kurds and others by letting all know Syria must be resolved before any other matters in that geographic area. And the US will do just enough to keep that civil war going, either by helping the insurgents, or by allowing Iraq and Iran and others to assist the Assad regime. Of course this concept is held only by the President himself who now knows that he may have escaped accountability for Iraq but that will not happen for Afghanistan. And that the one thing he cannot do whether in MALI or Syria or elsewhere actually openly deploy and utilize US power.

By the way, Russia has an outstanding loan to Cyprus of about $4B and almost certainly Putin has stashed money there so expect repercussions of the haircut of depositors.

Could the CIA have orchestrated the Cyprus collapse? The CIA employs more economists than linguists.


Can anyone disabuse me of a simplistic hypothesis that sheer disorder in the Arab world, that is, the elimination of power structures, social capital, and attendant capacity for self-assertion, is viewed by some or many of those in power as a form of success to be happy about if the installation of malleable regimes fails? That is, the disorder outcome is less desirable, but as long as business can go on as usual under private security, and no one can create a threatening military, then it is considered an improvement? with human costs written off under some tortured form of "their lives aren't worth living until they are an imitation of ours"


"5) This leaves only one possible outcome: a US/NATO/Israel (and probably Turkey) attack on Syria to cover an Israeli attack on Lebanon. To be followed by the Iran war.

There's no other possible outcome."

I think we need to start pool.


"The Syrian civil war to some extent checkmates countries [perhaps stalemates them is better wording] including Israel, Turkey, Iran,Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the Kurds and others by letting all know Syria must be resolved before any other matters in that geographic area. And the US will do just enough to keep that civil war going, either by helping the insurgents, or by allowing Iraq and Iran and others to assist the Assad regime."

He was smart enough to leave the healthcare bill to the professionals. As I understand it he was rolled on Afghanistan, being made to try COIN. If he is actually in a position to execute orders, and not just a puppet of the military and special interests, I think you're on to something. I don't think he wants to be the president on whose watch the international economy collapsed, and I do think he wants to connect with Iran.


"Could the CIA have orchestrated the Cyprus collapse?"

I think the banking sector did this one all by itself.

William Fitzgerald

I so realize. I do wonder why it has to be this way.


William R. Cumming

Could a re-established Caliphate contest for world power status?


An ingenius strategic idea. However, I am skeptical that BO is capable of devising something that clever since all his other clever plans on domestic as well as foreign matters have been rather adolescent. Then of course we are not in a position to implement it, lacking the influence and the skill. Don't these situations which look to be deadlocked for the indefinite future usually break one way or another quite suddenly - especially in so tightly configured a physical, political and diplomatic space as is Syria? That should happen well before Obama begins work on his memoirs.



No for several reasons. 1 - the Shia like Babak would never cooperate. The caliphate was always a Sunni institution. 2- the Muslims of the world are too divided politically and doctrinally for any such thing to develop. 3- The Sunnis would have to abandon the mental straight-jacket they are in because of their aversion to innovation in all things. this self imposed handicap is completely self defeating. pl

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