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28 March 2013


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William R. Cumming

Is there an equation of any existential threat to Israel is an existential threat to American life now the principle driver in US policy in MENA?

And why are the Saudis so unprincipled in their foreign relations in that all others must suffer before the Royal family does so?



You are mistaken about the neocons. They are a contnuing powerful 0resence behind the scenes, pushing, manipulating. The BHO Administration has no interest in actual information to the American people. pl

Neil Richardson

Dear Babak:

"I am led to conclude that only further nuclear proliferation in the ofrm of nuclear-armed states can maintain peace in this world."


Charles I

Who will be organized, disciplined, motivated, armed and funded on the ground when the shooting dies down to one way only?

Shame they aren't kept out by the locals in the first place

Charles I

Would a reduced Syria and a new and improved Iron Dome II, III be enough to discount all the rockets we're told will be fired from Lebanon?

Clifford Kiracofe

The Neocons as a policy network are most certainly influential today within the general foreign policy establishment and particularly within the Republican Party, McCain, Graham, etal.
Anyone familiar with Washington knows this.

As I just pointed out the other day, Elliott Abrams is alive and well at the uber-Establishment Council on Foreign Relations. Perle and all the rest of that generation are active as are the younger follow on generation.

AEI, a Neocon think tank, grinds out its papers and hustles the Hill and political establishment.

The foreign policy of the Republican Party is most certainly influenced by the Neocon network as is part of the Democratic Party like the Lieberman types.

The pro-Israel Lobby generally is influential and the Neocons are on the rightwing side of that Lobby.

Read the following Neocon strategy paper written by Wurmser and presented back in 1996 by IASPES:


Remembering that this is 1996, take a look around today at Washington and at Syria for example. This policy paper was in the group with the infamous Perle "Clean Break" paper.

Syria has been a target of the Neocons and the pro-israel Lobby for many years. A leading example of the long time anti-Syria "experts" is Dan Pipes, a Neocon. etc.

A casual glance at Congress and various anti-Syrian legislation on the books gives an indication of where political Washington is. To do this simply go to the THOMAS system of the Library of Congress and search term "Syria" for legislation as well as floor statements in the Congressional Record and so on. Fairly elementary research methodology which I have my college students do from time to time.

William R. Cumming

ThanksPL! Can anyone name names as to the neocons on government payrolls? Or am I naive to believe that some of the neocons want to stand up for their beliefs?

Clifford Kiracofe

"The 76-year-old Francis chose not to walk the procession itself, but was sitting in prayer overlooking the route and was to deliver some remarks at the end.

This year, the meditations read out at each of the stations of the cross were composed by young Lebanese faithful. Many of the prayers referred to the plight of Christians in the Middle East and called for religious freedom and an end to the terrorism..."

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/03/29/pope-prays-at-good-friday-procession-where-violent-fundamentalism-denounced/#ixzz2Oy7DaBgI


The German "supporters" of Bolsheviks in Russia weren't exactly benign in their motives either. They were, however, short-sighted: who cares what happens if Russia is knocked out of the war? Much the same thing in a host of other misguided ventures everywhere....

Babak Makkinejad

The neo-conservatives, in my opinion, are an alibi for a nation that is poorly led by her freely elected representatives.

That is why we are all here, a dissident site while the feely elected representatives of American people are busy making history.


One thing I've noticed about the Salafist jihadis, is they seem to be somewhat self limiting. Whenever they've had any success, it's been followed up with immediately trying to impose the strictest possible Saudi-inspired Islamic government as soon as they get a few square miles of territory, usually murdering former allies in the process. I've also noticed it's often backfired on them pretty spectacularly.

IIRC, it happened in Anbar province Iraq which lead to the Sunni tribes happily taking US support to wipe them out; it happened in Mali, which got the Tuareg allied with the Malian government and the French, and if the news of beheadings and assassination attempts can be believed it's happening in Syria right now. That's a pretty impressive record of creating alliances against themselves.

I don't know if a similar process is process could happen in Syria, if it does it would tend to favor the survival of the current regime.

William R. Cumming

From Wikipedia:

According to the 2010 German domestic intelligence service annual report, Salafism is the fastest growing Islamic movement in the world.

David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad,

I would not disagree that American and British policy has been such that a quite rational observer in Tehran could very easily conclude that the possession of a nuclear ‘deterrent’ was the only way that the regime could hope to avoid eventually falling victim either to devastating military attack or repeated attempts at subversion.

However, for reasons I have set out many times over the years on this blog, I am sceptical about the reliability of nuclear ‘deterrence’. What I would think, if I was an Iranian policymaker, I do not know. Both the Americans and ourselves seem determined to box your country into a corner where it has no very good options.

David Habakkuk

William R. Cumming,

I would defer to Colonel Lang and Clifford Kiracofe on the question of the continuing influence of the neoconservatives. However, having acquired a dog – actually quite a small one, a Shih Tzu – late in life, I have been struck by the way that, although generally an extremely sociable and good tempered creature, he sometimes develops obsessive hostilities to other dogs. The attitude of Washington and London to the regime in Tehran does seem to me to have something of this quality.


Sadly the US seems to be on the Salafist jihadis side in Syria.

Babak Makkinejad

My comments was not solely about Iran - if Syria were equipped with deliverable nuclear war heads; she could have pointed them at Ankara or Riyadh and pose the strategic question to Turks and Saudis.

I expect South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Algeria, Vietnam and Thailand to be candidates for further proliferation.

I do not think there is any other way.


Good question. I wonder how Hezbollah is faring.


Thanks for the article; interesting insight re the Russians' national history informing them on Syria's plight. How does real politic work in relation to one's allies? Has he developed appreciation or affection for Syria during his visits? I hadn't considered this angle before.


Maybe Hezbollah and the Lebanese Army will join forces to prevent a spill over.


And the unitary executive releases the legislature from responsibility.

As to your second point:


David Habakkuk


I have no claims to be an expert on Russia, but a couple of observations occur. One is that religious revival is a central fact of politics in the post-Soviet space, and – unlike Christians in the United States – the Russian Orthodox Church is acutely concerned with the fate of Christians in the Middle East. From an article in the NYT in May last year:

‘In his warnings, Patriarch Kirill I invokes Bolshevik persecution still fresh in the Russian imagination, writing of “the carcasses of defiled churches still remaining in our country”…

‘The issue of “Christianophobia” shot to the top of the church’s agenda a year ago, with a statement warning that “they are killing our brothers and sisters, driving them from their homes, separating them from their near and dear, stripping them of the right to confess their religious beliefs.” The metropolitan asked Mr. Putin to promise to protect Christian minorities in the Middle East.

‘“So it will be,” Mr. Putin said. “There is no doubt at all.”’

(See http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/world/europe/russian-church-opposes-syrian-intervention.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 )

As I understand it, Christians in Syria largely belong to the Orthodox and Armenian churches. While I would not want to overstate the importance of the religious element in shaping Russian foreign policy, it should be born in mind.

Central Russian concerns clearly relate to the Islamic populations of Russia and other parts of the former post-Soviet space. Most Russian Muslims, I believe, have traditionally been Sunnis with a strong sufi influence. As I understand it, sufis are regarded as under suspicion of innovation and idolatry by Wahhabists.

The Russian government has the strongest possible interest in avoiding bases for jihadists being established within striking reach of its territory. More generally, it has a strong interest in doing what it can to counter any increase in the influence of Saudi-backed Wahhabists, anywhere.

Neil Richardson

Dear Babak:

"If Syria were equipped with deliverable nuclear war heads; she could have pointed them at Ankara or Riyadh and pose the strategic question to Turks and Saudis. I expect South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Algeria, Vietnam and Thailand to be candidates for further proliferation. I do not think there is any other way."

You know back in the late 1960s and most of the 1970s, proliferation had been among the biggest concerns in political science (at least in security studies at the time). The projections at the time were that we'd have more than 20 nuclear weapons states by 2000. As I read the current discussions on proliferation, they are merely rehashing the same arguments that had emerged earlier.

I think the biggest concern that opponents of proliferation would point out is the transition toward developing a survivable deterrent force (i.e., credibility). During this period, a state would be highly vulnerable to preemption. Even if Iran were successfully detonate a device, it probably would not lessen Israel's incentive to preempt for years. The same applies to DPRK's nuclear inventory. The chairman of ROK JCS and the CFC CJ3 have already stated that preemption certainly would be under consideration if the United States and ROK see signs of a general invasion from the north. Also remember that by August 1969, the Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces had targeted the PRC (In October of that year Mao was certain that a preemptive nuclear strike would come as he had dispersed the PRC leadership). The Soviet leadership had queried the US on our potential response according to Kissinger.

And this is even before discussing so many incidents during the Cold War that had serious ramifications for crisis spiral. And this was really between two nuclear states who had a lot to lose (bipolarity). When you start adding a number of new potential nuclear states in proximate regions such as NE Asia, well one can see how it would create nightmares. It wouldn't take much to trigger a catastrophe if two or more states with less than credible deterrent capability were to put their nuclear forces on launch-on-warning posture during a crisis. And there's the question of how much Sadat did know about the Israeli nuclear inventory back in 1973.


So many angles and pieces. Thanks again.

Babak Makkinejad

Those are valid considerations, nevertheless, I stand by what I have written. Under the present conditions; there is no other way.

What you are saying is that states must have tens of nuclear weapons, ready to be fired in order to be able to respond to the other side's escalatory steps.

As for survivability: I have read that Pakistan is working on second-strike capability.

There is a limit that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey will go to destabilize Russia via her Muslim populations (about 10%).

Babak Makkinejad

So, US and EU states, nominally Christian states, have pursued policies that have resulted in the destruction of Christian communities in Palestine, in Iraq, and now in Syria.

And then you have the historical irony that the state that they have so endeavored to harm, the Islamic Republic of Iran, has emerged as the de facto protector of Christians in the Middle East.

God, evidently works in mysterious ways.

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