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21 June 2013


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The problem with Yusuf's analysis here is that the goal of a peace conference is not a good faith" effort. The sole goal of the US and "friends" is to bring the Syrian government to a meeting where they can surrender power. The idea that the present Syrian government could survive the departure of its constitutional head is absurd. The result of such a surrender would be the collapse of government, a government that represents all the minorities as well as the non-jihadi Sunnis. Chaos would follow and the US would find itself committed to another ten year pacification campaign. the Europeans would soon retreat to lick their economic wounds. pl


Agree Colonel.

There are also other some nice ponies in Yusuf's analysis: First he explains how the Nusra fighters are the better ones that take others in, next he wishes "Those who do not accept for political or ideological reasons should be confronted."

So the Idris FSA which does not really exist is supposed to fight down the Takfiris? Nice idea but totally unrealistic.

It is by the way completely false to say "Obama has now decided to send arms".

Obama has been sending arms from the beginning. The ambassador in Benghazi was killed over some conflict of who would get the next assorted load of Libyan arms. The NYT reported of 3,500 tons Croatian arms flown from Al Udeit airbase to Turkey and distributed under the watch of the CIA. The last big batch of MANPADS (120) and ATGMs (250) has been delivered about a month ago. New Croatian sourced arms are now showing up in south Syria.

All those arms have come under U.S. control from U.S. allied countries transported through U.S. friendly countries and were delivered under U.S. eyes. To say that the U.S. only now starts to deliver weapons is just propaganda. It has organized the major weapon flow from the very beginning.

FB Ali

The problem with Yusuf's solution -- compel the opposition, if necessary by military force, to unite under the 'moderate' Gen Idris -- is the age-old one: who will bell the cat? Who is going to send in troops to bring this about?

Under the circumstances, it is a good solution in theory, but cannot work in practice.


Mr. Lang,
I go further: With states that the US have designated for regime change, negotiations are NEVER the goal of a peace conference a good faith effort. They are merely venues for these states to offer their unconditional surrender.

That is the essence of America's political problems ever since they have adopted regime change as a policy. It precludes compromise. Once the words 'regime change' have been uttered, there is no turning back.

And it unerringly leads to escalation, since acknowledgement of failure and the corresponding loss of face not being an option, the US inevitably doubles down.

What? Sanctions don't work? Well, tougher sanctions sure will! They don't work either? Then let's try more of the same - even tougher sanctions! It still doesn't work? Oh, gee, then let's just bomb them lest they win (i.e. the targeted regime survives) and this thing takes forever. Let's see ... any mushroom clouds on the horizon? No? Then we must try harder. Anybody knows any exiles who have seen any?

The remarkable continuity on the subject of regime change from Clinton over Bush to Obama speaks for itself.

Heck, the US haven't managed to afford themselves a sensible Cuba policy in half a century, and ever since 1963 the US deny their citizens under threat of punishment to spend money in Cuba i.e. travel there, because there are some Commies left there. And since the Cubans haven't been defeated since "Red Dawn", "Invasion USA" and "Red Scorpion" - this is clearly an unacceptable outcome. Obviously the sanctions must be toughened!

The US have eventually succeeded in getting so remarkably doctrinaire in their policies that it would make the Kremlin's concrete-headed Old Guard jealous.


"It is clear that the balance of power was tilting towards the Syrian regime and its Hezbollah backers."

The Syrian government, which has been recognized by the US for decades as the government of Syria may be now allied with Hezbollah, but that is only because it is the in interest of the latter organization. "Backers" is a word used by the current US administration to solicit a specific response and is inaccurate.

Negotiations? The Palestinians have been 'negotiating" for half a century, what has that gotten them? A blockade and a couple of generations of poverty? How would doing the same in Syria be in the interest of the United States?


The various rebel factions are already squabbling over the arms supplied by other Gulf states. The moderates are whining that they the fundamentalists are taking the best toys, er, weapons. Bullies don't play fair.


And the Serbs were told Kosovo would remain an autonomous region of Serbia and not independent.


" The sole goal of the US and "friends" is to bring the Syrian government to a meeting where they can surrender power."

That may be the wish, they would also like to keep ME in constant turmoil. US has been stuck in the morass of its own failed policies. Keepin ME in turmoil, ensures no one else gains too much power to shove of US out of the region.

However, this continued policy of killing and slaughtering in the ME promoted by US policies will generate so much hatred by the masses that you can be sure US will eventually get the boot out of ME. (Guess FP team has forgotten the lessons of 1979.) The eventual arrival of that day would be the reckoning of the terminally ill dollar to hit its end a lot sooner that any one expects.


Some of the observations may be correct, but the sum is silly. Why is Geneva II considered an 'acceptable' outcome?

The only acceptable outcome I can think of is the US minding its business and Syrian forces smashing the Salafists once and for all.



There is no doubt that this is "the wish." The US government says so. pl

Mark Kolmar

I appreciate the perspective in this essay. Could we zoom out? Obama explains U.S. policy about as clearly as it ought to be spelled out on 2 major points, and a 3rd, related point of subtext that I read into it. Or, if you prefer, maybe I want to hear what I hear.

US and Western governments, coarsely, will acommodate peaceful demonstrations and avoid heavy measures against civil disobedience. The Assad regime, in the thick part of the Arab Spring wave, disqualified themselves on that count. An almost-critical mass of internal and external interests are attempting to remove the top of the regime. Some would like to preserve what can be recovered from the civil institutions as they used to exist. I am not convinced that the U.S. has only recently started to provide weapons to vetted "rebels". Russia evidently reserves the right to crush misbehavior. China seems to want to keep the option.

Chemical weapons have no legitimate purpose, according to this view. In the last 90 years or so, use of chemical weapons is an illegitimate projection of brutish, physical power - unsophisticated, desperate, and on-the-cheap. It's as if anyone with a legitimate reason to destroy things or to kill people would develop technology to target as narrowly as possible.

On the subtext, the U.S. now has plain fingerprints on the mess in Syria. My fear is that U.S. or Western fingerprints can be used in the future as a basis for doubt against new or reformed institutions, new leadership, new elections, or new borders.


Excellent discussion.


Mark Kolmar

"Some would like to preserve what can be recovered from the civil institutions as they used to exist." I do not think that is possible. Syria is not Tunisia or Egypt where the population is effectively all the same ethno-religious sect. The Copts in Egypt are politically unimportant and there is virtually no non-sunni population in Tunisia. The civil society (civil service) is intimately tied up with the alawis and other minorities in Syria and they see the present government as their only defense against what someone here called the takfiri head-choppers. IMO it is not possible to decapitate this government and have anything other than chaos. pl

William R. Cumming

IMO the US has no expertise to provide any so-called Peace Conference and lacks patience needed in any event!


Yusuf al-Misry wrote: "The declared objective of the administration from its decision to arm the Syrian rebels is to recalibrate the balance of power on the ground in order to facilitate a negotiated settlement. That sounds good so far as it remains on written policy and strategy papers submitted by the NSC officials".

No, in my take, it sounds bat shit crazy, on paper, or in gauzy dreams of R2P'ers/neocons/media go alongs/and think tank careerists. It is--mostly-- devoid of any grasp of recent history of American involvement in the ME....And it is utterly devoid of any appreciation or empathy of what most people are facing economically in the US. (surprise there, right?) It is a decision proposed by a tiny minority, locked in the DC triangle, listening to their own echos, eyes on gaining funding for a Presidential run, this minority in DC is aided and abetted by small sections of NYC and LA, funding it and backing for their own overseas reasons.

Charles I

This seems to be the recently recurring fatal flaw in U.S. dreams: there is no realistic conception of who will operate the state and maintain order - the new democratic liberal human rights order where it hasn't been lately to boot.

Bremner in Iraq. Wasn't there an Iraqi National Council gonna run the place?

Afghanistan went from realistic - get bin Laden/oust Taliban - handily achieved via the Northern Alliance, B 52's & bags o cash - to crazy - protecting women's rights and building a self-sustaining democracy - both in the same environment of warlordism, corruption & tribalism that Iraq degenerated to.

Hizbullah and Hamas are on the ground social services amidst the rubble, not just effective fighters so even when despised or feared post fighting, they are organized and indispensable, seen as natural and native even before the smoke clears.

Libya seems now just an incohate militiadom of many colors whatever oil deals were signed.

One assumes al-Nusra has a better grasp of this then Kerry, whom I've just heard on the radio announcing more material support for the rebels from Qatar - gotta compete with the $5bn for Egypt I guess - and once the battle is ramped up with antitank manpad attacks to victory under a no fly zone, they must figure they have a shot at kinetic if not negotiated or electoral success whatever goes on in Geneva.

Is it possible the brainiacs believe either the Syrian Army could be retained and directed in service after a regime change, or that an army is not required?

Lord Curzon


I'd like to examine a possible endgame where Assad has won, having crushed the Salafists and seen off anyone else - whither the US, UK, Saudi and Qatar? After having invested a substantial amount of capital, political and financial, what do they do? What can they reach for next beyond thinking,"Oh bollocks!"

And conversely, having notable influence in Iraq and defended their interests in Syria, what will Iran's mindset now be?


Could we 'zoom out'. I agree that is a great idea, here's my take:

"US and Western governments, coarsely, will acommodate peaceful demonstrations..." Right, like Occupy Wallstreet and (as was recently remarked upon by some commenters here) that fine bit of police work at UC Davis.

"Some would like to preserve what can be recovered from the civil institutions as they used to exist. " Yes indeed. Specifically the Constitution of the United States.

But Obama needs to power to spy on all citizens all the time. The Governor of Massachusetts and the Mayor of Boston need the power to order all citizens off the streets; to search without warrant or probable cause; the Governor of Michigan, well he's got the power to remove elected local governments and put 'emergency managers' in place to rewrite contracts and sell assets; Billionaire Mike Ilitch is working his way towards getting $300 million to fund a hockey arena- because he sure isn't going to risk 100% of his money - and the police, fire fighters, teachers and other employees of the CIty of Detroit - they get to keep their 20% pay cuts. They will get the tax bill for that billionaire's bailout though. So will the retirees who are soon to experience the same thing as those fine folks in Greece just received. Great equality there. Elsewhere in the USA KennyBoy Lay's left hand Mr. Skilling just got his prison sentence cut. At least Bush had the attorney general go after some financial crooks; but not to worry - Obama will bring 'democracy' and freedom to Syria. Let me know if I missed the important points.

Babak Makkinejad

Democracy - loosely used here - is not corrupt but it can be corrupted.

So, from time to time, a Dictator must be empowered to clean the mess up.

Detroit is no different in that regards than Bridgeport.

The interesting question, in my opinion, is who or how one to appoint a Tyrant when Democracy has been corrupted in an entire country.


"...A Dictator must be empowered to clean the mess up"

hmm, this sounds like the "Caesar" option.

I can't speak to non-western civilizations but I believe we've come too far to even comtemplate such an avenue in the West. Just because it was once upon a time part of the cycle doesn't mean it can revisited today. There are a lot more Brutuses in thought among the citizens and we would sooner give our lives in defiance than accept a tyrant.

I personally think devolution is the real logical choice to be taken. While I am not an American(so forgive my arrogance if I am not allowed to speak as such), I did live for a time in Texas and consider myself a 'volunteer'(forgive my arrogance if - I would eventually like to see myself return to that part of the world - so I would favor the individual states reclaiming their eroded rights. The tenth amendment surely was written with purpose.

As for the UK and Europe at large, I still think devolution is the answer. But the history over here presents an even bigger obstacle to that end.


I believe we could loosely describe these 'emergency managers' as dictators. They were put in power by the Governor of Michigan after the state legislature passed a second emergency financial manager piece of legislation. The first had already been rejected by the citizens of this state. (Proposal 1 of the November 2012 ballot).

I think the more important point is how one gets rid of a tyrant. The folks in charge now are just ensuring the rewards to the 'usual suspects' with a few Quisling locals to provide some camouflage. The billionaire sports team owner who's wife owns the Motor City Casino is already a recipient in millions in tax breaks as is his wife. They don't need another $300,000,000 from the taxpayer when the later is being told there is a 'financial crisis'.

Babak Makkinejad

I think that an ounce of prevention is better than a ton of cure.

I think rather than worrying about getting rid of the Emergency Manager (the Financial Dictator) one has to ask how did these cities get into the mess that they did: in Michigan, in Connecticut, in New Jersey, in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

In regards to the Emergency Manager laws; the alternative is to let the city die.

Babak Makkinejad

The problem with devolution is that it creates local parochial cliques that see no further than their own noses.



It took a long time to get here. The alternative you mention isn't the only one. We give $3billion a year to Israel, zero to Detroit. There's plenty of money to prevent the 'cure' currently being peddled. Putting a few more politicians in jail would be a good step.


The Founders thought democracy the lowest form of government, the 'tyranny of the mob'. I am agreement with kxd though. We need to leave the empire behind, and think/act smaller.


Perhaps, but the current alternative is allowing a far-removed, centralised government to determine what is good for local regions, in areas where local government themselves are much better suited in running their own affairs.

Yes, Prime Minister said it best:


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