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03 November 2013

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confusedponderer

"the Syrian army is evolving into something far more dangerous to its enemies than the conventional 60s era Soviet model army it once was. It is also gaining experience in joint operations with Hizbollah, the Quds Force and Iraqi Shia volunteers. Israel is worrying about the wrong threat."

TTG, you do mean the Syrian army becoming more dangerous by capability and not intent? Can you please elaborate?

I see that the Syrians have a fully justified and understandable problem with the Israelis attacking them at whim. Every Israeli air strike at Syria is an act of war, not to mention the en passant violations of Lebanese airspace. The latter occur on an almost daily basis. Still, I can't see Syria any time soon starting offensive action against Israel.

As for "Anything but Assad" - by my observation the worst thing is that in America such a policy, once under way, stays on course no matter what. America in such matters is doctrinaire to a point that the Kermlin old guard would feel compelled to pay grudging respect.

Case in point is America's perpetual embargo on Cuba that persists for half a century now. Currently it is illegal for U.S. citizens to spend money in Cuba. That the embargo doesn't work doesn't matter - because lifting would be appeasement or something of the sort. Ludicrous.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_embargo_against_Cuba

David Habakkuk

TTG,

"It is also gaining experience in joint operations with Hizbollah, the Quds Force and Iraqi Shia volunteers. Israel is worrying about the wrong threat."

A most interesting observation, which perhaps you could expand. What kinds of operations against Israel might become increasingly feasible, in the light of this kind of cooperation, and presumably, intellectual cross-fertilisation?

LeaNder

"However, the Israel firsters and R2P crowd aggressively push their own agendas."

Admittedly I had to look up R2P. Responsibility to protect.


http://www.responsibilitytoprotect.org/

ICRtoP - International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect:

Registrant Privacy protected. Hmm? Why?

"Domain Name:RESPONSIBILITYTOPROTECT.ORG
Created On:26-May-2005 14:02:35 UTC
Last Updated On:20-Oct-2013 03:22:08 UTC
Expiration Date:26-May-2014 14:02:35 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:eNom, Inc. (R39-LROR)
Status:OK
Registrant ID:d9528fce3504ca95
Registrant Name:WhoisGuard Protected
Registrant Organization:WhoisGuard, Inc.
Registrant Street1:P.O. Box 0823-03411
Registrant Street2:
Registrant Street3:
Registrant City:Panama
Registrant State/Province:Panama
Registrant Postal Code:NA
Registrant Country:PA"


http://www.responsibilitytoprotect.eu/

Name responsibilitytoprotect
Status REGISTERED (What this means)
Registered June 23, 2008
Expiry Date June 30, 2014
Last update June 2, 2013, 2:33 am
Registrant
Name Enzo Maria Le Fevre
Organisation European Programme for the Prevention of Genocide
Language English"


Not active yet, registered only:

http://responsibilitytoprotect.com/


"Domain Name: RESPONSIBILITYTOPROTECT.COM
Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
Updated Date: 2013-02-16 21:26:12
Creation Date: 2013-02-16 21:26:12
Registrar Expiration Date: 2014-02-16 21:26:12
...
Registrant State/Province: Nevada
Registrant Postal Code: 89183
Registrant Country: United States
Admin Name: Torey Hodges
Admin Organization:
Admin Street: 144 Trumphet Lilly Ave.
Admin City: Las Vegas"

Torey Hodges:
https://plus.google.com/118380747761786505309/posts

LeaNder

The more important link may be the official UN link:

http://www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/adviser/responsibility.shtml

turcopolier

TTG

I was in a kriegspiel in 2011 in which the boys from WINEP played hard for the notion that the Syrian government would inevitably fall. As you imply it is now virtually inevitable that the GOS/Hizbullah coalition will succeed in suppressing the Sunni jihadi rebellion. pl

turcopolier

LeAnder

Perhaps Germany should intervene to "protect." pl

The Twisted Genius

confusedponderer,

I see Syrian forces, or at least a sizable portion of those forces, gaining the capability and the intent to defend Syria in the same way that Hizbollah defends Lebanon. It won't be an offensive force capable of overrunning Israel, but it will make Israeli military action against Syria more difficult and costly. In effect, Israel will have a second Hizbollah on its border. Freeing the Golan Heights could become a rallying cry for this new force further complicating Israeli calculations.

confusedponderer

Re: Germany should intervene to "protect."

Why on earth should we be so stupid?

We have no dog in that fight, and personally, I'd pick Assad over the Jihadis any day of the week. The mere fact that he is an Alawite in Syria guarantees that he will pursue tolerance. He needs the other minorities to survive in face of a by inclination chauvinist if not outright hostile majority with substantial external support. He isn't going to force any religion on anyone, that's for sure.

I mean, one just need to read carefully: Turkey's FM Davutoglu said, commenting on Israel's latest air strike into Syria, 'Never acted with Israel against any Muslim country, never will'. So Syria is a Muslim country? The Alawites, Druze and Christians may want a say on that, too.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4448461,00.html

MEMRI put out something interesting in that context also:

http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/4024.htm

So we have a responsibility to protect the poor Syrians from the hated devil, Assad? And then, when we helped the opposition come to power and they start the big lets-put-the-infidels-in-their-place-already jamboree, we then have the responsibility to protect the Syrians from the Syrians we empowered? And then ... we will have to protect the Syrians we empowered from the Syrians that we protected them from, because they're all a bunch of zero sum gamers who give no quarter? Or will the beheading radicals and occasional cannibals become turn towards moderation and solve our little dilemma and flowers will bloom all over Syria?

Why don't we just take the place over and put it under French or Turkish rule again since the locals are obviously incapable of governing themselves as we think befits them?

Frankly, Responsibility to Protect is bullshit, even when only looked at from a practical point of view. And that says nothing about its onerous legal implications.

The Twisted Genius

David Habakkuk,

We conduct joint training exercises with our allies in order to become more effective at joint operations and more comfortable working with those allies. Ideas are shared and friendships are formed. This happens at all levels of the chain of command. As an Infantry lieutenant in the 25th Infantry Division, I worked with a Filipino infantry company on a joint amphibious exercise in the Philippines. More than a year later, that Filipino company commander and I met again while he was visiting my RECONDO school in Hawaii. He greeted me like a long lost brother. These relationships matter.

The same is now happening in Syria. I predict that there will be much greater interoperability and trust between Hizbollah and Syrian forces along Israel's northern border in the future. Perhaps a Shia coalition of the willing will take on the al Qaeda allied threat in Iraq once the jihadi threat in Syria is brought under control.

Matthew

DH: Most efficient way to measure Rebel losses: Simply read the number of sob stories peddled by Western NGO's as Assad advances. These stories disappear when the Rebels advance.

Fred

TTG,

Will the multi religous make up of the Syrian Army also impact how the conduct between Syrian's and Hizbollah? Perhaps lessening the tension across religous groups?

A Knowledgeable Insider

Having actually read some of the real time intel, especially the analytical pieces put out by DIA and others, the IC actually did its job on the analytical front. I was always struck by the discrepancy between the Administration/Media portrayal of the Syrian Rebels being on the verge of victory while the IC gave the exact opposite picture--portraying the rebels as struggling to get the initiative and describing the Syrian Government as quite resilient.

LeaNder

Nitwit response from the top of my head:

You may be surprised but not only the larger post 911 universe made me very hesitant about claimed idealistic endeavors, already Clinton's war did.

Your allusion to us Germans, which you suggest should take up the task, reminds me of US media pressure concerning the Yugoslav war. Europe needed to raise it's military budgets (Time and others)to something close to the States' budget, and start cleaning up in its own backyards. Personally, I would have preferred the Swedish or Swiss option post WWI + WWI. ... But I can see that in the field of R2P the argument could be made it should be our responsibility.

I also have to admit that before the Kosovo war, I was very, very hesitant to take a closer look at any wars apart from "war drums"/shaping public perception for support. Distrustful, basic mindset skeptic. Maybe even at the wrong time from your perspective. But yes, the genocide argument at that point raised my interest. But it only made me look closer, and to this day I am not convinced. I cannot pretend I ever was a fan of the KLA.

During the last decade I occasionally encountered "balancing" voices from the pro-Israel camp, also deeply connected with the genocide question apart from us Germans, who perceived the Yugoslav wars as sign for future trends. All countries ultimately falling back into little ethnic enclaves again. ... Empires fall, no doubt. I would prefer the equally idealistic vision of Europe in this context.

But as you know, I do not know anything about tribal conflicts in the Arab world, or the history and reality of Islamists, and I deeply respect you for that knowledge. Not least since I realized that my emotional response to the "Arab spring" may well have been idealistically misguided. I didn't believe you then, concerning Egypt, but I realize now you were right from the start.

Off topic. This is an interesting article about Max Blumenthal Goliath:

http://tinyurl.com/Goliath-and-balance


The Twisted Genius

That's reassuring. I'm glad the IC is competently doing its job. Too bad Kerry and others seem to rely more on YouTube for their intelligence briefs.

Babak Makkinejad

TTG:

Is there a presidential finding that seeks regime change in Iran?

If so, by whom it was signed and when?

And if there is such a finding, does that mean that the United States policy will remain so under any future president?

Furthermore, what does it take to rescind a presidential finding?

Are there also presidential findings against the Russian Federation, the People's Republic of China and North Korea?

Do you know?

stanley henning

From the beginning I could not understand the US leadership desire to support the “rebels” against the Asad regime, not that I cared for Asad much either, but that I felt no one was considering the bigger picture in this whole mess, just as we wasted money and lives in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam for that matter based on shallow understandings that failed to consider an ancient Chinese Confucian view considering survival of one’s nation: “Where there are civil concerns it is also necessary to be prepared militarily and where there are military concerns it is also necessary to be prepared in the civil arena” (my translation) - in other words, seriously consider sensible survival of the nation, not shallow, emotional, and ill-influenced views.

LeaNder

Seemingly I keep forgetting you are a "Landsmann".
Although: confusedponderer makes sense. At least that was my state of mind too, when I stumbled accross Pat's blog.

Are you located in Hamburg? Did you ever tell us a little about you? Like what led you here?

The Twisted Genius

Bottom line - no, I don't know. A presidential finding when used to authorize covert action, just by its definition, should not be known to those not involved in supporting the covert action or providing oversight of that covert action. That defeats the whole purpose of covert action. I have never heard of any evidence that there are such presidential findings concerning Iran, Russia, China or North Korea.

How is a presidential finding rescinded? I imagine it would be by another finding. In the case of Iraq, it was superseded by the openly voted upon Iraq Liberation Act in 1998.

The Twisted Genius

That's all possible. They're cooperating now. I saw strange coalitions form in Lebanon in the 80s. Pragmatism can triumph, at least temporarily, in the region over sectarianism. And IMO, Hizbollah can be quite pragmatic. However, I'm not an expert in the region. I'm sure PL can offer you a more authoritative answer.

turcopolier

CP

I was pulling her leg. R2P is an excuse to play teacher supervising the school yard in regard to the whole world. It is a TERRIBLE idea, literally terrible.

babak

A presidential finding is allowed by the national defense acts of 1947 and 1958. It authorizes warlike acts conducted n a hidden (covert) way in time of peace. A president can cancel any finding that he wishes to cancel. BTW, the overseas SIGINT operations were not authorized by findings. They are normal responses to intelligence requirements taskings. pl

confusedponderer

I'm from the heart of the Rhineland.

How I came to SST ... I had spent a while being in equal parts interested in and annoyed by US policy, with an emphasis on foreign policy and came looking for insights.

I studied law, focusing on international law. Intl'law is an interesting subject, and I for my part, haven't watched the news the same as before after that. It is a peculiar thing to watch news, and know the treaty they mention, only to realise when they talk BS about it, both the news persons and the politicos, the American ones more than others. It got so bad at some point around 2003 that I stopped watching TV news altogether because it got me reliably swearing at the screen.

I have recovered, but still can't watch ZDF for I haven't forgiven them how they mix commentary with reporting. In that particular last newscast from the time it started like this: 'The murderous butcher of Baghdad, Saddam Hussein, claims ...' *zap* I'd rather have soap commercials then. When death rays are invented they'll be invented for dolts like that and I want one.

I initially had welcomed Bush 43 and his 'old hands'. It didn't last long. Bush's treaty busting before 9/11, though executed skilfully technically, for not much more reason than 'because', annoyed me immensely for its pointless destructiveness, and after 9/11 it got worse in any respect.

The Iraq war then was a climax. When Powell held that faithful speech I watched it on TV and, with growing horror and disbelief, I checked all the items he brought up as refuted as he spoke. I realised that the US would go to war and needed an excuse. To me that came as a disappointment.

I had at the time on a forum rancorous debates with self described US conservatives on the Iraq war. In itself it was an insightful if unpleasant experience. There was no room for debate, let alone dissent, and they craved a head on a spike and Saddam had to do.

I wandered away from that and eventually landed here, greatly enjoying the informed comments of grown up and informed gentlemen, who kindly tolerate my confused pondering.

Dan Gackle

A small mercy: when one of the leading ideologues of R2P, Michael Ignatieff, deigned to return to Canada with the news that he was ready for his Prime Ministership now, he received the worst political drubbing in a generation.

turcopolier

TTG

"PL can offer you a more authoritative answer." What was the question? pl

VietnamVet

TTG

This is post is informative and the comments intelligent.

I have never been to the Middle East. Besides Canada and Mexico I haven’t been outside of the USA since I spent three years in S.E. Asia almost four decades ago. I admit my naivety. But, I have been struck by three profound events that have gone mostly unreported in the media:

1) Putin’s checkmate of President Obama in Syria. We no longer live in a Unipolar World.

2) Hezbollah’s stalemate with the IDF in 2006. As hinted in this post the alliance of the Shiite militia’s proven tactics and manpower with the next door secular state’s heavy weapons and air force is a far greater threat to Israel under the Likud leadership than any possible future Iranian nuclear weapons.

3) The Iraq Invasion. This was crazy from the get-go. It was all for nothing.

The shortsightedness and bungling of 21st century America can only be explained by a syndicate of Neo-conservatives (War Lovers) and Neo-liberals (War Profiteers) seizing control of the USA and running it contrary to the public interest.

Fred

"Will the multi religous make up of the Syrian Army also impact how the conduct between Syrian's and Hizbollah? Perhaps lessening the tension across religous groups?" Fred

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