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17 February 2014


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William R. Cumming

PL and all:

Is there a recent English language history of Iraq and/or Syria discussing those nation-sates history since WWI?

Is there one in Arabic or Hebrew in translation or not?

William R. Cumming

Can we come up with a word for dual citizens meaning US citizens with dual citizenship?

Should any dual citizen be given access to Top Secret or Compartmented classified information? In my time I thought all TS and Compartmented classified info was NOFORN?

BTW NARA {National Archives and Records Administration] and the Presidential libraries do not accept classified Compartmented info for permanent retention.



"I thought all TS and Compartmented classified info was NOFORN?"

Yes, unless a specific agreement exists with a given country. pl

William R. Cumming

PL! Thanks and does the original classification authority sign off on release to the foreign nation-state and/or agreement? I assume no derivative classifier could be authorized to make such an agreement?

Charles I

And yet today's al-monitor.com claims that the Saudis will nonetheless press Obama for regime change when he visits in March.

"The upcoming visit by President Barack Obama to the kingdom in late March is the second factor behind the new policy. King Abdullah will make a major push for a more vigorous American effort to oust Assad when he hosts Obama. The Saudis have been openly disappointed that Obama has not used force to get rid of Assad or provided more assistance to training and arming the Syrian opposition. By taking steps to curb Saudi help to al-Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra, the king hopes to disarm American concerns that the kingdom is naively helping terrorists gain a stronghold in Syria. Prince Nayef just visited the White House last week for meetings with national security adviser Susan Rice and assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, Lisa Monaco. The meetings were preparations for the president’s trip. The same issue of foreign fighters traveling to Syria came up in Obama’s meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah in California on Feb. 14. Hundreds of Jordanians have joined Jabhat al-Nusra.

Saudi King Abdullah has a special attachment to Syria and has tribal and marriage connections to the country. He has been appalled at the gruesome bloodshed and the horrific cost of the civil war. He blames Washington for not doing more to stop the war, oust Assad and put in place a Sunni government that will break with Iran and Hezbollah. He would like Syria to become a Sunni base for toppling Hezbollah dominance of Lebanon."

Seems its ultimately all Iran all the time.


Read more:



I was trying to draw a difference between EU member states individual policy on Syria and EU collective policy. I would argue that the British parliament's rejection of war on Syria was a public break with US policy and a declaration of regime change an insanity. Its different to Iraq 2003 when Britain did fall in line like an obedient Warsaw Pact country.


Col. Lang

Kudos to your writing style (as well as the substance of course). The following statement, despite its brevity, coveys what many feel should be our policy towards the Syrian tangle sponsored mainly from Riyadh.

" ... The jihadis came to Syria to die for their faith. They should be assisted in that ambition.... "

So true .
Thank you for stating it so succinctly.


Charles I

It will be a hard sell. pl



Some of the relationships are very old. Some extend back to WW2. These cover a lot of ground and there is a lot of delegated authority involved. Other relationships are transactional. Every major agency has an official who rules on the propriety of particular releases. One of them reads SST. pl


TTG & Col. Lang -

More on the evolving ceasefire process. While photos are hard to trust, the photo in the Daily Star piece - "A member of Syria's armed opposition forces (R) chats with an officer from the forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Babila town, southeast Damascus February 17, 2014, after a local ceasefire agreement was reached. Picture taken during a guided tour by the Syrian Army" is paints an interesting picture.



William R. Cumming

Thanks PL! a deeply flawed history and system. I expect many more Eric Snowdens around the corner. GAO has concluded inferentially in a new report the IC now controlled by its contractors. A shocking indictment of the IC and its governance.

The last three Presidents clearly wear no clothes.

Charles I

Yes, I hope so. Today's GSN claims a rethink is underway, without explicit abandonment of regime change and seems to speak to sustaining the conflict and pressure on Assad.


I know you hate to answer, but what have the Saudis got nowadays to, er, "sell" with?


Col: And now for your moment of levity. See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/17/syrian-peace-talks_n_4800928.html?utm_hp_ref=world

Money quote: "Kerry says Assad is "trying to win this on the battlefield instead of coming to the negotiating table."

Imagine that.


Much of Europe (France, UK, Netherlands, Poland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and some more) is in the grip of the American and Israeli lobbies, and the American lobby is mostly made up of staunch zionists, too.

Besides Moscow, of course, the center of resistance against the zionist warmonger policies in Europe is currently Germany. In Germany the American and Israeli lobbies are also strong, and they almost completely control the German media, but Germany has also very important business ties to Russia and China, so there are some powerful business leaders telling the government quietly that it is no good idea to spoil the relations with these countries. In effect, the German government tries to balance the pressures, leading to some kind of resistance. Take for example the German Patriot missiles in Turkey. Germany full well understood that the Patriot missiles were asked by Turkey formally for defensive purposes, but John McCain and friends wanted Patriots stationed in Turkey to shoot down Syrian jets inside Syria across the border. So Germany complied with the Patriot request, but placed them so far away from the border, that they can't fly into Syria. In other cases German resistance against the warmongers follows similar paths.

Some EU countries now lean on the German line, take the Czechs, who let their embassy open and host a mirror of the SANA website, and some more countries, like Italy, Austria and southeast Europe also follow largely the German line. Besides that, Germany has enforced harsh austerity policies in the EU, which causes huge problems for the warmonger desires for war, because their wars are expensive, but Germany doesn't give them the money they need for that.

Btw: have a look at the face of Nuland's darling Yatsenyuk, who just visited Merkel to ask her for support - and likely billions of money to counter Putins proposal for Ukraine - for the Israeli designed regime change op in Ukraine:


While there are usually few news about the reality of such meetings, sometimes you can read in the faces how the talks went.



The hubris involved is caused by a self-righteous delusion of world hegemonic control. pl

Mark Kolmar

It is worthwhile to aspire to the impossible. I feel this applies for any potential resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or to the Syrian civil war. If John Kerry or Hillary Clinton look silly for their efforts, without they would be less noted and not much less silly.

"The jihadis came to Syria to die for their faith. They should be assisted in that ambition."

They should be dissuaded, de-radicalized when possible, removed from that ambition, consistent with the safety of those who disabuse. The formulation above sounds too much like retribution or vengeance for this former Catholic boy.


mark Kolmar

Those of us who understand the ME, Islam, the jihadis and Syria know that they cannot be "dissuaded, de-radicalized or removed from that ambition." For them death on the "path of God" as they see it is more important than anything else. There is no way to deal with jihadis except with the sword. If you do not deal with them that way they will impose Wahhabist views of Sharia wherever they can. that is what happened in Anbar in our long war there. Eventually the Anbar tribes came to see that there own culture and view of Islam would be utterly destroyed if AQ were allowed to rule them. That is why the "Sons of Iraq" cooperated with the US in suppressing AQ there. The situation is much the same in Syria. There is no "making a deal" with these people. They actually believe. They think they are pursuing salvation. pl


You have hit on the crux of the matter. " All Iran all the time ".
It has been that way since the Iranian revolution of 78/79 & multiple scare Riyadh got circa 1979 from its Shia minority. For which they blamed the Iranian Islamic Govt. The chess game in the region is driven mainly by this animosity towards Iran and the fear that should (or when) the sanctions are lifted their importance as an indispensable ally will be greatly weakened. Hopefully the US will find its way clear to pursue its own national security & economic imperatives and not those of others (often at the expense of its own).

FB Ali

Mark Kolmar,

I fully agree with Col Lang re the only solution to the jihadi menace. Much as I hate to say it, there does not seem to be any other way of dealing with the hardcore ones (there are, of course, many on the fringes who have been swept up in the emotional current who could probably be deprogrammed). But the hard core of any jihadi movement can only be dealt with in one way - elimination.

Currently in Pakistan the government is trying to set up negotiations with the jihadi insurgents. Their response: behead 23 paramilitary soldiers that they were holding as prisoners, and assassinate over a dozen policemen and an army officer.

What do you do with such people?



Never forget the human capacity for hypocrisy.

Social Liberals of Denmark would consider human rights above the Peace of Westphalia.
In their eyes helping the "population" topple the dictatorial regime is just.


I think what underlies American enthusiasm for regime change is a profound and pronounced unwillinness to engage with the world as it is.

At its core it is still popular. American exceptionalism and America's great power to US actors suggest an ability to shape the world according to America's ideas of how it should be.

There is not that much of a practical difference between the Obamaite R2Pers and the Bushmen. They're essentially two kinds of the same utopian breed.

Ron Suskind's famous White House aide put it that way in the Bush years:

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."


The omnipotence complex on display there is still there.

In my perception the Obamaites are not any less enthusiastic about regime change than were the Bushmen, they just think that with their civil society stuff and their skill at NGO powerd crowdrousing they're smarter at it than the oafish Bushmen.

You and I may think that engaging Assad is a reasonable thing based on the realities in Syria, but that doesn't mean anything to them. They, like the Bushmen before them, try to reshape reality and in that new reality deposing Assad will result in a Free Syria, rid of the tyrrant Assad, and in which from the ashes a western style liberal democracy will emerge in which the Islamists will commit themselves to pluralism. And blossoms will blooom and everybody will live happily everafter.

Of course, just as with Bush, the Likundiks among them pursue, on the side, their own delusions here, one of them being that weak arab neighbours make Israel stronger in relation (inevitably, and correctly), and by extension safer (and that's where they drift into the delusional, given that Assad's most potent opposition is Sunni Jihadis).

The Bushmen and the R2Pers are utopians all the same and that is what makes them so prone to messy, dangerous and harmful policies that tend to needlessly get a lot of people killed.

The destruction of Iraq under Bush or Libya under Obama come to mind. ... Mr. Polk put it well when he alluded to Humpty Dumpty's fate:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,:
All the King's horses and all the King's men,
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

Regime change as a surrogate for a policy that adreses reality has always enjoyed bipatisan support in the US. I wonder the apparent thaw in US-Iranian relations is a sigh for change. I sure hope so. Except for that encouraging sign, there still has not been a reassessment of its efficacy.

I think that European support for such policies, in places like Syria and, to my horror, in Ukraine - and that is a belated response to some of Babak's earlier questions from other threads - is the result of transatlantic consensus building among elites, rathern than an outflow of actual police (re)considerations in Europe.


@ Babak Makinejad

"when did Syria become an enemy to the Europeans?"

As far as I know, Syria was not an enemy to the Americans either. In fact, Syria cooperated with US policy against Al-Qaeda in the aftermath of 9-11. Beyond that, Assad consistently sought to ease tensions with both the US and Israel on a number of occasions, only to be rebuffed.


is that report publicly acessible?



"consistent with the safety of those who disabuse."

Didn't we just spend a decade trying that in Iraq and Afghanistan? I think the US should get out of the proselyting business.

William R. Cumming

CP! Yes the report is available to all and can be retrieved virtually from the GAO.gov website. You might also subscribe to Steve Aftergood's list-serve entitle SECRECY NEWS! Steve and the list-serve is sponored by the FAS [Federation of American Scientists]. In a recent post Steve gave some analysis of the recent GAO report.

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