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31 October 2014


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And we still have 2 more years to contend w/ Obama's policies...wonder where ISIS will be in 2 years...double sigh...


Or he will gladly kick this ISIS problem down the road for the next admin to tackle...


and we still have 2 more years to contend w/ Obama's policies...wonder where ISIS will be in 2 years...double sigh...

As to one solution to the ISIS problem:

We should 'let Allah sort it out' and leave the Kurds and the Iraqis do the fighting. Of course, we have to give as much help as we can (the airstrikes is one especially if it meant the demoralization of ISIS). This will foster camaraderie on the ranks and may even unify the Sunnis and the Shiites.

We should look at the lesson of history when tribes unite to fight a common enemy. The most recent successful example is when the Allies united w/ Stalin to defeat the Nazis.


Yeah, that will fix it.

There is a European electorate and they see different news coverage. Having the US intervene to thwart legitimate expressions of democracy in europe will ultimate just weaken US influence in Europe.

My guess is we are in the last 10 years of this mind of policy in israel. Young europeans and americans view this issue differently to their parents.


I got 6-12 bn reasons why he is a ghastly thief. But I agree that DC is making him look like a statesman.

Babak Makkinejad

That was then, this is now: the DC consensus:

The Enemy of My Enemy is also my Enemy and The friend of My Enemy is also My Enemy and the Enemy of the friend of my Enemy is also my Enemy,,,

Babak Makkinejad

That and why destroy ISIS; it is needed elsewhere and in the future...


Thanks for that link, J. Akal Tekes make my eyes water.

By way of HUMAN body habit: they don't have that distinctive little [Russian] jiggle in their gait of which the North Korean syncopated goose step may be an extreme parody.

Wondering if the Chinese have raised the bar on precision.



"That and why destroy ISIS; it is needed elsewhere and in the future" Really? Really? You haven't given up on that "America created ISIS" nonsense? pl


Col. with regard to IS on Baghdad, two data points. First, this article says the price of a new AK in Baghdad has skyrocketed to $2600. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/10/iraq-personal-weapons-trade-rise-war-islamic-state.html and this other article says that "... According to Isis prisoners, the Isis cells in the city are waiting for orders to rise up in co-ordination with an attack from outside the capital. Isis might not be able to seize all of Baghdad, a city of seven million people (the majority Shia), but it could take the Sunni areas and cause panic throughout the capital. In wealthy mixed districts like al-Mansour in west Baghdad half the inhabitants have left for Jordan or the Gulf because they expect an Isis assault. ‘I think Isis will attack Baghdad, if only to take the Sunni enclaves,’ .... http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/10/30/a-civil-war-without-end/
PS. does anyone know what a Prong gun is which is referenced in the al Monitor article?


Poor FSA even the little bad wolf, Al Nusra, can kick them around.



Muqtada al-Sadr was offering a joint Sunni-Shia Iraqi nationalist alliance against the US early after the invasion that could have been successful. His proposition was negated by al-Qaeda types attacking Shia markets etc. Which led to reprisal attacks, which in turn led to the chaos we now see.

David Habakkuk


I am grateful to 'Omonaija' for having in an earlier thread linked to testimony given by Professor Douglas Porch of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey to a hearing of the Commons Defence Committee about what to do in relation to ISIL on 21 October.

(See http://www.c-span.org/video/?322230-1/british-house-commons-defence-committee-hearing-isis .)

The testimony given by Dr Porch seemed to me fascinating – and the apparent inability of the members of the Committee adequately to absorb the basic Clausewitzian point that it is not sensible to undertake military action unless one can define a political objective that one has a realistic hope of achieving deeply depressing.

It also turned out, from quick Google checks, that Dr Porch had an interesting background. His doctorate, from Cambridge (UK) was in French military history – it followed a BA at the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee.

After teaching for some years at the University College of Wales at Aberystwyth – which has a very strong tradition in French history – he became a Professor at The Citadel, which if I understand right is a South Carolina equivalent to VMI. From his publications list, he seems to know a very great deal about the history of French 'small wars' in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

I do not think that the book on counterinsurgency he wrote last year will contain anything very new to those of us who have paid attention to what Colonel Lang, yourself and others have written on this blog over the years.

However Dr Porch's bringing together of the results of decades of scholarly work about French and other versions of COIN with personal discussions with veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan trying to make sense of what they have lived through did seem to me very interesting.

His testimony deserves, I think, a wider audience, and I would be interested to hear what you and others with serious expertise in these matters thought of what he had to say.

The Google searches also turned up a British review of his book – which picks up in an interesting way on our contribution to the development of BS about COIN.

(See http://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/free/lobster68/lob68-counterinsurgency.pdf .)

Last but not entirely least, I thought Dr Porch came over as a lovely man.


That is a long way off, a tremendous amount of "events" can/will happen twixt now and then. Will be completely different "situation" then.

Babak Makkinejad

I never subscribed to the idea that ISIS was created by US.

I think actually Syrian government helped what became ISIS during the presidency of Mr. Bush; after Mr. Bush added Syria to the list of US enemies.

But I agree with Mo in his comments regarding the analogy obtaining between the Sunni extremists in Lebanon and the Sunni community in Lebanon: "We need the extremists, however repellant, to pressure the Shia."

This, I believe is the position of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar - if not Jordan and Kuwait.

US cannot destroy ISIS from the air; that I understand - not without destroying Mosul and Raqqah completely, like Tokyo or Hamburg.


And here is "King David" Petraeus as a shrinking violet that is afraid of Ray McGovern, a 75-year old former CIA analyst:
McGovern was arrested for his attempt to attend (with a legitimate pass) Petraeus' talk in New York City. McGovern had some questions for Petraeus. While being arrested, he was hurt.


Putin, a former KGB Colonel, was trained according to the rules of the Soviet security system that for 70 years had been conducting a horrific selection among the Soviets by eliminating the principled, bright, and independently-minded. There have been terrible tragedies Putin is directly responsible for. Yet you are right that up to date he has been successful in protecting Russia's interests from the US predatory behavior. Please note that my previous post alluded to moral superiority of Russia's current international policies as compared to the US' policies.



Here's a clip from the Chinese's 2009 60th anniversary parade, you decide if their precision has improved or not.




"system that for 70 years had been conducting a horrific selection among the Soviets by eliminating the principled, bright, and independently-minded" Ahhh, you were talking about the SOVIET system! I thought for a minute... BTW, I think he was a lieutenant colonel. pl


J., that clip 2009 parade clip was what I was referring to. Power display featuring human resources massed in precision arrays rather than hardware was eloquent messaging. Was suggesting it set new standards.

The Chinese do trot out the shiny stuff at the end, but it has less impact - EVERYBODY has gear.



Come now, "DC has no humanistic ideas to uphold and defend." Why domestically St. Eric Holder is upholding the downtrodden of MIssouri (just in time for the nov.4 election - and retirement) and on the international front there are all those fine folks in the NGO realm, starting with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Surely the imposition, ah, 'moral suasion' (backed by millions of dollars of 'investment' or a DOJ lawsuit, depending on circumstances) of the moral view of some billionaires or a career EEOC beneficiary outweighs the views of any of the thousands of locals who might go vote the 'wrong' way.



And why is creating a moral democratic government in the Russian Federation an obligation of the American people?



True, how true.


The rout of the US-backed rebels in Idlib province continued last night. It seems that the commander of the much lauded US-backed rebel group "Hazm Movement" went into captivity of Al Qaeda's Nusra Front, and then the "Hazm Movement" handed over all their bases and wepaons, including US-supplied BGM 71 TOW ATGMs, to Al Qaeda#s Nusra Front. What remained from "Hazm Movement" fighters is said to have joined Al Qaeda's Nusra Front now.

The Telegraph seemed to notive it and ran today an article titled "Syrian rebels armed and trained by US surrender to al-Qaeda" - Quote:

... on Saturday night Harakat Hazm surrendered military bases and weapons supplies to Jabhat al-Nusra, when the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria stormed villages they controlled in northern Idlib province ...


From what I understand the situation, Al Qaeda's Nusra Front now exclusively controls all insurgent areas in Idlib province, not one US-backed rebel group continues to exist there. The fantasy that the US could arm and train "moderate" Syrian rebel groups to successfully take on Al Qaeda has just gone - as Kerry would say - "poof."

I'm eager to see how the US and their partners will react, and if so, adapt, to this new situation on the ground in north western Syria.

David Habakkuk

Anna Marina,

I am not a Russianist – do not speak the language, have never lived in Russia, and only visited once.

At the risk of making an ass of myself, however, let me hazard a few comments on your observations about Putin.

In most societies, legitimating ideologies and histories are to some degree protected from scrutiny. The situation is liable to get bizarrely complex, however, when – as with the Soviet Union and its empire – the system is dependent for its legitimacy on an ideology as preposterous as Marxism-Leninism, and the history is such that candid examination of it would blow the system apart.

However, when you have a political force which destroys civil society and capacity for self-organisation – insofar as they had existed, in forms viable in the modern world, in pre-revolutionary Russia – the effect is actually to ensure that there are no alternative political forces which are capable of running the country effectively.

As the contemporary Russian historian Vladimir Pechatnov has noted, an awareness of this dilemmas was central to George Kennan's concept of 'containment'.

In the famous 'X-article' he published in July 1947, Kennan wrote that 'if disunity were ever to seize and paralyze the Party, the chaos and weakness of Russian society would be revealed in forms beyond description.' Driving the point home, he continued by saying that if 'anything were ever to occur to disrupt the unity and efficacy of the Party as a political instrument, Soviet Russia might be changed overnight from one of the strongest to one of the weakest and most pitiable of national societies.'

The paradoxical implications of the real possibility that a tyrannical system may increase the likelihood that the only likely alternative to it is a complete collapse into anarchy are ones that Pechatnov suggests that Deng and his colleagues understood, and Gorbachev did not.

(For Pechatnov's paper, which I think invaluable, see http://dspace.khazar.org/jspui/bitstream/123456789/955/1/01.pdf .)

Another paradox of a brutally oppressive system may be that it needs to prevent intelligent people asking natural questions – but if it is to survive, it needs to have security forces which are staffed by intelligent people. This is the case, in dealing with internal dissent, but equally – and in some ways more – with external enemies, who are not circumscribed by the system's ideological blinkers (although they may have ones of their own.)

In Britain, as in the United States, some of the best intelligence on the former Soviet Union – and some of the least circumscribed by ideological blinkers – was done by 'open source' organisations associated with the military. After the end of the Cold War, what had been the Soviet Studies Research Centre at Sandhurst became the Conflict Studies Research Centre.

In 2002, one of its analysts, Henry Plater-Zyberk, wrote, under the pseudonym 'Gordon Bennett', a paper entitled 'Vladimir Putin & Russia's Special Services.'

(See www.da.mod.uk/CSRC/documents/Russian/C108 )

Harking back to Putin's emergence as a key figure in 1999, Plater-Zyberk wrote:

'A better look at Putin at this stage would have shown that his background and his early working years could have been a serious drawback in his political career had they been scrutinized earlier; that he is much more intelligent, flexible and pragmatic than his unusual but at the same time modest career would suggest. It might also have argued that Russia run by a group of ex-KGB officers could be much better off than Russia run by former CPSU apparatchiks or ideological free-marketers tinkering with the country’s economy, and that the KGB employed intelligent, well trained, highly motivated and competitive people, many of whom would have been successful in any political system.'

Another Western commentator who I read with interest was – is – the former long-serving Canadian government analyst Dr Patrick Armstrong. Time and again he has argued that if one wants to make sense of Putin, one should read what he says. On the day before his nomination by Yeltsin as acting President -- also the eve of the millennium -- Putin gave an address which seems to me a good place to start in making sense of his view of things. I would recommend a read of it to anyone interested either in what is happening in Russia or indeed the contemporary global situation.

(See http://pages.uoregon.edu/kimball/Putin.htm .)

Far be it from me simply to equate what Putin says with what he does. I think he is a very complicated and ambivalent figure: with light and dark sides. However in the context of the complete shambles which the collapse of the Soviet Union created – a shambles which as the Kennan quotes illustrate had roots deep in Russian history and in the nature of the communist experiment, but which policies advocated by the West certainly gravely exacebated – I think we have a much better outcome than we might have had.

The notion that seeking 'regime change' in Russia is a sensible objective for Western policy seems to me as infantile as the optimism about the results of 'regime change' in other countries has proven to be. This really is the politics of the kindergarten.

Moreover, at an intellectual level, Putin's critique of contemporary American – and, I hasten to say, British – views of global order articulates in a way no other contemporary politician does a series of conservative positions which I think the events of the past twenty-five years have shown to be substantially right.

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