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13 November 2014


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dilbert dogbert

I am more worried about what will happen if the Mexican government blows up. 100,000,000 down there now. Back in 1911, I think we got a flood of them escaping chaos of the revolutions. You never know what spark will start the fire. A big one in Mexico is the murder of the 43 stupid kids.


"Turkey would accede to its Ottoman ambitions and provide a military to hold an Eastern Border against IS. "

There are just a few major problems with that:

* Turkey supports ISIS. How are they to 'hold the border against them' when they alllow them to move across it from Turkey into Iraq and Syria? The whole thing would be a sham.

* The second problem is that I see it unlikely that Turkey accepts Kurdish independence, since they regard that as threat to Turkey's territorial integrity.

* Also, ISIS doesn't respect borders. The Turks would IMO be wise to wake up to the fact that ISIS, too, constitutes a threat to Turkexy's territorial integrity.

* And as for 'Westphalian ideology' - well, it is just what forms the basis international law for the last three hundred or so years. That said, international law neither prohibits nor promotes secession and independence (even in Crimea). Westphalia certainly didn't stand in the way of American independence from the England.

Insofar, Westphalia is also not an obstacle to Sunni or Kurdi statehood out of the wreckage of Iraq or Syria and your scorn here is as unnecessary as it is uninformed.

DC is right now in thrall of the bright idea that it is great to rely on might and shed Westphalia for something more amenable to naturally enlightened US maximalist demands at the expense of others.

The reason why DC and their auxiliaries in the neocon, neolib or R2P camps batter the foundations of Westphalia is hat that pesky sovereignty that is the conerstone of Westphalia has the annoying flipside of excluding external actors from a sovereigns internal affairs.

Just as bad, international law is based on **mutual** consent. How old fashioned is that (just as Mr. Cosby)?

DC can't have either of that. They want to meddle. With gusto, be it about economic or political independence, to impose their ideas. Westphalia is an obstacle to that. Thus, it must go. It's just as mindless as that.

This idea is only attractive when one thinks oneself as the hegemonic power to set the rules.

That is why Russia and China, recognising that the new paradigm will, in time be applied to them, are so vehemently opposed to it. All it takes is for DC to use it os to declare them, unilaterally, 'illegitimate'. The Americans, of all peoples should understand that concern, given that they fought a war for independence once.

IMO it is irresponsible to shed Westphalia and its relative stability in the absence of credible and workable alternatives. All I see is that, while easing promotion of the interests of a few powerful states, the new paradigm promotes instability.

Alas, things that can't go forever, don't. The day may not be far off that someone applies the new paradigm to DC. It is easy to foresee that the US won't like that but since that is unthinkable ... and that's after the next midterms anyway. Unlike everything else in history, US hegemony will last forever. Or will it?


The Reuters report about new White House plans is based on this very weakly sourced CNN report

"Sources: Obama seeks new Syria strategy review to deal with ISIS, al-Assad"

Not that those "sources" are anonymous warmongers (one of them seemingly ex-Ambassador Hof)while there are also two named administration sources that say that there is no such formal review and no conclusion.

I for one don't buy the story. It seems to have been planted by "interested circles".

Ursa Maior

The above video is another proof, that it is not only my country, Hungary that is, which has issues with the way the current US govt advances its interests good or bad. No matter how transatlantist I am, when I see that my country is forced to abandon Southern Stream in order to support the current (also) corrupt, and crooky ukrainian gvt, risking NO gas supply at all along with freezing population and/or no industrial output, it is really hard to love the yanks.

For the time being the very fact that these countries are shown as dictatorships in the MSM (false or true) may hide a continously deteriorating american soft power. But alas these countries are also members of the "inner circle" the NATO. Problems usually surface in the less controlled peripheries.

Has anybody ever considered why a secularist republic turns to religious extremism, or a country ran down, and plundered by russians three times in the last 150 years, chooses them again?


What troubles me is why on earth the DC people (Obamaites just like the others), in their eternal pursuit of a game change, think that this time around destroying the government of a Middle Eastern country will produce any better results than the last time?

In Iraq at least they had influence as a result of their occupation. In Syria they don't have such leverage and things would probably go the way of Libya. Libya right now is an ungovernable mess mired in civil war, that in addition has inflamed neighboring Mali. Clearly the model for Syria!

With Assad's government out of the way, one must kid oneself to they think the result will not be massacres against Alawi, Sunni, Christian and the other supporters of Assad. No responsibility to protect those I presume.

I can't wait for Mrs. Slaughter to pronounce that they brought it on themselves by being on the wrong side of history, or something. Or worse: Read her use that US provoked situation as a pretext to call for a US occupation of Syria. Because of the ressponsibility to protect.

Let's all hope reason prevails. Because the alternative would be another blunder, inflicted by the US on the Syrians.

The US are able to conduct their air campaign pretty much with impunity. And since it doesn't hurt the US, they dish out lavishly. I think that if every such op would cost the US a couple thousand soldiers there would be a degree restraint. Alas, it doesn't, so there isn't.

It works with the Israelis the same way. The only thing that restrains them is pain. They only left Lebanon because staying there hurt too much, not out of rediscovered love for peace and justice.

For the Syrians, government and unhappy bystanders, a US attack will be devastating.

Makes one wonder if there is anybody in DC to whom the idea occurs that their cures are worse than the disease.

But then, it isn't about the Syrians anyway but about abstractions, like the 'Shia crescend' and somesuch. They just happen to be in the way. They're not even pawns in the game, they're just the chessboard.

And then there is the domestic US dynamic of escalation. For that the US don't even need outsiders. In the US political system escalation is self reinforcing.

Apparently nothing is worse in DC than looking weak by doing nothing. That is a clear domestic competitive advantage - and foreign policy must subordinate itself to such superior interests.


My suspicion that the CNN(Reuters) report was planted nonsense is confirmed by what Hagel said in Congress:

"Hagel: Taking out Assad 'won't put ISIL back in the box'"

"There is no change in strategy," Hagel told Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., who voted against legislation to train and equip Syrian rebels in September.

"Assad's part of the equation, of course," Hagel said. But "just alone dealing with Assad, where we are now ... that's not going to put ISIL [the Islamic State] back in the box."

Hagel, who reportedly wrote a sharp memo to National Security Adviser Susan Rice last month urging a sharper focus on solving the years-long conflict in Syria, said the Islamic State remains the main target.

"We could change Assad today, and that's not going to change all the dynamics," he said. "Who are you going to replace Assad with? What kind of an army can take on ISIL?"

I still believe that if there is any change in strategy it will rather move to more open cooperation with Assad, not against him.


I would not bet on that....we've been down this road before...these two, based on geography and demographics are, if not naturalis inimicis, certainly close to that. " keep your friends close, and your enemies closer", as the old movie line goes.


Grizzi, Turkey is drunk with "ambitions". They won't be satisfied.

William R. Cumming

YUP! Completely agree Walrus!


I think there's a war going on in DC with the bombers asserting at nauseam that the US must attack ISIS and Assad at the same time, just so they won't need to back down on the latter, or horrors, change course.

Presumaby, America must show strength and all that again. It's curious: After all these wars, nobody can seriously doubt American unrestrained bellicosity - yet they still want to prove it? To whom, themselves?

The talk about Strength is all nice, but what about prudence for a change?

IMO the bombers are doubling down. Probably they're after Hagel and Dempsey, the two main obstacles to their wars of choice. McCain is known to loathe Dempsey. They try to hit Obama through them, and if they get them, Obama will be too weak to resist their push for - already - bombing something, anything, Assad.

Wouldn't be too surprised to see Hagel go if the others win.

Hagel must be less than thrilled at the prospect of having to lend a happy face to executing a policy that will predictably be disastrous.


JohnH, you say "...the AUMF that authorized the war on terror was so broadly interpreted...".

The executive will always try to grab more power--this has been happening since the beginning. Shame on Congress for not reining in that power, in the name of 'patriotism' and 'loyalty'. More like fealty.

Babak Makkinejad

You wrote:

" they think the result will not be massacres against Alawi, Sunni, Christian and the other supporters of Assad"

I do not believe that they, and their counter-parts in the European Union care one whit about Alawi, Sunni, Christian and the other supporters of Assad.

They - and the Europeans - only care about Jews and Israel - it seems to me.

Charles Dekle

Col Lang,

Tim Kane and Jim Warner are my Senators. Last year I wrote to both of them and my Congressman, Jim Moran, expressing my desire that they all vote against authorizing the bombing of Syria after Syrians supposedly crossed Obama's red line. They all responded by thanking me for my interest in National Defense and that they had access to intelligence that indicated that the dastardly deed was done by Assad and that he must be punished.

Kane ended his reply with "I find the gassing of innocent men, women, and children intolerable, and believe there must be a consequence." I guess that implies that I am somehow for gassing the innocent. I started to reply but decided that they were bought and paid for by more powerful interests than the welfare of the nation. My question is who is doing the buying and are they so stupid as to risk a nuclear exchange with Russia over Syria. I have also considered the idea that the proponents of this insanity might actually believe that they are doing to will of God by bringing about Armageddon. We loose in either case.

Kind regards,

different clue

Charles Dekle,

I know little of Rep. Moran from here in Michigan. The little I have heard makes me think he is unbuyable or hard-to-buy at the very least. So Moran's response would more likely be based on personal belief or feeling.


My understanding is that it is one small part of the Greater Israel long-term strategic plan to bring anarchy and balkanization upon all competitors of Israel.

However, GR makes the point that some, in the military, want war for war's sake; some want oil; and Zionist Joe Biden just simply seems to enjoy beating up other countries:
I think he's missing the point on the Bidens--instilling Hunter as director of Burisma gives the possibility of the family making billions if ethnic cleansing succeeds in eastern Ukraine. And Cheney was all about Halliburton. So, to the US oligarchs, it's personal.

not sure Obama is driving this thrust; perhaps Nuland/Kagan; but as this is a successful retry endrun around the country's wishes/better interests, I see no reason why whomever is will ever back down.


You think it's bad now--There are several technological revolutions coming in the next few years that will enable this behavior rather severely. Piloting video-game drones from Nevada is only the start, the tip of the iceberg.
I'm not seeing any come-to-Jesus opportunities for spiritual growth/maturation in the next few years. So I project it will get more egregious and worse. This puts us closer to Israel's behavior, instead of the other way around(cf. ongoing Gitmo). How to avoid being a bully when handed a beating stick?


Interesting. There was also a report last week about the 12x increase in use of firewood in Syria.


Looks like some progress has been made in retaking Iraqi refinery at Biaji. http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/11/14/4321093_iraqis-appear-close-to-breaking.html?rh=1

alba etie

different clue
I am arguing a counter narrative that President Obama did ask Congress for the AUMF regarding the CW red line in Syria knowing that the vote for bombing Assad that time would fail . On what evidence do you base your assertion that Obama still wants Assad removed from Damascus? I try to focus on what actions BHO has undertaken as opposed to trying to read his mind . Moreover this talk about arming the FSA is window dressing to try to keep KSA, Erdogan, and the Gulfies onside until Daash/ISIL can be contained if not destroyed. I also tend to believe the 'leaked "letter to Rouhani regarding covert actions against Daash got out in the open as further leverage with the Daash supporters - saying in effect hey Tayyip if we can't use Incirlik to defeat Daash maybe Tehran would let us use some of their forward bases. It defies logic to me that if President Obama really did want to remove President Assad that we would have supported Erdogan's call for a no fly zone in Syria. Its my working hypothesis that the BHO has been trying to course correct away from the neocon madness since the CW false flag in Syria- at least in regards to the Levant . And I do wonder about what was said between President Obama & Leader Putin at the Asia Summit last week - they met four times. Again trying to surmise intent from action even with the recent escalation in Russia military presence in eastern Ukraine there seems to be little actions being taken by the West & the These United States with no more sanctions for example being applied to Russia. I will predict that in regard to Daash there will continue be no daylight between President Obama & Leader Putin . I will also further predict Turkey will either be bought into the Coalition that is actively pursuing the destroy and degrade mission against Daash /ISIL or a work around for the non participation of Ankara in at least containing Daash will be found that includes Tehran . We shall see.

different clue


If Obama isn't driving this thrust, then does he like it or dislike it? If he dislikes it, why doesn't he stop it? He is the President. He can remove politically appointed people from within the Administration whenever he likes. Or is he too scared of something to do an employee-transplant?

Think Obama, think! Think of the money! All that beautiful money . . .


It may well boil down to a US-led war against China - and Russia and Iran and Syria. Christian Lin, a former director for China policy at the U.S. Department of Defense, just published an interesting article regarding this possibility. Quote:

By Removing Assad, Obama May be Declaring War on China

CNN on 12 November reported Obama administration is suddenly focused on removing Assad as the core of its anti-ISIS strategy ... it is definitely not in China’s interest. ... President Obama continues to operate with large blind spots when it comes to Chinese interests, risking strategic misjudgment according to Professor Zhen Wang of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at Seton Hall University. ... Damascus, a traditional terminus node in the ancient Silk Road, is what the Chinese call “Ning Jiu Li” or “cohesive force,” and key link to the planned Chinese railway connecting Iran, Iraq and Syria to the Mediterranean. ... Beijing is thus doubling down on supporting her ally to counter Arab Gulf-influenced US policy that harms China’s core interests. ... Nonetheless, the Middle Kingdom has a counter-measure, a famous strategy called “Sheng Dong Ji Xi (声东击西), meaning make feint in the east and attack in the west. Currently, Washington’s eyes are on China’s eastern flank in the Pacific. However, should Obama attempt to remove Assad and pave the way for an anti-Chinese Islamist regime that supports extremist groups to attack Chinese territory, coupled with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) perception that US would arm terrorists in Xinjiang to destabilize China, Washington should not be surprised if this becomes a “tipping point” for China to attack in the west, joined by Russia and Iran.



The analysis sounds coherent to me.


Thank you for taking the time to respond. As I see it, which is not from the perspective of a seasoned expert or participant, is that Westphalia is brought out as necessary when it suits the status quo. There appears to be little mutual respect for treaties within the region. Iraq and Syria no longer control their borders and therefore can no longer be seen as sovereign.

Appealing to the idea that Westphalia has kinda, sorta, sometimes worked for the last for 450 years is a defensible conservative position. As you point out when the Europeans began their colonization, “Westphalia certainly did not stand in the way.” I am not creative enough to offer a better alternative than by cementing an agreement between parties exhausted from fighting to end conflict. Yet, creating documents to be fussed over by lawyers and historians and ignored by new generations seeking glory and resource is the way of the world. Why would any individual born today near the Iraq/Syrian border cede his sovereignty to the ministrations of Sykes-Picot, since the English and French troops are long gone? Security? Habit? Worked for dad? Allah?

Westphalia cannot answer to demographics. Syria’s population has grown 5 times in the last 50 years. Treaties based on land and borders are not perfectly expandable in the face of Malthusian forces. Technology and trade are necessary to make up the shortfall. Trade and technology are not sterilized at the border, they bring along culture which is infectious to the status quo. The Syrian regime may be responsible for poor water and land use management, but IMO much of the Syrian civil war is a function of the 4 year drought which has decimated the farmers and forced them and their rural culture into the urban areas. This quick migration had upended systems and institutions within the Syrian cities and brought out a violent response. The inability to deal with a mass migration led to the opportunities of armed rebel forces including IS to establish themselves.

I am in agreement with you that DC “wants to meddle” and “that this time around destroying the government of a Middle Eastern country will [not] produce any better results than the last time.” My proposition to engage Turkey is not that they are not capable of massacre, as the Armenians know, but they are part of the Israeli, Saudi Arabia, Qatar nexus that will not stop until Assad is gone. Building a mercenary army to save Syria is nuts. The migrations will continue to put pressure on Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon and bring more humanitarian NGO’s-with their peculiar influences and ideologies to the region. I would suggest that Turkey actually desires Syria and is only playing the US to clean it up before delivering it to them on the cheap. Turkey’s Prime Minister wants Lebensraum.

Sure, the Turks cynically use IS to provoke their own Kurdish population as well as the Iraqi and Syrian Kurds, but practically, they are the only force in the region that can put boots on the ground. They are almost a police state. They can control the flow of new IS recruits at the airport through their border. They can close the IS gift shop in Istanbul. If Assad must go, which is not my preference, and humanitarian interests are held in higher regard than sovereign interests, and Assad is the faucet on the greater blood bath; then who else is close by to turn off the tap.


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