18 May 2015


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Col Lang, I very much appreciate this post for helping to clarify in my mind what u have been saying for a long time...its taken a while for it to sink in but I think I am finally understanding the main issues in a concise way...i especially appreciate the message of the futility of the "hearts and minds" approach/the psychological approach ... I have been hearing my entire life from the average Joe on the street, "If u go to war, win it or don't go at all...none of this pussyfooting around."



There are a lot of ways to deal with situations that imply force might be needed. My harangue here is directed at deceptive propaganda targeted at one's own people. IMO that is always wrong. It is also wrong to think that an insistence on "unconditional surrender" is a fruitful way to proceed. pl

r whitman

If I understand your thinking, the propaganda war works well on the American people but does not work on foreigners.


I well understand, colonel, your desire for the the US to withdraw from support of one party or another in Iraq and Syria. And I agree. In that case, the Syrian rebellion would collapse. Asad would be left with southern Syria, and the coast. ISIS would be left with a state east of the Euphrates, what used to be called al-Jazira. And Iraq would retain from Tikrit to Basra. Who could object? That is the historical division. (Ottoman vilayets didn't correspond to local requirements)



Yes, that would be a restoration of the traditional pattern of the region. I doubt if "Iraq" could retain much territory north of Baghdad. pl

Larry Kart

Excellent post, but is there a word missing here? -- "..and decided that we had simply been defeated at home in the media and because of that among the people." What does "that" refer to? I could guess, but I'd rather know for sure.

Larry Kart


By the way, on another point, the Kurdish economy (KRG) is in freefall, and they should not be expected to make another attempt to conquer the world. Public servants have not been paid for three months ('again' says my informant). Building projects are stopped. It turns out that KRG really is dependent on the oil subsidies from Baghdad. Unfortunate that they cheated on the agreement, in selling oil outside the accord, and signing new contracts. They are now suffering the consequences.


Larry Kart
I am trying to say "because of that defeat in the media..." pl

William R. Cumming

Even in Kurdistan oligarchs rule IMO!

William R. Cumming

Wiki Extract:

The Sykes–Picot Agreement, officially known as the Asia Minor Agreement, was a secret agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and France, with the assent of Russia, defining their proposed spheres of influence and control in the Middle East should the Triple Entente succeed in defeating the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The negotiation of the treaty occurred between November 1915 and March 1916. The agreement was concluded on 16 May 1916.

The agreement effectively divided the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire outside the Arabian peninsula into areas of future British and French control or influence. The terms were negotiated by the French diplomat François Georges-Picot and Briton Sir Mark Sykes. The Russian Tsarist government was a minor party to the Sykes–Picot agreement, and when, following the Russian Revolution of October 1917, the Bolsheviks exposed the agreement, "the British were embarrassed, the Arabs dismayed and the Turks delighted."

1 Territorial allocations
2 British–Zionist discussions during the negotiations
3 Conflicting promises
4 Events after public disclosure of the plan
5 Release of classified records
6 Lloyd George's explanation
7 Consequences of the agreement
8 See also
9 References
10 Further reading

Territorial allocations

Britain was allocated control of areas roughly comprising the coastal strip between the sea and River Jordan, Jordan, southern Iraq, and a small area including the ports of Haifa and Acre, to allow access to the Mediterranean. France was allocated control of south-eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Russia was to get Istanbul, the Turkish Straits and the Ottoman Armenian vilayets. The controlling powers were left free to decide on state boundaries within these areas. Further negotiation was expected to determine international administration pending consultations with Russia and other powers, including the Sharif of Mecca.



Baghdad Bob as a metaphor is alive and well in pretty much all facets of government activity today. It would seem to me that government has to lie and domestic IO operations have to increase in intensity or else there could be massive cognitive dissonance. Preventing the sheeple's belief in unicorns getting shattered has got to be an important priority.

IMO we are now in a phase where government has to increasingly intervene in all aspects of our lives as the people no longer want to know the truth and take personal responsibility.

Previous Luxembourg Prime Minister Juncker noted when the going gets tough the leaders must lie to after all protect the children. He got promoted to EU chief.


The Borg is as delusional as were the British in 1774.

“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed confidence that the takeover of Ramadi would be reversed in the coming weeks.”

It will not happen because the Sunnis are and will remain Sunni in Anbar.

As an aside, but somewhat off topic, yet consistent with my moniker of Origin, let us consider a parallel to the origin of our American Revolution that seems to have some relevance today in Iraq.

This last weekend, I attended the 244th anniversary of the Battle of Alamance in Burlington, North Carolina on May 16, 1771. The Battle of Alamance was the single major engagement in the War of Regulation. Fundamentally the Regulator movement was a back country tax revolt of citizen farmers against a corrupt British colonial government, but not against the Crown. The Regulators were soundly defeated and the leaders hanged, killed, or banished from North Carolina. Many left to form the Watauga Association and were among the original settlers of Tennessee and Kentucky. Many if not most of the loyal militia who served in support of Governor Tryon against the Regulators later formed the core of the Patriot resistance against the British in the backcountry of Georgia and the Carolinas that forced Cornwallis to his defeat at Yorktown.

On the drive home, I pondered the question as to when the British actually lost the American Revolution and when the Patriots actually vanquished the British. Tradition has it that the British were “defeated” during the siege of Yorktown Virginia on Octrober 19, 1781.

My view of the true date is that the American victory was won and the British vanquished during the later half of 1777 when the political victory was won by the establishment of functioning state and local governments in every former colony. Thereafter, the fighting was just to purge the land of British troops and remaining Loyalist holdouts. From the end of 1777, no numbers of British troops could ever reverse the political truth on the ground of the functioning courts and local governments operating throughout the land.

The people of America simply decided that they were no longer subjects and went on to form their own governments, including assemblies, court systems, and county militias, free of the Crown. Here is how it was effected. During 1773 to 1775, spontaneous Committees of Safety also called “Committees of Correspondence” sprung up all over the thirteen Colonies and formed shadow governments throughout. As an example, in Georgia, the citizens held a Provincial Convention commencing on July 4, 1775 and established a Committee of Safety that, by the end of 1776 had completely supplanted to Crown government. The Georgians has simply stopped minding the dictates of the British. Soldiers and Loyalists remained in the State, not Colony, but the government was State, not Crown. http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/revolutionary-war-georgia This same process occurred in all colonies. By mid 1777, nearly every colony had established and implemented their own constitutions and governments.

To recover from this fact on the ground, Great Britain would have had to send a major portion of its population in arms to sit in the thousands of courthouses and town halls to try to accomplish the impossible. After May 1776 when the Continental Congress requested the individual states to hold constitutional conventions, the deed was fully done. It just took England another five years and a mountain of money to convince itself that the United States was free, Thus, most of the battling in the American Revolution was just mopping up to degrade the Crown’s military might to reality.

The war was irrevocably won, not at Yorktown, but during 1774 and 1775 when the people took control of their own.

Now to the historical corollary and point of this essay.

Iraq as a Sunni-Shia amalgam is extinct. Anbar will not be ruled by the Shia because the Sunni in Anbar will not consent to be ruled by those who view them as apostates and wish them dead. The Sunni have taken control of their own destinies.

The real culmination point of the Iraq war was when the Baghdad was ethnically cleansed during the “surge” and the subsequent Awakening was betrayed by the Maliki-Shia government years ago. Like the trial of the British in North America, the U.S. and Shia Iraq have as little possibility of reasserting control.

The only real option short of the unacceptable and unobtainable extermination of the Sunni from Iraq is to contain the Sunni and preserve the Shia writ where it remains valid. Hopefully, like in the French Revolution, the radicals can be moderated by their co-religionists over time so that some semblance of a civil society can evolve. It may not.

It is just time to face the reality of a Sunnistan and an Iranian influenced Shia Iraq remnant. Brenner and Bush decreed it in their ignorance. In any case, irreversibly, like in 1775-1776, we now have a new form of civilization in Northern Syria and Sunni Iraq. It will not go away and further war will not temper its brutality. The past will never be recreated in our lifetimes no matter how much treasure and how many lives we may waste trying to reverse the situation. Some form of accommodation to it must be invented before millions more die. For now containment seems the only viable option.


Not to indulge in what my father might have called "the agreeable if somewhat superficial charm of a Borgean narrative symmetry," but, as it happens, yesterday Mark Ames published a fascinating review-essay on Peter Pomerantsev's recent book.
( http://pando.com/2015/05/17/neocons-2-0-the-problem-with-peter-pomerantsev )

The book is

"purportedly an inside look at how the Kremlin propaganda machinery functions, from a British repat who purports to have spent a decade working inside the state propaganda apparatus."

I can't remotely do justice to all that Ames covered, but he does show the Russian version of these IOs got a big push when Yeltsin's re-election campaign sought the assistance of some of the same US campaign operatives that would later be involved in what Col Lang describes above as,

"Worst of all it came to be consensual thought in the US government and among their co-opted media "friends" that it was normal to propagandize the American electorate in order to block political action intended to prevent or stop a war. This was an odd development for a country in which the United States Information Agency (USIA) was forbidden by law to direct its propaganda at US audiences."

I mention this here not only because of the appalling reciprocal learning that appears to take place between Russian and American IO practitioners, but because the author of the book is involved in some of the worst of the foreign-policy bright ideas that frequently dismay SST readers. For example,
"Last year, Pomernatsev co-authored another one of these slick Legatum white papers with an up-and-coming neocon from the late George W. Bush era, Michael Weiss. Together, Pomerantsev and Weiss summed up the threat Russia’s avant-garde political technologies pose to world order, warning:

'the struggle against disinformation, strategic corruption and the need to reinvigorate the global case for liberal democracy are not merely Russia-specific issues: today’s Kremlin might perhaps be best viewed as an avant-garde of malevolent globalization.'

That Pomerantsev would team up with a neocon as compromised as Michael Weiss is enough to call into question the value of everything he’s written. During the late Bush years, Weiss worked for the neocon organ of Bill Kristol, the Weekly Standard; afterwards, Weiss headed up a neocon PR project, “Just Journalism,” which policed the English-language press for any journalism critical of Israel in the wake of its brutal war on Gaza in 2008-9. Then, as Syria descended into civil war, Weiss became one of the leading neocon warmongers pushing for America to invade Syria. Perhaps most troubling of all when it comes to Pomerantsev’s credibility — Weiss played a lead role in promoting the career of one of the most notorious academic frauds of our time, Elizabeth O’Bagy, the fake Syria “expert” whom Weiss teamed up with to argue for war in Syria. Apparently after O’Bagy was exposed as a fraud with no Syria credentials, Weiss skulked away, only to reappear with a new co-author—Peter Pomeranstev—and a new beat: Putin’s Russia. Despite having zero Russia background and expertise, Weiss has successfully reemerged lately as a Russia expert on various TV news programs — the Elizabeth O’Bagy of Putin critics — and Pomerantsev’s role in this partnership appears to be laundering Weiss’ credentials."

I can't imagine that Ames' background would make him persona gratissima to all who follow SST, but I'd still strongly recommend this particular article. It has a great deal of obscure but directly-sourced information I have simply not seen elsewhere.



I don't see why extermination of the Sunni from Iraq should be dismissed as unthinkable, on principle. (I will concede that I have difficulty seeing the current Iraqi government and allies mustering the necessary arms and men to pull it off in any near future, say, a decade or perhaps two.) "Genocide," in various forms, after all, has been the word of the century in the 20th century everywhere in the world. I don't see why it should not repeat itself in the 21st. Perhaps it will be even more grotesque if not in deeds then certainly in mind-numbing contortion of the human language: I see the day when 21st century Richard-Holbrooke wannabes gleefully talk of "genocide and extermination for human rights and democracy." But I think there will be genocides, big and small, everywhere in not too distant future.


The Sykes-Picot agreement was not executed, so why bother quoting it again? The final post-war agreement was quite different. It added Syria to France, and Mosul to British Iraq.

I am unable to understand the obsession with the Sykes-Picot agreement. It was an intermediate stage, never executed.

The Twisted Genius

I remember when PSYOP was something aimed only at foreign targets, never at US targets. PSYOP practitioners also held truth to be something very critical to its success. When information operations (IO) came into vogue, all that changed. The truth was replaced by the narrative. Somehow, the American public became a legitimate target for national level IO. The public also became a legitimate target for deception, one of the pillars of IO. Along with all this, a seismic change was taking place at NSA. I remember when NSA officers would literally run from the room when CIA and DIA officers would even mention operations involving US persons. That obviously changed after 9/11, but it wasn't apparent to me as late as 2010. Was this all due to the national security types who blame the American people for stabbing them in the back over Viet Nam? I think there must have been something more to cause such a sea change in the relationship between the government and the people. I just don't know what it is.


IMHO, BSHO is simplifying trying to run the clock-out and pass this mess to Scott Walker.


"Even in Kurdistan oligarchs rule IMO!"

That's rather bizarre. Are there Oligarchs in Kurdistan? perhaps Oiligarchs. The issue is quite simple. KRG has an agreement with Baghdad whereby 17% of the total oil revenues of Iraq is transferred to Kurdistan, in accord with the percentage of the population. The Kurds cheated by selling their oil outside the agreement, and by signing new contracts, also outside the agreement. So now they're suffering and can't take part in destroying ISIS. Their own fault, without question.



No? Let me know when you come up with an alternative. pl

Larry Kart

I see -- should have gotten it the first time, but I was bit foggy after cleaning out the garage.

Larry Kart

Babak Makkinejad

Very many Arabs have spent far too long attributing the problems of state formation and evolution since 1914 to "Colonialism", "Imperialism" etc. with the Sykes-Picot Agreement - of which they learnt from Western leftist historians - being the most accessible and convenient target of opportunity.

I imagine in a few decades we will hear about Soviet Imperialism and how Communism impoverished Central Asia.

Babak Makkinejad

They are also dependent on transport through Iran.

Babak Makkinejad

I think you have it exactly backwards.

C Webb

The origins of the word propaganda
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/propagare (propagate)

It dates back the the counter reformation.
(Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide)

ex-PFC Chuck

When it came to replacing truth with narrative, the process was perfected in the wake of the assassinations of the 1960s.

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