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27 May 2015


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“Reims”, which is difficult to pronounce,

Patrick Bahzad. In my opinion, your writing is of the same tradition but potentially surpasses that of Bernard Fall – the American Francophile who gave us Street Without Joy. And you do so in English no less, which presumably isn’t your first language.

It would seem that Fall’s chapter on Revolutionary Warfare is in dire need of an update, for the reasons that Col. Lang has already propounded.

Since you, apparently, come from the tradition of Galula and Trinquier, you certainly appear “apropos” (which I can pronounce) for the task at hand, and your contributions are much appreciated.

Patrick Bahzad

Thx for the high praise regarding Fall, might be a bit overstated but thx nonetheless ! I try and keep up with the standards others have set, colonel Lang being one of them.



Thanks again. You highlight the complete lack of information in the West on the Islamic State. All we get is propaganda and Aston Carter’s gaffe. These are hard nose true believers. They were members of Al Qaeda in Iraq or the Baathist Party who survived American targeted bombing and sweep-ups. Naturally, they will use the techniques aimed at them and add the fervor of a people fighting against foreign invaders and heretics. The Americans already ethnic cleansed Iraq. ISIS will seize and hold the Sunni areas. My concern is that this a grand plan to entice the Shiite militia to attack Anbar Province and deplete the Shiite enclaves’ defenses and weaken Iran; much like the Maiden Coup in Kiev was intended to destabilize Russia. Are the borders of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia secure? Will the Gulf State’s internal security police will be able to prevent the building of cells of Sunni true believers who are intent on purifying Mecca? Wars started due to delusions of grandeur and ignorance do not turn out well.


A good piece by former ambassador Dan Simpson....common sense with regrd to our options



You, Sir, need to write a book!

But in the meantime, if you could just translate some of your posts back into French and submit them to a couple of French journals, that would do a lot to elevate the level of public discourse about these matters in the Republic.

Patrick Bahzad


I'm not sure getting more accurate information to the MSM, whether in the US or in Europe, would actually be enough to change the "narrative" about the ME and ISIS.

Patrick Bahzad


I'm not sure there is actually a real plan behind this new offensive, let alone a grand plan !

Patrick Bahzad


Thx for the link, I wasn't aware of this. Is it just a coincidence he's writing for the Pittsburgh Post and not the Washington Post ?

William R. Cumming

Patrick! This is an impressive post. My almost total ignorance of MENA is only improved by reading and thinking about SST posts and comments. But that considered some may find my analysis of interest some may not. Outside MENA I have some limited expertise including the US Armed Forces, NATO, and US FP. My understanding is largely focused by my understanding of Washington thinking and politics and its validity is for others to judge. So here goes!

1. No one in Washington seems able to comprehend the Sunni/Shia rivalry including what drives it and likely outcomes. IMO if it did not exist then Islam might well be an existential threat to the USA and its allies.

2. The paucity of those knowledgeable of ARAB culture and language in Washington is astounding. IMO more people speak FARSI [Court Persian] PASHTO and URDU inside the Beltway than speak Arabic. Could be wrong as always. There are many fewer Ex-PATS in the USA from MENA then from the nation-states of Egypt, SA [if this is a nation-state?], Iran, and Turkey. But this Ex-PAT community seems to have no real effective role in USA FP but perhaps checkmated by Israel.

3. There seems to be almost no expert discussion in OPEN SOURCES of the ORDER OF BATTLE in Syria and Iraq. And no anlysis of UNIT COHESION and tactics and strategy.

4. The U.S IC [Intelligence Community] seems after the fact constantly surprised by MENA events and their impacts.

5. There is clearly a deep and dangerous disconnect in senior military circles of the US Armed Forces as to STRATEGY AND TACTICS with all four services having no clear understanding that employment of force may well result in Chalmers Johnson and Andrew Bachevich's BLOWBACK.


I would note that we do need a Bernard Fall to help US understand and Patrick whatever your self-effacement at the moment you fill my bill for that role.

7. The writings and speakings of the Presidential candidates avoid labeling any events in MENA significant to the USA and seem zombie like to me in their failure to articulate policies and strategies in MENA to work our way out of the deep hole we have dug for ourselves.

8. The US Military is about to suffer its most dangerous decline IMO since 1946-1947 and again it is because the fake shield of strategic bombing insulates the US polity from recognizing the SALAMI TACTICS [a slice at a time] that characterized the early post-WWII.

9. The almost total decline of the support of FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS by MSM means we [US] remain blinded to events and changes that impact US.

10. The anti-intellectualism prevailing in American leadership circles is directly related IMO of the decline of FREE SPEECH in Academia and elsewhere. P.L. ban from DoD servers seems to be complete evidence to me.

11. The recruitment to ISIS of MEN AND WOMEN from outside MENA is of major significance and I could not begin to document how significant that has become to future events.

12. The increasing evidence that behind a facade of friendship the puppet relationship of Israel to the USA or the converse is an existential threat to the USA.

Some thoughts in any event!

ex-PFC Chuck

PB, I suspect it's more a matter of the fact that the words and music are out of tune with the Company Song.

Patrick Bahzad

I suspect you got it right !


Great brainstorming WC, I am very, very interested in responses. Notice my response is arbitrary and not to the points that drew most of my attention.


"P.L. ban from DoD servers seems to be complete evidence to me."

I keep wondering if we didn't have whatever kind of variation on that theme before. As always I may be completely misguided, but something about it felt vaguely like a déjá vu.

"anti-intellectualism prevailing in American leadership circles ..."
I noticed this a lot on the US web, without going if into details, whenever I discover it used politically I tend to be somewhat suspicious.

I think the larger topic would deserve studying, but basically I doubt "American leadership circles" can be reduced to being anti-Intellectuals.
Intellectuals are average citizen too in the end, and too succump to group-think occasionally or surrender to the "intellectual/creative icon of the day".

Patrick Bahzad


I'm not sure this is anti-intellectualism, rather the opposite: it's anti-realism or anti-Realpolitik ... if you don't like reality as it is, change it for a "fourth dimension" that you can spin anyway you like.


"Launching Shia militias into the heartland of Sunni Iraq, under a codename ("Labayka ya Hussein") that can only be resented by many Sunnis in Ramadi, Fallujah and elsewhere in Anbar, doesn't bear the hallmarks of a sound strategy."

"Labayka ya Hussein" never was the name of the coming Anbar ops. It was used by some local militia leader and a Reuters reporter picked that up but it was never the official name. That was always "Labayka Ya Iraq"
see: https://twitter.com/SajadJiyad/status/603615544097566721

Besides that "Labayka ya Hussein" is not nearly as sectarian as it seems. Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the prophet, is revered by Sunni and Shia. His name in on one of the huge calligraphies in the (sunni) Hagia Sophia.

Patrick Bahzad

Thx for your insight, now you just have to convince ISIS and their supporters in Anbar of your well-founded argument, good luck with that pal ... Your kind of logic is gonna get you killed in those areas !

As for the name of the operation, it was as I stated, don't play cheap propaganda tricks here. The name has now been changed because of the shit-storm it caused.

What's going on is an incompetent government trying to do damage limitation, and no twitter tweet is gonna change that. I've been following events closely and I stand by what I wrote. "Labayka Ya Iraq" is a joke, would even be funny if it wasn't that sad a story.



What you say about the name of Hussein is only theoretically true. In Iraq, his name and that of Hassan his brother are Red Flag symbols of the aspirations of the Shia to run the country and the Sunnis. pl


Patrick, I vaguely agree in this context. ... Vaguely means, I may not quite get your challenge. If that is what it is? Does it help if I acknowledge that in earlier phases of my life I may have supported more idealist/Utopian positions versus Realpolitik? Without ever being interested in politics and/or the military though. ... Not the sloganeering type of political speech though, ever.

My intention is not to spin anything: "if you don't like reality as it is". But 911 and/or especially its aftermath have turned my rather limited political positions upside down.

Question: "fourth dimension", could this forth dimension ever succeed without relying on earlier three-dimensional-positions taken for granted by one or the other?

And, don't ask me why: Sons of the Levant, or its NGO variety left an imprint on my mind, after I read your contribution. ...

Patrick Bahzad

I wasn't referring to you with that "fourth dimension" quote, but to the politicos of all kinds, in DC, Berlin, Paris and elsewhere. Has nothing to do with having an ideal, but seeing reality for what it is, not how you want it to be.

Babak Makkinejad

Wasn't there also a plaque with the name "Fatma" on it at Hagia Sofia?

It does not seem to be there any more.

Mark Gaughan

I'm reading this on a DOD computer.

Allen Thomson

Not quite on-thread and I forget if this has been recommended before, but Oryx Blog comes up with a lot of good pictures from the conflict:


William R. Cumming

Thanks LeaNder!

William R. Cumming

Perhaps wrong PB but I unfortunately believe REALITY what the majority believe even when reason says otherwise.

William R. Cumming

Winston Churchill is reputed to have said something like IF YOU DON'T HAVE HEART WHEN YOUNG AND DON'T HAVE HEAD WHEN OLD YOU DID NOT LIVE!

Patrick Bahzad

True and to be more complete it has to be said that the Ottoman Empire both had Sunni subjects but also a large minority of Shias under its rule, as well as Christians and other minorities. Giving ottoman Turks as example of the Sunnis benevolence towards Hussein seems seriously misguided ... Last time I checked it was Sunni arrows that killed him !
His father was caliph and as such he had a legitimacy among Sunnis too as he represented the entire Umma, even though he was opposed both by the Syrians and the kharidjites who finally killed him, but Hussein never was caliph and was never recognized by the Sunnis. He really is the first representative of the Shiat Ali as such ... Maybe b should go to kerbala and ask how many Sunnis are among the crowd during achoura !

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