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17 June 2015


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I'm not surprised that the same country that believes Bruce Jenner is a man can't see the writing on the wall in the MENA but instead believes in unicorns like the hedgehog idea.


Though I have criticized Robert Kaplan in an earlier post, he has an interesting comment in this month's Atlantic that relates closely to this thread http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/06/the-art-of-avoiding-war/392060/

Larry Kart

Tyler -- Did you mean, the same country that believes Bruce Jenner is a woman?


It would seem that the Obama administration has four options. The first is to continue the current strategy of "make believe." Its elements are a fantasy Iraqi government army, fantasy allies and a quasi-fantasy air campaign. At heart it is little more than wishful thinking. Tony Blinken killed off 10,000 ISILs with one lash of his tongue last week. So, we could schedule 3 - 5 press conferences, multiply the verbal results by 10,000, and have the boys & girls home by Christmas.

Second, deploy 150,000 American troops for the next decade or so - out of the question.

Third, get serious in using what you have: collaborate with the Shi'ite militias/Iran, put the arm on the KSA, Turkey, et al to quit supporting ISIl directly or indirectly and cough up some ground troops (even for use as cannon fodder), use air power more intelligently (at least don't delay striking targets for an hour or more while awaiting permission from Washington, Tampa or God knows where).

Fourth, admit that all of the above have less than a 50/50 chance of working. Especially so, since we have singularly inept leadership in charge. So, put a cap on American involvement - forget about lily-pads, surreptitious insertion of Americans into the front lines, etc. If a few competent Iraqi Army units emerge, let them bleed ISIL as best they can. Give maximum support to the Shi'ite militias, and the Peshmerga. Leave them unimpeded to fight ISIL as long as they wish, wherever they wish within the old Iraq borders. At least, that will exhaust ISIL. If the KAS et al are unhappy about this, let them deal with it. It's not our concern. If ISIl and al-Nusra topple Assad, accept that those two will fight a civil war to take power. They would exhaust each other further. If the KSA and Jordan want to fight with al-Nusra, let them - the effect would be sobering for all parties. If ISIL comes out on top in Syria, they may threaten Jordan and ultimately Saudi Arabia. By that time, ISIL will be so exhausted that its chances of success in taking either the Holy places or the oil fields probably is slight. This is not the 7th century.

In the mean time, the United States would cease creating further complications and pitfalls for itself in the region. It also would be in a better position to devote some time and money to dealing with more compelling concerns at home and abroad. Perhaps we might even be able to afford bringing Amtrak up to 1940 standards.



Thanks. I was gonna write something like that but you saved me the trouble. I think I will go to R.T's tomorrow for some She Crab Soup and then Crab Etouffee. pl


about the Saudi-Yemeni situation .

Watched a video of Yemenis attacking Saudi border post and a Armour unit. Saudis did not seems to have a quick air response. And despite claims of "stooping Yemeni offensives", it looked like a hit-and-run attack. Yemenis numbered in few dozen and were light equipped (not carrying any provisions).

They took out two border posts and attacked three armored vehicles and destroyed one ( LAV III or Mowag Piranha). Other vehicles simply "strategically re-deployed" to a rear area.



I'd be appreciative if someone could explain this video


Previously, ISIS had released videos of executions, but this appears to be city/tribal leadership passing formal judgement upon a captured Iraqi soldier. Is this a new tactic to provide legitimacy, reinforce the divide with the Shia regime? Does the content present an equal partnership, or are they swearing allegience to ISIS?


mbrenner -

I guess I don't understand how we've managed to get ourselves involved in both sides of a war (once removed from the Iraqi side, twice removed from the ISIL side). I can't see any sane reason for it, whatever the outcome we're worse off. It not only doesn't work in practice, it doesn't work in theory.

Tom Welsh

I would think that winning the Olympic men's decathlon gold medal, and siring six children by three women, would strongly suggest that he is a man. But what do I know? Modern science is wonderful, and modern cultural beliefs even more wonderful.

Tom Welsh

Your remarks are perfectly understandable, HankP, from a normal sane person's point of view.

But consider the military-industrial-congressional complex. Like the carnivorous plant in "The Little Shop of Horrors", its continual cry is "Feed Me!" What better prospect, from the MICC's perspective, than a perpetual war (or, better still, set of wars) in which it supplies both sides - and (a critical point this) is PAID to do so by the US taxpayer?

If you stop thinking of these wars as wars, and see them as an elaborate mechanism for transferring vast sums of money from poor Americans to rich Americans, it makes better sense.

William R. Cumming

Thanks for the LINK!

William R. Cumming

Is my understanding that Yemen's population outnumbers SA?


That would be R.T.'s in Alexandria?

Off topic, but former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren recently wrote a strong criticism of the Obama administration, accusing it of 'abandoning' Israel. Of course this is the same admnistration that has protected Israel in the UN for the past 6 years and has provided diplomatic cover on other issues. He is presently shilling for his new book. This is the same Oren who wrote a book on the attack on the USS LIBERTY that omitted facts and skewed other facts to the benefit of Israel.


William R. Cumming

P.L.! Thanks for this interesting post. First I need a history lesson! Was it in 1291 that Crusaders seized Acre and in doing so also massacred Christians, Jews and Muslims?

And after occupation by the Crusaders when finally drawn out of Acre by Saladin he defeated them in the desert?

Saladin was a KURD?

William R. Cumming

How much of US FP and military strategy is based somehow on the concept that we must own the realty involved?

Babak Makkinejad

I think it was not just the Great King but also the Sassanid emperors who waged war intermittently against Scythians.

Some settled in the area called Sistan at the present time (derived from Sakistan - land of Saks) and some tribes moved on to the Eastern Europe; becoming ancestors of some among the Polish Nobility.

Babak Makkinejad

On your #3 - very unlikely.

You saw the reaction of Patrick Bahzad - he loathers Iranians and I suppose the Shia as well and he is not even a principal and many such as him must be around in US and EU.



Jerusalem fell to the army of the first crusade in 1098. Acre, the last city in Palestine still in Christian hands fell to the mamelukes (Egyptian slave soldiers) in 1291. You don't actually know anything about the crusader states. Like most people you have absorbed a lot of anti-colonial crap that falsely conflates the crusades and crusader states with 19th Century colonialism. All that business about the crusaders killing everyone is baloney. Try reading something worthwhile. Try Runciman's three volume history. pl


Dear Colonel et al.,

I am having trouble these days really understanding what is in the US (not Israel, not Saudi) interest in the ME. Okay, stability, but I do not see any of the major local actors moving in that direction (maybe Egypt, unless they try and further destabilize Libya?). For some while into the future, we do not need their oil.

Sure if the policy du jour is to defeat ISIL in Iraq (but support it in Syria), a 29 point policy can be created, but then one asks the question - why is this worth American blood and treasure (as we continue losing fast to China)?


What makes you think ISIL will become exhausted.
How long did the Lebanese Civil War last. Is it not
one or two events from reigniting. IMO until the local
population quits feeding the beast it will continue.
From millions of recruits and martyrs at hand and the
Wests constant meddling to encourage them the
end will be ........?

Larry Kart

Tom Welsh -- About Jenner's past, of course. But I thought that Tyler's "I'm not surprised that the same country that believes Bruce Jenner is a man can't see the writing on the wall in the MENA but instead believes in unicorns like the hedgehog idea" remark was sarcastic, and that, if so, what he meant to say, since he was speaking of a self-deluded country, was "woman" instead of "man." Or did Tyler's sentence have one too many "nots" in it? "I'm surprised that the same country that believes Bruce Jenner is a man etc." would make sense.


"The people of the region must change their political culture to succeed." Does that apply to inner city Baltimore, Chicago and everywhere else that poor black Americans live? How about poor whites and Hispanics?


what does that matter?

Babak Makkinejad

I think in some areas political culture has progressed - Iran & Turkey - and other places - such as Afghanistan, Mesopotamia and Levant it has regressed.

I am not sure about Pakistan but my guess would be there it has regressed too.

FB Ali

As usual, an excellent summation of the current situation, and the options available to the Obama administration. IF it is trying to advance US national interests in the ME.

But what if the aims are different, or muddled, or multiple and conflicting. Tom Welsh's comment above (in response to HankP) presents a valid hypothesis of one such motivation. Then there are the neocons, the Israeli lobby, the R2Ps, etc. Everyone pushing their own agenda, quite unconcerned about the interests of "the country".

Meanwhile, China pushes on with its 20-30 year plan, slowly but surely advancing towards the day it will supplant the US as the one global power.

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