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13 June 2015


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William R. Cumming

MB! Thanks for this insightful and interesting post! It documents the absolute frivolity of the current USA FP and military leadership. And the current Presidential candidates. None seem to be serious people or have serious advisors.

So is there a SOFA now for the US military anywhere in MENA?

And the Saudi's continue to escape the bitter judgment of history due to classification!

The decline of American soft and hard power under the BABY BOOMER PRESIDENTS AND PRESIDENTS TO BE CONTINUES.


Babak Makkinejad

You are being too harsh on US.

Let us look at Turkey, a NATO member which is supporting Al Nusra, ISIS and all manner of jihadists in Syria.

Let us look at France whose #1 enemy is not ISIS but Islamic Republic of Iran.

Let us consider Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE whose security US is committed to keep while they have been doing their best to undermine the legitimate and duly formed and seated government of Iraq.

Not to mention their support for all those Jihadists in Syria and now in Iraq.

And where is Jordan? Does she not have any skin in this game?

Babak Makkinejad


On you #1, is that DC is wedded to that belief or is rather that they do not think they can pay the political cost of discarding Wound-Iran-By-Destroying-Syria Policy?

Do you know?

Bill H

The current administration's position increasingly seems to me to be one of managing for 19 more months to "not lose" in Iraq or Afghanistan, to drag things out to a degree that allows Obama to leave office and blame the ultimate withdrawal on his successor by saying that things were on an "upward trajectory" when he left office. He has no clue of anything which might actually be effective, and in any case is concerned only with his own legacy.


I may well regret this, since I haven't even read the rest:

"Much of Washington’s foreign policy Establishment never has abandoned the aspiration to “win” in Iraq. "

Did they ever, never mind the ill-conceived 1938 reminiscenes by some prominent supporters of war, that strictly could only drew attention by highlighting associatively a more successful earlier endeavor obliquely, creating imagined connections, that obviously did not exist.

Ted B

Is there still a SSA elephant still grazing in the room, read: military conscription?

The Beaver


I was just browsing " Angry Arab" and he happened to mention this article circa 1987:


An à propos article considering what we are seeing in the western media these days - I guess everyone has been brainwashed that the:


The Saban Centre for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute did their job well;


FB Ali

Dr Brenner,

A brilliant analysis of the situation. I raise a few possible scenarios that may explain some of the confusion, surrounding what is really happening out there, that you have pointed out.

It seems to me that the usual waffling and lack of clarity of WH policy has resulted in various entities pursuing their own policies and agendas. You have correctly identified the desire in Washington to "win" back in Iraq what it lost in 2008. This aim affects not only the FP establishment but, in my estimation, the military as well.

This aim is crystallized in the desire to arm and empower the Sunni tribes while maintaining a military presence in Iraq for a long time to come. Hence the 'lily pad' plan (which should perhaps be labelled the "cowpat" plan, the name given to the concept when it was first proposed in 1942 as the way for 8th Army to counter Rommel in the Western Desert). IMO, this Sunni rearming is just a pipe dream and will remain so.

While waiting for this to happen, the US appears to be quite content to use the IS to exert this 'Sunni countervailing power' on the Baghdad government, which is why it is not seriously attacking it in Anbar, and enabled it to capture Ramadi. (See: http://tinyurl.com/oneykrh and http://tinyurl.com/qa8ulp6 ).

In Syria, it seems the CIA is running US policy, using the Jordanians as a front. Here it is supporting the Saudi-Turkish policy of arming and backing the al Nusra front, Jaish al Fatah, against Assad. The danger in this is that, as IS increases its power in Syria, Jaish followers (with their weapons) are likely to defect to it. While this will not upset the Turks and the Saudis, it will create big problems for the West

Col Lang recently posted an ISW analysis of what IS might do next. IMO their strategic focus is on Syria, not Iraq. While carrying out feints in the latter, they will build up forces in Syria for a major push there. Damascus is the big prize for them, not Baghdad.


fb Ali

I agree with your comment on the Brenner piece except for this: "In Syria, it seems the CIA is running US policy, using the Jordanians as a front" This seems to imply that it is the CIA's policy that is being implemented in Syria. In fact, it is the muddled policy of the Children's Crusade that is the Obama Administration that CIA is ineptly trying to execute. pl

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your comments and URLs.

Yes, the way for Middle East Peace runs through Tehran but not in the way described in that article.

It runs by Israeli PM flying to Tehran, kiss the hand of Ayatollah Kameneie and asking him to be "Be my Godfather".

The lone sane voice on Iran I ever heard was the late Lt. General William Odom.

Every other public commentator was either insane or lived within his or her own delusions.



Thanks. A farce is too mild of a term to describe American foreign policy. Yet, America’s allies are in lockstep. “Freedom Fries” was swept into the trash bin of history. Policies that also led to the seizure of Ukraine and threaten a World War or the pillaging of Greece are all mutually supported and praised. Yes, the can is being kicked down road to the next President but the fallacy is that there will be any rational change in policy. Just as the Obama Administration was a continuation of the Bush Administration, the next Clinton or Walker Administration will continue building “Lilly Pads” and the schizophrenic bombing and training of Islamists; fleecing of the middle class, and confronting Eurasia until an economic, military, or political catastrophe strikes and no longer can.


Exactly! that is the only thing that matters. McCain, his office wife, the clown train of would be GOP preznits and other whack jobs will attack Obama until he leaves office. As long as there are US troops mucking about the Levant, whose numbers increase until bail out day, he can offset the accusations of being a surrender monkey. Après lui, le déluge.


No congresscritter would survive the following election.


Thank you for your excellent analysis Doctor Brenner. It seems to me that the only power that knows what it wants to achieve in the Middle East and is sticking rigidly to that aim is Israel, and their intention is to build "greater Israel". To achieve that end requires the destruction of Arab nations and their conversion into fragmented warring tribes as far as possible. This seems to me the only constant in the area and America, with Israel and its supporters constant urging, is the agent of the deliberate tumult.

This process is well underway in Syria, virtually complete in Iraq, Yemen is getting a taste of it now. Turkey has had a taste in Kurdistan. Libya is Kaput. Egypt has had its colour revolution and another one can possibly be fomented. Saudi, Jordan and Lebanon can be destabilised at will. That leaves Iran as the only country with a basically coherent modern economy. Hence the enmity of the Israeli firsters for Iran.

Hence my opinion - our strategic and tactical choices in the Middle East are limited by the unspoken imperative of not doing anything that would empower, embolden or encourage Iran in any ay shape or form.

To put that another way, isn't everything we do coherent if we assume that the guiding principle is to turn the Middle East into a garbage dump of failed states?

FB Ali

I would not quarrel with that depiction. After all, both Israel and Saudi Arabia are for this policy; their combined effort in Washington would easily push the WH into backing it.

What I would find difficult to accept is the proposition that there is some coherent overarching WH policy that is in play in the region. What seems to be happening is that various functionaries keep pushing their pet agenda until it gets a half-nod from the 'Boss' or his assistants; this is then implemented by them in the manner they choose. Thus you get different policies being implemented all over the place with no central purpose or strategy.

William R. Cumming

Babak! Respectfully disagree! All the countries you mention have SKIN IN THE GAME in various ways including historical forces. But FP and their polity have far different choices than the world's oldest and richest democracy [Republic]!

William R. Cumming

Sorry to have to agree!

William R. Cumming

Thanks for this comment General Ali! And yes many dangers in letting 1000 FLOWERS BLOOM. Hoping they are not the poppies of Flanders Field.

William R. Cumming

ALL: Am I wrong to believe that MENA the Achilles Heel for the EU? And the EU and Israel the Achilles heel for the USA?

Kim Sky

Great article by Alfred W. McCoy, "The Geopolitics of American Global Decline"

As you finalize with what the Chinese are doing with two trillion...


In a recent interview on Scott Horton Radio he says: All the rail-lines China is laying within it's own territory, the new port in Pakistan, the rail-lines from China to Madrid, to Germany, will render the US military irrelevant. Coupled with the new China investment bank...

The invisible bonus that every American gets everyday because the dollar is the global currency -- that's on China's agenda, they want to knock us off, they're going to use the Yuan or the Euro, something, anything other than the dollar.

When we're paying four-times as much for food and we cannot afford to buy cars and all the rest of it, it's not going to be pleasant!

... You might say, "What are the leaders in Washington doing about this, are they thinking about this?" They're doing nothing. Our country's leaders, our billionaires, the people that have the vast resources aside to set the collective agenda of society, to maybe renew our infrastructure, improve our education, improve our global competitiveness, realizing that we're playing for keeps – that this is serious, that the free ride is over. You hear that from anybody? No. It is completely irresponsible, and when the history of the decline and fall of the American Empire is written, people will point the finger at our corrupt, lazy, affluent spoiled elites, just as they did the Romans.

From me: Imagine, we've had the "free ride" and what have we done for this country? Spent it all on the military. Given it all away to the super-rich. Given all our wealth to far away places!

Babak Makkinejad

The GAME, as far as I can tell, still remains this:

"In the Cause of Wounding Iran, no action is extreme."

FB Ali

From a report in McClatchy News:

“Until now we don’t know what the coalition wants. Does it intend to fight ISIS or empower ISIS?” said Gen. Ahmed Berri, the deputy chief of staff of moderate rebel forces....."

( http://tinyurl.com/nagjy5k )


Related and recommended:

Chas Freeman - Too Quick on the Draw: Militarism and the Malpractice of Diplomacy in America



Unfortunately, I agree.

Also, having allowed the non-weaponized nuclear program to go forward, the US/Israel/SA will pursue a consistent attack against Iranian conventional abilities.


First of all, I am sorry about my emotional outcry. Would you please excuse my bad behavior, Dr. Brenner?

When I read the IWS article Pat linked to, one of your passages above was on my mind:
"Within Syria, the administration looks to being slowly buying into that other Saudi-Israeli fictional narrative, i.e. that al-Nusra/Army of Conquest is a different sort of beast from ISIL. That means giving a silent benediction to the former’s lending its indirect and indirect support and welcoming the ultimate collapse of the Assad regime."

So by now, the "axis of evil" has mutated into the "axis of resistance", but never mind, everything else is staying on course.

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