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30 September 2015

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DC

Just viewed McCain's rambling, saber-rattling oratory on CNN. The old man is simply not balanced. The President's disjointed policy in Syria is allowing in-house rhetoric like this to get us into trouble.

Dave Schuler

In a show of spirit the U. S. has rejected Russian demands that we stay out of Syrian air space:

http://www.voanews.com/content/russian-parliament-approves-use-of-military-force-in-syria/2985313.html

What in the heck are these guys thinking?

Valissa

RAND Corp Report: Killing ISIS Leaders Useless, War Stalemated http://news.antiwar.com/2015/09/29/rand-corp-report-killing-isis-leaders-useless-war-stalemated/

More RAND Report details here… Killing Islamic State’s leaders useless; ‘deep bench’ replaces the dead http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/sep/28/islamic-state-has-trained-operators-to-replace-tar/
“Any coherent plan against the Islamic State must aim to eliminate, not merely degrade, its leadership and potential leadership,” according to the report compiled by the RAND Corp., a nonpartisan think tank. “The coalition has successfully targeted numerous senior leaders, but the organization’s focus on creating a deep bench of personnel means that attacking individual leaders will not destroy the group. Replacements will rise, and any damaging effect will be temporary.”

The report’s analysts, Howard J. Shatz and Erin-Elizabeth Johnson, also said that to do real damage to the Islamic State’s hierarchy, the U.S.-led coalition must not just kill the leaders but also confiscate their computer hard drives in order to identify more leaders and where and how they operate.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS, is both a bureaucratic organization and a terrorist army. It operates under five “fundamental pillars,” RAND researchers said: security; Islam-based Shariah law; military forces; administration and recruitment; and a far-flung media and social media operation.

The Islamic State establishes each of these pillars inside every bloc of territory it captures, so the civilian population is quickly controlled. Islamic State commanders, for example, immediately impose Shariah law and make contacts with local imams to carry out their harsh demands.
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The Beaver

Colonel,

Another site to follow:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2015/sep/30/russia-syria-air-strikes-us-isis-live-updates

"US official says US given hour's notice before #Russia began airstrikes in #Syria "

Looks like only the US and Israel were notified. France is peeved that it was not informed .

Looks like being at Turtle Bay this week should be very edifying and informative for those who are not frequent visitors at the UN Secretariat .

David Habakkuk

All,

But why should Obama be concerned? From his denunciation of Putin in his speech to the UN:

'In accordance with this logic, we should support tyrants like Bashar al-Assad, who drops barrel bombs to massacre innocent children, because the alternative is surely worse.'

(See https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/09/28/remarks-president-obama-united-nations-general-assembly .)

I find it difficult to be clear as to what is the appropriate language to talk about this: whether one should say that the man is actively evil, or simply 'what a prat?'

Be that as it may, someone who, after the catastrophic outcome of 'regime change' projects in country after country over the past few years, is not prepared to take seriously the question of whether the alternative to a brutal authoritarian regime may be something still worse – and possibly, very much worse – is clearly a menace.

Moreover, it seems eminently likely that Obama is a menace not simply to other countries but to his own. However, I suppose that it may be appropriate to reflect that, in his case as in so many others, it is quite likely that 'the alternative is surely worse.'

robt willmann

Dave S.,

In the VOA article you cited, down the page a little is a photograph of the Russian Security Council. Compare and contrast, as they say in literature class, that security council with the one in Washington D.C. I think it will involve mostly contrast.

jsn

There has been no consequence but wealth inside the beltway for our permapacolypse in the ME. DC has become a hermetically sealed money echo chamber.

HankP

Looks like they're doing us a favor. Is it possible Obama and Putin agreed to this a few days ago?

I still don't understand who Kerry thinks we can negotiate with on the rebel side, but I think that's more of a propaganda move until Assad is overthrown.

AbuAbdullah

Someone posted here a few days ago that the true indication of the new Obama administration paradigm vis-à-vis Syria will be indicated by the target and amplitude of the Russian airstrikes. Can we imagine a scenario in 2011-2014 where Russia is airstriking our beloved democracy-loving FSA freedom fighters? There doesn't exist a more direct successor to the long-dead FSA in Syria than JF. I believe a paradigm shift has indeed occurred, as to what spurned it so late in the game is a mystery to me(sheer embarrassment at the Div. 30 debacle? Waking up to the true possibility of a refugee doomsday for Europe?)

ThePanzer

Poor John McCain, some of his pet Jihadis were just bombed by Russia. I need to make extra popcorn for the histrionics we're going to witness over the next 24 hours by the various R2P and Neocon nuts in the administration.

You can't go into Syria under the pretext of fighting ISIL and instead try to depose Assad, only to gripe when Russia also goes into Syria under the pretext of fighting ISIL and props up Assad. Sorry folks that sword cuts both ways.

I hope Susan Rice has an aneurysm over this.

Cee

All,

The lies on the mainstream news are INSULTING!!

I'm glad that Russia is takin' it to them. The kids in the US need to stand back!!

http://thesaker.is/finally-some-clarity-about-the-russian-plans-about-syria/

Patrick Bahzad

One of the reasons why the Russians have set their eyes on Jaysh al-Fath is because the "Muhajireen wal-Ansar" are featuring prominently among this conglomerate of salafi and jihadi groups, including the AQ franchise JaN.
The Muhajireen have a strong proportion of Chechen, Tajiks, daghestani and uzbek fighters and groups. Although they represent a significant fraction of "Muhajireen wal-Ansar" they are by no means the only ethnics group that is represented within this organization. The specifics of the Chechen and Caucasus fighters is that they stick mostly to each other and that their financial means allow them to work independently from other groups within the salafi insurgents.
This feature however would suffice to explain the particular interest the Russians have shown with regard to them and might also the reason enough to justify the focus of some Russian airstrikes on these groups.
After all, wasn't one of the first airstrikes that the U.S. launched after they announced their anti-ISIS coalition directed at an AQ subgroup (the so called "khorasan" group) and also against Ahrar Al-Sham ? Ever heard the MSM complain the U.S. Air Force targeted these groups as part of their anti ISIS strategy ? I don't think so !!

Jin Jeju

People outside the United States, including people in Russia and China take McCain very seriously. They are alarmed and unsettled by him. It is seriously time for a quiet retirement.

Cloudedleopard

People all over the world are seriously alarmed and unsettled by Senator McCain. It is time for a quiet retirement.

Thomas

"What is the matter with these people?"

Well, when you sell your soul to Satan he makes you say stupid things and do even viler deeds. Cost of the Deal.

Kerim

Someone tinkered with the Kool-Aid and made it orders of magnitude more potent than it used to be. They've also brought the price down, so now more people are drinking it.
Where's the reset button??

Jose

Wow, you agree with Donald Trump...lol

mbrenner

"What is the matter with these people?' is indeed the paramount question. Not their strategic thinking, not their threat assessment, not their diplomacy by pique, not even their political constituencies. For there is no ordinary logic at work of the kind one is accustomed to dealing with and seeking to interpret. Rather, we are in the realm of psycho-pathology.

I truly believe that is the case for President Obama, and his consort, as well as those you mention. The fecklessness with which he conducts country's external relations is masked by a cool demeanor and articulation refined in the course of an elite education. In addition to his being a novice, being a narcissist, and immune to learning from experience - he now seems to have lost whatever interest that he previously had foreign policy. Today's NYT story about Obama & Kerry is just the latest confirmation that he is diffident to the point of not giving half a damn.

There he was at the UN, peeved and pouting in a juvenile manner because not everyone accepted the to him given truth of his superiority and unique calling. Perhaps the man should be put on indefinite sabbatical like Benedict. Castel Gondolfo in fact could be an ideal hermitage: clement weather, intellectual company, pulpit at hand, no reporters, etc.
In a more serious vein, the toll from our multiple and collective deformations - intellectual, political, emotional - is so heavy that reasoned and reasonable discourse looks to be beyond us. Maybe we should concentrate on avoiding calamities and accept, for the time being, that the country is not capable of bearing the responsibilities that rightly it should.

JerseyJeffersonian

Slow to saddle, quick to ride. Godspeed, Russia.

Jihadis are minions of Satan, dealers in destruction, devastation, and death.

If the US won't help to deal with these savages, at least get out of the way of those willing to do what needs be done.

LeaNder

I liked the way you got to menace, David.

What is the larger story about the barrel bombs? My new "friend" Brown Moses, aka Bellingcrat aka Eliot Higgins seems to be quite involved in collecting or documenting evidence. As are more polite circles like HRW, the UN and Hague, what ya think?

Matthew

I think this analysis fits in the "if we can't make it work, no one can" folder. See https://twitter.com/ianbremmer/status/649341233467252736

LeaNder

PB, maybe from the US empire perspective the Chechen mercenaries and fighters (to not use the term terrorist) were legitimate resistance fighters and still are? I know this is a rather lame joke, but I noticed there are a couple on the official foreign fighters (if I recall correctly) US list someone posted. ;)

turcopolier

LeAnder

I have explained several times that "barrel bombs" are field expedient munitions created to fill a shortage of more conventional bombs, you know the kind that are metal, streamlined and have fins? What you do is take a 55 gallon drum made for oil or some other content and fill it with high explosive in blocks or as plastic explosive and then you put in some pieces of metal for the fragmentation effect. The notion that this is a more heinous form of munition than standard bombs is just nonsense but this theme has been successfully sold in IO to gullible people. pl

LeaNder

Thanks Pat. As you know I am a nitwit on matters, but I vaguely put it into the opposite of the "more humane" precision guided tools, if I may call it thus.

turcopolier

LeAnder

Precision guided munitions (PGMs) are very expensive. The idea that you will find them in the 3rd World is ludicrous. pl

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