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15 September 2015


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Let's make a few things perfectly clear - as Dick Nixon used to say.

1. Russia has a perfect right under international law and all precedent to act militarily in Syria at the request of its government.
2. This is exactly what the United States is doing in Iraq.
3. This is exactly what the US did not do in Iraq (2003) or in Kosovo or, for that matter, in Ukraine
4. There are no UNSC resolutions restricting such actions by Russia.
5. The United States in effect is arrogating to itself the authority to determine which external parties can do what in Syria.
6. There is no reason other than sheer power why Russia or anyone else should accept this.
7. Russia's principal motivation is not to engage in a Cold war style competition for military advantage in the region, as the NYT claims, but rather because it has legitimate fears of the implications for their own national interests of allowing the current course of developments to proceed.
8.Obama et al obviously hasven't a clue as what to do in either Syria or Iraq
9. The amount of unadulterated B.S. generated by Washington - official and unofficial - is stifling whatever capacity for logical thing remains after 14 years of the GWOT/war to remake the world according to our lights


Russia being in Tratus they have made the no fly zone that the west wanted. Good for them.

mbrenner said...

Well said.


"Frustrating Washington" is attributed to be a goal of Russia with its actions in Syria?

More ugly foreign-policy narcissism.


Col: WINEP real concern?

"It could also have major implications for Israel's ability to conduct air operations over western Syria and Lebanon...."

How rude of the Russians to prevent Israel from violating Lebanon's and Syria's sovereignty.

Allen Thomson

A slightly random thought, but why not put a S-300 battery or so at Bassel al-Assad AP if that's where Russia is establishing a presence. Self-defense, of course, but the system has a fairly long range...


It has been noted in numerous articles about Putin, that he has a black belt in Judo and is a big proponent of it's philosophy. It appears that Russia's strategy in Syria is a good example of this. The CONCLUSION section in Part 2 (by Jeffrey White) certainly seems to indicate that Russia has outmaneuvered the US with it's latest efforts.

"Central to Kano's vision for judo were the principles of seiryoku zen'yō (maximum efficiency, minimum effort) and jita kyōei (mutual welfare and benefit)." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judo#Judo_versus_jujutsu

Some background here... Putin and His Judo Cronies http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/05/15/putin-and-his-judo-cronies/

As for Part 1 of the WINEP analyses... got a chuckle out of the section on the UNSUSTAINABLE SPENDING of the Russians, as one could say the same of the US in many areas... for example US expenditures in Afghanistan. I would even venture to say that the US is clearly superior to Russia in it's ability to overspend and under deliver.

Revizor https://irrussianality.wordpress.com/2015/09/13/revizor/
Since the publication of my book Aiding Afghanistan, I have been receiving email bulletins from the office of John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), who is responsible for auditing the billions of dollars the United States spends on providing aid to Afghanistan. The emails don’t make for happy reading. They are a catalogue of money wasted on badly conceived projects. The latest email directs me to a speech given by Sopko at Georgetown University on 10 September, which is worth quoting in some detail.

Sopko mentions that the United States has spent $110 billion on reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, and adds that ‘To give that number some perspective, after adjusting for inflation, Afghanistan reconstruction exceeds the value of the entire Marshall Plan effort to rebuild Western Europe after World War II.’ He then proceeds to focus on just one aspect of this aid, the Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP), to illustrate the dangers of spending vast sums of money without clear goals and controls. ...

CERP distributes money to US military commanders to spend on aid and development projects within their areas of operations. ‘Incredibly’, says Sopko, ‘for the first nine years of CERP’s existence, I have not been able to find a single, clearly articulated mention of the program’s true objectives in any official document.’ ...

Wow! Despite expenditures exceeding those of the Marshall Plan, the US auditor ‘can’t honestly point to some actual, measurable accomplishments’.

The Twisted Genius

Allen Thomson,

First things first. The Russians are reportedly moving in Russian manned Pantsir-S1 units for short to medium range air defense. I'm not sure what AD capabilities Russian ships in the area have or can have quickly. The S-300 would get everybody's panties in a wad real quick. Better to move those in later if needed. I would think an off shore AD umbrella would be the preferred route.


I hope it's okay to post this here as it's related but not exactly on topic.
I'm very curious if anyone has read this article in The Nation and if so, what they think of it. I'm not very acquainted with Alfred McCoy but I know he's no fan of empire, though that's not immediately apparent from the article. I was a bit taken aback by it, especially as he attributes all of this to one man and because it has so much in common with all the Zbig "grand chessboard" writings and years of discussion and analysis of same. Is McCoy serious here or is it tongue in cheek? Is there any reality to it?
"Barack Obama Is a Foreign Policy Grandmaster"


Blog worth reading for it's AAR reconstructions (in French):

William R. Cumming

Yes delusions of grandeur now rules Washington and perhaps the contestants who wish to hold power after January 2017!

William R. Cumming

Can the S-300 be used surface to surface?


Perhaps the harbinger of a change of policy?

U.S. urges 'engagement' by Russia against Islamic State



That conception of Obama is so far-fetched that I couldn't manage much more than a skim of the article... and while doing so was reminded of Stephen Colbert's pretend puking game with Emily Blunt (while reading the final scene of Gone With the Wind) on Monday's Late Show.

While I am grateful that Obama is not a warmonger, he is still a very status and image conscious guy who seems unwilling to fight much against the neocon/r2p status quo, except for a few areas where he is concerned about his legacy, like Iran (and I try not to think too hard about what ungodly favors he has traded to get even that).

Some interesting recent posts by MK Bhadrakumar showing how well US plans for Syria and Ukraine are coming along... it appears that the blowback from the refugee situation in the EU is nudging the EU away from active support of US imperial games in the ME. Has a tipping point been reached?

Russia exposes US’ hidden agenda in Syria http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2015/09/14/russia-exposes-us-hidden-agenda-in-syria/

Ukraine tensions easing, but US won’t let go easily http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2015/09/13/ukraine-tensions-easing-but-us-wont-let-go-easily/


The outrage is because violating Lebanon's and Syria's sovereignty is the imperial prerogative delegated down to the Israelis.

Russia is expected to know its place - that of a second rate, regilonal power - and since Putin doesn't accept this, he is clearly an adventurer and a villain. How else to explain his petty spitefulness?

That the folks who are seen as Russia's pro-western elite complain ablout not being able to buy proper western Cheese in Russia speaks for itself. Their counterparts in the US are just as detatched from their repective populations.

But they probably all like the same restaurants in London, Paris and Dubai.

Patrick Bahzad


Just for the record regarding Roland Dumas' statements:

In Dumas' own words as I recall them, during a business meeting he had in London in 2010, he was invited for lunch by a "businessman" he knew, to talk about Syria. He accepted the invitation.

The next day, he had lunch with a group of 6 people (a couple of ex-Syrian army officers who had already defected, two British officials and one American who didn't introduce himself and merely stood by). He never mentioned Israelis in connection with these informal talks.

What he was told, was that an armed insurrection was being organized and he was asked if he was interested in acting as intermediary between the rebels' leadership and the French government. He declined.

That was several months before the first demonstrations in March 2011 in Daraa.


LOL... when the US lectures Russia on how to behave, especially when it's the behavior Russia is trying to encourage in the US... well... words fail me (Russian judo maneuver accomplished!). However, if this is a sign that the US is re-evaluating it's current Syria policy (rather than another excuse to bash Russia), that would be great.

Looks like the US is trying to pre-empt Putin's planned UN speech regarding everyone fighting together against Daesh/ISIS. http://english.pravda.ru/russia/kremlin/01-09-2015/131777-putin_un_general_assembly_speech-0/

David Habakkuk


The only way China could effect the kind of consolidation of the 'heartland' into an autarkic space which Sir Halford Mackinder warned in 1984 could threaten the maritime powers is in collaboration with Russia.

For twenty-five years after 1989, a chastened, weakened Russia looked for place in the American-dominated system. My view was: what's not to like?

For years it was apparent that the 'Promethean' strategy advocated by Brzezinski – and in particular, the attempt to incorporate the whole of Ukraine into a Western system from which Russia was excluded – would play into the hands of China.

As both Brzezinski and Obama were instrumental in the events which led to precisely this outcome, the credentials of either for geopolitical mastery seem to me somewhat suspect.



PM Netanyahu on his way to Moscow. Does the Israelis have anything to bargain with to leave an opening for Israeli air attacks?


Interesting, Bhadrakumar openly and clearly denounce the US as instrumenting IS against the Russians and hints that they have proofs of this.
The fall season may be even hotter than the summer, not that funny...


interesting reading. Zbig's thinking was colored by anti-russian polish outlook. historically, the Russkies had always been friends of the U.S.. Lincoln and the Czar corresponded about the freeing of the slaves and serfs. They did sell us the great prize of Alaska, yea, they did it b/c they thought it was indefensible and the Brits would seize it. Yet, they sold it to us.

It still amazes me that we had better relations with an Atheist Communist Soviet Union than we have with a Christian Russia? And, Why is that?

David Habakkuk

Patrick Bahzad,

Thanks for that most interesting clarification.

I did not think that the claim about what Dumas had been told about Israeli policy came from the same conversation as that in which British officials described the project of 'regime change' in Syria.

My reading of his remarks was that it was the view of Dumas that the fact that the anti-Israeli stance of the Syrian government was a critical element in understanding British policy.

As I read it, he went on to buttress this claim by reference to a quite separate conversation with a 'former Israeli prime minister'.

Is this a correct interpretation of the interview? And if it is, who would the 'former Israeli prime minister' have been?

(For the video of the interview, ee http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=6b6_1371812647 .)


jld, I think this is about the Chechen connection. Russia is very concerned about that.

Isis in Russia: Chechen jihadi group pledges allegiance to Islamic State http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/isis-europe-chechen-jihadi-group-pledges-allegiance-islamic-state-1507439
How a Chechen from Georgia Became a Feared Leader of ISIS https://theintercept.com/2015/07/13/chechen-georgia-became-feared-leader-isis/


Maybe it is more political Dada?

McCoy said "Barack Obama Is a Foreign Policy Grandmaster"

Duchamp said "This is a fountain"


taking the piss is both serious AND tongue in cheek.



What we 'miss' on our U.S. mainstream medias are 'spirited debate'. I'm watching Russian Channel 1 show Special Correspondent, to which they're discussing the Syrian situation subject matter for a little over 2 hours. The Russian Special Correspondent show is spirited debate, which is refreshing from the more and more bland CNN, etc. that we the U.S. public are subjected to.

Just my take on it anyway.

Patrick Bahzad


That is correct. Regarding the identity of the ex-Israeli PM, you'll have to ask him yourself :-)

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