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23 September 2015


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William R. Cumming

Thanks for your insights P.L. I would never let DP again be given any position of responsibility based on past performance and character. IMO he is what I labeled a SKATER always skating just ahead of breaking ice.

He is one reason the Flag Ranks have no real voice in policy in Washington. Hoping I am wrong and they do have a real voice in policy both military and FP.

Richard Sale

Pat has written a brilliant piece that bristles with insights. It could not bw better said.

Richard Sale


"- Petraeus wants John Allen's wretched job? Give it him. "

Colonel- I share your frustration with stalled/ inexperienced in humane US policy making, but I don't share your strategy of losing this mad dog bastard once again and once too many more on poor people of Syria and Irag. I rather see him in jail than in charge of anything.



I lack your solemnity. pl

Ishmael Zechariah

Col. Lang,

Here are a few views I and my colleagues share:

1-The real problem in Turkey is the utter, absolute, mind-boggling ineptitude of the opposition parties. The Donald is a MENSA-level genius compared to our losers.

2-The Kurds are screwed no matter what. They cannot get a Mediterranean corridor w/ Russia in Latakia and Tartus. Lacking sea access, they will starve. They again bet on the wrong horse.

3-As you have indicated, the KSA is pouring money into Turkey. This might give erdogan some more votes, but likely not. When Daesh loses in Syria and Assad wins-it has been instructive to observe the masterful way Putin has been playing this game- erdogan will also lose. A KSA-style regime is still not possible in Turkey.

At this point,I hope someone will publicly identify the bastards who finance the raw-liver-eaters and neutralize them. IMO the first country which should get a complete regime/religion change is the KSA, the (not-so) secret ally of the iszzies.

Ishmael Zechariah



Yours are wise words.

In my old age, I’m more apoplectic. There are powerful people who want to take down Russia again. I don’t see them ever approving a coalition between Russia and the USA to take on the Islamic State. Also, it would mean turning our backs on our “allies”; Turkey, the Gulf States and the proxy Islamist army that is intended to bring chaos to northeastern Eurasia. Syria is to Russia what Afghanistan was to the Soviet Union.

Europe is on the brink of a cataclysm; two million Muslim refugees, an economic depression, Volkswagen tanking, and continuous wars on Russia’s borders. DC will act as if there is an Empire until the bloody end while Europe is ripped asunder. Right now Donald Trump is the only one who would stop this tragedy.


lacking solemnity, i slip into frivolity. Jill Kelley is entwined in the lives of John Allen & DP. Allen for sharing many emails with her, and DP by having had his jealous girlfriend threaten her.



I have to disagree about Europe. Those aren't refugees, that is the Free Syrian Army volunteers. They figured out they couldn't beat Basheer so they decided the "soft underbelly of Europe" was the way to go. Looks like they are doing a damn fine job so fare. What's their casualty rate? Less than those lost by Obama's drone strikes. I think the "selfie seen around the world" has helped them immensely. The Greeks got screwed by Merkel, the "refugees" got welcomed. The European taxpayers - i.e. those with jobs - get to foot the bill for a generation.


You are all smart guys, but there is no way to justify a foreign policy, it isn't that kind of world.


The world is an open, evolving, complex system. Explain the technology for controlling that that please? I have worked on control systems my entire career, I do not know of such technology.

Waving your hands while saying politically convincing and plausible-in-the-current-understandings words can control other people's words perhaps, but not so much their actions.

I think that history shows it is difficult to run a country, most governments fail, and that it is always very expensive to try to do more, even if your military power is pre-eminent. Ours is no longer, if it ever was.


No, Jesse Ventura is the man to stop it. We know who he is.

Someone knows who Donald Trump is, but I haven't seen anything, so am more impressed with Trump's image control than ever.

Not the same as thinking he can take on DC's bureaucracies and have a chance of backing them down on any point.


An article from Haaretz on this topic- noting the Russian build-up and lack of U.S. decision-making.



The As Saud family and its Hijazi head-chopping, child-molesting, liver-eating canibals should be targeted through a Color Revolution within Saudi Arabia.



How profound you are. None of us had thought of any of that. pl


PL, a question for you about "de-confliction"... in addition to the US coordinating with Russia, what about the other players and their interests? How much is it possible to coordinate operations where there are so many countries and proxies involved, with conflicting priorities and goals? I keep thinking about that old cliche "too many cooks spoil the broth" and it seems like it would be very challenging to create any order in all this chaos.


My Thoughts in alphabetical order

Bibi - Was SUMMONED to moscow by Putin. The agenda laid before him was thus:
Quiet all Northern borders, no raids incursions or manipulations.
Stop support of any and all groups including FSA active in Syria, especially southern Syria.

In return Israel gets guarantee of quiet Northern borders while Syria & Lebanon broil. No rush of refugees directed to its borders.
Perhaps a 'peace deal' akin to Egypt & Jordan?

Russia interest in Israel
The most stable political entity in the region, It anchors the southern coastal flank. Buffers against the Egyptian/African Jihadi problem.
Russia will need discreet access to Southern Syria via Israel.
Notification by Israeli intel on any hostilities aimed at Israel to prevent further political deterioration caused by large scale attack on Israel.
Whatever other Intel the Israelis might be willing to divulge from their local spy networks & satellites.

Hezbollah is not structured for long offensive campaigns. Deployments breed social unease, mothers are lamenting the dead & wounded.
The new Jihadi enemy shoots to kill and kills to dominate, convert & enslave with religious zeal. This threat isn't abating and is arrayed on the north + west borders. A very different and terrifying breed from the Israeli enemy.
The treasury is emptying, Lebanon is disintegrating around it. Refugees & garbage are drowning the 'state without a government for 18 months'.
Social upheaval is afoot & Hezbollah needs to prepare to maintain law & order within the borders of its fiefdom and Lebanon.
Syria is not what it was and Hezbollah's only secure territorial border is Israel to the south.
Can Russia get guarantees for a quiet Southern border in return for aid against the Jihadis.

Russia in Mena.
Goal: Reinstate State or States control(ing) the region between Turkey/Iran - Saudi Arabia, Med sea - Gulf of Aqaba.
State(s) structure needs to be of at least 2nd world quality, run by strongman/democracy blend, tolerant of minorities, secular leaning . (Basically modelled on Russia or one of its satellite states)

Current Position:
Forces deploying in Latakia.
Backs to the sea within the Allawite enclave

Left flank - turkish mountain range & detente with Turkey. A strong military presence in Syria will bolster the (secular-ish) Turkish Armed forces political position and stabilise Turkey by countering the Jihadi flow. Russia will not suffer quietly a flow of arms & men via Turkey. The Turk army will have to lock the border down.

Right Flank - Enclave of Allawites, Christian Syrians, a fiefdom of Lebanese Christians, followed by a muddle of Sunnis, Shiite Hezbollah fiefdom, then Israel. Syrian State forces in south Syria pocket parallel to Hezbollah fiefdom.
This flank is prone to social upheaval with Lebanon's rapid decline into sectarian strife.
Needs stabilising, use Christians & Hezbollah to maintain status quo and disincline the Sunni muddle from taking the leap into Wahhabism doctrine.

Plan of attack.
1. secure nautical boundary, militants have shown ability to attack ships from land, (the latest is an Egyptian gunboat hit off the sinai coat)
2. Take control of An Nusayriyan Mountains, currently held by Allawites, must be secured immediately for Russia to have a chance of success.
(this range is the coastal mountain range separating the Med from Syrian heartland).

3 Have surrounding mountains controlled/defended by friendlies/neutrals/frenemies.
To the North Turkey, Kurds, Iranians
To the South, Syrian army arrayed around Damascus & Jabal ar Ruwaq Range, then endless Saudi desert.
to the west (coastal ranges), Hezbollah in Lebanon and Allawites, Christians Russians in Syria.

This creates a large 'flat-bowl' to fight the Jihadis where modern battle armour, planes, Satellites etal excel.

4. Drive East through the Jihadi bowl pushing towards a patchwork of Iraqi/Irani forces and the shiite heartland where fleeing Jihadis will have problems finding refuge & taking root. Russia + Syria main forces are suited for the open plains & hills. These forces closely followed by former instruments of the Syrian state - police, secret service, bureaucrats and returning civilians to mop up, instil law and order, identify & destroy any Jihadi cells in hiding in territory gained.

If the Jihadis manage to take control of a mountain range with valid supply lines a la Afghanistan, then all is lost in a mountain war of attrition.

Further Russian air support is coming via Egypt which purchased the 2 helicopter carriers custom built by the French for the Russians. They will be manned, equipped, maintained and operated by the Russians b/c the Egyptians don't have the skills to man such a vessel or the need for 2 carriers.
Look for Egypt to join peacekeeping forces in Lebanon or some such guise.


USA will do nothing as long as Israel is safeguarded. The Israeli lobby nowadays is for the most part born again evangelicals with their agenda of resurrections, second comings and raptures. Jews running the holy places is integral to it all. Pilgrimages to Jerusalem would not be possible with Wahhabism controlling the holy spaces. The Special relationship is all based on the US being a Christian Nation. In God We Trust.

Europe has had its fill of migrants - now refugees. It will not be able to assimilate them or support them. The borders are going up, the limited armed forces will be deployed to borders then if Russian intervention works in Syria they will try to emulate this success in Northern Africa to stem that immigration tide.

None of this solves the main problem in Mena - The population Boom or 'The youth Bulge' (as the UN likes to call it)
Lack of natural resources including arable land to support the expanding population - 70% of population under 25,
No employment opportunities, extremely limited social opportunities for betterment and in large swaths the only form of education provided by Saudi Wahhabism and their limitless sprouting Mosques.
This Wahhabi global plague preaches, intolerance of all, wherever it plants roots. It starts by disclaiming the 'host' societies Elders, turning the local youth against the local Elders teachings of hard-earned tolerance and pragmatism that kept a truce between the numerous factions/clans/tribes/religions.
Many small muslim communities tell of a one mosque community suddenly splitting in to two with the arrival of a new Saudi funded Wahhabi Mosque. The elders attend the original Mosque, the youth and disenchanted the other.
The Jihadi youth will keep on coming till the Wahhabi funding stops.


Paul Escobar

Mr. Lang - Babak - and any interested Turkey observer,

In Erdogan & Co.'s intentions, do you think their end-game is basically an ISIS-like horror show? Or could it end up looking something like Iran?

Iran is also "medieval" in some ways. But I recently read Bob Baer's book "The Devil We Know"...and he thinks they (the Iranian's) are still capable of rational thought, negotiation, and some forms of meaningful progress. He draws a contrast between Shia Iran & Wahabbi Sunni Islam.

I know Erdogan is Sunni. But does that mean he is destined to create a "Wahabbi" state that typically puts creeps (and our future enemies) into power?



One tries to de-conflict with as many players as exist. pl


More on deconfliction- and the purported Russian desire to conduct joint operations with the U.S. against ISIS.



There seems to be a presumption that the Russians will succeed in stopping IS in Syria. Given their track record in Afghanistan, is that a good assumption? IS seems to have pretty good funding (Gulf states?) and a steady stream of volunteers.


Ever notice that Netanyahu looks a lot less arrogant in Moscow than he does when he's strutting around DC. See https://twitter.com/carlbildt/status/646639255599587328

Bill Herschel

Sukhoi Su-27 (30?) are air supremacy jets.

I would not put it past Israel to bomb Russian positions in Syria. After all, Putin has been demonized in the U.S. There is a huge proportion of the population that would say that Russian had it coming to them after their "Hitlerite annexation of Crimea".

The jets and the air defense are there so that there can not be another USS Liberty. After all, Putin knows he is playing in Israel's backyard supporting Israel's foe.

So, given the Flankers, they sent Bibi instead of F-15's to bomb Putin. I daresay he got shot down. Paper tiger? Emperor's new clothes?

Do you ever see Russian troops fighting in Syria?


Bill Herschel

Bibi the Mad may want to bomb the Russians in Syria but he knows that to do so is to risk the existence of Israel. You should not assume that the propaganda drug induced visions of the world that afflict Americans apply elsewhere. If Israel attacks Russian forces in Syria there will be war between Russia and Israel. Would this war result in WW3? Possibly but I think that that the IDF leadership would not accept orders to attack Russian forces. Yes, I could easily see Russian forces fighting in Syria. I expect to see that because that is the only way the jihadi menace can be defeated in that country. pl

Patrick Bahzad

@ Bill Herschel

"I would not put it past Israel to bomb Russian positions in Syria" ... seriously ?



IS presents a conventional target set. The mujahideen did not. pl

ex-PFC Chuck

Lew, It appears you would agree with Churchill's definition of history as “Just one god damned thing after another.” This is true at least with regard to its dissimilarity to the neatness of the physical processes you have spent your career building or operating control systems. (For the record process control was the arena in which I spent my career as well, focused mainly but not entirely in the electric utility industry.) However in my view history is not entirely without some coherence. I think there is considerable wisdom in a comment Bismarck once made to the effect that the job of the statesman is to put his ear to the ground to determine the direction in which the horse of history is running, and be prepared so that when he comes by you can jump on his back and hang on for dear life. With regard to the Neocon and R2P dolts who dominate the US's national security affairs, it's not that they're deaf, or that they don't bother to lean down and listen. They don't seem to even know that the ground exists.

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