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27 October 2015

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Harper

Was it Snoopy who said "I have met the enemy and he is us?" Seems appropriate to the accurate account of US policy over the past two presidencies (Bush and Obama.

Valissa

Another US FP decision that doesn't make any sense on the surface... anyone know what the real issue is?

Amid renewed U.S.-Cuba ties, U.N. condemns embargo for 24th year http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/27/us-cuba-usa-un-idUSKCN0SL2BO20151027

The United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday condemned a U.S. trade embargo on Cuba for the 24th year in a resolution that Washington voted against despite warming ties and a push by President Barack Obama to remove the economic sanctions.

The resolution was adopted by the 193-member General Assembly with 191 votes in favor. Israel joined its ally the United States in voting against. While such resolutions are non-binding, they can carry political weight.

In July, the United States and Cuba restored diplomatic relations after a 54-year break. Obama has taken steps to ease trade and travel restrictions on Cuba, but only the U.S. Congress can lift the full embargo.

Valissa

It was Pogo http://www.thisdayinquotes.com/2011/04/we-have-met-enemy-and-he-is-us.html

optimax

Wasn't it Pogo.

MartinJ

CP

great post. I want to disagree on the point you made about Yemen only. Ali Abdallah Saleh has been working with AQAP from the start. He bears responsibility for the Cole attack. He established this relationship at least as far back as 1990 with the returning Afghan Arabs to Yemen.

He used them in the south post-unification to murder a whole swathe of the socialist political and military leadership. Since then they have maintained their cosy relationship. He gets US money for fighting terror and passes it down to them with strict instructions.

They've never seriously tried to damage any oil or gas assets in the south in the heartland of their supporters. Funny that. They have never killed any senior military or intelligence commander from the north who is based in the south. Never. Funny that. Instead they have attacked southern intelligence and security officials by the dozen. In the latest war in the south, AQAP didn't attack the northern forces once. As soon as those forces were pushed out then AQAP started attacking the southerners again.

Saleh is not a friend in the war on terror, he's an interested party because he gets paid so much to fight them. He'd go down without that money. In his logic its better he plays friend to US and keeps the jihadis onside as his private assassination squad.

Amir

All in the family: Where is the Al-Saud's flag?
http://www.economist.com/node/5350711

"Pirates flew the Jolly Roger, Jihadis use the professions of Muslim Faith, even if their conduct perhaps profanes it"
The flag, belonging to the source of the problem, was left out:
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sa.html

Religion can form the base of the sacred duty of the pious minority of autochthons to protect their society. But it could just as well be used as a motivating factor by the few to have "Das Volk" pursue the former's profane goals. At the end of the day, it seems that MONEY TALKS both in the M.E. as well as U.S.A.

Keep the plebs busy in order to fleece them seems to be the leitmotif and (at least the M.E. part of it) it is funded largely by the Al-Saud's.

An untraditional way of combatting the "liver-eaters" would be to take away the influence of the financiers by abolishing Citizen's United. Printed Paper is given unduly an influence and Al-Saud's interdependency with de printing machine, distorts the power relationships and allows them to hit above their weight.
http://www.mintpressnews.com/saudi-arabia-wikileaks-leaked-cables-reveals-kingdoms-buying-influence-monitoring-dissidents/206793

Amir

Core of the problem is "money-driven" politics, instead of citizens being in the driver's seat. When they talk about clients as opposed to patients, in a hospital, you know that you have a problem. Same as talking about donors in juxtaposition with citizens. This is a SYSTEMS problem. The exceptionalism, lunacy and reckless goals are driven by those that finance it, not the populous that undergoes it.

Babak Makkinejad

Do you understand, or can you explain, why neither Turks nor Kurds are interested in a Liberal Order - like the 19-th century English Liberalism?

Specially Kurds, I should have thought, would be interested in that rather than some sort of third-hand socialistic mumbo-jumbo that fits the conditions of Southeastern Turkey as well as my grandmother's tattered garments would fit Sophia Lauren.

VietnamVet

CP

Thanks for the excellent article. It is striking and informative at the same time; exactly what is not being broadcast by corporate media.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the USA and Russia indicates knowledge of what is happening over Syria and a desire to avoid a confrontation unlike the eight chicken hawks running for President who want to impose a no fly zone there.

The agitprop, lies and the fact that the overthrow of Assad would allow Al Qaeda affiliates to seize Damascus, all indicate that this is not a monumental FUBAR but planned. Crazies have seized control of the levers of power to bring this about. Austerity and the refugee exodus serve to export chaos to Europe. A regional holy war is being stoked to expand radical Islam to the Caucasus and beyond to Uyghur region of China. Regime Change proponents have big targets in their sights. The fallout will be deadly.

Shortly we shall see if Turkish armed forces invade Syria if YPG Kurds cross the Euphrates and cut the supply lines to the Sunni Islamists.

Trey N

The real issue is party politics in the US. Florida is a key state in the electoral college, and the Cuban exiles in Miami are a key bloc in the Republican party in that state. Many of them are elites (and their descendants)who lost a lot of wealth when Castro took over Cuba. They fled to the US and set up shop in Miami, where many rebuilt their fortunes and are big contributors to the GOP. They still dream of returning to Cuba and having their property and privileges restored, and their $$$ to congressman and senators keeps their crusade alive. Their campaign contributions and undying hatred of Castro and the current Cuban state assure that the US congress will only lift the embargo when the skies are filled with flying swine.

burton50

Maybe they can meet in Minsk.

pA

more than half of all Muslims in the world live outside the area's that came under muslim rule by the conquest of the caliphate, and most of them converted after 1400

that is most Muslims alive today are the decedents of people who freely converted to islam, many of whom did so in oppositions to the militant christian expansionism, that was conquering and converting every peace of land that could not by force of arms expel them.

and lets go further back, the area's islam conquered in the 7th century where all other than iran, christian, there was no need to kill polytheist since the Christians already did, and the byzantium emperor was busy oppressing every christian heresy he could find to the point that the christians of syria egypt and tunisia welcomed the invaders rather than resisting.
dimi is a status of protection not oppression, and jizya was to make up for the exemption from the zakat.

pA

"Amusingly, here is what the Quran says about Arabs of the Arabian Peninsula:"

i beleive the term arab of the desert is not denoting arabs as a whole. but is a contrast between arabs of the desert and arabs of the city,

arabs of the desert means the camel herders who literally lived in the desert, and where generally illiterate and living much meaner lives.

charly

Problem with carriers is that they sink. Without carriers no air cover. Without air cover no US army.

shaun

nice job. maybe I'll go cut my feet off now.

Yeah, Right

This is an excellent article, and very well argued.

Perhaps it is time for the American public to have a very serious discussion about a very central question: what, exactly, is the US Military supposed to be *for*?

What, indeed, is the purpose of all that military spending?

Because CP points out a ludicrous paradox: the US depends upon all those foreign bases for "power projection", yet that dependence is now so great that its "power" is "projected" in a way that benefits those who lease the bases, even if that runs diametrically opposed to the national interest of the USA.

OK. So why does the USA bother?

Why not tell 'em to go piss off, because the USA has better things to spend its money on.

confusedponderer

Rob Miller,
thank you for your comment. Re your points:

1) "ISIS did not come out of al-Qaeda in Iraq ... It came out of the Free Syrian Army":

No, it didn't. The Islamic State did emerge out of Al Qaeda in Iraq, though it later split from that organisation. The claim that it came out of the FSA and was funded by the US is frankly absurd.

2) "oil and other commodity trades involving OPEC ... delineated in U.S. dollar [are] a lot more important than the bases, which we pay to lease anyway."

Yes, important and another level of leverage that the Saudis and Gulfies enjoy over the US. You can trade oil in dollars all day and night - when the Turks and Gulfies say you can't use their bases that's it for any plans of projecting hard US power in that region.

While the bases could indeed be leased - you are aware that a lease requires a treaty and thus necessarily consent?

Case in point: The US could perhaps lease bases in Iraq (and why not, they (re)built them after all), but they don't get Iraqi consent - George W. Bush was unable to secure an according status of forces agreement with Iraq. The Turks refused to allow the US to use a NATO base - Incirlic - built by the US, funded by the US and the US could do nothing about it etc pp.

3) "It's a pity the Israelis knuckled under on Iran. The Middle East would be a much more peaceful place if they hadn't"

(sob) Yes, had the Izzies only bombed Natanz, attacking a nuclear weapons program pretty much everybody agrees they don't have, that would have fixed the destruction of Iraq and the consequences coming from that, and everybody would have lived happily everafter. (sob)

Who are you kidding? What would be exactly better? The Saudis would obsess over the Shia crescend all the same, and if anything, perception of Iranian weakness in the wake of an attack would have awakened their predatory instincts and accelerated attempts at rolling back everything Shia in their near abroad.

Syria's current weakness likewise wets the mouth of its more predatory neighbours - the Turks apparently tried to carve out of Syria a 'safe Zone' to add to Turklish control, and the Israelis were salivating over the prospect of annexing some more of the Golan.

And as for Israel's gambit, they have played it a lot in the past, also with Iran but on many other occasions. The current babble about the B52 and the MOP is just in the same vein: We're very, very afraid after the deal, which is your fault - Holocaust! - and to soothe us you must now give us a, b and c and do e, f and g.

They may have been dead serious in trying air strikes aimed at Iran - the Netanyahoo is that mad - but the Obamaites are correct in assessing that a strike, even more so one with Israel's rather limited means, would have achieved little, and it would at best delay a nuclear weapons program, if it existed.

To make sure none existed, or could emerge in response to such acts of war, would have required (a) occupying the country and seizing all facilities or (b) the 'pre-2003 Iraq option', which was policing Iran with airstrikes till kingdom come. It is really important to stress that (a) and (b) are in fact unprovoked acts of war (i.e. agression) which (the blatant illegality aside) very clearly the US would have been expected to fight, because Israel neither has the means nor the manpower to do so by itself in any sustained fashion.

My hunch is that an Israeli strike would have been of the Jack D. Ripper strategy of sending out the bombers in an attempt to force the US, against it's will, to follow up in full force lest the Iranians retaliate broadly.

Because Israel is America's bestest friend ever in the whole wide world.

4) "Speaking of al-Qaeda, did you know Iran was actually complicit in 9/11?"

That's a good one. You really believe that?

You know that was a civil lawsuit, do you? And the Judge said essentially that Iran, Taliban, al Qaeda were all liable for 9/11. That's a rather mötley collection, it strikes me.

confusedponderer

I have a hunch that that is a sura Shia and Iranians like to tell the Gulfie literalists about a lot ^^

confusedponderer

MartinJ,
thank you for your reply. I won't get into an argument over Yemen with you and I never made apologies for Saleh. He strikes me as having his finger in every possible pie and trying to deal with anybody against everybody - crooked as a corkscrew.

I can't get over Hadi because the man is so obviously a Saudi-US plant considering that he ran in a one candidate election, which HC patronisingly praised as, I quote, "another important step forward in their democratic transition process". Yes, as in going through the motions of an election sans the messy, difficult part of choice. If seen as part of a process at the end of which democracy blooms it already seems a little less absurd.

I understand that Hadi pursued policies that were perceived by the Houthis to be favouring the Sunni, apparently under the Saudi influence.

Be that as it may, it is a fact that the Saudis don't bomb Al Qaeda in Yemen in their ongoing war aganst that country - which for my point - US allies facilitating US enemies, while coaxing the US into supporting them - is absolutely sufficient.

http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2015/09/23/saudi-arabia-and-al-qaeda-unite-in-yemen/

If supporting Al Qaeda was Saleh's vice, then the Saudis share it.

Macgupta123

Iran, Hezbollah, 9/11 appears to be based on evidence like that here:
http://www.cis.org/node/3428

Macgupta123

Ouch! You call this a proper court proceeding?

http://cis.org/kephart/iran-hezbollah-911-lawsuit

"In an unusual move, Judge Daniels did not require any of the expert witnesses to appear in court. (I was originally supposed to testify at this hearing today.) Instead, based on the credibility of the witnesses, and their expertise, the judge instead simply had an open dialogue with the attorneys who worked for eight years gathering evidence – often at risk to themselves – against Iran and Hezbollah in this case."

confusedponderer

Yeah, Right,
I had to oversell the importance of bases somewhat but the pattern is right there.

I think that the paradox underlines the transactional character of these alliances.

The US provides security through hegemony, there is agreement on the enemies the alliance is aimed at (Saudi King Abdullah iirc quipped that for decades it has been the US and the Gulfies against Iraq and Iran, and that toppling of Saddam Hussein was like serving Iraq to Iran “on a golden platter”). Funding presidential libraries or dealing oil in dollars aside, the 'fee' is probably weapons procurement in the US, which is good for the economy, local jobs, and the US military, and it increases dependence on the US for spares, increases US influence since the users will need to be trained and all these nice things.

The Saudis used the arms, accumulated under an umbrella of US protection, to attack Yemen, apparently feeling confident that they now can handle it on their own. They feel they now have a greater freedom of action, and that their interests demanded intervention in Yemen irrespective of US disapproval.

The US for their part feel they are losing grip of the region and its politics and try to steer against that and to provide order by leading.

That is even rational at its root: Since US leadership and hegemony formerly provided stability, it's absence must be a cause of disruption.

Thus DC tries to exercise US leadership role, over clients who have diametrically opposing narratives of recent events and very different policy goals. That means resistance, compromising, and meeting conditions, a lot.

In the end, even assuming stellar US leadership - when it cannot give the clients what they want or feel they need, they will grumble and start to demand further conditions or undertake actions of their own, without consultation, or, as Turkey underlines, even go so far as to actively undermine US actions.

The regional balance of power in the Middle East has fundamentally changed, and the US tries to adjust. That is what we see.

Disgruntled US local clients (and that includes Israel) resent the rise of Iran, resent the US-Iranian rapprochment, and have their own ideas of how to cope with, or rather, how to capitalise on, the chaos left by the destruction of Iraq, and the weakening of Syria.

Increasingly the US find themselves in great difficulty trying to bridge the gulf between the interests and ambitions of clients and US interests.

nerd

One can include Pakistan as well to our list of frenemies.

Here are some excellent pieces from Christine Fair who is kind of an expert on Pakistan.

http://warontherocks.com/2015/05/honor-our-fallen-by-getting-real-on-pakistan/

http://warontherocks.com/2015/04/groundhog-day-in-u-s-pakistan-relations/

http://warontherocks.com/2015/06/how-pakistan-beguiles-the-americans-a-guide-for-foreign-officials/

Kunuri

Thank you, I hope I can be as kind as you when someone else corrects, or enlightens me on a hasty remark I may make in the future.

I may suggest four source books on Ataturk right off the bat, Lord Kinross' "Ataturk, The Rebirth of a Nation", Andrew Mango, "Ataturk", "Ataturk: A Biography of Mustafa Kemal, Father of Modern Turkey", by Balfour and Lord Kinross and "The Immortal Ataturk: A Psychobiography by Vamik Volkan and Norman Itzkowitz. Last one being my favorite, because both authors are renowned psychologists, and their take is from a clinical point of view of the personality of Ataturk, rather than historical, or autobiographical.

Kunuri

BM, valid question, one I try to answer myself. Quickest answer is that, Turkey proper and peoples who live within have never experienced a renaissance, religious reformation, enlightment and last and most important of all, the industrial revolution. English Liberalism has been the product of all four reasons I sited above, without them, England would still be a feudal, religiously dominated country, forever at war. Ataturk tried to cram all above into a very small time frame by sheer force of personality and vision, and we all know from school that it is unrealistic to cram a whole semester's work into an all nighter and still expect to get an A in the final exam.

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