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16 October 2015


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Excellent article.

William R. Cumming

Thank you Dr. Brenner for your insights and analysis in this post. Worthy of the fullest consideration by all.

IMO the Pentagon and military leadership continue to improperly allocate its resources and because its minion always want to have post-employment opportunities the inherent greed and corruption driving the private sector overflows to the public sector.

And the FP establishment continues to fail to redesign US FP to deal with sub-state actors which in some sense to be immune to retaliation for many reasons.

And now technology through Social Media continues to erode the nation-state system.


The issue is that the US elite continues to see the (inevitable) reemergence of Russia, to the status of superpower, and China, to the status of superpower and after that the first hyperpower, as a zero sum game. It reminds me of the rise of Germany, surpassing Britain, as the dominant power in Europe. Despite two world wars lost, occupation, political division, and a substantial loss of territory, the end result has still been the German domination of Europe. Fortunately I believe both the Russian and Chinese elite are less militaristic, and more savvy, than the old Prussian elite, but I fear the US elite is far less capable than the Edwardian British elite, that despite the close relations between the elites of both countries, still failed to come to agreement as to how the two countries interests could be reconciled.

One only has to look at the relationship Russia has struck with China, and the mutual interests they have focused on, such as a stable Central Asia or respective economic development, to see the right path to travel down. Allying oneself to the Gulfies, Turkey or Israel, who have no other alternatives anyway, is not the way to go. There is a lot of goodwill in the world for the US to knock some heads together in the region and get a lasting settlement to bring stability, it is alarming to see the opposite path taken and I expect this will only alienate Europe and moderate countries in the region.


Just trying to see who this is....I cannot find a picture but it appear to be the Michael Brenner at the University of Pittsburgh....Is this true.


Excellent take.

It misses one point though that was probably the larger plan behind the policies that Russia thankfully interrupted.

The DIA 2012 briefing spoke of a "salafist principality" that the enemies of Syria wanted to install in east Syria and west Iraq. It has been installed in the form of IS and the U.S is bombing it only on the margins to teach it about its tolerated borders and how it has to behave.

Is this the Qatar-Turkey-Europe gas pipeline route the U.S. would like in opposition to the "Shia crescent" Iran-Syria-Europe pipeline? Is it the long argued Biden plan to split Iraq into three? Is it the Yinon plan/Clean break plan that wants to split up all the Middle East, except Israel of course, into tiny helpless entities?

What was the thinking behind the U.S. support for that "salafist principality"?

I have yet to understand the background of that idea.



it is the same man. this is his picture. pl


I categorise what has happened to America as a form of dementia brought about be an almost complete disregard for truth, honour, decency and honesty by all the political classes. The wrong headed Middle East policy is but a symptom, the dementia extends throughout society and the economy.

I used to excuse infantile behaviour on the basis that the person would grow out of it. Similarly I admired Americas capacity for self renewal. I suppose, were I an optimist, I would look at the current downward spiral as an opportunity for improvement. Not any more. I am guilty of the sin of despair.

Edgar Grana

Thank you Dr. Brenner I come away that much more enlightened. These are momentous times filled with earthquakes. EDG



I will state again my conviction that the DIA document you mention again was not a planning document. DIA does not normally participate in writing or discussing covert action of the USA. Covert Action is by law an activity conducted only by CIA. That exclusivity is jealously defended in the Byzantine jungle that is Washington. IMO this was analysis based on a foreign intelligence service's analysis passed to DIA in liaison. Perhaps it was German. Perhaps the foreign document was used by DIA to try to comment on activities of the US by using the foreign document as "cover." pl


Paragraph three is repeated in paragraph five. Have a look? THanks.

Babak Makkinejad


From FT:


Babak Makkinejad

In regards to your last sentence:

EU will follow where US leads - without a doubt.

As for "moderate countries in the region" - I can only think of Armenia and Oman; do you have any others in mind?


Yes - Professor Emeritus

Babak Makkinejad

And why EU, Canada, Australia have been conforming to US initiatives in the Middle East over the past decade?

In your opinion then, do those states also suffer from "a form of dementia brought about be an almost complete disregard for truth, honour, decency and honesty by all the political classes."?

If you answer in the affirmative, then we are facing a systemic form of degeneration in the Western Civilization and its offshoots; don't you agree?


Sorry. They say that repetition is the essence of pedagogy - but this is carrying things too far. Same caution should apply to presidential candidates.


Dr. Brenner

Your note shows the convoluted webs our government plays. I have never understood why the ME played such a large role in our foreign policy and actions. Yes, I know that many will say it's the oil. But that does not make any sense since oil producers have to sell oil to fund their expenditures.

I speculate that part of why we are where we are not only in our incoherent foreign policies but also in the incoherence of our economic and social policies has to do with the changing character of the American people. The majority of our fellow citizens it seems want to believe in the omnipotence of big government. So whatever government says and does is acceptable as long as they don't have to be personally accountable. The majority have also bought into the myth of Exceptionalism and it's outcome that whatever our government does is righteous. I suspect our identity politics has a large role to play.

I wonder how the neocons and R2Pers are going to deal with the fact that other actors on the world stage are going to challenge their actions and their freedom to act with impunity is going to get more impaired.



You may want to note what you found interesting in the FT article since it's only available to FT subscribers.


"EU will follow where US leads - without a doubt."
I am beginning to wander about that. For a long time I would have thought 'sadly true' but I am beginning to think their might be light at the end of the tunnel.
The supporting Israel thing has been fraying, and chaffing, for a while. The migrant wave has made the somnambulant public wonder why this is happening and the politicians are having to defend the indefensible. Somebody may break ranks. Germany needs a solution. The UK are hoping the channel will work as a moat but Corbyn now has a soap box and won't shut up so not having a defendable position could be problematic for the government.


"Where the Taliban fit into the picture is conveniently left obscure."

Well, those Talib barbarians take their Islam pretty seriously and if they came back into power all those precious poppies would go poof. An International Oligarch Concessionaire would go apoplectic on the loss of such income. And then take it out on receivers of his campaign contributions, screaming "you know the rule 'Use my Gold, Do as your Told''.


I would recommend "The Empire of Chaos" by Pepe Escobar, as an elaborate answer to your question. Chaos IS (sic) the goal.


I had a personal (this by definition limited) impression that the "elite" in Benelux, is still impressed by WWII and the post-Cold War victory. They just lack the view over the horizon beyond this.

Babak Makkinejad

That one is freely available - it discusses how ISIS is using oil and how its oil installations have not been destroyed over the last 13 months.


Article also available here http://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/how-isis-uses-oil-to-fuel-its-jihad-1.2392006


Whew! My head is spinning from all of this. Thanks for this wonderful article.

I think the situation is even worse than you have stated.

While there are others who could have done a better job than Bush and Obama on foreign policy, at this point I do not believe that any American president can handle foreign policy in an effective way.

We try to do too much for too many. The expectations are too high and the demands made on our people, our resources and finances are too high.

We are trying to do the impossible and therefore we can never succeed. We are voluntarily allowing our elites to drag us down in a spiral of debt, decreased expectations and living standards, blame and despair.

We are not a happy people and we are not making the world happy either. I think we will have to change soon if only because what we are doing today is completely unsustainable.

ex-PFC Chuck

The form of dementia of which you write goes by another name: Corruption. I don't mean here Quid Pro Quo corruption, in which legislators and other elected and appointed officials take payments explicitly in return for their support of a piece of desired legislation or intervention in some government action. I mean what Lawrence Lessig calls Dependence Corruption, or Systematic Corruption, which he defines in his book \\Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress and a Plan to Stop It\\ as “when individuals within [an] institution become dependent upon an influence that distracts them from t he intended purpose of the institution. The distracting dependency corrupts the institution.” The corrupting dependency in this case is the way campaigns are financed in USA elections, which has reached its anti-apotheosis, so to speak, with the Supreme Court's “Citizens United” decision several years ago. Congressional and Presidential politicians are almost entirely dependent on the contributions of big business.*

Foremost among these politically active business segments have been international banks, mineral interests (i.e. oil and mining), and armaments manufacturers. All three have long had direct interests in how US foreign policy is conducted and have had considerable success (to put it mildly) influencing those policies toward their desires. For businesses to have some input is well and good. But over the past three or four decades the dominant political-economic paradigm has become a fundamentalist form of neo-liberalism. It's advocates claim it is the path to the best of all possible worlds, but unfortunately its results show otherwise. What the neo-lib fundies promised was a “trickle down” economy but what we got is “deluge up.” As for its effect on politics, Lessig summarizes it in a few succinct sentences: “In the Soviet Union, the party line was that the party was to serve the workers. The workers knew better. In America, the party line is that Congress is to serve the people. But you and I know better, too. And even if we don’t actually know, our belief is producing a world where the vast majority of us disengage. Or at least the vast majority of you in the middle, moderate core of America disengage. Leaving the henhouse guarded by . . polarized extremist foxes.” P 169

http://amzn.to/1kb1KVs (Republic, Lost)

* Bernie Sanders campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination is the exception that proves the rule. If he does get the nomination, which I believe is unlikely, it will be interesting to see if he can remain dependent mainly on many small contributions.

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