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16 October 2015


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different clue


As a Shia supremacist ruler of Iraq, how would Maliki have ever gotten the Sunni insurgency put down? Especially since he oppressed and betrayed the Sunnis ( Sons of Iraq and others) into reviving it?
Maliki drove the Sunni tribes into re-supporting al quaeda and then ISIS all over again to begin with.

I begin to wonder if a Shia supremacist government in Baghdad will ever bring itself to offer a Fair Deal to the Sunni Arab areas?
Probably not on its own. Perhaps under enough Iranian torture and pressure . . . if the Iranians decide a Fair Deal for the Sunni Iraqi Arabs is the only thing that will drain their support away from ISIS.

sammy mcnight

This passage confuses me in what otherwise is a compelling and comprehensive analysis. The Sunnis (certainly the jihadist wing) are the moral and numerical underdogs in the region.

"An ancillary error, as highlighted in this discussion, is the elementary mistake of having "chosen" the "wrong" side. By this I mean that it is a basic principle of realpolitik that an outside power that seeks (for sound reason or other) to intervene in such a situation to its advantage should associate itself with the weaker side, as a matter of principle. The reasons are too obvious to cite."

One eyed Jack

EU will follow where US leads - without a doubt.-The Syrian nat gas line that will feed EU says otherwise.Its amazing how msm keeps Syrian nat gas line out of the US,NATO propaganda.Winter is coming!



you are a good and useful military analyst but your evident desire to blame the US for the world's ills is just sad. US failure to deal effectively with IS does not mean the US "sponsored" IS, but you want to believe that and will do so as will many here. pl



"[T]he absence of independent (from the United States) analytical capability" could suggest the problem is one of actual capacity. I suspect it's more the sheer weight of the prevailing paradigm steering most analytical efforts into well-established streams.

Those who do sense the shifting tectonics probably keep most of their thoughts to themselves. Going against deeply rooted establishment views from within takes a peculiar kind of rash courage. Still, the plates are moving and if the US persists in pursuing often inexplicable policies, that shift will accelerate.


In my business travel overseas I have noticed a general perception particularly in Asia and Latin America of US government omnipotence. Anything that happens there is a conspiracy theory that US black operations in support of some nefarious economic advantage is behind it.

People in those parts of the world have a hard time believing the gross incompetence of our government by and large as well as the delusional hubris of our political elites and the apparatchiks that climb to power in the bureaucracy.

I have found in Europe however a certain type of person that have had a historical bias as a "red" sympathizer and has always been against the ideals of our system as well as the success and strength of the US. I think that is a congenital trait.


The numbers are elusive and I was aware of that. In the Islamic world as a whole, the Sunnis are several times more numerous. That holds for the Greater Middle East as well since it includes Turkey. Only if we limit the region to the Arab Middle East (and leave out North Africa) is there something closer to a balance - IF we make Iran an honorary Arab country.

But the numbers are only part of the story. Sunnis have traditionally dominated the region. Only the political "liberation" of Iraq's Sunnis after 500 years has Shi'ite Iran acquired a potentially significant partner.

In functional diplomatic terms, the United States over the past few years has had three choices re. the Sunni-Shia "civil war:" remain assiduously neutral, back the Sunni bloc (as we now are unwittingly doing), or aim at transcending the sectarian conflict in the interest of regional stability by trying to foster a set of understandings that give Iran a legitimate place in the affairs of the region - especially its security affairs.

As far as can be seen from the outside, the Obama people (and those who circulate in its orbit)have not recognized the saliency of the issue, have not realized that there were choices to be made, or made wise ones. What else is new; the foreign policy establishment, for the most part, has freeze-dried in minds since 9/11/2001.


Yes that is the bit that put a big smile on my face too. Great throughout and a pleasure to read. Kudos Dr. Brenner.


One eyed Jack,

Try the Russian to Germany gas pipeline project that bypasses Ukraine.



"I used to excuse infantile behaviour on the basis that the person would grow out of it. "

This is the ongoing conduct of the 60's generation that rebelled against their parents ideals. Now that the unipolar world has been proven to be at an end by the very effective conventional military actions in Syria by a nuclear armed Russian Federation and her allies they are going to turn inward. Just think of the damage they are going to inflict upon American society if they are not stopped by electoral action soon.


Fred and Walrus
My wife and I are happy to have lived in the great days of the Republic. pl



Boomer presidents Slick Willy and Dubya brought about the disregard for international law and acting with impunity.

Gen Xer Obama has continued in that vein. One good thing is that the Boomers are slowly getting out of the picture. The question is how the Millenials are going to run things. They are an even larger cohort relative to the Boomers. I recently saw an interview of Neil Howe who does demographic research and he believes that while the Boomers were culture warriors the Millenials will be more like the GI generation. So there are some grounds for optimism. But...in their book The Fourth Turning they say there is an 80+ year cycle and we are now in a period of crisis. We'll need to get through that before an era of stability and the next generation of culture warriors arrive on stage.



Amazing how little coverage that deal got, even in the business pages. Hugely significant.


So life--and Europe, is a all wrapped up neat. A geographical area mapped out, and a chain of command. Yeah, sure. Nobody out there taking a train from "Lake Geneva to the Finland Station". Europe is an idea...as such, always in flux.

Babak Makkinejad

On paper, all EU decisions are supposed to be made unanimously.

In reality, EU is not a federal system of sovereign states of equal political weight.

In reality, the Earl of London, the Baroness of Berlin, and the Duke of Paris tell others what to do.

Or Else.

And they all fall into place.

If you do not know this, then you have not been paying attention to how EU operates.

Consider: "When and why Iran became the Enemy of Denmark?"

Consider: "Why a communication satellite of Iran has been impounded by Italy for 10 years?"

Consider: "Iran was supplying oil to Greece on credit when no one else would - the EU Troika ordered the Greeks to "cease and desist"."

And the EU Troika, in turn, are in cahoots with the Elector of Washington.

When, in Greece, you have pensioners looking through the garbage for food and in Germany you have people driving BMWs - then - in my opinion - you are living in a feudal system.


Iran's Mullahs make enemies. People in the 'West' are ready to hate them from the moment the Mullahs open their mouths. That is a reality. It is a--partly- irrational one. So it fits with the irrational nonsense (as I would read it, you won't agree) that comes out of the mouths of the Mullahs. Bush et al, had a certain element...the moment he opened his mouth he made enemies.

A digression, if you don't know why Italy is holding a "communication device" they impounded, I suggest it is YOU who has not be paying attention to how Italy has operated for centuries. Maybe they can trade it for one or another of those poor souls languishing some prison in Iran for kissing in public, or dancing, or some other 'bad behavior' the Mullahs frown on.

Babak Makkinejad

Again, the issue is not Iran per se.

The point I was hoping to make was that the Troika tells others what to do and they do it.

The Troika tells Greece to hurt herself and she dutifully does.

That is all.


Too simplistic for my taste. Greece does not "dutifully" do anything. She does under protest. Germany and the Greek ruling class wins. Now. For the moment. But at what cost? Setting up future confrontations? Other nations draw lessons. Yours strikes me an Principal-Agency relationship in the which the Principal says "jump" the agent says, "how high?" That is not the way I see life, or diplomacy, or history. I. The Greeks, begrudgingly dragged into doing something, for all we know, may set the stage for entire southern tier of the EU withdrawing from the EU. These arrangements are not set in stone.


Col. sir, Jack, Dr. Brenner

RE: "gross incompetence of our government by and large as well as the delusional hubris of our political elites and the apparatchiks that climb to power in the bureaucracy"

From what I recently gleaned...



Interesting, Babak. But over loads of sicsempertyrannis synapses, I am not really surprised, I may have been expecting it for longer now.

Full discovery: Yes, admittedly, I found Erdogan challening Peres in Davos, quite interesting. But I accept you tell me that Erdogan was indeed the wrong to listen to/?the devil? while Peres, with the little help he got from the female assistant, was the hero, I assume.

I forget how you used that event in your argument, but I did notice it.


This was a great article, with useful insights and really good arguments. I certainly appreciated it. However, I'm probably more ambivalent about Obama than most of those who comment here. A lot that has happened in the last few years could have been implemented a lot more intelligently. Who gets trained and who gets armed by us being an example. However, prior to the entry by the Russians Obama had no attractive choices. I have tried to think of which presidents have been faced with a similar situation and the only one that came readily to mind was FDR. In the late 30s and early 40s there was no mistaking the signs of what the Nazis wanted and, like IS, they were truly a bad lot. But he also had a country full of people who did not want to get involved in "that European war". Despite the ravings of McCain, Graham, and most Republicans (and some Dems under the thumb of AIPAC) most Americans are not keen on our sending ground troops into yet another Arab country. I know a quarry manager whose son was an infantryman in Iraq. Back in '06 & '07 I would ask about his son. We talked about the Iraqi debacle. One day he said, "Those people have been fighting each other for hundreds of years. We don't need to be in the middle of it."

I suspect that sentiment prevails in many quarters.

Babak Makkinejad

Of course disagreement is only natural; may the truth be revealed through such disagreements.


How could it ever be otherwise?


The report I have never seen is the heads-in-the-baskets rate for the intelligence directors vs all the other senior people in gov. It is the last possible brag they might make to defend their record of utter failure throughout history.



I'm sure the people in the gas and pipeline business are paying attention even if the press and think-tank crowd aren't.



Your example is still the one to follow in these darkening days.

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