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10 October 2015


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The Twisted Genius


I think IS is just as likely to try to reopen an MSR to the Turkish border as push deeper into Iraq. The Iraqi Army, militia forces and Iranians will have a better chance of being a successful anvil with the help of Russian intelligence. Look at the recent Iraqi air attack on the IS leadership convoy. I have no doubt that was due to Russian intelligence.


"Clinton and those "shock-therapy privatization" economists known as the Harvard Gang ..."

different clue, Harvard may not fit all our purposes.

A former banker from Austria, who worked across the world, I am following more recently once referred to them as the "Chicago boys", it feels he may have referred to the Milton Friedman tradition.



David, Paul Robinson no doubt seems to be very, very interesting.

"Putin is inadvertently stoking the forces of secessionism in those parts of Russia that are historically and culturally Islamic.'"

Room full of mirrors? At least considering the break up of former Yugoslavia. A new revolution imported from the outside, this time not bringing Marxism but another wave of a neoliberal revolution that will fail the vast majority? Nothing to worry though.

this sticked out for me in the New Yorker article:
"Fyodor Krasheninnikov, the head of the Institute for the Development and Modernization of Public Relations, emphasized, from his office in Yekaterinburg, that it was “impossible to achieve this inside Russia. . . . It has to be done from the outside.”


Hard to find this institute on the web, and the name of its head leads us to the Moscow Times. Interesting about info:



"there is no light in between them in what you described - mot even nuance."

To claim that there are no "nuances" is wrong. Two weeks ago the German TV channel ZDF aired an interview with foreign minister Steimeier, his position in respect to Assad was quite interesting, Russia would agree.

You may argue that the nuances do not matter, no problem on my side. To claim that there are no nuances is nonsense.

Babak Makkinejad

I am happy to be proven wrong.


Thanks, Paveway, do I need to add the rest, without ever being able to know what it may have meant for you. Besides, how you explained the updating.

"That forces you to question the nature of your own service, patriotism, the U.S. government and everything else. You can't hide behind stupid any more."

The "nature of ...[the] service"

may well be what kept me here as post WWII born German. ...

I know a lot of army graveyards around here, thus I am pretty aware of the many, many e.g. US soldiers that gave their lives for me not growing up under Hitler. ... I am much less sure of the aftermath. If you are a 13 year old female, I may be a six year old nitwit with big wide open eyes trying to understand the world out there.

but interesting. I am rather used to look up acronyms around here. In your case I did not look up 2WS.

And strictly "Second Widow Syndrome" sounds odd. But why not? Why do I have these troubles with my father, thrown into WWII, and reported dead at one point, by the way, in 1944.



"I am much less sure of the aftermath. If you are a 13 year old female," I presume that you were in the US Zone of Occupation. I was there as a boy just a few years younger. What I remember is that the US Occupation made great efforts to help the German people. pl



Thanks. It looks like the Russians and allies are doing what we should have done a couple of years ago.


"US Occupation made great efforts to help the German people"

Yes. The US occupation of Germany was by and large actually a rather benevolent affair for which we should be grateful.


" Why are you so pessimistic? We have failed in the region. That does not mean that everyone will fail as we did. "

The Russians have advantages that the US didn't have,, for one, limited goals, and then they ...

(a) are there in consent with the Syrian government
(b) don't harbour illusions about the nature of the enemy
(c) don't harbour illusions about spontaneous order emerging
(d) are agnostics about the magical powers of the free market
(e) doubt that purple fingers will fix Syria
(f) don't believe that what comes after Assad will be splendid
(g) ... etc ...
(h) ... pp ...

Their goal, the destruction of local Jihadis in Syria, is farr less ambituions and far more realistic that the US quest to Fredomize Iraq, remake it in Amerivca's image and then have the magic spread througout the Middle East.

Short of a game changer coming out of the blue, Russia may just succeed.

It's game changers we should all be weary of: Something like Ghouta - a ghastly incident, amplified by social media and presented as undisputed fact to shape the narrative before any facts become available that could cast doubt.

I firmly expect something like that. Some atrocity. My prime suspects are the Turks and Gulfies and their surrogates. The US will then pick up the ball or meme and run with it. They didbn't bother with fact checking over Ghouta or MH17 and they won't now. They'll blame Russia and/or Syria and will from then on simply stay on message.


The reporting is jingoistic BS, IMO.


"Thanks. It looks like the Russians and allies are doing what we should have done a couple of years ago."

Yes, it is striking, isn't it?

There you have the R+5 hitting Al Baghdadi's convoi and almost getting the guy killed and the US, given their assets and reconaissance capabilities and all their airstrikes in Syria, supposedly targeting ISIS, did not succeed in such a feat in more than a year.

For lack of trying?


David Habakkuk,

"..general confidence in the U.S. élite that toppling Putin will produce a situation which is preferable..."

My thoughts exactly. Beyond this, I should've taken the time to say that seeing a pattern of statements from US policy leaders apparently celebrating the concept of anti-Russia jihad, makes me especially concerned. If say it often enough they'll start to believe it. The buffer states of the EU should take note.

Also, thanks for mentioning Paul Robinson. I was very happy to discover his commentary earlier this year. He takes the time to lay out some much needed perspective that is almost completely absent in public statements and writings of English language governments, think tanks, pundits, and media.



When you have a Chicago trained intellectual surrounded by other academics it gets easy to understand that they don't have the slightest idea what they are going to do beyond the next news cycle; which is sadly one hell of a lot shorter than it used to be. On a bright note just think of Michelle's great Twitter victory over Boko Harma: #Bringbackourgirls. I'm sure "our girls" are grateful for their freedom.

Patrick Bahzad

I don't think so.

Ghouta didn't work last time. There are no more chemical WMDs in Syria. That one is done.

I also think a reshuffling of the cards is in the making and we might see a few surprises in the coming weeks or months.

Ultimately, and whatever background noise there is in the media, this is a campaign about reconquering Aleppo and the areas between Aleppo and the government held territory. Make no mistake about that.

Those who haven't figured that out, should brace themselves for it ! Whether this operation will be used as a pawn in negotiations about partition or a government of "national unity" is another matter, but militarily this is the endgame here, not some border correction and protection of the Allawi heartland only.

The West thought they could tilt the balance their way, with the establishment of a NFZ that would have been officially aimed at defending the "moderate rebels" against attacks by ISIS, while in fact giving the Coalition the same leeway as in Libya.

Russia recognized these intentions and created a "fait accompli" that cannot be changed on the ground anymore. There is now a de facto no fly zone over the Western half of Syria and it's a Russian one.

The militarily advantages that go with such a NFZ are huge. Add to it, the firepower of a modern artillery, the Russian airstrikes, the additional manpower provided for by regional allies of Assad and you got enough fuel in your tank to make a large scale push towards Idlib and Aleppo.

Will it be enough to repel the rebels out of these areas ? I don't know. But I know it will be tried and it's gonna take weeks if not months before we know the outcome.

As a sidenote, I don't think there will be any real, serious assault on Raqqa by the Western backed YPG and "Syrian Arab coalition or the "Syrian democratic forces", for the simple reason that most of the Kurds are not gonna play ball on that one.

Ishmael Zechariah

Thanks for this nice summary. I especially appreciate your remark of "firepower of a modern artillery". It will be well directed hail against Toyotas. I hope to see the videos, similar to Donbass.

Ishmael Zechariah

Patrick Bahzad

Wasn't familiar with this expression "2WS" ... To be perfectly honest though, I don't agree exactly with your narrative, but of course it's a very personal thing. I remember a time when saying "he died like a man" or "he died like a soldier" was closure enough. And That wasn't such a long time ago.
Maybe that is worth thinking about that rather than feed the beast inside you, like many of the younger guys do. Death is part of the job if you're a soldier. Think it is a lesson that needs to be reminded more clearly to potential and current servicemen in all western countries.


"I don't think so.

Ghouta didn't work last time. There are no more chemical WMDs in Syria. That one is done. "

you're correct about Ghouta - point taken. But I was rather thinking along the lines of a hail mary attempt.

Need not to happen in Syria, with the neocons and their interest to retaliate aginst Russia it could as well happen in Ukraine, or perhaps Georgia, just to try to put distract or unbalance Putin, and to change the game by shifting the narrative back to Russia not doing the good work in Syria but that they are still the agressor in Ukraine. The Ukies are getting desperate, and suspect being abandoned by the US and the West. Lord only knows what they, aided by old hands like Shaakashvili, think up.

Re: Artillery, reporting from Ukraine consistently indicates that Russian use of artillery was accurate, quick and devastating. A ukrainian HQ went on air and was targeted by artillery within 2 minutes. The Ukies had been at the receiving end of that throughout the fighting. The US and NATO in general didn't have such an experience for a long time, and good for them.

Artillery probably is still the biggest killer on the battlefield, and technology has only made it more lethal. Analysis of Ukrainian casualty patterns may prompt a reassessment of priorities set during COIN campaigns for personal equipment away from body armour against rifle fire back to splinter protection. There probably is no protection against FAE.

David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad,

I am sorry if I sounded intemperate in my response. And thanks for the link.

However, as I suspected, Cameron did not say what you suggested he might have said.

What he has repeatedly said is what he is quoted as saying in the first paragraph of the article by Phillipe Sands:

'As David Cameron prepares the ground for a return to the House of Commons to seek support for the bombing of Syria, many will search in vain for a longer-term strategy that guides him. ''We need a Syria free of Assad and of [Isis]'', the UK prime minister said in an interview last week. That aspiration — it can hardly be called a policy — is not one that international law would allow to be backed by force.'

What 'christopher c' was doing I think was providing one possible way of reading Cameron's failure to confront the real choices – suggesting that it is a cover for a preference for having jihadists rather than Assad in power in Syria.

This is a possible reading. An alternative is this. If one confronts the real choices, the answer is a no-brainer – the jihadists are a kind of 'existential threat' to Western Europe, for complex reasons, and the 'Shia Crescent' is not. The implications of this possibility, for all kinds of people, are too terrifying to face, so they bury their heads in the sand.

However, the combination of the successes of the 'Islamic State' and the Russian military intervention have made the attempts of the American and British governments to pretend that a 'third force' exists look absurd. The ostriches are in the processes of having their heads forcibly removed from the sand.

The precise implications of this are still hard to gauge, but we could be living through one of those moments when opinion about many matters decisively shifts.

Comments on FT articles such as the one to which you link have been among many indications that this could be such a moment. Another good example are the comments on the rather sheepish Washington Post article two days ago about the Saudi-U.S. collusion in supplying TOW's to the insurgents, and the likelihood that the result was to draw the Russians into the war in Syria.

(See http://tinyurl.com/pmn9g37 .)

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for comments.

I sincerely appreciate your generous expression of regret, but I would like to assure you that it was not necessary at all. I took no offense.

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