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28 November 2015


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Bill Herschel

Most comprehensive description of the downing of the Su-24.



Aren't we underestimating Turkey's elite?

To paraphrase Henry Kissinger: "Turkey was an empire and a far-reaching one. So that dominating the region is not a new thought to educated Turks. Their military capacity and probably their economic capacity is stronger than that of any other single actor in the region. Their cultural outreach has been preparing them a strategic base among their former sphere of influence"

1) Turkey's elite are very very well educated.
The Robert College of Istanbul has done maybe too well, considering what Danton had to say about excellent education, lack of opportunities for self-realisation and revolutions

2) Turkey's elite have already tried moderate, secular, open market democracy and didn't get far. So they have been re-directing towards protectinism Brasilian style, family-oriented oligarchy, ???.

The way they spread and stretch employment through calculated non-use of available tecnology is truly admirable

(By the way, the tourist attractions in Istanbul are getting a bit shabby. Where is all the money going to?)

3) Turks do not respect us, the products of the Western cvilisation.
Unfortunately, they have had plenty of opportunity to observe us in the following hypostases:

- Western (and Russian) tourists in their fat, alcohol-drowned, rude, promiscuous loneliness

- PC-polite hosts to Gastarbeiters

- servicepersons in military bases on their land (Japanese short stories present a chilling picture of their effect on the natives)

4) there are Turkish/to-be-claimed-as-Turkish minorities all around

An example of how well Turkey's elite learned the lessons of power projection, let's say through culture, are Turkish soap operas. Magnificently produced, they do not shy away from modernity, are not openly propagating religious values, yet manage to infuse a sense of historical greatness, the rightness of patriarchy.
Words fail me to describe their effect and they are actively distributed abroad

Let's not be smug


The question is not who the Erdoganists love most but who they dislike most, except Al-Saud's:



The Chairman of the Russian State Duma puts his two cents in:

Russia has right to military response after jet downing: Naryshkin



thanks. a bit more detail here.


FYI In case anybody else wonders why an Aussie lecturer styles himself professor - senior lecturer in Australian universities is a tenured position equivalent of associate professor, so while he is clearly ideologically deviant, schismatic, and possibly a crackpot, he is not putting on airs.

Ghost ship

I finally got around to reading the WSJ article and all I can say is wow!

First up, the Turkish government has full control of it border with Syria. Nothing crosses that border that the Turkish Government doesn't want to cross it. That includes men, materials and the oil. Look at the border between Jarabulus and Cobanbey on Google and it's all flat agricultural land without an ounce of cover so that the Turkish government doesn't have total control is beyond belief
"The U.S. hasn’t officially requested a specific number of soldiers. Pentagon officials estimated that it could take as many as 30,000 to seal the border on the Turkish side for a broader humanitarian mission."
What humanitarian mission? Creating a "safe zone" on the Syrian side of the border? Might explain the arrival of heavy self-propelled artillery. And further down the article the magic number of 30,000 reappears:
"U.S. officials, including the Pentagon and the State Department, conducted an assessment this fall of how many troops it would take to create a safe zone, and concluded that it would take about 30,000 troops. Officials used that figure as a reference point to estimate the needs for a cordon, but said that could turn out to require fewer troops."
That last bit, mere puffery.
"U.S. officials say a bigger Turkish border deployment—including infantry and artillery units—would be the most realistic way to close off key transit routes on which Islamic State fighters in Syria rely and stem the flow of foreign fighters into Europe."
So the US government is quite happy for the Turkish governamnt to continue supplying men and material to ISIS, provided no foreign fighters come back the other way.
"Under the joint operation that U.S. and Turkish leaders agreed in principle in July, the ground operation on Syrian soil against Islamic State militants would be spearheaded by Turkish-backed rebel groups made up of Syrian Arab and Turkmen fighters, according to U.S. and Turkish officials."
So that's Al Qaeda and Uighur terrorists - this is taking my enemy's enemy is my friend way too far. And the "ground operation" was just as likely to be against the SAA.
Finally, it's interesting that the USG wants Turkey to focus on the border between Jarabulus and Cobanbey, so that leaves the stretch between Cobanbey and Kilis open for the supply of men and material to Al Qaeda operating around Aleppo and what is to stop ISIS fighters travelling further west to cross into Turkey between Kilis and Cobanbey? Would the Turkish government be able to distinguish between foreign fighters from Al Qaeda and those from ISIS. Maybe if they had collected biometric data on foreigners going into Turkey to join ISIS and Al Qaeda.
BTW, this plan will become largely irrelevant if the SAA or YPG close the border.
Finally, that the Turks weren't told to apologize to the Russian after the NATO meeting last Friday was probably down to the USG. There has been nothing said in support of Turkey beyond a few platitudes by the European leaders, so if Turkey invades Syria to confront Russia, I really can't see the Europeans doing anything to support Turkey.


There has been a demographic shift toward rural poorly educated Sunnis that are religious v. the more educated and cosmopolitan urbanites. Also I think Erdogan has paralyzed the secularists, the prosecutors, the police, the journalists and lawyers with fear. Finally there has been currency flight from Turkey for about two years which reflected also in devaluation of currencies. We will see but there is likely to be debt refinancing issues in 2016.


Ghost Ship

"So the US government is quite happy for the Turkish government to continue supplying men and material to ISIS" Reality on the ground drives me to accept the truth of this statement. And, as you say a bit later the US is also directly supplying AQ associated groups farther west. I guess the desire to reduce Russia to the status of a "mere regional power" is overwhelming any vestiges of common sense among the R2P Harpies and the neocons. pl


Here is an opinion on what forces had guided the Turkish shooters of a Russian jet:
“Turkey is so militarily inferior to Russia that it is unlikely Turkey would commit an act of war against Russia without encouragement from Washington. We might think that Turkey would feel shielded by NATO, but it is doubtful that many European members of NATO would risk nuclear annihilation by going to war with Russia in order to save Turkey from the consequences of an act as reckless and irresponsible as shooting down a Russian military aircraft and proceeding to lie about it. Turkey has issued no apology and no believable explanation. Unless Erdogan has lost his mind, Washington is behind the shooting, and the reason is Washington’s desperation to decode the new Russian technology that gives Russian forces total control over a battlefield, whether on land, sea, or air.”

It is written all over: Turkey was used as a patsy.

Chris Chuba

Yes, I totally agree that I would feel much better if the Russian backed SAA controlled that portion of the border, or if the Kurds with SAA protection / authorization controlled the border on the Syrian side rather than the Turks. If the Turks cannot stem the flow of men and material to ISIS from their territory then it is foolish to believe that giving them additional territory on the Syrian side would do the trick. I have to believe that even the sheep in the MSM would have to realize this but I have given up almost all hope that they can put 2 + 2 together and come up with the correct answer.

Actually, I believe that the defeat of ISIS will hinge on whether or not Turkey will be allowed to invade Syria and how Putin responds to it. If Turkey does and is successful then ISIS will survive and the Borg will actually cheer and not realize what has happened. If Putin is able to counter it and enables the SAA to seize enough ISIS territory to isolate ISIS from Turkey and the FSA areas then ISIS is finished.


You cannot bond with that scum. To sum Phillip Hammond position:
"We play a small but important role in this conflict; someone has to make sure that when the ISIS is driven out of Syria (by the Russians and the Syrian Army) a transitional government if formed without Assad, the Syrian Army and the Russians. We, the British, will form this transitional government with the Syrian opposition that currently fights alongside with ISIS. Right now we just want to bring as much harm to the Russians and the Syrian Army as possible."


Chris Chuba

"If the Turks cannot stem the flow of men and material to ISIS from their territory then it is foolish to believe that giving them additional territory on the Syrian side would do the trick" your comment assumes that the Turkish government wants to seal the border. IMO it does not. pl


Chris Chuba

"whether or not Turkey will be allowed to invade Syria" I have seen nothing that indicates to me that Turkey will invade Syria. pl

William R. Cumming

My only question is whose manipulation of intelligence will matter more in the ultimate history of US FP--that by President Bush or President Obama? I guess the latter. Public disclosure of the demographics and ethnicity of the 17 members of the IC would be a shattering disclosure well beyond those of Snowden.

And nepotism runs strongly in the IC!



This is an interesting point. In my experience and continuing exposure to people who work in the IC major agencies in Washington there is a "self licking ice cream cone" phenomenon in which civilian career employees are heavily north-eastern or mid-western US in origin, often from Ohio, Pennsylvania or Connecticut and educated in second or third tier colleges and universities and all too often in the poly sci/IR. People with the same background predominate in the administrative parts of these agencies. they are inclined to hire and promote people similar to themselves. There are few Southerners or Westerners among the civilian employees of the IC. As to the leadership the same groups are heavily represented. If, by nepotism you mean family, I think not. The Civil Service laws are a powerful block to that. pl



What is interesting are the new jamming toys the Russians have brought to the table. I know certain parties are frothing at the mouth over it.


Hope everybody had a good Tbird day. We had a real good time with our kids and grand-kids. Ate too much of course.

Ken Roberts

This (jamming gadgets) is an interesting topic. Currently the S-400 seems to be an expensive assemblage, rockets etc. But the heart of the system must be its distributed electronics capabilities, which -- I naively guess -- is capable of replication less expensively.

Was it a Bob Marley song? Just be jammin'?


The books shows that the story of Syria in "western" media as "Sunni peaceful protesters against a sectarian brutal regime" is a fake story and was so from the beginning.

It tries to get to the real story. That foreign Islamist fighters, supported by the Gulf and the U.S., waged war against Syria using the cover of civil protest that was (at least in part) instigated by "color revolution" schemes.

I don't know the author, an Australian professor, and have not read the book yet. But, judging from its introduction, it is consistent with the facts I presented on my site from the very beginning of the Syrian conflict.

Chris Chuba

Thank goodness but I hope that Putin / Assad have at least discussed this possibility and decided how they would respond to it just in case. The Borg have been clamoring for this to create a 'safe zone', and just about every political candidate has been talking about the need for the Sunni states to 'step up' as an alternative to the U.S. using ground troops against ISIS. So this indicates to me that if the Turks did do this that they would have political cover from us as long as they confined their actions against ISIS.

If Turkey stays on their side of the border then I believe that it is only a matter of time before R+6 can cut off ISIS from Turkish territory and this will be a big loss for ISIS. They will be able to use other supply lines but they will be much less efficient.

The Beaver

@ Mr Brenner

please check the date in the following, it is edifying:

"The Obama administration “misunderstood the [oil] problem at first, and then they wildly overestimated the impact of what they did,” says Benjamin Bahney, an international policy analyst at the Rand Corp., a U.S. Department of Defense-funded think tank, where he helped lead a 2010 study on Islamic State’s finances and back-office operations based on captured ledgers."



The Russian are kind of sealing the Turkish-Syrian border by bombing any truck that passes through and is not UN controlled and announced.

The Russians are also increasing their infantry in Syria. Expect Spednaz or paratroopers, supported by T-90s and heavy artillery, as roving force to break hardpoints in the Jihadi defenses. They already did this on a smaller scale in Latakia where they took some major high points.

Syria is getting refurbished T-72 tanks with a version of the Shtora anti-missile system to prevent the high losses against TOWs.

Turkey has deployed tanks and heavy artillery at the border and also a new electronic warfare system. They are building up an invasion force but I doubt they will use it. The Russian would just love to pound on such an invasion and Turkey would be alone as there is would be no NATO case for war.



IMO you greatly exaggerate the power or even influence of the US in Turkey. Once upon a time we had considerable influence there but it was never control. IMO Sultan Tayyip is playing the US and EU for suckers and he loves that. pl


Syria would be a good environment for the Russians to 'field test' their new T-14 Armata tank, and work out its bugs and squash some Jihadis at the same time. A win win situation for them and for us.

Ghost ship

The Turkish government could probably stop the flow of men and material to ISIS from its territory tomorrow if they were minded too do so and without any large scale deployment of the army to the Turkish border since most of it seems to be controlled by MIT.
However, cutting off supplies of men and material from Turkey is unlikely to finish off ISIS, it'll just make life a lot harder for ISIS as they struggle to acquire ammunition that will no longer be donated and trucked to them and to replace casualties that should occur in increasing numbers.

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