« ISW year's end analysis of operations in Syria. | Main | Turkey continues massive trade in IS oil »

24 December 2015


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Babak Makkinejad

Yes, funny, without a doubt.

We are probably witnessing an analogue of the Boxer Rebellion which, in an analogous manner to what transpired in the Far East, would be the harbinger of the destruction of Tradition Muslim Civilization outside of the Seljuk Boundaries over the coming decades; just as Sinic Civilization died in China, Korea, Vietnam...


Interesting, J, and helpful.

This is a superfluous comment really, but yes maybe some that did not take a look may do so. I noticed that rw below agrees with us. ;)

take care both of you.

FB Ali

To understand one major aspect of where the US is coming from, read Alastair Crooke at:


robt willmann

Yesterday, 25 December, the Russian military presented another good multimedia show about operations in Syria--


Maps were shown of general activity in the areas of Aleppo, Latakia, and Damascus, and also that the important Kuwaires airfield is controlled. Then, he moves to the subject of Syrian oil being taken by ISIS and moved into Turkey. When the video and photographic evidence of oil trucks moving into Turkey was disclosed at the previous presentation for the press, they asked the media to help to further investigate and disclose the movement of the ISIS oil to Turkey and elsewhere. But, of course, such investigation and publicity did not happen, and the Russian general seems to say as much (although I do not speak Russian) when he remarks that the oil information "did not become a revelation for most media agencies", according to the subtitles.

So, in this show, Russia lays out more photographs and videos, with quite good resolution, and some maps showing that ISIS is trying new routes to get the oil into Turkey. He says there were 4,530 oil tankers and heavy trucks in Turkey and 7,245 in Iraq, and shows truck movement. Although the astonishing images provide some more good laughs about the hypocrisy and pathetic lies of the U.S. government and Tayyip Erdogan on this issue, it shows how fraudulent the U.S. foreign policy is. And, if it would turn out to be demonstrated that some of the ISIS oil ends up in Israel, then the Israeli government, private persons, or both, along with Erdogan and others in Turkey, and in various banks and financial companies around the world, would be providing "material support to terrorism". But as former attorney general Eric Holder, current AG Loretta Lynch, and president Obama are fond of saying, there is such a thing as "prosecutorial discretion", which means in English that no matter how obvious the probable cause is that a large crimes are being committed, the executive branch does not have to pursue them if it does not want to.

Chris Chuba

Ghost thanks for posting the link to the Russian inventory on their missile technology. I don't know why publications fall in love with certain narratives such as 'Russians don't have smart weapons' and how this gets repeated endlessly in the MSM without any fact checking whatsoever.

In the first weeks of the bombing the Daily beast started publishing how Russian dumb bombs were increasing the destruction in Syria complete with a picture of their version of a B52 dropping bombs from a cargo bay. The thing that made the caption so irritating was that at this point in the campaign the Russians were only using the Su24 and Su27 which are striker type bombers that carry 4 to 8 rockets or bombs, either in the guided or unguided category. They certainly do not do carpet bombing like the silly caption suggests ... http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/10/02/russia-is-using-old-dumb-bombs-making-syria-air-war-even-more-brutal.html

Laser guided munitions are not only more accurate but they can be dropped from a higher altitude so that the target on the ground cannot easily see them coming or target the air craft with MANPADS. The Russians have not provided me with their inventory sheet so I don't know how much of which munitions they are using but I doubt that they did that for the Daily Beast either.

David Habakkuk

LeaNder, Croesus,

The essay by David P. Goldman – who uses the name 'Spengler' for his 'Asia Times' column – has an unfortunate title. Some of us can still hear Wagner's music perfectly well, and for precisely that reason, prefer not to listen to it (indeed, find it boring.) Also, some of us don't much take to the original Spengler.

As Goldman accurately writes:

'Wagner's stage works declared that the time of the Old Regime was over – the world of covenants and customs had come to an end, and nothing could or should restrain the impassioned impulse of the empowered individual.'
Perhaps one should describe him as the 'Francis Fukuyama of music.'

Actually, at the beginnings of German nationalism, a very great poet, Friedrich Hölderlin, provided an anticipation of where this strand in it might end, which turned out to be literally accurate. Unfortunately, I cannot offhand find a link to an English translation of 'Der Rhein'.

So here, from the translation by Michael Hamburger, a Jewish refugee from Germany to Britain, are the critical lines where he describes the revenge the gods who may take on those who attack all the old hierarchies.

' … their rule is that/He shall demolish his /Own house and curse like an enemy/Those dearest to him and under the rubble/Shall bury his father and child,/When one aspires to be like them, refusing/To bear with inequality, the fantast.'

Rather a good anticipation of Germany in 1945, I think.

The 'revolution of nihilism' interpretation of National Socialism has been put forward by many writers, both non-German and German.

Also brought up by Goldman's essay is the crucial question of the relationship of Christian egalitarianism to the Judaic roots of Christianity, and the role this plays in Wagner.

All this bears upon interpretations of Zionism.

Among significant British statements of it, the study on 'The Last Days of Hitler' by the historian Hugh Trevor-Roper is critical. It had an interesting background, because its author – in charge of collating and analysing material from Bletchley Park and other sources – had fully realised the radical gulf between the Prussian conservatives of the General Staff, and the millenarian nihilists of the 'Sicherheitsdienst'.

And he had tried, and failed to get his government to attempt to attempt a 'butcher's cleaver' move.

A Google search on another matter a few days ago turned up an entry on 'Mondoweiss' which quoted a 1989 letter from Trevor-Roper to an Austrian Jewish émigré scholar, in which he described how a visit to Israel had made him feel the country was recapitulating the German disaster.

(See http://mondoweiss.net/2014/02/israel-germany-trevor .)

Among the commenters was Stephen Shenfield, who I came across when he was writing on changes in Soviet security policy in the late Eighties (he was one of the best representatives of the 'Peace Movement' I came across.

his post read:

'Mikhail Gershenzon, a great Russian-Jewish philosopher in the late tsarist period, wrote a brilliant essay against Zionism in which he argued that Jewish nationalism would be similar to the Prussian-German variety and that the Jewish state would be in a perpetual state of war with its neighbors.'

This fascinated me, because Gershenzohn was a pivotal figure in the movement of a section of the Russian intelligentsia away from suicidal revolutionary enthusiasms, and towards sanity, in the wake of the 1905 Revolution. A great man, whose views are critical to understanding what has been happening in Russia over the past years.

(See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vekhi .)

I also came across my own responses to some insights provided to Philip Weiss by 'a couple of scholarly friends', among which was that 'half the non-Jews in English academic life have been anti-Semitic until quite recently (say, 1990.)

As I noted in my responses – which attempted to be polite – it was somewhat curious that, having ground up among Oxford academics, and studied at Cambridge, I had never heard anyone make an anti-Semitic remark. Some how all those academics who hated Jews did not want to make their views known to me.

And I attempted to explain to Weiss and his readers some of the complexities of the Anglo-Jewish culture from which I come. (Probably a waste of time.)

How alien this culture is from that of the contemporary 'Jewish community' both in the United States and Britain can perhaps be brought out in an interesting restatement of the 'revolution of nihilism' interpretation, in the study 'Hitler: The Führer and the People', by the Czech-Jewish émigré literary scholar J. P. Stern.

(I knew him slightly, and vividly remember watching a claw of a hand around a pipe, a relic, as I now know, of one of the ultimate lucky escapes, when he was 'tail-Charlie' in a Wellington bomber of the 311 Squadron, the Czech squadron in Bomber Command, flying against U-boats over the Atlantic.)

Moving on from his discussion of Hitler's anti-Semitism, Stern wrote:

'The Jews were not the only group to be annihilated, the lives of most European nations suffered irreversible and often equally grave damage. If I have singled them out at the conclusion of this study, it is because their destruction reveals with particular clarity the true nature of National Socialism, the spirit of destruction.'

This comment has already become, like many of mine, too long. But one of the reasons why Stern's study is so interesting has to do with complexity.

The motto of 311 Squadron – 'never regard their numbers' – came from the Hussites. But Stern's father was a Roman Catholic, who, when the Hapsburg Empire was disintegrating, opted to become a Czech: he fought in the Czech Legion, a most interesting body.

So Stern was brought up a Roman Catholic, and remained a kind of 'Jewish Christian' to the end of his life. This position commonly implies agreeing with Goldman on the critical importance of the Jewish heritage to Christianity, but totally disagreeing on the conclusions that his kind of Zionist draws.

I suspect if either Gershezohn or Stern could have read David P. Goldman, they would have responded: a clever Jew, but a fool, with not much in the way or morals, or respect for the best elements in Jewish tradition.

There are many possible responses to the dilemmas facing Jews, and I am not wanting to be evangelical in support of the 'Jewish Christian' solution. But Goldman's solution – a combination of 'Prussianism' and alliance with erstwhile and still latently anti-Semitic Protestant 'Christian Zionists' – makes no sense whatsoever, either from a moral or prudential point of view.

different clue


Well, I went and listened to that music too, and I don't find it grating either. I suspect I would find the sentiments grating if I understood the language, though.

It may not be broadly "western-ness of ear" that makes the music grating, but just a narrower matter of musical taste. Many "western-ear" persons find Classical music enjoyable, but other some other Western musics to be grating.


Chris Chuba,
thanks, and you raise good points.


Two things struck me about the excellent Russian presentation. First the number of tanker trucks seems to have jumped by a factor of about 10 in recent months which suggest either gross over or under estimation at some point or both. Second the video shows lots of semi-trucks towing regular trailers and not tanker trailers. One possible explanation is that the Russians are counting all semi-trucks regardless of trailer configuration.


He packed a huge amount of data and visuals in that 9min presentation. No frills. Just the facts. Impressive. Keeping it to 9min was a smart move too.


Here is a link to a front line Vice video of 12/21/15 from Ramadi. Very interesting to watch and a bit more informative as to the slow rate of advance. Note the comments on US bombing support are positive which is not what one hears from Baghdad politicians.

Abu Sinan


I think the death of Alloush and some of his subordinates will have little or no impact on the ground. His successor had already been named.

Abu Sinan

What was included at the beginning of the clip is what is called a nasheed, or a religious song. What stuck me is that there does seem to be some light synthesized sounds under the vocals. This stuck me because ultra-salafiyah/takfiriyeen generally view any sort of music outside of those generated by percussion instruments to be haram, or forbidden. As to linkage with Arab/Muslim prayer and Jewish prayer, I believe there is a link. A friend of mine, a Hassid Lubavitcher with a bit of a passion for Sephardic practices, has explained to me that at one point Jewish prayer practices were very similar to Muslim practices. Jews practices have changed greatly, but to this day it is my understand that there are certain times that Jews prostrate in prayer like Muslims, with the Sephardim, or non European Jews it is even more common that with the Ashkinazum.

There are differences in music and scales between western and European music, but I know very little about the mechanics f music despite loving music. The song didn't sound unusual for me but I have been in and around Muslim and Arabic speaking world for years. The style wasn't to my liking. When it comes to Arabic music I am more of a Marcel Khalife or Fayrouz type.

Babak Makkinejad

It is Islam that is closest to Judaism, in spirit and in practice; Christianity is a radical departure from Judaism and Islam is an attempt to mend the rift.

David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad,

To my regret, a spontaneous reaction of anger provoked by reading David P. Goldman caused me to post that comment without proper proof-reading, so it is not as clear as I would have wished to make it. (Some Boxing Day, 'good cheer' may also not have helped.)

The question of the relation between Christianity and Judaism is fundamental. It is also not easy. It might be apt to say that Christianity – as developed by St. Paul – represents a radical development of certain elements in Judaism.

An illustration of this is provided by J.P. Stern, from whose study 'Hitler: The Führer and the People' I quoted. The final English edition of the book, published in 1984, contains a preface written after some 'samizdat' writers in what was then Czechoslovakia had indicated they wanted to translate the book.

It is difficult to describe the sheer pleasure which is evident in Stern's response to this request. In the preface, he spends some time discussing similarities and dissimilarities between Nazism and Communism. And he concludes by arguing that, ghastly as the Soviet system had been, there was an element of common ground, and potential openness, absent with National Socialism.

The reason was, in his view, that Marxism was based upon 'one of the central tenets of Western civilization as a whole', and he went on to describe what he meant by this:

'I see it as the imperative, voiced for the first time in the modified Judaism of the Christian gospels, that each man, woman and child, regardless of birth or rank, is to be thought of and treated with equal seriousness and as of equal value in the sight of God; and the concomitant of that imperative is love of your neighbour as the highest human commandment.'

Whether the promise of emancipation contained in this 'imperative' is valid or a delusion is a central issue of political debate in the West over the past centuries.

A quite different version of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity has been articulated for many years by David P. Goldman. It appears to rest on his reading of a German-Jewish theologian by the name of the name of Franz Rozenzweig. Like so many charlatan 'intellectuals', Goldman comes across a simple explanation of very complex phenomena and regards it as a kind of 'open sesame'. (The mentality was very common among Marxists.)

From an article Goldman published in January this year, entitled 'Election Envy: The Europeans and the Jews':

'When real Americans – the kind of Americans who identify with the American Founding – meet real Jews – the kind of Jews who embrace Israel's past and future – there is an instant sympathy, for Jews remind Americans of what is best in their character: the new mission in the Wilderness, the vision of a new City on a hill.'

(See https://pjmedia.com/spengler/2015/01/21/election-envy-the-europeans-and-the-jews/ .)

One contrast Goldman is making is between 'real Americans' and Europeans, who supposedly have always hated, and continue to hate 'real Jews' – Goldman starts his piece by asking 'Why do Europeans feel such revulsion toward Jews?'

Anyone who supposes that there is, or ever has been, a monolithic group called 'Europeans', who have or indeed ever have had a single coherent attitude to another monolithic group called 'Jews', is not simply silkly, but quite clearly incapable of escaping from modern 'totalitarian' habits of mind.

One has to ask what can explain Goldman's hysterical ravings – and what they portend. A possible answer, I think, is implicit in Stern's study. As he notes, in early twentieth century Europe, a central point about Jews was that they were in no sense monolithic – but had practically zilch in common.

A 'distinct Jewish image', of some kind of monolithic 'people' all, as it were, marching in the same direction, was a creation of myth-making, by Hitler and Herzl alike.

In fairness, Goldman is quite right to point to the continuity between Hitler's conception of the 'Thousand Year Reich' and millenarian ideas originating in Judaism. As to Herzl's myth-making, it obviously drew heavily on ideas of exile and return very deeply rooted in Jewish religion and history.

And, ironically, it was Hitler who gave Jews something in common. But Goldman's notion of 'real Jews' remains not simply just another piece of myth-making, but once again, a characteristically 'totalitarian' attempt to impose a conception of monolithic unity on an immensely diverse reality.

It may be, I suspect, a characteristically hysterical response to the prevalence of intermarriage among secular Jews. (Of this, of course, I thoroughly approve: it was always the British liberal version of the 'final solution' – you simply marry them.)

But this panic is also driving Goldman towards a very strange view of 'real Americans' -- which is, once again, implicitly totalitarian. His account completely ignores the rather obvious fact that American identity is also extremely complex – and pins its faith in what is indeed historically a very real link between the 'election myth' central to Judaism and that of the original Puritan settlers.

Some of the ironies of this struck me in recent discussion here of the notion that Prussia was a 'settler society'. Actually, Prussia is an immensely complex phenomenon, not to be coped with by 'totalitarian' generalities. Clear examples of 'settler' culture are provided by the British, in a number of different contexts. But, as ever, the differences between different situations are critical.

Marginalising indigenous populations was easy in North America and Australasia -- in large measure, it happened as a result of disease. It was patently out of the question in the Indian-subcontinent.

A particularly interesting case is that of Ireland – which brings one to Oliver Cromwell, a pivotal figure in so many ways. It was under Cromwell that toleration of Jews – not actually formal admission – recommenced in England: and it did so under the shadow of millenarian expectations, on both sides.

(See http://www.olivercromwell.org/jews.pdf .)

Likewise, it was Cromwell who played a pivotal role in the attempt impose a 'settler culture' on Ireland. This cast a long shadow – the English Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton, with a characteristic mixture of whimsy and wisdom, remarked that 'the tragedy of the English conquest of Ireland in the 17th century is that the Irish can never forget it and the English can never remember it.'

(See http://www.olivercromwell.org/cromwell_in_ireland.pdf .)

It is very strange to see so many shadows of seventeenth-century history so patently evident in present arguments – and perhaps we should be grateful to David P. Goldman, for bringing these shadows into the light of day.


Are you using funny the same way I did maybe still do? Once upon a life time--all I recall is that an earlier fried kept reminding me that it wasn't funny at all? But then I used the German variant.

different clue

Trey N,

If that's the way the Shiaraqis see it and play it, then the Sunni Arab tribespeople will be left as unhappy as before. Which means they will keep festering in their bitterness until yet another such rebellion-force arises which they will support all over again out of bitterness against Baghdad-regime mistreatment. This might be a fine time for the Baghdad authorities in power to break that cycle by offering the Anbari Tribes a fair and square equal-standing-and-respect sort of deal.

I knew that many of the alphabet jihadis in Syria are Turko-Saudi backed and a fair number are Turko-Saudi imported. But I had thought most of the ISIS people in Iraq, at least initially, were domestic-Iraqi Sunni Arabs. Am I wrong about that?

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your comments.

I think Goldman, then, is a Child of the North, to whom "Real" Americans are the victors of the War Between States.

I doubt that he has ever bothered to study or to understand the South; the Southerners being the "Fake" Americans whose "fakery" was exposed and was defeated so thoroughly by Abram Lincoln - the Patron Saint of North - in that same said war.

You might be interested in this amusing book:


And the more scholarly:


I think all of this goes further back than the 17-th century and one has to go back, in my opinion, to the wars of containment of the Catholic Church - the so-called Reformation. The price of success against the Church was the new golem, a.k.a. the Nation (the Collective City of Man), which had now supplanted God as having legitimate power and claim over the life, property, and honor of the individual Europeans.

The new European states, in effect, supplanted the Church to the extent that was inconceivable under any of the Popes - and the evils of new states - in Yrpes, for example - and later in Dachau - surpassed anything that had ever been done which could have been traced, even in principle, to the Church. The new gods, the Nation, the States, the Liberal Order, Freedom, and Socialism etc. came to visit higher levels of destruction than anything that had preceded them – excepting the Aztecs.

If I were a Catholic, I think I could make a case for characterizing the Reformation as the gravest geopolitical catastrophe of all times - having brought us, even on this day – 12/28/2015 - to a situation in which we are only a few steps away from total annihilation and extinction.

By the way, the quotation 'I see it as the imperative, voiced for the first time in the modified ....' is well-known to Muslims - God makes distinctions among humans only on basis of their piety and nothing else.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad