« Be careful this Christmas season. | Main | Hersh article on the JCS, the Borg and Syria »

19 December 2015


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


Fully concur. While Obama is off vacationing in Hawaii and focusing on his legacy, and Hagel is coming out blasting Susan Rice and Obama for screwing up US Syrian policy, Kerry has his hands full for the next few months, trying to pull off something even more difficult than P5+1--but with Lavrov and Putin as his partners. Iran has to align with Russia. Assad was in big trouble over the summer, when Soleimani made his secret trip to Moscow to ask Putin to step in to Syria. Putin, as I am told, exacted a heavy price--major Gazprom contracts for the vast South Pars gas field off the shore of Iran, the biggest proven reserve in the world. Kerry has the harder sell dealing with frenemies Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. "Obama's legacy" benefits from a successful process and this is why the witches are at bay and Kerry has the latitude to act, in spite of Jarrett, Rice, Power and Nuland wanting to boil him in oil. Maybe Hagel's public attacks on Rice and Obama are calculated to give Kerry a bit more breathing room. Col. Lang's assessments of the military situation from the beginning of the Russian intervention have been spot on. The Washington talking head circuit cannot fathom that Russia has a strategy and it is working--and that it has a military and a diplomatic dimension. The Russians also realize that the Iranians don't get it either, so they have had to put pressure on Tehran to stay in line.

The Beaver


There goes Fabius once again.
Reason one journo at Turtle said : what is missing in the gingerbread model of the NY Palace hotel ( where the negotiations were being held) was a little gingerbread of Laurent Fabius.

FM Lavrov ( during Q& A with Sec of State Kerry):
"Just one comment I’d like to make: We hear what our colleagues are telling us. Let’s start political process so that those who want to oust Assad get some hope that they might achieve this result. And then they’re saying we’ll be able to coordinate with you our fight against terrorism. It is very sad that once again our common task – and that is putting an end to terrorists – is becoming a hostage to one personality."

No need to say who is that "one personality".



Would you care to elaborate what the Iranians don't get? It would seem they have many chestnuts in the fire.

If Kerry can thread the needle in Syria that would truly be an achievement. But....how are crazy Erdogan and Prince Salman and the Qatari emir gonna deal with the fact that their boys have to return home?

Trey N

The Borg believes (or pretends to) that the removal of just one man will allow them to realize all of their goals in the Syrian theater of conflict. I have to assume this reflects their contempt for the American sheeple (KISS, so the masses can "get the message"), whose support they need in the domestic political process -- can't have another 2013 uprising spooking the congresscritters to jump the reservation again!

Most polls indicate that Assad would handily win an honest election to the office of President of Syria -- as he has before. The many religious and ethnic minorities in that country correctly view him as a savior and bulwark against the Sunni liver eaters.

However, if the Borgistas really believe that the Syrian "Deep State", the infrastructure of institutions that wield the real power in the country, would be neutralized by the removal of just one man, then I believe they are in for a big disappointment....

Just for S&Gs, imagine that their other crusade against a country's leader achieved its desired results. Do the Borgistas honestly think that Russia would collapse into another helpless failed state if Putin were removed from office tomorrow? That Russia is incapable of producing another great leader to take over the reins of power and continue the policies that have led to the nation's restoration as a world power?

This faith in the efficacy of regime change may have achieved its desired results in Libya, but that certainly doesn't mean it will do so in more powerful, established countries.

Of course, if propaganda and lies designed to stir up mass hysteria are one of your main policy tools....

robt willmann

Trey N,

If Putin leaves his position, a likely successor is this man, Sergei Ivanov, another KGB-er (although the article is two and a half years old)--


Or maybe Dmitry Rogozin, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, who was put on the U.S. "sanctions" list in March 2014 because of Ukraine (I don't know if he is still on it; he probably is)--



Neither of these guys will say, "Yes, Master", to the U.S. or any other country's foreign policy, nor will they agree to let Mother Russia be looted as it was under Boris Yeltsin, et. al.

If Rogozin becomes president of Russia, and stays on the so-called sanctions list, things will get amusing when it comes time for a United Nations meeting in New York City; they have to let him in, and just think what he might say!


What you say echoes Aristotle’s advice to Alexander the Great on Persian elites...

Alexander wrote to Aristotle:
O my excellent preceptor and just minister, I inform you that I have found in the land of Persia men possessing sound judgement and powerful understanding, who are ambitious of bearing rule. Hence I have decided to put them all to death. What is your opinion in this matter?

Aristotle responded:
It is no use putting to death the men you have conquered; for their land will, by the laws of nature, breed another generation which will be similar. The character of these men is determined by the nature of the air of their country and the waters they habitually drink. The best course for you is to accept them as they are, and to seek to accommodate them to your concepts by winning them over through kindness.


Rogozin is outsider to Putin's team so if he will run he will run against official successor. Though he could still have a chance.



Reportedly American crewed sorties over northwest Syria have stopped since Russia started painting them with their upgraded antiaircraft systems. There is a no fly zone over Syria and it is Russian.

This situation is somewhere between FUBAR and Insane. Apparently John Kerry is trying to salvage something. Everyone else in Washington DC is playing their own game, waiting for the big payout from the fat cats. Russia is under an existential threat from radical Jihadists and Western color revolutions. Russia and their allies may well re-seize all of the Syrian Arab Republic’s territory, eliminate the Islamic State, survive the economic sanctions and build a separate but equal financial system.

The mad dogs will sputter saliva all over. The real question is will the exceptionalists and regime changers facing a humiliating defeat push the red button or can they just ignore it?

Trey N

Excellent advice! If only the spoiled children Borgistas were capable of anything other than schoolyard bully temper tantrums....

Trey N

Whatever Rogozin would say, he would have a very hard time topping Putin's recent "Do you realize what you have done?!" line at the U.N.

And as long as such capable men as Lavrov and Shoigu and Gerasimov are around to execute the policies of a capable Russian President, there is little prospect of the Borgistas realizing their fantasies of destroying that nation.

In fact, when I consider the harpies and neocons and Beltway Bandits sitting in power in DC, and then look at the men leading Russia in the Kremlin, the comparison doesn't bode well for the Potomac team....

As far as NATO vs Russia, this is absolutely priceless:


Who would you want in charge of your country's military when the balloon goes up?


Love it, perfect.

In the same vein some hacked and leaked Emails. (NB The authenticity of these documents has not been verified at this time.)
POTUS to ThinkTank: I have a problem in Afghanistan, Thoughts? Reply: Find an opposition group and arm them to the teeth. POTUS: It solved that problem but now we have a problem with the new lot. Reply: Invade then COIN.
POTUS Iran? Reply: Sanctions, Sabre rattling and calling them names should do it. POTUS: Doesn’t seem to be working. Reply: Give it time, another decade or two should do it.
POTUS Syria? Reply: Arm the resistance, bomb the crap out of them plus the name calling. POTUS: Can’t find a suitable resistance group. Reply: Make one. POTUS: The Russians have turned up, now what? Reply: Will have to get back to you on that, for the mean time deploy smoke and make a lot of noise.
POTUS: Some of my intelligence analysts say they have found a pattern in all this and are suggesting we could possibly be part of the problem. Reply: Ignore them. They are obsessed with facts and data and don’t understand the problem at our intellectual level.


My hope is that somewhere, between the button and said hazardeurs, there are sane people as the committee members here who put their duty to country and people first to stop enacting any such doomsday-option over what amounts to be hurt pride from happening.

I would agree that, finally, after years of pointless reenactment of Contra-warfare in Syria on the part of US-policy and that of its allies, times are finally changing. Operative word of Kerry in the UNSC following the vote was that it was merely his and others' "judgement" as to what was to happen with the current Syrian head of state. And Obama, in this year's last presser, framed his statement such that he was "thinking" that al-Assad would ultimately have to step down:


"Obama dodged a question about whether he believes the presidency of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad will outlast his own, saying, “I think that Assad is going to have to leave the country to stop the bloodletting or for all the parties involved to be able to move forward in a nonsectarian way.”

What I am disgusted by is that here, in Germany, leading "newspapers" and political magazines would shamelessly ignore this sea-change, seemingly certain that us dumb Germans would be, by and large, incapable to understand first-hand the statements made in the English tongue, a tongue not too dissimilar from our own.


I get the impression Kerry prefers working with the Russians more than he does some of Obama's team. A throwback in some ways to when there were such people as diplomats and statesmen.

The Beaver

I didn't watch the debate last night , but according to Matthew Lee from ICP:

"But at the December 19 Democratic Party debate in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton repeatedly cited the resolution as a new beginning. Clinton took credit for the resolution, saying it grew out of her work in Geneva."



Its exactly the same here in Britain. The BBC did give the Kerry statements for a few hours and then forgot about them, continuing like The Guardian and the Telegraph to hammer on about the necessity of removing Assad before a deal could be done, etc.

Perhaps its not just down to propaganda and deliberately distorting the truth. Perhaps most of The West's journalists have been churning out the Borg's line for so long and so relentlessly they just don't comprehend the existence of any other. Their world would become unreal if they attempted to speak another language and work out for themselves contrary arguments and world views.

There was a great book published about the Intelligensia's life in Russia after the Soviet Union collapsed entitled "Everything Was For Ever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation" by Alexei Yurchak. For months The Intelligensia could not understand that everything had changed. All the underpinnings and assumptions of their world view had fallen away. The incredibly baroque language which they had deliberately constructed to explain the arcane and totally obscure justifications of their governments' evermore unreal actions just had no bite in reality any longer. For a few months they continued to mouth this totally dead poly-syllabic language to each other like priests in a forgotten religion. Then, one day, they simply stopped.

I think we could be approaching a similar situation.

SAC Brat

Those were very good, like the old Soviet Armenian Radio jokes:
"This is Armenian Radio; our listeners asked us:"
"We’re answering:"


Do you have one for Ukraine?

robt willmann


I should have mentioned that the article I referred to about Sergei Ivanov was just to provide a little background information about who he is. I certainly do not endorse or agree with the analysis and opinions in it, because the Institute for Modern Russia, which sponsored the article, is a creation of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, one of the worst characters in the Yeltsin era, who "somehow" ended up with the giant Yukos oil and gas company without paying the "market value" of it. Putin and his people were right in taking it back, and Khordorkovsky is lucky he was not charged with more offenses, and that Putin released him a little before the end of his sentence.


HRC also stated in the debate her reason for insisting on Assad's removal: that if Assad were allowed to stay, Israel would feel increased pressure from Iran, Syria, and the Hezbollah proxy. By implication, then, Israel's interest in weak neighbors is dictating US policy in Syria.

Of course, the short-sightedness of this policy is also not lost on intelligence experts in Israel, who know that stable neighbors are much more important for Israel's security than weak neighbors. It is astounding to me that the assessments of the intelligence experts is being ignored on both fronts.


Poul shared this link on PL’s post on Yahya McCain, but I think it fits well here. Hersh shares the incredible story (worthy of a military thriller novel) of the JCS and DIA’s difference of opinion about Syria with the White House and CIA. Graet story about the backchannel fows of info and how German, Israeli and Russian intelligence were used as channels to help Assad behind the scenes.

Hersch’s report is long and full of too much great information to simply, so suggest taking the time to read the whole thing. However I am including a few excerpts from the latter part of the article, regarding our own Col. Lang, “the military’s rep” in congress Tulsi Gabbard and the new more compliant JCS.

Military to Military: Seymour M. Hersh on US intelligence sharing in the Syrian war http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n01/seymour-m-hersh/military-to-military
General Dempsey and his colleagues on the Joint Chiefs of Staff kept their dissent out of bureaucratic channels, and survived in office. General Michael Flynn did not. ‘Flynn incurred the wrath of the White House by insisting on telling the truth about Syria,’ said Patrick Lang, a retired army colonel who served for nearly a decade as the chief Middle East civilian intelligence officer for the DIA. ‘He thought truth was the best thing and they shoved him out. He wouldn’t shut up.’ Flynn told me his problems went beyond Syria. ‘I was shaking things up at the DIA – and not just moving deckchairs on the Titanic. It was radical reform. I felt that the civilian leadership did not want to hear the truth. I suffered for it, but I’m OK with that.’ In a recent interview in Der Spiegel, Flynn was blunt about Russia’s entry into the Syrian war: ‘We have to work constructively with Russia. Whether we like it or not, Russia made a decision to be there and to act militarily. They are there, and this has dramatically changed the dynamic. So you can’t say Russia is bad; they have to go home. It’s not going to happen. Get real.’

Few in the US Congress share this view. One exception is Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii and member of the House Armed Services Committee who, as a major in the Army National Guard, served two tours in the Middle East. In an interview on CNN in October she said: ‘The US and the CIA should stop this illegal and counterproductive war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad and should stay focused on fighting against … the Islamic extremist groups.’

… The military’s indirect pathway to Assad disappeared with Dempsey’s retirement in September. His replacement as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Joseph Dunford, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in July, two months before assuming office. ‘If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia …

Obama now has a more compliant Pentagon. There will be no more indirect challenges from the military leadership to his policy of disdain for Assad and support for Erdoğan. Dempsey and his associates remain mystified by Obama’s continued public defence of Erdoğan, given the American intelligence community’s strong case against him – and the evidence that Obama, in private, accepts that case. ‘We know what you’re doing with the radicals in Syria,’ the president told Erdoğan’s intelligence chief at a tense meeting at the White House (as I reported in the LRB of 17 April 2014). The Joint Chiefs and the DIA were constantly telling Washington’s leadership of the jihadist threat in Syria, and of Turkey’s support for it. The message was never listened to. Why not?

“Why not” Hersh asks? I would bet money that Obama is being blackmailed by the someone among the neocons. Conspiracy theory? Maybe. But it’s happened in government before (think J. Edgar Hoover) and it's the only thing that makes sense to me, power-wise.


Valissa et al

My part in this was limited to the existence of SST as an enabler of thought and my willingness to answer the question posed to me by Hersh. BTW Flynn's belief that his internal changes in DIA got him fired is absurd. These changes would have been unimportant to anyone outside DIA. Flag officers have a way of exaggerating their own importance in such imaginings. pl


PL, no matter how limited your part, you still played one based on your values and I applaud you for it!

Thanks for the insight in Flynn as well.

robt willmann

Here is the United Nations Security Council resolution number 2254 of 18 December 2015 about Syria. It is at the bottom of the web page, which starts with the announcement of the resolution, followed by a summary of each person's statement, and then the text of the resolution itself. It does contain some language that could lead to trouble--


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