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23 March 2016


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alba etie

First and most important condolences for the NCO Spetsnaz soldiers death yesterday at Palmyra - "he gave his last full measure of devotion " defending all of us . Next do you have any thoughts about what Secretary Of State Kerry may bring back to President Obama from the long meeting that was held yesterday with FM Lavrov , then President Putin ? Contrary to many here at SST I have come to believe that ever since President Putin gave President Obama the means to get the CW out of Syria - our administration has been trying to course correct away from the neocon agenda writ large . I truly hope you are right that President Putin is trying to give our President away out from the neocon dead end ..

Bill Herschel

That is definitely true. It's a crowd thing. They're part of a clique that has been almost uniformly successful att dishonest control of the electorate.

This is the Andrew Higgins article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/12/world/europe/mystery-surrounds-death-of-fiery-ukrainian-activist.html

Now read his Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oleksandr_Muzychko

Today, we have a front page article in the Times that would make Bernays proud: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/23/world/middleeast/bashar-al-assad-syria-russia-west.html

The article's message is: Assad tricked Putin. What is the reason for the article? The U.S. realizes that there will be no regime change in Syria. The victories of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Ukraine will not be crowned with victory in Syria. So the defeat must be spun. And the spin is that Putin lost. Assad has tricked him.

This article, at this moment, is planned, written and published for a specific purpose. It does not, repeat not, arise out of Anne Bernard's journalist soul, laboring in isolation at the Times. In fact, that the article is presented as "news" not opinion on the front page of the Times written by a "correspondent" is just part of the deception.

They know what they are doing. Or I am hopelessly paranoid and senile.


Since its hypothetical, Obviously Syria because it would take the pesky Russkies down a notch after the Ukraine failure. And of course, in the pursuit of that optimal solution, WW3 would be a win for our side because we have more megatons. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Alternatively, how about a sane FP, with the answer neither, because current US FP is a conflicting mishmash that was largely created in Israel/ by pro-Israel neocons. The US does not need there oil and gas, and I fail to see how the US national interest is served by further smashing societies to bits for one reason or another (or why it is in Israel's long term interest either).

Nuff Sed

Status update from a well informed commenter on SyrIan Perspective.
Canthama says:
March 25th, 2016 at 1:19 PM [Level 10 - Cesar]
I am reposting this in the new Ziad's thread.

Complete collapse of ISIS in Palmyra, all over, the end is within hours.

1) Huge advance northeast of Palmyra.
2) Fight in the Palmyra-Der ez Zor, meaning ISIS inside Palmyra are completely cut off, no way out for the ones inside.
3) Fights inside the city for the first time, from 3 different directions, SW, SE and NW.
4) Fight inside the airport.



Palmyra is falling all together and the allied forces are building a protection area northeast of it. There are rumors that the strategy is to advance to Der ez Zor (as expected) but also to move quickly toward the Iraqi border (Al Bukamal), this is new.
Palmyra is a major loss for ISIS, it will impact their strategy for Syria/Iraq, we may see a major retreat from desert areas towards cities such as Raqqa or Mosul, but most likely ISIS will strengthen their position in east Aleppo, the only connection to friendly Turkey they still have, Syria should expect action there soon.



It would appear that ISIS in Palmyra has collapsed. The SAA has entered the city proper and secured all of the Orchards west, and south of the city. It would appear that the SAA landed forces on the main highway M20 northeast of the airport which allowed them to storm it from an unexpected direction. It has now been taken.

(in Russian)
"Exemption ancient Palmyra progressing in stages. On the eve of 24 March, the Syrian Infantry Division landed on the highway M-20. This action threw terrorists LIH * in shock, but today everything was explained."

The only area of the city still under ISIS control is in the north side. So it would seem like this battle is nearly completed.

I'm interested to see which direction the SAA moves from here. As Twisted G points out something is up around Deir Az-Zor. The SAA left a few unfinished tasks, like finishing off Latakia and the drive north toward the Tabka Airbase. With all the talk of a "Federalised" Syria on the political front, I'm thinking that the SAA maybe looking at securing the Syria / Iraq border in order to consolidate the country's territory first then head towards Raqqa. From Palmyra the SAA could chose many directions for the next campaign and this will be an indication of the government's strategy as to Syria's future.

Seamus Padraig

As of Friday evening, Pepe Escobar is reporting that Palmyra has been liberated. Any corroboration from other sources yet?

Former 11B


I found this video to be quite instructive. It goes into the history and I now think anyone who employs "focus groups" should be executed immediately.

Seamus Padraig

To answer my own question above, PressTV and SANA are both now reporting that Palmyra has been liberated: http://off-guardian.org/2016/03/25/videos-syrian-army-and-allies-recapturing-palmyra-from-isis/


I think you are right that we are seeing some indicators that the Iraqis are finally moving some elements towards Mosul, but it will be months before they will have isolated Mosul, and possibly months after that before they assault Mosul. Clearing and holding Mosul will also be more challenging this time than it was in 2005 after Mosul fell in Nov 2004, while we were focused on Fallujah. Avoiding significant civilian casualties will be difficult if ISIL chooses to defend, and the PMF are the primary Iraqi troops involved in clearing Mosul (with Iranian artillery in support?). I'm not sure that the US wants to be involved in that operation, unless it involves going after an HVT.
The small USMC force at Makhmur will be useful in providing some precision fires in that effort, as well as defending against ISIL attacks toward the KRG. It would be a mistake to move them out of KRG territory, and depend on any non KRG element for their force protection.

Bill Herschel

Oleksandr Muzychko

This is the Andrew Higgins article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/12/world/europe/mystery-surrounds-death-of-fiery-ukrainian-activist.html

Now read his Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oleksandr_Muzychko

David Habakkuk


As I largely agreed that this discussion was 'off topic', I had not intended to get further involved.

However, your observations on the relationship – or lack of it – of Goebbels to Bernays raise an interesting issue.

In a previous thread, I brought up the recollections of discussions among intellectuals in Munich in the 'Twenties by Thomas Mann, in his 1947 novel 'Doktor Faustus'.

In these discussions, Mann recalled, Tocqueville's anticipation that 'democratic' – in the sense of 'egalitarian' – politics could take either liberal or 'absolutist' (one might say, 'Caesarist'), forms, had played a central role. And in being sceptical about the 'absolutist' route, Mann told us, he had been close to being on his own.

Another point of reference which Mann recalled was a very different French writer – Georges Sorel, whose 1906 study 'Reflections on Violence' is indeed a classic modern text.

From Mann's portrayal of these discussions:

'This was in fact the crass and inflaming prophecy of the book: that popular myths or rather those proper for the masses would become the vehicle of political action; fables, insane visions, chimaeras, which needed to have nothing to do with truth or reason or science in order to be creative, to determine the course of life and history, and thus to prove themselves dynamic realities.'

So it may be that Bernays should be seen as domesticating for an American audience currents of thinking strongly influential in the Europe from which he came. If that is a plausible interpretation, it would be natural enough for Goebbels to read him with interest and appreciation – but the notion that his influence on Nazism was particularly significant would appear implausible.

A question which would present itself with renewed force, however, was that of whether, for Bernays, the 'Wilsonian' enthusiasm for 'democracy' was anything more than a Georges Sorel-style myth.

And at that point, it may become natural to rewrite the 'Gettysburg Address' – and suggest that what 'democracy' has ended up meaning is government 'of the people', by the 'PR' operatives – for whatever causes are important to the latter.


It is instructive to note the similarities/differences in the circumstances and tactics used by ISIS in the 3 cases thus far of them losing significant population centers since the start of intervention in '14: Tikrit, Ramadi, and Palmyra. In all 3 cases ISIS seems to employ the strategy of initially defending the cities with 500 troops at most and then withdrawing what is left of this force shortly before the total collapse of defenses in the face of overwhelming numerical and air superiority, the latter being the decisive factor in the engagements thus far, leaving a special force of 50-100 to fight to the death. Stepping back to look at the big picture of what the loss of Palmyra foretells for the loss of the cities of Mosul, Raqqa, etc; one must note that in all 3 cases none of the territory seized from IS was captured by the group before the June '14(and in the case of Palmyra/Ramadi, May 2015) offensive in Iraq which first put the group back on the world stage. In all of these cases what remained of the civilian population was evacuated weeks before the respective Iraqi/Syrian offensives to swell the IS heartlands of Mosul, Fallujah, Raqqa, and the environs of Aleppo bordering Turkey. Liberated Tikrit and Ramadi, 80-90% destroyed, has yet to witness a return of even a fraction of its population and I am sure that the same will be the case with Palmyra and environs given the area's susceptibility to infiltration and the fact that it has been totally bombed out in the past months of bombardment. In a long winded way, what I am saying is that not much can be predicted on when or how the battles for the ISIS heartland will play out based on this, as conquering and occupying population centers of 500K, 700K, and 1 million is a totally different beast than what we have seen thus far, and I cannot imagine an existing force in the conflict today that is up for this monumental task even given the "folding up" of the ISIS accordion that we are seeing before our eyes. Although as we have seen in the dramatic tipping of balance in Syria's favor since Russian intervention, things change quickly in war.


It is a high priority for Damascus to remove the option of partition and 'federalism' from any future negotiations by re-establishing Government control in the east of the country. The first stage of this has been achieved with the liberation of Palmyra. The process would be completed by advancing to the main population center of Deir Ezzor, and then to the Syria-Iraq border.

We can't be sure that the rapidity of the Da'esh collapse in Palmyra is symptomatic of a terminal decline, but we'll find out soon enough as we watch the rate of progress by the SAA towards Deir Ezzor.

Nevertheless, it's a fair bet that the SAA media team are already planning their coverage of the dusty soldiers from Palmyra meeting in the middle of the desert with the SAA defenders of Deir Ezzor.



I can't wait to see that photo. BTW are you not the man who told us that it would be quite a while before Tadmur was freed? No matter. Anothre BTW is that I like the way these Syrian soldiers look in the field. Dusty, unshaven men at arms, up to their asses in alligators but still smiling at the camera with their arms around each other, my kind of people. pl


SAA Reporter and Leith Abu Fadel report that ISIS retains Al-Amariyah (north Palmyra) and the airport for now.


I'm more and more convinced that ISIS has a serious economic problem, and that it is that which is weakening them. Good pay encouraged the jihadis. If it stops, they will be less enthusiastic. In spite of all the religious stuff.

ISIS has a good reputation for its organisation, but it depends on its revenues. At the beginning ISIS had a lot from private subscriptions from the Gulf. I am not quite sure where we are now on that, but I suspect that it has declined, now that ISIS is depicted as unacceptable.

Then ISIS took Mosul in 2014 and got several million dollars from the banks. They will have spent that by now.

Then they have exported oil from the wells on the Khabur. Unfortunately the Russians bombed the queues of trucks waiting to transfer the oil to Turkey, and the US followed up. So that source of revenue has declined. Even omitting the fact that oil illegally exported has to be sold at a reduced price.

Then we are told that ISIS finances itself from local taxes and selling antiquities. Frankly they are not going to get much from local taxes, when the farmers are afraid to sow. Antiquities, that's an illusion. There's not that much on the Western market. The experts refuse to quantify, only cherry-pick individual cases. More likely we're talking about local peasants trying to survive by illicit diggings.

Lastly there is the question of the decline in the oil price, for the remaining exports. Both the Kurds in Erbil, and the Iraqis in Baghdad, have suffered severely from this problem. The KRG has not paid the Peshmerga for six months, and schoolteachers for even longer. I heard last week that in Baghdad, pensions are not being paid in full, even for people in privileged situations. If in Erbil and Baghdad, why not in Raqqa?

Big problem for ISIS if there's no more money. Could lead to a major disappearance of jihadis from the field.


The situation was fluid recently (several hours ago).


No, I'm the man who said that (at time of writing) claims of SAA capturing Tadmur were probably premature, as that would imply a collapse of Da'esh within the last (ie previous) 24 hours. To be unambiguous, I should probably have written 'having captured'. Given the likely composition of Da'esh forces in Tadmur (my post of 9.24pm), a rapid collapse could have been expected, and that appears to be what has happened.

I generally found a very strong sense of community in Syria, and I think that is what you are seeing in the SAA images. There's a serious job to be done, and they're doing it.

It is also worth remembering that the bulk of the army is Sunni, reflecting the religious demographics of Syria (although officer corps is different). The convenient equivalence that the media and various propagandists draw between 'Sunni' and 'rebel' or 'moderate rebel' is misleading. There's a whole bunch of Syrian Sunnis who have no problems with the separation of church and state.


I should have added that they have a few things to smile about. Even though many of them are conscripts, and the term of conscription has been extended to the end of hostilities (whenever that is), if I was receiving new equipment, enjoying the benefits of extensive air support, and working with a good bunch of guys to drive our enemies before us, I'd probably smile too.


After reading the Times article I would say this is the "Sprachregelung"(="language Regime", a term which seems to have made into the English language) for the members of the "spiral of silence", so that they have something to parrot in order to justify their spinelessnes, and to save them thinking for themselves. Even before I heard of the "spiral of silence" it had occurred to me, that the talk shows and news were just opportunities to hand out blueprints of arguments for the obliging. Seems there are hard times ahead for the political impostors, thanks to the Internet.


"... things change quickly in war". Yes; I woke up this morning to find things in Palmyra were quite different from where they were the evening before. First, it would appear that the report of a troop drop northeast of the airport was suspect and probably didn't occur based on the current battle status maps.

Second, the town north of Palmyra, AL-Amariyah, wasn't actually controlled by the SAA, although they have now taken it this morning, which exposes exposes a flank of ISIS inside the city. The SAA seemed to have withdrawn from the city during the night. but control western, and southern areas right up the the airport perimeter, although ISIS controls the airport.

There was a live feed from an Arabic channel located near the Castle and judging from the explosions the fighting inside the city seems wide spread. The SAA and friends still have some work to do.


Da'esh would be lucky to earn even a pittance from antiquities. It allows locals to dig over sites on the basis that they disclose what they find, and that any revenue is shared with Da'esh.

With the breakdown of civil order in Syria, there was such an upsurge in unauthorised excavation at sites such as Ebla, that it is visible in Google. You can't blame the locals- with their farming activities curtailed, families still needed income.

Most of what is found will have little or no commercial value. After passing through many hands, a painted pot or item of statuary in good condition could be worth at most a few thousand dollars when finally sold in the West, but Da'esh would only receive a small part of this.

The most important loss is the damage caused to archaeological sites. Artefacts removed from their context can only tell you a fraction of what they could if found and documented in situ, and important information is destroyed as desperate locals tear open a site in pursuit of 'treasure'.


It is all mere degrees of separation from plain old sales (business middlemen), for which the Bernayses, the writers at the NYT, and the Borg, et al., are disposed. But this disposition also blinds them to the reality that all of these tools of advancement and control are ONLY effective in a high-trust, high-order society. And the inclination to minimize the competition through subjugation has lead to promoting things which destroy this high-trust, high-order society (most notably multicultural and large scale immigration). Contrary to popular belief, it was not Ted Kennedy who was the main force behind the Immigration Act of 1965, but Senators Abe Ribicoff and Jacob Javits.

Here's a good piece that sums it up pretty well. The wisdom comes from Linh Dinh, a middle-aged Vietnamese immigrant who apparently got his wisdom from spending a lot of time in bars in middle America.

Ishmael Zechariah

This soldier fought and died like a man. He would be a hero for any soldier.
My respects to his unit and his nation.

Kipling was saying the same thing a century ago:
"When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier."

Ishmael Zechariah

David Habakkuk


It seems that the readers of the 'Daily Mail' agree with you. Comments on their site are commonly a good indicator of what much of 'Middle Britain' thinks.

(See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3509692/Russian-soldier-wipes-band-ISIS-fighters-calling-airstrikes-surrounded-jihadists.html#comments .)

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