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04 June 2016


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Sane military and intelligence circles in the United States would quietly applaud such an intervention, President Obama would make some public pronouncements of complaint, but would not do anything further. Saudi Arabia would sulk and ultimately blame the Obama Administration for "allowing" such an outcome, that flies in the face of their persistent goal of installing a Sunni Salafist regime in Damascus. Even the would-be Sultan of the New Ottoman Empire, President Erdogan, would take it in stride--so long as Syria remained a unified nation without a large portion hived off into an independent Kurdistan.

All the above may be true but they still remind me of the predictions made before WW1.

David Habakkuk

In relation both to this post and its predecessor, it may be worth harking back to a piece entitled ‘The Diversity Myth’ which Benjamin Schwarz published in the ‘Atlantic’ back in May 1995.

(See http://www.theatlantic.com/past/politics/foreign/divers.htm .)

Its central thrust was well summed up in the sub-heading:

‘The hortatory version of our history, in which America has long been a land of ethnic tolerance and multicultural harmony, leaves us with nothing useful to say to the failed states and riven polities of the post-Cold War world .’

Any reasonably hard-headed examination of the historical record, Schwarz argued, suggest that bitter ethnic, nationalist and separatist conflicts simply could not be dismissed as ‘merely a relapse, a bloody detour on mankind’s progressive road to tolerance and pluralism.’

Moreover, he went on to argue that such a dismissal rested on a self-image of the United States as a successful ‘melting pot’ which did not actually correspond to reality.

Having produced his own version of the history, Schwarz went on to argue:

‘Thus, long before the United States’ founding, and until probably the 1960s, the “unity” of the American people derived not from their warm welcoming of and accommodation to nationalist, ethnic, and linguistic differences but from the ability and willingness of an Anglo elite to stamp its image on other peoples coming to this country. That elite’s religious and political principles, its customs and social relations, its standards of taste and morality, were for 300 years America’s, and in basic ways they still are, despite our celebration of “diversity.” Whatever freedom from ethnic and nationalist conflict this country has enjoyed (and it has been considerably less than our national mythology would have us believe) has existed thanks to a cultural and ethnic predominance that would not tolerate conflict or confusion regarding the national identity.’

My own grasp of the history of the United States is not sufficient to entitle me to take a firm view on these matters.

But looking at Albright’s entry in ‘Wikipedia’, I find myself puzzled. According to it, she was born in Prague in 1937, the daughter of Jewish parents who supported the Czechoslovakia of Tomas Masaryk and Eduard Benes, who converted to Catholicism in 1941 – and according to their daughter, never talked to her about their Jewish background.

From a British perspective, this seems to me completely bizarre. Particularly in relation to questions to do with ‘nationalist, ethnic and sectarian conflicts’ a major part of British intellectual life has had to do with arguments between Jewish refugees who ended up here as a result of the processes unleashed by the disintegration of the empires of the Habsburgs, Ottomans, and Romanovs.

One thing which made these arguments so interesting was the fact that those involved in them had intimate and direct experience, on the ground’, of ‘nationalist, ethnic and sectarian conflicts': these were not abstract arguments between over-educated academics.

Another was that those involved in them had so little in common. In politics, they ran the gamut of the spectrum. In religion, you had everything from militant secularists, through various kinds of observant Jews, to Lutherans – and certainly with Jews from Prague, Roman Catholics.

Never before have I come across any suggestion that educated Jewish refugees from any of these places disguised their ethnic origins. That is the kind of thing which happened not infrequently with ‘ghetto Jews’ in the East End – not with diplomats like Albright’s father.

In relation to arguments about nationalism, a critical moment is when Ernest Gellner – a Jewish refugee from Prague – denounced his fellow London School of Economics scholar, Elie Kedourie – a Jewish refugee from Baghdad.

In part, the questions at issue reflected their very different backgrounds. While Kedourie had focused on nationalism as a system of ideas, Gellner focused on the impact of ‘modernisation’, and in particular, of industrialisation, and its natural concomitant – the spread of what had been a ‘high culture’ through society.

(See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gellner%27s_theory_of_nationalism .)

Ironically perhaps Gellner was providing arguments in support of an – if anything even more pessimistic – version of Schwarz’s gloomy view of the prospects for ‘multicultural’ polities.

If the criterion of political legitimacy is that one can only accept obligations of obedience to people from one’s own culture, then the kind of large-scale ‘ethnic cleansing’ which took place in Europe amid the convulsions of the history of the first half of the twentieth century is not an aberration: it is the norm.

To anyone who had followed these arguments, even if sketchily – and also, anyone who knew anything whatsoever about Ukraine – it should have been amply clear that the question in relation to that country was not whether it could become a successful ‘European’ polity, but whether complete and total collapse could be averted.

So, for example, Lviv was, and still is, a Habsburg city – particularly as, by contrast to Vienna, it was barely fought over between 1939 and 1945. As such, its inhabitants can be expected to be not only vitriolically anti-communist but anti-Russian.

By contrast, Sebastopol is a Russian city – the scene of two of the great sieges of Russian history, in the second of which, for seven months in 1941-2, before going down to defeat it held Manstein’s Eleventh Army at an absolutely crucial time.

In December 2013, an article appeared in the ‘Financial Times’ by Albright’s former professor, which was headlined ‘Russia, like Ukraine, will become a real democracy’, with the sub-heading ‘A renewed sense of identity has combined with a yearning for prosperity, says Zbigniew Brzezinski.’

(See https://next.ft.com/content/5ac2df1e-6103-11e3-b7f1-00144feabdc0 .)

I simply cannot understand it. Have Brzezinski and Albright actually forgotten the realities of the worlds from which they came, and simply succumbed to an American nationalist cloud-cuckooland? Or is what they say simply an exercise in pure cynicism?

David Lentini

The Russian military intervention in Syria, launched last September, has stabilized the Assad regime and seen the Syrian Army rebuilt into a far more effective fighting force. Putin has also seen that Iran's effectiveness in Syria has proven to be over-rated.

I was certainly disappointed to see Russia pull back at what looked like a moment of victory, but I figured Putin had decided that he had larger fish to fry. At this point, Russia has stopped ISIS and stabilized Syria, while demonstrating a very effective military organization and technology that has left the US looking rather embarrassed. So, with Europe becoming increasingly unhinged and fed up with Obama and his stooge Cameron, Putin could well play the peacemaker for the next several months while the US picks up the slack in Syria now that Obama's game has been exposed.

And of course NATO is a huge threat at this point. But again, Putin can now point to his willingness "leave" Syrias while the and NATO talk about sending still more troops. I would imagine this will give the Russians greater standing among the European public who look more and more like peasants about to revolt.

Norbert M Salamon

Moon of Alabama reports new movement of the Russian Armed Forces into Syria in today's blog entry.


Thierry Meyssan's article begins

< In December 2015, the United States and Russia made an agreement to bring down President Erdoğan.

From the Russian side, it’s the support of Erdoğan’s friends – the NGO’s IHH and İmkander— for the Caucasian jihadists from 1995 to the end of the year 2000, then, today, the personal support by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for Daesh, and finally the planned destruction of a Soukhoï over Syria last November which have triggered their anger. Given that the Turco-Mongol empires were always the historical enemies of Russia, Moscow is not worried about the future of the country, but want only to overthrow its chief whatever the cost.

The United States, on the other hand, make a distinction between Turkey, a allied member-state of NATO, and President Erdoğan, an autocrat who is bathing in delusions of grandeur and stamping all over Western ideals. Overthrowing him is a necessity, partly in order to be able to continue presenting NATO as the defender of democracies, and partly because no leader is allowed to defy Washington without being punished. The CIA already caused him to lose the elections last June by creating the HDP from nothing , but was overtaken by the massive ballot-rigging during the elections in September.

Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin thus agreed to support the Syrian Kurds against Daesh,..>

William R. Cumming

My belief is Putin waiting for outcome of the BREXIT referendum to plot his next move!


Maybe Syria was also a hudge " reherseal" aiming at demonstrating Russia military might to européen countries.
I agree with the point that in some ways Putin and russian top brass have thought that the Syrian Army and allies were able to win.
They were not.
I doubt Putin will engage troops on the ground, for political reasons,that will be unpopular in russia and military reason, avoid a qagmire.



1st: thanks a lot for these information and thoughts

2nd: Here in Germany I certainly can feel the impact Putin's decision to wait longer before going after Al Qaeda has. EU's backing of Erdogan and the Syrian rebel mix including Al Qaeda and the results of that policy from terrorism to immigration is pushing the so-called "populist" anti-EU parties from height to height. By taking out Al Qaeda and associates in Syria Putin would do the rulers of the EU countries therefore a big favour. But as a result of taking out Al Qaeda in Syria Putin could expect from the rulers of the EU countries not praise, but only easy blaming, finger pointing and more hostility against Russia.

In opposite to this, by not going decisively after Al Qaeda in Syria, more pressure builds in Germany and the EU to change direction and chose a partnership with Russia, Iran and Syria over one with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and rebels mixed with Al Qaeda. From that point of view, Putin's indecisiveness regarding taking out Al Qaeda in Syria makes a lot of sense, and here in Germany, the underlying feeling of a growing revolt against the current EU rulers and their Al-Qaeda-friendly policy in Syria is almost palpable.

I'm also sure that the almost 50% of votes for Hofer in Austria were last not least a result of that anger in the population. And in France Le Pen is already waiting in the wings for 2017. From that point of view Putin would be a fool if he would solve the EU's problems only to be rewarded with more hostility for that service.

Chris Chuba

Going by what Putin said in the 60 minutes interview that was aired days before the Russian campaign in Syria, it's a matter that he believes that a military solution by itself will not solve Syria's problem. He doesn't want to get stuck with the 'day after' problem that we had in Iraq which will be worse because the U.S. will keep sanctions on the surviving Assad govt.

So what was accomplished with this 3 mo cease fire?
1. Some FSA groups did separate from the Nusra / Army of Islam coalition, most did not. Those who did are potential new negotiating partners, those who did not are now legitimate targets. The Russians have been driving this point home for 3mo's.

2. The Army of Islam chief negotiator (nice scruffy beard) for the opposition has walked out. This sets up the possibility that the next meeting will be with some FSA representative and perhaps even some Kurdish representation that the Russians have been lobbying for. Hopefully the Saudi sponsored clowns have been discredited.

3. The SAA was able to get a prestigious victory against ISIS after being able to temporarily halt operations against Nusra/FSA. What did they lose? Momentum and they allowed Nusra / Army of Islam to resupply both in weapons and men. This was the biggest drawback to the suspension.

I think that the Russians believe that what was lost can be recovered with them going back in and that getting new negotiating partners to allow future elections with both them and Assad participating, along with some reforms, will result in a stable Syria after a military victory.

Here is the 60 minutes interview ... https://www.sott.net/article/302911-Sott-Exclusive-Full-unedited-text-of-Vladimir-Putins-interview-with-Charlie-Rose-What-CBS-left-out the excerpt where he answers Charlie Rose's question about whether Russia is there to fight ISIS or to prop up Assad.

Putin: "That's right, that's how it is...we provide assistance to legitimate Syrian authorities. ...There is no other way to settle the Syrian conflict other than by strengthening the existing legitimate government agencies, support them in their fight against terrorism and, of course, at the same time encourage them to start a positive dialogue with the "healthy" part of the opposition and launch political transformations."

(BTW I seethe with rage whenever I hear the Administration claim that Putin broke a pledge to only bomb ISIS. That is a fiction. What he actually said was on national TV. Our reporters are morons for not calling the Administration out on this. He said fight 'terrorism' and 'support the Syrian govt' not exclusively fight ISIS)

Mark Logan

David H,

I mostly wish to thank you for all the wonderful history. You leave more "stuff" for me in your wake accidentally than most are able to do on purpose. I love ya..;)

On the question, assuming it's not rhetorical, here's my unfocused spaghetti for the wall: Z-big, Soros, Albright, et al -like Ayn Rand..(ahem) are examples of the scars Stalin left in his horrible wake. They look at Russia and see their monster-closet. Perhaps such scars linger longer in the children of refugees, who were not forced to work through them by living in the lands. Unacknowledged fears are unmitigated ones. My granddaddy was a man of few words, but always wise ones. He once told me during my turbulent teen years "When you see someone who's all lathered up wonder what the heck it is they they are afraid of, and that goes for double for yourself, kid."

Babak Makkinejad


Outstanding UNSC sanction against Iran, jointly created by US and the Russian Federation, precludes the selling of offensive military hardware to Iran; including towed and mobile artillery, tanks, armored personnel carriers, thermo-baric weapons, fixed and rotary wing aircrafts.

Russian forces in Syria are equipped with many such weapons and clearly are adept at using them; those forces turned the tide of war.

It is inconceivable for me that Putin and indeed the Russian Government and leaders have not been cognizant of the Iranians' weaknesses - weaknesses that they themselves have been helping to create & sustain for the better part of 20 years.



Polls seem to imply Remain firmly ahead. Cameron is in full on fearmongering mode. Everything from the pound will collapse to all seniors will become destitute. It seems to me as an outsider that the core issue if the UK parliament is sovereign seems obfuscated.


In a sense, Brzezinski is behaving exactly like a Polish nationalist (but not an American statesman), who would have the whole world burn just to spite Poland's (presumed) enemies--today, as often in the past, the Russians (but Germans at other times). Albright is much harder to make sense of though.


My take is that Russia has given the US every possible opportunity to get serious about a political settlement and have finally come to the conclusion that it is never, ever going to happen. So as has been written on this site many times this is going to end with a military solution.

But I think things are going to be interesting for the US going forward. There was a lot of work that went into the recently wrapped up Paris peace summit. The Europeans led by France want action on a solution, the Saudis and their closest friends were pushing the Saudi peace plan hard, Egypt had it's own plan to move things along, Jordan was working up their own plans. All the stars seemed to align to finally get things moving again and Kerry went in and blew the whole thing up.

Now that will be fine with Israel and the House of Saud. But it is not going to play well on the street any where in the Middle East. You can bet that is going to feature prominently in sermons all across the region. Biggest winner? Iran.

There are states in Europe that have been moving towards officially recognizing Palestine but have been waiting to see how things would play out in Paris. I think you are going to see some of the European states move towards recognition which will infuriate the American government. If congress starts passing laws again targeting European countries in retaliation on behalf of Israel I think NATO as it currently exists is finished.


Ironically those sanctions have lead to a burgeoning Iranian arms industry. Some of it building designs licensed from Russia and some of it home grown. Some of it not so good but some of it like their anti-tank missiles quite effective. Iran is now selling those weapons to countries the US would prefer didn't have them. As it turns out short term solutions only work in the short term.


USS Harry Truman is flying airstrikes to Iraq and Syria from the Med. This has to be done in cooperation with Russian air defenses in Syria. Some serious US Russian coordination must be occurring For this to happen.

One also has to wonder why the flights are not from Turkey.

Also is the carrier groul in the Med to deal with something else like Libya for example?

Charles Michael

Nobody seems to connect the Russia modus Operandi in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria.
First of all it is unwavering support of friends and allies (think how Obama dropped Mubarak to the great dismay of the House of Saouds); second it is reining in any friends too ambitious military campaigns; third it is favoring and looking for diplomatic solutions.

The short term strategy is gaining time to rebuild military strength, and this delay is also needed by China.
The major benefit of this loyalty and this moderation are in terms of image (strength and pacifism) toward the Ex and New non-aligned.The obvious prize is the unravelling of the black hole called EU. The hysterical build-up of warmongering NATO reactions is a perfect illustration.

The long term is of course a multipolar world, through partial de-dollarisation, energy ressources, agricultural gigantism, economic world collaboration (think Shanghaï C. O.)and planification.

For these aims to have a chance of success Russia must avoid humiliating proud countries and USA and Germany first of all, but rotten leaders as Erdogan, Cameron and Hollande are fair game.


"But as a result of taking out Al Qaeda in Syria Putin could expect from the rulers of the EU countries not praise, but only easy blaming, finger pointing and more hostility against Russia."
The chess game also includes Israel's desire for the Golan Heights. The US are right now in a ridiculous position because of the willful "inability" to stop ISIS, since a defeat of ISIS would strengthen Syria' sovereignty (and prevent the Iraqization of Syria). And of course, there are plans for a pipeline: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-09-10/competing-gas-pipelines-are-fueling-syrian-war-migrant-crisis
"...recent Wikileaks revelations of US State Department leaks that show plans to destabilize Syria and overthrow the Syrian government as early as 2006. The leaks reveal that these plans were given to the US directly from the Israeli government and would be formalized through instigating civil strife and sectarianism... The leaks also reveal Israeli plans to use this crisis to expand it’s occupation of the Golan Heights for additional oil exploration and military expansion."


thanks for the link to the Schwarz article, David. Amazing author.

"entrepreneurial alarm", fascinating coinage. ...
"Indeed, in proliferating conferences, workshops, and interagency working groups the national-security community is greeting ENS wars with the same entrepreneurial alarm with which it met the specter of Communist insurgency in the 1960s and "low-intensity conflict" in the 1980s. "The main strategic challenge for the United States," according to Leslie Gelb, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, is to "develop plans . . . to stem civil wars."

In the early post 9/11 universe I had a very, very peculiar prolonged debate about multiculturalism versus melting pot with a concerned American. America versus Canada, image, use of the term, versus reality on the surface; among other things covered all the way back to her California Pacifica Radio experiences, which led me to look into American dissent in the times of WWII and early Pacifica.

In a nutshell from this observer position she seemed: a self-described 'radical democrat', proud American, supporter of US power based on its successful 'melting pot' experience I suppose, and "radical" supporter of Israel.

At one point I wondered if myth versus reality of the American melting pot experience helped her to keep other ghosts at bay. Which also couldn't have been based on her individual traumatic experience, although it felt inherited experience left traces in her own literary studies.


"...beyond the July 31 expiration date ..."

How old is the history of economical sanctions and the "carrots and sticks" line of thought, where did it start? ... I like the 31 and as result the 4.

There is hardly ever a thought, one of the other Wikipedian hasn't asked himself. ... :


anyway, Harper, i was pleased to see you up there yesterday. But yes, wondered if I should post this. Since it is irrelevant somehow. In other words, am I babbling again if post this, and strictly I promised to try to keep it in control.

Babak Makkinejad

de-dollarization requires sovereign currencies; convertible, free-floating currencies.

bored muslim

umm, people seem to be confused or simply confusing the issues on purpose.

a)the battle for Syria(and a lesser degree, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon)is no less than a crucial battle between the forces supporting a multi-polar world and those in favor of a uni-polar one. this is where the 'line in the sand' is drawn.the outcome of the conflict now raging in the middle east(i'm talking about the countries mentioned above)will determine the projection of influence in the world for the next 100-200 years. Syria is hence the key piece here. If Syria falls, next will be Iraq..then iran, then the forces of evil will rage hell on Russia's 'soft' underbelly (the 'stans' countries) as well as the caucus regions. After Russia succumbs, China will be forced on her knees. Iran, Russia and china know this very well.

b)early this year, china did something quietly, yet unprecedented; they appointed a 'special representative ' to Syria crisis. The Chinese are involved behind the scenes coordinating with Russia on future moves regarding Syria; in support of the assad gov.
It's safe to say now that the manufactured crisis in the south china seas is a red herring created to keep china on one foot and away from militarily getting involved in Syria. China could very easily ship-drop 100-200k troops in Syria and overwhelm the place. But it is not yet time for 'check' move from Russia-china...it will come at a later date when turkey and ksa and the u.s. nato get further drawn in to Syria and fall into a 'trap'. also as someone else stated, its not at all bad for the wahabi/salafi's to get drawn into a killing field in Syria so they don't end up on Russia and china's doorstep or beyond. So the ace card is still being kept close to the chest, so to speak.

c)Russia and china are ancient civilizations who wrote the book on international diplomacy and military tactics/doctrine. Add to this the Persians and you get the picture. they are not rash like anglo-Zionists are. so ppl, have faith, will ya.

d) the Syrian people, both Christian and muslim(Shiite/sunni) are united behind their army more than what has been reported or presumed. this does not bode well for the beheaders.

e)daesh and co. are caught between a rock and a hard place. infighting, the kurds, the saa and Hezbollah, the Russia aero-space force, saa airforce and the now finally mobilized Iraqi military and allies spells defeat for the u.s. and co. sponsored crazies in the not so distant future.

f)iran and Hezbollah: arm the Yemeni houthis and army, arm them, arm them..in any and every way possible..with enough fire-power; these brave and fierce warriors are tougher than the Pashtuns and could make a serious break for inside territories of the Saudi kingdom if not straight to the capital. there is a reason the u.s military sent a bunch of special forces and advisors to Saudi allies in yemen. its because the situation is lost and out of control for the u.s Saudi's there.

g)thank you for taking the time to read my take on the situation, however strange it all probably sounds.he he.


"Polish nationalist" or "true American optimist", enamored with its economic/military power to achieve matters? (I vaguely have Hilary as she surfaced in "Goldie's" recent Obama portrait in mind here)

"Sooner" and "later" in 2013.

Sooner rather than later, Ukraine will be truly a part of democratic Europe; later rather than sooner, Russia will follow unless it isolates itself and becomes a semi-stagnant imperialistic relic.

The spontaneous outburst of distinctive Ukrainian patriotism – sparked by the mendacity of a corrupt and self-enriching leadership ready to seek Moscow’s protection – signals that commitment to national independence is becoming the dominant political reality. This is especially the case among the younger Ukrainians who no longer feel that they are linguistically or historically just a slightly deviant part of “Mother Russia”.


Strictly, he does not belong to the power center around "sooner's or later's" in the ME. At least it felt.

FT article can be accessed via Google cache. He seems to be the author of influential coinages. How lucky we are that we Western ("Diocletians" - Babak) citizen due to legions of professionals have far better ways of covering up corruption. ;)

As a vague memory I recall a German edition of a multiple voiced discussion on nationalism. The scholar (British) that drew most of my attention, maybe since he triggered the debate (?...*), introduced me to the term ethnogentic. Via his definition of nationalism's ethnogenetic core. ... I would need to dig deeply into Wikipedia's "definition of nationalism" to find out when he disappeared. He was there at the time.


* dropping this line of thought.


great quality of comments here


Is he suggesting that Salih Muslim is some type of double agent? Whose double agent? Tayyib's and Saudi Arabia's?

The Americans and the Russians wrongly believe that the Syrian Kurds form a united group. But in reality, the YPG is the armed branch of the PYD (Democratic Union Party), which has two co-Presidents - a woman, Asya Abdullah, and a man, Salih Muslim. Asya Abdullah is faithful to the principles of Abudllah Öcalan – the founder of the PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) – and intends to create a Kurdistan on Turkish territory. Salih Muslim is a traitor who, in a secret meeting at the Elysée on the 31 October, negotiated an agreement with Presidents Hollande and Erdoğan.

This is the programme that, in 2011, France agreed to implement with Turkey, hoping to limit the massacres. According to a secret Treaty signed by the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the time, Alain Juppe and Ahmet Davutoğlu, Paris and Ankara were to create a new state in Syria in order to dislodge the Kurds of the PKK. This is the agreement that François Hollande agreed to apply by organising, at the Elysée, the meeting Erdoğan-Muslim. And it is this agreement that Washington and Moscow, without knowing it, are in the process of completing.

I do not find the CIA Turish election involvement very convincing, among other shortcuts.

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