« The essential Hilly | Main | We need to revive the military draft. »

15 August 2016


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

Margaret Steinfels

Thank you.


I wouldn't be at all surprised if Obama doesn't pivot on Syria and arrange an agreement with Russia as described. He did something similar by short-circuiting the hawks on his side when reaching a nuclear settlement with Iran. He must know that if he doesn't act, that will leave a door open for escalation and he clearly doesn't want that. He knows Clinton well and is in the position to out-maneuver her again. Special bonus is it will allow Obama to demonstrate to both Bibi and Erdogan who is the boss.

For Russia, neither does Putin want Clinton to enter with a free hand, which makes it in both Putin and Obama's best interests to come to an agreement before November. This is the kind of bittersweet "October Surprise" that will both help and handcuff Clinton.

I hope it happens.


Now, it's Putin's turn to try trapping the Americans

Russia is not trying to trap anyone. It is a very different dynamics on Russian side, the same as stakes--they are much higher for Russia since it is not about reputational and image losses. Consistently, for many years Russia stated, sincerely, that she is open to dialogue with the West. She still is, but the logic of this dialogue seems to be beyond the grasp of West's "elites". One thing they fail to understand is this time there is no trust whatsoever left in any "establishment" so called partners. There is simply no trust, period. Fact is, Lavrov recently reiterated this. "West" or rather those who think that they are West trapped itself through its own means. Since 2008 (in reality much earlier) it was absolutely transparent. But then again, none other than famous "scholar" of Russia, Richard Pipes, for all the wrong reasons, in 1977 correctly stated that West's "strategies" against USSR are being developed with no regard to actual Soviet intentions. Russia does take war damn seriously, she always did.


There are only three constituencies for continued chaos in Syria: Israel, Erdogan's Turkey, and ISIL/al qaeda.

Clinton is firmly in Israel's camp, but Obama has shown with his Iran deal that he is perfectly willing to toss Bibi's concerns aside to find a solution which works better for the US.

Turkey is a more difficult case, but Erdogan's clumsy recent appeal to Russia helps Obama justify freezing them out of a deal with Russia.

It will be tough to lose face and cut off the unicorn rebels, but not that tough. The US has found a way to do that pretty often.

alba etie

TTG & /or Smoothie X12
There is some speculations here locally in Central Texas from some "former federal officials " that BHO & Sec of Defense Carter are coming around to actually having Military to Military cooperation in setting up a liberated zone from Aleppo City to Jarabalus ? Is this possibly in the works ? And furthermore if I am understanding the current news the RuAf 's strategic bombers flying out of Iran now can carry three times as much ordnance to strike the Liver Eaters amassed around Aleppo City ? Thats a pretty big strategic advantage to be leveraged for the 'liberated zone ' yes ? ( This is the Russian AF equivalent to Incirlik ? ) Could this be the October Surprise for our national election that Aleppo , Raqqa et al will be freed from the Liver Eaters thus boosting BHO 's legacy and Big Grandmas chances for winning in November ? Some kind of Elbe River photo op for Shillary is how one former official described it here recently,,,

michael brenner

One big difference. Rohani's election punctuatd a turn in Iran's political climate that led Teheran's leaders to bend over backwards to give Obama what Washington was demanding. They made all the concessions. He subsequently has stiffed them on implemented his side of the bargain.

What Obama et al are demanding is tantamount to suicide for the Assad regime, humiliation for Russian and a strategic defeat for Iran. So, this time it is Obama who will have to climb down from the untenable positions he's taken. Does he have the courage and conviction to do that in the next 5 months? Nothing in his record or character suggests that he does.


If you would knew ME, you would knew a free independent Kurdistan, even a fully autonomous one, was not, will not, be possible, even if Saladin was alive today. Except for western pipe dreamers none of the ME countries suport that, regardless. Like the state of Israel is tough and expensive to survive when you are not welcomed and supported by your neighbors. Maybe Kurds (like my sister in law) know that better than the European Jews.


As I stated recently (couple or three months ago)--"face saving" play from Russia for US is not only possible but probable. How probable? I don't know, I wish I knew what Russian and US military are talking about. There is no doubt that Obama's foreign policy is an unmitigated disaster. Could he go for some Russian offer of face saving nature? Also possible. As per Iran--it is not basing bomber force there, it is called the jump field (Aerodrom Podskoka)--it is no real base. Just refueling, some rest and then on with mission. Saves time, plus TU-22M3 is not real-real strategic bomber in terms of range (unlike TU-160 or TU-95), which is limited, hence TU-22's moniker--a Eurobomber. But its load is respectable, of course and this arrangement is good for this type of plane.


I don't believe you are accurately describing who is undermining the Iran deal. Obama has obviously paid them the $400 million, and worked to defeat senate opposition. He also has worked against the initiatives to derail the agreement, but we don't (yet) live in a dictatorship.


Sure, what Obama's current demands are would end Assad, but you assume he won't negotiate. I believe he will. Nobody in the US really wants this Syria war to escalate with increased US involvement. Nobody but the neocons (and Clinton) on behalf of Israel, and Trump on behalf of Putin.

Obama, no matter what you think of him, has a pretty good pulse on what the center wants, and that sure ain't war. Presidents often want to go out with a foreign policy win. Especially an unexpected one.

different clue


You are correct. And thank you for bringing the link.

different clue

Sam Peralta,

Yes, Clinton will surely try to get effective weapons provided to the jihadis, even to ISIS if she thinks she could cover her tracks on that. How would the RussiaGov respond? I don't know. I can imagine the RussiaGov would suspect the Clintonites of seeking high stakes brink after brink after brink in hopes of winning a short sharp prestige battle. The RussiaGov knows it would not end there. The RussiaGov also knows the Clintonites are not smart enough to know it would not end there, and not humanly empathetic enough to care anyway.

So the short term RussiaGov response would be to dance around brink after brink after brink as long as possible, and meanwhile strengthening and deepening military alliance with China and maybe Iran and maybe others. The RussiaGov's longer term goal would be to make itself part of an "attack one-attack all" alliance context of such obvious power that the Clintonites might eventually be scared to brink with Russia.

They would try to act very reasonable with Europe in hopes that European publics would vote their own Clintonite-equivalents out of power and vote European-safety-first Russia-accomodationists into power.

They would also try to lower their dependence on gas and oil sales beyond their border and increase their reliance on arms and weapons sales beyond their border, trying especially to undercut traditionally American markets.

These are all a pure layman's guesses, to be sure.

Babak Makkinejad

He won't climb down

Babak Makkinejad

It is no use supplying them with facts, Western people think they can create countries out of the thin tissue of paper, ink, and dreams. The last one was South Sudan, into which they had vested so much over decades. They finally got it and it blew up; demonstrating once again why UK is a sovereign state and Fiji a nothing.

If they sincerely wanted to help anyone, they could have helped usher in Puntland as an independent member of UN. But that goes against another one of their No-No-s.

Puntland should not exist, South Sudan should, and so should Kurdistan - but not the People's Republic of Texas or the Islamic Republic of Hyderabad

alba etie

Smoothie x 12
Russia provided BHO with the off ramp regarding the CW in Syria . We shall see.


The Rojava Kurds are governing their territory already with little if any Syrian input so these calls for federation may be just soothing rhetoric. The de-facto state of Kurdistan already exists in northern Iraq and they appear to be expanding their territory around Mosul and planning to at least claim part of that prize, if they can.

With the almost complete local and international rejection of the idea of and actual Kurdistan they may have to accept a lesser condition but their long-term goal seems to be a united Kurdish state.




"Nobody in the US really wants this Syria war to escalate with increased US involvement. Nobody but the neocons (and Clinton) on behalf of Israel, and Trump on behalf of Putin."
1. "Nobody but the neocons (and Clinton) on behalf of Israel" - Do you know any other powerful group in the US government, apart from ziocons, which makes all the important decisions in foreign affairs?
2. "...Trump on behalf of Putin. "- Could you elaborate on your conviction that Trump is a willing agent of Putin? This theme has been vigorously promoted by Clinton camp, but their supporting evidence is not just lame - it is imbecile.


"...Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed that Tu-22M3 long-range bombers and Su-34 strike aircraft took off from the Hamadan airfield in western Iran to conduct airstrikes against Daesh and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham — formerly known as al-Nusra Front — in Syria.
"It’s unfortunate but not surprising or unexpected. And I think that it speaks to the continuation of a pattern that we’ve seen of Russia continuing to carry out airstrikes and now it appears with Iran’s direct assistance that at last purport to target ISIL [Daesh] targets as well as Nusra targets, but in fact and we’ve seen this continually predominantly target a moderate Syrian opposition forces," Toner told reporters."
Poor Mr. Toner. He has no choice but to beg for gentle handling of the "moderate jihadis." He has a nerve to slander Russians by accusing them of avoiding bombardment of ISIS but targeting instead the precious and mysterious "moderate jihadis." Perhaps Israel is losing its patience and presses the the US to protect the Israel' tool ("moderate jihadis") from the imminent destruction? A free and prosperous Syria would be anathema for Israel.


Not an Iranian or anyone from Iranian descent believed ONE word of President Hopey-Changey. If and when he lies to his own electorate, one does not expect better. I had told before on this very forum "Iran gave up a nuclear program that did not exist, for a recognition of it's rights by USG that will never come forth".

The only reason, that the Iranian government decided to reach an agreement, was to showcase for the world community (and no, the latter does not exist of U.K., New Zealand, Australia, US and Canada) which party is responsible for the problems.

Again, as I had told before, when U.S. sanctions one country that could be effective. When it sanctions half the world then it is only sanctioning itself.

Only the "Northern Tehrani Westoxificated elite" (to use the conservative language of Iranians) were convinced by Obama.


Trump's daughter visited Russia for a vacation! ;-)


"Obama, no matter what you think of him, has a pretty good pulse on what the center wants"

ROTFL... Herb, you are either naive or delusional if you think that Obama, or any high level politician or advisor or think-tanker or Borg member of either party cares what the little people of America want (other than pretending to such at election time). Perhaps you missed all the articles a few years ago about the research showing that the US is a plutocratic oligarchy at the national level (democracy only exists at the state and local levels in the US).

As a whole, the elites only care what each other think... and even then are primarily concerned with whoever can help them achieve their own ambitions. Not sure why so many hang on to fantasies about noble caring leaders who dream of doing right by the little people. It is a strange modern fantasy. Though perhaps some people need this fantasy to justify their political ideologies and votes.

Of course a "foreign policy win" is seen as desirable as a legacy amongst fellow elites, but how often does such actually benefit the little people? But such "wins" do make for good exhibits presidential libraries. At this point I'm sure Obama is thinking pretty hard about that library and how much he can make at speaking gigs after he's out of office. As well as what sorts of do-gooder projects his foundation will promote. All these will benefit his image and bank accounts, but what does that have to do with the rest of us?


The opposition in Iran is going bonkers that Rohani made the deal with Obama to get 400.000.000 $ as a first installment towards the 1.7 Billion debts that U.S. owed Iran, for non-delivery of weapons that were already paid for prior the Saddam's invasion of Iran.

Obama's team and Rohani settled the debt by agreeing to reduce the sum that Iran was seeking, thus allowing the former to dodged a likely ruling by an arbitration court against the United States that could have awarded Iran as much as $10 billion.

Believe you me, Rohani shot himself in the foot and maybe somewhere else too.


You mean that it is not in interest of Iran to fight DAESH??


You can't spend 10 billion you don't have. You can't even spend 1.7 billion you don't have. But you can spend $400 million that you do have. I'm sure his opponents are going bonkers. So? My response was to whether Obama is reneging on his promise. He obviously drove a hard bargain. From the perspective of the US, why is that bad?



1) Yes. My comment was obviously referring to the electorate. They are a powerful group who, through their elected officials make important decisions in foreign affairs. We are looking at another right now. But the other powerful group in the US government that makes important decisions in foreign affairs is the US military leaders, and they are not neocons or ziocons, necessarily.
2) Trump is making his decisions as a willing agent of Putin in the same way as Clinton is making her decisions as a willing agent of Israel. A quite literal case of "if it is good for the gander, it is good for the goose.". Interesting (or not) that you only chose one half of my formula to object to. An ox was gored?

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