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17 November 2016


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Robert Willman

not going to happen. I like 21. The lemon sole is grand. There used to be another chop house on 54th just across 6th Avenue that I liked more. Ben Benson's. When it closed I thought to hell with it. Peter Luger's is too hard to get into. I just stopped going to NY City. pl

The Twisted Genius

My younger son hits Peter Lugers whenever he goes to NYC. It is definitely out of the way, but it's well worth the trip. He describes the steaks as pure artistry, outrageously expensive, but worth every penny. I've never been there and never will.


You have maybe already seen this analysis of the PKK's female units by Walter Posch in the OEMZ. The female units fulfill different roles according to the area of their recruitment. Some from the more "progressive" areas have been in fighting roles for a long time and gathered the expertise. Recruits from more conservative areas are not used in a combat role. Fighting is only one role foreseen for them, the other and possibly major purpose is of course to mobilise women for the revolutionary transformation of Kurdish society.
Link to the article (2ns part is onrganization):
You can click on the English / French language tab on the top right to go to the translation.

David Habakkuk


Lieutenant-General Flynn seems to be something of a puzzle.

After he was forced out as head of the DIA, in August 2014, he seems to have been, as it were, ‘nobbled’ by Michael Ledeen. They co-authored a book, entitled ‘The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies’, published in July this year.

This was not exactly reassuring, as Ledeen really is the ultimate ‘Groucho Marx Machiavellian’ – one of the most appalling examples of a species whose activities pose a serious danger to the United States, the world, and – perhaps most of all – Jews.

It is thus hardly surprising that a very thoughtful commentator, Daniel Larison of the ‘American Conservative’, has suggested that appointing Flynn would mean ‘that Trump’s foreign policy is going to be shaped to a large extent by someone with very dangerous views.’

(See http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/flynns-warped-worldview-and-trumps-foreign-policy/ , and http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/flynns-warped-worldview-and-russia/ .)

What I think Larison does not fully grasp is the scale of the puzzle.

The – patently bonkers – notion set out in Flynn and Ledeen's book of some kind of global alliance of ‘bad guys’ linking ‘radical Islam’ to a diverse group of states, including Russia and China, with Iran in the lead – seems a throwback to the worst elements of Cold War mindsets.

But it also seems in sharp conflict with what we know of Flynn’s behaviour when he was in charge of the DIA.

Here, a group of articles published by Seymour Hersh in the ‘London Review of Books’ are I think critical. It was perhaps unfortunate that when they were republished in book form in April, the title for the collection was taken from the May 2015 article ‘The Killing of Osama bin Laden.’

Much more important, in my view, are the articles dealing with Syria, the successful transnational collaboration which enabled General Dempsey to thwart the attempts to use the ‘false flag’ sarin attack at Ghouta on 21 August 2013 to lend American air power to the jihadists, and related matters.

All three relevant articles – the December 2013 one entitled ‘Whose Sarin?’, the April 2014 follow-up ‘The Red Line and the Rat Line’, and the January 2016 account of what happened after Ghouta, ‘Military to Military’ are freely available on the web.

(See http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n24/seymour-m-hersh/whose-sarin ; http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line ; http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n01/seymour-m-hersh/military-to-military .)

The critical importance of these articles is that they describe a reorientation of thinking among very important elements in the American military – with General Dempsey clearly playing a leading role – away from Cold War mindsets.

In particular, this involves a realisation that the threat from – Sunni – jihadism to a wide variety of powers, including Russia, China, and also Iran, means that there is a basis for co-operation on matters of common interest.

This is of course quite compatible with their being conflicting interests on other matters – but then a world where people are neither wholly ‘friends’ nor ‘enemies’ really is the normal state of international relations, and it is all-out ideological conflict which is the abnormal.

From Hersh’s work and other sources, it had appeared that Flynn was wholly ‘on-board’ with this reorientation, and indeed was likely to have had a central role in it.

If that was so, Ledeen appeared to have been very successful in dragging him back into the worst features of Cold War mindsets.

Sitting in London, with limited knowledge of American military culture, I obviously have to be cautious in assessing these things.

The impression many of us had of General Dempsey, rightly or wrong, was of a rather remarkable figure: a man who combined wide military knowledge and understanding with a broader intellectual culture – and also the ability to handle knotty political situations with subtlety and sophistication, without compromising a basic integrity.

It would be hard to expect anyone, let alone Flynn, to be quite the man Dempsey appears to be. However, he does not seem in the model of the ‘Walmart generals’, or of the arse-licking careerists so familiar to many of us, in various walks of life – the kind of creature Clapper looks like.

And if this is so, it may be that Flynn is capable of listening to good advice.


'Groucho Marx Machiavellian’

Thanks for that.


David Habakkuk

Flynn is a paradox. He was fired for carrying truth to the WH concerning the WH/R2P/neocon view of the ME. My conclusion after some contemplation is that Flynn was accepting of the arguments of the senior analysts at DIA and that Dempsey let him go to the WH with that MSG while staying in what we call "name tag defilade" (specifically unidentifiable) I am not surprised that Dempsey would do that. There has to be some explanation as to how someone like him could have reached those dizzying heights. An Irish Catholic cavalryman with a fine singing voice who is a literary person does not normally become CJCS. As for Hersh, he has benefited for a long time from help from senior officers who, like Dempsey, needed an outlet. Flynn's indiscretion in "hanging out" with Russians is incredible. Did he not think that such behavior would return to "bite him in the arse?" In my own little hermitage I was asked several times by RT to appear on their air and declined. Why? I did not wish to be denounceable as pro-Russian. Ledeen, is IMO a malevolent man. Flynn probably lent his name to the the book as the price of a publishing contract. pl



A lawyer? pl



'Groucho Marx Machiavellian’

I am not sure, if I would ever use a term like that for Ledeen. Never mind I was admittedly amused by his conversations via the ouija board with James Jesus Angleton.

Although, admittedly. I was completely unable to finish reading this:

"Machiavelli on Modern Leadership: Why Machiavelli's Iron Rules Are As Timely And Important Today As Five Centuries Ago Paperback – May 5, 2000"


Thanks, IZ, linked Flynn Hill article or oped is interesting too.

And yes, for other nitwits around, there is a for me new visualizing database:


Two random choices:


Sorry, not sure, but the recent Turkish Syrian musician encounter or concert in the South may have disappeared by now. Superimposed by new updated events? Are they struggling with what icons to use for unchecked rumors?

Babak Makkinejad

This "...threat from – Sunni – jihadism to a wide variety of powers, including Russia, China, and Iran..." was understood by Lt. General Odom.

The civilian leaders were not interested.

David Habakkuk

Colonel Lang,

“An Irish Catholic cavalryman with a fine singing voice who is a literary person does not normally become CJCS.”

That it seems to me is part of the problem.

Long ago I learnt that there is a very wide range of matters in which a military dimension is inextricably bound up with others: one cannot think or act sensibly if one has military people with no grasp of the political and social dimensions and foreign policy people who – irrespective of whether they have genuine grasp of these – have zilch understanding of military technicalities.

It makes for very bad intelligence and foreign policy analysis, and blundering policymaking.

So precisely one class of person one needs most are people with real military grasp who also have a much broader intellectual ‘frame of reference.’

And if one wants to come to grips with how bizarre and contradictory conflicts are in so many parts of the world, I can think of a lot worse starting points than time spend studying W.B. Yeats. The whole interaction between Protestant and Catholic cultures in Ireland is phenomenally complex, and fascinating.

That was also why it seemed to me simple inanity to marginalise the humanities at VMI. It reflects a fundamental inability to grasp the kinds of understanding which are needed to cope with modern world.

Babak Makkinejad

Right - genetic drift of a small population followed by decay...


What I can't figure out is; is Flynn just a guy who thought he was done, career wise, at least in govt, and decided, what the hell, to get a free trip, with expenses, to Russia, drink champagne, get laid, and hob nob with 'celebrities'? Or, was it something a bit more sinister?

David Habakkuk


A favourite quote from Groucho, which seems to fit Ledeen and his like rather well:

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”

Unfortunately, another good one doesn’t fit so well:

“Blessed are the cracked, for they shall let in the light.”


No harm meant, you understand?

But, I simply somewhat dislike to see them that close.



I am puzzling over that myself. pl

David Habakkuk


In some sense I did mean harm.

There is a silly-clever kind of ‘Machiavellianism’, which one commonly finds in erstwhile underdogs who have become powerful. It has increasingly seem to me that this mentality is common both among many influential American Zionists, and also many Israelis.

A central text in my ‘Cold War liberal’ education was Arthur Koestler’s 1940 novel ‘Darkness at Noon’ – I was interested to see that a draft in the original German has recently been recovered.

The novel is prefaced by quotations from Machiavelli and Dostoevsky. At its heart are the exchanges between the arrested ‘Old Bolshevik’ Rubashov – partly modelled on Bukharin – and his fellow ‘Old Bolshevik’ Ivanov about Machiavellianism, which have Dostoevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’ at their centre.

Also central is Gletkin, the representative of the new élite created by the Revolution and Civil War – the product of the ideas of Rubashov and Ivanov, who in the end eliminates both of them.

The argument about Machiavellianism in ‘Darkness at Noon’ is unresolved, because it is unresolvable. All that any intelligent person, informed by some attempt to seriously grapple with twentieth-century history, can do, is to try to find a sensible way of finessing tensions deeply rooted in the nature of the complex and contradictory creatures we are.

Conspicuous by its absence in what Zionism has become is any serious attempt to do this.

So the only lessons that people like Ledeen, and Netanyahu, can learn from the traumas of Jewish experience in the twentieth century is that you need to be as powerful as you can, and apply your power as brutally as you know how.

(For a short piece illustrating how utterly unfitted Ledeen is to attempt to manage an ‘imperial system’, see http://www2.idehist.uu.se/distans/ilmh/Ren/mach-ledeen.htm .)

These people belong in a mental home.


Quoting from your response to LeanDer below...

"All that any intelligent person, informed by some attempt to seriously grapple with twentieth-century history, can do, is to try to find a sensible way of finessing tensions deeply rooted in the nature of the complex and contradictory creatures we are."

IMO, this is a very important point! The complexity and ambiguity of human nature and real life is a topic I have paid much more attention to as I get older.

My observation is that no more an ~10% of any group are hard core true believers/strong ideologues. The rest have similar but "softer" beliefs, or espouse certain beliefs that they will get them ahead in their group, or simply go along with the beliefs of the groups they are members of (through choice or culture or ancestry).

Inspired by Eric Hoffer I have come up with my own aphorisms related to why people believe certain things.

Two of them are... Ideology is Easy, Thinking is Hard; Believing is Belonging. With regards to political and gov't officials I would add this classic quote "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. --Upton Sinclair.

From personal experience, as an ex-liberal, I am well aware of the social cost of thinking independently and taking the trouble to analyze the plusses, minuses, and "neutral" aspects of a particular ideology or politician or policy or leader, etc. Most people are content with easy labels that support their belonging in a certain belief group, where these beliefs keep them "safe" from ostracism by the rest of the herd.

In this election Liberal propaganda really went over the top in their belief that "Republicans are racists" (or fascists or what not), yet most liberals do not recognize this as hate speech, something they claim to be against, they see it as "truth." One can easily come up with similar examples of simplistic hostile beliefs from conservatives/Republicans. But the MSM was so over the top pro-Hillary and pro-Democrat, and did so much fear mongering, that hate speech against Trump and his followers became acceptable. The irony of the Democrats basing their campaign on hate speech seems to have gone unnoticed by most liberals. Unfortunately this type of non-thinking name calling has become the basis for almost all political speeches and writing from both parties. When angry, hateful speech is the primary modus operandi how does this help the US resolve real world problems involving the classic issues of power and money and who gets it? Clearly it does not, and the elites seem to think this is just fine as a "divide and conquer" strategy for them to retain power.

But I digress... back to Flynn... what was his reason for co-authoring such a book with Ledeen? Or traveling to Russia? Was it the money? Was it temporarily adopting certain beliefs to get another gov't position or ingratiate himself with some group that could benefit him in some way?

This leads to a more generic question...let's say someone has adopted certain beliefs or ideology to "get ahead" then how long does it take and under what conditions do such beliefs become "permanent" versus the tension of holding one set of beliefs at an inner level and another for career or public reasons?

With this appointment Flynn will most likely have to do some appeasing of things he doesn't believe in, as all public officials do, to survive and accomplish what he can (many regular folk do this in their own jobs to get ahead or to avoid disapproval from bosses or co-workers). Therefore we, as outsiders, may never know exactly what he really believes. And I think this is true of many public officials.

I do not seek "nobility" from public servants, I seek basic competence and pragmatism in solving problems in such a way that benefits the whole more than harms it.

I am taking a wait-and-see attitude about the Trump administration and what is possible for it to accomplish given the difficult and complex conditions it inherits. Though I remain skeptical and cynical, I wish them well.


I was not happy about being drafted. But, a conscript army has benefits. It won’t fight an endless colonial war on the other side of the world. It teaches draftees how to work together to defend their homes, hygiene and to make a tight bed. They see the world outside. Every family with a member serving in the military has a stake in what the government does and how well it does it. An effective militia provides community security against the ravages of cartels, gangs and headchoppers.

It is tragic to see America fracturing apart. A major reason is that the last generation of Americans drafted together to serve their country is slipping into arthritic drooling old age.

P.S. the last thing we called ourselves was warriors. "We Were Soldiers Once and Young".



I would go with less sinister and more what the eff, because considering at the time of his dismissal it looked like the Beastly Borgansim had a long life span to go and the professional career was over.

And while drinking with the Russians if he gained an understanding of their contemporary views, then he will have a good cultural connection that should serve both sides well in the coming years.



Nothing sinister. pl


Colonel Lang hope I am
Not disturbing your time off. But I was trying to understand why you equate Borg to "foreign policy establishment" specially since in past few days the focus of MSM is to shove someone they like as SOS in the Trump' mouth.
So I am trying to connect the dots, to make sense of the definition you made and to understand who would be interested to influence the US foreign policy and why.
The way I see it there could be 2 groups who care to have a control on foreign policy beyond the norm, both groups can and have used the same instruments for their goals.
IMO, one group is an ultra nationalist which believes in American hegemony
and superiority, this group are the American exceptionalists, their primary focus is to control and divert the US foreign policy for their own global view and aims. I can see and understand this . However the second group are more cynical, this group wants to control and divert the US foreign policy to benefit a foreign power, foreign interest or entity. If I understand correctly, the most dangerous and damaging of foreign government influencers, of US policy, are the ones that act like parasites, who could only survive at the expense of US, like Israel and Saudis. Sir am I right on this? Is this why you say Borg is the foreign policy establishment.


Even worse--law professor. Met you briefly once when you gave a good talk at UVA Miller Center on Syria/Middle East. Thanks for your blog!!


Thanks VV, I understand.

I can agree with what we call National Service here; putting all the young unemployed people to work in the Army, or other social programs. As you say, national service in the militia, not going overseas. I think you and your fellow Once Young Soldiers have turned the Empire off using conscripts for quite some time, well done sir. They have been forced to use a professional army ever since.

The resulting Stop Losses during the Iraq war stretched the US Army to breaking point. Who knows what might have come after Iraq if the US could have maintained it's operational tempo. And rumour has it that some of the returned Vietnam vets were forming an armed resistance; that must have scared the crap out of Washington. There are countless people alive today because your generation made conscription too hard to bear. Thank you from the generations that came after.


I understand, David:

In some sense I did mean harm.

At least I think I do. Would be more easy in German, some type of of cynically defensive invocation of humor? Indicating the wrong type of applied Macchiavellism?

Gaucho Marx - as some type of spiritual ban of the following term.
Machiavellian - in a nutshell: master manipulator.

The right versus the wrong master manipulator?

It’s Alright, Ma [Pa] (I’m Only Bleeding)

Darkness at the break of noon


And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only

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