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01 December 2016

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Stumpy

The words "retake Raqqa" as spoken by Sec. Clinton during the campaign, along with no-fly zone and the question as to whether Saudi funding was coerced or merely invited.

Before any more American blood is spilled on Syrian soil would someone please explain why it is in the American interest to "retake" Raqqa?

Ghostship

Maybe it'll be over sooner rather than later, although there will be opposition from Washingon, Qatar, and perhaps Riyadh. And obviously some of the terrorist groups are opposed.
"Syrian rebels in secret talks with Moscow to end Aleppo fighting"
Turkey-facilitated negotiations without US show how Washington could become sidelined
Syrian rebels are in secret talks with Russia to end the fighting in Aleppo, according to opposition figures, a development that shows how the US could become sidelined in some of the Middle East’s most pivotal conflicts."

https://www.ft.com/content/bc167c3a-b71d-11e6-961e-a1acd97f622d

doug

It seems our foreign policy has been, for 15 years now, to facilitate building some sort of firewall against Iran at the cost of decimating the existing secular structures. Authoritarian states that they were and are, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq still had significant religious diversity. Even Iran is considerably more Western, in the sense of religious tolerance, than Saudi Arabia.

The only thing that makes sense is that Iran is considered such a more capable regional threat to Israel and the West that it justifies support of the jihadis and dealing with their excesses as secondary to the goal of achieving Sunni hegemony.

But this goes against American, and Western principals. It is difficult to carry out a war adverse to one's core principles. It tears at the soul.

mike allen

Colonel -

Great quote from Field Marshal Slim. I've been reading his bio. The man had a good sense of humor. His troops in the 6th Gurkhas called him Slimbo. And like you he was a writer. Had to be as he claimed that his SWMBO, although a Scottish girl, was not thrifty at all and overspent his salary near every month. So as a young company grade and even when a field grade he wrote articles and short stories for The Daily Mail, Blackwood's Magazine and many other periodicals in the interwar years to supplement his income. I haven't found any of his short stories but am looking.

After the war he was asked by the BBC to give a series of broadcasts. The aim was of lifting the spirits of the nation, like he had lifted the morale of the 14th Army in Burma with his talks. He wrote his own scripts, and fought off any attempts by bureaucrats to change them. I understand they were a big hit during the UK's economic woes at that time.

PS - 182,000 active duty.

The Twisted Genius

Both Votel and Flynn also have a serious case of the ass with Iran. This seems to be a common attitude with a lot of general officers. Probably stems from the taking of our Embassy in Tehran, the failed rescue attempt and the Beirut Airport bombing. I don't know if Trump is really down on Iran or just down on a deal with Iran not negotiated by him. At some point we have to get over all that, at least on a professional level. Our belligerence with Iran, even if we drop the Assad must go thing and our support for the unicorn jihadis, is just another road to eventual confrontation with Russia.

turcopolier

TTG

How about this thought - that they are just sucking up to the AIPAC driven policies of their civilian masters. pl

The Beaver

Colonel,

Hit that nail on the head.

turcopolier

mike allen

+ 35,000 USMCR. Added to the active force, that is much larger than the British Army. I find Slim to be one of the most impressive senior Allied commanders of WW2. Among the Americans I think Truscott approaches that level of performance. pl

The Twisted Genius

pl,

AIPAC is certainly the Gríma Wormtongue whispering in the generals' ears, but i think the generals are still nursing long healed wounds.

The Beaver

@ TTG

And the French govt. is at it again. I thought their main worry is Daech.

Hypocrisy on the part of the Brits - they are partly responsible for what is happening in Yemen but no qualms about it and yet they are keen for a draft at the UNSC before year end since they know they will bet Power to back them up.

Cortes

"Uncle Bill" Slim enjoyed the wholehearted support of his troops . Unusually for the days, he took pains to emphasise the contributions of all the "backroom" staffs involved and took the trouble to make himself aware of the conditions that all were enduring.

A useful is perhaps the Ray McGovern essay on Petraeus, at least as far as the reported views of Admiral Fallon:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/01/petraeus-redux/

Walter

Doug, I think Col Lang disagrees with me, but I believe it's mostly about money; US policy makers direct their policy where their financial backers (Saudi Arabia, Zionist Jews, Rich Gulfies) direct them in exchange for the promise of $300,000 speeches, consulting fees, board appointments, campaign contributions etc. there are all kinds of sneaky ways to get paid . It is the way of the world and has been for eons. I believe it's the same with our domestic policy in which is directed by who will pay government officials the most money when they leave office or even during office. I agree with you that our foreign-policy in the middle east does not make sense from a logical or moral standpoint, but it does make sense when viewed as the path for the interested parties to keep their jobs, get paid, climb the ladder of success.

Seamus Padraig

Here's my best guess: if they can't overthrow the Syrian government everywhere, they might try and hive off Raqqa in the east and turn it into some kind of protectorate. That way, they might still be able to build their pipeline up from KSA or Qatar all the way into Turkey and on to Europe. Also, they could use such a 'free' enclave as a kind of Kosovo to destabilize neighboring governments that prove uncooperative.

Seamus Padraig

Or confrontation with China. The Chinese, I heard, get about 25% of their oil from Iran now.

Seacoaster

Slim also wrote Unofficial History, about his experiences as an imperial soldier during the interwar years. Read it on deployment a couple years back, great little book:

https://www.amazon.com/Slim-Unofficial-History-John-Douglas/dp/1844157911/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1480631572&sr=8-1

Seacoaster

Agree 100%. Things are even worse in the purely domestic realm, with bankers coming and going as Treasury Secretary. For all the empty "drain the swamp" talk, the most important thing we could do would be ironclad laws to minimize if not end the revolving door.

kooshy

Colonel FYI here is an interesting video of a Hezbollah fighter training Russian troops in syria how to say (send) a "Salvat" invocation to the profit and his bayet(household) and a Labayk to Imam Hossain.

http://cdn.yjc.ir/files/fa/news/1395/9/11/5505834_446.mp4

Laura

mike allen--I don't know if you caught this article from Andrew Bacevich ... speaking of Generals in general. http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/on-winning/

VietnamVet

Colonel,

This is my pet peeve. The General is basically saying that he needs his proxy forces to overthrow the Syrian government for Israel, Turkey and the Gulf Monarchies without mentioning the many downsides like supporting head-choppers or an OSU Muslim student running amok. The only mention of these inconvenient facts is on a few internet sites. If there were American conscripts fighting in Syria, their mothers and fathers would be telling Congress-people to declare war and win it or get their sons and daughters the hell out of there.

Anna

Agree. Israelis have been quite clear about their preference for ISIS as compared to the strong secular Syria and Iran. Basically, the US military has been used to advance Israel's goals.
"Ya’alon: I would prefer Islamic State to Iran in SyriaDefense minister says jihadists don’t ‘have capabilities’ of Islamic Republic, which he brands Israel’s ‘greatest enemy’
http://www.timesofisrael.com/yaalon-i-would-prefer-islamic-state-to-iran-in-syria/
The Congress' recent resolution for no-fly zone in Syria makes it clear that the Israel-firsters are greatly alarmed by the demise of ISIS in Syria. No wonder that the resolution (Resolution 5732, the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act”) has received zero publicity on MSM; any explanation would expose the resolution as an attempt at protecting the ISIS by the US: https://off-guardian.org/2016/11/28/media-silent-as-lame-duck-congress-passes-resolution-for-syrian-no-fly-zone-provoking-war-with-russia/

doug

I don't discount pecuniary motivations. They tend to afford a path of least resistance. But I believe most people try to do what they believe is the right thing. Of course Daesh followers are the same. They see a path to salvation and killed non-believers are just collateral damage for the greater good.

Americans, like people everywhere though perhaps a bit more so, tend to think other people are just would be Americans awaiting release from their chains. It's human nature but so is resistance to foreign occupation. We know that. We just couldn't resist the urge, once in Iraq, to reform them in something approximating our ideal of what their society should be like. The British were much better at that. They also had more practice.

turcopolier

doug

Most people have no idea what the right thing is. Iraq? We invaded Iraq because the neocons wanted to make the ME safe for Israel by transforming Middle Easterners into people who were really western in their thinking and indifferent to a disruption of the world of Islam. It was believed and still is by the neocons that transformation of Iraq would trigger a social revolution in the ME and it did. We are still living with the results of the "Arab Spring." You are new here. We have been discussing this topic for many years. Look at the SST archives. Please don't lecture me with a lot of trite statements. pl

Cee

Col. Lang,

I think Gen. Mattis is good for morale. Awaiting your opinion.

https://rehmat1.com/2013/07/26/top-us-general-world-hate-us-for-backing-israel/

Pundita

Pardon my interruption with a highly technical question but it's not entirely off topic. When a barrel bomb is dropped from an airplane or kicked out of a helicopter, can it make sort of a right turn while it's falling toward the target instead of falling straight down?

I ask because I've been thinking about panoramic photos I've seen of bombed-out E. Aleppo. It finally struck me that most of the roofs look intact; it's the lower stories that are blown out.

Granted there could be some special law of gravity at work in these ancient cities. But on the chance that heavy objects tend to fall straight down in Aleppo, is it possible that much of the damage to these buildings was done not from above but from below, as in 'rebels' and SAA firing missiles at each other from buildings, or from the ground into the buildings?

This concludes my technical question. But while I'm on technical matters, and in case some missed the report: At some point (the news report, published within the past week, didn't say when), the Syrian air force began using drone surveillance to compensate for their lack of precision bombs. The result was virtual pinpoint accuracy with the bombings.

This might have been a factor in the devastating SAF airstrikes in E. Aleppo in recent weeks.

And I think it would explain why the Russian air force reportedly pulled back from bombing the city. Even with el-cheapo dumb bombs, the Syrians were getting the effect of precision bombs when they used the drones for targeting.

That was all the report mentioned about the drones (gifted from the Russians and/or Chinese, perhaps?). But I'd assume the precision bombing made it harder for the bad guys to use human shields and to claim that 'blind' SAF airstrikes were killing large numbers of civilians.

The claim might still fool readers of say, BBC or NYT, but it probably wouldn't fool the Syrian civilians.

Mark Logan

TTG,

It may be they, along with Mattis, acquired their case during Iran's support of the Shia militias in Iraq in the last decade.

I see danger in Trump surrounding himself with men who harbor that grudge. He has selected yet another Iran hater as head of CIA. Should the only way he can see to get the spending he desires from Congress is a state of war....

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