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24 February 2017

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charly

It depends on your definition of freedom and democracy. The NYT Editorial board definition of freedom has been capitalism and for democracy is what we would do.

A slight re-writing gives: American military action has been driven by the desire to promote market economies and governments that follow our example. That is exactly what happened.

turcopolier

james

If you think that you don't understand the unique nature of Zionist political power in the US. pl

FourthAndLong

Hopefully they turn it into a Götterdämmerung experience a la Hitler's bunker. Teach the kids a worthwhile lesson.

Only the Saudis deserve worse IMHO.

FourthAndLong

General Dempsey, IMO, showed remarkable foresight and courage and everyone owes him thanks (except the CLEJ dirtbags).

Babak Makkinejad

I think US policy - under Trump - is to continue the agony of Syria.

Yeah, Right

I fail to see how that excuses US leadership from responsibility for its actions.

Being a thug-for-hire does not make that behaviour any less thuggish, not does it make that actor any less of a thug.

If the USA is attempting to dismember Syria because The Israelis Want Me To then there are several words I can think of to describe such a policy, but "deluded" is not one of them.

After all, a US Administration would be under no "delusions" about why the Israelis want Syria to be dismembered, would it?

turcopolier

Yeah, right

I did not say it excused US leadership. there is no excuse for their stupidity any more than there is for your government in Israel for being so stupid as to want to destroy Syrian secular government. pl

Peter in Toronto

What IS the scope of the influence of this group? I've always assumed that Jews in America enjoyed political influence because many of them are high net worth individuals, and through their campaign and other sources of support, could align the elected officials with their desires as it pertains to Israel and her near neighbors.

Am I wrong here?

mike

Phil -

CENTCOM General Votel has reportedly committed to protect Manbij from attacks waged by Turkey or Turkish surrogates.

Thirdeye

I can understand the emphasis on ISIS with its potential collapse if the current trend continues. R+6 doesn't need to be sidelined by overcommitment if everyone else is moving in to fill the vacuum. The east Aleppo advance looks like a move to forestall any move by FSA/Turkey further south. And ISIS is in big, big trouble if R+6 makes a move on the west bank of the Euphrates to the north.

nafi

the skipping stones are headed for the coast

Yeah, Right

OK, so we both agree there is no excuse for the USA's behaviour in this matter. I guess it then comes down to an issue of motive.

You appear to believe that the explanation for the USA's behaviour is "stupidity".

I can't speak for b, but I have to say that to my mind this stretches credulity when discussing behaviour that is repeated over many years and under different US Administrations.

To paraphrase James Bond: Once is an accident. Twice is happenstance. But three times is war.

turcopolier

Yeah, right

The advantage that I have over both you and b, An Israeli (made Aliya?) and a German, is that I inhabited the monster that you view from afar. I was sufficiently restrained in my expressions of contempt for the animal that I was not "hurled into the public" (quoting Ron White the bard of Texas) until I had reached the civil service equivalent of a lieutenant general. At that point the beast vomited me up like Jonah's whale in the sure belief and hope that I would end up like Belisarius of ancient legend. But as Mick Trainor (a Marine's marine) said to me at lunch one day soon after the hurling "the good guys land on their feet." All else is history, sort of. But, with regard to your point - "Stupidity" in the case of American ineptitude in dealing with the world is a term of art. It refers to the self inflicted blindness to the actual world that has developed since WW2. The present collective American mind (a generalization to be sure) is the product of massive leveling in American society produced by the "Lake Wobegon" mentality manufactured in the public schools and media. In this mindset the literal equality, sameness and universal progress of mankind toward a brave new world of utopian non-violence and Western style democratic values is a "given," and the variety of mankind across the world is passing moment soon to disappear. As foreign people you may not know the philosopher comedian Garrison Keilor. He mocked America for decades by saying every week on the "A Prairie Home Companion" radio show that in the prototypical American Town, "Lake Wobegon" "... all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average." In Keilor's America the stratified (but not necessarily White) class and educational structure that produced FDR, Marshall, Dean Atcheson, Martin Luther King, the Dulles brothers, George Washington Carver, Eisenhower, etc. has been kicked to the curb to be replaced in large part by group think mediocrities on both the left and right. When identity politics became the norm in government and society writ large in matters of hiring and favor the quality of strategic thinking at home and abroad was bound to suffer, and it has with the result that we now have a government that in soldier terms does not "know shit from Shinola." i.e., is STUPID. pl

turcopolier

nafi

And the Age of Aquarius has come? pl

Lefty_Blaker

Col. Lang,

As a reader of this site for the past year or so, I find it to be an invaluable source that has very much educated me on many issues, especially regarding military and related foreign policy issues. Your comments on the "stupidity" of our government is particularly intriguing. Correct me if I am wrong my but you seem to put the blame on the "group think mediocrities" that have been fostered by the "massive leveling in American society produced by the "Lake Wobegone" mentality manufactured in public schools and the media." I wonder if there is not some other fundamental cause for this "stupidity" in government. I grew up as part of the eastern elite (born in NYC, raised in the suburbs) that had essentially everything laid out for us in terms of educational opportunity and further advancement. i graduated from an elite eastern university in 1982, and everyone that I knew was focused on their own private gain. Not a single one went into government service aside from a few nerdy computer science associates who ended up working deep into stuff they could not talk about. At that time, the focus was entirely on personal gain and there was rampant opportunity for such. It seems that every person in my economic class went for personal gain at the expense of everything else. Public service seemed like a inferior, "stupid" option given all the opportunity laid out for us coming out of this elite educational system. I had friends who made so much money in the go-go days of the 80-90s that they essentially retired. Wall Street was booming, the economy was being more financialized, more stratified economically. Not one of these "best and brightest" went into government except for a few who saw the gains they could make through the DC revolving door. The education system is still quite stratified but those coming out of the top of this system are not going into government. The world really seemed to shifting at that time where we elites had an opportunity to take a larger share of the wealth and we grabbed it with all our might, regardless of what party we identified with. It was self aggrandizement over all else. I wonder what your view on this is.

Another question I have about the "stupidity" issue is this: it seems that the powerful interests of the "deep state" having been pushing their agenda for some time to benefit their own interests. Aside from how damaging this has been for most of us in the US and in many places abroad, on what level is it "stupid" for these highly motivated players to pursue an agenda that benefits their group so directly? As much as I hate them for all that they have done and are continuing to do, I would call them shortsighted, self-interested, negligent, incredibly destructive and detrimental, etc but I don't think stupid. The corporate deep state had much to gain at our expense and they been pursuing with all the ability they can muster.

The Beaver

@ Babak

Isn't that the wish of Bibi and Likud?
Once they get Golan Heights and may be parts of Southern Lebanon and may be another 70 yrs Ur.

Valissa

To oversimplify... empires will be empires. Humans and human tribes and their power games are timeless.

Why are you looking for good behavior from an empire? Or even a country? These are not children or even individual humans to be psychologized and judged accordingly. Suggest studying up on the nature of states, or nation-states and empires, and the types of humans who tend to rise in those in different time periods.

Get real.

turcopolier

lefty_blaker

Your argument is just more warmed over "merchants of death" received wisdom. This is precious to the Left and I don't expect you to give it up. the last thing that people like you in the bi-coastal elites want to accept is that you are culturally isolated and becoming more so all the time. You went to an elite university? So what? By the time you went there the place was teaching the need to destroy the old America and the atmosphere there breathed loathing for the Old Order. You find it surprising that your better contemporaries did not go into government? Why would they? They had been taught to hold the government in contempt. But, cling to your childhood indoctrination... pl

Babak Makkinejad

I repeat again, the Protestant Christians in US and UK among the electorate bear major moral responsibility for all of this; they have caused a clash of civilizations - that due to the centrality of Islam - has become a religious clash.

There is no way to sugar-coat this or try to avoid talking about it.

And there is no way to ignore the clash within Islam; Seljuk and non-Seljuk, Revolutionary Islam vs. all others, Shia & Sunni, syncretic vs. Orthodox etc.

Babak Makkinejad

I perfectly understand your background.

I was riding the train from New Cannon to NYC one December night and a few rich White kids - around my age - walked in. The other occupant was thin aged Black woman who was going back to NYC; very likely a domestic worker in one of those abodes of the gentry around New Cannon.

The rich White kids started smoking dope, all the while being nervous; the conductor walked in, also Black man, looked around and walked out. The nervous kids were trying to hide their joint, but he ignored them, you see.

I was seated, facing that Black woman, and we exchanged glaces which shared the same understanding and smiled; spoiled rich White and privileged, oblivious to any sense of decorum or decency - reeking with contempt for all those who occupied a lower station in life than them.

They reminded me of their counterparts in Iran, whose world was destroyed by the revolt of the Iranian masses in 1979; and good riddance.

ISL

Valissa,

Exactly. good versus evil implies a soul and a conscience, which is something humans are thought to have.

Aggregates of peoples making decisions within a legal framework - aka a nation - if such a system has a soul and a conscience, then so does my personal computer.

I feel similarly about giving corporations human rights - I subscribe corporate personhood when and only when Texas hangs one.

God did not create corporations - humans did - think Frankenstein for a metaphor/

Pundita

Colonel, TTG: Re "Idlib cannot be left in the enemy's hands" --

Idlib is largely in the hands of the American, British, and European governments; without massive infusions of aid of all kinds from those entities the entire 'revolutionary' enterprise in Idlib would have collapsed.

I'd like to review this point again. This time I'll provide more quotes from Sam Heller's November 29, 2016 investigative report for The Century Foundation, "Keeping the Lights On in Rebel Idlib," which was received by the chirping of crickets in the press and world capitals.

https://tcf.org/content/report/keeping-lights-rebel-idlib/

BEGIN QUOTES
[...]
Idlib province’s residents numbered rough two million in mid-2016, according to one Syrian relief worker who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity,7 including an estimated 700,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) from across Syria.8 They have had to get by in a half-functional war economy sustained in large part by international relief.

Living conditions in Idlib were better in 2016 than they had been in 2013 or 2014, said the relief worker, “but not like a developed country.”

Some areas enjoy interrupted grid water and electricity. In many others, electricity is provided by privately owned generators for which residents pay subscriptions, and water is sold from tanker tanks. Residents work in small businesses, construction, smuggling. Many also work in agriculture, including on farmlands seized by Ahrar al-Sham, Fateh al-Sham, and other factions, and leased back to tenant farmers.

Some public-sector employees—teachers in particular, but also municipal workers and others—regularly cross into regime-controlled Hama to collect wages from the Syrian state.9

But many Idlibis depended on food, sanitary products, temporary housing, and other relief provided by aid organizations including the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Mercy Corps, People in Need, and GOAL. Much of that relief was, in turn, quietly sponsored by the United States and other donor governments.10And it has largely run through the province’s local councils.
[...]
There are 144 local councils across Idlib, including thirty city councils ...
[...]
Much of local councils’ importance hinges on their relationships with “munazzamat” (organizations), a catchall term that includes everything from development contractors to international NGOs.

Although some donors that still recognize the Syrian state in Damascus prefer to work with local NGOs and relief associations instead of local councils that operate in defiance of Assad regime authority, most relief organizations and charities have designated the councils their go-to civilian partner at the local level.

Local councils are thus the main vehicle for external support to their community. They routinely submit lists of vulnerable relief recipients and help coordinate and oversee relief distribution, including going house to house with donor organizations’ representatives to deliver food baskets and other assistance.
[...]
In addition to helping organize relief distribution, councils also provide some intermittently successful municipal services, ranging from operating bakeries13 to street-cleaning and trash disposal,14repairs to the water grid,15 and road maintenance.16
[...]
Many of these more resource-intensive services are supported by international donors such as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID), which have made support for civilian governance and service provision a priority.

The United States has provided support through a number of offices, including both USAID proper and USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (USAID/OTI), whose “Syria Regional Program” has a more directed, political mandate to support moderate opposition organizations and promote values of tolerance.17

Some international assistance has been delivered through discrete, branded projects such as “Bil-Akhdar” (In Green) and “Tamkeen” (Empowerment), supported by donors including USAID,18 the United Kingdom Conflict Pool, and the European Union.19
[...]
[END QUOTES]

Much of the story was already available to the public even before Heller's report. It's just that it was hidden in plain sight. The website for USAID outlines the kind of assistance the US government has been providing in Idlib, but doesn't spell out, as Heller does, what it's actually been supporting and doesn't specify by region; instead, it offers what I would call a fiction. But any press organization or legislator who was truly interested in what's been going on in Syria could have easily seen through the fiction.

https://www.usaid.gov/political-transition-initiatives/syria

I don't think it's a digression to mention that the problem for Assad is that the Baathist party bosses had always ignored Idlib Province, as Heller's report makes clear. That may be one reason he hasn't called out the foreign governments in public about their activities in Idlib. Since the Russian entry into Syria I think he now has real power, and I hope he can use it to stand up to the party bosses and bring in better government than existed before the uprising began.

But to return to the present, where do Heller's explanations leave the kinetic operations against the enemy in Idlib? And the concerns that Idlib must not be left in the enemy's hands?

First you'd have to rip the situation out of the hands of people who are bombing Idlib on Tuesdays and picking up the trash there on Wednesdays.

Whether you want to call this war profiteering, or compassion for war victims, or people who are just trying to show Idlibis how they can have a workable Islamist democratic government while bombs are falling around them, or all three, you're dealing with an insane situation that is enforced by rich foreign governments.

So what to do?

Thomas

Doing da Google search, it is Iraqi PMU and Iranian media claiming this was done. It could be disinformation, a lie to score domestic political points, a supply drop to special operators behind the lines doing their duty to send ISers to the existential answer, or, worse case scenario, the rogue scumballs at the CIA are continuing to do their usual stupid shtz.

If true, I would wager on resupply for behind the line operators.

Chris Chuba

One strategic goal of the SAA does look to be to link up with the Kurdish dominated SDF in order to seal in the Turkish backed Euphrates Shield group.

Here's a report from Al Masdar that claims that there was a clash between the SAA and the Turkish forces
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-army-liberates-two-villages-near-al-bab-amid-clashes-turkish-army/

In the past, I know that the Turks have done some cross border shelling of SAA forces but this is the first report I have heard of ground troops getting into a scrap. The article also includes a map that indicates that the Tiger forces are driving to link up with the Kurds at the narrowest point of 8km (about 5 miles). Hopefully that will happen quickly and nip the Euphrates Shield operation in the bud.

Regarding Idlib vs going after ISIS I think that a lot depends on what the U.S. does since the SAA does not have enough forces to do both. If the U.S. lands adds ground troops to Syria to make a serious run on ISIS, I can picture the SAA going after ISIS because they would be afraid that whatever territory that is taken by the U.S. / SDF won't be given back in our lifetime. In short, the Syrians are having to choose the least bad choice due to lack of resources but at least Aleppo is secure.

Lefty_Blaker

Colonel,

I said I grew up as part what you characterize as the "bi-coastal elites", not that I support these elites in any form. My point was not dissimilar to yours regarding what was/is happening in this elite education system now. Government is more viewed as a means to end of wealth generation, not as place to devote ones career to. My contemporaries who consider themselves "good democrats" while pursuing their own self aggrandizement and believing that their efforts would be good for the rest of the country are willfully ignorant. I fought and continue to fight almost everyone in my immediate circle about what the democrats have become since Bill Clinton, arguing as a Never Clinton, Sanders supporter there were very real reasons for Sanders and Trump to have so much support. Now I battle this same group who are blaming everyone but themselves for the abject failure of the Democrats and the rise of Trump.

In NY it is so very clear that for the last 35 years or so, we have feasted on the demise of much of the country as the center of finance. Obama's bailout money came right to NY along with a new influx of foreign money to create a huge building boom they we have benefited from while most of the country has languished economically. I am very much an outcast amongst my childhood peers (and family) because I see and talk about what has happening countrywide while we NY have become more enriched. I have worked hard to overcome my childhood indoctrination, which makes me very unpopular in the elite circles I still find myself in mostly due to my work. Now I am increasingly unpopular amongst my friends as I criticize them for there effort to demonize Russia/Putin to achieve their desired removal of Trump. Having lived in a variety of places outside NY, I can see what most of my immediate group cannot: that this country has been decimated by the elites pushing their own interests as the expense of vast swaths of the country.

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