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19 June 2017

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Sam Peralta

Col. Lang

With the shooting of the Syrian aircraft near Raqqa and Tillerson apparently stating that regime change in Iran is the goal, how do you see this play out over the short-term?

We know that the immense influence of the Israeli and Saudi lobby on US government policy across both the Democrats and the Republicans and now the Trump administration has lead in the past to strategic blunders. Where will it lead us now with the Mueller investigation and the post-election vilification of the Russians?

Sylvia 1

Thank you for this informative article discussing the dangerous situation we see developing in the region.

Foreign Policy identifies the people within the Trump Administration pushing for aggressive anti-syrian action as follows--both are apparently Flynn hires, as you point out:
"Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council, and Derek Harvey, the NSC’s top Middle East advisor, want the United States to start going on the offensive in southern Syria, where, in recent weeks, the U.S. military has taken a handful of defensive actions against Iranian-backed forces fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad".http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/06/16/white-house-officials-push-for-widening-war-in-syria-over-pentagon-objections/
There's an article in the WSJ today revealing Israel's long standing support for the "Syrian rebels". I understand most of these rebels are aligned with al Qaeda. https://www.wsj.com/articles/israel-gives-secret-aid-to-syrian-rebels-1497813430 I assume Israel does this with US money.
M K Bhadrakumar confirms that Israel is pushing for a US--Iran confrontation and Israel usually gets what it wants. http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2017/06/18/a-us-iran-confrontation-is-just-what-israel-seeks-and-it-may-get/
Meanwhile, Iran successfully fired medium range missiles at ISIS in retaliation for the terror attack on Tehran and the missiles hit their targets.

EEngineer

Would they, even if they could? I fear that we're so far down the rabbit hole that anyone who objects will probably be removed for the sin of appearing weak.

I suspect the only path to removal of US forces in Syria is if they are stung just hard enough to cause pain but not an automatic escalation response. I can't fathom what that would be though. It seems like a small needle to thread. There just seem to be too many on the US side that are just itching for a fight for so many different reasons.

The tinderbox of pre-WW1 Europe keeps coming to mind...

David Lentini

Mostly agreed, Col. But I would offer that the utopian vision was hijacked by the Neocons and the Progressives to give us a technocratic corporatist world government that reduce the vast majority of humankind to serfs under the sort of scientific tyranny that Bertrand Russell and Aldus Huxley wrote about.

The wars were largely a means not only of extending physical control, but, through the use of the central banks and deficit financing of our wars (hot and cold), our soon-to-be overlords were able to raise the sort of obscene wealth need to buy political acquiescence to their hare-brained plans.

sid_finster

As titular Commander in Chief, Trump could end this nonsense today. Simply order the military and CIA to withdraw from Syria and leave the pet jihadis to twist in the wind.

So why doesn't he? Is it because he has been turned, so to say, or because he has little real authority in his own house? Does it matter, if the buck stops there?

Harper

In line with the observation about the military fueling the anti-Russia ideology, I refer readers to James Clapper's June 7 speech at the National Press Club in Canberra, Australia, where he basically said that Trump must not be allowed to improve ties with Russia--because Russia has it in her DNA to hate the United States and plot the US destruction. Given Clapper's role in setting up the assault against President Trump on the charges of collusion with Russians to steal the White House from Hillary Clinton, this is a really important clinical inside look at the mindset of what Col. Lang calls the Borg. This is so out of synch with the actual history of US-Russian relations, from Catherine the Great's League of Armed Neutrality, which was important in the American Revolution, through Lincoln's alliance with Czar Alexander II, through the building of the Trans-Siberian Railroad with major US engineering involvement to the defeat of Hitler in World War II. Even as late as Eisenhower and even to some extent Reagan, there was an effort to cast aside the demonization of Russia. Has the "US Establishment" gone collectively mad? I guess that's now a rhetorical question!

turcopolier

sid_finster

He is not the "titular" commander in chief. He could order the withdrawal that you cite tonight if he wished. IMO he neither understands nor is much interested in foreign policy. His recent trip was a monument of ineptitude and ignorance. He is altogether focused on himself and the rest is stage dressing. He has some grasp of domestic affairs and is a great grandstander. pl

turcopolier

David Lentini

Ironically the present inheritors of the Puritans would view are largely godless but they share the Calvinist belief that those who do "evil" are irredeemably deplorable. IMO the commercial culture of New York Cit has been another thread in our skein. pl

turcopolier

Harper

Clapper has it the wrong way around. He and those like him have Russophobia in their DNA. Clapper brings to mind the scene in the O. Stone interview in which he an V. Putin sit down together to watch "Dr. Strangelove." Clapper reminds of one of the blue suited lunatics in the film. pl

turcopolier

richardstevinstrack

I am not as yet convinced that there is a "parallel government" conspiracy although Clapper and the other Russophobes make it plausible. ppl

sid_finster

Turcopolier: I don't know Trump, but I suspect that your assessment of his character is accurate.

Hence the term "titular" in the sense that while Trump may bear the title of CinC, his ability to exercise the functions of such is limited at best, and his subordinates don't seem too concerned with his opinion on things. History is littered with similar examples.

But to keep focused on the bigger picture - regardless whether Trump is manipulated, whether he has been strong-armed into compliance, or whether he has decided to become a neocon, the buck has to stop with him.

ISL

Dear Colonel,

Spot on. I think there was a reason why Gene Roddenberry introduced the prime directive in the original Star Trek as a prescient critique of just what youdescribe.

I continue to wonder why the Russian's have not yet tested their air defenses and EW capabilities against a US (or coalition plane). Research on public documents suggests there is a gap with the US. My impression is that our systems have been engineered in recent years (The F-35 is a clear example) for suppressing brush wars around the planet where EW dominance can be assumed.

1. They are worried about waking up the US to a technology race, potentially losing their advantage at a later time in Ukraine.
2. There performance is not as good as public documents believe.
3. They see escalation to nuclear war as possible and obviously lose-lose. Yet, Russia stages annual nuclear war military and civilian exercises. Since Reagan's happy happy star wars programs, the US duck and cover mentality has gone.

PS Thanks for continuing to provide SST as a beacon.

AshTheLightningFan

In the post above, Col. Lang suggests that what is occurring is the confused result of Trump's strategy of corporate delegation. I pray that is the case.

But I think it is equally plausible this is all occurring at the behest of President Trump. It would not contradict the promises of Candidate Trump, which is kind of scary.

If you look at his old interviews, Trump views "foreign policy" as something of a protection racket. During the campaign, most people nodded their head in agreement when Trump said "they should pay" & laughed when he said "we should take the oil". Few considered what would happen if any of it came to pass.

Well, it seems our clients are paying. Israel seems to pay in the form of "legal aid", offering up everything from lawyers like Dershowitz to its stable of elected legislators. The Saudis, more simply, pay in cash & the promise of future contracts. The Kurds pay with bodies, allowing Trump to fulfill his promise of "bombing the hell out of ISIS" & "taking the oil" without "nation building".

What these clients expect for their payment is some method of frustrating the ascendant R+6 coalition in the east of Syria.

Many claimed Trump stiffed them. Let's hope.

walrus

In my opinion, the "light on the Hill" view of American exceptionalism is a convenient fiction, as was the British equivalent "The White mans burden". I noticed this use of that fiction just before I quit my first job as a junior executive with Exxon - the company had just been fined tens of millions for corruption in a U.S. Court and part of the settlement included an Exxon VP travelling the world teaching all us executives about the new found standards of ethical behaviour now required of us. I had the unfortunate opportunity to test these standards when I discovered one of our contractors illegally dumping our hazardous waste. The result when I alerted the newly created "ethics committee" was so underwhelming I decided to quit with my honour and reputation intact. Glad I did.

I am being treated to another lesson in exceptionalism as I watch Netflix's "Designated Survivor" - about an accidental President. Last nights episode included a touching scene where our President is told by his beautiful doe eyed chief of staff that an African warlord who is advancing with genocidal intent on the women and children of an African city; 'You were in Ogobogo as a peace corps volunteer weren't you? Can't we do something?"She says. "Yes" says the now steely eyed President, then he picks up the phone to the Pentagon and tells them to "see to it". Folks, this is R2P claptrap, the trouble is that the under Forties buy it.

If America does aspire to be a world leader, then it is axiomatic that those you wish to lead can make more trouble for you, than you can for them. Leadership has serious costs and risks attached to it that are not seen or appreciated by ordinary people. The costs of our alleged "leadership" have been minimal because we have been inflicting said leadership on Third world countries. I don't think anyone without a good history degree, or who has not served or doesn't have family background involving the death destruction and displacement of war fully appreciates the cost of going toe to toe with Russia, and that includes the bulk of the American people. My opinion is that, if we persist in provoking President Putin, we are going to be in for one hell of a shock. Putin will do something that generates real 'shock and awe" and we won't like it.


Anna

There is no other way to deescalate the situation but to make Israel extremely vulnerable. The canard of anti-semitism is loosing its effectiveness. At some point, supporters of Israel will be viewed globally as the supporters of the unjust wars in the Middle East. For now, the Jewish community at large in the west does not want to see the implications of the wars. But this could not continue for a long. The backlash is coming.

turcopolier

walrus

Of course it is fiction but like that other work of fiction, the Bible, it is firmly believed in. pl

turcopolier

Ashthelightenoingfan

"But I think it is equally plausible this is all occurring at the behest of President Trump." No, outside his pitchman deal making mode he is an ignorant blundering fool, a sort of 21st Century Huey Long. pl

Gene O

I always wondered whether the New England Puritan "volunteers" who returned to England to fight with Cromwell and the Roundheads were sent by Winthrop. Or at least encouraged by him. The history books seem silent on that.

Lemur

There are lots of anti-Zionist Jews. Soros, Finkelstein, Chomsky and other leftist luminaries. They all drone on about this point, and have little impact. When you live by the sword, you die by the sword (in this case, political correctness). It is absolutely forbidden in contemporary society to allege that any group or sub-group has essential or general characteristics, especially the jew.

Green Zone Café

The wars since 9/11 were a product of mixed motives. Utopianism, yes, that was a part of it. We opened new broadcast and print media, which then often propagandized against US. We funded NGOs. We generated local governments, electoral systems, cooperatives, built hospitals, prisons, schools. Effectiveness varied, to say the least.

Oil was a part of it, too. There's an irony in that part of the reason Iraq was invaded was to allow the increase of production from there in order to sustain the petroleum economy. I say that having seen the importance the US Mission placed on facilitating oil production. While this was also to increase Iraqi GDP, it seems Cheney in 2001 did not foresee the wave of fracking which now sustains oil supplies quite well.

The other reasons were serving Israel by destroying its enemies and playing the tuff Great Power.

The motives were often in conflict, and depending on the country, the predominant motive differed. In Syria, it's always been about helping Israel and isolating Iran and very little Utopia, if any. Getting rid of Assad the first step, dealing with Hezbollah's missiles preemptively the second step, regime change Iran the goal. The cadres pushing a war on Iran keep their eye on the ball and are relentless. It's gonna happen absent a political revolution.

Lemur

Ralph Peters has some agitprop published in the New York Post today. Some choice extracts:

"Bashar al-Assad and his backers cynically dumped the burden of wrecking ISIS on us and our local allies to concentrate on slaughtering civilians, exterminating freedom fighters and torturing thousands of prisoners to death. Now that we’ve done the anti-ISIS heavy lifting, they want to exclude us from the endgame and crush our Kurdish and Arab allies.

Russian media have also been giving a platform to Putin’s generals and their alarming tone. It doesn’t sound like the Cold War I remember. It sounds worse. Having won again and again over the past decade, from Georgia to Crimea and now Syria, Russia’s officer corps appears to be itching for a bout for the world championship, convinced we don’t have the guts to stand up to them."

"What happens now? Our military is war-gaming contingencies to ensure that, should the Russians fire on us, we’ll be prepared. We cannot let the Russians dictate where we fly and who we can protect. We’ve gone out of our way to avoid confrontations with Putin’s war criminals, but there’s a limit. And we may be about to reach it.

This situation could become President Trump’s own Cuban Missile Crisis: If the Russians pull the trigger, will our president stand up to Putin?"

https://nypost.com/2017/06/19/the-stakes-in-syria-now-include-us-russia-war/


There's certainly a 'teach Russia a lesson' frame in operation here, as the Col. alluded to in the OP.

The Twisted Genius

I agree this policy that we now associate with the Borg does trace its heritage back to John Winthrop's Puritans. But it is not an aberrant policy only resurrected by American interventionists from time to time. This is a mainstream American policy that is dominant in our DNA and grew as our country grew. We can see it in our concept of Manifest Destiny and the Monroe Doctrine. Perhaps our cocksure embrace of this policy can also be traced to the Puritans' Calvinist concept of predestination. In fact, I can't recall a period in our history when we pursued anything that could be called a humble foreign policy.

turcopolier

GZC

We wanted the Iraqi poil industry started up so that they could pay for their own re-construction. you should know that the money made in Iraq and Afghanistan by Americans was made out of re-construction funds given be foreign donors. These counties have been a huge drain on the US. we have made nothing, far less than nothing out of this folly. Neoconism has to do with obsession with political theory and Zionism, not idealism. pl

turcopolier

TTG

So, we are a spiritually proud, domineering people? If so, should we not renounce that? pl

turcopolier

All

A woman named "Anne" write to say that we Americans have done all this for the money "i.e., for the petroleum, and whatever else the Afghans and Iraqis had. In a moment of annoyance I erased her comment. I would like you EDs to document for me how much we made from these miserable people. pl

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