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26 October 2017

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Laura

Fredw, I had high hopes for Tillerson but this strikes me as very CEO and a strong reason why government and foreign policy experience should be held in higher esteem.

Here is the article that I found so troubling.
http://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/26/tillerson-diplomats-policy-state-department-244190

blowback

RFE/RL is a propaganda site, so it's more a fake bit of context.
I think it fairly safe to say that if Hillary Clinton hadn't interfered so openly in Syria, the "revolution" would have been over in weeks and instead of ~500,000 dead we would be looking at a few thousand dead at most. Since the likely outcome of her pathetic attempt at regime change would have been to replace a secular government with a salafist one, the western world owes Russia a huge debt in preventing that. Perhaps, since she is so personally responsible, the Clinton Foundation should pick up the tab, or at least part of it. The new "liberal" Saudi Arabia and the chastened Qatar along with the interfering British and French should pick up the rest.

kooshy

“Or does this mean the Russians have agreed to remove Bashar? pl “

Colonel, with a lot I respect we all have for you analysis, I just hope for the sake of multipolar world, in this case you are wrong.
IMO you are right to be suspicious of Russians due to the past reputations. As per my past pessimistic posts on this same subject, unfortunately Russian/ Soviets don't have a great reputation in this regard specially with middle eastern allies. But like David, I have a faith/ hope Mr Putin has seen the light.

turcopolier

kooshy

You think I am wrong about what? I asked a question, nothing more. pl

turcopolier

b

IMO the Israelis are poor strategic analysts and if Natanyahu's security cabinet ordered the military forward they would obey. pl

FB Ali

You should read Patrick Armstrong's blog. A link is provided above by Outthere.

Sam Peralta

Do people who join the top ranks of government get a lobotomy?

Rex is no dummy. He climbed the corporate ladder to become CEO of Exxon. He worked deals at the highest levels. He lead a large organization that had to deliver financial & operational results every quarter.

I dunno but maybe at the highest levels of government one needs to become an idiot where every day you must say & do something that contradicts what you said earlier. Considering the recent past it seems failure is what gets rewarded in government. Yet people want even more government!

Chris

Tillerson's statement contradicts earlier ones made at a time when Assad's position was weaker (had not yet taken back much of the eastern part of the country; ISIS still held a lot of it, and the Erdogan regime was more hostile than it seems to be now.)

I tend to agree with the "virtue signalling" theory. Holding a small sliver of the eastern bank of the Euphrates is not much of a bargaining chip for either the SDF or the US. Even if there is oil, that oil has to be transported somewhere safely to have value. As long as the Russian Air Force is active and ISIS is being routed, this war appears to be in the mop-up phase.

jsn

Sam,
Its possible that Government and Business are fundamentally different kinds of institutions rewarding fundamentally different temperaments:
http://coreyrobin.com/2017/10/23/forty-years-of-the-firm-trump-and-the-coasian-grotesque/

aleksandar

Nobody will flee the country, unless by boats ?
Day 2, Hezb will have destroyed, all, I mean ALL electric power stations.

kooshy

Colonel, in case of your pointed question that if Russia agreed to throwi Assad under the bus ( capitulateing to US demand), so far it seems the majority of your bloggers are hoping it not to happen.

Croesus

Yes.
Pleased to find something we can agree upon.
Distressed that Tillerson was most likely cornered into espousing this position.

A year-and-a-half ago Moshe Ya'alon, Israeli Defense minister, staked out the Israeli position:
"Syria will never be re-united, no chance; wishful thinking. Assad controls only 30% of his territory [Mar. 2016] . . . We know the Turks are not happy with it, but there is a Kurdish authority in Syria, there is a Kurdish authority in Iraq; they might cooperate with the regime. But there's the problem of the Sunni Muslims -- DAESH, AlQaeda, Muslim Brotherhood . . . Let's find a way to have a kind of federation . . ."
https://www.c-span.org/video/?406449-1/israeli-defense-minister-moshe-yaalon-remarks

Isn't there something in the UN Charter that proscribes interfering with the domestic situation of member states?

ex-PFC Chuck

I second that. By all means read Patrick Armstrong's blog post. While you're at it download a copy of the PDF of Alex Krainer's The Killing of William Browder, the link to which was provided in a comment up-thread by nard. Part 5 of the book is where Krainer directly assaults Browder's credibility, and he does so mainly by using his own words from a sworn deposition he gave during the discovery phase of a civil case in New York. As described in the book, Browder went to great lengths trying to avoid being served the subpoena but was ultimately unsuccessful. I’ll leave it to you to make your own judgments regarding whose account of Browder’s troubles with the Russian government is more likely to be closer to the truth. For your convenience both links are re-posted below.

https://patrickarmstrong.ca/2017/10/26/how-i-got-here/

https://dxczjjuegupb.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/TheKillingOfWilliamBrowder_PrintLayout_6x9-1.pdf

Killing can also be read online at the Internet Archive here: http://bit.ly/2xkC1oI

Croesus

It's disconcerting how little is known of zionism.
The cited article (thanks, btw) is 17 years old, but as you observed, Balfour is 100 years old and the (modern) Zionist movement is at least 140 years old. Yet "zionism" appears in very few histories of WWI or WWII, despite the fact that Wilson, therefore Versailles, were profoundly influenced by the dozen or more Zionist Jews present at the negotiations; and that "The American Jewish Congress, formed in 1918 with the purpose of advancing Jewish causes at the Peace conference," returned from Versailles with "a dual triumph: a homeland for Jews in Palestine and protection of Jewish rights in European states."

Wilson having been derailed from his promises to both Germany and the Ottoman states, went to Paris a hero, returned a knave, leaving behind millions of people stunned by his betrayal and still working out their grievances.

The AJC, originally expected to be a short-lived project, instead became permanent and expanded into the World Jewish Congress (and dozens more similar organizations).

Alison Weir has posted an excerpt from her book, Against Our Better Judgment, explaining the Balfour - World War I connection - https://israelpalestinenews.org/wrote-balfour-declaration-world-war-connection/

Croesus

Agree Israelis are poor strategic analysts, but they are keen economic opportunists, and their economy relies on their military staying home and becoming entrepreneurs.

Israel: Startup Nation -- The Good, the Great, and One Fatal Flaw
https://venturebeat.com/2017/10/06/israel-startup-nation-the-good-the-great-and-the-one-fatal-flaw/

"The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is — without a doubt — a key reason innovation is so rampant in Israel. Mandatory conscription for all Jewish Israelis leads to a whole range of government-supported skills, contacts, and resources. Conscription in the IDF also helps develop leadership skills that align perfectly with the non-hierarchical nature of a startup.

[The 'fatal flaw' is over-exuberance: promising the moon while capable of delivering only an LED w/ extension cord.]

turcopolier

Croesus
IMO it is one of the great errors of strategic analysis to think that your opponent will act according to the rational actor model so loved by the poly sci people. pl

Richardstevenhack

Bingo!

Since the original plan of having Syria bombed by the US and NATO a la Libya has been crushed by Russia - so far, at least - Israel is now desperate to find a way to minimize, if not remove, Hizballah's ability to threaten Israel in a war with Iran.

Israel's only option at this point is to unilaterally attack Lebanon again regardless of the many problems you've pointed out numerous times here.

On the other hand, I see the new sanctions on Hizballah as possibly an Israeli ploy to divert US attention from Syria - now that's failed - to Hizballah. I suspect Israel wants Trump to directly attack - or support an Israeli attack - on Lebanon.

House Passes Iran & Hizballah Sanctions Bills
https://pascrell.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/house-passes-iran-hizballah-sanctions-bills

If the US can be convinced to join Israel in an attack on Lebanon, things might go more badly for Hizballah than an attack by Israel alone.

I've always considered this angle a possibility but less so than a unilateral attack by Israel on Lebanon. Now that the "Syria Quest" is coming to an end, perhaps that probability needs to be increased.

turcopolier

FB Ali

I did read it and PA is free to post it here if he wishes. pl

Babak Makkinejad

Israelis have many options; they can accept HAMAS 99-year long cease fire deal; they can fly to Tehran and kiss the hand of Ayatollah Khameneie and beg his help in reaching Peace with Honor with the World of Islam.

Their actions were never dictated by any lack of options; au contraire, theirs has always been the curse of too many options; which they always proceeded to select the one which was the worst for them.

Adrestia

I recall seeing a map with the range of the S-400 on Latakia somewhere. Most of Israel and also Incirlik is covered. Russians are also more busy than usual now. People and equipment coming in.

Adrestia

Should have searched first. Plenty of S-400 maps out there.

http://5tjt.com/russian-s-400-missiles-turn-most-of-syria-into-no-fly-zone-halt-us-air-strikes/

jsn

Plausible. The Borg antibodies have now encapsulated the Trump virus and turned it to Borg purposes of war with Russia. I credit Borg strategic analysis at the same level our host does the Israelis below.

Bandolero

PL

While I strongly opine who rules Syria is non of US business, technically I agree with Tillerson that the rule of the Assad family will come to an end. The big questions are more like when, how, under what circumstances and who'll follow Bashar Al Assad as president of Syria.

Under the current Syrian constitution Bashar Al Assad can put his hat in the ring once more for a seven year term, so without changing the constitution that would mean Bashar Al Assad has to leave office in 2028. I don't see that there is another member of the Assad family in line to follow him as president.

But in Geneva it was also agreed that the Syrian constitution should be changed to better reflect the desires and aspirations of all Syrian people and voted on in a referendum. And after that - it was agreed - snap elections are to be held. I don't doubt the Syrian national hero Bashar Al Assad would win all and every election held in Syria, and so a new constitution could mean, Bashar Al Assad can rule as long as he lives. I can very well imagine that Bashar Al Assad would not contest new elections. He repeatedly made comments in the direction that the Presidency is not only a great honor, but also a personal burden for him. But he said, he does his duty as he expects every Syrian shall do. And as long as the Syrian state ship is in troubled waters he will stay on the bridge and not act like a captain who abandons ship when in trouble.

I think a case can be made that the Syrian ship soon will manage to sail behind troubled waters. And I could well imagine that Bashar Al Assad then says: "OK, I promised not to abandon the bridge in troubled waters and I did that, but now the ship is in safe waters and I see a line of good and able Syrian people with lot's of fresh energy whom I would be willing to hand over the command of the ship. So I'ld suggest you compete with each other in a fair election for the favor of the Syrian people, and then the one most entrusted by the Syrian people should be the next president. And I can relax and enjoy the rest of my private life with my family."

Why not? I think that could be a fine scenario for Syria. And I could well imagine who could be the finest of the finest, whom the Syrian people would trust most: Suheil al-Hassan. I think people in Syria would feel quite safe if Suheil al-Hassan would follow Bashar Al Assad as president in a couple of years. Of course, that would be an outcome very different from the one that those foreigners, who were and are seeking regime change in Syria, were looking for, but, hey, it's none of their business who's president of Syria.

Though, personally, I'ld likely prefer Fahd Jassem al-Freij as next president of Syria, but, hey, I'm German, that's non of my business.

LeaNder

Well, it's the best to get the official United States Public relations on matters? No?

They are very good for that purpose.

Babak Makkinejad

Why should Assad, his party, Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia risk their equities that they have sunk in the Syrian Civil War in the manner that you describe?
Andto convenience whom exactly? The EU? Arabs?US? UK?
Lenin, Franko, Mao never did that.

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