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27 November 2017

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Lemur

I have three thoughts and questions based on the conversation in this entry so far:

1. I notice there's a lot of anti-Trump types in the comments sections of places like the Washington Post excoriating Trump for his 'betrayal' of the Kurds first in Iraq and now in Syria. There seems to be a meme in circulation that the US 'owes' the Kurds in general a debt. What is your view on these alleged moral obligations to the Kurds, Col.?

2. I agree that Israel is deterred from an objective perspective, but from my parsing of Israeli media from the centre left to the hard right (both comments and articles), I'm picking up on a certain unhinged quality in the discourse. I'm unsure if we will always be able to presume Israel is a 'rational actor.' As Israel loses strategic clout in the region, will the self-image of the Israeli elite be able to handle Russo-Iranic constraints? In particular I've noticed the emergence of a 'stab-in-the-back myth', beginning with Obama's Iran Deal and developing into Trump's "indifference" to "Israeli concerns."

Israel would not be the first country to start a war it was bound to lose (Napoleonic France, Nazi Germany).

3. While the President is the president, the various government bureaucracies must have developed entrenched habits. If State, for instance, has lost its Arabists, then it will probably have to be constantly course corrected like a one eyed horse if US policy moves in favour of Arabs. Or they will obey but not comply. Combine these behavours with a media apparatus plugged into elite consensus and a president can be constrained prior to matters of law. Perhaps a shorter way of framing this question is 'how does "the borg" differ from spurious conceptions of a '"deep state"?'

thanks

Willybilly

Will. 2718 is spot on. Taking at face value what Lebanese officials say is quite treacherous... suffice it to say that having two million or more refugees is not an easy situation, but apart from petty and other crimes, refugees are tolerated most everywhere, but all Lebanese would like to see them go back home soon. Half of Lebanon’s population are foreigners nowadays, mostly refugees .... the issues relating to changes in sectarian demography are no longer relevant now.

Bandolero

PL

Most worthy of discussion I find this statement:

"I don't think Trump cares at all about the Kurds and no much about Turkey."

I agree with that, but I think it will be interesting to see how this plays out. IMO, there is a major deal between Russia, Turkey and Iran regarding Syria, that's going to shape the region.

I suspect Turkey may leave NATO and may push US troops out of the region at will. I don't think that would be a bad thing. What do you think about that possibility?

Willybilly

Very very true...

Willybilly

I didn’t say that, you got me wrong.... and yes I agree with your point here. All I said is that you forgot to mention Lebanon and it’s two million of those refugees.

Lemur

History is cyclical. It's best to drop the whig narrative that justifies the present zeitgeist and adopt the tragic view of history.

Peter AU

It has been interest watching US military hubris disappear in the last few years. Vaunted world leading kinetic tech started to disappear with the appearance of Kalibre missiles and then S-400 and upgrade S-300 systems.
Not to worry, US was world leader in cyber warfare and this was still something that could be bragged about.... until Shadow Brokers displayed NSA hacking tools on the open net for all to see.
The Trump ordered cruise missile attack on the Syrian airbase was an interesting piece of choreography.
It both made Trump look presidential to the neo-cons, and allowed the Russians to show their prowess at taking down tomahawks. A large number simply disappeared before reaching land, though the wreckage of one was photographed at Tartus. A little more wind taken out of neo-con sails.

Bill Herschel

If you look at numbers, the air superiority is there. Even if for whatever reason the Russians were able to put up a good fight, I am under the impression that by sheer numbers alone, they would have been ultimately obliterated by the U.S. And what would Russia do after that defeat? Start WWIII with nuclear weapons? A nation that has seen on its own soil what 10,000,000 deaths during wartime looks like? I doubt it very much.

And then there's Crimea. The U.S. has launched the greatest propaganda campaign in the history of the world following Russia's annexation of Crimea, and it certainly has put special forces in Ukraine. But what has come of it? Nothing. What goal has the U.S. achieved in Ukraine? What military tour de force has it accomplished?

What's going on? I don't know, but convincing the "average man" in the West that Vlaidimir Putin is a close relative of Satan is looking less and less like a victory. And I don't think and hope that Donald Trump whatever his faults may be is the man to suddenly say that he has had enough and it's bombs away over Moscow.

Is it equivalent to hating America to say that spending a trillion dollars a year (including Veteran's benefits) for all this is looking more and more stupid? I think Donald Trump knows when he is not getting his money's worth. At least I hope it's that way.

Eric Newhill

VV,
The economy is doing reasonably well and if a decent tax reform is passed, it will really pick up. Business views Trump very favorably. He has already eliminated a number of pain in the ass Obama era regulations and sent other positive signals. US businesses are sitting on relative huge amounts of cash. A pro-business Trump can get them to begin investing again and having that investment be in the USA.

Ignore the reflex to wonkishly debate the minutia of the tax reform or indulge in "it will help the rich get richer" reflex. Markets have a large, important and often overlooked psychological component. Trump is doing all the right things in that regard. The rich will get richer and the less well-off will have more employment opportunities. Win/Win for all. If he can get some immigration controls in place, that will help reduce labor supply, particularly in the lower skilled labor markets, which will further boost the prosperity of the lower income quartile. Things are going to be just fine in that regard.

Let the elites and zionists say what they will about the impending victory in Syria. They are talking to themselves. No one else really cares. Trump was elected partly on making friends with Russia, destroying ISIS and avoiding wars in third world piss holes. Trump's base has a favorable view of Russia. His base will love him for what is happening and the leftists, as much as they hate Trump, are anti-war.

Peter AU

From what I can make of it, Syria government before US intervention, armed the Kurds as best they could, so they could defend against the jihadists. Kurds, before the Obama/neo-con US moved in, were the genuine moderate opposition.

Dubhaltach

I stand corrected - there's also this report from the Guardian: Syrians in Lebanon battle crowds to vote for Bashar al-Assad | World news | The Guardian

Dubhaltach

HOw does any of what you've said alter the fact that Syrians are both hated and despised throughout broad swathes of Lebanese society.

How does any of what you've said alter the fact that there are no circumstances whatsoever under which the Christian bloc and the Shi'i bloc are going to permit the balance in the country to be altered in favour of Sunni muslims.

Not going to happen.

GeneO

Erdogan is going for an open-ended, enduring presence in Syria. He has established Posta ve Telgraf Teşkilatı post offices in Jarabuls, al-Bab and al-Rai in northern Aleppo.

https://twitter.com/Acemal71/status/934542140662796288

Note they have both the FSA flag and the Turkish flags side by side. Wouldn't want those 'Syrian' liberators in Aleppo cut off from their care packages from Mom and Dad back in Ankara.

EEngineer

At that point it is no longer a proxy war and there is no way to hide the fact that it is naked aggression.

Peter AU

I am beginning to get the impression (from reading his book and observing his actions) that Trump is like a professional fighter. Working his way up from opponent to opponent until he gets to face the best. The neo-con establishment is the ultimate opponent. This will be an interesting bout.

The other thing, if what he wrote in 1987 is anything to go by, is that for Trump, delivering a product that has been promised is very important. The customer, in this case, is the section of the US public that he promised to deliver a product to.

Kutte

So DJT made a grand deal? Not bad for a "buffoon", dont you think?

LG

So true. This is a time for celebration. What we have to understand is that cosmopolitans, military contractors and Israel-firsters threw at Syria all they could and even then it didn't stick. There are no plan Bs or Cs.

confusedponderer

VV,
"the Gilded Age that ended in World War I with Germany defeated but not conquered"

The 'not conquered' bit is a remarkable statement. That's amusing me, in its own absurd way. Now, what are you talking about exactly? Please elaborate.

Even when I'm in a more generous mood, I wouldn't call, say, british troops being stationed in and marching in Cologne, or, while at it, french troops stationed in the Ruhrgebiet as exactly 'not conquered'.

http://n450v.alamy.com/450v/bjw9n6/british-troops-marching-in-cologne-germany-1918-1926-bjw9n6.jpg

To me what's to be seen on the pic looks like allied, likely british, troops in Cologne. The 'Dom' in the background makes that rather clear. How 'not conquered'.

Now, please just tell me how 'not conquered' it is to have foreign troops marching your streets and living in your town's barracks, formerly housing german troops.

Just as a reminder, iirc the first BAOR, British Army of the Rhine, was set up after 1918 to implement the occupation of the Rhineland.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied_occupation_of_the_Rhineland

You may want to argue that 'occupation is not conquering' or something like that, but then I'll tell you that you're kidding yourself.

J

Colonel,

FYI

https://www.rt.com/news/411137-netanyahu-law-corruption-police-publicize/

 jld

WWIII?

Wondook

Walrus & VietnamVet, I have followed your contributions for at least two years, and have seldom found a reason to disagree with you. Given I mostly completely agreed with your posts, it is the more difficult for me to disagree now. The allegory of the "stab in the back" worked towards the emergence of totalitarianism in Germany the context of an existential defeat such as the first world war and the German revolutions and foreign occupations (Italy in Innsbruck, France in the Ruhr) that followed. While the analogy of a return to economic conditions as they were in the "gilded age" before the 1914-18 war is certainly correct, I fail to see how Americans could see a withdrawal from one among the crazier of the Middle East adventures as a critical defeat of their country.

English Outsider


I hope it doesn't disturb the sequence of this thread but the emphasis at present seems to be on whether Trump is being resisted by his Administration, or parts of it.

Changing the policy direction of a huge and complex bureaucracy, and many in that bureaucracy attached to or used to the policies of the previous Administration, is one thing. But surely the main pressure on Trump must be electoral. He will wish to be re-elected and he will wish to see politicians elected who will not frustrate his policy aims.

The main battle therefore must be for public opinion, which is inevitably a struggle with those who can influence the means of shaping public opinion.

I came across a piece of journalism which I believe gives some insight into the world of those who are in a position to do that. Soros-land, I suppose one could call it - those who have integrated their business activities with this or that political cause and thus can both further their business or commercial activities and buy influence and the means of influencing others.

It's superficial journalism but maybe that's appropriate for describing the world of chancers and hustlers that, I believe, may have more influence on the workings of our democracies than any number of possibly recalcitrant officials:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/05/10/the-influencer

It is such people as these who can shape the way we think and therefore the way we vote. It's not a conspiracy - just a bunch of hustlers doing their thing - but unless a reforming politician can find a way round such people and the electoral influence they can exert he is their prisoner.

traducteur

I doubt the Zios will launch another war of aggression against Lebanon. Cowards and incompetents that they are, they must be aware that Hizballah would whip them again. Going in against men who can fight is quite different from shooting schoolchildren or carpet-bombing defenceless villages.

turcopolier

traducteur

Absolument. pl

per

Trump seems to have long held convictions that the US should cooperate with Russia in Syria to defeat ISIS and then get out. He has held that the problem is radical islam and that the opposition might be worse than Assad. Long conversations on Syria with Putin probably reinforces these views of Trump. Also, for long, Trump has wanted to make a deal with the great man. On the other side, there is the Obama view that peace cannot be achieved as long as Assad stays in power. Will people in the White House be able to convince Trump that Trump was wrong and Obama was right?

Then there is the question of timing. When the shooting stops, time is on Assad's side. Refugees start to return. It will become ever more clear that Assad has the majority of the population behind him. In Sochi, the Syria-based, reasonable opposition will hammer out a new modern constitution, while the Saudi-based, islamist opposition will continue to obstruct in Geneva. Countries like Syria, Lebanon, Irak are increasingly coming to their own. Americans will increasingly be seen as spoilers and guests that have stayed their welcome, not only in Syria, but also in Irak. There will possibly be anti-American demonstrations, liberal Syrians on television saying that USA is hindering the development of Syria. The illegality of the American presence, constantly reminded of. Eventually, the Americans will have to leave Syria with their tail behind their legs.

So there is a window of opportunity. By accepting the agreements reached in the upcoming Sochi negotiations and have the UN endorse them, Trump can make the deal of the century. Will he grasp the opportunity?

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