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Syria war bulletin, 2018

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[Dec 29, 2018] Two More Spiegel Employees Out After Fake News Scandal Expands -

Is not "Greed is good" a neoliberal slogan
Dec 29, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Relotius, meanwhile, has "gone underground," according to the Guardian, returning several awards for his work while being stripped of others, such as CNN's two Journalist of the Year awards. A German publication also stripped the journalist of a similar accolade.

At least 14 articles by Relotius for Der Spiegel were falsified , according to Steffen Klusmann, its editor-in-chief. They include an award-winning piece about a Syrian boy called Mouwiya who believed his anti-government graffiti had triggered the civil war. Relotius alleged he had interviewed the boy via WhatsApp .

The magazine – a prestigious weekly – is investigating if the interview took place and whether the boy exists. Relotius won his fourth German reporter prize this month with a story headlined "Child's Play".

Klusmann admitted the publication still had no idea how many articles were affected. On Thursday it was revealed that parts of an interview with a 95-year-old Nazi resistance fighter in the US were fabricated. - The Guardian

According to Relotius' Der Spiegel colleague Juan Moreno - who busted Relotius after conducting his own research after his bosses failed to listen to his doubts , released a video in which he attempted to describe how Relotius got away with his fabrications.

"He was the superstar of German journalism if one's honest, and if his stories had been true, that would have been fully justified to say so, but they were not," said Moreno. "At the start it was the small mistakes, things that seemed too hard to believe that made me suspicious."

In addition to having several awards stripped from him, the 33-year-old Relotius now faces embezzlement charges for allegedly soliciting donations for Syrian orphans from readers "with any proceeds going to his personal account," according to the BBC . On Thursday, Relotius denied the accusations.

[Dec 29, 2018] Why Mattis' Exit Is A Defining Moment In US Foreign Policy

Dec 29, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

William Bowles , Dec 27, 2018 4:52:43 AM | link

Why Mattis' Exit Is A Defining Moment In US Foreign Policy

by M. K. BHADRAKUMAR

An important analysis!

https://orientalreview.org/2018/12/27/why-mattis-exit-is-a-defining-moment-in-us-foreign-policy/

[Dec 28, 2018] Send Mad Dog James Mattis to the Corporate Kennel

Notable quotes:
"... Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer before working as a CIA analyst for the next 27 years. Ray admits to a modicum of bias against Marine officers, but not those with whom he worked back in the day. He is co-creator of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, which includes Marines who remember what Semper Fi means. ..."
"... A case in point is when you hear members of congress criticize Trump decision to withdraw the US army personals from Syria and Afganistan. These members forget that the US army in Syria is in violation of international laws and US laws as well. ..."
Dec 28, 2018 | www.mintpressnews.com

utgoing Defense Secretary Gen. James "Mad Dog" Mattis was famous for quipping , "It's fun to shoot some people." It remains a supreme irony that Mattis was widely considered the only "adult in the room" in the Trump administration. Compared to whom? John Bolton, the rabid neocon serving as national security adviser? That would be the epitome of "condemning with faint praise."

With his ramrod-straight image, not to mention his warrior/scholar reputation extolled in the media, Mattis was able to disguise the reality that he was, as Col. Andrew Bacevich put it on Democracy Now! this morning, "totally unimaginative." Meaning that Mattis was simply incapable of acknowledging the self-destructive, mindless nature of U.S. "endless war" in the Middle East, which candidate-Trump had correctly called "stupid." In his resignation letter, Mattis also peddled the usual cant about the indispensable nation's aggression being good for the world.

Mattis was an obstacle to Trump's desire to pull troops out of Syria and Afghanistan (and remains in position to spike Trump's orders). Granted, the abrupt way Trump announced his apparently one-man decision was equally stupid. But the withdrawal of ground troops is supremely sane, and Mattis was and is a large problem. And, for good or ill, Trump -- not Mattis -- was elected president.

Marine Wisdom

Historically, Marines are the last place to turn for sound advice. Marine Gen. Smedley Butler (1881-1940), twice winner of the Medal of Honor, was brutally candid about this after he paused long enough to realize, and write, "War is a Racket":

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all members of the military profession I never had an original thought until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of the higher- ups. "

Shortly after another Marine general, former CENTCOM commander Anthony Zinni, retired, he stood by silently as he personally watched then-Vice President Dick Cheney give his most important speech ever (on August 26, 2002). Cheney blatantly lied about Iraq's (non-existent) WMD, in order to grease the skids for the war of aggression against Iraq. Zinni had kept his clearances and was "back on contract." He was well read-in on Iraq, and knew immediately that Cheney was lying.

A few years later, Zinni admitted that he decided that his lips would be sealed. Far be it for a Marine to play skunk at the picnic. And, after all, he was being honored that day at the same Veterans of Foreign Wars convention where Cheney spoke. As seems clear now, Zinni was also lusting after the lucrative spoils of war given to erstwhile generals who offer themselves for membership on the corporate Boards of the arms makers/merchants that profiteer on war.

(For an earlier critique of senior Marines, see: "Attacking Syria: Thumbing Noses at Constitution and Law." )

Marine officer, now Sen. Pat Roberts, R, Kansas, merits "dishonorable mention" in this connection. He never rose to general but did become Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee at an auspicious time for Cheney and Bush. Roberts kowtowed, like a "good Marine," to their crass deceit, when a dollop of honesty on his part could have prevented the 2003 attack on Iraq and the killing, maiming, destruction, and chaos that continues to this day. Roberts knew all about the fraudulent intelligence and covered it up -- together with other lies -- for as long as he remained Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman

Scott Ritter on Pat Roberts

Roberts's unconscionable dereliction of duty enraged one honest Marine, Maj. Scott Ritter, who believes "Semper Fi" includes an obligation to tell the truth on matters of war and peace. Ritter, former UN chief weapons inspector for Iraq, who in April 2005 wrote, "Semper Fraud, Senator Roberts," based partly on his own experience with that complicit Marine.

Needless to say, higher ranking, more malleable Marines aped Zinni in impersonating Uncle Remus's Tar Baby -- not saying nuttin'.

It is conceivable that yet another sharply-saluting Marine, departing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, may be tapped by Trump to take Mattis's job. If that happens, it will add to President Trump's bizarre penchant for picking advisers hell-bent on frustrating the objectives he espoused when he was running for office, some of which -- it is becoming quite clear -- he genuinely wants to achieve.

Trump ought to unleash Mattis now, and make sure Mattis keeps his distance from the Pentagon and the Military-Industrial Complex before he is asked to lead an insurrection against a highly vulnerable president -- as Gen. Smedley Butler was asked to do back in the day. Butler said no.

Top Photo | U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, sits on stage during a change of command ceremony at the U.S. Southern Command headquarters on Nov. 26, 2018, in Doral, Fla. Brynn Anderson | AP

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer before working as a CIA analyst for the next 27 years. Ray admits to a modicum of bias against Marine officers, but not those with whom he worked back in the day. He is co-creator of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, which includes Marines who remember what Semper Fi means.

Mahmoud HAm 4 days ago ,

I am not so much surprised that military generals keep their mouths shot rather than tell the truth when the truth is needed to avoid wars. But worse is that the US congress which are supposed to overlook over the government misbehavior to make the government abide by the laws and protect the interests of the people against government wrongs.

A case in point is when you hear members of congress criticize Trump decision to withdraw the US army personals from Syria and Afganistan. These members forget that the US army in Syria is in violation of international laws and US laws as well.

The congress are supposed the authority to declare war but the US is engaged in multiple wars without US Congress authorization. Worse off these idiots want to force the Trump administration to keep its illegal wars going on? What is the role of the congress??? To correct and force the Administration to abide by the rule of laws of the force them to keep violating international laws and US laws as well????

Felix Hoenikker 5 days ago ,

Trump's bizarre penchant for picking advisers hell-bent on frustrating the objectives he espoused when he was running for office

It's bizarre that he's hired so many Bill Kristol approved neocons when they abandoned him for Hillary in 2016. Or not so bizarre when one remembers what Russ Tice said about Cheney using the NSA to get blackmail dirt. Now they've lost control, so it will be interesting to see how they try to regain it.

[Dec 27, 2018] Who Was Secretly Behind America's Invading and Occupying Syria

Notable quotes:
"... "the C.I.A. and its Saudi counterpart have maintained an unusual arrangement for the rebel-training mission, which the Americans have code-named Timber Sycamore. Under the deal, current and former administration officials said, the Saudis contribute both weapons and large sums of money, and the C.I.A takes the lead in training the rebels. From the moment the C.I.A. operation was started, Saudi money supported it." ..."
"... "The Saudi efforts were led by the flamboyant Prince Bandar bin Sultan, at the time the intelligence chief, who directed Saudi spies to buy thousands of AK-47s and millions of rounds of ammunition in Eastern Europe for the Syrian rebels. The C.I.A. helped arrange some of the arms purchases for the Saudis, including a large deal in Croatia in 2012." ..."
"... "In late 2012, according to two former senior American officials, David H. Petraeus, then the C.I.A. director, delivered a stern lecture to intelligence officials of several gulf nations at a meeting near the Dead Sea in Jordan. He chastised them for sending arms into Syria without coordinating with one another or with C.I.A. officers in Jordan and Turkey. Months later, Mr. Obama gave his approval for the C.I.A. to begin directly arming and training the rebels from a base in Jordan, amending the Timber Sycamore program to allow lethal assistance. Under the new arrangement, the C.I.A. took the lead in training, while Saudi Arabia's intelligence agency, the General Intelligence Directorate, provided money and weapons, including TOW anti-tank missiles," ..."
Dec 27, 2018 | www.strategic-culture.org

One of the best articles that the New York Times ever published was by Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo, on 23 January 2016, "US Relies Heavily on Saudi Money to Support Syrian Rebels" . They reported that, "the C.I.A. and its Saudi counterpart have maintained an unusual arrangement for the rebel-training mission, which the Americans have code-named Timber Sycamore. Under the deal, current and former administration officials said, the Saudis contribute both weapons and large sums of money, and the C.I.A takes the lead in training the rebels. From the moment the C.I.A. operation was started, Saudi money supported it." Furthermore, "The White House has embraced the covert financing from Saudi Arabia -- and from Qatar, Jordan and Turkey." But "American officials said Saudi Arabia was by far the largest contributor to the operation." The invasion and occupation of Syria by jihadists from around the world was primarily a Saud operation, though it was managed mainly by the US Government.

... ... ...

Prior to the failed US-backed coup-attempt on 15 July 2015 to replace Tayyip Erdogan as Turkey's President, Turkey was part of the U.S-Saudi alliance to overthrow and replace Syria's Government. But afterwards, Turkey increasingly switched against the US and Sauds, and toward instead supporting the target of the Sauds and of America's aristocrats: Syria. And, so, Turkey has increasingly joined Syria's alliance, which includes Iran and Russia. That's one of the major geopolitical changes in recent decades.

The NYT continued: "The Saudi efforts were led by the flamboyant Prince Bandar bin Sultan, at the time the intelligence chief, who directed Saudi spies to buy thousands of AK-47s and millions of rounds of ammunition in Eastern Europe for the Syrian rebels. The C.I.A. helped arrange some of the arms purchases for the Saudis, including a large deal in Croatia in 2012."

The US preferred to be supplying the jihadists weapons that weren't from US manufacturers, in order to impede any tracing back to the United States the arming of the movement to oust and replace Syria's secular, committedly non-sectarian, Government. The Sauds -- who are just as committedly sectarian, and are even supporters of the extreme fundamentalist Wahhabist sect of Sunni Islam -- likewise tried to cover their tracks in this operation, but their tracks were financial. The Sauds have been especially skillful at covering their tracks. Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud was a buddy of George W. Bush, and had secretly donated over a million dollars in cash to Al Qaeda prior to the 9/11 attacks, according to Osama bin Laden's financial bagman , who had picked up personally each one of the million-dollar-cash donations to that organization until 9/11 and who named amongst those donors not only Prince Bandar but also Prince Salman al-Saud, who subsequently became King Salman, who is now the father of Crown Prince Salman, who recently murdered the "In late 2012, according to two former senior American officials, David H. Petraeus, then the C.I.A. director, delivered a stern lecture to intelligence officials of several gulf nations at a meeting near the Dead Sea in Jordan. He chastised them for sending arms into Syria without coordinating with one another or with C.I.A. officers in Jordan and Turkey. Months later, Mr. Obama gave his approval for the C.I.A. to begin directly arming and training the rebels from a base in Jordan, amending the Timber Sycamore program to allow lethal assistance. Under the new arrangement, the C.I.A. took the lead in training, while Saudi Arabia's intelligence agency, the General Intelligence Directorate, provided money and weapons, including TOW anti-tank missiles," columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Crown Prince Salman is also a close friend of America's current 'prince', Jared Kushner, the US President's son-in-law. So, the Saud family are very close with America's Republican aristocrats, perhaps even closer than they are with America's Democratic aristocrats. But especially because of the business links, the Sauds are deeply influential throughout America's aristocracy. Not only is Saudi Arabia the world's most oil-rich country, but it is also the world's largest purchaser of weapons from Lockheed Martin and the other American 'defense' contractors, which sell exclusively to the US Government and to the governments that are allied with it (such as to Saudi Arabia). So, those corporations depend upon the Sauds more than upon any other family, even than any single American family.

The Saud family are also crucial allies with Israel's aristocracy , who include such American billionaires as the Republican Sheldon Adelson and the Democrat Lesley Wexner.

Prince Bandar was also reported by the FBI to have financed directly from his personal checking account the US stays, and the pilot-training, of at least two of the 15 Saudis who were among the 19 jihadists who carried out the piloting and plane-seizings on 9/11. So, if Bandar didn't (perhaps in consultation with George W. Bush) actually plan those attacks himself, he at least was one of their chief financial backers.

[Dec 27, 2018] Why Mattis' Exit Is A Defining Moment In US Foreign Policy by M. K. BHADRAKUMAR

Dec 27, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

William Bowles , Dec 27, 2018 4:52:43 AM | link

Why Mattis' Exit Is A Defining Moment In US Foreign Policy

by M. K. BHADRAKUMAR

An important analysis!

https://orientalreview.org/2018/12/27/why-mattis-exit-is-a-defining-moment-in-us-foreign-policy/

[Dec 27, 2018] Trump Pulls Troops Out of Syria in Desperate Attempt to Save His Presidency, Causing Geopolitical Earthquake

Notable quotes:
"... On December 19, Donald Trump announced in a Twitter message: "Our boys, our young women, our men, they're all coming back and they're coming back now. We won". Shortly thereafter, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement: "We have started the process of returning US troops home from Syria as we transition to the next phase of the campaign". ..."
"... The temperature is heating up for Trump following the midterms, as the Democrats prepare to take command of the House of Representatives in January, something that Trump had always hoped to avert. He surrounded himself with generals, in the forlorn hope that this would somehow protect him. If the last two years of his presidency were constantly under the cloud of Mueller's investigation, or insinuations of being an agent of Putin, from January 2019 the situation is going to get much more complicated. The Democratic electoral base is baying for the President's impeachment, the party already in full pre-primary mode, with more than 20 candidates competing, with the incumbent of the White House offering the rallying cry. ..."
"... Given that 70% of Americans think that the war in Afghanistan was a mistake, the more that the mainstream media attacks Trump for his decision to withdraw, the more they direct votes to Trump. In this sense, Trump's move seems to be directed at a domestic rather than an international audience. ..."
"... The decision to get out of Syria is timed to coincide with another move that will also very much please Trump's base. The government shutdown is a result of the Democrats refusing to fund Trump's campaign promise to build a wall on the Mexican border. ..."
"... The choice to announce to his base, via Twitter, a victory against ISIS and the immediate withdrawal of US troops was a smart election move with an eye on the 2020 election. ..."
"... Macron has for now reacted angrily at Trump's decision, intensifying the division between the two, and is adamant that the French military presence in Syria will continue. ..."
"... The military-industrial-intelligence-media complex considers Trump's decision the worst of of all possible moves. Mattis even resigned on account of this. ..."
"... For Israel, it is a double disaster, with Netanyahu desperate to survive, seeking to factor in expected elections in a now-or-never political move. Trump probably understands that Bibi is done for, and that at this point, the withdrawal of troops, fulfilling a fundamental electoral promise, counts more than Israeli money and his friendship to Bibi. ..."
Dec 27, 2018 | www.strategic-culture.org

On December 19, Donald Trump announced in a Twitter message: "Our boys, our young women, our men, they're all coming back and they're coming back now. We won". Shortly thereafter, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement: "We have started the process of returning US troops home from Syria as we transition to the next phase of the campaign".

The reasons for Donald Trump's move are many, but they are mainly driven by US domestic concerns. The temperature is heating up for Trump following the midterms, as the Democrats prepare to take command of the House of Representatives in January, something that Trump had always hoped to avert. He surrounded himself with generals, in the forlorn hope that this would somehow protect him. If the last two years of his presidency were constantly under the cloud of Mueller's investigation, or insinuations of being an agent of Putin, from January 2019 the situation is going to get much more complicated. The Democratic electoral base is baying for the President's impeachment, the party already in full pre-primary mode, with more than 20 candidates competing, with the incumbent of the White House offering the rallying cry.

The combination of these factors has forced Trump to change gears, considering that the military-industrial-intelligence-media-complex has always been ready to get rid of Trump, even in favor of a President Pence. The only option available for Trump in order to have a chance of reelection in 2020 is to undertake a self-promotion tour, a practice in which he has few peers, and which will involve him repeating his mantra of "Promises Made, Promises Kept". He will list how he has fought against the fake-news media, suffered internal sabotage, as well as other efforts (from the Fed, the FBI, and Mueller himself) to hamper his efforts to "Make America Great Again".

Trump has perhaps understood that in order to be re-elected, he must pursue a simple media strategy that will have a direct impact on his base. Withdrawing US troops from Syria, and partly from Afghanistan, serves this purpose. It is an easy way to win with his constituents, while it is a heavy blow to his fiercest critics in Washington who are against this decision. Given that 70% of Americans think that the war in Afghanistan was a mistake, the more that the mainstream media attacks Trump for his decision to withdraw, the more they direct votes to Trump. In this sense, Trump's move seems to be directed at a domestic rather than an international audience.

The decision to get out of Syria is timed to coincide with another move that will also very much please Trump's base. The government shutdown is a result of the Democrats refusing to fund Trump's campaign promise to build a wall on the Mexican border. It is not difficult to understand that the average citizen is fed up with the useless wars in the Middle East, and Trump's words on immigration resonate with his voters. The more the media, the Democrats and the deep state criticize Trump on the wall, on the Syria pull out and on shutting down the government, the more they are campaigning for him.

This is why in order to understand the withdrawal of the United States from Syria it is necessary to see things from Trump's perspective, even as frustrating, confusing and incomprehensible that may seem at times.

The difference this time around was that the decision to withdraw US troops from Syria was Trump's alone, not something imposed on him by the generals that surround him. The choice to announce to his base, via Twitter, a victory against ISIS and the immediate withdrawal of US troops was a smart election move with an eye on the 2020 election.

It is possible that Trump, as is his wont, also wanted to send a message to his alleged French and British allies present in the northeast of Syria alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and US soldiers. Trump may be now taunting: "Let's see what you can do without the US!"

It is as if Trump is admonishing these countries in a more concrete way for not lifting their weight in terms of military spending. Trump is vindictive and is not averse, after taking advantage of his opponent, to kicking him once he is down. Trump could be correct in this regard, and maybe French and British forces will be forced to withdraw their small group of 400 to 500 illegal occupiers of Syrian territory. Macron has for now reacted angrily at Trump's decision, intensifying the division between the two, and is adamant that the French military presence in Syria will continue.

There is also a more refined reason to justify the US withdrawal, even if Trump is probably unaware of it. The problem in these cases is always trying to peer through the fog of war and propaganda in order to discern the clear, unadulterated truth.

We should begin by listing the winners and losers of the Syrian conflict. Damascus, Moscow, Tehran and Hezbollah have won the war against aggression. Riyadh, Doha, Paris, London, Tel Aviv and Washington, with their al Qaeda, Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist proxies, failed to destroy Syria, and following seven years of effort, are forced to scurry away in defeat.

Those who are walking a tightrope between war and defeat are Ankara and the so-called SDF. The withdrawal of the United States has confirmed the balance on the ledger of winners and losers, with the clock counting down for Erdogan and the SDF to make their next determinative move.

The enemies of Syria survive thanks to repeated bluffs. The Americans of the military-industrial-intelligence apparatus maintain the pretence that they still have an influence in Syria, what with troops on the ground, attacking Trump for withdrawing. In fact, since the Russians have imposed a no-fly-zone across the country, with the S-300 systems and other sophisticated equipment that integrate the Syrian air-defenses into the Russian air defenses, US coalition planes are for all intents and purposes grounded, and the same goes for the Israelis.

Of course the French and British in Syria are infected with the same delusional disease, choosing to believe that they can count for something without the US presence. We will see in the near future whether they also withdraw their illegal presence from Syria.

The biggest bluff of all probably comes from Erdogan, who for months threatened to invade Syria to fight ISIS, the Kurds, or any other plausible excuse to invade a sovereign country for the purposes of advancing his dreams of expanding Turkish territory as far as Idlib (which Erdogan considers a province of Turkey). Such an invasion, however, is unlikely to happen, as it would unite the SDF, Damascus and her allies to reject the Turkish advance on Syrian territory.

The Kurds in turn seem to have only one option left, namely, a forced negotiation with Damascus to give back to the Syrian people, in exchange for protection, the control of their territory that is rich in oil and gas.

Erdogan wants to eliminate the SDF, and until now, the only thing that stood in his way was the US military presence. He even threatened to attack several times, even in spite of the presence of US troops. Ankara has long been on a collision course with NATO countries on account of this. By removing US troops, Trump imagines, relations between Turkey and the US may also improve. This of course is of little interest to the US deep state, since Erdogan, like Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), is considered unsuitable, and is accordingly branded a "dictator".

Trump probably believes that with this move, as with his defense of MBS concerning Khashoggi, that he can try and establish a strong personal friendship with Erdogan. There are even talks about the sale of Patriot systems to the Turks and the extradition of Gulen.

When Will They Leave, and Cui Prodest?

It remains to be confirmed when and to what extent US troops will leave Syria. If the US had no voice in the future in Syria, with 2,000 men on the ground, now it has even less. Leaving behind 200 to 300 special forces and CIA operatives, together with another 400 to 500 French and British personnel, will, once they are captured with their Daesh and al Qaeda friends, be an excellent bargaining chip for Damascus, as they were in Aleppo.

The military-industrial-intelligence-media complex considers Trump's decision the worst of of all possible moves. Mattis even resigned on account of this. The presence of US troops in Syria allowed the foreign-policy establishment to continue to formulate plans (and spend money to pay a lot of people in Washington) based on the delusion that they are doing something in Syria to change the course of events. For Israel, it is a double disaster, with Netanyahu desperate to survive, seeking to factor in expected elections in a now-or-never political move. Trump probably understands that Bibi is done for, and that at this point, the withdrawal of troops, fulfilling a fundamental electoral promise, counts more than Israeli money and his friendship to Bibi.

Erdogan has two options before him. On the one hand, he can act against the Kurds. On the other hand, he can sit down at the negotiating table with Damascus and the SDF, in an Astana format, guided by Iran and Russia. Putin and Rouhani are certainly pushing for this solution. Trump, on the other hand, would like to see Turkey enter Syria in the place of US forces, to demonstrate he concluded a win-win deal for everyone, beating the deep-state at their own game.

Erdogan does not really have the military force necessary to enter Syria, which is the big secret. He would be against both the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the SDF, though the two not necessarily in an alliance.

There is a triple bluff going on, and this is what is complicating the situation so much. On the one hand, the SDF is bluffing in not wanting help from Damascus in case Erdogan sends in his forces; on the other hand, Erdogan is bluffing in suggesting he is able to conquer the territory held by the SDF; and finally, the French and British are bluffing by telling the SDF they will be able to help them against both Erdogan and/or Assad.

Iran, Russia, Syria are the only ones who do not need to bluff, because they occupy the best position – the commanding heights. They view Trump's decisions and his allies with distrust. They know very well that these are mostly moves for internal consumption by the enemies of Syria.

If the US withdraws, there is so much to be gained. The priority then becomes the west of Syria, sealing the borders with Jordan, removing the pockets of terrorists from the east, and securing the al-Tanf crossing. If the SDF will request protection from Damascus and will be willing to participate in the liberation of the country and its reconstruction, Erdogan will be done for, and this could lead to the total liberation of Idlib. It would be the best possible outcome, an important national reconciliation between two important parts of the population. It would give Damascus new economic impetus and prepare the Syrian people to expel the remaining invaders (ISIS and the FSA/ Turkish Armed Forces) from the country, both in Idlib and in the northeast in Afrin.

Russia is aware of the risk that Erdogan is running with the choices he will take in the coming days. Perhaps the reason why Putin chose diplomacy over war with Turkey after the downing of a Russian Su-24 in 2015 was in order to arrive at this precise moment, with as many elements as possible present to convince Erdogan to stick with Russia and Iran instead of embracing Trump's strategy and putting himself on an open collision course with Damascus, Moscow and Tehran.

Putin has always been five moves ahead. He is aware that the US could not stay long in Syria. He knows that France and the UK cannot support the SDF, and that the SDF cannot hold territory it holds in Syria without an agreement with Damascus. He is also conscious that Turkey does not have the strength to enter Syria and hold the territory if it did. It would only be able justify an advance on Idlib with the support of the Russian Air Force.

Putin has certainly made it clear to Erdogan that if he made such a move to attack the SDF and enter Syria, Russia in turn would militarily support the SAA with its air force to free Idlib; and in case of incidents with Turkey, the Russian armed forces would respond with all the interest earned from the unrequited downing of the Su-24 in 2015.

Erdogan has no choice. He must find an agreement with Damascus, and this is why he found himself commenting on Trump's words the following day, criticizing US sanctions on Iran in the presence of Iranian president Rouhani. The SDF know that they are between a rock and a hard place, and have already sent a delegation to start negotiations with Damascus.

Trump's move was driven by US domestic politics and aimed at the 2020 elections. But in doing so, Trump inevitably called out once and for all the bluffs built by Syria's enemies, infuriating in the process the neoliberal imperialist establishment, revealing how each of these factions has no more cards to play and is in actual fact destined for defeat.

[Dec 27, 2018] Russia, according to TASS (note the snowflakes in their logo), is not clear on US intentions in Syria and is relying on media reports

Dec 27, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

the pessimist , Dec 26, 2018 2:02:30 PM | link

Russia, according to TASS (note the snowflakes in their logo), is not clear on US intentions in Syria and is relying on media reports. Is Trump clear? Is there a strategy? Or just an idea? There seems to have been no coordination between the US, France, Britain, and Israel, and no contacts between the US and Syria or Russia (or Iran). Trump and Erdogan had a phone call and Trump has been invited to visit Turkey. Turkey and Syria are repositioning forces. A fog has descended.

[Dec 27, 2018] Trump's move was driven by US domestic politics and aimed at the 2020 elections. But in doing so, Trump inevitably called out once and for all the bluffs of Obama adminsitration infuriating neocons

Notable quotes:
"... "Trump's move was driven by US domestic politics and aimed at the 2020 elections. But in doing so, Trump inevitably called out once and for all the bluffs built by Syria's enemies, infuriating in the process the neoliberal imperialist establishment, revealing how each of these factions has no more cards to play and is in actual fact destined for defeat." ..."
"... If Trump survives his domestic battles, I suspect that neocon policy has been dealt a glancing blow that it will never quite recover from. Not that it's down by any means, but diminished a little, put in its place a little. Or so we can hope. Much remains to happen yet, and we shall see. ..."
Dec 27, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Dec 26, 2018 6:43:02 PM | link

Well, I see my complaint comment got posted but the previous 4 remain in limboland! What a crying shame! Anyway, here I go again trying to post a link to what I believe a very perceptive article by Federico Pieraccini :

"Trump's move was driven by US domestic politics and aimed at the 2020 elections. But in doing so, Trump inevitably called out once and for all the bluffs built by Syria's enemies, infuriating in the process the neoliberal imperialist establishment, revealing how each of these factions has no more cards to play and is in actual fact destined for defeat."

Now we'll see if this gets shared with the internet community or is swallowed by the information cloud.


Grieved , Dec 27, 2018 12:14:31 AM | link

@76 karlof1

Agreed, the Pieraccini article is one of his best. He's a deep thinker, with a longer horizon and memory than many other commentators, and I think he's pulled many, many of the threads together in this analysis.

We've seen some commentary and sentiment to the effect that Trump is moving finally along his stated plan to get out of the ME, but Pieraccini calls it as being only for the election. I agree with this. Trump wants to win and he needs to start now to do it, because it takes two years to win, and this is also crucial to build a defense from the Democrats along the way.

However, just because Trump is perhaps "only" looking at election doesn't mean that nothing is revealed about policy in the Middle East. What he has shown is that even a weak President can still affect foreign policy, and also that the neocon dream means nothing compared with domestic political realities - if the two come into sharp relief, as they now do, then the illegitimate and parasitic neocon force must yield.

If Trump survives his domestic battles, I suspect that neocon policy has been dealt a glancing blow that it will never quite recover from. Not that it's down by any means, but diminished a little, put in its place a little. Or so we can hope. Much remains to happen yet, and we shall see.

~~

The US is what Jeff Brown calls the colonial spawn of the western tip (Europe) of Eurasia, all of which together have been consumed in racist and genocidal, imperial plunder of the whole world for 500 years. This kind of mindset is not going to vaporize overnight. The actions of one president are an insect bite in comparison. A dozen presidents maybe, one after another, with all the other influences of the world included over that time. And there's still the old money families at the root of it.

I begin to believe we must be looking at decades, perhaps almost a century, for this global anomaly to die away completely. But this is the Asian Century. Heaven itself, perhaps, sends its force against the old empires.

Circe , Dec 27, 2018 4:04:27 AM | link
The U.S. has used hard and soft power with an iron fist to acquire its Empire status. For now, Trump is using soft power i.e. financial tyranny more aggressively than any preceding President, Iran being his number one target, followed by China.

Iran can't do much to fight this tyranny alone without China and Russia's help, but what Trump is doing to China based on hyper-insecurity and imperial hubris will have serious blowback.

The author of this article that appeared in Vanity Fair in 2014, but is more relevant than ever China's Rise already viewed China as the world's No. 1 economic power at that time and Trump should be heeding his warning, but instead he's going the Neocon route: the Empire cannnot share power, have any challenge to its authority or even a counter balance either militarily or economically. This is not only an imperial mindset it's a Neocon standard.

If Trump uses economic tyranny with more force than his predecessors, you think he's going to hold back on the Yinon objective to neutralize Iran? This is why I laugh at those who think that Trump is not establishment. He's the Chosen of the 1%.

[Dec 27, 2018] Israeli attack has of a lot in common with the IL-20 atrocity - namely that the Israelis may have been deliberately hiding behind two civilian passenger jets to launch their attack

Was it the last "hello" to Putin form Netanyahu?
Notable quotes:
"... The Israelis lost big time from their IL-20 misadventure, but those losses will seem like childs play compared to their geostrategic losses from a repeat performance - that is if my interpretation is correct. ..."
Dec 27, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
BM , Dec 26, 2018 11:26:03 AM | link
It appears to be too early to say much about the latest Israeli attack, until more details are released, but my inkling is of a lot in common with the IL-20 atrocity - namely that the Israelis may have been deliberately hiding behind two civilian passenger jets to launch their attack. If that is the case the Israelis can expect to be a gigantic loser.

From what I can gather it appears that 14 of the 16 the guided bombs were shot down using Pantsir S1 and/or S200. If that is the case then it is not true to say that the S300 was not used, because the S300 is an integrated system which automatically chooses the most appropriate means of response including S200/S125 etc and also including (as I understand) the Pantsir. In the case of the S200 at least, the missiles will be guided to their targets by the S300 radars and S300 control system.

The big question is the role of the two passenger jets and why their presence impeded action against the Israeli F16's. That is where the parallels with the IL-20 come in. The Russians are going to analyse this carefully and precisely before publishing conclöusions - after that we can expect harsh action - certainly geostrategic and maybe also kinetic.

The Israelis lost big time from their IL-20 misadventure, but those losses will seem like childs play compared to their geostrategic losses from a repeat performance - that is if my interpretation is correct.

By the way, I wouldn't take either Korybko or Cartalucci too seriously, both seem to me to be pro-empire misinformation artists - or at the very least highly untrustworthy sources.


BM , Dec 26, 2018 11:39:27 AM | link

Attacking Israeli aircraft over Lebanon? A no-go at the current state of affairs, as it would most likely trigger an escalation neither Russia, Syria, Hezbollah and Iran want, at least for the time being.
Posted by: Hmpf | Dec 26, 2018 11:08:26 AM | 26

This is precisely where the consequences of the Israeli timing my come in. If they deliberately timed their offence with the landing of passenger jets in Beirut and Damascus, thereby putting those jets at risk, Russia may be able to persuade Lebanon to allow them to impose a total no-fly zone over Lebanon for all Israeli military aircraft and projectiles. Check mate.

BM , Dec 26, 2018 11:50:29 AM | link
I've just seen this which also suggests the Israelis were hiding behind the passenger jets

Russian MoD: Israeli Air Force Used Landing Of Two Civilian Planes As Cover For Airstrikes

Syria had to delay actions against the F16s to safeguard the passenger jets.

Expect heavy Russian/Syrian retribution against Israel (especially geostrategic).

Bart Hansen , Dec 26, 2018 12:11:14 PM | link
As for relations between Russia and Israel, don't for get that Russian Jews represent over 10% of the Israeli population. Roughly one million out of nine million. Putin obviously is aware of this and may represent leverage for Israel. To use a favorite word of the pundits, this "emboldens" the blue haired PM
karlof1 , Dec 26, 2018 12:18:47 PM | link
All--Korybko, again, wrote hastily about something he fails to completely understand, thereby making a fool of himself. Syrian air defenses are quite adequate without needing to employ their S-300s. It's not clear if the changes to Syria's rules of engagement include targeting AND shooting down Zionist jets over Lebanon outside of Syrian airspace, which would employ S-300s. The following is Canthama's report from SyrPers posted @ 5 hours ago:

"Some latest news from Syria:

"1) Last night attack from the apartheid regime was very intense, used several vectors such as cruise missiles, ground to ground missiles etc in total it was reported 64 IDF missiles, this nbr can change as per SANA. only 7 went through the SyAAD defenses, which is an incredible rate of hits.

"There were several targets, all on the IDF hit list targets released few weeks ago, but only 1 target was hit SW of Damascus, causing material damages on a weapon depot, believed to be one of the hundreds carrying ammo recollected from the very terrorists the apartheid regime sent weapons to. SANA reported 3 SAA soldiers were injured during the explosion.

"It is believed the SAA fired retaliatory ground to ground missiles into occupied Golan which caused the interruption of IDF attack. SANA is yet to comment on that, but there are videos with Patriot attempts to intercept SAA missiles on the occupied Golan.

"2) There was not so ever any other casualty on this event, the web and news last night was full of fake news and intentionally planted news.

"3) Yesterday was a tough day in the apartheid regime, Natanyahu dismantle the cabinet for a new election and it seems the Likud party managed to hold him in power. Keep in mind the corruption case against Natanyahu is strong and moving to the last phase, he is desperate. On top of that the apartheid regime is completely against the US withdrawn from Syria, placing Natanyahu at odds with Trump, thus the attack in Syria as a sign of defiance and provocation to cause strong Syria/Russia's reaction, which it did not happen.

"4) SAA troops are in the very outskirt of Manbij, the deal is done between the MMC and the Syrian Government, there are a mix of some key SAA armies involved, bringing to all the Manbij pocket heavy tanks, missiles and thousands of soldiers. SyAAD has brought to Kuweyres and Aleppo airbases AA to protect the skies in all northern Syria thus controlling the events for the next months.

"Important to watch what is done in Qamishli and Hasaka airbases regarding AA defenses, if it is beefed up in the next few days, it will mean some inroads were agreed.

"5) Early today, the SAA has moved NW of Aleppo and liberated the town of Malikiyah, just northwest of Menagh airbase, this position was occupied by turkish backed terrorists. There are reports local SDF forces worked with the SAA on this ops. Not clear why this is happening, but it could be to divert the turkish backed terrorists that moved in force to the area near Manbij. There is no huge strategic gain with it but to control a small road that bypass the M5, but it could indicate advances toward Afrin and Azaz, but this is too early and more info is needed."

What the Zionists did was to commit an obvious Terrorist Attack on a peaceful capital city trying its best to celebrate Christmas that will further sully what remains of its reputation, as if it could get any lower than it is now. Nutty's clearly terrorizing for domestic reasons as there are Yellow Vest demonstrations and other political unrest occurring in Zionistan daily. Hopefully, he will be the last in a long line of Zionists Devils deserving a trial prior to dismemberment at The Hague.

It appears the lengthy, complicated back-room discussions between Damascus and Kurds has reaped results that are now becoming visible. The holiday's over, so now it's time to destroy the vermin. Iraq's PM is supposed to visit Assad for talks to coordinate several key actions: approach to Kurds and Turks; action East of Euphrates; and Iraqi government plans to deal with its Outlaw US Empire occupiers that are infiltrating from Syria. I've peered into corners to see if Iran or Syria have made any comment about Trump's withdrawal, but still nothing, which I entirely understand.

ADKC , Dec 26, 2018 12:28:22 PM | link
In any conventional conflict between Russia and the west, no matter how good the new Russian weapons are, Russia will quickly run out of munitions. The West can overwhelm with greater numbers of (poorer quality) weapons. This leads Russia into the position of surrendering or having to escalate (to nuclear). So it is a dead-end to directly get into a conflict with Israel as this too easily leads to the west mustering in support of Israel and a direct confrontation between Russia and the West. Tactically, the way to deal with Israel is to neutralise it's capabilities without resorting to direct confrontation and ultimatums (unsatisfying as that may be).
karlof1 , Dec 26, 2018 12:36:49 PM | link
This is supposed to complement the Syrian report I just posted but has yet to appear. This provides the reason why the Zionist attack on Damascus is an act of International Terrorism:

"The Israeli military put two civilian airliners in immediate danger, Igor Konashenkov, the Defense Ministry spokesman, told reporters. 'Provocative acts by the Israeli Air Force endangered two passenger jets when six of their F-16s carried out airstrikes on Syria from Lebanese airspace.'"

Such behavior cannot be condoned for any reasons whatsoever, and ought to produce an article 7 UNSC Resolution. Unfortunately, one Outlaw Nation protects the other Outlaw Nation, so such a proper international response will not be forthcoming. The Moroccan Terrorists are nothing compared to the Zionist and Outlaw US Empire's terrorists, and they all ought to share a similar fate.

abierno , Dec 26, 2018 12:58:09 PM | link
Was there another purpose behind the Israeli fighter jets hiding behind civilian aircraft? What would be the international reaction or more specifically the US reaction, to Syrian missiles downing a civilian commercial aircraft packed with civilian holiday passengers on Christmas Day? Would the Israeli role be masked in well-honed outrage at "Assad the butcher" again - without conscience - murdering defenseless civilians, necessitating immediate retaliation on the part of virtue signaling Western forces? Would it validate the cacophony from the Beltway regarding US withdrawal from Syria, vindicating Mattis' resignation concerns?
William Bowles , Dec 26, 2018 1:44:23 PM | link
james | Dec 26, 2018 1:27:36 PM | 43

See: https://21stcenturywire.com/2018/12/26/revealed-israels-idf-used-passenger-airliners-as-cover-during-christmas-day-attack-on-damascus/

karlof1 , Dec 26, 2018 1:47:15 PM | link
First report of Syrian retaliation I've seen today. No, it wasn't part of my detailed--6 paragraphs of Canthama's reporting--detained for who knows what as there were no links within it as Korybko's essay was previously linked. Many things ongoing today as the holiday's over, particularly movement around Manbij.

Elsewhere, Poroshenko ends martial law making him look weaker than ever. Arab League going against advice of Outlaw US Empire to reinstate Syria. Ground broken in Korea by North and South for construction of rail line linking them despite Outlaw Empire efforts to forestall. Japan says to world: Fuck-off, we're going to kill whales regardless.

james , Dec 26, 2018 3:18:00 PM | link
pat lang talking about what BM has already addressed here on the open thread... not clever.. extremely stupid and unfortunate as the same game can be playing on airplanes arriving in tel aviv at some point...
https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2018/12/how-clever.html
ADKC , Dec 26, 2018 7:58:27 PM | link
The purpose of a provocation is to lead the provoked into a rash act. There are many posters on various sites who are guaranteed to condemn Putin for not taking (rash) action in response to the latest provocation. I profoundly distrust such posters because they appear to almost be acting in concert with the provocateur.

Today, Poroshenko announced the end of martial law. Poroshenko's plans to provoke conflict with Russia and suspend elections appear to be effectively over. We can look forward to new elections, a new President and an improved relationship with Ukraine. Where would we be now if Putin had responded to Poroshenko's provocations as some would wish?

Jackrabbit , Dec 26, 2018 9:01:28 PM | link
What would've been Trump's reaction if Syria had mistakenly downed a civilian airliner on Christmas Day as the Israel's might've been hoping for?

Another round of missile attacks on Syria? Direct attack on Assad? Re-commit to the occupation of Eastern Syria?

Whatever it might've been, we can be be sure that Americans and Europeans would've been overwhelmingly supportive: those that were critical of Trump's pulling out of Syria and those that were cheering his pulling out of Syria. United. Against. Assad.

And ready to face any counteraction by Assad or Putin. Together.

Still think Mattis' resignation was not a PR stunt?

[Dec 27, 2018] Unwarranted Hysteria Over Syria and Afghanistan by Publius Tacitus

Dec 27, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

TTG , 2 days ago

I'm in full agreement with the author's sentiment. We should pull out of Syria and begin the drawdown in Afghanistan. Our reason for being in Syria is in support of Israeli and Saudi policies, not ours or the Syrian's. The hysteria over this dramatic and IMO welcome change in policy is a pure neocon hysteria. They are not primarily concerned about the remaining IS forces. They are hysterical about the withdrawal of US support for Israeli and Saudi objectives in the region.

I do want to clear up a few details. Our material support to the jihadis we called moderate rebels was a clear anti-Assad move. It was and is illegal and uninvited. Our initial support to the Rojava Kurds was also illegal and uninvited by the Syrian government. However, it was a pure anti-IS move. The SF teams, the air support and material support provided to the Kurds was in our interests. Where this went wrong was when that support morphed into maintaining a US-sponsored statelet in eastern Syria to thwart both Damascus and Tehran.

The air support we employ in Syria is primarily manned fighter-bombers and rotary wing aircraft, not drones. We also have artillery on the ground in Syria along with infantry (500 or so Marines) to protect that artillery and forward air bases for helicopters and supply aircraft along with the support personnel at those bases. There are also a 100 or so Rangers around Manbij. The SF teams advising and assisting the SDF/YPG direct that air and artillery support. All those duties will be taken over by SAA, Russian and Hezbollah and Iranian forces. The SAA and SDF/YPG are already coordinating for the employment of SAA units along the Turkish border.

John Waddell -> TTG , 2 days ago
The Marines and their artillery were pulled out many months ago after they had finished reducing much of Raqqa to rubble, something the local Arabs who are the majority in the Euphrates valley will never forgive the US for. Those guns were, as far as I have been able to find, the only over 100mm barrel guns taken by the US into Syria as Turkey would have had a fit otherwise.

US and UK drones are still in use against ISIS elements in Deir.

Harlan Easley , 2 days ago
Our allies were the Jihadist and we armed them to overthrow the Syrian Government and destroy its secular government. Just go to Youtube and watch all the videos of Salafist firing our TOW missiles and taking out the tanks of the SAA. ISIS was a bridge too far and world condemnation forced our hand. It appears to me our foreign policy objective was to encourage sectarianism in order to overthrow a government that is hostile to Israel. Our foreign policy establishment didn't give a damn about the Christians being slaughtered. As long as Jerusalem was happy was all that mattered. In bed with the devil.
william mcdonald , a day ago
Trump is finally starting to get it. Most of Washington hates his guts and won't do a thing to help out, no matter the mission. Might as well go it alone and push his constitutional authority to the limits and then some, trusting the deplorables to have his back.
ancient archer -> william mcdonald , a day ago
The grunts in the armed forces largely come from 'the deplorables'. I am sure they would prefer to stay home than fight thousands of miles from home in a strange country for absolutely no strategic gain to the US. How many of the liberals, the so called resistance, actually serve in the armed forces? And they are the ones shouting the loudest to continue the ending war. War frequently seems exciting to those who don't do the fighting!

[Dec 27, 2018] I'm sure the Trumpster is telling us peasants what we want to hear, just as he did while campaigning, and who knows if the US military will really get out of Syria on his order

Dec 27, 2018 | www.unz.com

jacques sheete , says: December 27, 2018 at 1:00 am GMT

@anonymoys

But let me tell you the future: there will be no withdraw from Syria UNLESS the king of Israel agrees.

No doubt about it. I'm sure the Trumpster is telling us peasants what we want to hear, just as he did while campaigning, and who knows if the US military will really get out of Syria on his order. I myself think he's bullshitting, but I hope I'm wrong.

AnonFromTN , says: December 27, 2018 at 1:28 am GMT
@ChuckOrloski Pretty much. Sounds like "the only democracy in the Middle East".

But if we cry for every victim of Israeli scheming, we can't drink enough to replenish the store of tears. Maybe we should do something about it, rather than crying or laughing? Or commenting here lulled by false anonymity? NSA is listening, anyway.

[Dec 27, 2018] Trump disengagement from Syria may be (and probably is) nothing more that a tactical retreat/change in plans for which the Mattis resignation is merely a fig leaf; that is, it's just more of the same disingenuous dialectics that we've been bombarded with since the beginning of the "Trump" administration

Notable quotes:
"... If in addition to withdrawing from Syria orange clown were to stop arming the "government" of "Ukraine" and agree to negotiations with Russia on the issue of intermediate range nuclear armed missiles in Europe -- with a goal to support/strengthen the INF treaty rather than withdraw from it -- I might be willing to entertain the idea that something's changed. ..."
"... Call me cynical but I think you cannot take ANYTHING our masters say or do, e.g. this, at face value. ..."
"... just watch their behaviour -- the wall never gets built even though they are now talking about increasing the "defense" budget from $700 billion to $750 billion next year -- the increase alone is the cost of two walls ..."
Dec 27, 2018 | www.unz.com

Harold Smith , says: December 25, 2018 at 6:44 pm GMT

"President Donald Trump's order to withdraw from Syria has been greeted, predictably, with an avalanche of condemnation culminating in last Thursday's resignation by Defense Secretary James Mattis. The Mattis resignation letter focused on the betrayal of allies "

Call me cynical but I think you cannot take ANYTHING our masters say or do, e.g. this, at face value.

Orange clown's alleged disengagement from Syria may be (and probably is) nothing more that a tactical retreat/change in plans for which the Mattis resignation is merely a fig leaf; that is, it's just more of the same disingenuous dialectics that we've been bombarded with since the beginning of the "Trump" administration.

Apparently we're urged to conclude that Trump has finally had enough of the people he knowingly and willingly surrounded himself with, and their agenda, and now all of a sudden (because of some kind of a spiritual epiphany, pro-American New Year's resolution, etc.) he wants to do right by (some of) his supporters by doing what he should've done a long time ago. (And the hint of a military drawdown in Afghanistan adds a nice touch).

Sorry but I can't buy what they're selling.

If in addition to withdrawing from Syria orange clown were to stop arming the "government" of "Ukraine" and agree to negotiations with Russia on the issue of intermediate range nuclear armed missiles in Europe -- with a goal to support/strengthen the INF treaty rather than withdraw from it -- I might be willing to entertain the idea that something's changed.

As it is now it'll take a lot more than the obligatory "avalanche of condemnation" i.e., cheap words, to convince me that the perfidious orange clown and his jewish-supremacist handlers are doing anything other than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic with one hand while steering it into the iceberg with the other hand.

anon [231] Disclaimer , says: December 25, 2018 at 6:59 pm GMT
@Harold Smith

Call me cynical but I think you cannot take ANYTHING our masters say or do, e.g. this, at face value.

agree

just watch their behaviour -- the wall never gets built even though they are now talking about increasing the "defense" budget from $700 billion to $750 billion next year -- the increase alone is the cost of two walls

annamaria , says: December 25, 2018 at 7:01 pm GMT
@Puzzled "I have never been able to discern a strategy, other than to keep the region in turmoil"
-- Agree.

Here is a tepid and academically deeply dishonest oeuvre by Richard Haass, who simply cannot help himself but to keep his day job of presstituting: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2018-12-11/how-world-order-ends

Sampling:

Although Russia has avoided any direct military challenge to NATO, it has nonetheless shown a growing willingness to disrupt the status quo: through its use of force in Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine since 2014, its often indiscriminate military intervention in Syria, and its aggressive use of cyberwarfare to attempt to affect political outcomes in the United States and Europe.

Haass is a Cheney's choice of opportunist and Goebbelsian kind of criminal:

Haass was born to a Jewish family in Brooklyn From 1989 to 1993, he was Special Assistant to United States President George H. W. Bush and National Security Council Senior Director for Near East and South Asian Affairs. In 1991, Haass received the Presidential Citizens Medal for helping to develop and explain U.S. policy during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Haass argued that the leaders of the United States should adopt "an imperial foreign policy" to construct and manage an informal American empire (Haass 2000)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_N._Haass

[Dec 27, 2018] Syrian government forces 'enter' Kurdish-controlled Manbij region

Syria is really complex and may be untratable problem which Obama intervention only laid bare. So many tribes, so little land.
Dec 27, 2018 | www.unz.com

RobinG , says: December 25, 2018 at 9:21 pm GMT

.local sources told Al Jazeera and Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency --

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday that Ankara and Washington agreed to complete withdrawal of the YPG forces from Manbij before the US pulls out of Syria.

He added the US agreed to take back weapons given to the YPG.

Syrian government forces 'enter' Kurdish-controlled Manbij region. Trucks carrying regime forces and equipment, and armoured vehicles have arrived in the region, sources say.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/syrian-government-forces-enter-kurdish-controlled-manbij-region-181225153526422.html

[Dec 27, 2018] Netanyahu: Israel will escalate its fight against Iranian-aligned forces in Syria after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country

Violation of international law is "business as usual" for Netanyahu
Dec 27, 2018 | www.unz.com

renfro , says: December 25, 2018 at 6:06 am GMT

Withdrawing from Syria is the right thing to do, though one has to be concerned that there might be some secret side deals with Israel or Turkey that could actually result in more attacks on Syria and on the Kurds.

Netanyahu says he will escalate attacks against Iran in Syria. Lets see if Russia takes exception to that.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-israel/israel-to-escalate-fight-against-iran-in-syria-after-u-s-exit-netanyahu-idUSKCN1OJ1BS

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel will escalate its fight against Iranian-aligned forces in Syria after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday.

Some Israeli officials have said U.S. President Donald Trump's move, announced on Wednesday, could help Iran by removing a U.S. garrison that stems the movement of Iranian forces and weaponry into Syria from Iraq.

Israel also worries that its main ally's exit could reduce its diplomatic leverage with Russia, the Syrian government's big-power backer.

"We will continue to act very aggressively against Iran's efforts to entrench in Syria," Netanyahu said in televised remarks, referring to an Israeli air campaign in Syria against Iranian deployments and arms transfers to Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas, carried out with Moscow often turning a blind eye.

"We do not intend to reduce our efforts. We will intensify them, and I know that we do so with the full support and backing of the United States."

anon [243] Disclaimer , says: December 25, 2018 at 8:24 am GMT
4,000,000 Muslims have been killed as a consequence of the wars since 2001, millions more displaced. More than 8,000 U.S. military have died in wars whose purpose was to take the oil from the Arab s, a purpose which started in 1897 with at the Zionist Congress in Switzerland. -- $6 trillion you say and counting, much of it borrowed. War without end means killing without end and it has to stop.

Your article names the supporters of the war bandits and invading countries who rob the govern of there of their money, so the money can be used to destroy the lives and to reduce the quality of life in the target place to tribal at best (Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan). You mentioned war gang supporters Reuters, NYT, WoPo, mainstream television news providers , Pentagon, the Middle East Institute, and Israel.. but you left out so many others.

The important people to be considered in this are the Syrians humans governed by the Assad Syrian Government. & years of catching USA, British, French, Turkish, and Israeli bombs and donating, to Saudia Arabia raised Wahhabi's, Syrian heads and Syrian body parts, and being forced into homeless status as refugees of one more invader war, the Syrian people have evolved into strong nation organized to defend against the most powerful militarises in the world, they have voted 87% to keep Dr. Assad in three different elections as their leader. But something else happened: Syria became stronger, Syria became an international player, because both Russia and Iran joined to help Syria defend its sovereignty and to defend the lives of the Syrian people. I cannot think of one single American who wants anything the Syrian people have?

Why the war? So a few oil companies can steal the oil in Syria and run oil pipelines through Syria in order to defeat Russia's oil sales to Europe. Its not about Israel security (no threatens to invade Israel), its about Zionist greed and the urge to be entertained by murdering people in their homes.

Ronald Thomas West , says: Website December 25, 2018 at 8:48 am GMT
So, Trump bends over his second least favorite babysitter/general, Mattis, and orders a complete withdrawal from Syria opening the door to NATO's Turkey to go after the Kurd units there, which is an interesting development.

Putin wanted the USA out but he also has warned Erdogan against funneling Idlib's Salafi militants to Syria's Kurdish region, something Erdogan has been keen to do. Actually I expect the erratic Erdogan will go for it anyway, and small wonder at that, considering Erdogan's intelligence chief, Hakan Fidan, whose personal history is one of a bona fide member of al Qaida. Is Putin ready for Erdogan to back-stab Russia again? (recalling Erdogan's military had shot down a Russian jet.) This has to be the biggest geopolitical soap opera of the moment:

"The third disagreement is related to the fate of extremists as Turkish officials want to transfer them to Kurdish-controlled areas while Russian officials insist on "terminating them""

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1410516/russian-turkish-dispute-over-idlib-agreement-explanation-sources https://ronaldthomaswest.com/2018/10/03/natos-takfiri-laundromat/

So, then Trump's detractors (includes Mattis) will point the finger at Trump (not Turkey) when Syria's east is reinfected with Salafi militants but secretly pleased Erdogan has reopened the terrorism pipeline into Syria if only because it will cause Assad and Russia problems, as well, there is the perpetual profits motive (noted by Phil.) And, so it goes

Durruti , says: December 25, 2018 at 4:36 pm GMT
@Ronald Thomas West Good thinking:

opening the door to NATO's Turkey to go after the Kurd units there

Must look to the North:

On Turkey's Northwest front, tensions are high between the Greek Military & some foreign controllers of Greece, and the Turkish Military, and their leaders. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/27/tensions-flare-greece-turkey-answer-provocation-erdogan

... ... ...

[Dec 27, 2018] The destruction and destabilisation of the ME, an Israeli plan, as far as I know.

Notable quotes:
"... Maybe I am overestimating the intelligence of MIC profiteers, but my impression is that those thieves know that their loot is only useful as long as they are alive. There is a lot of silly hostile talk against Russia and China, but have you noticed how the US military always makes sure that there are no direct confrontations with countries that can turn the US into radioactive dust? The profiteers want huge Pentagon budget to steal from, but not the war where they lose along with everyone else. ..."
Dec 27, 2018 | www.unz.com

jilles dykstra , says: December 25, 2018 at 5:31 pm GMT

@Z-man Israel fears Iran, is my idea. Norman Finkelstein once stated that Israeli jews do not see how there ever can be peace with the Palestinians 'after all we did to them'. Not all jews are idiots. Forgot in which book I read that in the thirties a Zionist reached Palestine, and saw that this was not the 'land without people for people without land'. He stated 'this is a crime'.

The destruction and destabilisation of the ME, an Israeli plan, as far as I know.

In 1921 and later years there was the enormous population exchange, without any financial compensation, between Turkey and Greece. To this day tensions exist between the two countries.

Iran is one of the oldest civilisations. Twice, one might say even three time, the west overthrew Iranian democracy. Iran knows of course quite well that the VS brought Saddam to power so that he could subjugate Iran, that had rid itself of the USA puppet shah. Iran also of course knows quite well Jewish power in the USA, Bush' s promise to AIPAC to destroy Iraq. Will those leading Iran now ever trust the USA or Israel ?

So that Netanyahu and USA jewry now are in complete panic, who had expected it to be otherwise ? Uri Avnery wrote 'the only language zionists understand is power. Is there a problem, use power, if it does not help, use more power, if that also fails, use even more power'.

There has never been any serious negotiation between Israel and its neighbors, or with the Palestinians. About the Oslo negotiations a book appeared in Israel with the title 'How we fooled the Palestinians'? Sharon answered any Arab League peace proposal with force, Jenin, one of them, if my recollection is correct. There always was the idea of overwhelming more military power, and of USA support.

Kissinger saved Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur war by flying over hundreds of the newest USA anti tank weapons, wire guided, TOW. What will the USA do in case Israel is attacked ? Is Netanyahu crazy enough to provoke an attack ?

AnonFromTN , says: December 26, 2018 at 10:37 pm GMT
@Harold Smith

Maybe I am overestimating the intelligence of MIC profiteers, but my impression is that those thieves know that their loot is only useful as long as they are alive. There is a lot of silly hostile talk against Russia and China, but have you noticed how the US military always makes sure that there are no direct confrontations with countries that can turn the US into radioactive dust? The profiteers want huge Pentagon budget to steal from, but not the war where they lose along with everyone else.

As to the wall, it is one of the silliest projects ever suggested. Maybe that's why it was so easy to sell it to the intellectually disadvantaged electorate. There are two things that can stop illegal immigration. First, go for the employers, enact a law that fines them to the tune of $50,000 or more per every illegal they employ. Second, enact the law that anyone caught residing in the US illegally has no right to enter the US legally, to obtain asylum, permanent residency, or citizenship for life, and include a provision that marriage to a US citizen does not nullify this ban. Then enforce both laws. After that illegals would run out of the country, and greedy employers won't hire any more. Naturally, the wall, even if built, won't change anything: as long as there are employers trying to save on salaries, immigration fees, and Social Security tax, and people willing to live and work illegally risking nothing, no wall would stem the flow.

Unfortunately, no side is even thinking about real measures, both are just posturing.

[Dec 25, 2018] If the Turks attack the Kurds it will be their own fault. If they don't learn the lesson of Afrin and accept the Syrian Government offer, they will be eliminated by the Turkish Army and proxy troops.

Dec 25, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

John Waddell -> jdledell , 2 days ago

If the Turks attack the Kurds it will be their own fault. If they don't learn the lesson of Afrin and accept the Syrian Government offer, they will be eliminated by the Turkish Army and proxy troops. They appear to have been offered the option of becoming part of the Syrian Arab Army, an offer the Russians and Turks have supported.

Bear in mind that many of the Kurds are now in parts of Syria that were not theirs before the US backed them and, under the eyes of US SF and DoS observers, they have been ethnically cleaning some of those areas of Arabs. This will be reversed.

Poul -> jdledell , 2 days ago
A cynical view on the Kurds would be that throwing them to the wolves will make the wolves fight amongst themselves over the prey.

The one issue which united Russia, Syria, Iran & Turkey was that they all wanted the US out of Syria. Now that has happened friction between the nations can occur.

Russia may have gained something from the new relationship with Turkey that they may not want to sacrifice for Syrian-Iranian policy regarding who shall control Northern Syria.

Can Syria-Iran go it along against Turkey . I doubt it.

[Dec 25, 2018] A Short History of How the US Went to War in Syria by Peter Van Buren

Dec 25, 2018 | original.antiwar.com

Posted on December 24, 2018 December 23, 2018 Here's what got Secretary of Defense James Mattis all worked up!

Even as what should have been a quick 2001 strike into Afghanistan bogged down into the quagmire of nation building, George W. Bush in 2003 invaded Iraq. The pretenses were all false. Terrorism was the excuse, American control over the region the goal. "Winning" in Iraq was built on an illusion the U.S. could somehow establish a puppet government there incorporating Sunni, Shia, and Kurd power blocs. There was no plan for this and it predictably failed, metastasizing into civil war, eventually drawing in powerful outside forces, most predominantly the Iranians on the Shia side, and al Qaeda on the Sunni side, with the US assuming a defacto role protecting the semiautonomous Kurds.

As the second Bush term gasped to conclusion and America grew weary of the Iraq War, the US quietly abandoned its plans for a tripartite Iraqi state. It allowed Iranian-supported Shias to "win" the 2010 elections at the expense of the Sunni population, and walled off the Kurds, formal status to be sorted out sometime whenever. Under a deal negotiated by Bush, American troops came home under Obama. That action didn't "lose" Iraq; Iraq was "lost" at a thousand incremental steps between 2003-2010 when the US failed to create a viable government and left everyone to fight it out. The continued presence of American troops post-2010 would not have prevented the violence which followed, anymore than the continued presence of US troops pre-2010 did not prevent the violence and in fact inflamed it.

The Shia government in Iraq, advised, financed, and controlled by newly-empowered Iran (America's wars had removed Iran's two biggest enemies, the Taliban on its eastern border and Saddam on the west, freeing up the bulk of Iran's military and foreign policy resources) wildly overplayed its hand, setting off on a clumsy genocide of the Sunnis. Out of desperation, the remnants of al Qaeda coupled with ultra-violent Sunni nationalists/protectors/patriots/terrorists (pick one word, but they all describe ISIS) morphed into Islamic State. From a Syrian border American interventionism had turned into a failed state, Islamic State organized itself and began holding ground, quickly rolling over the Kurds in northern Iraq and through sympathetic Sunni lands. When the American-trained (cost: $25 billion) Iraqi national army dropped its weapons and ran in 2014, remaining Shia forces collapsed back toward Baghdad, and it looked like Iraq was about to snap apart.

The US, under Obama, reinserted itself into Iraq, in a devil's bargain with the most powerful player on the ground other than ISIS, the Iranians. The US paired with Iranian special forces, the US paired with Iranian-led Iraqi troops, and the US paired with Iranian-backed Shia militias/nationalists/protectors/patriots/terrorists. This time there was no grand plan to do any nation building. The plan was to literally kill every Islamic State fighter, and if that meant destroying Sunni cities to save them, so be it. Death was rained in literal Biblical doses. The American strategy against Islamic State worked. It should have; this was a war the American military knew how to fight, with none of that tricky counterinsurgency stuff. Retaking Ramadi, Fallujah, and Mosul were set-piece battles. City after Sunni city were ground into little Dresdens before being turned over to the militias for ethnic cleansing of renegade Sunnis.

Without much discussion, "fighting ISIS" into Syrian territory slipped into another, albeit less enthusiastic, round of regime change , this time aimed at Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. Assad's family controlled the country since the 1960s, and was a sort-of American partner here and there, certainly helpful during the early years of the GWOT in torturing folks on America's behalf. Bashar himself was a goofy looking guy with a sophisticated wife, an optometrist by education, and when he took office after his classic dictator Dr. Evil father's death, was briefly seen as a "new voice" in the Middle East, a less fashionable version of last year's Saudi Mohammed bin Salman. Assad was fighting Islamic State, too: they were seeking to seize territory from him, and so the US and Assad were sort of on the same side.

Nonetheless, Obama's warhawks – the gals, Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton in the lead! – drove policy toward regime change. Assad became an evil dictator who killed his own people. Justification for the US going to war again in the Middle East was thus because a tiny percentage of the deaths were maybe caused by gas instead of artillery, aerial bombs, machine guns, tanks, rockets, grenades, car bombs, mines, bad food, or sticks and stones, a "red line." The world of 2015 however was very different than the one of 2003. The US had been bled out by the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and fights picked in Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and across Africa. Iran was empowered. Russia, always a friend of Assad's, was invited in to help rid Syria of chemical weapons by Secretary of State John Kerry and took the opportunity to dramatically grow its military role there.

Saudi money fed the fight, often flowing into ISIS' coffers because ISIS was fighting Iranian-backed troops whom the Saudi's opposed. Turkey saw an opportunity in chaos to push back against the Kurds nipping at its southern and eastern borders and basically a small-scale version of WWI unraveled as the United States bombed a bit, stepped back, sent in some special forces, then claimed it had no boots on the ground, and so forth. America's goals – destroy ISIS, fight Iranian influence, oust Assad – were often at odds with one another and lead to US weapons and money flooding the battlefield. More than one firefight featured American-supplied guns on both sides. More than one American special forces unit found itself playing traffic cop stopping an American "ally" from attacking another American "ally."

That more or less brings things up to late 2018

Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People . His latest book is Hooper's War: A Novel of WWII Japan . Reprinted from the his blog with permission.

Read more by Peter Van Buren

[Dec 25, 2018] Saudi Arabia Agrees to Finance Rebuilding of Syria - Trump

Dec 25, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

DarkPurpleHaze , 1 hour ago link

How unlikely did it seem (pre-Khashoggi) that the Syrian situation would take the turns we're now starting to witness?

Totally under the radar during the holiday newscycle.....major news story!

▪Saudi Arabia Agrees to Finance Rebuilding of Syria - Trump▪

US President Donald Trump said in a statement on Monday that Saudi Arabia has agreed to pay for the reconstruction of Syria rather than the United States financing the reconstruction of that country.

>>> "Saudi Arabia has now agreed to spend the necessary money needed to help rebuild Syria, instead of the United States. See? Isn't it nice when immensely wealthy countries help rebuild their neighbors rather than a Great Country, the U.S., that is 5000 miles away. Thanks to Saudi A! " Trump said via Twitter.<<<

https://mobile.twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1077253411358326785

Trump has welcomed Riyadh's decision, adding that it is "nice when immensely wealthy countries help rebuild their neighbors rather than a Great Country, the US, that is 5000 miles away."

The US president's comment comes after, on Wednesday, he announced that the United States would withdraw its roughly 2,000 troops from Syria since the Daesh* terror group had been defeated. However, the White House later clarified the decision does not mean the US-led international coalition's fight against the Daesh has ended.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers in the US Congress who have supported US military engagement and intervention throughout the world have criticized Trump's decision, saying that a US troop withdrawal from Syria will lead to the reemergence of the Daesh and aid Russia, Turkey and Iran fulfilling their interests in the region.

emersonreturn , 19 minutes ago link

the saudis will only put money into isis & therein taking over the oil fields to supplement theirs...yemen isn't quite working out as they'd planned.

[Dec 25, 2018] Mattis Marks End of the Global War on Terror

Notable quotes:
"... America's presence in Syria, like Jim Mattis himself, is an artifact of another era, the failed GWOT. As a Marine, Mattis served in ground combat leadership roles in Gulf Wars I and II, and also in Afghanistan. He ran United States Central Command from 2010 to 2013, the final years of The Surge in Iraq and American withdrawal afterwards. There is no doubt why he supported the American military presence in Syria, and why he resigned to protest Trump's decision to end it: Mattis knew nothing else. His entire career was built around the strategy of the GWOT, the core of which was to never question GWOT strategy. Mattis didn't need a reason to stay in Syria; being in Syria was the reason. ..."
"... So why didn't Trump listen to his generals? Maybe because the bulk of their advice has been dead wrong for 17 years? ..."
"... The war on terror failed. It should have been dismantled long ago. Barack Obama could have done it, but instead became a victim of hubris and bureaucratic capture, and allowed it to expand. His supporters give him credit for not escalating the war in Syria, but leave out the part about how he also left the pot to simmer on the stove instead of removing it altogether. ..."
"... Peter Van Buren, a 24-year State Department veteran, is the author of ..."
"... . He is permanently banned from federal employment and Twitter. ..."
"... The GWOT was not only a failure, it was a fraud. Saddam's Iraq was secular and had nothing to do with terrorism. The same can be said for Libya and Syria. We armed and trained jihadis for the purpose of overthrowing Assad. How is that fighting terrorism? The war on terror was a deception, to cover for wars which were aggressive and unjustified. These wars were not just a failure, they were criminal and should be a source of shame and sorrow for our country. The men who orchestrated these wars did so by lying to the American people every step of the way, with the media repeating their every lie and distortion with robotic consistency. The neocon planners and all their willing accomplices deserve a special place in hell for the death and destruction they have wrought. Thank God the neocon era seems to be coming to a close. Thank God for Donald Trump, with all his flaws, for having the guts and decency to put an end to this prolonged military outrage. ..."
"... It's strange that Mr. van Buren celebrates the exit of Mattis as symbolizing the end of a long-discredited policy when Mattis was hired less than 2 years ago, many years after that policy became discredited, and after Mattis's hirer ran for President on a platform diametrically opposed to the discredited policy while denouncing the discredited policy. Now we find out belatedly that the only reason President Trump hired Mattis was because Mattis was fired for insubordination by former President Obama which incumbent President Trump hates, and for which a strong motivating factor is doing everything opposite of Obama. So now incumbent President Trump finds to his dismay that Mattis is insubordinate to himself as well. And yet Mr. van Buren thinks the important focus of this development is Mattis ..."
"... "The raw drive to insta-hate everything Trump does is misleading otherwise thoughtful people. So let's try a new lens: during the campaign Trump outspokenly denounced the waste of America's wars. Pro-Trump sentiment in rural areas was driven by people who agreed with his critique, by people who'd served in these wars, whose sons and daughters had served, or, given the length of all this, both. Since taking office, the president has pulled U.S. troops back from pointless conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Congress may yet rise to do the same for American involvement in Yemen. No new wars have been started It is time for some old ideas to move on." ..."
"... The GWOT was a repudiation of the Powell Doctrine. Almost 20 years on, Powell looks like genius and the neocons like a bunch of morons. ..."
"... The retreat from Syria does not mean a U.S. retreat from its role as the Global Cop Gorilla. The Pentagon is merely changing its primary target set from the GWOT actors to the "revisionist powers". ..."
"... The National Defense Strategy Commission's report, ironically and perversely released by the "United States Institute of Peace", validates the fear-monger claims and also the claims to more TRILLIONS of taxpayer dollars to feed the Gorilla as it marauds around the perimeter of Asia. ..."
"... "There is no pleasure in watching Jim Mattis end his decades of service with a bureaucratic dirty stick shoved at him as a parting gift." ..."
"... "Don't make me have to kill you" ..."
"... It's no coincidence that Netanyahu's government fell apart today. Another good riddance. May the Israelis elect a new PM who actually wants peace in the Mideast. ..."
"... The War Party is still The War Party -- which is why so many of us who are strong Trump supporters have never joined the Republican Party and have no plans to join. This moment in history is particularly instruction. The Democrats have blown their cover. The Democratic Party is as much The War Party as the Republican Party. ..."
Dec 25, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The New York Times , its journalists in mourning over the loss of a war, ask , "Who will protect America now?" Mattis the warrior-monk is juxtaposed with the flippant commander-in-Cheeto. The Times sees strategic disaster in an "abrupt and dangerous decision, detached from any broader strategic context or any public rationale, [that] sowed new uncertainty about America's commitment to the Middle East, [and] its willingness to be a global leader."

"A major blunder," tweeted Senator Marco Rubio. "If it isn't reversed it will haunt America for years to come." Senator Lindsey Graham called for congressional hearings. And what is history if not irony? Rubio talks of haunting foreign policy decisions in Syria seemingly without knowledge of previous calamities in Iraq. Graham wants to hold hearings on quitting a war Congress never held hearings on authorizing.

That's all wrong. Jim Mattis's resignation as defense secretary ( and on Sunday , Brett McGurk, as special envoy to the coalition fighting ISIS) and Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria and Afghanistan are indeed significant. But that's because they mark the beginning of the end of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), the singular, tragic, bloody driver of American foreign policy for almost two decades.

Why does the U.S. have troops in Syria?

To defeat the Islamic State? ISIS's ability to hold ground and project power outside its immediate backyard was destroyed somewhere back in 2016 by an unholy coalition of American, Iranian, Russian, Syrian, Turkish, and Israeli forces in Iraq and Syria. Sure, there are terrorists who continue to set off bombs in ISIS's name, but they are not controlled or directed out of Syria. They are most likely legal residents of the Western countries they attack, radicalized online or in local mosques. They are motivated by a philosophy, which cannot be destroyed on the ground in Syria. This is the fundamental failure of the GWOT: that you can't blow up an idea.

Regime change? It was never a practical idea. As in Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan, there was never a plan for what to do next, for how to keep Syria from descending into complete chaos the day Assad was removed. And though progressives embraced the idea of getting rid of another "evil dictator" when it came through the mouthpiece of Obama's own freedom fighter Samantha Power, the same idea today has little drive behind it.

Russia? Overwrought fear of Moscow was once a sign of unhealthy paranoia satirized on The Twilight Zone . Today, Russia hate is seen as a prerequisite to patriotism, though it still makes no more sense. The Russians have long had a practical relationship with Syria, having maintained a naval base at Tartus since 1971, which they will continue to do. There was never a plan for the U.S. to push the Russians out -- Obama in fact saw the Russian presence are part of the solution in Syria. American withdrawal is far more of a return to status quo than anything like a win for Putin. (Elsewhere at TAC , Matt Purple pokes more holes in Putin paranoia.)

Washington Melts Down Over Trump's Syria Withdrawal Former Yazidi Sex Slave Is America's Shame

The Kurds? The U.S.-Kurd story is one of expediency over morality. We've used them only because, at every sad turn, there's been no force otherwise available in bulk. The Kurds have been abandoned many times by America: in 1991 when it refused to assist them in breaking away from Saddam Hussein following Gulf War I, when it insisted they remain part of a "united Iraq" following Gulf War II, and most definitively in 2017 following Gulf War III when the U.S. did not support their independence referendum, relegating them to Baghdad's forever half-loved stepchild.

After all that, America's intentions toward the Kurds in Syria are barely a sideshow-scale event. The Kurds want to cleave off territory from Turkey and Syria, something neither nation will permit and something the U.S. quietly understands would destabilize the region. Mattis, by the way, supported NATO ally Turkey in its fight against the Kurds, calling them an "active insurgency inside its borders."

Iran? Does the U.S. really have troops in Syria to brush back Iranian influence? As with "all of the above," that genie got out of the bottle years ago. Iranian power in the greater Middle East has grown dramatically since 2003, and has been driven at every step by the blunders of the United States. If the most powerful army in the world couldn't stop the Iranians from essentially winning Gulf Wars II and III, how can 2,000 troops in Syria hope to accomplish much?

The United States, of course, wasn't even shooting at the Iranians in Syria; in most cases it was working either with them or tacitly alongside them towards the goal of killing off ISIS. Tehran's role as Assad's protector was set as America rumbled about regime change. Iran has since pieced together a land corridor to the Mediterranean through Iraq and Syria, which it will not be giving up, certainly not because of the presence of a few thousand Americans.

What remains is that once-neocon, now progressive catch-all: we need to stay in Syria to preserve American credibility. While pundits can still get away with this line, the rest of the globe already knows the empire has no clothes. Since 2001, the United States has spent some $6 trillion on its wars, and killed multiple 9/11s worth of American troops and foreign civilians. The U.S. has tortured , still maintains its gulag at Guantanamo, and, worst of all credibility-wise, has lost on every front. Afghanistan after 17 years of war festers. Nothing was accomplished with Iraq. Libya is a failed state. Syria is the source of a refugee crisis whose long-term effects on Europe are still being played out. We are the "indispensable nation" only in our own minds. A lot of people around the world probably wish America would just stop messing with their countries.

So why does the U.S. have troops in Syria? Anyone? Bueller? Mattis?

America's presence in Syria, like Jim Mattis himself, is an artifact of another era, the failed GWOT. As a Marine, Mattis served in ground combat leadership roles in Gulf Wars I and II, and also in Afghanistan. He ran United States Central Command from 2010 to 2013, the final years of The Surge in Iraq and American withdrawal afterwards. There is no doubt why he supported the American military presence in Syria, and why he resigned to protest Trump's decision to end it: Mattis knew nothing else. His entire career was built around the strategy of the GWOT, the core of which was to never question GWOT strategy. Mattis didn't need a reason to stay in Syria; being in Syria was the reason.

So why didn't Trump listen to his generals? Maybe because the bulk of their advice has been dead wrong for 17 years? Instead, Trump plans a dramatic drawdown of troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. presence in Iraq has dwindled from combat to advise and assist. Congress seems poised to end U.S. involvement in Yemen against Mattis's advice.

There is no pleasure in watching Jim Mattis end his decades of service with a bureaucratic dirty stick shoved at him as a parting gift. But to see this all as another Trump versus the world blunder is very wrong. The war on terror failed. It should have been dismantled long ago. Barack Obama could have done it, but instead became a victim of hubris and bureaucratic capture, and allowed it to expand. His supporters give him credit for not escalating the war in Syria, but leave out the part about how he also left the pot to simmer on the stove instead of removing it altogether.

The raw drive to insta-hate everything Trump does is misleading otherwise thoughtful people. So let's try a new lens: during the campaign Trump outspokenly denounced the waste of America's wars. Pro-Trump sentiment in rural areas was driven by people who agreed with his critique, by people who'd served in these wars, whose sons and daughters had served, or, given the length of all this, both. Since taking office, the president has pulled U.S. troops back from pointless conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Congress may yet rise to do the same for American involvement in Yemen. No new wars have been started. Though the results are far from certain, for the first time in nearly 20 years, negotiations are open again with North Korea. Mattis's ending was clumsy, but it was a long time coming. It is time for some old ideas to move on.

Peter Van Buren, a 24-year State Department veteran, is the author of We Meant Well : How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People and Hooper's War : A Novel of WWII Japan . He is permanently banned from federal employment and Twitter.



Geo December 24, 2018 at 8:22 am

I'm about as left wing as they come and have had a distain for Trump for decades. But, if he can put an end to the GWOT and truly pull America out of those disasters I protested against back in 2001-2002 (not to mention Libya and Yemen) then he will be my favorite modern president. Granted, that's a low bar. I've not had one in my lifetime that was worth admiring, but would be a welcome change.

I have my doubts he'll be able to pull it off but even if he manages to just not start any new wars that would be a novel new direction for us.

Kent , , December 24, 2018 at 9:23 am
If Trump pulls this off, I'll actually consider voting for him in 2020.
TomG , , December 24, 2018 at 9:24 am
It's good for Van Buren to remind people that our relationship with the Kurds has long been one of support when it is convenient and abandonment when it is not. For left and right to feign concern now is quite hypocritical.

Reading this offers some hope though the bulk of coverage on the Syria withdrawal from left and right has been most depressing. May Mattis (and his ilk) go far and may it be soon!

Stephen in Florida , , December 24, 2018 at 9:25 am
Amen to everything in this article. I voted for Trump because of the way he strongly denounced the Iraq war and our policies of interventionism and nation building in general. It has taken two full years, but finally he is delivering what I hoped for. The media is trying to turn this into another Trump smear issue, but I expect them to fail at this. At this point in time how many people take the news channel narrative seriously? Especially if Trump removes our troops from Afghanistan, I expect his popularity to soar.

The GWOT was not only a failure, it was a fraud. Saddam's Iraq was secular and had nothing to do with terrorism. The same can be said for Libya and Syria. We armed and trained jihadis for the purpose of overthrowing Assad. How is that fighting terrorism? The war on terror was a deception, to cover for wars which were aggressive and unjustified. These wars were not just a failure, they were criminal and should be a source of shame and sorrow for our country. The men who orchestrated these wars did so by lying to the American people every step of the way, with the media repeating their every lie and distortion with robotic consistency. The neocon planners and all their willing accomplices deserve a special place in hell for the death and destruction they have wrought. Thank God the neocon era seems to be coming to a close. Thank God for Donald Trump, with all his flaws, for having the guts and decency to put an end to this prolonged military outrage.

JK , , December 24, 2018 at 9:51 am
It's strange that Mr. van Buren celebrates the exit of Mattis as symbolizing the end of a long-discredited policy when Mattis was hired less than 2 years ago, many years after that policy became discredited, and after Mattis's hirer ran for President on a platform diametrically opposed to the discredited policy while denouncing the discredited policy. Now we find out belatedly that the only reason President Trump hired Mattis was because Mattis was fired for insubordination by former President Obama which incumbent President Trump hates, and for which a strong motivating factor is doing everything opposite of Obama. So now incumbent President Trump finds to his dismay that Mattis is insubordinate to himself as well. And yet Mr. van Buren thinks the important focus of this development is Mattis
Kurt Gayle , , December 24, 2018 at 10:06 am
This is brilliant, Mr. Van Buren. Thank you:

"The raw drive to insta-hate everything Trump does is misleading otherwise thoughtful people. So let's try a new lens: during the campaign Trump outspokenly denounced the waste of America's wars. Pro-Trump sentiment in rural areas was driven by people who agreed with his critique, by people who'd served in these wars, whose sons and daughters had served, or, given the length of all this, both. Since taking office, the president has pulled U.S. troops back from pointless conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Congress may yet rise to do the same for American involvement in Yemen. No new wars have been started It is time for some old ideas to move on."

furbo , , December 24, 2018 at 10:08 am
The President made the right decision. I WISH it had been reached in a more traditional manner -- going thru the NSC and such, but we had no achievable strategic goals and were really only a bit player. The very real danger was that we were dancing around the Russians like two porcupines making love with the current "Russia!Russia!Russia!" political freakout preventing what could have been a genuine opportunity for cooperation in at least one area. Syria will not be any more chaotic for our departure, infact given less scrutiny and no danger of accidental WW III, the Russians/Iranians/Syrian gov't may be able to wrap this up more faster.

Russia also has interest in Kurdish welfare and as 15% of Israelis ARE Russians, their wellfare as well. In an administration that needed to project credibility, SEC Mattis was a good choice and has done some great things cutting alot of uneeded red tape & worthless 'training' and giving clear priorities for the services. But, he's opposed almost everything the President including the Trans ban so it was 'when not if'.

Oleg Gark , , December 24, 2018 at 10:13 am
The GWOT was a repudiation of the Powell Doctrine. Almost 20 years on, Powell looks like genius and the neocons like a bunch of morons.
Seaman Bodine , , December 24, 2018 at 10:30 am
It all makes sense once you understand that by "restraint" they mean "leave American soldiers as hostages to fortune in Syria!" and "unlimited mulligans for failed generals in Afghanistan!" and "let's provoke Erdogan into releasing two or three million refugees into Europe!"
Alex (the one that likes Ike) , , December 24, 2018 at 10:33 am

The Times sees strategic disaster in an "abrupt and dangerous decision, detached from any broader strategic context or any public rationale, [that] sowed new uncertainty about America's commitment to the Middle East, [and] its willingness to be a global leader."

Geez. I can also come up with something like this artwork by the Times journalists. Here: "The lack of correlation between convergences caused an unwanted bifurcation of idiosyncratic dichotomies". Twaddle? But how badass is sounds! Just read it aloud -- and you'll see the credibility glittering like Swarovski crystals all over the place.

Merry Christmas to the MSM. I wish them to start writing something meaningful next year.

Dan Green , , December 24, 2018 at 10:52 am
Too bad the military establishment had their Christmas ruined. They shouldn't get down there will new new wars.
SteveM , , December 24, 2018 at 11:19 am
The retreat from Syria does not mean a U.S. retreat from its role as the Global Cop Gorilla. The Pentagon is merely changing its primary target set from the GWOT actors to the "revisionist powers".

Mattis fronted the updated National Defense Strategy. It again fear-mongers out the wazoo about Russia and China with the only solution being "more, more, more" for the War Machine.

The National Defense Strategy Commission's report, ironically and perversely released by the "United States Institute of Peace", validates the fear-monger claims and also the claims to more TRILLIONS of taxpayer dollars to feed the Gorilla as it marauds around the perimeter of Asia.

Re: "There is no pleasure in watching Jim Mattis end his decades of service with a bureaucratic dirty stick shoved at him as a parting gift."

Au Contraire , there is much pleasure watching that sanctified War-Monger and Pentagon Hack with his contrived "Don't make me have to kill you" schtick ride off into the sunset.

Unfortunately for those of us not deluded into the Cult of Military Exceptionalism, Mattis will no doubt segue to Fox News as yet another "Wizened Sage" of Pentagon wisdom and insight, where he'll live very large for simply gas-bagging his "Warrior Hero" script. And perhaps Mad Dog will even meander back to General Dynamics to pimp yet again for the Merchants of Death.

Make no mistake, Mattis and his General pals are enemies of the taxpayers and rank apostates of the Founders' principles. Mattis may soon be gone, but unfortunately, he won't be forgotten.

P.S. Merry Christmas

Citoyen , , December 24, 2018 at 11:55 am
It's good to see Trump finally realizing that he is the president, and not his generals and "advisors" that no one elected. Goodbye and good riddance to Mattis, Haley et al. Next to go should be John Bolton, Mike Pompeo and Jared Kushner.

It's no coincidence that Netanyahu's government fell apart today. Another good riddance. May the Israelis elect a new PM who actually wants peace in the Mideast.

Kurt Gayle , , December 24, 2018 at 12:35 pm
"'A major blunder,' tweeted Senator Marco Rubio. 'If it isn't reversed it will haunt America for years to come.' Senator Lindsey Graham called for congressional hearings. And what is history if not irony? Rubio talks of haunting foreign policy decisions in Syria seemingly without knowledge of previous calamities in Iraq. Graham wants to hold hearings on quitting a war Congress never held hearings on authorizing."

The War Party is still The War Party -- which is why so many of us who are strong Trump supporters have never joined the Republican Party and have no plans to join. This moment in history is particularly instruction. The Democrats have blown their cover. The Democratic Party is as much The War Party as the Republican Party.

Stephen J. , , December 24, 2018 at 12:44 pm
Article of interest at link below.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -
Send the Mad Dog to the Corporate Kennel
by Ray McGovern Posted on December 22, 2018

https://original.antiwar.com/mcgovern/2018/12/21/send-the-mad-dog-to-the-corporate-kennel/

Ron B. Saunders , , December 24, 2018 at 2:50 pm
No wonder Mr. Van Buren is banned from federal employment and Twitter. His clarity and surgical observations of American interventionism are indeed enlightening. Deep State forces must cringe when reading his missives.

I don't agree with everything Trump does, but I have high hopes for his intent to extract American military forces from the Middle East. Having cost trillions of dollars and countless lives, these profit-motivated, failed expeditions could never be morally justified even if they were successful.

Being the world's policeman does not make America a benevolent, inspiring global leader. The opposite is true, as much of the world now perceives America to be a disruptive force, conspiring against global peace for the benefit of the military industrial complex and multinational corporations.

Let's pray for a changing tide that steers us further from the brink.

Mark Thomason , , December 24, 2018 at 3:19 pm
"Now Trump, the guy everyone expected to start new wars"

Hillary supporters said that. The rest of us knew that she was the danger of more and bigger wars. That was a prime reason to defeat her. Too bad the only way to defeat her was to elect Trump, but that is on the DNC, since they offered her, and every other Republican was even worse (Cruz!).

[Dec 24, 2018] Time to Get Out of Syria by Eric Margolis

Dec 24, 2018 | www.unz.com
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President Trump has done the right thing with regard to America's troop deployment in Syria. Trump ordered the 2,000 US troops based in Syria to get out and come home.

Neocons and the US war party are having apoplexy even though there are some 50,000 US troops spread across the rest of the Mideast.

The US troops parked in the Syrian Desert were doing next to nothing. Their avowed role was to fight the remnants of the ISIS movement and block any advances by Iranian forces. As a unified fighting force, ISIS barely exists, if it ever did. Cobbled together, armed and financed by the US, the Saudis and Gulf Emirates to overthrow Syria's regime, ISIS ran out of control and became a menace to everyone.

In fact, what the US was really doing was putting down a marker for a possible US future occupation of war-torn Syria that risked constant clashes with Russian forces there.

We will breathe a big sigh of relief if the US deployment actually goes ahead: it will remove a major risk of war with nuclear-armed Russia, whose forces are in Syria at the invitation of the recognized government in Damascus. The US has no strategic interest in Syria and no business at all being militarily involved there. Except perhaps that the war party wants never-ending wars abroad for arms production and promotions.

Trump's abrupt pullout from Syria has shocked and mortified Washington's war party and neocon fifth column. They were hoping reinforced US forces would go on to attack Damascus and move against Iranian forces. It was amusing to watch the anguish of such noted warlike chickenhawks as Sen. Lindsay Graham and the fanatical national security advisor John Bolton as their hopes for a US war against Syria diminished. Israel was equally dismayed: its strategic plan has long been to fragment Syria and gobble up the pieces.

The venerable imperial general and defense secretary, Jim Mattis, couldn't take this de-escalation. He resigned. Marine General Mattis was one of the few honorable and respected members of the Trump administration and a restraint on the president's impulses. To his credit, he opposed the reintroduction of torture by US forces, a crime promoted by Trump, Bolton and Chicago enforcer Mike Pompeo.

What really mattered was not a chunk of the Syrian Desert. Matis's resignation may have been much more about Afghanistan, America's longest war. The US has been defeated in Afghanistan, rightly known as the 'Graveyard of Empires.' Yet no one in Washington can admit this defeat or order a retreat after wasting 17 years, a trillion dollars and thousands of Americans killed or wounded. Least of all, Gen. Mattis, Bolton or Pompeo who bitterly opposed any peace deal with the Taliban nationalist movement.

According to unconfirmed media reports, the US has already thinned out its Afghan garrison of 14,000 plus soldiers. These soldiers' main function is to guard the corrupt, drug-dealing Afghan puppet government in Kabul and fix Taliban forces so they can be attacked by US airpower.

Taliban insists it won't begin serious negotiations until all US and 8,000 foreign troops are withdrawn. In fact, Taliban, which has been quietly talking to the US in Abu Dhabi, may agreed to a 50% western troops cut in order to begin peace talks.

ORDER IT NOW

The Afghan War has cost the US $1 trillion. Occupying parts of Iraq and Syria has cost a similar amount. Resistance against US rule continues in both nations. Mattis and his fellow generals really like these wars, but civilian Trump does not. As a candidate he vowed to end these 'stupid' wars. Let's hope he succeeds over the bitter objections of the Republican war party, neocons, and military industrial complex.

Syria is an ugly little sideshow. By contrast, Afghanistan is a dark blot on America's national honor. We watch with revulsion and dismay as the US deploys B-52 and B-1 heavy bombers to flatten Afghan villages. We watch with disgust as the US coddles the opium-dealing Afghan warlords and their Communist allies – all in the spurious name of 'democracy.'

If Trump wants to make America great, he can start by ending the squalid Syrian misadventure and the butchery in Afghanistan.


Alistair , says: December 22, 2018 at 2:13 pm GMT

We should give credit to president Trump for getting the US troops out of Syria and Afghanistan.

Mr. Trump has always been consistent about the withdrawal of the US Forces from Afghanistan; back in 2011, in an interview with Bill O'Reilly, Trump reiterated his total dismay and opposition to the waste of lives and money in Afghanistan; he clearly mentioned that he would withdrawal the US Forces from Afghanistan immediately, See the link: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/22/donald-trump-said-afghanistan-president-saying-now/

The same applies to Syria, America has no genuine strategy to remaining in Syria; staying in Syria would be further destabilizing the region – fueling the Syrian civil war for the sole benefits of Israel and Saudi Arabia whom had created the ISIS against the Iranian influence in the region.

President Trump deserves to get credit for being courageous and consistent about the US involvement in the middle east; withdrawing from Syria and Afghanistan is the right strategy, too many lives have perished and trillion of dollars have been wasted for nothing; let's put an end to this – thank you Mr. Trump for doing the right thing !

Jimmy , says: December 22, 2018 at 9:45 pm GMT
Trump finally does something sensible? hard to believe
Anonymous [401] Disclaimer , says: December 22, 2018 at 10:55 pm GMT
Fun fact: $2 trillion is more than Italy's GDP.

[Dec 24, 2018] Mattis Resigns

Notable quotes:
"... The Defense Department under Mattis became more opaque and less accountable to the public and Congress. He presided over two years of shameful support for the Saudi coalition war on Yemen, and he went out of his way to offer absurd justifications for continued U.S. support for the war to the end of his tenure. ..."
"... No less than Secretary Pompeo, Mattis discredited himself in the desperate, unsuccessful effort to derail S.J.Res. 54. An administration that fights as hard as this has to keep the war on Yemen going is definitely not one interested in peace and restraint no matter what else happens. ..."
Dec 24, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Secretary Mattis has resigned :

Officials said Mr. Mattis went to the White House on Thursday afternoon with his resignation letter already written, but nonetheless made a last attempt at persuading Mr. Trump to reverse his decision about Syria, which the president announced on Wednesday over the objections of his senior advisers.

Mr. Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general, was rebuffed. Returning to the Pentagon, he asked aides to print out 50 copies of his resignation letter and distribute them around the building.

Mattis' departure from the administration after the midterms had been floated as a possibility for months, but I don't think anyone seriously expected him to resign suddenly over a policy disagreement with the president. It is telling and not to Mattis' credit that ending an illegal war in Syria was the one policy disagreement with Trump that Mattis couldn't stomach. The Defense Secretary had repeatedly disagreed with Trump on a range of issues, and he usually lost the internal debate. The only times that he prevailed with Trump were when he advised him to escalate ongoing U.S. wars, and his influence had waned enough that he couldn't get his way on that, either. I was extremely skeptical that a Syria withdrawal would actually happen. Now that Mattis has tried and failed to reverse that decision, I have to acknowledge that I overestimated the ability of Trump's advisers to change his mind.

The Defense Department under Mattis became more opaque and less accountable to the public and Congress. He presided over two years of shameful support for the Saudi coalition war on Yemen, and he went out of his way to offer absurd justifications for continued U.S. support for the war to the end of his tenure. The disagreement over Syria will dominate coverage of Mattis' resignation, but it is important to remember that when it came to the most indefensible U.S.-backed war he and Trump were always on the same page. No less than Secretary Pompeo, Mattis discredited himself in the desperate, unsuccessful effort to derail S.J.Res. 54. An administration that fights as hard as this has to keep the war on Yemen going is definitely not one interested in peace and restraint no matter what else happens.

As wrong as Mattis was on a number of foreign policy issues, there is a real danger that his successor could be far worse. Even if Trump doesn't nominate a Tom Cotton or Lindsey Graham, the next Defense Secretary is very likely to be a yes-man in the mold of Mike Pompeo. Almost every time that Trump has replaced his top national security officials, he has chosen someone who will flatter and praise him instead of telling him the truth and giving him the best advice.

The next Defense Secretary is less likely to resist Trump's belligerent tendencies, and he is more likely to indulge the president's worst impulses. Just as Pompeo has proven to be a worse Secretary of State than Tillerson, Mattis' successor will very likely prove to be an inferior Secretary of Defense.

about:blank


Robert December 20, 2018 at 11:53 pm

How about Rand Paul as SecDef?
Farewells , says: December 21, 2018 at 12:46 am
You're right to fear what may replace him, especially after the disgusting Pompeo replaced the decent but ineffectual Tillerson, but I'm glad Mattis is gone, especially if he quit over the Syria decision, a no-brainer which should have been made two years ago.

It's hard to imagine anyone being worse than he was. Sadly, we may not have to imagine it.

another take , says: December 21, 2018 at 1:54 am
There's also the danger that the elites and establishment will now escalate their efforts to remove him from office.

I've disagreed with Trump about many things, and I don't like the man, but I still trust him more than the corrupt incompetents and foreign agents who dragged us into these Middle East hellholes.

That is the terrible and ongoing damage that must be stopped.

But now that Trump has made a move in the direction of winding it down, you will almost certainly see the fury and resentment of the elites and establishment redoubled. From their point of view, the only thing worse than a Trump who doesn't keep his campaign promises is one who does.

prodigalson , says: December 21, 2018 at 8:55 am
I'm still happy to see him go. Someone with the handle of "Mad Dog" is perhaps not the best fit for national defense issues.

Agree his replacement will likely be worse but such seems to be the case for hardening our pharoah's hearts.

Christian Chuba , says: December 21, 2018 at 9:09 am
His next appointee will be no better and more than likely worse, a crafty Neocon who will bite their tongue when they disagree with Trump in order to remain so that he can encourage his worst tendencies. Bolton is a stellar example of this.

If he appoints someone like Cotton or Gen Jack Keane then Trump will be the last adult in the room.

Alex (the one that likes Ike) , says: December 21, 2018 at 1:49 pm

what this withdrawal means to the Kurds? Leaving them once again in the lurch?

Perhaps ceasing to deceive them with impossible promises given by both the previous Democratic and the current Republican administrations?

Sid Finster , says: December 21, 2018 at 1:51 pm
My SWAG, and this is merely SWAG, is that, since his election, Trump has given the neocons everything they wanted or asked for, but he still is allowed any freedom of action.

In spite of governing much like a garden variety Republican, his enemies are still looking for any excuse to remove him.

This is Trump reminding his enemies that he can do lots of things to upset the apple cart, so cut him some slack, already.

[Dec 23, 2018] Ignore the howls of protest – Trump's Syria withdrawal is a simple reflection of foreign policy realities The Independent

Notable quotes:
"... Independent Minds ..."
"... The Independent ..."
"... The Independent ..."
Dec 23, 2018 | independent.co.uk

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Ignore the howls of protest – Trump's Syria withdrawal is a simple reflection of foreign policy realities | The Independent President Trump's decision to withdraw US troops from Syria is being denounced by an impressive range of critics claiming that it is a surrender to Turkey, Russia, Syria and Iran – as well as a betrayal of the Kurds and a victory for Isis.

The pullout may be one or all of these things, but above all it is a recognition of what is really happening on the ground in Syria and the Middle East in general.

This point has not come across clearly enough because of the undiluted loathing for Trump among most of the American and British media. They act as a conduit for the views of diverse figures who condemn the withdrawal and include members of the imperially-minded foreign policy establishment in Washington and terrified Kurds living in north-east Syria who fear ethnic cleansing by an invading Turkish army.

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Opposition to Trump's decision was supercharged by the resignation of Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis which came after he failed to persuade the president to rescind his order. Mattis does not mention Syria or Afghanistan in his letter of resignation, but he makes clear his disagreement with the general direction of Trump's foreign policy in not confronting Russia and China and ignoring traditional allies and alliances.

The resignation of Mattis has elicited predictable lamentations from commentators who treat his departure as if it was the equivalent of the Kaiser getting rid of Bismarck. The over-used description of Mattis as "the last of the adults in the room" is once again trotted out, though few examples of his adult behaviour are given aside from his wish – along with other supposed "adults" – to stay in Syria until various unobtainable objectives were achieved: the extinction of Iranian influence; the displacement of Bashar al-Assad; and the categorical defeat of Isis (are they really likely to sign surrender terms?).

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Ignore the howls of protest – Trump's Syria withdrawal is a simple reflection of foreign policy realities | The Independent In other words, there was to be an open-ended US commitment with no attainable goals in an isolated and dangerous part of the world where it was already playing a losing game.

It is worth spelling out the state of play in Syria because this is being masked by anti-Trump rhetoric, recommending policies that may sound benign but are far detached from political reality. This reality may be very nasty: it is right to be appalled by the prospects for the Syrian Kurds who are terrified of a Turkish army that is already massing to the north of the Turkish-Syrian frontier.

There is a horrible inevitability about all this because neither Turkey nor Syria were ever going to allow a Kurdish mini-state to take permanent root in north-east Syria. It existed because of the Syrian civil war in which Assad withdrew his forces from the Kurdish-populated regions in 2012 in order to concentrate them in defence of strategically vital cities and roads. Isis attacked the Kurdish enclave in 2014 which led to a de facto alliance between the Kurds and the US air force whose devastating firepower enabled the Kurds to capture a great swathe of Isis-held territory east of the Euphrates.

Turkey was never going to accept this outcome . Erdogan denounced the Kurdish political and military forces controlling this corner of Syria as "terrorists" belonging to the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has been fighting the Turkish state since 1984.

This is a good moment to make a point about this article: it is an explanation not a justification for the dreadful things that may soon happen. I have visited the Kurdish controlled part of Syria several times and felt that it was the only part of Syria where the uprising of 2011 had produced a society that was better than what had gone before, bearing in mind the constraints of fighting a war.

I met the men and women of the People's Protection Units (YPG and YPJ) who fought heroically against Isis, suffering thousands of dead and wounded. But I always had a doomed feeling when talking to them as I could not see how their statelet, which had been brought into existence by temporary circumstances, was going to last beyond the end of the Syrian civil war and the defeat of Isis. One day the Americans would have to choose between 2 million embattled Kurds in Syria and 80 million Turks in Turkey and it dd not take much political acumen to foresee what they would decide.

Turkey had escalated its pressure on the US to end its protection of the Kurds and this finally paid off. A telephone conversation with Erdogan a week ago reportedly convinced Trump that he had to get US soldiers and airpower out of Syria. Keep in mind that Trump needs – though he may not get as much as he wants – Turkey as an ally in the Middle East more than ever before. His bet on Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Saudi Arabia as the leader of a pro-American and anti-Iranian Sunni coalition in the Middle has visibly and embarrassingly failed. The bizarre killing of Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi team in Istanbul was only the latest in a series of Saudi pratfalls showing comical ineptitude as well as excessive and mindless violence.

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Ignore the howls of protest – Trump's Syria withdrawal is a simple reflection of foreign policy realities | The Independent Critics of Trump raise several other important questions in opposing his withdrawal decision: is he not letting Isis off the hook by prematurely announcing their defeat and thereby enabling them to make a comeback? There is something in this , but not a lot. The Islamic State, that once held territory stretching from the Tigris River in Iraq to Syria's Mediterranean coast, is no more and cannot be resurrected because the circumstances that led to its spectacular growth between 2013 and 2015 are no longer there.

Isis made too many enemies because of its indiscriminate violence when it was at the peak of its power. Trump is right to assume in a tweet that "Russia, Iran, Syria & many others will have to fight ISIS and others, who they hate, without us". Isis may seek to take advantage of chaos in eastern Syria in the coming months, but there will be no power vacuum for them to exploit. The vacuum will be filled by Turkey or Syria or a combination of the two.

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A further criticism of the US withdrawal is that it unnecessarily hands a victory to Vladimir Putin and Assad. But here again, Trump's manoeuvre is more of a recognition of the fact that both men are already winners in the Syrian war.

Nor is it entirely clear that Russia and Iran will have greater influence in Syria and the region after the US withdrawal. True they have come out on the winning side, but as the Syrian state becomes more powerful it will have less need for foreign allies. The close cooperation between Russia and Turkey was glued together by US cooperation with the Kurds and once that ends, then Turkey may shift – though not all the way – back towards the US.

By denouncing Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria, his opponents are once again making the mistake of underestimating his instinctive political skills.

[Dec 23, 2018] Good riddance to James Mattis, Trump's last general

Notable quotes:
"... You want to know what those casualty numbers tell us? American forces in Syria, Afghanistan, or Iraq aren't going outside the wire – off American bases – very often. That's how you stay alive in places like Syria and Afghanistan. You stay away from places where things like IEDs can kill you. And even then, in the comparative safety of American bases, you're not safe, because there are enemy soldiers posing as "friendly" Afghan soldiers who will kill you. ..."
"... This is the nature of the conflicts we're engaged in. You take thousands of American soldiers and send them thousands of miles away from home into combat zones in foreign lands, and you have them do as little as possible so not too many of them get killed. ..."
"... It pains me to say this, but Trump pulling 2,000 soldiers out of Syria and 7,000 soldiers out of Afghanistan is the right thing to do. It might be getting done by a certifiable loon with an orange muskrat on his head, but it's the right thing to do and it should have been done a long time ago. ..."
Dec 23, 2018 | www.salon.com

... ... ...

The arm-waving and hand-flapping and pearl-clutching in the foreign affairs and national security "communities," not to mention in the Congress and among prominent Democrats, is something to behold. Significant portions of all those communities have long thought we didn't have any business being in Syria in the first place. Not to mention fighting our 17th year of the so-called "war" in Afghanistan, from which Trump intends to remove some 7,000 American troops...

More than 2,400 American soldiers dead in Afghanistan so far. More than 30,000 Afghan civilians killed. Sixty percent of Afghan districts under control of the Taliban. Opium production at an "all-time high." Dozens, sometimes hundreds of Afghan soldiers killed every single week. You thought Vietnam was a misbegotten military misadventure? How about 17 years in Afghanistan with no end in sight? Hell, opium production was said to be at an "all-time high" when I was in the Kunar River Valley in Afghanistan in 2004. That's 14 years ago, 14 years of record-setting opium crops!

And what are the pundits saying about our military foray into the morass called Syria? Listen to what I heard from one "expert" on MSNBC yesterday.

"Syria is a very winnable proposition," this numbskull said, looking gravely at the other "experts" at the table. "The U.S. presence is actually very small numbers." Two thousand is the "very small number" this blazer-and-tie wearing "expert" was talking about as he reached for his "I'm a Pundit on the Katy Tur Show" cup and went on to blather about how "winnable" Syria is.

Let me tell you what 2,000 soldiers is. It's about the size of a brigade, commanded by a full colonel. A brigade is typically three to five battalions of 500 to 1,000 soldiers, commanded by lieutenant colonels. Battalions are made up of three to five companies with around 200 soldiers, commanded by captains. Companies comprise three to four platoons of 40 to 100 soldiers, commanded by second lieutenants. So 2,000 soldiers is about 30 to 40 platoons of soldiers. I used to command a platoon. I was 22 years old. There were about 40 soldiers in my platoon. Let me tell you, taking care of 40 soldiers was a big fucking job, and we weren't even in combat.

Taking care of 2,000 soldiers in a place like Syria with bullets flying and IEDs going off is a huge fucking job. Taking care of 14,000 soldiers, like we currently have in Afghanistan, or 7,000 which we'll have when Trump gets finished with his draw-down, is a massive fucking job.

... ... ...

And now Trump's Last General's feelings are all hurt, because he wasn't consulted about pulling 2,000 troops out of Syria or 7,000 troops out of Afghanistan. What were those troops doing in Syria? We don't know, and I don't think Mattis had much of an idea what they were doing, either.

We can get some idea what they're doing by the number of casualties American forces have suffered in both places. An American soldier was killed in Manbij, Syria, by a roadside bomb in March of this year. He was the fourth American killed in Syria since our forces entered the country in 2014. There have been 18 Americans killed in Afghanistan this year. Eleven were killed there last year. About half of those killed in Afghanistan have been so-called "green-on-green" killings, incidents where "friendly" Afghans killed American soldiers, usually on American bases.

You want to know what those casualty numbers tell us? American forces in Syria, Afghanistan, or Iraq aren't going outside the wire – off American bases – very often. That's how you stay alive in places like Syria and Afghanistan. You stay away from places where things like IEDs can kill you. And even then, in the comparative safety of American bases, you're not safe, because there are enemy soldiers posing as "friendly" Afghan soldiers who will kill you.

This is the nature of the conflicts we're engaged in. You take thousands of American soldiers and send them thousands of miles away from home into combat zones in foreign lands, and you have them do as little as possible so not too many of them get killed.

It pains me to say this, but Trump pulling 2,000 soldiers out of Syria and 7,000 soldiers out of Afghanistan is the right thing to do. It might be getting done by a certifiable loon with an orange muskrat on his head, but it's the right thing to do and it should have been done a long time ago.

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All the talk you're hearing about how we've got to have American forces in this desert or that mountainous no-man's land as a "counterbalance" to countries like Russia and Iran is lip-flapping twaddle from the kind of "experts" who got us involved in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan in the first place. They are the same "experts" you didn't hear a peep from when Mattis stood loyally by Trump as he virtually capitulated to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, trashed NATO every chance he got, and sat down for Nuclear Kimchi with Kim Jong Un. Now Mattis is all "maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies" in his resignation letter. Talk about a day late and a dollar short, he should call Angela Merkel and ask her how much "respect" she's felt from the United States lately.

You want to know who can stop the resident of the adult day care center in the White House? It wasn't Adult in the Room General McMaster. It wasn't Adult in the Room General Kelly. It wasn't Adult in the Room General Mattis. And it's sure as hell not going to be somebody like Secretary of Defense Kushner, or whoever the hell Trump decides he's going to sentence to a padded cell on the E-Ring in the Pentagon next.

Trump can be stopped by Congress. The Congress can cut the funding for our misbegotten misadventures in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. It can refuse to fund the laughable wall along our 1,900 mile border with Mexico that Trump apparently thinks 6,000 soldiers can guard in the meantime. And Congress can impeach and convict Trump's insane clown ass for conspiring with a foreign nation to defraud the United States of America. Congress can do all of this if Republicans will stop bowing down before the Orange Hair Helmet and start looking out for the United States of America.

I told you before that Trump's generals wouldn't save us , and they sure as hell haven't, not even Mad Dog Mattis, who's now being lauded as the only thing standing between us and the total collapse of the Western World.

Just between you and me, we'll wake up tomorrow morning, and even with The Last Adult in the Room on his way out the door, the Western World will still be here, and so will Trump. Trust me.


Lucian K. Truscott IV

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter. He has covered stories such as Watergate, the Stonewall riots and wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels and several unsuccessful motion pictures. He has three children, lives on the East End of Long Island and spends his time Worrying About the State of Our Nation and madly scribbling in a so-far fruitless attempt to Make Things Better. He can be followed on Facebook at The Rabbit Hole and on Twitter @LucianKTruscott.

[Dec 22, 2018] Possible end of Syria war racket upset neocons and currupt Clinton interventionists alike -- which suggest that there are two War Parties in Washington now

Trump decision was even bigger surprise if we understand that the dominant part of the US population have been successfully brainwashed into thinking it's normal for a country to exist in a state of permanent war, fighting in seven countries at once, spending half of all discretionary funding on "defense" (which in reality is offence).
Notable quotes:
"... The bullshit about Bolton and others being aghast as they looked on and listened to the Trump/Erdogan phone call is just that, total b.s. Come like gangsters Erdogan has been told he can pay for US support if he so desires (Patriots is a euphemism) whilst on another front the war in Afganistan will be fully privatised. ..."
"... Let's not get too far afield here. Yes: wicked good news about Syria and the US announced withdrawal. Be sure, though, the ISIS/Saudi/Israeli elements will do all they can to prove Trump wrong. However, the focus will likely shift to the Ukraine. The Syrian situation has played itself out with no good neocon-approved outcome. ..."
"... Ukraine is fresh. Focused NATO-involved and with US/UK/EU encouragement, there is well-founded speculation for another military provocation seeking to entrap Russia. That will be the biggest challenge to Trump and Putin: not to pull the trigger over Ukraine. ..."
"... Watch the war criminals and banksters "find religion" with waves Clinton foundation avatars. (II and Silicon valley troughs just the first few drops) ..."
"... News is breaking that MbS is deploying troops into Syria to take over for U.S. ..."
"... What it does not signify is the slightest respect for the autonomy of the Syrian secular national government, nor for its sovereign rights to make alliance with Russia and Iran in an existential conflict. ..."
"... "How many senior American government officials resigned from their posts when Iraq's invasion and bombing of Libya campaigns were announced? "That's right, nobody, God forbid Trump ends a conflict, all hell breaks loose." ..."
Dec 22, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

MadMax2 , Dec 22, 2018 5:13:18 AM | link

Enjoying the fake left aka resistance exposing theselves further by demanding more war. Bolton, Mattis and co have served as pretty good stooges in a final act.

Erdogan must have read Art of the Deal. Fair play.

None-ya , Dec 22, 2018 7:09:18 AM | link
The Demiurge-in-waiting was reportedly caught off guard by Trump's quick surrender to demands the US pull troops from Syria. Trump ended his recent phone conversation with Erdogan by emphasizing his promise to withdraw from Syria, not explaining how, repeating the pledge a second time to make sure the message was received -- perhaps pouncing on an opportunity and/or executing a script.

The bullshit about Bolton and others being aghast as they looked on and listened to the Trump/Erdogan phone call is just that, total b.s. Come like gangsters Erdogan has been told he can pay for US support if he so desires (Patriots is a euphemism) whilst on another front the war in Afganistan will be fully privatised.

Next up, Donald Trump appoints Eric Prince new Secretary of Defense.

Mina , Dec 22, 2018 7:46:21 AM | link
Regarding II, what's interesting about the French cluster is that half of them are officials, not even half indepependent spooks hiding behind charities and offshore companies.
I wonder if anything has been reported in the Baltic newspapers.
vk , Dec 22, 2018 8:04:44 AM | link
I know it isn't true, but seeing this headline written in a MSM American newspaper is simply delicious:

It's official. We lost the Cold War. -- By Dana Milbank < https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/its-official-we-lost-the-cold-war/2018/12/21/1c3b52b0-0565-11e9-b5df-5d3874f1ac36_story.html>

vk , Dec 22, 2018 8:11:38 AM | link
It seems WaPo now has a paywall. Here's a functional link to comment number 7:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/its-official-we-lost-the-cold-war/2018/12/21/1c3b52b0-0565-11e9-b5df-5d3874f1ac36_story.html?utm_term=.69f274172c98>

BThePrisoner , Dec 22, 2018 8:44:10 AM | link
Let's not get too far afield here. Yes: wicked good news about Syria and the US announced withdrawal. Be sure, though, the ISIS/Saudi/Israeli elements will do all they can to prove Trump wrong. However, the focus will likely shift to the Ukraine. The Syrian situation has played itself out with no good neocon-approved outcome.

Ukraine is fresh. Focused NATO-involved and with US/UK/EU encouragement, there is well-founded speculation for another military provocation seeking to entrap Russia. That will be the biggest challenge to Trump and Putin: not to pull the trigger over Ukraine.

Not having a Ukrainian conflict would be the best gift we all could have.

BM , Dec 22, 2018 9:35:39 AM | link
I know it isn't true, but seeing this headline written in a MSM American newspaper is simply delicious:
It's official. We lost the Cold War. -- By Dana Milbank
Posted by: vk | Dec 22, 2018 8:04:44 AM | 7

Absolutely hilarious - and I'm talking about the garbled babies' bable in the content, not the title! As to the title, it rings true in important respects - but the loss is due to Trump's predesessors, demented neocon savages in his administration, and demented Dem opponents/the media, rather than (substantively) Trump himself. That irony is of course lost on the half-wit hack of this article.

BM , Dec 22, 2018 9:43:31 AM | link
it seems that the British government was prepared well in advance for the sudden attack on Skripal.
Posted by: bevin | Dec 22, 2018 9:33:42 AM | 12

That is a development. Can you give us a link, Bevin?

slit , Dec 22, 2018 11:24:52 AM | link
@Sasha

"money laundering schemes for unconfessable activities" ZeroHedge reports carnage . . . how to launder $21Trillion back into circulation? Watch the war criminals and banksters "find religion" with waves Clinton foundation avatars. (II and Silicon valley troughs just the first few drops)

Lozion , Dec 22, 2018 11:26:40 AM | link
Brett Mcgurk resigns, effective Dec 31st.. :) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/brett-mcgurk-top-u-s-envoy-in-isis-fight-to-quit/
Circe , Dec 22, 2018 12:07:01 PM | link
Lemme resurrect this article from the past to impress on all Trump suckers just how Machiavellian he really is. Trump's Syria scam Sooo, while MbS is securing or rather wreaking havoc on one front, Trump can free up for the biggest target of all. IRAN. Now you know why Trump was protecting MbSs ass! And don't think Netanyahoo wasn't in on Trump's game! Boy I hate to say told ya so again! Throw away the Trump juice already! Sheesh, I hope you're finally awake.
Circe , Dec 22, 2018 12:10:34 PM | link
That post was meant for Syria thread. News is breaking that MbS is deploying troops into Syria to take over for U.S.
spudski , Dec 22, 2018 12:23:34 PM | link
Great interview with Michael Hudson at https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/12/michael-hudson-the-vocabulary-of-economic-deception.html
lysias , Dec 22, 2018 12:51:08 PM | link
Saudi Arabia's military is worthless, as they have shown in Yemen.
steven t johnson , Dec 22, 2018 1:41:28 PM | link
Distracted by the timing of the call from Erdogan, I forgot how the US used ISIS (as it was then) against al-Maliki. They're not too keen on Abdul-Mahdi today, nor do I think they are so pleased the IRG has had its wings clipped. Turkey's army doesn't equal Erdogan's megalomania, but it can certainly keep YPG occupied. US withdrawal doesn't just give Erdogan a greenlight, but what's left of ISIS as well.

What it does not signify is the slightest respect for the autonomy of the Syrian secular national government, nor for its sovereign rights to make alliance with Russia and Iran in an existential conflict.

Ort , Dec 22, 2018 2:28:28 PM | link
Merry Christmas to B. and the MOA barflies, if it ain't out o' keepin' with the situation.

♪ O, Bernhard, O Bernhard
Wie treu sind deine Blogeintrδge! ♪

so , Dec 22, 2018 3:15:33 PM | link
Screw the news. We want recipes!
slit , Dec 22, 2018 3:51:28 PM | link

les7 , Dec 22, 2018 4:09:16 PM | link
B: thanks for the excellent posts recently.

Back when the SAA took Deir Ezzour many expected immediate confrontation with the US/SDF forces east of the Euphrates.

I suggested at the time there would be a delay while the SAA consolidated the desert, the Golan and the southern border first. I stated that the key indicator the SAA would be ready to reclaim the area east of the Euphrates would be the stationing of the S300 in Deir

uncle tungsten , Dec 22, 2018 4:10:15 PM | link
Thank you b for a great year of informed writing and thanks to all you comrade barflies for your harmonious buzzing and supportive research and surmises. I have been spreading some xmas cheer to the USA audiences celebrating the resignation of the man who stood on top of the $21trillion waste heap. Its just my idea of bringing the message home.

Barflies rule!!

les7 , Dec 22, 2018 4:15:23 PM | link
B: My read of the current situation is that Russia must avoid an obvious triumph- the Ukraine will be used against it if there is too much publicity given to Russian or Syrian success. Instead a low key ground confrontation beteeen the SAA and SDF will proceed while a lot to PR focuses on autonomy talks and the drafting of the Syrian constitution.
les7 , Dec 22, 2018 4:18:20 PM | link
B: Should Kurdish arms need twisting the Turkish army will conduct incursions. I expect a long drawn out process - again the issue is to downplay Russian success

With the US forces out of the area I would not be surprised to see Putin invite Trump to be part of the Astana process.

karlof1 , Dec 22, 2018 8:14:50 PM | link
A rather ironic and extremely telling observation :

"How many senior American government officials resigned from their posts when Iraq's invasion and bombing of Libya campaigns were announced? "That's right, nobody, God forbid Trump ends a conflict, all hell breaks loose."

I recall a few minor officials resigning in 2003, but nobody "senior."

[Dec 22, 2018] Did Trump have thrown Erdogan in a trap

Dec 22, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

virgile , Dec 22, 2018 9:43:50 AM | link

< Trump has thrown Erdogan in a trap. The Turkish army have been highly Islamized since the coup. They would fight without hesitation on the more liberal YPG than then would dare to confront ISIS.>

Until now Erdogan has been avoided confronting ISIS and other Islamist groups. He left the task to the US, the Kurds, the Shia militias, the Russians and the Russian army. He failed to expel the Islamist miliatias in the Edlib buffer zone because they are too close to him ideologically.

He now made a promise to Trump to take care of ISIS and got a green light to crush the Syrian Kurds and invade their land.

The Russians and the Syrians are eager to finish them off in Edlib, but could not proceed for fear of a human disaster. The left the task to Erdogan.

Now they have the choice, either wait and see if Erdogan is able to deal with them without the support of the USA, or get the Kurds to join the Syrian army and invade Edlib, Afrin etc... thus kicking out the Turks, the FSA and ISIS.

Erdogan is counting on the fact that ISIS may not get financial support anymore from Saudi Arabia and thus will be ready to compromise without fighting.

Erdogan is in a bind, if he shows sign of failure in dealing with Islamist militias in Edlib then Iran, Russia and Syria will move on in Edlib and confront the Turks and their allies. That is what Bashar al Assad wants: kick out the Turks and the FSA. Is Trump trying to weaken Erdogan before the overdue pPalestinian plan is announced?

[Dec 22, 2018] Fallout Of Trump's Syria Withdrawal - Why Erdogan Does Not Want To Invade

Notable quotes:
"... Defense Secretary James "Mad Dog" Mattis resigned from his position effective February 28. He disagreed with the president's decision. It was the second time in five years that an elected commander in chief had a serious conflict with Mattis' hawkishness. President Obama fired him as Central Command chief for urging a more aggressive Iran policy. Mattis is also extremely hawkish towards Russia and China. ..."
"... Mattis is an ingrained imperialist. He always asked for more money for the military and for more meddling abroad. One of Mattis' little notice acts as Defense Secretary was a unannounced change in the mission of the Pentagon : ..."
"... The Pentagon no longer "deters war" but provides "lethal force" to "sustain American influence abroad." There was no public nor congressional debate about the change. I doubt that President Trump agreed to it. Trump will now try to recruit a defense secretary that is more aligned with his own position. ..."
"... Associated Press ..."
"... Trump did not "capitulate". He always wanted to pull the U.S. troops out of Syria. He said so many times. When he was finally given a chance to do so, he grabbed the opportunity. Erdogan though, was not ready for that: ..."
"... Erdogan had planned to only occupy a 10 miles deep strip along the Syrian-Turkish border. Some 15,000 Turkish controlled 'Syrian rebels' stand ready for that. He would need some 50-100,000 troops to occupy all of east Syria northward of the Euphrates. It would be a hostile occupation among well armed Kurds who would oppose it and an Arab population that is not exactly friendly towards a neo-Ottoman Turkey. ..."
"... Any larger occupation of northeast Syria would create a serious mess for Turkey. Its army can do it, but it would cost a lot of casualties and financial resources. Turkey will hold local government election in March and Erdogan does not want any negative headlines. He will invade, but only if Syria and Russia fail to get the Kurds under control. ..."
"... 'The Pentagon's official website now defines its mission this way: "The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide a lethal Joint Force to defend the security of our country and sustain American influence abroad."' ..."
"... '"We had decided last week to launch a military incursion... east of the Euphrates river," he said in a speech in Istanbul'. So much for the UN Charter, then. Anyone who wants to can invade any other country and take over as much of its territory as he wants to - as long as Washington agrees. But, as Saddam Hussein could testify if he were still alive, it would be sensible to get such consent in writing. ..."
"... Macron's forces are illegally present too. Assad would have to request their presence, but I really doubt he will given the harm France has done to Syria over the past 7 years. Word is SAA's Tiger Forces will get sent East of Euphrates; when is now the question. ..."
"... One's got to worry about who will replace Mad Dog Mattis after February 28 next year. It would seem that whoever succeeds Mattis will be another former general, likely to share his views on maintaining and increasing US forces in Syria, Iraq and other parts of western Asia ..."
"... Compared to Mattis, Pompeo and Bolton, and now Nauert at the UN, are raving jingos. Thank Gord they have no ties to the US military. ..."
"... "there also a contingent of 1,100 French troops"... You can hear me laughing after reading this. The French empire was over a long long time ago and they still think that Syria is their colony. France has been sending French Jihadists for regime change in Syria since 2011 and their mission has failed since Russia intervened in 2015. France cannot even send troops to Mali - destabilized by Jihadists created by France in Libya to topple Kadhafi, without the help of the US!!! France is a de-facto vassal state of the US since they decided to joined the NATO central command under Sarkozy who was bribed by the zionist neocons. ..."
"... I personally distinguish between Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria and his move to withdraw partially from Afghanistan. The latter is a step towards ending a brutal, illegal NATO occupation war of over 17 years. The former is also illegal but the Syrian Kurds (left wing and largely communist) are likely to be supplanted as counters to "Iran" by fascists Turkey and Israel (this has been confirmed in reports), so we're moving from tactical NATO proxies to actual NATO governments seizing Syrian land. ..."
Dec 22, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Fallout Of Trump's Syria Withdrawal - Why Erdogan Does Not Want To Invade uuu , Dec 21, 2018 1:37:31 PM | link

President Trump's strategic decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria creates some significant fallout. The U.S. and international borg is enraged that Trump ends an occupation that is illegal under international as well as U.S. domestic law. "That's un-American!"

Defense Secretary James "Mad Dog" Mattis resigned from his position effective February 28. He disagreed with the president's decision. It was the second time in five years that an elected commander in chief had a serious conflict with Mattis' hawkishness. President Obama fired him as Central Command chief for urging a more aggressive Iran policy. Mattis is also extremely hawkish towards Russia and China.

President Trump campaigned on lessening U.S. involvement in wars abroad. He wants to get reelected. He does not need a Secretary of Defense that involves him in more wars that have little to none defined purpose.

Mattis is an ingrained imperialist. He always asked for more money for the military and for more meddling abroad. One of Mattis' little notice acts as Defense Secretary was a unannounced change in the mission of the Pentagon :

For at least two decades, the Department of Defense has explicitly defined its mission on its website as providing "the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country." But earlier this year, it quietly changed that statement, perhaps suggesting a more ominous approach to national security.
...
The Pentagon's official website now defines its mission this way: "The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide a lethal Joint Force to defend the security of our country and sustain American influence abroad."

The Pentagon no longer "deters war" but provides "lethal force" to "sustain American influence abroad." There was no public nor congressional debate about the change. I doubt that President Trump agreed to it. Trump will now try to recruit a defense secretary that is more aligned with his own position.

The White House also announced that 7,000 of the 14,000 soldier the U.S. has in Afghanistan will withdraw over the next few months. The war in Afghanistan is lost with the Taliban ruling over more than half of the country and the U.S. supported government forces losing more personal than they can recruit. It was Mattis who had urged Trump to increase the troop numbers in Afghanistan from 10,000 to 14,000 at the beginning of his term. There are also 8,000 NATO and allied troops in Afghanistan which will likely see a proportional withdrawal.

The Associated Press has a new tic toc of Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria:

Trump stunned his Cabinet, lawmakers and much of the world with the move by rejecting the advice of his top aides and agreeing to a withdrawal in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week, two officials briefed on the matter said.
...
"The talking points were very firm," said one of the officials, explaining that Trump was advised to clearly oppose a Turkish incursion into northern Syria and suggest the U.S. and Turkey work together to address security concerns. "Everybody said push back and try to offer (Turkey) something that's a small win, possibly holding territory on the border, something like that."

Erdogan, though, quickly put Trump on the defensive, reminding him that he had repeatedly said the only reason for U.S. troops to be in Syria was to defeat the Islamic State and that the group had been 99 percent defeated. "Why are you still there?" the second official said Erdogan asked Trump, telling him that the Turks could deal with the remaining IS militants.
...
Erdogan's point, Bolton was forced to admit, had been backed up by Mattis, Pompeo, U.S. special envoy for Syria Jim Jeffrey and special envoy for the anti-ISIS coalition Brett McGurk, who have said that IS retains only 1 percent of its territory, the officials said.
...
Bolton stressed, however, that the entire national security team agreed that victory over IS had to be enduring, which means more than taking away its territory.

Trump was not dissuaded, according to the officials, who said the president quickly capitulated by pledging to withdraw, shocking both Bolton and Erdogan.

Trump did not "capitulate". He always wanted to pull the U.S. troops out of Syria. He said so many times. When he was finally given a chance to do so, he grabbed the opportunity. Erdogan though, was not ready for that:

Caught off guard, Erdogan cautioned Trump against a hasty withdrawal , according to one official. While Turkey has made incursions into Syria in the past, it does not have the necessary forces mobilized on the border to move in and hold the large swaths of northeastern Syria where U.S. troops are positioned , the official said.

The call ended with Trump repeating to Erdogan that the U.S. would pull out , but offering no specifics on how it would be done, the officials said.


bigger

Erdogan had planned to only occupy a 10 miles deep strip along the Syrian-Turkish border. Some 15,000 Turkish controlled 'Syrian rebels' stand ready for that. He would need some 50-100,000 troops to occupy all of east Syria northward of the Euphrates. It would be a hostile occupation among well armed Kurds who would oppose it and an Arab population that is not exactly friendly towards a neo-Ottoman Turkey.

Erdogan knows this well. Today he announced to delay the planned invasion :

"We had decided last week to launch a military incursion... east of the Euphrates river," he said in a speech in Istanbul. "Our phone call with President Trump, along with contacts between our diplomats and security officials and statements by the United States, have led us to wait a little longer.

"We have postponed our military operation against the east of the Euphrates river until we see on the ground the result of America's decision to withdraw from Syria."

The Turkish president said, however, that this was not an "open-ended waiting period".

Any larger occupation of northeast Syria would create a serious mess for Turkey. Its army can do it, but it would cost a lot of casualties and financial resources. Turkey will hold local government election in March and Erdogan does not want any negative headlines. He will invade, but only if Syria and Russia fail to get the Kurds under control.

Unfortunately the leaders of the anarcho-marxist PKK/YPK in Syria have still not learned their lesson. They make the same demands to Damascus that were already rejected when similar demands were made for Afrin canton before Turkey invaded and destroyed it.

agitpapa @agitpapa 11:14 utc - 21 Dec 2018
YPG delegation was flown in to Mezzeh yday. Negos were inconclusive because they just repeated their usual line of "SAA protects the border, we control the rest." No army allows someone else allied with an enemy to control its rear and its supply lines. +
+ The YPG leadership is still stuck in its pro-Western rut. It needs to be purged before any deal can be made with Damascus. Their present track will just lead to another Afrin, then another, then another. Thousands of brave YPG/YPJ fighters will have died for nothing.
Elijah J. Magnier @ejmalrai - 16:31 utc - 21 Dec 2018
#Breakingnews: Private sources : President Bashar al Assad has rejected the Kurdish proposal while Turkey is gathering forces (Euphrates Shield et al) to attack the Kurdish controlled area north of #Syria. #Russia seems holding back president Erdogan for a while. A lot of pressure

It is not (only) Russia that is holding Erdogan back. As seen above he has serious concerns about such an operation. Moreover, he does not have enough troops yet and the U.S. troops have not yet changed their pattern. As of today they still patrolled on the Turkish border and yesterday new U.S. war material was still coming in from Iraq. Erdogan does not dare to attack U.S. troops.

He will most likely want to avoid any additional military involvement in Syria. If Damascus and Moscow can get the PKK under control, Ankara will be satisfied.

Besides the presence of 4,000 to 5,000 U.S. troops and contractors in northeast Syria there also a contingent of 1,100 French troops and an unknown number of British forces. France for now says it wants to stay to finish the fight against the Islamic State enclave along the Euphrates.

But France does not have the capability to sustain those forces without U.S. support. Syria and Russia could ask Macron to put them under their command to finish the fight against ISIS, but it is doubtful that President Macron would agree to that. It is more likely that he will agree to a handover of their position to Russian, Syrian or even Iraqi or Iranian forces. Those forces can then finish the fight.

Posted by b on December 21, 2018 at 01:09 PM | Permalink

Comments next page " Some of the conclusions toward the end of this article don't entirely make sense to me. Trump is withdrawing 2000-4000 US troops. Why does it follow that their absence would create a space requiring 50000 Turkish troops to fill? I don't see how occupation of the entire eastern would be under consideration at all.

As far as IS is concerned, their defeat will be "enduring" when their sponsors stop paying them, first of all.


Guy Thornton , Dec 21, 2018 1:38:25 PM | link

Mattis comes across to me as a psycho case of a suppressed faggot who has spent his life trying to disprove and conceal the blatantly obvious. There we go...fairly succinct analysis.
Tobin Paz , Dec 21, 2018 1:44:44 PM | link
The neo-liberal meltdown is astonishing, it's like the Iraq war never happened: James Mattis Is a War Criminal: I Experienced His Attack on Fallujah Firsthand
More importantly, Mattis, known to some by the nickname of "Mad Dog," has shown a callous disregard for human life, particularly civilians, as evidenced by his behavior leading marines in Iraq, comments he made about enjoying fighting in Afghanistan because "it's fun to shoot some people. You know, it's a hell of a hoot," and myriad other problems.
...
While reporting from inside Fallujah during that siege, I personally witnessed women, children, elderly people and ambulances being targeted by US snipers under Mattis' command. Needless to say, all of these are war crimes.
Russ , Dec 21, 2018 1:46:37 PM | link
For at least two decades, the Department of Defense has explicitly defined its mission on its website as providing "the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country." But earlier this year, it quietly changed that statement, perhaps suggesting a more ominous approach to national security.
...
The Pentagon's official website now defines its mission this way: "The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide a lethal Joint Force to defend the security of our country and sustain American influence abroad."

At least Mattis is more honest than most of his fellow psychopath war criminals.

If the AP account is factually accurate (i.e. leaving aside the tendentious pro-imperial, pro-war editorializing), then it's funny how fast Erdogan goes from "What are you doing here? Why don't you leave?" to "I didn't mean now!" He was probably angling for something else and didn't really want US withdrawal.

As for the French, what a contemptible squeak from a government on the ropes trying to look tough.

Never Mind the Bollocks , Dec 21, 2018 1:48:37 PM | link
It's the US imperialism that has been defeated in Syria, but it's now gathering forces to go after Iran
Sally Snyder , Dec 21, 2018 1:49:03 PM | link
Here is a look at how the United States is putting a mechanism in place that will increase its ability to sell arms around the world:

https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2018/11/american-international-arms-sales-and.html

The hawks in Washington need not worry, there will be plenty of war to go around.

Tom Welsh , Dec 21, 2018 1:52:40 PM | link
'The Pentagon's official website now defines its mission this way: "The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide a lethal Joint Force to defend the security of our country and sustain American influence abroad."'

I wonder whether, perchance, the Chief Executive and Commander in Chief should have been consulted about that. Traditionally, US Presidents have had some considerable say in defining the country's foreign policy.

Although one could interpret the change as being wholly in tune with Mr Trump's overriding policy of transparent honesty. After all, as long ago as 1900 - on the evidence of Marin Major-General Smedley Butler - we know that the US armed forces were used almost exclusively to promote American interests abroad. Maybe it's just refreshingly open to admit it at last.

Tom Welsh , Dec 21, 2018 1:54:45 PM | link
"Trump stunned his Cabinet, lawmakers and much of the world with the move by rejecting the advice of his top aides..." Please remind me: who was elected in 2016 - Mr Trump, or "his top aides"?
lysias , Dec 21, 2018 1:54:56 PM | link
When David Ignatius reported that Mattis's bedtime reading was Marcus Aurelius in the original Latin, who was responsible for the mistake? (Marcus Aurelius wrote in Greek.) Ignatius, an aide of Mattis's, or Mattis himself?
Tom Welsh , Dec 21, 2018 1:57:50 PM | link
"While Turkey has made incursions into Syria in the past, it does not have the necessary forces mobilized on the border to move in and hold the large swaths of northeastern Syria where U.S. troops are positioned, the official said".

Splendid! Let them hand it back to the lawfully elected democratic government of Syria, then.

Tom Welsh , Dec 21, 2018 2:00:51 PM | link
'"We had decided last week to launch a military incursion... east of the Euphrates river," he said in a speech in Istanbul'. So much for the UN Charter, then. Anyone who wants to can invade any other country and take over as much of its territory as he wants to - as long as Washington agrees. But, as Saddam Hussein could testify if he were still alive, it would be sensible to get such consent in writing.
james , Dec 21, 2018 2:14:27 PM | link
thanks b... who replaces the war criminal mattis? and when does any american get charged in the hague for the countless wars they start? how long do we have to wait for this to happen? the fact he changed the wording is at least more honest, so i give him credit for that... he could have said 'we are the worlds policeman, and we will continue to be the worlds policeman too' which would have been equally appropriate...

one thing i do like about trump is his ability to surprise... he could have done this earlier in his term - pull out of syria - but i guess he was waiting to see how things went... as it stands i think the knifes are out for trump big time now, and i suspect he is not going to last as president.. someone else mentioned this on the previous thread, and i agree with that assessment..

at some point in the next month, it is going to look different if USA follows thru with the commanders new position... meanwhile Russia has to continue to keep turkey on a leash and Syria, Russia and Iran have to continue to work at regaining the area east of the Euphrates as this unfolds... the leadership in France at this point are loony... the smart thing for them would be to leave or hand it over to syria/ russia...

karlof1 , Dec 21, 2018 2:21:14 PM | link
Macron's forces are illegally present too. Assad would have to request their presence, but I really doubt he will given the harm France has done to Syria over the past 7 years. Word is SAA's Tiger Forces will get sent East of Euphrates; when is now the question.

Rolling-back the Outlaw US Empire's overseas troop deployments and shuttering their bases is something I've argued for since I was honorably discharged in 1985, with the monies turned to desperate domestic needs -- the financial statement may declare the USA the world's richest nation, but reality tells a very different story. That reality got Trump elected. The haphazard, laissez-faire, unplanned structural nature of the USA's economy is in no way prepared for the rising technological revolution, which is in stark contrast to China and Russia's plans. The most important message Putin delivered in his annual meeting yesterday was about the whys and hows of changing the structure of Russia's economy:

"I have said it on numerous occasions, and I will repeat it today. We need a breakthrough. We need to transition to a new technological paradigm. Without it, the country has no future . This is a matter of principle, and we have to be clear on this....

" Healthcare, education, research and human capital come first, since without them there is no way a breakthrough can be achieved . The second vector deals with manufacturing and the economy. Of course, everything is related to the economy, including the first part. But the second part is directly linked to the economy, since it deals with the digital economy, robotics, etc. I have already mentioned infrastructure....

"But we will not be able to achieve the GDP growth rates necessary for this breakthrough unless the structure of the economy is changed. This is what the national projects are aimed at, and why such enormous funds will be invested, which I have already said – to change the structure and build an innovation-based economy . The Government is counting on this, because if this happens, and we should all work towards this, then the growth rates will increase and there will be other opportunities for development." [My Emphasis]

200 million residents of the USA--2/3s of the populous--also need a breakthrough, which is why the Green New Deal has such widespread support : "The survey results show overwhelming support for the Green New Deal, with 81% of registered voters saying they either 'strongly support' (40%) or 'somewhat support' (41%) this plan." IMO, domestic political pressure generally supports Trump's MAGA, but the monies need to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is from the Outlaw US Empire part of the USA.

lysias , Dec 21, 2018 2:25:14 PM | link
It was only a couple of years after de Gaulle returned to power in 1958 that it became clear that he was going to pull out of Algeria.
Jen , Dec 21, 2018 2:36:37 PM | link
One's got to worry about who will replace Mad Dog Mattis after February 28 next year. It would seem that whoever succeeds Mattis will be another former general, likely to share his views on maintaining and increasing US forces in Syria, Iraq and other parts of western Asia where they're despised by the local people, and perhaps not averse to sounding out good ol' Erik Prince to fill the vacancies left when US troops start leaving.

Krishnadev Calamur, "Four People Who Could Be the Next Defense Secretary" https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/578809/ Good God, not David Petraeus!

CD Waller , Dec 21, 2018 2:51:41 PM | link
Tom Welsh. It's my understanding that the Constitution states that foreign policy IS the job of the President. This Congress doesn't seem to have gotten the memo and though strictly a legislative body, have engaged in some pretty spectacular over reach.

The Constitution also puts an elected civilian (the President) in charge of the armed forces but put the power to declare war firmly in the hands of Congress.

The 1973 War Powers act has obscured this division of power. The President can order troops anywhere for a short time but must get an Authorization for Military Force from Congress. However, this is supposed to only in the case of attack or imminent danger, hardly the case in the ME.
Time limits on AFMF are often ignored and Congressional! purse strings almost never limit (exception: at the end of Viet Nam Congress was about to cut funding) any and all military adventurism.

Don Bacon , Dec 21, 2018 2:52:31 PM | link
@ karlof1 14
Healthcare, education, research and human capital come first, since without them there is no way a breakthrough can be achieved.

It would seem to me that if US politicians really cared about their job performance they would be working more on your "human capital" and less on warfare and Russian collusion. But there's no money in that, so they don't. So much for "democracy." Here's a recent article on a US achieved "breakthrough," in a negative sense that is.

WaPo, Nov 29

Life expectancy in the United States declined again in 2017, the government said Thursday in a bleak series of reports that showed a nation still in the grip of escalating drug and suicide crises.

The data continued the longest sustained decline in expected life span at birth in a century, an appalling performance not seen in the United States since 1915 through 1918. That four-year period included World War I and a flu pandemic that killed 675,000 people in the United States and perhaps 50 million worldwide.

Public health and demographic experts reacted with alarm to the release of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's annual statistics, which are considered a reliable barometer of a society's health. In most developed nations, life expectancy has marched steadily upward for decades. . . here

Kevin J Quinn , Dec 21, 2018 2:53:40 PM | link
Compared to Mattis, Pompeo and Bolton, and now Nauert at the UN, are raving jingos. Thank Gord they have no ties to the US military.
uncle tungsten , Dec 21, 2018 3:02:58 PM | link
Mattis could not, would not accept responsibility for the misappropriated 21 trillion dollars at HIS defence department. Kick him out. He was always a moron and demonstrated his arrogant dismissal of the elected president almost every day. $21 trillion buys a lot of MAGA.
ConfusedPundit , Dec 21, 2018 3:05:43 PM | link
Kurdish population in Syria is only 5% whereas the land they now control is 30% of the country thanks to the democratic EUSA nations?

They can no longer feed the ISIS inmates (they'll end up in France or Germany or elsewhere undertaking new projects?) since Khashoggi case (or Mr. Erdogan who caught the Saudis by their balls) made Saudis quit financing the YPG. Almost all ISIS inmates left in Syria are from abroad (they had been released from Libyan, Afghan, Iraqi prisons en mass at the beginning of the war and are ready for relocation?

Will the globalists controlled China arrive to rebuild what the US demolitionmen destroyed in Syria?

Who founded (USrael?) ISIS and made them lose water and oil rich territories in Syria to the PKK/YPG/SDF and what are they planning to do now?

Hoarsewhisperer , Dec 21, 2018 3:09:39 PM | link
It'd be funny if Trump appointed Tulsi Gabbard to the post of DefSec. I don't know much about her except that she's definitely very cute and probably isn't a pushover. If the glowing praise of her MoA fans is any guide then she'd do a better job than any recent appointment to the role and would then become a shoe-in for POTUS. If that came to pass then 'Hillary Who?' would become part of America's Permanent Lexicon.
karlof1 , Dec 21, 2018 3:26:44 PM | link
Don Bacon @18--

Thanks for your reply! Yes, the financialization and industrial hollowing-out of the USA's economy renders following the path being broken by Russia/China very difficult, but the projected outcome will be dire if the economy isn't radically restructured and the fake economists and their financial predators aren't driven from the Temple by modern Tribunes.

Meanwhile, shrouded by the Trump/Mattis circus, Turkey & Iran held an "historic summit" that likely had an impact on Trump's decision as everywhere he looks his previous foreign policy choices driven by his neocon advisors are mostly backfiring.

Robert Snefjella , Dec 21, 2018 3:35:04 PM | link
Re US president and foreign policy:

The language of the US Constitution gives the President the power to make treaties and choose Ambassadors, in consultation with and with the consent (2/3 majority) of the Senate. Also, President is Commander-in-Chief of the military. This includes state militias if formed. He also receives political figures from abroad.

Like so much else in the US Constitution, there has been creepy or 'necessary' or when it's handy mission creep in regard to these delineated functions.

But more to the point, the US is and has long been a serial de facto repudiator of the US Constitution and of International law. 'Let us discuss the fine points of law pertaining to the repeated launching of wars of aggression on the basis of lies.'

karlof1 , Dec 21, 2018 3:37:58 PM | link
CD Waller @17 and others never having taken a US Civics course--

This essay details how the separation of powers construct works in the formulation of US foreign policy.

Hoarsewhisperer , Dec 21, 2018 3:39:00 PM | link
Forgive the levity but here's Hillary's theme song.

Oh yes I'm the great pretender (ooh ooh)
Pretending that I'm doing well (ooh ooh)
My need is such I pretend too much
I'm lonely but no one can tell.

Oh yes I'm the great pretender (ooh ooh)
Adrift in a world of my own (ooh ooh)
I play the game but to my real shame
You've left me to dream all alone.

Too real is this feeling of make believe
Too real when I feel what my heart can't conceal

Ooh ooh yes I'm the great pretender (ooh ooh)
Just laughing and gay like a clown (ooh ooh)
I seem to be what I'm not (you see)
I'm wearing my heart like a crown
Pretending that I'm still around.
(stiill a rounnd)

michael smith , Dec 21, 2018 3:49:49 PM | link
If the U.S. withdraws its forces from NE Syria who will control the air space. That will likely determine who controls the territory in the future. I don't think the Kurds have an airforce.

mls

financial matters , Dec 21, 2018 4:13:46 PM | link
karlof1 @ 14

"""But we will not be able to achieve the GDP growth rates necessary for this breakthrough unless the structure of the economy is changed. This is what the national projects are aimed at, and why such enormous funds will be invested, which I have already said – to change the structure and build an innovation-based economy. The Government is counting on this, because if this happens, and we should all work towards this, then the growth rates will increase and there will be other opportunities for development."""

Similar sentiments are expressed by Rhiana Gunn-Wright.

After Sanders lost the Democratic primary in 2016 a group called 'Brand New Congress' formed to carry on his ideas. This morphed into 'Justice Democrats' which helped Ocasio-Cortez get elected. She is serving as a lightning rod giving the Green New Deal popularity.

Rhiana Gunn-Wright is a young energetic and talented policy wonk working for 'New Consensus' which is a spin off of the 'Justice Democrats'.

She is being tasked with forming policy for the Green New Deal.

'Again, the GND is not just climate policy. It's about transforming the economy, lifting up the poor and middle class, and creating a more muscular, active public sector.

The GND "opens an opportunity to renegotiate power relationships between the public sector, the private sector, and the people," says Gunn-Wright. "We are interested in solutions that create more democratic structures in our economy.'

green new deal explained

slit , Dec 21, 2018 4:16:39 PM | link
Thanks to b for stellar continued coverage!

$21 Trillion + "interests abroad" DoD mission creep
>>
Silicon Valley hot air equity ($150,000 starting salaries for fresh graduates) on cash flow only digital assetts
+ offshore oligarch accounts (kkr et al)

I found it helpful to take stock of reported conditions surrounding the troops out move:

* ksa reportedly going bankrupt
* ksa reneges on golden glow globe sword dance MIC mou-s
* failed israeli missile attempt to start wwiii & ensuing s300 reinforcements
* kashoggi and related muslim brotherhood entanglements
* clinton foundation in DC "hearings" censored by msm
* continued censorship of Awan bros Blackberry scandal (espionage?)
* Cricket hero Khan batting for Pakistan
* Huawei affair
* Bibi & family corruption scandal

Trump has a keen eye for ratings, and surely knows giving the deplorables (private contractors, self employeds etc) trying to rub two pennies together gasoline under $3/gallon in the holiday season will mean much more to the public than Cnn Russiagate drivel working people have no time for anyway. Keeping armed forces rank and file happy and re purposing for disaster relief would be a good move.

Karlof1 is correct to make the most of the narrative. Glad b is on it. Hope troops arent cleared for nuclear Armeggedon!

Josh , Dec 21, 2018 4:23:57 PM | link
@mls The US currently does not control Syrian airspace. The Russians do, ever since they switched from using the existing old Syrian S200 to the current advanced model S300, after the downing of their plane by the Israeli interference.
This was probably another factor that made operating in Syria increasingly problematic and handicapped: options of 'punishing Assad' or bombing mobile Iranian units were limited if they didn't want to coordinate with the Russians.
The Syrians now have to amass a large contingent to 'control' the Kurdish area; likely the Russians will be go-between to lower Kurdish demands as well as placate the SAA and achieve some kind of tense co-existence which can keep Turkey satisfied.
Interesting to see how Syria will handle both wanting to mop up Idlib as well as re-establish control over the North-East and its oil wells.
Noirette , Dec 21, 2018 4:29:57 PM | link
I read that Trump did not inform Netanyahu of the USA's Syria 'withdrawal' until about an hour before it was made public via tweet. Five mins! according to another article. Also, that Trump did discuss it with B.N. several days before (Haaretz), that sounded like a smoothing over. Another article claimed that it was Pompeo who clued in Israel a short while before. So who knows?

Right from the first time they met, Bibi was terrified of Trump, though I could not find one telling vid. I saw.

Feb. 15 2017.

Trump today said that he is keeping his options open about how best to reach a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian situation but urged Israel to hold back on settlement building in occupied territories.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmfseeZt5fA

President Trump veered from years of U.S. policy in the Middle East by backing off the "two-state solution," as the only path to peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

https://youtu.be/Wf-3916zpGA

One article stated that Macron and Merkel learnt of the 'withdrawal' from the media! I have noted that Macron is always very 'late' and 'behind the times' as far as the US is concerned, obviously the F 'info' services have no clue, or he isn't kept informed, etc.

Not that there will be consequent 'fall-out' from either, for the moment. (Israel can only go along, and the EU has more serious stuff on its plate.)

Pnyx , Dec 21, 2018 4:39:59 PM | link
"If Damascus and Moscow can get the PKK under control, Ankara will be satisfied."
Well - let's hope Allah (or whoever) will enlighten Erdo...
steve , Dec 21, 2018 4:42:14 PM | link
First President since JFK to say no to the CIA. Lets see that SITRAP
Kadath , Dec 21, 2018 4:42:18 PM | link
Re: #3 Tobin Pa,


Yes, it's dispiriting, but not surprising that the anti-war "Left" movement has almost totally dissolved following their failure to prevent the Iraq war. As a deeply cynical person I'm certain that Hillary and the Clintonites worked behind the scenes in the DNC to undermine the Anti-war movement in expectation of her eventual 2008 & 2016 runs, since she and Bill supported the Iraq war and were no shrinking violets when it came to the use of military force in furtherance of their foreign policy goals. The consequence of destroying the Anti-war movement with the Democratic Party is that they have become a defacto Pro-war party even in situations where the use of the military is blatantly illegal, futile and against the National interest (since there is no organized Anti-war movement articulating why they should not go to war/use military force to stand against the Military Industrial Complex that is constantly advocating for more war). Hilariously, by becoming a Pro-war Party when the American people are increasingly tired of constant warfare the Democratic Party lost the 2016 election to a mildly anti-war Trump, who will most likely be re-elected (unless he is impeached or assassinated). In the long-term, unless the DNC faces up to the 30 years of disastrous Clinton mismanagement and corruption and cleans house, I could certainty see the Democratic Party collapsing over the next 15 years just like how the Labour Party in the UK is still struggling with the legacy of Tony Blair.

What's really galling to me though is watching all these so called "liberals" (Cher, Beth Midler, Rachael "Mad Cow" Maddow & Mia Farrow) whine about how the US should never leave Syria and stay there indefinitely; Are they or their children going to be fighting this war? Who gave the US such authority take seize parts of Syria? What exactly is the benefit to the US & her people in doing all of this? How many hundreds of thousands people (mostly Syrians) need to die for this ill-defined goal of spiting Syria & Russia? Just like the destruction of the Anti-war left in the Democratic Party had long term consequences, people will remember how Hollywood liberals behaved like jabbering, ignorant, warmongering ideologues during this period of US decline and it will cause profound damage to them and their professed causes.

stonebird , Dec 21, 2018 4:48:40 PM | link
KarlofI@14 and Fin Matters @33

Nice thoughts, but I don't think you have the time.
"Worst December since the great depression"
Just look at the pictures (charts), and scroll down.
https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-12-21/fear-reaches-most-extreme-ever-traders-see-panic-air
....
Trump has a tactic of "giving people what they ask for" (eg Jerusalem). Just to break a deadlock. This Syria gambit seems to be something of the same as Erdogan now gets what he has been asking for - and finds he doesn't want it yet.

I still think that there will be a continued US presence in Syria, concentrated around the Oil sources. The Agricultural lands further north were owned by "Arabic", Christian, Yadizi and other various tribes and ethnies. The Kurds only made up a small portion.
One reason that Trump may have decided to throw the Kurds to the wolves, is that they were overstretched, and not motivated enough to continue to be cannon fodder for Uncle Sam. The SDF (Which incorporates some turncoat ISIS members, which partly explains why there has only been slow "progress" against the last ISIS enclave in Eastern Syria, brother against ex-brother), also contains foreign mercenaries from various sources. What they will "demand" is open to question. The tribal forces in the SAA who are directly opposite contain members of the Shaitah, who saw 700 of their women and children massacred by ISIS. They may want their own land back too, as well as "payback".

The other reason for Trump to act now is that Flynn has been given three months in which to change his guilty "plea". After which, Mueller will HAVE TO provide proof, and not just accusations and people that have been blackmailed into "plea deals". Trump doesn't have too much time left for subtle tweet-tweets before the Dems arrive. etc (big topic by itself)

.... By the way, OT; Butina was really "brain-washed". 67 days in solitary confinement with all the recognised means of brainwashing used on her. Assault (including sexual) sleep deprivation, continued stress (including randomly timed "strip searches") probably lighting either permanently on or randomly used to destroy time awareness. There are other methods to be included, and at a "key" break point, a "counsellor/handler will whisper sweet nothings in hear ear to control her way of thinking ( I am NOT a specialist in Brainwashing, but the outline of what she suffered, means that she will always repeat what she has been told to say.) Real Brainwashing from the cold war era .

Red Ryder , Dec 21, 2018 5:09:03 PM | link
b's statement regarding Turkey: "Its army can do it, but it would cost a lot of casualties and financial resources."

During the entire war, Turkey's army has done not so much and not so well. Manbij, Afrin, and where else? Well before the US presence with bases, the Turks could not hold their border region from the Kurds.

They cannot impact deep anywhere. Their AF is not even as effective as Syria's, yet it is a much better, more advanced arm of the military. It's special forces?

They are used to doing what NATO and US troops do. They murder civilians and massacre opposition. They did little against ISIS which was a very fierce, mobile and effective military.

They do have logistical advantage and can move heavy weapons for a siege. But they are a set piece land force.

The Kurds also are quite overrated.

Erdogan knows that the notion of him holding the East is a pipedream. His FSA allies are the weakest lot in Syria.
His real fighters are those in Idlib, al Nusra and the Uyghurs.

If he intends to hold land the US has marked out in the North-east and East, he will have to move the headchoppers.
The Russians will annihilate them if they cross the zones in Idlib.

With the US vacuum the Syrians, Hezbollah, Quds, Iranian militias and the Russians will complete the war.

The French and Brits say they are staying. They should write their Last Will letters. They will be shot out of the sky and incinerated on the ground. Folly.

The pullouts from Syria and Afghanistan are severe blows to NATO as hegemonic shock troops.
This time next year we will hear and see how Russia won and NATO is gone from Eurasia.

This is also an object lesson to those nations on Russia's periphery who are flirting with the US, EU and NATO. Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan will have to recalculate.


Grieved , Dec 21, 2018 5:14:15 PM | link
@b

I think we will see many more updates such as this one, showing us who's pushing back, who's wavering, and who's simply blowing hot air. I could wish for better sources of the back story than AP and Reuters, but we must wait for better analysis I think. I'm sure I'll see it here first - thanks for your continued vigilance.

Meanwhile my guesses are that Trump holds the longest knife and will prevail in this course. And that Erdogan is not faltering as the Reuters report implies, but is simply letting players and forces adjust to the new situation. And that, regardless of the details on the ground, the US flag has been struck in Syria, irreversibly. This is a geopolitical milestone, and everything now changes from this.

mls , Dec 21, 2018 5:17:11 PM | link
@35 It has been my understanding that while the Russian forces have stepped up their air defense systems the Americans still fly freely to the north-east of the Euphrates and have not hesitated to attack SAA forces who came close to their proxies on the ground, as well as attacking the SAA when they moved toward the U.S. base at al-Tanf. If the U.S. really does evacuate their troops it will be interesting to see if they discontinue their air movements over the eastern bank of the Euphrates. mls
Sasha , Dec 21, 2018 5:19:12 PM | link
Almost all ISIS inmates left in Syria are from abroad (they had been released from Libyan, Afghan, Iraqi prisons en mass at the beginning of the war and are ready for relocation?

Who founded (USrael?) ISIS and made them lose water and oil rich territories in Syria to the PKK/YPG/SDF and what are they planning to do now?

Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Dec 21, 2018 3:05:43 PM | 23

Terrorice Europe?

Two Scandinavian backpackers hacked to death in Morocco, mother spammed with gruesome images

Sasha , Dec 21, 2018 5:35:59 PM | link
But how this "withdrawal" holds when new equipment is arriving to US bases in Syria?

US reinforces new base in Syria despite announcement of withdrawal

Schmoe , Dec 21, 2018 5:40:34 PM | link
@ Kadath 39
As respects Rachel Mad Cow,MSNBC has been reading from the neo-con playbook for several years now. Pre-Iraq War,Chris Matthews was vehemently against it, but in my limited recent viewership they are silent on Syria in general. They did however have a one hour special by Richard Engle which was essentially an hour of showing the carnage and saying "look what Assad did". It was even more absurd than Fox's islamaphobic specials they ran a few times. Truly pathetic and it feels like MSNBC is hewing to the HRC model "of no one can criticize me fro the right on "national security".
james , Dec 21, 2018 5:41:33 PM | link
emptywheel is suggesting tom cotton as a replacement for mattis.. this is the first time i can recall ew
james , Dec 21, 2018 5:43:43 PM | link
my comment was chopped off... first time i can recall ew writing on foreign policy! at any rate, skip the ew comment section, as the folks at ew can completely in denial about the role the democrats have played in bringing the usa to this point in time... read @35 kadath post for greater clarity on that...
BRF , Dec 21, 2018 5:50:37 PM | link
Too many "old men who think in terms of nation states and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There is only the Federal Reserve, the BIS, IMF, WB, WTO and an entourage of multinational corporations all inextricably inter associated." as redux of Ned Beatty's soliloquy from the film Network.

These pesky wars, as one front of many fronts, are getting in the way of NWO timing. The world's major central banks are now involved in quantitative tightening and much of the liquidity that was handed out as loans will now disappear and the debt trap will now be sprung on many 'nation states' as it was in Greece. Turkey's major industries owe about 300 Billion. This while the Lira drops ever lower in relation to the Fed Reserve Note, euphemistically the USD, and will be hard pressed to pay back the less abundant, higher valued amounts at the higher interest rates of the FRN's borrowed. War, with very real deaths, continues but on another front and Trump as the front figure is the main conductor of this coming war.

Piotr Berman , Dec 21, 2018 5:51:32 PM | link
When David Ignatius reported that Mattis's bedtime reading was Marcus Aurelius in the original Latin, who was responsible for the mistake? (Marcus Aurelius wrote in Greek.) Ignatius, an aide of Mattis's, or Mattis himself?

Posted by: lysias | Dec 21, 2018 1:54:56 PM | 9

Explanation from an aide of Mattis: the General purchased the volume while visiting Latin America, so he always assumed that it is in Latin.

Sasha , Dec 21, 2018 5:55:53 PM | link
What theis "withdrawal" is about....To continue causing turmoil in Syria so as to impede its rebuilt and return to peaceful normal life...This is why Israel has not said a word....

US pullout from Syria result of secret deal with Turkey, says expert

Lochearn , Dec 21, 2018 6:03:22 PM | link
I have been away in the Scottish wilderness for a while, cut off from everything, so it with somewhat jaded joy that I come back to stunning news from this unfailingly brilliant place to hear the latest (US getting out of Syria, Mattis out, Macron on fire, Britain in an existential crisis the like of which I have neither seen nor read about).

Like a schoolkid who has absented themselves I venture back into the classroom to take my little seat, all the while carrying with me audio of howling winds and the low whistle of a friend who came to visit, an Irish instrument that so resembles native American flutes. In this Highland cabin I filled the stove with ash and oak and beech, listened to the haunting sound of the low whistle and drank whisky as I watched the snow drift down.

Sasha , Dec 21, 2018 6:12:53 PM | link
The SDF (Which incorporates some turncoat ISIS members, which partly explains why there has only been slow "progress" against the last ISIS enclave in Eastern Syria, brother against ex-brother), also contains foreign mercenaries from various sources.

Posted by: stonebird | Dec 21, 2018 4:48:40 PM | 40

This is why they wear masks/balaclavas....the same way they used to do on Iraq....

US-supported militias in eastern Syria take Hayin

Peter Grafström , Dec 21, 2018 6:14:19 PM | link
Josh on #35 hints at an explanation for Trumps action which is confirmed by a romanian military expert in the article http://www.voltairenet.org/article204433.html
Assuming that analysis is correct, Trumps military associates like Mattis must have known but was apparently more willing to risk american casualties.
Pft , Dec 21, 2018 6:49:31 PM | link
So the past 2 years of bombing and support for bombing and special forces operations in Syria, Yemen, Africa, Afghanistan and of course the ongoing genocide of the Palestinians in Israel is blamed on Trumps aids, all of whom he hired.

Whenever something positive comes out (and Trump has said he was done in Syria before only to be followed later by a barrage of missiles due to outrage over the poor babies killed in the CW attack blamed on Assad) its presented as Trump heroically goes against his aids advice and does right.

This is a common theme in MSM and almost all of the alt media now. Trumps swamp included Bolton, Barr, Devos, Pompeo, Mnuchkin, Acosta, Haspel, Ross, Mulvaney, Kushner, Pruit, Mattis. Blame them instead of the guy who hired them and has authority over them. Right.

Piotr Berman , Dec 21, 2018 6:55:08 PM | link
I have been away in the Scottish wilderness for a while, cut off from everything,
Posted by: Lochearn | Dec 21, 2018 6:03:22 PM | 51

I once spent a week in Glen Lyon which is not cut off from anything, there is a paved road (one-lane for two way traffic, only in Scotland!) and Royal Mail operated, but these days young people complain when there is no cell phone reception, there was a land line but our niece was could not send any pics and texts to her boyfriend. Thus she very eagerly joined me for a hike and after ascending 1000 m and getting the view of Loch Tay she immediately texted etc. But something is brewing outside quiet glens: [video of parliamentary session] The defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, says the UK will have 3,500 service personnel on standby 'to support any government department on any contingencies they may need'

Watch the situation, Lochearn, and if needed, run back to the hills.

karlof1 , Dec 21, 2018 7:03:00 PM | link
financial matters @33--

Thanks for your reply with its post-2016 info! I returned to following domestic happenings a few months prior to the 2018 election and was surprised by the gumption of the new Freshman class. There was lots of negative speculation about how AOC would become a sellout, but I'm impressed and added her twitter to my ever lengthening list. The first 2020 polls have appeared with the narrative being Biden over washed up Sanders, but the reality is the opposite. Wife and I had a dinner table discussion about that and related matters last night from the frame of Media Truth from Putin's meeting I posted. There's an ideological divide within the USA; but as AOC notes in this very informative* twitter thread :

"People are starting to realize our issues aren't left and right, but top and bottom.

"And the just solutions will come from the bottom-up."

*--Informative due to the immoral hatred revealed, which unfortunately validates my references to Monopoly philosophy and Zerosumism. Scrooge was tame in comparison.

hopehely , Dec 21, 2018 7:11:55 PM | link
Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 21, 2018 5:51:32 PM | 49

Explanation from an aide of Mattis: the General purchased the volume while visiting Latin America, so he always assumed that it is in Latin.
Or in Latin American...
And it wasn't bedtime reading but bathroom reading.

karlof1 , Dec 21, 2018 7:37:52 PM | link
stonebird @40--

Fortunately, the stock markets are not the economy. Trump campaigned on MAGA; the Green New Deal makes MAGA possible and as the polling I linked to shows is popular across political lines--the people know something must be done. Currently, it's the D Party Old Guard standing in the way doing R Party work. When it comes to the traditional definitions of national security and national interest, Trump was correct to say MAGA is a matter of national security. Too many Trillions have already been wasted, and we within the USA cannot afford any more of those mistakes from the past as the margin for success gets thinner daily. When I compare the directions of China, Russia and USA, the former two are rising by attaining their planned national goals, while the USA drops downward thanks to directionless policy that only supports the greed of the greedy. I know its much better for an individual to be a poor worker in China than a poor worker in the state of Georgia and too many other places--very few opportunities and almost no social support very similar to the Great Depression; but nowadays, you can't even hop a freight to go somewhere else as was possible in the '30s.

Red Ryder , Dec 21, 2018 7:38:55 PM | link
Apparently, Mattis bought the book for the illustrations.

Latin America speaks Spanish and Portuguese not Latin American, which is not a language.
Plus, there are secondary languages of indigenous people, and tertiary languages like German and Italian, Japanese and Chinese as well as English.

From the "story" about Mattis, I think it is laughable. He pretended his whole life to be a Patton.
Read their career stories and it is a joke that Mattis had four-stars, as did Patton.

bjd , Dec 21, 2018 7:42:17 PM | link
The only reading generals do is Macchhiavelli, Von Clausewitz and Superman
O yeah -- and the bible, these days.
karlof1 , Dec 21, 2018 8:25:24 PM | link
Comic Relief courtesy of the UK government :

"UK government refuses to release the documents on its 'counter-disinformation' programme linked to the Integrity Initiative. Because (don't laugh now), it could 'undermine the programme's effectiveness'."

Craig Murray has an update on the affair--all the documents provided by Anonymous have proven genuine.

Jen , Dec 21, 2018 8:45:15 PM | link
Lysias, Piotr B, Hopehely, Red Ryder & others:

Maybe Mattis bought the book for interior decoration. It makes his coffee table look good. What language it's in is irrelevant.

snedly arkus , Dec 21, 2018 8:49:46 PM | link
Where is the evidence of widespread support for a green new deal as pushed by a couple of people here. A poll of 966 people sorted by whether or not they are voters does not mean there is widespread support. As in most polls claiming whatever we do not know the questions that were asked or how they were framed. Thus they could have said "would you be for a new green deal if it energized the economy bringing riches to all and extremely cheap rates on power would you be for it." Until we know the full extent of this poll it's a nothing burger pushing an agenda.
psychohistorian , Dec 21, 2018 9:00:16 PM | link
@ financial matters # 33 with the link to the Green New Deal....thanks

The problem with the GND is that it does not seem to address the underlying fact that private finance makes all investment decisions. If they evolve to understand that, they can do all they want if it is within the public government plans for investment.

If the government controlled finance instead of the private folk I would expect there to be public input to/(control over) investment decisions.....just like the GND folks are pushing for but in a more comprehensive context and manner.

Piotr Berman , Dec 21, 2018 9:02:39 PM | link
The only reading generals do is Macchhiavelli, Von Clausewitz and Superman
O yeah -- and the bible, these days.
Posted by: bjd | Dec 21, 2018 7:42:17 PM | 60

A general slurps macchiato while reading The Prince of Niccolò Machiavelli.

In the history of my country there is a nice episode when one of the main generals was rousing the units before the critical battle that actually went well "In loco, spes in virtute, salus in victoria" - Here, the (only) hope (lies) in bravery, salvation in victory, which quotes Ceasar's De Bello Gallico. . Sadly, while the battle was brilliant, the war was not. Nevertheless, I would recommend Ceasar.

Ceasar was victorious, so he should be balanced with History of the Peloponnesian War of Thucidites. A terrible was in which one side lost terribly, while the other succumbed to hubris, imposed painful domination on all and sundry to be irreversibly defeated one generation after. Woe to the defeated, but the victors should be careful too.

The story of "Woe to the defeated", Vae victis , is interested too. Romans were treated mercilessly by victorious (unmitigated?) Gauls, but then see De Bello Gallico above.

Don Bacon , Dec 21, 2018 9:04:06 PM | link
Five unforgettable quotes by the killer, James Mattis (He will be missed?):
>1. 'It's quite fun to shoot them, you know. It's a hell of a hoot. It's fun to shoot some people.'
>2. 'There are some assholes in the world that just need to be shot.'
>3. 'I come in peace. I didn't bring artillery. But I'm pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I'll kill you all.'
>4. 'Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.'
>5. 'There are some people who think you have to hate them in order to shoot them. I don't think you do.'. . . here

Don't let the door hit ya, Jimbo.
karlof1 , Dec 21, 2018 9:07:15 PM | link
63--

You sound just like an D Party hack doing the work of the R Party. Must pay good.

psychohistorian , Dec 21, 2018 9:10:22 PM | link
I am sure getting tired of entering my personal info each time I post a comment because the remember doesn't work...

@ karlof1 with
"
"UK government refuses to release the documents on its 'counter-disinformation' programme linked to the Integrity Initiative. Because (don't laugh now), it could 'undermine the programme's effectiveness'."
"

They are lying through there teeth. The real problem for them is that some could end up in jail, and rightfully so. We can only hope that they take the City of London down with them.

What is their long term plan for containing the IntegrityNOTInitiative scandal? The house of cards seems to be falling and now is when we hope that the losers love their children enough to not takes us to extinction with their pride.

karlof1 , Dec 21, 2018 9:12:46 PM | link
psychohistorian @64--

It appears more people are aware of such a threat as this article notes . Pelosi's unfortunately a whore of the sort needing pasteurization, along with Feinstein.

karlof1 , Dec 21, 2018 9:17:58 PM | link
Don Bacon @66--

Mattis makes the fictional Hannibal Lecter a Prince of Peace by comparison. The end of February can't come soon enough.

hopehely , Dec 21, 2018 9:31:18 PM | link
Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 21, 2018 9:04:06 PM | 66
Five unforgettable quotes by the killer, James Mattis ...
Yep, the influence of Marcus Aurelius is all over him. Through and through.
True philosopher general indeed.
Pft , Dec 21, 2018 9:35:07 PM | link
The problem with the GND being discussed here is in the Green. Any New Deal that starts with a false premise and bad science is a bad idea IMO.

That said, a New Deal that incorporates Ellen Browns and Edison/Fords ideas on public financing I am all for. Goals should be universal health care, guaranteed income and housing, vast infrastructure projects and alternative energy development. The latter two should be green in the sense of nonpolluting (Co2 is not a pollutant). Jobs are fine but with automation, AI, and robotics lets face it, a world where most people dont work except as a hobby or to live better than others is coming, as my old science teacher predicted with envy over 50 years ago. The neomalthusians and transhumanists have other ideas.

I would also devote massive resources for researching the safety of GMO , vaccines and medicines as well as upgrading climate monitoring and climate research since climate does change and we have so little understanding of it. Climate measurements are indadequate (number of weather stations in US have dropped by a factor of 3 since climate became a thing and quality is a key concern. This research needs to be free of influence from parties having an agenda (political and financial). Good luck with that.

Kooshy , Dec 21, 2018 9:54:32 PM | link
Mattis is a coward, he knows the American efforts in Syria has failed, and will go nowhere. So for him this was a great excuse and a good uportunity to resign and not share the blame for failure of his past advise and insistence to continue a lost effort. Now all the blames for loosing in Syria will go to Trump. The blame game has already started coming out of MSM and the DC swamp (you read sewer).
ben , Dec 21, 2018 9:56:02 PM | link
Seems as though we've heard this "withdrawal" meme before. We'll see.

IMO, the key to ME peace is STILL based on liberty and justice for the Palestinian people.

Heard some noise about "The green new deal". This from The Nation magazine;

https://www.thenation.com/article/democrats-green-new-deal/

psychohistorian , Dec 21, 2018 10:00:12 PM | link
@ pft will the great follow on the the GND proposal

I want to add a data point to the universal health care initiative.

Because we are a society wedded to the profit motive we put it between the client and the health care provider and worse only promote "therapies" that make a profit. Let me provide my personal proof of that statement.

This week, after a 12 year journey, I can state that I have healed myself (with help) from a traumatic brain injury using neurofeedback. Neurofeedback in a non-drug, non-invasive EEG based therapy based on the mental health brain paradigm of dis-regulated neural networks. The world of Big Pharma does not want to see neurofeedback advance because it will eliminate most of them.

Some on MoA have read me writing about this before and I will do so more in some future Open Thread.....when the dust settles a bit.

Yeah, Right , Dec 21, 2018 10:01:41 PM | link
@1 Isn't it obvious? US forces are there to support the Kurdish forces. Training, supplying, and a little moral "stiffening".

But Turkisk forces would go in with the aim of defeating those Kurds, and then suppressing the local pop in. That requires an order of magnitude more troops.

Don Bacon , Dec 21, 2018 10:17:15 PM | link
One think-tanker expects problems with troop morale, which by the way was the killer that ended the stupid Vietnam War.
Trump's sudden decisions to drawdown troops in Syria and Afghanistan that sparked Mattis' resignation marked for perhaps the first time in American history the departure of a defense secretary in protest and adds to the overall unease that remains, experts said.
"I think it adds to a feeling that in some sense the wheels are beginning to come off of American foreign policy and national security policy," said John Hannah, a senior counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute on foreign policy and national security in Washington.
Hannah said he thinks the Mattis resignation will inevitably affect troop morale . . . . here

That's a good thing.
Circe , Dec 21, 2018 11:01:47 PM | link
@47

Tom Cotton is a rabid hawk especially on Iran. If Trump choses him then this will signal what Trump meant by the next phase of the campaign after he announced a withdrawal from Syria.

I read General Jack Keane was in the running but he doesn't want the job.

That leaves Lindsey Graham and David Petraeus. Both of these might be willing to take the job, but I see Trump picking Petraeus over Graham, although Graham just visited the troops in Afghanistan; maybe he's sending a subtle hint to Trump.

If it's Cotton, we should brace ourselves for escalation with Iran.

Pft , Dec 21, 2018 11:19:21 PM | link
Yeah Right@76

Well there are 50K Al Nusra fighters in Idlib that Russia and Syria want out of there and Turkey is protecting. Maybe they will be on the move soon to deal with the Kurds in the NE once the US pulls out. US can pretend ignorance and then step back in again under the cover of stabilizing the region with replacement for the kurds to use against Assad and protect assets in the NE. Everyone except the Kurds is happy, almost.

Kadath , Dec 21, 2018 11:24:12 PM | link
@46, Schmoe

Further to your point about MSNBC, I just watched Michael Moore on MSNBC being interviewed by Ali Velshi and Moore was actually advocating that the troops stay in Syria and blamed Putin for ordering Trump to do this ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0SP7puk8f8) - words fail..... Michael Moore, the Anti-Iraq war activist, the Occupy Wall Street advocate, the Anti-Imperialist, has reached the terminal phase of his Trump Derangement Syndrome. His irrational hatred of Trump has just driven him to torch all of his prior Anti-War work; to betray every speech, every millimeter of film he's ever made all because he hates Trump that much and everything he has previously done can be jettisoned if it furthers this new goal.

Ugh... Is he doing this all for the money he can glean from the mainstream Media by being even more extreme than them, was he always this shallow and empty? This is what I just cant get over, do these jackanapes not understand that their words and behaviours are being recorded and people will remember it, it will haunt their futures and taint their legacies. Hating Trump is one thing (there is certainly no shortage of reasons to hate him), but I'm rethinking my entire interpretation of Moore and his career because of these constant, irrationally hateful and extreme statements. Michael Moore, Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, Rachal Maddow and Stephen Colbert can play to the crowd for now, but once Trump's term ends people will never be able to take them seriously as public figures again because of all of their delusional tirades while Trump was in office.

Pft , Dec 21, 2018 11:30:32 PM | link
Don Bacon@77

Troop moral today is far different than Vietnam. Reason in no order of importance

1. Well paid volunteer army, well trained with skills transferrable to private sector
2. Limited tour length, long paid breaks between tours
3. Skype/internet access on tours to stay in touch with family firiends
4. Contractors to do much of the dirty work
5. Military glorification at home treats them as heros and plenty of discounts
6. Far fewer casualties
7. Great benefits once the leave miliitary (loans, paid university transferrable)
8. Tax benfits for companies hiring vets helps them in job market

The main negative with fewer troops in Syria or Afghanistan means there are fewer tours which means less money.

I expect they will be deployed elsewhere. Where is the big question. Like you say, moral not an issue


flayer , Dec 21, 2018 11:34:45 PM | link
RE: Posted by: Pft | Dec 21, 2018 11:30:32 PM | 81

This is why you should never "thank them for their service." They're selfish and/or deluded pricks. Not heroes. It's a scam from start to finish.

Peter AU 1 , Dec 21, 2018 11:48:20 PM | link
Kadath 80 "do these jackanapes not understand that their words and behaviours are being recorded and people will remember it"
The average person that watches MSM have the memory of a goldfish when it comes to politics.

"His irrational hatred of Trump has just driven him to torch all of his prior Anti-War work"
Most that make it in politics or entertainment go with the flow - whatever will further their career. Empty people. I don't know this Michael Moor, but sounds lie he is one of this type.

telescope , Dec 21, 2018 11:48:22 PM | link
People like Lindsey Graham simply cannot comprehend that USA is in fact a demolished country, with its last leg - the stock market - getting cut off in real time, as we speak. The implications of American equity markets collapse are momentous. The relentless year-end selling means that government revenues will be drastically reduced, by at least couple hundred billion dollars, driving US budget deficit to well in excess of $1.2T in current fiscal year. And that's in a benign case. If America slips in a recession, and has to resort to fiscal stimulus, we are talking about $1.5-2T budget shortfall. Add quickly deteriorating demographics, and "japanisation" of the USA is all but inevitable (and yes, US financial system is a dead man walking)
Trump, although not the brightest bulb, is infinitely smarter than Grahams, Rubios and Cottons of the world. He knows that it's much better to withdraw on what looks like own accord now, than being kicked out in the most disgraceful fashion upon the passage of time. Or even worse, having your troops marooned in the troubled region without any prospect of being extricated, unless on the most humiliating terms.
Whether Trump succeeds or fails in returning the troops home is irrelevant at this point. They are coming home anyway. The only question remaining is not if but when, and how.
Pft , Dec 21, 2018 11:57:14 PM | link
Bolton announces Trumps Africa strategy

https://thehill.com/policy/international/421179-bolton-warns-russia-china-threaten-us-in-africa

The Cebrowski plan for Latin America

http://www.voltairenet.org/article204400.html

Maybe Trump is diversyfing, scaling down in the The Middle East (a lots been accomplished already) and ramp up efforts in Africa and Latin America to counter BRICS

Pft , Dec 22, 2018 12:00:04 AM | link
Meant "diversifying". Spell check hasnt been working well here since i upgraded to ios12
once and future , Dec 22, 2018 12:20:01 AM | link
Thanks, b.

stonebird @40
OT (apologies) Can you help with the evidence that Maria Butina was subjected to these abuses while in solitary?

ben , Dec 22, 2018 12:45:15 AM | link
@ 80: Yes, agreed, my impressions on MM will change. Too bad really, that people sacrifice their credibility, based on blind hatred.

I'm speaking only of MM, the rest lost their credibility, IMO, long ago..

james , Dec 22, 2018 12:50:40 AM | link
@87 once and future... first off i want to thank stonebird for there comments on this topic.. solitary confinement is inhumane.. that the usa is keen to use it in all sorts of circumstances, is a reflection of their abu ghraib, guantanemo mentality... solitary confinement is more of the same.. in a civilized world it would never be allowed to be done... but this is more exceptional nation stuff from the exceptional nation and what the world has come to expect from a country that preaches one thing while practicing something completely different..

80 kadath... michael moore has really fallen... i was unaware of this and am not tapped into the usa msm to be able to follow.. in fact, it is so depressing i have no interest in following much of anything coming out of the usa at this point...

@78 circe.. another name mentioned was this tulsi gabbard from hawaii.. i doubt it very much... the usa continues to fly way off the rails...

what is especially telling is the response from the usa on trumps decision here... caitin johnstone has a good overview on this..
Endless War Has Been Normalized And Everyone Is Crazy

karlof1 , Dec 22, 2018 1:10:40 AM | link
james @89 and others--

Michael Moore destroyed his credibility when he failed to denounce Obama for not jailing the Banksters and it's been downhill from there as it's been with so many of his ilk. Another case of money ruining youthful idealism. Caitlin's on a roll and deserves a much larger audience. The propagandizers have deluded themselves via their own machinations and are now going mad.

Albert Pike , Dec 22, 2018 1:11:24 AM | link
"there also a contingent of 1,100 French troops"... You can hear me laughing after reading this. The French empire was over a long long time ago and they still think that Syria is their colony. France has been sending French Jihadists for regime change in Syria since 2011 and their mission has failed since Russia intervened in 2015. France cannot even send troops to Mali - destabilized by Jihadists created by France in Libya to topple Kadhafi, without the help of the US!!! France is a de-facto vassal state of the US since they decided to joined the NATO central command under Sarkozy who was bribed by the zionist neocons.
Hoarsewhisperer , Dec 22, 2018 1:44:00 AM | link
...
US can pretend ignorance and then step back in again under the cover of stabilizing the region with replacement for the kurds to use against Assad and protect assets in the NE. Everyone except the Kurds is happy, almost.
Posted by: Pft | Dec 21, 2018 11:19:21 PM | 79

I think you're right. And I hope so, too...
The Yanks should be counting their blessings. I thought it was extraordinarily generous of Putin to agree with Donald that "the US beat ISIS in Syria" considering how half-assed/limp-wristed their anti-ISIS actions were in comparison with Russia's 100+ sorties per day 24/7 for many months.
Imo, if the Yanks dream up another excuse to go back into Syria, Putin will caution against it and then make sure that none of them get out alive.

Blooming Barricade , Dec 22, 2018 2:07:30 AM | link
I personally distinguish between Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria and his move to withdraw partially from Afghanistan. The latter is a step towards ending a brutal, illegal NATO occupation war of over 17 years. The former is also illegal but the Syrian Kurds (left wing and largely communist) are likely to be supplanted as counters to "Iran" by fascists Turkey and Israel (this has been confirmed in reports), so we're moving from tactical NATO proxies to actual NATO governments seizing Syrian land.

All of that being said, both are policy decisions that should be able to be debated freely. I can totally see why many on the anti-imperialist left welcome the decision to withdraw from Syria, I'm not entirely unsympathetic to them. It the US and international media response has been horrific.

The New York Times and Guardian are basically now neconservative papers indistinguishable from the Wall Steet Journal and Daily Telegraph. Not a word of dissent is even remotely allowed or involved. The Blob has totally taken over the entirety of the liberal global establishment which sees Trump's move as "treasonous." Not looking forward to 2020 when Democrats will run on identical foreign policy platforms to Mitt Romney.

Circe , Dec 22, 2018 2:15:25 AM | link
@80

Not sure if you watched when Michael Moore received the Oscar for Farenheit 9/11. Let's remember he was addressing the top elite Liberal crowd and got booed. What is it they say about prophets in their own land? Oh yeah, Jesus said: A prophet is without honor in his own country.

I actually have some sympathy for Michael Moore. Aside from being a major critic of the Bush Administration, Michael Moore was also very critical of Obama, and Hillary and was lambasted by liberal centrists and neolibs. He was considered part of the radical left and despite the success of his documentaries, he continued to be marginalized and never received the respect he deserved. In 2015, Moore was supporting Bernie Sanders, but when Bernie was railroaded, Moore who couldn't see himself voting for a Republican ever, especially a depraved billionaire whom he rightly viewed as Chaos personified felt that Hillary was the lesser evil, and from there found the respect that had been denied to him by his own side and especially after he predicted Hillary was about to lose despite the polls and Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania would deny her the Presidency. From the day his prediction materialized Democrats were in awe of his perception. Since then he exchanged integrity for their respect. The Michael Moore of 2003 would never criticize military de-escalation.

However, Moore recently released a new documentary Farenheit 11/9 wherein apparently he's critical of Democrats whom he blames for the rise of Trump.

So don't be too hard on Moore who was an outcast in liberal country for too long. Once you've earned the respect of your own and the mainstream it's not so easy to speak your truth anymore. Thanks to Trump and the Dems, Moore has been temporarily altered. But you're right, he'll look back with regret on this Syria opinion.

I can't stand Trump either, but I agree that getting out of Syria and de-escalating is a good thing...IF in fact that's what he's really up to.

Circe , Dec 22, 2018 2:20:02 AM | link
JR might be interested to know that Michael Moore believes that Hillary handed Trump the Presidency.
b , Dec 22, 2018 2:23:14 AM | link
Bolton's Hawkish Syria Plan Backfired, Pushing Trump to Get Out

The national security adviser expanded U.S. goals in Syria to challenge Iran. But Trump wasn't on board, senior officials say, and Turkey took an opportunity to push the U.S. out.

Hoarsewhisperer , Dec 22, 2018 2:26:43 AM | link
...
Most that make it in politics or entertainment go with the flow - whatever will further their career. Empty people. I don't know this Michael Moor, but sounds lie he is one of this type.
Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Dec 21, 2018 11:48:20 PM | 83

Michael Moore has produced some brilliant anti-establishment docos focusing on gun-control (Bowling for Columbine), the US healthcare rort, the sub-prime scam, and the absence of socio-economic well-being in AmeriKKKa (Where To Invade Next?).
I'm hoping that Kadath @ #80 is kidding, but he's right about Moore being rabidly anti-Trump from the get-go.

Peter AU 1 , Dec 22, 2018 2:37:58 AM | link
Geo-political chess. Russia, Turkey, Iran have called check and Trump is moving his pieces accordingly. I think he will pull the US out of Syria. Seems he is not as blinded by his hatred of Iran as his appointees.
psychohistorian , Dec 22, 2018 2:47:28 AM | link
@ b with the link about Bolton

So, does this mean that Bolton should or will resign?

I thought the update of the linked article with the statement about the Kurds from the White House official was interesting: ""They've done the majority of the fighting against ISIS in Syria," one U.S. official said. "How do you treat a partner like this?""

[Dec 22, 2018] Why Trump Decided To Remove U.S. Troops From Syria

Notable quotes:
"... I really want to be naive and think Trump left Syria for good but no, US never leaves Israel alone specially now that Iran is present in Syria with only one intention, to threaten Israel. I believe US pulling out of Syria is bad news for Iranians, maybe he finally wants to bomb the hell out of Iran? I'm John Bolton would love it. ..."
Dec 22, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Zico , Dec 20, 2018 9:14:59 AM | link

Last Friday President Trump had another long phone call with the Turkish President Erdogan. Thereafter he overruled all his advisors and decided to remove the U.S. boots from Syria and to also end the air war .

This was the first time Trump took a decisive stand against the borg , the permanent neoconservative and interventionist establishment in his administration, the military and congress, that usually dictates U.S. foreign policy.

It was this decision, and that he stuck to it, which finally made him presidential.

Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton, his Secretary of Defense 'mad dog' Mattis and his Secretary of State Pompeo were all against this decision. The specialist working on Syria, the lunatic (vid) special representative for Syria engagement James Jefferey and Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the global coalition to defeat ISIS, were taken by surprise. They had worked diligently to install a permanent U.S. presence in a Kurdish ruled proxy state in northeast Syria.

While these people first tried to change Trump's decision, their resistance has now ceased :

Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton met Monday, when Trump was said to formally decide on a US withdrawal from Syria. Multiple US officials argued against an abrupt US withdrawal, but were said to have given up trying to get Trump to change his mind by Tuesday night . US officials began to notify allies of the decision Tuesday.

"The push back from DOD, State and NSC stopped [Tuesday] night," said one regional expert who consults with the US administration, referring to the Department of Defense, the State Department and the National Security Council.


Back in January we already explained why the neoconservative project of a Kurdish proxy state in northeast Syria was doomed from its start:

Ilhan tanir @WashingtonPoint - 7:50 PM - 24 Jan 2018
This map being discussed all day on Turkish TVs as Turkey's planned security zone/safe zone on Syria border.
Reportedly OK'ed by Sec.Tillerson though nobody on the American side confirms it
Trump is a businessman. He sees only profit/loss. Why should America bare the burden of occupying a hostile place and protected "Kurdish" interest?

I suspect the Northern Syria project was meant to be paid for by the Saudis/Persian Gulf Arabs Sheikhs. But after the Kashoggi fiasco, the Saudis felt betrayed by the US and stopped the cash flow. So Trump said, "fuck it, I'm out".

Any US action in the region is to a large extend, directly/indirectly for the benefit of Israel - at least from the neocon's pov.


donkeytale , Dec 20, 2018 9:25:24 AM | link

Erdogan holds all the cards in the Syria machinations as I stated back when he clearly put his foot down against the Idleb attack.

Putin isn't going to sacrifice Russia's relations with Turkey simply to let his little lapdog Assad pretend to be in control of all of Syria.

Trump needs victories in the new congressional term and his only hope is to start playing ball with the Demotards and try to affect stuff that is truly populist.

Cutting out of Syria is one small opening step if he actually follows through. Giving up his wall fantasy and building roads and bridges instead would be another.

b4real , Dec 20, 2018 9:48:15 AM | link
Trump is not that smart.

He is pulling troops out because it is an Obama war and he is intent on removing any trace of an Obama legacy.

He is also trapped. The only thing keeping him from the inside of a courtroom is the presidency. He can pardon federal crimes, but the NY Attorney general is deep into his finances and his entire family is being threatened. It is a battle between oligarchs who in another age were called carpet baggers as they try to strip everything of value from U.S.A. before the collapse of the economy or they manage to provoke Russia or China to respond militarily.

It was an Obama mistake to try and overthrow Syria, and remember, Hillary was wanting to Libya it with another no-fly zone, (so little imagination) which would likely have led to usa/russia conflict.

This is a well written and researched article, but to suggest that Trump is intentionally doing the smart thing is a little hard for me to believe.

b4real

Circe , Dec 20, 2018 10:11:41 AM | link
That's a pretty nice dream scenario you laid out, and of course it makes perfect sense it should happen that way. However, I still don't get why the Russians have no clue as to what Trump means by the next phase of the campaign . I hope you're right on all this but with all the other bad decisions Trump's been making like covering MbS's butt and still supporting KSA on Yemen and catering to Zionist policy on Jerusalem and Iran, and keeping his son-in-law in charge of swindling the Palestinians, I just have to remain skeptical that there's not an even worse Plan B behind door no. 2. Let's be reminded that when Trump was still President-elect he went out of his way, even risking breaching the Logan Act, to scuttle a U.S.-supported Resolution put forth at the UNSC at the end of Obama's administration condemning Israeli settlement expansion.

Now, is that the act of a man sensible enough to embrace the wonderful, sensible plan you just laid out? I don't think so. I hope I'm wrong and you're right.

Somebody , Dec 20, 2018 10:29:27 AM | link
I really want to be naive and think Trump left Syria for good but no, US never leaves Israel alone specially now that Iran is present in Syria with only one intention, to threaten Israel. I believe US pulling out of Syria is bad news for Iranians, maybe he finally wants to bomb the hell out of Iran? I'm John Bolton would love it.
MarkU , Dec 20, 2018 10:41:15 AM | link
I will believe it when I see it, talk is cheap. The US was going to pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq but it is still there. There is also plenty of time to arrange the next 'chemical attack' to create a pretext for staying.
WJ , Dec 20, 2018 10:53:38 AM | link
I agree with Circe @9 that the following sentence goes a bit too far:

"One hopes that he can expand on it by further decreasing the influence of Saudi Arabia and Israel on his policies."

Trump's biggest donor is an "Israel-first" billionaire and his most influential personal and presidential contacts are from the shadowy world of the Israel-Saudi alliance.

As to the comment quoted by Annette @4, I have never understood why criticisms launched more appropriately at Zionists are regularly directed by certain elements of the alt-right against "Jews." Not only is this practice factually imprecise and also bigoted, it serves to weaken the often legitimate points made against Israel and its influence by allowing others to dismiss them as motivated by anti-Semitism. It is the equivalent of criticizing the Saudi state ideology and using the word "Muslims" to do so, while including lots of cherry-picked quotes from the Koran and Wahhabist propagandists to paint as scary a picture of "Islam" or "Arabs" as possible. It's stupid and rhetorically counterproductive. It also is *exactly* what the Zionists want you to keep doing, as it only enables their self-interested conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. If you want to blame "the Jews" for all the problems in the world, just remember that your doing so in this language actually strengthens the position of the Zionists. And you may want to consider that at least *some* of these Jew-bashing critiques of Israel on sites like Unz and others are most certainly written by paid propagandists of the state of Israel.

Paul Damascene , Dec 20, 2018 10:58:38 AM | link
One can only hope the decision holds, but it's hard to exclude the possibility of a borg-staged false-flag provocation.
Jonathan H , Dec 20, 2018 11:03:49 AM | link
B,

I agree with B4real. I find it hard to believe Trump is capable of the thinking you attribute to him in the second of the following two paragraphs - the first paragraph, yes; the second includes nuanced and informed thinking that IMO is beyond his capability.

Paragraphs #1: Trump never wanted that project to proceed. He had always wanted to declare victory against ISIS and leave. It was the borg that tried to prevent this and which push the project along.

Paragraph #2: But there are bigger geopolitical fish to fry than such meddling in the Middle East. Trump knows that the United States' 'unilateral moment' after the demise of the Soviet Union, which left the U.S. was the sole superpower, is over. Russia is back and China is rising. [up through this sentence I can believe that "Trump know it" but not what follows, i.e.:]
Trump's policy to adopt to the decreasing U.S. power is to end the 'globalization' that allowed for China's rapid rise. He wants to geopolitical split this world into two influence spheres. These will be separate from each other in the political, economic, technological and military realms.

Jonathan H

Passer by , Dec 20, 2018 11:03:53 AM | link
"It is quite refreshing to see that Trump was finally able to liberate himself from the dictate of the borg."

From the jewish borg, yes, but not from the military/NATO/EU/geopolitical borg, those who want to rule the world as an Atlantic Empire. And this is even more dangerous.

"Trump decided that to prevent Turkey from leaving NATO, and from joining a deeper alliance with Russia, China and Iran, was more important than to further fool around at the margins of the Middle East. It is the right decision."

What kind of strategists are you? Actually it would have been better for the world if the US and Turkey had a major conflict. That would have destroyed NATO as we know it and would weaken the Atlantic Empire considerably.

Do you know what the way for weakening the US is? Israel and the Zionists.
You should tacitly support them as they will bog down the US in the Middle East, cause muslim anti-americanism, and weaken the Atlantic Empire on the Russian and the Chinese fronts. The Iranian issue again always causes splits between the EU and the US as well.

Russia should actually covertly support AIPAC in the US. No better way of weakening the US. Have you ever thought about it?

james , Dec 20, 2018 11:06:00 AM | link
thanks b... i think the issue of turkey is very big to all this, but i think you might be discounting the ability of those intent on screwing trump, succeeding in doing so... for trump to finally achieve one of his election promises looks positive on the surface... why is it, it took him this long? i am not convinced, but happy it is moving in this direction...

turkey staying onside with the usa doesn't look like a done deal to me either... again, i think we have to wait and see how this unfolds.. i would be concerned about trump hanging onto power at this point.. there are a lot of interests that run contrary to him here..

bevin , Dec 20, 2018 11:11:04 AM | link
The great strength of this analysis and the blog in general is that 'b' never falls into the error of accepting that the US, and its faction riven government, is all powerful and hegemonic.
The US government not only makes stupid mistakes- look at Afghanistan- which not all the money and purchased PR in the world can compensate for, but regularly suffers defeats obvious to anyone who isn't watching the Victory parades on TV.

Many commenters labour under the misapprehension that the neo-cons are clever strategists. In Washington politics they may be but in the wider world they are as incompetent as the slaves of an idiotic ideology always are: they greatly over estimate their own abilities and those of the US forces. They spend their lives reading their own publicity.
All that they can do is bring misery to other countries and increase it in their own. The record is very clear.
Iraq is a mess and it certainly isn't, either economically or strategically, a feather in Washington's cap. The same is true of Afghanistan after 17 years in which dozens of countries, directed by the supposedly unbeatable US forces, are in the position of sharing control of about a quarter of the land with friendly dope dealers.
Sudan, Somalia and Libya are similar, in each case the US would have been much better off if it had left these places alone and relied upon its diplomatic and economic weight to influence their governments. The same is true of Iran and, indeed, Russia where neo-con aggression has forced governments into permanent and implacable opposition.
Ukraine is another strategic disaster for the US, with the added twist that it seems fair set to break NATO up by forcing European nations to choose-as b notes above-the US economic sphere. Or LNG, from rapidly declining fracking wells, over piped natural gas from the biggest, cheapest and deepest gas reserves on the planet.
And it really doesn't matter to the Eurasian sellers whether Europe buys the gas or not: if it wants to hobble its industries and lower living standards by paying twice the price in solidarity with the neo-cons, it simply hastens its decline.

What the New Year holds in store is a United States returning to its ancient role of bullying Latin America: no doubt Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba will come under intense attack as the US preens itself on the strength of its new allies, in Brazil, Argentina, Honduras etc. But all of these regimes are unstable, fascistic, military dictatorships which are doomed to bring unbearable hardships on the people.
And the same is equally true of the US and its allies, everyone of which has a government skewed towards subservient militarism, with domestic politics increasingly dominated by xenophobic hysteria as a substitute for prosperity and social stability: millions of homeless and economically insecure people, without permanent jobs, their savings and pensions dissolving, being fed fear of Russia or China by governments which are transparent fronts for oligarchs and imperialists.
The fact that this sad scenario of social suicide is being played out against a background of rapidly approaching environmental disaster- the reality of climate change- is perhaps an indication of the price that we pay for living under an hierarchy of the most corrupt, venal and thoughtless people in the world. The ones we choose to govern us and tell us what to do.

[Dec 22, 2018] Trump's Decision to Leave Syria Was No 'Surprise' by Mark Perry

Notable quotes:
"... The American Conservative ..."
"... ISIS isn't really defeated, Iran is on the march, the U.S. needs to show solidarity with its Kurdish allies. ..."
Dec 20, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
To say it was impulsive, or that the entire military opposes it, would be grossly misreading the situation.

In 1966, in the midst of the Vietnam War, Vermont Senator George Aiken recommended that President Lyndon Johnson simply "declare victory and get out." While what Aiken actually said was more complex (because the U.S. couldn't win militarily, he implied, it should stop deploying troops and start deploying diplomats), his statement is commonly cited as an example of foreign policy wisdom -- then, as now, a much depleted currency in Washington.

While it's doubtful that President Donald Trump has studied Aiken's views (or even heard of him), his decision on Wednesday to order the unilateral withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria is one of the few "Aiken moments" in American history. Not surprisingly, given Trump's inclinations, the news came in a tweet posted by the president on Wednesday morning: "We have defeated ISIS on Syria," Trump announced , "my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency." U.S. officials later said that all U.S. troops would be removed from Syria over the next 60 to 100 days.

While the announcement took much of official Washington by surprise, The American Conservative has learned that a select group of administration officials, as well as a handful of senior military officers, knew of Trump's decision as early as Saturday morning. According to these officials, all of whom required anonymity in exchange for the information, Trump's decision came as a result of a lengthy telephone exchange he had had with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday. Everything that Trump announced today, we have been told, was decided in that call.

That telephone discussion, as one of these officials told us, was the latest in "a series of conversations the two have had over the last weeks on a host of issues," including the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Erdogan's insistence that the U.S. extradite cleric Fethullah Gulen to Turkey, U.S. worries about Iranian meddling in the region -- and continuing U.S. support for Kurdish forces operating in Syria (led by the People Protection Units -- the YPG), which Turkey views as a terrorist organization. It was this last issue that was the focus of Friday's telephone call, spurred by Erdogan's public pledge 48 hours earlier that he was prepared to order his military into Syria to take on the YPG despite U.S. backing.

"We will begin our operation to free the east of the Euphrates [river] from the separatist organization within a few days," Erdogan had said on Wednesday . "Our target is not American soldiers, it is the terror organizations that are active in the region."

During Friday's telephone call, Erdogan once again took a hard line against the Kurds, and the administration's support for them. A part of his argument was that the U.S. had said it was allying with the Kurds to destroy ISIS which, as Erdogan argued, had been accomplished. Nor was Erdogan influenced by Trump's contention that the U.S. needed to remain in Syria in order to check Iranian influence in the region. Erdogan, we have been told, was ready for the argument: the best hedge against Iran, he told Trump, was not the Kurds, or even the Saudis, but Turkey.

Erdogan, as it turns out, wasn't the only one making that argument. As reported in these pages last April , senior U.S. military officers, including Gen. Curtis Michael "Mike" Scaparrotti (the highly respected head of the U.S. European Command), warned that the U.S. "marriage of convenience" with the YPG in its fight against ISIS in Syria was poisoning its relationship with Turkey -- a NATO ally. Turkey, as Scaparrotti told James Mattis in March, was particularly angry that the U.S. was supporting the YPG's deployment to Manbij, threatening Turkish forces some 70 miles away. So what is more important, Scaparrotti asked Mattis, our relationship with the Kurds, or our relationship with Turkey? Gen. Jospeh Votel, the head of Centcom, pushed back against Scaparrotti, saying that America's "marriage of convenience" was "temporary, tactical and transactional" and essential to defeating ISIS.

And so it was that the Scaparrotti-Votel debate was both postponed (with the administration supporting Votel's position until ISIS could be decisively defeated) and papered over -- with the Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issuing regular reassurances to Turkey that the U.S.-YPG relationship was only temporary. Now, with Trump's decision, the debate has been resolved. "Somewhere, you can bet, Joe Votel is absolutely spinning his head into the ceiling," a senior military officer told me. "I don't know what to call this -- but it sounds like Scaparrotti's revenge." Perhaps, but for Syria experts and for those in the military who supported Votel's position, while Trump's decision on a full U.S. withdrawal came as a surprise, it might have been predicted.

America's Fling With the Kurds Could Cause Turkey and NATO to Split How the Brass Talked Another President Into a Losing Strategy

"Yes, I was surprised," Joshua Landis, the head of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says, "but I suppose I should not have been. After all, we could see this coming. Our relationship with Turkey is much, much more important than our relationship with the Kurds. Then too, if the Trump administration wants to pin Iran's ears back in the region, it's not Kurds, or the Saudis or the Emiratis who are going to do it. It's the Turks."

John Allen Gay, an Iran expert and executive director of the John Quincy Adams Society, agrees. He argues that Trump's decision confirms what everyone has quietly admitted for at least the past year: that keeping U.S. forces in Syria to counter ISIS was starting to look like a way for administration interventionists to argue that we should take on Iran.

"Keeping the troops there post-ISIS was in part natural mission creep, but it was also a stalking horse for hawks in the administration who want to take on Iran," he told TAC .

"Yet dangling a few thousand guys in between Turkish forces on one side and Iranians, Russians, and Syrians on the other was never going to be decisive on Iran's regional role, and it came with real risks and no endgame," Gay added. "I just don't think there's any appetite in the American public for a big fight with Iran anywhere, let alone over Eastern Syria."

Gay may well be right, at least according to a number of U.S. military officers with whom we've talked.

"We need a respite," a senior military officer told us in the wake of the Trump decision, "and that's especially true for the Air Force. Those guys have been in the air over the Middle East since Operation Enduring Freedom, back in 2001. These guys are running on fumes."

Nor, as we've been told, are senior military officers concerned that the announced U.S. withdrawal from Syria gives Putin a victory. "Complete and absolute nonsense," a very senior officer who served multiple tours in the region told us. "I hate to put it this way, but I think it's true. We can't repair Syria -- and it's not our job to do it. If Putin wants to inherit it, that's fine."

Which is not to say that Trump's decision has been greeted unanimously. In the wake of his Friday decision, the administration's foreign policy triumvirate of James Mattis, John Bolton, and Mike Pompeo pushed back, arguing that keeping U.S. troops in Syria was essential, if for no other reason than to keep a high U.S. profile in the region. Their arguments were predictable, if outspoken: ISIS isn't really defeated, Iran is on the march, the U.S. needs to show solidarity with its Kurdish allies.

Trump, channeling Erdogan, pushed back on each of them -- ISIS is finished, Iran could be countered in other ways and, as Erdogan had told him, the Kurds were already talking with the Assad government about an accommodation that would keep them in northeastern Syria. In truth, as we were told by a senior Turkish diplomat who was privy to the Trump-Erdogan exchange, the decision had been made on Friday, when Trump told Erdogan that he agreed that the U.S. could withdraw its troops from Syria. When can you do that? Erdogan had asked. Trump wasn't sure, so he turned to his national security adviser, who was listening in on the conversation.

Can we do it today? Now? Trump asked. Bolton nodded: "Yes," he said.

Mark Perry is a contributing editor at and the author of The Pentagon's Wars. He tweets @markperrydc .

about:blank



What To Do December 19, 2018 at 10:51 pm

Turkey always seemed to be the key to the Syria situation, and so it has proved to be.

It's remains the key, or one of them at least, to other regional matters. We should have pulled out many years ago and left it up to Turkey, Syria, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Egypt to make their own arrangements. All we've managed to do is mess things up.

I hope Trump and his people are finally recognizing the wisdom of doing that.

giacomo , , December 19, 2018 at 11:13 pm
Tough week for Bill Kristol et Al, but a good week for the rest of us.
Stephen J. , , December 19, 2018 at 11:15 pm
I believe "Syria" and other countries in the Middle East are victims of powerful war criminals, and their illegal wars. All the propaganda in the world cannot hide the truth of their monstrous crimes against humanity. More info below:
--

"A Christmas Report on the Crimes of the War Criminals"

There is no "Peace on Earth" because of what you do
Millions are dead and their homes destroyed, all "thanks" to you
Some cities have been reduced to burning, smoking rubble
And some countries are now in chaos; you started all this trouble

Millions are in refugee camps, and millions wander the earth
Many refugees are drowning in the sea, or lying dead in the surf
Bombing, killing, blood and gore is your legacy to humanity
All of you posture on the world stage and promote more bloody insanity

So as you toast each other and drink glasses of blood red wine
Perhaps in your hypocrisy you don't realise that you are, the "Gadarene Swine"
Fiends dressed in expensive suits, with "honourable" titles to your names
When you all should be in prison gear, and hanging your heads in shame

As you all relax for the holiday season, no doubt you will be sending each other Christmas Greetings or Happy Holidays. It has been a busy war supporting year, 2018, for many of you. Supplying the weapons that destroyed and decimated many countries, and attending meetings with other war criminals, oops, I mean with other world leaders .
[read more at link below]
http://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2018/12/a-christmas-report-on-crimes-of-war.html

furbo , , December 19, 2018 at 11:29 pm
I would have thought it would be wise to stay until an agreement was reached and in place that guaranteed limited autonomy for the Kurds -who did a great deal of the fighting against ISIS -- and ensured Iran was not too dominating and threatening Israel. But -- the Russians are probably good guarantures of Israeli interests (15% of Israels population are Russians) and as a major Sunni power Turkey can counter Iran. So .ok.
Rey Ikari , , December 19, 2018 at 11:31 pm
Pulling out of Syria because "ISIS is defeated" is a joke of an excuse. ISIS is nowhere near defeated, and if the US pulls out now new terror groups will just fill the power vacuum.
Joe Beavers , , December 19, 2018 at 11:41 pm
Nice background to have.
john , , December 20, 2018 at 12:50 am
Of course it was a surprise. A more thoughtful president might have said something like. " I have directed the Secretary of Defense to draft plans to remove all our ground forces in Syria in the next 3 months or sooner"
11bravo , , December 20, 2018 at 1:27 am
Do we have NUKES in Turkey? Why else would we give 2 $hits about Erdogan's Islamist A$$. I don't mind getting our guys out though. Let the savages and barbarians work it out amongst themselves by killing one another. Who really cares about Syria, Israel can take care of the Russians and the Iranians if need be. Leaving Afghanistan should be next!!
No Respecter Of Persons , , December 20, 2018 at 1:59 am
If it sends the blundering and incompetent Victoria "Eff the EU" Nuland into hysterics like this, it can't be all bad.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/in-a-single-tweet-trump-destroys-us-policy-in-the-middle-east/2018/12/19/eb423434-03da-11e9-b5df-5d3874f1ac36_story.html

Streetlights

Antoinetta III , , December 20, 2018 at 4:26 am
Strange that Bolton would agree that we could pull out right away. If he wants us to stay, why wouldn't he prevaricate and come up with some superficial reason why it would take months before we could actually start moving out.

Antoinetta III

Johann , , December 20, 2018 at 6:45 am
This article describes the complexity of the Syrian quagmire. If we stay in the region with military assets, the probability for conflict, accidental or intentional, with other participants is close to 1, and may result in escalation of conflict with other participants.

Bottom line, Syria is not a national security interest of the US. And when we leave, there will not be a vacuum for ISIS to re-fill as there was in Iraq, as some neocons and neoliberals so disingenuously allege. Assad, Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah, who are working together as allies, will be there to stomp out the remaining embers. Turkey is just another trouble-maker in Syria.

The real motivation to stay there is that so many believe we should be the leading influence in every conflict and pathetic country in the world. That, and the ideology that all governments in the world should be a democracy. In the middle east, democracy is but a transition to a theocracy. In the middle east, democracy is the god that failed.

Richard Vajs , , December 20, 2018 at 7:05 am
Who shouldn't welcome a withdrawal from armed conflict, especially at Christmas? Well, those making a buck off the killing of people in Syria and those who really worry about Iran keeping Israel from stealing half of the Middle East, that's who.
I'll Take It , , December 20, 2018 at 7:35 am
Well, I don't know, but I hope. I surely hope.

Maybe the Spirit of the Lord descended on him, and he (finally) understands that he's got to start getting us out of there.

But whatever the reason is, I'll take it. We beat ISIS? Fine. This is what I voted for, and I'm glad he did it. Our people over there were just sitting ducks, hostages to fortune. Not any more.

Let the other countries take care of whatever's left of ISIS now. We did the heavy lifting. It's their turn. And if they're too lazy or cowardly to do it themselves, **** 'em.

Surety , , December 20, 2018 at 7:43 am
Is this an early fruit of the demise of The Weekly Standard? The scales fall from Trump's eyes and he pulls out of Syria?

Whatever. Hooray!

Bryan , , December 20, 2018 at 8:41 am
Both Fox % Friends and Morning Joe have their hair on fire this morning and they're laying Trump's decision all at the feet of Rand Paul. Jack Hunter has been saying all along that Paul had Trump's ear on foreign policy. If Paul really is the one who persuaded Trump to do this, God Bless Ron and Rand Paul. Now, Paul and his left-wing allies need to go on cable TV and defend this move because right now Trump is being eviscerated.
Rocketeer , , December 20, 2018 at 8:47 am
What I don't understand is all the horrified whining about "commitments" and "honor".

Haven't these idiots been paying attention? Ever since he pulled out of the Iran deal, it was plain as day that prior commitments mean nothing to him. But some of those now shrieking and rending their garments seem to have though that the Kurds and Saudis and Israelis were immune. Surely he would always do what they told him to do?

But pulling out of the Iran deal didn't mean "I can do whatever I want for Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Kurds". It meant "I can do whatever I want". And "whatever I want" can mean "pull out of Syria". Which is what he just did.

It almost amounts to a strategy. And anyone who missed that after everything he's done over the past two years either hasn't been paying attention or just plain dumb.

This is Trump.

On the bright side, it may be the smartest thing he's done in foreign policy since taking office. And he owns it -- it's clearly NOT the work of his sinister and incompetent advisors. Good! More! MORE!

Connecticut Farmer , , December 20, 2018 at 9:03 am
Finally, after two years, Trump has at least taken the first step in fulfilling one of his campaign promises: reducing our overseas military presence.
PAX , , December 20, 2018 at 9:29 am
Forcing the neocons to go deep in their bench. Hope Trump does not waiver. This very exit is what many Trump voters hoped he would do.
Andrew P , , December 20, 2018 at 9:31 am
There are no good options in Syria, so the best thing is to pull out. The next question is what to do about Afghanistan.
Carroll Price , , December 20, 2018 at 9:38 am
"He who laughs last, laughs longest."
eric siverson , , December 20, 2018 at 9:44 am
I hope the Kurds still have good relations with Syria and Assad because USA is going to stop protecting the Kurds .
Michael Ard , , December 20, 2018 at 9:48 am
Very insightful piece. Thank you!
Michael Kenny , , December 20, 2018 at 10:03 am
I tend to see this as Trump trying to find money fro his wall.
marku52 , , December 20, 2018 at 11:02 am
I haven't seen this background info anywhere else.

Thank you.

Donald , , December 20, 2018 at 11:14 am
The NYT editors and most of the commenters are in hysterics.
One thing I have learned from the Trump era -- mainstream liberals are as McCarthyite in their attitudes sometime as the conservatives they love to attack.

On the decision itself, I wish something would be said about protecting the Kurds, but we had no right to meddle in Syria in the first place. All of our interventions in the Mideast turn to um, manure. ( Family blog). We are constantly justifying new interventions because of the problems our earlier intervention caused, or we are told we can't pull out because we are in too deep. It's almost as if this were some giant scam designed to make money for the military industrial think tank complex.

I can't quite bring myself to defend Trump on this, but I have no problem attacking some of his critics.

Win , , December 20, 2018 at 11:35 am
Just some facts that most of you USA suckers are ignorant of;
The Syrian army with the support of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah defeated ISIS.
The US seemed to be more intent on bombing haystacks oh and civillian infrastructure until Russia stepped in.
Styria has claimed back 95% of her land.
Syria with the support of her allies is starting to rebuild the country
Alleppo is rebuilding thanks to Russias help
Many commentators acknowledge the war is basically over -- no thanks to the US.
But yes proclaim you defeated ISIS just get out of there. You are not wanted and your support of ISIS to try and get rid of Assad has not worked.
peter mcloughlin , , December 20, 2018 at 11:44 am
Allies are allies until their interests diverge. Turkey and the US are prime examples. In the chaotic world of the Middle East Ankara sees a Greater Kurdistan of threat to its territorial integrity: Washington supports the YPG, a Marxist-Leninist organisation, because of its importance in the fight against ISIS. It looks as though President Trump has decided Turkey a more vital ally than the Kurds.
Every state pursues what is seen to be in its own best national interest. But it is important that the pursuit does not undermine those very interests. It is a difficult calculation for any leader, upon whom the responsibility of history weighs heavily. The past gives a grim prediction for the future:
• Power, (manifested as interest) was present in very conflict in history -- no exception. It is the underlying motivation for war. Interest cuts across all apparently unifying principles: family, kin, nation, religion, ideology, politics -- everything. We unite with the enemies of our principles, because that is what serves our interest. It is the one thing we will destroy ourselves for, as well as everyone else.
• History shows that every civilization/nation eventually gets the war it is trying to avoid: utter defeat. This applies as much today as any other time in history.
• Leaders and decision-makers delude themselves, thinking they can avoid their fate -- they can't. If survival is threatened, there is no alternative to war, however destructive.
https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/
Ergeneqon , , December 20, 2018 at 11:50 am
This will be good for Turkey in the long run.

By 2023, don't be surprised if the Turks have annexed both northern Iraq and northern Syria.

Badger , , December 20, 2018 at 12:05 pm
I'm no fan of the president and have basically disagreed with everything he has done since taking office. But I fully agree with him on this policy change and hope we continue to withdraw from other pointless military quagmires around the world. I can't believe I'm writing this but well done Mr President.
John Balch , , December 20, 2018 at 12:28 pm
No because he is replacing them with uncontrollable paid mercenaries just like he is doing in Afghanistan that way the United States is no longer responsible if they commit war crimes. George W. Bush did it in Iraq using "Blackwater Security aka Academi Company now" until Iraq kicked them out for killing incent civilians.
SteveK9 , , December 20, 2018 at 1:16 pm
The first bit of actual good news in 2 years. Trump is finally acting on what he ran on. Next, Afghanistan. Peace will reign in Syria in a short time now. The Kurds will receive some limited autonomy from Damascus. Damascus will keep them under control, so Turkey will not need to invade Syria to destroy them. The SAA and Russia will wipe out what is left of ISIS in short order, then turn to the hard-core terrorists in Idleb, while Turkey tells its proxies to join the political process. Syria will have survived one of the most vicious multi-national efforts to dismember the country.

Losers # 1: Israel

One Guy , , December 20, 2018 at 2:17 pm
"my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency."

Because everything is about Trump. The troops weren't there, HE was there. "Me, me, me, ME!!"

Sid , , December 20, 2018 at 3:24 pm
Never thought I'd see the day when American troops would be withdrawn from anywhere! Surely unconstitutional or something This president really does have some crazy ideas!
Fred Bowman , , December 20, 2018 at 3:27 pm
Well about time for the US to pull out of Syria. Shouldn't been there in the 1st place. Maybe one by one the US will start pulling out of some of the other misadventures in the Middle East, and let the nations in the Middle East solve there own problems. Of course, I'm not going to hold my breath, but nevertheless a 1st step had to be taken.

[Dec 22, 2018] Trump made the right decision to quit Syrian conflict by M.K. Bhadrakumar

Notable quotes:
"... Russian President Vladimir Putin echoed on Thursday the widespread skepticism whether Trump's decision will be enforced by Pentagon commanders. Yet the odds are that they just might. This needs explaining. Admittedly, Trump is still a quintessential "outsider" in the Washington Beltway, but then, he also enjoys the backing of a good majority of the American people who are tired of the United States' endless wars abroad. ..."
"... Indeed, a coalition of disgruntled elements and assorted interest groups is forming to debunk Trump. Simply put, they are unhappy that the US military is pulling out of Syria. For many, a gravy train is running while for some others, the issue is Trump – not even Syria. ..."
"... Evidently, there is a sophistry in their campaign against Trump's decision. Principally, three phony arguments are being advanced – that Trump's decision "baffles" the United States' allies; that he has thrown the Kurds under the bus; and that a US pullout from Syria harms the anti-ISIS fight. ..."
"... At any rate, the brunt of the fight against the ISIS was borne by the Syrian government forces and their allies – remember Aleppo? Their grit to finish the job has never been in doubt and there is no reason to fear any let-up. In fact, their interest lies in stabilizing the security situation in the quickest possible way so the political process leading to a post-conflict Syrian order can be speeded up. ..."
"... Ironically, the departure of the US forces could help matters, since in many ways the US military presence only impeded the anti-ISIS fight in Syria. It is well known that terrorist groups took shelter in the US-led security zones in eastern Syria ..."
"... The Al-Tanf base and its 50-square-kilometer security perimeter was only the most glaring example. Again, the "no-fly zones" prevented Syrian and Russian jets from hunting down the ISIS cadres and de facto amounted to US air cover for terrorists. ..."
"... Succinctly put, the Americans are laboring under an illusion that they alone "won" the war against the ISIS in Syria, or Iraq. This illusion must be purged. No, without the 2,000 American troops, Syria isn't about to collapse like a sack of potatoes or become the revolving door for international terrorists. Trust the Russians and Iranians to eliminate the scourge of terrorism from Syrian soil, because it directly affects their own national security. ..."
"... The alliance with the Kurdish militia in Syria has severely damaged US-Turkish relations. Turkey will never allow the creation of a Kurdish homeland on its borders, and it has a congruence of interests with Iraq and Iran – and even Syria – in this regard. ..."
Dec 22, 2018 | www.atimes.com

700 days out of US President Donald Trump's 1,461 days of presidency seem a wasteland of unfulfilled promises and expectations in foreign policy – except, perhaps, on the Korean Peninsula – things dramatically changed on December 19 when he announced the troop withdrawal from Syria.

Taken together with Washington's hurry to negotiate with the Afghan Taliban, it appears that Trump is, finally, on the move as a man of peace, fulfilling the pledge of Candidate Trump to prioritize nation-building over extravagant military adventures in faraway lands.

However, the big question remains: Is the Washington establishment ready for Trump's action plan? The signs so far are very discouraging. The resignation of US Defense Secretary James Mattis raises the stakes incalculably.

Russian President Vladimir Putin echoed on Thursday the widespread skepticism whether Trump's decision will be enforced by Pentagon commanders. Yet the odds are that they just might. This needs explaining. Admittedly, Trump is still a quintessential "outsider" in the Washington Beltway, but then, he also enjoys the backing of a good majority of the American people who are tired of the United States' endless wars abroad. And that becomes a decisive factor in Trump's political calculus. This is one thing.

A proxy war

Indeed, a coalition of disgruntled elements and assorted interest groups is forming to debunk Trump. Simply put, they are unhappy that the US military is pulling out of Syria. For many, a gravy train is running while for some others, the issue is Trump – not even Syria.

For the Cold Warriors in the strategic community, Syria is a proxy war against Russia.

Evidently, there is a sophistry in their campaign against Trump's decision. Principally, three phony arguments are being advanced – that Trump's decision "baffles" the United States' allies; that he has thrown the Kurds under the bus; and that a US pullout from Syria harms the anti-ISIS fight.

To take the last argument first – what will be the impact on the Syrian situation? To be sure, ISIS is down, but not quite out. But then, ISIS is today only residual terrorism, after the huge defeat in Iraq.

At any rate, the brunt of the fight against the ISIS was borne by the Syrian government forces and their allies – remember Aleppo? Their grit to finish the job has never been in doubt and there is no reason to fear any let-up. In fact, their interest lies in stabilizing the security situation in the quickest possible way so the political process leading to a post-conflict Syrian order can be speeded up.

Ironically, the departure of the US forces could help matters, since in many ways the US military presence only impeded the anti-ISIS fight in Syria. It is well known that terrorist groups took shelter in the US-led security zones in eastern Syria .

The Al-Tanf base and its 50-square-kilometer security perimeter was only the most glaring example. Again, the "no-fly zones" prevented Syrian and Russian jets from hunting down the ISIS cadres and de facto amounted to US air cover for terrorists.

National security

Succinctly put, the Americans are laboring under an illusion that they alone "won" the war against the ISIS in Syria, or Iraq. This illusion must be purged. No, without the 2,000 American troops, Syria isn't about to collapse like a sack of potatoes or become the revolving door for international terrorists. Trust the Russians and Iranians to eliminate the scourge of terrorism from Syrian soil, because it directly affects their own national security.

Therefore, isn't it the smart thing to do to let "others" do the job, as Trump put it? However unpalatable the thought might be, a tragedy like the attack on the US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut in 1983 is waiting to happen in Syria once the Turkish military crushes and scatters the Kurdish militia, leaving the 2,000 US troops stranded like sitting ducks in 12 bases in the middle of nowhere spread over a vast territory about one-third the size of all Syria.

Wouldn't Trump know he's skating on thin ice? For if body bags were to come home, the political cost would be his – not Mattis'.

Equally, Trump can no longer take for granted the Saudi willingness generously to bankroll the United States' war in Syria, especially if the self-styled humanists on the Hill proceed with their foreign-policy agenda to wreak vengeance on Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. You can't have the cake and eat it too, can you?

The ground reality is that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Jordan have exited the Syrian conflict. Egypt has no stomach to get involved and Turkey, of course, has turned hostile. So who are these "allies" that the agitated folks in the US are talking about? The frank answer is: a clutch of British and French operatives and a horde of Western mercenaries. Isn't this a macabre joke?

The Americans have been acting as "spoilers" in Syria, locked in a geopolitical struggle that has very little to do with fighting terrorism and has only impeded the stabilization of the Syrian situation. Thus it is no coincidence that Trump unveiled his considered decision just as the announcement was made in Geneva that the pan-Syrian committee for the drafting of a new constitution has been set up, which will work under United Nations supervision to galvanize a political process leading to elections and the formation of a new government enjoying the mandate of the people.

Turkey and the Kurds

Finally, the Kurdish factor. The alliance with the Kurdish militia in Syria has severely damaged US-Turkish relations. Turkey will never allow the creation of a Kurdish homeland on its borders, and it has a congruence of interests with Iraq and Iran – and even Syria – in this regard.

On the other hand, without a strong partnership with Turkey, a "swing" state overlooking several regions, American strategies not only in the Greater Middle East but also in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Balkans, the Black Sea and the Caucasus will be at a serious disadvantage. Now, is that something the US can afford?

The US has done a great injustice to the Kurds by giving them false hopes. Leave them alone. They will reconcile with Damascus, availing of the good offices of Russians who have dealt with them from time immemorial.

Plainly put, the Pentagon's trainers and Special Forces "embedded" with Kurdish men and women fighters helped develop romantic notions of creating an independent country for their partners. This should never have happened.

[Dec 22, 2018] Media's Russia Obsession Obscures How Trump's Syria Withdrawal Benefits Turkey Most

Dec 22, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

PATRICK COCKBURN: The Turks benefit from this. It also shows, you know, that Turkey is really powerful in the region. You know, they've moved a lot of troops up to the border. They'd been threatening to come in anyway. I think, you know, portraying this as Russia being the big winner, this is pretty naive, or even childish, in many ways. It's in Russia's interests that the U.S. should stay in Syria in alliance with the Kurds, which means that the U.S. is probably confronting Turkey, whose main policy objective is to eliminate this Kurdish enclave. So if anything, you know, this is something which makes it easier for the administration to revive the old U.S. alliance with Turkey. And so it doesn't necessarily work in Russia's favor.

This is a very simpleminded view, that this benefits Russia. Turkey benefits because suddenly this whole area in northeast Syria becomes vulnerable to them. They've threatened to move in. They've talked about burying the Kurdish militants in ditches. And we know what happened earlier in the year in Afrin, another Kurdish enclave. You know, there was extreme ethnic cleansing. Almost half the Kurdish population was driven out, and hasn't come back. They've been taken over by extreme Arab jihadis. So yeah, it's very much in Turkey's interests what's happened. But it is not necessarily in Russia's interests at all. BEN NORTON: Yeah, Donald Trump himself, in fact, repeatedly tweeted this on December 20 in response to the news. You know, many media reports portrayed this as a gift to Russia and Iran. Trump pointed out that now Russia and Iran will be fighting ISIS on their own in Syria, and there are still elements of ISIS that are in the country. Thousands of fighters, although ISIS doesn't control a territorial capital, as it had in the past. And what's also interesting about this is that on the same day Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops on December 19, the U.S. State Department also cleared a $3.5 billion sale of air defense systems to Turkey. And in addition to that, a few journalists, mostly Kurdish and Turkish journalists, pointed out that Trump's decision to withdraw came just two days, or a few days, after he had a phone call with the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. And just two days before that decision, Erdogan had, in fact, claimed that in the phone call Trump had agreed, had greenlighted, to a Turkish assault on northeast Syria. Turkey has been trying to get the U.S. to get approval to send Turkish troops and embedded jihadist rebels east of the Euphrates River. So do you think that this is essentially a kind of green light from Trump, saying to Erdogan go ahead and invade?

PATRICK COCKBURN: Well, it kind of–it opens the door to that. Green light creates a picture of somebody saying, you know, go for it. Which is doubtful. But you withdraw the troops, Turkey has been threatening to intervene. Yeah, I think, you know, it may well amount to that.

I think that, you know, it's easy to pillory what Trump said and did. You know, saying that the Islamic State will come back, ISIS will come back. But you know, this was a movement that once controlled territory really from Baghdad to almost to the Mediterranean. And you know, it just lost its last small town on the east of the Euphrates in eastern Syria. So you know, will it come back? Well, yeah, there will be more guerrilla warfare. But again, you know, what strikes me about a lot of the coverage is it's kind of hysterical. It kind of–it is based on a sort of conspiratorial view of what Trump is up to, what his relations with the Russians are. You know, this stuff is so far from the reality of what's actually happening on the ground in Syria, or in Iraq, for that matter. It's very difficult to to discuss it or contradict it. But it's just sort of off the wall.

BEN NORTON: And the question now up in the air is what will happen to the Kurdish forces in northeast Syria, specifically the YPG, the People's Protection Units, which control this area in the northeast. For months now the YPG has, in fact, had kind of on and off relations with Damascus, the central government of Syria. They had brief negotiations and peace talks, and they made some–a few agreements. But it seems that the agreements didn't go very far. It seems to me that this decision will encourage the YPG to seek further rapprochement and a kind of alliance with Damascus. So what do you think-

PATRICK COCKBURN: They'll be desperate to do that right now, because they may not like Damascus very much, but they'd much prefer the Syrian government to the Turks. They're really terrified of the Turks coming in. They're threatened. They are terrified of ethnic cleansing. So they'll go to Damascus.

Now, previously, because of the U.S. presence that inhibited them, stopped them doing that. And also the Russians didn't want them to do that. So they'll do that. But it's it's–you know, the Turkish army is pretty big, pretty strong. Even supposing the Syrian army came into this enclave it wouldn't necessarily be able to stop the Turks. I mean, what's happened is that, you know, if you go to that area, one, it's not a great place for the Turks to fight against heavy armor and aircraft. It's very flat, most of the east of the Euphrates. Not many mountains, or no mountains, and few hills. And also mostly about 2 million Kurds there. But a lot of them are in towns or cities along the Syrian-Turkish border. Often cities, when the frontier was drawn up between Syria and Turkey, it ran along the old railway line between Aleppo and Mosul. And so cities were cut in half. Kurdish cities were cut in half. So a lot of these the Kurds live within artillery range of the Turkish army/.

It's important to talk about this, because if the Turks do come across, we could have a great wave of 2 million Kurds taking to the roads, desperate to get out, going to northern Iraq, going elsewhere. And there seems very little concern about this, and it's kind of depressing to hear these sort of conspiracy theories about Russia when what is happening is that, you know, is in many ways pretty–you know, pretty simple, but pretty bad.

BEN NORTON: And then finally, Patrick, let's just take a big look at what's going on here. What do you think this will mean for the future of the war in Syria? The war has been going on since early 2011, and it looks like the conflict is really finally in its final stages. It might come to an end pretty soon. We've also seen, interestingly, negotiations between Iran, Russia, and Syria, and Turkey. And specifically, Iran, Turkey, and Russia have had these kinds of peace negotiations. They've had some developments, some breakthroughs, and then some obstacles. But the three of them, it seems like they have had many agreements, although there are some agreements that seem pretty intractable. And I think the question of Idlib, and now the question of the Northeast, seem to be two major obstacles that Russia, Iran, and Turkey have really different views on. So with this potentially the U.S. withdrawal, would this potentially accelerate a peace negotiation for the end of the war? Or could it potentially usher in a new phase of the war?

PATRICK COCKBURN: It could go either way. It's very difficult to tell which way the ball will roll after this. Will the Turks come in directly, or will the Russians try to stop them? Will the Syrian government sort of take over the, do a deal with the Kurds and take over? You know, if the Turks do come in, what will happen to the Kurds in this area? You know, it's about 50-50 Kurds and Arabs. And they–you know, the relations are very hostile. You know, there could be a lot of revenge killings in this area.

So you know, it's difficult to say that. But I think a lot of this has to do with Trump wanting to get on better terms with Turkey. And if he does want to do anything against Iran, having better relations with Turkey is essential. But the actual having a U.S.–a Kurdish enclave supported by the U.S. in Turkey never really, you know, didn't do any damage to the Russians, and didn't do any damage to Iran. So I think the idea that this is, you know, Happy Christmas for Putin and slogans like that is really completely unrealistic.

BEN NORTON: We'll have to end our conversation there. We were speaking with the award-winning journalist Patrick Cockburn, who has for decades been a foreign correspondent for the British newspaper the Independent, and he's also the author of several books. Thanks so much for joining us, Patrick.

PATRICK COCKBURN: Thank you.

BEN NORTON: For The Real News Network, I'm Ben Norton.


Pym of Nantucket , December 21, 2018 at 10:17 am

This all started with Khashoggi. Another aligned news story that wasn't mentioned above was Trump musing aloud about rounding up Gulen.

Pavel , December 21, 2018 at 10:47 am

The Grauniad just quoted a tweet from a predictably OUTRAGED @HillaryClinton:

Actions have consequences, and whether we're in Syria or not, the people who want to harm us are there & at war. Isolationism is weakness. Empowering ISIS is dangerous. Playing into Russia & Iran's hands is foolish. This President is putting our national security at grave risk.

This from the woman who almost singlehandedly (i.e. along with David Cameron and Sarkovy) destroyed Libya and allowed -- if not encouraged -- the flow of US weapons to go into the hands of ISIS allies in the US-Saudi-Israeli obsession with toppling Assad regardless of the consequences. As Justin Raimondo wrote in Antiwar.com in 2015:

The policy of the Obama administration, and particularly Hillary Clinton's State Department, was – and still is – regime change in Syria. This overrode all other considerations. We armed, trained, and "vetted" the Syrian rebels, even as we looked the other way while the Saudis and the Gulf sheikdoms funded groups like al-Nusra and al-Qaeda affiliates who wouldn't pass muster. And our "moderates" quickly passed into the ranks of the outfront terrorists, complete with the weapons we'd provided.

This crazy policy was an extension of our regime change operation in Libya, a.k.a. "Hillary's War," where the US – "leading from behind" – and a coalition of our Western allies and the Gulf protectorates overthrew Muammar Qaddafi. There, too, we empowered radical Islamists with links to al-Qaeda affiliates – and then used them to ship weapons to their Syrian brothers, as another document uncovered by Judicial Watch shows.

After HRC's multiple foreign policy fiascos she is the last person who should be commenting on this matter.

a different chris , December 21, 2018 at 11:50 am

>the people who want to harm us are there & at war

Sounds like then they are too busy to harm us? She is truly an idiot. Thanks again, Ivy League.

flora , December 21, 2018 at 10:54 am

We used to jokingly call the Washington Post 'Pravda on the Potomac' because of what appeared to be occasional heavy spin – the official story – in news coverage on foreign policy. Now, the new coverage seems to be 'all spin all the time'. It's getting harder and harder find reporting on foreign policy issues.

Thanks for this post.

Ptb , December 21, 2018 at 11:12 am

Middle east 101 – it's the pipeline options.

What is the most valuable thing Turkey has? The ability to block pipelines to Europe. They need to have Syria in semi chaos to complete that block, but it is already the case. And there is no shortage of cheap options to maintain it, nor any huge objection by regional players to maintain it.

Turkey, otoh, controls its territory well enough to make its own moves, leveraging its strategically central location to the max. (The whole flood-the-EU-with-refugees extortion move was just vicious. Kissinger would be proud )

Also the pipeline expansion is a big part of the Russia phobia too. Keeping hydrocarbons flowing by sea under the protection of the navy is a cornerstone of maintaining global security. Thus, as long as Turkey blocks Russian pipelines too, it will get away with it for the time being.

With a likely Emerging markets bust, however, TR will be at the mercy of creditors, so Erdogan is going to need a whole new stack of cards to play for that round, which wol be next year very possibly.

Nick Stokes , December 21, 2018 at 11:18 am

No, the Russia obsession shows how the US military is being used. Increase activity in Yemen and Africa since 2017 parallels Russia's goals.

Susan the other , December 21, 2018 at 1:02 pm

Thanks for this post. I makes the best sense of our actions. We want to keep Turkey loyal to NATO, keep them buying our missiles, etc. The raging hatred of Turkey for the Kurds and their pursuit of a corner of land to call their own somewhere in the east of Turkey (close to huge oil reserves) and the threat of relentless terrorism has been Erdogan's big nightmare. At odds with Erdogan has been the policy of the US Military which has always used the Kurds as trusted allies in the ME. But all the sturm und drang of Syria has now subsided and seems to have been almost pointless thanks to the Saudis falling apart. At least it looks that way. And this also explains Mattis' abrupt resignation, explicitly stating he does not agree with Trump turning his back on the Kurds. Basically. Mattis has worked with the Kurds for decades probably. The only question now is what concessions did we get from Erdogan that Turkey will not have a total pogrom on the Kurds? It is going to be interesting to see what becomes of the Saudis as well.

Synoia , December 21, 2018 at 1:10 pm

Non more Kurds in the Way?

A sharp lesson for US allies – nothing endures .

[Dec 21, 2018] The White House announces some sort of US troop withdrawal from Syria

Notable quotes:
"... The only losers are the Israelis and the Saudis ..."
"... Now is the time for noninterventionists of all colors to support these decisions. ..."
"... I have seen some indication that we (the USA) will be removing support for Saudi activities in Yemen ..."
"... How much more flak could the neocons give him at this point. Short of assassinating him they've just about thrown everything they have at him. ..."
"... This is good news. It is insane to occupy a third of Syria risking a world war. But I heard the other day Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon accusing Russia of using Facebook to destroy American democratic values. That is crazy. ..."
"... If Trump pulls the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan just before the next presidential election - I think he can win it. There is strong bipartisan support for bringing the troops home. I am Canadian and a lefty - but if I were an American I would vote for Trump in the next election if he pulled the troops out (as long as his democratic opponent was not making a credible pledge to do the same). ..."
Dec 21, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

TTG , a day ago

The papers are saying withdrawal in 30 days. I don't know when the clock starts. That's fast, but enough time to coordinate the withdrawal with Damascus and her allies. The only losers are the Israelis and the Saudis . Between this bold and far reaching decision by Trump and the reestablishment of USSPACECOM, he is being presidential on a grand scale and keeping promises. He's going to get a lot of flak from neocons on the left and right. Now is the time for noninterventionists of all colors to support these decisions.
Pat Lang Mod -> TTG , a day ago
I would think that 30 days is an impossibly short period. It is not just a matter of climbing on board aircraft to leave. It should be noted that the US has a long record of walking away from allied peoples and groups in a treacherous way. People who trust us even in extremis are fools. When you no longer serve our purpose we are done with you. Having been involved in several of such abandonments I speak from experience.
dilbertdogbert -> Pat Lang , a day ago
A friend of mine was in 1st Log in Saigon and was told the order was to get out stuff out in some silly assed time frame. He replied that we had been putting stuff in Vietnam for 10 years and you want it all out pronto???!!!
Pat Lang Mod -> dilbertdogbert , a day ago
A good story but we actually back-hauled a great deal of materiel and still left the ARVNs enough that the communists sold it all over the world for years. My outfit at the end was STDAT-158. We were the rump of MACVSOG left behind to keep up the good work in that vale of tears. We had vast warehouses full of weapons, ammunition, clothing, commo gear, medical supplies, etc. We sent much of it to Okinawa and turned the rest of it over to our remaining native troops. They were non-Vietnamese who were not ARVN. They went into the jungle north of Pleiku where we had bought them at their request since the USG would not evacuate them and their families from the country - BOHICA! I argued as best a major could to set them up somewhere like Palau until I was told to shut up. Alas.
Eric Newhill -> TTG , a day ago
TTG,
I have seen some indication that we (the USA) will be removing support for Saudi activities in Yemen . The Kashogi killing seems to be the excuse. So maybe there is a grander general withdrawal from MENA involvement afoot. How much more flak could the neocons give him at this point. Short of assassinating him they've just about thrown everything they have at him.
Strawman -> TTG , 8 hours ago
TTG, I am wondering if you have an opinion on the writings of active duty Army Maj. Danny Sjursen, who posts a lot at tomdispatch.com and is reprinted at truthdig.com . Though often critical of the president, his latest (linked below) is approving of Trump's Syria move:

https://www.truthdig.com/ar...

TTG -> TTG , a day ago
Other sources are saying 60 to 100 days for a complete withdrawal. That's fine. Now is the time for those Special Forces teams working with the Kurds and Arabs of the YPG/YPJ and SDF to finally complete a full cycle of a US sponsored resistance, the demobilization and/or integration of those forces into the host government's forces.
Pave Way IV -> TTG , a day ago
Too bad we didn't go full cycle with the Houthis. Or is it still a secret that GBs were working with them against al Qaeda in Yemen way back when.
TTG -> Pave Way IV , a day ago
You would be surprised (or maybe not) at the range of people our Special Forces have worked with. I wrote this a while back about our work with the Iranian Green Berets. Some of the meet-ups I imagined may take place.

https://turcopolier.typepad...

Pat Lang Mod -> Pave Way IV , a day ago
Yes. It is, more or less and fine little fellows they are, or at least their grandfathers were.
SurfaceBook -> TTG , a day ago
TTG. , theres some Russia reports on fighters from Syria moving to Africa , will this mean an increase of US African activities after syria ? or do you foresee another theatre of increased activity ?
TTG -> SurfaceBook , a day ago
I'm sure jihadis from Syria are making their way to various fronts in Africa. I doubt Trump will be sending troops to the continent in response beyond a few more SF teams. I imagine the Russians will be sending a few teams of their own.
SurfaceBook -> TTG , a day ago
What do you think when you see AFRICOM increased activity in africa ? is this one of the neocon's way to counter china's influence in africa in the future ? The French also got heavily involved in Mali and yet there still no end of it..
VietnamVet , a day ago
This is good news. It is insane to occupy a third of Syria risking a world war. But I heard the other day Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon accusing Russia of using Facebook to destroy American democratic values. That is crazy.

The Yellow Vests provincial French uprising is destroying corporate toll booths and speed cameras. This plus Brexit documents how fragile the Western Alliance is. The anger across the West is due to horrendous inequality, privatization, political incompetence, and degradation of life. Instead of picking fights with everyone across the world, Mid America needs rebuilding and healing to prevent a revolt at home.

Pat Lang Mod -> VietnamVet , a day ago
The Democrats and especially the real lefties like Wyden have no ability to block Trump in this so long as he is president
TTG , a day ago
As a corollary to today's announcement, we should see our troops out of Tanf most rikki-tik. I bet we could get out of there in 24 hours if we had to. That would open the Baghdad-Damascus Highway.
JJackson -> TTG , 17 hours ago
I was wondering, with the benefit of hind sight, who knew in advance given a flurry of SAA activity recently around At Tanf. I doubted the point was a show down with the US now it looks like an encirclement to intercept the force fleeing the area, once the US pulls out, and in preparation for clearing the pocket.
Pat Lang Mod , a day ago
For general information TTG is the designated hitter on Syria but the the contributions of all, especially Robert Willman are very welcomed
Eric Newhill , 2 days ago
A good start! Now, if Trump can also get our troops out of Afghanistan, he will have fulfilled another campaign promise and free up some money for yet another; The Wall.
James Thomas -> Eric Newhill , a day ago
If Trump pulls the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan just before the next presidential election - I think he can win it. There is strong bipartisan support for bringing the troops home. I am Canadian and a lefty - but if I were an American I would vote for Trump in the next election if he pulled the troops out (as long as his democratic opponent was not making a credible pledge to do the same).
Pat Lang Mod -> James Thomas , a day ago
What would "credible" be?
ancient archer -> Pat Lang , 14 hours ago
Good point, Colonel. Given the past and recent record of democrats nothing they say on this topic can ever be credible to anyone.
Greco , 2 days ago
That's a positive indication, but I thought the calculus was to force the Iranians out? Is Trump now willing to engage a more diplomatic approach with Iran? Has neocon influence lost momentum?

It looks like this is the rationale behind this move:

https://www.thetelegram.com...

Ayham Kamel, an analyst with Eurasia Group, said Moscow, as part of any deal, may ask for acceptance of Assad and an eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, as Trump has suggested he would like to see happen by the end of the year.

"A public deal that accepts Assad in return for limiting Iranian influence implicitly if not explicitly gives him some legitimacy, and gives a much more coherent meaning for the victory beyond military terms," he said.

The president has also been trying to work out some sort of deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Apparently the president wants to remove all US troops in Afghanistan by the time of the 2020 election season. I'd certainly like to see that happen too.

https://taskandpurpose.com/...

smoothieX12 -> Greco , 16 hours ago
That's a positive indication, but I thought the calculus was to force the Iranians out?

Iran activities in Syria will be limited (or regulated, if one wishes) by Russia-Israeli arrangement, it is a given. Syrian air-defense officers Mustafa Ivanov and Akhmed Petrov manning all those air-defense toys in Syria (S-300 PMU et al) saw to that. Russia is NOT Israel's enemy but she expects some set of rules which work for everyone in Syria. IDF top brass nowadays visits Moscow as if going to work everyday.

Patrick Armstrong , 10 hours ago
I think the tiny minds that infest this site would do well to expose themselves to the larger strategic thinking of Mia Farrow:

"As Trump pulls troops out of Syria, we must acknowledge the enormity of
the world's failure to halt a humanitarian catastrophe . U.S exit
benefits Russia, ISIS - still active, Iran & Assad. Was this agreed
to during Putin/Trump's 2 hour Helsinki meeting- without witnesses?"

Bill Browder says it's a gift to Putin.

Here's some good reading https://www.rt.com/op-ed/44...

No doubt more to come. I look forward to the pink pussy hats carrying signs "No to grabbing! Yes to bombing!"

BrotherJoe , 16 hours ago
Being cynical for a second, could this be a response to the House's refusal to fund the border wall ? I can imagine the Israeli lobby putting pressure on Congress to make any deal necessary to retain American forces in Iraq. Is this overly convoluted thinking ?

On a second note, the Colonel has posted elsewhere about Erdogan's ambition to (re)establish a pan-Turkic alliance across the ME. Will the fact that he won't have the US as a buffer against Russsia be a help or a hindrance ?

Eugene Owens , a day ago
US withdrawal from Syria was a kickback to Erdogan for buying $3.5 Billion in Patriot missiles instead of the Russian S400.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2...

Pat Lang Mod -> Eugene Owens , a day ago
Plausible, but it was something he wanted to do anyway.
Jaime , a day ago
I hope this time is for real. I wonder what kind of deal Erdogan and Trump reached.
Pat Lang Mod -> Jaime , a day ago
Continued support
FB Ali -> Pat Lang , a day ago
And Patriots (on deferred payment, I presume).

As always seems to happen, the Kurds get thrown under the bus! They seem to have a remarkable ability to screw up their alliances.

ISL -> Pat Lang , a day ago
Dear Colonel,

There also are reports of sales of Patriots, so maybe Turkey has decided against the S-300 (for the time being).

FB Ali -> ISL , a day ago
Anyone hoping this means the Turks have cut their ties to the Russians is sadly mistaken. They've taken the free Patriots, and will use the funds earmarked for the S-300 to pay for the gas coming from Russia.
Eugene Owens -> FB Ali , 16 hours ago
And sadly, the inner technical workings of the Patriots and their radar systems will now be open to inspection by GRU technical intelligence experts. Same for the F35 if that deal frees up in Congress.
ISL -> FB Ali , a day ago
Dear FB Ali,

I suspect that is what the Trump administration or more likely Trump himself (no matter what the intelligence agencies say) personally believes (but then he doesnt listen to briefings).

It was apparent that Erdogan believes the US was behind the coup against him and thus will ensure he has ace's up his sleeve (i.e., air defenses that could not (potentially) be turned off by NATO). Call it a strategic and temporary turn from Russia (for a few months?).

Adrestia , a day ago
According to Southfront some troops will stay, but they give no source for this.

https://southfront.org/u-s-...

A notable part of US Special Operations Forces will remain on the ground
and additional forces of US-linked private military companies will be
deployed to "defend American interests"

Pat Lang Mod -> Adrestia , a day ago
"Some troops" is probably the neocons and generals' club attempt to blunt Trump's decision
TTG -> Adrestia , a day ago
The first US troops in were a couple of dozen Green Berets. They will probably be the last ones out. If all goes well, they will hand over liaison duties to SAA, Russian or even IRGC counterparts (loosely speaking). At least that's the way I think it should go.
Pat Lang Mod , a day ago
As TTG says here the Rojava Kurds have a chance here but the window will close quickly if they do not embrace fully the Syrian government. I suspect that the Russians have made a deal with Turkey that involves a cessation of support of jihadis in Idlib and possibly Afrin in return for a free hand against the Rojava Kurds and that Trump personally and against advice made that decision.
Walrus , 2 days ago
...Leaving a vacuum to be filled by?
TTG -> Walrus , a day ago
The supposed vacuum is Syrian territory. Damascus and the SAA will fill it just fine. The Kurds would be suicidal fools to resist.
Jaime -> TTG , a day ago
I think one should NEVER betray one's own. Unless Russia gets some deal for the Kurds, they will be thrown under the bus. The only place where they can get some mercy is, again, in Damascus. If you ask me, I would crush them.
TTG -> Jaime , a day ago
Assad's policy is to eventually exert control over ALL Syrian territory. He wants the Kurds to be an integral part of that Syria, probably more integral than a lot of Kurds would want. If we facilitate that transfer, we will for once do right by an indigenous ally. It is time for the demobilization phase. Special Forces commanders should be doing everything in their power to ensure this is part of the withdrawal plan. That's how we avoid betraying the Rojava Kurds.
Pat Lang Mod -> Jaime , a day ago
'If you ask me, I would crush them." Ah, a cruel, fierce man you are...
Jaime -> Pat Lang , 13 hours ago
No, Sir. In fact, it is true that human nature has its contradictions. War is a total waste of resources -both human and material. Negotiations and diplomacy are much better courses of action. I guess I got carried away, and I reacted irrationally. Syria has suffered enough, and I hope that the parties can find ways to put away their weapons and start the recontruction of their country despite the mistakes from all sides.
ISL -> Jaime , a day ago
Assad also knows the Kurds are a problem for Turkey, which is in Syria's interests.
Pat Lang Mod -> Jaime , a day ago
if you were Damascus?
John Waddell -> TTG , a day ago
Might be a bit of a tussle with Turkey but its probable that Damascus and the SDF have been in talks for a while so hopefully this time, as opposed to Afrin, the Kurds will see sense. The Turks biggest fear must be PKK spreading along their southern border and if Syria/Russia can give them some assurances re that then perhaps they will sit back and watch.

This will leave the SAA and RuAF, with Iraqi help, to get stuck in on a proper demolition of the remaining ISIS units followed by a Idlib campaign.

There is an implication in this move by the US that they have evacuated anyone that matters from their proxy units. How the remaining disposable foot soldiers react to that is an unknown so a factor in a rapid withdrawal to reduce shot in the back risk.

If Trump also wants to get out of Afghanistan perhaps this is a small scale dry run.

Julius HK -> TTG , a day ago
To say the least, Netanyahou is not going to have a good night sleep from now on...
Pat Lang Mod -> Julius HK , a day ago
I don't think so. The re-opening of the Quneitra crossing speaks to a change in Israeli policy.

[Dec 21, 2018] Trump End the Syria War Now by Eric Margolis

Highly recommended!
This article written more then a year ago still reads as today analysis of the situation. Bravo !
Notable quotes:
"... That's fine, but the problem is that Trump's track record so far makes it impossible to give him unalloyed credit for this. ..."
"... Who exactly is the US at war against in Syria and why is it going on? http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-u-s-military-bases-in-syria-their-precise-location-is-known/5600527 ..."
"... Trump has decided. Perhaps. But do the CIA and/or Pentagon really care what Trump decides? Thank you for this concise summation of Imperial Washington's war against Syria. ..."
"... The goal of supporting the Kurds is still a priority, to advance Israel's fall back position of partition. It would prefer the chaos of a regime run by jihadi scum (not going to happen thanks to V. Putin) but either way we'll do Israel's bidding. ..."
"... As so often, the weakness of the argument is obvious in the first sentence: "Many Americans voted for Donald Trump because he vowed to end the foreign conflicts in which the US had become entangled". I can't say I recall any such vow. Trump is a master of doubletalk. He says everything and the contrary of everything. ..."
"... Where is the "Special Prosecutor" on this? Assange: 'CIA Not Only Armed Syria's Insurgents -- It Paid Their Salaries' http://www.informationliberation.com/?id=57076 ..."
"... "Pompeo and David B. Rivkin Jr., a senior fellow at the neoconservative think-tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies, argued in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal that "Legal and bureaucratic impediments to surveillance should be removed." Pompeo has also suggested that National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden should be executed." ..."
"... ZeroHedge: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-23/five-weird-conspiracy-theories-cia-director-mike-pompeo "Mike Pompeo sounds increasingly unhinged when talking about Russia, Wikileaks and the media" ..."
"... U.S. Special Operations Commander Tony Thomas confirmed Friday that the U.S. had ended its covert program aiding rebel groups fighting against Syrian President Bashar Assad, saying the decision was made after assessing the years-long operation's capabilities and by no means an effort to curry favor with Assad's chief backer, Moscow ..."
"... Lavrov has some pretty direct and well-deserved words for Obama. Thus, Lavrov compares Obama to a small kid unable to comprehend the responsibilities of his position of a President of the US. ..."
"... Oded Yinon in his famous article "proceeds to analyze the weaknesses of Arab countries concluding that Israel should aim to bring about the fragmentation of the Arab world into a mosaic of ethnic and confessional groupings. "Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation," he argued, would prove to be advantageous to Israel in the short term. Ilan Peleg described it as "an authentic mirror of the thinking mode of the Israeli Right at the height of Begin's rule." Chomsky warned against complacency about these fringe ideas since, he argued: "(t)he entire history of Zionism and later that of Israel, particularly since 1967, is one of a gradual shift towards the positions of those formerly regarded as right-wing extremists." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yinon_Plan ..."
"... van Creveld also stated: "We have the capability of taking the world down with us. And I assure you that will happen before Israel goes down." Food for thought! ..."
"... Tucker and Tulsi on Syria vs CIAria https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IGAXJNzPfU ..."
Jul 22, 2017 | www.unz.com

Many Americans voted for Donald Trump because he vowed to end the foreign conflicts in which the US had become entangled. So far, they have been disappointed. But this week a light flashed at the end of the tunnel.

President Trump, according to numerous reliable Washington sources, has decided to end US arms supplies and logistics support to Syria's jihadist rebels that have fuelled the bloody six-year conflict. Washington, and its allies Britain and France, have persistently denied arming Syria's jihadist rebels fighting to bring down the Russian and Iranian-backed government of President Bashar Assad.

Former President George W. Bush actively considered invading Syria around 2008 in collusion with Israel. But the Israelis then pointed out that there were no Western-friendly groups to replace Assad, only extreme militant Sunni Muslim groups. Even the usually reckless Bush called off the invasion of Syria.

By contrast, Barack Obama gave a green light to the CIA to arm, train and logistically support anti-Assad jihadist rebels in Syria. Arms poured in from Lebanon and, later, Turkey, paid for by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates. Small numbers of US, British and French advisors went to Syria to teach the jihadists how to use mortars, explosives, and anti-tank weapons. The media's claim that the fighting in Syria was due to a spontaneous popular uprising was false. The repressive Assad government was widely unpopular but the uprising was another CIA 'color-style' operation.

The object of this operation was to overthrow President Assad and his Shiite-leaning regime, which was supported by Iran, a bogeyman to all the US-backed feudal Arab oil monarchies. Syria was also to be punished because it refused Washington's demands to sever ties with Iran and accept US tutelage.

Then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton championed the covert war against Syria, arranging massive shipments of arms and munitions to the rebels from Kadaffi-era arms stores in Libya, and from Egypt, Croatia, likely Serbia, Bulgaria and Azerbaijan. Once again, the Gulf Arabs paid the bill.

The offensive against Syria was accompanied by a powerful barrage of anti-Assad propaganda from the US and British media. From the background, Israel and its partisans beat the war drum against the Assad government.

The result of the western-engendered carnage in Syria was horrendous: at least 475,000 dead, 5 million Syrian refugees driven into exile in neighboring states (Turkey alone hosts three million), and another 6 million internally displaced. That is, some 11 million Syrians, or 61% of the population, driven from their homes into wretched living conditions and near famine.

Two of Syria's greatest and oldest cities, Damascus and Aleppo, have been pounded into ruins. Jihadist massacres and Russian and American air strikes have ravaged once beautiful, relatively prosperous Syria. Its ancient Christian peoples are fleeing for their lives before US and Saudi takfiri religious fanatics.

Just when it appeared the jihadists were closing in on Damascus, limited but effective Russian military intervention abruptly changed the course of the war. The Syrian Army was able to regain the military initiative and push back the jihadists. Intermixed with so-called 'takfiri' rebels are some 3,000 ISIS jihadists who were originally armed and equipped by US advisors but have now run amok. They are under fierce western air attack in Syria and Iraq and are splintering.

Russia and the US have been inching toward a major war over Syria. In fact, US intervention has been far more extensive than generally believed, as this writer has been reporting for the past five years. Turkish media linked to the government in Ankara has just revealed that the US has at least ten small military bases in northern Syria being used to support rebel jihadist forces.

Meanwhile, the US is now relying almost entirely on Kurdish militias, know in Syria as YPG, to attack ISIS and act in US interests. This has outraged Turkey, which regards YPG as part of the hated Kurdish independence movement, PKK, against which Turkey has fought for two decades. During the 1980's, I covered the Turkish-PKK conflict in eastern Anatolia.

If YPG/PKK emerges victorious from the Syrian conflict, Kurdish demands for an independent state in south eastern Turkey will intensify, threatening the breakup of the Turkish state. Kurds make up some 20% of Turkey's population of 80 million.

For this very important reason, Turkey has been pulling away from US-run NATO, and warming relations with Moscow. Turkey has NATO's second largest armed forces and key airbases that cover the Mideast.

Trump's announced retreat from Syria -- if it turns out to be real -- will mark a major turning point in US-Russian relations. It could well avoid a clash between Russia and the US, both nuclear powers. The US has no real business in Syria and no strategic interests

America's powerful neocons, who have been pressing for war against Russia, will be furious. Expect the media war against Trump to intensify. So too claims that Trump colluded with Moscow to get elected.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2017


Randal , says: July 22, 2017 at 8:58 pm GMT

But this week a light flashed at the end of the tunnel. President Trump, according to numerous reliable Washington sources, has decided to end US arms supplies and logistics support to Syria's jihadist rebels that have fuelled the bloody six-year conflict.

That's fine, but the problem is that Trump's track record so far makes it impossible to give him unalloyed credit for this. At the moment it has to be counted as just another "up" moment in the rollercoaster ride that has been the Trump presidency so far. Will it foreshadow further moves towards sanity in foreign policy? Or will it just be followed by another literally stupid lurch back to the neocon-driven norm?

Looked at optimistically, you can read it as a sign that the underlying sensibleness of the patriotic "America first" noninterventionist approach (as opposed to the usual Israel/Saudi first, or US-uber-alles militarism, or "humanitarian interventionism" approach) is finally prevailing, or at least as a sign of a reduction in the US regime drive towards direct confrontation of Russia.

But looked at pessimistically, it's just an admission of the already obvious failure of one particular interventionist approach and its termination in favour of alternative approaches to the same ends, which will be followed by some idiocy such as another childish murder of Syrian conscripts when Trump is shown some more emotionally manipulative photographs.

Time will tell.

exiled off mainstreet , says: July 23, 2017 at 2:18 am GMT
Kudos to Mr. Margolis for penning an excellent article describing the real facts of the matter against the prevailing propaganda narrative and placing the blame, including by implication war crimes responsibility, where it belongs.
Gg Mo , says: July 23, 2017 at 3:14 am GMT
Why is NO ONE at UNZ covering the UN pay-to-play Corruption/Bribery trial of Ng Lap Seng ? More coming down the pike involving Ban Ki Moon's brother ! Thank Goodness for Mattew Lee at Inner City Press ! https://youtu.be/62YnvqveGYU
UNZ should DEFINITELY carry his reportage as he seems to be the ONLY one at the Pressers w/ Dujarric asking questions about ANYTHING at the UN.

http://www.innercitypress.com/unbribery63uncooperativeun072217.html

Russ , says: July 23, 2017 at 4:08 am GMT
A sidelined John McCain should be a greatly reduced impediment to an exit from Syria.
NoseytheDuke , says: July 23, 2017 at 4:12 am GMT
Who exactly is the US at war against in Syria and why is it going on? http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-u-s-military-bases-in-syria-their-precise-location-is-known/5600527
SND , says: July 23, 2017 at 4:28 am GMT

Former President George W. Bush actively considered invading Syria around 2008 in collusion with Israel. But the Israelis then pointed out that there were no Western-friendly groups to replace Assad, only extreme militant Sunni Muslim groups. Even the usually reckless Bush called off the invasion of Syria.

You mean the Israeli government's desire that the US fragment Middle Eastern Arab states for Israel's hegemonic purposes is actually a concern for "Western-friendly groups?" And the repeated Israeli statements that "ISIS would be better than Assad" means they totally changed their mind since Bush days? Something doesn't smell quite right here.

WorkingClass , says: July 23, 2017 at 4:29 am GMT

President Trump, according to numerous reliable Washington sources, has decided to end US arms supplies and logistics support to Syria's jihadist rebels that have fueled the bloody six-year conflict.

Trump has decided. Perhaps. But do the CIA and/or Pentagon really care what Trump decides? Thank you for this concise summation of Imperial Washington's war against Syria.

jilles dykstra , says: July 23, 2017 at 6:25 am GMT
The great thing resulting from the election of Trump is that it made quite clear how undemocratic the USA is, and how Israel influences, tries to determine, USA foreign policy. Trump and Putin agree on a partial cease fire in Syria, who objects ?: Netanyahu. What media continue accusing Trump on collusion with the enemy, Russia ? CNN, Washpost and NYT. I hope Trump survives the Cold Civil War. Kennedy did not.
Ace , says: July 23, 2017 at 8:47 am GMT
@Randal The goal of supporting the Kurds is still a priority, to advance Israel's fall back position of partition. It would prefer the chaos of a regime run by jihadi scum (not going to happen thanks to V. Putin) but either way we'll do Israel's bidding.

Mr. Margolis is must read for me but I wonder at his embrace of the "repressive," "unpopular" Assad regime view. I don't get that impression and it is certainly not the view of Eva Bartlett or Vanessa Beeley. The chemical weapons stuff is complete garbage as Margolis knows.

Renoman , says: July 23, 2017 at 8:50 am GMT
Trump will be very popular if he pulls this off, war in Syria is not in the US interest and being friends with Russia is a smart move. Go Trump!
Good article Eric!
Miro23 , says: July 23, 2017 at 9:01 am GMT

The result of the western-engendered carnage in Syria was horrendous: at least 475,000 dead, 5 million Syrian refugees driven into exile in neighboring states (Turkey alone hosts three million), and another 6 million internally displaced. That is, some 11 million Syrians, or 61% of the population, driven from their homes into wretched living conditions and near famine.

You can lay all this at the door of Israel, US Neo-cons and their Congressional and MSM collaborators + treasonous leaders like Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Same for the Iraq war (duck shoot) with its WMD lies and the MSM 9/11 trigger "Event". The US as an Israeli colony is a disaster for the people of Iraq, Libya and Syria and it's also the worst news for the 98% of Gentiles in the US who have now lost their country to these Zionist freaks.

Greg Bacon , says: Website July 23, 2017 at 9:08 am GMT
To claim that Israel got Bush the Mad to back off from invading Syria because they were concerned about moderate head choppers being the only ones who would fill the power vacuum is laughable. Israel has supported these thugs many times with medical care, money, shelter in the stolen Golan and most importantly, their MSM buddies printing all those stories about how Assad must go.

Israel had been directing its colony, the formerly free USA, to bust up Syria and murder Assad and that we have been faithfully trying to do, but that damned Putin got in the way, so sic the MSM on him and his buddy Trump.

The illegal war against Syria is far from over, Israel is PO that Syria hasn't been destroyed and they will not take lightly some chump like Trump interfering with their plans.

lavoisier , says: Website July 23, 2017 at 9:40 am GMT
@Russ I think that is a good observation. I also believe his traitorous sidekick Graham will also be a little less vocal about his support for world destruction now that his comrade in stupidity has fallen. These two obviously are bought and paid for by the Zionists. There is no other explanation for their predictable level of malice and stupidity.
jacques sheete , says: July 23, 2017 at 11:17 am GMT
@Russ

A sidelined John McCain should be a greatly reduced impediment to an exit from Syria.

Let's hope so. Unfortunately there is no shortage of crackpots to replace that reeking glob of slime.

Lemurmaniac , says: July 23, 2017 at 11:18 am GMT
All good points but its disgusting how left anti imperialists care more about a foreign people than the colonization and dispossession of the their own group by hordes of 'the other' from the global south under the aegis of neoliberal ideology.
Che Guava , says: July 23, 2017 at 1:15 pm GMT
Well, we non-USA can only be hoping. That order was one of the better, anybody who is reading English is to knowing that the building attack had nothing to do with a consulate, but the consul happened to be there at the time. Sure, probably CIA. The weapons-running operation certainly was.

Hillary was terrible to making 'The Kindness of Muslims' maker the scapegoat, sending him to prison in defiance of his rights, I only saw the short, but it was both apt and funny, if there is a feature-length version, I would love to seeing it. It did exist, it seems, was shown once or twice.

Aah, memory holes.

Michael Kenny , says: July 23, 2017 at 1:28 pm GMT
As so often, the weakness of the argument is obvious in the first sentence: "Many Americans voted for Donald Trump because he vowed to end the foreign conflicts in which the US had become entangled". I can't say I recall any such vow. Trump is a master of doubletalk. He says everything and the contrary of everything.

Mr Margolis, and others, heard what they wanted to hear and believed what they wanted to believe. Quite simply, they fell into the trap Trump set for them. Even if Trump wasn't the most pro-Israel president in US history, the Israel Lobby is there to see that US foreign policy suits Israel's interests. Israel sees Iran as its principal enemy. Putin has snuggled up to Iran and is propping up Iran's "ally", Assad. Israel thus needs to get both Assad and Putin out of Syria. By failing to stand up to Putin in Ukraine, Obama allowed him to discredit the US as Europe's, and by extension, Israel's protector and to discredit NATO as the instrument of that protection. For obvious reasons of geography, there's no way the US can defend Israel without the use of bases in Europe.

Thus, Trump has to restore US and NATO credibility and the only way to do that is to get Putin out of Ukraine and, ideally, out of power. The simplest way to do that is to fight him in Syria, where he's bogged down and cornered and cannot escape unless the US capitulates. Thus, arming or not arming this or that Syrian group is totally irrelevant. It just shows that the US can turn the heat up and down on Putin at will. I can't imagine, therefore, why US neocons would be "furious".

The longer Putin is bogged down in Syria, the better. The last thing Trump needs is to have anything he does, whether in Syria or Ukraine, billed as a "retreat" in regard to Putin. That will simply inflame Russiagate.

DESERT FOX , says: July 23, 2017 at 2:37 pm GMT
Trumps word means nothing, and he never said a thing about the pentagram ending their support of Isis aka al ciada, so this is much ado about nothing, the Zionists want war and war they shall have until Zionist Israel destroys America.

Zionist Israel and the U.S. and Britain created isis aka al ciada and anyone who thinks they have given up on regime change and the greater Israel plan in the Mideast is sadly mistaken. America is under Zionist control.

DaveE , says: July 23, 2017 at 3:14 pm GMT
Could it be that Trump is waking up? In spite of all his bluster during the campaign, it's become obvious that Mr. Trump doesn't have the foggiest idea how government and politics actually works. It's just a LITTLE different than running a real-estate operation.

My opinion is that that Trump, being the very insecure egotist that he is, is beginning, just barely, to realize what people actually expect, not what the neocon con-artists and rigged "opinion polls" tell him the story is.

Is Trump, maybe, just kinda sorta maybe, waking up to slimeballs like his dirty little son-in-law he so fervently followed in the past?

Anyway, Trump has been scoring big lately with his chat with Putin and this kick to the neocons' sensitive area.

Let's all write the guy and tell him he's on the right track. I'm sure the "opinion polls" will tell him just the opposite, since they're nothing more than some Jew in an office in Brooklyn telling us what we believe.

Che Guava , says: July 23, 2017 at 3:27 pm GMT
@Michael Kenny

You are so clearly a harmful propagandist on so many levels that I need not to pointing it out.

I am knowing that you are to making one or two of good points at times, but only to draw to all of your lies and stupid assumptions. Essentially, to making EU= NATO=zionism is the great thing to you, hate Russia is your cause.

Your 'Michael Kenny' is as much a pseudonym as mine. It is obvious. At least, when I am posting, it is from the heart of the person behind the pseudonym and of goodwill or to informing. Reading yours, it is very difficult to see any good intentions.

Many others here are to having critical faculties. They also will be seeing you for what you are, just a nasty and cheap propagandist, with posts that are always being too long.

Are you on some kind of 'net agent of influence programme? Sure is looking like it.

Joe Hide , says: July 23, 2017 at 3:44 pm GMT
The evidence seems to support the view that an informational war, with some actual murders, is taking place within and between, the CIA, FBI, NSA, other U.S. agencies and institutions. Also this happened in Russia but as Putin survived and consolidated power, it's much less so now. It is probably happening in many countries. I have come to the conclusion that these "hidden wars" within seemingly unified groups is part and parcel of human nature. The bad guy deceivers normally have a huge advantage in that they become much more skilled at deceiving. Their great disadvantage is that they eventually go so obviously nuts that nobody believes them anymore!
Randal , says: July 23, 2017 at 4:30 pm GMT

Their great disadvantage is that they eventually go so obviously nuts that nobody believes them anymore!

And yet John McCain and Lindsey Graham keep on getting re-elected, usually by huge margins.

Bruce Marshall , says: July 23, 2017 at 4:37 pm GMT
Where is the "Special Prosecutor" on this? Assange: 'CIA Not Only Armed Syria's Insurgents -- It Paid Their Salaries' http://www.informationliberation.com/?id=57076
Father Coughlin , says: July 23, 2017 at 4:59 pm GMT
Since the Resistance has relentlessly played the bogus Russia narrative to a point where it is hampering him from getting anything done (thus jeopardizing his reelection, if not some crazy impeachment attempt), Trump's only choice, according to Jiu-Jitsu, is to flip the script and make the Left the pro-War party. Go!
Sean , says: July 23, 2017 at 5:45 pm GMT

http://www.martin-van-creveld.com/disaster-area/
Some years ago I had the pleasure of coming across a book by the aged doyen of "oriental studies," Bernard Lewis. Titled What Went Wrong and first published in 2002, it tried to explain how and why the brilliant civilization of the Middle Ages had declined until, finally, it reached the point where the epithet "Arab" is positive only when applied to a horse.

Though I read it twice, I still do not know.

nsa , says: July 23, 2017 at 7:33 pm GMT
Must be tough typing out a couple thousand word screed re the destruction of the ME without mentioning the vile jooies and their total domination of American foreign policy in the area. The US Knesset on the Potomac is now actually trying to pass a law outlawing any criticism of the bloodthirsty Izzies ..with very stiff fines for offenders. Need any more evidence?
Alden , says: July 23, 2017 at 7:35 pm GMT
@Sean The brilliant Muslim civilization is a myth It never existed.

The Arabs conquered the Middle East and blundered into the legacy of Egypt, Persia Mesopotamia, Greece Rome, and the Byzantine empire. Claiming the Muslim primitive Arabs created the legacy of those civilizations is like saying Walter Raleigh developed tobacco or the Spanish conquerors developed potatoes and corn. Iranians still resent the conquest of their ancient civilization by the barbarian primitive Arabs

It took about 500 years but the Muslim Arabs destroyed those civilization. Morrish Spain? Every one of those great buildings, from architects and engineers to porters were built by European slaves.

It was the numerous Christians and less numerous Jews who kept things going. The Turks wouldn't even hire Muslim Arabs for any kind of government positions in the Arab countries. They used local Christians, Jews and imported slave Europeans.

I've read Bernard Lewis. He's outdated. For a long time in the 19th and early 20th century Jews wrote many of those books extolling the superiority of Muslim Jewish countries over us blue eyed barbarians. Lewis is one of those writers

Greg Bacon , says: Website July 23, 2017 at 7:38 pm GMT
@Michael Kenny For obvious reasons of geography, there's no way the US can defend Israel without the use of bases in Europe.

Why should the USA defend Israel from its horrible choices, especially being an Apartheid nightmare? Why should we defend a nation that has attacked our ships, bases and personnel numerous times? Why should we defend a nation that has control of our economy thru their choke-hold on the FED and Treasury? Why should we defend a nation that acts like a spoiled child anytime it doesn't get it's way and goes on murderous rampages against the world's biggest concentration camp, Gaza? Why should we defend a nation that attacked us on 9/11, then had their MSM whores blame the Muslim world?

http://www.911history.de/aaannxyz_ch01_en.html

Art , says: July 23, 2017 at 8:34 pm GMT
The illness of McCain will give the prospects for cooperation between the US and Russian a big boost. Here is an interesting article on the subject.

Dismantling McCain's Disastrous Legacy Should Now Be Trump's Top Priority

By Tom Luongo

The Arizona senator's absence creates a unique opportunity for President Trump to alter the course of our foreign and domestic policy. From Iraq to Libya, Syria to Afghanistan and right up to Russia's borders in Ukraine, McCain's bloody paw prints are all over more than a decade of American foreign policy blunders.

http://freedom4um.com/cgi-bin/readart.cgi?ArtNum=20873

exiled off mainstreet , says: July 23, 2017 at 9:05 pm GMT
@Greg Bacon The attempted sinking of the USS Liberty in 1967 and the actions of the US government since reveal 50 years of the Israeli tail wagging the yankee dog. It is unprecedented in history for an auxilliary satellite state to so dominate the foreign policy actions of what should be the dominant power. Whether or not 9-11 was a conspiracy is interesting but not dispositive, since whatever its cause, whether or not intentionally planned or simply allowed to happen, as I suspect, the event was used as a Reichstag fire event by the yankee regime and its Israeli patrons to brush aside any remaining opposition to the neocon project. By the way, I am totally convinced that the anthrax attacks occurring in the wake of 9-11 were to secure this result.
annamaria , says: July 23, 2017 at 9:36 pm GMT
@NoseytheDuke " ten U.S. bases in the Syrian provinces of Al-Hasakah, Manbij and Raqqa, as well as in the areas of Harab-Isk and Rmeilan The source also reported on the number of the U.S. servicemen deployed at these bases."
Splendid. Illegally, on a territory of the sovereign state of Syria, without any permission from the Syrian government. http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-u-s-military-bases-in-syria-their-precise-location-is-known/5600527
But for the demonizers of Iran and apologists of Kievan junta, the US involvement in Syria is a clear case of bringing the "democracy on the march."
annamaria , says: July 23, 2017 at 9:38 pm GMT
@WorkingClass "But do the CIA and/or Pentagon really care what Trump decides?"
-- You mean, the CIA and/or Pentagon will jump as high as the Lobby tell them to jump?
annamaria , says: July 23, 2017 at 9:42 pm GMT
@Miro23 "The US as an Israeli colony is a disaster for the people of Iraq, Libya, and Syria "
Agree. A minor addition: The US as an Israeli colony is a disaster for the people of the US as well.
utu , says: July 23, 2017 at 9:45 pm GMT
@Alden "in the 19th and early 20th century Jews wrote many of those books extolling the superiority of Muslim Jewish countries over us blue eyed barbarians"

Correct. But in the 2nd half of 20 c. the winds of history shifted with the creation of state of Israel and Jewish historians decided to write the history anew in which Muslims were not so good anymore. Father of Netanyahu was one of them.

Which Jewish historians do you want to believe?

annamaria , says: July 23, 2017 at 9:47 pm GMT
@Greg Bacon "Israel had been directing its colony, the formerly free USA, to bust up Syria and murder Assad and that we have been faithfully trying to do, but that damned Putin got in the way "
This is why the Russain Federation has been suffering the relentless barrage of demonization and economic sanctions, and this why Americans have been suffering the stupidity of the ziocon-promoted Russiangate.
annamaria , says: July 23, 2017 at 10:10 pm GMT
@DESERT FOX " the Zionists want war and war they shall have until Zionist Israel destroys America."

True. The Jewish communities of the EU/US, UK must decide -- now -- whether they are with western civilization or with the mythological and barbarous dream of Eretz Israel. The US, UK, and EU have been a safe harbor for the majority of Jewish people for the last 50 years. However, the Jewish Lobby is not satisfied with such trifles as the peaceful life and security and it wants Eretz Israel; PNAC (ziocons' manifest) has been used as an ideological guise.
There were certain sane Germans who tried to stop Hitler and thus to save Germany. Some of them paid for the attempts with their lives. Where are the Jewish communities of the US, UK, and EU to stop the lunatics, all these Friends of Israel and AIPAC, these pushers towards a worldwide catastrophe? See the ziocon plan in Ukraine, which made the lives of many Jews there intolerable (welcome, neo-Nazi). What is next -- the rise of antisemitism in the tolerant (for now) Europe and US?
If MSM were the honest sources of information, the westerners would have seen already the thousands and thousands of little corpses, the victims of "humanitarian interventions" of NATO/US in Libya and Syria and would already demand to hang the main war profiteers /war criminals to prevent more carnage and more war-profiteering schems.
The ongoing wars in the Middle EAst are an integral part of Eretz Israel project. Give Israel its due.

annamaria , says: July 23, 2017 at 10:15 pm GMT
@Che Guava Agree
annamaria , says: July 23, 2017 at 10:40 pm GMT
@Bruce Marshall This is great: "CIA not only armed Syria's insurgents -- it paid their salaries."
And who are these "insurgents" -- the "moderate" jihadis affiliated with ISIS and Al Qaeda?
The supposedly "manly" CIA director Mike Pompeo comes out as a banal opportunist inclined to hysterics.
Pompeo, "No one has the right to engage in the theft of secrets from America!"
Assange, "What sort of America can be "taken down" by the truth?"

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-04-14/wikileaks-issues-response-cia-director-mike-pompeo

"Pompeo and David B. Rivkin Jr., a senior fellow at the neoconservative think-tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies, argued in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal that "Legal and bureaucratic impediments to surveillance should be removed." Pompeo has also suggested that National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden should be executed."

https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/michael-f-brown/trumps-pro-torture-pro-israel-cia-chief

annamaria , says: July 23, 2017 at 10:50 pm GMT
@Michael Kenny "For obvious reasons of geography, there's no way the US can defend Israel without the use of bases in Europe."
For obvious reasons, the sooner the US disengages from Israel, the better for the whole world.
Pachyderm Pachyderma , says: July 23, 2017 at 11:44 pm GMT
@Greg Bacon Why should you? Because Jesus was a Jew just kidding! But didn't you utter something about a chockhold on the Fed and the Treasury? Well, it may just be me but if I controlled my bitch's purse then she would be dancing to my tune too!
annamaria , says: July 24, 2017 at 1:13 am GMT
Paul Craig Roberts and Stephen Lendman have a word for Pompeo:

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/07/23/trumps-appointees-worse-obamas/

ZeroHedge: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-23/five-weird-conspiracy-theories-cia-director-mike-pompeo "Mike Pompeo sounds increasingly unhinged when talking about Russia, Wikileaks and the media"

anon Disclaimer , says: July 24, 2017 at 1:56 am GMT
Can he ????

Here is one of the many views of this unstable man -- How the Trump regime was manufactured by a war inside the Deep Stat . A systemic crisis in the global Deep System has driven the violent radicalization of a Deep State faction By Nafeez Ahmed

https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/how-the-trump-regime-was-manufactured-by-a-war-inside-the-deep-state-f9e757071c70

anon Disclaimer , says: July 24, 2017 at 2:02 am GMT
@annamaria http://www.politico.com/story/2017/07/21/tony-thomas-syria-secret-program-cia-240818

Top general confirms end to secret U.S. program in Syria

Special Operations commander walked back remarks that appeared to surprise the CIA. ASPEN -- U.S. Special Operations Commander Tony Thomas confirmed Friday that the U.S. had ended its covert program aiding rebel groups fighting against Syrian President Bashar Assad, saying the decision was made after assessing the years-long operation's capabilities and by no means an effort to curry favor with Assad's chief backer, Moscow . The comments appeared to take the CIA -- which declined to comment -- by surprise.

Thomas almost immediately tried to walk back his comments after leaving the stage, telling reporters he hadn't confirmed anything and was referring only to "public reporting."

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/07/21/tony-thomas-syria-secret-program-cia-240818

anonymous Disclaimer , says: July 24, 2017 at 2:11 am GMT
@jilles dykstra It won't come to that right away. But it will come to that if Trump does not ultimately keep the pressure on the Assad regime, and if he ignores all the drumbeats (and survives the "impeachment").
edNels , says: July 24, 2017 at 2:14 am GMT
@Pachyderm Pachyderma how do you know that Jesus was any such thing? A Jew? Never!
annamaria , says: July 24, 2017 at 2:51 am GMT
@anon Thank you for the interesting post.

Here is a transcript of an interview with S. Lavrov (Russian foreign minister), which should provide a lot of educational moments for the US Congress people and WH press corps (known as the presstitute corps): http://www.mid.ru/en/press_service/video/-/asset_publisher/i6t41cq3VWP6/content/id/2821758

Try to compare Lavrov with a typical US legislator, for example, with Maxine Waters, John McCain, and Chuck Schumer, who represent three main subgroups in the US Congress. The decades of "unnatural selection" in the US government have produced a collection of intellectual and moral pygmies, unfortunately.

Lavrov has some pretty direct and well-deserved words for Obama. Thus, Lavrov compares Obama to a small kid unable to comprehend the responsibilities of his position of a President of the US.

anon Disclaimer , says: July 24, 2017 at 5:23 am GMT
WHATEVER happens, Syria will remain a backward, retarded, Muslim shithole with no freedom, democracy, respect for women, free speech or press and an all around dysfuntional Arab country.
dorkimundo , says: July 24, 2017 at 11:52 am GMT
It it time for the Syrian "Madman' to order another sarin gas attack against the innocent children?
annamaria , says: July 24, 2017 at 1:25 pm GMT
@dorkimundo It is so easy to spot a ziocon thirsty for the US resources, who is eager to see the US to waste the US limb&blood for the barbarious dream of Eretz Israel
annamaria , says: July 24, 2017 at 1:26 pm GMT
@dorkimundo There are hundreds of thousands of innocent children that perished because of the ziocon project in the Middle East
annamaria , says: July 24, 2017 at 1:37 pm GMT
@anon " dysfunctional Arab country."
It is fun to observe how Israelis of Soviet extraction feel superior to other Israelis and to everybody else. Check the level of "democracy, respect for women, free speech or press" in Afghanistan in the 80-s and compare the facts with the disaster brought upon Afghani women by US warriors.
Your bloodthirsty ideologues of Eretz Israel dream nothing more than creating the dysfunctional Arab countries next to Israel (see Oded Yinon plan); hence the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians of all ages in the Middle East. After this holocaust of Arabs, which was designed and promoted by Israelis and Israel-firsters in the US, your apartheid state of Israel will never recover morally. You are doomed.
Gg Mo , says: July 24, 2017 at 1:55 pm GMT
@RobinG He is the LAST Real Journalist at the UN pressers . Him today explain his oust of his office space at the UN and replacement by a FAKE "Egyptian" Newspaper.
Che Guava , says: July 24, 2017 at 4:19 pm GMT
@annamaria Annamaria,

Thanks for it. Interrupted by a friend and tired, am forgetting what else I was wanting to say, but your post 42 in this thread is very good.

IMHO, as USA people say, that man is a three-dollar bill. I don't even know if it was common speech or made up by Phillip Kindred Dick, but 'phoney as a three-dollar bill', it is a great expression!

Sean , says: July 24, 2017 at 6:10 pm GMT
@Alden My point is the Arabs have never been easy to govern and they revolt a lot. Martin van Creveld says

The aftermath of the war [WW1] saw the establishment of the colonies -- which later developed into independent states -- of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, the Gulf, and Trans-Jordan (as it then was). Saudi Arabia, which was never occupied by either Britain or France, became independent by default. [...]

Since then the peace to end all peace, as it has been called, has remained the source of endless trouble. First the British had to cope with Arab uprisings in Palestine and, on a much larger scale, in Iraq. No sooner were those revolts suppressed than trouble broke out on the border between Trans Jordan and Saudi Arabia, an entirely artificial line on the map that the local tribes refused to respect. In 1927-29 it was the turn of the French to cope with what is still remembered as the Great Syrian Revolt. [...]

How to account for all this trouble? Perhaps the most important answer is the extraordinary complexity of the region. A complexity which the new states, lacking firm roots in the population as they did, never succeeded in controlling. There are, of course, Egyptians and Syrians and Iraqis and Saudis and so forth. But there are also Israelis and Palestinians. And Arabs and Kurds. And Egyptian Muslims and Egyptian Copts. There are Sunnis and there are Shi'ites and there are Allawi's, whom some do not recognize as Muslims at all ).

The Kurds' interminable revolts have had help from the US. but really you cannot say the US created the uprising of the Kurds against every state they reside in The last time the US helped Kurds and then abandoned them. Just like the Syrian rebels. Kurds never expected anything different as they have been dumped by the US before. Leaving their erstwhile allies to their fate is something America has a reputation for. So I would not get excited about the US doing it in Syria.

annamaria , says: July 24, 2017 at 8:02 pm GMT
@Sean " the Arabs have never been easy to govern and they revolt a lot."

When "Arabs" is replaced with "Jews", the statement could be from a book on the history of the Jewish Greek wars, "the Jews have never been easy to govern and they revolt a lot:" http://www.onjewishmatters.com/the-jewish-greek-wars/

As for Martin van Creveld, this supremacist barbarian has obtained his fame by promoting the Samson Option. " Van Creveld was quoted in David Hirst's The Gun and the Olive Branch (2003) as saying: " We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets for our air force. " https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samson_Option
Very clear. Also explains the miserable role that the US is currently playing on the orders from the Lobby.

KA , says: July 25, 2017 at 2:33 am GMT
Trump is thinking of doing what Cheney did on the CIA. He is sidelining Tillerson and urging some handpicked guys to give him what he needs not to certify Iran when it is up for agin in 90 days .

"A third source with intimate knowledge of that meeting said Steve Bannon, the White House chief strategist, and Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to the president, were particularly vocal, repeatedly asking Tillerson to explain the U.S. national security benefits of certification. "They repeatedly questioned Rex about why recertifying would be good for U.S. national security, and Rex was unable to answer," the source said. http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/07/21/trump-assigns-white-house-team-to-target-iran-nuclear-deal-sidelining-state-department/

It is not US interests . It is the fact that should guide Bannon , Gorka and Trump. Iran is still in the crosshairs

zzzzzzz , says: July 25, 2017 at 1:38 pm GMT
@Randal Trump knows how to brawl, but the Deep State knows how to box
Sean , says: July 25, 2017 at 2:29 pm GMT
@annamaria Israel has no external threat, Syria was always a military minnow. Israel has an internal threat inasmuch the West Bank Arabs cannot be kept as they are.

The US backs a two state solution and thus in the REALLY IMPORTANT THING America is NOT A TOOL OF ISRAEL.

RobinG , says: July 25, 2017 at 4:35 pm GMT
@annamaria " free access to classified information by a group of the proven blackmailers ." Sounds like you're talking about Debbie and the DNC.
annamaria , says: July 25, 2017 at 4:35 pm GMT
"Israel has no external threat" Israel simply wants a destruction of the functioning neighboring states to proceed with the creation of Eretz Israel. http://www.ahavat-israel.com/eretz/future Not all Jewish people share this view of Eretz Israel but a certain aggressive and loud part of them does. The Likudniks are currently in power.

Oded Yinon in his famous article "proceeds to analyze the weaknesses of Arab countries concluding that Israel should aim to bring about the fragmentation of the Arab world into a mosaic of ethnic and confessional groupings. "Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation," he argued, would prove to be advantageous to Israel in the short term. Ilan Peleg described it as "an authentic mirror of the thinking mode of the Israeli Right at the height of Begin's rule." Chomsky warned against complacency about these fringe ideas since, he argued: "(t)he entire history of Zionism and later that of Israel, particularly since 1967, is one of a gradual shift towards the positions of those formerly regarded as right-wing extremists." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yinon_Plan

One could sympathize with the non-solvable situation for Israel, if not the horrors of the ongoing Middle Eastern wars that have been promoted by neo-& ziocons.

https://www.washingtonreport.me/2015-june-july/neocons-and-the-israel-lobby-are-promoting-war-with-iran-as-they-once-did-with-iraq.html https://thinkprogress.org/the-architects-of-war-where-are-they-now-52ff022f9bfe
Che Guava , says: July 25, 2017 at 4:38 pm GMT
@dorkimundo Alright. thanks for the reply, I would guessing not 'Hungarian' like Soros.

Good humored reply, that is always to being appreciated! I was so irritated by Refuvsky's bs, in a bad temper for that at the time.

Ben Frank , says: July 25, 2017 at 7:33 pm GMT
Is there any evidence that Assad is not the legitimate ruler of Syria? Or that Syria is better off now than before the civil war started? Those poor people deserve peace.
Dan Hayes , says: July 26, 2017 at 1:42 am GMT
@annamaria annamaria,

van Creveld also stated: "We have the capability of taking the world down with us. And I assure you that will happen before Israel goes down." Food for thought!

Priss Factor , says: Website July 26, 2017 at 2:07 am GMT
Tucker and Tulsi on Syria vs CIAria https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IGAXJNzPfU
annamaria , says: July 26, 2017 at 8:02 pm GMT
@Priss Factor It was Israel's active participation in the attempt at regime change in Syria, which has finished the undressing of the "most moral" state of Israel. Currently, the "chosen" are outraged that the CIA could scale down the US support for terrorists. https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/07/26/fear-and-trepidation-in-tel-aviv-is-israel-losing-the-syria-war/

"Despite assurances to the contrary, Israel has always been involved in the Syria conflict. Israel's repeated claims that "it maintains a policy of non-intervention in Syria's civil war," only fools US mainstream media. Not only was Israel involved in the war, it also played no role in the aid efforts, nor did it ever extend a helping hand to Syrian refugees. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have perished in the merciless war; many cities and villages were totally destroyed and millions of Syrians become refugees. While tiny and poor Lebanon has hosted over a million Syrian refugees, every country in the region and many nations around the world have hosted Syrian refugees, as well. Except Israel.

Even a symbolic government proposal to host 100 Syrian orphans was eventually dropped ." ( -- Wait when the Lobby starts squeaking that mentioning this shameful fact is antisemitic.)

Israel has major responsibility for the Syrian tragedy. Astonishingly, Israelis are planning to triple down on the support for ISIS & Co in Syria.
"Since the start of the conflict, Israel wanted to appear as if in control of the situation, at least regarding the conflict in southwestern Syria. It bombed targets in Syria as it saw fit , and casually spoke of maintaining regular contacts with certain opposition groups. In recent comments before European officials, Netanyahu admitted to striking Iranian convoys in Syria [whcih is a sovereign state] "dozens of times." But without a joint Israeli-US plan, Israel is now emerging as a weak party. Making that realization quite belatedly, Israel is becoming increasingly frustrated. Failing to obtain support from newly-elected President Donald Trump, Israel is now attempting to develop its own independent strategy.

On June 18, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel has been giving "secret aid" to Syrian rebels, in the form of "cash and humanitarian aid ." -- See the US taxpayers' money in actions ($3 billion this year only). The "war on terror" came down to the "cash and humanitarian aid" to terrorists, delivered by Israel directly from the US taxpayers pockets to Israel's favorite head-choppers.

[Dec 21, 2018] Looks like an o ld, sick neocon Hillarty still tries to influence events, continuing her warmongring

The trouble with CIA democrats is not that they are stupid, but that that are evil.
Hillary proved to be really destructive witch during her Obama stunt as the Secretary of State. Destroyed Libya and Ukraine, which is no small feat.
Notable quotes:
"... The policy of the Obama administration, and particularly Hillary Clinton's State Department, was – and still is – regime change in Syria. This overrode all other considerations. We armed, trained, and "vetted" the Syrian rebels, even as we looked the other way while the Saudis and the Gulf sheikdoms funded groups like al-Nusra and al-Qaeda affiliates who wouldn't pass muster. And our "moderates" quickly passed into the ranks of the outfront terrorists, complete with the weapons we'd provided. ..."
"... She is truly an idiot. Thanks again, Ivy League. ..."
Dec 21, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Pavel , December 21, 2018 at 10:47 am

The Grauniad just quoted a tweet from a predictably OUTRAGED @HillaryClinton:

Actions have consequences, and whether we're in Syria or not, the people who want to harm us are there & at war. Isolationism is weakness. Empowering ISIS is dangerous. Playing into Russia & Iran's hands is foolish. This President is putting our national security at grave risk.

This from the woman who almost singlehandedly (i.e. along with David Cameron and Sarkovy) destroyed Libya and allowed -- if not encouraged -- the flow of US weapons to go into the hands of ISIS allies in the US-Saudi-Israeli obsession with toppling Assad regardless of the consequences. As Justin Raimondo wrote in Antiwar.com in 2015:

The policy of the Obama administration, and particularly Hillary Clinton's State Department, was – and still is – regime change in Syria. This overrode all other considerations. We armed, trained, and "vetted" the Syrian rebels, even as we looked the other way while the Saudis and the Gulf sheikdoms funded groups like al-Nusra and al-Qaeda affiliates who wouldn't pass muster. And our "moderates" quickly passed into the ranks of the outfront terrorists, complete with the weapons we'd provided.

This crazy policy was an extension of our regime change operation in Libya, a.k.a. "Hillary's War," where the US – "leading from behind" – and a coalition of our Western allies and the Gulf protectorates overthrew Muammar Qaddafi. There, too, we empowered radical Islamists with links to al-Qaeda affiliates – and then used them to ship weapons to their Syrian brothers, as another document uncovered by Judicial Watch shows.

After HRC's multiple foreign policy fiascos she is the last person who should be commenting on this matter.

a different chris, December 21, 2018 at 11:50 am

> the people who want to harm us are there & at war

Sounds like then they are too busy to harm us? She is truly an idiot. Thanks again, Ivy League.

[Dec 10, 2018] The American Melting Pot Can Turn Into A Volatile Mixture At The Top by Wayne Madsen

Melania slap of Bolton face might be a good sobering measure. But neocons can't probably recover from their addition
Notable quotes:
"... Ricardel is a longtime friend and associate of national security adviser John Bolton, who brought her into the National Security Council from the Department of Commerce, where she served as Undersecretary for Export Administration. Ricardel reportedly angered Ms. Trump over seating arrangements on a flight by Ms. Trump to Africa two weeks ago. Ricardel, who was to accompany the First Lady, did not make the trip. Ms. Trump, in an interview conducted with ABC News during the trip, said there were people in the White House she did not trust. Apparently, Ricardel was one of them. ..."
"... Perhaps no one in recent memory brought such a degree of ethnic baggage to her job like Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Albright's Czech roots and the Yugoslav warrant issued for the arrest of her professor-diplomat father, Joseph Korbel, for the post-World War II theft of art from Prague, brought forth extreme anti-Serbian policies by the woman who would represent the United States at the United Nations and then serve as America's chief diplomat. Albright's hatred for Serbia was not much different than Zbigniew Brzezinski's Polish heritage evoking an almost-pathological hatred of Russia, while he served as Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser. ..."
"... In 1981, Ronald Reagan appointed Valdas Adamkus as the regional administrator for the US Environmental Protection Agency, responsible for the Mid-West states. Retiring from the US government after 29 years of service, Adamkus was elected to two terms as President of Lithuania. ..."
"... One might ask whether Ilves and Adamkus were kept on the US government payroll merely to support them until they could return to their countries in top leadership positions to help lead the Baltic nations into NATO membership. ..."
"... From 1993 to 1997, Army General John Shalikashvili served as Chairman of the Joint Chefs of Staff. Shalikashvili was born in Warsaw, Poland to a Georgian and Polish mother. During World War II, his father served in the Georgian Legion, a special unit incorporated into the Nazi German "SS-Waffengruppe Georgien." General Shalikashvili served as commander of all US military forces during a time of NATO expansion into Eastern Europe. It was no surprise that he was an avid cheerleader for NATO's expansion to the East. ..."
Nov 25, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Wayne Madsen via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

America has always fancied itself as a "melting pot" of ethnicities and religions that form a perfect union. The Latin phrase, E Pluribus Unum, "out of many, one," is even found on the Great Seal of the United States.

However, as seen in a recent blow-up between First Lady Melania Trump and now-former Deputy National Security Adviser Mira Ricardel, old feuds from beyond the borders of the United States can result in major rifts at the highest echelons of the US government.

On November 13, Ms. Trump's communications director, Stephanie Grisham, fired off a tweet that read: "it is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she [Ricardel] no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House." The White House announced Ricardel's departure the next day, November 14.

Ricardel is a longtime friend and associate of national security adviser John Bolton, who brought her into the National Security Council from the Department of Commerce, where she served as Undersecretary for Export Administration. Ricardel reportedly angered Ms. Trump over seating arrangements on a flight by Ms. Trump to Africa two weeks ago. Ricardel, who was to accompany the First Lady, did not make the trip. Ms. Trump, in an interview conducted with ABC News during the trip, said there were people in the White House she did not trust. Apparently, Ricardel was one of them.

The bitter feud between Melania Trump and Mira Ricardel likely has its roots in their backgrounds in the former Yugoslavia. Ricardel was born Mira P. Radielović, the daughter of Peter Radielovich, a native of Breza, Bosnia-Herzegovina in the former Yugoslavia. Ricardel speaks fluent Croatian and was a member of the Croatian Catholic Church. Melania Trump was born Melanija Knavs [pronounced Knaus] in Novo Mesto in Slovenia, also in the former Yugoslavia. Villagers in the village of Sevnica, where Ms. Trump was raised, claim she and her Communist Party parents were officially atheists. Ms. Trump later converted to Roman Catholicism. She and her son by Mr. Trump, Barron Trump, speak fluent Slovenian. The Yugoslav Civil War, which began in earnest in 1991, pitted the nation's ethnic groups against one another. There are ample reasons, political, ethnic, and religious, for bad blood between the Slovenian-born First Lady and a first-generation Croatian-American. The "battle royale" between Ms. Trump and Ricardel is but one example of a constant problem in the United States when individuals with foreign ties bring age-old inter-ethnic and inter-religious squabbles to governance.

Perhaps no one in recent memory brought such a degree of ethnic baggage to her job like Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Albright's Czech roots and the Yugoslav warrant issued for the arrest of her professor-diplomat father, Joseph Korbel, for the post-World War II theft of art from Prague, brought forth extreme anti-Serbian policies by the woman who would represent the United States at the United Nations and then serve as America's chief diplomat. Albright's hatred for Serbia was not much different than Zbigniew Brzezinski's Polish heritage evoking an almost-pathological hatred of Russia, while he served as Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser.

Albright's bias against Serbia saw her influence US policy in casting a blind eye toward the terrorism carried out by the Kosovo Liberation Army and its terrorist leader Hashim Thaci. That policy resulted in Washington backing an independent Kosovo, a state beholden to organized criminal syndicates protected by one of the largest US military bases in Europe, Camp Bondsteel.

Ties by US foreign policy officials to their countries of origin continued to plagued administrations after Carter. For example, Kateryna Chumachenko served in the Reagan White House and State and Treasury Departments and later worked for KPMG as "Katherine" Chumachenko. She also worked in the White House Public Liaison Office, where she conducted outreach to various right-wing and anti-communist exile groups in the United States, including the Friends of Afghanistan, on whose board Afghan refugee and later George W. Bush pro-consul in Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, sat. Khalilzad, like Chumachenko, worked in the Reagan State Department. Chumachenko was married to Ukrainian "Orange Revolution" President Viktor Yushchenko, and, thusly, became the First Lady of Ukraine. Khalilzad became the Bush 43 ambassador to the UN, where he often was at loggerheads with Iran, Libya, Syria, and other Muslim states. As was the case with Albright and her anti-Serb underpinnings, it was difficult to ascertain whose agenda Khalilzad was serving.

After being fired from the White House, there were reports that Ricardel was offered the post of ambassador to Estonia. That Baltic country was no stranger to hauling foreign baggage into the US government. Former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, a bow-tie wearing former Estonian language broadcaster for the Central Intelligence Agency-funded Radio Free Europe ; long time resident of Leonia, New Jersey; could have just as easily ended up in a senior State Department position rather than President of Estonia. Such is the nature of divided loyalties among senior US government officials of both major political parties.

In 1981, Ronald Reagan appointed Valdas Adamkus as the regional administrator for the US Environmental Protection Agency, responsible for the Mid-West states. Retiring from the US government after 29 years of service, Adamkus was elected to two terms as President of Lithuania.

One might ask whether Ilves and Adamkus were kept on the US government payroll merely to support them until they could return to their countries in top leadership positions to help lead the Baltic nations into NATO membership.

From 1993 to 1997, Army General John Shalikashvili served as Chairman of the Joint Chefs of Staff. Shalikashvili was born in Warsaw, Poland to a Georgian and Polish mother. During World War II, his father served in the Georgian Legion, a special unit incorporated into the Nazi German "SS-Waffengruppe Georgien." General Shalikashvili served as commander of all US military forces during a time of NATO expansion into Eastern Europe. It was no surprise that he was an avid cheerleader for NATO's expansion to the East.

Natalie Jaresko served in positions with the State Department, the Departments of Commerce, Treasury, the US Trade Representative, and Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). In 2014, she became the Finance Minister for Ukraine. Earlier, she served as a financial adviser to Yushchenko. The United States is not the only "melting pot" in North America that suffers from officials burdened by ethnic dual loyalties. Halyna Chomiak, the Ukrainian-born émigré mother of Canada's Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, weighs heavily on Freeland's ability to advance Canada's interests over those of the nation of her mother's birth.

Trump's entire White House Middle East police team is composed of individuals who place Israel's interests ahead of the United States. Trump takes his Middle East advice from principally his son-in-law Jared Kushner, a contributor to and member of the board of the "Friends of the IDF," an American non-profit that raises funds for the Israeli armed forces. Kushner was named by Trump as a "special envoy" to the Middle East, while Jason Greenblatt, a former attorney with the Trump Organization, was named as special envoy in charge of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Although the two positions appear to overlap, Kushner and Greenblatt, both Orthodox Jews who have little time for Palestinians, are on the same page when it comes to advancing the West Bank land grabbing policies of the Binyamin Netanyahu government in Israel. Trump thoroughly Zionized his administration's Middle East policy with the appointment of another Israel supporter, David M. Friedman, as US ambassador to Israel. Friedman had been a bankruptcy lawyer with the Trump Organization's primary law firm, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman.

Trump has nominated as US ambassador to South Africa, handbag designer Lana Marks, who was born in South Africa. Marks, who is known only to Trump from her membership in his Mar-a-Lago, Florida "billionaires club," left South Africa in 1975, when the country was under the apartheid regime. Marks claims to speak Afrikaans, the language preferred by the apartheid regime, and Xhosa, the ethnic language of the late President Nelson Mandela. Because Marks embellished her professional tennis career by claiming, without proof, participation in the French Open and Wimbledon in the 1970s, her mastery of Xhosa can be taken with a grain of salt. So, too, can her ability to deal with the current African National Congress government led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who had just been released from prison when Marks left the country in 1975. The claims and politics of Marks and every official and would-be US official who failed to shed their biases from their native and ancestral homelands, can all be taken with a metric ton of salt.

Melting pots are fine, so long as they truly blend together. However, that is not the situation in the United States as high government officials have difficulty in consigning the bigotry inherent in family folklore and beliefs to the family scrapbooks.

[Nov 29, 2018] Neocons 'Taking Over The White House' WSJ's Kissel Joins Trump Administration

Looks like Trump lost control of appointments in his administration... and it is Pompeo who is intrumental in defining the US foreign policy, not Trump.
Notable quotes:
"... The decision by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to give former Wall Street Journal editorial writer Mary Kissel a senior position at the department, despite her previous clashes with US President Donald Trump, shows that neoconservatives are moving in on the administration ..."
"... As a writer, Kissel took Trump to task on Twitter on multiple occasions, criticizing him for his " frightening ignorance " on foreign policy. During a March 2016 appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Kissel even went as far as saying on air that then-candidate Trump had neither principles nor policies. To this, Trump shot back on Twitter, calling her a " major loser ." ..."
"... The only thing that I can think of is that nobody takes Trump seriously in the White House on what he says from day to day ..."
"... Kissel's recent appointment, to no one's surprise, isn't exactly sitting well with the folks on the more conservative side of the political spectrum. In a recent opinion piece for the Washington Examiner, writer Ryan Girdusky wrote that "Kissel is so wrong so frequently that not only should she not be advising Pompeo on policy, she shouldn't be employed by a single newspaper in the country to talk about politics." ..."
"... Kissel, however, isn't the first Trump opponent to be hired by Pompeo. There's also Jim Jeffrey, who, along with several other GOP insiders, signed a letter in August 2016 which noted that then-candidate Trump "lacks the character, values and experience" to be president. Despite his past objections, Jeffrey is now serving in the Trump administration as the special representative for Syria engagement. ..."
Nov 29, 2018 | www.defenddemocracy.press

The decision by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to give former Wall Street Journal editorial writer Mary Kissel a senior position at the department, despite her previous clashes with US President Donald Trump, shows that neoconservatives are moving in on the administration, investigative reporter Dave Lindorff told Sputnik.

As a writer, Kissel took Trump to task on Twitter on multiple occasions, criticizing him for his " frightening ignorance " on foreign policy. During a March 2016 appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Kissel even went as far as saying on air that then-candidate Trump had neither principles nor policies. To this, Trump shot back on Twitter, calling her a " major loser ."

An unidentified senior State Department official told Politico that Kissel's past remarks were more of a reflection of her "role as a member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board."

"As she has said previously when asked similar questions, her job there was to analyze and write about policy," the department official said. "As a member of the editorial board, Mary strongly endorsed this administration's policies on Iran, Afghanistan, tax cuts, energy policy, regulatory reform, judicial nominations and other issues. She is proud to serve this President and Secretary Pompeo."

"The only thing that I can think of is that nobody takes Trump seriously in the White House on what he says from day to day," Lindorff told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear on Wednesday in an attempt to explain Kissel's hiring.

"That could be one answer the other one could be that this kind of neocon person, which she is, are basically taking over the White House. I wouldn't have called Trump a neocon when he was running for office, but I think his policies are at this point pretty much in the neocon playbook on foreign policy."

Read also: The Bolton threat to the Iran nuclear deal

While it's unclear how Trump reacted to Pompeo's move, Lindorff, who also writes as a columnist for CounterPunch, suggested that he might have let bygones be bygones after certain apologies are exchanged.

Kissel's recent appointment, to no one's surprise, isn't exactly sitting well with the folks on the more conservative side of the political spectrum. In a recent opinion piece for the Washington Examiner, writer Ryan Girdusky wrote that "Kissel is so wrong so frequently that not only should she not be advising Pompeo on policy, she shouldn't be employed by a single newspaper in the country to talk about politics."

"It is frightening that Kissel has managed to fail forward," he added.

Kissel, however, isn't the first Trump opponent to be hired by Pompeo. There's also Jim Jeffrey, who, along with several other GOP insiders, signed a letter in August 2016 which noted that then-candidate Trump "lacks the character, values and experience" to be president. Despite his past objections, Jeffrey is now serving in the Trump administration as the special representative for Syria engagement.

Published at https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201811291070224029-neocons-white-house-kissel-hire/

[Nov 26, 2018] The degree of bombast coming out of the Israeli establishment is now deafening

Nov 26, 2018 | craigmurray.org.uk

Yeah, Right , October 24, 2018 at 02:46

"Yeah, Right, there's no sign of wavering though."

Agreed, there is no *sign* of wavering.

Indeed, the degree of bombast coming out of the Israeli establishment is now deafening.

"The Golan Heights aren't even an issue today, that's how bad it's gotten."

Oh, I think that once the Syrian government wipes out the last of the jihadists and then forces the US to withdraw from Syrian territory then you will find the Golan Heights will become very much a hot potato.

After all, it will then be the last piece of Syrian territory that is not under the control of the Syrians, and they'll be in no mood to be "intimidated" by the Israelis.

The Israelis will keep beating up on the Gaza Strip? Sure, they will.
And that will lull the Likud into thinking that the IDF is still a mighty fighting force, sure, it will.

But the strategic situation for Israeli is getting worse and worse, to the point where the Israelis dare not attack Lebanon for fear that the Syrians will take the opportunity to seize the Golan Heights, and the Israelis dare not launch an attack into Syria lest Hezbollah launch a counter-attack on the flank of that expeditionary force.

And either way there is this slight problem: the IDF is now a bunch of fluffy-girls-blouses, and as such is likely to get its arse kicked in a fight with a real army.

laguerre has it correct below: the IDF has been hollowed out, as has Israeli society as a whole. They are riding for a fall, and when they do they will come down to earth with a thud.

And nobody will be more surprised than them, which is when they will stampede for the door.

Yeah, Right , October 24, 2018 at 02:52

"That said, the airforce is very good, but it's the only arm that works now."

Rather highlights what an "own goal" the Israelis scored when their jets hid behind that Russia Ilyushin Il-20 plane.

They had been very successful in convincing the Russians not to hand over any S-300 missiles to the Syrians, and now the Syrians not only have them, but they have the most up-to-date version.

Way to go, guys .

SA , October 23, 2018 at 11:41

Hatuey
I somewhat share your pessimism but not want to give in yet. The problem is that the way this has been set and the ground rules have been laid is that the whole 'international community' is complicit in racism and ethnic cleansing and that is why there will be no progress. The parameters set are self contradictory, either you recognise that Palestinians have the right to Palestine or you don't. Recognising that they have the right, at least an equal right, negates the current wisdom that some people have more rights than others, and that this trumps all other rights. This obvious point has become a taboo.

Hatuey , October 23, 2018 at 14:54

SA, if you think this about "right" or "rights" or notions of justice or anything like that, you aren't even in the right solar system, never mind the right planet. That horse bolted decades ago.

Nobody with any seriousness disputes Israel's criminality in any of this. And nobody with any seriousness disputes that we are talking about the highest order of crimes either, ethnic cleansing, war of aggression, collective punishment, etc.

This is about brute force, nothing else. The UN has been condemning Israel continually for about 50 years and nothing has come of it because the US vetoes just about everything.

Andyoldlabour , October 23, 2018 at 15:19

@Hatuey,

"The UN has been condemning Israel continually for about 50 years and nothing has come of it because the US vetoes just about everything."

That is the rather large elephant in the room, and one which nobody seems to want to confront or even admit to.

SA , October 23, 2018 at 17:31

I realise what you say but nevertheless there is a conversation going on that is a total cover up of reality and trying to justify the unjustifiable. This conversation has set the limits of what can and can't be discussed.

Bill Rollinson , October 23, 2018 at 12:40

UK, US, EU, NZ, Canada, Australia, all controlled by Zionist puppets. This is why Israel get away with what they do and to an extent Saudi, who have 'the goods' on UK dealings.
It's about time the people of these nations took responsibility for the actions of their 'elected' MP's, especially those with 'dual nationality'.
In UK Corbyn is being attacked, not for his policies, which haven't been mentioned, but for what he stands for. His promise to recognise Palestine, if he becomes PM, has them really scared, as has his policy for nationalised banks, that lend Government [Sovereign] money to Entrepreneurs [SME's] who currently cant get loans from banks, as they provide competition to their Corporate friends. He also wants new bank rules, no doubt based on Glass Seagal.

He'll need to watch is back. Look what happened to Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, John F Kennedy when they went against the money men!

[Nov 25, 2018] Craig Murray - Historian, Former Ambassador, Human Rights Activist

Nov 25, 2018 | craigmurray.org.uk

24 Nov, 2018

[Nov 20, 2018] Netanyahu government is about to fall

Nov 20, 2018 | www.unz.com

Garreth Smith , says: November 16, 2018 at 5:13 pm GMT

@SolontoCroesus

Garreth Smith, Chuck Orloski --

Speaking of balls, steel or titanium --

Greetings Brother S2C,

The only power given to satan is the "Negative Power of Whisper". We are constantly bombarded with this shitty and crappy "Power of MSM Whisper" which is on a daily basis brainwashing the masses of the world. This is s very powerful, "Power".

But it is now time that we use the "Positive Power of Whisper" and time to rejoice:
01. Netanyahu government is about to fall.
02. He is personally implicated in bunch of corrupt cases.
03. Hamas has become a pain in his ass, which he cannot defeat no more.
04. Not only Syria has survived, but its' skies are now closed to Israel.
05. Both Syria and Hezbollah forces have become battle hardened.
06. Syria is back in Arab League fold, and now it borders are opened to Iraq, Jordan and Golan Heights.
07. The Syrian refugees are returning back to their homes.
08. Hamas fired 500 missiles in two day, the Iron Dome success rate was 20%.
09. Both Hezbollah and Hamas have precision guided missiles. Hamas videoed a military bus they destroyed after everyone left the bus, and only the driver left.
10. Only 100 Iron Dome missiles were successful and at $65,000 a pop, the the total damage was $30 millions and only 6 million Shekels were successful.
11. With Khashoggi saga, the MSB peace plan has been thrown in dustbin.
12. Iran with its' battle hardened military is at the doorsteps of Israel.
13. I can go on and on .

[Nov 19, 2018] Syria - Back In The Arab Fold

Nov 19, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Syria - Back In The Arab Fold BM , Nov 19, 2018 1:01:56 PM | link

Following Syria's military success against its enemies, Arab states which supported the war on Syria are again making nice with it. The United Arab Emirates will reopen its embassy in Damascus. Kuwait and Bahrain will follow. Today a delegation of parliamentarians from Jordan visited Damascus and met with President Assad .

The members of the delegation affirmed that the pulse of the Jordanian street has always been with the Syrian people in the face of the terrorist war against the, as Syria is the first line of defense for the entire Arab region and the victory in this war will be a victory for all the Arab countries in the face of Western projects aimed at destabilizing and fragmenting these countries in service of Israel's security.

First signs that this was going to happen appeared a few month ago when a Kuwaiti TV personality spoke about the pleasure of visiting an again peaceful Damascus. In June the Foreign Affairs Minister of UAE called the expulsion of Syria from the Arab league a "mistake". In an interview with a Kuwaiti paper Assad said that he had reached "major understanding" with Arab states.

The Saudis though are not yet welcome back in Damascus. They were one of the largest financiers of the Jihadis and will have to pay an equally large price to come back into good standing. Negotiations are ongoing . A formal reentry of Syria into the Arab League can not be far away.

Behind this change is a fear of renewed Turkish ambitions. Not only Saudi Arabia but all the Arab states do not want Turkey to expand and become more powerful. They do not want to see Arab land in Syria under Turkish control. The sole exception so far is Qatar which is allied with Turkey and has Turkish troops on its land to protect it from Saudi imperialism.

The three blocks that form the larger Middle East, Turkey, Iran and the Arab states north of the Red Sea are roughly of the same population size. Each block also represents a religious-political stream with Turkey leading the political-Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, Iran the political-Shia and with the third block consisting of Sunni majority countries with more or less dictatorial rulers. The three blocks compete in their borderlands of Iraq and Syria. The Arabs finally noticed that their attempts to dispose the Syrian government led to gains for Iran and Turkey and put them on the losing site.

For Syria the new Arab position is a very welcome change. While it will certainly not end its alliance with Iran, it will welcome any help against the Turkish ambitions. It also needs investments to rebuild and the rich Gulf states will surely provide some. That will also sabotage U.S. and European plans to starve Syria of money unless it submits to their will. That is good news ... what we need now is some good news for Yemen


Russ , Nov 19, 2018 1:10:15 PM | link

Just read this piece with a similar Turkey-vs.-the-Arabs theme.

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/11/19/iranian-albatross-us-has-hung-around-its-own-neck.html

Sally Snyder , Nov 19, 2018 1:14:59 PM | link
As shown in this article, at least two American politicians believe that Washington's version of the war in Syria is wrong:

http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2018/09/american-politicians-and-syria-what-if.html

Unfortunately, the mainstream Western media has swallowed Washington's narrative hook, line and sinker.

Peter AU 1 , Nov 19, 2018 1:27:15 PM | link
There were under currents of change earlier but it now seems to have sped up. The Khashoggi killing seems to have knocked Trump and MBS out of the middle east great game. The Syrian S-300 plus domestic politics seems to have shut down Netanyahu and Israel for the moment and US now seem stalled by their domestic politics with the anti Trump group looking to be sabotaging his foreign policy on top of his other setbacks in foreign policy.
Plenty of room for the GCC mice to play.
karlof1 , Nov 19, 2018 1:45:13 PM | link
Russ @2--

I read Crooke's most recent essay earlier and second your motion of its importance. As I wrote yesterday, it seems Idlib Dawn will finally be given the go-ahead since the Iraqis aren't yet ready to participate in the East Euphrates operation.

Unmentioned by Crooke is the escalating energy drama over drilling around Cyprus. Also announced today and noted by a ceremony involving Putin and Erdogan is completion of Turk-Stream's underwater segment across Black Sea, thus gas deliveries will commence in 2019. The article provides a map illustrating Russia's sensitivity to Ukrainian and NATO aspirations to conduct war games in the Sea of Azov and surrounding area that it will never allow to occur, which is why NATO's been pushing it as a flashpoint.

Overall, the forces of reaction are in disarray and retreating, although paradigm change still has a long ways to go.

Castellio , Nov 19, 2018 1:47:56 PM | link
@3

The Media hasn't swallowed Washington's narrative: they wrote and propagated it.

ben , Nov 19, 2018 2:51:10 PM | link
This is for me, very positive news. Hopefully, Assad and the Syrian people will move forward together, providing they are wary of the empire's games, and don't except any rhetoric coming from the West.

IMO they should ask the Russians to stay and move closer into the Russian/Arab orbit.

Stumpy , Nov 19, 2018 4:23:28 PM | link
@ Ben 7

Yes, Russia deserves most of the credit for turning this around, IMO.

james , Nov 19, 2018 4:29:29 PM | link
thanks b.. you forgot the 4th block in the middle east - usa-israel-ksa... look to them to figure out a way to throw a monkey wrench into any hospitality that might otherwise enter in..at present usa is still in al tanf and a few other places trying their best to play a game with the kurds, and the headchoppers they are also responsible for - isis/al qaeda.. thanks god russia got involved.. after witnessing what happened in libya, they realized they had to act.. a lot of those dictator states, i wouldn't trust, uae in particular.. will be interesting to see how idlib is resolved, or what crazy game erdogan comes up with next..
Jen , Nov 19, 2018 5:18:52 PM | link
Curious to see how Iraq decides which power bloc it will join. Despite Arabic being the first language for most Iraqis, they are tied to Iran by religion (Shi'ism) and shared history: the area known to the British as Mesopotamia (between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and surrounding territories) used to be part of the Sasanian and Safavid empires (both Persian) before passing to the Ottomans.

The area south of the Persian Gulf which is currently part of the KSA is also mostly Shi'ite and was also ruled / influenced by the Persians and the Ottoman Turks in the past. So we can't assume that the Arabic-speaking populations in that part of the KSA and in Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will be necessarily loyal to their current Sunni royal family rulers.

fast freddy , Nov 19, 2018 5:19:47 PM | link
Ham-fisted USA forceful, aggressive, big-stick foreign policy by full spectrum rectum has served to force alliances btw China and Russia and Arab States. How much longer will the EU states stay on board? They are fools to follow the USA.

[Nov 17, 2018] Army Wins Al-Safa Battle - More Troops Move Towards Idelb

Notable quotes:
"... Does terrorism even really exist? It seems to me that in most cases (in modern history) incidents of terrorism can be attributed to state actors seeking to discredit and/or escalate. ..."
"... If we look at Northern Ireland it is clear that the British State were involved in carrying out, organizing, etc. acts of terrorism on both sides of the divide. The protestant paramilitaries where actively controlled and directed by the British state and in many incidences actually took part. On the catholic paramilitaries there were British agents who were in senior positions within the IRA and extremely violent in their approach. ..."
"... It is now fairly obvious that Al Qaeda and ISIS were western controlled, funded, trained and directed organizations. ..."
"... There is the Gladio operation (US/Anglo stay behind armies) which staged many acts of terrorism in post war Europe and is likely to still be active. ..."
"... Turkey has both the leverage and, in neutrality, superior military strength vis-a-vis the Kurds in Northern Syria. To top it off, it has the geographic advantage, because a Syrian Kurdistan would be landlocked between hostile neighbors. They were pawns in the American adventure in Syria. ..."
Nov 17, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

james , Nov 17, 2018 4:44:23 PM | link

thanks b.. it is still a proxy war and the usa is never going to leave.. they want to get rid of the pmu in iraq.. sanctions and etc bs... obviously that would help facilitate isis which the usa claims they are going after.. a load of bs is all i have come to expect from the usa..

here is inherent bullshit resolve comment regarding your mention of 40 dead.. - "Inherent Resolve: many open sources claiming massive casualties among civilians in Hajin region as result of coalition actions without any evidences."

meanwhile almasdar reporting 18 saa personal dead in latakia thanks these moderate rebels today.
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/jihadist-rebels-kill-18-syrian-soldiers-in-northern-latakia/

the kurds are brain dead... no wonder the usa likes working with them! they get what they deserve for sleeping with snakes...

the result of the al-safa battle is encouraging.. thanks for the update and good luck working on the google snoop dynamic..


Den Lille Abe , Nov 17, 2018 4:45:52 PM | link

What is the diference between a moderate terrorist and a extreme terrorist? I wonder ? Will the moderate say please, before he chops you head off?

Any that can help me here? I run afoul the wording. A terrorist is not necessarily a terrorist ?

If he is on our side then he is ok , clear to go?

Say I wanted to throw bombs (I don't, and cant throw very far) my actions wound depend on who the victims were? If they were Arabs, it would be ok? If it were white people, it was probably not ok? Amirite ?

And what is a moral war? Anybody?

Seems like I am more confused today being 61 than I were when I was 20.

ADKC , Nov 17, 2018 5:08:38 PM | link
Does terrorism even really exist? It seems to me that in most cases (in modern history) incidents of terrorism can be attributed to state actors seeking to discredit and/or escalate.

If we look at Northern Ireland it is clear that the British State were involved in carrying out, organizing, etc. acts of terrorism on both sides of the divide. The protestant paramilitaries where actively controlled and directed by the British state and in many incidences actually took part. On the catholic paramilitaries there were British agents who were in senior positions within the IRA and extremely violent in their approach.

It is now fairly obvious that Al Qaeda and ISIS were western controlled, funded, trained and directed organizations.

With the Dakota Pipeline protests there where agitators without a history with the protest seeking to provoke violence.

Hitler organized outrages against the German communities in Czechoslovakia to justify an invasion (to protect German minorities).

There is the Gladio operation (US/Anglo stay behind armies) which staged many acts of terrorism in post war Europe and is likely to still be active.

There is barely a terrorist incident that doesn't have some connection to state actors.

karlof1 , Nov 17, 2018 5:40:48 PM | link
How many times have we read reports of terrorists fleeing toward al-Tanf; I recall at least a dozen over the past 2 years. The volume and rhetorical tone Russia uses in what are now its demands that Outlaw US Empire forces abandon al-Tanf have drastically escalated over just the past month as several damning reports of conditions at the refugee camp are now published.

The rains in the region were quite spectacular and numerous videos of camel caravans slogging through the mire along with others--a massive river in al-Safa flowing through the rocks is one--are all over Twitter. Additional long-serving Syrian troops have been demobilized and discharged from service and further amnesty programs introduced to goad refugees to return. Civilian services still need lots of attention, but normal life is steadily returning.

Idlib awaits its Dawn operation as the Turks have had more than enough time to do their sorting, while the terrorists have increased their number of assaults inviting increased counter-fire. The chemical FF potential still lurks, and further excellent published exposures detailing the true nature of the White Helmet Terrorists are published. IMO, Russian hopes of solving Idlib politically without a major combat operation have dimmed greatly.

Numerous variables influence where the next major combat op will occur. Iraq's political issues impede its military actions. A weighty contingent of Russian troops were moved to Dier-Ezzor over the past two months along with fresh Syrian forces. With the clearing of al-Safa, those forces will likely combine and head East over the Euphrates. I believe both Russia and Syria are aware the situation there cannot be allowed to become frozen, and the lands east of the Euphrates is the largest remaining district needing liberation. Indeed, there are only 3 remaining: Idlib, al-Tanf, and East Euphrates--4 if the Turkish border zone's included.

Politically, Assad can't allow too long a respite as his liberation task remains undone. So, since the region lacking a political solution is East Euphrates, I look for the next major action to occur there--and the first serious testing of the new, joint, Syrian-Russian air defense system by the Outlaw US Empire, not the Zionists.

vk , Nov 17, 2018 9:03:36 PM | link
Throughout the war on Syria the Syrian Kurds have shown a lack of political wisdom. They probably believe they can withstand the Turkish army or that the U.S. will come to their help. The Turkish invasion of Afrin demonstrated that both ideas are nonsense. Their only chance to keep their homes is to completely submit to Syrian government control.

If the Kurds knew about the tale of the Malvines, they would've already surrendered to the Syrian government.

During the Falklands War, Argentina declared war against the UK calculating the USA would side with them against the British because Argentina is in the American continent -- therefore the Monroe Doctrine would take precedence.

But the UK was (still is) a NATO member. The mistake the Argentinian military dictators committed was that the choice wasn't between the Monroe Doctrine or NATO, but between capitalism and socialism (i.e. West vs USSR). The military junta that was governing Argentina at the time had already given up everything to the USA, they were already a guaranteed ally, with or without the Malvines. The UK had much more leverage, and, if it didn't have, it was the superior military power even if you factor the logistics of the war theater.

Turkey has both the leverage and, in neutrality, superior military strength vis-a-vis the Kurds in Northern Syria. To top it off, it has the geographic advantage, because a Syrian Kurdistan would be landlocked between hostile neighbors. They were pawns in the American adventure in Syria.

[Nov 15, 2018] Bolton's Met His Match Melania! - Antiwar.com Original

Nov 15, 2018 | original.antiwar.com

Bolton's Met His Match – Melania!

by Justin Raimondo Posted on November 15, 2018 November 14, 2018 We don't really hear all that much about Melania Trump in the media except occasional digs at her immigration status and a few daring photos. That's because the FLOTUS is one of the few unreservedly good things about this administration, and of course the media doesn't want to go there. Her grace, her reserve, her remarkable calm at the epicenter of a tumultuous White House, and, strikingly, her sense of style (and I don't just mean her clothes) puts her on a different plane from the Washington circus that surrounds her.

She had managed to keep her distance from the cutthroat politics of the Beltway, that is, until her collision with Mira Ricardel, National Security Advisor John Bolton's top aide and enforcer. Ricardel apparently disparaged the First Lady to other members of the White House staff, and tried to withhold resources from her on her recent trip to Africa. Whatever personal interactions of an unpleasant nature may have passed between these women, it's hard to imagine what provoked the office of the FLOTUS to issue the following statement :

"It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House."

Ricardel is described by those who know her as abrasive, a bureaucratic in-fighter, and one "who doesn't suffer fools lightly." Having mistaken the First Lady for a fool, Ms. Ricardel is the one who will suffer – along with Bolton, who has protected her since her appointment from a chorus of critics, but who cannot stand against Melania.

So Team Bolton is on the outs, which means the America Firsters within the administration who oppose our foreign policy of globalism and perpetual war are on the rise. Which leads us to contemplate the meaning of this incident. The War Party's ranks are not filled with Mr. Nice Guys. They are nearly all of them pushy self-serving aggressive SOBs, with about as much personal charm as a rattlesnake.

I'm reminded of an essay by the conservative philosopher Claes Ryn, professor of politics at Catholic University, in which he describes the obnoxious behavior of the children of our political class in a local MacDonald's just inside one of the Beltway's more prestigious neighborhoods:

"Deference to grown-ups seems unknown. I used to take offense, but the children have only taken their cue from their parents, who took their cue from their parents. The adults, for their part, talk in loud, penetrating voices, some on cell phones, as if no other conversations mattered. The scene exudes self-absorption and lack of self-discipline.

"Yes, this picture has everything to do with U.S. foreign policy. This is the emerging American ruling class, which is made up increasingly of persons used to having the world cater to them. If others challenge their will, they throw a temper tantrum. Call this the imperialistic personality – if 'spoilt brat' sounds too crude."

The Imperialistic Personality, indeed! It seems Ms. Ricardel had one too many temper tantrums so that even in the permissive atmosphere of Washington, D.C., it was too much. There are a lot of imperialistic personalities in that particular location, it seems, for one reason or another. But things are different in Donald Trump's Washington, and even if we have to take down the Ricardels one by one, just think of the numbers we can rack up in the next six years.

A NOTE TO MY READERS : My apologies for the short column: I have some medical issues to take care off this week and I'm a bit pressed for time.

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

You can check out my Twitter feed by going here . But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I've written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement , with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey , a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon ( ISI Books , 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here .

[Nov 14, 2018] Bolton Vows to 'Squeeze' Iran, Escalating Sanctions - News From by Jason Ditz

If this is Trump policy, then Trump is 100% pure neocon. It took just three months for the Deep state to turn him.
Notable quotes:
"... Bolton shrugged off the reality that Iran is still doing business internationally, saying that he believes Iran is "under real pressure" from the sanctions, and that he's determined to see it keep getting worse. ..."
Nov 13, 2018 | news.antiwar.com

Says Europe will be forced to accept US demands

With the newly reimposed US sanctions against Iran having little to no perceivable economic impact, national security adviser John Bolton is talking up his plans to continue to escalate the sanctions track, saying he will " squeeze Iran until the pips squeak ."

Bolton shrugged off the reality that Iran is still doing business internationally, saying that he believes Iran is "under real pressure" from the sanctions, and that he's determined to see it keep getting worse.

Bolton went on to predict that the European efforts to keep trading with Iran would ultimately fail. He said the Europeans are going through the six stages of grief , and would ultimately led to European acceptance of the US demands.

Either way, Bolton's position is that the US strategy will continue to be imposing new sanctions on Iran going forward. It's not clear what the end game is, beyond just damaging Iran.

[Nov 11, 2018] Trump's Iran Policy Cannot Succeed Without Allies The National Interest by James Clapper & Thomas Pickering

Highly recommended!
It's interesting that Clapper is against abandoned by Trump Iran deal.
Tramp administration is acting more like Israeli marionette here, because while there a strategic advantage in crushing the Iranian regime for the USA and making a county another Us vassal in the middle East, the cost for the country might be way to high (especially if we count in the cost of additional antagonizing Russia and China). Trump might jump into the second Afghanistan, which would really brake the back of US military -- crushing Iran military is one thing, but occupying such a county is a very costly task. And that might well doom Israel in the long run as settlers policies now created really antagonized, unrecognizable minority with a high birth rate.
Vanishing one-by-one of partners are given due to collapse of neoliberalism as an ideology. Nobody believes that neoliberalism is the future, like many believed in 80th and early 90th. This looks more and more like a repetion of the path of the USSR after 1945, when communist ideology was discredited and communist elite slowly fossilized. In 46 years from its victory in WWII the USSR was dissolved. The same might happen with the USA in 50 years after winning the Cold War.
Notable quotes:
"... a vanishing one by one of American partners who were previously supportive of U.S. leadership in curbing Iran, particularly its nuclear program. ..."
"... The United States risks losing the cooperation of historic and proven allies in the pursuit of other U.S. national security interests around the world, far beyond Iran. ..."
Nov 09, 2018 | nationalinterest.org

Only well calibrated multilateral political, economic and diplomatic pressure brought to bear on Iran with many and diverse partners will produce the results we seek.

"Then there were none" was Agatha Christie's most memorable mystery about a house party in which each guest was killed off one by one. Donald Trump's policy toward Iran has resulted in much the same: a vanishing one by one of American partners who were previously supportive of U.S. leadership in curbing Iran, particularly its nuclear program.

Dozens of states, painstakingly cultivated over decades of American leadership in blocking Iran's nuclear capability, are now simply gone. One of America's three remaining allies on these issues, Saudi Arabia, has become a central player in American strategy throughout the Middle East region. But the Saudis, because of the Jamal Khashoggi killing and other reasons, may have cut itself out of the action. The United Arab Emirates, so close to the Saudis, may also fall away.

Such paucity of international support has left the Trump administration dangerously isolated. "America First" should not mean America alone. The United States risks losing the cooperation of historic and proven allies in the pursuit of other U.S. national security interests around the world, far beyond Iran.

... ... ...

European allies share many of our concerns about Iran's regional activities, but they strongly oppose U.S. reinstitution of secondary sanctions against them. They see the Trump administration's new sanctions as a violation of the nuclear agreement and UN Security Council resolutions and as undermining efforts to influence Iranian behavior. The new sanctions and those applied on November 5 only sap European interest in cooperating to stop Iran.

... ... ...

The United States cannot provoke regime change in Iran any more than it has successfully in other nations in the region. And, drawing on strategies used to topple governments in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States should be wary of launching or trying to spur a military invasion of Iran.

Lt. Gen. James Clapper (USAF, ret.) is the former Director of National Intelligence. Thomas R. Pickering is a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Russia and India.

[Nov 10, 2018] ISIS is as authentic and real as The White Helmets

Nov 10, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

never mind , Nov 10, 2018 7:30:32 AM | link

ISIS is as authentic and real as The White Helmets. There are mercenaries trained, paid and moved around by foreign intelligence, but there is no independent entity with a cyber division between the deserts of syria and iraq.

It's all make believe.

[Nov 10, 2018] The Reasons for Netanyahu's Panic by Alastair Crooke

Highly recommended!
Looks like time is working against Israelis in general and Netanyahu administration specifically... the nest result of 10`8 is he supply of S300 by Russia, which is a real thereat to Isreli air supremacy, no matter what Israili minister of offence said.
Alastair Crooke: "Belatedly, Israel has understood that it backed the wrong side in Syria -- and it has lost. It is not really in a position to demand anything. It will not get an American enforced buffer zone beyond the Golan armistice line, nor will the Iraqi-Syrian border be closed, or somehow "supervised" on Israel's behalf."
In the next ten years Israel regional position might deteriorate. It antagonized Palestinians to the point of "no reconciliation". And as US faced its own internal difficulties and divisions (and neocons in the USA now are look mostly negatively by wide swats of population), Israel might again face hostile Arab countries on the "never negotiated" borders. To find itself the country without negotiated borders with the hostile encirclement, of a kind Washington tries to create for Russia, is the position that any diplomat would like to avoid.
So it looks like the key idea of Zionism -- colonizing the land and displacing Palestinians much like Indians were displaced in the USA or aborigines in Australia, in retrospect looks not that realistic. A lot of Jewish talent and Western money was spend on a this variation of "Drang nach Osten"
Notable quotes:
"... It will not get an American enforced buffer zone beyond the Golan armistice line, nor will the Iraqi-Syrian border be closed, or somehow "supervised" on Israel's behalf. ..."
"... simply failed ..."
"... Israel's unexpected failure was deeply feared in the West, and in the Gulf too. A small, armed (revolutionary) movement had stood up to Israel -- against overwhelming odds -- and prevailed: it had stood its ground. This precedent was widely perceived to be a potential regional "game changer." The feudal Gulf autocracies sensed in Hizbullah's achievement the latent danger to their own rule from such armed resistance. ..."
"... And the war in Syria started to be mooted as the "corrective strategy" to the 2006 failure (as early as 2007) -- though it was only with the events following 2011 that the "corrective strategy" came to implemented, à outrance ..."
"... Syria -- with indisputable help from its allies -- seems about to prevail: it has stood its ground, against almost unbelievable odds. ..."
"... Syria's "standing its ground" represents a historic turning ..."
"... with each other ..."
"... Netayahu's "near panic" (if that is indeed what occurred) may well be a reflection of this seismic shift taking place in the region. Israel has long backed the losing side -- and now finds itself "alone" and fearing for its near proxies (the Jordanians and the Kurds). The "new" corrective strategy from Tel Aviv, it appears, is to focus on winning Iraq away from Iran, and embedding it into the Israel-U.S.-Saudi alliance. ..."
"... Daniel Levy has written a compelling piece to argue that Israelis generally would not subscribe to what I have written above, but rather: "Netanyahu's lengthy term in office, multiple electoral successes, and ability to hold together a governing coalition [is based on] him having a message that resonates with a broader public. It is a sales pitch that Netanyahu [has] 'brought the state of Israel to the best situation in its history, a rising global force the state of Israel is diplomatically flourishing.' Netanyahu had beaten back what he had called the 'fake-news claim' that without a deal with the Palestinians 'Israel will be isolated, weakened and abandoned' facing a 'diplomatic tsunami.' ..."
"... "Difficult though it is for his political detractors to acknowledge, Netanyahu's claim resonates with the public because it reflects something that is real, and that has shifted the center of gravity of Israeli politics further and further to the right. It is a claim that, if correct and replicable over time, will leave a legacy that lasts well beyond Netanyahu's premiership and any indictment he might face. ..."
"... "And then events took a further turn in Netanyahu's favor with the rise to power in the United States and parts of Central Eastern Europe (and to enhanced prominence elsewhere in Europe and the West) of the very ethno-nationalist trend to which Netanyahu is so committed, working to replace liberal with illiberal democracy. One should not underestimate Israel and Netanyahu's importance as an ideological and practical avant-garde for this trend." ..."
"... And this week, Hassan Nasrallah called on the Lebanese government " to devise a plan and take a sovereign decision to liberate the Shebaa Farms and the Kfarshouba Hills" from Israel. ..."
"... Will ethno-nationalism provide Israel with a new support base? Well, firstly, I do not see Israel's doctrine as "illiberal democracy," but rather an apartheid system intended to subordinate Palestinian political rights. And as the political schism in the West widens, with one "wing" seeking to delegitimize the other by tarnishing them as racists, bigots and Nazis, it is clear that the real ..."
"... The increasingly "not to be" constituency of the Middle East has a simpler word for Netanyahu's "ethnic nationalism." They call it simply Western colonialism. Round one of Chas Freeman's making the Middle East " be ..."
"... For all Netanyahu's bluster about Israel standing stronger, and having beaten back "what he had called the 'fake-news claim' that without a deal with the Palestinians 'Israel will be isolated, weakened and abandoned' facing a 'diplomatic tsunami,'" Netanyahu may have just discovered, in these last two weeks, that he confused facing down the weakened Palestinians with "victory" -- only at the very moment of his apparent triumph, to find himself alone in a new, "New Middle East." ..."
"... [For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com's " The Possible Education of Donald Trump. "] ..."
www.defenddemocracy.press
... ... ...

Belatedly, Israel has understood that it backed the wrong side in Syria – and it has lost. It is not really in a position to demand anything. It will not get an American enforced buffer zone beyond the Golan armistice line, nor will the Iraqi-Syrian border be closed, or somehow "supervised" on Israel's behalf.

Of course, the Syrian aspect is important, but to focus only on that, would be to "miss the forest for the trees." The 2006 war by Israel to destroy Hizbullah (egged on by the U.S., Saudi Arabia -- and even a few Lebanese) was a failure. Symbolically, for the first time in the Middle East, a technologically sophisticated, and lavishly armed, Western nation-state simply failed . What made the failure all the more striking (and painful) was that a Western state was not just bested militarily, it had lost also the electronic and human intelligence war, too -- both spheres in which the West thought their primacy unassailable.

The Fallout from Failure

Israel's unexpected failure was deeply feared in the West, and in the Gulf too. A small, armed (revolutionary) movement had stood up to Israel -- against overwhelming odds -- and prevailed: it had stood its ground. This precedent was widely perceived to be a potential regional "game changer." The feudal Gulf autocracies sensed in Hizbullah's achievement the latent danger to their own rule from such armed resistance.

The reaction was immediate. Hizbullah was quarantined -- as best the full sanctioning powers of America could manage. And the war in Syria started to be mooted as the "corrective strategy" to the 2006 failure (as early as 2007) -- though it was only with the events following 2011 that the "corrective strategy" came to implemented, à outrance .

Against Hizbullah, Israel had thrown its full military force (though Israelis always say, now, that they could have done more). And against Syria, the U.S., Europe, the Gulf States (and Israel in the background) have thrown the kitchen sink: jihadists, al-Qaeda, ISIS (yes), weapons , bribes, sanctions and the most overwhelming information war yet witnessed. Yet Syria -- with indisputable help from its allies -- seems about to prevail: it has stood its ground, against almost unbelievable odds.

Just to be clear: if 2006 marked a key point of inflection, Syria's "standing its ground" represents a historic turning of much greater magnitude . It should be understood that Saudi Arabia's (and Britain's and America's) tool of fired-up, radical Sunnism has been routed. And with it, the Gulf States, but particularly Saudi Arabia are damaged. The latter has relied on the force of Wahabbism since the first foundation of the kingdom: but Wahabbism in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq has been roundly defeated and discredited (even for most Sunni Muslims). It may well be defeated in Yemen too. This defeat will change the face of Sunni Islam.

Already, we see the Gulf Cooperation Council, which originally was founded in 1981 by six Gulf tribal leaders for the sole purpose of preserving their hereditary tribal rule in the Peninsula, now warring with each other , in what is likely to be a protracted and bitter internal fight. The "Arab system," the prolongation of the old Ottoman structures by the complaisant post-World War I victors, Britain and France, seems to be out of its 2013 "remission" (bolstered by the coup in Egypt), and to have resumed its long-term decline.

The Losing Side

Netayahu's "near panic" (if that is indeed what occurred) may well be a reflection of this seismic shift taking place in the region. Israel has long backed the losing side -- and now finds itself "alone" and fearing for its near proxies (the Jordanians and the Kurds). The "new" corrective strategy from Tel Aviv, it appears, is to focus on winning Iraq away from Iran, and embedding it into the Israel-U.S.-Saudi alliance.

If so, Israel and Saudi Arabia are probably too late into the game, and are likely underestimating the visceral hatred engendered among so many Iraqis of all segments of society for the murderous actions of ISIS. Not many believe the improbable (Western) narrative that ISIS suddenly emerged armed, and fully financed, as a result of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's alleged "sectarianism": No, as rule-of-thumb, behind each such well-breached movement -- stands a state .

Daniel Levy has written a compelling piece to argue that Israelis generally would not subscribe to what I have written above, but rather: "Netanyahu's lengthy term in office, multiple electoral successes, and ability to hold together a governing coalition [is based on] him having a message that resonates with a broader public. It is a sales pitch that Netanyahu [has] 'brought the state of Israel to the best situation in its history, a rising global force the state of Israel is diplomatically flourishing.' Netanyahu had beaten back what he had called the 'fake-news claim' that without a deal with the Palestinians 'Israel will be isolated, weakened and abandoned' facing a 'diplomatic tsunami.'

"Difficult though it is for his political detractors to acknowledge, Netanyahu's claim resonates with the public because it reflects something that is real, and that has shifted the center of gravity of Israeli politics further and further to the right. It is a claim that, if correct and replicable over time, will leave a legacy that lasts well beyond Netanyahu's premiership and any indictment he might face.

"Netanyahu's assertion is that he is not merely buying time in Israel's conflict with the Palestinians to improve the terms of an eventual and inevitable compromise. Netanyahu is laying claim to something different -- the possibility of ultimate victory, the permanent and definitive defeat of the Palestinians, their national and collective goals.

"In over a decade as prime minister, Netanyahu has consistently and unequivocally rejected any plans or practical steps that even begin to address Palestinian aspirations. Netanyahu is all about perpetuating and exacerbating the conflict, not about managing it, let alone resolving it [The] message is clear: there will be no Palestinian state because the West Bank and East Jerusalem are simply Greater Israel."

No Palestinian State

Levy continues: "The approach overturns assumptions that have guided peace efforts and American policy for over a quarter of a century: that Israel has no alternative to an eventual territorial withdrawal and acceptance of something sufficiently resembling an independent sovereign Palestinian state broadly along the 1967 lines. It challenges the presumption that the permanent denial of such an outcome is incompatible with how Israel and Israelis perceive themselves as being a democracy. Additionally, it challenges the peace-effort supposition that this denial would in any way be unacceptable to the key allies on which Israel depends

"In more traditional bastions of support for Israel, Netanyahu took a calculated gamble -- would enough American Jewish support continue to stand with an increasingly illiberal and ethno-nationalist Israel, thereby facilitating the perpetuation of the lopsided U.S.-Israel relationship? Netanyahu bet yes, and he was right."

And here is another interesting point that Levy makes:

"And then events took a further turn in Netanyahu's favor with the rise to power in the United States and parts of Central Eastern Europe (and to enhanced prominence elsewhere in Europe and the West) of the very ethno-nationalist trend to which Netanyahu is so committed, working to replace liberal with illiberal democracy. One should not underestimate Israel and Netanyahu's importance as an ideological and practical avant-garde for this trend."

Former U.S. Ambassador and respected political analyst Chas Freeman wrote recently very bluntly: "the central objective of U.S. policy in the Middle East has long been to achieve regional acceptance for the Jewish-settler state in Palestine." Or, in other words, for Washington, its Middle East policy -- and all its actions -- have been determined by "to be, or not to be": "To be" (that is) -- with Israel, or not "to be" (with Israel).

Israel's Lost Ground

The key point now is that the region has just made a seismic shift into the "not to be" camp. Is there much that America can do about that? Israel very much is alone with only a weakened Saudi Arabia at its side, and there are clear limits to what Saudi Arabia can do.

The U.S. calling on Arab states to engage more with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi seems somehow inadequate. Iran is not looking for war with Israel (as a number of Israeli analysts have acknowledged ); but, too, the Syrian President has made clear that his government intends to recover "all Syria" -- and all Syria includes the occupied Golan Heights. And this week, Hassan Nasrallah called on the Lebanese government " to devise a plan and take a sovereign decision to liberate the Shebaa Farms and the Kfarshouba Hills" from Israel.

Read also: Church Leaders Condemn 'Brutal' US-Led Attack on Syria, Praise Gov't Forces

A number Israeli commentators already are saying that the "writing is on the wall" -- and that it would be better for Israel to cede territory unilaterally, rather than risk the loss of hundreds of lives of Israeli servicemen in a futile attempt to retain it. That, though, seems hardly congruent with the Israeli Prime Minister's "not an inch, will we yield" character and recent statements .

Will ethno-nationalism provide Israel with a new support base? Well, firstly, I do not see Israel's doctrine as "illiberal democracy," but rather an apartheid system intended to subordinate Palestinian political rights. And as the political schism in the West widens, with one "wing" seeking to delegitimize the other by tarnishing them as racists, bigots and Nazis, it is clear that the real America First-ers will try, at any price, to distance themselves from the extremists.

Daniel Levy points out that the Alt-Right leader, Richard Spencer, depicts his movement as White Zionism. Is this really likely to build support for Israel? How long before the "globalists" use precisely Netanyahu's "illiberal democracy" meme to taunt the U.S. Right that this is precisely the kind of society for which they too aim: with Mexicans and black Americans treated like Palestinians?

'Ethnic Nationalism'

The increasingly "not to be" constituency of the Middle East has a simpler word for Netanyahu's "ethnic nationalism." They call it simply Western colonialism. Round one of Chas Freeman's making the Middle East " be with Israel" consisted of the shock-and-awe assault on Iraq. Iraq is now allied with Iran, and the Hashad militia (PMU) are becoming a widely mobilized fighting force. The second stage was 2006. Today, Hizbullah is a regional force, and not a just Lebanese one.

The third strike was at Syria. Today, Syria is allied with Russia, Iran, Hizbullah and Iraq. What will comprise the next round in the "to be, or not to be" war?

For all Netanyahu's bluster about Israel standing stronger, and having beaten back "what he had called the 'fake-news claim' that without a deal with the Palestinians 'Israel will be isolated, weakened and abandoned' facing a 'diplomatic tsunami,'" Netanyahu may have just discovered, in these last two weeks, that he confused facing down the weakened Palestinians with "victory" -- only at the very moment of his apparent triumph, to find himself alone in a new, "New Middle East."

Perhaps Pravda was right, and Netanyahu did appear close to panic, during his hurriedly arranged, and urgently called, Sochi summit.

[For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com's " The Possible Education of Donald Trump. "]

* Alastair Crooke is a former British diplomat who was a senior figure in British intelligence and in European Union diplomacy. He is the founder and director of the Conflicts Forum.

[Nov 10, 2018] US, Turkey risk direct military clash as they escalate war in Syria Defend Democracy Press by Barış Demir

Notable quotes:
"... Washington Post ..."
Aug 11, 2018 | www.defenddemocracy.press

As it pursues its war with US-backed Kurdish-nationalist organizations, the Turkish government is threatening an outright military occupation of large parts of Syria that could provoke war with Syria and a direct clash with US forces.

On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced joint patrols by US forces and Kurdish-led militias as "unacceptable." Speaking to reporters in Ankara, he said: "Not only can we not accept (the joint patrols), such a development will cause serious problems at the border."

This came after Turkey shelled positions of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the Zor Magar region east of the Euphrates River and the town of Tal Abyad starting on October 28, killing at least 10 Kurdish fighters. Two days earlier, Erdogan had delivered a "final warning" to Syrian Kurdish fighters to retreat. He also warned that Turkey's next target would be positions of the People's Protection Units (YPG, a Kurdish force that is the key component of the SDF) east of the Euphrates.

On October 30, as shelling continued, Erdogan stepped up threats to invade Syria to attack the US-backed Kurdish forces: "We are going to destroy the terrorist organization preparations and plans have been completed. We've made our plans and programs, and initiated it in the previous days. We will come down on the terrorist organization's neck with more extensive, effective operations. We could arrive suddenly one night."

This provoked an angry warning from Washington on October 31. State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said: "Unilateral military strikes into northwest Syria by any party, particularly as American personnel may be present or in the vicinity, are of great concern to us Coordination and consultation between the United States and Turkey on issues of security concern is a better approach."

Ankara, however, is determined to crush the YPG, which it views as an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the Turkish Kurdish separatist movement against which it has waged a bloody counter insurgency campaign for more than 30 years. Ankara also fears Kurdish autonomy in Syria, worried it will provoke demands for Kurdish autonomy in eastern Turkey.

Read also: Israel Bombs, Shells Syria in Latest Attempt to Justify More Land Grabs

In an apparent attempt to placate Ankara, Washington announced on Tuesday that it would place bounties on the heads of three PKK leaders. Visiting Turkey, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer announced that the State Department's Rewards for Justice program is offering money for information leading to the capture of the PKK officials. The bounties are $5 million for Murat Karayilan, $4 million for Cemil Bayik and $3 million for Duran Kalkan.

But Ambassador James Jeffrey, the US special representative for Syria engagement, said Washington did not see the YPG and PKK as the same entity. He declared: "For us, the PKK is a terrorist organization. We are not of the same opinion on the YPG. We ensure that the YPG operates as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] in a way that does not pose a threat to Turkey."

Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin rebuffed the US initiative, saying Ankara would treat it "with caution" and demanding that Washington sever all ties with the YPG.

Turkey's ever-deeper involvement in the bloodshed across the region is the product of Erdogan's decision to support the proxy war for regime change launched by the NATO imperialist powers in Syria in 2011.

As the WSWS previously noted : "All Erdogan's calculations were upended by the intensification of the war and of the class struggle in the Middle East. In 2013, amid growing working class anger against Egypt's Islamist President Mohammad Mursi and social protests in Turkey centred in Gezi Park, the imperialist powers backed an army coup that toppled Mursi. As the Islamic State (IS) militia grew in Syria and invaded Iraq, moreover, they turned to the use of Kurdish nationalist groups as their proxies against IS.

Read also: Proposals for a new Syrian Constitution

"Erdogan could not adapt himself to these sudden, violent shifts in imperialist war policy, and Ankara's imperialist allies rapidly came to see him not as a 'strategic partner,' but as an unreliable one."

After Russia intervened militarily to prevent NATO-backed Islamist militias from overthrowing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Turkish jets shot down a Russian jet over Syria in November 2015, with US support. After Russia escalated its military posture in response and threatened economic sanctions in retaliation against Turkey, however, Ankara tacked back toward Russia and China. Ankara turned first to China and then Russia for an air defence system, while its relations with the Obama administration and its European allies rapidly deteriorated.

In July 2016, a section of Turkey's military, encouraged by Washington and Berlin, launched an abortive putsch out of NATO's Incirlik air base, aiming to murder Erdogan and carry out regime change in Turkey.

Erdogan responded to the coup by stepping up the war against the Kurds and imposing a state of emergency, seeking to strangle all political opposition. Ankara also maneuvered closer to Moscow and Tehran, setting up talks in Astana for a "solution" to the Syria war. And Erdogan ordered the Turkish army to launch its own invasions of Syria, "Operation Euphrates Shield" (in August 2016) and "Operation Olive Branch" (in January 2018), directed against the YPG.

The brief warming of US-Turkish relations that followed the gruesome state murder on October 2 of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul appears to have quickly ended. Ankara clearly saw the investigation of the Khashoggi assassination as a means of promoting Turkish interests in relation to Riyadh and Washington. It had shared tense relations with both the Saudi regime and US imperialism, including over the Saudi blockade of Qatar, a key Turkish ally, and the US alliance with the YPG in Syria.

Read also: The Reasons for Netanyahu's Panic

Erdogan sought to improve relations with Washington by investigating the killing of Khashoggi, who worked extensively for US publications, including the Washington Post . Ankara also released US pastor Andrew Brunson, whom it had accused of helping prepare the 2016 coup. But Washington soon dropped the Khashoggi murder, focusing instead on strategies for intensifying the war in Syria.

Ankara is responding by moving closer to the European powers and seeking to exploit their growing differences with Washington. It joined a new mechanism with Germany, France and Russia to work out a peace deal in Syria acceptable to the European imperialist powers. An inconclusive October 27 Istanbul summit on Syria, hosted by Erdogan, was attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russia President Vladimir Putin.

After the summit, they called for a new Syrian constitution to be drafted before the end of this year, "paving the way for free and fair elections," according to a joint statement.

Visiting Tokyo on Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also criticized US sanctions against Iran, which have been the subject of escalating conflict between Washington and the European powers. "While we were asking (for) an exemption from the United States, we have also been very frank with them that cornering Iran is not wise," he said. "Turkey is against sanctions, we don't believe any results can be achieved through the sanctions."

[Nov 09, 2018] Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi possible connection to Israel

Nov 09, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

ardent 19 minutes ago ( Edited ) remove Share link Copy Report

"Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, is an Israeli Mossad-trained operative whose real name is Elliot Shimon, a *** who took courses in Islamic theology and Arabic Speech." - Snowden

Old Poor Richard 49 minutes ago remove Share link Copy

Now how would Ed Snowden know this? Is he some kind of super h4x0r tapped into the Pegasus mainframe?

ShakenNotStirred 42 minutes ago remove Share link Copy

I heard you have a bunch of Mossad agents below your bed. Check it out or you will be "Mossaded" before the morning.

passingthroughtown 2 hours ago remove Share link Copy

Proving once again that the Saudis and Israelies have been working hand in glove for a very long time. Is there any doubt about the connection between the two and what happened on 911?

But what is even more disturbing:

In recent days, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have reached out to the Trump administration to express support for the crown prince, arguing that he is an important strategic partner in the region, said people familiar with the calls.

"Strategic partner" makes it all okay. This is merely a glimpse of what is coming in the future. You ain't seen NOTHIN yet.

He–Mene Mox Mox 3 hours ago remove Share link Copy

Here is more of what Snowden was talking about: https://citizenlab.ca/2018/10/the-nso-connection-to-jamal-khashoggi/ .

Derezzed 3 hours ago ( Edited ) remove Share link Copy

" Israel is routinely at the top of the US' classified threat list of hackers along with Russia and China [ ] even though it is an ally "
Our best allies !
" Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the United States to stand by Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman (MBS) in the wake of the Khashoggi case. "
The most morale people !
I bet they are behind ISIS too with their (((allies))) and the (((deep state))).
But hey isn't it conspirationnist and antisemitic to accuse them of anything ?
Because you know as the most " kind " and " human " people there needs to be laws, censorship and repression, to protect them from being hated.
< 1% of the global population and they make the headlines 4/5 times a day.
Can only be bad luck and a cohencidence !

Dickweed Wang 3 hours ago remove Share link Copy

"Israel is routinely at the top of the US' classified threat list of hackers along with Russia and China [ ] even though it is an ally"

Sorry Ed, IsraHell isn't an ally of the USA. It's a ******* parasite and it's well on its way to killing the host.

alamac 4 hours ago remove Share link Copy

I guess Netanyahoo and KSM love each other because they have a common hobby: Killing Arabs.

RagnarRedux 4 hours ago ( Edited ) remove Share link Copy

ISRAEL FLAGGED AS TOP SPY THREAT TO U.S. IN NEW SNOWDEN/NSA DOCUMENT (2007)

https://www.newsweek.com/israel-flagged-top-spy-threat-us-new-snowdennsa-document-262991

Former U.S. Officials Say CIA Considers Israel To Be Mideast's Biggest Spy Threat (2012)

U.S. intelligence agents stationed in Israel report multiple cases of equipment tampering, suspected break ins in recent years; CIA officials tell the Associated Press that Israel may have leaked info that led to the capture of an agent inside Syria's chemical weapons program.

https://www.haaretz.com/for-cia-israel-is-a-spy-therat-1.5272328

He–Mene Mox Mox 4 hours ago remove Share link Copy

What Snowden says is true. Here is what the Canadians have put together about NSO: https://citizenlab.ca/2018/09/hide-and-seek-tracking-nso-groups-pegasus-spyware-to-operations-in-45-countries/

What is really troubling, is Kushner's involvement in the affair. He would have been debriefed once he returned to the U.S., not only by his father-in-law, Trump, but the intel community too. You can bet every dollar you have that both the Israelis and Saudis were using NSO surveillance on him. What is even more troubling, it appears that the action taken to "neutralize" Jamal Khashoggi, more than likely had the blessings of Washington, since Kushner met with the Saudis prior to the killing. It really makes one wonder, since Kushner declined to discuss the state of his relationship with Prince Mohammed.

GRDguy 4 hours ago remove Share link Copy

"licensed only to legitimate government agencies"

That's the problem.

There are no legitimate government agencies any more.

[Nov 07, 2018] Trump is now ripe of impeachment for his crimes in Syria, but nobody will push for it

One potential worry in both the extensive Democratic and Republican political criminal cesspool would be that another wealthy populist-esque candidate for the Presidency will emerge in the wake Trump's faux populism to come closer to the real thing. ....
Nov 07, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Robert Snefjella , Nov 7, 2018 3:32:12 PM | link

As I gamely attempt to make some sense out of a daily inundation of various alternative political realities and alternative illusions co-mingling, processing as best I can the bits and pieces that I manage to filter through my taxed cranium, it occurs to me again that Trump won the 2016 election against the Establishment of both parties.

Subsequently, Trump has had various anchors attached to him and booby traps placed in his way and arrows shot at him from many political directions, and some self-inflicted. His own behaviors and policies have managed to alienate just about everybody on the planet except some tens of millions of Deplorables of indeterminate faithfulness.

But it appears to me that the strengthening of his position in the Senate, which previously was at best weakly supportive at Trump and for good reason easily suspected of being poised for betrayal, is potentially very significant. The question is to what extent the new Senate will be more willing to flex its enhanced Republican muscles on behalf of Trump.

"The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments." Okay, so the impeachment possibility is nullified.

Another point is that whereas after 2016 the Democratic minority were reduced to political 'guerrilla-tactics', they are now able to actually propose and win the H. of Rep. vote on their proposals. Since they require the assent of the Senate, will this lead to a more cooperative approach to proposed legislation? After all, bashing Trump has not been a great strategy. Might the Democrats try actually proposing and attempting to pass sensible laws?

One potential worry in both the extensive Democratic and Republican political criminal cesspool would be that another wealthy populist-esque candidate for the Presidency will emerge in the wake Trump's faux populism to come closer to the real thing. Perhaps such a political trend/event in the USA is as far fetched as the unicorn, but after all, who would have thought Russia could have rebounded positively so far from their inebriated depressed life support just a short generation ago?

[Nov 07, 2018] A must watch Jimmy Dore show

Nov 07, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Harry Law , Nov 7, 2018 3:27:30 PM | 86 ">link

This is a must watch Jimmy Dore show, Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University lays out how Obama and Trump have made a mess of Syria and caused the deaths of half a million people, the panel on MSMBC are stunned into silence by this truth telling.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_O2TRzA2ezk

[Nov 05, 2018] Both in Skriplas affair and in Syria the UK is slowly sinking to its appropriate level of incompetence and self-delusion

Nov 05, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

et Al November 5, 2018 at 8:22 am

I'm not surprised that you are such a fine shot with his harpoon considering your naval background, Mark! The UK is slowly sinking to its appropriate level of incompetence and self-delusion with the likes of former PM Dave Cameron declaring that he is 'shit bored' and would like to return to cabinet, preferably as Foreign Minister. That could be arranged, but as Foreign minister in Libya.

Still, the whole 'Russian corrupting in Britain' is the British government's perception management at its finest. As someone recently posted on the last thread, a Spanish case against RUSSIAN MAFIA collapsed for lack of evidence after ten years , which I suspect was partly provided by British Intelligence paid organized crime experts from Russia like Litvenenko & Skripal. Who's been bilked then?

Yes, this is a classic case of 'LOOK OVER THERE!' rather than the billions upon billions sunk in to London by the UK and the west's bestest Gulf buddies, you know, the one's who fear not their exposure for outrageous human rights abuses on a genocidal scale such as in Yemen, and a much smaller scale with the likes of their own citizens, sic Kashoggi. But, Chelsea & Westminster are such a fundamental part of British Life (coz its London, innit?) and does very well for itself. I have to admit, it is (mostly) nice around there where you can take a stroll along the Embankment, wander around Hyde Park and visit the museums.

Northern Star November 5, 2018 at 5:33 pm
"Like in the Wild West, betting in the saloon is also common when it comes to Syria. The US State Department under Obama placed all its bets on some entity they invented, which they liked to call "moderate rebels" (why not "respectable terrorists" or "polite criminals"?). They lost. Numerous left-wing academics signed on to regime change years ago, and because they only pretend to be seasoned analysts for their day jobs, they did not foresee the collapse of the anti-government forces in Syria. That list included noted "post-colonial" scholars and anthropologists, united in their belief in "democracy promotion" and remaking Syria into something palatable to them, with the right leaders in place. Five years later and a smaller group -- including feminists like Gloria Steinem and Judith Butler, anarchists like Noam Chomsky and the anthropologist David Graeber, the Marxist David Harvey, and advocates of recolonization like Michael Walzer -- placed their bets on socialist Kurdish militias, presumably increasing the value of their bet by the important sign value of their brand name authority. Ironically, in the process of reimagining legendary Rojava as the site of a second Spanish Civil War, they were openly collaborating with Donald Trump (not naming him directly, since "the US government" was more convenient). These signatories were thus complicit with the very same commander-in-chief of the armed forces they were calling on for support of Syrian Kurds. They wanted "the US government," whose President is Donald Trump, to impose sanctions on Turkey, and to develop a foreign policy that put Kurdish interests at the forefront. You can be sure that, elsewhere, in front of different crowds, they return to "the Resistance" by puffing up their little chests and sounding all "anti-Trump" -- but when it came to cheering their favourite band of ethnic anarchists, they could dispense with appearances. Less "prestigious" characters, publishing in a less "prestigious" outlet, countered the call to "defend Rojava", a call which appropriated "progressive" politics for the cause of imperialism (thus reigniting an old marriage). (David Harvey, by the way, having cashed in on abundant sales of his volume, The New Imperialism, has recently changed his mind: he has decided that imperialism is merely a metaphor, "rather than anything real". Out of curiosity, we have to wonder if "capitalism" is also a metaphor, rather than anything real, seeing how Marxists have linked capitalism with imperialism. Perhaps even socialism is a metaphor, rather than anything real."

This Canadian has a lot to say well worth reading!!!!!

https://zeroanthropology.net/2018/10/06/syria-the-new-terra-nullius/

https://syria360.wordpress.com/2018/11/04/syria-the-new-terra-nullius/

[Oct 26, 2018] Russian general says US plane directed drones towards airbase in Syria News

Oct 26, 2018 | www.dw.com

A US military aircraft took control of 13 drones over Syria in January and tried to redirect them in an attack on a Russian airbase, a senior Russian official has claimed. Russia's military managed to thwart the attempt.

The US military helped coordinate an attempted drone attack on Russia's Hemeimeem base in Syria, Russian deputy defense minister Alexander Fomin claimed at a summit in Beijing on Thursday. The alleged attack took place in January 2018.

Fomin's statement marks the first time Russia has directly accused the US of targeting Russian forces.

The Russian official said that a coordinated group of 13 drones was directed toward the base while a US Poseidon-8, a high-tech reconnaissance plane, was cruising over the Mediterranean. Once the drones "reached our barrier of radio-electronic interference," they were switched to manual navigation, according to Fomin.

"This manual control is not conducted by just some villager, but by a normal, modernized Poseidon-8," Fomin added. "It took on manual control."

Read more: Russia starts drone surveillance missions in Syria

Fomin did not say who had launched the drones before the the US plane took over their direction. 'This needs to stop'

Russian forces managed to shoot down seven of the drones and then hack and take control of the remaining six, landing them safely. "And this needs to stop -- in order to avoid high-tech weapons falling into terrorists' hands and having well-equipped terrorists, it is necessary to stop strengthening them," Fomin told delegates at China's Xiangshan security forum.

The three-day summit in Beijing is organized by the Chinese defense ministry, with delegates expected from 79 countries.

Moscow has repeatedly accused the US of supplying and arming jihadist groups fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Islamist rebels often use drones to target Russian forces in Syria. Russia's defense ministry has claimed that rebel drones appear to be basic, but are equipped with modern navigation and ordinance delivery systems. This suggests that "a country possessing the technology to produce such systems supplied them to international terrorist groups," the ministry said, according to remarks cited by Russia's RIA Novosti agency.

Syria has been engulfed in a devastating civil war since 2011 after Syrian President Bashar Assad lost control over large parts of the country to multiple revolutionary groups. The conflict has since drawn in foreign powers and brought misery and death to Syrians.

Syria's army, officially known as the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), is loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and is fighting to restore the president's rule over the entire country. The SAA has been fighting alongside a number of pro-Assad militias such as the National Defense Force and has cooperated with military advisors from Russia and Iran, which back Assad.

Turkey, which is also part of the US-led coalition against IS, has actively supported rebels opposed to Assad. It has a tense relationship with its American allies over US cooperation with Kurdish fighters, who Ankara says are linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) fighting in Turkey. The Turkish military has intervened alongside rebels in northern Aleppo, Afrin and Idlib province.

The Kremlin has proven to be a powerful friend to Assad. Russian air power and ground troops officially joined the fight in September 2015 after years of supplying the Syrian army. Moscow has come under fire from the international community for the high number of civilian casualties during its airstrikes. However, Russia's intervention turned the tide in war in favor of Assad.

A US-led coalition of more than 50 countries, including Germany, began targeting IS and other terrorist targets with airstrikes in late 2014. The anti-IS coalition has dealt major setbacks to the militant group. The US has more than a thousand special forces in the country backing the Syrian Democratic Forces.

The Free Syrian Army grew out of protests against the Assad regime that eventually turned violent. Along with other non-jihadist rebel groups, it seeks the ouster of President Assad and democratic elections. After suffering a number of defeats, many of its members defected to hardline militant groups. It garnered some support from the US and Turkey, but its strength has been greatly diminished.

Fighting between Syrian Kurds and Islamists has become its own conflict. The US-led coalition against the "Islamic State" has backed the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias. The Kurdish YPG militia is the main component of the SDF. The Kurds have had a tacit understanding with Assad.

"Islamic State" (IS) took advantage of regional chaos to capture vast swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014. Seeking to establish its own "caliphate," IS has become infamous for its fundamentalist brand of Islam and its mass atrocities. IS is facing defeat in both countries after the US and Russia led separate military campaigns against the militant group.

IS is not the only terrorist group that has ravaged Syria. A number of jihadist militant groups are fighting in the conflict, warring against various rebel factions and the Assad regime. One of the main jihadist factions is Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, which controls most of Idlib province and has ties with al-Qaeda.

Iran has supported Syria, its only Arab ally, for decades. Eager to maintain its ally, Tehran has provided Damascus with strategic assistance, military training and ground troops when the conflict emerged in 2011. The Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah also supports the Assad regime, fighting alongside Iranian forces and paramilitary groups in the country.

In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the information was "very alarming," but added only the Russian military could provide details.

Putin might raise the issue when meeting US President Donald Trump in Paris on November 11, Peskov told reporters.

The US Pentagon did not immediately comment on Fomin's claims.

The news of the alleged US-coordinated attack comes some two months after Russia lost a high-tech plane in Syria in an incident Moscow says was caused by Israel . Russia responded by pledging to supply Syrian forces with S-300 aerial defense systems.

dj/jm (AP, Reuters, Interfax, dpa)

[Oct 22, 2018] Canada to nominate Al Qaeda for Nobel Peace Prize...

Oct 22, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

John Gilberts , Oct 22, 2018 2:10:56 PM | link

Syrian White Helmets To Be Nominated For Nobel Peace Prize

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-renowned-international-human-rights-lawyer-to-nominate-syrian-white/

Renowned [Zionist] international human-rights lawyer Irwin Cotler is nominating Syria's famed White Helmets, a group of volunteer humanitarian workers Canada helped rescue from the war-torn country for the Nobel Peace Prize...

A senior Canadian government official who was not authorized to speak publicly, confirmed Friday that some of the refugees have already resettled in Canada. The government declined to say exactly how many White Helmets have already arrived or the total number Canada plans to welcome, citing security concerns..."

[Oct 22, 2018] NINE British, Chechen and Turkish experts and TWO members of the White Helmets were killed in the blast at a workshop used for making chemicals in the small town of Tarmanin in Northern Idlib

Oct 22, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Montreal , Oct 22, 2018 5:28:27 AM | link

From Craig Murray's site.

" Over the weekend, there was a huge explosion at a workshop used for making chemicals in the small town of Tarmanin in Northern Idlib. The workshop included a large volume of chemical, explosive materials and liquid chlorine barrels. NINE British, Chechen and Turkish experts and TWO members of the White Helmets were killed in the blast."

https://en.muraselon.com/2018/10/white-helmets-blast-chemical-syria/
https://en.reseauinternational.net/white-helmets-members-experts-killed-in-huge-blast-at-chemical-workshop-in-northwestern-syria/

[Oct 21, 2018] Bolton is a certified retard if he thinks he will bankrupt Russia with an arms race

Oct 21, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

kirill October 19, 2018 at 2:40 pm

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-10-19/bolton-pushes-trump-drop-1987-treaty-after-russia-unveils-advanced-nukes

Bolton pushes for the US to break out of the 1987 INF Treaty. Not surprising considering that all those ABM components they are deploying around Russia are dual use and violate the INF. The INF is also a joke (showing us what a comprador Gorby was) since it allows the US to deploy unlimited range nuclear missiles in its Naval assets. So Russia cannot have any land based intermediate range nukes, but the US can park its ships in EU harbours and deploy unlimited amounts of the "banned" class of missiles.

I say let the US break the INF. The INF helps the USA and its NATzO minions more than it helps Russia.

Patient Observer October 20, 2018 at 9:05 am
There may be several motivations for Bolton
– an attempt to force Russia into a ruinously expensive arms race;
– to create a regional Cold War to reverse the nascent rapprochement between Western Europe and Russia;
– an attempt to limit war to the European/Russian region as much as possible if a war against Russia is needed by the US.

Bolton is an idiot carrying out a moron's strategy. What could go wrong?

kirill October 20, 2018 at 2:46 pm
Bolton is a certified retard if he thinks he will bankrupt Russia with an arms race.

1) I find the theory that the USSR couldn't afford the 1970-80s arms race and went bankrupt to be of zero credibility. The USSR was a command economy and various estimates of how much it allegedly spent on the economy to be ridiculous western attempts to impose their capitalist accounting on a command economy.

The USSR collapsed due to internal political rot and not some "budget deficit" which was meaningless in command economics and never exiting in reality anyway. The only valid metrics of deficits in command economies if there are labour shortages in various industries.

The USSR had more than enough engineers, researchers, workers and material resources to keep up with the arms race.

This is why command economics is vastly superior to capitalist profiteering. Capitalism only triumphs because humans are genetically deficient to live optimally under a command economy since they need all sorts of superfluous incentives and feel-good junk.

2) Nuclear weapons are the cheapest option out of all military costs. Tanks, ships and armed troops are much more expensive. In the current rocket era, these expensive options are outdated and much less potent. Russia can neutralize any US move by deploying appropriately designed missiles and warheads.

[Oct 20, 2018] Trump is de facto neocon

Oct 20, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Peter AU 1 , Oct 19, 2018 4:34:37 AM | link

@ Hoarsewhisper

I initially backed Trump, though with reservations on his attitude to Iran and his wanting to increase US military spending - build a stronger US military. Pulling out of the TPP was great. Au had sovereignty on paper if not in practice, but with the TPP, Australia would not have had sovereignty legally. His first attack on Syria was a flash bang exercise to disable his opponents. His second attack I thought initially was the same, but with everything I've read since, I believe Trump's US planned to destroy Syrian military but not wanting to go to war with Russia at that time, respected the Russian nyet on targets.

With Idlib it moved up a notch, Trump's US threatening attack on Syria including Russian personal stationed there, and Russia moving to asymmetrical moves rather than in your face nuclear amageddon, which is what a full on US attack on Syria would have amounted to..

[Oct 12, 2018] Father Dani l in Syria 'Fake News is Imposed With Great Enthusiasm in the West, While Channels of Truth Are Closed' by Bahar Azizi

Notable quotes:
"... Hand in Hand voor Syrië, ..."
"... The most flagrant case is Syria where a war was orchestrated by "proxy groups" by Western powers and the Petro monarchies of the Gulf States. Before the war, Syria was a country that could support itself in terms of food and industrialization with a well-developed population that enjoyed a modern health system. The "strategy of the chaos" imported hoards of mercenaries of which the Syrian government can hardly get rid of after 8 years of war (2011-2018). The imperialist intervention, meant to fight this state that refused to obey, has driven 5 million people from their homes" ..."
"... L'intervention and Libye, la pire erreur de ce début de siecle ..."
"... Propaganda Blitz. How the Corporate Media Distort Reality ..."
"... For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities of this dark world ... ..."
Oct 11, 2018 | www.sott.net
Living in Syria in the sixth-century Mar Yakub monastery in the city of Qara, 90 kilometers north of the capital Damascus, Flemish Father Daniël Maes has been a witness to the invasion of western-backed terrorists since the very beginning. To this day, he and his friends continue to support the Syrian people by not only helping them directly, but also by spreading the truth about what is truly going on in the country.

Each week, a newsletter written by Father Daniël is published, in which he describes his experiences and thoughts on the situation in Syria. With the help of much needed donations and NGOs such as Hand in Hand voor Syrië, Father Daniël and others have been working tirelessly with the Syrian people liberated from (formerly) terrorist-held areas.

Below, you can read his latest newsletter , as published on September 28th, 2018, and as translated by Sott.net:

Dear friends,

It seems unlikely that the planned military escalation by Western forces to protect the terrorists in Idlib and to risk a last chance to subvert Syria, will continue. The Abou al-Dohour safe zone basically ensures that citizens can escape the terrorist-controlled Idlib. This was largely guaranteed by the agreement between Russia and Turkey. And Putin seems determined to impose a no-fly zone over all of Syria! Well done. Meanwhile, the Syrians continue to work very diligently on the restoration of their country and society. After the fantastic course of the 60th annual fair last Friday, a 'marathon of peace' was organized to support those who work for the end of the war and the restoration of peace. This marathon was held in Hama, Homs, Lattakia, Tartous and Sweida.

At the same time, a limited bicycle race was organized in Damascus for 200 cyclists from the Ommayade mosque through the city.

In Qara there was one crossroad that was full of rubble for years. It was the place where the hardest fighting took place in 2013. Well, the debris is finally cleared up. And between the monastery and the Ante-Lebanon Mountains people have been working hard lately. The so-called Qara 4 gas source is now operational. It delivers 120,000 cubic meters of gas and 100 condensed barrels every day. We pray and hope that there will be a definitive end to this war and the Syrian people can fully develop their identity.

Father Daniël then goes on to sharing news about the community, his reflection on the root causes of the refugee problem, and a warning with regard to the "official fake news":
Preparation

We want to have a quiet retreat in the community and some preparation has been made for this. On Monday, we visited Sadad and the Syrian Orthodox community with some sisters and a guest, with whom we now maintain a close contact. We visited the "martyress" of the village again, the old woman, who was all alone, was left behind by terrorists to die but recovered. She received a shed that is now being converted into a two-room house, which she proudly showed us.

We prayed together in the church and visited a number of villagers. The pastor abou Michaiel and the Christians count on us that we also continue to help them financially. It is mainly about the purchase of material for the reconstruction, they will do the work themselves. Tuesday and Wednesday were still preparation days to start with a real quiet retreat for the whole community on Thursday. Hopefully more about that next time. So, you won't be getting a message about the war around us this time, we are committing to the struggle in ourselves right now.

Ministerial visit

This week we were again visited by the Minister of Supply together with his wife. They were with us before. He practically has the function of the patriarch Joseph in Egypt during the famine. He asked mother Agnes-Mariam to help find the means to offer more people work in agriculture so that they can provide themselves with their own food. In Aleppo we have been able to help 5,000 families. He also asked in India (mother Agnes-Mariam will briefly give a retreat in India) to find out whether material and prostheses can be shipped from there for disabled people.

From our monastery MSJM (Saint Jacques le Mutilé) about 1,000 people are now employed as paid workers in relief efforts throughout Syria. In the beginning we received a lot of opposition and suspicion. Meanwhile, there is a strong and good spirit with five responsible people, with mother Agnes-Mariam assuming the final responsibility. Now, big organizations are coming to us to work with us. However, the first and foremost impulse always starts with simple, sincere people who give their contribution with generosity. That is why we would like to express our sincere thanks to all our benefactors.

Our wars, our refugees

The continuing flow of refugees from the Middle East and Africa to Europe is a humanitarian drama for these people themselves and is also a threat to the countries in which they seek refuge. In this regard, two attitudes are mainly present. Some respond from a humanitarian point of view and want these people who are in need to be helped and taken care of. The others want to defend the identity of their country to for example prevent a Christian country from being flooded with Muslims who do not want to adapt and who create their own areas where the authentic population can not even visit.

However, what is missing too often is the question about the actual cause and background of the problem. When you return home and you see that the water is flowing out the front door, do you first look for buckets and mops to remove the water from your house? No. You first search for the cause of this flooding. And then you see, for example, that you have left the faucet of the sink open while the stopper was in. So the very first thing you do is close the tap.

There can be many causes that trigger a flow of refugees, but almost always they involve rich Western countries who want to master the resources of other countries. Under the pretext of "freedom and democracy" these countries are being disrupted, a change of government is being worked on, and puppets are being appointed to ensure the interests of the West.

" The most flagrant case is Syria where a war was orchestrated by "proxy groups" by Western powers and the Petro monarchies of the Gulf States. Before the war, Syria was a country that could support itself in terms of food and industrialization with a well-developed population that enjoyed a modern health system. The "strategy of the chaos" imported hoards of mercenaries of which the Syrian government can hardly get rid of after 8 years of war (2011-2018). The imperialist intervention, meant to fight this state that refused to obey, has driven 5 million people from their homes" . (Bruno Guigue, 23 september 2018: Link )

The US and the Western powers proclaim that they no longer have colonial policies, that they only want to ensure freedom and democracy, defend human rights and, finally, defend their own national security and interests. Those who claim their sovereignty must also recognize the sovereignty and interests of other countries. And that is precisely not the case. The military intervention by Western countries is not the solution, but the problem itself. It is the French troops in Mali, Niger (rich in uranium), Chad, Central African Republic that ensure that the countries remain dependent and poor.

It is NATO that destroyed Libya with active participation from Belgium and France. After the Belgian "aid" to Libya, there was hardly a bomb left in Belgium. No "mea culpa" came from any country for this total devastation (Jean-François Kahn, L'intervention and Libye, la pire erreur de ce début de siecle , Le Soir, 25/9/18; about this well-known French journalist see: Link ). The invasions of Somalia (1992), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003) destroyed these countries. The aggression of Saudi Arabia with active support from the West against Yemen has killed 10,000 people since March 2005, causing a deadly cholera epidemic and famine for 8 million people.

Certainly, there are several causes of the refugee flow. However, the most important remains the neo-colonial domination of Western powers who shamelessly and with military force appropriate the richness of other countries. Subsequently, there is often a corrupt elite of the country itself who have allowed themselves to be bribed to betray their own people. Finally, there are Mafia bosses who set up an extremely lucrative business to get the refugees across. Let's stop whining about the shortage of mops, pullers, buckets, and turn off the tap. These are our wars and our aggression against other countries that are making people flee. If we want to assert our sovereignty, we must also respect the sovereignty of other countries and their interests.

Ready for the battle for your mind!

The spreading of false, incorrect or misleading information, 'fake news', is a problem. The European Union is working diligently on a strategy to combat this ailment. The East StratCom Task Force was already set up for this purpose in 2015. Certain guidelines have been developed and at the end of this year we can expect more concrete actions.

However, there's a catch. Let's make it clear immediately. We are getting more and more into a situation where fake news is imposed with great enthusiasm by government leaders, politicians, official statements, authoritative media and acclaimed journalists, who conceal reality, while the channels of honest researchers who bring the truth, are closed expertly. The justification is then: We must defend European values. That free speech and the obligation to tell the truth are also values, is then forgotten. Or real news and truthful reporting are condemned as being a "conspiracy theory". Or, as we now experience with the announcement of the criminal behavior of the Dutch government, which smoothly helps with the slaughter of innocent Syrian people, says that it should not come to light because it is a "state secret".

The example we know best is of course Syria. A very harmonious, prosperous and particularly safe (albeit imperfect) society with a President who is supported by broad sections of the population is suddenly presented as a terrible dictatorship with a gruesome dictator. The CIA provided an abundance of false photos, films, reports, books, testimonies of inhuman torture (the American prisons remain an inexhaustible source for this) that were spread throughout the West. And everyone (including our "conflict journalist"!) "knew", almost one day after another, how that terrible Syrian president strangled people all day, tortured them to death and carried out chemical attacks.

Something like that makes the blood of every right-minded person boil and that makes a heavy-handed military intervention more than justified. When someone dared to say that there was no "popular uprising" in Syria and certainly no "civil war", that Syria had not committed any chemical attacks at all, he was dismissed as unreliable, fake news. And so the US, Israel, NATO and allies could continue to send their most fanatical terrorists to destroy the country and take away oil, gas and sovereignty. In our own Flemish press I never read one balanced article about the situation in Syria.

In the end it is about the loss of credible journalism. For England, this is now greatly described by David Edwards and David Cromwell, Propaganda Blitz. How the Corporate Media Distort Reality , Pluto Press, 2018, foreword by John Pilger. They show how the liberal media give half-truths and whole lies or sometimes represent reality in reverse, in the service of large interest groups. And the writers of this work are not even journalists but a former professor and an oceanographer. It will become increasingly difficult to discover reality, but it is not impossible. The Australian journalist and founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, is now imprisoned at the Embassy of Venezuela in London but in reality deserves a monument to what he has made public. There are undoubtedly many more people than we suspect, who are aware of the prevalent lies.

Anyone who has any insight into the ever-recurring anti-Russia, anti-Iran, anti-China, anti-Brexit... hysteria on the one hand and on the other Western unlimited war propaganda, justified by the most unlikely pretext to dominate the rest of the world, will soon find more reliable sources. It is also necessary. " For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities of this dark world ... " (Ephesians 6, 12). And by our attitude, we are always either on the side of the murderers or on the side of the innocent victims. We are called to be people of peace and not silly servants of hatred and war, which we conveniently want to package in a message of peace.

Bahar Azizi

Bahar Azizi lives in Europe, holds an MA in psychology, is an instructor in Éiriú Eolas meditation , and is a keen animal lover. Bahar has been a contributing writer and editor at SOTT.net since 2012.

[Oct 12, 2018] Putin, the responsible adult, is doing the World a huge favor with his Syrian S300 therapy

Oct 12, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Barbara Ann , a day ago

Excellent roundup Patrick, thanks.

I believe that is a truly pivotal piece by Gideon Levy in Haaretz and I share his sentiment and cautious optimism. Israel behaves as a child. It has been spoilt by being allowed to do as it pleases for far too long and by an over protective parent who comes running every time it throws a tantrum. Putin, the responsible adult, is doing the World a huge favor with his Syrian S300 therapy. These 2 paragraphs are spot on:

"Russia, without meaning to, may yet turn out to be better for Israel than all the insane, corrupting support it receives from the current American administration, and from its predecessors, too.

Russia has outlined for the world the way to treat Israel, using the only language Israel understands. Let those who truly care for Israel's welfare, and for justice, learn how it's done: Only by force."

[Oct 12, 2018] CIA democrat Obama was 100% involved in unleashing Syria war

Oc