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Syria civil war: attempt of the USA to create Sunny Theocracy instead of secular Assad government

The testing ground for false flag poisonings: White Helmets as a tool for false flag poisonings

News War is racket Recommended Links Downing of IL-20 reconnaaisance plane Israeli support of headchoppers and air raid on Syria military infrastructure Yugoslav wars
False flag poisonings Khan Sheikhoun gas attack Douma gas attack      
White Helmets as a tool for false flag poisonings Hillary role in Syria bloodbath Neocon foreign policy is a disaster for the USA American Imperialism American Exceptionalism Wolfowitz Doctrine
Media-Military-Industrial Complex New American Militarism Nation under attack meme Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair "F*ck the EU": State Department neocons show EU its real place Hillary Clinton and Obama created ISIS
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Robert Kagan Anatol Leiven on American Messianism Demonization of Putin Predator state National Socialism and Military Keysianism Roots of Reaganolatry 
Neoliberalism as a New form of Corporatism Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement Neo-fascism Gangster Capitalism: The United States and the Globalization of Organized Crime Power abroad rests on justice and decency at home
The Deep State Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Two Party System as polyarchy Neoliberal Propaganda: Journalism In the Service of the Powerful Few Corporatism
Color revolutions Neoliberal Compradors and lumpenelite Neocons Credibility Scam Obama: a yet another Neocon   Conservatives Without Conscience
War is a Racket - Incredible Essay by General Smedley Butler Machiavellism Understanding Mayberry Machiavellis Bureaucracy as a Political Coalition Bureaucratic avoidance of responsibility Bureaucratic Collectivism
Media domination strategy Fighting Russophobia Anti-Americanism Torture Politically Incorrect Humor Etc

“Control over the production and distribution of oil is the decisive factor in defining who rules whom in the Middle East.”
Christopher Hitchens, The Quotable Hitchens from Alcohol to Zionism: The Very Best of Christopher Hitchens

“Anthing that can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”
Windsor Mann, The Quotable Hitchens: From Alcohol to Zionism--The Very Best of Christopher Hitchens

The key idea heind unleashing civil war in cyria using Weapons from Libya and jihadist voluteers from several Arab countries is to reverse the geopolitical gift to Iran which Bush Iraq war created.

Installation of fundamentalist government in Syria also is in the best interests of Israel as this is by definitely a weak sectarian government that terrorizes its own population.  That's why they openly supported head choppers during Syrian civil war.  Politics make strange bedfellows: Izreal and Saudi Arabia.

Political Islam emerges are a reaction to colonialism but now it serve as a puppet of neoliberals to weaksen and destroy secular governments in Arab countries and to weaken territorial integrity of Russia.  So Russia in an indirect way is interested in preservation of secur goverment in Syria as cration of another large traning camp for jihadism is not in their best interest.

The problem is that the US elite lost people who participated in WWII who understood the consequnces of WWIII. now the US is represented by chichenhasks such as Trump, Bolton and the whole gallery of female chichenharks (which were floring in Obana administraion) such as Haley.

This generation of the US elite is idoctrinbated is the "sole super[ower" status and has difficulties to adapting to new realities when economically china will be larger then the USA in 2020 and militiary Russia is on par in some major catagories, returing the situation of mutual assured destruction (MAD) that the USA tried to destrowy (and for some suceeded in 1991-2000 due to collapse of the USSR and Yeltsin marionette government ) since Reagan.

Chemical attacks false flag as a standard method of pursuing civil war by West-connected islamists

Poisoning false flag are the  favorite tackits of British intelligence  services and it was important to Syria by MI6 supported organizations such as White Helmets.  They proved to be  perfectly suibale for Islamists barbarians (aka "head choppers")  who do not care much about human cost and can kill children and woman in cold blood to achive their goals.

One of the most interesting features of Syria civil war is the extent of the chemical attacks false flags by islamists to inflict the damage on Assad forces.  They usually resort to it when they are against the wall and need some time to recouperate of scape or surrender on more favoarabel conditions.

In this sense political Islam is a national liberation movement that "took the wrong turn on the road"  and which was co-opted by the neoliberals to serve as their geopolitical ram.  Instead of fighting Western neoliberal neo-imperialism they are helping them.

There were at least three provable false flag operation of this type


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Old News ;-)

[Jan 23, 2019] https://ejmagnier.com/2018/12/14/new-rules-of-engagement-between-syria-and-israel-as-russia-changes-its-position/].

Jan 23, 2019 | ejmagnier.com

It is rather significant that this is the first known statement by Syrian UN Representative Dr Jafaari as reported by RT [ https://www.rt.com/news/449463-syria-threatens-israel-airport/] which contains an explicit warning of military action in response to the latest Israeli attack. I have met Dr Bashar on three separate occasions and recall that in 2015 he confided to a small group of people at a social gathering that Qatari diplomats had offered him 3 million if he would split with Damascus. I found in him an honorable man of dignity and principle.

Framing his statement and warning as reckless or 'rash' ignores the interminable punishment and humiliation Syria has suffered following years of incurring hundreds of Israeli acts of aggression. Since the October War Syria fought to recapture the Golan Heights in 1973, it has not fired a single shot across the armistice lines. Israel obviously interprets restraint as weakness. Zionist military superiority does not translate to invincibility and if the conniving bully is not confronted in a manner which causes a condign level of retribution, the cumulative damage and casualties he inflicts will only rise.

Posted by: metni | Jan 22, 2019 11:13:20 PM | 49

[Jan 23, 2019] Does this means escalation ? the Syrian government threatened to strike Ben Grunion Airport if Israel violates its territory again.

Jan 23, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

metni , Jan 22, 2019 11:13:20 PM | link

@41

'RT and the Jerusalem Post report that the Syrian government threatened to strike Ben Grunion Airport if Israel violates its territory again. They also reiterated their moral and sovereign right to maintain the Golan Heights and stop their annexation. Not sure where this is headed but it looks rash and risky with all of the media pro-Israel and biased...'

Inveterate media bias cannot be an excuse for Syria to withhold from exercising legitimate sovereign right to defend Syrian territory from unrelenting attacks especially those targeting its international airport in Damascus and elsewhere. Media fealty to Israel is not about to undergo an epiphany but Jaffari's warning is overdue and consistent with the policy of engagement articulated in the E Magnier article I cited in a previous post.[ https://ejmagnier.com/2018/12/14/new-rules-of-engagement-between-syria-and-israel-as-russia-changes-its-position/]. No mater what Syria does or does not do will always to filtered through the MSM Israeli prism. IMO, Syria is long overdue in delivering on its warnings.

It is rather significant that this is the first known statement by Syrian UN Representative Dr Jafaari as reported by RT [ https://www.rt.com/news/449463-syria-threatens-israel-airport/] which contains an explicit warning of military action in response to the latest Israeli attack. I have met Dr Bashar on three separate occasions and recall that in 2015 he confided to a small group of people at a social gathering that Qatari diplomats had offered him 3 million if he would split with Damascus. I found in him an honorable man of dignity and principle.

Framing his statement and warning as reckless or 'rash' ignores the interminable punishment and humiliation Syria has suffered following years of incurring hundreds of Israeli acts of aggression. Since the October War Syria fought to recapture the Golan Heights in 1973, it has not fired a single shot across the armistice lines. Israel obviously interprets restraint as weakness. Zionist military superiority does not translate to invincibility and if the conniving bully is not confronted in a manner which causes a condign level of retribution, the cumulative damage and casualties he inflicts will only rise.

[Jan 19, 2019] Did Israel won or lost by unleashing civil war in Syria with its Washington boss and protector

Looks like when it will all shake out, the net result will not be in the favor of the US-Israel-Saudi axis. That will be the new "normalcy of some sort."
Jan 19, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
karlof1 , Jan 16, 2019 12:11:28 AM | 52

"Essentially, the Creditor Class and their allies--which have existed for several thousand years--constitute a real life Hydra that must be slain, as was recognized by the Greeks who first told the whole story."

In doing research for a dinosaur novel I'm planning to write, I was pleased to learn that the feature of the hydra sprouting multiple heads to replace each one severed wasn't part of the original myth, but was added later during the decadent stage of Greek culture. That ancient perception tallies well with the cultural-economic decadence of this collapsing civilization.

BTW I got my copy of Spirit in the Gene and look forward to reading it.

james , Jan 16, 2019 2:14:40 AM | link
@65 pyschohistorian.. that is a good personal story of yours from today.. it is an easy analogy and many people will understand it.. one person at a time maybe...
uncle tungsten , Jan 16, 2019 4:01:01 AM | link
james | Jan 16, 2019 2:14:40 AM | 67

More than one person at a time came out to hear Bernie Sanders deliver that message. There is no doubt they heard it vaguely via the US media but that was enough, they came in their tens of thousands. Such was the response that the Sanders campaign had to sometimes book bigger venues and truck in extra PA and video gear to broadcast to crowds outside.

The yankee establishment is just desperate to smash any chance of this growing a second time. Come on Bernie and Tulsi Gabbard and all those newly elected put on the yellow vest. I dare you. Millions of Americans are willing. Ditto throughout the world millions of people are waiting to mock the BS colour revolutions and have a real one.

Socialism and thoughts of socialist economic management spread like pheromones on the wind.

Gezzah Potts , Jan 16, 2019 4:39:36 AM | link
Its all like living on the film set of Alice In Wonderland while reading 1984 and Brave New World at the same time while overdosing on chocolate. Just batshit surreal, and the presstitutes keep pushing the World to the edge of the abyss in their continuous Russia and Putin bashing. And the vast majority in the West are completely oblivious to what is going on in the World, and completely oblivious to what is coming. And it will not be pleasant.
Montreal , Jan 16, 2019 5:15:56 AM | link
@57 James
Did anyone notice an article copied from the Guardian by Information Clearing House entitled "Brought to Jesus - the evangelic grip on the Trump administration"? "Pense and Pompeo both call evangelical theology a powerful motivating force". "Evangelics now see the US locked into a holy war against the forces of evil who they see embodied by Iran". It is a never-ending struggle until.... the rapture." It is a chilling read, especially when it comes to their belief in the role of Zion. Extremely dangerous because entirely irrational.
William Bowles , Jan 16, 2019 5:31:35 AM | link
Right on Uncle Tungsten!
William Bowles , Jan 16, 2019 5:32:36 AM | link
Ditto the Bush posse!
john , Jan 16, 2019 5:33:11 AM | link
Jackrabbit says:

As people discuss different versions of the dog and pony show, I tailor my point(s) accordingly

your point(s) is tailored like a condom...one size fits all.

john , Jan 16, 2019 5:49:11 AM | link
psychohistorian says:

I also want to see it [yellow vest] on the tower of london, somewhere in rome, fluttering in the Swiss alps, in china near the sacred city, in Russia, in India........

apparently you missed the fact that an anti-establishment, anti-euro(thus threatening global bond markets) government was elected here in Italy last summer, precluding the necessity for protests in the streets. for the moment you might say we're riding the avant-garde.

Yeah, Right , Jan 16, 2019 6:11:11 AM | link
@61 NemesisCalling "Saw that Blackwater founder did an interview explaining that they can also replace the role of US troops in Syria."

They would fit the definition of a Mercenary in Article 47 of the Geneva Conventions.
As such they would not be afforded the protections of Geneva Convention III.

"Fine by me, as long as the US offers no protection or no-fly-zone for them."

I believe that Prince is advocating his own private mercenary airforce to provide support for his own mercenary army. Might work as far as ground support goes, but not against SU-35 fighter jets.

So, yes, if Trump agrees to this proposal then it is inevitable that he will end up either providing a no-fly-zone for them or be accused of leaving these brave, brave boys to be slaughtered.

I would assume that the Pentagon has told him that, but I make no assumption that he is paying that advice any attention.

"Open season on all guns for hire. In Afghanistan, too."

Well, yes, that's what International Humanitarian Law says.

William Bowles , Jan 16, 2019 7:11:08 AM | link
Yeah, Right | Jan 16, 2019 6:11:11 AM | 74

Trump and Prince are old pals

ADKC , Jan 16, 2019 10:15:44 AM | link
So today we have US service men killed in Manbij and ISIS claim responsibility. It is reasonable to suspect that this is a false flag (with actual deaths) in order to create political justification for US to stay in Syria. Many commentators here view ISIS as being effectively a US proxy force.

In my view the only real evidence that the US would be leaving Syria would involve direct negotiations with the Syrian government. In this case the US could leave saving face and securing some concessions that reflect their interests. The alternative is that the US would leave with their tails between their legs being bombed out, very ignoble and looking like the withdrawal from Vietnam; it is just not plausible that the US would leave in this way.

Jackrabbit , Jan 16, 2019 10:32:49 AM | link
ADKC

Yes. What better way to demonstrate that ISIS is not defeated and the US "job" in Syria is not done.

I suspect that Trump's rhetoric will not change. He will continue to insist that he is/will 'pull out' of Syria .... it's just gonna take longer. Just how long will remain a mystery.

mauisurfer , Jan 16, 2019 10:48:00 AM | link

The Vice President's Men

Seymour M. Hersh

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v41/n02/seymour-m-hersh/the-vice-presidents-men

ADKC , Jan 16, 2019 11:01:37 AM | link
Jackrabbit @78

I see you have been accused of having a one sized fits all condom!😁

Your theory, unfairly, gets short shrift whereas ideas like "Trump is doing all the right things, but is frustrated at every turn by the deep state" is just accepted unquestioningly.

However, the Syrian withdrawal could happen and this would not necessarily be incompatible with your theory; there may be tactical reasons. Whatever, the idea that the US is just going to retreat and leave the Middle East alone is so far fetched that I am staggered that people see this as a real possibility.

Personally, I think the US have a strategy for the world based on the model they created in Congo, South America, Libya and Afganistan. All of these areas are hugely profitable for the Empire because "controlled" chaos allows cheap extraction of resources and control of the world drug trade. This is what I believe the Empire has in mind for the Middle East, everywhere along OBOR and, also, Europe (and, perhaps, the US itself?).

Don Bacon , Jan 16, 2019 11:05:00 AM | link
from Asia Times, quote:
On a mission from God: Pompeo messages evangelicals from the Middle East
The US secretary of state was communicating to an audience back home on his Middle East tour, the key Trump constituency of evangelical Christians.
In Cairo: "This trip is especially meaningful for me as an evangelical Christian, coming so soon after the Coptic Church's Christmas celebrations. This is an important time. We're all children of Abraham: Christians, Muslims, Jews. In my office, I keep a Bible open on my desk to remind me of God and His Word, and The Truth." . . here
Bob In Portland , Jan 16, 2019 11:28:02 AM | link
Trump is being prosecuted by Robert Swan Mueller III, who entire career has been him covering up and fixing cases which involved CIA criminality. Now William Barr is Trump's own choice for Attorney General. Barr spent the mid-1970s in the CIA. While there he got his degree in law, suggesting his career path was being drawn by his employer. Unsurprisingly, GHW Bush moved him along until he became Bush's AG.

Trump is either more demented than many have thought, he's in on the whole charade of his Presidency or he's in deep trouble with the Deep State. The strings all lead back to Langley.

Jackrabbit , Jan 16, 2019 11:43:33 AM | link
john @73

Discussions here and elsewhere are often centered on the theme that Trump is a populist maverick that is in conflict with the Deep State.

This MSM-infused belief is so pervasive that many regard it as a "truth" and look askance at anyone questioning this obvious reality.

But logic and reality tell a very different story:

>mauisurfer @79 links to a Seymour Hersh report that shows how the Deep State actively works to circumvent Democratic constraints.

> Obama's fake populism and Obama-era MSM narratives that supported his bullshit are instructive. Only now is the truth about Obama being discussed in MSM , and then only gingerly.

> Starting with Reagan, every President and/or VP has had, or rumored to have had, links to CIA: Bush Sr. had led the CIA; Clinton allowed CIA flights into Arkansas; Obama's grandfather/mother. Questions have also been raised about Trump - the first casino he purchase was rumored to have been involved in CIA money laundering (prior to Trump's purchase).

> Wolin, a respected Princeton University academic, described how the ruling establishment engages in "managed democracy" to retain control. A key part of that management is the money-based electoral system which ensures that no real populist is elected President.


If you enjoy the Kool-Aid then just pass over my comments.
Jackrabbit , Jan 16, 2019 11:46:35 AM | link
Bob In Portland @82

Yes! Why nominate Barr for AG? Why nominate Gina Haspel for CIA? Why bring on Bolton? These choices make no sense for a President that is supposedly at war with the Deep State.

ADKC , Jan 16, 2019 12:12:18 PM | link
Jackrabbit @84

Also, why rollover so quickly on Michael Flynn's removal? It's not as if Trump had anyone else of much value on his team! Perhaps because Flynn was a

ADKC , Jan 16, 2019 12:14:15 PM | link
@84 cont...

Perhaps because Flynn was actually going to take on those deep state vested interests?

Noirette , Jan 16, 2019 12:56:56 PM | link
Great list, b. Another. From the top of google (enter co name or part of post in goog for details.)

Afaik (please correct if), Trump tried to do biz in Russia but more or less failed or gave up or didn't get anywhere much, nothing major transpired.

"There are 517 McDonald's restaurants in Russia, 73 of which were opened in 2014. The company's total revenue for 2014 in Russia was 65.8 billion rubles.. the chain has been operating in Russia independently for 22 years."

"PepsiCo reported that in 2017, its Russian operations generated net revenue of $3.23 billion, which made up 5.1 percent of the company's total net revenue."

Apple revenues in Russia, + 23% in 2017.

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/apple-revenue-climbs-23-in-russia-in-2017--1254617

Philip Morris has good sales in Russia. Cisco Systems (idk about this, look it up.) Abbot Labs (US) sells generic drugs in Russia. Ford is still selling cars there.

The leading Chocolate co. in Russia is Mondelez (should be another topic .. )

https://www.mondelezinternational.com/about-us

Starbucks celebrated its 100 stores in Russia in 2015.

The CEOs of these cos. + their shareholders, employees, are in bed w. Russia and undermining US Democracy, interfering in people's choices, the true shining light on the hill, or what? It is collusion! They meet and deal with Russians, all the time.

Jackrabbit , Jan 16, 2019 1:03:27 PM | link
ADKC

I don't think so. Flynn was about settling scores. Flynn's candid revelation that Obama made a "wilful decision" to allow ISIS to grow was anathema.

Flynn had to be made an example of.

Jackrabbit , Jan 16, 2019 1:11:57 PM | link
Note: Flynn revelation was likely just a tip of the iceberg. It was from his agency (DIA) that Judicial Watch got the memo (via FOIA) that talked of how US allies wanted to establish a Caliphate.

These were important to understanding ISIS as a proxy force, not the grass-roots group of Jihadi hoodlums that the Obama Administration wanted us to believe. Obama infamously called ISIS al Queda's "JV team" to explain why he was essentially ignoring it's rise.

Later, the story changed to "ISIS was created by Assad." LOL.

james , Jan 16, 2019 1:12:29 PM | link
@68 uncle tungsten.. i wish you all the best trying to take back control of the gov't, or following thru on the yellow jacket demonstrations... i am with you in spirit..

@70 montreal.. something is driving these folks... some whacky evangelical fantasy sounds about right... i can't believe how easily duped people are with fundamental religion of all stripes...

@74 john.. you probably would have voted for frank zappa if he was running in the italian elections!

john , Jan 16, 2019 1:13:19 PM | link
Jackrabbit

i've never embraced the argument that Trump is a president who is at war with the deep state. i've only said that this sort of yammering is all conjecture and as such will never be sufficient grounds for proof...that it doesn't really matter anyway.

for all i know every incoming president is given a private screening of the zapruder film and the rest is left to his imagination.

i don't drink Kool-Aid, and if i passed over your comments i wouldn't know that they pretty much all say the same thing.

Jackrabbit , Jan 16, 2019 1:46:54 PM | link
john

Fair enough! But what should be done about the many people that HAVE drunk the Kool-Aid and believe the Trump vs. Deep State narrative?

I think some amount of repetition is unavoidable. Especially since the Trump vs. Deep State narrative is repeated ad nauseum by MSM and even independent bloggers (that haven't thought it through).

Montreal , Jan 16, 2019 1:51:45 PM | link
@90 James.
As someone said, history doesn't always repeat itself but sometimes rhymes....... in India, in the early nineteenth century, the British presence consisted largely of lowland Scots - evangelical Presbyterians. People like Dalhousie and Grant. They managed to combine an iron conviction in their own Godly righteousness - and duty to improve the benighted heathen - with a sincere belief that there was nothing wrong in robbing the natives blind whilst improving them. Their arrogance and greed led directly to the disaster of the First Afghan War and subsequently the First Indian War of Independence (or Indian Mutiny depending on your point of view). Maybe Presbyterian Evangelical certainty will be the American downfall as well. I do often hope so.
john , Jan 16, 2019 1:53:26 PM | link
james

lol. yeah, Franco Zappa, the man from utopia

do you know the story of when once president of Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Havel, appointed Frank as Special Ambassador to the West on Trade, Culture and Tourism , much to the chagrin of then U.S. Secretary of State, James Baker?

apparently Baker declared, 'You can do business with the United States or you can do business with Frank Zappa.'

james , Jan 16, 2019 1:57:34 PM | link
@93 montreal.. i was unaware of the specifics on the history in india as you note.. thanks for sharing that.. i just assumed it was the british empire mindset, without looking more closely at the details of it..
james , Jan 16, 2019 1:59:37 PM | link
@94 john.. lol! cool pic - man from utopia... i do recall frank getting that appointment from vaclav havel, but this is the first time i heard of james bakers response! james baker is long forgotten, but frank zappa is a cultural icon that will be remembered for a long time!
chimero , Jan 16, 2019 2:05:50 PM | link
Superbowl democracy : pick the red team or pick the blue, really doesn't matter which you do, none of the wrestling is really true, just a snare of a circus we're forced to view, where puppets pose and pretend to duel, and the House will always win...
john , Jan 16, 2019 2:15:24 PM | link
james says:

james baker is long forgotten, but frank zappa is a cultural icon that will be remembered for a long time

nicely put.

Bart Hansen , Jan 16, 2019 3:39:02 PM | link
84 - Why nominate Barr, etc.? Just remember that trump does not have "binders full" of applicants.
xLemming , Jan 16, 2019 3:46:37 PM | link
@55

Looks like someone already took a crack at Gilet Jaune Statue de la Liberté

">link

Don Bacon , Jan 15, 2019 11:19:31 PM | link

@ uncle tungsten | Jan 15, 2019 11:00:14 PM | 43

Don't just take it from me. . .

Elijah Magnier

Indeed the Levant is returning to the centre of Middle East and world attention in a stronger position than in 2011. Syria has advanced precision missiles that can hit any building in Israel. Assad also has an air defence system he would have never dreamed of before 2011 -- thanks to Israel's continuous violation of its airspace, and its defiance of Russian authority. Hezbollah has constructed bases for its long and medium range precision missiles in the mountains and has created a bond with Syria that it could never have established -- if not for the war. Iran has established a strategic brotherhood with Syria, thanks to its role in defeating the regime change plan. . . here

Alastair Crooke

NATO's support for the growth of ISIS has created a bond between Syria and Iraq that no Muslim or Baathist link could ever have created: Iraq has a "carte blanche" to bomb ISIS locations in Syria without the consent of the Syrian leadership, and the Iraqi security forces can walk into Syria anytime they see fit to fight ISIS. The anti-Israel axis has never been stronger than it is today. That is the result of 2011-2018 war imposed on Syria". . . here

Don Bacon , Jan 15, 2019 11:28:41 PM | link
@ uncle tungsten | Jan 15, 2019 11:00:14 PM | 43

And then add to that the current hectic itinerary of pompous Pompeo to explain the defeat to eight Middle East countries in eight days, highlighted by his feeble pleas to Qatar to join with Saudi Arabia against Iran. Solidity is crucial! Pompeo says, to which Qatar which shares a huge gas field with Iran gave pompous the middle finger. Another factor is the Turkey-Qatar alliance promoting the Muslim Brotherhood, anathema to the Saudi despots. This will all shake out, not to the favor of the US-Israel-Saudi axis. That will be the new "normalcy of some sort."

Circe , Jan 15, 2019 11:46:02 PM | link
First of all, if Trump is so bad with and Russia, why are you and others here always loving on him, singing his praises and defending him like he's still a naive schoolboy in short pants that the big boys are picking on?

@21 Jackrabbit

Bolton's not steering Trump into war with Iran, Trump hired Bolton so he'd have someone to blame and take the heat when he greenlights war with Iran and things go bad; which they will.

Trump was an Iran hawk from start. He's been railing against Iran since he got off the Trump Tower escalator and stepped behind the AIPAC podium.

@43 uncle tungsten

Wow, I mean wow. That's a bull's eye zinger. DB was really off the mark.

Circe , Jan 16, 2019 12:10:26 AM | link
@45 DB

Yeah, and Israel still has one of the most powerful arsenals in the world funded to the tune of $38 billion, the largest aid package to Israel in U.S. history delivered by Trump. and Israel has hundreds of nukes, still occupies Palestine and the Golan Heights, and still has the Empire's bases where it wants them, and now has the GCC in its corner all in, and Trump has delivered on so many promises already: tearing up the Iran deal, defunding aid to Palestinians, closing the Palestinians D.C. mission office, moving the U.S. Embassy and declaring Jerusalem capital of Israel, and sabotaging a Resolution at the U.N condemning settlements when he wasn't even President yet. Poor Israel, so abandoned by Trump...NOT.

karlof1 , Jan 16, 2019 12:11:28 AM | link
Jared @28--

You ask the question: "How will we ever gain control of our country."

As psychohistorian intones, private financial casinos and their ilk need to become public utilities to fund public activities and protect the resources on which they're based, while the political/philosophical change to create that paradigm metes our justice and cleans The Swamp. To discover the veracity of our prescription, one need only read Michael Hudson's works , although there're others we might also cite. Essentially, the Creditor Class and their allies--which have existed for several thousand years--constitute a real life Hydra that must be slain, as was recognized by the Greeks who first told the whole story.

Of course, the end is far easier than the road to get there. But as the polling link I provided upthread and others show, the public is roused and of greater solidarity for the first time this century. Why do ya think the Deep State's trying so hard to limit and falsify information I an overt manner!

Don Bacon , Jan 16, 2019 12:24:26 AM | link
@ Circe | Jan 16, 2019 12:10:26 AM | 51
Poor Israel, so abandoned by Trump...NOT.
I never said Israel was abandoned by Trump, so I was never "really off the mark," was I. If Trump is doing any abandoning anywhere, it's in Syria, Israel's enemy, now stronger due to Obama's mistake, one of many. Trump is a late arrival.
Jackrabbit , Jan 16, 2019 12:25:38 AM | link
Don Bacon

Aren't you getting a little ahead of yourself. US troops are still there. NY Times says the 'pull out' is expected to take 4-6 months.

How many times has US been rumored to be leaving Afghanistan?

US still has troops in Iraq! Years after Obama was forced (yes, forced) to remove the bulk of the forces in that country.

And what good is the 'pull out' if US keeps mercenaries/special forces in the country to fight with SDF? The plan seems to be retain control of Syrian territory via proxies. There is NO TALK of a hand over to SAA.

uncle tungsten , Jan 16, 2019 12:39:23 AM | link
karlof1 | Jan 16, 2019 12:11:28 AM | 52

Thanks karlof1 I will explore that Michael Hudson link it looks good from first scan.

Generally: I don't do graphics but I think a statue of liberty with a yellow vest would be a good theme for a behind the scenes 'competition' submitted via email to b (if willing) then published here for a discussion and 'vote' would be a great aid to mirth. I won't be in your revolution if I can't dance - sort of thing. Maybe its been done by now ?

karlof1 , Jan 16, 2019 12:46:00 AM | link
james @33--

I rarely harangue at US Exceptionalism like I did when I first began commenting here as it gets in the way of highlighting other points, and with me it's a priori along with its kin Manifest Destiny. It should also be observed that all Imperialist Nations share both to differing degrees and becomes part of Elite "Magic Mirror" persona--Mirror, mirror on the wall; who's the fairest of them all..."--generating the deadliest of snobbishness. When I taught, I took pains to properly explain the Outlaw US Empire's Mythos and show where it's present in everyday life--The Few; The Proud; The Marines. He's shooting the ball. (You throw the damn thing; do baseball pitchers shoot their pitch!?)

The Canadian domestic situation differs from the USA's in numerous ways, but it faces the same forces trying to keep citizens from gaining control over their destiny and that of their nation. And Canadians share much of the same negative American baggage. Both nation's citizens would benefit by knowing the true nature of their past which would aid them greatly in their current struggle.

james , Jan 16, 2019 12:53:39 AM | link
don

@43 uncle tungsten is bang on... for some reason - maybe you need to read a tao te ching verse before i say this to you! - you can't seriously believe trump has changed his fealty to israel? that is just not the reality as i see it.. the whole of the usa establishment are completely subservient to israel.. take a look at trumps daughter and son in law.. what the fuck is that?

trump is also totally down with war on iran.. why is that? was a little zionist birdie talking in his ear, or not? sure looks like 24/7 fealty to israel is spite of whatever bullshit trump is tweeting about..

james , Jan 16, 2019 12:56:35 AM | link
@56 karlof1... thanks.. i agree with you and see what you are saying... it seems though on one small level canucks are not always thinking we are the fucking greatest.. that is the one difference i would point to.. so if that isn't exceptionalism rearing it's ugly head, i don't know what to call it.. other then that - i agree with you and i suppose your point is that the concept of exceptionalism is just another distraction..
psychohistorian , Jan 16, 2019 1:01:51 AM | link
@ karlof1 with the hat tip about gaining control of "our" country....thanks.

I am with uncle tungsten with wanting to put a yellow vest on the statue of liberty and especially the dance part because I already do that twice a week. I also want to see it on the tower of london, somewhere in rome, fluttering in the Swiss alps, in china near the sacred city, in Russia, in India........you get the picture.

We are entering that cleft of time where psychohistorian is suppose to wave its magic wand and greatly reduce the time before "real change". Ok, so I did that. But that still means that others will need to play their roles as well for the change to occur. We all need to continue the zombie awakening so that when the time comes for "we the people" to make a collective "sound", it comes out as beautiful music that we can all dance to.

karlof1 , Jan 16, 2019 1:06:32 AM | link
uncle tungsten @55--

This is a good place to begin at Hudson's site as it explains a great many things about the recent past and present. I would suggest this page next . His opus, Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire ought to be in every respectable library, for which the videos here provide a bit of context. If I add another link, this might be construed as spam, so I'll also highly suggest Life & Thought: An Autobiography from last August. Enjoy!

NemesisCalling , Jan 16, 2019 1:11:16 AM | link
Saw that Blackwater founder did an interview explaining that they can also replace the role of US troops in Syria.

Fine by me, as long as the US offers no protection or no-fly-zone for them.

Remember the episode where 100+ Russian contractors were strafed fighting alongside SAA by USAF? Open season on all guns for hire. In Afghanistan, too.

uncle tungsten , Jan 16, 2019 1:24:46 AM | link
psychohistorian | Jan 16, 2019 1:01:51 AM | 59

YES!and some really good (short)5second? video to stream via whatever those social media platforms are. One on each of the religious icons of whatever would be inviting.

Je suis Gillet Jaune!! is irresistable.

james , Jan 16, 2019 1:44:10 AM | link
quote from orlov..

"The fact that what amounts to palace intrigue -- the fracas between the White House, the two houses of Congress and a ghoulish grand inquisitor named Mueller -- has taken center stage is uncannily reminiscent of various earlier political collapses, such as the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire or of the fall and the consequent beheading of Louis XVI. The fact that Trump, like the Ottoman worthies, stocks his harem with East European women, lends an eerie touch. That said, most people in the US seem blind to the nature of their overlords in a way that the French, with their Gilets Jaunes movement (just as an example) are definitely not."

https://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-five-stages-of-collapse-2019-update.html

Hem Lock , Jan 16, 2019 2:00:43 AM | link
By now everybody knows that Netanyahu asks and Trump delivers. The servility of US politicians and media to Israel is so obvious that they world laughs at the "superpower USA, that is being rough shod" by a toy shit entity called Israel. THE GREATEST TREASON OF ALL "Israel first"
psychohistorian , Jan 16, 2019 2:09:25 AM | link
@ james who quoted Orlov:
"
That said, most people in the US seem blind to the nature of their overlords in a way that the French, with their Gilets Jaunes movement (just as an example) are definitely not."
"

This is part of the elite massaging of nationalism narratives. There is still too much "frontier" in America that blind many to not feeling part of a government controlled community. I talked to a young guy today with 3 kids and living in a mobile home on property in the sticks so he doesn't have problems with neighbors and government. I think I got my message across when I pointed out that the roads he drives on to his house, the power and water he gets are forms of socialism and I just want the tools of finance to be public-minded like that.

Russ , Jan 16, 2019 2:13:40 AM | link

[Jan 15, 2019] Buchanan Is Bolton Steering Trump Into War With Iran

Jan 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

devo , 1 minute ago link

That fact Trump can be "steered into war" is disturbing.

2handband , 2 minutes ago link

This article is asinine. By the book, Bolton takes orders from Trump... not the other way around. Bolton is just being used as an excuse. Trump was never serious about getting the US out of any wars. I confidently predict that US troops will still be in Syria this time next year.

ne-tiger , 4 minutes ago link

"Was he aware of Bolton's request for a menu of targets in Iran for potential U.S. strikes? Did he authorize it? Has he authorized his national security adviser and secretary of state to engage in these hostile actions and bellicose rhetoric aimed at Iran? "

Yes, Yes and Yes, that's why he's an orange fucktard.

Taras Bulba , 12 minutes ago link

Bolton's former deputy, Mira Ricardel, reportedly told a gathering the shelling into the Green Zone was "an act of war" to which the U.S. must respond decisively.

This war mongering harpy fortunately was kicked to the curb by melania trump!

pelican , 13 minutes ago link

How did that psychopath appointed anyway? Another warmonger that hasn't served a day in the military.

MozartIII , 13 minutes ago link

Bolton can run the operation on the ground!

MozartIII , 14 minutes ago link

Send the House, Senate, FBI, CIA, IRS & all others state operatives to fight in Iran. Include the TSA for gods sake. Include the Obamas, Clintons and Bush's. So they can verify that their weapons are all delivered again and work properly. Bring our troops home to defend are border. Include NYT, WaPo and most of our current media in the Iran light brigade, so they can charge with the rest of the parasites. Many problems will be solved in very short order.

punchasocialist , 16 minutes ago link

This is another really infantile, softball article again by Buchanan.

As if Trump is anything more than an actor, and Bolton is anything more than a buffoon who has been laughed off the world stage FOREVER.

As if Trump and Bolton steer each other, instead of TAKING ORDERS from trillionaires.

resistedliving , 58 minutes ago link

You think Bolton is the new Alexander "I'm in charge now" Haig?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qarDtgSVpM

Captain Chlamydia , 22 minutes ago link

Yes he is.

I Am Jack's Macroaggression , 1 hour ago link

Obviously.

And so are Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, and Kushner, and his bankster pals.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YW4CvC5IaFI

Bolton is a traitor and agent of a foreign power. The Mouth of Netanyahu.

But Trump hired him, and Trump hasn't fired him.

Duc888 , 57 minutes ago link

Enjoy the show. Bolton has a half life of about 90 days. Can't you see a pattern when it's laid bare in front of you?

I Am Jack's Macroaggression , 40 minutes ago link

Like not having a wall, appointing neocon swamp creatures, still being in Afghanistan and Syria, and not releasing the FISAgate texts?

Like that pattern?

I... gee, I don't know.

You're right. I should prolly just ' trust the plan' like a good goy.

Thanks, newfriend!

🤨

I Am Jack's Macroaggression , 57 minutes ago link

Remarks by National Security Advisor Ambassador John Bolton to the Zionist Organization of America

JimmyJones , 27 minutes ago link

He also hasn't followed his recommendations. Perhaps he keeps him around so he knows what not to do?

Duc888 , 4 minutes ago link

He's a temporary useful idiot for Trump who will flush him at his convenience. He's handy to have around to encourage the Hawks do a group masturbation.

Seriously, if Ertogen tells Bolton to go **** off, he has no sauce. He's been neutered. Let him act all important and play in the sand box all he wants.

ted41776 , 1 hour ago link

trust the plan. there are white hats in government who have your best interest in mind. you don't need to do anything other than pretend like everything is fine, they'll take care of the rest. go to work and continue accepting continually devalued worthless fiat in exchange for time you spend away from your family and doing things you love. trust the plan, it's all going to be alright

/sarc

I Am Jack's Macroaggression , 47 minutes ago link

+ 1

Four chan , 41 minutes ago link

BOLTON IS MULLERS BUDDY, THATS ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW.

Francis Marx , 42 minutes ago link

I doubt Bolton has that much clout. Trump is no fool.

Haus-Targaryen , 42 minutes ago link

No, because the oil price to follow would blowup the US war machine.

Iran isn't going anywhere.

Erek , 38 minutes ago link

Time for Bolton to lay his **** on the anvil.

I woke up , 24 minutes ago link

Yeah, if Bolton is so enthused about it, send him first

Erek , 17 minutes ago link

And alone!

Duc888 , 3 minutes ago link

...it would be lost amongst the metal filings and swarf.

resistedliving , 16 minutes ago link

Israel uses natgas and coal

Helps their little conflict in the Tamar/Leviathan gas fields.

[Jan 14, 2019] The Push to Get Rid of Bolton by Daniel Larison

The US foreign policy generally doesn't depend on individual people. It is the Swamp which drive neolib/neocon policy which is driven mostly by the Deep State which means the coalition of MIC, Wall Street and intelligence agencies and their agents of influence within the government.
The most important question is how he managed to get into administration?
bolton is a bully and such people have no friends.
Notable quotes:
"... The National Security Advisor has had a reputation of being an abrasive and obnoxious colleague for a long time, and his attempts to push his aggressive foreign policy agenda have made him even more enemies. ..."
"... If Bolton is "under attack" from within the administration, it is because he has behaved with the same recklessness and incompetence that characterize his preferred policies overseas. He should be attacked, and with any luck he will be defeated and driven from office. Unfortunately, we have been seeing the opposite happen over the last few weeks: more Bolton allies are joining the administration in important positions and at least one major rival has exited. ..."
"... the longer he remains National Security Advisor the worse it will be for U.S. interests. ..."
Jan 14, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Henry Olsen is very worried that other people in the administration might be out to get Bolton:

Whatever the motive, conservatives who favor more robust U.S. involvement abroad should sit up and take notice. One of their strongest allies within the administration is under attack. Whether Bolton's influence wanes or even whether he remains is crucially important for anyone who worries that the president's impulses that deviate from past American foreign policy will weaken American security.

There have been a number of unflattering reports about Bolton in the last few weeks, but for the most part those stories are just proof that Bolton has no diplomatic skills and does a terrible job of managing the administration's policy process. If Bolton had done a better job of coordinating Syria policy, the administration's Syria policy wouldn't be the confused mess that it is. If he hadn't made such a hash of things with the Turkish government, there would have been no snub by Erdogan for anyone to report. There may be quite a bit of hostile leaking against Bolton, but that is itself a testament to how many other people in the administration loathe him.

The National Security Advisor has had a reputation of being an abrasive and obnoxious colleague for a long time, and his attempts to push his aggressive foreign policy agenda have made him even more enemies.

If Bolton is "under attack" from within the administration, it is because he has behaved with the same recklessness and incompetence that characterize his preferred policies overseas. He should be attacked, and with any luck he will be defeated and driven from office. Unfortunately, we have been seeing the opposite happen over the last few weeks: more Bolton allies are joining the administration in important positions and at least one major rival has exited.

Bolton's influence in the administration is an important indication of what U.S. foreign policy will look like in the months and years to come, and the longer he remains National Security Advisor the worse it will be for U.S. interests.

[Jan 14, 2019] 'A Reckless Advocate of Military Force' Demands for John Bolton's Dismissal After Reports He Asked Pentagon for Options to Str

Notable quotes:
"... By Jessica Corbett, staff writer at Common Dreams. Originally published at Common Dreams ..."
"... Wall Street Journal ..."
"... Daniel W. Drezner, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, called the news "a reminder that when it comes to Iran, John Bolton and Mike Pompeo are batshit insane ..."
"... Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), tweeted, "Make no mistake: Bolton is the greatest threat to the security of the United States!" Parsi, an expert on U.S.-Iranian relations and longtime critic of Bolton, called for his immediate ouster over the request detailed in Journal ..."
"... Bolton: Chickenhawk-in-Chief ..."
"... Great point. None of my fellow comrades who actually participated in firefights (not just drove trucks behind the lines) are eager to be led into battle by National Guard and bone-spur deferrals, much less student deferral draft dodgers. ..."
"... Why did Trump appoint Bolton? ..."
"... I think Bolton is a sop to Sheldon Aldelson. He may be playing a similar role to "The Mooch", I hope. ..."
"... Likewise, Pompeo is the Koch brother's man. Both authoritarian billionaires trying to guarantee their investment in Trump. You see the US is being run like a business, or is that like a feudal fiefdom? ..."
"... Steven Cohen has an interesting editorial in RT, not about directly about Bolton but about the war parties' demand for ongoing M.E. conflict. https://www.rt.com/op-ed/448688-trump-withdrawal-syria-russia/ ..."
"... see what we could do ..."
"... Trump is interested in what is good for Trump. Why he thinks Bolton at his side is good for him is a mystery. Rather a hand grenade with the pin pulled in your pocket than Bolton. Much the same can be said of Pompeo. ..."
"... I agree with author Nicholas Taleb's view of the military interventionists, who include Bolton, that have repeatedly urged that we "intervene in foreign countries -- Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria -- whose governments did not meet their abstract standards of political acceptability." Besides the losses suffered by our troops and economy, as Taleb observed each of those interventions "made conditions significantly worse in the country being 'saved'. Yet the interventionists pay no price themselves for wrecking the lives of millions. Instead they keep appearing on CNN and PBS as 'experts' who should guide us in choosing what country to bomb next." Now, after imposing economic sanctions on Iran, they're evidently again seeking war. ..."
Jan 14, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on January 14, 2019 by Yves Smith Yves here. I am surprised that Bolton has lasted this long. Bolton has two defining personal qualities that are not conducive to long-term survival with Trump: having a huge ego and being way too obvious about not caring about Trump's agenda (even with the difficulties of having it change all the time). Bolton is out for himself in far too obvious a manner.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer at Common Dreams. Originally published at Common Dreams

Reminding the world that he is, as one critic put it, " a reckless advocate of military force ," the Wall Street Journal revealed on Sunday that President Donald Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton "asked the Pentagon to provide the White House with military options to strike Iran last year, generating concern at the Pentagon and State Department."

"It definitely rattled people," a former U.S. official said of the request, which Bolton supposedly made after militants aligned with Iran fired mortars into the diplomatic quarter of Baghdad, Iraq that contains the U.S. Embassy in early September. "People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran."

"The Pentagon complied with the National Security Council's request to develop options for striking Iran," the Journal reported, citing unnamed officials. "But it isn't clear if the proposals were provided to the White House, whether Mr. Trump knew of the request, or whether serious plans for a U.S. strike against Iran took shape at that time."

The Journal 's report, which comes just days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered an "arrogant tirade" of a speech vilifying Iran, sparked immediate alarm among critics of the Trump administration's biggest warmongers -- who, over the past several months, have been accused of fomenting unrest in Iran and laying the groundwork for war.

Daniel W. Drezner, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, called the news "a reminder that when it comes to Iran, John Bolton and Mike Pompeo are batshit insane."

me title=

Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), tweeted, "Make no mistake: Bolton is the greatest threat to the security of the United States!" Parsi, an expert on U.S.-Iranian relations and longtime critic of Bolton, called for his immediate ouster over the request detailed in Journal 's report.

me title=

"This administration takes an expansive view of war authorities and is leaning into confrontation with Iran at a time when there are numerous tripwires for conflict across the region," NIAC president Jamal Abdi warned in a statement . "It is imperative that this Congress investigate Bolton's request for war options and pass legislation placing additional legal and political constraints on the administration's ability to start a new war of choice with Iran that could haunt America and the region for generations."

In a series of moves that have elicited concern from members of Congress, political experts, other world leaders, and peace activists, since May the Trump administration has ditched the Iran nuclear deal -- formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) -- and reimposed economic sanctions .

NIAC, in November, urged the new Congress that convened at the beginning of the year to challenge the administration's hawkish moves and restore U.S. standing on the world stage by passing measures to block the sanctions re-imposed in August and November , and reverse Trump's decision to breach the deal -- which European and Iranian diplomats have been trying to salvage .

Iran continues to comply with the terms of JCPOA, according to the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). However, Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's nuclear chief, told state television on Sunday that "preliminary activities for designing modern 20 percent (enriched uranium) fuel have begun." While Iran has maintained that it is not pursuing nuclear weapons, the nation would still have to withdraw from the deal if it resumed enrichment at the level.

As Iran signals that it is considering withdrawing from the JCPOA, the Journal report has critics worried that Bolton and Pompeo have the administration on a war path -- with Bolton, just last week, insisting without any evidence that Iranian leadership is committed to pursuing nuclear weapons. Some have compared that claim to former Vice President Dick Cheney's infamous lie in 2002, to bolster support for the U.S. invasion, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

me title=

As the Journal noted, "Alongside the requests in regards to Iran, the National Security Council asked the Pentagon to provide the White House with options to respond with strikes in Iraq and Syria as well."


The Rev Kev , January 14, 2019 at 5:55 am

So Bolton wants war with Iran? Pretty tall talk from a man who during the war in 'Nam ducked into the Maryland Army National Guard because he had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy as he considered the war in Vietnam already lost. His words, not mine. The Iranian military will not be the push over the Iraq army was. They are much better equipped and motivated and have a healthy stock of missiles. They even have the Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missile system up and running.

Once you start a war, you never know where it will go. Suppose the Iranians consider – probably correctly – that it is Israel's influences that led to the attack and so launch a few missiles at them. What happens next? Will Hezbollah take action against them as well. If the US attacks Iran, then there is no reason whatsoever for Iran not to attack the various US contingents scattered around the Middle East in places like Syria. What if the Russians send in their Aerospace Forces to help stop an attack. Will they be attacked as well? Is the US prepared to lose a carrier?

And how will the war end? The country is mountainous like Afghanistan so cannot be occupied unless the entire complete total of all US forces are shipped over there. This is just lunacy squared and surely even Trump must realize that if the whole thing is another Bay of Pigs, it will be his name all over it in the history books and so sinking his chances for a 2020 re-election. And if the justification for the whole thing is a coupla mortars on a car park, how will he justify any American loses? At this point I am waiting for Bolton to finish each one of his speeches and tweets with the phrase-

"Parthia delenda est!"

Tomonthebeach , January 14, 2019 at 2:17 pm

Bolton: Chickenhawk-in-Chief

Great point. None of my fellow comrades who actually participated in firefights (not just drove trucks behind the lines) are eager to be led into battle by National Guard and bone-spur deferrals, much less student deferral draft dodgers.

Calling Bolton on Pompeo "batshit crazy" cries out for revisions in the APA Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).

Ignim Brites , January 14, 2019 at 7:36 am

Why did Trump appoint Bolton? A saying of LBJ, I believe attributed to Sam Rayburn, might illuminate. "It is better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in."

Edward , January 14, 2019 at 8:26 am

I think Bolton is a sop to Sheldon Aldelson. He may be playing a similar role to "The Mooch", I hope.

Allegorio , January 14, 2019 at 12:49 pm

Likewise, Pompeo is the Koch brother's man. Both authoritarian billionaires trying to guarantee their investment in Trump. You see the US is being run like a business, or is that like a feudal fiefdom?

Edward , January 14, 2019 at 1:01 pm

I feel like the U.S. is an occupied country, invaded by corporate lobbyists. We have the kind of crap government you get from occupations.

Carolinian , January 14, 2019 at 8:33 am

Why did Trump appoint Bolton?

Not to be a broken record but should we blame the Dems? Arguably Trump's "out there" gestures to the right are because he has to keep the Repubs on his side given the constant threat of impeachment from the other side. Extremes beget extremes. There's also the Adelson factor.

Of course this theory may be incorrect and he and Bolton are ideological soul mates, but Trump's ideology doesn't appear to go much beyond a constant diet of Fox News. He seems quite capable of pragmatic gestures which are then denounced by a horrified press.

Lou Mannheim , January 14, 2019 at 10:11 am

"Not to be a broken record but should we blame the Dems?"

No. Despite Trump's wishes the buck stops with him.

Carolinian , January 14, 2019 at 10:27 am

... the Iran situation could have been solved years earlier by Obama and Hillary making it harder for Trump to stir up trouble.

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/iran-brazil-and-turkey-make-new-nuclear-proposal/

ChiGal in Carolina , January 14, 2019 at 11:25 am

The point might be, sure the Dems as part of the duopoly created the context within which Trump now acts as president. Nonetheless there is a direct linear responsibility for his actions that rests with him.

Unless you consider him so impaired as not to be responsible for his actions ;-)

Carolinian , January 14, 2019 at 1:54 pm

So will the buck stop with Obama/Hillary for destroying Libya, the half million dead in Syria, the covert support for the Saudis in Yemen which started under Obama, the coup in Honduras, the deterioration in US/Russia relations to the point where nuclear war has once again started to become thinkable? By these standards Trump's wrecking ball is quite tiny.

neo-realist , January 14, 2019 at 11:53 am

It's not like the Obama administration and the EU didn't strike a nuclear deal with Iran to freeze nuclear capable production and allow for lifting of sanctions -- how could they have gone further? How could its deal be worse then the saber rattling of Trump/Bolton? Not saying this as a fan of the Obama administration in general.

Bill Smith , January 14, 2019 at 2:03 pm

Pied Piper Memo. It's up in Wikileaks. Clinton campaign laid out a strategy to help Trump along so he would be their opponent. They bet that he was too far out there for the general public to vote him in as president.

Yves Smith Post author , January 14, 2019 at 2:20 pm

...Everyone including Trump was shocked he won. He has made an only partly successful hostile takeover of the Republican party. The fact that he got only at best the second string, and mainly the fourth string, to work in his Administration, Trump's repudiation of international institutions and his trade war with China are all evidence that he was chosen by anyone, much the less a cabal you create out of thin air called "the oligarchy"

As Frank Herbert said in Dune, the most enduring principles in the universe are accident and error. Trump did not want to win. This was a brand-enhancing stunt for him that got out of control.

KLG , January 14, 2019 at 7:46 am

Something for our would be Croesus and his minions: If you go to war with Persia, you will destroy a mighty empire OK, not so mighty, but an empire nevertheless.

Ben Wolf , January 14, 2019 at 8:29 am

Reminiscent of John Kerry and Susan Rice publicly demanding bombing of Syria in 2015 after Obama had taken that option off the table.

Anon , January 14, 2019 at 12:26 pm

Iran is a much more formitable foe than Syria. Bullies love to taunt the weak; Iran is not weak.

Mark James , January 14, 2019 at 8:48 am

The US has previously run multiple conventual war simulations and in all cases the US lost against Iran, only when the US used its nuclear option did the US prevail. The implications of a nuclear strike and how the Russian Federation will react, to having yet another one of its allies attacked is unknown?

Bill Smith , January 14, 2019 at 2:10 pm

Really, in all cases? Seems unlikely. What did these conventional war simulations cover? What was the definition of wining and losing?

Jeremy Grimm , January 14, 2019 at 2:36 pm

Really -- who cares? Any claim of 'all' is difficult to support under the best of circumstances and unwise. Besides, suppose we could 'prevail' in a war with Iran -- why should or would we want to? Are you OK with a little war with Iran if a couple of conventional war simulations suggest we could win?

johnnygl , January 14, 2019 at 9:07 am

Couple of quick points

1) I really hope jim webb gets the def sec job. That would be a strong signal.

2) if the TDS infected bi-partisan consensus wants to impeach. They can build on this. I suspect they won't though.

3) Keep in mind Trump like some trash talk. Pompeo seems here to stay. Not sure about Bolton. But, as we saw with N. Korea, sometimes the crazy gets dialed up to 11, right before things get calmed down.

The Rev Kev , January 14, 2019 at 9:34 am

Because that worked so well in the Balkans and Iraq and Libya, etc, etc etc. The world is not what you think it is. Let us compare Iran as a country with America's loyal ally Saudi Arabia as an example. Would you believe that Iran has a Jewish population that feel safe there and have no interest in moving to Israel? In Saudi Arabia, if you renounce Islam that is a death sentence. Women have careers in Iran and drive cars. Woman have burkas in Saudi Arabia and have very few freedoms. Iran has taken in refugees from the recent wars. Saudi Arabia has taken virtually none from Syria. Iran wants to have their own country and work out their own problems as they are a multicultural country. Saudi Arabia is a medieval monarchy that has been exporting the most extremist view of Islam around the world using their oil money. Ideologically, all those jihadists the past few decades can be traced to Wahhabi teachings. Now tell me that if you had a choice, which country sounds more attractive to live in?

Redlife2013 , January 14, 2019 at 10:46 am

Having been to Iran, it is an amazing place and they are the most welcoming of people. One of the few places I have seen female taxi drivers, too. Women are very self-assured there – they will blow past men to get to what they want to do. Lots of people don't like the Islamic government (and they will note that to you), but as you mentioned, they are NOT medieval.

The government praises science and technology in roadside ads up and down the country. The ads, by the way, are almost always in Farsi and English, as English is the 2nd language of the country. And I'd like to add that they love Americans. It didn't matter what town I was in and we went to some small towns. I literally had people yelling "We love America" and asking for my autograph. And no – I am not famous. They are the most generous, gregarious people I have ever met in my life.

I have odd memories of my trip like being in a taxi going into Tehran listening to a instrument only version of Madonna's La Isla Bonita (they really like Madonna). And going to beautiful mosques which are filled with mirrors and coloured light so it's almost like a disco (mirrors and water are ancient pre-Islamic symbols). And the gardens – in odd places like underpasses that happen to have a bit of opening to light and rain. Where ever they can stick a garden they will do it.

Iran is a hodgepodge of so many thoughts, peoples, and currents. One thing they are though – is fiercely loyal to Iran. Not the government, but to their homeland, to their people. There is no way we would win. Due to geography and due to the losses they would be willing to sustain we would be destroyed. We would lose so badly that it would look like the First Anglo-Afghan War where only one Brit got back after the entire army was destroyed. We tussle with them on their own land at our peril.

Kilgore Trout , January 14, 2019 at 10:52 am

+10

Roger , January 14, 2019 at 11:42 am

Saudi Arabia is America's loyal ally! You mean the SA that financed, planned, and manned the 9/11 attacks? Because SA is a bigger shithole than Iran is no argument. What does need to be faced is that SA has a lock on American politics through its financial control of Washington DC swamp dwellers.

The Balkans is quiet now. Iraq became a mess when Paul Bremer snatched defeat from near total victory. Libya, Syria and Ukraine are the victims of malevolent US meddling (as was Vietnam). I am hoping that President Trump can reverse course and create a foreign policy that puts the interests of people first, particularly the interests of the people of the USA. Forlorn hope perhaps. I would not want to live in either of them.

Keith Howard , January 14, 2019 at 11:02 am

How about we throw the Ayatollah Pence and the rest of his contemptible ilk out of our own government first?

Tony Wright , January 14, 2019 at 2:12 pm

Well said. All religious fundamentalists are dangerous because they believe they are the "chosen ones" and therefore superior to "non-believers", whose lives are less important and therefore expendable if and when they feel so inclined.

pjay , January 14, 2019 at 11:05 am

Re "the Iranian people":

(1) Echoing other responses, I suggest we ask the "Iranian people" if they would like the U.S. to help them into modernity. Given our track record in Iran and other ME nations, I'm not sure they would welcome our assistance, particularly if it involved "a few explosions" or so.

(2) It is "the people" that are always hurt first, and the most, in such interventions, not the government.

I wasn't sure if this was a serious comment or one meant to provoke. It did provoke me to make an earlier response. I thank the moderators for blocking it (sincerely – not being sarcastic).

Adams , January 14, 2019 at 2:05 pm

Bah, who cares about a little collateral damage. The Iranian people obviously don't know what's good for them. We just need to bring back Wolfowitz to make sure they are on hand to lay down palm fronds before the US forces as they enter Baghdad after we nuke it into rubble. Speaking of sociopaths, I am sure Darth Vader would make himself available to advise from Wyoming. Where the hell is Elliot Abrams when you need him. What's Rumsfeld doing these days? How great would it be to get the old gang together again, under the maniacal leadership of Bolton. Maybe Dubya would be willing to do the "mission accomplished" as the smoke clears over the whole MENA region. What a great bunch of guys.

Eureka Springs , January 14, 2019 at 11:54 am

You're a regular humanitarian bomber. Reminds me of "Assad must go" and the fact 'we' never bombed him but all the people, all around the nation of the ilk you pretend to want to help by doing the same thing in Iran.

At best, you are speaking a bunch of hooey without thinking. Oh, and last I heard Iran has not invaded another country for something like 400 years. Look in your mirror.

Edward , January 14, 2019 at 12:28 pm

Are the Iranian people asking us to invade their country? In the U.S. there seems to be this bizarre nonchalance about war, which used to be considered a terrible scourge. After the recent disasters in Libya, Ukraine, and Iraq, "regime change" should be discredited. The U.S. has caused nothing but misery in the third world. We should focus on our own human rights and democracy problems. If we want to do something abroad I favor ending our support for Israeli crimes against Palestinians.

lyman alpha blob , January 14, 2019 at 1:42 pm

Yeah! We can bomb those priests right into the modern world with our own fundamentalist Air Force. Murica #1

https://www.salon.com/2014/09/17/air_forces_mind_boggling_violation_members_forced_to_swear_religious_allegiance/

flora , January 14, 2019 at 9:23 am

re: Bolton asking for war plans

Steven Cohen has an interesting editorial in RT, not about directly about Bolton but about the war parties' demand for ongoing M.E. conflict. https://www.rt.com/op-ed/448688-trump-withdrawal-syria-russia/

Tony Wright , January 14, 2019 at 2:46 pm

Gotta keep the military industrial complex well fed. George Orwell was right, sadly; constant state of military alert and occasionally shifting loose alliances between three competing major military powers. What a waste of human resources.

Off The Street , January 14, 2019 at 9:48 am

IMHO, Bolton serves two roles in the Trump Administration.

  1. As a symbol for the hawkier folks in Congress and the media
  2. As a foil to Trump in a good cop-bad cop, or bad cop-worse cop role, if you prefer

The first provides air cover and the second forestalls ground action. The air cover says see what we could do , and the ground action blusters to draw attention by the media thereby serving to defuse any escalationist tendencies pushed by neo-cons.

Bolton is a price of admission, and will not have much of a purpose as the effects of the Iran sanctions become more evident and that regime becomes more pliable. The people on the ground in Iran seem to want de-escalation and more normal lives, like so many around the world and at home.

John , January 14, 2019 at 10:02 am

Trump is interested in what is good for Trump. Why he thinks Bolton at his side is good for him is a mystery. Rather a hand grenade with the pin pulled in your pocket than Bolton. Much the same can be said of Pompeo.

I have never understood the lust for war with Iran it looks entirely irrational to me. The Iranian government may not be to your taste and pursue policies you dislike in the extreme, but is this a reason to gin up a war. I could never support such a conflict and would do whatever I could to thwart it.

L , January 14, 2019 at 10:31 am

This is not news and while concerning is not fundamental.

Bolton was hired precisely because of his uberhawk obsession with Iran. That is in fact the central credential that he brought to the table and as such there should be zero surprise in this. Indeed the only real shocker is that he asked for plans rather than pulling them out of his own fevered mind as he usually does.

And as others have noted the Pentagon draws up plans like this all the time. This kind of speculative planning is a big part of what the Pentagon does and somewhere no doubt is someone who is paid to prepare for the "inevitable" war in Jamaca.

The question really is whether we will act upon these plans, or some others, and from what I read of this article that is no more likely than it was a few months ago. Scary yes but no scarier than it already was.

Mattski , January 14, 2019 at 1:03 pm

Well, what do they want us to think? Of course this is predictable–even SOP–for Bolton. But someone in the Pentagon is offering some pushback, or wants to suggest there is resistance. Or someone in the CIA. Some of these people prefer wars to quagmires, especially after an exhausting 20 years. And climbing into bed with the Saudis and Israelis to fight Iran may not appeal to everyone.

Some may even see that Iran is a much more promising place for consumer and capital growth, and implementation of bourgeois democracy, than Saudi Arabia. But Mr. Bolton might say that that's the point.

Ashburn , January 14, 2019 at 11:10 am

I think we may be closer to war with Iran than most of us care to think. Trump is under siege from multiple investigations with no room to run, the Democrats now have the House and will only intensify the pressure, Pompeo and Bolton–both Iran hawks–are now in charge of our foreign policy, and a former Boeing executive (with stock options?) is in charge of the Pentagon, Trump is also being pushed into war by Saudi Arabia and Israel–his two closest buddies–and probably the two most malign influences on US policy, and finally, our economy is beginning to look shakey, and the normal functions of government are now in shutdown. Shock doctrine holds that now is the time to act.

ChiGal in Carolina , January 14, 2019 at 11:39 am

I recall a piece by Chris Hedges and Ralph Nader posted by another commenter here that he would likely do so BEFORE the Dems took control of the House. I thought there was a lot of huffing and puffing going on, except for the likelihood of wagging the dog, a tried and true tactic of US presidents.

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/are-we-about-to-face-our-gravest-constitutional-crisis/

Harry , January 14, 2019 at 12:31 pm

Was chatting to a someone who was a junior official in the GWB administration. He suggested the first thing Bolton does when he joins an administration is request these plans. If you didn't, you wouldn't be able to take advantage of any interesting events to bomb Iran. Besides, he hasn't actually implemented them yet!

Amusingly its standard bureaucratic form to ensure you have plans on file. Otherwise when asked to list the options, how would you make sure your plan for covert opps, or democracy subsidizing/subverting payments appeared to be the most reasonable plan on the table?

Bolton is the same paleoconservative he ever was. And in that sense he is refreshing. One gets tired of seeing Israelis and Saudis make proposals for spending American lives on countless critically important projects.

Mattski , January 14, 2019 at 12:55 pm

There's also word that the US and Bolton have been giving quiet encouragement, with the new President in Brazil, for a Venezuela intervention.

I think it's important, though, not to simply characterize these people as monsters but to finger the system behind them. There was word before the election that Ms. Clinton has become chummy with Bolton and some of the other neocons; we might be looking at much the same if she had been elected.

Also, Kissinger bombed Cambodia and set off a genocide. Bolton is awful, but nothing whatsoever will make me yearn for Mr. K. I have a friend who's still unhappy with me because I turned down an invite to dine with him long ago, but I was just too frightened of what I might say in his presence.

Mattski , January 14, 2019 at 2:07 pm

We can take it for granted that they are nuts–but nuttiness is like monstrousness, not always so useful as explanation. They're also operating out of the logic of a contradictory and decaying system. The neocons are the ideological successors of the neoliberals (who liked to follow with the velvet fist rather than lead with it, but hardly eschewed it). . . the culmination of much of the same logic. Egalite and fraternite trail far behind these days.

Chauncey Gardiner , January 14, 2019 at 1:17 pm

I agree with author Nicholas Taleb's view of the military interventionists, who include Bolton, that have repeatedly urged that we "intervene in foreign countries -- Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria -- whose governments did not meet their abstract standards of political acceptability." Besides the losses suffered by our troops and economy, as Taleb observed each of those interventions "made conditions significantly worse in the country being 'saved'. Yet the interventionists pay no price themselves for wrecking the lives of millions. Instead they keep appearing on CNN and PBS as 'experts' who should guide us in choosing what country to bomb next." Now, after imposing economic sanctions on Iran, they're evidently again seeking war.

The National Security Advisor is a senior official in the executive branch. Who placed these people in charge of our nation's foreign policy and to act in our name?

There is no threat to the United States involved here. I don't recall being given the opportunity to vote on them or the policies they represent and push. It's past time these individuals be removed from positions of power and influence and for American soft power and diplomacy to be restored to preeminence. I want this country to stand for peace, freedom, equal opportunity and hope; not war, chaos, fear and death.

[Jan 13, 2019] What is wrong with Trump

Trump was elected using Adelson money. That;s probably is what is wrong with Trump.
Is Trump a Republican Obama? As in "Brain dead Dems kept saying Obama would do the right thing by the nation, that he was playing 4D chess, up till the moment he was no longer president, and in the end he was a narcisstic, self-aggrandizing politician who transferred trillions to the 0.1% and made America worse by any standard."
Notable quotes:
"... The struggle between the neocons and Trump over control of foreign policy has become ridiculous. One must remember that he can dismiss them all with the stroke of a pen, just he can dismiss his non civil service tormentors in the justice department and the FBI. ..."
"... Bolton has tried to countermand Trump's decision in Syria. His attempt and that of Jeffrey were rebuked in Ankara and DoD then announced an immediate commencement of the withdrawal. ..."
"... And yet the unholy trio of Pompeo (first in the hearts of his USMA class), Jeffrey, a career neocon hack at State, and Bolton (the mustachioed menace) are still in their jobs? Say what? ..."
"... And then there is the Great Southern Border Crisis. The Democrats have repeatedly voted for a great deal of money for barrier systems on the border. Chancy (Chuck and Nancy) were in the lead in such votes over the years. Now Nancy (who may not remember her votes) is denying Trump "a single dollar" for border barriers. ..."
"... To say that barriers are ineffective is dishonest. By now Trump knows that he can declare a national emergency and fund the barriers after however much litigation the Dems can arrange. There is ample money available for the purpose. So, why does he not do it? ..."
"... I voted for Trump. He lost me when he filled his cabinet with swamp creatures and then further when he replaced the generals with neo-cons like Bolton. You cant change the government if you don't understand how the government works - its not a real estate business that you can declare bankruptcy to make a buck. ..."
"... Brain dead Dems kept saying Obama would do the right thing by the nation, that he was playing 4D chess, up till the moment he was no longer president, and in the end he was a narcisstic, self-aggrandizing politician who transferred trillions to the 0.1% and made America worse by any standard. ..."
"... If he cared about illegal immigration, how about enforcing laws against employing illegal immigrants ..."
Jan 13, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

According to Hido, Washington's Special Representative for Syria, James Jeffrey, delivered several messages to the leadership of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) demanding them to slow down the negotiations with Damascus and promising to discuss the idea of establishing a no-fly zone over northeastern Syria.

The Kurdish political described Jeffery's messages as "disturbing" and called on the Kurdish leadership to deal with them in careful manner.

Furthermore, Hido stressed that the SDF should take a decision on the talks with the Damascus government as soon as possible and regretted that some Kurdish officials are still pinning their hopes on a possible change in the U.S. decision to withdraw from Syria .

"Talks with the Syrian government are still ongoing in a positive atmosphere," RT quoted Hido as saying.

Jeffrey made a visit to Turkey recently, where he tried to strike a deal with Ankara over northeastern Syria. However, Turkey's plans to attack US-backed Kurdish forces and invade the region hindered his efforts.

It appears to be that the SDF's only real option is the deal with Damascus as any U.S. solution would likely involve Turkey, which has demonstrated its agressive attitude towards Syrian Kurdish groups during its operation in Afrin in 2018." SF

------------

The struggle between the neocons and Trump over control of foreign policy has become ridiculous. One must remember that he can dismiss them all with the stroke of a pen, just he can dismiss his non civil service tormentors in the justice department and the FBI.

Bolton has tried to countermand Trump's decision in Syria. His attempt and that of Jeffrey were rebuked in Ankara and DoD then announced an immediate commencement of the withdrawal.

What could that have been other than a renewed presidential order to the Defense Department? And yet the unholy trio of Pompeo (first in the hearts of his USMA class), Jeffrey, a career neocon hack at State, and Bolton (the mustachioed menace) are still in their jobs? Say what?

And then there is the Great Southern Border Crisis. The Democrats have repeatedly voted for a great deal of money for barrier systems on the border. Chancy (Chuck and Nancy) were in the lead in such votes over the years. Now Nancy (who may not remember her votes) is denying Trump "a single dollar" for border barriers.

BTW, any soldier will tell you that the purpose of barriers IS NOT to stop all movement. No, it is to slow up movement and canalize it so that Quick Reaction Forces (QRF) can get there first with the most. To say that barriers are ineffective is dishonest. By now Trump knows that he can declare a national emergency and fund the barriers after however much litigation the Dems can arrange. There is ample money available for the purpose. So, why does he not do it?

On Smerconish's show today, Bob Baer, spy extraordinaire, (read his books) asserted that the various bits and pieces of circumstantial "evidence" about Trump's contacts with and attitude toward Russia, as well as those of his flunkies and relatives amount to a "good enough" case for Trump being a Russian agent of influence. That is how a HUMINT spook judges such things. It is a matter of probabilities, not hard evidence. Assets of an alien government are not always witting (understanding) of their status from the POV of the foreign government, but that does not necessarily make other than agents. Sometimes they think they are merely cooperating in a good and normal way when, in fact, the relationship is much deeper. Jane Fonda in North Vietnam would be an example.

OTOH the president is responsible for the conduct of US foreign policy and is not under an obligation to accept the perhaps hackneyed views of his subordinates. Perhaps his world view is quite different and he is not mesmerized by the group think of the Borg. If that is so ...

But, how does one explain his lack of action on the border? Does someone or some thing in Russia, Israel, the UK, his former business associates, have something really juicy on Trump, something that he fears to unleash through decisive action? pl

https://southfront.org/kurdish-politician-washington-trying-to-sabotage-talks-between-sdf-and-damascus/

Eric Newhill , a day ago

Sir, I think he's just being cautious and exhausting all other options because half of the country has been made to believe he's a dictator. He's being sensitive to that. He will act. Give it time.
ISL -> Eric Newhill , 17 hours ago
Sensitive? Cautious? Caring about Americans not in his base (whatever his base means)? Doesnt sounds like president Donald Trump the last two years. He acts more like he is confused about what the president's powers are while the wormtongues he appointed and replaces with more of the same continue to whisper in his ear.
Eric Newhill -> ISL , 10 hours ago
Contrary to all the TDS out there, maybe he prefers to do things the right way and have Congress make laws and budgets that work for all of us whether or not we all understand how.
ISL -> Eric Newhill , 3 hours ago
If that was the case, why so many signing statements (particularly since republicans control congress ). He is on target to pass Obama. who also preferred not to do things by laws. http://www.coherentbabble.c... Its just that the trend towards an imperial, unitary presidency keeps getting worse with full acquiescence of congress who suckles on the corporate money teat, under both Dems and Repubs.

I voted for Trump. He lost me when he filled his cabinet with swamp creatures and then further when he replaced the generals with neo-cons like Bolton. You cant change the government if you don't understand how the government works - its not a real estate business that you can declare bankruptcy to make a buck.

Brain dead Dems kept saying Obama would do the right thing by the nation, that he was playing 4D chess, up till the moment he was no longer president, and in the end he was a narcisstic, self-aggrandizing politician who transferred trillions to the 0.1% and made America worse by any standard.

-----
Here's a nice plot - US apprehensions comparable to 1970 when the US had a much smaller population.

ISL -> ISL , 3 hours ago
Now if Trump shut the govt down until congress did something about big pharma and the opioid crisis because Congress is in their pocket he would have my support. But then the republicans and dems would jointly impeach him to keep the money spigot flowing.

Decreasing life expectancy is what happens in the sh-tholes to use his term. If he cared about illegal immigration, how about enforcing laws against employing illegal immigrants. Don't republicans who theoretically support capitalism (as opposed to crony capitalism) understood supply and demand? (If there is a demand, then supply will meet it)

Oh, because illegal immigrants are good for the bottom line of people, like, well, Trump:

https://www.washingtonpost....

[Jan 10, 2019] How the Hawks Prevailed on Syria by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... Behind the candidate's rhetoric there never was enough strategic sense, necessary knowledge, or even caring about foreign affairs to ward off the maneuvers of a determined hawk like Bolton once he was in position to do damage. ..."
Jan 09, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Pillar comments on Bolton's maneuvers to keep us at war in Syria:

The episode involving withdrawal and non-withdrawal of U.S. troops in Syria should be a lesson for those who mistakenly placed hopes in Trump for a more restrained and less militaristic U.S. foreign policy. Applause lines on the campaign trail have been mistaken for deeper thought. Behind the candidate's rhetoric there never was enough strategic sense, necessary knowledge, or even caring about foreign affairs to ward off the maneuvers of a determined hawk like Bolton once he was in position to do damage.

If the first two years of Trump's presidency didn't already make it clear, the last few weeks should have laid to rest any suspicions that the Trump administration is going to put an end to unnecessary foreign wars. It isn't happening. For one thing, everyone around Trump doesn't want those wars to end and will go to considerable lengths to ensure that they continue. That is a result of Trump's own poor personnel choices and bad judgment. It isn't possible to have a "more restrained and less militaristic U.S. foreign policy" when the president's national security team is dominated by reflexive hawks that have never seen a military intervention they didn't want to support. Trump put Bolton in the position he now occupies, and unless he wants to start in on his fourth National Security Advisor within two years we are going to be stuck with the unfortunate consequences of that bad decision for a while longer.

Pillar writes:

The de facto reversal of Trump's withdrawal decision is a victory only for those who -- like Bolton, who still avers that the Iraq War was a good idea -- never met a U.S. military intervention in the Middle East they didn't like and never stop seeing regimes they would like to change with force.

One big problem with the Trump administration is that it is filled with the people who never met an intervention they didn't like. People like that have been the ones shaping administration policies in the region for the last two years, and on Syria they have prevailed once again. It could scarcely be otherwise when there is essentially no one willing or able to make the arguments for the other side of these issues. It is extremely difficult for hawks to lose an internal administration debate when there is no one in the administration that opposes hawkish policies.

SteveJ January 9, 2019 at 10:41 pm

I'm going to give Trump until the end of the year to get us out of these places.

If he doesn't have the backbone for it, like the previous 2 Presidents, then screw him.

[Jan 10, 2019] Chickens coming home to roost for Trump

Jan 10, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Foreign Affairs.

Middle East. Bolton had his ass kicked on this trip. The Turks made it clear that my view of them as neo-Ottomans unwilling to kow-tow to the US or anyone else is correct. The manner of Turkish dismissal of Bolton's neocon decrees was wonderfully reminiscent of an Ottoman sultan leaving envoys waiting for weeks for an audience. Now Dunford has run off to Ankara to try his luck. IMO he will not do much better. The Turks have rejected US pressure to cancel the S-400 deal with Russia and make it clear that they are going to butcher the SDF people as soon as we get out of the way. At the same time Bolton, Pompeo and Jeffrey are telling the SDF that they better not make a deal with Damascus!

They better not! This behavior is like children forming cliques in a school yard. The mere fact that only the Syrian government and its allies can save the SDF from the Turks evidently means nothing to the neocons. And, the Jordanian foreign minister made an unequivocal statement, presumably on behalf of his sovereign that under no circumstance would Jordan accept Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights, a territory undoubtedly a de jure territory of Syria. Iraq and Egypt have made similar statements.

The neocons have always made a great show of respect for a world order based on post Westphalia conceptions of state sovereignty. Their willingness to accept Israeli piracy and theft of other peoples' territory makes a mockery of that. IMO neocon policy in the ME is collapsing under its own weight of delusion. That Trump allows this indicates to me that he is compromised to some special interest and that the depth of his ignorance of the region remains appalling.

... ... ...

[Jan 09, 2019] Mattis One More General For The Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone

Jan 09, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Mattis: One More General For The "Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone"

by Tyler Durden Wed, 01/09/2019 - 21:55 20 SHARES Authored by Kelley Beaucar Vlahos via The American Conservative,

Big brass and government executives play both sides of the military revolving door, including "the only adult in the room."

Before he became lionized as the "only adult in the room" capable of standing up to President Trump, General James Mattis was quite like any other brass scoping out a lucrative second career in the defense industry. And as with other military giants parlaying their four stars into a cushy boardroom chair or executive suite, he pushed and defended a sub-par product while on both sides of the revolving door. Unfortunately for everyone involved, that contract turned out to be an expensive fraud and a potential health hazard to the troops.

According to a recent report by the Project on Government Oversight, 25 generals, nine admirals, 43 lieutenant generals, and 23 vice admirals retired to become lobbyists, board members, executives, or consultants for the defense industry between 2008 and 2018. They are part of a much larger group of 380 high-ranking government officials and congressional staff who shifted into the industry in that time.

To get a sense of the demand, according to POGO, which had to compile all of this information through Freedom of Information requests, there were 625 instances in 2018 alone in which the top 20 defense contractors (think Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin) hired senior DoD officials for high-paying jobs -- 90 percent of which could be described as "influence peddling."

Back to Mattis. In 2012, while he was head of Central Command, the Marine General pressed the Army to procure and deploy blood testing equipment from a Silicon Valley company called Theranos. He communicated that he was having success with this effort directly to Theranos's chief executive officer. Even though an Army health unit tried to terminate the contract due to it's not meeting requirements, according to POGO, Mattis kept the pressure up. Luckily, it was never used on the battlefield.

Maybe it shouldn't be a surprise but upon retirement in 2013, Mattis asked a DoD counsel about the ethics guiding future employment with Theranos. They advised against it. So Mattis went to serve on its board instead for a $100,000 salary. Two years after Mattis quit to serve as Trump's Pentagon chief in 2016, the two Theranos executives he worked with were indicted for "massive" fraud , perpetuating a "multi-million dollar scheme to defraud investors, doctors and patients," and misrepresenting their product entirely. It was a fake.

But assuming this was Mattis's only foray into the private sector would be naive. When he was tapped for defense secretary -- just three years after he left the military -- he was worth upwards of $10 million . In addition to his retirement pay, which was close to $15,000 a month at the time, he received $242,000 as a board member, plus as much as $1.2 million in stock options in General Dynamics, the Pentagon's fourth largest contractor. He also disclosed payments from other corporate boards, speech honorariums -- including $20,000 from defense heavyweight Northrop Grumman -- and a whopping $410,000 from Stanford University's public policy think tank the Hoover Institution for serving as a "distinguished visiting fellow."

Never for a moment think that Mattis won't land softly after he leaves Washington -- if he leaves at all. Given his past record, he will likely follow a very long line, as illustrated by POGO's explosive report, of DoD officials who have used their positions while inside the government to represent the biggest recipients of federal funding on the outside. They then join ex-congressional staffers and lawmakers on powerful committees who grease the skids on Capitol Hill. And then they go to work for the very companies they've helped, fleshing out a small army of executives, lobbyists, and board members with direct access to the power brokers with the purse strings back on the inside.

Welcome to the Swamp

"[Mattis's' career course] is emblematic of how systemic the problem is," said Mandy Smithberger, POGO's lead on the report and the director of its Center for Defense Information.

"Private companies know how to protect their interests. We just wish there were more protections for taxpayers."

When everything is engineered to get more business for the same select few, "when you have a Department of Defense who sees it as their job to promote arms sales does this really serve the interest of national security?"

That is something to chew on. If a system is so motivated by personal gain (civil servants always mindful of campaign contributions and private sector job prospects) on one hand, and big business profits on the other, is there room for merit or innovation? One need only look at Lockheed's F-35 joint strike fighter, the most expensive weapon system in history, which was relentlessly promoted over other programs by members of Congress and within the Pentagon despite years of test failures and cost overruns , to see what this gets you: planes that don't fly, weapons that don't work, and shortfalls in other parts of the budget that don't matter to contractors like pilot training and maintenance of existing systems.

"It comes down to two questions," Smithberger noted in an interview with TAC.

" Are we approving weapons systems that are safe or not? And are we putting [servicemembers'] lives on the line" to benefit the interests of industry?

All of this is legal, she points out. Sure, there are rules -- "cooling off" periods before government officials and members of Congress can lobby, consult, or work on contracts after they leave their federal positions, or when industry people come in through the other side to take positions in government. But Smithberger said they are "riddled with loopholes" and lack of enforcement.

Case in point: current acting DoD Secretary Patrick Shanahan spent 31 years working for Boeing , which gets about $24 billion a year as the Pentagon's second largest contractor. He was Boeing's senior vice president in 2016 just before he was confirmed as Trump's deputy secretary of defense in 2017. Last week he recused himself from all matters Boeing, but he wasn't always so hands off. At one point, he "prodded" for the purchase of 12 $1.2 billion Boeing F-15X fighter planes, according to Bloomberg.

But the revolving door is so much more pervasive and insidious than POGO could possibly catalogue. So says Franklin "Chuck" Spinney , who worked as a civilian and military officer in the Pentagon for 31 years, beginning in 1968. He calls the military industrial complex a "quasi-isolated political economy" that is in many ways independent from the larger domestic economy. It has its own rules, norms, and culture, and unlike the real world, it is self-sustaining -- not by healthy competition and efficiency, but by keeping the system on a permanent war footing, with money always pumping from Capitol Hill to the Pentagon to the private sector and then back again. Left out are basic laws of supply and demand, geopolitical realities, and the greater interest of society.

"That's why we call it a self-licking ice cream cone," Spinney explained to TAC.

" [This report] is just the tip of the iceberg. There's a lot more subtle stuff going on. When you are in weapons development like I was at the beginning of my career, you learn about this on day one, that having cozy relationships with contractors is openly encouraged. And then you get desensitized. I was fortunate because I worked for people who did not like it and I caught on quickly."

While the culture has evolved, basic realities have persisted since the massive build-up of the military and weapons systems during the Cold War. The odds of young officers in the Pentagon making colonel or higher are slim. They typically retire out in their 40s. They know implicitly that their best chance for having a well-paid second career is in the only industry they know -- defense. Most take this calculation seriously, moderating their decisions on program work and procurement and communicating with members of Congress as a matter of course.

" Let's just say there's a problem [with a program]. Are you going to come down hard on a contractor and try to hold his feet to the fire? Are you going to risk getting blackballed when you are out there looking for a job ? Sometimes there is no word communicated, you just don't want to be unacceptable to anyone," said Spinney. It's ingrained, from the rank of lieutenant colonel all the way up to general.

So the top five and their subsidiaries continue to get the vast majority of work, usually in no-bid contracts ($100 billion worth in 2016 alone) , and with cost-plus structures that critics say encourage waste and never-ending timetables, like the $1.5 trillion F-35. "The whole system is wired to get money out the door," said Spinney. "That is where the revolving door is most pernicious. It's everywhere."

The real danger is that under this pressure, parties work to keep bad contracts alive even if they have to cook the books. "Essentially from the standpoint of Pentagon contracting you are not going to have people writing reports saying this product is a piece of shit," said Spinney. Worse, evaluations are designed to deflect criticism if not oversell success in order to keep the spigot open. The most infamous example of this was the rigged tests that kept the ill-fated "Star Wars" missile defense program going in the 1980s.

* * *

Everyone talks about generals like Mattis as though they're warrior-gods. But for decades, many of them have turned out to be different creatures altogether - creatures of a semi-independent ecosystem that operates outside of the normal rules and benefits only a powerful minority subset: the military elite, defense contractors, and Congress. More recently, the defense-funded think tank world has become part of this ecology, providing the ideological grist for more spending and serving as a way-station for operators moving in and out of government and industry.

Call it the Swamp, the Borg, or even the Blob, but attempting to measure or quantify the revolving door in the military-industrial complex can feel like a fool's errand. Groups like POGO have attempted to shine light on this dark planet for years. Unfortunately, there is little incentive in Capitol Hill or at the Pentagon to do the very least: pull the purse strings, close loopholes, encourage real competition, and end cost-plus practices.

"We generally need to see more (political) championing on this issue," Smithberger said. Until then, all outside efforts "can't result in any meaningful change."


Son of Captain Nemo , 4 minutes ago link

So tell me again how "Mad Pedo" evaded Obama's axing of all the non-compliant General(s) and Admiral(s) in charge of the U.S. strategic command?!!!

Answered my own question. He's like the rest of them since the Balkans that just does counter insurgencies!...

"SUCCESS" in every direction on the weather vane you look!!!

Or... Another way of saying it.

How to build your successful U.S. military career turning $8 trillion in unfunded liability debt into $200 trillion in unfunded liability debt in less than 20 years!

Who wants to line up for that 'self help book"?!!!

MusicIsYou , 9 minutes ago link

Mattis is just another self serving cockroach in a U.S uniform.

__name___3O4jF">Realname Wild tree , 31 minutes ago link

It has nothing to do with the defense of our nation, or the unnecessary spilling of the blood of our nation.

It has everything to do with greed at the expense of our youths blood and the nations security. Follow the money.

As the light of truth shines as this article illustrates, the cockroaches scurry. Rumsfield's DoD 2 trillion missing comment the day before 9/11 comes to mind. Wonder how he knew.......

Wild tree , 31 minutes ago link

It has nothing to do with the defense of our nation, or the unnecessary spilling of the blood of our nation.

It has everything to do with greed at the expense of our youths blood and the nations security. Follow the money.

As the light of truth shines as this article illustrates, the cockroaches scurry. Rumsfield's DoD 2 trillion missing comment the day before 9/11 comes to mind. Wonder how he knew.......

hotrod , 39 minutes ago link

All this corruption in so nauseating. Yet Americans do nothing

peippe , 39 minutes ago link

These generals have been in the military a long time.

Not long enough to remember winning a real war....

Mr. Kwikky , 25 minutes ago link

It was and is never about winning, but keeping the US in perpetual war state (report from iron moutain). Cui bono? the mic

[Jan 06, 2019] Turkey Fails In Idleb, Is Unwilling To Take The Northeast

Notable quotes:
"... The neoconservatives in the Trump administration, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton and the Syria envoy James Jeffery, are scrambling to save their plans for Syria that President Trump disposed of when he ordered a complete retreat. ..."
"... Trump is certainly a 'faux populist' all right wing populists are. That is what fascism is, empty promises to the people while promoting the interests of the 1% and violently dismantling the democratic structures that might be used to control the state. ..."
"... The real wolves in sheep's clothing were the ascendance of Clinton, Blair, and the like in the early 1990s ..."
Jan 06, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Uncoy , Jan 5, 2019 2:38:46 PM | link

The neoconservatives in the Trump administration, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton and the Syria envoy James Jeffery, are scrambling to save their plans for Syria that President Trump disposed of when he ordered a complete retreat.

Those plans were for a permanent U.S. occupation of northeast Syria, the reduction of Iranian influence within the government held parts of Syria and an eventual disposal of the Syrian government under President Assad through negotiations. These were unicorn aims that had no chance to ever be achieved.

Moreover Trump had never signed off on these ideas. Back in April he had announced that he wanted U.S. troops out of Syria. He gave his staff six month to achieve that. But instead of following those orders Pompeo and Bolton tried to implement their own plans:

Late last year, some of the president's hawkish advisers drafted a memo committing the United States to a longer-term presence in Syria that included goals of an enduring defeat of the Islamic State, a political transition and the expulsion of Iran, officials said. The president has not signed the memo, which was presented to him weeks ago.

In fact, Trump had warned his aides for months that he wanted out of Syria in short order.
...
Bolton's Iran plan never really took effect at the Pentagon, where officials were not officially tasked with any new mission in addition to the operation against the Islamic State. Military officials likewise viewed Iran's expansion into Syria as problematic, but they were skeptical about the lack of a clear legal justification that would be required for offensive military action against Iranian-backed forces.

Trump recognized that those plans were nonsense and ordered to end them. In that process he came up with a likewise unicorn idea - to hand northeast Syria to Turkey to fight the already defeated Islamic State. Turkey does not want northeast Syria. It does not want to risk a bloody war against the Kurds that would be required to sustain such an occupation. It looks like the US advisors like Bolton are really circling around looking for another way to get into the fight. Air support for the Turks in an ongoing massacre might suit them. Will the Russian allow it though?

You mentioned Sykes-Picot. The whole situation reminds me of the late great Yugoslavia and the Balkan Wars. Divide everybody up by ethnicity or religion (Croats are Catholics, Serbians are Orthodox not to mention the various Muslims and Albanians lurking about) and set them at each other's throats.

Time for the Russians to remind the Americans they said they were leaving and if they don't leave now, the door will hit them on the way out. The clock is ticking.

Peter AU 1 , Jan 5, 2019 2:45:41 PM | link

The situation in Syria is coming along nicely. Kurds negotiating with Damascus, Turk proxies all out of Idlib and AQ takeover of Idlib. Much harder now for the US and UK to stand up for the 'people' of Idlib when the offensive goes ahead. Be interesting to see what the color coded map of Syria looks like at this time next year.
Ross , Jan 5, 2019 2:53:21 PM | link
With apologies to b

I know people get a bit touchy about pointing out typos, but there is a certain mordant humor to:

"Implementing the idea would lead to ethic cleansing "

When as we know the neo-con thinkophobes underwent 'ethic cleansing' a long time ago!

laguerre , Jan 5, 2019 3:05:34 PM | link
It looks like Bolton and Pompeo are making last attempts to turn things around, presumably with Netanyahu's involvement in the conspiracy. I wonder whether they, and Trump, even understood what an irreversible decision announcing the pull-out was. Once Trump had told the Kurds to piss off, they were bound to go and make a deal with Asad. I said this on here weeks ago immediately after the announcement; it was obvious. Trump telling them not to is not going to have any effect. I really don't think they understood the political consequences. There you are, the leaders of the most powerful nation on earth, and they don't even bother to consult advisors (mind you, Washington advisors are pretty idiotic too).
Jackrabbit , Jan 5, 2019 4:14:07 PM | link
I am much more skeptical.

Trump claims Mattis' resignation as a 'win' but allows Bolton to continue his neocon machinations?

Numerous MSM articles appear about Trump's standing up to the Generals: Mattis, Kelly, Dunford, etc. Yet Bolton feels free to conspire against the President's agenda?

The narrative that Trump is fighting for his campaign promises but allows Bolton and Pompeo to scheme against him is nonsensical.

<> <> <> <> <> <> <>

My view (which I've repeated numerous times at MoA) is that Trump is a faux populist . He is the Republican Obama - pretending to be a populist peacemaker while working for the establishment. The "populist hero" is a gimmick that reinforces people's belief in USA democracy and the righteousness of USA actions. The Trump/Deep-State conflict is a propaganda psy-op.

The Israeli Christmas attack was likely an attempted false flag (trying to get SAA to shoot down a civilian airliner like they did weeks before to a Russian military plane). It was likely coordinated with USA because Trump's "pull out" announcement and Mattis' resignation occurred only days before .

Trump leads the political wing of the US Deep State. They know that they don't have public support for stepped up military operations in the Middle East. But they have an agenda (anti-Iran, pro-Israel) that requires that they re-commit to ME. They need a false flag.

ADKC , Jan 5, 2019 4:37:34 PM | link
For the US to withdraw like this will prove to the region and the world that the US has been defeated and is just a paper tiger. Next, Iraq will be wanting the US to get out. Attacking Iran will become a fantasy. And this could just spread and spread.

This could well be the start of an incredible diminishment of US influence in the region (and then the rest of the world). Negotiations with Syria and Russia could mitigate at least the look of what is happening, but no effort is made in this regard.

For these reasons it just feels over-optimistic (to me) that the US will just pull-out like this.

bevin , Jan 5, 2019 4:40:54 PM | link
Trump is certainly a 'faux populist' all right wing populists are. That is what fascism is, empty promises to the people while promoting the interests of the 1% and violently dismantling the democratic structures that might be used to control the state.

Trump is all about attacking democracy, making voting tough, promoting the Courts over the legislatures, dismantling regulations and silencing critics.
We all knew that.

But the notion that it is part of a complex and tightly scripted conspiracy in which he plays his public part and the deep state play theirs, pretending to be at odds with each other, is bizarre.

There is collusion alright: all involved want to rip off the taxpayers and cram the people back into their box. But there is a genuine struggle going on within the ruling class over how best to run the scam in a changing world- whether to attack Russia and/or China, whether to settle for cheap gains in Latin America and Africa, for example, and wait until things swing in Uncle Sam's way again, whether to push the Europeans into full Cold War brinkmanship mode, whether to calm down Israel or whip it up into a frenzy...

The world's a complex place and Washington's influence is declining quickly, people are panicking. And it is all real.

Cynica , Jan 5, 2019 5:12:10 PM | link
Trump is a businessman, first and foremost. His view of the presidency is essentially being CEO of United States, Inc. His policies are aimed at removing what he sees as bad deals for the employees and shareholders of that corporation. Basically it's about profit and loss. He sees border security (building the wall) as necessary to stop the outflow of money and lives as the result of illegal immigrants. He sees businesses moving operations back to the US as necessary to reduce the US's economic dependence on the rest of the world. He sees maintaining and strengthening US military might as necessary for providing a service to the rest of the world that they will pay a fair price for. The tariffs and trade deals are also about the US being paid fair prices (in his eyes). Thus Trump is essentially mercantilist in his outlook.

Of course, a businessman is not the same thing as an economist, and Trump is no economist. He seems to focus entirely on what Frederic Bastiat called "the seen" and thus to ignore "the unseen" (i.e. the bigger picture). This is entirely in line with being a businessman. Businessmen typically concentrate on their own narrow interests. Under free enterprise, the interplay among their various narrow interests results in the common good being served regardless - but it almost goes without saying that we certainly don't live under free enterprise today.

Trump is a populist in the sense of wanting economic benefits to be enjoyed more broadly by the American people, instead of primarily benefiting an increasingly tiny elite. He doesn't seem to understand that US economic benefits are primarily the result of the US dollar being the world reserve currency (which is, of course, enforced by US military might) - or, at least, he doesn't seem to understand that his policies could well bring an end to that situation. This is why the aforementioned elite is trying to steer him away from his own policies and outright opposing him when it can't.

None of the above is a justification of Trump and his policies, just an observation.

jayc , Jan 5, 2019 5:26:59 PM | link
The real wolves in sheep's clothing were the ascendance of Clinton, Blair, and the like in the early 1990s - as the populations of the West had grown weary of the Cold War establishment and largely favoured, if not a progressive agenda, then certainly a reallocation of resources away from national security towards serious environmental issues etc. Such faux progressive figures never faced anything like the extreme pressure focussed on Trump. I certainly wouldn't endorse Trump, but he has faced the treatment one would expect for any unvetted person who approaches actual position (as with Corbyn).

The neo-cons may hold appointed office under Trump, but little of their policy initiatives gain any traction. A year ago, their plan was to move into a full military confrontation with North Korea. The propaganda trail had been well laid, and a major conference with an "allied coalition" had been set for Vancouver to unveil the strategy - but it was quietly cancelled and effectively dropped for unknown reasons. Now there is utter incoherence in Middle East strategy. The only effective foreign policy for the US right now is the hawkish stance on China, which is being lead by economic wonks not neo-cons. And this plan is running into serious complications regarding the global economy. I think the rise of Clinton and Blair heralded a generation of rather mediocre political figures whose legacy will be the abrupt decline of the Anglo-Euro geo-political position, which is being realized right now and there is indeed a sense of panic.

[Jan 04, 2019] Trump Fought For His Withdrawal For a Year by Willy B

Notable quotes:
"... Very interesting. It is understandable that Trump does not read briefings, if all he is fed is a variety of permanent war options at odds with his strategic goals. ..."
"... Trump had lunch with Lindsay Graham who has allegedly said that Trump is "reconsidering ". The Neocons haven't given up.. ..."
Jan 04, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Gareth Porter, in an article published in the American Conservative, definitively shows that Trump's Dec. 19 announcement of the US withdrawal from Syria was, in fact, the end of a fight of at least a year, between Trump on the one side and his national security team, lead by Mattis and Dunford on the other. Published accounts of the policy process over the past year "show that senior national security officials and self-interested institutions have been playing a complicated political game for months aimed at keeping Trump from wavering on our indefinite presence on the ground in Syria ," Porter writes. "The entire episode thus represents a new variant of a familiar pattern dating back to Vietnam in which national security advisors put pressure on reluctant presidents to go along with existing or proposed military deployments in a war zone . The difference here is that Trump, by publicly choosing a different policy, has blown up their transparent schemes and offered the country a new course, one that does not involve a permanent war state."

Porter cites an April 2018 Associated Press account of an NSC meeting at which Trump's impatience with his national security team boiled over. At that meeting, Trump ordered them unequivocally to accept a fundamentally different Syria deployment policy. Instead, they framed the options as a binary choice -- either an immediate pullout or an indefinite presence in order to ensure the complete and permanent defeat of Islamic State. Mattis and Dunford, Porter continues, were consciously exploiting Trump's own defensiveness about a timeline–he had attacked Obama during the 2016 campaign for imposing a timeline in Afghanistan–"to press ahead with their own strategy unless and until Trump publicly called them on it."

"The Syria withdrawal affair is a dramatic illustration of the fundamental quandary of the Trump presidency in regard to ending the state of permanent war that previous administrations created. Although a solid majority of Americans want to rein in U.S. military deployments in the Middle East and Africa, Trump's national security team is committed to doing the opposite, " Porter concludes. "Trump is now well aware that it is virtually impossible to carry out the foreign policy that he wants without advisors who are committed to the same objective. That means that he must find people who have remained outside the system during the permanent war years while being highly critical of its whole ideology and culture. If he can fill key positions with truly dissident figures, the last two years of this term in office could decisively clip the wings of the bureaucrats and generals who have created the permanent war state we find ourselves in today."

Trump has called the bluff of the permanent warfare crowd and now has his decision, but the possibility of sabotage by that crowd's assets inside the Pentagon cannot yet be discounted. This is indicated by an exclusive Reuters report claiming that planners at the Pentagon are proposing that the YPG be allowed to keep the heavy weapons that the US has supplied it with, though Reuters' sources stress that the planning is still at an early stage and nothing's been decided yet. And yet, there must be a reason why this is being reported now. It obviously would throw a monkey wrench in the arrangements that Trump is trying to make with Erdogan to keep eastern Syria stable in the wake of the US withdrawal. It would also represent a back down from US promises made earlier to the Turks to retrieve the weapons and Erdogan would throw a fit. Certainly, the idea that the U.S. military can retrieve all of the weapons that it handed over is a dubious one, at best , and there are legitimate questions about whether or not Turkish troops could really operate in the Middle Euphrates valley near the Iraqi border, hundreds of kilometers from the Turkish border.

But the key to the proposal is this: The recommendation "is a rejection of Trump's policy to withdraw from Syria," a person familiar with the discussions told Reuters. So, really, it is an attempt at sabotage.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/trump-scores-breaks-generals-50-year-war-record-syria-mattis-dunford/

https://news.yahoo.com/exclusive-u-commanders-recommend-letting-kurdish-fighters-syria-233235271.html


Barbara Ann , 6 days ago

Very interesting. It is understandable that Trump does not read briefings, if all he is fed is a variety of permanent war options at odds with his strategic goals. The Syrian war that matters is clearly now being fought within the USG and Trump has won the latest battle. As Porter says, this war will only be won if Trump can successfully replace key Borg positions with people of his own.

If the pullout can be completed without being sabotaged, Russia ought to be able to seamlessly step in guarantor of peace - and the SAG and Iraq between then can finish IS. The permanent war crowd with then just have to vent their frustrations elsewhere. A good outcome for all.

Pat Lang Mod -> Barbara Ann , 6 days ago
He was IMO suckered into taking a lot of these people because he didn't know anyone in government. His problem will be to find people not already working for the other side.
Walrus , 5 days ago
Trump had lunch with Lindsay Graham who has allegedly said that Trump is "reconsidering ". The Neocons haven't given up..
John Waddell , 5 days ago
"that the YPG be allowed to keep the heavy weapons that the US has supplied it with"

I would love to find out what those "heavy weapons" were exactly. I have been putting up comments all over the place saying that as far as I have been able to find out the US has not supplied anything with a barrel bigger than an 80mm mortar or a vehicle heavier than a MRAP. Up to now no-one has contradicted me. The reason the US did this was precisely this situation, not to upset the Turks if gear was left behind.

Am I wrong? Is this equipment now regarded as "heavy weapons"?

Taras77 , 5 days ago
I have looked as to where I might post my comment on this important site; this article seems to be the best fit for my comment on another site about the retirement of Gen Kelly and a link to an interview with Gen Kelly (I hope Col Lang will be lenient in allowing a secondary posting of my comment from another site):

__________________________________________________________

My original comment follows:

On the subject of trump this AM, zerohedge has a summary of an interview with Gen Kelly which occurred just prior to his departure-to say that it was "bone crushing hard" probably is a long way from describing the difficulty of that Chief of Staff job in a chaotic white house working for a chaotic individual.

I have just a ton of respect for Gen Kelly-even in this totally mucked up country with all of its unending flustercucks, there are individuals still willing to step up and try, emphasis on try, to restore some sanity to the situations. God speed, Gen Kelly!!

https://www.zerohedge.com/n...

English Outsider -> Taras77 , 3 days ago
Should he not have resigned earlier, or even not taken the job, if he was so opposed to his boss's policy?
Stumpy , 6 days ago
Two factors not mentioned are the SAA and support from Russia. Turkey may be somewhat off the hook for a deep thrust if Syrian forces move in and convince the YPG to stand down, by force or otherwise. As Col. Lang points out, starving the YPG of ammunition is a practical approach. If the PMU links up with Syrian forces to secure the eastern border areas, the Kurdish interests should be balanced out. My point being that the so-called vacuum left for Iran to fill is an overplayed shadow puppet.

[Jan 03, 2019] In Syria, Kurdish Fighters Face Trump Pullout, Own Mistakes

Notable quotes:
"... Turkey, which views the PKK as an existential threat, says that it will go on the offensive against fighters from the PKK and its Syrian affiliate, the YPG, in key areas of its border with Syria. ..."
"... he Assad regime will no doubt try to regain control of lands the Kurds now control. A bigger foe may be Syrian Arabs from areas formerly controlled by ISIS, who bitterly resent the Kurdish militia bossing them around. ..."
"... the U.S. military has refused to discuss PKK practices, insisting that its partner is the Syrian Democratic Forces, not the PKK or the YPG ..."
"... My overall conclusion is stark: U.S. reliance on the PKK and its Syrian affiliate has driven these militias to conscript at gunpoint and stirred ethnic tensions between Arabs and Kurds. The PKK may be sorry to see the Americans go, but a lot of Arabs are not. ..."
"... The U.S., the Brits, the French, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf kleptocracies financed and armed all of the jihadist gangs that descended on Syria after 2011, and although the Islamic State decided that it had plans of its own, the American "coalition" never tried to militarily defeat ISIS in Syria or Iraq. ISIS was still useful, to wear down the Syrian army and keep the Iraqi government off balance and dependent on the United States . ..."
"... The kurds (the pkk/ ypg ) are the US mercenaries. Just trying to divide Iraq and Syria and expand Israel. (Look at Odin Yinan plan)" ..."
"... I support the Kurds but agree that is accurate. The Kurds are playing the hand they were dealt. ..."
"... Beyond the issue of this particular situation with the Kurds, this is truly a broken record in terms of the American war machine and imperialism - yet again, regardless of what war-hungry administration has been in power for the last 200-plus years in the Oval Office our military is more than willing to side with terrorists and pathological inhumane groups for the sake of their own continued imperialism. This scenario is a dime-a-dozen story in the history of America. ..."
Jan 03, 2019 | theintercept.com

KHALIL WAS SHOPPING in the Hasakah marketplace in Syria when Kurdish military police arrested him last March. He was 19 and had papers that showed he was in high school, but that didn't matter. The Kurdish militia, which feeds troops to the U.S.-led war in Syria, was way short of volunteers. They ordered him into a minibus and drove through the northeast Syrian city, abducting others along the way.

The force that conscripted Khalil calls itself the People's Protection Units, or YPG in Kurdish. The militia it supplies calls itself the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, a mixed Kurdish-Arab formation. But conscripts quickly learn who is really in charge in the proxy war against Islamic State extremists. It's the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the Marxist guerrilla movement that's been at war with neighboring Turkey for 35 years.

Khalil's boot camp lasted six weeks, one-third of which was political indoctrination about the Kurds -- including the works of Abdullah Öcalan, founder of the PKK, which is the Kurdish acronym for the Kurdistan Workers' Party -- and the rest was weapons familiarization. His cohort was 15 Kurds and about 350 Arabs, all conscripted at gunpoint, he told me. The course was taught in Kurdish with translators for the Arabs. (Khalil, who's from Syria's Yazidi minority, speaks Kurdish).

When the training ended in May, Khalil received orders to deploy to Deir Ezzor on the frontline near an ISIS-held pocket of territory. Instead, he fled with his sister to Kurdish territory in Iraq. He was lucky, for his parents are refugees in Europe -- if his family had lived in the area, he wouldn't have been able to quit, knowing that military police would seize a brother, a cousin, or even their father in his place.

U.S. reliance on the PKK and its Syrian affiliate has driven these militias to conscript at gunpoint and stirred ethnic tensions. The PKK may be sorry to see the Americans go, but a lot of Arabs are not.

This is everyday reality for the force that the U.S. military, politicians, and pundits have lionized as the most capable and reliable ground partner the U.S. could find in Syria. It's run by a group that the State Department has declared to be terrorists; it conscripts at gunpoint and utilizes police state methods in its operations and governance that are completely antithetical to U.S. values, according to deserters interviewed by The Intercept.

This is also the force that will soon be left hanging and exposed to retribution if President Donald Trump carries out his apparently impulsive decision last week to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria as fast as possible. Turkey, which views the PKK as an existential threat, says that it will go on the offensive against fighters from the PKK and its Syrian affiliate, the YPG, in key areas of its border with Syria. ISIS may also target them, and the Assad regime will no doubt try to regain control of lands the Kurds now control. A bigger foe may be Syrian Arabs from areas formerly controlled by ISIS, who bitterly resent the Kurdish militia bossing them around.

"They are not able to do anything today," Khalil said of the Arabs who constitute the majority of the population in the provincial capital. "But if they come to power in the future, they will do everything they can against the YPG." Also, a large number of Kurds have fled north Syria rather than live under the YPG and the economic hardship of war, and more will leave with the YPG, especially in Manbij , where they've been given special privileges by the YPG.

THE U.S. MILITARY first linked up with the Kurdish militia in Syria in late 2014 when ISIS was attacking the town of Kobani, but the U.S. ground partner has not had close scrutiny until now, just as U.S. presence is about to end. In part, it's because the Kurds run what a State Department official told me is a "mini-totalitarian state," where criticism isn't allowed; in part, it's because the U.S. military has refused to discuss PKK practices, insisting that its partner is the Syrian Democratic Forces, not the PKK or the YPG. One way to circumvent this closed circuit is by seeking out deserters, who've been fleeing to territory controlled by Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government for several years. With KRG assistance, I interviewed four deserters in the northern Iraqi town of Dohuk last month. I have changed their names to protect them from PKK retribution.

My overall conclusion is stark: U.S. reliance on the PKK and its Syrian affiliate has driven these militias to conscript at gunpoint and stirred ethnic tensions between Arabs and Kurds. The PKK may be sorry to see the Americans go, but a lot of Arabs are not.

... .... ...


xochtl 2 days ago (Edited)

Haven't we seen this picture before? Soon as u.s./western powers strong-arm people who are struggling to survive and self-defend, there are suddenly allegations of "human rights violations", when it did not exist before u.s. "support"and ally development. We have them serve us as slaves doing our dirty work to pit brother against brother, and simultaneously claim moral superiority if they "misbehave" because we claim we don't do bad things. The old "divide and conquer", weaken and crumble under our thumb. centuries of practice have given us great skill in knowing how to exploit and fk-up people to our benefit.

Aside from the remaining head-hunters, Washington's only indigenous ally in Syria is an army of Marxist Kurds who were among the prime victims -- and fiercest resisters -- of the American-sponsored jihadist onslaught. For years they were tacit allies of Syria's government -- whose secularism they share -- in the struggle against the U.S.-sponsored barbarians. But Don Uncle Sam made them an offer of protection-or-else that they believed could not be refused, and the Kurds are now pawns -- as is the whole planet, in a sense -- to Washington's quandary : How does the world's sole Superpower remain in a region where it is despised, after its proxy forces have been defeated?

https://blackagendareport.com/white-lies-and-black-disbelief-fading-empire

The United States will claim it's against the Islamic State. These days, the U.S. claims everything it does in Syria and in Iraq is part of the fight against the Islamic State. But, of course, there never was a U.S. war against the Islamic State, which spread like wildfire until the Russian air force intervened in late September.

The U.S., the Brits, the French, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf kleptocracies financed and armed all of the jihadist gangs that descended on Syria after 2011, and although the Islamic State decided that it had plans of its own, the American "coalition" never tried to militarily defeat ISIS in Syria or Iraq. ISIS was still useful, to wear down the Syrian army and keep the Iraqi government off balance and dependent on the United States .

However, the Turks have their own agenda. Turkish President Recep Erdogan has staked his political life on defeating and humiliating the Kurds, in his own country and in Syria.

But, the United States has made a huge investment in acting as the "protector" of the Iraqi Kurds, in order to dismember and control Iraq, and the Americans are trying to play the same game with the Syrian Kurds . That's why the U.S. is providing air cover to some Syrian Kurdish units, while the Turks are shelling other Kurds who operate under Russian air cover, 60 miles away.

The Turks don't like the game the Americans are playing, and are threatening to invade Syria, confront the Russians, and force the U.S. to choose between Turkey, or the Kurds, or World War Three. This is a very dangerous moment for the planet. https://www.blackagendareport.com/syria_war_out_of_control

Great_White 3 days ago

The kurds (the pkk/ ypg ) are the US mercenaries. Just trying to divide Iraq and Syria and expand Israel. (Look at Odin Yinan plan) Its a US plan that creating ethnic hatred in the countries of the ME and support Israel.

DHorse 3 days ago

@Great_White I will read the links thanks they are additional sources.

"The kurds (the pkk/ ypg ) are the US mercenaries. Just trying to divide Iraq and Syria and expand Israel. (Look at Odin Yinan plan)"

I support the Kurds but agree that is accurate. The Kurds are playing the hand they were dealt. That plan though? Lacking more time I see its authenticity as irrelevant. Particularly when the behavior mimics the plan.

Global fascism seemed a higher priority and applies here as well.

Great_White 2 days ago

I strongly suggest you should believe to the plan. Let me provide you more link. https://www.haaretz.com/1.5460712

I support Turkey and hope they will clean all the US backed terrorists.. The Military industry wants war that's how they make money and expand Israel..
Happy new year mate.

Keith 4 days ago

A few things come to mind here...

1. Beyond the issue of this particular situation with the Kurds, this is truly a broken record in terms of the American war machine and imperialism - yet again, regardless of what war-hungry administration has been in power for the last 200-plus years in the Oval Office our military is more than willing to side with terrorists and pathological inhumane groups for the sake of their own continued imperialism. This scenario is a dime-a-dozen story in the history of America.

2. Without The Intercept to settle the reality here for those of us (too few) who consume it, Americans are reduced to being told by CNN and MSNBC how innocent and desperate these poor Kurdish groups are now - or even more insane - they're told by FOX how whatever the inhumane baffoon currently in the Oval Office thinks about the Kurds (he's not thinking about the Kurds) needs to be the fascist narrative for a fascist America, no matter how many times it changes.

3. Once again, this is an issue like so many others that goes beyond blaming/praising presidents of the past or present. Getting into a debate here over Hillary Clinton needs to be moved to the CNN comments section.

4. Thank-you The Intercept for an amazing 2018 of actual journalism.

[Jan 03, 2019] How the War Party Lost the Middle East by Pat Buchanan

Notable quotes:
"... Seven years and 500,000 dead Syrians later, it is Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron who are gone. Assad still rules in Damascus, and the 2,000 Americans in Syria are coming home. Soon, says President Donald Trump. ..."
Jan 03, 2019 | www.unz.com

"Assad must go, Obama says."

So read the headline in The Washington Post, Aug. 18, 2011.

The story quoted President Barack Obama directly: "The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. the time has come for President Assad to step aside."

France's Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain's David Cameron signed on to the Obama ultimatum: Assad must go!

Seven years and 500,000 dead Syrians later, it is Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron who are gone. Assad still rules in Damascus, and the 2,000 Americans in Syria are coming home. Soon, says President Donald Trump.

But we cannot "leave now," insists Sen. Lindsey Graham, or "the Kurds are going to get slaughtered."

Question: Who plunged us into a Syrian civil war, and so managed our intervention that were we to go home after seven years our enemies will be victorious and our allies will "get slaughtered"?


WorkingClass , says: January 1, 2019 at 6:05 am GMT

War profiteers. The dregs of humanity.
Realist , says: January 1, 2019 at 10:33 am GMT
Buchanan writes this article as if our government is legitimate. The fact is the important parts of our government are controlled by the elite. The important parts are any asspect of the government that can gain and maintain power and wealth for the Deep State/Elite. The petty internecine squabbles between parties or factions are of no concern to the elite and they provide confusion of the electorate and cover for the true power center.
Achmed E. Newman , says: Website January 1, 2019 at 1:10 pm GMT
That was a most excellent column and summation of the reality of American Neocon Middle Eastern foreign policy, Mr. Buchanan. This is in contrast to many columns written by supposedly conservative pundits, including yourself, in which the questions asked are "what should WE do about Mr. ____ of _____?" "Who should WE support in this or this other conflict?", etc.

No, WE need to just get the hell out of their business. We don't need to care about who's taking over which country, what minorities are getting pushed out of one portion of one shithole to another, or who's allied with whom. Just GET OUT, STAY OUT, and maybe leave a couple of diplomats earning hazard pay in a small consulate or office there for communications, the way it's supposed to be (you know your history, Pat).

BTW, I also like the headline, as the column reads that the "War Party" includes both squads of The Party, the blue and the red. I agree with this assessment.

RVBlake , says: January 1, 2019 at 3:14 pm GMT
Guess I'm behind, didn't know we had 5,000 troops still in Iraq. I though Obama pulled them out in 2011, which caused much angst and wailing from the usual suspects. The Iraqi parliament should expel us, we haven't the brains to leave on our own.
anonymous [340] Disclaimer , says: January 1, 2019 at 5:00 pm GMT
@RVBlake "Us"? "We"?

It's tough to break the habit, but Americans who still fall for this pronoun propaganda need to wake up. Identifying with the Establishment is what keeps them voting like sheep every two years, letting a Beltway fixture fret on their behalf while they await the next Most Important Election Ever.

MEexpert , says: January 1, 2019 at 5:19 pm GMT
Trump's backtracking has already started. First it was immediate pull out. Now it will take four months. A week later, it will be six months and then a year and so it will go on.
Realist , says: January 1, 2019 at 7:22 pm GMT
@RVBlake

He and the Chairman of JCS are now talking about the more "reasonable" withdrawal of American troops from Syria over a period of 4 months.

Then 4 years then 4 decades.

Anonymous [354] Disclaimer , says: January 2, 2019 at 3:20 pm GMT
@WorkingClass War and destruction is what makes our species homo rapiens so very human; war is the force that gives us meaning.

The destruction of the natural world [including incessant war] is not the result of global capitalism, industrialisation, "Western civilisation" or any flaw in human institutions. It is a consequence of the evolutionary success of an exceptionally rapacious primate. -- John Gray, STRAW DOGS

Source: War Socialism

Colin Wright , says: Website January 2, 2019 at 5:32 pm GMT
'How has all this invading, bombing and killing made the Middle East a better place or Americans more secure? '

Nu? This is only evidence of failure if one assumes making the Middle East a better place or Americans more secure was the goal in the first place.

Do all go in fear of provoking Israel's wrath? Will American largess continue to flow to her in an ever-widening and deepening stream? Has increased Islamophobia on our part and hatred of America on the part of the Muslim world helped to ensure the Forever War will indeed continue forever? Is Europe swiftly being destabilized and brought into the arena of conflict?

Like anything else, our policy should be analyzed in terms of its goals. I think it's all been a rousing success.

rok53 , says: January 3, 2019 at 12:59 am GMT
Obama and Hillary turned the middle east over to the Muslim Brotherhood.
With the exception of Syria and Egypt(military trained by Americans)
Before this Christians any homosexuals were fairly safe. Now homos are
tossed off tall buildings and Christians done away with using many methods.
tac , says: January 3, 2019 at 4:44 am GMT
@APilgrim

Who got us into this debacle?

Cui Bono . over the last 17 years of ME interventions?

Clue:

SYRIA: ISRAEL'S INVISIBLE HAND
Ry Dawson:

https://www.bitchute.com/video/qMbXJzvniqPe/

Colin Wright , says: Website January 3, 2019 at 8:44 am GMT
@RVBlake ' He and the Chairman of JCS are now talking about the more "reasonable" withdrawal of American troops from Syria over a period of 4 months.'

Israel needs to dream up and implement the appropriate black flag operation. Outraged, we will then stay.

Hence the delay. These things take time.

[Jan 03, 2019] By standard of Nuremberg trials Obama is a war criminal.

Notable quotes:
"... wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages ..."
Jan 03, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

likbez 01.03.19 at 1:54 pm 90 (no link)

The key fact about Syria situation is that Obama administration conducted criminal actions against a sovereign state.

Which by standard of Nuremberg trials makes Obama a war criminal.

Trump inherited (and actually aggravated) this mess. Two ancient Syrian cities were wiped from the face of the Earth by US strikes ("wanton destruction of cities" is a war crime). The US forces operated in Syria outside any norm of international law.

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

Principle VI

The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:

(a) Crimes against peace:(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).

(b) War crimes:Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory; murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the Seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.

(c) Crimes against humanity: Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhumane acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.

likbez 01.03.19 at 2:12 pm ( 91 )

From Pat Buchanan
http://www.unz.com/pbuchanan/how-the-war-party-lost-the-middle-east/

"Assad must go, Obama says."

So read the headline in The Washington Post, Aug. 18, 2011.

The story quoted President Barack Obama directly:

"The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. the time has come for President Assad to step aside."

France's Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain's David Cameron signed on to the Obama ultimatum: Assad must go!

Seven years and 500,000 dead Syrians later, it is Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron who are gone. Assad still rules in Damascus, and the 2,000 Americans in Syria are coming home. Soon, says President Donald Trump.

But we cannot "leave now," insists Sen. Lindsey Graham, or "the Kurds are going to get slaughtered."

Question: Who plunged us into a Syrian civil war, and so managed our intervention that were we to go home after seven years our enemies will be victorious and our allies will "get slaughtered"?

[Jan 03, 2019] Most Americans are simply struck dumb by the horror of recognizing that American foreign policy was conducted by and for self-interested sociopaths long before Trump came along

Not all neocons are sociopaths. most are simply MIC lobbyists, kind of intellectual prostitutes.
Notable quotes:
"... U.S. foreign policy has always been subject to hijack by interested parties. There are not strong institutions in the U.S. that could define and discipline the pursuit of a foreign policy focused an American public interest. ..."
"... the majority of intellectuals in the American (and British, and Australasian) intellectual elite (be they 'liberal' or 'conservative') are intellectually and emotionally committed to the continuance of American (and Western, more generally) imperialism. But we knew that anyway. ..."
"... Does anyone care that many legal experts – regardless of how evil Assad or Isis was and is – think sending troops into Syria was illegal, given that Congress never debated or approved sending troops there? Should we fight in Syria forever, just because Russia also thinks we should leave? What percentage of the American public even knew to begin with over 2,000 troops have been on the ground in Syria occupying a third of the country for years? ..."
"... Maybe if Congress has not used the last decade to totally abdicate its constitutional responsibility to debate and approve of wars the US is involved in, and if they were actually up front to the American people about the extreme costs of fighting yet another war, they would have a leg to stand on. But their stance seems to now be: we only get upset when troops get to come home without our approval, not when they are deployed in yet another war zone. ..."
"... there is no pt having illusions about the degree to which the current Iranian govt is meeting the aspirations/needs of most of its pop. (not well, from the admittedly limited amt I follow this) or the degree to which Iran's foreign policy is promoting anything resembling regional peace, "stability," and "security." ..."
"... Bourgeois nationalism may be outmoded but replacing it with Islamic State is simply obscene. That's why the sometime tacit US support for IS is criminal. Yes, it is quite likely that the US will covertly assist a revival of ISIS. ..."
Jan 03, 2019 | crookedtimber.org

bruce wilder 12.22.18 at 4:46 am (no link)

Whether acting for good or ill, the history of US involvement in the Middle East has been one of consistent failure at least for the last 40 years.

Cui bono?

U.S. foreign policy has always been subject to hijack by interested parties. There are not strong institutions in the U.S. that could define and discipline the pursuit of a foreign policy focused an American public interest.

And, unfortunately, few critics are willing to come out plainly calling this what it is, deep corruption. Most Americans are simply struck dumb by the horror of recognizing that American foreign policy was conducted by and for self-interested sociopaths long before Trump came along. As a people, we are not willing to even acknowledge that Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger down to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were war criminals. I proposed to a group of well-informed observers of foreign policy once that Colin Powell had ended his career shaming his country by lying to the Security Council about the gravest matters and ought to be shunned from polite company. They looked at me like I was insane. We were lied into Vietnam and we were lied into Iraq. I guess it is some credit to us as a people that they feel the need to tell lies that appeal to our better impulses, but why don't our better impulses extend to punish the liars and the sociopaths?

Hidari 12.22.18 at 10:58 am (no link)
If anyone cares, here's a link to an article by one of the few Western journalists who actually knows what he is talking about: Patrick Cockburn. Worth reading.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/donald-trump-syria-russia-foreign-policy-jim-mattis-kurds-vladimir-putin-saudi-arabia-a8694881.html

@3 'Trump folded or traded. If a trade what did he trade, if he folded, why?'

The answer, sadly, is not difficult to discover. There are 2 million Kurds. There are 80 million Turks. Turkey (under Erdogan) is increasingly an economic powerhouse. 'Kurdistan', insofar as it exists .isn't. Trump is a businessman first, and a politician second. What more do you need to know?

A few other things that need to be pointed out: despite the fact that liberals have (correctly) been screaming that Trump is a liar since he became President, everyone seems to be acting as if Trump is now telling the truth and this 'withdrawal' will actually happen. Of course, it might. But equally it might not. What progressives need to be particularly careful of are 'withdrawals' that aren't. E.g. how many American 'special forces' will be left in Syria? How many 'advisers'? How many mercenaries working for American companies like Blackwater? And so on.

In any case, the idea that there will be a long term withdrawal from Syria seems unlikely. As a number of commentators above have pointed out, presumably, in the next 5 years or so, Turkey (which is still a 'US aligned' power, although relations have been strained recently) will invade Syria/Kurdistan. Thus bringing the area back under (de facto) American control, although of course, the Turks are unlikely to stay for prolonged periods of time. But the threat of another Turkish invasion may well work to keep the Kurds 'on message', put paid to their 'revolutionary idealism' and stop them having silly ideas about spreading their new socialist/anarchist polity to other countries.

In any case, as other commentators (not on this thread, but on Democracy Now and other, so-called 'alternative' media) have also pointed out, this 'withdrawal' may well mean 'amping up' the 'drone war' (the 'liberal' media has barely reported this, but Trump has significantly increased and expanded Obama's 'drone campaign', especially, of course, in Arab countries).

Moreover, Syria remains a victim of Obama's/Trump's sanctions (sanctions by states always, of course, being a weapon of war).

So it seems unlikely that Trump will genuinely allow Syria to pursue a genuinely independent foreign or domestic policy. Of course the idea that Trump (and the West generally) should formally apologise and pay reparations to the Syrian people for the chaos they have helped to inflict in Syria remains an idea from science fiction.

This is not to argue against the position of the OP, which merely points out that the majority of intellectuals in the American (and British, and Australasian) intellectual elite (be they 'liberal' or 'conservative') are intellectually and emotionally committed to the continuance of American (and Western, more generally) imperialism. But we knew that anyway.

john c. halasz 12.22.18 at 8:11 pm (no link)
christian h. @8:

I find it hard to fathom how any leftist could conclude that the Assad regime is the worst evil in the Syrian civil war, let alone imply that U.S. forces should have conducted a regime change illegally. While, in fact ,the U.S. and its unsavory allies have poured $10's bn worth of weapons into the conflict arming jihadi extremists and prolonging the agony, not to mention the vast hoard of weapons the U.S. gifted to IS due to the collapse of the Iraqi army that was supposed to defend Mosul

As to what is likely to happen if U.S. forces are really withdrawn completely, the Kurds, who have been betrayed repeatedly by the U.S. before, would have to make a deal with the Assad gov. and the Russians would then forestall any Turkish invasion. That offer was made in the case of Afrin province and the Kurds foolishly rejected it. (Putin's aim clearly has been to get the U.S. out of Syrian, where their presence is illegal anyway and re-unify the country.) But thus far the Kurdish delegation recently sent to Damascus has stuck to their maximalist demands. Vut if they fail to make a deal and Turkey does invade, the Turks will only seek to occupy a 10 mile strip alone the border. An attempt to occupy all of Syrian Kurdish territory would take 100,000's of troops and result in huge Turkish casualties, as the Kurds among others would resist fiercely and asymmetrically.

novakant 12.22.18 at 8:28 pm (no link)
Trevor Timm makes good points here:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/21/trump-syria-withdrawal-us-troops

Does anyone care that many legal experts – regardless of how evil Assad or Isis was and is – think sending troops into Syria was illegal, given that Congress never debated or approved sending troops there? Should we fight in Syria forever, just because Russia also thinks we should leave? What percentage of the American public even knew to begin with over 2,000 troops have been on the ground in Syria occupying a third of the country for years?

Maybe if Congress has not used the last decade to totally abdicate its constitutional responsibility to debate and approve of wars the US is involved in, and if they were actually up front to the American people about the extreme costs of fighting yet another war, they would have a leg to stand on. But their stance seems to now be: we only get upset when troops get to come home without our approval, not when they are deployed in yet another war zone.

I agree with this, but also think there's a responsibility to minimize the fallout.

Much more important than all this is ending the war in Yemen, though.

bak 12.22.18 at 8:35 pm ( 23 )
Hidari @10 But the threat of another Turkish invasion may well work to keep the Kurds 'on message', put paid to their 'revolutionary idealism' and stop them having silly ideas about spreading their new socialist/anarchist polity to other countries."

Funny business how long (100+ years) those setting up exclusionary ethno-nationalist "homelands" (that seamlessly morph into armed to the teeth ethnostates once their imperial patron signs on to their project) have been conning ignorant Westerners with fantasies of egalitarian/anarchist utopian communities:

https://web.archive.org/web/20110613133745/http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/the_receiving_end_of_our_dreams

David Graeber, resident anarchist at BBC, seems to have fallen hard for fairy tales of formerly cult-of-personality based Marxist-Leninists (esp. comely women in fatigues brandishing AK-47s) who now spout soundbites upon request from the playbook of Murray Bookchin's "social ecology":

https://www.voanews.com/a/writings-of-obscure-american-leftist-drive-kurdish-forces-to-syria/3678233.html

LFC 12.22.18 at 8:56 pm ( 24 )
1) David L. @6 says that most of Iran's foreign-policy goals are aligned w the US's. I don't think so. That doesn't mean the US shd be so close to Saudi Arabia (it definitely shouldn't), but I don't think either the character of the Iranian domestic system or most of Iran's regional activities are things the US shd be aligning with. Trump shd not have withdrawn from the nuclear deal, but beyond that there is no pt having illusions about the degree to which the current Iranian govt is meeting the aspirations/needs of most of its pop. (not well, from the admittedly limited amt I follow this) or the degree to which Iran's foreign policy is promoting anything resembling regional peace, "stability," and "security."

2) The OP says that the First Gulf War "created" Al Qaeda. No: Al Qaeda was created in 1988, before the first Gulf War; a formal organizational meeting was held August 1988 in Peshawar. (Source: Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower , pp. 150ff.) The aftermath(s) of the first Gulf War, notably the stationing of more US soldiers in SA, strengthened Al Qaeda by putting another significant item on its list of grievances, but the first Gulf War did not create it.

TM 12.22.18 at 9:31 pm ( 25 )
"There are 2 million Kurds. There are 80 million Turks."

The question what is Kurd and how many Kurds are there is highly contentious but realistic estimates put the number at 20 to 40 million. For that reason alone, the Kurdish question isn't likely to be going anywhere.

As to the OP, it is puzzling. Turning against one of very few progressive secular forces in the Middle East while increasing support for the anti-secular Saudi and Turkish autocracies is far from my definition of "getting it half right". And whatever the reason, sudden and unpredictable changes in foreign policy are not to be taken lightly. That US foreign policy is a mess is easy to agree to. But it doesn't follow that any partial change of course is a move in the right direction.

Gregory J. McKenzie 12.22.18 at 10:23 pm ( 26 )
Once the dogs of war are unleashed anywhere it becomes difficult to chain them up again. Poor Syria has a civil war that has been hijacked by regional powers. One less superpower dropping bombs is a good thing for such an oppressed population.
Tom Hurka 12.23.18 at 12:00 am ( 27 )
JQ: "The first Gulf War looked like a success at the time, but created both Al Qaeda and the conditions for the disastrous second war."

1. Are you saying the second war was inevitable given the first, so Bush II had no choice? He had lots of choice. He could easily have avoided the second war, or managed the occupation that followed less utterly incompetently (Paul Bremer, anyone?).

2. I'd be interested to hear how the Middle East would have been all peace and harmony if Saddam had been left in occupation of Kuwait. No dangers whatever there!

Lots of failures in US Middle East policy, sure, but you're stretching on this one. And on Israel-Palestine, how much of the ultimate failure of the Clinton Camp David effort was due to US and how much to the Israelis and Palestinians?

Peter T 12.23.18 at 1:01 am (no link)
Cranky Observer (and others)

As the largest single agglomeration of power on the planet, the US cannot hope to escape influence or manipulation – everyone wants to tap into and use US power (economic, military or cultural). Just by existing it exerts a distorting force. So the question is not whether but how it acts, and to what purposes. The US has more choices than "bomb" or "leave". It has locked itself into a set of incoherent, contradictory policies (oppose terrorism but support Saudi Arabia, fight al-Qaeda/ISIS but replace Assad, enable Israeli expansion but deplore the results, fight the Taliban but support Pakistan and oppose Iran ). This is not a new story – the same could be said of US policy in SE Asia from the 50s through to the 80s, which saw the US end up in bed with the Khmer Rouge.

A coherent policy would decide on a small set of achievable aims and then stick to them. If defeating ISIS is the key aim, then Assad and Iran are on the US side, and Saudi an obstacle (this does not mean alliance or enmity – it means avoiding hostility on the one hand, and making clear the limits of support on the other). A deal whereby Damascus regains formal control of the north-east in return for some level of Kurdish autonomy is probably do-able, and would at least avoid another round of ethnic cleansing/guerilla war and the prospect of an ISIS revival or an Islamist pocket under Turkish protection.

novakant 12.23.18 at 2:58 pm (no link)
there is no pt having illusions about the degree to which the current Iranian govt is meeting the aspirations/needs of most of its pop. (not well, from the admittedly limited amt I follow this) or the degree to which Iran's foreign policy is promoting anything resembling regional peace, "stability," and "security."

If you're really concerned about the needs and aspirations of the Iranian population you should lift all sanctions immediately and bring the country back into the international community. Iran has been under sanctions and ostracized for nearly 30 years for no good reason except US spitefulness and the people have suffered greatly as a result (and I'm leaving out the Iran-Iraq war for reasons of brevity).

The regime is a bit shit, but they're rational actors and the Iranian people can very well figure out the way ahead themselves without hypocritical Westerners shedding crocodile tears over human rights abuses.

And it takes some chutzpah for an American (or a Brit) to accuse Iran of insufficiently promoting regional peace, "stability," and "security", after all the havoc the US/UK has wrought in the Middle East over the past century – are fucking serious?

steven t johnson 12.23.18 at 3:07 pm ( 35 )
Trump may be withdrawing from Syria in the same way he made peace with North Korea.

Al-Qaeda was a product of the war against the socialist government in Kabul. US support for their sectarian war provoked Soviet intervention, just as Brzezinsky hoped.

Saddam Hussein's seizure of Kuwait was a consequence of his defeat in the war with Iran, which left his finances in shambles. It's not clear the continued existence of another "oil company with a flag" is a blessing to humanity.

Islamic State began as ISIL or ISIS in the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq. This is not an accident. The US deliberately divvied up Iraq on sectarian lines.

Bashar Assad is terrible, just like his father. But Bashar Assad does stand for a secular national state. The Louis Proyect-type socialists who want sectarian ethnic cleansing and possibly genocide of the Alawite base they say is Assad's only support seem hell-bent on demonstrating there *can* be social-fascism. Bourgeois nationalism may be outmoded but replacing it with Islamic State is simply obscene. That's why the sometime tacit US support for IS is criminal. Yes, it is quite likely that the US will covertly assist a revival of ISIS. This is why it is premature to claim Trump is half-right I think.

Erdogan has been engaged in the Zia-fication of Turkey. Like Pakistan, the end result will be a nightmare society. The US simply withdrawing is not making peace with Damascus. Therefore this is giving Erdogan a greenlight. Partition of Syria and/or endless war has been an acceptable goal for the US at all times.

... ... ...

Hidari 12.24.18 at 4:49 pm (no link)
To all those who have ('dialectically', one might say) decided, on the basis of very little evidence, that a drawback of US power will somehow make a situation (any situation) worse .

one should always remember that there are very few, if any, geopolitical situations on planet Earth which would not be radically improved by following the simple injunction 'Yankee Go Home' (as well as following the order of its, so to speak, semantic cousin, 'Brits out').

The problem is that Trump's ramblings are unlikely to presage anything of the sort happening. The Americans arrive, but they rarely leave. Ask the Japanese about that.

But in the highly unlikely event that Trump is telling the truth, this would be a wholly and unarguably positive development in the region. Which, I think, was the point of the OP.

David L. 12.25.18 at 7:41 am ( 44 )
"Ask the Japanese about that."

Hmm. I get the impression that the Japanese overall are not unhappy about the US presence and are generally pretty pro-American. The Okinawans would like less of the burden falling on them, but between the LDP being heavy-handed, insensitive, and in complete power, and NIMBY-ism being strong everywhere in Japan, this problem isn't getting fixed any time soon. For a while, a lot of the Japanese were of the opinion that Obama was to blame for North Korea's nuclear craziness (or for not doing anything about said craziness), and thought The Orange Monster was fixing the problem. They seem to have figured out that hoping for good work from said monster isn't a good idea, though.

Anyway, US policy in Syria was dizzy from the start. We don't like Assad, but failed to notice that the opposition quickly became Salafi jihadists friendly to ISIS, al Qaida and the like. When we finally figured that latter bit out, we (including lots of lefty commentators, sigh) were still committed to being anti-Assad. Stupid. Beyond. Words.

abd 12.26.18 at 4:53 am ( 45 )
Hidari @23. But in the highly unlikely event that Trump is telling the truth, this would be a wholly and unarguably positive development in the region.

I'm reminded of a book that didn't receive much attention when it came out 10 years ago, but which was written by a man who had a penchant for unsentimental analysis (of the Soviet Union, but then to the consternation of some he turned those analytic tools upon his country of birth after the former disappeared):

In general, Hough argues, Republican Administrations during the Cold War were more open to the détente policies favored by the German-American component of their constituency, while Democratic presidents were more aggressively anti-Communist: Truman in Korea, Kennedy planting missiles in Turkey, invading Cuba and sending US troops to Vietnam, while Nixon negotiated with Mao and Reagan with Gorbachev. He admits that the picture is blurred, however, by the fact that each side compensates by proclaiming an ideological stance that is the opposite of its actions.

A former British diplomat concurs that what Trump just announced would have been inconceivable under a Hillary (or for that matter, almost any postwar Democratic) administration:

I have written before that Trump may be a rotten President for Americans, but at least he has not initiated a major war; and I am quite sure Hillary would have done by now. For a non-American, the choice between Hillary and Trump ended up in balancing on one side of the scale the evil of millions more killed and maimed in the Middle East and the launching of a full on, unreserved new Cold War, against on the other side of the scale poorer Americans having very bad healthcare and social provision and America adopting racist immigration policies. I do hope that the neo-con barrage today arguing for more American troops in the Middle East, will help people remember just how very unattractive also is the Hillary side of the equation.

Peter T 12.26.18 at 7:15 am ( 46 )
The US had at least two policies in Syria. One was conducted by the CIA in alliance with the Gulf State, using ex-East European arms stocks, which aimed to overthrow Assad. This worked with various Islamist groups, including some explicitly tied to al-qaeda. The other was run by Defense, and worked with the PKK against ISIS. State ran around providing diplomatic cover, and also fostered talking shops for the miniscule and ineffectual "moderate opposition".

The first was quietly wound down under Obama. While Hillary's job at State was to provide the talking points, there is no reason to believe that she opposed Obama's policy of withdrawal. Trump has, if anything, stepped up the rhetoric against Assad and also loosened the restrictions on Defense, resulting in more civilian casualties. The Defense effort was always on borrowed time, in that the rationale disappeared with victory over ISIS, and it had to operate against Turkish pressure.

On my point about others seeking to use US power – the US' system of dispersed governance provides multiple entry points for outside influence (foreign relations committees and staff, different arms of the administration, influential outsiders – see China Lobby, the career of Ahmad Chalabi, the MEK, the Israeli grip, the Saudi nexus ). So foreign entanglements are a fact of life, short of wholesale reform of the US state. Isolation was possible when the US was a bit player; it's not now.

Dipper 12.26.18 at 1:56 pm ( 47 )
All these nations and groupings intervening, what are their tag-lines?

By which I mean the British Empire stated it brought for "Christianity, Commerce, and Civilisation", and the American post-war hegemony brought "Freedom and Democracy". We can argue lots about how much they stood by their slogans, but nevertheless these slogans gave the nations that were being brought under control a sense of what, nominally, they were entitled to. But what of other participants? What is Russia's tag-line when it intervenes in the middle east? For that matter, what is China's tag-line when it buys up influence all over the world? What is Saudi Arabia's tag line? What do these nations stand for?

Hidari 12.26.18 at 3:12 pm ( 48 )
@45
My only point is to remind everyone of the Americans' long tradition of withdrawals that aren't. Remember, it was Obama who first 'withdrew' from Iraq, in December 2011 (December being a popular time for 'withdrawals' apparently) before 'unwithdrawing' in 2014 because of the 'threat' of ISIS, which 'required' American troops to fight it .and American troops continue to fight (and die) in Iraq to this day.

Stephen Gowans has written a book entitled 'Washington's Long War on Syria'. Whatever one might think of Gowans, the title is surely accurate. The Americans have been interfering in Syrian internal affairs since the CIA backed coup of 1949 (and of course 'Western' imperialistic control of Syria goes back to 1918). The idea that the Americans are simply going to back up and go home (as they have never done before) is simply science fictional: the Americans never give up or go home.

Let's not forget that American Imperial Troops are currently deployed in more than 150 countries worldwide ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_deployments ). The 'withdrawal' of 2,000 troops here or there is not going to fundamentally alter an imperialist foreign policy.

@46 ' So foreign entanglements are a fact of life.' Why?

'short of wholesale reform of the US state.' Let's do that then.

'Isolation was possible when the US was a bit player; it's not now.'

And yet other countries seem to manage it just fine.

I continue to be amazed by well educated historically aware people who consider American imperialism an objective and unalterable fact of life, like the laws of physics. The US has only been a global world dominating hegemon since about 1948, and it already looks highly unstable (the Roman Empire for contrast lasted roughly from 700BC to the 15th century AD. The various Egyptian Empires lasted much longer). It is by no means unalterable or unstoppable.

A 'progressivism' that doesn't take a simple, elementary, moral stand against American imperialism in general, and Western imperialism more generally, isn't really worth much, at the end of the day, and will inevitably founder on its own contradictions.

Patrick 12.26.18 at 6:09 pm ( 49 )
Hidari no doubt has excellent evidence of both of the following:

1. That the Russian sphere of influence is more beneficial than the American one, and

2. That leaving the Middle East today will somehow inhibit the next militarily adventuristic US President with bad ideas from just going back.

Because without the former you've no reason to expect any immediate benefit, and without the latter you've no reason to think that we can avoid greater future harms by allowing present ones.

erica23 12.26.18 at 11:27 pm ( 50 )
@45. Dennis Perrin is also good on the Democrats' weakness for bombing brown peoples:

Not surprised by the countless liberals opposed to #SyriaWithdrawal. Liberals love war and imperialism, and it's extra exciting to see warmongering covered in rainbow flags and peace signs. Again: I wrote SAVAGE MULES far too soon.

https://twitter.com/DennisThePerrin/status/1075743435787853824

roger gathmann 12.27.18 at 3:13 am ( 51 )
The argument that Trump has proven to be crazy and incompetent for withdrawing those troops, and that instead, we should have the crazy and incompetent president directing those troops, is an argument of considerable madness. It reminds me of the liberal interventionist argument about invading Iraq, which conceded that Bush and his people were total incompetents and then turned about and urged a fantasy war for fantasy reasons. It makes me think that there is an intellectual deficit in the foreign policy establishment that requires wholesale de-legitimation.
William Berry 12.27.18 at 4:48 am ( 52 )

I have written before that Trump may be a rotten President for Americans, but at least he has not initiated a major war; and I am quite sure Hillary would have done by now.

This is perfect (as epitome of "leftist" commentary on Trump/ Clinton). Shrill, angry bitch might not be a Nazi like our boy, but she would have started a war, and don't you doubt it, because, somehow or other, we just know she would have.

Hidari 12.27.18 at 2:24 pm ( 53 )
'(Trump) said he had no plans to withdraw American forces from Iraq, which he said the United States could use as a staging ground in the heart of the Middle East from which to combat Iran, or someday reenter Syria' .

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-visits-us-troops-in-iraq-for-first-trip-to-a-conflict-zone/2018/12/26/d3f7d272-055e-11e9-b5df-5d3874f1ac36_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.ae91d977d7ab

Despite what some people are projecting onto him, Trump is just as much of a warmonger and an imperialist as Clinton, Obama, Bush and the rest. It's just that he has a (slightly) clearer view of the limits of American power and (slightly) more insight into how much ordinary working class Americans hate the forever wars.

But the basic lineaments of his worldview are imperial. That this in no way distinguishes him from the majority of American intellectuals, be they 'conservative' or 'liberal', is not an excuse.

nastywoman 12.27.18 at 4:35 pm ( 54 )
For any self described "liberal progressive" who wholeheartedly agrees with:
"military intervention in foreign disputes is almost always harmful and hardly ever preferable to civil aid" @50 is really "annoying"?

As it is highly doubtful that the "countless liberals opposed to #SyriaWithdrawal" are really "liberals" – as it is highly doubtful that the "Shrill, angry bitch would have started a war – as she for sure is NOT "like our boy" – Baron von Clownstick – who never ever will get anything "even half right" – as "random" never can be "right" or "wrong" – it's just as random as naming "Paradise" – "Pleasure" and not "Papperlapapp"!

abd 12.27.18 at 4:43 pm ( 55 )
@45. Hillary–"We Came, We Saw, He Died"–asks for more War on Syria:

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

--

[William Appleman] Williams' most important contribution was to identify foreign relations as the arena where competing moral ideas concerning how best to organize society got worked out. Over the long course of US history, Williams argued, liberalism's prime contradictions–between, for instance, the general good and self-interest, or society and private property–were harmonized through constant expansion, first territorially, then economically. Empire, he wrote, "was the only way to honor avarice and morality. The only way to be good and wealthy." (Williams was well ahead of his time: it has only been in the last decade that intellectual historians have begun to look at liberalism's relationship to empire.)

Williams taught that domestic reform in America has always been paid for with imperial expansion. In the mid-1800s, the federal fight against slavery went hand in hand with the fight against Native Americans and the final drive west. Progressives and New Dealers could use the government to distribute wealth a bit more equitably only if they also used it to open the world's markets to American corporations. And in the 1960s, Lyndon Johnson couldn't get the congressional votes for the Great Society unless he stood "firm on the frontier" in Vietnam.

https://www.thenation.com/article/150

novakant 12.28.18 at 11:54 am (no link)
Raven, here is Richard Engel 4 years earlier:

"Bush tore open iraq. Obama encouraged revolts in syria, but never backed them. Now both nations in chaos"

https://twitter.com/RichardEngel/status/514554020078166016?s=19

Maybe both could be right – just a thought.

Donald 12.28.18 at 2:12 pm ( 62 )
One thing wrong with that Engel quote, novakant -- Obama did back the Syrian rebels. Some of the weapons he sent quickly ended up in the hands of ISIS.

http://www.conflictarm.com/download-file/?report_id=2568&file_id=2574

Roger Gathmann 12.28.18 at 2:16 pm ( 63 )
53, anybody who says Trump is not a warmonger should look at the increase in the military budget that he advocated. He's a warmonger. Which is why having a small force of soldiers in Syria is a hugely bad idea. It is not enough to confront Turkey, which just went ahead and incursed in Kurdish Syria recently – and it is not enough to confront Isis – but it is certainly enough to draw us into another badly planned, ill advised larger conflict. So what is the point?
I do love how suddenly the Kurds are these romantic exotics. I'm a fan of the Kurds, in a way, but I recognize that the Kurdish establishment in Northern Iraq profitted hugely from selling oil they got at a rock bottom price from ISIS in 2014 to Turkey. I realize this not because of Russian propaganda, but because Obama's undersecretary for the Treasury, David Cohen, said this way back in 2012. https://www.ft.com/content/6c269c4e-5ace-11e4-b449-00144feab7de It is also important to realize that the Kurdish parties who rule Northern Iraq are incredibly corrupt, and have crushed protests against them. Those parties have a history of fighting each other for the spoils, and have no hesitation about calling in their supposed "natural" enemies – as happened when the PUK allied itself with Saddam Hussein in the mini civil war of the late nineties.
Turkey has no right whatsoever to go into Syria. That's cause James Madison was not Turkish. Luckily for the U.S., he was American, and he gave America carte blanche to invade anywhere in its sphere in the Americas. Lucky America! Trump will never do anything right for the right reasons – but sometimes he does things right for the wrong reasons. Withdrawal from Afghanistan is certainly an excellent thing to get going. And it is also true that the Generals will continually ask for more time – no skin off their nose if it costs another hundred billion dollars. The discussion, in my opinion, should be about how to withdraw better, not how to stay.
Hidari 12.28.18 at 6:42 pm ( 64 )
'Syria's most powerful Kurdish militia has called on President Bashar al-Assad's government to send forces to protect it against an attack by Turkey, the first sign of shifting political alliances in eastern Syria since President Trump announced that he would withdraw American troops.

At issue is an expanse of territory in the country's north and east that the United States, in partnership with local Kurdish-led militias, took from the Islamic State. That put about one-quarter of Syria's territory, including valuable agricultural land and oil reserves, under the control of those militias backed by the United States and supported by about 2,000 American soldiers .

The Kurds said that the Syrian army would only take over border areas to protect against a Turkish attack but would not deploy inside the city itself.'

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/28/world/middleeast/syria-kurds-turkey-manbij.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

abd 12.29.18 at 1:48 am (no link)
@63. I do love how suddenly the Kurds are these romantic exotics.

Yes, it's interesting how in some folks' feverish imagination they might as well be a feminist, vegan, pro-LGBT, environmentally friendly, counter-cultural band of merry pranksters. Reality is a little more complicated (esp. as the cultural gap is vastly greater than, say, that between an Englishman like Orwell and Catalans in Barcelona):

https://theintercept.com/2018/12/28/syria-withdrawal-kurds-pkk

Speaking of Catalans–who, incidentally had a 60 year track record of anarchist practice by the time the Spanish Civil War broke out–here's an article that compares their predicament with that of Kurds:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/29/world/europe/independence-movements-catalans-kurds.html

faustusnotes 12.29.18 at 5:04 am ( 67 )
I actually think Dipper has a good point here. Every major international power has or should have a slogan or a set of principles which describes what its subjects and tributaries can expect from engagement with it. The reality doesn't match the slogan of course but it tells us something about how the imperial nation sees itself and its own activities, and what rhetoric people need to deploy against and in favour of it.

I think it's notable that post-Soviet Russia doesn't have any slogan. It's just "me and mine". But fortunately China has a very clear set of principles driving everything it does, with their origin in Mao and their latest expression in Xi Jinping Thought. I haven't read his thought (I guess it's a bunch of anodyne principles like "freedom is good"). But you can find Chinese scholars interpreting it with Chinese government support. For example here is a collection of positions on international affairs . Some examples:

Xi also said that diplomacy should continuously contribute to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. It should be noted that a community of shared future for mankind is not a design or product exclusive to China, but a concept that can help resolve global issues, and thus should be shared by more countries and needs the concerted efforts of all to succeed.

(I assume that the use of "mankind" here is a translation error, since I expect it is not a gendered word in Mandarin).
Or here:

And sixth, the idea of fairness and justice should be promoted in global governance, especially as the United States has thrown the world order into chaos from time to time. In an ideal world, major powers should not harm others and destabilize the world order for the sake of their own interests.

So Xi Jinping thought proposes China as a responsible member of the global order, promoting a shared future for humanity through peaceful cooperation.
And finally, about the One Belt One Road initiative:

The steady advancement of the Belt and Road Initiative attests to the great importance of upholding justice and friendship while pursuing shared interests in diplomatic work. Upholding the principle of wide consultations, joint contributions and shared benefits, the initiative is not a one-way promotion of the China model. So, in the future, reasonable goals should be set to gradually promote the development of the initiative, in order to safeguard national interests and bring benefits to the economies involved in the initiative.

There's a new paper out by a scholar on colonialism that shows the UK stole resources from India equal to 17 times the total current UK GDP over the period of the colonial era. But you can bet that a bunch of idiots like BoJo and pretty much everyone in the US centrist press are going to try and present the One Belt One Road initiative as worse than colonialism. In any case, by Dipper's lights, it has a much better set of goals.

I also agree that maybe abd is a new incarnation of ph. If so, that's sock-puppeting, and completely unacceptable.

nastywoman 12.29.18 at 6:37 am ( 68 )
BUT as there is this rumor that Baron von Clownstick – in this case – did what he did in order to just get Turkey to order a Patriot System from our weapon manufacturers –
and that would be a YUUUUGE winning for US –

What are we discussing here?

Hidari 12.31.18 at 6:59 pm (no link)
As I predicted, Trump's 'withdrawal' turns out not to be quite as reported.

'A top Republican has said US President Donald Trump remains committed to defeating Islamic State (IS) in Syria, despite his plan to withdraw US troops.
Senator Lindsey Graham suggested the withdrawal had been slowed and he was now reassured of the president's commitment after meeting him on Sunday.
Mr Trump's troop pullout plan met strong criticism from major allies, and senior Republicans like Mr Graham.
The White House has yet to comment on Mr Graham's remarks.
"I think we're in a pause situation where we are re-evaluating what's the best way to achieve the president's objective of having people pay more and do more," Mr. Graham said.
He did not explain this, but The New York Times reports that he may be referring to assurances given to military officials that they can have longer than 30 days to ensure an orderly withdrawal of troops.'

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-46718397

J-D 12.31.18 at 8:37 pm ( 80 )
Orange Watch

Clinton would have escalated in Syria by her own admission, and as other commenters pointed out above, would have been less willing than Trump to de-escalate because she and her backers place a premium on an appearance "pragmatic centerism" which requires unwavering posturing towards vague right-wing ideals that they'll never actually satisfy and that will never exempt them from right-wing criticism.

'Clinton would have escalated in Syria' is not synonymous with 'Clinton would have initiated a major war', which is the statement that William Berry was reacting to.

J-D 12.31.18 at 11:34 pm ( 81 )
Dipper

So, I understand how Faustusnotes's information about Xi Jinping Thought might be interesting to you, but I still don't get how the whole question of 'Who is China's David Livingstone?' was supposed to be relevant to this discussion.

Patrick 01.01.19 at 2:43 pm ( 82 )
I think its too early to say whether the withdrawal will or will not be as initially declared.

Trump is a nihilistic narcissist with a lazy absence of follow through, but with strong impulsive tendencies. I think the most likely reason for the changed announcements about what withdrawal will or will not happen is that Congressional Republicans like Lindsay Graham don't want the withdrawal to happen, and are trying to chart a course where something happens to mollify Trump, but the withdrawal doesn't really take place. It is NOT guaranteed that they will succeed in that aim. They are not the first set of Trump flunkies to try to achieve this sort of redirection of the Presidency, and the success rate of other people's efforts is maybe 50/50 over the long term.

JimV 01.01.19 at 5:35 pm ( 83 )
Re: J-D's question to Dipper and Dipper's follow-up question to J-D (the three C's)

This will be an exercise in attempted mind-reading, which will probably fail, but,

Since the answer to "who first mentioned the three C's" takes less than a minute to google and find David Livingstone of "Dr. Livingston, I presume" fame (i.e., the missionary who probably was sincere in the sentiment he expressed with the three C's), and one would like to think that comments are relevant to the posts they are submitted to, I think Dipper assumed that you already knew the answer and were trying to make a subtle Socratic point (relevant to the discussion) that the three C's were not and are not necessarily insincere. So he responded to the effect of, okay, Dr. Livingston may he been sincere but who today is being similarly sincere in their imperialism?

Based on J-D's responses I further mind-read that he actually was asking for information, tangential to the discussion, as to who authored the three C's, not trying to make any point relevant to the discussion with that question. I'm less sure of that reading than the previous one, though.

I offer this with no dog in the barking contest, just trying, and probably failing, to clear up a misunderstanding on the Internet.

Orange Watch 01.01.19 at 7:36 pm (no link)
J-D@80:

Clinton would have escalated in Syria' is not synonymous with 'Clinton would have initiated a major war', which is the statement that William Berry was reacting to.

It's also not even vaguely mutually exclusive with initiating a major war. Syria "enjoyed" certain aspects of a proxy war with Russia, and Clinton's call for imposing a no-fly zone and escalating our direct involvement showed a fair amount of disregard for that. (Incidentally, this is one of the reasons that the #resistance crowd don't sound entirely insane when they wildly overstate the evidence of the extent of Trump-Russia collusion, but like the above admission that Clinton was flawed, they want us to not think about the implied consequences of have these intentions, because that would spoil the illusion that "centerist" liberals become hawks have only when their unwilling hand is forced by evolving circumstances.)

Pointing out that calls for escalating something bordering on proxy war with Russia does not guarantee a new major war does nothing to contradict the fact that a major war was a very possible outcome of those enthusiastic intentions. Clinton expressed a desire to greatly increase the risk of a new major war (although frankly, if anything can be broadly objected to here, it's the new; this would have been a new major theater, not a new war). Scoffing "that's ridiculous" on the basis of "she didn't actually SAY 'I want to start a new major war'" is generally unhelpful, and it's flat-out disingenuous when your faction's preferred rhetorical ploy is to say that you don't ever WANT the predictable negative consequences of your policy positions to occur, but the situation unfortunately forced your hand (exactly as your slanderous, scurrilous, naive critics predicted, time and again).

[Jan 03, 2019] After Syria, Trump Should Clean Out His National Security Bureaucracy by Doug Bandow

Notable quotes:
"... The president's own appointees, the "adult" foreign policy advisors he surrounded himself with, disagreed with him on almost all of this -- not just micromanaging the Middle East, but subsidizing Europeans in NATO, underwriting South Korea, and negotiating with North Korea. His aides played him at every turn, adding allies, sending more men and materiel to defend foreign states, and expanding commitments in the Middle East. ..."
"... Equally important, though somewhat less urgent, is finding a new secretary of state. Although Pompeo has not so ostentatiously undermined his boss, he appears to oppose every effort by the president to end a war, drop a security commitment, or ease a conflict. Pompeo's enthusiasm for negotiation with Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin is clearly lagging. While the secretary might not engage in open sabotage, his determination to take a confrontational approach everywhere except when explicitly ordered to do otherwise badly undermines Trump's policies. ..."
"... Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of ..."
"... Those of us who want to see Bolton gone should first ask why he was chosen in the first place. Clearly Trump had to appease Adelson in order to make that appointment because he depends on his campaign donations. What makes anyone think that the situation has changed in such a way as to permit Trump more autonomy in his choice of his cabinet? ..."
"... It astonishes me how people, in particular Bolton, can continue to get these jobs, particularly under Trump. Who pushed him and supported him for this position? Pompeo is disappointing and he just appointed a anti-Trump neocon for a high level position at State. ..."
"... Trump has made many very bad personnel decisions, with some very horrible political advisor appointments, foreign affairs appointments, and domestic policy appointments. And, he has decidedly left out of his administration many people who worked very hard to get him elected, shared his views on the world, and who would be loyal supporters in office. He appointed many people who were against him and probably did not vote for him, much less support him. There was and perhaps still is a better chance of a high level appointment if one opposed and still oppose Trump's promises to the American people. ..."
"... He needs to turn this around now. Bolton is a piece of crap, a devoted coward, and a fraud with a track record of disastrous judgment and failure. I was astonished when Trump appointed him he needs to go now. Clean house. ..."
Dec 27, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

After Syria, Trump Should Clean Out His National Security Bureaucracy They're undermining his positions and pursuing their own agendas. John Bolton should be the first to go.

President Donald Trump has at last rediscovered his core foreign policy beliefs and ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. Right on cue, official Washington had a collective mental breakdown. Neocons committed to war, progressives targeting Trump, and centrists determined to dominate the world unleashed an orgy of shrieking and caterwauling. The horrifying collective scream, a la artist Edvard Munch, continued for days.

Trump's decision should have surprised no one. As a candidate, he shocked the Republican Party establishment by criticizing George W. Bush's disastrous decision to invade Iraq and urging a quick exit from Afghanistan. As president, he inflamed the bipartisan War Party's fears by denouncing America's costly alliances with wealthy industrialized states. And to almost everyone's consternation, he said he wanted U.S. personnel out of Syria. Once the Islamic State was defeated, he explained, Americans should come home.

How shocking. How naïve. How outrageous.

The president's own appointees, the "adult" foreign policy advisors he surrounded himself with, disagreed with him on almost all of this -- not just micromanaging the Middle East, but subsidizing Europeans in NATO, underwriting South Korea, and negotiating with North Korea. His aides played him at every turn, adding allies, sending more men and materiel to defend foreign states, and expanding commitments in the Middle East.

Last spring, the president talked of leaving Syria "very soon." But the American military stayed. Indeed, three months ago, National Security Advisor John Bolton announced an entirely new mission: "We're not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders and that includes Iranian proxies and militias."

That was chutzpah on a breathtaking scale. It meant effectively that the U.S. was entitled to invade and dismember nations, back aggressive wars begun by others, and scatter bases and deployments around the world. Since Damascus and Tehran have no reason to stop cooperating -- indeed, America's presence makes outside support even more important for the Assad regime -- Bolton was effectively planning a permanent presence, one that could bring American forces into contact with Russian, Syrian, and Turkish forces, as well as Iranians. As the Assad government consolidates its victory in the civil war, it inevitably will push into Kurdish territories in the north. That would have forced the small American garrison there to either yield ground or become a formal combatant in another Middle Eastern civil war.

The latter could have turned into a major confrontation. Damascus is backed by Russia and might be supported by Ankara, which would prefer to see the border controlled by Syrian than Kurdish forces. Moreover, the Kurds, under threat from Turkey, are not likely to divert forces to contain Iranians moving with the permission of the Damascus government. Better to cut a deal with Assad that minimizes the Turks than be Washington's catspaw.

The Pentagon initially appeared reluctant to accept this new objective. At the time, Brigadier General Scott Benedict told the House Armed Services Committee: "In Syria, our role is to defeat ISIS. That's it." However, the State Department envoy on Syria, Jim Jeffrey, began adding Iran to his sales pitch. So did Brian Hook, State's representative handling the undeclared diplomatic war on Iran, who said the goal was "to remove all forces under Iranian control from Syria."

Washington Melts Down Over Trump's Syria Withdrawal Mattis Marks the End of the Global War on Terror

Apparently this direct insubordination came to a head in a phone call between President Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Why are you still there?" the latter asked Trump, who turned to Bolton. The national security advisor was on the call, but could offer no satisfactory explanation.

Perhaps at that moment, the president realized that only a direct order could enforce his policy. Otherwise his staffers would continue to pursue their militaristic ends. That determination apparently triggered the long-expected resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who deserves respect but was a charter member of the hawkish cabal around the president. He dissented from them only on ending the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Still in place is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who so far has proven to be a bit more malleable though still hostile to the president's agenda. He is an inveterate hawk, including toward Tehran, which he insists must surrender to both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia as part of any negotiation. He's adopted the anti-Iran agenda in Syria as his own. His department offered no new approach to Russia over Ukraine, instead steadily increasing sanctions, without effect, on Moscow. At least Pompeo attempted to pursue discussions with North Korea, though he was certainly reluctant about it.

Most dangerous is Bolton. He publicly advocated war with both Iran and North Korea before his appointment, and his strategy in Syria risked conflict with several nations. He's demonstrated that he has no compunctions about defying the president, crafting policies that contradict the latter's directives. Indeed, Bolton is well-positioned to undermine even obvious successes, such as the peaceful opening with North Korea.

Supporting appointments to State and the National Security Council have been equally problematic. Candidate Trump criticized the bipartisan War Party, thereby appealing to heartland patriots who wonder why their relatives, friends, and neighbors have been dying in endless wars that have begotten nothing but more wars. Yet President Trump has surrounded himself with neocons, inveterate hawks, and ivory tower warriors. With virtually no aides around him who believe in his policies or were even willing to implement them, he looked like a George Bush/Barack Obama retread. The only certainty, beyond his stream of dramatic tweets, appeared to be that Americans would continue dying in wars throughout his presidency.

However, Trump took charge when he insisted on holding the summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-un. Now U.S. forces are set to come home from Syria, and it appears that he may reduce or even eliminate the garrison in Afghanistan, where Americans have been fighting for more than 17 years. Perhaps he also will reconsider U.S. support for the Saudis and Emiratis in Yemen.

Trump should use Secretary Mattis's departure as an opportunity to refashion his national security team. Who is to succeed Mattis at the Pentagon? Deputy Secretary Patrick Shanahan appears to have the inside track. But former Navy secretary and senator Jim Webb deserves consideration. Or perhaps it's time for a second round for former senator Chuck Hagel, who opposed the Gulf war and backed dialog with Iran. Defense needs someone willing to challenge the Pentagon's thinking and practices. Best would be a civilian who won't be captured by the bureaucracy, one who understands that he or she faces a tough fight against advocates of perpetual war.

Next to go should be Bolton. There are many potential replacements who believe in a more restrained role for America. One who has been mentioned as a potential national security advisor in the past is retired Army colonel and respected security analyst Douglas Macgregor.

Equally important, though somewhat less urgent, is finding a new secretary of state. Although Pompeo has not so ostentatiously undermined his boss, he appears to oppose every effort by the president to end a war, drop a security commitment, or ease a conflict. Pompeo's enthusiasm for negotiation with Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin is clearly lagging. While the secretary might not engage in open sabotage, his determination to take a confrontational approach everywhere except when explicitly ordered to do otherwise badly undermines Trump's policies.

Who to appoint? Perhaps Tennessee's John Duncan, the last Republican congressman who opposed the Iraq war and who retired this year after decades of patriotic service. There are a handful of active legislators who could serve with distinction as well, though their departures would be a significant loss on Capitol Hill: Senator Rand Paul and Representatives Justin Amash and Walter Jones, for instance.

Once the top officials have been replaced, the process should continue downwards. Those appointed don't need to be thoroughgoing Trumpists, of whom there are few. Rather, the president needs people generally supportive of his vision of a less embattled and entangled America: subordinates, not insubordinates. Then he will be less likely to find himself in embarrassing positions where his appointees create their own aggressive policies contrary to his expressed desires.

Trump has finally insisted on being Trump, but Syria must only be the start. He needs to fill his administration with allies, not adversaries. Only then will his "America First" policy actually put America first.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire .



Michael Kaiser December 26, 2018 at 10:57 pm

Talk about "Ivory Tower" know-nothings. Does this writer, Doug Bandow of the Cata Institute amazingly, have any idea what he is talking about? Justin Amish? In a discussion of the most virulent anti-Trumper in Congress Amish would have to be included in the discussion. Chuck Hagel? Are you kidding? Let us just bring back Obama and let him do some national security. And Hagel is loyal to no one. And, sorry, like John Bolton or not, he basically just started. He is not going anywhere and he should not. It would look ridiculous to replace him so soon.
Not Sanguine , , December 26, 2018 at 11:12 pm
Gosh, that would be great (Bolton and Pompeo out) but I don't see it happening anytime soon. They're in it for the power and the money they'll make afterward, not for principle, and will bob and weave with the caprices of their boss.
Clyde Schechter , , December 26, 2018 at 11:47 pm
After two years in office, I am utterly flabbergasted that there are still people out there who take seriously the notion that Trump wants to extricate us from our wars around the globe and refrain from starting new ones. Virtually every foreign policy decision he has made has been contrary to that.

Finally, for once, he decides to pull out of Syria (a mere few weeks after he announced we would stay there indefinitely) and somehow this one, as yet unimplemented decision represents "Trump being Trump?" Seriously? He's proven through his actions and his appointments that he's a full-blown neocon. Maybe I'll rescind the "full-blown" part of that judgment if he actually does withdraw from Syria. But it would still be a pretty tiny exception to his thoroughly neocon actions up to this point.

If nothing else, appointing Bolton as national security advisor speaks volumes. Personnel is policy, as they say. And you'd have have spent the last two decades in a coma living on another planet not to know that Bolton is the biggest warmonger around. He makes most of the neocons look like pacifists by comparison. Even the people who think Trump a complete idiot can't really imagine that Trump didn't know what he was getting when he hired Bolton.

Let's get real here. It'll be great if he withdraws from Syria. It'd be even better if he replaces his national security team along the lines suggested in this article. But don't hold your breath. It would go against nearly everything he has done since taking office.

It's time to come to grips with the non-existence of the tooth fairy.

sglover , , December 27, 2018 at 12:12 am
Before we credit Trump with stumbling on something sensible for once, it might be wise to remember that we're still talking about -- Trump. Who now says that American troops still in Iraq can still raid into Syria as necessary, and by the way, they'll be staying in Iraq . So already it's shaping up as not so much a withdrawal as a reshuffling. After a minor adjustment to the game board, play can continue as necessary, such as whenever Bolton or Fox media whispers into the casino bankrupt's ear.

Always always always a swindle, with Trump. It's an iron law.

Fran Macadam , , December 27, 2018 at 6:25 am
" heartland patriots who wonder why their relatives, friends, and neighbors have been dying in endless wars that have begotten nothing but more wars."

Nothing to wonder at, war is the most lucrative racket going, for those who profit mightily from supplying weapons. It's become so important to an otherwise shrunken manufacturing base, that downsizing would affect employment, and there's nowhere domestic to absorb the overseas demobilized.

The downside of this, therefore, is it may only be redirection and consolidation, to be able to concentrate forces on Iran instead. The budget's not getting any smaller, so there's going to be warmaking somewhere.

Fran Macadam , , December 27, 2018 at 6:26 am
" heartland patriots who wonder why their relatives, friends, and neighbors have been dying in endless wars that have begotten nothing but more wars."

Nothing to wonder at, war is the most lucrative racket going, for those who profit mightily from supplying weapons. It's become so important to an otherwise shrunken manufacturing base, that downsizing would affect employment, and there's nowhere domestic to absorb the overseas demobilized.

The downside of this, therefore, is it may only be redirection and consolidation, to be able to concentrate forces on Iran instead. The budget's not getting any smaller, so there's got to be compensatory warmaking somewhere.

Trump got one right , , December 27, 2018 at 8:21 am
Bolton is a national disgrace. This vile piece of trash is desperate to get the USA into a disasterous war with Iran. The quicker Bolton is removed the better. Any stooge who supported the Iraq invasion should be precluded from consideration.
Mark Thomason , , December 27, 2018 at 9:35 am
"Yet President Trump has surrounded himself with neocons, inveterate hawks, and ivory tower warriors."

In fairness to Trump, there just was nobody else. He had nobody lined up to be an administration that believed what he did. Republicans were all hawks. Democrats wouldn't think of helping, and were also all hawks anyway.

Trump's first effort to break out of that with second or third-line people went bust with the likes of Gen. Flynn, and he was left with going back to the very people he'd defeated.

Fred Bowman , , December 27, 2018 at 9:43 am
At this point in time I don't think Trump will be able to win a second term, such is the chaos he's brought about to his Presidency. So that leaves to question which of the men you have suggested to help lead Trump to a less warlike America would choose to serve? Perhaps first, we need an "Adult" as POTUS and maybe then, we can get "men of wisdom" who can help America get out of it's "Miltary Misadventures" in the Middle East.
pax , , December 27, 2018 at 9:57 am
There is no problem replacing someone who should never have been tapped in the first place. John Bolton. Never too soon to right a wrong. Get rid of neocon Bolton and his types now. Not later. He marches to another drummer not to USA interests. I doubt Trump can even beat Kamila Harris (darling of the illiberal left) in 2020 if he keeps Bolton and Co. around.
Steve Naidamast , , December 27, 2018 at 10:52 am
I wouldn't get overly excited about this. Trump has habitually initiated all levels of chaos throughout his incompetent administration. This is nothing new but more of the same.

If anyone believes Trump actually found his brain, they are smoking something

CLW , , December 27, 2018 at 12:19 pm
What a joke. Trump has no "foreign policy vision," just a series of boisterous, bellicose talking points that to his isolationist base and his own desire to be the strongman.
Kurt Gayle , , December 27, 2018 at 12:48 pm
sglover says (Dec 27, 12:12 am): "Before we credit Trump with stumbling on something sensible for once, it might be wise to remember that we're still talking about -- Trump. Who now says that American troops still in Iraq can still raid into Syria as necessary, and by the way, they'll be staying in Iraq. So already it's shaping up as not so much a withdrawal as a reshuffling. After a minor adjustment to the game board, play can continue as necessary, such as whenever Bolton or Fox media whispers into the casino bankrupt's ear. Always always always a swindle, with Trump. It's an iron law."

However, just 6 days ago sglover said on another thread ("Washington Melts Down Over Trump's Syria Withdrawal" -- Dec 21, 3:26 pm):

"I despise Trump, but if he's managed to stumble on doing something sensible, and actually does it (never a certainty with the casino swindler) -- great! There's no sane reason for us to muck about in Syria. However it comes about, we should welcome a withdrawal there. If the move gives Trump some of the approval that he plainly craves, maybe he'll repeat the performance and end our purposeless wallow in Afghanistan. It doesn't say anything good about the nominal opposition party, the Dems, that half or more of them -- and apparently *all* of their dinosaur 'leadership' -- can't stifle the kneejerking and let him do it. Of course many of them are "troubled" because their Israeli & Saudi owners, er, 'donors' expect it. But some of them seem to have developed a sudden deep attachment to 'our mission in Syria' for no better reason than, Trump is for it, therefore I must shout against it. And then, of course, there's the Russia hysteria. Oh yeah, what a huge win for Moscow if it scores the 'prize' of occupying Syria! If that's Putin's idea of a big score, how exactly does it harm any American to let him have it? I wonder if the Democratic Party will ever be capable of doing anything other than snatching defeat from the jaws of victory?"

FL Transplant , , December 27, 2018 at 1:24 pm
The problem with they article begins with it's first sentence "President Donald Trump has at last rediscovered his core foreign policy beliefs " I can't find any core foreign policy beliefs. What I have seen is a mosh-mosh of sound bites that resound well with his audiences at rallies, and various people attempt to link those together and fill in the white space between with what they WANT his foreign policy beliefs to be. But to go so far as to say he has any consistent beliefs that combine to form a foreign policy is going way too far.
DeusIrae , , December 27, 2018 at 1:47 pm
Replace Bolton with Mike Flynn after all charges are dropped against him. Then have Robert Mueller et al. arrested to be tried and put to death for High Treason. Then liberate Britain, Bomb the Vatican, and put a naval blockade on China.
Bruceb , , December 27, 2018 at 2:21 pm
You do know that Trump wants to increase the military budget. Yet you maintain that he wanted to pull us out of foreign wars. Curious. Where would all that extra money go? I'd look for it at the top of Trump Tower. Certainly not in the pockets of ordinary citizens.
Shawn F , , December 27, 2018 at 3:08 pm
Hmm This article makes it seem like there's these renegades who have somehow held onto power and are charting America's course on their own. But doesn't the President hand pick the members of his cabinet? Wasn't every single one of them given their authority *by Donald Trump*?

Only an incompetent imbecile with no experience in leadership or government could be so dim-witted as to appoint people who would willfully defy and disregard his agenda. Surely our country would never put give such an incompetent so much authority.

Oh wait sorry, never mind.

Jeeves , , December 27, 2018 at 3:13 pm
We have a "peaceful opening" with North Korea? How many months ago did Mr. Bandow last read about the NoKos counter-proposal to unconditional nuclear disarmament? And what about all the Trump saber-rattling that preceded this so-called opening? If Trump was "played" by his own advisers on Afghanistan, he was equally duped by the mirage offered by Kim.
WRW , , December 27, 2018 at 3:22 pm
Trump had no lofty notions underpinning this decision. He did it in an impetuous, chaotic manner in which he obtained nothing in return from Russia or Turkey or Iran to address our broader strategic interest in the region, such as ending the war in Yemen.

Like everything he does, it reeks of corruption and no doubt will be added to Mueller's investigation.

Contrary to Bandows libertarian take, it is an expression of Trumps imperial presidency. The Syrian involvement has strong bipartisan support even if lacking a resolution in support (and the Libertarian Sen. Paul never got anywhere with a resolution against.) Leaving Syria was the correct long term strategic decision. I'm sure 99% of democrats in Congress supported the action. Only Trump, with his narcissistic incompetence could take an action that his opponents would overwhelmingly support if done in a credible manner and turn it into controversy. Trump looks like the servant of Russians and Turks in his conduct. Jan 2021 can't come soon enough.

The Other Sands , , December 27, 2018 at 4:32 pm
I find it interesting that so many people (the author apparently included) are still so slow to understand that Trump can't afford to get rid of people, because he literally can't find new cabinet members.

He started with mostly C-listers, and most of them are gone. He is on to hiring TV hosts, bloggers, professional political grifters, his family, or just being stuck with straight-up vacant posts.

Only the worst sorts would voluntarily work for such an angry, undisciplined, chaotic boss in the smoking shambles of an organization like this administration.

You just go ahead and ask Chuck Hagel if he would join this train wreck.

sglover , , December 27, 2018 at 5:47 pm
The article itself is a joke, of course, but this is TAC, so one shouldn't expect much.

Besides, it's always amusing (in a gallows humor kind of way) to watch the right-wingers cling to and puff up everything, anything, that might keep them from confronting the product of their dime store "philosophy". In every way that counts, Trump is the true heir of the sainted Reagan.

Brendan Sexton , , December 27, 2018 at 7:53 pm
FL Transplant is correct. Whatever 'core beliefs' Trump may have, they will prove hard to find and if found will turn out to be political expediency, ego inflation, or gibberish -- often all three at once.

Still, I welcome the withdrawal from Syria, but even supporting the result, i am amazed at how ineptly this was decided and how abruptly it was announced . This question of 'process' is in fact what so many critics are pointing to -- the abruptness, the lack of consultation (of course) or even warning to our allies -- including the exposed and vulnerable Kurds, and so on. Considering these errors of process, it seems certain that he will manage to produce awfulness from what should have been a correct policy intention.

Everything he touches turns to crap.

This includes every person he appoints to any office -- each waits in turn to have his or her reputation destroyed.

It is sort of remarkable that any Americans still support him at all. But if they do, they are advised to do so from a distance -- from someplace he cannot touch, leaving his stink behind.

Hideo Watanabe , , December 27, 2018 at 9:19 pm
I blogged on December 22 when I read a similar article like this;

"Every time I read such article as this about Mr. Trump's decisions of any sort, I always wonder if the authors believe that he has solid political philosophy or consolidated policy agenda.

I took his decision of withdrawal from Syria and seemingly from Afghanistan is his survival strategy for 2020 presidential election to appeal to war weariness American voters because Mr. Cohen's plea deal and the revelation of Trump signature on the license agreement for Moscow Trump Tower project would kill his 2020 chance. It is a good strategy but over the last two days his approval rating has not been improved."

Mr. Trump seems to have delivered a speech in Iraq saying that the withdrawal from Syria would not give any adverse effect on Israel security because the US government gives more than $45 billion every year according to a local newspaper of Middle East.

This is another tactic to appeal to AIPAC to make sure his own security for 2020 candidacy, isn't it?

usmc0846 , , December 27, 2018 at 9:52 pm
First 2000 troops is not much more than a reinforced battalion the USMC shuffles that many warriors and more around the Mediterranean every six months. I think the issue with Trump is, as it's always been, his gut seat of his pants way of handling virtually everything he does. There's no control or consideration apparent in any action other than to pitch chum at his largely illiterate followers. In this case he's handed a huge victory to Putin (my my what a surprise that is) and essentially screwed the Kurds. If nothing else those 2000 troops were at least keeping a cap on things to some small degree. That's out the door now and I can't help but think that ISIS (aka the enemy here) will have a vote on what happens next.
Trump Voter , , December 27, 2018 at 10:43 pm
"President Donald Trump has at last rediscovered his core foreign policy beliefs and ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. "

Too hopeful, at this point, I think. But I hope so, too.

Cloak And Dagger , , December 27, 2018 at 11:27 pm
Those of us who want to see Bolton gone should first ask why he was chosen in the first place. Clearly Trump had to appease Adelson in order to make that appointment because he depends on his campaign donations. What makes anyone think that the situation has changed in such a way as to permit Trump more autonomy in his choice of his cabinet?
NEexpert , , December 28, 2018 at 1:54 am
"Or perhaps it's time for a second round for former senator Chuck Hagel, who opposed the Gulf war and backed dialog with Iran."

I think it is an excellent idea to bring back Senator Hagel. He is a man of integrity. But most importantly, he hasn't sold out his soul to Israel.

SteveK9 , , December 28, 2018 at 12:00 pm
To those who say Trump has no foreign policy vision, you are wrong. His vision is simple, dismantle parts of the Empire, become a little more isolationist, and focus on 'America First'. Trump is not very intelligent, but he has the right instincts. He is up against the War Party, the most influential power center in the US, and that is not easy. Obama is more intelligent than Trump, but the results were very bad add one more destroyed country, Libya to his credit, and almost another, Syria (although thankfully the Russians stopped that).

What is mysterious is the following from the article:

'Yet President Trump has surrounded himself with neocons, inveterate hawks, and ivory tower warriors. With virtually no aides around him who believe in his policies or were even willing to implement them, he looked like a George Bush/Barack Obama retread.'

Why he does this, I don't know.

Pulling out of Syria will be a good thing for everyone. The reason is largely nonsense, as it was Russia/Syria that destroyed Isis (we did manage to destroy another city, Raqqa), but I don't care, and neither will the American Public, who understand nothing of Syria.

The Kurds will make an arrangement for limited autonomy with Damascus (already happening as they just asked for protection from Turkey in Manbij). Turkey will not invade Syria as long as they feel Damascus can control the border. Syria, Russia, and maybe even the Kurds will wipe out the last of Isis and those militants in Idlib that would rather die than give up the fight (the fanatics), will be killed.

Then, the reconstruction of Syria can begin in earnest, and it is to be hoped that the Chinese will get off their butt and provide some assistance.

Israel is probably unhappy, which pleases me no end, and I hope this is an indication that there is some limit to the number of people we are willing to murder on their behalf.

Guy St Hilaire , , December 28, 2018 at 2:55 pm
@ NEexpert. Integrity is a quality severely lacking in many politicians in the US. Not being American , but watching closely, if Senator Hagel is such a man , it would do American politics much good, not only for the US but the US standing in the world. Gods speed in changing the likes of Bolton and Pompeo to begin with.
sglover , , December 28, 2018 at 5:03 pm
@ Kurt Gayle -- I don't think you'll find any contradiction between my two remarks.

All I'm saying is that in all the ways that really matter the sudden "withdrawal" from Syria is already shaping up to be a typical Trump bait-and-switch. Sure, troops won't be bivouacing in Syria. Instead, they'll be stationed next door in Iraq, so they can continue to muck around in Syria. And Trump emphasized that as far as he's concerned we'll be staying in Iraq.

(Of course, that "strategic doctrine" is only valid until his next Fox media wallow in front of the idiot box. I.e., maybe until tomorrow afternoon)

William Dalton , , December 28, 2018 at 8:12 pm
I wouldn't hesitate to appoint Walter Jones to the Trump Cabinet. He is entering his last term in Congress and will have virtually no influence in that position. Not only is he a minority of a minority, he is given no respect by his own Republican caucus, which parcels out chairmanships to fundraisers -- not to members with seniority. Seniority, i.e., experience and knowledge, is exactly what the North Carolina Congressman has -- on the Armed Services Committee, and as the representative of a district top heavy with active duty Marines and Airmen and retired military. He should be appointed Secretary of Defense to replace Gen. Mattis.

Jim Webb would be a great pick to become a new National Security Adviser or Secretary of State.

Taras 77 , , December 28, 2018 at 8:15 pm
Cloak And Dagger
December 27, 2018 at 11:27 pm

"want to see Bolton gone should first ask why he was chosen in the first place. Clearly Trump had to appease Adelson in order to make that appointment because he depends on his campaign donations."

Very much agree with the thrust of that comment-adelson is still around, indeed so is his wife, who may be even more rabid than her husband. Do not see this pressure and bolton support going away.

Pompeo??? the day I heard that he wanted to put the "swagger" back into the state dept was the day I knew we were in trouble.

TAC published an article a couple of years ago that romney was instrumental in loading the admin with rabid neo cons-now he will enter the senate, keep any eye on which committee he lands on-graham, menendez, dual citizen cardin, other browder lap dogs will still be active in keeping the heat on for moar neo cons appointees, moar rabid support for wars, moar anti-russian risk taking, etc

Janwaar Bibi , , December 28, 2018 at 10:13 pm
I can't help but think that ISIS (aka the enemy here) will have a vote on what happens next.

As far as I know, a grand total of 2 US soldiers have been killed in this heroic fight by US troops against ISIS in Syria.

https://www.straitstimes.com/world/europe/britain-names-special-air-service-soldier-killed-fighting-isis-in-syria

Even if the number is ten times that, it is nothing compared to what the Syrians, Iranians and Kurds, who actually fought ISIS, suffered.

Even after the US leaves, you have Syria, Russia, Iran and the Kurds fighting ISIS. The 2000 US troops in Syria were there to prevent Assad from defeating ISIS completely since ISIS is a creation of our pals the Saudis and Emiratis, and is supported by our other pal, Israel.

With the US out of the way, ISIS vermin will be exterminated. This will make the Saudis, Emiratis and Israelis sad, which is an added bonus.

RonPaulForSecDef , , December 28, 2018 at 11:16 pm
Senator Rand Paul for Secretary of Defense!
thought bubbles , , December 29, 2018 at 1:15 am
@Cloak and Dagger : "Clearly Trump had to appease Adelson in order to make [the Bolton] appointment because he depends on his campaign donations. What makes anyone think that the situation has changed in such a way as to permit Trump more autonomy in his choice of his cabinet?"

Maybe the Syria withdrawal is Trump's way of saying to Adelson something like this:

"Look, you got more than your $80 million worth with the embassy move, cutting off the Palestinians, Haley at the UN supporting Israel killing and maiming unarmed protesters, and me standing by Israel's only regional friend, Saudi Arabia's MBS. It didn't have to be that way, Sheldon. See? I just pulled out of Syria. I hired Bolton like you wanted, but I don't have to do what Bolton says. Do I?

The bottom line, Sheldon, is that if you want more favors for Israel, and particularly if you want me to put Americans at risk standing between Israel and its enemies, you've got to hand over more money. A lot more money."

Joseph Chiara , , December 30, 2018 at 6:12 am
It astonishes me how people, in particular Bolton, can continue to get these jobs, particularly under Trump. Who pushed him and supported him for this position? Pompeo is disappointing and he just appointed a anti-Trump neocon for a high level position at State.

Trump has made many very bad personnel decisions, with some very horrible political advisor appointments, foreign affairs appointments, and domestic policy appointments. And, he has decidedly left out of his administration many people who worked very hard to get him elected, shared his views on the world, and who would be loyal supporters in office. He appointed many people who were against him and probably did not vote for him, much less support him. There was and perhaps still is a better chance of a high level appointment if one opposed and still oppose Trump's promises to the American people.

He needs to turn this around now. Bolton is a piece of crap, a devoted coward, and a fraud with a track record of disastrous judgment and failure. I was astonished when Trump appointed him he needs to go now. Clean house.

william chandler , , December 30, 2018 at 12:22 pm
Every American should spit on John Bolton anytime they encounter the coward. Bolton loves war as long as HE does not have to go to it. The Draft Dodger has no shame and should be placed in the Front Lines for the duration.

[Jan 03, 2019] Graham and Our Confused Syria Policy by DANIEL LARISON

Notable quotes:
"... Graham is an interventionist fanatic, so it should raise red flags about the supposed Syria withdrawal that he is no longer concerned about it. ..."
"... If U.S. forces are still supposed to remain in Syria long enough to make sure that "Iran doesn't fill in the back end," that is essentially indistinguishable from the earlier Bolton position of an indefinite military presence until Iranian forces leave. It makes no difference to U.S. security whether or not Iran keeps some of its forces in Syria or "fills in the back end" after our withdrawal, and it is not our government's responsibility to police any part of Syria for any length of time. ..."
"... It's no secret that Netanyahu doesn't and never has cared about legality or the US Constitution. Our Constitution and laws are just a goddamned inconvenience as far as he's concerned. They're in the way , and to make matters worse, Adelson's complaining that the cost of US politicians like Durbin, Cotton, and Rubio is going through the roof. ..."
"... Congress is supposed to authorize use of military force. Not agitate to prevent it from ending. ..."
"... If those neocons and "humanitarian" interventionist set on US hegemony can't hem in Trump politically to stay in Syria do expect another 'false flag' to force Trump. ..."
"... I'm not saying I agree with Mattis' military advice, quite the contrary. But to project onto Trump some sort of principled and thoughtful policy here would be just that a projection. ..."
December 31, 2018

Adam Taylor comments on Lindsey Graham's recent claims about Syria policy:

What explains Graham's newfound optimism about Trump's plan to leave Syria?

Well, there is one big but rather confusing reason. In Graham's retelling, Trump's plan to leave Syria sounds suspiciously like a plan to stay in Syria -- one that could be extended indefinitely, too. Speaking to reporters Sunday, Graham described Trump's Syria plan as a "pause situation" rather than a withdrawal.

Graham is an interventionist fanatic, so it should raise red flags about the supposed Syria withdrawal that he is no longer concerned about it. It is possible that Graham is spinning what Trump told him and trying to box the president in with these public statements, but if that were the case Trump would presumably reject Graham's interpretation in a series of angry tweets. The fact that Trump hasn't done that suggests that Syria withdrawal isn't happening or will happen so slowly as to make little difference. Graham describes Trump's Syria policy this way:

Lindsey Graham @LindseyGrahamSC

I learned a lot from President @ realDonaldTrump about our efforts in Syria that was reassuring. (1/3)

16K 6:08 PM - Dec 30, 2018 Twitter Ads info and privacy
6,960 people are talking about this Twitter Ads info and privacy

Taylor observes:

Considering these three elements, a full withdrawal would not be possible in the immediate future.