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Looting pays dividends to empire

In the years after the Second World War, America constructed what amounted to a globe-spanning empire, with the active assistance of Western Europe. The immediate justification was to build a military coalition capable of countering and containing the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc — and an important secondary objective was lloting Third world countries, especially in Latin America  and Africa

That empire carried out a slew of atrocities and war crimes — a variety of coups, pointless and failed wars, and abuse of powerless poor countries. Elsewhere, America made a cynical peace with brutal dictatorships. Africa and the Middle East especially did not fare well.

But when it came to Western Europe, the U.S., Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, it worked out pretty well. Western Europe in particular, which was a smoking crater after the war, was rebuilt quickly and achive high standard of living soon exceeding the standard of living in the USA.

The American imperial framework consisted of the overwhelming strength of the U.S. military; disproportionate funding of and deep influence over the United Nations and its various sub-agencies, plus international economic institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank; the U.S. dollar as global reserve currency and U.S. Treasury bonds as key global asset; and most importantly, the mostly-accurate perception among Western powers that sheltering under the American security umbrella was a good deal.

In retrospect, the fall of the Soviet Union was a massive blow against this system. For a time it proceeded on autopilot by triumphal neoliberals smashed several large cracks in the system, by destroying the New Deal in the USA and what remained of international financial regulation and the managed trade system.

Trump switch to system that imply ro role of the USa as a world bully, whcih now applied to Western Europe as well.  Trump is also letting the State Department, inflected with neocons during Bush and Obama Presidency,  rot with the same merry bunch of reckless globalists and warmongers.

The American neoliberal empire was built by people who recognized that often the best way to loot nations was through non-coercive means. which means financial imperialism.

But in some places it behaved in solid iX centry tradition of military conquest. It is worth emphasizing the horrific carnage American imperialism has wreaked in places like Guatemala, Vietnam, or Iraq. This kind of chaotic collapse and mixture of military destruction and  then financial looting is perhaps the worst of all worlds.

Trump represents a return to gun boat diplomacy, but he is pursuing the same imperial goals. Donald Trump did the seemingly impossible: he stirred protest from other neoliberal nations on a global scale; sparked animosity, if not enmity, and nationalism from Mexico to Iraq, from England to Hungary.

In Syria he put the work close to WWIII.


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[Dec 21, 2019] The Israel Lobby's Hidden Hand in the Theft of Iraqi and Syrian Oil by Agha Hussain and Whitney Webb

Notable quotes:
"... One key, yet often overlooked, player behind the push to prevent a full U.S. troop withdrawal in Syria in order to "keep the oil" was current U.S. ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield ..."
"... Over the course of his long diplomatic career, Satterfield has been known to the U.S. government as an Israeli intelligence asset embedded in the U.S. State Department. Indeed, Satterfield was named as a major player in what is now known as the AIPAC espionage scandal, also known as the Lawrence Franklin espionage scandal, although he was oddly never charged for his role after the intervention of his superiors at the State Department in the George W. Bush administration. ..."
"... WINEP's close association with AIPAC, which has spied on the U.S. on behalf of Israel several times in the past with no consequence, combined with Jeffrey's long-time acquaintance with key U.S. figures in Iraq, such as McGurk, provided an ideal opening for Israel in Iraq. Following the implementation of Jeffrey's plan, Israeli imports of KRG oil constituted 77 percent of Israel's total oil imports during the KRG's occupation of Kirkuk. ..."
"... the role played by the U.S. Israel lobby in this capacity, particularly in terms of orchestrating oil sale agreements for Israel's benefit, is hardly exclusive to Iraq and can accurately be described as a repeated pattern of behavior. ..."
Dec 18, 2019 | astutenews.com
The outsized role of U.S. Israel lobby operatives in abetting the theft of Syrian and Iraqi oil reveals how this powerful lobby also facilitates more covert aspects of U.S.-Israeli cooperation and the implementation of policies that favor Israel.

Kirkuk, Iraq -- "We want to bring our soldiers home. But we did leave soldiers because we're keeping the oil," President Trump stated on November 3, before adding, "I like oil. We're keeping the oil."

Though he had promised a withdrawal of U.S. troops from their illegal occupation of Syria, Trump shocked many with his blunt admission that troops were being left behind to prevent Syrian oil resources from being developed by the Syrian government and, instead, kept in the hands of whomever the U.S. deemed fit to control them, in this case, the U.S.-backed Kurdish-majority militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Though Trump himself received all of the credit -- and the scorn -- for this controversial new policy, what has been left out of the media coverage is the fact that key players in the U.S.' pro-Israel lobby played a major role in its creation with the purpose of selling Syrian oil to the state of Israel. While recent developments in the Syrian conflict may have hindered such a plan from becoming reality, it nonetheless offers a telling example of the covert role often played by the U.S.' pro-Israel lobby in shaping key elements of U.S. foreign policy and closed-door deals with major regional implications.

Indeed, the Israel lobby-led effort to have the U.S. facilitate the sale of Syrian oil to Israel is not an isolated incident given that, just a few years ago, other individuals connected to the same pro-Israel lobby groups and Zionist neoconservatives manipulated both U.S. policy and Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in order to allow Iraqi oil to be sold to Israel without the approval of the Iraqi government. These designs, not unlike those that continue to unfold in Syria, were in service to longstanding neoconservative and Zionist efforts to balkanize Iraq by strengthening the KRG and weakening Baghdad.

After the occupation of Iraq's Nineveh Governorate by ISIS (June 2014-October 2015), the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) took advantage of the Iraqi military's retreat and, amidst the chaos, illegally seized Kirkuk on June 12. Their claim to the city was supported by both the U.S. and Israel and, later, the U.S.-led coalition targeting ISIS. This gave the KRG control, not only of Iraq's export pipeline to Turkey's Ceyhan port, but also to Iraq's largest oil fields.

Israel imported massive amounts of oil from the Kurds during this period, all without the consent of Baghdad. Israel was also the largest customer of oil sold by ISIS, who used Kurdish-controlled Kirkuk to sell oil in areas of Iraq and Syria under its control. To do this in ISIS-controlled territories of Iraq, the oil was sent first to the Kurdish city of Zakho near the Turkey border and then into Turkey, deceptively labeled as oil that originated from Iraqi Kurdistan. ISIS did nothing to impede the KRG's own oil exports even though they easily could have given that the Kirkuk-Ceyhan export pipeline passed through areas that ISIS had occupied for years.

In retrospect, and following revelations from Wikileaks and new information regarding the background of relevant actors, it has been revealed that much of the covert maneuvering behind the scenes that enabled this scenario intimately involved the United States' powerful pro-Israel lobby. Now, with a similar scenario unfolding in Syria, efforts by the U.S.' Israel lobby to manipulate U.S. foreign policy in order to shift the flow of hydrocarbons for Israel's benefit can instead be seen as a pattern of behavior, not an isolated incident.

"Keep the oil" for Israel

After recent shifts in the Trump administration in its Syria policy, U.S. troops have controversially been kept in Syria to " keep the oil ," with U.S. military officials subsequently claiming that doing so was "a subset of the counter-ISIS mission." However, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper later claimed that another factor behind U.S. insistence on guarding Syrian oil fields was to prevent the extraction and subsequent sale of Syrian oil by either the Syrian government or Russia.

One key, yet often overlooked, player behind the push to prevent a full U.S. troop withdrawal in Syria in order to "keep the oil" was current U.S. ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield. Satterfield was previously the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, where he yielded great influence over U.S. policy in both Iraq and Syria and worked closely with Brett McGurk, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran and later special presidential envoy for the U.S.-led "anti-ISIS" coalition.

Over the course of his long diplomatic career, Satterfield has been known to the U.S. government as an Israeli intelligence asset embedded in the U.S. State Department. Indeed, Satterfield was named as a major player in what is now known as the AIPAC espionage scandal, also known as the Lawrence Franklin espionage scandal, although he was oddly never charged for his role after the intervention of his superiors at the State Department in the George W. Bush administration.

David Satterfield, left, arrives in Baghdad with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, and Joey Hood, May 7, 2019. Mandel Ngan | AP

In 2005, federal prosecutors cited a U.S. government official as having illegally passed classified information to Steve Rosen, then working for AIPAC, who then passed that information to the Israeli government. That classified information included intelligence on Iran and the nature of U.S.-Israeli intelligence sharing. Subsequent media reports from the New York Times and other outlets revealed that this government official was none other than David Satterfield, who was then serving as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs.

Charges against Rosen, as well as his co-conspirator and fellow AIPAC employee Keith Weissman, were dropped in 2009 and no charges were levied against Satterfield after State Department officials shockingly claimed that Satterfield had "acted within his authority" in leaking classified information to an individual working to advance the interests of a foreign government. Richard Armitage, a neoconservative ally with a long history of ties to CIA covert operations in the Middle East and elsewhere, has since claimed that he was one of Satterfield's main defenders in conversations with the FBI during this time when he was serving as Deputy Secretary of State.

The other government official named in the indictment, former Pentagon official Lawrence Franklin, was not so lucky and was charged under the Espionage Act in 2006. Satterfield, instead of being censured for his role in leaking sensitive information to a foreign government, was subsequently promoted in 2006 to serve as the Coordinator for Iraq and Senior Adviser to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

In addition to his history of leaking classified information to AIPAC, Satterfield also has a longstanding relationship with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a controversial spin-off of AIPAC also known by its acronym WINEP. WINEP's website has long listed Satterfield as one of its experts and Satterfield has spoken at several WINEP events and policy forums, including several after his involvement with the AIPAC espionage scandal became public knowledge. However, despite his longstanding and controversial ties to the U.S. pro-Israel lobby, Satterfield's current relationship with some elements of that lobby, such as the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), is complicated at best.

While Satterfield's role in yet another reversal of a promised withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria has largely escaped media scrutiny, another individual with deep ties to the Israel lobby and Syrian "rebel" groups has also been ignored by the media, despite his outsized role in taking advantage of this new U.S. policy for Israel's benefit.

US Israel Lobby secures deal with Kurds

Earlier this year, well before Trump's new Syria policy of "keeping the oil" had officially taken shape, another individual with deep ties to the U.S. Israel lobby secured a lucrative agreement with U.S.-backed Kurdish groups in Syria. An official document issued earlier this year by the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the political arm of the Kurdish majority and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a New Jersey-based company, founded and run by U.S.-Israeli dual citizen Mordechai "Motti" Kahana, was given control of the oil in territory held by the SDC.

Per the document, the SDC formally accepted the offer from Kahana's company -- Global Development Corporation (GDC) -- to represent SDC in all matters pertaining to the sale of oil extracted in territory it controls and also grants GDC "the right to explore and develop oil that is located in areas we govern."

The SDC's formal acceptance of Global Development Corporation's offer to develop Syrian oil fields. Source | Al-Akhbar

The document also states that the amount of oil then being produced in SDC-controlled areas was 125,000 barrels per day and that they anticipated that this would increase to 400,000 barrels per day and that this oil is considered a foreign asset under the control of the United States by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

After the document was made public by the Lebanese outlet Al-Akhbar , the SDC claimed that it was a forgery, even though Kahana had separately confirmed its contents and shared the letter itself to the Los Angeles Times as recently as a few weeks ago. Kahana previously attempted to distance himself from the effort and told the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom in July that he had made the offer to the SDC as means to prevent the "Assad regime" of Syria from obtaining revenue from the sale of Syrian oil.

The Kurds currently hold 11 oil wells in an area controlled by the [Syrian] Democratic Forces. The overwhelming majority of Syrian oil is in that area. I don't want this oil reaching Iran, or the Assad regime."

At the time, Kahana also stated that "the moment the Trump administration gives its approval, we can begin to export this oil at fair prices."

Given that Kahana has openly confirmed that he is representing the SDC's oil business shortly after Trump's adoption of the controversial "keep the oil policy," it seems plausible that Kahana has now received the approval needed for his company to export the oil on behalf of the SDC. Several media reports have speculated that, if Kahana's efforts go forward unimpeded, the Syrian oil will be sold to Israel.

However, considering Turkey's aversion to engaging in any activities that may benefit the PKK-SDF – there are considerable obstacles to Kahana's plans. While the SDF -- along with assistance from U.S. troops -- still controls several oil fields in Syria, experts assert that they can only realistically sell the oil to the Syrian government. Not even the Iraqi Kurds are a candidate, considering Baghdad's firm control over the Iraq-Syria border and the KRG's weakened state after its failed independence bid in late 2017.

Regardless, Kahana's involvement in this affair is significant for a few reasons. First, Kahana has been a key player in the promotion and funding of radical groups in Syria and has even been caught hiring so-called "rebels" to kidnap Syrian Jews and take them to Israel against their will. It was Kahana, for instance, who financed and orchestrated the now infamous trip of the late Senator John McCain to Syria, where he met with Syrian "rebels" including Khalid al-Hamad – a "moderate" rebel who gained notoriety after a video of him eating the heart of a Syrian Army soldier went viral online . McCain had also admitted meeting with ISIS members, though it is unclear if he did so on this trip or another trip to Syria.

In addition, Kahana was also the mastermind behind the "Caesar" controversy, whereby a Syrian using the pseudonym "Caesar" was brought to the U.S. by Kahana and went on to make claims regarding torture and other crimes allegedly committed by the Assad-led government Syria, claims which were later discredited by independent analysts. He was also very involved in Israel's failed efforts to establish a "safe zone" in Southern Syria as a means of covertly expanding Israel's territory from the occupied Golan Heights and into Quneitra.

Notably, Kahana has deep ties -- not just to efforts to overthrow the Syrian government -- but also to U.S. Israel lobby, including the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) where Satterfield is as an expert. For instance, Kahana was a key player in a 2013 symposium organized by WINEP along with Syrian opposition groups intimately involved in the arming of so-called "rebels." One of the other participants in the symposium alongside Kahana was Mouaz Moustafa, director of the "Syrian Emergency Task Force" who assisted Kahana in bringing McCain to Syria in 2013. Moustafa was listed as a WINEP expert on the organization's website but was later mysteriously deleted.

Kahana is also intimately involved with the Israeli American Council (IAC), a pro-Israel lobby organization, as a team member of its national conference. IAC was co-founded and is chaired by Adam Milstein , a multimillionaire and convicted felon who is also on the boards of AIPAC, StandWithUs, Birthright and other prominent pro-Israel lobby organizations. One of IAC's top donors is Sheldon Adelson, who is also the top donor to President Trump as well as the entire Republican Party.

Though the machinations of both Kahana and Satterfield to guide U.S. policy in order to manipulate the flow of Syria's hydrocarbons for Israel's benefit may seem shocking to some, this same tactic of pro-Israel lobbyists using the Kurds to illegally sell a country's oil to Israel was developed a few years prior, not in Syria, but Iraq. Notably, the individuals responsible for that policy in Iraq shared connections to several of the same pro-Israel lobby organizations as both Satterfield and Kahana, suggesting that their recent efforts in Syria are not an isolated event, but a pattern.

War against ISIS is a war for oil

In an email dated June 15, 2014, James Franklin Jeffrey (former Ambassador to Iraq and Turkey and current U.S. Special Representative for Syria) revealed to Stephen Hadley, a former George Bush administration advisor then working at the government-funded United States Institute of Peace, his intent to advise the KRG in order to sustain Kirkuk's oil production. The plan, as Jeffery described it, was to supply both the Kurdistan province with oil and allow the export of oil via Kirkuk-Ceyhan to Israel, robbing Iraq of its oil and strengthening the country's Kurdish region along with its regional government's bid for autonomy.

Jeffrey, whose hawkish views on Iran and Syria are well-known , mentioned that Brett McGurk, the U.S.' main negotiator between Baghdad and the KRG, was acting as his liaison with the KRG. McGurk, who had served in various capacities in Iraq under both Bush and Obama, was then also serving Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran. A year later, he would be made the special presidential envoy for the U.S.-led "anti-ISIS" coalition and, as previously mentioned, worked closely with David Satterfield.

James Jeffrey, left, meets with Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani, April 8, 2011, at an airport in Irbil, Iraq. Chip Somodevilla | AP

Jeffrey was then a private citizen not currently employed by the government and was used as a non-governmental channel in the pursuit of the plans described in the leaked emails published by WikiLeaks. Jeffrey's behind-the-scenes activities with regards to the KRG's oil exports were done clandestinely, largely because he was then employed by a prominent arm of the U.S.' pro-Israel lobby.

At the time of the email, Jeffrey was serving as a distinguished fellow (2013-2018) at WINEP. As previously mentioned, WINEP is a pro-Israel foreign policy think-tank that espouses neoconservative views and was created in 1985 by researchers that had hastily left AIPAC to escape investigations against the organization that were related to some of its members conducting espionage on behalf of Israel. AIPAC, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, is the largest registered Israel lobbyist organization in the US (albeit registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act would be more suitable), and, in addition to the 1985 incident that led to WINEP's creation, has had members indicted for espionage against the U.S. on Israel's behalf.

WINEP's launch was funded by former President of the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, Barbara Weinberg, who is its founding president and constant Chairman Emerita. Nicknamed 'Barbi', she is the wife of the late Lawrence Weinberg who was President of AIPAC from 1976-81 and who JJ Goldberg, author of the 1997 book Jewish Power, referred to as one of a select few individuals who essentially dominated AIPAC regardless of its elected leadership. Co-founder alongside Weinberg was Martin Indyk. Indyk, U.S. Ambassador to Israel (1995-97) and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (1997-99), led the AIPAC research time that formed WINEP to escape the aforementioned investigations.

WINEP has historically received funding from donors who donate to causes of special interest for Zionism and Israel. Among its trustees are extremely prominent names in political Zionism and funders of other Israel Lobby organizations, such as Charles and Edgar Bronfman and the Chernicks . Its membership remains dominated by individuals who have spent their careers promoting Israeli interests in the U.S.

WINEP has become more well-known, and arguably more controversial, in recent years after its research director famously called for false-flag attacks to trigger a U.S. war with Iran in 2012, statements well-aligned with longstanding attempts by the Israel Lobby to bring about such a war.

A worthy partner in crime

Stephen Hadley, another private citizen who Jeffrey evidently considered as a partner in his covert dealings discussed in the emails, also has his own past of involvement with Israel-specific intrigues and meddling.

During the G.W. Bush administration, Hadley tagged along with neoconservatives in their numerous creations of fake intelligence and efforts to incriminate Iraq for possessing chemical and nuclear weapons. Hadley was one of the promoters from within the U.S. government of the false claim that 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta met with Iraqi officials in Prague.

Hadley also worked with then-Chief of Staff to the Vice President, Lewis Libby -- a neoconservative and former lawyer for the Mossad-agent and billionaire Marc Rich -- to discredit a CIA investigation into claims of Iraq purchasing yellowcake uranium from Niger. That claim famously appeared in Bush's State of the Union address in 2002.

What this particular claim had in common with the 'Iraq meets Atta in Prague' disinformation, and other famous lies against Iraq fabricated and circulated by the dense neocon network, was its source: Israel and pro-Israel partisans.

The distribution network of these now long-debunked claims was none other than the neoconservatives who act a veritable Israeli fifth column that has long sought to promote Israeli foreign policy objectives as being in the interest of the United States. In this, Hadley played his part by helping to ensure that the United States was railroaded into a war that had long been promoted by both Israeli and American neoconservatives, particularly Richard Perle -- an advisor to WINEP -- who had been promoting regime change in Iraq for Israel's explicit benefit for decades.

In short, for covert intrigues to serve Israel that would likely be met with protest if pitched to the government for implementation as policy, Hadley's resume was impressive.

Israeli interests pursued through covert channels

Given his employment at WINEP during this time, Jeffrey's intent to advise the KRG to sustain Kirkuk's oil production despite the seizure of the Baiji oil refinery by ISIS is somewhat suspect, especially since it required that 100,000 barrels per day pass through ISIS-controlled territory unimpeded.

Jeffrey's email from June 14, therefore, demonstrated that he had foreknowledge that ISIS would not disturb the KRG as long as the Kurds redirected oil that was intended originally for Baiji to the Kirkuk-Ceyhan export pipeline, facilitating its export and later sale to Israel.

Notably, up until its liberation in mid-2015 by the Iraqi government and aligned Shia paramilitaries, ISIS kept the refinery running and, only upon their retreat, destroyed the facility.

In July 2014, the KRG began confidently supplying Kurdish areas with Kirkuk's oil per the plan laid out by Jeffrey in the aforementioned email. Baghdad soon became aware of the arrangement and lashed out at Israel and Turkey, whose banks were used by the KRG to receive the oil revenue from Israel.

One would normally expect ISIS to be opposed to such collusion given that the KRG, while a beneficiary of the ISIS-Baghdad conflict, was not an ally of ISIS. Thus, a foreign power with strategic ties to ISIS used its close ties to the KRG and assurances that it was on-board for the oil trade, to deliver a credible guarantee that ISIS would 'cooperate' and that a boom in production and exports was in the cards.

This foreign power -- acting as a guarantor for the ISIS-KRG understanding vis-a-vis the illegal oil economy, represented by Jeffrey and clearly not on good terms with Iraq's government -- was quite clearly Israel.

Israel established considerable financial support as well as the provision of armaments to other extremist terrorist groups active near the border between the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Southern Syria when war first broke out in Syria in 2011. At least four of these extremist groups were led by individuals with direct ties to Israeli intelligence . These same groups, sometimes promoted as 'moderates' by some media, were actively fighting Syria's government – an enemy of Israel and ally of Iran – before ISIS existed and eagerly partnered with ISIS when it expanded its campaign into Syria.

Furthermore, Israeli officials have publicly admitted maintaining regular communication with ISIS cells in Southern Syria and have publicly expressed their desire that ISIS not be defeated in the country. In Libya, Israeli Mossad operatives have been found embedded within ISIS , suggesting that Israel has covert but definite ties with the group outside of Syria as well.

Israel has also long promoted the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan, with Israel having provided Iraq's Kurds with weapons, training and teams of Mossad advisers as far back as the 1960s . More recently, Israel was the only state to support the KRG independence referendum in September 2017 despite its futility, hinting at the regard Israel holds for the KRG. Iraq's government subsequently militarily defeated the KRG's push for statehood and reclaimed Kirkuk's oil fields with assistance from the Shia paramilitaries which were responsible for defeating ISIS in the area.

A 2014 map shows the areas under ISIS and Kurdish control at the time. Source | Telegraph

This arrangement orchestrated by Jeffrey, served the long-time neoconservative-Israeli agenda of empowering the Kurds, selling Iraqi oil to Israel and weakening Iraq's Baghdad-based government.

WINEP's close association with AIPAC, which has spied on the U.S. on behalf of Israel several times in the past with no consequence, combined with Jeffrey's long-time acquaintance with key U.S. figures in Iraq, such as McGurk, provided an ideal opening for Israel in Iraq. Following the implementation of Jeffrey's plan, Israeli imports of KRG oil constituted 77 percent of Israel's total oil imports during the KRG's occupation of Kirkuk.

The WINEP connection to the KRG-Israel oil deal demonstrates the key role played by the U.S. pro-Israel Lobby, not only in terms of sustaining U.S. financial aid to Israel and ratcheting up tensions with Israel's adversaries but also in facilitating the more covert aspects of U.S.-Israeli cooperation and the implementation of policies that favor Israel.

Yet the role played by the U.S. Israel lobby in this capacity, particularly in terms of orchestrating oil sale agreements for Israel's benefit, is hardly exclusive to Iraq and can accurately be described as a repeated pattern of behavior.


By Agha Hussain and Whitney Webb
Source: MintPress News

[Dec 21, 2019] Trump is stealing Syria's oil for the Saudis caucus99percent

Dec 21, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

caucus99percent free-range politics, organic community

Trump is stealing Syria's oil for the Saudis

gjohnsit on Fri, 12/20/2019 - 4:28pm President Trump recently said the quiet part out loud .

"We may have to fight for the oil. It's O.K.," he said. "Maybe somebody else wants the oil, in which case they have a hell of a fight. But there's massive amounts of oil." The United States, he added, should be able to take some of Syria's oil. "What I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an ExxonMobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly," he said. The goal would be to "spread out the wealth."

At the very least this amounts to pillaging, but then respect for the law isn't on Trump agenda.


Trump is "protecting" Syria's oil in the exact same way that the mob "protects" a small businessman from arson.
Not kind of the same way. EXACTLY the same way.

Trump comment US intends to keep the oil in Syria. Guard with US armored forces. Bring in US oil companies to modernize the field. WHAT ARE WE BECOMING.... PIRATES? If ISIS is defeated we lack Congressional authority to stay. The oil belongs to Syria. https://t.co/Leko5s1hXF

-- Barry R McCaffrey (@mccaffreyr3) October 28, 2019

So what "great companies" would be willing "to go in there" and "spread out the wealth?"
That company turned out to be ARAMCO .

Sources have disclosed that the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, commonly referred to as Aramco, has sent a delegation of experts to discuss investment opportunities in the oil fields and wells in the Eastern Syrian city of Deir Ez-Zor.

According to the oppositionist news site Deir Ezzor 24, Aramco "started implementing practical steps in this field, where a group of the company arrived in an official mission to al-Omar oil field in the eastern Deir Ezzor countryside."

There is no legal means to do this. This is the outright theft of resources.
And it keeps getting worse.

It is believed that the investments will be made through contracts signed between Aramco and the US government , whose armed forces have steadily been increasing their military presence in terms of manpower and equipment around the oil fields.

That is trafficking in the sale of stolen property, but it gets even worse than that.

The Kurdish Syrian Defence Forces (formerly known as the YPG) currently control most of the country's oil fields and have shifted towards an alliance with the Syrian government after losing American protection in the north-east of the country in the wake of Trump's "withdrawal" and ensuing Turkish offensive dubbed "Operation Peace Spring" to clear the area of Kurdish militias

So we can't even pretend to be doing this for the benefit of the local population, our regional allies, or any other justification except naked theft.
Trump should be in jail for this.

"I think in this case we are not talking about an operation associated with a huge share of risk, but, on the contrary, about a well-thought-out operation."
- Professor RSUH Grigory Kosach

The Pentagon is enthusiastically cooperating in this blatant violation of international law.
US troops have returned to six out of 16 bases in Syria that had been previously abandoned during the October withdrawal.
What's more, our military is settling in for the long haul.

Barely two months after US President Donald Trump's demagogic announcement that he was pulling US troops out of northeastern Syria to fulfill his campaign promise to bring a halt to Washington's "endless wars," the senior civilian and uniformed Pentagon chiefs told a House panel Wednesday that there is no foreseeable end to the American presence there.
...
Esper went even further, insisting that US military forces had to remain in Syria not so much to counter any existing military force, but rather an "ideology".

"I think the defeat, if you will, will be hard because it's an ideology," Esper told the House panel after repeated questions regarding US strategy in Syria. "It's hard to foresee anytime soon we would stamp it out," he added.

Everyone that somehow finds a way to defend Trump based on his so-called aversion to foreign wars needs to take a good, hard look at this. Because THIS is 100% Trump's doing.

gjohnsit on Fri, 12/20/2019 - 4:44pm
Back in May this happened

4 people killed

US-led forces have blown up three oil tankers in Syria as the United States increases its pressure on Syria by thwarting the oil trade between the PKK/YPG and the Assad regime, according to local sources quoted by several media sources.

The YPG are our Kurdish allies that the warmongers were so concerned about just a few months ago. We "care" about them, right up until they want to sell oil to the Assad regime. Then they deserve death.
That's OUR oil.

CB on Fri, 12/20/2019 - 6:54pm
I don't think Trump really knows WTF he is doing.

I think the powerful foreign policy cabal in Washington have him by the balls and give them a squeeze when he gets off point.

One day he is pulling out. The next day he says he staying in to "protect" the oil fields. The third day he sends US forces back in so he can sell the oil so that the Syrians don't "steal" it.

What's going to happen on the fourth day when a half dozen American soldiers get eviscerated by a roadside bomb while on patrol?

edg on Fri, 12/20/2019 - 9:04pm
Rumsfeld was right.

War can pay for itself if you steal enough oil. We'll turn a good ROI on our Syria adventure before you know it.

snoopydawg on Fri, 12/20/2019 - 9:30pm
Doing illegal wars is an impeachable offense

but just like congress won't make him withdraw troops from Yemen and stop supporting the Saudis, they are in complete agreement with him doing that.

Israel bought Syria's oil from ISIS all during Obama's tenure as he watched them take it out through Turkey.

But it's Russian aggression that is causing all the problems in the Middle East right? And Iran's too. Why we can't make deals for resources instead of spending gawd only knows how much money. But then the defense companies wouldn't get all of our money now would they? We pay for the defense companies CEOs large bonuses and salaries. Great gig!

[Dec 21, 2019] Extortion (noun) The practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats

May 05, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Realist , April 30, 2019 at 14:20

Regarding your last sentence: this is the great truth that Washington's world hegemonists would have you forget. Taking into account the untapped vast resources of Canada and Alaska and its expansive offshore economic zones extending deep into the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Ocean, the North American anglosphere could be entirely self-sufficient and do quite nicely on its own for hundreds of years to come, it just wouldn't be the sole tyrannical state presumably ruling the entire planet.

Why, it might even entertain the idea of actually cooperating with other regional powers like Russia, China, the EU, India, Iran, Turkey, the Middle East, greater central Asia, Latin America and even Africa to everyone's benefit, rather than bullying them all because god ordained us to be the boss of all humans.

America's major malfunction is its lack of historical roots compared to the other societies mentioned. All those places had thousands of years to refine their sundry cultures and international relationships, certainly through trial and error and many horrible setbacks, most notably wars, famines, pestilence, genocide and human bondage which people did not have the foresight to nip in the bud. They learned by their mistakes and some, like the great world wars, were doozies.

The United States, and some of its closest homologues like Canada, Australia, Brazil and Argentina, were thrown together very rapidly as part of developing colonial empires. It was created through the brute actions of a handful of megalomaniacal oligarchs of their day. What worked to suppress vast tracts of aboriginal homelands, often through genocide and virtual extinction of the native populations, was so effective that it was institutionalized in the form of slavery and reckless exploitation of the local environment. These "great leaders," "pioneers" and "founding fathers" were not about to give up a set of principles -- no matter how sick and immoral -- which they knew to "work" and accrued to them great power and riches. They preferred to label it "American exceptionalism" and force it upon the whole rest of the world, including long established regional powers -- cultures going back to antiquity -- and not just conveniently sketched "burdens of the white man."

No, ancient cultures like China, India, Persia and so forth could obviously be improved for all concerned merely by allowing a handful of Western Europeans to own all their property and run all their affairs. That grand plan fell apart for most of the European powers in the aftermath of World War Two, but Washington has held tough and never given up its designs of micromanaging and exploiting the whole planet. It too is soon to learn its lesson and lose its empire. Either that or it will take the world down in flames as it tries to cling to all that it never really owned or deserved. The most tragic (or maybe just amusing) part is that Washington still had most of the world believing its bullshit about exceptionalism and indispensability until it decided it had to emulate every tyrannical empire that ever collapsed before it.

Realist , April 30, 2019 at 02:08

"ex·tor·tion /ik?stτrSH(?)n/ noun The practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats."

"Racketeering refers to crimes committed through extortion or coercion. A racketeer attempts to obtain money or property from another person, usually through intimidation or force. The term is typically associated with organized crime."

I see. So, American foreign policy, as applied to both its alleged enemies and presumed allies, essentially amounts to an exercise in organised crime. So much for due process, free trade, peaceful co-existence, magical rainbows and other such hypocritical platitudes dispensed for domestic consumption in place of the heavy-handed threats routinely delivered to Washington's targets.

That's quite in keeping with the employment of war crimes as standard "tactics, techniques and procedures" on the battlefield which was recently admitted to us by Senator Jim Molan on the "60 Minutes" news show facsimile and discussed in one of yesterday's forums on this blog.

Afghanistan was promised a carpet of gold or a carpet of bombs as incentive to bend to our will (and that of Unocal which, unlike Nordstream, was a pipeline Washington wanted built). Iraq was promised and delivered "shock and awe" after a secretary of state had declared the mass starvation of that country's children as well worth the effort. They still can't find all the pieces left of the Libyan state. Syria was told it would be stiffed on any American contribution to its rebuilding for the effrontery of actually beating back the American-recruited, trained and financed ISIS terrorist brigades. Now it's being deliberately starved of both its energy and food requirements by American embargoes on its own resources! North Korea was promised utter annihilation by Yankee nukes before Kim's summit with our great leader unless it submitted totally to his will, or more likely that of Pompous Pompeo, the man who pulls his strings. Venezuela is treated to cyber-hacked power outages and shortages of food, medicines, its own gold bullion, income from its own international petroleum sales and, probably because someone in Washington thinks it's funny, even toilet paper. All they have to do to get relief is kick out the president they elected and replace him with Washington's chosen puppet! Yep, freedom and democracy blah, blah, blah. And don't even ask what the kids in Yemen got for Christmas from Uncle Sam this year. (He probably stole their socks.) A real American patriot will laughingly take Iran to task for ever believing in the first place that Washington could be negotiated with in good faith. All they had to do was ask the Native Americans (or the Russians) how the Yanks keep their word and honor their treaties. It was their own fault they were taken for suckers.

[Dec 21, 2019] Syria Accuses US Of Stealing Over 40 Tons Of Its Gold by Eric Zuesse

Mar 08, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

by Tyler Durden Fri, 03/08/2019 - 23:55 240 SHARES Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The Syrian National News Agency headlined on February 26th, "Gold deal between United States and Daesh" (Daesh is ISIS) and reported that,

Information from local sources said that US army helicopters have already transported the gold bullions under cover of darkness on Sunday [February 24th], before transporting them to the United States.

The sources said that tens of tons that Daesh had been keeping in their last hotbed in al-Baghouz area in Deir Ezzor countryside have been handed to the Americans, adding up to other tons of gold that Americans have found in other hideouts for Daesh, making the total amount of gold taken by the Americans to the US around 50 tons, leaving only scraps for the SDF [Kurdish] militias that serve them [the US operation].

Recently, sources said that the area where Daesh leaders and members have barricaded themselves in, contains around 40 tons of gold and tens of millions of dollars.

Allegedly, "US occupation forces in the Syrian al-Jazeera area made a deal with Daesh terrorists, by which Washington gets tens of tons of gold that the terror organization had stolen, in exchange for providing safe passage for the terrorists and their leaders from the areas in Deir Ezzor where they are located."

ISIS was financing its operations largely by the theft of oil from the oil wells in the Deir Ezzor area, Syria's oil-producing region, and they transported and sold this stolen oil via their allied forces, through Turkey, which was one of those US allies trying to overthrow Syria's secular Government and install a Sunni fundamentalist regime that would be ruled from Riyadh (i.e., controlled by the Saud family) . This gold is the property of the Syrian Government, which owns all that oil and the oil wells, which ISIS had captured (stolen), and then sold. Thus, this gold is from sale of that stolen black-market oil, which was Syria's property.

The US Government claims to be anti-ISIS, but actually didn't even once bomb ISIS in Syria until Russia started bombing ISIS in Syria on 30 September 2015, and the US had actually been secretly arming ISIS there so as to help ISIS and especially Al Qaeda (and the US was strongly protecting Al Qaeda in Syria ) to overthrow Syria's secular and non-sectarian Government. Thus, whereas Russia started bombing ISIS in Syria on 30 September 2015, America (having become embarrassed) started bombing ISIS in Syria on 16 November 2015 . The US Government's excuse was "This is our first strike against tanker trucks, and to minimize risks to civilians, we conducted a leaflet drop prior to the strike." They pretended it was out of compassion -- not in order to extend for as long as possible ISIS's success in taking over territory in Syria. (And, under Trump, on the night of 2 March 2019, the US rained down upon ISIS in northeast Syria the excruciating and internationally banned white phosphorous to burn ISIS and its hostages alive, which Trump's predecessor Barack Obama had routinely done to burn alive the residents in Donetsk and other parts of eastern former Ukraine where voters had voted more than 90% for the democratically elected Ukrainian President whom Obama's coup in Ukraine had replaced . It was a way to eliminate some of the most-undesired voters -- people who must never again be voting in a Ukrainian national election, not even if that region subsequently does become conquered by the post-coup, US-imposed, regime. The land there is wanted; its residents certainly are not wanted by the Obama-imposed regime.) America's line was: Russia just isn't as 'compassionate' as America. Zero Hedge aptly headlined "'Get Out Of Your Trucks And Run Away': US Gives ISIS 45 Minute Warning On Oil Tanker Strikes" . Nobody exceeds the United States Government in sheer hypocrisy.

The US Government evidently thinks that the public are fools, idiots. America's allies seem to be constantly amazed at how successful that approach turns out to be.

Indeed, on 28 November 2012, Syria News headlined "Emir of Qatar & Prime Minister of Turkey Steal Syrian Oil Machinery in Broad Daylight" and presented video allegedly showing it (but unfortunately providing no authentication of the date and locale of that video).

Jihadists were recruited from throughout the world to fight against Syria's secular Government. Whereas ISIS was funded mainly by black-market sales of oil from conquered areas, the Al-Qaeda-led groups were mainly funded by the Sauds and other Arab royal families and their retinues, the rest of their aristocracy. On 13 December 2013, BBC headlined "Guide to the Syrian rebels" and opened "There are believed to be as many as 1,000 armed opposition groups in Syria, commanding an estimated 100,000 fighters." Except in the Kurdish areas in Syria's northeast, almost all of those fighters were being led by Al Qaeda's Syrian Branch, al-Nusra. Britain's Center on Religion & Politics headlined on 21 December 2015, "Ideology and Objectives of the Syrian Rebellion" and reported: "If ISIS is defeated, there are at least 65,000 fighters belonging to other Salafi-jihadi groups ready to take its place." Almost all of those 65,000 were trained and are led by Syria's Al Qaeda (Nusra), which was protected by the US

In September 2016 a UK official "FINAL REPORT OF THE TASK FORCE ON COMBATING TERRORIST AND FOREIGN FIGHTER TRAVEL" asserted that, "Over 25,000 foreign fighters have traveled to the battlefield to enlist with Islamist terrorist groups, including at least 4,500 Westerners. More than 250 individuals from the United States have also joined." Even just 25,000 (that official lowest estimate) was a sizable US proxy-army of religious fanatics to overthrow Syria's Government.

On 26 November 2015, the first of Russia's videos of Russia's bombing ISIS oil trucks headed into Turkey was bannered at a US military website "Russia Airstrike on ISIS Oil Tankers" , and exactly a month later, on 26 December 2015, Britain's Daily Express headlined "WATCH: Russian fighter jets smash ISIS oil tankers after spotting 12,000 at Turkish border" . This article, reporting around twelve thousand ISIS oil-tanker trucks heading into Turkey, opened: "The latest video, released by the Russian defence ministry, shows the tankers bunched together as they make their way along the road. They are then blasted by the fighter jet." The US military had nothing comparable to offer to its 'news'-media. Britain's Financial Times headlined on 14 October 2015, "Isis Inc: how oil fuels the jihadi terrorists" . Only America's allies were involved in this commerce with ISIS -- no nation that supported Syria's Government was participating in this black market of stolen Syrian goods. So, it's now clear that a lot of that stolen oil was sold for gold as Syria's enemy-nations' means of buying that oil from ISIS. They'd purchase it from ISIS, but not from Syria's Government, the actual owner.

On 30 November 2015 Israel's business-news daily Globes News Service bannered "Israel has become the main buyer for oil from ISIS controlled territory, report" , and reported:

An estimated 20,000-40,000 barrels of oil are produced daily in ISIS controlled territory generating $1-1.5 million daily profit for the terrorist organization. The oil is extracted from Dir A-Zur in Syria and two fields in Iraq and transported to the Kurdish city of Zakhu in a triangle of land near the borders of Syria, Iraq and Turkey. Israeli and Turkish mediators come to the city and when prices are agreed, the oil is smuggled to the Turkish city of Silop marked as originating from Kurdish regions of Iraq and sold for $15-18 per barrel (WTI and Brent Crude currently sell for $41 and $45 per barrel) to the Israeli mediator, a man in his 50s with dual Greek-Israeli citizenship known as Dr. Farid. He transports the oil via several Turkish ports and then onto other ports, with Israel among the main destinations.

After all, Israel too wants to overthrow Syria's secular, non-sectarian Government, which would be replaced by rulers selected by the Saud family , who are the US Government's main international ally .

On 9 November 2014, when Turkey was still a crucial US ally trying to overthrow Syria's secular Government (and this was before the failed 15 July 2016 US-backed coup-attempt to overthrow and replace Turkey's Government so as to impose an outright US stooge), Turkey was perhaps ISIS's most crucial international backer . Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's leader, had received no diploma beyond k-12, and all of that schooling was in Sunni schools and based on the Quran . (He pretended, however, to have a university diploma.) On 15 July 2015, AWD News headlined "Turkish President's daughter heads a covert medical corps to help ISIS injured members" . On 2 December 2015, a Russian news-site headlined "Defense Ministry: Erdogan and his family are involved in the illegal supply of oil" ; so, the Erdogan family itself was religiously committed to ISIS's fighters against Syria, and they were key to the success of the US operation against Syrians -- theft from Syrians. The great investigative journalist Christof Lehmann, who was personally acquainted with many of the leading political figures in Africa and the Middle East, headlined on 22 June 2014, "US Embassy in Ankara Headquarter for ISIS War on Iraq – Hariri Insider" , and he reported that the NATO-front the Atlantic Council had held a meeting in Turkey during 22-23 of November 2013 at which high officials of the US and allied governments agreed that they were going to take over Syria's oil, and that they even were threatening Iraq's Government for its not complying with their demands to cooperate on overthrowing Syria's Government. So, behind the scenes, this conquest of Syria was the clear aim by the US and all of its allies.

The US had done the same thing when it took over Ukraine by a brutal coup in February 2014 : It grabbed the gold. Iskra News in Russian reported, on 7 March 2014 , that "At 2 a.m. this morning ... an unmarked transport plane was on the runway at Borosipol Airport" near Kiev in the west, and that, "According to airport staff, before the plane came to the airport, four trucks and two Volkswagen minibuses arrived, all the truck license plates missing." This was as translated by Michel Chossudovsky at Global Research headlining on 14 March, "Ukraine's Gold Reserves Secretly Flown Out and Confiscated by the New York Federal Reserve?" in which he noted that, when asked, "A spokesman for the New York Fed said simply, 'Any inquiry regarding gold accounts should be directed to the account holder.'" The load was said to be "more than 40 heavy boxes." Chossudovsky noted that, "The National Bank of Ukraine (Central Bank) estimated Ukraine's gold reserves in February to be worth $1.8 billion dollars." It was allegedly 36 tons. The US, according to Victoria Nuland ( Obama's detail-person overseeing the coup ) had invested around $5 billion in the coup. Was her installed Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk cleaning out the nation's gold reserves in order to strip the nation so that the nation's steep indebtedness for Russian gas would never be repaid to Russia's oligarchs? Or was he doing it as a payoff for Nuland's having installed him? Or both? In any case: Russia was being squeezed by this fascist Ukrainian-American ploy.

On 14 November 2014, a Russian youtube headlined "In Ukraine, there is no more gold and currency reserves" and reported that there is "virtually no gold. There is a small amount of gold bars, but it's just 1%" of before the coup. Four days later, bannered "Ukraine Admits Its Gold Is Gone: 'There Is Almost No Gold Left In The Central Bank Vault'" . From actually 42.3 tons just before the coup, it was now far less than one ton.

The Syria operation was about oil, gold, and guns. However, most of America's support was to Al-Qaeda-led jihadists, not to ISIS-jihadists. As the great independent investigative journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva reported on 2 July 2017 :

"In December of last year while reporting on the battle of Aleppo as a correspondent for Bulgarian media I found and filmed 9 underground warehouses full of heavy weapons with Bulgaria as their country of origin. They were used by Al Nusra Front (Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria designated as a terrorist organization by the UN)."

The US had acquired weapons from around the world, and shipped them (and Gaytandzhieva's report even displayed the transit-documents) through a network of its embassies, into Syria, for Nusra-led forces inside Syria. Almost certainly, the US Government's central command center for the entire arms-smuggling operation was the world's largest embassy, which is America's embassy in Baghdad.

Furthermore, On 8 March 2013, Richard Spenser of Britain's Telegraph reported that Croatia's Jutarnji List newspaper had reported that "3,000 tons of weapons dating back to the former Yugoslavia have been sent in 75 planeloads from Zagreb airport to the rebels, largely via Jordan since November. The airlift of dated but effective Yugoslav-made weapons meets key concerns of the West, and especially Turkey and the United States, who want the rebels to be better armed to drive out the Assad regime."

Also, a September 2014 study by Conflict Armaments Research (CAR), titled "Islamic State Weapons in Iraq and Syria" , reported that not only east-European, but even US-made, weapons were being "captured from Islamic State forces" by Kurds who were working for the Americans, and that this was very puzzling and disturbing to those Kurds, who were risking their lives to fight against those jihadists.

In December 2017, CAR headlined "Weapons of the Islamic State" and reported that "this materiel was rapidly captured by IS forces, only to be deployed by the group against international coalition forces." The assumption made there was that the transfer of weapons to ISIS was all unintentional.

That report ignored contrary evidence, which I summed up on 2 September 2017 headlining "Russian TV Reports US Secretly Backing ISIS in Syria" , and reporting there also from the Turkish Government an admission that the US was working with Turkey to funnel surviving members of Iraq's ISIS into the Deir Ezzor part of Syria to help defeat Syria's Government in that crucial oil-producing region. Moreover, at least one member of the 'rebels' that the US was training at Al Tanf on Syria's Jordanian border had quit because his American trainers were secretly diverting some of their weapons to ISIS. Furthermore: why hadn't the US bombed Syrian ISIS before Russia entered the Syrian war on 30 September 2015? America talked lots about its supposed effort against ISIS, but why did US wait till 16 November 2015 before taking action, "'Get Out Of Your Trucks And Run Away': US Gives ISIS 45 Minute Warning On Oil Tanker Strikes" ?

So, regardless of whether the US Government uses jihadists as its proxy-forces, or uses fascists as its proxy-forces, it grabs the gold -- and grabs the oil, and takes whatever else it can.

This is today's form of imperialism.

Grab what you can, and run. And call it 'fighting for freedom and democracy and human rights and against corruption'. And the imperial regime's allies watch in amazement, as they take their respective cuts of the loot. That's the deal, and they call it 'fighting for freedom and democracy and human rights and against corruption around the world'. That's the way it works. International gangland. That's the reality, while most of the public think it's instead really "fighting for freedom and democracy and human rights and against corruption around the world." For example, as RT reported on Sunday , March 3rd, about John Bolton's effort at regime-change in Venezuela, Bolton said: "I'd like to see as broad a coalition as we can put together to replace Maduro, to replace the whole corrupt regime,' Bolton told CNN's Jake Tapper." Trump's regime wants to bring clean and democratic government to the poor Venezuelans, just like Bush's did to the Iraqis, and Obama's did to the Libyans and to the Syrians and to the Ukrainians. And Trump, who pretends to oppose Obama's regime-change policies, alternately expands them and shrinks them. Though he's slightly different from Obama on domestic policies, he never, as the US President, condemns any of his predecessors' many coups and invasions, all of which were disasters for everybody except America's and allies' billionaires. They're all in on the take.

The American public were suckered into destroying Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011, Syria in 2011-now, and so many other countries, and still haven't learned anything, other than to keep trusting the allegations of this lying and psychopathically vicious and super-aggressive Government and of its stenographic 'news'-media. When is enough finally enough ? Never? If not never, then when ? Or do most people never learn? Or maybe they don't really care. Perhaps that's the problem.

On March 4th, the Jerusalem Post bannered "IRAN AND TURKEY MEDIA PUSH CONSPIRACY THEORIES ABOUT US, ISIS: Claims pushed by Syrian regime media assert that US gave ISIS safe passage out of Baghuz in return for gold, a conspiracy picked up in Tehran and Ankara" , and simply assumed that it's false -- but provided no evidence to back their speculation up -- and they closed by asserting "The conspiracies, which are manufactured in Damascus, are disseminated to Iraq and Turkey, both of whom oppose US policy in eastern Syria." Why do people even subscribe to such 'news'-sources as that? The key facts are hidden, the speculation that's based on their own prejudices replaces whatever facts exist. Do the subscribers, to that, simply want to be deceived? Are most people that stupid?

Back on 21 December 2018, one of the US regime's top 'news'-media, the Washington Post, had headlined "Retreating ISIS army smuggled a fortune in cash and gold out of Iraq and Syria" and reported that "the Islamic State is sitting on a mountain of stolen cash and gold that its leaders stashed away to finance terrorist operations." So, it's not as if there hadn't been prior reason to believe that some day some of the gold would be found after America's defeat in Syria. Maybe they just hadn't expected this to happen quite so soon. But the regime will find ways to hoodwink its public, in the future, just as it has in the past. Unless the public wises-up (if that's even possible).

[Dec 21, 2019] Trump comes clean from world s policeman to thug running a global protection racket by Finian Cunningham

Highly recommended!
In any case withdrawal from Syria was a surprising and bold move on the Part of the Trump. You can criticizes Trump for not doing more but before that he bahvaves as a typical neocon, or a typical Republican presidents (which are the same things). And he started on this path just two month after inauguration bombing Syria under false pretences. So this is something
I think the reason of change is that Trump intuitively realized the voters are abandoning him in droves and the sizable faction of his voters who voted for him because of his promises to end foreign wars iether already defected or is ready to defect. So this is a move designed to keep them.
Notable quotes:
"... "America shouldn't be doing the fighting for every nation on earth, not being reimbursed in many cases at all. If they want us to do the fighting, they also have to pay a price," Trump said. ..."
Dec 27, 2018 | www.rt.com

President Trump's big announcement to pull US troops out of Syria and Afghanistan is now emerging less as a peace move, and more a rationalization of American military power in the Middle East. In a surprise visit to US forces in Iraq this week, Trump said he had no intention of withdrawing the troops in that country, who have been there for nearly 15 years since GW Bush invaded back in 2003.

Hinting at private discussions with commanders in Iraq, Trump boasted that US forces would in the future launch attacks from there into Syria if and when needed. Presumably that rapid force deployment would apply to other countries in the region, including Afghanistan.

In other words, in typical business-style transactional thinking, Trump sees the pullout from Syria and Afghanistan as a cost-cutting exercise for US imperialism. Regarding Syria, he has bragged about Turkey being assigned, purportedly, to "finish off" terror groups. That's Trump subcontracting out US interests.

Critics and supporters of Trump are confounded. After his Syria and Afghanistan pullout call, domestic critics and NATO allies have accused him of walking from the alleged "fight against terrorism" and of ceding strategic ground to US adversaries Russia and Iran.

'We're no longer suckers of the world!' Trump says US is respected as nation AGAIN (VIDEO)

Meanwhile, Trump's supporters have viewed his decision in more benign light, cheering the president for "sticking it to" the deep state and military establishment, assuming he's delivering on electoral promises to end overseas wars.

However, neither view gets what is going on. Trump is not scaling back US military power; he is rationalizing it like a cost-benefit analysis, as perhaps only a real-estate-wheeler-dealer-turned president would appreciate. Trump is not snubbing US militarism or NATO allies, nor is he letting loose an inner peace spirit. He is as committed to projecting American military as ruthlessly and as recklessly as any other past occupant of the White House. The difference is Trump wants to do it on the cheap.

Here's what he said to reporters on Air Force One before touching down in Iraq:

"The United States cannot continue to be the policeman of the world. It's not fair when the burden is all on us, the United States We are spread out all over the world. We are in countries most people haven't even heard about. Frankly, it's ridiculous." He added: "We're no longer the suckers, folks."

Laughably, Trump's griping about US forces "spread all over the world" unwittingly demonstrates the insatiable, monstrous nature of American militarism. But Trump paints this vice as a virtue, which, he complains, Washington gets no thanks for from the 150-plus countries around the globe that its forces are present in.

As US troops greeted him in Iraq, the president made explicit how the new American militarism would henceforth operate.

"America shouldn't be doing the fighting for every nation on earth, not being reimbursed in many cases at all. If they want us to do the fighting, they also have to pay a price," Trump said.

'We give them $4.5bn a year': Israel will still be 'good' after US withdrawal from Syria – Trump

This reiterates a big bugbear for this president in which he views US allies and client regimes as "not pulling their weight" in terms of military deployment. Trump has been browbeating European NATO members to cough up more on military budgets, and he has berated the Saudis and other Gulf Arab regimes to pay more for American interventions.

Notably, however, Trump has never questioned the largesse that US taxpayers fork out every year to Israel in the form of nearly $4 billion in military aid. To be sure, that money is not a gift because much of it goes back to the Pentagon from sales of fighter jets and missile systems.

The long-held notion that the US has served as the "world's policeman" is, of course, a travesty.

Since WWII, all presidents and the Washington establishment have constantly harped on, with self-righteousness, about America's mythical role as guarantor of global security.

Dozens of illegal wars on almost every continent and millions of civilian deaths attest to the real, heinous conduct of American militarism as a weapon to secure US corporate capitalism.

But with US economic power in historic decline amid a national debt now over $22 trillion, Washington can no longer afford its imperialist conduct in the traditional mode of direct US military invasions and occupations.

Perhaps, it takes a cost-cutting, raw-toothed capitalist like Trump to best understand the historic predicament, even if only superficially.

This gives away the real calculation behind his troop pullout from Syria and Afghanistan. Iraq is going to serve as a new regional hub for force projection on a demand-and-supply basis. In addition, more of the dirty work can be contracted out to Washington's clients like Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia, who will be buying even more US weaponry to prop the military-industrial complex.

'With almost $22 trillion of debt, the US is in no position to attack Iran'

This would explain why Trump made his hurried, unexpected visit to Iraq this week. Significantly, he said : "A lot of people are going to come around to my way of thinking", regarding his decision on withdrawing forces from Syria and Afghanistan.

Since his troop pullout plan announced on December 19, there has been serious pushback from senior Pentagon figures, hawkish Republicans and Democrats, and the anti-Trump media. The atmosphere is almost seditious against the president. Trump flying off to Iraq on Christmas night was reportedly his first visit to troops in an overseas combat zone since becoming president two years ago.

What Trump seemed to be doing was reassuring the Pentagon and corporate America that he is not going all soft and dovish. Not at all. He is letting them know that he is aiming for a leaner, meaner US military power, which can save money on the number of foreign bases by using rapid reaction forces out of places like Iraq, as well as by subcontracting operations out to regional clients.

Thus, Trump is not coming clean out of any supposed principle when he cuts back US forces overseas. He is merely applying his knack for screwing down costs and doing things on the cheap as a capitalist tycoon overseeing US militarism.

During past decades when American capitalism was relatively robust, US politicians and media could indulge in the fantasy of their military forces going around the world in large-scale formations to selflessly "defend freedom and democracy."

Today, US capitalism is broke. It simply can't sustain its global military empire. Enter Donald Trump with his "business solutions."

But in doing so, this president, with his cheap utilitarianism and transactional exploitative mindset, lets the cat out of the bag. As he says, the US cannot be the world's policeman. Countries are henceforth going to have to pay for "our protection."

Inadvertently, Trump is showing up US power for what it really is: a global thug running a protection racket.

It's always been the case. Except now it's in your face. Trump is no Smedley Butler, the former Marine general who in the 1930s condemned US militarism as a Mafia operation. This president is stupidly revealing the racket, while still thinking it is something virtuous.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he is a Master's graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.

dnm1136

Once again, Cunningham has hit the nail on the head. Trump mistakenly conflates fear with respect. In reality, around the world, the US is feared but generally not respected.

My guess is that the same was true about Trump as a businessman, i.e., he was not respected, only feared due to his willingness to pursue his "deals" by any means that "worked" for him, legal or illegal, moral or immoral, seemingly gracious or mean-spirited.

William Smith

Complaining how the US gets no thanks for its foreign intervention. Kind of like a rapist claiming he should be thanked for "pleasuring" his victim. Precisely the same sentiment expressed by those who believe the American Indians should thank the Whites for "civilising" them.

Phoebe S,

"Washington gets no thanks for from the 150-plus countries around the globe that its forces are present in."

That might mean they don't want you there. Just saying.

ProRussiaPole

None of these wars are working out for the US strategically. All they do is sow chaos. They seem to not be gaining anything, and are just preventing others from gaining anything as well.

Ernie For -> ProRussiaPole

i am a huge Putin fan, so is big Don. Please change your source of info Jerome, Trump is one man against Billions of people and dollars in corruption. He has achieved more in the USA in 2 years than all 5 previous parasites together.

Truthbetold69

It could be a change for a better direction. Time will tell. 'If you do what you've always been doing, you'll get what you've always been getting.'

[Dec 20, 2019] War Denialism and Endless War by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... One of the most revealing and absurd responses to rejections of forever war is the ridiculous dodge that the U.S. isn't really at war when it uses force and kills people in multiple foreign countries: ..."
"... The distinction between "real war" and the constant U.S. involvement in hostilities overseas is a phony one. The war is very real to the civilian bystanders who die in U.S. airstrikes, and it is very real to the soldiers and Marines still getting shot at and blown up in Afghanistan. This is not an "antidote to war," but rather the routinization of warfare. ..."
"... The routinization and normalization of endless, unauthorized war is one of the most harmful legacies of the Obama administration. ..."
"... When the Obama administration wanted political and legal cover for the illegal Libyan war in 2011, they came up with a preposterous claim that U.S. forces weren't engaged in hostilities because there was no real risk to them from the Libyan government's forces. According to Harold Koh, who was the one responsible for promoting this nonsense, U.S. forces weren't engaged in hostilities even when they were carrying out a sustained bombing campaign for months. That lie has served as a basis for redefining what counts as involvement in hostilities so that the president and the Pentagon can pretend that the U.S. military isn't engaged in hostilities even when it clearly is. When the only thing that gets counted as a "real war" is a major deployment of hundreds of thousands of troops, that allows for a lot of unaccountable warmaking that has been conveniently reinvented as something else. ..."
Dec 16, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

One of the most revealing and absurd responses to rejections of forever war is the ridiculous dodge that the U.S. isn't really at war when it uses force and kills people in multiple foreign countries:

Just like @POTUS , who put a limited op of NE #Syria under heading of "endless war," this op-ed has "drone strikes & Special Ops raids" in indictment of US-at-war. In fact, those actions are antidote to war. Their misguided critique is insult to real war. https://t.co/DCLS9IDKSw

-- Robert Satloff (@robsatloff) December 15, 2019

War has become so normalized over the last twenty years that the constant use of military force gets discounted as something other than "real war." We have seen this war denialism on display several times in the last year. As more presidential candidates and analysts have started rejecting endless war, the war's defenders have often chosen to pretend that the U.S. isn't at war at all. The distinction between "real war" and the constant U.S. involvement in hostilities overseas is a phony one. The war is very real to the civilian bystanders who die in U.S. airstrikes, and it is very real to the soldiers and Marines still getting shot at and blown up in Afghanistan. This is not an "antidote to war," but rather the routinization of warfare.

The routinization and normalization of endless, unauthorized war is one of the most harmful legacies of the Obama administration. I made this point back in the spring of 2016 :

Because Obama is relatively less aggressive and reckless than his hawkish opponents (a very low bar to clear), he is frequently given a pass on these issues, and we are treated to misleading stories about his supposed "realism" and "restraint." Insofar as he has been a president who normalized and routinized open-ended and unnecessary foreign wars, he has shown that neither of those terms should be used to describe his foreign policy. Even though I know all too well that the president that follows him will be even worse, the next president will have a freer hand to conduct a more aggressive and dangerous foreign policy in part because of illegal wars Obama has waged during his time in office.

The attempt to define war so that it never includes what the U.S. military happens to be doing when it uses force abroad has been going on for quite a while. When the Obama administration wanted political and legal cover for the illegal Libyan war in 2011, they came up with a preposterous claim that U.S. forces weren't engaged in hostilities because there was no real risk to them from the Libyan government's forces. According to Harold Koh, who was the one responsible for promoting this nonsense, U.S. forces weren't engaged in hostilities even when they were carrying out a sustained bombing campaign for months. That lie has served as a basis for redefining what counts as involvement in hostilities so that the president and the Pentagon can pretend that the U.S. military isn't engaged in hostilities even when it clearly is. When the only thing that gets counted as a "real war" is a major deployment of hundreds of thousands of troops, that allows for a lot of unaccountable warmaking that has been conveniently reinvented as something else.


chris chuba3 days ago

It isn't just physical war that results in active service body bags but our aggression has alreay cost lives on the home front and there is every reason to believe it will do so again.

We were not isolationists prior to 9/11/2001, Al Qaeda had already attacked but we were distracted bombing Serbia, expanding NATO, and trying to connect Al Qaeda attacks to Iran. We were just attacked by a Saudi officer we were training on our soil to use the Saudis against Iran.

It remains to be seen what our economic warfare against Iran, Venezuela, Syria, Yemen, and our continued use of Afghanistan as a bombing platform will cost us. We think we are being clever by using our Treasury Dept and low intensity warfare to minimize direct immediate casualties but how long can that last.

SilverSpoon3 days ago
"War is the health of the State"

And our state has been very healthy indeed in recent decades.

Ray Joseph Cormier3 days ago • edited
This article confirms what the last Real Commander-in-Chief, General/President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about when he retired 58 years ago.
His wise Council based on his Supreme Military-Political experience has been ignored.
The MSM, Propagandists for the Military-Industrial Complex, won't remind the American People.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well.
But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions.
Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government.
We recognize the imperative need for this development.
Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted.
Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military
machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

http://rayjc.com/2011/09/04...

Lee Green3 days ago
The psychological contortionism required to deny that we are at war amazes me. US military forces are killing people in other countries – but it's not war? Because we can manufacture comforting euphemisms like "police action" or "preventive action" or "drone strike," it's not war? Because it's smaller scale than a "real" war like WWII?

Cancer is cancer. A small cancer is still a cancer. Arguing that it's not cancer because it's not metastatic stage IV is, well, the most polite term is sophistry. More accurate terms aren't printable.

[Dec 13, 2019] The process of waging war is lucrative - positive outcomes (gas and oil) are a bonus.

Dec 13, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

NickStanford , 10 Dec 2019 12:24

I think it should have been seen as a thirty year campaign and the same with Iraq and Libya. The northern Ireland campaign took 30 years and many people are as bitter as they ever were much of it secondhand from younger people who weren't even alive during the conflict. The idea of a quick war is a very big mistake I think and flawed short-term thinking.
Piet Pompies -> MrMopp , 10 Dec 2019 12:24
Most decorated Marine officer ever? I thought that was Chesty Puller?
sammer -> tenientesnafu , 10 Dec 2019 12:24
That was very well put. Thank you for being so succinct.
easterman -> MrMopp , 10 Dec 2019 12:23
The process of waging war is lucrative - positive outcomes (gas and oil) are a bonus.
MyViewsOnThis , 10 Dec 2019 12:22
The West and the USA in particular have always taken the stand that their ideology is the only right one. That they have a right to interfere in the interns, affairs of other countries but their own internal affairs are sacrosanct.

So - USA, with UK support decided that Saddam Hussein had to be removed. They moved in to do so - they killed Saddam but had no plan to return the country to a functioning nation. Instead they facilitated the unleashing of internal wars and have now left the citizens of that country in utter turmoil.

& then went and repeated the exercise n Libya.

Decades ago, Britain decided that Palestinians could be thrown out of their homes to make way for the creation of Israel and laid the foundation for the Middle-East turmoil that has caused untold misery and suffering. They followed that up with throwing out the Chagosians out of their homes and making them homeless. Invited Caribbean's to the 'Mother Country' to serve their erstwhile lords, ladies, masters and mistresses only to then drive to despair the children and grandchildren of the invitees who had contributed to the 'Mother Country' for decades.

easterman , 10 Dec 2019 12:21
Lest we forget Cheney salivating over the gas in the Caspian Basin http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/west_asia/37021.stm
Piet Pompies -> cephalus , 10 Dec 2019 12:19
Yep, biggest terrorist state in the world, ever.
KoreyD , 10 Dec 2019 12:19
We are 18 years into an illegal invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. We are the invaders, the terrorists. The Taliban are fighting for their country, they may use brutal methods but so did the French, Dutch, Russian freedom fighters during the Nazi invasions. America's puppet regime in Afghanistan is reminiscent of the Quislings of WW2. And to use drones to kill Afghans and to say it is progress that there is more transparency is the height of hubris. All it does is show the corrosive effect of unfettered power in America and it's military. Why do we tolerate this inhuman action on another country's society? America is by far the greatest contributor to the rise in terrorism in the world and if not somehow stopped the greatest threat to world peace. It keeps on invading country after country with it's MSM propaganda machine claiming it is spreading Democracy throughout the globe. Thank you America !

[Nov 06, 2019] Something about Trump coherence

Nov 05, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Barba_Papa 21 hours ago

The US openly occupies parts of Syria, boasts of taking it resources and supported the attempts of the Kurds to set up their own little state, until the Turks blew a hissy fit.

And yet it has the gall to call out what Russia does in the Ukraine as a breach of international law.

[Nov 05, 2019] The problem with stealing Syrian oil by Daniel Larison

Nov 03, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

U.S. troops sent into Syria on an illegal and pointless mission to "take the oil" don't know what they are supposed to be doing :

US military commanders overseeing Syria operations are still waiting for precise battlefield orders from the White House and Pentagon on their exact mission to protect oilfields in eastern Syria, according to a defense official directly familiar with the matter.

Nearly three weeks after President Donald Trump ordered troops out of northern Syria, publicly declaring he was taking "control" of the oil and sending troops and armored carriers to protect it from ISIS, US commanders lack clarity on the most basic aspects of their mission, including how and when troops can fire their weapons and what, exactly, that mission is.

The lack of precise orders means troops are on the ground while critical details are still being worked out -- exactly where they will go, when and how they will stay on small bases in the area, and when they go on patrol.

Perhaps most crucially, there is no clarity about exactly who they are operating against in the oilfields.

Everything the Trump administration has done in Syria has been horribly confused, so it makes sense that the latest version of the policy would be baffling to our own troops. U.S. commanders lack clarity about the mission because it was cooked up to appeal to the president's desire for plundering other countries' resources. It was thrown together on the spur of the moment as an excuse to keep U.S. troops in Syria no matter what, and now those troops are stuck there with no instructions and no idea what they are expected to do. This is the worst kind of unnecessary military mission, because it is being carried out simply to keep a U.S. foothold in Syria for its own sake. The "critical details" aren't being worked out so much as a plausible justification after the fact is being conjured out of thin air. There is no reason for these troops to be there, and there is nothing that they can do there legally, but the administration will come up with some bad argument to keep them there anyway.

Meanwhile, Trump is very proud of his clownish, illegal Syria policy:

me title=

Trump labors under the delusion that the oil is ours to "distribute." which everyone else knows to be false. The oil belongs to the Syrian government, and that oil can't be sold and revenues from those sales cannot be used without the permission of the government that owns it. Syria's oil resources are not that great, and the infrastructure of many of the fields has been damaged or destroyed, so if it were legal to loot the spoils there wouldn't be very much to loot. The president thinks that seizing Syrian oil is worth boasting about, but in reality it is one of the most absurd and indefensible reasons for deploying troops abroad. In addition to damaging the country's international standing with allied and friendly governments with this open thievery, Trump's "take the oil" fixation is a propaganda coup for hostile governments and groups. As Paul Pillar pointed out last week, it plays into the hands of jihadist groups and aids them in their recruitment:

Trump's Sunday appearance before the press played right into this theme. Referring back to the Iraq War, Trump described as his own view at the time that if the United States was going into Iraq, it should "keep the oil." As for Syria's oil, he said it can help the Kurds but "it can help us because we should be able to take some also. And what I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an Exxon Mobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly." A propagandist for ISIS or al-Qaeda would hardly have written the script differently.

Keeping troops in Syria to "take the oil" is divorced from genuine American security interests just like any other unnecessary military intervention. The president is exposing U.S. military personnel to unnecessary risk, and he is also putting them in legal jeopardy by ordering them to commit what is essentially the war crime of pillaging. The president has managed to take a Syria policy that was already incoherent and chaotic and he has made it even worse.

[Nov 03, 2019] How Controlling Syria s Oil Serves Washington s Strategic Objectives by Nauman Sadiq

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Washington's basic purpose in deploying the US forces in oil and natural gas fields of Deir al-Zor governorate is to deny the valuable source of income to its other main rival in the region, Damascus. ..."
Nov 02, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Nauman Sadiq,

Before the evacuation of 1,000 American troops from northern Syria to western Iraq, the Pentagon had 2,000 US forces in Syria. After the drawdown of US troops at Erdogan's insistence in order for Ankara to mount a ground offensive in northern Syria, the US has still deployed 1,000 troops, mainly in oil-rich eastern Deir al-Zor province and at al-Tanf military base.

Al-Tanf military base is strategically located in southeastern Syria on the border between Syria, Iraq and Jordan, and it straddles on a critically important Damascus-Baghdad highway, which serves as a lifeline for Damascus. Washington has illegally occupied 55-kilometer area around al-Tanf since 2016, and several hundred US Marines have trained several Syrian militant groups there.

It's worth noting that rather than fighting the Islamic State, the purpose of continued presence of the US forces at al-Tanf military base is to address Israel's concerns regarding the expansion of Iran's influence in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Regarding the oil- and natural gas-rich Deir al-Zor governorate, it's worth pointing out that Syria used to produce modest quantities of oil for domestic needs before the war – roughly 400,000 barrels per day, which isn't much compared to tens of millions barrels daily oil production in the Gulf states.

Although Donald Trump crowed in a characteristic blunt manner in a tweet after the withdrawal of 1,000 American troops from northern Syria that Washington had deployed forces in eastern Syria where there was oil, the purpose of exercising control over Syria's oil is neither to smuggle oil out of Syria nor to deny the valuable source of revenue to the Islamic State.

There is no denying the fact that the remnants of the Islamic State militants are still found in Syria and Iraq but its emirate has been completely dismantled in the region and its leadership is on the run. So much so that the fugitive caliph of the terrorist organization was killed in the bastion of a rival jihadist outfit, al-Nusra Front in Idlib, hundreds of kilometers away from the Islamic State strongholds in eastern Syria.

Much like the "scorched earth" battle strategy of medieval warlords – as in the case of the Islamic State which early in the year burned crops of local farmers while retreating from its former strongholds in eastern Syria – Washington's basic purpose in deploying the US forces in oil and natural gas fields of Deir al-Zor governorate is to deny the valuable source of income to its other main rival in the region, Damascus.

After the devastation caused by eight years of proxy war, the Syrian government is in dire need of tens of billions dollars international assistance to rebuild the country. Not only is Washington hampering efforts to provide international aid to the hapless country, it is in fact squatting over Syria's own resources with the help of its only ally in the region, the Kurds.

Although Donald Trump claimed credit for expropriating Syria's oil wealth, it bears mentioning that "scorched earth" policy is not a business strategy, it is the institutional logic of the deep state. President Trump is known to be a businessman and at least ostensibly follows a non-interventionist ideology; being a novice in the craft of international diplomacy, however, he has time and again been misled by the Pentagon and Washington's national security establishment.

Regarding Washington's interest in propping up the Gulf's autocrats and fighting their wars in regional conflicts, it bears mentioning that in April 2016, the Saudi foreign minister threatened that the Saudi kingdom would sell up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets if the US Congress passed a bill that would allow Americans to sue the Saudi government in the United States courts for its role in the September 11, 2001 terror attack – though the bill was eventually passed, Saudi authorities have not been held accountable; even though 15 out of 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals.

Moreover, $750 billion is only the Saudi investment in the United States, if we add its investment in Western Europe and the investments of UAE, Kuwait and Qatar in the Western economies, the sum total would amount to trillions of dollars of Gulf's investments in North America and Western Europe.

Furthermore, in order to bring home the significance of the Persian Gulf's oil in the energy-starved industrialized world, here are a few stats from the OPEC data: Saudi Arabia has the world's largest proven crude oil reserves of 265 billion barrels and its daily oil production exceeds 10 million barrels; Iran and Iraq, each, has 150 billion barrels reserves and has the capacity to produce 5 million barrels per day, each; while UAE and Kuwait, each, has 100 billion barrels reserves and produces 3 million barrels per day, each; thus, all the littoral states of the Persian Gulf, together, hold 788 billion barrels, more than half of world's 1477 billion barrels of proven oil reserves.

No wonder then, 36,000 United States troops have currently been deployed in their numerous military bases and aircraft carriers in the oil-rich Persian Gulf in accordance with the Carter Doctrine of 1980, which states: "Let our position be absolutely clear: an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."

Additionally, regarding the Western defense production industry's sales of arms to the Gulf Arab States, a report authored by William Hartung of the US-based Center for International Policy found that the Obama administration had offered Saudi Arabia more than $115 billion in weapons, military equipment and training during its eight-year tenure.

Similarly, the top items in Trump's agenda for his maiden visit to Saudi Arabia in May 2017 were: firstly, he threw his weight behind the idea of the Saudi-led "Arab NATO" to counter Iran's influence in the region; and secondly, he announced an unprecedented arms package for Saudi Arabia. The package included between $98 billion and $128 billion in arms sales.

Therefore, keeping the economic dependence of the Western countries on the Gulf Arab States in mind, during the times of global recession when most of manufacturing has been outsourced to China, it is not surprising that when the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia decided to provide training and arms to the Islamic jihadists in the border regions of Turkey and Jordan against the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Obama administration was left with no other choice but to toe the destructive policy of its regional Middle Eastern allies, despite the sectarian nature of the proxy war and its attendant consequences of breeding a new generation of Islamic jihadists who would become a long-term security risk not only to the Middle East but to the Western countries, as well.

Similarly, when King Abdullah's successor King Salman decided, on the whim of the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, to invade Yemen in March 2015, once again the Obama administration had to yield to the dictates of Saudi Arabia and UAE by fully coordinating the Gulf-led military campaign in Yemen not only by providing intelligence, planning and logistical support but also by selling billions of dollars' worth of arms and ammunition to the Gulf Arab States during the conflict.

In this reciprocal relationship, the US provides security to the ruling families of the Gulf Arab states by providing weapons and troops; and in return, the Gulf's petro-sheikhs contribute substantial investments to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars to the Western economies.

Regarding the Pax Americana which is the reality of the contemporary neocolonial order, according to a January 2017 infographic by the New York Times, 210,000 US military personnel were stationed all over the world, including 79,000 in Europe, 45,000 in Japan, 28,500 in South Korea and 36,000 in the Middle East.

Although Donald Trump keeps complaining that NATO must share the cost of deployment of US troops, particularly in Europe where 47,000 American troops are stationed in Germany since the end of the Second World War, 15,000 in Italy and 8,000 in the United Kingdom, fact of the matter is that the cost is already shared between Washington and host countries.

Roughly, European countries pay one-third of the cost for maintaining US military bases in Europe whereas Washington chips in the remaining two-third. In the Far Eastern countries, 75% of the cost for the deployment of American troops is shared by Japan and the remaining 25% by Washington, and in South Korea, 40% cost is shared by the host country and the US contributes the remaining 60%.

Whereas the oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) – Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Qatar – pay two-third of the cost for maintaining 36,000 US troops in the Persian Gulf where more than half of world's proven oil reserves are located and Washington contributes the remaining one-third.

* * *

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petro-imperialism.


ipsprez , 8 minutes ago link

I am always amazed (and amused) at how much smarter "journalists" are than POTUS. If ONLY Mr. Trump would read more and listen to those who OBVIOUSLY are sooo much smarter!!!! Maybe then he wouldn't be cowed and bullied by Erdogan, Xi, Jung-on, Trudeau (OK so maybe that one was too far fetched) to name a few. Please note the sarcasm. Do I really need to go in to the success after success Mr. Trump's foreign policy has enjoyed? Come on Man.

OLD-Pipe , 19 minutes ago link

What a load of BOLOCKS...The ONLY, I mean The Real and True Reason for American Armored presence is one thing,,,,,,,Ready for IT ? ? ? To Steal as much OIL as Possible, AND convert the Booty into Currency, Diamonds or some other intrinsically valuable commodity, Millions of Dollars at a Time......17 Years of Shadows and Ghost Trucks and Tankers Loading and Off-Loading the Black Gold...this is what its all about......M-O-N-E-Y....... Say It With Me.... Mon-nee, Money Money Mo_on_ne_e_ey, ......

Blue Steel 309 , 5 minutes ago link

This is about Israel, not oil.

ombon , 58 minutes ago link

From the sale of US oil in Syria receive 30 million. dollars per month. Image losses are immeasurably greater. The United States put the United States as a robbery bandit. This is American democracy. The longer the troops are in Syria, the more countries will switch to settlements in national currencies.

Pandelis , 28 minutes ago link

yeah well these are mafia guys...

uhland62 , 50 minutes ago link

"Our interests", "strategic interests" is always about money, just a euphemism so it doesn't look as greedy as it is. Another euphemism is "security' ,meaning war preparations.

BobEore , 1 hour ago link

...The military power of the USA put directly in the service of "the original TM" PIRATE STATE. U are the man Norm! But wait... now things get a little hazy... in the classic... 'alt0media fake storyline' fashion!

"President Trump is known to be a businessman and at least ostensibly follows a non-interventionist ideology; being a novice in the craft of international diplomacy, however, he has time and again been misled by the Pentagon and Washington's national security establishment."

Awww! Poor "DUmb as Rocks Donnie" done been fooled agin!

...In the USA... the military men are stirring at last... having been made all too aware that their putative 'boss' has been operating on behalf of foreign powers ever since being [s]elected, that the State Dept of the once Great Republic has been in active cahoots with the jihadis ...

and that those who were sent over there to fight against the headchoppers discovered that the only straight shooters in the whole mess turned out to be the Kurds who AGENT FRIMpf THREW UNDER THE BUS ON INSTRUCTIONS FROM JIHADI HQ!

... ... ...

[Nov 01, 2019] I like to think that Trump's saying that the US army are going to steal Syria's oil is very much the same strategy. What better way to turn world opinion against US occupation of Syria?

Nov 01, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Maximus , Oct 31 2019 21:06 utc | 51

Good historical rundown of Uncle Sam's blatant theft of resources in Syria .. has historical precedent too I believe; the wars in Southeast Asia (the golden triangle and the drug trade). Afghanistan (heroin and the poppies); imagine, we come and destroy your country and then steal your resources in the aftermath. Sickening

Tim Glover , Oct 31 2019 20:37 utc | 49

@joost #33 I like to think that Trump's saying that the US army are going to steal Syria's oil is very much the same strategy. What better way to turn world opinion against US occupation of Syria?

karlof1 , Oct 31 2019 20:37 utc | 50
breadonwater @45--

Yes. The route goes within its 12 mile limit, but the okay is provisional and won't become final for @ 4 more weeks.

Maximus , Oct 31 2019 21:06 utc | 51
Good historical rundown of Uncle Sam's blatant theft of resources in Syria .. has historical precedent too I believe; the wars in southeast asia (the golden triangle and the drug trade). Afghanistan (heroin and the poppies); imagine, we come and destroy your country and then steal your resources in the aftermath. Sickening
Joost , Oct 31 2019 21:40 utc | 55
@49 Tim Glover. Exactly, imagine Obama saying that. Trump seems to have a habit of using reverse psychology on people. This strategy works very well when nobody likes you and you have the power of Twitter at your disposal.
People tend to overestimate the power of the US president. Every one of them, being democrat or republican, gets assimilated by the borg. Resistance is futile, unless you are perceived to be an idiot and do just enough to please your overlords. The Borg likes what he says, "we are there for the oil" and they are getting reckless, exposing themselves for what they are. Group think distorts perception and that is their weak spot. The borg will get more open about their crimes and their true intentions. This breaks global support for the petrodollar and that will be the end of the "outlaw" US empire.
augrr , Oct 31 2019 22:30 utc | 61
I am surprised that I've not seen any commentary regarding the US's announcement that they will continue to steal Syria's oil, and more importantly what anyone - Syria, Russia or anyone else - might do about this blatant crime.
Clearly this challenges Syria's sovereignty as well as Russia's declared aim to restore Syrian territory in full.

Any thoughts how this situation might evolve? IMO Russia has to remain a facilitator rather than an actor. A "no-fly zone" enforced by Syrians and SAA ground troops?


Don Bacon , Oct 31 2019 23:14 utc | 68
Stripes:
Carolina Army Guard troops move into eastern Syria with Bradley Fighting Vehicles
WASHINGTON – National Guard members from North and South Carolina began moving into eastern Syria with heavy armored vehicles on Thursday as part of the Pentagon's new mission to secure oil fields wrestled from the Islamic State, a military spokesman said.

Soldiers with the North Carolina-based 4th Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment and the South Carolina-based 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade were deployed to Deir al-Zour to protect American-held oil fields around that city, Army Col. Myles Caggins, the spokesmen for the U.S.-led anti-ISIS mission known as Operation Inherent Resolve, tweeted Thursday. Caggins' tweet included photos of soldiers loading M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles onto Air Force C-17 Globemaster cargo jets to be used on the mission. . . .

For now, the new deployment will not include M1 Abrams tanks, the Pentagon official said Thursday. here

Why use regulars when we can call up the National Guard?
Peter AU 1 , Nov 1 2019 0:23 utc | 72
US hold on the oilfields depends mostly on Iraq. The oilfields of Deir Ezzor are in open country with few towns and apart from the Euphrates flood plain is sparsely populated.

The only cover for guerrilla style attacks against US or its proxies on the oilfields will be the occasional dust storm.

Apart from Iraq, syria setting up S-300 at deir Ezzor and taking control of the airspace would also be a game changer but this may not happen.

Lebanon and Iraq are both undergoing US color revolutions at the moment so its a matter of waiting for the dust to settle on both these moves to see where US is positioned in the region.

JW , Nov 1 2019 0:50 utc | 74
@Sally #1

Yet the US military is overwhelmingly the #1 most trusted US institution among Americans, despite it forcibly wasting their hard earned money to kill tens of millions of innocents abroad. At the same time the US is also filled to the brim with draft dodgers.

If anybody thinks Bolton and his chickenhawking buddies isn't representative of the whole US, think again.

Peter AU 1 , Nov 1 2019 1:12 utc | 78
Don Bacon 73 "Really? I thought the protests were like many other protests around the world, over economic issues."

As was the Syrian 'revolution'. Plenty of small US companies willing to go in. US already has buyers as they have been shipping oil out of east Syria for some time. Turkey, Israel ect plus many more willing to buy at a discount. And considering the oilfields are simply stolen, oil can be sold at a discount.

[Oct 28, 2019] One "keeping" Syrian oil: the point of "keeping the oil" is not to profit from it, but to deny it to the Syrians. That's what Bibi wants.

Oct 28, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Horace , Oct 27 2019 17:37 utc | 39

Read the transcript of Trump's announcement this morning. He explicitly says he is keeping the oil, and might invite in Exxon to use it. Logistics are sketchy, because who will buy it? The pipelines will go through Syrian controlled territory. But he also says that a deal might be possible. It's ridiculous.

William Gruff , Oct 27 2019 18:18 utc | 46

Revenue from Syria's oilfields is about a $million/day. That is a small fraction of what it costs to maintain even one little US military base in Syria.

Try to hold tight to a sense of perspective, folks. Trump is a businessman. Not a very good one, perhaps, but certainly not so stupid that he cannot see that as an incredibly bad deal. This "keeping the oil" nonsense is empty posturing intended to appeal to shallow thinkers who don't know the difference between Syria and Venezuela and who don't really care what American foreign policy is so long as it is done with an arrogant swagger. Now that may be the majority of the US population, but these kinds are not even going to remember the tweet this time next week, much less even care.

"Keeping the oil" is not only tactically, strategically, and logistically untenable, it is such a baldfaced violation of so many US and international laws, treaties, and agreements that even America's fig leaf of last resort, Canada, would have to condemn it. This is just childish posturing to throw the appearance of bravado on America's exit from the theatre. People functioning at the level of many posters here need to stop taking it so seriously.

Laguerre , Oct 27 2019 18:37 utc | 54
Revenue from Syria's oilfields is about a $million/day. That is a small fraction of what it costs to maintain even one little US military base in Syria.
Try to hold tight to a sense of perspective, folks.

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 27 2019 18:18 utc | 45

The point of "keeping the oil" is not to profit from it, but to deny it to the Syrians. That's what Bibi wants.

Don Bacon , Oct 27 2019 18:51 utc | 60
@ 53
"Keeping the oil" is also meant to send a political message that you-know-who is still in charge here, a Carter Doctrine policy that has been in tatters recently.
Peter AU 1 , Oct 27 2019 19:19 utc | 67
On the Syrian oil, US apparently was raking in 30 million a month in an operation that was small enough to be kept from the public. If they take over the oilfields publicly and boost oil infrastructure, the monthly take will rise considerably.

The oil fields on the east bank of the Euphrates produced the bulk of Syrian oil. If production there was only 50% of Syrian production, the figures in dollar terms would still be high.

200,0000 BPD would be just over half Syria pre war oil production, so 200,000 X say $40 per barrel brings the take up to $8 million per day. Not bad when its money for nothing.

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

"before the Syrian Civil War, oil sales for 2010 were projected to generate $3.2 billion for the Syrian government"

" In 2010, Syria produced around 385,000 barrels (61,200 m3) per day of crude oil"

Peter AU 1 , Oct 27 2019 19:47 utc | 74
William Gruff
Trump has made no effort or even noises to pull out of Tanf. I think he wants to continue holding the Syrian border where he can. Denying the oil to Syria is a plus for him and that also has the bonus of partly paying the cost of stationing the US along that border.
Zionism, oil, getting returns on military expenditure seems to be Trump's foreign policy or as foreign policy is termed in the US 'War Policy"
Laguerre , Oct 27 2019 20:06 utc | 78
"Keeping the oil" is also meant to send a political message that you-know-who is still in charge here, a Carter Doctrine policy that has been in tatters recently.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 27 2019 18:51 utc | 60

Sure, that's also true. The NeoCon warmongers only got convincing very late in the game, when US Special Forces were already withdrawing from most of Rojava, and could not be stopped, except for this massively mounted late defence of the oil-fields. As the NeoCons were resisting from the beginning, what was it that changed Trump's mind? Bibi sounds like the answer, but I'm open to others.

William Gruff , Oct 28 2019 0:46 utc | 120
"So why did Trump state so emphatically that Russia and China love U.S. presence there???"

Reverse psychology. If Trump can get that narrative to fly then the mindless Russophobic and Sinophobic brainwash victims in the US will start screaming for the US to get out. After all, jello-brained Americans believe they must do the opposite of whatever China and Russia think is good. The USA certainly cannot do anything that China or Russia might approve of, right? So if they want us to stay then we have to leave.

Let's see if it works.

nemo , Oct 28 2019 2:27 utc | 133
Russia loves the US stealing Syria's oil. Listen, Russia delivered a beat down to murican regime change policy the likes of which the world has never seen before. It is epic humiliation beyond all endurance! The Syrian state is saved and the prospects of a Libya just a few hours from Russia's border are now gone! The US is scared shittless to attack Iran head on, so the status quo is returning to this region faster than murica's tiny brain can process. So what to do? Grab the oil! Be a thug and criminal! No more pretense, just sin proudly like the evil turd you are! Lol! And Russia can point at that turd and condemn it on the world stage for the whole world to see. No excuses...no sympathy. Of course that bravado wont last long. When push comes to shove, murica will fold like the dodgy piece of toilet paper it is and go home. Be patient and enjoy the Evil Empire's death agony a while longer...make popcorn...
Don Bacon , Oct 28 2019 2:54 utc | 136
Here's some historical documents

The Redirection, Mar 5, 2007
Is the Administration's new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?
By Seymour M. Hersh
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia's government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda. . . here

InsurgeIntel, May 22, 2015
Pentagon report predicted West's support for Islamist rebels would create ISIS
Anti-ISIS coalition knowingly sponsored violent extremists to 'isolate' Assad, rollback 'Shia expansion'
by Nafeez Ahmed
The newly declassified DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency -- headed by General Flynn!] document from 2012 confirms that the main component of the anti-Assad rebel forces by this time comprised Islamist insurgents affiliated to groups that would lead to the emergence of ISIS. Despite this, these groups were to continue receiving support from Western militaries and their regional allies. . . here

The DIA doc is here

A good overview is here

Don Bacon , Oct 28 2019 3:29 utc | 137
Some more history on how Russia's changed the US attitude toward Syria oil shipments to foreign customers. Specifically, whereas until 2015 US air force pilots were not given permission to fire on ISIS oil shipments, that policy changed when Russia entered the war.

In September 2015, the Federation Council, Russia's upper house of parliament authorised the Russian president to use armed forces in Syria.[9][10] Russia acknowledged that Russian air and missile strikes targeted not only ISIL, but also rebel groups in the Army of Conquest coalition like al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's Syrian branch, and even FSA.
On 30 September 2015, Russia launched its first airstrikes against targets in Rastan, Talbiseh, and Zafaraniya in Homs province of Syria. Moscow gave the United States a one-hour advance notice of its operations. The Homs area is crucial to President Bashar al-Assad's control of western Syria. -- wiki here

CBSNEWS, Nov 23, 2015
U.S. airstrikes against ISIS target oil tanker trucks
Two airstrikes, the most recent over the weekend, have destroyed almost 500 tanker trucks ISIS uses to smuggle oil and sell it on the black market.
By one estimate, these attacks have destroyed roughly half the trucks ISIS uses to bring in $1 million a day in revenues.
Until now, the U.S. has not gone after the tankers for fear of killing the civilian drivers. . . here

That's the first time (and probably the last time) ever that the US military had any consideration for civilian casualties. But they were ISIS employees so. . .cut 'em some slack. Still, only half the trucks were destroyed at that time (more were destroyed much later).

[Oct 27, 2019] Here s Why Trump s Secure Syria s Oil Plan Will Prove Practically Impossible

Notable quotes:
"... The below analysis is provided by " Ehsani " -- a Middle East expert, Syrian-American banker and financial analyst who visits the region frequently and writes for the influential geopolitical analysis blog, Syria Comment . ..."
"... An M1 Abrams tank at the Udairi Range Complex in Kuwait, via Army National Guard/Military Times. ..."
Oct 27, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Here's Why Trump's "Secure Syria's Oil" Plan Will Prove Practically Impossible by Tyler Durden Sat, 10/26/2019 - 23:30 0 SHARES

The below analysis is provided by " Ehsani " -- a Middle East expert, Syrian-American banker and financial analyst who visits the region frequently and writes for the influential geopolitical analysis blog, Syria Comment .

Much has been debated since President Trump tweeted that "The U.S has secured the oil" in Syria. Is this feasible? Does it make any sense? The below will explain how and why the answer is a resounding NO .

An M1 Abrams tank at the Udairi Range Complex in Kuwait, via Army National Guard/Military Times.

Al-Omar and Conoco fields are already secured by Kurdish-led SDF and U.S forces. Some of the oil from these fields was being sold through third parties to Syria's government by giving it in crude form and taking back half the quantity as refined product (the government owns the refineries).

Syria's government now has access to oil fields inside the 32km zone (established by the Turkish military incursion and subsequent withdrawal of Kurdish forces). Such fields can produce up to 100K barrels a day and will already go a long way in terms of meeting the country's immediate demand. So the importance of accessing oil in SDF/U.S hands is not as pressing any longer.

SDF/U.S forces can of course decide to sell the oil to Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) but Syria's government now has control over the border area connecting Syria to KRG territory through both Yaaroubia and Al-Mallkiya.

The Syrian government also now has control over supply of electricity. This was made possible by taking control of the Tishreen and Furat dams. Operating those fields needs electric power supply and the state is now the provider.

me title=

Securing and operating these fields also entails paying salaries to those operating the fields. International companies would be very reluctant to get involved without legal backing to operate the fields.

"Securing the oil" therefore can only mean preventing the Syrian state from accessing al-Omar/Conoco only (not oil in the north) . It's unlikely anything can be sold or transported.

And let's not forget "securing" this oil would need ready air cover, and all for what?

me title=

SDF composition included Arab fighters and tribes who accepted Kurds in leadership since they had American support and key cities in north. Many of those Arabs are already switching and joining the Syrian Army. "Securing" oil for benefit of the Kurds is likely to antagonize the Arab fighters and tribes in the region.

Preventing rise of ISIS is likely to entail securing support of the region's Arabs and tribes more than that of the Kurds. This Kurd/Arab issue is yet another reason why President Trump's idea of "securing" the oil for the benefit of the Kurds just doesn't make sense nearly on every level .


kanoli , 54 minutes ago link

"Securing the oil" means "Denying Assad government access to the oil." I don't think they care if the pumps are running or not.

comissar , 3 hours ago link

The psychopaths destroyed the last secular country in the ME. Same with Lybia. Now all we get are extremists on all sides. Mossad doing what it knows best, bringing chaos for the psychopaths.

Teja , 9 hours ago link

By withdrawing from Northern Kurdistan and by making an exception for the oil fields, Genius President Trump just told the world a number of things:

Of course, the European allies (except Turkey) are still refusing to learn from this experience. "Duck and cover until November 2020" is their current tactics. Not sure if this is a good idea.

Turkey has learned to go their own ways, but I don't think it is a good idea to create ever more enemies at one's borders. Greece, Armenia, the Kurdish regions, Syria, Cyprus, not sure how their stance is towards Iran. Reminds me of Germany before both World Wars. Won't end well.

Chochalocka , 9 hours ago link

Pretty hilarious how some see ****.

"America/The US", a label, is actually just a location on a map and is not a reference to the actual identities of those who start wars for profit.

Also it is hilarious to use that label as if an area of the planet is or has attacked another area. Land can not attack itself, ever, just as guns don't kill people, people kill people.

Trump is not claiming posession of oil in syria by leaving some troops behind. Just as he did not declare war, nor start any EVER. Every conflct on earth has it's roots with very specific individuals, none of whom are even related to Trump.

Syria was a conflicting mess before he took office and he is dutifully attempting to pull US soldiers out of a powder keg of nonsense he wants no part of. Nor does any sane American want more conflict in battles we can't afford, in countries we'll never even visit.

Like I said before, Trump can't just abruptly yank all our troops. It's simply not that simple. And for those pretending he is doing syria a disservice, I dare any one of you to go there yourselves and see if you bunch of complete dipshits can do better. Who knows, maybe you'll find the love of your life, ******* idiots.

2stateshmoostate , 7 hours ago link

There is no one on this planet more owned and controlled by Juice and Israel than Trump. He does and says what he is told to do and say. All scripted.

wdg , 10 hours ago link

First, the US invades Syria in violation of the Geneva Convention on War making it an international criminal. Then it funds and equips the most vile terrorists on the planet which leads to the killing of thousands of innocent Syrians. And now it has decided to stay and steal oil from Syria. The US is now the Evil American Empire owned and run by crooks, gangsters and mass murderers. The Republic is dead along with morality, justice and freedom.

Brazen Heist II , 10 hours ago link

Don't forget the sanctions it levies on Syria, in an attempt to prevent recovery and re-construction from said crimes of attempted regime change.

Truth Eater , 10 hours ago link

Let's limit the culprits to: The Obama regime... and not all the US. This is why these devils need to be brought to trial and their wealth clawed out of their hiding places to pay reparations to some of the victims.

wdg , 9 hours ago link

The US has been an Evil American Empire for a long time, since at least the Wilson administration, and Republican or Democrat...it make little difference. World wars, the Fed, IRS, New Deal, Korea, Vietnam, War OF Terror, assassinations, coups, sanctions, Big Pharma, Seeds of Death and Big Agri...and the list goes on and on. Please understand that America is not great and one day all Americans will have to account for what their country did in their name. If you believe in the Divine, then know that their will be a reckoning.

Shemp 4 Victory , 9 hours ago link

The Obama regime was merely a continuation of the Chimpy Bush regime, which was merely a continuation of the Clinton regime, which was merely a continuation of the Pappy Bush regime, which was merely a continuation... etc.

NorwegianPawn , 10 hours ago link

More chinks in the petrodollar armor will be the outcome of this. The credibility of murica is withering away as every day passes. Iraqi pressure upon foreign troops there to leave and/or drawdown further will also make this venture even more difficult to manage.

The Kurds may not be the smartest with regards to picking allies, but even they may by now have learned that sticking to murica any longer will destroy any semblance of hope for any autonomy status whatsoever once the occupants have left. Likewise, the Sunni tribes around this area don't want to become another Pariah group once things revert to normal.

Assad will eventually retake all his territory and this is speeding up the process of eventual reconciliation in Syria.

Fluff The Cat , 10 hours ago link

They've spent far more on these wars than they've made back by stealing other countries' resources. Trillions wasted in exchange for mere billions in profit, to say nothing of the massive loss of life and destruction incurred.

americanreality , 9 hours ago link

Well the profit was privatized while the losses were picked up by the taxpayers. So, success!

G-R-U-N-T , 12 hours ago link

'The below analysis is provided by " Ehsani " -- a Middle East expert, Syrian-American banker and financial analyst who visits the region frequently and writes for the influential geopolitical analysis blog, Syria Comment .'

this quote was my first red flag.

so POTUS outsmarts Erdongan, takes out ISIS leader BAGHDADI along with Erdongan MIT agents meeting with him. sorry, Ehsani, i think your full of sh*t.

CoCosAB , 12 hours ago link

CIA & MOSSAD LLC friends ISIS is just the excuse the american an israeli terrorists used and use in order to keep trying to remove Assad from the Government.

They just can't accept defeat and absolute failure. What's worse than an american/israeli terrorist destroyed ego?!

punjabiraj , 12 hours ago link

All info needs verification. US sources are not trustworthy including anyone where money originates from the usual fake info instigators/ players.

POTUS is so misled by the deep state MIC /CIA/ FBI et al and their willing fake media cohorts that he agreed to give the White Helmets more public money for more fake movies, as has been properly proven and widely reported.

Either they have taken control of his mind with a chip insert or they have got his balls to the knife.

The false flags have been discredited systematically and only a very brainwashed or a very frightened person would believe anything from the same source until after a thorough scourge is proven successfully undertaken.

It is evident that even the last hope department has been got at by the money-power.

If they can do 9/11 and get away with it, as they have, then they will stop at nothing to remain entrenched.

Tiritmenhrta , 13 hours ago link

Where is oil, there has to be ******* US military, business as usual...

looks so real , 12 hours ago link

90% of oil is traded in U.S. dollars if that stops living standards will drop in the U.S.. We dropped from 97% look how bad its now with 7% imagine going down to 50% life would be unlivable here.

Jerzeel , 11 hours ago link

Well US would have to learn to live within their means like other countries who dont have the world reserve currency & petrodollar

americanreality , 9 hours ago link

Exorbitant privilege. Paging Charles DeGaulle..

donkey_shot , 13 hours ago link

...meanwhile, both according to russia today as well as the (otherwise lying rag of a newspaper) guardian , the russian government seems to take a different position to the views expressed here by "a middle east expert".

russian state media is reporting that US troops are in the process of taking control of syrian oil fields in the deir el-zour region and have described such actions as "banditry". the crux of the matter is this: if the US were not actually illegally taking control of Syrian oil, then Russia would not be reporting this. Contrary to western mainstream media, Russian sources have repeatedly shown themselves to be factual.

https://www.rt.com/newsline/471940-lavrov-pompeo-russia-us-syria/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/26/russia-us-troops-syria-oil-isis

surfing another appocalypse , 13 hours ago link

Shame the "withdrawl" from Syria is tainted with "securing the oil". US doesnt need that oil at all. So Orwellian! Unless the Kurds somehow get rights to it.

Arising , 13 hours ago link

Preventing rise of ISIS is likely to entail securing support of the region's Arabs and tribes more than that of the Kurds. This Kurd/Arab issue is yet another reason why President Trump's idea of "securing" the oil for the benefit of the Kurds just doesn't make sense nearly on every level .

Trump is securing the oil not for the Kurds or anything in the middle east- his doing it as a response to the media backlash he received when he announced he's abandoning the Kurds.

donkey_shot , 13 hours ago link

this is nonsense. thinking of the kurds and their interests is the absolutely last thing on trump`s mind: what counts for trump is how he is viewed by his voter base, no more, no less.

[Oct 27, 2019] HARPER TRUTH ABOUT SYRIAN OIL: As is usually the case in theaters of combat, reality on the ground differs widely from the sharp and clear lines that are presented to uninformed outside observers

Oct 27, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

As is usually the case in theaters of combat, reality on the ground differs widely from the sharp and clear lines that are presented to uninformed outside observers. Good case in point is the state of Syrian oil. I am told by a well-informed source that the Syrian Democratic Forces led by the Kurds have been selling much of the oil in northeast Syrian territory they controlled until recently to the Syrian National Oil Company--the Assad government.

Some of that oil has also been sold to the Turks,,,

As we know, in the past, when ISIS controlled some of the Syrian oil, they were trucking it across the border to Turkey and selling it to Erdogan's minions at a steep discount. The SDF has continued doing that.

... ... ...


BraveNewWorld , 27 October 2019 at 01:37 PM

... Those tanker lines that Daesh was running into Turkey were done with the blessing of the US. It was the resistance and in particular Russia that blew all that up.
turcopolier , 27 October 2019 at 01:56 PM
BNW

What Harper meant to say is that some of the oil goes by tanker TRUCK from Turkey to Iran. The oil thus trans-shipped to Iran is sold on as refined product to North Korea. The Turks have been getting it at a very cheap prices from the SDF The Iranians add these products to domestic production shipped east.

Babak Makkinejad -> turcopolier ... , 27 October 2019 at 02:33 PM
So, an oil-swap deal? Just like the currently defunct gas-swap deal that used to obtain between Iran and Turkmenistan a few years back. Kurds and Turks acting like middlemen; how very Middle-eastern!
JP Billen , 27 October 2019 at 03:10 PM
The SDF/SNOC oil deal was negotiated by Russia 18 months ago. The SDF does NOT sell the oil to the SNOC. Under the Russian deal, they get a share of the oil. The rest is turned over to a broker from Raqqa who transports it in tanker trucks to Baniyas and Homs refineries.

https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Kurds-In-Syria-Share-Oil-With-Government-As-Part-Of-A-Deal.html

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-s-syria-ally-supplies-oil-to-assads-brokers-11549645073

If any oil is being diverted to Turkey, the it is the Raqqa brokers doing so. They are the reportedly the brokers that used to deliver ISIS oil to Turkey via Erdogan's son-in-law.

https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/syriasource/raqqa-and-the-oil-economy-of-isis/

JP Billen -> turcopolier ... , 27 October 2019 at 03:10 PM
... it was a deal negotiated by Russia with full agreement of Assad and his government and the SNOC. My understanding is also that they did not choose the middleman from Raqqa. Apparently he was the only one with tankers and with drivers who had no problem driving through areas controlled by SDF, other areas controlled by SAA, and a few risky areas where Daesh hijackings were a possibility.

[Oct 23, 2016] Unnecessary wars

Notable quotes:
"... Now the system faces exhaustion, discreditation, crisis and when the masses turn to radical demands on their wealth and power the elite turns to the popular prejudice it holds in the palm of its hand: the lust for war. ..."
"... in a system where state power engineers a national market in a competitive world wide economic system, said state powers will pursue the competition by multifarious means, including state violence, a competition leading to negative outcomes. That, in other words, the breakdown of the general peace between the great empires was an inevitability, even if the date was an accident found by sleepwalkers. No doubt the notion seems outre for those who believe at heart in the magic of the market. ..."
"... I confess it's hard for me to grasp why the experience of the Great War would be internalized as a lesson by today's leaders – by what mechanism? They have no direct experience of it at all. The horror of the war is so remote as to reside in the realm of fantasy or fiction. ..."
"... As to the consequences, today's leaders and war advocates of whom you speak reside in countries that are by and large the beneficiaries of past wars. ..."
"... Since you seem to be interested in the causes of wars, wonder if you are familiar with John Swomley's work. ..."
"... All war is for profit. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were fought for profit. The profit from Iraqi oil and whatever was expected from Afghanistan were irrelevant. Weapons of mass destruction, the Taliban, even Isis, were and are all issues that could have been more efficiently handled, but instead were pretexts to convince the credulous of the necessity of war. The real profit was the profit taken by the military-political-industrial complex in the treasure and stolen rights of the American people. That is the bottom line for why we went to war, and why we are still there, and why, if our elites persist, we might go to war with Russia or China. ..."
"... The decision to continue it seems to be a natural consequence of the human proclivity towards doubling down. This operates on many levels, some of which are related to the need for vindication of those involved in the decision to start the conflict. There is also the horror that if you end a war without achieving something the masses can identify with as victory, then the families of those killed will see that their loved ones died in vain -- for someone else's mistake (very bad for your political future). ..."
"... Japan currently has a constitution that makes war illegal. ..."
"... John Quiggin- The problem I was trying to suggest was that of presentism. ..."
Oct 22, 2016 | crookedtimber.org

on October 22, 2016

I've written a lot here about the disaster of the Great War, and the moral culpability of all those who brought it about and continued it. It's fair to say, I think, that the majority of commenters have disagreed with me and that many of those commenters have invoked some form of historical relativism, based on the idea that we shouldn't judge the rulers (or for that matter the public) of 1914 on the same criteria we would apply to Bush, Blair and their supporters.

It's fascinating therefore to read Henry Reynolds' latest book, Unnecessary Wars about Australia's participation in the Boer War, and realise that the arguments for and against going to war then were virtually the same as they are now. The same point is made by Douglas Newton in Hell-Bent: Australia's leap into the Great War . He shows how, far from loyally following Britain into a regrettably necessary war, leading members of the Australian political and military class pushed hard for war. In Newtown's telling, the eagerness of pro-war Dominion governments helped to tip the scales in the British public debate and in the divided Liberal candidate. I don't have the expertise to assess this, but there's no escaping the echoes of the push towards the Iraq war in 2002 and early 2003, when this blog was just starting out.

The case against war was fully developed and strongly argued in the years before 1914, just as the case against slavery was developed and argued in the US before 1861. Those who were on the wrong side can't be excused on the grounds that they were people of their time.

The only defence that can be made is that those who were eager for war in 1914 had not experienced the disaster of the Great War and its consequences. The failure of today's war advocates to learn from this disaster makes their position that much worse. But the same is true of anyone defending the warmakers of 1914 on any grounds other than that of their ignorance.

mjfgates 10.22.16 at 6:19 am ( 1 )

The Napoleonic Wars were no more remote from 1914 than the First World War is from today. If it's reasonable to expect modern leaders to remember the Somme, you can damned well blame Kaiser Wilhelm for not remembering Austerlitz. (Not really meaning to single him out there; I'm pretty sure that everybody had at least one "whoopsie, got a few tens of thousands of our boys killed there" moment between 1799-1815.)

Jerry Vinokurov 10.22.16 at 7:26 am

I forget, did CT ever have a symposium on Christopher Clark's The Sleepwalkers ?

Timothy Scriven 10.22.16 at 8:59 am ( 3 )

I'm surprised I haven't run into some godawful right-revisionist arguing the allies were on the side of the angels in the great war. No doubt one will present themselves in the comments.

RichardM 10.22.16 at 10:26 am ( 5 )

According to wiki, the Boer War cost £200 million (£22 billion @ 2015). Annual SA gold exports were $3.8 billion USD in 2005. Platinum is similar, diamonds, uranium and chromium significant too. So at the basic level of imperial arithmetic, the claim it was unprofitable would seem to be wrong.

In contrast, the same claim about the Iraq war would be clearly right. Even if you teleported the entire Iraqi oil reserves into a big tank in the midwest, you could barely sell them at a price that would break even on the war.

Which argument is right, and which is wrong, would seem to be at the heart of the issue. In contrast, whether or not you can find someone who made a particular argument doesn't seem that significant. People in the past didn't know the future; some of them will have been wrong about it.

Placeholder 10.22.16 at 11:16 am

Timothy@3
You haven't run into David Cameron; "We should be clear that world war one was fought in a just cause and that our ancestors thought it would be bad to have a Prussian-dominated Europe."
John@0
This blog was created in the Iraq War period when the venture was mounted as the height of ideological preciousness and in the luxurious excess of Aussenpolitik . As before the belle epoque of decades of peace, progress and the liberal way is perished, rather, swallowed up and lost in the infernal device they set running for their ends.

The scene has changed fundamentally. The six weeks' march to Paris has grown into a world drama. Mass slaughter has become the tiresome and monotonous business of the day and the end is no closer. Bourgeois statecraft is held fast in its own vise. The spirits summoned up can no longer be exorcised. Gone is the euphoria.

Gone the patriotic noise in the streets, the chase after the gold-colored automobile, one false telegram after another, the wells poisoned by cholera, the Russian students heaving bombs over every railway bridge in Berlin, the French airplanes over Nuremberg, the spy hunting public running amok in the streets, the swaying crowds in the coffee shops with ear-deafening patriotic songs surging ever higher, whole city neighborhoods transformed into mobs ready to denounce, to mistreat women, to shout hurrah and to induce delirium in themselves by means of wild rumors.

Gone, too, is the atmosphere of ritual murder, the Kishinev air where the crossing guard is the only remaining representative of human dignity.

-"Junius"

Now the system faces exhaustion, discreditation, crisis and when the masses turn to radical demands on their wealth and power the elite turns to the popular prejudice it holds in the palm of its hand: the lust for war. Innenpolitik has returned.

The Second International, which had bravely fought and won for the International Worker's Day on May 1st and International Women's Day on March 8th was swallowed and consumed by the hunger for patriotism and war. The whole conference voting for international peace and solidarity and every constituent party captured by its own 'social patriotism.' Lenin falling of his chair at the news the whole German SDPer to vote for war credits (save Karl Liebknecht). Keir Hardie died a broken man.

And many of us still say the universal conflagration – the lights that went and the world-fire that was set on August 1, 1914 did not burn out until August 15, 1945. That Hiroshima air.

Working men and working women! Mothers and fathers! Widows and orphans! Wounded and crippled! We call to all of you who are suffering from the war and because of the war: Beyond all borders, beyond the reeking battlefields, beyond the devastated cities and villages – Proletarians of all countries, unite!

– Lenin et al., Zimmerwald, 1915.

ZM 10.22.16 at 11:49 am

John Quiggin,

"He shows how, far from loyally following Britain into a regrettably necessary war, leading members of the Australian political and military class pushed hard for war. "

But Australia didn't have conscription for the First World War, and also there was a national vote allowed on the matter of conscription. So even if some people did push hard for war, there were a lot of Australians who pushed back against the war drive.

In the town I grew up in one of the big hills overlooking the main street was turned into a white quartz rock billboard with VOTE NO for conscription, although this same hill had a quartz rock V on it at the end of WWII.

I think its difficult sometimes judging if wars are necessary. It can be difficult to decide about a war at the start, and easier to decide about it afterwards unfortunately.

I remember first really learning about the First World War in any detail from The Anne Of Green Gables series when I was a kid. The final proper book in the series ends with the war, and it starts with the young men all sort of thinking of the bravery and so on, and ends with them dying or wounded mostly, although its set at home with the women and older people and children hearing the news and waiting for the war to end. There is a later book in the series part based in the early days of the Second World War, with a lot of bitterness about war in contrast to the WWI book.

But I couldn't really say that WWII shouldn't have been fought by the Allies. But a lot of the information I have to decide that WWII was a just war, if there can be just wars, is based on information that came to light during the war or after the war.

I didn't agree with the war in Afghanistan and went on at least one march against it but I had to think about it a lot and wasn't sure at first, since the Taliban were so terrible, and I had no idea it would turn into this protracted extended group of wars in the Middle East.

But I read something by Kim Beazley saying he already committed Australia to following America to war in the Middle East when he was Defence Minister in a conversation with someone from the USA Government that he didn't realise the significance of at the time.

So it would seem that Australia was already committed to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq before they even started.

I would like to see a reappraisal of security policy generally really. The situation with China and America has calmed down since a few years ago, but still has the prospects to be unsettling. And I don't like what's happening with America and Russia at the moment, and Julie Bishop the Australian Foreign Minister said she witnessed a discussion about Syria where trust had completely broken down and she thought that all options need to be on the table to stop destruction now, including no arms sales to Syrian groups. They might not have many munitions factories of their own if other countries stopped supplying them with weapons and ammunition.

stevenjohnson 10.22.16 at 12:11 pm ( 9 )

Looking at the Amazon page on The Sleepwalkers, they describe it as a study of how "well-intentioned" people it is generally felt that national power and prestige and prosperity are good things to intend. The British Empire in particular was deemed to be an amazingly good thing for humanity, an idea revived for popular consumption in steampunk. And this is doubly true I think when somehow one nation's place in the sun is a bad intention, yet an empire whose place is under the noonday sun, everywhere in the world when it is local noon. Yet if you reversed the proposition, it would be just as senseless. Moralizing about individual psychology, contra Corey Robin, just doesn't seem to be all that enlightening.

I suppose it's possible Clark was misrepresented. But the commercial interest in bottom lining the selling point makes it seem unlikely. Also, looking at the table of contents, the chapter and section titles suggest the book neglects Anglo-French tensions (Fashoda seems to be missing,) the whole Russian-Japanese war and subsequent revolution, the Austro-Hungarian seizures of the Sanjak and Bosnia. The Venezuelan crisis of 1902? At least one of the Moroccan crises and one of the Balkan wars gets into the table of contents.

Still, despite the obvious usefulness of examining the particular crisis that led to the general catastrophe, it is not at all clear that Clark has any notion that any of these crises could have led to war. Nor does Clark seem to have a notion that maybe, in a system where state power engineers a national market in a competitive world wide economic system, said state powers will pursue the competition by multifarious means, including state violence, a competition leading to negative outcomes. That, in other words, the breakdown of the general peace between the great empires was an inevitability, even if the date was an accident found by sleepwalkers. No doubt the notion seems outre for those who believe at heart in the magic of the market.

The OP's concern with the moral responsibility for the war seems to focus solely on one train of events that happened to result in a bad accident, rather than a bad system that would inevitably break down. The comparison to American slavery is suggestive. To avoid the Civil War, the slavers would have had to give up their property and power. To avoid the Great War, the rulers would have had to give up their empires. States would have to forego the good intentions of defending their national interests by all means necessary. Like the slave power in America, though we may wisely declare after the fact their surrender will ultimately benefit even them, however shall we teach them this wisdom in defiance of their daily experience? How shall it profit the rulers to retain their souls if they lose the world?

chris y 10.22.16 at 12:21 pm

mjfgates @1

I was told that until the Great War, the Napoleonic Wars were colloquially referred to as "The Great War". So, not forgotten.

Layman 10.22.16 at 12:47 pm ( 11 )

"The only defence that can be made is that those who were eager for war in 1914 had not experienced the disaster of the Great War and its consequences. The failure of today's war advocates to learn from this disaster makes their position that much worse."

I confess it's hard for me to grasp why the experience of the Great War would be internalized as a lesson by today's leaders – by what mechanism? They have no direct experience of it at all. The horror of the war is so remote as to reside in the realm of fantasy or fiction.

As to the consequences, today's leaders and war advocates of whom you speak reside in countries that are by and large the beneficiaries of past wars. The US, UK, Germany, France, Austria, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands – these countries are the very definition of wealth and prosperity. Russia is wealthy and prosperous compared to most other countries, as is Turkey.

Why should leaders of such countries eschew war on the basis of experience? They have essentially no negative experience of it at all, and other people's negative experience of it is hardly transferable over a gap of 100 years.

Placeholder 10.22.16 at 1:02 pm

"But Australia didn't have conscription for the First World War, and also there was a national vote allowed on the matter of conscription. So even if some people did push hard for war, there were a lot of Australians who pushed back against the war drive."
Isn't that the point? The 'british-to-their-bootstraps' establishment wanted to harvest the youth for the most threatening war Europe had ever seen and the 'actually I'm Catholic and I'm here cause you deported my dad' brigades forced and won a referendum against it in Australia.
And Quebec https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscription_Crisis_of_1917
And Ireland. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscription_Crisis_of_1918
The fact that they failed is not the point. The fact that Gough Whitlam, *cough*, Balibo Five *cough cough* ahem that's the point.

"But I couldn't really say that WWII shouldn't have been fought by the Allies."
The 'agonizing quandary' of whether America should have gone to war is somewhat undermined by Nazi Germany declaring war on them and the moral complusion 'we must do something' might perhaps be undermined by France doing something and being utterly trounced. Finally the blinding raging sanctimony of the warmongers 'but how can you be pacifist when Hitler is attacking you!!!?!' is a little undermined by the fact that, yes, a global warmonger out to conquer everything in his path will actually be attacking you and not by permanent metaphorical extension. "and Putin-Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra, Appeasement Gerry Adams Munich".

"So it would seem that Australia was already committed to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq before they even started."
Par vous. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ezs3dp8JKJs

erichwwk 10.22.16 at 1:12 pm ( 13 )

Since you seem to be interested in the causes of wars, wonder if you are familiar with John Swomley's work. Since I only became aware of him through a fluke (happened to be with someone getting an email (believe it was from Elise Boulding) announcing John's death. He was surprised I wasn't familiar with his work , and since he had worked with Elise and her husband Kenneth in Kansas City at FOR Peace Center, I looked into it.

I was so impressed I have read most of John's work. I highly recommend at least "American Empire-the Political Ethics of Twentieth Century Conquests" [ http://bit.ly/2esBKnC ] . Along the lines of AJ Taylor, it pretty much does away with the "devil theory of international relations" and lies to rest MANY previous myths I was unaware I held.

The first eye opener was the attack on Pearl Harbor, the US equivalent of the Reichtags fire. John made a passing reference that the two leading newspapers in Honolulu, had in fact headlined "Kurusu Bluntly Warned Nation Ready For Battle- Japanese May Strike Over The Weekend" on Sunday, November 31, 1941.

I was VERY skeptical, but turns out, not only is this true, [ http://bit.ly/1zuS3nb ] but so were most of his other assertions on causes and events leading to war.

Placeholder 10.22.16 at 1:22 pm

Benk@7 "I'm just wondering why the 1861 sentence didn't read 'the push towards war' instead of 'the case against slavery.' After all, the theme of the whole post "

See that's what I'm talking about. The Confederacy attacked the vestiges of the Union. Like with 'but WWII' this latest very serious and very necessary war of choice is excused by constant metaphorical extension from an unimpeachable war of alien aggression. Anti-militarism and Anti-imperialism is always obligated to the logic of pacifism.

Brett Dunbar 10.22.16 at 1:47 pm ( 15 )

The situation for the various participants varies.

Serbia, Belgium and France were directly attacked and had no choice other than fighting or surrender. Serbia had agreed to seventeen of the twenty one demands in full, three with reservations and rejected one. Germany and Austria-Hungary were the aggressors and actively sought war.

Italy and Japan were essentially opportunistic, both feeling that they could make gains at a relatively low cost, Japan correctly, Italy incorrectly.

Britain, Russia and the USA were in a position of either fighting or suffering a major foreign policy defeat.

Britain had guaranteed Belgian independence and the brutal German invasion (some of the atrocity stories were false, many were not) convinced Lloyd George that war was a moral imperative, while the attack on France was insufficient. He and his immediate supporters gave the Cabinet a pro-war majority. So it really was about Belgium. This was on top of a German naval programme obviously aimed at Britain. If German aggression were not stopped now then they would be harder to stop next time if France and Russia were German clients.

Russia faced the destruction of its ally Serbia even after Serbia had agreed nearly all of Austria-Hungary's demands.

The USA had got Germany to halt unrestricted submarine warfare after the Lusitania only by threatening war. The resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare left them with a credibility problem if no declaration was made.

I'm not very familiar with what happened with the Ottoman empire.

The view that the Entante were morally right is pretty much the consensus in military history. The popular view is extremely dated and not well supported by evidence.

The desire to avoid another world war was one of the reasons that Britain and France were so reluctant to oppose Germany during the 1930s. Faced by a relentless aggressor it is normally better to fight now with as allies than later alone.

ZM 10.22.16 at 2:05 pm

Placeholder,

"Par vous. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ezs3dp8JKJs "

No, I mean years beforehand in the 1980s.

Kim Beazley was the Defence Minister in previous Labour governments, not in the Liberal Howard Government that was in power during the starts of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. It was more a strategic commitment rather than a declaration of war:

"The United States had regarded our contribution to the Tanker War [part of the Iran-Iraq war] activity as an earnest of good faith that new Australian defence policies still contemplated an ability to respond positively to allies.

I did then recollect a call from him sometime in October 1987 when he had opened:

"You remember that conversation we had last year when you said that even though your forces were structured to defend Australia, you would still work elsewhere if your ally needed you? Well, this is the call."

The conversation he was alluding to was a fierce argument before the White Paper was produced but after the publication of Paul Dibb's Review of Australia's Defence Capabilities.

I had not understood at the time of his call how much of a test he considered it. In his mind it was evidently a little more than normal banter."

http://www.regionalsecurity.org.au/Resources/Documents/vol4no3Beazley.pdf

kidneystones 10.22.16 at 2:09 pm ( 17 )

The role of Commonwealth and Empire troops in Britain's wars is immense and complex. On simple terms, elites in Commonwealth nations often shared values, politics, and economic interests with the 'mother nation' and each other. We should not, therefore, be surprised to find elites in Australia cheering for a war championed by elites in London. Those further down the pecking order were often hostile to the idea of going to war. In India, a sizeable minority elected to fight alongside the Japanese against Britain.

As for learning from mistakes, we clearly haven't. It's too easy to forget how Americans of all political stripes cheered once the bombs started landing in Iraq in 2003. Ignored now by many supporting the only candidate directly involved in America's 21st century wars of choice is the fact that America under the Democrats is now fighting five wars, or the same war on five different fronts. None of which is likely to end in time for the Peace Prize President to declare victory, although the pliant media may oblige with a 'thank goodness we brought that part of Bush's mess to an end.

The press seems much more interested in securing victory for the Democratic candidate before the voters get their chance. A couple of days ago it was difficult to see any other outcome. That's no longer the case. The race had tightened again.

Try as many might to forget the last 12 years of war under two two-term presidents from two different parties with the prospect of at least another four from at least one of the two candidates, ordinary Americans seem quite ready to take a break.

On a personal note. The one lesson learned from the Great Was in my own family was to avoid war if at all possible. My grandfather wounded severely twice and sent back to the front in both instances did all he could to ensure his own sons delayed enlisting as long as possible.

Jake Gibson 10.22.16 at 2:38 pm

World War 2 and possible the American Civil War are just about the only wars that I can think of that might qualify as a "necessary war". I have long held that there are no "just wars", only horrible wars and even worse wars.

3rd time the charm?

rea 10.22.16 at 4:54 pm ( 19 )

you can damned well blame Kaiser Wilhelm for not remembering Austerlitz.

Or at least Jena–Franz Joseph and Nicholas were the ones to remember Austerlitz

Gareth Wilson 10.22.16 at 6:36 pm

I haven't seen any alternate history stories where the British Empire decides not to fight the Boer War and leaves Orange Free State and the Republic of Transvaal independent. Of course, there's probably enough grim dystopias already. And maybe this covers it well enough: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hek-XimOhGA

George 10.22.16 at 7:17 pm ( 21 )

"All history is contemporary history," the Italian philosopher Benedetto Croce wrote nearly a hundred years ago. Modern historians' agree to some extent with this, aware that the writing of history is an imperfect reconstruction of the past tainted with contemporary prejudices. Some postmodern historians' go so far as to doubt whether anything approaching genuine knowledge of the past is possible. But most people writing history today do engage to some degree in historical relativism, aware that the past was to some extent unique. To start assigning moral responsibility to past historical figures ignores what the study of history can truly offer. Looking at how historical collective mentalities or institutions shaped individual actions doesn't just help us understand past events, but also can make us more attuned to the existence of these complexities within society, therefore helping us comprehend the present.

stevenjohnson 10.22.16 at 7:34 pm

Gareth Wilson @20 Well, there is the S.M. Stirling Draka series. From wikipedia, "The world of the Domination diverges from our world at the time of the American Revolutionary War, when the Netherlands declares war on Great Britain, resulting in the loss of its Cape Colony to the British. After defeat in Revolutionary War, the Loyalists who historically went to Canada are instead resettled in the new Crown Colony of Drakia (named after Sir Francis Drake) in South Africa, taking their slaves with them. Thousands of Hessian German mercenaries who fought on the Loyalist side are also paid off with land grants in the new colony. The Crown Colony of Drakia (later, the Dominion of the Draka) is an aggressive militaristic slave-owning society, massively influenced by the inherent racist attitudes of these American slave owner settlers that are allowed to run unchecked, reinforced over the course of the late 18th and 19th century by 25,000 Icelanders fleeing their island after the 1783-84 Volcanic devastation. French royalists, 150,000 defeated American Confederates and other reactionary refugees also emigrate to the colony. The much earlier Dutch Boer settlers are completely assimilated by these subsequent immigrants."

This doesn't sound like entertainment to me, so I haven't read a word.

Eli Rabett 10.22.16 at 8:00 pm ( 23 )

All they had to do is remember the US Civil War. Horses charging into machine guns and repeating rifles do not lead to longevity

Scott P. 10.22.16 at 8:44 pm

The difference with the Boer War is the Boers were not a threat to the peace and stability of Europe, while the German military aristocracy certainly were.

bruce wilder 10.22.16 at 8:46 pm ( 25 )

The case against war was fully developed and strongly argued in the years before 1914 . . .

Was it? I wonder about that.

Continuing the war , once the bloodbath is underway and its futility is fully evident (which surely is objectively the case as early as 1915), seems to me to be the point where moral culpability on all sides applies most forcibly. It is on this point that I think arguments from before the war cannot have the weight the horror of experience must give them. Elite leadership across Europe failed. It was a symptom of degenerate aristocracy clinging to irresponsible power. Continuing to turn the crank on the meat grinder without any realistic strategic hope or aim should have condemned the military establishment as well as the political establishment in several countries where it didn't. Hindenburg was there to appoint Hitler; Petain to surrender France. It is inexplicable, really, unless you can see that the moral and practical case against war is not fully developed between the wars; if there's a critique that made use of experience in its details in the 1920s and 1930s and made itself heard, I missed it - it seems like opposites of such an appreciation triumph.

And, before the war? Are the arguments against war really connecting? There's certainly a socialist argument against war, based on the illegitimacy of war's class divisions, which were conveniently exemplified in military rank and reactionary attitudes among the officer class. That internationalist idea doesn't seem to survive the war's first hours, let alone first weeks. Universal conscription in France and Germany created a common experience. Several generations learned not so much the horror of mass slaughter as war as the instant of national glory in dramatic crises and short-lived conflicts with a decisive result.

bruce wilder 10.22.16 at 8:47 pm

Certainly, there had been arguments made before the war and even several disparate political movements that had adopted ideas critical of imperialism by military means. I question, though, how engaged they were with mainstream politics of the day and therefore how fully developed we can say their ideas or arguments were.

Consider the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907 as examples of the state of the practical politics of a program for peace. The first Conference was called by the Czar and the second by Theodore Roosevelt - no little irony in either case. Without looking it up I recall Barbara Tuchman using the 1907 Conference as an illustration of the growing war fever gripping western (so-called) civilization, as many of the delegates apparently sat around discussing how they longed for a cleansing war. I cannot pretend to understand the psychology, but I accept that it was prevalent, as least for a certain class. Morally reprehensible this glorification of war? I certainly think so. Was it engaged by fully developed argument? When?

The long effort by reactionary forces to assemble a coalition capable of defeating Napoleon had created in Europe what for a time was called the Concert of Europe. Austria, Prussia and Russia initially cooperated in suppressing liberal and nationalist aspirations and that effort gradually morphed into efforts to harness or channel rising liberalism and nationalism and industrial power. It was the evolved apparatus descended from Metternich's Congress of Vienna thru Bismarck's Congress of Berlin that made wars brief and generally decisive in regard to some policy end. The long list of successive crises and brief wars that stevenjohnson references above - often cited as evidence of the increasing fragility of the general peace - could just as well be cited as evidence for the continued effectiveness of the antique Concert of Europe in containing and managing the risk of general war. (Fashoda 1898, Venezuela 1902, Russo-Japanese War 1905, Agadir 1911, Balkan Wars 1911-1912 - it can be a very long list).

It was against the background of this Great Game of elite diplomacy and saber-rattling and brief, limited wars that efforts had been made to erect an arguably more idealistic apparatus of liberal international peace thru international law, limitations of armaments and the creation of formal mechanisms for the arbitration of disputes. If this was the institutional program produced by "the fully developed and strongly argued" case against war, it wasn't that fully developed or strongly argued, as demonstrated by the severe shortcomings of the Hague Conferences.

It was one of the mechanisms for peace by international law - the neutrality of Belgium mutually guaranteed by Britain and Germany in the Treaty of London 1839 - that triggered Britain's entry as an Allied Power and general war. There is, of course, no particular reason Australia should have taken an interest in Belgium's neutrality, but it was that issue that seemed to compel the consensus of opinion in favor of war in Britain's government.

The consequences were horrific as mass mobilization and industrialized warfare combined with primitive means of command-and-control and reactionary often incompetent leadership to create a blood-bath of immense scale. (See my first comment.)

What I don't find is the alternative lever or mechanism at the ready, put in place by this fully developed argument against war. The mechanism in place was the neutrality of Belgium guaranteed by international law (arguably reinforced in the stipulations of the Hague Conference of 1907). If Germany doesn't violate Belgian neutrality, the result in the West at least is stalemate as France and Germany are evenly matched across their narrow and mostly impassable frontier; in the East, Russia must concede to Germany even as Austria must concede to Russia; - instead of a general conflagration, the result is another negotiated settlement of some sort, perhaps arbitrated by Britain or the U.S.

The urgent questions of the day regarding the organization of modern liberal polities in the territories of Ottoman Turkey, Hapsburg Austria and Czarist Russia - what is the strongly argued and fully developed case there? How is the cause of Polish nationalism, or Finnish nationalism or Yugoslav nationalism to be handled or managed without violence and war? The antique system of a Concert of Europe had kinda sorta found a way by means of short and decisive engagements followed by multi-power negotiation, a pattern that had continued with the gradual emergence of Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania. But, where was the argument for managing irredentism and nationalist aspiration peacefully?

Jerry Vinokurov 10.22.16 at 9:20 pm ( 27 )

@stevenjohnson,

I don't see how you can get an adequate account of Clark's book just by reading an Amazon blurb and glancing at a table of contents. Your synopsis is totally mistaken (I also don't recall any mention of "well-intentioned people" in the book).

What Clark has done was to write an extremely detailed diplomatic history of the July Crisis and the events preceding it. He gets into some depth on questions like the conflicts over colonies (Fashoda is discussed, starting on p. 132), but he also makes the strong case that this conflict was only one of the contributing factors to the war. His major focus is on the structures of the foreign policy apparatus within the government of each of the participants, and the interactions between the various factions both within and across states. No one comes out looking particularly good from this analysis, but it's not as simplistic as saying that the conflict was predetermined by struggles over capital or whatever; in fact, there were many potential avenues that could have avoided war, and it took the coincidence of some really terrible bluffs being made and called by lots of different people in order for the war to actually happen. I'm happy to cite specific examples if people are interested because I have the book handy.

The Sleepwalkers is really a valuable book; it taught me a great deal that I did not know before (which, granted, may not mean much), but it also really changed the way that I think about WWI. The standard explanation that is often given in college courses, and which pervades the popular imagination, is that either the Germans were wicked mustache-twirling villains, or that the conflict was structurally predetermined by the alliance system. Clark makes a very convincing case that this is incorrect, that in addition to the alliance system which of course provided the framework within which foreign policy decisions were being made, there was a great deal of contingency in the decision to go to war, and that the key decision makers were acting under many misapprehensions of both their own abilities and the abilities and information available to their counterparts. It's really worth your while to read it if you're interested in the causes of the war.

Brett Dunbar 10.22.16 at 9:43 pm

One reason for the high casualties in the American Civil War was that the armies had an unusual habit of marching to fairly close range and then firing volley after volley from short range while static. This surprised foreign military observers who were used to troops firing a volley then charging into the enemy line.

The ACW had had an exceptionally high proportion of casualties due to small arms at about 80%. It seems that having a bayonet helps even thought it was rarely used directly as the soldiers rarely hung around to get stabbed. Charging directly into the enemy formation while you would take heavy casualties if you got there you could scatter the enemy force and win. This had been effective during the Russo-Japanese War, at the time the most recent great power war.

greg 10.22.16 at 11:02 pm ( 29 )

All war is for profit. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were fought for profit. The profit from Iraqi oil and whatever was expected from Afghanistan were irrelevant. Weapons of mass destruction, the Taliban, even Isis, were and are all issues that could have been more efficiently handled, but instead were pretexts to convince the credulous of the necessity of war. The real profit was the profit taken by the military-political-industrial complex in the treasure and stolen rights of the American people. That is the bottom line for why we went to war, and why we are still there, and why, if our elites persist, we might go to war with Russia or China.

The good news is that, because of the unrelenting depredations by American elites on the treasure and rights of the people, the United States is increasingly unable to wage war effectively. The bad news is that our elites are too blind to see this.

America: Consuming your future today.

dpm 10.22.16 at 11:19 pm

The last big war in western europe prior to 1914 was the Franco-Prussian nonsense in 1870, and that started in August and was over by Christmas, so maybe it wasn't crazy to expect a short war.

I can understand the argument that going to war was wrong in 1914, and certainly agree that continuing it was morally bankrupt after the nature of the struggle became apparent. But I don't understand the argument that the decision to fight was justified in 1939 if it was not justified in 1914. In both cases, Australia followed the UK, and in both cases the UK fought to prevent German domination of Europe, with the proximate cause being the invasion of a neutral country.

Of course, with hindsight Hitler looks much worse than the Kaiser, but its not clear that was true from the standpoint of 1939. At that point, Hitler had never committed genocide, but the Kaiser had (in Namibia).

John Quiggin 10.23.16 at 12:24 am

erichwwk @13 Thanks for the suggestion of Swomley.

George: This encapsulates the problems I have with historical relativism.

"To start assigning moral responsibility to past historical figures ignores what the study of history can truly offer. "

But when does someone become a historical figure? Is GW Bush historical? Kissinger? Mao? Eisenhower?

And if we approach history with a strictly non-judgemental attitude to its actors, how does this help us form judgements about what should be done in the present.

Mark Pontin 10.23.16 at 1:10 am

There's a book called THE SOCIAL HISTORY OF THE MACHINE GUN by John Ellis, that's very insightful about how WWI turned out like it did.

Very likely some of you have read it. For those who haven't, I recommend it.

Omega Centauri 10.23.16 at 1:13 am ( 33 )

The decision to continue it seems to be a natural consequence of the human proclivity towards doubling down. This operates on many levels, some of which are related to the need for vindication of those involved in the decision to start the conflict. There is also the horror that if you end a war without achieving something the masses can identify with as victory, then the families of those killed will see that their loved ones died in vain -- for someone else's mistake (very bad for your political future).

And of course if you quit, what is to stop the enemy from extracting reparations or worse from you, because in his eyes, you are the criminal party. Much easier to try yet one more offensive, or to lure a formerly neutral party into joining in and opening up another front, which you hope will break the stalemate.

The thing that appalls me so much about the Great War, is how so many nations were dragged in, by promises of booty. In many ways it resembles the Peloponnisian war, in its inability to allow neutrals to be neutrals.

kidneystones 10.23.16 at 1:24 am

The title of the OP encapsulates the problem. I'd argue that all wars fit the bill.

The assumption that some wars are necessary and others are not is built into the discussion and is, for me, the central problem with this and all other discussions on war.

It isn't at all clear to me that any wars are 'necessary.' That is not to say that coercive violence is obsolete and that pacifism is the goal. That seems to me highly unrealistic.

Contra JQm we do not need to understand history to understand that all future wars are the worst possible solution to any conflict. The problem is that when the powerful can impose their will upon the weak they do, and will, unless the weak band together to reduce the power of the strong.

Japan currently has a constitution that makes war illegal.

Surely this form of constraint on state violence should be the norm, not the exception. The fact that so few nations are interested in making war illegal speaks volumes about our general commitment to peaceful conflict resolution. States want a monopoly on violence within the state, but in most 'civilized' societies a host of other institutions and statutes exist to constrain, not eliminate, capricious and unjustified incidents of state violence. Yes, 'bad' actors exist and have to be dealt with. Our current 'solution' to the bad actor problem within states is to arm and fund them.

We invent fantasy patriots, rather than recognize that most/all of these individuals are self-interested individuals seeking to profit from destroying/changing the status quo.

Ben Franklin was a British slave-owner and capitalist who spent his years in the mother nation lobbying the British parliament on behalf of special interests and others seeking to enrich themselves. When better opportunities arrived Franklin and other self-interested actors seized the moment by force. One can make a persuasive case that Franklin and others were right to do so.

We are not, however, living in the latter stages of the 18th century. People do learn from history, or can. We have numerous examples of how the state is not serving the interests of ordinary citizens. In that sense little has changed since the time of Franklin. The US and Russia may be the last nations to surrender the 'right' to attack and wage war on 'enemies.'

That does not mean the other nations should not renounce this 'right' to attack other nations and wage war. There have some rare instances where international police actions/wars have curtailed massacres. Interventions too often occur too late. A great many 'good' state actors such as Sweden and Canada are deeply committed to the international sale of weapons, whilst making weepy noises about the deplorable level of gun violence in the US, the free world's favorite whipping boy.

faustusnotes 10.23.16 at 1:37 am ( 35 )

If any of the major powers in the war had quit in 1915, would the consequences at home have been as limited as simply some leaders losing their positions? The spectre of revolution was haunting the continent, and military failure is associated with that revolution happening in Germany and the USSR. Perhaps the leaders of France and Germany decided not to back down in 1915 because they thought that was a risk?

(I don't know how much the fear of revolution exercised the western leadership at that time, so this is a genuine question).

LFC 10.23.16 at 1:47 am

There is not too much point in arguing about whether "the case against war was fully developed" before 1914, because "fully developed" means different things to different people.

There were various sorts of arguments against war in reasonably wide circulation before 1914 - and this fact is important from a number of standpoints - but there was also a lot of war-glorification in elite and intellectual circles. The devastation wrought by WW1 had an enormous impact on the way war was thought about and discussed in elite European circles: with the exception of certain sectors in Germany and perhaps one or two other places, it was hard after WW1 to find praise for war in elite circles as being "healthy," "cleansing," "natural," "good for the race," "inevitable," and so on.

This kind of language, so easy to find in elite discourse before 1914, largely (not completely, but largely) vanished from elite (and a lot of popular) discourse after WW1. Plenty of Anglophone and other intellectuals before 1914 spoke about war in Social Darwinist, quasi-eugenicist terms (although some pro-eugenicists, such as David Starr Jordan, opposed war on the grounds that it would disproportionately kill "the best" of "the race").

'Pro-war' arguments were still made in various ways and contexts after 1918, of course, but the character and language of those arguments changed. There were some who still adhered to the Social Darwinist notions prevalent before the war, such as the Austro-Hungarian chief of staff, who wrote in his memoirs after the war that it had been an inevitable result of "mankind's struggle for existence."[*] But this kind of thinking, as already indicated, became much less prevalent as the war dragged on and then after it ended.

---

[*] "It is in accordance with this great principle [i.e., mankind's struggle for existence] that the catastrophe of the world war came about as a result of the motive forces in the lives of states and peoples, like a thunderstorm which must by its nature discharge itself": Conrad von Hoetzendorff, Aus meiner Dienstzeit , as quoted (and translated) in J. Joll, Europe Since 1870 (Harper & Row, 1973), p.164.
Re the reference to "the motive forces in the lives of states and peoples" and the implication that such "forces" must inevitably bring them into violent conflict: does anyone talk this way any more? Afaik, not even writers for, e.g., The Weekly Standard or National Review or Commentary or The American Conservative would write in this manner today.

Placeholder 10.23.16 at 3:49 am ( 37 )

@kidneystones

Japan currently has a constitution that makes war illegal.

To go further it declares "land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained." I know many Japanese who know that. I am yet to meet a German who can provide even a garbled rendition of "Acts tending to and undertaken with intent to disturb the peaceful relations between nations, especially to prepare for a war of aggression, shall be unconstitutional. They shall be made a criminal offence. "

Gareth Wilson 10.23.16 at 6:08 am

It's more important that Japan has a public opinion that makes war unpopular.

kidneystones 10.23.16 at 7:52 am ( 39 )

37 Yes. And given that Japan has morphed from isolationist to empire builder and into the only nation so far to arrive at this relatively enlightened state in only a century, or so, I'd say the rest of us can give it at least a good go.

That topic never comes up, of course. Whatever good points a discussion on 'necessary' wars may have, surely a better discussion is why any of us still consider all war to be anything but a mark of failure.

38. Both are vital, but if I had to choose I'd agree. The problem is that Japan can look around and see, with some justification, that practically no other nation sees the world the same way.

Peter T 10.23.16 at 8:56 am

faustusnotes

fear of "socialism" – meaning, broadly, greater popular participation in politics – was explicitly a major factor in the German and Russian decisions for war. In both cases, they hoped victory would shore up increasingly fragile conservative dominance. It also underlay British and French attitudes. 1870-1914 was a very stressful time for elites.

1915 was too early for any of the combatants to settle. By mid-late 1916 there were some voices in favour of negotiations, but the Germans would have none of it then or in 1917. By the time the Germans were prepared to talk (mid 1918), they had lost. Fear of socialism was again a major factor in the post-war settlements.

Liberals of today see World War I as the great disaster that shattered the pre-war liberal order. In the same way, the generation post 1815 saw the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars as the great disaster that shattered the happy old order. The extent of the damage and loss was much the same in each, although World War I took 5 years to do what the French wars did in 25.

Igor Belanov 10.23.16 at 9:55 am ( 41 )

dpm @30

"Of course, with hindsight Hitler looks much worse than the Kaiser, but its not clear that was true from the standpoint of 1939. At that point, Hitler had never committed genocide, but the Kaiser had (in Namibia)."

Don't talk daft. Wilhelmine Germany was a polity that was heavily skewed towards the interests of the aristocracies and big business, but it was also a state that respected the rule of law and tolerated the existence of multiple political parties (including that of the organised working class). There were no Nuremburg Laws against Jews, and German brutality in the colonies was hardly worse than that of other empires (if anything, 'plucky little Belgium' treated its colonial subjects the worst).

Your theory seems to come close to A.J.P. Taylor's bilge that Hitler was the logical continuation of long-term German historical development.

Peter T 10.23.16 at 10:48 am

"Wilhelmine Germany was a polity that was heavily skewed towards the interests of the aristocracies and big business, but it was also a state that respected the rule of law and tolerated the existence of multiple political parties (including that of the organised working class)."

See Zabern Incident, Prussian three-class voting system, lack of control of Reichstag over budgets or major policy areas, anti-socialist laws

Wilhelmine Germany was a complex polity, which somewhat resembled the modern US in its multiplicity of veto points and the degree to which industrial, military and landowning elites held control through back-channels and various institutional levers. Many of its mechanisms were deliberately designed to provide the appearance, but not the substance, of parliamentary democracy. For instance, the military took the largest share of the budget, but the responsible ministers were not accountable to parliament (this is not to compare it to Hitler's regime).

Igor Belanov 10.23.16 at 12:04 pm ( 43 )

Peter T @42

"See Zabern Incident, Prussian three-class voting system, lack of control of Reichstag over budgets or major policy areas, anti-socialist laws "

Well exactly, that is what I meant by 'heavily skewed towards the interests of aristocracies and big business'. But all those instances are a drop in the ocean compared to Nazi Germany.

The complexity of Wilhelmine Germany was probably a result of the political failure of the liberal bourgeoisie in Germany, and the fact that there were no major political rifts to shatter the power of the aristocracy (it took until WWII to finally achieve this). Nevertheless, as Peter T suggests, even though the Prussian monarchical regime retained the formal political ascendancy, it took a byzantine institutional morass to keep different classes and political interests together, and the Wilhelmine elite wasn't alone in seeking to maintain its position by recklessly fanning the flames of national chauvinism. The irony was that 1914 proved that this policy was extraordinarily successful in the short term and subsequent events showed that it was completely disastrous after that.

George 10.23.16 at 12:24 pm

John Quiggin- The problem I was trying to suggest was that of presentism. This is an issue that many university history departments take pains to caution their students about in courses on historiography. Similarly these courses on historiography tend to teach that there is value in explaining the present by looking at the past, but warn that by making past events serve present needs, history can be distorted.

Personally I have found the essays of the late Tony Judt brilliant at explaining the present by referring to history. In one of his essays on how the modern Belgian political system came into being, Judt carefully dissected hundreds of years of economic, political and social to offer an explanation. Obviously he was making a judgement call as to which facts of history were most useful, served his purposes, but reading his essay the reader is aware that Judt is striving for ojectivity, however elusive it might. To me this is the best kind of history writing. What the reader chooses to do with this information, what judgements he or she might wish to make is another matter.

Brett Dunbar 10.23.16 at 3:21 pm ( 45 )

German colonial policy was notably bad. German behaviour in Namibia was worse than almost any other colonial administration. After Belgium seized Congo it had the worst record of any existing regime.

Belgium took over Congo in 1908 before that it had been a private empire under the personal rule of Leopold II until his behaviour led to the Belgian government confiscating it from him. Belgian parliamentary rule, while at then bottom end of colonial administrations, was a pretty big improvement.

Mike Schilling 10.23.16 at 6:03 pm

It seems to be received wisdom on all sides these days that Woodrow Wilson was a warmongering hypocrite for running on a platform of peace and neutrality and then entering WWI shortly after his reelection. But between sinking American merchant ships and conspiring with Mexico to support an invasion of the US, I don't see that Germany gave him much choice.

Jerry Vinokurov 10.23.16 at 7:00 pm ( 47 )

Brett Dunbar writes:

Serbia, Belgium and France were directly attacked and had no choice other than fighting or surrender. Serbia had agreed to seventeen of the twenty one demands in full, three with reservations and rejected one.

This is a vast oversimplification especially as regards the ultimatum, as Clark makes very clear. The ultimatum was delivered on July 23, 1914 and had 10 points (although I suppose depending on how you count various subpoints you may get 21; this isn't especially relevant except that I'm using 10 because that is Clark's enumeration of them). The particular sticking points for the Serbian government were points 5 and 6, which demanded that Belgrade accept Austro-Hungarian collaboration into the investigations of Serbian subversives (point 5) as well as into the assassination itself (point 6). According to Clark, the initial memo circulated by Laza Pacu, who was acting Serbian PM while the actual PM, Pasic, was campaigning for the upcoming elections, indicated that Serbia could not possibly accede to the demands. While awaiting Pasic's return to Belgrade, Pacu and the Prince Regent Alexander both visited Strandmann, the chief of the Russian mission, and both insisted that they could not accept the ultimatum and sought assurances from Strandmann that Russia would back them, even unto war (Alexander actually thought that Serbia should stall for time, as a reply was expected within 48 hours). I quote Clark (p. 461):

All of this might seem to suggest that the Serbian political leadership came almost immediately to the unanimous view that Serbia must resist and – if necessary – go to war. But these utterances were all reported by Strandmann. It is likely that the desire to elicit Russian support encouraged the ministers on hand in Belgrade to insist on the impossibility of acceptance. Other testimony suggests that, among themselves, the decision-makers were deeply alarmed at the prospect of an Austrian attack and saw no alternative to acceptance. The memory of October 1913, when Sazonov [the Russian foreign minister] had advised Belgrade to back down in the face of an Austrian ultimatum over Albania, was still fresh enough to nourish doubts about whether the Russians would support Serbia in the current crisis. Ascertaining the attitude of France was difficult, because the key French leaders were on their way back from Russia, and the French envoy Descos, who for some time had been showing signs of strain, had collapsed and been recalled to Paris; his replacement had not yet arrived.

Faced with this uncertainty, Pasic decided to stall until he could figure out what the Russians would do. Regent Alexander telegrammed the Tsar, stating explicitly that Belgrade was prepared to accept any points of the ultimatum "whose acceptance shall be advised by Your Majesty." Pasic drafted a telegram to Serbian foreign missions indicating that Belgrade intended to offer "full satisfaction" to Vienna and concede on all points. British correspondence from the same time indicates that this would have included the contentious points 5 and 6.

At that point, a telegram arrived from Spalajkovic, the Serbian envoy to Russia, recounting his conversation with Poincare (the French President) during the latter's state visit to the Tsar. Spalajkovic reported that when he told Poincare that the situation in Belgrade was very bad, Poincare told him, "We will help you improve it." Spalajkovic also communictated his conversation with Sazonov, who had told him that the Russian Council of Ministers had condemned the ultimatum and that Serbia could "count unofficially on Russian support," although there was no indication regarding what form that support would take. A second telegram from Spalajkovic reported that Russian mobilization might be imminent and that Russia would soon issue an official proclamation of support for Serbia.

Buoyed by the news from Russia, the Serbian government began drafting a reply to the Austrian ultimatum. I won't get into the details of the reply, which are long, but the basic gist is that Serbia pretended to accede to the Austrian demands, provided Austria supply conclusive evidence on all points before any investigations would begin. I quote Clark again (p. 465):

The claim often made in general narratives that this reply represented an almost complete capitulation to the Austrian demands is profoundly misleading. This was a document fashioned for Serbia's friends, not for its enemy. It offered the Austrians amazingly little. Above all, it places the onus on Vienna to drive ahead the process of opening up the investigation int the Serbian background of the conspiracy, without, on the other hand, conceding the kind of collaboration that would have enabled an effective pursuit of the relevant leads. In this sense it represented a continuation of the policy the Serbian authorities had followed since 28 June: flatly to deny any form of involvement and to abstain from any initiative that might be taken to indicate the acknowledgment of such involvement. Many of the replies on specific points opened up the prospect of long, querulous, and in all likelihood ultimately pointless negotations with the Austrians over what exactly constituted 'facts and proofs' of irredentist propaganda or conspiratorial activity by officers and officials. The appeal to 'international law' though effective as propaganda, was pure obfuscation since there existed to international jurisprudence for case of this kind and no international organs with the authority to resolve them in a legal and binding way. Yet the text was perfectly pitched to convey the tone of voice of reasonable statesmen in a condition of sincere puzzlement, struggling to make sense of outrageous and unacceptable demands. This was the measured voice of the political, constitutional Serbia disavowing any ties with its expansionist pan-Serbian twin in a manner deeply rooted in the history of Serbian external relations. It naturally sufficed to persuade Serbia's friends that in the face of such a full capitulation, Vienna had no possible ground for taking action.

In reality, then, this was a highly perfumed rejection on all points.

Continuing with Brett:

Germany and Austria-Hungary were the aggressors and actively sought war.

This is also deeply misleading and fails to take into account what Clark's research demonstrates, which is that all of the foreign offices had various pro- and anti-war factions; this includes Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, France, and Great Britain. I can't possibly do justice to the full scope of Clark's evidence here, which spans literally hundreds of pages, but he goes to great efforts to answer the question of who controlled foreign policy in each country. In France, for example, a pro-war, anti-German faction, composed primarily of career foreign office civil servants who, despite nominal subservience to the foreign secretary actually represented a kind of inner circle that pursued its own ends, was consistently leaking anti-German slanders and pro-war propaganda to the press. The British foreign office was likewise filled with with undersecretaries like Francis Bertie and Arthur Nicolson, who controlled the information that reached Edward Grey in such a way that it skewed the argument toward war. Of course Germany and Austria had their own pro- and anti-war factions, but the simplistic painting of the two countries as "the aggressors" is a drastic simplification of a hugely complex state of affairs.

Britain, Russia and the USA were in a position of either fighting or suffering a major foreign policy defeat.

Again, the actual situation is far more complex. Clark says nothing about the US for the obvious reason that the US had no meaningful participation in the July Crisis, but the situations in both Britain and Russia were substantially more complicated. Grey was not necessarily predisposed to war, and if he was, he had a very inconsistent way of showing it. He constantly offered ambiguous assurances to his foreign service counterparts in both Germany and France, hinting that Britain was likely to support France but also that there might be a way for it to remain neutral in a conflict with Germany. Here's Clark again (p. 574):

Whichever view we take – and the disagreement among historians is itself telling [ed: Clark here is referring to the debate over documentary evidence of whether Grey "really did hold up the prospect of British neutrality to Lichinowsky" (the German ambassador) or "perhaps he was trying to accommodate his uncertainty about whether the British cabinet would back his policy of support for France" (Grey having kept the actual cabinet from finding out about many of the things he had hinted to the French) or "maybe Grey was not interested in neutrality at all, but briefly came under pressure from his liberal imperialist ally, Lord Chancellor Haldane, to find a way of preventing of delaying the commencement of hostilities between France and Germany so that there would be time better to prepare and train the British Expeditionary force."] – it is clear that Grey's ambiguities were on the verge of becoming open contradictions. To propose British neutrality, even in the face of a continental war involving France, would have amounted to a crass reversal of the positions the foreign secretary had earlier adopted – so much so, indeed, that it is hard to believe that this was truly his intention. On the other hand, the proposal that France and Germany should maintain an armed stand-off is unambiguously instantiated in the documents. In a telegram dispatched to Bertie at 5.25 p.m. on 1 August, Grey himself reported that he had put it to the German ambassador that 'after mobilisation on the western frontier French and German armies should remain, neither crossing the border so long as the other did not do so. I cannot say whether this would be consistent with French obligations under here alliance.' But even this suggestion was bizarre. since it was based on the supposition that France might be willing to abandon the Russian alliance Poincare and his colleagues had worked so hard in recent years to reinforce. It suggests at best a very weak grip on the realities of the wider political and military situation.

All the evidence seems to suggest that not only did Grey entirely misjudge what was happening then, and what had been happening around him for years, but that until almost literally the last minute he was waffling because he had no way of properly ascertaining the actual strength of his position. For example, in a conversation with Paul Cambon, the French ambassador, on July 29, he intimated that France was allowing itself to be "drawn into a quarrel which is not hers, but in which, owing to her alliance, her honour and interest obliged her to engage," whereas Britain was "free of engagements and would have to decide what British interests required the government to do." He also claimed that it was British policy to avoid going to war over "a Balkan question." Then two days later, when asked by Cambon directly whether Britain would help France if the latter were attacked by Germany, he argued that the full Russian mobilization, which at this point was in effect, was effectively forcing Germany to mobilize. Cambon himself was likewise acting on the assumption that the Entente was much more binding than it actually was, and that it was an instrument by which England intended to contain Germany, as per Clark (p. 539):

He failed to see that for British policy-makers, the Entente served more complex objectives." It was, among other things, a means of deflecting the threat posed to the dispersed territories of the British Empire by the power best placed to do them harm, namely Russia. One likely reason for Cambon's misprision was that he came to depend too much on the assurances and advice of the permanent under-secretary Sir Arthur Nicolson, who was passionately attached to the Russian and the French connection and intent on seeing both hardened into a fully-fledged alliance. But Nicolson, though influential, was not the arbiter of policy in London, and his views were increasingly out of sync with the group around Grey, who were becoming increasingly distrustful of Russia and increasingly open to a more pro-German (or at least less anti-German) course. This is a classic example of how difficult even the best informed contemporaries found it to read the intentions of allies and enemies.

The key point here is that the alliances meant entirely different things to different parties, and that different factions within different foreign offices were engaged in significant amounts of cross-talk in a manner which undermined any specifically unified method of setting policy. Here again the contingent facts of the particular individuals playing particular roles carries much more explanatory power than simple declarations of "German aggression."

Britain had guaranteed Belgian independence and the brutal German invasion (some of the atrocity stories were false, many were not) convinced Lloyd George that war was a moral imperative, while the attack on France was insufficient. He and his immediate supporters gave the Cabinet a pro-war majority. So it really was about Belgium.

This is yet another drastic oversimplification. The decision in favor of intervention actually preceded the German invasion and any atrocities that occurred; that decision came by the end of August 2, two days before German forces crossed the Belgian border, and it was the result of particularly skillful political maneuvering on the part of the pro-war liberals and the conservative opposition. Prior to that meeting, the position in the cabinet had been slanted against intervention, but the anti-interventionists were outmaneuvered by Grey, who afterwards took his case to the House of Commons and secured British commitment to the war. But while Belgium provided one of the pretexts, there doesn't seem to be any evidence that the British leadership held any particular brief for Belgium as such; Grey's speech was primarily pitched in terms of a moral commitment to France and the possibility that British naval resources would be required to defend Mediterranean trade routes if Italy withdrew from its own commitment to neutrality. The relevant cites are on pages 544-546 in Clark's book.

This was on top of a German naval programme obviously aimed at Britain.

German naval expansion needs to be seen in the larger context of Britain's own aggressive naval posture. In 1897, the aforementioned Francis Bertie, in conversation with the German ambassador von Eckardstein, literally threatened war and naval blockade against Germany if any German intervention in the Transavaal were detected. Naturally, German naval expansion was undertaken with some eye towards counteracting British supremacy, but this was par for the course at the time. As per Clark (p. 149), "Until the signing of the Entente Cordiale in 1904, the programmatic documents of the French naval strategists of the jeune ecole had envisioned systematic use – in the event of war – of fast, well-armed cruisers to attack commercial shipping and force the British Isles into starvation and submission. As late as 1898, this prospect seemed real enough in British naval circles to generate panic over the need for extra cruisers and the consolidation of domestic food supplies." Clark goes on:

In any case, it was not the building of German ships after 1898 that propelled Britain into closer relations with France and Russia. The decision to enter into an Entente with France and to seek an arrangement with Russia came about primarily as a consequence of pressures on the imperial periphery. British policy-makers were less obsessed with, and less alarmed by, German naval building than is often supposed. British naval strategy was never focused solely on Germany but on the need to remain dominant in a world of great naval powers – including France, Russia, and the United States. Nor did German naval construction have the mesmerizing effect on British strategists that has sometimes been claimed for it. In 1905, the director of British naval intelligence could confidently describe Britain's naval preponderance over Germany as 'overwhelming.' In October 1906, Charles Hardinge, permanent under-secretary at the foreign office, acknowledged that Germany posed no immediate naval threat to Britain .[other expressions of same follow] There was good reason for such confidence, because the Germans lost the naval race hands down: whereas the number of German battleships rose from thirteen to sixteen in the years 1898-1905, the British battle fleet rose from twenty-nine to forty-four ships. Tirpitz had aimed at achieving a ratio of one German battleship to every 1.5 British but he never got close. In 1913, the German naval command formally and unilaterally renounced the Anglo-German arms races, Tirpitz declaring that he was satisfied with the ratios demanded by Britain. By 1914, Britain's lead was once again increasing. The naval scares that periodically swept through the British press and political circles were real enough but they were driven in large part by campaigns launched by navalists to fend off demands for funding from the cash-starved British army.

If German aggression were not stopped now then they would be harder to stop next time if France and Russia were German clients.

Why and how would France or Russian become German clients? From pages 159-167, which conclude his chapter titled "The Polarization of Europe," Clark demonstrates that much of the invention of Germany as the implacable foe of Britain was due to the machinations and memoranda written by Bertie, Nicolson, and Eyre Crowe. This was paralleled several years later by Sazonov's aggressive formulation of Russo-German relations, partly in reaction to the Liman von Sanders mission to Constantinople. None of this of course means that there was literally no German aggression or that Germany was somehow an innocent wronged party; it just means that within the contours of European international politics circa the beginning of the 20th century, Germany did not stand out in any particular way from any of its contemporaries.

Russia faced the destruction of its ally Serbia even after Serbia had agreed nearly all of Austria-Hungary's demands.

As I have argued via Clark above, this is not correct; there was no such concession at all.

I apologize for the length of this response, the multiple blockquotes, and the excruciating level of detail, but I'm trying to summarize major points from a 600-page book and this is not easy to do in an internet comment thread. Nevertheless, I think it's really important that the discussion around causes of WWI does not devolve into a simple morality tale of "Germany bad, Entente good." The real picture is infinitely more complex and that complexity deserves to be taken seriously. I don't mean to imply by any means that Clark is the last true word on this subject, but he makes a compelling case, backed by documentary evidence, that the "canonical" (at least, I suppose, in the popular imagination) interpretation of the July Crisis is deeply misleading. Moreover, he places the diplomatic machinations of the various foreign offices in the broader context of international European competition, and underlines the ways in which the offices themselves were not unitary actors but rather home to multiple factions which operated at cross-purposes and often made promises that stood in contrast to the official pronouncements of their own heads of state. I can't possibly do justice to the book here, so I would encourage everyone to read it for themselves.

divelly 10.23.16 at 7:12 pm

See Gen. Butler, "War Is A Racket."

bruce wilder 10.23.16 at 7:17 pm ( 49 )

Peter T @ 40 :

1915 was too early for any of the combatants to settle. By mid-late 1916 there were some voices in favour of negotiations, but the Germans would have none of it then or in 1917. By the time the Germans were prepared to talk (mid 1918), they had lost. Fear of socialism was again a major factor in the post-war settlements.

"too early . . . to settle" - I have no idea what that means.

After nearly 100 years of European wars and crises that had been small, short and decisive, the leadership in each of the Great Powers found themselves mired in something new and horrifying and they seemed completely unprepared to take responsibility for its conduct, its course or its termination.

It is quite remarkable the extent to which the Great Powers heaved themselves into total war, entailing national and imperial effort on a scale unknown since Napoleon and having done so, appear to have had little notion of what their goals were, beyond grasping at a forlorn hope of "winning" on the battlefield, or just staying in long enough to win a contest of attrition, without any realistic notion of what overarching purpose was being served or appreciation of the horrific costs being borne by human beings in the decimation of the polity and its society.

This was in contrast with the long series of crises and short wars that preceded WWI, contests which were short and decisive, precisely because there seems to have been a coordinating consensus on goals and means - almost as if they were playing a game with written rules and scorekeeping. That it was played as a game is not a moral justification, of course. The human costs of such means of rivalry and dispute resolution - not to mention the arrogance of the routine abuse of colonial or just peripheral states and populations - doesn't present a morally admirable picture, but it does suggest statecraft as a purposeful, managed activity.

In retrospect, one can see early signs that the rules and assumptions of "gentlemanly" imperial rivalry were being undermined and transformed by changes in military technology and the rise of nation-states and a more popular sort of politics, but the total breakdown seems to have been a surprise reward for a particular sort of accumulating moral and practical incompetence. In the Agadir Crisis, with its Panther's Spring, or the Zabern incident or l'affaire Dreyfus or the Curragh mutiny, I see more than hints of a moral and/or practical imbecility in the old order as well as a stubborn resistance to liberal reform.

In the event, Wilson and his Fourteen Points (January 1918) was a galvanizing intervention. On a more subterranean level, the almost bizarre musings of the German leadership on war aims, would have serious consequences in the inter-war period. And, of course, we are still living with the consequences of ill-conceived efforts by the British and French and Italians to "manage" formerly Ottoman Arabia.

bruce wilder 10.23.16 at 7:17 pm

Peter T @ 40:

Liberals of today see World War I as the great disaster that shattered the pre-war liberal order. In the same way, the generation post 1815 saw the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars as the great disaster that shattered the happy old order.

There's a certain sort of conservative or reactionary who is inclined to tell liberals that World War I was a disaster that shattered a pre-war liberal order. Somebody like John Keegan will write this way with no consciousness of controversy at all. But, it wasn't actually the liberal order that was shattered; what was shattered was an order of hereditary aristocracy and imperialism.

Liberalism failed conspicuously in the inter-war period, but that's a different narrative if you recognize that pre-war liberalism had come up short in its attempts to reform a non-liberal order which collapsed in senseless violence of its own febrile making.

The trouble with saying that a generation after 1815 looked back and saw the French Revolution and Napoleon as a disaster is that it was only a narrow, reactionary slice at the top of the steep pyramid of political power that held this view without significant qualification and they tended to make themselves look ridiculous when they acted as if the world had been restored to their liking, as when Charles X tried to cure scrofula with the King's touch at his coronation in 1824.

For most people, even or especially the upper reaches of the professional classes and the bourgeoisie, the liberal reforms of Napoleon were as inviolable as a return to general war was unthinkable. It took half a generation to fashion that into the liberalism of compromising on incremental reform in the context of a presumed course of inevitable progress, but that formula worked in the constitutional reforms of the early 1830s, in at least some of the many revolutions of 1848 and became the doctrine of a new conservatism circa 1866-71.

It was the perception of liberalism triumphant that gives a sense of a liberal order emerging in the course of the long 19th century after 1815, but at every step the old order of hereditary aristocracy was preserving itself and its privileges. In the consensus of elite opinion, monarchy (somewhat qualified as constitutional monarchy to mollify liberal sensibility), not republican democracy, is awarded pride of place as the ideal of natural political order.

Even without instruction from the likes of Keegan, I think many small-l liberals and social democrats look back at the period before the First World War with amnesia for the reality of a degenerate political order of hereditary aristocracy and imperialism and project some kind of normal politics, so that WWI shatters normal civilization with the terrible consequences that followed. Many reactionaries have roughly commensurable views that sum up as "Kaiser Wilhelm was OK, what was the big deal?" Niall Ferguson, for example, has offered the view that Britain's entry into war was a huge strategic error; on cost-benefit grounds, he argues that Imperial Britain should have bided its time and conserved its resources, dealing later from relative strength with the German Empire.

In some ways, I suppose, the erasure of historical detail is the flipside of Lind's alleged uniformitarian science fiction narrative that Henry is writing about. Of course, Lind is almost nostalgic for a nationalism that may be only a reactionary vestige in our time. I don't know that qualifies as "presentism" or just a failure of imagination.

LFC 10.23.16 at 8:01 pm ( 51 )

@J. Vinokurov

I haven't read The Sleepwalkers nor even all of your long comment above summarizing it. But from the sentences at the end of your post you presumably realize that Clark is only one of a number of historians who published books about WW1 and its origins around the time of the hundredth anniversary in 2014. (Btw there have been very long threads on CT on this subject with lots of people commenting, some with reading recommendations: e.g. J.C.G. Rohl's essays on the origins were mentioned back then by someone who seemed to know what s/he was talking about; also I. Hull, Absolute Destruction which is not about the origins primarily but more about German 'military culture' and the conduct of the war.) I've no reason to doubt Clark's an excellent historian, but like every historian he has a point of view, and given the enormous extant historiography I don't think there can be such a thing as a definitive account of the origins of WW1, and there also can't be a purely 'objective' one.

You write:

I think it's really important that the discussion around causes of WWI does not devolve into a simple morality tale of "Germany bad, Entente good." The real picture is infinitely more complex and that complexity deserves to be taken seriously. I don't mean to imply by any means that Clark is the last true word on this subject, but he makes a compelling case, backed by documentary evidence, that the "canonical" (at least, I suppose, in the popular imagination) interpretation of the July Crisis is deeply misleading.

I think most here would probably agree that the origins of WW1 can't be fit into "a simple morality tale," and if that's the view of "the popular imagination," it's not right.

Stephen 10.23.16 at 8:18 pm

bruce wilder@49'"too early . . . to settle" - I have no idea what that means.'

And earlier@25: 'Continuing the war, once the bloodbath is underway and its futility is fully evident (which surely is objectively the case as early as 1915)".

Yes, if you look only at the Western front. In the East, 1915 was objectively the year of the fall of Serbia, and far more spectacularly the year of Gorlice-Tarnow: the enormously successful German/Austro-Hungarian breakthrough at the western end of the Russian Carpathian front, followed by rolling up the enemy positions in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, for 200 miles or more, in what even the Russians called the Great Retreat: capture of Warsaw, Lvov, Brest-Litovsk, Vilna, ending with a front line stretching from Riga to the Romanian border.

If the German command did not think that was futile, who can blame them? Do you? If peace had been made in 1915 (and I entirely agree that might in the long run have been preferable) would that not have meant the Central Powers keeping their conquests in Belgium, northern France, western Russia, and Serbia?

Would that have been an acceptable ending for the Entente – who could reasonably hope that the British armies (left untrained and unequipped in 1915 by reason of the British government's not wanting, and not preparing for, an European land war) might in 1916 achieve something? Would it have been an acceptable ending even for the Central Powers, who after such victories in 1914-15 might reasonably hope for an even more favorable settlement after more victories in the East? If not the latter, remember it takes two to make peace.

Stephen 10.23.16 at 8:25 pm ( 53 )

Gareth Wilson@20: "I haven't seen any alternate history stories where the British Empire decides not to fight the Boer War and leaves Orange Free State and the Republic of Transvaal independent."

Given that the Boer War began with the armed forces of the Orange Free State and the Republic of Transvaal invading British territories – hence the sieges of Ladysmith, Kimberly and Mafeking – I find it hard to imagine an alternate history in which the British Empire shrugs its collective shoulders and says, oh all right then, invade us as you please, we won't fight.

Brett Dunbar 10.23.16 at 9:11 pm

Relating to the British declaration of war the Cabinet was split. One faction already supported intervention. Churchill was the most enthusiastic while Grey was somewhat more reluctantly in favour. A second faction were firmly opposed, two resigned in protest. In the middle was Lloyd George and his friends, until the invasion of Belgium he was ambivalent but on balance opposed to a direct involvement. Grey couldn't make a commitment as the Cabinet wasn't willing to commit to defend France.

Serbia's position was analogous with the current position of North Korea, an odious regime which happens to be the client of a great power. Austria-Hungary backed by Germany called Russia's bluff on Serbia, it turned out that Russia wasn't bluffing. Germany then launched an entirely unprovoked invasion of Belgium.

Gareth Wilson 10.23.16 at 9:45 pm ( 55 )

53: That's true, which makes the idea of the Boer War as unnecessary even flimsier.

John Quiggin 10.23.16 at 9:54 pm

I'd be interested to read the views of the pro-war commenters above on more recent wars, particularly those in which the US has been engaged. I can't see any difference between the pro-war cases made above and those for Vietnam, the Iraq wars and others.

Jerry Vinokurov 10.23.16 at 10:16 pm ( 57 )

LFC,

I haven't read The Sleepwalkers nor even all of your long comment above summarizing it. But from the sentences at the end of your post you presumably realize that Clark is only one of a number of historians who published books about WW1 and its origins around the time of the hundredth anniversary in 2014.

Indeed, and if you read, or even skim my post, you will see that I explicitly acknowledge this very fact.

I've no reason to doubt Clark's an excellent historian, but like every historian he has a point of view, and given the enormous extant historiography I don't think there can be such a thing as a definitive account of the origins of WW1, and there also can't be a purely 'objective' one.

I don't believe I have ever claimed this, nor have I ever used the word "objective" in either of my posts in this thread. That said, there do exist documentary records of what various actors were doing and saying at the time; any serious historical exegesis has to take those things into account (and of course the records themselves can often be falsified, as the Russians and French foreign offices both did after the fact). It is my understanding from reading about Clark's work that his greatest contribution has been precisely the depth of his excavation of this documentary record. I brought the book into this discussion because it has been widely acknowledged as a very valuable addition to the scholarship precisely on the strength of this work.

I think most here would probably agree that the origins of WW1 can't be fit into "a simple morality tale," and if that's the view of "the popular imagination," it's not right.

Well, my long post was in response to several points made by Brett Dunbar, which reiterated the idea that the war was simply a result of unchecked and unjustified German aggression. My goal was to show, citing relevant research, that this view is mistaken. I think it is also the view that is most often incorrectly taught at the high school and college level, but if that's not the case then I'm perfectly willing to take back that statement.

Brett,

Relating to the British declaration of war the Cabinet was split. One faction already supported intervention. Churchill was the most enthusiastic while Grey was somewhat more reluctantly in favour. A second faction were firmly opposed, two resigned in protest. In the middle was Lloyd George and his friends, until the invasion of Belgium he was ambivalent but on balance opposed to a direct involvement. Grey couldn't make a commitment as the Cabinet wasn't willing to commit to defend France.

The cabinet had already decided before the invasion had actually commenced that it would intervene if it occurred. If Lloyd George was indeed ambivalent about it, he couldn't have been that ambivalent, since he certainly allowed intervention to be put forth as the official position of the government, which Grey did on August 3, one day before the invasion had actually commenced. Here's some additional background that Clark gives as regards Belgian neutrality (p. 494):

Even the question of Belgium seemed unlikely to trigger an intervention. It was widely assumed, on the basis of both military intelligence secured by the French General Staff and of military inference, that the Germans would approach France through Belgium, breaching the 1839 international treaty guaranteeing its neutrality. But the cabinet took the view that, while Britain was indeed a signatory to the treaty, the obligation to uphold it fell on all the signatories collectively, not on any one of them individually. Should the matter actually arise, they concluded, the British response would be 'one of policy rather than obligation.' Indeed, it is striking with what sang-froid senior British military and political leaders contemplated a German breach of Belgian neutrality. On the basis of Anglo-French staff conversations in 1911, Henry Wilson had come to the conclusion that the Germans would choose to cross the Ardennes through southern Belgium, confining their troops to the area south of the rivers Sambre and Meuse; these findings were presented to the 114th meeting of the Committee of Imperial Defence. The same scenario was discussed by the cabinet on 29 July, when Lloyd George showed, using a map, why it was likely that the Germans would cross 'only the furthest southern corner' of Belgium. Far from greeting this prospect with outrage, the minsters accepted it as strategically necessary (from Germany's standpoint) and thus virtually inevitable. British strategic concerns were focused primarily on Antwerp and the mouth of the river Schelde, which had always been regarded as one of the keys to British security. 'I don't see,' Churchill commented, 'why we should come in if they o only a little way into Belgium.' Lloyd George later claimed that he would have refused to go to war if the German invasion of Belgium had been confined to the route through the Ardennes. British policy-makers assumed in any case that the Belgians themselves would not make their last stand in the south, but would, after offering token resistance to demonstrate that they had not permitted the violation, fall back on their lines of fortification further to the north. There would thus be nothing automatic between a German invasion of Belgium and British intervention in the conflict.

Assuming this chronology is correct, it appears that even at a very late stage in the crisis, the question of Belgian neutrality was not necessarily the deciding factor in the decision to intervene. There's definitely a possible timeline in which Britain does not declare war almost immediately following the German incursion into Belgium.

Serbia's position was analogous with the current position of North Korea, an odious regime which happens to be the client of a great power. Austria-Hungary backed by Germany called Russia's bluff on Serbia, it turned out that Russia wasn't bluffing. Germany then launched an entirely unprovoked invasion of Belgium.

It's not clear that Austria-Hungary could have been said to even understand that they were calling a bluff. Clark's argument on this point is spread out across many pages, but generally amounts to the contention that Austria viewed the ultimatum as an affair strictly between it and Serbia. One can (and Clark does) fault the Austrians for their short-sightedness and their failure to properly assess the international situation, but they were certainly not alone in this.

bruce wilder 10.23.16 at 10:19 pm 58

JQ: I can't see any difference between the pro-war cases made above and those for Vietnam, the Iraq wars and others.

Really? I don't know that I made a "pro-war case", per se, but I think I understood the cases made. As far as I know, neither Vietnam nor Iraq (2003) attacked the United States or any formal allies of the U.S.

[Sep 26, 2016] War as a Business Opportunity

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... As General Smedley Butler, twice awarded the Medal of Honor, said: War is a racket . Wars will persist as long as people see them as a "core product," as a business opportunity. In capitalism, the profit motive is often amoral; greed is good, even when it feeds war. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is willing to play along. It always sees "vulnerabilities" and always wants more money. ..."
"... Wars are always profitable for a few, but they are ruining democracy in America. Sure, it's a business opportunity: one that ends in national (and moral) bankruptcy. ..."
Sep 24, 2016 | www.antiwar.com
A good friend passed along an article at Forbes from a month ago with the pregnant title, "U.S. Army Fears Major War Likely Within Five Years - But Lacks The Money To Prepare." Basically, the article argues that war is possible - even likely - within five years with Russia or North Korea or Iran, or maybe all three, but that America's army is short of money to prepare for these wars. This despite the fact that America spends roughly $700 billion each and every year on defense and overseas wars.

Now, the author's agenda is quite clear, as he states at the end of his article: "Several of the Army's equipment suppliers are contributors to my think tank and/or consulting clients." He's writing an alarmist article about the probability of future wars at the same time as he's profiting from the sales of weaponry to the army.

As General Smedley Butler, twice awarded the Medal of Honor, said: War is a racket . Wars will persist as long as people see them as a "core product," as a business opportunity. In capitalism, the profit motive is often amoral; greed is good, even when it feeds war. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is willing to play along. It always sees "vulnerabilities" and always wants more money.

But back to the Forbes article with its concerns about war(s) in five years with Russia or North Korea or Iran (or all three). For what vital national interest should America fight against Russia? North Korea? Iran? A few quick reminders:

#1: Don't get involved in a land war in Asia or with Russia (Charles XII, Napoleon, and Hitler all learned that lesson the hard way).

#2: North Korea? It's a puppet regime that can't feed its own people. It might prefer war to distract the people from their parlous existence.

#3: Iran? A regional power, already contained, with a young population that's sympathetic to America, at least to our culture of relative openness and tolerance. If the US Army thinks tackling Iran would be relatively easy, just consider all those recent "easy" wars and military interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria

Of course, the business aspect of this is selling the idea the US Army isn't prepared and therefore needs yet another new generation of expensive high-tech weaponry. It's like convincing high-end consumers their three-year-old Audi or Lexus is obsolete so they must buy the latest model else lose face.

We see this all the time in the US military. It's a version of planned or artificial obsolescence . Consider the Air Force. It could easily defeat its enemies with updated versions of A-10s, F-15s, and F-16s, but instead the Pentagon plans to spend as much as $1.4 trillion on the shiny new and under-performing F-35 . The Army has an enormous surplus of tanks and other armored fighting vehicles, but the call goes forth for a "new generation." No other navy comes close to the US Navy, yet the call goes out for a new generation of ships.

The Pentagon mantra is always for more and better, which often turns out to be for less and much more expensive, e.g. the F-35 fighter.

Wars are always profitable for a few, but they are ruining democracy in America. Sure, it's a business opportunity: one that ends in national (and moral) bankruptcy.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools and blogs at Bracing Views . He can be reached at wastore@pct.edu . Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author's permission.

[May 01, 2015] From Protocol of interrogation of the Ukrainian oligarch Firtash today in Vienna, Austria

In general, if anybody tells you that you have gone crazy and suffer from paranoia and that the USA wants us only good as well as naive blabbering about the "independent choice of the Ukrainian people", please show them this piece."
kolobok1973.livejournal.com

Writes SIP:

"From the Protocol of interrogation of the Ukrainian oligarch Firtash today in Vienna, Austria:

The judge: I Repeat the question: how are you supported Yanukovych?

Firtash: I traveled around the country, I personally campaigned people, communicated with the trade unions on the subject of support for Yanukovych.

C: did You Finance it?

F: No. Then, when Yanukovych won in 2010, we began to light the differences. And in 2012 I became clear that Yanukovych will not have to carry out reforms. And then I realized that the country needs a strong candidate who will run for elections and win them. And in the meanwhile I found a Klitschko. He is very famous person in the country and the world, young, athlete. He has achieved a lot in sports and I was sure that he would be able to achieve this and in politics. And when Klitschko made a political force of the BLOW, I supported him financially. Then, in 2013, the conflict between Russia and the USA was already obvious. I realized the struggle begins, begins the tug of war. America understands that I have my own position regarding the fate of Ukraine and it does not coincide with their position. In August 2013, the serious conflict begins – trading, I am persuaded that it is necessary to settle differences peacefully, because Russia for us is a huge market.

And then the American government created a case against me and tried to blackmail this way Yanukovych (you will be next). Then took place the meeting of Yanukovych with Putin. At the same time Americans start pressing charges against me . Then comes European Commission to persuade Yanukovych to sign the Association agreement. Then Nuland arrives and says:

1. Sign Association with EU.

2. Release Tymoshenko for treatment abroad.

3. Give Kharkiv field to Chevron.

And Yanukovich promises Nuland everything she wanted. And you remember, after they finished a meeting, in an hour they dropped drop the charges against me.

Victoria Nuland (eng. Victoria Nuland born. 1961, new York) is an American diplomat and politician, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department from 2011 to 2013, Then - assistant Secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia.

In general, if anybody tells you that you have gone crazy and suffer from paranoia and that the USA wants us only good as well as naive blabbering about the "independent choice of the Ukrainian people", please show them this piece."

DownSouth:

January 23, 2011 at 9:17 am

Re: "Former Spy With Agenda Operates a Private C.I.A." New York Times

This is great stuff.

What we have here is the clash between the once dominant Machiavellian school, symbolized by Henry Kissinger, and the now dominant neoconservative school, symbolized by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and thrust into dominance by George W. Bush (Bush II) and Barak Obama.

I actually find the old Machiavelli school preferable. We didn't have to endure the insufferable hypocrisy of how we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan to "spread democracy." Instead, according to the Machiavellian school from which Clarridge hails, we are there to promote and protect our interests.

"We are going to protect ourselves, and we are going to go on protecting ourselves because we end up protecting all of you," Clarridge forcefully asserts in the interview cited by the NY Times. "And let's not forget that. We will intervene when we decide it's in our national security interests [read economic interests] to intervene, and if you don't like it, lump it."

This is a reiteration of Colonel Nathan R. Jessep's speech from the movie A Few Good Men. In comparison to Jack Nicholson, Clarridge is of course lacking in his delivery, but the message is the same.

Several assumptions must be true in order for Clarridge's and Jessep's assertions to hold up:

1) Neo-imperialism pays dividends.

2) Those dividends are distributed amongst all denizens of the empire.

3) The denizens of the empire enjoy greater freedom due to the neo-imperial enterprise.

My personal reading is that Clarridge has fallen victim to the "modern" focus on the universal, the general, and the timeless. If we search our history books, we can indeed find instances where all three of the above conditions have been met under imperial regimes. Perhaps the most striking example is when Augustus ended "democracy" in ancient Rome in 27 B.C. and restored monarchy. What followed was a huge geographical expansion of the Roman Empire (see map on Augustus link). As Will and Ariel Durant put it in The Lessons of History, "Augustus organized, under what in effect was monarchical rule, the greatest achievement in the history of statesmanship--that Pax Romana which maintained peace from 30 B.C. to A.D. 180 throughout an empire ranging from the Atlantic to the Euphrates and from Scotland to the Black Sea." "If," said Gibbon, "a man were called upon to fix the period during which the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous, he would without hesitation name that which elapsed from the accession of Nerva to the death of Marcus Aurelius. Their united reigns are possibly the only period of history in which the happiness of a great people was the sole object of government."

Of course Gibbons completely ignores the plight of subject races like the Jews. But this is of no relevance to Machiavellian theorists who concern themselves, as Gibbon put it, solely with "the happiness of a great people."

But is the example provided by the Pax Romana general, universal and timeless? Does empire always work to maximize "the happiness of a great people," as Gibbons puts it?

I believe history provides numerous examples of where it does not. Imperial Spain beginning in the second half of the 16th century is a prime example. The imperial ambitions of the Hapsburgs were frustrated on both fronts: the war against the Muslims in northern Africa and the war against the Protestant Heretics in northern Europe. Meanwhile, the Dutch and the English, along with the demographic disaster in the Mexico due to overwork and starvation of the Indians, were driving the nails into the coffin of Spain's immensely profitable imperial enterprise in the New World. Spain, despite the fact it was by far the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world, could not sustain the unbridled imperial ambitions of the Hapsburgs. As Carlos Fuentes put it, it became "a poor empire, debt-ridden, incapable of solving its internal problems while insistent on playing an imperial role overseas, but begging alms from other, surplus-wealthy nations in order to finance its expensive role as a world policeman."

Individual freedoms of the Spanish also suffered immensely. As Christian Duverger wrote in Agua y Fuego:

King Phillip II, son of Carlos V, imposed in America a hard colonial line: economic dependence, Hispanicization, massive supervision. The 25th of January, 1569 the Spanish monarch signed an order instituting the Inquisition in Lima and in Mexico. All those who up until then had managed to flee the intolerance oo post-Isabellan Castile are persecuted to the end of the earth and captured.

So, does the United States now find itself in the position of Rome in 27 B.C., or Spain in 1575?

Persons like Clarridge can answer this question with certainty. Their doctrine, which transforms the particular, the timely and the local (the Pax Romana) into the general, the universal and the timeless, leaves no doubt: the United States is the next Pax Romana.

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