Implicit in the rhetoric concerning this new phase of anti-jihadi warfare is the notion that "jihadism" is a passing phenomenon that can be destroyed and which will disappear as irrelevant to "modern" life. It is also said that jihadism is "un-Islamic," a distortion and misrepresentation of a great religion. In fact, jihadism is inherent in some views of what Islam is.
Islam, as I have often said, is a religion of laymen. It has no hierarchy, no clergy, no sacraments. There are only groups of Muslims of varying size who agree on what Islam and most especially what Islamic religious law (sharia) is. This process of forming consensus (ijma') groups is endless and inevitable. Some will say that Shia Islam has a hierarchy. It does not. In fact, The howza ("college" of Shia scholars) is merely another expression of consensus, in this case of consensus among scholars "elected" by acclamation from among their fellows. The "authority" created by such acclamation is fleeting as each man's opinions are automatically disregarded after his death. Much the same thing is true of the great Ulema (scholars) of Sunni Islam.
Therefore, for one group of Muslims, however large, to say that the consensus of some other group of Muslims is invalid or "un-Islamic" is merely vanity on a grand scale. That is particularly true if the smaller, armed and violent jihad inclined group of Muslims are willing to fight, kill and die for their views. Perfumed and elegantly dressed Muslim ladies are frquently heard expressing such disapproval of jihadis. More vanity is expressed in this. More vanity.
The spokesmen for the various parts of the US governnment are now engaged in telling the world that this unfavored group or that unfavored group are un-Islamic or the like. More vanity.
The corpus of Islamic scripture contained in the Qur'an and the wildly varying collections of hadith (traditions of the early Muslims) is so vast that it contains ample justification for any sort of view desired.
We can kill our way to a state of relative quiet in which the jihadi impulse is suppressed for some time, perhaps a long time but that is all we can do. Until the Muslims taken as a whole themselves see the futility of the unending struggle against the kuffar (unbelievers) we will always face the prospect of more violent jihad. pl
A measure sponsored by Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (D-Va.) would repeal the 2002 Iraq authorization and approve action against the Islamic State for one year only, with limitations on ground troops and on applicability to any other so-called “associated forces.”
“Ultimately, this is about a precedent for the future,” Kaine said in a speech Tuesday at the Center for American Progress. “If Congress allows this president to begin this campaign against ISIL . . . we will have created a horrible precedent that future presidents will no doubt use.”
In the House, a bill introduced by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) would repeal the Iraq AUMF. It would pass a new authorization narrowly allowing action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and sunset that measure, along with the 2001 authorization, after 18 months." Washpost
What the president and his friends, people like TOLFSC, McCain, Peter King and the like, are asserting is that the constitutional right and power of the Congress to declare the country to be at war is a nullity and void of meaning. They assert this to be true because the president is also commander in chief of the armed forces and they believe he can order the armed forces to do whatever he pleases.
It was understood by the framers of the constitution that the the commander in chief power did not extend to taking the country to war without the consent of Congress. In his Federalist Papers writing on the subject (#25 et al) Hamilton writes at some length to justify the existence of a standing army and navy. It is clear from his thinking that those forces that might be maintained would be for the purpose of frontier defense and protection of maritime commerce in time of peace and that the assent of Congress would be needed for wartime expansion of those forces and mobilization of the state militia. What is claimed now is an unlimited power for the president to make war as he wishes.
At the same time there is interest in writing a new AUMF while letting the old ones lapse. The text of a new AUMF should be looked at very carefully. There are many parochial agendas in Washington. Not the least of these is the CIA desire to regain its lost powers through control of the DNI office and the "kneecapping" of defense intelligence. Those goals could be served in a new AUMF. pl
(This map is somewhat inaccurate. IS holds a lot more of Anbar Province than is shown as well as a group of towns SOUTH of Baghdad astride the roads to Kuwait)
- How much local "coalition air" actually participated in last night's well planned attacks in Syria? Which targets did Jordan, Qatar, UAE, Bahrein and Saudi Arabia attack and with what?
- Egypt obviously declined an invitation to participate. Why?
- France and Britain were absent from the night's festivities. Why?
- The Syrian government was informed in advance and the Director of Operations (J-3) of the Joint Staff described Syrian air defense radar as "passive," i.e., unresisting, during the operation. The Children's Crusade (NSC and State staffs) continues to insist that there was no coordination with the SAG. Well, boys and girls, what occurred is called "de-confliction" among the adults and that is undoubtedly coordination. Semantic BS does not change reality. It just makes you look childish.
- The J-3 showed pictures that demonstrated that multi-million dollar air weapons can put a missile or bomb into a pickle barrel if that is desired, but, to what effect? His pictures ahowed that very minimal damage had actually been inflicted in the effort to completely avoid civilian casualties. That is commendable but the truth is that weapons can become so accurate that they are not impressive to the enemy, especially to an enemy like IS who WANT TO DIE. IMO, IS will simply move on in adapting to the reality of US air attacks that seek to limit damage and casualties. They have already been doing that by hiding their black flags and dispersing their assets among the civilian population. Yes, I know, they are using "human shields." So what?
- Turkey remains an enormous problem for the Children's Crusade. They declined an invitation to participate in air attacks against IS. They continue to deny the US their air bases, but they are also blocking Turkish Kurds from entering the fight against IS and are complicit in marketing IS oil.
- Christiane Amanpour served up the Assad/IS alliance meme on CNN today. This is absurd. IS, Nusra Front and all the other opposition groups are the SAG's deadly enemies. Buying the enemy's goods across the lines does not make you their ally. In the American War Between the States, the Union Government authorized the purchase of the Confederacy's cotton across the lines under license from the US Government. Why? The North needed the cotton to make uniforms and tents for the Union Army. Similarly Syria needs that oil to have a functioning economy. That is quite different from Turkey's role in helping IS market its oil at home and abroad. Turkey also continues to facilitate the flow of IS people in and out of Syria.
- An IO campaign is being waged against the American people. The major media are complicit in this. My sources in the CT community tell me that the Khorassan group is not a new phenomenon at all. Its existence has been well known. The targets have been long designated, but now at the moment in which the president's authority to wage unrestricted war is questioned this fear generating meme of imminent attacks in the United States is trundled out so that the media can whip up more war fever.
- The Iraqi Army and its Shia militia allies have been defeated once again. In Anbar Province west of Baghdad the Iraqi Army lost over a hundred men killed or captured yesterday as well as an army fortified position. In this process of defeat yet more American made equipment was captured by IS. An army spokesman whined on in Baghdad about the poor training provided by the US. Pathetic.
If we Americans don't start learning to deal with realities rather than childish dreams we are going to have a very rought time in this war against IS, the Nusra Front, and eventuall against the thoroughly Islamist infiltrated FSA. Grow up Obama and recognize the simple truth that the SAG is a de facto co-belligerent. pl
At the same time Turkish police have shown up at the border north of the city of Kobane which is under IS attack for the purpose of preventing Turkish Kurds from crossimg the border to fight alongside their ethnic kinsmen. Many of those who want to cross are Turkish Army and Jandarma veterans who are well trained.
Erdogan's police are using water cannons and tear gas to prevent their crossing. Why wuould Erdogan do that?
IMO, Erdogan, who has always supported IS has made a deal in which he will continue to deny NATO the use of facilities and will continue to support IS sub rosa (sort of). In this case he is helping IS cut its way to the Turkish border where logistical and other support will be easier to provide. At the same time this allows IS to clear up yet another space in its rear area before moving on to other matters.
In short, Turkey is now both a member of NATO (lapsed) and part of the Sunni salafi coalition headed by IS. Turkey should be required to choose which role it wants for itself and should be held to that choice. pl
(I decided to revert to this picture on advice of the committee.)
“What we didn’t do was predict the will to fight. That’s always a problem. We didn’t do it in Vietnam. We underestimated the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese and overestimated the will of the South Vietnamese. In this case, we underestimated ISIL [the Islamic State] and overestimated the fighting capability of the Iraqi army. . . .I didn’t see the collapse of the Iraqi security force in the north coming. I didn’t see that. It boils down to predicting the will to fight, which is an imponderable.”
Intelligence officials haven’t publicly discussed the prospects for success of President Obama’s small-footprint strategy for combating the Islamic State through a coalition of nations, without directly committing U.S. combat troops. But some officials appear wary. Ignatius in the Washpost
The Afghans have a modismo (a saying) that runs something like "All that is necessary for true satisfaction is to sit by the side of the river until the body of your enemy floats by."
I have a long standing and personal problem with Jimmy Clapper, and I am still waiting for the "float by" of the body. The man perjured himself before the senate last year. Obama protected him from prosecution. Clapper still refuses to acknowledge his crime.
He has always been an incompetent intelligence officer. He really is a bureaucratic, scheming politician who happens to be embedded in the intelligence business.
Now he admits this disastrous failure on his watch. "We" did this and "We" did that? Did he listen to the analysts? Did he? Did he advocate their positions?
He seems puzzled that the US keeps overestimating the ability of "friendly" forces. In many years of participation in this process, I have always seen the same thing. We overestimate the friendlies because the policy people who are the masters of government punish those who insist on saying that "the friendlies" are a pile of crap. They do that because they feel that "the friendlies" are their guys, the existence of whom is the product of the policy peoples' wisdom and they therefore resent criticism of "the friendlies." Since Jimmy and those like him are walking masses of unrestrained ambition they are careful not to displease the mighty.
Why is the man not gone? pl
"... the question of England, specifically a political quandary known as the West Lothian Question that has long bedeviled Britain since Scotland, along with Wales and Northern Ireland, began going down a road of decentralization several decades ago. They established their own legislative assemblies and already enjoy varying control over a broad array of domestic policy, including education, transport and environmental matters.
In England however, Scottish, Welsh and Irish members of Parliament still have a say in how England is run, an arrangement that irks many conservatives.
“There's a public concern out there,” said Alan Trench, a constitutional researcher at University College London. “The English think they're being mistreated.” LA Times
A lot of people will find the idea of the English being mistreated to be ironically funny, But, as we say in "the land of the free and the home of the brave," that's history. Not many Americans know any history. That is why we mouth nonsensical, dismissive inanities of that kind. A recent poll indicated that many US citizens cannot name the three co-equal branches of the federal government. Many think that the president is absolutely in control and are therefore puzzled when he/she/it cannot make sweeping changes to reflect their own taste. I have been watching the Kenburnsian revision of history now being screened as "The Roosevelts, an Intimate History." It is an excellent production that reflects Burns' left wing convictions. The series implicitly argues for governance by a disinterested "progressive" elite "to the manor born." I doubt that the people who need to watch this not too subtle exposition do so. I may be wrong. Perhaps they contemplate such matters during the commercial messages broadcast during NFL games.
"Will the UK become a federated state?" It seems inevitable to me considering the renewal of "the '45," Welsh restlessness and the angst of the English, but, then, I know more history than is good for me. A better question might be, why should the UK not become a federated state? What would be lost in such an evolution of form of government? The monarchy would presumably be continued. The English could have regional parliaments somewhat like US state legislatures. In such a system the Scots, Welsh and Ulstermen might be content at least for a while. Perhaps a written constitution arrived at with the sovereign's consent might contain a Bill of Rights that forbade laws like the Official Secrets Act and the methods by which the press is blocked from publication of unpleasant things.
I say that while aware of the sad slide toward federal government supremacy happening in the US. Yesterday a madman climbed over the fence in front of the White House, rushed up to the front door and went in before apprehended. He was lucky that he was not shot before he reached the door. I applaud the restraint of the Secret Service uniformed branch, but today the media are criticising them for not having killed this man. Their adequacy for the job of presidential security is questioned. The thought that a prudent judgment about the threat actually posed by him was a good thing is absent from public commentary. Instead, the questions raised are all about further "hardening" the White House as bunker.
How would England be divided into regions? I do not know enough about the country to have an opinion. Literature, the "Hinterland" series on Welsh TV and an endless required exposure to UK TV at my house are not a sufficient basis for judgment, but I would like to learn what people here think of the question? pl
"What will Barack Obama do? This is the question posed by everyone. What will he do in Iraq? What will he do in Syria? How does he intend to address Russian-Iranian opposition? How will he wage a war that requires Sunnis in Iraq to be ground soldiers, when they are asking for clarity "before" and not "after" military action? How will he reassure his partners in the alliance that he is truly serious on Syria?
The US president may decide in the end that this is not his war, and that it is best to return to his country to fortify it against terrorism, and let ISIS unleash itself on everyone until it commits suicide or until it is slayed eventually. This is perhaps the course he might choose if it appears to him that all those who want him to fight their wars on their behalf will meet his war with ingratitude and petulance."
Esmat al-Sheikh, head of the Kurdish forces defending Kobani, said fierce clashes continued to the east, west and south of the city, which is bordered by Turkey to the north. IS fighters armed with rockets, artillery, tanks and armored vehicles seized from the Iraqi army in Mosul had advanced to within 20 km (12 miles) of Kobani, he told Reuters by telephone.
"The whole world is silent," he said. "Every day we hear there is going to be an attack on ISIS. But where is it? ... Will it come after everyone is already dead?"
The attack prompted a Kurdish militant call to the youth of Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast to join the fight against IS, whose offensive began on Tuesday after the U.S. military said Syrian moderates would probably need the Syrian Kurds’ help to defeat Islamic State, along with the help of Turkey and Jordan." Reuters
So much for those who have claimed recently that IS is a spent force that will disintegrate from internal contradictions, They are now on the offensive again
"Rockets, artillery, tanks, armored vehicles," I guess that answers the question of whether or not IS can use relatively modern weapons. If they capture or buy on the international markets some fairly effective AAA weapons they will truly be a menace to a modern force.
BTW, I was informed yesterday that in the Mosul Dam operation the principal ground forces on the "friendly side were Al-Quds Iranian troops not Pesh Merga and they had the benefit of adjusted US CAS. pl
"... an apparent call for attacks not only on the ruling family and Westerners in Saudi Arabia, but also on the kingdom's senior Muslim scholars who have denounced ISIS, Jazrawi said:
"It is time to say 'we will expel the disbelievers from the Arabian Peninsula'. The fire begins with a small spark. That spark will ignite an explosive fire directed at the Saud Family and to their rabbis and priests."
He called on self-declared Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to lead the advance on the birthplace of Islam.
Saudi Arabia's top religious council, the only body in the country authorized to issue fatwas or Islamic legal opinions, declared Wednesday that "terrorism is a heinous crime," in the most comprehensive attack the kingdom's conservative council have made so far on Islamic radicalism and ISIS.
As I wrote here before, SA with its large potential 5th Column is the only logical primary objective for IS. pl
Read more: http://dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Sep-18/271099-isis-fighter-urges-jihad-in-saudi-arabia-site.ashx#ixzz3Dmjifffq
"Now's the time, and now's the hour" Robert Burns
The Langs of my family were a Jacobite sept of Macdonald of Glencoe. They left Scotland for Louth and Meath fifty years before Culloden after Killiecrankie and the Glencoe Massacre. They hoped to avoid taking the oath of Allegiance to King William.
[Note: I asked Pat for permission to do a post about this announcement this afternoon, I figured it was good to have an occasional reminder that we are actually in the 21st century, and not all news is depressing news. -- Jon Goff]
Today NASA announced that it would be awarding contracts to Boeing and SpaceX to complete development of vehicles for carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station. These contracts (up to $4.2B in the case of Boeing, and up to $2.6B in the case of SpaceX) cover not only the remainder of development and certification tasks needed by both providers to enable the first manned demo flights of their respective to ISS in late 2017, but also covers up to 6 crew transfer flights to ISS after that. These awards were "firm fixed-price" FAR contracts, which means that the companies get paid the fixed amount they bid, broken up over a series of technical milestones--if they don't complete a given milestone, they don't get paid, and if things cost more than expected, the companies themselves eat the difference.
For those wondering why Boeing got more than SpaceX, it is simply that they proposed a higher price for completing the same milestones. NASA wanted to have two providers, to make sure that they don't get stuck in a situation where they cannot access their $100B space station in case one vendor has issues with their vehicle or the launcher that boosts it to orbit. There was a third developer, Sierra Nevada Corporation, who was not selected for contract award, presumably because NASA felt that their vehicle was either more risky, or more expensive than those proposed by SpaceX or Boeing.
(Sean Connery and what's his name in "The Man Who Would be King.)
Marty and Chuck were up on the Hill today before the Senate "Committee On The Conduct Of The War" (oops, wrong war) to explain the modalities of the US led coalition's coming degradation and then destruction of IS at the hands of the "Coalition of the Feeble Arabs." Their pleadings matched up well with my post of a few days ago entitled "Too Many Moving Parts, Too Many."
Chuck called him Marty on TV today, so I will also. Sorry, general. I thought you were the professional head of the US armed forces but your boss thinks you are "Marty." I suppose that his squadmates always called him Chuck.
What came through strongly to me in this day's work, was the unreality of the whole thing. It was largely an expression of various planning goals and hopes assembled by people who still do not understand the peoples of the region, Islam, etc. as well as the fact that those peoples have their own agendas which usually include the desired goal of making fools out of the ifranj, the poor, trusting ifranj. Someone reminded me recently that when I first briefed at the WH during Desert Storm, one of the leading lights there said to me, "you mean there are two kinds of Islam?" We have gotten a little past that but not much.
THE PLAN hinges on the willing cooperation of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the Gulflets, Egypt and a fleeting, ephemeral, will of the wisp group called the "Fake Syrian Army" (FSA). Oops! Make that the "Free Syrian Army."
Marty said a couple of times today that the situation in Syria is that all the Sunni Arabs are combined together against Assad's handful of Alawis and a few others.
Where did he get that idea? DIA is a competent organization and they work for him. With that notion in mind Marty expects that we will be able to recruit 5,400 previously untrained Syrians from refugee camps, send them to a year's military training in Saudi Arabia, organize them and maybe a few more contingents in later cohorts into "brigades" and then send them into Syria where they will defeat both IS and the SAG.
A major flaw in this scheme is the simple truth that many, many Sunni Arabs in Syria adhere to the Syrian government because they are in abject terror of IS, the Nusra Front and similar bands of medieval lunatics. The Syrian Army is now thought to be around 130,000 in number. 30% of that is Sunni Arabs. In addition there are 100,000 odd Shabiha pro-government militia. God knows how many IS there will be by then. Marty thinks they will have melted away, afeered of US air power.
McCain and his consort, the OLFSC, asked a few good questions today:
- Are we going to send this analog of the "Bay of Pigs Brigade" into combat against all there might be by then in Syria without benefit of air cover and CAS? The answer seemed to be yes in the expectaion that the people of Cuba, err, Syria will rise to strike down all malefactors. and thus eliminate the need to grasp uncomfortable nettles.
- What happens if the Brigadistas are defeated by the bad people? asked McCain. Ah, they won't be, seemed to be the answer from Marty.
- But what if they are, pressed the OLFSC? Numb silence at the thought ensued.
- What would you do if this PLAN failed asked McCain? Marty replied that all plans are based on assumptions (true) and that if the "Plateau of Sheep" PLAN fails, then his assumption (that it would succeed) would have been proven wrong and there would have to be ANOTHER PLAN. The atmosphere was then laden with the implication that ANOTHER PLAN would mean that the US would take over the war and fight it with its own forces.
Well, boys and girls, IMO that would mean several more years of COINista baloney in Syria AFTER we conquer the country, and then a long, long occupation by us.
I will not dwell at length on Turkey's feckless abandonment of NATO, Iraq's general fecklessness, Saudi Arabia's untrustworthiness and all the rest. Maybe we will do that some other time. pl
Right now, we are Brother Bear facing Brother Rabbit who is enticing us to jump into the briar patch. We have already been fully suckered by AQ, http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2013/11/download-part-i-understanding-syria.html We should not permit ourselves to be so suckered again.
In earlier discussions on this blog, I have taken the position that a new, true state is forming. Many of you disagreed with me. The recent rejection of Obama’s overtures throughout the region and the continuing trajectory of Turkey only reinforce my impression of a synthesizing state. Initially, I thought that the real founders of the new state, whatever its name ultimately turns out to be, were the Sunni tribes and their leaders in Iraq. My vision was too narrow. Instead, it appears there will be multiple competing threads seeking control and a charter membership, including some in Turkey, Syria, Jordan, and KSA. Every new competitor for a founder status just increases the likelihood that a Caliphate will soon emerge as a real state with all of the functional features of a “Westphalian” state except for agreed-upon borders because the Caliphate meme extends to a dream of worldwide Islamic domination.
The meme of the Caliphate is just too basic and fundamental within Islamic history, memory, and thought for it to be dismissed and to be “contained”, “degraded”, and “defeated” within the present historical context.
Current western policy expressed by Obama in his ISIS speech is simply wrong, historically and practically. Obama bases his policy upon these false assumptions:
“Now let's make two things clear: ISIL is not "Islamic." No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL's victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al-Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria's civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way. when he preached,”
The statement that “No religion condones the killing of innocents,” is laughable. If history teaches any lesson, it is that one of the fundamental features of nearly all religions is that they repeatedly kill innocents. A very large swath of western history is the history of various religious sects killing innocents. Likewise, similar killings under the cloak of “religion” make up the history of most of the rest of the world.
The argument that ISIL is merely a terrorist organization and thus cannot be a state is equally fallacious. For now, but not perhaps later, ISIL is the standard bearing manifestation of the meme of the Sunni Islamic Caliphate over which there appear which many contenders for control. Even in the most recent history, Obama neglects to remember that Israel started as a terrorist movement and, in many ways, continues to be a terrorist state as it continues to use terrorism against its Palestinian and other opponents.
Increasingly, Turkey is on a trajectory to emerge as a province, if not the capitol, of the emerging state. The Caliphate is now formed, yet still emerging. Ultimately, in some form or another, it will probably encompass all of Turkey, Sunni Iraq, most of Syria, Jordan, and most likely at lease the regions containing Jidda and Mecca, if not all of the Sunni regions of the KSA.
No western policy or strategy will be able to stop this process because the idea has reached maturity within the mental genes of too many young Sunnis to be derailed. Western policy should be fashioned to treat the problem as a problem of balances of power between the competing regional powers and to reap whatever advantages that can be obtained by playing the competitors against each other, while staying out of the heart of the conflict as much as possible.
As I see it, the only policy that may be viewed 25 years hence as a wise and successful one will be a policy where the west stands back and lets the Islamic players slug it out among themselves. If the West continues its current R2P policies, when we look back from 2040 (if the human race survives that long) the current western policy will be seen simply as stupid and suicidal.
Somehow, the language of the western meme covering this thing needs to be modified to permit US to step back and watch the upcoming gory show without wading in too deep into the sucking quicksand.
How can we help US "get real" with the new meme and stop wanting to tear around in the briar patch only to be wounded with thousands of thorns?
"... after issuing plenty of tough talk earlier this week, the White House has continued to remain adamant that no major deployment of U.S. combat troops will be used against the radical Sunni militants on the ground.
Instead, the Administration hopes to recruit and bolster Sunni proxy forces in the Middle East, including opposition groups currently fighting inside Syria.
“Ultimately, to destroy [ISIS], we do need to have a force, an anvil against which they will be pushed, ideally Sunni forces,” McDonagh
"A U.S. official on Friday acknowledged that NATO ally Turkey had complicated efforts to build a moderate Syrian rebel force by coordinating with groups, including al Qaida’s Nusra Front, that were considered off limits by the Obama administration.
Adam L Silverman, PhD*
Barry, Brigadier General Ali, and Confused Ponderer have all asked if I have misread the CPA's rules, specifically in terms of how long they were intended to be in force. Overall, I would say I did and the error is my own. I have gone back and corrected, with strikethrough and an "Updated: Correction" label the original post. For a really good discussion of why the CPA orders, rules, and regulations can be confusing, please give this a look. There were problems with dating, posting, promulgating, and wording throughout the CPA regulation process.
Since I am a big fan of marking beliefs to market as the economists, specifically Professor Delong, like's to say I wanted to make sure I get this clarified, specifically as to why I was confused. Basically, I missed/misread the transition order while focusing on the wording of specific orders. My basic source of confusion is the way that actual individual CPA regulations are worded. For instance, in Section 4 of Order 7, titled Income Tax Rates for Future Years, states: "The highest individual and corporate income tax rates for 2004 and subsequent years shall not exceed 15 percent." While I recognize that their is a CPA order dealing with the Iraqi ability to adjust CPA rules after transfer of full sovereignty, there is no ambiguity in this regulation - a regulation written before the what could happen after we leave reg. Similarly the de-Baathification order, which is CPA Order 1, is equally ambiguous regarding how long this is in effect for. Specifically the wording of Section 1: 1.
* Adam L. Silverman most recently served as a civilian subject matter expert with the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Security Dialogue and US Army Europe. Prior to that he was the Cultural Advisor at the US Army War College from JUL 2010 through JUN 2014. He was deployed in Iraq as the Cultural Advisor for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team/1st Armored Division in 2008.
Over the last week, there were several eye opening statements concerning the civil war in Ukraine. On 4 September, Alexei Mozgovoi spoke out against the ceasefire as a betrayal of Novorossiya and vowed to fight on. He repeated this in his manifesto on 8 September and called on his countrymen “to create an honest, decent, fair society” free of the oligarchs and corruption… a socialist paradise if you will. Then on 11 September, Igor Ivanovich Strelkov gave a press briefing in Moscow. He declared “We will not allow for Russia to be Ripped Asunder and ruined.” He identified the enemies who “are preparing to fight Russia for a long time and in earnest. The West and the Fifth Column make virtually no secret of their plans to overthrow President Putin; and subsequently to completely dismantle Russia.“
Men like Mozgovoi are focused on the establishment of a free and independent Novorossiya extending from Kharkov to Odessa and the destruction of the junta in Kiev. The primary means to achieve these goals is armed struggle. Anything beyond these goals and means is secondary at best. Strelkov was among these men when he was dodging rocket and artillery fire in Slavyansk and Donetsk. He led these men and spoke for them. He still stands with them, but he does not wear blinders. He knows Putin has more things to worry about than just the independence of Novorossiya or even the welfare of Russian expatriates. As Strelkov sees it, the oligarchs and their allies in Russia, Ukraine and the rest of the West are dead set on destroying a Russia in ascendence and securing their own hegemony. Strelkov assessed his primary duty now to be in resisting the fifth column in Russia while still supporting the aspirations of Novorossiya.
Accompanying the statements of Mozgovoi and Strelkov, we have an excellent analysis by the Saker, “Strelkov: from swimming with Piranhas to swimming with Great White sharks,” from which I brazenly borrowed the title for this post. In his essay, he opines that Strelkov is going from fighting the junta in Kiev to taking on the Atlantic Integrationist Fifth Column whose “main political goal is to fully integrate Russia into the AngloZionist international system on a financial, political, economic and cultural levels.” Saker concludes that “the struggle for Russia is really a struggle for the future of the planet.” This is an interesting thesis. Whether we call them the oligarchs, the Atlantic Integrationists or the one percenters, is Putin leading the global fight against the new bourgeoisie? Putin’s success in chipping away at the petrodollar is surely an alarming development to the West. The ever tightening sanctions meant to beat Russia back into submission are being used by Putin in a judo move to hasten the creation of an alternate international economic coalition. And he had the audacity to reclaim Crimea as an integral part of Russia. He is certainly a far more formidable adversary than the entire Occupy Wall Street Movement.
The civil war in Ukraine is a microcosm of this global struggle. Or is it the front line of this struggle? The unchecked oligarchs have hollowed out Ukraine without mercy. Now they are allied with what were once fringe groups of hate filled neo-nazis nurtured by the US and the EU to become the junta in Kiev. This unholy amalgamation is bent on the destruction of people of east Ukraine who dare to defy the oligarchs and create the honest, fair and decent society imagined by Mozgovoi. The chocolate tycoon, Poroshenko, is doing his damnedest to widen this civil war into a world war.
I lack the expertise in economics and politics to fully develop the many nuances and interconnections present in these speeches and the commentaries that followed. And I certainly don't know how the events in the MidEast play into this scenario, if at all, but I’m sure the “workers collective” of SST can do a bang up job. I will leave you all, once again, with these lyrics from “Man of La Mancha” which I find appropriate as Mozgovoi, Strelkov and Putin gird for battle. Let’s hope they can also save us all from nuclear annihilation.
Hear me now Oh thou bleak and unbearable world, Thou art base and debauched as can be; And a knight with his banners all bravely unfurled Now hurls down his gauntlet to thee!
Summoned to the battle
It should be clear by now that IS is inviting the US to return its forces to the ME. That is one of the main purposes of their media operations and most especially the beheadings recorded for all to see. Why, one might ask would a nascent state with 30,000 odd fighters want to directly engage a military power as destructive as the United States?
IMO there are two reasons for this seemingly irrational behavior:
- If you accept the idea that the psychological impact of the horrible videos is deliberate, then it must be said that this tactic has been effective. American popular interest in seeking the destruction of IS has soared with the progressive revelation of mass murder of prisoners, many of whom were really not opponents of IS. These deaths prepared the way for the three beheading rituals staged thus far. BTW, has anyone here watched these videos in their entirety? I have not and will not. Do they actually show the head cutting? It is difficult to cut a man's head off with a knife that size. There is all that muscle, tendon, windpipe and spine to get through. There would be an awful lot of blood since the heart continues to pump throughout the process. In any event, the effect of the campaign of media horror has been to focus the US, French, UK and Australian governments on the matter. It appears to me that IS wants the US to come fight them. They may well believe that the US and its Western allies will collapse under the stress as Bin Laden believed we would.
-Secondly, these are mightily potent weapons in the struggle for control of the collective Sunni mind. The gesture of defiance explicit in the deeds appeals greatly to people who seek an absolutist answer to the riddle of existence. Fighters and money seem to be joining the cause and the horror of IS actions contributes to that achievement.
Kerry is blowing smoke up our collective fundaments.
- With their diplomatc hostages in IS hands, the Turks have a perfect excuse to avoid active participation. With this in play, they can simply refuse to allow their airfields to be used for strikes against IS. The use of Incerlik for surveillance drone operations is a minimum sop to NATO. Erdogan is playing with fire and he may well be burned before this ends.
- Marwan Mo'asher, a former foreign minister of Jordan said today that his country will not use its ground forces in this matter. He would not say that if the palace disagreed.
- The Gulf States want us to go fight for them and to that end will put money in the game and in SA's case let their big sandbox be used for training "moderate" Syrians.
- Egypt will take our money and that is about all they will do.
- Iraq. A laughable idea.
He has yet to name a Defense or Interior (police) minister. He has now ordered the Iraq Air Force to stop hitting targets in populated areas. That is exactly what IS wants him to do and why they are increasingly positioning themselves in populated areas. He will soon tell the US to desist from air operations in populated areas. That will be a very tough thing to overcome.
The Good Guys (FSA)
Some parts of the Free Syrian Army have now made agreements with IS that will call a halt to fighting between them so that the FSA can concentrate on fighting Assad's forces. The Nusra Front (AQ) brokered the deals. US delivery of weapons to the FSA will be just a way station in delivering this materiel to IS.
I believe, as a general rule, Governments achieve the reverse of their stated objectives. I hesitate to call it a unique universal law and there may also be other formulations. I first observed this in watching Governments at work in Australia. The Socialist, reformist Whitlam Federal Government did more to enrich the already wealthy and further impoverish the poor despite this being the reverse of its stated intentions. Similarly I noticed that the working man was better off under an avowedly conservative right of center administration while the wealthy marked time.
I then realised that what I was observing was not simple corruption, although there is still plenty of that, it is human fallibility. The actors I watched were honest striving believers. I know, but have not researched, the works of Isiah Berlin who perhaps among others observed that even good ends, diligently pursued, by their very nature preclude other good ends - good ends conflict.
International examples of this putative law are not hard to find. The desire of the British and French for "peace at any price" emboldened Hitler, resulting in the exact reverse of the stated intentions. Our recent attempts at establishing a purple fingered democracy in Iraq have resulted in the creation of a situation where at least some of us are longing for the relative peace and quiet of Saddam Hussiens Government. I am sure you can find even better examples.
This apparent law of nature seems entirely unknown in foreign policy circles in Washington, Canberra, Ottawa, London and other Western capitals. "Destroying ISIS" and "The Freedom of the Ukraine" are the stated goals and under that banner we embark on yet another crusade in the Middle East while simaltaneously poking the Russian Bear. What could possibly go wrong?
If we apply our new law, it is not hard to speculate that attacking ISIS does a number of things that are not in our interests:
1) It dignifies and recognises ISIS as a serious player in international affairs - A state with borders, leaders, spokesmen and institutions. By calling on other muslim states to participate in its destruction we risk internal destabilisation of those states themselves.
2) It makes ISIS a rallying point for every disaffected male muslim teenager and young adult in the entire world, not to mention the older and perhaps wealthier muslims who have had to put up with the thirteen years of injustice, discrimination and abuse dealt out to them by the West since 911.
Applying the law suggests the consequences of attacking ISIS will be to make it stronger, spawn associated radical muslim factions in Western countries and completely destabilize the Persian Gulf - the exact reverse of our stated intentions.
Similarly our efforts to confront Russia should actuallly strengthen its voice in international affairs, drive it closer to China and the other BRICS nations and weaken NATO and the European economy.
Not only do we need "hard hearted empaths" in Government, we need cynical well educated old men who understand:
“Based on the decision that the president announced last night, these Syrian opposition fighters will now be operating with the backing of the United States military,” he said. “That is to say, these opposition fighters will have American aircraft taking airstrikes in support of their ground operations. There is no doubt that will significantly enhance their capability on the battlefield.”" Washpost
"May be able to defy expectations," that means expectations are actually low. For US Tacair to be vectored there will have to be SF men on the ground to designate targets. This means that we will inevitably lose people and some of them may be captured by IS, Nusra or some other group. It also means that we will end by vectoring air onto SAG targets.
The Syrian foreign ministy announced today to a CNN stringer that a lack of de-confliction between Syrian air defences and US+ air missions may result in engagements. He said that the SAG wishes to make some arrangement to avoid that. The stringer looked at him speechless, finally got the idea and then tried to explain it to a CNN anchor who had a very difficult time trying to grasp the concept. pl
"His foreign ministry warned that if President Obama proceeds with a plan for air strikes in Syria against ISIS, it would violate international law.
“This step, in the absence of a UN Security Council decision, would be an act of aggression,” ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said, according to Interfax news agency.
Can this admonition really be delivered with a straight face?
Set aside for a moment the substantive issue of whether American military action in Syria does or should require United Nations Security Council authorization." NY Times
Once again the people who cannot grasp the idea of escalation leading to war between the US+ and Russia, ridicule Russian seriousness about their policy.
Russia has recently tested new submarine launched ICBMs with a range of 5,000 miles. Hello! Is anyone home in the NSC?
Referring back to the bit about US Air conducting uncoordinated, un-deconflicted air attacks inside Syria, consider a future in which Russian forces in Syria engage US+ aircraft. Consider it. pl
"... the concept of the Free Syrian Army as a unified force with an effective command structure is a myth.
Whatever force the United States can muster, it will face a jihadist army that has surged in size. Todd Ebitz, a spokesman for the Central Intelligence Agency, said Thursday that the agency now believes ISIS has between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters in Iraq and Syria, an increase from a previous assessment of more than 10,000 fighters.
“This new total reflects an increase in members because of stronger recruitment since June following battlefield successes and the declaration of a caliphate,” said Mr. Ebitz.
The Syrian rebels are a scattered archipelago of mostly local forces with ideologies that range from nationalist to jihadist. Their rank-and-file fighters are largely from the rural underclass, with few having clear political visions beyond a general interest in greater rights or the dream of an Islamic state.
Most have no effective links to the exile Syrian National Coalition, meaning they have no political body to represent their cause. And the coalition’s Supreme Military Council, which was intended to unite the moderate rebel forces, has all but collapsed." NY Times
Supposedly there are 1200 separate rebel groups in Syria. IMO delivering weapons to the "moderates" is simply making a delivery of materiel that will eventually end in the hands of jihadists.
The fortunate final recipients will use this equipment to fight until they are destroyed by some of the bigger groups or merged into others, probably jihadist.
Let us say for moment that some constellation among the galaxy of rebel groups succeeds in destroying the SAG. What we will then see, IMO, is more genocide. This time it will be against Alawis, Shia and Christians and a focus will emerge on Lebanon and Jordan.
The neocons started this juggernaut rolling with their insistence on attacking Iraq. Will they be pleased when jihadis sit on Israel's NE frontier? pl
"A goal of marginal containment through direct support to regional players combined with periodic retaliatory strikes might be the maximum realistic scope possible against the IS Sunni state-let. Arm and train the Kurds positioning for independence to press IS on the east particularly around Kirkuk.Focus on small territorial gains and border consolidation. Form an alliance of convenience with Iran; also with Assad where mutually beneficial in the west. Assist the Shia Iraqis to train and fight with air support from the southeast, support Jordan heavily on the southwest of IS and make plain to Saudi, Kuwait and Turkey that they could be mangled by the IS monster they created. The chance to destroy IS is gone. Targeting economic sites - gasoline refineries, small oil fields, bootleg pipelines, electric grids, plus pre-emptive strikes on any military concentrations might work but better to buy off the Sunni tribes slowly with Saudi money. US public support for boots on the ground in the US is weak. US public support for covert and indirect methods is probable. NATO allied support is meaningless. Let them focus on their own eastern problems.... Does Obama have the support of the military and I'm not referring to the officers - but the enlisted? I don't see the trust. Does Congress have the will to fund more war? Even air wars are expensive. I doubt the political will exists. Past this Nov. election it will be budget gamesmanship all the way to the 2016 presidential." BTH on SST
It is axiomatic in the planning "bidness" that a good plan is as simple as possible. Any well done plan is set within a "universe" of assumptions concerning the situation in which the plan is viable or even needed. For that reason there must exist among the planners a clear and valid understanding of the environment in which the plan will be executed. I do not see that lucidity of thought in the Obama government
The various tasks assigned by a plan must be capable of accomplishment and they must not be mutually interfering, i.e., they must not block each other as they are performed. The tasks in a plan are colloquially referred to by planners as "moving parts." Another planning axiom holds that the more moving parts there are in a plan, the more probable is failure in execution.
Obama appears to have a mass of moving parts in his campaign plan:
- The plan assumes that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey can be made into active supporters of an anti-IS "war." Qatar and Saudi Arabia were the only Wahhabi dominated states until IS proclaimed its caliphal status. These two countries are deeply sympathetic to IS' goals if not its methods. Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia were instrumental in the early stages of development of IS as it morphed from AQ Iraq, into the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and then to a final glory as IS. Do we really think it will be easy to enlist Qatar and Saudi Arabia in this fight? Do we really think that these deeply Sunni states are going to support continued Shia governance from Baghdad?
Adam L Silverman, PhD**
Colonel Lang in his post presidential speech remarks indicated that one thing that would need to be done to isolate ISIL within Iraq would be to entice the Sunni tribes away from them. This followed his assessment of the difficulty that the new Iraqi unity government will have when trying to appoint the new leadership for the Ministries of Defense and Interior. One thing that would go a long way to assisting with actually building both a unity government and reorienting the Sunni tribes back towards Iraq would be the repeal of the Iraqi de-Baathification Law of 2010*** and the rescinding of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) de-Baathification Edict of 2003. The latter would be easier than the former, but equally as important. Per the CPA's own edicts, any rule, regulation, edict, etc that they promulgated could never be undone by any future Iraqi government. So the US which imposed these rules on all future variants of Iraq will have to rescind this rule in addition to any action the Iraqi government would take. The best thing that the US could do on this front is for the President to issue an executive order rescinding this particular CPA order , Order #1, while having his representatives in Baghdad attempt to influence the new Iraqi government to repeal their own de-Baathification Law as one of the first orders of business of the new Iraqi Parliament.
The reason this is important is that it removes one of the grievances that provided the opening for former Saddam era Iraqi military and intelligence personnel to support ISIL. As long as the de-Baathification laws and edicts stand, members of the al Douris, of the Sufi Naqshbandi order, and significant and often very senior members of both Sunni and Shi'a tribes are prohibited from being full members of their own state and society. They are prohibited from assisting in its defense and its government. De-Baathification has negatively effected the honor of many Iraqis whose only crime was serving the Iraqi government or military while Saddam Hussein was in power. We did not prohibit every German, Italian, or Vichy French from the life of their states after World War II as we knew it would engender resentment, hostility, and impact post Nazi, post Mussolini, or post Vichy Germany, Italian, and/or French society. In many cases we kept whole agencies, units, and/or bureacracies in place as we needed the knowledge base for continuity. This is how, for instance, the German BND grew out of one the Nazi's intel agencies. Repeal and repudiation will not be a panacea, but if part of the theater strategy is to reorient the tribes towards the government and against ISIL as an indigenous force multiplier, providing relief from this internal ostracism is absolutely necessary. It would also increase the pool of qualified candidates to run the Ministries of Defense and Interior.
* Please see this post for explanation of the correction.
** Adam L. Silverman most recently served as a civilian subject matter expert with the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Security Dialogue and US Army Europe. Prior to that he was the Cultural Advisor at the US Army War College from JUL 2010 through JUN 2014. He was deployed in Iraq as the Cultural Advisor for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team/1st Armored Division in 2008.
---- Minor Update---
(I forgot the second footnote...)
** This law was pushed for passage by Ahmed Chalabi. It was ultimately waived for the 2010 national elections, but has not, as far as I can find in reporting, been formally repealed.
Adam L. Silverman, PhD
For those who did not want to watch, were not able to watch, or want to be able to go back and refer to the President's remarks on ISIL, the transcript can be found below the jump:
These remarks are follow-on to my essay about Chatterers. The responses on Pat’s site were so intelligent and pointed that they inspired me to think about minds I had learned the most from growing up. French writers had often acted as ideals for achieving mental integrity, and one writer I treasured was Jean Bruyer who died in the 17 century.
I loved the masterpieces of the French literature because they were lucid, piercing, ingenious, clever and straightforward. The French never resorted to using awkward or ostentatious phases unlike their English contemporaries. Bruyer’s book was called, “Characters,” and in reading it, I discovered that Bruyer was a wonderful philosopher and aphorist. I read his book so often in the Penguin paperback that it finally fell to pieces. But the radiant light of Bruyere never dimmed, never faded, and never became usual.
His essays are free on the web.
Bruyer is unique because he sees the personalities that he studies steadily, accurately, and in detail. Many annoy him, some outrage him, but all were of interest to him. He can be scornful, but not venomous. He dislikes, but he doesn’t hate. He disdains, but he doesn’t damage. He has none of the vitriolic bitterness of Swift, for example.
My love of French literature carried ne to unusual places. In 1967, I read a history of the French novel beginning with the Princess of Cleves and ending with six volumes of Proust, and it took more than a year to do and it led me to an interesting character. I once got an interview with a French man, Paul Mus who was in exile and teaching at Yale. It was only my third day at LIFE Magazine, and I had to take a tour in the Text Department, and a writer from, the Text Department kept grumbling about being forced to do an interview with “some god dam Frenchman.” He had to take train on a Friday night to interview him, and he was out of sorts, and he grumbled so much that I finally volunteered. I had just been hired as the Entertainment Reporter, even though I had applied to be a war correspondent.
Paul Mus was “the goddam Frenchman and he was the first man of genius I had ever met. He was squat, block faced silver haired, and with a presence that smote you like a physical force. He boasted that during World War II, while riding on the Metro, he had razored off the gold buttons of the German officers, an offense punishable by death.
It was clear to me that no one had stood up to him for a number of years; by habit, he was used intimidating and being obeyed and admired. But I was there to get a story, and when he told me he wouldn’t talk to me because he hated Life Magazine’s publisher, Henry Luce, I worked up my courage and told him that Henry Luce had been death 18 months, and while I didn’t mean to be rude, but I thought his remark obtuse.
Silence fell. He eyed me coldly. He asked me what I knew about France, and I briefly told him. He then said, out of all the French literature you’ve read what did you like best? I replied, Baudelaire’s notebooks. That was not entirely true, but we were in duel of wits, and he said “What about them?” and I said that Baudelaire hated the Belgians because he thought they were a people born to think in unison. I said I feared that the Americans would end up very much like the Belgians. He stared at me as I had been an elephant who had just sung a soprano aria in an opera.
The purple assed mandrill of peace has been spotted among the sunflowers on the steppes of eastern Ukraine… or Novorossiya. There have been only fleeting glimpses so far and no one with open eyes and a clear mind thinks a breeding population will be established anytime soon.
On the plus side, the current ceasefire has seen a significant reduction of the bombardment of Donetsk and Lugansk. The people of Lugansk are starting to clean up their neighborhoods and rebuild. Electricity, water and communication services are beginning to be reestablished. Refugees are returning to their homes. However, neither side sees this truce as a prelude to peace, just a lull before the fighting resumes. The Ukies are using the truce to regroup and redeploy their battered forces. They needed this respite badly. That is what they have done in every other truce they have called. Separatist militia leaders Alexei Mozgovoi and Igor Bezler have noted this and decided to stay on the offensive. Bezler said, “Ukraine’s criminal authorities resumed military operations. Now there is no way back for us. There is a long road ahead – to Kiev!” That is the general opinion of the separatist fighters.
But the separatists were not, as some have claimed, on the verge of major victory before the ceasefire was agreed to in Minsk. They also needed a respite to regroup and resupply, if not at 1800 GMT on 6 September, then within a few days of that.Their forces are not strong enough to defeat the entire Ukrainian army or make the run to Odessa to create greater Novorossiya. They are spread thin. The inability to quickly reduce the many pockets of Ukie units is evidence of this. Most of the separatist units operate as small saboteur-reconnaissance groups. This is how Mozgovoi described the evolving tactics employed by his Ghost Brigade:
“Here are the outlines of a few situations in which my unit has participated. I will start with the failures – the defense of Lisichansk. To suppress our forces, Ukraine threw eleven thousand men at us. Our lack of success was characterized by the fact that we were still true to the original tactics – the tactics of a clean fight: creating a clear front, setting up checkpoints. That was a mistake. This war, constructed by Ukies, is built on deceit: from the news to the battlefield; and because we were expecting a clean fight, we suffered casualties. I feel the loss of my men, most severely. For me, a loss of even a few individuals is a painful blow.
“Yes, we have won fights; we pushed the enemy and they have retreated, but they always returned, in greater numbers, with more weaponry. Here is a shining example of this pattern. They set up a checkpoint at Staraya Krasnyanka, between Kremennoye and Rybezhnoye. We worked it over ten times. One day we destroy it; the next morning it is already manned with new people. Today – destroy, tomorrow morning – new people. Ukies load up Kamaz trucks with corpses and straight away, bring in new personnel – new men destined to become corpses the following day.
“The tactics of the Ukrainian army can be summed up in this: they have placed the full weight of war upon the artillery and the rocket launchers. They commence an attack with a purge of territory, which they do using Grads and self-propelled artillery systems.
“They call it targeted attacks but the outcomes of such attacks are huge areas, whole squares swept “clean”. Afterwards, the tanks arrive with means to destroy in case anyone is left alive somewhere. Finally, their armored personnel carriers follow, manned with soldiers to finish up. It seems like their tactics are unbeatable. That is the reason why we’ve changed our own tactics.
“Even though we have grown in numbers, I refuse to send men into the open. We prefer to work in saboteur-reconnaissance groups (“SRG”): they went, they saw, they worked, and they returned. That’s all. We work on their communications; we work on their distributions and their ammunition warehouses. If they don’t have ammo, they don’t have the ability to fire.
“Only yesterday I was informed about the destruction of a column of 10 Urals trucks that were delivering the missiles for the Grads, which were headed toward Donetsk. What can be more effective? Even if they have the launchers, without the shells those are simply piles of scrap metal, ballast. We hit them with RPGs and “Shmels” grenade launchers. (Colonel Cassad)
Mozgovoi, BTW, is not at all pleased with the Minsk agreement and the bogus ceasefire. Not only did he decide to remain on the offensive after Ukie forces opposing him violated the ceasefire, but he has called for the political leadership of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples Republics to step down.
Let me state at the outset that I think Bob Scales, a retired Army major general and former commandant of the U.S. Army War College, is a good, honorable man. But he is wrong in his latest analysis suggesting that another recently retired Army General, Stanley McChrystal, is a "prophet." Another full disclosure re Stan McChrystal--I am a big fan. He does not know me, but I did work with him indirectly during his entire tenure with the Special Ops community. He and I passed each other at his base in Balad in May of 2006--he was headed to the JOC and I was searching for the latrine. We nodded gravely at each other.
I agree with General Scales that McChrystal is a genuine visionary who transformed the Special Operations community and its approach to terrorism. But the SOF approach will not defeat ISIS.
Let's fist consider "http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-only-way-to-defeat-the-islamic-state/2014/09/05/4b2d7bd4-3459-11e4-a723-fa3895a25d02_story.html"General Scales' position on the matter:
Enter a new prophet, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former head of the U.S. Special Operations Command. Over the past 20 years, McChrystal and his teams have developed another uniquely American method of war by substituting skill, information and precision for mass, maneuver and weight of shell. We first watched the McChrystal method at work in Afghanistan following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when small Special Forces units and the Afghan Northern Alliance teamed to destroy the Taliban using precision strikes delivered from aircraft high overhead.
"The report said Hezbollah has an estimated 100,000 rockets — 10 times as many as were in the Hamas arsenal — and that its 5,000 long-range missiles, located in Beirut and other areas deep inside Lebanon, are capable of carrying large warheads (of up to 1 ton and more), with precision guidance systems, covering all of Israel.
Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defense system would not be able to cope with that kind of challenge, and thus the IDF would have to “maneuver fast” and act forcefully to prevail decisively in the conflict, Goldfus said." Times of Israel
Israel was lucky that Hizbullah did not throw all that stuff at them during the Gaza unpleasantness. Very lucky.
This colonel is right. Iron Dome would fail against the fire that Hisbullah can bring down on them and it would have failed even more catastrophically against an HB/Hamas combined effort.
Nevertheless, Israel is unhappy that its goal of destroying Hamas in Gaza also failed. Israel's rather primitive ideas in the area of "strategic" thought require that any and all potential enemies be intimidated and submissive. That did not happen in Gaza.
Therefore, Israel is seeking another target for intimidation operations. Hizbullah and Lebanon as a whole are the only available fields for this endeavor.
"In Beirut and other areas deep in Lebanon" telegraphs the IDF intention to ravage all of Lebanon in another air campaign designed to wreck Lebanese infrastructure and demonstrate the uncaring savagery implicit in nationalism run amock. Someone said that a definition of insanity is a willingness to keep doing things again and again that do not work. When did this level of savegery help Israel?
Colonel whathisname says that they will have to maneuver swiftly and decisively to prevent Hizbullah shooting up Israel. I await that effort with interest. pl
Read more: Israel preparing for 'very violent' war against Hezbollah, TV report says | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-preparing-for-very-violent-war-against-hezbollah-tv-report-says/#ixzz3ClA126mq
"The OIG investigators did find, after reviewing the records of 3,409 patients from a variety of sources, 44 patients who died while on the electronic waiting list. But just because someone is on a waiting list when they died does not mean they died becausethey were on a waiting list.
In all, the OIG found 28 instances of “clinically significant delays in care associated with access to care or patient scheduling.” Of that group, six are deceased. It also found “17 care deficiencies that were unrelated to access or scheduling,” and of those, 14 are dead.
So, within the universe of more than 3,400 patients, only six patients died while experiencing significant delays in scheduling. But “while the case reviews in this report document poor quality of care, we are unable to conclusively assert that the absence of timely quality care caused the deaths of these veterans,” the OIG said." Washpost Fact Checker
Remember that the OIG of the Veteran's Administration was under great pressure from the WH and Congress to find wrong doing and this is all they could come up with.
Once again the American people's lemming-like drive to self deception based on sensationalism and logrolling in the 24/7 media is demonstrated.
Eric Shinseki was forced to resign because of this crap. Eric Shinseki is a genuine American hero unlike many of the swine who brought him down. In his time as Secretary of Veteran's Affairs, he greatly reduced time for registration of veterans for services and care and the availability of service across the country. This was in spite of the large increase in the numbers of those asking for service.
A shame, this was a tragic shame. pl
Russia has been accused to have intentionally destabilised the East of Ukraine by supporting and training separatist forces and allowing in Russian volunteers. I think that this is by and large accurate, but far from the repeatedly alleged but strangely elusive invasions.
The Russian idea must be to inflict as much pain on Ukraine as possible without a greater escalation to force it to the negotiation table and to force it to pursue a policy that meets Russia's security interests.
Legally, it can be argued that supporting from the outside a party in a civil war is a violation of that country's sovereignty. That is basically the Western position, and incidentally it is legally largely correct.
The relevant legal precedent here is the case of Nicaragua vs United States of America [PDF], in which the ICJ ruled *:
"... that the United States of America, by training, equipping, financing and supplying the contra forces or otherwise encouraging, supporting and aiding military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua, has acted, against the Republic of Nicaragua, in breach of its obligation under customary international law not to intervene in the affairs of another state."
It could hardly be put clearer. Arguably, Russian conduct in Ukraine meets the same criteria, and thus violates international law.
That having been said - so does US support for Rebels in Syria (and elsewhere).
"... after the initial crackdown, the group began setting up services and institutions - stating clearly that it intended to stay and use the area as a base in its quest to eradicate national boundaries and establish an Islamic "state".
"We are a state," one emir, or commander, in the province told Reuters. "Things are great here because we are ruling based on God's law."
Some Sunni Muslims who worked for Assad's government stayed on after they pledged allegiance to the group.
"The civilians who do not have any political affiliations have adjusted to the presence of Islamic State, because people got tired and exhausted, and also, to be honest, because they are doing institutional work in Raqqa," one Raqqa resident opposed to Islamic State told Reuters.
Since then, the group "has restored and restructured all the institutions that are related to services," including a consumer protection office and the civil judiciary, the resident said." Reuters
"Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the threat from IS 'requires us to work together and seek common solutions.' It (Iran) has reached out to Saudi Arabia - the leading Sunni power and Iran's regional rival - and has turned a blind eye to US actions in Iraq, which it has historically opposed.
In Iraq, the Iranians themselves have played a key role in countering IS. Iranian Revolutionary Guards have advised Iraqi security forces, Iranian pilots have carried out air strikes, Iranian-backed Shia militia have mobilised, and Iran says it has been sending weapons and advisers to Iraqi Kurdistan.
I confess to the guilty pleasure of watching "Wicked Tuna" on the National Geographic Channel. I once fished a bit, in my case for lobstah on the Maine coast. "Wicked Tuna" and "The Deadliest Catch" about crab fishing in the Bering Sea, they speak to me.
But, "Wicked Tuna" IS a guilty pleasure. These giant apex predators, as fast as racehorses are beng hunted to extinction in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans to satisfy the gluttony of Japanese businessmen. A big fish on the dock at Gloucester, Massachusetts can easily being a fishing crew of three a $10,000 price. The fish are packed in ice and flown immediately to the Japanese raw fish market. Imagine what the price is in that market. The US government is trying (along with other governments) to save the species through regulation of fishing but it is a hopeless task. With prices so high why would working class fishermen desist from whatever frantic activity they can manage?
In the news this week is the heartening tale of the return to viable numbers of the "California Blue Whale." Bravo! Bis!
I call here for a total moritorium on the hunting of the Bluefin Tuna. Let there be a 20 year ban in this fishery. Let the governments help the fishermen transition to fisheries that are sustainable.
Let the Japaniese eat seaweed. They like it. pl
"Now it is up to Virginia lawmakers to shake themselves from their gauzy complacency and prove to Virginians that they have absorbed the lessons of the McDonnell debacle. If they fail to act, they will only compound Virginia’s disgrace." Washpost editorial 5 September 2014
One of the enduring phenomena of the Washington scene with its Washington Post sub-culture is the newspaper's unending hostility to the Commonwealth of Virginia. When I arrived here from the Deep North in 1958 this animosity quickly became apparent to me. I had never seen anything quite like it. Washington sits across the river, the city built on a swamp. It is now, as it has always been, bloated on federal government and lobbyist money and it looks with disdain to the south.
I was once on a plane making a southern approach on short final to Reagan National. The Masonic Memorial to George Washington was visible out the window. It looms over my Alexandria home. The New York City female transplant to DC sitting by the window said, "I wonder what it's like out there..." "Out there?" I responded. "You know," she said, "among them." I am now one of "them," and that anecdote sums up rather well the kind of attitude toward Virginia, the South, and "them" that has infested the Washington Post for a long time.
These days the creatures who inhabit the Washington Post staff have an unending chance to preen on MSNBC while riding their favorite hobby horses. The percentage of homosexual activists driving the choo choo train for "marriage rights" goes up and up on MSNBC as does the number of crazed feminists like Mika B, and the just flat crazy and ignorant like Chris Matthews and his buddy Mike Barnicle. The editorial staff and columnists of the Washington Post fit in just fine in that group. Ah, yes, and now the Washpost has found its conscience about the Redskins.
If the McDonnells had been tried under state law they would never have been convicted. You don't like that? Well good for you, son, good for you. pl
I am not looking for long winded historical discussion of these groups. Tell us how to deal with them. I will abstain from commenting for a while in order to avoid "stunting' the discourse. pl
The purpose of leisure, talking with each other, is clearly to enjoy the pleasure of affable company, and also to listen and become inspired by what we hear. But excessive drinking soon peels off the foil of civilization that we expected to enjoy. A couple I know well hosted a small gathering, but one of the members of the company showed up more than half drunk. When the rest of the company saw this person, their hearts sank into their shoes. This half drunken person always lowers the tone of any group they go to.
Until advent of this person, the gathering was polite and friendly. But no sooner had this person sat down, not only did they not test the waters or try to discover what people had been saying, they instead began to bleat and bray noisily and disconcertingly, and, unfortunately this person was self centered uncouth, coarse, and the incessant drinking has hammered their wits flat. This person had no liveliness s of wit – it was all elephantine facetiousness.
According to the established political and media narrative that Russia, no, Putin, Putin, and Putin again, annexed Crimea and in doing so violated international law.
These are weighty accusations and worth looking into.
To make a long story short: Catherine the Great added Crimea as the Taurida Oblast to Russia by a decree on 2 February 1784. It has been Russian ever since, or would have been, if not, by fluke of history, Nikita Chruschev had signed it away to become part of Ukraine. That was at a time when it didn't matter what part of the USSR Crimea was in.
It started to matter when the USSR dissolved and Chruschev's decision saw Crimea over night becoming part of a foreign country when Ukraine declared independence.
On Crimea is located the strategically important warm water port of Sewastopol, a traditional Russian naval base, which Russia was keen on keeping since it allowed Russia access to the Mediterranean. Russia eventually negotiated a 'status of forces agreement' with Ukraine that allowed Russia to station up to 40.000 troops in Crimea and leased the Sevastopol naval base for a number of years.
Sovereignty is the full right and power means of a state or a governing body to govern itself without any interference from outside sources or bodies.
International law is is the set of rules generally regarded and accepted as binding in relations between states and between nations. It differs from state-based legal systems in that it is primarily applicable to countries rather than to private citizens. The actors of international law have created international law in rather hardnosed pursuit of their interests.
The Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Völker, or the right to self-determination is a cardinal principle in modern international law (jus cogens), binding, as such, on the United Nations as authoritative interpretation of the Charter’s norms. It states that nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and fair equality of opportunity have the right to freely choose their sovereignty and international political status with no external compulsion or interference. The referendum on Scotish independence is a good example for this.
Annexation is is the forcible acquisition of a state's territory by another state. This violates the non-aggression principle in international law. It constitutes aggression, the most severe form of violations of the sovereignty of another state and thus, of international law.
The UN Charter's Chapter VII deals with such cases, and article 51 UN Charter entitles states to come to help without a UN mandate - severe consequences.
If Annexation is is the forcible acquisition of a state's territory by another state, then the conditions for this offence must be met. Each of them in turn:
"The protests in Ukraine on the Maidan were not led by neo-Nazis or fascists. They were led by ordinary Ukrainians, men and women, young and old who were fed up with a corrupt regime and who wanted to share in the progress and prosperity that they see in the rest of Europe. And they did not engage in an armed seizure of power.
After an agreement was brokered for constitutional reform, the former president then abandoned his office, and parliament endorsed new elections, so that today Ukrainians have a new democratically elected president. And I look forward to welcoming President Poroshenko to the Oval Office this month. He was chosen by the people of Ukraine. It was not the government of Kiev that destabilized eastern Ukraine. It’s been the pro-Russian separatists who are encouraged by Russia, financed by Russia, trained by Russia, supplied by Russia and armed by Russia. And the Russian forces that have now moved into Ukraine are not on a humanitarian or peacekeeping mission. They are Russian combat forces with Russian weapons in Russian tanks.
The purple assed mandrill of peace (TPAMOP)
""Putin has issued his own peace plan for eastern Ukraine, calling on the Russian-backed insurgents there to "stop advancing" and urging Ukraine to withdraw its troops from the region.
Putin, speaking in the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator, said he came up with a 7-point peace plan on the plane trip there in which Kiev must withdraw its troops and stop its artillery strikes.
"The warring parties should immediately coordinate and do the following things together," Putin said in televised comments. "The first thing is for the armed forces and insurgents of the south-east of Ukraine to stop active advancing in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
"Second is for the Ukrainian military to withdraw their troops at a safe distance that will make artillery and other strikes on populated areas impossible," he added."" Telegraph
Here it is, folks, the "off ramp" we all have been looking for. TPAMOP is cautiously eyeing this new thing from his lair deep in the bush. Why has the chocolate mogul agreed to this? Simple - As I have written recently, the Ukie forces drove forward with great enthusiasm to their own doom and now are surrounded in pockets all over SE Ukraine. Yes, the great Prussian Gerd's musings over "culminating points" have proven fruitful yet again.
Will the United States let the world "off the hook" by accepting this outcome? Perhaps it will not. The lure of the Children's Crusader vision of a future devoid of schoolyard bullies may prove too strong to ignore. NATO exercizes are planned. Speeches have been made. Grand posturing has taken place. Obama wills it! pl
"One must look at the order of battle, organization and military tactics of the Islamic State, which can be best described as a semi-military, semi-political body that wants to translate its day-by-day military gains into a long-lasting political body. To that end, IS fields generally motorized companies of 80 to 100 men or battalions with 200 to 300 fighters, skilled in urban warfare, high mobile and capable of executing terrorist tactics such as improvised explosive device attacks and hit-and-run attacks, as well as conventional military tactics at the company and battalion levels. I don’t agree with the view that IS a new offspring of al-Qaeda. IS is a new breed that has caused much confusion to international actors who can’t decide what to do against IS. We are facing an organization and a modus operandi we are not at all familiar with.
My concern is that NATO is going to tread where angels fear. There was a signifigant body of thought prior to World War One that contended that the world economy was even then so integrated that rational considerations of "trade" would trump the warlike computations of the major powers. British Army uniforms were dyed with German aniline dyes and all that. I suspect that the Washingtonians subscribe to similar assumptions today.
MEMORANDUM FOR: Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Ukraine and NATO
We the undersigned are longtime veterans of U.S. intelligence. We take the unusual step of writing this open letter to you to ensure that you have an opportunity to be briefed on our views prior to the NATO summit on September 4-5.
You need to know, for example, that accusations of a major Russian "invasion" of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence. Rather, the "intelligence" seems to be of the same dubious, politically "fixed" kind used 12 years ago to "justify" the U.S.-led attack on Iraq. We saw no credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq then; we see no credible evidence of a Russian invasion now. Twelve years ago, former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, mindful of the flimsiness of the evidence on Iraqi WMD, refused to join in the attack on Iraq. In our view, you should be appropriately suspicions of charges made by the US State Department and NATO officials alleging a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
President Barack Obama tried yesterday to cool the rhetoric of his own senior diplomats and the corporate media, when he publicly described recent activity in the Ukraine, as "a continuation of what’s been taking place for months now … it’s not really a shift."
Obama, however, has only tenuous control over the policymakers in his administration – who, sadly, lack much sense of history, know little of war, and substitute anti-Russian invective for a policy. One year ago, hawkish State Department officials and their friends in the media very nearly got Mr. Obama to launch a major attack on Syria based, once again, on "intelligence" that was dubious, at best.
This has been unashamedly lifted from the Club Orlov website. Could someone please tell Samantha Power, Rasmussen and others about the telltale signs of a Russian Invasion of Ukraine? Black humour I know, but it helps.
" You be the judge. I put together this helpful list of top ten telltale signs that will allow you to determine whether indeed Russia invaded Ukraine last Thursday, or whether Thursday's announcement is yet another confabulation. (Credit to Roman Kretsul).
Because if Russia invaded on Thursday morning, this is what the situation on the ground would look like by Saturday afternoon.
1. Ukrainian artillery fell silent almost immediately. They are no longer shelling residential districts of Donetsk and Lugansk. This is because their locations had been pinpointed prior to the operation, and by Thursday afternoon they were completely wiped out using air attacks, artillery and ground-based rocket fire, as the first order of business. Local residents are overjoyed that their horrible ordeal is finally at an end.
2. The look of military activity on the ground in Donetsk and Lugansk has changed dramatically. Whereas before it involved small groups of resistance fighters, the Russians operate in battalions of 400 men and dozens of armored vehicles, followed by convoys of support vehicles (tanker trucks, communications, field kitchens, field hospitals and so on). The flow of vehicles in and out is non-stop, plainly visible on air reconnaissance and satellite photos. Add to that the relentless radio chatter, all in Russian, which anyone who wants to can intercept, and the operation becomes impossible to hide.
3. The Ukrainian military has promptly vanished. Soldiers and officers alike have taken off their uniforms, abandoned their weapons, and are doing their best to blend in with the locals. Nobody thought the odds of the Ukrainian army against the Russians were any good. Ukraine's only military victory against Russia was at the battle of Konotop in 1659, but at the time Ukraine was allied with the mighty Khanate of Crimea, and, you may have noticed, Crimea is not on Ukraine's side this time around.
4. There are Russian checkpoints everywhere. Local civilians are allowed through, but anyone associated with a government, foreign or domestic, is detained for questioning. A filtration system has been set up to return demobilized Ukrainian army draftees to their native regions, while the volunteers and the officers are shunted to pretrial detention centers, to determine whether they had ordered war crimes to be committed.
5. Most of Ukraine's border crossings are by now under Russian control. Some have been reinforced with air defense and artillery systems and tank battalions, to dissuade NATO forces from attempting to stage an invasion. Civilians and humanitarian goods are allowed through. Businessmen are allowed through once they fill out the required forms (which are in Russian).
6. Russia has imposed a no-fly zone over all of Ukraine. All civilian flights have been cancelled. There is quite a crowd of US State Department staffers, CIA and Mossad agents, and Western NGO people stuck at Borispol airport in Kiev. Some are nervously calling everyone they know on their satellite phones. Western politicians are demanding that they be evacuated immediately, but Russian authorities want to hold onto them until their possible complicity in war crimes has been determined.
7. The usual Ukrainian talking heads, such as president Poroshenko, PM Yatsenyuk and others, are no longer available to be interviewed by Western media. Nobody quite knows where they are. There are rumors that they have already fled the country. Crowds have stormed their abandoned residences, and were amazed to discover that they were all outfitted with solid gold toilets. Nor are the Ukrainian oligarchs anywhere to be found, except for the warlord Igor Kolomoisky, who was found in his residence, abandoned by his henchmen, dead from a heart attack. (Contributed by the Saker.)
8. Some of the over 800,000 Ukrainian refugees are starting to stream back in from Russia. They were living in tent cities, many of them in the nearby Rostov region, but with the winter coming they are eager to get back home, now that the shelling is over. Along with them, construction crews, cement trucks and flatbeds stacked with pipe, cable and rebar are streaming in, to repair the damage from the shelling.
9. There is all sorts of intense diplomatic and military activity around the world, especially in Europe and the US. Military forces are on highest alert, diplomats are jetting around and holding conferences. President Obama just held a press conference to announce that “We don't have a strategy on Ukraine yet.” His military advisers tell him that his usual strategy of “bomb a little and see what happens” is not likely to be helpful in this instance.
10. Kiev has surrendered. There are Russian tanks on the Maidan Square. Russian infantry is mopping up the remains of Ukraine's National Guard. A curfew has been announced. The operation to take Kiev resembled “Shock and Awe” in Baghdad: a few loud bangs and then a whimper.
Armed with this list, you too should be able to determine whether or not Russia has invaded Ukraine last Thursday."
"If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future"
Ever since Bush 43 the US are in a credibility crisis. And the hope and change Obama supposedly was to bring didn't manifest, in fact, Obama has been a remarkable example in foreign policy consistency, not so much in means, but certainly in goals, which basically remained unchanged from the Bush 43 administration, the Asia pivot being the great exception. They tried everything.
Direct leadership didn't work:
The US going it alone with their coalition of the willing, coerced and bribed in the Iraq war of 2003 war basically succeeded only in getting Saddam and a lot of bystanders killed and the US became hated more than ever. It notably did not achieve the intended goal in Iraq, to the contrary, it contributed greatly to the disintegration of the nation-state formerly known as Iraq into what it is today. Last I looked blossoms didn't bloom from Baghdad to Beirut, and whatever people threw at US troops, it wasn't rose petals.
Leadership from behind didn't work that well either:
Just like having US armed forces kicking in the door themselves, having proxies do it also left a trail of dead and rubble in its wake, and it has proven to be even more chaotic.
US and western neo-con, neo-liberal and/or R2P (the lines blur) politicos won't like it but their insistence that Syria must be regime-changed (off with his head!) probably helped greatly to prevent any settlement of the underlying conflict. That helped to bring the Syrian civil war where it is now and was instrumental in getting a large number of people killed in the process who could still be alive, while tearing the country apart and empowering people like ISIS in the vacuum left as Assad's forces withdrew to core territories to fight for their and their community’s survival.
Success is different, and the absence of US success over the last decade has left the US in a situation where it has become less relevant.
That naturally has consequences for the alliances the US is engaged in. What does that mean for Europe and NATO? Are the US, as Ms. Albright has famously said and Obama has restated, indeed still the one indispensable nation?
"The Pentagon said late Saturday that it had carried out airstrikes in the area and dropped humanitarian aid by plane into Amerli, where the water and electricity had been cut off and residents had resorted to drinking untreated water.
The operation came after days of mounting pressure for the U.S. military to help the beleaguered town, which the United Nations warned faced a “massacre” by the Sunni militants who view Shiites as apostates.
Pentagon officials said the humanitarian airdrop was conducted jointly with Australia, France and Britain, and that U.S. warplanes “conducted coordinated airstrikes against nearby [Islamic State] terrorists in order to support this humanitarian assistance operation.”" LA Times
In answer to the question, we did not learn a lot really. IS still holds the villages all around this place. Increasingly they are doing that in the knowlege that the US won't bomb the towns and that the Iraqis and PM probably don't have the "horsepower" to take them without US and allied air support. They have done the same thing in the area around the Mosul Dam. They still hold all the villages up there.
At Amerli the IS never held the town. The Shia Turkmen successfully defended the town so there was no need for the Iraqi Army and PM to capture the city. The IS were all outside Amerli where they made good targets for airpower. pl
The British flag without Scotland? pl
"Opinion polls, financial markets and bookmakers are unanimous - Scotland will reject independence in a historic referendum next month and the United Kingdom will endure.
But what if, as Scots nationalists believe, the polls are wrong? Experts say it is a possibility.
The Sept. 18 vote, the first of its kind in British history, has thrown up unique circumstances which make forecasting the outcome unusually difficult. Surveys are consistent on trends but diverge when it comes to the size of the gap between the two campaigns.
Few are ready to exclude an upset.
"Pollsters are particularly nervous given the disparity between them," John Curtice, a professor at Strathclyde University and a leading authority on polling, told Reuters.
"Some of the polls are definitely wrong because they don't agree. We just don't know which ones yet. This is a pretty tough call for the polling industry."" Reuters
IMO Scotlamd will not vote in the majority for independence. Most people in every country favor the status quo whatever it is. The lure of sterling, the National Health Service, UK government services extended to Scottiah police, the sentiment derived from shared history in war; these things all argue in cautious minds for the status quo. If I were a Scot I would vote for independence as a matter of national pride, but then, I am not a cautious man.
"Twm Morys was boiling carrots for his children when he momentarily stopped to recite a 15th-century battle chant in Welsh. Beating out the guttural consonants with a stave on his kitchen floor until they rang in every last corner of his farmhouse, Mr. Morys, a well-known poet, said it was time to put “fire in the belly” of his people.
He is not the only one. In the ancient mountains towering above this coastal town in northern Wales, where eight in 10 people speak the native Celtic tongue, and many carry names their fellow Britons would not dare pronounce, Welsh nationalists have their eyes firmly set on independence — Scottish independence.
Less than a month before Scotland holds a referendum on whether to leave Britain, Wales is watching with a mix of envy, excitement and trepidation." NY Times
I suppose that "Twm" means either "Tim" or "Tom" in Welsh as "Tamzin" is a feminine form af "Thomas' in Cornish. The outcome in Scotland will affect public debate in Wales and Ulster. The Norman, Angevin and Plantagenet kings unified England by force of arms and sheer brutality. They then moved on in seeking to unify Britain and Ireland. Edward Longshanks' Welsh castles are sited to control the principality. The British heir's title of "Prince of Wales" was not created as a sign of friendship for the Welsh. It was first given to Edward II before his father's death to focus him on retaining posession of Wales against Welsh rebellion. Edward "Longshanks" also broke the back of Scottish resistance to English hegemony and he did so on the battlefield. The Tudor union of the Scottish and English crowns and the later Act of Union were relly just "icing on the cake." Now these forced unions threaten to bear belated fruit in the form of dissolution.
Christine Helms in her essay 'Memory is the Collective Toolshed" wrote that:
"THE HISTORICAL MEMORY OF A NATION IS NOT MERELY A REPOSITORY. OUR VISION OF THE PAST CHANNELS OUR VISION OF THE FUTURE BY CONSTRAINING OPTIONS, BUT ALSO IT PLAYS A PROACTIVE ROLE. THIS MEMORY IS ACTUALLY A VERY IMPORTANT FACTOR IN STRUGGLE.... IF ONE CONTROLS PEOPLES' MEMORY, ONE CONTROLS THEIR DYNAMISM.... IT IS VITAL TO HAVE POSSESSION OF THIS MEMORY, TO CONTROL IT, TO ADMINISTER IT, TELL IT WHAT IT MUST CONTAIN.' COLLECTIVE MEMORY IS THE TOOLSHED, TOMORROW'S IDEOLOGICAL ARSENAL, FROM WHICH POLITICAL CONCEPTS AND SYMBOLS ARE SELECTED, REINTERPRETED, AND MANIPULATED BOTH BY ESTABLISHED GOVERNMENTS AND OPPOSITION GROUPS. IT MAY WAIT FOR DECADES, PATIENTLY DORMANT, ONLY TO BE REACTIVATED SUDDENLY AS AN EXPLOSIVE CONTAGIOUS FORCE." DR. CHRISTINE M. HELMS IN MCNAIR PAPER # 10 "ARABISM AND ISLAM: STATELESS NATIONS AND NATIONLESS STATES." SEPTEMBER, 1990.
There is profound truth in her essay. Will the almost Jungian tug of "the toolshed" triumph or will an assurance of free dentistry prevail? pl
"Mr. President, representatives on this Council, this is our 24th session to try to rein in Russia’s aggressive acts in Ukraine. Every single one of those sessions has sent a straight-forward, unified message: Russia, stop this conflict. Russia is not listening.
We said it when Russia flagrantly violated international law in occupying Crimea. We said it after the shocking downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17, which took the lives of innocent men, women, children, and infants from 11 countries. And we say it today, as Russia’s soldiers, tanks, air defense, and artillery support and fight alongside separatists as they open a new front in a crisis manufactured in and fueled by Russia.
But Russia is not listening.
Instead of listening, instead of heeding the demands of the international community and the rules of the international order, at every step, Russia has come before this Council to say everything except the truth. It has manipulated. It has obfuscated. It has outright lied. So we have learned to measure Russia by its actions and not by its words.
In the last 48 hours, Russia’s actions have spoken volumes." Samantha Power
I now have a full length video of Sam's performance before the Security Council on the 28th, and here we also have the transcript from her debating club routine. Her style continues to remind of many I have known who never escaped the memory of always having been the smartest kid in class. In this particular exhibition she mugs for the cameras and the crowd, grins smilingly and condescendingly while the Russian ambassador responds and then reads her responce with the assurance of someone running for senior class president. These remarks are filled with the self-righteous content of someone whose feels her opponents must be crushed for lack of purity in their behavior and lack of compliance with the one-world idealogy that has always characterised her. She and the rest of the Obama crew are filled with the belief that the old world of national interests has passed away and that now "The Peaceable Kingdom" actually exists in a world order supervised by male and female super-nannies, most of whom happen to be American as she is (recently). The possession by Russia of far more than the megatonnage needed to reduce the US to cinders means nothing to her because she is certain she will prevail for her heart is pure.
And then we have Josh Earnest, another Child Crusader, manfully (or maybe metrosexually) trying to defend Obama's chilly devotion to forthright speech (always a difficut thing in a "politician").
IMO both of these young people have been appointed to positions in which a precocious publishing life has been misinterpreted as somethng more than a skill in self-promotion and apparent adoration of the mighty.
That would be amusing were it not true that their post-adolescent group-think now imperils the civilized world.
A variety of sources appear to confirm that Ukraine is going to apply for membership of NATO. RAsmussen suggests that such an application would receive favourable consideration. Exactly how fast and in what form NATO action, if any, might be is unknown.
Is America so sure that Putin won't respond to such provocation militarily or is that what they wish for?
It now appears quite clear that America is going to make a grab for global hegemony, dragging its partners (Europe and the ABCA allies) with it. If Putin is faced down and/or blinks, however one puts it, there is no obstacle left to America doing anything it wants in the Middle East or anywhere else on earth if the spirit so moves.
Exactly what America wishes to do is to remake the world in its own image as evidenced by the free trade agreements it has been trying to ram down peoples throats for at least a decade.
Furthermore, the average American has no influence whatsoever in the determination of policy, so that avenue of appeal is closed.
It is a beautiful late winter day here with a promise of spring, yet I feel like some must have felt in August 1914. What can we do? What can anyone do?
What a difference a week makes. Only last Friday the white convoy rolled into Lugansk with humanitarian aid for the besieged inhabitants. It was the first overt sign of Russian support to the people of Novorossiya in quite a while. They were beginning to think Putin had forsaken them. This was never the case. The best statement on the support provided by Russia to the rebels is provided by Boris Rozhin in his blog "Colonel Cassad." In one posting he assures his readers that Russia has been providing all manner of support to the rebels, but it has done so covertly. Thats how it’s done in the real world and especially by the Russians, the masters of maskirovka. TTG
I've actually never made it a secret that the "military surplus store" exists and it does exist (which is why I never wrote that Russia fully dumped Donbass), providing various amounts of military and financial aid to the fighting detachments, depending on the will of those on whom these flows are locked in, and on those who are involved in their distribution. For some time now, the "military surplus store" has a seasonal sale and also hands out credits, which does not prevent the continuation of the official line of "Nope, nothing, and there was never anything." On the Internet you can prove whatever you want, the diplomats will continue to play ping-pong, which can last for weeks or months. There is certain work and there is its informational and diplomatical cover. Exactly the same way as it was in the Crimea. Because this game goes on and is accepted by all parties (it would seem that the masters of the junta already have a bunch of "evidence" of the work of the "military surplus store", but they are consistently treading water in the style of "But there is no way the militia could have exactly this." and receiving the already standard answers in the spirit of "Well, you never know where and what they are filming, you never really know what the militia have there, you have no evidence." Because this scheme is cyclic, it will continue for an arbitrarily long time, if it is necessary, then it will continue up until the capture of Kiev or even Lvov, Mr. Lavrov will walk up to the mike and tell you that Russia is no way involved in anything whatsoever. And officially it will be that way. And the fact that some blogger or a commentator wrote in their blog,... these are personal opinions of individuals. And try to tell me that this scheme is not working.
Actually the meaning of all these disputes is that in addition to the real war, the parties are also fighting between each other for the creation of the dominating informational picture so that the situation would be officially re-evaluated and in this case Russia would recognize at least some evidence of its participation in the war in the Donbass right now (and not sometime later, when the situation will already be played out).
Therefore, it does not matter which evidence, real or fake, the junta will present, in any case it will be denied, because those are the rules of the game. When this simple thing becomes clear to you, you will be much less excited by the next "revelations" from the junta side. In general, all of it can be simply ignored, because they are presented by the enemy, against whom there is a war to its destruction. From the point of view of the unfolding offensive operations south of Donetsk, it is actually an minor issue, because the catastrophe of the southern group of forces of the junta is coming up much faster than there will be any impact of the "evidence of the invasion of Russia".
And regarding the "workers of military surplus store", the presence of which the junta is trying to prove, then officially there's nobody there, of course. And officially there won't be anybody there. Well, and now I think that you figured out everything and will ask stupid questions no longer. (Colonel Cassad)
More and more glimpses of this support have been coming out. Last week in his news conference, which I consider to be a declaration of independence for the new nation of Novorossiya, Alexander Zakharchenko announced that 1,200 rebels returned from four months of training in Russia to fall in on a vast stock of captured equipment. He explained that his forces are getting a lot of logistical support from private sources and volunteer artillery experts from Samara were aiding the militia. Today he said that there are about 3,000 Russian volunteers fighting alongside the rebel forces. Russia, no doubt, provides intelligence support. I doubt anyone, including the combatants, have a better grasp of the true situation in Ukraine. I have always assumed Russia is providing a steady supply of artillery and rocket ammunition for the very effective rebel artillery units. I also would not be surprised to learn that some of the tanks and artillery the rebels picked up were left there by “Father Christmas.” At the request of Pavel Gubarev, the former leader of the Donbass People’s Militia, Russia helped establish a coordination center in Krasnodon. That sounds like the coordination centers we recently set up in Iraq.
Neocons and R2P harpies (or should I say pigeons) have been screaming bloody murder about the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory of the last few days. They cannot imagine that the rebels, who Kiev has repeatedly assured the world are on the verge of total defeat, are capable of first blunting the massive Ukie assault on Ilovaisk and then going on the offensive to the gates of Mariupol all in a matter of days. I find it quite believable given the fluid nature of combat over the last few months. A good account of the events that led to the rebels standing at the gates of Mariupol is told by Rozhin. It’s worth a read for its clarity. The military situation reminds me of the battle of Gazala waged south of Tobruk for several weeks in May and June 1942. Rommel feinted to the north then led his Afrika Korps south to swing around the British defenses. As is common in military operations, things did not go exactly as planned and the battle was an often confused and close run thing. What finally assured Rommel’s victory was his belief that his forces were better trained, better organized and better led at all levels. This stood him well in the confused and fluid battle. The army of Novorossiya displays the same qualities.
Today Obama said, “There is no doubt that this is not a homegrown, indigenous uprising in eastern Ukraine. The separatists are backed, trained, armed, financed by Russia.” Russia is actively supporting Novorossiya, but that does not mean it is not a homegrown, indigenous uprising. Does the support given to Washington by the French mean that our War of Independence not a homegrown, indigenous uprising? Kiev has repeatedly vowed to wipe out the Moskals. What choice did the Moskals have but to take up arms and resist.
The cacophony of alarming declarations is almost overwhelming. Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, said in a Twitter post: "The new columns of Russian tanks and armor crossing into Ukraine indicates a Russian-directed counter-offensive may be underway." In the face of all this noise, it was heartening to hear Obama say, "We are not taking military action to solve the Ukrainian problem. What we're doing is to mobilize the international community to apply pressure on Russia.” Obama will visit Estonia before attending a NATO summit in Wales next Thursday and Friday. He intends to "reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the defense of our NATO allies." Let’s hope he can resist the whispers of all the Grima Wormtongues that surround him between now and the NATO summit.
Putin has recently stepped up his public support for Novorossiya. He told Poroshenko that he will not dictate terms to the rebels and that Poroshenko would have to talk to the Donbass representatives directly. I don’t think there will be a deal behind Novorossiya’s back. In a presidential address today, Putin asked the militia forces to open a humanitarian corridor to allow the encircled Ukrainian forces to cross the Russian border. That would save the rebels the time and effort of having to reduce these pockets themselves and free up those militia forces for offensive operations elsewhere. The rebels have expressed their support for this initiative. Putin also said he would be sending more white convoys and would coordinate these convoys directly with the rebels rather than with Kiev. He also congratulated the Novorossiya militia on their accomplishments. On a firm, but conciliatory note, he added, “I once again call on the Ukrainian authorities to immediately stop military actions, cease fire, sit down at the negotiating table with Donbass representatives and resolve all the accumulated problems exclusively via peaceful means.”
If this was a chess game, Putin is in a position to checkmate the West in half a dozen moves. Let us hope the West can see this and quietly concede rather than act as a flock of pigeons. A ceasefire and negotiations is far preferable to toying with the possibility of nuclear war. - TTG
The painting above is “Defend Sevastopol” by Vasily Igorevich Nesterenko done in 2005. I think it evokes many elements and much of the spirit of both Russia and Novorossiya or as David Habakkuk might say, the Putinistas and the Strelkovites.
The Syrian Air Force had been flying strikes off this base against IS target in eastern Syria. They did this until the base had to be evacuated to save the aircraft, mechanics, staff, etc. from the headchoppers. Tabqa had a spauadron of MIG-21s and another of MI-8 helicopters stationed there.
IS also holds Deir Az-Zor Air Base southeast of Tabqa. This is also on the Euphrates River. The loss of Tabqa air base is a serious defeat for the Syrian forces. IS has largely consolidated its hold on eastern Syria except for the Kurdish area in the far northeast. Syrian government air action against IS will have to be conducted from bases farther away in the west and to add to the damage IS captured a lot of additional equipment at Tabqa including many MANPADS (shoulder fired AA missiles)
IS appears to have executed 150 Syrian Air Force and Army prisoners after the base fell. The practice seems to be to offer Sunni Muslim military prisoners or civilians the chance to "sign up" but Shia and Alawis are generally killed after some period of abuse. Does anyone know any more about that?
The NY Times has taken note of the fact that the actual war is being run by former Iraqi Army officers (Saddam's Army) employed as techinal experts on the Tukhachevski model. To their conventional warfare planning skills from those days, there have now been added gerrilla experience hard won in their resistance to US forces. Hey, folks! We brought it on ourselves, or at least, the neocons brought it on us by throwing these men out on the street in 2003.
So, what will IS do next? pl
With its meteoric military rise, its leadership, management and financing, the newest terrorist scourge facing the world is ISIS. Operating in what is clearly a political vacuum in northeast Syria and western Iraq and benefitting from the studied indifference of most of the Muslim world, Isis is clearly on a roll.
The chaos in the Middle East and the broader Muslim world is largely the result of a combination of incredibly bad United States military/foreign policy decisions and the concomitant disintegration or destruction of all those elements, both good and bad, that were in place and maintaining order in the region before we invaded Iraq in 2003.
And in the midst of all of this chaos, Americans are coming slowly to the realization that ISIS presents us with real, long run, existential problems and that we probably have absolutely no idea how to deal with this situation at the moment.
Our problem in policy formulation on this issue is also of our own making. It comes as a result of the same horrendous decision to invade Iraq, for that invasion created two new realities for us.
First, it has made more than half of the U.S. population extremely wary about any further military involvement in the Islam. We are war-weary to the extent that virtually no policy proposal for dealing with ISIS has failed to mention the guarantee that there will be no U.S. boots on the ground.
Secondly, that Iraq invasion, coupled with our endless stay in Afghanistan, has virtually guarantees that the re-commitment of American troops in uniform will have a unifying anti-American effect on Muslim populations, even though the radical ISIS is viewed with horror by most of those local populations.
If you doubt that, look first at the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan after 2003 which was driven largely by the fact that when the locals were faced with a choice between foreigners (Americans) and locals, they decided to back their own. Or, look at the way Sunnis in Syria and Iraq, heavily influenced by hostile, unaccepting Shia governments in Baghdad and Tehran, have tolerated, even joined with ISIS in its fight for power. The fact is that, particularly in Islam, given any need to choose between foreigners and locals, it is a rare thing that the foreigners will be favored. All one has to do to understand that is read the history of the region.
So, what are our policy options? The attitudes of both American and Muslim citizens toward the American military establishment, basically rule out the effective reintroduction of U.S. troops into the area, even if we had the necessary resources to do it. Yet, if ISIS is to be neutralized, it will not be done without ground forces. It’s not just the ISIS soldiers, it is the larger question of denying them control of the territory over which they now preside in Iraq and Syria.
Then we have Kurdish and Iraqi troops. The problem there, accepting that they are ill-equipped, ill-trained and relatively ineffective, is that there are historical political reasons to worry about such confrontations. We have ages old Kurdish/Turk frictions. Additionally, any Iraqi army of the future is going to be Shia dominated in a struggle with Sunni ISIS. That scenario bears the strong possibility that a Shia-Sunni conflict ultimately could easily embroil the entire region.
Needing foot soldiers and ruling out all non-Muslims, we are left with the rest of the Muslim world. Note that none of them have so far rushed into the fray against ISIS, either because they are frightened to be seen to do so, because they prefer them to the alternative, or might even actually support them. Why else would the Iraqi Sunnis, who are among the more secular Muslims, support a bloodthirsty bunch of zealots who want to install the most conservatively radical sectarian government imaginable? Perhaps as a counterbalance to Iraqi Shia forces?
We need to keep trying to find Muslims who disagree enough with ISIS to fight against them. Barring such an unlikely find, we need to arm anyone - Kurdish, Iraqi or Shia - who wants to fight against them. We need to keep US military uniforms completely out of the fray, but we might be well-advised to get ready for a protracted, completely covert or clandestine struggle against ISIS which would involve our intelligence resources as well as our black, paramilitary operational capabilities.
Or we can pretend there is not a real threat and wait until they hit us, which, absent meaningful U.S. involvement, they most certainly will do at some point in the future.
Haviland Smith is a retired CIA Station Chief who served in East and West Europe and the Middle East, as Executive Assistant in the Director’s office and as Chief of the Counterterrorism Staff.