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The Blame Thread II

This is a continuation of the topic The Blame Thread.

Pro and Con

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Jan 19, 2017, 5:59am Top

Deir Ezzor is beyond discussion here as it illustrates the messiness of the Syrian catastrophe and dares to expose the US role as feckless participant--so undone by its inability to determine a consistent right side/wrong side split its participation actually aids the 'wrong' side.

Edited: Jan 19, 2017, 10:13am Top


"Or, you know, it could be because the US is secretly behind ISIS. Or it's the lizard people. Yeah, probably the lizard people. "

timspalding, did you actually READ the links put up in >523 (see previous topic, davidgn, but also see below) ?

// The problem with continuing in a new thread is that all the individual post links are broken, so wouldn't it be better to stay THERE rather than continue HERE ?
You may also wish to know there is nothing in the Help wiki page about how you make a member's name linkable, as for instance typing >1 RickHarsch: would create it automatically in this page; you all no doubt know how to do these things easily - don't you think there should be something on the Wiki Help page for those of us who don't? //

Jan 19, 2017, 12:50pm Top

>2 Tid: I have no idea what the proper way to do this is, but I have rarely seen a thread go over 500 posts.

Re Spalding: He has insinutated that Davidgn is nuts on many occasions recently without engaging his posts or responding to any particular links; and he has dishonestly characterized my position most recently in the inauguration boycott thread. I expect he is one of those people who fears the game of chess.

Jan 19, 2017, 4:12pm Top

>3 RickHarsch:

Yeah, his comment I quoted above about lizard people, was particularly insulting, useless, uninformative, and contributed absolutely nothing to the discussion.

Jan 19, 2017, 4:46pm Top

>2 Tid: Usually when someone wants to refer to a post in a different thread, they just provide a link, ei:

From Tim's post in previous thread:
"Or, you know, it could be because the US is secretly behind ISIS. Or it's the lizard people. Yeah, probably the lizard people. "


Jan 19, 2017, 5:33pm Top

>5 southernbooklady:

Thanks for that! How do you refer to a member in the same way? (I.e. like 'tagging' in Facebook, more than just mentioning their name).

Jan 19, 2017, 5:38pm Top

>6 Tid: Put an "@" in front of the name... so "@" + "Tid" = Tid

Edited: Jan 20, 2017, 1:54am Top

timspalding: We can be DAMN sure that if the US hit Syrian positions by mistake, people like you would accuse the US of doing it on purpose.
Well, that sort of thing is situational. I'm not going to rewrite Gareth Porter's incisive piece quoted at >514 (last thread) for him. Either examine his case for yourself, or don't. The document (based primarily on the CENTCOM internal inquiry) may be found here: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/report_points_to_a_pentagon_plot_to_subvert_...

The notion of a mistake would be much more credible, too, if the September bombardment were the first time the US-led coalition had "accidentally" hit Syrian forces full-bore in the vicinity of Deir Ezzor. My ongoing review of Alastair Crooke's old articles comes in useful here. See this from December 18, 2015, regarding events of December 6, 2015:
The third hard question for the Americans from the Russians was the air attack on a Syrian army base near Deir ez-Zour, which, apart from killing and wounding four Syrian Army personnel, (note: the AFP wire story at the link, as published by Yahoo News, reads: "In a letter to the UN Security Council and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Syria accused the coalition of targeting an army camp in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor on Sunday, killing three soldiers and wounding 13." --davidgn) led to this strategic position being seized by ISIS. America had two aircraft in the vicinity, and Russia acknowledged that they were not involved in the strike. But Russia also asserted that there were other U.S.-led coalition aircraft over Deir ez-Zour at the time and implied that they were responsible for the attack — and that it was a deliberate act in support of ISIS. Why had America deliberately declined to acknowledge these other coalition aircraft were in the vicinity, Russian officials wanted to know.

Which coalition partner's planes might those have been? As far as I'm aware (please correct me if I'm wrong), that remains non-transparent to this day.

timspalding : Meanwhile the Syrians and Russians are mostly not fighting ISIS, because ISIS benefits them by making the choice starker...
This has been a prominent US propaganda line since the moment the Russians first began setting up shop in Syria, though the version you've offered is among its more pointed permutations. As I happen to be immersed in Crooke just now, I'll note that he ably dissected such claims at that time in the following piece: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alastair-crooke/russia-syria-isis-al-qaeda_b_82598... . Crooke's next article then did a creditable job of laying out Russia's strategic objectives: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alastair-crooke/russia-syria-front-line_b_8401212....

As for which air coalition objectively did more damage to ISIS, at least until last year, that appears to have been the Russo-Syrian one. Here's one of "b"'s more memorable posts, which contains many valuable references: http://www.moonofalabama.org/2015/11/pbs-uses-russian-airstrike-videos-to-claim-...
November 20, 2015 (emphases reproduced from original):
The U.S. military recently claimed to have hit Islamic State oil tankers in Syria. This only after Putin embarrassed Obama at the G-20 meeting in Turkey. Putin showed satellite pictures of ridiculous long tanker lines waiting for days and weeks to load oil from the Islamic State without any U.S. interference.

The U.S. then claimed to have hit 116 oil tankers while the Russian air force claims to have hit 500. But there is an important difference between these claims. The Russians provided videos showing how their airstrikes hit at least two different very large oil tanker assemblies with hundreds of tankers in each. They also provided video of several hits on oil storage sites and refinery infrastructure.

I have found no video of U.S. hits on Islamic State oil tanker assemblies.

The U.S. PBS NewsHour did not find any either.

In their TV report yesterday about Islamic State financing and the claimed U.S. hits on oil trucks they used the videos Russia provided without revealing the source. You can see the Russian videos played within an interview with a U.S. military spokesperson at 2:22 min. (Confirmed by PBS correction notice --davidgn)

The U.S. military spokesperson speaks on camera about U.S. airforce hits against the Islamic State. The video cuts to footage taken by Russian airplanes hitting oil tanks and then trucks. The voice-over while showing the Russian video with the Russians blowing up trucks says: "For the first time the U.S. is attacking oil delivery trucks." The video then cuts back to the U.S. military spokesperson.

At no point is the Russian campaign mentioned or the source of the footage revealed.

Any average viewer of the PBS report will assume that the black and white explosions of oil trucks and tanks are from of U.S. airstrikes filmed by U.S. air force planes.

The U.S. military itself admitted (link broken; the following appears to be another outlet's printing of the same AFP report: http://www.rawstory.com/2015/11/us-strikes-on-islamic-state-oil-supply-only-mini... --davidgn) that its strikes on IS oil infrastructure over the last year were "minimally effective"....

"b" then concludes by citing this devastating piece from Crooke:
"Lost on the Dark Side in Syria"

Of course, if it makes everyone feel any better, coalition air forces have indeed been involved in the present Deir Ezzor campaign. In the report for January 17th: "Near Dayr Az Zayr, one strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL checkpoint." There you have it: a tiny (if welcome) deviation in a steady stream of reports detailing the piecemeal destruction of the energy infrastructure and industrial machinery of that region.

Jan 20, 2017, 7:09am Top

Jan 20, 2017, 7:34am Top

Just wondering whether anybody could summarise in a couple of sentences what the main point at issue is here, to save me reading the 500 previous posts? When I looked at that original thread when it first began it seemd to be about Trump, which didn't interest me, but I see now that it appears to be on a different tack, a la LT, which might interest me more. And I'm usually interested when I see Tid posting!

Jan 20, 2017, 11:41am Top

>10 johnthefireman: I scrolled back to the 200s, and yet I think it's enough simply to say that in discussing the contemporary world and the United States, Syria naturally came up, and the place (both Syria and sometimes LT) being the mess it is, a variety of opinions clashed. All that had in common with posts hundreds back was that a lot of assumptions are made about what various posters believe that range from close enough to utterly false, some attempting rather scurrilously to demean the worth of the poster.

Jan 20, 2017, 2:04pm Top

>10 johnthefireman:

I thought I understood as much as 'the average person' about the Middle East situation, but davidgn posted some enlightening links by Alistair Crooke (yeah, me too - but he's been dead some years!) about the causes and rise of ISIS, and how in combatting them, there has arisen a whole spider's web of overt and covert alliances where the true nature of the West's enemy (ISIS? Assad? Russia?) flickers in and out of focus like mist on a mirror.

As usual, America (as in, the White House, the Pentagon, the FBI) is parlously ill-informed on all this, and also as usual, timspalding has risen in sarcastic dudgeon to defend any criticism thereof. Meantime, I'm learning a lot...

Jan 20, 2017, 2:47pm Top

>12 Tid: This Alastair Crooke is the one with an "a." ;-)

Edited: Jan 22, 2017, 3:26pm Top

For those still smarting from today's inauguration (as I am), I'll once more undertake the always-unpleasant task of citing the one and only Graham E. Fuller, whose clear-eyed analysis is regrettably indispensable. As usual, Fuller's willingness to slaughter sacred cows may reveal a silver lining for some.

Many progressives so despise Donald Trump that they decry all his positions even those that make some sense, such as questioning NATO and the dangerous New Cold War with Russia, as ex-CIA official Graham E. Fuller explains.

(Interestingly, I see that Fuller is now on the advisory board of Crooke's Conflicts Forum -- since when, I couldn't say. A small world, indeed. Idly, I also have to wonder what those two think of Parry printing, alongside their own, the columns of Annie Machon, upon whose name the shadow of her former partner David Shayler (ETA: "the Messiah") still weighs heavy -- at least in my mind. I've been half-consciously filtering out all of her bylines from my reading, but maybe after all these years it's long since time I reassessed...) (ETA: And now I remember precisely why I wrote Machon off all those years ago. I may bring myself to read her on occasion, but I'll never trust her...)
Meanwhile, Ray McGovern (whom I'm always much happier to cite) has a new piece out on Obama's final press conference, wherein he subtly undermined the ongoing Russia hysteria.

The hole in the U.S. intelligence community’s “high confidence” about Russia “hacking” Democratic emails has always been who gave the material to WikiLeaks, as President Obama admitted, notes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
And finally, Robert Parry came out yesterday with a very nice omnibus recap regarding the New York Times and its discontents, which may profitably be read alongside Marcy Wheeler's essay in the previous thread (ETA: Not to mention, for instance, Into the Buzzsaw). Certain among us who are happy to give lip service to the work that the mainstream press in this country once did in performing genuine investigative reporting and uncovering scandals such as Iran-Contra, while lamenting that such work "now goes undone," may wish to recall that Parry was one of the reporters who did the most to break major stories related to that scandal. Parry is still writing. Why, one might reasonably ask, is he chopped liver today?

Special Report: By failing to tell the hard truth about Establishment wrongdoing, The New York Times — along with other mainstream U.S. media outlets — has destabilized American democracy, reports Robert Parry.

ETA: I also suppose I should mention, because it has only received coverage in narrow circles, that I am anxiously awaiting news of the outcome of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)'s fact-finding mission to Syria. I haven't looked into Rep. Gabbard deeply enough to have formed any cemented opinions about her, but I can tell you this: based on such actions of hers as I've become aware of over the course of the past year or so -- this one on Syria not least -- she has earned a tremendous degree of goodwill with me.

ETA: In >530 of the last thread I gave you Bacevich and Mearsheimer on Obama's legacy. Here's Stephen Walt.
(Those joining may also wish to see >485 of the last thread -- which is, I have no doubt, the point where certain parties would say that thread went off the rails...)

Edited: Jan 23, 2017, 12:12am Top

Still no major US reporting on Deir Ezzor outside of newswires, and those not recently. From what I can make out from Syrian and Russian sources, the battle is still undecided, with attacks and counterattacks on both sides and both sides receiving reinforcements. The lines have moved back and forth, particularly in the vicinity of the cemetery, with heavy losses on both sides, but not much territory has changed hands in the aggregate (with reports of the Syrians retreating from the territory they briefly recaptured from Da'esh. The pocket, it seems, remains split. Russia has started flying TU-22 sorties from Russian bases to bomb ISIS positions, which holds out some degree of promise for tipping the balance. That's really all I've got, though. The Western news blackout seems to be near-total.

Here's a map as of yesterday from a site undoubtedly linked to Russian intelligence (which originally started out as a sort of information agency for the Novorossiya project). It shows the counterattacks which seem ultimately to have been repelled.

The latest I could find is this. Note that the headline does not match the content.

ETA: This autotranslation of a Russian blog is as good as it gets, sadly:

Jan 21, 2017, 8:12pm Top

Parry again today.
....“Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.”

Over the past several decades – even after the end of the Cold War –American presidents have violated this founding precept as they repeatedly went abroad “in search of monsters to destroy.”

These missions – designed and advocated by Washington’s dominant neocons and their liberal-hawk sidekicks – have not only wasted trillions of dollars and cost the lives of thousands of U.S. soldiers but the projects have failed to improve national security, have led to massive bloodshed in the targeted countries and have undermined global stability.

No Accountability

Yet, it has been a sign of Official Washington’s disconnect from reality that the architects of these failed endeavors have escaped accountability and indeed have solidified their control over the foreign policy establishment and the mainstream news media.

Despite the bloody fiascos in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and other unfortunate countries where the neocons and liberal hawks have prescribed “regime change,” these esteemed know-it-alls have systematically pushed aside all rivals, including old-school “realists” and peace proponents.
(T)he current danger for Democrats and progressives is that – by bashing everything that Trump says and does – they will further alienate the white working-class voters who became his base and will push away anti-war activists.

There is a risk that the Left will trade places with the Right on the question of war and peace, with Democrats and progressives associating themselves with Hillary Clinton’s support for “endless war” in the Middle East, the political machinations of the CIA, and a New Cold War with Russia, essentially moving into an alliance with the Military (and Intelligence) Industrial Complex.

Many populists already view the national Democrats as elitists disdainful of the working class, promoters of harmful “free trade” deals, and internationalists represented by the billionaires at the glitzy annual confab in Davos, Switzerland.

If — in a rush to demonize and impeach President Trump — Democrats and progressives solidify support for wars of choice in the Middle East, a New Cold War with Russia and a Davos-style elitism, they could further alienate many people who might otherwise be their allies.

Edited: Jan 23, 2017, 12:12am Top

>17 RickHarsch: That will rate as one of Pilger's best efforts in recent years.
Meanwhile: here's the latest map of Deir Ezzor (yes, from the Russians -- there is no alternative that I can find. Deir Ezzor no longer exists for the West).

Looks like the TU-22M3s (speculated to have flown from a base near Vladikavkaz) were of some use: if this map is to be believed, the SAA has retaken Harabesh Mountain, a move which has promise in potentially allowing them to bridge the gap between the airport and the government-held pocket of the city. Further Republican Guard reinforcements are also reportedly being flown in from Damascus

Further updates from Al-Masdar news, via its Syrian-Australian deputy editor:

ETA: Unsurprisingly, Max Blumenthal (yes, once again, that's Sidney Blumenthal's son) is also paying attention to Deir Ezzor.
You'll find some interesting tidbits there.

ETA: And in the retrospective vein (>14 davidgn:, final segment) of Bacevich, Mearsheimer, Walt, and Gareth Porter's unnamed Obama administration insider source, I'll make reference once again to Crooke's piece of 14 months ago (which certainly ranks among the most important I've cited):
https://consortiumnews.com/2015/11/17/lost-on-the-dark-side-in-syria/ (SERIOUSLY, READ THIS).

Those who make it through to the end without getting too punch-drunk (a feat the difficulty of which might serve as a crude indicator of how well a given reader has been paying attention these past few years) will note that Crooke concludes by citing an uncharacteristically eloquent observation from none other than Thomas Friedman. (Naturally, I'm willing to credit an apt turn of phrase and an accurate observation regardless of its source, and this one has lodged itself firmly enough in my mind that I feel compelled to repeat it here, but what is the world coming to?)

“Obama has been right in his ambivalence about getting deeply involved in Syria. But he’s never had the courage of his own ambivalence to spell out his reasoning to the American people. He keeps letting himself get pummeled into doing and saying things that his gut tells him won’t work, so he gets the worst of all worlds: His rhetoric exceeds the policy, and the policy doesn’t work.” (emphasis mine)


Edited: Jan 23, 2017, 3:07am Top

>18 davidgn: Which brings us to present circumstances. Several pieces Rick and I have cited in the past week or so have made the case -- at least one directly, others more or less obliquely -- that Obama's failed, half-hearted foreign policy (which neither embraced nor effectively obstructed the War Party) and Clinton's clear intention to champion a neocon/liberal-interventionist alliance promising only a more enthusiastic version of the same -- alienating a wide swath of potential voters -- are factors that should not be ignored in pinning the blame for Trump's election.

And if you don't believe that, it's probable that you -- unlike many potentially undecided US voters -- never read this:

But as a matter of record, you should be aware that readers of the Daily Caller (among many other Trump-supporting outlets) did:
When speaking about Syria to Goldman Sachs in New York, Clinton described it as a proxy battle with multiple levels. “We’ve got Iran with their agents in Hezbollah, and they’re being taken on by indigenous rebels but increasingly a collection of Jihadists who are funded by the Saudis, funded by the Emiratis (sic), funded by Gotter (phonetic) (sic), and you have the Turks that were very active in the beginning, but then began to be concerned by some of the development inside Syria, particularly among the northern and northeastern Kurdish population in Syria,” the Democratic nominee said.

Clinton here definitively says that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar are funding Syrian jihadists. She seems to suggest that Turkey, a NATO member, is helping out groups in Syria, though it is unclear exactly what she means or who they’d be funding

This wouldn’t be the first reference in the Wikileaks release of Clinton saying Gulf state partners support Islamic terrorists. In a leaked 2014 email to Podesta, Hillary wrote that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are both funding and giving logistical support to ISIS and other extremist Sunni groups.



With that water under the bridge, the coalition of hawks is bending over backwards in an attempt to maintain some degree of currency.

As reprinted from Middle East Eye...
Hawkish think tanks had laid plans for escalating the U.S. “regime change” war in Syria after Hillary Clinton’s expected election, but a different result has forced them to repackage their scheme, says Gareth Porter.
A new coalition of US-based organizations is pushing for a more aggressive U.S. intervention against the Assad regime. But both the war in Syria and politics in the United States have shifted dramatically against this objective.

When it was formed last July, the coalition hoped that a Hillary Clinton administration would pick up its proposals for a more forward stance in support of the anti-Assad armed groups. But with Donald Trump in office instead, the supporters of a U.S. war in Syria now have little or no chance of selling the idea.

One of the ways the group is adjusting to the new political reality is to package its proposal for deeper U.S. military engagement on behalf of U.S.-supported armed groups as part of a plan to counter Al Qaeda, now calling itself Jabhat Fateh al Sham.

But that rationale depends on a highly distorted presentation of the problematic relations between Syria’s supposedly “moderate” rebel groups and Al Qaeda’s Syrian offshoot.
Lister and his fellow coalition members are not likely to be able to sell the new administration on the idea that any of the Syrian armed groups the CIA has supported would even consider seriously resisting Fateh al-Sham under any remotely believable circumstances.

Syrian Army: The Only Alternative?

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius recently recalled meeting with leaders of Harakat al-Hazm, considered the most promising “moderate” armed group in Syria, at a safehouse in Turkey in late 2014. He found them “despondent” because the United States had just carried out a rare air strike on Al Qaeda operatives believed to be plotting a terrorist attack on the West.

They told Ignatius that, because of the U.S. bombing what was then called the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda would no longer tolerate their own group’s operations. Soon after the meeting, the Nusra Front did indeed eliminate Harakat al-Hazm and appropriate all the TOW missiles and other military equipment the CIA had given them.

The Ignatius account reflects a fundamental reality throughout northern Syria, from 2013 onwards, that was simply ignored in media coverage: all of the opposition groups have been absorbed into an Al Qaeda-controlled political-military order. The idea that the “moderate” groups could be a bulwark against Al Qaeda, which is now being peddled by Lister, Cafarella and CNAS, no longer has any credibility even in those quarters in Washington that were once open to it. (emphasis mine)

A tell-tale sign of the shift in attitude toward those groups’ mood in Washington is the fact that Ignatius used the past tense in referring to the CIA’s program of arming the “moderate” groups in Syria in his article last month.

The U.S. military leadership was never on board with the policy of relying on those armed groups to advance U.S. interests in Syria in the first place. It recognized that, despite the serious faults of the Assad regime, the Syrian army was the only Syrian institution committed to resisting both Al Qaeda and Islamic State.

It seems likely that the Trump administration will now return to that point as it tries to rebuild a policy from the ashes of the failed policy of the Obama administration.
Certain among us would do well to make sure their Washington anemometers are in good working order.

Edited: Jan 23, 2017, 4:22pm Top

Out today from Daniel Lazare, the single best and clearest summary I have found of where things stand and how they got that way. This makes my top-5 link list for this thread. Even the most mystified should be able to read this one with some understanding. Read it. And if the first few paragraphs repel you, that's all the more reason for you to continue.

(In the interest of handicap accessibility: those suffering from pathological fears of foreign intellectual contamination might prefer simply to begin their reading at the "What Went Wrong" section -- or, in extremis, the "Digging Deeper" section, which is where reassuring American authority figures begin to be quoted.)

Years from now, as historians gather to discuss the great U.S. foreign-policy debacles of the early Twenty-first Century, they’ll have much to debate – the role of oil, Zionism and Islam; the destabilizing effects of the 2008 financial meltdown; and so forth. But one thing they’ll agree on will be the impact of hubris.

Edited: Jan 24, 2017, 1:48am Top

An update on Deir Ezzor from the Swede:

From the sounds of it, serious US air support started sometime after the 20th...
The US has deployed high altitude bombers and drones to the area, and are hitting targets as they find them, often intercepting through SIGINT capabilities midair the call for aid from Syrian Government forces, and responding without warning to anyone on the ground. Russian and Syrian helicopters and warplanes fly around the clock, protecting troops from above, conducting the all essential overwatch. Without this close quarter aerial support the troops would loose their positions within hours.

While Russian and Syrian aerial responses are coordinated from Damascus based on radio calls from entrenched men on the frontline, the American response is coordinated through US military installations around the region and stateside. Although men on the ground know there is a disconnect, calls for support do receive a needed answer, which for them is all that matters. Appearing as angels in answer to a prayer, air assets are a welcome sight to these men on the ground. It is during these times, pitted in a battle against an enemy destined to kill, politics becomes utterly irrelevant.
Unconfirmed reports have circulated that a US warplane engaged ground targets inside ISIS lines to disrupt traveling reinforcements to reach the extremists. If this is the case, the order to engage ground targets was not cleared by Damascus military command – but was undertaken by the US Air Force based on CENTCOM orders as part of the US led Operation Inherent Resolve. The ISIS offensive lasted for 40 minutes amidst the air and ground counteroffensive, and in the battle two of the deployed technicals were engaged and destroyed by Syrian helicopters coming in from the east. The number of ISIS fighters killed or wounded in the offensive remains unclear.

If the roundabout would have fallen to the Islamic State, the ground logistical lines in the city would have been completely under ISIS control. Had that occurred, remaining Syrian Arab Army forces inside the city would have found themselves forced to fight with severely limited resources, or commit to another tactical retreat. A retreat would take forces out of the city area, leaving the city in the hands of ISIS.

ISIS is losing the war. But the battle for Deir Ezzor remains undecided.
No strikes matching such descriptions have been reported by CENTCOM, though, so far as I can tell. https://www.defense.gov/News/Special-Reports/0814_Inherent-Resolve

Fog of war. We might get some clarity weeks or months down the road. Or not.
ETA: Long War Journal now has a take. Not exactly a helpful one.
ETA: UNICEF press release on Deir Ezzor, 1/23

Edited: Jan 24, 2017, 12:28am Top

Behold the "looney left."
If you or I gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail. Why does our gov get a free pass on this?
12:18 PM - 10 Dec 2016

NPR on Rep. Gabbard's then-pending introduction of the "Stop Arming Terrorists Act" (H.R. 258) 12/10/16 :

And Fox, interviewing Rep. Gabbard on 01/13/17:
http://video.foxnews.com/v/5280982576001/ or

Not a bad idea:

(While we're at it, let's revisit that Kerry backstory again. Yes, this is repetitive, but it's best to hammer these things in -- particularly the details that CNN removed the audio of this very revealing Kerry meeting from its site, and the NYT sanitized its reporting on it, only to have Wikileaks release it in full: http://whowhatwhy.org/2017/01/08/leaked-kerry-audio-shows-hidden-syria-backstory...

Thanks again for the save, Julian...)

Jan 24, 2017, 4:21am Top

>20 davidgn: Lazare: fine summation

Edited: Jan 24, 2017, 11:03pm Top

>23 RickHarsch: Parry chimes in today with his own Obama foreign policy post-mortem. Solid, and good as an adjunct to Lazare. Possibly overstates or overestimates Obama's agency in a couple places.
Special Report: President Obama may have entered the White House with a desire to rein in America’s global war-making but he succumbed to neocon pressure and left behind an even more dangerous world, reports Robert Parry.

Jan 25, 2017, 5:11am Top

>24 davidgn:

Bad link? I get "fatal error" syntax message.

Edited: Jan 25, 2017, 5:59am Top

>25 Tid: That's odd. Try this?

Jan 25, 2017, 5:18pm Top

>26 davidgn:

Yes, that works. :)

Edited: Jan 26, 2017, 5:37pm Top

I've been continuing to catch up with Alastair Crooke's writings, and I'll certainly have more pointers to share once I've finished. For the moment, I'll point to this dispatch from last August, which makes an excellent accompaniment to Gareth Porter's piece at >514(last thread) and >8 davidgn: . If I'd been reading Crooke regularly at the time, I might almost have seen something like the September Deir Ezzor incident coming. (Of course, that mode of thinking lends itself to the hazard of making predictions...)

Some powerful figures clearly want any winding down of this “new” Cold War dead in its tracks. Trump’s questioning of the hostilities with Russia, of the purpose of NATO, and of the costs to the U.S. of it being a global hegemon have turned them cold.

Does he (Trump) not understand, (these “ancien regime” figures seem to say,) that rapprochement and entente with Putin now, could bring the whole structure tumbling down? It could collapse America’s entire foreign policy? Without a clear Russian “threat” (the “threat” being now a constant refrain in the U.S. Beltway), what meaning has NATO? And without NATO, why should Europe stay “on side, and (do) the right thing?” And if Damascus, Moscow and Tehran succeed in emerging with political credit and esteem from the Syria conflict, what price then for the U.S,-led “rules-based” global order?

Especially, if those who reject it, and who opt to stay out of the globalized order, find that they can so do – and emerge empowered and with their influence enhanced? If the political “rules-based order” does erode, what then will be the future for the inter-connected, and presently shaky, U.S.-led, global financial order and governance?

More Syrians are going to have to die, not because President Assad has not been ousted, but because the U.S. Establishment wants to keep the Syria war going until (they hope) Hillary takes office – and they will do whatever they can, precisely to make sure she does – and that the options to maintain America’s traditional foreign policy the way it is are not foreclosed to her on taking office.

The unsubstantiated attempt – coming from the top – to suggest that Putin’s aim is to undermine the West, and that Trump is to be Putin’s “tool” in this endeavour, is not some whimsical campaign gig — it is deadly serious. And it is very dangerous. There are few willing to say so, for fear of being labelled Putin’s “useful idiots,” too.

As for the source of the "rules-based order" quote, see this indispensable gem from two months prior, which summarizes the character of the CNAS report which was to have served as the basis for Clinton's foreign policy.

Whether in the form of Nusra or Ahrar al-Sham, another al Qaeda-allied rebel group in Syria, this chameleon-like Sunni jihadist force collectively provides a useful pivot around which neocons and liberal interventionists alike can pursue interventionism and the continuance of “the American Century.” It also provides a valuable intersection between Israel and Gulf interests. As Lobe wryly notes, “the authors’ undisguised hostility toward Tehran pours forth with specific policy recommendations that, frankly, could have been written as a joint paper submitted by Saudi Arabia and Israel.”
(cf. http://lobelog.com/the-neocon-liberal-hawk-convergence-is-worse-than-i-thought/ )

In concluding this June piece, Crooke made something dangerously close to a prediction of his own:
But there is also an intangible feeling of something passé in these policy prescriptions, a sense that they belong to a former era. The current presidential campaign, with all its iconoclasm and evidence of widespread popular anger towards the status quo, suggests that such a palpable replay of the past is not tenable.
Note further that the HuffPost ceased printing Crooke's work within a few weeks after this came out. (Perhaps they'll resume now, if there are no hard feelings. Similarly, I have my suspicions that we might see Seymour Hersh's byline finding its way back into The New Yorker over the course of the next few years...)
ETA: Just one more take, for the sake of rounding us out. Right or wrong -- and my best guess is it's at least as much the latter as the former -- it's certainly food for thought. And cf. this from the Christian Science Monitor. I suspect, really, though, that there has been an endgame in mind -- one that intersects with Deir Ezzor. And no, that's not just my idea. I got that from the DIA's 2012 assessment.
"Rarely is the question asked: 'Is our children learning?'"

Edited: Jan 26, 2017, 7:05pm Top

Tulsi's back. (And I, for one, think her time was better spent in Syria than in marching on the 21st).

I traveled throughout Damascus and Aleppo, listening to Syrians from different parts of the country. I met with displaced families from the eastern part of Aleppo, Raqqah, Zabadani, Latakia, and the outskirts of Damascus. I met Syrian opposition leaders who led protests in 2011, widows and children of men fighting for the government and widows of those fighting against the government. I met Lebanon’s newly-elected President Aoun and Prime Minister Hariri, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, Syrian President Assad, Grand Mufti Hassoun, Archbishop Denys Antoine Chahda of Syrian Catholic Church of Aleppo, Muslim and Christian religious leaders, humanitarian workers, academics, college students, small business owners, and more.

Their message to the American people was powerful and consistent: There is no difference between “moderate” rebels and al-Qaeda (al-Nusra) or ISIS – they are all the same. This is a war between terrorists under the command of groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda and the Syrian government. They cry out for the U.S. and other countries to stop supporting those who are destroying Syria and her people.

I heard this message over and over again from those who have suffered and survived unspeakable horrors. They asked that I share their voice with the world; frustrated voices which have not been heard due to the false, one-sided biased reports pushing a narrative that supports this regime change war at the expense of Syrian lives.

I heard testimony about how peaceful protests against the government that began in 2011 were quickly overtaken by Wahhabi jihadist groups like al-Qaeda (al-Nusra) who were funded and supported by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, the United States, and others. They exploited the peaceful protesters, occupied their communities, and killed and tortured Syrians who would not cooperate with them in their fight to overthrow the government.
Although opposed to the Assad government, the political opposition spoke strongly about their adamant rejection of the use of violence to bring about reforms. They argue that if the Wahhabi jihadists, fueled by foreign governments, are successful in overthrowing the Syrian state, it would destroy Syria and its long history of a secular, pluralist society where people of all religions have lived peacefully side by side. Although this political opposition continues to seek reforms, they are adamant that as long as foreign governments wage a proxy regime change war against Syria using jihadist terrorist groups, they will stand with the Syrian state as they work peacefully toward a stronger Syria for all Syrians.
I call upon Congress and the new Administration to answer the pleas of the Syrian people immediately and support the Stop Arming Terrorists Act. We must stop directly and indirectly supporting terrorists – directly by providing weapons, training and logistical support to rebel groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIS; and indirectly through Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Turkey, who, in turn, support these terrorist groups. We must end our war to overthrow the Syrian government and focus our attention on defeating al-Qaeda and ISIS.

The U.S. must stop supporting terrorists who are destroying Syria and her people. The U.S. and other countries fueling this war must stop immediately. We must allow the Syrian people to try to recover from this terrible war.

Tulsi vs. CNN

and on Fox (which interviewed former Rep. Kucinich (D-OH), who accompanied Gabbard on this fact-finding mission)

Jan 27, 2017, 9:37am Top

Jumping in with some trepidation to what seems at times to have been quite a hostile topic...

THE LESSER EVIL in The Tablet (NB: It's a "premium" story and you have to register to read it all, but it's free and straightforward to register)

Everyone I speak to in the region shakes their heads in dismay when I ask them about British foreign policy. Since 2011 I have heard Mgr Antoine Audo SJ, the Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo, repeatedly implore the British, American and other ambassadors to the Holy See to urge their governments not to help the opposition groups. “You do not know who they are,” he tells them. “We do not know who they are.”

Bishop Audo said he had been very concerned about what would happen if the British were to side with the militias opposed to the Assad regime. He believed such outside interference would only destabilise the situation in Syria further, intensify the internal war within Islam, and drive the minorities out of the country, as is the case in Iraq.

To me this echoes the quote in >29 davidgn::

Although opposed to the Assad government, the political opposition spoke strongly about their adamant rejection of the use of violence to bring about reforms. They argue that if the Wahhabi jihadists, fueled by foreign governments, are successful in overthrowing the Syrian state, it would destroy Syria and its long history of a secular, pluralist society where people of all religions have lived peacefully side by side. Although this political opposition continues to seek reforms, they are adamant that as long as foreign governments wage a proxy regime change war against Syria using jihadist terrorist groups, they will stand with the Syrian state as they work peacefully toward a stronger Syria for all Syrians.

Many of those who support war in Syria (including some posters on LT) argue that the war is necessary in order to protect Christians and other minorities. Here we hear from other voices, from within those minorities themselves, who present a rather more complex picture. They want to be helped, they want the suffering to end, they want changes in the regime, but they are not calling for more violence in order to achieve it.

Jan 27, 2017, 9:57am Top

A different tack, but the International Crisis Group's latest analysis has just appeared in my e-mail:

What's at Stake in the Syrian Peace Talks in Astana?

Jan 27, 2017, 5:21pm Top

>30 johnthefireman:

"They argue that if the Wahhabi jihadists, fueled by foreign governments, are successful in overthrowing the Syrian state, it would destroy Syria and its long history of a secular, pluralist society where people of all religions have lived peacefully side by side. Although this political opposition continues to seek reforms, they are adamant that as long as foreign governments wage a proxy regime change war against Syria using jihadist terrorist groups, they will stand with the Syrian state as they work peacefully toward a stronger Syria for all Syrians."

This is a genuine idealist aspiration and within its own parameters makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, as long as the long established 'unholy' alliance - for oil and trade reasons - exists between the Waqqabi Saudi Arabia and the West, any pursuit of the Waqqabi ISIS will always have dark complex undertones, and that is even without factoring in the neocons' suspicions of Russia, fear of Shiite Iran, and the deeply insoluble mess in Iraq and Libya.

Jan 27, 2017, 7:20pm Top


The first step to understanding the world is having some sort of clue about how to spell it.

But, please, go on about "Waqqabi Saudi Arabia" and "Waqqabi ISIS."

Edited: Jan 27, 2017, 8:39pm Top

>33 timspalding: You need to read or re-visit The Seven Pillars of Wisdom and acquire some wisdom about transliteration that Mr. Lawrence dispensed before you write petty posts like that.

Edited: Jan 28, 2017, 12:00am Top

Transliteration of Arabic is notoriously dodgy and there are many variations in practice.

It's just struck me that in the thirty-odd years that I have been using Arabic I have never ever had the opportunity to use the word wahhabi or its derivatives in conversation. Maybe it's just that it never came up in my part of the world, or maybe it's a label used more by non-Arab speakers than by Arabs themselves?

Edited: Jan 28, 2017, 4:27am Top

>33 timspalding: Your petulance is noted.

Earlier I mentioned having a mental list of 5 top links from this thread. Here they are. They're worth reading.

1 and 2 -- The Necessary Background
From >523
1. You Can’t Understand ISIS If You Don’t Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia (Crooke)
2. Middle East Time Bomb: The Real Aim of ISIS Is to Replace the Saud Family as the New Emirs of Arabia (Crooke)

(These are the middle two links from that post, which form a two-part series. They're flanked by excellent but lesser entries which are closely related.)

3 -- What the Hell Happened?
From >8 davidgn:
3. Lost on the Dark Side in Syria (Crooke)

4 -- La Trahison des Clercs
From >17 RickHarsch:
4. The Issue Isn’t Trump—It’s Us (Pilger)

5 -- The Wrap-Up:
From >20 davidgn:
5. America’s Putin Derangement Syndrome (Lazare)

Personally, I also think I'm going to have to read Crooke's book sooner rather than later:
Resistance : The Essence of the Islamist Revolution

As reviewed:
Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker magazine:
"Crooke's mission in this erudite, and most readable, book is to reassure the White Folks in George Bush's America (and elsewhere in the world) that Hamas, Hezbollah and the seemingly menacing Islamic governments in Iran and elsewhere are not the enemies of the West. His mission is to educate us about the history and philosophy of the Islamic world, and its various factions, and to show how peaceful coexistence is more than possible, if the yahoos who have been running the Global War on Terror would take the time to learn, and find ways to talk. Be forewarned, however -- this is not 'Islam for Dummies,' but a scholarly and closely argued critique of what passes for Western diplomacy today."

John L. Esposito, professor of International Affairs and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University and co-author of Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think:
‘This book is required reading at a time when alternative perspectives on the causes of global terrorism and new Western diplomatic initiatives urgently need to replace the failed policies of the Bush administration-led “War on Global Terrorism”. ‘

Jan 28, 2017, 3:37am Top

>34 RickHarsch:

I know the passage well. And indeed there are many ways of transliterating Arabic, official and unofficial. You will find people writing things many different ways, especially online. There are more than 1.5 million web pages that have "wahhabi."

But you will find exactly zero that have "Waqqabi." Even I'm stunned by this—we live in a world with 17k pages spelling "hamburger" as "hamburqer."

Jan 28, 2017, 6:17am Top

>37 timspalding: Be not stunned, English! It is written. Plus, I'm from the US where it is stunning if someone knows to what Waqqabi refers.

Edited: Jan 28, 2017, 11:08am Top

So, speaking of Deir Ezzor and crazy merry-go-round theories regarding it: who remembers the "Jazira Strategy" proposal from back in December? Anyone?

As a non-reader of The Daily Beast, I'm always grateful to be alerted to such things.
(Comment thread on this one is particularly troll-infested... Usually a sign that "b" has hit a nerve.)

There was a good Radio War Nerd show that discussed this briefly -- Episode #62, with veteran national security reporter Tim Shorrock as a guest. The relevant piece is a short segment, about 50 minutes in. https://huffduffer.com/PixelRobot/379216

Edited: Jan 28, 2017, 8:02am Top

It is written

Not in 30 trillion web pages or 130 million distinct books in Google books.

Except now, in this thread. Yay.

In fairness, there is one place where it seems to occur—Google provides the snippet "The wahhabiyah (Waqqabi in short) religious group was founded by Muhammad 'Abd al-Wahhab." But if you click the link you'll see it's an OCR mistake; the text says Waḥḥabi, and the OCR read qs for ḥs. Perhaps where you picked up this spelling—an OCR mistake.

Jan 28, 2017, 2:19pm Top

It is written refers to the movie. I figured you would get that.

Jan 28, 2017, 6:16pm Top

>35 johnthefireman: Transliteration of Arabic is notoriously dodgy and there are many variations in practice.

I'd say complex and unstandardized. But that's really a dodge here; the issues are vowels and double letters and sounds Latin doesn't have. But while ح may have several translations, Wikipedia* gives them all (except chat speak's 7) as variations of h: ħ ḥ ḩ ḥ H or .h. "q", on the other hand, always stands for ق**. ( ق is always q in standardized Arabic translation, though apparently Libyan Arabic pronounces it differently, leading it sometimes to be transliterated gh). Basically blaming transliteration is just evading the fact that the spelling was wrong.

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanization_of_Arabic
** ( ق is always q in standardized Arabic translation, though apparently Libyan Arabic pronounces it differently, leading it sometimes to be transliterated gh).

Edited: Jan 29, 2017, 2:41am Top

>42 prosfilaes: complex and unstandardized

No argument with you there, unless it be a lighthearted comment on the unstandardised spelling of the word standardised/standardized between different expressions of the English language.

But I'm not sure why you're concentrating on ح, as I believe wahhabi is spelt with the other "h" sound, ه , as in الوهابية‎‎. I think your spelling is wrong.

You're right, of course, that ق is q in standardised Arabic transliteration, but I was pointing out that there are many variations in practice. As you say, ق has various pronunciations in spoken Arabic. In Sudan it is a hard g, in Egypt it is a glottal stop. I'm not familiar with Libyan Arabic, nor with the French transliterations of the Maghreb, so I can't really comment further.

blaming transliteration

I'm not aware that I was blaming anything, simply commenting on >34 RickHarsch:.

Jan 29, 2017, 5:21am Top

>43 johnthefireman: standardised/standardized

I vaguely remember a rule from Canadian grade school--"c" for a noun? "s" for a verb?
e.g., licence (n) license(v) and practice (n) practise (v)

My Gr 5 teacher, Mrs. Roberts, must have been a tiger on this, 'coz it was/is tough to let it go,
but I don't think even observed in Canada now(?), much less in the US(?) where I don't think the distinction was ever taught(?)

Jan 29, 2017, 6:32am Top

Compare >33 timspalding: >40 timspalding::

'The first step to understanding the world is having some sort of clue about how to spell it.

But, please, go on about "Waqqabi Saudi Arabia" and "Waqqabi ISIS."'


'Not in 30 trillion web pages or 130 million distinct books in Google books.

Except now, in this thread. Yay.'


>32 Tid: Tid:

'This is a genuine idealist aspiration and within its own parameters makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, as long as the long established 'unholy' alliance - for oil and trade reasons - exists between the Waqqabi Saudi Arabia and the West, any pursuit of the Waqqabi ISIS will always have dark complex undertones, and that is even without factoring in the neocons' suspicions of Russia, fear of Shiite Iran, and the deeply insoluble mess in Iraq and Libya.'

Who is thinking? Who is honestly discussing?

And this bears--barely--repeating:

'The first step to understanding the world is having some sort of clue about how to spell it.'

Whether he meant the world or the word Wahqabee, it is one of the most ignorant lines I have ever come across on LT.

Jan 29, 2017, 7:07am Top

>33 timspalding:

Seriously? You sincerely think that spelling an Arabic word in English is more important than the issues under discussion? I cannot believe you actually said that, unless it was some kind of ham-fisted American attempt to "do" British irony (in which case it failed, dismally).

When you say "go on", is that a veiled insult implying that the rest of us are pontificating on this subject, or did you clumsily mean to say "discuss" or "educate"?

In case you missed davidgn's MANY posts containing links on the subject (of which you really only needed to read Alastair Crooke's pieces to get up to speed on this) ... Saudi Arabia's history for the past 100 years is intimately bound up with the Waqqabi (yes, that's how I choose to spell it) fundamentalist strain of Sunni Islam. It's not an exaggeration to say that Saudi Arabia is a Waqqabi state moderated only by its economic ties to the West that were set up by the House of Saud. ISIS, as I'm sure you already know, is a Waqqabi group attempting to establish its "one Islam" Caliphate in Syria and Iraq; it is hostile to all other strains of Islam whom it sees as the 'real enemy' and thereby to be eradicated. ISIS has been quietly supported - despite claims to the contrary - by Saudi Arabia to some extent, and less quietly by rebel groups in Syria who are so opposed to Assad that openly or covertly converting to the Waqqabi cause is seen as the most fruitful way to achieve this.

But why don't you actually READ some of those linked articles and learn this for yourself?

Jan 29, 2017, 8:02am Top

>46 Tid: Saudi Arabia... its economic ties to the West

Probably the wrong thread for me to make this comment, but I was watching a news item last night pointing out that of the seven states whose citizens Trump is banning, none of their citizens was involved in the only major Islamist attack on US soil. However the two states whose citizens were directly involved, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have not been blacklisted and are, er, enjoying economic ties to the West.

Jan 29, 2017, 8:03am Top

>47 johnthefireman: I think this is indeed a good place to point that out.

Edited: Jan 29, 2017, 11:29am Top

Seriously? You sincerely think that spelling an Arabic word in English is more important than the issues under discussion?

No, of course not. Here is how I think of these things:

Some people live in the real world, and some people live in a world of ideology, and conspiracies that agree with it.

For the former having opinions is fairly difficult. The world is a complex place, not made for you or likely to conform to your prejudices. You have to learn a fair amount about anything to have an informed opinion on it. You must also have a very good understanding of others' opinion, and, if your opinion differs markedly from that held generally and by people smarter and better informed than you, you should take a step back, to consider your evidence and ponder your limitations.

For the latter, things are much easier. Knowing lots of tricky, wiggly things is replaced by knowing a few big things--the central motivating tenets of your ideology. Facts largely follow from that knowledge and, where necessary, twist and bend, arise from nothing or excuse themselves as necessary, to meet the expectations of the ideology. When all this leads you into believing something contrary to what experts and others who fall into the "real world" camp believe, all the better. Of course the experts think that way--they're all part of the problem, the conspiracy, the idiocy! Believing something different isn't an opportunity for self-examination, or an invitation to learn more, it's confirmation that you're right. And if you make a little mistake, well, who cares? Little mistakes are for little-minded people—you know what's really up.

Take Trump and his types. Trumpians don't need to spend time researching crime statistics and such like some pointy-headed professor. They know crime is getting worse. They know it's mostly black people in savage ghettos, high on crack. They know we could solve the great upsurge in crime if we stopped coddling criminals and trusted police more. To know the ideology is, as Trump often puts it, to know more than everyone else—the criminologists, the generals, etc. After all, the experts know nothing!

It's hard to fight such ideologies. Since their views aren't really based on the real world, you can't win an argument with an ideologue by pointing to the real world. But it's sometimes good to prick at them, to point out when the people who think they know so much more than everyone actually don't know anything.

So, for example, I think it's important to periodically note that Trump doesn't command a passing knowledge of the topics he's so certain about. He can't name world leaders, he mangles names and policies right and left. Now, in some sense, it doesn't matter. Foreign policies are not right or wrong based on whether the leader ostensibly in charge can pass the foreign-service exam. In another sense, it points out the hubris and hollowness of what he's doing.

So too here. I don't for a moment believe that knowing or not knowing how to spell Wahhabism—and then, Trumpishly refusing to cop to the error—invalidates someone's ideas per se. It's not like the person who thought up the various conspiracy theories couldn't spell. But its fits the picture.

Jan 29, 2017, 12:06pm Top

>49 timspalding: you Conwayed his Trump, His Arrogance! Fantastic.

The world is divided into the real livers and the ideological, the latter being conspiracy theorists.

That suggests other ways to divide the world: into those who are too petty to engage in serious discussion and those who aren't; those who understand implicitly that it is ignorant to argue as if the world is divisible into two types and those who believe it is; those who refuse to comment on literally dozens of intelligent (if perhaps to various degrees flawed, though I believe in this case, not nearly enough to invalidate the general notions of the poster) links and arguments yet must comment and find mind-numbingly asinine ways to do so and those who engage in discussion and argument; those whose self-respect is aside from the question in all apparent ways and those who seem to be unaware they lack it...and so on.

Jan 29, 2017, 1:58pm Top

I'm wondering who all the smarter, better informed people are. It seems to me the ones we are always differing to in this country are the ones who are almost always fucking everything up. They get us into wars--they find ways to get rich off of collapsing the economy or selling off the livelihoods of ordinary people. Look at Kissinger for instance. He was always some ace intelligence.

And as far as real world--what real world did Trump come out of? 7-8 years ago he was part of a world professional wrestling promotion. What the fuck is that? But even the mainstream politicians on both sides are cosseted from the real lives that they're constituents have to put up with. They don't have to worry about a pension for retirement or health care. It's all taken care of. The people they really run around with our lobbyists and big donors. Those are the guys and gals who know what real life is all about?

Jan 29, 2017, 2:32pm Top

>51 lriley:

Uh, I gave Trump as an example of people not in the real world.

Jan 29, 2017, 2:59pm Top

>35 johnthefireman: Maybe it's just that it never came up in my part of the world, or maybe it's a label used more by non-Arab speakers than by Arabs themselves?

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D9%88%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%8A has a note saying:

"Adherents of Abd al-Wahhab's teaching often dislike the term وَهَّابِيّ ‎(wahhābiyy), preferring instead the term سَلَفِيّ ‎(salafiyy, “Salafist, Salafi”)."

>43 johnthefireman: But I'm not sure why you're concentrating on ح, as I believe wahhabi is spelt with the other "h" sound, ه , as in الوهابية‎‎. I think your spelling is wrong.

Ah, yes. I was misled by Tim mentioning ḥ and don't actually read Arabic myself; I'm just a student of world scripts. That actually makes it simpler; that Wikipedia page lists no alternative transliterations for ه even in chatspeak besides h.

>46 Tid: Waqqabi (yes, that's how I choose to spell it)

But it's wrong. Nowhere in the varieties of Arabic transliteration does that come up, nor does it make sense. It's a voiceless glottal fricative; in English, in Latin, in French, in Norwegian, in German, in Malay, in Navajo, in Chinese Pinyin, in Hmong, in IPA, it's spelled "h". (Spanish sometimes goes for an "s" or a "j" and words like jalapeño and Navajo have made their way into English. Still no q.)

Tim is being a bit dismissive here, but he has a point. It's like Trump mentioning "Two Corinthians"*; it's a sign that the speaker is cribbing from someone else, either verbatim or in summary, instead of having a real understanding of the subject. Refusing correction is almost horrifying; if when caught out on a clear error, you make excuses, there's little point in discussion on more complex matters.

* For any not familiar with Christian discourse in English, that's "Second Corinthians". So far, I've never seen anyone come forward and say "in our church, we call it Two Corinthians".

Jan 29, 2017, 3:57pm Top

>52 timspalding: Uh, I think he's criticizing your use of 'real'. Uh

Jan 29, 2017, 4:05pm Top

>53 prosfilaes:

Which Corinthians has 'Get thy tongue out the donkey's ass'?


'>46 Tid: Tid: Waqqabi (yes, that's how I choose to spell it)

But it's wrong.'

You are wrong, and your amateur linguistic display of Wikipedia research proves the point that transliteration of Arabic is impossible to manage.

Earlier you said 'ق is always q in standardized Arabic translation' There is no correct standardized transliteration of Arabic, see Lawrence as I suggested to the pedant who initially deranged the thread.

Edited: Jan 29, 2017, 11:06pm Top

>53 prosfilaes: I don't actually read Arabic myself

that Wikipedia page

it's a sign that the speaker is cribbing from someone else, either verbatim or in summary, instead of having a real understanding of the subject


Jan 29, 2017, 11:24pm Top

>56 johnthefireman: I've shown my sources and I understand the linguistics involved enough to provide the context.

Edited: Jan 30, 2017, 3:04am Top

>50 RickHarsch: It's all right, Rick. Tim is just up to his usual trick of blurring the lines between the magisterium of the Vatican and the magisterium of the Beltway (which must, I suppose, make him a sort of sedevacantist with regard to the latter). To challenge either seriously is arrogance at best and heresy at worst, and the only suitable intellectual response to such invidious nonsense is that of a Brooks to a Sumner. (Whatever helps you get to sleep at night, Tim. And check the mail: I'm sure there will be some very fine canes arriving any day now.)

Edited: Jan 30, 2017, 4:30am Top

One apparent U.S. policy that hasn't changed a bit under Trump: the extermination of Anwar al-Awlaki and his seed forever.
There was no outrage today from any of the U.S. "libruls" and their media outlets about last nights failed U.S. military raid in Yemen. The rural home of a tribal leader's family, friendly with some Yemeni al-Qaeda members, was raided by a special operations commando. A U.S. tiltrotor military aircraft was shot down during the raid. One soldier was killed and several were wounded. The U.S. commandos responded with their usual panic. They killed anyone in sight and bombed the shit out of any nearby structure. According to Yemeni sources between 30 and 57 Yemenis were killed including eight women and eight children (graphic pics). The U.S. military claimed, as it always does, that no civilians were hurt in the raid.

One of the killed kids was the 8 year old daughter of al-Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki. (The targeted family is related to al-Awlaki's wife.) The girl was a U.S. citizen. Under Obama the CIA had already assassinated her father and her 16 year old brother. With Obama's active help the Gulf countries have been bombing and destroying Ýemen for nearly two years. No U.S. demonstrations were held against this war.

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/01/outrage-about-trump-exposes-librul-hypocris... (which, even moreso than usual today, also contains many instances of what someone once called "exaggeration in the direction of truth." I don't mind those so much; they can be illustrative. They do, however, tend to trigger seizures in certain sensitive individuals.)

Some rhetoric on similar lines that may be less seizure-inducing:

A country that engages in endless war against multiple countries not only kills a lot of people but degrades its own citizenry. Trump is the rotted fruit that inevitably sprouts from such fetid roots.

Trump is not a Russian phenomenon, nor an Italian one, nor Latin American: He is distinctly and consummately American, merely the most extreme face yet from America’s endless war on terror and its post-2008 lurch toward oligarchy. Pretending that Trump is some grand aberration, some radical departure from U.S. history and values, is simply a deceitful way of whitewashing what we have collectively endorsed and allowed.


Modernity and the Holocaust
Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes
American War Machine

Edited: Jan 30, 2017, 10:43am Top

So far, I've never seen anyone come forward and say "in our church, we call it Two Corinthians".

Actually, I've heard that. As with other such things, by itself, it's nothing. But it fits with a much larger pattern. This is a guy who, when the communion tray was passed at a Presbyterian Church—he is allegedly Presbyterian, and was attending for the media to see him attending—he put money on it. Money. The blood boils.

Jan 30, 2017, 6:01pm Top

>55 RickHarsch:

You're speaking to johnthefireman here, not to me, surely?

Jan 30, 2017, 6:19pm Top

>61 Tid: No, I am quoting Prosfilaes quoting you. Johnthefireman knows his stuff. He did a better job putting Prosfilaes in his place just after I tried.

Edited: Jan 31, 2017, 11:28am Top

This is idiotically counterproductive, especially now. It strengthens Trump's hand. From Norman Solomon: https://consortiumnews.com/2017/01/30/rachel-maddow-plays-glenn-beck/
Convoluted and labored, Maddow’s narrative tried to make major hay out of a report from Moscow that a high-ranking Russian intelligence official had been dragged out of a meeting, arrested and charged with treason. Weirdly, Maddow kept presenting that barebones story as verification that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin had directly ordered the hacking and release of Democratic campaign emails in order to get Donald Trump elected president.

It was a free-associating performance worthy of Glenn Beck at a whiteboard. Maddow swirled together an array of facts, possible facts, dubious assertions and pure speculation to arrive at conclusions that were based on little more than her zeal to portray Trump as a tool of the Kremlin. Even when sober, Joe McCarthy never did it better.

We might dismiss her performance as just another bit of stagecraft on “MSDNC,” but Maddow was in sync with widespread fear-mongering by pundits and Democratic Party loyalists who think they’re picking some low-hanging fruit to throw at Trump. But what they’re doing is poisonous — and extremely dangerous.

The standard memes demanding hostility toward Putin virtually never address some crucial questions. Such as: What are the plausible results of escalating a new Cold War? Is it wise to push the U.S. government into evermore assertive brinkmanship with Russia? Wouldn’t the degree of success in that endeavor increase the degree of danger that the antagonisms will spiral into a military confrontation and, from there, into a nuclear holocaust?

Such questions don’t seem to bother the likes of Maddow, who has largely built her TV career on mocking, impugning and denouncing Republicans. Fair enough, except when it isn’t — and when it latches onto a Democratic party line of attack: no matter how bogus the reasoning or how dire the potential consequences for humans and all other life on this planet.

Sliding through a kind of time warp, Maddow’s performance on the night of January 26 was akin to what the most extreme Republicans have reveled in doing to incumbent Democrats in past decades — baiting them as accomplices of the Kremlin and warning against actual détente between the two countries.
To be clear: Donald Trump has already shown himself to be a horrendous president in countless ways that matter, from his Cabinet appointments to his numerous corrosive statements to his executive orders on subjects ranging from family planning for women overseas to immigration at home. Why spin into agenda-driven conjecture and illogic when there are so many empirical reasons to directly challenge Trump?

But for countless U.S. reporters and pundits as well as Democrats in Congress, the temptation to attack Trump as a servant of Putin is irresistible.
Trump is a servant of no one but himself.

An attempt at actual analysis from Crooke:

The door is indeed ‘open’, and it is possible that the two leaders may indeed conjure up a détente. But it is no ‘slam dunk’ (certainty). And Moscow certainly does not regard it to be ‘slam dunk’ – at all. On the contrary, they are aware that whereas there are areas of common approach, there are also areas of obvious difference – and possible disagreement – between the new US Administration and Moscow. The hope for détente ultimately may prove to lie just beyond reach. We shall have to see.
And political differences, there are. Major potential hurdles: The ‘America first’ policy, and that of aggressively re-building the home base, will not ruffle President Putin one jot. He feels the same about Russia. Ditto for the America first energy policy. Mr Putin will have no problems with that (there can be fruitful exchanges with Mr Tillerson on this issue).

However, three issues could be very problematic: The first is Trump’s emphasis that the US “military dominance must be unquestioned” since this directly touches on Russia’s own national security. Moscow does not seek an absolute ‘balance’, but a balance of esteem, and ‘strategic stability’ with the US. Two, Team Trump says the president will not “allow other nations to surpass our (US) military capability”; and (in a White House policy outline), “We (the US) will also develop a state-of-the-art missile defense system to protect against missile-based attacks from states like Iran and North Korea.” FM Lavrov has already warned that nuclear weapons, strategic stability and nuclear and strategic parity, will be the key issue in Russian-US relations. And the third ‘hot’ issue will be whether Trump is intent on driving a wedge into the strategic security architecture linking China, Russia and Iran. Again, any attempt to split the coalition, or to collapse the keystone of the Eurasian economic ‘arch’ (One Belt, One Road), could sour any entente between Trump and Putin.

There is however another major consideration for Russia:
Can he do it? And, should he fail, what would be the implications for Russia? Might Trump’s term in office be curtailed? Might the US President be removed, and replaced by an Administration that would pursue vindictive retribution against Russia, for having allegedly ‘sided with’ Trump?

Jan 31, 2017, 3:41pm Top

>63 davidgn: Trump is a servant of no one but himself.

Which is another sign of the American exceptionalism on the far left. America has to be running the show so they can be blamed for everything. Given the standards for accusing rulers of being puppets of the US, the strings on Trump are quite clear.

Jan 31, 2017, 4:10pm Top

>64 prosfilaes: Another language problem arises. 'American exceptionalism on the far left. America has to be running the show so they can be blamed for everything.' That's an amazing twist, utterly illogical. The far left, whatever that is, is exceptionalist because they want to blame the US for everything? What about when they blame the US for exceptionalism?

Jan 31, 2017, 5:19pm Top

>62 RickHarsch:

You actually said
"' >46 Tid: Tid: Tid: Waqqabi (yes, that's how I choose to spell it)

But it's wrong.'

You are wrong, and your amateur linguistic display of Wikipedia research proves the point that transliteration of Arabic is impossible to manage.

Earlier you said 'ق is always q in standardized Arabic translation' There is no correct standardized transliteration of Arabic, see Lawrence as I suggested to the pedant who initially deranged the thread."

But I didn't do any Wiki research and I don't claim to know anything about Arabic!!

Edited: Jan 31, 2017, 10:57pm Top

>66 Tid: Sorry for the confusion. I quoted you saying Waqqabi (yes, that's how I choose to spell it). Prosfilaes wrote 'But it's wrong'. The rest was written to Prosfilaes, or at him, for he does not debate once the ground gets muddy.

He is the Wiki researcher who knows nothing about linguistics or Arabic; Spalding is the thread sniper who picks at the meaningless (without due reason) and ignores that with content.

Feb 1, 2017, 5:52pm Top

>67 RickHarsch:

Ah - got you. Thanks. :-)

Feb 2, 2017, 2:47pm Top

>55 RickHarsch: There is no correct standardized transliteration of Arabic

Which is where it helps to know a little about the subject you're talking about. For the most part, there's no such thing as an incorrect system of transliteration; it's an art of balancing different constraints. ISO and the Library of Congress and several other bodies which make standards like these have defined standard transliterations of Arabic, and they set it to a h. Because what else would a voiceless glottal fricative be in a Latin-script transliteration? There is no one correct standard, but there's a lot of agreement between transliterations, in this case not just because it's a standard for Arabic transliteration, but it's a standard for almost all Latin script use.

But no, rely on a person who died before the creation of the International Organization for Standardization and 80 years before now to speak on the current state of standardized transliteration.

Edited: Feb 2, 2017, 7:04pm Top

Yes, I rely on a wise man who was immersed in the language and culture, as opposed to a Wiki-educated man with a demonstrably inflexible mind. It IS indeed funny that a feller dead 80 years ago in his simple way disarmed you. But it is not funny reading your frustration between these lines. Your bulb, dimmed, dimming, is dimmer yet. Choose a topic. Study it. Spend a few silent years, studying and reflecting on your self. Read some philosophy. Some Hindu philosophy. Take up a challenging hobby. Maybe even just start getting drunk once a week for a start.

Edited: Feb 2, 2017, 11:42pm Top

>69 prosfilaes:

Why don't you just let this drop?

Tid made an error in transliteration of a language which she doesn't speak, but it made no difference whatsoever to her argument, and would have passed unremarked by those of us who do speak the language except that two posters who also don't speak that language decided to make an issue of it.

You then made an obvious spelling mistake in that language which you don't speak, which I pointed out only in the context of your petulant comments on Tid's error.

What is the point of continuing this self-justification? Does it actually add anything to the substance of the conversation?

Feb 3, 2017, 4:36am Top

>71 johnthefireman:

Yes please, for Allah's sake, let us get back to the important matters under consideration!

Feb 3, 2017, 7:44am Top

>72 Tid: for Allah's sake

I think the proper transliteration is "In the name of Allah" :)

Feb 3, 2017, 9:38am Top

>73 southernbooklady:

Good one, Nicki!

Feb 3, 2017, 11:18am Top

This one might be worth sharing around.


I'll just quote Ray McGovern's comment on it:

Bob, a kudo. This sounds like — and should become — a “case study” of the Harvard Business School variety.

Your painstaking reconstruction of the real “flat facts” helps immensely to demonstrate the wider implications for our society when powerful institutions and moneyed interests win the day, partly because of a neutered media. Your discrete, self-contained case study just before Super Bowl Sunday — by extension — throws light on how the military-industrial-congressional-media-deep-state complex can work together to deceive us whenever it suits its purpose … as happened just 15 years ago as the American people were being “prepared” for the US-UK unprovoked war of aggression on Iraq.

For those who think this could not happen again, consider today’s weird, hybrid Hillary-Dems-McCainiacs/Grahamiacs-mainstream-media complex trying to “prepare” Americans for extreme hostility — if not outright war — vis-a-vis Russia.

Each time you write about the trumped-up (no pun intended) charges against Brady, it becomes clearer to me that you are giving us a short course in journalism. You do your profession proud. Thanks.


Full disclosure: Being from Boston, I sorta like Brady. (Also, my high school fencing coach wanted very badly to have his babies).

Feb 3, 2017, 1:20pm Top

Edited: Feb 3, 2017, 1:58pm Top

It's interesting--the Obama administration comes in and pretty much leaves the Bush 2's legislative legacy intact--cementing in his tax cuts for instance---enhancing his patriot act. The Trump administration comes in with the idea of not keeping or enhancing but wiping out Dodd Frank and Obamacare and pretty much everything Obama's administration accomplished. Where is Obama these days anyway? His legacy is being demolished and not a peep out of him.

And people think this country is heading to the left? Really? Both Dodd Frank and Obamacare were very watered down versions of what should have happened and neither went nearly far enough and they're about to disappear altogether. Conservatives almost always get exactly what they want--except maybe on a few social issues where front line activists (not the democratic party) do all the heavy lifting.

Edited: Feb 3, 2017, 5:03pm Top

>71 johnthefireman: Because transliteration and linguistics are subjects I care about and subjects I know about, and RickHarsch demonstrating his ignorance and lack of respect for the truth is frustrating. And he hasn't let it drop.

Feb 3, 2017, 4:47pm Top

>77 lriley: His legacy is being demolished and not a peep out of him.

One of my conservative friends complains that he's been around too much, compared to the practices of former presidents. I don't know about that, but I don't recall prior presidents being very vocal on what their successors were doing.

http://www.denverpost.com/2017/01/30/trump-immigrant-order-obama-reaction/ , dated the 30th of January, leads with "Former President Barack Obama praised protesters who amassed across the country in opposition to President Donald Trump’s immigration orders, breaking his silence on political issues for the first time since leaving office.".

Feb 3, 2017, 6:33pm Top

#79--I would rather that he was more vocal but I'm not surprised he hasn't been. Obamacare and Dodd Frank were too modest but better to have than not to have. The potential silver lining if we lose them is that one day they'll be back only not nearly as modest. Still Obama could be front line and center. A lot of people look up to him. The dems IMO need to organize themselves better in opposition. Whether they can stop him at all notwithstanding--they can and should critique his policy decisions every chance they get and make it as nasty as possible. Trump is a creature of ratings--he doesn't know how to handle ridicule. And I would prescribe a long and healthy dose of that. The democrats need to leverage the mass public against him and his most stupid shit like banning immigrants and building walls is a good place to start but the democrats should also do their best to stand their ground and Obamacare is a good place to start for that.

Edited: Feb 4, 2017, 6:03pm Top

The neocons and their allies are still trying to kill two birds with one stone.

A Reprise of the Iraq-WMD Fiasco?
Exclusive: Official Washington’s new “group think” – accepting evidence-free charges that Russia “hacked the U.S. election” – has troubling parallels to the Iraq-WMD certainty, often from the same people, writes James W Carden.

Fight Trump and Bannon, but watch out for the neocons, too.
To wit:

Trump Veers off Course with Iran Threats
The Trump administration has veered into dangerous territory with its threats against Iran, a threat to President Trump’s larger vision of a revamped international order, reports ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke.
(Crooke still has yet to write Trump off in terms of his potential to be an imperfect and distasteful vehicle for a needed foreign policy shift. I'm tempted to peg this as wishful thinking.)

Trump’s Iran-Bashing Distraction
Like other U.S. presidents, Donald Trump is falling in line behind the Israeli-Saudi fiction that Iran is the principal source for world terrorism and regional disorder, a dangerous turn, notes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Trump Bends to Neocon Pressures
Exclusive: President Trump’s calls for reorienting American foreign policy look to be disintegrating in his first two weeks in office as he embraces the neoconservative hostilities toward Iran and Russia, as Andrew Spannaus notes.
(On this one, it might be valuable to cf. https://www.librarything.com/topic/239430#5793981 . In particular, the video I linked there is an hour's worth of footage that will challenge most people's perspective. There are a few particularly damning segments towards the end where the BBC's own footage and reportage entirely and dramatically contradict the pronouncements of Kerry et al. This is another one of my "challenges." I dare anyone to watch this and tell me they haven't learned something new. Beats enriching Bannon by watching Seinfeld re-runs!

And incidentally, Spannaus' citation of George Friedman leads me to these maps, which are excellent: https://geopoliticalfutures.com/the-geopolitics-of-2017-in-4-maps/ )

ETA: Another just out, from Lazare.

Steering Trump Back to Endless War
Exclusive: President Trump’s chaotic first two weeks have seen senior aides reverse his most promising plans for restoring realism to U.S. foreign policy, especially regarding Russia and the Mideast, reports Daniel Lazare.

A notable tidbit:
–As for the botched raid in Yemen, the U.S. government again is in contradictory situation because the Houthi rebels who were fighting Al Qaeda’s local affiliate have lost ground to the terror group because of the U.S.-backed Saudi intervention against the Houthis. In a recent report, the International Crisis Group found that Al Qaeda “is thriving in an environment of state collapse, growing sectarianism, shifting alliances, security vacuums, and a burgeoning war economy.”

In “Yemen Under Siege,” a PBS documentary aired last May, journalist Safa Al Ahmad filmed Al Qaeda units fighting side by side with forces backed by the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates. (See clip starting at 8:38.) So, why battle Al Qaeda with one hand while aiding it with the other? Again, the U.S. has gotten itself into the bizarre position in which Al Qaeda is simultaneously its enemy and an ally of its best friend. (For more, see Consortiumnews.com’s “The Secret Behind the Yemen War.”)

If you care to look, you can see this same jihadi sausage being made more or less the same way, over and over again, year after year (which goes back to Crooke's pieces in >36 davidgn:). Sausage, after all, is a convenience food, and this sausage factory is well established. Most people, though, don't care to look; cognitive dissonance is hard.
Further commentary and/or excerpts to come on these if I have time.

Edited: Feb 4, 2017, 5:31pm Top

Relating to >59 davidgn: and 499 in the last thread, a good interview with Gareth Porter today by Dennis Bernstein of KPFA's Flashpoints regarding Yemen.

...What we know is that some millions of people have been, to some extent, suffering from lack of adequate food. And particularly, of course as is usually the case, children are the ones who are suffering the most. The stories that I … cited and tweeted yesterday (January 30), had figures that showed that 31% of children under the age of five are now suffering from acute malnutrition.

And, of course, that’s the category that includes people who are really starving to death, or close to death, as well as those people who are in the process of moving towards that condition. So those are the worst hits.

At one point, that would be–according to my estimate looking at the age distribution of Yemen–that would be about 1.7 million children under the age of five in Yemen who are either … in an advanced stage of malnutrition, or who are headed very far, and have gone very far in that direction.

And the same article used the figure of 7 million people who are in what they call “severely food insecure areas” of the country. Meaning that these are areas that have been bombed severely, and where the food production has been, virtually, brought to a halt. It’s been extremely limited, and therefore, access to food has been very limited. So, that’s an extremely serious situation.

It’s a humanitarian catastrophe, there’s no doubt about that. And, it is certainly on a scale similar to Syria, and in many ways, maybe worse than the catastrophe that has occurred…. humanitarian catastrophe that has occurred in Syria. And I say that because, as I go back and look at the coverage of starvation, malnutrition in Syria, the only place where it has been reported that there were cases of such severe malnutrition that people were starving to death, was in a town called Madaya, which was subject to being besieged by the Assad government troops.

And now there may be other places, but there certainly has not been other widespread coverage of this kind of severe malnutrition in Syria over the last couple of years. So that is a picture of, you know, a real catastrophe which, I must say, has not been covered by the U.S. press…

Now, there may have been questions about it, there may have been warnings now (from the Obama administration), you know, “try to not hit civilians,” so on and so forth. But the fact is that the United States approved that bombing campaign before it even started.

It would not have started if the United States had refused to go along with it. And the main reason is that the Saudis were incapable of carrying out a bombing campaign of that kind in Yemen without the United States providing the bombs and without the United States, potentially and more importantly, providing the refueling services for the flights of Saudi and UAE and other countries’ planes carrying out the bombing. So this is complicity which goes very deeply.

It means that the United States is really wholly responsible for the outcome because, at any time, over the past almost two years now, the United States could have said, “No, you cannot do this, we will stop refueling the planes.” And the Saudis and their Gulf allies would have been forced to end the entire campaign. So, that’s the nature, legally and morally, of U.S. culpability.

And, of course, the consequence is that the United States now is responsible for the civilian suffering, for the severe malnutrition and starvation that we’re seeing now in Yemen.
(Or, y'know, this could just be a problem of whiny leftist American exceptionalists who always have to blame the U.S. for everything just because it's involved, and couldn't toe the line of a good press blackout to save their lives.)


Feb 4, 2017, 5:57pm Top

>82 davidgn: the United States could have said, “No, you cannot do this, we will stop refueling the planes.” And the Saudis and their Gulf allies would have been forced to end the entire campaign.

Huh? This makes no sense whatsoever. Saudi and Yemen are neighbors, and even if they had to refuel in Riyadh, that's only a 1500 mile roundtrip. You're telling me that the Saudis could not source and supply WWII-era technology without US help. I cry bullshit.

From the article: If there was a ban that reflected the degree of risk, ... you would certainly have to say that Saudi Arabia was the top risk ... {Y}et includes Iran which is, of course, not a risk at all. There’s simply no basis for saying that there’s the slightest risk from Iran because it has not, in fact, been at war with the United States.

These statements leads me to dismiss everything he says without further backup. Yes, citizens from Saudi Arabia do seem to be a relatively high risk for terrorism in the US, possibly even the top risk. But Saudi Arabia has not been at war with the US; in fact the article just discussed how close allies we were militarily. The history of US-Iran relations, or, to use our affectionate nicknames for each other, Great Satan-part of the Axis of Evil relations, on the other hand, have been hostile, starting with the invasion of the US embassy (at least for the Islamic Republic; I know it goes back further), going through US assistance to Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war, the US shootdown of an Iranian plane later identified as a peaceful passenger jet, and recently the Iranian capture of US naval forces which strayed into Iranian waters. It has not been at "war" with the US, but our nations and our militaries have engaged in hostilities.

Saudi citizens are more dangerous to the US in some ways because they have more access. But Iranian citizens are in a environment that can grow the same type of non-state terrorists, even if we ignore the possibilities of state action.

Edited: Feb 4, 2017, 6:20pm Top

>83 prosfilaes:
Huh? This makes no sense whatsoever

"For example, the United States will keep refueling Saudi-led coalition aircraft involved in the campaign, and it is not cutting off all arms sales to the kingdom. And, in a nod to Saudi Arabia’s security concerns, Washington will share more intelligence on the Saudi border with Yemen."

"This bombing campaign would not be possible without U.S. targeting, U.S. bombs, U.S. refueling,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), said in a recent interview. “We are full and total participants in this bombing campaign, and it seems ludicrous to try to absolve ourselves from these casualties."

"U.S. refueling and logistical support of Riyadh's air force - even more than the arms sales - risked making the United States a party to the Yemen conflict under international law, three officials said."

Those took me 30 seconds to find. I can keep piling on if you like.

>83 prosfilaes:These statements leads me to dismiss everything he says without further backup.

Porter overstates his case in a live interview, but I expect Porter's real point in this respect to echo pieces such as this:

But after sifting through databases, media reports, court documents, and other sources, Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration expert at the libertarian Cato Institute, has arrived at a striking finding: Nationals of the seven countries singled out by Trump have killed zero people in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and 2015.

Feb 4, 2017, 7:11pm Top

>84 davidgn: The only quote you have there that replies to my assertion that of course an attack needing WWII-era technology could be supported by the Saudis alone is the one from Sen. Chris Murphy, a simple assertion from a political source. The number of quotes is irrelevant if they aren't relevant to the question.

Porter overstates his case in a live interview,

It's not that he overstates his case. It's that "There’s simply no basis for saying that there’s the slightest risk from Iran because it has not, in fact, been at war with the United States." is a facile and stupid statement; there's little connection between terrorism and being at war with the US. The very nation he names as the #1 risk, we have not, in fact, been at war with, whereas the US and Iran have engaged in small-scale military hostilities on-and-off for a long time. Iranian terrorism would in fact be a way that Iran could strike at the US without getting into a full-scale war.

Porter's real point

His point is beside the matter. Even if I agree with someone on one point, doesn't mean that their arguments are logical or that I should accept their conclusions on other points.

Edited: Feb 4, 2017, 10:38pm Top

>85 prosfilaes: The only quote you have there that replies to my assertion that of course an attack needing WWII-era technology could be supported by the Saudis alone is the one from Sen. Chris Murphy, a simple assertion from a political source.

In terms of their military capabilities, the Saudis are dependent on U.S. support at every step of the way. Even as they're trying to develop a certain degree of self-reliance, they're still at the mercy of the U.S.'s will, and therefore the U.S. bears responsibility for enabling them in their catastrophic military campaign. This should be common knowledge, but as it is apparently not, I'll let this article paint the picture for you:

Persian Gulf leaders, led by King Salman of Saudi Arabia, are sending increasingly public messages of displeasure with the Obama administration over its policies in the Middle East, even as the president seeks to reassure them this week in meetings at Camp David.

Yet, while they are upset with the White House, particularly over the impending nuclear deal with Iran, the Saudis and their gulf allies face a dilemma: Even as they are taking a more active role in their own defense, they remain almost entirely reliant on Washington for their security.

This dependency “has to change, and they know this has to change,” said Jean-Francois Seznec, a professor of Persian Gulf political economy at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
Decades of cooperation and billions of dollars in weapons contracts have left the gulf nations deeply entwined with the United States and Britain in ways that cannot be quickly undone, analysts say.
"American-made fighter jets are being used in the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen, but “none of these airplanes would fly if the United States refused to send parts,” Dr. Seznec said."
“Just as the United States is trying to lessen its dependence on Saudi oil, the Saudis are trying to lessen as much as possible their reliance on the American alliance,” (Saudi political analyst and former diplomat) Mr. (Abdullah) Shammari said.

But the Saudis remain heavily reliant on the United States, and to a lesser extent on Britain, in nearly every branch of their security apparatus.

“The Saudi air force could not carry out day-in, day-out bombing missions without help from U.S. trainers and maintenance experts and the flow of spare parts and ammunition,” said Bruce Riedel, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, speaking about the Saudi-led bombing campaign against Shiite rebels in Yemen.


What are you trying to argue here? That the Saudis could theoretically commandeer a bunch of commercial airliners or other vulnerable long-range aircraft in lieu of their top-notch American equipment, cobble together a bunch of barrel bombs in lieu of their precision-guided American armaments, and drop them blindly on anything that moves instead of relying on American targeting intelligence? Well, fine: I'll grant that in the realm of the purely hypothetical, if they could manage to round up some suicidal pilots, the Saudis might be capable of pulling off some sort of 5 O'Clock Charlie operation. What does this fantasy of yours have to do with the reality of Saudi air operations in the real world, or with the fact of U.S. complicity in them?

As for your second point: the interview in question was on the subject of American complicity in creating the humanitarian disaster which now exists in Yemen. Instead of engaging the main thrust of the argument, you prefer to seize on a hyperbolic statement the interviewee makes on a tangential question as grounds for discrediting everything he (and, presumably, anyone else) might say on the subject at hand. Nevertheless, let me address your concern:

>85 prosfilaes: "There’s simply no basis for saying that there’s the slightest risk from Iran because it has not, in fact, been at war with the United States." is a facile and stupid statement; there's little connection between terrorism and being at war with the US

Well, yes, it's facile and stupid if you interpret it literally, in the context of war between nation-states. I expect Porter is speaking in more ideological terms. For this question, as for many others, it might be enlightening to turn to one of Crooke's explainers. Specifically, this explanation of the difference between ISIS and al-Qaeda (first link from >523 , and indirectly referenced in >36 davidgn: ) : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alastair-crooke/iraq-isis-alqaeda_b_5542575.html

Da’ish (ISIS) is not al-Qaeda; it is not an al-Qaeda franchise, nor is it its affiliate. After brief flirtation, it stands severed and in direct opposition to al-Qaeda, which it views as acting in error. (Though it still follows the writings of Abdallah Azzam who was a key intellectual influence on al-Qaeda).

Al-Qaeda emerged from the “myth” that the USSR was “imploded” by the mujahideen of Afghanistan succeeding in forcing its political and economic overextension. It was Abdullah Azzam’s analysis of the USSR’s vulnerability to such a process which prompted the notion that the U.S. could be similarly imploded — by “shocking” it into a global overreach. The outcome would ultimately expose the superpower’s frailties and hypocrisy to ordinary Muslims — and therefore cause them to lose their fear of it.

For this objective to be achieved, however, Bin Laden saw a need for Muslims to be united (i.e. sectarianism was discouraged). At this point, the war of “vexing and exhausting” was directed at the “far enemy” through global acts of “shock and awe,” but al-Qaeda’s was more a virtual war than a hot war fought on the ground.

Zarqawism (used here, loosely to identify the ISIS ideology) grew from different roots: It was not a grandiose scheme to implode the USA but was all about grievance (heavily grounded in the feelings of a displaced and impoverished rural class). It was about a sense of Sunni loss of privilege, power, possession of the state and claimed rights. It was driven by a deep desire for revenge against “usurpers.”
My point (which I could expand on given the time) is that Saudi Arabia may not be at war with the U.S., but (as Crooke explains at length in other three articles linked in >523) it is an incubator and exporter of the Wahhabist ideology underlying both al-Qaeda and ISIS -- the former of which is ideologically at war with the U.S. -- and therefore poses a greater risk as a source of migrants to the U.S.. Iran, on the other hand, is ideologically antagonistic to Sunni takfirism, and harbors no equivalent to al-Qaeda in terms of inherent hostility to the U.S. (though there is, of course, a degree of historically-rooted contingent hostility). This, I think, is roughly what Porter meant. Here is Porter's full quote:
And, of course, as you say, Saudi Arabia is not included. The fact is, of course, that that list of countries whose people are banned from coming into the United States is entirely political, yet includes Iran which is, of course, not a risk at all. There’s simply no basis for saying that there’s the slightest risk from Iran because it has not, in fact, been at war with the United States. Because it has been an ally of the United States against the jihadists in those countries where the United States faces the greatest risks… the countries from which the Unites States faces the greatest risks.
You, of course, may believe as you prefer, and by all means please keep avoiding the main subject and cherry-picking tangential quotes that might have been better worded as an excuse to dismiss anyone who might challenge your preconceptions. Such maneuvers place you in excellent intellectual company: Video released by Pentagon to prove Donald Trump's deadly Yemen raid was successful is a decade old and available online

Edited: Feb 5, 2017, 6:26am Top

>83 prosfilaes: WWII-era technology

But the Saudis are not using WWII technology. They are using extremely sophisticated modern kit. Are you not perhaps underestimating the extent to which such kit relies on spare parts, technical expertise, electronic targeting, weaponry (again highly sophisticated, not just barrel bombs), etc which are often only available from the manufacturing countries?

Even in a low-level and low-tech war such as South Sudan, arms experts and peacebuilders are looking seriously at ways of reducing the supply of spare parts and weapons to the much older and lower-tech ex-Soviet helicopter gunships as a way of reducing the carnage.

Kenya, on the other hand, has just ordered low-tech attack aircraft from the USA, based on a crop-spraying aircraft, which may prove to be a bit easier to maintain without so much outside help (although the deal reportedly includes "a maintenance, logistics, and weapons package").

Feb 5, 2017, 6:25am Top

Prosfilaes, allow me to demonstrate yet more ignorance. I fail to understand your froth over this comparison between a country Iran and the US. (Surely you are not comparing Iran and Saudi Arabia?). Nor do I see any need for comparison at all. The US is engaged in encouraging, abetting and prosecuting horrors in Yemen. It is that simple. See the family of Anwar al-Awlaki (proper transliteration awaits your love); see the destruction in Yemen; see the starvation in Yemen; see the Saudi/US war machine; see the Syrian refugees in Saudi Arabia.

Feb 5, 2017, 10:41am Top

>81 davidgn:

"(On this one, it might be valuable to cf. https://www.librarything.com/topic/239430#5793981 . In particular, the video I linked there is an hour's worth of footage that will challenge most people's perspective. There are a few particularly damning segments towards the end where the BBC's own footage and reportage entirely and dramatically contradict the pronouncements of Kerry et al. This is another one of my "challenges." I dare anyone to watch this and tell me they haven't learned something new. Beats enriching Bannon by watching Seinfeld re-runs!

I did - in fact I watched not only the whole hour, but also the following hour (Part 2), and half an hour of Part 3, of the 5-hour "Roses have Thorns". What I learned was that Ukraine is a deeply divided country, and splits evenly between the pro-West-and-EU western half, and the pro-Russia eastern half. The Kiev 'revolution' didn't seem all it was purported to be on the surface (i.e. gleaned from the TV News) - not only did it represent only half of Ukraine, the other half was invited to "join us or f**k off back to Russia". There also seemed to be more than their fair share of extreme nationalists and even Nazis among the group that seized power from the pro-Russian government. Obama was keen to support the revolution on the basis of "let the people have their say", while "liberal" counter speeches came from Putin post-Crimea.

I'm not sure what the real truth is there, but from the chaos that emerged from the film it was clear that both the EU and America seemed in great danger of planting a flag on whatever side was hostile to Russia. I'm not sure if that's what I was supposed to learn? but it's what I came away with.

Edited: Feb 5, 2017, 11:58am Top

>89 Tid: Not bad for a first whack. :-)
Five segments show up at right on YouTube, but there are actually 17 of them. It's a monumental work. (Be advised, if you decide to continue: Part 6 is particularly difficult to watch.)

Broad themes become apparent first. It takes longer to pick up on individual figures, but if you spend enough time with this stuff you will. (For instance, you stand to learn from experience why Matt Lee is the MVP of the State Department press pool -- and why I refer to Yuriy Sergeyev as "Herr Gurgles.") ;-)

Feb 5, 2017, 11:51am Top

>89 Tid: I can't resist here posting a short chapter that properly deciphered gets at much of Ukraine's situation, from my novel Kramberger with Monkey, published in Slovenia as Kramberger z opico:

Chapter Eighteen
Yushchenko’s Face

Ukraine is one of those restless countries that moves around now and then, hides, moves again, emerges fresh and strong, kills some enemies within, some without, moves around a little more, hides again, emerges fresh and strong and chaotic, kills mostly within but occasionally by rocket without. For some, such a country is a refreshing change. Aren’t you little bored with, say, the borders of the United States? How long has it been since they changed? On the other hand, for the people in a city like, say, L’viv, change can be disorienting. One day it’s Lvov and it’s Polish, next day it’s got an apostrophe and it’s Ukrainian. Even central Ukraine can be fickle. One day it’s a breadbasket, next day a slaughterhouse; or a famine riddled grim place where no one vacations—all that bread and people dying of hunger…it can be very confusing. Then there’s the rain: one day water, next day acid (as they say). One day an historic city of the Pripet Marshes is bustling, next day a ghost town. And of course there are the people. Every country is heterogeneous by nature piled upon nature. So Ukraine had all these Jews and now where are they? In Pinsk, you say? Maybe, but they lost Pinsk to Belarus, which had to have Minsk, and if you’ve got Minsk and a loose Pinsk, the logic of politicals and rhymes says you needs to combines. You may not believe it but there are people on this Earth who are missing their Pinsk.
O sad Ukraine
O sad Ukraine
You lost so much and what did you gain?
And what didn’t you lose? Moskva, Moscow, Muskovy. The smarmy grappler Putin. Putting his nose in where he just can’t get that it doesn’t belong. Can’t he tell a Lukashenko from a Yushchenko? Not at first, but then western media broadcast Yukashchenko’s handsome grass roots face all over the tubes all over the world and next thing you know Ukraine has a fifty fifty itch for ‘freedom’. Stop laughing. Death threats delivered against Yushchenko, Yushchenko meets secret agents, ‘ex’-KGB, has a bowl of soup and his dioxin level multiplies by thousands. What is dioxin? Ask some Vietnamese peasants. The point is, Yushchenko developed a mysterious illness that should have killed him (What the fuck do we have to do, for Val’s sake!). The problem for Todd Fullmer was that the media was crawling all over the Yushchenko story like maggots in a rotting gut before the poisoning. So when he got poisoned, there was no original angle, no uncovered angle, no scoop, for Todd Fullmer and PS. Doctors in Vienna said we don’t know what’s wrong, but there’s hardly an organ in his body that isn’t deformed, swollen, and crawling with something not maggots. Reporters were on the thing day and night for months. Yushchenko put on a brave face, but it was a mask, a distortion of his own face, mislabeled pocked by a baffled press. Pitted, some said. As if burned, said others. It had turned gray, sometimes shading to Pripet green, boils gaping with enlarged pores. It looked like Chernobyl. It looked like the kind of thing that you expect will rub off on you if you touch it.
If you touch it…if you touch it…If you touch it! That’s the scoop. Todd Fullmer would be the only reporter to actually touch it.
As things turned out, Todd had no problem at all. Yushchenko advertised his grotesque face, he wanted all Ukrainians to know what the old guard had done and would continue to do—my face is Ukraine, he said—if he weren’t elected. Ukraine needed new blood, no matter the dioxin level. Nervously, Todd Fullmer visited Kiev. Nervous because it’s hard to believe how close the capitol is to Chernobyl (I’d have let Belarus have Chernobyl and moved the capitol to the Crimea, Todd wrote). He got an appointment with Yushchenko, brought along a photographer, told Yushchenko straight out he just wanted to touch his face, Yushchenko thought it was a good idea, Todd reached, pulled his arm back, gathered courage, reached again and…Yuk! It wasn’t one of those things that looks like it will rub off on you if you touch it—it did rub off. Slime. If you’ve ever picked up a Mediterranean snail, the kind with beautiful racing stripes on it, which you can only see when it’s crossing the street looking for its shell, dropped it off on the other side of the street only to find out that fifty percent of the snails body weight is slime on your hand that does not wash off—it has to be scrubbed and scraped and washed over and over again for at least an hour—well, that was what it was like touching Yushchenko’s face, except the slime had that same ashen color…

Edited: Feb 5, 2017, 5:39pm Top

>91 RickHarsch: This might be helpful for some (from 2010):
And this (from 2014) will shed some light on how convoluted the narrative really is:
(but cf. also https://www.emptywheel.net/2014/03/01/of-neo-fascists-and-smiley-face-neoliberals/ )
(File under "Awkward conversations with bosses, followed by 'amicable resignations.'")

Feb 5, 2017, 6:09pm Top

>86 davidgn: Well, yes, it's facile and stupid if you interpret it literally, in the context of war between nation-states. I expect Porter is speaking in more ideological terms.

I used more ideological terms; Iran calls us "the Great Satan". The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. This 2015 article from the Washington Times quotes the Ayatollah Khamenei as saying "U.S. policies in the region were “180 degrees” opposed to Iran‘s".

The article you linked to in >84 davidgn: is dealing, fortunately, with a terribly small data set, and just looking at the small numbers of terrorist attacks that caused fatalities limits it even more. If we go to that article, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/01/trump-immigration-ban-terrorism/514361/ , scroll down to Foreign-Born Terrorist Country of Origin, 1975-2015, and sort by terrorists instead of fatalities, we find that Iran is sixth, tied with Armenia, for origin of most terrorist attacks on US soil. Your own supporting source indicates that Iran is one of the most frequent sources for attacks on US soil.

Is Iran the biggest concern right now? No. But in navigating a world of complex information sources, I don't feel silly in quickly getting suspicious of sources that are saying things that clearly false for apparently ideological reasons.

>87 johnthefireman: often only available from the manufacturing countries?

Iran still flies F-14s that we haven't supplied them with parts for in 35 years. I really don't get where refueling is that big of a deal here.

There are other sources. I don't know if the Russians could supply them with compatible ammunition and bombs, but ultimately they could replace the whole systems. Saudi Arabia currently uses the Eurofighter Typhoon and Panavia Tornado IDS, both of which are ground-attack fighters and not built in the US. They're working on an Antonov with the Ukrainians and have sourced planes from a Pakistani manufacturer and ballistic missiles from China.

I'll accept at least provisionally that if the US stopped supporting Saudi Arabia, they might have to currently cease their attacks. But they have non-US planes capable of delivering bombs they could source from elsewhere.

Feb 5, 2017, 6:46pm Top

>93 prosfilaes: They will do as they are told.

Feb 5, 2017, 6:59pm Top

>93 prosfilaes: To follow up, Saudi Arabia has the third largest military budget in the world. Admittedly, they don't provide separate numbers for military and "public order and safety", so that gets lumped together and it might drop them a couple places down the list, but you're still arguing a nation that spends a huge amount of money on their military can't bomb a neighboring country without help.

>92 davidgn: https://www.thenation.com/article/hero-orange-revolution-poisons-ukraine/ says "Then he whipped up fear about an imminent Russian invasion of Crimea and sold it to gullible Western journalists and officials, who duly panicked,". Because clearly any idea that Russia would invade Crimea was totally unrealistic. Duh.

Ukraine is complex. If this were coming from someone who hadn't whitewashed the Russian involvement, I might treat it differently. But your Pando source is talking about an NGO called Center UA that it says has a half million dollar budget. Russia threatened to invade if Ukraine joined the EU.* That's not quite the same level of meddling there.

* https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/22/ukraine-european-union-trade-russia quotes Putin's Presidential Aide Sergey Glazyev as saying "But legally, signing this agreement about association with EU, the Ukrainian government violates the treaty on strategic partnership and friendship with Russia." When this happened, he said, Russia could no longer guarantee Ukraine's status as a state and could possibly intervene if pro-Russian regions of the country appealed directly to Moscow."

Edited: Feb 5, 2017, 9:18pm Top

>95 prosfilaes: But you're still arguing a nation that spends a huge amount of money on their military can't bomb a neighboring country without help.
As things stand? Yup.

>95 prosfilaes: Because clearly any idea that Russia would invade Crimea was totally unrealistic. Duh.
It was in 2010. There's a timeline here. Duh.

>95 prosfilaes: Russia threatened to invade if Ukraine joined the EU
A predictable red line for Russia in 2013, which had been seeing itself encircled -- and therefore for Putin, who had been facing pressure from more hard-line nationalists on this score. (You can argue that areas of influence, buffer states, and geostrategic red lines are outdated concepts, but you can't simultaneously allow for Washington to claim such interests without evincing total hypocrisy.) And in any case, if you want to talk about meddling, how about hand-picking a foreign country's new prime minister before its democratically-elected government is even deposed? (See next response).

>95 prosfilaes: But your Pando source is talking about an NGO called Center UA that it says has a half million dollar budget
That's the tip of the iceberg. Clearly it's time to quote Spannaus from >81 davidgn: (see especially bolded sections):
The Trump Administration’s goal of de-escalating tensions with Russia is meeting stiff resistance in Eastern Europe where many reject the notion that a diplomatic solution can be reached over the issues of Ukraine and NATO expansion.

This reality was on clear display at the 10th Europe-Ukraine Forum held in Rzeszow, Poland, from Jan. 27 to 29, which brought together over 900 government officials, politicians and analysts from across Europe, to discuss how to respond to the new political situation in the United States while continuing to provide support to Kiev’s efforts to bind itself closer to the West.

The atmosphere at the Forum – an annual event organized by the Eastern Institute of Warsaw – was more muted than last year, as the reality of the “realpolitik” likely to be adopted by President Trump’s administration sinks in.
The fear among these participants was that Ukraine would lose out in any U.S.-Russian diplomatic accord. They argued further that if nothing is done to counter Putin’s alleged expansionism then Russia will inevitably move into Eastern Europe in order to restore its former empire.

However, this view is based on the assumption that the conflict in Ukraine broke out simply because the Russian president woke up one morning and decided it was time to expand Russian military power again. It ignores what the West did up to 2014, such as expanding NATO towards Russia’s borders and providing support through both official sources and numerous NGOs to “pro-democracy” groups, some of which wanted regime change not only in Kiev but in Moscow.

A prominent example is the head of the U.S. taxpayer-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Carl Gershman. As journalist Robert Parry has reported, NED funded scores of “democracy promotion” projects in Ukraine, contributing to undermining the previous elected government and touching off the civil war between Ukrainian nationalists from the west and ethnic Russians from the east. Gershman also has called for the overthrow of Vladimir Putin in Russia.

A False Narrative

Although the West’s propaganda narrative has obscured the circumstances around the ouster of Ukrainian President Yanukovych on Feb. 22, 2014, the violent putsch has been called the “most blatant coup in history” by George Friedman, the founder of Stratfor and Geopolitical Futures. At the time of the coup, a diplomatic deal had been struck for new elections by the end of the year, but far-right militia groups stepped in to seize control of the government institutions and the coup regime was quickly declared “legitimate” by the U.S. government and its allies.

A key player in the change in power was U.S. Undersecretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who was recorded in a pre-coup phone call saying “Fuck the EU” with regard to Europe’s role as a mediator for a diplomatic solution, and also hand-picking the person who would become the new prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, with the comment “Yats is the guy.”

This direct intervention by the West provoked a predictable reaction from Russia, which moved quickly to ensure that Crimea would not end up under the NATO umbrella and then provided support to ethnic Russian rebels in the east of Ukraine who battled Ukrainian troops spearheaded by the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion and other ultra-nationalist militias.

The intensity of the conflict in Ukraine decreased considerably after a ceasefire agreement was hammered out in early 2015. However, on Jan. 28, barely a week into the Trump administration, new fighting broke out around the city of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine. Staunchly anti-Russian media outlets and politicians immediately tried to leverage the situation to block any moves by President Trump to press ahead with a diplomatic solution
More regarding the latest episode, from Lazare (>81 davidgn:) -- sadly in total contradiction to what the talking heads on MSNBC were saying this morning, taking Nikki Haley's pronouncements as gospel:
–As for the flare-up in the eastern Ukraine, a dispatch by Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty – of all outlets – made it clear as to who is responsible: Ukraine.

As RFE wrote: “Frustrated by the stalemate in this 33-month war of attrition, concerned that Western support is waning, and sensing that US President Donald Trump could cut Kyiv out of any peace negotiations as he tries to improve fraught relations with Moscow, Ukrainian forces anxious to show their newfound strength have gone on what many here are calling a ‘creeping offensive’…

“(S)ince mid-December, Ukraine’s armed forces have edged farther into parts of the gray zone in or near the war-worn cities of Avdiivka, Debaltseve, Dokuchaievsk, Horlivka, and Mariupol, shrinking the space between them and the separatist fighters. In doing so, the pro-Kyiv troops have sparked bloody clashes with their enemy.”

Indeed, Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham visited the front late last month along with Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota to urge the offensive on.

“Your fight is our fight,” Graham told one group of fighters. “2017 will be the year of offense. … Enough of Russian aggression. It is time for them to pay a heavier price.” Added McCain: “The world is watching because we cannot allow Vladimir Putin to succeed here, because if he succeeds here he will succeed in other countries.”

Haley’s False Claims

So the offensive that Nikki Haley denounced was not the work of Russia but of Ukraine with encouragement from two leading U.S. advocates of confrontation. The target was not only to bloody pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine but to mess up rapprochement with Russia in the West. The goal was not only to force Putin “to pay a heavier price,” but to checkmate Trump by presenting him with a case of cooked-up aggression that he wouldn’t dare deny amid Washington’s feverishly pro-war climate.

A savvier politician might have seen through the maneuver and turned tables on the hawks. But Trump is not savvy. Rather, he’s a failed real-estate man with little idea of how the world – beyond his narrow focus – works. He may be nonpareil on the campaign trail, but in Washington he’s easy prey for a couple of experienced operators like McCain and Graham
(For this 2017 matter, cf. also https://www.librarything.com/topic/247464#5918294)

Edited: Feb 5, 2017, 9:20pm Top

>96 davidgn: It was in 2010. There's a timeline here. Duh.

Four years later the Russians invaded. That indicates to me that worrying about Russia invading the Crimea four years before wasn't unrealistic; maybe the timeline is a little fast, but the Russians did it not long after.

However, this view is based on the assumption that the conflict in Ukraine broke out simply because the Russian president woke up one morning and decided it was time to expand Russian military power again. It ignores what the West did up to 2014, such as expanding NATO towards Russia’s borders and providing support through both official sources and numerous NGOs to “pro-democracy” groups, some of which wanted regime change not only in Kiev but in Moscow. ...

This direct intervention by the West provoked a predictable reaction from Russia, which moved quickly to ensure that Crimea would not end up under the NATO umbrella and then provided support to ethnic Russian rebels in the east of Ukraine who battled Ukrainian troops spearheaded by the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion and other ultra-nationalist militias.

And that's what I said about American exceptionalism. You spin the invasion of a sovereign country by Russia into US's fault. When Ukraine might join NATO, Russia's invasion is a "predictable reaction from Russia" "provoked" "by the West". When Cuba falls into the arms of the Soviets, the US's responses, never amounting to a full-scale invasion, are outrageous.

Edited: Feb 5, 2017, 10:57pm Top

>97 prosfilaes: You spin the invasion of a sovereign country by Russia into US's fault.

Define "invasion." The Russians had every right to have their military in Crimea under existing treaty.

A meeting of progressives that I attended last year was keynoted by a professor from a local Washington university. Discussing what she called the Russian “invasion” of Crimea, the professor bragged about her 9-year-old son for creating a large poster in Sunday School saying, “Mr. Putin, What about the commandment ‘Thou Shall Not Kill?’” The audience nodded approvingly.

This picnic, thought I, needed a skunk. So I asked the professor what her little boy was alluding to. My question was met by a condescending smirk of disbelief: “Crimea, of course.” I asked how many people had been killed in Crimea. “Oh, hundreds, probably thousands,” was her answer. I told her that there were, in fact, no reports of anyone having been killed.

I continued, explaining that, with respect to Russia’s “invasion,” what you don’t see in the “mainstream media” is that, a treaty between Ukraine and Russia from the late 1990s allowed Russia to station up to 25,000 Russian troops on the Crimean peninsula. There were 16,000 there, when a U.S.-led coup ousted the democratically elected government in Kiev on Feb. 22, 2014. (I had grabbed the attention of the audience; yet stares of incredulity persisted.)
As for Russian intervention in the Donbass:
In contrast to Crimea’s bloodless political secession from Ukraine, the Ukrainian government’s “anti-terror operation” against ethnic Russians in the east who resisted the coup authorities in Kiev has killed an estimated 10,000 people, many of them civilians. Yet, in the mainstream U.S. media, this carnage is typically blamed on Putin, not on the Ukrainian military which sent to the front neo-Nazi and other right-wing militias (such as the Azov battalion) contemptuous of ethnic Russians. (See Consortiumnews.com’s “Ukraine Merges Nazis and Islamists").
And as for the larger picture (replacing the 03/18/2016 echo with the 06/28/2014 original @ https://consortiumnews.com/2014/06/28/who-violated-ukraines-sovereignty/ -- which is excellent and deserves to be read in full):
Did Russia’s annexation of Crimea on March violate the 1994 Budapest agreement among Ukraine, Russia, Great Britain and the U.S.? Specifically, in Paragraph One, Ukraine agreed to remove all nuclear weapons from its territory in return for a commitment by Russia, Britain and the U.S. “to respect the independence and sovereignty and existing borders of Ukraine?”

I’m no lawyer, but I can read the words. And, taken literally, the answer seems to be Yes despite a host of extenuating circumstances that can be adduced to explain why Crimea rejoined Russia, including the alarm among Crimean leaders over the unconstitutional ouster of Ukraine’s elected president and the Russian government’s fear about the possible berthing of NATO’s nuclear-missile warships at the naval base at Sebastopol.

But there’s also the item in Paragraph Three in which Russia, the UK, and the U.S. also commit “to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by the Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty.”

Might the EU’s take-it-or-leave-it proposal last fall offering Ukraine “associate” status in return for draconian economic austerity imposed on the Ukrainian people come under the rubric of the “economic coercion” prohibited at Budapest? An arguable Yes, it seems to me.

Some will try to dismiss President Viktor Yanukovych’s ill-fated rejection of these International Monetary Fund demands to make the hard lives of average Ukrainians even harder as “history,” now that the EU and Ukraine’s replacement President Petro Poroshenko signed on June 27 that “associate” status agreement the same agreement that Yanukovich rejected in favor of what appeared to be a better deal from Russia.

Was Yanukovich also under pressure from Moscow to maintain Ukraine’s historic, cultural and economic ties to Russia? Of course. Putin reportedly weighed in heavily with Yanukovich last October and early November when U.S. and EU diplomats were pressuring the Ukrainian president as well.

But did Yanukovich expect to be overthrown if he opted for Moscow’s offer? If he did not, he sorely underestimated what $5 billion in U.S. “democracy promotion” can buy. After Yanukovych’s decision, American neoconservatives the likes of National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman and Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland pulled out all the stops to enable Ukraine to fulfill what Nuland called its “European aspirations.”

The central problem confronting Ukraine, however, was not whether it leaned toward Europe or toward Russia. It was that after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, some ruthless businessmen used their insider connections to snap up (or “privatize”) the natural and industrial resources of the country. These handful of “oligarchs” then corrupted the political process, buying off politicians from both pro-EU and pro-Moscow perspectives.

Last fall, Yanukovych, who was elected from a political base in the more industrial Russian-ethnic east, was looking for how to bail Ukraine out of the financial and economic crisis that it was facing amid widespread unemployment and the hangover from the Great Recession.

In a layman’s way of understanding what happened in Ukraine, Yanukovych issued what in the consulting world is called a Request for Proposal (RFP), i.e., a feeler to see who could offer the most promising plan for helping Ukraine escape insolvency. After initially tilting toward the EU proposal (before he learned of its draconian IMF small print), he later shifted to the less onerous offer from Russia.

In the world of contractors and RFPs, there are orderly procedures for firms whose bids are turned down to contest the selection of the eventual winner. But I know of no case where one of the losing firms turned around and violently removed the leadership of the RFP-issuing institution, installed new leadership and got the contract.
>97 prosfilaes: When Cuba falls into the arms of the Soviets, the US's responses, never amounting to a full-scale invasion, are outrageous.
One major problem: Cuba is populated overwhelmingly by ethnic and cultural Cubans who speak Spanish and have their own history and culture, and in terms of self-determination would not voluntarily become part of the U.S. Crimea, on the other hand, is populated overwhelmingly by ethnic Russians who speak Russian and broadly share Russian culture, and in terms of self-determination have repeatedly voted in overwhelming numbers to be part of Russia.

Feb 5, 2017, 10:58pm Top

>98 davidgn: Define "invasion." The Russians had every right to have their military in Crimea under existing treaty.

And the US had every right to have their military in Cuba under existing treaty, so what you saying is that if we march them out of Guantanamo Bay, we're a-OK? And don't give me shit about how one treaty made when a state was given its freedom by an empire is different than another treaty made when a state was given freedom by an empire.

We've been over this ground before; a powerful state having its military in another state before the conflict started makes said powerful state smart, not morally right.

I told her that there were, in fact, no reports of anyone having been killed.

Numbers right now are running in the thousands. It's also disrupting Ukraine's society; it's impossible to act as an intact nation while you're fighting a civil war. But I'm guessing while the Saudis can neither buy nor make any type of weaponry, poor militias can just shit out advanced weaponry to hold back Ukraine's military.

Did Moscow violate the Budapest agreement when it annexed Crimea? A fair reading of the text yields a Yes to that question. Of course, there were extenuating circumstances,

Of course there were extenuating circumstances. That's exactly the problem; there always are. These, of course, are the classic set of extenuating circumstances, the justifications Hitler used for invading the Sudetenland and Poland.

One major problem:

So it's okay if we had just hacked off the parts of Cuba that were owned and inhabited by Americans?

Edited: Feb 6, 2017, 12:41am Top

>99 prosfilaes: so what you saying is that if we march them out of Guantanamo Bay, we're a-OK? It's always a tricky situation once existing law and treaties have broken down, but in running these sorts of thought experiments a great deal hinges on the will of the local population. U.S. forces marching out of Guantanamo would justifiably be regarded by the Cuban population as an invading army. Russian forces on the streets of Crimea were in fact regarded by most Crimeans as guarantors of their self-determination in view of a coup regime in Kiev which they viewed as illegitimate. I can't say I'm happy with the way things went down in Crimea, but I'm also not happy with the way things previously went down in Kiev.

Numbers right now are running in the thousands.
Yes, we've been over this ground before, and it appears you've learned nothing since last time because you still don't know the difference between Crimea and the Donbass and what happened in each of those regions. Try looking that up.

But I'm guessing while the Saudis can neither buy nor make any type of weaponry, poor militias can just shit out advanced weaponry to hold back Ukraine's military.
I never said the Russians didn't support the Donbass militias. They did. The extent to which they did so, however, was routinely overblown, creating the popular impression of a full-scale Russian invasion and occupation, which was not (and most likely is still not) in the cards. This was in response to the Kiev regime sending first regular troops (which mutinied and deserted en masse, refusing to fire on their fellow citizens), and then hard-right paramilitaries (who had no such qualms -- and including these guys) to the east in order to suppress broadly peaceful protests and occupations of government buildings, concomitant withattempts at referenda on autonomy from Kiev. Under attack by these paramilitaries, the easterners were compelled to take up arms in self-defense and call for Russian assistance. (And if you want to see how it all went down, week by week and day by day, in excruciating detail, watch >90 davidgn:.)

The rest isn't worth my time to respond to tonight. In a nutshell, try to meditate on the difference between aggression and reaction, and between popular sovereignty and foreign plantation (and organized criminal) elites.

Feb 6, 2017, 3:39pm Top

>100 davidgn: U.S. forces marching out of Guantanamo would justifiably be regarded by the Cuban population as an invading army.

And Russian forces marching into Crimea was justifiably regarded by the Ukrainian population as an invading army.

you still don't know the difference between Crimea and the Donbass

You remember Bush's "Mission Accomplished"? I'm sure you have a lot of respect for anyone who points out how relatively clean the deposing of Saddam Hussein was, as if that could be separated from what came after.

I never said the Russians didn't support the Donbass militias. They did. The extent to which they did so, however, was routinely overblown,

Blah, blah, blah. Again, the US supplies a sovereign nation with weaponry for cash, weaponry they could source elsewhere with some time and retooling. We're totally at fault. The Russians supply a militia with weaponry for free, weaponry they have not the money or access to source elsewhere. The Russians have no guilt.

a full-scale Russian invasion and occupation, which was not (and most likely is still not) in the cards.

Which is a bit sad, because that would be a more moral action than supporting the ongoing disruption of the Ukraine.

try to meditate on the difference between aggression and reaction,

Try to figure out why parents hate "he started it!". In the world of international politics, nobody engages in aggression; they're always reacting to someone else's aggression. Italy made it clear to Austria-Hungary that they would not join in an unprovoked attack against Serbia; so WWI started with a provoked attack against Serbia.* The Iran-Iraq War was not unprovoked aggression by Iraq; Iran had called for an Islamic revolution in Iraq and various border skirmishes had happened.

popular sovereignty and foreign plantation (and organized criminal) elites.

Again, I mention the Sudetenland. That some territory holds people ethnically allied with a neighboring nation has been an excuse for war since we've had anything that looked like a nation.

* The Balkan Wars: 1912-1913, http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/11676/pg11676.html , Introduction

Feb 6, 2017, 4:08pm Top

>100 davidgn: I would suggest he meditate on the cold war, because that's where he seems most lost since he dropped amateur transliteration, which he made a Sherlock Holmesian-cum-Don Quixotian assay at. But then it is always difficult for US Americans to do as Jesus suggests and consider what others would have done to them. For the notion of a sphere of influence to suddenly be unreasonable for the Russians to be concerned with, especially with nuclear weapons proliferating within range, especially if Poland gets its way...well, the US would go apeshit if Russian allies fucked with Canadian or Mexican politics...And of course the US, with missiles in Turkey DID go apeshit when the Russians tried to put them in Cuba...

That said, I would not like to live in Ukraine, but then I was raised to love the US and left despising it.

Edited: Feb 6, 2017, 8:52pm Top

>101 prosfilaes:
And Russian forces marching into Crimea was justifiably regarded by the Ukrainian population as an invading army.
By a lot of nationalists in other parts of Ukraine, sure. But not in Crimea -- especially not after the Korsun massacre. (But that name means nothing to you.) The Crimeans were the first to organize against Kiev; the Russians stepped in shortly thereafter, seeing a clear alignment of interests with the local population. (Granted, they probably would have stepped in anyway to save Sevastopol -- any Russian leader responsible for the loss of Sevastopol would be lucky to hold on to his life, never mind his position! -- but this is the history.)

Which is a bit sad, because that would be a more moral action than supporting the ongoing disruption of the Ukraine.
Except that it's the neo-cons more than anyone who are supporting the ongoing disruption of the Ukraine by encouraging Kiev to keep fighting rather than implement the Minsk II accords.

The Russians were instrumental in hammering these peace accords that the Ukrainian government still refuses to implement. I already explained that situation here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/239430#5793981

Again, I mention the Sudetenland....
1) The Russians annexed Crimea illegally, but by popular local acclaim, and without a shot being fired. 2) The Russians don't appear to have any expansionist designs on the Donbass, but have been propping up their affiliated side in a civil war between the Donbass and Kiev until such time as the Minsk II accords can be implemented. Unfortunately, the Kiev side is starting the war up again instead.

I speak in broad and general terms, but in those terms, that is the situation.

Edited: Feb 11, 2017, 5:56pm Top

Ukraine (h/t Rick):
Jonathan Freedland (First on the White House agenda: the collapse of the global order. Next, war?, 4 February) asserts that with his “swooning admirer” in the White House, Vladimir Putin “feels free to flex his muscles”, and has launched an offensive in eastern Ukraine. As so often in recent coverage of Russia, the opposite is the case. Moscow has desperately tried to keep the Donbass conflict frozen, and has restrained the various militias from responding.

In recent weeks, we have watched with increasing alarm as Ukrainian forces have pushed forward into the demilitarised demarcation line in a “bite and hold” strategy. This was admitted by the Ukrainian deputy defence minister, Igor Pavlovsky, when he stated that “step by step … our boys have been advancing”. The rebel forces in the Donbass have nothing to gain by a renewed offensive, but in the end were forced to respond.

It is worrying that the Guardian seems to have an enthusiasm for demonising Putin and discrediting the present Russian government. This only helps to undermine the “liberal international order”, which seems unable to uphold the values that it proclaims, and which now generates conflict, rather than seeking negotiated solutions.

Freedland is right in one thing, though: the stakes could not be higher and war is on the horizon. In these circumstances, balance and responsibility are essential.
Professor Richard Sakwa
School of politics and international relations, University of Kent

(overview, some defensible but hardly-nailed-down hypotheses):


Particularly on alleged supply of Iranian weapons via ship to Houthis, cf.:
Trump vs. Neocons:
(The first half of the blockquote before the jump is one of the best concise statements I've seen):

Trump’s Foreign Policy at a Crossroads
Exclusive: Recent U.S. foreign policy – driven by neocons and liberal hawks – has spread chaos and death around the globe. But can “crazy” Donald Trump bring sanity to how the U.S. approaches the world, asks Robert Parry.
....If you wanted to base U.S. foreign policy on the firm foundation of reality, you also could let the American people in on who is actually the principal sponsor of the terrorism that they’re concerned about: Al Qaeda, Islamic State, the Taliban – all Sunni-led outfits, none of which are backed by Shiite-ruled Iran. Yet, all we hear from Official Washington’s political and media insiders is that Iran is the chief sponsor of terrorism.

Of course, that is what Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Israel want you to believe because it serves their regional and sectarian interests, but it isn’t true. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are the ones arming and financing Al Qaeda and Islamic State with Israel occasionally bombing Al Qaeda’s military enemies inside Syria and providing medical support for Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate operating near the Golan Heights.

The reason for this unsavory network of alliances is that Israel, like Saudi Arabia and the Sunni-led Gulf states, sees Iran and the so-called “Shiite crescent” – from Tehran through Damascus to Beirut – as their principal problem. And because of the oil sheiks’ financial wealth and Israel’s political clout, they control how pretty much everyone in Official Washington’s establishment views the Middle East.

But the interests of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are not in line with the interests of the American people – nor the average European – who are not concerned about militant Shiites as much as militant Sunnis. After all, the worst terror attacks on Europe and the U.S. have come from Sunni extremists belonging to or inspired by Al Qaeda and Islamic State.

This gap between the reality of Sunni-extremist terrorism and the fantasy of Official Washington’s “group think” fingering Shiite-ruled Iran explains the cognitive dissonance over President Trump’s travel ban on people from seven mostly Muslim countries. Beyond the offensive anti-Muslim prejudice, there is the fact that he ignored the countries that produced the terrorists who have attacked the U.S., including the 9/11 hijackers.

This bizarre feature of Trump’s executive order shows how deep Official Washington’s dysfunction goes. Trump has picked a major constitutional battle over a travel ban that targets the wrong countries.

But there’s a reason for this dysfunction: No one in Official Washington can speak the truth about terrorism without suffering severe political damage or getting blacklisted by the mainstream media. Since the truth puts Israel and especially Saudi Arabia in an uncomfortable position, the truth cannot be spoken.

There was some hope that President Trump – for all his irascibility and unpredictability – might break from the absurd “Iran is the principal source of terrorism” mantra. But so far he has not.

Nor has Trump moved to throw open the files on the Syrian and Ukraine conflicts so Americans can assess how the Obama administration sought to manipulate them into supporting these “regime change” adventures.

But Trump has resisted intense pressure to again entrust U.S. foreign policy to the neoconservatives, a number of whom lost their jobs when President Obama left office, perhaps most significantly Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who helped orchestrate the violent overthrow of Ukraine’s elected president and is an architect of the New Cold War with Russia.

Other neocons who angled for jobs in the new administration, including John Bolton and James Woolsey, have failed to land them. Currently, there is pressure to ensconce Elliott Abrams, a top neocon dating back to the Reagan administration, in the key post of Deputy Secretary of State but that idea, too, has met resistance.

The neocon threat to Trump’s stated intent of restoring some geopolitical realism to U.S. foreign policy is that the neocons operate almost as an ideological cabal linked often in a subterranean fashion – or as I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s neocon chief of staff, once wrote in a cryptic letter to neocon journalist Judith Miller that aspen trees “turn in clusters, because their roots connect them.”

In other words, if one neocon is given a key job, other neocons can be expected to follow. Then, any Trump deviation from neocon orthodoxy would be undermined in the classic Washington tradition of strategic leaking to powerful media and congressional allies.

So far, the Trump inner circle has shown the administrative savvy to avoid bringing in ideologues who would dedicate their efforts to thwarting any significant change in U.S. geopolitical directions.

What is less clear is whether Trump, Tillerson and his fledgling State Department team have the intellectual heft to understand why U.S. foreign policy has drifted into the chaos and conflicts that now surround it – and whether they have the skill to navigate a route toward a safe harbor.

Trump vs. Neocons (cont'd.):

Partly answering Parry's question, "But can “crazy” Donald Trump bring sanity to how the U.S. approaches the world," I'd suggest it depends in part on how well the Trump administration contains Gen. Flynn. Here's a speculative piece with a provocative but defensible hypothesis (which may or may not be correct) with respect to the meaning of Flynn's recent rhetoric in light of Brookings' 2009 paper, Which Path to Persia?.

Deir Ez-zor:

Some good news.

There have been some massive new Da'esh offensives (notably including a serious attempt to take the airport), but on the whole the government is holding or gaining ground.

ETA: Latest regional map (via the Russians): https://southfront.org/military-situation-in-deir-ezzor-on-february-7-2017/
And latest country-wide map: https://southfront.org/military-situation-in-syria-on-february-10-2017-map-update/
Deir Ez-zor: the sore thumb. The very stubborn sore thumb.

Meanwhile, the CFR opes its ponderous and marble jaws regarding the region:
Very much worth reading, and as interesting for what it doesn't say as for what it does. Also makes some odd claims about the U.S. vis-a-vis Deir-Ezzor's oil fields that seem to 1) conflict with CENTCOM airstrike reports, and 2) echo justifications given around 2015 as to why the U.S. airstrikes were not seriously disrupting Da'esh's oil exports.

In particular:
Deir ez-Zor also holds the richest oil supply in all of Syria, which could help ISIS recover financially after losing nearly 30 percent in oil revenues and taxes from lost territory as a result of the U.S.-led offensive. And although the U.S.-led coalition had previously tried to stop oil production and trade in Deir ez-Zor, it limited its strikes to oil trucks since destroying oil fields in the region would have caused uncontrollable fires and catastrophic ecological destruction.
Now, I've seen a bunch of reports of strikes on wellheads. I'm not sure how well this tallies. Clearly a piece of the picture is missing here.
In the opposite direction: with respect to trucks, we used to have excuses for not hitting them as well before we began to do so in November '15. See >8 davidgn:, and:
http://www.moonofalabama.org/2015/11/guess-why-the-us-isnt-seriously-bombing-the... (And in support of Amb. Bhadrakumar, see last portion of >22 davidgn:).

And since this is the Blame Thread, please note who was making political hay from this. And read some of the comments.


Edited: Feb 11, 2017, 9:28pm Top

Today, a couple of attempts to grapple with the topsy-turvy.

Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, The Enemies of Our Enemy Are Not Our Friends.
Through the Looking Glass
How Can We Recognize Our Friends in the Mixed-Up World of Donald Trump?
By Rebecca Gordon

You know you’re living in a looking-glass world when former Vice President Dick Cheney speaks out against one of Donald Trump’s executive orders. He’s a good example of how past adversaries of movements for peace and justice are lining up against our current adversary, the new president....

Deciphering Trump’s Opaque Foreign Policy
President Trump has set loose several competing – and contradictory – strands of foreign policy with the big question now whether he can avoid tripping himself up, writes ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke.
It is now a commonplace to note that President Trump is advocating a mercantilist “America First” foreign policy, at odds with the prevailing globalist view of a cosmopolitan, super-culture; that he is intent on dismantling this globalist zeitgeist that he believes imposes moral and cultural norms which have weakened America’s mercantile “animal spirits” and whose embrace of the politics of diversity has sapped the strength from America’s moral and cultural sinews.

In practice, the policy that emerges will not be so black and white, or so easily categorized. “Team Trump,” in fact, embraces three distinct approaches: the “benevolent American hegemon” traditionalists, the Christian warriors pitted against an Islamic “hostile” ethos – and, of course, Trump’s own “America First” mercantilism. Each of these trends distrusts the other, yet must ally with one or the other in order to balance the third or at least avoid having it act as spoiler.

This inter-connectivity makes it especially hard to read the runes – the Trump administration’s marks of mysterious significance – of likely U.S. policy given the jostling and elbowing ahead between three distinct world views. And it is made even harder given President Trump’s and strategic adviser Steve Bannon’s deliberate embrace of a politics of feint and distraction, to throw opponents off-balance.
(Crooke's Conclusion:) Well, maybe its best just to sit and observe, and stop trying to read the runes?

Edited: Feb 14, 2017, 6:58pm Top

I'll embed the map this time, because the picture really is worth 1,000 words.

What stands out to you?

cf. >39 davidgn: (written by some Qatari-funded shills):
....The Jazira battlefield is complex, but not incomprehensible. Again, the core American objective is to crush ISIS, then to protect the local forces who carried out this campaign with U.S. backing, giving them enough security to allow them to rebuild their lives in their part of the Jazira.
The Assad regime has vowed to reconquer “all of Syria,” but once it feels secure in its own enclave, it is unlikely to expend the resources needed to do that, and its Russian and Iranian allies will have no particular interest in pursuing such a campaign.
Keeping contingents of U.S. forces in the region, meanwhile, will provide a credible deterrent helping to defend trusted and capable anti-ISIS fighters and deterring the Assad regime from any effort at reconquest.
Capitulating in the face of an Assad offensive to retake territories that he did nothing to help liberate from ISIS would, we believe, catalyze more terrorism and squander the hard-won gains of the last two and half years.
The U.S.-led coalition, already has carved out parts of Syria—roughly 40 to 50 percent of the country’s geography, by our calculation—where the Assad regime and its Iranian- or Russian-built proxies cannot easily maneuver.
In the ISIS “briar patch”—roughly 40 to 50 percent of Syria’s geography, by our calculation—the Assad regime still holds strategic districts in the city of Deir Ezzor and a key airport.
The U.S. and its Western allies have the ability, by dint of their current presence, to dictate how much of this province, along with all of Raqqa, should be governed once the ISIS “caliph,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and his henchmen are dispatched or dispersed.
and cf. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alastair-crooke/syria-iraq-fractured_b_7471540.htm... , from June, 2015.
In short, the DIA assessment indicates that the “wedge” concept was being given new life by the desire to pressure Assad in the wake of the 2011 insurgency launched against the Syrian state. “Supporting powers” effectively wanted to inject hydraulic fracturing fluid into eastern Syria (radical Salafists) in order to fracture the bridge between Iran and its Arab allies, even at the cost of this “fracking” opening fissures right down inside Iraq to Ramadi. (Intelligence assessments purpose is to provide “a view” — not to describe or prescribe policy. But it is clear that the DIA reports’ “warnings” were widely circulated and would have been meshed into the policy consideration.)

But this “view” has exactly come about. It is fact. One might conclude then that in the policy debate, the notion of isolating Hezbollah from Iran, and of weakening and pressurizing President Assad, simply trumped the common sense judgement that when you pump highly toxic and dangerous fracturing substances into geological formations, you can never entirely know or control the consequences. And once you go down this road, it is not easy to “walk it back,” as it were: the toxicity is already suffused through the rocks. So, when the GCC demanded a “price” for any Iran deal (i.e. massing “fracking” forces close to Aleppo), the pass had been already partially been sold by the U.S. by 2012, when it did not object to what the “supporting powers” wanted.
Finally, cf. >8 davidgn:

Putting it all together, one might almost be forgiven for arriving at the opinion that anyone rooting for Deir Ezzor to hold out against ISIS must be a goddamn Assadist, an Iranian fifth-columnist, and a Hezbollah auxiliary. Deir Ezzor, quite simply, fucks up the map.

Or, to put it in Augustinian terms: "Lord, grant us that ISIS might be totally destroyed, and at our hands... but not yet."

Feb 15, 2017, 7:13am Top

>107 davidgn:

That's one confusing map to decipher from the key. There are areas of Syria that are burgundy or scarlet or orange, while the key gives red, orange and yellow. Is one supposed to equate burgundy/red, scarlet/orange, and orange/yellow? I'm not clear at all. However, it is quite easy to see the ISIS territory, and observe that Deir-Ezzor aside, there appears to be few areas of population in that large brown sprawl, as opposed to the more coastal areas held by the government and its "allies".

I had not realised there were so many identifiable groupings in Syria, nor that the Turkish areas were so far from the border with Turkey. One question occurs though - how is the YPG allied with both the government AND the SDF?

Feb 15, 2017, 2:54pm Top

>103 davidgn: http://www.burneylawfirm.com/international_law_primer.htm is an article I read recently. Things you accuse the West of doing are propaganda, and A-OK in international law. Things you accept that Russia did are supporting the opposition of the government in a civil war (a violation of international law) and annexing part of Ukrainian territory (a massive violation of international law).

1) The Russians annexed Crimea illegally, but by popular local acclaim, and without a shot being fired.

Yep. Again, I mention the Sudetenland. "On 4 December 1938, there were elections in Reichsgau Sudetenland, in which 97.32% of the adult population voted for the National Socialist Party. " Nazi Germany had help from England and France in putting pressure on Czechoslovakia, but it was without a shot being fired.

The Russians don't appear to have any expansionist designs on the Donbass,

The last time the US annexed anything was at the end of the Spanish-American war in 1898, or arguably the taking of the Panama Canal in 1903. Which is why I find this statement as if it makes it all okay weird.

have been propping up their affiliated side in a civil war between the Donbass and Kiev until such time as the Minsk II accords can be implemented.

And the Vietnam War had the US and China and the Soviets propping up their affiliated sides in a civil war between Saigon and Hanoi until such time as peaceful unification could happen. These things tend to be less bloody when nobody is "propping up their affiliated side".

Edited: Feb 16, 2017, 3:17am Top

>108 Tid: Good observations. I chose the map for convenience and for being up to date. It served my purpose in the moment.

The breakdown of groups is complicated, and worth discussing at length, but I don't have time just now. To answer your questions in a nutshell: this Russian map (an update of the one linked in >105 davidgn: .IV -- meant to include the link but didn't -- ETA: Here's the February 15th update in full size: https://southfront.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/15feb_syria_war_map.jpg ) seems to employ shading as some sort of rough estimate of the strength of control of territory (actually, eyeballing it a bit closer, the shading seems to derive from the underlying satellite or topographical map upon which the keyed colors are semi-transparently overlaid). As for the "Turkish" areas, the specifically Turkish-backed militias are lumped in with all the other non-ISIS rebels. (ETA: Here's one, last updated February 9th, that does split out the main contingent of Turks/Turkmen, who are still in a race with the SAA et al. to take Al Bab: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2015/05/syria-country-divided-15052...)The YPG/J are a special case in a number of respects, including that they have at various times and places played nicely with the SAA, and at other times and places attacked them, for complicated reasons. There is no area designated yellow on the map right now. (Whoops...there is one tiny crescent at the farthest eastern extreme of the Afrin canton). I'll look into other, older maps from the same source, but I would peg the decision to make that distinction on the key as a political one from the Russian perspective. (Or rather, it may simply be a straightforward attempt to represent stable mixed control, or contested control... I'm not sure which of those two would apply to that sliver east of Afrin at the moment. The SAA and YPG/J have been at daggers drawn -- with U.S. involvement -- in al-Hasakah governorate, but I'm not up-to-date on the situation in Afrin & Azaz districts. I know the YPG/J and SAA were fighting together in various parts of Aleppo Province as of a year ago, I know that they also fought together in Aleppo (where the Kurds controlled the large Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood, which remains a source of tension), and I know that the Turks were bombing the Afrin canton as of few months ago, but none of those facts is particularly relevant to the question at hand. I'll get back to you.)

ETA: Here's a more detailed map of Aleppo Province. https://southfront.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/15feb_09_35_northern-aleppo_Syria_War_Map.jpg
And yes, as far as I can tell, the yellow area is territory recently captured in the course of the race to Al-Bab, held more-or-less jointly by the SAA and YPG at the moment, with its ultimate disposition still to be determined. Compare this map from November: https://southfront.org/syrian-army-and-kurdish-ypg-launch-joint-operation-east-of-aleppo-city/
(I'd cite maps from some other source, but the Russians simply have more of them -- and better. If you can find corresponding maps from other sources, be my guest!)

(And incidentally, if you look again at that Aleppo Province map, you'll see how close the orange areas of Kurdish control are to linking up. The Turks are dead-set against the merest hint of this, and they're set to start attacking the Kurds. And so we have this (partly mendacious) complaint from the neocons: http://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/warning-update-turkish-aggression-again... )

Here are two more maps:

From the ISW (basically, the neocons):
They purport to split out al-Nusra/JFS (shown in practice as "mixed control"). They also give out that the government has no effective control in the area of al-Hasakah city -- a rather tendentious position, and also rather revealing.

And apparently Wikipedia has a couple maps as well.

ETA: I've previously known of its existence, but now that I've taken a few minutes to introduce myself to its interface and features, it looks like this might actually be the most useful map of all (keeping in mind that it's run by a couple of west-Ukrainians): http://syria.liveuamap.com/
Not really shareable, though, short of screenshotting, so you'll probably see more Southfront links from me.

Again, worth an extended discussion, but not just now for me.

Edited: Feb 15, 2017, 5:18pm Top

>109 prosfilaes: Only an absolute idiot would publicly state that there was a civil war between Saigon and Hanoi. Now I know why people use pseudonyms.

And as if that post weren't stupid enough, it falsely and really really ignorantly dates the latest US annexation pre-WWII AND pre-WWI. Look up the Marshall Islands and nuclear tests for some grotesque reading.

And if that isn't enough, try creative annexation: The Chagos Islanders, Diego Garcia...

Of course, that's just the outrageously dumbass shit. Worse is the Stephen Milleresque bland eye: the US went from annexation to regime change and did it with extraordinary frequency. Why annex what you can control through the puppets you fashion after killing the live leaders?

The TOS should have an ignorance quotient to prevent unsuspecting earnest, honest people from having to read such shit as post 109.

Edited: Feb 19, 2017, 12:40pm Top

Daniel Lazare has done it again. This should be required reading.

Democrats, Liberals Catch McCarthyistic Fever
Exclusive: Democrats and liberals are so angry about President Trump that they are turning to McCarthyistic tactics without regard to basic fairness or the need to avoid a costly and dangerous New Cold War, notes Daniel Lazare.
America is a strange place and the blow-up over Mike Flynn’s conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak is making it even stranger. Liberals are sounding like conservatives, and conservatives like liberals.

Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican who serves on the House Judiciary Committee, made perfect sense when he remarked on CNN concerning the intelligence leaks that are now turning into a flood: “We’ve got to have some facts to work with here. And what troubles me is that … there are people within the intelligence community that disagree with President Trump (and) that don’t want to see his administration succeed. … General Flynn has been subject to a political assassination here regardless of what he did or didn’t say to President Trump or Vice President Pence.”

Quite right. Breitbart News’ Joel B. Pollak sounded similarly sensible in asking “whether our nation’s intelligence services were involved in what amounts to political espionage against the newly-elected government.” So did right-wing talk-show host Michael Savage in describing “the demonization of Putin, Russia, and Flynn” on the part of “neocons, the intel community, and Democrats who want constant antagonism with Russia.”

Considering the craziness we usually get from such sources, it was all disconcertingly … sane. On the liberal side, however, the hysteria has been non-stop. In full prosecutorial mode, The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza demanded to know:

“Did Trump instruct Flynn to discuss a potential easing of sanctions with Russia? Did Flynn update Trump on his calls with the Russian Ambassador? Did Trump know that Flynn lied to Pence about those contacts? What did the White House counsel do with the information that he received from Acting Attorney General Sally Yates about Flynn being vulnerable to blackmail?”

At The Nation, Joan Walsh was thrilled to hear the media asking “the old Watergate question about what the president knew and when.”

“We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again,” declared Bill Moyers and Michael Winship at Alternet: “there MUST be an investigation by an independent, bipartisan commission of Russia’s ties to Donald Trump and his associates and that nation’s interference in our elections.”

At The Intercept, the perennially self-righteous Glenn Greenwald said intelligence agents are “wholly justified” in leaking inside information because “(a)ny leak that results in the exposure of high-level wrongdoing – as this one did – should be praised, not scorned and punished.”

Over the Top

Finally, there was The New York Times, which, in Thursday’s lead editorial, compared the Flynn contretemps to Watergate and Iran-Contra, expressed “shock and incredulity that members of Mr. Trump’s campaign and inner circle were in repeated contact with Russian intelligence officials,” and called for a congressional investigation into whether the White House has been taken over by Moscow:

“Coming on top of credible information from America’s intelligence agencies that Russia tried to destabilize and influence the 2016 presidential campaign, these latest revelations are more than sufficient reason for Congress to investigate what Moscow has been up to and whether people at the highest levels of the United States government have aided and abetted the interests of a nation that has tried to thwart American foreign policy since the Cold War.”

High-level wrongdoing! Colluding with the enemy! Shock and incredulity! It’s enough to make a concerned citizen reach for the nearest bottle of 151-proof rum. But it’s all nonsense. Liberals are working themselves into a crisis mode on the basis of zero evidence.
This is not to make Flynn into a martyr of some sort. To the contrary, the man is every bit as nutty as critics say. The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies, the book he co-wrote last year with neocon “intellectual” Michael Ledeen, is a paranoid fantasy about Muslim extremists ganging up with North Korea, Russia, China, Cuba and Venezuela to bring down the United States and Israel.

Flynn’s appearance at a Feb. 7 White House press briefing in which he announced that “we are officially putting Iran on notice” over a missile test – and then stalked off without taking a single question – was so bizarre as to be positively Strangelovian.

But whether Flynn is a criminal is another matter.
So, what’s going on? The simple answer is that Democrats are seizing on Russia because it’s an easy target in a capital city where war fever is already rising precipitously. Little thought seems to have been given to where this hysteria might lead. What if Dems get their way by forcing the administration to adopt a tougher policy on Russia? What if something horrendous occurs as a consequence such as a real live shooting exchange between U.S. and Russian troops? Will that make Democrats happy? Is that really what they want?

The truth is that America is in disarray not only politically but ideologically. Once Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race last summer, voters were faced with a choice between two right-of-center candidates, one (Hillary Clinton) seemingly bent on a pro-war policy regardless of the consequences and another (Donald Trump) who uttered isolationist inanities but nonetheless seemed to sense that a course change was in order with regard to Russia, Syria, and perhaps one or two other hot spots.

Since the election, both parties have responded by going even farther to the right, Trump by surrounding himself with billionaires and ultra-right fanatics and the Democrats by trying to out-hawk the GOP.

Sanity is in such short supply that the voices of reason now belong to Republicans like Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who told the Washington Post, “The big problem I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded,” or House Speaker Paul Ryan who says that reaching out to the Russian ambassador was “entirely appropriate.”

Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, seems oddly rational in indicating that he will block legislation seeking to prevent Trump from rolling back anti-Russian sanctions.

All in all, it’s the worst Democratic performance since the Washington Post complained in 1901 that Teddy Roosevelt had “fanned the flames of negro aspiration” by inviting Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House. What’s the point of an opposition when it’s even more irresponsible than the party in power?

As Phil Ochs sang about unprincipled liberals back in the 1960s:

Once I was young and impulsive
I wore every conceivable pin
Even went to the socialist meetings
Learned all the old union hymns
But I’ve grown older and wiser
And that’s why I’m turning you in
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal.

also cf.:
The Did-You-Talk-to-Russians Witch Hunt
Exclusive: Democrats, liberals and media pundits – in their rush to take down President Trump – are pushing a New McCarthyism aimed at Americans who have talked to Russians, risking a new witch hunt, reports Robert Parry.
In the anti-Russian frenzy sweeping American politics and media, Democrats, liberals and mainstream pundits are calling for an investigative body that could become a new kind of House Un-American Activities Committee to hunt down Americans who have communicated with Russians.

The proposed commission would have broad subpoena powers to investigate alleged connections between Trump’s supporters and the Russian government with the apparent goal of asking if they now have or have ever talked to a Russian who might have some tie to the Kremlin or its intelligence agencies.

Such an admission apparently would be prima facie evidence of disloyalty, a guilt-by-association “crime” on par with Sen. Joe McCarthy’s Cold War pursuit of “communists” who supposedly had infiltrated the U.S. government, the film industry and other American institutions.

Operating parallel to McCarthy’s Red Scare hearings was the House Un-American Activities Committee (or HUAC), a standing congressional panel from 1945-1975 when it was best known for investigating alleged communist subversion and propaganda. One of its top achievements was the blacklisting of the “Hollywood Ten” whose careers in the movie industry were damaged or destroyed.

Although the Cold War has long been over – and Russia has often cooperated with the U.S. government, especially on national security issues such as supplying U.S. troops in Afghanistan – Democrats and liberals seem ready to force Americans to again prove their loyalty if they engaged in conversations with Russians.

Or perhaps these “witnesses” can be entrapped into perjury charges if their recollections of conversations with Russians don’t match up with transcripts of their intercepted communications, a tactic similar to ones used by Sen. McCarthy and HUAC to trip up and imprison targets over such secondary charges.

Ousted National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has already encountered such a predicament because he couldn’t recall all the details of a phone conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on Dec. 29, 2016, after Flynn took the call while vacationing in the Dominican Republic.

When Obama administration holdovers at the Justice Department decided to gin up a legal premise to go after Flynn, they cited the Logan Act, a law enacted in 1799 to prohibit private citizens from negotiating with foreign adversaries but never used to convict anyone. The law also is of dubious constitutionality and was surely never intended to apply to a president-elect’s advisers.

However, based on that flimsy pretext, FBI agents – with a transcript of the electronic intercept of the Kislyak-Flynn phone call in hand – tested Flynn’s memory of the conversation and found his recollections incomplete. Gotcha – lying to the FBI!

Under mounting media and political pressure, President Trump fired Flynn, apparently hoping that tossing Flynn overboard to the circling sharks would somehow calm the sharks down. Instead, blood in the water added to the frenzy.

‘Deep State’ Has Trump on the Menu
Whether President Trump knows it or not, he is in a battle with a powerful ‘Deep State’ that wants to suck him into its neocon foreign policy orthodoxy or destroy him politically, as ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke explains.

(in which Crooke's preternatural calm and laser-like focus on Trump as a potential agent for transforming US foreign policy really starts to get on my nerves, but which I still share for its valuable analysis).
I'll quote only Crooke's concluding sentence:
This portends a vicious internal war within the U.S. – for even were the Deep State “color revolution” to succeed, it would not represent the end of the war, but perhaps the loss of a major battle within the wider war.
At this rate, we're in for the worst of all worlds. Almost everyone has gone mad.

Meanwhile, more blame in more contexts. (And yes, the hysteria really has gotten this bad...):

In Which Reporting About "Fake News" Turns Out To Be Such
(regarding https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/16/world/europe/russia-ukraine-fake-news-dutch-vote.html )
....Some Ukrainian expats lobbied in the Netherlands against a vote for a EU-Ukrainian association agreement. Some Dutch people of Russian heritage also lobbied that way. The Dutch eventually rejected the agreement with 61.1% of votes against it and 38.1% in favor.

That vote took place in April 2016. I am not aware of any reason why that poll would now deserve a piece. Its purpose is certainly not to report current news or the vote itself. It does no explain what the vote was really about nor does it mention the numeric results.

A few expats in the Netherlands took part in public discussions and argued for the side of the vote that eventually won. They did so without hiding their identity, fairly and completely within the bounds of all laws. There is no sign at all that they had any influence on the vote.

But that is not good enough for the NYT. "Putin did it" is a standing order. Indeed the lobbying Ukrainians must have been "fake Ukrainians" and secretly Russians because somehow no Ukrainian would ever argue against the violent Maidan putsch and its consequences

One tentative bright spot: it seems the BND is no longer playing ball in the "Can't sleep, Russians will eat me" games:

German Intel Clears Russia on Interference
Exclusive: Mainstream U.S. media only wants stories of Russian perfidy, so when German intelligence cleared Moscow of suspected subversion of German democracy, the silence was deafening, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
After a multi-month, politically charged investigation, German intelligence agencies could find no good evidence of Moscow-directed cyber-attacks or a disinformation campaign aimed at subverting the democratic process in Germany. Undaunted, Chancellor Angela Merkel has commissioned a new investigation.

Last year, Berlin’s two main intelligence agencies, the BND and BfV (counterparts of the CIA and FBI) launched a joint investigation to substantiate allegations that Russia was meddling in German political affairs and attempting to shape the outcome of Germany’s elections next September.

Like the vast majority of Americans malnourished on “mainstream media,” most Germans have been led to believe that, by hacking and “propaganda,” the Kremlin interfered in the recent U.S. election and helped Donald Trump become president.

German intelligence agencies rarely bite the hand that feeds them and realize that the most bountiful part of the trough is at the CIA station in Berlin with ultimate guidance coming from CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. But this time, in an unusual departure from past practice, analysts at the BND and BfV decided to act like responsible adults.

Whereas former CIA Director John Brennan prevailed on his analysts to resort to anemic, evidence-light reasoning “assessing” that Russia tried to tip the U.S. election to Donald Trump, Berlin’s intelligence agencies found the evidence lacking and have now completed their investigation.

Better still, the conclusions have been reported in a mainstream German newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, apparently because a patriotic insider thought the German people should also know.

Feb 19, 2017, 9:39pm Top

>112 davidgn:
The precedent for this kind of chicanery was established over the past eight years. Anything the Obama administration tried to enact was immediately met with knee-jerk, hyperbolic resistance. If Obama wanted to pass a law requiring passenger cars to have transparent windows Republicans would have fell over themselves sceaming "Too much Big Government!"; "Socialist plot!", "the terrorists have won! " etc. What happened? The GOP now has control of the Presidency, the House, the Senate, and the judiciary. I guess you go with what works. Probably why NFL teams aren't running the Wishbone much these days.

Edited: Feb 23, 2017, 1:55am Top

>113 mikevail: The precedent for this kind of chicanery was established over the past eight years.

Yes and no. That sort of thing was typical partisan twaddle. This is more bipartisan (neocons and liberal hawks, who have now merged to become almost indistinguishable), and it's geared towards the strategic interests of those who stand to benefit from ginning up a credible threat (i.e. a New Cold War), as well as though who have locked themselves into an endless series of double-or-nothing bets on maintaining American full-spectrum dominance (rather than recognizing limits to American power and attempting to smooth a transition into a more cooperative multipolar world). In other words, we're very far into that instantly recognizable phase of late empire where official policy is uniformly bonkers, which further accelerates decline, which begets more panic and bonkers policy, etc., etc.


Flynn replaced with a suitably anti-Russian hawk. http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/02/the-war-hawks-rolled-donald-trump.html
The neocon/liberal hawk crowd are now turning their sights on Bannon. As "b" notes, the astroturf is already being seeded:


#StopPresidentBannon is now #ImpeachPresidentBannon. And just as before, I'm more than happy to make common cause with the war machine on this particular question.

Pass the wheat paste.

Edited: Feb 23, 2017, 10:38pm Top

Pass the wheat paste, but please don't harbor any illusions.

Are We Witnessing a Coup Operation Against the Trump White House?
Our intelligence apparatus is doing far more than stoking paranoia about the Russian bogeyman—it’s threatening democracy.
By Patrick Lawrence

(quoting Glenn Greenwald's tweet --davidgn): “To summarize journalistic orthodoxy: only fringe conspiracists think a Deep State exists, but all sane people know Kremlin controls US Govt.”
I have seen a few naked emperors in my day, but this one is positively obese (and wears a Speedo at the beach). This is a perception-management campaign quite similar to those mounted decades ago in Iran, Guatemala, and elsewhere. The media are thoroughly complicit, and the objective is perfectly plain but nowhere mentioned. We have an intelligence apparatus that has accreted autonomous power such that no president dares try to control it: This much lies beyond debate. Now we watch as it counters a president who proposes to scrub the single most important passage in the narrative of fear and animosity on which this apparatus depends.

You have two potential casualties here, readers. It is very dangerous to suffer either.
A few reporters and commentators advise us that the name of the game these days is to sink the single most constructive policy the Trump administration has announced. The rest is subterfuge, rubbish. This is prima facie the case, though you can read it nowhere in the Times or any of the other corporate media. A few have asserted that we may now be witnessing a coup operation against the Trump White House. This is a possibility, in my view. We cannot flick it off the table. With the utmost purpose, I post here one of these pieces. “A Win for the Deep State” came out just after Flynn was forced from office. It is by a writer named Justin Raimondo and appeared in a wholly out-of-bounds web publication called Antiwar.com. I know nothing about either, but it is a thought-provoking piece.

My point here is simple. You have studied the Enlightenment? Good: You know what I mean when I say we are headed into the Endarkenment. The lights upon us are dimming. We have been more or less abandoned by a press that proves incapable of informing us in anything approaching a disinterested fashion. As suggested, either the media are Clintonian liberals before they are newspapers and broadcasters, or they are servants of power before they serve us.

This is the media’s disgrace, but our problem. It imposes a couple of new burdens. We, readers and viewers, must discriminate among all that is put before us so as to make the best judgments we can and, not least, protect our minds. The other side of the coin, what we customarily call “alternative media,” assumes an important responsibility. They must get done, as best they can, what better-endowed media now shirk. To put this simply and briefly, they and we must learn that they are not “alternative” to anything. In the end there is no such thing as “alternative media,” as I often argue. There are only media, and most of ours have turned irretrievably bad.

And now they are doing much to land us in very grave trouble.

Mar 12, 2017, 2:26pm Top

The Bernie Sanders Campaign Faced A Fake News Tsunami. Where Did It Come From?
The trolls set out to distract and divide the invigorated left.

...The stories they posted weren’t the normal complaints he was used to seeing as the Vermont senator and the former secretary of state fought out the Democratic presidential primary. These stories alleged that Clinton had murdered her political opponents and used body doubles...

(June-October 2017)...Mattes, 66, had been a television reporter and Senate investigator in previous lives...said he’d traced 40 percent of the domain registrations for the fake news sites he saw popping up on pro-Sanders pages back to Eastern Europe. Others appeared to be based in Panama and the U.S., or were untraceable. He wondered, “Am I the only person that sees all this crap floating through these Bernie pages?”...


(Posted this in trump lose badly thr4ead, but perhaps it better belongs here>)

Mar 14, 2017, 6:10am Top

Interesting story on the radio this morning on media during the campaign. Breitbart ruled, and even the mainstream media took talking points from it:

Researchers Examine Breitbart's Influence On Election Information
Audio will be available later today.

March 14, 20175:04 AM ET
Heard on Morning Edition

A study of 1.25 million media stories says a Breitbart-centered media ecosystem fostered the sharing of stories that were, at their core, misleading. Steve Inskeep talks to researcher Yochai Benkler.


Edited: Mar 22, 2017, 11:42am Top

Here's a very important piece out via the CFR.

A Breach in the Anti-Putin Groupthink
The mainstream U.S. media has virtually banned any commentary that doesn’t treat Russian President Putin as the devil, but a surprising breach in the groupthink has occurred in Foreign Affairs magazine, reports Gilbert Doctorow.

In effect, English’s article trashes the positions of all Foreign Affairs’ featured contributors for the past several years. But it must be stressed that there are no new discoveries of fact or new insights that make English’s essay particularly valuable. What he has done is to bring together the chief points of the counter-current and set them out with extraordinary writing skills, efficiency and persuasiveness of argumentation. Even more important, he has been uncompromising.

The facts laid out by English could have been set out by one of several experienced and informed professors or practitioners of international relations. But English had the courage to follow the facts where they lead and the skill to convince the Foreign Affairs editors to take the chance on allowing readers to see some unpopular truths even though the editors now will probably come under attack themselves as “Kremlin stooges.”

The overriding thesis is summed up at the start of the essay: “For 25 years, Republicans and Democrats have acted in ways that look much the same to Moscow. Washington has pursued policies that have ignored Russian interests (and sometimes international law as well) in order to encircle Moscow with military alliances and trade blocs conducive to U.S. interests. It is no wonder that Russia pushes back. The wonder is that the U.S. policy elite doesn’t get this, even as foreign-affairs neophyte Trump apparently does.”

English’s article goes back to the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s and explains why and how U.S. policy toward Russia was wrong and wrong again. He debunks the notion that Boris Yeltsin brought in a democratic age, which Vladimir Putin undid after coming to power.

English explains how the U.S. meddled in Russian domestic politics in the mid-1990s to falsify election results and ensure Yeltsin’s continuation in office despite his unpopularity for bringing on an economic Depression that average Russians remember bitterly to this day. That was a time when the vast majority of Russians equated democracy with “shitocracy.”

English describes how the Russian economic and political collapse in the 1990s was exploited by the Clinton administration. He tells why currently fashionable U.S. critics of Putin are dead wrong when they fail to acknowledge Putin’s achievements in restructuring the economy, tax collection, governance, improvements in public health and more which account for his spectacular popularity ratings today.

English details all the errors and stupidities of the Obama administration in its handling of Russia and Putin, faulting President Obama and Secretary of State (and later presidential candidate) Hillary Clinton for all of their provocative and insensitive words and deeds. What we see in U.S. policy, as described by English, is the application of double standards, a prosecutorial stance towards Russia, and outrageous lies about the country and its leadership foisted on the American public.

Then English takes on directly all of the paranoia over Russia’s alleged challenge to Western democratic processes. He calls attention instead to how U.S. foreign policy and the European Union’s own policies in the new Member States and candidate Member States have created all the conditions for a populist revolt by buying off local elites and subjecting the broad populace in these countries to pauperization.

English concludes his essay with a call to give détente with Putin and Russia a chance.

Russia, Trump, and a New Détente: Fixing U.S.-Russian Relations

As I've said before, but not perhaps in so many words: given the Versailles-level humiliation we inflicted on Russia in the '90s, we (and Russians) should count ourselves damn lucky that the likes of a Putin was the worst we spawned in return.

Mar 22, 2017, 12:35pm Top

>118 davidgn: That all seems broadly in line with Julian Assange's reasoned take on this whole issue.

Mar 22, 2017, 2:30pm Top

I thought LT blocked Assange

Mar 22, 2017, 4:33pm Top

>120 RickHarsch:

? I didn't see it in LT! It was an interview with him, I saw on You Tube.

Mar 22, 2017, 6:06pm Top

I meant completely, as in no mention of the name...

Mar 22, 2017, 6:48pm Top

>122 RickHarsch:

Eh? Explain...

Mar 22, 2017, 7:44pm Top

Sorry, Tid, I was joking...

Mar 23, 2017, 12:23pm Top

The United States has a long history of meddling in the internal affairs of other nations and that includes manipulating election results. Whether or even however Russia may have hacked into our election it's not like we haven't been trying our damnedest to undermine their government at every turn and yet it would seem to most Americans that's entirely okay but there's a point to which whatever you do to others comes right back at you. At the end of the day at least as far as the POTUS race went Hillary still ended up with almost 3 million more voters than Donald Trump. To me that's a more interesting story than the Russian line--yet hardly anyone else it would seem thinks it as interesting as I do. For those who think the election was stolen the first place I'd look would be the electoral college.

Mar 23, 2017, 12:29pm Top

>125 lriley: I don't think the election was stolen, I think the country was, several hundred years ago. What was built upon that initial savagery has always had a certain inhumane and maniacal logic that, as all things post-industrial, is accelerating so that unlike pacific, only part insane Italy, say, we are getting our monsters in rapid succession rapidly deteriorating.

(Think D'Annunzio-Mussolini-Berlusconi v. Reagan-BushBaby-Trump)

Apr 3, 2017, 7:09am Top

Watching the hearings, I learned my “Bernie bro” harassers may have been Russian bots
Leah McElrath | April 2, 2017

...it was revealed during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that Russian bots (computer algorithm controlled social media accounts) on Twitter had masqueraded as “Bernie Bros” during the 2015-2016 election cycle

...Almost all of the accounts presented as men — mostly young and white — and used sexist and misogynistic tones and words. I was called “mom” and “grandma” as epithets by these “young men.” I was called every vile sexualized name you can imagine. For some reason that I did not understand at the time, they liked to call me a “vagina.” (I now believe non-native English — i.e. Russian — speakers wrote the algorithms controlling these bots and perhaps imagined “vagina” to be the equivalent of the c-word when hurled at a woman.)

... nearly every female supporter of Clinton I know who was outspoken on Twitter or Facebook received similar treatment. In addition, men of color who were vocal Clinton supporters were targeted in a similar way. The abuse was also highly targeted toward journalists, especially female journalists reporting on the primary and opinion journalists who were supportive of Clinton.

...the attacks worked. Some women left Twitter altogether as a result of the abuse. Even I became far less outspoken than I normally am in the face of it. A near vacuum of public expressions of support for Clinton came to exist on social media. On their end, Sanders supporters were flooded with a wave of anti-Clinton fake news stories. Many Clinton supporters came to feel isolated, just as the Sanders supporters came to feel misrepresented. Many (real) people from both the Sanders and Clinton camps still harbor resentments toward the other. As importantly, we have no way of measuring the degree to which these types of “active measure” by Russia suppressed turnout of Clinton voters.

One thing we know for sure: it certainly suppressed our voices.

The first time I knew the #MAGA accounts had been bots, and the first time it occurred to me that the “Bernie Bro” accounts might also have been, was on November 9th, the day after the election. The accounts went totally silent. That is just not a normal human reaction. I had expected them to be making victory laps on Twitter. In fact, they were not just silent; the vast majority of them were gone. Poof. I blocked thousands of these accounts on Twitter over the course of about 18 months. When I went to check my list of blocked accounts, there were about a dozen left in existence.

Their job was done: Hillary Clinton had been defeated, and Donald Trump had been elected to the office of the president of the United States...


Apr 3, 2017, 9:55am Top

that's pretty amazing

Apr 3, 2017, 10:37am Top

I saw an article in the Grauniad the other day arguing that Britain's election laws are no longer adequate in the face of social media and the internet, and need urgent updating. Sounds as if the USA is in the same boat.

Edited: Apr 3, 2017, 8:20pm Top

>127 margd: On their face, some very interesting claims. I'd have to look into the matter further before arriving at any firm judgment, though.

ETA: Here's the first counterpoint I came across; after a quick scan, it seems reasonably sound. I'll dig further when I have time:



Amid the frenzy over the Trump team’s talks with Russians, are we missing a darker story, how the Deep State’s surveillance powers control the nation’s leaders, ask U.S. intelligence veterans Ray McGovern and Bill Binney.
Although many details are still hazy because of secrecy – and further befogged by politics – it appears House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes was informed last week about invasive electronic surveillance of senior U.S. government officials and, in turn, passed that information onto President Trump.

This news presents Trump with an unwelcome but unavoidable choice: confront those who have kept him in the dark about such rogue activities or live fearfully in their shadow. (The latter was the path chosen by President Obama. Will Trump choose the road less traveled?)

What President Trump decides will largely determine the freedom of action he enjoys as president on many key security and other issues. But even more so, his choice may decide whether there is a future for this constitutional republic. Either he can acquiesce to or fight against a Deep State of intelligence officials who have a myriad of ways to spy on politicians (and other citizens) and thus amass derogatory material that can be easily transformed into blackmail.

This crisis (yes, “crisis” is an overused word, but in this highly unusual set of circumstances we believe it is appropriate) came to light mostly by accident after President Trump tweeted on March 4 that his team in New York City’s Trump Towers had been “wiretapped” by President Obama.

Trump reportedly was relying on media reports regarding how conversations of aides, including his ill-starred National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, had been intercepted. Trump’s tweet led to a fresh offensive by Democrats and the mainstream press to disparage Trump’s “ridiculous” claims.

However, this concern about the dragnets that U.S. intelligence (or its foreign partners) can deploy to pick up communications by Trump’s advisers and then “unmask” the names before leaking them to the news media was also highlighted at the Nunes-led House Intelligence Committee hearing on March 20, where Nunes appealed for anyone who had related knowledge to come forward with it.

That apparently happened on the evening of March 21 when Nunes received a call while riding with a staffer. After the call, Nunes switched to another car and went to a secure room at the Old Executive Office Building, next to the White House, where he was shown highly classified information apparently about how the intelligence community picked up communications by Trump’s aides.

The next day, Nunes went to the White House to brief President Trump, who later said he felt “somewhat vindicated” by what Nunes had told him.

But the corporate U.S. news media continued to heckle Trump over his use of the word “wiretap” and cite the insistence of FBI Director James Comey and other intelligence officials that President Obama had not issued a wiretap order aimed at Trump.
However, earlier this year, there was a stark reminder of how much fear these surveillance capacities have struck in the hearts of senior U.S. government officials. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that President Trump was “being really dumb” to take on the intelligence community, since “They have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”

Maddow shied away from asking the logical follow-up: “Senator Schumer, are you actually saying that Trump should be afraid of the CIA?” Perhaps she didn’t want to venture down a path that would raise more troubling questions about the surveillance of the Trump team than on their alleged contacts with the Russians.
A savvy politician, Nunes knew there would be high political cost in doing what he did. Inevitably, he would be called partisan; there would be more appeals to remove him from chairing the committee; and the character assassination of him already well under way – in The Washington Post, for example – might move him to the top of the unpopularity chart, displacing even bête noire Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Edited: Apr 4, 2017, 2:37am Top

>118 davidgn: Washington has pursued policies that have ignored Russian interests (and sometimes international law as well) in order to encircle Moscow with military alliances and trade blocs conducive to U.S. interests. It is no wonder that Russia pushes back.

"The Soviet Union pursued polices that ignored US interests. It is no wonder the the US pushed back by trying to kill Castro." Was it you who said that? You must have said that when we were talking about Castro's death, because otherwise to be consistent you'd have to treat the sovereignty of Ukraine and Georgia seriously and the invasions thereof as being blamable on Russia.

Nations make military alliances and trade blocs in their interests. That's how shit works. They don't give a fuck about third parties, and have no obligation under international law to do so. If Russia doesn't like it, it can make its own alliances and trade blocs--which it has done.

given the Versailles-level humiliation we inflicted on Russia in the '90s,

In the Treaty of Versailles, Germany's army, which pre-WWI was 4.5 million men strong, was limited to 100,000 men and prohibited them from having an air force. The Soviet Union in 1991 had 4 million men, and in 2008 Russia moved to downsize to about 1 million men under arms. "Between 1991 and 1997 newly independent Russia's defence spending fell by a factor of eight in real prices." (Wikipedia, ultimately sourced from ''The Armed Forces of Russia in Asia''). A factor of four is not a factor of 45.

Likewise, where's the reparations? The Soviet Union forcefully occupied Eastern Europe for 45 years. How much money do they owe Poland still?

we (and Russians) should count ourselves damn lucky that the likes of a Putin was the worst we spawned in return.

Never once have you shown Ukraine any sympathy for its occupation and control from Moscow. The Soviet Union spawned Ukrainian nationalists, but you've never said that Russians should count themselves damn lucky the treatment of Russians in Ukraine wasn't worse.

I actually find this a very twisted statement. Part of the thing that drives this is that the Soviet Union was one of the two major world powers, that they were wrestling for control of the world, and Russia lost that. But when you say things like that, it's like you're talking about the US as a clumsy puppetmaster; the US may have screwed up, but control was theirs to screw up and Russia was and is a puppet.

Either free will is just an illusion, at least on the national level, or the US and Russia and everyone else are responsible for their own actions. Treating the US as responsible and Russia not is absurd and what Russia is fighting against.

Apr 4, 2017, 4:29am Top

Put another way: given how the Soviets treated the US and the rest of the world, they should count themselves damn lucky that they were treated as lightly as they were. The model of the political world as an mechanical object governed by rigid laws has its upsides and downsides, but if we're going to use it, the Soviets made hated and feared enemies of many, many countries, which means when they're down, they're going to be kicked. As such, the fact that Versailles is the (still hyperbolic) comparison and not the Ottoman Empire is impressive.

Apr 4, 2017, 9:27am Top

>131 prosfilaes: >132 prosfilaes: You still don't know or understand history. Cuba was a stolen possession of the United States, from which 80% of its main crop was cashed out in the United States when Castro led a revolution. I have no idea what you base any comparison on--though, oddly, your mention of Cuba is a figment of your imagination of someone else's imagination. Yet it still serves to to expose your lack of comprehension. Basic mental exercise: imagine yourself a Cuban peasant in 1958. Would you understand the US behavior upon the rise to power of Castro, which was a decade and more of the extreme morbid-comic-bizarre of which only perhaps types like Stalin were PERHAPS capable outside the US. Bay of Pigs, the insane 'missile crisis' (going to nuclear war over nukes while having nukes equally threatening on the Soviet border?), the extraordinary assassination attempts...

...and imagine, in the world at large, the residents of that small island are admired for their generosity in the medical field as well as their health system in general, while the US is scoffed at, laughed at for its disgusting, disturbing health 'system'.

So, good example.

Otherwise, well, not very bright to speak of reparations, not with Vietnam still surviving, not with Native Americans still around, not with Chagos Islanders scattered about, not with Zaire hiding as Congo, not with Mexico still showing a pulse with a third of its corpus cropped, not with Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Argentina, Ecuador et al. still about, not with the Bikini and neighboring islanders still sick and moving, not with cancer survivors in Nevada still seeking recompense, not with those two Japanese cities in the brain, not with the Middle East blown up, not with Palestinians stateless and murdered at whim by what is one of the oddest of all US client states, not with East Timor still above sea level...

Putin is a murderous swine, but as a wise historian once wrote about Stalin, he was up against the most expansionist power the world had ever seen...

Edited: Apr 4, 2017, 10:10am Top

>132 prosfilaes: the Soviets made hated and feared enemies of many, many countries, which means when they're down, they're going to be kicked

Is not the same true of the other superpwer, the USA? There's no doubt that the USSR made enemies, notably in the western sphere of influence, but it also made many friends in the developing world and non-aligned bloc. In particular it supported liberation movements in their anti-colonial struggles, and in the struggle against US-installed and/or supported dictatorships in Latin America and elsewhere. Likewise, the USA became a hated and feared enemy of many, many countries, the results of which are in part fuelling the global terrorist boom against the US and its allies even today. I would guess it's just what superpowers do, whether the USA or USSR. The European Great Powers of the 19th and early 20th century did much the same. I wonder how China will behave as the new upcoming superpower?

Apr 4, 2017, 11:29am Top

Hitler, friend to the Ukrainians.

Apr 4, 2017, 1:01pm Top

>136 davidgn: Note the Bulls fan in the second video.

Also note that Spalding has no stomach for argument. Obscure sniping, though, is an improvement over cheap shots.

I wonder, though, have long wondered and will always wonder, I suppose, at people whose general behavior suggests that they value both intellect and integrity who yet refuse to learn. At this particular moment I believe it is the inability to stop looking at historical and political discussion as something you win or lose at. If winning and losing must be involved, I figure I can only win by learning. It reminds me of a few chess players I have known who could not win against me and did not enjoy playing because though they were much better, knew the openings and all, which I don't for the most part, could not help but see it as an intellectual contest.

Apr 4, 2017, 1:25pm Top

>137 RickHarsch: If winning and losing must be involved, I figure I can only win by learning

Much of my work is connected with conflict resolution, and I would say you are absolutely correct. Shifting the conflict parties from the win-lose mentality to a win-win one is often difficult but it's almost impossible to make peace without it; even an apparent "win" by one side which involved the other side "losing" usually only provides a temporary respite before the conflict breaks out again.

One of the things I find disappointing about internet conversations is how often they do degenerate into a win-lose dynamic rather than learning from each other.

Edited: Apr 4, 2017, 3:06pm Top

>138 johnthefireman:

I may have a natural inclination toward learning, but another thing is that in a relationship, I mean a love relationship, if you are prepared to be wrong and don't mind being wrong, finding out you ARE wrong is a relief as it means the conflict is over.

ETA: And yes, regarding conversation on such venues as these it is rather dispiriting how seldom you see a statement like 'Oh, I didn't realize that,' or, 'Huh? I never though of it that way'...

Apr 4, 2017, 7:27pm Top

>134 johnthefireman: Is not the same true of the other superpwer, the USA?

Certainly; had the Soviet Union won, I don't think the USA would have been treated any better. It's such a counterfactual in my mind that I can't say how this non-existent Soviet Union would have acted, but I doubt the US would remember the Sovietization fondly. Iran's hatred for the US and 9/11 are natural responses to US actions.

I would guess it's just what superpowers do, whether the USA or USSR.

As I said, if you're taking it as a mechanical model, then yes. But that excludes moralization; that's just the way shit works.

I'm not saying the US is perfect. I'm not saying anything about how the US handled the fall of the Soviet Union. I am objecting to anything that treats the Russian invasion of Ukraine as anything but a gross violation of treaty obligations and international law that the Russians bear the responsibility for. I am objecting to the idea that the Baltic states joining NATO and the EU is somehow an offense to Russia, instead of decisions made by free and independent states to insure their freedom and independence from the nation that held them in subjugation for 50 years.

I have two personal emphases here; I'm concerned about the continuing freedom of Estonia, and the way the far left would throw them under the bus because the US is apparently the source of all evil (joining the far right that would throw them under the bus because Realpolitik and only superpowers matter). I'd also like to see Iran become a free democratic source of stability for the Middle East. One of the big things that has to happen is that Iranians have push back against politics that make the US the Great Evil and everything justified as a response to the US, just like Americans had to push back against politics that made the USSR the Great Evil and everything justified as a response to Communism.

Edited: Apr 4, 2017, 8:16pm Top

>133 RickHarsch: The sentence I quoted was "Washington has pursued policies that have ignored Russian interests (and sometimes international law as well) in order to encircle Moscow with military alliances and trade blocs conducive to U.S. interests.". That statement avoids mentioning who the US entered into military alliances and trade blocs with at all. If it's all about the US and Russia and those partners aren't worthy of being mentioned, then it's all about the US and the USSR and Cuba is not worthy of mention.

not very bright to speak of reparations

That's insulting and childish. I'd be more than happy to discuss reparations; it's an interesting question and there certainly are cases where people deserve reparations from the US that the US hasn't provided. Whereas johnthefireman, in >134 johnthefireman:, pointed out the equivalences between the US and the USSR, you use US actions to try and excuse the Soviet actions and avoid discussing the Soviet actions.

not with East Timor still above sea level...

China emits twice the carbon dioxide the US does. Australia emits more per capita. However you want to cut it, one nation that emits 15% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions didn't cause the problem by itself and can't solve it by itself.

And East Timor is a silly choice, given that its high point Ramelau is 2963 meters high, and its coastlines are sharply elevated.

he was up against the most expansionist power the world had ever seen...

In the 21st century, one nation has annexed land belonging to another nation; the Russian annexation of Crimea. I could discuss this at length, but nuance seems to evade you on this subject.

>135 timspalding: Hitler, friend to the Ukrainians.

Yeah, to some extent. Pretty much every nation squeezed between Stalin and Hitler had and has mixed feelings about that time.

Apr 5, 2017, 4:44am Top

>141 prosfilaes:

First: 'Iran's hatred for the US and 9/11 are natural responses to US actions.' Though you don't declare as such, that's a good and positive example of learning through these discussions--a lack of which JTF and I were lamenting.

2. Cuba. You brought up Cuba. I hope as with Iran you understand what riles the Cubanos and also what riled the Soviets regarding Cuba.

3. Reparations. I admit that I don't understand what is childish about what I wrote. No country on the globe has more to repay than the US, whether or not it's been calculated. Generally when an international body determines that the US is guilty of something, the US ignores that body or claims it has no legitimacy, often with the darkly funny argument that it is filled with enemies of the US.

The fact of East Timor being above sea level is coupled with such descriptions as Mexico still having a pulse. Do you really not see the figurative nature of the prose, the devices used in my reparations paragraph?

4. Historical time and annexations: 'In the 21st century, one nation has annexed land belonging to another nation; the Russian annexation of Crimea. I could discuss this at length, but nuance seems to evade you on this subject.'

One problem you've had before, such as back when you were unable to grasp the effect of US actions in Iran in 1953, was allowing the notion of an artificial deadline to sneak into your thoughts. The clock ticking into what is arbitrarily declared a categorical doesn't change preceding history. It's not like a sport in that way. Nuance surely does evade me on the subject of US expansionism as it seems to have evaded the US. What they want, they take, one way or another. The US is indeed a bit too sophisticated NOW to outright annex some place (where IS Puerto Rico by the way?) that they can occupy economically. That, and it appears to me that nuance is especially required in regard to Crimea. I'm still unsure what to think about it as the situation is extremely complex and involves one major arbitrary administrative more. Or was it arbitrary? Was Khruschev a canny visionary?

Anyway, as regards Ukraine, it probably would help to some degree to imagine Russian machinations in Canada seeking to empower an anti-US movement. The only easy parallel is geographic position, but at least you can begin to get the idea of what the Russian position is and why; that coupled with the continuing cold war.

Apr 5, 2017, 8:55am Top

>142 RickHarsch: imagine Russian machinations in Canada seeking to empower an anti-US movement. The only easy parallel is geographic position

For some reason this brings to mind Billy Bragg singing The Marching Song of The Covert Battalions :

Here we are seeking out the reds
Trying to keep the communists in order
Just remember when you're sleeping in your beds
They're only two days drive from the Texas border

How can a country large as ours
Be scared of such a threat
Well if they won't work for us
They're against us you can bet
They may be sovereign countries
But you folks at home forget
That they all want what we've got
But they don't know it yet

Tra-la-la-la, Tra-la-la-la, Tra-la-la-la
We're making the world safe for capitalism

Here we come with our candy and our guns
And our corporate muscle marches in behind us
For freedom's just another word for nothing left to sell
And if you want narcotics we can get you those as well

We help the multi-nationals
When they cry out protect us
The locals scream and shout a bit
But we don't let that affect us
We're here to lend a helping hand
In case they don't elect us
How dare they buy our products
Yet still they don't respect us

Tra-la-la-la, Tra-la-la-la, Tra-la-la-la
We're making the world safe for capitalism

If you thought the army
Was here protecting people like yourself
I've some news for you
We're here to defend wealth
Away with nuns and bishops (Romero!)
The good lord will help those that help themselves
I've some news for you
We're here to defend wealth

Tra-la-la-la, Tra-la-la-la, Tra-la-la-la
We're making the world safe for capitalism

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-yRKfD2GIk

Apr 5, 2017, 9:04am Top

>143 johnthefireman: Thanks. Makes you tremble all the way to Harlingen, Texas...

Apr 5, 2017, 10:13pm Top

>142 RickHarsch: I admit that I don't understand what is childish about what I wrote.

It's "not very bright to speak of reparations", because somehow talking about Russian reparations brings up US reparations, and somehow allowing US reparations to be brought up is "not very bright" of me.

allowing the notion of an artificial deadline to sneak into your thoughts.

Artificial in this case meaning inconvenient to RickHarsch. Without a deadline, you get to play the game of moving the line as convenient to you.

back when you were unable to grasp the effect of US actions in Iran in 1953

I don't believe my position on this has changed. There's only one living member of my family who was born then, and she was too young to remember anything that happened in 1953. By the time I was born, the Shah was gone. At some point, continuing to stress about this is only hurting Iranians.

The US is indeed a bit too sophisticated NOW to outright annex some place

When you take someone and punish them for everything and never give them any credit for anything, and take someone else and excuse their every behavior, it doesn't make the first person better; it just means they stop caring about what you say.

The fact is that annexing territory is no longer accepted in the world and this is a good thing. It's held pretty well since the end of the immediate fallout of WWII. Off the top of my head, Russia taking Crimea and Israel taking land in the Six Day War are the only major examples of one established state permanently taking territory from another established state since 1950.

What they want, they take, one way or another.

Vietnam. Afghanistan. East Germany. As johnthefireman says, they've behaved as a superpower, not much differently than the Soviet Union.

It appears to me that nuance is especially required in regard to Crimea.

This line seems like a bit of failure in self-reflection. Of course you can make exceptions for your side, and pointing that out doesn't help your case.

it probably would help to some degree to imagine Russian machinations in Canada seeking to empower an anti-US movement.

Or, you know, Soviet machinations in Cuba seeking to empower an anti-US movement.

After the Cold War ended, Russian sources declared that they had funneled 40 million to Gus Hall and the American Communist Party, and controlled that party as a puppet of Moscow. I understand they considered Canada a hard target, but I'd be stunned if they hadn't dumped quite a bit of resources into Mexico.

And then what? What would the appropriate response be? Do we invade Canada?

Apr 6, 2017, 7:06am Top

>145 prosfilaes:

Gee, the one clearly admirable display of intelligence I've seen you make in regard to world politics and you refuse credit for it. Sorry, I thought you had finally grasped the concept of the flow of history in regard to Iran and what was done in 1953. But I guess the Iranians are 'continuing to stress' about it. Actually, what they are doing is living under the regime that was the most logical and likely response to the subversion of Mossadegh and the reign of the Shah. Consider 1953 a fork in a road. The road that develops is not going to stop and do a U-turn. So, yes, no matter how many family members of yours were alive, the history of Iran is independent of them and your artificial concept of the meaning of time.

This is very funny in light of the above:

RH: 'allowing the notion of an artificial deadline to sneak into your thoughts.'

P: 'Artificial in this case meaning inconvenient to RickHarsch. Without a deadline, you get to play the game of moving the line as convenient to you.'

But you are the one with the artificial line. I do not move it; I RE-move it. Remove it.

For my convenience? No, nothing we are talking about is convenient or inconvenient to me. I enjoy history and teaching. (Read up on East Timor, this teacher suggests, and you will be less likely to respond foolishly, more likely to understand the list it is part of, the cumulative impact of the paragraph.)

You missed my point about annexation. The US has never stopped annexing. They merely do it by different means. The worst has been assassination and occupation by proxy. It is good that you mentioned Israel. They have been the most brutal annexationists of late and the US pays a great deal to make it easier for them to do so.

This is very funny, too:

RH: 'It appears to me that nuance is especially required in regard to Crimea.'

P: 'This line seems like a bit of failure in self-reflection. Of course you can make exceptions for your side, and pointing that out doesn't help your case.'

I don't have a side in that case at all. And I am content that I am still engaged in self-reflection and reflection. I admit that I do not yet know enough about Crimea to have formed an opinion--I am not even close to having formed a decisive opinion. I have a lot of thoughts to consider, but I need to study the situation, read as much as possible about the last ten years or so in Crimea.
Presumably, it was without thought to the future that Crimea came under the administration of Ukraine territory under Kruschev. That's a complication, as the Black Sea is historically of extreme importance to Russia. Ukraine suffered at least as famously as any other part of the USSR under Stalin.
Ukraine is mixed and the poles within the country are farther apart than any such in the US, probably any you could imagine. They are very extreme and potent poles. (No jokes about L'viv or Lvov, please.) Ukraine is home to places like Berdychiv and Chernivtsi, places of extraordinary loss, once vibrant cities, now shells of their former selves given the lack of diversity that resulted from horrific events. Ukrainians throughout history have been both great rebels and brutal collaborators. Given the centuries as a Russian neighbor, adjunct, annexed zone, a strong identification with Russia is a part of the history as well as a Russian population. Obviously a lot of complexities arise for this reason.

And then there is the Canada imagination exercise that you failed. I'm not talking about Cuba, which example is thoroughly foolish for a variety of reasons.

In this instance, the Russian side is easier to reduce to the issue at hand: the Black Sea, a history of brutality in the region of Crimea, a dictator who kills journalists and so on, an historic sense that it needs a buffer zone between itself and a predatory WEST.

I have no idea what you mean to get at by suggesting that the Russians got 40 mil to Gus Hall after the end of the cold war. Do you want me to counter with an equally stupid investment made by the US? Aren't we supposed to believe that the US won the cold war because they were better investors?

Apr 20, 2017, 7:38am Top

Thu Apr 20, 2017 | 7:24am EDT
Exclusive: Putin-linked think tank drew up plan to sway 2016 U.S. election - documents
Ned Parker, Jonathan Landay and John Walcott | WASHINGTON

A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system, three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters.


Russia Today and Sputnik published anti-Clinton stories while pro-Kremlin bloggers prepared a Twitter campaign calling into question the fairness of an anticipated Clinton victory, according to a report by U.S. intelligence agencies on Russian interference in the election made public in January. bit.ly/2kMiKSA

Russia Today’s most popular Clinton video - “How 100% of the 2015 Clintons’ ‘charity’ went to ... themselves” - accumulated 9 millions views on social media, according to the January report. bit.ly/2os8wIt

The report said Russia Today and Sputnik “consistently cast president elect-Trump as the target of unfair coverage from traditional media outlets."

The report said the agencies did not assess whether Moscow’s effort had swung the outcome of the race in Trump’s favor, because American intelligence agencies do not “analyze U.S. political processes or U.S. public opinion.” bit.ly/2kMiKSA


Neither of the Russian institute documents mentioned the release of hacked Democratic Party emails to interfere with the U.S. election, according to four of the officials. The officials said the hacking was a covert intelligence operation run separately out of the Kremlin.

The overt propaganda and covert hacking efforts reinforced each other, according to the officials. Both Russia Today and Sputnik heavily promoted the release of the hacked Democratic Party emails, which often contained embarrassing details...


May 9, 2017, 11:11am Top

A little nausea is warranted...

Comey’s Testimony on Huma Abedin Forwarding Emails Was Inaccurate
The FBI hasn’t decided how to correct the director’s false claim that she forwarded thousands of Clinton emails to the laptop computer of her husband, former Congressman Anthony Weiner.

Peter Elkind, special to ProPublica | May 8, 2017

...According to two sources familiar with the matter — including one in law enforcement — Abedin forwarded only a handful of Clinton emails to her husband for printing — not the “hundreds and thousands” cited by Comey. It does not appear Abedin made “a regular practice” of doing so. Other officials said it was likely that most of the emails got onto the computer as a result of backups of her Blackberry.

It was not clear how many, if any, of the forwarded emails were among the 12 “classified” emails Comey said had been found on Weiner’s laptop. None of the messages carried classified markings at the time they were sent.

Comey’s Senate testimony about Abedin came as he offered his first public explanation for his decision to reveal the existence of the emails on Oct. 28, days ahead of the 2016 election and before FBI agents had examined them.

When agents obtained a search warrant that allowed them to read the messages, they turned out to be mostly duplicates of emails the bureau had obtained earlier in the investigation. Comey announced just before Election Day that nothing had changed in the Clinton case, which had been closed four months earlier without criminal charges...


May 10, 2017, 5:34pm Top

And now... he's gone...

May 10, 2017, 8:07pm Top

>150 Tid:

Would have been harder to get rid of him if the left had not constantly attacked him as partisan.

May 11, 2017, 4:27am Top

'The left' again. The Clintonian Leninists. The idiot was a loose cannon anyway you look at it. Accused of being to soft with Clinton, suddenly he blurts out a shitload of nonsense shortly before the election.

May 11, 2017, 7:32am Top

>151 timspalding: "Harder to get rid of him"? Harder than THIS? It's beginning of end, I think. Afraid that orange-haired baby will attempt to take Republic with him, though. Will make Nixon look very good by comparison...

Striking, I think, that President Obama and then-AG Lynch did not impede or fire Comey, before or after election. Didn't approve, I'm sure, but didn't interfere.

May 11, 2017, 10:27am Top

Most of the democratic party has wanted his head on the end of a pole for a long while but now that Trump has actually done it some of them are upset. Comey is not going to be missed. Who replaces him though could be--is likely to be even worse. That's the trend with Trump and the republican party.

May 11, 2017, 10:36am Top

Deputy AG is said to be upset about being tagged by WH as prime mover in Comey firing. Threatened to resign but didn't. Trump may nominate next FBI Director for Senate approval, but Rosenstein could appoint Special Prosecutor, since Sessions recused himself? Then resign only if political interference?

May 11, 2017, 10:34pm Top

>151 timspalding: No; Trump had the discretionary ability to fire him. It would have been just as easy. Would the Republicans have objected (afterwards) more if the Democrats hadn't attacked him? Doubtful.

May 19, 2017, 8:44am Top

US spies heard Russian intelligence agent vowing to target Clinton: report
Mark Hensch - 05/18/17

U.S. spies reportedly heard a Russian military intelligence officer bragging about his organization planning to target Hillary Clinton in May 2016.

The officer told a colleague that GRU would cause havoc in America’s presidential election, Time reported Thursday.

The officer reportedly described the intelligence agency’s effort as retribution for what Russian President Vladimir Putin considered Clinton’s influence campaign against him while serving as secretary of State...


May 19, 2017, 10:47am Top

>157 margd:

from the Time magazine story:

"Much of what is publicly known about the mechanics and techniques of social media propaganda comes from a program at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that the Rand researcher, Waltzman, ran to study how propagandists might manipulate social media in the future. In the Cold War, operatives might distribute disinformation-laden newspapers to targeted political groups or insinuate an agent provocateur into a group of influential intellectuals. By harnessing computing power to segment and target literally millions of people in real time online, Waltzman concluded, you could potentially change behavior “on the scale of democratic governments.”

"target" them how? with what? Propaganda? Reports? Inuendo? Facts?

Excuse me, but, this is what happens in a political election campaign--"foreign influenced" or not. I have it on very good authority that the Bernie Sanders campaign also "targeted" Clinton, sent out mass-communications designed to influence people--are you ready for this?-- NOT to vote for her. That's right. It's called an election campaign and here's another shocker--maybe you should be sure you're sitting down for this:

other nations have news organizations--public and private--and in some of these nations the press is free to report fact and opinion concerning a U.S. election. Stories can report that such-and-such a candidate is or was or would be "good" or "bad" for "X" reasons, true or not. These nation's publics can also take a legitimate interest in th U.S. election; they might even participate in on-line discussions and attempt to argue with , persuade, readers who are potential voters to see things according to the foreign person's view.

Yes, I know, this is amazing. But it is legal.

Hilliary Clinton's basic dishonesty, her dismal public record and her lousy campaign strategies and decisions account for her loss to Trump--not foreign-based government plots to "target" her. She was already "targeted" by U.S. voters who sought to help contribute to her opponents' victory over her.


May 19, 2017, 5:12pm Top

>158 proximity1:

Well, you know, it's a basic ... what I'm saying is, with complete and total surety is that ... if we're talking about respect, and that's exactly what I'm talking about, then we should, we really should. Because it's no good bleating fake news. Fake news! I'm telling all of you, and you all understand this, no politician in human history has been witch hunted like that. Me. It's bad. Really bad.

May 19, 2017, 5:18pm Top

>158 proximity1: One of many lifetime disqualifiers is actually typing this during argument: 'Get.a.life.'

Edited: May 20, 2017, 5:24am Top

>159 Tid:

Yes, now that's a solid ground for impeaching and removing from office an elected president of the United States. Thank you so very much for making yourself quite clear on this point.

May 20, 2017, 5:21pm Top

>161 proximity1:

Well, indeed, There was a wonderful satirical piece quoted recently, that claimed Obama was 'destroying' Trump by speaking in complete sentences, each of which contained a subject, object and verb. 😃

Jun 3, 2017, 1:57pm Top

I've been wondering, too:

Why Do They Hate Her?
Hillary Clinton is the most maligned presidential loser in history. What’s going on?
Joshua Zeitz | June 03, 2017

Edited: Jun 5, 2017, 7:43am Top

>163 margd:

People who claim not to understand whence the antipathy for Hillary Clinton strike me as insincere in their complaint: "Why do they hate her?"

First, ascribing to others a "hatred" (edited) of one's self as a blanket explanation for their antipathy to one's self is so very precious and dishonest a ploy. Jews--and, of course, others, too--do this--they are the FUCKING GOLD-MEDALISTS in the "O! Why O! Why do they hate us so?" Olympics-- but, now many people play at this shit.

Consider: if many, many people are repulsed by someone or some group, it may not be personal or simple bigotry. They may actually have some valid grounds for their alienation.

For anyone who really does not understand and who is seriously, sincerely, interested in understanding why millions of people see little to like or admire in Hillary Clinton, try the internet.




Jun 4, 2017, 7:40am Top

>163 margd: Because politics, like the stock market, is basically an irrational process. It is fueled by emotion, not fact.

Jun 4, 2017, 7:48am Top

>165 southernbooklady:


"Facts" and "emotions" are not contraries nor even "strangers". "Facts" can motivate "emotions"--just as can erroneous beliefs, false assumptions, etc. Nor is there anything wrong with "being emotional." Try eliminating all emotion and then see how well you actually reason. This "facts" (and sometimes it's expressed as "reason") versus "emotion" dichotomy is silly.

"Science" is also "fueled by emotion." If you doubt it, ask some scientists.

Jun 4, 2017, 12:53pm Top

>164 proximity1:

The question is why Clinton is so hated.

In 164 we get this:

'First, ascribing to others a "hatred" of one's self as a blanket explanation for antipathy to oneself is so very precious and dishonest a ploy. Jews--and, of course, others, too--do this--they are the FUCKING GOLD-MEDALISTS in the "O! Why O! Why do they hate us so?" Olympics-- but, now many people play at this shit.'

So immediately he shifts from Hatred of Clinton to self-hatred, which is truly bizarre--and also unclear: does he mean Clinton does this or all the people who wonder about why she is hated...or what?

But next: Jews? What the fuck is he talking about here? Jews hate themselves and then claim others do? Really? Is this guy unemployed and looking for love in Weimar?

Edited: Jun 4, 2017, 5:08pm Top

Speaking of Tourette's-like outbursts: here's a scapegoat-substituted version of James Clapper's recent remarks (http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/james-clapper-trump-russia-ties-my...), for effect (ht "b"):

"If you put that in context with everything else we knew the Jews were doing and just the historical practices of the Jews, who typically, almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Jewish technique."

Isn't that some deeply fascist stuff to say?
( http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/05/httpwwwcnncom20170530... )

(And God forbid I link to RT: https://www.rt.com/op-edge/390715-james-clapper-russians-genetically-untrustworthy/ )

Also: how about a good historical contextualization of Russia-gate?

Jerky knees all around here.

Jun 6, 2017, 12:51pm Top

Here's another essay from (the ostensibly penitent) Graham E. Fuller that can only be described as magisterial.

The fury over President Trump’s behavior and the hysteria over Russia are concealing the more significant long-term erosion of U.S. global influence from endless wars in the Mideast, observes ex-CIA official Graham E. Fuller.
President Trump’s ignorant, oafish and crude foreign policy style rivets our attention, arouses our indignation. But the drama of the diplomatic mayhem he wreaks while traveling abroad also distracts from recognizing more serious underlying problems of U.S. policy — deep negative trends that predate Trump.

Focusing on Trump’s latest crude pronouncements encourages the soothing belief that these current dilemmas are all his doing. In other words, if we didn’t have Trump, the U.S. would be back in the comfortable saddle as world’s acknowledged, respected, indispensable leader.

The sad fact is, we can vent our anger as we like, but the old days just aren’t coming back. It would indeed be a huge relief to be able to attribute our current foreign policy mess to the incompetence of one individual.

President Obama posed the reverse problem: his intelligent, gracious, sophisticated and knowledgeable style lulled us into believing that all should be well on the foreign policy front with the right guy in charge. But in reality the gratifying nature of Obama’s style too, concealed on numerous fronts the critical issues he failed to address or incorrectly addressed.

Trump’s outrages are too numerous to deal with in one piece; here I’d like to focus specifically on the recent brouhaha over NATO and questions about Trump’s alleged destruction of America’s “reliability” as a partner in Europe. Let me suggest a few key, perhaps contrarian, propositions of my own, drawn from my perspective as a former “sovietologist,” and student of Russian culture and affairs.

I write this too, with overwhelming concern for the unprecedented binge of American hysteria — there is no other word for it — over Putin and Russia’s place in the world.

The words of Soviet expert on American foreign policy, Georgi Arbatov, to an American diplomat upon the collapse of the USSR, come back to haunt: “We are going to do a terrible thing to you, we are going to deprive you of your enemy.” Indeed the U.S. has been thrashing around ever since.

So, Trump has bluntly called upon the E.U. to shoulder a greater share of the burden in NATO’s upkeep. He is not wrong. Indeed, the E.U. very much should take far more responsibility on issues of global security — but not so much financially, but by determining, on its own for a change, what it perceives to be its own security problems and how to manage them.

Jun 8, 2017, 3:59am Top


Hillary Clinton seems to have launched yet another political campaign in 2017, one to convince Americans that they absolutely did the right thing by not electing her president in 2016.

Which is not to say the victorious alternative was ideal either.

But the ongoing public Clinton struggle with herself is alienating even supporters, and it’s crippling the required remodeling and rejuvenation of her aged Democrat Party that needs a very long rehab at some political spa.

The only thing disunited Democrats have going for them right now is an undisciplined president and Republican disunity.

There’s no end in sight either for such self-imposed scab-picking; Clinton has not one but two books coming out this fall that will put her on stage after stage across the country with obsequious hosts feeding the Clinton ego with continuous curiosity about her thoughts and doings. Oh, and how in the world could Donald Trump have won? ...

(End Quote)

Read more here: The sad spectacle of Hillary Clinton’s slow-motion breakdown By Andrew Malcolm
Special to McClatchy

Edited: Jun 30, 2017, 7:34am Top

NYT Finally Retracts Russia-gate Canard
Exclusive: A founding Russia-gate myth is that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies agreed that Russia hacked into and distributed Democratic emails, a falsehood that The New York Times has belatedly retracted, reports Robert Parry.
(bolded emphasis mine)
The New York Times has finally admitted that one of the favorite Russia-gate canards – that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies concurred on the assessment of Russian hacking of Democratic emails – is false.

On Thursday, the Times appended a correction to a June 25 article that had repeated the false claim, which has been used by Democrats and the mainstream media for months to brush aside any doubts about the foundation of the Russia-gate scandal and portray President Trump as delusional for doubting what all 17 intelligence agencies supposedly knew to be true.

In the Times’ White House Memo of June 25, correspondent Maggie Haberman mocked Trump for “still refus(ing) to acknowledge a basic fact agreed upon by 17 American intelligence agencies that he now oversees: Russia orchestrated the attacks, and did it to help get him elected.”

However, on Thursday, the Times – while leaving most of Haberman’s ridicule of Trump in place – noted in a correction that the relevant intelligence “assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.”

The Times’ grudging correction was vindication for some Russia-gate skeptics who had questioned the claim of a full-scale intelligence assessment, which would usually take the form of a National Intelligence Estimate (or NIE), a product that seeks out the views of the entire Intelligence Community and includes dissents.
Clapper testified before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on May 8 that the Russia-hacking claim came from a “special intelligence community assessment” (or ICA) produced by selected analysts from the CIA, NSA and FBI, “a coordinated product from three agencies – CIA, NSA, and the FBI – not all 17 components of the intelligence community,” the former DNI said.

Clapper further acknowledged that the analysts who produced the Jan. 6 assessment on alleged Russian hacking were “hand-picked” from the CIA, FBI and NSA.

Yet, as any intelligence expert will tell you, if you “hand-pick” the analysts, you are really hand-picking the conclusion. For instance, if the analysts were known to be hard-liners on Russia or supporters of Hillary Clinton, they could be expected to deliver the one-sided report that they did.

Politicized Intelligence

In the history of U.S. intelligence, we have seen how this selective approach has worked, such as the phony determination of the Reagan administration pinning the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II and other acts of terror on the Soviet Union.

Hillary Clinton at the Code 2017 conference on May 31, 2017.

CIA Director William Casey and Deputy Director Robert Gates shepherded the desired findings through the process by putting the assessment under the control of pliable analysts and sidelining those who objected to this politicization of intelligence.

The point of enlisting the broader intelligence community – and incorporating dissents into a final report – is to guard against such “stove-piping” of intelligence that delivers the politically desired result but ultimately distorts reality.

Another painful example of politicized intelligence was President George W. Bush’s 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s WMD that removed State Department and other dissents from the declassified version that was given to the public.

Edited: Jul 1, 2017, 4:53am Top

>171 davidgn:

It could easily have been the case that the Russians (yes, Russian officialdom, which briefly means Putin et al), astutely expecting U.S. authorities to be looking for evidence of Russian "interference," did what adversary nations frequently do, via their own or other intel agencies/agents:

they "put stuff out there" and waited to see if they'd get any bites. Such stuff could be wholly cooked-up nonsense--ie. there's no truth to it but, the adversary's falling for it and accepting it as valid when it isn't is really the whole point--or it could be a clever mixture of partly true and partly false information--the true seeded to lend authenticity to the false (&, thus, more important ) details.

If this is anything like what was done, then the Obama administration and the Clinton campaigns, joined at the hip, fell for it like world-class suckers and, more alarmingly, so did their special U.S.intelligence group which seized, studied and accepted the dossier--unverified--and ran with it. In turn, wildly eager anti-Trump journalists and formerly elite-and-respected major news organizations also swallowed it, hook, line and sinker.

Here, from last January, is what I refer to:

(Forbes ) "The Trump Dossier Is Fake -- And Here Are The Reasons Why"
| Paul Roderick Gregory | Jan 13, 2017 @ 12:04 AM


"A former British intelligence officer, who is now a director of a London private security-and-investigations firm, has been identified as the author of the dossier of unverified allegations about President-elect Donald Trump’s activities and connections in Russia, according to the Wall Street Journal. A Christopher Steele, a director of London-based private intelligence company, Orbis, purportedly prepared the dossier under contract to both Republican and Democratic adversaries of then-candidate Trump. The poor grammar and shaky spelling plus the author’s use of KGB-style intelligence reporting, however, do not fit the image of a high-end London security company run by highly connected former British intelligence figures.

"The PDF file of the 30-page typewritten report alleges that high Kremlin officials colluded with Trump, offered him multi-billion dollar bribes, and accumulated compromising evidence of Trump’s sexual escapades in Russia. That the dossier comes from former British intelligence officers appears, at first glance, to give it weight especially with Orbis’ claim of a “global network.” The U.S. intelligence community purportedly has examined the allegations but have not confirmed any of them. We can wait till hell freezes over. The material is not verifiable.

"President-elect Trump has dismissed the dossier’s contents as false as has the Kremlin. Trump is right: The Orbis dossier is fake news."

It's Steele who, as things happened, proved to be the initial taker and passer (unless, of course, he was actually in league with the original designers and producers of the faked dossier themselves; though I doubt this) and who was first fed the faked details--though it could have been proposed to and rejected by others previously or at the same time. He, as expected, since this is precisely the sort of work he does, takes this and proposes it to prospective parties of interest British, U.S. or some of both, whether they're in the Intel community, press or Obama administration. These constitute the second-order patsies in this game of feeding disinformation to credulous fools. By whatever order of events, once the press got wind of it, it was like catnip to a hoard of cats.

Intelligence agencies are supposed to be wise to and wary of this sort of ploy. It is virtually "classic" stuff in intelligence agency lore. Normally, agencies are always on the look out for such "too-good-to-be-true" stuff that comes their way. In this case, despite MANY openly-expressed doubts and concerens, as well as outright denials--which were rejected out of hand because their sources were deemed untrustworthy (i.e. Trump and friends)--the press, this special Intelligence group formed, hand-picked (a procedural "No-no"!) to examine and pass judgement on the dossier's validity, and, not least, high Obama officials and Clinton campaign officials--which had to include both Obama and Hillary Clinton, prize dupes, as well as, in all likelihood, Obama's closest advisors (Susan Rice? Valerie Jarrett?) and V.I.P.s in the Clinton campaign John Podesta--these were the "cats" gorging on "catnip."

Meanwhile, Putin sits impassively in Moscow as the West's top officials make spectacular fools of themselves--and, in the process, reveal stunningly useful indications of their weaknesses and vulnerabilities to such schemes--watching them trying to out-do each other in his vilification.

Many self-satisfied reader-commenters here joined these illustrious fools in completely buying into the bullshit which was carefully prepared and served to them.

Jul 1, 2017, 7:32am Top

>169 davidgn: American hysteria — there is no other word for it — over Putin and Russia’s place in the world.

Russia is the only nation that has taken land from another nation by military force in the 21st century. Confining ourselves to just Europe, since WWII, the Soviet Union used military force to put down Hungary and Czechoslovakia, the end of Yugoslavia happened, and Russia conquered Crimea.

But what do we think Russia is actually going to do? Invade Europe? In reality Russia does not threaten the E.U. in any serious respect, as most balanced European observers will admit. It’s interesting here to look at how many times Russia has actually invaded the West. Looks like twice in two centuries — and both times in direct response to European invasions of the Russian heartland.


The second Russian invasion of the West was in the late days of World War II. Here, as we know, Hitler fatally decided to invade Russia, where he spread destruction, starvation and death. The Soviet Union, at the staggering costs of upwards of 25 million Russians dead in the long war, eventually drove Hitler back into Germany.

That's quite a quick spin there; go from Europe to the EU to the West. If we want to talk the EU, let's talk about the EU, which includes Poland, the Baltic states and Finland, which Russia has invaded multiple times without provocation, including at the start of World War II, as one of Hitler's allies, as well as Hungary and Czechoslovakia in the 1950s and 1960s.

Germany above all is the one major power that will always bear the primary responsibility for handling the Russian account in Europe; Russia and Germany after all are the two major powers of Central and Eastern Europe. ... Such acts are viewed as highly provocative intrusion into an area of traditional Russian sphere of influence.

Again, screw Poland.

There's a lot to talk about the US's (mis)use of military power and our declining soft power around the world. But white-washing Russian history is bogus. And international agreement says that Ukraine and Estonia and Poland are states every bit the equal of Germany and Russia. At least lip-service to the sovereignty of these nations would be appreciated, instead of just treating them as part of Russia's "sphere of influence".

Jul 1, 2017, 10:44am Top

>173 prosfilaes: Every time I see someone stick up for Poland, no matter the context, I feel a little better, so for that part, at least, Prosfilaes, thanks.

Sphere of influence. That is not davidgn's invention. That's the Monroe Doctrine and variants colonial all over the world up to and including Churchill and Roosevelt/Truman's final betrayal of, among others, Poland at the end of WWII. And it is Ireland belonging to England and it is Australia today wanting East Timor's gas fields.

The US has been able to perpetuate colonialism and spheres of influence since the end of colonialism--a period that historians will probably mark as lasting from WWII through the 1970s--through proxy states and buffers like multinational corporations.

At least two things should be kept in mind in any of these discussions of European history and Russia. The century and a half when all parties were content to pretend Poland did not exist, and the threat to Russia from the western powers.

'Russia is the only nation that has taken land from another nation by military force in the 21st century.'
That is simply not meaningfully true, as has been proven here on LT before. And it is also rather slippery, as what a nation considers its land, another nation may consider ITS land. Besides, and much more relevant, is that the arbitrary cut off is a bizarre means to prevent the discussion from having the heft it deserves.

'Confining ourselves to just Europe, since WWII, the Soviet Union used military force to put down Hungary and Czechoslovakia, the end of Yugoslavia happened, and Russia conquered Crimea.'

When US and European nations confine themselves to Europe long enough the conversation will naturally settle back to 'just Europe'.

Edited: Jul 2, 2017, 10:03am Top

>173 prosfilaes: :

"Russia is the only nation that has taken land from another nation by military force* in the 21st century."







* : All the illegal settlements are "taken" and backed by the use or the threat of force.

Try again.



On reconsideration, I ought to have reinforced the point that due to the fact that, both morally and, not least, practically, the United States government has since 1948, in effect without serious or durable lapse, lent itself directly in the role of Israel's ultimate defender against challenges by force or by law*, it ought to be evident that the U.S. governments are accessories to Israel's confiscations of land, its muderous--yes, murderous--military incursions into what are absurdly referred to as "autonomous" areas of Palestine--that is, not officially "occupied" but occupied in every meaningful respect--and all the rest which goes with it, "before the fact," "during the fact," and "after the fact." And this is true despite clear contravention of U.S. law--which is routinely ignored in order to serve Israel's confiscatory policies.


* principally, the U.N.'s (so-called) "Security Council" resolutions, especially when they have held out the force of law.

Jul 2, 2017, 7:51am Top

>175 proximity1: Good point.

Jul 2, 2017, 5:53pm Top

Jul 3, 2017, 7:34pm Top

>175 proximity1: What part of "took land from another nation in the 21st century" did you not understand? You even posted a link to "The occupation at 50: No end in sight for Palestinians" and 50 years ago was not in the 21st century.

Jul 4, 2017, 2:20am Top

>178 prosfilaes:

Isn't Israel illegally building settlements on Palestininan land backed by military force right at this moment as we speak?

Jul 4, 2017, 3:35am Top

>178 prosfilaes: Given the vast amount of information you could not digest, it is not surprising that you chose to pick on one thing with attempted wit, stumbling condescension, and not at all surprising that you got is so wrong: #179 is absolutely correct. But thanks for the unintentional humor: 50 years ago was indeed in the 20th century, but the article's main point is that the theft of land continues unabated.

Edited: Jul 4, 2017, 10:28am Top

>178 prosfilaes:

And here I feared I'd be taxed with the "But, but, 'Palestine' isn't a 'nation'!" objection.
Oh, well.


"Israel: Stealing others' land since 1948! Join us for our Centenary Extravaganza: Israel at 100 : Stealing land: 1948-2048, with a little help from our friends*"


* Just kidding! We have no friends!

Edited: Sep 21, 2017, 2:56pm Top

(n her book, What Happened) "She (Hillary Clinton) calls it a “boneheaded mistake” that she and her staff used a private server as secretary of state and deleted more than 30,000 emails before handing her files over to State Department record-keepers." --- Jeff Greenfield, "The Strange Authenticity of Hillary Clinton"


Okay, then. "Bone-headed mistake"-- reason enough not to be fit for the office sought. End of story.

Sep 22, 2017, 12:13pm Top

>182 proximity1:

"Okay, then. "Bone-headed mistake"-- reason enough not to be fit for the office sought. End of story."

As opposed to "I'm going to completely destroy North Korea" at a time of maximum international tension? Fit for office? End of story.

Sep 24, 2017, 1:29am Top

screw Poland

Sep 24, 2017, 2:17am Top

>184 barney67:

I've scrolled back over the last few threads and I don't seem to see any reference to Poland so I'm wonder if you could expand on your enigmatic statement, Barney, or tell me what I've missed.

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