Small Wars Journal

Kerry Expresses U.S. Concerns About Russian Moves in Syria

Kerry Expresses U.S. Concerns About Russian Moves in Syria

Voice of America

Secretary of State John Kerry expressed U.S. concern about reports of Russia's enhanced military buildup in Syria in a telephone call Saturday with his Russian counterpart, the State Department said.

"The secretary made clear that if such reports were accurate, these actions could further escalate the conflict, lead to greater loss of innocent life, increase refugee flows and risk confrontation with the anti-ISIL coalition operating in Syria," the department said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed that discussions on the Syrian conflict would continue in New York later this month, the department said.

The New York Times reported that Russia has sent a military advance team to Syria and was taking other steps that Washington fears may signal plans to vastly expand its military support for President Bashar al-Assad.

The Times reported the moves included the recent movement of prefabricated housing units for hundreds of people to a Syrian airfield and the delivery of a portable air traffic control station there.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that his country was providing "serious" training and logistical support to the Syrian army, the first public confirmation of the extent of Russia's involvement in the Syrian civil war.

Western governments and human rights groups have accused both Syrian government forces and those of the jihadist Islamic State group of large-scale human rights violations.

Putin said it was "premature" to discuss possible direct Russian involvement in military operations against IS in Syria, but that Russia was providing Damascus with "very serious support and equipment, and training of military personnel, weapons."

On Thursday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Washington was "closely monitoring" reports that Moscow had deployed military personnel and aircraft to Syria.

"Any military support to the Assad regime for any purpose, whether it's in the form of military personnel, aircraft supplies, weapons or funding, is both destabilizing and counterproductive," Earnest said.

Comments

Outlaw 09

Sun, 09/13/2015 - 4:03am

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill--this is where we differ---a President must lead and sometimes that leading requires a certain amount of risk analysis --risk to the country, risk to foreign policy, financial risk and risk to the military BUT we have been extremely poor at the risk assessment piece for the civil society that is being impacted and their needs.

There were and still are small FP adjustments that would have been well worth the attempt at doing to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian civil society-that at the same time would have lent creditability to the words of a US President.

The use of chemical weapons red line statement and then subsequent back down and it was viewed as a back down in the ME. AND lo and behold Assad is still using them and passed them on to IS who is using it against anti IS and anti Assad forces--and there is not connection??

The use of a NFZ to eliminate barrel bombing the greatest single weapon system Assad is using to virtually destroy anti Assad towns and villages--not speaking of the hundreds of men, women and children killed by them. While a NFZ is expensive--it is not as expensive as taking in 500K refugees alone in Europe.

NFZs are a breeze for the US we flew two for the protection of Iraqi civilians and we flew one over Libya.

Isolationism is when one takes into account the reluctance to even get involved--something you missed in your definition.

Retrenchment means I was there and now I am not. I fully understand exactly what Obama is doing and it is a mixture of both--he argues from the perspective of retrenchment BUT means and implement isolationism.

HOW else can you explain the NYTs article I linked to by Annabaum where he viewed and still does view the Ukraine issue as a "regional issue". Since when does something that tangates one superpower and one wannabe superpower "remain regional in nature"????

Obama's worst failure is that he wants to have regional solutions conducted by the regional players and the US riding "high side". That entails having a strategy in place that has been tested and works--NOT simply ignoring the issues---that is in fact isolationism at the heart of it. Retrenchment means I put into place that exact concept and then and only then can I ride "high side".

He failed to do this in fact again being isolationist in his approaches to issues.

It seems that in Syria he had no plans whatsoever for direct Russian involvement and was content to fly strike missions in Iraq and Syria as his FP solution for IS.

Here is a great concept that would have won him points and creditability ---when Russia directly challenged him by placing one of their most modern AD systems in numbers into Syria AND then threatened the US directly with the statement--"you had better talk to us in order to avoid unintended consequences".

WHAT was his response--total silence. That threat proved beyond a doubt Putin's intent in Syria and was a direct challenge aimed at Obama.

That AD system is to keep the US from in fact creating a NFZ --plane and simple.

Obama's statement should have been--we are flying wherever we want to in order to attack IS AND to protect the Syrian civil society from genocide--you "light up" an Allied and or US aircraft and we will treat that as hostile intent and destroy the AD system.

Because if you as you state are interested in protecting the Syrian civil society you will remove Assad as soon as possible.

That messaging would have been clear, concise and fully understood by the ME and Putin.

BUT it did not happen--why--isolationism at work. Also he feels he ne Iran an Russia for his legacy to be viewed as "great".

Remember there are a number of reasons a superpower is a superpower and a key one is creditability --especially creditability when it says something that someone should be listing to.

Under Obama there is not a single shred of creditability anywhere to be seen---or if it is then I slept through it.

Remember above I stated "isolationism" is when one country does not want to even get involved.

It is about legacy and legacy does not make a foreign policy strategy or counter a strategic UW strategy being conducted against the US.

Outlaw, Move Forward, et al:

Important to note the distinction -- the difference -- between isolationism and retrenchment:

Re: Isolationism:

... "A degree of prudent skepticism about the wisdom of entering the Syrian morasse is not isolationism, of course. Genuine isolationism would mean severing our security ties with the rest of the world and focusing solely on defending sovereign U.S. territory. Genuine isolationism means ending U.S. alliance commitments in Europe and Asia and telling our various Middle Eastern allies that they were going to have to defend themselves instead of relying on help from Uncle Sam. Genuine isolationism would eliminate the vast military forces that we buy and prepare for overseas intervention and focus instead on defending American soil. Real isolationists favor radical cuts to the defense budget (on the order of 50 percent or more) and would rely on nuclear deterrence and continental defense to preserve U.S. independence. And the most extreme isolationists would favor reducing foreign trade and immigration, getting out of the U.N. and other institutions, and trying to cut the United States off from the rest of the world.

The overwhelming majority of people who have doubts about the wisdom of deeper involvement in Syria — including yours truly — are not "isolationist." They are merely sensible people who recognize that we may not have vital interests there, that deeper involvement may not lead to a better outcome and could make things worse, and who believe that the last thing the United States needs to do is to get dragged into yet another nasty sectarian fight in the Arab/Islamic world. But many of these same skeptics still favor American engagement in key strategic areas, support maintaining a strong defense capability, and see some U.S. allies as assets rather than liabilities.

Hawks like to portray opponents of military intervention as "isolationist" because they know it is a discredited political label. Yet there is a coherent case for a more detached and selective approach to U.S. grand strategy, and one reason that our foreign policy establishment works so hard to discredit is their suspicion that a lot of Americans might find it convincing if they weren’t constantly being reminded about looming foreign dangers in faraway places. The arguments in favor of a more restrained grand strategy are far from silly, and the approach makes a lot more sense to than neoconservatives’ fantasies of global primacy or liberal hawks’ fondness for endless quasi-humanitarian efforts to reform whole regions." ...

http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/05/01/sloppy-journalism-at-the-new-york-t…

Re: Retrenchment:

" ... The best way to understand Mr. Obama’s predicament is to compare it with that of previous presidents who wound down major wars. He’s not the first to promise a less expensive, more sustainable foreign policy at a time when the country feels overextended. Dwight D. Eisenhower after Korea, Richard M. Nixon after Vietnam, and the first George Bush, after the Cold War, said much the same thing. Their less-is-more record contains good news for Mr. Obama, and clear warnings.

The public has always supported presidents who get America out of stalemated wars. In their first terms, Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon and Obama reassembled a foreign-policy consensus and were decisively re-elected. Mr. Obama has not lost the argument that America needs relief from global burdens. Polls show the public has no more enthusiasm for the Afghanistan war than he does. ...

National decisions to retrench, moreover, are not quickly reversed. The military build-downs of the 1950s, ’70s and ’90s lasted longer than the buildups before them. The huge post-9/11 surge in Pentagon spending may take a decade to roll back. So, if the president wants a breather to focus resources on domestic needs, he is likely to get it.

Past retrenchments bring good news for Mr. Kerry, too. Military downsizing has never ruled out diplomatic activism. The two go hand in hand. To reduce East-West tensions, Eisenhower proposed Atoms for Peace, Open Skies, a nuclear test ban and more. Nixon pursued his “Generation of Peace” through an opening to China, détente with the Soviet Union, and Henry A. Kissinger’s razzle-dazzle Middle East diplomacy. Even the first President Bush, whose last two years were a mini-retrenchment, had his own big-think slogan, a “New World Order.”

These presidents sought global stability with less American policing. By comparison, Mr. Obama’s rhetoric is standard stuff. Critics ping him for wanting to heal the planet and reconcile with adversaries. But that’s how presidents in retrenchment talk. Mopping up after disaster requires compensatory inspiration. ... "

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/10/opinion/the-price-of-pulling-back-fro…

Thus, re: retrenchment (not isolationism), President Obama to be seen as being in good company; with Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon and Bush Sr. also being known by this exact same "retrenchment" (not isolationist) label?

So the only thing for us to debate now, it would seem, is:

a. Whether Obama's potential losses on our periphery today (those potential losses, for example, in the Middle East and on the Russian boarderlands),

b. Losses/sacrifices/tradeoffs which are common, classic and consistent with a grand strategy of "retrenchment,"

c. Whether these such potential "losses" are to be seen as being as wise and as prudent (or not) as those such peripheral losses/sacrifices/tradeoffs which were made by our other presidents (Eisenhower, Nixon, Bush Sr.) who, like President Obama today, sought and pursued a grand strategy of "retrenchment."

Outlaw 09

Sat, 09/12/2015 - 4:59pm

A very brutal assessment of the Obama failures in Syria—

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2015/09/12/Obama…

Obama has a ‘heart like railroad steel’ on Syria

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Hisham Melhem

Former President George W. Bush bequeathed to Barack Obama a precarious and partially broken Arab World. A spectacularly ambitious imperial attempt at remaking the region, beginning in Mesopotamia, crumbled mightily in the inhospitable desert of Iraq.

The dream of planting a Jeffersonian democracy in the land of the two rivers, metamorphosed into an unprecedented sectarian bloodletting. Bush’s freedom agenda, coming after he admitted – correctly – that for more than fifty years U.S. administrations neglected human rights in the Middle East in the name of maintaining stability, the free flow of oil, and striking alliances against the Soviet Union, was ill-conceived, naively pursued, and badly executed.

Bush’s ‘War on Terrorism’ was equally flawed; Al-Qaeda was cut to pieces, but like the mythical Hydra it metastasized and produced the monstrous ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS). But hard as it is to conceive, President Obama will bequeath to his successor a breathtakingly pulverized – figuratively and, yes, physically – region, where in some states like Syria and Iraq whole communities have been uprooted and once great ancient cities have been ransacked, and precious cultural and religious jewels have been destroyed.

“The President will be judged as an accomplice in the historic betrayal of the Syrian people, and in the creation of the worst refugee problem in the Middle East in a century.”

There are no more streets in some Syrian cities; The Assad regime turned them into shallow valleys of broken concrete, twisted metal and shattered personal artifacts indicating that they were once full of life. If hell has streets, they will surely look like the streets of Syria’s cities today. It shall be written, that the words of a sitting American President in the second decade of the 21st century justifying his inaction and his inane silence in the face of the staggering savagery of the Syrian regime – which repeatedly used chemical weapons, barrel bombs, medieval sieges and starvation against his own people – were stunning in their moral vacuity. The President of the United States will be judged as an accomplice in the historic betrayal of the Syrian people – and, to a lesser extent, the Iraqi and Libyan peoples – and in the creation of the worst refugee problem in the Middle East in a century.

Whose responsibility is it anyway?

Surely, the primary responsibility for the agonies of the peoples of the Middle East lies in the hands of the political and cultural classes that inherited the new political structures erected in modern times by the colonial powers over the remnants of old civilizations.

True, European powers drew artificial boundaries – most countries have such borders – not taking into consideration the wishes of the affected peoples, whose promises were rarely honored. This left behind wounds that have yet to heal. But in subsequent years, the ideologues of Arab Nationalism and Political Islam, the military strongmen who perfected military coups along with some atavistic hereditary rulers maintained the ossified status quo or destroyed nascent and relatively open, diverse societies and representative forms of governance in countries like Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Tunisia.

However, Western meddling and military intervention contributed to the rise of Arab autocracy and despotism. The American invasion of Iraq did not cause sectarianism in that tortured land; that dormant scourge was awakened by years of Ba’athist despotism and Saddam Hussein’s decision to invade Iran in 1980.

But the way the American invasion was conceived and executed accelerated Iraq’s descent into the abyss. Hence America’s partial political and moral responsibility for Iraq’s current torment. President Obama’s eagerness to disengage himself and his administration from Bush’s Iraq burden explains his reticence to push for a residual force after 2011, or to seriously and personally continue to engage Iraqis and help those forces willing to live in a unitary civil state, his deafness to repeated warnings that former Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki’s sectarian policies were deepening the sectarian fissures, makes him a partial owner of Iraq’s chaos.

A red (like in blood) line

In neighboring Syria, decades of military rule, and Ba’athist tyranny that was punctuated by violent upheavals and dark periods of repression, gave way to a tremendous popular and peaceful uprising in the spring of 2011 following those in Tunisia and Egypt.

“Assad, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, and the rulers of Iran took the measure of President Obama and they knew that they would get away with murder. And they did.”

The Assad regime responded by the application of gradual violence against a civilian movement calling for change, an end to the state of emergency, and political representation. Every qualitative violent escalation on the part of the Syrian regime – the use of the air force, barrel bombs, Scud missiles and chemical weapons – was taken after carefully watching and gaging Washington’s reaction. Assad, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, and the rulers of Iran took the measure of President Obama and they knew that they would get away with murder. And they did, in Syria, Iraq and the Ukraine. In 2011 President Obama cavalierly called on Assad to ‘step aside’ without any serious thoughts to the options available to him after the inevitable ‘go ahead and make me’ that he was warned would come from Assad. During the deliberation that preceded the president’s call on Assad, a very experienced Syria expert cautioned against the move unless the President was willing to back his words with action. One young advisor to the President, his principle wordsmith, dismissed such prudent advice, saying with churlish arrogance betraying his own ignorance of Syria that Assad will soon be swept from power by the winds of the ‘Arab Spring’ just like Presidents Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt.

Unsheathing swords and cocking guns

For a President who defined his political career by words and speeches, Obama acts at times as if his words carry the power of actions. On his own initiative he drew a virtual red line for Assad in 2012, warning that his use of chemical weapons will mean that he has crossed that bloody line, a violation that will force the President to change his calculus.

It was supposed to be Assad’s Rubicon. Once again, the lisping tinhorn dictator of Syria (beautifully described by an astute American diplomat in a cable as the ‘self-proclaimed Pericles of Damascus’) paid no heed to the American President. In one attack in August 2013 against a suburb of Damascus more than 1400 Syrian civilians, many of them children, were killed by chemical weapons. The scorned President huffed and puffed and issued threats backed by dispatching military assets to the Syrian coasts. Then the President took a walk with another young advisor and supposedly saw the folly of delivering on his words, and once again he flinched. On August 31, 2013, another American day that should live in infamy, he informed a stunned world of his (in)decision. Mighty America shrunk on that day. The word of the American President was no longer the coin of the realm. One could imagine Putin’s smug smile, and almost hears Assad’s nervous loud laugh.

The Arabs of olden days used to say that an honorable man should not unsheathe his sword unless he intends to use it. For ordinary people this is unbecoming, like breaking your word or reneging on a promise. For a ruler it could be a fatal mistake. I remember after writing this observation that I was thrilled when I heard former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in a televised interview saying that he warned President Obama about issuing threats if he is not ready to act upon them. Gates reminded the President of a saying in the old West; don’t cock the gun unless you are willing to pull the trigger.

“For a president who did not want to do ‘stupid stuff’ in foreign policy, his approach to Syria is akin to a case of criminal negligence.”

President Lyndon B. Johnson went to his grave haunted by the ghosts of Vietnam. President George W. Bush will live the rest of his life being tormented by the nightmares of Iraq, even if he claims he is not. President Obama’s catastrophic policies towards Syria will be a blot on his legacy. For a president who did not want to do ‘stupid stuff’ in foreign policy, his approach to Syria is akin to a case of criminal negligence.

A damaged legacy

President Obama’s attitude towards Syria says a lot about how he sees American power and how he sees the Middle East. He seems to be always cognizant of America’s limited power, and what he perceives as its shrinking ability to still do great things on its own. In Libya, he pursued a limited military role, leading from behind and hoping for the best and placing his faith solely in air power. He shirked the tedious political follow-up after the fall of the Libyan dictator, and in fact he admitted to that error.

Early in his first term President Obama wanted to have a new beginning with the Muslim world. That took him to Ankara and Cairo to pursue that path. And he extended an open hand to the hostile regimes in Iran and Syria. He also tried to stop the building of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories. Then he was hit in the face by the so-called Arab Spring where he reluctantly withdrew his support for Egypt’s Mubarak. In a few months his Middle East policies began to meet the hard men and the harsher realities of the region. The Iranians maintained their clenched fist; the Assad regime went through the ritual of dialogue but was never serious about changing its ways in Lebanon or the region. Netanyahu stiffed Obama on settlements, and the ill winds of the season of uprisings, plunged Libya in a civil war, and put Egypt under a precarious military rule, and the fires reached Syria. Obama took a second look at the region and realized that he has to invest a huge political and moral capital without guaranteed success… and he flinched.

In his second term, the long arduous road to Persia began to open slowly for a nuclear deal. Ever since, Obama’s eyes were focused on that prize, at the expense of other pressing challenges. Meanwhile, Syria continued to bleed and die slowly. And from the beginning, and even before the Assad regime militarized the uprising, Obama looked at the conflict as someone else’s civil war. He derisively referred to the Syrian opposition as ‘former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth’ (words that could be used to describe the American rebels fighting for independence) before abandoning them to the tender mercies of Assad’s barrel bombs and the depredations of ISIS, when ISIS did not exist as an effective fighting terror army. The President wanted to believe the fiction that there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria, when the Assad regime and his Russian and Iranian sponsors always acted and believed that they will prevail only by the sword. Obama was not even serious when he claimed that the limited programs of training and equipping the moderate Syrian opposition were designed to force the Assad regime and his backers to the negotiating table. Truth be told, President Obama betrayed Syria for the sake of a nuclear deal with Iran. To paraphrase Saint Luke, what good is it for a president to gain a temporary deal, and yet lose his very self?

Deception

What was most maddening was the sheer length the president went to when he engaged in the worst use of sophistry during his tenure to misleadingly frame the arguments of his critics by claiming that they want him to ‘invade’ Syria, when in fact not a single serious expert on Syria called for such a thing. This is as deceptive, as his argument that those opposed to the nuclear deal with Iran, are pushing for war with the Islamic Republic. Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry were repeatedly misled by Russia. A few weeks ago, the President himself more than hinted that Russia is seriously willing to engage in a political process that will end in Assad’s departure. General John Allen, the President’s Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, said three weeks ago that the Russians have told Secretary Kerry that they are ‘tired’ of Assad and are willing to move beyond him, that they may be able to lean on Iran to show some flexibility. Instead, both Russia and Iran are doubling down and qualitatively increasing their support for Assad. Russia has sent advisors and Special Forces and Marines to Tartus and Latakia. The U.S. is confirming these reports but it admits that it has no idea about their mission. The Obama administration is reduced to asking Moscow for explanations, for telling the Russians about its ‘deep concerns’ about these military moves. The Obama administration in dealing with the Russians and the Iranians is variously pleading, beseeching, and imploring. Words like these re-inforce the views of President Putin and Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei that the President of the United States is willing to go the extra mile not to jeopardize the chances of implementing the nuclear deal and to secure Russian cooperation regarding Syria.

“Hard as it is to believe, but the worst is yet to come in Syria, for the Syrians as well as for the region and beyond.”

The worst is yet to come

What we see in Syria today, could be the shape of things to come in other parts of the region. The foreign fighters, and the endless river of refugees are threatening Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey where almost four million Syrian refugees currently and precariously reside. It is a question of time before Lebanon and Jordan implode. Violence has reached Turkey. With each passing day the chances for an acceptable political outcome are shrinking, and the chances of a permanent breakup of Syria and Iraq increase. Hard as it is to believe, but the worst is yet to come in Syria, for the Syrians as well as for the region and beyond. The best and the brightest of Syria are leaving the country to join a Syrian nation of refugees on the move. Most, if not all, will not return. Thus rebuilding Syria – if such a possibility is within reach in the foreseeable future – will become next to impossible.

Outlaw 09

Sat, 09/12/2015 - 3:51pm

Maybe Kerry, Obama and the entire NSC should read this----seems social media is far better informed about Russian military activities in Syria than the entire IC.

MEMRI published an in-depth review of Arab media reports on Russian military activities in Syria---one of the best collection of media reporting----

http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/8750.htm

September 11, 2015 Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No.1184

Media Affiliated With Assad Regime Confirm Reports Of Russian Military Involvement In Syria

By: N. Mozes*

Outlaw 09

Sat, 09/12/2015 - 1:24am

Bill C--retrenchment equals in the language of the old Cold War "isolationism" plane and simple.

This President has not had a single strategic strategy in place in the last six years---it is foreign policy by the flag pole--meaning I will react with a big R when the wind blows it in a direction--THEN I will make some statements, makes a few small moves and then PRAY.

Yes we cannot be the eternal policeman of the world but at some point it needs a grown up and right now that grown up runs from any responsibility.

I have been harping about Putin from the very moment he entered into Crimea as the existential threat to the US from day one and I have not wavered one bit from that estimate--Putin is not the old Soviet leadership who clearly understood the red lines and basically was interested in protecting the "Revolution".

Putin is a fascist imperialist expansionist and that mixture we have not seen for a long long number of years and he is not afraid of going nuclear--remember he cancelled in fact MAD.

Coming into office he should have known this--not learning it from the newspapers--this NSC as I keep repeating is a total failure.

NO PLAN come on Bill even you must admit that is strange for a President and a 700 person NSC and the entire IC that has cost this country billions in the last 14 years to build.

Russia's new air base in Syria has Obama scrambling for a plan, reports [/B]@joshrogin http://bv.ms/1JZRtnu via @BV

Outlaw 09

Fri, 09/11/2015 - 3:19pm

Bill C--now we are finally seeing what I have written a number of times here and on the Ukraine war thread--Putin wants a completely new Yalta.

I would bet that his actions in the Ukraine and Syria are in fact designed to drive that conversation.

Question is will Obama cave and give him his new spheres of influence as he did in pressuring the Ukraine into unilateral appeasement moves with no reciprocal demands on Putin.

MFA Russia ✔ @mfa_russia
Russia called for development of dialogue on consolidating the Yalta-Potsdam system & the #UN Charter http://goo.gl/OpyJVZ @RF_OSCE

Outlaw 09

Fri, 09/11/2015 - 2:36pm

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill--this is why we cannot get any strategy out of this President--his own chaotic foreign policy has caused the massive civilian loss of life in Syria and put millions on the roads as refugees and IDPs.

THEN silence when he is challenged by Putin--there is no explanation for the lack of action---and words are not action.

Remember the Syrian issue has been going on and is about to cross into five years-not five days or months-five years and not a single attempt by the US to do something until IS rolls into Iraq--THEN it appears as if we have woken up from our sleep walking and discover IS as grown into a major force in the ME.

Perfect example of Obama----the EU is taking in thousands of those refugees that largely could have been avoided if Obama had taken some kind of action over the last five years.

THEN Kerry first stated the US might take 17K Syrians in 2016 BUT then Obama announces 10K.

THEN this--

WH warns could take 2 years to vet & process 10,000 #Syria #refugees it said it would accept. Took Germany less than 24 hours. #justsaying

We as a civil society are so scared of our shadows ie anything that smacks of an Islamist-- that we can no longer understand the world around us.

That is the current foreign policy--weave, bob, dive and dance --do anything-- BUT not take action.

AND that is not Wilsonian????

You wonder why the countries of the ME and Europe are asking themselves just what is it the US wants because we ourselves have no earthly idea??

Heck we cannot even exploit this major dispute as we have no UW strategy entailing a heavy informational warfare as this WH has no strategy for virtually anything.

JIHADIS NOW AT IT! - #AlQaeda 'declares war' on #ISIS - http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/al-qaeda-declares-war-isis-6422… … pic.twitter.com/6UnG5wFeHQ

Bill C.

Fri, 09/11/2015 - 1:24pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Outlaw:

As to why our current president does not use hard power, the answer seems to be found in the idea of "retrenchment," which seems to accept that:

a. There may be losses -- of less important entities on the periphery (Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan today?) -- and that

b. Hard power, quite logically and re: retrenchment, will not be used -- in any significant way -- to prevent/reverse these such peripheral (un-important/less-important?) losses.

Simply put, I believe "retrenchment" suggests that our "forward-leaning" expansionist operations on the periphery (Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan today) -- these must take, for the time being, a logical back seat to other, more pressing requirements; these, relating more to our nation's "core" needs and requirements.

Outlaw 09

Fri, 09/11/2015 - 12:53pm

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill C-

This is again not retrenchment---in the Wilsonian world there was a clear decision after WW1 and with all the related European destruction the natural US instinct was to pull back and not get involved in the various regional/European issues--this went so far as to pass a federal law stating the US was to never get involved in a war.

Historically if we look at the entire history of the US foreign policy from the Revolutionary period to now the US has a drift towards isolationism---sometimes more sometimes less--but it is inherently there.

BTW--we have as a national foreign policy an equal drive towards expansionism so this cycle of expansion and withdrawal is natural for the US.

After the years of war since 9/11 that there is a drift to isolation does not surprise me BUT what surprises me is this President's drive and it is a drive to completely pull out using the somewhat vague argument "we cannot solve all the world's problems".

If one wants to pull out--then make sure a plan and partners are in place--have you seen that at all???

This is and has been correctly viewed by Putin as weakness.

WHY would the Russians send their most advanced AD systems which BTW are also in the Ukraine WHEN IS has not a single aircraft or drone capable of firing a single missile at anyone in the entire ME.

Putin claims to be wanting to led a war against the IS BUT this AD system is vast overkill for a non IS threat BUT it is effective at threatening US/NATO aircraft.

Russia is sending advanced air defences to Syria http://read.bi/1ESpaZ8 pic.twitter.com/SZPtNJv95Y

If this was a natural US withdrawal cycle as in the past history has shown us THEN a President who fully understands hard power usually has no problem in using it--BUT this President does have a problem with hard power and does not use it.

The core question is ---WHY????

Bill C.

Fri, 09/11/2015 - 12:42pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Outlaw:

As per our discussion below regarding President Obama's Eisenhower/Nixon-like strategy of "retrenchment," should we not understand (as does Putin and others?) that we are likely to be more vulnerable on the periphery -- which, under "retrenchment" comes to be seen as less important/more of a liability than an asset?

From your referenced "War on the Rocks" article:

"The objective is to deter a forward-leaning Western policy on its periphery, limit the NATO military response to exercises and symbolism, and effectively retain a free hand to shape events on the ground in Ukraine."

With the U.S./the West in a necessary "retrenchment" mode -- which quite naturally/normally incurs "losses" on the periphery -- this becomes rather easy for Putin to do. Yes?

Thus the question becomes, are such losses (include Iraq and Afghanistan here?) -- in the grand strategic (retrenchment) scheme of things -- thought to be, more or less, necessary/inevitable?

Outlaw 09

Fri, 09/11/2015 - 11:56am

For those that think Putin does not have a strategy and is driving on that strategy both in the Ukraine and Syria--AND it is fully aimed at the US and NATO.

http://warontherocks.com/2015/09/put...han-you-think/
Putin’s Strategy is Far Better than You Think

New Russian threat against NATO and especially the US—notice how Putin applies pressure on Obama who he fully understands is reluctant to use hard power.

Maxim Tucker @MaxRTucker
#Russia to US: Talk to us in #Syria or risk 'unintended incidents'. Ie Russian air defences shooting down NATO planes http://uk.mobile.reuters.com/article/idUKKCN0RB0ZL20150911?irpc=932

AND as always-in the background when Putin threatens Obama--the Russian nuclear threat.

#Russia sends world’s largest submarine, with 200 #nukes, to #Syria
http://osnetdaily.com/2015/09/russia-sends-worlds-largest-submarine-wit… … …

Outlaw 09

Thu, 09/10/2015 - 11:58am

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill C--yes it is Wilson all over.

Obama is not placing the US foreign policy on a more sustainable foundation--just as Kasparov says--by creating constant vacuums ie the Ukraine, ie Iraq, ie Syria, ie the Iranian deal that did not in fact address the inherent Iranian revolutionary Islam of Khomeini.

OR red line after red line that was ignored or the bailing on Libya OR stating in 2014 "we will judge Putin on his actions not his words" AND after the Debaltseve fighting 2015 "if the fighting continues we will make Russia hurt" and on and on......does this sound like an individual that is willing to back up his words with actions OR a negotiator who just wants the problem to disappear.

AND now in Syria--all we hear is Kerry--not a single formal word from Obama--why is that??

When US FP has basically evaporated in less than 8 years and there are a large number of allies and former allies who do not fully understand just what the US wants--then I would say we are in chaos.

Remember Obama's greatest experience is and was his period as a neighborhood activist ie negotiationist and that is the experience he now uses--that is the root of this soft power. Soft power from the local community--not developed in years of foreign relations experience or in an academic environment built to challenge it--but just a local community.

He went from junior Senator into the WH--he did not even stop to gain experience there.

My experience with negotiators--they are basically not types to use hard power.

Garry Kasparov ✔ @Kasparov63

My new op-ed in @WSJ on Obama's "do no harm" policy: "Power abhors a vacuum, as the US retreats the space is filled." http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-rewards-of-the-obama-doctrine-1441841431

Bill C.

Thu, 09/10/2015 - 11:01am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Outlaw:

Rather than "a deep Wilsonian withdrawal phase of US foreign policy" might we, instead, look at our current president's approach through the following lens:

"We find a very different pattern when we look at presidents who had to cope with a second type of failure: that of overcommitment. Here Eisenhower and Nixon are classic examples. Both were Cold War presidents charged with closing down stalemated wars at bearable costs. Their job was to unwind disasters and to put American foreign policy on a more sustainable foundation. They sought to calm an angry public, to shift responsibilities to friends and allies, to explore accommodation with adversaries, to narrow commitments and to reduce costs."

http://www.amazon.com/Maximalist-America-World-Truman-Obama/dp/03072681…

Thus, to see Obama today -- not in a Wilsonian light, as you suggest -- but, rather, from the necessary "retrenchement" perspective offered by other presidents (Eisenhower; Nixon); who, like President Obama, were faced with similar foreign policy disasters/overextensions/unsustainable commitments?

Outlaw 09

Thu, 09/10/2015 - 8:11am

Bill C---notice more evidence of nothing but lip service by DoS Kerry---also further evidence of a lack of any strategic strategy whatsoever in the ME and to some degree confirms moves made by the WH are done so as to not damage the historical legacy.

This again proves we are in a deep Wilsonian withdrawal phase of US foreign policy to the point of hiding behind the Atlantic and Pacific "walls" and letting the rest of the world do what it wants following the mantra "a US President cannot resolve all the world's problems". But wait is that not what one gets a Nobel Peace prize for??

Appears as well that Obama, Kerry and the entire NSC fail to fully understand Putin's three geo political goals which he just expanded to actually four.

1. discredit and damage NATO
2. discredit and damage the EU
3. totally disconnect the Us from Europe
NOW the fourth one--
4. totally disconnect the US from the ME

Michael Weiss

09.10.151:05 AM ET

Putin Sends His Dirty War Forces to Syria

The Kremlin isn’t sending just any troops to prop up the Assad regime. It’s dispatching units that spearheaded Russia’s slow-rolling invasion of Ukraine.

Reuters confirmed Wednesday what The Daily Beast first reported last week—not only have Russian troops been deployed to Syria but they are indeed taking part in active combat operations, although against which of the manifold enemies of the Assad regime remains unclear.

U.S. government sources told the news agency that two tank landing ships, aircraft and naval infantry forces have arrived in Syria in the past 24 hours, with the largest buildup occurring in Latakia, the northwest coastal province—ancestral home of the Assad family—which Islamist rebels have been fiercely contesting of late. Russia, Reuters confirmed, is constructing a new airfield in Latakia, which would represents its second military installation in Syria after its decades-old naval supply base in Tartus, also its only warm-water port since the end of the Soviet Union.

One U.S. intelligence official told The Daily Beast that Moscow likely taken the decision to directly intervene in the four-and-a-half-year civil war following opposition gains, contrary to what Vladimir Putin told reporters last week—that any such talk was “premature.”

“Russia’s military involvement raises a number of concerns, especially because it does not appear to be coordinated with the other countries operating in the area,” the official said. “It is not clear what Russian intends to actually do. However, Russia has generally not exercised restraint in military confrontations.”

A oft-cited fear in the U.S. is that Russia won’t target ISIS, or only ISIS, but also Free Syrian Army rebels who may be working with the CIA or Pentagon.

But what’s most interesting about this news isn’t that Putin has unilaterally decided to rescue his embattled client in Damascus—it’s the kind of Russian troops he’s using to do it. Some of them are from the same units that spearheaded Russia’s year-and-a-half-long dirty war in Ukraine, which may now be in abeyance.

“It is not clear what Russian intends to actually do. However, Russia has generally not exercised restraint in military confrontations.”

An investigation by Ruslan Leviev, a specialist in social-media intelligence, the soldiers are from the 810th Marine Brigade, which is based in Sevastopol, Crimea. The 810th is one of the few units of the Black Sea Fleet known to have played an active role in Russia’s military takeover of the Ukrainian peninsula 18 months ago.

The deployment of an elite unit from Crimea, which inaugurated Russia’s standoff with the West, is an intriguing choice. Moscow has spent enormous resources moving troops into Crimea and eastern Ukraine over the past year. Moving even some of them out of the area to a different conflict zone, particularly one outside of Europe, gives the lie that sanctions and diplomatic isolation have forced the Kremlin into compromise; rather, Russia appears ready and willing to take on multiple wars at once.

Doing so requires a delicate balancing of the ledger, however. Moscow’s belligerence in Syria coincided almost exactly with its (relative) enforcement of a year-old and serially violated ceasefire in Ukraine.

Not that the war in the Donbas has stopped completely. On Tuesday, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Monitoring Mission in Ukraine noted that in Schastye, a fulcrum town in Lugansk, one of the two regions occupied by pro-Russian rebels in east Ukraine, “16 explosions assessed as heavy artillery at a location south-west of its position” were recorded. Moreover, there were close to 100 more explosions registered in Donetsk City as “outgoing,” meaning fired by rebels. Oleksandr Turchynov, the secretary for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, has said that the lull in fighting is a feint by Russia to build up materiel and troops behind the front-line in preparation for another big offensive, which, he said, could occur “at any time,” though Turchynov doesn’t expect this to happen before the three-week U.N. General Assembly in New York, which starts on September 15.

Indeed, as Reuters also reported today, Russia’s Defense Ministry is currently building a 6,000 square-meter military complex to house “3,500 soldiers, warehouses for rockets, artillery weapons, and other munitions” in Valuyki, a village about 15 miles away from Ukraine’s border. Bases such as these, NATO has alleged, are how Russia trains its proxies in Ukraine and keeps them steadily resupplied with tanks and anti-aircraft and radar guidance systems.

Also telling is Putin’s move to call a snap drill of a reported 95,000 troops in the Central Military District—and to mobilize assets for it, including attack helicopters, in the Southern Military District, which abuts Ukraine. Significantly, the exercise includes airborne and air transport forces.

The move comes just before the “Centre-2015” exercise, also to be held in the Central Military District, and also to include tens of thousands of troops. While such tests of readiness are not in themselves unusual in the Russian military, their effect is to give Russia a broad pool of forces able to move immediately, without having to provide any other explanation than, “It’s just an exercise.”

Putin previously called just such an exercise on February 26, 2014, creating a massive and ready military force just four days after he had decided on the annexation of Crimea. At that time, his Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said almost exactly, “It’s just an exercise,” when questioned by observers.

Moreover, one of relatively few units from outside the Central Military District to be named as taking part in the drill is the 98th air-assault division based in Ivanovo, east of Moscow. Elements of the 98th are known (PDF) to have fought in Ukraine, and to have sustained significant losses there. It is thus not just highly-trained but battle-hardened. If Putin had decided to reinforce Russia’s combat presence in Syria quickly, the 98th would be a logical choice.

That Putin may be keeping one conflict frozen but oven-ready to start cooking another is also suggested in his diplomatic maneuvering and messaging in the last week. He has reportedly negotiated overflight rights to Syria for Russian military transport planes with Greece and with Iran and called for the creation of an “international coalition against terrorism and extremism,” to include the U.S., knowing that his definition of terrorism and extremism encompasses many American partners in Syria.

Furthermore, building up a garrison in Syria absent any coordination with Washington but coinciding with talk of future coordination is a hallmark of a KGB president looking to get the better of his counterparts: establish a fait accompli, then negotiate the terms of the West’s surrender to it.

Putin knows that the U.S. may be tacitly OK with seeing Russia directly safeguard “state institutions” in Damascus—i.e., the Syrian army and the security services responsible for the bulk of the country’ carnage—especially as ISIS creeps ever closer to the capital. He need only read U.S. newspapers, which cite anonymous White House officials objectively supporting Assad’s longevity, to glean as much. He also knows that calls for Russia to “stop arming and assisting and supporting Bashar al-Assad” can be met with an implied, “Yeah, yeah” because the U.S. will never come close to arming and support Assad’s opposition in a commensurate manner.

Finally, anti-Americanism is now a central plank of Russian foreign policy which depicts Russia as the only nation brave enough to stand up to American hegemony. Rebuffing and outfoxing Washington is a now a national pastime.

It was U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, after all, who went to Sochi last May to cinch Putin’s assistance in reanimating the corpse of a Syria peace process—and ended up criticizing Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, a putative U.S. ally, while there. Now Putin has returned the executive gratitude by redoubling his support for Assad, and daring the U.S. to stop him. That he has done so quickly, and with the help of the Islamic Republic—another anti-American regime he’s meant to be helping the U.S. constrain—is just the cherry on top.

As ever, the heads-I-win-tails-you-lose conundrum only pays off because the West is so willing to play along. Any number of European leaders have not so subtly indicated that they’d be quite happy to barter for an end to an older Russian war in Europe in exchange for a newer Russian war in the Middle East.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 09/09/2015 - 9:13am

Bill C--
For those that do not believe there is an ideology to Putin’s actions TAKE note-------

http://debateolavodugin.blogspot.de/2011/07/dugins-conclusion.html
Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dugin's Conclusion
Against Post-Modern World

I would like, at the conclusion of this debate with Mr. Carvalho, to sum up the most important points:

Now I see that he was rather right in the beginning stressing that the asymmetry in our respective positions would eventually damage the whole task. So it was. I don’t see any use in continuing the mutual critics because it doesn’t help understand anything at all (for us and for the readers). I can now sincerely confess that I find the position of Mr. Carvalho too personal, idiosyncratic and irrelevant. So I would like to concentrate myself on other theoretical points that seem to me of real importance for the cause of the Tradition, of anti-imperialist and antimodern struggle that is my first and only concern.

First of all I insist that the current world is unipolar with the global West in its centre and with the United States as its core. The opposite arguments of Mr. Carvalho didn’t convince me at all.

This kind of the unipolarity has geopolitical and ideological sides. Geopolitically is the strategic dominance of the earth by North-American hyperpower and the effort of Washington to organize the balance of forces on the planet in such a manner to be able to rule the whole world in accordance with its own national (imperialistic) interests. It is bad because it deprives other states and nations of their real sovereignty.
When there is only one instance to decide who is right and who is wrong and who should be punished we have a kind of the global dictatorship.

I am convinced that is not acceptable. So we should fight against it. If someone deprives us from our freedom we have to react. And we will. The American Empire should be destroyed. And at one point it will be.
Ideologically the unipolarity is based on the Modernist and Post-Modernist values that are openly anti-traditional ones. I share the vision of Rene Guenon and Julius Evola who considered the Modernity and its ideological basis (the individualism, the liberal democracy, the capitalism, the comfortism and so on) to be the cause of the future catastrophe of the humanity and global domination of the Western attitudes as the reason of final degradation of the earth.

The West is approaching to its end and we should not let it push all the rest with it into the abyss.
Spiritually the globalization is the creation of the Grand Parody, the kingdom of the Antichrist. And the United States is in centre of its expansion.

The American values pretend to be “universal” ones. That it is new form of ideological aggression against the multiplicity of the cultures and the traditions still existing in the other parts of the world. I am resolutely against the Western values that are essential Modernist and Post-Modernist ones and promulgated by the United States by force or by the obtrusion (Afghanistan, Iraq, now Libya, tomorrow Syria and Iran) .

So, all traditionalists should be against the West and the globalization as well as against the imperialist politics of United States. It is the only logical and consequent position. So the traditionalists and the partisans of the traditional principles and values should oppose the West and defend the Rest (if the Rest shows the signs of the conservation of the Tradition – partly or entirely).

There can be and there are really men in the West and in the United States of America who don’t agree with the present state of things and don’t approve the Modernity and Post-Modernity being the defenders of the spiritual tradition of the Pre-Modern West. They should be with us in our common struggle. They should take part in our revolt against Modern World and Post-Modern world. And we would fight together against a common enemy.

Unfortunately that is not the case of Mr. Carvalho. He shows himself partly critical of the modern Western civilization, but partly agrees with it and attacks its enemies. It is a kind of “semi-conformism” so to say. It is frankly irrelevant and of no interest to me. There are friends and there are foes. Only that matters. All the rest is without any importance. Mr. Carvalho is neither. It is his choice. His anti-soviet and anti-Russian pejorative myths, stupid conspiracy theories, implicit cultural Western racism, the ressentiment to his own native country are not even worth of critics. No comments.

The other question is the structure of the possible anti-globalist and anti-imperialist front and its participants. I think that we should include in it all forces that struggle against the West, the United States, against the liberal democracy, against Modernity and Post-Modernity. The common enemy is the necessary instance for all kinds of political alliances. The Muslims, the Christians, the Russians and the Chinese, the leftists or the rightists, the Hindus or the Jews who challenge the present state of things, the globalization and the American imperialism are virtually friends ands allies.

Let our ideals be different but we have in common one very strong thing: the present reality that we hate. Our ideals that differ are potential (in potentia). But the challenge we are dealing with is actual (in actu). So that is the basis for new alliance. All who share negative analysis of the globalization, westernization and post-modernization should coordinate their effort in creation of new strategy of the resistance to the omnipresent evil. And we can find the «ours» in the United States also – among those who choose the Tradition against the present decadence. Mr Carvalho doesn't belong to such kind of persons. He has convincingly explained that during the debate.

At this point we could raise a really important question: what kind of ideology should we use in our opposition to the globalization and its liberal democratic capitalist and Modernist (Post-Modernist) principles? I think that all anti-liberal ideologies (the communism, socialism as well as fascism) are not anymore relevant. They tried to fight the liberal-capitalism and they failed. Partly because in the end of time it is evil that prevails; partly because of their inner contradictions and limitations. So it is time to make the accomplish deep revision of the antiliberal ideologies of the past. What is their positive side? -

The very fact that they were anti-capitalist and anti-liberal, as well as also anti-cosmopolite and anti-individualist. So these features should be accepted and integrated in the future ideology. But the communism doctrine is Modern, atheist, materialist and cosmopolite. That should be thrown out. On the contrary, the social solidarity, social justice, the socialism and general holistic attitude to the society are good in themselves. So we need to separate the materialist and Modernist aspect and reject them.
On the other hand in the theories of Third way (dear up to certain point to some traditionalists as Julius Evola) there were some unacceptable elements – first of all racism, xenophobia and chauvinism. That is not only moral failures but also theoretically and anthropologically inconsistent attitudes.

The difference between the ethnos doesn't mean superiority or inferiority. The difference should be accepted and affirmed without any racist appreciation. There is not common measure dealing with the different ethnic groups. When one society tries to judge the other it applies its own criteria and so commits the intellectual violence. The same attitude is precisely the crime of the globalization and Westernization, as well as the American imperialism.

Continued---and it goes on.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 09/09/2015 - 8:17am

Bill C--this kind of sums up the current failure of American foreign policy by Obama, Kerry, the entire DoS and a 700 person NSC--heck even a three year old could actually probably do a better job.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/stantis/ct-russia-entering-s…

By Scott Stantis

In an attempt to not crush the evil of ISIS, but rather to shore up the regime of the genocidal Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin's Russia is mobilizing for an intervention. However, never fear, Secretary of State John Kerry has issued a strongly worded condemnation. The Obama administration's Syria policy in a nutshell. Be prepared to witness numerous red-lines-in-the-sand being crossed. ........

Just how much more political embarrassment can a President create??

Hey if I was Putin I would reach for the moon right now as there is nothing coming now from the US other than words, words and more words.

Even Wilson in all his withdrawal phase period had at least a intellectual point of view on the subject of withdrawal from the world--we do not even have that from this administration.

Remember when he was asked about what the strategy was for countering the IS at the very beginning months ago???--he openly stated we have none and there has been none since that statement.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 09/09/2015 - 8:02am

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill C--while I like many of your comments as they force me to reread them a number of times to follow the logic--HERE is the core problem.

This administration IE Obama, Kerry and the entire 700 person NSC has no strategy--OTHER than pull back and disengage--THIS truly does remind me more and more of the Wilsonian FP period in the US. It was dangerous then and it is now just as dangerous as it leads to Putin missing clearly our intentions as he "cannot read the US".

OH by wait.....he does read Obama clearly and concisely---he has come to the decision that Obama is a very weak President and fearful of any confrontation that distracts from the legacy that he trying to establish---a moralistic view of foreign affairs where we are disengaging and allowing others to take the lead.

Remember in the WaPo Ann Applebaum article I posted here--he made a fatal mistake in viewing the Ukraine as a regional issue ie the EU--NOT fully realizing it was a superpower confrontation only occurring in Central Europe just as he viewed Syria as a regional problem.

Well he has made the same exact mistake in Syria---and now if he does not act the creditability of the US in the ME and other locations will be badly damaged for years to come.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mr-putin-makes-moves-in-syria-e…

Mr. Putin makes moves in Syria, exploiting America’s inaction

By Editorial Board September 8 at 8:08 PM

IN JULY, President Obama said he had been “encouraged” by a telephone call Russian President Vladi­mir Putin had initiated to discuss Syria. The Russians, Mr. Obama confidently declared, “get a sense that the Assad regime is losing a grip over greater and greater swaths of territory” and “that offers us an opportunity to have a serious conversation with them.” Not for the first time, Mr. Obama was supposing that Mr. Putin could be enlisted in a diplomatic settlement to the Syrian civil war along lines Washington and its Arab allies support. Not for the first time, the president appears to have badly misread the Russian ruler.

Far from abandoning its support for the Assad regime, Moscow appears to be doubling down. According to numerous reports, Russia is establishing a base at an airfield near an Assad stronghold on the Mediterranean coast and has filed military overflight requests with neighboring countries. Analysts believe Russia may be preparing to deploy 1,000 or more military personnel to Syria and to carry out air operations in support of Assad forces. Syrian rebels already have reported seeing Russian aircraft over territory they control.

The intelligence is serious enough to have prompted Secretary of State John F. Kerry to call Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday and to release a statement saying that he had warned that Russian actions “could further escalate the conflict . . . and risk confrontation” with the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State.

In reality, Mr. Putin’s strategy in Syria has been consistent. All along he has aimed to block any U.S.-backed move to remove Bashar al-Assad from power and aimed to force the West to embrace the regime as a partner in fighting the Islamic State. On Friday, Mr. Putin said his plan for a political transition in Syria, including parliamentary elections and a coalition government with “healthy” opposition factions, had Mr. Assad’s full support, which tells you all you need to know about it.

By preparing to deploy Russian ground and air forces to Syria, Mr. Putin is acknowledging a truth that Mr. Obama has refused to accept: Any political agenda for Syria’s future is meaningless unless it is backed by power on the ground. Mr. Assad will depart, as Mr. Obama has been predicting and urging him to do for four years, only if the balance of military force makes an opposition victory inevitable and imminent. If the United States had provided even the modest support to Syrian rebels that Mr. Obama promised but did not deliver — much less the more muscular effort proposed by many of his advisers — Moscow probably would not risk its own troops and aircraft.

As it is, Mr. Putin likely believes that U.S. weakness gives him an opportunity to tilt the military balance back toward the Assad regime. As Mr. Kerry’s statement put it, the result would be “greater loss of innocent lives” and increased refugee flows. But Moscow, like Damascus, will not be swayed by U.S. rhetoric. If Mr. Obama wishes to see the U.S. vision for Syria prevail over Russia’s, it will take more than phone calls.

The article that Outlaw provides below is very interesting. (See his -- Outlaw 09 | September 8, 2015 - 4:35am -- entry.)

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/08/world/europe/russia-answers-us-critic…

The Russians seem to ask: What is the United States actually up to? What is its (the United States') priority? Is it:

a. Dealing with terrorism -- a la ISIS, AQ, etc.?

b. Or are we simply using our confrontations with terrorists/terrorism as a means to achieving our overriding/overarching political objective -- of transforming outlying states and societies more along modern western political, economic and social lines -- thereby, gaining greater power, influence and control in various regions of the world?

If the primary goal of the U.S. is defeating terrorists/terrorism, then the Russians -- by their actions(?) -- would seem to be saying that they are on board and that they are willing to help.

If, however, the primary goal of the U.S. is to:

a. Use the issue of terrorists/terrorism as

b. A means to decapitate regimes and transform outlying states and societies more along modern western lines, and to, thereby,

c. Gain greater power influence and control in various regions of the world. (For example, in areas of the world which the Russians consider their "sphere of influence"),

Then, does it make sense that the Russians would look favorably upon this such latter enterprise?

Thus, the Russian "presence" in the Russian boarder lands and in Syria:

a. Making their disapproval -- of this latter initiative (which is how they "read" our anti-terrorism/Arab Spring-support efforts?) -- very clear? And, also,

b. Begging the question -- before all the world -- of what is/are the United States' true intentions, in the Middle East and elsewhere?

Outlaw 09

Mon, 09/07/2015 - 1:59pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

On the same day @mfa_russia says "no RU troops in Syria", actual RU marines with guns post their [geotagged] photos. WHAT'S GOING ON??

Yesterday in Tartus, Syria: now we have the exact brigade id. pic.twitter.com/VsJEPz5XJQ

Confirmation of the Russian fighting in the posted video yesterday—fighting NOT advising……
Ukrainian activists saying this BTR-82 belongs to В/ч 61899 СЕВАСТОПОЛЬСКАЯ 27 ОМСБр pic.twitter.com/NrCsumE3Hk

336 Baltic-navy brigade, now in Syria, was previously sent twice near the Ukraine border https://informnapalm.org/3133-podrazdelenye-336-j-brygady-morskoj-pehot…

Outlaw 09

Mon, 09/07/2015 - 1:25pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

More Russian weaponization of information on Syria---tone is changing and getting harsher---

West meddled in social engineering in MidEast and results are knocking on its door. They try to drag RU into this" http://www.rus.rusemb.org.uk/fnapr/4527

AND more of the same weaponization theme---
Sputnik International

17:17 07.09.2015(updated 18:20 07.09.2015)

Western media earlier reported that Russia had allegedly made a deal with the United States and Saudi Arabia on ousting Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russia considers recent media reports indicating changes in its stance on Syria and the future of President Bashar Assad as false allegations aimed at shifting responsibility for the failure of Western policies in the Middle East, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday.

"Russia consistently and determinedly supports the strict implementation of the Geneva communique on Syria adopted on June 30, 2012, adhering the norms and principles of the international law and respecting the sovereignty of other states," ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

"I would like to reiterate that Russia does not practice social engineering, we do not appoint or dismiss foreign presidents, being it on our own will or in agreement with somebody else. It concerns Syria and other states in the region, which are able to decide their future by themselves," Zakharova stressed.

Russia Never Concealed Hardware Deliveries to Syrian Government
Syria has been mired in civil war since 2011 as government forces loyal to President Assad have been fighting several opposition and radical Islamist militant groups, including Nusra Front and Islamic State.

A number of Western countries have long supported what they call "moderate" rebel fighters, while Russia has repeatedly stated that Assad is the legitimate president of Syria, and that the people of Syria must choose their government and leaders without outside intervention.

In August, the Syrian president said that he highly appreciated Russia's assistance, by which Moscow had proved its firm position in supporting Damascus during the military conflict.

http://sputniknews.com/politics/20150907/1026698433.html#ixzz3l4fTVk00

Outlaw 09

Mon, 09/07/2015 - 12:46pm

Putin is now calling out Obama with his Syrian Express naval operation in full swing and the parallel airlift starting-----

Putin is going all-in for his boy Assad. To show Obama as weak, powerless, and unreliable. Because he can. He knows it. The world watches.

RU Foreign Ministry: "No, there are no RU soldiers in Syria, EU spreads this rumor and it is just as untrue as the rumors about Ukraine"

Notice the Russian weaponization of information at work--core of the Russian non linear warfare and the WH says absolutely nothing.

Haaretz.com ✔ @haaretzcom
WATCH: Russia holds military drill as experts in Syria inspect and expand air bases http://dlvr.it/C4v59P pic.twitter.com/5jmTFjpTNb

More Russian ships through the Bosphorous today https://twitter.com/YorukIsik/status/640922550546120708

More Russian ships covering their bulky cargo with tarps.

Built in Yantar Zavod in Kaliningrad, 50-year-old Saratov is equipped with bow and stern ramps for unloading vehicles pic.twitter.com/lqfbRamyCe

Tapir class Saratov 150 hoisted 'Stay Clear of Me' signal flag, on the Bosphorus pic.twitter.com/vgi2x2CS4x

BSF landing ship Saratov packed to the gunnels with military equipment en route to #Syria @bellingcat @IHS4DefRiskSec pic.twitter.com/Wnx7AmlBN3

SyrianExpress continues. Project 1171 BSF Alligator class landing ship Saratov 150 transits southbound Bosphorus pic.twitter.com/8gU1sCCMaz

Outlaw 09

Mon, 09/07/2015 - 12:07pm

If an American journalist can see this developing just why cannot Kerry, the entire 700 person NSC, and Obama see this coming at them???

The Russian Deployment To Syria Is About To Make Things Much Worse

15:06 (GMT)

The Interpreter's editor-in-chief Michael Weiss has been following the Russian military deployment to Syria, and has written two articles assessing the evidence for The Daily Beast. On September 1, the size of Russia's growing military presence in Syria was small but alarming:

On August 22, the Bosphorus Naval News website showed the Alligator-class Russian ship Nikolai Filchenkov, part of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, two days earlier passing through Istanbul’s famed waterway en route to an unknown location in the Mediterranean (hint, hint).

But what was remarkable about the Filchenkov was that military equipment was visible on deck—namely, Kamaz trucks and, judging by the tarpaulin outlines, at least four BTR infantry fighting vehicles. (This doesn’t include any matériel that might have been stored in the ship’s below-deck cargo hold.)

On August 24, the Oryx Blog, which tracks military dynamics in the Middle East and North Africa, discovered that at least one BTR-82A had turned up in the coastal province of Latakia, where Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s family hails from and which has lately been contested, impressively, by Jaysh al-Fatah, or the Army of Conquest, a collection of Islamist rebels groups including Jabhat al Nusra, the official al Qaeda franchise in Syria.

So important to Assad is fortifying Latakia against rebel assault that his regime has mounted a significant counteroffensive made up of the Syrian Arab Army, the praetorian Republican Guard, and the National Defense Force, a consortium of sectarian militias constructed, trained, and financed by Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps-Quds Force.

By September 5, however, evidence suggested that Russian troops were positioned at their naval base in Tartus and in their new deployment in Latakia, but also in Damascus. Russian airforce was also reportedly patrolling the skies of Syria's northern Idlib province:

The opposition-linked website All4Syria seems to corroborate such eyewitness accounts. Many residents of Damascus, it claimed, have “observed in the first three days of September a noticeable deployment of Iranian and Russian elements in the neighborhoods of Baramkeh, al-Bahsa, and Tanzim Kfarsouseh.” The Venezia Hotel in al-Bahsa “has been turned into a military barracks for the Iranians.”

Such news comes amid a flurry of reports that Russia has made plans for a direct military intervention in Syria’s four-year civil war and may actually have started one already. The New York Times reported Saturday that Russia has sent prefabricated housing units, capable of sheltering as many as 1,000 military personnel, and a portable air traffic control station to another Syrian airbase in Latakia. That coastal province, the Assad family’s ancestral home, has already seen Russian troops caught on video operating BTR-82 infantry fighting vehicles against anti-Assad rebels, atop rumors that Moscow may be deploying an “expeditionary force,” including Russian pilots who would fly combat missions.

They may already be doing so. A social media account affiliated with the al-Qaeda franchise Jabhat al-Nusra posted images of what appeared to be Russian Air Force jets and drones flying in the skies of Syria’s northwest Idlib province. They were, specifically, the Mig-29 Fulcrum, the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker, the Su-34 Fullback, and the Pchela-1T drone. These images were analyzed as credible by the specialist website The Aviationist, which also noted that “during the past days, Flightradar24.com has exposed several flights of a Russian Air Force… Il-76 airlifter (caught by means of its Mode-S transponder) flying to and from Damascus using radio call sign ‘Manny 6,’ most probably supporting the deployment of a Russian expeditionary force.”

As Weiss noted, the terrorist group ISIS is not in Idlib province -- preliminary evidence suggests, then, that the Russian intention is not to kill terrorists but to combat all forces opposed to Syrian President Bashar al Assad, including moderate units which are nominally supported by the West:

Outlaw 09

Tue, 09/08/2015 - 5:35am

In reply to by Bill M.

Bill --here is an interesting article depicting the Russian response to Kerry--if the WH and Kerry does not see they are being played as fools--then we are all in some serious trouble in the coming years.

Russia Answers U.S. Criticism Over Military Aid to Syria
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/08/world/europe/russia-answers-us-critic…

The US asked the Greeks to deny overflights by the Russians--BUT the Russians now fly a route that does not require NATO permission.

Putin is in full strategy mode and yet this WH and Kerry seem to float around as if Russia is not implementing a well thought out strategy.

Russian military plane IL-62 arrived in Latakia from Moscow
pic.twitter.com/kmAJi8WnL4

So you think Russia's Syrian expedition will weaken capacity to invade Ukraine? Less than 0.01% of Russian Armed Forces committed to Syria.

Outlaw 09

Tue, 09/08/2015 - 4:50am

In reply to by Bill M.

Bill--a side comment--I would not classify IS as a revolutionary movement along the path of a Che or Mao --in some aspects IS is just another radical splitter group of a main stream religion--that we ourselves have contributed to the creation of it's image in the way we react to it--we lend it credibility day in and day out with our bombing--just as we lend creditability in not stopping their weaponization of information much as we have not stopped and or limited the Russian use of weaponization of information in the Ukraine.

Weaponization of information has become the key central foundation of any successful UW strategy (it works)--and we are not even in the game--heck we are still in bed totally sleep walking by the problem.

What is not so well known in the West is that al Nursa is just a shell of it's past and the FSA together with approximately 11 other moderate to a few radicalIslamist groups have come together under a revolution council and are fighting together and actually taking territory away from IS.

Someone is supporting this group with the TOWs and some field combat training as their operations are getting to a professional level--meaning in the past if they took a town or village then they would race into the next attack and get beat up on--now they take territory, hold, regroup and move again--a slow but steady pace of combat led by the TOW hunter killer teams.

We in the West hear nothing of this as the mainstream media has written off Syria as well as the Ukraine--why is beyond me.

They have TOWs but no air defense weapons as both Assad forces and IS have teamed up often in the last ten months to mount attacks on them.

We in the West still refuse to see this connection--in some aspects our own mistakes are being driven by how we view the Muslim world after 9/11.

Bill M.

Tue, 09/08/2015 - 3:55am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

A through C should surprise no one, that is how dictators behave to retain power. However, revolutionary forces still persist under the banner of ISIL and al-Nusra. I also suspect there are still a few scattered moderate groups also, but they're not powerful enough to impose their vision for a new Syria even if we did help them oust Assad. Nonetheless, they will tell us they are. Libya is probably what a post Assad Syria will look like, unless we lead a coalition with U.S. boots on the ground. I certainly don't want to see a repeat of Iraq, but leading a coalition into Syria would be much more strategic than Iraq. It would be a major kick in the Iran's, Hezbollah's, and Russia's jollies if we could generate a large coalition to support it. Unfortunately, multiple countries in the region have different agendas, and Europe is too weak politically, morally, and militarily to count on. Maybe Columbia and Japan will support us?

It is a wicked problem with no good answers. I agree that this administration's foreign policy is worse than Carter's. At least Carter recognized he made serious errors in misjudging the USSR and started correcting course. This President is living in a state of denial, and our allies and partners have lost faith in our ability to lead. The failure to enforce the red line in Syria with conventional military power sunk our reputation well beyond the borders of Syria.

We will continue to bury our heads in the sand and throw money at a handful of moderates to create the illusion we're doing something. One hopes that we will bold policy statements that we're prepared to enforce, but I think we realize the only policy this administration is willing to enforce is their promise to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Someone failed to explain to them the following three points. First, the enemy gets a vote on how and if a war will end. Second, while the war in Iraq set conditions for ISIL to emerge, this isn't the same war. While ISIL presents the greatest near term threat to the homeland, Assad, Russia, and Iran present the greatest long term threat. Failure to recognize that will prove costly.

Outlaw 09

Tue, 09/08/2015 - 1:35am

In reply to by Bill M.

Where are the revolutionary/progressive forces in Syria? Either:
A) in prison
B) in exile
C) dead
All thanks to Assad.

This President has over the last four years of death and destruction in Syria looked the other way--he had four occasions to act that would not have increased any cost to the US and would have limited to some degree the above.

Agree to engage now will cost--but that is the price paid for by a totally ineffective President who did not want to rock the Iranian boat in order to get his nuclear deal legacy.

This President has one of the worst NSC since 40 plus years and we are seeing a US withdrawal from the world in many ways similar to the Wilsonian days. And that did cost the US dearly when we reengaged with the world.

Bill M.

Mon, 09/07/2015 - 3:12pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

The Pesident is right about our limitations, and the limitation of the resistance. Removing Assad would be easy relative to controlling Syria afterwards. If we still think we control outcomes then we have learnt nothing over the past two decades. Iran and Russia have stronger interests in Syria than we do, and despite our overwhelming strength we will have to pay dearly over time to shape an acceptable outcome.

NATO and the EU consider the threat to their southern front greater than the threat posed by Russia, yet they don't have the will to stand up to either Iran or Russia in Syria where at at least half of the problem to their southern front exists. We don't need some half baked UW strategy in this case, instead we need a decisive and comprehensive strategy that incl,udes conventional forces. The regime in Iran needs to fall period. Russia is more complex, but it needs to be dealt with.

Outlaw 09

Mon, 09/07/2015 - 11:55am

Even more evidence of the US lip service conducted by Kerry and his DoS.

Again goes to the heart of the dismal failure of any concept of a foreign policy by a President only interested in his legacy.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opini...a3a_story.html

Obama’s Syria achievement

By Fred Hiatt Editorial page editor

September 6 at 7:06 PM

This may be the most surprising of President Obama’s foreign-policy legacies: not just that he presided over a humanitarian and cultural disaster of epochal proportions, but that he soothed the American people into feeling no responsibility for the tragedy.

Starvation in Biafra a generation ago sparked a movement. Synagogues and churches a decade ago mobilized to relieve misery in Darfur. When the Taliban in 2001 destroyed ancient statues of Buddha at Bamiyan, the world was appalled at the lost heritage.

Today the Islamic State is blowing up precious cultural monuments in Palmyra, and half of all Syrians have been displaced — as if, on a proportional basis, 160 million Americans had been made homeless. More than a quarter-million have been killed. Yet the “Save Darfur” signs have not given way to “Save Syria.”

One reason is that Obama — who ran for president on the promise of restoring the United States’ moral stature — has constantly reassured Americans that doing nothing is the smart and moral policy. He has argued, at times, that there was nothing the United States could do, belittling the Syrian opposition as “former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth.”

He has argued that we would only make things worse — “I am more mindful probably than most,” he told the New Republic in 2013, “of not only our incredible strengths and capabilities, but also our limitations.”

He has implied that because we can’t solve every problem, maybe we shouldn’t solve any. “How do I weigh tens of thousands who’ve been killed in Syria versus the tens of thousands who are currently being killed in the Congo?” he asked (though at the time thousands were not being killed in Congo).

On those rare occasions when political pressure or the horrors of Syrian suffering threatened to overwhelm any excuse for inaction, he promised action, in statements or White House leaks: training for the opposition, a safe zone on the Turkish border. Once public attention moved on, the plans were abandoned or scaled back to meaningless proportions (training 50 soldiers per year, no action on the Turkish border).

Perversely, the worse Syria became, the more justified the president seemed for staying aloof; steps that might have helped in 2012 seemed ineffectual by 2013, and actions that could have saved lives in 2013 would not have been up to the challenge presented by 2014. The fact that the woman who wrote the book on genocide, Samantha Power, and the woman who campaigned to bomb Sudan to save the people of Darfur, Susan Rice, could apparently in good conscience stay on as U.N. ambassador and national security adviser, respectively, lent further moral credibility to U.S. abdication.

Most critically, inaction was sold not as a necessary evil but as a notable achievement: The United States at last was leading with the head, not the heart, and with modesty, not arrogance. “Realists” pointed out that the United States gets into trouble when it lets ideals or emotions rule — when it sends soldiers to feed the hungry in Somalia, for example, only to lose them, as told in “ Black Hawk Down,” and turn tail.

The realists were right that the United States has to consider interests as well as values, must pace itself and can’t save everyone. But a values-free argument ought at least to be able to show that the ends have justified the means, whereas the strategic results of Obama’s disengagement have been nearly as disastrous as the human consequences.

When Obama pulled all U.S. troops out of Iraq, critics worried there would be instability; none envisioned the emergence of a full-blown terrorist state. When he announced in August 2011 that “the time has come for President Assad to step aside,” critics worried the words might prove empty — but few imagined the extent of the catastrophe: not just the savagery of chemical weapons and “barrel bombs,” but also the Islamic State’s recruitment of thousands of foreign fighters, its spread from Libya to Afghanistan, the danger to the U.S. homeland that has alarmed U.S. intelligence officials, the refugees destabilizing Europe.

Even had Obama’s policy succeeded in purely realist terms, though, something would have been lost in the anesthetization of U.S. opinion. Yes, the nation’s outrage over the decades has been uneven, at times hypocritical, at times self-serving.

But there also has been something to be admired in America’s determination to help — to ask, even if we cannot save everyone in Congo, can we not save some people in Syria? Obama’s successful turning of that question on its head is nothing to be proud of.

Outlaw 09

Mon, 09/07/2015 - 11:21am

Now we see the Iranian non linear warfare coming into play--are we in fact now seeing Russian, Iranian and IS non linear warfare converging around a common theme----anything anti US and disconnecting the US from the ME just as Russia is attempting to do in the Ukraine--disconnect the US from Europe???

https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/NewsRepo...kies-to-israel

Published: 7/09/2015 01:54 PM

Pro-Hezbollah daily: Russia will close Syria’s skies to Israel

Al-Akhbar boasted that Tel Aviv will face "the predicament of a resistance region in southern Syria that has Russian cover.”

BEIRUT – A pro-Hezbollah daily has boasted that Russia’s widely expected military intervention in Syria will prevent Israel from conducting further airstrikes in the country.

A report in Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar said Monday that Russia’s “participation in fighting in Syria will have an escalatory effect,” especially on the strategic level, where it will be “considered a show of strength to Israel and Turkey.”

“Israel, having understood the message even before receiving it formally, has realized that Syrian skies will be closed to Israeli planes,” the newspaper claimed.

A flurry of reports have emerged in recent weeks that Russia has been dispatching large numbers of military advisors to Syria and is planning to set up an airbase in the Latakia province to conduct airstrikes on behalf of the Bashar al-Assad regime.

An unnamed US official told Reuters over the weekend that Washington has detected “worrisome preparatory steps” by the Russians that could signal the country “is readying deployment of heavy military assets” in Syria.

Al-Akhbar—which firmly supports Hezbollah—further said that Tel Aviv “will face the predicament of a resistance region in southern Syria that has Russian cover.”

Israel has conducted a number of airstrikes in the Golan in recent months, most recently on August 21 following a rocket attack on Israel. Hezbollah, meanwhile, has repeatedly vowed that it has been developing a “resistance front” in the border region to confront Israel.

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper also tackled the effect of Moscow’s expected intervention on Tel Aviv’s policymaking regarding Syria, where the Jewish State has conducted a number of reported strikes against shipments of advances weapons headed for Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“The entry of Russia into the Syrian arena changes the rules of this game,” Haaretz’s defense and military analyst Amos Harel wrote in an article published Sunday.

The leading Israeli military journalist added that “if Russia is dispatching its jet fighters and establishing a new military base in Syria, Israel will have to deal with new and different kinds of constraints, especially if the aircraft are equipped with Russian air-to-air missiles.”

“Increased Russian military presence in the region may demand that Israel’s military intelligence undertake more forceful efforts to deal with this development.”

Last week, Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported that Russia would begin dispatching thousands of military personnel to Syria, adding that that Moscow’s aerial operations on behalf of the Bashar al-Assad regime would “represent a challenge to the Israeli Air Force's freedom of operation in the skies above the Middle East.”

Israel’s government has yet to make any official comment regarding the growing reports of Russia’s impending military intervention in Syria.

Outlaw 09

Mon, 09/07/2015 - 9:02am

Remember I mentioned here as did the Israeli Haaretz--the US ie Kerry is only paying lip service--it has been and is now all about the Obama legacy-not about a solid well thought through US foreign policy.

Obama has the weakest NSC in 40 plus years and he himself is starting to rival Wilsonian foreign policy.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opini...395_story.html

The horrific results of Obama’s failure in Syria

By Michael Gerson

September 3 2015

One little boy in a red T-shirt, lying face down, drowned, on a Turkish beach, is a tragedy. More than 200,000 dead in Syria, 4 million fleeing refugees and 7.6 million displaced from their homes are statistics. But they represent a collective failure of massive proportions.

For four years, the Obama administration has engaged in what Frederic Hof, former special adviser for transition in Syria, calls a “pantomime of outrage.” Four years of strongly worded protests, and urgent meetings and calls for negotiation — the whole drama a sickening substitute for useful action. People talking and talking to drown out the voice of their own conscience. And blaming. In 2013, President Obama lectured the U.N. Security Council for having “demonstrated no inclination to act at all.” Psychological projection on a global stage.

Always there is Obama’s weary realism. “It’s not the job of the president of the United States to solve every problem in the Middle East.” We must be “modest in our belief that we can remedy every evil.”

But we are not dealing here with every problem or every evil; rather a discrete and unique set of circumstances: The largest humanitarian failure of the Obama era is also its largest strategic failure.

At some point, being “modest” becomes the same thing as being inured to atrocities. President Bashar al-Assad’s helicopters continue to drop “barrel bombs” filled with shrapnel and chlorine. In recent attacks on the town of Marea, Islamic State forces have used skin-blistering mustard gas and deployed, over a few days, perhaps 50 suicide bombers. We have seen starvation sieges, and kidnappings, and beheadings, and more than 10,000 dead children.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has changed her country’s asylum rules to welcome every Syrian refugee who arrives. Syrians have taken to calling her “Mama Merkel, Mother of the Outcasts.” I wonder what they call the U.S. president.

At many points during the past four years, even relatively small actions might have reduced the pace of civilian casualties in Syria. How hard would it have been to destroy the helicopters dropping barrel bombs on neighborhoods? A number of options well short of major intervention might have reduced the regime’s destructive power and/or strengthened the capabilities of more responsible forces. All were untaken.

This was not some humanitarian problem distant from the center of U.S. interests. It was a crisis at the heart of the Middle East that produced a vacuum of sovereignty that has attracted and empowered some of the worst people in the world. Inaction was a conscious, determined choice on the part of the Obama White House. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and CIA Director David Petraeus advocated arming favorable proxies. Sunni friends and allies in the region asked, then begged, for U.S. leadership. All were overruled or ignored.

In the process, Syria has become the graveyard of U.S. credibility. The chemical weapons “red line.” “The tide of war is receding.” “Don’t do stupid [stuff].” These are global punch lines. “The analogy we use around here sometimes,” said Obama of the Islamic State, “and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” Now the goal to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State looks unachievable with the current strategy and resources. “The time has come for President Assad to step aside,” said Obama in 2011. Yet Assad will likely outlast Obama in power.

What explains Obama’s high tolerance for humiliation and mass atrocities in Syria? The Syrian regime is Iran’s proxy, propped up by billions of dollars each year. And Obama wanted nothing to interfere with the prospects for a nuclear deal with Iran. He was, as Hof has said, “reluctant to offend the Iranians at this critical juncture.” So the effective concession of Syria as an Iranian zone of influence is just one more cost of the president’s legacy nuclear agreement.

Never mind that Iran will now have tens of billions of unfrozen assets to strengthen Assad’s struggling military. And never mind that Assad’s atrocities are one of the main recruiting tools for the Islamic State and other Sunni radicals. All of which is likely to extend a war that no one can win, which has incubated regional and global threats — and thrown a small body in a red T-shirt against a distant shore.

Outlaw 09

Mon, 09/07/2015 - 8:12am

Bill C---see the hypocrisy between the Kerry statement and the Larvov statements????

http://uatoday.tv/news/reuters-russi...ti-488980.html

Russian weaponization of information at work.

In the face of literally tens of Russian military social media entries, photos and videos Russian troops have been fighting in Syria since at least April 2015 or sooner ie Feb/Mar 2015 --Russia releases this press release.

Russia Says Its Arms Deliveries to Syria Aimed at Fighting Terrorism: RIA Novosti

By REUTERS

SEPT. 7, 2015, 5:18 A.M. E.D.T.

MOSCOW — Russia has never concealed the fact that it has been supplying military equipment to Syria aimed at fighting terrorism, RIA Novosti news agency cited a foreign ministry spokeswoman as saying on Monday.

The agency, citing the ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, also reported that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a phone conversation it is "premature" to speak about Russia's participation in military operations in Syria.

NOTICE Russia does not define the word terrorism in the press release--does it mean just IS, does it mean any anti Assad grouping, does it mean any and all other Islamists fighting in Syria against Assad, or does it mean Kurds?

Does this support with weapons and advisors extend to Hezbollah and Iranian mercenaries fighting along side Assad???

Does it mean also fighting against the Jordanian, Turkish and US trained anti Assad fighters inside Syria???

Does this also mean Russian fighter pilots and Russian drones will be flying over all of Syria as well???

Does it mean Russia acknowledges the massive refugee flows are directly contributed to by Russian weapons, bombs, fighters and Russian advisors in the GRU intel centers which have been directing Assad's military operations along with IRGC????

Outlaw 09

Mon, 09/07/2015 - 7:28am

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill C

Humor---

Putin----
I have urged Assad to continue the barrel bombing until the refugees stop fleeing.

Right now Assad only controls 15% of the Syrian land mass and Syria is broken de facto into four sections--Assad controlled, IS controlled, Kurdish controlled and a small portion controlled by moderate Islamists.

Russia will never give up their naval port and will continue to support Assad as a long term Baathist proxy and the Iranians will never allow a break in their lines of communication to Hezbollah which is part of the Khomeini "Green Crescent" concept he called into life in 1979.

Obama will never see a moderate Iran in his lifetime as the IRGC will never allow it to drift far from the revolutionary Islam Khomeini also called into being in 1979.

So Obama and his NSC has shown what kind of creativity in the last four years of fighting in Syria--actually none at all unless tap dancing has been declared a foreign policy.

Bill C.

Sun, 09/06/2015 - 5:05pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Outlaw:

As we have noted:

a. Much like Nixon's (legacy, strategy or both) efforts to integrate/re-integrate China into the international community back in the Cold War,

b. Likewise re: Obama's (legacy, strategy or both) efforts to, similarly, integrate/reintegrate Iran into the international community today,

c. There were going to be losers/pawns (aka "sacrificial lambs").

Re: Nixon and his overtures to China then, these "sacrificial lambs," I believe, are thought to have been such nations as Vietnam (and its refugees/boat people) and Taiwan.

Re: Obama and his overtures to Iran today, certain of the "sacrificial lambs," I believe, are thought to be such nations as Ukraine and Syria (and their refugees). (Both of these being in what Russia considers its "sphere of influence?").

In this context (to achieve the greater strategic good -- as per Nixon and China) to see the U.S. not rocking the Russian "sphere of influence" boat today?

So: Much as was the case of Nixon and China back then, likewise re: the case of Obama and Iran today, the three vital questions seem to be:

1, Do these (common?) approaches make good strategic (not so much "legacy") sense?

2. Is the "sacrificing of lambs" a reasonable and intelligent (if morally reprehensible) trade-off for what may be -- strategically -- gained by this attempt? And

3. Will Obama re: Iran -- like Nixon re: China -- be successful in using these methods to integrate/re-integrate a major world player back into the so-called "international community?"

Outlaw 09

Sun, 09/06/2015 - 3:18pm

And Kerry and the entire DoS and NSC did not know about this???

Since Russia's role in Syria is in the news, might interest >> Russian Intelligence and the War In Syria (OCT 2014)

http://goo.gl/7gDMCU

That is the hypocrisy seen in the DoS statement---all knew-- but when one is driving on a legacy rocking the boat is not a foreign policy as it would rock exactly the legacy one is trying to create.

OR is there any other explanation that when red lines were crossed even in the last months nothing, absolutely no action was taken, when barrel bombs were dropped that were designed by Iran nothing was said even when those barrel bombs contained chlorine gas, when over 7000 air strikes were conducted by the Assad AF against largely civilian targets nothing was said--when a no fly zone which would have stopped those 7000 air strikes was denied as being ineffective---AND it is not about legacy?

BUT then when the TOW hunter killer teams showed up and effectively flipped the course of the fighting on it's head---nothing was said.

If one is willing to flow TOWs into the battlespace then a no fly zone is a breeze.

But it did not happen--as rocking the Russian boat was apparently to dangerous for this administration and their NSC.

The current refugee crisis is due to the greatest humanitarian disaster of the 21st century to date. Assad by far is the major culprit, but every country on both sides providing military aid all have dirty hands in prolonging the disaster. The aid is not decisive and no one beyond amateur pundits has any clue what will happen the morning after Assad. It would be interesting to hear Israel's take on what right looks like, but probably wise for them to hold their cards close, since they'll be there for the long game.

Outlaw 09

Sun, 09/06/2015 - 1:07pm

If one is to believe the lead article in the Israeli Haaretz from today--the US is just delivering lip service and there is really nothing behind this statement basically because the Russians and the US share the same goal of not toppling Assad.

Putin's Military Build-up in Syria Could Be a Game-changer for Israel
Now that the U.S. isn't aiming to topple him, and Russia and Iran are increasing their support, Assad has better chances of stabilizing his defense.
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.674779

The second thing is that this lip service came rather late--after a number of US government statements that they had little information on the matter thus could not state anything.

Then social media unleashed a barrage of Russian selfies, VK photos and videos that proved beyond a doubt that Russian combat troops have been fighting in Syria since at least April 2015.

THEN we get this press statement.

If one really pays attention to US announcements like this--notice that after the recent dust up between the Russian FM and the KSA FM where Lavrov basically called him a blooming idiot in nice words for stating to the world press that for the KSA--the removal of Assad is a demand as they see him as the problem.

NOT a single response by Kerry, the DoS in general and or Obama.

That dust up was totally out of the realm of diplomatic norms.