Small Wars Journal

Obama Claims His Critics Forced Him to Make a Mess of Syria

Mon, 09/21/2015 - 8:51am

Obama Claims His Critics Forced Him to Make a Mess of Syria by Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

The administration let it be known it is scrapping what it never seriously pursued, namely training of anti-regime, nonjihadist rebels. In what surely is the most cringe-worthy excuse offered by a commander-in-chief, President Obama last week complained that his critics — whom he routinely ignored and scorned — forced him to make a mess of Syria. To say it is unbecoming of a president to whine that he was only following what critics told him to do, understates just how dishonest the president is and how morally repugnant is his approach to a war that has claimed more than 200,000 lives, created millions of refugees and provided the Islamic State with a base of operations.

The New York Times reported, “Mr. Obama is arguing that he reluctantly went along with those who said it was the way to combat the Islamic State, but that he never wanted to do it and has now has been vindicated in his original judgment. The I-told-you-so argument, of course, assumes that the idea of training rebels itself was flawed and not that it was started too late and executed ineffectively, as critics maintain.” (Indeed editorial pages consistently criticized the president for belatedly, ineffectually, and halfheartedly acting or for shedding crocodile tears but taking no meaningful action to protect civilians, aid nonjihadi rebels and enforce the red line…

Read on.

Finger-Pointing, but Few Answers, After a Syria Solution Fails by Peter Baker, New York Times

By any measure, President Obama’s effort to train a Syrian opposition army to fight the Islamic State on the ground has been an abysmal failure. The military acknowledged this week that just four or five American-trained fighters are actually fighting.

But the White House says it is not to blame. The finger, it says, should be pointed not at Mr. Obama but at those who pressed him to attempt training Syrian rebels in the first place — a group that, in addition to congressional Republicans, happened to include former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

At briefings this week after the disclosure of the paltry results, Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, repeatedly noted that Mr. Obama always had been a skeptic of training Syrian rebels. The military was correct in concluding that “this was a more difficult endeavor than we assumed and that we need to make some changes to that program,” Mr. Earnest said. “But I think it’s also time for our critics to ‘fess up in this regard as well. They were wrong.”

In effect, Mr. Obama is arguing that he reluctantly went along with those who said it was the way to combat the Islamic State, but that he never wanted to do it and has now has been vindicated in his original judgment. The I-told-you-so argument, of course, assumes that the idea of training rebels itself was flawed and not that it was started too late and executed ineffectively, as critics maintain…

Read on.


Outlaw 09

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 1:36pm

Free Syrian Army commander in Hama: "we have enough TOW's to use them against each individual soldier"

Outlaw 09

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 6:54am

Bill M--now this US weapons system is apparently also inside Syria--BUT no US SOF????

Unverified #Syria imagery suggests Switchblade loitering munition US only known user …

Drone downed by #SAA over Izraa #Daraa countryside

Outlaw 09

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 3:17am

More from the joint Russian military Islamic State actions against the FSA in support of Assad---

This is what Russia's "targeting ISIS" looks like.


You should be.

Notice not a word comes from the Obama WH?????

Outlaw 09

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 6:26am

In reply to by Bill M.

Bill--with practice the FSA is getting they could actually be training the US Army on how to use the TOW in the defense.

A very significant TOW shot on a tank on top of observatory Inbata west of Salma, by 1stCoastDiv. reef Latakia

Outlaw 09

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 3:15am

In reply to by Bill M.

Bill--a point needs to be made about the TOWs.

There is creditable evidence that in fact Obama seriously blocked the delivery of the KSA TOWs on a number of occasions--you will have notice an Obama recent trip to the KSA--that was for exactly this reason.

The battlefield also reflected Obama's interference---the FSA was on a roll with the TOWs but not firing many per week due to the low delivery numbers but even then they made a difference. THEN absolutely no TOW firings for a month or so and the word was they were all out of them and there was no resupply--THIS was the Obama interference phase.

THEN suddenly they were there in masses after the KSA FMs collision with the Russian FM during a Moscow press conference--from that point on Obama has no influence with the KSA.

Point two---the Russians if the evidence is correct had made their decision a month ago after the visit of the IRGC commander indicating that regardless of the TOWs the Assad military was manpower wise losing to high of a number of troops and that was not because of the TOWs--the SAA was simply running out of soldiers not tanks.

Point three--the Chinese are already in the ME--three attack drones being flown by their own controllers out of Kut AB and the delivery of armored SUVs into Syria.

Bill M.

Sun, 10/11/2015 - 11:07pm


Two or three points. First, the Washington Post article at this link supports your argument about the effectiveness of the so called covert TOE support program. It may have been covert, but it seems it was an open secret to all concerned.…

Did U.S. weapons supplied to Syrian rebels draw Russia into the conflict?

"The TOW missile program overseen by the CIA is entirely separate from a failed program run by the Pentagon that was intended to influence the outcome of the other war being waged in Syria, the one in the northeastern part of the country against the Islamic State.

The CIA program got underway before the Pentagon one, in early 2014, with the goal of propping up the flagging rebellion against Assad’s rule by delivering training, small arms, ammunition and the antitank missiles, which have proved instrumental in eroding the government’s key advantage over the lightly armed rebel force — its tanks and heavy armor.

Supplied mostly from stocks owned by Saudi Arabia, delivered across the Turkish border and stamped with CIA approval, the missiles were intended to fulfill another of the Obama administration’s goals in Syria — Assad’s negotiated exit from power."

So contrary to your argument, the administration did have a strategy to get rid of Assad, one you admitted that was working until the Russians stepped in. It may still work, that is yet to be seen. A negotiated exit is probably better than simply removing the regime entirely like we did in Iraq. The Russians are right about one thing, a complete power vacuum in Syria is in no one's interest except ISIL's.

Next link is an announcement of the arm's sale to Saudi, who as you pointed out are our intermediary to some of the resistance elements in Syria.…

As for China sending warships to support the Russians in Syria, maybe, but I have yet to see a credible news source report this. To the contrary I see more reporting along these lines.…

China says world should not 'arbitrarily interfere' in Syria

"Wang told the Security Council that the world needed to get a grip on the humanitarian crisis and push the peace process.

"The Syrian crisis has been going on for five years now. The international community cannot look on without lifting a finger, but also ought not to interfere arbitrarily," Wang said, according to a Foreign Ministry statement released on Thursday.

"A political resolution for the Syrian crisis is the fundamental way out," he added."

Some think tanks folks are suggesting China may intervene to make a statement about their position in the South China Sea, in short, if they intervene on Russia's behalf, they expect Russia to support their territorial claims in the South China Sea. Again, maybe, but I need to see the facts. If that is the case, then you're right about this situation becoming increasing complicated and dangerous. At that point, more TOE missiles won't be the answer. We'll either have to declare a safe zone and enforce it (that means shooting down Russia a/c that violate it), or even less wise providing MANPADs to groups who could easily lose control of them to ISIL or al-Nusra.

We really need to figure out what our goals are, because risks are increasingly high if we escalate. Until a case is made doing so in is the national interest to the American people, I don't think we can afford to escalate. I personally think the case is there, but my personal like yours means little. If we take increased measures and the Russians push back and we fail to meet the challenge, we'll continue to bleed out our strategic power (ability to influence world events). Once again, we're back in a situation where there are no good choices, simply choices that aren't as bad as others.

Outlaw 09

Sun, 10/11/2015 - 4:11pm

Our problem w/ Obama is not that he has refused to help, it is because he has stopped others from helping in any meaningful way.

Actually if one knows anything about the last four years--this comment is factually correct.

Outlaw 09

Sun, 10/11/2015 - 3:23pm…

China Joining Russia In Syria Brings Risks Of World War

10/09/2015 06:51 PM ET

American Decline: Chinese forces head to Syria to join with Russia in filling Obama's power vacuum and purportedly fight the Islamic State. A false move involving NATO member Turkey could mean world war.

Russian and Chinese military sources now confirm that Chinese warships are en route to the Middle East to get in on some of the action of humiliating the U.S.

In just a week and a half, Moscow has upended the dynamics of power in the Mideast by taking on the role that President Obama relinquished: acting like a superpower in a regional conflict that has implications extending far beyond the region.

Russian ruler Vladimir Putin launched airstrikes against rebels opposing the terrorist Assad regime in Syria, first with a modest force to gauge the U.S. response and perhaps pull out if threatened. Seeing no threat, Putin has been intensifying Russian operations, even sending in Spetsnaz special forces troops.

China's entry means two major powers are stepping in to do what the U.S. was unwilling to do against IS.

It's a lesson in how fast the tables can turn when America displays weakness — losing wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and proving to be ineffective against IS despite fighting it for a year and three months now.

Our commander-in-chief even admits that he has no strategy against the monstrous caliphate that his very own policies of weakness brought into being.

What is apparently happening now was inconceivable before Obama sent America spiraling into decline: our two Cold War adversaries uniting militarily in an effort that will ultimately give them dominance, at our expense, in the most strategically important part of the world, the oil-rich and politically fragile Middle East.

You can't carry out your objectives there over the course of years with the most advanced military in the world? Fine. Watch us do it, Moscow and Beijing are telling us with their actions. And in months, or perhaps only weeks.

How the next president will dig us out of this hole is hard to fathom. A new post-Cold War Brezhnev Doctrine could come into effect, in which Moscow and Beijing warn that they will not let the U.S. reassert its influence in countries they've "liberated" in the Mideast.

If that turns out to be the case, America will be risking war with both Russia and China if it even tries to return to its pre-Obama influence in the region.

Moreover, with Russia already more than once "accidentally" violating the airspace of Turkey, a NATO member in spite of its current anti-U.S. government, the dangers — Moscow and Beijing engaging in incursions or other provocative actions on the Syria-Turkish border — are clear.

All NATO nations are obligated by treaty to defend against an attack on any individual NATO nation. If Russia and China see what they can get away with, they could expose NATO as impotent.

Or, worse, they could trigger World War III.

Neither Obama nor the many millions who voted for him twice ever thought his policies of weakness could make things this bad.

Outlaw 09

Sat, 10/10/2015 - 3:39pm

Russia's electronic warfare units are jamming Nato's communications in #Syria

Outlaw 09

Sat, 10/10/2015 - 1:24am

Syria #Hama Reports: Failed #Russia'n airborne ops- helicopter landed on Tell Sukayk -16 captured
-not confirmed-

Not only #Russia sending military vehicles, now Chinese BAW ‘Yongshi’ (Warrior) jeeps arriving in #Syria:
Bit far from the “Silk Road”?????

Outlaw 09

Sat, 10/10/2015 - 1:11am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Comment from rebel social media--kind of hits the point---

Dear Russian soldiers, Think Again Turn Away from #Syria
A few of the many Russian tank graveyards in Afghanistan

Outlaw 09

Sat, 10/10/2015 - 1:10am

Still no comments out of the WH except accusing others of "mumbo jumbo" WHILE at least the Syrian anti Assad forces the CIA are supporting are doing well in the face of Russian aggression they see as true agression--what a striking difference.

Either #Syria rebels are getting really good with TOWs or the #Russians have started building their tanks with LEGOS

Outlaw 09

Fri, 10/09/2015 - 12:38pm

AND the Islamic State and Russia are not following a mutually common tactical and strategic strategy in Syria?????

Julian Röpcke ‏@JulianRoepcke · 1h1 hour ago
Crazy! Almost all Russian-fired cruise missiles passed ISIS territory and hit rebel land.

Russia's presence in Syria created an effective NFZ in favor of ISIS, w/ the safe zone preventing coalition strikes.

Outlaw 09

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 11:52am

Really worth listening to---he is probably one of the currently most knowledgeable journalists on the IS, Iraq and Syria right now---

.@michaeldweiss on vivacious form here, dismantling #ISIS, #Assad, @POTUS, etc, in a terse hour

Outlaw 09

Wed, 10/07/2015 - 3:53pm

الله @HadiAlabdallah

Hama's hospitals overcrowded with deaths from both Assad and Russian troops. Among the killed are a Russian officer and at least 3 soldiers

Bill C.

Wed, 10/07/2015 - 7:01pm

In reply to by RantCorp

RantCorp said:

"So I take it you believe wherever IS choose to enslave, rape and torture in the ME it is the victim’s problem. Fair enough, I can see the appeal of not getting involved in other people’s misfortune. However what you must accept is that the ‘other’ does not enjoy being enslaved, raped and murdered and as such those facing the onslaught will flee."


If the 'other' (being the vast majority of the population/populations; actually tens of millions of people, most of "military age"?) in the ME do not enjoy being enslaved, raped and murdered by IS (in comparison, an exceptional minority, numbering only in, shall we say, the few thousands?),

If these "good guy" tens of millions do not wish to be enslaved, etc., by these "bad guy" few thousands,

Then why don't these "good guy" tens of millions of men and women -- again many/most of whom are of "military age" -- instead of fleeing -- why don't they stand and fight?

This, rather than (a) leaving what is essentially their fight to (b) the western world?

Possible policy decision re: this dilemma:

a. Declare that signing up for a military "draft" will be a prerequisite/precondition for allowing ME men and women -- of military age -- to cross western borders?

b. Make it known that this pool of selected "draftees" will (1) first be trained and then (2) sent back to fight IS in their own country; this, for a period of at least one year?

c. Make the written acceptance of such a military "draft" a precondition for (1) allowing ME personnel of military age to (2) cross western borders?

With millions of ME men and women of military age now being (one way or another) in the "fighting" rather than in the "fleeing" pool, (a) IS doesn't stand in chance and thus, (b) the refugee problem disappears/ceases to exist.


Wed, 10/07/2015 - 3:33pm

Dayuhan wrote:

‘The US is not responsible for Syrians.’

So I take it you believe wherever IS choose to enslave, rape and torture in the ME it is the victim’s problem. Fair enough, I can see the appeal of not getting involved in other people’s misfortune. However what you must accept is that the ‘other’ does not enjoy being enslaved, raped and murdered and as such those facing the onslaught will flee.

We are talking tens of millions of people here. All of them are heading to Europe – where they are not welcomed for many reasons. Some Europeans are like you and suggest their plight is someone else’s problem, some just don’t like immigrants but the overriding reason is public facilities – whether, housing, medical, schools, employment - public services across Europe are already stretched to breaking point.

Are you suggesting we put up minefields, walls and machine-gun towers to keep them out? As you are aware every autocratic State that claims to enjoy Islam as their sponsored religion has populations that are very young. Nearly every person under 25 I have ever encountered over thirty years in the region from AF, Iran, Iraq, Pak, Yemen, Sudan, Jordan, Turkey wants to live in the West – even those who are rabidly anti-American.

Most of those I encountered were not faced with a marauding horde hell-bent on enslaving, raping or murdering them. The old adage ‘You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you’ applies here and I’m afraid your ‘washing of hands’ approach doesn’t have an exit strategy either.

In reference to our lack of action in the Congo, Dayuhan wrote:

‘How is Syria different?’

Try catching a boat from the Congo to the Greek coast and then try catching a boat from Syria to the Greek coast.

Dayuhan wrote:

‘The "logic", to the extent that there is any, seems to be that if Putin wants to jump into the sh!thole, we have to do it too. Only place that goes is one where everybody is neck deep in sh!t.’

Some folks join the military to fly, drive or sail all sorts of hell-yeah gear and get paid to do it. On the other hand some folks join so as to get sent to some shithole wherein they get to sort shit out in the nation’s interest. The foremost mistake we made after 9/11 was to assume the GPFs could sort shit out in a shithole – they can’t and nor should they be expected to.

The GPF is designed to project the nation from an existential threat and I have no doubt they are more than capable of performing that task. But IMO SOCOM has a different purpose and I do not share your concern for the well-being of those who volunteer to sort shit out in the shitholes of the world.

I do find myself in agreement with your reluctance to provide MANPADS but perhaps where we differ is my reasoning. In my experience a 10 kgs missile does not work against low flying targets in daylight and are completely unusable in darkness. But they do work against civilian aircraft taking off and landing.

IMHO Russian airpower will not change the outcome of the Syrian conflict. The Russians know this better than anyone so one has to wonder what Putin’s game is. The TOW/Comms we are currently supplying appears to be hastening Assad’s departure.

I am in agreement with Outlaw (who’s posts I for one do read) in that if we have a decisive input at the sharp-end we are more likely to have a voice when the dust settles than if we did nothing. If we happen to lose most of these men and come away with nothing, it won’t be the first time - nor the last.

However for me none of this makes sense if we do not achieve political reform in the KSA. If governance in the KSA fails to become more representative of the body politic the plague of Wahhabi militancy will continue to create problems thru ought the Muslim world and beyond. IMO if reform is not forthcoming as RCJ suggests things will only get worse.

Saudi political dissidents have been creating havoc for Eastern and Western societies long before 9/11 and they will continue to do so until political reform in the KSA is initiated.

The real question for me isn’t whether the military should or should not intervene but why is it our political leadership refuses to apply diplomatic pressure on the KSA. We were happy enough to do it to Iran for near forty years – and the Shia have done virtually nothing to us since 1978 - but the Saudi’s have been responsible for killing thousands of Americans and maiming tens of thousands.

I have spent many moons in quite a few shitholes wondering why that to be so. You’d be surprised how many illiterate heavily armed farm boys have asked me what the hell the Wahhabi ‘rainbow warriors’ think they were doing showing up after the storm and threatening to ‘put the jihad’ on anyone who wasn’t a Saudi.

Anyways whatever pans out having trusted personnel at the sharp end gives us a window into understanding the nature of the conflict and the real reasons why people are fighting.

IMO the soda straw view streaming into the Pentagon and Langley have so distorted the lens thru which we hope to glean an understanding of these conflicts that our military and political leadership are virtually blind. Despite the danger and the expense over the last 14 years, a GPF looking thru two inches of glass from inside a MRAP has also failed to add much needed clarity despite our boots on the ground.

In my experience if you want to get an understanding of events beyond the 5 meter target you have to be neck deep in shit along with your native allies. After a year or two you begin to piece together the Ways, Means Ends of why people choose to take up violence to solve their political problems.

We’ve all got one,


Outlaw 09

Wed, 10/07/2015 - 2:27pm

RSA rubbing salt in the wound---FSA ADDRESSES Putin in Russian-----

FSA-SF officer greets Russians (in ru!) & warns Putin:
Don't let #Syria be a 2nd Afghanistan!
v @arabthomness

FSA destroyed more than 30 regime equipment in rural Hama, including 18 tanks & 4 BMPs.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 10/07/2015 - 10:32am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

More comments now coming in-----

I’m told today's offensive in Hama by regime+Russia+Iran was massive: air, armor, ground troops. The rebels held back, no inch retreat.

Rebels claim, they fought back an #Assad/#Russian attack in #Hama province.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 10/07/2015 - 10:36am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Does Russia truly want a major war--seems so-----this is not going to end well until Obama finally stands up as a adult and says something and then backs that up with decisive action.

Turkey Says Missile Systems In Syria Locking Onto Their Jets

Russia is provoking Turkey as they did the Ukraine forces daily----and the US said nothing.

Obama is clueless--simply clueless and his NSC even more so than he is.....

This plus bombing US-backed rebels, flying 20 miles into Turkey, locking onto their F-16s for 5 minutes. WH: Perplexed, divided

Putin is literally dictating US foreign policy--that is as bad as I have seen it in 70 years.

Obama is a leader---not.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 10/07/2015 - 10:20am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Something happened today on the Syrian battlefield---Russia was indirectly beaten by so called rag tag rebels who went wild with their TOWs--

Field reporting is typical right now by Arabic standards--all over the map emotionally speaking.

BUT what ever happened in Syria today---it was a lopsided fight AND the RuAF bombings had absolutely no effect--if anything it motivated them to even greater resistance.

FSA division13 has commited a horrible massacre against regime armours in north Hama today.
Let's wait for the videos

Great Putin 63rd birthday present--are some of the comments---

The comments are flowing in now---currently only three videos are in--- the FSA TOW teams record all their hits so it will take time for them to upload via sat phones.

Just came in --tank was extremely lucky--battle video shows the strong Syrian attack unfolding---

Tank in #Syria is unbelievably lucky as #US-made TOW anti-tank #missile hits post instead …

Outlaw 09

Wed, 10/07/2015 - 9:58am

Bill- Looks like Russia is slowly having to learn the limits of airpower will be an important lessons learned.

All indications point to a large #SAA offensive on North Hama gone disastrously wrong after relying purely on #Russian air cover.

FSA--- that Russian so called "phantom unit" as stated by the Russian FM --- runs wild in the defense----TOW hunter killer teams had over 12 confirmed kills---5 tanks and the rest were IFVs and technicals.

Other reports are claiming a total of 12 tanks--not counting the IFVs and technicals--usual fog of war reporting it seems.

HadiAlabdallah · 3h3 hours ago
Reliable sources told us Russian troops were killed today in Hama province by Syrian Revolutionaries who also destroyed 12 tanks

TOW field team totals are still drifting in via sat phone internet reporting---as of about one hour ago------
Syria: #FSA rebels have reportedly destroyed 17 regime tanks in northern #Hama so far, quite a loss for the regime if true

Fog of war in effect--will wait to see how the reports firm up in the next few hours or so.

On the top of it there are number of other creditable reports of a number of Russian troops being killed as well-- potentially GRU Spetsnaz "advisors" or the Russian Marines who have been in Syria for several months now.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 10/07/2015 - 9:28am

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill---the Syrians are indeed fighting--this is from the US supported FSA that controls the entire southern front facing Damascus and is the center of the bullseye of the RuAF today.

The FSA TOW hunter killer teams could teach the US Army on the use of the TOW-------

ANOTHER FSA TOW hunter killer strike and destruction of Assad tank---

Syria #Hama Rebels blow up another tank

Syria: 13th Division (#FSA) monitors regime (Russian?) helicopters flying over N #Hama

Sometimes all it takes is the right weapons in the hands of those that want to fight and the US does not have to get directly involved.

Now they are called "moderates" but they still pray to Allah.

Let them make up their minds on what kind of governance they want--fighting has earned them choice whether we like it or not--we tend to forget that simple fact.

Outlaw 09

Wed, 10/07/2015 - 7:40am

In reply to by Bill C.

Bill--just a side comment--if you think that the Syrians are not fighting for their "definition of freedom" then check the Syrian military thread.

Also highly recommend that you listen to the Joshua Lundis audio presentation that actually takes one through the radicalization process the Syrians are now in and he finds it actually a normal process.

See this is the problem within your argumentation logic--we have absolutely no idea just how the development of Syria would have been if allowed to follow "their dream" concerning the rule of law , good governance and transparency.

Instead of their "dream" this is what Assad gave the 70% majority Sunni population.

Very insightful panel discussion about #Syria and the #Syriamasstorture system documented by 'Caesar'.

That is really what Robert tries to keep saying--we must respect whatever the direction it is they are going to go in, ride high side with them, assist where we can BUT in the grander scheme of things it is all their doing not the US defining it.

In some aspects I fully understand the Obama "ideology"--BUT here is my intense heartburn with him and this thoughts.

HE did not prepare the world for it---if the US is going to pull back, retrench, go into isolationism OR SIMPLY reject being the policeman of the world WHICH is really what Obama is actually saying without directly saying it----THEN the world must understand that and be given time to adjust and development workarounds and have mechanisms in place.

If Obama feels that regional players should step up so be it--but those regional players need to understand the game and exactly when the US will get involved or not get involved otherwise they will be some tragic "mistakes" along the bumpy way in the transitioning away from the US.

INSTEAD Obama simply vacates---with nothing in place.

IF the CNN article is actually correct--Obama states he will not at all get involved if it is not in the security interests of the US---BEGS LITERALLY the follow on question---WHAT the heck then is our "security needs".

As an American sitting in Berlin--I have no earthly idea what that means--SO if I do not understand it then just how are other nations suppose to "get it" where English is not their native language.

A question we need to ask:

If the Syrians (et. al) desire "freedom" along, for example, modern western political, economic and social lines,

Then why are they not willing -- en masse -- to fight for such freedom?

And if they are not willing to fight, themselves and en masse, for such freedom,

Then why, and how, does it become the responsibility of the governments and populations of the West -- through their own young peoples' lives, through their own political capital and/or through their own other such treasures -- to:

a. Somehow provide these Syrian (et. al) populations

b. With such "freedoms" as they are unwilling to fight for?

(Note: ISIS, it appears, does not seem to have this problem. For the cause that ISIS represents, people from all over the region, and indeed from all over the world, COME to fight -- and to die -- to achieve their objectives.)

Thus, and re: the current non-western/less-western world generally, the humbling hand that all western leaders are today dealt, to wit:

a. A world where, generally speaking, there appears to be no great desire for our way of life, for our way of governance and for our corresponding values, attitudes and beliefs. And/or

b. A world where the vast majority of those individuals and groups -- actually having these such "western-like" desires -- have absolutely no intention of staying, and/or fighting, in their own country; this, so as to achieve, mostly by themselves and mostly through their own efforts and initiative, our such "freedoms."

In the case of either "a" or "b" above, can we agree that there is not much for our western leaders (conservative or liberal; republican or democrat; "gung ho" or not) to work with?

Outlaw 09

Tue, 10/06/2015 - 2:19pm

As Iran nuke deal was being inked/finalized, Khamenei and Putin were preparing a Syria push..

Perhaps now we can move on from Russia v. Iran in Syria?… …

How Iranian general plotted out Syrian assault in Moscow

Sub-plot: did administration look the other way on Iran-Russia war planning because it needed Russia for #IranDeal?

Outlaw 09

Tue, 10/06/2015 - 2:08pm

In reply to by Robert C. Jones

An interesting theory------

Basically, Putin is following on Assad’s original plan: Bomb all Oppo grps, leave ISIS, make ppl choose btwn both

Outlaw 09

Tue, 10/06/2015 - 2:00pm

In reply to by Robert C. Jones

My question if this comment is correct--just how deeply does the Russian FSB/SVR contacts go into the IS and vice versa????

Just friggin brilliant, now both #Russia & #ISIS are targeting FSA Suqour al-Jabal at the same time in #Aleppo, #Syria. Air + ground attack!

For the longest time the SyAF and SAA never really attacked IS as well.

Outlaw 09

Tue, 10/06/2015 - 2:28pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Robert--- this Russia response today for critique of their targeting everyone other than actually their declared target IS and they further killing of civilians.

Sometimes I honestly do not believe Russia knows what to say since they had put so many different versions into space.

Stung by U.S. Criticism on Syria, Russia Reminds U.S. of 9/11 Support


Oct. 06 2015 18:35
Last edited 18:36

Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

Spokeswoman of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova gestures as she attends a news briefing in Moscow, Russia, Oct. 6, 2015.

Russia strongly rebuffed U.S. criticism of its air strikes in Syria on Tuesday, reminding Washington how it had supported the United States in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on New York in 2001.

Moscow has become increasingly critical of what it says is a Western propaganda campaign aimed at distorting the aims of its Syria intervention. The Kremlin says its primary goal is to help President Bashar Assad fight Islamic State militants. But the United States and others have accused it of acting to try to prop up Assad and of targeting other rebel groups instead.

In comments likely to draw a reaction in Washington, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Tuesday evoked the Kremlin's reaction to 9/11 when rejecting the U.S. stance on Russia's Syria operation.

"I want to remind you … after the September 11th attacks, we shared the U.S. pain as if it were our own, understanding what terrorism is," Zakharova told a news conference.

"We supported the United States in everything, [including] in the UN Security Council. We helped them fight terrorism. We didn't ask 'Are they good or bad terrorists?'."

She recounted Russia's own history of Islamist attacks, saying fighting Islamist militants was a matter of national security for Moscow.

"We have been through this, we know what it is like and we don't want to see international terrorism in our country again. This is too painful for us. And we expect understanding on this one."

Notice not a word about 2400 Russians fighting with IS NOR exactly why they seem to be not targeting IS.

Outlaw 09

Tue, 10/06/2015 - 1:33pm

In reply to by Robert C. Jones

Robert--you make an interesting point--I am still amazed he is taking a risk in parachuting into a 70% Sunni country that has been beaten up, tortured and killed with 250K killed and millions on the move by a minority dictator WHEN the Russian Federation is sitting on a powder key in the Caucasus--where over 2400 Russian jihadi's left from and with Muslims being the increasing minority eventually becoming the majority ethnic group in the RF.

By siding perception wise with the Shia he has placed Russia for the future in a bad way when the new Russian majority ethnic group is Sunni.

So there had to be more to the move---the article comes close to the actual set of reasons.

Putin Views Obama as Being in ‘Panicked Retreat’ from the World, von Eggert Says

October 6, 2015

Staunton, October 6 – Vladimir Putin views Barack Obama as being in “panicked retreat” because of the latter’s decision to extricate the US from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and believes that it would be foolish not to exploit the possibilities that such a drawdown in American power present, according to Konstantin von Eggert.

But in doing so, the Moscow analyst says, Putin has opened the door to even more problems for himself as the conflict continues not only internationally but at home where most Russians and especially Russia’s predominantly Sunni Muslim community oppose his support of Assad.

In the short term, von Eggert argues, Putin has achieved five goals by his Syrian actions:

First, he has forced Obama to meet with him because, as a result of Syria, Obama “simply could not refuse dialogue with Putin” given the stakes.

Second, Putin has succeeded in reducing the importance of Ukraine for Washington and thus making it less the defining issue of the West’s relations with Moscow.

Third, Putin has “sent an unambiguous signal to the not-very-numerous allies of the Russian regime: ‘if things are going badly for you, we won’t throw you over,’” a message by which the Kremlin leader wants to contrast himself with the behavior of the United States.

Fourth, “participation in the Syrian civil war is giving [Russia] a chance to demonstrate what the latest Russian arms are capable of,” something useful not only to influence others but to attract new orders for Russia’s arms exporters.

And fifth, “Putin has made it clear to the entire world and above all to the United States that the principle of the sovereign right of any regime to do what it finds appropriate on its own territory is for him inviolable.”

Putin’s moves in this regard reflect a fundamental difference between the West and Russia. Western leaders get involved in foreign affairs “by necessity.” Putin in contrast sees foreign actions as “one of the main (if not the chief) component parts of his legitimacy in the eyes of his compatriots.”

Moreover, von Eggert continues, “Obama and his entourage have the dislike of using military force characteristic of Western leftists while Putin considers [the use of such force] as the key element of world politics.” For him, respect is everything because people “’respect the strong but beat the weak,’” as he has said many times.

Von Eggert says that he is “certain that the decision of Obama to leave Iraq and Afghanistan was viewed in the Kremlin as a panicked flight from responsibility,” as actions and an attitude that have created a power vacuum that it would be “strange” if Moscow were not to try to exploit.

And consequently, Putin has moved back into the Middle East in much the same way the Soviet leadership did during the Cold War, as a region of competition with the US “in which Moscow has nothing particular to lose” unless and until Washington shows a new willingness to counter him.

If Putin is able to get Obama to agree to his terms in Syria: Russian support for the fight against ISIS in exchange for the West’s acceptance of Assad’s remaining in power, then, von Eggert says, “America will suffer yet another diplomatic defeat and [Putin] will be confirmed as a politician without whose participation no major international problem can be resolved.”

“More than that,” the Moscow commentator says, “until the end of the Obama presidency, Moldova, Kazakhstan, and Belarus will have reason to be nervous. For in the Kremlin, such a development of events will be viewed as carte blanche for a new expansion in the post-Soviet space, and even possibly into the Baltic countries.”

But if Obama and the West do not agree, then “the situation for official Moscow could become quite unfavorable.” Russia is “not the largest, most influential and richest player in the Middle East scene,” and Putin would have to face potentially serious problems both there and at home.

“Terror inside Russia and against objects linked with it abroad, the taking prisoner and execution of Russian troops, the gradual broadening of a military presence in Syria and the prospect of being dragged into a full-scale war on the ground are only some of the undesirable but possible consequences,” von Eggert says.

At home, polls show that most Russians are not enthusiastic about any campaign in Syria and “the overwhelming majority of Russian Muslims are Sunnis.” Consequently, “the Kremlin’s struggle to save the Assad regime which is viewed namely as the hangman of Syrian Sunis is hardly going to please them.”

And thus Putin might discover that “leaving the Middle East without losing face…would be more difficult than doing so from Ukraine,” von Eggert says, offering in conclusion the following analogy that the Kremlin leader may ultimately have to face.

“The legitimization of a political regime with the help of ‘small victorious wars’ recalls a bicycle race: it is impossible to stop; one must keep pedaling. And thus risk a major defeat. Vladimir Putin, [by going into Syria as he has,] is risking just that.”

Robert C. Jones

Tue, 10/06/2015 - 10:39am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

I suspect Russian leaders reasonably see ISIS as a threat to destabilizing the tenuous hold on their own Muslim populations. This is an effort to buy down that risk, and also likely why they aren't targeting ISIS in the effort to help Assad.

Outlaw 09

Tue, 10/06/2015 - 10:25am

In reply to by Robert C. Jones

N°1 #Syria myth is the 'lack' of US support narrative

CIA assistance to rebels is the most extensive program they ran for years - worldwide

Second myth--the Syria is "vital" to Russia---totally disconnected from Russian mainland and the harbor port was never really rehabbed as needed.

"Vital" yes for their "altered state of reality" narrative of being a superpower---the so called ability to out best the US in the ME and Europe.

Outlaw 09

Tue, 10/06/2015 - 10:05am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Appears Russian air maps are way way wrong-----seems they cannot find IS anywhere in Syria and Iraq??????

Syria Still not a single proof (video, image...) of #Russia'n airstrikes on #IslamicState-positions

Outlaw 09

Tue, 10/06/2015 - 5:54am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Russian Ambo on the carpet: "@AFP: #BREAKING Turkey says Russian envoy summoned to 'strongly protest' second air space violation"

DOES Russia really want a war with NATO--which they could not get triggered in eastern Ukraine??? From their actions--yes.

Kremlin does it again after #Turkey says they will open fire on Russian planes next time, just to check if true.

First it was a navigation error, then the weather and now what......?

Reuters Top News ✔ @Reuters
Russia says checking claim its plane violated Turkey's airspace for second time

Outlaw 09

Tue, 10/06/2015 - 5:34am

In reply to by Robert C. Jones

Well worth listening to----

@joshua_landis on ISIS, Ethnic Cleansing & the”Great Sorting Out“ in Mid East … Fascinating as there will be violence whether we are in the game or not in the game--so if in then we might as well be able to mellow the rough edges of what is going to happen whether we like it or not.

BTW with IS it is well under way in the areas they control as it is within the areas Shia militia control.

How many Americans actively fluently speak Russian, Ukrainian and or Arabic and it's dialects??

How do we even know what the various civil societies in those areas are even thinking and or really want???

"Learning a new language isn't only learning different words, but another way to think about things” - F. Lewis

Robert C. Jones

Tue, 10/06/2015 - 3:17am

A fine mess indeed. At least Russia is acting on truly vital interests, rather than the contrived ones we use so often.

We are seeing unfold the results of empowered populations acting out against hundreds of years of governance that has been heavily manipulated by external powers, with the added component of the larger Sunni-Shia competition. is there chaos? Certainly. Chaos and revolution go hand in glove, but are often the only path available for populations to move from externally influenced artificial stability and oppression, toward self-determined governance with a legitimacy all of their own.

This will get worse before it gets better, and I do not see how US interests are well served by taking sides. Time to stop letting the various "tails" involved in this mess wag the American "dog" by playing on our fears, emotions, and misplaced sense that we have some duty to "fix" all of this.

The political ecosystem of the region is contrived and diseased. It may just have to burn and allow new, mote natural governance to grow successively from the ashes. Perhaps we could act in more neutral ways to mitigate the violence; but to take sides and add violence only puts us at risk of being sucked into a fight that is not ours, that weakens us against real threats that are emerging elsewhere, and that creates powerful vectors for acts of transnational terrorism back onto the American people.

We did very well in this region (and elsewhere) for 150 years under policies guided by the philosophy of George Washington. Time to reconsider going back to what worked.

Outlaw 09

Mon, 10/05/2015 - 2:51pm

Shocker: Putin lied abt no ground forces. CNN reporting #Russia artillery+ seen moving from Latakia to Idlib. #Syria

Outlaw 09

Mon, 10/05/2015 - 8:49am

Actually when you think about it---the comment is very valid---

What is striking is the fact that ISIS is not complaining about Russia bombardment. Only regional & international players in Syria r.

WHY Russia is bombing all opponents of IS---I would stay quiet also and hope the Russian keep up the attacks.

So is Russia an actual ally or enemy of IS???

Valid question-----

Outlaw 09

Mon, 10/05/2015 - 8:28am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

NOW going from bad to simply worse-----

Turkey says it has evidence of #Russia deliberately targeting civilians.

AT some point Obama has to get ahead of the events NOT behind the events if he is to have any form of creditability left in the ME and Europe.

IT is beginning to appear as if they is absolutely no US leadership to be seen anywhere any longer.

#Turkey warns #Russia of possible direct conflict if air space is violated again.

Oh... here we go again with the Russian eastern Ukraine excuse of "we got lost"---the RuAF has a very tight command and control regime--a Russian pilot does not get simply "lost".

NATO will meet today to discuss #Russia's provocation, #Kremlin meanwhile claims it was due to navigation error

NOW THIS just in-----
Hurriyet Daily News
‏@HDNER #BREAKING: Two #Turkish fighter jets harassed by MIG-29 for 5 minutes: Army

Turkey remembers it was a Russian crewed AD system that shot down their RF4 over international waters this summer.
Also Turkey shares a common border with Syria not ar from Damascus---

Outlaw 09

Mon, 10/05/2015 - 8:04am

Is Turkey getting ready to pull the trigger on NATO's Article 5??????

Turkey consulting US, France, Italy, UK, Germany & @NATO Sec Gen after #Russia violated its airspace

Remember Turkey has the largest standing army and to a degree AF in all of NATO.

They will be calling for the US to leave the Patriots in place and when necessary fire on Russian aircraft under Article 5.

Obama will be hard pressed to not give in as he needs the Turkish airfield.


Mon, 10/05/2015 - 7:04pm

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Dude, get real: nobody reads the comments you post here. There are too many of them and they are too repetitive and hysterical. You use this place like a Twitter feed without character limits; it crushes discussion and drives people away. In general, more than 2 posts without reply is a civil limit. This place is for discussion, not monologue.

Also, just out of curiosity, why do you insist on using hashtags on a forum where they don't connect to anything? Are cutting and pasting from Twitter?

We are in the game, to a carefully controlled extent. Given that it is a pointless and counterproductive game that we are not going to win - I don't think anyone is quite sure what winning would even be - we would be well advised to keep that extent controlled, and to reduce it as much as possible.

"Winning", very simply, is achieving the political goal that led you into a conflict in the first place. In the absence of any realistic and achievable goal, winning is an illusion, because you can't achieve a goal if you haven't got one.

You can't even begin discussion of intervention without answering the basic questions:

What is the end state goal? Is it realistically achievable?

What practical strategy exists for achieving that goal?

How do you propose to extricate if your strategy succeeds? If it fails?

Do we have answers? I think not.

Outlaw 09

Mon, 10/05/2015 - 7:56am

In reply to by Outlaw 09

Can this administration get any worse???---does it not seem that there is no one at home anymore in DC.

WE the US taxpayers have literally spent hundreds, hundreds of millions of dollars in intel new equipment/analysis centers worldwide, increased intel collection at all embassies, massive increase in SOF manpower, drones, intel satellites, ISR equipment that no on other nation can match and increased HUMINT by about 800% not to speak of the OSINT side AND the millions in defense contracts for thousands of defense contractors to assist the IC.

AND then this today---come on just how bad does have to get before people start seriously asking the question WHERE is the President in all of this??

Come on seriously............

"US officials admit they underestimated complexities on ground n #Syria"…