Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 24, 2012

Open Thread 2012-30

Found nothing I'd like to write about so this one is for your news & views.

Posted by b on November 24, 2012 at 01:21 PM | Permalink

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While the US promotes militarization in Asia, as a component of its "pivot" to Asia-Pacific, its rival China goes with its more successful economic model.

PERTH: At the recent annual Australia-U.S. Ministerial meeting in Perth, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and their Australian counterparts launched discussions on granting the United States further access to air bases in Northern Australia and to several naval ports, including one on the Indian Ocean just south of Perth. They also announced that the Pentagon would establish a powerful radar and space telescope in Australia to monitor Asian airspace.

CANBERRA: A white paper by a government appointed commission emphasized the centrality of China and Southeast Asia to Australia's future and called for a dramatic shift of Australian economic, educational, commercial, diplomatic, and strategic policies away from their traditional U.S. orientation and toward Asia.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—A plan by Asian leaders to start talks on one of the world's biggest trade pacts could accelerate the global economy's shift to the fast-growing region and would overshadow Washington's separate push for a trade deal with Asia. The push by Asia-Pacific leaders to establish a trading bloc that would cover almost one-third of the global economy threatens to overshadow Washington's plans for a trans-Pacific economic partnership. Sixteen countries including China, Japan, India and Australia are aiming to establish the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, which officials say will allow a greater flow of goods and services and avoid a "noodle bowl" of overlapping deals—even as countries within the region pursue bilateral and trilateral trade deals.

China is also working on a free trade agreement with Taiwan and Japan. In Taiwan the ROC Ministry of Economic Affairs said Nov. 21 that it will accelerate completion of follow-up consultations on the Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with China and seek to sign free trade agreements with Taiwan’s trading partners.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 24, 2012 2:30:01 PM | 1

Chinese trade + US military. The average Australian can probably live with that. As long as it doesn't mean too much Asian immigration.

Posted by: dh | Nov 24, 2012 2:49:11 PM | 2

With the Asian landmass deep in the northern hemisphere and Australia deep in the southern one, US military forces in Australia are only of interest to the geographically challenged like the Americans recently in Perth, which is almost five thousand miles from Hong Kong.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 24, 2012 3:06:02 PM | 3

Mayan descendants don't seem to appreciate the government of Guatemala exploiting the Mayan 2012 charade for profit (sarcasm).

Posted by: lizard | Nov 24, 2012 3:06:49 PM | 4

the last gasp of the neocons

As Syria crumbles, Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds are being drawn into a regional web of sectarian allegiances. Karl Marx once called on workers of the world to unite across national boundaries. He told them that they had more in common with each other than with the ruling classes that oppressed them in the name of nationalism. Marx exhorted workers to throw off the “false consciousness” of national identity.

Today’s Karl Marx is Iran. It envisions the spread of its influence among Shiites, uniting them under the theocratic flag of Tehran — destroying the integrity of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Lebanon. Iran uses terrorist groups, Hezbollah and the Shiite militias in southern Iraq to do its bidding. Syria is the linchpin, the bridge into the Arab Middle East. Tehran no longer hides the fact that its security forces are working in Syria to prop up Assad. In this context, Tehran’s sprint toward a nuclear weapon is a problem not just for Israel but the region as a whole.

compare to the same paper

U.S. and Syrian sources agree that to create military unity, the CIA will have to push friendly intelligence services to pool funding and other support behind a unified command. U.S. officials hope that process will happen over the next month, but rebel leaders fear that this could be too late.

A coherent, non-extremist military structure is crucial, finally, because it could provide the path for an eventual settlement that halts all-out sectarian war. Otherwise, this will be a fight to the death between Assad’s goons and radical jihadists — with poor Syria shattered in the process.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 24, 2012 3:26:08 PM | 5

New: Houla Massacre: Burning the Hospital

Research done here

Posted by: CE | Nov 24, 2012 3:33:25 PM | 6

Tom Ricks will be at this FDL Book Salon...!

It'll be starting shortly if anybody's interested...! ;-)

Posted by: CTuttle | Nov 24, 2012 4:51:11 PM | 7

PERTH: At the recent annual Australia-U.S. Ministerial meeting in Perth, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and their Australian counterparts launched discussions on granting the United States further access to air bases in Northern Australia and to several naval ports, including one on the Indian Ocean just south of Perth. They also announced that the Pentagon would establish a powerful radar and space telescope in Australia to monitor Asian airspace.
don bacopn 1
---------------
at no point have either 'democratic' leaders asked the australian people what we want....this is purely dictatorial

Posted by: brian | Nov 24, 2012 6:20:20 PM | 9

Chinese trade + US military. The average Australian can probably live with that. As long as it doesn't mean too much Asian immigration.

Posted by: dh | Nov 24, 2012 2:49:11 PM | 2

speaking as an australian .,...NO! to the US military presence

Posted by: brian | Nov 24, 2012 6:21:38 PM | 10

@10. Glad to hear it brian. What do you think Stephen Smith means by 'greater access to facilities"?

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-08-02/smith-rejects-us-base-proposal/4171086

Posted by: dh | Nov 24, 2012 6:46:46 PM | 11

Australians need to recognise that amerika has one interest and only one interest in Oz. That is to maintain their current hegemony over the resources contained within the Australian continent. China has to deal with amerikan corporations to buy australian resources. Anything else is just window dressing. Ask the Fijians what they think of amerikan intervention in the pacific. Frank Bainimarama staged fiji's 4th and mmost corruptly inspired Fijian coup. The rest of the pacific nations hung tough on Bainimarama refusing him or his govt access to neigbours facilities because he is busy flogging off traditional lands to all comers. Some of whom were Chinese and Indian investors.
So once amerika decided that Hilary needed to make a show of buyin back into the pacific the first thing state dept did was bail out the dictatorship, right as the targetted sanctions against coup leaders and enablers was begining to gain traction and force a return to elections.

Why? For the same reason amerika and its english puppet organised a coup against Gough Whitlam in the 1970's. It suited their strategic goals and fuck the people who live there, they don't count.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Nov 24, 2012 7:07:53 PM | 12

Russia Sends Warships To Gaza Coast

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2012-11-24/russia-sends-warships-gaza-coast

Posted by: Marc | Nov 24, 2012 9:13:50 PM | 13

Marc -- Do you think the Zero-Hedge story is right? If it is, how meaningful is it?

Posted by: Cynthia | Nov 24, 2012 9:22:34 PM | 14

@9

Same thing in the US. Since the 2 parties are in full accord on US foreign policy, there was absolutely no partisan electoral gain in raising any foreign policy issues in this past election.

The policies are a given, nothing at all for the electorate to worry its little heads over, despite the fact that in poll after poll, the US public supports deep cuts in military spending and no imperial expansion.

Posted by: sleepy | Nov 24, 2012 10:09:13 PM | 15

http://www.businessinsider.com/russia-sends-warships-off-coast-of-gaza-2012-11

The most significant development from the Gaza war is that the position of the United States as a facilitator of peace has been dismissed and a new sheriff is in town: Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.

It’s very difficult to find in the U.S. media the details of the ceasefire agreement arranged by Egypt, but those details signify just how powerful a broker Egypt has become and how Israel is weaker after Obama’s prejudicial actions and coverage in the world press. IOW, this was a dangerous escalating war with rising death tolls and because of a pro-Israel stance, the Obama Administration was powerless to stop the fighting, nor did it care.

The pro-Israel U.S. press misses the story and its significance; so to find this background one must go elsewhere. In this case, Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, today outlines the significance of the ceasefire agreement and the weaknesses that have come to Israel.

QUOTE:

Putting aside the precariousness of the current situation and the accompanying uncertainties, it still seems useful to look at the process by which the ceasefire was brought about, how this sheds light on the changing dynamics of the conflict itself, as well on some underlying shifts in the regional and global balances of forces.

First of all, the role and outlook of the Arab governments was far more pro-active than in the past interludes of intensified Israel/Palestine violence. During the just-concluded attacks, several prominent foreign ministers from the region visited Gaza and were received by the Hamas governing authorities, thus undermining the longstanding Israeli effort to isolate Hamas and exclude it from participation in diplomacy. Egypt played the critical role in brokering the agreement, and despite the Muslim Brotherhood affiliation of its leaders. Mohammed Morsi, the Egyptian President, emerged as the key diplomatic figure, widely praised by the West for his "pragmatism", which can be understood as meaning his capacity to address the concerns of both sides without intruding his own pro-Palestinian outlook. Indeed, such a brokered agreement inverted what the Americans have brought to the table in past negotiations, a pretension of balance, a reality of partisanship.

Secondly, the text of the agreement implicitly acknowledged Hamas as the governing authority of Gaza, and thereby gives it, at least temporarily, a greatly enhanced status among Palestinians, regionally, and internationally. Its claim to be a legitimate representative of the Palestinian people has now become plausible, making Hamas a political actor that has for the moment been brought in from the terrorist cold. While Hamas remains formally "a terrorist organisation" in the eyes of Israel, the United States, and Europe, throughout this just-concluded feverish effort to impose a ceasefire on the conflict, Hamas was treated as "a political actor" with sovereign authority to speak for the people in Gaza. Such a move represents a potential sea change, depending on whether there is an effort to build on the momentum achieved or a return to the futile Israeli/US policy of excluding Hamas from diplomatic channels by insisting that it be classified as a terrorist organisation. Correspondingly, the Palestinian Authority, and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, have been awkwardly sidelined, overshadowed, and made to appear irrelevant in the midst of this latest terrible ordeal affecting the Palestinian people.

Thirdly, Israel accepted as integral conditions of the ceasefire two sets of obligations toward the people of Gaza that it would never have agreed to before it launched its Pillar of Defence operation: (1) agreeing not to engage in "incursions and targeting of individuals" and (2) agreeing to meet to arrange for the "opening the crossings and facilitating the movements of people and the transfer of goods, and refraining from restricting residents free movement, and targeting residents in border areas". If implemented by Israel, this means the end of targeted assassinations and the lifting of the blockade that has tormented Gaza for more than five years. These are major setbacks for the Israeli policy. The political acceptance by Tel Aviv of a prohibition on targeted assassinations, if respected, renounces a favourite tactic of Israeli governments for many years, which although generally regarded as illegal was still practiced by Israel with impunity. Indeed, the most dramatic precipitating event in the recent controversial unfolding crisis timeline was the killing of Ahmed Jabari on November 14, a military/political leader of Hamas, who at the very time was negotiating a truce relating to cross-border violence.

Fourthly, the role of the United States, while still significant, was considerably downsized by these other factors, especially the need to allow Egypt to play the main role as arbiter. This suggests a regionalisation of diplomacy that diminishes the importance and seriously erodes the legitimacy of extra-regional interference. This is bad news for the Israelis. Turkey, also now a sharp critic of Israel, as well as Egypt played a significant role in defusing the escalating crisis. There exists a revealing gap between the US insistence all along that Israel's use of force was fully justified because every country has the right to defend itself and the ceasefire text that placed restrictions on future violence as applicable to both sides. After the ceasefire, the United States must make a defining choice: Either continue its role as Israel's unconditional enabler or adopt a more "pragmatic" approach to the conflict in the manner of Morsi. If it remains primarily an enabler, its diplomatic role is likely to diminish rapidly, but if it should adopt a balanced approach, it might still be able to take the lead in establishing a real peace process that considers the rights of both sides under international law. To make such a shift credible, President Obama would have to make a major speech to the American people explaining why it is necessary to choose between partisanship and diplomacy in reshaping its future relationship to the conflict. However sensible such a shift would be both for American foreign policy but also for the stability of the region, it is highly unlikely to happen. There is nothing in Obama's resume that suggests a willingness to go to the people to circumvent a dysfunctional outlook in the US Congress.

Fifthly, the United Nations was made to seem almost irrelevant, despite the presence of the Secretary General in the region during the diplomatic endgame. Ban Ki Moon did not help matters by seeming to echo the sentiments coming from Washington, calling attention almost exclusively to Israeli defensive rights. The UN could provide more neutral auspices for future negotiations if it were to disentangle itself from Western geopolitics. To do this would require withdrawing from participation in the Quartet, and pledging a commitment to a sustaining and just peace for both peoples. As with United States, it is highly unlikely that the UN would make such a move, at least not without permission from Washington. As with Obama, there is nothing in the performance of Ban Ki Moon as Secretary General that suggests the willingness and capacity to act independently when the stakes are high.

Sixthly, the immediate aftermath of the ceasefire was a call from the Gaza streets for Palestinian unity, symbolised by the presence of Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine flags all flying in harmonious co-existence. As the New York Times commented, "a rainbow not visible here in years". If Palestinian unity holds, and becomes a practical reality, including elections throughout Occupied Palestine, it may turn out that the ceasefire is more than a temporary tense truce, but is a new beginning in the long march toward Palestinian justice. (Zerohedge comment)

Posted by: Marc | Nov 24, 2012 10:35:53 PM | 16

Like father, like son

On the USA-Mexico border
The fatal shooting of a Mexican teenager suspected of throwing rocks at U.S. Border Patrol agents has prompted strong condemnations from Mexican officials and human rights groups amid a sharp increase in agent-involved killings along the U.S.-Mexico border. In September, Guillermo Arevalo Pedroza was killed on the banks of the Rio Grande in Nuevo Laredo after agents on an airboat allegedly came under a rock attack. Mexican officials say he was picnicking with his family. "The disproportionate use of lethal force in the exercise of immigration control functions is unacceptable under any circumstances," the Mexican Ministry of Exterior Relations said in a statement. "These kinds of acts, especially because they are recurring, have been rejected by Mexican society and all of the country's political powers." Agents in such cases are rarely prosecuted. -- LATimes

On the Israel-Palestine border
One adult has been killed and 19 others injured after Israeli soldiers opened fire at the Gaza-Israel border. The incident happened east of the village of Khuzaa in southern Gaza. The deceased was identified as 21-year-old Abdelhadi Qdeih, Palestinian emergency services told AFP. The clash erupted after a group of Palestinian farmers wandered into the disputed 300-meter buffer zone along the border. The farmers reportedly may have entered the buffer zone to check on their crops after hearing a news report claiming that travel restrictions had been lifted for the area. “They were not rioting. They were really trying to see if it was possible for farmers to return to their land. -- RT News

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 25, 2012 12:17:54 AM | 17

@Marc #18

If this is true, 2012 will truly be a resurrection of the AMerican Republic.

Posted by: Sonic Boom | Nov 25, 2012 2:40:22 AM | 19

Israeli War Crimes against Palestine: Witness Testimonies

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Nov 25, 2012 6:24:06 AM | 20

CNN (US)had a winners and losers section, winners included Morsi, Hamas,Bibi and Isreal (duh), and the US. Losers included Iran (because a lot of its supplied rockets were shot down) and Fatah.
I would suggest a slightly different list; Morsi, Hamas, Iran (because it supplied rockets and plenty of them). Losers are Bibi who was not even allowed to have a 'mowing the grass' campaign in the run up to Isreali elections; the US who was forced to make Bibi sign a truce rather than have its Syrian adventure fall on its face, No jihadi is going fight for a force with ties to the great Satan after it allowed Gaza to be flattened. Fatah still is a loser.

Posted by: heath | Nov 25, 2012 8:19:55 AM | 21

Sleepy @ 15 says: "The policies are a given, nothing at all for the electorate to worry its little heads over, despite the fact that in poll after poll, the US public supports deep cuts in military spending and no imperial expansion."


Yep, and since I believe the long term goal of the trans-nationals is natural resource hegemony around the globe, ignoring the public's wants will continue.

Posted by: ben | Nov 25, 2012 9:41:04 AM | 22

- On Syria and MANPADS again, a few pieces of news. StrategyPage.com looks at the latest evidence of SA-24's in Syria and discusses what it means:

Syrian rebels appear to have Russian SA-24 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles. At least that’s what recent photos from Syria appear to show. Syrian rebels have kept their cause in the news, at least on the Internet, by sending a constant stream of cell phone photos and videos. Some of the recent videos indicate rebel fighters carrying Russian SA-24 missiles.
The SA-24 in the hands of terrorists could bring down helicopters and airliners taking off. The SA-24 is a heat seeker but it does not just go for the engine exhaust but rather any part of the aircraft. This makes the SA-24 more dangerous because if they just go for the engine exhaust these missiles often do little damage.

One Youtube video uploaded last week shows a rebel displaying around 7 SA-24 launchers and missiles to go with them.

- On Palestine I think it is too soon to talk about who won or lost, especially when it comes to the regional players. My opinion would be that its clear now what Obama's plan is for the resistance axis and its a solid one. He is not taking on Iran directly (with a war) but it attempting to destroy Iran's influence and proxies to leave Iran alone. Destroy Syria to cut off the supply lines from Iran-Iraq to Hezbollah. Use Qatar to buy off Hamas and use Egypt to bring Hamas into the MB fold. Once Hamas and Syria are out of the Resistance camp then fight another Lebanon war with Hezbollah.

Editor of Al Akhbar, Ibrahim Al Amin, who supports the Resistance camp has a piece advising caution.

There is a dense layer of smoke in the air concealing signs that are cause for concern for the future of the Palestinian cause. At best, they invite vigilance and raise questions about the resistance’s strategy in the aftermath of this victory.

In yesterday’s edition of Yedioth Ahronoth, senior commentator Nahum Barnea had the following to say about the cease-fire: “The US administration is trying to use the understanding to strengthen the Sunni axis in the Arab world against the Shia axis. The enemy is Shia Iran and Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah and Syria. The Sunni alliance consists of Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Palestinian Authority, and the Gulf emirates, with Jordan on the margins. Hamas will have to choose between Iran and Egypt. If Iran could offer missiles and money, Egypt will offer immunity from Israeli attack, sovereignty over Gaza, and an open door to the world.”

Alot of people say that Israel didn't succeed in anything during the week long Gaza bombing. However we don't know what Israels goals were. It could have been to seperate Hamas from Iran. In this case there is a path to Israeli success.

A second option is that the members of the Turkey-Egypt-Gulf axis quickly inundate Hamas and the people of Gaza with love and affection in the form of reconstruction aid. The support would be linked, however, to guarantees that everything wouldn’t just be destroyed again.

This could have been the Israeli plan. Drop 1,300 bombs on Gaza then allow Egypt, Saudi, Qatar, and Turkey to rebuild it, but the aid comes with the condition that Hamas cuts links to Iran and goes into the MB Axis.


Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Nov 25, 2012 10:29:31 AM | 23

@ Colm O' Toole 23
Syrian rebels appear to have Russian SA-24 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.

I posted on Oct 18:

I imagine that besides SA-7's there were also Russian Igla-S (SA-24) shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles that had been sold to Libya and stolen from military warehouses during the rebellion there last year. The SA-24's have shown up in Gaza. The SA-24 "Grinch" is very dangerous. It has a range of some three miles, a powerful warhead, and a guidance system that lets it find targets at night. It is similar to the U.S. Stinger that so distressed the Soviets in Afghanistan. Introduced in 1983, it can hit a plane at 11,000 feet. It can also down drones and cruise missiles, and helicopters are toast.
"A game-changer" for the Syria rebels, and so Stevens had to be there in Benghazi.
Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 18, 2012 11:11:45 PM | 12

and KenM came back with:
The Libyan Igla-S systems can't be fired as stand-alone Manpads - they were part of a truck-mounted system without individual triggering mechanisms.
http://www.think-dash.com/2011/03/libyan-sa-24-cant-be-used-as-manpads.html

which linked to:
Libyan SA-24 Can't Be Used as MANPADS
Libyan SA-24 Can't Be Used as MANPADS: "A top official from Russian KBM Machine-building design bureau confirmed it was his company that supplied the Libyan government forces with the truck mounted short-range anti-aircraft Igla-S (SA-24 Grinch) missiles recently spotted by the international media.

But certainly the anti-Syria forces have trucks.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 25, 2012 10:57:30 AM | 24

colm 23 don't know about Israel as they seem to be in a reactionary rip current born out of fustration since they can't destroy or even beat up on the Palestinans without losing US support if it means interfering in US plans for reestablishing some hegemony over the region, can't go for a one state solution since that would destroy the Jewish state and can't accept the two state solution which means removing settlers from the West Bank.

Posted by: heath | Nov 25, 2012 11:42:02 AM | 25

Reuters
China has carried out its first successful landing of a fighter jet on its first aircraft carrier.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 25, 2012 11:44:13 AM | 26

Yahoo news is now featuring as top headline that rebels captured an airbase near Damascus. According to the story, the rebels only briefly captured the base then withdrew for fear of airstrikes. The story relies entirely on rebel claims but they seem to have video of destroyed and undamaged helicopters.

If true it is a bad sign, though rebels have been well known to make up false claims in the past. Video evidence has to checked out to see if it is stock footage from another war.

There will not be a collapse of the government in Syria but we can end up with a situation where loyalists form but one of many competing forces fighting in the country.

Posted by: Lysander | Nov 25, 2012 11:47:59 AM | 27

There is a lot of psychological warfare going on just now, I guess.

If someone like the Director of Brookings Doha risks his reputation by retweeting stuff like this

Luisa Zangh ‏@LuisaZangh

#URGENT: Residents in #Damas being told either leave or evacuate loved ones as FSA plan major offensives in coming days. #Syria Pls. spread
Retweeted by Salman Shaikh
14h Al Sarraj Al Sarraj ‏@AlaaSarraj

#FSA is gaining ground in Syria. Expect dramatic changes in center of #Damascus soon. Please pray for #Syria and civilian Syrians
Retweeted by Salman Shaikh

then I assume the Syrian regime is pretty secure.

This here is filmed by Russians from the Syrian Arab Army side - use google translate - they seem to have cleared many areas around Damascus.

And this twitter account tried to spread the news that FSA fighters had got access to chemical weapons - he basically informed all the media twitter accounts with accompanying video - no reaction as far as I can tell.

And Turkey now has Kurdish fighters on its borders - clashing with Turkish supported jihadi fighters.

Plus Iran's Parliament Speaker tours Syria, Lebanon and Turkey.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 25, 2012 12:15:29 PM | 28

@ Don Bacon

Not sure about the "can't be used as MANPADS" argument. A quick look at the SA-24 Wiki Page has them classed as MANPADS. Just because they get mounted doesnt mean they lose the designation.

It is just the definition of Man Portable Air Defence Systems. SA-24 are still "man portable" they can be fired and then picked up and moved, weighing around 40 pounds. A good picture of 2 mounted SA-24's are also on the Wiki page here mounted on a Mercedes Benz.

On another note, that video I linked to of the Syrian rebels showing off their SA's also show a few painted Yellow. A yellow color on the SA-24's mean that those are demonstration models and so are completely useless. Guess the Free Syrian Army should have done some research before buying.

However something is shooting down Syrian helicopters. Another youtube video from last week. Shows the flaming wreckage of a Mi-8 helicopter.

@ Heath

Agree the Gaza attack could have been just out of frustration. Could also have been a test of the Iron Dome, or a test to see how the new Egypt would react. Maybe it is not a plot to seperate Hamas from Iran. But still vigilance is needed against any moves. That's what the point of the Al Akhbar article was. People shouldn't just assume that Hamas came out better from the Gaza War. The situation is still murky.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Nov 25, 2012 12:51:36 PM | 29

I think it's possibly red pill versus blue pill time here in the Matrix. With one dose you are soothed by pleasing untruths; yet with the other you see things as they really are. Obama rooting out dual-national Israeli moles in the US government woodwork? Really? That's maybe a story to feed the Iranians to lull them to sleep. The Iranians are probably not asleep; but they are nodding and smiling and catapulting the fairytale as if they believe it could be real. How stands Morsi and the MB on overthrowing Assad? How stands Turkey on overthrowing Assad? How stands US/Israel/NATO on overthrowing Assad? How stands Saudi Arabia and Qatar on overthrowing Assad? This is all you need to know. Keep your eye on the ball. Accept no substitutes. Half measures will avail you nothing!

The most inconsistent, illogical, erratic part of this fantasy ignores Russian minister Lavrov's warning that a big war is looming, if the Turkish-Syrian border is more dangerously militarized; the fantasy ignores the Israeli government's warning that it is about to sink a ship which it claims is bearing missiles to Gaza. There is a lull in the bombing and torment of Gaza. Don't read too much into it.

Also I think it's a mistake to underestimate the significance of Morsi's seizure of illegitimate power; and it's risky to believe he's a peace maker, and it's foolhardy to jump to conclusions as to where his alliances will finally come to rest. And then there is Netanyahu and Obama. Will Netanyahu give up targeted assassinations, ever? Will Obama give up the kill lists, ever? Will either of these men or their delusional societies concede that they are not necessarily God's favorite people, and thus not divinely sanctioned to act with limitless impunity and savagery, in their own self interest.

I'm afraid that the demonic, banker and finance powers, could be setting the players up for a World War, with Russia , China, Iran & Syria on one end, and US/Israel/NATO and the fundamentalist Gulf States on the other. And Eygpt falling who knows where.

Posted by: Copeland | Nov 25, 2012 1:16:31 PM | 30

From: Arundahati's speech "Peace is War" [tyranny of crisis reportage], March 7, 2003.

In the last couple of years, New Media has embarked on just such and enterprise [the neutral free press]. It has descended on Old Media like an annoying swarm of bees buzzing around an old buffalo, going where it goes, stopping where it stops, commenting on and critiquing its every move. ... For the bees (the nice, lefty ones) it's a significant victory, but by no means a conquest. Because it's still the annoyed buffalo stumbling across the plains, lurching from crisis to crisis, from war to war, who sets the pace. ... And eventually, when the buffalo stumbles away, the bees go, too.

... One way to cut loose is to understand that for most people in the world, peace is war -- a daily battle against hunger, thirst, and the violation of their dignity. Wars are often the end result of a flawed peace, a putative peace. And it is the flaws, the systemic flaws in what is normally considered to be "peace," that we ought to be writing about. We have to -- at least some of us have to -- become peace correspondents instead of war correspondents. WE HAVE TO LOSE OUR TERROR OF THE MUNDANE. We have to use our skills and imagination and our art, to re-create the rhythms of the endless crisis of normality, and in doing so, expose the policies and processes that make ordinary things -- food, water, shelter, and dignity -- such a distant dream for ordinary people.

Posted by: Kim Sky | Nov 25, 2012 2:48:32 PM | 31

@27

Clearly, the syrian army - after many months of good resistance and succesfull operations - is now losing this war.
Why?
Just look at the string of well-documented rebel successes all over Syria in the last 2 weeks alone:
- Capture of an oilfield and the Hamdan military airport in Deir al Zour province
- Capture of the key Mayadeen army base also in Deir al Zour
- Overrunning and keeping several border cities and key supply routes in the North: Maarat al Numan, Saraqeb, Ras al Ain
- The defeat and routing of the 46th regiment near Aleppo
- Attacks on the main military airport of Deir al Zour City
- Laying siege and mounting regular attacks on military airports such as Taftanaz
- As of today: Capture of an airbase including the destruction of some aircraft even close to Damascus
- Continueing inability of the syrian army including special forces to secure Aleppo and Damascus
- Almost on a weekly basis Migs or helicopters are shot down
...

What is puzzling and disturbing is that the retreating/escaping army units not even manage to blast their heavy weapons and ammunition stockpiles. Abandoned facilities are not booby trapped. While the pattern is always the same, namely that rebels - often in hundreds - move into captures compounds to take booty and videotape their victory the airforce regularly misses the opportunity to attack them there and kill huge numbers in addition to destroying the lost material.

Communication and intelligence are the keys, and even there the army is losing. How comes none of the many feared intelligence agencies and spy networks anticipates the rebel offensives? I am not talking about avoiding IED or suicide bombings but finding out in advance when key bases are close to a final attack and taking suitable measures.

In the mean time I am losing belief in the few remaining sites full of daily government victories. Where is the evidence? It´s sad but on video platforms you find hundreds if not thousand clips of succesful rebel operations and ambushes resulting in bombed tanks and APCs, downed aircraft, sniped soldiers, blasted patrols. Definitely some clips are blurry, shaky or otherwise unclear but a huge portion is credible wide-angle filming. It is definitely not any studio in Qatar, unfortunately.
On the other hand the government has not anything even remotely comparable. At best one sees soldiers going through destroyed neighborhoods and being greeted by people. Very rarely one sees one of those many "Dushka backed" jeeps that the army supposedly blasts in dozens every 2 days.

What is other readers opinion?

Posted by: KerKaraje | Nov 25, 2012 3:34:31 PM | 32

@kerkaraje, that is all very disconcerting but the posutive is if the rebel victories were all true, I don't think the government could survive till now. Cities like Aleppo and Damascus could not survive even for a week without supply from the countryside. Which leads me to conclude that the government must still control much of the countryside.

Still, overall the news seems grim.

Posted by: Lysander | Nov 25, 2012 4:03:45 PM | 33

@Lysander / 33

The problem is manyfold but the common thing is the apparent lack of coherent strategy and the necessary means on the side of the government.
The rebels are highly mobile and seldom appear anywhere in large stationary concentrations.
They neither have dug any "trenches" nor have they any mentionable fix installations like barracks, checkpoints, airbases, garrissons, intelligence buildings, "headquarters". Without all these there are few worthy targets an airforce such as Syrias (lacking any precision "guided" missiles) could attack effectively.
The rebels strategy is actually smart, even though to my regret: They destroy or capture bases killing or routing the personell and looting the ammo, but they don´t want to keep them knowing well these places are easy to hit targets for the airforce.

The army failed to take the correct measures. The fear of taking relatively minor casualties resulted in game changes which to reverse would result in much bigger casualties, e.g. the army sent columns of 3-4 tanks along with 2 unarmoured jeeps on narrow roads leading through rebel held countryside. There was no vanguard and no air support. In addition the speed of the convoys was usually slow and the distances between the units too close. The outcome was mostly this: The rebels either set off an IED or blasted the first vehicle with an RPG. All other vehicles stopped immediately. From side valleys or near hilltops the rebels rained machine gun fire and RPGs on the convoy which either killed many and destroyed the vehicles. This pattern was repeated again and again often on the same roads maybe 2km further away in one direction.
The solution could have been sending bigger units with 1-2 helicopters securing the front and the rear. These small skirmished boosted the morale of the rebels and allowed them to take weapons from the army.

To me is totally clear that:
- In order to carry out so many almost simultaneous operations the rebels must have at least 70-80.000 men, much more than the 10-20.000 men as some readers here still believe
- with exception of coptors and jets the rebels weaponry is only slightly inferior to the army: By now they have many mortars and multiple rocket launchers. They lack tanks but they seem to have RPGs in masses, and given the 2-3 tanks they blast on daily average this "lack" seems to be an advantage.
- The rebels have devices that enable secure communication and they have intelligence info (sat or drone pictures...)
- They receive information that Nato, Turkey or other friendly intelligence networks have intercepted regarding the syrian armys movements

These are not formerly unarmed, peaceful, democracy demanding middle and low class workers, villagers or academics that turned to weapons for self-defence. These are (at least semi) professionals.

Posted by: KerKaraje | Nov 25, 2012 4:33:25 PM | 34

KerKaraje, I haven't got the time to follow it all but in your list I think e.g.
Maaret al Numan has been retaken by the Syrian Arab Army

Basically rebels and army are taking and retaking the same places.

And - strange enough - the Syrian government keeps the country running

The Syrian Arab army seems to have cleared outside Damascus districts, however, rebels are still able to enter the city center for fights and car bombs. Rebels seem to have dropped any pretense of being a people's army, it is pure terrorism and a strategy - except attrition - is difficult to see.

The last two weeks rumours were spread about a huge attack on Damascus. It has not materialized.

The videos do not tell much e.g. where exactly and when. Countryside is countryside, sky is sky. Airlines still travel to Aleppo and Damascus.


Posted by: somebody | Nov 25, 2012 4:38:08 PM | 35

there is a wikipedia entry on the battle for Battle of Maarrat al-Nu'man

Seems to have lasted for two month now. Sounds like continuous rebel attacks on supply lines to me.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 25, 2012 5:06:22 PM | 36

@32

Syrian Government intelligence and communication is seemingly breaking down. This is why rebels are able to launch successful raids on army posts; escaping with their booty unchecked. Perhaps Turkey's request for patriot missile systems is linked to their assessment of the situation in Syria - that the rebels are winning and Assad's back is now up against the wall. Perhaps the Patriot systems are to protect Turkey from the fear it has that the Syrian Government will lash out as it collapses.

However, a word of caution regarding propaganda. The Syrian army has rarely involved itself in the exhibition of successful military campaigns through glossy camera shoots. The rebels, on the other hand, command youtube.
One British reporter accompanying the Syrian army during its campaign to extinguish 'Operation Volcano' (the failed attempt by rebels to take Damascus - also note the lack of media coverage this received in comparison to the headlines when rebels were reporting their short lived successes) commented that he was forbidden from filming the faces of Syrian soldiers, and the soldiers did not provide their real names. It would seem that there is an effort to conceal the identity of soldiers - presumably to protect their families against kidnap and revenge killings.

So, whilst a string of rebel successes are "well documented", their number might seem exaggerated because they are contrasted with the semi-silence from the western media regarding victories achieved by the Syrian army and the desire from the Syrian Government to keep soldiers protected.

But maybe I'm indulging in wishful thinking...

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Nov 25, 2012 5:20:30 PM | 37

@ somebody / 35&36
Thanks for the links, however, none of them shows Maarat was retaken. The second one in summary reports that 2 helicopters and several tanks were destroyed, while the rebels lost some ground on the perimeters of Maarat. At the same time they apparently have been able to attack the army base at Wadi al Deif again.

I think Aleppo will have fallen by mid February. Fallen in the sense that the rebels will gain upperhand and the army must either retreat completely or arm loyal local militias and let them engage the rebels in city fighting. If they do this well the rebels will let much blood in Aleppo.

It seems the syrian army is not in possession of (sufficient) paratroopers. Instead of combing off neighborhoods (which are shortly later "refilled" with new rebel snipers) the army should bring small mobile units to the rear of rebel held cities like Anaden that supply Aleppan rebels with men and weapons. The army should attack the supply lines and then go for the tunnels in the city itself.

Posted by: KerKaraje | Nov 25, 2012 5:27:47 PM | 38

Suffice it to say that we do not know exactly what is happening in Syria, but the long and short of it is, the 'rebels' wont stop and the answer to making them stop does not lie inside Syria.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar will never run out of money or sucker jihadists. Turkey will not stop being a staging area for foreign fighters. The US and Europe will continue to provide arms, training and intelligence, especially if they smell blood. And so long as this is the case, sooner or later Syria's state institutions will be worn down, even if they put up a good fight and last for a while longer.

For things to change, Syria and its allies need to develop real leverage leverage against KSA/Qatar/Turkey. Assisting the Kurds was a step in the right direction, but apparently not enough to make Erdogan back down. Granted, his Syria policy is unpopular in Turkey but that isn't stopping him.

And it doesn't seem like anything is being done to make the Saudis think twice.

Other than that, if Syria needs manpower, then it should ask former Iraq militia men for help (if they aren't already) and they can form mobile, irregular units in civilian cloths that roam in rebel held territory and attack foreign fighters. That would be a very dirty and bloody thing, but it would be effective.

If none of that is possible then the government should heavily arm and train all loyal citizens so that they can defend themselves against foreign fighters. And prepare themselves to keep fighting should the government fall.

Posted by: Lysander | Nov 25, 2012 5:55:36 PM | 39

38 it is clear that is the narrative part of the media is pushing for

Though they admit that - on the other hand - it might not be the case.

It is even possible that the regime may yet survive, said Charles Lister of the London-based IHS Jane’s defense consultancy. “Taking a longer term view, you can’t look at an asymmetric conflict and determine whether there is going to be a winning side, and I don’t think we are near the end of the Syrian revolution yet,” he said.

Well it definitively is no "revolution". The Washington Post is quite open about it:

U.S. and Syrian sources agree that to create military unity, the CIA will have to push friendly intelligence services to pool funding and other support behind a unified command. U.S. officials hope that process will happen over the next month, but rebel leaders fear that this could be too late.

A coherent, non-extremist military structure is crucial, finally, because it could provide the path for an eventual settlement that halts all-out sectarian war. Otherwise, this will be a fight to the death between Assad’s goons and radical jihadists — with poor Syria shattered in the process.

What I see is that Qatari media, think tanks, Washington Post has been pushing for US engagement in Syria recently. I am not sure the Obama administration wants to go there.
I am also not sure how Turkey feels about the independent Syrian Kurdish state on its borders.


Posted by: somebody | Nov 25, 2012 6:09:54 PM | 40

China lands fighter jet on new carrier in show of force

Oh..., really? We've got 12 of 'em damned things, how shall we label that? Showing off force?

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Nov 25, 2012 6:14:12 PM | 41

On another subject: Black 9/11: Money, Motive, Technology, and Plausible Deniability

Just released today.

Posted by: Copeland | Nov 25, 2012 7:22:16 PM | 42

Remember that wars must have political coherence.

Clausewitz: "War is simply the continuation of political intercourse with the addition of other means."

The anti-Syria politics are incoherent, no more then than now. So take military "victorories" in context. The US never lost a battle in Vietnam, for example.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 25, 2012 7:25:32 PM | 43

Last month (October) the U.S. had receipts of $184,316mn and expenditures of $304,311mn, which resulted in a deficit of $119,995mn (119 billion) or about four billion dollars per day. That wasn't as bad as February (short month) when the the US lost (and had to borrow) $8.2bn per day. The deficit for the last fiscal year Oct-Sep was about $1.1tn or $2.984 bpd. The U.S. National Debt has risen by $6.5 trillion, or 70%, since 2008.
http://www.fms.treas.gov/mts/mts.pdf

Now you keep losing three or four billion dollars per day, year after year, and pretty soon you're talking about real money. (Don't try it at home.)

There's a new theory that says that this deficit doesn't mean squat -- Modern Monetary Theory. MMT says it’s important to understand the government, being sovereign, unlike EU countries for example, is self-funding and can’t run out of money. The government can simply print a trillion-dollar bill or mint a trillion-dollar coin and pay of a trillion dollars of debt. Just like that! Do you buy it?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 25, 2012 8:11:06 PM | 44

@ CoT,

Q: This makes the SA-24 more dangerous because if they just go for the engine exhaust these missiles often do little damage.

R: What?! They explode near a wing, blowing it [partially] off... DHL Plane Struck by Missile in Baghdad

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Nov 25, 2012 8:31:02 PM | 45

Several years ago on a visit to China, I found myself in a hotel elevator with several imposing gentlemen in the uniforms of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There was an agreement between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and China in 2008 to swap 10 million tonnes of copper ore for US$9 billion worth of mine and civic infrastructure. It didn't work out too well. Meantime, the US got involved because DR Congo has lots of copper and cobalt.

Fast forward to today: The UN has 18,000 "peace keepers" in DR Congo, however they have been ineffective. Several thousand armed predators who call themselves the M23 Movement, supported and directed by neighboring Rwanda, which is supported by the US. In 2011, total US aid to Rwanda was $107.2 million; the 2012 figure is slated at $196.4 million. The M23 was launched by former fighters from the Tutsi ethnic group, the minority group that inhabits both Rwanda and DR Congo.

Inner City Press:
UNITED NATIONS, November 25 -- The inaction of UN peacekeepers under Herve Ladsous as M23 mutineers took over Goma and then Sake is one of the biggest UN failures in some time.

latest news from al Jazeera
DR Congo fighters given deadline to exit Goma

Stay tuned. DR Congo will be in the news.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 25, 2012 8:43:05 PM | 46

@44, do I buy it? In a sense. For a thought experiment, suppose Amreeka goes shopping for iron ore."Jobs, votes, freedom!" He tells the vendor, Put it on my tab! What's the guy going to say, Your credit is no good? Not if he doesn't want a Hellfire down his chimney.

So, no I can't see how a lack of funds is going to hamper Amreeka.

Posted by: ruralito | Nov 25, 2012 8:48:47 PM | 47

I liked the comment by Don Bacon at #43 when he said wars must have political coherence and the anti-Syria politics are incoherent. But after thinking about this some more, I think the anti-government politics in Syria is now coherently Islamic. Or at least it has the foundations in place to be so. The rebels are fighting for a new Islamic-type government, and not only do they have God on their side, they have the governments and people of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc on their side, politically, coherently.

Looked at from the angle of the US and UK governments' point of view, the politics are intractably incoherent. But that's unimportant if not completely irrelevant.

Most of the Syrian Sunni clerics have supported and continue to support the government. I can't see them changing their minds about that. From that angle, the politics is incoherent, and it's relevant.

I agree with KerKaraje that the rebels have recently been having successes, and it forces us observers to increase our foggy estimates about the number of rebels on the ground. KerKaraje estimates 75000 armed rebels. That number is not much less than the number of young men who were protesting on the streets on Fridays in summer 2011. Using that yardstick, there isn't upside potential for the rebels to increase their numbers.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Nov 25, 2012 8:58:12 PM | 48

@ruralito
A lot of it depends on interest rates. Interest payments on U.S. government debt are three times spending in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars already, and that is with the lowest interest rate we have seen since the 1960s. A rise in interest rates would increase interest payments dramatically. If interest rates went from the current 3% to 8% (as in 1988) the annual interest cost would be over a trillion dollars.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 25, 2012 9:05:04 PM | 49

Anti-Syrian politics are incoherent. The jihadists don't like the freshened-up new-model SNC, formed in Doha, promoted by the US and recognized by France and Italy.

BEIRUT: A group of Islamist rebel factions in Aleppo has emphatically denounced the Syrian National Coalition and vowed to establish an Islamic state in Syria, highlighting the newly formed body’s struggle to shore up the ranks of the armed opposition.

The Kurds are fighting with the FSA, the FSA units don't accept control from FSA HQ in Turkey -- the list goes on. So military victories and numbers of terrorists don't matter, without the politics. This truism has been proven over and over (in failure) by the US military.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 25, 2012 9:14:17 PM | 50

Re: #44 Modern Monetary Theory -- do you buy it? It's a terribly complex subject, and I don't fully comprehend it, but essentially I do buy it, as far as I've been able to comprehend it.

Under the Modern Monetary Theory, the Syrian government can and should "print money" to keep the Syrian economy functioning right now. This does not necessarily cause price inflation. Syria has been having price inflation for other reasons. "Printing money" just means that the government employees get paid, just like they used to. They spend their money, just like they used to. If the government were to reduce workers' pay or lay off workers, because tax revenues are lower, it would further contract the Syrian economy and would not achieve anything valuable. "Money" is just an entry in a computer account book at a bank. Real money can be created from thin air by simply changing a number in a bank balance.

There is such a thing as a government printing money in a way that destroys the currency, destroys the goose that lays the golden eggs. Complicated subject.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Nov 25, 2012 9:24:41 PM | 51

in a typical *work* day, if they aint bombing the hell outta some
third world countries, murkans collar some poodles to play their
silly war *games*

u'd have thought that they do something less lethal for relaxation?
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article31939.htm

*''They want to be able to fly helicopters, drop out of planes and
shoot at things, and you can't do that in crowded Okinawa,*
http://www.smh.com.au/national/us-marine-base-for-darwin-20111110-1n9lk.html

poor dears, with nothing to shoot at, what the hell are the *boys*
supposed to do with all that free time in okinawa?
*One recent survey by a school teacher on Okinawa found a
third of his female high school students had been sexually
molested by U.S. soldiers, a violation U.S. base officers have
often dismissed as ‘flirting, because boys will be boys.’ *
http://www.uli-schmetzer.com/vicenza.html

would oz be sofaed like japan, philippines, korea
or does sofa
only applies to the lowly asian n other undermechens ?

Posted by: denk | Nov 25, 2012 9:40:49 PM | 52

the fomatting looks good in preview ;-(

Posted by: denk | Nov 25, 2012 9:43:32 PM | 53


Don 44, the question is whether there is any confidence in the currency. The dollar is a unique reserve currency in that, since 1971, it has not been "backed" by precious metals or other reserves. It might be argued that Washington's hegemony in oil producing Arabia is what underpins the dollar, and that this explains why the US is so heavily invested in maintaining Israel as its enforcer in a widening region.

It also underlines Lysander's point that the most efficient response to Saudi/Qatari adventures is to encourage opposition to their governments, whereas, in fact, Syria has always been at pains to appease states like the KSA and Jordan and has nothing to say about the enormous injustices of these societies.

The real danger to the dollar, however, comes from within: much of its credibility internationally is based upon the view that the US state is in no danger of being captured by critics of capitalism and that, come what may, the people who run Wall St, and depend upon the
dollar's credibility abroad, will retain complete control over the government.

If the current bi-partisan campaign to cut social security pensions, medicare, unemployment and other publicly funded benefits is thwarted by popular outrage things might change. But "the markets" sense that the US government is about to take the lead again as every government in Europe, and many others beyond, promotes unemployment, insecurity and poverty while investing massively in the means of repression and social control.

What is going on is no secret: we have seen, with our own eyes, that capitalism has made good trillions of dollars of losses by putting our names, and the names of generations unborn, on the bottom of a pile of notes promising to pay off their gambling debts before spending a cent on such fripperies as health, education and welfare. So long as this continues, and capitalists milk the poor with impunity, there will be no fear that any debts they accumulate will not be paid.

But, just as Riyadh's interest in Syrian democracy would not last a minute if the people of Riyadh were to insist on some and the National Guard were to refuse to shoot down protesters, so if America's elderly were to insist on receiving their entitlements, and its youth were to insist on its right to work or to be educated and to share in the land's bounty, the theory that governments can write any cheques they choose because the people are always dumb enough to honour them, without question, will be seen to be as lame today as it did to Tom Paine when he examined its parent theory- "The Decline and Fall of the English System of Finance"- in 1796.

Posted by: bevin | Nov 25, 2012 10:04:29 PM | 54

In Syria, the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, an al Qaeda-linked jihadist group, seems to be the most effective fighting (and suicide) unit. Al Nusrah commanded a Free Syrian Army unit and Chechen fighters during recent assaults on Syrian military bases, and it has claimed responsibility for a couple dozen suicide bombings including the one on Syrian Army HQ.

The newly-crowned Syrian National Coalition does not have any real connection with, much less control over, the sectarian militias, Islamic jihadists, foreign fighters and suicide bombers who are playing the principal role in waging a civil war for regime-change inside Syria. And of course the al Nusrah Qaeda-linked jihadist group would never be accepted by the west.


Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 25, 2012 10:16:07 PM | 55

@51, have you been reading Mosler's 7 Deadly Innocent Frauds?

This is what happens when all U.S. government debt comes due, which happens continuously. The Fed removes dollars from savings accounts and adds dollars to checking accounts on its books. When people buy Treasury securities, the Fed removes dollars from their checking accounts and adds them to their savings accounts. So what’s all the fuss? It’s all a tragic misunderstanding.

Posted by: ruralito | Nov 25, 2012 10:29:46 PM | 56

Confidence in US currency depends, finally, in confidence in the US people and their economy. That means looking at the future. (Warning: I'm no economist.)

The US propensity for wasting money on military hardware and adventures is of course legendary, but the big gorilla in the room (in my amateur opinion) is medical costs, which are increasing much faster than GDP. The US model is that medical costs for US working people, in companies over a certain small size, must be borne by employers -- almost unique in the world (perhaps not in Germany?). As these costs skyrocket, as they will, US companies will become more and more non-competitive.

What do we mean by skyrocketing medical costs? A few factoids:
* the cost of surgical procedures in the US is far in excess of costs elsewhere.
* a night in a US hospital room costs about $15,000.
* the cost of health insurance continues to climb for US companies and workers, with annual family premiums this year growing at a pace triple that of 2010 and outpacing wage increases,
* the US has the lowest life expectancy and highest infant mortality rates of developed countries
* two-thirds of Americans are overweight and half of these are obese.
* also, worker real take-home pay has been stagnant or decreasing, and there is high unemployment.

So deficits will increase as costs increase, and increased taxation is not politically possible. Meanwhile there are other countries without huge debt and negative account balances, the petro-dollar is being threatened by new exchanges (mandated somewhat by Iran sanctions), and China's yuan (renminbi) is gaining acceptance.

Nothing ever stays the same.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 25, 2012 10:37:24 PM | 57

Don @ 57,

First I thought I'd let you know that Arnold Evans over at Middle East Reality sees the Morsi situation the way you do. Arnold is right much more often than wrong, so who knows, but I still doubt it.

Second, regarding US healthcare costs, I'm convinced the biggest problem is the American diet. You almost never see that kind of obesity anywhere else, and that leads to enormous problems. In addition, I'm convinced processed foods lead to cancers and autoimmune diseases. Lastly, diet soda. (I confess, I'm an addict myself. It's like smoking) That stuff can't be good for you. And non- diet soda with its high fructose corn syrup sweetener. That's got diabetes written all over it. Not that cane sugar is healthy, but it sure is better than HFCS.

On the medical side, there is a huge incentive to prescribe: I have my doubts about the effectiveness of the statin drugs. And the definition of hypertension always is changed to encompass more and more people.

Posted by: Lysander | Nov 25, 2012 11:01:14 PM | 58

Blisters and Sanctions
http://www.merip.org/blisters-sanctions

Posted by: Paul | Nov 25, 2012 11:10:07 PM | 59

@Lysander 58
Thanks so much -- I didn't know Arnold Evans.

If Egypt can become free, that will be a great thing. Of course by now the US embassy is furiously working behind the scenes to prevent Egypt from producing political institutions outside of US control. Juan Cole and the US public foreign policy community are, I expect, cheerleading and justifying that effort.

For the record, I don't include b in that organized effort, for obvious reasons.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 25, 2012 11:12:18 PM | 60

@Paul 59
It's difficult to gauge the effects of "crippling" sanctions on Iran, but the indications I've seen are:
* While the EU has blacklisted 471 Iranian entities, transactions “related to foodstuffs, health care, medical equipment, agricultural or humanitarian purposes, personal remittances and a specific trade contract” are permitted.
* Iran's petroleum exports have climbed back to former levels, plus it is exporting other forms of energy and other goods.
* Internal Iran inefficiencies (many government subsidies) are slowly being corrected.
* Iran is reacting to the increased sanctions by becoming more self-dependent.
* Iran has many friends in the world, especially ones who are interested in profits from selling goods to Iran.
* Iran is in Asia, and re-orienting commerce from no-growth Europe to fast-growth Asia is actually a good thing, although it hurts in the near term.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 25, 2012 11:41:18 PM | 61

Osama Bin Laden was a member of the Saudi Muslim Brotherhood

http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/10/03/osama_bin_laden_and_the_saudi_muslim_brotherhood

Posted by: nikon | Nov 26, 2012 12:12:01 AM | 62

strange Palestinians aiding USrael to destroy syria the country that has aided the palestinians more than any other..stupidity? ingratitude? or just just religion?

Syria 24 English
3 hours ago
#RealSyria - THE MASTERMINDS BEHIND THE "JARMANA BOMBINGS" IN DAMASCUS HAVE BEEN CRUSHED !!!!!!!!

PALESTINIAN TERRORIST "ABU SUHAIB" AND TERRORIST "ABU MOHAMMED AL-SHADEED" WERE SENT TO HELL BY OUR AWESOME ARMED FORCES IN A SUCCESSFUL OPERATION THAT TARGETED THE MURDERERS ..

GOD BLESS OUR ARMED FORCES ON THIS GREAT VICTORY ...

HNN

M.D

Posted by: brian | Nov 26, 2012 2:00:00 AM | 63

The FSA way: blow up mosques...blame Assad
http://www.syrianews.cc/syria-free-syrian-army-blew-up-mosque-aleppo/

Posted by: brian | Nov 26, 2012 2:37:01 AM | 64

The Sun: Four British extremists are being trained to fight in Syria

FOUR British extremists are being trained to fight in Syria at a camp run by Omar Bakri, The Sun can reveal.
The hate preacher, boasted of his military-style courses for Islamic fanatics on the lawless border with Lebanon. In a chilling interview, Bakri revealed one recruit was a computer programmer in his 20s from London, while another was an Midlands-based IT worker.

And he claimed: “Others like them will follow”.

He said: “Of the four, two of them have Syrian connections. But they are all born in UK and have professional backgrounds.

“After their training they will do their duty of jihad in Syria.”

Bakri, 52, came to Britain in 1986 and stayed until 2005, during which time he praised the 9/11 terror attacks — and claimed £250,000 in benefits.

The Syrian-born cleric claimed to have trained “many fighters” from other countries, including Germany and France, since setting up home in Lebanon.

He added: “I’m involved with training the mujahideen (fighters) in camps on the Syrian borders and also on the Palestine side.”


http://www.syriaonline.sy/?f=Details&pageid=4362&catid=24

Posted by: brian | Nov 26, 2012 3:21:32 AM | 65

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE AIRPORT IN MARJ SULTAN ..

Following viewing the video released from the Brotherhood Terrorists and broadcast by Al Jazeera, showing they have control over Military Hovercraft at the Airport in Marj Al-Sultan, we immediately communicated with our informed sources that confirmed to us, that the "Airport" in the Terrorists Video, is in fact an air strip which is out of service and used for Emergency Landings mainly ..

To prove this information:

1st - You will notice there are 2 Helicopters in their video that are missing the very important "Blades" ,, this would be the most damning evidence that confirms they are in fact "Out of Service" as our source stated ..

2nd: - Military Airports have strict Guidelines that require the distance between the Craft to be a minimum of 150m for safety during take-off and landing, and also to avoid esposure to air strikes, so they would not have them lined up next to each other as seen in the video ..

A FAKE REVOLUTION, CAN ONLY EVER HAVE FAKE MILITARY TAKEOVERS, THEY KNOW THIS AS THEIR ATTEMPTS KEEP FAILING, HENCE WHY THEY MAKE FAKE VIDEOS, TO HAVE FAKE "VICTORIES" ... - M.D

HNN
By: Syria 24 English
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=452698818099239&set=a.298390980196691.60683.298382103530912&type=1&theater

Posted by: brian | Nov 26, 2012 4:08:20 AM | 66

48 Parvizini, I guess Clausewitz talks about the warring parties not outside financers and supporters. For outside parties it is a horse race they put bets on.

So I guess you are right, what is relevant is that the rebel fighters are coherent in being Islamist.

And that is the core of the conflict: that Syria is a secular country.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 26, 2012 4:29:24 AM | 67

chinese out, fukus in
the congo chapter,
imf's arm twisting had failed
time to send in the jackals
http://www.countercurrents.org/cooke261112.htm

Posted by: denk | Nov 26, 2012 5:20:29 AM | 68

Regarding MMT, it's really worth the time to get your head around it. If you have 2 hours, this lecture by Warren Mosler and Stephanie Kelton is as good an introduction to it as i've heard.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ba8XdDqZ-Jg

Posted by: Carpworld | Nov 26, 2012 5:50:58 AM | 69

Western governments murdering Iranian children:

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/11/26/274600/iranian-patients-victims-of-us-sanctions/

Posted by: Sasan Taymourian | Nov 26, 2012 6:08:31 AM | 70

Video fun

the Helicopter graveyard rebels say they have taken

Serge ‏@Zinvor

Here's the base AP video claims the rebels have taken: http://goo.gl/maps/b2hj0 , here's the heli graveyard to its south: http://goo.gl/maps/W7P20

8h Serge Serge ‏@Zinvor

@rougek67 the actual base they claim to have taken is this one: http://goo.gl/maps/W7P20 which is a bit north to the helicopter graveyard.
8h Serge Serge ‏@Zinvor

#PT can tell simply by the missing rotors/blades found in the video helis & on the helis in the satellite archived image of the alleged site
8h Serge Serge ‏@Zinvor

The "captured airbase near Damascus" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFLk5I-pz54&feature=youtu.be … actually seems like a quasi-helicopter graveyard found here: http://goo.gl/maps/W7P20
8h Serge Serge ‏@Zinvor

@thesyriangirl if you zoom in on that map, you will see the helicopters with the missing rotors/wings shown in that video.
8h Serge Serge ‏@Zinvor

@thesyriangirl you're right, those helicopters in the video were already trashed helis. Here's where the "base" is: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=33.483961,+36.474068&hl=en&sll=33.499606,36.474824&sspn=0.025373,0.052314&t=h&z=12

Posted by: somebody | Nov 26, 2012 6:29:20 AM | 71

more video fun - Jihadi fighters return to Turkey from Ras Al Ayn - Turkish soldiers looking on

Posted by: somebody | Nov 26, 2012 7:48:56 AM | 72

more on those "rebel victories"

Reuters Top News ‏@Reuters FLASH: Syrian jets bomb Free Syrian Army headquarters close to border with Turkey - opposition activists in area

Posted by: somebody | Nov 26, 2012 7:53:38 AM | 73

NY Mayoral Race With a Rarity: No Top Hopeful Who Is Jewish Great.

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Nov 26, 2012 8:27:45 AM | 74

that's a very tribal article by the New York Times :-))

Posted by: somebody | Nov 26, 2012 8:39:02 AM | 75

Copeland @ 42, just watched (most of) your video. Do you think there will ever be a critical mass of people who figure it out? Either world wide or in the US.

Posted by: Lysander | Nov 26, 2012 9:18:56 AM | 76

Lysander, some very smart people can bring themselves only so far, so as to admit the possibility that the flunkies who took the blame were allowed to proceed, or that the way was made smooth for them to get flight training, and ultimately board the planes that day.

There is a profound psychological block at work, especially in the US, when it comes to broadening the lens of conspiracy, so as to accept the concept of the demolition of the buildings. I am as complicit as other Americans, who simply talked among friends, and kept my suspicions to myself. But then the brightest on the left, like Chomsky, have basically refused to talk about it as well. Those who hatched this monstrous crime knew very well the psychological power of putting out the cover story on the day of the crime, spreading it with all its intricacy while the wound was fresh and people were in a profound state of shock. People imprinted it deeply; and it was absorbed as part of their own experience.

On the other hand, polls taken show that the suspicions that it was an inside job are wide spread, so there is a strange contradiction at work. The passing of time allows a different perspective to take hold; so yes, I do believe that at some point a critical mass of people will be able to connect all the new and collated information, and they will understand. They will get it. But I am afraid justice will be delayed, since those who are guilty will have the best lawyers. And friends in high places will hold off their day of reckoning.

Posted by: Copeland | Nov 26, 2012 10:28:45 AM | 77

@bevin 54;

Since this is an open thread, we can go wild in terms of the subject we talk about. So I am curious to know your opinion on the future of the capitalist economy.

There are two major schools of approach on the left to the crisis that capitalism is facing right now:

a)The current lack of growth is caused by a falling rate of profit (as a result of the falling percentage of the newly added value in the year in comparison to the value of the investment made at the beginning of the year or in other words the rising organic composition of the capital).

b)The current lack of growth is caused by there not being a final demand for the increased production and therefore a lack of availability of profitable productive investment opportunities (which in turn results in the profits being invested in speculation and ‘gambling’, rather than in productive activity)


Which one are you more inclined to agree with? And how do you think the short-medium term future of capitalism will likely be?

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Nov 26, 2012 11:23:51 AM | 78

Pirouz_2 ... is there a current lack of growth?

Posted by: somebody | Nov 26, 2012 11:47:17 AM | 79

Today the Syrian Information Minister, Al-Zoubi, admitted that the confrontation between the government and the armed rebels is "currently in its most complex stages, its highest and most difficult and violent points, and its widest in terms of geography, and in the quality of the weapons used, by all security and military criteria." http://sana.sy/eng/21/2012/11/26/454364.htm (the same statement is in Arabic at http://sana.sy/ara/2/2012/11/26/454358.htm ).

Posted by: Parviziyi | Nov 26, 2012 12:17:41 PM | 80

@ somebody #72: I cannot interpret that video as you've interpreted it. The video shows rebels at large on the Syrian side of the border. That's all I see.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Nov 26, 2012 12:20:49 PM | 81

@Somebody:
Yes, there is.

Well perhaps I should have said there not being "enough" growth rate or in other words stagnation. Ever since mid-60's the growth rate has been steadily on decline (ie. there has been stagnation). On this part actually most people agree. The link I gave you gives data from WB. According to the numbers given by The World commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization(taken from D. Harvey): in the 60s the av. global growth rate stood at:~3.6%, in the 70's it decreased to~2.1%, in the 80's: ~1.3%, 90's ~1%, 2000-2003 <1%
The trend though is not disputed.

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Nov 26, 2012 12:22:19 PM | 82

I am about to start listening to the talk about Modern Money linked to by Carpworld #69, http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=ba8XdDqZ-Jg#t=215s . Before the speaker launches into his talk he says "the last thing I want to say [before I begin] is it's not difficult". That hasn't been my experience with other presenters on the subject. I fear that his talk is going to be froth or he doesn't see there are real difficulties in the subject.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Nov 26, 2012 12:27:43 PM | 83

Parviziyi, 81 that is possible. These videos are not much use to prove anything.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 26, 2012 12:30:15 PM | 84

A WINEP neocon working for the Washington Post (naturally) says the “the war is turning against the regime."

Jeffrey White, a defense fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and the pace of rebel gains in recent weeks raises the prospect that a collapse of government forces could come sooner than has been expected. [When was it "expected?"] “The war is turning against the regime, and it’s turning at a faster rate than we had seen before,” White said. “There’s a reasonable chance there will be some kind of breaking point, and the regime will collapse in a hurry. It’s not probable, but it’s possible, and then the guys with the guns will be in charge.”

Even Hillary doesn't say that anymore. She hasn't said that "Assad's days are numbered" since July, by my count. As covered above, controlling the narrative is important in any war, and the anti-Syria chaos must be countered by the faithful.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 26, 2012 12:30:24 PM | 85

Pirouz_2, you would have to facture WWII, industrialised countries' baby boom and the beginning of the use of contraception into those graphs ....

Posted by: somebody | Nov 26, 2012 12:34:41 PM | 86

A side fighting a war must have political coherence. The Syrian government and its supporters have got political coherence. The two key principles that give them coherence are democracy ("the ballot box") and upholding the rule of laws and civil processes.

On 1 Aug 2012, Syria's Minister of Defence Fahd Jassem al-Freij said Syria will defeat the conspiracy and emerge stronger and he summarized the present situation as a battle of right against wrong, and said the army has a moral responsibility to preserve the homeland's security and unity against the criminality of the terrorist groups that are trying to achieve the goals of the nation's enemies. (ref) . On 4 Jul 2012 the speaker of the Syrian parliament Mohammad Jihad al-Laham said that Syria's leadership and people will emerge victorious and stronger than ever. He underlined the Syrian leadership's commitment to reforms on all levels and the people's support for these reforms, and their rejection of violent uprising, and their rejection of foreign interference in their affairs, and he affirmed that Syria will be victorious because its principles are just and its people are wise. (ref)

Posted by: Parviziyi | Nov 26, 2012 12:44:36 PM | 87

Jill Dougherty, working for CNN to promote Hillary Clinton, has a story out that it was Clinton not Morsi who brokered the Gaza cease-fire -- "Behind the scenes of Clinton’s “shuttle diplomacy”

Clinton and her staff flew from Phnom Penh, via Mumbai, India, to Tel Aviv, Israel. As soon as they arrived, they drove directly to the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem for Clinton’s meeting with Netanyahu.. .Overnight, she and her staff mulled over what to propose to the Egyptians, . .The next day, Clinton traveled to Ramallah to meet with the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbbas, and returned to Jerusalem for yet another meeting with Netanyahu . .Once again, Clinton boarded her plane for a short flight to Cairo, Egypt, carrying with her the terms of a possible cease-fire. “The Secretary met with President Morsy for about an hour, and they literally sat there with the paper in their hands, marked up with potential changes to it.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 26, 2012 12:44:58 PM | 88

And a reminder -- this supposedly hard-working effort by Clinton came after the Obama administration’s (typical) decision the previous week to block a ceasefire effort by the UN Security Council.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 26, 2012 1:02:59 PM | 89

Parviziyi, maybe it is just that Syrian Information Minister, Al-Zoubi, is the new school of PR and the Minister of Defence is very old school?

I would not believe the videos showing off weapons as I think the US for the sake of Israel (and Jordan) makes sure nothing gets across the borders that could be used against Israel.

For the same reason I do not think the US would risk a breakup of the Syrian state.

What they are doing is psychological warfare trying to score negotiation points. At least as long as they cannot be sure to have a solid transitional government in place that can control militant groups.

The mess in Egypt should help Syria.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 26, 2012 1:09:38 PM | 90

I am intrigued that no-one has followed up on the articles mentioned by Mark @18. They are all lurid enough to be at least worthy of further comment, even though the writers of some of them may not be as solid as we might like.

Would someone mind saying what they think precipitated the White House Memo? I can understand people not wanting to touch AIPAC cabals, drug dealers, conspiracies within high military circles etc etc as being necessarily responsible (as the second article listed by Marc suggests), but presumably the memo was triggered by something.

I would also like to know whether there was/is a US intelligence document entitled "Preparation for a post-Israel Middle East," a document written by "the American intelligence community," and described by Franklin Lamb in one of the articles off of the Veteranstoday piece from Marc @18. Again, I understand that Lamb is problematic, so therefore probably to be written off, but I dont see why the document should automatically dismissed as a forgery/sloppy jouralism/malicious journalism. The Lamb article was written at the end of August, so if the document he describes was to reach the light of day, it should have done so by now.

Posted by: sean | Nov 26, 2012 1:33:45 PM | 91

@sean 91
Regarding the non-response Marc's listing of documents, without any comment, why should we take the time to parse the documents when Marc didn't think it necessary?

Well I did it anyhow. The "insider threat program" was called for in Executive Order 13587, in October 2011 in the wake of the Wikileaks exposure of a cache of classified documents. The order’s goal is “to ensure the responsible sharing and safeguarding of classified national security information on computer networks.”

So it's just a bureaucratic response to some embarrassing truth getting out. Big whoop.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 26, 2012 1:53:21 PM | 92

Sean, what I see is Iran signalling that they know something. As Iran has extensive experience in negotiating with different US factions, they actually might know something.

The only reason I can think of why they do it via the media and not direct is blackmail.

But maybe they are just having fun with conspiracy theories like everybody else.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 26, 2012 1:54:02 PM | 93

@sean 91

"I understand that Lamb is problematic, so therefore probably to be written off..."

Why is it that Lamb is problematic ?

Posted by: ATH | Nov 26, 2012 2:26:49 PM | 94

@ 71

It all does not make sense. Especially clicking on syriangirls google maps link and then zooming in one can see the "actual" base slightly further North of the captured "helicopter graveyard". If the rebels really "captured" the graveyard area and had enough time to take an easy hike through the place I wonder what the many helicopters from the main base were doing. They are easily visible in the link. Where so many crucial and expensive military hardware is located you should expect couple of hundreds of well-equipped soldiers to guard them.
How could the rebels feel so safe and expose themselves during their filming of the "victory"?

Posted by: KerKaraje | Nov 26, 2012 2:33:06 PM | 95

KerKaraje | Nov 26, 2012 2:33:06 PM | 95

Google maps are old views. The area had been overtaken by rebels that is known, it is cleared/devastated now. It is quite possible that the functional helicopters had been moved from the airbase and the airbase was deserted when the rebels filmed that video. Or it was filmed somewhere else.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 26, 2012 2:52:40 PM | 96

This Syria "news" picked up by the MSM empire stenographers like AP and Washington Post originates with a shady outfit called Ugarit News, which was probably one of the 'social media' sites established by Hillary Clinton & friends.

Ugarit News - We Cover The Syrian Revolution
(via googl translate) --
About Ugarit News | Ugarit News
Ugarit newsletter will be transferred to you the Syrian revolution and the country firsthand and Nanra the honesty and truthfulness.

some of the Ugarit output (fron google):

Syrian rebels capture a helicopter air base near the capital Damascus after fierce fighting in Syria, on Sunday. / Ugarit News via AP video.

Activists: Syrian rebels seize major dam in north | The News-Press Amateur videos posted online showed gunmen inside the dam's operations room as an employee sat in front of five screens speaking by telephone about the level of water behind the dam.

Syria accused of cluster bomb use in civil war
Oct 14, 2012 – (AP Photo/Ugarit News via Human Rights Watch) ... according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which gathers reports

Ugarit News- Syria, Homs: The regime army shelling civilian ... - Uploaded by UgaritNewsEnglish
A video taped on the 1st of Feb 2012 by citizen jouranlist showing the Syrian regime army shelling houses in ...
In this image taken from video obtained from the Ugarit News, which ...1 day ago – View the photo In this image taken from video obtained from the Ugarit News, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP . .

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 26, 2012 3:24:51 PM | 97

Army mom: Military suicides ‘out of control’

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Nov 26, 2012 3:28:38 PM | 98

'Ugarit News- Syria, Homs: The regime army shelling civilian ... '


you know when you read a line like that that you are reading propaganda, which depends on peoples trust in the professionals...

Posted by: brian | Nov 26, 2012 3:33:34 PM | 99

Ugarit News (which copied SkyNews logo) has originated a lot of this propaganda. I have not been able to pin down who or where they are. But there's this:

Ugarit News - English ·
July 22 at 12:40am ·
For more information or commentary, please contact:

Ausama Monajed, Executive Director of Strategic Research & Communication Centre.
Email: monajed@strescom.org

Ausama (or Osama) Monajed is a member of the Syrian National Council and the Executive Director of London-based Strategic Research and Communication Centre. (Of course it's London-based, like the "Observatory" and also probably Ugarit.)

Monajed is a member of the SNC, adviser to its president, and according to his SNC biography, “the Founder and Director of Barada Television”, a pro-opposition satellite channel based in Vauxhall, south London. In 2008, a few months after attending Syria In-Transition conference, Monajed was back in Washington, invited to lunch with George W Bush, along with a handful of other favoured dissidents.

Barada TV gets a large chunk of its funding from an American non-profit organisation: the Democracy Council. One of the co-sponsors (with the MJD) of Syria In-Transition mini-conference.

From wikileaks, several US diplomatic cables from the embassy in Damascus reveal that the Syrian exiles received money from a State Department program called the Middle East Partnership Initiative. According to the cables, the State Department funneled money to the exile group via the Democracy Council, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit. The same report highlights a 2009 cable from the US Embassy in Syria that says that the Democracy Council received $6.3m from the state department to run a Syria-related programme, the “Civil Society Strengthening Initiative”. The cable describes this as “a discrete collaborative effort between the Democracy Council and local partners” aimed at producing, amongst other things, “various broadcast concepts.” According to the Washington Post: “Other cables make clear that one of those concepts was Barada TV.”
http://www.transcend.org/tms/2012/07/the-syrian-opposition-whos-doing-the-talking/

So we may conclude that this bogus propaganda about Syria losses is US-sponsored. But we knew that anyhow.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 26, 2012 4:40:58 PM | 100

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