Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 27, 2014

Leak Of CIA In Afghanistan A Sign Of U.S. Retreat

The Obama administration has decided to leave Afghanistan. That is the only explanation I can find for this massive leak by "administration, military and intelligence officials" to the NYT's administration stenographer David E. Sanger:

The risk that President Obama may be forced to pull all American troops out of Afghanistan by the end of the year has set off concerns inside the American intelligence agencies that they could lose their air bases used for drone strikes against Al Qaeda in Pakistan and for responding to a nuclear crisis in the region.
If Mr. Obama ultimately withdrew all American troops from Afghanistan, the C.I.A.’s drone bases in the country would have to be closed, according to administration officials, because it could no longer be protected.

By leaking this the administration is saying that should U.S. troops stay in Afghanistan:

  • the CIA would continue drone raids into Pakistan,
  • the CIA would continue to use its bases in Afghanistan to spy on Pakistan's nukes.

Neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan would want the CIA to do any of this. Both countries will, after this leak, increase their efforts to get the U.S. out.

Already two years ago the Afghan foreign minister categorically rejected any further CIA drone activity beyond the end of 2014:

Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasool said on Thursday Afghanistan would not be used as a launch pad for U.S. drones attacks on neighboring countries after NATO combat forces leave by the end of 2014.

"Afghan soil will not be used against any country in the region," Rasool told Al Jazeera television when asked if Washington would be allowed to launch drone strikes against Pakistan after the troops' withdrawal.

I believe that the government of Afghanistan was and is serious with this. Any further antagonizing of Pakistan, which supports some of the Taliban fighting the Afghan government, would only prolong a war the Afghan government wants to end.

The U.S. is currently holding a new strategic dialog with Pakistan. Making some progress in U.S. relations with Pakistan while drones stay in Afghanistan and regularly violate Pakistani sovereignty will be impossible.

That multiple sources bring this up to Sanger at this time can only mean that the Obama administration has given up on the status of force agreement with Afghanistan that would allow its troops to stay beyond 2014.

The U.S. leaving Afghanistan is likely the best for that country as well as the best solution for the United States and its allies. There are hardly any positive results from the 12+ years of U.S. occupation of the country and there is no reason to believe that more time would change that sorry record.

Posted by b on January 27, 2014 at 14:48 UTC | Permalink


if the cia wanted to
continue to use its bases in Afghanistan to spy on Pakistan's nukes
then why dont they do it from within Pakistan itself.

it would save an awful of time and money,
to say nothing of the air miles, claiming back travel receipts etc

Posted by: chris m | Jan 27 2014 14:56 utc | 1

sorry, the recent comment shoud've read

if the cia wanted to
continue to use its bases in Afghanistan to spy on Pakistan's nukes
then why dont they do it from within Pakistan itself.

it would save an awful lot of time and money,
to say nothing of the air miles, claiming back travel receipts etc

missed out the word lot, btw

Posted by: chris m | Jan 27 2014 14:58 utc | 2

Time is running out and they can't build new bases to support the drone operations overnight. But those talks and budget changes look like a plan to move the bases into Pakistan, which seems pretty impossible given the sentiments of the Pakistani people, but what if US offers electricity and clean water in the areas where the bases are established?

And if Karzai now sees that US has an alternative and sees the plans to cut budget numbers to 40%, there are a lot of people who are going to be threatened by that and will want Karzai out of the picture. So is it just a threat or are we really looking to try to establish drone bases in Pakistan?

Maybe it's both.

What's clear is that even if the "zero option" is taken (I don't believe for a minute we'd really remove all troops & mercenaries) we're not leaving the region. Obama plans to tell the country tomorrow in his SOTU speech that the war in Afghanistan will be over at the end of this year. But that's clearly a lie. It's another thing to add to the Accomplishments list of mostly lies or half truths. We're not leaving the region or ending this war. Look at the hoops they're jumping through to keep the CIA operations running. Unless you change the definition of "war".

Posted by: JoanneLeon | Jan 27 2014 15:16 utc | 3

That's what Iran has always wanted: the US military out of its immediate borders.
Iran will have the task of cleaning up Afghanistan from its extremists or have Afghanistan divided, leaving the terrorist infested areas to Pakistan to manage.
The Gulf countries are getting increasingly concerned by Iran influence's expansion in the region.

Posted by: Virgile | Jan 27 2014 15:23 utc | 4

Obama plans to tell the country tomorrow in his SOTU speech that the war in Afghanistan will be over at the end of this year. But that's clearly a lie. It's another thing to add to the Accomplishments list of mostly lies or half truths.

The only time the truth is told is when it just happens to support their agenda.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014: Mid Term Elections, humm?

Posted by: juannie | Jan 27 2014 15:32 utc | 5

@Virgile Could bases in northern Iraq replace the ones near the Iranian border in Afghanistan?

Posted by: JoanneLeon | Jan 27 2014 15:36 utc | 6

Even if the US makes a good show of troop withdrawal, it will never completely leave. The business interests of the empire will trump everything else. "Private contractors" will always be there to ensure hegemony in the region. The US/empire has a poor record of vacating countries once occupied. The illusion of "government" in Afghanistan, is just that, an illusion created for world consumption. The US, and it's minions will do what they damn well please. When they finally purchase Putin's compliance, game over.

Posted by: ben | Jan 27 2014 16:28 utc | 7

In these days of private-public confusion and Corp control, US soldiers or *other* personnel staying or leaving, no proper accounting can take place.

The MSM nos. are always fanciful, partial, and temporary or one-sided. Americans going in and out (entering to compensate the leaves..) and what they do... is more or less hidden.

Private contractors are rife, not counted - plus the behind the scenes financing is not open to public view.

Ppl are often shunted from one paymaster to another and often don’t know, so can’t care, about what the real situation is. (I have read.)

Fox news (showing the hesitations etc.)

This is not WW2, it is a scramble to control parts of territory and enslave, or slowly decimate, kill, small parts of the population, not that they are of much concern, but they get in the way.

To: make profits.

Aka the drug trade, first, or course.

Milit. paid for by the tax payer, they have to keep control or lose status, funding. So somehow justify 'war'.

Huge profits on useless over-billed infrastructure projects, which then fail because of ‘strife, attacks, the Taliban’ (so more milit. either local or foreign is needed.)

Cooperation (Afgh - US) control of transport circuits, that takes arms, vehicles, and collaboration, securing routes, etc. Expensive!

To control the economy and stifle it except for the profiteers who need to get their goods thru. The Gvmt. is more or less complicit or cannot see its way out.

Fantastic Badlands where bandits can make out, the powerful treat behind the scenes all the time, imho.

Posted by: Noirette | Jan 27 2014 16:30 utc | 8


I doubt the Kurds would do that without Iraq's government approval and it is obvious that the Shia led Iraqi government will categorically refuse to any US base on its territory.

Posted by: Virgile | Jan 27 2014 16:44 utc | 9

My first thought is that the article is about getting Pakistan to let the CIA resume drone operations from their previous base in south-west Pakistan, which was at Shamsi (aka Shimshi). The article says: "Kerry is to meet Pakistan’s foreign and national security policy adviser, Sartaj Aziz, here on Monday, and counterterrorism operations are to be a major subject of discussion, a senior State Dept official said Sunday." So in other words, the article (call it 'leak' or not) is designed to coincide with that visit, to put pressure on Sartaj Aziz.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jan 27 2014 17:04 utc | 10

It is so hard for me to interpret what is going on with Karzai's back and forth over the bilateral security agreement. The story yesterday and today is that he apparently falsified documentation in a dossier meant to inflate the civilian body count of a recent U.S. airstrike.

Karzai seems to be working with elements in the Taliban. Does he have a guarantee from the Taliban of a place in a future Taliban-led government? Has he been bribed by paymasters in the Gulf?

Granted that the U.S. absolutely does not want to relinquish its Afghan drone bases, but at this point it looks like that is going to happen.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Jan 27 2014 17:05 utc | 11

Mike, the story you refer to is a pretty obvious attempt to smear Karzai by every means possible. I don't think it deserves serious attention, honestly.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jan 27 2014 17:07 utc | 12

Do you have a sense of what Karzai is doing, Rowan? It is hard to believe that he is an ardent nationalist.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Jan 27 2014 17:17 utc | 13

It strikes me as bizarre that after an extended blackout of informed reporting on the AfPak SNAFU, all of a sudden 3 sources leak a long-winded mishmash of contradictory wishful thinking aimed, in my opinion, at reinforcing the 'indispensible US' myth, and loaded with tropes Abe Foxman would be proud of. It reads like a first step in preparing The Public for the bad news that the Yankees are going to have to shoot their way out of Afghanistan - having spent so much time and money on persuading 99% of the Afghan population that the only good Yankee is a dead one.

The NYT comments are liberally sprinkled with people who aren't buying the hokum and think the Obama Admin is criminally insane.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 27 2014 17:40 utc | 14

Mike, I suppose that Karzai has grasped that 'the Taliban' are not really the problem; the problem is pseudo-gangs created by the Pakistani ISI (under instructions from CIA and/or Pentagon) and generally described as 'Haqqani' or 'AQ'. The ISI is prepared to infict an enormous amount of damage on Pakistan itself by means of these pseudo-gangs, and so you could say that the ISI is at war with the rest of the Pakistani power structure (not to mention the people), and the ISI's only ally (albeit a covert one) is the US. This sounds completely upside-down I know, but it certainly explains Kaarzai's attitude: he knows that the USA (and the ISI as the US's proxy) are deliberately creating the very thing they claim to be fighting, and that they will go on ad infinitum unless he can get them out. He won't even get his precious pipelines (Karzai is an old oilman), because even if the original US interest in Afghanistan was pipelines, everything is much bigger now; it's about permanent US control of the whole of south-east Asia, and ultimately about China.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jan 27 2014 18:14 utc | 15

Well said, Rowan 15). Perhaps US rapprochement with Iran plays into it too. If progress is made in US/Iran relations, the US resistance to AfPak Pipeline will have to disappear. It will eventually extend all the way to India, which has its own implications for the whole region. Maybe Karzai is hedging on the Status of Forces agreement to see how US/Iran 'normalization' goes. If successful it will change Iran's approach to every country in their region; and Afghanistan's, and many others' approach to each other.

Posted by: okie farmer | Jan 27 2014 18:40 utc | 16

Are you forgetting the 90% of the world heroin trade? Remember the CIA flying dope out of the "Golden Triangle" after the loss in Vietnam?

Posted by: par4 | Jan 27 2014 19:00 utc | 17

Virgile, I'm pretty sure we're already sending more troops to Iraq, after Maliki lost control of the situation with the jihadists spilling over from Syria. What I'm not sure of is where they will be based (the mega embassy/military base or somewhere else).

Can the mega embassy be used to launch Predator drones?

Posted by: JoanneLeon | Jan 27 2014 19:03 utc | 18

DO NOT think the US will withdraw EVERY soldier from Afghanistam. The Obama administration still wants to leave some US forces in the country in the next 10 years. Perhaps there're will be a drawdown to say 10% of current trooplevels. And don't forget all the military contracters. How much of those people will be withdrawn as well ?

Posted by: Willy2 | Jan 27 2014 19:07 utc | 19

My bad, they swore up and down that we wouldn't send troops, just hellfire missiles and ammo and god only knows what else.

I seem to remember though, that after the series of prison breaks in Iraq, when many Al Qaeda members were sprung from prison, there was talk of sending either JSOC, special forces or CIA paramilitary to Iraq. I'm not sure if that actually happened.

I think it's really unlikely that we don't at least have "trainers" still there (and special forces and CIA paramilitary). But this new news of aid to Iraq does not include troop deployment, supposedly. The news articles don't mention anything about mercenaries paid for by us. It still would not surprise me a bit to find out later that we have covert bases in Iraq, though I agree they'd need to be placed carefully.

Posted by: JoanneLeon | Jan 27 2014 19:09 utc | 20

Increasing the number of troops in 2009 & 2010 gave Obama the opportunity/the cover to withdraw (all) troops from Iraq. Otherwise the Republicans would have destroyed him. "Support the arms manufacturers".

Posted by: Willy2 | Jan 27 2014 19:13 utc | 21

    Virgile, I'm pretty sure we're already sending more troops to Iraq, after Maliki lost control of the situation with the jihadists spilling over from Syria.

    Posted by: JoanneLeon | Jan 27, 2014 2:03:23 PM | 18

Jeez I recollect that pseudo-gang Jihadi-groups from Iraq entering the fray and "becoming active" in Syria quite sometime ago, and caused quite a dent in SAA operations at the time

Looks to me like the pseudo-gang Jihadi-groups active in Iraq are the exact same ones that were active there before, and during, the Syria conflict.

My impression was that Iraqi pseudo-gangs "spilled" into Syria and then "spilled" back again into Iraq after Malaki made a few moves that made it look like he was backing Syrian Gov't efforts to deal with the pseudo-Jihadi-gangs

Did any of that actually happen or did I just dream it

Posted by: sheesh | Jan 27 2014 19:57 utc | 22

These are some of the articles and blog posts I remember reading about CIA presence in Iraq.

"The CIA is expected to maintain a large clandestine presence in Iraq and Afghanistan long after the departure of conventional U.S. troops as part of a plan by the Obama administration to rely on a combination of spies and Special Operations forces to protect U.S. interests in the two longtime war zones, U.S. officials said."
-- Greg Miller, WaPo stenographer, February, 2012

The Greg Miller article says CIA has "moved the CIA’s emphasis there toward more traditional espionage". He doesn't say they have ceased doing paramilitary operations, just that the emphasis changed.

Jim White followed up on it a year later in March, 2013 to follow up, noting that the plan for leaving troops in Iraq before the SOFA renegotiations fell through included mostly Special Ops forces who would train and lead Iraqi counterinsurgency militias (a pattern we see in other countries like Afghanistan):

"We have a report today in the Wall Street Journal that shows Miller’s prediction of “espionage only” for the CIA’s role in Iraq was wrong, as militias formerly trained and run by Special Operations Forces are now under CIA control"

-- Jim White, March, 2013

And the Wall Street Journal article Jim references talks about the secret troops in Iraq, not technically troops but CIA paramilitaries who fight wars, which in my view, are troops:

"In a series of secret decisions from 2011 to late 2012, the White House directed the CIA to provide support to Iraq’s Counterterrorism Service, or CTS, a force that reports directly to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, officials said.

The CIA has since ramped up its work with the CTS—taking control of a mission long run by the U.S. military, according to administration and defense officials. For years, U.S. special-operations forces worked with CTS against al Qaeda in Iraq. But the military’s role has dwindled since U.S. troops pulled out of the country at the end of 2011."

-- WSJ March, 2013

They might be at the embassy/base but in the first WaPo article I referenced, a CIA source says that during the Iraq war, CIA had many different bases and safe houses.

Since that WSJ article is less than a year old, and considering what has happened since, it seems safe to say that we've still got CIA playing the role of special forces there, at the very least. In the past week or so we've heard about the additional aid we're now giving to Iraq. I don't know if any kind of agreement was signed with the Iraqi government in exchange for that. Like perhaps an agreement that modifies the SOFA that allows covert special forces. I'm speculating. I don't know if that can be done without Congress.

Posted by: JoanneLeon | Jan 27 2014 19:58 utc | 23

JoanneLeon 23)
That's great reporting, Thanks. Now I have to speculate: if CIA is supporting CTS in a genuine way does that mean the US is waging war with the Saudi funded jihadis?! If true, could this mean that US is reconsidering their relationship to KSA? O's 'pivot to Iran' would fit with such a scenario. Or is CIA playing both sides?

When the reports first came out about US 'supporting' Malaki's govt in its conflict with the jihadis, I thought then, 'Why is US going against KSA?' particularly since a year or so ago the chattering classes were bad-mouthing Malaki no end.

Posted by: okie farmer | Jan 27 2014 20:44 utc | 24

okie farmer,
I don't know the answer to that and agree it's baffling. And I just read today that we're resuming nonlethal aid to the Syrian opposition. Baffling.

Posted by: JoanneLeon | Jan 27 2014 22:49 utc | 25

Exit...stage right!

Posted by: brian | Jan 28 2014 1:10 utc | 26

@24 Well, I suppose we should consider that the US "assets" in Iraq may well be a sector of the Sunni Islamist factions (hence the 'good" and "bad" terrorists) as well as whatever Shia militias they may still have some pull with.

I think we all know that the Security State is both devious enough (and also caught up in a web of its own competing sects - JSOC, CIA, DIA, Army, Marines, NSA, State Dept., private contractors, etc. etc) to surmise that it wouldn't be to far fetched to picture them funding and supporting all twelve sides in a 144-way battle roaring across the Mesopotamia and the Levant.

If there is anyway they can shape the situation, they will try. And funding both sides in a conflict has been their MO for quite a while.


One thing Rowan: not to quibble with your thesis, the broad outlines of which I agree with, but maybe the semantics. What makes them "pseudo" gangs. Why aren't they simply CIA-sponsored gangs?

Posted by: guest77 | Jan 28 2014 1:46 utc | 27

KABUL (Reuters) - President Hamid Karzai appeared to stiffen his resolve on Saturday not to sign a security pact with Washington, saying the United States should leave Afghanistan unless it could restart peace talks with the Taliban.

"In exchange for this agreement, we want peace for the people of Afghanistan. Otherwise, it's better for them to leave and our country will find its own way," Karzai told a news conference.

The president said pressing ahead with talks with the Taliban, in power from 1996-2001, was critical to ensure that Afghanistan was not left with a weak central government.

"Starting peace talks is a condition because we want to be confident that after the signing of the security agreement, Afghanistan will not be divided into fiefdoms," he said.

Most diplomats now agree that Karzai is unlikely to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that would allow for some form of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after the end of 2014, when most troops are due to leave.

Along with reviving peace talks with the Taliban, Karzai is also demanding an end to all U.S. military operations on Afghan homes and villages, including strikes by pilotless trones.

The United States has threatened to pull all of its troops out unless a deal is signed in good time, but embassies are examining alternative solutions behind the scenes that would enable the NATO-led mission to remain.

Karzai's defiant tone struck a chord with those in the West who have already decided that further discussion with the Afghan president may be pointless and waiting for his successor to be elected is the best option.

"The more people speak about it being signed after the election, the more irrelevant he becomes," said one diplomat. "Sad as it is, we might have to bank on the next guy."

But representatives from some countries say this would not leave enough time for them to prepare for a post-2014 mission. Afghans are due to vote in a presidential election on April 5, but it could take weeks for Karzai's successor to assume power if a run-off round is required.

Karzai initially agreed to a text of the pact in November and an assembly of elders called on him to sign it. But he has since refused to sign.

In his comments to reporters, the Afghan president also denounced the use of advertising - some paid for by the United States - that lobbies for signature of the BSA.

"To harm the psyche and soul of the people of Afghanistan, there is serious propaganda going on," said Karzai, referring to the advertisements broadcast for weeks by local media but now taken off the air.

"No pressure, no threat, no psychological war can force us to sign the BSA. If they want to leave, they should leave today. We will continue our living."

Posted by: neretva'43 | Jan 28 2014 2:01 utc | 28

Is Pres. Karzai delusional or he is playing game of nation's sovereign?

He certainly doesn't enjoy trust of Talibans, according to editor of China's People Daily:

“The Afghan security forces do not have the capabilities to control the situation. Although the US may still send troops to Afghanistan, they will likely be small-scale special forces which will mainly focus on combating terrorism than carrying out peacekeeping missions.”

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in interview for The Express Tribune:

“If the Nato forces withdraw without [striking] a [peace] accord with Mujahideen, there is a strong possibility that Afghanistan will experience a bitter and bloody repeat of what had happened following the pullout of Soviet troops [in 1989],”

“Statements from US generals indicate that they want to keep some troops [in Afghanistan] post 2014 and maintain control over nine military bases. This only means a ‘permanent invasion’ which will result in a continuation of the war,” said Hekmatyar, who leads the second largest armed group after the Taliban.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Jan 28 2014 2:20 utc | 29

" CIA playing both sides?"

Yes. But not necessarily because it aims to do so. The problem with spending more on the military than the rest of the world put together is that, often enough the militaries you employ are fighting each other.

Take Iraq, for example, the US is supplying Maliki and promising more supplies. But the militias that Maliki is fighting are, very clearly, Saudi financed and US armed. Up north the Kurds see the US as allies in their campaign for autonomy, at the expense of both Arab factions, while regarding the US allied Turks with deep suspicion.

Those who wonder whether this means that the US might be falling out with the KSA need wonder no longer: it doesn’t. The same militias, the very same, fight in Iraq one week-against Maliki- and Syria the next –against Assad. They alternate between the two places for safe bases and collect supplies in one that they use in the other. And the CIA (or the Pentagon’s Special Ops) not only arms and supplies them, furnishes them with intelligence (targets, weak points, assessment of forces opposing etc) but offers tactical advice and training.

Surely the same is true in Afghanistan: there is no way that the Saudis, after all they have invested, have lost interest in the Taliban. We know they haven’t in Pakistan where the ISI remains joined at the hip with Riyadh.

I’m not sure that I understand Rowan’s “pseudo gang” theory. Originally these were agents of the state/empire pretending to be insurgents in order to discover and destroy the real insurgents’ bases.
But nobody, (with the possible exception of John Kerry) supposes, I presume, that the Saudi jihadists in Syria are on anyone’s side but the Empire’s. Surely they are what they pretend to be, not because Bandar has lost control of them but because he hasn’t. Nor does he-or his CIA deputy-lose control when they step out of Syria into Iraq or, for that matter, despatch suicide bombers into the Bekaa Valley or Beirut.

In Afghanistan the US not only has an army, controls allied armies and hires tens of thousands of mercenaries, but it also controls, more or less, most of the Afghan warlords who double up as Generals in the Afghan forces-which the US pays, supplies and trains. It also, as we know, maintains militias in the Pashtun areas, some of which are almost certainly units of the Taliban. The militia leaders will routinely execute ‘false positives” –innocent villagers- to collect blood money bounties from the Americans.

From Atlantic Africa to the Chinese border there is a belt of warfare. A zone tinder dry ready to ignite at the next spark. Millions of armed men in hundreds of militias, national armies and guerrilla bands are fighting. And the US is involved in almost every conflict. The signs are that these conflicts will intensify and spread.

I’m not sure what the plan is.

My guess is that there isn’t one and that, absent the discipline of a real enemy, post Cold War, the vast congeries of criminality, death squads, corporate militias plundering minerals and cleansing tomorrow’s plantations of the peasantry, the creatures of Zionism subverting potential opponents, the incredibly ambitious wahhabi missionary programme, projecting Saudi influence throughout the sunni world, the old Gladio formations designed to encircle and weaken the Russian (not Soviet) state, banging away in the Caucasus, as they did in the Balkans- all these and more, for this is only to scratch the surface, will just continue to cannibalise communities until either they meet and go for each other or run up against a power ready to suppress them.

This is an Empire falling apart-the way that empires do-from the head down. The brain has rotted away: there is no overarching purpose, just the muscle memory which tells it to clench its fist and smash things.

The metaphor of the asylum run by its inmates is perfectly apposite: nobody is in charge so anyone with a forceful personality can take charge of one wing or part of the institution. The kitchen maybe or the TV room.

Nobody believes that The President runs things. And Congress certainly doesn’t. The banks don’t care enough to take over-they are happy to control their own affairs. The Pentagon is divided into several large and dozens of smaller factions. So are the spy agencies.

Look at Libya. Does it strike anyone that what is happening there was planned? The only persons who could possibly have planned to arrive at the current situation would have been enemies of NATO, enemies of the US and opponents of the oil industry. The search for a strong man is on, again. As always the problem is that those looking for him count weakness, malleability and a taste for American bootleather as prime qualifications for the role of running roughshod over his countrymen while the oil is drained away.
So who came up with the plan of doing Libya? Hillary Clinton? Samantha Powers? Susan Rice?
OK: all three. Now explain what the fuck airheads like these (and BH Levy!!) were doing exerting influence over the fate of an Empire.

Posted by: bevin | Jan 28 2014 2:43 utc | 30

30) I hate to sound like I'm always kissing bevin's ass. But goddam, he fucking deserves it.


Posted by: guest77 | Jan 28 2014 4:04 utc | 31

bevin @30

What is the plan? There is none.

Just feed one’s needs for money, drugs, sex and power. Don’t question the contradictions. Believe the propaganda.

American foreign policy took a 180 degree turn in the last six months after the confrontation with Russia over Syria. There are hints of a grand bargain with Iran and a withdrawal from the Forever War; less war stimulus and more quantitative easing for Wall Street. However, the Friends of Israel, War Profiteers and Oil Executives will fight, tooth and nail, to keep America involved in the Middle East until the bloody end.

What is best for Americans is of absolutely no concern.

Posted by: VietnamVet | Jan 28 2014 4:33 utc | 32

One thing about Libya though. Not for the EU - who likely thought they could bilk the Gaddaffis (read: the Libyan people) out of some more billions for their political campaigns and pet projects - but I think for the United States and Israel, this screaming, smoking disaster probably was Plan A.

1. The chaos was a requirement for scaring the Chinese civilian workers out.

2. The oil was largely going to the EU, and to Italy and Germany in particular. And yes, I can imagine even 70 years later, the US, France, and the UK snidely making smug statements about "liberation" and "dictators" as their former Axis power friends whimpered something about "their oil imports..." - especially knowing that the "new" Libya, even if years away, will likely end up in the hands of Total and BP.

3. Not to mention the pièce de résistance: the sexual torture and violent murder, on film, of a hated US frenemy (aren't they all) as a warning to all the rest, including - directly, via the lunatic John McCain - the sitting President of the Russian Federation.

4. Israel of course is happy to see any Middle Eastern country impoverished and smashed to pieces. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

Posted by: guest77 | Jan 28 2014 5:01 utc | 33

@ 31 I was just thinking the same thing, MoA is a fantastic watering hole and bevin sure knows how to serve it up!

Posted by: thirsty | Jan 28 2014 5:47 utc | 34

One thing Rowan: not to quibble with your thesis, the broad outlines of which I agree with, but maybe the semantics. What makes them "pseudo" gangs. Why aren't they simply CIA-sponsored gangs? Posted by: guest77 | Jan 27, 2014 8:46:36 PM | 27
'Pseudo-gangs' is a term of art, coined by UK Brig-Gen Frank Kitson in his book, Low Intensity Warfare. It refers to gangs otherwise called 'false-flag', ie gangs which pose as revolutionaries or insurgents but are run by the covert ops division of the occupying forces, aiming to (a) displace genuine revolutionary guerrilla groups by taking over their territory and if possible even their personnel; (b) discredit the revolutionary movement by waging maximum devastation and oppression of local population in the name of 'the revolution', whatever it is; (c) collaborate with occupation forces in the elimination of genuine revolutionary leaders, whoever they are; and (d) provide pretexts for the occupation itself, suitable for replaying in the domestic press of the occupying country, spectacular atrocities and demonstrations that the existing govt of the occupied country can't cope, so that domestic population of occupying country go "OMG, what savages, thank heavens we're there to impose 'civilisation' on the natives, they'll be grateful to us one day," etc.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jan 28 2014 5:57 utc | 35

Basically, zusa is more and more in an urgency to avoid a dilemma.

Their near and mid east plans from over a decade ago having not at all worked out as "planned" zusa needs to get out and to concentrate on the "asia pivot", read, their desperate attempt to not stop but at least to somehow hinder or prolong Chinas rise.

The official (and rather old) "logic" to have ca. 2/3 of their forces in the Pacific region to make Chinas life hard won't work. For at least 2 reasons:
- Russia is present both in the far east and in Europe.
- Iran, potentially in some kind of alliance with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq is *the* major power in the region.

Also don't get stuck in old numbers. Traditionally the zus mil. budget was about as large as that of the rest of the world combined. Looking today Russias and Chinas combined budget is quite close to zusas. On the surface. Considering pricing parity (~ what you get for your money) Russias budget easily matches or even surpasses zusas and Chinas mil. budget surpasses zusa, too.
Somewhat simplifying one can say that zusa prices are about 2,5 to 4 times higher than Russias and Chinas for comparable equipment.

Add to this the fact that zusas "high tech superiority" bla bla equipment is hardly more than PR and painfully failing in real word. Theoretically ("PR") zusa has a Gen 5 airplane with F35; practically though they don't; what they really have is an aged fleet of outdated aircraft and even their most top of the line jets are no match for Russias Gen 4 and 4+ Suchois or even their formidable old Migs.

Now, the danger behind the horizon is that while zusa *has* to have a considerable presence and focus around the Persian gulf they are basically condemned to more or less hold still while China/BRICS grows and stocks up on modern mil. systems.
Going the asian pivot, on the other hand, would translate to an immense strengthening of Iran and its friends. Don't be misled; Europe would be too split, too poor and too coward to put themselves seriously against Iran, even more so, if the Russian bear growled displeasure.

In the worst of cases, and by no means unrealistic, zusa would find itself in 2 unwinnable wars and bleed out very quickly.

Unfortunately though (for zusa) israel never cared batshit about their benefactor. Their plan was and is to have zusa shake up, break and weaken the region so as to allow israel to finally make its insane erez izrael dream come true and to establish itself as *the* dominant power of the region and beyond.

That's the situation. zusa *must* make peace with Iran and get out of the region to concentrate what little mil. clout it has been left with on hindering China reaching the throne and to establish anti-china coalitions.
izrael, however, will absolutely not tolerate, no matter what, its dog zusa to abandon and spoil izraels erez izrael wet project which btw actually also has become a question of survival. Not having the zus military at its disposal, izrael is insignificant as a power and will be terminated in short time.

The good news is: Chances are that both will end broken, in part by fighting each other.

And just btw.: Just wait for the end of the Sochi games. Then, Putin will not any longer be forced to smile friendly ...

Ceterum censeo israel americanamque delenda esse.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jan 28 2014 6:28 utc | 36

Great post, bevin 30). And thanks Rowan for further explaining 'pseudo-gangs', I have a much clearer notion of what they are.

It seems to me that US is mostly right now, using its military to create failed states, and sponsoring terrorist entities for the same purpose. After all, a failed state is better than a functioning one if they have not accepted the West's neoliberal plan for the world. The West is hoping that a 'strong man' will emerge in the failed states - someone they can 'do business' with.

O perhaps is trying to buck the deep state (both in US and EU) by pursuing rapprochement with Iran. I remember one glaring statement in his New Yorker interview, “The old order, the old equilibrium, is no longer tenable. The question then becomes, What’s next?”

There's no doubt O is a front man for the neoliberal project (to corporatize/privatize the whole world), but he may be seeing a future in which Iran and the rest of the resistance axis is converted to neoliberalism. Certainly the excitement of EU corporations having access to Iran's economy is making them cum in their pants.

Posted by: okie farmer | Jan 28 2014 6:59 utc | 37

US has pulled out troops but many thousands of 'Security Contractors' are in Baghdad. Mercenaries. Unaccountable.

Posted by: anonymous | Jan 28 2014 7:27 utc | 38

While I generally enjoy bevins intelligent articles, I strongly suggest to give more, way more, weight to a certain, usually ignored factor:

It seems that usually all those diverse people are just accepted as being utterly stupid and that they can be manipulated to ones liking following extremely simplistic mechanisms (like "Give money and weapons and they'll happily fight for you").

I strongly doubt that.

After all, pretty every group on earth has more and a way longer culture that zamericans. Sure, while zato is there it must seem reasonable to many to dance to their tune.
But it seems considerably more reasonable to me to assume that both, the people and mechanisms involved, are much more complex.

Actually zusa *did* tell the Afghans before the war that they could either have their land carpeted with gold (for doing what zusa wanted) or with bombs (if they resisted). Quite evidently the Afghans could not be bought.
Nevertheless, many seem to think, that most groups, be it Kurds, Taliban, or whoever, can simply be bought. And not even for simple things but actually to fight and risk their lives for their "clients".

I can't refer to a serious profound study but I would bet that at least 80% of those groups not only have their very own interests and goals but actually *hate* zusa, zuk and zato to the depth of their hearts. It seems to me that what the west does can best be compared to blackmailing. For some time (in particular as long as zus military is present) the blackmailed will (have to) cope more or less with the western demands. But god bless them once they are gone or weak!

In other words: While probably pretty everyone takes zamerican (or zaudi or ...) arms and complies to a degree, quite certainly almost all of them would more than happily kill each and every zamerican they could get hold of.

The major factor - that always was on zamericas side and aways was mercilessly (ab)used by them - is that zusa is far, far away, i.e. that it is very hard and usually not achievable to take revenge.

This advantage, however, can quickly turn to a dangerous disadvantage when zusa has to amass troups in a region. Actually pretty all the zusa mil. installations with tens of thousands of zamericans are targets on silver plate. And rest assured that pretty everyone around would more than gladly kill them.
Until now that has not been feasible because the zus response would be devastating.

However, this is changing. zusa is getting weaker and weaker by the month. Being engaged in the far east, zusa could not afford to keep their ME bases which would basically be large amounts of potential hostages.

Usually things go more balanced and in smaller steps. This is not the case with zus, which basically holds major parts of the world hostage after stealing, plundering, raping, and murdering cruelly and brutally. No matter wether ME or Latin America or ... zamericans are hated and despised almost everywhere - and their only protection, their power to take revenge brutally, is declining rapidly.

On a second level this also concerns zusas most loyal allies like zuk, parts of Europe, zaudi arabia, and others.
This, in my minds view, is also a major reason to make not-being-zusas-friend an increasingly attractive option.

On a sidenote, my partners family is european but did live for decades in Latin America and my partner has been brought there. She tells me many ghastly stories and has not the slightest doubt that most people over there hate zamericans without limits - and with plenty reasons (still after decades!).

Ceterum censeo israel americanamque delenda esse.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jan 28 2014 7:32 utc | 39

remember Pussy Riot? well they and the bombers ofVolgograd .have something in common: both want President Putin removed

'Militants who claimed responsibility for last month's suicide bombings that killed at least 34 people in the city of Volgograd have warned Russians that they faced more attacks if they didn’t rebel against President Vladimir Putin.
Russia faces heightened fears of militant attacks in the run-up to the Sochi Olympics, which start on February 7.
"Gone are the days when it was possible to destroy Muslims gratuitously," the group, Vilayat Dagestan, said on its website. "Today, one mujahid could destroy dozens or even hundreds of people in your cities. And do not think that these are isolated cases and that you will not feel the losses. The number of such bombings will only grow, and they will overtake many of you."'

who knows who these guys really are but their agenda agrees with Puss Riots

Posted by: brian | Jan 28 2014 9:34 utc | 40

Whether US 'leaves' Afghanistan at this point is pure psyop, designed to panic Karzai and the rest of his $5B bureaucracy into signing the SoFG which, if you read the one they tried to get Zardari to push through effectively means allowing an extra-judicial infidel deep government to freely operate within its borders. It all is counter intelligence. Give the appearance of pulling out reduce the resistance buildup for the Spring offensive as national elections approach, distance the public eye from.Zhalmay Khalizhad, the PNACs self-nominated presidential contender. No opposition, no resistance, no color revolution until the next Zhar is elevated to the throne. America is never leaving Afghanistan.

Posted by: Chip Nihk | Jan 28 2014 10:03 utc | 42

izrael, however, will absolutely not tolerate, no matter what, its dog zusa to abandon and spoil izraels erez izrael Khazar Empire wet project

And to dominate the desert religions.

Posted by: Hans | Jan 28 2014 11:27 utc | 43

" CIA playing both sides?"
Yes. But not necessarily because it aims to do so.

Oh god, when i read such utter shite i often wonder how such idiots can manage to even dress themselves in the morning

I didnt even read past that really really stupid line, because clearly anyone starting a lenghty moronic rant with such a line is either a bad comedian a liar or a fool.

That the fool thought it wise to contiue for another thousand words or so is the surprise. That the problem with fools though

Posted by: sheesh | Jan 28 2014 12:04 utc | 44

I'm laughing my head off at all the muttering of "Whats the plan?"

You guys are hilarious
I suppose these marketing slogans like "pivot to asia" are whats confusing you. You lot always were suckers for bad marketing

Posted by: sheesh | Jan 28 2014 12:09 utc | 45

@45 sheesh can you come off your high horse and give your explanation or are you just vomiting in your mouth and wanting to share that with us?

Posted by: thirsty | Jan 28 2014 14:32 utc | 46

The CIA: Is an enforcemnet arm and protectors of the so called "ruling elites"...nothing they do or have ever done serves the interest of the American People...we go around in circles supposing when the answer lies in the middle and knows...let us deal in "true truths" and expose the core of the global tragedy that is facing humanity...let us focus on the cause and not the symptoms...focus on who profits and the deep state that targets us all...

Posted by: Black Star | Jan 28 2014 16:05 utc | 47

In the hope of complementing brevin's and others' informative comments, following is an article by a Russian investigative journalist, who describes the history of the US / CIA / private corporations' involvement in the training of groups of foreign mercenaries, including factions in Chechnya and Dagestan, which have been nipping at Russia's heels, for years.

Who Benefits from Terror Plague? The Answer is Blowing in the Wind

And then, along comes … No, it cannot be!

Afghan President Karzai suspects US role in attacks

Then, of course, there's also the documentary on the Optor program, with its 'how-to' handbook for paid revolutionaries, by Gene Sharp, shades of the "Colored" revolutions and the "Arab" Spring[s], which many MofA readers may already have seen.

Does the USA sponsor revolutions? [27:37]

Also, the vast expansion of US Special Operations Forces [a gentle euphemism for assassins and shit-stirrers] into close to three quarters of the world's countries:

The Special Ops Surge: America’s Secret War in 134 Countries

Imo, the US is a puppet to what is now a supra-national financial industry along with its satellites. There may be competing factions in the game of wealth extraction, but they can be controlled and, besides, conflict and bloodshed are good for business. Keep populations busy and fearful, incite them to fight and kill one another [and compete for the means to survive], to distract attention from their plain old enslavement to centralized global finance.

Posted by: hyssop | Jan 28 2014 18:49 utc | 48

Here is the message which needs pounding home to the US sheeple.
And if it doesn't work, labyrinthine conspiracy theory won't work, surely.

Posted by: amspirnational | Jan 29 2014 23:27 utc | 49

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