Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 14, 2015

Narrative And Reality Of The U.S. War On Syria

The Washington Post "It Never Happened" piece on Syria documented yesterday is far from the only one that avoids to mention the intimate U.S. involvement in waging war on Syria.

A New York Times piece today falsely claims:

The United States avoided intervening in the civil war between rebels and the government of Mr. Assad until the jihadist group took advantage of the chaos to seize territory in Syria and Iraq.

McClatchy, which is usual better, currently has two pieces by Hannah Allam looking into U.S. involvement in the war on Syria. Unfortunately these are also full of false narratives and unchecked administration propaganda. Obama administration still predicts ‘Assad’s days are numbered’ is a take of what administration officials now claim about their early believes of the war on Syria. It also includes this whoopers:

The Americans were determined to keep the United States out of an armed conflict in Syria, but turned a blind eye as Persian Gulf allies sent weapons to hardline factions with ties to al Qaida.

Years ago the NYT and several other outlets reported that the CIA was the entity which organized the weapon transfers, thousands of tons, for the Saudis and other Gulf countries. The U.S. did not turn a blind eye. It was actively organizing the whole war from the very beginning.

In The ‘magic words:’ How a simple phrase enmeshed the U.S. in Syria’s crisis Hannah Allam lets the former ambassador to Syria Ford claim that the administration never really wanted to ouster Assad but was pressed into it:

Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria at the time, said he initially opposed calling for Assad’s ouster for two reasons: it was clear to him that sanctions were the only punishment the White House was willing to use, and that such a call would kill his efforts to start a dialogue with the regime.

Ford said he was up against the same outside pressures other officials listed – influential Republicans, a few senior Democrats, the “very loud” Syrian-American community and foreign governments – but he added one force that’s often overlooked.

“To be very frank, the press, the media, was baiting us. It’s not like the media was impartial in this,” Ford said. “Because once the Republicans started saying he has no legitimacy, the question then became at press conferences every day: Do you think he has legitimacy? What are we supposed to say? Yes, he does?”

Hogwash. Ford was one of the first to press for the ouster of Assad. He even organized the early demonstration and the media training for the "peaceful demonstrators" who were early on killing policemen and soldiers. One of the "revolutionaries" reacts to Ford's claims:

The 47th
Out of all ppl, Robert Ford is talking about Syrians being mislead by the magic words? Ford "promised" us Syrians full support in 2011.

The 47th
In private meetings In damascus, Robert Ford promised his syrian oppo friends full U.S. Support and encouraged Syrians to go on.

The 47th
He even went to fucking Hama, during the biggest protest in Syria's modern history

The 47th
I wdnt talk abt ppl misinterpreting U.S public statements, U were ur Admin's amb, say the truth: u promised Syrians the moon, gave them shit

All these media pieces, yesterday's WaPo piece, today's false NYT claims, the McClatchy pieces, are part of the Obama strategy to play as if it was/is doing "nothing" or "just something" while at the time time running a full fledged proxy war against the Syrian government.

Joel Veldkamp lays out and analyses that strategy:

Why does the U.S. only have sixty fighters to show for its $500 million, year-old training program? Because it reinforces the narrative – nurtured by a raft of previous hopelessly inadequate, publicly-announced and -debated programs to support the opposition – of the U.S. as a helpless bystander to the killing in Syria, and of President Obama as a prudent statesman reluctant to get involved. While the Senate berates the Pentagon chief over the program’s poor results, the U.S. is meanwhile outsourcing the real fight in Syria to allies with no qualms about supporting al Qaeda against their geopolitical opponents – unless the U.S. is, as before, cooperating directly or indirectly in that support.

Once it is recognized that the “helpless bystander” narrative is false, and that the U.S. has been deeply involved in the armed conflict almost from the start, it becomes both possible and necessary to question that involvement.

What I find astonishing is that the U.S. media are able to have it both ways on Syria. Every other day there is a piece with the false narrative that the U.S. is not and has not been involved in Syria while at the same time the very same media, NYT, WaPo, McClatchy, publish other pieces about the massive "secret" military effort with thousands of tons of weapon shipments and billions of dollars the Obama administration pushes into Syria to wage war against the Syrian people.

The media know that the "helpless bystander” narrative is false. But Joel Veldkamp's hope that this would make it "possible and necessary to question that involvement" is not coming true. Besides in fringe blogs like this one there is no such public discussion at all.

Posted by b on August 14, 2015 at 15:52 UTC | Permalink


"Obama administration still predicts ‘Assad’s days are numbered’"

The cute thing about a truism is that even though it can't be wrong when used to describe a life span, it's meaningless and wimpy.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Aug 14 2015 17:06 utc | 1

Re. Syria (others...) the US is divided.

Perpetual violent war-mongers (McCain, his acolytes, neo-cons, neo-libs) facing a more ‘realistic’ foreign policy - Obama and Kerry, see Iran deal.

These parties are fighting amongst each other and pursuing different agendas. Ex.: Ukraine, where the ones are gingerly, half-heartedly, supporting the Minsk 2 agreement and want to get rid of the ‘distraction’ and leave it for now to the EU and/or Russia to pay for the mess.

The other camp, going for all out-war against Russia, with boots on the ground / powerful arms / bombing / other, in Ukr., attacking Russia through a proxy. — Ukr. can’t manage on its own as has now been conclusively demonstrated.

Now that might be good cop-bad cop routine, but overall it explains the ‘frozen-for-now conflict’ (deathly as it is and not frozen) in Ukraine. Along with the fact that Putin wants nothing to do with this mess and imho? stops the separatists from conquering more territory.

Failed states, characteristics.

... Being open to outside soft take-over and influence. The PTB hob-nob, submit to outsiders (who have some sorta power), and make contradictory alliances in function of interest groups. A failed state cannot truly defend itself, so it deploys what might it can to intimidate, always with allies, proxies, buddies, etc. It agresses militarily only the weak and easily vanquished (nobody objects to that) but gains no advantages from it. On it goes, squandering its ressources.

The destruction of Syria has worked fine. But Assad can’t be removed. Now the plan is he is to stay but be ‘wound down’ or whatever.

The US media knows nothing and cares less, it is anything goes, they just sell media consumption / clicks on the intertubes / TV watching, etc. / advertising / Gvmt. propanganda, all of which which changes day by day… the more ppl are confused, the better!

Posted by: Noirette | Aug 14 2015 17:19 utc | 2
Davutoğlu says Turkey not against Kurdish autonomy in post-Assad Syria
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said Turkey would not be opposed to a possible autonomous Kurdish region in Syria following the fall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, if all groups in the country can agree on it.

Davutoğlu's comments came as he spoke to reporters aboard a plane carrying a Turkish delegation to Myanmar on Thursday. Stating that Turkey is not against the improvement of Kurds' rights in Syria, the foreign minister recalled that he had met with leaders of the Syrian National Council (SNC) and the Kurdish National Council (KNC) during a visit he paid to Arbil.

“I told them, the leader of the SNC chairs the council as a Syrian Kurd. And you [KNC] are sitting here as Syrian Kurds. Sit down and come to terms. What we oppose is the threat of terrorism and the possibility of one of you claiming possession of somewhere. Elections should be held in Syria; a parliament should be formed that includes Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs. You can come together and say we will grant autonomy [to the Kurds]. This is up to you. We would not oppose that,” Davutoğlu said.

Turkey announced it strongly opposes the presence of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Syria's northern cities along the Turkish border following the withdrawal of Assad's forces from predominantly Kurdish-populated areas to fight opposition forces in Damascus and Aleppo. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier warned that Turkey will intervene if “terrorist formations” emerge along its border.

Davutoğlu also reiterated that Turkey will take all necessary steps against PKK threats in some northern Syrian cities, such as Afrin and Kobani, accusing the Syrian administration of aiding these groups. “Assad gave them weapons. Yes, this is not a fantasy. It is true. We have taken the necessary measures against this threat,” he added.

Posted by: okie farmer | Aug 14 2015 17:45 utc | 3

I wonder how the NY Times would spin JFK's assassination today?

Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 14 2015 17:45 utc | 4

As b points out, the cat is out of the bag. So this is not about plausible deniability.

The sophisticated propaganda apparatus that we enjoy (NOT!) today is a mix of half-truths, false narratives and (falser) counter-narratives. (Some counter-narratives, I think, are from well-meaning people who distrust government and are trying to interpret what is really happening thru the lens of their own (often limited) experience.)

The "helpless bystander" narrative is complemented by the "ruthless tyrant" narrative. A recent CBS news segment about the demise of the small American armed and trained anti-ISIL force related how hundreds of potential fighters had dropped out. Why? Because they thought *ASSAD* was a worse problem than ISIL!

The propaganda push, coming after recent developments like USA saying it will attack any force that attacks USA-supported militants, leads me to wonder if we're being prepared for a surprise! that forces USA involvement.

Interesting too, that the Ukraine situation is hotting up. Maybe the thinking is that Putin could not handle multiple crises?

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 14 2015 19:05 utc | 6


Remember how Dick Cheney's friend, the apologetic Harry Whittington put his face in the way of Cheney's Coors Light birdshot?

Posted by: fast freddy | Aug 14 2015 19:12 utc | 7

Putin is well aware of US duplicity, and the Wests promises to protect the Libya minority, which morphed into Regime change. Iran is even more aware of the US game in Syria,it is for that reason both countries be on their guard in the event that the US, or their proxies, intervene in Syria, which I am sure they would like to do. I hope it is the case that Assad has things in hand, and that he does not need the help of Iran's military manpower, in the event that he did, I am sure the military alliance between the two would provide such assistance if called for by Assad, this would be entirely within International law, after all the Saudis and Turks have been facilitating the influx of thousands of head chopping fanatics into Syria in breach of International law in their attempt to topple the legitimate Syrian Government.

Posted by: harry law | Aug 14 2015 19:49 utc | 8

It's all predictable lies, mostly because the ISIL head chopping terrorists, have been the dominant, and public, fighting force in Syria.

If ISIL wasnt so proud of its evil in projecting it's violence on YouTube, they would still be called the "moderates", and the US denial of its ISIL and Al Qaeda support wouldn't need to be so strong.

Its self known lies by the empires elite and their propagandists, which tell these obvious lies that are stool used to convince those in the public that you couldn't give a shit, are partisan, or supportive.

Posted by: tom | Aug 14 2015 20:04 utc | 9

@ b


check this note from Matthew Lee at ICP:

When Inner City Press first reported in March 2012 that Feltman was being placed by the US atop the UN Department of Political Affairs, to replace fellow American B. Lynn Pascoe, Inner City Press noted that putting “UN” policy in the hands of the person who covered the Middle East for the State Department might be a problem. (There were other problems, like here and then censorship here.)

Posted by: Yul | Aug 14 2015 20:13 utc | 10

re 3

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said Turkey would not be opposed to a possible autonomous Kurdish region in Syria following the fall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, if all groups in the country can agree on it.
None of this will happen. The most likely Kurdish independent state is KRG in Iraq, but they've turned against independence, as it doen't work economically.

Posted by: Laguerre | Aug 14 2015 21:26 utc | 11


Remember how Malaysia put Cheney and George the Lessor on wanted posters, then planes started falling out of the sky?

Remember the four Chinese patent holders of the 'break thru' Defense (War) chip who died on MH370? And a Rothschild was the sole remaining patent holder? Then a supposed 'wing part' with no barnacle growth after a year in the tropical seas, now turns out not to be...but media has already branded the vox populi.

Remember that from Dubai to Brazil to Thailand and soon coming to a workplace near you, the indentured foreign worker as slave phenomenon, their passports confiscated and paychecks seized, living 12 to a room on Ramen and potted meat byproducts?

Mmmmm, potted meat by-products, ... arghlll.

2016 will see the perfection of Big Brother, collapse of free-media, free journalists indicted like a blizzard of snowdens, reddits and twitters and facebooks reduced to guttural jungle sounds like inmates at AL Catraz, and then freefall, run for your lives, nearer my god to thee, rush for the lifeboats.

Only there won't be any....

Posted by: Chipnik | Aug 14 2015 23:53 utc | 12

Especially for Jack Rabbit from the 'open post' yesterday:

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Aug 14, 2015 1:24:51 PM | 55


Blame the victims?
Which victims?
The 3000 or so who were killed when the towers collapsed?
Or the 100's of thousands who died because of what/who runs the businesses in the trade towers? [This assumes it was NOT a black flag operation]

What you are saying is that when a Palestinian reacts to the killing of one of his family by the Israeli's, that Palestinian is not allowed to be a victim? Only white folks can be victims? It seems to me that when the business you work for behaves in an illegal, immoral or nasty way, that UNLESS you speak out, you are complicit.

My point is that the American people tolerate the propaganda (and in fact object to facts or criticism) and don't speak out because they really prefer the propaganda to reality. Thus, I am very comfortable accusing them of complicity when it comes to the system they work within. And, I go further by suggesting that it has always been so ... since the first European stepped foot on the western side of the Atlantic. Americans LIKE their lifestyles. Thus, may I suggest an essay I truly believe summarizes my position (even though I do not agree with it 100%):

To a hair splitter, the author is speaking of Europe ... but look at the so-called 'border' problem in the American southwest (TX, NM, AZ, CA) ... a border that only appeared after 'The War of Yankee Aggression' ... called the "Mexican War" in the US!

Posted by: Rg an LG | Aug 14, 2015 8:31:54 PM | 56

Posted by: Rg an LG | Aug 15 2015 0:36 utc | 13

The Horror She Endured is directly attributable to #JohnMcCainArmedandFundedISIS. He even bragged about his daring mission to Syria last summer, meeting with Al Nusra and The Caliph to 'finish the job' that Clinton botched in Benghazi, of providing heavy arms and $10sMs in funds to soon ISIL Daesch.

You see cells pics of him in meetings with them, who he now claims he, "didn't know who they were", like a US SENATOR travels 10,000 miles to an Israeli insertion operation into Syria and he doesn't know why he's there and who he'Lloyd meet?!

Another Forrestal Fable, more dead Americans, and now the blood of every ISIL victim, like the blood of every Kiev victim, is on every Americans' hands.

"Oh, but we did not know!"

Cheney, George the Lesser, Rumsfeld, Rice, Clinton and McCain should all be hanging from lamp posts, if there was Justice.

Hope is Chains.

Posted by: Chipnik | Aug 15 2015 1:51 utc | 14

flagrant liars
"my country"
rends shirt

Posted by: Jay M | Aug 15 2015 2:57 utc | 15


You can't really be that slow to believe the nonsense about that being a picture of al-Baghdadi.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Aug 15 2015 3:43 utc | 16

Someone please give Zbigniew a call, and ask him how to spin the narrative on Syria. This whole mess the U.S. is squirming around in is a result of it's own doing. For a long time the U.S. has attempted to live two lives. One life as a democracy warrior, the other as a master of deception. Brzezinski went big back in the seventies, when he convinced Jimmy Carter to back the Mujaheddin against Russia. Smart move, except now every Gulf nation has their personal mercenaries at their disposal. This is going on at the same time that every Joe-Bob in America thinks it's those crazy Muslims. So savage mercenaries they are not, but savage Muslims they must be. So finally now when people in the White House wake up to the fact that this isn't 1978 they are struck with an epiphany to suddenly change their tune. This shouldn't surprise anyone. This is what they do. No one ever said they do it well. Well, maybe some will say that, but then again this is how it gets done. My one hope is that all people, whether Syrian, Iraqi, Ukrainian, or just down right anyone may live in peace. Why, is this so hard?

Posted by: Joe Tedesky | Aug 15 2015 3:58 utc | 17

This is from the WSWS: developments on the ground (in Syria) are underscoring that any diplomatic settlement over Syria will be implemented through a militarized carve-up of the country, spearheaded by the Pentagon and its regional partners and proxy forces.

As part of a deal reached in July between Ankara and Washington, Turkish President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) government leader Erdogan gained US backing for the imposition of a militarized “buffer zone” encompassing hundreds of square miles in northern Syria. The new zone would be occupied by Syrian opposition fighters and reinforced by the US and Turkish air forces, with US forces having been cleared to operate from Turkish bases as part of the agreement.

Once established, the military zone would serve as a staging area for US-backed rebel forces fighting against the Assad government.

Despite their public confidence in Putin’s readiness to accept a deal, the Turkish government is clearly preparing its own large-scale military intervention into areas of northern Syria."

Yes, Putin wants a deal, so Turkey and Jordan are positioning themselves to steal parts of Syria before the agreement is made.

But what about the US? The US won't want the Russian deal because they won't be able to install their own stooge in Damascus. So the fighting goes on, Iran gets more involved, and Putin has to decide whether to send troops to avoid another Libya.

What a mess!

Posted by: plantman | Aug 15 2015 4:50 utc | 18

Mina @5

Thanks. Bhadrakumar is always the best.

But, I think it's realistic to take a step further Flynn's admission about the US "knowing about ISIL" (but not knowing its name) back in 2012. Wouldn't it be more realistic to guess that the US also knew about Saudi defense/intelligence ministry plans to create and fund 'ISIL' from the beginning? Does anyone here think _anything_ going on at a high level in Saudi escapes US intelligence?

And then, a step further, you would think US experts would be helpfully guiding the Saudis as to where best to insert ISIL forces, how best to fund/supply them, and so on. Saudi royal family cronies are not the most competent or hardworking administrators, and they're not privy to the intel and experience the US has in the 'our terrorism' specialty, and so it's natural to expect they'd ask for and receive US help with this stuff.

Posted by: fairleft | Aug 15 2015 8:14 utc | 19


Remember what Jesus said, "There will always be Collaborators and Denialists among you, but the Smoking Gun" won't be."

Denialist in 3...2...1.

Why was there no massive West Coast tidal wave, as all models for a 9.0 predicted, and why were all the Japanese seismograph compilations buried under the USGS 'official version'?

Read the Smoking Gun, then ask, if 'these people who may not be named' are that malevolent, that evil, they'll drop two towers, and make two planes fall from the sky, and cause two reactors to explode, ... then what's in store for those who resist Great Shaytan in 21st Great Unwinding, and how quickly will it usher in their Project for a New American Century Great Die-Off?

Hope is Chains.

Stealth nuclear attack on Iran, as soon as the O-one knocks out the Syrian early-warning radars, then any 11th of the first month after the back alley night skies go 'dark', then Omni Media will call it a 'reactor explosion', and blame it on poor Iranian technology and the Chinese Stuxnet virus, because ... Jesus!

Posted by: Chipnik | Aug 15 2015 8:38 utc | 20

Bhadrakumar's piece ends very strong, especially the final paragraph:

The specious plea being advanced by Washington currently is that the US wants to turn Afghanistan into a regional hub to wage a war against the IS — a war by the US and its partners, which, in the opinion of Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, could last not less than a generation.

This Dempsey guy is a smart general, isn’t it? It was under his watch that the IS was finessed and deployed as the instrument of US regional policy to overthrow the established government in Syria and to force Baghdad to allow the return of American troops to Iraq – and now he pops up in Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s office in Kabul one fine day two weeks ago to make the proposition that Washington might need an open-ended military presence in Afghanistan for another 15-20 years to wage the global war against the IS.

It will take another Gen Flynn to tell us another time circa 2025 that the IS that subsequently overthrew the established governments in Central Asia, bled white the regions of Xinjiang and North Caucasus and Kashmir, destroyed the Pakistani state and led to that country’s disintegration, and kept Iran bogged down in the sheer preservation of its plural society (which is an ethnic mosaic) was actually incubated in the American military bases in Afghanistan.

Posted by: fairleft | Aug 15 2015 9:07 utc | 21

part 1 of 2
Polar Reorientation In the Mideast (US-Iran)?
Fri, Aug 14, 2015

Posted by: okie farmer | Aug 15 2015 11:22 utc | 22

The Saker has a great interview with Gnl Amine Htaite of the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Good to get an Orientalist point of view these days.

Posted by: El Sid | Aug 15 2015 13:12 utc | 23


Turkish nationalists reject minority government in blow to Erdogan

Hard to tell if the good guys are going to increase their representation or the bad guys ... but I hope to see the hind side of this particular turkey. Looks like the Turks of every species are grousing at Erdogan at every opportunity.


' This Dempsey guy is a smart general, isn’t it? It was under his watch that the IS was finessed and deployed as the instrument of US regional policy to overthrow the established government in Syria and to force Baghdad to allow the return of American troops to Iraq – and now he pops up in Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s office in Kabul one fine day two weeks ago to make the proposition that Washington might need an open-ended military presence in Afghanistan for another 15-20 years to wage the global war against the IS. '

Dempsey is getting ready for his personal revolution ... through the revolving door to the pot of gold as the end of the rainbow. The US armed forces are now committing to losing wars for ... as long as they can. Afghanistan is one of their major profit centers.

Posted by: jfl | Aug 15 2015 13:34 utc | 24

@ El Sid:

thanks for that. in this pathological era of "helpless bystander" and "it never happened" the general is indeed refreshingly lucid.

@ Chipnik:

this one's for you :(

Posted by: john | Aug 15 2015 14:04 utc | 25

Plantman at 18 --

You're right to call it a hot mess. The Ukraine, Libya, Iraq and More! Collect and trade them all! Everyone will want a complete set of the "Most Wanted" cards, naturally.

Mike Whitney at Counterpunch is always a good read on the economy. He turns his talents here to Syria, asking the musical question, Is Putin Planning to Sell-Out Assad? He doesn't think so.

Forget about ISIS and Syrian President Bashar al Assad for a minute and, instead, focus on the terms “autonomous zones”, “creation of …sanctuaries”, “safe zones” and “a confederal Syria.”

All of these strongly suggest that the primary aim of US policy is to break Syria up into smaller units that pose no threat to US-Israeli regional hegemony. This is the US gameplan in a nutshell.

In contrast, Russia does not want a divided Syria. Aside from the fact that Moscow and Damascus are long-term allies (and Russia has a critical naval facility in Tartus, Syria), a balkanized Syria poses serious threats for Russia...."

Amongst them, "the probable emergence of a jihadi base of operations" with some of those ops targeting the Russian Federation, and a legitimizing a whole array of bad practices in international relations.

The under-reported diplomacy by Putin, Whitney writes, is aimed at implementation of the Geneva accord of 2012.

Geneva does not resolve the central issue, which is: “Does Assad stay or go?” That question is not answered definitively. It all depends of composition of the “transitional governing body” and the outcome of future elections....

Here’s how Lavrov summed it up two days ago:

"I have already said, Russia and Saudi Arabia support all principles of the June 30, 2012 Geneva communique, in particular, the need to preserve government institutions, including the Syrian army. I believe its participation in the effective struggle against terrorists is truly essential."

Whitney allows, "Some will... say that Putin is 'selling out a friend and ally', but that’s not entirely true. He’s trying to balance two opposing things at the same time." Keep the back of an ally, but get Saudi help to end the jihadi war in Syria.

And even if Assad is removed, the process (Geneva) is such that the next president is not going to be a hand-picked US stooge, but someone who is supported by the majority of the Syrian people. Needless to say, Washington doesn’t like that idea.

Some "moderate jihadi" riding in on a Humvee is more to DC's taste.

In as much as Assad the Younger, former London optometrist, is more of a figurehead and less an autocrat than his late father, Ba'ath Party institutions should prove suitably robust and cohesive to have a significant impact on any future government.

Whitney points to the Turkmen militias earlier under discussion [see the "Turkey Invades" thread] and concludes, time is short for Putin to pull off another diplomatic victory and prevent America from crossing another "red line" in its efforts to destroy Syria.

jfl at 24

I'd like to see Erdogan out, but I would note he's survived numerous rounds of substantial discontent. See the links in my nr. 84 in Turkey Invades if you're curious about his political calculations; sadly, he may be correct. He will not see this rejection as a blow, but will welcome it.

And to all you Barflies, I keep saying -- it's not about ISIS, or even Assad. It's all about the PKK and the Kurds. That's the real story, not the official narrative.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 15 2015 14:12 utc | 26

@Rg an LG

I responded in the Open Thread.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 15 2015 14:42 utc | 27

john at 25 --

"Wisdom for the People, let's speak about peace."

Good taste, though Sun Ra, brilliant showmanship and all, was never my cup of tea.

I kept the beat to my nuclear worries back in 80's to this classic by Brown and Bambaata, Unity, Part III, "Nuclear Wildstyle". "So funky! Stop messin' with my head! Revolution of the Mind, Revolution of the Mind."

I'm using this musically updated version of "99 Luftballoons" now.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 15 2015 14:43 utc | 28

noirette @ 2: " the more ppl are confused, the better!"
Yep, ignorance is bliss. At least as far as the MCM is concerned.

Mina @ 5: Good link. I see the Youtube interview has been taken down.

As our Chipnik poster has said "We won, you lost, it's just business, get over it."

JT @ 17 asked:" Why is it so hard?"
Because, my friend, there is more $ to be made in war, than peace.

Posted by: ben | Aug 15 2015 15:07 utc | 29

As Narrative is in the title….When the protests in Syria broke out, and war began, I awarded the label ‘genuine’ to some of the early protests, which nobody agreed with iirc. I related these protests to catastrophic drought (which is well documented, > goog) and the unwillingness / incapacity / blindness of the Assad Gvmt in addressing the matter in any way at all.

One major problem was that the drought coincided with liberal moves by Assad - cutting bread subsidies (2008! - food prices R O S E by astonishing %), fuel subsididies for farmers (others too), opening up the banking sector, and totally mismanaging water -> …all done to please the W and ‘modernise’.

Which lead to massive destruction of the farming community (very consequent at the time) and ppl flocking to the towns where they could not earn a living. The MSM has recently (March 2015) discovered this, e.g. the NYT - - which states that 1.5 million ppl moved to cities (idk about that no., seems low, but more were displaced and fell into poverty in other ways. Or fled, leading to further disorganisation and damage. At some point a threshold or tipping point is reached.) The article also mentions refugees from Iraq - a separate issue.

It is natural to be polarised on human decisions, influence, plots, but I really think one should take climate change into account. Note the ‘liberalisation moves’ were the usual, and Assad agreed but took it very slow - he faced opposition from various quarters, incl. his minister of Economy. Now we see similar but far more radical measures imposed on Greece, Ukraine, like a speeded-up movie.

academic paper, cautious and wordy. mentions the diff. topics

news from 2010, 2-3 million ppl thrown into extreme poverty in Syria

Posted by: Noirette | Aug 15 2015 15:12 utc | 30

Older video from TRNN on IS:

Posted by: ben | Aug 15 2015 15:12 utc | 31

ben @ 29:

...and I came to the conclusion that our current wealth was 1 percent of what’s possible(Catherine Austin Fitts)

“Debt Equals War and Equity Equals Peace”

Posted by: john | Aug 15 2015 16:26 utc | 32

Noirette at 30 --

Thanks for the reminder, you are consistently grounded in reality, always a good thing.

Assad was following the "Washington Consensus" on economics and was playing the same sort of go-along, get-along game Qaddafi was. As a front-line state, however, he was under more constraints in this cooperation. And he seems to have drawn his own conclusions about the "Arab Spring." Let a hundred schools of jihadi thought emerge....

I would suppose this conflict has done little for the economy or agriculture. Do those earlier economic measures stand? How do the various areas-under-control compare economically?

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 15 2015 16:50 utc | 33

gatwick airport is to be avoided....the delays,the baggage theft,the heat,the smell,terrrii terrrri terrriii terrifying

gb has sunk down the cheeks into the crack and now rests in 70 virgin hell terrority....all brit and no brak

Posted by: mcohen | Aug 15 2015 22:01 utc | 34

Things seem to be getting very hot. Turkey and the US seem to be prepping for their latest final assault in Syria. Ukraine/Nato seems to be preparing for their latest final assault on NovoRussia. Gigantic chemical explosions have happened within 36 hours in Russia, China and the US, suggestive of a first, 'warning', global volley. We live in interesting times. How foolish we have been to let it come to this.

Posted by: paul | Aug 16 2015 0:28 utc | 35

re Noirette 30

I wasn't able to access the ametsoc reference as it's still within the moving wall. If you have a pdf, I'd be very grateful.

Without seeing what Gleick says, in general I would say that water problems in the Jazira (NE Syria beyond the Euphrates) may be in part the consequence of lack of rain, but more likely the product of the Turks building four dams on the Euphrates, which has cut the flow considerably, though I don't have the figures.

The same on the Tigris, where I've seen it. The Tigris is half what it was.

The complaint against Asad may be that he didn't negotiate with the Turks. Maliki, in Iraq, did, but I don't know that he achieved any results.

Posted by: Laguerre | Aug 16 2015 0:31 utc | 36

Paul says "Things seem to be getting very hot. Turkey and the US seem to be prepping for their latest final assault in Syria."

I agree, but I'm not sure Erdogan will invade before the elections in late October which will cement his position as supreme leader.

Putin wants to avoid another regime change scenario (Think: Saddam, Gadhafi) by short circuiting US battle plans to support Turkish and jihadi troops on the ground while US provides air cover.

This is why Putin, and the Iranians are pushing so hard for peace now.
The Saudis seem to be listening to Putin which has Washington worried, so they could speed up their plans to remove Assad.

The next few months will be critical. Iran will help its ally Assad, but will Putin.

I hope so.

Posted by: plantman | Aug 16 2015 1:24 utc | 37

The next few months will be critical. Iran will help its ally Assad, but will Putin.
Posted by: plantman | Aug 15, 2015 9:24:19 PM | 37

Yes. And Obama and Erdogan know it, which is why the Yankees and Turks are talking so much about grandiose 'plans' and DO-ing so little. The Yankees still haven't recovered from the shock when Russia shot down some cruise missiles headed for Syria circa September 3, 2013 - from Russia. If you check back you'll discover that that event ignited the current anti-Putin rhetoric/sour grapes.

It's possible that the Yankees could have swallowed their pride over this incident but Putin decided to add contempt to injury by joking about it.

Here he is...

Meeting on developing the aerospace defence system
November 28, 2013, 19:00 Sochi

Meeting participants discussed equipping Aerospace Defence Forces with up-to-date weapons.

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon, colleagues,
"We are moving forward in this direction, and there is progress. By way of example, let me highlight the Voronezh missile attack early warning radar station. It is already operational in Armavir, Kaliningrad and Lekhtusi. And I must say that in September this year, during combat-like exercises, it detected launches from the Mediterranean region, and effectively proved its efficiency and reliability. In accordance with plans for the next five years, we will need to commission seven more such stations."

The Yankee's Empire Daze is over. And if they don't accept it Russia and China will demonstrate it in a way that even the dumbest of cowardly, dumbass Yankees will understand.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Aug 16 2015 3:12 utc | 38

Pipelineistan — the Iran-Pak-China connection

Posted by: ALAN | Aug 16 2015 5:57 utc | 39


An' dis one'sfor you○○○

Posted by: Chipnik | Aug 16 2015 10:52 utc | 40

Laguerre at 36, no copy sorry… read paper in library with access and linked to it from home without checking. it appears that it is strictly walled off.

links that discuss/describe it (from his blog with same title)


Assad may have negotiated (without success) idk, it’s possible.

What I remember from that time is reports of the FAO (unclear), etc. And his own ministries of Economy and Agri who sounded alarms, wrote serious white papers (some translated into Eng..), but nothing was done inside the country, such as extra stipends or lifting of ‘liberalisation’, for farmers, peasants, herders.

One straw that contributed to the break and clashes was that with rising food prices (etc.) and the first protests - repressed, imho, but who knows - teachers left and schools limped or were semi-closed. (From obscure news, and personal contacts. They were finally closed completely..) The State, in the shape of the National Education System, began to fracture, as well as the local authorities (Admin, 'mayors', etc.), emanations of the Gvmt. began to dissolve. To be fair to the teachs, children stopped attending, as food / transport / the needed social cohesiveness was bust.

Posted by: Noirette | Aug 16 2015 13:19 utc | 41


H, do you don a robe and stand on a soap box when you make these loony rants?

E-W radars are nice toys, and a great product to sell, but if there is a full-on Nuke war, the only kind we can have with Russia, they offer little more than enough warning to bend over and kiss your ass goodbye. Even if the 'defense' part is 99% effective they and we are still dead or wishing we were.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Aug 16 2015 14:14 utc | 42

Wayout, we agree on your last sentence.
That's the 4th or 5th time you've used our soapbox to say something sensible.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Aug 16 2015 14:56 utc | 43

At present, it looks to me like Turkey will invade sometime after the October elections in which Erdogan will become supreme Ottoman sultan. Obama will provide air cover and no fly zone.

But--what never gets talked about on the blogs--is how much Washington hates erdogan who they see as a loose cannon and a megalomaniac.

How long do you think it will be--after assad goes--before Isis pops up in Ankara?

Not long, I'd wager.

Posted by: plantman | Aug 16 2015 15:23 utc | 44

Wayout's "...and we are still dead or wishing we were" reminded me of a ditty from an article in MAD Magazine circa 1960, exploring the possibilities in a post-nuclear world.

The Girl That I Marry

The girl that I marry
Will have to be
A purple-skinned monster
With two heads, or three.

The girl I call my wife
Will have a nose
With eight nostrils
You play like a fife...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Aug 17 2015 5:29 utc | 45


When you think about it it's quite amazing that we've avoided our 'On The Beach' Nukecaust. We did find other older ways to continue the killing but the examples made in Japan seem to have triggered some species survival response.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Aug 17 2015 13:52 utc | 46

45;My biggest Mad magazine memory was a plastic record with the ditty;"She got a nose job,its all turned up when it was hanging down."That and the back page fold.Oh,and spy vs. spy."What,me worry?"

Posted by: dahoit | Aug 17 2015 14:54 utc | 47

"Turkey and the US seem to be prepping for their latest final assault in Syria. "

To understand the situation, it helps to read about Sengoku period of Japanese history. You have opposing coalitions and a lot of backstabbing in each. In general, the more ascendant one side is, the more backstabbing, and that slows down the process of "final victory". It also helps to read about raising venomous snakes (for profit, and perchance, for fun). The most valuable ones are very good at biting the hand that handles it, and bites are lethal.

The latest news from the "safe zone": ISIL took over (almost?) the village (town?) of Mar'e, narrowing the width of the zone in the vicinity to ca. 15 km = 10 miles. The width of the 30-35 mile long "zone" ranges from 15 miles at the Turkish border to 5 at the bottleneck between SAA positions in front of Aleppo and SAA positions that have Afrin canton on their back. It does not seem that ISIL is under pressure from a mighty Turkoman brigade.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Aug 17 2015 14:55 utc | 48

Erdogan preempted the snap elactions by a snap diktat ...

Erdoğan’s declaration of 'system change’ outrages Turkey’s opposition | Hürriyet Daily News |

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s declaration of a de facto shift in Turkey’s administrative system to a presidential system has infuriated opposition leaders, who say the declaration indicates “rule by diktat.”

In remarks delivered in his hometown, the Black Sea province of Rize, on Aug. 14, Erdoğan said Turkey had witnessed a change in the president’s new role and asked for the constitution to be updated to recognize his de facto deployment of enhanced powers.

“There is a president with de facto power in the country, not a symbolic one. The president should conduct his duties for the nation directly, but within his authority. Whether one accepts it or not, Turkey’s administrative system has changed. Now, what should be done is to update this de facto situation in the legal framework of the constitution,” he said.

Posted to my diary - Israel Ready to Join the Sunni Alliance Against Assad, Syria.

Posted by: Oui | Aug 17 2015 16:21 utc | 49

You're as bad as Wayout with sources, and I'm beginning to think about as reliable.

It does not seem that ISIL is under pressure from a mighty Turkoman brigade.

I did find some info. on Mar'e, and, surprisingly, it doesn't say anything about Sultan Murad Brigade, though the Free Syria Army seems to be takin it on the chin. Your SAA is the Syrian Arab Army, perhaps? Not terrible Turkic, I'd say.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 18 2015 0:13 utc | 50

There is only one history of the Syrian War so far as I am concerned, and the is b's:

I would suggest that you keep that post updated as we go, though of course maybe it isn't your blogging style. But it's a brilliant piece.

Posted by: guest77 | Aug 18 2015 2:49 utc | 51

oui at 49 --

That bears watching, tx.

Posted by: rufus magister | Aug 18 2015 5:12 utc | 52

"Looks like the Turks of every species are grousing at Erdogan at every opportunity."

This is not exactly true. One turkey terrorized the main campus of University of Michigan. I have a personal experience with a combative turkey who walked back and forth blocking a village street. I tried to chase it away with a road atlas, and he chased me back, and as I jumped back into the car, my friend (the driver) pressed the button to close windows. trapping the paws of the creature. Released, it jumped onto the roof and pooped.

In any case, one of the leading businessman said “When I became acquainted [with Erdoğan], I saw that divine love is possible between two men,” which requires a bit of explanation: "By “divine love,” Sancak was referring to the Sufi concept of spiritual love of the Divine, as famously exemplified between Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi and Shams-i-Tabrizi in the 13th century." So perhaps it is something like "a meeting of souls". Right now this story makes rounds in Turkish press.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Aug 18 2015 15:07 utc | 53

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