Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 02, 2016

December 1942 - Expert: A Soviet Occupation Of Stalingrad Would Be Too Costly

Stalingrad, December 1942.

The German 6th Army and attached allied forces under General Paulus are surrounded and besieged by the Soviet Red Army. A relief attack from the outside of the cauldron has failed. The besieged have few supplies and can not hold out on their own.

But Karl Auflister, a Soviet Union expert working at the Slavic Institute in Berlin, does not believe that the Red Army will storm the city.

"The Soviets are hedging their bets. They would prefer to make a deal with the German forces," he said. "If Stalingrad were to fall, the Soviet regime would need so many troops to hold the city that its forces would be left thin elsewhere in the country."

Some readers may have problems with the logic Mr. Auflister applied. Why would the Soviets need more troops to hold a reconquered Stalingrad than they need to besiege it?

But what do you know. You ain't an expert.

Mr Auflister, the expert, is very serious. Here is the relevant snippet from the Financial Times.


Posted by b on December 2, 2016 at 19:03 UTC | Permalink


charles lister is undoubtedly al alqaeda supporter. as a matter of fact, he is getting paid by the al qaeda masters.

Posted by: shoes | Dec 2 2016 19:11 utc | 1

The take home message from that article is that the corporate-funded think tank conduit into the global media propaganda system is alive and well. This is the kind of crap the Soviet Union would have directed Pravda to print in the Brezhnev-Andropov era, and if you doubt this, just look at who finances the Middle East Institute and "Syria expert Charles Lister.">

Here's the top bunch, there are many more lower-level funders:
Chevron Corporation
Coca-Cola Company
Saudi Aramco

Oh, surprise surprise. Still holding out hope for Assad to fall from power so Saudi Arabia and Qatar can finally put in that trans-Syria oil & gas pipeline for export to European markets, aren't they? What are they smoking.

Posted by: nonsensefactory | Dec 2 2016 19:19 utc | 2

Bad link above, here it is:

Posted by: nonsensefactory | Dec 2 2016 19:21 utc | 3

Another "expert" putting forth the party line of the bastards who continue to support the mercenary army they trained, armed, and continue to supply, otherwise known as the "moderate rebels".

Posted by: Perimeter | Dec 2 2016 19:21 utc | 4

Of course, Mr. Lister (Dr. Lister?) is delusional. For Russia to contemplate "deal with the opposition", "the opposition" would have to exists, as opposed to a collection of armed bands and disorganized spokesmen abroad who pass for Syrian this or that. Just now, it was announced that Jihadists in Aleppo (with knife at their throat) decided to ... make a joint command. Which never happened in East Ghouta AFAIK (although the two main faction did not fight each other for more than a month!).

The estimate of forces needed to maintain control over Aleppo verges on hilarious, but at least it does not contradict widely available info on infighting among the rebels.

Still, Lister has some sanity left. Somehow the moniker of "Syrian DEMOCRATIC opposition" evaporated.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 2 2016 20:13 utc | 5

@5 Sanity? Or is he positioning himself for the complete collapse of the moderate opposition. Lister won't go quietly. Soon he will be lauding leftover 'freedom fighters' as they pop up here and there in Syria with the odd bombing, kidnapping and beheading of government 'collaborators'.

Posted by: dh | Dec 2 2016 20:20 utc | 6


Hearsay (by Angry Arab et al) is that the MEI received a special, big Saudi donation to hire Lister. Before MEI he was at Brookings-Doha which had received a $14m donation from Qatar to hire Salman Sheik and Lister for three years. ...

Posted by: b | Dec 2 2016 20:21 utc | 7

Very clever, Moon. :)

I don't doubt that there are backroom talks. The Russians and the Syrians try to work out deals with rebels all over the country, arranging for fighters to lay down arms or travel to Idlib. Why not? It makes the last part of the battle easier for everybody. It probably creates all kinds of havoc between the rebels too, between the ones who want to make a deal and the ones who want to fight to the death.

I do wonder if the Russians would agree allow all fighters to exit to Idlib this time though. They might agree to the so called moderate rebels but not to the al Qaeda affiliated jihadis. I also wonder if the US really has been cut out of the talks, if they really happened.

Lister the chickenhawk "expert", what a joke.

Posted by: Joanne Leon | Dec 2 2016 20:33 utc | 8

Joanne/#8 - I think the Russians/Syrians/Iranians might consider letting any and all jihadists leave from Aleppo as they're much easier to hunt down outside of Aleppo in the future (assuming they don't go back to their native country as their prospects in Syria are very dim) than inside the dense urban environment.

Posted by: WorldBLee | Dec 2 2016 20:37 utc | 9

Big, organised money, has many such people in their employ. They get paid to convince the peons that, water, in fact, isn't wet.. Mr. Lister is just one of many.

Thanks b, another curtain pulled back...

Posted by: ben | Dec 2 2016 20:38 utc | 10

Washington experts are delusional, aren't they? Depends upon the idea that there is a noble popular resistance. When even the BBC today, interviewing people who've left east Aleppo, recorded them as saying it was a hell-hole, and they were shot at trying to leave, and were happy to be in West Aleppo. That won't be repeated in future broadcasts.

Posted by: Laguerre | Dec 2 2016 21:14 utc | 11

The assumptions that Charles Lister makes, that make possible his pronouncement that the SAA will need to move troops from around the country to keep Aleppo, are themselves preposterous: that Bashar al Assad has little support from the Syrian public, that the SAA is incompetent and relies heavily on help from Hezbollah, Iran and Russia, and that the jihadis enjoy support from the Syrian public and represent a true grassroots revolution.

This just goes to show how far dangerously removed from reality our governments and the diplomats, consultants, experts and think-tanks they rely on for advice all are. The real shock is that they seriously believe in what they say. They are not cynically believing in one thing and saying and advocating another; they really are extremely deluded.

Posted by: Jen | Dec 2 2016 21:17 utc | 12

Today's Charles R. Lester (MEI) is very different from yesterday's Charles R. Lester working for IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre in 2013 ...

Defense Analyst Report: Al-Qaeda-Type, Jihadists Make Up Half of Syrian Rebels

Posted by: Oui | Dec 2 2016 23:35 utc | 13

Joanne Leon @8

The Syrian government offer of amnesty only applies to Syrians. That involves fighting with the government forces on the front line. Any hesitancy from their part at the front will probably result in a prompt reaction. All the foreigners go to Idlib or die in place as they wish.

Idlib Plain will make a nice training exercise for the Ka-52s and their long range ATGMs.

Posted by: Yonatan | Dec 2 2016 23:51 utc | 14

I suppose it makes a vast difference whether the aggressor is outside the city, or has
already entered? I mean there are antipersonnel weapons which don't necessitate the presence
of many defending soldiers, no? Of course the more destructive a weapon, the less suited
to defense once the aggressor has entered the city.

I would suppose that if we are close to an end game that at some point the oligarchs will wish to
seriously weaken the US military lest they should oppose the regional administration ("multipolar")
NWO. Don't know whether that figures into the mix already or not. Just saying that US hegemony
is not the same thing as the real goal, global governance w progressively less sovereign nations,
including especially countries w a strong military.

Posted by: Penelope | Dec 3 2016 1:25 utc | 15

East Aleppo has already fallen-- to the Syrian Army. MSM not covering it. from 7:00-9:00 minutes.

UN called on Israel to return control of Golan Hts to Syria. Answer: Last night they bombed outside Damascus-- ostensibly target was Hezbolla travelling from Lebanon to Syria. has many stories & best coverage I've seen on Aleppo.

The Syrian gov pardoned 484 armed rebels who surrendered & submitted their weapons. Foreign terrorists are excluded.

Posted by: Penelope | Dec 3 2016 2:32 utc | 16

Washington experts are delusional...

In a way, everybody has some delusions because we cannot afford in-depth analysis of available facts and pseudo-facts. And when we sift facts from pseudo-facts, we must have plausibility criteria which may fail and so on. Therefore branding folks delusional is typically safe, but un-interesting. However, clear errors are quite valuable, because they reveal mental patterns.

For example, misspellings on Attic pottery etc. gives good clues about the pronunciation in antiquity. For that matters my own misspellings can be used similarly. In our case, Lister is interesting because he is a representative of "common sense" of Anglo-Saxon establishment (later referred to as ASE) if you are weary of it, you should invest in learning some language different than English, Spanish is a good bet because of ideological variety of Spanish-speaking countries. E.g. Billy the Kid moved to Bolivia). So we can consider few questions.

What prompts the search for "differences between Russia, Syria and Iran"?

Conjecture: ASE stratifies the world as a continuum from good to evil, where good is "Anglo-Saxon liberalism/democratic values" and bad is the opposition to it, and the "Pole of Evility" is slowly migrating. Thus Russia is not at the pole, nor is Communism, instead we have self-styled "anti-Zionist resistance". Therefore Russians, however deluded by the Slavic psychology, however influenced by despotic traditions, are expected to be a bit more reasonable than Syria and Iran. And there is some kernel of truth here if "reasonable" means the actions that ASE dislikes.

Is there any truth to the starting observation, namely, that Russia advocates some accommodation with the opposition fighters in Aleppo?

Yes. But in the provided quotes, the accommodation is simply the "reconciliation process" avidly used by Assad, letting the fighters evacuate to Idlib province, to save their lives, as well as precious ammunition, buildings and last but not least, the lives of the civilians. Russians make a big deal of being a "trusted intermediary" whenever possible, but it seems to me that Assad has actually decent record: I do not recall any instances of enticing rebels to disarm by giving some promises, only to slaughter them or imprison (unlike the rebels). But the truth is that rebels and the government hate each other with passion, so it can be useful to have some kind of intermediary, lest the negotiation dissolve into name calling, fisticuffs etc.

Does it add up to "different visions"?

Hard to tell. Indeed, there were numerous signals that Russia tries to set goals that can be attained sooner, which basically means some kind of federated governance structure in Syria, as opposed to centralism that existed before 2011. But to see more details, one has to inspect Russian experience: Russia is a federation, after all, and quite notably, Chechnya seems to operate with very high degree of autonomy. There was a deal between Putin and Kadyrov (the father of the current Kadyrov) which may have lamentable details, but definitely solved Russian problems with Chechnya (barring some lamentable details). However, Kadyrovtsy emerged as a splinter group of Islamist rebels, and part of the deal was that Russia and Kadyrovtsy cooperate to eliminate the rest of the rebels, disliked by Russia as secessionists and by Kadyrov as personal competitors, theological heretics and so on.

Russia has also experience with "independent Chechnya" between 1st Chechen War and 2nd Chechen War, it is was an unhappy experience. Tolerating quasi-independent or independent "jihadist republics" can lead only to grief, and thus it can be only a short term solution, if at all.

Both Iran and pre-2011 Syria are strictly centralized, so there is some difference in perspective. But it is a much more narrow difference that ASE hopes to see (hoping for strife among the enemies).

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 3 2016 3:00 utc | 17

Ancient and Modern History is liberally sprinkled with conflicts involving besieged cities. So it's bizarre that Lister was unable to recall a relevant historical parallel to Aleppo and chose instead to highlight a siege which Nazis didn't win.

Projection, or just another bout of wishful ASE thinking?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 3 2016 3:51 utc | 18

WTF? Stalingrad never "fell" to Nazi control; it was bitterly and deliberately contested until the Nazis, under Paulus , were forced to surrender their siege.

The American journalist Edgar Snow was there to witness Paulus' surrender in January [?] 1943, just after Hitler promoted him to Field Marshal. Snow IIRC was the only American on the scene.

By early 1943 it was clear to the US and UK that the Hitler's Germany had lost the war and USSR's offensive toward Berlin was definitive.

Note that in December 1942, in the thick of the Stalingrad battle, The US army had only begun its first WW2 confrontation with the Nazi Wehrmacht...which was the uncontested US landings in North Africa. The outcome was certain long before DDay in 1945.

Modern "fake news" is only a rebranding of the earlier propaganda, deception and fake [aka revisionist] history practiced on American population. American youth have been miseducated since at least WW1.

Posted by: chu teh | Dec 3 2016 3:55 utc | 19

This level of "analysis" - rather typical of all NATO countries - leaves no doubt that the West is doomed.

Posted by: telescope | Dec 3 2016 5:20 utc | 20

Piotr,thank you for a thoughtful comment @17. Interesting.

Yonotan @ 14, this is the first I have heard that citizen-rebels who lay down arms
are required to fight against their previous side. Are you sure? Do you have a link?

Posted by: Penelope | Dec 3 2016 6:09 utc | 21
Exactly one month ago at his briefing in the Department of State Press Briefing Room John Kirby announced that:
The situations in Mosul and Aleppo is radically different, it is absolutely not the same, and to compare the two is frankly insulting. In Aleppo, as I think we’ve just talked in the last few minutes, you have the specific targeting of innocent civilians, first responders, and infrastructure – hospitals – that are specifically being targeted and destroyed, whereas in Mosul the air power that’s being used by the coalition is very precise, very discriminate. Great care is taken to avoid civilian casualties, and certainly there is going to be no concerted effort, as there is in Aleppo, to destroy civilian infrastructure. In fact, quite the opposite; we’re going to try to preserve as much as we can after so much has been laid waste by Daesh over the last two years.
And a curious statement it was. However, as the time went on, the Obama administration has demonstrated once again that it uses empty rhetorics and lies to promote its so-called achievements in Iraq, while trying to undermine the effort taken by the legitimate Syrian government, supported by Russia and Iran, to liberate one of Syria’s largest cities from radical militants.
So, has the situation changed in any way? On one hand, a considerable part of the territory of East Aleppo, a home to some 90 thousand people, has been liberated by the Syrian forces. As the last militants groups were pushed out of the area, the Castello road was opened for the delivery of humanitarian aid. On the early morning of November 30, Russia has dispatched mobile hospitals to provide medical assistance to those residents affected by the clashes in the city and surrounding areas. The residents that were starving for weeks while being hostages of radical Islamists finally received humanitarian aid from Russia. More than 500 militants laid down their arms, while it’s been announced that, in accordance with the previously announced decision of Bashar al-Assad, 484 militants that were raised in the local communities would be immediately amnestied.

However, nothing like this happens in Mosul. The coalition led by the United States suffers heavy casualties in a bid to capture Mosul rapidly. According to radical Islamist reports, a total of 2671 soldiers of the coalition forces have perished. At the same militants ISIS allegedly seized 40 infantry fighting vehicles, armored cars and SUVs and destroyed 52 units of equipment, including APCs, armored cars, tanks, drones, bulldozers and minesweepers.

Posted by: okie farmer | Dec 3 2016 6:59 utc | 22

Off topic...but this discrepancy in votes totals is the beginning of the end of Donalds presumptive presidency...and I have liked the Trumpster for decades...but this discrepancy...fuck the turning point...the first shadow...on the dark path stretching ahead...deadlock looms in the electoral college...

Posted by: pubumwei | Dec 3 2016 7:07 utc | 23

thanks b..

ditto many comments here. thanks. i agree strongly with @20 telescope.. the west is doomed with rejects like lister serving up luke warm propaganda like this..

Posted by: james | Dec 3 2016 7:12 utc | 24

Auflister... Charles Lister... is it humor ?

Posted by: alain | Dec 3 2016 7:18 utc | 25

chu teh | Dec 2, 2016 10:55:46 PM | 19

Good catch. My goodness, what a trashing of history of WWII Stalingrad. Stalingrad was the grave yard of Hitler's army.

Posted by: V. Arnold | Dec 3 2016 8:59 utc | 26

@chu teh: Hitler had lost the war the minute he was elected and the Judea (international Jewery) declared war on Germany in 1933. England was clearly under Rothshild control already when they started the Boer war to get control of the diamond and gold markets. The US was clearly under their control when Wilson gave the moneylenders the income tax and the fed. Russia was cleary under their control when Lenin and Stalin murdered 60 million Russian christians.

So what happened to Germany was in the cards anyway in 1933. At least Hitler gave them a short moment in history of freedom from control of the moneylenders and the synongoge of satan.

You really should stop studying "fake" jew history.

Posted by: Kenny | Dec 3 2016 9:47 utc | 27

Kenny | Dec 3, 2016 4:47:39 AM | 27


Posted by: V. Arnold | Dec 3 2016 10:43 utc | 28

The difference being that Russia did not need forces to occupy a city on its own territory.

But basically, journalists can write whatever the hell they want about Syria and it will be taken at face value and repeated.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Dec 3 2016 14:25 utc | 29

ralphieboy | Dec 3, 2016 9:25:50 AM | 29

You miss the point entirely; the Soviet Union never lost Stalingrad to the Nazis' you boob.
The Germans never conquered Stalingrad!
What the hell was your point???

Posted by: V. Arnold | Dec 3 2016 15:07 utc | 30

Like a torpedo going full circle and hitting the submarine that shot it, our Dear Leader ends up believing his own propaganda.

Posted by: passerby | Dec 3 2016 15:41 utc | 31

Okay, where is The link to Karl Auflister original statement?

Posted by: Zico the musketeer | Dec 3 2016 16:01 utc | 32

b had a problem of finding a historical situation that (1) matches and (2) is widely known. That is a bit hopeless, given the scarcity of widely known historical situations. Perhaps a better match would be Soviets surrounding German + still loyal Romanian forces in Romania, and an "expert opinion" that Soviets would be better off leaving a fascist government in place rather than taking chances with Romanian royalty and forces loyal to them who switched sides in the last moment as a more effective instrument of control.

Bet on Romanians who fanatically hate you, or on those who pretend that they will cooperate? Decisions, decisions.


Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 3 2016 16:01 utc | 33

@Arnold #30

The Germans held a big chunk of Stalingrad, just not the whole pie. The point was that once they surrendered, the Soviets did not need to use any forces to hold a city already on their territory. This is an entirely different situation than the one described in Aleppo.

You remind me of why I do not post here very much. Too many ad hominem assholes.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Dec 3 2016 16:09 utc | 34

By the way, the news from Aleppo are confusing, but there is some logic to them. SAA and allies entered a number of districts only to leave them, but the offensive near Aleppo airport (on the eastern side of the enclave) seems to have holding effects. The logic is that forces of "moderate quality" were send from the south and west, and they could not resist fully rebel counterattacks. But the simultaneous attacks decreased the resistance against the elite forces attacking from the airport direction (east, north east of the enclave). The simultaneous attacks are ongoing and the remaining pocket lost quite a bit of territory.

My theory is that the western and south-western boundary of the pocket is the old front line, riddled with tunnels and traps, and the north boundary is a new front line that until now was in the center of rebel-held Aleppo, hence less prepared. Because of precarious logistics of government held Aleppo, it is hard to conduct offensive for a long time, but the surrounded rebels have no logistic support at all, so even successful counterattacks are irreversibly depleting them. This should be a week of further big changes.

Department of State Press Briefing Room show how hard it is for a dog to effectively bark at a caravan. Still, any well trained spokes-creature knows that the only justified comparisons between "us" and "them" are those that appreciate how much better "we" are, anything else is unjustified, insulting etc. The only choices of the spokes-creature are if this should be delivered matter-of-factly, or dramatically, or with special effects.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 3 2016 16:19 utc | 35

There's good reasons to be suspicious of all narratives emerging from Aleppo and Mosul. What does seem to be known is this:

The Iraqi army, backed by US-led airstrikes, is trying to capture east Mosul at the same time as the Syrian army and its Shia paramilitary allies are fighting their way into east Aleppo. An estimated 300 civilians have been killed in Aleppo by government artillery and bombing in the last fortnight, and in Mosul there are reportedly some 600 civilian dead over a month . . .

One factor making the sieges of east Aleppo and east Mosul so similar, and different, from past sieges in the Middle East, such as the Israeli siege of Beirut in 1982 or of Gaza in 2014, is that there are no independent foreign journalists present. They are not there for the very good reason that Isis imprisons and beheads foreigners while Jabhat al-Nusra, until recently the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, is only a shade less bloodthirsty and generally holds them for ransom. . .

A word here in defence of the humble reporter in the field: usually, it is not he or she, but the home office or media herd instinct, that decides the story of the day. Those closest to the action may be dubious about some juicy tale which is heading the news, but there is not much they can do about it.

The takeaway lesson is the incredibly unreliable nature of media outlets in the modern world, their co-option by corporate and government interests as tools for propaganda distribution.

Posted by: nonsensefactory | Dec 3 2016 18:26 utc | 36

@36 " Those closest to the action may be dubious about some juicy tale which is heading the news, but there is not much they can do about it."

Hmmmm....they have the option of coming on MOA and explaining how their story got twisted and spun by the home office. After which they can look for another job.

Posted by: dh | Dec 3 2016 18:43 utc | 37

@okie farmer #22:

Thank you for that link. With Mosul, I think we are seeing one reason for why the deep state decided to let the American people choose the president, instead of allowing Hillary to steal the election. Obama's administration has been militarily incompetent, and that is bad for American prestige. Assad and Putin are winning in Aleppo, while Obama is stalled in Mosul.

@nonsensefactory #36:

One factor making the sieges of east Aleppo and east Mosul so similar, and different

I know nothing about warfare, but I have been watching WW II movies recently (the reason being I guess that Trump won, so I can relate to America again). From my naive point of view, the reason that the liberation of Aleppo is succeeding but the liberation of Mosul has stalled is that the jihadis have more at stake in Mosul. Mosul has been the seat of the Islamic State. Whereas Aleppo needed to be under control of jihadis for the purpose of destabilizing Syria, a US, not an Islamic project.

So I think that what this comes down to is that jihadis are willing to sacrifice their lives to defend Mosul, but not Aleppo.

The Russian way of war is to know your enemy. But Anglos just think of all their enemies who are not European as dumb gooks, whom it is not worth taking the trouble to understand.

Posted by: Adalbrand | Dec 3 2016 19:48 utc | 38

I suppose if Charles Lister had been in Constantinople in the mid-1400s, he would have said there's no way the Ottomans would have been able to take down a walled city protected on three sides by water and a navy blocking the Ottomans' attempt to reach the Golden Horn where the Byzantine seat of government was.

So what did the Ottomans do? They transported their ships overland outside the walled city (while still bombarding it with cannon) and entered the Golden Horn that way.

After that, the Ottomans did not need a large force to take and hold the city - the defenders' morale deserted them.

Posted by: Jen | Dec 3 2016 20:37 utc | 39

With Amnesty of Syrians, ....the Central Government gets some idea the number of Muslim Brotherhood
Followers left in the country,...and how rabid they are.
Egypt has similar problem since Faux Arab Spring and Throw Muslim Brotherhood leader in a cage.

The MB is a curse which Colonial powers have used since before WW 2.
The mid east needs to be rid of this death cult.
This is the Real war on Terror....Egypt,Syria,Iraq are fighting.
Iran and Russia throw in...

Turkey, Platform shoe midget of Jordan,...Despot Gulf states and brooding Empire now square off,

On the War on Terror.

Posted by: Brad | Dec 4 2016 1:25 utc | 40

- Nope. It were the german troops that were stretched thin in Stalingrad.

Posted by: Willy2 | Dec 4 2016 19:59 utc | 41

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