Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 04, 2018

Weekly Review And Open Thread 2018-09

Feb 26 - State Department Troll Farm Receives Huge Cash Infusion

The above is one 'success' of the neo-conservatives and Clinton apparatchiks who created the idiotic Hamilton 68 project which U.S. media extensively used to make up bullshit stories about Russian bots. But it has become too obvious that the whole thing is based on fakery. The alleged Russian bots are just normal people who do not agree with some U.S. policies and tweet and use hashtags to express themselves. The proprietors and salesmen of that outlet finally admit as much:

“I’m not convinced on this bot thing,” said Watts, the cofounder of a project that is widely cited as the main, if not only, source of information on Russian bots. He also called the narrative “overdone.”

Will any of the media now retract their fake-news stories about "Russian bots"?

Feb 28 - It's 2002 Again - New York Times Makes Bogus WMD Claims

The NY Times is implicating the new "axis of evil" - North Korea, Syria, Iran, Russia - in nonsensical WMD claims for which there is no evidence at all.

Mar 1 - Russia Shows Off New Weapons - Tells U.S. To "Come Down To Earth"

The new weapons Russia presented are designed to overcome any strategic missile defense. The reflexive reaction of the U.S. military- industrial complex to this is of course a push for an expansion of missile defense.

Mar 2 - Afghanistan - A Pipeline, Peace And Many Spoilers

There is no response yet from the Taliban to the Afghan government's offer of unconditional talks. Simply saying "no" is unlikely to take this long.

Mar 3 - Syria Sitrep - Afrin, Idlib and East-Ghouta

Here are two additional pieces on the war on Syria which I highly recommend.

The first delves into the early days of the war and documents well how the uprising was Islamist and foreign directed from its very first day:
Did Assad Deliberately Release Islamist Prisoners to Militarize and Radicalize the Syrian Uprising?.

The second is published in Military Review, the professional journal of the U.S. Army. It is a extensive assessment of the Russian political and military execution of its Syria intervention. The authors appear to feel a certain envy:
What Kind of Victory for Russia in Syria?

In sum, Russia appears to have won at least a partial victory in Syria, and done so with impressive efficiency, flexibility, and coordination between military and political action. ... Russia’s “lean” strategy, adaptable tactics, and coordination of military and diplomatic initiatives offer important lessons for the conduct of any military intervention in as complex and volatile an environment as the Middle East. 

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b on March 4, 2018 at 16:00 UTC | Permalink

next page »

Started reading that article from Military Review and while the authors are forced to state the obvious because of events on the ground, they also stick very close to the political views of the Washington foreign policy establishment (SST's Borg rather than the "Deep State") and its garbage narrative.
For example:

...the bloody-handed Assad regime...

No, it's Obama and Clinton who have the really bloody hands by interfering and allowing others such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, etc. to interfere in the internal affairs of another country. Certain commentators in the western msm have taken to comparing the alleged Russian hacking of 2016 election as equivalent to Pearl Harbor which is absolute BS, but what the United States and others have to done Syria is equivalent to if not worse than Pear Harbor.
I gave up reading the article after a few pages worth because it's just not worth my time to read so much crap.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Mar 4 2018 16:35 utc | 1

Not bad analysis of three simultaneous wars occurring in Syria today

Syria’s shifting sands: RT's Peter Lavelle interviews Alastair Crooke

Posted by: ninel | Mar 4 2018 17:15 utc | 2

There is nothing further to say. Netanyahu is meeting with Trump and his interlocuter, Jared, Envoy Prince to Israel, even as we speak. Let the USAryan fatwahs flow!

Posted by: Chipnik | Mar 4 2018 18:46 utc | 3

Afrin, and the games being played there, are a tough one to figure. I suspect that is partly because it’s like a four-sided triangle, with each potential alliance carrying diametrically opposing pros and cons. Why would Russia tacitly green-light Turkish intervention?

Some thoughts: (1) The Kurds have been coddled and supported by the US and Israel for many years as a long-term Israel 2.0 project. They would of course be used, marginalized, and ultimately cast out once the Zionists had their new and improved homeland, but the Kurdish dream of “Kurdistan” blinds them.

(2) Every power in the ME (except Israel) is against the Kurds becoming too powerful, for precisely this reason, and the number one reason Russia agreed to loose the Turks on Afrin was because it was the showcase of Syrian Kurdish pomposity and refusal to submit to Syrian sovereignty, while simultaneously demonstrating what the Russians had been telling the Kurds in back channels for ages—the US is just using you and will not help when you call.

(3) Russia or the SAA could not really directly attack the Kurds, both because they are the sympathetic darlings of western press, and it would drive them further into the arms of the US. Let the Turks be the bad guys, especially since that has the added bonus of increasing the split between the US and Turkey.

(4) The attack would serve to draw Kurds away from other areas in NE Syria they had expanded into as the military spearhead of the US. It will be much easier for Assad to turn or defeat the remaining Arab tribes, even though temporarily the US is doing everything it can to stave off this inevitable result. But at least you won’t have the SAA directly fighting Kurds, which the US could use much more effectively to attempt to garner support for its actions.

(5) While the Russians had some historic pull with the Kurds, the US had effectively enticed them away with goodies and promises. For Russia to get the Kurds to back down in Afrin (and other areas) would be very difficult—just not much direct leverage short of openly hitting them. But once the operation has achieved the (Russian) goals of suitably weakening and humbling the Kurds, Russia does have significant leverage against the Turks. Russia already demonstrated once how much economic pain they could inflict on Turkey after the first plane shootdown, but also wisely not only reversed the sanctions but rewarded the apologies with even bigger rewards (meaning the pain of return to sanctions would be even more painful and embarrassing to Ergodan—effectively probably guaranteeing the end of his rule). So while not ideal to have Turkey inside Syria, Russia probably feels they can ultimately force a withdrawal, especially if Turkey’s somewhat justified fear of a Kurdish stronghold is neutralized.

(6) Lastly, Russia could have a long term concept for how the Kurds—suitably humbled and servient but still relatively strong and cohesive—could be useful to Damascus. Russia had her own troublesome nomadic warriors roaming its south. It never could really completely subdue the Cossacks, until Catherine the Great (or perhaps it was Peter) had the bright idea to put them on the payroll, arm them and give them some autonomy, on the condition THEY be the shield against the constant attempts of encroachment by, you guessed it, the Turks. It worked brilliantly.

I would not bet much money on any of this, but those were some thoughts I thought I’d share on a dreary Sunday.

Posted by: J Swift | Mar 4 2018 20:23 utc | 4

@ #1 Ghostship--

"while the authors are forced to state the obvious because of events on the ground, they also stick very close to the political views of the Washington foreign policy establishment" . . . yes, and while this makes it irritating to read, we must recognize that the authors are perforce required to write for their audience--who is not us!

So rather than complain about the inaccuracies and distortions, let us note: US tactical planning occurs in an environment of ideologically induced blindness. Key facts, because of ideology, remain permanently invisible to the US military.

@ #4 J Swift--

A good summary of how things currently appear, and interesting thoughts about the developing possibilities!


Posted by: Gaianne | Mar 4 2018 20:44 utc | 5

J Swift@4

You're presuming that Russia really did greenlight the Turkish attack on Afrin. I would be surprised. You suggest that the Syrians want to attack the Kurds. Nothing could be further from the truth. Syria prefers to entice the Kurds into preferring a future association, when the US has left. That's probably the main misdirection of your analysis - the Russians go firstly with Syrian interests, so were unlikely to encourage the Turks.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 4 2018 21:12 utc | 6

In the article in the Military Review linked to above there is a photograph (AFP) sub-titled "A Syrian man carries his two girls to safety 7 September 2015 across the rubble caused by a barrel bomb attack on the rebel-held neighborhood of al-Kalasa in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo."

Has the man holding the two children appeared in other photographs? The face seems familiar.

Posted by: English Outsider | Mar 4 2018 22:02 utc | 7

Putin’s revelations show that the Russians feel the situation is becoming increasingly dangerous. There is just no way to talk sense into the Americans, just as it would have been futile to advise Britain against stopping their 20-year planning for a war with Germany in the years leading up to WWI, even if proceeding meant impoverishing their aristocracy and their country and sacrificing their young men. 31 per cent of Oxford’s 1913 graduates were killed on French fields. I used to think self-preservation was stronger than greed but now I am not so sure.

Posted by: Lochearn | Mar 4 2018 22:21 utc | 8

J Swift@4 - interesting observations, but I think you are assigning a single-minded nationalist sentiment to all Kurds when, in fact, it was mostly a construct of the US-usurped PYD political party and a result of US arms supply extortion. Yes to the US/Israeli schemes, but I have difficulty with believing "...the Kurdish dream of “Kurdistan” blinds them."

Nobody ever polled the Syrian Kurds about this. Indeed, the MSM has always tossed out this assertion without ANY backing and conflated Barzani's vision for 'his' Iraq with Syrian Kurds' initial desire for nothing more than survival. They were simply offered no other choice than a PYD-indoctrinated and controlled YPG/YPJ if they wanted to get a rifle and kill the ISIS invaders. The US has carefully molded PYD ideology (via arms supply/bribes) to serve US interests, and THOSE interests are served by an independent Syrian Kurdistan - with their PYD lapdogs in charge, of course.

The motivations of the YPG/YPJ are blurred today. A significant amount of their 'training' now consists of PYD indoctrination. The main purpose of the YPG/YPJ today in Syria seems to be the preservation of the PYD's power and control, not 'fighting ISIS'. I seriously doubt that statements from the current YPG/YPJ leadership represent 'the will of the average Syrian Kurd'. Militia leaders mostly just parrot the PYD party line - I would expect nothing less than that.

I believe it is the PYD that mostly demands and independent Kurdistan/SDFistan in Syria to further consolidate their power and control, not the average Kurd. Nobody asks the average Kurd what it's like to live under the PYD's oppressive control today. In fact, about the only bit of information that makes it out of there is that every committee at all layers seems to tax everything there while providing nothing of value besides a forum to complain about how nothing is getting done. That, and Arabs in majority Kurdish areas have found that some people are more equal than others under the PYD.

Now imagine that the PYD is probably as corrupt as EVERY other US-supported (= bribed, CIA-moled) political party in CENTCOMistan proper. Sorry, but no amount of useless committees are going to vote corruption out of any future Syrian Kurd leadership. Why would anyone think otherwise?

Kind of a toss-up, isn't it? A broken, corrupt, useless Baathist government in Damascus, or a broken, corrupt, useless Kurdish government in Qamlishi. I fail to see the desire of the little people Kurds to die for the latter - they're not getting a damn thing either way. And for whatever Kurdish nationalism they have, they were probably hoping for an independent, healthy Kurdistan, not a welfare-queen Kurdistan forever wrapped in the tentacles of US/Israeli interests and beholden to them for survival.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Mar 4 2018 22:26 utc | 9

"Russia appears to have won at least a partial victory in Syria" because it actually took to the field and systematically attacked ISIS. This cannot be said of the U.S. "effort." Read this quote from a BBC story about how the U.S. cooperated with ISIS to allow it to escape destruction in Raqqah:

"Along the route, many people we spoke to said they heard coalition aircraft, sometimes drones, following the convoy.

From the cab of his truck, Abu Fawzi watched as a coalition warplane flew overhead, dropping illumination flares, which lit up the convoy and the road ahead.

When the last of the convoy were about to cross, a US jet flew very low and deployed flares to light up the area. IS fighters [were very scared]."

Thomas Friedman in the New York Times, describes the U.S. "pretend" war against ISIS:

“America’s goal in Syria is to create enough pressure on Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah so they will negotiate a power-sharing accord… that would also ease Assad out of power.”

Therefore, since the Islamic States’ “goal is to defeat Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria — plus its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies… we could simply back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria and make it entirely a problem for Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and Assad.”

Posted by: Col. B. Bunny | Mar 4 2018 22:32 utc | 10

I have been wondering today about the future of syria...

It would appear that assads government will eventually hold enough territory to be sovereign again...

Will elections be held at that time? Are there any viable candidates to run against assad? will the elections be allowed to be fair and "unmolested"?

Will any new government be tolerated by anyone?

I am not knowledgable on internal syrian politics and any help would be welcome..



Posted by: oldenyoung | Mar 4 2018 23:20 utc | 11

The military Review article is hard going with the obligatory propaganda lines that contradict themselves, But one thing the author did pick up on is that Russia runs a number of strategies concurrently to get to a given goal.
Saker who's area of professional expertise was analyzing Soviet military, has often pointed this out. This is contrasted to US military thinking that has one strategy to get to a given goal and all resources are put into that strategy or line of advance. Very noticeable among the US military indoctrinated types at SST.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 4 2018 23:21 utc | 12

oldenyoung 11

It is only western culture that puts a limit on presidential terms and calls anything else a dictatorship.
Assad never left his country, apart from a couple of very short trips for meetings with Russian executive leadership, and has has held his country together in the toughest times. He seems popular, and the majority of Syrians may well wish to keep him as the leader of their country into the future.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 4 2018 23:28 utc | 13

@ paveway "A broken, corrupt, useless Baathist government in Damascus."

You could say the opposite. Syrian Government re-made. Re-focused with one of the world's best armies. Reoriented with regard to neoliberalism. How has a useless government resisted the combined strength of the Empire, Israel, Saudi and Gulf, UK and France to name just a few?

Posted by: Lochearn | Mar 4 2018 23:45 utc | 14

@ paveway

I thought the YPG/YPJ follow PKK ideology not PYD ie. Murray Bookchin.

Posted by: Lochearn | Mar 5 2018 0:05 utc | 15

>>>> English Outsider | Mar 4, 2018 5:02:19 PM | 7

Has the man holding the two children appeared in other photographs? The face seems familiar.

He looks similar to Mr Alhamdo, a.k.a Abdulkafi, but I don't think they're the same person.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Mar 5 2018 0:11 utc | 16

February 28, 2018
Western Media Distorts Escalating Syrian War

From TRNN:

Good link @ 2..Thanks

Posted by: ben | Mar 5 2018 0:21 utc | 17

J Swift, PavewayIV

You are forgetting that what triggered Erdogan was Mattis’ assertion that US was training a 30,000 strong ‘border force’.

J Swift should add option #8: Erdogan insisted on attacking Afrin. If Russia denyied Erdogan’s wishes she risked a possible break withTurkey. Erdogan might have also pointed to the drone attack on a Russian base - conducted from Turkish-controlled terittory, saying that than attack on the Kurds would help avenge this attempted ‘false flag’. I bet that such an argument would’ve appealed to the Russians.

Was it coincidence that the reaction to Mattis’ remarks would result in an attack on Afrin only weeks before the Sochi talks? Talks that had already been delayed twice before to ensure that they went well. Well, we now have a report that the strategy of the “small group” included sabotaging the Sochi talks.

Even before that report came out I thought that sabotaging Sochi was what the attack on Afrin was all about so I predicted that after Sochi Erdogan would stop his attack on Afrin with some excuse. Later, I realized that the ’Assad must go!’ Coalition needs to move refuges back. And taking Afrin might also be ‘payment’ for Erdogan to act more favorably toward USA. Northeastern Syria needs supply lines, after all. In that context “Olive Branch” makes sense as rapproachment with USA. (in line with the rouse that Gulen-CIA were responsible for the 2016 apparent coup attempt).

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 5 2018 0:40 utc | 18

@ paveway

Fuck off to your true home of the alt-right...

Posted by: Lochearn | Mar 5 2018 0:53 utc | 19

With US-NATO having thrown away the ABM treaty in 2002, expanded NATO to an hours drive of St Petersburg. Putting 400 nuclear capable missiles on Russia’s borders, running a Nazi like defamation campaign against Russia and Russians, implemented the right of first nuclear strike “nuclear primacy” (maybe could’ve called it ‘nuclear exceptionalism’)offense policy (can’t call it Defence), building up forces in Eastern Europe, supplying Ukraine with weapons and training. Etc.

Russia has to be worried. No mistaking it’s Cold War II.
Russians must wonder when is Operation Barbarossa 2 coming?

So Putin unveiled Russia’s new 20 Mach hypersonic ICBMs that can hug alpine valleys and the ocean surface or floor, or can go into orbit, circle the globe and rain down with the “speed of meteors”, as well as dodge anti missile interception.

In Cold War I there was a good half hour red button decision time.
Now in Cold War II it is about the time it takes to have a pee.
The fate of the 🌎 could rest on the health of a presidential prostate.

With about a couple of minutes red button decision time, we would not have survived to be here if that’d been the case for Cold War I.

So what to do. Well a much more rapid awakening of the media brainwashed masses and a new Peace Movement is really the only obvious answer.


What keeps me totally from despair is a bit more left field. The information in this documentary and others like it. Whatever your current opinion on UFOs, it is obvious to blind Freddy there is a coverup. So see what all these ageing military guys needed to get off their consciences. It does offer hope in a M.A.D. world.

Definitely fascinating at very least.

Posted by: apHarri | Mar 5 2018 0:55 utc | 20

An interesting bit of news at Sputnik.
Silence Before the Storm as Top-Level China Conference News Blackout Continues
In what is thought to be the most important parliamentary session in many years, members of Beijing's top political advisory circle gathered Saturday in an almost complete news blackout, as no cell phones have been allowed in the chambers, and no official comment has been made....

The recent Putin Announcement, Trump starting a trade war with China, aloso his recent appointment of a general as ambassador to Australia, who's only qualifications for the job appear to be a blind hatred of China.

be interesting to see what comes of the parliamentary session in Beijing.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 5 2018 0:57 utc | 21

peter @ 13...

I listened to assad declare he would support new elections and even a constitution, once war is declared over and martial law is over..

I know that he inherited the leadership from his family, and that he had studied in Europe and lived abroad before his familial appointment..
i gathered he did not necessarily relish leaving his normal life to go and be the leader of Syria...

I can find very little information on political parties or rivals in syrian politics(such as it is)

again, any good links to study would be welcome///



ps...most of what ive found is of the "we hate assad...we love assad" nature...more tribal than constructive...

Posted by: oldenyoung | Mar 5 2018 1:18 utc | 22

A new propaganda site (courtesy of Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) that I hadn't heard about:

Zakharova Downplays Armed Clash with Americans in Syria, Kremlin-linked Audio Recordings Contradict Her Story

“So, one squadron f**** lost 200 people…right away,” said one of three mercenary soldiers. “Another one lost 10 people… and I don’t know about the third squadron but it got torn up pretty badly, too.”

Apologies if it's already been pointed out.

Posted by: Tobin Paz | Mar 5 2018 1:25 utc | 23

oldenyoung "...most of what ive found is of the "we hate assad...we love assad" nature...more tribal than constructive..."

This may well be Syria. I have found Magnier perhaps the best on the various groups/factions in Syria but that is more long term reading than set pieces that can be linked to. Other journalists from Syria and Lebanon at different times have bits and pieces of information.
Back in 2014 when Australia first got involved in Iraq and Syria, I spent a lot of time looking for information on Syria. All I could find was propaganda pieces or pieces written entirely with a western mindset and no understanding of local culture as much was not explained in those pieces.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 5 2018 2:05 utc | 24

@23 tobin paz.. good to know... it is interesting as it reminds me of the look of russia insiders website - big red lines on top and bottom of the page... i suppose that was intentional..

Posted by: james | Mar 5 2018 2:16 utc | 25

And the Oscar goes to ... Myron C. Fagan on Council on Foreign Relations

In addition to the Rhodes and similar scholarships, today there are three special Illuminati schools located in Gordonstown in Scotland, Salem in Germany, and Annavrighta in Greece. These three are known ones, but there are others that are kept undercover. Prince Philip, the husband of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, was educated at Gordonstown at the instigation of Lord Louis Mountbatten, his uncle, a Rothschild relative, who became Britain's Admiral of the Fleet after World War II ended.

All influential people trapped into coming under the control of the Illuminati, plus the students who had been specially educated and trained, were to be used as agents and placed behind the scenes of all governments as experts and specialists so they would advise the top executives to adopt policies which would in the long run serve the secret plans of the Illuminati one-world conspiracy and bring about the destruction of the governments and religions they were elected or appointed to serve.

Do you know how many such men operate in our government at this very time? Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara, Hubert Humphrey, Fulbright, Keekle, and goes on and on and on.

Perhaps the most vital directive in Weishaupt's plan was to obtain absolute control of the press, at that time the only mass communications media, to distribute information to the public so that all news and information could be slanted so that the masses could be convinced that a one-world government is the only solution to our many and varied problems.

Do you know who owns and controls our mass communications media? I'll tell you. Practically all the movie lots in Hollywood is owned by the Lehmans; Kuhn, Loeb, and Company; Goldman-Sachs; and other internationalist bankers. All the national radio and TV channels in the nation are owned and controlled by those same internationalists bankers.

The same is true of every chain of metropolitan newspapers and magazines, also of the press wire services, such as Associated Press, United Press International, etc.. The supposed heads of all those media are merely the fronts for the internationalist bankers, who in turn compose the hierarchy of the CFR, today's Illuminati in America.

Now can you understand why the Pentagon Press agent, Sylvester, so brazenly proclaimed that the government has the right to lie to the people. What he really meant was that our CFR controlled government had the power to lie to and be believed by the brain-washed American people.

Interesting The Occult Symbolism of the Los Angeles Central Library

The Oscars and The Babylon Gate – Global Truth

Posted by: PeacefulProsperity | Mar 5 2018 2:22 utc | 26

Here is a fairly good scientific breakdown on Russias new nuclear missiles...fairly unbiased compared to most of the western reporting ive read...



Posted by: oldenyoung | Mar 5 2018 2:38 utc | 27

apHarri @ 20: Thanks for the video, kinda' begs the question, what's the friggen holdup on making a real difference in our societies short comings?

Posted by: ben | Mar 5 2018 3:35 utc | 28

Lochearn@14 -

"...You could say the opposite. Syrian Government re-made."

What? When did that happen? Reforms were creaking along at a snail's pace before the Saudi/Israeli/US proxy thug attack. I hope things will change for the better, but the Syrian government has pretty much sheltered in place for the last few years and just survived. I haven't heard anything about any 're-made' government. Assad is popular as ever and will get re-elected, and the Baathists are there to stay. Everyone will be happy (relatively speaking) when the fighting stops and reconstruction begins. Then you'll see the same old corrupt oligarchs milk the reconstruction contracts and foreign aid to the tune of billions.

"...Re-focused with one of the world's best armies..."

OK, everyone recognizes the accomplishments of the SAA, but 'one of the world's best armies'? Jesus... You sound like you're cheering for a high school football team. The entire SAA isn't the Tiger Forces. And they're not going up against a modern military. They're fighting head-choppers armed with AKs and RPGs, and the SAA doesn't have much better equipment themselves. They're doing damn good considering the circumstances, I'll give them that.

"...Reoriented with regard to neoliberalism."

Educate me. I've honestly never heard a word about this reorientation. They should and I certainly hope they do, but it's actually a really bad time. Neoliberalism during post-war reconstruction is an open invitation to corrupt robber barons and the further rape and pillaging of the Syrian people. Look no further than Iraq to see how that turns out. All the money poured into that place by now? Every Iraqi should have a new house and car for driving on their brand-new roads to take their kids to brand-new schools. Instead, there's Iraqis in parts of Baghdad dying every day of dysentery and typhoid because they still don't have clean, running water. And the only one rebuilding their highways that I know of is some mutant spawn of Blackwater because it will be a toll road that they run and 'guard'.

"...How has a useless government resisted the combined strength of the Empire, Israel, Saudi and Gulf, UK and France to name just a few?"

Either they have amazing super-powers we can only begin to understand, or Russia and Iran 'helped'. My money is on number two.

"...Fuck off to your true home of the alt-right..."

[chuckle] I'm assuming that was an imposter Lochearn. Either way, hilarious in a sublime, yet simian sort of way.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Mar 5 2018 4:26 utc | 29

Jackrabbit@18 - I have to admit that I still have no clue, not even a good guess, as to what the Turkish head-chopper invasion is all about. Forcible return of Syrian refugees from Turkish camps to Syria has to be a big factor. I'm guessing Turkey doesn't care to have the head-choppers return either, so it will leave them in Syria along with the refugees. Maybe the Afrin invasion was to bait as many sympathetic PKK as possible to join their Afrin colleagues and trap them there as well. Turkey seems perfectly capable of maintaining their borders when they choose to do so. The head-chopper revolving door into Syria was a matter of convenience at one time, but now Turkey wants everyone out. I don't know if they really need a buffer zone inside the Syrian border, but hey - why not? If the world squawks too much, they can just withdraw Turkish troops and seal the border.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Mar 5 2018 4:46 utc | 30

PavewayIV 29

How best to keep a lid on things in secular states made up of many groups of which Syria is now the only one remaining. These states are highly vulnerable to the good old divide and conquer by other states. Russia is comfortable to work with this. A few tweeks to help Syria fit with Russian strategy and tactics, but otherwise Russia mostly adjusts to fit with local conditions. No trying remake in their own or anybody else's image.
Syria with all its problems and contradictions has held out against the US might when most western nations folded like faggots and gave up their sovereignty to the US without a fight.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 5 2018 4:57 utc | 31

Peter AU 1 @21:

I've read that Xi is going to abolish Term Limits in their Constitution. No idea if true.

Posted by: Ian | Mar 5 2018 5:23 utc | 32

@31 peter... the usa didn't get their no fly zone in syria, which was what allowed them to bomb the shit out of libya.. i am sure things would have turned out differently in libya if russia hadn't allowed that un resolution pass.. in fact, i am sure it is the reason russia has taken such an active role in syria, after seeing what the west did to libya... i think the presence of russia and iran in syria have made a big difference, which wasn't the case in libya, or iraq.. it's a shame the west can't figure out another way to move in the world of today without causing death and destruction everywhere it goes, while labeling those who intrude on their regime change plans as the guilty ones...

Posted by: james | Mar 5 2018 5:23 utc | 33

Patrick Cockburn has had some pretty sensible articles on the growth of ISIS in Iraq and its expansion into Syria over the past 4 years. In general he has shown good judgement in the past. His latest article on Syria presents a pretty pessimistic appraisal. I hope he is wrong. It seems he thinks Syria is going to permanently divided more or less according to the Yinon plan.

Posted by: ToivoS | Mar 5 2018 5:40 utc | 34


That Sputnik article is confusing. They're reporting that the Term Limit has been abolished, but at the end of the article, it's stating that their Constitution is going to be changed. In other words, the Term Limit has yet to be abolished.

Posted by: Ian | Mar 5 2018 5:41 utc | 35

Ian 32
I think China has abolished term limits.
That combined with the article from Sputnik makes me wonder if they are now moving to a war footing.
China have been taking some shit from the US for some time now as month in, month out, every year for the last decade or more they have been bleeding the US to the tune of 30 billion per month. Trump is trying to stop this, and if sdo, China has no reason to continue taking shit from the US and its megaphone minions like us in oz.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 5 2018 5:59 utc | 36

James @33. To take a riff off of your comment. The fact that Medvedev allowed Russia to support the no-fly resolution concerning Libya led directly to the disaster there and made it impossible for him to run for a second term -- he is held responsible for that decision. What has surprised me is that Putin and his backers have even allowed Medvedev to remain as prime minister. Putin should have released him. Politically Russia would be in a better place if a worthy successor to Putin had been placed in the prime ministers office.

Posted by: ToivoS | Mar 5 2018 6:05 utc | 37

We posted comments 35 and 36 at about the same time. Checked the Chinese constitution and it does stipulate two terms.
Perhaps abolishing term limits has already been agreed upon with just the motions to go through to change the constitution?

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 5 2018 6:10 utc | 38

re 35, 36 and 38 if IRC thre are two hurdles in overturning term limits in China. The first which was dealt with first was changing communist party rules to allow someone to remain boss of CP more than of two terms. That happened a while ago at the CP AGM or whatever they call it, now that Xi has CP support, the actual chinese constitution must now be amended to make him emperor for life.
I hafta say I'm sceptical, those rules were put in both institutions by Deng and co to 'prevent another Mao' but from where I sit Mao was worthy of lifelong leadership but I have no such faith in Xi who is just too materialistic & meglomaniacal for my taste.
On t'other hand I don't live in China, it is their call, even tho Xi is doing it at the height of is power. If things change and he is revealed to be just another hack, it is going to be pretty much impossible to flush him down the shitter. That and what sort of a man would want to do more than two terms in a gig like that makes me very concerned for the people of China and by extension the rest of us. China has traditionally been staunch on not building an empire, but that just doesn't seem to have the priority it once did, here in 2018 amongst China's leadership.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Mar 5 2018 6:50 utc | 39

Thanks for the info on changing presidential terms.
To date, China has given no indication of Empire or hegemony ambitions.
War, hot or cold can change the outlook. Victors will be somewhat pissed if they are the state that has been attacked. China and Russia have a strategic partnership. I do not see US winning. Barring it going nuclear, the aftermath will be hard on the piss-ant megaphone minions.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 5 2018 7:13 utc | 40

38 & 39:

Peter, it does sound like it. I guess their current meeting is just a formality. As for the war footing, I've been following China's military modernization and it was posted on a military forum that construction of their 3rd aircraft carrier would be accelerated. Unfortunately, there are no official release that I could find about it.

Deb, I agree. Removing term limits is a bad idea. Didn't Mao suffer from dementia? It would be a bad idea for someone with mental health issues to continue sitting in office. If they're smart, they'd put in a clause to allow removal of someone with such issues. As for forcibly removing Xi from office, it could still be done, but in a coup-like fashion.

Posted by: Ian | Mar 5 2018 7:32 utc | 41

@ Ian, Peter AU1 & Debs about Xi and term limits

I went to my China aggregator web site where I have read such rumblings in the past week and now cannot find a trace.....interesting, because I have search stuff and found it before.

I have been watching the situation and wondering, if for China, it is a way to show continuity of mature leadership during being challenged by the current empire. Just like Putin is being "challenged" by empire during this Russia election.

I sure as hell hope someones at that level have a game plan more than us lesser beings can textualize about.....except the someones for empire which needs to die

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 5 2018 7:33 utc | 42

Posted by: Ian | Mar 5, 2018 2:32:21 AM | 41

Ian I have no clue whether Mao had dementia or not as I always held that the gang of four show trials and the rest were evidence that Mao was correct when he had all the money & power hungry types such as Deng and the parents of most of the current leadership slotted up for a spot of re-education.
Like most revolution the Chinese one was eventually settled by everyone sitting down and talking. The leadership of some regions swapped sides from supporting the nationalists of Chiang Kai Shek to getting behind Mao's communist party, one of the reasons why Mao maintained that his power reached out of Beijing in a radius of 50 kilometers - he was only half joking.
We all saw what happened after he karked it, when all his friends, family and allies were arrested before he was even cold. IMO the mandarin class had been strategising & waiting for such a moment so that together with the greedier and more power hungry regional bosses they could take over the instant Mao died.
Western media tended to stay schtum as Mao's death was to be another way of isolating the USSR. Before that, everyone was too scared of the sway Mao had over ordinary Chinese who had observed first hand how much better all their lives had become under the chairman.
Now China is ruled by those who Mao had always fought against, it has reverted to a system not unlike that of 100 years earlier. True, people no longer starve, everyone can access education and it is much more of a meritocracy, but there is an established ruling elite who put their own needs ahead of the people.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Mar 5 2018 8:21 utc | 43

@ Jackrabbit, PavewayIV

Turkish TVs accused Genie Energy (pointing out the shady guys on it's board) last night. The Turkish analysts base their claims on a network of foreign analysts which apparently think Genie Energy is 'solely' responsible for all the problems in Syria in that they planned the war and have been administering it to this day.

The analysts are drawing attention to the risk of AQ, ISIS, Nusra etc. or whatever people call them, let's say the head-choppers, going in to Turkey because they fear radical islamists are about to declare jihad against Turkey sometime in the near future. Erdogan's defense is this 'Assad is a mass murderer!' to keep the islamic fighters at bay. Actually there is almost a consensus in the country that TR govt. should openly talk to Assad to prevent SR from breaking into pieces (4?). It was Obama admin's idea to support the Islamists, Erdogan agreed to the plan and now he is stuck.

There are so many different groups in Syria especially in Idlib. I think instead of using names we need Pantone codes to identify these entities.

The OpOlive has been a success so far but the Turks suspect there will be a massive resistance in Afrin town center.

Erdogan's govt. maybe planning to use the potentiallly successful Afrin op to their benefit in the upcoming elections but the general public will not be satisfied because the real problem area is the East of Euphrates. Erdogan's guys seem to think that they need US support to stay in power. All sugar beet factories are being sold and the public think this has something to do with the Zarrab case in NY which is really undermining the Erdogan govt. No beet root factories means more Cargill domination in Turkey so people think Erdogan is bribing the Americans to stay in power.

Today the US embassy to Ankara is closed due to security risk according to the USembassy statement. Coincidentally the TR security forces detained 30 ISIS guys today. It's been 6 months and the US ambassador to Turkey has still not been appointed. In 3 days TR-US talks will begin as planned after Tillerson's visit. So everybody is waiting for Erdogan, who was on a tour of Africa, to find out what's govt's plan for the next weeks because right now people don't know to which direction they are heading.

Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Mar 5 2018 8:23 utc | 44

Putin and 130,000 Russians can sing.
A joyous celebration and WADA, IOC can get stuffed.
So much for “banning” Russia.

Posted by: apHarri | Mar 5 2018 9:39 utc | 45


Mao definitely did NOT suffering from dementia.

According to the book "Nachbar China"written by Helmut Schmidt, ex Chancellor of Germany, who visited China in 1975, one year before Mao's death, Mao talked with him about a wide vertiety of topics, ranging from potential nuclear war between USSR and Europe/Nato to the changes of Soviet's leadership, from Europe unification to Japan's reliance on USA, from Clausewitz to Marx, etc.

Herr Schmidt said he was very impressed with Mao's strategic thinking. Some of Mao's basic judgement of the world affair at that time is still valid today:

- Europe is full of contradictory/conflicting-interest countries and is too weak.

- Japan totally depedents on US, but US is streching itself from Japan to Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, India, Australia and NZ, to Middle East, Europe and the whole American continent. In my eyes, this is not going to work. US can only rely on its own strength. Any build-up of its other allies will be second class.

He also mentioned some interesting ancedotes, for example, Mao greeted him by saying "You are Kantian, I am Marxist."

I'd strongly recommend this book "Nachbar China" to anyone who are interested to know the real bit of China and to peep into how its system functions.

Posted by: mali | Mar 5 2018 10:26 utc | 46

Oldenyoung @ 11, Peter AU 1 @ 13:

Syria adopted a new constitution in 2012. Under that constitution, a person may be elected President for 7 years and be elected only once.

Syria held Presidential elections in June 2014. About 70% of registered voters voted in the elections and Bashar al Assad garnered about 98% (?) of votes. Therefore he serves as President until about mid-2021 and must then vacate the position. The elections were observed by foreign observers from several countries including a US delegation. The US delegation later gave a press conference at the UN in which its members stated that they observed no irregularities in the conduct of the elections. Amazingly Youtube hasn't yet taken down the video of that press conference.

Parliamentary elections were held in 2016. The Ba'athist Party, in coalition with some minor parties, won most seats in the Syrian Parliament.

Posted by: Jen | Mar 5 2018 10:37 utc | 47

@Swift , 4 and Laguerre, 6; PavewayIV, 9
>Why would Russia tacitly green-light Turkish intervention?

It was difficult not to 'tacitly green-light' it, with Turkey, at the time their coalition partner, assembling a quite strong group, with tanks and military-grade electronic warfare on the border; while the Kurds not being there partners and seen as aligned with USA (+effectively controlling oil rich region, as part of this). But it was driven by Turkey, outraged by the (Kurdish/US) 'border force' plan, and not driven by another player.

Russia likely tried somewhat to avoid this, with Turksih generals in Moscow and Russian observers in Afrin leaving or not leaving in alteration for about a day prior to invasion. Apparently they were trying to see whether or not Kurds will come under Assad control but that did not happen. While there was some emotional sympathy, (with Kurds relatives of Armenians, and Lavrov half Armenian, say), it was not strong enough of a reason to jump in fending off a real strong force in wait on the border.

Some Russians tried to explore this situation, but later after the invasion. That attempt went very badly at Deir ez-Zor, with heavy Russian PMC casualties, trying to capture an Arab tribe controlled oil processing plant (with security and US air support called possibly by the Kurds or whatever other mix of people in the actual security control of the area).

Posted by: Don Karlos | Mar 5 2018 10:40 utc | 48

Above, meaning in Khsham near Deir ez-Zor.

Posted by: Don Karlos | Mar 5 2018 10:46 utc | 49

Is Russia's nuclear powered cruise missile real or fake?

Of the weapons systems that Putin announced, most of the reaction in the west so far has been denial and skepticism. We are more likely to believe that facebook posts are a Pearl Harbor sized attack on our democracy rather than believe that the Russians can surpass our military technology at any point in time.

However, in the paywall article that B linked to, I did find the skepticism regarding the cruise missile warranted. It does seem like it would be difficult to test an air based nuclear powered missile because of the potential for radiation fallout. I do not believe that Putin bluffs but does anyone have a theory on how such a weapon can be staged through development? It would have to both fly clean and crash relatively clean during the test flight since that would not be a nuclear armed flight.

The actual deployment of the nuclear cruise missile, drone torpedo, and new ICBM will be confirmed as long as the START treaty holds as those weapons have to be counted towards Russia's 1,500 strategic missile quota. So eventually, the Pentagon will have to acknowledge them or believe that the Russians are willing to slice into their quota just to deceive us.

Posted by: Christian Chuba | Mar 5 2018 12:22 utc | 50

Ian, Peter AU1, Debs & psychohistorian

Bacially as any Chinese leader before him, Xi holds the following three position:

1. Secretary-general
2. Chairman of Millitary Commission
3. President

The least important of the three positions is number 3.

The real power lies in Standing Committee of The Political Bureau. It is the 7-member standing committee where each memeber have one equal vote to decide all and everything about China. It is here that every faction makes its pitch and horse-trading.

There is NO term limit for Secretary-general from Chinese Communist Party Constituion/Rules. However, after Deng, it is become kind of "rule of thumb" that Secretary-general position is for only two terms.

According to spokesman of China's National People' Congress, there is also No Term Limit of Chairman of Millitary Commission.

The proposed Two Term Limit of President that you are talking about was introduced to China National Contituation at the late stage of Deng's ruling. It was introduced mainly because Deng wanted to use it to force the "Old Guards" to give up their power. Some of the "Old Guards", like Chen Yun, an real economic expert, were against some of Deng's policies and thought he was revisionist who gave up the socilism to capitalism. To prevent what Deng and allies had done to Mao's apointees (arrested & jailed) to happen, Deng decided to introduce the Age Limit and Term Limit to get rid of his opponents/enemies while he himself controlled the power behind the scene.

The following leaders were mostly designed by Deng:

- Hu Yao Bang, who introduced a serie of disater policies that still inflicts China.

- Zhao Zi Yang, who was very fond of golf just like Trump but 30+ years earlier. He was surrounded by advisors and think tanks that were funded by Soros!

Had it for some of the "Old Guards", China would have had its own Gorbachev in the combination of these two. Tian An Men Student Movement and subsequent crack-down was one of their making.

- Hu Jin Tao, Deng's appointee.

- Wen Jia Bao, another Deng's appointee, who tried to be some kind of mini Gorbachev and was darling on MSM during his time as primer minister, intereveiewed by CNN at twice, no other Chinese leaders till now has got such kind of treatment

Because Deng open-door policy were benefitial to Mutinational companies, that's why Deng has been so popular with and praised by Western governments, Western MSM, Western Think Tanks and experts.

My personal view is that Mao will be given far far far more important historical poisition in China's history books. If you go to rural areas of China, esp. in Tibet, peseants and working people are still have Mao's picture on the walls of their houses.

On the other hand, the Chinese intelligentsia plus media/entertaiment/nouveau riche, who feast on tailor-made US ideaology and bend their knees to try to be integrated into the Western system, have been smearing Mao for the past 30 years.

Without the foundations laid down by Mao in the first 30 years, i.e. nation-wide industalization, mass education around every corner of the country and developmet of nuclear missiles, Deng's reform in 80s would not be albe to take off.

Acutally just after Chinese Civil War in late 1940s, Mao had sent letter to USA saying China would be willing to work with US but got snubbed because of US' fear of red commie.

Posted by: mali | Mar 5 2018 12:37 utc | 51

Correction for @51:

Had it NOT for some of the "Old Guards", China would have had its own Gorbachev in the combination of these two.

Posted by: mali | Mar 5 2018 12:46 utc | 52

This is contrasted to US military thinking that has one strategy to get to a given goal and all resources are put into that strategy or line of advance. Very noticeable among the US military indoctrinated types at SST.
Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 4, 2018 6:21:32 PM | 12

Yes x 10!
That really showed up in the Cowardice (school shooting) thread. There's a mindless culture of "just following orders" in the US Military, coupled with a staggering absence of management accountability - except of course for the Officer's Mandate to blame lackeys and subordinates for management's laziness, stupidity, ignorance and incompetence.
In that thread PL was mortified by, and allergic to, suggestions that when a subordinate fucks up, management must share the blame. One suspects that he put some effort into minimising non-compliant comments. The few which did make it through the filter were treated with derision, if not contempt.
A Self-licking Ice Cream Club?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 5 2018 13:07 utc | 53


Thanks for the clarification. So the removal of the term limit of the President position is really aligning it with the other two positions?

BTW, is "Nachbar China" only available in German?

Posted by: Ian | Mar 5 2018 13:26 utc | 54

@50 Christian Chuba

He is fitting a different engine to already developed missile. Most of engine work can be done in a lab. Once parts are safe, few final tests (with parachute/over test ground/over the ocean). So, right enough time to do it in 2 weeks prior to the elections.

Posted by: Don Karlos | Mar 5 2018 13:57 utc | 55

Christian Chuba @ 50

I expect the test missiles are currently on the ocean floor somewhere. There is also this:

Mysterious enriched uranium particle detected in skies over Alaska [RT]

Scientists have found a “highly unusual” particle enriched with uranium in the skies over Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. The source of the substance, which is typically used in nuclear fuel and bombs, is still unclear.

The mysterious substance “containing a very small amount of enriched uranium” was found at an altitude of 7km (4.3 miles) above Alaska's Aleutian Islands, according to a report issued by the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity.

It is the first time the group of US scientists has detected enriched uranium-235 in their 20-year study. They were making no special attempt to sample radioactive material, when they came across it during a routine flight to check atmospheric conditions in August 2016.

Posted by: integer | Mar 5 2018 14:03 utc | 56

I will post this link again...several research engineers breakdown the new russian nuclear missiles...

two of the researchers are fairly certain that russia would have these capabilities if they publicly declared them. they acknowledge that Russia is well ahead on inter-planetary nuclear spacecraft...The one engineer is fairly certain that Putin has flight tested the nuke engined cruise missile.



Posted by: oldenyoung | Mar 5 2018 15:39 utc | 57

Posted by: Debsisdead | Mar 5, 2018 3:21:29 AM | 43

The China of 100 years ago was a neo-colonized and disunited China, humiliated by and powerless against Western and especially British imperialism, which forced China to import opium, addicting millions. Warlords controlled that trade, and their private armies were more powerful than the central government's. They eventually threw in with Chiang Kai Shek.

Mao was the man who commanded the struggle that won the wars and ended the humiliation, and created economic strength as you've described, but it was very limited and unimpressive relative to the big Western powers, and people lived, let's say, very austerely.

Deng all the way to Xi represent the emergence of an economic collosus that the Chinese are extremely proud of. They're not proud of the nouveau riche ... but of China's world power status and its future.

It has a long way to go, but I see China moving toward an obviously authoritarian, state-power-centered but capitalist society like Singapore (times 500). That city state also had one-man rule for a long time, and President Lee created a prosperous, fairly egalitarian society with minimal corruption. Like Singapore, China won't be neoliberal, which to me means abandoning all to the corrupt market, in particular responsibility for the people's welfare. I hope it will also have that 'no poor people' thing that Singapore has. We'll see what happens over the next 10-15 years.

Posted by: fairleft | Mar 5 2018 15:54 utc | 58

According to the memoirs of Mao' s doctor, Mao suffered from serious physical ailments in his last years, but not from dementia.

Posted by: lysias | Mar 5 2018 16:02 utc | 59

oldenyoung — Assad was a popular leader before the *supposed* civil war in Syria began.

(I confess he is my least favorite ‘dictator’, as compared to Milosevic, Saddam, Kadafi.)

Yet, Assad has held on beyond all expectations and somehow found some grit and honour. Which was NOT expected. >>.. Having Russian support is fantastic help.

In a ‘free and fair’ election Assad would win no matter what exactly the composition of Syria. However, who ‘wins’ is perhaps not so important, (see Russia, always stating, it is up to the ppl of Syria..) though Assad has become a symbol of resistance to the US Pax Americana / empire.

Telling, for ex. is that the ‘opposition’ (org. by USA-Isr-KSA-other) is again talking about changing the Constitution. Assad re-vamped it and a new one was proposed, accepted by referendum, in 2012. Imho a weak, appeasing move, made by Assad to fend off some attackers (as if that would stop them)…big mistake.

The present text: Syria Const. 2012, PDF

Ppl who live in ‘democracies’ - the USA and France are representative Republics, not 'democracies' - should realise that they are called on to vote for false choices and there is nothing noble about that at all. It actually latches into the divide-to-rule schema. Such as in left-right in the USA, which along with Kim Kardashian and School Shootings keeps ppl entertained and paralysed.

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 5 2018 16:30 utc | 60

@44 cp - thanks for some of that info..

@47 jen.. thanks for that.. i was unaware of those specific details..

@50 christian.. i don't know.. good questions and comments though..thanks.

don karlos,integer and oldenyoung - thanks for your comments on @50 questions..

@60 noirette.. read @47 jens comments.. it seems like assads mandate runs out 2021 and can only be served once based on the constitution from 2012.. read jens post..

Posted by: james | Mar 5 2018 17:16 utc | 61

hey since it is an open thread - does anyone know the relationship with russia and neoliberalism? is russia into this? thanks...

Posted by: james | Mar 5 2018 17:18 utc | 62

..they acknowledge that Russia is well ahead on inter-planetary nuclear spacecraft...
Posted by: oldenyoung | Mar 5, 2018 10:39:29 AM | 57

It's pretty unlikely that Russia, or anyone else, has a nuclear rocket. A rocket is a devise which moves by energetically ejecting matter which causes a reaction in the opposite direction to the ejected stream. If a device isn't energetically ejecting matter at high speed then it's not a rocket and it's not going anywhere, no matter how 'nuclear' it may or may not be.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 5 2018 17:23 utc | 63

@47 & @60
Thank you for the important info. I fail to see who could be a solid candidate to replace Assad in Syria’s next presidential elections only 3 years away..

Posted by: Lozion | Mar 5 2018 17:42 utc | 64

@ james 62

I would say generally not. If you look at neoliberalism as promoting privatization, removal of regulations and removal of social services, Russia seems to be moving in opposite directions with trying to break up the power of the oligarchs, keeping controls over rampant capitalism and interested in raising pensions.

Both Russia and China seem to realize the power of the state more as a restriction to rampant capitalism to protect society. Neoliberal countries such as the US use the government to empower capitalism at the expense of society such as bailing out banks while cutting back on medicare and social security and also promoting student indebtedness.

Posted by: financial matters | Mar 5 2018 17:57 utc | 65

hoarse @ 64

yes that is how they work



Posted by: oldenyoung | Mar 5 2018 18:04 utc | 66

@65 financial matters.. thanks! what do you think of turkeys interest in this? read @44 cp's post for some of his comments that seem to suggest turkey adopting neoliberalism..

Posted by: james | Mar 5 2018 18:24 utc | 67

Ian @54

Yes, that's what the spokesman of China's National People's Congress (NPC) said: this change is to align with the other two positions.

Of course politics is always more complicated than it appears. My guess there must be some other political motivations behind it. One might be the current candidate to succeed Xi is deemed not suitable enough. We just have to wait and see.

Btw, Frau Merkel is just got confirmed to start her 4th term as Chancellor of Germany. We don't hear any loud cry from MSM.

Unfortunately, "Nachbar China"is only available in German. Don't know why nobody tries to translate it into English. It is one of the few books about China worth of your time to read IMHO.

Herr Schmidt is one of few rare statesmen left from WWII: intelligent, not afraid to take responsibility and to make hard decisions. He famously said: "Whoever has vision should go to see a doctor." („Wer Visionen hat, sollte zum Arzt gehen")

I found just some old pieces of his speechs in English, you may have a "taste" of his sharp wits: SYND 30 11 74 SCHMIDT AT LABOUR CONFERENCE

For anyone who understand German, he talked about China and other topics during this interview from 2008, in which :Helmut Schmidt bei Sandra Maischberger - 2008 - Teil 1 von 8

Posted by: mali | Mar 5 2018 18:28 utc | 68

@ Noirette who wrote: "Ppl who live in ‘democracies’ - the USA and France are representative Republics, not 'democracies' - ...."

It is time we confront the myth of the Republic. A Republic is a state or nation in which the supreme power rests in all the citizens entitled to vote. The entitled to vote part of the equation gets the majority of the focus while the supreme power part is never discussed.

If you live in our world that has the families that own private finance et al with supreme power then how do "we" call what we have a Republic? We need to rip the curtain all the way off our social contract and upgrade the concepts of patriarchy, inheritance, ongoing ownership of private property and finance as a public utility, IMO

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 5 2018 18:37 utc | 69

"He is fitting a different engine to already developed missile. Most of engine work can be done in a lab. Once parts are safe, few final tests (with parachute/over test ground/over the ocean)." - Don Karlos

Yes, I buy it. Cruise missiles don't have to travel whipping fast, somewhere between 600 to 1000 mph, so parachuting over open water is feasible. Also, they can test the cruise missile at a higher altitude or have it loft to a higher altitude when the want it's flight path to end. All they have to do is to figure out how to shield the reactor but that can be done in a lab. I really do buy it.

Posted by: Christian Chuba | Mar 5 2018 18:51 utc | 70

Unbelievable that a sham documentary about a duplicitous traitor won the 2017 Oscar for Best Documentary. If you thought Icarus was bad though, wait until you see what the Oscar for Best Documentary holds for 2018: Things that Go Bump in the Night: How Russian demon are secretly destroying childhood around the world, produced by Larry Weinstein and directed by Laura Palmer.

Posted by: Uncoy | Mar 5 2018 18:52 utc | 71

Debsisdead 39
All should read William Hinton's incisive 2003 essay ' The Role of Mao T'se Tung'
Certainly backs up all you say from an informed angle . I am sure an astute Marxist analyst, as Castro stressed Xi - Ping definitely is knows it by heart !

Posted by: ashley albanese | Mar 5 2018 19:07 utc | 72

Apologies if this is simplistic and ignores previous comments, but regarding China, Pepe Escobar in his latest article takes the firm stand that the economic transformation of China, the vision of the Silk Road, all these things will require stable management until at least 2030, Xi has a lot of his thought in the project, they need him to stick with it. No changing horse mid stream. It's as simple as that, says Escobar.

And Xi is hardly alone:

Xi may now turn into a post-modern version of an enlightened Tang emperor. But he also performs as the embodiment of Plato – a philosopher-king ruling with help of the best and the brightest (think Liu He, director of the Office of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs and Xi’s top man on economic policy).
- The Xi Silk Road is here to stay

Escobar in his Facebook page 2 days ago offered these thoughts on the western false alarmism and his article:

I'm not even remotely amused by the staggering amount of stupidity written about Xi Jinping becoming "the new Mao" - even considering all those pundits are clueless about all things China. THIS, my latest column, written a few days ago, is what's happening - and yes, I could see it happening quite a while ago as I dug deeper into the New Silk Roads as the organizing vector in Chinese foreign policy. Xi, in the Chinese system, is the hexin lingdao - "nucleus of the leadership". And China needs a steady, solid, consistent leadership to reach all those myriad, complex targets laid out by Xi himself internally and externally. The whole process has absolutely nothing to do with the Mao era. As I ended the column; history will judge him by his performance. The rest is Sinophilia spewed out by simpletons.

Posted by: Grieved | Mar 5 2018 19:52 utc | 73

Interesting documentary about Ernesto Ché Guevara and his last days, which may contradict other versions recently published at other blogs about his assasination:

"Che. La peligrosa costumbre de seguir naciendo"

It is in Spanish, but some important statements by certain Cuban CIA agent are made in English...
It was not such a feat, as some people out there try to brag about, but what they hunted was a barefoot and sick man who weighed only 50 kg at the time....They were not hungry indians who caught him under the direction of US Army Special Forces, but Bolivian professional military who, still with everything in favour, could not caught him until an indian who has seen the guerrila passing delated him...

Posted by: Fatima Manoubia | Mar 5 2018 20:26 utc | 74

Well, where I put "delated"( in my usual "Spanglish" ) it was meant "blew the wistle", of course..

Posted by: Fatima Manoubia | Mar 5 2018 20:31 utc | 75

Thanks to Peter, Jen and Noirette for any info...

I guess where i was looking for confirmation is, Does Syria have an Answer for their problem? Is it Assad? or anyone?

It looks like Syria will finally win the major battles, to the point where they have at least a defensible perimeter...but

Syria is going to be as broke as it can be by then...several million refugees are going to show up with empty stomachs and nothing to do..

Will Russia and Iran support Syria at this level, to rebuild? If not it would be very easy to foment "discontent" again...and it remains vulnerable to the same powers that have sought to destabilize it...Syria 3.0 is not what they need



Posted by: oldenyoung | Mar 5 2018 21:13 utc | 76

James @ 61, Lozion @ 64:

I have looked up the Constitution of the Syrian Arab Republic (in English) and found in Article 88 that the President can be re-elected for one more 7-year term.

"... The President of the Republic is elected for 7 years as of the end of the term of the existing President. The President can be elected for only one more successive term ..."

My apologies for my previous oversight.

If Assad himself were prevented in any way from standing for re-election, his wife Asma could be considered a likely successor to continue Syria's policies. Don't forget she has a university qualification in computer science, she worked for two investment banks (Deutsche Bank and J P Morgan) in economic analysis and she had been accepted into Harvard University's MBA program before she met Assad. After he became President, as First Lady Asma undertook a number of social and economic development projects aimed at improving people's lives, at least until war broke out in 2011. So she certainly has the background, the experience and the intelligence to be President if she wants the job.

Posted by: Jen | Mar 5 2018 21:48 utc | 77

oldenyoung "Does Syria have an Answer for their problem?"

Depends on what you consider is their 'problem'. I see Syria's main problem as divide and conquer attacks by foreign forces and Syria's vulnerability to these attacks.

I would look to Putin's strategy in the second Chechen war though Syria is far more complicated and many more groups than Chechnya. First Chechen war was Chechen's fighting for independence on the breakup of the Soviet Union. Wahabbis and Cia then moved in and second Chen war started or quickly devolved into a three way war. All Chechen vs Russia but also traditional Chechen vs wahabbi/CIA converts. Putin's deal with Kadyrov senior was along the lines that Russian Federation would protect the traditional Chechens from foreign attacks and Chechens would have a good deal of autonomy for their traditional culture, and in return Chechnya would give its loyalty to the Russian federation. A strength in numbers type deal from what I can make out. Also, it seems kadyrov junior as leader of Chechnya is only answerable to the president of the Russian and only deals direct one on one with the RF president.

I would guess that something along these lines is what Russia is looking for if there are any changes to the Syrian constitution.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 5 2018 21:59 utc | 78

Posted by: Grieved | Mar 5, 2018 2:52:45 PM | 73

I'm sorry Grieved but I cannot go along with Escobar's analysis, human beings are amazing creatures, but none of us is perfect and by creating a situation where his leadership is practically unassailable, Xi is asserting perfection when everything we know about ourselves, especially those of us who hold power tells us that the longer any human is in office the further isolated he/she will be from the day to day lives of other people.

As much as I loathe western models, I cannot support the notion that the types of humans who seek absolute power in other seemingly opposing models of government are necessarily any different from the scum who seek office in the west. Initially leaders may seek to change to reduce injustice and improve things for everyone, but after a time the office changes them and a leader's distance from day to day life makes them susceptible to abstractions and not reality.
Xi's motives may still be pure, but once he has been at it too long he will see issues as problems to be resolved as easily as possible, rather than what they are which is essentially people, fellow citizens, who have been disadvantaged in an unforeseen way by some centralised directive.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Mar 5 2018 22:06 utc | 79

Jen, thanks for the background on Asma. I would guess any replacement to Assad would have to be well known, with a good track record over the last seven years, and be acceptable to the majority of groups. Suheil al-Hassan head of tiger forces I think would be a contender.

As for the presidential election, I woulkd guess their would be much discussion and negotiation between parties/groups beforehand on a candidate that is acceptable to the majority of groups, and the actual election then becomes a formality in which the decided on candidate is then voted for by the majority of groups that have already picked the candidate.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 5 2018 22:16 utc | 80

@77 Ah! Makes more sense, otherwise the hawks would calm down and wait it out. Asma I suppose could be a good candidate but being the 3rd member of the same family in power is political ammunition to any opposition..

Posted by: Lozion | Mar 5 2018 22:16 utc | 81

re 77

"So she certainly has the background, the experience and the intelligence to be President if she wants the job."

I couldn't agree more, but a Sunni from Homs, they're not likely to agree to. A mafia, in the end.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 5 2018 22:35 utc | 82

Grieved @73--

Thanks for providing that quote from Pepe's FB! Adam Garrie's written a similar but more complex piece you may have already read. I agree with his observation that what we're witnessing is a very rare historical event when a previously very important civilization that suffered want might have been an enduring decline has instead risen to regain its previous prominence in a manner likely to surpass its previous accomplishments. Garrie:

"While societies like the Hellenic or the Arab world may indeed come back to greatness, history has proved such things to be rare. This is one of the many reasons why anyone who values resilience, invention, capacity for greatness and capacity for imagination within the human spirit, should gaze at modern China with both a sense of awe and humility....

"Today, when people from throughout the world, including the developed world gaze at China’s great cities, they are not merely looking at prosperity – they are looking at the future. The China of today is not just a great producer, moderniser and educator, but it is also a great innovator....

"Many still haven’t adjusted themselves to an era where it is not China looking to the US for inspiration, but that it is now a wider world that is looking to China in order to find out ‘what happens next’."

The Beards wrote of America in Mid-Passage. I think it would be realistic to write of America in Terminal Decline--as if suffering from Alzheimer's, too many Americans don't know how they got to where they are today, nor are they able to see the dire direction the nation's heading, while too few have any idea of what must be done to facilitate a renovation that would lead to rejuvenation.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 5 2018 22:37 utc | 83

@2 ninel
Thanks for posting. Great to hear Crooke speak - a clear, assured voice. Lavelle didn't get in tne way too much. An enjoyable interview, and would reflect a lot of what we read here at MofA on Syria.

@82 ".. too many Americans don't know how they got to where they are today, nor are they able to see the dire direction the nation's heading, while too few have any idea of what must be done to facilitate a renovation that would lead to rejuvenation. ..."

Yes, a fair comment I would say. Long gone is the idealogical war that served the US capitalist so well after WW2. An extraordinary effort now to reconjure the red boogeyman so soon after claiming #1, only to be mere decades later by two countries with richer histories that have done their homework and taken the parts of capitalism that works for them. How do you fight something that does better business in your image...?

You can only laugh at the slow motion train wreck, as US capitalism clamps down on free speech and promotes censorship via it's corporate arm. The people really have lost touch with what made them great. The dumbing down is complete.

Posted by: MadMax2 | Mar 5 2018 23:50 utc | 84

dammit I did it again the other day tidied up the system & a consequence deleting cookies which hold my id here at MOA. I thought my email would work but it hasn't and the last missive disappeared.
I had responded to grieved and the escobar quote, but the stuff never comes out as apposite the second time around.
The point I was trying to make was that no human is perfect and that includes chairman/prez Xi as well as Plato whose flaws were documented long ago. Too long in power will take Xi too far away from citizens too long - to the point where he sees all issues as being problems to be overcome rather than what they are, people struggling to exist in a world where their needs & wants are specific rather than the generalised lowest common denominator stuff preferred by leaders too removed from the citizens.

There is a tendency among those of us who have learned to loathe western corporate capitalism and its handmaiden neoliberalism, to see alternative systems which are frequently somewhat better, as perfect when they are not. Humans are flawed beings and I cannot see merit in any administration where the leadership makes itself virtually unassailable & insulates itself from citizens.
Mao fought for a new way and luckily did not outlive his ideals. He had to hold on to power for the reasons we have discussed here before - there was no established means to transfer power that would allow leadership evolution that was not susceptible to malign influence from outside, particularly the west. China wasn't strong enough back then.
That is no longer the case China has much more ability to be self-determining now than in the 1960's, there may well be flaws in the succession process Deng & co instituted. Indeed I would be surprised if that were not the case, but Xi should be fixing the flaws to assist new, young leadership to takeover, not slamming down the hatch at the top of the ladder.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Mar 5 2018 23:55 utc | 85

@1 I thought the article surprisingly objective, considering. An excerpt:

"Russia pursued an emergent, or “lean,” strategy. This was an approach characterized by the “fail fast, fail cheap” ethos of startup business, with iterative adjustments to the operation. The centerpiece of this strategy was flexibility, with a preference for adaptation over more structured strategy. In emergent strategy, success begets success, while failure is never final or disqualifying.."

Posted by: rackstraw | Mar 6 2018 1:28 utc | 86

@82 karlof1

Yes I did read Garrie's piece, and I agree with it. Except I don't quite see the uniqueness of China's current rise. Many countries were downtrodden from the past 500 years of colonialism. And colonialism is finally being done away with, I think.

I tend to think of all societies rising and falling. It's the Chinese Century now, and I seem to recall that it was called that for decades in the past century when western thought could still articulate without censorship, and perhaps when the new century was safely still far in the future.

@84 Debsisdead

I never thought there would be such a discussion over China extending term limits. China's governance is extremely stable I think. I don't think Xi is on his own in this situation. I don't know if this is even Xi's idea. My impression of Chinese governance is very much one of teamwork. I think Xi has any room to turn tyrant or stop making sense.

Godfree Roberts had an article at Unz Review last year that offers a comparison between the western system that it is so pleased to call itself free, and the Chinese version. China beats western freedom hands down in 10 very significant areas: Selling Democracy to China. Roberts comments at the end:

Whether or not we’re willing to call China’s 20th century system democratic, it’s clear that they’ve improved on our quaint, eighteenth century model. How long before they start selling the new, improved version?

Roberts also has a recent piece at Greenville Post concerning the term limit: Why is China lifting the two-term limit for Xi Jinping? I recommend this one for its perspective on Xi and the Maoist Cultural Revolution:

The only people who will be surprised by Xi’s return to (more) Communism is those who thought that Reform and Opening represented China’s capitulation to Capitalism, the Western media and Western Chinese ‘experts’. The Chinese people will not be. 90% of them greatly enjoyed their earlier experiments with Communism, despite their problems and shortcomings. Today, 75% of them feel nostalgic about the Cultural Revolution and President Xi called it ‘a dream that could not be realized at the time’.
Xi told the 19th Party Plenum in 2017:
"China’s GINI under Mao was the best in the world but, as Deng warned, some grew richer than others during Reform and Opening and China became almost as unequal as the USA. So, until 2039, we must devote ourselves to re-creating a society in which wealth and income are so equitably distributed that the world will envy us."

Posted by: Grieved | Mar 6 2018 1:43 utc | 87

Xi extended rule dictatorship
Assad extended rule dictatorship
Putin re-elected dictatorship
McCain meeting with headchoppers, democracy at it's finest
2 terms of Obama where he is pretty good a killing people, democracy

Posted by: Duck1 | Mar 6 2018 1:43 utc | 88

Just on a different note, we haven't discussed donny senior's somewhat limpwristed attempt to reintroduce protected markets into the amerikan economy.

There is no doubt that 'something must be done' to provide a lifeline to the people of the midwest aka 'the rustbelt'. I'm not sure that resurrecting old programs is the best way forward; at least not solely. There must be more diversification if any resurrection hopes to endure.
The whole thing is classic trumpian right move for the wrong reason

When I began thinking about this I had a quick scout of the web to try to find out which nation is the largest supplier of steel to the US market. The financial times was about the only site which appeared to answer the query, but that was behind Murdoch's pay wall.
I have watched mainstream US/Oz/englander & Aotearoa coverage since donny said he was gonna tax steel imports and to my knowledge none of them have actually named the 'perps' aside from vague inferences vis a vis the People's Republic of China.
The allusions to China which is by far the largest producer of steel on the planet don't mention history. The Chinese did invent the steel-making process after all, but since 2007's allegations of dumping, China has moved well down the hierarchy of amerikan steel suppliers to somewhere around #8.
I don't like to guess but I suspect South Korea is copping the rough end of the pineapple too. That leaves India, Mexico, Brazil and Canada as the likely 'top 4'.

IMO steel manufacturing in amerika became unsustainable because manufacturers chose not to reinvest in newer tech/newer processes that would make production more efficient. Plus the neolibs refused to force foreign manufacturers to wear a surcharge based upon the (at that time) superior working conditions of amerikan steel workers. Anyone else conclude that the badly thought through 'plan' was to force amerikan steel workers to give up their conditions?

I suspect Trump will encourage the growth of non-union 'scab' steel plants to get around one issue while 'trusting' amerikan manufacturers to wake the fuck up amd modernise to cover the other.

I doubt the latter will eventuate to the point donny anticipates. Where new plants are constructed it will be in regions where there wasn't a steel industry previously so as to make acceptance of non-union plants easier.

Nobody ever screwed up underestimating Wall St cupidity & where possible there will be little investment in new steel manufacturing tech as that is akin to robbing stockholders as far as corporate capitalists believe.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Mar 6 2018 2:19 utc | 89

Oldenyoung @ 76:

From the little that I have been able to find on the Internet, I believe that Syria does have reconstruction plans and that firms from Russia, China and Iran have been given first preference to bid for projects.

There is also a reconciliation process for those jihadis who agree to surrender and lay down their arms.

Refugees are returning to their former places of residence in Syria. I'm not sure of the exact numbers but they are above 500,000.

Here's a documentary "Aleppo - Renaissance" on the reconstruction of that city:

This information won't answer all of your questions about Syria's postwar rehabilitation but I hope it helps answer some.

Posted by: Jen | Mar 6 2018 2:45 utc | 90

@77 jen.. thanks.. no problem.. it makes more sense as @80 lozion points out.. cheers james..

Posted by: james | Mar 6 2018 3:03 utc | 91

interesting... ‘Operational pause’: Pentagon freezes anti-ISIS battle in Syria amid Turkish offensive maybe they can fly the us forces back home for a lunch break too.. i am sure those few isis members that haven't already been converted onto the moderate rebel usa payment system, won't miss much...

Posted by: james | Mar 6 2018 3:40 utc | 92

'least favourite dictator'.
Noirette, I hope your insulation from how the world works is kept in place for you until you're decommissioned in a comfortable retirement village. Honour and courage are not written in your stars

Posted by: warner | Mar 6 2018 5:24 utc | 93

@87 deb

There is no doubt that 'something must be done' to provide a lifeline to the people of the midwest aka 'the rustbelt'. I'm not sure that resurrecting old programs is the best way forward; at least not solely. There must be more diversification if any resurrection hopes to endure. The whole thing is classic trumpian right move for the wrong reason.

This is the same logic that Obama used to defend neoliberalism: "those jobs aren't coming back." Oh yeah...Americans can't make shoes and clothes anymore, huh? Too beneath us? Is that why the international intelligentsia rails against the ignorance of the fly-over states? Same twisted logic...same obfuscation. So which is it? Is America still a potentially diverse working force which needs a little help from combatting the hella-not-free-Chinese-protectionism and outright theft of intellectual property? Or are those days over with so America really doesn't need market commodities like domestically-produced shoes, clothes, steel, etc.? Did I miss something, because a lot of people feel like since the iPAD was created, we don't need a darn thing as long as Foxconn over in China is holding a gun to their workers temple and keeping up with demand. Or making a pair of Nikes for a dollar and selling it for $200.

My friend...anything would be an improvement.

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Mar 6 2018 6:31 utc | 94

warner 91, perhaps a little satire in Noirette's comment.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 6 2018 6:37 utc | 95

Duck1 @86

"....Xi extended rule dictatorship, Assad extended rule dictatorship, Putin re-elected dictatorship...."

The Three Branches of Government

"To avoid the risk of dictatorship or tyranny, the group divided the new government into three parts, or branches: the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch . . . "

I would rather have the Chinese, Russian or Syrian "dictatorships.”

Both Russian and Syrian presidents were overwhelming elected by its citizen. President Xi may not be directly elected but...... the massive high speed train, solar, winds and hydraulic energy power, supercomputer, airports, Infrastructures are world class... since 1978 China “has lifted more than 800 million people out of poverty.” Nevertheless, they are still poor by western standards.

Posted by: OJS | Mar 6 2018 6:50 utc | 96

NemesisCalling@92 ...we don't need a darn thing as long as Foxconn over in China is holding a gun to their workers temple and keeping up with demand.

That would be didn't - past tense. Wisconsin coughed up over $4 billion in state and local subsidies to bribe Foxconn to bring their sweatshop to the US. It will now be 13,000 US workers with a gun to their temple to keep up with demand. That's only $200,000 tax dollar extortion for each Foxconn slave job, most of which I imagine are $8/hr assembly jobs. 175 year payback, give or take.

No word if Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn's real name) will install nets on top of their Wisconsin facilities to prevent employee suicides - like they needed to do at the Longhua plant in China.

"Ni Hao, Cheesehead slave person. Remember, YOU pay US to come here. [chambers round in pistol] Work NOW. No bathrooms break - EVER."

Posted by: PavewayIV | Mar 6 2018 7:10 utc | 97

Posted by: NemesisCalling | Mar 6, 2018 1:31:42 AM | 92

Did you read what I wrote? The point I am trying to make is that while bringing steel back may work short term, some tough decisions have to be made. If the old manufacturing methods are resurrected, the industry will be inefficient and polluting; if more modern manufacturing techniques are adopted, the workforce required will be orders of magnitude smaller than what used to be.
And that is in spite of the reality of amerika in 2018, that the financiers will go for short term goals everytime, making it highly likely that investment will be kept as low as can be managed while profit taking will be ruthless with scant regard for any long-term benefit, for it is them not I who advocates neoliberalism, meaning their preference for free markets will end steel tariffs when Trump ends.

A sustainable economic model is needed for ordinary amerikans, but chucking a coupla taxes on metal won't create that. Root and branch restructure of the amerikan economic system, the insane dependence on 'empire' and the society which the economy is meant to service, is the only way to achieve that.
Trump only offers a slight re-alignment of deck chairs, primarily in 1st class.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Mar 6 2018 7:19 utc | 98

Debsisdead @39
You might want to check out Godfree Roberts' biog of Xi on the Greanville Post website.

Quite a story it seems, even if only half of it is true (I have no particular reason to be skeptical about this).

Roberts' has another piece on the same website. If you get past the commie jargon at the top of the article, there's an interesting discussion of the xiaokang society (which apparently can be translated as "small prosperity", and which is supposed to be "fully implemented" by 2020) and datong society ("great harmony", which is scheduled to be implemented by 2049 for the hundredth anniversary of the Peoples' Republic).

Of course, xiaokang and datong are Confucian concepts, so surely elitist. Even if they are supposed to be "for the people", are they really "by the people"? Still, it certainly adds "Chinese characteristics" to the country's governance -- and who is to say that will be any worse than what Western "democratic" governance could provide?

Posted by: hojo | Mar 6 2018 7:20 utc | 99

Re protection of manufacturing. Many countries are now talking about moving their economies the the tech/services sector. Many, unless they have no qualms about selling their arse in the sex industry (services sector) may have no aptitude that allows them to compete for jobs in these sectors.
My thought is, with basic manufacturing gone, all that is left is bankers and brothels servicing the tech industry. Well a little more complicated, but that's the general picture...

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Mar 6 2018 7:20 utc | 100

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