Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 21, 2018

Fallout Of Trump's Syria Withdrawal - Why Erdogan Does Not Want To Invade

President Trump's strategic decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria creates some significant fallout. The U.S. and international borg is enraged that Trump ends an occupation that is illegal under international as well as U.S. domestic law. "That's un-American!"

Defense Secretary James "Mad Dog" Mattis resigned from his position effective February 28. He disagreed with the president's decision. It was the second time in five years that an elected commander in chief had a serious conflict with Mattis' hawkishness. President Obama fired him as Central Command chief for urging a more aggressive Iran policy. Mattis is also extremely hawkish towards Russia and China.

President Trump campaigned on lessening U.S. involvement in wars abroad. He wants to get reelected. He does not need a Secretary of Defense that involves him in more wars that have little to none defined purpose.

Mattis is an ingrained imperialist. He always asked for more money for the military and for more meddling abroad.  One of Mattis' little notice acts as Defense Secretary was a unannounced change in the mission of the Pentagon:

For at least two decades, the Department of Defense has explicitly defined its mission on its website as providing "the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country." But earlier this year, it quietly changed that statement, perhaps suggesting a more ominous approach to national security.
...
The Pentagon's official website now defines its mission this way: "The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide a lethal Joint Force to defend the security of our country and sustain American influence abroad."

The Pentagon no longer "deters war" but provides "lethal force" to "sustain American influence abroad." There was no public nor congressional debate about the change. I doubt that President Trump agreed to it. Trump will now try to recruit a defense secretary that is more aligned with his own position.

The White House also announced that 7,000 of the 14,000 soldier the U.S. has in Afghanistan will withdraw over the next few months. The war in Afghanistan is lost with the Taliban ruling over more than half of the country and the U.S. supported government forces losing more personal than they can recruit. It was Mattis who had urged Trump to increase the troop numbers in Afghanistan from 10,000 to 14,000 at the beginning of his term. There are also 8,000 NATO and allied troops in Afghanistan which will likely see a proportional withdrawal.

The Associated Press has a new tic toc of Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria:

Trump stunned his Cabinet, lawmakers and much of the world with the move by rejecting the advice of his top aides and agreeing to a withdrawal in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week, two officials briefed on the matter said.
...
“The talking points were very firm,” said one of the officials, explaining that Trump was advised to clearly oppose a Turkish incursion into northern Syria and suggest the U.S. and Turkey work together to address security concerns. “Everybody said push back and try to offer (Turkey) something that’s a small win, possibly holding territory on the border, something like that.”

Erdogan, though, quickly put Trump on the defensive, reminding him that he had repeatedly said the only reason for U.S. troops to be in Syria was to defeat the Islamic State and that the group had been 99 percent defeated. “Why are you still there?” the second official said Erdogan asked Trump, telling him that the Turks could deal with the remaining IS militants.
...
Erdogan’s point, Bolton was forced to admit, had been backed up by Mattis, Pompeo, U.S. special envoy for Syria Jim Jeffrey and special envoy for the anti-ISIS coalition Brett McGurk, who have said that IS retains only 1 percent of its territory, the officials said.
...
Bolton stressed, however, that the entire national security team agreed that victory over IS had to be enduring, which means more than taking away its territory.

Trump was not dissuaded, according to the officials, who said the president quickly capitulated by pledging to withdraw, shocking both Bolton and Erdogan.

Trump did not "capitulate". He always wanted to pull the U.S. troops out of Syria. He said so many times. When he was finally given a chance to do so, he grabbed the opportunity. Erdogan though, was not ready for that:

Caught off guard, Erdogan cautioned Trump against a hasty withdrawal, according to one official. While Turkey has made incursions into Syria in the past, it does not have the necessary forces mobilized on the border to move in and hold the large swaths of northeastern Syria where U.S. troops are positioned, the official said.

The call ended with Trump repeating to Erdogan that the U.S. would pull out, but offering no specifics on how it would be done, the officials said.


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Erdogan had planned to only occupy a 10 miles deep strip along the Syrian-Turkish border. Some 15,000 Turkish controlled 'Syrian rebels' stand ready for that. He would need some 50-100,000 troops to occupy all of east Syria northward of the Euphrates. It would be a hostile occupation among well armed Kurds who would oppose it and an Arab population that is not exactly friendly towards a neo-Ottoman Turkey.

Erdogan knows this well. Today he announced to delay the planned invasion:

“We had decided last week to launch a military incursion... east of the Euphrates river,” he said in a speech in Istanbul. “Our phone call with President Trump, along with contacts between our diplomats and security officials and statements by the United States, have led us to wait a little longer.

“We have postponed our military operation against the east of the Euphrates river until we see on the ground the result of America’s decision to withdraw from Syria.”

The Turkish president said, however, that this was not an “open-ended waiting period”.

Any larger occupation of northeast Syria would create a serious mess for Turkey. Its army can do it, but it would cost a lot of casualties and financial resources. Turkey will hold local government election in March and Erdogan does not want any negative headlines. He will invade, but only if Syria and Russia fail to get the Kurds under control.

Unfortunately the leaders of the anarcho-marxist PKK/YPK in Syria have still not learned their lesson. They make the same demands to Damascus that were already rejected when similar demands were made for Afrin canton before Turkey invaded and destroyed it.

agitpapa @agitpapa 11:14 utc - 21 Dec 2018
YPG delegation was flown in to Mezzeh yday. Negos were inconclusive because they just repeated their usual line of "SAA protects the border, we control the rest." No army allows someone else allied with an enemy to control its rear and its supply lines. +
+ The YPG leadership is still stuck in its pro-Western rut. It needs to be purged before any deal can be made with Damascus. Their present track will just lead to another Afrin, then another, then another. Thousands of brave YPG/YPJ fighters will have died for nothing.
Elijah J. Magnier @ejmalrai - 16:31 utc - 21 Dec 2018
#Breakingnews: Private sources : President Bashar al Assad has rejected the Kurdish proposal while Turkey is gathering forces (Euphrates Shield et al) to attack the Kurdish controlled area north of #Syria. #Russia seems holding back president Erdogan for a while. A lot of pressure

It is not (only) Russia that is holding Erdogan back. As seen above he has serious concerns about such an operation. Moreover, he does not have enough troops yet and the U.S. troops have not yet changed their pattern. As of today they still patrolled on the Turkish border and yesterday new U.S. war material was still coming in from Iraq. Erdogan does not dare to attack U.S. troops.

He will most likely want to avoid any additional military involvement in Syria. If Damascus and Moscow can get the PKK under control, Ankara will be satisfied.

Besides the presence of 4,000 to 5,000 U.S. troops and contractors in northeast Syria there also a contingent of 1,100 French troops and an unknown number of British forces. France for now says it wants to stay to finish the fight against the Islamic State enclave along the Euphrates.

But France does not have the capability to sustain those forces without U.S. support. Syria and Russia could ask Macron to put them under their command to finish the fight against ISIS, but it is doubtful that President Macron would agree to that. It is more likely that he will agree to a handover of their position to Russian, Syrian or even Iraqi or Iranian forces. Those forces can then finish the fight.

Posted by b on December 21, 2018 at 01:09 PM | Permalink

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Some of the conclusions toward the end of this article don't entirely make sense to me. Trump is withdrawing 2000-4000 US troops. Why does it follow that their absence would create a space requiring 50000 Turkish troops to fill? I don't see how occupation of the entire eastern would be under consideration at all.

As far as IS is concerned, their defeat will be "enduring" when their sponsors stop paying them, first of all.

Posted by: uuu | Dec 21, 2018 1:37:31 PM | 1

Mattis comes across to me as a psycho case of a suppressed faggot who has spent his life trying to disprove and conceal the blatantly obvious. There we go...fairly succinct analysis.

Posted by: Guy Thornton | Dec 21, 2018 1:38:25 PM | 2

The neo-liberal meltdown is astonishing, it's like the Iraq war never happened:

James Mattis Is a War Criminal: I Experienced His Attack on Fallujah Firsthand

More importantly, Mattis, known to some by the nickname of “Mad Dog,” has shown a callous disregard for human life, particularly civilians, as evidenced by his behavior leading marines in Iraq, comments he made about enjoying fighting in Afghanistan because “it’s fun to shoot some people. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot,” and myriad other problems.
...
While reporting from inside Fallujah during that siege, I personally witnessed women, children, elderly people and ambulances being targeted by US snipers under Mattis’ command. Needless to say, all of these are war crimes.

Posted by: Tobin Paz | Dec 21, 2018 1:44:44 PM | 3

For at least two decades, the Department of Defense has explicitly defined its mission on its website as providing "the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country." But earlier this year, it quietly changed that statement, perhaps suggesting a more ominous approach to national security.
...
The Pentagon's official website now defines its mission this way: "The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide a lethal Joint Force to defend the security of our country and sustain American influence abroad."

At least Mattis is more honest than most of his fellow psychopath war criminals.

If the AP account is factually accurate (i.e. leaving aside the tendentious pro-imperial, pro-war editorializing), then it's funny how fast Erdogan goes from "What are you doing here? Why don't you leave?" to "I didn't mean now!" He was probably angling for something else and didn't really want US withdrawal.

As for the French, what a contemptible squeak from a government on the ropes trying to look tough.

Posted by: Russ | Dec 21, 2018 1:46:37 PM | 4

Here is a look at how the United States is putting a mechanism in place that will increase its ability to sell arms around the world:

https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2018/11/american-international-arms-sales-and.html

The hawks in Washington need not worry, there will be plenty of war to go around.

Posted by: Sally Snyder | Dec 21, 2018 1:49:03 PM | 6

'The Pentagon's official website now defines its mission this way: "The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide a lethal Joint Force to defend the security of our country and sustain American influence abroad."'

I wonder whether, perchance, the Chief Executive and Commander in Chief should have been consulted about that. Traditionally, US Presidents have had some considerable say in defining the country's foreign policy.

Although one could interpret the change as being wholly in tune with Mr Trump's overriding policy of transparent honesty. After all, as long ago as 1900 - on the evidence of Marin Major-General Smedley Butler - we know that the US armed forces were used almost exclusively to promote American interests abroad. Maybe it's just refreshingly open to admit it at last.

Posted by: Tom Welsh | Dec 21, 2018 1:52:40 PM | 7

"Trump stunned his Cabinet, lawmakers and much of the world with the move by rejecting the advice of his top aides..."

Please remind me: who was elected in 2016 - Mr Trump, or "his top aides"?

Posted by: Tom Welsh | Dec 21, 2018 1:54:45 PM | 8

When David Ignatius reported that Mattis's bedtime reading was Marcus Aurelius in the original Latin, who was responsible for the mistake? (Marcus Aurelius wrote in Greek.) Ignatius, an aide of Mattis's, or Mattis himself?

Posted by: lysias | Dec 21, 2018 1:54:56 PM | 9

"While Turkey has made incursions into Syria in the past, it does not have the necessary forces mobilized on the border to move in and hold the large swaths of northeastern Syria where U.S. troops are positioned, the official said".

Splendid! Let them hand it back to the lawfully elected democratic government of Syria, then.

Posted by: Tom Welsh | Dec 21, 2018 1:57:50 PM | 10

Craig Murray's latest provides convincing evidence that whatever happened to the Skriepals in Salisbury was part of the Integrity Initiative's propaganda campaign against Russia.

Posted by: lysias | Dec 21, 2018 1:58:07 PM | 11

'“We had decided last week to launch a military incursion... east of the Euphrates river,” he said in a speech in Istanbul'.

So much for the UN Charter, then. Anyone who wants to can invade any other country and take over as much of its territory as he wants to - as long as Washington agrees.

But, as Saddam Hussein could testify if he were still alive, it would be sensible to get such consent in writing.

Posted by: Tom Welsh | Dec 21, 2018 2:00:51 PM | 12

thanks b... who replaces the war criminal mattis? and when does any american get charged in the hague for the countless wars they start? how long do we have to wait for this to happen? the fact he changed the wording is at least more honest, so i give him credit for that... he could have said 'we are the worlds policeman, and we will continue to be the worlds policeman too' which would have been equally appropriate...

one thing i do like about trump is his ability to surprise... he could have done this earlier in his term - pull out of syria - but i guess he was waiting to see how things went... as it stands i think the knifes are out for trump big time now, and i suspect he is not going to last as president.. someone else mentioned this on the previous thread, and i agree with that assessment..

at some point in the next month, it is going to look different if usa follows thru with the commanders new position... meanwhile russia has to continue to keep turkey on a leash and syria, russia and iran have to continue to work at regaining the area east of the euphrates as this unfolds... the leadership in france at this point are loony... the smart thing for them would be to leave or hand it over to syria/ russia...

Posted by: james | Dec 21, 2018 2:14:27 PM | 13

Macron's forces are illegally present too. Assad would have to request their presence, but I really doubt he will given the harm France has done to Syria over the past 7 years. Word is SAA's Tiger Forces will get sent East of Euphrates; when is now the question.

Rolling-back the Outlaw US Empire's overseas troop deployments and shuttering their bases is something I've argued for since I was honorably discharged in 1985, with the monies turned to desperate domestic needs--the financial statement may declare the USA the world's richest nation, but reality tells a very different story. That reality got Trump elected. The haphazard, laissez-faire, unplanned structural nature of the USA's economy is in no way prepared for the rising technological revolution, which is in stark contrast to China and Russia's plans. The most important message Putin delivered in his annual meeting yesterday was about the whys and hows of changing the structure of Russia's economy:

"I have said it on numerous occasions, and I will repeat it today. We need a breakthrough. We need to transition to a new technological paradigm. Without it, the country has no future. This is a matter of principle, and we have to be clear on this....

"Healthcare, education, research and human capital come first, since without them there is no way a breakthrough can be achieved. The second vector deals with manufacturing and the economy. Of course, everything is related to the economy, including the first part. But the second part is directly linked to the economy, since it deals with the digital economy, robotics, etc. I have already mentioned infrastructure....

"But we will not be able to achieve the GDP growth rates necessary for this breakthrough unless the structure of the economy is changed. This is what the national projects are aimed at, and why such enormous funds will be invested, which I have already said – to change the structure and build an innovation-based economy. The Government is counting on this, because if this happens, and we should all work towards this, then the growth rates will increase and there will be other opportunities for development." [My Emphasis]

200 million residents of the USA--2/3s of the populous--also need a breakthrough, which is why the Green New Deal has such widespread support: "The survey results show overwhelming support for the Green New Deal, with 81% of registered voters saying they either 'strongly support' (40%) or 'somewhat support' (41%) this plan." IMO, domestic political pressure generally supports Trump's MAGA, but the monies need to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is from the Outlaw US Empire part of the USA.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 21, 2018 2:21:14 PM | 14

It was only a couple of years after de Gaulle returned to power in 1958 that it became clear that he was going to pull out of Algeria.

Posted by: lysias | Dec 21, 2018 2:25:14 PM | 15

One's got to worry about who will replace Mad Dog Mattis after February 28 next year. It would seem that whoever succeeds Mattis will be another former general, likely to share his views on maintaining and increasing US forces in Syria, Iraq and other parts of western Asia where they're despised by the local people, and perhaps not averse to sounding out good ol' Erik Prince to fill the vacancies left when US troops start leaving.

Krishnadev Calamur, "Four People Who Could Be the Next Defense Secretary"
https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/578809/

Good God, not David Petraeus!

Posted by: Jen | Dec 21, 2018 2:36:37 PM | 16

Tom Welsh. It's my understanding that the Constitution states that foreign policy iS the job of the President. This Congress doesn't seem to have gotten the memo and though strictly a legislative body, have engaged in some pretty spectacular over reach.
The Constitution also puts an elected civilian (the President) in charge of the armed forces but put the power to declare war firmly in the hands of Congress.
The 1973 War Powers act has obscured this division of power. The President can order troops anywhere for a short time but must get an Authorization for Military Force from Congress. However, this is supposed to only in the case of attack or imminent danger, hardly the case in the ME.
Time limits on AFMF are often ignored and Congressiona! purse strings almost never limit (exception: at the end of Viet Nam Congress was about to cut funding) any and all military adventurism.

Posted by: CD Waller | Dec 21, 2018 2:51:41 PM | 17

@ karlof1 14
Healthcare, education, research and human capital come first, since without them there is no way a breakthrough can be achieved.

It would seem to me that if US politicians really cared about their job performance they would be working more on your "human capital" and less on warfare and Russian collusion. But there's no money in that, so they don't. So much for "democracy." Here's a recent article on a US achieved "breakthrough," in a negative sense that is.

WaPo, Nov 29

Life expectancy in the United States declined again in 2017, the government said Thursday in a bleak series of reports that showed a nation still in the grip of escalating drug and suicide crises.

The data continued the longest sustained decline in expected life span at birth in a century, an appalling performance not seen in the United States since 1915 through 1918. That four-year period included World War I and a flu pandemic that killed 675,000 people in the United States and perhaps 50 million worldwide.

Public health and demographic experts reacted with alarm to the release of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual statistics, which are considered a reliable barometer of a society’s health. In most developed nations, life expectancy has marched steadily upward for decades. . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 21, 2018 2:52:31 PM | 18

Compared to Mattis, Pompeo and Bolton, and now Nauert at the UN, are raving jingos. Thank Gord they have no ties to the US military.

Posted by: Kevin J Quinn | Dec 21, 2018 2:53:40 PM | 19

@ CD Waller 17
It's my understanding that the Constitution states that foreign policy iS the job of the President.

I see this falsehood a lot and there is absolutely no basis for it.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 21, 2018 2:54:36 PM | 20

@ Jen 16
Good God, not David Petraeus!

Perfect response -- kudos.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 21, 2018 2:57:46 PM | 21

Mattis could not, would not accept responsibility for the misappropriated 21 trillion dollars at HIS defence department. Kick him out. He was always a moron and demonstrated his arrogant dismissal of the elected president almost every day. $21 trillion buys a lot of maga.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Dec 21, 2018 3:02:58 PM | 22

Kurdish population in Syria is only 5% whereas the land they now control is 30% of the country thanks to the democratic EUSA nations?

They can no longer feed the ISIS inmates (they'll end up in France or Germany or elsewhere undertaking new projects?) since Khashoggi case (or Mr. Erdogan who caught the Saudis by their balls) made Saudis quit financing the YPG. Almost all ISIS inmates left in Syria are from abroad (they had been released from Libyan, Afghan, Iraqi prisons en mass at the beginning of the war and are ready for relocation?

Will the globalists controlled China arrive to rebuild what the US demolitionmen destroyed in Syria?

Who founded (USrael?) ISIS and made them lose water and oil rich territories in Syria to the PKK/YPG/SDF and what are they planning to do now?

Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Dec 21, 2018 3:05:43 PM | 23

It'd be funny if Trump appointed Tulsi Gabbard to the post of DefSec.
I don't know much about her except that she's definitely very cute and probably isn't a pushover. If the glowing praise of her MoA fans is any guide then she'd do a better job than any recent appointment to the role and would then become a shoe-in for POTUS. If that came to pass then 'Hillary Who?' would become part of America's Permanent Lexicon.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 21, 2018 3:09:39 PM | 24

2
you do your sick cause no good by your homophobia have you ever tried analism maybe you should try it before mocking a great 5 star general.
also so what if mattis believes in oded yinon would it not be strange if he did not ?
making israel greater is a win win for all of us freedum lovers is it not

Posted by: chuck | Dec 21, 2018 3:20:21 PM | 25

@11 lysias

Thanks for the Craig Murray reference - also links to a briefing note on the Integrity Initiative at the end.

Posted by: spudski | Dec 21, 2018 3:26:29 PM | 26

Don Bacon @18--

Thanks for your reply! Yes, the financialization and industrial hollowing-out of the USA's economy renders following the path being broken by Russia/China very difficult, but the projected outcome will be dire if the economy isn't radically restructured and the fake economists and their financial predators aren't driven from the Temple by modern Tribunes.

Meanwhile, shrouded by the Trump/Mattis circus, Turkey & Iran held an "historic summit" that likely had an impact on Trump's decision as everywhere he looks his previous foreign policy choices driven by his neocon advisors are mostly backfiring.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 21, 2018 3:26:44 PM | 27

25

Are you a friend of Craig Summers?

Posted by: Kula | Dec 21, 2018 3:33:59 PM | 28

Re US president and foreign policy:

The language of the US Constitution gives the President the power to make treaties and choose Ambassadors, in consultation with and with the consent (2/3 majority) of the Senate. Also, President is Commander-in-Chief of the military. This includes state militias if formed. He also receives political figures from abroad.

Like so much else in the US Constitution, there has been creepy or 'necessary' or when it's handy mission creep in regard to these delineated functions.

But more to the point, the US is and has long been a serial de facto repudiator of the US Constitution and of International law. 'Let us discuss the fine points of law pertaining to the repeated launching of wars of aggression on the basis of lies.'

Posted by: Robert Snefjella | Dec 21, 2018 3:35:04 PM | 29

CD Waller @17 and others never having taken a US Civics course--

This essay details how the separation of powers construct works in the formulation of US foreign policy.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 21, 2018 3:37:58 PM | 30

Forgive the levity but here's Hillary's theme song.

Oh yes I'm the great pretender (ooh ooh)
Pretending that I'm doing well (ooh ooh)
My need is such I pretend too much
I'm lonely but no one can tell.

Oh yes I'm the great pretender (ooh ooh)
Adrift in a world of my own (ooh ooh)
I play the game but to my real shame
You've left me to dream all alone.

Too real is this feeling of make believe
Too real when I feel what my heart can't conceal

Ooh ooh yes I'm the great pretender (ooh ooh)
Just laughing and gay like a clown (ooh ooh)
I seem to be what I'm not (you see)
I'm wearing my heart like a crown
Pretending that I'm still around.
(stiill a rounnd)

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 21, 2018 3:39:00 PM | 31

If the U.S. withdraws its forces from NE Syria who will control the air space. That will likely determine who controls the territory in the future. I don't think the Kurds have an airforce.

mls

Posted by: michael smith | Dec 21, 2018 3:49:49 PM | 32

karlof1 @ 14

"""But we will not be able to achieve the GDP growth rates necessary for this breakthrough unless the structure of the economy is changed. This is what the national projects are aimed at, and why such enormous funds will be invested, which I have already said – to change the structure and build an innovation-based economy. The Government is counting on this, because if this happens, and we should all work towards this, then the growth rates will increase and there will be other opportunities for development."""

Similar sentiments are expressed by Rhiana Gunn-Wright.

After Sanders lost the Democratic primary in 2016 a group called 'Brand New Congress' formed to carry on his ideas. This morphed into 'Justice Democrats' which helped Ocasio-Cortez get elected. She is serving as a lightning rod giving the Green New Deal popularity.

Rhiana Gunn-Wright is a young energetic and talented policy wonk working for 'New Consensus' which is a spin off of the 'Justice Democrats'.

She is being tasked with forming policy for the Green New Deal.

'Again, the GND is not just climate policy. It’s about transforming the economy, lifting up the poor and middle class, and creating a more muscular, active public sector.

The GND “opens an opportunity to renegotiate power relationships between the public sector, the private sector, and the people,” says Gunn-Wright. “We are interested in solutions that create more democratic structures in our economy.'

green new deal explained

Posted by: financial matters | Dec 21, 2018 4:13:46 PM | 33

Thanks to b for stellar continued coverage!

$21 Trillion + "interests abroad" DoD mission creep
>>
Silicon Valley hot air equity ($150,000 starting salaries for fresh graduates) on cash flow only digital assetts
+ offshore oligarch accounts (kkr et al)

I found it helpful to take stock of reported conditions surrounding the troops out move:

* ksa reportedly going bankrupt
* ksa reneges on golden glow globe sword dance MIC mou-s
* failed israeli missile attempt to start wwiii & ensuing s300 reinforcements
* kashoggi and related muslim brotherhood entanglements
* clinton foundation in DC "hearings" censored by msm
* continued censorship of Awan bros Blackberry scandal (espionage?)
* Cricket hero Khan batting for Pakistan
* Huawei affair
* Bibi & family corruption scandal

Trump has a keen eye for ratings, and surely knows giving the deplorables (private contractors, self employeds etc) trying to rub two pennies together gasoline under $3/gallon in the holiday season will mean much more to the public than Cnn Russiagate drivel working people have no time for anyway. Keeping armed forces rank and file happy and re purposing for disaster relief would be a good move.

Karlof1 is correct to make the most of the narrative. Glad b is on it. Hope troops arent cleared for nuclear Armeggedon!

Posted by: slit | Dec 21, 2018 4:16:39 PM | 34

@mls The US currently does not control Syrian airspace. The Russians do, ever since they switched from using the existing old Syrian S200 to the current advanced model S300, after the downing of their plane by the Israeli interference.
This was probably another factor that made operating in Syria increasingly problematic and handicapped: options of 'punishing Assad' or bombing mobile Iranian units were limited if they didn't want to coordinate with the Russians.
The Syrians now have to amass a large contingent to 'control' the Kurdish area; likely the Russians will be go-between to lower Kurdish demands as well as placate the SAA and achieve some kind of tense co-existence which can keep Turkey satisfied.
Interesting to see how Syria will handle both wanting to mop up Idlib as well as re-establish control over the North-East and its oil wells.

Posted by: Josh | Dec 21, 2018 4:23:57 PM | 35

I read that Trump did not inform Netanyahu of the USA’s Syria ‘withdrawal’ until about an hour before it was made public via tweet. Five mins! according to another article. Also, that Trump did discuss it with B.N. several days before (Haaretz), that sounded like a smoothing over. Another article claimed that it was Pompeo who clued in Israel a short while before. So who knows?

Right from the first time they met, Bibi was terrified of Trump, though I could not find one telling vid. I saw.

Feb. 15 2017.

Trump today said that he is keeping his options open about how best to reach a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian situation but urged Israel to hold back on settlement building in occupied territories.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmfseeZt5fA

President Trump veered from years of U.S. policy in the Middle East by backing off the "two-state solution," as the only path to peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

https://youtu.be/Wf-3916zpGA

One article stated that Macron and Merkel learnt of the ‘withdrawal’ from the media! I have noted that Macron is always very ‘late’ and ‘behind the times’ as far as the US is concerned, obviously the F ‘info’ services have no clue, or he isn’t kept informed, etc.

Not that there will be consequent 'fall-out' from either, for the moment. (Israel can only go along, and the EU has more serious stuff on its plate.)

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 21, 2018 4:29:57 PM | 36

"If Damascus and Moscow can get the PKK under control, Ankara will be satisfied."
Well - let's hope Allah (or whoever) will enlighten Erdo...

Posted by: Pnyx | Dec 21, 2018 4:39:59 PM | 37

First President since JFK to say no to the CIA. Lets see that SITRAP

Posted by: steve | Dec 21, 2018 4:42:14 PM | 38

Re: #3 Tobin Pa,


Yes, it's dispiriting, but not surprising that the anti-war "Left" movement has almost totally dissolved following their failure to prevent the Iraq war. As a deeply cynical person I'm certain that Hillary and the Clintonites worked behind the scenes in the DNC to undermine the Anti-war movement in expectation of her eventual 2008 & 2016 runs, since she and Bill supported the Iraq war and were no shrinking violets when it came to the use of military force in furtherance of their foreign policy goals. The consequence of destroying the Anti-war movement with the Democratic Party is that they have become a defacto Pro-war party even in situations where the use of the military is blatantly illegal, futile and against the National interest (since there is no organized Anti-war movement articulating why they should not go to war/use military force to stand against the Military Industrial Complex that is constantly advocating for more war). Hilariously, by becoming a Pro-war Party when the American people are increasingly tired of constant warfare the Democratic Party lost the 2016 election to a mildly anti-war Trump, who will most likely be re-elected (unless he is impeached or assassinated). In the long-term, unless the DNC faces up to the 30 years of disastrous Clinton mismanagement and corruption and cleans house, I could certainty see the Democratic Party collapsing over the next 15 years just like how the Labour Party in the UK is still struggling with the legacy of Tony Blair.

What's really galling to me though is watching all these so called "liberals" (Cher, Beth Midler, Rachael "Mad Cow" Maddow & Mia Farrow) whine about how the US should never leave Syria and stay there indefinitely; Are they or their children going to be fighting this war? Who gave the US such authority take seize parts of Syria? What exactly is the benefit to the US & her people in doing all of this? How many hundreds of thousands people (mostly Syrians) need to die for this ill-defined goal of spiting Syria & Russia? Just like the destruction of the Anti-war left in the Democratic Party had long term consequences, people will remember how Hollywood liberals behaved like jabbering, ignorant, warmongering ideologues during this period of US decline and it will cause profound damage to them and their professed causes.

Posted by: Kadath | Dec 21, 2018 4:42:18 PM | 39

KarlofI@14 and Fin Matters @33

Nice thoughts, but I don't think you have the time.
"Worst December since the great depression"
Just look at the pictures (charts), and scroll down.
https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-12-21/fear-reaches-most-extreme-ever-traders-see-panic-air
....
Trump has a tactic of "giving people what they ask for" (eg Jerusalem). Just to break a deadlock. This Syria gambit seems to be something of the same as Erdogan now gets what he has been asking for - and finds he doesn't want it yet.

I still think that there will be a continued US presence in Syria, concentrated around the Oil sources. The Agricultural lands further north were owned by "Arabic", Christian, Yadizi and other various tribes and ethnies. The Kurds only made up a small portion.
One reason that Trump may have decided to throw the Kurds to the wolves, is that they were overstretched, and not motivated enough to continue to be cannon fodder for Uncle Sam. The SDF (Which incorporates some turncoat ISIS members, which partly explains why there has only been slow "progress" against the last ISIS enclave in Eastern Syria, brother against ex-brother), also contains foreign mercenaries from various sources. What they will "demand" is open to question. The tribal forces in the SAA who are directly opposite contain members of the Shaitah, who saw 700 of their women and children massacred by ISIS. They may want their own land back too, as well as "payback".

The other reason for Trump to act now is that Flynn has been given three months in which to change his guilty "plea". After which, Mueller will HAVE TO provide proof, and not just accusations and people that have been blackmailed into "plea deals". Trump doesn't have too much time left for subtle tweet-tweets before the Dems arrive. etc (big topic by itself)

.... By the way, OT; Butina was really "brain-washed". 67 days in solitary confinement with all the recognised means of brainwashing used on her. Assault (including sexual) sleep deprivation, continued stress (including randomly timed "strip searches") probably lighting either permanently on or randomly used to destroy time awareness. There are other methods to be included, and at a "key" break point, a "counsellor/handler will whisper sweet nothings in hear ear to control her way of thinking ( I am NOT a specialist in Brainwashing, but the outline of what she suffered, means that she will always repeat what she has been told to say.) Real Brainwashing from the cold war era.

Posted by: stonebird | Dec 21, 2018 4:48:40 PM | 40

b's statement regarding Turkey: "Its army can do it, but it would cost a lot of casualties and financial resources."

During the entire war, Turkey's army has done not so much and not so well. Manbij, Afrin, and where else? Well before the US presence with bases, the Turks could not hold their border region from the Kurds.

They cannot impact deep anywhere. Their AF is not even as effective as Syria's, yet it is a much better, more advanced arm of the military. It's special forces?

They are used to doing what NATO and US troops do. They murder civilians and massacre opposition. They did little against ISIS which was a very fierce, mobile and effective military.

They do have logistical advantage and can move heavy weapons for a siege. But they are a set piece land force.

The Kurds also are quite overrated.

Erdogan knows that the notion of him holding the East is a pipedream. His FSA allies are the weakest lot in Syria.
His real fighters are those in Idlib, al Nusra and the Uyghurs.

If he intends to hold land the US has marked out in the North-east and East, he will have to move the headchoppers.
The Russians will annihilate them if they cross the zones in Idlib.

With the US vacuum the Syrians, Hezbollah, Quds, Iranian militias and the Russians will complete the war.

The French and Brits say they are staying. They should write their Last Will letters. They will be shot out of the sky and incinerated on the ground. Folly.

The pullouts from Syria and Afghanistan are severe blows to NATO as hegemonic shock troops.
This time next year we will hear and see how Russia won and NATO is gone from Eurasia.

This is also an object lesson to those nations on Russia's periphery who are flirting with the US, EU and NATO. Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan will have to recalculate.


Posted by: Red Ryder | Dec 21, 2018 5:09:03 PM | 41

@b

I think we will see many more updates such as this one, showing us who's pushing back, who's wavering, and who's simply blowing hot air. I could wish for better sources of the back story than AP and Reuters, but we must wait for better analysis I think. I'm sure I'll see it here first - thanks for your continued vigilance.

Meanwhile my guesses are that Trump holds the longest knife and will prevail in this course. And that Erdogan is not faltering as the Reuters report implies, but is simply letting players and forces adjust to the new situation. And that, regardless of the details on the ground, the US flag has been struck in Syria, irreversibly. This is a geopolitical milestone, and everything now changes from this.

Posted by: Grieved | Dec 21, 2018 5:14:15 PM | 42

@35 It has been my understanding that while the Russian forces have stepped up their air defense systems the Americans still fly freely to the north-east of the Euphrates and have not hesitated to attack SAA forces who came close to their proxies on the ground, as well as attacking the SAA when they moved toward the U.S. base at al-Tanf. If the U.S. really does evacuate their troops it will be interesting to see if they discontinue their air movements over the eastern bank of the Euphrates. mls

Posted by: mls | Dec 21, 2018 5:17:11 PM | 43

Almost all ISIS inmates left in Syria are from abroad (they had been released from Libyan, Afghan, Iraqi prisons en mass at the beginning of the war and are ready for relocation?

Who founded (USrael?) ISIS and made them lose water and oil rich territories in Syria to the PKK/YPG/SDF and what are they planning to do now?

Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Dec 21, 2018 3:05:43 PM | 23

Terrorice Europe?

Two Scandinavian backpackers hacked to death in Morocco, mother spammed with gruesome images

Posted by: Sasha | Dec 21, 2018 5:19:12 PM | 44

But how this "withdrawal" holds when new equipment is arriving to US bases in Syria?

US reinforces new base in Syria despite announcement of withdrawal

Posted by: Sasha | Dec 21, 2018 5:35:59 PM | 45

@ Kadath 39
As respects Rachel Mad Cow,MSNBC has been reading from the neo-con playbook for several years now. Pre-Iraq War,Chris Matthews was vehemently against it, but in my limited recent viewership they are silent on Syria in general. They did however have a one hour special by Richard Engle which was essentially an hour of showing the carnage and saying "look what Assad did". It was even more absurd than Fox's islamaphobic specials they ran a few times. Truly pathetic and it feels like MSNBC is hewing to the HRC model "of no one can criticize me fro the right on "national security".

Posted by: Schmoe | Dec 21, 2018 5:40:34 PM | 46

emptywheel is suggesting tom cotton as a replacement for mattis.. this is the first time i can recall ew

Posted by: james | Dec 21, 2018 5:41:33 PM | 47

my comment was chopped off... first time i can recall ew writing on foreign policy! at any rate, skip the ew comment section, as the folks at ew can completely in denial about the role the democrats have played in bringing the usa to this point in time... read @35 kadath post for greater clarity on that...

Posted by: james | Dec 21, 2018 5:43:43 PM | 48

Too many "old men who think in terms of nation states and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There is only the Federal Reserve, the BIS, IMF, WB, WTO and an entourage of multinational corporations all inextricably inter associated." as redux of Ned Beatty's soliloquy from the film Network.

These pesky wars, as one front of many fronts, are getting in the way of NWO timing. The world's major central banks are now involved in quantitative tightening and much of the liquidity that was handed out as loans will now disappear and the debt trap will now be sprung on many 'nation states' as it was in Greece. Turkey's major industries owe about 300 Billion. This while the Lira drops ever lower in relation to the Fed Reserve Note, euphemistically the USD, and will be hard pressed to pay back the less abundant, higher valued amounts at the higher interest rates of the FRN's borrowed. War, with very real deaths, continues but on another front and Trump as the front figure is the main conductor of this coming war.

Posted by: BRF | Dec 21, 2018 5:50:37 PM | 49

When David Ignatius reported that Mattis's bedtime reading was Marcus Aurelius in the original Latin, who was responsible for the mistake? (Marcus Aurelius wrote in Greek.) Ignatius, an aide of Mattis's, or Mattis himself?

Posted by: lysias | Dec 21, 2018 1:54:56 PM | 9

Explanation from an aide of Mattis: the General purchased the volume while visiting Latin America, so he always assumed that it is in Latin.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 21, 2018 5:51:32 PM | 50

What theis "withdrawal" is about....To continue causing turmoil in Syria so as to impede its rebuilt and return to peaceful normal life...This is why Israel has not said a word....

US pullout from Syria result of secret deal with Turkey, says expert

Posted by: Sasha | Dec 21, 2018 5:55:53 PM | 51

I have been away in the Scottish wilderness for a while, cut off from everything, so it with somewhat jaded joy that I come back to stunning news from this unfailingly brilliant place to hear the latest (US getting out of Syria, Mattis out, Macron on fire, Britain in an existential crisis the like of which I have neither seen nor read about).

Like a schoolkid who has absented themselves I venture back into the classroom to take my little seat, all the while carrying with me audio of howling winds and the low whistle of a friend who came to visit, an Irish instrument that so resembles native American flutes. In this Highland cabin I filled the stove with ash and oak and beech, listened to the haunting sound of the low whistle and drank whisky as I watched the snow drift down.

Posted by: Lochearn | Dec 21, 2018 6:03:22 PM | 52

The SDF (Which incorporates some turncoat ISIS members, which partly explains why there has only been slow "progress" against the last ISIS enclave in Eastern Syria, brother against ex-brother), also contains foreign mercenaries from various sources.

Posted by: stonebird | Dec 21, 2018 4:48:40 PM | 40

This is why they wear masks/balaclavas....the same way they used to do on Iraq....

US-supported militias in eastern Syria take Hayin

Posted by: Sasha | Dec 21, 2018 6:12:53 PM | 53

Josh on #35 hints at an explanation for Trumps action which is confirmed by a romanian military expert in the article http://www.voltairenet.org/article204433.html
Assuming that analysis is correct, Trumps military associates like Mattis must have known but was apparently more willing to risk american casualties.

Posted by: Peter Grafström | Dec 21, 2018 6:14:19 PM | 54

So the past 2 years of bombing and support for bombing and special forces operations in Syria, Yemen, Africa, Afghanistan and of course the ongoing genocide of the Palestinians in Israel is blamed on Trumps aids, all of whom he hired.

Whenever something positive comes out (and Trump has said he was done in Syria before only to be followed later by a barrage of missiles due to outrage over the poor babies killed in the CW attack blamed on Assad) its presented as Trump heroically goes against his aids advice and does right.

This is a common theme in MSM and almost all of the alt media now. Trumps swamp included Bolton, Barr, Devos, Pompeo, Mnuchkin, Acosta, Haspel, Ross, Mulvaney, Kushner, Pruit, Mattis. Blame them instead of the guy who hired them and has authority over them. Right.

Posted by: Pft | Dec 21, 2018 6:49:31 PM | 55

I have been away in the Scottish wilderness for a while, cut off from everything,
Posted by: Lochearn | Dec 21, 2018 6:03:22 PM | 51

I once spent a week in Glen Lyon which is not cut off from anything, there is a paved road (one-lane for two way traffic, only in Scotland!) and Royal Mail operated, but these days young people complain when there is no cell phone reception, there was a land line but our niece was could not send any pics and texts to her boyfriend. Thus she very eagerly joined me for a hike and after ascending 1000 m and getting the view of Loch Tay she immediately texted etc. But something is brewing outside quiet glens: [video of parliamentary session] The defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, says the UK will have 3,500 service personnel on standby 'to support any government department on any contingencies they may need'

Watch the situation, Lochearn, and if needed, run back to the hills.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 21, 2018 6:55:08 PM | 56

financial matters @33--

Thanks for your reply with its post-2016 info! I returned to following domestic happenings a few months prior to the 2018 election and was surprised by the gumption of the new Freshman class. There was lots of negative speculation about how AOC would become a sellout, but I'm impressed and added her twitter to my ever lengthening list. The first 2020 polls have appeared with the narrative being Biden over washed up Sanders, but the reality is the opposite. Wife and I had a dinner table discussion about that and related matters last night from the frame of Media Truth from Putin's meeting I posted. There's an ideological divide within the USA; but as AOC notes in this very informative* twitter thread:

"People are starting to realize our issues aren’t left and right, but top and bottom.

"And the just solutions will come from the bottom-up."

*--Informative due to the immoral hatred revealed, which unfortunately validates my references to Monopoly philosophy and Zerosumism. Scrooge was tame in comparison.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 21, 2018 7:03:00 PM | 57

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 21, 2018 5:51:32 PM | 49

Explanation from an aide of Mattis: the General purchased the volume while visiting Latin America, so he always assumed that it is in Latin.
Or in Latin American...
And it wasn't bedtime reading but bathroom reading.

Posted by: hopehely | Dec 21, 2018 7:11:55 PM | 58

stonebird @40--

Fortunately, the stock markets are not the economy. Trump campaigned on MAGA; the Green New Deal makes MAGA possible and as the polling I linked to shows is popular across political lines--the people know something must be done. Currently, it's the D Party Old Guard standing in the way doing R Party work. When it comes to the traditional definitions of national security and national interest, Trump was correct to say MAGA is a matter of national security. Too many Trillions have already been wasted, and we within the USA cannot afford any more of those mistakes from the past as the margin for success gets thinner daily. When I compare the directions of China, Russia and USA, the former two are rising by attaining their planned national goals, while the USA drops downward thanks to directionless policy that only supports the greed of the greedy. I know its much better for an individual to be a poor worker in China than a poor worker in the state of Georgia and too many other places--very few opportunities and almost no social support very similar to the Great Depression; but nowadays, you can't even hop a freight to go somewhere else as was possible in the '30s.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 21, 2018 7:37:52 PM | 59

Apparently, Mattis bought the book for the illustrations.

Latin America speaks Spanish and Portuguese not Latin American, which is not a language.
Plus, there are secondary languages of indigenous people, and tertiary languages like German and Italian, Japanese and Chinese as well as English.

From the "story" about Mattis, I think it is laughable. He pretended his whole life to be a Patton.
Read their career stories and it is a joke that Mattis had four-stars, as did Patton.

Posted by: Red Ryder | Dec 21, 2018 7:38:55 PM | 60

The only reading generals do is Macchhiavelli, Von Clausewitz and Superman
O yeah -- and the bible, these days.

Posted by: bjd | Dec 21, 2018 7:42:17 PM | 61

Comic Relief courtesy of the UK government:

"UK government refuses to release the documents on its 'counter-disinformation' programme linked to the Integrity Initiative. Because (don’t laugh now), it could 'undermine the programme's effectiveness'."

Craig Murray has an update on the affair--all the documents provided by Anonymous have proven genuine.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 21, 2018 8:25:24 PM | 62

Lysias, Piotr B, Hopehely, Red Ryder & others:

Maybe Mattis bought the book for interior decoration. It makes his coffee table look good. What language it's in is irrelevant.

Posted by: Jen | Dec 21, 2018 8:45:15 PM | 63

Where is the evidence of widespread support for a green new deal as pushed by a couple of people here. A poll of 966 people sorted by whether or not they are voters does not mean there is widespread support. As in most polls claiming whatever we do not know the questions that were asked or how they were framed. Thus they could have said "would you be for a new green deal if it energized the economy bringing riches to all and extremely cheap rates on power would you be for it." Until we know the full extent of this poll it's a nothing burger pushing an agenda.

Posted by: snedly arkus | Dec 21, 2018 8:49:46 PM | 64

@ financial matters # 33 with the link to the Green New Deal....thanks

The problem with the GND is that it does not seem to address the underlying fact that private finance makes all investment decisions. If they evolve to understand that, they can do all they want if it is within the public government plans for investment.

If the government controlled finance instead of the private folk I would expect there to be public input to/(control over) investment decisions.....just like the GND folks are pushing for but in a more comprehensive context and manner.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 21, 2018 9:00:16 PM | 65

The only reading generals do is Macchhiavelli, Von Clausewitz and Superman
O yeah -- and the bible, these days.
Posted by: bjd | Dec 21, 2018 7:42:17 PM | 60

A general slurps macchiato while reading The Prince of Niccolò Machiavelli.

In the history of my country there is a nice episode when one of the main generals was rousing the units before the critical battle that actually went well "In loco, spes in virtute, salus in victoria" - Here, the (only) hope (lies) in bravery, salvation in victory, which quotes Ceasar's De Bello Gallico.. Sadly, while the battle was brilliant, the war was not. Nevertheless, I would recommend Ceasar.

Ceasar was victorious, so he should be balanced with History of the Peloponnesian War of Thucidites. A terrible was in which one side lost terribly, while the other succumbed to hubris, imposed painful domination on all and sundry to be irreversibly defeated one generation after. Woe to the defeated, but the victors should be careful too.

The story of "Woe to the defeated", Vae victis, is interested too. Romans were treated mercilessly by victorious (unmitigated?) Gauls, but then see De Bello Gallico above.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 21, 2018 9:02:39 PM | 66

Five unforgettable quotes by the killer, James Mattis (He will be missed?):

>1. ‘It’s quite fun to shoot them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people.’
>2. ‘There are some assholes in the world that just need to be shot.’
>3. ‘I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I’ll kill you all.’
>4. ‘Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.’
>5. ‘There are some people who think you have to hate them in order to shoot them. I don’t think you do.’. . .here

Don't let the door hit ya, Jimbo.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 21, 2018 9:04:06 PM | 67

63--

You sound just like an D Party hack doing the work of the R Party. Must pay good.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 21, 2018 9:07:15 PM | 68

I am sure getting tired of entering my personal info each time I post a comment because the remember doesn't work...

@ karlof1 with
"
"UK government refuses to release the documents on its 'counter-disinformation' programme linked to the Integrity Initiative. Because (don’t laugh now), it could 'undermine the programme's effectiveness'."
"

They are lying through there teeth. The real problem for them is that some could end up in jail, and rightfully so. We can only hope that they take the City of London down with them.

What is their long term plan for containing the IntegrityNOTInitiative scandal? The house of cards seems to be falling and now is when we hope that the losers love their children enough to not takes us to extinction with their pride.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 21, 2018 9:10:22 PM | 69

psychohistorian @64--

It appears more people are aware of such a threat as this article notes. Pelosi's unfortunately a whore of the sort needing pasteurization, along with Feinstein.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 21, 2018 9:12:46 PM | 70

Don Bacon @66--

Mattis makes the fictional Hannibal Lecter a Prince of Peace by comparison. The end of February can't come soon enough.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 21, 2018 9:17:58 PM | 71

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 21, 2018 9:04:06 PM | 66
Five unforgettable quotes by the killer, James Mattis ...
Yep, the influence of Marcus Aurelius is all over him. Through and through.
True philosopher general indeed.

Posted by: hopehely | Dec 21, 2018 9:31:18 PM | 72

The problem with the GND being discussed here is in the Green. Any New Deal that starts with a false premise and bad science is a bad idea IMO.

That said, a New Deal that incorporates Ellen Browns and Edison/Fords ideas on public financing I am all for. Goals should be universal health care, guaranteed income and housing, vast infrastructure projects and alternative energy development. The latter two should be green in the sense of nonpolluting (Co2 is not a pollutant). Jobs are fine but with automation, AI, and robotics lets face it, a world where most people dont work except as a hobby or to live better than others is coming, as my old science teacher predicted with envy over 50 years ago. The neomalthusians and transhumanists have other ideas.

I would also devote massive resources for researching the safety of GMO , vaccines and medicines as well as upgrading climate monitoring and climate research since climate does change and we have so little understanding of it. Climate measurements are indadequate (number of weather stations in US have dropped by a factor of 3 since climate became a thing and quality is a key concern. This research needs to be free of influence from parties having an agenda (political and financial). Good luck with that.

Posted by: Pft | Dec 21, 2018 9:35:07 PM | 73

Mattis is a coward, he knows the American efforts in Syria has failed, and will go nowhere. So for him this was a great excuse and a good uportunity to resign and not share the blame for failure of his past advise and insistence to continue a lost effort. Now all the blames for loosing in Syria will go to Trump. The blame game has already started coming out of MSM and the DC swamp (you read sewer).

Posted by: Kooshy | Dec 21, 2018 9:54:32 PM | 74

Seems as though we've heard this "withdrawal" meme before. We'll see.

IMO, the key to ME peace is STILL based on liberty and justice for the Palestinian people.

Heard some noise about "The green new deal". This from The Nation magazine;

https://www.thenation.com/article/democrats-green-new-deal/

Posted by: ben | Dec 21, 2018 9:56:02 PM | 75

@ pft will the great follow on the the GND proposal

I want to add a data point to the universal health care initiative.

Because we are a society wedded to the profit motive we put it between the client and the health care provider and worse only promote "therapies" that make a profit. Let me provide my personal proof of that statement.

This week, after a 12 year journey, I can state that I have healed myself (with help) from a traumatic brain injury using neurofeedback. Neurofeedback in a non-drug, non-invasive EEG based therapy based on the mental health brain paradigm of dis-regulated neural networks. The world of Big Pharma does not want to see neurofeedback advance because it will eliminate most of them.

Some on MoA have read me writing about this before and I will do so more in some future Open Thread.....when the dust settles a bit.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 21, 2018 10:00:12 PM | 76

@1 Isn't it obvious? US forces are there to support the Kurdish forces. Training, supplying, and a little moral "stiffening".

But Turkisk forces would go in with the aim of defeating those Kurds, and then suppressing the local pop in. That requires an order of magnitude more troops.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Dec 21, 2018 10:01:41 PM | 77

One think-tanker expects problems with troop morale, which by the way was the killer that ended the stupid Vietnam War.

Trump’s sudden decisions to drawdown troops in Syria and Afghanistan that sparked Mattis’ resignation marked for perhaps the first time in American history the departure of a defense secretary in protest and adds to the overall unease that remains, experts said.
“I think it adds to a feeling that in some sense the wheels are beginning to come off of American foreign policy and national security policy,” said John Hannah, a senior counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute on foreign policy and national security in Washington.
Hannah said he thinks the Mattis resignation will inevitably affect troop morale . . . .here

That's a good thing.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 21, 2018 10:17:15 PM | 78

@47

Tom Cotton is a rabid hawk especially on Iran. If Trump choses him then this will signal what Trump meant by the next phase of the campaign after he announced a withdrawal from Syria.

I read General Jack Keane was in the running but he doesn't want the job.

That leaves Lindsey Graham and David Petraeus. Both of these might be willing to take the job, but I see Trump picking Petraeus over Graham, although Graham just visited the troops in Afghanistan; maybe he's sending a subtle hint to Trump.

If it's Cotton, we should brace ourselves for escalation with Iran.

Posted by: Circe | Dec 21, 2018 11:01:47 PM | 79

Yeah Right@76

Well there are 50K Al Nusra fighters in Idlib that Russia and Syria want out of there and Turkey is protecting. Maybe they will be on the move soon to deal with the Kurds in the NE once the US pulls out. US can pretend ignorance and then step back in again under the cover of stabilizing the region with replacement for the kurds to use against Assad and protect assets in the NE. Everyone except the Kurds is happy, almost.

Posted by: Pft | Dec 21, 2018 11:19:21 PM | 80

@46, Schmoe

Further to your point about MSNBC, I just watched Michael Moore on MSNBC being interviewed by Ali Velshi and Moore was actually advocating that the troops stay in Syria and blamed Putin for ordering Trump to do this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0SP7puk8f8) - words fail..... Michael Moore, the Anti-Iraq war activist, the Occupy Wall Street advocate, the Anti-Imperialist, has reached the terminal phase of his Trump Derangement Syndrome. His irrational hatred of Trump has just driven him to torch all of his prior Anti-War work; to betray every speech, every millimeter of film he's ever made all because he hates Trump that much and everything he has previously done can be jettisoned if it furthers this new goal.

Ugh... Is he doing this all for the money he can glean from the mainstream Media by being even more extreme than them, was he always this shallow and empty? This is what I just cant get over, do these jackanapes not understand that their words and behaviours are being recorded and people will remember it, it will haunt their futures and taint their legacies. Hating Trump is one thing (there is certainly no shortage of reasons to hate him), but I'm rethinking my entire interpretation of Moore and his career because of these constant, irrationally hateful and extreme statements. Michael Moore, Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, Rachal Maddow and Stephen Colbert can play to the crowd for now, but once Trump's term ends people will never be able to take them seriously as public figures again because of all of their delusional tirades while Trump was in office.

Posted by: Kadath | Dec 21, 2018 11:24:12 PM | 81

Don Bacon@77

Troop moral today is far different than Vietnam. Reason in no order of importance

1. Well paid volunteer army, well trained with skills transferrable to private sector
2. Limited tour length, long paid breaks between tours
3. Skype/internet access on tours to stay in touch with family firiends
4. Contractors to do much of the dirty work
5. Military glorification at home treats them as heros and plenty of discounts
6. Far fewer casualties
7. Great benefits once the leave miliitary (loans, paid university transferrable)
8. Tax benfits for companies hiring vets helps them in job market

The main negative with fewer troops in Syria or Afghanistan means there are fewer tours which means less money.

I expect they will be deployed elsewhere. Where is the big question. Like you say, moral not an issue


Posted by: Pft | Dec 21, 2018 11:30:32 PM | 82

RE: Posted by: Pft | Dec 21, 2018 11:30:32 PM | 81

This is why you should never "thank them for their service." They're selfish and/or deluded pricks. Not heroes. It's a scam from start to finish.

Posted by: flayer | Dec 21, 2018 11:34:45 PM | 83

Kadath 80 "do these jackanapes not understand that their words and behaviours are being recorded and people will remember it"
The average person that watches MSM have the memory of a goldfish when it comes to politics.

"His irrational hatred of Trump has just driven him to torch all of his prior Anti-War work"
Most that make it in politics or entertainment go with the flow - whatever will further their career. Empty people. I don't know this Michael Moor, but sounds lie he is one of this type.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Dec 21, 2018 11:48:20 PM | 84

People like Lindsey Graham simply cannot comprehend that USA is in fact a demolished country, with its last leg - the stock market - getting cut off in real time, as we speak. The implications of American equity markets collapse are momentous. The relentless year-end selling means that government revenues will be drastically reduced, by at least couple hundred billion dollars, driving US budget deficit to well in excess of $1.2T in current fiscal year. And that's in a benign case. If America slips in a recession, and has to resort to fiscal stimulus, we are talking about $1.5-2T budget shortfall. Add quickly deteriorating demographics, and "japanisation" of the USA is all but inevitable (and yes, US financial system is a dead man walking)
Trump, although not the brightest bulb, is infinitely smarter than Grahams, Rubios and Cottons of the world. He knows that it's much better to withdraw on what looks like own accord now, than being kicked out in the most disgraceful fashion upon the passage of time. Or even worse, having your troops marooned in the troubled region without any prospect of being extricated, unless on the most humiliating terms.
Whether Trump succeeds or fails in returning the troops home is irrelevant at this point. They are coming home anyway. The only question remaining is not if but when, and how.

Posted by: telescope | Dec 21, 2018 11:48:22 PM | 85

Bolton announces Trumps Africa strategy

https://thehill.com/policy/international/421179-bolton-warns-russia-china-threaten-us-in-africa

The Cebrowski plan for Latin America

http://www.voltairenet.org/article204400.html

Maybe Trump is diversyfing, scaling down in the The Middle East (a lots been accomplished already) and ramp up efforts in Africa and Latin America to counter BRICS

Posted by: Pft | Dec 21, 2018 11:57:14 PM | 86

Meant “diversifying”. Spell check hasnt been working well here since i upgraded to ios12

Posted by: Pft | Dec 22, 2018 12:00:04 AM | 87

Thanks, b.

stonebird @40
OT (apologies) Can you help with the evidence that Maria Butina was subjected to these abuses while in solitary?

Posted by: once and future | Dec 22, 2018 12:20:01 AM | 88

@ 80: Yes, agreed, my impressions on MM will change. Too bad really, that people sacrifice their credibility, based on blind hatred.

I'm speaking only of MM, the rest lost their credibility, IMO, long ago..

Posted by: ben | Dec 22, 2018 12:45:15 AM | 89

@87 once and future... first off i want to thank stonebird for there comments on this topic.. solitary confinement is inhumane.. that the usa is keen to use it in all sorts of circumstances, is a reflection of their abu ghraib, guantanemo mentality... solitary confinement is more of the same.. in a civilized world it would never be allowed to be done... but this is more exceptional nation stuff from the exceptional nation and what the world has come to expect from a country that preaches one thing while practicing something completely different..

80 kadath... michael moore has really fallen... i was unaware of this and am not tapped into the usa msm to be able to follow.. in fact, it is so depressing i have no interest in following much of anything coming out of the usa at this point...

@78 circe.. another name mentioned was this tulsi gabbard from hawaii.. i doubt it very much... the usa continues to fly way off the rails...

what is especially telling is the response from the usa on trumps decision here... caitin johnstone has a good overview on this..
Endless War Has Been Normalized And Everyone Is Crazy

Posted by: james | Dec 22, 2018 12:50:40 AM | 90

james @89 and others--

Michael Moore destroyed his credibility when he failed to denounce Obama for not jailing the Banksters and it's been downhill from there as it's been with so many of his ilk. Another case of money ruining youthful idealism.

Caitlin's on a roll and deserves a much larger audience. The propagandizers have deluded themselves via their own machinations and are now going mad.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 22, 2018 1:10:40 AM | 91

"there also a contingent of 1,100 French troops"...

You can hear me laughing after reading this.

The French empire was over a long long time ago and they still think that Syria is their colony.

France has been sending French Jihadists for regime change in Syria since 2011 and their mission has failed since Russia intervened in 2015.

France cannot even send troops to Mali - destabilized by Jihadists created by France in Libya to topple Kadhafi, without the help of the US!!!

France is a de-facto vassal state of the US since they decided to joined the NATO central command under Sarkozy who was bribed by the zionist neocons.

Posted by: Albert Pike | Dec 22, 2018 1:11:24 AM | 92

...
US can pretend ignorance and then step back in again under the cover of stabilizing the region with replacement for the kurds to use against Assad and protect assets in the NE. Everyone except the Kurds is happy, almost.
Posted by: Pft | Dec 21, 2018 11:19:21 PM | 79

I think you're right. And I hope so, too...
The Yanks should be counting their blessings. I thought it was extraordinarily generous of Putin to agree with Donald that "the US beat ISIS in Syria" considering how half-assed/limp-wristed their anti-ISIS actions were in comparison with Russia's 100+ sorties per day 24/7 for many months.
Imo, if the Yanks dream up another excuse to go back into Syria, Putin will caution against it and then make sure that none of them get out alive.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 22, 2018 1:44:00 AM | 93

I personally distinguish between Trump's decision to withdraw from Syria and his move to withdraw partially from Afghanistan. The latter is a step towards ending a brutal, illegal NATO occupation war of over 17 years. The former is also illegal but the Syrian Kurds (left wing and largely communist) are likely to be supplanted as counters to "Iran" by fascists Turkey and Israel (this has been confirmed in reports), so we're moving from tactical NATO proxies to actual NATO governments seizing Syrian land.

All of that being said, both are policy decisions that should be able to be debated freely. I can totally see why many on the anti-imperialist left welcome the decision to withdraw from Syria, I'm not entirely unsympathetic to them. It the US and international media response has been horrific. The New York Times and Guardian are basically now neconservative papers indistinguishable from the Wall Steet Journal and Daily Telegraph. Not a word of dissent is even remotely allowed or involved. The Blob has totally taken over the entirety of the liberal global establishment which sees Trump's move as "treasonous." Not looking forward to 2020 when Democrats will run on identical foreign policy platforms to Mitt Romney.

Posted by: Blooming Barricade | Dec 22, 2018 2:07:30 AM | 94

@80

Not sure if you watched when Michael Moore received the Oscar for Farenheit 9/11. Let's remember he was addressing the top elite Liberal crowd and got booed. What is it they say about prophets in their own land? Oh yeah, Jesus said: A prophet is without honor in his own country.

I actually have some sympathy for Michael Moore. Aside from being a major critic of the Bush Administration, Michael Moore was also very critical of Obama, and Hillary and was lambasted by liberal centrists and neolibs. He was considered part of the radical left and despite the success of his documentaries, he continued to be marginalized and never received the respect he deserved. In 2015, Moore was supporting Bernie Sanders, but when Bernie was railroaded, Moore who couldn't see himself voting for a Republican ever, especially a depraved billionaire whom he rightly viewed as Chaos personified felt that Hillary was the lesser evil, and from there found the respect that had been denied to him by his own side and especially after he predicted Hillary was about to lose despite the polls and Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania would deny her the Presidency. From the day his prediction materialized Democrats were in awe of his perception. Since then he exchanged integrity for their respect. The Michael Moore of 2003 would never criticize military de-escalation.

However, Moore recently released a new documentary Farenheit 11/9 wherein apparently he's critical of Democrats whom he blames for the rise of Trump.

So don't be too hard on Moore who was an outcast in liberal country for too long. Once you've earned the respect of your own and the mainstream it's not so easy to speak your truth anymore. Thanks to Trump and the Dems, Moore has been temporarily altered. But you're right, he'll look back with regret on this Syria opinion.

I can't stand Trump either, but I agree that getting out of Syria and de-escalating is a good thing...IF in fact that's what he's really up to.

Posted by: Circe | Dec 22, 2018 2:15:25 AM | 95

JR might be interested to know that Michael Moore believes that Hillary handed Trump the Presidency.

Posted by: Circe | Dec 22, 2018 2:20:02 AM | 96

Bolton’s Hawkish Syria Plan Backfired, Pushing Trump to Get Out
The national security adviser expanded U.S. goals in Syria to challenge Iran. But Trump wasn’t on board, senior officials say, and Turkey took an opportunity to push the U.S. out.

Posted by: b | Dec 22, 2018 2:23:14 AM | 97

...
Most that make it in politics or entertainment go with the flow - whatever will further their career. Empty people. I don't know this Michael Moor, but sounds lie he is one of this type.
Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Dec 21, 2018 11:48:20 PM | 83

Michael Moore has produced some brilliant anti-establishment docos focusing on gun-control (Bowling for Columbine), the US healthcare rort, the sub-prime scam, and the absence of socio-economic well-being in AmeriKKKa (Where To Invade Next?).
I'm hoping that Kadath @ #80 is kidding, but he's right about Moore being rabidly anti-Trump from the get-go.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 22, 2018 2:26:43 AM | 98

Geo-political chess. Russia, Turkey, Iran have called check and Trump is moving his pieces accordingly. I think he will pull the US out of Syria. Seems he is not as blinded by his hatred of Iran as his appointees.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Dec 22, 2018 2:37:58 AM | 99

@ b with the link about Bolton

So, does this mean that Bolton should or will resign?

I thought the update of the linked article with the statement about the Kurds from the White House official was interesting: "“They’ve done the majority of the fighting against ISIS in Syria,” one U.S. official said. “How do you treat a partner like this?”"

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 22, 2018 2:47:28 AM | 100

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