Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 12, 2019

NYT Laments U.S. Disengagement Even As There Is None

On its frontpage the New York Times delivers an utterly deranged 'News Analysis' of the possible end of the illegal occupation of east Syria by the United States military:

As U.S. Exits Syria, Mideast Faces a Post-American Era

When Turkey, Iran and Russia meet to talk about the end of the war in Syria, they do so without the United States.

Peace talks to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been frozen for years, but the long-awaited Trump plan to break the impasse has yet to arrive.

And now, despite conflicting messages about how and when it will happen, the United States is set to withdraw from Syria.

The withdrawal, which the military said began with equipment removal on Friday, is just the latest instance of a broader American disengagement from the Middle East that could have lasting effects on one of the world’s most volatile regions.

The U.S. has not, and likely will not, "disengage" from the Middle East. Its military has some 53,000 soldiers stationed in at last 27 bases in 12 Middle Eastern countries (not counting those in Syria).

Estimated US troop numbers stationed in the Middle East in 2017


Besides the troops there are a large number of civil personal supporting or replacing them:

As of July 2018 – again, excluding Afghanistan – there were 22,323 Pentagon contractors working in the CENTCOM area of operations in the Middle East including 9,762 US citizens, 12,020 third-country nationals and 541 host-country nationals. This represents a 15 per cent year-on-year increase in Pentagon contractors utilized in the region. The deployment of contractors to fulfill missions that 15 to 20 years ago would have been conducted by US troops gives the impression of a smaller American military footprint in the region.

The U.S. has large economic interests in the Middle East. The U.S. weapon sales in the region add up to more than $5 billion per year. Some 17% of U.S. oil imports, 1.75 million barrels per day, come from the Middle East. The control of the hydrocarbon fuels found in the Middle East is the official reason the U.S. imposes itself over the region. That will not change.

U.S. media coverage and foreign policy discussion is more occupied with the Middle East than with any other part of the planet:

The combined population of the 15 Middle East countries covered by this paper (414.3 million) represents slightly more than 5 per cent of the world’s total population (7.6 billion). Yet, in American political and media circles, the region is the subject of vastly more than just 5 per cent of US foreign policy discussions. Indeed, outside of North Korea, China and country-specific trade issues, an American watching the national evening news, or reading a major media outlet, might imagine that the Middle East is the entirety of US foreign policy.

To call the move of some 2 to 5,000 troops and their supporting civilian contractors from Syria and into new bases in Iraq a "disengagement" from the whole Middle East is obviously bollocks.

The Trump administration did not change the 'regime change' policy the hapless Obama administration (recommended) waged against Syria. Nor has it stopped the war on Yemen the Obama administration helped the Saudis to launch. In Syria the Trump administration is only adapting the old policy to evolving geopolitical circumstances. The small military engagement in Syria's east is ineffective for its 'regime change' aim and damages its relations with Turkey.

The NYT calls the Middle East the "the world’s most volatile regions." That may well be right. But a lack of U.S. engagement is certainly not the cause of that volatility. In fact, it is the U.S. presence and meddling on behalf of its Zionist protectorate Israel that causes the never ending wars, pain and sorrow:

I have dealt with the ME in government and business for 45 years and I have to delve deeply in my memories to find instance in which our well-meaning but clumsy efforts have not damaged the ME and the people who live there. USAID comes to mind. I remember the great re-build of the Alexandria, Egypt sewer and water system. That was a very good thing. On the other hand, think of the damage caused endlessly by the US's unquestioning support for Israel's aggressive policies and unwillingness to make any deal that is not completely weighted in their favor. Think of the death and destruction we have wrought in Iraq.

The NYT's 'analysis', and its supporting quotes, demonstrates again that the day-to-day foreign policy discussion in U.S. media has little top do with the actual observable policy, the real presence of U.S. troops and bases, with real economic relations or political commitments.

The people in the Middle East would mostly love the see a 'Post-American Era'. Unfortunately there is no sign of that. The move of some 5% of the U.S. forces in the Middle East from one Middle Eastern country into another does not indicate a new geopolitical trend.

Why is it presented as such?

Posted by b on January 12, 2019 at 17:41 UTC | Permalink

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More evidence how much Putin, Trump cares about Israel,

Trump denies reports concealed Putin meetings: We discussed Israel

Posted by: Zanon | Jan 13 2019 20:43 utc | 101

What is most noteworthy is how liberal news outlets pounced on the Syria withdrawal story with mindless zeal. One wonders when the press will get woke to the fact that Trump lies - hourly - daily. It is his way of diverting press attention from his vulnerabilities. Good to see some pundents are finally seeing this.

Posted by: Tomonthebeach | Jan 13 2019 20:43 utc | 102

Don Bacon @93

Your reply "No", but your explanation affirms your view that US military presence has no military impact.

US troops have a deterrent value that you are determined to ignore. Saying that those troops have no military value is

US troop have previously prevented Turkish attacks on Kurds; placing themselves in harms way. And Russia will not support SAA attacks on territory that might result in US casualties.

Furthermore, Syria can not stop USA from flying missions in eastern Syria because USA will not accept restrictions that might prevent them from protecting and supplying USA troops.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 13 2019 21:16 utc | 103


Pulling the Lazare article from CN seems to have been because the lede to the article implied Clinton herself was the author of the memo cited therein, when it was actually written by someone else in the State Department, then sent to Clinton for her perusal/approval.
CN is pretty meticulous when it comes to upholding journalistic standards, yet it's odd that they wouldn't just make the article's content and its source material don't seem to be in dispute.
Again, the whole thing is kinda odd and given the current peril to press freedom, also kinda troubling.

Posted by: robjira | Jan 13 2019 21:25 utc | 104

@robjira89. I already replied at length, maybe it's stuck and will show at another time. Either way I'll not do it again. Suffice to say when one side is allowed and the other moderated out of the disscussion, and/or shouted down as Hasbera for suggesting continual reposting of Ziocrime porn stories in the comments was preaching to the choir given the readership at the time, or suggesting a new way to talk about the settler state was needed to avoid the antisemite label when trying to discuss the topic with those less informed. I'd say that equals controlled. Again just my experience.

Posted by: Tannenhouser | Jan 13 2019 21:29 utc | 105

@90 William it is a very dense read, and much of it is dubious at best.

But this point is well-taken: "The fact that Israel fights upstream and RISKS much more than what it can possibly hope to gain testifies that its position on the grand chessboard has weakened."

Launching from outside of Syria.
Launching from behind the cover of civilian flights.
Launching 12 missiles and seeing 10 of them blasted from the sky.

The measure of how far Israeli freedom of action has fallen away isn't that they are still launching those missiles. It is how the Syrians can't even be bothered to laugh at how ineffectual those missile-attacks have become.

As far as the Syrians are concerned its akin to buzzing mosquitos: once you've waved them off you don't give them a second-thought.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 13 2019 21:52 utc | 106

juliania @ 34

As of 5 days ago the USS Kearsarge and its group were in Greece. The US positions in Syria are hundreds of miles from any coast so not sure why this is postulated as a backup for US forces there.

Posted by: JohninMK | Jan 13 2019 23:03 utc | 107

To this day I've never heard a coherent, honest answer to a question I've asked of quite a few American psychopaths, What are you doing in the Mideast at all?
I imagine that's a rhetorical device, because the trotskyite neoconservatives have been quite clear what their goals are. The original web site seems to be unavailable now, but you can find the documents at a site called SourceWatch. I was quite surprised when I read the original site in 2001, because it's rare for the Powers That Be to be so open about their goals.

Posted by: Procopius | Jan 14 2019 1:44 utc | 108

As a regular CN commentator I can assert the correctness of the comments glitch theory. That website’s updating software is fourth rate. The only advantage is that they don’t force you to get a Facebook or Google spyware account to have a say. I also don’t think that the Hillary article was very remarkable or subversive enough to suppress - their records have been thoroughly exposed and they will never run again. Only Trumpian hanger-ons are still obsessed with the topic.

Posted by: Anne Jaclard | Jan 14 2019 2:26 utc | 109

Procopius | Jan 13, 2019 8:44:35 PM | 107

Check out:

Posted by: William Bowles | Jan 14 2019 8:40 utc | 110

Procopius | Jan 13, 2019 8:44:35 PM | 107

PS: I have loads more links on PNAC as well as the original PNAC PDF doc if you're interested.

Posted by: William Bowles | Jan 14 2019 8:41 utc | 111

@107 JohninMK The Kearsage isn't there to fly reinforcements into Syria.

When the US Special Operations forces withdraw from Syria then other troops will be sent forward to cover for them, hopefully to deter any opportunistic attack on those withdrawing forces.

But if you bring up troops that are already in-theatre then their own bases are - of necessity - going to be left undermanned and vulnerable.

That's where the USS Kearsage can be used i.e. to backfill for those forces until the withdrawal is complete, at which point the Army boys return to their bases and the Marines are flown back to the Kearsage.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 14 2019 11:26 utc | 112

As for Consortium News, it republished the Lazare article sometime on the 13th--yesterday. Judging by commentary about the initial publication on this thread, the item was rewritten and republished, although there's no note that such was the case, and all posted comments began last night. If the article was indeed corrected then republished, the lack of notice stating such is very unsound journalism.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 14 2019 19:56 utc | 113

@98 Grieved.

My take on Russia's muted or non-response is that Israel is trying to provoke a wider conflict.
Russia is not responding because it anticipates events working in it's favor.
Similar to constant provocation from Bolton and from Ukraine.

Posted by: Jared | Jan 14 2019 20:49 utc | 114

So tiresome to read through the horrible page design
Probably a great content but I just could not bear it again...

Posted by: advisor | Jan 14 2019 22:16 utc | 115

Re: Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jan 13, 2019 10:09:54 AM | 77

Agree nobody's perfect, but at least with Tulsi you can tell she's trying and seems ultra pragmatic.

I can see her doing a Trump considering there are going to be a field of two dozen Democrats to choose from. If she can get Bernie's endorsement she's a real shot of building support through the primaries as Trump did.

Posted by: Julian | Jan 15 2019 6:15 utc | 116

From Consortuim News:

CORRECTION: The first memo discussed in this article was written by U.S. diplomat James Rubin to Hillary Clinton and not by her, as an earlier version of this article said. It has also been revised with additional information.

The Memo That Helped Kill a Half Million People in Syria; By Daniel Lazare; Consortium News; January 13, 2019

Posted by: scanalyse | Jan 15 2019 11:29 utc | 117

More evidence how much Putin, Trump cares about Israel,
Trump denies reports concealed Putin meetings: We discussed Israel
Posted by: Zanon | Jan 13, 2019 3:43:06 PM | 101

Nice try, but...
I've watched Oliver Stone's Putin Interviews several times and the most positive things Putin says about "Israel" and Jews can all be characterised as platitudes of the same variety as his tongue-in-cheek praise of that silly old fart, John McCain.
And as for Trump's so-called pro-"Israel" stance, does anyone seriously believe that Trump doesn't know how insanely bloodthirsty they are? It was entirely predictable that they would celebrate the meaningless, illegal Jerusalem 'victory' Trump bestowed upon them by slaughtering Palestinians - with the whole world watching, sickened by the madness.

It should be obvious after 70+ years of theft, mendacity and mass-murder in Jewish-Occupied Palestine, that "Israelis" are the most miserable people on the planet. So miserable, in fact, that the ONLY way they can kid themselves that their lives are 'happy' is to try to make the lives of millions of Palestinians more miserable than their own shitty lives, and gloat about it.
Happiness that ain't.
When one examines the disgustingly amoral extremes the "Israelis" are prepared to go to to inflict misery on Palestinians (in pursuit of 'happiness'), then their Dream is exposed as a 24/7 Nightmare. It's hard to imagine that they think this is a perfect environment in which to raise perfect children. But then there's no accounting for some people's 'taste' is there?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 16 2019 7:11 utc | 118

Breaking news: Suicide blast kills U.S. soldiers on patrol in Manbij.

U.S. Forces killed in Syria

First, I thought U.S. soldiers were on their way out, not on patrol. Second, if IS really did this, then it was under the direction of actors who want the U.S. to remain in Syria.

Posted by: Circe | Jan 16 2019 15:25 utc | 119

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