Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 23, 2019

When Trump Ignored Bad Advice He Enabled Progress In Syria

When bureaucrats and officials, also known as the Borg, contradict the foreign policy of the president they inevitably create chaos. We yesterday explained how that happens:

Since Donald Trump became president many of his subordinates have tried to subvert his policies. Instead of implementing Trump's idea and preferences they have tried to implement their own. Some have done so because they believed that it is the "right thing to do" while others have ignored Trump's wishes to play their own game.

Trump was smart enough to circumvent the Borg with regards to northeast Syria. This led to the removal of U.S. troops and the Turkish-Russian agreement which is an excellent outcome for all sides.


Commentator ben and others critizised yesterday's post:

b, I've been a participant at this site for 14yrs, and I don't believe I've ever seen your take on any subject more "off base", than your take on DJT.

This "man" has never been anything else but a grifter and giant con. Virtually everything he has done, he's done to enrich himself and his family. That is, besides deconstruct the U$ govt. to enrich his class of people, (the malignantly rich) by dialing back regulations that protect everyday Americans from the greed of the mega-corporations.

He's a sycophant for the corporate monsters who now own the U$A. Anything and everything he's done, isn't because he is such an egalitarian, it's for his personal enrichment, and the monsters he works for.

When they're done with him, they'll throw him under the bus, just like all the rest of us...

I agree with ben's characterization of Trump. I dislike most of his policies. But that does not change the fact that Donald Trump is the elected president of the United States and that he is thereby entitled to direct its foreign policies as he sees fit.

Ben's and my opinion about Trump do not invalidate the point I made. Trump policies, especially in international relations, are getting sabotaged or co-opted by the Borg, the unelected establishment in the various departments and think tanks. This is a dangerous phenomenon that, more or less, hinders every elected president, especially those who want to make peace. It should be resisted.

The people in leading positions of the executive work "at the pleasure of the president". Their task is to execute his policies. When they refrain from doing so or implement their own preferences they create a mess.

Consider two additional examples, both published yesterday, which describe how James Jeffrey, the Special Representative for Syria Engagement, tried to sabotage Trump's decision to leave Syria and, while doing that, misled the Kurds:

A State Department official told a senior Syrian Kurdish leader during a meeting in Washington that the United States would not fully withdraw its forces from northeast Syria and advised her administration not to engage with Bashar al-Assad’s government or with Russia.

According to two sources familiar with the Monday, October 22 meeting, a senior member of Washington’s diplomatic team is said to have become angry and told Ilham Ahmed, President of the Executive Committee of the Syrian Democratic Council, that the U.S. will not allow the SDC to arrange a deal with the Assad regime or Russia for protection against the Turkey-led attack.
SDC officials told The Defense Post that American officials in the past have promised they would not withdraw U.S. forces until a political settlement was in place to secure their future in the Syrian political system.

Trump had long announced that the U.S. military will leave Syria. He had made no promises to the Kurds. The State Department official did not do his job but contradicted Trump's policies.

Another report on an earlier State Department meeting with the Kurds paints a similar picture:

The National Interest has learned from multiple sources about tense meetings between SDC diplomats and State Department officials who oversee the Trump administration’s policy on Syria. The State Department repeatedly pushed for the SDC to work with Turkish-backed Islamist rebels while berating Syrian Kurdish officials and refusing to listen to their concerns, according to multiple sources.

One source with firsthand knowledge of the screaming session told the National Interest that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Joel Rayburn, who is a special envoy for Syria, yelled at SDC officials and broke a pencil in a translator’s face. Two sources with secondhand knowledge confirmed this version of events.

“[Rayburn] loves the Syrian Islamist groups,” one of the three sources said. “He thinks they can counter Iran. He is dreaming.”

“He is pushing [the SDC] to meet with jihadists,” the source added.

To tell the anarcho-marxist YPG/PKK Kurds to unite with Erdogan's Jihadis is an absolutely crazy idea. Neither the Kurds nor Erdogan would ever agree to a partnership. These were impossible policies. They made no sense at all.

Jeffrey and his shop clearly worked against Trump's orders and against U.S. interests. Jeffrey clearly favors Turkey where he once worked as U.S. ambassador and, above all, Israel:

In addition to the uptick in tense verbal exchanges, the three different sources described to the National Interest how State Department officials attempted to condemn the brutal murder of Kurdish-Syrian politician Hevrin Khalaf only to have their efforts waylayed by Ambassador James Jeffrey, who oversees anti-ISIS efforts. Jeffrey blocked the statement, they said.
Now, even as U.S. troops are stepping aside to allow Turkey to attack U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces, Jeffrey’s team is floating plans to peel off Arab components of the Syrian Democratic Forces to build a counter-Iran force far from the Turkish border.

It is Jeffrey who is pressing for a continued U.S. occupation of Syria's oilfields. These are not Trump's policies, but contradictions to them.

Aymenn Al-Tamimi makes a similar point:

When [Trump in December 2018] told his advisers that he wanted to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, he meant it. The message should have been clear: devise an orderly withdrawal plan.

But that is not what happened. Instead, efforts and attention were geared towards U.S. forces remaining indefinitely in Syria.

One can criticize Trump for not selecting advisors and envoys who follow his directions. But Trump is a New Yorker businessman and not a politician with decades of experience in Washington. He does not know who he can trust. He has to proceed by trial and error until he finds people who are willing to go work with him against those permanent powers that usually drive U.S. foreign policy.

In a congress hearing yesterday James Jeffrey admitted (vid) that Trump did not consult him before his phone call with Erdogan.

By going off-script in that phone call and by greenlighting the Turkish invasion Trump achieved - despite the resistance within his own administration - a win-win-win-win situation in Syria:

Erdogan could show that he was fighting against the PKK terrorists and prevented their attempts to become a proto-state. Trump could hold his campaign promise of removing U.S. troops from useless foreign interventions. Syria regained its northeast and the important economic resources of that area. Russia gained global prestige and additional influence in the Middle East.

We will have to wait for Trump's (and Putin's) memoir to learn how much of this has been coordinated behind the scenes.

I for one count this as a major foreign policy achievement for Trump and I am happy with this outcome.


Posted by b on October 23, 2019 at 15:23 UTC | Permalink

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Certainly the people appointed by a president are not merely proxies for the president. They are expected to have their own minds and agendas to some extent. This should not run to the extent of subverting the president, but it often has, if not always. At the same time, it is reasonable for appointees and beaurocrats to attempt to subvert the president if the president is clearly wrong. The big problem is that such subversion is not only commonplace, but is not typically for good reasons.

Posted by: paul | Oct 23 2019 15:39 utc | 1

Yes, it was disturbing yesterday to observe a strain in the comments that were diatribes against Trump's character--a vehemence to dismiss or heavily discount Trump's every move. If this is the continued attitude it's logical to expect an equal. opposite reaction from Trump supporters, that is expect a self-defeating lose of votes for opposing candidates. People take their heroes to heart notwithstanding too many are often miserable characters.

Posted by: Lawrence Magnuson | Oct 23 2019 15:40 utc | 2

Lets now see how jackrabbit will counter argue b's analysis point by point in an effort to convince us its all KABUKI. But then again why not preach to his own choir at his new blog where folks can revel in Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt? One wonders..

Posted by: Lozion | Oct 23 2019 15:58 utc | 3

I think the same is happening in Kiev and Ukraine.

The senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine said Tuesday he was told release of military aid was contingent on public declarations from Ukraine that it would investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election, contradicting President Trump’s denial that he used the money as leverage for political gain.

Who told him? Some State Dept. apparatchik? Unless it was from Trump from Trump's mouth, then it's hearsay and evidence of nothing whatsoever.

Acting ambassador William B. Taylor Jr. testified behind closed doors in the House impeachment probe of Trump that he stands by his characterization that it was “crazy” to make the assistance contingent on investigations he found troubling.
Who says the assistance was contingent on investigations? And what was troubling about the investigations? If it had been Trump who'd paid for opposition research by a foreign govt. or ic the demands for impeachment would have been even shriller.
Upon arriving in Kyiv last spring he became alarmed by secondary diplomatic channels involving U.S. officials that he called “weird,” Taylor said, according to a copy of his lengthy opening statement obtained by The Washington Post.
Well, there you have it. The State Dept going outside regular channel and talking to who? Would intervention by Giuliani be described as "secondary diplomatic channels". Nah, so it's State Dept. officials. Time to clear out Soggy Bottom!

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Oct 23 2019 16:04 utc | 4

This seems relevant:

The treason of the intellectuals & The Undoing of Thought

Also Pepe has a new one:

Burn, Neoliberalism, Burn

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 23 2019 16:06 utc | 5

yeah, and it's terrible having a stupid boss.. I keep seeing that image of him mocking the handicapped in a wheel chair for Christ sake! Or the rally I attended in 2016 where family members of violent crimes by illegals were put on stage to bemoan their experiences in front of a crowd demanding red meat. And now, take the oil, a shoplifters take on how to conduct foreign policy of the United States.
Most disturbing to watch is apparently no body knows what is right and what is wrong anymore.

Posted by: George | Oct 23 2019 16:08 utc | 6

I'm reminded in b's description of Trump's methods of choosing his subordinates of FDR's method in facing the swamp of the depression. That is, he was described to be throwing everything against a wall and seeing what would stick.

Then too, the brief interview with Lavrov that karlof1 posted, in which Lavrov gave two examples from recent history has stuck in my mind - the first, that leaving the White House Obama created malignant traps for the incoming administration, and the second that one can have an enemy as far as policy goes, yet a cordial friendship when it comes to face to face relations - and the example he chose was Kissinger. In whose case we could, as b has said above, say all sorts of defamatory things rightly but that would not serve the overall purpose of the diplomatic process. It's a case of 'love your enemy' because even your enemy has wisdom.

I was going back to earliest biblical history to respond to Circe's appellation of 'snake' because I had to look up the Septaguint greek description of the serpent in the garden, which is "phronimotatos", meaning most wise, most mindful,showing presence of mind. The singular thing about an Orthodox Christian perspective, which the Russian leadership has, is how the term "love your enemy" is interpreted diplomatically speaking. Surely the snake in both Eastern and Western Christian understanding is the embodiment of evil, yet his attribute is that he is the most mindful of all creatures.

And, not to be ignored is the Chinese symbol of the dragon - powerful, mindfully wise, so that all born in the year of the dragon have access to that symbolic power. Not very humbly I reveal that I myself was born in such a year ;)

Posted by: juliania | Oct 23 2019 16:13 utc | 7

BTW, With reference to Trump's character, i'm hoping that Trump is really really vindictive particularly when Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, etc. turn up in Washington after Brexit, cap in hand begging on their knees for a lousy trade deal that will fuck over the British and Trump tells them to "fuck off, you should have thought about that before you and MI-6 started plotting against me with Fusion-GPS, Christopher Steele, the SBU and the Ukrainian Govt". He would be my hero for life. And who could deny that he has first-rate principles.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Oct 23 2019 16:19 utc | 8

b wrote "One can criticize Trump for not selecting advisors and envoys who follow his directions. But Trump is a New Yorker businessman and not a politician with decades of experience in Washington. He does not know who he can trust. He has to proceed by trial and error until he finds people who are willing to go work with him against those permanent powers that usually drive U.S. foreign policy."

This statement is correct. We learned today that Pelosi and Schiff met the King of Jordan to purposely undermine Trump's order to withdrawal troops out of Syria - "The U.S. Congressional delegation kept trying to get the King to agree or state that he disagrees with President Trump’s move of removing U.S. troops and their involvement. Statements like “You are a neighboring nation, you must disagree with the unexpected and reckless withdrawal of our presence” or “The American people feel that our removal of troops causes instability in the region, do you agree?”. His Highness was getting agitated as they kept trying to get him to say something he didn’t agree with. They noticed he was getting agitated so they started appeasing him. It was very awkward."

It's not only the bureaucrats but it's the Lefties and Righties aka the UniParty in congress who are also undermining Trump. We now have Mitch McConnell promoting a resolution to keep troops in Syria and Afghanistan. The loss in off the book revenue to these so-called congressional leaders must be ginormous. Or they fear sunlight on their raping and pillaging of U.S. resources for like forever now.

It's unfathomable to me that these very same UniParty leaders never once held a vote let alone hearings on attacking Syria. There was no discussion or debate of any kind. They just did it. These people usurped power and wreaked havoc all over the world and for what? A dollar or two. How sick is that?!!

In the end, it wouldn't surprise me one bit that we learn a foreign entity indeed infiltrated the U.S. government at every level and took the mantle of power. Circe's ZOA theory may just prove to be true.

karlof1 - I'm just now getting around to reviewing your articles. Hope to have comment soon.

Posted by: h | Oct 23 2019 16:27 utc | 9

Finally, for the moment, I'm so glad to see how "the best prepared presidential candidate ever" and many other Clintonists still haven't managed to work out how Trump has fucked them over. With HRC being so obviously stupid, I'm glad more than ever that HRC lost. ROFLOL.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Oct 23 2019 16:27 utc | 10

thanks b... i agree - this change in usa's with regard to the kurds and syria is very positive.. i think trump needs to be given credit for it on some level.. to me it looks like usa foreign policy with regard to syria is one big quagmire.. if a leader - trump, or whoever, has the ability to untangle any of it, i am sure that is in no small part to having to go up against the neo cons who want perpetual war 24-7... trump as i see it has never been part of the political establishment which is a good thing and one of the reasons i would have voted for him... all the rest of the hacks have worn a deep groove in political bullshite and there is way too much of that for everyone today, especially in the usa.. trump is a real bimbo too, but i think he deserves credit here for the change on syria..

Posted by: james | Oct 23 2019 16:28 utc | 11

"I agree with ben's characterization of Trump. I dislike most of his policies. But that does not change the fact that Donald Trump is the elected president of the United States and that he is thereby entitled to direct its foreign policies as he sees fit."

Geez guys, mighty tepid here. Nobody's looking for a swooning admission of 'misunderestimation' but come on, not only should Trump be allowed to conduct foreign policy 'the way he sees fit', the way he saw fit in this instance was dead-on. Clearly this is more than about him having his own way over a recalcitrant bureaucracy. Of course it is that too. The soundness of his anti-establishment judgement was amply demonstrated under field conditions.

What other than debacles has Richard Haas presided over since he took the CFR's helm in 2003? Can anyone name one foreign policy victory? The paradox is that the declared Forces of Order have a long legacy of delivering chaos, while Trump is tagged with being the bull in the china shop. Shambolic by whose measure? The hapless careerists? Certainly not be the measure of success.

Furthermore, the Orange Boor displayed the ability to play a subsidiary role, hardly in keeping with the megalomania portrayals that routinely pollute MSM. The Russian stooge slur has deterred Trump from being the foreign policy POTUS he wanted to be. Term 2 may see a more assertive Trump in that arena.

Posted by: FSD | Oct 23 2019 16:33 utc | 12

Now is the time for Trump to declare that he supports Medicare for All and will introduce it if re-elected. That would be the end of the corporate Democrats and rightly so.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Oct 23 2019 16:34 utc | 13

B, as a footnote to your excellent article, yesterday SANA once again asserted the US was in the process of transporting "hundreds" of Daesh detainees to Iraq by helicopter. "Dozens" from al-Houl Camp, 230 other foreign terrorists from al-Malkiya prison to al-Shadadi prison in Hasaka, (presumably a staging area for withdrawal to Iraq). Mums a word from the mainstream media, and Trump appears to be unaware. One can only hope that Russian intelligence reaches Trump to expose the deep state betrayals intended to continue the regime-change wars.

Posted by: mrr52 | Oct 23 2019 16:37 utc | 14

I agree b. But the fact remains....Trump needs to spell it out. Is he in favour of the SDC making a deal with Assad/Russia or not? As things stand now nobody in Washington will acknowledge the Syrian government's existence.

Posted by: dh | Oct 23 2019 16:46 utc | 15

I see Trump as applying the Shock Doctrine to America which will result in a culling of the rich herd.

It will be interesting to see if this process will result in a full revision of the Western social contract of private finance, private property and ongoing inheritance.

Trump is responding to the realities of China rising and Might-Makes-Right no longer working but I still see the picture of Trump wielding that baseball bat like a mafia don and wonder if the top/bottom structure of our Western world will still be in place when the dust settles.

I do believe that my opinion that by this time next year that the world situation will be totally changed is proceeding as I have written about before......I am glad to be alive to watch with my mini cultural anthropologist hat on

Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 23 2019 16:48 utc | 16


usa not acknowledging syria and assad is classic ostrich with head in the sand... except in this case the ostrich is not free of what it accuses the other of being.. erdogan took the same position since day one, and i don't think he has changed either...

Posted by: james | Oct 23 2019 16:53 utc | 17


The Assad as 'brutal dictator' is so entrenched in their minds they can't consider any alternative. Imagine what would be the reaction if Trump was to send an envoy to Damascus.

Posted by: dh | Oct 23 2019 16:59 utc | 18

Just saw this - Trump announces 'permanent ceasefire' in Syria between Turkey and Kurds; lifts sanctions on Ankara -

Posted by: h | Oct 23 2019 17:00 utc | 19

Investigations are troubling? Why does Taylor think he’s an expert on what is a DOJ investigation? Is Taylor a person of interest in the DOJ investigation?

Posted by: Fly | Oct 23 2019 17:23 utc | 20


Anyone who refers to Trump as "Drumpf" confirms their mental level is equal to a fifth grader. Were you the kid that got bullied for being fat or ugly, or were you the kid bullying others for being fat or ugly?? Typical libtard childish mental abilities on full display.

Posted by: MK | Oct 23 2019 17:25 utc | 21

h @9--

Thanks very much for that report from Jordan about the antics of the Deep State's servants. That example and the many others since the outing of DNC's malfeasance during the 2016 primary process provide further evidence backing my longstanding argument regarding CIA in collusion with the Current Oligarchy's capture of the Executive, which goes mostly unnoticed when the POTUS is one of their creations--cretins that stretch back almost 40 years now. To their credit, many US citizens are aware of what Trump labeled The Swamp, and his vow to drain it garnered him votes. On the previous thread, flankerbandit made a comment about actions having differing magnitudes of importance, which is in line with one of Chomsky's observations about how a little difference between potential POTUS can have a vast effect on those subjected to its foreign policies, often equating to life and death.

Philip Giraldi's article, "A Call for a Coup Plus a Week Like No Other for Tulsi Gabbard" touches on the subject of b's last two items while highlighting the antics of a few members of the Forces of Reaction who remain drunk on the Imperial Elixir of unilateralism and quest for Full Spectrum Dominance. What becomes apparent is the fracture within the America First Quasi-fascist faction within the Current Oligarchy and National Security State--the one still fantasizing that attaining Full Spectrum Dominance is still possible and one that realizes that's no longer attainable and is becoming an embarrassing burden alienating what were once allies. And those clefts are present within both factions of the Duopoly. Ultimately, the bureaucracy is still filled with those it recruited to enact the policy goal of Full Spectrum Dominance and that's no longer Trump's policy goal as it conflicts with his MAGA vision.

As with corporate capture of the regulatory agencies, it will take time to rid the bureaucracy of the pro-war faction; but which is more important to purge first? IMO, the pro-war faction must go first, and that means lots of turnover in Congress, too.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 23 2019 17:32 utc | 22

Trump's withdrawal from Syria further highlights the fact that his election was the ultimate Black Swan event for all of the kleptocrat statists in DC and the EU.

But his refusal to engage militarily with Iran is what really has the MIC in a lather.

So now all of the neocon neolib chickenhawks are coming out of their rat holes in broad daylight. That's a good thing. Makes them easier to spot.

From a pure politics perspective, it will serve Trump well in the flyover states 12 months from now. Because those states are where most of the troops come from. It makes a lot of military wives and mothers, sisters and brothers, very happy.

Trump is quite aware of that reality.

Posted by: Genaro | Oct 23 2019 17:34 utc | 23

MK @22--

Your use of "libtard" puts you in the same class as the person you addressed.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 23 2019 17:36 utc | 24

Even a broken clock is right twice a day. You've got to give Trump some credit for getting this one right, by accident or by outwitting his entourage.

I don't think the swamp is being drained. It looks like it's overflowing.

Maybe the White Helmets can relocate to the Ukraine to rescue the Azov Battalion and supply the moderate Nazi's with humanitarian aid and left over arms supplies. Maybe that will get them a Nobel Peace Prize more deserved than Barack Obama.

With the latest 4.5 million dollars their travel expenses have been covered by the American taxpayers.

Just watch out for anti-aircraft missiles from the Ukrainian army. You don't want to end up as number 3, after Siberian Airlines and Malaysian Airlines.

Posted by: Symen Danziger | Oct 23 2019 17:47 utc | 25

My take isn’t radically different from b’s, but I think he still gives Trump too much credit for coherence and agency.

Trump just now in his televised remarks again proudly claimed the U.S. will keep a few troops in country to “protect” Syria’s oil. It’s not worth spending too much effort figuring out exactly what he means, since he probably doesn’t know himself, and the Syrian government may not permit a token force to deny them a whole sector of the country for long (I hope). But the words came out of his mouth, not the Borg’s.

Trump’s weakness is proving salutary in this case, as more effectual actors move Syria a notch toward normality, but I don’t see very much actually being accomplished by him.

Posted by: David G | Oct 23 2019 17:51 utc | 26

I had to look up the Septaguint greek description of the serpent in the garden, which is "phronimotatos", meaning most wise, most mindful,showing presence of mind.
And, not to be ignored is the Chinese symbol of the dragon - powerful, mindfully wise
Posted by: juliania | Oct 23 2019 16:13 utc | 7

Jesus spent many years in India, and the description you cite of the serpent as "most wise, most mindful" would almost certainly relate to a (human) tribe called the Naga, who lived in India in the time of the Buddha and were devoted followers of the Buddha. Later scholars in Sri Lanka several hundred years later did not know what the Nagas were and assumed them to be some kind of very wise higher being living in the sea, with a bodily form like that of a serpent. Naga is commonly but wrongly translated in English as "snake" or "serpent". Naga was also used by the Buddha as a symbol of the supreme wisdom.

A connection also of possible interest was the Greek ambassador Megasthenes, who was in India as Ambassador to the court of Chandragupta. The passage you refer to should have been much earlier, but Megasthenes wrote extensively about his experiences in India - rather tenuous but perhaps a subsequent Greek translation of the passage could have been influenced by this, and of course the meaning would be linked to the deeper meaning of the tree of knowledge.

I am not sure about the Chinese conception of the dragon, but if I am not mistaken it is a synthesis of two strands, one being the same strand from the Nagas, and the second coming from an older and native Chinese mythological tradition.

Posted by: BM | Oct 23 2019 17:52 utc | 27

ref Trump hoping for permanent ceasefire, that's a nice kick in the butts of the Frenchies and Eurocrats. Listen Frau Von der Leyen, you and your paralyzed cronies!

Posted by: Mina | Oct 23 2019 17:59 utc | 28

paul | Oct 23 2019 15:39 utc | 1 says:

'At the same time, it is reasonable for appointees and beaurocrats to attempt to subvert the president if the president is clearly wrong.'

No Paul, it is not reasonable. It is not the way an organization, any organization, is supposed to work.
If one disagrees, one argues his point, but when the decision is made one either follows the decision, in good faith, or leaves.

To do otherwise is to destroy the system. You 'kill the goose that lays the golden egg'!

The loss of U.S. power and prestige in the world is, to a significant degree, a direct result of too many people subverting and sabotaging governance systems, looking for short term gains for themsleves, while ensuring only long term pain for the country as a whole.

Posted by: dh-mtl | Oct 23 2019 18:02 utc | 29

b is an amazing journalist, I have no idea how he can manage to gather all the information and produce so many excellent reports on such a regular basis. And he also runs a great site that regularly offers remarkably insightful comments. Many thanks.

Posted by: Perimetr | Oct 23 2019 18:03 utc | 30

As always b, thanks for the fair appraisal of my comments, and the therapy provided.

As I've stated before, When DJT FULLY withdraws U$ troops from Syria, or any other place around the globe, then, and only then, will I change my assessment of DJT.

In the meantime, the damage this regime is doing to the rules and regulations domestically,
that protect the American public from the greed and avarice of our mega-corps is a nightmare. They are poisoning our air and water, at a pace never seen, in the history of this nation.

And all because of the regulatory rollbacks of one DJT.

Again b, thanks for the therapy..

Posted by: ben | Oct 23 2019 18:07 utc | 31

If Turkey stays in the area it just took, including control of a long stretch of the highway and the ability to cut off points east at will, is it really still “win-win-win-win”?

Between that, and Idlib, and possible continued SDF/U.S. control of agricultural and petroleum areas, and Al-Tanf, it just seems that – even as real progress is undoubtedly happening – the conditions for Syria to begin meaningful, nation-wide reconstruction keep receding toward the horizon. When will they get there?

I think we may be seeing the limits of Russian support: Moscow was not going to tolerate Salafist headchopping heaven reigning in Syria. But truly putting the country fully back on its feet would mean confronting Turkey and the U.S., who will continue with their malicious designs on a more a limited scale, even after their main gambit has been defeated, and Russia doesn’t seem to see that final step as vital enough to its interests to take on that fight.

I hope I’m wrong.

Posted by: David G | Oct 23 2019 18:11 utc | 32

I appreciate the Saker's take on this, and find it consonant with those of Magnier, Robert Fisk, and others.

What these share is a general recognition that this has been a particularly impressive triumph of President Putin.

John Helmer, in the past few articles, offers a more critical view of Putin, and suggests that at least Shoigu and perhaps Lavrov feel he has given Erdogan too much leeway, both in Idlib, and perhaps even more consequentially here.

Helmer is not in the middle east, but he is in Russia, and his local knowledge and generally anti-imperialist bent (as I read him) make him a persuasive voice.

Any thoughts from some of our distinguished barflies--Karlof1, Don Bacon, Grieved, Peter AU, bemildred?

Posted by: Paul Damascene | Oct 23 2019 18:13 utc | 33

Trump claims remaining US forces in Syria are "protecting" Syria's oil from ISIS. He's said this loudly and repeatedly. Is this an underhanded scheme to keep US troops in Syria?

On the contrary, this is undermining future efforts by the deep state to keep remaining US troops there. Trump is not as stupid as the TDS folks imagine him to be and so he knows he will have to trick the deep state at least one more time to finally remove the last of the US forces. When the dust from the Turks & Kurds squabble settles and the SAA has the area stabilized and can refocus attention elsewhere, and conditions make it clear there is no chance for ISIS to take the oil fields again, then Trump can do some more foreign policy by Twitter, bypassing the establishment scum again, and announcing that he has succeeded in protecting the oil and now Syria can take responsibility for it. The establishment can squawk and rend their clothes and rip at their hair in frustration, and pretend that it is all a huge surprise, but the Pentagon will have little choice but to get the rest of the way out of Syria.

The point here is that Trump is very clearly defining what the US military's remaining job is in Syria now. This allows him to say when that job is over. We know that stupidity and incompetence is rife in America, so Trump has to keep it simple, but now nobody can pretend that they don't know what is coming next, even if they plead stupidity and incompetence.

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 23 2019 18:21 utc | 34

Not certain who this fellow is but damn if he's not spilling some facts about Obama/Kerry/McGurk and the re branded PKK. A quick 4 minute vid by the Hudson Institute. It's making the rounds -

Posted by: h | Oct 23 2019 18:23 utc | 35

The State Dept is a collection of very corrupt interests.
That’s why they’re fighting back.
On the take to the bone.

I disagree with the slurs on Trump’s character, which never seem to be substantiated. If you had Batman you’d complain he was a millionaire. Envy is the most useless sin.
But learn the hard way.

Meanwhile the GOP - having a leader - finds their balls.

Posted by: vxxc | Oct 23 2019 18:24 utc | 36

I've said it before, and it bears repeating:
How often have Cabinet level positions in previous administrations, changed hands?
The reality is that Trump has been doing "Apprentice" like machinations even at the rarefied level of the US bureaucracy.
Some of it is absolutely due to his being an outsider: no operational political experience or connections beyond being a money man.
Some more of it is either ideological or personality: Democrats and people who don't like him as a person or his style.
But a lot of it is the American bureaucracy is only somewhat less inbred and self-seeking as the last generation Soviet bureaucracy:
Borg, Deep State, whatever you want to call it.
As an example, I've worked up the list of National Security Advisors since the creation of the role, and their tenures:

NSA____________Start____End______Days In Office
McGeorge Bundy____1/20/1961____2/28/1966____1865
Walt W. Rostow_____4/1/1966____1/20/1969____1025
Henry A. Kissinger__1/20/1969____11/3/1975____2478
Brent Scowcroft_____11/3/1975____1/20/1977____444
Zbigniew Brzezinski_1/20/1977____1/21/1981____1462
Richard V. Allen____1/21/1981____1/4/1982____348
William P. Clark____1/4/1982____10/17/1983____651
Robert C. McFarlane_10/17/1983____12/4/1985____779
John M. Poindexter__12/4/1985____11/25/1986____356
Frank C. Carlucci___12/2/1986____11/23/1987____356
Colin L. Powell_____11/23/1987____1/20/1989____424
Brent Scowcroft_____1/20/1989____1/20/1993____1461
W. Anthony Lake_____1/20/1993____3/14/1997____1514
Samuel R. Berger____3/14/1997____1/20/2001____1408
Condoleezza Rice____1/22/2001____1/25/2005____1464
Stephen Hadley______1/26/2005____1/20/2009____1455
James L. Jones______1/20/2009____10/8/2010____626
Thomas E. Donilon___10/8/2010____7/1/2013____997
Susan Rice__________7/1/2013____1/20/2017____1299
Michael Flynn_______1/20/2017____2/13/2017____24
H.R. McMaster_______2/20/2017____4/9/2018____413
John R. Bolton______4/9/2018____9/10/2019____519

Posted by: c1ue | Oct 23 2019 18:25 utc | 37

Lindsey Graham met with Trump over the weekend and said that he was now "optimistic" that the US could see "historic progress" in the ongoing Syria campaign. Graham completely reversed his ferocious opposition to the withdrawal announcement after a brief 1 hour meeting with Trump.

Why?? What does warhawk Graham know that we don't know??

Today, Graham issued a statement that outlined what he thinks should now take place in Syria. The question is: Did Trump agree with any of these items to persuade Graham that he was making the right decision. This is a CRUCIAL QUESTION because in Graham's statement he outlines plans for a "safe zone monitored by international forces (not Russian and Turkish), a no-fly zone" over the n-east Syria, continuing sanctions on Turkey, continuing support for the Kurds (SDF) and US control over the oil fields....


So either Trump bamboozled Graham or Trump is duping the people who think he wants to end the war and withdraw.

Which is it??

Posted by: plantman | Oct 23 2019 18:27 utc | 38

It's not like there's a personal grudge against Trump, but that the consensus among the American elite towards the foreign policy doesn't exist anymore:

Anybody but Bernie—or Warren: Unable to deal with the declining appeal of centrism in their party, moneyed Democrats are fantasizing about imaginary presidential candidates.

Obama was the last "consensus POTUS".

Posted by: vk | Oct 23 2019 18:35 utc | 39

Of the "short" timers on the list:
Scowcroft was cut short by Carter getting elected, but he served a 2nd term under Bush I.
Richard Allen caught fronting for Japanese corporations.
Poindexter died.
Carlucci had to become Secretary of Defense due to Iran-Contra.
Powell was turfed out by Clinton end of 2nd term.
James L Jones was hated by all of Obama's staff.

Trump will have had as many NSAs in his 1 term than the previous 3 Presidential terms, or any 3 Presidential terms going back to the mid-80s.

You're Fired!

Posted by: c1ue | Oct 23 2019 18:38 utc | 40

juliania | Oct 23 2019 16:13 utc | 7

... Septaguint greek description of the serpent in the garden, which is "phronimotatos", meaning most wise, most mindful,showing presence of mind. ...

Most helpful. Thanks.

Posted by: chu teh | Oct 23 2019 18:40 utc | 41

Paul Damascene:

Helmer is OK, I read his articles, he can be very informative, but he has his issues too, and an audience to feed. I can say the same about the other people you mention. I read them all.

The problem in Syria was how to shoehorn the US out and get Assad back in control. Turkey was the obvious tool to do it, once you knew the situation. Like Iran was the right tool to back US off in the Strait of Hormuz, Kim the 3rd in Korea, they had the leverage, they were not Russia. Erdogan, Trump, and Assad all for different reasons would benefit, if it was done right. It's still playing out, and there is a lot of anger and thrashing about.

Yeah, I give Putin and his minions a lot of credit for seeing it and making it happen. I can't imagine any US pol getting their snout out of the trough long enough to even notice. I wouldn't know where to begin.

So far, it would seem to have gone pretty well, but it's not over yet.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 23 2019 18:41 utc | 42

“The government of Turkey informed my administration that they would be stopping combat and their offensive in Syria, and making the ceasefire permanent,” Trump said.

I'm uncertain what is actually agreed. The Turks are going to stop on the line they've reached, and the Kurds are going to withdraw their military from the 30 Km zone, or are the Turks allowed to occupy the full 30km zone? The latter would be very grave.

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 23 2019 18:45 utc | 43

"So either Trump bamboozled Graham or Trump is duping the people who think he wants to end the war and withdraw.

Which is it??" --plantman @39

Trump obviously "bamboozled Graham".

Trump's actions so far have already dramatically reduced America's footprint in Syria and removed one of the major impediments to Syria's reunification and return to civic order. In which way do you imagine this serves the interests of the war pigs?

Just a reminder, but Graham is up for reelection in 2020, and a primary challenge could sink him. That might not have been something that Trump would have thought much of a couple years ago, but I'll bet he now knows about how reassuring a Senator that they won't get primaried if they play along will put a smile on their faces.

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 23 2019 18:46 utc | 44

@27 /33 david g... i liked what you had to say and share the same concerns @33... thanks..

@34 Paul Damascene.. i guess i am not a distinguished barfly, lol, but i will read his latest and chime in when i get a chance.. helmer is a canuck i believe.. he moved to russia many years ago and has remained their since.. he has an unique perspective.. i think he is more of an outsider to russian politic, but i could be wrong..

@39 plantman.. graham is a loon... example - "“It is imperative we continue to partner with Kurdish forces to prevent ISIS from coming back. I do not trust or believe that Turkey, Russia, or Assad have the capability or the desire to protect America from radical Islamic threats like ISIS." really stupid shit.. the guy is wacko..

Posted by: james | Oct 23 2019 18:54 utc | 45

@ 44 laguerre.. helmer is saying this in his article from yesterday "The practical result is that Russia accepts that the Turkish capture of Tal Abiad and Ras-Al-Ain since October 9 will not be reversed. This territory will thus be added to the Turkish hold on Afrin and Idlib in Syria’s northwest. Shoigu told reporters there was no discussion of how long the Turkish forces will occupy these areas. This is a major Russian concession to the Turkish demand for permanent military occupation and partition of Syria.

The Russians believe this concession is worth making to the Turks so long as the Americans are forced out; this is the message Putin has relayed to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad." i haven't finished reading it yet..

here's helmers article from yesterday..


Posted by: james | Oct 23 2019 18:57 utc | 46

@ Bemildred 43:
Thanks for this.
As you say, everyone has issues. I actually find it useful to consider Helmer's demurs, insofar as I have been so far inclined to see this a massive accomplishment of Russian statecraft. In terms of months, I can see why Shoigu might weary of Turkey's double games, but over the course of even a few years, it is entirely possible that Turkey emerges as a fully integrated member of the BRI and Eurasia, and arguably the one country as Eurasian as Russia itself is, by way of geography.

Posted by: Paul Damascene | Oct 23 2019 19:04 utc | 47

I am inclined to think the barfly confusion concerning Syria is the result of a lack of foreign policy topics tabulated against the end goal for each topic? How can anyone know if someone is doing a good or poor job in any of the departments of government that matter unless they at least know the goal?

The problem in obtaining agreement on this list, is government secrecy, not foreign policy, since US foreign policy is not disclosed to governed voting deplorable Americans.

Posted by: snake | Oct 23 2019 19:06 utc | 48

i don't agree with helmers take in his latest article... he leans too heavily on kalins inteview with the pakistan agency.. turkey has to abide by point 1 in the 10 point agreement... "“Syria must be liberated from illegal foreign military presence. We believe that the only way to achieve strong and long-lasting stability in Syria is to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. This is our principled position, and we have discussed it with the President of Turkey. It is important that our Turkish partners share this approach. The Turks and the Syrians will have to protect peace on the border together, which would be impossible without mutually respectful cooperation between the two countries." that is the nuts and bolts to it as i see it..

Posted by: james | Oct 23 2019 19:07 utc | 49

Events move quickly, analysis can go stale quickly. Just notified Trump now says troops staying in Syria to "protect the oil"

Can I just suggest that the Borg you mention is actually the hired help, policies are dictated from the imperial oligarchs. For example, Kegan family members attend strategy sessions at the Pentagon.

There is one and only one Western empire, the "deep state" is multinational not just in the US.

Posted by: Babyl-on | Oct 23 2019 19:07 utc | 50

I'm gonna make this simple. For Everyone.
Before doing so I'd like to once again thank *b* for his work.
And, many of the knowledgeable commenters here.

Time to apply *Occam's Razor*.

Trump is what's called a, "lifetime player" in the elitist power structure.
The one that's been around for a few thousand years.
Some examples:
Trump's uncle was responsible for Nicholas Tesla's confiscated papers.
Trump was very close to Roy Cohn. And Richard Nixon too.
In the 1980's, Trump bought Resorts International, Meyer Lansky¨'s & the CIA's joint money-laundering venture. He opened some casino in Atlantic City then too.
If people didn't know it, casinos are great places to launder money.
Anyway, Wilbur Ross aka Rothschild agent bailed-out Trump about the same time too.
All the above is pre-1990.

Fast-forward to 2016-today.
Trump has been the modern-day *Cyrus* for the redshield real-estate venture know as Isen'treal.
Nope. Not real. Khazars are not from historical Judea.
Trump has established the 1st official military base there.
Trump has besides that, placed there a THAAD-Missle contingent in the Negev near Dimona & other super-secret stuff there in the desert:
Trump recognizes Jerusalem as the capital and moves the embassy there.
Trump recognizes Isen'treal sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.
I can go on and on but, it's simple.
Trump's job is to #MIGA. Not #maga.

There is 1 year left before the next election.
It's time for the MAGA-propaganda crew, meaning Trump's Election Committee(2016) to do a repeat.
From the video below beginning at 9:31 and the following 10+ minutes you will see a certain... (((tribe))) described, which got Trump elected.
*TRUMP IS THE SWAMP / Trump's Jewish Elite MAFIA & The 5 Dancing Israelis*

The american electorate for the next 12-months is to be programmed once again.
Trump is gonna be sold as the best thing since 'bacon & eggs'; "tough on Iran, great for the economy, taking care of our military, tough on the fake-news-msm, great....,great....etc etc".
For the american public anyway.
Then, after Trump is re-elected, the "hot war" on Iran will be unleashed.
First preceded by an orchestrated *FF-false flag* of course.
As it has been done for since at least the sinking of the *Maine*.
And, not to forget, the u.s.economy + usdollar are to be crashed.
Trump will be the scapegoat and Tulsi G. will be elected next in 2024.

I say it's all theatre.
The real TPTB are making the calls.
JFK showed us what happens when a prez doesn't play along.
Syria & Kurds? It's a minor piece on the chessboard.
For now anyway, it can wait.

Posted by: Veritas X- | Oct 23 2019 19:09 utc | 51

ttg at sst is reading it similar to me here.. the first 2 points of the 10 point agreement are key..

Posted by: james | Oct 23 2019 19:10 utc | 52

@45 Now Graham is saying he'll slow the push for sanctions against Turkey and give diplomacy a chance. To me it looks like Trump keeps cutting Graham off at the knees

Posted by: dh | Oct 23 2019 19:12 utc | 53

... Donald Trump is the elected president of the United States and that he is thereby entitled to direct its foreign policies as he sees fit.

I disagree on both points.

1) Money in politics, a duopoly, and the Deep State combine to create a "managed democracy" that is much more a plutocracy than a democracy. Cynics believe that democracy has become a fig leaf. Even Jimmy Carter has said that "America has no functioning democracy".

2) If Trump directed foreign policy "as he sees fit" then USA would've been out of Syria in January 2019. How is cut and run any better in October than it would've been in January? Well, maybe it's not simply cut and run. Maybe there's more behind what's going on? (Like the oil, like timing the move to disrupt the attack on Idlib, etc.) These are the types of questions that nag at me.

Furthermore, I think there's a reasonable case to be made that Trump's nature and true intention other than what his supporters believe it to be. I described this in my comment here which b chose not to engage with.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 23 2019 19:12 utc | 54

Trump needs little skill to get out from Syria. It is the imbecility of how Obama got the US in their in the first place that needs talking about. Imbecility, venality, and total control of the media.

In Ukraine it has become clear that it was just one massive honeypot for politicians and their families. I wonder how much Syria has become the same. Certainly enough people are acting on the basis of funding they get from Israel supporters and Saudi.

Posted by: Michael Droy | Oct 23 2019 19:14 utc | 55

plantsman @39--

What Graham advocates can only be approved and made reality by the UNSC in an effort to upend the latest agreement between Erdogan and Putin which gained Assad's blessings.

Paul Damascene @34--

I've already said the diplomacy was magnificent and the most notable such achievement during my life, even topping the Cuban Missile Crisis. But if I understand you, you're asking who got the best deal. IMO, those who were going to die, get maimed, lose their home, and such are those who got the best deal--peace, and the great prospect that it will last awhile. Some of the soldiers from all sides who would have fought and perhaps been KIA/WIA will get to enjoy the boredom of Garrison Duty, while others will be moved to the remaining active FEBAs surrounding Idlib and deal with the risks of combat. The biggest losers are those who needlessly lost their lives due to the total irresponsibility of the Kurdish political leaders and Outlaw US Empire dervishes seeking to undermine Trump's policy--those two entities have the blood of those who died on their hands.

Other results include the new found confidence of the Iraqi government to tell the Outlaw US Empire what to do with its uninvited troops and what will soon be demanded of those stationed within Iraq in full view of the world. SAA troops will have even greater morale levels with the agreement and will attack Idlib with even more vigor. And the Gulf nations will have further proof of the new policy direction Trump's taking, which will hopefully push them to taking Iran's offer to establish peace via collective security. Escobar adds his own other results that suggest the clock in at least one respect will have returned to 2002 prior to the total defeat of the Outlaw US Empire's attempt to establish Full Spectrum Dominance over Southwest Asia--the most important result of all.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 23 2019 19:15 utc | 56

Paul Damascene @48:

Well, the thing to ask your self with any source is "How do they know that?" It doesn't clarify everything, but it really weeds things out.

I don't think Erdogan is going to cross Putin again, too much to lose, nothing to gain from it. He owes Putin, and whatever Putin may think of him he will not sabotage Erdogan. We, on the other hand, tried to get him killed a few years back.

Whether Turkey will remain in NATO is an interesting question though, I expect there will be an argument about whether to kick Turkey out now, and I expect Erdogan and Trump to resist that.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 23 2019 19:17 utc | 57

Not one word on Trump taking over the oil fields in Northeastern Syria. Why? Because it just doesn't jive with the fairytale here.

Assad is seething about Turkey's incursion. He wants the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Syria completely restored. You think he's on board with everyone making deals with Turkey without his government's input?

Trump is holding on to Syria's oil like an Ace in hand to maintain control of Eastern Syria and keep Syria in a state of ruin. It's about control and containment of Syria and Iran -- same ol' Neocon strategy.

@35 William Gruff

When the dust from the Turks & Kurds squabble settles and the SAA has the area stabilized and can refocus attention elsewhere, and conditions make it clear there is no chance for ISIS to take the oil fields again, then Trump can do some more foreign policy by Twitter, bypassing the establishment scum again, and announcing that he has succeeded in protecting the oil and now Syria can take responsibility for it.

You're kidding me, right? HE'S NEVER GOING TO DO THAT.

Well, at least you were honest enough to address the elephant in the room, the INCONENIENT TRUTH, b, won't touch: Why did Trump hang on to these oil fields??? WHY?!

Posted by: Circe | Oct 23 2019 19:18 utc | 58

Hi MoA.
You used an image I made (the photograph/map). No problem as I am one of your regular reader, and it was made for fun, but could you just mention me, or at least direct the link toward the original tweet where YNMS took the image? As I restart a new account, I've few followers and it would be appreciated.

PS : the original tweet :
A previous tweet was made before the announcemen of the agreement :

Posted by: Kinan abou Nidal | Oct 23 2019 19:22 utc | 59

Thanks Kinan for this hilarious map/pic
I ll bookmark you!

Posted by: Mina | Oct 23 2019 19:30 utc | 60

Michael Droy @56--

Regarding Ukraine; "Ukraine recognized as poorest country in Europe in 2019, study reveals.

"Ukraine takes last place in a 42-member list with a per capita purchasing power of 1.830 euros....

"Meanwhile, the study demonstrates that Europeans on average have 14.739 euros per person to spend and save in 2019. Liechtenstein tops the 2019 list, showing a per capita purchasing power of 67.550 euros. 'This far exceeds the values of the other countries and is more than 4.5 times the European average,' the study underlines."

Yet another example of how Neoliberalism destroys a nation. It's the hand maiden of Outlaw US Empire Imperialism and must be destroyed for people to prosper and for the planet to heal.

Pepe's other article today focuses on what's happening in Latin America: "Burn, Neoliberalism, Burn."

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 23 2019 19:30 utc | 61

Paul Damascene @48: You comment on Turkey's geographic position is very perceptive too, that is exactly where I think all this goes too. Syria's future is assured too, if it only it can have peace, because of it's geography.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 23 2019 19:30 utc | 62

Oh, so to complete point #2 @55:

If USA is not a "functioning democracy" then:

... is Trump really "entitled to direct foreign policies as he sees fit"?

... who is really directing foreign policy if US Presidents aren't really held to account by a democratic process?

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 23 2019 19:33 utc | 63

Posted by: Kinan abou Nidal | Oct 23 2019 19:22 utc | 60

Jeremiah Johnson, all right!

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 23 2019 19:33 utc | 64

re Trump v Deep Staters

William Taylor's attacks on Trump in testimony yesterday both effective and arguably treasonous. BUT, fly on wall knows that Trump knows that Taylor is/was a DeepState ringleader of regime-change ops.

George Webb [investigative journalist on internet] is now a fact witness of Taylor as key player among users of special Blackberry communicator devices using highest level military-grade encryption, unreadable by NSA. Taylor gave Webb a Senate-marked Blackberry during a clandestine meeting with Webb abt 2 years ago during which Taylor was anonymous.

The serial # Webb traced back to Naval crypto op named Gonter .

While perhaps Taylor "accidently" left the special Blackberry with Webb, Webb suspected entrapment and returned the device in a visit to offices of Joint Terrorism Task Force The JTTF themselves had earlier tried to frame Webb in Ohio but got caught.

Webb returned the device at meeting

Posted by: chu teh | Oct 23 2019 19:38 utc | 65

“Screaming” and snapping pencils in another’s face is not professional diplomatic behaviot, yet US officials seem to resort to such tactics alarmingly often. Professional discipline needs reinforcement in the State Dept as well.

Posted by: jayc | Oct 23 2019 19:39 utc | 66

Surely to God nobody still believes Trump is making any of these decisions. Have all forgotten he handed foreign policy over to Pence almost immediately on taking Office, asserting publicly he wanted to concentrate on 'making America great again'? Not that Pence personally makes any policy either. Both do as told by the real executors US power.

Trump is hood ornament with a megaphone and twitter account. Snap out of it.

Posted by: Artful Dodger | Oct 23 2019 19:40 utc | 67

Oops--hit post by mistake.

Here it is hot off YouTube abt 6 minutes. Enjoy!,

Posted by: chu teh | Oct 23 2019 19:41 utc | 68

Okay, you're an African statesman and have come to Sochi for the first ever Russia-Africa Summit, and watched as the events of yesterday unfolded. Now you're sitting in the Summit's Plenary Session and about to listen to Putin the magician say the following:


"Russia provides systematic assistance to developing the African continent. We provide trade preferences and cooperate within international organisations, such as the World Food Programme, the International Civil Defence Organisation and the World Health Organisation.

"Our country is participating in an initiative to ease the African countries’ debt burden. To date, the total amount of write-offs stands at over $20 billion.

"Joint programmes have been launched with a number of countries involving the use of debt to finance national economic growth projects.

"We have developed cooperation in the fight against dangerous infectious diseases. In particular, a Russian research centre of epidemiology has been established in Guinea. (Applause.) Yes, it is a very good project; it turned out to be very effective. Our country was one of the first to respond to the Ebola epidemic by allocating over $60 billion for fighting it. It should be said that the vaccine is very effective. I believe it is the best in the world.

"Training of skilled personnel is a traditional sphere of Russian-African cooperation. By the mid-1980s, we had built about a hundred educational establishments in Africa and half a million Africans have been trained for work at industrial companies and agricultural facilities in African countries. Currently, 17,000 Africans are studying here in Russia, including some 4,000 who are on federal scholarships."

And you reflect: Are EU people this courteous, outgoing and welcoming? When was the last time a POTUS spoke this way?

One of the greatest outcomes of what's been happening in Syria is the rapid rise of Russian credibility coinciding with the decline of the Outlaw US Empire's. One thing the Current Oligarchy doesn't seem to see is by undermining Trump's policy goals they undermine themselves.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 23 2019 19:57 utc | 69

This apparently is the Russian military map of the current deal.

No shaded war maps of Syria show positions of US bases. Only map with US bases I've seen in the past was one put out by Turkey a couple of years ago.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 23 2019 19:58 utc | 70

James @46 --
Right, well, uh, I am only to happy to say that the quality of commentators at MoA has reached a point I've rarely seen on discussion lists. Few trolls (at the moment) and a generally constructive approach to reading other posts -- what Gadamer I think referred to once as "strong readings" or "strengthening readings".

Trying to draw the best from a reading, rather than doing one's worst... Thanks for your response.

Posted by: Paul Damascene | Oct 23 2019 20:02 utc | 71

Posted by: james | Oct 23 2019 18:57 utc | 47

Thanks for that. Even after that, and following posts, I'm still not quite clear whether the Turks are going to limit themselves to the territory they've taken.

Having Tell al-Abyad and Ras al-'Ayn alone is not very useful for the Turks. One can suppose they will withdraw sooner or later. The whole 30 km zone is a different matter, and they might want to keep it in that case.

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 23 2019 20:06 utc | 72

When 99% of the media is against Trump, he must be doing the right thing. This is an easy method of measuring his worth.

Posted by: Joetv | Oct 23 2019 20:06 utc | 73

I butchered a couple of questions I had for b on one of the Syria posts he did last week. So, I'm going to try not to mess this one up.

My question to b then had to do with the 'why' Circe is correctly asking. That is "why did Trump hang on to these oil fields??? WHY?!"

We knew last week some of the troops were moving to the oil fields to secure them OR whatever last week. The decision was made then. We also know that few skirmishes happened over the period of the U.S. withdrawal and the Turkey/Russia meeting. And today Erdogan calls for a permanent cease fire.

There is no question in my mind that all of this has been coordinated b/w Turkey, U.S./NATO, and Russia. That said, the 'why' could very well have everything to do with available resources. That is, there remains a need to secure those fields while Syrian/Russian forces continue to clear out the towns in the NE. I know few will agree to consider this suggestion because it absolutely goes against all foreign/military policy decisions made up till now when it comes to Syria. However, at least for now, it is a potential answer due to the sheer lack of information/details. Especially given the description given by a poster on the most recent thread who reviewed maps in/out of this oil region. From the sounds of it it's no man's land. One road in and out smack dab in the middle of nowhere. So, maybe the U.S./NATO have agreed to secure this location b/c the U.S./NATO have so screwed Syria and her people. Maybe.

If any were to take the time to watch that 4 minute clip I posted above, you'll hear for the first time someone who has intimate knowledge of Obama's duplicity and the hand he left to Trump re Syria. This man is sincere when he states that 'we were postured for catastrophic failure in Northeast Syria' by the Obama administration when they re branded then aligned ours troops w/the PKK. He also goes onto state that the "strategic prize is "Turkey" and the strategic goal is to "contain Iran." I'm pretty sure some here will recall the work SOFREP did early on regarding Special Ops bitching about their being ordered to train terrorists. These soldiers were pissed. Now that the facts are in hand, although many barflies were already aware, Special Ops were indeed ordered by the Obama administration to train the PKK - a group on the U.S. Terrorist List.

Why on earth would a President of the US ever order his/her troops to train an enemy? Take a step back from all of the noise and think about that.

Posted by: h | Oct 23 2019 20:11 utc | 74

"Why did Trump hang on to these oil fields??? WHY?!" --Poor TDS victim

First, take a deep breath, maybe meditate a bit and see if you can find a tiny fragment of calm somewhere deep inside that you can hold onto and build.

Next, reread what I wrote and try to understand it this time. Trump isn't "hanging onto the oilfields". That was the default condition that already existed thanks to Obama and Clinton & Co.

Why are American troops in Syria at all? Nobody among the American public really knows. This is problematic as if you don't know why you are there, then how can you know when it is time to leave?

Now focus hard: Trump is providing a very simple and clearly defined reason for US troops to be in Syria. Unlike the vague and vacuous rationalizations provided by the war pigs Clinton and Obama, the mission Trump has morphed the remaining US occupation of Syria into is not open-ended. He is not directing the US military to "protect" the oil wells from the Syrian government. Trump clearly stated that the remaining purpose for any American troops in Syria is to protect the oil from ISIS. When the time comes the Syrian military can simply announce that they are ready to relieve the US troops from guard duty, and Trump can shower himself in glory for "saving Syria's oil". When this point arrives there will be no fall-back narrative to justify continued US military presence in Syria.

Without Trump clearly defining the mission, the war pigs will just keep moving the goalposts and manufacturing justifications for keeping the war going. Trump has effectively cornered the war pigs into a dead end for their war.

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 23 2019 20:15 utc | 75

"Why did Trump hang on to these oil fields??? WHY?!"

Short answer: A-To prevent ISIS from using it (that's the pretext). B-To prevent the SDF from selling it to Damas (the case up to now) and C-Most importantly to prevent Damas from using it. The US doesnt need or want that oil. It wants to prevent others from accessing it, but this is only realistic in the short term for logistical and tactical reasons, as discussed in prior threads..

Posted by: Lozion | Oct 23 2019 20:21 utc | 76

Bemildred and Karlof1 -- thanks for the insights.

Karlof1 -- I hadn't really been thinking about who wins the most, but your answer to the unasked question was powerful.

Posted by: Paul Damascene | Oct 23 2019 20:22 utc | 77

chu @69

This channel does not exist-- says the link

Posted by: arby | Oct 23 2019 20:23 utc | 78

h is getting too excited. Whatever the US says, it can't hang on to the oil-fields, cos they've pissed off the Kurds who were guarding them, and the US is not willing to put in the troops necessary. In any case, the production of the oil-fields is not that great, and holding them is mainly to give difficulty to Asad, who was using them to make the Syrian army roll.

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 23 2019 20:33 utc | 79


what about the kurds? - kill em all let god sort em?
what about the 55 nukes in Turkey? - let the turks keep em?
what about the us airbase in Turkey? - let em close it down and move troops to Iraq/Saudi etc

and again, can anyone explain to me why they have such an issue with the current corrupt crop of world leaders but in essence they cheer the current corrupt crop of world leaders on when they divide the world according to their needs and their wants.
and last but least, do you really think that all of this kabuki theatre will stoop war?

the guys that run this world, all the shitfaces from all the places, need war. How better to destablise a place, kill a few thousand here and there, make a few million homeless here or there, decide a litte bit of genocide is just a ok so as long as it is not you ( i guess only white people - christian who live according to the bible - with a little legal wife bashing included) need a apply.

as for the US american shitface character? He has shown over his life what type of character he is. He is a cheater, he stiffs contractors on their pay (Kurds are just another group of contractors stiffed of their pay and in essence of their life), he fucks his daughter and sons anytime he wants to (as clearly the old women he is married too is done fucking) and so on. You can't diminish a character that was in the gutter to begin with.

And again, i would caution against screaming victory. The fat lady ain't singing yet. And the shitface in the shitty house ain't the fat lady.

Posted by: Sabine | Oct 23 2019 20:41 utc | 80

Posted by: h | Oct 23 2019 20:11 utc | 75

"Why on earth would a President of the US ever order his/her troops to train an enemy? Take a step back from all of the noise and think about that."

Why on earth is the left hand allowed to build up something that a bit later the right hand is allowed to fight, not to destroy it? And where can such a thing happen, while the talking head talks that he does no such thing as a left hand?

Posted by: Hausmeister | Oct 23 2019 20:41 utc | 81

Transcript from Trump's announcement on lifting sanctions on Turkey and the ceasefire -

"We’ve secured the oil, and, therefore, a small number of U.S. troops will remain in the area where they have the oil. And we’re going to be protecting it, and we’ll be deciding what we’re going to do with it in the future."

Keywords in that statement are 'small number of troops' and 'protecting.' It's a key resource which gives Trump a seat at the table towards future resolution.

Posted by: h | Oct 23 2019 20:50 utc | 82

All the same stuff was said when US set up base at Tanf. Tanf base is supported from Jordan, but I suspect that while US is in Iraq, it will occupy the Dier Ezzor oil fields and possibly those southeast of Hasakah. The Tanf base is used to disrupt cross border trade with Iraq, Iran ect with ISIS raids right up to Al Bukamal. Dir Ezzor borders onto what is in linked US department of state maps marked a ISIS held territory in Iraq.
Trump's oil embargo on Syria is tighter even than Obama's. Why go to all the trouble of trying to enforce an oil blockade and then simply give the oil fields back to Syria.
Although in many areas, Trump is much more pragmatic and realist than the borg, he is just as much a zionist. Syria, Iran, Venezuela ect do not recognise Israel as a state. Trumps actions against these countries are genuine, not some four d chess or whatever. Business man realist combined with Zionism. Many of Israels enemies have oil. Destroy Israel's enemies, grab the oil and make America great again. Two birds with one stone.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 23 2019 20:54 utc | 83

In successful negotiations, generally speaking, there is give and take, the parties compromise, and no one is publicly shamed or caused to lose face. Turkey cannot be expected to 'surrender' in a way that appears to weaken Erdogan's position at home. As should be clear to all by now Russia plays the long game by choice as well as by necessity. Syria has no choice at this point and accept this strategy too. The Syrian government is just not in a position to demand that Turkey withdraw completely from Syrian territory, and a precipitous withdrawal would likely prove chaotic and damaging to both sides. Patience. There is a lot on the plate right now.

As for Trump - he is what he always has been, his nature and inclinations haven't changed. He does have almost 3 years experience as POTUS though, and must have learned a few things. I concur with our hosts view that he came ill equipped to staff the foreign policy apparatus, as that had never been his focus and he likely had few if any qualified friends to call upon. All presidents become isolated by security concerns and the trappings of office. Trump seems to get his view of the 'great outdoors', unfiltered by advisors, by watching Fox News. I get the impression that he picks associates by listening to their pitch, accepting or rejecting it, and then dumping them if it turns out they don't follow his direction, embarrass him, or appear to be 'disloyal' to him personally. The idea that he is some grand strategist seems far-fetched. He has a tin ear, zero empathy, is quite vengeful, and follows his inclinations. Case in point: the choice of his resort to host the G7 meeting. Why step in the poo over such trivia? Move the embassy to Jerusalem. Appoint unqualified cronies to cabinet posts. He is used to getting what he wants and suing you if you raise a fuss. Why the Syria withdrawal? It seemed a bad deal to him, unnecessary. Plus he takes advice from 'bad' or 'wrong' people like Putin or Viktor Orban, or Steve Bannon.

His disruption of the status quo in Washington is his gift to the world. It isn't a plan, but something he can't help because of who he is. He loves being POTUS, the king of the world. Luckily he seems to think that blowing it up would be bad for his brand.

Posted by: the pessimist | Oct 23 2019 20:54 utc | 84

Posted by: h | Oct 23 2019 20:50 utc | 83

"We’ve secured the oil, and, therefore, a small number of U.S. troops will remain in the area where they have the oil. And we’re going to be protecting it, and we’ll be deciding what we’re going to do with it in the future.".

Frankly, fatuous. No doubt nobody official will contest the 200 US in position, but I wouldn't like to be one of them, bullets flying in all directions.

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 23 2019 21:05 utc | 85

pessimist "Trump seems to get his view of the 'great outdoors', unfiltered by advisors, by watching Fox News."

He also talks to people like Kissinger. And other presidents and leaders. Day to day tactics may be developed from the likes of fox news as public perception plays a role....

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 23 2019 21:05 utc | 86

William Gruff @76 and Lozion @77 - the two of you provided an answer to the "WHY?!" better than I did. Thank you.

And Laguerre @80 - how have the SAA tapped into those oil fields with the PKK guarding them? Until last week, the PKK and SAA were at war as I recall.

And Hausmeister, you're talking the mechanics behind duplicitous policies adding it's how they keep their grubby hands and their pals hands filled with cash. Here in America it's called the Deep State or as Trump terms it 'the Swamp.' Or it could be called the Merry-Go-Round or even Hotel California - you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave.

Posted by: h | Oct 23 2019 21:16 utc | 87

b. says But Trump is a New Yorker businessman and not a politician with decades of experience in Washington. He does not know who he can trust. He has to proceed by trial and error until he finds people who are willing to go work with him against those permanent powers that usually drive U.S. foreign policy.

That is it in a nutshell, which is precisely why they didn't want him as President. You have to be schooled into enjoying war and bloodbaths. Like a serial killer there has to be a progression of minor to serious to major, a path Hillary Clinton has scrupulously followed. You have to be thoroughly corrupted on such a scale that most people cannot take in, cannot absorb. Yet you preserve the smiling face. Interesting that an article in the Guardian of yesterday does an about face on Hillary in her war with Tulsi. The article goes on to support Tulsi.

Posted by: Lochearn | Oct 23 2019 21:30 utc | 88

@88 h, See here for a thread on the subject with more info:

"Much has been debated since President Trump tweeted that “The U.S has secured the oil” in #Syria

Is this feasible?

Does it make any sense?

Thread will explain how the answer is a resounding


Posted by: Lozion | Oct 23 2019 21:39 utc | 89

There is no true agreement until Syria and Turkey have an agreement. It is not clear that Russia has actually won a demilitarized zone that won't be flooded with Turkey's leftover jihadis guarding the Syrian refugees kicked out of Turkey, nor is it clear Russia has committed to removing the US from Syria. The assumption that the war can be settled without the Syrian national government is way too premature...but insofar as it does, it's more like Russia agreeing to a partition of Syria, disguised to be sure, no matter what long run costs to Syria. Or even to their own position in Syria, which may now be endless.

Posted by: steven t johnson | Oct 23 2019 21:40 utc | 90

And Laguerre @80 - how have the SAA tapped into those oil fields with the PKK guarding them? Until last week, the PKK and SAA were at war as I recall.

Posted by: h | Oct 23 2019 21:16 utc | 88

Classic ignorance. The Kurds and the SAA have never been at war. Witness the Syrian army base in Qamishli.

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 23 2019 21:42 utc | 91

h @36&75--

The presenter at the Hudson Institute made some excellent points, but also unwittingly revealed the idiocy of overall US foreign policy. What went unmentioned was Occupied Palestine's role in this entire affair, and the fact that it all initially began with GHW Bush's partitioning of Iraq and collusion with the Barzani Mafia in an attempt to form an independent Kurdish state not just within Iraq but also incorporating Kurdish regions of Iran, Turkey, and Syria--all with the support of Occupied Palestine who helped train and arm the Peshmerga, and all well before Obama's terrorist proxy war against Syria in a last gasp attempt to make the Yinon Plan reality. Yes, the current Kurdish "issue" is almost 30 years old. It's beyond ironic that the Arc of Resistance arose from the very region subjected to so much suffering over the last 40 years at the hands of the Outlaw US Empire with the direct connivance of the Zionists within Occupied Palestine. Talk about Blowback!

As for "training the enemy," the Outlaw US Empire's been doing that as a matter of policy following the UK's example of training a minority group within a colony to be the police and special security (Death Squads) teams, first within the Philippines, then Europe, followed by Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, then South and Central America, and now lastly in Afghanistan and Syraq--a policy that spans over a century, so it's really nothing new except to citizens just awakening to the actual sordid history of their nation. (Oh, and we shouldn't forget those within the USA operating as legit FBI and Police.) I'll merely cite just one of Chomsky's many works on the subject, Deterring Democracy, and one of the most well known CIA Death Squad programs, The Phoenix Program.

Indeed, what's never explained is the genuine rationale driving current Outlaw US Empire Imperial Policy. Hudson explains how its done in his Super Imperialism and places it under the rather vague name--Washington Consensus--which at its core resides Neoliberalism and its Junk Economics. The problems with both because of their complexity is they can't be easily reduced to informative sound bites, but they can be understood when studied, which is why I refer so damn often to Dr. Michael Hudson.

Ultimately, the #1 problem facing the citizen that wants to be informed is they must acquire the equivalent of a combined PhD in history and political-economy along with a lifetime of experience and critical inquiry. Having good teachers and others open to pointing the student in the right direction also helps greatly, but we seem to be few and not too easy to find, while we're outnumbered by charlatans and others whose goal is to ensure the current level of ignorance continues. And then there're people like those at the Hudson Institute who only partially inform while continuing to obfuscate.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 23 2019 21:57 utc | 92

It's getting tiring, denying all the posts telling us that Trump is going to retain the oil-fields in Syria. Firstly those fields don't have much production, it is not a question of glamorous profits for the US oil machine, rather only preventing Asad from having enough to keep the army rolling, and as a result dependent on Iranian tankers. The US is in fact going for sanction starvation against Asad.

Secondly, the idea that the US can retain the oil-fields without anything else is unworkable. They've pissed off the Kurds, who were doing the work.

Posted by: Laguerre | Oct 23 2019 22:06 utc | 93

With respect those talking about Helmer´s impression on Shoigu anf Lavrov about the truce with Turkey, helmer could take ap oint there, viewing the press conference given by Shoigu and Lavrov after the meeting in Sochi, it does seem to me that both gentlemen were not in the best of the moods, adding to this the complete lack of courtesy by the journalist fauna present in the room.
Shoigu, in his evident disgust, let loose some pearls, as when commenting about the around 70000 jhadist "militants" and families present on the several refugee camps and under the US coalition and Kurds supervision...he stated that a new legislation could be needed at UN, and other organs, level, to find what is to be done with these obvious terrorists, some of which "officialy" went to Syria as "tourists"...We must recall that in the first years of the war on Siria others went as well as "journalists"...some resulting KIA...
At request of some journalist, asked whether the ISIS prisoners were in jail...Shoigu answered that in refugee camps! Also commented that in the first days of "withdrawal some hudrends of these ISIS "prisoners" were left without guard and thus, scaped....

Related to that fairy tale on that Trump will in a few months leave the oil fields in NE Syria to then be cedded to the Syrian government, as pre-electoral fairy tale is good...but for to become one day a reality it falls totally for me when you take into account that the US is not leaving Iraq, and moreover is trying to instale the withdrown troops from Syria there....Then it is the current suspicious revolts in Lebanon, which points all the way to a turning on target...being Lebanon trying to defend its rights to the Leviatan oil field in Lebanon coast against Israel.

Trump all over the past election campaign, apart from let us know that he can grab women by that part because he has money and power, did not cease repeating as a mantra that at least in Iraq "they should have kept the oil"...Why is he going now to cede voluntarily the Syrian oil fields to the Syrian government is what anyone of the Trump campaigners here fails to explain.
Moreover, but, was not him that person who hates to lose and hates losers more than anything else in this world, apart from poors?

Related to those who suspect cat enclosed here...the other day Erdogan let loose some peal too in a public comparecence in a forum...he was wondering what those 30000 trucks with weapons coming from Iraq to Syria mean...In the same video you can see Mark Esper stating that the troops left in Syria, concretely in the oild fields regions, are there to deny access to these oil fields...he did not specified denying acces to ISIS...but denying access in general, to everybody, and that means including their owners, as anyone who follows this and other US wars would honestly understand...

Posted by: Sasha | Oct 23 2019 22:07 utc | 94

1/" Donald Trump is the elected president of the United States and that he is thereby entitled to direct its foreign policies as he sees fit."
The problem is that the Constitution no longer works: the President's powers are actually greatly diminished by Congress's control over the budget, the House's right to declare war, the Senate's powers of advise and consent over appointments etc.
For decades Congress has ceded its powers and allowed the imperial President to evolve. In law the President has relatively few powers, in practice he is the head of "The Free World" aka the Empire.

2/James: I believe that Helmer is Australian, he certainly sounds like one.

3/There is no doubt that the US is, in diplomatic terms, light years behind the Russians and Chinese. Once the bribes have been proffered, the threats uttered and the propaganda organs set in motion there is nothing left in US Foreign Policy.
One does not need to see Putin as a genius-he really doesn't need to be anything more than sensible- to recognise that within two decades the United States has singlehandedly turned most of the world into its opponents. China and Russia have been driven back together, Iran and Iraq, now the best of friends, have been driven to ally themselves with the Eurasian giants. Turkey, for a long time the most stalwart of all US allies has been pushed into concert with them. Pakistan has similarly been alienated, after decades as a US ally and proxy in war.
The next to go? Japan, clearly, South Korea, Indonesia and India. Its just a matter of time.
Trump is the sort of fly in the ointment that the adage "Never interfere with an enemy which is destroying itself" highlights. He may not be very bright or cunning but at least he is not committed to self destruction, the way that the Deep State, the Duopoly and the US intelligentsia (exceptionally gifted)are. And long have been.

Posted by: bevin | Oct 23 2019 22:15 utc | 95

Jason Ditz has some of the dish... and I burst out laughing when I read the part about the donald conspicuously not mentioning of course that this is entirely due to the Putin-Erdogan meeting and their Russian and Turkish bilateral doing/agreement.

"....Trump credited the US for getting the Kurds out of the safe zone, and for everything else, conspicuously not mentioning the Russian deal with Turkey which was reached only the day before, and came after pointed US warnings to the Kurds not to talk with Russia.

Trump appeared to be quite conscious that this was a factor, declaring “this was an outcome created by us, the United States, and nobody else.”...."

and NOBODY else

as that old song goes, He's so vain....

Posted by: michaelj72 | Oct 23 2019 22:15 utc | 96

@96 bevin.. you are right - john helmer - aussie... i have had a number of e mail exchanges with him and for some reason based on these conversations i thought he was a canuck.. thanks..

Posted by: james | Oct 23 2019 22:19 utc | 97

bevin james

Helmer, from what I have read about him is an Australian journalist moved to Russia in the 90's. According to him as freelance journalist selling articles to various news outlets.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 23 2019 22:22 utc | 98

Trump is just a bag of wind that farts (tweets) randomly. As an earlier poster said: a broken clock is right twice a day. This is not policy because there is no sign of long term coherence, just random soundbites. And would anybody place a bet that he won't do a 180?

Posted by: cdvision | Oct 23 2019 22:23 utc | 99

@85 pessimist

Agree that there is a lot of needless hand-wringing going on. Strategically the SAA seems to be concentrating on bolstering the flanks in Kobani and Hasakah. The 30 km safety zone inhabited by the Turks would be very vulnerable after this is complete. The Taqba airbase, hydro dams, and key agricultural areas NE of the dam are already under SAA control or effectively surrounded. The base at Tanf is in the middle of nowhere and the oil fields in the SE will soon be surrounded on 3 sides. Diplomacy is slower and frustrating but a lot less bloody and expensive than invasions and embarrassing the hegemon.

Posted by: Sad Canuck | Oct 23 2019 22:31 utc | 100

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