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Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Flames of War -- or: Jihad goes Hollywood. (Plus: Did Bill dis Bibi?)

As we noted in our previous post, former CIA man Bob Baer says that there are no moderates among the Syrian rebels -- "none at all." Nevertheless, the House has voted to authorize training of "vetted" rebels.

The substantial opposition to this measure was a strange Democratic/Republican alliance -- which is fitting, since this whole conflict might be considered the War of Strange Bedfellows. Speaking as a liberal, I hate to admit that one of the most intelligent responses came from a Republican:
Representative Duncan D. Hunter, a California Republican who fought with the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, joined others in questioning how the military could be sure the rebels of the Free Syrian Army could be trusted with United States arms and how suspect Saudis could host the training.

“We need to crush ISIS and not work on arming more Islamic radicals,” he said.
Interestingly, most of the progressives over on Kos have responded in an ultra-captious fashion.
Let's say our air force "accidentally" or purposefully crosses the Syrian border in pursuit of ISIL targets. The Syrian army or their air force shoot down our planes.

Then what? This will quickly escalate into wider attacks on Syria by our air force, by our warships in the gulf firing missiles at Syrian targets, etc.

There won't be any "review" or vote by congress on the decision making, because Syria attacked/destroyed our military assets/personnel. that is grounds for unilateral action by the POTUS.
This scenario strikes me as likely.
This is the US military's backdoor into Syria

...that the public overwhelmingly opposed last year at about this time.
Damned straight. Our pals in the "moderate" Free Syrian Army are much more focused on Assad than on ISIS, and no amount of "vetting" is going to get them to shift targets. As readers know, I don't think that this administration wants "our" rebels to target anyone other than Bashar Assad.

Moon of Alabama quotes one officer in the FSA who complains that “The leadership of the FSA is American.” The same article reports that "our" rebels have massed in the Golan Heights, preparing for an assault on Damascus. Repeat: Damascus. Not on any ISIS stronghold.

And the FSA is not the only problem. Moon of Alabama draws our attention to this story in The National (a leading newspaper of the UAE):
Bolstered by an increase in fighters and funding, Al Nusra, once considered a bit-player in southern Syria, suddenly seemed poised to become its most influential actor.
Nusra is an outgrowth of Al Qaeda, responsible for the murder of many Syrian Christians. Nevertheless, according to M of A, Israel has been giving them covert aid.

Flames of War. Supposedly, ISIS has produced a "trailer" for this upcoming war, which they envision as a Hollywood-style blockbuster called Flames of War. The production is slick and exciting and (from a jihadi point of view) pretty much pointless.

Why would jihadis go to such lengths to goad Americans into sending in combat forces? How could that possibly help ISIS in any way?

Whoever constructed this pseudo-trailer probably downloaded the Adobe production suite; these days, more sophisticated tools aren't really necessary. I'm guessing that the filmmakers learned After Effects the same way everyone else did: By watching Andrew Kramer's marvelous instructional videos.

Everyone wants to know whether "Flames of War" was made by actual jihadis or by hoaxters who want to heighten war fever. If ISIS didn't create "Flames of War," then maybe someone in Rita Katz's shop cobbled it together. Hell, anyone could have made this thing. (But not Andrew Kramer: His work is of higher quality.) I'm certain only of this: The use of reasonably clever matte shots in this latest production cannot increase our faith in the authenticity of those earlier beheading videos.

On an unrelated note (or is it unrelated?): Bill Clinton has dared to go off script (or did he?)
Speaking to a member of the public at a Democratic fundraiser in Iowa this weekend, the former president agreed with the suggestion that Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu was “not the guy” to strike a lasting peace deal in the region.

Clinton also agreed when it was suggested to him that “If we don’t force him [Netanyahu] to make peace, we won’t have peace”.

The former president replied: “First of all, I agree with that. But in 2000, Ehud Barack, I got him to agree to something I’m not sure I would have gotten Rabin to agree to, and Rabin was murdered for giving land to the Palestinians.”

Though brief and apparently unscripted, the exchange, which was recorded by C-Span and picked up by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, is in stark contrast to recent comments by Hillary Clinton, who has been more supportive of Netanyahu’s handling of the recent conflict in Gaza.
What to make of this?

Possibility 1: Bill's views conflict (at least to some degree) with Hillary's. She's pissed off at him.

Possibility 2: Everything is calculated. Bill knows that Hillary's neoconservative pronouncements alienated the peacenik progs who make up the base, so he tossed a McNugget to the (very sizable) wing of the Democratic party that dislikes both war and Netanyahu. (Remember that episode of The West Wing in which President Bartlett "accidentally" says some rough words within earshot of a hot mic? Like that.)

Possibility 3: Bill's views do not conflict with Hillary's. They both sincerely dislike Netanyahu. (This is easy to believe.) Bill, speaking rashly, gave us a glimpse of what both Clintons feel. Right now, Hillary will say anything she needs to say in order to get elected -- but once in office, all bets are off.

Which scenario do you favor? Do you see any other possibilities?

A final thought. What mad days these are! Nobody could have predicted anything like this situation thirty, twenty, even ten years ago...

Our first black president, having embarked upon a wrong-headed war, eclipses LBJ as the most conservative Democratic president of the past hundred years. The first woman with a good shot at winning the White House sneers at the liberal ideals I once ascribed to her. The Jewish state has become a fascist state -- militaristic, racist, nationalistic and expansionist, with street thugs openly beating up the few remaining leftists. Perhaps as a result, European Nazis like Anders Brevik have decided that Jews are really just peachy-keen. There's a small but growing anti-war contingent within the traditionally bellicose Republican party. And I keep writing pieces advising a temporary alliance with Bashar Assad -- a dictator who, under normal circumstances, would be the sort of person I can't stand.

When will this world make sense again? I feel like I'm trapped in that old Warner Brothers cartoon in which two cheese-hating mice insist on being eaten by the cat, who demands to be killed by the giant bulldog, who goes bounding after the dog-catcher.
That scenario you think is likely is not only unlikely, but impossible. American jets getting shot down over Syria, chasing ISIS? No.

1) ISIS can't move fast enough to evade supersonic jets, any attack into Syria would have to be intentionally aimed at Syrian targets, not targets that move over the border.

2) The part of Syria near Iraq has no Assad forces at all, ISIS have spent several weaks eliminating them from the East of the country.

3) ISIS have captured a lot of Syrian hardware, but the best surface-to-air weapons they've grabbed are ancient soviet shoulder-launched missiles, which can't reach bomber-altitude. I doubt very much that Assad has anything that can take down a modern fighter-bomber, even in his best defended areas.

4) The Syrian air force, or what's left of it, is tiny, ill-equipped and made up of ancient Soviet MiGs, unmodified for many years, and not very many of them now. The only base they had capable of launching sorties against the Iraqi border, or launching sorties against impinging USAF/USN planes coming in from Iraq was Tabqa, which is now in ISIS hands.

So, no, it can't happen. That doesn't mean it won't happen, it could be like the Gulf of Tonkin, an entirely fictional event, or they could send in some helicopters, nice and low where those MANPADs can reach them. But it would have to be either ridiculously blatant or entirely fictional, there will be no chase from Iraq to Syria, and no victory in aerial combat for the Syrian air force, or Syrian army air defences.
Stephen Morgan, the Syrians have been updated lately, if go down near the bottom of this story by b you'll see the updates to the AF. It has been report that the Syrian Army has the latest manpads from Russia and the S-300 surface to air have been updated also and have Russian tech near every one of them. There are over 15,000 Russians in Syria.

No I don't think Syrian pilots could go toe to toe with Amerikan pilots but the Syrian pilots only have to get behind the S-300.
@jo6pac - I was under the impression that the Israelis destroyed the new S300s that Syria had purchased from the Russians upon delivery.

Either way, any pretext for war stemming from any Syrian aggression towards American forces will either be provoked, falsified, or attributed to the Syrians when it's actually the work of the rebels.

Nobody stops the neocons plans for remaking the Middle East...nobody.
"Nusra is an outgrowth of Al Qaeda, responsible for the murder of many Syrian Christians. Nevertheless, according to M of A, Israel has been giving them covert aid."

if there's anyone who cares less about the murder of Syrian...or Iraqi Christians than George W. Bush, it would be Israel.
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