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Friday, February 12, 2016


As furious as I often am at Obama, I'm glad that he won the last two elections. Both John McCain and Mitt Romney would have mired us in war in Syria -- and neither man would have backed down, even under the threat of nuclear war. Barack Obama has given the neocons much, but he won't place troops in harm's way.

You might say that Obama is singing a variant of that famous Meat Loaf lyric: "I would do anything for love (of Israel), but I won't do that."

The backers of jihad are placing enormous pressure on our President. A few days ago, President Erdogan of Turkey singaled his willingness to send troops into Syria -- if and only if the Americans also go in. Now, the Saudis have let it be known that they want to send in 150,000 troops -- if and only if the Americans also go in.

What extraordinary times! Until very recently, the Saudi government followed a simple rule: "We don't fight, and we don't do covert ops: We cut checks. We pay others to do our dirty work." That rule, it seems, no longer holds. It's a new world.

(Frankly, if 150,000 Saudi Arabian soldiers were to get their ass whupped fighting other Muslims, the already-precarious Saudi regime might not last. Lost wars = lost dynasties. Obviously, Prince Salman has never read a history book; if he had, he would already know about that equation.)

"Defeating ISIS" would, of course, be just the excuse for this proposed Saudi intervention. The NYT and the WP would pretend to take this excuse seriously, while all thinking people would know better. The real goal of a Saudi/US/Turkish invasion would be the defeat of Bashar Assad's secular government and the installation of an Islamic theocracy -- or, better, several perpetually-warring theocracies.

Although few would call my vocabulary undernourished, I don't know of any words evil enough to describe Prince Salman and President Erdogan. They helped to create ISIS and Nusra. Now they threaten to escalate the war into a region-wide inferno, which could easily become a global inferno.

Why do they demand escalation? In a word: Russia. In a name: Vladimir Putin.

The heroic Russians have struck a crippling blow against the jihadists in Aleppo. Unless the United States intervenes on the jihadist side, the cause of Islamic theocracy in Syria is doomed.

But I don't think Obama will intervene. I think that he will resist the pressures.

I'll say it again: Despite all of the evil that Obama has either committed or condoned, there is a line that he does not want to cross. Events have forced him to stand within an inch of that line.

"You MUST cross it," says Prince Salman.

"You MUST cross it," says Erdogan. 

"You MUST cross it" says Bibi.

"You MUST cross it," say the neocons and their media minions.

"Cross this line and you risk World War III," says Vladimir Putin.

Major world powers have agreed to a "cessation of hostilities" and to the delivery of immediate aid in Syria, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced early Friday.

He spoke in Munich, Germany, where top diplomats from more than a dozen countries, including the United States and Russia, met to hammer out a deal.
"I'm pleased to say that as a result today in Munich, we believe we have made progress on both the humanitarian front and the cessation of hostilities front, and these two fronts, this progress, has the potential -- fully implemented, fully followed through on -- to be able to change the daily lives of the Syrian people," Kerry said.
Also see here.

This is not victory. Not yet. Ceasefires can break down. You can be sure that, at this very moment, several hundred conspirators are plotting to stoke the flames of belligerence.

But the key factor is Obama: He clearly wants this war ended before another person sits in his chair.

(Many "progressives" would jeer at the preceding sentence, because most "progressives" refuse to concede that a Dem might ever do the decent thing. Most progs hate Democrats more than they hate Republicans. Like Bibi and Salman, our lefties love the thought of American troops in the Levant. Progs will smirk in triumph when their lazy cynicism is justified by the deaths of a million foreigners, and I'm sure that progs will attain full-body smirk-gasm when the great powers start to toss nukes at each other.)

Gareth Porter is one of the few journalists willing to argue that Putin has forced Obama to scuttle toward peace:
Since the Russian military intervention in Syria upended the military balance created by the victories of the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front and its allies last year, the Obama administration has quietly retreated from its former position that "Assad must go".
For weeks the political response to the Russian intervention revolved around the theme that the Russians were seeking to bolster their client regime in Syria and not to defeat ISIS, but that it would fail. The administration appeared bent on insisting that Russia give into the demand of the US and its allies for the departure of President Bashar al-Assad from power.

But the ISIS terror attacks in Paris focused the political attention of Europeans and Americans alike on the threat from ISIS terrorism and the need for cooperation with Russia to combat it. That strengthened the position of those within the Obama administration – especially the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the CIA - who had never been enamored of the US policy of regime change in the first place. In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, they pressed for a rethinking of the US insistence on Assad’s departure, as suggested publicly at the time by former acting CIA director Michael Morell.
I would add that important voices within the DoD have also asked for a new approach to Syria. Of course, most Americans have learned none of the facts discussed here, thanks to the misinformation efforts of our mainstream media.
Dramatic successes came in late January, when Syrian government troops recaptured the town of Salma in Latakia province, held by al-Nusra Front since 2012, and the strategic al-Shaykh Maskin, lost to anti-Assad rebels in late 2014, thus regaining control of Daraa-Damascus highway. Even more significant, the Syrian army has cut off the lines of supply from Turkey to Aleppo, which is occupied by al-Nusra and allied forces.

By the time Secretary of State John Kerry met with the head of the Syrian opposition delegation, Riyad Hijab, on 23 January, it was clear to the Obama administration that the military position of the Assad regime was now much stronger, and that of the armed opposition was significantly weaker. In fact, the possibility of a decisive defeat exists for the first time in light of the Russian-Syrian strategy of cutting off the supply lines of the al-Nusra front.
The Cuban Missile Crisis ended when "the other guy blinked." It is now America's turn to blink. As before, the blink of a superpower can save the world.

The neocon scheme to eradicate secular civilization in the Middle East is starting to crumble. If the neocons lose this one, Vladimir Putin will deserve a place in history alongside Marshall Zhukov and above General Kutuzov.

A history note: Obama did not create this war; he inherited it. We now know that the initial plans were made in 2005 -- well before the "Arab Spring" uprising, at a time when many conservatives were starting to concede the foolishness of the Iraq invasion.
The impetus for pursuing regime change, according to the researchers, was a desire to sweep away an impediment to the achievement of US goals in the Middle East related to strengthening Israel, consolidating US domination of Iraq, and fostering free-market, free enterprise economies. Democracy was never a consideration.
In 2005, Congress’s researchers reported that a consensus had developed in Washington that change in Syria needed to be brought about, but that there remained divisions on the means by which change could be effected. “Some call for a process of internal reform in Syria or alternatively for the replacement of the current Syrian regime,” the report said. [3] Whichever course Washington would settle on, it was clear that the US government was determined to shift the policy framework in Damascus.

The document described the Assad government as an impediment “to the achievement of US goals in the region.” [4] These goals were listed as: resolving “the Arab-Israeli conflict;” fighting “international terrorism;” reducing “weapons proliferation;” inaugurating “a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Iraqi state;” and fostering market-based, free enterprise economies. [5]

Stripped of their elegant words, the US objectives for the Middle East amounted to a demand that Damascus capitulate to the military hegemony of Israel and the economic hegemony of Wall Street. To be clear, what this meant was that in order to remove itself as an impediment to the achievement of US goals—and hence as an object of US hostility—Syria would have to:

* Accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state on territory seized from Palestinians, and quite possibly also Syrians and Lebanese, possibly within borders that include the Golan Heights, annexed from Syria by Israel in 1987 and occupied by Israel since 1967.

* End its support for militant groups seeking Palestinian self-determination and sever its connections with the resistance organization Hezbollah, the main bulwark against Israeli expansion into Lebanon.

* Leave itself effectively defenceless against the aggressions of the United States and its Middle East allies, including Israel, by abandoning even the capability of producing weapons of mass destruction (while conceding a right to Israel and the United States to maintain vast arsenals of WMD.)

* Terminate its opposition to US domination of neighboring Iraq.

* Transform what the US Congress’s researchers called Syria’s mainly publicly-owned economy, “still based largely on Soviet models,” [6] into a sphere of exploitation for US corporations and investors.
There you have it: Israel was the main reason for this war, though not the only reason.
"Most progs hate Democrats more than they hate Republicans."
That statement is so stupid I don't even know how to respond. You really think "progs" hate Obama more than we hate, say, George W Bush?
(Many "progressives" would jeer at the preceding sentence, because most "progressives" refuse to concede that a Dem might ever do the decent thing. Most progs hate Democrats more than they hate Republicans. Like Bibi and Salman, our lefties love the thought of American troops in the Levant. Progs will smirk in triumph when their lazy cynicism is justified by the deaths of a million foreigners, and I'm sure that progs will attain full-body smirk-gasm when the great powers start to toss nukes at each other.)

Joseph, this paragraph is such a broad-brush statement. I am a "lefty", a "progressive", and have never wished death and destruction of the sort you state. Please rethink this. It does a real injustice to many of us old FDR 'progressives'.
That has always been true of certain progs. For example, Noam Chomsky always despised JFK more than any other president, and he certainly seems to have had harsher words for Clinton than for Bush I, Bush II or Reagan. Progs certainly hated Gore more than they hated Dubya -- that's why so many of them voted for Dubya (through the face-saving mechanism of voting for Nader). Throughout the Clinton years, the left-wing magazines repeated the same smears that were born in right-wing fever dreams -- to prove the point, look up Alexander Cockburn's old "Beat the Devil" columns in The Nation.

And do you recall when Nancy Pelosi declared that she would not seek the impeachment of Dubya? "How dare she!" cried all the progs in Progland. "Next election, let's vote the straight Republican ticket! THAT will show her!"

It's the way certain progs think: The worse things are, the better things are. A successful Dem presidency simply gives people the impression that The System Works. The one thing that progs do NOT want is to have people think that The System Works. Progs want people to give up on The System and join The Revolution that they are always secretly hoping for.

In this sense, progs have always been close kin to the conspiratards recently rounded up in Oregon.
One final point, anon: For a perfect example of the sort of thing I'm talking about, check out this older post:

Yes, I've been around a while.
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