A meditation on Alliances and Coailtions in war. Someone is always on top, someone on the bottom.

Napoleon Bonaparte III

Such relationships are never equal.

In the "God of War" methodology (Napoleon I) a coalition and set of alliances was recruited in the context of the unification of Europe, but it was always understood that French interests would come first.

In WW2, the interests of the US & British Empire came first over those of France (who fought valiantly in Italy and 1944-45 Europe), Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Free Poland (they took Monte Casino and jumped into the maelstrom at a "Bridge too Far.")  etc.

It is always thus.  Nothing is "fair."  Get that through your heads.

Now we have a coalition among Syria, Russia and Iran to defeat Sunni extremism and preserve the Syrian state as an example of the possibility of multi-confessional governments in the ME. 

This, IMO is obstructed by the mindless insistence of the US on the overthrow of the Syrian government.  Can it be more clear that this policy, long established by propaganda, is the goal of the hyper-nationalist Israeli interest of "The Lobby" in the US? 

The Russians want better relations with the US.   They want this to avoid their eventual submission to a junior partner status with China in which the menace of the Golden Horde's repression comes again.  (Look it up)

To that end the Russians have (IMO) dragged Syria to a climactic battle in the east at Raqqa .  These areas are critical to US goals in the ME but not to those of the Syrian state who must seek to consolidate all the heavily populated areas in western Syria.

Is Russia screwing the Syria government in their own interest?  Yes.

Would I welcome a victory of US aligned forces at Raqqa?  Certainly.  I wish I were there.  pl

This entry was posted in As The Borg Turns, Borg Wars, Current Affairs, Middle East, Russia, Syria, The Military Art. Bookmark the permalink.

107 Responses to A meditation on Alliances and Coailtions in war. Someone is always on top, someone on the bottom.

  1. Keith Harbaugh says:


  2. Norbert M Salamon says:

    Thank you for the clear exposition!
    You, Sir, have stated that in your opinion Russia wishes to have better relations with the US primarily to escape the possible junior status vis-à-vis China.
    However, IMHO, the US does not understand equal status among nations vis-à-vis herself, thus your analysis leads to Russia having to be subservient to US.
    There is another ointment coloring the possible relation between the US and Russia and that is Mr. Putin’s view [reflected by most Russians, it seems] the need for the old Christian Morality for the state, for in his view the extreme views of neo-liberalism versus the individual is destructive to the organization of humanity, be it within Russia or within the world.
    Finally the most important issue facing realists, such as Mr. Putin, that any mistake due to the hyperventilation of neocons, Israel-Firsters, Hillary/Democratic party stalwarts might lead accidently to the end of Humanity – he must take all reasonable measures to foreclose this outcome, as long as the Mother Russia is safe and independent — ERGO Mr. Putin MUST try to ease relationship[p with the other power beside herself which can destroy humanity. FOR WITH RESPECT TO ATOMIC WEAPONS THE US IS EQUÆĿ ŦO RUSSIA and the converse is similarly true.

  3. Lars says:

    There have been fighting over that patch of real estate for at least 10 000 years. Is there anything different with the current action? I know the actors have changed over the centuries, but have that made a difference?
    Is a containment policy possible and just let them wear themselves out?

  4. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    The goals of the USA and Russia are orthogonal in the ME, and will keep on being so as long as the USA/Fortress West plays vassal to the izzies. The situation at this juncture requires either USA or Russia to blink. It will be interesting to watch this game of chicken and see the endgame. Perhaps a wargame on SST would be useful.
    Ishmael Zechariah
    P.s: I thought that the Golden Horde was Mongol. The Mongols detest the Chinese.

  5. turcopolier says:

    In the Russian mind, they are all the same. pls

  6. turcopolier says:

    So, you do not accept Syria’s status as sovereign status at as lord of this territory? pl

  7. TV says:

    “The Russians want better relations with the US.”
    Which is why they buzz USN ships?
    The latest massive loss of data by a so-called “intelligence” agency.
    YOu seem like a smart guy and spent a lot of time in the intelligence world.
    Are they really that stupid and incompetent?

  8. turcopolier says:

    Buzzing ships is a minor matter of signaling. Are you that stupid as to not know that? Are there a lot of people in the IC as stupid as this? Yes. pl

  9. TV says:

    I guess that I am that stupid.
    What is their possible gain from buzzing our ships?

  10. Ghostship says:

    “This, IMO is obstructed by the mindless insistence of the US on the overthrow of the Syrian government.”
    I reckon that Trump has dumped this in favour of liquidating ISIS, and I suspect that Al Qaeda will be next, so Syria will survive although it’ll probably be left to the R+6 to clean the FSA and their Turkish supporter out.
    A lot of what is happening in Washington is, I suspect, a smokescreen to prevent the neo-cons, liberal interventionists and Qatari/Saudi PR from disrupting Trump’s plan.
    Meanwhile, AMN announced the capture of the Al-Kibar military base, which was the supposed location of the alleged Syrian reactor the the Israels allegedly bombed. As far as I could make out it was nothing more than a warehouse.
    And there’s a nice map of SDF/YPG positions around of Raqqa here:

  11. YT says:

    The late Harrison Evans Salisbury wrote about this [Russian] hatred for the asiatics.

  12. different clue says:

    If the fight between the Coalition Of Lawful Authority and the Global Axis of Jihad is over opposing visions of governance and society, then it is not “over” the “real estate”, and it matters which side wins and loses.
    The DC FedRegime has supported the Global Axis of Jihad. Many readers here prefer to see a victory by the Coalition Of Lawful Authority. Some of Trump’s voters voted Trump in part hoping that Trump would force the DC FedRegime to drop its alliance with the Global Axis of Jihad. It makes a real difference who wins this.

  13. Peter AU says:

    ISIS country vs Idlib… in my MSM media reading lately I see that apparently a limit was set on the number of US boots in Syria at 503.
    More boots have now been shipped in. Apparently approaching the 900 to 1000 mark. This has been justified by saying the 503 limit is for permanent boots whereas the extras are temporary.
    I do not know if this is correct or not. If this is correct, there are now permanent US boots on the ground in Syria. What is the definition of permanent?
    If Russia Syria are also looking at it in this way, then they may be looking at the US in the east as a bigger threat than the headchoppers in Idlib. It would be much easier to remove the Idlib headchoppers at a later date than the US military.
    My take on Russia’s aims for what its worth. To defeat the US Russia must provide a better product. I call current Russia Putin’s Russia as the executive seem to be very like minded. To sell his product he must deliver on his word. Syria is a showcase. When the job is completed and if they think it is a good job, they will also buy.
    The stated vision of Putin,s Russia is for a multi polar world. A world that if any one country goes rogue, be it US or Russia or China or India and declares it wishes to gain full spectrum dominance over the others, all other countries will join forces to prevent this.
    I have read a lot of history, mainly on war as that is what changes history, but Putin’s Russia seems to be different than anything I have read. The nearest I see is early America.

  14. ToivoS says:

    pl says: Is Russia screwing the Syria government in their own interest?
    No. Russia is most definitely pursuing its own national interests. As it turns out Russia’s interest and those of Syria happen to be congruent at this point in time. Should their interests diverge in the future then it might happen that Russia will screw Syria. But it has not yet happened.

  15. ToivoS says:

    pl says: To that end the Russians have (IMO) dragged Syria to a climactic battle in the east at Raqqa .
    I have to disagree with that. It is in Russia’s national interests to preserve the Syrian state in those areas along the eastern Mediterranean. The current Assad government wants to preserve its boundaries in the east of the country and Russia is supporting him in that goal. I think Russia is supporting Assad in this region in order to maintain its influence. If they betray Assad they will lose all influence in what remains of Syria.

  16. Willybilly says:

    If any entity in this crazy world comes close to the utter destruction of Humanity, it will be the Izzies. Period.
    Everything we see today happening since 2006…. has been feverishly planned by the Izzies, and the centerpiece of all this planning is cutting Iran territorially from Syria/Lebanon…. and the attempt again at destroying Hizbullah. Period. The US is utterly and completely subservient to the Izzies In this maelstrom. The US and the Izzies will loose big, No matter what they throw in this theater…. You can take that to the bank.
    Most people still do not understand Putin’s mind… your analysis of Russia is still lacking and narrow in its scope…

  17. kooshy says:

    Apparently according to CNN, General Flynn got $500k from Erdo’ Turkey to lobby for them (while he was on payroll of US government?), and he forgot to mention it, till couple of days ago, when he got time off of the NSC. One wonders if he knew Turkey is a Muslim country? if he did, he must than like the Muslim’ money, but not their religion, or maybe he thought if he gets the money they may change their religion on their own, without needing him to put them on notice. This is since, earlier it was reported, that he is infected, with the rapidly spreading islamophobia, and we all know that Turkey’s ruling party, is an islamist party, close to Muslim Brotherhood. I wonder if in DC there is a difference between the consultants and the lobbyists or if everybody wears two hats.

  18. Peter AU says:

    Russia screwin Syria
    Syrian, Russians, Kurds and Chechens dance together

  19. Pundita says:

    Dodged that bullet:
    Flynn discloses lobbying that may have helped Turkey
    BY MEGAN R. WILSON – 03/08/17 08:02 PM EST
    The Hill
    Michael Flynn, who was fired from President Donald Trump’s national security team last month, has retroactively registered with the Justice Department for work he did that may have benefited the government of Turkey.
    His now-defunct firm, the Flynn Intel Group, notified the government on Wednesday that it had done work for Inovo BV, a privately owned consulting firm in the Netherlands run by Turkish businessman Kamil Alptekin, beginning in August 2016.
    From August through mid-November, the Flynn Intel Group received $530,000 from Inovo, according to the forms filed with the Justice Department. Flynn shut down his firm in November.
    Pence: Flynn’s Turkey ties ‘affirmation’ of his ouster
    BY JORDAN FABIAN – 03/09/17 05:44 PM EST
    The Hill
    Michael Flynn’s newly disclosed lobbying ties to Turkey bolster President Trump’s decision to oust him as national security adviser, Vice President Pence said Thursday.
    “I think it is an affirmation of the president’s decision to ask Gen. Flynn to resign,” Pence said in an interview with Fox News.

  20. Wunduk says:

    In terms of Russian-led coalitions this reminds me of the signing of the agreement in Kumanovo and then the Russian Pristina dash in 1999. Not necessarily to the benefit of junior partner Serbia, but brought home to all the idea that Russia was ‘back’ on a global level.
    Also, I suspect that there was an agreement by Russia with Turkey that rendered Idlib and in particular the Syrian Turkmen areas North of Dabiq towards the Turkish border and North of Idlib as a lower priority for the re-establishment of SAR authority. Maybe this was with a view of resettling there the up to 300,000 Syrian Turkmen who fled Latakia. As long as this agreement with Erdogan holds, I would not expect the SAA to push for Idlib or Dabiq.
    The Russian and Syrian effort towards Raqqa is likely aiming to beat the US in being the only player in the Euphrates valley.
    Looking at the agenda of the Russian DoD’s annual international conference (http://eng.mil.ru/files/6_MCIS_booklet.pdf), I think they’d like to come out on a global stage with a significant trophy in the fight against ISIL by end-April.
    Maybe this will include a presentation how to achieve reconciliation and reintegrate the ‘dissatisfied Sunni Arabs’.
    Also I think it is likely that the SAA and the Syrian intelligence agencies are probably as the only force with the knowledge, contacts and operational ability to control the Sunni Arab majority Euphrates valley, re-knit the web of social control. Hmaymen airbase reconciliation center would act as the guarantor. Ready to discuss the hypthesis that this could be done by a re-established US ‘Sahwa’ team, but I don’t see that in existence. The US’ Kurdish allies have fought heroically. I see it as unlikely that how SDF will be able to control Arab villages, given that the YPG ideological baggage is already difficult to swallow for Kurdish communities.

  21. LondonBob says:

    So the big Putin-Netanyahoo meet yesterday. From the press reports seems that the Netanyahoo BFF routine met with failure.
    From various media reports it seems that Trump listens a lot to Mattis. Mattis might not be a friend to Russia and Iran, but he certainly isn’t to Israel either and suggestions are he is the big driver of Trump’s hard line on Israel. Clearly Trump calls the shots ultimately and he is pushing for cooperation with Russia whilst he is not interested in pushing on Israel.
    I will go with the US military and the Trump administration aren’t that bothered by borgist dreams towards Syria and the reality is that the US won’t be in a position to determine the ultimate settlement anyway. The real question mark for me is if I have underestimated the number and influence of Iran obsessives out there, although that seems to have gone quiet now. I think Trump is more concerned about domestic issues than to allow Iran to become the dominant focus of his administration that some would love.

  22. Lars – It’s a bit late for a “containment” policy. It is also difficult to see how it can be implied that the Syrian War is some sort of local dispute with which we should not get involved. The Syrian War happened because we got involved.
    The fight the Jihadis have been putting up requires weapons and men.
    Some of the weapons the Jihadis use came through Turkey, a NATO ally. They seem mostly to be paid for by the Saudis and Qataris, also Western-friendly countries. They are sourced from Eastern Europe, allegedly from post-collapse Libya and, one hopes inadvertently or indirectly but the Syrians don’t believe it, from the West. The Jihadis are ingenious in devising improvised weapons but there’s no doubt the bulk of the weaponry comes from outside Syria. At the height of the conflict in the Ukraine it was said that around a train load of ammunition could be used in a single battle. I don’t know how that would scale across but the ammunition used by the Jihadis has to come from somewhere also
    I think the Syrians need “containment” from us as far as weaponry and ammunition goes.
    The Jihadis themselves come from all over. Any true policy of “containment” would have kept most of them out, not in. They enter Syria in various ways, some again through Turkey. Those from China, for example, are smuggled through to Turkey, via routes the Chinese aren’t too happy about incidentally, and then in to Syria. Some, allegedly, are sold on to the Jihadis at so much a head. Yes, there’s a lot of “allegedly” and “seems” around, nothing you can put forward as rock solid proof, but there are a whole lot of Jihadis and weaponry around too and they didn’t come from nowhere. Nor did most come from inside Syria.
    Then there are the “moderate rebels”. Here we can dispense with all the “allegedlys” and “seems” and go to solid fact. The West has been recruiting, training and arming insurgents with the explicit aim of overthrowing the Syrian Government. You will recollect that we came close to going further than that and considered destroying the Syrian armed forces, Libya style, in order to ensure victory for the insurgents.
    This was no policy of “containment” or even of non-involvement. This was a policy of deliberately overthrowing a government we didn’t like. An opportunistic policy at that, poorly conceived and executed, that could not have caused more distress and destruction to a very large number of people had it been designed to do so. Future historians will shake their heads in amazement that a small group of Western politicians could, in pursuit of this or that “Geo-strategic” fantasy, have caused so much damage to the Syrian people and to the peoples of the West itself.
    They will also note that in an age when communication has never been easier those politicians contrived to so manage the various means of communication that they could ensure that very little of what was happening was known to the Western populations themselves.
    Those historians, when assessing how much the Western peoples knew of the events in Syria, will probably conduct a debate much like that debate over the involvement of the German people in the Holocaust. “To what degree were the people as a whole complicit?” “How much did they know and how much did they understand?” In the course of that debate, who knows, they might read a copy of this thread here and might come across this comment:- “There have been fighting over that patch of real estate for at least 10 000 years. Is there anything different with the current action? I know the actors have changed over the centuries, but have that made a difference? Is a containment policy possible and just let them wear themselves out?”
    If the historians do come across that comment then, in answer to the question “how much did the peoples of the West know of and understand what was happening in Syria?”, they’ll probably say – “Not much, it seems. It was strangely difficult to get at the facts.”

  23. Lars says:

    I was not being specific about any part of the area. I just wondered what is different today compared to the very long historical record. There may not be much of one. But I am open to a different take.
    This is not just about Syria, regardless of their current problems. This is the cradle of our civilization and the constant turmoil there does not bode well for the rest of the world.

  24. LeaNder says:

    IZ, I somewhat agree with Pat from my own field. I was pretty astonished when I stumbled across the “Yellow Peril” in Russia’s ‘mental history’. Maybe in the larger context of literary Dystopia at the turn of the 19/20th century. Made me look up its military history, that I recall.

  25. Peter Reichard says:

    Syria faces a two front war with insufficient forces to simultaneously engage both decisively. Which one first? While the Idlib based rebels represent the more proximate, immediate and dangerous threat they are for the moment contained, their offensive operations in abeyance. Meanwhile events in the East are moving quickly, ISIS appears to be on the verge of a total systemic collapse which would usher in a power vacuum in the eastern half of the country that Turks, Kurds and Americans would be sure to fill. For this reason I believe the East first strategy is the correct one. The drive from Aleppo to the Euphrates blocks the Turks from moving further south and finally halts any supplies that might be leaking through the presumed Turkish cut off. (Who knows what double game the Turks might still be playing?) Raqqa itself is relatively unimportant, let others take the casualties. The goals are 1) Secure the waters of Lake Assad. 2) Secure the oil and gas fields. 3) Relieve Deir-i-Zor. 4) Secure the Iraq border to prevent ISIS movement in both directions. 5) Trap and kill as many retreating ISIS forces as possible. 6) Occupy as much territory as is possible. 7) For international consumption the SAA be seen as a major factor in the ISIS defeat. Then the final battle in Idlib can take place.

  26. kooshy says:

    Thank you for a great comment.

  27. turcopolier says:

    peter reichard
    “they are for the moment contained, their offensive operations in abeyance.” your statement assumes that they will remain quiescent until you are ready to deal with them. Why would you assume that? Assumptions like that are dangerous. pl

  28. JohnA says:

    FYI verbatim through Google translation:
    Alexey_Pushkov Tweet 16h16 hours ago
    68 countries, members of the Western coalition, will discuss the fight against IG without Russia. Meet and discuss without Russia can – you can not win.

  29. turcopolier says:

    Not stupid, just ill informed. the signal is clear – Stay away from our shores! These encounters have occurred close to Russian shores as the US Navy presses its doctrine of freedom of navigation. pl

  30. turcopolier says:

    If Flynn was retired from the Army then there would be no problem. Retired pay from the military is not equivalent to “being on the government payroll.” pl

  31. Morongobill says:

    To get a message across to stay out of their sphere of influence.

  32. kooshy says:

    Good morning colonel, in my comment I used the question mark because I was not sure if he was lobbying while he was NSA, and obviously a USG employee, apparently he wrote an article promoting Turkish relationship on day of inauguration.

  33. Chris Chuba says:

    By ‘screwin’ I believe that the Col meant that the Russians would overrule Assad’s desire to go after Idlib and force him to make a big push against ISIS, that they would treat Assad like a junior partner. I do not believe that he meant that the Russians would sell out Syria and put Assad’s head on a platter and give it to the ‘Assad must go’ crowd.
    What happens after ISIS is defeated?
    On a separate topic, I have to laugh at all of these Talking Heads who are fretting that the U.S. will be stuck in Syria after ISIS is defeated just like we got stuck in Afghanistan and Iraq. They don’t get it, praise be to Volodya (and even Obama), we did not destroy the govt of Syria so we will NOT be stuck in a quagmire. Assad governs 70% of the population and the Kurds 10%. In Iraq and Afghanistan we destroyed 100% of the governing institutions.
    After ISIS is defeated in Syria, we win.

  34. Peter Reichard says:

    Yes, it is a risky assumption but the eastern half of the country will soon be up for grabs and if left to others could result in the de facto partition of the country. The danger is in giving the Idlib rebels time to regroup, any delay making the eventual reduction of Idlib that much more costly but so much right now is at stake in the east. A tough call to make for the Syrian High Command.

  35. turcopolier says:

    Chuba is right. Russia is serving its own interests at Syria’s expense but they do not intend to abandon Syria. Syria is too important to heir long term position in the ME. With regard to the value of eastern Syria there is no doubt of that. The question lies in the issue of timing and priorities. I remain convinced that Idlib would have been first in priorities from the Syrian POV. pl

  36. b says:

    I disagree Pat.
    From the Syrian government perspective the cut off of drinking water from Aleppo was THE major crisis. Only yesterday (after 40 days!) did the SAA recover the pumping station at the Euphrates from the Islamic State.
    This was priority 1!
    Priority 2 was restricting further Turkish movement south. This has also been achieved with the same east-Aleppo move.
    The east-Aleppo offensive is now unlikely to continue with the same urgency. This will depend on how fast IS retreats. Should there be significant resistance along the line of contact the SAA will likely halt its movement and just consolidate the position for a while.
    Another priority is recovering opposition held areas around Damascus. These are binding A LOT of SAA soldiers. When those positions are recovered at least a brigade worth of combat troops will be free to go elsewhere.
    Meanwhile Idleb again saw bloody infighting between Ahrar and al-Qaeda. Takbeer! Al-Qaeda has lost support in the local population and most of its foreign sponsors. Do not disturb them while they continue to make mistakes.
    The SAA is now freeing up forces that will be able to be used for the big push in Idleb when the time for that has come. That push can only be successful when Turkey closes the borders for resupplies. Erdogan is in Moscow today and will be told what to do and what not to do.
    Meanwhile the U.S. is occupying east-Syria and is now talking of a “stabilization mission” after Raqqa is conquered. Mission creep into another quagmire. There is nothing the SAA or Russia can do about it for now. But should the U.S. have the idea to stay longer than absolutely necessary it will have to prepare for lots of guerrilla action against its forces.
    Russia will take care of its interests. But it will neither leave Syria’s and Iran’s interests aside. It will try to integrate those into its own action. It has to as it needs both these partners at its side.
    Thinking that Russia MUST get back on good footing with the U.S. is, in my view, wrong. It will not pay any prices for that. Putin knows well that the U.S. can never be trusted. He has experienced that. He has no illusion about the (non exiting) steadiness of U.S. promises. A reasonable deal though will not be rejected.

  37. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The Spanish Civil War was a mini-World War that preceded World War II.
    Let us hope that the analogous mini-World War in Syria is not followed by a World War.
    We could be one single assassination away from World War III starting from the Near East.

  38. Babak Makkinejad says:

    It is in Pushkin too.
    And even shows up in one of Tarkovsky’s movies.
    Simon Leys reports on hearing the same sentiment from a high-ranking Soviet Diplomat posted to China in his book: “Chinese Shadows”.

  39. eakens says:

    Do you ever read any stories about USAF buzzing Russian ships? If the Russians do it, it gets written up and strengthens them. If we do it, nobody writes about it because it weakens us. That in itself tells you were are on the wrong side of this.

  40. turcopolier says:

    Yes. We disagree. IMO it will be harder and harder to destroy the rebels in Idlib. It is easy to be distracted from the main objective and I think that this is one of those cases. An example in history would be the point in Barbarossa at which Hitler overruled OKH to divert the main thrust of Army Groups Center and South to an encirclement of several hundred thousand Soviet troops rather than continuing to drive straight to Moscow. this was a fatal mistake as the opportunity was missed to destroy the Soviet government and system. Aleppo has been without city water for years. It could have waited a few weeks longer. At least the municipal busses are running again. Now I know that you regard American power as a wasting asset. I don’t think that the Russians agree. pl

  41. trinlae says:

    And re drought factor, this documentary by Hollywood A-listers is perhaps the easiest way to take it in :
    It is also a relief to see that the regime change zombie, while still alive, is less strong today in public minds at least than earlier.
    Unfortunately in light of US track record in ME, i view usa there with only cynicism and see any good from it out weighed by the chronic death and destruction that always follows in the wake. As Trinity College ME studies professor Vijay Prashad says, “it only takes 24 hours to destroy a functioning government, but 100 or more years to build one.”

  42. trinlae says:

    Only in the Europe/West facing Russian face, imho.
    Mongolian ethnicity and culture stretches far into Russian Federation and has influenced white Russia at least intellectually for hundreds of years. For example the university of St Petersburg has maintained an extensive archive of the Buddhist canon in Tibetan language for over a hundred years, and I have heard of no such analogous Chinese cultural interests by Russia, or, if they exist, are quite distinct from Kalmuk/Mongolian/Tibetan interests.
    But, geopolitically, if the models turn out to be true, and all of east China is under water in 50 years, Russis will bear a refugee brunt an order of magnitude more populous than that faced by Europe from ME.

  43. Sam Peralta says:

    Does anyone know how the US ground troops were inserted into Syria? By land through Turkey or by air? Are there any heavy lift airfields in the area?

  44. Kooshy says:

    Yes that is very possible, the west particularly US, is not happy or even merely satisfied with the resaults of her wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and maybe Yemen. As of the resault thier own doing not only related western waring governments but also the western people are edgy and blame the meddilesterners as well as the Russians for thier own mishaps, that makes
    The possibility of a world wide war ever more possible.

  45. b says:

    @Pat – there was deal between the government and ISIS about water supply from Al-Khafsah at the Euphrates for Aleppo (in exchange for electricity?).
    That never stopped until mid-end January. Until then only local substations had time limited problems due to local fighting within Aleppo.
    Now the whole supply from the main source was cut. No part of the city had any reasonable supply left and there was no chance to get any from another source. This was a first class emergency that had not occurred before.
    You were urging a move to Idlib but there were too few available forces. Turkey was coming in from the north threatening an attack on Aleppo from the east. ISIS was revenging the gas fields in east-Homs that are needed for electricity. Wadi Barada water was cut from Damascus. That is where forces were needed. Only now have those situations been cleared up. Only now are forces available for a big push on Idlib. (This still can only happen if nothing else unforeseen comes up.)
    The question of outside support for AQ in Idlib is still somewhat unclear. It will be difficult to beat it if the Turkish borders stay wide open and weapons continue to flow. (The NYT just pushed a new “cuddly moderate” al-Qaeda piece and the UK government has a new campaign about those “brave” (never seen before) White Helmet/al-Qaeda women. What does this mean? Renewed al-Qaeda support?)
    The Idlib campaign must be forceful enough to be decisive. An attack that keeps stuck after a few miles would be a useless waste. Only when all ducks are in line will the big push begin.

    “Now I know that you regard American power as a wasting asset. I don’t think that the Russians agree.”
    I don’t understand what you mean by that.
    Russia will no be willing to pay an unreasonable price for good relations with the U.S. It will not give up any strategic assets. The U.S. is a too wobbly partner to risk that.

  46. turcopolier says:

    So, the IS jihadis screwed their fellow but enemy AQ type jihadis in Aleppo City by bartering with the government – water for electricity. I presume that the ISniks also supplied the natural gas to generate the electricity? With regard to the coming and inevitable Idlib offensive I quite agree that it must be decisive and clearly a disaster for the rebels or it will be a disaster for the government. In my experience it I good to be an ME type. There is always someone you can betray and feel good about it. I hope that wastage of assets has not been severe in the east. pl

  47. VietnamVet says:

    It isn’t like there aren’t millions of Americans who already passed through SE Asia or the Middle East and who have seen the chauvinism of other cultures; in particular, the Chinese. Yet, the Western Elite sold and shipped its industry lock stock and barrel to China to get rich. The corruption was as simple as buying Russian rocket engines to launch military satellites instead of paying more to build them in the USA. It is a peculiar hubris mixed with blindness that avoids acknowledging the collapse of the rule of law and continues fighting unwinnable wars.

  48. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    Norbert, I agree that the avoidance of nuclear war between the USA and Russia is front rank imperative of Russian foreign policy, and that is why they are so concerned about the US/NATO pushing anti-missile systems right up to their western borders. If they did indeed try to influence the recent presidential election because of Hilary’s unapologetic advocacy of a confrontational policy, I’m glad they did it. It was not only in their national interest but ours as well, and even the Israelis. I think it’s far more likely that nuclear war would break out as a result of s**t happening down the chain of command than because of a deliberate decision at the national command level. Based on what’s emerged over the last couple of decades, it’s now apparent that the Cuban Missile Crisis was a much closer run thing than people thought at the time.

  49. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    There are many Kalmuk/Mongolian/Tibetan/Tatar/Turkic ethnicities who identify w/ Russia and are accepted as such. Shoygu comes to mind; Tuvan is a Turkic language.Here is Dina Garipova from Tataristan:
    Ishmael Zechariah
    P.s: Perhaps you all know that this was a song of a war against us, Turks. This campaign resulted, decades later, on Turkey entering Nato (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_Straits_crisis ). One relative was serving on the eastern front,in Erzurum. His artillery unit was ordered to the Soviet border after Stalin’s Ultimatum. Turkey was ready to declare war, despite being almost sure of losing.
    P.p.s: The Golden Horde was first Mongol and then Turkic. Some of us identify w/ them far more than we identify w/ the Muslim Arabs.

  50. Ghostship says:

    Once ISIS is gone, the only legal justification (UNSC Resolution 2249) for American boots on the ground is if they’re there to eradicate the Al Nusrah Front safe havens in Syria.
    “Calls upon Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all
    necessary measures, in compliance with international law, in particular with the United Nations Charter, as well as international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, on the territory under the control of ISIL also known as Da’esh, in Syria and Iraq, to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL also known as Da’esh as well as ANF, and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the United Nations Security Council, and as may further be agreed by the International Syria Support Group
    (ISSG) and endorsed by the UN Security Council, pursuant to the Statement of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) of 14 November, and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria;”

  51. Ghostship says:

    Especially as AMN just reported that a new jihadist group Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS – al-Nusrah rebranding again) is on its way from Idlib to north west Aleppo governorate to confront a possible SAA attack.

  52. turcopolier says:

    Yes. I cited that to “b” below. This would seem to support my argument. pl

  53. Serge says:

    Footage of protests in Azaz calling for overthrowing Assad. Note the omnipresence of TURKISH police. This needs to be nipped in the bud

  54. JMH says:

    Guderian’s double envelope? Wow, can’t win by winning. Based on the outcome, Hitler blew it, but perhaps he misplaced the army in the field for the enemy’s center because that’s what he thought Clausewitz told him to do.

  55. Sam Peralta,
    They came in through Qamishli. We have built up an agricultural airfield 30 miles outside the city last year. I don’t know whether we flew the troops and equipment straight into that airfield or into Irbil first and then either road marched through Qamishli or flown into the Qamishli airfield.

  56. Lyttenburgh says:

    Good writing as usual, Colonel. But:
    The Russians want better relations with the US. They want this to avoid their eventual submission to a junior partner status with China in which the menace of the Golden Horde’s repression comes again. (Look it up)
    Better relations can be of varying degrees. What Russia wants from the US is, ultimately to recognize the legitimacy of its government (read: no funding for fifth column “opposition” or trying to stage a coup) and the legitimacy of Russia’s sphere of influence. Seeing as Napoleon is already mentioned by you, Russia wants a new Tilzit – only a better one, because I see no Freidland-like defeat suffered by Russia this time. And as Russia is currently undefeated, why should it agree for something less than what it got after one?
    At the same time, if we (okay – me!) want to continue the Napoleonic era analogy, one of conditions set up by Bonaparte was that Russia would join the Continental Blockade against Britain. Alexander I acquiesced to that. We don’t know what he felt at the moment. Probably – a dread from the breath of death, reminded of the circumstances of his father’s death. And the reason for that wasn’t the Perfidious Albion being, well, perfidious as always – the reason was the economic situation in Russia at the moment. Russia supplied Britain with grain and shipbuilding material. Without Russian (or Swedish – but they were dealt with later) logs, resin, hemp, flax etc. the Royal Navy will be severely under-supplied. At the same time, the export of these strategic goods helped fill the Imperial coffers – and pockets of Russian nobility, the central pillar of the Monarchy.
    This dilemma had been resolved in a typically Russian fashion. It’s been agreed upon, then violated immediately. While all the right words were uttered and from time to time some authorities put on a show of extremely competent activity in the deal of enforcing the blockade, it virtually never took place. The needs of the country and the monarchy dictated so.
    Stories about Asiatic hordes ready to invade Russia from the East became a thing in the 90s, when Russia was weak, and considered a “friend” of the West. Most often this idea had been propagated by the self-described “liberals” and “democrats” in Russian political establishment and intelligentsia. They argued, therefore, that Russia must acquiesced to the West, who will protect it from the inevitable Asiatic Invasion.
    They were proven wrong. There is no invasion. Russia failed to break up despite their hopes and predictions. They do repeat this mantra about China “dominating” Russia any moment now with no proof as usual. Here in Russia there is no prevalent Sinophobia, or the fear of the “Asiatic Hordes” – neither among the ordinary people, nor, as can be deduced by their public speeches, from the political elite.
    The thing is – Russia and China have to cooperate and will continue to do so. American Presidents come and go, the vector of the US foreign policy gets adjusted all the time, while your neighbouring countries remain. The desire to “get along with the US” can’t ever trump it. Russia and China represent the greatest obstacle to the unipolar US dominated world – they represent multi-polar dominated by no one in particular. China has the raw industrial power and economic potential greater than Russia. Russia, OTOH, possess all kinds of vital resources and the capability to annihilate entire world should someone try to take its land. Therefore, only together can they resist all attempts by the US to dictate their will to the world. Should one decide to throw another under the bus trying to win over the favour of America and it will be the next under the wheels.

  57. Lyttenburgh says:

    2Norbert M Salamon
    I’m in the near total agreement with you here. The US is not used to the concept of the truly equal partnership, more accustomed to the sovereign-vassals dynamic of its own dealings with “allies” and “friends”. Russia, understandably, has no desire to become a “friend” of America only to be ordered around – we had it under Boris the Drunkard in the 90s.
    You also write:
    “There is another ointment coloring the possible relation between the US and Russia and that is Mr. Putin’s view [reflected by most Russians, it seems] the need for the old Christian Morality for the state, for in his view the extreme views of neo-liberalism versus the individual is destructive to the organization of humanity, be it within Russia or within the world.”
    I don’t suppose that you are writing about truly Old Christianity of the Ancient world here 😉 In that case we need to call spade a spade – i.e. the Orthodox Christianity. It’s, indeed, old and do have a solid claim to the Apostolic Succession, which cannot be said to the vast majority of other denominations It is opposed to the individualistic worldview of the modern liberalism and so-called “values” exposed by it.
    But it’s not given to the proselytism. It doesn’t want to the world converting heathen en-masse, giving them the choice between Death or Salvation. Frankly, no one in Russia wants to stop gay parades in Europe, or to lobby for the abolishment of truly criminal laws of the so-called “system of the juvenal justice” as it’s understood in the West. We simply don’t want to have it here at home.
    So the true problem is not with Russia not accommodating or tolerating a certain behavior in others, but with the preachers of the neo-liberalism, who can’t let Russia be itself.

  58. Lyttenburgh says:

    Hy! Actually Russian here. I’m slightly preplexed by these new revelations. Care to explain them to me?
    “In the Russian mind, they are all the same. pls”
    No. We are capable of making such easy distinction.
    YT said:
    “The late Harrison Evans Salisbury wrote about this [Russian] hatred for the asiatics.”
    Not true. And Salisbury had his own Sinophobic biases.
    Babak Makkinejad said:
    “It is in Pushkin too.”
    You know, I’ve read Pushkin rather extensively – not just the bare minimum required in school, but also his letters and non-fiction works (like “The Journey from Moscow to Petersburg”) Where did he wrote about China?
    “And even shows up in one of Tarkovsky’s movies.”
    Which one?
    “Simon Leys reports on hearing the same sentiment from a high-ranking Soviet Diplomat posted to China in his book: “Chinese Shadows”.”
    So… anecdotal evidence that might not be even true?

  59. Lyttenburgh says:

    trinlae said
    “But, geopolitically, if the models turn out to be true, and all of east China is under water in 50 years, Russis will bear a refugee brunt an order of magnitude more populous than that faced by Europe from ME.”
    “… or the horse will learn how to sing”
    Seriously? This is your prediction?

  60. confusedponderer says:

    “Hitler overruled OKH to divert the main thrust of Army Groups Center and South to an encirclement of several hundred thousand Soviet troops rather than continuing to drive straight to Moscow”
    That was one part. The successful battle against Japan’s Kwangtung Army at Nomonhan in 1938 and 1939 allowed the Russians to reposition Schukov and his well trained and mechanised army to the defence of Moscow. They made a difference.
    Since the Japanese Kwangtung Army had been handed their vain asses in Mongolia during the embarassing defeat in Nomonhan, the Japanese were very much disinclined to learn more about the Russians and their way of doing combat.
    Thanks to Kwangtung Army’s vainglorious try at glory, Japan was disinclined to offer Hitler help by invading Russia and create a second front. Richard Sorge informed the Russians about that.

  61. Henshaw says:

    That link looks odd- is it to your own download of the web pages?
    It’s an excellent article, well worth reading, or re-reading.
    The original link is

  62. turcopolier says:

    You seem quite active in the internet world. The always ambiguous IP data would indicate that you live in a place full of educated people. We welcome educated or at least plausibly voluble people here on SST. The point being made here about background attitudes toward East Asians among Russians is not intended to describe an educated and worldly person like you. No! It is an attempt to describe what might be called folk attitudes or rather a Jungian mass memory. pl

  63. turcopolier says:

    You turned on the italics and left it on. pl

  64. Hood Canal Gardner says:

    “A meditation on Alliances and Coailtions in war. Someone is always on top, someone on the bottom.”
    Prancing horses never paid all that much attention learning how to read: Constitution or UCMJ. Just silly words on paper.

  65. turcopolier says:

    “Prancing horses never paid all that much attention learning how to read.” Who? What? pl

  66. Clonal Antibody says:

    I wonder what people think of this – Assad: No one invited US to Manbij, all foreign troops in Syria without permission are ‘invaders’

    Any foreign forces, including those from the US, that enter Syria without invitation are invaders, Syrian President Bashar Assad told Chinese media in an interview, noting that no one had given the US troops currently in Manbij permission to be there.
    “Any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation or consultation or permission, they are invaders, whether they are American, Turkish, or any other one,” Assad told Chinese PHOENIX TV, as cited by the Syrian state-run SANA news agency.
    When a journalist asked the Syrian president if Damascus had “opened doors” for American troops in Aleppo province’s city of Manbij, Assad said “No, we didn’t.”

  67. LeaNder says:

    Lyttenburgh, don’t recall you’ve been around here before. Appreciate your challenge.
    Anyway: there seem to be experts around here that can stop italics. Hopefully someone does. Happened to me too once, and I was lured into traps. I guess someone tested me. 😉 Sees to come with heightened emotions.
    anyway myth is a pretty complex matter.

  68. Lyttenburgh says:

    “The always ambiguous IP data would indicate that you live in a place full of educated people”
    No, just Russia :). Or do you mean Moscow and the oblast? Well… St.Pete natives tend to disagree with that ;). And, yes, I’m Russian – born and resident.
    ” No! It is an attempt to describe what might be called folk attitudes or rather a Jungian mass memory.”
    Well… hmmm… It’s hard to explain. I ain’t no Ivory Tower living academician – I have a provincial background (Sverdlovsk/Yekaterinburg, then Moscow Oblast). I served in the army. I am from what you’d call “working intelligentsia” of doctors, teachers civil engineers, i.e. of the people most likely to rub shoulders with the “ordinary people”, be they Andrei the auto-mechanic, Pavel the sales manager in the computer salon or Bohdan the programmer from Mtsensk (Oryol oblast).
    So, I hope, I do have a knowledge what the vast majority of my countrymen think about daily. Most often then not I tend to share their thoughts. There was no Western like “racism” (i.e. the teaching about the superiority/inferiority of different races) taking roots in Russia by whatever name it went during its history. Therefore, there is no an absolutely insane, over the top reaction to it, that went so far as to demand the mere notion of Race to become an anathema – and the Guilty Party (three guesses – who!) spending his days on the knees paying and repenting, repenting and paying.
    And so… the Chinese. They don’t feature in Russian ordinary narrative. At all. Yes, there are all usual stereotypes, that “Made in Chine” equals crap, all your usual anecdotes about Chinese “superior science”, military prowess and the sheer volume of population that could be traced back to the Soviet times. But the Chinese as the people and China as the country are virtually absent in the talks and thoughts of the ordinary folks. Sometimes, the news cycle will bring to our attention some event concerning China. Like – a corrupt official getting executed. People will nod approvingly and say something like “Way to go! Why won’t we do the same?”. Or some big construction project getting completed in China. People just shrug and say “Big deal! There are lots of them there”.
    Other than that – no. No talks of the horde. Even the memories of the Mongol invasion are not featuring in the national narrative due to, perhaps, sadly lapsing general knowledge of history. Mongol invasion was absolutely horrific and destructive. I know – I’m historian, albeit, the “joys” of the Medieval Russian history are not my field of specialization. But I do *know* just how horrific it was. But… so what? Whom are we supposed to fear and hate 800 odd years since? Modern Mongolia? Please! Have you seen this country?
    P.S. Also, I’ve noticed that not all text below my topmost comment changed into italics. Well, what can I say? I, Lyttenburgh, take the responsibility for this cyber-crime which I managed to pull out (somehow!) by fumbling with the code. You can reference my action as the irrefutable proof of Russian hackers existence and tireless attempts to harm the USA! 🙂

  69. turcopolier says:

    I would welcome an informed Russian POV here but, small minded American that I am I do not welcome snotty nastiness on SST. Understand? pl

  70. calicochris says:

    I would love to see a reply to Clonal Antibody’s question. I read faithfully but being neither a solder nor a writer, I stay with reading. But that question is one that has been bothering me.

  71. J says:

    Colonel, All,
    FYI an article appearing in both Zero Hedge and a Russian website. The author of the article when its traced down is General Yuri Baluyevsky, not the individual the articles cite.
    So take it for what its worth.

  72. FB Ali says:

    As far as I can see, all text below your 11 March, 06:06 comment (in which you put a quote in italics) is in italics.
    I have tried to correct it, and hope it works.
    Col Lang, I would suggest putting the HTML symbols for ending textual changes under the Comments box as well. Maybe people will use them.

  73. JJackson says:

    I was nodding along in agreement with your post up until the end. You said Raqqa was important to the US and later that you hoped US allies would take it. My question is why?
    What is the US goal, aside from getting rid of Assad and that ship seems to have sailed. If, as I had assumed, the aim is to have some kind of friendly entity within what was Syria, before all this started, why would that be a good thing and how could it possibly work. The locals may or may not be IS true believers but I would of thought them more likely to want something like Hamas than anything the US was happy with. I also doubt that if they achieved some control they would not use it to undermine Assad’s attempts to rebuild his country and consolidate his position. None of which seems conducive to peace and stability.
    I have posted on this before but I think Putin has been re-branding Russia for the developing nations audience as not the USSR and not America in terms of reliability as an ally. He wants to be seen as a reliable ally and trading partner and, like China, one you can have without having to take on its ideological baggage. I therefore think he will not ‘screw the Syrian government’ just that they view a long term influence of the US, or Turkey, within Syria as a bigger problem for them and Syria. When the R+6 do clear Idlib I fully expect Russia to be there in as much force as is required and have probably promised Assad as much. If Russia can help Syria clear its territory of all uninvited foreign forces, and their proxies, and then withdraw and only help with reconstruction and defence this would go a long way in reassuring his audience about the new Russia.

  74. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Do your own research.

  75. Norbert M Salamon says:

    Thank you for your kind words and the clarification on certain moral issues.

  76. Hi, this should turn off the italics [/i]

  77. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Do not flatter yourself, hardly cyber-crime. More like cyber-annoyance.

  78. turcopolier says:

    I am an American soldier though sadly retired from active duty. I will always be that. The war aim of the US to completely suppress ISIS is one that I completely support. The US believes that killing IS jihadis at and around Raqqa is a good thing. I agree. The US has another war aim which is to remove the present Syrian government. I do not agree with that but I would have served in that war if I were still on active duty as I served two years in the VN War which I thought was stupid. For me the alternative would be to resign my commission. pl

  79. turcopolier says:

    FB Ali
    Thanks. Not sure I know how to do that. pl

  80. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    I’ll try to turn off the italics.

  81. Jackrabbit says:

    Hitler, in many discussions with his generals, repeated his order of “Leningrad first, the Donbass second, Moscow third”;[75] but he consistently emphasized the destruction of the Red Army over the achievement of specific terrain objectives.[76] Hitler believed Moscow to be of “no great importance” in the defeat of the Soviet Union[g] and instead believed victory would come with the destruction of the Red Army … (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Barbarossa)
    Note: The Donbass is an industrial center but also a transit point toward seizing Caucasus oil fields.

  82. different clue says:

    Clonal Antibody,
    A CountryState gov must defend its sovereignty over its territory in word as a marker for the future and assertion of its self-aware existence, even if it does not have the brute force power to enforce its sovereignty over all its official territory at this time.
    If I am right about that, then I don’t take Assad’s statements as “anti-America”. I take them as being pro-SAR.

  83. trinlae says:

    Yes, I had seen it remarked in some old chronicles that one key features leading to success of Mongolian Empire stretching across northwest Asia to Europe was their recognition of lacking civil administration skills, (being better endowed in the warrior department.) So after conquest, the first thing they did was re hire all the administrative technocrats and never demanded religious conversions, just treasury.
    I had heard of long Mongolian adminstration via locals in Iraq, and bring horsemen surely stretched Turkward via Caucus areas. But interestingly, I’ve never heard any legends connecting Mongol era w Persian empire. Perhaps Babak ji knows something.
    FYI a martial Mongolian style fetish – like streak still pervades a certain class of Buddhist “protectors of the faith” rituals across Tibet and the Himalayan region, aside from Mongolia of course. Dozens of drums are played invoking a vast troop marching sound, while another style on the same drum can be made to sound like a galloping horse that I noticed more deftly played by a few monks from eastern Tibet.
    Hear this video from the 14:00 mark: https://youtu.be/yd9qBY0UKG0
    I have some better clips in my private collection but wouldhave to dig them up.

  84. trinlae says:

    Not mine, this was a mapped model I saw. I didn’t search to confirm their sources, but Business Insider put their name on it. It was a model of “ALL ice melted” but one gets the general idea for less than all.
    I do recall Bernie Sanders citing DoD reports during his campaign forecasting environmental change as greatest med & long term threats to global security. i didn’t chase the citations however.

  85. Hood Canal Gardner says:

    Who: the same ego driven full-of-it/brevit searching-seeking officers and nc cadre that push the ‘limits’ in civilian life;
    Some ‘small stuff’ (text) What examples: UCMJ small print , International War Conventions, the small print on their enlistment documents…add the Constitution & BOR.
    Your use of the notion/s of meditation and winners and losers work for you..as is/context not quite for me..thought 2 cents was okay.

  86. trinlae says:

    Perhaps the international space station code of conduct can be extended to earth?
    My experiences are with the Russian high altitude helicopter pilots in Nepal and physicists on the experiments at Gran Sasso, Italy, and in both instances found the fabric of life much enriched by the contributions!

  87. Ken Macaulay says:

    Isn’t Idlib well within reach of most of the Russian air power stationed in Latakia? 88km’s would put it within even helicopter & su-25 range with a decent bit of loiter time…
    If ISIS/Al Qaeda/insurgents break cover to launch an attack the Russians should be able to rip them apart when they’re on the move.
    As long as they are keeping a close eye on things and are prepared for the eventuality I don’t see the big risk of leaving them alone for the moment (?).

    RE: western support – interesting article at BMPD. Ongoing weapon & ammunition supply contracts through US & Saudi proxies that go straight to the insurgents were renewed recently in Bulgaria.
    These are big contracts for smaller suppliers and a similar situation likely exists across Eastern Europe (including Belarus! which is apparently a major supplier???)
    The plants of Bulgaria bloom at the supply of weapons to jihadists in Syria
    A couple of good sources that some people might not know of for Russia/Eastern Europe
    – BMPD, which is CAST’s blog. CAST is something like Russias version of JANE’s but with more focus on independant military analysis. Very worth while resource. Use Yandex translator at http://bmpd.livejournal.com/)
    And EurAsia Daily – good collection of news & analysis outside the western bubble. https://eadaily.com/en/

  88. turcopolier says:

    Ken Macauley
    Ah, the air power mythology rises again! Air power can no more restore Idlib to Syrian government control than air power could liberate France in WW2. People live on the ground, not in the air. There is a basic rule in warfare that the longer you allow your enemy to consolidate his position the stronger he becomes. In the latter part of your comment you talk about supply contracts for jihadis in Bulgaria and imply that the US is still supplying the jihadis. I have good reason to think that is not true. The US is supplying the SDF who are armed with Warsaw Pact equipment from the apparently endless stocks in Eastern Europe. The Iraqi and Afghan militaries are also so armed and the US supplies them. In any event some of that Saudi supplied equipment is going to Idlib Province. Before you ask, no, the Turkish border is not really closed and Erdogan is playing both sides against the middle.

  89. LeaNder says:

    Interesting idea, Babak. I am sure artists have picked up on Piccasso’s Guernica.
    From the top of my head it reminds me of Weiss’ Aesthetics of Resistance:
    Spain, no doubt was that part of Europe where the larger ideological struggle drew quite a few from all over. Didn’t think about it for a long time.
    We call proxy wars – Stellvertreterkriege. One of those long German words. German speaking Wikipedians have added Syria.
    That said, good comment by English Outsider.

  90. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    It worked.

  91. Markf says:


  92. Lars – join the club. The club I was in, more or less, until quite recently.
    Up until recently I was, if not happy with constant Western military intervention, at least not that appalled by it. Of course the politicians screw up, but then they usually do. Of course military intervention always leads to unintended consequences, but then maybe things would have been even worse had we not gone in. That sort of reasoning. And as you perhaps indicate, there are trouble spots all over, particularly in the ME, always will be, and we can’t be blamed for trying to do something about them.
    That was the attitude in my club. It’s a big club and I belonged to it automatically. Parents, grandparents and beyond had served in the various wars Great Britain fought before I was born and they had much the same attitude. Then also the politicians were assumed as a matter of course to have screwed things up, often the military too, it was never as pretty or as straightforward as it was made out to be, but the cause was just and it was worth fighting for. Revisionist historians have chipped away at those simplicities since but that central assumption still holds for most of us. I’m no longer at all sure that that assumption can be extended to the subsequent Cold War – some of the historians are having a real go at that one – but certainly it was assumed as a matter of course at the time that we were on the side of the angels in the Cold War as well. The last time you can say that of, for us, was the Falklands and even there we can say that if the politicians and the intelligence services hadn’t screwed up so monumentally there’d have been no need for being on any side, of the angels or otherwise.
    We can no longer make that old central assumption that we’re bumbling around attempting to do good. We can no longer say that we are, if incompetently, attempting to make things go better in the various trouble spots. Either by direct intervention or by making use of local animosities we are making the trouble ourselves. Wherever you look – in the ME, in Eastern Europe, in Chechnya, as far as Xinjian, I can think of no single area of which we can say the people there have a better life because we openly or covertly intervened. Nor can we even appeal to Realpolitik and say we ourselves have a better life here because of our activities abroad. We don’t. For all except a very few the Grand Chessboard is a washout and we’re fools to think otherwise.
    One of the difficulties we have in leaving the club is that, at least for people of my age, we have and have had a good deal of contact with people in the Armed Forces. OK, they go where they’re sent and that’s the end of it, but it’s not good to think that they’re risking their necks for ends that are not worthwhile. Ultimately, the purpose of defence forces is to stop foreigners who might want to attack or interfere with us; very simplistic and non-PC, you might say, but if you don’t believe that we have no business putting money into a defence budget. The purpose of a defence force is not to attack or interfere with foreigners, to their serious disadvantage and to ours. I do not think it wrong to see both in the Sanders and in the Trump movement signs of an increasing number of people in America thinking that too. There are similar signs over here. Somehow we have to regain control of our political apparatus in order to ensure that those defence forces are used for the purpose they’re there for, and not for the dubious and often undisclosed purposes the politicians and their circle put them to.
    Discussion between those who’ve left the club and those who haven’t is difficult. All one can say is grub around such facts as it’s possible to get at, weigh them up, and see what you yourself make of them. But whatever conclusion you come to I do not think you can fairly argue, to return to the first comment you made, that the peoples of the ME would have screwed themselves up quite so comprehensively had we not been around. I hope you’d accept that much.

  93. Lyttenburgh says:

    LeaNder said:
    “Lyttenburgh, don’t recall you’ve been around here before. Appreciate your challenge.”
    Thank you for the kind words of welcome, LeaNder! I was more or less lurking here, commenting very rare and sparingly.
    Thanks for the AKarlin old article! Yeah, those were the times, when he could deliver…

  94. Lyttenburgh says:

    Babak Makkinejad said:
    Do your own research.
    Oh? You know, a claim made without a proof can be, likewise, dismissed without a proof.

  95. Lyttenburgh says:

    turcopolier said…
    I would welcome an informed Russian POV here but, small minded American that I am I do not welcome snotty nastiness on SST. Understand? pl
    I appreciate that you are willing to tolerate my presence and comments here. Also – don’t be too harsh on yourself with this “small minded” part.
    And yet… does it mean that I can not disagree with the points made by individual commenters here, to seek more nuance wording of the claims and predictions or to ask for some proof and evidence of the statements they make?

  96. turcopolier says:

    This is not an adversarial proceeding. If your attitude is that you are going to view all those present as opponents you should go elsewhere. People have a right to their opinions whether you agree with them or not. pl

  97. LeaNder says:

    BH, does it work like that now? I assumed it was as simple as that. It wasn’t. At least at that point in time.

  98. charly says:

    Weapons are (almost) always sold with an end user agreement. With an AK47 you can “fake” it but there is only one country that makes a tow and the rebels fire a lot of tow’s so this can only be done with agreement of the US government. Same is true of French and their ATGW.

  99. Laguerre says:

    Great comment

  100. turcopolier says:

    Weapons transferred to a foreign power or group under a presidential “finding” for a covert action do not have and end user certificate that show the ultimate consignee. OTOH e do not know how many the AQ type jihadis have stockpiled. if by MIC you mean military intelligence, they would not have been asked their opinion on policy or probably not even informed. Their function is to inform, not to make recommendations for policy. pl l

  101. Laguerre says:

    Good comment

  102. turcopolier says:

    http://tass.com/world/935019 I hope this is true. We need a Tilsit moment. pl

  103. Laguerre says:

    I haven’t seen any evidence that Putin is only partly supporting Syria. The support seems to me to be pretty much full on.

  104. Laguerre says:

    If I summarize the question correctly, it is whether Syria/Russia should go for Raqqa or for Idlib. For me, I have no doubt that if it is doable, Idlib would be to prefer. open up the direct road to Aleppo.
    Raqqa. Right now the forces outside Raqqa are SDF, partly Rojavan Kurds and partly Sunni Arab tribes. If there’s going to be a city fight, as in Mosul, the Kurds won’t fight, as it’s not a fight for them, rather territory which would have to be surrendered to the Sunnis in the near future. No point in having your people killed for nothing.
    The minority groups of Sunni Arab tribesmen will have to do the job, somewhat doubtful, even with US Marine artillery support.
    It should not be forgotten that the Rojavan Kurds, even if under severe US pressure, are only partly US allies. They will be making a deal with Asad at the end of the war. The Sunni tribes the same.
    Why should Asad go for Raqqa, when his allies are doing it for him?

  105. Babak Makkinejad says:

    But your civilization is now extinct in its cradle. I would not care if I were you.

  106. Wunduk says:

    Laguerre, they (at least the Sunnis) are not his allies yet. I think Asad also wants to be there to influence which Sunnis will get Raqqa and to keep close to the Kurds, who are antagonistic allies.
    I agree with PL that this diversion risks allowing the AQ-descended Hay’at Tahrir ash-Sham to consolidate. A post by Aymenn Al-Tammimi (http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/hayat-tahrir-al-sham-civil-society-jabal-al-summaq/) shows how this consolidation is now taking place on the civilian side.
    Once HTS has gained the battle for civilian services they can embed in society and ultimately survive even military defeat. Same move by the Taliban took place in early 2001: Take over of bread distribution ensures control of the population down to the level of every single person.
    But Asad on balance had to respect the Russian priority not to allow all the laurels for ISIL destruction to end up with the US alone, and has himself an interest to keep a close watch over the Euphrates valley. I also find b’s explanation of the water pumping station a compelling argument.

Comments are closed.