Kettles here, kettles there …


"On Sunday morning inside the eastern countryside of the Aleppo Governorate,  ISIS imposed full control over the villages of Rasm Al-‘Alam and Al-Si’in after a violent battle with the Syrian Arab Army’s “Tiger Forces” and their allies from the National Defense Forces (NDF) and Liwaa Suqour Al-Sahra (Desert Hawks Brigade). ISIS launched a counter-offensive earlier this week in order to recapture several villages near the Thermal Power Plant that has become the Tiger Forces’ primary objective after linking their positions with the Sheikh Najjar Industrial District’s 3rd Zone. With Al-Si’in under their control, ISIS could breathe easy for a while because they are no longer in danger of being encircled in the Al-Safira Plains as long as they maintain control over this village.
Based on Al-Masdar details

In the Syrian Arab Army’s turn, government forces and their allies mounted an offensive toward Barlahin and captured it few hours ago."  Southfront


This kettle battle will end badly for IS if they can't break out very quickly.   IMO there is now a gap of about 2 miles between the mobile R+6 force moving west from the Kuweires air base salient and what is referred to on the map as the "Aleppo mainland" that is under government control. 

In the south there is another impending kettle battle in the area NE of Deraa City with a column moving east to link up with government forces farther east.

At the same time the Mother of all Kettles will shortly be fought west of Aleppo city.

This effort in the west of Syria should be over in a month or so if the Turks do not intervene on the ground in strength.  It continues to seem unlikely to me that they will do that and risk escalation to possible annihilation at the hands of the Russians no matter how mad Sultan Tayyip may be.

Tayyip is now denouncing the US as a faithless partner because we do not share his enthusiasm for bombing the YPG Kurds.  In fact we are supporting them with GB and air assistance.  This conflicts with Tayyip's desire to entice NATO into supporting him against the YPG Kurds  and in an invasion of Syria with emphasis on the Mosul area which has long been an object of desire for Turkish irredentism.  At the same time it would seem evident that R2P/neocon fantasy life has evolved into the entry of the fabled (very fabled) Arab Muslim ground task force into eastern Syria.  This silliness is beloved of presidential candidates in the US because they are ignorant fools who understand nothing of the ME or war.  And… Without Tayyip's cooperation such a project would be awkward indeed.

The contradiction in US policy among its various goals is so lunatic that I will not blame you pilgrims if you think something fishy is happening in the apparent attempts of the US to reconcile; support of Tayyip, support of the YPG Kurds and whatever it is that you would call the Arabian Army reverie.  pl

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90 Responses to Kettles here, kettles there …

  1. VietnamVet says:

    Thanks again for the war updates and insight. The tide of battle has turned in Syria. The Western position is insane.
    Washington DC functions today to make a few oligarchs fabulously wealthy by outsourcing war to mercenaries and proxy forces whose control is dubious at best. Incompetence is ignored. Not trusting its citizens to serve, the West has lost its moral basis for the wars and is floundering. Borders and the global economy are collapsing. In the next few weeks, the possible Turkish invasion of Syria has to be aborted. An agreement signed with Russia to eliminate the Jihadi groups. The Ukraine crisis settled. Syria and Libya rebuilt. The flow of refugees stopped and returned home. I don’t see Barrack Obama, David Cameron or Angela Merkel doing this. I think we are on the brink of a World War.

  2. Liza says:

    Col. Lang:
    Do you have any indication that US-led forces are now moving toward Mosul and Raqqa ?
    I just checked Brett McGurk’s Twitter feed to find out if American-led forces were conducting any operations. He alluded to upcoming operations in Mosul and Raqqa on Feb. 1st. I just checked #Mosul and #Raqqa and found some information on what are presumably preliminary operations in both cities.
    Regarding Mosul: A tweet yesterday showed “what appears to be US Blackhawks landing near #Mosul Dam”.
    Another tweet yesterday from Haider Sumeria @Iraqi Security indicated that tribal forces will participate in the upcoming operation. His tweet read: “#Mosul Ops Cms/tribal Hadid will now cause problems for Da’ish in Ninawa while the main contingent of #Iraq’s forces push up from Shirquat.”
    A tweet today by PKK commander Akers Kalari said that the PKK were willing to participate in “the #Mosul liberation operation.”
    Regarding Raqqa: The US coalition was reported to be dropping leaflets on Feb. 3.
    The cultural center was reported to be destroyed by air strikes on Feb. 4th

  3. turcopolier says:

    It takes a while to do things like this. Think months to position everything. pl

  4. Fred says:

    “Not trusting its citizens to serve, the West…”
    Just who do you think is serving in the US army now? How about the Russian armed forces; or do you not consider the Russian’s “Western”?

  5. cynic says:

    The Sultan just might be so crazy as to push things to war with Russia, and suffer catastrophic consequences. Via the Saker, there’s this account of a Greek holy man who predicted that in the near future Turkey would be dismembered after losing a war with Russia.
    The Russians are expected to give Constantinople back to the Greeks,apparently with Ionia, whilst the Kurds and Armenians achieve their territorial claims. The surviving Turks either convert to Christianity or go back to their central Asian homeland. It’s a Greek fantasy of course, but boundaries on maps are often not very stable. The cartographers have been busy in our lifetimes and may have more work to do!

  6. Babak Makkinejad says:

    nah, Ukraine is dead and we shall see the consequences of its putrefaction in the coming months and years; no one will go to war over the carcass of that poor country.
    Libya is wide open for any sufficiently strong Arab military force to assert legitimacy – say ISIS. Again, in my opinion, NATO intervention in Libya, if ever, will go badly and make no difference to the situation there – just look at Somalia.
    No one will go to war over Libya.
    The danger in Africa, in my opinion, is the disintegration of Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, and Central African Republic where Muslims will carve out various fiefdoms for themselves. Senegal could be gone too.
    That leave, the Shia Crescent – a.k.a. the Iranian Sphere of Influence – which is in the process of military consolidation – under tutelage of the Russian Federation.
    Again, I do not believe NATO will contest this – after all, the Shia Crescent is better than having more immigrant flooding into Europe.
    The Europeans will have a serious fight as they physically have to force the migrant back across the Mediterranean Sea – as the Immigrant Season starts with the coming of Spring.

  7. Walrus says:

    The genesis of Americas current failures is Postmodernist philosophy. which basically denies that there are universal truths and asserts that everything is situational. The consequence of this is the belief that we can change the reality of any situation simply by thinking about it differently.
    Trivial examples include the entire “self development” industry starting with the reams of books on the subject visible at any airport right through to the MBA industry that asserts that real experience of a task is unnecessary because anyone can manage anything if they have been taught and employ the right process tools.
    The Middle East foreign policy adventures, including supporting the competing goals of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the kurds, and the unicorn army of “nice jihadis”, Europe, etc. iare not at all difficult conceptually for a post modernist because to them it is the interface that matters and the substance underneath is irrelevant.
    To put that another way a postmodernist view of the Kurds and Turkish confrontation would be along the lines of “Why fight? Can’t you guys just mellow out and get over it?”
    In business I have seen thepostmodern attitude in some software and other IT companies whose staffs levels of abstraction from the day to day real world and esoteric tastes lead to simply absurd business decisions.
    Karl Roves alleged quote perfectly sums up this bizzaro-world attitude: “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
    Needless to say, President Putin is not a postmodernist, nor I suspect are the majority of Russians.

  8. Emad says:

    “… the entry of the fabled (very fabled) Arab Muslim ground task force into eastern Syria.”
    Do you mean to tell us that the ladies of Foggy Bottom know what a military TF is? I should like to think that you’re instead ridiculing their use of jargon without “getting it”.

  9. Bill Herschel says:

    Kerry is reported to have said that the “Opposition” screwed themselves by walking out of the “peace talks”, because a ceasefire was the only hope they had (i.e. American soldiers fighting beside them was not in the cards). The “Opposition” walked out because Saudi Arabia told them to, prior to or simultaneous with their offering to fight under American command (and protection) against ISIS.
    The NY Times now has an article a day, almost, heavily critical of Saudi Arabia… although their Syria correspondent is stationed in Riyadh.
    And if you watch the Russian MOD incredibly detailed presentation about oil being shipped by ISIS to Turkey in collusion with Erdogan’s family, which you linked to, you get the feeling that Russia is determined to and is probably successfully undermining whatever support Turkey has in Europe.
    Fishy I don’t know. But I now don’t think there are any rabbits in the Sunni hat. In other words, I’m calmer. Spring has come (very) early to New Hampshire which is a lot more worrisome (there may not be global warming, but there sure is NH warming) than worrying about what Erdogan will do next.

  10. turcopolier says:

    I called it a task force. I was being mocking but it had nothing to so with the R2P ladies. BTW many of them work at the WH, UN, etc. pl

  11. Chris Chuba says:

    “The contradiction in US policy among its various goals is so lunatic that I will not blame you pilgrims if you think something fishy is happening in the apparent attempts of the US to reconcile; support of Tayyip, support of the YPG Kurds”
    That says it all. FWIW I lean towards stupidity not planned. I don’t think that wonder boys like Rubio are all that smart and he sits on the most prestigious Senate foreign this and that committees, or perhaps he’s a narcissist and that’s common among politicians. Rubio made several references to Churchill and must fancy himself a modern day version of him. HRC is just as bad.
    Perhaps the U.S. breeds politicians like this while Russia breeds Putins simply because we are so powerful that we can make mistake after mistake and just re-write the narrative to our liking. Iraq was Assad’s fault, Libya and Syria was because we tried to do it on the cheap. In Russia’s case, one miscalculation and they are ruined so they tread carefully. Incidentally, if any other country had the power that we have they would be at least as bad and probably more so.
    To me, Syria should have been easy to figure out if anyone spent even a few hours with reasonably good information. I just don’t get how blind our politicians have been on this. I read a couple of Pat Buchanan columns almost 3yrs ago and pretty much came to my current conclusion and they were not nearly at the level of detail of blogs like this and other places.
    Sorry to go on and on but I am just trying to wrap my head around this rapid succession of foreign policy blunders and this class of politicians and establishment types who simply will not even entertain the possibility that they might be wrong about anything.
    To get back on point, I lost it months ago when the Turks started bombing the Kurds and the neocons said absolutely nothing. So yeah, the Turks and Kurds are both good guys and we support both of them and we are all one big happy family; they can simultaneously believe this because they are certifiable lunatics.

  12. bth says:

    Iraqi government was talking yesterday about June offensive on Mosul.

  13. turcopolier says:

    Chris Chuba
    Knowing these people, I think it is incompetence, but I can see how others might find this level of incompetence implausible. pl

  14. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Likely it is Hubris more than anything else; my understanding was that US carefully prepared for the occupation of Japan, Germany, France, Italy before the war had ended.
    And UK had her Colonial Office with deep area expertise as well as devotion to duty.

  15. turcopolier says:

    Walrus and Babak
    Yes, it is post-modernism, and the same thing that causes people to doubt that there can be universal value in such things as “Principles of War.” The US, prior to the onset of the post-modernist plague believed in knowledge and expertise. My father was trained for a year in the US for his role in the US occupation of Germany. That was before the end pf the war. He knew the Germans well by the time he arrived there. pl

  16. Chris Chuba,
    Within our vast foreign policy machine, intelligence agencies and defense establishment there are many fiefdoms with their own parochial goals. These fiefdoms compete against each other and form temporary alliances among themselves in pursuit of their organizational goals. This becomes rampant and out of control when strong central leadership isn’t exerted. Even the Borg have their secret divergent desires. From the outside looking in, this looks lunatic. In reality, it’s just a real life version of Game of Thrones” with twice the backstabbing and deceit.

  17. turcopolier says:

    Yes, the fact that all these Byzantine factions often work at cross purposes contributes mightily to the mess. pl

  18. Bill Herschel says:

    Wow. I don’t think I’ve read a more succinct, credible description of nearly everything ever. I guess it helps that although I could never have had the ability to write it I agree with it. Cameroon and Senegal is very sad. The francophone population is well educated and civilized. What a tragedy.

  19. turcopolier says:

    If R+6 cleans up a lot of this mess in western Syria IMO it will not be necessary to force most Syrians to go home. pl

  20. Emad says:

    I understand, dare I say I know, kettles here, kettles there, kettles everywhere.
    Rebels capture this and lose that place. They capture that place only to lose this place and two more. A month passes and they realize they’ve been chasing their own tails frantically in futile skirmishes that pop up just about everywhere, and they’ve little to show for it. Exhaustion sets in; defeat looms large. A Baklava in Antep, barely feasible a month ago, is now a distant dream.
    Now I can’t fault the DC crowd with not getting it or not wanting to get it. What I’m having a hard time with is the rebels’ attitude. They’re fighting the fight, so regardless of whether they think it’s winnable or not why don’t they go for unity of command, so they can in theory fight better? Ideologically, Nusra, Ahrar, Jaish Al-This, Jaish Al-That and ISIS differ little; militarily to some degree. Right now they think they may or may not pull the battle of Aleppo off. With a unified command, if they do, those who remain standing have all the time in the world to go at each other’s throats later, if they don’t, well at least they gave the “Russian occupiers” a run for their money.
    Is it possible that the rebels still don’t see it as do or die? If so, are they being duped by aggressive Saudi and Turkish public stances and behind the scene promises? In other words, are they already drinking their own Jihadi Kool-Aid?

  21. turcopolier says:

    There has been nothing random in the actions of the R+6 forces. They have been following a carefully worked out campaign plan that involved massive attrition and then compartmentalizing their enemies into smaller and smaller groups that can be defeated in detail. The rebels of all types on the other hand are a rabble of small guerrilla groups advised by foreign amateurs from groups like the CIA. They have simply been outclassed, something like the Dallas Cowboys playing a high school team. pl

  22. Emad says:

    Of course the R+6 campaign is well planned. I meant unpredictable from the rebels’ perspective.

  23. turcopolier says:

    There was nothing unpredictable about the R+6 plan. We forecast it here at SST starting several months ago and in considerable detail. No. the rebels’ problem is/was that they are/were incompetent in the military game. They were/are just a bunch of guys with guns who were good at oppressing civilians and who outnumbered the government’s forces. Well, now it is their turn. Good! Ah, they should have learned the Principles of War. pl

  24. VietnamVet says:

    No. Russia is not part of the Latin west. It would be to benefit and security of the American people if Russia was allied to the West. It is not. Indeed, we are in the middle of the second Cold War with the Russia with not a communist in sight. The Balkans are called the Cradle of War for the ethnic religious conflicts between Muslim, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant religions born there. The notion that the refugees fleeing Syria will not bring these conflicts to the heart of Europe is delusional.
    I am a member of the last generation of Americans drafted to serve in the armed forces. Today’s U.S. Army does not reflect all of the people. It is composed of volunteers. In my opinion it is too small of win the endless wars. There is no draft because a conscript army will not fight the Empire’s colonial wars on the other side of the world. I support a small professional army and air force with everyone able serving for two years and bringing their weapons home to store in the closet in case they are needed for national defense. This would be similar to the Swiss model with a strong Navy to keep the sea lanes free of pirates.

  25. A. Pols says:

    “The genesis of Americas current failures is Postmodernist philosophy. which basically denies that there are universal truths and asserts that everything is situational. The consequence of this is the belief that we can change the reality of any situation simply by thinking about it differently.”
    Thank you for your succinctly stated verity…
    A world where anything goes and nothing matters.

  26. Barish says:

    Here’s some noise made by one Bassam Barandi, “advisor to the Syrian opposition”, who is getting some grilling by Mr Mehdi Hassan in the al-Jazeera program Up-Front:
    “Some grilling” translates to Mr Hassan, who has got a reputation for confronting various personas of varied affiliation, going to lengths which are remarkable given AJ’s/Qatar’s sponsorship of said “opposition” clown-show, but not quite going through to the conclusion that has to be drawn given the pathetic attempts of Mr Barandi to try and wriggle out of one thing that needs to be observed and that Mr Hassan does point out: the “opposition”, which Mr Barandi has the audacity to call “freedom fighters”, got copious amounts of blood on their hands. And Saudi-Arabia, which the man has the gall to deflect blame from by pointing the finger at “evil Iran” just as his Saudi masters instructed him to, is most definitely part of the problem, not the solution.
    I believe Mr Barandi will have to look forward to a long, long life in exile bemoaning the collapse of the “freedom fighters” for whose sake he “spectacularly defected” from the Syrian government-side (Mr Hassan calls him a “mole”, even though “traitor” wouldn’t be an inapt description of what the man in effect is). It is telling that the conversation does shift to that particular story when it becomes apparent that Barandi appears unable to re-evaluate the known axioms that the “opposition” continues to cling to, against all reason.

  27. Chris Chuba says:

    It appears that our establishment is both too big to fail and too big to be coherent.

  28. P.L. and ALL! Are KETTLE BATTLES descendant’s of Professor Liddell Hart’s BOILING CAULDRON doctrines?

  29. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to William R. Cumming 08 February 2016 at 07:53 AM
    Liddle Hart described but did not invent the phenomenon, so ‘no’. Not in the sense in which I think you mean your question. If I’ve misinterepeted my apologies.
    If however you meant are the principles involved both well-known and very old then ‘yes’. I’m Very open to correction on this – but so far as I know the term “kesselschlact” originated in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and referred explicitly to the Prussian high command’s strategy of relying on spreedy mobilisation and on using speed to encircle, destroy, or bypass French strongpoints. This was the kesselschlacht which translates literally “cauldron battle”, and meant that the remainder of the Prussian army – that portion of it not so engaged, could and did advance almost unopposed deep into Francce to seize their objectives.
    I’m quite sure that others here can give far earlier examples of an army using superior mobility and weaponry to defeat their foes.
    PS: For entertainment value you might enjoy this Wikipedia article I rather like the idea of a war in which the only casualty was a cooking pot.

  30. raksh wah says:

    there does not appear to be any realism on either side in US, both seem to think of russia as a “gas station” , no one appeas to know that russians put our satellites in space and run the wall street trading .

  31. LeaNder says:

    would the Shia Cresent be the equivalent of your larger Seljuk theory or Seljuk line, if not, how exactly should I understand it? If not how exactly is it related to it, apart from Iranian influence and culture? Maybe as an outsider in this historical context, I have problems?
    Yes, could well be that–with one of your scapegoats in mind–that the radical Islamist may have partly picked up parts of the “Western” anti-Imperialist thought. No doubt in Africa too.

  32. LeaNder says:

    walrus, I wish, I would have the patience to point out the problems in your argument. Beyond sloganeering.
    But if I may simply tell you this. Post Modernism, was mainly a “tag”, something had to be given a reason a different name after another “modern” in earlier times versus the “ancient”. What would be the appropriate term to follow “modern”? Post-modern?
    I can understand the American struggle with “Post-Modernism” or the “French School”, but I would defend some of its scholars, very few admittedly, since some got onto way too arcane oaths for my taste. But I am no doubt very, very suspicious of quite a few of them. But everything in the larger context?
    I would need a lot of reflection about how to connect Karl Rove to Post-Modernism. My complaints would be about the philosophical strain, not only but parts of it, no doubt. On the surface your suggestion seems absurd. Although, I have an idea who I would like to invite into this debate. 😉

  33. YT says:

    Maybe these postmodernists need a taste of Russian winters?
    Or perhaps famine will do the job?

  34. YT says:

    Yes, Col.
    Tyler for one would probably agree that postmodernism also gave rise to other “freaks” (i.e. “multiculturalism,” cultural marxism, “feminism,” lgbt “rights,” etc.) that are slowly destroying the Moral Fabric of your beloved US of A.

  35. YT says:

    RE: “A world where anything goes and nothing matters.”
    Yes, till the proselytizers of such thinking run up against Blowback.

  36. Valissa says:

    or perhaps it’s too big to succeed because it’s too big to be coherent… because failing (in a number of areas) is what our establishment is getting way too good at…
    Thanks TTG, for that succinct explanatory paragraph… it’s a keeper. While I am aware that’s how the system works today, I’ve never been able explain it to anyone in as few well chosen words as that.

  37. William R. Cumming,
    Kettles, cauldrons or encirclements have always been practiced in warfare at least as far back as the Battle of Cannae. What is happening around Aleppo is classic Sun Tzu. The enemy is not fully encircled in order to entice him to leave, or try to leave, the encirclement. In the 70’s we trained for and practiced the breakout from encirclement as a company and battalion level ARTEP task. It’s a difficult maneuver.

  38. turcopolier says:

    IMO you are merely defending your Post-Modernist world view and that of all other R2Pers. Rove is not an R2Per. He is a neocon and shares the world view of the R2Pers. pl

  39. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Shia Crescent covers most of the Old Seljuk territories – minus Northern Afghanistan, Turkey, Azerbaijan Republic, and Turkmenistan.
    It is not real coffee, but a very good decaffeinated one.
    Context: of which you are so fond –
    Every non-Western people are copying and adopting from Western Diocletian Civilization.
    Pol-Pot and Maoists certainly adopted certain political aspects while others adopted the medical and public health discoveries of that civilization and still very many others absorbed the internal combustion engine.
    But in commitment to Truth non-Westerners are generally AWOL.

  40. Old Microbiologist says:

    I agree with you 100%. I was in the very last draft with a lottery number of 6 so enlisted immediately to get my choice of MOS. That said I stayed in for 28 years and another 12 as a GS civilian (in my same job).
    The draft was important and needs to return. It is the only way to even approach equality with the plutocrats if, and only if, their own children run the same risks of being conscripted (which we know through history doesn’t happen). Then you might see a change. Maybe not as all those nere-do-wells are heartless bastards who would sell off their own grandmothers if it would make a profit. The Swiss model is perhaps the best. Our military should have the sole purpose of defending the nation (meaning our own soil) from external invasion. That is something we haven’t done since 1812. Russia as a counter example to the US, fights to the death to defend the motherland. We have never had to do that thus we have zero appreciation for the destruction and havok we wreak on others. I have thought for a very long time we need only a very small military as we have no existential threats from anyone, with the possible exception of our own government.

  41. Trey N says:

    “The enemy is not fully encircled in order to entice him to leave, or try to leave, the encirclement.”
    The Mongol armies of Genghis Khan excelled at this tactic, and his grandson Subutai used it to annihilate the Christian armies of Europe at the battles of Legnica in Poland and Mohi in Hungary in 1241 AD. If the Great Khan had not died when he did, leading to the recall of his hordes from their far-flung forays, we’d all be speaking a Central Asian steppe language today….

  42. YT says:

    Col. Lang, TTG,
    Does Thirty Years’ War do justice?, or p’raps intrigue & warre amongst Italian city-states maketh a more fitting illustration to the troubles in MENA contemporary?

  43. The Beaver says:

    Sec Kerry is meeting with the Chihuahua at Foggy Bottom but that second tweet ( Marie Harf) just below made me spit on my monitor:

  44. Charles Michael says:

    Amen to that
    and that would make again USA the lovable country of my youth.

  45. Fred says:

    VV, OM,
    I’m one of those volunteers who didn’t need a draft number. Guess I”m just one of the suckers. The swiss model? That sounds great until you actually get into combat with a modern military force. The draft isn’t going to do a damn thing to restore moral conduct, not that it did so before. You should read up on the draft riots of the civil war period and from there progress to Marshall’s period of service between the wars. I think that will end the appeal of the Swiss military model.
    OM, “We have never had to do that thus we have zero appreciation for the destruction and havok we wreak on others. ”
    I disagree. Armies have always brought violence and destruction. They do so in service to the state. That history is well known, it just isn’t taught in political science PHD programs. The civil war destroyed the economies of the South and wrought a great deal of destruction to the civil society as well. We played our part in WWI and in the occupation of Germany immediately after the armistice. Marshall’s experiences in South Carolina when he was working on CCC programs as well as in WWI where he was an aid to Pershing were probably fundamental to forming his outlook towards the treatment of a defeated Germany and Italy as well as the proposed reconstruction programs named after him.

  46. Charles Michael says:

    Structaralism was the last attempt to equalitarism, in my undestanding of it.
    structures as mythical explanations and fields of principles.
    After the shock caused by Levi-Strauss (even if I recognise some flaws and limits, should be interprated as a corseting but as deep uncounscious heritage), the marxist pack, the ultra libertarians (read Foucault, Derrida, Debors,even Bourdieu and even Castoriadis) went amok on denying the possibility of resilient, albeit evolving and inclusing, structures.
    So it had to be not only de-struturing but also un-structuring. Just look at contemporary art means of expression.
    Anal plug, indeed.

  47. Charles Michael says:

    From some infos and reactions gathered,the Economist critisizing Erdogan (6 February issue), Thierry Messian predicting a joint US-Russia offensive against ISIS in March (Okay contraversial French personnality embeded in Bachar Al-Assad Side, but generally well informed even if a little optimistic on timing), Colonel Lang announce of the deployment of two airborne US brigades, last Kerry outburst : Do you want us to declare war to Russia.
    I wonder if we are not heading to a real collaboration of the two decisive powers, could it be that sanity prevails ?

  48. A. Pols says:

    My father entered the Army in 1942 and was first sent to language school, at
    Cornell I believe, and entered a “total immersion” program to learn German.
    Then eventually to England where he spent time boning up on intel relating to German culture and industrial structure. By the time he went into Germany behind Patton’s troops, he was schooled enough to understand much of German identity.In the immediate aftermath of the war, his duties mostly involved interrogations of people involved in the Speer ministry and the assembling of documents relating to that entity. He and thousands like him were being trained for the occupation and reconstruction of Germany at a time when the decisive actions on both theaters of combat were yet to be fought. So, yes, they were not at that time thinking in terms of just making it up as they went along.

  49. Ulenspiegel says:

    ” If the Great Khan had not died when he did, leading to the recall of his hordes from their far-flung forays, we’d all be speaking a Central Asian steppe language today…. ”
    Very likely was the death of the Great Khan not the real reason Europe survived. Stone walls, in contrast to Chinese mud walls or wooden walls in Russia, in combination with a not collaborating population and heavy crossbows may have been the real thing. 🙂
    (Stolen from a very good Canadian dissertation on this topic)

  50. LeaNder says:

    “But in commitment to Truth non-Westerners are generally AWOL”
    Even inside the Shia Crescent? Except maybe my non-Western friends, allowing for minor variances, that confirm the basic rule?

  51. SmoothieX12 says:

    No. Russia is not part of the Latin west.
    Agree, sort of. But West in general, if to follow Roger Scraton’s definition of the West (I never encountered a better one)–Russia sure as hell was and remains part of it. Another matter that what today is “defined” as West, not least through Huntington’s, however flawed, definition of West is hardly West anymore. Plus, and here comes this wowser–especially for those who “studied” Soviet history through Solzhenitsyn–Soviet system was a direct product of Western intellectual movements from Utopian Socialism through German Philosophy and English political economy and it “westernized” Russia (USSR) on the order of magnitude more and faster than any 19th Century Russian “Zapadnik” (Westernizer)could ever dream about. But I heard commentaries of NBC’s “Russian scholars” during Sochi Olympics opening ceremony, so I do not expect any intellectual breakthroughs here any time soon;-))
    P.S. Even latest Levada (that is uber-“liberal”) poll showed that 3/4 or Russiaans do not want to identify themselves with current “West”. I don’t blame them.

  52. pl,
    Reading the FM section on breakout from encirclement brought back memories of my time in the 1/35th Infantry. We were undermanned, underarmed and under equipped. Our Division Commander, General Scott told us about the war plans to not just reinforce Korea, but also Europe. This was based on the ease of moving such a lightly equipped division into theater. We approached such tasks as strongpoint defense, withdrawal under pressure and breakout from encirclement with grim seriousness considering that the Third Shock Army could be our adversary.

  53. Bob says:

    If you like that you’ll love this.
    “Erdogan tells US to choose between Turkey or Kurds”
    The US has a lot of clients that need to hear the branch creak.

  54. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Southern China, crisscrossed with mountains and rivers and full of noncooperating populations, armed not only with repeating crossbows, but also rockets and cannons, and dotted with cities surrounded by solid masonry walls, resisted the Mongols far more effectively than the Europeans did, in a continuous brutal war lasting a full generation or more (about 35 years). Only when the Mongols themselves became Sinicized, with their own cannons and rocketry, along with a claim to the “Mandate of Heaven” like a normal Chinese emperor for their khan, did they succeed in subjugating the Southern Chinese.

  55. raksh wah says:

    alternate reality scenario – Obama says he favors a peaceful change in Syria and is agnostic about Assad and urges him to treat protestors in a lawful manner. (see Eisenhower Hungary) .
    what would be happening in Syria without Obama’s call to arms against Assad?
    Would the Syrians be better off?

  56. Thomas says:

    “…we are in the middle of the second Cold War with the Russia with not a communist in sight.”
    They are in plain sight here in the US if you are willing to see through their masks. An intellectual vanguard leading the (ungrateful) motley masses to utopia by subjecting them to the Beneficial Economic Austere Social Treatment (BEAST). And in the actions of Policy propagators* instigating the Global Revolution to bring it to the whole world under their Superior Stewardship.
    So they are only trying to bring Russia back into fold. And Russia should accept such noble subjugation than to be lead by that evil Putin who went to the finest Soviet Spy Schools all the while being a Closet Christian!
    * Neo-Speak for propagandists and agitators in the Borgian Bureau of Infotainment.

  57. drpuck says:

    Much could be said, and much has been written, about the conflict between those who understand that there are irrevocable first principles and everybody else. Yet, aside from this, it would seem the implicit demand of those who are certain about the primacy of irrevocable principles is for: compliance.
    And from this, it seems to me, to be but a hop and a skip into the most severe sanctions for the unbeliever.

  58. shepherd says:

    For what its worth, Marathon was possibly an encirclement, the Battle of the Hydapses River (Alexander), certainly so. This is an amusing stretch, but Nestor in the Iliad advises putting the weakest troops in the center and strong leaders on the outside. Nothing like that happens in the poem, but one wonders where the advice came from.

  59. jr786 says:

    As long as there is one resistance fighter, CNN and a microphone, the war will endure. Forever.
    Funding will also be tripled. Kalashnikov rounds aren’t getting any cheaper, you know.

  60. SmoothieX12 says:

    So they are only trying to bring Russia back into fold. And Russia should accept such noble subjugation than to be lead by that evil Putin who went to the finest Soviet Spy Schools all the while being a Closet Christian!
    You have a very peculiar understanding of how USSR or, for that matter, Russia operated and operates. You, obviously, ignore the fact that today’s “communists” or “Marxists” or whatever they are, in USSR would have ended up, in the best case scenario, being exiled, in the worst–imprisoned. There is no “back into fold” and never was, nor is. Realities of USSR of 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s differed drastically because of the dramatic economic and generational evolution there and they had very little in common with some “Marxist ideological paradise” as many Soviet/Russian dissidents “sold” to the oblivious Western public. USSR since early 1930s on was increasingly a conservative society strongly oriented towards family values. None other than Putin, several days ago, reiterated the fact which everyone knows in Russia–The Moral Code of The Builder Of Communism was effectively copied, with minor ideological tweaking, from 9 Commandments.

  61. Thirdeye says:

    Yes and no. The movers and shakers in Russia have self-consciously adopted western systems of thought, education, and organization ever since Peter the Great, through the Soviet era and beyond. It’s difficult to say how far that really penetrates, since at the popular level the main cultural influence remained the Orthodox Church. The Czarist aristocracy used the Orthodox Church to define and foster a sense of Russian-ness among their subjects while they sought to westernize themselves. World War II saw a revival of traditional Russian identity after the militant secularism of the Bolshevik era. The ideology of Soviet Communism wasn’t pure Marxist but infused with a lot of traditional thought regarding Russia’s character and identity. There is a huge revulsion against western liberalism in Russia not only because of its disastrous results in Russia, but because its unimpressive recent results in the established west as well. BRICS is a good example of an attempt on the part of Russia and others to free themselves from western-imposed baggage while using a western-derived organizational system.

  62. Thirdeye says:

    Dang, it turned out that my previous reply is redundant!

  63. VietnamVet says:

    There is no effective communist party left in America. Bernie Sanders will be labeled a communist. He isn’t. I could be called one because I believe in regulated capitalism. The closest are the neo-conservatives since some of the very old ones have communist roots but the last thing they would advocate today is a worker’s revolt; let alone, jailing Wall Street crooks. They and the Responsibility to Protect clique are all about gaining power and have nothing but contempt for the people and disdain for the rule of law.
    The gaggle of globalist oligarchs pushing for free trade treaties and for supranational corporate controlled institutions like the European Central Bank are as far away from the old communist party as one possibly could get. In fact, they are intent on making one’s public and private debt so great that it can never be paid it off. You work. You are disabled. You die. Greece is the harbinger of what is coming for everyone in the developed world.
    Russia is a target for destabilization by the new world order. In Syria Russia is fighting back successfully so far.

  64. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Dream on.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  65. Thirdeye says:

    Maybe Karl Rove as a literal postmodernist is a stretch, but the facet of postmodernism that rejects the notion of underlying truth is definitely part of the zeitgeist that bred the attempts to replace goods and services with various financial and econometric esoterica as the seat of value. Of course the ability to redefine reality only lasts as long as the next reality check, as happened in 2008.

  66. YT says:

    I can never seem to understand this hatred for Russia from the rest of these Atlanticist ‘cousins’ of yours.
    Antagonism ‘tween the former Communist countries, yes; but this…
    What gives?

  67. turcopolier says:

    We do not deal in “literalism” here on SST. pl

  68. SmoothieX12 says:

    What gives?
    Part of it is racial. For many, by far not all, of course, however hidden are their real feelings, Russians remain untermensch. Since the time of Marquise De Custin, and even earlier. You may acquaint yourself with what some Ph.Ds in “history” thought about it.
    Part of it is cultural because of the perceived threat of Russia as capable of viable civilizational alternative, and part of it…well, the only country which was never conquered by said West. No matter how it tried and it sure as hell tried, the results are well-known. This is in a nutshell. Reality, of course, is more complex than that.

  69. YT says:

    Yes, I dislike how Russia was portrayed in hollywood during the 80s.
    Yes, to these ‘cousins’ of yours, the Soviet Union was an “existentential threat” (was it truly, Col. sir?, I was but a wee lad of 12 when Cold War 1.0 ended).
    Perhaps authoritarian monoliths (continue to) fail to “impress” these proselytizers of ‘democracy,’ ‘free’ markets, ‘human’ rights, ‘liberty,’ & other faux ‘values.’
    (Hence your ‘cousins’ “dictating” to the mainland Chinks how they ought to live & govern their masses – do they view the Chinese cities as Potemkin villages?)
    But many fail to realize (to this day) that in truth it was the USSR that won the “Great Patriotic War” – with much Sacrifice & Loss to hoi polloi Russia.
    Not only Nips or mainlands Chinks ‘indulge’ in revisionist histories it seems…

  70. Jack says:

    Another example of the Borg recognizing reality but whining about it as their vision of “regime” change in Syria is circling the drain.

  71. Walrus says:

    @Drpuck, I disagree with you. Only a post modernist could define a barbed wire enclosure for democratic protesters as a “freedom cage”.
    Furthermore, the concept of irrevocable principles is not about compliance it is about eternal verities of human behaviour and thought, starting with the application of the golden rule, then moving on to the secular humanist verities of the enlightenment – a preference for demonstrable fact over myth.
    Do not be confused with the stupid “left/right” categories or the sophistries of the counter reformation. Both sides of politics play with definitions in the Post Modernist garden – with equally tragic results.
    It is beyond me to write a caricature of the first settlements of America where the colonists divide into rugged libertarians on the one hand and liberals driven by “process” on the other and they all starve.
    To put that another way, the post modernists fantasies of Washington are only enabled by the fantastic wealth generated by the American economy. Poor countries cannot afford such silliness.

  72. Ulenspiegel says:

    No dispute, however, the engineers and manpower was delivered by Chinese people and the walls were usually mud walls.
    In Europe which was much poorer (less incentive for occupation) they faced stone walls and had no local support.Where would you have deployed your forces?

  73. Thirdeye says:

    Interesting developments in Latakia. Al Qaeda et al. is giving their all trying to regain Jabal Rus and points northwest of Duweirika, and have reoccupied some villages. The front appeared largely static for days, but SAA has moved into the uplands north of the M4 highway as well as some high points east of Touman. There is also a major penetration into the heart of the remaining Al Qaeda positions in the Turkmen Mountains near the border.
    This twitter feed in Arabic has a lot of excellent maps that are updated frequently. It is intelligible with Chrome translation.

  74. Tel says:

    “Tayyip is now denouncing the US as a faithless partner because we do not share his enthusiasm for bombing the YPG Kurds.”
    Takes one to know one I guess.

  75. Old Microbiologist says:

    Vietnam and Korea are good examples of reasons not to go to war. This were clearly supporting failed colonialism policies and had no clear goals. No existential threat was posed to the US whatsoever. The same can be said for everything we have done in the ME. None of these posed any threats to the survival of the US yet we continue to support these amazingly stupid wars. The military serves well and fights within the limitations posed by the politicians in control. Those deliberate limitations are why we haven’t won a war since WWII and even then Russia did the lion’s share. However, these plutocrats have no skin in the game and really do not care one whit about the soldiers or later veterans. This is not a new phenomena but it is something we should be trending to avoid rather than leap in at every possible opportunity to destroy some country for reasons which are vague at best and to suffer the resultant outcomes back at home.
    What galls me the most is that we print money which we don’t have and never can repay to fund these debacles while everything at home is in decline. It isn’t the military that is the problem, but rather the plutocracy which claims to be representing us.

  76. IMO modern nation-states largely owe their formation due to warfare with other nation-states. The large-scale dwindling of UNIFORMED MILITARY fails to understand this history.

  77. LeaNder says:

    Sorry, this was about the worst proofread post for quite some time.
    but thanks, for your response, Charles. Did my emotions show? 😉
    “the marxist pack, the ultra libertarians …albeit evolving and inclusing, structures.”
    More private response. Yes, I basically assume that an American that refers to postmodernism may have structuralism and post-structuralism in mind. Terms that I prefer. I always struggled with the use of modern or postmodern over the centuries.
    Still more private and even less deeply reflected. I also struggled with the Heidegger renaissance via France in the larger context. But I also was deeply drawn to some of the names you list. My favorite is in your list.
    It feels that David Habakkuk too, no doubt from judging/evaluating/trying to approach mentally one specific comment, may be in search for “inclusive structures” between the two poles, the individual and society.

  78. Thanks to ALL providing answers to my question on Kettle wars!

  79. LeaNder says:

    Thirdeye, I guess, that’s close to what may have triggered my response.
    Could I understand your connection if I looked into the larger US culture war, its precursors and followers? Has any one written something about how the cold war shaped the mental universe of the US? Could the two be related?
    “.. financial and econometric esoterica …”
    that’s not may field. I could offer you some spontaneous hypotheses from the times I looked into matters. But ultimately none of them would need any “new truths” beyond profit and power and what best to do to spread losses. But that is only from the top of my head.

  80. SmoothieX12 says:

    I am not sure that I follow entirely what you are trying to say. But in regards to Hollywood–I don’t think it was just in 1980s. But the issue here is not just in “portraying”, some of Russians are slobs and close to what could be defined as plain white trash. Troublesome is the fact that Russian history was “Hollywoodized” (or Solzhenitsified) to such a degree that it interfered with the decision making process on the political level, including also due to West’s power “elites” buying their own narrative. We can see the results of that all over today.

  81. Fred says:

    “The military serves well and fights within the limitations posed by the politicians in control.”
    The politicians chose to have America fight Korea and Vietnam.
    “What galls me the most is that we print money which we don’t have and never can repay to fund these debacles while everything at home is in decline.”
    If memory serves your current home is in a foreign country. Feel free to come back tot he USA and run for office to fix things.

  82. YT says:

    Ah, forgive my ceaseless ‘rambling’ (or what the Col. just mentioned in a new post: ‘wandering’).
    I am not brusque or curt like you military men.
    Yes, I dislike these hollywood ‘narratives’ of ‘evil aliens’ – whoever is not American.
    Perhaps the general public ought to read good books (not poli-sci “best-sellers” either!) instead of being influenced by what is portrayed on the ‘silver screen?’

  83. turcopolier says:

    We prefer to think of ourselves as forthright and concise. pl

  84. jld says:

    Tayyip may have more pressing concerns soon enough if he keeps “playing the idiot”

  85. YT says:

    Ah. Faux-pas, Col.

  86. YT says:

    Let us pray…

  87. Thomas says:

    “…we are in the middle of the second Cold War with the Russia with not a communist in sight.” VV
    “They are in plain sight here in the US if you are willing to see through their masks.”
    It was a sarcastic reply to Vietnam Vet about current “Communists”.
    I am talking about my own country and the civilians currently running it and attempting to provoke Russia. They are an ideological offspring wearing different mask such as Neo Conservatism, etc.
    You don’t think the Neo-Con goal is to bring Russia back into their “fold” as they once believed it was in the 90s?
    It once was the idea here to live and let live and that is what was in the interest of the US after the Cold War with relations towards Russia. You live your way’ we will live ours, and come to an understanding on commercial and international agreements. At first I feel there was a real attempt at this by GHW Bush, but after the 1992 election our nations were led down this deteriorating spiral to today’s situation.
    While in a Russian History course in the 90s, a visiting scholar asked if anyone was a former service member and to those us that were he gave a button that said Veteran of the Cold War. I always appreciated that gesture, the past is over, move on, and live and let live.

  88. Thomas says:

    “To put that another way, the post modernists fantasies of Washington are only enabled by the fantastic wealth generated by the American economy. Poor countries cannot afford such silliness.”
    So true.

  89. Thomas says:

    Vietnam Vet,
    Sorry for not replying to you sooner. If you have read my writings lately (and if not I understand), I have been going through a Darkh Humor phase of saying without explicitly saying in a way to mock our moronic Elites and survive with some semblance sanity. And yes I was mocking the Neo-Cons (I like Nouveau Khans since it is a take on the word Kagan).
    I have read your concerns about our current world situation and can empathize with them, which is why I wrote this sentence you in hope in could bring a smile across your soul:
    “An intellectual vanguard leading the (ungrateful) motley masses to utopia by subjecting them to the Beneficial Economic Austere Social Treatment (BEAST).”
    In the mystical myth doesn’t the Beast and the Bitch sanction your wealth for lack compliance to their code? Good thing we don’t see that happening in this age!

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