Erdogan is making progress toward … What?


"Turkey has the following goals:

  • to consolidate gains and to expand the territory under its control in northern and northwestern Syria as well as in northern Iraq. The expansion in northern Iraq may be conducted under the pretext of military efforts against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Sinjar. The military presence in neighboring countries will be justified publicly by the need to create so-called “security zones” to combat “terrorism”;
  • to strengthen positions on the so-called Cyprus Issue. Northern Cyprus is a self-proclaimed state occupying the northern part of the island and is recognized only by Turkey. Turkey maintains a notable military force there;
  • to strengthen its influence in the Aegean Sea;
  • to expand its cultural and political influence into the Turkic states of Central Asia and to restore its clandestine influence on the Turkic regions of Russia."  SF


 The author of this piece agrees with my position that Turkey will not be leaving northern Syria unless forced to do so.  Any number of crafty ploys are available to insure an indefinite presence leading in the end  to a request from a puppet government for annexation to Turkey.  The same thing is very likely to occur in northern Iraq.

What will Russia, Iran and the US do about such a progression of events?  They are likely to do nothing.  Inaction is always probable when larger issues of international economics and great power rivalries are barriers to action.  pl

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93 Responses to Erdogan is making progress toward … What?

  1. JamesT says:

    Looking at a SouthFront video of Turkish Armed Forces progress in northern Syria, I found it discomforting how close the TAF appeared to Aleppo.

  2. Frank says:

    That is a very good point.

  3. kemerd says:

    Apparently, Erdogan wants appoint a governor to Afrin, so yes he intends to stay there for long

  4. The US won’t act because they’d prefer to see Syria broken up. Iran doesn’t have the standing to act and no capability to act militarily. Syria won’t try to use military force because it can’t compete with Turkey’s military might.
    That leaves Russia, which is supposedly committed to insuring the sovereignty of Syria. Russia can bring the issue up in the UNSC, but the US is likely to veto anything they propose. Russia doesn’t want a war with Turkey (and vice versa), so military action is likely to be very much a last resort.
    However, Putin has some leverage in Turkey, such as the S-400 sales as well as sanctions such as were taken after the shoot down of the Russian jet by Turkey. Whether this can be enough to force Turkey out of Syria is unclear, and perhaps unlikely.
    Iraq is in a different position. There, Iran might have some say, albeit again not militarily, unless Iran tries to use Iraq’s military against the Turks, which I find unlikely. I suspect Iran doesn’t really care if Turkey takes over northern Iraq and puts down the Kurds since Iran has its own conflicts with those Kurds, having shelled them in the past.
    Iraq will care because of the lost oil revenue if the Turks seize the northern oil fields and may try some military action, but that is likely to merely force Turkey to commit more troops. The US is likely to try to persuade Iraq not to turn this into full-scale war.
    The real issue with Syria is how things play out after ISIS and Al Qaeda have finally been reduced to a minor terrorist group status. The question is what moves can Russia and to a lesser degree Syria and Iran make to force Turkey out. While there are probably a number of harassing moves they can make (what I mean by harassing moves are things like Russian sanctions.), in the end there are only three possible outcomes:
    1) Harassing moves become expensive for Turkey, so it retreats.
    2) Turkey does not retreat and the Three Amigos forego military action and give up harassing moves.
    3) The Three Amigos ramp up full-scale military action forcing Turkey either into retreat or full-scale regional war.
    In the latter case, I think Russia, Syria and Iran could make things hot enough for Turkey to retreat, if not actually defeat Turkey militarily. However, Turkey being a NATO member, this gives the US another shot at intervening on Turkey’s side against Syria, which the US would be happy to do, depending on how much direct conflict with Russia that might entail.
    So in the end the question boils down to: what will Russia do? Putin has a tendency to make asymmetric moves before committing to military action, and these are by definition hard to predict. While he is also cautious, he is also firm – so if Turkey manages to annex large portions of Syria, he is likely to respond to the exact degree that he sees these acts damaging Russian interests, if not so much Syria’s interests. So the question will be how much does Putin think Turkey annexing parts of Syria actually damages Russian interests?

  5. Tel says:

    Owning Kurdish territory is really about getting rich from oil revenue and Turkey has excellent infrastructure to achieve that, so yes they have every reason to stay. Put that together with Erdogan’s self aggrandizing and he will not be able to resist the lure of both fame and fortune. He’ll never give it back.
    As a side effect, this also creates a unified Kurdistan. A wise Sultan could offer this as a bargaining chip: Kurds get sufficient autonomy and democratic elections within their own cultural group; while the Sultanate takes a largish share of the oil revenue. An uneasy but stable truce could come out of this. In the short term, let us see how well Turkish troops are respecting Kurdish civilians in Afrin. The news has been uncomfortably dark since the Turks took over. If the Kurds believe they will be massacred like the Armenians were, then they have no choice but to keep fighting to the bitter end, which could get ugly.
    Iran would flip out if Turkish troops cross the border into Kurdish parts of Iran, so I don’t expect such provocation (at least, not soon, perhaps later).
    Baghdad will no doubt be angry about losing oil revenue to Turkey, but what can they do about it? They will complain, maybe move some troops around as a show, try not to lose too much territory but otherwise put up with it.
    As for the USA… well if US troops ever clash with Turks that would be a perfect time for Trump to declare the finish of NATO. He talked about it, the Turks have done nothing to endear themselves with either America or Europe, and the EU has become pretty much a deadweight drain on US resources. Maybe better for everyone.
    Getting to politics for a moment, I read a lot of anti-Trump comments from people who were his supporters, angry over the recent spending. Bolton is not popular amongst the Trump base, actually that’s a bit of an understatement. These mid-terms are set to give surprising results IMHO Americans do NOT want another war, they don’t want more Neocons, and they don’t want Socialists either. The Democrats have no clear direction (when they are asking Biden of all people to make a run for President you know they have run right out of ideas). I expect to see a rise of alternative candidates flowing into the political vacuum… probably isolationist, anti-immigration, anti-war, and perhaps even anti-deficit.

  6. turcopolier says:

    Just can’t escape that economic determinism can you? pl

  7. Tel says:

    In a random universe, all strategies are as good as each other because no matter what you do the result is still completely random.
    I don’t believe in a random universe. There are some monks and ascetics who would walk past a pile of money on the table, uninterested in taking it up. Perhaps there are some retired old men who have come to value peace and quiet more than anything else. Erdogan is none of those things, he is attracted to both wealth and power.

  8. Tel says:

    On the topic of determinism, not specifically the Middle East, but does explain a lot about what goes on in the Middle East, and a great general purpose framework as well:
    I know there’s additional nuance you can add to that, but even if you don’t like the simplistic pragmatism you can’t avoid some of the basic conclusions here.
    It also explains why Trump’s pivot towards the Neocons is largely a sign of weakness.

  9. turcopolier says:

    “some retired old men” Yes, I have long been senile and other worldly. I am well known to be so. Actually, my objection is not that you think money and greed are important but that you think it determines the fate of nations. Have you taken the MBTI? Be honest. pl

  10. turcopolier says:

    The trouble with “simplistic pragmatism” is that humans and their motivations are not simple and their actions are seldom as simple as posited by economic determinism. Economic determinism as a badly flawed tool in analysis. Was the VN War about a US attempt to seize the rubber plantations and fish sauce factories of VN? I suppose you think the US invaded Iraq for its oil. Your remark about Trump and the neocons is incomprehensible. pl

  11. VietnamVet says:

    The Middle East is engulfed by tribal-mob wars sponsored by the Superpowers. Since the coup attempt and German withdrawal; joining Europe is not an option for Turkey. Recep Tayyip Erdogan will take and keep what he can. Neutralizing the Kurds would be one more minority eliminated. Only more powerful nation states can stop him. Since Israel’s and the USA’s intention is permanent tribal warfare to divide Muslims; that leaves Russia or an Iraq and Iran alliance which both have Kurd problems themselves.
    The USA is sitting on an oil field in the middle of the Syrian desert by itself with Kurds heading home for the final battle with Turkey and the Euphrates Valley full of true believers that can only be controlled by a legitimate even-handed secular national police and army. We are in a World War right now. The world is one mistake or one first strike away from a nuclear war. The Western Empire directed by corporate oligarchs is intent on flushing nation states down the drain. Yet, the Apocalypse can only be prevented by a Global Peace Treaty signed by the Middle East Nations and the Superpowers including Russia, China, European Union and the United States.

  12. turcopolier says:

    IMO neo-Ottoman irredentism is not “sponsored” by the superpowers. It is sui generis. pl

  13. Peter VE says:

    “Yes, I have long been senile and other worldly.” If your current sharp wit and understanding of the world represents you in your dotage, I should not have to liked to spar with you when your were younger and more aware….
    On the larger point which you are making, I have come to realize that we are ruled far more by our emotions than by the rationality we pretend to follow. Individuals act for personal reasons, which can include venality and emotion, as well as rationality. The tribe is driven far more by the emotions, and sometimes by economic determinism, but rarely by reason.
    If we invaded Iraq for the oil, we sure f’d up. We surely didn’t invade Iraq to remove Iran’s main enemy, but we managed that too.

  14. turcopolier says:

    Peter VE
    That wit was so ingrained in me that even when I tried to avoid unleashing it, it showed through to my detriment. pl

  15. Anna says:

    Comment on Moon of Alabama re “Ghouta-Afrin Exchange:”
    “Watching videos of the “rebels” boarding the busses in East Ghouta, I saw a LOT of White helmets guys wandering around. As usual, they fled with the moderate headchoppers.
    But I noticed a LOT of guys in sparkling, new purple costumes assisting the retreat, so I enlarged a screen shot and saw they are another NGO called “Violet Syria.” So, I went to their website, and followed links to their “partners” and sure enough, all Western-funded “color revolution” types. Violet Syria was founded in 2014 in Turkey, just as White helmets had been a year earlier. Their sponsors include the International Rescue Committee, whose President and CEO is David Miliband, a former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom.”
    The International Rescue Committee was caught on “rigging and multiple bribery and kickback schemes related to contracts to deliver humanitarian aid in Syria.” Sounds right.

  16. mikee says:

    Re: VN
    As i recall it was about dominoes.

  17. FourthAndLong says:

    In line with the YouTube video cited by Tel, what would make sense is not that alignment with neocons is a sign of weakness, but that alignment with neocons, for Trump, is an illustration of the principle (as elucidated in the video) that a ruler needs groups or blocs other than those who got him into power on his side – – to rule, govern, what have you.
    So I suppose if he needs or needed them to govern, and did not have them on his side, then yes that’s a form of or example of weakness – until remedied by what appears unmistakably to be a pivot in their direction.

  18. Peter AU says:

    The Russian MoD’s maps of the de-escalation zones from some time ago, I think give an indication as to what Russia’s long term views on Turkish occupation will be.
    Their was no dividing line of any type between Israel occupied Golan and the rest of Syria. Turkey’s occupation though will most likely last the length of cold war 2.0

  19. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Specifically in response to Tel, but just a generic claim,
    One thing that I came to suspect is that, while 99% of world events take place because of “simple pragmatism,” or, generically, “obvious and mundane” reasons, “big” things almost invariably take place for reasons bizarre, strange, and “weird.” People have learned to deal with things like simple economic motives and other “rational” things. When things start taking place for “unusual” reasons (e.g. nationalist movements in Balkans, circa 1914, German irredentism towards Poland combined with Nazi domestic politics in 1939, etc) many people don’t know how to deal with them and exacerbate things, things spin out of control, and really bad things happen generally. I realize that I might have put “engineers” in a bad light in the mbti thread, but this is the kind of problem that I had in mind. I would expect stereotypical “engineers” to do fine when dealing with the “usual” problems. I suspect “engineers” will have trouble when “strange” and “weird” forces are in play.

  20. FourthAndLong says:

    @ Peter VE
    Back in the day, searching long and hard for justifications for the ’03 Iraq invasion – justifications that made sense, some sense, to me at least, I finally settled on something Henry Kissinger said in response to a question (more or less): “well, why did we invade Iraq then, Iraq, which had nothing to do with 911 – when the culprits were terrorists domiciled within Afghanistan?”
    Dr. Kissinger said words to the effect (paraphrase): “Because the humiliation of the 911 attack on the United States was of a magnitude far in excess of anything that could be compensated or revenged by an attack on Afghanistan.”
    The US really had to stomp someone – emphatically, unmistakably and irretrievably stomp.
    That is not a thought that comforts me in the dark hours when conscience and remorse strike and regret becomes overwhelming. No. There is a terrible but real duality: I loved my country so much (though I knew it not, really at the time – yes you’d say I was leftist – but discovered something organic -territorial? -within me) to desire drastic revenge transcending any ethic or morality, while at the same time holding to the ideals, dreams, illusions – that no, despite all evidence to the contrary, that we were better than that – better than to revenge ourselves so utterly and shamelessly.

  21. paul says:

    honestly if you really think about it, if the ottomans had not been dismantled and Jerusalem and mecca were both under the sovereignty of the sultan the world would be a much better place.

  22. b says:

    Russia, Iran and Iraq are selling gas and oil to Turkey. Should there be, at the same time, some problems with the pipelines or compressor stations Turkey would be troubled.
    That might be a way to change minds in Ankara.

  23. turcopolier says:

    Sadly you are not well enough educated to understand the many factors that go into such decisions and therefore like some here opt for the explanation that is “simplistic pragmatism.” Unfortunately that explanation is incorrect. “Batty?” You are pushing it jazz man. pl

  24. turcopolier says:

    Kissinger was right in so far as he went but what he did not want to say is that a conspiracy of neocons successfully steered the rage you are talking about to a war of aggression against Iraq based upon what they thought would be best for Israel. If you want to read about that process see my article “Drinking the Koolaid.” pl

  25. turcopolier says:

    You are approaching the truth. Engineer types can deal with management decisions. I did not say they could not. But, as you say, significant, non-routine situations for which they do not have a set of Rules are something they do not deal with well. The conduct of the war in Iraq is one such example. The US military went into Iraq without a doctrinal model for dealing with a guerrilla insurgency. The Engineer types (who predominate among US generals) had destroyed that doctrine after VN. Without a rule book they could not even comprehend what a guerrilla insurgency was, much less defeat it. For a while they tried to define their problem as “rear area security.” Then they wanted it to be “combat in cities.” They had doctrine for those things. Then they wanted to believe that a new form of warfare had emerged. This was nonsense of course. Guerrilla insurgencies have alway existed. False prophets emerged to tell them they were no stupid, merely faced by a revolutionary 4th Generation of war. In the end they came to understand that what they were facing was VN without the North Vietnamese Army and they then revived the old doctrine for that and issued it as Petraeus’ much hailed and claimed fraudulent new prophetic vision. In the earlier war in VN the systems analysis and operations research engineers grouped around McNamara never really understood the nature of the political and guerrilla insurgency we were combating. By their “simplistic pragmatic” analysis conducted in 1965 the Vietnamese communists should have surrendered in 1967. One of them explained this to my MI Career course in 1966. He was sure that the enemy would surrender the next year. pl

  26. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I agree; same sort of people probably would have expected USSR to surrender in 1941, or England in 1940.
    Saddam Hussein certainly expected a quick & easy victory.

  27. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Prior to 1900, the economic and political basis of Peace of Vienna had dissolved. The European Powers could have acknowledged that and proceeded to renegotiate a new Peace to replace that of Vienna or prepare for War. They chose war – the “Engineers” maintained things until an opportune time for war was arrived at.
    We are in a similar position today, the Peace of Yalta has been defunct for 26 years and the Engineer types are maintaining things as best as they can while the major powers are looking for a good opportunity for a global war that would once and for all grant them the Olympian strategic heights of this planet.
    At any time, US, EU, Russia, China can initiate a process of renegotiation of a new Peace but they are loath to do it. China and Russia could create a new separate Peace in Asia – but they are not moving in that direction either.
    When war ultimately breaks out, the Engineer types would be clueless and how it happened and the instigators would rue the day that they destroyed their own position and their own world.

  28. daniel says:

    Perhaps no, perhaps yes. And I hope yes.
    Ankara’s satrape could have another card up his sleeve: his ability to make his people suffer, without paying the price himself. And maybe he has that card. After all, he is not a satrape for nothing. You need it to get to the top of the pile. We’ve seen this before.
    So, the question is: “Erdogan is making progress toward … What?” Answer: His end. For the good of all, and first and foremost of the Turks who deserve better.

  29. Babak Makkinejad says:

    It is called Katarsis – like Iranians with the occupation of US Embassy…

  30. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    SST, Col. Lang;
    IMO most of tayyip’s statements and “ideas” are fielded w/ an eye to the upcoming election. He is playing the two sides in the MENA Great Game against each other, and hoping to consolidate his rule before the economics in Turkey deteriorate further. He is a master in this game, having used and discarded quite a set of opportunist/corrupt “elites”, “mild” islamists, separatist kurds, democracy-lovers, “ummah-dreamers”, “secularity-haters” and other, similar, vermin over the course of his career. His interactions with Putin and Lavrov have not been as successful. The next few years will show if traditional bazaar wiliness can outperform the best Soviet training.
    Zeroeth order, TSK’s operations in Afrin has helped Russia and SAA. If we are now ordered to deal w/ Manjib, life will become somewhat exciting for a lot of folks-and this will further help the R+6. The Borg must co-opt tayyip one way or the other if the Yinon Plan is to have a hope of success.
    Interesting times.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  31. Colonel,
    Off topic, but I’m worried about the arithmetic of the Russian expulsions. If one looks at the series so far for the US, UK, and Germany its around 60, 20, 4.
    After weighting for population and the respective degrees of Russophobia, is this a reducing series or does it go negative?
    If the former Sweden would have to expel one fifth of a Russian diplomat. The only humane way to do this would be to send the diplomat home for a month or so every year. Doable, if fussy.
    If the latter – and that’s how the series looks to me – then by my calculations Sweden will have to expel minus ten.
    Which can only mean that the Russians will be honour bound to send ten spare diplomats to Stockholm.
    The calculations for Iceland don’t bear thinking about. Can the Reykjavik Embassy accommodate a couple of hundred extra Russians?
    I suspect that neither the State Department nor HMG have thought this one through.

  32. The Porkchop Express says:

    Col. and others –
    Way off topic — but does anyone here have any good recommendations on a nice shooting range in the DC/VA/MD area, that would be suitable to take a 16 year old to?

  33. Terry says:

    I’d expect ongoing turkification of the Olive Branch/Euphrates shield area, resettlement of Syrian refugees to the region, with the creation of a pliable government beholden to Turkey. Initially the plan will be to reunify with Syria once Assad is gone but depending on events perhaps a referendum to join Turkey at some point.
    Afrin – “Children forced out of school by YPG/PKK terrorists were overjoyed to return to their classrooms in Afrin, northwestern Syria, two years later. Turkey has undertaken a school renovation project in Afrin where a counter-terror operation is ongoing.
    Same as earlier in al-Bab – “Children returning to school in the northern Syrian city of al-Bab were handed a new textbook this term: “Türkçe Öğreniyorum” – “I am learning Turkish”. Turkish lessons, Turkish signposts, Turkish-trained police and most recently a Turkish post office all point to Turkey’s deepening role in an area of northern Syria it captured from Islamic State (IS) with the help of Syrian rebels. Turkish administrators are even helping to run hospitals in the area.”
    As to next phase of the war it looks like the Homs pocket may be next.
    “The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper quoted army sources as saying that the army helicopters have dropped leaflets over the terrorist-held areas in Northern and Northwestern Homs, calling on them to surrender themselves and their weapons.
    They also urged the terrorists to take lesson from the fate of militants in other parts of Syria who resisted against the army’s cleansing operations first, but were forced later to join the peace plan.”
    What’s next for Turkey? Idlib, Manbij, or both? Both are important for the larger goals of Aleppo and al-Raqqa. Manbij is more important for Turkish security. Idlib already is largely under control of Turkey friendly forces. I’d expect that Turkey will work through FSA proxies to defeat/co-opt Hayat Tahrir al-Sham rather than direct intervention for now. Once the SAA/Russians finish mopping up the smaller pockets and go after Idlib then perhaps more direct intervention to protect will happen. In Manbij I don’t believe that Turkey will go for direct conflict with the US, but rather covert operations to drive wedges between Kurds and Arabs to undermine the US presence.

  34. robt willmann says:

    Somewhat related is that the Trump administration is expelling 60 Russian diplomats (who may have a second job, too), and closing the Russian consulate in Seattle. I at first thought that only the Seattle consulate was going to be closed, which would just be a sop to Britain, but apparently it will involve Russians elsewhere–

  35. LeaNder says:

    Zeroeth order, TSK’s operations in Afrin has helped Russia and SAA.
    I am too lazy today, besides shouldn’t be here, Ishmael.
    “Zeroeth order” TSK?
    Question to Babak. “MENA Great Game”: a different political alignment surfaced for me, admittedly following Babak’s hint back into history around the Balkan War. I forget what it was, unfortunately no political scientist. I wish I still knew. I don’t get closer to grasp it then via “Second” to “Third World” to “Fourth World” scenarios from times long gone by. Which no doubt may always have been an unscientific term from the perspective of political scientists. … How would I know?
    I ask, since I wonder if he is still around? Or following the discussion.

  36. EEngineer says:

    Insightful perspective. I see the SCO, AIIB, and OBOR projects as laying the ground work for just such a move on the part of Russia and China. EU is but a pawn at this point and the US is not yet ready to sit down and talk yet. Perhaps if the table is set correctly war can be avoided…

  37. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Erdogan was betrayed – stabbed in the back – by his allies as well as those whom he had tried to befriend. Consider:
    His allies in NATO did not deliver what was promised when he helped wreck a Muslim country.
    He blames US for the attempted coup against him.
    And the Kurdish leaders – in HDP or in PKK – took his attempt at rapprochement with them as a sign of weakness and only escalated their demands. And in cases of the PKK, reverted back to type.
    And those he despised and mistrusted, Iranians and Russians, threw him a rope by means of which he could rigth the ship of state.
    Erdogan is not any more of a kelopto-crat than anyone else in the Middle East who cannot comprehend the idea of Opportunity Loss or a Win-Win game.

  38. turcopolier says:

    Babak #1
    Are you aware of the other Babak’s comments? pl

  39. turcopolier says:

    Leander #2
    Are you commenting in cooperation with LeaNder #1? [;

  40. turcopolier says:

    i would go to Clark Brothers on Rte 29 near Warrenton. the range is fully managed and is behind the store. The BBQ across the road is also good. pl

  41. The Porkchop Express says:

    Col. Thanks ! I’ll give it a shot.

  42. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Very funny.

  43. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    @39 re: “Erdogan is not any more of a kelopto-crat than anyone else in the Middle East who cannot comprehend the idea of Opportunity Loss or a Win-Win game.”
    It is hard to polish a turd.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  44. turcopolier says:

    A sad delusion. pl

  45. Babak Makkinejad says:

    His betters in the alliance system that so many in Turkey consider a badge of honor and an a stamp of being civilized asked him to help wreck Syria and he saluted the flag and did so.
    Later, evidently, the same alliance tried to overthrow him; if rumors to that effect be correct.
    We all recall the Phony War of the West against ISIS in Iraq – until Iran and Russia intervened in Syria and in Iraq.
    We all recall the stony silence of the “Official Europe” that met the 2 letters of Ayatollah Khamenei to the European Youth after Muslim terrorists attacks in Western Europe.
    I agree that the AKP foreignpolicy was demonstrated to be devoid of both “Adl” and “Progress”. And certainly completely devoid of any Islamic Charity.
    But AKP rule ushered in several important changes domestically in Turkey; it oriented the economic development policies into the interior of the country, it firmly established the principle of the primacy of the civilian authority over the military in Turkey, it took steps to redress the discrimination of the European-oriented Kemalists against practicing and devout Turks, and began a serious dialogue with Kurdish politicians to ameliorate the insoluble tension between Iranians (a.k.a. Kurds) and the Turkic state.
    The participation in the Syrian Civil War in order to wound Iran was a fool’s errand. But I am doubtful that the Kemalists would have done anything different when told to do so by their superiors in NATO (read USA).
    Erdogan and AKP are not going to last forever in Turkey but their domestic policies, specially prior to 2011, will have lasting influence in Turkey as she zig-zags towards Representative System of Government and the Rule of Law.
    It is a mistake in analysis to consider Erdogan’s actions outside of NATO alliance system as well as friendly Arabs.

  46. Babak Makkinejad says:

    A Corporation Hiding Behind a Democracy Mask would be preferable, in my view.
    The business men that I have known want stability, peace, and order so as to make money.
    Then dealing with USA would be easy; completely transaction on the basis of making money – no metaphysical issues to cloud conducting business with her.
    Were it true.

  47. kao_hsien_chih says:

    It is certainly an interesting difference, the difference between “engineers” and “vision” people. Chess is a great game for engineers because it is fully defined–everything that could possibly happen on a chessboard is constrained by the rules. Theoretically, you will have mastered the game if you fully understand the rules and do the necessary computations–which, unfortunately, are intensive enough that no computer can yet “solve” chess. So this becomes a simple “engineering” problem, how to marshal enough computing resources and techniques to do the necessary computations. But the “visions” people wonder if the rules are so fixed in stone and ask what’d happen if the rooks start moving diagonally–which prompts engineering people to claim that the visions people don’t understand chess at all (to which the visions people might respond, “what makes you think we’re really playing ‘chess’?”) Rooks usually don’t move diagonally, so leaving engineers be, playing their chess according to the rules probably is not usually a bad idea…but a successful policymaker needs to be able to divine when what appears to be chess is no longer chess and take the engineers off of the chessboard that isn’t any more.

  48. turcopolier says:

    I agree that businessmen are not willing risk takers. In fact they are rather cowardly. Musk is an exception. pl

  49. kao_hsien_chih says:

    A common misconception, I think: that if the “rules” that govern the universe are not what I like/what suits my side, there must be some other side, preferably made up of the people whom I don’t like, that has instituted some other set of rules to suit their agenda. The idea that the universe does not have a fixed, or at least stable, rule that determines what happens doesn’t really occur to many people. I don’t know if you are familiar with the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips, but I always thought “Calvinball” makes for a useful and clever analogy to how the universe, at least the man made portions thereof, are run. (esp the fact that, while the rules might be made on the fly, all players can play that game, not just Calvin.)

  50. Eric Newhill says:

    I addition to what you say, I think people are attracted to concepts that appear to result in tidy little packages with bows on top, like economic determinism, because they are truly afraid of facing what actually motivates them/us. Not many want to look demons in the face – and there are too few angels influencing the actors up on the stage. Unpredictable chaos is also too scary for many to accept. Yet the same demons and chaos have been operating against the same angels since the first human story was written. Cain slew Able not because of the scarcity of coats, but because of jealousy, etc.
    I think the Turks are full of demons and looking back a hundred years ago or so will shed some light on what some of those are. But I’ve already said more than enough about that here already.

  51. Thomas says:

    “(to which the visions people might respond, “what makes you think we’re really playing ‘chess’?”)”
    I would disagree with you on this, that the vision people see playing chess is more about the other person and how they react. So if you got a good understanding of your opponent, you make what may be considered an illogical move to see if it flusters or confuses them.
    What we have been learning here over the years is the importance of understanding human nature. The engineers help maintain the system, and the visionaries help with a watchful eye for the vile who will throw the chess board across the room. The engineer will ask the vile why to be met with silence behind a sinister smile as the visionary knows the answer, “because he can”.

  52. LondonBob says:

    Erdogan is making Turkey great again, he is playing his limited cards well, or is that just in comparison to the clowns we have in charge in the West. The question is when his eyes turn to Jerusalem, even the Turkey is vital for NATO crowd won’t be a match for the lobby.

  53. Jony Kanuck says:

    I think there is a possible correlation of forces in Syria & Iraq (backed up by Iran) together resisting a Turkish incursion. What could set this off is if Erdo gets greedy & say actually goes after Mosul or Allepo.
    It’s not something they want to do. I’ve seen more evidence today that Syria is putting pieces into place to scrap with Israel. Hezbollah & Syria would rather hit Israel before either Israel hits them or bites off so much of Syria & Lebanon that a new game is created.
    I think Lavrov & Putin are playing Erdo like a fish. He can squirm & thrash but if things keep going as they have been (econ develop)Erdo will look around one day & realize that all his options are with Rus/China.

  54. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    re: #48
    Still trying to polish the turd? The links I provided above substantiate why defining tayyip&co as kleptocrats is reasonable. Your responses evade the issues.
    In regards to your expectation: “But I am doubtful that the Kemalists would have done anything different when told to do so by their superiors in NATO (read USA).“, I suggest that you re-read your past predictions about the tayyip experiment and compare these to the actual outcomes. Why should anyone believe that your current expectations are more accurate?
    tayyip participated in the on-going “fool’s errand” because he is a fool, like most islamists. Trying to defend him is yet another fool’s errand. So was supporting him in the beginning.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  55. Sarah B says:

    Thus, nothig new under the sun, both “White Helmets” and “Violet Syria”, have the same origin…MI6…
    Since “White Helmets” are already totally unmasked….They come with another trick…
    This is the people who not only take profit out of supposed humanitarian work and war, but they are also the responsibles of the current discredit of any genuine NGO out there or any genuine people working at them..

  56. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Political evolution requires time for the trial and error process. The Kemalist, the Gulen sheep, the Hejab-or-Rape crowd, and the AKP voters are real people who should have their day at the ballot box. This is where I stand.

  57. turcopolier says:

    Babak #2
    Thank you. pl

  58. Barbara Ann says:

    Unpredictable chaos is also too scary for many to accept.
    There is no real excuse these days for ignoring the possibility of unpredictable chaos, even in a deterministic system. My eyes were opened to this by James Gleik’s excellent book; ‘Chaos: Making a New Science’. In it, Gleik describes the history of Chaos Theory (a poor name for the phenomenon in my view, as what is described is mathematical fact) or the behavior of ‘non-linear’ dynamic systems – i.e. those which include feedback of some kind. Any system including the behavior of people in a group – where an individual’s behavior is affected by the observed behavior of others – is such a system and thus inherently both unstable and unpredictable. Gleik describes many such systems, both natural and man-made, which can appear to be stable & predictable over the long term. Yet all retain the potential to suddenly change into a chaotic and unpredictable state, if subject to the right level of external stimulus.
    ‘Engineers’ worth their salt should thus have an understanding of this phenomenon and yet many seemingly choose not to – perhaps due to the very fact that such behavior defies predictive analysis. A classic example is Greenspan’s “flaw”. Greenspan clearly did not understand the inherent nature of the system he was charged with overseeing. Had he done so, he would have been aware that the risk of an unpredictable boom or bust in the financial system was an intrinsic feature of that system, regardless of the types of controls employed.
    By the way, another such system is the planetary orbits in the Solar System – one would have thought one of the most stable and predictable of all.

  59. Barbara Ann says:

    KHC (comment #50)
    Does your use of the word “unfortunately” belie ‘engineering’ thinking? One would hope the visionary would question the desirability of developing computers capable of beating us at chess. One such was the late Stephen Hawking, who warned of the dangers of developing ever improved AI, simply because we can. After all, is it not our superior intelligence that allows us to dominate ‘lesser’ species on this planet?
    But you are right that a good policymaker should be able to detect when the fundamental game being played has changed – even if others still see it proceeding as before. We must hope that Russia’s red line in Syria has prompted the right people to detect just such a change.

  60. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    re: #59 “The Kemalist, the Gulen sheep, the Hejab-or-Rape crowd, and the AKP voters are real people who should have their day at the ballot box.
    If the “the Hejab-or-Rape crowd” gets a majority at the ballot box, do they have the right to rape women who refuse “Hejab”?
    Ishmael Zechariah

  61. Sid Finster says:

    Found on internet. Spelling and grammar as in original:
    “It’s now clear that the lunatics running the USG crime syndicate are not just stupid and reckless in compelling Russian obeisance; they are in fact genocidal psycopaths actively pursuing war. The USG has lost all legitimacy.
    Trump just expelled 60 Russian diplomats and closed its West coast embassy based on the UK — a case for which there is no motive, no credible tangible evidence, no transparent/open investigation, and total disregard for clearly-prescribed, established due process. This provocation is more ludicrous than the exposed broadcast lie that Sadam’s troops dumped Kuwaiti infants out of incubatord in order to justify war. The Don of this military crine syndicate is now drunk on the swamp water he’d promised to drain and he’s ready to press the button.”
    That said, if Trump thinks he is proving that he is his own man, then he’s wrong. Not only is he allowing himself to be manipulated like a weakminded high school kid who picks a fight so that people will stop calling him a wimp, his belligerence towards Russia will not convince anyone who does not want to be convinced.
    Hell, Trump could declare war on Russia today and russiagate conspiracy theorists will still scream “Putin puppet” even as they go up in a mushroom cloud.

  62. kao_hsien_chih says:

    @Barbara Ann (#62)
    Well, I tend to think that chess is overrated as a game of intellect: it is the classic conceptually simple game with complex moving parts. Everything about “solving” chess lies with the “management” and “computation,” rather than the “big picture.” If we could just resolve the “management” problems, which having powerful enough computers would, how simple chess is would become apparent. Politics, policymaking, diplomacy, espionage, strategy, etc. strike me as of exactly the opposite nature: the substance of the problem is complex, even if the moving parts might not seem so difficult. All the management and computation will not resolve these problems without a subtle understanding of the “substance.” The unfortunate part, to me, is that because we fixate over the moving parts, we often don’t see the substance.

  63. different clue says:

    I have been reading enough about the MBTI test that I am becoming a little curious about where I would fall on the test.
    The problem is, if I go into the test wishing to see myself in a certain way, or as ranging across a certain band of types, will I consciously OR unconsciously bias my answers in order to get the results I consciously OR unconsciously want? In which case, what actual knowledge would I gain from the test?
    So the question is . . . is the MBTI test spoof-proof?

  64. Mark Logan says:

    I’ll suggest digging into the history of the Turks and the Kurds a wee bit. There is some Hatfield/McCoy math involved in this, and that affair ran up expenses well in excess of the price of a pig as well. I suppose that could be taken as snide but it wasn’t intended as such.
    I see the pitfall many fall into is expecting the information to be readily available, if not blatantly obvious. That is IMO the last thing to expect.

  65. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I believe my position has been very clear: one has to first acknowledge and accept ones’s background and culture before one could move in any direction.
    In regards to your question: the Hejab-or-Rape are real people all over the Muslim World – they must have their day at the ballot box.
    You guys, the Kemalists, had 70 years to instill and educate them to be something different; to stand for the Rule of Law, for Representative System of Government, for Freedom – but you failed.
    What you put in place, however, was a form of Garrison Secularism; all the while in search of Wealth and Power that the European Christian Powers exhibited.
    I am suggesting to let the chips fall where they may – there is no other way.

  66. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Everyone West of Zagros Mountains has a historical grievance against Ottomans – and by extension – contemporary Turks. A visionary statesman would try to move beyond those grievances: why enable the young people be consumed by the Past?
    Brezhnev, Brandt, Schmidt, de Gaulle were examples of such progressive statesmen.
    I think there is absence of such men in the Near East.

  67. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There are only 5 board games of strategy created in all of human history that have survived:
    Chess, Go, Korean Chess, Mancala, Backgammon.
    [I am disregarding checkers and Senet]
    It thus stands to reason that those with an MBTI that is congenial to such games must have been fairly numerous across races, cultures, and continents for millennia – likely with the same ratios to the other types as today.

  68. J says:

    I wonder if the Saudis will approach Moscow to buy their S400 defense system?

  69. Barbara Ann says:

    Wholeheartedly agree re the rules of chess vs. the real complexity of international affairs. Trump is sometimes described as playing 4D chess and perhaps we should recognize this as an insult, rather than praise. Putin, on the other hand, is clearly comfortable playing a game with an infinitely more complex set of rules.

  70. Barbara Ann says:

    I agree with @daniel re the answer to the question you pose here – i.e. “His end”. Nevertheless, in the meantime I think we are bound to see attempts to further extend the Turkish Republic of Northern Syria. Just as the Sudetenland was not enough in 1938, nationalist irredentist fervor must surely now be further assuaged in Turkey today – it is the nature of the beast.
    Along with the usual editorial forecasting that “a Turkey Shield is going to be built from Afrin to the Iranian border.” Yeni Safak today describes the force of 12,000 FSA troops awaiting the order to move on Manbij. It includes the following cryptic passage:

    Turkey and the United States have reached “an understanding, not an agreement” over Manbij, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said last week. If an agreement is reached between Ankara and Washington, the numbers of the FSA force will be reduced by half.

    One must wonder where the other 6,000 troops are to go, as part of this agreement.

  71. kao_hsien_chih says:

    @Barbara Ann,
    I’m talking about “chess” in the abstract, as a game that is entirely defined by “rules” and has no element of uncertainty. While some of these may be more complex or simpler than others, they are all the same in their underlying logic: there is a clearly defined “right answer” to master them if all the rules are completely understood in the “engineering” sense. Many problems in the real world does not work like this. They are complex beyond the “rules,” with the possibility that “weird,” “irrational,” and otherwise strange things that exist outside the rules could take place. “Engineers” cannot even understand these. Chess players, 3d, 4d, or 23d, cannot understand Calvinball, or even poker, let alone master them. If all that the Russians, say, can understand is chess, we all are in grave danger, but I have no reason to believe that they are necessarily any more capable of playing Calvinball than the people who occupy the high positions in US military.

  72. Barbara Ann says:

    ..why enable the young people to be consumed by the Past?
    Precisely because there are far more dangerous things for the young people to be consumed by. Especially if one is not, in fact, a visionary statesman and is instead a kleptocrat nationalist with an irrational irredentist fervor.

  73. mikee says:

    In reply to #71:
    According to your link: “At least five American-made Patriot missiles apparently missed, malfunctioned, or otherwise failed when Saudi forces tried to intercept a barrage of rockets targeting Riyadh on March 25.”
    Does anyone know how many of the seven ballistic missiles struck their targets?

  74. J says:

    Aw shucks, I was hoping that RISK was added making it 6. Oh well.

  75. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    re: #68
    You again did not answer the key question. let me repeat: ” Do these morons have the right to rape women who reject the hijab?”. In other words, does your “ballot box” give them this right? Or, mayhap, should the hijabis throw acid in the faces of the immodest like your compatriots in Iran do.
    Your responses illustrate why we, secular nationalists, could not educate the rapists.
    It IS hard polishing a turd…
    Ishmael Zechariah

  76. Barbara Ann says:

    Babak (comment #68)
    It strikes me as paradoxical to advocate the ballot box for the crowd you describe, many of whom have no cultural background in such a method of governance.

  77. Fred says:

    You left out “Ultimatum”, a board game from the ’80s. I remember playing it with my roomate on the messdeck of the sub I was on back when the USSR hadn’t been gutted by the Harvard boys. We had a Commander from the Venezualan Navy on board for a couple weeks as an observer. He watched Chris and I play one night after mid-rats for about 30 minutes, until Chris decided nuclear war was winnable. The man shook his head and went back to the ward room. I wonder what he told his people during the debriefing when we pulled into Caracas. It seems too many people in Academia/Think tank world think reality is like that board game.

  78. turcopolier says:

    Explain to me how “venture capitalists” “unduly influence” policy. I have known quite a few as well as people at Lazard Freres and other Wall Street banks. These people are interested in making money and not much else except that a lot of them are on the left politically. This sounds like an idea you picked up in coffee house between sets. pl

  79. turcopolier says:

    You are basically a half assed Marxist who hates business. I guess you think that the big banks and Lockheed Marti pass the envelope under the table and DoD and the WH then buy a lot of gear and go to war to justify the contracts. I had an aunt up in Maine who resolutely refused to believe that satellites could stay in orbit because centrifugal and centripetal forces balance each other to hold them there. She knew nothing of the subject but was sure that what I told her could not be true. You are a lot like that. pl

  80. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The morons do not have the intrinsic right to rape, but my answer is also irrelevant to the main issue:
    That these are real people and the Kemalists failed to alter them over 70 years.
    Algeria is another example –
    Your response, is basically that Muslims polities must live under dictatorship – either Garrison Secularism or “Clerical” oppression.

  81. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Erdogan & AKP have real political and economic achievements – those are undeniable facts.
    Did Erdogan’s Western betters have to, just absolutely have to, adopt the destruction of SAR in order to wound Iran their overarching political objective in the Near East?
    And thus cause harm to both Jordan and Turkey?
    Could not these Western Betters of Erdogan have settled with Iran back in 2006 instead of waging a political, economic, and propaganda war for 8 years before settling for the same 2005 deal? Thus obviating the need for the Syrian War.
    Yes, Erdogan did not live up to his own professed moral and political gains, but did West give him any alternatives?

  82. Babak Makkinejad says:

    US could have made more money by selling Iran all sorts of things; turbines, nuclear reactors, communication gear, bull semen, diesel-electric locomotives etc.
    Capitalists have not been running US’s policy.
    I like capitalists, they are interested in money – and may be beautiful women.

  83. Babak Makkinejad says:

    What do you recommend then for Muslim polities?

  84. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Take Kurds:
    They cannot accept that they are Muslims, that they are culturally Iranians, and that they cannot win against combined might of Iran, Turkey, Syria and Iraq.
    Yet, they sent their young men and women to die for absolutely Nothing of any value.

  85. confusedponderer says:

    re: “a game that is entirely defined by “rules” and has no element of uncertainty
    IMO that’s not correct.
    Chess is certainly being played using the head, a mind and the eyes. But then, rules are just rules, but they aren’t the whole story. The chess board and the rules are just one battlefield.
    Beyond that, there is the player. It is possible to defeat a superior opponent, even if he plays good or even better – in his heart and/or his mind, and then on the board.
    It’s not exactly honourable lest alone fair to play chess that way but “wearing down” an opponent – while staying within chess rules – is possible.
    That is … certainly uncertainty.
    That is to say that, despite its rules, chess certainly does have an element of uncertainty – the player.

  86. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thanks you.
    I confess that I never found strategy games attractive as an adult.

  87. Babak Makkinejad says:

    At times, it wasplayed in conjunction with dice.

  88. JW says:

    Barbara Ann, re your #73. I think the answer to the question is ‘towards the completion of his contractual obligations’. Why ? I’ll pose two questions in regards Erdogan’s seizure and holding of ground:
    Do we really expect either Russia or the US to regard Erdogan as being a constraint on their range of courses of action ?
    Similarly, does Erdogan believe he can act regardless of the intentions of Russia or the US ?
    Erdogan’s brand of success is based on the constant and successful expression of power, and abrading against Russian and US interests is notable way to achieve the opposite which in Erdgogan’s case would result in his eventual flight from Turkey, never to return.
    I would therefore suggest that he does nothing with the militia forces that he has skillfully and purposely assembled, without the agreement of both Russia and the US for their use within deals where and when Russian, US and Turkish interests align. The current alignment would be … against Iran’s intent to extend power to the Mediterranean coast. No one wants them.
    So in answer to your question about the valiant 6000 – I would suggest that for the price of a Turkish gain of Afrin and probably other areas west of the Euphrates, the 6000 and probably a lot more will fill up the Syrian gap between the Syria/Jordan border and the southern point of Rojava, and that will be the end of the Shia Salient.
    While Erdogan’s advances elsewhere may appear to mimic the Sudetenland of long ago, I suggest his limits are well defined by agreement and he is aware who holds the whip. He is also not troubled by his nationalists – he’s locked up tens of thousands of other people and he can add nationalists to the list or manage them is other ways whenever he likes. He’s quite a find, our man Erdogan, and the US and Russia are lucky to have him.
    Incidentally, if the Shia Salient is cut in this way, where would an alternate smaller and non-critical Iranian trickle route be likely to evolve ?
    Via Turkey of course. For a price.

  89. jld says:

    Have “Muslims polities” been of any other sort, ever?

  90. turcopolier says:

    IMO you are not necessarily correct about Sultan Tayyip understanding the realistic limits of his actions. In my time I remember Qathafi and Saddam both making the mistake of underestimating the resolve or reaction of the US. pl

  91. JW says:

    Colonel, those two ran out of time and out of chips, and larger events consumed them. In the case of Saddam, I suggest that the act of dropping Scuds all over Israel during GW1 imposed onerous and permanent defence requirements on Iraq that they were unable to meet, and Libya was Balkanised to make it leak oil regardless of the reconciliation meetings (in which Qathaffi had no difficulty in pointing the bare soles of his feet at Tony Blair).
    The Sultan has no doubt learned well from these events, and is pursing indispensability as the means of advancement and also survival amidst the elephant’s feet.

  92. Barbara Ann says:

    Another from the 80’s I recall fondly was ‘Apocalypse: The Game of Nuclear Devastation’. It was set in Europe and the aim was for your armies to conquer territory – so far, so normal – but the twist was that when you defeat an enemy you get a piece of missile to place somewhere in your territory. Missile pieces can be stacked for greater range and best of all they all had nuclear warheads. When fired you get to place radiation markers on the areas they land on (of course destroying all occupying enemy). The radiation makers make the areas inaccessible for the remainder of the game. I embellished the rules myself by adding submarine-based missiles, the location of which the player would not need to declare. Interestingly it was possible to effectively ‘draw’ if all territory between yourself and an enemy became nuked and impassable. Central Europe did not usually fare well.

  93. Babak Makkinejad says:

    6000 or more are not going to make any material difference to the Crescent of Party of Ali.

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