"Syrian government forces recaptured a Mamluk-era citadel in Palmyra from the extremist Islamic State group on Friday, Syrian state media and monitoring groups said, as the fierce battle for control of the historic town entered its third day.
Syrian and Russian warplanes struck at least 56 targets inside IS-held areas of the city and pro-government militias supported the army’s advance, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.
Palmyra has been controlled by the extremist group since May. The militants have destroyed some of its best known Roman-era archaeological relics.
Government forces Friday cut the road between Palmyra and another IS bastion, the town of Qaryatayn, weakening the group’s hold over its two central Syrian outposts, according to the pro-government Lebanese Al-Mayadeen TV." Washpost
I searched about in the US media today looking for coverage of the fight now raging in eastern Syria for the towns of Palmyra (Tadmur) and Deir az-Zor and all I could find is this AP article in the Washington Post. In that fight Russian air power and the weapons and advice that Russia provides continues to play a major and probably decisive role.
Earlier today I listened to Colonel (Ret.) Jack Jacobs MOH tell the world on MSNBC that the Russian intervention in Syria had been altogether useless, solely designed to "prop up" the Syrian government, had done nothing against IS and that the provision of Russian support against the rebels and IS had ended with no result. Well, pilgrims, Jacobs is a good soldier. He knows war. His statements must be based on a reliance on government provided information, a reliance that his MSNBC employers must accept and sanction. A couple of days ago the following exchange took place between Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, and a reporter concerning the US government's preference for an outcome in the present battle for Palmyra.
"No, I mean, look, I mean, broadly speaking, it’s not a great choice, an either/or, but – which is worse, Daesh or the regime – but we think Daesh is probably the greater evil in this case'. (See https://www.rt.com/usa/337119-us-fails-palmyra-isis/ "
It is noticeable that TV network news is studiously averting its eyes from the obvious evidence of the efficacy of Russian assistance in the fight against the Nusra Front (al-Qa'ida) and the Islamic State (Da'esh). The Russians and Syrian government are also receiving the defections of many CIA supported "seculars" in western Syria and putting them back into the fight as village guards after training at Tartous on the coast.
To fill the time, the 24/7 news obsesses over the idiocies of the US presidential primary elections and moment by moment coverage of Europe's jihadi melt-down. And then, last week there was the marvel of Obama's pilgrimage to Cuba, his apologies for past American misdeeds (largely notional) and his ineptitude as a tango dancer. All these are or were grand distractions from the important events of today's world scene.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote that the USSR was a "muffled zone" in which the truth could not be known because the system would not allow it to be known. The Borgist collective's American branch is obviously happy to have achieved the same result. In the American nomenklatura the narrative imposed by Obama and friends in their search for hegemony (they would call it American :leadership") has destroyed the information base that Americans would need to understand the world, but, that was the idea, was it not? pl
When I was last in Cuba, helping to deliver aid to a blind kids school, I became aware that these blind kids couldn’t get access to Braille paper because of the US blockade of the island. Hardly notional.
This is a very timely post Col. Just today I was thinking about the pasting that ISIS is taking in Palmyra as I was watching the seemingly endless coverage about how U.S. forces killed the ISIS’s #2 man. Wonderful, we killed their finance minister who can be replaced. The only newsworthy aspect of that was that he was a member of Al Qaeda in Iraq, oh, and he was in an Iraqi prison as well. So this was fallout from the Iraq war but this was not mentioned of course.
The only way that the SAA will get any attention will be if they capture Raqqa. BTW ISIS seems to be putting up stiff resistance in Palmyra against approx. 5,000 Syrian troops (according to militarymaps.info). I am hoping that this means that they have committed significant resources there and that the loss of Palmyra will be very painful for them. When the Syrians lost Palmyra in 2015 it really opened up western Syria to ISIS so I am hoping that the reverse is true today.
The US sanctions regime would not have prevented the Cubans from importing braille paper from countries other than the US. http://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/Braille-paper-shipping-from-Shanghai-to_927964513.html?spm=a2700.7724857.29.372.nrhkRS For example. didn’t I ban you? pl
Col Lang, on the plus side the WPo article is at least positive and uses the words “Syrian government forces” instead of “Assad’s Army” or “Assad’s soldiers” and they actually acknowledge “Russian and Syrian warplanes” hitting 56 targets! This is a major shift from previous WPo Syrian articles that I have come across. So there maybe hope. Col J.J. is not alone, unfortunately, I have been constantly surprised by the lack of depth and understanding on many issues by many top and former government officials and “experts” especially when it comes to Russian related issues. This quite sad in that being misinformed and basing an opinion on poor information as an “expert” leads others down the wrong path towards bad “solutions”. Somewhere, I read a story that I’ll paraphrase and I can’t remember the author:
“During the interview, the politician lied to the reporter. When he read the morning paper he knew his view was right.”
If you want another giggle if it wasn’t also so sad; Mark Toner was asked the same question the next day and his answer was just as pathetic:
My guess is Mark has a conscience and is trying to reconcile what he thinks is correct with the State Department’s “party line” that he is employed to spin. I wouldn’t last a minute in his shoes.
Yes, it was. I would only add that, in addition to lying about the importance of the Russian intervention in Syria, the nomenklatura is also puffing up America’s military intervention as loud as it can:
“[the Islamic State’s] base in Syria is being pummeled by American airstrikes” from “A Top ISIS Leader Is Killed in an Airstrike, the Pentagon Says” at
What nonsense! The U.S. was turning a blind eye to ISIS oil shipped to Turkey until the Russians called the world’s, or attempted to call the world’s, attention to it.
The Big Short was essentially one off. The 500 billion dollars a year, *unaudited*, to the Pentagon is on-going and it is not clear it benefits anyone except arms merchants and retired generals.
And, is Obama absolutely in the thick of it? Yes. Absolutely Yes.
…a surprising article to find in the Times.
Oh but it does, due to the Helms-Burton Act of 1996, signed by Bill Clinton, which states, amongst other things:
“Any non-U.S. company that deals economically with Cuba can be subjected to legal action and that company’s leadership can be barred from entry into the United States. Sanctions may be applied to non-U.S. companies trading with Cuba. This means that internationally operating companies have to choose between Cuba and the U.S.” Meaning potential economic suicide for any large company that engages in such trade.
I’ll bet you I could find a jobber somewhere who would sell them all the braille paper they want. 3rd world middle men are easy. They were just BSing you and you fell for it. pl
wrt conscience: wondered why he was cringing, writhing and trying to climb under the desk. why didn’t he want to be there? some possible explanations: he was poorly prepared, incompletely briefed, badly hung over, off his agoraphobia meds, or conflicted. [in ~ descending order of likelihood]
The clip certainly belongs in “You Think You Had a Bad Day Compliation.”
There are also some prominent bloggers who try to muffle-zone their blogs. I am thinking of Professor Juan Cole in particular. I still read there from time to time and I used to comment. Sometimes my comments would post and sometimes not. I got a feeling if my comments were to “mean” or “harshly stated” they would not print.
Semi-recently I read him referring to the “Assad regime” once too often. So I wrote a comment asking why he kept referring to the SARgov as the “Assad regime” when he knew very well it was the only legitimate government in any part of Syria. I then asked him if he wanted to see Syria become a jihadi Islamic Emirate. That one went into “moderation” and never appeared, and since then my comments over there never even appear in “moderation” I suppose I may try again from time to time, but it looks like muffle-ization is sometimes employed at Informed Comment.
How can an experienced military man like Colonel Jack Jacobs rely on a single source of information for a public announcement? Surely he was trained better than that and must have been a G2 sometime. Perusing readily available military maps and war videos would have provided him with a counterpoint to the official (muffled) narrative. If he is truly misled-as opposed to having drunk the kool-aid- perhaps he will get on the same program a month hence and admit publicly to being wrong.
I agree with Tigermoth that most of us pilgrims here at SST would not last a femtosecond in Toner’s job. I guess we are just not intellectual enough.
Colonel, thank God you are writing these short plain rebuffs to the bullshit being fed us. Their length is about all those I forward them to can take–because the recipients have short attention spans and even less history under their belts or desire to know it–but they are valuable interventions I add to the recipients’ day. Yeah, I stick it to them. I only get away with it because you are a military man with a stellar record they can verify, and not some “fucking Lib” as one constantly accuses me of being for not agreeing with his Interpretations of FOX minute-30-quick-and-dirty mindless pronouncements.
Colonel, this waaay OT the topic at hand–so if unsuitable to publish here, fine–but I thought you might be interested in Stephen Cohen’s regular Tuesday broadcast this week on the John Batchelor Show (WABC-RADIO AM NYC). Batchelor’s show has a massive audience. Cohen is discussing NATO and Russia after Brussels. I snorted when I heard his characterization of Breedlove, which matches your own.
You have to scroll down to “Nato and Russia After the Brussels Attack” with Stephen Cohen. It will stream live, or there is some mechanism for download but I find the whole thing byzantine on this site.
Yes a noticeable change, even on BBC it is now the Syrian Government forces,
The last outrage in Brussel after Paris November, may be turning the tide, albeit on a limited scale. French and Uk politics of regime change are still not to be questionned.
Associated to these some awakening to reality on the ground, and slow U-turn, I have the impression of a certain about of collaboration, or more exactly tasks repartition between US and Russia. US in Irak and Russia in Syria.
There enter the very different Kurds parts and IMO there are not close to make a unified Kurdistan. That whould be some relief for the failed Sultan on his shaky throne.
The sporting competition between US and Russia is somewhere unequal considering that the Irak state and army can not compare with the resilient Syrian leadership and winning SAA (and allies).
Is there still a plan to destabilize Northern Lebanon? Daesh seems to be pusching in Al Nostra territory in Daraa.
In the same vein: The Tale of the Frog and the Scorpion.
“The fable of the scorpion that persuades a frog to carry it across the river, then stings it, drowning both. Russia, having rescued Mr. Assad with its air force, is the frog. Now it is swimming for a political settlement to the Syrian war, hoping to cement its renewed status as a global power — but given Mr. Assad’s history, he may very well sink the negotiations and explain, as several diplomats put it, that making deals is not in his nature.”
humm, not sure that will comfort you, but it’s the same here in Europe.
Not purely an American disease.
Col., the muffled zone isn’t just Syria. Its also everything that is happening in Iraq. We have a major troop escalation occurring and casualties are sure to follow. The problem I have is that if the country is sending troops to war, it should be in the public view. We risk a divergence where the professional soldiers are at war and the country is at the mall. Again. Put another way if a war isn’t worth discussing, it isn’t worth fighting. I personally think the American public is wildly underestimated by the borg. If the situation in Iraq and Syria were explained to them perhaps in a serious policy speech, then I think they would rise to the occasion and perhaps we wouldn’t find ourselves with such a contorted foreign policy situation.
I have heard that fable told by Middle Easterners for 40 years. It usually involves a turtle and a scorpion and is cited by Arabs as proof of their own nuttiness. I don’t agree with any of your analysis. IMO the Russians have done very well and are in no need of rescue by anyone, certainly not us with our phony allies in Iraq and our phony “offensive” toward Mosul. if the Iraqi government ever gets there it will be because Russian air bled IS to death by reducing their oil income, something we never did. As for Assad’s character, you don’t know enough Middle Eastern people to make a judgement as to his character relative to the other scumbag ME politicians. And furthermore, our brethren in Christ will be free to live as Christians always have in republican Syria. That is why they are fighting on the side of the government. pl
The Muffled Zone is in the US and apparently in Europe as well. pl
Seamus is correct. Many Canadian companies (particularly, mineral companies) have in the past curtailed their desired investment in Cuba due to the American threat of punishment.
It’s a real and continuing pernicious extraterritorial enforcement of United States “law”. Canada, officially, considers any attempt by the US to enforce the Helms-Burton law on a Canadian company to be a legal nullity.
The act is an affront to Cuban sovereignty. If Obama wants to signal better relations with Cuba, he should issue an executive order curtailing enforcement of the act to some legal minimum, or, better, try to get congress to repeal it.
I doubt that such an executive Order would be legal and you have missed the fact that he has appealed to Congress to repeal it? Hey, get real. I buy thyroid medicine for my dog from Canadian on-line pharmacies that fill the orders from factories in India, Singapore and China. The pills are mailed to me through US Customs as dietary supplements. you can buy just about any kind of prescription drugs that way. The US sanctions are ridiculously full of holes. If you want to get around them, you can. Hey, I was an international business man for 10 years. You can’t BS me on how international trade works sanctions or no sanctions. BTW, why are Cubans still driving all those 50s US cars around? They could have bought nice little Ladas or those Czech things in the good old days before the Warsaw Pact collapsed. pl
My local paper (Honolulu Star-Advertiser) carried a rather prominently-placed NYT article by Anne Barnard on it under the head “Government forces advance into Palmyra”. Actually some the most extensive reporting I’ve seen on it, other than just repeating what USG mouthpieces have said.
If the Syrians have re-taken the Citadel at Palmyra- with obvious Russian help- how can Jack Jacobs claim that their intervention has been to no avail? The Russians have helped the Syrians turn things around..can’t he see that? It really cuts his credibility
“a rather prominently-placed NYT article by Anne Barnard on it under the head “Government forces advance into Palmyra.”” Interesting. I searched the NYT archive and did not find it. pl
This could be an interesting addition to the discussion on if Obama even controls his own government.
apologies if this is a double post. computer froze and not sure if it cleared or got sent.
When the SAA takes Raqqa the US will take the credit, claim a glorious victory and declare it is time for Assad to step aside and Russia to go home. There is nothing new under the sun.
I also read this on the NYTimes:http://tinyurl.com/zd9do2u
The Times is my homepage mainly to know what to be suspicious of and to know what they are not covering. Sometimes they do get it.
You are all correct. At the time the sanctions were put in place they were unusual and odious. Now they are just more run of the mill US imposing it’s laws on all countries of the earth usually at the behest of Israel. So are no longer unusual just odious. The more of it the US does the more appealing the Riminbi looks to other countries.
I think many would not even hear it since they have their ears muffled against such challenges. Those who take an interest can find it, but many do not have the time to search, since life is so harried and health-care issues so demanding.
correction or addition: http://tinyurl.com/hzom5nw The Palmyra piece.
But Canada is not a sovereign state; she is a protectorate of US.
I don’t think you need any Borgists to destroy an information base. Americans have plenty of information available if they chose to access it it – which they don’t.
I personally can testify, about this illegal extraterritoriality application of U.S.G. sanctions, in the 2012 Iranian case preventing supplies of Ambisome being imported to treat infections in immunosuppressed patients, one of them being in my own family. As a way to return the favor, I actually attempted (to date without any success) to spread the information for creation of an alternative that can be self-manufactured in local hospital pharmacy by mixing (stir & shake) Ampho-B with Intralipid. Cost of latter 10$ per injection and cost of former hundreds of $. Obviously there is not 100% bio-equivalence but the price is worth it in my opinion.
I wish I had the faith in the American people you do. All of the information is now open sourced and lots of people know the truth, just read the comment section of any paper to see the truth of that. But Americans still cling to their their “America right or wrong” mentality. People still line up around the block to see politicians talk about how they are going to out do the next guy/woman in committing genocide. The top trait Americans still look for in a leader is a willingness to kill people or how they will protect their right to kill people. The economy barely even registers any more. Fear has won entirely.
As for the Borg coming clean? Think of all the people that would have to go to jail if that ever happened.
I would say there are about as many Ladas around as the old US cars, maybe more.
The Ladas and their owners get no respect, or many pictures taken.
Also most of the real nice old American cars are owned by the Cuban Gov. who hires drivers for them and are used as taxis for tourists.
All the cars used and owned by regular cubans, are mishmashes of usually some kind of diesel engine and any other parts available.
Pollution control does not exist.
PS I’m not sure in the long run Americans will be that interested in Cuba for a tourist destination. I think American tourists will demand higher standards.
Democracy is where the people look at the record of what their government has and hasn’t done and decides if there is some one better who can do the job. If the record the people are looking at is a complete fabrication then no democracy can actually exist. That is what scares me the most about this.
Same in Britain. There’s an article today finally in the Guardian, which relies heavily on SOHR, otherwise known as the draper in Coventry.
You’d almost think that they (or SOHR) want ISIS to win, such do they play down the government army’s successes. It’s a kind of schizophrenia. They have serious trouble in deciding who’s the real enemy. ISIS or the enemy they’ve always wanted to oppose, Asad.
You mean the great allies in fellow socialists in the Republic of Venezuela can’t sell them paper? Maybe both countries need another revolution.
Farmer Don. it will be a different place when US money gets through with it. pl
You are right. Americans deserve no better than what they have now. how is Italy? pl
Who said that it’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his income depends on his not understanding it?
Syrian Perspective always gives a very pro Syrian government view, for those tired of the Borgist version.
At the end there’s a photo of the heads lost by a couple of the ISIS headchoppers. It seems that the Desert Falcons don’t take prisoners.
I watched the youtube of that session and winced as Toner periodically went silent while he struggled to formulate a response that wouldn’t say straight out that State preferred Da’esh to the Syrian Government.
It would have been funny if it weren’t so serious. State’s anti-Assad vendetta appears to be a major determinant of their response to events as they unfold on the ground. Such thinking is not conducive to strategic analysis and consideration of long-term solutions.
Mr Toner is paid to smilingly eat sh*t sandwiches in public on behalf of his employer, the State Department, and that’s exactly what he was doing.
Yes, just like the Iran-Iraq War, during that NATO Economic War, Iranians were pushed too far.
And just like the Iran-Iraq War, we will witness the consequences in the coming years and decades.
I wish to ask wether I am alone in speculating that the recent Kurdish “autonomy declaration” was just an indirectly American ordered Kurdish exercize in pretending to not be allied with Russia, and in pretending to not have a de facto non Agression pact with the SAA.
I would not be surprised if some elements in the uniformed US military, or in the intelligence services, have absolutly no problem backing the Kurds even if the Kurds are allied with Russia, but need to CYA (cover your rear ends) regarding the politiced “leaders”, lest the latter veto cooperating directly with the Kurds and indirectly with the Russians.
And the Kurds basically throwing a pretty meaningless hissy fit, with many “wink wink nudge nudge” elements towards the Russians and the loyalists (real actions against SAA were down by Kurdish “interior police”, not by YPG/YPJ units that would normally interact with SAA or SAA-aligned militias), could actually serve the greater good by allowing the sane parts of the US leadership some respite from the fully cathedralized Borgist “any friend of Russia must be our foe” parts.
To paraphrase Sun Tsu, if you are actually allied, it can be quite beneficial to display public disagreements.
With respect, Col. Lang, while it may, indeed, have been possible to work around sanctions to get Braille paper, it still appears to be the case that US sanctions regimes, especially as enforced out of OFAC in Dept of Treasury, and also in forms of “law fare” — economic war carried out by manipulating the legal system — have brought numerous, large international firms to heel. Robert Morgenthau used his lengthy tenure as prosecutor in NYC to win — or extort– very large settlements from banks and other corporations for the crime of doing business with Iran, or Venezuela, or Argentina.
Phil Giraldi reviewed a few of the cases that were prosecuted through New York courts that inevitably produce judgments in favor of US. http://www.unz.com/article/justice-is-blind/
Dan Joyner practices and teaches international law. He has posted several articles on EU courts and their concerns about US-imposed sanctions regimes http://armscontrollaw.com/2013/12/04/the-european-court-of-justice-weighs-in-on-eu-sanctions-on-iranian-businesses/
Another case against Iran is in the bull pen http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/25/world/middleeast/us-indicts-iranians-in-cyberattacks-on-banks-and-a-dam.html?_r=0
Speaking of our phony allies in Iraq and their “offensive” toward Mosul, it doesn’t appear to be going so well according to The Daily Beast:
Speaking of “muffled zones”, maybe this is another one? Insofar that His Excellency Abdullah II supposedly had a pillow put on top of the “South Front’s” head last year, didn’t he?
“The king also highlighted that British forces had helped in building up a mechanised battalion in southern Syria, headed by a local commander and made up of tribal fighters, to combat Bashar al-Assad’s army, and that his troops were ready with Britain and Kenya to go “over the border” to attack al-Shabaab in Somalia.”
Regarding this “mechanized battalion”, does His Highness refer to the cancelled South Front operation there, perchance? That would certainly be the saner interpretation, all things told. Or does he truly still think throwing more weapons at the insurgents will provide any worthwhile progress at this point, with the Russians in play in the country?
What is (supposedly) quoted from his Royal Highness is kind of all over the place, and whoever was supposed to edit the article did a shoddy job of it. The Graun-piece has a couple other tid-bits, however:
“A leaked memo indicates the US lawmakers were personally briefed by King Abdullah in January about plans for Jordan’s special forces to operate in the country alongside the British.
According to the notes of the meeting in the week of 11 January, seen by the Guardian, King Abdullah confirmed his country’s own special forces “will be imbedded [sic] with British SAS” in Libya.
According to the memo, the monarch met with US congressional leaders – including John McCain, the chairman of the Senate armed services committee, and Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee. Also present was the House of Representatives speaker, Paul Ryan.
King Abdullah said UK special forces needed his soldiers’ assistance when operating on the ground in north Africa, explaining “Jordanian slang is similar to Libyan slang”.”
Is this last one a factual statement, even? Or is someone beyond delusional here, either the King hisself or whoever is disseminating this “briefing note”? It does appear somewhat convenient that McCain’s name is dropped, among others.
I notice the WaPo used “Syrian government” rather than the obligatory “Assad regime”. That suggests the moderate head-choppers have been thrown under the bus.
With regards to the inability of the MSM to report counter-narrative news – the phenomenon seems to to be increasingly blatant.
As a kid I watched the BBC reporting of the end of the Vietnam War and there was no attempt to downplay it or sugar coat it. Brian Barron’s was usually the 1st item on the main bulletin, footage of the helicopters leaving the US embassy and NVA tanks rolling up to the Presidential Palace was shown.
Ditto the fall of the Shah of Iran. Even the first Gulf War and early stages of the Yugoslav wars were reported somewhat objectively.
I think the financial collapse of 2008 was a very important factor. People who feel fundamentally vulnerable are less likely to tolerate objective reporting.
In the British MSM today I can think of only a couple of sceptical voices – Robert Fisk (who writes for a paper that is on life-support) and Peter Hitchens.
It’s actually quite illuminating to compare articles on Syria in (say) The Guardian to the original wire service reports (there is no original reporting on Syria). Reuters or AP will, for example, mention Russian bombing of IS positions in Deir es Zour – that will be cut. Similarly, mentions of Al Nusra being an Al Qaeda affiliate will be cut. The pruning of counter-narrative elements is systematic and very revealing of their agenda.
Its been my experience that in the US, in the current era, there are three levels of borg news distortion. The first is what you rightly call the muffled zone. The second is active disinformation disguised as expert opinion. The third is contrived diversion in order to divide.
The muffled zone is perhaps most effective and can be seen today in discussion of Syria, IS and Turkish policy, matters of Israel, Saudi Arabia and perhaps US re-involvement in Iraq. In Western Europe it is to mention radical Islam by name. In Russia it is to mention political corruption.
Active disinformation is less used now in the US than it was say 10 years ago. One case in point, I was active in getting body armor universally issued along with armed vehicles. It was very important to be brutally calm in discussing these matters, but to get the word out because the lack thereof was being swept under the rug and the American public was going to have none of that once the facts were laid out. But Rumsfeld and friends were in active denial and disinformation on this issue especially in 04. One night I was invited to debate on Scarborough Country on the DoD acceptance of what we found out was about a quarter million pieces of defective armor (fraudulently tested). A retired colonel was brought in to debated me as an objective military expert. About fifteen minutes before going on air I got a call from a friend telling me that the Pentagon had given out talking points to this guy. Sure enough the guy stayed right on script and then added the usual implied statement that gold star families are distraught and not military experts or informed. Now among gold star families it has been a running joke over the decade that whenever someone says this, it is a set up to discredit. And you will see this approach used against Bacevich, Brostrom, Tillman and others. Anyway about six months later it was revealed that the Pentagon was hiring and paying retired senior officers to shill for them on the sly and major news organization like MSNBC, Fox, CNN and so on were actively complicit in misrepresenting their status as paid talking heads. I can’t help but think with active lobbying groups in DC hired by ME countries this practice continues but in with new topics, Syrian and Yemeni policies being a few of them.
And then there is the diversion to divide approach. This is what we are seeing so actively now on the news where major networks spend endless hours talking about a candidates penis size and contrived discussions about planned parenthood and so on. The wedge issues are well known and used by both parties to keep the American public divided and distracted from real issues that might require political courage and action.
I fear a combination of muffling and diversion is going to let the US walk back into Iraq without public awareness to the detriment of service men being put into combat without public support.
No, no, no. The Barnard piece makes it sound like Russia has done next to nothing except to aid Assad. The second reference is to Reuters. The Times is completely in the pocket of the Pentagon.
And the article I referred to about substituting poorly enriched uranium for highly enriched uranium in Navy fuel, although it appears to challenge the Pentagon, appears in the Times for just one reason. The Times does not like the idea of a bomb going off down the block from its offices. All politics are local.
I disagree. How many hits does SST get? How many people watch Fox news?
For people who found articles printed on Palmyra, granted, there isn’t a 100% lockout of the story but posting a story once on Reuters or having the NYT re-post a Reuters story once is practically the same thing.
I remember the fall of Palmyra in 2015 and it was given a lot more coverage then. I even recall a snarky accusation that Assad had intentionally evacuated Palmyra because he was was not interested in fighting ISIS, this was a lie of course. Assad was handling a full throttle offensive from the Unicorns at the time so he had to choose how to divvy up his resources and the SAA did defend it for at least 10 or 15 days.
In any case, the re-capture of Palmyra is certainly not being given the prominence it deserves and I haven’t heard any reference on cable TV but I have heard about us ‘killing the #2 man’ at least 20 times by now.
Will this sad situation ever change in the MSM? I don’t know but if it was it will probably be sudden and unexpected like the rise of FOX news or Donald Trump was. If it ever does happen it will be because someone will say something that publicly contradicts the Borg and the facts on the ground will be so obvious that people will respond to it. I can always hope.
The truth of that statement depends on whether Americans are victims. I personally believe that the vast majority are. I realize that to say that the population of the richest, most privileged nation on earth are victims may sound ridiculous. Perhaps it is. But the people who want to deceive Americans are both in power and have decades of experience. Maybe the more privileged you are, the easier you are to deceive.
Ambisome could also be obtained on the black market, it just costed 10x more, but not by everyone as the supply is limited at the end of the day. Nothing is for free on this world. I guess same counts for Braille paper.
Mankind has been at this war thing for thousands of years and undoubtedly lying about it for thousands of years. It takes some getting used to. Here’s a big battle from 3200 years ago.
There’s history in them there legends. Could it be ….
have always wondered who the Vanir were. Baltic people have a scary toughness to them which I thought might be a Vanir legacy.
don’t know if I appended previous message to appropriate post. it applies to Bill Herschel’s link to the big Bronze Age battle.
Thanks for this. It makes me wonder if there is such a thing as “PR airstrikes”. Here’s why I ask; this battle is getting MSM attention and it is not a US coalition operation and it is giving the Syrian Arab Army and the Russian air forces some good positive PR in the west. So what happens the US comes in and drops some bombs and then flies away and takes some credit for being a part of the operation in a big PR spin.
After reading the article it would appear that the US strikes were adhoc and not part of the battle planning. Were they just a PR exercise?
“A U.S.-led coalition, which is conducting air strikes in Syria and Iraq against IS, said it hit IS targets near Palmyra on Wednesday.
This was the first coalition strike in the Palmyra area since March 4, around the time Syria began an offensive to take back Palmyra.
Before that there were two strikes at the end of January.”…
…”There is no U.S. military or Coalition cooperation with either the Assad government nor the Russians.”
If you’re interested in Baltic peoples and history, especially the puzzles and clues of etymology, you might enjoy this small collection of essays by the Keeper of the National Archives of Iceland:
The Origin of the Icelanders by Barthi Guthmundsson
If you enlarge the map on the dust jacket shown in the link, you get the gist of his theory: that the tribe of Heruli migrated from the mouth of the Vistula about 200 AD and eventually ended up settling in Iceland several centuries later after much wandering.
His meticulous analysis of personal names, place names, and cultural traits is a joy to follow, if you are fascinated with how ideas and images from the long-ago past leave their imprint (most often unrecognized as such)in our modern world.
Hopefully DNA testing will some day soon prove or disprove his theory. Either way, the exercise of following Barthi’s chain of evidence and reasoning is well worth the read.
concerning the fist link. Phillips–who left an entry on German Wikipedia, but it seems none in the English version–has an interesting CV.
I can’t find the MSNBC item with Medal of Honor recipient Col Jack Jacobs. But would be curious concerning the official US military perspective. Not least since quite a while back I watched a member of the military over here on TV who was quite close to Pat/SST’s position.
MRW, I wouldn’t find it so easy to put you into that “box”. 😉
Upton Sinclair said it.
MRW, not quite way of OT, since Pat alluded to the media hype post Brussels.
But over here it does not show up yet as podcast under your link. I checked another link
And yes here it is:
Pat, I understand Margret’s intention as possibly tongue in cheek.
In any case I gave up after a while.
Are you using the print edition? Or are you alluding to this one from March 24?
Identical article changed headline?
Government forces advance into Palmyra
Syrian Forces and ISIS Clash at Edge of Palmyra
Thank you. His insight remains very relevant.
Here’s an interesting site, Old European Culture which discussed that battle some time ago.
(Sorry, my internet access is too slow today to find the exact article.)
As far as I recall, it appeared to have been a battle for control over an early trade route, distributing metal if not amber.
He had another article discussing fighting sticks or cudgels, very like those shown in the photograph, and as continued in use in Ireland until recently.
Most of his articles are about linguistic and cultural similarities between Celts and Slavs. He calls himself Serbian-Irish.
Here’s a non-Borgist American news site, 21st Century Wire.
They appreciate the source of the problem.
PR airstrikes? Recall what happened when the Russians exposed the American failure to bomb the immense line of oil trucks stretching right over the horizon. The American response was to drop leaflets on them telling the drivers to abandon the vehicles, and then to make a single attack which destroyed a few trucks. Compare this with the Russian attacks which apparently destroyed about 2,900 trucks out of an estimated 12,000. I wonder whether the rest are still operating.
“In any case I gave up after a while.” What did you give up? pl
Well, Let’s see if this can be ignored. Palmyra is liberated.
Here’s Israel Shamir’s views on the Russian drawdown in Syria, that it showed the Syrian generals they can’t wait for the Russians and Iranians and Hezbollah to do it all for them, and they need to accept some political accommodation with their enemies.
It looks as if Putin is treating the Syrians rather as he did the Donbass rebels in Ukraine. He gave enough help to prevent them from being defeated, but not enough to decisively overthrow their enemies. He insisted on a diplomatic agreement, which even if not sincerely implemented by the opponents of his clients, stabilises the situation and takes a lot of the heat out of it. Also he shows that he retains the ability to make another effective intervention if necessary.
Gave up to finish reading Anne Barnard’s NYT article, Margret linked to above … Something inside me revolted heavily. Maybe it’s the “anecdotal lead” followed by passage after passage of suspension till she tells you who she alluded to at the start. I read only a few paragraphs further.
Russia is being destroyed by Assad? or maybe, loosing their naval base?
You all seem to be thinking of a rather different version of the folk tale. One where the frog watches (in horror?) while the scorpion stings somebody else.
Thanks for the link! My observations and research indicate to me that the president of the US does not control the whole government of the US. Nor does any country’s ruler completely control things as there are always multiple factions within and outside of gov’t (big money people) that have power and influence that have to be considered.
Here is a quote I saved from one of George Friedman’s article a few years ago (founder and formerly of STRATFOR):
“The power often ascribed to the U.S. presidency is overblown. But even so, people — including leaders — all over the world still take that power very seriously. They want to believe that someone is in control of what is happening. The thought that no one can control something as vast and complex as a country or the world is a frightening thought. Conspiracy theories offer this comfort, too, since they assume that while evil may govern the world, at least the world is governed.”
I have come across numerous articles that talk about senior gov’t officials lying to or otherwise deceiving presidents to push their own agendas. Obama himself pretty much implies that he’s not fully in charge in his segment of Comedians in Cars getting coffee. Paraphrasing a bit… he compared his job to playing football and how when you are looking to get something done when all these forces are coming at you, you look for the opening. http://comediansincarsgettingcoffee.com/president-barack-obama-just-tell-him-you-re-the-president
However, due to Obama’s woeful lack of experience in managing powerful people/organizations prior to getting elected, I think he has been weaker than many of presidents in terms of infighting and dealing with the turf wars at the highest rungs of governance.
The CIA in particular often seems to be a law unto itself. In addition to the many books on this topic, there is the tiff between Sen. Diane Feinstein and the CIA on torture and over the CIA spying on congress is just one of many instances that showcase their power http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/06/22/the-inside-war
Trey N, THANK YOU for the pointer to the book and for your next to last paragraph.
My God! All should watch this as the State Department says first that Syria should not liberate Palmyra and then says that perhaps the “Regime” is the lesser of two evils. I am speechless, literally speechless. With fury.
Sounds like college tuition. But these days everything sounds like college tuition to me.
Me neither. lol.
Thanks LeaNder. I find that site a maze sometimes. Did you enjoy the interview?
“You have free speech in America as long as you’re not stupid enough to actually try and use it.”
The US has been a muffled zone for a while in regards to issues domestic and foreign. Refuse to bake a gay couple a wedding cake and let me know how it works out for you. You can talk about “white privilege” all day but mention black criminality or quote Watson about DNA and IQ and you might be out of a job.
Basically the Borg impulse to live in their own little reality made out of spun sugar is projected internally and externally. Its why its so fuggin LAWL to see the people who rail against the FP side of things try to pretend that domestically things are different, and invent elaborate theories designed to pretend that President Gay Urkel isn’t an enabler of all these things.
Diversity + Proximity = War. Better hope Trump Caesar makes America great again. The DEPORTATION FORCE will save America from the fate of Yugoslavia.
You do have a point but….President’s other title is Commander In Chief. Obviously any administration is filled with different institutional and personal interests and egos, sometimes huge ones and often diametrically opposite in their views. But in the end, it is up to a person, human, to control what is the most important element in any state–national security and foreign policy. While there is no denial of the factor of competing interests in these fields, you made a perfect point in this and it explains 99% of it, I quote you:
“However, due to Obama’s woeful lack of experience in managing powerful people/organizations prior to getting elected, I think he has been weaker than many of presidents in terms of infighting and dealing with the turf wars at the highest rungs of governance”
I do, however, have one small remark on that–Obama is just the weaker one in the whole line of US Presidents who, by definition of US “elites” preparatory mills (Ivy League, law firms, humanities “educated” etc.) MO, are detached from serious national security and foreign policy issues. Neither Clinton, nor W, nor Obama had any grasp of, as one example of many other failures, application of military force and what it entails. We know the results, don’t we? The problem is systemic–the system is absolutely not capable to produce statesman. It is, however, is very efficient in producing politicians, which today could defined as crooks and specialists in winning all kinds of elections.
“humanities “educated?” in the days when the US really functioned well, the elites were, in the main, “humanities educated,” (literature, history, philosophy, languages, etc) That is no longer true in the present era of dystopian dissolution. For some time now the kind of elites who rule us are “educated” in the world of the pseudo social sciences. pl
“Hatred, suspicion, and dislike is abroad in the world, sowing seeds already of another and more destructive war. The French, of course, like no one but themselves. Needless to say, they hate the Germans; they are jealous of Italians who are growing rapidly in size and power; they fear and hate the Russians, who have spread communist propaganda through their country; they are; and have always been, the enemies of the English; and they dislike us, because we are rich, prosperous, because they owe us money which we are asking them to pay. Of course, we are paying the penalty of being too prosperous in a world impoverished by an idiot and ruinous war. Very few people like us, and very few would be sorry to see misfortune fall upon us.
I sometimes grow impatient with America for being a damn fool sentimentalist:-our money goes for hospitals, libraries, reconstruction work over here, and we are repaid with insults and mockery. We are accused of having entered the war to make more money, of having come in at the end to save our faces and our hides, of having sent Wilson, who is pointed to as a fool and a scoundrel who made a peace that has ruined them. Of course, poor Wilson had very little to do with it: the peace that was made, and for which they are now paying, was the work of the rouges who ran their governments at the time.”
From a letter of Thomas Wolfe to his mother
April 14 1925
I saw the report of “Syrian forces liberating Palmyra with Russian support” during Meet the Press today. So it is out there in the “mainstream media.”
You are very welcome!
I have degrees in history and English, so this kind of book was especially appealing to me. Researching my family history is my big passion in life, and it never ceases to surprise me how many traits/habits/attitudes/practices can be traced up the generations of different branches of the family tree. I was fortunate enough to be able to interview several aunts, uncles and cousins born in the 1890s who were able to tell me about ancestors born in the early 1800s. Their stories put a lot of “meat on the bones” — before 1800 most of my ancestors are only names and dates on paper, with a few notable exceptions where personality still emerges from the old records.
Like the plumber’s adage about water (and other stuff) running downhill, it’s always interesting — and sometimes a relief! — to see how the present “you” was shaped by the people and events that eventually created “you”….
With the pervasive oligarchy money spread through out our economy & comity now might be a good time to reread Mr Sinclair’s book The Concrete Jungle.
Paul, yes this was so colossal an event that in the end it had to be mentioned. pl
With all my deep respect to people with humanities education (history is a separate subject here–in the end many neocons came from namely this background) and agreeing with you on the issue of pseudo-political science (we may add here Journalism, which is nothing more than glorified English language degree)–without background in serious military-political issues no competent steering of the state is to be expected. Strangely, the good case in point is late USSR and Russia of 1990s. As per post-WW II US Presidents, in my humble opinion, many of them are not in the same league as Ike. Not even close, despite many things which could be debated about Ike’s presidency.
Name me a senior neocon/neo-liberal with an undergraduate education in the Humanities. BTW, History is one of the Humanities. pl
Same here w/disappearing comments. Quit reading him.
Robert Kagan. I know that history is humanities.
I’ll give you that one. pl
In that reuters story they are giving a figure of 400 ISIS fighters being killed at the expense of 180 SAA and coalition fighters. If these numbers are accurate it seems like an expensive ratio and I wonder if it means that the SAA has some things to learn about confronting ISIS in the larger cities.
Air strikes alone reportedly killed 100 ISIS fighters in the last day of operations, so the soldier to soldier kill ratio might actually have been in ISIS’s favor. The previous big SAA victory over ISIS was at Kuweires which was in a more open area so this may have been the most urban type offensive battle fought against ISIS to date. In any case, I wish the SAA well as they look to be going on the attack against ISIS in Qaryatayn.
One of the main operatives in instigating color revolutions, current US Ambassador to Moscow (former Amb. to Ukraine), John Tefft is historian by education.
It’s a popular mocking toast in Russia. With snake (female word) and turtle (female word). Punchline: “So let’s drink to women’s solidarity”
Just remembered. No real relevance to your point.
So, you are going to search for every example you can find? You are a tiresome man. you are merely being spiteful. you know that I am correct in the vast majority of cases. I am old and have not the time to bother with crap like that. You are banned. pl
I do not share your opinion in the edifying effects of a major in History. Many of the texts that I have read from American, English, French, German, and Russian sources are a triumphant accounting of the progress of mankind from low savagery to industrial high civilization. And the dead, the maimed, the raped are just so many “oops” moments in this progressive narrative.
The books are written as propaganda for the Cult of Progress.
The man writes a book on the War between States and gives it the title: “Battle Cry of Freedom” and with these choice of words reveal his own orientation as a historian.
On the other hand, when I study the destruction of Constantinople by the Crusaders, or the massacres of the cities on the Iranian plateau by Mongols I fail to find anything in those events that could even be remotely construed to somehow having contributed to the sum total of human knowledge, well-being, and progress.
Likewise for Shoah, the Warring States Period in China, the Aztec Empire etc.
Westerners often gloss over the senseless brutality and carnage of history to “Justify” – in the religious sense – their own narrative of “March of Progress”.
And if one is taught this type of historical writing in school, one is very likely to conclude that non-Diocletian countries are in a sorry state of benighted ignorance and must be introduced to the benefits of superior civilization which has been achieved in the West.
That only would reinforce what others may have imbibed from Political Science Theory and the mixture is, I should think, even more heady, more seductive, and ultimately more destructive.
I am not denying historical progress in the instrumentalities of human progress, only that such achievements in no way can be construed as the essence of History.
I think you understand the value of a broad based liberal arts education. pl
I do, but I also believe – again very likely a minority of one on this – that only few human beings can benefit from such an education. And such people are born that way and are not made.
I don’t think I can all-the-way quit, but I can certainly limit my checking-in over there to once or twice a month . . . so I continue reading the good stuff if any . . . and don’t give his site the click-counts I was giving it before I apparently became banned-without-warning over there.
I can imagine a certain special kind of American tourist who might become devoted to Cuba. That would be old car enthusiasts of whom America contains several million. I think they would forgive the patched-togetherness-from-transplanted-parts nature of the Classic old American cars in Cuba if they still looked like the Classic old cars they used to be. If Cuba-America relations regularize to the point where mass tourism becomes possible, the Cuban tourism board might want to invite Jay Leno on a special private trip to see the Old Cars of Cuba. If Leno became enthusiastic enough to feature the Old Cars of Cuba on his “Jay Leno’s Garage” program, Cuba might become a pilgrimage destination for Jay Leno’s fan base.
I can think of a more speculative source of tourists. Some years ago individuals of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker were strongly believed to have been seen in eastern Cuba. If that was true then, and if they remain barely alive there today, and if ways can be found to increase their population; many American ( and other) birders would do pilgrimage to Cuba to see the Ivory Billed Woodpecker.
Here is Ash Carter’s amusing response to J. McCain re ISIS oil truck bombing (Only time McCain has been useful)
and as a bonus, here is the Saudi Arabian UN ambassador explaining why democracy is good for Syrians but the Saudi people are happy with what they have.
Al Jazeera Presenter Corners Saudi Ambassador – “Why Support Democracy In Syria But Not Saudi Arabia?”
“you know that I am correct in the vast majority of cases.”
are you sure you are “correct in the vast majority of cases” educated AFTER mid-1980s? maybe early 90s? Arround that time history/humanities textbooks began to be heavily larded – make that margarined — with our cheap US knock-off of critical theory.
Muffled Zone — recently somebody pointed out that The Guardian had closed readers comments when too many readers expressed resistance to the correct message.
1. The racist hijacking of Microsoft’s chatbot shows how the internet teems with hate
2. Social media explosion powered by dirty energy, report warns
I’m a new and inexperienced but motivated consumer of news about insurgency in Syria and Iraq. Seeking details has led me to websites such as Sic Semper Tyrannis and Moon of Alabama. Both rely heavily on Southfront, which in turn relies heavily on sources and press releases of the Russian and Syrian governments. Nothing wrong with that, but those sources, like any other (including American) have an axe to grind. There is little to no independent, English language professional journalistic presence in the affected areas. Southfront is itself, I believe, based in Russia. The Russophiles who inhabit some of these blogs seem to take my cynicism as evidence of bias, but in fact I have in mind the U.S. model of news massaging which dominated Western coverage of the Vietnam War and which (it eventually became clear) was more propaganda than information. I don’t assume that the Russia-Syria-Iran axis is any less self-serving.
I notice a use of statistics by Russian sources that is reminiscent sometimes of American coverage of Vietnam. There is talk about square kilometers taken, without a discussion of which targets (other than some small towns and villages) have been taken, what is meant by “taken” (note that land often changes hands several times in such asymmetric warfare), or how the total land area is calculated (e.g., does control of a village, whether temporary or not, include just the geographic area of the village, or some arbitrary surrounding area?). There is talk about the number of targets struck by air attacks, without analysis of either the concrete specific nature of these targets or the enduring results.
I don’t doubt the effectiveness of elite front-line forces; but these forces are not left behind in the garrisons necessary to control the gained real-estate and to seal off multiple points of entry and exit, for insurgents and their supplies. There is abundant talk about cutting off insurgents’ supply lines but little acknowledgement that when dealing with small unit forces such as those characterizing the insurgency, the siege lines around cities and the attempts to control borders are generally porous. The same thing applies to talk about cauldron battles, as if the insurgency was a regular army instead of a collection of small unit forces which can infiltrate loose lines of containment.
Russia’s recent “withdrawal” seems as mysterious as it is superficial. It seems coincidental that it should have been announced so soon after a Mig-21 was shot down by what Russian media described as a rebel fielded MANPAD. The air assault nonetheless continues, but at a shifted local theater of operations (Palmyra).
Perhaps Jacobs is addressing long term trends rather than short term gains? I seem to recall an eight or nine year war in Iraq during the last decade, involving at its height some 200,000 coalition forces, against a similar opposition of former Baathists and Islamicists, in the same Sunni triangle of Iraq, with similar insurgent movements across the Syria-Iraq border. That was finally quashed with the help of (bribed, flattered, and coerced) Sunni tribal leaders in the Anbar Awakening, when they provided the local intelligence and light infantry skills needed to fight an insurgency of the sort on its own terms. How did that work out a few years later?
The fact is that unless regional demographics and political context changes, the same dynamic is likely to recur.
Any comment on this re mercenaries, Palmyra, etc.?
I looked you up on the net. Someone with this name seems to actually exist. If you are going to attempt to post comments here, do not ever post anything more than once. All comments are screened by me or by guest authors for acceptability and multiple postings just annoy me. You are clearly an ardent supporter of US policy wherever that leads. Your notion that Russia employs mercenaries to conduct its business in Syria is so ludicrous given the size and capabilities of Russian forces that I am not going to answer the point. If you want to find mercenaries employed in Arabia at present you should consider the use of mercenaries in Yemen by your Saudi friends. I do not know what your military background or experience might be but your assertion that the Syria civil war is an insurgency that is a matter of small guerrilla bands, operating by infiltration in such a way that they cannot be defeated by regular forces is just ignorant. As I have pointed out several times, the rebel forces of all kinds have chosen in Syria and Iraq to attempt to either become the rulers of states that have borders, population centers, airfields, oil production facilities or in the case of IS to create a new theocratic state based on the existing geography of Syria and Iraq. The decision on the part of the rebels to do this has committed them to the defense of terrain and the geography involved. The essence of guerrilla warfare is a refusal to stand and fight against regular forces because in the great majority of cases guerrillas who do that will be destroyed. The Russian intervention in Syria and the subsequent re-organization of Syrian forces and allied militias made it likely that any rebels who wanted to stand and fight would be defeated and probably attrited into oblivion and that is what has happened and is happening. The “model” of guerrilla forces steamrolling the Syrian government into surrender must have looked good until the Russian intervention, but what has happened is the re-appearance of effective conventional combat forces employed with skill against inferior rebel guerrillas still employed in static defenses and still committed to holding ground. This is bound to get them killed. The rest of your piece is what amounts to a personal attack on me as a fraud who relies on Russian propaganda for information. You, on the other hand seem to find US MSM and statements by the retired military hirelings of the MSM to be really, really reliable. You sound desperate to me. do you happen to know John McCain? As for Jacobs, you say he is taking the long view. What is the timeline that you have in mind? pl
Yes, true, makes you wonder on WHAT sources the MSM is basing their “news”, innit?
It should be clear that the MSM relies on the rebel press office in London plus press consultant briefing by the US government in Washington. Several years ago when at meeting I asked the ISW Syria analyst where he got his information. He became angry telling me that he “knew what he was doing.” he was a reserve officer in US Army intelligence so I think I knew the answer to my question before I asked it. pl
muffled in deed:
I got an answer to some of your questions, which look to me like they’re more than just that, but anyway here’s my take.
First of all, the statistics you’re referring to were published most of all by the “regime change” crowd in various Western capitals, in order to show how little the Russian intervention had managed to change on the ground and to forecast Putin getting a bloody nose in Syria.
The Russians have never advertised a lot about territorial gains, because they know it’s not about the territory but the people and the resources. Assad and regime sources have recently started advertising on their gains, because they are now in a position to reclaim miles and miles of desert, which is going to make them look more formidable on the negotiation table, however debatable it may be.
Regarding the preposterous piece you’re quoting, it was written by a buddy of the Daily Beast’s (in)famous Michael Weiss. Same guy who taunted the RuAf as “ISIS’ air force” a few months back … Personally, I wouldn’t go near any of what he and his friends write without a level 4 HAZMAT suit. Hope that helps you making up your mind. Have a great day !
Actually, no, the statistics I referred to as Russian, are in fact Russian:
Thx for clarifying what kind of “customer” you are. Of the two links you’re referring to, one is a Russian MoD document with strike statistics, sort of AAR, with barely anything said about territorial gains (just as I hinted out in my reply to you). The second is an RT piece dated March 14th 2016, i.e. after Putin announced the end of the operation. So it seems fair play at that point that they summarize the results of their intervention. This is, again, exactly what I stated in my reply.
On the other hand, I could come up with literaly hundreds of pieces written in the MSM telling us how little the Russians have achieved, based on percentage gains on the ground. I actually wrote a piece about it on SST (Fallacies of the percentage war). Maybe you should read it. More generally, don’t be ashamed of your opinions, just don’t pretend to be what you’re not.