51 neocons at State want another Iraq


 "More than 50 State Department officials signed an internal memo protesting U.S. policy in Syria, calling for targeted U.S. military strikes against the regime of Bashar al-Assad and urging regime change as the only way to defeat ISIS.

The cable says that U.S. policy in the Middle East has been "overwhelmed" by the continuing violence in Syria. It calls for a "judicious use of stand-off and air weapons, which would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed U.S.-led diplomatic process."
CNN reviewed a draft of the memo, which has since been classified. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the memo's existence"  CNN
Well, well.  These people have no idea what they are talking about.
1.  These are mostly Foreign Service Officers, chosen for a career in diplomacy by a written examination and an interview process that insures mirror imaging in educational background (mostly Ivy, Stanford or the like) and ideological coherence as a group.   the selection process is also very heavily burdened by a search for "diversity."  This is the very center of the Poly Sci/ IR  crowd.  Career Foreign Service Officers usually have no military background.  Neither do they generally have an interest in learning anything about a profession that they regard as "fun for the feeble minded."  Their attitude about military officers is that if you were smart like us FSOs you would be one of us.  It is an awkward thing for them that career military officers who reach the field grade ranks are generally possessed of more advanced degrees than the FSOs.
2.  The fabulous 51 are frustrated IMO by the unwillingness of the Syrian government to roll over and die to clear the way for what they think would appear to replace it.  They imagine this would be a coalition of the existing government (minus Assad and his associates) and its forces plus the FSA plus all the AQ related jihadi groups (Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, etc.) and that this coalition would destroy IS in Syria and then create a multi-confessional representative democracy.
3.  IMO all of this is a delusion.  IMO what would occur is that the Syrian government would not survive decapitation and would collapse as did the Iraqi government after we defeated their forces in our invasion.  People forget now that the Iraqi government had completely collapsed BEFORE the neocon faction in the GW Bush administration decreed a total abolition of that government and army.  At the very time that Bremer surrendered the process of debaathification to Ahmad Chalabi (an Iranian agent), the US ground combat commanders in Iraq at division level were engaged in trying to re-constitute parts of the Iraqi forces, government and police to help them re-establish order.  In a dramatic meeting Bremer told these generals that they would immediately cease and desist because the "day of the Sunnis has ended."  This statement of course ignored the many, many Shia Arabs employed by the Iraqi government in responsible jobs but the statement ably supported the neocon policy of enabling anti-Sunni groups across the region, whether they were religiously opposed or merely deracinated in the acculturation process fostered by institutions like the American University in Cairo.
I suppose we will now see how Obama reacts to this memo.  pl 


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113 Responses to 51 neocons at State want another Iraq

  1. b says:

    Obama will ignore those folks.
    But Kerry endorsed them calling the memo “important”. He might have had a hand in bringing it into the public. Looking at a VP position?
    To me this looks like a preparation for a Clinton war on Syria.
    – These folks want to be promoted in a Clinton administration.
    – Clinton wants to bomb asap and needs the public support this paper may help build.
    I am not so sure that the signers are pure neocons (Troskyist). Many are likely so called “humanitarian interventionists” (Wilsonians). But that does not matter much. The results of their endeavors are alike.
    Their worki in Iraq, Libya and Yemen has been so successful that a repeat in Syria seems inevitable to them.

  2. jld says:

    Of course it’s idiotic and it does not matter if and why they truly believe in the memo.
    What matters (IMHO) is whom “sponsored” the memo and for wich purpose, these sponsors probably don’t believe themselves a single word of it.

  3. JMH says:

    They give out awards for these cables. I think that’s what’s going on here. Although, it was painful to listen to mornin Joe shout down everyone at the table this morning who disagreed with the idea of going to war in Syria to create a safe area and corresponding no fly zone. Never mind that both Joe and the foolish 51 advocate a path that will bring us into military conflict with Russia in the skies over Syria, which would most likely escalate to nuclear war.

  4. FND says:

    These diplomats no longer have any loyalty or fear of the lame duck and are getting a jump on sucking up to the Hillary Presidency hoping for promotions.

  5. Ex-PFC Chuck says:

    Re: “This statement of course ignored the many, many Shia Arabs . . ” Did y our mean Sunni Arabs in this context?

  6. Edward says:

    I have to wonder how much the purging of the so-called “Arabists” from the state department in the 1990’s has to do with these anti-Syrian policies. These people don’t seem too upset by the disasters in Iraq and Libya.

  7. Mongoose says:

    After perusing news reports of this latest development and anticipating that you would undoubtedly cut through the verbal thicket that passes for deep thinking in our foreign policy circles, I was immediately reminded of the weekly satirical German magazine “Simpliccisimus” sans the satire; or perhaps it would be more accurate to state that these FSO neocons are unintentionally satirical minus the satire. Heavy sigh. The Peter Principle in overdrive except that they’ve all risen far above their own personal levels of incompetence. Only a God or the Gods can save us now (parody, satire, sarcasm alert–take your choice).

  8. Edward says:

    Also, Saudi Arabia is apparently bribing people right and left in Washington. Is this letter a product of bribery?

  9. mbrenner says:

    Let’s bear in mind 2 crucial facilitating factors. First, absentee management. Kerry is almost never in Washington and his senior deputies are not instructed to do it for him. This follows 4 years of Hillary’s non-management and recruitment of unqualified incompetents.
    Second, the gang of 50’s underlying conception of the situation is no different from that of the White House and of Kerry. The total failure of the President to correct it has created circumstances in which the call for lunatic actions flows directly and logically from the shared premises. This is not the first time that Obama has trapped himself in this manner: e.g. Iran; Russia; the budget sequester; austerity economics; etc.

  10. I’m sure it’s only a coincidence that this allegation that the Russians struck our ‘moderate’ rebels comes one day after the leaked memo.

  11. Reminds me of the 150 foreign policy ‘thinkers’ who signed the anti-Trump memo, when most had been vociferous supporters of the Iraq War

  12. ‘Career Foreign Service Officers usually have no military background.’
    How many of those dealing with the Middle East have a serious background as Arabists – knowledge of the language, history and civilisations of the Middle East, either acquired in the course of undergraduate or post-graduate study, or by ‘regional studies’ training in the Foreign Service? (And/or relevant education/experience relevant to an understanding of Iran?)
    How many of them have lived in the countries about which they write memoranda for any length of time?

  13. DC says:

    Hillary Clinton will appoint and hire more of these bozos at State, and throughout the federal government. The downward spiral continues; I must not be jaded yet, as I am saddened by it.

  14. SmoothieX12 says:

    > Neither do they generally have an interest in learning anything about a profession that they regard as “fun for the feeble minded.”
    Boy, I wish those “elite” people would take an exam on Operations’ Research or on physics behind, say, global positioning and its combat applications. But then again, even basic radar equations may get them into stupor;-) Forget about Fourier Transforms which are in the foundation of signal processing.

  15. Imagine says:

    Press releases are not done by accident. This smells like an inciting incident. The facts that allegedly “50 people signed” but we don’t know their names, and also “the document is kept secret”, point to a propaganda op by a disgruntled faction.
    Hopefully it is obvious that Iran and Syria have a mutual defense pact, and starting a war on Syria would trigger Iran’s involvement, which would then three moves later finally give excuse to have the treasured war on Iran that the Zionists so desperately want. If Russia gets involved, this could be a two-fer.
    Back in reality-land, the facts that Syria, Iran, and Russia are making headway against ISIS has nothing to do with the cover story.
    I am really, really tired of ZOGs initiating actions for the greater glory of Likud that are against the interests of the people of the United States of America.

  16. turcopolier says:

    David Habakkuk
    In the bad old days of the “Arabists,” the long gone Arabia Hands at least knew a lot about the land and the people. It seems to me that ideological purity and having the right “identity” counts more now. they think they are making a new world. Why know the old one? pl

  17. turcopolier says:

    IMO the bribery is above the level of these people. pl

  18. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think the idea here was to try to intimidate and frighten Russia – something like Nixon: “Henry, I want those Russians to think that there is a madman in the White House with his fingers on the button…”
    Essentially, they are trying to frighten Russia to forfeit her equities in the Levant; completely dismissing the strategic threat that ISIS, Al Nusra and others of that kind pose to the Russian Federation – both domestically and in her near-abroad.
    This reminds me of many times that I read in the Persian language papers, back in 2003-2006 period, some Iranian negotiator stating that Europeans are trying to frighten us so that we would commit suicide.
    At the end of every day, these signatories will go to their suburbs, never expecting to experience anything like Bataclan, or Orlando, or Belsen – that would always be other people’s problem to be watched during Evening News.

  19. turcopolier says:

    Do not most actual neocons have Trot ancestry either personally or spiritually? pl

  20. Babak Makkinejad says:

    In your estimation, will UK break rank with US on Syria? Any chance of that?

  21. Keith Harbaugh says:

    You wrote:

    At the very time that Bremer surrendered the process of debaathification to Ahmad Chalabi (an Iranian agent), the US ground combat commanders in Iraq at division level were engaged in trying to re-constitute parts of the Iraqi forces, government and police to help them re-establish order.
    In a dramatic meeting Bremer told these generals that they would immediately cease and desist because the “day of the Sunnis has ended.”

    Do you have a reference for that (not the Chalabi part, that is well-known, but the internals of the Coalition Provisional Authority),
    or is that inside information?

  22. Abu Sinan says:

    We had a meeting yesterday with the Yemen desk at the state department. In the meeting it seems they are well aware of what is going on, but there is such a large disconnect between the facts and the nonsense that Kerry continues to spew, that one wonders if they really do have a clue or do our leaders just disregard everything that is passed onto them in favour of political expediency?

  23. SmoothieX12 says:

    >Their worki in Iraq, Libya and Yemen has been so successful that a repeat in Syria seems inevitable to them.
    That is what makes these “elites” dangerous–a complete lack of understanding of application of the military force. Now, take peer-to-peer framework and that becomes completely beyond their grasp. They don’t read this blog or, at the very least, Douglas Macgregor. They literally, if left to own devices, can stumble into hot WW III, not because they are aggressive (which they are), but because their aggression is a direct result of their utter incompetence. In the end, Russia is somewhat, slightly more developed than Iraq, “produces nothing”(c) and will be an easy walkover. “Ike, where are you when we need you”(c) From Beavis and Butthead Do America.

  24. turcopolier says:

    Keith Harbaugh
    My business partner at the time was present in the room when this happened. He was in Iraq doing a due diligence enquiry for our business. He is a graduate of USMA and had been a major in the US Army. pl

  25. SmoothieX12 says:

    >these sponsors probably don’t believe themselves a single word of it.
    It is certainly possible, but it looks more and more that the only explanation which could be given to this whole unmitigated disaster that US foreign policy is–a sheer stupidity and ignorance of those who carry it out. I know, it is a frightening thought but the more I observe it, the more I have to arrive to this very unsettling conclusion. Add to this mix here an almost complete US ignorance on the issues of war and voila’.

  26. mbrenner says:

    I happen to be acquainted with a couple of people who work at State at that level and are involved with the Middle East. (No idea if they are signers). Three things are transparent: the dominant type is a careerist with no interest in the problems and no convictions; the second largest group are the agenda people – neo-cons and fellow travelers – who have disproportionate influence due to the former group’s diffidence; there is absolutely no intellectual direction or process discipline from the White House (Susan Rice’s incoherent NSC) or the top at State.
    Re. my earlier point about shared (disconnected from reality) premises: the same holds for 90% of the people in the think-thank universe and 100% in the MSM.

  27. different clue says:

    If enough people called/emailed/wrote the White House rejecting and condemning the “Memo of 51” . . . it might give the Inner Obama Administration the re-assurance needed to reject the “secret State Dept. Memo” advice.

  28. SmoothieX12 says:

    > my earlier point about shared (disconnected from reality) premises: the same holds for 90% of the people in the think-thank universe and 100% in the MSM.
    Exactly, but this is also a very high impact group–they form public opinion and influence decision making at the top. Or rather serve the decision making process.

  29. Babak Makkinejad,
    It is a question of timescales.
    For complex reasons, the new ‘consensus’ which emerged in the ‘Eighties and ‘Nineties among political élites here was ‘neoconservative’ as well as ‘neoliberal’.
    As such, it represented a marginalisation alike of ‘anti-imperialist’ left-wing traditions, and ‘imperialist’ traditions which were acutely aware both of the importance of ‘local knowledge’, and of the fact that the world is not a ‘tabula rasa’.
    However, the ‘neoconservative’ consensus in this country does not have very deep roots.
    The war in Iraq left deep scars: a visceral hatred of Blair is common both among many on the ‘right’ and many on the ‘left’.
    More recently, the impression which has been created that the powers that be here, in common with those in the United States, are not really serious about combating terrorism has awoken all kinds of suspicions among the a very substantial swathe of ‘Middle England’.
    Our ‘devil’s pact’ with the Saudis goes back a very long way. It has been premised upon the – in my mind dotty – confidence that one could discount the possibility that at some point, as it were, the devil would ‘collect’.
    As long as this was not happening, however, it could continue ‘under the radar’.
    Developments over the past few years mean that this is no longer so: the ‘devil’ is ‘collecting’. So suspicion about the relationships between élites here and in the United States and the Saudis and other Gulfies has been steadily extending itself.
    None of this necessarily causes immediate changes. And this is all the more so, because coherent leadership is lacking. (There is an almost complete absence of intellectual ‘weight’ in parliament, on all sides.)
    On the other hand, the kind of changes that are happening are not easily reversible.

  30. Colonel Lang,
    In 1932, the ‘Red-Brown alliance’ was instrumental in ousting the Social Democrats from power in Prussia.
    When I started looking at the roots of ‘neoconservatism’, I came across that dubiously reconstructed sometime self-proclaimed ‘fascist’ Leo Strauss, and the unrepentant ex- (but perhaps not really so ‘ex’) Trotskyist Irving Kristol.
    A new ‘Red-Brown alliance’, perhaps, making common cause with the heirs of the ‘Mayflower’ crowd.
    So many old enemies, all in one place.

  31. b says:

    It is not clear that current neocons are Trotskyists. Some of the 1960s neocons were from the Trotskyist left and turned hard right. But real Trotskyists would argue for a dissolution of the state over time while neocons want a strong central state that can act without restrain as its leaders want. Said differently: They are now fascist in their concept.

  32. turcopolier says:

    Ah, but perhaps the state must be retained in order to preserve Israel. pl

  33. b says:

    The Russian were certainly not impressed with that nonsense. They said something like: If foreign policy in the U.S. is now made by majority decisions of mere staffers will those staffer also bear all the consequences?

  34. turcopolier says:

    David Habakkuk
    As a representative of the Mayflower Crowd I have paid attention to that possibility. It seems to me that effect of repeated “levelling” purges has pretty much eliminated 17th century descended white male Americans from the possibility of a significant career in the federal government. I suppose you could claim to be transgendered. But the rural nd small town recruited military probable contains some. pl

  35. tjfxh says:

    I find it difficult to conceive that these people acted on their own in this matter. If they did, they should be fired. If they did not, they are being used as a tool by someone or some cohort. Who might that be?

  36. turcopolier says:

    The state Department has an SOP for internal expression of dissent outside the chain of command. Ah, sorry! They have no chain of command. pl

  37. turcopolier says:

    ex PFC Chuck
    There were many Shia Arab officers in the pre-2003 Iraqi Army. the most senior one that I remember was a three star lieutenant general who commanded the Republican Guard Armored corps in the invasion of Kuwait. you remember them? (the Hammurabi, and Medina armored divisions, the Tawakalna mechanised division, and the Fao motorized division.). pl

  38. rakesh wahi says:

    a lot of shia died fighting for saddam against Khomeini

  39. The Beaver says:

    They must be the ilks of former Ambassador Robert S Ford who is at WINEP these days. The artcle from NYT mentioned someone else from WINEP – now we know who the usual suspects are .
    Who can forget these lines:
    “In February, I resigned as the American ambassador to Syria, after 30 years’ foreign service in Africa and the Middle East. As the situation in Syria deteriorated, I found it ever harder to justify our policy. It was time for me to leave. The media attention about my departure, however, misses the real point. What matters is that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad can drop barrel bombs on civilians and hold sham elections in parts of Damascus, but it can’t rid Syria of the terrorist groups now implanted in the ungoverned regions of eastern and central Syria.”

  40. turcopolier says:

    rakesh wahi
    yes, both officers and men. I think they would have told you that they fought for Iraq. At least that is what they told me at the time. pl

  41. SmoothieX12 says:

    Thank you for this excellent concise insight.

  42. Imagine says:

    We had a dirt-storm of faxes when Kelly last tried to bomb Syria a few years ago. Call your Senator.

  43. JJackson says:

    b how do Neocons equate to Troskyist? This is not equation I was expecting. When I hear Neocons I think Bush 43 et al who seem to be hard right and a mile away from Trotsky, Wilsonian I get. Just asking.

  44. Imagine says:

    Alternative energy and energy independence will free both US and UK from future political domination by Saudi Arabia. Solar, including installation, is now net energy positive. Energy independence should be a grand-strategic goal of any self-aware country.

  45. kao_hsien_chih says:

    They are pretty good, I’d imagine, at plugging things into formulas. I’d run into a lot of these people.
    What they lack is usually an understanding of where the formulas come from, what they mean, and where the exceptions might arise. That is actually one thing that surprised me when I started interacting with conventionally trained poli sci people on regular basis (as a reminder: my background is history and math–I was thinking that the blend of these two backgrounds would make it easy to work with social science types, but, with vast majority of them, history and math were incompatible with so many of them for opposite reasons–there are some genuine intellectuals who are exceptions…but they don’t comment on current politics so baldly). Formulaic, uncreative thinking obsessed with the “right answer” is the norm…although I imagine that is too true with any careerist group.

  46. turcopolier says:

    b will have a good answer and so would David Habakkuk if he chooses to give it. IMO a lot of the older neocons came from a familial tradition of Trotskyism and migrated from that naturally into anti-Stalinism, then to the Scoop Jackson staffs and cultism. Note the Scoop Jackson society in the UK. The academic paths of these pilgrims often converged at the University of Chicago in the classrooms of Leo Strauss and Albert and Roberta Wohlstetter where they were recruited as “Supermen.” Many of the biggies came into the movement that way. A former colleague of the Wohlstetters at Chicago briefed me many years later that they had been actively recruiting what we call neocons long ago. pl

  47. hans says:

    I’m naive, but bear with me for a bit. Just suppose you were XO of a large ship steaming across the Pacific and a large group of junior officers came to you and demanded you change course and ring up flank speed. The course they’re demanding will take you right across French Frigate Shoals at close to 50mph and your ship draws about 40 feet. You, XO, point this out. Then your juniors post their demands on FaceBook and leak to the NYTimes.
    Do you have then arrested and confined to quarters pending a court marshal or do you ignore them?
    Probably, in my ignorance of How Things Work, I would err by having them clapped in irons. But how could you be sure they wouldn’t do sabotage if left at liberty?

  48. turcopolier says:

    hans (old sea dog) State Department has an established procedure for the little pukes to write such memos. pl

  49. JJackson says:

    Thanks it looks like I have some reading to do.

  50. Kooshy says:

    Colonel, IMO this state department paper pusher bureaucrats not only are uneducated and uninformed on the subject of Syria and greater ME, they are studiedly unwilling to learn from thier similar exprinces in Afghanistan,Iraq, Libya and Yemen . One needs to ask this depolomats if they have thought or if they can tell us what would be the shape of the eastern Mediterranean the morning after Assad has gone and if this nation really needs to deepen it’s stick further in the hornet’s nest and create more of, Orlando, Paris, 911, stuff.

  51. turcopolier says:

    Well, pilgrim, I told you they are not interested in the past. pl

  52. turcopolier says:

    At some point (perhaps just after the First Gulf War), Albert and Roberta showed up at the door of my “cave” in the Pentagon. they sat on my government issued naugahide couch. She put a tote bag full of wisdom on my GSA procured coffee table. They told me that “Paul” had sent them. I (perhaps mistakenly)thought they meant Paul Wolfowitz then Deputy Secretary of Defense for Policy. They explained to me in some detail the Straussian interpretation of Plato’s Republic in which truly “only the brave deserve the fair.” I already had “the fair” in my bed every night so I was not impressed by that. Their interpretation of “The Republic” called for the creation of the rule of “philosophers” supported by “gentlemen” (flunkies, but rich flunkies). I had the privilege of a classical education at VMI where we then studied more than machine guns, engineering and physical education. So, I disputed their “reading” of Plato. After listening for a while, they left and I had failed my audition. And somewhere in the darkness Claude, Smoot and Balthazar tell me I chose rightly. pl

  53. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Ironic. One-time Trotskyism giving rise to Stalinism again, in an altogether different economic context.

  54. hans says:

    More than a little infuriating these neocons and Wilsonians are in positions where they could help kick off a land war in Ukraine and completely muckup affairs in numerous countries. It causes me to have a waking fantasy that someday Obama will find his inner Bligh and have the lot of ’em keelhauled under the Truman

  55. different clue says:

    Energy Independence may well require a lower smaller Standard of Energy Living. If it does, are people ready to pay that lifestyle-price for Energy Independence?

  56. different clue says:

    rakesh wahi,
    Fighting for Saddam? Or fighting for Iraq?

  57. different clue says:

    rakesh wahi,
    ( If I’d read the whole thread before replying to your comment, I would have found the question already answered).

  58. VietnamVet says:

    Syrian policy is a microcosm of the dysfunction that has fallen on western society as a whole. As you point out, the strange thing is that all of this was all incubated at the University of Chicago by Leo Strauss and Milton Friedman. Simply put, warlords and the rich have seized power in the West with the support of the 5% technocrats who are exemplified by the State Department 51. Thomas Frank on the NewsHour explains how these bicoastal connected took over the Democratic Party:
    As a result, western governments have disenfranchised whole populations of people from Greece to mid-America.
    Hillary Clinton will only make this worse by confronting Russia and China. I do not think that Donald Trump has the slightest idea of what we are talking about. This is the worse crisis since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Mankind is careening towards a nuclear holocaust.

  59. Bryn P says:

    There certainly is a sense of “visceral hatred” towards Blair over here, yet strangely Cameron seems to have totally avoided any real opprobrium over his actions in Libya. Even Madam Clinton has not escaped some censure in the States over the debacle that is now Libya, though her case cannot have been helped by her despicable gloating over Gadaffi’s death.

  60. Haralambos says:

    Those who know the neocon drill will recognize Strauss and the University of Chicago. I was a graduate student there from 1971-1978 pursuing an uncompleted PhD. in Philosophy. I had several friends doing Political Science. I believe they all finished and went on to university teaching. They were very influenced by Strauss and his thoughts. I was more influenced by Professor Hannah Arendt’s thoughts, although she was not teaching there at the time. There is a book comparing these two philosophers available several years ago: https://www.amazon.com/Hannah-Arendt-Leo-Strauss-Publications/dp/0521599369/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1466200312&sr=1-1&keywords=hannah+arendt+and+leo+strauss
    Arendt’s most influential work for me is this essay: “Truth and Politics” although she is perhaps better known for her coverage of the Eichmann trial and her books: _The Banality of Evil_, _On Revolution_, and _The Human Condition_.
    To me, this anecdote from her essay “Truth and Politics” is of the essence in understanding s much in this post-modern world where reality is made, according to some of those who follow what is attributed to Karl Rove as “we make it.”
    Arendt writes: “Even if we admit that every generation has the right to write its own history, we admit no more than it has the right to rearrange the facts in accordance with its own perspective; we don’t admit the right to touch the factual matter itself. To illustrate this point, and as an excuse for not pursuing this issue any further: During the twenties, so a story goes, Clemenceau, shortly before his death, found himself engaged in a friendly talk with a representative of the Weimar Republic on the the question of guilt for the outbreak of the First World War. ‘What is your opinion,’ Clemenceau was asked, ‘will future historians think of this troublesome and controversial issue?’ He replied, ‘This I don’t know. But I know for certain that they will not say Belgium invaded Germany.'”
    I know “the facts” are constructed, but that is why Hegel’s comments on “The Owl of Minerva” are relevant and worth recalling.

  61. Anonymous says:

    The best approach to being top of class is to “read the mind” of the teacher by noticing, along the course, the many clues he lets slip about the subjects that interest him the most. At the high level, the more subtle the clue you are able to catch, the more decimal points of grade you will manage to glean. Even in STEM fields, paying attention to the psychological needs of the teacher shows the way up. I’m sounding like Tracy Flick, and that’s exactly the point. She would make a wonderful borgist in your State Department.
    So, let me give at least an example on how to get good grades (I know I’m being obnoxious, but that’s me thinking I’m being funny.) Suppose you are the student of professor Alan Finkel and you are listening to him. Can you catch the clue he gives after listing some of the prizes Kip Thorne has received in this video (it takes 15 secs)?
    Now suppose you are the student and you got the clue that there is a psychological feature in the mind of Prof. Finkel that categorizes people into “good named” ones. Sure you will receive better grades if you select the papers authored by people with “good names.” Are you able to discern them “good named” people in this simple example? Then you’ll know that borgisms doesn’t appear out of the blue, it is not restricted to social sciences and is all about subtle clues as to who are the “good people” without the need of stating who are the “not good people,” because to a top student, all you need to show is the way up.
    For those interested in knowing that there is no worry about Prof. Finkel and his “good names” theory ever having any real influence in science:

  62. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    What counts as “brave” for “Albert and Roberta” and their ilk?
    Ishmael Zechariah

  63. Croesus says:

    Fracking, windmills and solar cannot underwrite the petrodollar.

  64. Degringolade says:

    One of the silliest moments of my life was taking the FSO exam and going through the “interview” process. I was out of the Army, in school getting my grad degree, and on a whim I signed up for the FSO exam. I figured that getting overpaid overseas would greatly enhance my chances of getting laid regularly.
    Night before the exam, one of my friends came by with two bottles of Cuervo and a reasonable amount of coke. Needless to say, when I stumbled into the exam, I was still well-lit and sleep was not in the cards the night before.
    Aced the bastard…lowest score was in English/writing @ 87%
    State called me about a six months later, got interviewed. Apparently they didn’t read the rest of my package because when they found out about my military experience, the interview got icy very, very quickly. I was out of the room in about two minutes.
    I was kinda bummed….I had trotted out my best college lefty imitation…

  65. Rob Waddell says:

    Pat, we are so pleased you chose rightly. If you had escaped the cave you may have been ‘enlightened’ by the outside world and all its wonderfulness. If deciding to return to free us poor souls from our dim prison your unbleached bones would be the sole remain.
    Your visit by the ‘sales rep’s’ is a good story though and you have previously described it in more detail. More stories please..

  66. HankP says:

    Col. Lang –
    Thanks you for that anecdote. Absolutely fascinating. In business we call the problem “believing your own PR”.

  67. Cortes says:

    Is it possible that the signatories are desperately attempting to create a fait accompli?
    Is the number of signatories significant ?
    Are the grades occupied by the signatories of real importance?
    The great novelistic analyst of bureaucracy (in my opinion) has been John Le Carre. In “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” he has his “Control” character advise Smiley to be afraid of those buying their way in with false money. I struggle to think of a better description of the careerist cabal our host describes as “the Borg”.

  68. FND says:

    The neocons are descendants of the Troskyites, some directly so, but all of them intellectually so. From Wikipedia,
    Many neoconservatives had been Jewish intellectuals in New York City during the 1930s. They were on the political left but strongly opposed Stalinism; some were Trotskyists. During the Cold War they continued to oppose Stalinism and to endorse democracy. The great majority became liberal Democrats.
    As the policies of the New Left made the Democrats increasingly leftist, these intellectuals became disillusioned with President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society domestic programs. The influential 1970 bestseller The Real Majority by Ben Wattenberg expressed that the “real majority” of the electorate endorsed economic liberalism but also social conservatism, and warned Democrats it could be disastrous to adopt liberal positions on certain social and crime issues.
    The neoconservatives rejected the counterculture New Left, and what they considered anti-Americanism in the non-interventionism of the activism against the Vietnam War. After the anti-war faction took control of the party during 1972 and nominated George McGovern, the Democrats among them endorsed Washington Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson instead for his unsuccessful 1972 and 1976 campaigns for president. Among those who worked for Jackson were future neoconservatives Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, and Richard Perle. During the late 1970s, neoconservatives tended to endorse Ronald Reagan, the Republican who promised to confront Soviet expansionism. Neocons organized in the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation to counter the liberal establishment.

  69. mbrenner says:

    I am aware of only one book that provides a (partial) account of the neo-cons’ genesis: THE VULCANS. Forget who wrote it. Interesting that such an important phenomenon has escaped the attention of writers, journalists and academics.

  70. Shawn says:

    Forgive me if this was stated already, but doesn’t the FSO’s wish for kinetic operations reinforce the impression that they are in a weak negotiating position? It rather accentuates the point repeated here that all good negotiations are a matter of the outcome on the field?
    Love the site. Keep up the good work and remember, gun control means good front sight post alignment.

  71. Shawn says:

    You could look up the founding members of the neocon camp. world improvers to the core.

  72. robt willmann says:

    Yesterday, 16 June 2016, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Gen. David Goldfein to be the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force. He is presently the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force–
    At 31 minutes into the video, Senator Roger Wicker (Repub. Mississippi) reads some setup questions to Goldfein about Syria. Wicker says that the chairman, John McCain, made the point, and he agrees, that as evil as ISIS is, it is the barrel bombs and air attacks that are causing most of the civilian casualties in Syria. He asks if that is correct in your view? Goldfein says ‘yes’.
    Wicker asks if Goldfein agrees with Gen. David Petraeus, who testified before the committee a few months ago, that we have the capability to take out Assad’s air force? The answer, of course, is ‘I do’.
    Wicker asked about a no-fly zone and the presence of the Russian Air Force in Syria. Goldfein says that as an airman who has planned and executed no-fly zones, this is a capability that we retain, we know how to do it, and we can do it. However, three fundamental questions would have to be answered before he could recommend it as an option: 1) He has to have authority to shoot down and kill anybody who violated the no-fly zone. Since ISIS does not have an air force, he would have to have the authority to shoot down and kill Russian or Syrian aircraft. 2) There has to be a clear understanding of what the objective was on ground below the no-fly zone. If it is to do a humanitarian safe zone or refugee return, that would require some indigenous ground force. 3) He would have to divert resources from the current campaign to do the no-fly zone. With the answers to those three questions, a no-fly zone can be done.
    That part goes to about 34 min., 20 sec. in the video.

  73. Pundita says:

    Colonel, the memo or rather its leak might be more serious than I’d originally assumed if CNN indeed saw a draft before a final copy was leaked to WSJ and NYT, given that CNN is the top unofficial propaganda outlet for the Obama White House.
    One of my readers pointed out that news about the memo coincided with the visit of MbS to Washington, which rolled out the red carpet for him yesterday (and today). His Vision 2030 project as much promises to spread hundreds of billions USD around Washington if they play by Riyadh’s rules. Riyadh has been demanding for a long time that Assad be taken out in a decapitation strike.
    From that POV, the memo might represent more than a bunch of idiots at State blowing off steam. It’s possible the leak and the memo itself was overseen by the Obama White House. In that event, he might be preparing the American public for a decapitation strike. That would be playing chicken with Russia and Iran. But given that his Iran ‘deal’ is pretty much in tatters, he might want to leave office with a bang. I hope this train of reasoning is alarmist but since Libya I put nothing past Obama.

  74. asx says:

    Let us take a moment and acknowledge how despite all the eagerness for state sponsored violence and anarchy, BHO has been holding the line. Apres moi, le deluge? Will we look back at these 8 years and note that this was the period where the least amount of violence was unleashed by us in pursuit of foreign policy goals? He will have earned the preemptive Nobel when he leaves office.
    I refuse to believe that a Trump administration will have the discipline not to resort to force, despite the pacifist/pragmatic pronouncements being made. Those positions do not arise from any conviction and will go the same way as W’s pledge not to indulge in nation building.

  75. bth says:

    Why is this neocon minority report being leaked now?
    I would guess that it is a confluence of these items: first Russian economic sanctions are up for vote at the end of June and there are a lot of people that don’t want a negotiated solution in Ukraine or Syria; second, the Saudi defense minister was in DC this week and someone probably wants to score points; third, after a direct IS terrorist attack on the US this week with the public debate about gun control and not the international threat we face, it is easier to put forward the regime change meme in Syria than it is to actually confront IS head-on which the US must do in my opinion first and foremost. Last there was a debate in the senate on ME policy this week and defense budget which of course includes funding to Israel and various branches of the armed services that would prefer an air war over a special forces driven approach now being taken. This confluence of events caused the ‘leak’ in my estimation. It may be forgotten news a week from now since he apparently does not have purchase with the President of Sec of State.

  76. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    It’s curious that the University of Chicago was home to both the political and economic facets of fundamentalist neo-liberalism. Strauss, Kristol et al the apostles of neo-conservatism and Milton Friedman and friends on the economic side. And they both worked together so well debugging the Shock Doctrine in Chile during the Pinochet regime. So sad about those folks who fell out of the helicopters over the Pacific. What was in that Chi-town water?

  77. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Then I fail to understand why they do not love, just not love, the Islamic Republic of Iran.
    For the Islamic Republic of Iran, through a long period of gestation and development, is the foremost historical embodiment of the Platonic Republic as can be built upon the weak foundations of the crooked timber of mankind.
    Why did not they go to Tehran, humbly kissing the hand of the Persian Philsopher-King, i.e. Ayatollah Khomeini?

  78. Anonymous says:

    “Pending a court marshal.” That must be american english. I’m unfamiliar with it, though. I suppose them english would have said something like “hanging a courtroom bailiff” perhaps?

  79. Bill Herschel says:

    Thank you for this extremely intelligent comment on pl’s extremely informed and important post. God help us.

  80. Bill Herschel says:

    I believe there is a contingent that *wants* war with Russia. That keeps me awake at night.

  81. b says:

    Publishing a dissident paper is not part of the SOP dissident canal. It is the opposite.
    This paper was internationally leaked to major news outlets. Kerry? Nuland? NYT described the source as “State Department official”. That wasn’t some lowly second Ambassador.

  82. crf says:

    Why do the neocons and State-Department staffers care so much about what happens in Syria, and not, for example, about changes in Indonesia, Thailand or Malaysia? I can understand Europe worrying more about Syria. But the US is obsessed beyond reason with the ME and has let its influence and attention in the pacific region wander.
    What happened to “Pivot to Asia”? Why does Obama tolerate his Kerry-led State department’s public obsession over the Middle-East? This letter is evidence of an embarrassing lack of control over the focus Obama needs to put on his State Department.

  83. Prem says:

    Several neocon luminaries were ex-Trotskyists – eg Irving Kristol and Christopher Hitchens.
    In the British Labour movement there was an old adage: ”Never trust a Trot”. Even “tankies”, ie communists, were regarded as more reliable.

  84. Bill Herschel says:

    Close, but no cigar. This is a coup d’état organized by the professional coup d’état artists. Mutiny is not quite the right word.
    Let’s connect the dots. “We came, we saw, he died [giggle]”. Private server. Victoria Nuland. Ford: “In 2012, Ford was awarded the Profile in Courage Award by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation for his work as the U.S. ambassador in Syria amidst “repeated threats to his life” where he was doing what was characterized as “traveling around Syria to encourage and support peaceful protesters targeted by Assad’s brutal crackdown”.
    Throw in treason: “The Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, who is visiting Washington, said Friday he heartily supported the conclusions of the State Department memo. “Yes, yes, yes,” he said. “We have been arguing from the beginning of the Syrian crisis that there should be more robust intervention in Syria, including airstrikes,” he said at a news conference. Only more aggressive military approach, he said, could “change the balance of power” and lead to a political settlement.”
    So there is a clique within the government who want to overthrow Obama and replace him or his policies with there own person, Clinton, *prior* to the election. The pimple has been popped and the pus is there for all to see.
    Russia had a quickly shutting window within which to act prior to Clinton’s election. That the domestic jihadists at the State Department have felt it necessary to emerge from their cloaca indicates Russia has acted in time.
    Pray for many debates between Clinton and Donald Trump.

  85. jonst says:

    well, we know the answer to your closing question, don’t we?

  86. turcopolier says:

    That’s right. the leak of the paper was completely outside the procedure but such a leak is an old DC technique. pl

  87. rjj says:

    Sanders was majoring in political science and was at University of Chicago the same time as Strauss (whose appointment was Poly. Sci. department). Sanders was an “activist” though, which may mean not up to/for the rigors of a Strauss course. “Activists” were [are?] often [usually?] academic slackers.

  88. Poul says:

    Former ambassador Robert Ford joins the choir for attacking the Syrian government.
    His goal:
    1) bomb Assad back to the negotiation table with a willingness to make concession.
    2) that will inspire the moderate Syrian rebels to make a deal and all will end well…
    Not a single mention if there even is a moderate Syrian rebel movement willing to make a deal AND crush the salafist/jihadi groups afterwards. Giving that the most powerful non-IS rebel groups are Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham. Will they with their world view kiss and make up with the Syrian government. Not bloody likely.

  89. Fred says:

    The thing that is apparent in all of this came to me watching the NewsHour on PBS Friday when the reporter kept stating that these career civil servants had to obey the “commander in chief”. They have jobs and families and blah, blah, blah…. What they don’t have is integrity and any understanding or belief in our Republic or our Constitution. (both the ‘journalist’ and these careerist employees.)

  90. turcopolier says:

    As you well know, POTUS is not Commander in Chief of the State Department. He/She/It is CinC of the armed forces. pl

  91. LeaNder says:

    “In a dramatic meeting Bremer told these generals that they would immediately cease and desist because the “day of the Sunnis has ended.”
    Pat, without looking into comments, this seems to suggest it wasn’t some type of ill-handling hybris or accident*, but that it was intended. But would this make sense?
    I am fully aware of the rumors. But is there a document? What dramatic meeting?
    * personally I was somewhat puzzled, since it seemed to mirror my juvenile demands and struggles in postwar Germany, but, whoever he was, I also deeply disliked the equation of Saddam with Adolf.

  92. bth says:

    I think Putin’s statements here in this Reuters article are the clearest evidence that a negotiated Syrian transition type government is underway targeting an August 1 milestone of some sort.
    “The U.S. proposal is absolutely acceptable. We must think about the possibilities of incorporating representatives of the opposition into the active ruling structure,” Putin told the annual St Petersburg International Economic Forum.
    “For example into the government. We must think what rights that government will have. But here we shouldn’t go too far, we must act based on today’s realities.”
    Putin said the most important thing for Syria was not for Assad to retake every inch of territory as Assad recently pledged (though Putin said territorial gains were important) but for overall faith in the authorities to be restored.
    I continue to think Lavrov and Kerry are pushing toward a previously agreed upon end state in Syria and Ukraine. Can cats be herded fast enough given the realities of civil wars in Ukraine and Syria and the beating heart of the US election cycle which will bring in a new administration and all the uncertainty that entails?

  93. turcopolier says:

    Rumor? I guess you missed the fact that my business partner was present at the meeting. If you consider me to be a rumor monger you should not bother yourself with SST. Are you sure you are not a neocon? pl

  94. turcopolier says:

    “the possibilities of incorporating representatives of the opposition into the active ruling structure,” Which “representatives of the opposition?” pl

  95. turcopolier says:

    I know you must have spent your life in academic pursuits, but, actual, real life experiences really do count for more than library research. If you want to make intelligent comments you have to read other people’s comments on a given thread. I will tell you again. Mu business partner whom I have known for 35 years was in the room during the meeting I described. pl

  96. LeaNder says:

    Thanks, Pat.
    Unfortunately, my mind is not a searchable database, which in this case should be ideally connected to yours, blogwise.*.
    I alluded to rumors, since in a way it was the first theoretical framework (niwitty limited) which I seemed to need in the post 911 universe before I surfaced here.
    No doubt Bremer drew a lot of attention then.
    * I looked into some of the comments, up to b’s, but only the shorter ones. I will retire a bit, thus a lot more may escape my attention, unfortunately for a while. Including your responses via comment. Put another way: Pat Lang, the teacher. 😉

  97. LeaNder says:

    Pat, please don’t ask me why, but I trust you.
    Not least, maybe because of heavy confrontations on some issues. Centrally one, maybe. It made me realize, where you might have been heading. Beyond the second Amendment, and personal interests, that is.

  98. Thomas says:

    “What was in that Chi-town water?”
    A special radioactive isotope from the first atomic reactor and, if it entered you, it swelled the head and shrunk the heart convincing the infected they were masters of the world.

  99. hans says:

    pending = awaiting… a court marshal would usually be held on shore

  100. bth says:

    That is a question the Syrian government will have to answer. We do know it won’t include IS or JAN. I doubt an outline for peace can be worked out by the Aug 1 deadline, or even within the Obama administration’s remaining months. So IMO the US should be focusing all remaining months on reducing IS militarily as a necessity for our own national security.

  101. Bandolero says:

    The text of the memo is not secret anymore. Read it here:
    Oh, yes, I agree, that that’s the perfect place to leak a sensitive, but unclassified US government doc from neocons occupaying state, demanding the start of a hot war against Iran.
    Because that’s what it is: a push for a war with Iran. Iran made it well known 2013 that if the US bombs the Syrian government, Iran would respond in kind: by attacking US forces across the region. I don’t think the guys who wrote that doc are stupid. They want a US war with Iran in the service of Israel, and bombing the Syrian government is the safest way to get it started.

  102. Thomas says:

    Not trying to be a pedantic prick, it is court martial.
    If officers pulled that stunt while I was CO the order to the Command Master Chief would be to arrest them, hold them under armed guard, use force if needed, including deadly if necessary until we arrive in port to turn them over to Shore Patrol and file charges. For civilians that isn’t allowed.
    A key problem for our country is the staffing of key departments in government with usurping subversives loyal to their Idol of Ideology. These are dangerous times, though I have faith we can pull through it.

  103. Pundita says:

    Russian defense minister in Syria today on unannounced visit to meet Assad, inspect Russian base and reconciliation center there.
    Also, here’s pdf to draft State memo, which it turns out is the only one that’s been discussed in the press. The final wasn’t shown to the press.

  104. mbrenner says:

    It has been clear for some that Obama has tuned out. Everybody in the Executive Branch knows that. Even earlier, those in the National Security realm had little respect for, of fear of him. On Syria, he seems simply to have told Kerry; see what you can come up with, John. Kerry himself is no diplomatic genius, and shifts tack not in accordance with some sophisticated strategy but merely because it’s expedient and doesn’t know what else to do. The contradictions in US policy are so deep-seated, that there is nothing exceptional about his expressed sympathy to have a military option (or demonstration) and the pursuit of some sort of deal – even one to which ISIS, al-Nusra, Aharar al-Sham, the Saudis and probably the Turks wouldn’t agree to.
    It’s time for Kerry to spend some quiet down time in the Carlsbad Caves.

  105. J says:

    Colonel, TTG,
    What is needed is State weenies have to first serve in uniform in a combat zone BEFORE they can even be eligible for foreign service positions. Their piddly tests need to go in file thirteen, along with the pinheads who signed that ignoramus letter.

  106. kooshy says:

    Yes colonel you have on many occasions, but my hope is your massage can pass the Borg controlled, information system in this land.

  107. Fred says:

    I certainly understand that, perhaps I worded that poorly. It seems the press have taken up the CIC drumbeat.

  108. Anonymous says:

    Degringolade, I hope you’re aware that after that fateful night before the exam, your “reasonable amount of coke” bringing friend got fired from his advertising job.

  109. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    SSTers interested in more background on the linkages between Strauss and neocons may want to start with these:
    More than a little food for thought, and one sees that the intellectual roots of today’s problems go back decades. A careful reading would suggest that DoS employees, whose primary education is in academia, are sitting ducks for the very kinds of misinformation and deception that Strauss advocated. Pity.

  110. Question? Am I correct that there about 2000 living current and Former FSo’s [Foreign Service Officers] with about 200 living people cuurent or retired with Ambassadorial rank?
    What was the real message of this memo? It certainly will nave no impact good or bad on this President IMO! The next?

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