Thursday, February 18, 2016

Reckless U.S. Syrian policy puts Evel Knievel to shame.

Stephen Gowans is a man of the left but anything but a doctrinaire one. Below I've quoted from his excellent post on what U.S. congressional researchers had to say about "regime change" in Syria as far back as 2005:
By 2006, Time was reporting that the Bush administration had “been quietly nurturing individuals and parties opposed to the Syrian government in an effort to undermine the regime of President Bashar Assad.” Part of the effort was being run through the National Salvation Front. The Front included “the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization that for decades supported the violent overthrow of the Syrian government.” Front representatives “were accorded at least two meetings” at the White House in 2006. Hence, the US government, at its highest level, was colluding with Islamists to bring down the Syrian government at least five years before the eruption of protests in 2011. This is a development that seems to have escaped the notice of some who believe that violent Islamist organizations emerged only after March 2011. In point of fact, the major internal opposition to secular Syrian governments, both before and after March 2011, were and are militant Sunni Islamists.

* * * *

Today, Islamic State operates as one of the largest, if not the largest, rebel groups in Syria. A 2015 Congressional Research Service report cited an “unnamed senior State Department official” who observed:

[W]e’ve never seen something like this. We’ve never seen a terrorist organization with 22,000 foreign fighters from a hundred countries all around the world. To put it in context—again, the numbers are fuzzy—but it’s about double of what went into Afghanistan over 10 years in the war against the Soviet Union. Those Jihadi fighters were from a handful of countries.” [26]
* * * *

The US government has publicly drawn a distinction between Islamic State and the confined-to-Syria-therefore-acceptable rebels, seeking to portray the former as terrorists and the latter as moderates, regardless of the methods they use and their views on Islam and democracy. The deception is echoed by the US mass media, which often complain that when Russian warplanes target non-Islamic State rebels that they’re striking “moderates,” as if all rebels apart from Islamic State are moderates, by definition. US Director of Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged that “moderate” means little more than “not Islamic State.”[1]

What Mr. Gowans has to say further on about Obama's "tepid approach" to fighting ISIS is right on the money. It explains Obama's pretend campaign against ISIS and, by way of contrast, Russia's effortless destruction of the ISIS oil tankers traveling to Turkey and back. The U.S. just couldn't seem to find those trucks making thousands of runs to Turkey but the Russians had no difficulty in finding them. It destroyed ISIS's oil tankers at a rate 800 times that of the U.S. "effort."

As Gowans says on the issue of enabling ISIS:

If he truly believed Islamic State was a scourge that needed to be destroyed, the US president would work with the Syrian government to expunge it. Instead, he has chosen to wield Islamic State as a weapon to expunge the Syrian government, in the service of building up Israel and fostering free market and free enterprise economies in the Middle East to accommodate US foreign investment and exports on behalf of his Wall Street sponsors. [31][2]
Is there anything on the face of the planet more reckless, misguided, or vicious than what passes for U.S. foreign policy in this world?

Obama made it a cornerstone of his approach to abase himself (and the United States) before the nearest head of state at whatever cocktail party he happened to attend, but did nothing to alter the course of his predecessor, the hated George W. Bush.

Tens of thousands of Syrians have died as a direct result of the Bush-Obama policy there, which policy is firmly grounded in the lunatic idea that "regime change" can be effected with all costs necessarily gratefully absorbed by the locals. It will then be followed by the coronation of a new leader -- graciously chosen by the United States -- who will inaugurate an era of enlightened government free of sectarian strife and factional struggle.

This is right out of Disneyland but it was official U.S. policy in Syria until Mr. Putin arrived there to suggest helpful alternatives.

Notes
[1] "What US Congress Researchers Reveal About Washington’s Designs on Syria." By Stephen Gowans, what's left, 2/6/16 (emphasis added).
[2] Id. Emphasis added.

12 comments:

  1. Sorry, Bunny.

    Noting your emphasized quote,

    "in the service of building up Israel and fostering free market and free enterprise economies in the Middle East to accommodate US foreign investment and exports on behalf of his Wall Street sponsors,"

    I went to the site (what's left) and read the quoted article and a couple of others. The rhetoric (describing Bolton as a velociraptor, for example) and conclusions as well as pervasive use of unnamed sources (such as "congressional researchers") lead me to disbelieve anything Gowans says, even though several of his facts may be true.

    Anyway, I'm sorry. But when you quote from a site that maintains Israel has no right to self defense against Palestinians, I'm likely to read your future missives with less enthusiasm than before.

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  2. P.S. As a counter-example of a blogger "out on the far wing" I commend to you today's article at anncoulter.com, "G.O.P. BAFFLED AS VOTERS RALLY TO POPULAR CANDIDATE."

    You may disagree with her conclusions but she doesn't use shady sources or unsupportable inferences.

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  3. AS a rule I find this blog informative. I admit using a questionable source is a problem but he does not do so in general. I think I will continue to look at this blog

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  4. Tim, I make it a point to source as much as I can or as is reasonable. Since I am not generating scholarly articles published at monthly intervals certain compromises are unavoidable. I do not, however, lightly recommend sources to my readers that I think do not show some evidence of intellectual integrity. That's my judgment call and reasonable minds can differ on that score, but I certainly do not wish to waste my readers' time by directing them to insubstantial or mendacious authors, at least not on the issue of the truth or logic of any matter. Gowans analysis seems inherently plausible to me on the point of the U.S. "pretend" was on ISIS. Sourced or not, he has done a better job of explaining that undeniable phenomenon than anyone else I've come across. And it was not unsourced, as I argue below.

    Nor do I warrant that I agree with everything an author says when I highlight something he or she writes. If someone believes in cannibalism or is a nutcase diversity fanatic, it's unlikely I'll be much attracted to what they have to say on matters of concern to me. Still, I think someone who is cogent and accurate on one matter is entitled to be evaluated on that offering only. I am guilty of many lapses of judgment in this life and where my character or judgment are at issue they are certainly fair game. But if my facts and conclusions therefrom are the only issue on the table, then I expect the merits of my treatment of that issue are the only possible targets of criticism.

    There's a site I like to read call Syrian Perspective. Mr. Fadel is much given to refer to the "moderate terrorists" as "rodents" and "Saudi cannibal terrorists" but I think his blog has value. He's referred to "Saudi" commanders ending up dead as a result of the SAA and, notwithstanding his verbal flourishes, I would cheerfully propose that his site provides evidence of direct Saudi involvement at more than the level of the individual rifleman. A small point, I admit. I think he's worth reading though I think he's a bit hyperbolic about the success of Syrian Army efforts. A bit. But I can make adjustments and I expect my readers will too on whatever I choose to focus on.

    Cont'd . . . .

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  5. Cont'd . . .

    I happen to like Mr. Bolton and will always drop what I'm doing to listen to any opinion of his. I don't know the reason for Gowans' referring to him as a velociraptor but I am not wholeheartedly in his corners as I consider him a certified neocon. His leadership of the Gatestone Institute is proof of that and I read what they generate every day and find it wholeheartedly a source for the Israeli position. That's not ipso facto objectionable to me but neither am I without a lot of skepticism on the point of the supposed "special relationship" that the U.S. has with Israel. This article about the real damage that Pollard did with the active connivance and encouragement of the Israeli government is irrefutable proof that Israel is in fact hostile to the U.S. That source refers to a more detailed account of Pollard's spying by Seymour Hersh. Pollard's Israel-instigated spying and what the Israelis did with what Pollard gave them was horrendously damaging to the U.S.

    Anybody who says Israel has no right to defend herself is wrong. It has the same right to do that as Egypt, Colombia, Jamaica, Canada, Indonesia, etc. Bottom line: you get to keep and govern what you can take and hold. If any Muslims want to take over Israel, they're free to try to accomplish that. That said, I have no patience for anyone who wants to talk about their right to return to their "sacred homeland." Military force is the only arbiter of any international boundary. Any boundary. You want it; you fight for it.

    That said, on the specifics of Mr. Gowans' article using "unnamed sources (such as 'congressional researchers')," I point out to you his footnote no. 1 where he sites the specific product of the Congressional Research Service that he examines. All told he has 31 footnotes to his article. Thus, it is inaccurate that he uses shady references. God bless Ann Coulter but her article is not in stark contrast to Gowans' on the matter of sources.

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  6. Avraham, thank you for your willingness to consider my general approach to publishing articles here. I hope that my discussion of Gowans' actual use of sources is satisfactory.

    I forgot to add for Tim, that I do indeed find myself willing to read articles on Counterpunch and The Nation. I expect leftists with intellectual integrity to read my conservative or nativist writings with an open mind and I try to extend the same courtesy to them. Not all of them are due such consideration but then the hatchet job on Trump by the National Review people was not the least bit admirable. I used to fall asleep with the magazine in my hand back in the '80s. Now I have zero interest in what is inside its covers.

    These are such strange times that I don't know how one can avoid reading widely to try to make sense of them. I confess it's rarely a question of meticulous sourcing but rather the seeming reasonableness and open-mindedness of any author. Fred Reed, Diana West, Fjordman, Peter Brimelow, Pat Buchanan, Chuck Baldwin, Ann Coulter, and John Derbyshire are just convincing thinkers and worth my time, any time.

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  7. Col.,

    I'm certainly not going to stop reading what you post, but I agree that there seems to be a definite slant against Israel. Do you imagine for a moment that the US does not spy on Israel? Can you say with a straight face that various Presidents and Congress have never done significant harm to Israel (e.g., forcing Israel to make concessions to the "Palestinians" by threat of withholding something - such as needed replacement/spare parts for F-16s - or other assistance, such as a particular vote in the UN?)

    Israel cannot count on the "friendship" of the US government, and never could. Spying in defense of their needs as a country surrounded by enemies who have all sworn her destruction, and assailed by damn near every other country in the UN, is something Israel would have been horribly negligent in not doing.

    The Hebrews/Jews have been harassed, oppressed, attacked everywhere they have gone - after having been driven out of their homeland - and given no quarter in any part of the world (yes, temporarily in some countries, but not for that long). Do you really think they were wrong to take advantage of the return of Judea - also called Palestine when _they_ were the residents, not the Arabs who currently claim the name of "Palestinian" - their original homeland? They took a basically empty desert land and fought for it against great odds, and then made it fruitful. Those Arabs, mostly muslims, simply want to deny the Jews any place to live upon this earth, because their fake religion orders them to kill the Jews, wherever they may be.

    I support Israel, and understand that some of the steps they have taken may have been inimical to our government, but think back to Jimmy "Cracker" Carter, and his open anti-Semitism, which continue to this day. Even the Bushes screwed Israel over. Israel would have to be incredibly stupid _not_ to spy on our government to see how they planned on screwing them over next.

    I'm always sad to hear people who I otherwise respect going on about the Jews, or the Israelis (Jews). I'm an agnostic gentile (formerly Catholic, although I am embarrassed to admit it considering this current Pope and the direction the Church has taken in the last forty or so years - I agree with much of what Ann Barnhardt says about the Church). So I don't have any connection to the Jews or Israelis, except for knowledge of their suffering in the Shoah, and a respect for a people who continue to take in Jews from places of oppression all over the world, and who have fought so bravely and done such wonders in making their country viable, along with all of the medical, scientific, and engineering advances they have produced that benefit mankind.

    Samuel Clemens wrote a short monograph on the Jews, and how their value to Western Civilization has far exceeded their small numbers. Yes, there are, and have been, many vile Jews, like Soros, but show me the group that doesn't have their bad apples. In the main, they have done more for humanity than any other group I can think of.

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  8. Colonel! (Bunny) Your well-phrased and articulate counter-examples to my arguments are reason enough that I *will* keep reading and considering your points of view.

    Reg T. in the post just above said much of what I would have said. But I'm 65 and I realize that not only has everything I want to say probably has been said before, you and Reg and others have said it much more concisely or eloquently than I can.

    I often post a "hear hear," to Fran just to let him know I appreciate his posts. Please accept that if I take the time to growl at you for a particular post or a particular source it is meant in the same "give and take manner." You are well-spoken and have obviously (to me) spent much time on the issues you write about.

    I apologize that I am not as knowledgeable or as well-spoken as you. And I readily admit that I am guilty of THIS: In my 65 years. I have often gone down deep corridors of thought about sex, the decline of the West, the efficacy and ramifications of threaded interpretive computer languages, the goals of religion, the meaning of religion to me, the end-game of "love thy neighbor," and how can I be a responsible single agent while acknowledging the validity of others who disagree with me.

    At my age, I often end these internal discussions by padding downstairs and getting Fritos and cheese or drinking wine and playing computer baseball.

    I realize I don't know all the ins and outs of everything all the players are doing. Caroline Glick has opened my eyes about Muslim atrocities in Serbia. You've helped shed some light on events in Syria. Bush and Reagan and the founders are just people - and are sometimes wrong.

    I'm probably wrong, but it seems to me that if you (or anyone else) has a valid point to make, it can be done without recourse to a virulent anti-semitic site. Again, the facts on that site may be correct. I'm as passionate as the next guy when I drink wine and post, "God damn Obama!" But I want dispassionate and unbiased reporting of provable facts when I'm reading history, geopolitics, today's news or. . . well, most anything, I guess.

    I want Fran's and your analysis (and others.) But I want facts first.

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  9. Reg, I'm not all that hostile to Israel. Yes, U.S. presidents and Congresses have made life somewhat difficult for Israel though always in the context of shoveling huge amounts of money to it. Nixon, of course, saved Israel in one war by a massive airlift of military supplies.

    After the Pollard spying revelations and the attack on the USS Liberty I am supremely disabused of the notion that Israel is an ally and the idea that we have a "special relationship" based on something other than the effectiveness of AIPAC lobbying and financial help is not tenable. I wholeheartedly support any and all military actions taken by Israel to defend itself and reject all attempts to force Israel to make domestic adjustments based on what Washington or the U.N. think is right and proper.

    As I've said, I'm not at all sympathetic to anyone's claim of "historic homeland." You lose land; too bad. Nor do I think that Zionist Jews arrived in an empty wasteland when they moved to Palestine, if that's the right term. Israelis did indeed make Israel bloom but it was not, as I just noted, "basically empty desert land." They did indeed fight for what they now own and, like every other nation on earth, they are entitled to keep and deal with what they won and what they can defend militarily.

    The long history of Jews in the Diaspora is not something I've ever examined or been interested in. It is apparently an article of faith that the reason Jews had a hard time of it every place they went that was under Christian rule is because of enmity that Christians had toward "Christ killers." I rather doubt that was the cause and think that the in-group culture of Jews also had something to do with. Working hypothesis: Jews were unpopular and suspected for reasons having little to do with a wholly irrational hatred on the part of Christians.

    As I say, I have never studied this but claims of innocent victimhood just leave me cold.

    Israel did spy on the U.S. and I refuse to be "shocked" when I learn that nation A has spied on nation B. It is the way of the world. However, what Israel did with what it sought to get from Pollard was an enormous crime against the U.S. and it had nothing to do with anything affecting Israel's security.

    I don't recall offhand what animated Carter on the subject of Israel. I think you mean that Carter's alleged anti-Semitism continues today as a feature of U.S. politics. If so, I disagree. I'll cite Mark Levin and Ben Stein on that score. Both see America as having enormously welcoming to Jews. I enjoyed my last year of high school with an overwhelmingly Jewish student body who, God bless them, befriended me and included me in their social activities. Such intellectual awakening that allegedly occurred in me was probably made possible by the example of my studious and brainy Jewish pals. This point to make clear that criticism of, or skepticism toward, Israel and/or Jews, are not the same as anti-Semitism. This is rather dishonestly ignored by some Jewish pundits I've read.

    I trust I am not included in the category of people who "go on about" the Jews or Israelis. I'm aware of the inordinate influence of Jews on our politics and do not like it. I have the "Adelson Primary" in mind and it's been reported that Marco Rubio has Adelson on speed dial to ask him what he should say on any topic. Newt Gingrich was in the pocket of Adelson, who, as you no doubt know, is fanatically pro-Israel.

    Cont'd...

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  10. Cont'd...

    Jews did indeed suffer terribly at the hands of the National Socialists. The real Holocaust Denial at work in the world, however,is not that Jews did not die by the millions. It is that there were other, much worse Holocausts in the 20th century which, amazingly, seem to have fallen down the memory hole. I found it interesting that the all-time worst instance of genocide was in German South West Africa in the 19th century according to a certain prof in Hawaii. No one's suffering is inconsequential but suffering in the 20th century was not the exclusive experience of Jews.

    Here's my bottom line: no religion, race, nation, idea, or person is above criticism. Jews are entitled to no special privileges in this regard and if it's acceptable to say that Christians DO harbor some kind of anti-Semitic animosity in their DNA then it is acceptable to entertain the idea that Jews MIGHT harbor some attitudes toward gentiles that are less than admirable.

    That's about the long and the short of what I think on these issues, Reg.

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  11. Tim, you're very kind and I appreciate your willingness to consider my point of view.

    I'm 72 and I still feel like I'm coming from behind on a lot of things. It's as much as your life is worth just to try to understand the roots of the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath. On that note, do see the movie "The Big Short." It's very entertaining and actually makes the dry aspects of high finance extraordinarily clear.

    Anyway, I don't mind being growled at. At this point in our declining representative republic I figure everything, and I do mean everything, in public life is on the table. I think we've been living in a propaganda fog for a long time and the hysterical attacks on free speech we see now are no accident. The policies of the ruling elites are so terrible and their consequences are becoming so visible that it is necessary for them to ramp up the media cloud machine and invent new ways in which free speech can be suppressed.

    The political battles are fought at a reasonably high level of abstraction, if that's the right word. However, none of the big, big problems seem amenable to sweet reason or the lessons of history. European immigration madness seems as clear as day to me and a lot of clear-thinking people but the apparent majority seem to be impervious to the facts.

    It's interesting to improve one's knowledge of history, economics, etc., but more and more it seems like there is a deep moral sickness that afflicts too many people. That sickness is probably the wish to live life partially or completely at the expense of others. I'm sure you know the expression that it's useless to try to persuade a man of something if his job depends on his believing the opposite.

    Anyway, if people made a commitment to acquire and demonstrate good manners that would lead to more human happiness than six months of lectures on socialist economics. Or Middle East politics.

    Julia Gorin is another woman to read for insight into the Balkans.

    Who can argue with your demand that we be presented with the facts (so we can make up our own minds)? That particular point is a sore one with me on the "Assad must go" issue. A lot of people talk about their belief that he should go but I've yet to see a bill of particulars against the man to convince me or anyone else that he's the embodiment of evil.

    On the issue of sources, I believe strongly that what any person says on any issue is to be evaluated on its merits. To take Europe as an example of the wrong approach, the least departure from the position of the ruling elite on immigration, nationalism, or Islam, e.g., is instantly met with an attempt to obfuscate by trotting out the charge of "racism," "bigotry," or "Nazi." It's such a dishonest tactic that I think it is imperative that we not permit such tactics. David Duke, Louis Farrakhan, Rev. Wright, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Donald Trump and a host of others have something to say. Maybe matters extraneous to the substance of what people say can have some bearing on the substance. More often than not unscrupulous people raise these extraneous matters as the sole determinant of who is or is not an acceptable participant in any public debate. Of course, I am not implying that your or Reg are in that category.

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  12. Wow, it's great to see such informative mannered debate, discussion and discourse. I could not in good conscience vote for a morally corrupt neocon such as Hillary and was drawn to Trump for his "drain the swamp" message. Interestingly, the day after the election we have several neocons in varied publications Time for instance telling the American public Israels' interests and Americas' interests are the same, most notably that Assad must go and that Syria should be broken up. Our "interests" are not the same. ISIS an American, Saudi and Israeli creation must be destroyed but Assad must stay. There is no US necessity to dethrone Assad unless we are following the neocon con of the Yinon plan. If we are, we are only setting the stage for Ww3. Is it necessary to support a fascist coup in Ukraine? Is it necessary to sanction Russia into oblivion? Is it necessary to amass troops on the borders of Russia? I think not. Trump ran on an isolationist message and destroying ISIS. Are we now to understand that we will just continue down the path of mutually assured destruction just because the dual nationalist neoconservatives and their minions tell us to do so? Trump won in large part because 90% of the electorate is opposed to more war, both parties agree at least the people not holding office. Remember, this election was not won by Republicans or Democrats but an amalgam of the two revolting against the establishment policies both domestic and "foreign."

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Comments are moderated. I am entirely arbitrary about what I allow to appear here. Toss me a bomb and I might just toss it back with interest. You have been warned.