Recent Comments

  • Syria: Turkey Begins Military Operation against US-Allied Kurds in Afrin (5)
    • I suppose you know, professor, that the neo-Ottomanists consider this area and Western Iraq theirs. THey and the "Eurasianists" are more powerful in Anjara after the coup, according to Turkish analysts I read. My sense is that I don't know how much this is show and how much, with all the mosques praying today for Conquest, this is game on.
      He's about as nuts as Trump, but without any of the brakes that still sort of occasionally work in the US

  • European Parliament backs Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050 (2)
  • 10,000 Deaths Later Germany Bars Arms Sales to Yemen Attackers (1)
    • So when is the US going to do the honorable thing, and stop arms sales to Yemen, and also to Israel. and other nations that kill innocent civilians?

  • The worst thing about Year One of Trump: Fascistization of Cable News (17)
    • I think you've nailed it. The Presidency has become the ultimate reality show. Trump had 100% name recognition at the start of the campaign, unheard of for a challenger. Oprah makes an impassioned speech at an awards show and there is a boomlet for her to run. Previous research has shown that much of voting is on the basis of likeability. When people don't know the candidates well, then name recognition becomes crucial. Policy hardly matters anymore. It's enough to make a policy wonk, such as myself, be driven to despair.

    • Humans were never meant to live in societies this complex. They were never meant to live surrounded by strangers who could only be trusted via mass conformity. However, we were handling it into the 20th Century. William Greider claimed that his prairie-populist forebears were quite sophisticated about the conflicts between farmers and monopolists because they saw the problems first-hand. What Marx called the alienation of labor was also the complication of the economy so that no worker could really see his role in the end products, only management, which reduced his confidence in challenging the latter over how society must be run in order to maintain productivity. Everything has been made too complicated on purpose, so that only a corporation with compartmentalized morality united only by profit can act effectively. The rest of us are reduced to bystanders in our own work and consumption. That can't possibly be good for our political consciousness.

    • "The search for ratings and advertising dollars above all is very dangerous. CNN’s Jeff Zucker put Trump on every night in summer of 2016, letting him speak directly to the public for an hour or more with no journalistic adult in the room. Trump attracted an audience, which allowed CNN to charge advertisers more." -J. Cole

      It seems therefore, that the problem is a capitalist, corporate media that prioritizes profit above providing the information so that people can make informed decisions about important issues affecting their lives. In short, the problem is capitalism.

      And, my old saying is that unfettered capitalism leads inevitably to fascism.

    • A good article ... MUST reading!
      When every editor and journalist commit to these practices we will have a much better informed citizenry!

  • With Marijuana Legal, L.A. Makes Amends for damage of the War on Drugs (2)
    • Finally, sanity might be returning to America regarding marijuana. The scales have fallen from the eyes of so many and we now understand how the so-called "War on Drugs" was all along a war on minorities. The next step is the elimination of all criminal penalties for the possession and use of any drug, period. Drug abuse, whether opioids or aspirin, is a public health problem calling for education and treatment, not incarceration.

  • The worst thing about Year One of Trump: Fascistization of Cable News (17)
    • The House Republicans control the funding of NPR and PBS. In the 90's they started the tactic of threatening to cut funding. Trump threatened their funding in 2016. The threat is enough to keep them timid.
      Many in the US are looking at the "both sides" false equivalency reporting that has distorted issues, including the NYT. They have also identified the endless times the White House occupant puts out outrageous comments to distract the press from the vile deeds the administration is commiting to tear down our institutions.
      Its recommended to ignore tweets and look at deeds and issues. I think this is critical to keeping focus where it belongs.

    • Oftentimes, there is no *one* truth. Those that control the narrative control the perceptions of truth. It falls to all of us to investigate and share our own perceptions of what’s true.

  • Russia accuses US of destabilizing Syria with Kurdish-Turkish Clash (18)
    • Two salient events were "game changers" in the civil war:

      In late 2013, the Free Syrian Army was close to severing the Latakia-to-Damascus supply corridor when the U.S. cut off arms shipments to the FSA, resulting in the Baathist forces winning several subsequent battlefield victories that ensured the viability of that vital supply corridor to allow the government in Damascus to survive. At the Geneva II Conference several months later, the Assad regime's emissary smugly refused to discuss any substantive issues, much to the consternation of the chief mediator.

      The second major turning point was the Russian intervention, which gave Assad the added military boost - especially overwhelming air power - that was needed to maintain offensive operations in key rebel-controlled areas.

      The re-capture of Aleppo - Syria's most populous municipality - by the Syrian Arab Army with significant Russian support was a decisive military and psychological defeat for the rebels.

      Bashaar Assad is now emerging as a national hero in some circles within Syria and his face is now appearing on Syrian monetary currency in recognition of his status as an honored leader who has survived and now has largely prevailed in a civil war that has gone on for six years.

      That said, the Free Syrian Army and other rebel forces - some Salafist in orientation still control large segments of Syrian territory where the populace is vehemently anti-Baathist. The Daraa Governorate south of Damascus is an example where the FSA repulsed a vigorous military offensive by the Syrian Arab Army despite both Russian and Hezbollah support given to the Baathists.

  • The worst thing about Year One of Trump: Fascistization of Cable News (17)
    • I think it's less the inverted pyramid or the fascistization model: it's the celebrity model. For decades, US news has been shifted, shifting, and now dominated by news about celebrities: whether in sports, media, or just plain wealth. And so Trump leads, and everything else can pile up in the back room.

    • FAUXNews, Twitter and Facebook are all the enemies of FACT and TRUTH!

    • For many, many years, management of perspectives (most effectively done by the management of context) for good or evil has been the crux of the matter.

      A fine case can be made that The People are by their nature too uninvolved (and whatever), and are also too prone to manipulation to be responsibly enfranchised. Responsible journalism with a fresh approach to its responsibilities would go a long ways to help ameliorate things.

      Propaganda, and the success of fake news, depends on the manipulation of context, and that's precisely what the traditional model engenders. OTOH, practically speaking you MUST have a strong lede, otherwise your audience can neither identify the topic or be engaged by it. And, if its a subject they aren't already interested in, that burden is even more onerous.

      Properly identifying a problem is the essential first step to addressing any important issue, and this one is key, given how many TV sets are on purely for background noise in various waiting rooms, subliminally biasing audiences who are only half-listening to begin with. Thinking more deeply about this problem, and experimenting with ways to get around it, is where good effort could be very usefully spent.

  • Thousands protest for Women's Rights in Los Angeles, around Country (Video) (1)
    • Note to women and girls of America! - Republicans and Trumpsters don't care about you except to make it possible for the the long arm of the the law to be extended into your uteri.

  • The worst thing about Year One of Trump: Fascistization of Cable News (17)
  • European Parliament backs Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050 (2)
    • 2050 is too late, but it's still progress because they're breaking the mental barricade that says that government, and in this case the EU parallel government, must not take a position on such things, and we now have the means to bring it about a lot faster. If the decree is made, then it's not hard to do the math and realize how much money they save, and how much their balance of payments might be improved, by cutting out fossil fuel energy imports from outside the EU right away instead of 2050.

      There was an enormous drop in the price of offshore wind in the last couple of years in Europe as competitive suppliers matured - which hasn't happened in the US yet. This drop means that you can now run wind power from the North and ever-cheaper solar power from the South into one European grid. So the next step is making a commitment to energy storage to balance those off. There is a proposal out there to create a huge artificial loch in Scotland that could hold enough pumped storage to perform that function all by itself for all the EU, but I figure the environmental destruction that it would cause is prohibitive. Instead, many lakes in Scotland, Norway, Switzerland, etc. will be considered, pretty much any existing dam. Europe is lucky to have mountain ranges all over it from the wind power zone to the solar power zone. Batteries only need to enter into it on the level of local solar mini-grids.

      The next step after that is for the EU to commit to decarbonization of transport, which means accepting that diesel was a mistake and working to rapidly eliminate the urban health hazards it has exacerbated. Germany is the problem here. Its car companies have been shown in an expose by Der Spiegel to have formed a technological cartel, coordinating a slower pace for technological improvements to save money while presenting a joint face to the world that their technology is the best. Thus it's not surprising that their hybrid cars are kind of a joke, with electric-only range so short that they really only function as substitutes for diesel cars that they know will be banned soon. The diesel scandal has now embarrassed them into taking all-battery cars more seriously, but not in the lower price categories where a breakthrough is badly needed to wipe out diesel in the cities. A big EU push for shared self-driving car services might change everything.

  • The worst thing about Year One of Trump: Fascistization of Cable News (17)
    • This is why I no longer listen to NPR, and why I will never donate to them again. Throughout the campaign, they gave equal time to Hillary voters and to trump voters, as if the views of both were equally valid, morally and ethically. Then, no followup analysis or critique. — I am disgusted beyond the point of return now. The US is now a corporate entity, putting the profits of its overlords over people and the planet.

    • To my knowledge all MSM “journalists” are corrupted typists: I never heard a MSM “journalist” in an open discussion with a politician or anyone else on the alleged atomic power of the State of Israel, a central issue in the ME and in the survival of the Human and other species.

    • I know we should respect our president, but I'm beginning to think that Trump is a tall and somewhat portly version of a mynah bird. He says what he's heard most recently and/or most loudly.

      I feel for the poor Trump defender who has to swing back and forth on the issues as Trump does his 180's. Like he was right to ask for a bipartisan solution that saved the Dreamers (whom he personally pushed of the cliff), and he was right to angrily reject the bipartisan solution, and toss in the "shitholes". Balance that.

      What the big mynah says is the least important aspect of his presidency. If the media concentrated on what he does, they would have a much better story, exposing the cruelty and indifference with which he regards, the working class, people of color, immigrants. and anyone living in North Korea.

    • You've identified a key dynamic that has allowed the news organizations to be essentially co-opted by more and more extreme versions of the right. What I don't see is a counter-dynamic that works in the opposite direction. This suggests a rather dismal prognosis.

    • Q: Why did its creators choose the name 'Fox News'?
      A: They knew that the vast majority of their viewers would not be able to spell 'Völkischer Beobachter"!

    • Hang on a minute, John, whilst the right wing press as you put it, obviously played a part in Brexit, it was former prime minister David Cameron who started the ball rolling and did so for his own selfish ends. I thought the broadcast media was if anything biased in favour of the remain point of view and seeing as far more people take their news from TV and radio, surely the result should have been to remain in the EU. The same thing could be said for the Trump debacle although for different reasons. Far be it for me to defend the right wing press and I'm not doing so here, but I think there was far more going on than just blaming the newspapers.

    • There is a similar problem here in the UK, but with our newspapers dominated by the right (indeed, the extreme right) wing. Our TV and radio news outlets are still governed by a doctrine of fairness (of the sort Reagan did away with in the US). That is why there has been such fierce opposition to Rupert Murdoch's attempts to buy the 61% of Sky TV that he does not yet own. Even our right-wing government has baulked at this and ordered an inquiry into it. The right-wing press here has already done huge damage to the nation by promoting the insane campaign to leave the European Union; damage that may never be undone.

  • Russia accuses US of destabilizing Syria with Kurdish-Turkish Clash (18)
    • Mark, according to Airwars the US killed 6,000 civilians in Syria in 2017 alone and a good proportion of those would have been children. Now consider the US-supported war on Yemen and think of the _millions_ of kids starving to death right now. Or think back to the Iraq sanctions imposed by the US that killed half a million kids while Saddam was in power.

      What makes you think that the US government cares how many non-US kids die whether by shrapnel, gas, starvation or cholera?

    • Does anyone seriously imagine that there is actually anything resembling an "American policy" in the Middle East any more? Tillerson is sidelined; McMaster is befuddled; Mattis is elsewhere; and Trump is clueless. What policy?

      What is actually going on is the echos of Obama and Bush-era policies, reeling out on autopilot. The Generals are left to their own devices, with men on the ground, but no orders- and no orders to pack up and leave, either.

      Hence the absurd 30,000-man Kurdish border force. The Pentagon stuck in the region tries to think of something for its men in the region to actually do. And come up with something that provokes the Turks into setting about dismantling Syria. Good work, guys!

      It's not that a fool is in charge. In actual fact, no one is in charge.

  • US to Renew Internet Surveillance Program Exposed by Snowden (3)
    • And who will conduct the surveillance on those who are conducting the surveillance? Who is going to profit from this surveillance exercise? The Nasa is still thinking they can control the world..... Better read the history of the Roman empire and they will see that overstretching military power leads to collapse of the empire

  • Trump as the Termite-in-Chief boring away at Global American Influence (2)
  • Syria: Turkey Begins Military Operation against US-Allied Kurds in Afrin (5)
  • Russia accuses US of destabilizing Syria with Kurdish-Turkish Clash (18)
    • You list these events in isolation when they need to be put in a time line and within context. For example, at the beginning of the insurrection Assad looked very vulnerable as units of his own army turned against him. Thus a policy that made sense then made no sense later when Assad had Russian backing. As Professor Cole noted at the time, Russian backing with bases and air power completely changed the situation. Also, the power of the Kurds and ISIS waxed and waned over time. The complexities and differing forces will make for a good case study for future foreign policy historians.One thing is certain, getting involved in Syria was a loser from the beginning for the US, especially since it is nowhere near a vital interest. You would think that after Vietnam we would have learned that getting in the middle of a civil war is a bad idea.

  • Syria: Turkey Begins Military Operation against US-Allied Kurds in Afrin (5)
    • Are the 30,000 border security forces supported by the US ready to fight? It appears that the border is under attack. Or do they only guard the other border? Is the US now fighting a proxy war with a NATO Member State? This sounds like another expensive quagmire. Hope the women and children can escape unharmed.

  • Russia accuses US of destabilizing Syria with Kurdish-Turkish Clash (18)
    • I also have a problem with the idea of games, especially when policy makers speak about "chess moves." There is a philosophical problem, as you note, but the dangers attendant this sort of arrogance go quite a bit deeper.

      The only things newtonian in these matters are the immediate results that (may) directly result when a particular trigger is pulled. It is not just that the permutations are incalculable, but that the eventual results are inconceivable.

  • With Marijuana Legal, L.A. Makes Amends for damage of the War on Drugs (2)
    • Legal cannabis saves lives. In jurisdictions where it is legal, there are very sharp declines in both opioid overdose and traffic fatalities,

  • Syria: Turkey Begins Military Operation against US-Allied Kurds in Afrin (5)
    • On Jan. 18, you wrote that Rex Tillerson is committed to forever war in Syria. It sounds like Erdogan is supporting Tillerson's policy of forever war. I am sure that the defense contractors are very pleased with Erdogan.

  • US to Renew Internet Surveillance Program Exposed by Snowden (3)
  • Turkey to deploy 60,000 soldiers in bases abroad, including in Qatar (1)
    • Afghans are hoping and lobbying for a significant increase in the number of Turkish trainers and advisers for the ANSF. Hope Turkey sends them.

      Libya would also like additional Turkish trainers. So would Nigeria, Mali, Niger, Philippines.

      I hope Turkey sends them.

  • Syria: Turkey Begins Military Operation against US-Allied Kurds in Afrin (5)
    • The irony here is that the CIA-backed Free Syrian Army may soon be fighting the Pentagon-backed YPG.

      The other irony is that ISIS had supplied Turkish commercial purchasers with oil shipments sold at a discount and, also, there were suspicions that Turkish intelligence agencies were assisting ISIS due to the fact ISIS was battling the Kurds in Rojava.

  • Russia accuses US of destabilizing Syria with Kurdish-Turkish Clash (18)
    • "What a mess."

      I recall during media coverage of the Vietnam War, U.S. Army doctors would be shown to go into villages and provide treatment to injured Vietnamese children.

      I also remember the American servicemen who evacuated thousands of Vietnamese children during Operation Babylift on orders of President Ford as Saigon was falling.

      In Syria, the salient images of children are lurid. The photo of the body of a toddler, Alan Kurdi, washing up on a beach, won several photojournalist awards. The picture of a father holding the bodies his two twin infant sons killed in a poison gas attack was published shortly before President Trump ordered a missile attack of a nearby Syrian army base.

      Unlike Vietnam, the U.S. government has given little to help Syrian children victimized by the war.

    • The American public will likely never know for years - if ever - how deep U.S. involvement was in fomenting dissent and arming Syrian rebels against the Assad regime as well as having operatives within Syria.

      The covert operation labeled Operation Timber Sycamore - which has never been declassified - was revealed through the fine investigative reporting of the New York Times.

      We know it was encouraged by PM Netanyahu and that Israel was one of the "partners" of the operation based near Amman, Jordan that sought the toppling of the Baathist regime in Damascus. We know that Israel gave support in various ways to the al-Nusra Front and bombed arms depots within Syria in air strikes.

      It appears that Operation Timber Sycamore was largely funded by Saudi Arabia but organized by the U.S.

      Some of the more controversial allegations about U.S. conduct in Syria:

      (A) the U.S. State Department funneled several million dollars through the Los Angeles-based NGO known as Democracy Council to "promote democracy" in Syria (i.e. transmit media broadcasts from dissidents to foment anti-Assad demonstrations);

      (B) per the Washington Post, had CIA undercover officers in Damascus carry out the car bomb killing of Hezbollah intelligence chief Imad Moughnieh in Damascus in 2008 in a joint U.S.-Israeli covert operation reportedly personally approved by President Bush shortly before his second term ended;

      (C) the U.S. via inadequate oversight, allowed substantial arms shipments administered by Jordanian intelligence services earmarked for the Syrian rebels to be pilfered by Jordanian agents and resold on the black market;

      (D) The Central Intelligence Agency had "contractor" personnel within Syria and the Trump administration recently - per a Reuters article - had to send an envoy to Syria to meet with the regimes Baathist intelligence chief in Damascus to discuss the fate of missing CIA operatives - who are these operatives, what were they doing inside Syria, and how many remain missing?

      There needs to be a Congressional investigation initiated on the foreign policy failures of the Obama administration as to Syria.

    • Susan Rice overruled John Brennan - with President Obama's support - in shifting the focus of the U.S. State Department and intelligence community from toppling Assad from power in Damascus - to defeating ISIS.

      By allying U.S. forces with Kurdish factions in Rojava, the Obama administration made several foreign policy blunders:

      (A) they sent U.S. Army Rangers into combat zones wearing the Red Star symbol associated with Marxism on shoulder patches to commemorate their alliance with the ideologically leftist Kurdish units - until Pentagon officials realized how foolish this appeared and ordered those patches removed;

      (B) the joining of forces with Kurds in Rojava infuriated Turkish leaders as the Kurds have in the past fought a guerilla war against the Turkish government - a member of NATO - and the Turkish authorities have imprisoned many Kurdish nationalists who supported insurrection against Turkey;

      (C) the Baathist government in Damascus largely avoided armed conflict with ISIS in the preceding years and focused their military assaults on the Free Syrian Army and non-ISIS Salafist brigades that also were fighting ISIS - meaning that American-led attacks on ISIS benefitted the Assad regime by freeing up Syrian Arab Army resources to ramp up military pressure against U.S.-backed Syrian rebel forces;

      (D) causing serious rifts within the U.S. State Department as many staffers openly felt that the U.S. should be applying military pressure to defeat the Baathist regime in Damascus - who have armed Hezbollah and committed, via the regime's security forces, human rights violations on a massive scale within Syria;

      (E) the policy decision of the Obama administration entailed the unpopular move of placing "boots on the ground" of the U.S Armed Forces in a combat zone.

      Certainly there is much to cheer about the demise of ISIS within Syria - but the corresponding cost in further empowering President Assad cannot be overlooked nor can the fact that we have committed our nation's servicemen in a nation embroiled in a civil war - as we did in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • US to Renew Internet Surveillance Program Exposed by Snowden (3)
    • When our government conducts mass WARRANTLESS SPYING on it's own citizens WITHOUT JUSTIFICATION our government leadership is •••king UNAMERICAN and cowardly self-serving bully-bait.

      Afraid of being called "weak on terrorism and crime."

      Sad.

  • Russia accuses US of destabilizing Syria with Kurdish-Turkish Clash (18)
    • This is probably a first--we have put ourselves into a position where we may end up being attacked by a NATO ally. US Middle East policy has become as entangled as the famed Gordian Knot. US involvement in Syria has turned into everything I feared and more. There is no way for the US to get out of this without some damage. We can leave and alienate the Kurds, or stay and alienate the Turks and the Russians and put our troops at risk for what? What a mess.

    • Future generations should make Libya and Syria case studies in how external countries (Iran, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United States) and the ruling authorities (Assad in particular) broke international and human rights laws and turned formally stable countries into humanitarian catastrophes. For today, these external countries need to sit and talk. None of them are going to achieve their maximal aims. Iran and Russia can't turn Syria into a colony (though what influence they have in Syria will likely be a lot given the situation). Turkey has to face the reality that the sheer number of Kurds in Syria and Iraq will enable them to act either as king makers in Iraq or extremely autonomous in their local governing environments. My country, the US, needs to come to terms with the reality that American military prowess has not given it the ability to project power across the Near East in a fashion that topples rulers without deeply negative repercussions for the civilian lives there. It also isn't in our economic and social interest to have dogs or bet on dogs in fights that are of absolutely no interest to us.

      In what capacity does giving people (local Kurds) military training help us? If the past eight years are any guide it hasn't helped us in any capacity... The best action to stabilize both countries is form negations that work to stabilize both Syria and Iraq.

    • Thanks for the update. I hate using the term 'a big game' to refer to these conflicts, especially when so many lives are at stake and it's not a 'game' to the poor people, but often that is how it comes off with these regional and global powers.

      The situation currently is most awful unfortunately for the Kurds, though, what is new, like most other Syrians? I'm afraid the Turks will also not show restraint towards the Kurdish civilians, like they've shown in earlier bloody operations against local Kurdish populations in Turkey.

      Whether it's the Syrian Kurds or Iraqi Kurds, or even the ones in Iran and Turkey, it feels like they're on the edge of losing out big time. Sadly, there is no good side in all of this, just lesser of evils.

    • Thanks Faheem. No, I don't know much Russian. I was depending on BBC Monitoring.

  • Trump Admin Commits to Forever War in Syria against Iran (14)
  • Radical White Terrorists committed Most 2017 Killings in US (2)
  • Not Fighting Climate Change cost $1.5 Trillion Last Year & it is only the Beginning (3)
    • The combined tailpipes and chimneys of the human race are rapidly MELTING THE ••••ING POLAR ICECAPS!

      Yet, those who EVISCERATE our planet continue to manipulate "DENIERS" into carrying their planet killing mind-poison for them. And in return charges them a fee to do it.

      Sad.

  • Russia accuses US of destabilizing Syria with Kurdish-Turkish Clash (18)
  • A Second Korean War, this Time with Nukes? (1)
    • The previous nuclear war crisis of this nature was the Cuban Missile Crisis which lasted only 13 days. Trump has managed to make this unnecessary nuclear crisis on-going.

      Solely because he wants the full attention of the world on HIMSELF!

  • Radical White Terrorists committed Most 2017 Killings in US (2)
  • Russia accuses US of destabilizing Syria with Kurdish-Turkish Clash (18)
    • Trump is obviously outsourcing this to Tillerson but how does this new strategy match with his professed campaign ambition to reduce the US global footprint? It's clear that we don't have enough resources on the ground to make this work. I'd love to believe in sugar fairies but the "policy" is just more wishful thinking. Sounds like a recipe for a future quagmire. Hope I'm wrong.

    • Iran’s Students News Agency (ISNA) has just reported that Turkish forces have launched extensive operations in Afrin. The Turkish defense minister has said that the operations have started and that Turkey is continuing its talks with Russia and Iran. Russia may be unhappy about those operations and Syria has threatened that it would shoot down Turkish planes if they attack, but I believe that, on balance, all of them including Iran are happy about the serious rift that has developed between the United States and its NATO ally. The fact that Turkey is in contact with both Russia and Iran shows that there is some understanding between them, especially as America’s main aim was to block Iran’s access to Syria.

  • Trump Admin Commits to Forever War in Syria against Iran (14)
    • Having brooded on this notion overnight, I am confirmed in it. It's very economical in time, energy, and brain (sic) activity. You announce your plan, have the media spread it far and wide, lie on your bed (the Macdonald's is optional) and watch the responses flow back on three TV screens. Then you carry it through, modify it, or have it denied while you crack open another Coke. Who needs a State Department?

  • Russia accuses US of destabilizing Syria with Kurdish-Turkish Clash (18)
    • America’s sorry involvement in Syria has had two main aims, which boil down to one, namely to weaken and if possible to topple Bashar Assad in order to remove any threat to Israel, and to cut off Iran’s links with Syria and Lebanon, again to protect Israel. Trump has coopted Saudi Arabia in that cause too and wants to weaken Iran not only in Syria and Lebanon, but across the Middle East.

      With the intensely pro-Israeli stances of the current US administration, these aims have dwarfed any other strategy that the United States wishes to pursue in the region. So far, the result has been that it has strengthened Russia’s hand in Syria, and has driven Iran and recently Turkey and may be Iraq to Russia’s arms. America has spent billions of dollars, created mayhem in the Middle East and, so far, has failed in its aims to weaken Iran. The pronouncements by Secretary Tillerson who is supposed to be one of the adults in the room do not indicate any real change in that failed policy. So long as the blind support for the ultra-rightwing Israeli regime at any cost continues this policy will sow discord and violence throughout the Middle East with little to show for it.

    • Surely the USA can't win the war for IS or Al Qaida with 3000 troops on the ground and 30.000 Kurdish forces. It stays in Syria, in defiance of international law, to spoil the Russian and Assad's victory against the terrorists, to make it more difficult for Assad to rebuild the country -- the Kurds are claiming about half of Syria's oil --, and to make it more expensive for Iran to arm Hizbollah. But I am not surprised. What the US has been fighting for for the past two decades is for wars to continue without end, not for peace. Endless wars swell the coffers of the arm manufacturers and of the Senators and Congressmen who are on their payroll. War is a good business for America. Who cares for the thousand Syrians that will die in this senseless slaughter? Certainly not the USA leadership.

  • As US throws Kurds under the Bus, Is Turkey preparing to invade Syria? (11)
    • .
      Hizb'Allah was pretty effective in fighting ISIS.
      Didn't the YPG Kurds wait out the fighting several times as part of their negotiations with their US backers ?
      .

  • Russia accuses US of destabilizing Syria with Kurdish-Turkish Clash (18)
    • Professor Sahib,

      Do you know Russian too? I did not know that, however I did know that you knew Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Turkish and French. Russian is regarded to be among the most difficult languages on the planet. And you know it too. Your scholarship is simply staggering. How did you learn everything in just so many years?

  • As US throws Kurds under the Bus, Is Turkey preparing to invade Syria? (11)
    • Perhaps the other thing that needs to be considered is Turkey's internal situation. Erdogan needs a win. He can get that by getting the US and Russia to say they will not allow the creation if a Kurdish state in Syria.
      Assad won't allow it. Russia has no interest in allowing it when Assad is their client. Trump is not going to push for it.
      The fact that it was never on the table doesn't matter in Turkey because even the "respectable" writers at Hurriyet are in war-cry mode against the Kurdish-State-Existential-Threat on the southern border. These guys always wind up doing Erdogan's bidding (that's why they're not in jail), and it plays with the rubes.

    • I posted this comment a week ago to another article here:

      It seems to me that one of the primary goals of the US, UK, Israel and Saudi (GCC) in Syria was to eliminate how Iran uses Iraq and Syria as a pathway towards Lebanon and to the Mediterranean. If the US or its proxies control eastern Syria, won't the US coalition have achieved this goal?

  • Trumpist UK Thugs waving US Flags try to Apprehend London's Muslim Mayor (12)
    • As someone recently wrote, "Prof. Cole, rightly regarded as one of the most insightful, fact focused, reliable of the critics."

      Thank you.

  • Trump Admin Commits to Forever War in Syria against Iran (14)
  • As US throws Kurds under the Bus, Is Turkey preparing to invade Syria? (11)
    • Landis has a different take
      link to joshualandis.com
      and it is possible that US and Russia are keeping Erdogan pinballing like a grad student whose committee has no intention of passing him or failing him out.
      As Semih Idiz notes, none of Turkey's Syrian interlocutors are tolerable to the US or Russia.
      link to al-monitor.com
      THo sitting back and letting the Russian-supplied Syrians shoot down TC jets is strategically not a bad deal for the US.

  • Its Central Council calls on PLO to de-Recognize Israel, cease Security Cooperation (2)
    • Suspending recognition of Israel is both logical and reasonable.

      Demanding Israel's "right to exist" has always been a major theme of the Zionist narrative, but what exactly does this mean?

      The right to a Jewish National Home, or a Jewish State? The right to exist on 1948 Mandate Palestine or within pre-1967 borders? Does it mean the right to exist as a “Jewish” State or a “Democratic” State?

      Even though Israelis themselves cannot agree on what this “right to exist” means, the dispossessed Palestinians must unilaterally declare "Israel’s" (whatever that means) “right to exist” (whatever that means), and the very legitimacy of their dispossession and expulsion WITHOUT qualification, before they can even be considered "worthy" of being spoken to?

      But there can be NO discussion whatsoever about a reciprocal "recognition" of Palestine? Nor apparently can there be any reciprocity in the demand that the parties "renounce violence."

      It is both illogical and unreasonable that Palestine's recognition must be conditioned upon "negotiations," but Israel's recognition must be unconditional even BEFORE negotiations?

      The well-intentioned should not buy into these canards, nor should they be an obstacle to peace negotiations. Joint recognition will follow, not precede, agreement on borders and other issues.

  • Trump Admin Commits to Forever War in Syria against Iran (14)
    • I don't know that I completely agree with the headline here, which is based upon remarks made by Rex Tillerson. I often wonder if Trump and Tillerson ever even talk together, because they are only rarely on the same page. How often do we see one of them making a policy statement, only to be contradicted by the other? Then, when we throw Nikki Haley into mix, you never know what kind of witch's brew will ultimately emerge. Sometimes I wonder if they do this deliberately, just to keep our heads spinning .... and their options open??? Is absolutely everything from them merely trial balloons? Heck, I don't know.

    • Given that none of our policies have borne positive fruit, we need to seriously reassess just what is the point? We've spent so much money and the return on our supposed investment is negative. For too long we've harbored delusional notions that in another year or two our policies in the Near East will prove successful. It hasn't.

      China is investing heavily in Pakistan, Africa, and South East Asian countries. The return on their investments certainly won't be negative. If anything, the short-term and long-term results on their investments will be tremendous.

      It just doesn't make any sense. Let's be smart. We need to give up on policies that have no theoretical basis for working, are against international and human rights laws, and have time and time again proven detrimental to our economic and social interests. (Not to mention the harm that has come of our foreign policies in the Near East to the actual people living there).

    • Thanks Juan. This is uplifting . A nightmare of ignorance rules as the US sinks into darkness.Lets hope 2018 elections will bring in some light.

    • Note, too, that Tillerson sat on stage next to the war criminal sponsor of "the new Middle East," Condi Rice.
      Going by all concepts of international law, US forces in Syrian sovereign territory are invaders and occupiers.

  • Impeachable Offense? Trump golfs while Hawaiians endure Nuclear Panic (20)
    • The issue is the lack of an ALL CLEAR message for hours. Trump's appointed FCC has the ultimate authority and control over these communications or lack thereof.

      The ONLY conspiracy is not "another example of the US government keeping its citizens 'fearful' and compliant." But the abysmal incompetence of the Trump maladministration.

  • Trump Admin Commits to Forever War in Syria against Iran (14)
    • This post only gives a hint of how illuminating and productive a more patient and thorough dismantling could be, of what purports to be a major policy speech with immense consequences. Don't get me wrong, you'll get a lot of huzzahs for this post. But, if you or someone else had the time and patience to organize a good solid 5000 word (?) piece with a more polished presentation appropriate for something like FP, I cannot help but think it could go far to unmask the sheer undeniable incompetence of these people.

    • Well, the OCCUPATION of Iraq went great.

      Didn't it?

    • but surely our Good Friend and NATO ally (tm) Turnkey wouldn't turn on our troops, right? I mean, that would be crazy, wouldn't it? (sarcasm)

    • "Tillerson lionizes the rebels who rose up against it." Yes, lionizing them has been very effective against Assad's missiles and bombs.

    • Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, creator of Alibaba, said this last year in Davos.

      "The U.S. has wasted over $14 trillion in fighting wars over the past 30 years rather than investing in infrastructure at home."

      To be sure, Ma is not the only critic of the costly U.S. policies of waging war against terrorism and other enemies outside the homeland. Still, Ma said this was the reason America's economic growth had weakened, not China's supposed theft of jobs.

      Lindsey Graham still wants to send 5000 US troops into Syria. The neocons never learn.

    • It appears a characteristic of the Trump regime to float purposes in a manner that makes them appear firm, encouraging media and commentators to spread them widely like fertilizer, only to modify or deny them later according to the response. One recent example is this business of denying funds to UNRWA, which deals specifically with Palestinian refugees. That looked pretty clear cut when Nikki Haley announced it. However, two days ago the DOS had quite a different perspective on the issue with their spokesperson saying that $60 million committed for 2018 was not included and the other $65 million was only being held for future consideration. It’s money that’s being frozen at this time. It’s not being cancelled. It’s just being held for future consideration. She also insisted link to state.gov this was entirely part of a DOS efficiency study of the UN to make sure that the money is best spent and nothing whatsoever to do with politics. My comment here is not actually off topic because we could well be seeing the same thing with Tillerson on Syria. It's almost as if, in the absence of the diplomats who have 'fled the State Department', Trump floats his ideas on the big wide world instead.

    • Seventy-plus years of serious consideration of world affairs just drops off a cliff, just suddenly and inexplicably drops into a near-impossible sinkhole, like that little girl in Texas 25 years ago.

      The Chinese must be laughing, the Russians and Turks are likely rubbing their hands in preparation for desired selfish outcomes they mean to create. All the other local actors in the whole region are realizing that America is no longer worthy of interest or consideration as an actor in regional balance of power.

      Especially if the current 2000 American "advisors" and/or the 30,000 leftist Kurds they might train are unfortunately wiped out by Turkish and/or Russian and/or Syrian campaigns ...

  • Turkey threatens war against US/Kurdish Force in Syria (14)
    • I think that this ongoing US/SDF alliance is a long time in the making. Why would the Syrian Kurds sacrifice so many young fighters so far from their traditional homelands if not for some kind of guarantee of protection after the defeat of ISIS. Also, why would the US expend so many resources to conquer all of Syria east of the Euphrates if only to turn it over to Assad after the defeat of ISIS? I think there's probably been an unspoken agreement all along and that the new autonomous regions of Eastern Syria will serve as a reliable way to control the bulk of Syria's oil resources, tamp down a resurgence of Salafi-Jihadists and to block the expansion of Russian/Iranian influence in the area.

  • Not Fighting Climate Change cost $1.5 Trillion Last Year & it is only the Beginning (3)
    • Note that many of the heavy polluters in the Midwest are doing the exact opposite of what trump wants because they remember the many lawsuits they lost when the states downwind sued in the 1970s.

      Right now the eastern states are gearing up to sue the USA EPA and the Midwest states again, so companies are trying to get ahead of the suits and change their businesses to minimize the damage.

      That is, coal plants are being removed from service as quickly as the companies can do it.

      Basically, economic REALITY is making trump decisions moot and meaningless.

      I suspect that eventually companies are going to get tired of being in court a lot and will lean on congress to create something like EPA-2 that the president can't side-step.

  • As US throws Kurds under the Bus, Is Turkey preparing to invade Syria? (11)
    • Are these some of the Kurdish forces that the Canadians trained and worked with as well? If so, I wonder where the Canadian government stands after investing so much in developing a well trained and more professional Kurdish forces that were by far the most effective in taking ISIS out of the areas the Kurds fought to free.

  • Its Central Council calls on PLO to de-Recognize Israel, cease Security Cooperation (2)
    • This is fantastic news. It’s about time someone voiced out their rejection towards Israel, a terrorist fake country. I too will stand by the PLO and any other party/countries etc that rejects the murder, killings, occupation, illegal settling, Palestinians in Israeli jails, house demolishing, hypocrital ways of Israel and America. We all need to stand as one and unite against any oppression in the world. This is the time.

  • As US throws Kurds under the Bus, Is Turkey preparing to invade Syria? (11)
    • "...It is surrounded on both sides by Arab populations, some of them aligned with strongly anti-Kurdish hard line Salafi fundamentalists. Syrian Kurds are for the most part Sunni Muslims, but either they practice mystical Sufi traditions or they have become modern leftists. In either case, the Salafi militants hate them."

      Hopefully there are no divisive Syrian Kurds that have been influenced by the Salafists and joining their ranks instead, unlike what was alleged in Iraq.

      In some of Rania Khalek's pieces last year, there were claims, by Yazidis, that there were a few number of Iraqi Kurd fighters, some that may have actually willingly fought with Daesh (the extreme Sunni Islamist cult, which had international and different ethnic recruits, not just local Arabs) but were allowed back into the fold amongst the Kurdish population by Peshmerga and the then autonomous Kurdish government in Kirkuk.

      I remember she also gave an anecdote highlighting a prejudiced negative attitude by one random average conservative Sunni Kurd towards the Yazidis, which was said in the same religious (rather than just ethnic) overtones like many Sunni Arab Islamists.

  • Turkey threatens war against US/Kurdish Force in Syria (14)
    • Is this '30, 000-strong policing force' a re-organization of current YPG/US forces that hold the northeast, or new troops being raised?

      Is it the re-commitment of the US to the Kurds that most concerns Ankara or the actual increase in military power intended by the Kurds/US?

  • Not Fighting Climate Change cost $1.5 Trillion Last Year & it is only the Beginning (3)
  • As US throws Kurds under the Bus, Is Turkey preparing to invade Syria? (11)
    • " This police force"......
      Police force with MANPADs and heavy anti-tank weaponry to deter....Iranian tanks and helicopters in Northern Syria?

      These brave fighters with impeccable fighting record need to help US in Korea standoff, too. Next step is dangling NATO membership for these brave fighters with best mattresses in the world, followed by a potential EU membership.

      Hmmmm.

  • Iran says planned US-backed force inside Syria would fan war (1)
  • As US throws Kurds under the Bus, Is Turkey preparing to invade Syria? (11)
    • If our current administration were only capable of coherent thought, I'd make some sort of clever partition of Poland analogy. As it is, I don't know what the F is going on in this "shithole" region, and expect our "leaders" don't either...

    • Trump? Trump is aware of very little and in regard to policy he is a puppet of the far right. Regarding the military, Mattis and McMaster call all the shots with a little help from Kellys.

    • It's possible Trump doesn't know what to say about the growing crisis. It doesn't look as if it's progressing anyone's policy, but seems just to unfold under its own momentum from one situation to the next.. The proposed plan for 30,000 troops to police the Syria/Turkey border could be a considered and serious US intention or simply Colonel Dillon's wishful extension of a hypothetical assessment of what it would take to seal the border. Since Trump doesn't apparently read and reputedly has a minimal attention span it's highly unlikely he has much, if any, idea what is going on there. The ubiquitous 'anonymous senior Western official' floated, and several journals have taken it up, the notion the US is planning concrete diplomatic steps to recognise the northern Syrian territories governed by indigenous Kurds and Arabs link to basnews.com , a story which may have sprung from a piece in Jerusalem Post link to jpost.com It looks like another occasion for Putin to get behind the wheel because Trump isn't capable, nor does he seems to have appointed anyone around him who is.

  • Turkey threatens war against US/Kurdish Force in Syria (14)
    • The U.S.A. is always up for a war, regardless of the reason. it keeps their citizens minds off of their own problems. It is strange that the other countries want the Kurds to remain in their countries when the Kurds have no interest in doing so. why not let them go.

      The Kurds did a lot of heavy lifting during the war in Iraq, its time to pay them back and that ought not to be with a knife but rather their own country.

      The Kurds do seem like a much more reasonable people than some of the other countries such as Iraq, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Syria.

  • Washington State activists launch ‘Climate Countdown’ for Urgent Legislative Action (1)
    • Nice to see Americans working on this. The State of Washington is more progressive than other parts of the U.S.A. so its a great place to start. They sit on B.C.'s border so any progress the State of Washington makes will make things better in B.C.

      In Canada we will have carbon taxing. However much we work on reducing our emisions, we still have a country with 350 Million sitting next to us who has a federal government which is doing nothing beyond dismantling the environment and laws around it. About all enviornmentlsts can do in the U.S.A. is work within their State system for the time being.

  • As US throws Kurds under the Bus, Is Turkey preparing to invade Syria? (11)
    • Seems like Assad only has to sit back and watch as his frenemies remove the last obstacles to a united Syria.

  • Trump as the Termite-in-Chief boring away at Global American Influence (2)
    • The demise of US influence is utterly guaranteed because while the US makes war China does business. Paraphrasing, what the US spends billions destroying the Chinese will eagerly rebuild for profit.

      The US business model is thereby inferior and the petroyuan will speed the decline. Given Yemen, the Paris climate accords, etc, its moral authority is in negative territory which can only add momentum to the slide.

  • Turkey threatens war against US/Kurdish Force in Syria (14)
    • Has anyone ever thought about Kurdish identity ? Of course,they want to advance their own autonomy and hope for eventual independence.
      But while it is true that Kurdish identity is different from Arab, Turkish and Iranian identity,the relative distances are not equal. In cultural and linguistic terms Kurds have been more close to Persian Iranians--Iran being a multi-ethnic empire/nationstate--than to either Arabs or Turks. Indeed, classical Iranian nationalists consider their cultural identity to extend from Kurdistan in the West to Tajikistan in the East.
      So,to expect Kurds to "block" Iranian advances in Syria suggests ignorance of local attitudes.

    • I read an article about a year after the Crimean annexation and even native Russians there were disappointed with the aftermath. If you think that annexation of the Crimea to Russia was an organic operation, you need to read more broadly. While it was widely supported because most Crimeans are native Russians, it happened only because of Russian expansionism favored by Putin. Annexation of Crimea was an illegal act, as is US operations in Syria.

    • As I have maintained for some time, Syria has no strategic value to the US and we should not get involved in Syria at all. Unfortunately, interventionist ideology is transcendent in large areas of the foreign policy and defense policy establishments. Add to that a totally ignorant and incompetent administration and you have the recipe for disaster. And some people here before the election worried that Clinton was too hawkish in the Middle East. She was, but Trump is a total disaster.

  • Impeachable Offense? Trump golfs while Hawaiians endure Nuclear Panic (20)
    • "I propose that by declining immediately to refute the false alarm, Trump gave aid and comfort to North Korea, which has been attempting to play mind games with Hawaiians as part of its belligerent strategy toward the United States."

      Come on, Professor Cole -- You are better than this.

      A string of actions justifying at the least a vote in the House on impeachment?

      Absolutely.

      At the very least serious consideration by "the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide" of invoking the 25th Amendment?

      Absolutely.

      Giving aid and comfort to those who hold up any criticism of Trump as the work of, at best, nitwits?

      Please, no -- and most especially not from someone, as is Prof. Cole, rightly regarded as one of the most insightful, fact focused, reliable of the critics.

  • Turkey threatens war against US/Kurdish Force in Syria (14)
    • How could the US expect the Kurds to block Iranian supply lines to Syria and Hezbollah? Wouldn't that require that they operate further south, way outside of their area of influence?

  • Unused to Real Journalists, Trump envoy to Hague Stunned at Questions on his Bigoted Lies (Video) (1)
    • Pete Hoekstra, Trump's US Ambassador to the Netherlands, gets a free pair of Donald J. Trump Presidential kneepads made in Russia and autographed by Steven Miller.

      On June 22, 2006, Hoekstra made headlines by announcing at a press conference in the Capitol that weapons of mass destruction had been located in Iraq. Hoekstra was a founding member of the Congressional House Tea Party Caucus in 2010.

      Sending twisted individuals like Pieter Hoekstra to an allied foreign country merely floodlights the extreme right-wing SICKNESS of H8 that envelops too many in our once great country.

  • Impeachable Offense? Trump golfs while Hawaiians endure Nuclear Panic (20)
  • Turkey threatens war against US/Kurdish Force in Syria (14)
    • I have no problem in principle with the Kurds setting up their own government in majority Kurd regions. I supported the right of the people in Crimea to succeed from Ukraine after the coup there installed an obnoxious government.

      It will be interesting to see how many of the people that preached about the sacredness of national borders in the case of Crimea, take a position in favor of the Kurds separating from Syria. They can argue that the Syrian government is so obnoxious that it justifies succession. But that is in concept at least the reason why Crimea left Ukraine.

      They could argue that Russia interfered in the Crimea situation, but obviously the US is interfering in the Kurd situation.

      It turns out that sacred principles are very dependent on circumstances. But we have all known that for years.