John Helmer: US Strategy In The Middle East Is Dying, Along With Its Authors, Carter And Brzezinski; Putin, Al-Assad Get To Dance On Their Graves, David Ben-Gurion Too

By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears

“I wish I had sent one more helicopter to get the hostages,” former US president Jimmy Carter said at one of his farewell appearances in Atlanta recently, “and we would’ve rescued them, and I would’ve been re-elected.”

Compared to his predecessors and successors Carter was intellectually superior. He also didn’t suffer from the corruption of Bill Clinton, the untruthfulness of Barack Obama. But unlike all of them, Carter had an inferiority complex. It started with his career mentor, the Polish Jewish admiral Hyman Rickover, and ended with his national security advisor, the Polish Catholic Zbigniew Brzezinski. Their combination has produced the eventual destruction of the US positions in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and these days, Syria.

The other side to Carter’s complex is Carter’s and Brzezinski’s wishful thinking. Not their misjudgements have brought these defeats about, they say aloud. Why, they weren’t defeats at all, but victorious strategies missing just one increment of the force multiple, and costing the US little blood, affordable treasure. One more gunship in the sky, and their triumph would have been recognized for what it was. That’s to say, what they in their dodders think it was.

Brzezinski is saying the same thing. In an editorial for the Financial Times, published on Monday, Brzezinski claims “the Russian naval and air presences in Syria are vulnerable, isolated geographically from their homeland. They could be ‘disarmed’ if they persist in provoking the US.” When Brzezinski says he will disarm the Russian expeditionary force in Syria, he means to raise the force multiple on the US side until it is so large, he thinks it can either destroy the Russians, or force them to run away. That’s the US Sixth Fleet, above and below the surface of the Mediterranean; plus USAF and NATO units in their dozens deployed in Italy, Greece, Turkey, the Persian Gulf. To protect the command-and-control bunkers from which they run the Syrian war, and the resupply lines through which they run men, money and munitions, they must also take the air cover away from the Russians. With this week’s demonstration of Russian cruise missile firings from Russian territory, that’s a tall order. This is a shooting-match which, in order for the American side to run the Carter-Brzezinski risk record, must have a force multiple over the Russian arms of not less than 5 to 1; better 6 to 1, to be on the safe side.




Now exactly who at the Pentagon and at NATO headquarters is confidently calculating what the safe side of this multiple should be so that the plan to “disarm” the Russians will be more successful than the military walkover Carter and Brzezinski presided over in Iran on April 24, 1980?

Scratch presidential candidates of any party (or no party at all) at the start of the 2016 election campaign: they all know that foreign wars don’t win election votes, and hot, almost-world war with Russia —well, that’s off the polling scale. American blood isn’t affordable at election time – not the smallest drop, not of “volunteers”, “mercenaries”, not of US special forces or US regulars. Remember the calculus of the days when the Vietnam War was being lost – battlefield casualties + inflation + unemployment = death to presidential candidates

Take a close look then at the map of Syria, as drawn by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).


Source: Syria Crisis Map:

On to this map draw 300-km range lines from the Russian naval base at Tartus, running north and south along the coast, and eastwards inland. Cross out every ridge-line bunker in which US advisors guide Chechen, Arab, and other mercenaries to their targets; blind their electronics and jam their communications for calling in the air cover required to operate in force against the Syrian government forces; and train for operations in the Ukraine and Russian Caucasus, including Dagestan and Chechnya.

Draw 1,500-km lines from Russia, across Iranian and Iraqi territory, to every trail, track or road across which American dollars, arms and men can move. Destroy what is there right now, and imperil everything which may be moved to replace it.




Draw flight radiuses of Su-25 ground-attack fighters eastward and northward until they push the retreating and regrouping US army into the uncovered deserts, where the Kurds, Iranians and Iraqis are waiting to kill them all. This isn’t “hybrid warfare”, as described from the armchairs of Chatham House, London, or Freedom House, Washington. This is real warfare – and with a force multiple of several dozens or hundreds to one, in the Russian favour for the time being.

So the question becomes — how much time is there for the time being? That’s to say, how long must the US army on the ground wait before Carter’s extra helicopter will arrive, plus Bzrezinski’s “disarming” cavalry? Or, to put the question more urgently, how much time do the men on the ground have before they must run away to save their lives? The question received its answer overnight from Alexander Goltz, the Moscow-based military analyst for the NATO Defense College: “Russia has asked [the US] to remove all American instructors [in Syria], and I suspect that it will be done.” For Goltz’s record as the NATO military observer on the ground in Moscow, read this.

Goltz’s acknowledgement means that unless the NATO defence ministers decide this afternoon and evening to go to war with Russia, an allied expeditionary air, naval and ground force with a multiple large enough to challenge the Russians is impossible now. This was also conveyed when the New York Times was called in yesterday for a briefing by “an official with the alliance [of Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Hezbollah], who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss military strategy”. Dispensing with the Financial Times, the Economist, and Der Spiegel, mouthpieces of militaries which don’t exist in the Middle East, the Russian strategic objective is now delivered directly to the US. “No more questions. Not at any level,” the Times reports being told.

Russia has established a no-fly zone on every one of Syria’s frontiers, and will make an Alawite fortress along the coastal plain. As for what happens in the northern and western deserts, that’s up to the Shiite armies of Iran and Iraq to decide, with or without Russian air cover, but with the assurance of no American, NATO, Turkish, Saudi, Jordanian or Emirati air cover.

Gennady Nechaev, a military analyst at Vzglyad in Moscow, explains: “There is airspace, but either it is controlled by the US or by our Air Force. But today there is no issue of control of air space. We are talking about control of ground space. There operations can be of two types: direct destruction from the air and from insulation of the area of operations by air in order to avoid movements of the enemy and incoming reserves. In this case, the task is hardly feasible, as there is an open border with Iraq on the side of Turkey. The boundaries are not controlled. The problem could be solved [by Russia] if a blow can be dealt along the entire depth of the space under the control of ISIS. At the moment there is an operation against the infrastructure of ISIS. Infrastructure is a fairly loose concept, because they don’t have civilian infrastructure. There are military links and connexions which must [operate] to supply weapons. For these purposes Russia is now applying its strokes.”

RommelA German military analyst said overnight: “This has never been seen in the history of the Middle East since the defeat of [Field Marshal Erwin] Rommel (right). The Red Army is invigorated to a level that has never been fielded on the Middle Eastern map.” Evgeny Satanovsky, a Moscow academic expert on the Middle East, adds: “Moscow does not want to divide terrorists into ‘ours’ and ‘not ours’. The emergence of the Russian Air Force in Syria…has radically changed the situation in the region. Expect something different in principle.”

What if the Saudis shift their forces from bombing southward and eastward in the Yemen towards the west, and they invite US forces to defend their sorties from Saudi airfields or from carriers in the Persian Gulf? An Egyptian military source comments: “The king [Salman] has Alzheimer’s, and his son [Mohammad bin Salman], the real ruler of the kingdom, is too young; too insecure in the royal succession; and too vulnerable domestically. If either of them makes so much as a nervous twitch towards the Syrian frontier, the oil price will return to the level Russia wants, and needs. There will be no support for the Saudis against the Russians from their only real Arab guarantor, [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-] Sisi. And long ago, when Obama installed the Moslem Brotherhood in Cairo, [Sisi] realized the American strategy, Obama’s promises, are the gravest threat to Egyptian and Arab security there is. That’s because he can’t control the Washington Amazons who run his warmaking machine, or the jihadists he employs to fight. Without air cover, supply lines, and dollars, they are doomed. The Saudi sheikhs won’t risk trying to save them.”



For more on Putin’s management of the Saudi relationship, read this.

London sources familiar with Israeli politics add that Russian strategy has the tacit backing of Israel. “This is because [President Vladimir] Putin has told [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu that Israel can count on a no-threat zone running from Damascus south and east to the Golan. No threat means no Syrian Army, no jihadists. Russia and Israel will now have what [Israeli Prime Minister David] Ben-Gurion once explained was Israel’s long-term objective – the breakup of the large, potentially powerful secular Arab states into small sectarian territories too weak to do anything but threaten each other.”



According to the New York Times version, “one U.S. senior defense official” claims “their [Russian] operational patterns [in Syria] remain the same [as in Ukraine].” According to US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, “we believe Russia is making a mistake in their actions in Syria.” This Carter has a sentimental tie but no blood relationship with Helicopter Jimmy. For more on what that is, take a look.

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  1. blert

    Dr. Zbig. must be totally off his medication.

    There is not the slightest chance that BHO has any interest in squaring off with Putin.

    What the President has been doing is to support al Qaeda fronts — most particularly al Nusrah.

    Both al Nusrah and IS are joined at the hip and do not fight each other — much. Dr. Zawahiri is their mutal mediator, with plenty of correspondence to his credit.

    ISIS // ISIL // IS wouldn’t be a serious factor if it was not for the UK, US, and Jordan. These three patron powers trained the core block of al Baghdadi’s boys — in the northern Jordanian desert — just a few years back — remember ?

    It was all over the news — particularly in the Arab Middle East.

    They graduated — and promptly went rogue — taking out Mosul — probably by simply phoning ahead. For the US had given them first class communications gear — that they were supposed to be using in Syria. It, however, worked its magic even better — intercepting Iraqi cell phone frequencies — so that al Baghdadi could threaten the generals and their families quite directly.

    In this, they were entirely aping the USAF’s gambit in Libya. Remember Commando Solo ? It was exactly such phone calls to Libyan generals that broke up Kaddafy’s entire army. We admitted that we’d called just about everyone in the dictator’s immediate family, to boot.

    Well, the fanatics in Libya couldn’t miss any of that.

    And our Pentagon gave them the same tools// toys that the big boys have.

    Without this communications gear, ISIS would never have been able to roll fast, roll large, and co-ordinate everything — pretty much without a hitch.

    The FSA is a fictive fig leaf dreamed up by the spin smiths at the White House. There never has been a Free Syrian Army. There are NO secular fighters in the field. This is a flat out religious war. One has to be deliberately dense to repress that reality.

    Every single item ever given to the so called FSA has been deeded over to the fanatics — probaly with kisses, too.

    All of the above is idiot obvious. The only place that reality has no traction is in the West.

    When it can’t be denied, the public will come to know that BHO has treasonously enabled al Qaeda in war time.

    That both of these fronts have direct AQ connections is out on the open record. Both are still in communication with Dr. Zawahiri. The only split is that al Baghdadi wants to be the caliph and run the ever expanding caliphate… a Napoleon, a Hitler for our time.

    BHO has been vectoring weapons to al Nusrah — by the flimsy pretext that they were intended for moderate rebels. That lie won’t hold water.

    The TOW missiles that al Nusrah has received were entirely responsible for the massive reverses that Assad suffered of late. Go to YouTube to see the jihadi footage. It’s a pretty good bet that the Russians have targeted the ammo dumps most likely to have these missiles. The Russians have put their hits up on YouTube, too.

    The only player that’s going to be backing down: BHO. That’s who.

    BTW, at any time Putin can pull the President’s card house flat. I suspect Putin is going for maximum embarrassment. His treasonous support of AQ could finally lead to impeachment and conviction… throwing Biden into the Oval Office. Such a travail would be triggered indirectly — so that Putin’s fingerprints would not be at all obvious.

    In the meantime, Putin likes the fool right where he sits.

    1. low_integer

      I replied to one of your posts the other day and finished by asking if you were the poster who replied to one of my earlier comments with a ridiculous reply. I went back and checked and it turns out it was someone else, so I just thought I’d use this opportunity to apologise for that.

    2. MikeNY

      I am hopelessly confused about who’s in bed with whom, who’s effing, and who’s the effee.

      The only thing clear to me is that whatever we do over there, we make things worse.

      1. JTMcPhee

        “We” is “who,” again? All those little “commands” and “directorates” and “departments” doing their little thangs?

        Body politic trying to stay alive, while being taken down by a host of metastatic malignant tumors sucking up more and more of the life blood, oblivious to the effect on the organism… “Victory!” (rattle rattle rattle gasp…)

      2. susan the other

        I’m hopelessly confused too. So I make up explanations for myself. Rummy called this a “Crusade” way back in 2003. The objective is to keep oil in the ground; promote only gas pipelines. Since Russia is the biggest gas pipeline dog it makes sense that their generals and engineers are busy bombing a pathway for the pipeline. Maybe. And the Saudis are ok with this not just for the pipeline but for getting rid of their own fundamentalists. Similarly Netanyahu is ok; no doubt positioning Israel to have a stake in the eastern Med. gas fields. Clearing the way for all this to happen included giving Russia Crimea and clear sailing to Syria. Maybe even letting John McCain rant and rave just for a smokescreen. This actually is a story that makes sense to me.

    3. TedWa

      I must say, nice lay out of the facts. There’s so many things O should be impeached and jailed for and if you think this one has him dead to rights, well…. cumbaya bro

      1. James Levy

        I would bet the farm that the leadership in the House and Senate are, at this moment, unindicted co-conspirators and Obama can prove it. There will be no impeachment over any of this. It would bring down the whole system.

      2. Crazy Horse

        Impeach Obama? Why bother. It is common knowledge that he was found lying on a beach in Hawaii stoned out of his mind. He was shipped to an underground laboratory in Chicago where his neural circuitry was re-wired creating a Cyborg under the direct control of the Malignant Overlords.
        When it came time to advance him toward the Presidency he was chosen over his lab mates who were also being groomed for political advancement because his kind-of-black skin was perfect for bringing out guilt amnesia in liberals, thus enabling him to run on a platform of pure Audacity.

    1. low_integer

      Trust me, the last thing you guys need is Julie Bishop running for president. She can’t even do a good job as deputy PM here in Australia.

  2. Bill Smith

    “Russia has established a no-fly zone on every one of Syria’s frontiers”

    What?! Everyone is flying over Syria. Seems more like a free fly zone than a no fly zone.

    1. ohmyheck

      Not necessarily…

      “Turkish officials claimed a third incident on Monday, when an unidentified MiG-29 fighter jet locked its radar for four and a half minutes on eight Turkish F-16 jets that were on patrol on their side of the border, in apparent preparation to open fire.”…This is a wake-up call. Moscow is indicating that there’s a new sheriff in town and that Turkey had better behave itself or there’s going to be trouble. There’s not going to be any US-Turkey no-fly zone over North Syria, there’s not going to be any aerial attacks on Syrian sites from the Turkish side of the border, and there certainly is not going to be any ground invasion of Turkish troops into Syria. The Russian Aerospace Defence Forces now control the skies over Syria and they are determined to defend Syria’s sovereign borders. That’s the message. Period.”

      My guess is the Russian Air Force has a few more “messages” up its sleeve…

            1. Synoia

              I’m sure the Russian planes are no match for the superb F35.

              And that the F35 can be inexpensively and quickly replaced or repaired if the Russian are lucky enough to damage one.

              1. OIFVet

                You will get no argument from me. From the looks of it, the Su-34 is capable of doing things that the F-35 was supposed to be capable of, but can’t. And at a fraction of the cost. And I find the Turkish-NATO hysteria amusing. Hence my inquiry about the state of cleanliness of F-16’s drivers’ drawers.

                1. Lambert Strether

                  So I’m not the only Su-34 fan (because that is one shiny-looking aircraft). That said — leaving our horrible procurement process out of the equation — haven’t we had troubles with aircraft trying to perform multiple functions, as opposed to aircraft optimized for single functions? Like the A-10? The F35 is an example of that, with the Marine’s requirement for vertical takeoff. So when I hear the Su-34 started out from the Su-27, was turned into a two-seater, and is a fighter, a bomber, a reconnaissance aircraft… I think “It’s a dessert topping! It’s a floor wax!”

                  Now, people who’ve done more than watch a few videos can weigh in….

                  1. OIFVet

                    Well, it is quite maneuverable, legacy from the basic Su-27 design. So it is fairly capable fighter, one would think, particularly with its modern electronics, and certainly capable of defending itself. But it is primarily an attacker, and what makes it so, unlike the F-35, is its heavy flight deck armor (just like the A-10), huge weapons and fuel payload, and twin-engine design. It has both power and speed, and loiter time to match its ordnance load. The Russians didn’t make any design sacrifices in the name of stealth and matching the requirements of three different services, plus they simply evolved an already proven basic design rather than start from scratch. And it shows. Its darn impressive to see such a heavy jet pull the cobra, and then proceed to attack ground targets.

                2. fajensen

                  Heh. Having Turkey in NATO is like going for a night out with that aquaintance-with-chip-on-shoulders who gains so much confidence being with his many “friends” that he spends the whole evening trying to get into fights with everyone – including the bouncers – and when he finally succeeds he discovers that all of his friends have become bored with this crap and have long split – but – also by this time he is so drunk that he won’t remember, so, next time someone is stupid enough to invite the idiot, the exact same thing happens.

              2. cwaltz

                Our F-35 pilots can drop sternly worded letters since the F 35 won’t be outfitted to drop bombs until at least after 2020.

            2. optimader

              A bit juvenile for a direct response, but given the hypothetical choice of being transported to that place/situation, my objective choice w/o hesitation would be the F-16C/D Block 50 plane ,which (I checked) is what Turks fly. The MIG-29, maybe interesting to see one fitted out for airshow service, simply has an unfavorable encounter in anger history.

              With regard to the thread subject, the practice of lighting up a sovereign countries fighter aircraft in it’s own airspace is probably not a long term strategy that ends well.

              1. OIFVet

                A bit juvenile Simply returning the favor, in part. But given the hysteria, it was fair to ask if there was some soiled laundry.

                simply has an unfavorable encounter in anger history. Against Saddam’s air force. Regardless, the Ruskies don’t have Mig-29 in theater.

                probably not a long term strategy that ends well. What will Sultan Erdogan do, huff and puff and not send Putin a new year’s card? He’s been warned to butt out, domestically he is now going to be increasingly vulnerable after today, what with Kemalists stirring again on top of his self-inflicted Kurd problem and a flagging economy. It’s what happens when one listens to Davutoglu and dreams of a Neo-Ottoman Empire.

                  1. OIFVet

                    What do you call it? Reminds me of last year’s Su-24 buzzing the Donald Cook hysteria. It has become quite the predictable media SOP. Someone better buy them fainting couches. It’s particularly galling since it is little more than a diversionary tactic to hide the total ineptitude of the admin and the disasters it has wrought.

                    1. OIFVet

                      You are just being silly now. What I referred to, of course, was the hysteria regarding the “dangerous low passes” that were nothing more than an ELINT gathering mission done from a distance close enough to send a message but far enough to be safe. Then there are the numerous conniptions over Russian aircraft on routine patrols, or intercepting US spy planes over international waters. And who can forget the histrionics over the phantom sub in the Stockholm harbor, and the Russkie sub that damaged a British fishing vessel and which sub later turned out to be British. It is all hysteria as part of the propaganda war, and a fair bit of Russophobia thrown in to appeal to all of you cold warriors. Nice try though Opti, you did the old kindergarden proud.

                    2. optimader

                      You are just being silly now. What I referred to, of course, was the hysteria regarding the “dangerous low passes” that were nothing more than an ELINT gathering mission

                      No, what I considered to be hysteric was your IIRC posturing that the D Cooks ELINT was totally jammed and the ship hightailed away with a “demoralized crew”.

                      A Ship Captain has every right to bitch if he feels a mutually SOP electronic sniffing run is too close to his ship as it may precipitate a career ending event (his turning a plane into confetti).

                      Low, fast and as many time as desired is fair game, too close is unnecessarily dangerous particularly w/ some high hour Soviet cold war era museum pieces with seriously old
                      coalfired 1960’s vintage engines being pushed

                      object lesson why its inherently dangerous
                      F-14 Flyby Explosion

                    3. optimader

                      What I referred to, of course, was the hysteria regarding the “dangerous low passes” that were nothing more than an ELINT gathering mission done from a distance close enough to send a message but far enough to be safe.

                      Your posture as an apologist for all things Russian could maybe use a dash of objectivity IMO

                      My original response vaporized, suffice it to say the “hysterics” about the Cook IIRC was advancing the fantastic Russian propaganda that the Cook ELINT were jammed and shutdown, the crew was demoralized– seeking transfer off the vessel/ officers resigned blah blah blah..
                      The basis for the DCook Captain’s complaint that I outlined was signal sniffing flights in close proximity, not the legitimacy of mutual signal sniffing flights. The notion that the ELINT capability of the ships were neutralized is unsupported.

                      The vintage soviet era aircraft are old high hour airframes with oooold engines.
                      You may call it hysterics, I would not want one traveling at highspeed in unnecessarily close prox either. I attached couple legitimate reasons why including a video ….


                1. optimader

                  Erdogan do, huff and puff and not send Putin a new year’s card?
                  Well, I would suppose if the Putin is ill considered enough to shoot at Turkish aircraft in Turkish airspace, there will response in kind.

                  1. OIFVet

                    Nah, that’s cowboy stuff. Last I checked, Putin rassles bears, pets big cats, and embarrasses clueless community organizers for fun.

              2. optimader

                Practical observation from someone who actrualy has flown F-16.F-15 and MIG-29
                MiG-29 Fulcrum Versus F-16 Viper
                A lot has been written and theorized about the so-called “Cobra Maneuver” that impresses people at airshows. MAPO claimed that no western fighter dare do this same maneuver in public. They also claimed that the Cobra could be used to break the radar lock of an enemy fighter (due to the slow airspeed, there is no Doppler signal for the radar to track) or point the nose of the aircraft to employ weapons. Western fighter pilots were content to let the Russians brag and hope for the opportunity to see a MiG-29 give up all its airspeed. The fact that this maneuver is prohibited in the flight manual only validates the fact that this maneuver was a stunt. Lambeth was the first American to get a flight in the Fulcrum. Even his pilot conceded that the Cobra required a specially prepared aircraft and was prohibited in operational MiG-29 units

                Another maneuver performed by the Fulcrum during its introduction to the West is the so-called “Tail Slide”. The nose of the jet is brought to 90° pitch and the airspeed is allowed to decay. Eventually, the Fulcrum begins to “slide” back, tail-first, until the nose drops and the jet begins to fly normally again. The Soviets boasted this maneuver demonstrated how robust the engines were as this would cause western engines to flameout. The first maneuver demonstrated to me during my F-15 training was the Tail Slide. The engines did not flameout.

                Lt. Col. Johann Köck, commander of the German MiG-29 squadron from
                September 1995 to September 1997, was outspoken in his evaluation of the Fulcrum. “It has no range, its navigation system is unreliable and the radar breaks often and does not lend it self to autonomous operations”, he said. He added that the best mission for NATO MiG-29s would be as a dedicated adversary aircraft for other NATO fighters and not as part of NATO’s frontline fighter force

                1. OIFVet

                  Awww, I guess that’s why it was a “Mig-29 radar lock” rather than a “Su-30 radar lock”, never mind that the former is not deployed in theater by the Ruskies. I guess the memory of Indian Su-30MKIs is still quite fresh in some NATO quarters.

                  1. optimader

                    never mind that the former is not deployed in theater by the Ruskies
                    As a point of curiosity, do you know who is flying Assads Mig -29s? Link?

                    1. OIFVet

                      Other than the speculation of “unnamed sources,” do you have a link to prove your contention? For it is known beyond a doubt that Russia has not deployed any Mig-29s. The burden of proof rests with you, Opti.

                    2. optimader

                      Whether a MIG-29 and/or a SU-30, may have been both, may have been either, really doesn’t matter. What does matter is whether or not Turkish airspace was violated.

                    3. OIFVet

                      Accuracy in reporting: unimportant. Sums up our media environment quite nicely. But you are right, violation of turkish air space is important. First, because it reinforced the message that was conveyed to Obama, second because the turkish response confirmed that the message was received and understood, loud and clear.

                    1. OIFVet

                      God forbid the former subjects spank their former colonial masters using a Russkie aircraft. Why, old Vicky would positively spin in her grave!

                    2. OIFVet

                      Wait, you link an article that says the Indians are lackadaisical about maintenance to make a point about the supposed Su-30 inferiority?! Particularly when it also points out that the Russian and Chinese Su-30 fleets have much lower crash rates?! “Ah.. ok then!”

                    3. optimader

                      Wait, you link an article that says the Indians are lackadaisical about maintenance to make a point about the supposed Su-30 inferiority?!
                      read the whole article
                      –influence of training technique
                      –war games designed to reinforce validity of sunk investments

                  2. optimader

                    Accuracy in reporting: unimportant
                    An issue of reporting or identification? You understand the difference right?
                    In this case, of and airspace violation is type-model somehow particularly relevant?

                    1. OIFVet

                      The radars of the Su-30 and Mig-29 couldn’t be more different. Are you saying the Turks are so ignorant as to be unable to tell the difference? WOW!!! And if you can’t see how this goes straight to the credibility of the report, then you are either not as smart as I thought you are, or your own credibility is subject to your biases. In either case, there is no point in arguing with you.

                    2. optimader

                      locked on 1 of 8 F-16? I think whomever was the pilot ordered to lock radar on would have been the more “nervous”
                      It has happened again….a Turkish Air Force F-16 was locked on by an “unidentified” Mig-29.

                      As already reported, on Oct. 3 and 4 October the Turkish airspace was violated by Russian Air Force Su-30SM and Su-24 aircraft in the Hatay region.

                      During the first incident, the Russian Su-30SM (initially referred to as a Mig-29 by the Turkish military) maintained a radar lock on one or both the F-16s for a full 5 minutes and 40 seconds before the aircraft departed the Turkish airspace. As explained, this was a rather unusual incident: violations occur every now and then, but usually aircraft involved in the interception do not lock on the “target” in order to prevent dangerous situations.

                      Well it happened again on Oct. 5 and, to make the whole story more mysterious, it looks like the aircraft was identified as a Mig-29 from an unidentified nation/air force.

                      Accoridng to the Turkish General Staff, the Mig-29 locked on at least one of 8 TuAF F-16s performing CAP (Combat Air Patrol) on the border with Syria. What is more, the lock on lasted four minutes and 30 seconds.

                      Considered that the Russian Air Force has not deployed Mig-29s to Syria and assuming that the Turkish Air Force has properly identified the aircraft harassing its F-16s on border patrol, it’s is safe to believe the aircraft involved in the last incident was a Syrian Mig-29 “visiting” the TuAF aircraft in CAP station (as already done in the past).

                      In both the Oct. 3 and Oct. 5 incidents what is also quite surprising is the length of the lock on: both the Su-30SM and the Mig-29 (provided these were involved in the two close encounters) used their radars to paint the Turkish planes possibly exposing to several intelligence gathering platforms details about their systems. Indeed, if the Mig-29 is a very well-known weapons system, the emissions of the RuAF Su-30SM N011M Bars-R radar can be considered extremely interesting to both the TuAF, Israeli AF and NATO planes with ESM (Electronic Support Measures) capabilities.

    2. blert

      The ‘mistaken’ Russian penetrations into Turkish air space are designed to ‘brush back’ the Turks. ( Baseball term: a pitch is thrown very close by the batter to get him to inch away from the plate. )

      And it has suceeded. While not given much publicity in the Western press Erdogan has been injecting his air force directly over Syria — about 30 kilometers — give or take.

      He has also deployed SAMs rather foreward, too.

      The net effect has been to drive Assad’s air force out of the skies all along the border.

      But, much further south, Syria is a total desert with but one river running through it, the Euphrates.

      So Erdogan’s play has been effectively shielding ISIS from Assad’s pitiful air force. ( All downed pilots are assassinated via torture by the fanatics.

      Putin is terminating Erdogan’s gambit.

      Putin is simultaneously protecting the Kurds — as Erdogan can’t beat them up any more with his air force. One can reasonably expect that ‘somehow’ the Kurds will experience a shift in fortunes — as Putin becomes their devious patron. He’ll want to arm them in such a manner that Iran and Iraq don’t ‘kick.’

      That should now be easy. He can over fly ISIS turf from the Caspian sea — spitting weapons out the back window like Zardoz, when over Kurdish positions. (1974, Sean Connery)

  3. Dave Ginsburg

    In the 1970’s Sir John Winthrop Hackett and others wrote “The Third World War”. Essentially Russia against the west for Oil, fought by Tank Warfare in Arab Desert.

    Why do we think Putin will have more luck that his old Soviet Bosses did in Afghanistan?

    1. sd

      The best way to win a war for oil is to stop using it. The first country to become truly energy independent of oil wins.

      1. James Levy

        You can run a factory, a town, a farm, on renewables, but you can’t run an army, navy, or air force. It’s that stark and that simple. A nation that became truly energy independent would fear for its national independence so long as others have powerful force projection capabilities still powered by oil.

          1. blert

            On our time horizon it’s effectively limitless.

            By the time oil really does get scarce generations may well have passed.

            I used to think the Saudi Arabia had the biggest crude reserves, later Venezuela, now it turns out that Russia eclipses them all. It’s just that it’s against Russian state interests to ever go public. So it’s omitted from just about every tabluation one cares to check.

            After fracking became the ‘big thing’ the Russians put it out that they’d found a thin oil horizon that extended from the Arctic to the Caucasuses and west off to Poland — in 1953. It had been a state secret.

            This one deposit — so the Russians say — is no less than 500 times the volume Saudi reserves. The big hitch: they have no way to economically tap it.

            What it does reveal is that the general public has no idea of what’s really down there — because it’s totally against the economic interests of the drillers and nations to spill the beans.

            It’s now turning out that Kenya has vast reserves of light sweet crude oil — immediately off its coast. You hardly hear a single word.

            Yet far enough back in time the Saudi deposits were directly astride Kenya. That’s how much plate tectonics have shifted the surface apart.

            Because of politics, we actually have no idea of what’s under most of the planet. Vast stretches have been kept off limits to drilling — as in most of Eurasia, most of Africa, most of South America.

            And the various state owned oil firms are grossly incompetent. Hence all estimates to date are actually quite sketchy. Everybody is lying to everybody.

            ( You’ll see the same pervasive lying WRT hard rock minerals, too.)

      2. blert

        Adolf ‘practically’ ran Nazi Germany without oil imports… as his empire used but a trivial fraction compared to the Allies.

        It cost Germany everything.

        The same analysis goes double for Imperial Japan. The 20th Air Force was using more oil than the entire nation of Japan five times over.

  4. Jesper

    The US has stopped doing strategy so while short term victories can be had the long-term is only obtained by chance…. The ones in US with strategies are the ones who are pursuing personal strategies, those strategies sometimes happen to align with US interests.

    & to be seen as a reliable ally (and therefore an ally wished for) then a country needs to back up their allies even(!) when times get tough. Russia is doing that in Syria. France is doing that in Mali:
    UK & the US has been doing the same numerous times throughout history, Maybe even the backing of the current regimes in Afghanistan & Iraq would fall into the category of backing up an ally, or maybe those are more ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’.

    1. JTMcPhee

      “Backing up allies even when the going gets tough:” tough guy talk, papering over the realities of all those war toys and Troops and their limited skill sets and doctrines and inherent stupidities.”If Olaf and Pierre and Alistair and Friedrich want to jump off a tall building, Billy, do you really think jumping off with them is such a good idea?”

      Presumes “allies” are wise and noble enough to be going a good thing, not just a bunch of arrogant, ignorant, grasping, self-serving jetks…

      And of course backing allies was the framework that triggered WW I.

      Humans– we’re stupid, and we’ll die.

    2. blert

      Both Obama and Clinton are big into ‘triangulation.’

      Meaning that they are too clever by half — and ALWAYS mistake domestic political tactics and tricks for viable gambits in international affairs.

      With Bill Clinton you had a president that spun on a dime, famously flip-flopping four times in a single day on this or that domestic issue.

      With Obama you have a president that just CAN’T accept and adopt — straight out — ANY recommended policy suite proferred by his own professionals. Instead, he runs it by Axelrod and the other spin smiths — gauging it for domestic and media impact.

      He really thinks that he’s the smartest man in Washington, and that his ‘play’ has been brilliant. He is a bit perturbed that the rest of the world is not following his scripts.

      His ‘clever’ scheme to use the CIA (et. al.) to sustain a proxy anti-Assad army has blown up like a Roadrunner gag.

      The jibes from Putin and others are particularly irritating.

      No-one now is kissing his Islamic ring.

      ( Yes, his marriage ring is ornately inscribed with Islamic iconography. Google around for it. He’s worn it since Harvard, long before Michelle.)

      1. binky Bear

        Not only deeply informed but a telepath to boot. How fortunate to be near-omniscient, and to support so deeply such complex arguments with provable facts.

        1. blert

          Where have you been ?

          Clinton’s ‘triangulation’ was a term of art brought up largely by himself.

          As for the proxy army…

          Now even the AP is willing to ‘fess up.

          The big error in the AP article is dating it to 2013. The project was started even earlier.

          Telepath ?

          Reading their local press did the trick. You will find Indian and Pakistani English language publications hitting right on target — realities that ‘elude’ the NY Times.

      2. optimader

        Yes, his marriage ring is ornately inscribed with Islamic iconography. Google around for it.
        But start at Snopes so you only waste ~10 seconds..
        (BTW, so what if it had Islamic iconography??? They actually have produced some pretty iconic art, IMO)

        And BUKs use heat seeking missiles.

        0 for 2 blert

        1. blert

          Good grief.

          You can’t use a heat seeker from below cloud cover. EVER.

          BUK uses multiple method targeting logic, to frustrate spoofing.

          And what, pray tell is hotter than the engines?

          At altitude the general temperature of the air — and skin of the plane — is way, way, below freezing.

          1. optimader

            And BUKs use heat seeking missiles. refers to you post yesterday regarding engine heat of a B-777

            BUK missile are radar guided.. period.

            You can go find the link..
            Target detection

            The TELAR radar automatically categorizes targets by 3 types:
            ◾aerodynamics; aircraft with moving engines with an airspeed of over 100 m / s
            ◾ballistic missiles

            The info is need for calculation of the trajectory of the missile. The commander can recognize the unique footprint of a target and when agreed with that this is the target he presses a button for launch. The onboard computer will do the calculations for guiding the missile.

            This article in Russian language has a lot of detailed information on target recognition.

            The missile guiding

            Once the missile has been lauched it is guided by the radar to the target using radar signals. The radar illuminates the target. The radar return is picked up by the missile. The missile receives control guidance from the ground using radio signals. This system is called a semi active homing radar.

            Buk, Buk-M1 and earlier versions of Buk-M1-2 and Buk-M2 missile systems uses an Argon-15 type of the onboard computer. The Argon-15 is able to detect target radar signal (shape, length, reverbations, envelope and videosignal). Argon-15 does not give to the crew the ability to change target. The commander must choose target on stage Search, then Argon-15 calculate algorithm Meet Zone, then indicate Target in zone, commander open fire it all.
            More information on the Argon-15 here.

            When close to the target the seeker head (radar in the missile) will take over from the guidance of the TELAR and will continue its route towards the target.

            The missile has a proximity fuse. This is fed by the radar. When the missile is within range the proximity fuse will detonate the explosive in the warhead. That will be around 17 meters from the target.

            Proportional navigation

            A 9M38M1 uses what is called proportional navigation. Basically it means it does not tail chase the target but constantly calculates the future route of the target. By doing so the missile is able to cut corners and appraoch the target using the shortest route and thus saving as much fuel as possible.

            To intercept high-speed targets like aircraft and missiles, a semi active homing missile must follow a lead (collision) course. The intercept point is at
            the intersection of the missile and target flight paths. The best collision or lead course happens when the missile heading keeps a constant angle
            with the line of sight to the target. This course requires missile accelerations to be only as great as target accelerations. Specifically, if the target flies
            a straight-line, constant-velocity course, the missile can also follow a straight-line collision course if its velocity does not change. But in practice, this ideal
            situation does not exist. Missile velocity seldom stays constant. Irregular sustainer propellant burning changes thrust, and therefore affects speed…

            1. optimader

              Or I am misinterpreting what you wrote here??


              October 8, 2015 at 5:12 pm

              The B-777 is a HUGE plane with huge engines that have huge heat signatures and huge radar signatures.

              If a SAM hit the plane — it would spray a cone of death — straight at the engine — not the plane

              It doesn’t matter if an aircraft has a big hot engine or not, relative to a BUK guidance system because it does not seek heat(UV).

              A capability the BUK launcher (TELARC) target acquisition radar does have is ability to identify an engines characteristic exhaust pressure pulse to identify the type of engine (commercial/military) as a element of the IFF (identify friend/foe) handshake before a standard launch. IMO this has potentially interesting implications RE: MH-17 if it requires a work around to fire on a civilian aircraft

              1. low_integer

                I’m looking forward to the release of the JIT report and I think it will catalyse an official response from Russia. Comparing the different versions of events should be indicative of who is swimming naked.

              2. blert

                No power is really going to spill the beans on their seeker heads — of which variants are always stocked.

                Within recent years ( 1990 + ) the Pentagon // DARPA developed not just smart weapons but BRILLIANT weapons. ( Their term, not mine. )

                The key take away is that this generation of seeker heads would have multi-spectral ‘vision’ and logic. To stop spoofing// jamming.

                Radar jamming does not fake out a heat seeker. Flares don’t impress a radar set.

                The Russians have followed in the American path. The reason why DoD officials always refer to Russian SAM and AAM with respect – is because the flatly know the Russians also have Brilliant seeker heads.

                Developing this technology has cost billions and is the reason why both Patriot SAMs and S-300s cost so ^%%#$ much.

                In fact, both systems are so brilliant and slick you can’t long afford to fire them. !!!

                Think about it.

                Each missile is super expensive. They’re designed to shoot down B-1 bombers, F-15E, and Sukoi jets. For such targets, the expense is justified.

                But what of a drone armada ? Your opponent is mass producing drones that cost a trivial fraction of a single SAM.

                And they have lousy radar signatures and heat signatures, to boot.


                On my older post. I assumed that any AAM would’ve used terminal homing upon the heat plume — coming in from behind.

                And that any BUK — assumed to be state of the art — would come up from below — as both heat seeking logic and radar logic would draw the missile straight to the engines.

                They’re so far apart that each engine would appear to digital logic as two combat jets, side by side. These SAMs are not designed to shoot down commercial planes — a turkey shoot. Their parameters are entirely set by what spy planes have discovered about the radar signatures of enemy aircraft.

                Such ‘flights of discovery’ occur without end. No power trusts last months results. “Engineers are always changing something.”

                The key take away is that it’s really difficult to look at the downed plane at a macro level and figure out anything.

                Real evidence figures to be embedded in engine parts — the blast shards from the SAM// AAM.

                Additional evidence might exist as electronic intercepts — of the BUK launch radar — or of the human chatter before and after the strike. All such specifics would be deemed highly classified — and those in the know would feign ignorance.

                The stuff in the public domain is probably ‘harmless’ as it is legally insubstantial. If Putin, himself, authorized the shot, no-one would want that known publically — including all NATO nations.

                BTW, that an AAM missile would track straight to the jumbo’s engines must not only be obvious — it’s of history. KAL 007 — lost its engines. The body broke up on the way down — most of all upon ocean impact. (1983)

        2. blert

          Somebody is Photoshopping a spoof ring.

          For the images are just way too far apart.

          Snopes LOVES the President — and are a hyper progressive husband wife true believer team.

          The other bloggers are opposed to Obama.

          I can’t say as I trust either one.

          Snopes has been caught out before.

          And spoofing digital images is now all too common.

          If his ring has been Photoshopped — said digital art work is first class — tip top.

      3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        This. The most infuriating part about Obomba is the smug “smarter-than-you” certainty he has. He was a community organizer and one-term state Senator but somehow he started sniffing all the farts the sycophants were wafting his way about just how clever he really was. Then he installed a bunch of also-smart groupthinker Berkeley-ites from the “duty to protect” and “humanitarian bombing” crowd, Chanel-suited exceptionalist egomaniacs who thought they were Kissinger (Samantha Powers, Hilary, Susan Rice et al.) BHO thought he could triangulate and “out-clever” everyone on everything, from health care, where he managed the worst of all worlds that fattened Big Insurance AND screwed up the cost of care…to Wall St where he fattened TBTF AND screwed up Dodd-Frank. In the ME he thought he could cleverly play all sides off against each other, the Turks, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Israelis, the Saudis..and stunningly also al-Qaeda themselves were just another co-optable pawn. But as Warren Buffet says “when the tide goes out you can see who’s swimming naked”. Tide’s heading out…and as far as I can see the Russia/Iran/Iraq/Israel/Syria/Kurd team, with Brother China, fed-up Pakistan and resurgent India backing things up, is looking pretty good. Sclero-Europe has long ago ceded their sovereignty and relevance, LatAm as usual is absent from consideration…what am I missing? Unfortunately after the Hilary coronation we’ll have another serial “third way” triangulator in charge who never saw a war, arms program, or covert adventure she didn’t like. Except when she didn’t like it, which was right after she did like it, and right before the previous time she didn’t like it.

  5. Jim McKay

    Good article… gives (from all I’ve read elsewhere) good, accurate context to what’s going on now, and why (IMO) Putin’s actions make sense. That is, if “solutions” (eg. ending blood shed, restore sustainable stability) in Syria is the objective.

    I’m also struck by some retrospective considerations, beyond what author (with limited space) hits very generally (eg: Brzezinski/Carter). In particular, all the secret prisons and indiscriminate detentions by BushCo (torture), much of it seemingly continued by BO. And, the “unintended” consequences of that.

    Reading Wikipedia’s bio on al-Baghdadi this morning, seems he was a very well educated cleric (doctorate in both Islamic Studies and Education) even well after Bush’s Iraq adventure began. He was non-descript, low key… seems little evidence he had violtent inclinations:

    “I was with Baghdadi at the Islamic University. We studied the same course, but he wasn’t a friend. He was quiet, and retiring. He spent time alone. Later, when he helped found the Islamic Army, Mr Dabash fought alongside militia leaders who were committing some of the worst excesses in violence and would later form al-Qaeda… [but] Baghdadi was not one of them, I used to know all the leaders (of the insurgency) personally. Zarqawi (the former leader of al-Qaeda) was closer than a brother to me… But I didn’t know Baghdadi. He was insignificant. He used to lead prayer in a mosque near my area. No one really noticed him.”

    This bio also says this (which I didn’t know):

    Bakr al-Baghdadi was arrested by US Forces-Iraq on 2 February 2004 near Fallujah and detained at Camp Bucca detention center under his name Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badry[22] as a “civilian internee” until December 2004, when he was recommended for release by a Combined Review and Release Board.[24][29][30] In December 2004, he was released as a “low level prisoner”.[22]

    A number of newspapers and cable news channels have instead stated that al-Baghdadi was interned from 2005 to 2009. These reports originate from an interview with the former commander of Camp Bucca, Colonel Kenneth King, and are not substantiated by Department of Defense records.[31][32][33] Al-Baghdadi was imprisoned at Camp Bucca along with other future leaders of ISIL. (emphasis added)

    Would be hugely informative to have a means of cross checking records (if they exist?) of U.S. detainees as “illegal combatants”, their violent “proclivities” prior to incarceration, and how many of them became Jihadists after release. The utter injustice of this, in the face of nothing more then an invasion and occupation of Iraq… this cause & affect is ignored and unacknowledged by leadership/policy makers on our shores. And making “exception” for these policies guarantees the continued disastrous results, ad infinitum.

    Global conventions against torture have stood for a long time, with a strong moral grounding… based on understanding, that abrogating them WILL produce the kinds of results we’ve seen, expanding like dominoes.

    Somehow, someway… if U.S. is ever to get on a course other then collapsing from within, this stuff needs to be examined thoroughly and cut out of public and official “acceptance” like the cancer that it is.

    1. blert

      The problem with any bio on al Baghdadi is that the CIA// Pentagon has re-used that name// title over and over.

      This is topped off by the fact that the Muslims use that nome-de-guerre over and over, too.

      So one is always left puzzling over whether this or that reference is getting crossed over with yet another al Baghdadi.

      The Pentagon, itself, admits that they have made that exact error many, many, times. They’ve ‘killed’ al Baghdadi numerous times — only for another elusive al Baghdadi to pop up.

      Some analysts contend that the name is really more towards a title — just like Caesar.

      After he died, all of his sucessors were so labeled.

      The only folks that seem to have the slightest clue about what’s up are the desert Arabs. (Jordan, KSA, Kuwait — and the Awakening Movement in Iraq.)

      Everyone else is ‘stupid’ — counter-informed — like Dr. Zbig. What a gas bag. Dangerous, too.

      1. Procopius

        I don’t think it’s useful to refer to “al Baghdadi” as a “nom de guerre.” It’s a nickname, “the guy from Baghdad,” in a culture where names are rather indeterminate. OK, I’m not an Arabic linguist, but I know that a guy may be known by some of his friends as “Son of X,” by others of his friends as “Father of Y,” and by others as “Abdu al [insert attribute of Allah].” I think this makes it problematic for many Americans, who are not known for language ability.

        1. blert

          Actually, adopting a ‘nom de guerre’ is extremely popular for the fanatics.

          1) Like all super heros, they don’t want blow back upon their non-combatant family members.

          This is especially evident with their infamous executioners. But the tic is not at all limited.

          2) The fake persona permits the jihadist easy travel when outside the war zone. Many of the fanatics are claiming to flit to and fro — from America to Syria — with grace and ease.

          This ease of travel was confirmed by an elderly German journalist, (75) who visited ISIS. They scared the Hell out of him.

          It also terrified him that he could, himself, flit from Germany to Syria, with little to inconvenience him. (!) It was all too easy. Yikes !

          In his opinion, the fanatics are shuttling all over the place. Current border controls are wholly ineffective with these players.

          If a slow moving retiree can make the transit, that’s telling.

  6. timbers

    Interesting things are happening with Russian involvement in Syria. Are we seeing the global balance of power tip before our eyes? The U.S. is losing it’s sole hegemony status and that could be a good thing if Washington can realize this and accept that and adopt diplomacy and cooperation to maintain what position it still has instead of denial followed by escalating aggression. A reborn Russia/Iran/Iraq/Syria alliance could check the brutality of the current U.S./Israel/Saudi Arabia/Turkey axis. Have seen articles that Iraq is impressed with Russian effectiveness against U.S. funded ISIS that is creating chaos in Iraq, and they may ask Putin to do the same thing there he is doing in Syria. Wonder if O’s ego can handle that?

    Even signs that some in Europe see Russia is helping them by intervening in Syria and connecting the dots, as in “WTF are we doing hurting ourselves pissing off Russia in service of U.S.?”

    With all that going on, I was dumbfounded seeing headlines that the U.S. is preparing a major naval challenge to China’s islands, as if we don’t have enough conflict on our hands already.

  7. Steve H.

    “If either of them makes so much as a nervous twitch towards the Syrian frontier, the oil price will return to the level Russia wants, and needs.”

    ““This is because [President Vladimir] Putin has told [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu that Israel can count on a no-threat zone running from Damascus south and east to the Golan.”

    Those are a couple of very interesting points that look win-win for Russia. Especially with the Saudi and Turkish regimes having internal problems as well.

    Here’s an analysis from the other side of the aisle:

    The bone I’ll pick with it is that the ‘far’ position taken is “negotiated settlement”. The U.S. and Saudis appear over-extended and thus under-committed. Russia has advanced a Knight, and S-400’s and cruise missiles are discomforting if NATO tries to advance the Queen of overwhelming air power (see the Stratfor map of U.S. vs Russian air strikes). When the BATNA is a win-win, all negotiations are just plays for time.

    1. blert

      Stratfor totally lost me with their fantasy Free Syrian Army schtick.

      It does not exist.

      That scribe is pipe dreaming.

      Absolutely no-one in the field identifies with the FSA. Not. A. One.

      The FSA = al Nusrah = al Qaeda in Syria.

      The re-labeling was invoked so that BHO could send weapons to al Nusrah… the player that currently has snapped up EVERY weapon the President sent into the fight. Most recently that’s meant TOW missiles.

      Go to YouTube to see countless jihadi videos uploaded showing how al Nusrah has been driving Assad into retreat.

      The rest of the article is pure jibberish… counter-factual… aka lies.

  8. ltr

    This is an especially important post, as it is all but impossible to gain a balance in analysis or reporting from the press in the United States on the Russian initiative and engagement in Syria.

  9. Mel Fish

    Stratfor is great reading…polished and confident, always written with a hint of being’ in the know’ , and yet is less useful as a forecasting tool than a dart board (without any darts). Also amusing is to wonder about the irony of the president’s nobel peace prize and what effect the fear of the resurfacing of the irony/hypocrisy each time the president engages the country in yet another “conflict”. If you imagine the president being issued a certain number of conflict cards at the beginning of terms, well, they must be used judiciously….especially when one has that damned prize to think about. Wonder if that’s another reason the Russians got to go Russian in Syria first.

    1. sd

      Good lord. Stratfor is well-known as politicized propaganda machine that works in concert with large multinational corporations to further their interests in foreign countries. It’s not a secret.

  10. EoinW

    Russian operations in Syria began right before Bibi was due to visit Moscow. Now it’s a nice, neat package to assume Russia made Israel an offer it couldn’t refuse, however Putin can’t make deals with everyone. After all, he’s not Donald Trump.

    My guess would be that Hizbollah will be rewarded for their support and be able to keep the arms they get from Russia. Israel will simply have to stay out of southern Lebanon for good. That’s going to be a tough one for the Jewish Taliban, with their Greater Israel project, to swallow. Ben-Gurion may have wanted peaceful borders but it is the last thing modern Israel wants. The Assads kept the peace on the Golan border for 40 years – fat lot of good that did them. Peaceful borders means no excuse for Israel to avoid making peace with the Palestinians.

    The question I must ask: what happens to all these Islamic fighters after they are run out of Syria and Iraq? Only safe territory for them – away from the Russian air force – will be US allies, like Jordan and Arabia. Hamas is not as extreme as ISIS, however the Palestinian situation becomes more extreme every day. Could ISIS end up working with the Palestinians? Israel, with its excuse of no peace partners, may end up with enemies from hell. Even if ISIS doesn’t take up the Palestinian cause, it still has to go somewhere. Seems the chickens will come home to roost.

    1. OIFVet

      Russian operations in Syria began right before Bibi was due to visit Moscow. Wrong, Bibi visited on September 20th.

    2. blert

      Bibi and al Sisi romanced Putin once Obama showed his colors.

      The President intended to take America down a peg… okay… many pegs.

      Instead, the down-pegging has occurred to himself.

      He’s now totally ineffective in foreign affairs. He is scorned and ridiculed… universally.

  11. TG

    Interesting. But I wouldn’t hand Putin the victory cup just yet.

    Suppose that Obama just decides to flood Syria with weapons? Anti-tank, anti-air, medium-range missiles with cluster bombs that can hit the Russian bases… America may not have any sense of long-range strategy but we are very good at breaking things, and our leaders throw fits and take it personally when their plans go awry…

    Of course giving all sorts of advanced weapons to the mostly jihadist Syrian ‘rebels’ would in the long run certainly cause a lot of blowback to the United States, but that’s never stopped us before…

    1. OIFVet

      I suspect that the Kurds and Houthis, as well as the Shia in KSA’s oil producing regions will suddenly find excellent source of weapons, plunging Turkey, KSA, and the emirates in quite the chaos.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      The issue is moving the weapons. Jordan’s border is open desert. Iraq is warming to the Russians with an active war zone along the border. Israel doesn’t want weapons running through their territory without control. The water is locked up, and Lebanon is full of Hezbollah.

      After today’s events, who knows where Turkey is?

      Where is the money coming from? Americans aren’t brining up Syria on the campaign trail except to note they were opposed to intervention. The Saudis are suffering from low oil prices and their own quagmire.

      U.S. air superiority is based on air superiority, not anti-aircraft weaponry. Afghanistan and Syria are radically different much like Vietnam and Iraq were different. It’s much easier for the Russians to supply their bases than in Afghanistan where they had to rely on helicopters flying around mountain valleys.

      Advanced weaponry will be seen by Russian eyes in the sky and can be hit by missiles from the Caspian apparently. I hate to break it to you, but the U.S. R&D budget has been wasted on projects like F-35 and contracting fraud.

      1. OIFVet

        It’s Time for the United States to Start Worrying About a Saudi Collapse. I thought the plunge in oil prices would bring down the Ruskies? Besides the shale operations, the overextended KSA is now in trouble, particularly with rising domestic oil consumption and internal Al-Saud family dissent growing. Then there is the appalling poverty that may no longer be alleviated with oil revenue subsidies. In the 1980s the Saudis matched CIA spending for the mujaheddin 1:1, which really made a huge difference. If the US wants to launch a proxy war on Russia in Syria, and wants the Saudis to help pay for it, it may find itself with a disintegrating KSA, one where the oil fields are in predominantly Shia areas. Blowback might be putting it quite mildly.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          There are only 10,000 non-wealthy Saudi men and only half are of fighting age. The House of Saud doesn’t have a great faction to stand for the regime if anything were to go to South. I’m sure the Hajj stampede and crane collapse aren’t sitting well with the king in the hospital. From the rumors, King Fahd’s party are trying get to retake power. Fahd was pals with the old man Assad.

          The Royal Guard is roughly the size of the national army, so there are two separate armies in Saudi Arabia with separate Com and structures which demonstrates the lack of faith in the army. Costs aside, I wonder if the real aim is to keep much of the Saudi military as possible occupied I stead of at home where they can cause trouble. With only 30,000 or so members, the House of Saud can be replaced at any old time.

        2. Crazy Horse

          Why does my Spidy Sense tell me that the foundation of the Saudi oil ministry policy of continuing to flood a depressed market with low cost oil was a secret agreement between Obomber and the Saudi ruling family? The plan was to bankrupt Russia by a two-pronged attack— the fraudulent US sponsored sanctions based upon manufactured reality events in Ukraine and the Saudi capacity to control the marginal price of oil. The carrot offered by the US was a piece of the action in the trans Syrian gas pipeline— and continued protection against internal opposition.

          Worked about as well as most US foreign policy “initiatives”. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the end game was the overthrow of the decadent Saudi ruling family and a post revolutionary Saudi Arabia in the Russian/Chinese axis?

          1. OIFVet

            It is amusing to contemplate, up to a point. I am not sure that potential Saud family collapse is necessarily good for peace.

            1. ambrit

              What I fear from all this is a ‘Caliphate’ extending from Mosul down around Basra (got to give those Sixers credit,) and on into The (Former) Kingdom. Ben-Gurions’ Arab ‘splintered’ states could come back to bite his successors as one big confederation of “The Faithful.”

          2. blert

            The Saudi royal house is furious with Obama.

            It’s the Iran deal. After that, nothing else really matters to the Saudis.

            The low oil price was never co-ordinated with anybody.

            It’s targets are — in no particular order:

            American frackers

            The Saudis have been disrupting Iranian oil exports to Asia — by under cutting them on price and quality.

            Until Obama released the Shah’s old deposits ( my how they have compounded into real money ) Iran was going insolvent.

            Saudi Arabia wants Putin to suffer — as he’s the patron of Assad — of whom they hate the most. Low crude pricing has pounded the Russian ruble. Putin’s crew is also going insolvent. The flight capital out of Russia is relentless.

            American frackers represent a dire strategic threat to the Saudi clan. Such methods have every prospect of making Saudi oil an insignificant resource.

            For, on the math, fracking ( like flotation cells a century ago ) figure to increase the resource base – – crude recoveries — by a factor of one-hundred.

            That last figure may astonish, but it’s true. All this time drillers have discovered vast oil deposits — that were too thin to work — with vertical bore holes. Some of these thin deposits don’t actually need fracking, per se. They just need the super accurate aimable drilling tips America now produces.

            The kicker — on the economics — is that such thin deposits are extensive. So if you punch down — you are sure to hit the strata — to strike oil — about 100% of the time. Your only risk is if this or that effort is not quite what you hoped for.

            Such resource economics are entirely upside down from conventional drilling. They strongly resemble the economics of coal mining. Everybody is uniformly ‘lucky.’

            The total amount of ‘thin strata’ oil in the ground is staggeringly larger than all conventional deposits. The Saudi royals know this. The general public does not.

            It’s against the economic interests of any of the players to level with the press or the public. Everybody is lying about everything to everybody else. This behavior is classic — typical of mining everywhere. When was the last time you heard a gold miner telling all where he’d found a massive strike ?


          3. Yata

            I would entertain the idea if it were to include the removing Russia from the European energy markets, it would make sense as an end-game.

  12. Medon

    Why does the US need to be in the Middle East at all. We can just buy oil from the lowest cost supplier and have it shipped over. What am I missing here?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Contracting fraud, where the real money is made. It was never about oil, just contracts and egos. Oil has to be sold at an honest price for a variety of reasons, but I can’t judge a cruise missile’s price behind a veil of secrecy.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Then there is the natural failing of leaders domestically who search for scapegoats. Half of the foreign policy pronouncements are full of whispered hisses of “China.” Don’t pay attention to me. It’s those red Chinese and their currency manipulation.

          It’s not that much different than medieval kings who blamed jews for the ills of society. Oh sure, we have tablets and Facebook, but we are still the same people after all these years.

          1. cwaltz

            The currency manipulation thing always makes me laugh. Good Lord, what do they think the Fed does when it lowers and increases interest rates and what QE did to the dollar?

            People WANT a scapegoat though. They want to believe that it’s someone else’s fault. Our domestic leaders are giving the people what they want, a culpable body, when playing the blame game.

    2. pdehaan

      A common misconception is that the US need to be in the Middle East to protect oil sources for its own consumption. In fact, even now the US is not at all very much dependent on Middle Eastern oil. It doesn’t import much from the middle east, relatively speaking.
      Decades before the US were to become a net oil importer, right after WWII, the middle east was understood to be the most important price in the geo-political game (as it was for the British up to then), the important thing being control of middle eastern oil. Not for its own consumption, but basically as a potential veto over any other nation that may have industrial and military ambitions, all of which are dependent on oil.

      1. pdehaan

        I just want to add to this that whenever they talk about fracking and exploring oil plays in Alaska, etc., with the implied promise that this will remove the incentive to spent trillions on policing the middle-east, they’re only selling bridges. The middle-east policy is never going to change as long as the world is dependent on oil.

  13. Roland

    The Russian expeditionary force in Syria is indeed highly vulnerable, but only if the Western Bloc wants to risk a major war.

    Now the Western Bloc can prevail against Russia, at any level of escalation, albeit at mounting risk. Nobody should expect today’s Russia to be able to match the might of the Western Bloc.

    But the Russian government indicates that they are willing to go to war, even if they know in advance that they will lose that war. Willingness to lose means willingness to fight, and the willingness to fight is a crucial element in deterrence.

    In both Georgia and Ukraine, the Russians have physically demonstrated their willingness to go to war wherever NATO tries to expand into any more of the former Soviet republics. There is no question of Russian credibility as far as NATO expansion into former SR’s is concerned. That means war, period.

    Syria’s importance to Russia lies in the fact that it’s Russia’s only ally that is not territorially contiguous to Russia. If Russia is to retain any real sovereign capacity to make or preserve meaningful alliances abroad, then they must support the Syrian government, even if a military deployment there is precarious.

    Russia was very slow to engage in direct intervention in Syria. For years, Russia confined its efforts to political support, technical advice, and resupply of the existing Syrian arsenal. Russia even disarmed Syria of its chemical weapons, in a failed effort to mediate the conflict.

    However, Russia’s long reluctance also means that their current action is long-considered. A government that is slow to go to war is usually a government that will fight hard in that war.

    I expect the Western Bloc will presume that they can prevail through politico-economic attrition against Russia. They probably can. However, the longer this complex regional war in the Middle East continues, the more likely things are to veer off unpredictably. The real God of war is neither Athena nor Mars. It’s Tyche.

  14. Chauncey Gardiner

    Patrick Smith wrote an interesting article that was published in Salon on October 6th, I recommend it as worthwhile reading and food for thought. An extract:

    … “In my read, Russia and Iran have just popped open the door to a solution in Syria. All the pieces are in place but one: Washington’s capacity to acknowledge the strategic failure now so evident and to see beyond the narrowest definition of where its interests lie.

    This brings us to the paradox embedded in those questions Putin and Zarif and a few others now pose: American primacy is no longer in America’s interest. Get your mind around this and you have arrived in the 21st century.”

    Hmmm… A multi-polar world?

  15. blert

    “The CIA began a covert operation in 2013 to arm, fund and train a moderate opposition to Assad. Over that time, the CIA has trained an estimated 10,000 fighters, although the number still fighting with so-called moderate forces is unclear.

    The effort was separate from the one run by the military, which trained militants willing to promise to take on IS exclusively. That program was widely considered a failure, and on Friday, the Defense Department announced it was abandoning the goal of a U.S.-trained Syrian force, instead opting to equip established groups to fight IS.”

    Even this AP story is largely inaccurate. The CIA had been active even before 2013. It’s original proxy army went rogue and is the cadre for al Baghdadi’s ISIS horror show.

    ONLY NOW is the MSM breaking the story that is idiot obvious across the Middle East.

    ZeroHedge is comparing this to Bay of Pigs II.

    No kidding !

    Both involved CIA proxy armies that had no operational security to speak of.

    Both were authorized by the Oval Office.

    And we know how much BHO admires JFK.

  16. Stefan

    This article’s quotes from various foreign quarters are informative, but its characterization of American strategy is a bit “breathless.”

    The US maintained a fairly hands off approach to Syria over the past few years on the advice of Israel. In essence, the US didn’t have a dog in that fight, and the general intention was to allow the regime and its enemies to weaken each other interminably.

    Obama’s empty threats about chemical weapons were a mistake, of course. But the Russians helped him out of that one. And in some way, they are helping him out again. The blitzkrieg success of Sunni/ISIS took observers by surprise, and all those gruesome beheadings seem to call for something. But again where is the real strategic value of Syria? Every sensible Syrian who can is on his way to a new life in Europe.

    While the article’s author seems to wish to ridicule him, Brzezinski is right. The US has stupendous firepower, more than the rest of the world combined. But as we have seen, that does not guarantee success in every situation, and is hardly effective if half-hearted.

    By the way, the Israelis could “take out” Assad any time they wish to. They could as well probably cripple the Russian force in Syria in a day, if they chose. But they do not prefer the consequences.

  17. VietnamVet

    It is important to get Russian viewpoint especially since most Americans are monolingual. Also, it is hard for us not to root for the home team. Still Syria is a gigantic SNAFU. It is so far beyond incompetence it has to be purposeful. This is the ultimate expression of the Shock Doctrine. Collapse Russia and gain control its energy resources at the risk of exterminating Homo sapiens. Russia will do well for a while carving out enclaves for the minority Shiites, Christians and Alawites then they will in a tough slog of fighting Sunni Arabs in a regional Holy War. There are 1.6 billion Sunni Muslims. Want-to-be Jihadists will flock to Syria to fight the Russian Crusaders. Barrack Obama has already warned Vladimir Putin of a quagmire. His continued arming the Sunnis is a purposeful act to ensure this. World War III starts when Russia shoots down an American aircraft on a combat mission over Syria.

    1. ambrit

      Give the Russians some credit for finesse. All they need do is shoot down an Israeli jet attacking a Syrian government position in support of some Syrian “Moderates” near Damascus. I’ll be watching for a Russian campaign to rid the Syrian skies of ‘Western’ drones. That would be a sign of serious intentions on the part of Russia.
      Another possibility is a peaceful change of leadership within Assad’s Syrian government. Does anyone know if there is a suitable successor to Assad Jr. in the ‘family?’ Such an event would remove even the fig leaf presently being waved in front of the West’s attempted rape of Syria.

  18. Russell Scott Day/Transcendia

    So I was hoping that the Russians would go in there and kill ISIS and then they turn around and start killing the rebels trying to kill Assad, who ISIS wouldn’t mind killing as well. So much for wishful thinking which last I noted hasn’t worked well in war except when called dumb luck, which is fortunate weather events never anticipated by anyone.
    Well it sort of makes sense that if you have an enemy with an army and they threaten you, enough, you kill them. Unfortunately for allies of the US, it doesn’t really matter that much for the US long as the Petrodollar, the gift of Nixon and Kissinger is the reserve currency. If all the Syrian draft dodgers go to Germany, well that will serve Volkswagen right, not to mention make Greece and Hungary thinking so while any minute I’ll look good telling the Netherlands to go for it with my Insurodollar.
    Well it sure did work out well about that Euro. And things would be great if it was actually oil coming from the 3,900 drill rigs, if it was oil instead of leaky ass methane wrecking the climate even more than oil getting burned things would be better. A 4,000 dollar CNG gas tank that takes up the trunk makes batteries look good.
    But who knows what all since piddling around has halfway or a third worked out, so far.
    It’s not how many nukes you have, but who uses them first, if you have them see. They didn’t really have them till the end of the second world war, which was a war, still, and why I call what’s in store next for us an apocalyptic riot.
    If only capitalism was working and Russia was just offered a land transit corridor for a price to Sevastopol? So what if they get to access more better in the Black Sea, It’s Black right?
    Remember the Zaporizia! Remember that Hunter Biden! Remember Antares! Remember Christophe de Margerie and the drunk that got there just in time for a plane that never crashes except for the other one that was shot down! And remember thinking too much, since what you know is lots of lies, and the rest is cowardly, or stupid.

  19. Moneta

    I’m still finding out details about my own family which change my entire perception of family members. Once I’ve figured it all out, I’m sure understanding the middle eastern patchwork will be a cinch.

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