No need to be coy, Roy.
-- Paul Simon --
Faster than a herd of turtles, the mainstream American media started mechanically regurgitating the official Washington line regarding Russian bombing in Syria.
The Russians, we are told, are first and foremost bombing not ISIS but any Syrian rebels who are fighting Russia´s ally, President Bashar al-Assad. Those rebels, we are also told, are mainly moderate, pro-U.S. groups who are anti-ISIS.
Beware, dear reader. Simply because the White House and Pentagon say the rebels are anti-ISIS does not make it true. One of the fundamental positions of this blog is that Washington has proven itself time and again incapable of defining and identifying terrorists.
Our post of September 25, 2014 ("The Syrian Crisis: Churchill and Machiavelli Speak"):
"At the end of the day, Washington cannot vet terrorists because it has no analysis.
The poster boy for that appalling inability is Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi ... The CIA had vetted him as reliable, and even allowed him to go where no non-CIA personnel had gone before -- Camp Chapman, a CIA outpost in Khost, Afghanistan. In 2009, after being waved through by guards, al-Balawi blew himself up, killing nine people including four CIA officers. Styleless and guileless, they had brought al-Balawi a birthday cake. They bet their lives on him; they lost.
For all the reasons the CIA had approved al-Balawi -- he was an honors graduate, a medical doctor and a solid middle class family man approved by Jordan´s secret service GID, etc., etc. -- we would have disapproved him. [Our reasons were given one by one in The Source of Terrorism: Middle Class Rebellion]. In the coming months, as the U.S. vets thousands of Syrian rebels and hands them money and weapons, please remember al-Balawi."
One of the U.S.-backed, so-called moderate rebel groups being bombed by Russia is the Free Syrian Army (FSA). There is no doubt the FSA is anti-Assad; the question is, is the FSA anti-ISIS? Last year, the New York Times reported the FSA cooperated with ISIS in an attack on Lebanon. For another report on FSA-ISIS coordination, click here. In 2013, the leader of FSA openly declared the FSA and al-Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaida, to be "Brothers."
Why can´t Washington -- as well as state, county and city police and other American authorities -- spot a terrorist two feet in front of them?
Answer: The ideological blinders are on. We analyzed in depth that ideology, which originates in the middle class, in The Source of Terrorism. In a word: what purports to be the solution to the problem is part of the problem. The government-approved cure is infected with the disease.
The consequences of that ideological blindness are not confined to political theory or faraway battlefields; they hit home regularly on Main Street America. This blog analyzed numerous cases of domestic terrorism. One particularly poignant, unforgivably forgotten example was discussed in our post of January 9, 2014: "Sandy Hook Killer Adam Lanza: The Other Tragedy."
* * *
A U.S. program to train and equip "moderate" Syrian soldiers cost $500 million. At the end of the day, 75 fighters were actually placed into battle; they promptly turned their equipment over to terrorists, then either ran away or were slaughtered. General Lloyd Austin, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, told the Senate that only 4-5 of the fighters were still in the field; the program envisioned over 5,000.
You can watch General Austin´s Senate testimony here. Had Abraham Lincoln been president -- see our post of October 6, 2014, "The ISIS Crisis: The Abraham Lincoln Solution" -- Austin would have been unceremoniously dumped on the first street corner. Ditto his boss, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. Obama instead keeps those men and others like them on board, gives them raises.
Why did General Austin´s program fail? Austin didn´t say. He didn´t say because he doesn´t know.
Let us help you with that, General. Machiavelli nailed the problem 500 years ago:
Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous;
and if one holds his state based on these arms,
he will stand neither firm nor safe; for they are disunited,
ambitious and without discipline, unfaithful, valiant before
friends, cowardly before enemies; ...destruction is deferred
only so long as the attack is; for in peace one is robbed by
them, and in war by the enemy. The fact is, they have no
other attraction or reason for keeping the field than a trifle
of stipend, which is not sufficient to make them willing
to die for you.
-- The Prince --
Latest media reports say the disastrous training program has been "suspended" -- not cancelled. In the meantime, the Pentagon is sending arms and munitions to the recently-formed Syrian Arab Coalition (SAC) actively fighting in northern Syria.
Although the change to the SAC is a step up from prefabricating and bankrolling out-and-out mercenaries, it is a microscopic one. The SAC has been co-operating closely with the Kurdish YPG, which has in turn co-operated with the FSA. In the end, then, what we said about the FSA applies to the SAC.
Contrary to everything President Obama, the Pentagon and CIA will tell you, dear reader, the variegated layers of the Damascus steal are not all that complicated. Most Syrian rebels are first and foremost anti-Assad. ISIS is anti-Assad. Therefore,...
Because many so-called moderate Syrian rebels march with ISIS when it suits them, that means ... what?
Again, let us help you, General.
The New York Times:
"But officials said they were trying to adapt in real time by seeking to identify the leaders of ´capable, indigenous forces´ in Syria who would sign a pledge to fight the Islamic State group, receive some instruction on human rights, review the law of armed conflict, and leave with communications gear and some help on how to call in airstrikes.
Officials said the provision of equipment to the groups would be limited at first, but could grow depending on a rebel group’s performance. Failure on the battlefield or the loss of weapons that could fall into the hands of extremists could result in a cutoff of military equipment, officials said. The American military has confirmed that some rebel groups surrendered their weapons when confronted by extremists, and it has acknowledged that accounting for American-supplied arms across the battlefield proved almost impossible in the past."
Sign a pledge ... be lectured on civil rights. You just saw the Pentagon/CIA Syrian war in a nutshell: clumsy, naive. The acknowledgement of a possible future cutback in aid is a backhanded admission by U.S. officials that they have no real confidence in the SAC. How could it be otherwise? When it comes to terrorism, Washington literally does not know what it is talking about.
For those readers who disagree: please remember al-Balawi.
The White House, Pentagon and CIA are perpetually perplexed by anyone who sometimes works with, sometimes against, ISIS. Gosh, it´s all so complicated.
Well, not really. Putin saw the ball Washington fumbled, grabbed it and ran with it. He declared at the UN it would be
"irresponsible to try to manipulate extremist groups and place them at one's service in order to achieve one's own political goals in the hope of later dealing with them or, in other words, liquidating them.
To those who do so, I would like to say — dear sirs, no doubt you are dealing with rough and cruel people, but they're in no way primitive or silly. They are just as clever as you are, and you never know who is manipulating whom. And the recent data on arms transferred to this most moderate opposition is the best proof of it.
We believe that any attempts to play games with terrorists, let alone to arm them, are not just short-sighted, but fire hazardous."
We nuance Putin´s statement. Where he sees sordid hole-and-corner intrigues, we see incompetence. The boys and girls of the Pentagon and CIA are simply in over their heads. Remember al-Balawi.
Sidebar: conspiracy or incompetence? In the end, call it what you will, it still remains the same.
White House, Pentagon, CIA: regarding those inscrutable rebels who fight both for and against ISIS, Winston Churchill will set you straight.
"Any man or State who fights against Nazism will have our aid. Any man or State who marches with Hitler is our foe. This applies not only to organized States but to all representatives of that vile race of Quislings who make themselves the tools and agents of the Nazi regime against their fellow-countrymen and against the lands of their births. These Quislings, like the Nazi leaders themselves, if not disposed of by their fellow-countrymen, which would save trouble, will be delivered by us on the morrow of victory to the justice of the Allied tribunals. That is our policy and that is our declaration."
"Sometimes the one, sometimes the other; subsequently both; then, neither":* such is the secret inner essence of middle class rebels in general and many if not most "moderate" Syrian rebel leaders in particular.
Our prior post discussed how to destroy ISIS, viz., an all-inclusive International Alliance Against ISIS (IAAI). Unlike present American policy, the IAAI would eschew all Kewpie-pie games with traitors and Quislings, i.e., tools and agents of ISIS.
Paraphrasing Churchill, an authentic IAAI would never parley with the ISIS gang. Simple, no?
* * *
I am managing a young fighter whom I tout as "the next Muhammad Ali." I hold a meeting of prospective investors. You are among them.
"Skip the hype, " you demand: "What´s his record?"
One win, two losses, six draws/no contests.
Ugh. Nobody in his right mind would invest money in such a fighter.
His name: the United States Government.
Our post "America´s Fatal Flaw: The Belvedere Conundrum" (July 4, 2014) laid out the stark truth. The numbers given above are the United States war record. Go ahead -- take a closer look at it; you are staring in the face America´s hamarthia, i.e., fatal flaw, tragic error, trespass, vice, missing the mark. Our July 4 post concluded:
"America helped finish many wars. It confuses -- unconsciously so -- finishing with winning. On that point, the entire country is in a state of denial ... [w]hich is why you have never seen, and likely never will see, our viewpoint expressed anywhere else ...
When a purported solution -- in this case, war -- fails but is attempted over and over again anyway, the unconscious is in control. In the affairs of nations, the cause is the consequence: unwise. Missing the mark.
Our conundrum: What is in the American character that causes it to enter late -- that prevents it from winning, i.e., starting and ending, a war?"
Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, to mention only the three latest cases: American intervention in Syria exhibits the same pattern of piling on late. U.S. bombing of Syrian targets began on September 22, 2014. The Syrian Civil War began in March 2011. Fatalities are far and away the best indicator of war; equally true, the figures for deaths in Syria are disputed. Nobody, however, contests the following conclusion: the vast bulk of the civilian and military casualties occurred in the three and a half years before U.S. bombing began.
On the one hand; on the other. There´s the good side and the bad side. Ambivalence on the part of America toward ISIS** will only beget ambivalence on the part of America´s friends and allies not just in the Middle East but throughout the world. Syrian rebels, notably the SFA and SAC, are no exception.
President Obama, Secretary Carter, General Austin, what I am trying to tell you in a nice way is: your strategy for winning the war in Syria was born in a coffin. As our conundrum demonstrated, such is par for the course.
*The Source of Terrorism: Middle Class Rebellion, p. 62.
**On the one hand ISIS is barbaric; on the other hand, wow!! -- ISIS has $2-3 billion burning a hole in its pocket. Them durn Toyota guys, they´s beatin´ us ´merikins to the market!
U.S. ambivalence toward ISIS -- I will pass over allegations that in its early years ISIS was trained and equipped by the American government -- was examined in our post of May 30, 2015 "How to Defeat ISIS in Two Weeks":
"Richard Clarke, former top counter-terrorism official and White House Security Adviser to Presidents Reagan, Clinton and Bush, recently told CNN that the ISIS caliphate was a done deal. Clarke glibly pronounced that
´ISIS is very professional, very organized, has created successfully an Islamic state. Let's admit it. They run three or four cities. They probably have two million people under their control.´...
We must grant ISIS de facto recognition now, Clarke exhorts -- admit it. Make no mistake, dear reader: de facto recognition is the thin edge of the wedge to pry open the door to negotiations and deals with ISIS; otherwise, de facto recognition has no point.
´We will never parley; we will never negotiate with Hitler or any of his gang.´ Winston Churchill would have come down hard with both feet on Clarke and his ilk. We follow Churchill, not Clarke."
When it comes to handling Quislings, no need to be coy, Lloyd.