Rebuffing Peace Chances in Syria

Exclusive: Official Washington’s neocon-dominated “group think” on Syria is that everything is the fault of President Assad and Russian President Putin, but the actual history shows many missed opportunities for peace because of the U.S. obsession with dictating “regime change” in country after country, as Jonathan Marshall explains.

By Jonathan Marshall

Seeking to disrupt the lethal cycle of foreign intervention and military escalation in Syria, a group of 55 House Democrats recently sent a letter to President Barack Obama, calling for a change in U.S. policy.

“[I]t is time to devote ourselves to a negotiated peace, and work with allies, including surrounding Arab states that have a vested interest in the security and stability of the region,” they wrote. “Convening international negotiations to end the Syria conflict would be in the best interests of U.S. and global security, and is also, more importantly, a moral imperative.”

Secretary of State John Kerry arriving in Paris on Jan. 12, 2014, for diplomatic meetings on the Middle East. (State Department photo)

Secretary of State John Kerry arriving in Paris on Jan. 12, 2014, for diplomatic meetings on the Middle East. (State Department photo)

No one, except neoconservative die-hards who view diplomacy as the last refuge of wimps, can argue with their sentiment. But previous failed attempts to promote peace negotiations suggest that Syrian rebels want to talk only about the terms of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s surrender, or they won’t talk at all. Unless their foreign backers start turning the screws on these clients, the key players may simply refuse to sit down at the peace table.

The first Geneva conference on Syria was initiated by the United Nations peace envoy Kofi Annan in April 2012. Although the great-power participants agreed on the usual niceties, a transitional government, participation of all groups in a meaningful national dialogue, free elections, etc., the process foundered quickly when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted that Assad could not participate in the transition government. In August 2011, President Obama had rashly demanded that Assad step down as a precondition for political change in Syria.

Who’s to Blame?

Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari later blamed the United States, Britain and France for derailing a huge opportunity for peace. Norwegian General Robert Mood, who led a military observer mission into Syria that spring to monitor an abortive cease-fire, said after the breakdown of Geneva I, “it would have been possible to lead Syria through a transition supported by a united Security Council with Assad as part of the transition. . . . The insistence on the removal of President Assad as a start of the process led them into a corner where the strategic picture gave them no way out whatsoever.”

Contrary to the caricature presented in many Western media, the Russians did not then or later insist that Assad remain in power.

Rather, as President Vladimir Putin emphasized in late 2012, Russia’s “position is not for the retention of Assad and his regime in power at any cost but that the people in the beginning would come to an agreement on how they would live in the future, how their safety and participation in ruling the state would be provided for, and then start changing the current state of affairs in accordance with these agreements, and not vice versa.”

Or as two former members of the State Department’s policy planning staff put it, “For Russia, the Geneva process is about achieving a political settlement in Syria, not about great powers negotiating the end of the Assad regime. . . . Russia’s primary objective in Syria is not to provide support for Assad but rather to avoid another Western-backed effort at coercive regime change, and all of Russia’s actions are consistent with that objective. . . .

“Better US-Russian cooperation on Syria depends on demonstrating to Moscow that Assad and his cronies, rather than the opposition, US policy, or other states in the region, are the main obstacle to a settlement and to stability in Syria, as the US has long argued. That requires pushing ahead with a good-faith effort at a political settlement.”

Another Setback

Chances for peace were set back in spring 2013, however, when the political leader of the non-Islamist opposition, Moaz al-Khatib, resigned after failing to get support for a mediated end to the conflict. His interim successor, a Syrian-American named Ghassan Hitto, reportedly enjoyed strong backing from the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and “distanced himself from Al-Khatib’s willingness to negotiate with elements of the Assad regime in a bid to bring an end to the civil war.” Secretary of State John Kerry, who had replaced Secretary Clinton, was reported to be “sanguine at the news of the resignation.”

In May 2013, Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov agreed to give peace another chance and try to bring the government and opposition to the negotiating table. This time, significantly, Kerry did not demand that Assad step down as a precondition for talks. Then came the huge diversionary controversy over Syrian chemical weapons, with the White House claiming that the Assad regime had crossed the “red line.” Instead of peace, a vast escalation of the war loomed, until Russia helped broker Syria’s agreement to destroy all of its chemical weapons stocks.

Peace efforts suffered another setback that fall when Syrian opposition forces and their backers in Saudi Arabia and Gulf States balked after the UN envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Bahimi, said that Iran should be part of any settlement talks.

The Beirut Daily Star reported that “Many of Syria’s main rebel brigades rejected any negotiations not based on Assad’s removal and said they would charge anyone who attended them with treason.” A coalition of 19 Syrian Islamist groups called attempts to restart the Geneva talks “just another part of the conspiracy to throw our revolution off track and to abort it.”

In November 2013, under pressure from Washington and London, the main Syrian exile opposition group voted to attend a new round of peace talks, but only if Assad and others with “blood on their hands” were guaranteed to have “no role” in a transition government or Syria’s future, a non-starter.

The pro-Western National Coalition finally yielded and reluctantly agreed in January 2014 to join a new round of talks, but the more powerful Islamist rebel alliance continued to reject them. The negotiations quickly foundered, with Western powers blaming Damascus for refusing to get serious about a transition government, and Syria’s government insisting that it was committed to “stopping the bloodshed.”

The Ukraine Putsch

Soon, the Western-supported putsch against the Russian-backed government of the Ukraine caused a dramatic setback in U.S.-Russian relations, putting all progress in Syria on hold. Seeking to appease neoconservative critics who demanded even tougher interventions in both theaters, President Obama requested huge new sums of money to arm and train Syria’s rebels, and to beef up the U.S. military presence in Central and Eastern Europe.

In January 2015, Kerry finally began warming again to multilateral negotiations, with Russia’s participation. CIA Director John Brennan made the startling announcement that “None of us, Russia, the United States, coalition, and regional states, wants to see a collapse of the government and political institutions in Damascus.”

The French, longtime hardliners against Assad, also came around. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told a radio station, “The political solution will of course include some elements of the regime because we don’t want to see the pillars of the state fall apart. We would end up with a situation like Iraq.”

These were huge changes in the stance of Western interventionist powers, aligning them closely to Russia’s longstanding position based on the original Geneva principles. But of course these changes came too late. Aside from some modest-sized regions held by Kurdish forces (and thus opposed by Turkey), the Syrian opposition today is dominated by Islamic State and by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front.

Forcing Russia’s Hand

Continuing military gains by those extreme Islamist forces prompted Putin’s decision to send additional military aid to Damascus and begin for the first time bombing targets in Syria. As usual, domestic U.S. politics forced a reframing of the Syrian issue back into Cold War-era stereotypes as a contest between the United States and Russia. And the French have once again reverted to their intransigent position that “there can be no transition without [Assad’s] departure,” in the words of President Francois Hollande.

Most important, some 75 military factions operating under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army this month reached an unprecedented political consensus: They rejected plans for a peaceful transition of power put forth by UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura. Their political stance confirms that the FSA has become an ally, if not a wholly owned tool, of the Nusra Front.

Pursuing peace remains a worthy, indeed, the only sensible, goal of U.S. foreign policy in Syria. No one should be surprised, however, if Washington’s embrace of that goal comes too late. By pursuing regime change so long and so adamantly, the United States, Western Europe and various Arab powers fostered the rise of the radical Islamist opposition, which has absolutely no interest in peace. Foreign leaders can meet all they want in Geneva, Moscow, or wherever, but facts on the ground will determine the political future of Syria.

If there is to be any hope of an outcome short of a bloodthirsty Islamist victory, it will require a total commitment by foreign powers to halt their supply of money and arms to opposition forces that, for now at least, reject participation in the peace process.

Jonathan Marshall is an independent researcher living in San Anselmo, California. Some of his previous articles for Consortiumnews were “Risky Blowback from Russian Sanctions”; “Neocons Want Regime Change in Iran”; “Saudi Cash Wins France’s Favor”; “The Saudis’ Hurt Feelings”; “Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Bluster”; “The US Hand in the Syrian Mess”; and Hidden Origins of Syria’s Civil War.” ]

28 comments for “Rebuffing Peace Chances in Syria

  1. stinky rafsanjani
    October 26, 2015 at 08:56

    so the “moderate” rebels refuse to make peace despite the overtures
    by the legitimate, elected syrian president?

    seems eerily familiar…..remember long, long ago, when the “moderate”
    rebels – armed, trained, supported by the usa – were attacking gaddhafis

    the mad dictator made many offers of elections, autonomous
    regions, transitional government, etc in response to the demands of the
    “freedom fighters.” yet each time their demands were met, they would
    refuse – apparently under orders from youknowwho – and make more
    demands. demands that were eventually met, and again refused.

  2. John
    October 25, 2015 at 10:35

    A related point is that the Russians surely look upon America’s foreign policy dysfunctionality with horror, and on that basis, would support many different regimes with far-ranging problems before they would concede to Americanizing them. The implication being that their resistance to American proposals is fully rational, and goes beyond simply looking out for their own interests.

  3. Abe
    October 24, 2015 at 15:06

    In a desperate last bid, the US may try to seize and expand “buffer zones” within Syrian territory in the hopes that these expansions can at least Balkanize Syria before Russia and Syria are able to roll back terrorist forces from most vital regions. It will be a race between Russia and Syria’s ability to drive out terrorists and stabilize liberated regions and America’s ability to bolster terrorists in regions along the border while obtaining public support for providing these terrorists with direct US-NATO military protection. Somewhere in between these two strategies lies the possibility of a direct confrontation between Russian-Syrian forces and US-NATO forces.

    For the US and NATO, they would be provoking a wider war within the borders of a foreign nation in direct violation of the UN Charter, without a UN Security Council resolution, and with an entire planet now aware of their role in creating and perpetuating the very terrorist threat they have claimed now for a decade to be at ‘war’ with.

    Revealing the true nature of NATO’s “buffer zones” and the fact that they are aimed at saving, not stopping ISIS, Al Nusra, and other Al Qaeda linked extremist factions, further undermines the moral, political, diplomatic, and even strategic viability of this plan. By revealing to the world the true solution to solving the “ISIS problem” – cutting their fighters off from their Western and Arabian state-sponsors, opens the door to more aggressive – not to mention more effective – measures to defeat them both in Syria and elsewhere.

    That Russia has already begun taking these measures means that that window has closed further still for the US. The only question now will be whether the US concedes defeat, or escalates dangerously toward war with Russia to save a policy that has not only utterly failed, but has already been exposed to the world as a criminal conspiracy.

    Logistics is the lifeblood of war. Understanding this and denying the enemy the resources they need to maintain their fighting capacity is the key to victory. The Russians, Syrians, Kurds, and Iranians are strangling NATO’s proxies at their very source and instinctively, NATO has raised its hands in the form of a “buffer zone” to defend them and relieve the pressure – thus revealing the true nature of this regional conflict and the central role the West has played in creating and perpetuating ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other extremists currently ravaging Syria and beyond.

    US-Turkey “Buffer Zone” to Save ISIS, Not Stop Them
    By Tony Cartalucci

    • Mortimer
      October 26, 2015 at 12:57

      Abe, check this out — Posted today at:

      For a reality check let’s read what Debka has to say about the state of the art capabilities being brought to the theather of Syria and Iraq.

      The distance as the crow flies between Russia’s Syrian air base Al-Hmeineem near Latakia and its Iraqi host facility at Al Taqaddum Air base is 824 km (445 nautical miles). From the Latakia base to Israel, the distance is just 288 km or 155 nautical miles, a hop and a skip in aerial terms. Syria’s ruler Bashar Assad first let Moscow in with the use of a base where 30 fighter and bombing jets are now parked. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi followed suit Saturday, Oct. 24 by granting the Russian Air force the use of a facility 74 km from Baghdad.

      Their presence in the two bases draws a strong arc of Russian aerial control at the heart of Middle East. By boosting its two extremities with state-of-the-art electronic warfare systems, Moscow has imposed a new reality whereby it will soon be almost impossible for any air or ground force, American or Israeli, to go into military action above or inside Syria or Iraq without prior coordination with the Russians.

      The bricks of Russian domination are now almost all in place.

      In the last week of September, two Ilyushin-20 (IL-20 Coot) super-surveillance planes stole into Syrian airspace, to provide a major upgrade for the Russian air fleet of Sukhoi-30 fighter jets, cargo planes and attack helicopters gathering for combat in Syria.
      This was first revealed by DEBKA Weekly’s military and intelligence sources on Oct. 2.
      The IL-20s, the Russian Air Force’s top-line intelligence-gathering aircraft, brought over from the Baltic Sea, have exceptional features as an intelligence platform. Their four turboprop engines enable it to stay airborne for over 12 hours, using its thermal and infrared sensors, antennas, still and video cameras, and side-looking airborne (SLAR) radar to collect a wide range of data from long distances, day or night, in almost any kind of weather.

      The Coot-20 collates the data gathered and transmits it to intelligence or operational command centers in Moscow or its Latakia air base by powerful jam-resistant communications systems, satellites and other methods.

      Aloft over Syria, the IL-20 can supply Russian forces and commanders with a complete, detailed picture of the situation on the ground. Its close proximity to Israel, moreover, enables this wonder plane to scoop up a wealth of data from across the border – not just on IDF military movements on the Golan, but also to eavesdrop on electronic activity and conversations in Jerusalem, Military Staff Headquarters in Tel Aviv, Air Force bases in southern Israel and even the nuclear complex in Dimona in the Negev.

      DEBKAfile’s military sources add that an Il-20 Coot has been sighted in the last few days at the Iraqi Al Taqaddum Air base near Baghdad.

      Then, on Oct. 4, our sources reveal, another Russian super-weapon was brought to Syria by Russian cargo ships: Nine MT-LB armored personnel carriers fitted with the Borisoglebsk 2 electronic warfare systems, which are among the most sophisticated of their kind in the world.

      These APCs were secretly driven aboard tank carriers to Nabi Yunis, which is the highest peak of the Alawite Mountains along the coastal plain of northwest Syria, and stands 1,562 meters (5,125 feet) above sea level. To render the highly complicated Borisoglebsk 2 device system impermeable to attack, our electronic warfare experts describe it as fitted into the interior and walls of the nine APCS, along with receivers that can pick up transmissions on a wide range of frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum.

      From their mountain aerie, its antennas and powerful transmitters are designed to intercept and jam almost any radio signal carried by the electromagnetic waves in military or civilian use.
      Russian strategists posted this top-of-the-line system in Syria to enable the Russian air force to operate unhindered in Middle Eastern skies and, just as importantly, to neutralize US-led coalition special forces operating deep within Syrian territory, and block or disrupt the operations of rebel groups and Islamic State forces.

      The Borisoglebsk 2 system has only just started rolling off top secret Russian assembly lines. It took five years to plan and manufacture the system, which went into service for the first time at the beginning of this year on the Ukraine battlefield.

      From its vantage point in Syria, the Russian electronic warfare system could seriously impair the performance of Israeli intelligence and communication networks arrayed across the Golan and along the northern border in the upper and western Galilee. It could run interference against the IDF’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles (unless they were autonomous), the field operations of Israeli Special Operations forces and air and naval networks, which depend on communications networks in their defense of the country’s northern borders.

  4. Mortimer
    October 24, 2015 at 13:30

    “You may have noticed how I miss that little hardware store, as I hate shopping for a certain type screw at Home Depot. Although, that is another subject, for another day….peace!” – Joe Tedesky

    The little hardware store is just a great analogy to the present condition of the globalization/privatization of Everything scheme that has come to be.

    Mr Obama is, unfortunately, a progenitor of that scheme with his championing of these globalizing “free trade” agreements.

    We now life in the “McWorld” of corporate ownership of all that was once understood as The Common Good/ The Commons / the Well Being of All – as imagined by the writers of the Magna Carta, for example.

    We’re being ushered into a world of everyman for himself and “God (or luck) be with you” on the journey. — The haves & have nots are the new rules of the road— or, like a retreat to the era of Dickens on steroids — the 21st century is a new epoch, with electronic visuals and Doctor prescribed enhancements opening up many and varied Brave New Worlds where ‘what’ll happen next’ is always 1 or2 events away… .

    • Joe Tedesky
      October 24, 2015 at 14:41

      I’m one of those who believe that our schools should be small. You know, where a teacher would not only know the name of the student, but would also know the student’s parents name. With NAFTA Walmart was able to invade Mexico. Just to be clear, Walmart’s doing business there, put 28,000 small Mexician businesses out of business. I’m sure that within the continental United States, Walmart has racked up even more small business kills. Now, as you will read, Walmart is experiencing the ugly other side of Wall Street, as the big box chain struggles to compensate for their slight, and I mean very slight, raise they have given their employees. America, says no to building a suitable railway system, and yet, our airports are jammed to the max. Rather, than post a couple plain clothes U.S. Marshall’s onboard each flight, our powers to be prefer our airports take on the appearance of a detention center herding the rabble into their cells. Sorry, just had to say that. Yes, America has burdened itself believing that our corporations hold the secrets to life. These are the same corporations who escape paying U.S. taxes, by shifting their assets into foreign bank accounts. Pretty patriotic bunch, wouldn’t you say? American people not only fight their corporate desired wars, these good citizens even pay for this world’s destruction. There is good left in America, I just wish our leaders would see what kind of good we have. It isn’t having a big military. America is enriched with diversity of all kinds, and that diversity represents many ethnicities, and cultures, which represent many countries from all over the world. If our leaders were to wake up to this varied mix of people, then that would be America’s softest diplomacy, that the world has been waiting to hug.

    • Bob Van Noy
      October 24, 2015 at 14:48

      Mortimer, years ago I read the essay I (link below) about C.Wright Mills. He had died long before I read it and I was stunned by his prescience. I then read “The Power Elite” and while I found it depressing, it was brilliantly researched and adequately explained what I was experiencing. I was further impressed much later, to find that he wrote ”Listen Yankee” which might have been a best seller because he was doing “on the ground” research in Castro’s Cuba, but no, not much interest in America. (link below) I mention this because I now realize that because of America’s bias toward other political systems we have been blinded by propaganda, too often spread by our own government. If we were a truly “open society”, we would be much more curious about what others are doing and possibly succeeding at instead of seeing enemies everywhere. When will we learn?

      Jimmy Carter has an interesting Syria plan in todays digital Times…

      Too, I’m reading “The Devil’s Chessboard” by David Talbot with much interest.

      The essay:
      A review on Amazon:
      Devil’sChessboard link:

  5. David G
    October 24, 2015 at 11:08

    Thanks for a valuable look back at recent Syrian history, and the Western campaign to destroy the country.

    However, the final paragraph is optimistic to the point of naivete:

    “If there is to be any hope of an outcome short of a bloodthirsty Islamist victory, it will require a total commitment by foreign powers to halt their supply of money and arms to opposition forces that, for now at least, reject participation in the peace process.”

    The problem now is to try to *limit the escalation* as the U.S. arms its Al Qaeda allies with ever more powerful and plentiful weapons in what Washington is increasingly comfortable seeing as a good old’ proxy war against the Russkies.

  6. Peter Loeb
    October 24, 2015 at 05:49


    It is not long ago that such PR was constantly being put out by
    the west and its media. “Experts” were interviewed about what
    our path and policies should be after Assad’s fall which we were
    told was inevitable.

    As Jonathan Marshall documents, Washington made this
    impossible and Russia moved to defend its ally.

    Talk of the imminent collapse of Bishar al-Assad very suddenly
    disappeared from the so-called “balanced” reporting.

    I once wrote in this space under the comment title
    “THE EASY VICTORY” that the defeat of Syria seemed
    a foregone conclusion. Israel’s and the US fantasies of
    victory celebrations in Damascus of western forces
    supposedly of altruism for “democracy”. Or something.

    The entrance of Russia changed the equation quite
    suddenly for warmongers in western governments and

    There are few to no governments which would voluntarily
    submit to “transition” which means their total elimination from
    all power.

    From my own point of view, I would prefer that the
    Zionist government be forced to agree to “transition” as
    a precondition of a peaceful settlement of that conflict.
    Israel would not be a party to any discussions of their
    “voluntary” removal from power etc. Similarly, Saudi
    Arabia should not be involved in the only
    “peaceful” resolution for Saudi Arabia. All Saudi’s should
    voluntarily leave including Wahabes etc.

    Jonathan Marshall has in the above article documented
    the impossibility of Washington’s position.

    In dinnertable conversation a (US) supporter of Zionism
    began criticizing Russia’s military action. “What about
    the US’s 170 plus SOFA bases around the planet? Do you
    think for one moment that if a covert “coalition” invaded
    with the purpose of defeating the government with which
    the US had a (SOFA) agreement that the US would not
    defend its partner?” Noting that 170 bases was a conservative
    estimate, the pro-Israeli/anti Russian backed down. The issue
    was suddenly dropped.

    Jonathan Marshall has shown the effects on policy and indeed on
    war and peace of what is marketed as rhetoric in public discourse.

    —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  7. Mortimer
    October 23, 2015 at 19:40

    Good Work, Mr. Sanford!

    Excerpt from today’s Asia Times:

    The US’ notorious $500 million train and equip program and an overwhelming presence of foreign-funded fighters in Syria are enough to debunk the myth of a real “civil” war in Syria. The simple fact is that this is a war that’s been imposed on Syria. It has virtually no popular basis. This is evident from the fact that according to the UN, nearly 80% of the Syrian population is living in territory currently held by the Syrian government. What else could one demand as a “proof” of Assad’s legitimacy?

    One might argue that people flee from territories under Islamist forces’ control to avoid persecution but then fall a prey to the Syrian Army. They may face persecution in the form of Syrian Army investigations of their whereabouts and political affiliations. Notwithstanding this argument, the fact that people seem to willingly live and prefer the territory under the Syrian Army’s control provides equally strong evidence and a counter-narrative to the western-sponsored myth of popular “civil” war.

    Why Syrian people are fleeing from the territories under the control of Islamists is evident from a recently published report by Amnesty International, which claimed that fighters from militias have not only been forcing people out of their homes, but also burning them and sometimes razing whole villages.

    The Syrian government, which was re-elected in 2014, in the country’s first democratic election, thus becomes a “beacon” of hope for the people suffering at the hands of the Islamists. Speaking at the UN, human rights activist Judy Bello described the Syrian vote she witnessed saying: “Observing the popular support for the Syrian election was a moving experience. The people voted from their hearts. Here in the West … little more than 50% of the population votes. The overwhelming response of the people inside and outside of Syria sent a powerful message to the world of loyalty to their country and to the government that is currently safeguarding it.”

    It’s in this context that the underlying logic of the US’ policy of arming “friendly forces” is not only highly controversial but flatly fails to convince that the war is really “civil.” It’s ironic that while US officials rejoiced over the successful supply of weapons to “Syrian Arab Coalition,” it was only two weeks ago when the US government even began to even refer to the existence of such a coalition. It is also a coalition that Arab fighters in Syria say they have never heard of in the past.

    This “ghost group” and supplying of weapons to them reinforces the mutually conflicting postions of the US and Russia in the region. US officials continue to insist that the leaders of the Arab groups inside the this so-called coalition have been “vetted by the US.”

  8. F. G. Sanford
    October 23, 2015 at 14:35

    That squirmy worm Wurmser the Likud pot stirrer
    Came up with a dastardly plan.
    Dick Dracula Cheney and Paul Renfield Wolfman
    Colluded with weird Richard Perle.
    They formed up a group to cook up some soup
    That would dump sovereign states in the can.
    They thunk up their tricks around year ’96
    When Bibi was getting elected.
    But even before they were certainly sure
    Of the balkanized scheme they’d unfurl.
    Odet Yinon advised, and others surmised
    Inter-Arab turmoil injected-
    Between ethnic factions could stir up reactions
    That would break up the whole Shiite Crescent!

    Crumbling states were the terrible fates
    The new balance of power projected-
    Iraq chopped into three, Lebanon into five,
    If some moderate rebels were present,
    That would only leave Assad to combat a death squad
    Financed by the Gulf potentates!
    Once Bashar was done they could have some real fun
    Because crushing Iran would be pleasant!
    Antiterrorist war would distract from the gore
    Inflicted on Palestine’s inmates-
    Erdogan was elated, turkey shooting awaited
    The Kurds once a no-fly was slated,
    The last thing they needed were peace talks that heeded
    The sovereign government head!

    A place at the table for Jihadis able to chop and dismember
    Is what Madam Clinton preferred,
    And meanwhile those quotas of brand new Toyotas
    And plenty of weapons would spread,
    But a glance at a map in should impart quite a slap,
    Unless you’ve got brains like a bird-
    Turkey Jordan and Saudi have been really naughty
    Enhancing the terrorist dread.
    Our allies supplied them, Brennan’s boys mechanized them
    So why should a person have doubt?
    It’s plain to be seen that the Likudniks’ dream
    Is revision of borders unfettered,
    Moderate terror confirms with no error
    That regime change is what it’s about!

    The peace talk charade buys more time to degrade
    State structures where ISIS is clustered,
    The press was perfused with jargon confused
    By Neocon think-tank-splanations,
    Those terrorist hands had no blood so demands
    To include Assad had them all flustered-
    He has blood on his hands, everyone understands,
    That means terrorists get reservations!
    They’re not Syrians, but they further our plans,
    To pretend we have moral intentions-
    Diplomatic distractions may hamper the actions
    Of Putin to batten those flastards
    But no rational mind should object to the kind
    Of diplomacy Putin has mustered.

    • Traveler
      October 25, 2015 at 06:59

      Brilliant.The quality of the debaters here is amazing!
      Thank you all!

    • John
      October 25, 2015 at 12:07

      Well, when it’s all so transparent, why not…

  9. Bob Van Noy
    October 23, 2015 at 13:02

    Maybe the best exchanges anywhere, thanks Robert Parry and to all responders.

    • Mortimer
      October 23, 2015 at 14:30

      Conceptualism — (as relates to conceptional volition)

      (Philosophy) the philosophical view that There is no Reality independent of our conception of it, or that the intellect is not a merely passive recipient of experience but rather imposes a structure on it.
      Remember the Enron guys who deemed themselves “the smartest guys in the room” – as they manipulated and cheated energy markets, gaining dollars in the millions?
      Bush’s buddy Ken Lay was the conceptualist pushing that rip-off.
      Remember the boastful neocon chickenhawks who arrogantly declared that “they create reality” in their misguided clamor for war?

      This pair of “smartest guy” groups are birds-of-a-feather in their Conceptional Delusions of grandeur.

      To Wit, this reminder:

      • Joe Tedesky
        October 24, 2015 at 00:31

        I can’t express myself as well as I’d like too, but what you describe Mortimer, is humility vs hubris. History is littered with the tortoise and the hare, the David and Goliath, where the mighty fall under the sword of the downtrodden of humanity. You Mortimer, seem to understand that, but where on earth is this philosophy to be found within our Washington leaders? These people, we hope, are the smartest and brightest amongst us. Surely they learned much of what you did Mortimer, so why don’t they process their thinking like you do? Maybe what your thinking doesn’t take into consideration, is you are not bought and paid for to think about maximizing the corporate bottom line. So if spending the U.S. into an unplayable deficit clears a path to open up a couple new oil/gas pipeline routes, then you will be rewarded, as being a great thinker. Movies have often portrayed the deceitful diabolical villains, as being two guys, and a corrupt general. This combination of evil would probably accomplish a lot, considering their lean and effective deadly profile. On the other hand, so many have sold their soul to raise within the hubristic establishment, that they have created their own modern day Goliath of sorts. All this, while little David practiced and practiced, his rock throwing to a masterful skill of perfection with his aim. Mortimer, your thinking process really is the correct way to think, but these others are only in it for the money. Between the overloaded egos, to the surreal obese size of our U.S. Government, we have become a giant who swings at everything, and anything just because we can. This doesn’t mean we will always win, but we have media advisers to fix that when things go wrong, and they often do go wrong, so there is work for everybody. Mean while that lean rival over there, has only the ability to make ever punch count, and ever punch counted will find its mark, and every mark made will be counted. Remember, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

        • Mortimer
          October 24, 2015 at 11:14

          Your words brought to mind the Robert Redford movie, The Last Castle.
          It had the little guy vs big guy struggle inside a US military prison. Redford played the reluctant leader of the little guys. — Great thematic story. – Of course, the punished won in the end but the incidental learning was very inspirational.

          It is first-rate left wing vs right wing movie that hit theaters in the fall of 2001 while the Bush vs Gore vote count controversy festered.

          Some months later,if you remember, the major newspapers actually counted all Florida ballots and “discovered” that Gore actually won the election. Within that time period there occurred public meetings and inquiries in Florida, with much public testimony, associated to massive voter inequities, false disqualifiers, ballot dumping and other illegal activities carried on by Gov. Jeb Bush and the state of Florida.

          An atmosphere of tension was nationally pervasive as right wing belligerent ideology swept over our country with a nasty vehemence after that election. — And it has not abated, not at all.

          Sorry for my drift — The Last Castle was a spark of light and encouragement, at that historical moment, for me. I’m moved to search for the DVD right now – for a bit of refreshing thru the current gloom.

          Thanx for your insightful and clear POV, Joe T.

          • Joe Tedesky
            October 24, 2015 at 12:37

            A current movie with a recent sequel, which reflects the small yet effective battling the evil empire, is Star Wars. That is a great example, but a better example is the Americsn Revolution. Imagine, how Washington felt, when he watched his rag tag militia run in retreat to escape the British, when the colonist attempted to defend New York. Talk, about small against big. The only thing the colonist had going for them, was their will to separate their land from the British empires rule. This is also, a great example of people fighting to free their homeland, from empires rule.

            America, would do well, to follow the lead of the 55 congressional people who petitioned to accept Assad, and allow Syrian people the opportunity to assemble their own democratic government. Only, the likes of people such as Hillary Clinton become America’s true obstacle to attaining any real peace. America, would also do well to shut down the many military bases it has through out the planet. If America were to do such a thing, and then turn it’s attention towards building itself a new much needed infrastructure, well that maybe just the place whereas the Wall Streeters could profit, as opposed to their always anxious want to profit from war. Now a days, everything has to be big, but as the saying goes, bigger isn’t always better.

            You may have noticed how I miss that little hardware store, as I hate shopping for a certain type screw at Home Depot. Although, that is another subject, for another day….peace!

        • Kiza
          October 26, 2015 at 02:55

          “… where on earth is this philosophy to be found within our Washington leaders …”

          The rulers in Washington are ordering cafe latte to take out, I am sure they never want any philosophy with that. This is why they are called the latte class.

          • Joe Tedesky
            October 26, 2015 at 11:27

            “Latte class”, ha, ha, Kiza, I’ll have to use that line in my future comments. Thanks for the humor, we all need more of that.

  10. Joe Tedesky
    October 23, 2015 at 11:06

    When you read of how Russian jets are flushing out the rebel brigades into the ever waiting arms of the Russian coalition units on the ground, well that tells you something. Selling razors to fleeing ISIS soldiers could be very rewarding. The American GCC coalition was going to allow the ISIS types to destroy Syria, and then after Assad was gone, they would then do the easy mop up. The only problem to that plan, is the Russians are the ones doing the mop up. None of this, was suppose to be this way. The Yinon Plan clearly maps out Syria as being part of the new and improved ‘Greater Israel’, and that’s all there is to it. That shirtless Russian screwed up someone’s plan alright, so who will answer for it? If Putin is doing anything at all, he is beating the U.S. on the playing field. Putin, isn’t sitting in some conference room, enjoying his listening to himself.

    The one dread I have, is that the western economy will tank so bad, that the Wall Streeters will then need a war to regain there financial empire. These so called business people are not creative enough to find a way to make money in peacetime. War to them is profitable, and to them that’s good.

  11. Herman Schmidt
    October 23, 2015 at 10:51

    The national lines drawn by the Europeans for the Middle East when the Ottoman Empire collapsed have been criticized because they did not account for the homogeneity of groups, like the Kurds and had little input from the people themselves.

    But the importance of lines drawn, and national boundaries created cannot be overstated. They provide the basis for internal governance and international relations and we are seeing the results of these boundaries being destroyed.

    There should be no greater goal than the restoration of these boundaries as a beginning to offering some hope to the people in Syria and Iraq of peace and stability.

    The shortsightedness of the countries in the Middle East who have armed the rebels must be apparent or becoming so, with the possible exceptions of the Saudis and the Israelis.

    Wars are seldom worth it, but the defeat of the extremists is perhaps one of the reasons where force is necessary.

  12. onno
    October 23, 2015 at 10:45

    Jonathan Marshall, excellent analysis. It shows again that any Syrian peace initiatives were destroyed by Washington. It proves again that Washington and its neocons are only interested in maintaining its worldwide hegemony and don’t tolerate ANY opposing power such as Russia and China. Even after US Foreign policy total collapse in Iraq, Egypt, Libya and Ukraine Washington sticks to its stupid doctrines from Monroe (1823) to Wolfowitz and Bush, if you’re not with us, you’re against us’
    Add to this the powerful Western MSM propaganda we can understand that most of the Americans and Europeans have been brainwashed and lack objective news reporting as Jonathan just clarified.
    President Putin has said, he is worried about the fact that when negotiating with EU partners, you’ve to go to Washington!
    Anyhow, this lack of peace initiatives by the USA has now resulted in an open influx of millions of Muslim migrants to Europe and God knows how many ‘throat cutters’ are among them. Keep in mind that most of them lack education and 80% are men and under the age of 30!
    Apparently Washington denies any responsibility for migrant exodus from the Middle East and Afghanistan because of their bombing and refusal to finance refugee camps in the neighboring nations such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Now Europe is confronted with these ‘Weapons of Mass Migration’ book by prof. Kelly Greenhil (Stamford)
    Washington doesn’t seem to realize that USA/NATO and EU didn’t only lose the battle but also the wars and now has become isolated in the world since the power of common sense and humanity has triumphed.

    • October 23, 2015 at 14:10

      Is there indeed a total US foreign policy collapse in Iraq, Egypt, Libya, and Ukraine?

      Iraq under Saddam Hussein was a threat to Israel and he bought his arms from Russia and not from the USA. Gaddafi planned an African development bank and the gold dinar. After his murder, Libyan state funds and investments disappeared, stolen by big Western banks.

      Egypt is still a military dictatorship and Mubarak enjoys his retirement in peace and quiet. The Ukraine is a steadily increasing burden for the European Union, which is a military ally but nonetheless an economic competitor. The sanctions hurt Western Europe more than Russia, the refugee crisis hurts too. US firms love to see their main competitors in the tough international markets now distracted and weakened.

      Chaos in the surrounding Arab countries is in Israel’s best interest and this was always Israel’s preferred plan. Chaos in the Middle East secures billion dollar weapons purchases by Saudi Arabia, UAE, and other Arab monarchies. The US Military Industrial Complex rejoices as the Middle East descents into Chaos.

      Considering these points, US foreign policy is a rousing success.

  13. Bob Van Noy
    October 23, 2015 at 10:22

    Thank you Jonathan Marshall for the overview that was absent in yesterday’s article by Graham E. Fuller. It is important to see how nations maneuver in this process described as geo-political chess. As I interpret America’s position, it appears that the neocon approach of all war all of the time holds sway. This seems to be President Obama’s choice as well. This is why I continue to be more impressed with the scenario presented by Vladimir Putin and Sergey Lavrov as more diplomatic and thus more acceptable. Our policy, I think, must change, if not for the obvious reason that it isn’t working, then simply because America has exhausted its military and good will on this failed approach. For these reasons, I grow more concerned daily at the possibility of another Clinton presidency as Hillary is clearly a war hawk.

    • Mortimer
      October 23, 2015 at 10:48

      Bob Van Noy- “Our policy … .”

      [Is]Conceptional Volition –
      agenda, plan, scheme, project, predetermined coarse, machination, pursuit, etc.


      MARCH 02, 2007

      AMY GOODMAN: Do you see a replay in what happened in the lead-up to the war with Iraq — the allegations of the weapons of mass destruction, the media leaping onto the bandwagon?

      GEN. WESLEY CLARK: Well, in a way. But, you know, history doesn’t repeat itself exactly twice.

      I knew why, because I had been through the Pentagon right after 9/11.
      About 10 days after 9/11, I went through the Pentagon, and I saw Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. I went downstairs just to say hello to some of the people on the Joint Staff who used to work for me, and one of the generals called me in. He said, “Sir, you’ve got to come in and talk to me a second.” I said, “Well, you’re too busy.” He said, “No, no.” He says, “We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq.” This was on or about the 20th of September. [2002]

      I said, “We’re going to war with Iraq? Why?”
      He said, “I don’t know.” He said, “I guess they don’t know what else to do.”
      So I said, “Well, did they find some information connecting Saddam to al-Qaeda?”
      He said, “No, no.” He says, “There’s nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq.”
      He said, “I guess it’s like we don’t know what to do about terrorists, but we’ve got a good military, and we can take down governments.” And he said, “I guess if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail.”

      So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.”
      He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the secretary of defense’s office — “today.”
      And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.”
      I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, “You remember that?” He said, “Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!”

      • Alec
        October 23, 2015 at 11:23

        “..starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.”

        Apart from Somalia and Sudan the “taking out” of the other countries was first proposed by ‘advisers’ to netanyahu in 1996 as a way of protecting Israel (see CLEAN BREAK) after 9/11 the ‘advisers’ were parachuted into the bush government to steer US foreign policy to ensure that US dollars and US lives were spent in achieving objectives for the benefit of Israel … bush and blair both knew this which makes their war crimes that more heinous.

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