The Collision Course in Syria

Exclusive: President Obama’s continued insistence on “regime change” in Syria and his support for Sunni jihadists not called ISIS have escalated tensions with Moscow, especially after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane along the Syrian border. This division may help only the extremists, writes Daniel Lazare.

By Daniel Lazare

With Turkey downing a Russian Su-24 warplane along the Turkish-Syrian border this week, dire predictions about the dangers of escalation in the Syrian conflict are coming true. Events are spinning out of control as Syria turns into a happy hunting ground for military forces locked on a mutual collision course.

Up to 50 U.S. Special Operations troops are due to enter Syria shortly in support of a hastily assembled Arab-Kurdish coalition that could easily come under Russian or Turkish attack. The U.S. is stepping up its bombing raids, destroying another 238 ISIS fuel trucks in eastern Syria last weekend. Russia is targeting tankers plus an ISIS training camp in Idlib in Syria’s far north, while France has also upped its bombing campaign since Nov. 13 in response to ISIS claiming credit for the terror attacks in Paris.

Saudi King Salman bids farewell to President Barack Obama at Erga Palace after a state visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Saudi King Salman bids farewell to President Barack Obama at Erga Palace after a state visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

If Turkey seemed to be holding back from joining the fight against ISIS, the fact that ethnically-related Syrian Turkmen villagers have come into Russia’s line of fire as part of Moscow’s broader attack on Islamic militants seeking to overthrow the Syrian government may have been a significant factor in persuading Turkey to enter the fray by shooting down the Russian plane.

So, Turkey is fighting the Russians and Kurds, who are fighting ISIS, which is fighting the Syrian government plus Hezbollah and Iranian forces. ISIS has also blown up a Russian tourist flight over the Sinai, set off suicide bombs in Beirut and shot up civilians in Paris. It’s a three- or four-way brawl that grows more chaotic by the week.

The day before the Paris attacks, President Barack Obama told ABC This Week’s George Stephanopoulos that ISIS has been “contained” in its caliphate in northern Syria and Iraq. But now it is clear that ISIS has not been contained at all. Along with Al Qaeda, which claimed credit for a bloody assault on an upscale hotel in Bamako, Mali, ISIS is metastasizing across half the globe while many of the world’s leading powers throw themselves into the maelstrom.

A lot of people have had a hand in creating this perfect storm, but there is no question who has played the leading role, i.e. the United States. From the moment Obama declared in August 2011 that “the time has come for President Assad to step aside,” the “indispensable nation” has played an indispensable part in helping Turkey and the Arab Gulf states turn Syria into a bleeding wound.

Obama claimed to be seeking a democratic solution to Syria’s growing civil war, and initially the claim did not seem implausible. After all, he had a lot of important forces on his side. One was Turkish President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan, hailed by not only the White House but the Washington Post and New York Times as living proof that Islamism and democracy could be successfully combined.

Another was Saudi Arabia, a country synonymous with “moderation” as far as official Washington is concerned, plus the other Gulf states as well. Economically flush after oil had stabilized at $100 a barrel, the petro-sheiks promised to help with “regime change” in Syria, so how could Obama go wrong?

One Wrench?

From this viewpoint, there was one wrench in the works Iran. A key backer of the Assad government, it was a regional threat that many Western experts agreed had to be put in its place.  Never mind that these same experts had almost unanimously backed George W. Bush’s disastrous invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq — their arguments carried the day regardless.

Thus, Obama’s Syria policy all but wrote itself. Overthrowing Assad in order to curtail Iranian influence would be the chief goal, while funding would come from the Gulf states. Working with Syrian exiles in southern Turkey, the C.I.A. would see to it that the arms and money reached the right rebel groups.

It all seemed so simple. Tinkers to Evers to Chance: with so many “moderates” playing ball, “moderation” would surely emerge triumphant.

But the effort soon encountered bumps in the road. With mobs chanting “Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the coffin,” Syrian opponents of Assad soon turned out to be less democratic than previously believed.  With Syrian minorities not just Alawites, but Christians, Druze, Yazidis, and others huddling in fear over the prospect of a militant Sunni victory, growing numbers threw their support behind Assad. So did Sunnis appalled at the prospect of returning to a mullah dictatorship that the Baathist government had successfully overthrown.

The local forces working with the C.I.A. in Turkey turned out to be members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the militant fundamentalist outfit whose longtime slogan declares: “Allah is our objective; the Qur’an is the Constitution; the prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; death for the sake of Allah is our wish.”  ErdoÄŸan turned out to be an authoritarian drawn to ever more extreme forms of Sunni Islam while the Gulf states turned out to be autocratic, no surprise for anyone remotely familiar with their political structures. Instead of democrats, they therefore channeled money to Sunni extremists eager to drown Shi‘ite resistance in blood.

Although the White House did its best to avert its eyes, Al Qaeda was also a growing force among the rebels, as was ISIS (also known as Islamic State, ISIL or Daesh). Rather than “moderation,” such forces stood for sectarianism, bigotry and jihad.

Massive Miscalculation

A quarter of a million people would eventually die as a consequence of Obama’s miscalculation, 7.6 million would be displaced, and another four million would be driven abroad, all this in a country of just 22 million prior to the onset of civil war.

To put this in perspective, it is as if 3.6 million Americans had died as a result of a foreign-financed civil war, 110 million had been driven out of their homes, and another 58 million had been forced to flee abroad to Canada, Mexico or whatever other country would take them, where they would have no choice but to beg or perhaps sell ballpoint pens to passers-by in hopes of scratching out a living.

Instead of democracy, the U.S.-led push to overthrow Assad put Syria on the path to catastrophe.  Obama could have hit the pause button at any point once it became clear where the effort was going.

The period following the August 2013 Ghouta poison gas attack, when it became clear that the rush to blame Assad had nearly led to an all-out NATO assault, would have been a good moment for a reappraisal. But the timing was wrong. The Saudis, Turks, and Israelis were all uneasy that Obama was seeking a rapprochement with Iran, and they would have been doubly spooked if Obama had backed off from his vow to overthrow Assad.  Hence, Obama felt he had no choice but to double down. Destroying Syria was easier than disrupting key Middle Eastern alliances.

Something similar would later occur in Yemen. As U.S. and Iranian negotiators edged closer and closer to a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, the Obama administration had to be ever more sensitive to its allies’ concerns. This was especially the case with Saudi Arabia, the dominant power in the region, which was alert for the slightest indication that Washington was tipping in favor of its archenemy.

After pouring “hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons” into the anti-Shi‘ite struggle in Syria, as Joe Biden would put it; sending troops to put an end to democratic demonstrations into Shi‘ite-majority Bahrain, and then savagely repressing Shi‘ite protests in their own Eastern Province, the Saudis decided that the time had come to suppress yet another Shi‘ite force.

This was the Shi‘ite Houthi tribesmen in Yemen who had risen in revolt against a rising tide of Saudi-funded Sunni-Wahhabist radicalism. Claiming that the Houthis were nothing more than a cat’s paw for Iran, the Saudis, backed by most of the other Gulf states, commenced nightly bomb raids that quickly reduced the already impoverished country to ruin.

This would have been another appropriate time to hit the pause button. After signing on to the anti-Shi‘ite crusade in Syria, Obama might have decided that one jihad was enough. But instead he ordered the Pentagon to provide technical backup for the Saudi war machine, selling the kingdom $1.29 billion worth of smart bombs to replace those used to flatten Yemeni neighborhoods and sending airborne tankers to refuel Saudi fighters in mid-flight so they could reach their targets.

By Nov. 13, U.S. tankers had flown some 471 refueling sorties, delivering more than 17 million pounds of fuel. As a result, more than 2,500 civilians have died, according to UN estimates, while health, water, and sanitation services have all been brought to the brink of collapse.

“The reason the Saudis are there conducting these airstrikes,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said earlier this month, “is because of the ongoing violence stoked by Houthi rebels.” If translated into straight talk, he was saying that the Saudi Wahhabists are right because they are an essential ally of the United States while Shi‘ites are wrong because they are not. The importance of maintaining the Washington-Riyadh axis trumps all other considerations.

Worsening Violence

The upshot has been widening waves of sectarianism and violence. Although few Western observers will admit it, Assad has done the world a service simply by hanging on. If he hadn’t, a path would have been cleared for an ISIS takeover in Damascus, the consequences of which are all but incalculable.

With Islamic State’s black banners flying from the presidential palace, there would not be a million refugees pounding on European doors, but three, four or maybe five times that number. Instead of 130 dead in Paris, there would be thousands as ISIS used its control of an entire nation-state to launch more and more attacks.

The Saudis wouldn’t care since they have all but closed their doors to the refugees, few of whom want to live in bizarre and brutal theocracy in the first place. But the resultant tidal wave would all but swamp Europe, pumping up xenophobia to ever higher levels.

Since the Paris attacks, the ultra-right has been on the march from one end of the Continent to the other.  In France, where Marine Le Pen is surging in the polls, the possibility of a National Front victory in the 2017 presidential elections can no longer be dismissed. In Germany, the anti-immigrant Pegida movement is drawing record crowds. In Prague, Czech President MiloÅ¡ Zeman recently addressed an anti-Muslim rally.

In the Polish city of Wroclaw, nationalists chanting “God, honor, and Fatherland” recently burned an orthodox Jew in effigy at an anti-immigrant demonstration in the Polish city of WrocÅ‚aw. (Go to 3:30 for footage of the burning.) The twisted thinking apparently is that since international forces are seemingly flooding Poland with refugees, Jews must somehow be responsible.

In Ukraine, ultra-rightists told a crowd of 500 people in Kiev that their country was in the “grip of the world Zionist conspiracy.”

All this is without ISIS seizing state power in Syria, so imagine what would happen if it did. Obama should be careful what he wishes for since he just might get it.

Turkey’s downing of a Russian Su-24 is yet more good news for ISIS. All at once, French President François Hollande’s dreams of a united front with Russia against Al Qaeda and ISIS have been dashed. Obama’s told-you-so tone at his press conference with Hollande on Nov. 24 was revealing.

The incident, Obama told reporters, “points to an ongoing problem with the Russian operations in the sense that they are operating very close to a Turkish border, and they are going after a moderate opposition that are supported by not only Turkey but a wide range of countries. And if Russia is directing its energies towards Daesh and ISIL, some of those conflicts, or potentials for mistakes or escalation, are less likely to occur.”

In other words, if Russia doesn’t want to lose more planes, it should cooperate with the West’s strategy of avoiding attacks on Sunni jihadists not directly connected to ISIS.

“The challenge,” Obama went on, “has been Russia’s focus on propping up Assad rather than focusing on ISIL.   It’s difficult because if their priority is attacking the moderate opposition that might be future members of an inclusive Syrian government, Russia is not going to get the support of us or a range of other members of the coalition.”

This is the “moderate” opposition that on Monday appealed to Al Nusra to sever ties with Al Qaeda and cooperate with the rest of the rebel movement. “I call on the honorable Syrian revolutionaries in this group” said Khaled Khoja, leader of the Syrian National Coalition, the main opposition body, “to return to the broad umbrella of the Syrian revolution and spare the country further destruction.”

If Khoja regards the head-choppers of Al Nusra as honorable revolutionaries, then what does it say about the rebel opposition as a whole? Isn’t it yet another example of expanding the definition of “moderate” to include Sunni sectarians who want to turn Syria into an Islamic state?

Patrick Cockburn, the London Independent’s estimable Middle East correspondent, recently pointed out that ISIS can only be defeated “when its many enemies are more united.” But with Turkey shooting down a Russian plane and Obama refusing to cooperate with Russia as long as it cooperates with Assad, those claiming to oppose ISIS have never been more splintered.

Thanks to this continued U.S. insistence on “regime change,” extremist prospects are looking up.

Daniel Lazare is the author of several books including The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace).

26 comments for “The Collision Course in Syria

  1. December 5, 2015 at 18:49

    Mr. Lazare,
    In the last week to ten days, I found an interview of around ten minutes of yourself posted on The Real News Network’s YouTube channel. Your interview was taken down within 24 hours after initial posting, and TRNN has seemingly avoided posting on the situation in Syria since. Being a follower of both TRNN and Consortium News, and for the sake of total transparency, reliability and journalistic honor, could you please let concerned people know why your TRNN interview was posted, then disappeared? The over 100,000 followers of TRNN’s YT channel have an interest in knowing the facts/circumstances, to understand whether or not TRNN did or did not act morally in this instance. I found it puzzling and somewhat disturbing, so asking for clarification.
    Thank you.

  2. Zachary Smith
    November 30, 2015 at 21:32

    Thanks to the author for this very thought-provoking essay.

  3. Peter Loeb
    November 30, 2015 at 16:42


    With all due respect I feel the conclusion is tragically in error.

    “Thanks to this continued U.S. insistence on “regime change,” extremist prospects are looking up.”

    If Mr. Lazare anticipates this ending of the intrigue he has put before us,
    then the future will be the creation of another Libya.

    I cannot say this will not happen. I can only hope.

    —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  4. Andoheb
    November 30, 2015 at 13:18

    Slightly off topic but very relevant. Despite massive coverage of the Syrian crisis from almost every angle, there is one key topic that has not been addressed. To wit: to what extent are draconian western Syria sanctions responsible for the mass exodus from that tortured nation?

  5. Arnieus
    November 30, 2015 at 09:24

    Assad is supported by 80-90 percent of Syrians of all types. There is no difference between moderate and extreme terrorists. All are trying to usurp power from a democratically elected government recognized by the UN. Most of ISIS, ISIL, Nusra, Al-Qaeda terrorists are foreign mercenaries trained and supported by Israel and the US. All terrorists are legitimate targets. Even the Turkeys who commit war crimes every time they enter Syria.

  6. Mortimer
    November 29, 2015 at 15:50

    Wars ‘useful’, says US army chief

    Story from BBC NEWS:
    Published: 2004/01/22

    The head of the United States army has said that the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have provided a “tremendous focus” for the military.

    General Peter Schoomaker said in an interview with AP news agency that the wars had allowed the army to instil its soldiers with a “warrior ethos”.

    But the general, who became chief of staff in August, denied warmongering saying the army must be ready to fight.

    He also said he doubted recruiting more troops was a solution to army stress.

    “ Now we have this focusing opportunity, and we have the fact that terrorists have actually attacked our homeland, which gives it some oomph ”

    ‘Silver lining’

    General Schoomaker said the attacks on America in September 2001 and subsequent events had given the US army a rare opportunity to change.

    “There is a huge silver lining in this cloud,” he said.

    “War is a tremendous focus… Now we have this focusing opportunity, and we have the fact that [terrorists] have actually attacked our homeland, which gives it some oomph.”

    He said it was no use having an army that did nothing but train.

    “There’s got to be a certain appetite for what the hell we exist for,” he said.

    “I’m not warmongering, the fact is we’re going to be called and really asked to do this stuff.”

  7. Chris H
    November 29, 2015 at 03:50

    In this era of US propaganda and catchwords its easy to see the hypocrisy and blatant misrepresentations being foisted on the American people. For example, take a look at the ‘moderate rebels’ in Syria with the Russian pilots body as they chant Allah Akbar and regret they didn’t burn him alive. There is no real difference between these guys and ISIS. Now take a look at children in East Ukraine that are referred to as “Russian backed separatists” in an ATO (Anti-Terrorist Operation).
    Donetsk –
    Luhansk –

    In the US media Ukrainian kids are terrorists and Russian separatists that the US State Department encouraged the bombing of, while real terrorists/murderous jihadists in Syria are given the heart-warming title of ‘moderate rebels’. It is astoundingly obvious bias and Orwellian doublespeak. Also note that the US media has worn out the catchword “barrel bombs” and has now started describing the Russian bombing campaign against ISIS as “Russian raids” while rarely conducted US bombing operations are called “successful sorties”. Unbelievably pathetic propaganda is being foisted on the American people. Finally, also check out how PBS was caught using Russian bombing footage with cyrillic lettering and ascribing it to the US while a Pentagon spokesperson was interviewed. This is how bad the propaganda has gotten. They are actually using Russian bombing footage and claiming it as their own.

  8. Joe Tedesky
    November 29, 2015 at 03:01

    Everything is coming down too keeping your eye on the Turkish-Syrian border. I’m hoping that a wild card draw, will be a Turkish coup taking out Erdogan (I guess). Question is, will Assad outlast Erdogan? I have a concern with F16’s flying along that Turkish-Syrian corridor. I’m not sure what tolerance or fail safe may be gaged within the targeting of a Russian S400 defense system, but I hope it has some. I will bet you there are a few Big Brass with NATO, who wouldn’t mine getting too see that famed Ruskie S400 in action, just too see what it does. Nothing wrong with that, as long as you don’t set of WW3 by satisfying your militarist curiosity. With Erdogan so much in the news, this has to be a good thing for the chocolate King Poroshenko. Are the lights on in Crimea?

  9. Abe
    November 28, 2015 at 18:25

    To ensure that NATO’s plans are fully derailed along the Turkish-Syrian border, Russian-backed Syrian troops must ensure a substantial deterrence exists specifically to face this threat. Diplomatically, offers to establish a border guard or peacekeeping force on the Syrian side to compliment NATO’s within Turkish territory may be the best way to ensure NATO’s ambitions remain where they are.

    What the Wall Street Journal and the policy think-tanks repeatedly attempt to lay out is a narrative that claims in order to stop terrorists from passing through Turkish territory and into Syria, for some reason NATO needs to occupy Syria itself.

    It is a narrative that defies reason and logic, and also fails to address the ports of entry terrorists, funds, and weapons are entering into Turkish territory from before heading onward to Syria – likely because those are ports – seaports and airports – controlled directly by NATO and Ankara itself.

    As the conflict appears to be drawing to a conclusion favorable to Syria and its allies, Damascus, Moscow, and Tehran must remain vigilant of the West’s designated “wild cards,” Turkey in the north, and Israel to the southwest. When tensions between NATO seem at their highest, what is more likely at play is a means of creating collective “plausible deniability” for NATO ahead of another act of war by one of its individual members or allies.

    For Moscow in particular, the downing of its Su-24 should be fair warning that while cooperation should continue to be sought as a matter of good diplomacy, treachery must be expected as a matter of good strategic planning.

    URGENT: US-Turkey Edging Up to Syrian Border
    By Tony Cartalucci

  10. Abe
    November 28, 2015 at 18:16

    the Harvard-educated 35-year-old son of Turkish President Erdogan, Bilal Erdogan, was up to his eyeballs in smuggling stolen Iraqi oil via Turkey to select markets. That illegal oil finances the major activities of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, a point of which Russia’s Putin gently reminded US President Obama and others at the recent Antalya, Turkey G-20 meeting. Fourteen months of alleged US bombings of ISIS targets never once went after the oil chain from Mosul and other ISIS occupied sites through Turkey onto tankers owned by Bilal Erdogan’s tanker companies.


    Recep Erdogan would never risk such a dangerous bold and illegal action against Russia on whom Turkey depends for 50% of her natural gas imports and a huge part of her tourism dollar earnings merely because the family ISIS oil business was being bombed away by Russian jets.

    There were clearly serious silent backers egging Erdogan on to commit the act. What role did the emotionally unstable US Defense Secretary and neo-conservative Russophobe Ash Carter have, if any, in the downing of the SU-34 and later the Russian rescue helicopter? What role did Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ‘Fighting Joe’ Dunford play, if any? What role did the British secret services play, if any? What role did the Israeli IDF and Mossad play, if any, in the Turkish deed?

    It would be interesting were Russia to issue an Interpol warrant for the arrest of Bilal Erdogan and place him on trial for war crimes in an honest international tribunal. I could imagine that taken away from the protection of his pappy in Turkey, that the young Bilal might sing like a proverbial canary. Clear is that Erdogan and his partners in this crime, whoever they are, have just taken a huge step to escalating a global war.

    Erdogan’s Russian Roulette–Was It Only About Oily Revenge?
    By F. William Engdahl

  11. Tom Welsh
    November 28, 2015 at 15:15

    Bear in mind that every single US soldier who enters Libya without permission, every single US jet that enters Syrian airspace without permission, is breaking international law and could legally be destroyed without the slightest guilt on the part of the defence forces.

    How come nobody seems to remember that? Well, it’s because of this thing called “The Melian Dialogue” which took place more than 2400 years ago. The important part, which supersedes (and always has, and always will) ALL international treaties and agreements, is this:

    “…right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”.

    In other words, the only safety there has ever been is absolutely certainty that your military strength is at least equal to that of other powers. Therefore treaties and always are only valid when made between powers of similar strength, who cannot afford to risk the uncertainty of war. Between the clearly stronger and the clearly weaker, laws and treaties have no meaning and are irrelevant, because “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”.

    The behaviour of the US government since 1945 is the clearest proof of these statements that history affords.

  12. Tom Welsh
    November 28, 2015 at 15:00

    Funny how, when Obama takes decisions that get 250,000 people killed it is “a miscalculation”. When Saddam Hussein, Qadafi or Al-Assad do things that get people killed it’s because they are “cold blooded butchers”. The USA must be easily the world all-time record holder for killing people through honest mistakes with the best of intentions. 3 million (plus) in South-East Asia, rapidly approaching 3 million in Iraq – hey, that’s a whole Holocaust already! But no one meant any harm, so that’s all right. And the dead people aren’t complaining, are they?

    • nexusxyz
      November 28, 2015 at 21:16

      Estimated 20m or so have died as a result of US policy ‘enlightenment’.

    • Erik
      November 29, 2015 at 08:48

      Actually the casualties of US bullying are way ahead of the jewish holocaust: roughly 2 million in fire-bombing of Korea after that war, 1-2 million in Vietnam, 2 million in bombing Cambodia, 1+ million in suppressing “communism” in Indonesia, and 1 million in Iraq/Afpak II, even if we don’t count the Pol Pot victims resulting from US involvement there.

      Just imagine all the US deaths that would have immediately resulted if we didn’t have the neocons to defend us from having to use communist cinnamon and silks from Vietnam, or having to hear about communist economic progress in Cambodia or Afghanistan or Indonesia to match that of China. We might well have been drawn into some diabolical liberal plan to lift the third world from poverty, or even tax millionaires more than the rabble!

      The dead victims are very cooperative with the mass media of oligarchy, and report no harm done.

  13. David Smith
    November 28, 2015 at 14:29

    Phase One Is Accomplished!!!!! ( cue Satanic Horde shreiking with delight). This is not blowback or a confused failing policy. Everything is going according to plan. USA, Saudi, Turkey, Jihadists are all on the same page, a case of Daesh-R-US. It is clear to me, but only recently, the Big Evil Plan all along has been to draw out Russia into the Syrian mess. Now the real fun and games start. As for Phase Two, I don’t wanna think about it, but I fear it has something to do with that Iron Silk Road project………..

    • Joe
      November 29, 2015 at 08:26

      US sponsorship of Alqaeda & Daesh against Russian influence in Syria is a neocon re-run of Reagan creating Alqaeda in Afghanistan as a quagmire for Russia. The provocateur downing of the Russian fighter was a test of NATO memory of Archduke Ferdinand’s assassination leading to WWI via opposing mutual-defense treaties. Wherever they can pose as protectors by killing civilians, pose as patriots by ruining the reputation and influence of the US abroad, and wrap themselves in the flag to disguise their treason and accuse their moral superiors of disloyalty, they will do so. It is a simple game and it has worked throughout history, as Aristotle warned millennia ago of the tyrants over democracy.

  14. dave
    November 28, 2015 at 14:22

    n the Polish city of Wroclaw, nationalists chanting “God, honor, and Fatherland” recently burned an orthodox Jew in effigy at an anti-immigrant demonstration in the Polish city of Wrocław. (Go to 3:30 for footage of the burning.) The twisted thinking apparently is that since international forces are seemingly flooding Poland with refugees,
    Jews must somehow be responsible
    well, yeah, right. haven’t you ever heard of the project for a new american century plan to destabalize the middle east by breaking up iraq, lebannon, iran, and syria?

    • posa
      November 30, 2015 at 19:20

      You’re referring to Operation Clean Break… and indeed it was drafted by neoCon Likuds for the Israeli government which officially rejected it… However, Clean Break (non-stop regime change in the ME) was adopted as the bi-partisan consensus in the Clinton Admin, then escalated (with the cheers and votes of the Clintons) by Bush and then Obama.

      The US led- coalition has reduced the ME to a pile of smouldering rubble presided over by brainless jihadi war-lords… this gives the US effectively strategic control of the ME and all shipping and naval lanes in the Mediterranean.

  15. F. G. Sanford
    November 28, 2015 at 13:52

    The other day, Putin, with his signature deadpan comedic straight face, asked Hollande to provide a map which outlined the locations of the “moderate” terrorists so he could avoid bombing them. The entire Vienna Conference should have fallen on the floor in convulsive laughter…but nobody got the joke. As for Al Nusra separating from Al Qaida, it seems somebody didn’t get the memo. Al Qaida in Syria actually is…well, Jabhat Al Nusra. So, they couldn’t very well separate from themselves without giving up the proverbial ghost. But what I really wonder most about all these self-proclaimed, ratified by consensus think-tank middle east “experts” is, do they realize what the “Caliphate” would be all about? Groups like WINEP, Institute for the Study of War, Brookings, The Hudson Institute, The Jamestown Foundation, CFR, The Trilateral Commission – all thoroughly infested with neocons – don’t seem to realize that the first thing the original “Caliphate” did was sanctify the Al-Aqsa Mosque. That’s in Jerusalem, by the way. So, what these neocons seem to be all about is insuring that Sunni Wahhabist Islam will eventually rule over all of the middle east…except Israel. Now, that’s a bizarre position if ever there was one. Imagine: Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Emirates, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Turkey, Somalia, Lebanon and Jordan all under one big happy tent, and Israel fat, dumb and happy right in the middle! Boy, if ever there were a coalition that could hold the world hostage! And does anybody really think they wouldn’t eventually get around to reclaiming Caliph Umar’s pet project – the Al-Aqsa Mosque? It’s one of those Arab truisms – like the enemy of my enemy – that the near enemy must be conquered before the far enemy. In this case, the “far enemy” is not Assad, but Israel. President Obama, if he actually does have a strategy, seems to have adopted the “give them enough rope and they’ll hang themselves” philosophy. But hey, what’s a little nuclear fallout among friends? So please, dear Consortium readers, can somebody “‘splain me dat”?

    • Abe
      November 28, 2015 at 14:30

      I got your hasbara, right here:

      “Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.”
      — Ariel Sharon, quoted by Robert I. Friedman, Zealots for Zion: Inside Israel’s West Bank Settlement Movement (New York, New York: Random House, 1992), 132-52.

      The Zionist vision of the world “repaired” is Israel fat, dumb, happy, and nuclear armed to the teeth right in the middle, controlling all that oil and gas.

      But first, a little “creative destruction” is necessary, just like the Bible says.

      That means NO competitors, so “bomb, bomb, bomb” Iran and dismember Russia.

      Yes, Israel is the “far friend” of the Liver-eaters, who will eventually get the credit for clearing the real estate on the Temple Mount and cleansing ארץ ישראל השלמה‎, Eretz Yisrael Hashlemah of the un-Chosen.

      • Joe
        November 29, 2015 at 07:59

        He did not suggest that, but rather attributed that goal to the neocons.

    • November 29, 2015 at 11:26

      the zionist manipulation is evident when one pulls the veil of zionist controlled media aside. one publication that helps to remove the veil is “Image and Reality of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” by Norman G. Finkelstein (second edition 2003).
      another is a publication “War Profiteer Story.” reach it through the following link.

    • runaway robot
      November 30, 2015 at 15:01

      Thanks for that hilarious and accurate comment, Fred!

  16. WG
    November 28, 2015 at 13:30

    Has the US released any footage of their bombing runs on ISIS’ oil truck fleet? Last I saw, PBS played Russian bombing footage while talking to a US airforce general about US raids on the tankers.

    The precise numbers mentioned above certainly suggest that footage was recorded and analyzed, just curious if anyone has seen it yet.

  17. Ray McGovern
    November 28, 2015 at 12:43

    terrific article!

    minor comment on an apparent typo: I used a medium just now to talk with Joe Tinker, who confirms there’s no “s” on the end of his name.

    Tinker to Evers to Chance! … and I was just a boy, and not even a Cubs fan!

    • DK-5
      November 28, 2015 at 16:06

      Ray, the reason the Russian warplane was attacked–Putin doing too well against “the moderates”?

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