Obama’s Imperial Mideast Policy Unravels

Exclusive: President Obama’s Mideast policy is such a confusing mess that he is now supporting Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria although it’s primary target is not ISIS but another U.S. ally, the Kurds, explains Daniel Lazare.

By Daniel Lazare

In the 1930s, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain appeased his enemies. Today, U.S. President Barack Obama appeases his friends.

Barack the Appeaser is the key to unlocking the mysteries of U.S. policy in the Middle East and beyond. Confusing to begin with, U.S. actions reached new heights of absurdity last week when the Obama administration abandoned its long-standing Kurdish allies with virtually no notice and announced that it was backing a Turkish thrust into northern Syria instead.

President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, attends a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Dec. 12, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, attends a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Dec. 12, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Although the Turks claimed to be targeting ISIS (also known as Islamic State, IS, ISIL, and Daesh), it was plain from the outset that the real aim was to counter an offensive that had carried Kurdish forces some 20 miles west of the Euphrates River and put them in a position to control nearly the entire Syrian-Turkish border.

But there was a problem. Not only had the U.S. approved the same Kurdish offensive, but it had provided arms, money, and air support plus military advice in the form of some 250 US Special Operations forces embedded among members of the Kurdish militia known as the YPG.

Indeed, the Syrian Democratic Forces, a multi-ethnic militia anchored by the YPG, was a real success story, just about the only one Washington has had in the course of its disastrous five-year Syrian intervention. As one analyst put it:

“Since the creation of the SDF last November, the U.S.-backed coalition was able to roll back IS advances in northern Syria at an unprecedented pace.  An effective mixture of multi-pronged offensives and U.S. air support led to the capture of key IS strongholds, including the city of Shaddadi in eastern Syria, the strategic Tishrin Dam along the Euphrates, and more recently IS’s former bastion of Manbij, south of the Turkish border.”

But now the U.S. had decided to drop the Syrian Democratic Forces despite their sterling anti-ISIS record and back Turkey even though it didn’t seem very concerned about ISIS at all. Vice President Joe Biden laid down the law during a visit to Ankara on Wednesday.

“We have made it absolutely clear,” he said, that Kurdish forces “must move back across the river. They cannot, will not, and under no circumstances get American support if they do not keep that commitment, period.”

Why the About-Face

What is the reason for such a remarkable about-face? What makes the U.S. think it can get away with cultivating an alliance one moment and dropping it like a hot potato the next? The answer has to do with the phenomenon of liberal appeasement that Obama represents.

President Barack Obama walks along the Colonnade at the White House with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Dec. 7, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama walks along the Colonnade at the White House with then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Dec. 7, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Appeasement became a dirty word as a result of the 1938 Munich Crisis when Britain and France decided that allowing Hitler to dismember Czechoslovakia would somehow allay his appetite for more conquests. But in Obama’s hands, it has come to mean something different: an endless attempt to satisfy conflicting demands by a growing number of client states.

The states include not just Turkey but Israel, the Persian Gulf oil sheikdoms, plus the dozen East European states that have entered NATO since 1999. If America were an old-fashioned empire, it would issue orders and expect such dependents to fall into line. But as a “democratic” empire, it relies on cajoling, bargaining, and other inducements to achieve “voluntary” consent.

But this has grown increasingly difficult as the web of alliances has expanded. Not only have members grown more fractious and divided, but the original raison d’être – countering the Soviet Union – has faded from view. The upshot is a ramshackle arrangement whose existence is its sole justification and which the U.S. labors to keep afloat simply because that’s what global hegemons do.

Enter Barack Obama. A man of liberal but otherwise vague beliefs, his goal was to maintain the status quo while somehow rendering it more democratic. This has meant trying to satisfy everyone and his cousin, Balts and Poles given to flights of paranoia about Russian “expansionism,” rightwing Zionists convinced that the Palestinians are a combination of both Haman and Hitler, plus Middle Eastern oil sheiks busily financing jihad when not idling away at the fleshpots and casinos of Beirut.

Obama’s strategy has been to throw first one group a bone and then another in the hope of somehow keeping them from tearing each other apart. In other words, kick the can down the road until it becomes someone else’s problem.

With just six months left in office, he is close to achieving his goal. But Turkey has thrown him for a loop. Originally one of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s biggest boosters, Obama has grown increasingly dismayed as U.S.-Turkish relations have deteriorated.

After all, Erdogan’s brand of Islamic democracy is seemingly everything the U.S. could want, safe, pious, conservative, and pro-capitalist – the Muslim Brotherhood with a human face, so to speak.

So who would have thought that Erdogan would steer Turkey in an increasingly authoritarian direction and would turn a blind eye to the activities of both ISIS and Al Qaeda? The administration made half-hearted efforts to persuade him to cut off aid to such groups, but quickly backed off when he refused.

A Failed Coup

The crowning blow was the July 15 abortive coup d’état, which Erdogan accused the U.S. of supporting. The charge is almost certainly a bum rap. Mild centrist that he is, the last thing Obama wants is more turmoil in the Middle East, which is what a military takeover would have achieved. He was dismayed that Turkey could believe such a thing about the U.S. and, fearful that Turkey would switch allegiance to Russia and Iran, was desperate to heal the breach.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses citizens in front of his residence in Istanbul on July 19, 2016. (Photo from official website of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses citizens in front of his residence in Istanbul on July 19, 2016. (Photo from official website of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey)

The Kurds supplied the means for Obama to give something to Erdogan, who had provided ISIS with a safe haven and patronized Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Al Nusra. In a recent interview, Erdogan even denied that Al Nusra was terrorist at all.

Instead, Erdogan has long regarded the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the YPG, its military branch in Syria, as the prime enemy since he sees their goal as establishing a stronghold in northern Syria as a prelude to carving out an autonomous region in southeastern Turkey as well.

Hence, he responded to American efforts to help the PKK-YPG expand its Syrian enclave in roughly the same way that Israel would respond if the U.S. had started shipping arms to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon — with mounting fury.

Given all this, what better way was there for the United States to prove its bona fides to Erdogan than by dropping the Kurds and devoting itself exclusively to Turkish needs? With the Turks in charge of the second biggest army in NATO, the valiant but lightly armed fighters of the YPG didn’t stand a chance.

This is why Biden read the riot act to the YPG in Ankara. But however menacing the tone, his statement was an expression of weakness rather than of strength, an example of a superpower struggling to hold together a fractious empire that is increasingly coming apart at the seams. Thus, it was the Turks who barked out orders and Americans who hastened to obey.

But the new orientation is not likely to work out as smoothly as Obama hopes. Fighting was intensifying as of Sunday as Turkish forces took Jarablus, located some 20 miles south of the Turkish border, then headed toward Manbij, a city that cost the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces more than 260 lives in the months-long battle to wrest it from ISIS control. An outside monitoring group said Turkish artillery and air strikes killed 35 civilians while the Turkish military said that 25 Kurdish militants were killed as well.

The YPG is not likely to take this lying down. If so, then another battle for Manbij could well be underway, one pitting a U.S.-backed force against another that was U.S.-backed until just a few days earlier.

As for ISIS and Al Qaeda, the rag-tag “Free Syrian Army” force that Turkey assembled for the invasion includes Salafists and members of Ahrar al-Sham, an ally of Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front (which recently changed its name to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, or Front for the Conquest of Syria).

So the U.S. is now backing pro-Al Qaeda fighters against a group that has shown its mettle in battling such forces. As for ISIS, the Turkish incursion merely provided the group with an opportunity to regroup some 40 miles to the west where it took the border town of Al-Rai from the pro-U.S. FSA. While it lost one border stronghold, it gained another.

Wagging the Dog

Thus, the U.S. may have realized a short-term gain in its rapprochement with Turkey but at a long-term cost. It has jettisoned the one effective anti-ISIS force in its arsenal, it has all but destroyed its credibility, and it is undoubtedly prolonging the bloodshed in Syria as well. The entire maneuver is an expression of U.S. weakness rather than strength.

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)

What holds true for Turkey, moreover, holds true for other allies. The U.S.-Saudi alliance is yet another example of the tail wagging the dog. Over the decades, Washington has spared no effort to appease the increasingly duplicitous and unstable regime in Riyadh.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was not only an attempt to get rid of a long-term U.S. enemy but, at bottom, an effort to divert attention from the Saudi role in the attack on the World Trade Center. Obama continued the cover-up by keeping under wraps the famous ’28 pages’ – actually a 29-page chapter – on Saudi complicity in the congressional 9/11 report until just a few weeks ago.

If Obama has continued to push for Assad’s ouster, moreover, it has been mainly at Saudi behest since the Wahhabists who rule in Riyadh cannot countenance the idea of a Shi‘ite remaining in power in neighboring Syria. (President Bashar al-Assad is an Alawite, a Shi’ite-related sect.)

And if Obama has backed the Saudis in their brutal air war against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, it is for the same reason, i.e. because the Saudis can’t tolerate the idea of a Shi’ite government to their south as well.

Obama could tell them, politely but firmly, that naked religious bigotry has no place in modern politics. But that would mean deviating from his policy of abject servility. So the more obstreperous the Saudis grow, the more he tries to appease their every whim.

The same can be said for Israel or for Poland and the Balts, all of whom believe that a never-ending flow of U.S. military aid allows them to behave as provocatively as they wish. The more over-extended the U.S. empire grows, the less it is able to rein its client states in. It is not a recipe for a happy outcome.

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

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77 comments for “Obama’s Imperial Mideast Policy Unravels

  1. Chris Chuba
    August 29, 2016 at 10:29 am

    In short, our misplaced priority of going after the Russians is forcing us to choose Turkey over fighting ISIS. The Kurds are expendable.

    • J. D.
      August 29, 2016 at 11:38 am

      Obama is no victim here. He has shown over and over that his obsession with ousting the elected government of Syria, an anti-Russian geopolitical goal, is more dear to him than any principle, including any sense of human decency. His more recent open alliance with Al-Nusra, aka Al-Queda, represents a new low, and is an affront to civilization and especially to all those who have not forgotten the Saudi role in the atrocity of 9/11. His enabling of the ongoing Saudi genocide in Yemen make him no less a war criminal than they.

      • Chris Chuba
        August 29, 2016 at 12:04 pm

        I did not claim Obama to be a victim. At the end of the day, he certainly is the one who makes the choice.

        However, I do not believe that he is alone at having this misplaced priority. It is obvious that virtually the entire foreign policy establishment in the U.S. is so obsessed with Russia that they cannot focus on anything else once Russia is in the picture. I am not blaming Russia at all. Russia delayed their action as long as possible but once their first Jet took off we went into full schoolyard bully mode, ‘hey, this is OUR block’. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was like watching a nation of 4yr olds throw a tantrum. I couldn’t stand watching FOX.

        • J. D.
          August 29, 2016 at 12:50 pm

          It’s almost as difficult as reading the New York Times.

  2. August 29, 2016 at 10:39 am

    The Kurds have helped develop a modern theory of autonomous democracy. The US almost always opposes democracy so this was to be expected.

    Forked tongue is an old description of the US government. Is this a first step toward assisting a new and greater Ottoman empire?

    • Kiza
      August 30, 2016 at 9:37 am

      “But as a “democratic” empire, it relies on cajoling, bargaining, and other inducements to achieve “voluntary” consent.” I usually like what Daniel writes, but this is one of the most mindless statements I have read in years.

      Firstly, the so called US Empire is actually Israel’s global empire sold to the US domestics as a US Empire, where US is just the muscle of the empire and the brain is in Tel Aviv.

      Secondly, Turkey has been treated like this forever due to its strategic importance, aggressiveness and mightily military by all European powers before US even appeared as a civilised country. This is why US is assisting Turkey in re-establishing the Ottoman Emire, not because US is “democratic” or even an “empire”. Turkey can do no wrong.

      • William
        August 31, 2016 at 6:04 pm

        While Kiza is absolutely right, I would express things a bit differently. First, everyone knows that the U.S. congress is totally controlled by Israel, or rather, by extremely wealthy, devoted supporters of Israel. This is a fact that has been recognized for decades. Sen. William Fulbright was one of the first to declare congress, “Israeli occupied territory.” Second, the destruction of Iraq, Libya, Syria (on going), and Libya was planned by U.S. neo-cons (Israeli firsters) and carried out by U.S. flunkys, hacks, and traitors such as Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith, et. al. One can easily make the case that U.S. sovereignty has been co-opted by an enormously successful Fifth Column composed of fanatical supporters of Israel. This force consists largely of American Jews whose first concern is Israel, some fundamentalist Christians, and the bulk of the mainstream U.S. media, electronic, print, and entertainment. Although the conquest of the U.S. is not complete and the struggle goes on, watchers of the fight, both domestic and foreign, already see Israeli domination of U.S. Middle East policy. Though things may change, the U.S. is at this time a pawn of Israel, and our congress will gladly spend any amount of American taxpayer dollars and shed any amount of U.S. blood in the service of Israeli policy.

        • DanD
          August 31, 2016 at 11:23 pm

          There is a simple reason why America’s Federal Government is slavishly controlled by the minions of Zionland, and this is that — back from the early ’50s to the middle ’80s, 5th-column Zionists throughout American culture were dick-deep in diverting America’s weapon’s grade nuke material into establishing an American-hidden “Sampson” response, should WDC ever decide to throw their New York and Tel Aviv AshkeNAZIs under the nationally-incorporated, diplomatic bus. At least 20 cities in the United States would disappear underneath the mushroom plume of Zion, WDC being the most prominent.

          Nobody really knows just how close America is to a nuclear holocaust, and the Zionists really do have spies EVERYWHERE. What the Pope did to the Knights Templar will never happen to the Western oligarchs of Zion. They will take the whole world out if it cannot be their own. It’s in the Talmud.

          DanD

          • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
            September 4, 2016 at 4:13 pm

            The Bible is the only book which states that the world must be converted. And I don’t see why the Talmud would talk about destroying the world that the Jews LIVE ON. Are you completely stupid?! Which part of the Talmud is it? I notice you don’t give quotes. Stop with your hate speech, retard. And the same goes with William and Kiza, who’s a Trump supporter – even though Trump has a Jewish daughter and grandchildren, thus making her a hypocrite, which I find disgusting. I believe in honour.

        • Larry
          September 2, 2016 at 12:34 am

          @William … yours is the most accurate and succinct assessment of circumstances as they are, and have been here; as the State violently convulses in its final stages of empire.

          May God have mercy on us all !

  3. Bart in Virginia
    August 29, 2016 at 11:03 am

    “Naked religious bigotry” has been baked into the soil in those countries, which is why our attempts to spread democracy and peace there is wrongheaded. Any ME historian could have told Obama that, but he chooses to follow the agendas of his advisors.

    And can’t you just see the Turks rolling their eyes behind Biden’s back, he who has family interests over there.

    • J. D.
      August 29, 2016 at 1:27 pm

      It is not. Syria was by far the greatest model of religious tolerance and mutual respect in the region, perhaps surpassing even our own, before it was targeted for “regime change.” It is a fact that the Syrian government today provides shelter for Christians, Jews and Moslem minorities even though its army is predominantly Sunni. Rather,it is the wahabist movement, coming out of Saudi Arabia, promoted by the British as a counterweight against Arab nationalists, and since adopted by the United States, which is source of the fanatical hatred and barbarism we are witnessing and. of course, nearly all “Islamic terrorism At least as early as in the 1970’s with the Afghan mujahideen, created to foment jihadist holy war against what was then the Soviet Union,a the US has been playing “the Islamic Card,” against secular governments and Russia allies.. Pure evil. Of course once religious wars are begun, they tend quickly to get out of control, as the Saudis so informed us with their sponsorship of the mass murder of Americans on 9/11.

      • voxpax
        August 30, 2016 at 5:22 am

        the wahabist movement, coming out of Saudi Arabia, promoted by the British as a counterweight against Arab nationalists

        It would have been hard to find any arab nationalist in those days, the brits supported the wahabi saudis to push the ottoman/german alliance out of business…

    • Gregory Herr
      August 29, 2016 at 7:07 pm

      Attempts to spread democracy and peace? Seriously?

    • August 31, 2016 at 8:32 am

      Not true. The region had real rive peace, compared with Europe, for many centuries which is why Jew, Shia, Christians and many other sects lived often in the same neighborhoods of great cities in the region. This idea that the people are by nature contentious is absurd propaganda that makes it easier to see all of them the way Americans saw Native Americans. I know, in fact, a retired NSA officer who says they are all Savages. Pick up a few history books and learn.

  4. Joe Tedesky
    August 29, 2016 at 11:15 am

    Erdogan may be playing the U.S. like a fine tuned fiddle. After the Turkish coup, and with help from Russian intelligence, Erdogan discovered who his real friends are. Erdogan then decided to go along with his NATO friends one last time, for old times sake. This time Erdogan would get the U.S. to stand down while Erdogan chases the Kurds across the river, and beyond. What will be most interesting, is to see what Erdogan does once he puts the Kurds down. Will he stay allied to the U.S. and NATO? Would Erdogan then join hands with Syria and it’s coalition? We will need to tune into the ever on going Syrian adventure, that’s a given.

    Suggestion for Joe Biden, go help the DOD find the missing 6.5 trillion dollars! Geesh can’t get nothing done around this place without a whip. Darn celebrity politicians.

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 29, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      The Saker has a whole different take, that what I do, of what Erdogan is up to. The Saker is probably more right than I am. Read the link:

      http://thesaker.is/erdogan-calls-putin-as-russia-seethes-at-turkeys-syrian-incursion/

      • Kiza
        August 30, 2016 at 10:21 am

        Hello Joe, I agree 100% with two Saker’s friends. The Russians have been had in Syria by Erdogan. This is the first Putin’s small defeat that I am aware of. Erdogan came to Moscow and lied to Putin’s face. But I also agree with their view (and Cockburn’s) that Turkey may be making its border situation extremely risky. With penetration deep into Syria, Turkey is exposing itself to even more guerilla warfare by the lightly armed but nimble Syrian Kurds. In other words, this incursion will bite the Turkish behind badly eventually.

        I did write about two years ago when the US started training and arming YPG that this would come to no good. I wrote that US would use the Kurds nominally against ISIS but in reality against the Syrian Government. And once the job is done, the US would shaft the Kurds as so many times before (e.g. in Iraq by tricking them to rebel against Saddam and then leaving them to his revenge). This has happened totally: after so many Kurds have died fighting ISIS the US demands that they deliver the liberated territories to Turkey, which will turn them over to the Turkmen fighters against the Syrian Government.

        • Joe Tedesky
          August 30, 2016 at 10:51 am

          KIza, everything you said here is no doubt what is going on. I am coming to the opinion that since the Turkish coup, Erdogan is raging mad, he hates everyone at this moment, and he is going to do what ever it is he wants to do, and that’s that. The Syrian war has already been established as a war of varied agendas, but now Erdogan is trying to turn it into a free for all. The only nation who possibly could be okay with this is Netanyahu’s Israel. The Yinon plan is going to plan, and that is what America is there to do, implement the Yinon Plan.

          When it comes to the Russians, what many of us see as a fine job, the U.S. is sitting back and laughing at Putin. Why the laughter, because Putin’s army can’t be in all places at the same time. America wants to embarrass Putin by stretching his military confrontations to a point where Russia can’t do everything at once. Russia is not a global military, it is strictly defensive. This should be proof to everyone how Russia doesn’t have global empire ambitions, but the American press will never report that. Although, Putin always says how Russia just wants to be Russia, America just wants to rub it in. Childish!

          • Joe Tedesky
            August 30, 2016 at 10:17 pm

            There must be two Americas. See the link here to a Pravada report stating how Russia and the U.S. are going to fight the terrorist in Syria and Iraq jointly.

            http://www.pravdareport.com/news/hotspots/terror/30-08-2016/135468-russia_usa_aleppo-0/

            This joint American/Russian terrorist fight is suppose to happen in September. Also, over at the Washingtonblog there is a report of how Europe is on needles and pins, because they fear Russia will attack Ukraine sometime in September. Either these reports are off by a mile, or Russia is going to have a busy September.

        • Joe Tedesky
          August 30, 2016 at 6:52 pm

          I’m leaving below an article from the Syrian Perspective. You all might find this version an interesting one, and mid way into the article it talks a lot about Joe Biden & the Zionist (sounds like a rock band) Basically there is a massive game of musical chairs being played in Syria, but you already knew that. What is worthwhile, is by reading this link you are hearing it from a Syrian.

          http://syrianperspective.com/2016/08/american-war-crimes-and-the-kurdish-revolt-in-al-hasaka-joe-bidens-rojava-and-his-turkish-allies-canthama-reports-the-news-today-saudi-arabia-desperate-hires-isis-to-figh.html

    • Joe B
      August 29, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      That is the key question. If Turkey does not now oppose ISIS & AlQaeda, it will have stopped the advance of Russia using the Kurds to save the Syrian govt, a move they surely could not accept, and a dramatic escalation of NATO against Russia. If it opposes ISIS & AlQaeda in place of the Kurds as the advance force of Russia, it will be in strong opposition to the US & zionists.

      Unless Turkey withdraws, it must strongly ally against Russia or against the US zionists.

      Which raises the question why Turkey has not intervened to date, given its antipathy to Assad. It is the obvious ground force for the US right wing interventionists, who accused it of supporting ISIS & AlQaeda despite its giving the US the Incirlik base from which to attack them. So the US right wing must be delighted with the invasion, but wondering how far it will go, whether it will block Russia from supporting Assad, which the right wing must be pushing for.

      This could become the missing link between a long messy proxy war and direct confrontation of the US and Russia.

      • Joe Tedesky
        August 29, 2016 at 3:36 pm

        Joe B at this stage of the game, who knows what Erdogan is up to. My first thought was that Erdogan wants to push the Kurds back using U.S. fighter jets for support, and then once the Kurds are where Erdogan thinks they should be, then Erdogan would join forces with Syria and the Russian, Iranian coalition. There again, what do I know. The whole coalition America is siding with, whether it be NATO countries, or Gulf State nations, is a mix of interest who have varied agendas. This Syrian war thing is just to complicated to understand. I believe that the U.S. is spending around 11 billion dollars a day to fight this war. Add that to a over budgeted military spending program, that the U.S. already has going, plus the 6.5 trillion dollars that the DOD IG claims they can’t find, well is it any wonder why things are the way they are?

        read what Patrick Cockburn has to say about the Turkish invasion into Syria;

        http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/26/turkeys-foray-into-syria-a-gamble-in-a-very-dangerous-game/

      • Erik
        August 30, 2016 at 11:27 am

        There is a very interesting article on this today at CounterPunch at http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/30/turkey-breaks-out-in-jarablus-as-fear-and-loathing-grip-europe/. More or less a Turkish view, that the US has been punishing Turkey (by opposing/ignoring its SDC plan to find a negotiated coalition, and its negotiated Jarabulus/Manbij border safe zone) for not attacking ISIS because ISIS restrains the Kurds at Mosul, and that Turkey now intervenes because its military is purged of US/Gulenist influence. That Russia intervened for Iran due to lack of a NATO tripwire during this US punishment window. But that Turkey must play the middle between US and Russia due to ability to serve as an economic/resource crossover, that it will not abandon NATO or Russia or be granted EU membership. That it will pursue an indefinite transitional Assad govt to appease Iran/Russia, while appeasing the “Arab street” by denying that.

        But no conclusion on what it will do about ISIS or AlQaeda.

  5. August 29, 2016 at 11:22 am

    The Turkish Government’s problems with the Kurds are self-inflicted. Turkey should be supporting the Kurds in Syria who are fighting to bring an end to ISIS. Instead, it is continuing its long history of mistreating its own Kurds (thereby inspiring Kurdish retaliations) and only making matters even worse. In the meantime, Obama’s Ho-Chi Minh-like efforts to violently create a “regime change” in Syria are MORALLY DEPRAVED. So Obama is ALSO making matters even worse in the Middle East.

    • Erik
      August 30, 2016 at 7:17 am

      There is a remarkable lack of ability in the ME to recognize minority rights, and a corresponding tendency of minorities to dominate if they can or terrorize if they cannot. If the Kurds were better accommodated would the PKK have become terrorist? If Maliki & co in Iraq had accommodated the Sunnis, would there have been an ISIS? If the Jews had not stolen Palestine and denied the Palestinians equal rights, would there be any such problems?

      Of course the cultural factors and longstanding anger and ignorance made this a difficult land to cultivate. Democracy is a tree that requires the proper soil to flourish, and has not been offered to the ME with the intent of cultivation. Instead Democracy® has been fired from cannons into the desert, with the predictable result of clouds of burning splinters.

      Creating the favorable conditions for progress requires peace and modest prosperity, all of which required foreign nations to support education and foreign aid, and to motivate governments toward equitable treatment of all. Of course the US did exactly the opposite, with never a glance at the feasibility of achieving any goal for the US or the people there. It is not merely the stupidity of politicians, but their prostitution to the bully ideal of the oligarchy and military, the failure of morality and the ascendancy of the scheming bully in an unregulated economy. It works for the worthless scammers who rise to the top here. The US will take that path to the end, and stands utterly disgraced in the eyes of history.

      The Mideast has failed because the US is a failure.

  6. D5-5
    August 29, 2016 at 11:57 am

    From last Friday:

    “Some Western media reports are playing up Turkish government descriptions that its intervention into Syria constitutes a major assault against ISIS. But ANF News, citing local residents, said there was little fighting. Instead, ISIS fighters turned the city [Manbij] over to the Turkish irregulars and calmly withdrew, many traveling into Turkey. Several reports said that in crossing into Turkey, ISIS cadre donned the uniform of the Free Syrian Army.”

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/26/in-northern-syria-turkey-opens-new-front-in-its-war-against-the-kurds/

  7. Annie
    August 29, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    “The 2003 invasion of Iraq was not only an attempt to get rid of a long-term U.S. enemy but, at bottom, an effort to divert attention from the Saudi role in the attack on the World Trade Center. Obama continued the cover-up by keeping under wraps the famous “28 pages” – actually a 29-page chapter – on Saudi complicity, described in the congressional 9/11 report until just a few weeks ago.” In this rather confusing article, and I haven’t found an article on what is going on in Syria that is not confusing, I would like to address a statement that Mr. Lazare makes which is quoted above. I have never heard anyone suggest that one of the reasons we blew the hell out of Iraq was to divert public awareness away from the Saudi role in the attack on the World Trade Center. Anyone who has any awareness of what has been going on in the Middle East would never make such an assertion.

    P. S. I have never seen what is going on in Syria as a civil war, but a premeditated war on Syria perpetrated by the West, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other gulf states that are supporting terrorists to overthrow the Assad regime.The Kurds are using the chaos to try to establish a state for themselves.

    • Gregory Herr
      August 29, 2016 at 7:23 pm

      I was also struck by the suggestion that “at bottom” the Iraq invasion was diversionary. At the time, there was very little serious attention towards the Saudi complicity in the crimes of 9/11. With the (still-redacted) release of the 29 pages, now there is some. The New Pearl Harbor was about facilitating the Afghanistan & Iraq invasions, and the ensuing steps in Libya, Syria…

      http://whowhatwhy.org/2016/08/14/russ-baker-saudi-911-coverup/

      • Annie
        August 29, 2016 at 11:17 pm

        Thanks for the link. I’m familiar with the fact that certain elements in Saudi Arabia supported the hijackers, but I didn’t know that Bandar Bush was also involved, or suspected of being involved. I grabbed this quote from the Project for the New American Century,
        “The PNAC program, in a nutshell: America’s military must rule out even the possibility of a serious global or regional challenger anywhere in the world. The regime of Saddam Hussein must be toppled immediately, by U.S. force if necessary. And the entire Middle East must be reordered according to an American plan. PNAC’s most important study notes that selling this plan to the American people will likely take a long time, “absent some catastrophic catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.” (PNAC, Rebuilding America’s Defenses (1997), p.51)”

        I believe we suspected it would happen and we let down our guard so it could. Lazare’s comment that the attack on Iraq was a diversionary tactic because they were involved in 9/11 is ludicrous. I went to a lecture at Hofstra where Phyllis Bennett was giving a lecture on Syria and ISIS. She claimed the US had never had intentions of toppling the Assad regime. When it came to the Q&A I asked about the seven countries which included Syria that were to be taken out according to Wesley Clarke, as well as PNAC’s agenda of regime change in the Middle East. She actually told her audience of mostly Hofstra students if they were to google PNAC they wouldn’t get a hit and the neocons, which I brought up, were old hat and no longer played a role in American politics. I guess everyone has an agenda.

        • Gregory Herr
          August 30, 2016 at 8:47 pm

          Apparently some agendas are of the facts-don’t-matter variety. I suppose Phyllis Bennett might quibble over the definition of neocon and who belongs in that club, but the foreign policy direction set forth by the Bush administration is advancing still, quite the opposite of not “playing a role”. Let’s see if Wolfowitz and Nuland are on board when Hilligula time rolls around.

          As to Bandar Bush, I have a hard time believing there was anything related to Saudi inteligence operations in the U.S. that he didn’t have a handle on.

        • Gregory Herr
          August 31, 2016 at 7:01 pm

          I’m late with this Annie, but I hope you catch it. This article is right in line with what you refer to:

          http://dissidentvoice.org/2016/08/the-neocon-in-the-oval-office/

    • Kiza
      August 30, 2016 at 10:31 am

      I fully agree Annie and I call the war on Syria the COST WAR: it is an attack by the Coalition of the Sponsors of Terrorism, Israel, US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar. It has already COST many hundreds of thousands of lives and millions exiled to Europe. And it could COST the nuclear war and the end of humanity. All for territorial ambitions of a few scumbag countries.

    • August 31, 2016 at 8:44 am

      I don’t think so. the Iraq invasion was in the works before 9/11. Them overall neocon strategy was to create utter chaos in the region by not only overthrowing governments but destroying civil society. It is and was from the beginning a form of cultural genocide particularly if you look at US policy inIraq immediately following the invasion. As for the Saudi involvement in 9/11, it was just one of the actors in the events on that date. It will be interesting to see if the left can actually face the evidence surrounding the attacks but I doubt it. The left is ineffective because it continues to ignore Deep Politics.

      • Gregory Herr
        August 31, 2016 at 5:10 pm

        You are right that the Iraq invasion was in the works prior to 9/11. But 9/11 was also figured as a catalyst for the invasions…besides motivations that were intrinsic to the events of the day itself (see “Black 9/11:Money, Motive, and Technology”). And yes, I also agree that the Saudis were just part of the action, and probably not even a fully knowledgeable “partner” at that. Elements of the C.I.A. were certainly involved, as well as others. The White House was blatantly obvious in coverup.
        Great point about the so-called Left and the willful blind eye towards Deep Politics. But willful ignorance cuts a wide swath.

  8. Geoffrey de Galles
    August 29, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    The fact that Hill & Billary Clinton & their Foundation have by now, thanks to the intermediation of Huma Abedin, long been beneficiaries of more than generous speaking fees and political donations from the multitude of US followers of the Turkish Hoja Fethullah Gulen’s Hizmet cult (cf. Wikileaks docs & Clinton + Turkish Cultural Center @ YouTube) means that, for better or worse, the US + NATO’s relations with Turkey’s Erdogan government would, in the wake of the recent abortive coup, be a priori doomed in the event that HRC were to become POTUS. And this would mean that, for better or worse, pretty much inexorably & inevitably,Turkey would realign and affiliate itself (geopolitically, militarily, & economically) with Russia — as, on the domino principle, would Greece and the Balkans too if the EU were shortly to collapse, as sure as hell it will do. Where that would leave the poor Kurds is anyone’s guess right now.

  9. Bob In Portland
    August 29, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    The money quote is from Kissinger, who was on duty when the US sold out the Kurds many, many years ago. “Covert action should not be confused with missionary work.”

  10. Wobblie
    August 29, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    It is amazing that so many people consider Obama a Liberal “thwarted” by right winger.

    Ignorance of the average individual is truly the 8th Wonder of the World.

    https://therulingclassobserver.com/2016/08/19/the-individual-among-us-part-ii/

  11. John
    August 29, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Just another chapter in the plan of “chaotic”.

    Hegelian Dialectics for Dummies

    The method used by the elite to bring about a new world order. To bring about their pre-determined outcome. We are all participants and don’t even know it…….

  12. delia ruhe
    August 29, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    Why spoil an American military tradition that’s been going on since the Korean war? Besides, when did America ever choose democracy where there was a handy dictator to back? The US merely preaches democracy, not practice it.

  13. August 29, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    This article is well intended, but it includes several erroneous assumptions and crucial omissions, thereby presenting an incomplete and misleading picture of the situation.

    First, for the weapons industry (the MIC) Obama’s Middle East policy is a rousing success. In 2014 more than half of all global weapons deals benefitted US companies, and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency estimates, that arms sales facilitated by the Pentagon were 46 billion US$ in 2015 and are on track to surpass 40 billion US$ in 2016. Saudi Arabia is the best customer, buying Raython BGM-71 TOWs for the radical Islamists in Syria and CBU-105 cluster bombs from Textron Defense Systems for the air war against Yemen.

    Yes, the Middle East is in flames, Syria is nearly destroyed, Libya is a failed state, Iraq fights an endless war against Islamic State (Ramadi, Fallujah, Mosul coming). But the shareholders of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, and similar companies will remember Obama fondly, hoping that HRC can live up to the hype and raise profits further by starting new wars and increasing worldwide chaos.

    Israel will also be quite satisfied, even if Netanyahu purportedly is being at odds with Obama, because Syria, its biggest challenger and a steadfast supporter of the Palestinian cause, is out of the way, and most of the jihadists in the region are busy now in Syria and never ever even think about attacking Israel.

    That Turkey uses allies of al-Qaeda for the invasion into Syria is for sure not a point of contention, the USA does that all the time. Hardcore Islamists are simply the most effective fighters, pushing against enemy lines without fear of injury or death, propelled by religious fervor and unwavering hate against apostates and everyone else who doesn’t share their narrow ideology.

    That this inevitably means the extinction of Christians in the Middle East is an unfortunate but unavoidable side effect which simply has to be ignored and covered with a blanket of silence. (Watch the Jund al Aqsa offensive against Mhardeh, one of Syria’s remaining Christian strongholds.)

    Hardcore Islamists are an extremely efficient tool to create chaos and bring down undesirable governments. Charlie Wilson knew that, laying the groundwork for the Taliban and the destruction of Afghanistan. The Dulles brothers knew that when they approved Saudi Arabia’s funding of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood against Nasser.

    Support of radical Islamists was the policy of every administration since WW II, Obama simply continued the tradition.
    In addition to this particular aspect, the Syrian war has now become a once in a lifetime chance to bleed Russia, which becomes increasingly entangled into the quagmire despite Putin’s cautious approach.

    It is still not clear, how much the USA was involved in the creation and the ascent of IS, but Turkey undoubtedly has been deeply involved. Jarabulus was vacated by IS (Islamic State) in the weeks before the invasion and the rebel militias coming from Turkey just walked in without a fight. Three rebel fighters reportedly died but that could have been an accident if it is true at all. The Turkish army fired some shells into Syria to make it look more realistic. It was also reported that IS had placed IEDs and booby traps but no proof, no pictures and videos have been shown.

    This looks like a prearranged affair and one has to suspect that Erdogan’s romance with IS is not over yet. The rebel militias in Jarabulus are savage jihadists just like IS or Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (Jabhat al-Nusra). Involved groups are: Sham Legion, Sultan Murad Brigade, Hamza Brigade, Nour al-Din al-Zenki (the child beheaders), Levant Front, Mountain Hawks Brigade, Ahrar al-Sham. All these groups are allied with Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and fight side by side in the epic battle in southwest Aleppo, which probably will decide the outcome of this war.

    Turkish officials state, that Jarabulus is only the first step and the invasion force will move southwest to capture Manbij and then al-Bab. This makes clear that the main objective of the operation is not to prevent the Kurds to link the Afrin and Kobane cantons, but to secure the main supply corridor of Saudi/US supported Islamists straight down from Azaz to Aleppo city. The present supply route via Idlib is cumbersome because the Turkish-Syrian border in Idlib is mountainous terrain — small and bad roads and then long routes all the way through Idlib past SAA held territory into Aleppo province. More details at mato48.com.

    To sum it up, the article implies that US politicians normally act in good faith to further peace, stability, and the well being of humankind in general, and that the disastrous results of Obama’s foreign policy were unforeseen and unintended.

    I don’t buy that!

    • D5-5
      August 29, 2016 at 3:18 pm

      I did not see the article implying “US politicians normally act in good faith to further peace, stability, and the well-being of humankind in general” but that they normally act in terms of spin, duplicity, expedience, and now this, now that. Obeisance to Erdogan over the Kurds in this situation, with the easily shown hypocrisy of US tolerance for ISIS and its ilk, is clear in this piece, isn’t it? Sorry I don’t quite see your point.

    • Kiza
      August 30, 2016 at 10:47 am

      Excellent comment. It is the Petreus’ payments of money to Sunnis in Iraq not to fight his troops which served as a seed capital for establishing ISIS. Since Petreus was an Israeli drone, we can only conclude that ISIS creation was helped along by Israel using US funds with a clear plan to create chaos in Iraq and Syria, via the second application of the Charlie Willson’s technique. I even speculated that Guantanamo is a re-education camp to turn extremists into tools, and it was published in Intercept just recently that the ISIS leader Al Baghdadi was in Guantanamo. Voilà!

      • Rob Roy
        August 30, 2016 at 6:38 pm

        No, he was in Abu Ghraib where he was radicalized.

        • Kiza
          August 30, 2016 at 8:49 pm

          You are correct, Al Baghdadi was held at Abu Ghraib not Guantanamo, my apology: https://theintercept.com/2016/08/25/u-s-military-now-says-isis-leader-was-held-in-notorious-abu-ghraib-prison/

          Nevertheless, I still believe that Guantanamo is a re-education camp. Those who do not get successfully re-educated, get droned out soon after release. The point is that channeling extremists in the desired direction is the best way to win wars covertly. It costs several tens of thousands of dollars to drone somebody out whilst it costs apparently around 1/2 million dollars to keep someone in Guantanamo.

  14. Joey
    August 29, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    A friend of mine once brought a dog along for a visit. Our pet rabbit hopping freely in the yard. The dog just did peaceful dog things. Mostly resting peacefully in the sunshine. So, observing, in for coffee, leaving the rabbit hopping and the dog pretending. When we emerged from our coffee time, do I need to tell you what we discovered????

    Well, the dog foreign policy of the USA govt has lately been the same policy to that of Syria’s next door neighbours, which happens to be the destruction of a sovereign Syria, along with the resulting chaos, and the probable murder of Syria’s leadership, and the following blood chaos.. Unchanging foreign policy. No matter how, what, why, where, when.

    While we are sipping coffee, the dog’s do what dog’s really are programmed to do. Dog’s will usually be dogs, however arranged.
    But, real dog’s still usually display more real dog dignity, than do copycat dog humans display human dignity.
    Syria is to be destroyed. By two of its next door and by proxy other worldly neighbours .
    That is the unending plan of human canines. This is 2016.

  15. F. G. Sanford
    August 29, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    My guess would be that the Turkish coup attempt WAS a U.S. operation. It was perhaps a ‘freelance’ job pulled off by some of the ‘old boys’, or an outright op in which The President was deliberately kept out of the loop. Why else would rumors have surfaced placing Graham Fuller in a resort hotel on Princes Island in the Sea of Marmara, along with twenty or so other clandestine figures? After all, the aircraft involved took off from Incirlik. Gulen may or may not be too senile to cook up such a scheme, but he would no doubt have played the role of the preferred ‘puppet’ had the coup succeeded. But Erdogan was apparently tipped off – some claim by the Russians. My guess would be by the Israelis, but Erdogan’s little visit to Moscow clouds the issue. The kurds have an agenda, but without alliances, they have no hope of ever achieving it. The Saudis and their GCC lackeys could play havoc with the deteriorating solvency of the Federal Reserve System, so regardless of their involvement, they will never be blamed for anything. Israel, meanwhile, has a vested interest in keeping the entire region in turmoil, which effectively minimizes scrutiny of their periodic genocidal incursions into Gaza. As long as there are “terrorists” lurking, Israel can maintain the “self defense” charade. The antiterrorism operation currently conducted by U.S. forces is being justified under the same AUMF used to go after Al Qaida, but now it’s being used to justify supporting Al Qaida with the goal of “regime change” in Syria. The media continues to refer to this as a “civil war”, when in fact none of the hostile forces are native Syrians. There was also never a “peaceful uprising” against which Assad “brutally bombed his own people”. That was a Negroponte/Ford/Roebuck style NGO sponsored destabilization operation. President Obama probably has little or no idea what is actually going on, but he’s no doubt hoping like hell Hillary gets elected. If there were ever another Nuremberg trial…well, that’s wishful thinking. The bottom line is, once the “war crime” line has been crossed, there is absolutely no incentive to give up. Victory is the only defense. This saga has a long, long way to go.

    • Bob Van Noy
      August 29, 2016 at 6:11 pm

      Thank you F.G. Sanford for your response, it seems the most plausible to me. I’m personally perplexed by the totality that is Syria today, but I agree with your statement on the Saudis and the Fed., and the unfortunate Kurds. I especially like that you connect Negroponte/Ford/Roebuck because l think that post Nixon caldron is responsible for most of our foreign policy failure. As for President Obama, l think you’re totally correct about his cluelessness. He be happy to retire.
      Hillary will protect him and all before him; that’s the deal

    • August 31, 2016 at 8:50 am

      Excellent comment! I think you perceive it much the way I do. I will just add that the phony GWOT provided a green light for every pirate venture in Washington. Washington’s policy appears chaotic because it is.

  16. Pablo Diablo
    August 29, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    A massive military buildup = an empire in decline.
    Gotta keep the WAR MACHINE well fed.

  17. Lux
    August 29, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    “Thus, the U.S. may have realized a short-term gain in its rapprochement with Turkey but at a long-term cost. It has jettisoned the one effective anti-ISIS force in its arsenal, it has all but destroyed its credibility, and it is undoubtedly prolonging the bloodshed in Syria as well. The entire maneuver is an expression of U.S. weakness rather than strength.”

    Mr. Obama (and the rest of this foreign policy abomination in the current administration): No longer will anyone in the world consider you or your ilk to be champions of democracy or wise. You have shown everyone that you are a liars of the highest magnitude and that you are not on the side of the God of good in this universe that requires the equality and dignity of all people.

    You and your ilk are responsible for the death of millions in Syria, Libya, and elsewhere; and the sex slavery, child rape, and other abominations that are the result of your actions in foreign policy to appease despots (like this Turkish nut job Ergodan and the Saudi un-royals) for money and power – over what is right – the freedom of people from evil.

    I certainly hope what you received in this plane of existence by selling your soul to appease evil was worth it – because in your next plane of existence you will begin as a pile of maggots and you will end as bunch of dead flies.

    You – Obama – will be LORD OF nothing – except THE FLIES. Choosing evil is easy. Choosing good requires sacrifices.

    If you wish elevate yourself in the next plane you must change course now – time is short – you are running out of time. Your fate is all but sealed. If you and your ilk are wise you would heed my words and you would learn to read the signs – they are getting closer together now – for good reason.

  18. JCDavis
    August 29, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Of course Obama abandoned the Kurds. That is a long standing American tradition. They are like an ever forgiving dog and we are the dog’s sadistic owner. The goal here is to counter Russia’s efforts and prevent Assad from regaining control of the country. And what better way than to have everyone fighting everyone, thus creating a mess that will never be straightened out. As a bonus, more refugees (and terrorists) will stream north, thus making our (phony) war against terrorism seem absolutely vital.

  19. Zachary Smith
    August 29, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    Interesting essay and equally interesting comments. Personally, I’m still quite puzzled about the motives of all concerned. It’s becoming pretty obvious the Kurds are going to be sacrificed, but I’m not sure if the Syrian branch hasn’t been asking for it.

  20. August 30, 2016 at 1:35 am

    The erratic progression of recent events in Turkey lead my instincts to suspect the U.S. does not have one foreign policy but two, and maybe even three. Erdogan may have got it wrong in thinking Obama was behind the unsuccessful coup mounted to depose him, but he would be quite entitled to suspect the C.I.A. and the Kagan clique might have had a hand in it. There are just too many convenient links between prominent neocons and the Fethullah Gulen network to be explored for the idea dismissed out of hand.

  21. August 30, 2016 at 3:38 am

    I pretty much agree except for the part of Obama not wanting turmoil in the middle east or anywhere else for that matter. Obama thrives on turmoil and chaos, just as his predecessors did. Maybe we should stay out of other peoples business, after all, who made the United States the policemen of the world? It’s not in the US Constitution. https://waitforthedownfall.wordpress.com/get-bashar-al-assad/

  22. AWONC
    August 30, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    America has no friends only interests and will eventually stab everyone in the back (the exception being Israel which ironically will be the one doing the backstabbing).

  23. Rubicon
    August 30, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    For those who have read accurate and detailed stories of “appeasement” by Neville Chamberlain, we know there were many complicated, behind-the-scenes reasons for NC’s “appeasement.” Americans are most subject to synthisizing complicated history into brief, little sound bites.

    I’m no fan of Obama, but when history records his handling of Middle Eastern affairs, you may discover that Obama has had to contend with many powerful entities within/outside of Washington, D.C. Consider the very powerful neo-con foreign policy and military people who behave like crazed fascists. Not to mention the oil/extractive corporations out for profit.

    Although a very weak-kneed individual, he may turn out to have conducted himself as best he could.

  24. John
    August 30, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    People….. Stop thinking short term….Instead look for the savior on the horizon…..The savior is also your future master……It will be a “new governing paradigm” but it’s really the old updated Marxism…maybe that’s what you want ?…… Free hotdogs for everyone……

  25. August 30, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    Pax-americana and the Khazarian mobsters at their best. Their Ponzi scheme is dying, their Nixon/Kissinger Petro-dollar dying. Their Imperial rule is dying. They don’t have clue. Or maybe they, do as Pepe Escobar likes to call them THE EMPIRE OF CHAOS, is waining and they don’t like it. It will be interesting when the next financial crisis hits with the bond market and stock markets being leveraged at 500 percent this massive 500 trillion dollar ponzi scheme/sham is going to hit hard and fast. Will they just keep printing money and water down the cordial? What will the EMPIRE OF CHAOS/ WASHINGTON CONSENSUS INVENT AND CREATE THIS TIME I suspect another pearl harbour just around the corner.
    History repeats itself and we just r so ignorant to fall for the same HASBRA.
    Hitler in drag ready to take the throne and more chaos.

    • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
      September 4, 2016 at 4:25 pm

      Do I have to put up with your race-baiting again?

  26. Andrew Lenaghan
    August 31, 2016 at 12:38 am

    chaos is right. the goal is chaos. war. munition sales. mercenary employment. building contracts. oil contracts.the military industrial complex needs a buyer.without war, there are no buyers. obama has done a great job expanding and employing executive power towards creating this chaos.

    i guess it is better to be in the country doing the bombing than the country that is getting bombed.

    • August 31, 2016 at 8:57 am

      Yes, so you must understand Washington a city I know too well. To be crude, it has been taken over by criminal gangs, factions, conspiracies, and so on in a kind of Star Wars cafe scenario or something out of a punk sci-fi novel–ok, I’m exaggerating for effect because there is an overall goal of destroying rule of law and democracy so that war lords, bandits and, above all the great feudal,empires of the corporat world can thrive.

      • F. G. Sanford
        August 31, 2016 at 2:09 pm

        In previous comments, I’ve referred to it as, “The Dada Cafe”…more or less the same idea.

  27. Realist
    August 31, 2016 at 3:18 am

    The Moron-in-Chief has mucked this all up by merely getting into it. There is no effective way to micromanage events to please over half a dozen different factions each with their own agenda. And, the thing is, there is no reason why we even have to try. Syria, indeed this whole swath of the planet, would impinge only marginally on the fate of the United States if we only left it to its own devices. The locals would continue, as they have since time immemorial, to joust with one another for power, influence and treasure. Some would win and some would lose. But so effing what? We can simply deal with the winners. We don’t have to pick them in every stinking little corner of the world. Our “reward,” when it comes, will again best be described as “blowback.” Get a brain, Obomber. That’s why you were hired to replace Dubya, whom you have done an absolutely capital job of emulating to a tee.

  28. August 31, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Washington is deeply divided because the Deep State is in disarray and seems to have broken into factions due to their great success in achieving political power. What I’m waiting for is for journalists to risk their careers in beginning to write and talk about the Deep State and its history without which events since 1963 make little sense. As for the Syria situation you see Obama and his ilk have never been managing this. FIgures like Erdogan and Putin can act freely because they have power centered in their person more than Obama has because he is dependent on others for power. He cannot make a single decision on his own nor can any President at this point.

  29. bozhidar balkas
    August 31, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Winning back turkey costs Nato lands. Nato cannot swallow sultan getting along with putin; who, [if you believe hillary/et al] along with Trump split america in two for the first time ever on foreign and on some issues, also the home policy.

  30. andrew lenaghan
    August 31, 2016 at 10:08 am

    the goal is chaos.

    divide and conquer.

    profit.

  31. Jamie
    August 31, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    “If Obama has continued to push for Assad’s ouster, moreover, it has been mainly at Saudi behest.”

    What apologetics! Obama wanted to bomb Syria. He was only stopped by the British refusal to assist, the congressional refusal to assist, and even his own pentagon which warned him about what is happening now. He is not obsessed with destroying Syria because of the Saudis; he is invading for the imperialist west – so they can keep control of their colonial empire, pipelines, and deprive the Russians of their Syrian bases. Obama has cynically used Wahhabists in other wars, such as the destruction of Libya. Please don’t pretend he just sits around wanting peace, yet starts wars so the Saudis will like him.

    Aside from ignoring hundreds of years of western imperialism in the middle-east, this analysis almost sounds like the far right description of Obama as an Islamic puppet.

    • Realist
      August 31, 2016 at 3:56 pm

      Good point.

  32. NBrady
    August 31, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    Syria is an internationally recognized sovereign nation with Assad as its legal head of state. Any attack or incursion against its internationally recognized borders by Turkey, US, NATO or other is a war crime. Russia responded to a Syrian request for assistance and is not in violation of international law.

  33. Dieter Heymann
    August 31, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    “British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain appeased his enemy”. Why is it necessary to correct this nonsense over and over again? For openers Hitler Germany was not considered an enemy by the overwhelming majority of British politicians. The real enemies at the time of Munich were the Soviet Union, communism, and Stalin. Hitler was a known enemy of all three hence a potential ally for the “cordon sanitaire” against the Soviet Union. Chamberlain erred in that Hitler did not want to be an ally. He wanted to be the sole savior of the”Abendland” without the help of France and/or Britain.
    Chamberlain was not an “appeaser”. He was the leader of a nation which was militarily and emotionally completely unprepared to go to war at the time of Munich. Even Churchill would have been forced to negotiate for time to prepare Britain for the eventuality of a future war.
    Most experts have concluded that France and Britain together were fairly well prepared to stop the German onslaught in 1940 if they had not developed a dumb strategy. They lost because of the disastrous “Breda Strategy” which assumed a repeat of “Von Schlieffen”. They lost because they did not believe that tank armies could move through the Ardennes. Churchill never warned that the Breda Strategy (eventually changed to the Dyle Strategy) might become a disaster. It did.
    Third or fourth rate analysts always resort to “Chamberlain” to cover their ignorance.

  34. Zachary Smith
    August 31, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    There is a new post up at the Moon of Alabama site which makes some sense out of the recent events in northern Syria. It may or may not be correct, but the author ties the pieces together in a nice way.

    Essentially, Syria, Turkey, and Russia cooked up a scheme to curb the ambitions of the Kurds. The tipping point for the Russians was when the Kurds attacked a Syrian army garrison. Turkey wipes out what it sees as a major threat to the Homeland, Syria avoids the looming prospect of the US chopping it up, and Russia thwarts both the US and Israel in their project to destroy Syria as a functional nation. So the Kurds aren’t the only losers here.

    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/08/a-deal-over-syria-that-left-the-us-out.html

  35. Who Cares
    September 2, 2016 at 5:08 am

    As people already mentioned one of the reason Chamberlain ‘appeased’ Hitler was that Nazi Germany was considered an ally against communism. Something like given Sudetenland to him wasn’t the first time they bolstered Nazi Germany. There are more examples of giving back areas, telling Nazi Germany it was OK to ignore the restrictions imposed on it with the Versailles treaty or even rewriting the treaty.

    Then there was the effective propaganda about the strength of the Werhmacht. Chamberlain and Daladier didn’t think they could win if it came to war. So they bought time to build up the French & British armies and air forces. Which still proved useless were it not for a combination of unconventional use (for that era) of the RAF and Hitler going ballistic about Churchill ordering a revenge bombing on Berlin because the Nazis accidentally bombed London resulting in the redirection of the Luftwaffe from defeating the RAF (estimated time at that point 6 weeks) to leveling London.

  36. Brad Benson
    September 2, 2016 at 10:54 am

    In an age in which US WAR CRIMES are everyday news, thank goodness the Empire has guys like Daniel Lazare to talk about these crimes as if they are nothing; criticize Obama for not being efficient enough in his pursuit of these criminal goals, whatever they are; falsely promulgate the lie that the US is fighting ISIS, when it is there for regime change and nothing more; pretend like the US didn’t have advance notice that there would be a coup in Turkey in which Erdogan was supposed to be killed in Marmaris; and act as if he believes that Obama has any kind of grasp of the situation.

    Obama has been asleep at the wheel and has regularly been blindsided by the thugs in his administration, such as when Victoria Nuland pulled off the coup d’état in Kiev. He surrounded himself, from the beginning, with a group of WAR CRIMINALS and TORTURERS. In the end, these same thugs will blame Obama for their failures and it will be correct, since he often preferred to be a mushroom. This is not a matter of plausible deniability. The guy is incompetent and they walked all over him.

    For that matter, for once, it might be possible that Obama may have had advance notice that Erdogan was about to be killed and hence, studiously avoided all contact with him at the recent NATO Leaders Summit. In fact, Obama went out of his way to snub the guy at the state dinner and you can’t find any images from that summit of the two together.

    Finally, the official story of 9/11 is a lie and Mr. Lazare, if he had any common sense, would recognize that two planes cannot knock down three skyscrapers into their own footprints, while turning two of those buildings into dust, without the use of thermite and nano-thermite. Neither the Saudi Secret Service or our own American Secret Squirrels have the knowledge or the capability to pull something like that off. However, as Mr. Lazare should know, there is one secret service that has the skill, the connections and the moxie to pull it off. He should give that some thought. Qui bono?

    This article seems to be intended to misdirect.

    • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
      September 4, 2016 at 4:51 pm

      Can’t you go on RationalWiki? You lost all credibility when you revealed yourself to be a 9/11 truther. And I hope you didn’t accuse Israel of being involved in the attacks, due to the obvious anti-Semitic undertones. 9/11 conspiracy theories consist of points refuted a thousand times.

  37. Candace
    September 2, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Rather than trying to achieve voluntary consent, I think our weakness that we advertise and is being taken advantage of by allies etc is dark money in elections and that we elect politicians dedicated to destroying our government and whatever the president does. No need for weapons, America will make it easy for you to take us out.

    I don’t know what a democratic empire is but it is probably supposed to be business friendly.
    I think the Obama administrations strategy for the Middle East is to take the Made in America label off of the many regime changes we have in place because he probably believes it will save American lives.
    Owning regime change is also bad publicity and these new regimes will never be legit if we go Republican and stick a US flag in the sand.

    Personally, I think our regime changed countries will become Saudi Arabian territory, justified as reliable security with allies in charge and that scenario will influence all parties involved to turn on each other. Seems like it. Just a hunch though.

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