You Can’t Make Sound Policy by Disregarding Reality—Flynt Leverett on the Syria Conflict

The U.S. posture toward the conflict in Syria exemplifies some of the worst aspects of America’s Middle East policy.  In recent years, the limits on America’s ability to shape important outcomes in the region unilaterally have been dramatically underscored by strategically failed military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.  Just this year, President Obama’s largely self-inflicted debacle over his publicly declared intention to attack Syria after chemical weapons were used there on August 21 made it abundantly clear that the United States can no longer credibly threaten the effective use of military force in the Middle East.  Nevertheless, American foreign policy elites persist in thinking that it is up to them to dictate Syria’s future—and with it the future of the Middle East.

This outlook is epitomized by Obama’s August 2011 declaration that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “must go”—even though the Obama administration’s preferred strategy of working with the Syrian “opposition” to effect Assad’s departure was, from the outset, doomed to fail, as we have predicted for more than two and a half years.  While intended primarily to undermine Iran’s regional position, it has done nothing of the sort.  All that this strategy has accomplished or can accomplish is to prolong bloodshed in Syria and to bolster the strength of al-Qa’ida-like jihadi elements across the Middle East.  Moreover, by staking out a maximalist demand for Assad’s removal, Obama fundamentally undercut the prospects for seriously pursuing a negotiated settlement in Syria.  Even by recent American standards, this sets a new standard for destructively dysfunctional policymaking toward the Middle East.

Of course, neoconservatives and liberal imperialist champions of the “responsibility to protect” continue to advocate more direct forms of U.S. intervention in the conflict—notwithstanding the utter illegality of such a course absent UN Security Council authorization and the utterly lousy track record of such interventions (see the references to the Afghan, Iraqi, and Libyan interventions above—all three of which were strongly championed by liberal imperialists as well as by neoconservatives).  But perennially mistaken advocates of ever more American intervention in the Middle East keep running into the same problem that Obama, in his own hapless way, has encountered:  you can’t make sound and effective policy by disregarding on-the-ground reality.

In a recent interview with Syria Chronicle, see here, Flynt sought to describe some relevant aspects of on-the-ground reality in Syria.  (Syria Chronicle is a relatively new online site run by students at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.)  We append the interview below.

The Syrian Conflict:  No End in Sight?  An Interview with

Prof. Flynt Leverett of Penn State

The historical perspective:  I would think about it not in terms so much of specific historical events that got us here but of some very important, historically grounded dynamics in Syria.  Two strike me as really important to understanding how this conflict is shaped.  The first is that, while Syria is obviously a society with multiple divisions along ethnic and sectarian lines, the really fundamental divide in Syrian politics, since the country became independent, is between those constituencies that think their interests are best served by living in an at least, nominally secular state, and those that aspire to live in some version of a Sunni Islamist state.

If you look at who is on which side of this divide, the constituencies that want to live in a secular state are obviously non-Sunni Muslims—most importantly the Alawis—and other religious minorities, especially Christians.  You also have those Sunnis who don’t want to live in an Islamist order.  These constituencies provided the social base for the government of Hafez al-Assad, and they provide as well the social base for his son, Bashar al-Assad.  If you look at the demographics, these constituencies have amounted to at least a narrow majority of Syrian society for decades.

On the other side of this divide, you have basically Sunni Arab constituencies. Sunni Arabs make up about two-thirds of the population, but if you break out those Sunni constituencies that want to live in some version of an Islamic state, you are talking about a very significant minority in Syrian society.  This group constituted the social base for the Muslim Brotherhood’s insurgency against Hafez al-Assad in the 1970s and early 1980s, and is an important part of the social base for the opposition to Bashar al-Assad since early 2011.

The second historically conditioned dynamic important for understanding the current conflict is what I call the imperative of foreign policy independence.  If you look at the way Syria was born as an independent state in the late 1940s, what became Syria is not the territory Syrians thought they were historically entitled to have.  The historically conditioned notion of Syria is Bilad al-Sham, which covers what we now call Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan.  In the wake of World War I, that area was broken up by the League of Nations into the British and French mandates.  Turkey took a little piece of it, but most of it was divided by the League of Nations and distributed to the French and British mandates.  The French then divided the Syrian mandate into Syria and Lebanon.  So, at the time of independence in 1949, most politically engaged Syrians felt that Western powers had territorially truncated Syria.

The Assad government—whether under Hafez or under Bashar—has not been out to restore Bilad al-Sham, but an important part of how the Assad government legitimates itself has been by espousing and at least appearing to practice foreign policy independence.  This was very important to Hafez al-Assad’s ability to consolidate power in the 1970s and 1980s and hold onto it through the 1990s, and it has been important for his son, Bashar, as well.

And, if you put those two dynamics together, it helps to explain why Bashar al-Assad is still in power more than two-and-a-half years into the current conflict.

How it compares to other conflicts:  In Syria, it’s not really a Sunni-Shite divide; it’s more a divide between those who want to live in a nominally secular state and those who want to live in a Sunni Islamist state.  In Libya, there was certainly an Islamist element in the opposition to Gadhafi, but you don’t really have the kind of sectarian divide in Libya or Egypt that you do in Syria.

The geopolitical context of the Syrian conflict is also different. Syria, in the end, is more geopolitically important than, say, Libya or Yemen.  That’s one reason the Assad regime has enjoyed more international support than Gadhafi did in Libya.  The United States was able to get a UN Security Council resolution authorizing an intervention in Libya in March 2011.  Russia and China abstained on that resolution, letting it go through, but both came to believe that the United States and its partners have abused this resolution.  Moscow and Beijing quickly concluded that letting the Libya resolution through had been a mistake—a mistake they were determined not to repeat where Syria is concerned. 

Where the United States stands:  It was extremely foolish for Obama to say in August 2011 that “Assad must go,” because it means that the United States cannot be serious about conflict resolution in Syria.  Likewise, it was foolish for Obama to draw his “red line” about chemical weapons use during his reelection campaign.  So when chemical weapons were used in Syria in August this year, Obama was trapped by his own rhetoric.  He said he would use force, but of course, the UN Security Council wouldn’t endorse it.  The Arab League, NATO and the British Parliament wouldn’t endorse it.  And it soon became apparent that, because of public opposition, even Congress wasn’t going to endorse it.  Since then, the US has really not had a coherent Syria policy. Supporting the opposition has failed.  Only a diplomatic resolution, which the United States can’t seriously support because of Obama’s August 2011 remarks, will work.

What Happens Next:  Assad will continue to strengthen his position on the ground.  But as long as Saudi money and weapons get to the opposition groups, they will be able to continue a campaign—and so the violence will go on.  The only way out is diplomacy aimed at a political settlement between Assad and the opposition.  Until the Obama administration is willing to walk back from some of the positions it has taken regarding Assad and is willing to push allies like Saudi Arabia to halt the flow of weapons to oppositionists, it will be difficult to get a serious political process going.  In the absence of a serious political process, the violence could go on for a very long time.

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett


116 Responses to “You Can’t Make Sound Policy by Disregarding Reality—Flynt Leverett on the Syria Conflict”

  1. Don Bacon says:

    “You Can’t Make Sound Policy by Disregarding Reality—Flynt Leverett on the Syria Conflict”

    The reality on Syria is that for the US and its allies Syria is vital only because it is a step-stone to Iran. That’s the reality. Listen to what US politicians say. Other details don’t matter. Syria is all about Iran.

    Yet this piece doesn’t mention Iran one time. Pity.

  2. Bibijon says:

    “the violence could go on for a very long time.”

    I very much doubt this prediction. In less than a year Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia will be mired in internal strife and unable to contribute to the violence in Syria. (P)GCC cohesion or lack thereof, is an early indicator of the looming collapse of ‘Islam for a fist full of dollars’ movement.

    And, that is the optimistic scenario. The pessimist would wager that KSA will be directly attacked if it fails to stop recruiting/funding/arming jihadis after Geneva-II.

  3. Bibijon says:

    No, Elias Groll. It wasn’t Ed’s fault. It’s his parents’ fault. Actually you can go as far back in his genealogy to find what went wrong. Just don’t blame the leadership at NSA who set out to vacuum up global communications without stopping to think what might be the repercussions. As for the benefits on the other side of the ledger, after sifting through every fast-food phone order, I doubt NSA could tell us who is the real “original” Ray’s Pizza in NY.

    And, I wonder how much of the current spat with India has its roots in

  4. Neil M says:

    Talking about disregarding reality, I’m becoming a little irritated by the consistency with which every pundit I stumble upon seems committed to ignoring the real reason Obama called off his ‘promised’ military assault on Syria (from a safe distance). It’s called Russia; more specifically the Russian naval fleet offshore from Syria – just far enough from Syria itself to distinguish ‘accidental’ pot shots landing on or near it, from deliberate acts of aggression.

    The other reality being studiously ignored is that the US is not a Superpower. One only need reflect on how this myth was concocted – by destroying non-threatening little military nonentities, with little or no self-defense capability, to realise that becoming a real Superpower would involve more ‘heavy lifting’ and far fewer asinine blunders than America has put on display in its tawdry history of bullying and insanely ferocious, totally unjustified, violence. Coupled to the fact that US victories have mostly been against artificial enemies which couldn’t shoot back, is the Impunity myth.

    The dubious foundations upon which the Impunity and Superpower myths totter has meant that, when Russia reared its ugly (but appealing) head Obama was obliged to wrap them in cotton wool and put them out of sight, lest they be eviscerated within 24 hours. I can never remember which century was supposed to be the New American Century but, judging by the way C21 is headed, it’s more likely than not that the 21st Century will become known as the Non American Century. And that’s not even thinking about all those unsolved money, social, corruption, 1%, and infrastructure problems.

  5. Bibijon says:

    What I share with Kirk, Menendez and Schumer …

    Me too boys. I also think a rapprochement is coming.

  6. Ataune says:

    Diplomatic channels have other purposes too. They can work as body punches to weaken the resolve of an overly agressive opponent.

    In this particular case you have an over-sized and agressive, but tired and unwilling boxer, encouraged to go for the knock-out by some of the most engaged spectators – obviousely having a huge interest in the loss of the opponent. But, since the boxer along with the coach and his staff know well that they won’t be able to finish the job now because of all the body jabs that he has received, they are satisfied with a temporary draw.

    Israel and SA realize that once the fight stops the US might not consider another re-match preferring a bigger prize somewhere else. They are worried that they will then be left in the arena with a fighter well trained and somehow technically superior to their prowess and strength after having so publicly rooting against him.

    Both in the case of Syria and the nuclear dossier the diplomatic channels are functioning for Iran like body punches right now. There are nothing harmful in exercising them and even bigger advances in his interests might lie ahead.

  7. Don Bacon says:

    Neil M says:
    December 19, 2013 at 8:35 am

    The other reality being studiously ignored is that the US is not a Superpower.

    Yes. US policy on Syria has been absolutely without positive effect.

    –Arming the anti-Syria forces has merely prolonged the war and created more misery. Syria has stood the test and is prevailing. Ambassador Stevens was killed in Benghazi where he was moonlighting on UA arms to Syria through Turkey.

    –The various iterations of anti-Syria governments dreamed up by the US, Clinton specifically, with all their congresses and public statements have been nothing more than a comedy side-show.

    –The Geneva II conference was going to be held in June, then July — how’s that going? It’s a cruel joke.

    –The US position on President Assad — Assad must go — has been an embarrassment. News report, Dec 14, 2011: The State Department official, Frederic Hof, told Congress on Wednesday that Assad’s repression may allow him to hang on to power but only for a short time. And, he urged the Syrian opposition to prepare for the day when it takes control of the state in order to prevent chaos and sectarian conflict. “Our view is that this regime is the equivalent of dead man walking,” said Hof, the State Department’s pointman on Syria.

  8. Rd. says:

    Saudi envoy to UK says ;

    Saying that the kingdom has “global responsibilities,” Abdulaziz claimed that Riyadh “will act to fulfill these responsibilities, with or without the support of our Western partners.”

    Kingdom has global responsibilities!!! RMEMBER 9/11???

  9. Sakineh Bagoom says:

    James Canning says: December 18, 2013 at 7:25 pm
    “My view is simple: certain Saudi leaders saw a considerable risk Iran would bring war to the Gulf, and they decided to take out Bashar al-Assad while the opportunity was to hand.”

    Perhaps your view is as a simpleton. Please explain how and what difference does Syria make to Persian Gulf ( I know, you can’t even bring yourself to say Persian – the Gulf – or perhaps it’s Arabian to you).
    How will injuring Iran (through Syria) stop a war in Persian Gulf, not speed it up?
    How will Iran attack SA with 5th fleet sitting to the north? Or, is it the suicidal mullahs theory?
    Come on James, children read these comments. Please don’t disappoint them.

    For the children, the answer is: “Sakineh, you simply don’t comprehend the politics of the [fill in the blank], ‘the Gulf’, US, Israel, etc”. Don’t you just see it coming?

  10. Don Bacon says:

    The US isn’t doing well, but others are, including Russia
    news report
    Russia scored several major foreign policy successes this year and will seek to carry its momentum into 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin makes no secret of his desire to increase Russia’s global influence and standing. He is succeeding, including by shaping the direction of several Middle East hot spots. As a result, Russia’s international stature may be at its highest since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union.

  11. Bandolero says:

    Flynt, thank you for your thoughts.

    However, there is one point about the future I doubt you are wrong:

    “Only a diplomatic resolution, which the United States can’t seriously support because of Obama’s August 2011 remarks, will work.”

    I think instead of this we will soon be seeing the following scenario:

    1) Al Qaeda and their allies in Syria will reject any diplomatic solution

    2) A broad international consensus will appear that it is neccessary to defeat Al Qaeda and their allies using military force in Syria

    3) There will grow an international consensus that the only force in the world able to defeat Al Qaeda in Syria is the Syrian Arab Army. Foreign intervention in Syria to defeat Al Qaeda is not an option because foreign forces will be seen as invaders aggrevating the problem. The part of the anti-government forces in Syria who oppose Al Qaeda and their allies are much too weak to win against Al Qaeda in Syria. They may help the Syrian army defeating Al Qaeda though, if they like.

    4) The international consensus that the Syrian Arab Army is tasked with defeating Al Qaeda and their allies will be put into a binding UN security council resolution, that threatens anyone individual, organisation or state which hampers the mission of the Syrian Arab Army to defeat Al Qaeda and their allies with sanctions and listings as terrorists or sponsors of terrorism.

    5) As the Syrian Arab Army is the only solution for carrying out the crucial task of defeating Al Qaeda and their allies in Syria the country will be run like the Syrian Arab Army wants it. An international consensus will occur that it is not desirable to lay down conditions on Syria that will risk a mutiny in the Syrian Arab Army that will make it impossible to defeat Al Qaeda in Syria.

    6) The Syrian Arab Army will decide that Assad’s way of bringing democracy to Syria and seeking compromises with all constituencies of the Syrian society in the last three years was the right way, that’s the way the process must continue and therefore it will continue that way. If larger parts of the opposition will argue that the clause of Syria’s new constitution which says a President of Syria in the future should serve no more than two terms in a row in office should apply to Bashar Al-Assad, too, a compromise might be possible that Bashar Al-Assad will not seek a third term in office – if, and only if, the opposition will in return accept the constitution and promises to play along the political processes outlined in that constitution. Minor changes to the constitution may be possible if the Syrian people will confirm these changes in a referendum.

    7) Some countries will be very angry about all this but they will stop their support for Al Qaeda and their allies in Syria because they don’t want to be sanctioned internationally and listed as state sponsors of terror.

    8) The Syrian Arab Army will then quite quickly defeat Al Qaeda, their allies and whoever holds weapons in Syria for any other pupose than defeating Al Qaeda and their allies in cooperation with the Syrian Arab Army but for long years to come Syria will be plagued by many singular acts of terror.

  12. Don Bacon says:

    Why should Iran attack any country? It has accumulated power by expert diplomacy, and by standing by Syria and Hezbollah, and by the US being such a klutz, like in handing over Iraq as a new ally, and retreating from Afghanistan which will have a similar result.

    Attacking other countries is for losers.

  13. James Canning says:

    “Self-inflicted debacle”, in the fortuitous circumstances that enabled Obama to avoid a reckless US attack on Syria?

  14. Karl.. says:

    Don Bacon

    Indeed or as Finkelstein would have put it:

  15. James Canning says:


    Is there an analyst who argues the Saudi effort to overthrow Bashar al-Assad is not related to Saudi fears of possible war in the Gulf?

  16. fyi says:

    James Canning says:

    December 19, 2013 at 1:42 pm



  17. Castellio says:

    James at 1.42. You’re kidding, right?

    Can there be a serious analyst who argues that the Saudi effort to overthrow al-Assad is to avoid war, when it is war itself which the Saudis are supporting?

  18. Castellio says:

    Neil M at 8:35 am

    I tend to agree that it was the presence of a determined Russian military which changed American policy towards Syria; however, it’s hard to find verified information to support that interpretation. If you have worthwhile links, I would be obliged to you if you post them.

    In particular, is it true that American trial cruise missiles were shot down by the Russians?

  19. Castellio says:

    Actually, it would be interesting, given the Leverrett’s insistence that “you can’t make sound and effective policy by disregarding on-the-ground reality” if the Russian military preparedness to defend the al-Assad government was openly analyzed by them.

  20. Castellio says:

    Flynt says: “In Syria, it’s not really a Sunni-Shite divide; it’s more a divide between those who want to live in a nominally secular state and those who want to live in a Sunni Islamist state.”

    Worth considering at length.

  21. Don Bacon says:

    The US should have sent McCain to talk to the organ-eaters again.
    news report:
    “The Islamic Front has refused to sit with us, without giving any reason,” U.S. Syria envoy Robert Ford told Al Arabiya television, speaking in Arabic, a day after Secretary of State John Kerry said such talks might take place.

  22. kooshy says:

    Castellio says:
    December 19, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    “James at 1.42. You’re kidding, right?”


    Please don’t mind this scenario of Gav James; my understanding is that he currently is working hard to come out with a concept for the next Norman Wisdom’s (David Cameron) script which incidentally is called “Norman does Gulf Arabs”. Now everyone’s real concern is, since Norman can only do up to 20% of the Arabs should that be included in the title or not. If we get pass that everything will be rosy again.

  23. Khomeini says:

    To All

    I think the war on Syrian will play out the following way in next one year:

    1) By summer of 2014, Syrian army – with the help of National Defense Force and Hizbollah, will retake and firmly control all strategic areas and most of Syrian Territory.

    2) At this point Syrian army will hold further territorial gain and let infighting among insurgents to intensify – off course Syrian army with the help of its intelligence agents (embedded deep inside each and every insurgent group ) will engineer, instigate and flame ferocity of inter-insurgent fighting.

    Does it sound familiar ? Did you say Afghanistan? hmmm…. Your answer is technical correct but I had Algeria of 1992 in mind.

    Why Algeria did you say? Because when Algerian army took over and canceled the election result which the Islamist won, the army sent a delegation to Syria to learn from Syrian Army on how to defeat insurgents. Syria was chosen because Syrian Army just a decade ago had successfully defeated Muslim brotherhood lead rebellion.

    Syrian Army taught Algerian army how to infiltrate insurgents and get them on each others throat with the aim of letting insurgents finish off each other AND ALSO loose any public support the insurgents enjoyed. Not surprisingly that is exactly what happened.

    Back to Syria – the army will hold its position and let the insurgents exterminate each other.

    3) at this stage Hatey province of Turkey will feel real heat from Syrian insurgents. This will in turn erode remaining public support of sultan Erdagon, mischievous vazir Davutoglu and AK party – CHP lead coalition will be back in Turkish power. Army’s power will be restored and that will be the end of Ottoman dream!!

    4) Syrian army will finally, at the end of 2014, reclaim all of Syrian territory and declare “Mission Accomplished”.

    5) United States influence will further erode – if not fully eroded.

  24. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Don Bacon: “Yet this piece doesn’t mention Iran one time. Pity.”

    The post does mention Iran… “While intended primarily to undermine Iran’s regional position, it has done nothing of the sort.”

    With regard to this: “…made it abundantly clear that the United States can no longer credibly threaten the effective use of military force in the Middle East.”

    I’d say that’s not yet proven. It depends on what one means by “credibly” and “effective”. Of course, the US can’t be “effective” in terms of remaking even one country in the Middle East, let alone the region. But the US still has the pure military force – “credible” or not to people who don’t understand it – to effectively demolish any given country’s infrastructure and economy, as was proven in Iraq (Afghanistan doesn’t count, as they never had an infrastructure or economy.) The US can still do the same to Iran – even if, as I’ve said repeatedly here, Iran eventually “wins” that war when the US is forced to – probably in ten years or so – go home. At least Iran won’t be in the same sectarian violence state that Iraq is still in, ten years after the US invasion and which Afghanistan will be in when the US finally pulls out of there. But that’s not a “win” anyone should be hoping for.

  25. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Castellio: “the Russian military preparedness to defend the al-Assad government”

    It doesn’t exist. So it needs no analysis.

  26. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Bandolero: “I think instead of this we will soon be seeing the following scenario:”

    Let’s look at this point by point.

    “1) Al Qaeda and their allies in Syria will reject any diplomatic solution”

    Of course they will – they have no motivation not to and plenty of Saudi support.

    “2) A broad international consensus will appear that it is neccessary to defeat Al Qaeda and their allies using military force in Syria”

    Doubtful. Speculative at best. However, as I’ve said here before, it might well be a considered cover story by the US and Israel for the REAL motivations of attacking Syria, i.e. to degrade Syria’s military (particularly its missile arsenal) and to enable Israel to attack Hizballah in Lebanon again. How the US spins an antipathy to Al Qaeda in Syria with attacking Assad is difficult to comprehend logically, but I’m sure Obama can come up with a ridiculous story to justify it.

    In any event, it’s not clear Assad would be very smart to welcome US/NATO (still less Israeli) military support to his military, given that it would require him to lose a great deal of that “independence” Flynt refers to in the post.

    “3) There will grow an international consensus that the only force in the world able to defeat Al Qaeda in Syria is the Syrian Arab Army. Foreign intervention in Syria to defeat Al Qaeda is not an option because foreign forces will be seen as invaders aggrevating the problem.”

    Exactly. However, Israel and the US aren’t going to go along with the notion that only Assad can beat Al Qaeda. That isn’t the US historical position. The position is going to be that only the US military can do this.

    “4) The international consensus that the Syrian Arab Army is tasked with defeating Al Qaeda and their allies will be put into a binding UN security council resolution, that threatens anyone individual, organisation or state which hampers the mission of the Syrian Arab Army to defeat Al Qaeda and their allies with sanctions and listings as terrorists or sponsors of terrorism.”

    Again, doubtful. Essentially such a resolution would mean officially recognizing the Assad government as the only legitimate government, which would reverse the entire political process so far. The Saudis of course would ignore that resolution and would suffer no penalties for doing so unless the US was willing to cut off aid to KSA, which is incredibly unlikely.

    “7) Some countries will be very angry about all this but they will stop their support for Al Qaeda and their allies in Syria because they don’t want to be sanctioned internationally and listed as state sponsors of terror.”

    Good luck achieving that with Saudi Arabia…

    “8) The Syrian Arab Army will then quite quickly defeat Al Qaeda”

    Again, as long as the insurgents are getting support from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, Assad cannot win. The Syrian military might get an upper hand and recover much of the currently occupied territory, but it will be unable to reduce the violence to an acceptable level where the opposition will be forced into negotiations. Again, the Islamists have no motive to do so as long as they are getting weapons and ammo, and no one is going to stop Saudi Arabia from supplying them.

    The more probably future outcome of the current situation is that sooner or later either the US will reverse its present course and resume threats against Syria under some pretext or other, or Israel will take a more direct hand in the conflict by attacking Syria.

    Again, the REAL motivation for the Syria crisis is the desire of the US and Israel to attack Iran. Israel cannot do so while Hizballah retains 40-60,000 rockets and missiles, Israel cannot – effectively – attack Hizballah in Lebanon without going through the Bekaa Valley – which entails engaging the Syrian military. So either the US and NATO have to take out the Syrian military, or Israel has to, before Israel can attack Hizballah.

    Nothing has changed in this equation except the fact that the US has had difficulty getting a sufficiently credible “excuse” to directly attack Syria. First, the US tried UN Resolutions, but Russia and China blocked those. Then they tried getting first Turkey and then Israel directly involved by having insurgents fire into those countries and provoke responses which were intended to provoke response from Syria. But Syria did not respond. Then came the “chemical weapons” false-flag operations – which failed when Russia convinced Assad to destroy his chemical weapons. This put the US back to square one.

    The motivations however have not changed. Israel is not going to allow Hizballah, Syria and Iran to be a threat to Israel’s plans for expansion in the region. They just aren’t going to allow that. And they have the clout in the US to get their way. And the US military-industrial complex and the oil companies also want an Iran war for profit – and they have the clout to get their way.

    The rest is just details and timing.

  27. James Canning says:


    Obama clearly wanted to avoid atttacking Syria, if he could do so without taking too much flak politically. Russians helped provide a way out. Russian military had no role in Obama’s thinking.

  28. James Canning says:


    Saudi effort to overthrow Bashar al-Assad is indeed an effort, in part, to injure Iran.


    You think the Saudi effort to overthrow government of Syria has nothing to do with Iran?

  29. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Does Obama Want an Agreement with Iran or Not?

    I’d say not. Obama’s actions make perfect sense if you realize that his main concern is not to be BLAMED for STARTING a new Mid-East war. However, if Israel starts it, or he can force Iran to do something he can claim is justification for starting it, then he would be perfectly happy to prosecute a new Mid-East war.

    The same applies to Syria. Obama was very clear about his intentions when he introduced UN Charter Chapter 7 language into three separate UN Resolutions on Syria – which Russia and China immediately blocked because they KNEW what that meant, having been burned on Libya.

    He was also very clear about his intentions with his “chemical weapons red line”, since he KNEW that the insurgents in Syria had the capability to produce sarin gas and use it in false flag operations. When those operations occurred, he immediately declared an intent to attack Syria. He was only stopped when Russia tore the ground out from under him by convincing Assad to give up Syria’s chemical weapons.

    Obama’s intentions are pretty clear to someone who understands that he is, as Normal Finkelstein put it, “a stunning narcissist” whose primary concern is his Nobel Peace Prize and his (self-deluded) public image – but whose political career is and will be utterly under the control of his backers who are all military-industrial complex investors and Israel-Firsters.

  30. James Canning says:


    Your assessment of the reasons the Saudis are trying to overthrow the government of Syria: _____________.

  31. Richard Steven Hack says:

    To underscore the unlikelihood of Saudi Arabia ever changing its position short of the US cutting off foreign and military aid…

    Saudi ready to act alone on Iran, Syria: ambassador


    The Saudi ambassador slammed the West for its reluctance to offer decisive help to Syrian rebels, vowing to continue support for the Free Syrian Army and the “Syrian opposition.”

    Acknowledging the threat of Al-Qaeda-linked groups in Syria, he argued the best way to counter the rise of extremists among the rebels was to support the “champions of moderation.”

    End Quote

    Now that’s a laugh, since the “extremists” are the ones the Saudis are supporting!

  32. James Canning says:

    Vladimir Putin said he will pardon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. This is welcome news.

  33. James Canning says:

    R S Hack,

    The Saudis took a dangerous gamble, in promoting civil war in Syria. Saudi support is not a unified programme, and the fact al-Qaeda wants to overthrow the Saudi monarchy illustrates this point.

  34. ToivoS says:

    This article from Reuters — — seems to indicate that Western diplomats (I presume the unnamed sources are European not Anerican) have already abandoned Obama’s claim that “Assad must go”.

    this seems very likely and do not think Kerry is going to bring up ousting Assad at this point. All in all, these Geneva talks are becoming even more irrelevant today then they were last summer. The SAA will defeat the rebels. Perhaps a negotiated settlement might lesson the bloodshed and perhaps give Obama and Kerry an opportunity to pose as relevant players in the process rather then look like the losers they are with their Syrian policy.

  35. kooshy says:

    Gav yes I do but that wasn’t how you said it
    This is how you said it:

    James Canning says:
    December 19, 2013 at 1:42 pm
    “Is there an analyst who argues the Saudi effort to overthrow Bashar al-Assad is not related to Saudi fears of possible war in the Gulf?

    How jolly Brit of you my dear

  36. James Canning says:


    I of course abhor the civil war in Syria. But I do think there is no doubting Iran helped to cause it, even if that was not Iran’s intention.

  37. James Canning says:


    Obama appears to comprehend the US cannot determine the outcome of the civil war in Syria, in the event the Syrian government is overthrown. This argues for caution.

  38. Bandolero says:

    Richard Steven Hack

    It seems to me that you overestimate the strengthes of Israel and Saudi Arabia.

    That Israeli/Saudi axis failed already to:

    – make Romney president of the US instead of Obama
    – make the US military bomb Syria
    – block the preliminary P5+1 deal with Iran

    The next logical step will be that they fail to prevent that the P5 of the UNSC will entrust the Syrian army with the task of defeating Al Qaeda in Syria and put a UNSC resolution in place that threatens anyone disturbing the Syrian army fulfilling that task with a terror listing and sanctions.

    Of course, the Israeli/Saudi axis will be very angry with that solution, and probably some other groups of people will be angry, too, like jihadis in Syria, some AKP Turks, some March 14 Lebanese, some GCC jihadi backers, some National Syrian Coalition hotel revolutionaries and so on.

    They will however not be able to block that, and they will fail in trying to do so just like they failed to block the P5+1 Iran deal. Once such an UNSC resolution is in place that are multiple ways of enforcing an end to the support of Al Qaeda in Syria.

    Even if the P5 would not want to take on the Sauds and the GCC head on they may start by going after the direct neighbors of Syria facilitating the entry of terrorists into Syria, ie Jordan and Turkey. The P5 have multiple ways to tighten screws on Jordan and Turkey whenever they want to. Both, Jordan and Turkey are economically and militarily totally dependend on goodwill from EU and US. And voila, when Turkey and Jordan stop to transfer terrorists and military supply into Syria, the Sauds are already almost completely powerless.

  39. Castellio says:

    RSH: “It doesn’t exist. So it needs no analysis.”

    Ah so!

    James: “Russian military had no role in Obama’s thinking.”

    I keep humming ‘Georgia on my mind’. Hoagy Carmichael wrote the music. Nice tune.

  40. Castellio says:

    Bandolero: You seem to live in a very rational world which is busy organizing itself to be ever better. I’m having a hard time recognizing that place.

    You are suggesting that the US/Israel/France/UK are against on-going violence in Syria, and are willing to turn against Saudi Arabia to accomplish it… what reasons do you give for that conjecture?

    I thought that the US/Israel/France/UK are out to defeat Hezbollah and its allies, in particular Syria and Iran (and at one further remove Russia and China) and that any actions that weaken those military realities and the alliances between them are acceptable, including supporting civil war or the conditions for civil war in Lebanon, Syria and Iran (and at one further remove Russia and China). No?

  41. Bandolero says:


    “I thought that the US/Israel/France/UK are out to defeat Hezbollah and its allies, in particular Syria and Iran…”

    Well, in that US/Israel-axis there are some differences between forces of Obama and forces of Netanyahu. Regarding to why Obama may have unleashed the MEPI prepared Arab Spring in his Presidential Study Directive 11 in August 2010 I think there is ample room for speculation. What is clear however, is that the directive came in August 2010, just after Netanyahu had driven the Israel/Palestine two state solution process – that Obama made the main foreign project of his 1st term – against the wall and also just after the US learned that Wikileaks was in possession of the US embassy cables. Remember how Obama bumbed into Netanyahu with his Cairo speech 2009 where he demanded Israel to freeze settlement building including in east Jerusalem and Netanyahu a year later answered in defiance that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

    So the Arab Spring may be seen as a result of Obama bowing to Netanyahu’s power and Obama thought the Arab Spring might be a good pretext to fulfill Netanyahu’s longstanding wishes for regime changes in Libya and Syria. However, one may also see the arab spring as a bet of Obama that it will lead to arab governments more critical of Israel, therefore weakening Netanyahu’s position in the middle east and prepare better conditions for Obama to press Netanyahu into a two state deal with the Palestinians. And then, once the arab spring was rolling, Obama was more or less reactive to various pressure points, culminating in great pressure to get along with Israel backers while seeking a 2nd term and Netanyahu was backing Romney.

    Seriously, I don’t know. It almost looks to me like Obama wanted to have it both ways. One day Obama extended a hand to Iran, demanded from Netanyahu to stop settlements and come into a two state solution, and the next day Obama supported the Mossad-led green colored regime change attempt in Iran, but when that didn’t succeed he did nothing about it.

    In Syria it looks to me that Obama acted quite similar: one day he encouraged people to take on the Assad government and said Assad must go, but then he only carefully provided arms to rebels and when push came to shove he didn’t order the CIA and the US military to do whatever it needs and bring down Assad, but settled for a chemical weapons disarmament deal with Syria and Russia.

    So, what it looks like to me is that Obama’s foreign policy is to poke around here, try making some trouble there, but when he doesn’t succeed he walks some steps back or switches sides.

    So, what make me think that Obama will settle for a solution that the Syrian army must stay, even if that means that Bashar Al Assad might also stay?

    1st) The only alternative to the Syrian Army and Bashar Al Assad are Al Qaeda and their jihadi allies. The FSA is clinically dead – it could not even guard it’s own HQ and main weapons store against Al Qaeda and their jihadi allies. An Al Qaeda rule is a really unpleasant alternative to Assad, even as some extremist US allies would prefer Al Qaeda over Assad.

    2nd) Obama prepared the ground for a solution where the Syrian army is tasked with taking on Al Qaeda, namely the Syrian CW deal which brought Assad back in from the cold, and the Iran nuclear deal, which brought Assad’s best ally back in from the cold and gives Iran access to billions of it’s Dollars it urgently needs to cover it’s huge costs of supporting Assad. If Obama’s target is a war against Syria and Iran, it would be completely nuts to push hard against the Israeli/Saudi axis to give Iran access to billions of Dollars before it starts.

    3rd) There are reports out in the open that a western diplomat told the SNC recently in London, that they must accept that the Syrian army must stay intact and Assad cannot go now because Syria may disintegrate into complete chaos if Assad would go now.

    Given all these considerations I concluded that most likely the scenario will happen that I laid out above: Obama, Putin and the EU will officially give the Syrian army the task to fight Al Qaeda, just like the Syrian army already got the task to help the OPCW to get rid of Syrias CWs.

  42. Neil M says:

    Castellio: December 19, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Sorry, I don’t have verified evidence that Putin issued behind-the-scenes threats to Obama re the consequences of an (illegal) US military assault on Syria. I can, however, provide circumstantial rumour-based evidence, and a train of deductive reasoning which makes it very likely.

    Before I begin, and just to get the mildly unpleasant aspects ‘on the table’ early, it should be self-evident that Americans, and specifically US Administrations, are populated mostly by cowards. The evidence for this is all the lies they tell and the opportunistic bullying they indulge in. Bullying and lying are the exclusive preserve of cowards. No other class of individual habitually engages in either of these activities.

    The ‘evidence’ favouring the Russian intervention theory to explain Obama’s decision to grasp Lavrov’s “get rid of Syria’s chemical weapons” gambit with both hands, is as follows:

    1. On or about the 3rd of September there were Western Media reports of a successful Israeli/US missile interception test over the Mediterranean. Other, non-mainstream sources cast this event as a successful Russian interception of an unstated number of Syria-bound US missiles.
    1(a) The unstated but bleeding obvious reason Russia parked a combat-ready fleet of warships in a Syrian port, initially, and then off-shore, was to discourage, and if necessary punish, any Western attempt at military intervention in the US co-sponsored Syrian Civil War, to give it its incorrect, but official, title.

    2. Keeping in mind that Americans are blowhards (as well as those other aspersions I’ve cast), and Russians are not, this story from the Kremlin website insinuates that the events of September 3 were more truthfully reported by ‘other’ news sources, than by Western news sources.

    3. It’s worth noting that there is another insinuation in the Kremlin story – that the missiles in question were intercepted from Russia, meaning that the Russian Med fleet isn’t solely reliant on its own resources for self-defense.

  43. Smith says:

    Chinese/American researchers increase the success rate of IVF treatment to 60%:

    With over three million infertile couples in Iran wanting children this would mean millions of children.

    Alas bi-basirat bikhasiat bigheirat people in Iran do not understand science.

  44. Sineva says:

    James Canning says:
    December 19, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    >rolls eyes<

  45. Sineva says:

    ToivoS says:
    December 19, 2013 at 6:35 pm
    I think that the only deal assad would be willing to offer at this point would be an amnesty,increasingly this will be a war of the saa vs foreign jihadis,the big problem for the jihadis is that they seem to be almost totally reliant on external support much like the us backed contras,I would imagine that only the most die hard anti assadist would prefer to live under wahabist rule

  46. Rd. says:

    James Canning says:

    “Vladimir Putin said he will pardon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. This is welcome news.”

    They just bailed out Ukrain with some BIG $ bills!!!!!

    Ummm.. I am not saying….. …. but, if the oligarch were to pay for some of the misery they have caused, it is a good thing..

    so when are you paying canning, for all the misery your elites have caused? Or do you prefer the jail term first?

  47. fyi says:

    Neil M says:

    December 19, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    And then there was that sinking of a weapons ship in the Indian Ocean…

  48. Fiorangela says:

    from a Fox News article, “Elie Wiesel urges tougher sanctions against Iran in full-page ads in WSJ, NYT” www dot foxnews dot com/politics/2013/12/19/elie-wiesel-urges-tougher-sanctions-against-iran-in-full-page-ads-in-wsj-nyt/#FFSHARE-frameh-287

    QUOTE: “Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel is challenging the Obama administration’s strategy on Iran, pushing for stronger sanctions and demanding Tehran not be allowed to have any nuclear capabilities.

    “Sanctions have come at a terrible economic cost for the people of Iran,” he said. “But, unfortunately, sanctions are what have brought the Iranian regime to the negotiating table.

    Wiesel took out full-page advertisements in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal this week. The ads were paid for by Jewish philanthropist Birthright Israel co-founder Michael Steinhardt.

    In the ad, Wiesel calls for the U.S. Senate to vote to toughen sanctions against Iran.

    “I appeal to President Obama and Congress to demand, as a condition of continued talks, the total dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and the regime’s public and complete repudiation of all genocidal intent against Israel,” Wiesel wrote. “And I appeal to the leaders of the United States Senate to go forward with their vote to strengthen sanctions against Iran until these conditions have been met.” END QUOTE

  49. fyi says:

    Fiorangela says:

    December 20, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Yes. a deplorable act from a man who is presumed to stand for “Human Rights”.

    Like Mr. Obama, he also lacks the decency to return his Nobel Peace Prize.

  50. Winston Smith says:

    The problem is more fundamental than this, although British policymakers have foolishly failed to address the same issues.

    A Color Revolution was launched with considerable training and money.

    Since this came from outside the country by a a power regarded as hostile it would cause the population to close ranks behind the government.

    A paramilitary covert operation was then launched causing an even more violent reaction as only Jihadists could be used and they were not popular.

    What has happened was completely predictable and as was said before it even happened, “what would happen if a country resist a Humanitarian Intervention?”

  51. fyi says:

    Winston Smith says:

    December 20, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Axis Powers were using true and tested formulas in Syria – first used in Mozambique and later in Afghanistan.

    They have every expectation of quick success.

    But Iran destroyed their plans.

  52. Fiorangela says:

    1. Sanctions did not bring Iran to the table; vastly expanded production of centrifuges brought the USA to the table.

    2. Rule of law, Elie Wiesel, Rule of Law: NPT is the governing rule of law, not the cobwebs in your mind. There is absolutely no basis for the demand that Iran “dismantle its nuclear infrastructure.”

    3. American “realists” rely on Machiavelli to rationalize the sadism that lurks in their black hearts. They err doubly: their intellects are clouded by demonization which apparently causes them to overlook Machiavelli’s overarching concept: authority obtained by manipulation of wealth was no authority at all. Machiavelli was a democrat through and through; his thinking posited that the only power that was legitimate arose from the will of the people. Steinhardt may be megaphoning the will of Likud, or of the Knesset, or of Israeli extremists, but they have no vote in the American political system. The American people, and they alone, have the right and legitimate authority to define American policy.

    4. Wiesel’s and Steinhardt’s use of mass media to promote hate leading to war is reminiscent of John Brown’s self-righteous rage as Thomas Fleming described that most destructive of all forces in “Disease of the Public Mind” —

    [from a review of that book] —

    “Thomas Fleming asks an important question in “A Disease in the Public Mind”: Why was the United States the only major nation to fight a terrible war to end slavery? His counterintuitive answer puts much of the blame on unyielding New England abolitionists who tried to do away with the “peculiar institution” too quickly. Their original sin was to praise John Brown.

    Brown was a homicidal fanatic who managed to fail at every task to which he set his hand, including parenting. His ill-conceived effort in 1859 to start a slave rebellion at Harpers Ferry began with the murder of a free black man, shot by accident, and ended with the death of two of his sons and his own hanging for treason.

    . . .
    His actions were, with a few notable exceptions, condemned north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Brown’s many critics included an Illinois politician named Abraham Lincoln. The intemperate words of philosopher-poet Ralph Waldo Emerson and publisher William Lloyd Garrison in support of Brown’s bloody deeds were, nevertheless, enough to drive Southerners out of the Union, Fleming concludes. Southern men, including the majority who did not own slaves, were convinced that the Browns, Emersons and Garrisons in the North wanted to ignite a race war like the one that convulsed Haiti in 1804.”

    Or Germany in 1933.

    Or Iraq in 1990.

    Or Afghanistan in 2001.

    Or Iraq in 2003.

    Or Syria in 2011.

    These wars and the bloodshed and suffering that is still dominates, did not have to happen. Fleming notes that “other nations eliminated slavery without violence,” and similarly, other nations have resolved major conflicts without war.

  53. Don Bacon says:

    President Ruhani brought the six powers (essentially UNSC) to the table with Iran’s Zardari.
    USA was not at the table, except via Lady Ashton. It wasn’t even in the room.

  54. Smith says:

    fyi says:
    December 20, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    One should not be surprised. It has always been the story of hypocrite rapists, torturers and murderers. No matter how many trillions they squander and how many generations they destroy by their extreme corruption, at the end they behave as if they own Islam/God and go to streets trying to control the fertile uterus. After all rape is their true ideology. They even rape their own daughters at home. Have no doubt. When one eats haram on such gigantic scale, eating up the resources of a nation, then such sins like raping one’s own daugthers become small triviality. They are sick hypocrites.

  55. Castellio says:

    Smith, no chance of following Bussed-In-Baji’s not-too-subtle suggestion, is there?

  56. Smith says:

    Iran’s problems have their solution only in science and technology. Only full support for research and development and systematic encouragement of innovation and entrepreneurship can lift Iran out of its misery. Not dangling from American phallus by mouth as the corrupt and the sellouts are advocating here.

    Only a knowledge based economy and arsenal of nuclear weapons can guarantee Iran’s prosperity. Not bowing to the glory of the powerful American phallus and accepting it as a protector god.

    Look at this shame:

  57. Castellio says:

    I think he mentioned professional help. Talk it out sort of thing. It doesn’t have to mean prescription drugs.

  58. Smith says:

    More theatrics in the court of the mad king to confuse Iranians:

    At the end of the day, it will come to Iran deciding to become an invaded, raped slave of America or be a respected free from threats nuclear armed nation.

    Expect more sanctions to come. Even that 55 dollars seems to be just a ruse. Iran will be expected to dismantle its nuclear industry while US is just going to shove its erect phallus up Iran’s. There is no 55 dollars. Get used to it.

  59. Karl.. says:


    Barack could veto, but he hasnt the balls for that, he will surely pass this and blame congress as the snake he is.

  60. Smith says:

    Karl.. says:
    December 20, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Behind the scenes, they are all the same. These are theatrics to confuse Iranians. Obama himself put sanctions on Iran just a week ago probably costing hundreds of millions of dollars or even more (the sanction entities were related to mother industries of Iran).

    They will not give anything to Iran. They just want to dismantle Iran’s industrial capability so that when they or their house negros decide to invade Iran, then it will be easier for them. At the end of the day, they want to invade, rape and kill Iranians in millions. Make no mistake.

    Only arsenal of nuclear weapons can save Iran. Mad king has already decided to hunt and finish off Iran. It is now only a matter of time before his claws come out. Iran better be prepared for that day by having taken its favorite petite whore hostage.

  61. James Canning says:

    Wall Street Journal report today noted that some members of US Congress would welcome an Obama veto of a new Iran sanctions bill, to allow them to vote for it without seeing US interests damaged by having it go into effect.

  62. James Canning says:

    Don Bacon,

    Russia and China were also happy to have Lady Ashton deal directly with Zardari, to get deal done.

  63. James Canning says:


    Who are the “axis powers”? Obama clearly does not want the US boggged down in civil war in Syria.

  64. James Canning says:


    Is Elie Weisel as ignorant as he seems at least to pretend? Iran does not have “genocidal intent” toward Israel.

  65. James Canning says:


    I am not sure whether you think freeing Khodorkovsky was a good thing, after reading your comment.

  66. fyi says:

    Castellio says:

    December 20, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    He is not completely wrong: the political groupings in Iran (among the “In” people – whereby the likes of him and I are excluded) are best described as temporary “tribes” with no structure or aim expect the needs of the moment.

    And then there is the wishful thinking and non-rational emotionalism that permeates all social strata – the mention of “Reason” gets you nowhere – you will be sneered at.

    As for Americans’: they have nothing to show for 2 decades of effort past the end of the Cold War – they have left a wreck in the Balkans, one in Afghanistan, another in Iraq, and now in Syria.

  67. Smith says:

    In the court of the mad king of unreason:

    US blocks Iran’s presence in Geneva II while supporting wahabi terror central Saudi Arabia. Now it is very much apparent that peace is not an option for the mad king. Only more bloodshed and wars.

  68. fyi says:

    Smith says:

    December 20, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    That is actually benefiting Iran and Syria – Geneva II cannot achieve anything on Syria.

    Iranians are not bound by its conclusions and can continue, together with Syrian government, pursue the destruction of the anti-government forces.

    Geneva II might have some entertainment value in a macabre sense.

    [You saw what Axis Powers did in Sudan – like Kosovo – they created another wreck.]

  69. nahid says:

    Dear fyi, with this high ranking official speech any chance for nuclear agreement

    انگلیس در بحث شیعه و سنی فعال است/ با توافق ژنو عملا غنی سازی متوقف می شود/رهبر معظم انقلاب مدیریت خطوط قرمز را برعهده دارند
    سیاسی – رجانیوز: وزیر اطلاعات سایق کشورمان هفته گذشته با حضور در حوزه علمیه چیذر، به سخنرانی درباره جزئیات فتنه 88 و برخی پشت پرده‌های فعالیت احزاب سیاسی نزدیک به طیف اصلاحات در کشور پرداخت؛ سخنانی که با استقبال مخاطبین روبرو شد و حاوی مطالب و تحلیل‌های جالبی از شرایط فعلی کشور در عرصه داخلی و سیاست بین‌الملل بود.

    به گزارش رجانیوز، متن کامل سخنرانی حجت‌الاسلام مصلحی در این مراسم به شرح زیر است:

  70. James Canning says:

    I too see it as foolish for the US to block Iran from participation in negotiations aimed at ending civil war in Syria.

  71. James Canning says:


    The situation in the Balkans is nowhere near as grim as you suggest. A lot of progress has been made, but more needs to be achieved. (Rule of law, suppression of corruption, etc)

  72. Winston Smith says:

    No, they destroyed the country of Jugoslavia, BROUGHT BACK HITLER’S COLLABORATIONIST STATES, Wow! Yes! Don’t challenge me on this one as I can give details – it’s the same map. They then created an absolute mess. And tried t create, AGAIN, Islamic fundamentalist states. Rule of Law – you must be b***in’ joking !, to use the British phrae, youdon’tbelieve in it.

  73. Castellio says:

    James: I celebrate that the Arctic 30 were amnestied. Khodorkovsky, on the other hand, was simply a corporate criminal who worked very hard to control Russian oil and gas for those who see the people of Russia as enemies and stooges.

  74. fyi says:

    nahid says:

    December 20, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    I agree with Mr. Moslehi – Axis Powers, Russia, China will never agree to sovereign rights of Iran in this regard.

    But Iran does not need their approval; did Iran need their approval in Syria, or in Lebanon (over the last 30 years)?

  75. Smith says:

    fyi says:
    December 20, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    That is right. I was thinking in the lines of “responsibilities of a sane super power”. Alas we are dealing with a mad king here.

    “Assad has to go”. Yeah sure. Assad will outlast Obama in power and very probably the next half a dozen US presidents as well:

  76. M. Ali says:

    “fyi says:
    December 20, 2013 at 4:42 pm
    Castellio says:

    December 20, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    He is not completely wrong:”

    He is wrong in the way he talks, and the way he phrases himself. Childish, immature, and not that far from the way fundementalist zionists, ultraconsertives rednecks, and tehrangeles monarchist brainwashed idiots talk.

    His December 20, 2013 at 1:50 pm post has statements like “After all rape is their true ideology” and “They even rape their own daughters at home. Have no doubt. “. How can you, spout about truth with a capital T, not roll your eyes with crap like this? In just ONE paragraph, he mentions rape four times. His post has 102 words, and 4% of it is using the word rape. We’re not even TALKING about rape!

    The only person in the history of this discussion forum, both goingtotehran & raceforiran, that had rape mentioned so many times in his post was Iranian diaspora who wanted an attack on Iran was Sassan. He kept talking about how Iranians keep raping Iranians.

    This is how Sassan used to post,
    “There is no amount of so called U.S. action or “western influence” can wash away the fact that this is a regime that is so brutal that they rape our young sisters before execution so that they don’t “die as virgins” as “virgins go straight to heaven” as to both “not pollute heaven” and to “deny” this to them too. ”

    FYI, you so desperatly want someone to be on your side, that ones they are, you aren’t willing to dispute them against the moronic and idiotic way they talk.

    Shame on you for not being interested in Truth, and just want a fanbase.

  77. Rehmat says:

    In the past, American Jewish lobby groups (AIPAC, ADL, AJC, etc.) were the main actors that took much of the credit for lobbying US politicians into invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya – and break-up of Pakistan and Sudan. Now, the same groups are campaigning for new wars for Israel in Iran, Syria, Pakistan and Lebanon. Their current campaign, like in the past, is based on Israel’s propaganda lies.

  78. Don Bacon says:

    Rehmat says:
    December 21, 2013 at 9:29 am

    You can blame Israel for everything if it makes you feel good, but the situation is more complicated than that.

    Attacking Afghanistan and Iraq for political reasons were US objectives of long standing. Libya was also a US objective, France-instigated. The US has long had designs on a compliant Iran, and Syria as a chief ally, having nothing to do with Israel.

  79. Photi says:

    I thought the following video link was a good panel discussion brought to us by the Asia Society. Panel includes Thomas Pickering, Hossein Mousavian, Robert Einhorn. Moderated by George Stephanopoulos. Well done on the part of panel, especially Mousavian who dispelled propaganda-advanced myths about Iran’s intent towards Israel and also offered prickly insight into the US relationship with Israel and what Iran thinks of that relationship. He squarely put the blame for Israel’s (in-)security environment on the Israeli failure to achieve peace with their neighbors after decades of occupation. He clearly states the fact that Ahmadinejad never pledged to “wipe Israel off the map.”

    Nuclear Deal Talks with Iran
    Dec 17, 2013

    Asia society

    Former nuclear proliferation negotiators for the Clinton and Obama administrations and for Iran discussed the current talks with Iran over its nuclear program. Robert Einhorn said that there was still no agreement on the key point of the level of uranium enrichment by Iran that would be acceptable to the U.S. Topics included the role sanctions played in bringing Iran to the negotiating table. George Stephanopoulos moderated this event in the “Asia: Beyond the Headlines” series.

  80. Castellio says:

    The idea that current US policy in relation to Iran and Syria has nothing to do with Israel, or is independent of Israeli interests, is several steps too far.

    But perhaps that’s not what you are saying.

  81. Karl.. says:

    Don Bacon
    December 21, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Actually it is just that easy (Afghanistan excluded).
    Wars on Iraq, Syria, Iran have everything all to do with Israel.

    This should be basic knowledge by now and especially here.

  82. James Canning says:

    Perhaps Obama comprehends the fact he was extremely foolish to say “Assad must go”, back in 2011.

  83. James Canning says:


    John Kerry has made clear he sees Iranian enrichment to levels lower than 5% as acceptable.

  84. James Canning says:


    Did Robert Einhorn claim the US will not accept Iranian enrichment to low levels? At Asia Society.

  85. James Canning says:

    Don Bacon,

    Obama and his generals wanted to avoid intervening in Libya.

    Illegal US invasion of Iraq had a great deal to do with Israel. Netanyahu was a key conspirator.

  86. James Canning says:


    Surely Khodorkovsky was put in prison because he threatened the power structure in Russia headed by Putin.

  87. nico says:

    Karl.. says:

    “Actually it is just that easy (Afghanistan excluded).
    Wars on Iraq, Syria, Iran have everything all to do with Israel.”

    Israel has an influence.
    However the real issue is the US macro policies of foreign meddling and hundered of billions of military spending.
    Aims without means might be nonsensical.
    Though means whithout purposes cannot be understood.

    The US military sizing might only be explained by criminal purposes.
    Israel may use and abuse that situation but Israel is not the original source of that situation.

  88. Karl.. says:


    Those interests come from Israel.

    Who do you think press for more sanctions on Iran?

    Ever heard of aipac?

  89. James Canning says:


    Netanyahu lobbied the US Congress, in person, in 2002, for a US invasion of Iraq on false pretenses.

  90. James Canning says:

    Marsha B. Cohen exposes highly paid heads of Jewish charities who lobby for more sanctions against Iran:

  91. nico says:

    Karl.. says:

    “Ever heard of aipac?”

    Ever heard of the 1953 coup ?
    Related to Aipac ?

  92. Karl.. says:


    What does 1953 have to do with the sanctions aipac press for today?
    There was no aipac in 53, you should know that.

  93. nico says:

    James Canning says:

    “Netanyahu lobbied the US Congress, in person, in 2002, for a US invasion of Iraq on false pretenses.”

    The issue is the barbarism and lack of morality of western leaders.
    The lack of respect for others and use of brutal force unjustifiably.
    That is in a disprortionate fashion compared to the thretened interset and not based upon any common sense of equality of treatment.
    That is basically criminality.
    That is basically racism and supremacism albeit under exeptionalism, false pretenses and propaganda.

    The same that obtains in Africa with continuous murder of unfriendly leaders, support for tyrant and local rebels.
    The same as the various coups and murders supported in Southern America and elsewhere.

    The basic cause for the situation is the roguish and thugish ways of world governance by western leaders.

    They formerly had the excuse of communism or imperial competition.

    What was the excuse after the fall of USSR ?
    Israel ? War on terror ?
    Truly pathetic and miserable excuse when measured by historical perspective and in proportion of true stakes and real threats.
    However that does not hide the political MORAL bankruptcy and going back to times of colonization, brutal wealth extraction and political dominance.

  94. nico says:

    And obviously the current size of US military is the true signature of the Project…

  95. Fiorangela says:

    James Canning says:
    December 21, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    “John Kerry / has made clear / ________ ”

    Joining that noun with that verb makes anything that follows of dubious credibility.

  96. Karl.. says:

    December 21, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    You say that the fact that Israel pushed Bush to war on Iraq is BS?

  97. nico says:

    Karl.. says:

    “You say that the fact that Israel pushed Bush to war on Iraq is BS?”

    The general Wesley Clark testimony available on youtube clearly shows that that was an colonial project of materialistic dominance and ideological nation building.
    It shows that Irak was one among many MENA countries which were to be attacked according to the plan.
    And it clearly shows that that was a macro policy of imperial dominance as per Wolfowitz words at the end of the 90s.

  98. Karl.. says:


    And again what did I say here?

    Ever heard of A Clean break?

  99. nico says:

    Karl.. says:

    “Ever heard of A Clean break?”

    Again, such policies and advocacy could have only been fertile on receptive ground at the highest political echelon and economical leadership of the US.
    And it has been well received because of the higher imperial design and supremacism of the leadership US.

  100. Karl.. says:


    Well of course, thats why I mentioned aipac that cause that “receptive ground”.

  101. James Canning says:


    I give John Kerry more credit than you do. He has to consider the views of aggressive Aipac stooges in his own party, in the US Congress.

  102. James Canning says:


    You clearly are not aware that Netanyahu testified before the US Congress in 2002, as part of the conspiracy to set up the illegal invasion of Iraq. Or, perhaps you prefer to ignore that fact?

  103. James Canning says:


    And let’s remember that John Kerry told the Financial Times in 2009 it was absurd to think a deal can be made with Iran, without allowing Iran to enrich uranium to low levels.

  104. Castellio says:

    James Canning says: December 21, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    No, that’s not true. My God, the illegal actions of the Russsian (so called) oil industry post Yeltsin were many. the ‘new owners’ treated the corporations as private bank accounts, and legal accouting and oversight were, to put it in polite terms, minimal and abused. They could have had K. in jail for life with valid charges.

    Putin brought the rudiments of a legal system into what was a chaos of theft, blackmail and thuggery/coercion. (Why do you think so many of the Oligarchs ran to England? For the sunshine?)

    Putin did what Obama should have done with the American banks who casually used illegal methodologies and illegal practises as a ‘normal way of business’, and who still do so. The only difference is that the ‘new owners’ in Russia were not shy of physical violence as part of their ‘negotiations’?

  105. James Canning says:


    Yes, there was in effect a looting of state assets, in wake of collapse of USSR. Which created the oligarchs. But Khodorkovsky was put in prison because he posed a serious challenge to the power of the group around Putin.

  106. Neil M says:

    It would probably be more accurate to say that Khodorkovsky was put in prison because he posed a serious anti-Russian challenge to the power of the pro-Russian group around Putin.

  107. Neil M says:

    America’s anti-American oligarchs, for example, are well on the way to extinguishing America’s industrial base by exporting tens of millions of American jobs to low-wage countries merely to make themselves immensely wealthy and powerful.