Sunday, November 29, 2015

Daniel Lazare — The Collision Course in Syria

After Bush's folly in Iraq, Obama's folly in Syria and it far from over yet in both Iraq and Syria with both the future costs on all sides and the ultimate outcome uncertain.
A quarter of a million people would eventually die as a consequence of Obama’s miscalculation, 7.6 million would be displaced, and another four million would be driven abroad, all this in a country of just 22 million prior to the onset of civil war.
To put this in perspective, it is as if 3.6 million Americans had died as a result of a foreign-financed civil war, 110 million had been driven out of their homes, and another 58 million had been forced to flee abroad to Canada, Mexico or whatever other country would take them, where they would have no choice but to beg or perhaps sell ballpoint pens to passers-by in hopes of scratching out a living.
Instead of democracy, the U.S.-led push to overthrow Assad put Syria on the path to catastrophe. Obama could have hit the pause button at any point once it became clear where the effort was going.…
Daniel Lazare outlines how Obama got in bed with the devil.

Daniel Lazare catalogues how this is now spinning out of control.

Consortium News
The Collision Course in Syria
Daniel Lazare

See also
The “War on Terror” – now more than 14 years long – has trapped the U.S. and other nations in the “dark side” of human behavior, a dilemma that is both moral and practical because the continued use of brutal methods has only made the crisis worse, as Nicolas J S Davies explains.
In the Dark on the ‘Dark Side’
Nicolas J S Davies

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Victor W. Hwang — This Diagram Explains Why Good Ideas Fail and Why Certain Businesses Can Thrive

This Diagram Explains Why Good Ideas Fail and Why Certain Businesses Can Thrive
Victor W. Hwang | CEO & Co-Founder of Liquidity, a company that designs technologically advanced products to make water safe to drink instantly, anywhere, anytime

Don Quijones — The Carlyle Connection

Remember Carlyle?
The Bush family, the Saudi Royal family, Osama Bin Laden’s family, Donald Rumsfeld’s inner circle, former British premier John Major – these are just some of the high profile figures who have played a direct role in the rise of one of the most powerful, influential and secretive firms in Washington.
That company is called The Carlyle Group. And in the wake of the events of September 11th and the proliferation of war throughout the Middle East, its power and influence have grown significantly stronger.
The company operates within the so-called iron-triangle of industry, government and the military. Its list of former and current advisers and associates includes a vast array of some of the most powerful men — almost always men — in America and around the world. As Naomi Wolf writes, Carlyle is one of a select group of private investor clubs whose raison d’etre is to foment war wherever it’s most profitable:
We have to stop thinking that many events are driven by nation-states and national ideologies. That time is over. A small group of investors (see Aschcroft’s lobbying group, see Cheney’s oil company in the Golan Heights, see the Carlyle group, see Academi/Xi etc, see the Iron Dome contracts, see Delek, see American Noble Energy, the latter two wanting the Gaza 7 billion gas reserves) just plain profit from conflict.…
Raging Bull-Shit
The Carlyle Connection
Don Quijones

See also
When President Bush appointed former Secretary of State James Baker III as his envoy on Iraq’s debt on December 5, 2003, he called Baker’s job “a noble mission.” At the time, there was widespread concern about whether Baker’s extensive business dealings in the Middle East would compromise that mission, which is to meet with heads of state and persuade them to forgive the debts owed to them by Iraq. Of particular concern was his relationship with merchant bank and defense contractor the Carlyle Group, where Baker is senior counselor and an equity partner with an estimated $180 million stake. 
Until now, there has been no concrete evidence that Baker’s loyalties are split, or that his power as Special Presidential Envoy–an unpaid position–has been used to benefit any of his corporate clients or employers. But according to documents obtained by The Nation, that is precisely what has happened. Carlyle has sought to secure an extraordinary $1 billion investment from the Kuwaiti government, with Baker’s influence as debt envoy being used as a crucial lever.

The secret deal involves a complex transaction to transfer ownership of as much as $57 billion in unpaid Iraqi debts. The debts, now owed to the government of Kuwait, would be assigned to a foundation created and controlled by a consortium in which the key players are the Carlyle Group, the Albright Group (headed by another former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright) and several other well-connected firms. Under the deal, the government of Kuwait would also give the consortium $2 billion up front to invest in a private equity fund devised by the consortium, with half of it going to Carlyle.
Until now, there has been no concrete evidence that Baker’s loyalties are split, or that his power as Special Presidential Envoy–an unpaid position–has been used to benefit any of his corporate clients or employers. But according to documents obtained by The Nation, that is precisely what has happened. Carlyle has sought to secure an extraordinary $1 billion investment from the Kuwaiti government, with Baker’s influence as debt envoy being used as a crucial lever.

The secret deal involves a complex transaction to transfer ownership of as much as $57 billion in unpaid Iraqi debts. The debts, now owed to the government of Kuwait, would be assigned to a foundation created and controlled by a consortium in which the key players are the Carlyle Group, the Albright Group (headed by another former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright) and several other well-connected firms. Under the deal, the government of Kuwait would also give the consortium $2 billion up front to invest in a private equity fund devised by the consortium, with half of it going to Carlyle.…

(Click here to read documents detailing James Baker's conflict of interest.)
The Nation (12 Oct 2004)
James Baker’s Double Life
Naomi Klein
The Carlyle Group achieved national attention in the early days of the Iraq occupation, especially after Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" exposed the firm's umbilical ties to the Bush family and the House of Saud. For the uninitiated, Carlyle is a privately-owned equity firm organized and run by former members of the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations.
Currently, Carlyle manages more than $44 billion in 42 different investment funds, which is an interesting fact in and of itself: Carlyle could lay claim to only a meager $12 billion in funds in December of 2001. Thanks to their ownership of United Defense Industries, a major military contractor that sells a whole galaxy of weapons systems to the Pentagon, Carlyle's profits skyrocketed after the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Some notable present and former employees of Carlyle include former president George H.W. Bush, who resigned in 2003; James Baker III, Bush Sr.'s secretary of state and king fixer; and George W. Bush, who served on Carlyle's board of directors until his run for the Texas governorship. One notable former client of Carlyle was the Saudi BinLaden Group, which sold its investment back to the firm a month after the September 11 attacks. Until the October 2001 sellout, Osama bin Laden himself had a financial interest in the same firm that employed the two presidents Bush.
How has Carlyle managed to acquire the White House? The newest edition of Newsweek begins to tell the tale in a story titled "The Rescue Squad": "Bush Senior has been relegated to watching all those political talk shows his son refuses to watch, wincing each time he hears his son's name being mocked or criticized. George H.W. Bush has been, in effect, sidelined by nepotism. He has repeatedly told close friends that he does not believe it is appropriate or wise to second-guess his son, or even offer advice beyond loving support. This time, however, was different. A source who declined to be identified discussing presidential confidences told NEWSWEEK that Bush 41 left 'fingerprints' on the Rumsfeld-Gates decision, though the father's exact role remains shrouded in speculation."
There is much more to this than Big George simply trying to shove Little George in a different direction, because Big George never travels alone. All of a sudden, two of the elder's main men - James Baker III and Robert Gates - are back in the saddle.…
The Carlyle White House (14 November 2006)
William Rivers Pitt

Zero Hedge — How Turkey Exports ISIS Oil To The World: The Scientific Evidence

As part of our continuing effort to track and document the ISIS oil trade, we present the following excerpts from a study by George Kiourktsoglou, Visiting Lecturer, University of Greenwich, London and Dr Alec D Coutroubis, Principal Lecturer, University of Greenwich, London. The paper, entitled "ISIS Gateway To Global Crude Oil Markets," looks at tanker charter rates from the port of Ceyhan in an effort to determine if Islamic State crude is being shipped from Southeast Turkey.

* * *
From "ISIS Gateway To Global Crude Oil Markets"

Friday, November 27, 2015

Paul Robinson — Double Standards

Another paradox of liberalism.

When do so-called liberals become illiberal and hypocritical in their purported defense of liberalism.

This cuts to the heart of the matter, showing how the liberal West is treading on dangerous ground based on illiberal assumptions and specious argumentation about liberalism and its scope.

Double Standards (short)
Paul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa

Compare the editorial page of the Washington Post (under the editorship of neocon Fred Hiatt).

Russian provocations led to the downing of its fighter jet by Turkey

See also Anne Applebaum, How Turkey confounded Putin’s favorite narratives, Washington Post Op Ed.

When nuclear powers see the world oppositely, each viewing itself as occupying the moral high ground, it's only a matter of time until.…

See also

What Paul Robinson is talking about.

Àngel Ferrero interviews Jean Bricmont, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the Université catholique de Louvain

John Helmer — Assessment By President Vladimir Putin Of The Personal Lack Of Veracity Of Presidents Barack Obama And Recep Tayyip Erdogan

In Putin's own words.

Dances with Bears
Assessment By President Vladimir Putin Of The Personal Lack Of Veracity Of Presidents Barack Obama And Recep Tayyip Erdogan
John Helmer

Pepe Escobar — Why Turkey Stabbed Russia in the Back

The strategic importance of these Turkmen lands cannot be emphasized enough. It’s exactly in this area, reaching as much as 35 km inland, that Ankara wants to install its so-called “safe zone,” which will be in fact a no-fly zone, in Syrian territory, ostensibly to house Syrian refugees, and with everything paid by the EU, which has already unblocked 3 billion euros, starting Jan. 1, via the European Commission (EC).
The now insurmountable obstacle for Turkey to get its no-fly zone is, predictably, Russia….
The bottom line is that Turkey and Russia simply cannot be part of the same coalition fighting the Islamic State group because their objectives are diametrically opposed.…

John Joseph Wallis — Structure and change in economic history: The ideas of Douglass North

Douglass North passed away at age 95.
Douglass C. North was among the most important and influential economic historians and economists of the late 20th century. This column highlights four of his major contributions: his pioneering work in quantitative economic history, or ‘cliometrics’; his similarly fundamental work using neoclassical economics to understand institutions; his critique of theory for explaining long-term economic and institutional change; and the distinction he drew between institutions and organisations.
Structure and change in economic history: The ideas of Douglass North
John Joseph Wallis | Professor of Economics, University of Maryland
Douglass North, economic historian and co-recipient of the 1993 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, passed away this week. This column pays tribute to one of the great social scientific pioneers of the modern era – focusing on one particular example of how North drew on historical, empirical and theoretical evidence to understand the interactions between institutions and economic change.
Douglass North, an economist’s historian
Kevin Bryan
Assistant Professor of Strategic Management, University of Toronto Rotman School of Management

Economy Watch — New Argentinian President Plans to Make Sweeping Changes

Getting to know President-elect Mauricio Macri

Economy Watch
New Argentinian President Plans to Make Sweeping Changes

Brad DeLong — Must-Read: So should central bankers be given more tools--conduct monetary/fiscal policy via "social credit"

Must-Read: So should central bankers be given more tools--conduct monetary/fiscal policy via "social credit" assignment of seigniorage to individuals and monopolize financial regulation? Or should central bankers focus on price stability and only price stability? I would say central bankers should be (a) more modest, but also (b) commit not to price stability but to making Say's Law true in practice...
Refet S. Gürkaynak and Troy Davig: Central Bankers as Policymakers of Last Resort:
"Making Say's law true in practice" amounts to the fiscal authority ensuring that sufficient net financial saving without unsustainable domestic borrowing is always available in order to prevent build up of unplanned inventory resulting in reduction in quantity of production and consequent layoff of workers.

The question here whether that should be the exclusively the role of fiscal authority as presently constituted in liberal democracies, that is, the elected representatives of the people, or at least be partially delegated to the monetary authority.

See the Wikipedia article on social credit as a means for doing so proposed originally by C. H. Douglas, an engineer rather than an economist, based on accountancy (stocks and flows).

I think that in the case where the monetary authority as the dual mandate of maintaining price stability and full employment a good case can be made for giving the monetary authority limited fiscal powers.

Whether it is a wise thing to do is another matter, since it appears to some to infringe upon democracy and to strengthen technocracy in an environment in which technocracy is already ascendant and democracy in decline.

Economy Watch — WTO Rules against US Dolphin Saving Measures as a Barrier to Global Trade

A seemingly small thing like this can have wide-reaching social and political repercussions. There are a lot of people in the US that going to be upset about this ruling. It's another chink in the armor of neoliberalism.

Economy Watch
WTO Rules against US Dolphin Saving Measures as a Barrier to Global Trade

Noah Smith — A big sweeping theory of modern history

I like big sweeping theories although I would not say they are "theories" in the scientific sense since as Noah observes they are not testable.

Rather these kinds of explanation are frameworks on which to hang explanation of past events in terms of patterns that may reflect some consistency in human behavior, even through contingency plays a greater role in history than determinism.

If this is your thing, it's worth a read even through Noah is an amateur in this field. But he is highly intelligent, well-informed and understands modeling, so his contribution is worth considering.

It's just an outline that would need to be worked out, but there is a solid basis for it in political economy as a major historical factor. It's an interesting excursion into linking historical cycles with economic cycles.

It's also a good sign that at least some pretty mainstream economists are looking out the window and thinking out of the box. I hope it gets some notice and gets others thinking about such matters.

AFP — Turkish journalists charged over claim that secret services armed Syrian rebels

"Our guys" in Turkey. Looks like they are following the example of the US.
A court in Istanbul has charged two journalists from the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper with spying after they alleged Turkey’s secret services had sent arms to Islamist rebels in Syria.
Can Dundar, the editor-in-chief, and Erdem Gul, the paper’s Ankara bureau chief, are accused of spying and “divulging state secrets”, Turkish media reported. Both men were placed in pre-trial detention.
According to Cumhuriyet, Turkish security forces in January 2014 intercepted a convoy of trucks near the Syrian border and discovered boxes of what the daily described as weapons and ammunition to be sent to rebels fighting against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
It linked the seized trucks to the Turkish national intelligence organisation (MIT).The revelations, published in May, caused a political storm in Turkey, and enraged president Recep Tayyip Erdogan who vowed Dundar would pay a “heavy price”.He personally filed a criminal complaint against Dundar, 54, demanding he serve multiple life sentences.
Turkey has vehemently denied aiding Islamist rebels in Syria, such as the Islamic State group, although it wants to see Assad toppled....
The Cumhuriyet daily was awarded the media watchdog’s 2015 Press Freedom Prize just last week, with Dundar travelling to Strasbourg to receive the award.
“If these two journalists are imprisoned, it will be additional evidence that the Turkish authorities are ready to use methods worthy of a bygone age in order to suppress independent journalism in Turkey,” said RSF secretary general Christophe Deloire in a statement.
Magazine editors accused of coup plot and Gülenists detained in wake of Justice and Development party’s resounding electoral victory
Turkey: journalists and political rivals arrested as Erdoğan crackdown widens (Nov 3)
Kareem Shaheen

Guess what? Deficit is growing again. What will the "deficit is too small" crowd say now?

It's not a lot, but it's the first time in five years. The deficit is growing again. For the fiscal year thus far the deficit is $195 billion. That compares with $175 billion at the same time last year.

While a $20 billion expansion is not a lot, it's the trend that counts. This is the first time in five years that the deficit has been expanding and not shrinking.

Furthermore, when the Fed raises rates, which is likely at its next meeting on December 15-16, that will result in further deficit expansion. Remember that under Ronald Reagan the deficit rose to nearly 6.0% of GDP (the largest in post WWII history until 2009-2010) and that was due primarily to interest payments. Interest was the single largest line item payment of the government. It also boosted the economy, tremendously. (The Reagan "boom.")

We have been absolutely correct here at MNE all along. We have never been forecasting recession as others have. We have been looking at top line government spending all along, not the deficit and now we (I) am saying that the deficit is growing again.

Will the others ever admit they are wrong?

QE does not make the euro harder to get, either. "It's about price, not quantity." Exporters are price setters.

Andrew Korybko — Why’s The US Hanging Turkey Out To Dry?

Korybko provides the analysis that provokes the aha moment.

Brilliant move on the part of the US. As Machiavellian as one can get.
It can safely be assumed that the US influenced Turkey into shooting down the Russian jet over Syrian airspace, predicting quite accurately that this would immediately lead to the deterioration of ties between the two states. An elementary forecast of the specific counter-measures that Russia may take stipulates that these will likely relate to the diplomatic, economic, and energy sectors, which is just what the US wants. Because of Turkey’s aggression against Russia, the strategic partnership between the two is now broken (although not necessarily irreversibly), and Ankara has become the fourth and perhaps most geopolitically significant member of the anti-Russian Intermarum coalition. Furthermore, Turkish Stream looks to be indefinitely put on hold, thus delaying Russia’s game-changing pivot to the Balkans. While the ‘unintended’ consequence of the crisis has been Russia’s foreseeable and absolutely legitimate decision to deploy the S-400 SAM system to Syria, this in a way also plays to the manipulated Turkish-Russian rivalry that the US wanted to produce in order to solidify the completion of the Intermarum project and simultaneously counter Russia’s growing influence in the Mideast.
The reaction that no one could have predicted, however, is the US purposely leaking comments to Reuters that support the Russian version of events, namely, that the anti-terrorist jet was shot down while flying over Syrian airspace. This completely conflicts with what the US and NATO have said in public, but it shows that the US has had enough time to game out the plane-shooting scenario well in advance, and that it’s playing a sinister divide-and-conquer game against Turkey and Russia. Put in the position where its decision makers are scrambling for responses to the unprecedented aggression against them, Russia can now more easily be led into supporting the Kurdish struggle for sovereignty (whether formally independent or de-facto so) in Turkey, which coincides with one of the US’ premier geopolitical projects.
From an American perspective, a divided Turkey is doubly useful for its grand strategic designs, as the large pro-NATO Turkish military would remain mostly intact, while the US could gain a major base for force projection (both hard and soft) right in between some of the most important states in the region. It can’t, however, go fully forward with this project unless it has the support of the diplomatic leader of the multipolar world, Russia, otherwise Kurdistan will be just as illegitimate as Kosovo is and might not even come to geopolitical fruition if Moscow and Tehran work to stop it.
Seen from the Russian standpoint, the US’ intimations actually seen quite attractive. An increase of Russian support to anti-ISIL Kurdish fighters would be a plausibly deniable but strategically obvious way to funnel weapons and equipment to anti-Turkish PKK insurgents. Weakening Turkey from within would be a strong asymmetrical response to a country that has lately been a major thorn in Moscow’s side, and it might create the conditions either for a military coup against Erdogan, a divide between him and Davutoglu (which could be used to Russia’s diplomatic advantage so long as the constitution remains unchanged and Davutoglu legally remains more powerful than Erdogan), or a weakening of Erdogan and a tempering of his anti-Russian and anti-Syrian positions....
The next step for the US is to contrive some incident to similarly break the growing strategic relationship of Russia with Iran China.

But nothing is for sure or forever, and Korybko points out that Russia could turn this to advantage in creating a multipolar world.

Oriental Review
Why’s The US Hanging Turkey Out To Dry?
Andrew Korybko

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Dan Sanchez — They Sow The Cyclone - We Reap The Blowback

How the US created jihadism beginning over forty years ago under the aegis of Henry Kissinger and then Zbigniew Brzezinski down to the present. A sordid tale of intrigue, deceit, and mayhem. You can't make this stuff up.

They Sow The Cyclone - We Reap The Blowback
Dan Sanchez
Also published at and

Erdogan — We’ll continue shooting down planes violating our airspace

War of words heating up. This is far from over. Looks like that ISIS oil thing hit a nerve.

Turkey will open fire on foreign planes violating Turkish airspace in the future, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned amid a diplomatic crisis caused by the downing of a Russian warplane by the Turkish Air Force.

“If another violation of our aerial border happens, we can respond in the same way,” he said. “The plane was shot down within the rules of engagement announced earlier.”
Did Erdogan consult with Obama with Obama telling him to go for it?

Erdogan: We’ll continue shooting down planes violating our airspace

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses Moscow of slander after suggesting Ankara buys oil from Isil....
Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan exchanged accusations of treachery and slander on Thursday, as the diplomatic fall out of Turkey shooting down a Russian warplane continued to mount.
The Telegraph
Turkey accuses Russia of slander as Moscow has 39 businessmen arrested in wake of downed plane
and Roland Oliphant

Quite a bit in this article.
Political analyst and Israeli publicist Avigdor Eskin spoke to Sputnik about the incident.
“Turkey today is the only country which supports ISIL openly and if someone questions what I just said let them see what is happening with ISIS. It all goes through Turkey. They sell their oil through Turkey and if Turkey wanted it to stop they would have stopped it. There are volunteers that came to fight for ISIL from different parts of the world. How did they end up in Syria? They all landed in Turkey and went to Syria. Again Turkey could have stopped it.”
Regarding the Russian Su-24 bomber, “The issue is not that maybe the Russian plane went through the Turkish territory for three seconds or so, that is not the issue as first of all we don’t know that they violated by mistake. There was a plan to shoot down Russian plane to show who is in charge and it really reveals some very ill Turkish desires to rebuild their empire. They perceive these territories as their own territories.”
“This is what they want from this war and from Assad’s regime. They want to take over some of these territories. Turkey needs to be stopped and I am sure it will be stopped because other NATO countries are not interested in any confrontation with Russia.”
Talking about the current Turkish government, Eskin said that the problem with Erdogan and his government is that they derive from the Muslim Brotherhood and their ideological core is terrorism and extremism. This organization is outlawed in Russia and in many other countries, even in Egypt.
“When we deal with this ideology we cannot expect anything but more trouble. However, there are some very wise people in Turkey who see the situation differently than their president,” Eskin said.
Somewhat ironically, Turkey is in a similar position to Russia with respect to ethnic Turks and Russians abroad. Just as Russia is faced with Russians in eastern Ukraine, so too is Turkey with Turks in northern Syria. The "Turkmen" of which Erdogan speaks are not from Turkistan but ethnic Turks living in across the border in Syria. Crimean Tatars also fall into this category.

Just as Russia is accused of recidivism and irredentism in attempting to revive is old empire through cunning and violence, so too is Erdogan accused of neo-Ottomanism.

History and geography are important.

Christopher Black — NATO Attack On Russian Air Forces: Reasons and Consequences

Another view putting the US and NATO at the center, which I think is entirely credible.  Black, an international criminal lawyer, connects the dots.

Pertinent quote by neocon John Bolton, too. Bolton sets forth the necon agenda, the planning of which goes back to the 1990's. Black comments:
So there we have it, the plan by Washington and its dependencies to continue their aggression against Syria and Iraq in order to create a new state serving its interests and wrecking the strategic interests of Russia and Iran. This is a statement of intent to carry out a war of aggression against sovereign states, members of the United Nations, in complete defiance of and contempt for the United Nations Charter, and all international law and humanity. It matters not to them how many innocents are slaughtered in the process. They know no morality, have no conscience.
This incident looks to be another iteration of that plan to destroy the Shi'ite crescent in order to make Israel the dominant country in the Middle East and to put the Sunni oil oligarchs in the pocket of the West.

And that is just one of the moves in the Great Game of geopolitics and geostrategy that has been laid out and which I have been posting on for some time. The ultimate goal is to partition Iran, Russia and China in order to cement permanent US global dominance, the neoconservative goal set forth in the Wolfowitz Doctrine. This is no secret but declared US policy. Because American exceptionalism.

NATO Attack On Russian Air Forces: Reasons and Consequences
Christopher Black, international criminal lawyer based in Toronto

ZH also connects the dots leading to Obama.

Zero Hedge
Russia Releases Video Of S-400 SAM Deployment In Syria, As Putin Issues Warning To Obama
Tyler Durden

Alex MacDonald — Who are the 70,000 fighters the UK will be backing in Syria?

UK Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday delivered a speech to the House of Commons in which he set out future plans for UK military intervention in Syria.
In response to criticism that airstrikes in Syria would not be enough to ensure the defeat of Islamic State, the Prime Minister stated that there were 70,000 Syrian opposition fighters “who do not belong to extremist groups" able to fight against IS and work with the US-led coalition forces.
In a statement accompanying the speech - which came in response to a broadly critical report by the Foreign Affairs Committee - Cameron stated that allies in Syria included the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army.
He also referred to “moderate armed groups in northern Syria” who had managed to defend “territory north of Aleppo” from IS.
The question of supporting “moderate” groups in Syria has, however, proved controversial in the past, as a large number of groups in Syria opposed to both the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and IS have been identified as Islamist or Salafist Jihadist....
Michael Stephens, Research Fellow for Middle East Studies at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), told Middle East Eye that he had received information from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that the 70,000 number cited by David Cameron did not include some 50,000 troops of the YPG.

Though the Kurdish YPG is seen as "moderate" and have been one of the most effective ground forces against IS, their desire to primarily liberate land seen as part of a future Kurdish state has meant their scope has been limited, with Cameron today warning that "only moderate Sunni Arabs can retake traditionally Sunni Arab areas such as Raqqa".

Stephens added that the only information given to him was that the 70,000 number included groups that fought both Assad and IS. No specific groups were mentioned. 
“It's unclear as to the composition of the groups and this needs to be clarified,” Stephens said....

Putin — US knew of flight path of Russian jet downed by Turkey

President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia had given the United States the flight path of the military jet before it was downed by Turkey on the Syrian border. 
"The American side, which leads the coalition that Turkey belongs to, knew about the location and time of our planes' flights, and we were hit exactly there and at that time," Putin said at a joint press conference with French counterpart Francois Hollande in the Kremlin.
The US has not yet responded to Putin's claims....
Putin has also accused Turkey of buying oil from the Islamic State (IS) group, whose financing heavily relies on the sale of energy resources.

Putin said there was "no doubt" that oil from "terrorist-controlled" territory in Syria was making its way across the border into Turkey.

"We see from the sky where these vehicles [carrying oil] are going," Putin said. "They are going to Turkey day and night."
"These barrels are not only carrying oil but also the blood of our citizens because with this money terrorists buy weapons and ammunition and then organise bloody attacks," he added....
On stupid or evil:
Putin on Thursday dismissed Turkey's claim as “rubbish” that it would not have shot down the jet if it had known it was Russian.
"They [our planes] have identification signs and these are well visible," Putin said. "Instead of [...] ensuring this never happens again, we are hearing unintelligible explanations and statements that there is nothing to apologise about."
Middle East Eye

Cameron Murray — Economic capital is like pornography - you know it when you see it

There are two parts to this blog post. First the important stuff, clarifying the weirdness of capital and the confusion of applying economic concepts in practice. Second is a rant about where the weirdness and confusion comes from, and I point the finger at the intellectual laziness of the economics profession.
A new twist on the Cambridge capital controversy — what is K?

Fresh Economic thinking
Economic capital is like pornography - you know it when you see it
Cameron Murray

Moon of Alabama — Russia "Violated" Turkish Airspace Because Turkey "Moved" Its Border

This is an October 15 post but it is relevant now, since it may clarify the conflicting claims of violation Turkish air space by the Russian SU-24 that was shot down by Turkey.

Apparently Turkey unilaterally redrew its border with Syria arbitrarily and without any legal right to do so, and the Syrian government rejects the attempted grab of Syrian territory.
... the real reason why the U.S. military official and Turkey claim the above "violations" is because Turkey unilaterally "moved" the Turkish-Syrian border five miles south:Turkey has maintained a buffer zone five miles inside Syria since June 2012, when a Syrian air defense missile shot down a Turkish fighter plane that had strayed into Syrian airspace. Under revised rules of engagement put in effect then, the Turkish air force would evaluate any target coming within five miles of the Turkish border as an enemy and act accordingly.
If Syrian rules of engagement would "move" its northern border up to the Black Sea would any plane in eastern Turkey be in violation of Syrian air space? No one would accept such nonsense and that is why no one should accept the U.S.-Turkish bullshit here. Russian planes should not respect the "new" Turkish defined border but only the legitimate one.
It would also be no good reason to start a NATO-Russia war just because such a plane might at times slightly intrude on the Turkish side due to an emergency or other accidental circumstances. Do we have to mention that the U.S., France, Britain and Jordan regularly violate Syrian airspace for their pretended ISIS bombing? That Turkey is bombing the PKK in north Iraq without the permission of the Iraqi government? What about Israel's regular air space violations over Lebanon?
Interestingly, moving the border is exactly what the US criticizing China for in the South China Sea.

This would just be ridiculous if it weren't risking escalation leading to a nuclear exchange that no one wants.

Federico Pieraccini — Russian FM Wants to Know If US Greenlighted Turkish Ambush of Su-24 Warplane

Sergei Lavrov goes there and asks what many are thinking.

Foreign ministers don't say things like this off the cuff. They only say such things when they want to put it on the record.

Russia Insider
Russian FM Wants to Know If US Greenlighted Turkish Ambush of Su-24 Warplane
Federico Pieraccini

Alexander Mercouris — Here Is Why Erdogan's Ambush of Russian Jet Was a Massive Blunder

In shooting down the Russian SU24 Turkey’s President Erdogan has blundered badly.
He has caused the Russians to reinforce in Syria and is feeding Western doubts about him.
He has exposed himself to his Western allies as a dangerous and unpredictable ally.
Assumes the incident was not previously cleared with Washington.

Russia Insider
Here Is Why Erdogan's Ambush of Russian Jet Was a Massive Blunder
Alexander Mercouris

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard — Portugal's anti-austerity Left take power in watershed moment for the euro

The president threatened to sack the new government if it challenges the EU's Fiscal Compact, deemed a formula for economic depression by Keynesians
Portugal at the crossroads.

The Telegraph
Portugal's anti-austerity Left take power in watershed moment for the euro
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

RT — Erdogan accuses Assad of financing ISIS

Laugh of the day. Not snark.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refuted accusations against Ankara about buying oil from the terrorists of the organization "Islamic state". The Turkish leader said that, in his opinion, deals with ISIS occur with the Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

"Those who accuse us in buying oil from Islamic State, let them prove it. If you are looking for a source of funding for ISIS, then the first place to look is in the direction of the Assad regime and those who support it", — quotes RIA Novosti from words of Erdogan.
It's so funny RT doesn't even comment on it.

BTW, this has been the US position, too.

Fort Russ
Erdogan accuses Assad of financing ISIS
RT (original in Russian)
Translated by Ollie Richardson

Elisa Pinna — Head of Syrian TV [Diana Jabbour] calls for resumption of diplomatic relations with Italy, presents "real Syrian women, secular and free"

Whatever else one wants to say, women are free in non-sectarian secular Islamic states like Saddam's Iraq and Assad's Syria, unlike sectarian Islamic states like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Western allies.

Inquiring liberal minds would like to know why the West lead the the US as the "bastion of freedom" is trying to end the freedom of these women? This is craziness.

Jabbour for ten years directed Syria's film and television system and does not hesitate to admit that the government in Damascus has unfortunately been losing the "media war:"

"There was a total boycott of Syrian media. Suffice it to say that the Syrian television channel has been removed from the European and Arab satellite platforms. " In the meantime," she adds, "the Western media have spread propaganda -- that is driven and also subsidized by some fundamentalist countries in the region -- about what was happening in Syria" and "voices from outside of the choir are rare."

"It is not credible," she observes, "that Assad is the enemy of the whole world, while the West relies on extremist regimes, Wahhabis, where people get decapitated, just like in the Caliphate."

"It is a paradox" - she said - "that these regimes are invited to debate democracy in Syria."

"I ask Western journalists to come to our country, to look with their own eyes, and then to write what they want. It's not fair that they base their information on sites that are not even in Syria and that spread false propaganda," she says. .

Inside Syria, the national television reaches the areas controlled by jihadis, but people are forbidden see it, on pain of death. "Ten days ago in Raqqa, a woman was stoned to death because they accused her of connecting to the Internet," says Diana Jabbour. 
"The militiamen of Isis," she comments, "are not not actually fighting against a certain type of regime, but against a culture and that is why, in addition to destroying archaeological sites and our memory, they often attack television crews." "This is what we try to counter-act in continuing in our production." The war has cut their activity in half, and "from the 60 TV shows of 2010, we have moved now to thirty." "But the important thing is to continue to film, to make culture."
One of the most popular series is called "Haraer", an Islamic term widely used by ISIS to define the role of women in society. "Here, in this series, we represent the real Syrian women, those who fought for national independence against the Turks and the French, the women who founded schools and newspapers. Women secular and free."…
What she wants for the future.
"And first the jihadists' supply of money and weapons from the outside has to stop. As for Assad, I do not know what he has in mind to do, whether to run again or not. But as a Syrian, I don't not want anyone else to decide this for me. There must be an international effort to get to free elections, where the Syrians themselves could elect their representatives. "
Fort Russ
Head of Syrian TV [Diana Jabbour] calls for resumption of diplomatic relations with Italy, presents "real Syrian women, secular and free"
Elisa Pinna
In ANSA-med November 23, 2016
Translated from Italian by Tom Winter, November 26, 2015

MoD Statement — "Militants were also searching for the Russian Pilot"


Fort Russ
MoD Statement: "Militants were also searching for the Russian Pilot"
Russian Ministry of Defense Facebook page
Posted by Ollie Richardson

Russia destroys Turkish truck convoy headed for Syrian militants -- Erdogan silent
Cassad News
Translated from Russian by Tom Winter
With additional photos supplied by Fort Russ


50 US special forces join Kurds fighting ISIS.

The US and Russia are allied with the Kurds in northern Syria. The Erdogan regime has been fighting them rather than ISIS.

Units of the U.S. army entered Syria from Turkey
Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ

RT — Breaking international law in Syria

The war drums are getting louder in the aftermath of ISIS attacks in Paris, as Western countries gear up to launch further airstrikes in Syria. But obscured in the fine print of countless resolutions and media headlines is this: the West has no legal basis for military intervention. Their strikes are illegal.
“It is always preferable in these circumstances to have the full backing of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) but I have to say what matters most of all is that any actions we would take would… be legal,” explained UK Prime Minister David Cameron to the House of Commons last Wednesday.
Legal? No, there’s not a scrap of evidence that UK airstrikes would be lawful in their current incarnation.
Then just two days later, on Friday, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2249, aimed at rallying the world behind the fairly obvious notion that ISIS is an “unprecedented threat to international peace and security.”
"It's a call to action to member states that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures against (ISIS) and other terrorist groups," British UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters.
The phrase “all necessary measures” was broadly interpreted – if not explicitly sanctioning the “use of force” in Syria, then as a wink to it.
Let’s examine the pertinent language of UNSCR 2249:
The resolution “calls upon Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures, in compliance with international law, in particular with the United Nations Charter…on the territory under the control of ISIL also known as Da’esh, in Syria and Iraq.”
Note that the resolution demands “compliance with international law, in particular with the UN Charter.” This is probably the most significant explainer to the “all necessary measures” phrase. Use of force is one of the most difficult things for the UNSC to sanction – it is a last resort measure, and a rare one. The lack of Chapter 7 language in the resolution pretty much means that ‘use of force’ is not on the menu unless states have other means to wrangle “compliance with international law.”….
There are a lot of laws that seek to govern and prevent wars, but the Western nations looking to launch airstrikes in Syria have made things easy for us – they have cited the law that they believe justifies their military intervention: specifically, Article 51 of the UN Charter. It reads, in part:
“Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”
So doesn’t France, for instance, enjoy the inherent right to bomb ISIS targets in Syria as an act of self-defense - in order to prevent further attacks? 
And don’t members of the US-led coalition, who cite the “collective self-defense” of Iraq (the Iraqi government has formally made this request), have the right to prevent further ISIS attacks from Syrian territory into Iraqi areas?
Well, no. Article 51, as conceived in the UN Charter, refers to attacks between territorial states, not with non-state actors like ISIS or Al-Qaeda. Syria, after all, did not attack France or Iraq – or Turkey, Australia, Jordan or Saudi Arabia.
And here’s where it gets interesting.
Western leaders are employing two distinct strategies to obfuscate the lack of legal justification for intervention in Syria. The first is the use of propaganda to build narratives about Syria that support their legal argumentation. The second is a shrewd effort to cite legal “theory” as a means to ‘stretch’ existing law into a shape that supports their objectives.…
If there was any lingering doubt about the illegality of coalition activities in Syria, the Syrian government put these to rest in September, in two letters to the UNSC that denounced foreign airstrikes as unlawful:
“If any State invokes the excuse of counter-terrorism in order to be present on Syrian territory without the consent of the Syrian Government whether on the country’s land or in its airspace or territorial waters, its action shall be considered a violation of Syrian sovereignty.”
Yet still, upon the adoption of UNSC Resolution 2249 last Friday, US Deputy Representative to the United Nations Michele Sison insisted that “in accordance with the UN Charter and its recognition of the inherent right of individual and collective self-defense,” the US would use “necessary and proportionate military action” in Syria.
The website for the European Journal of International Law (EJIL) promptly pointed out the obvious:
“The resolution is worded so as to suggest there is Security Council support for the use of force against IS. However, though the resolution, and the unanimity with which it was adopted, might confer a degree of legitimacy on actions against IS, the resolution does not actually authorize any actions against IS, nor does it provide a legal basis for the use of force against IS either in Syria or in Iraq.”
These are some high points that are not intended as a summary because the details that have been omitted are important. Read the whole piece. It contains a lot of information that debunks Western propaganda to justify breaking international law — which one of Vladimir Putin's chief indictments of the West.
If the ‘international community’ wants to return ‘peace and stability’ to the Syrian state, it seems prudent to point out that its very first course of action should be to stop breaking international law in Syria.

Breaking international law in Syria
Sharmine Narwani | a commentator and analyst of Middle East geopolitics, and former senior associate at St. Antony's College, Oxford University

Sara Jerde — Rubio: 'God's Rules' Win Over Supreme Court Decisions

Oops. Rubio apparently doesn't realize that he is making an argument for the religious law of other faiths in the United States — like sharia for Muslims, which Islamic fundamentalists also claim on the same grounds.

Or does Rubio believe that Christianity is the state religion of the United States.

Rubio: 'God's Rules' Win Over Supreme Court Decisions
Sara Jerde