Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Xinhua — Former CIA director says U.S. should establish enclaves inside Syria

So much for the US respecting national sovereignty.

Xinhua News
Former CIA director says U.S. should establish enclaves inside Syria


John said...

So the same man who advocates backing Al Qaeda against ISIS also wants to establish jihadi colonies. The political elite should try thinking things through before they open their mouths. Or have they just run out of ideas that they'll float any madcap idea.

It tells you how desperate, even frantic, Washington is that a once highly respected figure like Petraeus is out floating such loony tunes policies.

Matt Franko said...

He also issued an apology... he is trying to become relevant/respected again...


John said...

He apologised for pillow talk with the wrong woman! He probably divulged much more sensitive information to his wife. So what?

He should apologise for his latest "respectable" policies: backing Al Qaeda and creating jihadi fortresses inside Syria.

I much preferred him when he was spending his time trying to get some. The more philanderers in positions of power, the better. Keep the lechers away from making disastrous policy making by keeping them busy in the bedroom. As I've said before, it's high time Larry Flynt and Hugh Hefner came to the aid of their country and supply Washington with all the bunnies needed to bring Washington to a grinding halt. Who needs rightwing government shutdowns, when a more erotic shutdown is available? Imagine what that lunatic Kennedy would have achieved had he not been so distracted by all the bimbos on offer.

The great Yogi Berra, who sadly passed away yesterday, inadvertently came up with what should be Washington's epitaph: "We made too many wrong mistakes." Before anyone gets smart, if you deconstruct the Berra-ism it should mean the opposite. Hence falling into Berra's cleverly crafted trap!

And David Petraeus is just another madman rolling off the military-congressional assembly line who makes too many wrong mistakes.

Ralph Musgrave said...

Enclaves where “internally displaced persons could find refuge” is OK by me. Enclaves where “additional forces could be trained” is not. Nor is “the Syrian opposition can be organised”.

Possibly No.1 is not possible without a bit of No.3.??? Mind, the "enclaves" in Jordan are not proving a rich source of "Syrian opposition".

Ryan Harris said...

What does Obama do:
North Korea makes bombastic threats: Obama tells S. Korea, we support you!
China takes control of South China Seas: Obama pulls out.
Libyan embassy falls: Obama pulls out.
Iraq government falls in half of territory: Obama pulls out. (Saudis ask for help and he sends in a hand full of airplanes)
Afghanistan: Obama pulls out.
... Find me a place where Obama has a confrontational military policy! (Real military not fantasy strategy games like Tom posts, of shadow deep state stuff but actual physical military units)

The only place he hasn't pulled out of is Ukraine, but that is because Merkel forced him to play for her EuroVision contest.
The man is the biggest pacifist the country has ever had in the oval office. It's the one thing that I like about B.O. and he should get credit for.

Tom Hickey said...

The only place he hasn't pulled out of is Ukraine

I would not say that Obama hasn't pulled out of Ukraine because he never went it, unlike Putin, who had no choice. The US doesn't want to actually confront Russia and the Europeans certainly don't either. It's clearly no win. Putin knows this but hasn't capitalized on it since he would rather have good relations with the Europe and the US than sour. But as he said, he could drive to the Dnieper in short order if he chose, and the NATO generals know it. It would not be worth risking losing major assets in Europe to tactical nukes, and certainly not worth starting WWIII over, which likely involve total war with an almost certain devastating outcome. Why? Because they realize that Russia's national security is involved and not theirs. It's simple game theory given the difference in stakes.

Since the Iraq debacle under Bush, discrediting wars of choice, the US military position has been no troops on the ground other than some special ops and limited presence of advisers too. The US population is in not mood for another military adventure that is going to result in loss of US blood and treasure with no substantial outcome.

The US is acting imperially in the interests of the American Empire rather than defensively as advertises, as it either fight them there or here. That's nonsense for the rubes. Obama and his team realize that, after the Bush team either forgot it, or thought that Iraq would be slam dunk and the Iraqis would greet their liberators with flowers as Wolfowitz and fellow neocons had supposed. That illusion has been painfully disabused, as the US was asked to leave. Most people forget that this was under W and he agreed to it, and attribute it falsely to Obama.

Empire is about controlling resources and denying them to adversaries, as well as nipping adversaries in the bud. The US conceives itself as strong enough to do this without much overt military action, with military action limited to technology rather than boots on the ground, instead using smart weapons like drones and robots for example.

But wars are only won by boots on the ground, as it was in Iraq I and II, and territory is only held by occupation. As Gen. Shinseki warned, successfully occupying Iraq would have required 500K troops. The US is not into that and is well advised not to be, the war hawks and neocons notwithstanding. They don't have sufficient power to override either cooler heads and the politics.

The US geostrategy is based on hybrid warfare involving economic pressure like access and sanctions, clandestine operations often conducted by NGOs with plausible deniability, and proxies, often very distasteful ones, creating the risk of blowback. But that risk is deemed acceptable if the stakes are high enough, which they often are.

There are a lot balls in the air in empire and many factions in government and the power elite that have to be harmonized or neutralized. Obama is not doing too bad a job of this, considering the hand he had been dealt. It is very difficult for US president to change longstanding policy and to deal with the deep state, which is deeply embedded in government and behind the scenes politically. The State Department is neocon nest, for example, and it has been in the forefront of hybrid warfare.

This also includes the military-industrial complex as a major player with a loud voice in politics through lobbying. It is also distributed pretty well across congressional districts, meaning it is economically essential.

All strategists know that the major challenge of empire is not getting overextended or engaging in conflict at the extreme periphery. What is important is protecting and projecting the interests of the homeland (interesting that the US should finally adopt that traditional term publicly) and keeping the core in line. The danger is adventurousness, which results from misaligned priorities.

The US as an empire has not done too badly under Obama.

lastgreek said...

Tom, would you say that there is a distinct Obama Doctrine?

I see this administration's foreign policy to be very similar to the Nixon Doctrine -- supplying arms and training to allies but not "boots on the ground."

Tom Hickey said...

would you say that there is a distinct Obama Doctrine?

Usually a "doctrine" is announced in terms of policy. In that sense there is no Obama doctrine as there was a Bush doctrine, for example. As a result Obama has been accused of being naïve or wishy-washy. Defenders say he would rather stay flexible and keep others guessing.

Tom Hickey said...

Syria is no longer a "Sovereign" country. Establish sphere's of influence just as the Iranians and Russians are.

The Syrians have invited the Iranians and Russians in that has been longstanding government policy. It's entirely consistent with national sovereignty and providing for national security with alliances.

The aiding rebels openly to the point of joining the conflict, or talking about establishing rebel enclaves in Syria is a violation of Syria's sovereignty and of UN rules.

Now if the US formally recognized the ISIS Caliphate or Al Qaeda in Syria as a sovereign state, then the issue would be mooted. But the US not going to do that, of course. There are no other credible rebel organizations holding territory to recognize. for the US without making a bad joke.

John said...


Obama is a truly awful piece of shit, but there are limits to power and broader global interests are at play, and he and the broader political establishment make difficult decisions every day. US power isn't what it was - this isn't 1945. Being macho doesn't make for good policy. Idiot cowboys are two a penny, and sometimes make it to the Oval Office, with disastrous results. The Oval Office is reserved for politicians who understand power, threats to US interests and ways of cementing and perhaps furthering US interests. In a word "realists". On the whole, most of the occupants have been pretty sound CEO's of America Empire Inc.

The status of forces agreement was signed by Bush and the Iraqi government. The "status" was that the US was being kicked out. What was Obama supposed to do? Invade Iraq?

On the Libyan embassy, the CIA was running a covert operation from within the embassy to bring down Gaddafi using jihadis. The jihadis also turned their guns on their US backers. Amazingly, post-9/11, this was an unexpected turn of events! The two choices on offer were: accept the operation has backfired or mount a massive military response. The latter option may not prove particularly sound in the long run. Libya is now swarming with jihadis and it has fragmented. It'll be Somalia all over again but many, many times worse.

North Korea? No change. Every year or so, the North Koreans ramp up the rhetoric, and every year or so, a US President says the same thing. It's been like this for decades. Obama is no different. Not much more can be done, and not much more will be done.

Afghanistan? It was Obama who turbo charged the war in Afghanistan. However, even he's come to the realisation that nothing can be achieved. The Taliban run so much of the country, and have done for years. The US has now decided to make a deal with the Taliban, something the Bush administration were making strides towards, thus proving the pointlessness of fourteen years of war and occupation. It was a dumb war, nearly as dumb as Iraq. Even though Obama prides himself on not doing dumb wars, he was all for the dumb Afghan war, the dummy.

John said...

China. This is more complicated than you make out. It's a sensitive area. The Chinese have genuine concerns, as well as wanting the rest of the region to respect its status as the regional power. Japan's relationship with China has always been antagonistic and, for various reasons, is being more than just a little belligerent in the past few years. Japan's hyperventilating hypernationalism and territorial demands are unnecessary and has knowingly goaded China into a naval response. This is the South China Sea. The clue is in the name. It's not as if Chinese naval vessels are sailing off the coast of New York or in the Mediterranean. China has genuine concerns, especially given its history with Japan. It has genuine concerns regarding the Strait of Malacca and possible energy shortages. All this can be resolved diplomatically. Instead, anti-China sentiment is being fanned by the Japanese, and Obama knowingly ups the ante with his dumb and dumber "pivot to Asia", which translates as deliberately confronting China in China's backyard. Obama is being deliberately provocative, and for good reason. China is in a position of dismantling a good deal of US power (the new development bank, bypassing the dollar and SWIFT, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, etc), and this is unacceptable. China has to be brought to heel. How to do it is another matter entirely. Washington hopes to achieve this by making resources difficult to attain: hence the naval deployment. A break up of China would do nicely: Tibet and Xinjiang fit the bill. Hostile neighbours: US efforts in Burma, Vietnam, Thailand, etc are not guaranteed but are coming along nicely.

As Tom says, given the hand he was dealt by the incompetent buffoons before him, Obama has done a pretty good job as CEO of America Empire Inc. Unfortunately, that means he's made the world a much more dangerous place: Syria, Ukraine, China, Russia, Yemen, Pakistan, etc.

Tom Hickey said...

It was Obama who turbo charged the war in Afghanistan.,

For what I have read, it appears that Obama was ganged up on by the military before he got his sea legs. US presidents must learn on the job because the workings of the deep state are secret and only revealed in its working. So presidents have to find our for themselves where the real power in government lies and what they can push on and what they can't.

As Obama got more experienced, and he is a quick study, he did OK in dealing with what he had to. The US deep state is secretive and powerful, and in my view not above "doing what it takes" in if push comes to shove. Presidents quickly find this out, as W said he would.

lastgreek said...

Being macho doesn't make for good policy.

Good point, John. "Macho" needlessly cost the lives of 41 American Marines. I am referring to the Mayaguez Incident (all Kissinger's doing), and this year being the 40th anniversary of that tragedy.

John said...


For once I disagree! Back in the day, when Obama was just a candidate but giving sellout concerts to naive Europeans, Obama promised to end the Iraq war but expand the Afghan war.

For example: http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/president/issues/iraq.html
and: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/11/26/808280/-Obama-s-Afghan-Position-2007-2008-A-Reminder
and: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/jul/15/barackobama.usa1

As Andrew Bacevich says: "People weren't listening to what Obama was saying. He was never a dove."

All Obama did was what Nixon did, and that's accept reality. The reality in Afghanistan is that the US cannot achieve its aims. The country cannot be controlled. The military bases envisioned cannot be built. The US cannot project military power in Central Asia through Afghanistan. Those prospective pipelines must be ditched. The Taliban aren't going to disappear, and the US backed central government are too incompetent and corrupt to make useful allies. All is lost. Run like hell and hope Afghanistan doesn't fall into the hands of ISIS.

Obama's a hawk, always was. Show me a President who wasn't. It comes with the job. Dubya was a braindead velociraptor and surrounded himself with similar creatures. Unsurprisingly, it ended very badly. A huge self-inflicted asteroid hit planet Dubya and that was that.

Tom Hickey said...

That is true, But as I recall, the military apparently pushed the president into expanding the war much further than he had planned to do. He felt he got rolled since he was end run by the PR before he figured out what was happening. So he went along with a strategy that he had not ordered himself based on his own criteria, to his regret. He became over assertive after that.