Friday, February 12, 2016

The Illusionists and the 470,000 reasons why they should feel ashamed, but won’t.

DDGD February 12, 2016

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The Delirica

UmReeka: Between Two Berns Or The Trumanders Effect/Donnybern Syndrome: Call them Trumanders or Donnybern, call them a dream come true, or a nightmare, call them anything you like, one thing remains clear: what seemed fantastical six months ago now looms as reality in the making. Two kinds of populisms, one that drifts too far to the left, the other too far to the right, seem to end up meeting in the middle, confusing too many voters who genuinely seem to be caught between two berns. To some the choice might be about identifying the one who represents the greater good, to others, the matter might boil down to choosing the one who represents the lesser but necessary evil. A battle pitting Donny Boy against the Bern represents the kind of populist showdown that the country has not witnessed for decades, if ever. Meanwhile the world will be burning in the background.

Both men (Trump and Sanders) are polarizing and angry, anti-establishment angry, and both propose big fantastical ideas: build a wall and get Mexico to pay for it, and offer free tuition and get Wall Street to pay for it. How? Neither of them can say how. This means that should either of them become president, he will have plenty of difficulties dealing with Congress. Moreover, their views on foreign affairs (and on the ME in particular their views, as the Washington Post has noted, are “strikingly similar,”) can only generate difficulties when dealing with the Pentagon or any of America’ NATO allies, and are bound to be off-putting to many leaders from around the globe. As such, both men are bound to fail as president, their intentions and the desires of their followers notwithstanding.

Be that as it may, our way to this situation was paved by a return to the politics of amorality as a way for doing business. For amorality has always been conducive to illiberalism, even when initially championed by liberals. At its heart, amorality is a betrayal of liberal values. It’s that betrayal that will define the legacy of Barak Obama and the realists for all their attempts to cling to the moral high ground – an endeavor that is quite troubling to begin with for people who have championed the politics of amorality. It’s as though the realists want to say: we are moral exactly because our politics vis-à-vis others is amoral. Only when you believe that American lives and interests matter more than the lives and interests of other peoples can one accept falling on such logic. But such logic reflects an attachment to tribal mentality and attitudes, not liberal values. People who are willing to treat the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and dislocation of millions as an acceptable price for doing business, in this case, giving up Syria for the sake of appeasing Iran, are anything but liberals.

Legitimate Concerns: Hind Aboud Kabawat, Member of the High Negotiation Committee and Tanenbaum Peacemaker in Action: Lingering Questions Surround Geneva III. “There is genuine concern that a ceasefire without the assurance of a political transition will simply preserve the current power-dynamics, and in the process, the same sources of suffering will endure. Likewise, there is grave worry about the international community, which must continue to prioritize humanitarian action as an immediate focus of these peace talks. If Syrians on the ground see humanitarian corridors open, reduced civilian casualties, and the release of detainees, they are more likely to show enthusiasm for a negotiated ceasefire.” Since the Munich Agreement on Syria failed to address these points, it’s unlikely to amount to anything. But just in case anyone has doubts, leave it to Assad to dispel them: Syria conflict: Bashar Assad vows to retake whole country.

The Daily Delirynth

The Obama Administration scores another “peace in our time” moment. This one fails to convince even its authors.  Peacemaking like this gives warmongering a stiff competition.
The Illusionists: In a sign of how contained the Syrian conflict was/is, “Russia raises specter of interminable or 'world war' if Syria talks fail.” "You have no one power that can act alone," Medfiendeaf said. "You have Assad and his troops on one side and some grouping, which is fighting against the government on the other side. It is all very complicated. It could last years or even decades. What's the point of this?" How lucky is the world, then, that the talks did not fail: World powers agree Syria ceasefire, says John Kerry. Indeed, according to Mr. Laughrough, there were "reasons to hope we have done a great job today." As opposed to yesterday and tomorrow, I guess.

Especially tomorrow, because Russia and pro-Iranian militias on the ground are not yet ready to attack Aleppo, they need time to prepare and equip themselves for the job, all while fortifying their own positions. Under the excuse of fighting against Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State, they can still engage in hostilities to complete and strengthen their encirclement of Aleppo and other rebel strongholds in central Syria, without seeming to break the terms of the ceasefire. The Obama Administration will likely oblige, as this ceasefire seems only meant to help it save face, rather than rebel or even civilian lives. And the legacy of an administration that was meant to end America’s involvement in wars through increased dependence on amorality, illusions, and hypocrisy, will be, suitably enough, more wars that future administrations will have to manage. As for relief efforts, we had already seen how relief worked in the case of the town of Madaya, northwest of Damascus, as soon as world attention shifted, the status quo ante prevailed and people are still dying of starvation there. There is a lot of hypocrisy here: Syria Analysis: It’s Not a “Ceasefire” — It’s Cover for the US and Russia.

Indeed and the Telegraph has noted, this is: A ceasefire war criminals don't have to observeThe latest 'ceasefire' deal for Syria turns the idea of peace on its head: no-one who signed up to it has to observe it, and nor do terrorists or war criminals.

The Shame Factory: The Death Toll From Syria’s War Is Actually 470,000, New Research Claims. “The Syrian Center for Policy Research says that 11.5% of Syria's population has been killed or injured.” The injured number around 1.9 million.

What does it all mean? In geopolitical terms, this is the price that the Obama administration was willing to pay in order to get the Iran deal: Obama's Secret Iran StrategyContrary to what observers have long assumed, Obama does connect his Iran policy and his Syria policy: just as he showed deference to Iran on the nuclear front, he has deferred to the Iranian interest in Syria.” In humanitarian terms, it means this world is governed by narcissistic amoral assholes of all kinds who are as comfortable as ever with the use of people as pawns, for all the deaths and mayhem that this entails: Trapped between airstrikes and locked gate, Syrian refugees are pawns in a wider war

Syrian Opposition Groups Sense U.S. Support Fading.American-backed insurgents have long been used to the American stance in recent years, that the United States did not want them to actually win the war — lest a sudden toppling of Mr. Assad lead to Islamist rule — but wanted to prevent them from losing for long enough to pressure the government to negotiate for a political solution. Now they fear that the United States and its allies may actually let them lose.” Well, the support was never real to begin with. Obama achieved his goal, the Iran Deal, and now prefers to let others do the cleanup.

The Guardian view on the battle for Aleppo: a rebuke to America and the world. “After intensive bombing, and while the world looks on, Syria’s largest city is on the verge of becoming a humanitarian catastrophe on a par with the siege of Sarajevo 20 years ago.” That’s so 20 never agains ago.

Saudi’s decision to send troops in Syria ‘final’ and ‘irreversible.’ That’s how Syria’s suffering: final and irreversible. And it was all quite preventable – something that no realist would ever dare acknowledge.

Exclusive: U.S. Allies Now Fighting CIA-Backed Rebels. “Not long ago, U.S. jets and Shia militias worked together to battle ISIS. Today, those militias are trying to take down American proxies in Syria.” The Obama administration was so worried about the law of unintended consequences in Syria it managed to create a deep quagmire that sucked in both Iraq and Syria. Just like its predecessor, every mistake the administration committed ended up facilitating and consolidating Iran’s regional rise. No wonder the Saudis are pissed, and increasingly suspicious.

A Piece of Propaganda: Why Assad's Army Has Not Defected. This is a work of propaganda, that’s for sure, but just in case people are willing to forgo the background of the author, Kamal Alam is a Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London and a Syrian Military Analyst advising several Damascus-based family offices, not to mention certain otherwise easy to notice facts, let me make the following reminder: as all western intelligence agencies can assert, nothing remains of Assad’s armies that is worth the name army: by now we are dealing with militias, the majority of whom are composed of Alawite and Shia recruits and mercenaries paid for by Iran. There are Sunni fighters for sure,, but most of them are hapless recruits thrown into the fire in the face of Al-Nusra and IS, with little support, and little faith in the fight, except the need to survive. Neither Al-Nusra nor IS has shown any sympathy for the plight of Sunni recruits, and they know it. So, they fight because they have no choice: defectors are killed and captured soldiers are killed. As for the times before the war, well, as all Syrian with a brain and the willingness to face the truth know: the levers of power in the military and security agencies have always been held by Alawite, and best equipped fighting units were also made of Alawite recruits, Christians, Druzes, Shia, Ismailis and Circassians and members of certain small Sunni clans were given preferential treatments as well. It’s the Assad regime that instituted such sectarian game in Syria, and anyone claiming that they have somehow respected the country’s diversity, rather than exploit it for its own needs, is made either by a total moron, or by propagandist.

Refugee camp being set up on the Syrian side of the Turkish border by Turkish aid agency
Once more unto the breach: Nato orders fleet to deploy in Aegean Sea 'to help end Europe's refugee crisis. “Warships from the Western alliance will be used to stop people-smuggling boats for the first time.” Or close the wall up with our Syrian dead. And there will be plenty of them still coming Europe’s way: The Worst of the Syrian Refugee Crisis Is Coming for Europe. “The Assad regime's Russian-aided military campaign and the onset of spring augur another mass refugee flow into the EU, and the only surefire way to stop it is by addressing the root of the crisis inside Syria.” And Turkey is more than willing to let them pass through.

George and Amal Clooney meet Angela Merkel at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin. Photograph: Getty Images
It’s always cool when people for being cool actually end up doing cool things: George and Amal Clooney meet Angela Merkel and back Germany's support for refugeesHail, Caesar! star follows up combative performance at Berlin film festival press conference with meeting to discuss the Syria crisis with the German chancellor.

The former flagship of Standing Nato Maritime Group 2, FGS Hamburg (far left), refuelling from from USNS Bridge with USS Dwight D Eisenhower on the right US Navy (Released)
The Lilliputin of the Kremlin Burroughs: How President Putin is getting what he wants in Syria. This is actually a good rundown of Putin’s unfolding strategy in Syria, but I have one problem with it as well as with most analysis of things Syrian these days: they all start by speaking about the civil war and how the U.S. and Russia made their choices in regard to this unfolding war. They all chose to ignore that, for close to a year, the situation in Syria could not be honestly described as a civil war, as it consisted more of a violent repression against a largely nonviolent pro-democracy protest movement. Putin and Khamenei chose their side since the very outset of this movement, while Obama chose to pursue a deal with Iran at the expense of all things Syrian. His rhetoric suggested one thing, his actions pursued another. It’s important to keep this in mind, because everything that is unfolding in Syria today comes as a direct result of it.

Be that as it may, once you are allowed to get away with murder, you might as well lie about it: Russia Claims That US A-10s, Not Russian Jets Bombed Aleppo Yesterday, and you might as well push for something even bigger: the collapse of the EU: Putin’s Media Are Pushing Britain For The Brexit.   

Quote of the Day

"Washington has given Moscow a huge political gift in not holding Russia accountable for its pattern of targeting moderate rebel groups and their leaders instead of ISIS. And Moscow is going to leverage it." --Tony Badran, research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies

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Cartoons: The Cauldron

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