Friday, August 19, 2016

The Bros & Cons


Brought to you by…

The Lumpen Broletariat (previously known as The Con-Jobbers International): We’re bros, we work together, we play together, but we rise and fall separately.

23:03

Liars

Russia Denies Involvement In Aleppo Attack That Wounded Boy. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement on August 19 that Russian warplanes "never work on targets in civilian areas."

Meaningless denial: First, because Russia does indeed target civilian areas and civilian infrastructure, and has been since the beginning of its direct military intervention in the conflict. Second, because the Assad regime and Russia are allies. Third, because Russian experts are responsible for coordinating all aerial strikes in that part of the country. Fourth, the planes are made in Russia, Syrian pilots are trained in Russia, and no regime jet would be flying at this stage had it not been for Russian technical and logistical support. By now Russia is culpable in every war crime that the Assad regime is busy perpetrating. The same applies to Iran whose experts are the inventors of the infamous and deadly Barrel Bombs.

20:56

War Porn

The new and sickening response to Syrian activists’ attempt at documenting and reporting on ongoing war crimes in Syria is to accuse them of perpetrating war porn. Apparently, this is worse than the war crimes themselves. I guess the point being to let everybody kill in peace, especially the worst offenders of all: the Assad regime the Russians and the Iran-funded sectarian militias. Activists are free to document the crimes perpetrated by the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups, and they are doing so, but, it’s when they document the crimes of the worst offenders that they get called out, and shamed.

20:33

And Why Not Chinese Soldiers

Syrian defence minister Lt Gen Fahd Jasem al-Freij (second right) hosted a Chinese delegation in Damascus earlier this week CREDIT: AFP/GETTY IMAGES


Rear Admiral Guan Youfei, who heads China's office for international military cooperation, met Lt. General Fahd Jassem al-Frejj, the Syrian defence minister, in Damascus earlier this week, the Xinhua news agency said.

The Chinese military is “willing to strengthen cooperation with its Syrian counterparts,” the agency quoted the defence ministry as saying.

“They reached consensus on improving personnel training, and the Chinese military offering humanitarian aid to Syria,” the Xinhua report said of the Damascus meeting.

20:23

Onward Shia Soldiers

Iranian soldiers carry the coffin of Abdollah Bagheri, a bodyguard of former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who was killed in Syria, during his funeral in Tehran October 28, 2015/ Reuters

Revolutionary Guards Plan to Stay Quarter of Century in Syria. According to General Mohammed Ali Falaki, the leader of the Iranian forces in Syria, Iran has plans to launch the “Shiite Liberation Army” to fight on three fronts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, acting under the leadership of Al-Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani.

The Iranian general has also linked the establishment of this army with the participation of the Revolutionary Guards in Syria’s fighting, asserting that the Shi’ite Liberation Army will remain at the Syrian-Israeli border for up to 23 years in order to complete the strategies of “Wilayat Al-Faqih.”

19:41

The Last Hospital


Barrel bombs allegedly full of napalm were dropped on the hospital at around 1 a.m., putting it completely out of service, according to a statement from Major Issam al-Reis, spokesman for the Free Syrian Army’s Southern Front. Around eight barrel bombs were dropped, burning civilian homes in the suburb, located around seven miles southwest of Damascus, he said. 

19:29

“Yes, he said this.” Episode: 301

"Sometimes, in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don't choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that. And believe it or not, I regret it. And I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues.Donald Trump

Hell may not have officially frozen over, but drastic temperature drop has raised concerns about the local economy based as it is on long-haul tourism.

18:54

The Other President & His Legacy



Today, the 77-year-old ayatollah—who reportedly suffers from cancer—is seeking to cement his legacy and to shape the political transition that will occur once he is gone. The nuclear agreement provides him with the building blocks to do that, and for now, at least, Mr. Khamenei and his allies look to be the deal’s big winners. The next U.S. administration is likely to face an unhappy choice: to continue to work with Iran or to challenge an increasingly entrenched supreme leader and his Revolutionary Guard.

18:43


For liberal anti-interventionists, Syria creates a clash between two dearly held forms of self-regard: the feeling of well-earned moral superiority over the adventurists who got us into the Iraq war, and the feeling of universalist compassion for all peoples of the world. What do you do when your enlightened rejection of militarism is undermining the credibility of your expressions of solidarity with the oppressed?

Well, now we know. You tweet about how bad you feel. You tweet about how shaken you are by images of destruction and suffering. You express bewilderment at the senselessness of violence. You engage in histrionics. You distract from the moral unseriousness of liberal anti-interventionism by flattering yourself as morally serious on a personal level. You’re haunted by the images of Aleppo, your conscience is tormented, submit tweet, and now you’re a compassionate person who doesn’t have to say whether we should get our hands dirty trying to stop the killing.

Or, if you were President Obama, you speak about how many white hairs you now sport on account of the tragedy in Syria. 

15:32

Syria conflict: Government jets 'bombs Kurds in Hassakeh'. The regime is blaming the Kurds for this development, saying that the clashes result of Kurdish take-over effort. This could indeed be true, marking a rare occasion for the regime in this regard.

Considering their growing alliance with the United States, and their recent string of victories against the Islamic State, the Kurds were bound to become more assertive when it comes to governing Hassakeh and Qamishly – the two major Kurdish-majority cities in Syria where Kurds, represented by PYD, the Syrian branch of the totalitarian PKK, still have to govern in partnership with the Assad regime. There has always been tension between the two sides, and the occasional flare, but violent clashes have started taken place at shorter intervals over the last 12 months.

On the other hand, considering that the Obama administration is unlikely to come to the rescue of its Kurdish allies even at the cost of undermining its only anti-IS force on the ground, the Syrian Democratic Froces, where Kurdish fighters make up the majority, the move could be inspired by a Russian desire to simply embarrass the administration and undermine its presence in the northeastern region, where Russia seems to be contemplating the establishment of another military base for itself. As Russia’s designs in Syria grow, the presence of America and other NATO partners is bound to become too bothersome, even if their focus remain on fighting IS.

15:06


14:40

The Malley & Miller Show

Robert Malley (far left) and other NSC Advisors meet with Secretary of State John Kerry
A Defense of Obama’s Middle East ‘Balancing Act’ From the Iraq drawdown to chemical weapons red lines to Russia’s war in Syria, a conversation with Robert Malley, the president’s top Middle East policy official.

Naturally, considering the interviewer, David Aaron Miller, who repeatedly defended and justified Obama’s Syria policy, and the interviewee, a former peddler of the Assad-the-closeted-reformer-and-peacemaker myth in Washingtonian circles, the interview comes as another exercise of arrogant self-congratulatory self-deceiving sophistry. There is no balancing act in the interview itself and whatever balancing act that the administration is supposed to be doing in the Middle East has already facilitated the unfolding of the worst humanitarian tragedy of our century, and has left the world and not only the region unmoored and adrift at the mercy of extremist currents from the far right to the far left. And America is now more vulnerable than ever to attacks from that constantly morphing “JV team,” with the greater danger coming from the ranks of opportunistic hate-mongering fools in search of easy answers, which are almost always wrong.   

But Malley, Miller and their colleagues look at the current mayhem and they project it back in time to justify the policies they advocated, blaming failure on others and insisting that what was shown as predictable was actually inevitable.

To me, this fatalism stands the truth on its head. For most of the predictable is often preventable, provided there is the will and the means to act. The administration had the means but lacked the will, because its members and advisers misread the situation and its implications for the region and the world at every step in its (d)evolution, and, rather than embark on some course correction, they’d rather intellectualize their failures: they got Russia, Iran and the Blob where they have intended them to be. The administration was not outmaneuvered. It behaved rationally even if amorally. For yes, Malley, Miller, Rhodes and Kerry, not to mention Obama himself, prefer to come off as amoral bastards, than dumb.

But dumb increasingly look as the most appropriate epithet of all.
   
13:05

Sink. Sank. Sunk. Sunken.

Paul, Paul, Paul. We hardly knew ye. Seriously. We hardly knew ye. Who the fuck are you, bro?
Paul Manafort resigns from Trump campaign. Manafort’s growing list of scandals was diverting attention from Trump’s own. Can’t do that Bro. Not cool.  
  
12:54 pm

Failure by Another Name

Iran and the “ransom”: It’s not about the money. Suzanne Maloney argues that the $400 million payment to Iran

should not come as a shock, nor should it discredit the administration’s approach to Iran, since the use of financial leverage to persuade Tehran to curtail its most dangerous policies has constituted a core element of U.S. policy toward Iran for nearly 40 years.

In other words, the “ransom” payment is about changing Iran’s “most dangerous policies.” Well, considering that, since receiving the payment, Iran has imprisoned more dual national citizens and increased its involvement in the Syrian conflict, can we not argue that this particular instance of use of our financial leverage against Tehran seems to have failed? To her credit, Maloney doesn’t think that “the settlement was really a good deal.” Failure by another name…
  
12:40 pm

Quote of the Day: And Russia is our leverage…

What is US leverage in Syria?” Asks Clarissa Ward. "Russia is, and has been, part of that leverage in the past." U.S. State Department Spokesman John Kirby answers.

12:29 pm

Few thousands iconic photos ago, there was this…. Obama said Assad should 'step aside'. But ever since those heady days of promise, Obama chose to dance with death rather than prevent it. Here he is doing his famous Nobel-prize award winning Shirk & Shift routine.

From the Annals of the Holy Deliricon:

(The) Shirk ‘N’ Shift (Also, the Shirk & Shift): The political and social practice of shirking responsibility for a certain developing situation, while attempting to shift the blame for the eventual mess resulting from the failure to act in a timely and effective fashion unto other parties.

Example: Since the outset of the Syrian Revolution, President Barack Obama has been engaging in a vigorous regime of Shirk ‘N’ Shift; the result: the worst humanitarian disaster in decades, weakened allies, empowered enemies and the collapse of the ethical underpinning of the Global Order. Furthermore, that American credibility that Obama vowed to restore at the beginning of his presidency might have just received her coup de grâce.

12:17 pm


As the Syrian conflicts keep churning new iconic images, renewed calls for a no-fly zone will likely keep falling on the same indifferent lethargic arrogant foolish and shit-ridden ears that have ignored them since the beginning of the Syrian Revolution. So, meanwhile, here’s a list of organizations that are trying to help



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