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Titus



Joined: 19 May 2012

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Leon wrote:
Titus wrote:
Quote:
Time will tell, but I don't see them as the foreign policy savants as Titus does.


No, I did not say that.

The Russians pursue their national interests. Stability is Syria and Iran is good for energy deliveries and the like.

America pursues the national interests of Israel (who wants to be surrounded by nations in civil war), pushes the flaky agenda of NGO's and asbergery activists (ie democracy promotion and such) and a few gigantic corporations.


It sounded implied, sorry if it wasn't. I think they are good. I have a chance to take a joint class with the Moscow State Institute of International Relations and it is tempting to join it just to work with the Russian students to get their perspective. It seems like it must be easier to be a regional power than a world power.


The perspective will be 1) what are our national interests and 2) how do we best pursue our national interests.

What goes on in DC is a hell of a lot less coherent.
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Leon



Joined: 31 May 2010

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Titus wrote:
The American media, the policy foundations/organizations, the government, the wonks, the experts, the regime loyalists, the whole lot of them, have been wrong about everything. Maybe Mearsheimer is an exception.

Any time spent reading what American/British/etc establishment types have to say is wasted.

This is all going to get worse, as incredible as that sounds, when HRC is POTUS. She is going to be worse than Bush. I already miss the disinterested incompetence of Obama.


As somebody in that world, I disagree. http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2002/9/27/faculty-sign-petition-against-invasion-of/

A lot of Americans at the institutes, universities, etc. are very good, it's just a question of how much voice they have.
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Leon



Joined: 31 May 2010

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Titus wrote:
Leon wrote:
Titus wrote:
Quote:
Time will tell, but I don't see them as the foreign policy savants as Titus does.


No, I did not say that.

The Russians pursue their national interests. Stability is Syria and Iran is good for energy deliveries and the like.

America pursues the national interests of Israel (who wants to be surrounded by nations in civil war), pushes the flaky agenda of NGO's and asbergery activists (ie democracy promotion and such) and a few gigantic corporations.


It sounded implied, sorry if it wasn't. I think they are good. I have a chance to take a joint class with the Moscow State Institute of International Relations and it is tempting to join it just to work with the Russian students to get their perspective. It seems like it must be easier to be a regional power than a world power.


The perspective will be 1) what are our national interests and 2) how do we best pursue our national interests.

What goes on in DC is a hell of a lot less coherent.


I don't think democracies are that great at foreign policy, or at least powerful democracies. It's a lot easier for dictators and authoritarians to keep people in line and form coherent policy. It can backfire if the person at the top is deluded and everyone keeps saying yes, but it is a lot easier to manage.

Even if their perspective is 1 and 2, there is a lot of room to argue about what is the correct view of 1 and 2.
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Titus



Joined: 19 May 2012

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
As somebody in that world, I disagree. http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2002/9/27/faculty-sign-petition-against-invasion-of/

A lot of Americans at the institutes, universities, etc. are very good, it's just a question of how much voice they have.


American establishment opinion is constrained to a narrow band of acceptable opinions. That the Harvard faculty did not support the invasion does not mean that they're not messianic progressive ideologues who see a variation of the End of History as some ordained conclusion.

The current elite is incapable of forming a thought outside of a 'march of progress' frame. This is why everything is framed as "right side of history" and "wrong side of history". In this frame, the details get lost. These details are important. For example, Arabs marry cousins. Societies that have large rates of cousin marriage are clannish and not ever going to maintain a democracy. In Arab societies, there is no march of progress to democracy. Leon, you're not going to get promoted or even hired if you express an opinion outside of messianic progressivism. In a job interview throw it out "Arabs are not well-suited for democracy because more than 50% marry first cousins". Mention that you think the Israel lobby is a threat to national interests. The regime will exclude you.
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Leon



Joined: 31 May 2010

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Titus wrote:
Quote:
As somebody in that world, I disagree. http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2002/9/27/faculty-sign-petition-against-invasion-of/

A lot of Americans at the institutes, universities, etc. are very good, it's just a question of how much voice they have.


American establishment opinion is constrained to a narrow band of acceptable opinions. That the Harvard faculty did not support the invasion does not mean that they're not messianic progressive ideologues who see a variation of the End of History as some ordained conclusion.

The current elite is incapable of forming a thought outside of a 'march of progress' frame. This is why everything is framed as "right side of history" and "wrong side of history". In this frame, the details get lost. These details are important. For example, Arabs marry cousins. Societies that have large rates of cousin marriage are clannish and not ever going to maintain a democracy. In Arab societies, there is no march of progress to democracy. Leon, you're not going to get promoted or even hired if you express an opinion outside of messianic progressivism. In a job interview throw it out "Arabs are not well-suited for democracy because more than 50% marry first cousins". Mention that you think the Israel lobby is a threat to national interests. The regime will exclude you.


Maybe, I don't really follow the Middle East stuff as closely, and wouldn't want to work on those issues professionally. I'm doing more East Asia stuff, my impression is that there is a much greater range of acceptable opinions in East Asia, and that there is a much more interest based focus in East Asia than in a place like the Middle East.

Also, never is a long time. Transitioning straight to democracy is unlikely to happen, and policies that do that will fail, but over time transition could occur through various stages of authoritarianism and opening up along sort of an East Asian model, or it could dissolve into chaos. I'm for less intervention in the Middle East, if only because we aren't good at it. Perhaps the only thing worthwhile is keeping some ships in the area to keep sea lanes open.
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Titus



Joined: 19 May 2012

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Transitioning straight to democracy is unlikely to happen


There's that messianic progressivism.

Human groups are not fungible. You can not have an East Asian model for Arabs. Arabs and East Asians are different. Permanently, genetically, socially, culturally, temperamentally, intellectually, permanently different.
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Titus



Joined: 19 May 2012

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.wnd.com/2014/06/200-u-s-contractors-surrounded-by-jihadists-in-iraq/

^ If that is true, and it is WND so buckets of salt, force should be used to evacuate the mercenaries.
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Leon



Joined: 31 May 2010

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Titus wrote:
Quote:
Transitioning straight to democracy is unlikely to happen


There's that messianic progressivism.

Human groups are not fungible. You can not have an East Asian model for Arabs. Arabs and East Asians are different. Permanently, genetically, socially, culturally, temperamentally, intellectually, permanently different.


Well yes, but it really wasn't that long ago that monarchy, colonialism and or tribalism were the dominant models. History doesn't stay still, it doesn't end, and it can regress as well as progress. Anyone who is too sure of what will and won't happen, and can and can't happen, in the long term can't be trusted.
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Titus



Joined: 19 May 2012

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Well yes, but it really wasn't that long ago that monarchy, colonialism and or tribalism were the dominant models.


Colonialism and tribalism are not dominant anymore? Do you notice that 90%+ of blacks vote in one direction, and that whites are moving towards R in a strong way? Colonialism? Free trade, which isn't free, is economic colonialism. You do not need to put soldiers on every corner to control a foreign population.

We really must break this habit of analyzing democracy as a theory and not democracy as it exists. Democracy as it exists is by in large a cover for oligarchy.

Remember Berezovsky:

http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/till-death-berezovsky-defends-backing-putin/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0
Quote:
Berezovsky claimed to have been the mastermind behind picking a man with no public face, a former K.G.B. agent, to succeed Yeltsin as the president of Russia. He also said it was his idea to manufacture an entire nonideological pseudo-political pseudo-movement to serve as the new president’s base of support. Berezovsky also had another brilliant idea, which to his regret Putin did not grasp: creating a fake two-party system, with Putin at the head of a socialist-democrat sort of party and Berezovsky leading a neoconservative one, or the other way around.


A fake two party system. That's democracy.

This is very strange. The cultural/media/political elite, who represent an oligarchy, profess allegiance to the smokescreen in front of the oligarchy and work to spread this smokescreen around the world. I am sure that this elite really, truly and fully believes in the smokescreen as a value, but also know that it is just a smokescreen.
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Kuros



Joined: 27 Apr 2004

PostPosted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So if Titus is done explaining his ideological motivations yet again, I'd like to return to the proper subject of this thread, which is, of course, Iraq.

Laughing

The Terror of ISIS

Quote:
Death was everywhere in the sacked the city of Mosul, a strategically vital oil hub and Iraq’s largest northern city. One reporter said an Iraqi woman in Mosul claimed to have seen a “row of decapitated soldiers and policemen” on the street. Other reports spoke of “mass beheadings,” though The Washington Post was not able to confirm the tales.


The WaPo should only report what it can confirm, a point to which I will circle back around.

Quote:
In many cases, police and soldiers literally ran, shedding their uniforms as they went, abandoning large caches of weapons.


A description of the events from Mosul.

Quote:
It is really difficult to understand how the commanders of the land forces were so quick to move when a similar crisis first erupted in Ramadi, but they all fled when Isis attacked Mosul – even though there were only a few Isis fighters who could have been overcome easily.

[In Isis's first assault] there were only 500 fighters. Once they got to the city, they were joined by other Iraqi resistance groups, they went to the prisons and released all the prisoners who are fighting with them now. They are quipped of far better and advanced weapons than ours. If they fire a bullet, they can scupper a wall, not like our funny weapons, which are like kids' toys.

The Isis fighters are from Syria, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. When they entered the Tamouz neighbourhood in Mosul, we tried to resist them with RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] and rockets. We were waiting for support from the army, which never came.

All of a sudden, our commandos began to withdraw. We were more than 200 policeman in the office. I looked around and could only find eight. How can I fight Isis with eight policemen? We have pistols; they have PKC [machine guns].

We held them off for five days but on the fifth day, an emergency forces unit based in one of the hotels in Mosul was hit and lots of military men were killed. The attack devastated the morale of the military forces. Any policeman who handed himself to Isis was killed immediately.

Isis fighters then confiscated army vehicles deserted by the military forces and drove them to the police headquarters. At first we thought they were military men; then they started to kill any policeman they saw. They are everywhere in the city and all its villages. The whole city is under their control now.


The Iraqi Army simply withdrew without a fight. Why?

The Oil

Quote:
For years the Kurds have been at loggerheads with the oil ministry in Baghdad. The Kurds want the freedom to export oil from their territory as they see fit, and recently completed their own pipeline from Kurdish oil fields to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. Baghdad insists that only the federal government can license exports and that unilateral exports are blatantly illegal.

It’s significant, says a source with deep experience in Iraq and oil, that in recent weeks before the ISIS offensive in the northern city of Mosul, the Kurds decided to press the issue. They not only sent millions of barrels of crude oil to Ceyhan, but have loaded 2 million barrels of it on to two tankers that are now at sea.

Iraqi President Nuri al-Maliki, through the state oil company, was quick to condemn the shipments.


The Kurds are attempting to become de facto independent. Maliki wants to put a stop to it.

Quote:
On Tuesday came the ISIS attack on the northern city of Mosul. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, suggests my source, that Iraq’s federal security forces were encouraged by Baghdad to run away rather than fight ISIS. Why? Because in leaving such a security vacuum it has forced the Kurds to stretch their own security forces thin by occupying Kirkuk and standing on guard against ISIS. This necessarily weakens the Kurds’ security stance along the border with Turkey.

Viewed from 20,000 feet, away from the reality of summary executions and refugees, it’s all a big chess game. “Though I hate to give him credit, Maliki is playing the crisis well,” says a source.

The melting away of Maliki’s army has effectively taught the Kurds a lesson: that although they may be capable of protecting their own territory, they need to support and encourage a strong federal government in Baghdad that can unify the nation and stand up an army that can beat back ISIS.


Of course, the Kurds understand this, and have seized Kirkuk.

The Revenge of the Kurds

Quote:
The Kurdish occupation of Kirkuk, to forestall an attack by ISIS in the absence of any Iraqi military units, could further shift both the political dynamics inside Iraq and change the shape of the country's energy sector. That's because, given Baghdad's other pressing priorities, it may well prove difficult for the central government to reassert control there.

"They're capitalizing on a moment of weakness to create facts on the ground," said Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a Middle East specialist at Rice University's Baker Institute. He said the fluid situation could revive the decade-old idea of partitioning Iraq into separate ethnic and political spheres. "This carve-up may just happen on the ground, as different groups take advantage of the vacuum of authority."

Kurdish control over Kirkuk, and the massive oil fields found nearby, could have a ripple effect on the rest of Iraq's oil industry, Eurasia Group's Kamel said. That is, the Kurdish-style oil contracts, which offer foreign firms a share of the oil, could displace the less attractive Iraqi-style contracts at those mammoth fields.


So, Maliki has made a deal with ISIS so he can terrorize the Sunni North and punish and warn the Kurdistan North. In turn, the Kurds have seized Kirkuk and may launch its own offensive against ISIS as the jihadists attack Baghdad. It would be incredible to believe that ISIS could take Baghdad, and in fact, its likely that Iranian forces are already there to insure Maliki can hold the capital.

ISIS is only 12,000. They are a pawn in the Sunni-Shia-Kurdish struggle for power in Iraq.
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Titus



Joined: 19 May 2012

PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2014 5:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kuros wrote:
So if Titus is done explaining his ideological motivations yet again, I'd like to return to the proper subject of this thread, which is, of course, Iraq.


Maybe the air up here on my soapbox is thin and impacting my memory, but I believe the thread is about Syria. No point to start a new thread. Carry on.

Regarding ISIS/Iraq/Syria/Etc here are three interviews with Scott Horton:

http://scotthorton.org/interviews/2014/06/11/061114-patrick-cockburn/

http://scotthorton.org/interviews/2014/06/12/061214-mitchell-prothero/

http://scotthorton.org/interviews/2014/06/10/061014-dahr-jamail/

The interview with Jamail is particularly good.
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Titus



Joined: 19 May 2012

PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2014 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/12/toppling-saddam-was-right-go-back-to-iraq-democracy

Quote:
There is no way that the UK can stand aside at Iraq's moment of greatest need. We have a responsibility to those whose democracy we created. Those who are not utterly silent are sullen, muttering that Blair and Bush caused all this, that there was no al-Qaida in Iraq before 2003. Let's be clear what that statement really is – bloodless, amoral pragmatism of the type Henry Kissinger excelled in. You might as well say: "Saddam may have been a fascist who inflicted genocide on the Kurds, but at least that kept Iran and the jihadists at bay." That remark would have the merit of being honest.

The truth is that if we do not act now, we will surely act later. Having protected the freedom and autonomy of the Kurds since the Kuwait war, we cannot abandon them now, or leave them dependent on protection from Iran. We have to go back to Iraq to rescue democracy. After all, as Margaret Thatcher said at the time of the Falklands, why else do we have armed forces?
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Steelrails



Joined: 12 Mar 2009
Location: Earth, Solar System

PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2014 1:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Titus wrote:
Kuros wrote:
So if Titus is done explaining his ideological motivations yet again, I'd like to return to the proper subject of this thread, which is, of course, Iraq.


Maybe the air up here on my soapbox is thin and impacting my memory, but I believe the thread is about Syria. No point to start a new thread. Carry on.


For all practical purposes, what was once known as "Iraq" and "Syria" have pretty much ceased to exist in everything but name and are probably consigned to the ash heap of history. Kurdistan has gone from slowly limping along towards independence to hurtling towards it. Iraqi Sunnis have given up any hope of reconciliation with the Maliki government, and Assad will never reunite all of Syria.
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Squire



Joined: 26 Sep 2010
Location: Jeollanam-do

PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2014 2:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Titus wrote:
The Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/12/toppling-saddam-was-right-go-back-to-iraq-democracy

Quote:
There is no way that the UK can stand aside at Iraq's moment of greatest need. We have a responsibility to those whose democracy we created. Those who are not utterly silent are sullen, muttering that Blair and Bush caused all this, that there was no al-Qaida in Iraq before 2003. Let's be clear what that statement really is – bloodless, amoral pragmatism of the type Henry Kissinger excelled in. You might as well say: "Saddam may have been a fascist who inflicted genocide on the Kurds, but at least that kept Iran and the jihadists at bay." That remark would have the merit of being honest.

The truth is that if we do not act now, we will surely act later. Having protected the freedom and autonomy of the Kurds since the Kuwait war, we cannot abandon them now, or leave them dependent on protection from Iran. We have to go back to Iraq to rescue democracy. After all, as Margaret Thatcher said at the time of the Falklands, why else do we have armed forces?


I despair. If the Guardian prints something like this a ton of 'liberals' will jump on board immediately.
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Titus



Joined: 19 May 2012

PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2014 5:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The comments at the article are overwhelmingly hostile. To get back on my soapbox, the elite will do what they want unless the citizens really put up a fight.

What a stupid sentence: "to rescue democracy".
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