ISIl

The Aleppo/Mosul Riddle

gc2smFrom the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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  Published on Strategic Culture on October 21, 2016

The Aleppo/Mosul Riddle

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There’s no question Baghdad needs to take back Mosul from ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. It could not do it before. In theory, the time is now.

The real question is the conflicting motivations of the large “who’s who” doing it; the Iraqi Army’s 9th Division; the Kurdish Peshmerga, under the baton of wily, corrupt opportunist Barzani; Sunni tribal lords; tens of thousands of Shi’ite militias from southern Iraq; operational “support” from US Special Forces; “targeted” bombing by the US Air Force; and lurking in the background, Turkish Special Forces and air power.

Now that’s a certified recipe for trouble.

Much like Aleppo, Mosul is – literally – the stuff of legend. The successor of ancient Nineveh, settled 8000 years ago; former capital of the Assyrian Empire under Sennacherib in the 7th century B.C.; conquered by Babylon in the 6th century B.C.; a thousand years later, annexed to the Muslim empire and ruled by the Umayyads and the Abbasids; the key hub, from the 11th to the 12th century, of the Atabegs medieval state; a key Ottoman hub in a 16th century post-Silk Road spanning the Indian Ocean all the way to the Persian Gulf, the Tigris valley, Aleppo and Tripoli in the Mediterranean.

After WWI, everyone craved Mosul – from Turkey to France. But it was the Brits who managed to dupe France into letting Mosul be annexed to the British Empire’s brand new colony: Iraq. Then came the long Arab nationalist Ba’ath party domination. And afterwards, Shock and Awe and hell; the US invasion and occupation; the tumultuous Shi’ite-majority government of Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad; and the ISIS/ISIL/Daesh takeover in the summer of 2014.

Mosul’s historic parallels could not but have a special flavor. That 11th/12th century medieval state happened to have roughly the same borders of Daesh’s phony “Caliphate” – incorporating both Aleppo and Mosul. In 2004, Mosul was de facto ruled by disgraced, failed “presidential material” Gen. David Petraeus. Ten years later, after Petraeus’s phony “surge”, Mosul was ruled by a phony Caliphate born in a US prison near the Kuwaiti border.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of residents fled Mosul. The population may be as much as halved compared to the original 2 million. That’s a mighty lot to be properly “liberated”.

Aleppo “falls”

The hegemonic narrative about the ongoing Battle of (East) Aleppo is that an “axis of evil” (as coined by Hillary Clinton) of Russia, Iran and “the Syrian regime” is relentlessly bombing innocent civilians and “moderate rebels” while causing a horrendous humanitarian crisis.

In fact, the absolute majority of these several thousand-strong “moderate rebels” is in fact incorporated and/or affiliated with Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (Conquest of Syria Front), which happens to be none other than Jabhat al-Nusra, a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria, alongside a smatter of other jihadi groups such as Ahrar al-Sham (Al-Nusra’s goals – and who supports them – are fully documented here).

Meanwhile, few civilians remain trapped in eastern Aleppo – arguably no more than 30,000 or 40,000 out of an initial population of 300,000.

And that brings us to the crux of the matter explaining the Pentagon sabotage of the Russia-US ceasefire; those fits of rage by Samantha Batshit Crazy Power; the non-stop spin that Russia is committing “war crimes”.

If Damascus controls, apart from the capital, Aleppo, Homs, Hama and Latakia, it controls the Syria that matters; 70% of the population and all the important industrial/business centers. It’s practically game over. The rest is a rural, nearly empty back of beyond.

For the headless chicken school of foreign policy currently practiced by the lame duck Obama administration, the ceasefire was a means to buy time and rearm what the Beltway describes as “moderate rebels”. Yet even that was too much for the Pentagon, which faces a determined Syria/Iran/Russia alliance fighting all declinations of demented Salafi-jihadis, whatever their terminology, and committed to keep a unitary Syria.

So reconquering the whole of Aleppo has to be the top priority for Damascus, Tehran and Moscow. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) will never have enough military to reconquer the rural, ultra hardcore Sunni back of beyond. Damascus may also never reconquer the Kurdish northeast, the embryonic Rojava; after all the YPG is directly backed by the Pentagon. Whether an independent Rojava will ever see the light of day is an interminable future issue to be solved.

The SAA, once again, is tremendously overextended. Thus, the method to reconquer East Aleppo is indeed hardcore. There is a humanitarian crisis. There is collateral damage. And this is only the beginning. Because sooner or later the SAA, supported by Hezbollah and Iraqi Shi’ite militias, will have to reconquer East Aleppo with boots on the ground as well – supported by Russian fighter jets.

The heart of the matter is that the former “Free Syrian Army”, absorbed by al-Qaeda in Syria and other Salafi-jihadis, is about to lose East Aleppo. Regime change and/or “Assad must go” – the military way – in Damascus is now impossible. Thus the utter desperation exhibited by the Pentagon’s Ash “Empire of Whining” Carter, neocon cells implanted all across lame duck Team Obama, and their hordes of media shills.

Enter Plan B; the Battle of Mosul.

Fallujah remixed?

The Pentagon plan is deceptively simple; erase any signs of Damascus and the SAA east of Palmyra. And this is where the Battle of Mosul converges with the recent Pentagon attack on Deir Ezzor. Even if we have an offensive in the next few months against Raqqa – by the YPG Kurds or even by Turkish forces – we still have a “Salafist principality” from eastern Syria to western Iraq all mapped up, exactly as the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) was planning (dreaming?) in 2012.

London-based Syrian historian Nizar Nayouf, as well as unnamed diplomatic sources, have confirmed that Washington and Riyadh closed a deal to let thousands of phony Caliphate jihadis escape Mosul from the west, as long as they head straight to Syria. A look at the battle map tells us that Mosul is encircled from all directions, except west.

But what about Sultan Erdogan in all this? He’s been spinning that Turkish Special Forces will enter Mosul just as they entered Jarablus in the Turkish-Syrian border; without firing a shot, when the city will be cleaned of jihadis.

Meanwhile, Ankara is preparing its spectacular entrance in the battlefield, with Erdogan in full regalia shooting at random. For him, “Baghdad” is no more than “an administrator of an army composed of Shi’ites”; and the YPG Kurds “will be removed from the Syrian town of Manbij” after the Mosul operation. Not to mention that Ankara and Washington are actively discussing the offensive against Raqqa, as Erdogan has not abandoned his dream of a “safe zone” of 5,000 km in northern Syria.

In a nutshell; for Erdogan, Mosul is a sideshow. His priorities remain a fractured, fragmented Syria, “safe zone” included; and to smash the YPG Kurds (while working side by side with the Peshmerga in Iraq).

As far as the US Plan B is concerned, Hezbollah’s Sheikh Nasrallah has clearly seen through the whole scheme; “The Americans intend to repeat the Fallujah plot when they opened a way for ISIL to escape towards eastern Syria before the Iraqi warplanes targeted the terrorists’ convoy.” He added that “the Iraqi army and popular forces” must defeat ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in Mosul; otherwise, they will have to chase them out across eastern Syria.

It's also no wonder that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has also clearly seen The Big Picture: “As far as I know, the city is not fully encircled. I hope it’s because they simply couldn’t do it, not because they wouldn’t do it. But this corridor poses a risk that Islamic State fighters could flee from Mosul and go to Syria.”

It’s clear Moscow won’t sit idly by if that’s the case;“I hope the US-led coalition, which is actively engaged in the operation to take Mosul, will take it into account.”

Of course Mosul – even more than Aleppo – poses a serious humanitarian question.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) estimates as many as 1 million people may be affected. Lavrov goes straight to the point when he insists “neither Iraq nor its neighbors currently have the capacity to accommodate such a large number of refugees, and this should have been a factor in the planning of the Mosul operation.”

It may not have been. After all, for the “US-led” (from behind?) coalition, the number one priority is to ensure the phony Caliphate survives, somewhere in eastern Syria. Over 15 years after 9/11, the song remains the same, with the war on terra the perennial gift that keeps on giving.

Welcome to World War Three

From the keyboard of James Howard Kunstler
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freda war from tv

Illustration: Anthony Freda

Originally Published on Clusterfuck Nation February 16, 2015

In case anyone didn’t get ISIL’s message from their latest video in which 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians have their heads sawn off, here it is: “We’re executioners, not warriors.” Those gouts of blood spilled on a Libyan beach amount to ISIL’s welcome mat to the mass execution of the Euro-American west. The dignity of a funeral is not even on the program.

What we’ve got now with apocalyptic Jihadism spreading clear across the region from Pakistan to Morocco, and Europe blandly ignoring it across the Mediterranean, is an epochal face-off that will change the world. It comes at an odd moment in history, namely as the massive oil wealth of the Middle East and North Africa enters decline. It was that oil wealth that provoked a population spike in a desolate corner of the planet the past century. Now there is a huge over-supply of young men there with nothing to do but act out their angry psychodrama over having no future. When a whole peoples’ prospects for a decent life on Earth dwindle to zero, is it any wonder that they become preoccupied with end-times visions of feasts and virgins awaiting in an after-life?

Partly what you’re seeing over there is an internal fight to control what’s left of the treasure. That battle has already had the strange consequence of disabling the oil production capacity in places like Iraq and Libya, where there is still a lot of oil, but not enough political stability to allow the complicated business of extraction and transport to take place. What’s more there has also been tremendous damage to the oil infrastructure in these places, some from deliberate sabotage, some from shelling and bombing, and a lot from sheer neglect and deferred maintenance. Oil refineries and transport terminals are very delicate machines that require constant loving care.

It’s self-evident now that ISIL would like to control as much of the remaining oil wealth as possible — though I doubt they have the competence to run it for long even if they appear to control the terrain. The Euro-American west always has the option of completing the destruction with bombs and missiles, but then they would also be destroying their own future oil supplies and hence their modern industrial economies.

The Big Prize, of course, is the grand fortress of Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is surrounded by Islamic maniacs now, with Yemen recently fallen to the south, the ever-hostile Iranian Shi’a across the Persian Gulf, disintegrating Iraq and Syria to the north, and the festering human compost heap of Egypt and then Libya across the Red Sea. And, of course, along the saddle of the Levant there is Israel with all its enemies and problems. Arabia has a new King, 79, rumored to be weak in the head. The oil revenue is way down and the population still grows, and too many young men have nothing to do but marinate in Wahhabist fantasies. If Saudi Arabia falls apart, it’s game over for modern life as the West has known it (and much of Asia now, too).

The USA, meanwhile, has managed to embroil itself in a completely unnecessary and idiotic struggle over Ukraine, a place of no real strategic importance to us. And in doing so we’ve managed to alienate perhaps the one nation with the will and the motivation to oppose Jihadism, namely Russia, with its vast southern border facing the immensity of Islamic Central Asia.

Europe, meanwhile, is preoccupied playing games with itself over money. Today is supposedly crunch time for Greece. The so-called Troika — the European Central Bank, The European Union bureaucrats, and the International Monetary Fund — still expects Greece to continue to pretend to pay back its debt. That’s been the meaning of “austerity” until now. But Europe is a gigantic debt minefield that no one can really walk across. Other parts of it than Greece are just waiting to blow up, and will, and it’s unclear whether Europe is even paying attention to the blood-red welcome mat that was laid out in Libya last weekend. The true meaning of “austerity” will become clear when Europe finds itself forced to fight World War Three at the same time that its banking system implodes.

 


James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

Pure War in Tehran

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar
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THE ROVING EYE

Obomber

Originally published in Asia Times on October 8, 2014

 

I’ve just spent a frantic week in Tehran. Before departure, I had made a conscious decision; only one book in the backpack. Maximum concentration. I ended up choosing Pure War, the 2008 reprint by Semiotext(e) in LA of the 1983 Paul Virilio classic I had picked up at the revamped Foyles in London a few days back.

For a roving correspondent, going to Iran is always extra-special. Getting a press visa approved usually takes ages. This was my sixth trip – and I had no visa. Just a number, tied to a visa at the airport. Until the last minute, I thought I’d be deported from Imam Khomeini International – back to Abu Dhabi, which is now pretending to bomb The Caliph. Then, a small miracle; a VIP room, a visa in 10 minutes and the next I know I’m zooming into an eerily deserted Tehran at sunrise on a Friday, past the psychedelic space station decked in green that is Imam Khomeini’s shrine.

Why Virilio? Because he was the first to conceptualize that with the explosion of asymmetrical warfare, Total War had become local – on a global scale. I expanded on the theme in my 2007 book Globalistan and in my writings. Washington and Tel Aviv had been threatening to bomb Iran for years. Virilio was the first to assert that “peace” merely extends war by other means.

May 1968 as a theatre of the mind – a theatre of the imagination. When society could be an artwork, a performance, with the crowds in the street as the chorus. The last creative reaction against consumerism. “Power to the imagination”.

A beautiful sunny morning in front of the Foreign Ministry compound. An exhibition/installation about the “imposed” – as it’s widely known – Iran-Iraq war. A reconstructed minefield; a map of nations weaponizing Saddam; pictures of young fighters/martyrs who wouldn’t have been older than 14. A theatre of painful remembrance. In late 1978, Tehran also had its crowds in the streets as chorus – against the shah. Khomeini was a reaction against consumerism; but was he “power to the imagination”? And then, all was engulfed in a theatre of cruelty – the tragedy of the “imposed” war.

War in the journalistic sense is national delinquency elevated to the scale of an extremely important conflict – It’s the equivalent of the “tumults”, as ancient societies called them. We can no longer even speak of wars, they are interstate delinquencies. It’s State terrorism.

In Tehran, my immensely gracious hosts were the organizers of New Horizon: the International Conference of Independent Thinkers. After plenty of twists and turns, the Foreign Ministry ended up also being involved. The conference issued a important resolution condemning ISIS/ISIL/The Caliph; Zionism; Islamophobia; sectarianism; and Washington’s blind support for anything Israel unleashes over Palestine: Israel’s national delinquency, or State terrorism. The conference also called for cooperation and understanding between the West and Islam: that implies a struggle against interstate delinquencies.

The best defense is to attack; and to attack you must have some ideas; right now there aren’t any ideas. Imagination today is in the image, and the image is in power. There’s no imagination for anything but the image.

I have to leave a fabulous open-air traditional Persian dinner to go to Press TV studios for a debate with notorious neo-con Daniel Pipes about ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. We surprisingly agree more than I would normally expect. Well, not hard considering the Obama administration’s non-strategy “strategy”; an image (bombs and Tomahawks) fighting an image (The Caliph’s carefully edited beheading show).

Meanwhile, President Hassan Rouhani’s speech at the United Nations kept making waves; “Extremists threaten our neighbors, resort to violence and shed blood.” It’s “the people in the region who can deliver” in the fight against The Caliph. Rouhani was not exactly referring to the made in USA jets allegedly deployed by the Gulf Cooperation Council coalition of the clueless/cowards; the House of Saud, UAE, Bahrain and associate member Jordan.

In all my conversations, a consensus emerges; the power vacuum of post-2013 Shock and Awe and occupation led to the rise of al-Qaeda in Iraq and eventually ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. But even as Tehran and Washington may have flirted about a joint move against The Caliph, Washington then denied it wanted help and Tehran rejected it outright.

Still, what Rouhani said in New York kept echoing day after day everywhere in Tehran; weaponizing the “new” Free Syrian Army in Saudi Arabia, of all places, amounts “to train another group of terrorists and send them to Syria to fight”. And Washington’s “strategy” is further enabling hardcore Sunni dictators who’ve made their careers demonizing Shi’ites.

And then that other “unofficial” Caliph, neo-Ottoman Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stepped in; there would be no use of Turkish “territory” or “military bases” by the “coalition” if “the objective does not also include ousting the Bashar al-Assad regime”. Who needs Caliph Erdogan to fight Caliph Ibrahim? Major General Qassem Suleimani, head of the Iranian Quds Force, can do it; his picture, side by side with Kurdish peshmergas, made a splash all over Iran when published by IRINN.

The cinema shows us what our consciousness is. Our consciousness is an effect of montage – It’s a collage. There is only collage, cutting and splicing. This explains fairly well what Jean-Francois Lyotard calls the disappearance of the great narratives. Classless society, social justice – no one believes in them anymore. We’re in the age of micro-narratives, the art of the fragment.

The joy of Laleh park – a Persian park crisscrossed by stray Persian cats as well as accomplished volleyball and badminton players and pram-pushing families. That’s where Arash Darya-Bandari, medievalist extraordinaire with many years spent in the Bay Area, gives me a crash course on the finer points of one of the great surviving narratives; Shi’ism and Khomeini’s concept of velayat-e-faqih. In Pure Non-War terms, this was always supposed to be about social justice. And that’s why it’s unintelligible to turbo-capitalism.

The park as Agora; a garden of intellectual delights. Nearly all my top conversations took place walking across or around Laleh park. And then one night, I went for a solitary walk, just to find a revolutionary movie/performance on a makeshift stage, complete with a trench and mortars. An audience of a few solitary men and some scattered families. The cinema keeping the consciousness of the Iran-Iraq war alive.

The end of deterrence corresponds to the beginning of the information war, a conflict where the superiority of information is more important than the capability to inflict damage.

The New Horizon conference could not but be about information war. The overall theme was the fight against the Zionist lobby. Everyone knows what the lobby means and how it operates, especially in the US. And yet, in my short interventions, at the Foreign Ministry and at the conference, I preferred to focus on its global financial/economic reach. Follow the money. That’s the only way to pierce the lobby’s seemingly invincible armory.

Another face of information war. Everywhere I went, I had the pleasure to see how Gareth Porter’s book – Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iranian Nuclear Scare – was received as a blessing. The book was translated into Farsi by the Fars News Agency, in only two months, with meticulous care, and launched in a simple ceremony.

It’s bound to become a best seller – as it conclusively proves, for instance, how the Iranian “plot” to equip missiles with nuclear warheads was entirely fabricated by the terrorist outfit Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and then handed over to the International Atomic Energy Agency by the Mossad. Contrast the respect shown to Gareth in Tehran to the wall of silence of its US reception – just another reflection of the 35-year-old “wilderness of mirrors” opposing Washington to Tehran.

Predictably, the usual illiterate morons in the US dubbed the conference as an “anti-Semite hate fest”. Gareth was described as “an anti-Israel journalist” and myself as “a Brazilian anti-Israel journalist”. Obviously the moronic inferno is not familiar with the concept of “foreign policy”.

Space is no longer in geography – it’s in electronics. Unity is in the terminals. It’s in the instantaneous time of command posts, multinational headquarters, control towers, etc. Politics is less in physical space than in the time systems administered by various technologies. ? There is a movement from geo- to chronopolitics: the distribution of territory becomes the distribution of time. The distribution of territory is outmoded, minimal.

Time to go to the bazaar – the ultimate urban distribution of territory. At the main entrance, a gaggle brandishing calculators and pieces of paper is involved in an incredible racket. With Roberto Quaglia – author of a wicked debunking of the 9/11 saga – we joke this looks like a slaves market. Not really. This is nothing less than a futures market on the course of the rial. With the national currency fluctuating so much because of the sanctions – it lost three quarters of its value in the past few years – the chance to make a bundle is irresistible.

We meet the beautiful Zahra – she sells handmade towels but is essentially a killer fashion photographer. And then the ritual I’ve loved since forever; haggling for the perfect tribal rug. In this case, a Zaghol from the 1930s, never to be reproduced because the local nomads are becoming sedentary and there are no new weavers. A case of distribution of territory becoming the distribution of (lost) time.

The Pharaohs, the Romans, the Greeks were surveyors. That was geopolitics. We’re no longer there, we’re in chronopolitics. Organization, prohibitions, interruptions, orders, powers, structurings, subjections are now in the realm of temporality. And that’s also where resistance should be.

Which lead us, once again, to sanctions. Much had been made of what Rouhani told Austrian President Hans Fisher at the UN – about Iran being ready to deliver gas to the European Union. That’s not happening tomorrow; the last figure I had, in Tehran, years ago, is that the country would need at least US$200 billion in investments to upgrade its energy infrastructure. Rouhani was forced to clarify it. And Tehran won’t sell itself to the EU on the cheap.

The end of sanctions is all about chronopolitics.

We have entered an age of large-scale terrorism. Just as we speak of petty delinquency and major delinquency, I think the same should be said of petty and major terrorism. … The military-industrial and scientific complexes continue to function on their own momentum. It’s a crazy engine that won’t stop.

Tehran thinks about the crazy engine all the time. I’m sort of “kidnapped” from a meeting and end up in a small think tank with a fabulous map on the wall detailing the US command centers. All the students are eager to know what the Empire is really up to with Iran.

A visit to the “nest of spies” – the former US embassy – is also inevitable. An apotheosis of 1970s technology – immaculately preserved like nowhere else in the world; radio equipment, proto-computers, telephones, telexes, rolodexes, a “forgery room” for fake passports. No wonder Washington could never recover from the loss of this sterling listening post of the whole Middle East. Will this building ever be a “normal” US embassy again? Someone should ask the hick Hamlet who almost turned into a mad bomber.

This is why the airport today has become the new city. People are no longer citizens, they’re passengers in transit. No longer a nomad society, in the sense of the great nomadic drifts, but one concentrated on the vector of transportation. The new capital is … a city at the intersection of practicabilities of time, in other words, of speed.

The last day had to contain an epiphany. I waited for it all day long – amid myriad interviews and a fabulous Indian lunch in North Tehran with Gareth and Dr Marandi of the Faculty of World Studies, University of Tehran; the ideal Platonic banquet of conviviality and intellect. Then, at night, a mad dash across town to the Rey shrine; working-class neighborhood, foundation stone of Tehran, one of the top pilgrimage sites in Iran alongside Qom and Mashhad.

Aesthetic illumination meets sensorial overload meets spiritual pull – with an extra kick because you’re arguably the only Westerner in sight. Tens of thousands of pilgrims honor the death of Imam Ali’s son-in-law. What’s that thing about the death of grand narratives? Not in deep Iran.

And then it’s all over, as in a Coleridge dream; did I dream this fleeting Persian interlude, or did Tehran dreamed a little dream of me? I’m back to my default mode – the essential passenger in transit; a nomad carpet, a backpack and a boarding pass. Next stop; a faceless city in an intersection of speed.

 

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

The Week in Doom, September 27

That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964Off the keyboard of Surly1

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Burned-Books-3x2 

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on September 28, 2014

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

 

“The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance… In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.”                                                                  ― George Orwell  

 

Seven for Seven

Eternal war got a boost this week. There was a time when the more credulous among us cast a vote for Barack Obama largely because, no matter what he might be, he wasn’t George W. Bush or his infamous handler. Any thoughts that the two were intrinsically different in terms of foreign-policy, was put to rest this week as the US and its “allies” rained airstrikes on targets in Iraq and Syria.  The man who campaigned on a platform of “hope and change” appeared at the UN this week to utter of ISIS:

“The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force.” 

Having been thwarted last year in Syria by Vladimir Putin, Obama ramped up the rhetoric in order to stampede the recalcitrants to get with the program:

“There can be no reasoning, no negotiation, with this brand of evil,” Obama told the General Assembly. In a striking shift for a president who has been reluctant to take military action in the past, Obama declared that force is the only language the militants understand. He warned those who have joined their cause to “leave the battlefield while they can.”

Previously it seemed that Obama wanted to wind down the foreign wars, in response to the war weariness and general bankruptcy of the American public. But the existential threat presented by what is being marketed as the Islamic State has already sucked Obama back into Levantine conflicts and the middle of Syria’s intractable civil war. A few months ago, Obama had a timetable for extraction of US forces from the endless GWOT-wars he was bequeathed.  Perhaps he underestimated the reach and the connections of the neocon embeds salted away in the bowels of his foreign-policy apparatus. They were not to be denied. Let’s recall what the agenda was in 2007:

 

…a tantalizing passage in Wesley Clark’s new memoir suggests that another war is part of a long-planned Department of Defense strategy that anticipated “regime change” by force in no fewer than seven Mideast states. Critics of the war have often voiced suspicions of such imperial schemes, but this is the first time that a high-ranking former military officer has claimed to know that such plans existed.

In “A Time to Lead: For Duty, Honor and Country,”  the former four-star general recalls two visits to the Pentagon following the terrorist attacks of September 2001. On the first visit, less than two weeks after Sept. 11, he writes, a “senior general” told him, “We’re going to attack Iraq. The decision has basically been made.”

Six weeks later, Clark returned to Washington to see the same general and inquired whether the plan to strike Iraq was still under consideration. The general’s response was stunning:

“‘Oh, it’s worse than that,’ he said, holding up a memo on his desk. ‘Here’s the paper from the Office of the Secretary of Defense [then Donald Rumsfeld] outlining the strategy. We’re going to take out seven countries in five years.’ And he named them, starting with Iraq and Syria and ending with Iran.”

While Clark doesn’t name the other four countries, he has mentioned in televised interviews that the hit list included Lebanon, Libya, Somalia and Sudan.

Check, check, check, and check. The agenda for the Project for a New American Century (PNAC)  still alive and well.  And while we’re shaking off the intoxication of the constant propaganda, never forget that ALL of this “Islamic State™” mayhem is the direct consequence of neocon policy: blowback from the arming and training jihadists by the US and its allies in an effort to overthrow Assad. If you’re scoring at home, you might recall that it was Assad’s government battling the jihadists as they demonstrated ninth-century Islamic justice for today’s audiences by cutting off the heads of Syrians for being Christian, Kurdish, Shia, or insufficiently Muslim.  Corpmedia has only recently have taken note of the beheadings since Westerners have been beheaded, (the crucifixions were a deft touch, yes?) while studiously ignoring the blowback.

And those entities who have catapulted the armed ISIS PR juggernaut into the headlines will employ their pliant middlemen to keep them there. From statements like those of hired errand boy David Cameron, one might infer the elites are becoming a bit restive about this Internet thingy, since the proles are discovering that their mistrust and disdain for manufactured narratives is shared by thousands of others. At the UN this week, Cameron affirmed the elites’ belief that “non-violent extremism” is just as dangerous as terrorism and must be eradicated using all means at the government’s disposal. 


To defeat ISIL – and organisations like it – we must defeat this ideology in all its forms.

As evidence emerges about the backgrounds of those convicted of terrorist offences, it is clear that many of them were initially influenced by preachers who claim not to encourage violence, but whose world view can be used as a justification for it. We know this world view.

The peddling of lies: that 9/11 was a Jewish plot or that the 7/7 London attacks were staged. The idea that Muslims are persecuted all over the world as a deliberate act of Western policy. The concept of an inevitable clash of civilisations.

We must be clear: to defeat the ideology of extremism we need to deal with all forms of extremism – not just violent extremism.

 

Cameron makes much of how Britain will “do its part,” by providing not only a military role but by getting its house in order at home:

For our part, in the United Kingdom, we are introducing new powers.

To strengthen our ability to seize passports and stop suspects travelling.

To allow us to strip British identity from dual nationals and temporarily prevent some British nationals getting back into our country.

To ensure that airlines comply with our no fly lists and security screening requirements.

And to enable our police and our security services to apply for stronger locational constraints on those in the UK who pose a risk.

 

Love those “locational restraints” dreamed up by these children of the Enlightenment. Nothing says “freedom” and “liberty” like locational restraint and other forms of militarized governmental goonery. (See Ferguson, Occupy, et al.).

 

The BillO Brigade

Meanwhile, in the department of people willing to fight the next war down to your last son or daughter, Fox news walking tantrum Bill O’Reilly called for President Obama to raise an anti-terror mercenary army to defeat Islamic State militants, the “boots on the ground” needed to address the deficiencies in Obama’s air assault. No doubt O’Reilly relied upon his own many years of military service (none) and deep experience as a war planner (uh, no.)  The use of mercenary forces has been outlawed by the U.N. General Assembly,  but that is the kind of quibble usually raised by the wrong kinds of people. Also no matter that O’Reilly’s expert guest, U.S. Naval War College Professor Tom Nichols, Ph.D., a national security expert, refuted BillO’s plan. Nichols explained that “it is a morally corrosive idea to try to outsource our national security,” a notion that will itself  come as a “terrible,” “immoral” idea to Blackwater scion Erik Prince.

“Well, Bill, I understand your frustration. I really do. But this is a terrible idea, a terrible idea not just as a practical matter but a moral matter. It’s a morally corrosive idea to try to outsource our national security. This is something Americans are going to have to deal for themselves. We’re not going to solve this problem by creating an army of Marvel Avengers or the Guardians of the Galaxy…There’s nothing theoretical about it. It’s the worst of both worlds. You’re asking these forces to operate as though they’re U.S. military forces and you’re treating them as though they’re mercenaries merely because you don’t want to have to use American military forces. And I think that that undermines the whole notion of our own security. “

To the barracades, citizens…

Tomorrow Belongs to Me: the Colorado Curriculum Edition

Another front in the war to “keep society intact” was opened in Colorado this week. In response to a conservative school board led proposal that history education should “promote patriotism and respect for authority,” hundreds of  insufficiently respectful students walked out of  suburban Denver classrooms on Tuesday in protest. The youth protest involved six high schools in and follows a sick-out from teachers that shut down a couple of high schools in the politically and economically diverse area. The AP reported that

The school board proposal that triggered the walkouts in Jefferson County calls for instructional materials that present positive aspects of the nation and its heritage. It would establish a committee to regularly review texts and course plans, starting with Advanced Placement history, to make sure materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights” and don’t “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”

And we’ve already seen how unpatriotic and deserving of wholesale assault our attempts to exercise First Amendment rights.  Interestingly, none of the proposal advanced by Julie Williams, a member of the board’s conservative majority, calls for the reinstitution of civics education, such that students might know how their government works and what their rights actually are under the Constitution. As history has taught, educated people are insufficiently pliable.

“It’s chilling,” said school board member Lesley Dahlkemper, who typically clashes with the conservative majority. “Does it mean Jeffco will no longer study the civil rights movement, the Boston Tea Party or women’s suffrage?”

It probably means that the Boston Tea Party will be taught as the free enterprise system’s response to the over regulation and taxation of the nanny state. After all, something in the AP curriculum will have to be jettisoned in order to make way for Austrian economics. Fortunately for the Republic, Charlie Pierce is patrolling the perimeter and provides a useful last word:

Luckily, the kids in Colorado’s AP History classes are smarter about history than Ms. Williams and her colleagues, who were, I hasten to add, freely elected. And that’s why you should vote, every time and in every election, no matter how apparently minor the office or how apparently insignificant the issue. You never know who’s breaking in.

Vote.

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Acting Like it Never Happened

On the fourth Friday of every month, my friend Al, known around the Diner as Jaded Prole, hosts a meeting at the home he shares with a local artist.  It is a meeting of various progressives, former Occupiers, actors, academics, misfits and left-wing veterans of a certain age.  We meet for snacks and drinks, and especially good conversation.  This past Friday, conversation at this salon revolved around the climate change march held in New York City the previous weekend. Several of our number were there and shared firsthand accounts and photos from the event. Corpmedia studiously ignored the many, many thousands of people involved in the March. 

Sunday news shows on NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox failed to cover the People’s Climate March, a massive protest against climate change being held September 21 in New York City in conjunction with events in more than 150 countries worldwide.

Meet the Press, Face the Nation, State of the Union, and Fox News Sunday ignored the event, which is being touted by participants as “the largest mobilization against climate change in the history of the planet.” The Nation editor and publisher Katrina vandenHeuvel briefly mentioned the march on ABC’s This Week while arguing that national security concerns surrounding climate change are not receiving adequate attention.

 

Our first-hand accounts related how slowly the march moved. The reason it moved slowly was the crush of participants–there were so damned many people there. Reportedly even Fox News pegged the number at 310,000, and reasonable estimates put the number at 400,000 souls. The march moved slowly, but did move. NPR gave the march and the UN climate meeting some coverage, which was more than most.

Skeptics ask the point of the march. Others said there was no agenda. The march was not merely intended for consumption of the UN conferees, or media.  It demonstrated that it is still possible to rouse a significant crowd in a mass rally for an important enough issue. Marchers got to see one other, to be validated in what is often a solitary burden of conscience, and to know that others share their concerns in the face of the ceaseless propaganda of the extractive industries.

Inevitably the talk turned to climate change and its deeply unsettling consequences.  We discussed the work of Jason Box, the black ice in Greenland, the changing albedo of the Arctic, the melting glaciers, the corporate assault on fresh water, of Guy McPherson’s prediction that in 30 years we’ll all be dead, and we ought be living our lives doing hospice work. Someone observed that earth will be fine, it’s us human beings that will be screwed.  At least one of our number stayed for the #floodWallStreet event the following day which featured the usual hospitality of the NYPD as well as the arrest of a polar bear.

What I took away from this discussion, aside from gratitude to my colleagues for making a presence when I could not, was gratitude that it is still possible to mass people in the streets for an important public issue.  We discussed the formula by which policymakers weigh public response: an email worth five voters, a phone call worth 10 voters, a letter worth 50 voters, somebody bothering to show up at a civic meeting and weigh-in worth 100.  By that measure, at least 40 million fellow Americans hold with those who showed up for the climate March last Sunday.  You’d think that even the dimmest bulb in Jerusalem-on-the-Potomac would pay attention. But Louie Gohmert was unavailable for comment.

 

***

Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, articles and spittle-flecked invective on this site, and quit barking and got off the porch long enough to be briefly active in the Occupy movement. He shares a home in Southeastern Virginia with Contrary and is grateful each day for the life he has with her, and that he is not yet taking a dirt nap.

 

This Week In Doom August 19, 2014

That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964Off the keyboard of Surly1

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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on August 19, 2014

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Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

It was a week in which several horsemen of the apocalypse decamped, suitable booted and spurred, for a ride through the end stages of post-industrial “civilization.” Certainly War, Pestilence and Death each hoisted themselves atop their respective steeds and heralded their news in different quarters, all against a continuing backdrop of climate change and the accompanying chorus of denials from monied interests. And then there is Ferguson, the doom gift that keeps on giving, in the words of RE. Such was the week that it took two weeks to write this column. I began last week with a handful of stories and a surly attitude, and found that I couldn’t complete the column, such did events outstrip the narrative. Weirdnesses began to peek around corners, demanding revisions.  Given that a creative project is not so much completed  as abandoned, I’m abandoning this overwritten son of a bitch right here.

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“Bring it. You fucking animals, bring it…”

For those who studiously the posture of a head in the sand regarding our national security state and the militarization of local police, events in Ferguson, Missouri this week should have roused even you from your torpor. Or would have, were anybody actually able to learn from events. As anyone not living in a cave knows by now, apparently a police officer shot and killed an unarmed 18-year-old.  Michael Brown was black, his assailant white. Anyone who lived through the 60s and 70s will be able to predict a community’s response to the sort of outrage, but this time the institutional response looks very different. And in Ferguson, the balaclava is pulled back to reveal the snarling face of the weaponized, militarized, national security state in full priapic fury.

By now, thousands of words (and podcasts) have been dumped upon the landfill that passes for public consciousness, by people writing from the safety of armchairs. It will take time to sift through the evidence.  The autopsy reveals Brown was shot six times, with two in the head. Cue the riots.  And, as if it were the 60s again, Nixon sends in the National Guard. Cue the riots.  Security footage is released that seems to demonstrate that Brown was a thug. Cue the riots.  Obama is going to send Eric Holder to Missouri, along with a gaggle of his Best Minds,  doubtless to bring the sword of justice to bear as it was against the scions of Wall Street and their financial improprieties. (What, you missed that?)

There is little difference in the appearance of the helmeted, militarized, camo – clad forces occupying Ferguson from troops in Afghanistan or Iraq. Intimidation being precisely the point. A report from the ground:

Their uniform would be mistaken for a soldier’s if it weren’t for their “Police” patches. They wear green tops, and pants fashioned after the U.S. Marine Corps MARPAT camouflage pattern. And they stand in front of a massive uparmored truck called a Bearcat, similar in look to a mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, or as the troops who rode in them call it, the MRAP.

When did this become OK? When did “protect and serve” turn into “us versus them”?

“Why do these cops need MARPAT camo pants again,” I asked on Twitter this morning. One of the most interesting responses came from a follower who says he served in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division: “We rolled lighter than that in an actual warzone.”

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A war zone, indeed. The FAA banned flights of low-flying aircraft, the better to keep out news photography teams and their troublesome “evidence.”

The scene is tense, but the presence of what looks like a military force doesn’t seem to be helping.

“Bring it. You fucking animals, bring it,” one police officer was caught on video telling protesters. In Ferguson and beyond, it seems that some police officers have shed the blue uniform and have put on the uniform and gear of the military, bringing the attitude along with it.

If there’s one thing I learned in Afghanistan, it’s this: You can’t win a person’s heart and mind when you are pointing a rifle at his or her chest.

The words of Gen. William Westmoreland reverberates at about this time: “when you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.”

then and now

 One of the issues being addressed here is the provision of military hardware to local constabularies.  This bit of purposeless and unnecessary largesse is conducted by the Defense Logistics Agency, or DLA.  This group apparently transfers excess military hardware to localities. And local cops, fattened by the proceeds from asset forfeiture laws, simply don’t know how to say no, particularly when the guys in the next county got an MRAP or an LRAD of their own.  Who wants to look weak?  Good question to ask is, who is paying for all this boodle? You already know the answer.  The activities of DLA  are made possible by a bloated, out-of-control procurement system that buys far more equipment than even the Empire’s military can possibly use. Reform of the procurement process is one of those “third rail” topics that will end your promising congressional career if you bring it up. Much like criticism of the Zionist apartheid state in that regard; too hot to handle. And the lucky beneficiaries of this bundle of taxpayer funded largesse? The large weapons manufacturers, of course, the people with their thumbs on the scales of American foreign-policy, and, as Ferguson clearly shows, American domestic policy as well

  ***

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Ebola

In the face of the worst outbreak ever on the African continent, Ebola panic hit the US whens several sufferers were shipped to the US mainland for treatment. Usually hard-to-nonpluss New Yawkers became unglued as an incipient public health emergency was sent air freight live and direct to our shores. As Gwynn Guilford said in Quartz,

If your Twitter feed is anything like mine, news that Ebola might have turned up in Manhattan is freaking out a lot of Americans“Helpful” bits of commentary include as that it’s “deadly uncurable,” has a 90% fatality rate, and causes “a hemorrhagic fever that eventually leads to a complete bleed-out.” Today’s news merely amplifies the anxiety that’s been building since word got out that two Americans infected with Ebola have been moved to US hospitals for treatment.

And as if on cue, prominent US right-wingers, such as one D. Trump of said Manhattan,  fanned the flames of fear.

Thus, we have Donald Trump freaking out about having Ebola patients brought to the United States for treatment; Rush Limbaugh suggesting that bringing these patients to the US has something to do with the “Democrat agenda”; conservative doctor Ben Carson worrying that a container of Ebola-contaminated urine or vomit will “get disseminated out into the public”; and Republican Rep. Todd Rokita implying that immigrant children arriving from Central America might have Ebola.

While the Ebola outbreak is significant, some perspective is useful. Worldwide, Ebola has killed @2500 souls. Influenza has killed millions. Also Ebola is not that easy to catch—it isn’t an airborne infection, regardless of what some irresponsible pundits have said—and any country with half-decent health infrastructure can easily isolate patients and stop the disease from spreading. A primary reason it has traveled so easily in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea is that their health infrastructure is truly bad. Running out of rubber gloves and dumping corpses along river banks are simply not first world problems. Yet. And for more perspective, from Quartz:

Scott Z. Burns, who wrote the screenplay for Contagion, notes that Americans tend to freak out about “the monster we can see”—in this case, that would mean the gruesome images of Ebola victims bleeding from their faces—while ignoring more familiar but no less deadly risksHe has a point; thanks to the anti-vaccine movement, measles cases in the US have surged nearly fourfold since last year.

Or the above-mentioned influenza, which WILL kill you. Yet for all that, on Saturday we had the specter of a mob looting an Ebola center in West Point, Liberia, stealing contaminated equipment, bloodstained mattresses and sheets, according to the Associated Press. An estimated 37 patients fled during the raid, 20 of whom have returned with  17 patients still missing, per AP.  A sobering thought to keep in mind is that, from Monrovia, the disease can take a plane anywhere in the world. And apparently India is already preparing;  The Delhi airport has already set up a facility for people with suspected cases of Ebola. This one bears watching.
***

HOUNDS OF HELL

What makes ISIL the worst. “Simply put, ISIL is an unholy combination of al-Qaeda, the Khmer Rouge, and the Nazis,” writes Bobby Ghosh, and the minorities in its sights in Kurdistan are at risk of genuine, old-fashioned genocide. For those of us inured to the obeisance and compliance of the usual stenographers to power, one reads this with the usual caverats, grains of salt tossed to the four winds. Cue the Reichstag fire, the Maine, the rape of Belgium, the atrocities against Kuwaiti infants, the Gulf of Tonkin…

Yet the Islamic State demands a second look, if for no reason than their tweets.  And lest we chalk ISIL up to a social media marketing effort whose effectiveness is abetted and amplified by the national security state, there is this troubling matter of how much real estate they occupied almost overnight at the expense of the hapless Maliki regime. Apparently Iraqi soldiers threw down their weapons and stripped off their unis at the approach of the Sunni army. Haven’t we seen this movie before? President Droney McDrone authorized “humanitarian” bombing of ISIL sites and airdrops of food and water to an embattled Yazidi minority.

So much for nation-building. Could have rebuilt Detroit for what we spent in Iraq, but then Halliburton and KBR, etc. wouldn’t have fattened on no-bid contracts.

The fact that ISIS could arise seemingly out of nowhere speaks to the incompetence of our intelligence establishment, which seems to be spending most of its resources sifting through Americans’ personal communications for naked selfies from hot girls to trade.

But to return to Bobby Ghosh, who takes the threat seriously:

For sheer, brutal efficiency, ISIL is several steps above Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram or even the Taliban. The closest analog I can think of is the Khmer Rouge, the Cambodian movement that killed more than two million people in the mid-1970s. There was a reminder of those horrors this week, when two top Khmer Rouge leaders were finally sentenced for their crimes. In their remorseless advance through eastern Syria and northern Iraq, ISIL’s fighters have demonstrated the same iron will and discipline that Khmer Rouge deployed against the Cambodian army and the Cambodian people. In territory Al-Baghdadi controls, he uses the same tactics of intimidation and public punishment that Pol Pot used to cow his fellow Cambodians.

In its appetite for genocide, ISIL seems to borrow from Adolf Hitler’s Nazis. It, too, has identified for extermination entire categories of people. Its fighters have systematically rounded up groups of “unbelievers”—and remember, that can mean anybody, including their fellow Sunnis—and slaughtered them in a manner Heinrich Himmler would have approved of. If the disturbing photographs (and be warned, they are very disturbing) in this Washington Post story were in grainy black-and-white, they could have come from a Nazi death camp. And online videos of these mass killings clearly show the zealous glee with which the executioners go about the work. 

That, then, is the nature of the monster on which the US is finally turning its guns. It will not die easily.

Those whom ISIL has already crucified or beheaded will probably not agree that this is an NSA-sponsored propaganda effort. It appears that in spite of the sheer fecklessness and state-sponsored waste of the surveillance state, there really are people who want us all dead. But who are they? This from a French site, who claims that the nominal “caliph,” al-Baghdadi, is a Mossad mole: (if you visit the site, turn on Google translate)

[The] real name Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is ” Simon Elliott, “father and Jewish mother.

The so-called “Elliott” was recruited by Israel’s Mossad for one year during which he was trained in espionage and in the field to conduct a destructive strategy of Arab and Islamic societies.

This information was attributed to Edward Snowden and published by newspapers and other sites Web : the leader of the “Islamic State” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has cooperated with the United States Secret Service, British and Israelis to create an organization capable of attracting terrorist extremists around the world in one place.

***

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MH 17- Down The Memory Hole

As we are putting the finishing touches on this article, the spectacle that was Malasian airlines flight MH 17 recedes from the news cycles. As the wreckage was still smoldering, official Washington and Eurozone apparatchiks were declaring, without fear of contradiction, that Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine had downed the plane with a surface to air missile. Making Vlad the Impaler and mother Russia ultimately responsible. Bad bad Russia.

But the evidence to date is not supported this theory. Indeed, where is the evidence? A mighty surveillance state with the ability to sift through every private communication such that the NSA contractors entrusted with enforcing “national security” are able to amass a collection of naked selfies to trade like baseball cards, is not able to produce undeniable photographic, radar, and satellite evidence of what really happened eastern Ukraine on that day? Are we supposed to believe that our intelligence apparatus is this incompetent? If not, can we get an accounting for several trillion dollars?

Flight MH– 17’s black boxes were supposed to be analyzed in London. Have you heard the report of what the impartial British government learned from its examination? Me neither. In the always dependable Washington’s Blog, Eric Zuesse made a compelling argument:

Only idiots would trust Britain to interpret these black boxes to determine what and who brought down that plane. But, fortunately, the physical evidence lying on the ground at the site in Ukraine was photographed very quickly by locals there and uploaded to the Internet sometimes before any fighters and any governments were able to tamper with anything; and there happened to be one modest-looking item found at the site that tells a remarkably complete and entirely credible and convincing account of how this plane came down.

Photographic evidence that remains show the fragments of the cockpit that impact wounds consistent with 30 mm machine gun fire entering the cockpit.

Zuesse again:

On July 30th, the retired Lufthansa pilot and published historian Peter Haisenko issued his “Shocking Analysis of the ‘Shooting Down’ of Malaysian MH17,” in which an extremely close-in photo of the most important piece of physical evidence regarding this event is shown — it’s the side-panel on the left-hand side of the cockpit directly where the downed plane’s pilot was seated — and this photo shocked me, too.

Here, first, is that side-panel shown inserted back onto its airliner, so that you can see precisely what and where this piece of the wreckage was on the plane. You will immediately notice the big gaping hole that had been shot through the side-panel where the pilot sits — in other words, targeting directly  at the plane’s pilot.

This is incredibly precise targeting, of a specific person, and not merely  of the far larger body of an airliner. A ground-based missile-shot fired from 33,000 feet below cannot achieve that gaping hole precisely where the pilot sits. A fighter jet plane that’s escorting the airliner into the conflict-zone can. 

Reports indicate that the cockpit and fuselage had been sawed in half and many pieces removed before international inspection teams arrived. In fact, last week the Dutch inspection team left in disgust, unable to see or inspect much of the crash site. And you have to go to  the World Socialist website to find this particular piece of information, which in this country might as well be a state secret:

A Thursday article in the New Straits Times, Malaysia’s flagship English-language newspaper, charged the US- and European-backed Ukrainian regime in Kiev with shooting down Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17 in east Ukraine last month. Given the tightly controlled character of the Malaysian media, it appears that the accusation that Kiev shot down MH17 has the imprimatur of the Malaysian state.

The US and European media have buried this remarkable report, which refutes the wave of allegations planted by the CIA in international media claiming that Russian president Vladimir Putin was responsible for the destruction of MH17, without presenting any evidence to back up this charge.

The New Straits Times article began, “Intelligence analysts in the United States have already concluded that Malaysia flight MH17 was shot down by an air-to-air missile, and that the Ukrainian government had had something to do with it. This corroborates an emerging theory postulated by local investigators that the Boeing 777-200 was crippled by an air-to-air missile and finished off with cannon fire from a jet that had been shadowing it as it plummeted to earth.”

 

 This conclusion is, of course, at sharp variance  with the intentions of our foreign-policy establishment and its war munitions paymasters  to foment war with Russia.  Journalist Pepe Escobar has written effectively about that here. Of course, our best people in London are still on the case prying open the secrets of that black box. Stay tuned.

***

Summer Soap Opera

August is typically the time for family vacations, the song of the cicadas, campfires and sweet summer corn.  Congress typically goes on its richly deserved vacation, thus keeping the wallets of average Americans safe for another five weeks. Typically a slow news time. But in the Commonwealth of Virginia, God save it, not this year.  We have the spectacle of the corruption trial of indicted and disgraced former Virginia Governor Transvaginal Ultrasound (Robert McDonnell) and his former cheerleader wife, Maureen. (And for those just joining this overheated screed, the epithet “transvaginal ultrasound” is applied to this former state servant in perpetuity, in tribute to the war on women, specifically on women’s reproductive health that he and his personal Iago, former Atty. Gen. Ken Cuccinelli, waged on Virginia women several years ago.  In some circles, especially my own, this ruse was to redirect the energy of activists away from the real agenda, the privatization of state assets and to enablement of uranium mining in Virginia.)

In the aftermath of the 2012 presidential elections, a highly placed McCain aide was supposed to have described the Palins as a gaggle of “Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcuses from coast to coast”  on the campaign credit card. When considering the McDonnells, or should I say the Ultrasounds, think “Palins East.”  And as revealed by the federal prosecution’s case, there is is a breathtaking series of interlocking scams and grifts,  particularly in obtaining cash and “favors” from one Jonny Williams that would make La Palin herself blush with envy.  (If you would like to follow the actual reporting of this trial, it is done in exemplary fashion by Bill Sizemore and Joanna Kimberlin of our local paper, who have filed stories here, here, here, and here.)  Suffice it to say that Mr. Williams owned a dietary supplement company, and conferred favors upon the first couple in order to gain access and exposure for his products. Or so the prosecution alleges.  Gifts and favors included payment for a daughter’s wedding reception, use of a Ferrari, long stays in a Smith Mountain Lake vacation home, and numerous “loans” and gifts, including a Rolex watch that Maureen admired and requested for her husband. Maureen’s chief of staff, who quit on her, described her as a “nutbag,” thus making La Palin look a paragon of decorum.

Here’s what the defense alleges: that the formerly loving first couple were in fact estranged, and that Maureen  sought most of these favors by herself without the knowledge of her ostensibly too-busy-to-pay-attention husband. The defense team has concocted a remarkable bit of legal theater for the consumption us in the cheap seats. The former family values candidate is revealed as a man only too willing to do anything, including throw his wife under the proverbial bus, to salvage and resuscitate his dead in the water political career. Maureen is supposed to take the fall for the busy, busy guv.  He enters the courtroom all smiles and waves; she enters, gray-headed and head bowed, the better to portray shame.   The Guv is seated facing the jury; she sits sideways, head bowed. The narrative the defense is portraying is that the couple was so estranged that they could not have colluded in the extraction of favors from Williams.  Recent testimony, from the current mayor of Virginia Beach and president of a local bank, reveals that in the refinancing of loans for properties in Sandbridge, the Ultrasounds neglected to disclose some of these loans. Apparently that’s a felony. Whoopsie…

As I said, you need to read the reporting yourself to keep track of the many ins and outs. Several questions remain: how did they manage to seat a jury for this trial in one day? Between them, the Ultrasounds have a team of 20 lawyers, the best of whom bill at over $750 per hour. Who’s paying for this? If the Ultrasounds are so financially strapped as they testify, it certainly can’t be them. The so-called legal defense fund only has $250K, and simple arithmetic reveals that will soon run dry.  And did Gov. Transvaginal Ultrasound and his wife get the idea that vitamin supplements might be a good and remunerative idea from his mentor and patron, Pat Robertson? You may recall that in between fleecing elderly widows out of their last quarter and standing up charitable African healthcare efforts in order to provide cover for air shipment of African blood diamonds back to the states, Robertson had a hand in a vitamin business himself. A cursory search with the Google shows no connection between Star Scientific, Jonny Williams, and Pat Robertson’s vitamin company, called Kalo Vita. Yet one wonders…

It says here that when all is said and done, the Gov walks. The primary modifier for the phrase “Virginia ethics laws” is “lax.”  All the Gov crackerjack defense team needs to do is create reasonable doubt in the minds of the hastily seated jury, a low bar. Look for former Gov. Transvaginal Ultrasound to head the Republican Party as its presidential candidate in 2024, accompanied by a sleek new spouse.  And Maureen? There are no laws prohibiting a spouse or relative from profiting from a husband’s (or father’s) public office in Virginia. Craven? Yes? Shameless? Undoubtedly. But BAU in Virginia.

The defense presents its case this week.

***

Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, articles and spittle-flecked invective on this site, and has been active in the Occupy movement. He shares a home in Southeastern Virginia with Contrary and is delighted his daughter got back safely from St. Louis last week.

 

 

Global Nausea

From the keyboard of James Howard Kunstler

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Originally Published on Clusterfuck Nation August 11, 2014

Any American influence left in Iraq should focus on rebuilding the credibility of national institutions.

– Editorial, The New York Times

Gosh, isn’t that what we spent eight years, 4,500 lives, and $1.7 trillion doing? And how did that work out? The Iraq war is just like the US financial system. The people in charge can’t imagine writing off their losses. Which, from the policy standpoint, leaves the USA pounding sand down so many rat holes that there may be no ground left to stand on anywhere. We’ll be lucky if our national life doesn’t soon resemble The Revenge of the Mole People.

The arc of this story points to at least one likely conclusion: the dreadful day that ISIS (shorthand for whatever they call themselves) overruns the US Green Zone in Baghdad. Won’t that be a nauseating spectacle? Perhaps just in time for the 2014 US elections. And what do you suppose the policy meeting will be like in the White House war room the day after?

Will anyone argue that the USA just take a break from further operations in the entire Middle East / North Africa region? My recommendation would be to stand back, do nothing, and see what happens — since everything we’ve done so far just leaves things and lives shattered. Let’s even say that ISIS ends up consolidating power in Iraq, Syria, and some other places. The whole region will get a very colorful demonstration of what it is like to live under an 11th century style psychopathic despotism, and then the people left after the orgy of beheading and crucifixion can decide if they like it. The experience might be clarifying.

In any case, what we’re witnessing in the Middle East — apparently unbeknownst to the newspapers and the cable news orgs — is what happens in extreme population overshoot: chaos, murder, economic collapse. The human population in this desolate corner of the world has expanded on the artificial nutriment of oil profits, which have allowed governments to keep feeding their people, and maintaining an artificial middle class to work in meaningless bureaucratic offices where, at best, they do nothing and, at worst, hassle their fellow citizens for bribes and payoffs.

There is not a nation on earth that is preparing intelligently for the end of oil — and by that I mean 1) the end of cheap, affordable oil, and 2) the permanent destabilization of existing oil supply lines. Both of these conditions should be visible now in the evolving geopolitical dynamic, but nobody is paying attention, for instance, in the hubbub over Ukraine. That feckless, unfortunate, and tragic would-be nation, prompted by EU and US puppeteers, just replied to the latest trade sanction salvo from Russia by declaring it would block the delivery of Russian gas to Europe through pipelines on its territory. I hope everybody west of Dnepropetrovsk is getting ready to burn the furniture come November. But that just shows how completely irrational the situation has become… and I stray from my point.

Which is that in the worst case that ISIS succeeds in establishing a sprawling caliphate, they will never be able to govern it successfully, only preside over an awesome episode of bloodletting and social collapse. This is especially true in what is now called Saudi Arabia, with its sclerotic ruling elite clinging to power. If and when the ISIS maniacs come rolling in on a cavalcade of You-Tube beheading videos, what are the chances that the technicians running the oil infrastructure there will stick around on the job? And could ISIS run all that machinery themselves? I wouldn’t count on it. And I wouldn’t count on global oil supply lines continuing to function in the way the world requires them to. If you’re looking for the near-future spark of World War Three, start there.

By the way, the US is no less idiotic than Ukraine. We’ve sold ourselves the story that shale oil will insulate us from all the woes and conflicts breaking out elsewhere in the world over the dissolving oil economy paradigm. The shale oil story is false. By my reckoning we have about a year left of the drive-to-Walmart-economy before the public broadly gets what trouble we’re in. The amazing thing is that the public might get to that realization even before its political leadership does. That dynamic leads straight to the previously unthinkable (not for 150 years, anyway) breakup of the United States.

 

 

***

James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

 

Arab Spring, Jihad Summer

From the keyboard of Pepe Escobar

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THE ROVING EYE

caliphate

Originally published in Asia Times on July 2, 2014
Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

 

Welcome to IS. No typo; the final goal may be (indiscriminate) regime change, but for the moment name change will do. With PR flair, at the start of Ramadan, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS, or ISIL – the Islamic State of the Levant – to some) solemnly declared, from now on, it will be known as Islamic State (IS). 

“To be or not to be” is so … metaphysically outdated. IS is – andhere it is – in full audio glory. And we’re talking about the full package – Caliph included: “the slave of Allah, Ibrahim Ibn ‘Awwad Ibn Ibrahim Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Muhammad al-Badrial-Hashimi al-Husayni al-Qurashi by lineage, as-Samurra’i by birth and upbringing, al-Baghdadi by residence and scholarship”. Or, to put it more simply, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. 

IS has virtually ordered “historic” al-Qaeda – yes, that 9/11-related (or not) plaything of one Osama bin Laden – as well as every other jihadi outfit on the planet, to pledge allegiance to the new imam, in theological theory the new lord over every Muslim. There’s no evidence Osama’s former sidekick, Ayman “the doctor” al-Zawahiri will obey, not to mention 1.5 billion Muslims across the world. Most probably al-Qaeda will say “we are the real deal” and a major theological catfight will be on.


After all, in Syria, ISIL as well as Jabhat al-Nusra were initially fighting under the banner of al-Qaeda, until the brand – in spectacular fashion – decided to dump al-Baghdadi. He and ISIL went too far – with all those videos of decapitations and crucifixions and serial profanation of Shi’ite, Sufi and Christian sanctuaries. 

Al-Baghdadi, born Ibrahim al-Badri in Samarra, is an average Sunni Iraqi cleric with a degree in pedagogy from the University of Baghdad. His alter ago was born after Shock and Awe in 2003, and soon metamorphosed into a de facto serial killer – blowing up Shi’ite kids at ice-cream shops or scores of women at Shi’ite weddings. 

ISIL’s track record in Syria includes banning every flag apart from its own; the destruction of any “polytheist” temple or sanctuary (except if it is Sunni); and strict imposition of Islamically correct women wear. Most of all, it is a track record of terror. This is not an army, rather a well-trained militia of professional mujahid, European passport holders included, with battlefield experience in Iraq, Afghanistan and, to a lesser degree, Chechnya. Heavy weaponizing is petrodollar-financed – the usual, wealthy “Gulf donors”, which does not exclude official connections. 

Sources of income diversified mightily when ISIL captured the oilfields surrounding Deir Ezzor in Syria; and after the recent offensive across Niniveh province in Iraq, they were able to lay their hands on vast arsenals of heavy artillery, lots of cash and gold bullion and, why not, US Humvees left behind. Their trademark, of course, are those columns of brand new white Toyota Land cruisers – free off road advertising Toyota HQ in Japan may not find particularly welcome. 

Loaded with oil and profiting from tax revenue, IS is now firmly on its way to provide (minimal) services and support a (mighty) Jihadi Army – much like the Taliban from 1996 to 2001. One may be sure IS will continue its massive “social engagement” strategy; talk about a chatty Caliphate which loves YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. No wonder they are a hit among Google generation recruits – as well as becoming fund-raising aces via gruesome videos. In thesis, indoctrination progresses hand in hand with “charity work”; residents of Aleppo, for instance, can dwell on how ISIL (gruesomely) looks and feels on the ground. 

Mission forever unaccomplished
It’s unclear how the new IS reality will play on the ground. The new Caliph has in fact declared a jihad on all that basket of corrupt and/or incompetent Middle East “leaders” – so some fierce “battle for survival” reaction from the Houses of Saud and Thani, for instance, is expected. It’s not far-fetched to picture al-Baghdadi dreaming of lording over Saudi oilfields – after decapitating all Shi’ite workers, of course. 

And that’s just a start; in one of their Tweeter accounts IS has published a map of all the domains they intend to conquer within the span of five years; Spain, Northern Africa, the Balkans, the whole Middle East and large swathes of Asia. Well, they are certainly more ambitious than NATO. 

Being such a courageous bunch, the House of Saud is now tempted to accept that imposing regime change on Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq is a bad idea. That puts them in direct conflict with the Obama administration, whose plan A, B and C is regime change. 

Turkey – the former seat of the Caliphate, by the way – remains mute. No wonder; Ankara – crucially – is the top logistical base of IS. Caliph Erdogan’s got to be musing about his own future, now that he’s facing competition. In theory, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan are all saying they’re ready to fight what would be a “larger-scale war” than that gift that keeps on giving, the original, Cheney junta-coined GWOT (global war on terror). 

And then there’s the future of the new $500 million Obama fund to “appropriately vetted” rebels in Syria, which in fact means the expansion of covert CIA “training facilities” in Jordan and Turkey heavily infiltrated/profited from by IS. Think of hordes of new IS recruits posing as “moderate rebels” getting ready for a piece of the action. 

It’s easier for Brazil to win the World Cup with a team of crybabies with no tactical nous than having US Secretary of State John Kerry and his State Department ciphers understand that the Syrian “opposition” is controlled by jihadis. But then again, they do know – and that perfectly fits into the Empire of Chaos’s not so hidden Global War on Terror (GWOT) agenda of an ever-expanding proxy war in both Syria and Iraq fueled by terror financing. 

So 13 years ago Washington crushed both al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Then the Taliban were reborn. Then came Shock and Awe. Then came “Mission Accomplished”. Then al-Qaeda was introduced in Iraq. Then al-Qaeda was dead because Osama bin Laden was dead. Then came ISIL. And now there’s IS. And we start all over again, not in the Hindu Kush, but in the Levant. With a new Osama. 

What’s not to like? If anyone thinks this whole racket is part of a new live Monty Python sketch ahead of their reunion gig this month in London, that’s because it is.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

Voila: World War Three

From the keyboard of James Howard Kunstler

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isis crucifixion 2
Originally Published on Clusterfuck Nation  June 30, 2014

Whoever really runs things these days for the semi-mummified royal administration down in Saudi Arabia must be leaving skid-marks in his small-clothes thinking about Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his ISIS army of psychopathic killers sweeping hither and thither through what is again being quaintly called “the Levant.” ISIS just concluded an orgy of crucifixions up in Syria over the weekend, the victims being other Islamic militants who were not radical enough, or who had dallied with US support.

Crucifixion sends an interesting and complex message to various parties around this systemically fracturing globe. It’s a step back from the disabling horror of video beheadings, but it still packs a punch. For the Christian West, it re-awakens a certain central cultural narrative that had gone somnolent there for a century or so. ISIS’s message: If you thought the Romans were bad…. Among the human race, you see, the memories linger.

ISIS has successfully shocked the work over the last two weeks by negating eight years, several trillion dollars, and 4,500 battle deaths in the USA’s endeavor to turn Iraq into an obedient oil dispensary. Now they have gone and announced that their conquests of the moment amount to a Caliphate, that is, an Islamic theocracy. In that sense, they are at least out-doing America’s Republican Party, which has been trying to do something similar here from sea to shining sea but finds itself thwarted by hostile blue states on both coasts.

More to the point, the press (another quaint term, I suppose) is not paying any attention whatsoever to what goes down with ISIS and the other states besides Iraq and Syria in the region. I aver to Saudi Arabia especially because Americans seem to regard it as an impregnable bastion against the bloodthirsty craziness spreading over the rest of the Muslim world. Saudi Arabia is, of course, the keystone of OPEC. Saudi Arabia has had the distinction of remaining stable through all the escalating tumult of recent decades, reliably pumping out its roughly 10 million barrels a day like Bossy the cow in America’s oil import barn.

Or seeming to remain stable, I should say, because the Saud family royal administration of mummified rulers and senile princes looks more and more like a Potemkin monarchy every month. 90-year-old King Abdullah has been rumored to be on life support lo these last two years, his successor brothers already dead and gone, and other powerful Arabian clans with leaders who can walk across a room and speak itching to kick this zombie Saud family off the throne. To make matters worse, the Sauds have also managed to sponsor much of the organized Sunni terrorism in the region (around the world, really) in their role as the chief enemy of the Shia ­— as represented by the politicized clergy of Iran.

Things are happening at lightning speed over in the region and beware of how the turmoil spreads from one flashpoint to another. This would be an opportunity for ISIS to put the Saud family on the spot regarding the just-announced Caliphate — as in the question: who really calls the shots for this new theocratic kingdom? (Answer: maybe not you, doddering, mummified, America suck-up Saudi Arabia). What’s more, what happens to the other kingdoms and rickety states in that corner of the world? For instance, Lebanon, which has been a sort of political demolition derby for three decades. The founder of the group al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), pre-cursor to ISIS, was the Lebanese Abu Mus‘ab al-Zarqawi — blown up in a USA air strike some years ago. Lebanon has been under the sway of Hezbollah for a decade and Hezbollah is sponsored by Shi’ite Iran, making it an enemy of ISIS. Might ISIS roll westward over Hezbollah now to capture the pearl of the Mediterranean (or what’s left of it) Beirut? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Then there’s Jordan, and it’s youngish King Abdullah, another notorious USA ass-kisser. Those crucifixion photos coming out of Syria must be making him a little loose in the bowels. And, of course, Syria, where this whole thing started, is a smoldering rump-roast of a state. And finally, that bugbear in the bull’s-eye of the old Levant: Israel.

It is miraculous that Israel has managed so far to stay out of the way of this juggernaut. Of course, among its chief enemies are Hezbollah and Hezbollah’s foster father, Iran, which happen to be the enemy of ISIS and, of course, in that part of the world the enemy of my enemy is my ally — though, I’m sorry, it’s rather impossible to imagine Israel getting all chummy with the psychopaths of ISIS. One thing is a fact: all other things being equal, Israel has the capability of turning any other state or kingdom in region into an ashtray, if push came to shove. Voila: World War Three.

 isil2

 

***

James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

 

Burn, Men in Black, Burn

Off the keyboard of Pepe Escobar

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THE ROVING EYE

isilfighters

Originally published in Asia Times on June 20, 2014
Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

Let’s cut to the chase. As in chasing that Zara outdoor summer collection, complete with state of the art assault rifles, brand new white Nike sneakers and brand new, unlimited mileage white Toyotas crossing the Syrian-Iraqi desert; the Badass Jihadis in Black.

Once upon a (very recent) time, the US government used to help only “good terrorists” (in Syria), instead of “bad terrorists”. That was an echo of a (less recent) time when it was supporting only “good Taliban” and not “bad Taliban”.

So what happens when Brookings Institution so-called “experts” start blabbering that the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) is really the baddest jihadi outfit on the planet (after all they were cast out of al-Qaeda)? Are they so badass that by warped newspeak logic they’re now the new normal?

Since late last year, according to US government newspeak, the “good terrorists” in Syria are the al-Qaeda spinoff gang of Jabhat al-Nusra and (disgraced) Prince Bandar bin Sultan, aka Bandar Bush, the Islamic Front (essentially a Jabhat al-Nusra multiple outlet). And yet both Jabhat and ISIS had pledged allegiance to Ayman “the doctor” al-Zawahiri, the perennial gift that keeps on giving al-Qaeda capo.

That still leaves the question of what Men in Black ISIS, the catwalk-conscious beheading stormtroopers for a basket of hardcore tribal Sunnis and Ba’ath party “remnants” (remember Rummy in 2003?) are really up to.

We interrupt this desert catwalk to announce they will NOT invade Baghdad. On the other hand, they are busy accelerating the balkanization – and eventual partition – of both Syria and Iraq. They are NOT a CIA brainchild (how come Langley never thought about it?); they are in fact the bastard children of (disgraced) Bandar Bush’s credit card largesse.

The fact that ISIS is NOT directly in Langley’s payroll does not imply their strategic agenda essentially differs from that of the Empire of Chaos. The Obama administration may be sending a few marines to protect the swimming pools of the largest, Vatican-sized embassy on Planet Earth, plus a few “military advisers” to “retrain” the dissolving Iraqi Army. But that’s a drop of Coke Zero in the Western Iraqi desert. There’s no evidence Obama is about to authorize “kinetic support” against ISIS, even though Baghdad has already green-lighted it.

Even if Obama went ballistic (“targeted military action”), and/or manufactured a new kill list to be itemized by his drones, that would amount to no more than a little diversion. What matters is that the confluent ISIS/Beltway agenda remains the same; get rid of Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki (not by accident the new meme in US corporate media); curb Iran’s political/economic influence over Iraq; fundamentally erase Sykes-Picot; and promote the “birth pangs” (remember Condi?) of vast wastelands bypassing centralized power and run by hardcore tribal Sunnis.

153Mideast Syria Militants Rise Analysis

For the Empire of Chaos, ISIS is the agent provocateur that fell from (Allah’s?) Heaven; the perfect ski mask-clad tool to keep the Global War on Terror (GWOT) in Enduring Freedom Forever mode.

The icing in the (melted) cake is that the House of Saud has officially denied support of ISIS. So this means it’s true, even over Bandar Bush’s carcass. Cue to the official House of Saud and House of Thani narrative about ISIS: they are not in charge of what’s happening in Iraq. It’s all organized by the Ba’athist “remnants”.

Bring on more regime change 
Now for the all-encompassing Iranian angle, because the whole drama, as usual, is mostly about “containment” of Iran. We just need to endure this to confirm it; the same old regurgitation about “evidence” that “Iran and its Syrian allies” have “cooperated” with ISIS and that Bashar al-Assad in Syria has a “business partnership” with ISIS. And don’t forget the scaremongering; what’s ahead is a “nuclear Iran” against a “Sunni Arab world” in which the great bogeymen remains al-Qaeda.

Neo-con propaganda denouncing the US government for being in bed with Tehran against ISIS is, once again, disinformation.

Commander of Iran’s Basij, General Mohammad Reza Naqudi, was very close to the mark when he said, “Takfiri and Salafi groups in different regional states, especially in Syria and Iraq, are supported by the US”, and that “the US is manipulating the Takfiri terrorists to tarnish the image of Islam and Muslims.” The same applies to Speaker of the Majlis Ali Larijani; “It is obvious that the Americans and the countries around it have made such moves … Terrorism has grown into an instrument for the big powers to advance their goals.”

What this all implies is that Tehran has identified the ISIS catwalk parade for what it is; a trap. Moreover, they are also convinced Washington won’t break with its vassals at the House of Saud. Translation: Washington remains committed to old school GWOT. What Tehran is already, practically, supporting – also with “advisers” on the ground – is a myriad of Shi’ite militias who are being deployed to secure Baghdad and especially the Shi’ite holy cities, Najaf and Karbala.

US Return of the Living Neo-Con Dead, meanwhile, insist on regurgitating their favorite theme; Maliki Maliki Maliki. Nothing of what’s goin’ on in Iraq has anything to do with Shock and Awe, the invasion, occupation and destruction of most of the country, Abu Ghraib, or the vicious, totally Washington-instigated sectarian war (Divide and Rule, all over again). It’s all Maliki’s fault. So he must be booted out. When everything fails – to the tune of trillions of dollars – the neo-con playbook always resets to default; regime change.

Slouching towards Hardcore Sunnistan
It’s all extremely fishy about ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aka Abu Dua, born in Samarra in 1971, a Saddam “remnant” but – crucially – a former prisoner of the US government in Camp Bocca from 2005 to 2009, as well as a former leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. It’s no secret in the Levant that ISIS Men in Black were trained in 2012 by US instructors at a secret base in Safawi, in the northern desert of that fiction disguised as a country, Jordan, so they would later fight as Western-approved “rebels” in Syria.

It was al-Baghdadi who sent a batch of Men in Black to set up Jabhat al-Nusra (“good terrorists”, remember?) in Syria. He may have split from Jabhat in late 2013, but still remains in charge of a vast desert wasteland from northern Syria to Western Iraq. He’s the new Osama bin Laden (the gift that keeps on giving, again), the all but certain Emir of an Islamically correct desert Caliphate in the heart of the Levant.

Forget about Osama in the Hindu Kush; this is so much sexier.

A hardcore Sunnistan between Iraq’s Kurdish north and the Shi’te south, swimming in oil, extending all the way to Aleppo, Rakka and Deir ez-Zor in Syria, between the two rivers – the Tiger and the Euphrates – with Mosul as capital, back to its ancestral role of pivot between the twin rivers and the Mediterranean. Sykes-Picot, eat your heart out.

Obviously, al-Baghdadi could not have pulled that awesome feat off all by himself. Enter his top Saddam “remnant” sidekick, Ba’ath party theorist extraordinaire Izzaat Ibrahim al-Douri, who happens to be from strategic Mosul. And most of all, enter the General Military Council for Iraqi Revolutionaries – an awesomely “secret” organization which has had the guile to dribble, like an infernal composite of Lionel Messi and Luiz Suarez, the whole Western intel apparatus, Orwellian-Panopticon NSA included.

Well, not really, because this ISIS-Ba’athist coalition of the willing was brokered by none other than Bandar Bush – while he was still in action, with crucial, lateral input from Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan. No way to trace it all back to the Beltway.

What the General Military Council managed to assemble was no less than all the “remnants” of the good old early 2000s Iraqi resistance, top tribal sheiks, merge it with ISIS, and create what might be dubbed a “Resistance Army” – those Badass Jihadis in Black in their white Toyotas, now the stuff of legend, performing the miracle of being untrackable by the NSA’s satellite maze. They’re so hip they even have their own Facebook page, with over 33,000 “likes”.

Balkanize or bust
Meanwhile, the agenda of the Empire of Chaos proceed unabated. Balkanization is already a fact. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, crucially a Kurd, pledged Kurdish Peshmerga “cooperation” with the Iraq army to keep oil-rich Kirkuk away from ISIS. Like clockwork, the Peshmergas for all practical purposes annexed Kirkuk. Grand Kurdistan beckons.

Grand Ayatollah Sistani, also for all practical purposes, launched a Shi’ite jihad against ISIS. For his part, the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Sayyid Ammar al-Hakim, all but resurrected their formidable paramilitary, the Badr Corps – very close to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. These are real badasses, against which ISIS does not stand a chance. And Muqtada al-Sadr is launching “Peace Brigades” to protect the Shi’te holy cities and also Christian churches. Civil war rules.

Meanwhile, in the Land of Oz, the Pentagon will certainly be able to extract extra funds for its perennial crusade to save Western civilization from Islamist terror. After all, there’s a (ski masked) neo-Osama bin Laden in da hood.

Although the majority of Iraqis reject balkanization, Sunnis will keep accusing Shi’ites of being Iranian pawns, and Shi’ites will keep accusing Sunnis of being the House of Saud’s fifth column. ISIS will keep getting loads of cash from wealthy Saudi “donors”. The US government will keep weaponizing Sunnis in Syria against Shi’ites and (perhaps) conducting soft “targeted military strikes” for Shi’ites against Sunnis in Iraq. Welcome to Divide and Rule run amok.

 

 

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

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My new book, Abolish Oil Now, will talk about why the climate movement has failed and what we can do [...]

A new climate protest movement out of the UK has taken Europe by storm and made governments sit down [...]

The success of Apollo 11 flipped the American public from skeptics to fans. The climate movement nee [...]

Today's movement to abolish fossil fuels can learn from two different paths that the British an [...]

Top Commentariats

  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

Thanks for the links! I don't agree with everything, but the charts are good. In particular, St [...]

By the way, thanks for your comments on the political orthodoxy during the 1970s and 1980s. I wasn [...]

I remember reading about the water problem for lithium extraction in Chile before. This is a fairly [...]

The farmers who worry about our phone batteries https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/130BB/pr [...]

Good point. It need coal both for making the concrete for the dams and for power 24/7/365. [...]

Hi Steve. I recently found what I believe is a little gem, and I'm quite confident you'd a [...]

The Federal Reserve is thinking about capping yields? I don't know how long TPTB can keep this [...]

As some one who has spent years trying to figure out what the limits to growth are. let me say that [...]

Peak oil definitely happened for gods sake. Just because it isn't mad max right now is no indic [...]

@Volvo - KMO says he made some life choices he regrets. Not sure what they were. And I don't th [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

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Simplifying the Final Countdown

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Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

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Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

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Singularity of the Dollar

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Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

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SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

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Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

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Merry Doomy Christmas

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Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

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Collapse Fiction

Useful Links

Technical Journals

Barocaloric is a solid-state not-in-kind technology, for cooling and heat pumping, rising as an alte [...]

Terrestrial ecosystems and their vegetation are linked to climate. With the potential of accelerated [...]

The Antarctic Centennial Oscillation (ACO) is a paleoclimate temperature cycle that originates in th [...]