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Many recent articles and online discussions have been rife with the idea that the reason for Russia’s “withdrawal” from Syria (which we now know is really nothing of the sort) was due to its mounting economic problems.

In reality that could not be farther from the truth. Here’s why:

(1) As of March 2016, half a year since the start of military operations in Syria, it had cost a total of $464 million – that’s just about 1% of Russia’s annual military budget.

And most of that came out of the Defense Ministry’s 2015 funds earmarked for training.

(2) Which is quite appropriate, since functionally Russia’s Syria campaign has been one huge, ongoing, live-action training exercise. A sort of desert Salusa Secundus for the Russian Air Force and special forces.

The average age of Russia’s pilots in Syria is 27 years. The youngest are closer to 25 – that is, almost straight out of flight school. Many pilots share the same plane, and there are frequent rotations, so a huge percentage of Russian Air Force personnel gets this training relative to the modest scale of Russia’s investment into Khmeimim.

(3) Equipment also gets tested. For instance, the recently withdrawn Su-25′s have been replaced with attack helicopters armed with the new President-S system of countermeasures against MANPADs. It has worked in controlled environments; will it work in a real war environment? So far the answer has been “yes.”

(4) Like the US during the Gulf War, it is also an excellent opportunity for getting rid of the old munitions that Russia has absolutely no shortage of.

Meanwhile, the SVP-24 technology addon allows old Russian fighter planes to drop old Soviet bombs with the near accuracy of a JDAM delivered by a modern American bomber.

(5) This is only to be expected, but yes, the actual use of Khmeimim – a pretty useful strategic asset in its own right – is completely free.

(6) Finally, the good performance of Russian weaponry in Syria has led to an additional $6-7 billion increase in foreign orders, which translates to a more than 10% increase in Rosoboronexport’s total portfolio of foreign orders.

(7) Paradoxical as it might seem, there are grounds to believe that Russia’s intervention in Syria has also improved its image in the world. Neocon blowhards shilling for a no-fly zone in the Washington Post to protect ISIS from Russia ultimately only represent a certain fraction of the American elites. They do not speak for the world or even most Americans. Most normal people appreciate the sight of Islamist fanatics getting lit up along with their Turkey-bound oil truck convoys and Western MSM propaganda to the contrary has had very little effect on these healthy sentiments if the comments sections are anything to go by.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Military, Russia, Syrian Civil War 
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  1. $464 million – ie less than what the Americans were spending every 12 hours during the occupation of Iraq.

    • Replies: @gerad
    The more often cited statistic is that they spent less than the Americans spend on military bands each year
    , @tbraton
    As I recall, that is less than the U.S. spent to train "4 or 5" moderate jihadis," according to Congressional testimony by a U.S. general.

    BTW, excellent piece, Mr. Karlin.
  2. Russia isn’t even going to submit a bill to Assad for laying waste to all the areas of Syria that he had been kicked out of ?

    Delaying the new balance of power means spreading instability. But that does not matter to Putin.

    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov

    Delaying the new balance of power means spreading instability.
     
    Obviously, I don't have enough brain power to appreciate this profundity. Would you elaborate, please?
    , @Mitleser
    The "balance of power" you want is too unbalanced and one-sided.
    , @anon

    Delaying the new balance of power means spreading instability.
     
    Orwell ftw.
  3. @Sean
    Russia isn't even going to submit a bill to Assad for laying waste to all the areas of Syria that he had been kicked out of ?

    Delaying the new balance of power means spreading instability. But that does not matter to Putin.

    Delaying the new balance of power means spreading instability.

    Obviously, I don’t have enough brain power to appreciate this profundity. Would you elaborate, please?

    • Replies: @5371
    I think he means, "My side not winning is intolerable, and so I will keep complaining until that stops happening."
    , @neutral
    Very simply he wants USA and Israel to rule the world. No doubt he will use bigger obfuscating words to describe this, but ultimately this is what he wants.
    , @Sean
    http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/ideas/2013/08/enoch-powell-and-the-cold-war/
  4. The whole thing has shown how bloated the American foreign military expedition model is. Putin got the ‘bang for the buck’ while the US effort in Iraq and Afghanistan was, more or less, deliberately intended to fetch as little ‘bang for buck’ as possible. All the better for military suppliers. We’ll see how it shakes out, but so far it looks like an episode that will be studied by armchair military enthusiast and actual military leadership, for decades. Brilliant.

    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov

    The whole thing has shown how bloated the American foreign military expedition model is.
     
    United States can not have any other "model"--it is not a continental power and never was. US "elites" are not conditioned by continental warfare (in fact, they are not conditioned by any warfare at all) and neither is general US population and it shows.
  5. @Andrei Martyanov

    Delaying the new balance of power means spreading instability.
     
    Obviously, I don't have enough brain power to appreciate this profundity. Would you elaborate, please?

    I think he means, “My side not winning is intolerable, and so I will keep complaining until that stops happening.”

    • Agree: tbraton
    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov
    It seems to be the case.
  6. Paradoxical as it might seem, there are grounds to believe that Russia’s intervention in Syria has also improved its image in the world.

    People respect power.

    • Replies: @anon
    I'd say they respect minimum necessary force with equal emphasis on both minimum and necessary.
  7. @Sean
    Russia isn't even going to submit a bill to Assad for laying waste to all the areas of Syria that he had been kicked out of ?

    Delaying the new balance of power means spreading instability. But that does not matter to Putin.

    The “balance of power” you want is too unbalanced and one-sided.

  8. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website
    @Economic Sophisms
    The whole thing has shown how bloated the American foreign military expedition model is. Putin got the 'bang for the buck' while the US effort in Iraq and Afghanistan was, more or less, deliberately intended to fetch as little 'bang for buck' as possible. All the better for military suppliers. We'll see how it shakes out, but so far it looks like an episode that will be studied by armchair military enthusiast and actual military leadership, for decades. Brilliant.

    The whole thing has shown how bloated the American foreign military expedition model is.

    United States can not have any other “model”–it is not a continental power and never was. US “elites” are not conditioned by continental warfare (in fact, they are not conditioned by any warfare at all) and neither is general US population and it shows.

  9. @5371
    I think he means, "My side not winning is intolerable, and so I will keep complaining until that stops happening."

    It seems to be the case.

  10. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The US had supposedly been bombing ISIS for about a year with little visible effect when the Russians stepped in. Within months of that there were major results. Was the US bombing a fraud, dropping them in the desert or something similar? Were they really attacking ISIS? There’s something we don’t know about this US effort. It’s clear they didn’t want to anger Turkey so didn’t do anything about the millions in oil cash flow between the jihadis and Turkey; that by itself means there wasn’t a serious effort being made to squelch them.

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    The US bombing of ISIS was intended primarily not to destroy and degrade but to check any gains they might make against The Moderate Rebels and to "funnel" them instead towards government forces instead.

    Cynical but effective.
  11. @Andrei Martyanov

    Delaying the new balance of power means spreading instability.
     
    Obviously, I don't have enough brain power to appreciate this profundity. Would you elaborate, please?

    Very simply he wants USA and Israel to rule the world. No doubt he will use bigger obfuscating words to describe this, but ultimately this is what he wants.

  12. @anonymous
    The US had supposedly been bombing ISIS for about a year with little visible effect when the Russians stepped in. Within months of that there were major results. Was the US bombing a fraud, dropping them in the desert or something similar? Were they really attacking ISIS? There's something we don't know about this US effort. It's clear they didn't want to anger Turkey so didn't do anything about the millions in oil cash flow between the jihadis and Turkey; that by itself means there wasn't a serious effort being made to squelch them.

    The US bombing of ISIS was intended primarily not to destroy and degrade but to check any gains they might make against The Moderate Rebels and to “funnel” them instead towards government forces instead.

    Cynical but effective.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    The US bombing of ISIS was intended primarily not to destroy and degrade but to check any gains they might make against The Moderate Rebels and to “funnel” them instead towards government forces instead.

    Cynical but effective.
     
    On the hand, Russia's policy was cynical but more effective. Side with the local strong man as the least bad alternative to an ISIS victory.

    Sometimes cynicism can be a good thing.
    , @gerad
    How do you explain the Iraqi section of the US operation Anatoly? I'm not asking that as a "gotcha" question, I am just genuinely curious about your opinion. An excellent blogpost again
  13. Liberation of Palmyra earned Russia a lot of Civ culture points.

    However, from the Russian point of view, the main message of Syria is: No. More. Color. Revolutions.

    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov

    Liberation of Palmyra earned Russia a lot of Civ culture points.
     
    Evidently, freeing Europe from Nazism is not such a big of a deal.
  14. @inertial
    Liberation of Palmyra earned Russia a lot of Civ culture points.

    However, from the Russian point of view, the main message of Syria is: No. More. Color. Revolutions.

    Liberation of Palmyra earned Russia a lot of Civ culture points.

    Evidently, freeing Europe from Nazism is not such a big of a deal.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    Liberation of Palmyra earned Russia a lot of Civ culture points.

    Evidently, freeing Europe from Nazism is not such a big of a deal.
     
    Hitler vs Stalin was more of a lesser of two evils type of thing
    , @inertial
    From what I remember (haven't played Civ in many years,) culture points tended to evaporate with time, so you you had to keep producing new ones. Or was that population happiness points?
    , @German_reader
    What do you exspect...should every post related to Russia express cringing gratitude for the actions of the Red army in the 2nd world war? That's obsessive, it's not forever 1945. And Inertial was actually stating (with humorous reference to the Civilization pc game, if I'm not mistaken) that Russia had gained in prestige by its Syrian intervention and is seen by many as serious in combating Islamist barbarism (unlike the US and its Western satellites). At least that's how I read his post.
    , @Felix Keverich
    Some Eastern Europeans didn't want to be "freed": not only Hitler solved their Jewish problem, for them German occupation was preferable to Soviet rule. You see attitudes like this in the Baltics, Hungary, Croatia and Western Ukraine.
  15. @Andrei Martyanov

    Liberation of Palmyra earned Russia a lot of Civ culture points.
     
    Evidently, freeing Europe from Nazism is not such a big of a deal.

    Liberation of Palmyra earned Russia a lot of Civ culture points.

    Evidently, freeing Europe from Nazism is not such a big of a deal.

    Hitler vs Stalin was more of a lesser of two evils type of thing

  16. @Andrei Martyanov

    Liberation of Palmyra earned Russia a lot of Civ culture points.
     
    Evidently, freeing Europe from Nazism is not such a big of a deal.

    From what I remember (haven’t played Civ in many years,) culture points tended to evaporate with time, so you you had to keep producing new ones. Or was that population happiness points?

    • Replies: @Glossy
    And Palmyra was the very place where ISIS evaporated, by blowing up, some of Syria's ancient culture points. I don't know if those game designers meant this exact kind of process, the one for which Vandals once became famous, but real-life culture points do tend to depreciate with time.
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    As I recall Culture points don't depreciate but the multipliers for the entire stock of Culture keep going up so in practice the effect of the early acquired Culture points from Pyramids and The Great Library eventually gets swamped by the Eiffel Tower and Hollywood.
  17. @Andrei Martyanov

    Liberation of Palmyra earned Russia a lot of Civ culture points.
     
    Evidently, freeing Europe from Nazism is not such a big of a deal.

    What do you exspect…should every post related to Russia express cringing gratitude for the actions of the Red army in the 2nd world war? That’s obsessive, it’s not forever 1945. And Inertial was actually stating (with humorous reference to the Civilization pc game, if I’m not mistaken) that Russia had gained in prestige by its Syrian intervention and is seen by many as serious in combating Islamist barbarism (unlike the US and its Western satellites). At least that’s how I read his post.

    • Replies: @JamesWinstonSmith
    Good point my German friend. So when do Mutti Merkel and BND chief Schindler if not the head of the Bundeswehr admit that under the terms of the secret treaties permitting the establishment of the FRG they have to swear oaths of allegiance to obey Washington, if not also the NATO Supreme Commander (almost always an American)? Or you thought swearing support of American foreign policy and Israel was just a Bild staff thing for hiring young anti-Russian fanatics like #JihadiJulian Roepcke?
    , @Andrei Martyanov

    That’s obsessive, it’s not forever 1945.
     
    Evidently you are not well acquainted with contemporary Anglo-Saxon historiography on the issue. You also seem to fail to recognize how contemporary world, in which we all live today, emerged, from Bretton Woods to American military-political mythology. In fact, the Cold War, which resumed recently, has all (with emphasis on all) of its roots on the battle fields of WW II. It is still 1945 and Germany's (tragic, in my opinion) modern fate is a direct result of this, figuratively speaking, "1945" too.
  18. @inertial
    From what I remember (haven't played Civ in many years,) culture points tended to evaporate with time, so you you had to keep producing new ones. Or was that population happiness points?

    And Palmyra was the very place where ISIS evaporated, by blowing up, some of Syria’s ancient culture points. I don’t know if those game designers meant this exact kind of process, the one for which Vandals once became famous, but real-life culture points do tend to depreciate with time.

    • Replies: @anon

    but real-life culture points do tend to depreciate with time.
     
    Although as Palmyra shows they degrade very slowly and unless it is physically destroyed the respective populations can still get points for stuff they did thousands of years ago.

    So if you're a new Civ it would take centuries to catch up unless you destroy the past.

  19. @Anatoly Karlin
    The US bombing of ISIS was intended primarily not to destroy and degrade but to check any gains they might make against The Moderate Rebels and to "funnel" them instead towards government forces instead.

    Cynical but effective.

    The US bombing of ISIS was intended primarily not to destroy and degrade but to check any gains they might make against The Moderate Rebels and to “funnel” them instead towards government forces instead.

    Cynical but effective.

    On the hand, Russia’s policy was cynical but more effective. Side with the local strong man as the least bad alternative to an ISIS victory.

    Sometimes cynicism can be a good thing.

    • Replies: @Mitleser
    What is cynic about supporting the local government if preventing regime change is one of the main goals?
  20. @Anatoly Karlin
    The US bombing of ISIS was intended primarily not to destroy and degrade but to check any gains they might make against The Moderate Rebels and to "funnel" them instead towards government forces instead.

    Cynical but effective.

    How do you explain the Iraqi section of the US operation Anatoly? I’m not asking that as a “gotcha” question, I am just genuinely curious about your opinion. An excellent blogpost again

    • Replies: @anon
    The neocons opposed Isis in Iraq but supported them in Syria.

    The Saudis never expected Isis to blow back into Iraq; they were only meant to be an anti-Assad thing - hence the panic when it blew back.

    The Turks supported Isis from the beginning - cos they were attacking the Kurd enclaves in Syria.

    Geopolitics made easy #1: the media is almost always deliberately lying to manipulate you in the interests of their owners.

    #

    Generally the problem for neocon shills isn't that they are stupid; it's that they are lying.

    They have perfectly rational (if immoral) realpolitik reasons for what they do and could probably get significant support (c. 30% ish) by being honest about the aims and motives but that's not enough in a democracy with too many moral people so they have to lie to whip up support and it's those lies that always catch them out.

    For example if they'd genuinely wanted to spread democracy* (or at least a localized version of it) rather than spread divide and rule then they would have planned for it properly but they didn't because it was a lie.

    (*defining democracy here as a mechanism for reasonably balancing the interests of factions within the population without violence)

    Similarly with Isis - in private they support Isis (in Syria, not Iraq) so their policy is to scream loudly about how evil Isis are (which they are) while bombing the desert so all Putin has to do is come in and blow up Isis' oil trucks and it's game over.

    Putin is pretty cool on his own but the neocons help his image because they suck so bad.
  21. @jimmyriddle
    $464 million – ie less than what the Americans were spending every 12 hours during the occupation of Iraq.

    The more often cited statistic is that they spent less than the Americans spend on military bands each year

  22. well at least I have lives long enough for people to get dune references

  23. @Andrei Martyanov

    Liberation of Palmyra earned Russia a lot of Civ culture points.
     
    Evidently, freeing Europe from Nazism is not such a big of a deal.

    Some Eastern Europeans didn’t want to be “freed”: not only Hitler solved their Jewish problem, for them German occupation was preferable to Soviet rule. You see attitudes like this in the Baltics, Hungary, Croatia and Western Ukraine.

  24. @German_reader
    What do you exspect...should every post related to Russia express cringing gratitude for the actions of the Red army in the 2nd world war? That's obsessive, it's not forever 1945. And Inertial was actually stating (with humorous reference to the Civilization pc game, if I'm not mistaken) that Russia had gained in prestige by its Syrian intervention and is seen by many as serious in combating Islamist barbarism (unlike the US and its Western satellites). At least that's how I read his post.

    Good point my German friend. So when do Mutti Merkel and BND chief Schindler if not the head of the Bundeswehr admit that under the terms of the secret treaties permitting the establishment of the FRG they have to swear oaths of allegiance to obey Washington, if not also the NATO Supreme Commander (almost always an American)? Or you thought swearing support of American foreign policy and Israel was just a Bild staff thing for hiring young anti-Russian fanatics like #JihadiJulian Roepcke?

  25. @Sean
    Russia isn't even going to submit a bill to Assad for laying waste to all the areas of Syria that he had been kicked out of ?

    Delaying the new balance of power means spreading instability. But that does not matter to Putin.

    Delaying the new balance of power means spreading instability.

    Orwell ftw.

  26. @syonredux

    Paradoxical as it might seem, there are grounds to believe that Russia’s intervention in Syria has also improved its image in the world.
     
    People respect power.

    I’d say they respect minimum necessary force with equal emphasis on both minimum and necessary.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    I’d say they respect minimum necessary force with equal emphasis on both minimum and necessary.
     
    I'd say that people respect the big stick.

    There is no respect without fear
  27. anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Glossy
    And Palmyra was the very place where ISIS evaporated, by blowing up, some of Syria's ancient culture points. I don't know if those game designers meant this exact kind of process, the one for which Vandals once became famous, but real-life culture points do tend to depreciate with time.

    but real-life culture points do tend to depreciate with time.

    Although as Palmyra shows they degrade very slowly and unless it is physically destroyed the respective populations can still get points for stuff they did thousands of years ago.

    So if you’re a new Civ it would take centuries to catch up unless you destroy the past.

  28. @Andrei Martyanov

    Delaying the new balance of power means spreading instability.
     
    Obviously, I don't have enough brain power to appreciate this profundity. Would you elaborate, please?
  29. @inertial
    From what I remember (haven't played Civ in many years,) culture points tended to evaporate with time, so you you had to keep producing new ones. Or was that population happiness points?

    As I recall Culture points don’t depreciate but the multipliers for the entire stock of Culture keep going up so in practice the effect of the early acquired Culture points from Pyramids and The Great Library eventually gets swamped by the Eiffel Tower and Hollywood.

  30. anon • Disclaimer says:
    @gerad
    How do you explain the Iraqi section of the US operation Anatoly? I'm not asking that as a "gotcha" question, I am just genuinely curious about your opinion. An excellent blogpost again

    The neocons opposed Isis in Iraq but supported them in Syria.

    The Saudis never expected Isis to blow back into Iraq; they were only meant to be an anti-Assad thing – hence the panic when it blew back.

    The Turks supported Isis from the beginning – cos they were attacking the Kurd enclaves in Syria.

    Geopolitics made easy #1: the media is almost always deliberately lying to manipulate you in the interests of their owners.

    #

    Generally the problem for neocon shills isn’t that they are stupid; it’s that they are lying.

    They have perfectly rational (if immoral) realpolitik reasons for what they do and could probably get significant support (c. 30% ish) by being honest about the aims and motives but that’s not enough in a democracy with too many moral people so they have to lie to whip up support and it’s those lies that always catch them out.

    For example if they’d genuinely wanted to spread democracy* (or at least a localized version of it) rather than spread divide and rule then they would have planned for it properly but they didn’t because it was a lie.

    (*defining democracy here as a mechanism for reasonably balancing the interests of factions within the population without violence)

    Similarly with Isis – in private they support Isis (in Syria, not Iraq) so their policy is to scream loudly about how evil Isis are (which they are) while bombing the desert so all Putin has to do is come in and blow up Isis’ oil trucks and it’s game over.

    Putin is pretty cool on his own but the neocons help his image because they suck so bad.

    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov

    Generally the problem for neocon shills isn’t that they are stupid
     
    "It is legitimate to judge an event by its outcome for it is the soundest criterion". (c) Karl Von Clausewitz. Generally, the problem for the neocon shills is precisely in the fact that they are stupid. They suck at real military-political strategies, they are zero historians, worst system analysts, have no real understanding of application of military power. Hell, they lack understanding of military power as a whole. Overwhelming majority of neocons never spent a day inside any military, never graduated any serious military institutions, never commanded a squad, let alone corps or an army. The only thing they are good at is creation of narratives, which should be expected from people whose degrees are mostly in pseudo scientific fields such as humanities, and believing their own BS. Now, condensing what I wrote above we can easily identify neocons as BSers, because this is precisely what they are. Add here egos larger than cathedrals and voila'. Neocons are overwhelmingly an American thing, same as the flag and an apple pie.
  31. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website
    @German_reader
    What do you exspect...should every post related to Russia express cringing gratitude for the actions of the Red army in the 2nd world war? That's obsessive, it's not forever 1945. And Inertial was actually stating (with humorous reference to the Civilization pc game, if I'm not mistaken) that Russia had gained in prestige by its Syrian intervention and is seen by many as serious in combating Islamist barbarism (unlike the US and its Western satellites). At least that's how I read his post.

    That’s obsessive, it’s not forever 1945.

    Evidently you are not well acquainted with contemporary Anglo-Saxon historiography on the issue. You also seem to fail to recognize how contemporary world, in which we all live today, emerged, from Bretton Woods to American military-political mythology. In fact, the Cold War, which resumed recently, has all (with emphasis on all) of its roots on the battle fields of WW II. It is still 1945 and Germany’s (tragic, in my opinion) modern fate is a direct result of this, figuratively speaking, “1945″ too.

    • Replies: @German_reader
    Well, you have a point, and I have to admit I feel intense resentment against American triumphalist attitudes about the 2nd world war (which seem to have gotten much worse since the fall of the Soviet Union and the passing away of the older generations...American mythology about the 2nd world war is pretty bizarre; Russian collective memory of the war has aspects I find problematic, but in general seems to be much more based on reality). But still, this thread is about Russia's Syrian intervention...it's somewhat off-topic to make this all about the 2nd world war once again.
  32. Andrei Martyanov [AKA "SmoothieX12"] says: • Website
    @anon
    The neocons opposed Isis in Iraq but supported them in Syria.

    The Saudis never expected Isis to blow back into Iraq; they were only meant to be an anti-Assad thing - hence the panic when it blew back.

    The Turks supported Isis from the beginning - cos they were attacking the Kurd enclaves in Syria.

    Geopolitics made easy #1: the media is almost always deliberately lying to manipulate you in the interests of their owners.

    #

    Generally the problem for neocon shills isn't that they are stupid; it's that they are lying.

    They have perfectly rational (if immoral) realpolitik reasons for what they do and could probably get significant support (c. 30% ish) by being honest about the aims and motives but that's not enough in a democracy with too many moral people so they have to lie to whip up support and it's those lies that always catch them out.

    For example if they'd genuinely wanted to spread democracy* (or at least a localized version of it) rather than spread divide and rule then they would have planned for it properly but they didn't because it was a lie.

    (*defining democracy here as a mechanism for reasonably balancing the interests of factions within the population without violence)

    Similarly with Isis - in private they support Isis (in Syria, not Iraq) so their policy is to scream loudly about how evil Isis are (which they are) while bombing the desert so all Putin has to do is come in and blow up Isis' oil trucks and it's game over.

    Putin is pretty cool on his own but the neocons help his image because they suck so bad.

    Generally the problem for neocon shills isn’t that they are stupid

    It is legitimate to judge an event by its outcome for it is the soundest criterion“. (c) Karl Von Clausewitz. Generally, the problem for the neocon shills is precisely in the fact that they are stupid. They suck at real military-political strategies, they are zero historians, worst system analysts, have no real understanding of application of military power. Hell, they lack understanding of military power as a whole. Overwhelming majority of neocons never spent a day inside any military, never graduated any serious military institutions, never commanded a squad, let alone corps or an army. The only thing they are good at is creation of narratives, which should be expected from people whose degrees are mostly in pseudo scientific fields such as humanities, and believing their own BS. Now, condensing what I wrote above we can easily identify neocons as BSers, because this is precisely what they are. Add here egos larger than cathedrals and voila’. Neocons are overwhelmingly an American thing, same as the flag and an apple pie.

  33. @syonredux

    The US bombing of ISIS was intended primarily not to destroy and degrade but to check any gains they might make against The Moderate Rebels and to “funnel” them instead towards government forces instead.

    Cynical but effective.
     
    On the hand, Russia's policy was cynical but more effective. Side with the local strong man as the least bad alternative to an ISIS victory.

    Sometimes cynicism can be a good thing.

    What is cynic about supporting the local government if preventing regime change is one of the main goals?

    • Replies: @syonredux

    What is cynic about supporting the local government if preventing regime change is one of the main goals?
     
    Supporting the local strong man is always the cynical move.

    But, as I said upthread, sometimes the cynical move is the right one.
  34. @Andrei Martyanov

    That’s obsessive, it’s not forever 1945.
     
    Evidently you are not well acquainted with contemporary Anglo-Saxon historiography on the issue. You also seem to fail to recognize how contemporary world, in which we all live today, emerged, from Bretton Woods to American military-political mythology. In fact, the Cold War, which resumed recently, has all (with emphasis on all) of its roots on the battle fields of WW II. It is still 1945 and Germany's (tragic, in my opinion) modern fate is a direct result of this, figuratively speaking, "1945" too.

    Well, you have a point, and I have to admit I feel intense resentment against American triumphalist attitudes about the 2nd world war (which seem to have gotten much worse since the fall of the Soviet Union and the passing away of the older generations…American mythology about the 2nd world war is pretty bizarre; Russian collective memory of the war has aspects I find problematic, but in general seems to be much more based on reality). But still, this thread is about Russia’s Syrian intervention…it’s somewhat off-topic to make this all about the 2nd world war once again.

    • Replies: @Seamus Padraig
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfl6Lu3xQW0
  35. @anon
    I'd say they respect minimum necessary force with equal emphasis on both minimum and necessary.

    I’d say they respect minimum necessary force with equal emphasis on both minimum and necessary.

    I’d say that people respect the big stick.

    There is no respect without fear

  36. @Mitleser
    What is cynic about supporting the local government if preventing regime change is one of the main goals?

    What is cynic about supporting the local government if preventing regime change is one of the main goals?

    Supporting the local strong man is always the cynical move.

    But, as I said upthread, sometimes the cynical move is the right one.

    • Replies: @Mitleser

    Supporting the local strong man is always the cynical move.
     
    Why?
  37. @German_reader
    Well, you have a point, and I have to admit I feel intense resentment against American triumphalist attitudes about the 2nd world war (which seem to have gotten much worse since the fall of the Soviet Union and the passing away of the older generations...American mythology about the 2nd world war is pretty bizarre; Russian collective memory of the war has aspects I find problematic, but in general seems to be much more based on reality). But still, this thread is about Russia's Syrian intervention...it's somewhat off-topic to make this all about the 2nd world war once again.

  38. @syonredux

    What is cynic about supporting the local government if preventing regime change is one of the main goals?
     
    Supporting the local strong man is always the cynical move.

    But, as I said upthread, sometimes the cynical move is the right one.

    Supporting the local strong man is always the cynical move.

    Why?

    • Replies: @syonredux

    Supporting the local strong man is always the cynical move.

    Why?
     
    Cynical view of human nature.Acknowledging that, on some occasions, tyranny is the least bad option.

    Or, as my grandfather used to say, some people just aren't ready for democracy.
    , @syonredux
    “Cynic, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.”

    Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
  39. @Mitleser

    Supporting the local strong man is always the cynical move.
     
    Why?

    Supporting the local strong man is always the cynical move.

    Why?

    Cynical view of human nature.Acknowledging that, on some occasions, tyranny is the least bad option.

    Or, as my grandfather used to say, some people just aren’t ready for democracy.

    • Replies: @Mitleser
    Except for the Russian government this was not about choosing the least bad option.
    You may call it cynical, but it was the normal choice for them and nothing extra-cynical as they don't care about spreading "democracy".
    They want stability, no regime change and eliminate Sunni-Islamists.
    , @Seamus Padraig

    Cynical view of human nature.Acknowledging that, on some occasions, tyranny is the least bad option.
     
    I'd say that's a very accurate view of human nature; but then, you'd probably just say that I'm cynical.
  40. @Mitleser

    Supporting the local strong man is always the cynical move.
     
    Why?

    “Cynic, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.”

    Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

  41. @syonredux

    Supporting the local strong man is always the cynical move.

    Why?
     
    Cynical view of human nature.Acknowledging that, on some occasions, tyranny is the least bad option.

    Or, as my grandfather used to say, some people just aren't ready for democracy.

    Except for the Russian government this was not about choosing the least bad option.
    You may call it cynical, but it was the normal choice for them and nothing extra-cynical as they don’t care about spreading “democracy”.
    They want stability, no regime change and eliminate Sunni-Islamists.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    Except for the Russian government this was not about choosing the least bad option.
    You may call it cynical, but it was the normal choice for them and nothing extra-cynical as they don’t care about spreading “democracy”.
    They want stability, no regime change and eliminate Sunni-Islamists.
     
    Choosing stability is the cynical choice. Better the devil you know.....

    Indeed, that used to be US policy in the region.....until the" idealists" shunted aside the cynics/realists
  42. @Mitleser
    Except for the Russian government this was not about choosing the least bad option.
    You may call it cynical, but it was the normal choice for them and nothing extra-cynical as they don't care about spreading "democracy".
    They want stability, no regime change and eliminate Sunni-Islamists.

    Except for the Russian government this was not about choosing the least bad option.
    You may call it cynical, but it was the normal choice for them and nothing extra-cynical as they don’t care about spreading “democracy”.
    They want stability, no regime change and eliminate Sunni-Islamists.

    Choosing stability is the cynical choice. Better the devil you know…..

    Indeed, that used to be US policy in the region…..until the” idealists” shunted aside the cynics/realists

    • Replies: @Mitleser
    There are no (democratic) "idealists" in the Russian government, though.
    Which means that there were no options other than choosing stability or passive non-involvement.
  43. @syonredux

    Except for the Russian government this was not about choosing the least bad option.
    You may call it cynical, but it was the normal choice for them and nothing extra-cynical as they don’t care about spreading “democracy”.
    They want stability, no regime change and eliminate Sunni-Islamists.
     
    Choosing stability is the cynical choice. Better the devil you know.....

    Indeed, that used to be US policy in the region.....until the" idealists" shunted aside the cynics/realists

    There are no (democratic) “idealists” in the Russian government, though.
    Which means that there were no options other than choosing stability or passive non-involvement.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    There are no (democratic) “idealists” in the Russian government, though.
    Which means that there were no options other than choosing stability or passive non-involvement.
     
    There you go.Passive non-involvement in this case would have meant either anarchy or an ISIS victory. Cynical Realpolitik favors stability. Combine that with the Russian urge to feel powerful.....Volia! some well-chosen bombing raids.Or, in mathematical terms, Bombing Raids> Shirtless Putin as a sign of Russian vigor.
  44. @Mitleser
    There are no (democratic) "idealists" in the Russian government, though.
    Which means that there were no options other than choosing stability or passive non-involvement.

    There are no (democratic) “idealists” in the Russian government, though.
    Which means that there were no options other than choosing stability or passive non-involvement.

    There you go.Passive non-involvement in this case would have meant either anarchy or an ISIS victory. Cynical Realpolitik favors stability. Combine that with the Russian urge to feel powerful…..Volia! some well-chosen bombing raids.Or, in mathematical terms, Bombing Raids> Shirtless Putin as a sign of Russian vigor.

    • Replies: @anonymous

    Combine that with the Russian urge to feel powerful…..Volia! some well-chosen bombing raids.Or, in mathematical terms, Bombing Raids> Shirtless Putin as a sign of Russian vigor.
     
    Absurd psychological speculations from Dr Freud. Rather dumb.
  45. Karlin are you implying that Putin is Shaddam IV? Or perhaps Baron Harkonnen?

    • Replies: @Andrei Martyanov
    No, it is about Russian forces being a Sardaukar;-)
  46. @syonredux

    There are no (democratic) “idealists” in the Russian government, though.
    Which means that there were no options other than choosing stability or passive non-involvement.
     
    There you go.Passive non-involvement in this case would have meant either anarchy or an ISIS victory. Cynical Realpolitik favors stability. Combine that with the Russian urge to feel powerful.....Volia! some well-chosen bombing raids.Or, in mathematical terms, Bombing Raids> Shirtless Putin as a sign of Russian vigor.

    Combine that with the Russian urge to feel powerful…..Volia! some well-chosen bombing raids.Or, in mathematical terms, Bombing Raids> Shirtless Putin as a sign of Russian vigor.

    Absurd psychological speculations from Dr Freud. Rather dumb.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    Combine that with the Russian urge to feel powerful…..Volia! some well-chosen bombing raids.Or, in mathematical terms, Bombing Raids> Shirtless Putin as a sign of Russian vigor.

    Absurd psychological speculations from Dr Freud. Rather dumb.
     
    Tosh. This has nothing to do with Dr Fraud. Nations like to feel strong, and military success works like a testosterone injection. Cf the boost that the UK got from the Falklands War back in '82.
  47. @jimmyriddle
    $464 million – ie less than what the Americans were spending every 12 hours during the occupation of Iraq.

    As I recall, that is less than the U.S. spent to train “4 or 5″ moderate jihadis,” according to Congressional testimony by a U.S. general.

    BTW, excellent piece, Mr. Karlin.

  48. @gruff
    Karlin are you implying that Putin is Shaddam IV? Or perhaps Baron Harkonnen?

    No, it is about Russian forces being a Sardaukar;-)

  49. @syonredux

    Supporting the local strong man is always the cynical move.

    Why?
     
    Cynical view of human nature.Acknowledging that, on some occasions, tyranny is the least bad option.

    Or, as my grandfather used to say, some people just aren't ready for democracy.

    Cynical view of human nature.Acknowledging that, on some occasions, tyranny is the least bad option.

    I’d say that’s a very accurate view of human nature; but then, you’d probably just say that I’m cynical.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    Cynical view of human nature.Acknowledging that, on some occasions, tyranny is the least bad option.

    I’d say that’s a very accurate view of human nature; but then, you’d probably just say that I’m cynical.
     
    The cynic's take can be quite accurate:





    “Cynic, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.”

    Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary
  50. @anonymous

    Combine that with the Russian urge to feel powerful…..Volia! some well-chosen bombing raids.Or, in mathematical terms, Bombing Raids> Shirtless Putin as a sign of Russian vigor.
     
    Absurd psychological speculations from Dr Freud. Rather dumb.

    Combine that with the Russian urge to feel powerful…..Volia! some well-chosen bombing raids.Or, in mathematical terms, Bombing Raids> Shirtless Putin as a sign of Russian vigor.

    Absurd psychological speculations from Dr Freud. Rather dumb.

    Tosh. This has nothing to do with Dr Fraud. Nations like to feel strong, and military success works like a testosterone injection. Cf the boost that the UK got from the Falklands War back in ’82.

  51. @Seamus Padraig

    Cynical view of human nature.Acknowledging that, on some occasions, tyranny is the least bad option.
     
    I'd say that's a very accurate view of human nature; but then, you'd probably just say that I'm cynical.

    Cynical view of human nature.Acknowledging that, on some occasions, tyranny is the least bad option.

    I’d say that’s a very accurate view of human nature; but then, you’d probably just say that I’m cynical.

    The cynic’s take can be quite accurate:

    “Cynic, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.”

    Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

  52. […] Insider/RIA Novosti: Fyodor Lukyanov, The G8 Epoch Is Over. 25. The Unz Review: Anatoly Karlin, Salusa Syriana. 26. Financial Times: Western sanctions ‘pushing Russia towards closer ties with […]

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