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Campaign Against Isis: Is There Any Hope for Military Success?
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British planes may soon be bombing Isis in Syria as well as Iraq, but so far the British Government has produced a picture of political conditions in both countries that hovers somewhere between wishful thinking and fantasy.

The Government agrees that air strikes must be conducted in close partnership with ground forces, if they are to have a decisive impact. But the partners it has in mind are the Iraqi regular army, which is still a wreck after its defeats in 2014 and earlier this year, and the “moderate” armed opposition in Syria, which is so feeble that it barely exists. When the US tried to create one it ended up with just four “moderate” fighters – individual fighters – in Syria at a cost of $500m.

Yet the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was this week claiming that our allies on the ground are going to be “moderate opposition forces in Syria who have been fighting the regime in Syria and resisting Isil [Isis]”. He did not identify these elusive moderates, but the Syrian armed opposition is dominated by three extreme Islamic fundamentalist groups, of which the most powerful is Isis, followed by the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, a hard-line Sunni movement. The one place where moderate and secular rebel groups had some strength was in southern Syria between Damascus and the Jordanian border. But they are in disarray since they launched an offensive in June called “Southern Storm”, which was beaten back by the Syrian army.

In Iraq, Fallon says that we are cooperating with the regular Iraqi army, which he claims is very different from the one that ran away last year. He says that at the time in June 2014, when 3,000 Isis fighters defeated at least 20,000 Iraqi army soldiers and captured Mosul, the Prime Minister of Iraq was Nouri al-Maliki, who ran a highly sectarian Shia-dominated regime. Fallon is encouraged by the fact that he has been replaced by a more inclusive government under Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. But inside Iraq this new government is seen as even weaker and more dysfunctional than its predecessor. Its main source of authority is its control of Iraq’s diminished oil revenues, but otherwise it has little power outside Baghdad. Though heavily supported by US air strikes, its best military units fled Ramadi on 17 May. General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, commented caustically that “Iraqi forces weren’t ‘driven out’ of Ramadi, they drove out on their own”.

We have been here before: in 2003 in Iraq and again in 2006 in Afghanistan, Britain committed troops to conflicts which it made little effort to understand. The primary aim was to remain America’s closest ally, regardless of the risks or the real situation on the ground. The outcome was humiliating failure for British forces based in and around Basra, Iraq’s second largest city, who ended up being penned into their camp at the airport and ceding power to the Shia militias inside Basra.

Redeployment of units to Helmand in Afghanistan in 2006, with complete disregard for the politics of the province, was even more disastrous and led to 456 British service personnel being killed for no particular purpose. In Libya in 2011, Britain joined a Nato air campaign, supposedly to save the people of Benghazi, which turned into a war to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi as Libyan leader. Trumpeted as a success by David Cameron at the time, four years later Libya has disintegrated, devastated by war and ruled by rival warlords who plunder the country. Libya’s collapse has helped destabilise much of North Africa, leading to hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees cramming into unseaworthy boats in desperate attempts to reach Europe. In Syria, the downing of a Russian plane by Turkey yesterday shows the danger of unforeseen events.

There is a pattern here, which Britain may be about to repeat by extending its air strikes to Syria and stepping up its war against Isis. It will be the fourth campaign Britain has launched in the wider Middle East over the past 12 years and all have ended badly. The biggest failure has been political rather than military. Yet, in the days since Isis attacked Paris on 13 November, all the talk in Britain has been about more money for the Army and security personnel, and not for the Foreign Office.

But the most striking feature of Britain’s response to the growth of Isis over the past three years has been that it did not know it was happening. When Isis captured Mosul, the political section of the British embassy in Baghdad was manned by just three short-term diplomats, according a report by the House of Commons Defence Committee. For in all four of these campaigns, the over-riding purpose has been to be seen as a great power and, above all else, fight whoever the Americans are fighting.

This carelessness about political consequences carries the seeds of military defeat and would have astonished British diplomats of an earlier generation. “Political and strategic preparations must go hand in hand,” wrote Sir Eyre Crowe, a famed Foreign Office Permanent Secretary more than a century ago. “Failure of such harmony must lead either to military disaster or political retreat.”

It could be argued that British air strikes in Iraq, and potentially in Syria, will be limited in scope and therefore the impact on Britain will be small. But it is always dangerous to dabble in war – and that is just what Britain did in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya – because the response of the other side is unpredictable and may be disproportionate.


In the case of attacking Isis, it is important to take on board that its leaders see the slaughter in Paris as a great success. At the cost of losing between eight and ten suicide bombers and gunmen and spending $100,000, its name has echoed around the world. It may be execrated, but it has shown its strength as it did when it destroyed the Russian aircraft over Sinai on 30 October. This makes it all the more likely that British people will be the target of retaliation, with tourists being the easiest victims as they were in Tunisia. This is not a reason for modifying future policy, but it is worth keeping in mind that Isis is committed to retaliating against its enemies with suicide squads instructed to kill as many civilians as possible.

There is a further point to keep in mind about the American-led air campaign against Isis: it has demonstrably failed in terms of its original intention, which was to contain and if possible eliminate Isis. There have been 8,289 air strikes by the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria in what is officially called “Operation Inherent Resolve”, of which 6,471 have been conducted by the US. Regional allies such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, whose participation was much publicised when strikes on Syria started, have almost entirely disappeared from the scene and their planes are largely engaged in bombing Yemen. There have been 57,301 sorties in Iraq and Syria, indicating that most of the time pilots do not find a target and return without using their weapons.

Nevertheless, there is no doubt US commanders fervently believed at first that airpower alone could prevent Isis repeating its blitzkrieg victories of 2014. Unlike many wars, the exact moment this policy fell apart can be precisely dated: on 15 May this year, Brigadier General Thomas Weidley, chief of staff for Operation Inherent Resolve, gave a press briefing in which his message was upbeat.

He said: “We firmly believe Daesh [Isis] is on the defensive throughout Iraq and Syria, attempting to hold previous gains, while conducting small-scale, localised harassing attacks, occasionally complex or high-profile attacks, in order to feed their information and propaganda apparatus.” They were words he soon came to regret: even as Weidley was speaking, Isis fighters fought their way into the last government-held positions in Ramadi and the city fell two days later – on 17 May – to be followed by the Syrian city of Palmyra five days after that.

It is worth looking a little more closely into the reasons for the loss of Ramadi, because Isis is essentially an Iraqi organisation that expanded into Syria in 2011. It holds big cities in Iraq such as Mosul, Ramadi and Fallujah, while in Syria much of its vast territory there is desert or semi-desert, and the only city it holds of any size is Raqqa.

At the time of the loss of Ramadi, the Iraqi army was reckoned by informed observers to have only about 12,000 combat troops which could be used in battle, though it had thousands more who could man checkpoints or plunder the civilian population (the al-Abadi government had admitted to 50,000 “ghost solders” whose salaries were being paid to none-existent officers and defence ministry officials. According to Lieutenant General Mick Bednarek, the senior US military officer in Iraq from 2013 to July this year, speaking in an interview with Reuters, the army now has five depleted divisions whose fighting capacity is between 60 and 65 per cent.

In an interesting sidelight on the Iraqi army rout at Ramadi, he says that the flight of government forces started when an officer in the Iraqi Special Forces withdrew his men because he was anxious about missing out on an official trip abroad. The sudden and unexpected departure of his unit led to a panic among other Iraqi soldiers who fled en masse, enabling Isis to capture the city.


Supposing the Iraqi army now has 50,000 soldiers, though this is probably an exaggeration, it is smaller than the Shia paramilitary forces that claim 100,000. The three biggest militias are Badr Organisation, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and Ketaeb Hezbollah, all under Iranian influence, but well-trained and highly motivated. They are very popular among the Shia majority and find it easier to get recruits than the regular army, dogged by its reputation for corruption and failure. Moreover, there is no clean division between the army and the militias, since the latter largely control the Interior Ministry and at least one army division is said to report direct to militia commanders and not to the Defence Ministry.

In Iraq, Britain will therefore be acting in cooperation with an army that is no longer the strongest military force in Iraq. In Syria, by way of contrast, the British will be refusing to cooperate with the Syrian army, which is the largest military force in the country, and which is now backed by Russian air power. The Syrian opposition has always pretended that the Syrian army was not fighting Isis, though this is demonstrably untrue and the Syrian army suffered a string of defeats near Raqqa last year and again at Palmyra this May. But it was losing ground this year up to the moment when it was rescued by Russian air strikes and greater Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah intervention on the ground. It has been taking back territory lost to Isis in the east and al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham in the north. And on 10 November, it broke Isis’s siege of Kweiris military airbase, freeing some 2,000 Syrian troops trapped there in its greatest success for two years.

But it is by no means clear that greater Russian and Iranian military involvement will do more than restore the situation to what it was before the opposition’s offensives earlier in the year. Russian intervention is, in fact, somewhat less effective than the Russians claim and their critics denounce. The Russians say that they had 50 aircraft – though many will be helicopters – active in Syria and these were reinforced by a further 37 aircraft last week, though some of these are bombers based in Russia. This is probably not enough to break the long-term stalemate on the battlefield or to capture the rebel-held half of Aleppo. Likewise, much is made of greater Iranian involvement, but General Joseph Dunford, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says that Iran has fewer than 2,000 troops in Syria and 1,000 in Iraq. As with the Russians, both the Iranians and their enemies exaggerate the extent of Iranian commitment to Syria.

There are other forces involved in Syria and Iraq. The Syrian Kurds have become the US air force’s favourite ally over the past year and have maybe 25,000 well-organised fighters. They have taken half the frontier with Turkey, robbing Isis of entry and exit points. But the Kurds do not want to be used as cannon fodder by the US and Turkey is adamant that it will not allow them to advance west of the Euphrates. The Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga have also recaptured Sinjar in a well-publicised attack supported by heavy US air raids, but Isis had decided not to fight to the last man there.

Britain is becoming committed to a military campaign of exactly the kind that Eyre Crowe, the Foreign Office mandarin, warned against. Political and military preparations have not gone hand-in-hand, but have entirely failed to complement each other. In Iraq, Britain is seeking to cooperate with an army that is weak and defeated, while in Syria it will refuse to cooperate with the army which is the most powerful military force in the country. In the recent past such disharmony has produced failure and defeat. It could well do so again in Syria.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: ISIS, Syria 
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  1. Kiza says:

    Ah, those travails of an honest sovereign government changer: so many governments to change, so little time. Well not really, time is not an issue, it is how to change Syrian Government without own troops dying (the British troops would desert anyway if the going got tough). Times are tough, the colonialists have to find low budget ways of pillaging targeted countries. How to do in on the cheap? Cockburn has no solution for his masters.

    But we all know that there are two powerful armies on the Syrian border: Turkish and Israeli. Now, neither of those would like dying for the sake of crushing Syria, so the buck gets passed between US/EU and Israel/Turkey. None of the thieves want to stick their necks out for the loot.

    The solution appears to be a very powerful bombing campaign by the US/EU against Syrian Government forces, followed up by Turkish and Israeli ground troop occupation of Syria, all to “crush ISIS”, of course.

    Finally, isn’t it amazing how the US can violate Syrian territory with 57,301 “anti-ISIS” sorties (no permission of the Syrian government, no UN resolution), but a (supposed) Russian violation of the Turkish airspace for a few seconds was a crime punished adequately by shooting down and killing pilot, according to the NATO changers of elected governments. Aren’t NATO criteria just great!

    • Agree: Realist
    • Replies: @tbraton
  2. well, russia set up camp. assad is not going any where now. think the pea brains in DC can figure it out?

  3. Kiza says:

    Here is a very interesting article, which makes some amazingly interesting statements (not sure how reliable those statements are because they appear to mostly come from Terry Meyssan):

    Meyssan essentially makes a claim that “it was the former French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé who convinced Erdogan to turn Al Assad from a friend to an enemy, to turn the traditional Turkish ally Syria into a failed state in return for a promise of French support for Turkish membership in the EU. France later backed out, leaving Erdogan to continue the Syrian bloodbath largely on his own using ISIS.

    This could be an explanation why Paris got hit by ISIS. Really interesting, considering that it is so hard to find a strong motive for ISIS terrorists hitting Paris. Turks are one of the most vengeful ethnicity that I know off, could there be a Turkish connection in the terrorist hit. Just remember also that the French police concluded that the two Syrian passports found next to two dead terrorists were forgeries done in Turkey and that those terrorists came from Turkey through the Balkans together with the refugees.

    It is not unusual for the Europeans such as the French to have grandiose plans of restoring back their colonial power, but backing out once they realise that the cost of it would be to have the crazies which could easily blow-back to them as well (the French are much more repulsed by the scum such as ISIS than the Americans, plus they are much closer to ISIS than the Americans). Also, the French Government changed and any Juppé’s promises were gone.

    Did Turks hit the Russian plane in revenge for bombing too many of Bilal Erdogan’s tankers with ISIS oil and Paris for France leaving them high and dry in the Syrian war?

    • Replies: @Kiza
  4. skyblaze says:

    The military does NOT want victory as perpetual war is more profitable for them

    • Agree: Bill Jones
  5. Kiza says:

    I forgot, one more event which goes in favor of the Turkish Connection to the Paris terrorist attack is the bombing attack on the pro-Kurdish peace rally in Turkey
    just before the last Turkish election and Erdogan’s huge win. This bombing has been pretty much allocated to ISIS under the control of the Turkish “Intelligence” Service MIT. If MIT controlled ISIS bombers of a peace really in Ankara, maybe it could have also controlled the ISIS terrorists in Paris. Possible?

  6. Greg Bacon says: • Website

    Obama Says “We Train ISIL” from July 7, 2015

    Check out the psychotic looking general behind Obama.

  7. tyrone says:
    @Astuteobservor II

    meanwhile the remaining christians thank God and Putin.

  8. Rehmat says:

    Sorry Mr. Cockburn, thanks to internet, more and more people are realizing the agenda behind professional propaganda, especially when it concerns Zio-controlled West against Muslim world.

    The only solution to Syrian mess, created by the Western powers and their Arab stooges, is let the Syrian people decide what they want. This suggestion was made by Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then president of Iran, over three years ago.

    On October 26, former US president Jimmy Carter penned an Op-Ed for The Jew York Times, entitled, A Plan to end the Syrian Crisis, in which he claimed that the US, Russia and United Nations cannot bring an end to the four-year-old bloodshed in Syria without the active participation of the Islamic Republic at the negotiations going on among the world powers and the supporters (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, France, and UK) of anti-government terrorists.

  9. The West should abandon the ME and let the Russians clean up the mess they have made.

  10. @Astuteobservor II

    well, russia set up camp. assad is not going any where now. think the pea brains in DC can figure it out?

    Based on statements all along the political spectrum, the answer seems to be no.

    I agree that Russia entering the fray to support it’s client state is a game changer. Now, nothing can really be done unless it’s worked out with Russia, so Russia is the real power broker in Syria now, not the US, NATO, or any other power.

  11. bob sykes says:

    The Turkish shootdown of the Russian bomber changes things substantially. Russian will now pursue its bombing campaign will a vengeance, and it is likely they will ultimately defeat ISIL as well as the other anti-Assad rebels.

    The US/UK/French bombing will contribute, but it will be a minor contribution. The US pseudo-bombing to date has been a fraud and a farce. If they war on ISIL depended on that trio, the victory of the Caliphate would be guaranteed.

  12. Kiza says:

    There are some indications in the public domain that the Russian intelligence is blaming the CIA-MIT link for the shoot-down of the Russian bomber. They appear to speculate that neither Recep and Bilal Erdogan, nor Ahmet Davutoglu have given the order (no matter what their public statements were).

    Obama had no idea either, who in his sane mind in Washington consults Barry these days anyway?

    CIA controls the Turkish “Intelligence” MIT, which organized the F16 flight and this pre-prepared provocation. Why? The Russians appear not sure.

    It could have been to sabotage the Turkish Stream.
    It could have been to weaken Turkey, by getting Russia to support the Kurds instead of the US.
    It could have been just to increase tensions.
    And so on.

    With CIA being controlled by the neocon/ziocon, we come a full-circle US deep state and Israel sitting behind it all and laughing.

    Just another conspiracy theory.

    • Replies: @anon
  13. neutral says:

    Its completely meaningless to tackle ISIS until its support from Israel is tackled.

    • Replies: @denk
  14. Leftist conservative [AKA "radical_centrist"] says: • Website

    who cares? We have no business over there

  15. anon • Disclaimer says:

    Chance of military success?

    Stop funding and arming them and find out.

  16. anon • Disclaimer says:

    CIA controls the Turkish “Intelligence” MIT, which organized the F16 flight and this pre-prepared provocation. Why? The Russians appear not sure.

    Spite – same as blowing up the Russian airliner.

    They’re psychopathic narcissists – Putin messed up their old plan and they don’t know what to do so they’re just being nasty for its own sake until they decide on a new plan.

  17. Patrick – what are you – a war commentator? I’m missing the criticism.

  18. annamaria says:

    NATO has weeded out the gentlemen. The scoundrels are at a wheel. Just imagine a cross between Dick Cheney and Kagans’ family. No decency, no dignity, and no intelligence.

    • Replies: @Kiza
  19. Hbm says:

    Is there any hope of defeating ISIS? Well, no– not if the US, Israel, Turkey and the Gulf States have anything to say about it.

    You can bet if Russia ends up defeating ISIS despite the Coalition of the Zionist Psychopaths’ best efforts, the US will take the credit and blame Russia for making it take longer than it should have.

  20. Kiza says:

    I just watched the post-meeting press statement of Putin and Holland, following the link that you provided to the Saker’s blog. I watched up to the moment when Holland repeated for the thousand time that “Assad must go” in front of Putin, who got a bout of coughing at that moment.

    When will Putin learn that there is no alliance possible with anybody in the West? The West talks about democracy and elections, but means controlled democracy and controlled elections, that is democracy as a tool of control and exploitation. The West does not know of, does not want to know of, and does not want to tolerate any other kind of democracy then the one controlled by the “chosen”.

    When will the Russians stop admiring the West and stop deluding themselves at the expense of their own lives?

    BTW, I also read a rumor that Al Assad is preparing his resignation, in case the Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah-Russian offensive succeeds in liberating a large part of Syria from the “moderate” head-choppers. The guy just does not want to stand “in the way of peace and progress”, whatever that means.

  21. denk says:

    cia/mi6 are up to their eyeballs in these terrarists franchise,
    aq, boko haram, isis,….u name it.

    • Replies: @This Is Our Home
  22. @Kiza

    Unfortunetaly, Putin seems to be obsessed with reclaiming the role of the Soviet Union as the key factor against the Third Reich (read Isis).

    • Replies: @annamaria
  23. denk says:

    aint these isis dudes cute ?
    the unitedsnakes have been bombing the hell out of them for over a yr now, at least thats what we’r told 😉
    but now they are declaring war on china and….tw, of all people !

  24. annamaria says:

    Russians just climbed out from the economic ditch; they have finally started enjoying the plenty of food, international travel, nice homes, and other aspects of decent living standards. The Russians want peace.
    It is doubtful that the Russians continue admiring the West; that admiration was decidedly over after the Kievan coup d’etat. The million of refugees from Ukraine to Russia were able to provide an adequate amount of information on who, how, and why the lives of the many thousands of human beings have been ruined in Ukraine.
    The surge of refugees from the Middle East to Europe is going to affect the thinking of ordinary people there to the point of no return. Lets see how high the puppets in the EU and UK will continue jumping on the US/Israel orders. Who knows, maybe a popular movement would make the lives of the “men and women of easy morals” in the EU and UK parliaments so uncomfortable that they rebel against their own depravity.
    The Deep State (the Empire of Federal Reserve), infested with the psychopathic chosen of various sorts, will continue parasitoid activities. Whether Hollande or Erdogan or Obama, all of them are powerless when facing the monster of security state. The parasitoids, by eliminating the intelligent opposition and supporting the incompetent opportunists, will eventually bring a catastrophe upon all of us – and on themselves, including their kids and grandkids. There is no future for the humanity when people like Meyer Lansky become the masters of a powerful state.

    • Replies: @Kiza
  25. annamaria says:
    @Stephen R. Diamond

    What is exactly wrong with fighting ISIS?

  26. Kiza says:

    Yes, annamarina, this is a conundrum: why do the neocons/ziocons keep parasitizing and stuffing up the system, killing the host, when they could live on it for eons if they managed the system right. Because they are a pathogenic infestation? Or their rule is inherently unstable and destructive, because they cannot agree when enough is enough. Is this the natural process of entropy and imperial decline? Then what about nations such as Germany and Turkey, which cannot have it good for long before wanting to spread themselves over others (from Paris to Uyghurstan)?

    Maybe this is the natural state of affairs – a poorly, a disastrously managed World, hanging onto survival by just a thread.

    Yes, I am aware that the Russians want only peace after almost a century of zio-communism. But Putin’s attempt to save Syria from the dogs of war may have been premature. Many people in the World, who understand what is going on, admire what Putin is doing. But when (not if, then when) the vicious dogs of the West such as Turkey start biting, just like this preview shoot-down, then there will be no-one to help Russia, not even China. This is the great difference between the last remnant of once great Western civilization, which is in Russia, just like Byzantium was before, and the Asians: the fight for principles, willingness to help a friend in need, the Syrian people. The Asians are not mean, but they just do not have this aspect of civilization in them yet: the fairness principles and the willingness to sacrifice comfort for a friend under attack. Whilst the West is desperately drowning in sleaze, all manner of trickery, lies and stealing of anything and everything.

    I do not think there is a way of savings the West, but at best only Russia may be destroyed on the Western way to the bottom of the pit. I sincerely hope that the West will kick Chinese butt into some action supportive of Russia.

    • Replies: @annamaria
    , @anon
  27. annamaria says:

    Russian Federation does not have a choice but to fight off the radical islamists; look at RF’ southern border.
    Decent Westerners do actually appreciate the achievements of Russian civilization. Yet the West overall has been suffering and declining because of the “neocons/ziocons keep parasitizing and stuffing up the system, killing the host.” It is useful to keep in mind that the “neocons/ziocons” do not represent Western civilization but some peculiar entity that needs definition. Perhaps parasitoid is indeed the definition.

    • Agree: Kiza
  28. denk says:

    one night in kunduz..

    jun 2004, dozens of chinese workers were slain in cold blood in their sleep. these poor souls left their homeland thousands of miles away to work in aghan cuz the pay was good for skilled workers, they figured to make enough after a few yrs there so they could
    went back and built a better home for the family.
    they had just landed in kunduz after a long flight, after a simple meal, the workers tucked in early, a long and hard day under the blistering afghan sun awaited them the next day.
    except these poor sods would never see the next sunlight !
    in the dead of the night, two trucks pulled up at the workers quarters entrance, dozens of masked gunmen charged into the rooms and sprayed those chinese workers full of automatic rifles bullets, the poor sods died in a spasm of violent convulsions without knowing what hit them.

    the afghan puppet regime immediately fingered the talibans.
    the militants vehemently rejected the accusation, *we only take out fukus and its henchmen, we’ve no quarrel with the chinese* !
    whom to believe ?

    here’s zwo watch rule 1..
    assume fukus and its puppets are lying whenever they open their mouth, u wouldnt be far off. !

    then there’s the reputation of the afghan talibans, they had never been shy to take responsibility for their hits. when they took out any fukus scumbags, they broadcast it to all and sundry !

    fortunately , there’s a whistle blower !

    anon official..
    *Chinese workers become the victims of economic rivalry among various companies as many foreign firms including Turkish and US ones try to monopolize rebuilding projects in Afghanistan,

    “Chinese laborers are cheap and their work is best known for their high standard. That is why rival companies want to get them out of biding for rebuilding projects in post-war Afghanistan,*

    hmm, unitedsnake and turkey, that figures innit ?
    between the cia and mit, they prolly account for 90% of the terrorism false flags, from afghan to xinjiang and beyond !

    if u know anything about the kind of scumbags running the international terrorists networks , u’d agree its
    just as well that the unamed official had the sense to remain anon, …….

    • Replies: @greysquirrell
  29. anon • Disclaimer says:

    money lending is very profitable but money lending must always take out more than it puts in which makes it inherently destructive.

    so we have an economic niche which always destroys everything if unrestrained and which makes more money the more unrestrained it is – until the end when everything collapses.

    while the niche exists it doesn’t really matter who fills it because if they disappeared some other group would take their place.

    so human civ needs to figure out a way to either close down that niche completely or at least slow the blood-drinking down to a sustainable trickle.

    • Replies: @Kiza
  30. tbraton says:

    “Finally, isn’t it amazing how the US can violate Syrian territory with 57,301 “anti-ISIS” sorties (no permission of the Syrian government, no UN resolution), but a (supposed) Russian violation of the Turkish airspace for a few seconds was a crime punished adequately by shooting down and killing pilot, according to the NATO changers of elected governments. Aren’t NATO criteria just great!”

    Amazing indeed. The only explanation is that the U.S. wears the “white hat” and therefore can do no wrong while Russia wears the “black hat” and therefore can only do “bad” things.

  31. tbraton says:

    “In Libya in 2011, Britain joined a Nato air campaign, supposedly to save the people of Benghazi, which turned into a war to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi as Libyan leader. Trumpeted as a success by David Cameron at the time, four years later Libya has disintegrated, devastated by war and ruled by rival warlords who plunder the country. Libya’s collapse has helped destabilise much of North Africa, leading to hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees cramming into unseaworthy boats in desperate attempts to reach Europe.”

    Oh, please, Mr. Cockburn, you are making it sound like the Brits and PM Cameron were reluctantly dragged into Libya against their will. The truth is the exact opposite. It was the British led by PM Cameron and the French led by President Sarkozy who were strongly urging the U.S. to launch attacks against Qaddafi and Libya. Unfortunately, our numbnut President decided to ignore the sound advice of his own SOD Robert Gates, who openly proclaimed that U.S. had no vital national interests in Libya, and succumb to the pressure brought by Britain and France to wage an illegal war against Libya.

    This is what one of your fellow Brits, Con Coughlin, wrote in the Telegraph back in March 2011: “Britain and France may have made all the running in drumming up international support for a no-fly zone. So if London and Paris are so keen to confront Gaddafi, why don’t they run the campaign?. . . For a start, not all European leaders supported the establishment of a no-fly zone in the first place. Military intervention was very much the brainchild of David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy, rather than a dreaded EU initiative. The ineffectual Baroness Ashton, the EU’s foreign affairs guru, displayed her diplomatic naivety when she sided with the Germans in opposing a no-fly zone.” In light of the indisputable facts, why are you so determined to give Britain a pass on the disaster that our military intervention in Libya foreseeably produced?

  32. Kiza says:

    Sorry, I have to disagree. Non-financial people usually blame “interest” charged on money borrowing for most ills, but this is wrong. Interest plays a very useful role as the cost-of-capital. We all know what happens when something is “free”, that is no cost.

    The money changers that Jesus Christ attacked have evolved in almost 2,000 years, but they pretty much do similar today: corner the market, that is restrict and monopolize the supply, to charge anything they like. But, there are better tricks now, such as fractional reserve banking, CDOs and so on.

    One of my pet projects, which I would love to find time for is to write an essay to compare the methods of the money changers of Christ’s time with today’s Federal Reserve of United States. BTW, there is nothing Federal and no Reserve in it, it is a private bank which prints money to give to the “chosen”, who then lend it to the US Government which they own.

    • Replies: @anon
  33. anon • Disclaimer says:

    money lending only makes a profit when it takes out more than it puts in

    very simple

    • Replies: @Kiza
    , @tbraton
  34. denk says:

    *this is not for coincidence theorists*

    i suspect it was another cia wet job using islam proxies when i learned that three chinese were killed, all top exec from the chinese railway.
    i was 90% convinced when i found out several russians were also murdered by the terrarists and….21 indians who had been staying at the hotel for months were unmolested.
    im now 99.9% sure [1], just like i knew mh370 was a cia targetted assasinaton the moment i learned that 250 chinese were onboard.

    allowing for the odd chance of 0.1% that this is just another coincidence.

  35. Nothing can be done because the West does not actually want to confront the cause of this bronze-age attitude , i.e. the Saudis and Qataris pushing Salafism and Sunni hegemony , the Turks under Sultan Erdogan itching for a neo Ottoman empire and the Israelis content to prolong the bloodbath . Israel hates Assad,Hezbollah,Al Qaeda and Sunni Jihadis , but Israel’s arch enemy is Iran and Hezbollah , and Assad is the linchpin that allows Iran to logistically assist Hezbollah. Israel will try and prevent an Assad victory but they are fine with Shia and Sunni slaughtering each other for as long as possible.

    • Replies: @denk
  36. @denk

    ” anon official..
    *Chinese workers become the victims of economic rivalry among various companies as many foreign firms including Turkish and US ones try to monopolize rebuilding projects in Afghanistan,

    “Chinese laborers are cheap and their work is best known for their high standard. That is why rival companies want to get them out of biding for rebuilding projects in post-war Afghanistan,* ”

    High standards? Well I guess if you compare them with the underpaid starving South Asian laborers then I suppose the Chinese laborers are a little better.

    If you want high quality workers , it costs money. The contractors all over the MidEast and South Asia don’t want to pay a decent wage for good workers , so they hire starving desperate people who don’t have the right tools or training for the job and get paid lously , that’s assuming they get paid at all.

    This is the same crap we see here in the US, companies (especially meatpackers and Agri industry) complaining about not finding reliable workers. Well no shit, because you are not prepared to pay the cost of a good worker.

    • Replies: @denk
  37. Kiza says:

    Very naive. Simply put, creating money out of thin air is much more profitable than charging interest on money? Have you ever wondered where does the money come from and what does the printer of money get for printing the money which you use for exchanging your labor for food, lodging, clothing, entertainment etc. In your wallet, those banknotes, where did they come from? What about the zeros on the “amount” in your bank account, where do they come from?

    The interest rate spread (between the rate you get from the bank on your savings and the rate you have to pay on a mortgage from the bank) is a diversion, it is not where the banks’ profits come from. The banks actually print money out of thin air whenever someone takes out a mortgage.

    The GFC happened when companies and individuals stopped taking mortgages, which cut out 95% of banks’ profits and made banks illiquid. So the Federal Reserve (owned by the banks) had to print money and straight hand it over to the banks, the QE1, QE2, QE3 and QE4 to keep them alive.

    It is best to view the whole financial system as one huge pyramid scheme, which can collapse if the new assets coming in were to reduce or even stop. The wars and revolutions are necessary to bring in new, unencumbered assets into this pyramid: new oil, new water, new arable land, new people (laborers and buyers) etc. Thus Syria war.

    What will happen when this financial pyramid covers the whole World one day and there are no new assets left to bring in, to back the money this scheme is producing (printing, adding zeros etc)?

    • Replies: @anon
  38. denk says:

    qartar, saudi, turkey, israel ?
    what happens to the mother of all terrorism, do i have to spell it out ?

  39. denk says:

    well the afghans found the chinese workers value for money.
    murkkans got a problem, they couldnt compete !
    so they resorted to terrorism, cuz thats the only thing they’r good at !
    it doesnt seem to bother u one bit ?

  40. denk says:

    *those gitmo inmates are the most dangerous terrorists on earth*
    so why did bush ordered the release of abdullah mehsud, a rabid murkkan hater, even while aussie taliban david hicks was still rotting in gitmo inspite of several pleas from howard,
    bush’s loyal poodle in oz ?
    what was the first thing medsud do upon release ?
    he kidnapped two chinese engineers and killed one of them !

    *An anti-American Islamic fanatic is arrested in Afghanistan, flown to Guantanamo Bay and then released back to Afghan authorities. He’s supposedly seething with anti-Americanism. But after crossing the border and returning to Pakistan, his first mission is to kidnap and kill a Chinese engineer.In doing so, Abdullah Mehsud also becomes the first Pakistani to kill a Chinese citizen on Pakistani soil in a high profile case, creating an unfortunate precedent in the sixty-year long history of close Sino-Pak ties.Mehsud was anti-American. Or was he? We haven’t seen him target any high or low profile American assets since the famous 2004 kidnappings. But he has single handedly done what others failed to do: he effectively scuttled Chinese help in a major Pakistani development project.*
    turf battle ?
    it has been a one way attack from the unitedsnake since 1949 !

  41. anon • Disclaimer says:

    money lenders have to take out more than they put in

    You don’t seem to understand your argument is simply one example of my broader point.

    option 1)

    put actual money in -> take same value out + interest

    option 2)

    put in money created out of thin air -> take out same value + interest

    Obviously option 2 is going to be more profitable but it’s a more profitable *version* of the same basic point: money lenders need to take out more than they put in.

    So the “reason why this always happens” which started this conversation is: money lending is a) inherently deflationary and b) extremely profitable until the end – and that’s why history keeps repeating itself.

    • Agree: Kiza
    • Replies: @This Is Our Home
  42. tbraton says:

    “money lending only makes a profit when it takes out more than it puts in

    very simple”

    The same can be said about any business. If revenue does not exceed costs, there is no profit, and the business will eventually go bankrupt and cease to exist. In other words, you better get more for your product (whatever it is) from your customers than the product cost you or else you will soon be looking for another line of business.

    • Replies: @anon
  43. anon • Disclaimer says:

    Sure but we’re talking about the money supply itself not the provision of goods and services – money lending for consumption adds to the money supply initially allowing people to buy stuff sooner but at a higher overall price and that higher price drains the money supply again but by more than was added. In reality it doesn’t disappear it concentrates in the financial sector but the effect is more or less the same.

    “At its peak in 2006, the financial services sector contributed 8.3 percent to US GDP, compared to 4.9 percent in 1980 and 2.8 percent in 1950.””

    Joe Shmoe ends up with less money to spend because they were seduced into borrowing rather than saving up – and this isn’t solely a moral question (although it was mostly couched that way in the past) it’s a practical question. Millions of Joe Shmoes with less money to spend because they borrowed rather than saved and the economy gradually grinds to a halt.

  44. This Is Our Home [AKA "Robert Rediger"] says:

    cia/mi6 are up to their eyeballs in these terrarists franchise,
    aq, boko haram, isis,….u name it

    Were they exceptionally competent, this would be true. It is the job of organisations like that to infiltrate their nation’s enemies.

    • Replies: @denk
  45. This Is Our Home [AKA "Robert Rediger"] says:

    Interest serves a proper function. Money now should always be worth more than money in the future. Interest is mostly just a recognition of that fact.

    Ban it and you end up attempting to legislate time preferences, which is impossible.

    Obviously, also, there is a part of interest which functions as insurance payment for the risk of lending it out in an imperfect world. The risk that you will not get it back, and there’s payment for your time doing all this calculation and administration too!

    All of these are necessary and fair. Money may be the most important source of value in a loan but it is never the only value or cost and interest allows the other costs to be remunerated.

    Your equation is thus far too simple.

    Of course fractional reserve banking is an entirely different subject to that of plain honest interest.

    • Replies: @anon
  46. denk says:
    @This Is Our Home

    The military infrastructure, surveillance, aid to countries in the region, etc. are part of a coordinated attempt by the US to check China’s growing influence on the continent. The US is perfectly cognizant of the fact that it is increasingly unable to compete with China in terms of investment and mutually beneficial trade on the continent. And so, the US falls back on its primary lever of hegemony – it’s military

    • Replies: @This Is Our Home
  47. This Is Our Home [AKA "Robert Rediger"] says:

    The military infrastructure, surveillance, aid to countries in the region, etc. are part of a coordinated attempt by the US to check China’s growing influence on the continent. The US is perfectly cognizant of the fact that it is increasingly unable to compete with China in terms of investment and mutually beneficial trade on the continent. And so, the US falls back on its primary lever of hegemony – it’s military

    How on earth is that quote relevant?

    • Replies: @denk
  48. anon • Disclaimer says:
    @This Is Our Home

    All of these are necessary and fair.

    The argument is a practical one.

    It’s true that for most of human history an endless stream of writers have seen the harm done by usury and have conceived the problem as being about fairness however that misses the critical point that usury has an inherently parasitic effect on the economy through its effect on the money supply.

    The only time money lending isn’t parasitic is when it is used to increase productivity and the return from that increase in productivity exceeds the interest.

    Fractional reserve banking is simply a much more profitable version of the same parasitism because instead of a loan of $100 in gold being repaid with $120 the loan is created out of thin air so the borrower repays $120 for air.


    So I’m not saying charging interest on a loan is unfair; I am saying it is inherently deflationary except in one specific case.

    • Replies: @This Is Our Home
  49. denk says:
    @This Is Our Home

    u should ask ?
    u were casting doubt on my claim that
    cia/mi6 are up to their eyeballs in these terrarists franchise,
    aq, boko haram, isis,….

    boko, isis etc aint no enemies of cia.
    they are its bitches !
    wake up from your slumper !

    • Disagree: This Is Our Home
  50. This Is Our Home [AKA "Robert Rediger"] says:

    Fractional reserve banking is not simply a more profitable version of interest. Interest is an expression of a fundamental truth. Fractional reserve banking is a specific and complicated system.

    You cannot get rid of interest. If it’s my turn to cook but I don’t feel like it I have to not only agree to cook tomorrow but offer something extra as well otherwise my girlfriend will feel cheated.

    • Replies: @anon
    , @Kiza
  51. anon • Disclaimer says:
    @This Is Our Home

    I’m not saying interest isn’t fair.

    I’m saying it’s inherently deflationary with one exception.

  52. There are a number of options for military success against ISIS. From the simple strategy of letting the Russians help Assad to reestablish legitimate government control over them in Syria, while we capture key oil fields and towns in Iraq. Extending to many hybrids of that which might include the various groups under attack by ISIS. Extending to options I have not mentioned or even considered.
    One problem with this is that any such strategy would require a diplomatic/political orientation that prioritizes the legitimate interests of America and Britain as pertains to ISIS and the region. That orientation is opposite of the current one, and is the one orientation which neither America nor Britain is allowed to have by its leaders. The entire effort of both countries prioritizes the needs of other interest groups internal and external.
    Another is that, we are led by people who are driven to ensure that any legitimate British or American interest that might be served, even accidentally, never occurs. We would literally shoot ourselves in the foot to keep that from happening.
    Another problem is that ISIS, and other Jihadi groups owe their existence in part to the British and American governments, and our “allies” in the region. It is nearly impossible to create a strategy to defeat that which you have created and continue to support.
    We are at war with ourselves, prosecuting that war in the interest of others, and deliberately doing so in ways which run counter to our interests. Unless we first take the exact opposite position, even seeing a solution, with or without a military component is impossible.

  53. Kiza says:
    @This Is Our Home

    For the record, I never stated the fractional reserve banking “is simply a more profitable version of interest”. I stated that profit from it far exceeds the profit from the interest rates spread, which serves as a distraction. But, whilst the interest is paid by the borrower to the bank and the depositor, the money printing through fractional reserve banking is paid by the whole society, more by those not owning assets, for example those who live month-to-month, salary-to-salary.

    It is the fractional reserve banking which forces acquisition of fresh assets to keep the system going – that is wars and regime changes. If you keep producing money out if thin air, somewhere down the line something must exist to back this money, or the pyramid collapses. The pyramid is the money as a promise of value, more money would mean less value, unless fresh assets are injected.

    It is the health of the pyramid that makes Assad a “vile dictator”. Syria must be assimilated, because the pyramid needs oil, water, land and people, as I explained before.

  54. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Here is an excerpt from the novel (Go Tell the Spartans # with S. – Jerry Pournelle_)
    and I think it might have an insight to the problem. No insurgency can operate and survive effectively without political or geographic sanctuaries. Shut down those sanctuaries and sponsors and ISIS will implode and be defeated.

    This is speech at the Spartan War College after the Battle of the Illyrian dales.

    “We may liken this battle to Thermopylae. Certainly our troops do.”

    There was general laughter, because, as if on cue, they could hear a section of cadets marching to class, singing, “Leonidas came marching to the Hot Gates by the sea, the Persian Shah was coming and a mighty host had he—”

    “Moreover, Thermopylae as Leonidas no doubt intended, a delaying action fought to blunt the advance of the Persian army, and delay the enemy while the Athenian fleet made ready, and the rest of Greece mobilized for war. Of course it didn’t work that way, and the Three Hundred went on to a glory undimmed after millennia. Yet for all the effect it will have on the future of this conflict, your battle on the Illyrian Dales might as well have ended as did Leonidas and the Three Hundred: covered with glory, but with the enemy still advancing, still able to harm our country, burn our fields, kill our women and enslave our children.

    “This is the nature of this kind of war.”

    And that got their attention. Hal smiled thinly.

    “This kind of war is called Low Intensity Conflict, or LIC. The name is unfortunate, because it is misleading. If we are to draw the correct conclusions from our recent experience, and apply the lessons we have learned to the future, it is very important to understand the threat—and to understand that so-called Low Intensity Conflict can be and has been decisive in determining the destinies of nations.

    “Low Intensity Conflicts were highly important all during the latter half of the twentieth century; so much so that one prominent military historian concluded that that kind of war was the only decisive kind of war.

    “After describing conventional military forces—the sort of thing you are part of, the Legion, the Royal Infantry—after describing conventional forces and decrying their expense, Creveld said:

    ” ‘One would expect forces on which so many resources have been lavished to represent fearsome war fighting machines capable of quickly overcoming any opposition. Nothing, however, is farther from the truth. For all the countless billions that have been and are still being expended on them, the plain fact is that conventional military organizations of the principal powers are hardly even relevant to the predominant form of contemporary war [which is Low Intensity Conflict, or LIC.]

    ” ‘Perhaps the best indication of the political importance of LIC is that the results, unlike those of conventional wars, have usually been recognized by the international community. . . . Considered from this point of view—”by their fruits thou shalt know them”—the term LIC itself is grossly misconceived. The same applies to related terms such as “terrorism,” “insurgency,” “brushfire war,” or “guerrilla war.” Truth to say, what we are dealing with here is neither low-intensity nor some bastard offspring of war. Rather it is WARRE in the elemental, Hobbesian sense of the word, by far the most important form of armed conflict in our time.

    ” ‘ . . . how well have the world’s most important armed forces fared in this type of war? For some two decades after 1945 the principal colonial powers fought very hard to maintain the far-flung empires which they had created for themselves during the past centuries. They expended tremendous economic resources, both in absolute terms and relative to those of the insurgents who, in many cases, literally went barefoot. They employed the best available troops, from the Foreign Legion to the Special Air Service and from the Green Berets to the Spetznatz and the Israeli Sayarot. They fielded every kind of sophisticated military technology in their arsenals, nuclear weapons only excepted. They were also, to put it bluntly, utterly ruthless. Entire populations were driven from their homes, decimated, shut in concentration camps or else turned into refugees. As Ho Chi Minh foresaw when he raised the banner of revolt against France in 1945, in every colonial-type war ever fought the number of casualties on the side of the insurgents exceeded those of the “forces of order” by at least an order of magnitude. This is true even if civilian casualties among the colonists are included, which often is not the case.

    ” ‘Notwithstanding this ruthlessness and these military advantages, the “counterinsurgency” forces failed in every case. . . .’ ”

    “So wrote Martin van Creveld in The Transformation of War, published in 1990 just prior to the American adventure in the Iraqi Desert; demonstrating once again that even the most brilliant historians often draw the wrong conclusions. It is certainly the case that so-called Low Intensity Conflicts had been and could be decisive, against both the United States and the Soviet Union; but this should not have been surprising, since most of those conflicts were no more than an extension of what had been called the Cold War. If either power became involved in LIC, the other power would find compelling reasons to aid the insurgents.”

    Hal tilted his head down so that he could examine the room over the tops of his glasses. Still have their attention, he decided. He took a sip of water and continued.

    “What was not noticed until the last decades of the twentieth century was that insurgency was quite often nothing of the kind, but a cover for the invasion of one nation by another, with the invading nation supported by powerful allies who enjoyed immunity from military retaliation. South Vietnam did not fall to insurgents in the jungles, but to a modern armored army employing ten thousand trucks and twenty-five hundred armored fighting vehicles; and while North Vietnam was not always a sanctuary—the 1972 offensive triggered massive bombardment of the North by the United States—China and the Soviet Union always were sanctuaries, and none of the North Vietnamese war materiel was manufactured in North Vietnam. By the same token, the weapons employed by the Afghan mujahideen were not made in Afghanistan, and the factories producing Stinger missiles and recoilless artillery pieces were quite safe from Soviet attack.

    “Military historians like van Creveld, in considering how successful insurgency aided by one Superpower could be used against the other did not, until the end of the Cold War, consider the improbability of the success of LIC against both Superpowers acting in concert.

    “Insurgency against a modern state requires powerful allies operating from sanctuary.
    The allies need not be of ‘superpower’ status; but they will require that one of the Superpowers, or both of them acting as the CoDominium, protect the sanctuary status of the supplying nation. Unfortunately, given supply of war material from a sanctuary, insurgency can be continued practically forever.”

    General Slater looked directly at Prince Lysander, and said, “The strategic implications should be obvious.”

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