Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Gassing On About Syria

Let me begin with this; I hate freaking chemical weapons like I hate crab lice, karaoke, and When Justin Met Kelly.

But I find myself thinking the same thing about the latest Syrian news that I kept thinking all the while my country and its allies were bombing hell out of a different Muslim country; where's the "good choice" here?

And for a guy who supposedly was our only hope of preventing a confrontation with Russia and becoming more deeply bogged in the civil wars and internal rebellions in the Middle East young Mister Trump appears to be perfectly with the idea of confronting Russia over its support of Assad and making more trouble and more rubble in Syria because of the latest possibly-a-Syrian-government-chemical-attack.
(Perhaps I should be reassured that the current Administration seems willing to come to cuffs with its Russian pals over this. At this point I'm taking my reassurances where I can get them...)
I'd be happy to hear anyone's suggestion of how a U.S. kinetic intervention in Syria to "punish" this gassy cloud ends well. I can't think of anything, and certainly I can't think of anything that involves using U.S.-made explosives or soldiers that will somehow make a silk purse out of this Syrian donkey's ear. I'd think that the America First President would kind of be thinking the same way I do...except, apparently not.

At this point I've kind of given up. There doesn't seem to be a global geopolitical problem that the sort of people who get elected to public office in the U.S. don't see as a nail to hammer down. You'd think that the Libyan example would serve as a cautionary tale for this Syrian mess, but, no.

Update 4/7: The Thursday cruise missile strike on the Syrian government airbase at Shayrat is such an utterly perfect summation of the U.S. "foreign policy" in the Middle East as to be like a tiny little explosive jewel-box portrait of derp that it just makes me want to walk around smiling all day in that grim, sickly, "isn't that fucking special" kind of smiley way.

Militarily useless? Check. Because, although he may be a grifter with the soul of a can of Chef Boy-ar-dee Spaghetti and Meatballs, the Tangerine Toddler isn't clinically insane his administration is reported to have warned the Russian government prior to the strike to ensure that we didn't send any random wingwipers of the Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily Rossii home in a box. The Russians, unsuprisingly, passed the warning on to their Syrian clients. So it's extremely likely that what the strike did was flatten some empty hangars and scatter bits of the buildings across the runways.

Tomahawks, so far as I know, are not equipped with delay-fused runway cratering warheads, so this couldn't have acted as an airfield-denial strike.

Geopolitically worthless? Check. Even supposing that this DID attrit the Assad government's ability to fight the civil war. Late on Thursday both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster made it clear that these strikes wouldn't have any major effect on the actual political situation in Syria.

And, of course - as we should have learned in Libya, the enemy of our enemy isn't just not our friend but is probably a bughouse crawling with vicious factional hatred and political dysfunction. A handful of damaged Flankers won't make the Syrian rebels any less rabid, the Islamic State any less gonzo, or the hatred between the first two and the Kurds any less toxic. The vicious civil war will roll on.

A fat paycheck for our defense contractors? Check. At about $1.5m a shot 59 Tomahawks set the Navy back about 88 million bucks. This, of course, isn't an actual loss-leader but a promissary note to Raytheon-McDonnell-Douglas for 59 new units.

Just a fiscal note: the 2017 budget request for the National Endowment for the Arts was about $149 million. It's kind of nifty that although the current Administration has publicly stated that it intends to zero out that budget that it's willing to throw down about 60% of the expense for an equally useless piece of political theater.

A big happy piece of domestic dick-waving? Check! The real value of this stunt appears to be that it has convinced the media outlets that His Fraudulency is "presidential", since nothing says "Chief Executive" like blowing dusky savages up, and has excited the sorts of voters whose fourth-grade "understanding" of the Syrian Civil War is limited to imagining the place as some sort of dytopian Agrabah populated by various species of "headchoppers".

What's really sad is how little this nonsense depends on the juvenile personality of the current President. From Obama's droney pursuit of Afridis where they run to Dubya's Mess-o-potamia to Clinton's Operation Desert Fox to what seems like every administration back to Eisenhower defenstrating Mossadegh and storming ashore in just seems like this crap is what the U.S. does, and particularly in the Middle East.

Does it work? WHO CARES! The important point is that We Did SOMEthing! America, fuck yeah!


(Oh, and this is also so perfect I just cant leave it out; "House Concurrent Resolution 40", from the 113th Congress back in 2013. Remember those days, back when Obummer was all dick-wavy about "red lines" in Syria and the serious foreign policy panjandrums of the Freeeeeeedom Caucus needed to remind the Kenyan Usurper that "...the President is prohibited under the Constitution from initiating war against Syria without express congressional authorization and the appropriation of funds for the express purpose of waging such a war." There was talk of...impeachment!

Now? Ummm...not so much.

Consistency is SUCH a hobgoblin of little minds.)

Update 2 4/7: And now reports are coming in that the Syrian Arab Air Force is operating out of Shayrat today.

Well! You'd think that Assad would at least tell the boys to take a break in place for a couple of days or so, y'know, like how soccer players limp around after getting tackled just to show how bad their owie is? But, nooooo. Guy won't stop the fun even to help out his pals Pootie and Trumpie for being all okay with not wanting him out and probably all Gaddafi'd or Ceaușescu'd after the rebels win.

What a buddyfucker! Honestly, you just can trust some homicidal autocrats!


  1. I suppose Trump could

    (1) impose a naval blockade
    (2) have all non-authorised (by the U.S.) transport aircraft shot down over Syria in order to stop Russian resupply by air (which would make the Russian air force there ineffective within weeks)
    (3) get Turkey to cooperate by sacrificing Kurdish freedoms
    (4) push multiple light divisions worth of equipment and months worth of combat day supply quantities into the Northwest of Syria where non-Kurdish non-Daesh opposition forces hold terrain (including coastline)
    (5) give billions to said tolerable opposition forces so they can hire Syrian mercenaries
    (6) fly brutal CAS for these proxies (with FACs) from Turkish airfields and carriers
    (7) wait till these proxies have "won"

    Problem; The Shia-dominated Iraqi government wouldn't like it; they sympathise more with Assad. I doubt the current WH and State Dept bunch could form an agreement in advance that protects Shia interests - after all, the civil war broke out in large part because a coalition of minorities was in power (trying to use Arab nationalism as cover).

    Reagan had one of his few smart u-turns after the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings; he concluded that people there were too crazy to deal with, and disengaged after a "tough man" speech and a face-saving aerial bombardment.

    1. Well...

      1) would be possible, tho the land routes are there and, tho difficult, could make a blockade less effective. Then there's the whole "act of war" thing, which pretty much covers #2...
      3) Ask the Vietnamese hill people how tender the U.S. is of other people's freedoms, i.e., that could happen...
      4) THAT'll get the U.S. public excited!
      5) Tried that, sorta. Good for Swiss bankers, I'll betcha.
      6) Kinda tried that, too. Hope our Russian air controllers have the right freqs.
      7) 12th of Never?

      Your point is well-taken; this is one where Herr Trump would be well advised to drink a nice hot cup of STFU.

  2. IMO, The head choppers are responsible, again. Trump has to condemn, etc b/c the Pravda media would go even more apoplectic over Trump/Putin bromance if Trump question the conventional "wisdom" of the establishment war faction, lead most vociferously by the lunatic McCain, but also including Clintonite Dems. They'd be screaming "See! This why we need more investigations! This proves the collusion! Baby Killer Trump + Baby Killer Assad and Putin!"

    So, the anti-Trumpers are much to blame for what comes next. The put Trump in check (well played) and have forced this move. However, I think Trump will prove to be all talk and no action.

    Sure is a coincidence that this latest gas attack came days after Team Trump stated that US policy had changed and that Assad could stay. With that good news and with recent victories against the jihadists, of course Assad would just blow it all and celebrate by mindlessly killing some civilians with the very weapons system that the US/NATO hates the most. Because that's just the kind of cartoon character villain that he is. Bullshit. This was a jihadist info op supported by their allies in the CIA and certain traitors like McCain.

    Someone will clue in Trump soon enough, if not already. No worries.


    1. See. THIS is what comes from getting your "news" from fucking Breitbart and InfoWars...

      No. Nobody "forced" the Orange Napoleon to open his piehole. He's supposed to be "clued" BEFORE he opens said piehole, being "President", after all. Had his pal Kellyanne Wormtongue dopeslapped him before he went and shot off his lip maybe he could have made a generic "this is appalling and we condemn it" sort of meaningless diplomatic blah-blah statement and waited, just like Obama did after he got talked down from his idiotic "red line" nonsense. He didn't. He probably CAN'T; I don't think the dumb fucker has an actual filter. And now his UN ambassador has got him in the same dumbass place Obama was (and, as Sven points out, Reagan was) and he'll have to back down off that cliff and look more of a beta cuck than ever. Sheesh.

      Oh, and just to be picky; another side effect of FAUX/Breitbart InfoWars Syndrome is the whole "headchoppers" thing. Which "headchoppers" are we discussing, now? The ones the Saudis bankroll? Our "moderate" allies? The Islamic State? Whichever Russian proxy Five-Deferment Donnie's pal Putin is flying CAS for?

      I give mike a lot of credit for trying to engage you on stuff you seem to have come away from the Murdoch/Limbaugh/Bannon Claptrap Engine with a lot of fourth-grade geopolitical notions. I have neither the time nor the patience. So PLEASE try and come to class having read the material, Mr. Avedis. You're not being graded on a Trump curve here, you know.

    2. All of the "rebels" are headchoppers, jihadis, Islamist scum. Some are on the Saudi payroll and some are on Israel's and some were on Obama's/Clinton's/McCain's and some are just crazy ass mofos that like chopping heads. Much of that opinion was formed by reading MENA experts. One such is Pat Lang, who I mention as an of the example of the material I read b/c I see that he's on your blog roll. Maybe you know better though.

      And if you get past your hysteria you'd see that I am agreeing with you that he shot off his mouth. No one can possibly have evidence so soon as to who did this and it makes no sense that Assad would be responsible.

      If I had to guess your MOS I'd say engineer, straw man construction specialist.


    3. Avedis -

      Read between the lines. FDChief was being a bit snarky when he used the quotation marks around "moderate". FDChief knows full well that many of them went over to the dark side or were given a choice to join or get their own head cut off. And Pat Lang, if you have read his posts on the subject says the same thing.

      PS - I was a proud owner of a Combat Engineer MOS. What is your beef with engineers? Or maybe I am not reading between your lines? Maybe your insult was "straw man"? But then when you tried to refute an argument that was never advanced by FDChief, it seems to me that you were the one trying to advance a straw man.

    4. I hate to say this, because I really, really liked the guy for a long time, but Lang has gotten seriously odd over the recent past. I think a lot of it is his having been out of the actual intel game for so long, but he also seems to have sucked up a serious dose of "SCARYbrownjihadialiensboogabooga!!!". It seems like forever-ago that he used to advocate a "Grand Concert of the Middle East", a Congress-of-Vienna sort of conclave where the locals and the Great Powers would try and unfuck all the post-colonial/post-Israel/post-Iraq-Invasion fucktardry.

      Now he seems to have - and you seem to mirror - this reflexive "all the factions are freaky headchoppers" position.

      I won't pretend that these are Enlightenment savants. For one thing, they are as nutty and dangerous as fundamentalist Christians and just as deeply in need of some nice modern secularism.

      But when you make all the factions nails then all you can do is hammer them, and that seems like a very elementary-school level understanding of geopolitics. The anti-Assad factions include various flavors of Kurd, Turkmen, Sunnis from the yes-they're-nutballs-takifi IS flavor all the way to farmers fighting because they've been roped into the Game of Thrones and to lose is to die...

      So one reason that I've had an increasingly hard time with Lang - and with your mirroring of him - is this simplification of an insanely difficult, complex, fucked-up political/military situation in Syria.

    5. Chief,
      Once again I almost agree with you. One of my main issues with you is your vehement instance that it is evil republicans that are the problem. I say it is the establishment of both parties and that the fringe on either side of the aisle, regardless of qualifications - thinking Rand Paul on the right and Tulsi Gabbard (who I like a lot) on the left - will remain fringe because they will not play ball. I would think that Clinton, Schumer et al endorsing Trump's action last night would make that clear to you. Had Sanders been elected, they would have mugged him too. However, he never had a chance to be elected - as wikileaks demonstrates - perhaps because he's so fat out that some worried he would be immune to the mugging.

      You are mischaracterizing my perspective on the MENA somewhat. Yes, I read and much appreciate Lang. However, he is far from the only well credentialed source that I spend time with. I do not think I am mirroring him. I also have a Hruskarian view of things. I do not think we should be in the MENA at all now that we have developed oil independence.

      My own sense of things is that we remain in the MENA for two reasons 1. Israeli money in Congress and amongst our elites 2. Saudi/Gulf States money in Congress and amongst our elites. Regarding the latter, our elites became entangled with the Arabs during the oil days and now they are ensnared and entangled financially with these people. The former because.....well, it's not permissible to say b/c someone will shout anti-Semitism! IMO Israel has a right to exist, but they will have to slug it out and earn that right just like everyone else. But they have propagandized the masses with the whole holocaust thing and all the money.

      Israel and the Arabs are waging war against the Shia - most notably Iran - and they have arranged for the US to be their strong arm. for the Saudis this is actually a religious war. For Israel it is a totally self absorbed paranoid exertion of the survival of the Jewish people.

      The head choppers are just indoctrinated tools that assist the US in being the strong arm - as you note.

      Assad is a stepping stone to Iran. Assad must go before Israel because he is on Israel's exposed flank.

      So it is pretty simple, at bottom, IMO.

      There will be no peace in MENA because these are largely backwards people. Another beef I have with you is your demeaning of Christians as if they are all Jonesboro Church, but then a loving of Muslims and a belief that they are going to ever sing kumbya together. You probably even want to import a gazillion of them into the US. I know a lot of leftists that do. At any rate, there are westernized people in the MENA. Many of them inhabit the pro-Assad portions of Syria. We seem to seek to destroy any budding westernization in the MENA BECAUSE WE ARE SUADIS MILITARY and Saudis are demented headchoppers.

      There are no right moves in the region. However, I am with Lang here, IF we must do something over there, then, by all means, let that something be killing jihadist scum. It does totally miss the point though because, as I offered my opinion, the point is assisting jihadist scum in eliminating their Shia, Druzes, Alawis and other "apostates" while helping Israel feel more secure. Why Israel thinks these people won't turn on them eventually is beyond me. Maybe they figure they'll cross that bridge when they get to it.


    6. I have always liked Lang, even though he has turned into a curmudgeon and is too easily offended and sees insults when none are there. And even when he jumped the shark with his over-the-top hatred of HRC. Unfortunately that led him to being conned by Trump. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I got conned years ago and voted for Nixon - twice to my undying shame. To this day i do not understand why I voted for tricky dicky over genuine war hero turned peace lover, George McGovern.

      I agree with Lang about the Saudis. They are not our friends. And much if not all of today's jihadism can be laid at their feet. But he seems too pro Hezbollah and IRGC for my taste. Those guys are not all sweetness and light either. Granted I am biased as I lost 241 brothers in October 83. Weren't the the Hez the first to introduce suicide bombers into the Middle East? Maybe not, as earlier it was probably the al-Daawa al-Islamiyah party (Shiites also, Dawa is the party of PM Abadi in Iraq and also of Maliki) who embraced martyrship in a car loaded with 100 kilos of explosives. But the Hez (led by the IRGC) made SVBIEDs world famous. Today's Sunni jihadists took their idea of suicide VBIEDs from the Hez is my reading of recent history.

  3. Avedis...Wtf was that?

    No, really, im seriously baffled by your lunacy...What reality....Oh, wait, nevermind...Just answered my own question.

    1. steve,
      Enlighten me as to what you think happened then. All of your leftist comrades are getting cases of the vapors over Assad gassing little children. Show me a comrade that says otherwise. Even one.



    2. You know shit about shinola sunshine.

      And your writing is betraying your sources...should be careful about what you type lest I get a fuller picture of you...and wouldn't that come as a surprise.

      To wit: Wasn't because Mr. Trump gave Assad cart blanche, it's because an inexperienced diplomat gave a vague answer to a specific question, and Assad ran with it. Now Assad is probably getting an earful from everyone including Russia.

      Now if there is another gas attack, then we can talk about "vapors" but I think there is a form of quid pro quo that even Putin is willing to honor if it makes him look heroic, right avedis?

  4. Avedis is right about one thing: At his 1:50pm comment he said he thought that "Trump will prove to be all talk and no action." Truer words have never been spoken. Our president is a gasbag, fortunately for us in this case.

    1. Avedis -

      We were dead wrong on that call. Or . . . maybe he has heard the "all talk and no action" insults and decided to prove us wrong?

  5. I understood that the Russian Defense Ministry was stating that Syrian regime air attacked a jihadi weapons warehouse where the chem agents were stored. It was announced on Tass and some other Russian media by a spokesman, MajGen Igor Konashenkov(sp?).

    That storyline, if true, seems to vindicate Assad's forces from a deliberate use of chem weapons. But it does leave them open to lesser blame for causing unintended or inadvertent collateral damage.

    So the other side of that coin (sorry Jim) is: The Russian Defense Ministry knows there was a chem attack by some of Assad's forces. And they know that AWACS has the track of the Syrian a/c on radar attacking that site at the exact time of the incident, plus cockpit or tower voice commands pickling the target. So they could be trying to provide a face saving way for Trump and the Euros to back down from blaming Assad for the greater crime.

    I am open to either explanation.

  6. Before reading any cmts i'll start off with a little one.
    didn't we use chemical weapons against the branch davidiansat waco?
    cs/cn are banned by the un conventions, but we use these against our citizens.
    so why bitch at the syrian nca?
    why is this syrian fight a US concern?
    every thing that we've toucheed in region has a nasty smell of about it.
    a couple of days ago Sissi was in the white house and he's a big buddy of ours.
    how is he any better than assad?
    we need to hat up and tuck our tails and exit stage left.
    we are outclassed by tribes with flags.
    jim hruska

    1. Jim, The tribes with flags have, IMO, a lot of assistance from people at foggy bottom and McCain's/Clinton's cronies. Lindsay Graham was on Fox News last night saying our response should be to bomb Syrian air force. When the Fox News guy reminded him that Russian aircraft were also at the intended target, Graham stated that they should be given warning to remove their aircraft from Syria, or, I guess, be hit as well. This is an all out effort from factions of our own government to escalate to war against Syria and a show down w/ Russia. It's insane. While all leftists are having a fit over imagined Trump/Russia connections, our own govt is being influenced by Saudi/Israeli money to put us into another disaster in the MENA and, possibly, with Russia. They are really out-doing themselves this time. Where are the liberal voices in opposition to this?

      I'm done here. It's been informative.


    2. Avedis -

      If you have not checked yet, McCain and Graham belong to Trump's party.

      Foggy bottom is ruled by T-Rex, a Trump appointee.

      Clinton and us liberals are definitely in opposition to going to war again. That is with the possible exception of a few like Samantha Power who yearn to give Assad a spanking. I do not consider Samantha a liberal, nor those like her. The only voices I hear stumping for an attack on Syria are Republican Senators and congressman, and also various discredited neocons.

      Clinton is not the warmonger that Breitbart and RT and Sputnik tried to make her out to be during the election. She is not a threat to Trump in 2020 or 2024. She is a private citizen minding her own bizness. Please call me when you see a LEGITIMATE news story of her or her cronies endorsing war on Syria.

    3. Jim -

      We used tear gas on the branch davidians at Waco in an attempt to solve the issue without violence. It is legal to use by police departments. It is used quite often here and all over the world for smoking out hunkered down criminals. It is also used for riot control, are you saying we should not have used it in the Ferguson riots?

      Nobody here bitched at the Syrian NCA. That is Trump getting hysterical at the poor dead babies - Trump and a whole slew of Republicon/Neocon Senators.

    4. Mike, With respect, you're very selective re; "evidence". Clinton stated repeatedly that she would establish "no fly zones" in Syria. Last I checked, The head choppers don't have an air force. So, I must assume that the planes she would prevent from flying are Syrian govt and Russian. It also appeared that the protected zones would be those inhabited by "rebels". How is this different in any way from what Trump is saying today?

      I will also ask again - though not expecting a response - which democrats are resisting Trump on the plans to attack Syria? I could get behind such Dems. I don't see any. This would be an issue par excellence on which to fight Trump. but................crickets.

      Left nostril or right nostril, it's all snot.

      At least Trump isn't calling me a privileged white racist while he screws me. Maybe the best I can ask for.




    5. Avedis -

      I am against no-fly-zones, whether by HRC or DJT. And DJT has also advocated no-fly-zones. Or have you forgotten that. Or are you saying it is OK if you are a Republican?

      I try not to watch the 24 hour news shows, so I do not have a complete list of the many many Democratic Senators and Congressman that are resisting Trump's plans on attacking Assad. But I do know that Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Murphy have spoken against it, as is Congresswoman Jackie Speer, all Democrats. You do not see them because you only watch Fox and Breitbart and they don't cover Dems unless it is Wiener or their favorite monster Hillary. I would bet if it comes to an authorization vote that most Democrats will be opposed.

      The only Republican that I know who has spoken against it is Rand Paul, but he is more of a Libertarian than a Republican. And I hear many voices of Republicans egging Trump on to not only take out Assad but to go for Iran also. That is not just McC & Graham but many others. That is the question you should be asking.

    6. Avedis -

      Moot points all. Your hero pulled the trigger.

  7. SO,
    isn't a naval blockade an act of war?
    jim hruska

    1. It's illegal under international law and illegal under U.S. law.
      It would still be done, U.S: governments have the habit of violating such laws.

      And they would get away with it in the UNSC.

  8. Avedis,
    what recent victories against jihadists are you talking about.
    after all your years with RAW do you still believe there are victories to be had?
    victory means that something is won. all i see is what is lost.
    so we kick some ass on isis and we get a woody. so we gain some terrain etc...
    SO WHAT?
    if we kill them all they will simply regenerate and pop up elsewhere.
    i do not praise any iraqi successes based upon genocidal actions.
    imo isis has every right to defend themselves from a corrupt , imposed government.
    also who is really handling isis? who benefits?
    i clearly understand Mikes frustration. lets remember that this little love affair is more than a thousand kisses deep. it started when Bush 41 built the first off shore oil well for kuwait. W enhanced it with 2 phony wars that have taken us nowhere.
    we can't lay that on Trump.
    he's a dupe for the reeal players and shakers.
    i pity the man because he believes in his own bullshit, and more the folks who think he is a god descended are open for a few shocks.
    and as always we the people carry the water.
    jim hruska

    1. Jim,
      I was speaking more from Assad's perspective. He doesn't have a choice. It's either beat back the Jihadists or die - die along with a lot of his people. In fact his whole alawi sect. So why would he blow it using gas when things are finally starting to go his way? I don't buy it. Other parties, however, would have incentive to trump up this event.

      As for US involvement, I'm with you all the way. And yes, discussing matters with you all these years has impacted my thinking. 10 years ago I would have been all for putting as many boots on the ground as possible and wracking up the biggest jihadi body count possible, just b/c I think they need to be exterminated. Now, I'm an isolationist. Let the regional interests deal with the problem. America first!


  9. To all,
    what is it with all of you?
    disrespect and a nasty mouth won't change a thing.
    if we can't talk respectfully to one another then i posit that we are truly screwed.
    total disrespect to the POTUS is childish , immature and totally incomprehensible.
    who will read anything that we write and give it due consideration if we are snarky and abusive.
    i'd suggest that more than a few of us should seek professional mental health intervention.
    or at least get back on their meds.
    i'm embarrassed and ashamed of the tone of milpub these days.
    jim hruska

    1. "total disrespect to the POTUS is childish , immature and totally incomprehensible."

      Respect has to be earned after it was lost. It's not a boomerang that returns by itself.

    2. As a non-USAmerican who watched the past several administrations with increasingly horrified fascination, I get the emotional investment everyone has in their parties, leaders etc. But Mr Hruska may have a point that it is better to attack the idea/argument than to attack the person. That gets you the thesis-antithesis-synthesis process that everyone here is capable of.
      And Mr Ortman is correct that it can a long time to regain respect once lost . . . for Presidents and blog commentators alike.

    3. Agreed. Jim Hruska's point is correct. Although I saw some venom come from his keyboard also.

      But on the whole, the ideas and argument here are an order of magnitude better than at many other blogs.

      Jim McMillan

    4. The problem with this is that in Trump's case the "idea" IS largely "the person". With Dubya, for example, I always got the sense that, while he was not particularly a deep thinker, he had political objectives. They were often unrealistic and seldom well-thought-out, but he had them.

      Mind you, I loathed Dubya for what he DID. I you go back and read what I wrote about him over the years you'll find a scorn and contempt for Chimpy McFlightsuit as or even more thorough than I have shown here for the current occupant of the Oval Office.

      But with Trump it's nearly impossible to tell WHAT's going on inside that combover. Between the lack of information, the constant lying, what appears to be his buffoonish vanity and self-love I have a hard time figuring out whether his actions are out of conviction, venality (since the Grift is Strong with this one...), expedience, some sort of plan...or some sort of concept of a plan that may or may not have anything to do with anything outside his own head...

      I'm not impervious to reason. If Trump does something that looks and feels sensible and beneficial I'm willing to give him his props. Hasn't happened yet, mind you...but it might.

      But as a man he's so sketchy that it's hard not to look at even his most innocent acts and not suspect some idiotic or venal motivation.

  10. BTW, think about what a REAL political strategist would recommend Trump to do if he sided with Trump for whatever reason:

    He would tell Trump that going to war with Syria will get the Neocons & McCain on his side. Chickenhawk Miss Lindsey may even be nice to him in that Russian connection investigation.

    Trump could very well crunch a couple ten thousand Syrians to get support by a few hawkish senators and off the hook in a Senate investigation.

  11. Jim -

    Disrespect to POTUS? Americans as a people and as a nation have never ever pulled any punches about our leaders. Would you have us be modeled after Turks who are arrested and imprisoned for dissing President Erdogan? Or like Russians who diss Putin are beaten up, or attacked with whip and pepper spray, or worse poisoned?

    I have done some dissing of various POTUSI on both the right and the left. I intend to continue that attitude and conduct whenever our dear leaders do stupid scheisse.

    I concur with your comment that we should be talking respectfully with one another. I would point out though that we are all guilty of contempt and rudeness towards each other.

    You have contributed much to this blog and I hope that you will continue to do so. I have always admired your posts on matters military. But calling your colleagues on this blog old hens, childish, immature and mentally disturbed because of political differences is not cricket IMHO.

  12. Will this help or hurt Edogan's efforts to get transformed into El Grande Presidente. Anyone got any Turkish conspiracy theories for sale?

    1. Ael,
      Tayyip has always wanted Assad out and a piece of the Syrian pie. He's another tin horn madman with jihadist leanings on the loose in the MENA. Who knows how much control Russia has over him. The US are his dupes, IMO.


    2. Ael -

      My best guess: Erdo's referendum, by hook or by crook, will pass overwhelmingly. The issue over chemicals at Khan Sheikhoun can only strengthen him internally. The Syrian Turkmen Assembly has condemned the attack and blames it on Assad. He (Erdo) will back them up and will raise the poor downtrodden Syrian Turkmen issue. I don't know of any sources of demographic data of Khan Sheikhoun but there are Turkmen in Idlib province so I would bet there are some Turkmen in the 600 odd victims there.

      Plus most suspect that only referendum votes by the unpurged and non-Kurds will be counted. That implies that 15 million votes in Southeastern Turkey will go uncounted or be changed from NO to YES, and the 100,000+ that were purged will not get to vote at all.

    3. Mike,Well it has started and Trump is a craven liar. But if you think Hillary would have done differently, listen at around the 58 sec mark:


    4. HRC is a normal politician - sometimes in error, sometimes deceiving, sometimes lying, sometimes right.

      Trump is someone who lies so often and with so little interest in whether people understand that he's lying that journalists, factcheckers and political scientists, philosophers are in difficulty comprehending what's going on.

      Trump leads 190 to 36 lies against HRC after only 1/10th as long activity as a politician.

    5. Avedis -

      Yeah, I can hear it now. All his devoted supporters will be squealing: "His Mommy made him do it. Nasty Mommy!"

    6. Blame Mike Pompeo at CIA for talking Trump into it. Tea Party congressman from Kansas before Trump put him at CIA. Pompeo is a big fan of rendition to black sites and extraordinary methods of interrogation (torture).

  13. The recent act of cruise missile diplomacy is a violation of article 1 of the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO treaty).

    This shows ONCE AGAIN that the United States of America lack the moral high ground to demand anything from its NATO allies.

    1. It is amazing how lobbing a few cruise missiles can transform a President from an Orange-Haired Buffoon into a genuine Statesman .. at least in the eyes of many media outlets.

      I have to add that this whole thing is security theatre. A gas attack conveniently filmed by high production value "journalists" and quickly transmitted to an eager and baying media. This is then followed by a cruise missile strike to the sound of cheering by the same media. Even though the attack destroyed little of value (perhaps because the target was warned of the impending strike hours earlier).

      I wonder if the Russian radar techs learned anything about western stealth technology. They surely had every sensor in their electronic suite turned on, and they get to pick up whatever bits of missile are left over.

  14. You'll note that I have updated the post to reflect Thursday's Little Political Theatre. I almost laughed when I saw it; it's such a perfect summation of the nonsensical "Middle East" policy that the U.S. has been bumfargling.

    And as I discussed with jim above, I don't intend to hide my contempt for the grifter-in-chief any more than I'd pass up the opportunity to cock-punch Dubya for getting so many of my Army brothers killed in his idiotic Iraqi adventure. This isn't Russia and Trump isn't Putin. If you don't like that, jim, I'm sorry. But you've been with me for long enough to know how I feel about Dubya, and this Trump joker has spiked my Fool-o-meter past Chimpy's 10 all the way up to 11.

    I would suggest that the solution, if you wish, is to post some fawning paeans to the Tangerine One here. You have publishing rights, go for it. Fair and Balanced! That's the Pub.

    Oh, and jim..."Hey, hey, LBJ! How many kids have you killed today?" Remember THAT "respect"? That was your generation, man; oldie but goodie in the "fuck you, Mister President" songbook. Americans...we're kinda that way and have been for a long time. I don't feel outside the mainstream here...

  15. I had seen some comments on another blog that Trump was playing the 'Tail-wagging-the-dog' game to absolve himself of Russian collusion during the campaign. I discounted those comments at first. But . . .

    now the administration is investigating possible Russian participation in the chemical attack. So maybe? Any comments?

  16. I don't want to defend cruise missile diplomacy, but I doubt the MIC issue is that big. "Tactical Tomahawk" cruise missiles were purchased relatively cheap at about 500k, and I don't know which CM types were expended, so it might have been TacToms.

    Second, the missiles were already purchased and paid for, and likely had a good share of their shelf life behind them. The last really big expenditure of such missiles was in 2003, after all. Some many of those missiles would have been 14 or more years old. Typical shelf life for such items is 20 years, past that they can be expected to become much less reliable.

    So economically speaking the cost of the strike may have been anywhere from 10 to USD 90 million. That's less than a year worth of Mar a Lago trips.

    1. Sven -

      Based on this lead photo from the USA Today story on the Tomahawk attack, it seems that at least a few of the CMs launched may have been JMEWS capable Block IV bunker busters. If the photo is genuine that is?

      I also note the ultimate face-slap to Assad is that Lady Commander Andria Slough ordered the TacTom launch from the USS Porter.

    2. Actually, Assad represents one of the rather secular Syrian civil war factions; I suppose only the Kurds are more fine with women in traditional men roles.

    3. As a Baathist, yes. As a male middle easterner, no. We are not immune in the west either. Look no further than Trump. Or at some of his more rabid supporters. Or at some of his more rabid opponents who have been denouncing Ivanka.

      And although most Alawi beliefs are more secret than the old Tong societies, some have leaked out, and one belief in particular is reportedly that women do not have souls.

    4. Well, I don't think that women have souls either (nor do men), so I don't think that's a useful criterion.

    5. My neighbor lady, an avid Trump fan, believes that her 22 cats have souls.

    6. So does the Pope by now...


  18. Well, here we are, four days later, and...a whooooooole lot o' nothin' other than the various parties in Syria are back to the bloody business of civil war.

    One of the things about the Tangerine-hued Shitgibbon is that he seems to have no fixed "principles" at all.

    In a sense that's not a "bad" thing; Darth Cheney had fixed principles similar to those of the fictional Hannibal Lector, and he used his bloody-handed foreign adventures to sate his violent lust for power and the approval of pundits like Krauthammer and Bloody Bill Kristol.

    But in another - and I think this is a good example - it's ridiculous. Trump couldn't give a shit about Syria, or "babies, little babies" if he can't turn a buck off them - and SYRIAN babies might grow into bearded ruffians who want to kill churchgoing Trump voters, which is supposedly why he won't let 'em in the U.S. instead of dying in a civil war - and so it's kind of useless to pretend that there was ever any sort of actual plan to this thing.

    Now His Fraudulency can get away with this stuff in Syria because the parties there could give a rip about him. Oh, sure, he might get some Alawite arsed enough to try and drop a round into that Marine arty firebase that we're building in Iraq...but really? No.

    He tries this sily shit with the NORKs, though..? THOSE people are truly whackaloon and might just try tossing a nuke or sliming Seoul, and then we'd ALL be in the basket.

    But, oh, the beauty of our weapons!

    We Are SO Fucked...

    1. I disagree. I think NK has a very smart deterrence strategy. It's not really aggressive; it's producing the impression that hot conflict with it would be too messy.

      There's no evidence that the Kims are really crazy. They perverted the purpose of government for the benefit of their dynasty, but their policies are very rational. Not usual, but very rational.

  19. 30 odd years ago,during my short two months in Korea I fell in love with that country and the people. It was the dead of winter and freezing cold. The women all had apple cheeks. Vendors roasted chestnuts on corners of villages around Uijongbu. Everyone appeared to be hard workers. It reminded me of the countryside and countryfolk in upstate New York. And the garlic-stuffed chicken was as good as my dear Aunt Rosa's, may she rest in peace.

    I cannot believe the common people of North Korea are that much different than their southern cousins. Whackaloons? No! The poor bastards have been stuck with an evil family dynasty of vampires that have sucked the blood and spirit out of the country for over 70 years. We should be sending them fertilizer and tractors instead of aircraft carriers. Jared and Ivanka should be doing some ski diplomacy in Masikryong instead of carving S-turns in Aspen.

    Whatever happened to the re-unification dream? I understood that China, Russia, the US, the UN, and both sides north and south of the DMZ all wanted it. Even Grampa Kim proposed a confederal system.