Monday, October 28, 2019

Sit Room

Interesting photo of the WH situation room.  Supposedly the pic is of Commander-in-Chief Bone-Spurs and his team watching the takedown of al-Baghdadi during real time via some type of classified VTC or other video system.  I have a few comments:

1]  Was it staged afterwards?  Trump was reported to be at a golf course at 3:30 when the raid happened.  Pete Souza, photographer for both Reagan and Obama, claims: "<i>The photo, as shown in the camera IPTC data, was taken at '17:05:24'.</i>"

2]  They all seem to have the exact expression.  As if the photgrapher said <i>"Look solemn."</i> instead of <i>"Say cheese."</i> 

3]  All except Robert O'Brien, Trumpy's latest National Security Adviser, who has the gift of looking both solemn and whimsical simultaneously. O'Brien is the guy who recently said he would never stifle Trump’s military ‘genius’.

4]  General Milley does look a bit disgusted at being in this dog and pony show.  And check out the huge saddlebags under his eyes.  Poor bastard hasn't had a good night's sleep since he took over as CJCS.

5]  If they are watching the action the photographer is in the way blocking their view.

6]  Trump's IT team needs a smack in the the head.  Did these guys use to work building bird's nests?  My 18-year-old grandson does a better job of dressing up cable clutter, and he has two desktops, four laptops, a big screen TV, several modems, and a dial-up telephone all interconnected in his basement.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Springtime for Erdogan; the "Kick Their Ass, Take Their Gas!" Tour

So the latest piece of geopolitical genius kicking around the collective empty heads of the Trump Administration is the notion of parking a couple of...infantry companies?...(Sciutto at CNN says "200 troops", which would be about a couple of full-strength line infantry companies) in and around "oilfields" in NE Syria to "secure" them.

I'm fascinated by the point of international law here. These are pieces of Syria. They belong to someone, or something, Syrian. Admittedly, the Syrian government is not and has not physically held possession of them. But they are, by simple definition, "Syrian". Who has given the United States the authority to "secure" shit in and around them? If "possession is nine-tenths of the law" and infantry the bailiff's men? Well, yes, but that's the ONLY possible justification. There's no possible actual legal or diplomatic standing for these guys. If the Syrian Arab Army shows up and says "GTFO or we'll shoot" and we don't GTFO we've just started a shooting war with the Syrian government for something that is purely and unequivocally our fuckup. Any GIs that will die will be dying for a mistake, or worse.

And this is more than just a weird mission. This is stupidly risky mission. The US now has no - zero - "friends" in Syria. Check out this little video of random Syrian civilians cursing and pelting GIs with spuds, rocks, and rotten fruit. Nobody will have these poor bastards' backs - indeed, they're targets for everyone; Islamic State whackaloons, Syrian Army troops, Kurds pissed off at being betrayed, random jihadi nuts. Hell, it'd be shorter to list the people who DON'T have a reason to kill GIs than those who do. For the sake of some crappy little pieces of Syrian oilpatch these poor bastards are going to be hanging out there with a huge "Shoot Me Now!" sign on them.

But, hey! No worries! These sorts of things only semi-complicated and are totally not difficult for someone as smart as the Trumpster to figure out, right!

Oh, and this? THIS is simply fucking nuts:
"President Donald Trump is prepared to use military force against Turkey over its actions in Syria if “needed,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday as U.S. troops withdrew from the region. “We prefer peace to war,” Pompeo told CNBC’s Wilfred Frost in a taped interview that aired on “Closing Bell” on Monday. “But in the event that kinetic action or military action is needed, you should know that President Trump is fully prepared to undertake that action.”
I have no words to describe the idea of starting a shooting war with a NATO member. I know Sven likes to remind us how worthless an ally the U.S. has become to the nations of Europe, but this? Attacking Turkey, a NATO partner, for military actions taken in Syria? Where the hell does that leave Article 5 Article I, which states that "The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations." (corrected per Sven's reminder on the limits of Article V)


Christ, every time I think this Administration has reached Peak Shitshow...

Update 10/23: Unlike Fake News Donnie, his BFF Vlad the Impaler is a genuine badass dictator who rides around bare-chested on a pony and knows that if you grab your enemy by the balls his heart and mind will follow.
"According to the deal announced at a joint news conference in Sochi, Ankara will control a 32km-wide (20 miles) area between the towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain, which covers 120km (75 miles) of the Turkish-Syrian border. Beginning on Wednesday at noon, Russian military police and Syrian border guards will start removing the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which spearhead the SDF, and their weapons 30km (19 miles) from the border area. Once this is complete, within 150 hours, Turkish and Russian forces will run joint patrols 10km (six miles) to the east and west of the zone."
Here's what this will look like:
This is a huge backdown for Erdogan; he announced that he was going to grab a chunk of Syria 20 miles deep and 276 miles long, about 5,500 square miles. The 20-mile-by-75-mile piece he gets under this is about 1,500 square miles. His Syrian refugees are gonna have to be reeeeeal good buddies to pack into that.

Meanwhile, the Adventures of #EndEndlessWars continues; Trumpy's SecDef Esperanto announced that the US guys who had grabbed a hat out of YPG-land were moving to western Iraq, at which point the Baghdad government slapped him upside the head with what amounts to "Fuck YOU, Yankee dog!"

Thus proving that all this region needed was a very stable genius.

Unfortunately, it was an evil genius, and he runs the former Soviet kleptocracy.

Jesus wept.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Springtime for Erdogan, winter for the YPG

I'd love to blame this one on Donald the Dove, but, sadly, I think the upcoming betrayal of the Kurds who fought for U.S. objectives in Syria is likely to have happened under any U.S. government. There's just no compelling national interest there, and the notion that they would have gained any sort of lingering obligation from Uncle Sammy by killing and dying for him was...well, the YPG could have asked any Vietnamese highland clansman or Iraqi translator what happens when you put your faith in the Big Guy to stand by you when you're no longer of any sort of geopolitical value.

The sadly-ironic part is that we're again reminded that for all his tough-guy talk Donnie is a puff-pastry when real dictators come into view, and his "foreign policy" is entirely based on what's in it for him.

In this case at least his cupidity and political cowardice will insure that the dead are "only" dusky foreigners and not Americans. Given the wasteful spending of lives my country has indulged in since 2001 perhaps that's the best we could have hoped for.

For the Kurds, well...this must feel pretty familiar.

That said... THIS... a nastily cynical bit of business. "Captured ISIS fighters"? My ass.

Look, if you want to throw your Kurdish proxies under the bus, fine. Man up and admit it. Come out and say "We no longer have compelling interests in northern Syria and will not stand in the way of Turkey's desire to crush armed Kurdish forces, wherever they may be." Or, if you have to, try and make up at least a more plausible lie. "Captured ISIS fighters" is ridiculous nonsense; Trumpkins who don't care about dusky Mooslims can't be bothered, and anyone who knows anything about this sees it as the cheap and transparent lie it is.

Or, better yet, don't say anything. Dirty deeds are always done more appropriately in the night and the fog.

Update 10/8: Perhaps Sven is the only perceptive one here in sussing out that the supposed-Commander-in-Chief doesn't really command jack shit and his words are, indeed, meaningless:
My guess, though, is that Trump did, indeed, direct the abandonment of NE Syria and that the military and whatever-is-left-of-the-diplomatic-corps is trying to slow-roll the troop movement to let adults try and talk Liddle' Donnie out of whatever caused his tantrum after getting off the phone playdate with his buddy Erdie. There is no real reason to do this other than whatever bat is in Trump's belfry; if a handful of GIs can keep Turkey and the YPG from going at each other that really is better than the alternative, regardless of how you feel about idiotic U.S. adventures in the Middle East in general.

This, on the other hand, is just TOO perfect:

Update 10/12:
The "Celebrity Geopolitical Apprentice" showrunners are clearly now past just doing weed and blow and are huffing sterno straight from the can, because it would take a perfect fool to set up this ridiculous plotline; the orange-tinted frontman, having bloviated that he will #endendlesswars proceeds to feed more GIs into the meatgrinder. And, in the unintentionally comic kudo of the season, claims that the move will inaugurate a new - or, rather, a return to a very old and discredited - military tradition; renting the nation's armed forces to a client state in return for cash:

Coupla things here.

First, if I was one of those zoomies I'd be pretty chapped. First, because I'd be me, and as me I would happily tell Prince Bonesaw and his merry band of religious nuts to fuck off and die in a hole. Outside of Israel, Saudi is the most worthless "ally" the US has in the Middle East. The people who Trump says should die now because they didn't help us on D-Day are a thousand times more valuable to US interests than the most pimped-out Saudi royal.

Second, IIRC Bush the Elder got most of the costs of the '91 Second Gulf War repayed by the various oil sheikdoms, so this isn't like Trump is coming up with some brilliant stroke of foreign policy here. Like he always does, he's just slapping his brand on other people's work.

And, third, the Bush example is a good counterpoint to how you do this if you really know how to play the foreign policy game. You ostentatiously lend support to your clients, emphasizing what a great partner you are, how strong and magnanimous you are and will be...and then, quietly, you stick out a hand so your grateful pals can slap you on the palm with some Franklins. You don't blow your intention to get moo-la-la in return for your mercenaries out your piehole first before you get so much as a single rial so you don't look like a fucking chump if and when the client stiffs you.

Mexico was gonna pay for that wall, amirite? Bwa-ha-ha...


I'm as tired of these idiotic whack-a-muj exercises as anyone. There's no real point to them anymore, largely because there has never been a genuine attempt to assess what the U.S.'s interests are in these parts. It's all fear and panic and "radical Islamic terrorism" all the way down.

Trump just adds a particularly idiotic icing to this shitcake.

As he is with U.S. domestic politics; he's not the disease. He's a symptom.

But...damn if it's not a pretty nasty virus.

Update 10/14: What a fucking shitshow:
"Rarely has a presidential decision resulted so immediately in what his own party leaders have described as disastrous consequences for American allies and interests. How this decision happened — springing from an “off-script moment” with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, in the words of a senior American diplomat — likely will be debated for years by historians, Middle East experts and conspiracy theorists.

But this much already is clear: Mr. Trump ignored months of warnings from his advisers about what calamities likely would ensue if he followed his instincts to pull back from Syria and abandon America’s longtime allies, the Kurds. He had no Plan B, other than to leave. The only surprise is how swiftly it all collapsed around the president and his depleted, inexperienced foreign policy team."
Stable genius!

Update 10/16:
Sweet Holy Jesus Fucking Roosevelt Christ, get the fucking net!
"Syria may have some help with Russia, and that’s fine. It’s a lot of sand. They’ve got a lot of sand over there. So there’s a lot of sand that they can play with."
What the...what the actual fuck..?

One thing I think is important is not to overestimate the rock-bottom level of Orange Foolius' actual understanding. I don't know much about the topography and geography of Syria, but right off the top of my head I don't think there really IS a "lot of sand over there". The deserty parts of eastern Syria are mostly rocky desert (the Hamad) or bare soil (the Homs desert).

But here's the thing; when this simple fucker hears "Arab" he probably really does think "Ahab, the A-rab, Sheik of the Burnin' Sands".


It's like having a really simple ten-year-old as a president.

Jesus wept.

Update 10/18: So apparently the Trump Administration and Erdogan's Turkey arrived at some sort of agreement to pause Operation Peace Spring for about five days. As the linked piece notes, it's pretty much a Munich Agreement between the US and Turkey to allow Erdogan to get his piece of Syrian Sudetenland:
"This is essentially the US validating what Turkey did and allowing them to annex a portion of Syria and displace the Kurdish population," a senior US official familiar with operations in Syria told CNN. "This is what Turkey wanted and what POTUS green lighted. I do think one reason Turkey agreed to it is because of the Kurds have put up more of resistance and they could not advance south any further as a result."
My question is "What does this operational pause (since it's NOT a ceasefire and fighting is going to continue) "mean for the U.S. on the ground in Syria?"

I mean, the only way this actually helps is if there's a massive Dunkirk of Kurds from NE Syria; lock, stock, pots, pans, cats, kids...everyone gets marshaled out of their farms, towns, and cities, trucked to the railhead or airhead, and then from there to secure locations...where? somewhere south in Syria? To refugee camps at the tender mercies of Assad's Mukhabarat? To Iraq or Jordan?

Trump sure as hell ain't gonna take million of filthy wogs here in God's Great America.

And how does the US actually facilitate this? The logistics alone are breathtaking, and would require a massive commitment from a superpower - how the hell are the Syrian Kurds themselves going to do this alone? Surrounded by enemies (or at least people who are indifferent to their survival) and without a welcoming place to go to? I'm sure they might get a grudging reception from Iraqi Kurdistan, but those provinces are not rich, and have little in the way of resources (or need) for million of displaced relatives; it's be like having my in-laws come to live in our basement.

I mean...after Trump greenlighted this atrocity it's good that his people have managed to somehow deflect some of it. But I don't see how this works as anything but a rolling goatscrew without massive, immediate, and well-organized US-supported and internationally-coordinated evacuation.

To kick back and congratulate yourself over this is pure Trumpian looney-tunes.

Saturday, October 5, 2019


Saudi Whistleblower:  MbS was supposed to visit Saudi troops at Najran on the border with Yemen.  But it appears he is cancelling that trip.  Meanwhile Saudi troops there are reported to be openly cursing him.  Time for a coup???

Sanctions:  The Brit Exchequer sidestepped President Bone-Spurs sanctions on Iran.  They paid Iranian Bank Mellat $1.6 Billion in damages from a ten-year old squabble that was finally adjudicated by the Supreme Court.   Bank Mellat although mostly private is 17 per cent owned by the Iranian Government.  The US Treasury has Bank Mellat on their watchlist of Iranian banks trading in violation of UN Security Resolutions.   So it seems Boris just gave a big FU to Donny-Boy.

This Day in History:   "With all available men conscripted, 100,000 Moscow women, children & elderly are digging vast defensive trenches around city."  (Hat tip to RealTimeWWII twitter account)

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

President Bone-Spurs Wet Dream

The Mother of All Parades!    

People's Republic of China celebrated the 70th anniversary of its founding with both a gigantic military parade and a people’s parade.  Despite the rioting and the shooting(s?) in Hong Kong.  Was Donny's dream about the parade?  Or about the violent crackdown on protestors wishing he could do the same to Nancy and the WH press?

The South China Morning Post claims 15,000 troops paraded, with overflights by 160 aircraft, and there were 580 pieces of weaponry and equipment.  Advanced weaponry shown including the new hypersonic DF-17 glide vehicle and the longer range DF-100 (is it a missile, a drone or a nuke tipped reentry vehicle?).  I personally like the tiny two-man, open-cockpit helicopter, or is it an autogyro?  It’d be great for a commute to beat Seattle traffic and could land in my daughter’s tiny back lot.  Two links below, the short version at just over three minutes, and the full version at almost three hours.

Baby copter/autogyro is at 1:12:03

And oh I forgot, for FDChief they had two battalions of women-at-arms parading in boots and miniskirts.  The ladies are at 1:00:45 and again at 1:03:15.  Here is a preview teaser:

And a precedent, they allowed foreign troop contingents to march at National Day for the first time ever.  Mostly the usual suspects, but also Mexico, Afghanistan, and the Republic of Fiji.  No GIs of course, but  China Central TV was kind enough to call out the contribution of Chennault's Flying Tigers.

The civilian portion of the parade had several million pompoms and flower bouquets,  angel-voiced pre-teens, high school glee clubs, 21 open-top sightseeing buses full of Civil War and Sino-Japanese War veterans too old to march, parade floats that put the Rose Parade to shame, cheek tats, ethnic minorities in traditional dress (including the much maligned Uighurs).  Lots of stone-faced suits in the reviewing stand with iron bladders.  This civilian version can be seen startin at 1:40:00 of the three-hour video above.

 Festivities are continuing through the 7th.