Posts Tagged ‘Foreign Policy’

So What The Hell Is Going On in Syria?

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

The problem with doing an update on Syria is that I’m not sure anyone knows what the hell is going on there.

The motivations of the major local players are clear: Assad wants to survive and maintain power, while his paymasters in Iran want to back him and the Shia against the Islamic State and other Sunni groups. The Islamic State wants to establish its brutal medieval caliphate over first Mesopotamia and the Levant, then the entire Ummah, then the entire world, exterminating Shia and subjugating Christians and Jews to dhimmitude along the way. The Saudis want to back Sunnis (possibly including the Islamic State). The Kurds just want to survive. Etc.

However, what Barack Obama and Vladamir Putin want is considerably less clear.

Obama, after royally screwing Iraq by pulling U.S. troops out after Bush had largely stabilized it (at great expense in money and lives), seems to want to fight a pretend air war against the Islamic State and a pretend insurgency against Assad in order to keep reporters from asking him about it, thus kicking the can down the road for the next President to deal with. (Then again, perhaps this gives Obama too much credit. Maybe, like Jeremy Corbyn’s desire to give the Falklands back, Obama screwed up Iraq just for the pure leftish joy of undoing the achievements of a conservative leader he loathed…)

What does Putin want to accomplish in Syria? Prop up a military equipment-buying client state in Syria? Support a more important client state in Iran? Give Obama a black eye? Keep Russians distracted from domestic economic woes with military adventurism abroad? Make Russia the dominate political power in the Middle East, filling the vacuum Obama left with America’s withdrawal and betrayal of regional allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia? Actually destroy the Islamic State? Take the Shia side in a the wider Sunni-Shia conflict?

Here are some links on Syria:

  • Zero Hedge sees the beginnings of a regional war.

    If Russia ends up bolstering Iran’s position in Syria (by expanding Hezbollah’s influence and capabilities) and if the Russian air force effectively takes control of Iraq thus allowing Iran to exert a greater influence over the government in Baghdad, the fragile balance of power that has existed in the region will be turned on its head and in the event this plays out, one should not expect Washington, Riyadh, Jerusalem, and London to simply go gentle into that good night.

    Sure enough, some experts now predict Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey will move to counter Russia militarily if Moscow continues to rack up gains for Assad.

  • Andrew McCarthy comes out against U.S. intervention:

    The Syrian mess has gotten messier because Vladimir Putin, with all the unpredictability of the morning sun, has invaded Syria on behalf of Assad and Putin’s more important ally Iran — Assad’s longtime string-puller. The Russian strongman’s claimed purpose is to fight the Islamic State — a pretext no more real than was the supposed need to protect indigenous Russian populations that Putin cited in invading Georgia, Crimea, and Eastern Ukraine.

    Putin, with China’s indulgence, is obviously attempting to fortify a sphere of anti-American influence across the Middle East. Anti-Americanism in this Islamic-supremacist region long predates Putin, of course. What has changed is that the United States is governed by a man of the hard Left — a president who is sympathetic to the Islamist narrative about American imperialism, ambivalent at best about American power, and determined to diminish America’s regional commitments, and thus American influence.

  • Disclaimer: Newsweek.

    The move provides a foothold in a part of the world that the Soviet Union was kicked out of four decades ago. At a moment when the United States appears to be washing its hands of the increasingly bloody and chaotic region, it gives Russia an expanding military presence in the Mediterranean on the doorstep of a NATO ally (its newly established airfield at Latakia in eastern Syria sits just 75 miles from the border with Turkey), and the gambit may yet serve as leverage with the West as Putin seeks to get out from under economic sanctions imposed as a result of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in Ukraine.

  • Vladimir S. Patton.
  • “Putin’s policy is ugly — Russian airstrikes produced immediate reports of civilian casualties — but effective for its purpose. Obama’s policy is high-minded and prudent, but it has been painfully ineffective.”
  • And there are already reports that Russian planes have already violated Turkey’s airspace. And remember that Turkey is still a member of NATO…
  • The pathetic failure of the Pentagon’s efforts in Syria indicate that if anything, this culture of self-congratulation and failure [in Obama’s Department of Defense] is getting more entrenched.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • The problem for America is that a logical Middle East policy is impossible as long as Obama is President and Kerry is Secretary of State.

    Can Putin achieve long-term victory in Syria where Obama’s fecklessness couldn’t? Maybe. Can Iran and Russia together crush the Islamic State? If Russia wanted to commit serious ground combat forces (think Operation Iraqi Freedom), probably, but that would be an exceptionally expensive move that would spread Russian forces dangerously thin elsewhere. But considering that does not appear to be Russia’s immediate goal, which seems to be crushing the Free Syrian Army and allied forces in Western Syria, expect the war against the Islamic State to drag out indefinitely.

    Except for the Kurds (which Obama’s feckless policies have refused to adequately support), the Syrian Civil War is bad guys vs. bad guys all the way down. Assad surviving, or a long-running war between Russia and the Islamic State, are far from the worst possible outcomes…

    LinkSwarm for October 2, 2015

    Friday, October 2nd, 2015

    How about a short LinkSwarm to get the Friday LinkSwarm back on Friday?

  • Bernie Sanders roughly matches Hillary’s fundraising total. Man, she’s going to need to start raking in a lot more foreign bribes…
  • This just in: Jeb Bush’s poll numbers suck.
  • “So we know that 99% of the data has been adjusted, and we know that over 80% of the reported warming in the lower 48 States over the entire 20th Century was due to adjustments – the raw data simply do not show this warming.”
  • Mark Steyn offers another dispatch from post-Jewish Europe. Bonus: Facebook is going to “do more” to suppress anti-“refugee” posts.
  • Islamic State fighters start defecting because ISIS can’t make payroll. Time to consider marrying Len Trexler…
  • Obama Administration grants asylum to 1,519 foreigners with terrorist ties.
  • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says he’s no longer bound by Oslo Accords. Because why should you let a little piece of paper get in the way of the all-important task of exterminating the Jews?
  • Dear Brookings Institute scholars: Please note that you’re not allowed to have opinions different from those of Elizabeth Warren. (Hat tip: Moe Lane.)
  • The Oregon shooter was a mixed race skinhead who targeted Christians. By the time the media gets done, he’ll be an “angry white man.”
  • Five benefits from owning guns. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll on Instapundit.
  • Eight members of Iran’s women’s soccer team are actually men.
  • LinkSwarm for September 29, 2015

    Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

    Another LinkSwarm. And if you’re live in Austin, don’t forget the meetup/blogshoot on October 10th.

  • Theory: The people flooding into Europe are innocent families of refugees fleeing war. Reality: “young men [heaving] rocks at the authorities and showing up on YouTube videos shouting Allahu Akbar.”
  • “There is something shallow and decadent about a pontiff who prioritizes “climate change” even as every last Christian is driven from the Archeparchy of Mosul. What will they say of such a pope? That he fiddled with the thermostat while Rome burned?”
  • If the illegal alien crisis threatens to collapse the EU, it wasn’t very strong to begin with, was it?
  • Why are liberals in love with radical Islam?

    One theory:

    I increasingly think the Democrat/Muslim union has to do with old-fashioned relativism. Democrats don’t actually believe that women’s rights and gay rights apply to everyone; white people: sure. Arabs? Well, who am I to judge? And Muslims know this.

    When Robby George is just dumbfounded as to why all these Muslims support the party of abortion on demand and gay marriage, the answer seems pretty clear to me: They’re supporting the party of abortion on demand and gay marriage for infidels


    I think the issue is more that they see Muslims as a new potential mascot group that they can champion and therefore obtain that cheap sense of moral superiority that comes with riding in like a white knight. I think a lot of liberal attitudes towards minorities aren’t actually based on the good of the minorities, but how good it makes the liberals feel to champion them. Muslims are (as of now) a tiny, insignificant minority. They’re mostly kinda swarthy, so the “it’s racism” meme is easily transferable, and a significant chunk of liberals loathe Christianity.

  • A map of worldwide Islamic State attacks.
  • In the little town of Bethlehem/Things have gotten quite scary/Islamists have gotten out and torched/the local monastery.
  • You might want to hold onto your hate for this shocking revelation: Hillary Clinton lied under oath about her secret e-mail server.
  • And polls show that Vice President Joe Biden is way, way more popular than Clinton.
  • Reminder: Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign started the “birther” movement.
  • Ten times John Boehner caved into liberals.
  • Pacifica radio station institutes socialist democracy and promptly starts to spiral down toward bankruptcy. (Hat tip: Powerline.)
  • Dealing drugs while on the DEA payroll? Automatic firing? Ha! Remember: Obama Administration. 14 day suspension.
  • Cobynite solutions belong in the realm of fantasy.” Keep in mind that I disagree with possibly three-quarters of the writer’s analysis, but still share his conclusion….
  • The World According to Xi Jinping. Sounds like a whole lot of vague platitudes…
  • “German Rheinmetall shows off 80 kilowatt naval combat laser with four 20 kw laser barrels.” Though until they can demonstrate the system through actual field testing, I wouldn’t get too excited.
  • How did I miss the fact that McGruff The Crime Dog is currently doing 16 years for possessing a marijuana grow operation and a grenade launcher?
  • Muslims Vs. Octoberfest

    Thursday, September 24th, 2015

    You may have heard that Angela Merkel has performed a 180 degree flip on allowing those 800,000 “refugees” (read: Muslim illegal aliens, most from outside Syria) to settle in Germany.

    Idiocy like this certainly isn’t going to convince Germans to let more Muslims in:

    Muslims in Germany Demand End to “Un-Islamic” Oktoberfest

    Dear City council of Munich,

    I am writing this letter to bring to your attention something that I
    and many Muslims believe is unfair and requires attention. I would like to inform you that the Oktoberfest is an Intolerant and Anti-Islamic event. We tried to ignore the event, but there too many Un-Islamic acts done at the Oktoberfest. Such as alcohol consumption, public nudity etc.

    We understand that the Oktoberfest is a yearly German tradition, but we, Muslims, can not tolerate this Un-Islamic event, because it offends us and all Muslims on the earth. We are requesting the immediate cancellation of the upcoming Oktoberfest event.

    Yeah, you go ahead and try to prevent Germans from celebrating Oktoberfest or drinking beer. Because pissing off Germans is such a proven route to happiness…

    $500 Million for 54 Syrian Rebels?

    Saturday, September 19th, 2015

    Anyone paying attention has long known what a miserable failure Obama’s Syrian strategy (such as it is) against Bashar Assad has been. But only recently has it come to light just how ridiculously expensive that miserable failure has been:

    The aim was to identify reasonably secular moderate fighters in Syria, transfer them to third-party countries in the region, train them, equip them, and reintroduce them into the theater of operations. By August of this year and $500 million later, the Pentagon acknowledged that only 54 Syrian rebels had been prepared for combat. Less than a month later, almost all of them had been killed or captured.

    $500 Million for 54 guys? What were they, hand-crafted artisanal rebels? Where did the money go? Did they hire Damien Hirst to make each of their 54 uniforms? Did each of the 54 make a $1 million donation to the Clinton Foundation? Even by the pathetic standards of the Obama Administration that’s a ridiculous amount of graft, fraud and waste. You could easily have trained and equipped an effective mercenary brigade for that much money.

    There were actual reasons to support the removal of Assad early in the Obama Administration, but the rise of the Islamic State rendered most of them obsolete. Now that Obama and Kerry have rolled over to let Assad’s paymasters in Tehran rub their furry bellies, there’s no point in pretending to equip opposition fighters beyond Obama’s desire to keep up the facade of a Syrian policy as a sop to his wounded vanity.

    Since Obama can’t topple Assad and is singularly unwilling to fight a real war against the Islamic State, at this point we should probably just let Iran, Syria and Russia try their hands at crushing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s barbaric caliphate. A long, grinding Sunni-Shia civil war in Mesopotamia is probably among the least bad outcomes available for the region after Obama’s serial bungling…

    (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll on Instapundit.)

    “The left is why they leave the left”

    Friday, September 18th, 2015

    When you start grabbing a third pull quote from a piece is when you realize that it needs a post of its own. Such is the case with this Nick Cohen piece on why Jeremy Corbyn’s election has finally forced him to leave the left. Though centered on UK politics, much of it applies to the social justice warrior/victimhood identity politics left in this country as well.

    The shift of left-wing thought towards movements it would once have denounced as racist, imperialist and fascistic has been building for years. I come from a left-wing family, marched against Margaret Thatcher and was one of the first journalists to denounce New Labour’s embrace of corporate capitalism — and I don’t regret any of it. But slowly, too slowly I am ashamed to say, I began to notice that left-wing politics had turned rancid.


    The shift of left-wing thought towards movements it would once have denounced as racist, imperialist and fascistic has been building for years. I come from a left-wing family, marched against Margaret Thatcher and was one of the first journalists to denounce New Labour’s embrace of corporate capitalism — and I don’t regret any of it. But slowly, too slowly I am ashamed to say, I began to notice that left-wing politics had turned rancid.

    In 2007 I tried to make amends, and published What’s Left. If they were true to their professed principles, my book argued, modern leftists would search out secular forces in the Muslim world — Iranian and Arab feminists, say, Kurdish socialists or Muslim liberals struggling against reactionary clerics here in Britain — and embrace them as comrades. Instead, they preferred to excuse half the anti-western theocrats and dictators on the planet. As, in their quiet way, did many in the liberal mainstream. Throughout that period, I never heard the BBC demanding of ‘progressives’ how they could call themselves left-wing when they had not a word of comfort for the Iraqi and Afghan liberals al-Qaeda was slaughtering.

    The triumph of Jeremy Corbyn has led to What’s Left sales picking up, and readers acclaiming my alleged prescience. Grateful though I am, I cannot accept the compliment. I never imagined that left-wing politics would get as bad as they have become. I assumed that when the criminally irresponsible Blair flew off in his Learjet, the better angels of the left’s nature would re-assert themselves.

    What a fool I was.


    The fact remains that the Labour party has just endorsed an apologist for Putin’s imperial aggression; a man who did not just appear on the propaganda channel of Russia, which invades its neighbours and persecutes gays, but also of Iran, whose hangmen actually execute gays. Labour’s new leader sees a moral equivalence between 9/11 and the assassination of bin Laden, and associates with every variety of women-hating, queer-bashing, Jew-baiting jihadi, holocaust denier and 9/11 truther. His supporters know it, but they don’t care.


    The half-educated fanatics are in control now. I do not see how in conscience I can stay with their movement or vote for their party. I am not going to pretend the next time I meet Owen Jones or those Labour politicians who serve in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet that we are still members of the same happy family. There are differences that cannot and should not be smoothed over.

    I realise now what I should have known years ago. The causes I most care about — secularism, freedom of speech, universal human rights — are not their causes. Whatever they pretend, when the crunch comes, they will always put sectarian unity first, and find reasons to be elsewhere.

    Read the whole thing.

    (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)

    Do You Know More Foreign Policy Than Donald Trump? Take This Quiz

    Saturday, September 5th, 2015

    I got six of six. And anyone who doesn’t know who the Kurds are since no later than 1991 shouldn’t be President…

    (Hat tip: Ace of Spades.)

    For Labor Day Weekend: A Look Back At Solidarity

    Friday, September 4th, 2015

    For Labor Day weekend, here’s a look back at the birth of Solidarity in Poland.

    Bottom Ranked Film on IMDB is a Turkish Government Propaganda Film

    Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

    I take a look at the Internet Movie Database Bottom 100 List from time to time. Recently I was surprised to see a film called Kod Adı: K.O.Z. shoot to the top (it’s currently ranked the third worst film ever made), wince I had never heard of it. Turns out it’s a propaganda film by Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s scumbag Islamist government in Turkey.

    Let’s look at a few user reviews:

    This is presumably the worst propaganda film ever shot in the entire history of cinema. It gives a highly biased and re-written account of the recent political corruption scandals in Turkey; the so-called 17-25 December corruption and bribery investigations in the year of 2013. What happened in reality was that, despite obvious evidence, the barefaced government officials including the back-then prime minister (the current president of the republic) insisted to call the investigations as a coup d’etat, and produced a surrealistic storyline to cover the allegations. The film intends to prove the unbelievable and mind-blowing theses of the government.

    If anybody is curious about this movie and wonders why there are so many negative comments about it, that’s because it’s the “WORST” movie ever, I mean it. It’s completely waste of time, don’t even spend your time to watch it if you still haven’t. This movie itself is the proof of how much Turkey resembles Nazi Germany nowadays.

    Dear IMDb! please add a no star option cause if I give this film one star this will be an insult for the films which deserve one star. This is the worst and most disinformatic film I ever watched in my life. Please surf on facebook chatting with friends or what instead of watching this film cause it really really full of lyings and I and the people of Turkey is sure that this film is ordered by the current government of Turkey ruled by dictator Erdogan and the government even can put you in prison if you have a poll company and the resutl of you poll is against the gov. There are a lot of journalist are in prison in Turkey that there sine is to write against the gov. And there are hundereds of legal sound and video recording of Erdogan and his ministers that are particpiating in the Turkey’s big corruption in the history, instead of answering for their corruption they put the polices in jail. and the government bought more than 90% of the media and even republic media are used actively against the people in Turkey and in this situation how can you believe this film that when asked the director about the film that is biased, he answered that I have chosen my side. Long Live Tolerance, dialogue and peace in the world.

    It’s obvious that English is not the first language of many reviewers (which makes sense, since it’s a Turkish film), but they seem united in pronouncing it and incompetently made and a wretched piece of propaganda for a brutal, corrupt dictatorship.

    LinkSwarm for August 21, 2015

    Friday, August 21st, 2015

    Small LinkSwarm this time.

  • “Hillary Clinton is the contemporary poster child for special privileges for the rich and powerful.”
  • Latest Iran deal revelation: Iran gets to self-inspect their own nuclear site. But Kerry did get them to agree to pinky swear they’re telling the truth…
  • Obama and his party. “No president in modern times has presided over so disastrous a stretch for his party, at almost every level of politics.” Caveat the first: Although I think the phrase “there’s neither a Great Depression nor a criminal conspiracy in the White House to explain what has happened” is probably false on both counts. Caveat the second: Notice how the article carefully omits any mention of the specific Obama policies that have made his party so unpopular…
  • From back in June: Karl Rove lied about Ted Cruz. (Hat tip (tangentially): Perry vs. World, where Evan seems to have woken from his summer slumber…)
  • I really want to believe this Atlantic piece on how Russia is losing in Ukraine, but I just don’t. This one sentence has so much wrong with it I have trouble trusting the rest of the article: “Shale, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and renewables—three areas where Russia is extremely weak—are ascendant and are dramatically altering the market.” Shale’s a solid play if you’ve already tapped out more easily-extracted hydrocarbons (I doubt Russia has), LNG is a profitable byproduct if you’re already extracting oil, but at today’s market prices (which have sucked since 2009) it’s not worth pursuing on its own, and renewables? Hippie, please
  • Muslim beats wife in front of police, saying they can’t arrest him because she’s his property.
  • Slovakia to the EU: Screw you, we’re not taking any Muslim refugees. (Hat tip: Jihad Watch.)
  • Movement in Spain tries to erase Salvador Dali from history. You’ll get my Salvador Dali from me when you pry the melting clocks out of my burning hands!
  • Could Google rig the next election?
  • It’s a Goldman-Sachs world. We just live in it…
  • Three students at the “Homestead Job Corps” murder a fourth. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that program isn’t working…
  • Missed this from earlier in the year: Arkansas cops attempt to plant malware on a lawyer’s computer, fail miserably.
  • Joe Straus is backing Jeb Bush. I don’t imagine that this will come as a shock to anyone…