Tag Archives: Syria

Neocons and idiots

Hey remember how I’ve said a gajillion times that since 2014, the Kremlin and its supporters abandoned all pretense of believing in national sovereignty and non-intervention and became the very same “neocons” they claim to oppose? Well shit, looks like I’m right again. Just look at that headline:

Shock and Awe: Deadly Weapons Unleashed by Russia Against ISIL in Syria

That’s right, “shock and awe.” When the US does it, it’s bad (because it actually is), but when Russia does it, it’s awesome (no, it’s not). The slideshow of shiny Russian weapons and things that explodes even contains this hilarious line at the bottom:

These are the weapons that turned the tide of the Syrian conflict and will hopefully help save the country from the encroaching Islamic State.

Turned the tide? Saved Bashar’s ass, maybe, but from the look of things we’ve yet to see Operation Bagration 2015. As it turns out, Putin’s latest brilliant gambit has only managed to help the Syrian government forces regain a pitiful amount of territory.

Anyway, with all this Russian neoconservatism, I can’t help but ask where’s Russia’s Toby Keith to make a song about this? You know what I’m talking about. How could any American forget this train wreck of a country song:

Maybe Putin can contract Keith to write a new song for Russia’s neocon war on terror, entitled “Courtesy of the White, Blue, and Red.”

CHORUS

Putin put your name, somewhere on his list

and millions of vatniks started shaking their fists

And two-headed eagle will fly

And it’s gonna be hell

When you hear Mother Russia as her head starts to swell

In it feels like the the whole world is raining down on you

Brought to your courtesy of- HEY WHO TURNED OUT THE LIGHTS?! GODDAMMIT WHAT IS HAPPENING?

 

Wow that was fun wasn’t it? Well now let’s go on to the idiots feature, where we have another gem from the smug red pill taking cool kids at Zero Hedge. As always, the author is Tyler Durden, named after a fictional character from a book so bad the movie was considerably better, though it transformed countless males of my generation into insufferable douchebags.

In this article, Tyler smacks us sheeple upside the head and drops some major knowledge on us about the Syrian war. Turns out, the US has been giving TOW anti-tank missiles to Al Qaeda! Oh wait, hang on a second. Who is their source on that?

Well now, in what can only be described as an embarrassment of truly epic proportions, al-Qaeda has released a video thanking the FSA for supplying al-Nusra with American-made TOWs. Here’s Sputnik:

Yup, Sputnik. So I followed the link to find their source.

A recently released video shows an Al-Nusra Front field commander thanking the FSA commanders for giving his forces TOW missiles, according to a report released by the Iranian news agency FARS.

And that’s it. An Iranian news agency. We don’t get to see the video they report. So I did a little research into this matter of TOWs to the FSA and found a few articles in slightly more reputable sources. This link contains a video with some information about the TOWs. In the video, note that some of the men are clearly wearing the eagle insignia of the Free Syrian Army and not anything that would suggest they are jihadists like the Al Nusra fighters.

Also note that the word moderate appears in quotes on the video. That article linked above does mention that in at least one case, Al Nusra jihadists bragged about capturing some TOW missiles from a group that was supplied by the CIA. Here’s a link to that article. So when push comes to shove, the US has certainly risked its weapons falling into the hands of Al Qaeda linked groups like Al Nusra, which is one reason they have consistently opposed supplying any rebels with man portable surface to air missiles such as Stingers. That being said, it’s a far cry from supplying Al Qaeda directly or even indirectly. Al Nusra actively fights against other Syrian rebel groups (including ISIS, incidentally), and their “thank you” to the FSA for the TOWs, if it happened at all, was most likely gloating over loot they took from a defeated enemy.

Getting back to the Zero Hedge article, the third photograph used in the post is not a TOW at all, but rather a Russian-made missile or licensed copy. I’m guessing a Kornet. Tyler Durden finishes off this failure with this pithy line:

Hopefully no one from al-Qaeda ends up firing a TOW at a Paris cafe.

Well Tyler, if you actually knew anything about TOW missiles you’d understand how idiotic that idea is, and if someone actually did manage to do that, I bet at least half of your readership would claim the whole thing was a “false flag.”

You know this guy really is kind of like Tyler Durden, in the sense that reading his theories makes you want to shoot yourself in the face to make him go away.

 

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Not gonna work

Russia expert Mark Galeotti has provided an excellent preliminary explanation of what is going on between Russia and Syria at the moment. As it turns out, if you were expecting massive combat action involving Russian naval infantry, paratroopers, and spetsnaz, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. I was in fact surprised to learn that Russia’s “naval base” in Tartus is barely a base at all. Obviously Russia wants to defend its quasi-client state and keep selling it arms, but losing the regime and the base won’t be too much of a disaster for the Kremlin.

What is striking about the explanation are these paragraphs near the end, where Galeotti writes:

“Putin is coming to the UN General Assembly in September, itself a big deal given that his last attendance was in 2005. With the prospects of an acceptable deal over the conflict in Donbas receding, with the Russian economy expected to continue to decline, he’s looking for his own “reset” and sees it in some civilizational anti-jihadist coalition.

For some time, Moscow has hoped that cooperation against IS and terrorism in general could be the leverage point to get the West to relax its tough line over Ukraine. The appointment in March of former FSB deputy director Oleg Syromolotov to a new deputy foreign minister for counter-terrorism cooperation position was an early indication, one which has borne little fruit.

So the Russians seem to be upping the ante, making Syria a battleground not so much for the preservation of an ally – though they will hardly mind if they also manage to save Assad – but instead the formation of an anti-jihadist coalition. That way Moscow does its best to wipe out IS militants in the Middle East, before they manage also to infiltrate the North Caucasus, and also makes its case to be the West’s ally against a common enemy.

It is unlikely to work. The West will gladly take what intelligence cooperation Russia offers – even while treating the fruits with a certain skepticism – and will hardly mourn any IS fighters killed by Russian bombs or Russian guns. Just as the US and Iran have an arm’s length understanding in Iraq against IS without becoming friends, so too a Russian role in Syria is not going to create any deep or lasting amity.”

If you’ve been following Russian foreign ministry statements on the Middle East, Galeotti’s theory makes a lot of sense. This strategy of finding common ground in the struggle against international terrorism goes all the way back to 2001, when Russia became a willing partner in Bush’s “War on Terror” and a founding member of US CENTCOM. In recent times there has been this refrain of “let’s all put our differences aside and unite to regulate these conflicts and fight murderous fanatics.”

Indeed, that’s a great idea. The problem is that the Kremlin blew this chance when they decided to throw a tantrum over Ukraine and pretend to be a great power opposed to the West. In my first years in Russia, you could easily find the anti-Western rhetoric if you were looking for it. The conspiracy theories, the paranoia about NATO encirclement even as the US reduced troop levels and closed bases in Europe- they were all there too. The difference in those days was that everyone kind of rolled their eyes at all of this- the people, the government, the West. You’d have various “geopolitical experts” babbling about Russia opposing “globalization” while Putin and Medvedev would be charming Western investors and ultimately managing to secure Russia’s membership in the WTO. And good for them for doing all that, because it was precisely that kind of realistic policy that helped attract investment and by extension bring better living standards to Russia. The problem was that Putin could never really take credit for it. His most reliable base consisted of nationalists, xenophobes, and generally bitter people unable to adapt to modern reality.

Western Europeans and Americans probably weren’t too aware of the anti-Western rhetoric, but who cared? There was money to be made in Russia and Russia’s elite were stocking their money away in the West. Of course we all know how that worked out, however, and with Ukraine and the subsequent failures of the Russian economy, the seeds of which predated Maidan, Putin was forced to play his anti-Western card, louder than before. He needed the new Cold War. Now the cat’s out of the bag. As Russia has begun to descend into something resembling a more traditional dictatorship, more people in the West are paying attention to its propaganda, and learning the truth: “They hate us!” People are starting to notice the disparity between what Russia’s diplomats say to their Western counterparts, and what they say to their own populace. In the former case, it’s “Let’s work together to solve the biggest problems in the region.” In the latter it’s “Look how those Gayopean degenerates bend over for the United States in their never-ending war to destroy Russia.”

In spite of all that, Russia’s leaders actually expect the West to just ignore this constant hostile rhetoric so we can all team up in Syria and Iraq like G.I. Joe and the October Guard. The worst thing is that it can’t just be dismissed as rhetoric for domestic consumption, as bad as that is. Now there are deeds to match Kremlin rhetoric, in Ukraine and in the Baltic states. I’m sorry whose fault is this? Did NATO force Russia to annex the Crimea and sponsor a military insurgency in Eastern Ukraine? Whatever Team Russia fans might say- no, it did not. Did NATO force Russia to kidnap an Estonian policeman? Nope. Putin did this, and we know why he did this. He’s painted himself into a corner and now everyone knows that he can’t normalize relations with the West at this point. Any attempt to actually do so will be seen as backing down, actually bending over, as vatniks love these prison rape metaphors, for the West. The West can happily forgive a Russia that has the courage to admit its recent mistakes and go back to normal relations with its neighbors. Nobody intelligent will cry about humiliation. Not so in Russia, and Putin and his political technologists made it this way.

So once again we have another potential gambit, no doubt cooked up by the same “geopolitical experts” who have failed to produce anything of value for Russia to date and yet who still get to keep their jobs for some unknown reason. Once again it will fail, in this case largely because it is another one of these have cake and eat it too scenarios. Russia wants to be in the club, but when they don’t measure up to the standards (which to be fair aren’t really that stringent), they start screaming about their “special path” and how they won’t be “rushed.” If Galeotti is right about the Kremlin’s motives in Syria, he’s most likely right about the outcome. The West will welcome the aid against the Islamic State, if any is truly forthcoming, but still tell Putin to fuck off from Ukraine.

The dream of a united Europe, America, and Russia saving the Levant from a mess that was arguably originally caused by the US is long dead. Putin killed it. Master strategist indeed.