Friday, December 21, 2018


I haven't been thrilled with most of what I've been reading about Trump's stated decision to get the US troops out of NE Syria - most of it is pedestrian going-through-the-motions punditry, as if something is required to be said, but there's not much to say.

The best thing about the announcement is that, as part of The Clarification, it brought the Clintonistas into the open, complaining about the loss of a War For The Jews based entirely on the perceived 'win' for Putin/Assad/Iran, muttered with the usual hints of Trump corruption.  We have to recognize that the Clintonistas aren't just stupid, they are literally the lowest form of warmongering monsters.  There is not even a pretense any longer - they've gone full Dick Cheney:  "Fox News National Security Reporter: 'No One Will Ever Work Or Fight With Us In The Middle East Again'" and "On Fox 'News,' Brian Kilmeade Spouts Epic Rant Against Trump On Syria" (Amato displaying the Clinton-Murdoch mind-meld) and "Trump's Syria Withdrawal An Early Christmas Present For Putin" (Madrak; note the simultaneous lifting of some sanctions from Deripaska) and "Trump’s Hall of Mirrors" (Marshall; at least Marshall indicates that he is aware of the bizarre nature of the 'left' complaining about an end to war!).

"WATCH: Media Losing Their Minds Over Craven ‘Russiagate’ Coverage".

Note that the announcement was another Trump tweet, with apparently no head's up to anybody on the usual policy-veto list - Pentagon, IC, Cabinet, Congress, World Jewry - which is literally the only way he could get away with it!

"The IDF must cut short tunnel operation, get set for repercussions from Trump’s stunning Syria withdrawal" (DEBKAFile; my emphasis in red):
"Israel’s leaders – government, military and intelligence – were dumbfounded by US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull US troops out of Syria as part of its withdrawal from the Mid-East at large. Senior ministers received no answers to their urgent calls to the prime minister’s office and Military Intelligence (AMAN) officers for confirmation of the news. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, himself, only received word of the decision just five minutes before it hit Twitter, DEBKAfile sources have learned, although he talked to the president and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo some days ago. In recent conversations with US National Security Adviser John Bolton, as well as Pompeo, about the IDF operation against Hizballah tunnels, both US officials assured Netanyahu that he had nothing to worry about. US troops were present in eastern and northern Syria, they said, and they would not let pro-Iranian Iraqi militias come through from western Iraq to the aid of Hizballah.
Israeli officials were further dismayed early Thursday, Dec. 20, when they understood that the only leaders to receive prior notice of Trump’s decision were Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. This was inferred from intelligence of a secret deal, which the president’s adviser on Syrian affairs James Jeffrey had reached with Erdogan and which opened the way for Turkish military movements in Syria in the wake of the US pullout.
As recently as Monday, Dec. 17, Jeffrey told the Atlantic Council in Washington in a speech: “The eventual goal of the mainly-Kurdish Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) should be to become part of the fabric of a changed Syrian society. We do not have permanent relationships with sub-state entities.” This was taken as a clear repudiation of US responsibility for the fate of its Kurdish allies.
The coming issue of DEBKA Weekly (for subscribers), out on Friday, Dec.21, uncovers the secret decision-making process at the White House which led up to the Trump decision without Israel picking up a hint of its purpose. (Click here to subscribe.)
Some clues could have been picked up, for instance, from Russia’s deployment in early December of an S-300 air defense battalion in the Deir ez-Zour province of eastern Syria, without demur from Washington, although US troops were nearby. DEBKAfile alone reported the Russian move at the time.
Israel is also discovering in the last few hours that Tehran and Hizballah stayed silent when Israel launched its operation to uncover Hizballah tunnels last week – not because they were taken aback, as some Israeli officials claimed – but because they had advance notice of the US withdrawal – either from Moscow or from Ankara – and saw it being totally eclipsed in importance by the sensation about to be landed by President Trump."
This kind of surprise Twitter announcement of a big change that profoundly upset a lot of warmongers, and might even be evidence of a real reset of the American attitude to war, sends a powerful message even to the people running Mueller, that Trump has cards he can play, and is prepared to play them, if they decide to continue to mess with him.  What if he suddenly surprisingly announced a new era of friendship with Iran?!  His supporters would have no problem with that, but the 'one-issue guys' would have heart attacks.  This kind of thing if allowed to continue - metastasizing peacemongering - could turn into a fucking disaster:  "U.S. to Withdraw About 7,000 Troops From Afghanistan, Officials Say":
"President Trump made the decision to pull the troops — about half the number the United States has in Afghanistan now — at the same time he decided to pull American forces out of Syria, one official said."

"False flag confession" (Robinson):
"To summarise, what we have here are some Americans pretending to be Russians pretending to be Americans, with the aim of smearing a political candidate with what they knew to be a false accusation. And yet we are meant to trust these same people as neutral reporters on the matter of Russian ‘meddling’ in American democracy. It strikes me that they have something of a credibility problem."
"Trump’s Decision to Leave Syria Was No ‘Surprise’" (Perry; damaged, however, by saying ISIS is finished):
"While the announcement took much of official Washington by surprise, The American Conservative has learned that a select group of administration officials, as well as a handful of senior military officers, knew of Trump’s decision as early as Saturday morning. According to these officials, all of whom required anonymity in exchange for the information, Trump’s decision came as a result of a lengthy telephone exchange he had had with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday. Everything that Trump announced today, we have been told, was decided in that call.

That telephone discussion, as one of these officials told us, was the latest in “a series of conversations the two have had over the last weeks on a host of issues,” including the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Erdogan’s insistence that the U.S. extradite cleric Fethullah Gulen to Turkey, U.S. worries about Iranian meddling in the region—and continuing U.S. support for Kurdish forces operating in Syria (led by the People Protection Units—the YPG), which Turkey views as a terrorist organization. It was this last issue that was the focus of Friday’s telephone call, spurred by Erdogan’s public pledge 48 hours earlier that he was prepared to order his military into Syria to take on the YPG despite U.S. backing.

“We will begin our operation to free the east of the Euphrates [river] from the separatist organization within a few days,” Erdogan had said on Wednesday. “Our target is not American soldiers, it is the terror organizations that are active in the region.”

During Friday’s telephone call, Erdogan once again took a hard line against the Kurds, and the administration’s support for them. A part of his argument was that the U.S. had said it was allying with the Kurds to destroy ISIS which, as Erdogan argued, had been accomplished. Nor was Erdogan influenced by Trump’s contention that the U.S. needed to remain in Syria in order to check Iranian influence in the region. Erdogan, we have been told, was ready for the argument: the best hedge against Iran, he told Trump, was not the Kurds, or even the Saudis, but Turkey.

Erdogan, as it turns out, wasn’t the only one making that argument. As reported in these pages last April, senior U.S. military officers, including Gen. Curtis Michael “Mike” Scaparrotti (the highly respected head of the U.S. European Command), warned that the U.S. “marriage of convenience” with the YPG in its fight against ISIS in Syria was poisoning its relationship with Turkey—a NATO ally. Turkey, as Scaparrotti told James Mattis in March, was particularly angry that the U.S. was supporting the YPG’s deployment to Manbij, threatening Turkish forces some 70 miles away. So what is more important, Scaparrotti asked Mattis, our relationship with the Kurds, or our relationship with Turkey? Gen. Jospeh Votel, the head of Centcom, pushed back against Scaparrotti, saying that America’s “marriage of convenience” was “temporary, tactical and transactional” and essential to defeating ISIS.

And so it was that the Scaparrotti-Votel debate was both postponed (with the administration supporting Votel’s position until ISIS could be decisively defeated) and papered over—with the Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issuing regular reassurances to Turkey that the U.S.-YPG relationship was only temporary. Now, with Trump’s decision, the debate has been resolved. “Somewhere, you can bet, Joe Votel is absolutely spinning his head into the ceiling,” a senior military officer told me. “I don’t know what to call this—but it sounds like Scaparrotti’s revenge.” Perhaps, but for Syria experts and for those in the military who supported Votel’s position, while Trump’s decision on a full U.S. withdrawal came as a surprise, it might have been predicted."
"Trump’s Syrian pullout is a game changer" (Bhadrakumar).  Trump had to decide whether he wanted to fight a war with Turkey or not, a war which could lead to the end of NATO.  When Sheldon confronts him, that's the argument.  Do you want to lose NATO, and its new position as Army For The Jews, over some irrelevant desert which isn't going to let you get anywhere with Yinonizing Syria anyway?  NATO is (((your))) army for WWIII!  Putin's diplomats gamed this whole thing out, realizing from the start that the Turk-Kurd issue was the key lever to spare Syria from the planned Yinonization.

"Turkey's Erdogan Vows "All Measures" To Circumvent Sanctions On Iran" (Durden).  Although Trump got a missile order out of the withdrawal, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Turks stop squawking about Khashoggi (I can see MbS asking his bff President Jared to do something to get them to shut up!), agreeing to Iran sanctions doesn't appear to have been on the table, and there is notably no mention of Iran having to go as a precondition of American withdrawal.  "National security adviser John Bolton, who said U.S. troops would remain in Syria until all Iranian forces and Iranian-backed militias have been expelled, appears not to have been speaking for his president."!

"What Can Follow America’s Withdrawal From Syria" (Kadi):
"Knowingly or inadvertently, the American withdrawal from Syria, if it happens, will take a huge bargaining chip away from the hand of Erdogan in as far as his relationship with Russia is concerned. Erdogan will no longer be able to say to Russia that if Russia wants him to deal with America’s presence, then Russia must accept the deal with Idlib too.

In short and simple terms, the American withdrawal, if it happens, will take the decision of what happens in Idlib out of Erdogan’s hands."
"Trump Criticized For Breaking With Longstanding American Tradition Of Remaining In Middle Eastern Countries Indefinitely"  This is satire, but there is a deep political issue in taking the first step at withdrawing from a War For The Jews, a war, like all of them, that was always directly against MAGA.  You can always just pick up and leave, a reality that is officially impossible in today's beshekeled Washington.  The concentration camp guard understands the problem:  "Mattis Always Understood Trump’s Severe Defects" (we have to assume that Shlomo came around the other day, schlepping a huge thank-you bag for Mattis, who picked a very specific hill to die on):
". . . the Mattis critique is foundational: The president he serves, he suggests in his letter, does not understand the value of allies, or the immorality of disparaging and abandoning them. Trump, as my colleague David Frum notes, is abandoning America’s Kurdish allies in Syria to extremism and terror, and he is abandoning Afghanistan to the Taliban. Mattis always knew that Trump lacked an understanding of why autocracy is the enemy of the American idea. But Mattis operated under the illusion that he could change Trump’s views, or at least some of his foolish ways. Yesterday marked the end of the illusion.

Mattis’s departure also means that the United States is entering the third phase of Trump’s foreign policy. In the first year of his presidency, Trump paid attention mainly to domestic issues, and did not afflict America’s diplomatic and national-security establishment with an undue number of his ignorant and damaging foreign-policy views. In the second year, he became more destructively engaged, but he listened, on occasion, to those in his administration who possessed actual expertise in foreign policy. We are now entering the third year of his presidency, and third phase of his foreign policy: Trump alone, besieged, but believing, perhaps more than ever, in the inerrancy of his beliefs.
James Mattis knew who Trump was, and joined him anyway, because he is a patriot. And because he is a patriot, he would have remained with Trump, if he thought he could influence Trump’s policies. But whatever influence he had, he lost.
And now the dangerous part begins."
It's times like these when I would be worried about assassination.  I wouldn't expect the concentration camp guard to burn bridges with Trump if he feared Trump was going to be around much longer.

Amid all the good news, there's also still hope for Canada.  "B.C. votes to keep first-past-the-post electoral system".  Tweets by Shachi Kurl.  They wouldn't be running this up the flagpole if they didn't fear Justin was losing his mojo:  "Ottawa weighs fallout of cancelling Saudi arms deal".
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