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Obama Goes To Pentagon As Free Syrian Army Nears Collapse

Next Cold War Roundup 12/14/15

M/W/F 10ish AM Eastern.


FSA on the Verge of Collapse

_ Stars & Stripes is reporting that the Free Syrian Army is on the verge of collapse which means the US-led anti-ISIS coalition would have a hard time creating a ground force.  At the same time, an Al Qaeda leader, in an interview last week, said the FSA doesn’t exist (see below).

The main Western-backed Arab rebel group in Syria appears on the verge of collapse because of low morale, desertions, and distrust of its leaders by the rank and file, threatening U.S. efforts to put together a ground force capable of defeating the Islamic State and negotiating an end to the Syrian civil war.

ISIL Strategy

_ Pres. Obama will make a “rare appearance” at the Pentagon today to “to try to explain his strategy for stopping the Islamic State group abroad and its sympathizers at home” at a meeting with his National Security Council, after which he will give a speech on ISIL strategy.  Will they publish photos of him in a big war room as the Russians have done several times recently? “Working to ease public jitters ahead of the holidays, President Barack Obama will use visits to the Pentagon and the National Counterterrorism Center this week to try to explain his strategy for stopping the Islamic State group abroad and its sympathizers at home.”

_ During his weekly address, Obama focused on terrorism: “Our military has been stepping up its campaign to destroy ISIL”… “we will continue to move forward on all fronts” … and said he will go to the Pentagon to “review our military campaign”.  That sounds like it could be another escalation.  He also said Homeland Security would “update its alert system.”  At the end of the address, this URL was displayed: “WH.GOV/ISIL” where you find a section of the web site dedicated to “The U.S. Strategy to Defeat ISIL and Combat the Terrorist Threat.”

Syrian War Negotiations / “There is no “Free Syrian Army”

_ Chatham House fellow translates statements from this interview with al Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria) leader who says there is no Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Syrian National Coalition political leaders have no control over the various fighters on the ground.  In previous years, fighters on the ground said similar things about General Idris who has held several leadership roles in the Coalition military council and command of FSA.


_ Turkey began moving some of the disputed troops out of Iraq. PM said it would “reorganize” troops at Bashiqa camp. Erdogan said no way they’d remove all troops.

“Empire Never Has Enough”

_ Abby Martin interviews Lawrence Wilkerson. “Today, he is honest about the unfixable corruption inside the establishment and the corporate interests driving foreign policy… Hear a rare insider’s view of what interests are behind U.S. wars, the manipulation of intelligence, the intertwining of the military and corporate world, and why the U.S. Empire is doomed.”  Wilkerson has some interesting things to say about Syria. First he says they are almost out of ordnance so the armaments industry is euphoric.  He said that intelligence is still being cooked in order to start wars and during the time when US govt was claiming Assad crossed the chemical weapon “red line” in 2013, which was being used as justification to go to war, he checked out the claim and found that none of the sources had real evidence and in fact the evidence was stronger that one of the other parties had done it.

Wilkerson also says the all volunteer force is becoming so expensive, it’s going to bankrupt the DoD, so a draft or some other solution is going to have to be considered.  On Afghanistan, he said the war has morphed and is now about China, the “soft underbelly” of Russia, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Kurdistan, “and ultimately about oil, water, and energy in general” which will mean US will be there for “another half century, and it will grow.”   Plus, much more. A must listen.



_ Jarabulus is an important ISIS-held border crossing on the western bank of the Euphrates, just south of the Turkish border and across the river from the Kurds. The loss of Jarabulus would isolate ISIS and anger Turkey.  Syrian Kurds (YPG) have been planning to capture Jarablus since last summer, but they had planned to do it in coordination with the US, according to one of their leaders in September which they admitted might be tricky for US/Turkish relations.  But now the Russians are doing the airstrikes.


_ Things are not going well for the Saudis and other Gulf States in Yemen. I can remember last year when people familiar with Houthis and Yemen warned that taking them on was not a good idea, and some recollections of what happened to the Egyptian army when they tried it.  Plus there’s the whole thing about people defending their homes and families vs. mercenaries and invaders.


Back in Afghanistan

_ Another case of undisclosed American combat troops in places where the president has told the country we no longer do combat operations — “A Western diplomat said last week that United States Special Operations forces had been engaged in combat in Helmand for weeks, and that there were more American forces fighting there than at any time since President Obama last year announced a formal end to combat operations in Afghanistan.”


World War Between Nuclear Powers

More and more people are realizing the risk of the unthinkable, a world war between nuclear powers, is very real right now:

_ Dan Ward, retired Air Force Lt. Col: The Only Winning Move: Nuclear deterrence means knowing how not to fight

Paul Craig Roberts, former Asst. Secretary of Treasury, says unless Russia can wake up Europe, “war is inevitable”.

_ Alastair Crooke, former MI6 and former diplomat: “In short, Russia is being offered only the binary choice: to acquiesce to the ‘benevolent’ hegemon, or to prepare for war” in his recent column titled “Cornering Russia, Risking World War III.”

War on Terror

_ The Unbearable Lightness of America’s War Against the Islamic State.  Walt says if we were really serious about counterterrorism: we’d be more honest about how small a threat it actually is in America; we’d be more honest about our own role; we’d pressure the media to stop fearmongering; we’d ridicule terrorism groups; we’d lean on our “allies” who enable terrorists.

So why haven’t we seen a serious and sustained effort to put the terrorist threat in perspective? The answer is, in part, because people and institutions with a vested interest in hyping the danger tend to dominate public discourse on this topic. Do you really expect the CIA, NSA, FBI, or the vast array of well-paid “counterterrorism” experts to offer reassuring testimony about these risks, when their own budgets, bureaucratic clout, autonomy, and prominence depend on keeping us trembling in our socks? As long as we have an unserious understanding of the danger, we’re going to have unsuccessful policies and a country that reacts from fear instead of common sense.

_ Um, drone motherships…


Joanne Leon

Joanne Leon

Joanne is a blogger with focus on issues of war and peace, a mom, engineer, software developer and amateur photographer.