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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Why the revolutions in Libya & Syria failed(so far) - the short version

As the rise of the extreme right-wing ISIS is heralded as final nail in the coffin of the Arab Spring's most revolutionary struggles, we find a bit of crowing in the bourgeois press. This week's crop gives us Libya's Arab spring: the revolution that ate its children by Chris Stephen in The Guardian on Monday and Syria’s Lost Spring by Robyn Creswell in the New York Review of Books.

IMHO it basically comes down to this: The Syrians have failed to realize the full potential of the Arab Spring, and the Libyans too, because of a lack of revolutionary Marxist leadership. That is the short story. Finito. Over and out.

They had the material conditions. They had the revolutionary situation. They had the masses! What they lacked was largely on the leadership side. How to organize and lead those forces. How to pilot the revolution through all the narrow inlets and shoals of its dangerous journey. They lacked this because any real possibility of revolutionary Marxist leadership for these struggles was denied them by those that long ago stole the banners of the Left, including Marxism, and have been using them as props as they shill for imperialism.

In both these revolutions it was pretty much guaranteed that the people would not look left for leadership since what passes for the Left these days, what occupies the ramparts we should be fighting from, either marched with Qaddafi and Assad, or stayed home while millions of thuwar (revolutionary fighters) were taking to the barricades.

I know that those who already think they know Marxism as a failed project itself, based on their contact with the past hundred years of its corruption will naturally disagree with me. Unfortunately, there is no time to bridge that gap this morning, as I said: This is the short version.

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Tunisia, Egypt and the Arab Spring

Monday, February 16, 2015

#Libya: Hailed as a Model Journalist Glenn Greenwald Proves to be the Exact Opposite

Before Glenn Greenwald ever joined and quit The Guardian, its summary of NATO's Operation Unified Protector reported, 31 October 2011, that the combined military forces from the US, UK, France, Italy, Canada, Sweden, Spain, Turkey, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Jordan, UAE, Qatar, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece had hit over 3,000 targets in Libya, including 304 ammunition dumps, 100 tanks and 55 rocket launchers. In addition:
Nato ships have also stopped over 3,000 vessels and boarded another 250 while enforcing the arms embargo.
I assume Greenwald & Company also opposed this rarely mentioned arms interdiction role NATO played in overthrowing Qaddafi. In their not so humble opinion, the "Hands Off Libya" crowd would have preferred it if Qaddafi's still active air force was able to be freely resupplied with bombs and spare parts from whoever was willing to trade stolen Libyan oil for Libyan blood and make the arms dealers' profit using Putin's line-of-credit when Qaddafi's cash ran out. They would've preferred it if Libya was still suffering as Syria is today with a death toll many times the 30,000 it took to defeat Qaddafi, because, make no mistake about it, the Libyan people are no more willing continue kneeling before a fascist dictator than the Syrian people are. So the alternative to NATO intervention in Libya was not the "peaceful and progressive" Libya of some people's fantasies. It is Syria today.

We can debate whether more than 30,000 Libyans would have met with a violent end had that world intervention not taken place, just as we can debate whether 200,000 Syrians are really dead. For some people it doesn't matter because it is not about them. Its about US. Its about the Western world, and its about scoring points for our side in political debates that see "those" countries as stages for our political dramas and "those" people as the replaceable "extras" that every "shoot" requires. Doing that with present-day Libya means replacing the real history of recent events with Western Left caricatures and fantasies. This is far from the field of journalism but it is exactly where Glenn Greenwald has wandered in his latest rant against "our own imperialist" using the Libya playhouse:

Hailed as a Model for Successful Intervention,
Libya Proves to be the Exact Opposite
16 February 2015
When Saddam Hussein was captured in 2003 by U.S. forces, Iraq War advocates boastfully celebrated the event as proof that they were right and used it to mock war opponents (Joe Lieberman and John Kerry, for instance, gleefully exploited the event to demand that Howard Dean admit his war opposition was wrong). When Muammar Gaddafi was forced by NATO bombing in August, 2011 to flee Tripoli,

So in Greenwald's learned opinion, only NATO bombing explains Qaddafi's overthrow. Unlike Greenwald, my same-day description didn't give NATO all the credit:
Shortly after nightfall in Tripoli Saturday night the Libyan liberation army encircling Tripoli combined with an uprising by freedom fighters and protesters inside of the city and NATO air support in Operation Mermaid Dawn, the final battle to liberate Tripoli and with it, the entire country of Libya from Qaddafi's 42 year dictatorship. Many people are dying tonight as Qaddafi forces are shelling parts of Tripoli at the same time DSL [The Internet connectivity that was so vital to my ability to cover these real-time events.] is coming back on in other sections.
Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, then head of the National Transitional Council told Al Jazeera:
“We planned this operation with NATO, our Arab associates and our rebel fighters in Tripoli with commanders in Benghazi.”
After a week of gathering reports and assembling the facts, I summarized:
The campaign that routed Qaddafi's Tripoli defenses in a few days was masterful! First there were the coordinated campaigns in the west coming down from the Nafusah Mountains and from in the east, west of Misrata, then the convergence on Tripoli via three major roads, from the west, east and south, together with an amphibious landing of a brigade from Misrata and the uprising by secret forces already in Tripoli. It was a brilliant victory. It showed great unity and coordination by freedom fighters from separate parts of Libya and the leadership of their command staff in spite of the assassination of their chief of staff, most likely by Qaddafi agents, only weeks before. It will go down in military history as a classic victory.
This victory wasn't all about NATO bombing. Probably the most important NATO role was providing naval transport and support for the amphibious assault from Misrata. But nevermind about that. In Greenwald's world these Libyans don't exist. They have no agency and aren't worth mentioning except as puppets and you certainly don't credit puppets along with the puppeteers. Greenwald continues:

advocates of U.S. intervention played the same game ...

Once Gadaffi was brutally killed by a mob,

If this was about Libyans and not about US, the victorious Libyan revolutionaries wouldn't be referred to as "a mob" and Qaddafi wouldn't be the first brutally killed Libyan mentioned. There would the untold thousands disappeared during his regime - they are still finding mass graves in the desert - the 1270 massacred in a day in Abu Salim prison, the 700 protesters in Green Square killed the long night of 21 February 2011 in Tripoli and maybe 2000 shot down in Benghazi before that. Certainly Libyans would acknowledge the roughly 30,000 lives it cost them to be rid of him. Most were killed by Qaddafi. Nobody who's looked at the facts says NATO bombing killed more than 75 civilians they weren't aiming at, not the New York Times, Human Rights Watch or the United Nations. But this ain't about Libyans, so we'll mourn the passing of Qaddafi first.

Does Greenwald consider how people in Libya felt about the death of Qaddafi?

advocates of intervention threw a giddy party for themselves, celebrating their own rightness and righteousness and declaring Libya a model for future western interventions.

Does anyone else get the feeling that Greenwald is not talking about the mass celebrations that broke out in Martyr's Square, until recently Qaddafi's Green Square, or all over Libya upon news of his departure? And I'll bet Greenwald wasn't thinking about Libyan followers of this blog that for the first time ever felt safe enough to start using their real names.

He can't admit to that or to the cheers that greeted NATO bombing from Tripoli rooftops [video]. Glenn Greenwald continues:

Upon Gadaffi’s fleeing, The New York Times, which editorially supported the war, published a front-page article declaring: “U.S. Tactics in Libya May be a Model for Other Efforts.” While acknowledging that “it would be premature to call the war in Libya a complete success for United States interests,”

Naturally, since the New York Times is the biggest bourgeois paper in the US, its criteria for a good outcome in any foreign land is what's best for "United States interests." Is this also the POV of Greenwald? Because the New York Times may well argue, or has argued in the past, that its best for US interests if some countries are ruled by a Qaddafi or an Assad no matter how many brutal murders have to go unmentioned. To continue with the Greenwald piece:

the paper noted that events had given “Obama’s senior advisers a chance to claim a key victory for an Obama doctrine for the Middle East that had been roundly criticized in recent months as leading from behind.”

The reason Obama "had been roundly criticized in recent months as leading from behind,” is that the US played such a minor role in the battle to overthrown Qaddafi. In the first place, to give proper credit, it was the Libyans that did the really heavy lifting and all of the ground combat. Then in terms of air support, NATO strike missions carried out by France, Britain, Italy and others played a bigger role. As I reported in July 2011:
AFRICOM spokeswoman Nicole Dalrymple said in a statement on June 29th. “As of today, and since 31 March, the U.S. has flown a total of 3,475 sorties in support of OUP. Of those, 801 were strike sorties, 132 of which actually dropped ordnance.” That was only 16.1% of the 4,963 strike sorties conducted by NATO as of June 29th with a total of 132 targets being hit.
So in the crucial first five months of the struggle to overthrow Qaddafi, US warplanes actually "dropped ordinances" to use the Pentagon euphemism, a paltry 132 times. Given, the sole Superpower status of the US, some might call that hiding in the rear, rather than leading from it. To give you a number to compare that with, between the beginning of the US air campaign against the Islamic State in August 2014 and 15 January 2015, the "allies" have carried out over 16,000 strike sorties, 60% were carried out by the US Air Force and 40% were carried out by "the US Navy and allied nations," according DefenseNews.

It could have been just a baker's dozen NATO air strikes against Qaddafi, that would have been 13 more than Obama has carried out against Assad, but that still would have been enough to allow the US Left to declare the Libyan people puppets and their revolution a NATO-backed regime change scheme.

Once the fighting stopped, the Pentagon wanted to come forward and take credit for heroic deeds, and of course, the shills of the Left like Greenward were there to help them make the story stick.

Maybe Greenwald has taken a page from the ANSWER Coalition because the rest of his piece reminded me of "No Libyans Allowed!" It reads like a who's who of Western players ..."Anne-Marie Slaughter and Nick Kristof"..."British and French leaders" ... "American and Canadian officials"..."Hillary Clinton" and so on.

Greenwald sees the conflict in Libya as very similar to the US War on Iraq. It matters little that one was started by the Libyan people and the other was started by George Bush. Greenwald is also far more concerned about whether the US participation in this UN sanctioned coalition of 19 countries was legal under US law than he is about the aerial slaughter averted in Libya.

He notes that both Iraq and Libya are a mess today. Another way to say that is that both war and revolution are messy. Greenwald probably thinks that both should be avoided. That's the main point upon which we differ. I think the heroic Libyan effort to throw off the Qaddafi dictatorship was entirely within their rights to make. I also think that they had the right to ask for international assistance. The question at the heart of the difference between Glenn Greenward and myself is the answer to the question of whether the international community, through the instrument of NATO, should have answered in the affirmative that request for assistance. It was never NATO's war to start so it was never NATO's war to end. The proper situation to compare Libya to is not Iraq, where NATO started a war; it is Syria, where NATO has claimed no responsibility to protect. The main question Greenwald should be addressing in this piece is: Would Libya be better off now if it was more like Syria today? Because last I heard, bad as it is in Libya, nobody is dropping barrel bombs on the people from helicopters.

Greenwald proclaims:

The unraveling of Libya is now close to absolute.

Greenwald blames NATO for helping to create this situation and then just going home and taking no responsibility even though that is precisely what NATO signed on to do. They had no mandate to organized a replacement Libyan state or even put boots on the ground. Their mandate was to protect Libyan civilians as long as Qaddafi was trying to kill them. Qaddafi was trying to kill them until the day he died but that day marked the end of the NATO mandate.

Greenwald & Company sound like their new complaint about this NATO enterprise is that it wasn't imperialist enough. NATO didn't go in and set up a proper colonial administration. Instead they just flew off into the sunset. That's why it's all their fault! After all, Greewald can hardly claim that after bombing Qaddafi out of power, the US is secretly running things. The CIA in Libya has been an absolute embarrassment.

No, the mess the Libyans are in is one they have made, 90%, themselves and one they are going to have to dig themselves out of. NATO had no mandate to fix the social effects of four decades of dictatorship. Just because you save someone's life, that doesn't make you responsible for them thereafter.

What occasions all this "I told you so" cackling by Greenwald about the current dire straits of the Libyan people is the recent killing of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by Egyptian jihadists living in Libya [source BBC WorldNews this evening] who claim to be members of the Islamic State. Historically, struggles in neighboring countries have often spilled over into Libya. One look at the map of Africa will show you why. Libya is almost twice the size of Egypt but compared to Egypt's 79 million people, Libya has about 6 million bunched up along the coast. A lot of Libya is pretty empty and hard for any central government to control. Qaddafi would simply send in helicopter gunships to settle tribal disputes in the outlands, but Libya is trying to move beyond that now.

The gist of this latest Greenwald piece is essentially: You overthrew Qaddafi. So now you have ISIS. Now see what you've done! He conveniently over looks any connection between the rise of the Islamists in Libya and the remnants of the Qaddafi regime. There is a lot of evidence that regime money and military expertise has played an important role in the rise of the jihadists in Libya just as it has in Iraq and Syria. It may be no accident that those Coptic Christians were abducted and murdered in Sirte, the old Qaddafi stronghold. I'm sure Greenwald remembers how Qaddafi's son Saif al-Islam declared allegiance to the Islamists and warned that the final outcome of the civil war in Libya might be an "Islamic State" just a few weeks before the fall of Tripoli? They wrote about it in the Guardian.

Greenwald sees the biggest problem with ISIS in Libya is that it is so close to Europe, again it's not about them:

Into the void of Libya’s predictable disintegration has stepped ISIS,
Far from serving as a model, this Libya intervention should severely discredit the core selling point of so-called “humanitarian wars.”

Oh, most assuredly! Syria, that non-interventionist masterpiece, also known as the greatest humanitarian crisis of the 21st century, also the real center of ISIS development, not some piss ant Egyptian jihadists imitating them in the Libyan desert, Syria! That's the model we should use going forward!

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

Friday, February 6, 2015

On Democracy Now today: Amy sends another Valentine to Bashar

This is what Amy Goodman had to say about yesterday's carnage in Syria on Democracy Now this morning:
Scores of people were killed in and around the Syrian capital of Damascus on Thursday when rebels fired a barrage of rockets into several neighborhoods and government warplanes bombed opposition-held areas.
Other than the fact that she has the rebels attacking neighborhoods and the regime attacking military positions, the report sounds pretty even handed. So why do I say this is pro-Assad propaganda? Because according to a more detailed report from EAWorldView, yesterday was one of Assad's bloodiest. 130 people were killed by the Assad regime while 6 may have been were killed by the rebel rockets Amy chose to highlight. This is typical of Democracy Now's shameful reporting on Syria and why I say "even-handed" Amy's reports on Syria are Valentines to Bashar. As Desmond Tutu famously said "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality."

This is how EAWorldView reported yesterday's deaths in Syria:
In one of the deadliest days in Syria in months, regime operations killed more than 130 people — most of them civilians — while insurgents launched more than 100 rockets into Damascus.

The headline developments were in the capital, with the faction Jaish al-Islam firing the rockets towards military positions in southern Damascus and the regime using mortars in its own attacks, apparently seeking to discredit the insurgency. State media said at least six civilians died and scores were wounded, without giving further details of the locations.

However, almost all the deaths were from regime operations elsewhere. Even as the insurgents said they were attacking Damascus in response to Syrian airstrikes on civilians in the East Ghouta area near the capital, the bombing continued. More than 40 airstrikes were carried out on Douma, northeast of Damascus, with other deadly aerial, artillery, and mortar assaults nearby.

The Local Coordinating Committees said at least 76 people were killed and hundreds wounded in East Ghouta on Thursday. The Douma attacks left 29 dead, and another 29, mostly women and children, were killed by five airstrikes on a public market in Kafar Batna.
Of course, it would be highly embarrassing and quite out character for Amy to report on deaths from regime airstrikes in East Ghouta yesterday because at the time of Assad's sarin attack on East Ghouta on 21, August 2013, the only time such attacks made it to the mainstream media, Amy paraded one conspiracy theory after another on Democracy Now to explain how Assad was being framed for the chemical deaths and those alibis look like cover stories for mass murder once it is revealed that Assad was attacking East Ghouta for many months with conventional bombs before he turned to sarin, and is still bombing and killing in East Ghouta, with conventional bombs more than a year later.

So of course, no comment from Amy.

While Victoria has her Secrets, this bombardment of Douma is one of Amy's "unmentionables."

Video Published on Feb 6, 2015

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Angelina Jolie and the Left

Angelina Jolie was recently voted the Most Admired Woman in the World in a poll conducted by YouGov in over 23 countries.

Syrian refugee: Angelina’s support gave me hope, especially
when she called Kim Kardashian a witless bimbo after Kim
misinformed people about Syria on Twitter.
There are many reasons for this, She is beautiful. She is a great actress. She is one half of a top Hollywood super-couple. But what makes her outstanding, what I have no doubt has rightfully won her the honor of being named the Most Admired Woman in the World has been her humanitarian work as a Special Envoy for the United Nations Refugee Agency and much of that work has been focused on the crisis in Syria.

Given that so many people around the world admired Angelina Jolie for this work, maybe the Left should consider how those people are likely to view the despicable track record of the Left as the world has watched more than 200 thousand people be murdered and millions made refugees by their own government.
I told them that since I’ve arrived here, all I’ve seen on CNN or NBC was news about the Malaysian airplane over and over. With all due respect for it, I think there are much more important things going on in the world – like Assad’s using chemical weapons dozens of times in limited doses during the past few weeks, barrel bombs destroying what’s left of Aleppo and Syria, or how about how Bashar fulfilled his promise that he made in the middle of 2011 and turned Syria into a new Afghanistan, or how Hizballah and Al​-Qaeda are getting more experienced and stronger, while both of them are fighting side by side against the free Syrian army, above and below the radar.
- Syrian refugee mhamou on State Department interview 14 April 2014
Over the past three years I have spilled a lot of ink explaining in detail why the Left is so wrong on Syria. Why it has been a mistake to all but ignore it. Why it is shameful to remain silent while barrel bombs rain down on hospitals, schools and apartment buildings. How their slogan "Hands off Syria" under these conditions could be read as giving Assad license to continue his slaughter without interference. Why anyone objectively reading Left literature in the past few years could reasonable conclude that, on-balance, the Left was in Assad's corner.

All of these arguments have spoken to the question or right and wrong, the moral argument that it is right to stand with the people under the heel of a dictator and wrong to stand with that dictator. Today's argument is more of a marketing argument for those who care less about the morality of their position: Perhaps its time to consider how this stand that the Left has taken on Syria, being almost as silent as the mainstream media about the suffering of the people and speaking out forcefully only when Assad was threatened, will play with a public that is much better than that. Perhaps it is time to consider just how far the Left has gone in poisoning the prospects for building a revolutionary movement from people who really care about other people.

The Left's despicable line on Syria may be one that is its old guard is comfortable with but I don't see where it has won the Left any new recruits. Today's message to the Left on Syria is that you have been selling crap and marketing it in a way that will take the Left decades to recover from.

Monday, February 2, 2015

How the Left's shill for Obama's red-line con fueled the rise of ISIS

For four years now, US President Barack Obama has been conning the world and most importantly, the Syrian people, about his support for the popular uprising to overthrow the fascist dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad. He has been playing an old con game with Assad's opposition, one best played by people with power, known as "Good Cop, Bad Cop".

In the game of "Good Cop, Bad Cop" you are confronted by two cops. One is mean, roughs you up, and is clearly intent on sending you to Hell. The other speaks out in your favor, claims to see your side, befriends you, complains about the "Bad Cop" and brings you the occasional candy bar. In the case of some "favored" Syrian rebel brigades, that might be as little as 16 bullets per man. Just enough for the shills to call them "the US-backed rebels." The "Good Cop" always claims that he would do more but for the constraints put on him by the police organization, in this case the United Nations, and his partner, in this case Vladimir Putin. The "Good Cop" works hard to convince the target that he is in the mark's corner just so that he will be in a position to pull the rug out from underneath the victim of the con at the critical moment, known as The Sting.

Getting the mark to believe something that is not true is pivotal to every con job and that's why every grift requires a shill. The Long Con says of this role "The Shill: An accomplice to the grifter, who has no apparent connection to the con. Shills are put in place to encourage the mark to act in the desired way." The book also says "Long cons play on one or both basic human frailties: greed and desperation." In the case of Syria, it has been the desperation of a people facing daily slaughter that has led the mark to seek the aid of the grifter in the first place.

Given the lack of much of a material reality behind Obama's "support for the Syrian rebels", he badly needed a shill to pull his con off. He needed a seemingly independent, or better still, seemingly oppositional voice, also loudly claiming that Obama really was for overthrowing Assad. The Left obliged him, even staging years of "Hands off Syria" demonstrations, as if! As if Obama was ever going to get militarily involved in a serious way except on Assad's side.

Obama's famous "red-line" proclamation of August 2012 has turned out to be his most cynical and destructive con job to date. At the time I said he was giving a green light to Assad's slaughter by every other means. Here we had the "Good Cop" saying, I may not be able to stop the "Bad Cops", Assad and Putin, from shelling hospitals and barrel bombing schools, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let them kill you with chemical weapons too. It was a con from the minute he said it. Who uses language like "a whole bunch of chemical weapons" in an ultimatum he wants taken seriously? Just what constitutes "a whole bunch of chemical weapons" anyway? How do we know when that red-line has been crossed?

Assad saw that angle immediately and as early as December we had reports of him using poison gas in small quantities in Homs. He made chemical weapons attacks again in April and March, they were taking place at a rate of about two a month till the August 5 attacks in Douma and Adra that sent hundreds of people to the hospital. Assad played at the edges of Obama's "whole bunch of chemical weapons" prohibition with maybe a dozen smaller attacks before he dropped the bombs that undeniably crossed the "whole bunch" threshold by killing more than 1400 people in one night in a Damascus suburb one year, to the day, after Obama's infamous red-line promise.

Obama faced a dilemma. He never expected to be called upon to deliver on his "red-line" bluff. He had only made it to seem like he was looking out for the people while signaling to Assad just how far he could go in his slaughter. Now he was being called upon to attack Assad. As I showed in Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad two years ago, that was never in the cards. What to do? No Problem! Once again it was shills to the rescue!

Some on the Left were already muddying the waters over who carried out this particular attack, with a variety of conspiracy theories that blamed someone else, usually the rebels. No matter, they often contradicted each other, Russia Today and other pro-Putin mouthpieces were giving them all coverage. Then in an unprecedented move, not followed with regards to his drone strikes before or since, Obama threw the question of keeping his word to strike Assad open to a vote in Congress.

The Left immediately cheered him for that alone as a "move to democracy" and swung into action in a campaign to vigorously oppose any US military reprisals against Assad for the chemical murders. Everyone knew that Obama was going to lose that vote, not the least of all Obama. The Brits had already modeled this maneuver. The French were going to strike Assad anyway, on their own, but Obama nipped that in the bud. As a face-saving measure, "Bad Cop" Putin rushed in with a plan by which Assad agreed to give up his sarin and other "banned" chemical weapons but would be allowed to continue to kill with chlorine, which he has done more than a dozen times since. This whole sorry episode was followed by a lot of chortling on the Left about how "We Stopped a War!" Idiots. The shill that doesn't know he's playing a role is a fool besides.

The Sting

The effect in Syria was quite different. It gave an immediate boast of a regime whose fortunes seemed to be flagging to that point. Assad had been trying the bomb the opposition out of East Ghouta for a year before he assaulted it with sarin. Two weeks before that, he'd lost Menagh, a major air force base, near Aleppo. With all his Russian and Iranian backing, he hadn't gained much ground since Qusayr. He was still bogged down around Homs and his Aleppo offensive was fizzling. Now with the CW deal, he was being rehabilitated as a player in international affairs. The threat of NATO military action had been removed, and most importantly, his military fortunes were improving on the ground in Syria, at least partially because of Obama's inaction after the Ghouta sarin attack.

When America reneged on the solemn promise of its Commander and Chief, even after "a whole bunch of chemical weapons" had been used, it had a devastating effect on Assad's opposition. In June, I wrote:
My friends in the Syrian American Council tell me that it is hard to over-estimate the negative effect on the morale of the opposition of Obama's failure to take military action ... If an army travels on its stomach, a revolution lives or dies on the morale of the masses and it seems entirely too many Syrians had too much faith in Obama and the US, so when he reneged on his promise, they took it as a shot to the gut, or rather a knife in the back. I'm told that no battlefield defeat, no new outrage from Assad, had the destructive effect on the fighting spirit of the people against Assad as this one betrayal.
Two years after the "red-line" threat and one year after the broken promise, I wrote:
Obama is being forced to order air strikes against ISIS in Iraq this August because he failed to order air strikes against Assad in Syria last September. His failure to make good on his "red-line" threat after Bashar al-Assad's Syrian army killed more than 1,400 Syrians with sarin last August was a great bonus to jihadist Islamists like ISIS and their ranks grew as a direct result. All those who looked westward as they battled against Assad felt stabbed in the back when Obama reneged on his promise. Some left the fight entirely. Some joined the anti-western jihadists.
Since then we've seen the result of this shift on the battlefield in Syria where ISIS and al Nusra have been gaining manpower and territory from the Free Syrian Army and more democratic forces. Last week Jamie Dettmer of the Daily Beast echoed the same view as he reported on one of the final acts of The Sting in Exclusive: Obama Cuts Off Syrian Rebels’ Cash:
For the Syrian rebels, uncertainties over funding changes by the CIA add doubt to already high skepticism over American policy toward the war in Syria. That skyrocketed when the Obama administration failed to enforce in 2013 its “red line” against Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons, and the skepticism has merely grown since.
Obama refused to use US air power in Syria - then, to the benefit of both Assad and ISIS. Only the people suffered. Now he attacks the body of a snake, which is ISIS, but not its head, which is Assad.

Without Assad, there would be no ISIS

Assad is also running a con and needs a shill. In this case the shill's job is to convince everybody that they are better off leaving Syria in Assad's hands. That is why from the first days of the revolution, he has cultivated the very jihadist groups he has claimed to be fighting.

He'd cultivated them before, given them safe haven in Syria while they were fighting the US in Iraq. As that wound down, he had them all locked up. When the revolution began, he let them out again. His claim was that he was fighting terrorists not democrats. It was a risky gamble but he needed a terrorist opposition to sell his story, so he helped them get set up. He even sent Syrian intelligence officers to lead them and gave them money. Most importantly, he refused to attack them while they focused their attacks on the other rebel groups, not Assad. They ran all the opposition groups out of liberated Raqqa, and made it the ISIS headquarters. Assad refused to bomb them in Raqqa. He again gave the jhadists a critical base camp and safe rear area in which to grow.

These advantages really started to have an effect after Obama's betrayal provoked the first large scale defections from the more moderate groups to ISIS. After Obama's failure to act, ISIS made steady gains in Syria. By January 2014, an invigorated ISIS, flush with new money and fighters, was ready to emerge from its sanctuary and seize control of Fallujah and Ramadi in Iraq. Mosul fell in June and ISIS seized a large stockpile of US weapons, far more than Obama ever thought about giving to the FSA. They then retreated with those arms to Syria, where they used them to conquer even more territory from Assad's opposition. Since then ISIS has been on something of a roll, gaining ground in both Syria and Iraq, despite the continuing resistance of what is left of Assad's opposition, fierce resistance by the Kurds, hundreds of US air strikes and even grudging attacks by Assad's air force.

Now that this con has entered The Sting phrase, and Obama is coming out of the closet with his support for Assad, some on the Left are talking about a "pivot" to Syria, as if Obama ever put much money where his mouth was when it came to support for Syrian democracy in the first place. They talk like its similar to his pivot to Asia, but in that case he is moving US Marines and real military assets from one theater to another. In the case of this so-called "pivot" to Syria, its not like Obama "pivoted" from enforcing a no-fly zone to bombing Assad's enemies. You can't speak of a pivot between phony "support" for the revolution and real support for the counter revolution. What the naive refer to as "The Pivot" after its been sprung, the con artists call "The Sting" because they knew that was the end game all along. Only people who don't understand how "Good Cop, Bad Cop" works talk about a "pivot." They sit up nights in their jail cell wondering why their "Good Cop" pivoted.

This whole affair is a testament to the power of the "Good Cop" tactic. It is well known in police circles that the target usually caves-in to the "Good Cop." Remember the words of that old general that was one of Smiley's People in the John Le Carre novel by the same name, "Enemies I do not fear, Villem. But friends I fear greatly" The truth is air strikes against Assad for using "a whole bunch of chemical weapons" was never in the offing. It was only put out there, together with the 16 bullets, so that Obama could be in the position of pulling the rug out from under at the critical moment. All that was necessary was for Obama to throw the decision to Congress so that the Left could give him cover and, in fact, take credit for, this Sting, [which 95% of the Left counted a great victory they had won!!??]

Get the Net: Revolutions cannot be defeated by military might but they can be defeated by betrayal and back stabbing.

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Verizon's joke tech support & my broke Samsung S5

I woke up one morning recently and found that the screen of my new Samsung Galaxy S5 looked like this:

I also found that while I could move the black barred rectangular graphic that said "Overlay #1:1260x720, 213 dpi, secure" around with my finger, and even resize it. I couldn't get rid of it.

Verizon is my carrier, so naturally I called Verizon Wireless tech support. Was that ever a waste of time!

Three times I navigated their voice prompt maze to finally get a live person who put me on hold and eventually hung up on me. Beyond power cycling the device and removing the battery, solutions which I had already tried before I called, the only other option I was offered was to remove all my apps and user data and reset the phone to the factory defaults in the blind hope that that would fix the problem because they had never seen or heard of this problem before and had no idea what was causing it.

They were sure that it wasn't their problem however. Even though it affected all screens all the time, they said it must be caused by a third party app that I downloaded from the Google Play Store. They said just start deleting apps till it went away. No, they had no idea what app might be causing it but definitely not one of their built in ad-bloat apps that you can't delete anyway. Definitely must be a third party app. You know that Google Play Store. Anybody can upload to it. All kinds of viruses and worms...

Or call Samsung, they made the phone. Here's Samsung's number. I called Samsung and I got put on hold there too. Once I even called Verizon and they got a Samsung tech and transferred me but he lost me too. When they lose you, you never have a way to get back to the same person and pick up the same conversation, and of course, they never call you back, even though you know perfectly well they have your number.

Later I went on Twitter to gripe, and since all of these corporations have a social-media team that looks out for such things, it wasn't long before I picked up a response. What follows is my Twitter conversation with Verizon over the next few days. I still don't have my phone fixed. Verizon has never really tried to fix it, only to pass the buck and avoid responsibility. I have learned to work around it but somehow, I still feel I am being cheated.




























But they do bill my wireless charges on that same landline bill.