The United States military’s endless war against everything, everywhere, all the time … is spreading:
The experts agree; the war in in Syria and Iraq is a big one, it has many adversaries, etc. They neglect to mention the war showing up in Raleigh, North Carolina; Tulsa or a suburb of Minneapolis … or in your town. The wars are supposed to remain at a safe distance felt only as pangs of gratification before and during sporting events. Now the dogs are running wild, who will they bite next?
Maybe a better question is how much does it all cost and who’s paying?
Islamic State had an amazing run, if only for its outrageous, mind-torquing audacity. Like a bad LSD trip amped with Jack Daniel’s and crystal meth, ISIS was so idiosyncratically, disgustingly, CRAZY … so embedded at the very center of Warholian pop- slash media culture … it made for Great TV. But, like all other fashions it had its fifteen milliseconds of fame … Poof! There it went!
As for hard evidence of Islamic State’s incapacity; this is all you will ever need:
There is other evidence: Turkey’s entry into northern Syria a few weeks ago was the equivalent to a surrender document: if Islamic State was able to defend its supply lines, it would have done so. Instead, the patron (Turkey) had to scramble to fill the vacuum left by its fleeing agent; an action that speaks for itself.
If you can’t see the connection between Syria, Middle East, Dallas and Baton Rouge you aren’t looking hard enough. War has become ‘business by other means’, one that kills off its clientele. A ‘thug’ in one place is the same as a ‘militant’ in another; what pays is the process of identifying threats then bumping them off. If the ‘threats’ are not inherently dangerous — hapless Negroes in the wrong place at the wrong time or bumbling agents of a Nato ally — so much the better!
What keeps ISIS alive and menacing in the Western mind is the marketing. When intelligence officers, generals, talking heads on your favorite news outlet report ‘the danger of Islamic State’ or an ‘Islamic State Offensive’, Abu Hajaar is who they are talking about, (March, 2016).
Keep in mind, it is in the interest of the Ponzi Pentagon and its partners to inflate the capabilities of ISIS to serve its own interests. Terrorists and threat of attacks are the sole justification for US military intervention in Syria and Iraq. Without Islamic State there is no bombing Islamic State; there is no need for Operation Inherent Resolve, no need for thousands of ‘operators’ (mercenaries) on the ground, no need for bases and their supply requirements and their fleets of contractors; no need to spend billions per day combating a group that for all practical purposes does not pose a threat. If the Islamic State was audacious, so is the fraud that has been erected around it!
Perhaps by way of his lonely and painful death Abu Hajaar offers us all something of value. The US government’s absurdities are revealed. Sadly, citizens are too entangled in the non-stop media crossfire to recognize the fraud for what it is, they can’t grasp it or they don’t want to; the marketing is too comforting.
The Islamic State is still dangerous … but only within the capacities of the individuals associated with the group. The ‘Monkey-Piano’ hypothesis suggests given enough time a roomful of monkeys with pianos will produce the complete works of Shostakovitch. Give the same monkeys much less time and a roomful of Kalashnikovs, they will kill everything downrange including themselves, yet the United States military is not going to go to war against monkeys!
By the end of 2011, the Pentagon had been ‘invited out’ of Iraq, it was hunting for opportunities to expand its presence in the region. The great wave of social change set into motion by the US invasions eight years prior was breaking across the Arab world, taking the form of a generalized uprising against the status quo. The wave had already broken over Syria; demonstrations against the Bashar Assad government had morphed into vicious street fighting and a divide in the country. The government was able to control- or contest the heavily populated western half of the country from Latakia on the Turkish border to Jordan in the south, the lightly populated east was left to fend for itself.
Arrayed against Assad and his army was a grab-bag of revolutionary militias operating as the Free Syrian Army. Some groups were comprised of disaffected civilians able to arm themselves and organize. Others were recent defectors from the Syrian army. Assad had emptied his prisons of criminals so as to refill them with political enemies. Many of those released had military experience or were Islamic extremists, they signed up with the FSA. Assad would later point to these individuals as the terrorists he was fighting against … begging for aid while holding himself up as a defender of Western civilized values at the same time.
The distress in Syria offered possibilities for the US partnership that included Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Arabs were intent on using the disturbances elsewhere to deflect or short-circuit their own malcontents. Ankara’s dilemma revolved around the country’s lack of domestic petroleum resources. Turkish motorists were burning through two hundred fifty million barrels of imported oil per year, paid for with borrowed euros and dollars. The result was increasing pressure on the economy and the lira. Turkey could look toward Greece to see what happens when those funds had to be repaid; to Argentina to see what happens when they were not. Turkey had the region’s most powerful military, it could invade its neighbors easily, winning afterward was hard. Dictator-in-waiting Tayyip Recep Erdogan and his generals could look to the US mis-adventure in Iraq and see the difficulty in making off with another country’s resources.
Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbors were looking for advantage vs. Iran over market access for their petroleum. This contest had evolved over time into a proxy war that occasionally boiled over. The US didn’t mind, instability is one of its top exports. Resources lurking underground might indeed be hard to steal but grabbing consumption was child’s play. Consumption was a complex, above-ground undertaking with many dependencies including the need for (expert) management, complex infrastructure and hard currency loans. A wrench in the right spot would strip the gears, a pin would pop the balloon. Whatever could not be consumed in a ‘Brand X’ country would be available to Americans; even if a producer like Libya or Iraq could not use its own oil it would still export. As Sherlock Holmes would say, “The game’s afoot”.
The game plan for Syria was simple, the Assad government was vulnerable, poke at it until it deflated, death by a thousand pins. ‘Why’ did not matter: Assad’s demise would be rationalized afterward. The Turks would provide a base from which anti-Assad rebels would operate. They would be armed, organized and given necessary training … Arms would come from the US by way of the Saudis or from Libyan arsenals captured after the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi, Hillary Clinton’s war. Materiel would be shipped directly from Saudi stockpiles, Libyan supplies would reach the rebels by way of CIA ‘ratlines’ from Benghazi. Turkey would become the conduit for Islamic militants heeding the call for jihad that were flooding into Syria from around the world. The model was the brushfire intifada waged against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan during the 1980s by CIA- supported Islamic mujaheddin, Charlie Wilson’s war.
The US’ role was to provide funds and would coordinate between partners, it would offer training to militants where appropriate. The Special Operations trainers were the camel’s nose inside the tent, the rest of the camel would come later: aircraft and bases, advisors, the ground troops all at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars. Besides being a conduit for arms, Saudis would provide funding and ‘volunteers’; the Qataris would offer ‘public relations’ (propaganda services). The Turks would hold the bag; if anything went wrong they would get the blame.
Turkey’s aim was to create a de facto Turkish protectorate; a New Ottoman Empire that would reach into Iraq with its billions of barrels of proven oil reserves. Enough success and the Shia Muslim/ Iranian protectorate at the south of Iraq would be undone. Unlike the Americans, Turkey would not have to conquer anyone or steal anything, Ankara would heed the call to rescue the victims of its own subordinates’ aggression. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies would gain influence in a territory from which they had long since been excluded. All these advantages would be at the expense of Iran.
The strategy was simple to implement and began well but defects soon emerged. Assad was no fool, his father Hafez was an old-school Soviet-style tyrant who, when confronted, hammered his adversaries without mercy. Timid son Bashar clearly paid attention in class. He short-circuited the Syria succession regime leaving his Alawite- and moderate Shia constituents without palatable alternatives. It was to be Assad or nothing, there would be no Lady Macbeths or Colonel Gaddafis waiting in the wings for the leader to fail. Assad sanctioned genocide, giving his officers freedom to commit whatever atrocities and excesses they would. This bound the officers to Assad, each becoming complicit in the others’ crimes. If Assad failed or the army, both would fall. Atrocities provided Assad with leverage over civilians whose loyalty might waver: he could massacre his foes (stick) or he could call off his own dogs (carrot). He also bellied up to his Iranian allies who had a large investment in the Syrian project and much to lose from an Assad defeat. The Iranians offered supplies and funds.
The anti-Assad rebels also had a distressing tendency to fight among themselves rather than attack Assad. This made sense; even with training and logistical support the rebels were no match for the Syrian army. When the rebels attacked with rockets and machine guns, the army responded with artillery, aircraft and tanks. The inexperienced civilian-rebels were soon wiped out and their units disbanded. The ex-army defectors either died, fled the country or flipped to more competent organizations. Successful units tended to congeal around Islamic militants who had experience in urban combat; soon enough the jihadis became dominant among the rebels. Yet, jihadi success tended to work against the rebels’ aims. Instead of encouraging the Syrians to distance themselves from Assad, the jihadis drove the two together out of desperation. The more effective the militants were on the battlefield, the stronger Assad became. The jihadis could win battles but they scared the horses.
Encounters tended to be grinding affairs with both sides suffering heavy casualties; operational expenses were an increasing burden as manpower losses could not be easily made up. Assad would take a town or a neighborhood with armor but could not hold it because he lacked the ground forces. As the casualties mounted morale was slipping. The Syrians on the rebel side would fight until they felt compelled return to their families. If the families left the country — and millions ultimately would, the fighters left too. This left rebel forces made up increasingly of foreigners, which had the effect of driving more support to the government.
Eventually, Assad’s losses forced him to request reinforcements from Iran and Hezbollah. This resulted in loss of support for his side and more defections. There were splits within Assad’s army whose soldiers resented control by Iran. The nature of the fighting presented a problem with the foreign fighters on both sides; engagements were intense but confined to towns and neighborhoods. The foreigners did not know the ground, before they could learn they were killed. On the rebel side, success fell toward the groups with a mix of locals who knew the territory and veteran jihadis who were the best fighters. This offered a problem of its own: larger attacks by the rebel side were out of the question because the different groups and fighters couldn’t or wouldn’t work together. The Assad side felt the same problem in reverse: the targets the rebels presented to were too dispersed for his army to assault all at once, this left him to bomb residential areas with the hope of killing one or two fighters. This induced more Syrians to leave the country shrinking the manpower pool.
Ironically, the drain upon Assad’s ‘human resources’ dramatically increased with Russian assistance in September, 2015. The Russians brought airplanes and missiles but few ground troops. Russian air support began to dictate the tempo of offensives by the Syrian army and its allies … increasing Syrian army losses. The Syrian government and its supporters found themselves trapped by Assad’s expedients; his need to fight and to not-fight at the same time. In order to win he had to use up his army, he needed to hold back in order to save it. Assad’s dilemma was the same as the rebels’ earlier: the more effective the Russians were on the battlefield, the weaker Assad became because of the human toll.
Meanwhile, blowback was increasing in the West, the US was increasingly collaborating with unsavory actors, including militants affiliated with al-Qaeda. Questions were being raised in Washington. The US president was handed an opportunity to intervene directly in the Fall of 2013 after several hundred Syrian civilians were killed in a poison gas attack. The war-hawks in the administration were calling for a no-fly zone like the one that had undone Gaddafi. The US public reaction was strongly negative; after ten years of fruitless war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the ongoing debacle in Libya, the citizens were opposed to more military adventures; there were no vital US interests at stake in Syria. The only benefits of a US action would fall to groups the US had pledged to destroy.
There was another factor, something that became clear when Islamic State emerged into public consciousness in the Summer of 2014: A large, general war across the Middle East was unlikely because none of the nations including the US could afford to fight one. Marginal oil production would be cut and the resulting finance crisis would cripple everyone. This established an upper bound on the level of ‘investment’ the dictators and plutocrats could make in twerking their rivals. Within limits the wars could go on, they could morph and congeal, burn out in one place or flare up in others, but exceed those bounds … Poof! Everyone would be living in caves!
Allahu Akbar Motherf**ker!
Anyone with access to a TV knows what happened in June of 2014: the group that had been booted out of al-Qaeda for being too violent erupted like a chest-bursting alien from the scrublands of eastern Syria to overran Mosul and a dozen other cities and towns across northern Iraq. Over the course of a few days the entire Iraqi defense/security establishment, a $35 billion dollar Pentagon (mal)investment … bases, generals, tanks, helicopters, prisons, Humvees, golf courses and officers’ clubs; 300,000 so-called ‘soldiers’ … Poof! You know the rest!
Immediately there was a jarring disconnect: the gap between the mission and those who were tasked with carrying it out. The last time an Arab army mounted a successful large-scale offensive without outside leadership was during the Middle Ages. The needed talent and command infrastructure simply didn’t exist. Abysmal leadership on both sides has been- and still is a number-one reason for the stalemate in Syria. One had only to look to the wasteful sieges across the region to see how governments and militias planned- and carried out operations. Thousands of lives were wasted every month to wrestle control over a few blocks or neighborhoods, with entire cities such as Homs reduced to deserts of concrete rubble.
It isn’t just Islamic State ineptitude:
The Hezbollah commander sent his soldiers out to die. There was no objective they might reasonably capture, or even a way to return fire. By the end of the operation the Hezbollah unit lost its fighters, its vehicles and its base of operations, no doubt purchased with many more lives: Abu Hajaar all over again!
Every day dozens of similar pointless operations take place all across Syria, with the same depressing outcomes. The leaders don’t care and don’t know any better, repeating the same failed processes over and over hoping to wear down the other side(s) by attrition.
In single party states such as Syria and Iraq (Iran and Saudi Arabia), effective military commanders are seen as internal threats, they are rarely given opportunities to succeed. Officer ranks are filled with dull, self-serving careerists chasing comfortable sinecures. The ex-Saddam loyalists identified as Islamic State commanders leading the blitz across northern Iraq were pliant yes-men with highly developed survival instincts which was why they had their jobs in the first place. These individuals were never military geniuses, they were experts at running away. That was why they lasted long enough to become involved with ISIS. When given the opportunity, these commanders shoveled their best fighters into the furnace of Kobani, another futile siege. When the Kurds finally gained control over the city, ISIS was left with a disorganized mob of Abu Hajaars and some snuff video producers. The rest had been sacrificed.
Inept leadership is why Islamic State has been death’s door ever since (February, 2015). The fighters in every group including ISIS flip over from other groups; they don’t arrive from outer space. At the beginning, ISIS offered the possibility of a quick victory and large gains; fighters from across Syria and northern Iraq were eager to join. After the Kobani debacle, the group offered the certainty of being thrown away for nothing or a date with the hangman. Like the rest, the group cannot make up its losses.
The US has similar faults, its command is riddled with uninspiring ‘company men’; experts whose corrupt relationships with the defense industry leaves what (little) remains of the institution’s integrity compromised. None possess a longer term vision or sense of mission. The United States military hasn’t won a war since 1945 and it is certain nobody alive today remembers how …
The conclusions that can be drawn are much different from those of the experts: The war is a product of the United States and its unscrupulous, self-interested and largely incompetent partners. It is a proxy contest between petro-states Iran and Saudi Arabia, which the US encouraged. There was nothing resembling real plan, instead, the US relied on dangerously unstable proxies who are more of an enemy than Assad. A grievous error was underestimating the Syrian dictator and his capabilities. The assumption was he would be killed by his own like Gaddafi or would flee Damascus leaving the country to the Turks or pro-Western proxies. He instead chose to slug it out, something the 1,271 government intelligence offices, agencies, bureaus including the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) as well as the 1,931 private contractors … never detected.
Assad was unlikable but not an adversary of the US or the West. For all of Assad’s faults, his regime is the legitimate government of Syria: it has never attacked the United States. The last Syrian war against a Western ally was vs. Israel in 1973. There is no justification for the West’s brutal mugging of the Syrian citizens.
PART ONE: It Only Gets Worse
PART TWO: Abu Hajaar