The New Pentagon “Law of War” Manual, STRATCOM as per Russia/Syria-Ukraine


Please consider this an Open Thread.

Nomad had left this Robert Parry piece on a recent diary, and it, plus several internal links, bear more discussion than at the end of a very comment thread. ‘Obama’s Fateful Syrian Choice’ by Robert Parry at

He opines that either Obama must work with Vladamire Putin to stabilize Syria, or opt for a confrontation that could quickly escalate.

He posits that in order to work with Putin, Obama would necessarily have to admit that the past several decades of “regime change” intervention strategies , including his own, have been strategic disasters.

I can’t agree, as many posit that all the US ever needs to back out of failed military intervention is some sort of “face saving” agitprop, and it seems to have begun already.

A recent post at Moon of Alabama notes that Obama is already blaming his failed ‘strategery’ on (wait for it, as per the NYTimes): Congressional Republicans and:

“The idea of bolstering Syrian rebels was debated from the early days of the civil war, which started in 2011. Mrs. Clinton, along with David H. Petraeus, then the C.I.A. director, and Leon E. Panetta, then the defense secretary, supported arming opposition forces, but the president worried about deep entanglement in someone else’s war after the bloody experience in Iraq.”

The Times seems to abet this idiocy and exonerates him.

But onward.  Parry’s belief is that he’s also have to alter some long-standing US alliances, and back away from the story that Assad had used sarin nerve gas in 2013, and blaming Russia endlessly, and offers some suggestions to the Prez and his administration.  But of key importance to his belief/theory:

“In retracting false allegations and releasing current U.S. intelligence assessments on those issues, the President would have to repudiate the trendy concept of “strategic communications,” an approach that mixes psychological operations, propaganda and P.R. into a “soft power” concoction to use against countries identified as U.S. foes.

“Stratcom” also serves to manage the perceptions of the American people, an assault on the fundamental democratic precept of an informed electorate. Instead of honestly informing the citizenry, the government systematically manipulates us. Obama would have to learn to trust the people with the truth.

Whether Obama recognizes how imperative it is that he make these course corrections, whether he has the political courage to take on entrenched foreign-policy lobbies (especially after the bruising battle over the Iran nuclear agreement), and whether he can overcome his own elitism toward the public are the big questions – and there are plenty of reasons to doubt that Obama will do what’s necessary. But his failure to act decisively could have devastating consequences for the United States and the world.

In a way, this late-in-his-presidency course correction should be obvious (or at least it would be if there weren’t so many layers of “strategic communications” to peel away). It would include embracing Russia’s willingness to help stabilize the political-military situation in Syria, rather than the Obama administration fuming about it and trying to obstruct it.”  (again, more is here)

Parry’s ‘Strategic Information’ link goes to Dan North’s ‘US/NATO Embrace Psy-ops and Info-War, September 2, 2015’; ‘The U.S. government and NATO have entered the Brave New World of “strategic communications,” merging psy-ops, propaganda and P.R. in order to manage the perceptions of Americans and the world’s public, reports veteran war correspondent Don North.’

“The NATO case and argument is that NATO’s approach to psy-ops is to treat it as an essentially open, truthful and benign activity and that, plus the elimination of any meaningful distinctions between domestic and foreign media institutions and social media, means that psy-ops and public affairs have effectively fused,” said British military historian, Dr. Stephen Badsey, one of the world’s leading authorities on war and the media.” [snip]

“And, as part of this Brave New World of “strategic communications,” the U.S. military and NATO have now gone on the offensive against news organizations that present journalism which is deemed to undermine the perceptions that the U.S. government seeks to convey to the world.

That attitude led to the Pentagon’s new “Law of War” manual which suggests journalists in wartime may be considered “spies” or “unprivileged belligerents,” creating the possibility that reporters could be subject to indefinite incarceration, military tribunals and extrajudicial execution – the same treatment applied to Al Qaeda terrorists who are also called “unprivileged belligerents.” [See’s “Pentagon Manual Calls Some Reporters Spies.”]

Bradley notes strong objections from both foreign and domestic media, as well as mainstream and indie media.  He then goes on to show that this newly claimed right by the Pentagon only serves to codify decades of the same.  Some examples were familiar, but certainly not all, including Bill Clinton, Gen. Wesley Clark (a fave of many of the faux-librul left for President some time ago), Dubya bombing Al Jaeera in Bagdad and Kabul, and more.

As to ‘the war on journalists’, this piece at (Committee to Protect Journalists) notes that after some very fuzzy and opaque definitions of ‘unprivileged beligerents’, plus offering no case law or treaties:

“This broad and poorly defined category gives U.S. military commanders across all services the purported right to at least detain journalists without charge, and without any apparent need to show evidence or bring a suspect to trial. The Obama administration’s Defense Department appears to have taken the ill-defined practices begun under the Bush administration during the War on Terror and codified them to formally govern the way U.S. military forces treat journalists covering conflicts.

The manual’s impact overseas, especially in the short run, may be even worse. The language used to justify treating journalists as “unprivileged belligerents” comes at a time when international law for conflict is being flouted by armed groups–including government, militia, and insurgent forces–from Ukraine and Iraq to Nigeria and the Congo–and during a time in which CPJ has documented record numbers of journalists being imprisoned and killed. At a time when international leadership on human rights and press freedom is most needed, the Pentagon has produced a self-serving document that is unfortunately helping to lower the bar.

So far the manual has received little press, but both The Washington Times and Russia Today covered it. The Moscow-funded global news outlet Russia Today quoted Chris Chambers, a Georgetown University undergraduate communications professor, saying that the manual gives U.S. military forces “license to attack” journalists.”

The author, Frank Smythe, notes that the Manual does make these claims, however:

“The manual devotes attention to “classes of persons” who “do not fit neatly within the dichotomy” between combatants and civilians, and replaces the term “unlawful combatants,” which U.S. officials used to refer to terrorist suspects held under extra-legal circumstances in the wake of September 11, 2001 attacks, with “unprivileged belligerent.”

“Unprivileged” means the suspect is not entitled to the rights afforded to prisoners of war under international law and can instead be held as a criminal suspect in a category that includes suspected spies, saboteurs, and guerrillas.”

He quotes a Penatgon Official explaining (obfuscating?) the manual to the Washington Times, and then cites many egregious cases of past US wars on foreign journalists.

Consider what a war hawk  ’embedded with the troops’ Martha Raddatz became.  She would have had rights, goddamit!

But one wonders that given that Ukraine is another proxy war against Russia, if Nuland might have whispered into Poroshenko’s ear.  September 18, 2015 ‘Latest Censorship Move by Kyiv Bans 41 Journalists from Ukraine’, by Roger Annis

“On September 16, President Petro Poroshenko issued a decree banning 388 foreigners from traveling to Ukraine. The published list of persons banned was compiled by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine and dated September 2, 2015. They are deemed to be threats to the interests and national security of Ukraine.

The list included academics, political officials and journalists from countries across Europe. It includes 41 journalists and bloggers, including three from the BBC.”

He says that most of the 388 are Russian, and brings news that:

“The ban on the BBC employees was soon lifted by Poroshenko’s office. Two Spanish and one German journalist will also be removed from the list. Those whose bans were lifted are Anton Chicherova, Amy Wells and Steve Rosenberg of the BBC, Spaniards Manuel Angel Sastre and Jose Antonio Rodriguez Pampliega, and German Michael Rutz.”

After noting reactions from various media, this:

“Commentator Bryan MacDonald writes on, “If you were a PR adviser to Ukraine’s leaders and they asked you to compile a list of things they must not do, banning journalists would be high up there. Perhaps even at number one. While those who understand Ukraine know that the regime is even worse than its horrible predecessor, Western media has not reported this reality. Hence, the general public in Europe and North America doesn’t have the foggiest notion.

“Firing cluster bombs at civilians would be prominent too. Nevertheless, Kiev has already done that. Luckily for them, the western press doesn’t seem to mind.”

MacDonald notes the lame response by Western journalists to Poroshenko’s decree. “‘Worrying’, said Mashable’s Christopher Miller. Freelancer Oliver Carroll, frequently seen in The Independent, felt it was ‘quite a pickle’.”

Now one wonders if this is the self-same Christopher Miller who is the managing editor (iirc) at the Kyiv Post.

I’ve been saving links about Ukraine for a month, but it appears that the west has lost control of their Chocolate Puppet in many directions  including a MinkII agreement to provide for some autonomy in the Donbass (more on that later, or another day; I’m waaaay out of time for now).

NATO has long been a psyop, though, and I love watching and bringing their Tweets.  Many of been about ‘countering Russia propaganda’, including the pretense that the Right Sector neo-Nazis are just that, and now that Right Sector has been ginning up for Maidan 2.0.  Even the Guardian had admitted that a couple weeks ago.  But for instance:

East and South“; heh.

More psyop cum  ‘face-saving’ from the NYT: ‘U.S. Begins Military Talks With Russia on Syria’, Sept.18

“LONDON — As the first Russian combat aircraft arrived in Syria, the Obama administration reached out to Moscow on Friday to try to coordinate actions in the war zone and avoid an accidental escalation of one of the world’s most volatile conflicts.

The diplomatic initiative amounted to a pivot for the Obama administration, which just two weeks ago delivered a stern warning to the Kremlin that its military buildup in Syria risked an escalation of the civil war there or even an inadvertent confrontation with the United States. Last week, President Obama condemned Russia’s move as a “strategy that’s doomed to failure.”

But the White House seemed to acknowledge that the Kremlin had effectively changed the calculus in Syria in a way that would not be soon reversed despite vigorous American objections. The decision to start talks also reflected a hope that Russia might yet be drawn into a more constructive role in resolving the four-year-old civil war, etc.

Never mind that there seem to have been hope for a diplomatic solution in 2012:

“Russia proposed more than three years ago that Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, could step down as part of a peace deal, according to a senior negotiator involved in back-channel discussions at the time.

Former Finnish president and Nobel peace prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari said western powers failed to seize on the proposal. Since it was made, in 2012, tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions uprooted, causing the world’s gravest refugee crisis since the second world war.” 

But he said that the US, Britain and France were so convinced that the Syrian dictator was about to fall, they ignored the proposal.”

(Peter Lee quoting the Guardian recently.)

And never mind that Russia seems to have been pressing this administration for their counterparts to meet…and solve the Syrian problem.

17 responses to “The New Pentagon “Law of War” Manual, STRATCOM as per Russia/Syria-Ukraine

  1. re: Syria and “but the president worried about deep entanglement in someone else’s war after the bloody experience in Iraq” above:

    While I agree that a rhetorical shift alone is completely insufficient to allow Russia and the rest of the world to consider trusting US (and to remove the US President from the top of the world’s most feared person list) … I disagree that Obama is revising history on this one.

    Many if not most people still think that public outcry stopped the US from attacking Syria in summer 2014. Just over a year ago(!) when the MSM, the warmongers and the neo-cons were calling for an attack on Syria (because WMD!!! for real this time!!!), the military said in no uncertain terms ‘not gonna do it with less than 70 to 100 thousand ground troops’ AND a plan for occupation with a defined end game. After being misused and sent in to Iraq in a half-assed way (enough troops to break it but not enough to hold and fix it so there was no clear way out) the joint chiefs were not gonna play the same game while facing both an actual civil war and a developed WMD capacity.

    To capture and remove the mustard gas (etc.) plants, storage and delivery capabilities of Assad, the military would have to beat both sides in an active civil war. They would have to suppress or eliminate not one but two armed, mobilized and entrenched home teams. Obama was told by the US war machine’s top sub-commanders that we the US will go big or we the US will stay home. Given that butcher’s bill, Obama made the correct choice and Kerry (finally) got busy and took Lavrov+Putin+Assad up on the offers that had been languishing on the table for some time.

    Shinseki was right about Iraq without WMDs and the current crop made the same argument that failed to impress Bush. Perhaps the JCoStaff were secretly hoping to get shoved out through the revolving door off to a lucrative retirement, perhaps they have developed some solid self-respect and just maybe some real respect for the people they command. I doubt that anyone involved in the decision not to go into Syria didn’t go because of the horrifying consequence for everyone else in Syria. However, Obama would not get solid Dem support to commit enough troops to do it ‘right’ and I think he is smart enough to see that a far, far worse refugee crisis than what is happening now would have already occurred and perhaps tailing off now down toards the levels presently seen. And that sudden, greater and much more deadly Syrian diaspora would have been squarely and properly pinned on Obama US.

    • hola, lemoyne; thanks for weighing in. sorry to be so long, but things are even more crazy busy here than mot weekend are.

      first, let me say that i have avoided all things syria for years, given the complexities, the many groups and evolving alliances, plus opinions on the genesis of isis/isil. that said, i’ve been trying to play catch-up, which seems to be an impossible task.

      i had thought the reason the US didn’t go to war in syria was because the british parliament said NO, coupled with lavrov/putin’s arrangements to broker a deal on chemical weapons.

      i don’t remember the joint chiefs saying ‘all or nothing’, so that may have been a factor as well. but i do remember they said NO to R2P libya, and obama ‘did it’ anyway, pretending to follow france (it was election season there, remember?) to the degree that the West armed the ‘moderate extremist muslims’ there, set up a puppet government and Central bank (where is gadaffi’s gold hoard now?) seems to have been the genesis, as far as i’ve read. many traveled to syria, then to iraq, to join the remnants (?) of IS and al nusra there (maybe).

      and of course, a diplomatic solution was always possible, especially given that the US seems to fight air wars now, given: afghanistan.

      your verbiage as to ‘not enough troops to hold iraq’ strikes me as odd, though.

      as to the removal of the chemical weapons, author karim madsi just returned from a trip to damascus that he’d needed to make “….for research purposes. The research study, written with a colleague of mine at the American University of Beirut and in the process of being finalized, analyzes the high visibility Joint Mission established between the United Nations (UN) and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to verify the elimination of all declared chemical weapons in Syria.
      The OPCW is the secretariat that administers the Chemical Weapons Convention that Syria signed in September 2013 following a US-Russian agreement that averted a potential US attack on Syria.

      then: obma’s red line, ghouta, aug. 2013; international pressure, sergei lavrov negotiating a deal with john kerry to remove all chemical weapons, assad’s agreement, then joining OPCW. concerning the joint mission he writes:

      “This Joint Mission worked closely with the Syrian authorities throughout the operation that lasted one year and was eminently successful within the terms of its mandate: 99% of the declared stockpile had been eliminated by the time the Joint Mission ended its work in September 2014.
      Recent persistent allegations of small-scale chlorine and mustard gas use have prompted Syria’s enemies to claim that Syria still holds on to undeclared chemicals, while the Al-Assad regime and Russia have long accused militant rebels and “terrorist” groups such as ISIS of using such weapons. OPCW inspectors have now returned to Syria and a new Joint Investigative Mission (JIM) has just been authorized by the UN Security Council to actually name the users of chemical weapons in Syria.”

      well, it’s long, but he tells what information and contentions various interviewees believed, what they didn’t know, possible false flags via turkey and qatar, etc. Dr. Faysal Miqdad [was] in charge of all matters dealing with chemical weapons, including the contact person for the Joint Mission leadership. What was most impressive, in the literal sense of the word, was his (and the other officials I spoke to) resolve, even defiance. He was adamant that Syria accepted to dismantle its chemical program not out of weakness — or fear of a US attack — but out of strength, and an expression of good will by President Bashar Al-Assad to Putin’ and that “Bashar al-Assad is not going anywhere anytime soon. The grand narrative has swung his, and Russia’s way, as attacks on the Assad regime’s legitimacy has made way in international circles to the paramount importance of combatting the “terrorism” of such groups as ISIS and Al-Nusra; and the acceptance that a weak state is better than a non-existent one.”

      he ends remembering that no one he spoke with in damascus “mentioned the unimaginable suffering and fears of Syrian civilians, their dispossession and exile.”

      but then, i don’t think obama gives a fuck, either, myself, save for the Optics brought by those folks who believe its his fault, of course. and he’s been training all those “moderates” who er…join the other “bad guys” until ash carter says there are only four or five left. wtf? yeah, how did that work out in afghanistan, dudes?

      anyway, i didn’t really intend for that to be the focus, but thred go where they go. but madsi’s piece put a lie to the NATO Tweeted ‘weapons of mass destruction in syria’ psyop, as far as i’m concerned.

      • Ai Wendy I woldn’t have brought it up, but you said treat it like an open thread so I spoke about how [fucked are we when] the sane heads are the Pentagon generals.[?!?!] People all happy thinking Obama listened to them and made a move for peace – I say he listened to the generals and proved either he’s at least sane or careful enough about his legacy to not create a far deeper humanitarian disaster than what we already see.
        Obama appears to have gotten away with Libya, sure enough. They avoid the true linkage to Boko Haram and its ilk, disappear the multiway civil war anguish that is now Libya where no MSM reporter dares to go, fig-leafing with a small refugee take and pushing it all back on ISIS. Libya still rides the legacy train as ‘took out a dictator’ while Syria is ‘made a dictator give up his chemical weapons’. Of course neither is really true when the dogs of war run amok in both countries as a direct result of US policy.

        • yes, yes; i did say that, and it was i who’d brought the NYT piece. that obama might get away with “they made me do it!!!” galls me to no end. he, of course, made the decisions. who knows if it’s even true that all that filthy lucre only managed to train such a small number. i think it was fubar from the beginning to the now “four or five”?

          you never answered why you’d said ‘not enough troops to hold iraq’, either. that sounds like apologia for the realm as well.

          and if it’s legacy shopping for a lesser diaspora, well, okay. i guess i said as much, but the man…has no conscience. does bernie, who reckons that the US should have the strongest military on the planet, and suggests that we farm out the ISIL wars to our partners in peace, the saudis? or is that question too smart-ass? ;-)

          will obama,, recalculate the 10,000 (was it?) emigrees the US will take? i do hope so.

          on edit: p.s. are we speaking of the first to gulf wars, or this…er…third?

          cuz it pleases me to: ;-) big mac falafel an’ a side of fries…stormin’ norman…i just luv a parade!

          p.p.s. i dunno what it is, but when i read your comments, i feel like english is my second language. ;-)

  2. now a few via the state department spokesperson:

    and this from FP: Exclusive: ‘The Pentagon Is Preparing New War Plans for a Baltic Battle Against Russia; But the really troubling thing is that in the war games being played, the United States keeps losing.’

    Because: russian revanchism (evidenced by stealing crimea)

  3. Apologies wendye. My comments on the Leonard Peltier thread belong better here. Excellent post.

    At the risk of being OT again, an excellent ‘op edge’ by Cynthia McKinney at RT might be slightly relevant due to a curious twist at the end of it (it’s not long):

    Near the end of a well-composed piece, Ms. McKinney refers to the need to “. . .search for other less Eurocentric and more egalitarian forms of political and economic social organization. . .” I was struck by that ‘Eurocentric’ term. Just who is calling the shots here? (Going back to your reminder that the Brit Parliament voted down increased Syrian aggression on the cusp of the crisis, a surprising move to me at the time.)

    And not to be forgotten, the revelations about the Five Eyes network masterminded in GB, and oh golly extradition hearings now underway for Kim Dotcom down under, slick new PM in Australia. I know, they all seem like pigeon feathers from here, and I’m the last one to really know anything at all, but there’s a wellwritten piece by Nicholas Karambelas on Greece’s historic indebtedness at as they all go to vote today.

    Happy Sunday.

    PS You do the best analysis of any reporter I know. Just stay the heck out of Syria – physically, I mean.

    • mckinney has long been a serious truth-teller, imo. i was trying to recall where i’d seen some news on her antioch college dissertation, and i did finally discover it was at brenda norrell’s Censored News. unfortunately, she disables copy paste, photo downloads, etc., which makes using her stuff very hard. (she did say that if i emailed a request, la la la…but whohas the time? anyhoo, here is one thing about it at truthdig.

      she certainly has a detractor, in the form of that blue-tongued lizard, eeeek.

      ‘capitalism’s moral center’. ai yi yi. ‘the invisible hand’, i guess. ;-) i just don’t see hope of reforming it, myself. but folks keep pluggin’ away at it, even some figures in the Occupy movement. wanna chuckle, look up lawrence lessig’s presidential campaign some time.

  4. Back to NATO. Seems like some tens of thousands of people questioning their relevance in 2012 in Chicago got them to thinking about how to destabilize Europe. Not at all what we intended as an outcome.

    Strategic communications is just the new fad word for good old fashioned propaganda; maybe the word change helps slip it by the legal beagles when you apply it on your own population (but when has that stopped the US national security machine in the past? In the early days we even had privatized filibusters who would provide the excitement and the propaganda and try to trap a President – in 1837 it was Martin van Buren and the cause celebre was the Caroline and the death of Amos Durfey – into military action. Strategic communication in those days was to take Durfey’s body and dump it in front of a bar in Buffalo and wave the bloody shirt. On this one, van Buren did not bite and Upper Canada did not become a new US territory headed by William MacKenzie.

    What is interesting in this is the Vietnam era brass trying to seal off honest reporters altogether from covering the war by the use of “unprivileged” status (i. e. targets such as the al Jazeera reporter in “Collateral Murder”) instead of “privileged” status (i.e. embedded journalists – an apt name for the relationship). To a plain reader like me, that violates the First Amendment, which seems to apply to a smaller and smaller set of circumstances–mainly campaign contributions. All to the load accompaniment of the silence of the hacks.

    Obama, unlike any other President, from day one has had to earn obedience to his orders by repetitively demonstrating fealty to the neo-conservative strategy. That’s what birtherism was about creating; that is what Stanley McChrystal’s insubordination was challenging. The sense that he is the President and what he says is instantly obeyed or that he gets to work his will was undermined within the Beltway with these attacks on his legitimacy to exercise the powers of the Commander in Chief. Now that he himself through his direct orders of assassination has blood on his hands too, it is much easier for him to get a hearing for his strategy and direction. In 2009, he had to exercise his authority by demanding the military to not finesse the PowerPoints but show him a real and actionable plan. They finessed. He wrote the plan for them. Then the failure was his while they went off and did what they were going to do anyway in Afghanistan.

    It will be very interesting to get the emails from the national security decisions in the 2008-2011 period and compare them to 2012-2016. My intuition is that Obama, considering himself a newbie to foreign and national security policy, spent the first period picking the brains of Joe Biden on what he knew from the Senate, Hillary Clinton from what she was finding out from traveling as Secretary of State, Robert Gates from his experience in managing DoD and from his CIA experience, and John Brennan from his experience in Saudi Arabia and CIA. My intuition that the second period is what the student made of all this mentoring on his own.

    Syria was about to experience hard times from the same climate effects that triggered the mood that got triggered with the Arab Awakening. In retrospect, I think we will find that Qatar fronted for this transformation. From the US standpoint, the biggest problem in that area in 2010 was that Egypt, with 80 million people was going to have a violent overthrow of Mubarak that would usher in some kind of Salafist government that would sweep aside or co-opt the Moslem Brotherhood. Losing Egypt out of the US orbit would be huge. Where we have come out is that even if the bonds are loose, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran are now all talking with the US and with each other. The hegemon dampens the regional power struggle.

    For the neocons and R2Ps who toppled Gadhafi, Assad was the obvious next step and arms were publicly being shipped by Qatar from Libya to Syria even as Libyans were celebrating in Benghazi, Misrata, and Tripoli. They got their next target. I don’t think they fully understood how badly things could go. If there is US involvement all around as some reports have it, the silos through which the orders came were so isolated that you essentially wound up with one group clandestinely supplied through one US operation aligned with, say the Gulf States, fighting against another group clandestinely supplied through a second US operation aligned with, say Turkey, and fighting with a third group clandestinely supplied through a third US operation, aligned with, say Israel. And one arm of the octopus was not aware of what the other arms of the octopus were doing; nor were they fully aware of what their client armed groups were doing. Until one of the started funding itself with Syrian and Iraqi oil commandeered near well heads. A group coincidentally made up of foreign fighters with an influx of fighters from Chechnya, Georgia, Dagestan and other sections of Russia, the former Soviet Union, and former Yugoslavia.

    I think that in 2012 Obama sussed out that John McCain wanted to slow walk him into a quagmire in Syria, by goading him about his not being tough. Thus the “shining red line” on chemical weapons while not taking the bait on arming Syrian rebels (of course that was about the DoD arming them and training them directly, not the CIA). When someone set up the chemical weapons attack to test Obama’s red line, Putin and Lavrov did indeed bail him out, and to his credit he took their help. Which required him to greenlight Geoffrey Pyatt and Victoria Nuland’s big adventure in Ukraine. Pyatt, being the one who engineered Mohammed el Baradei’s exodus from the IAEA and the appointment of a leader acceeptable to the US view of Iran’s nuclear program. These agendas seem to be long term agendas within the institutions that are then presented to the President. The President can shape them by appointment, by demanding details, or by saying “No” and taking the heat that these civil servants can apply through the media, through scuttlebutt, and through members of Congress, especially those on the Foreign Relations Committees. When the President makes policy or greenlights and operation, he does not or might not want to know all of the details. Often it comes down to the opinions of the people he trusts on this issue, other times there is a political dance going on bureaucratically or with Congress. Commanders-in-chief sometimes do get told know. Even Netanyahu has found out the hard truth that followers make leaders and not even the IDF will do something that he orders if it is stupid, or posturing that endangers them.

    The revolutionary government in Kiev has just ordered up a second revolution because the current one dominated by Right Sector apparently has gotten as corrupt as its predecessor. Whocuddannode? The Ukrainians are about to discover that they are more S. O. L. than the Greeks and without guarantees of natural gas and oil for the winter. For now the politics is just festering until some event inflames it.

    For Syria, the reasonable tack all along has been to join with Iran and Russia to restabilize Assad’s coalition and suppress the rebels. And have their mentor states (US allies, right?) shut down the flow of arms and recruits and wind down hostilities. If the President finally adopt this tack, there will be major heartburn in the media and in Congress from both sides of the aisle. If it happens, it will have to happen as a Turkey, Saudi, Iran, Egypt, Gulf States, Syria, Russia, US (backed with NATO states) agreement. But that will also yank the rug out from under the groups actually doing the fighting and containing the blowback from troops that are either recently trained by these nations or are hardcore opponents of these nations is going to be dicey. If it happens, it would be beneficial that the fait accompli happen before the next President is inaugurated. There are worst possibilities than Obama. In sixteen months, he will have wrapped up his legacy. There’s still North Korea to bring in from the cold, the Bolivarists in South America, and movement on the treaties dealing with weapons of mass destruction that diplomacy can cheaply generate “accomplishments” while the Middle East gets sorted out. There are also potential major changes in the Five Eyes countries and Europe that could reverse the craziness or drive it deeper.

    What is emerging as a grand strategical view in the west looks a lot like Orwell’s (and Mackinder’s) Eurasia (Heartland) and Oceania (Rimland). If China can pull off the New Silk Road infrastructure initiative, that will be a strategic game changer and not necessarily towards greater conflict. Leaders have gotten so stingy that they have forgotten the old relaxing idea of peace and prosperity as electoral promises not hard choices and toughness.

    • i’d figured you’d have a lot to add to the thread, but you’ve even exceeded my expectations. ;-) thank you. i’ll need to respond in stages, i think. you know Nato well, and have followed all of the ME with incredible diligence and insight. as i said, i’m a total novice. no, indeed Nato did not wish to be deemed irrelevant, and as it turned out many of you risked your lives and liberties to express yourselves, dayum. for a time, it seemed that africom was the model of destabilization and (ahem) ‘rescue’. but now…oh, my.

      wiki says that there are 28 Offishul nato members. i believe that on their twitter account, they claim 60 nations are under their ‘umbrella’ now, and i’m sure they’re offering carrots and sticks to gain more ‘friends and allies’.

      Stratcom seems a bit more ‘kinetic’ (if i can co-opt the term) that just regular propaganda, and the claim is that there are some places even they won’t go. Moral strategic communication, i reckon.

      “Strategic communication in those days was to take Durfey’s body and dump it in front of a bar in Buffalo and wave the bloody shirt”: dang, that was funny, amigo. and i thought wm. randolph hurst was bold! yes, it seems that constitutional rights are only meant for fewer and fewer and wealthier and…

      i take your point about yielding to the neocons at first, but then he kept many of dubya’s cabinet whole cloth, plus fed chair, dumping all of his campaign advisors, sadly. dunno but what those who’d figured appointing hillary SoS was a ‘keep your enemies closer’ were wrong, as they seem birds of a feather in so many ways to me. but holy crow, i’d forgotten about his firing mcCrystal, and neither mr. wd nor i could remember the name of the ‘collateral damage’ video.

      over the past two or three days i’ve read so many opinion pieces on both the evolving alliances, especially secret ones, and prescriptions of the dual diplomatic and military needs to stabilize syria that my head is swimming. there are many, like wilkerson, who believe that bibi’s influence has been major in wanting them all to kill each other. but yes, the balance of power has shifted indeed. interesting times…and you know what they say about those. ;-) more as i’m able, and i hope all of you will talk to one another.

    • i hadn’t known that it was pyatt who’d had el baradei removed to make room for US puppet amano, nor many other things you’ve referenced, but yes, wilkerson agrees that mosad/the idf, iirc, seems very concerned about bibi’s bellicosity, and drew some interesting numbers about ‘enemies’ just outside israel’s gate/s.

      i did find the nuclear deal with iran one of obama’s finest hours, including possible rapprochement of some sort. but pepe escobar says oh, no; it’s not about nukes, but Pipelineistan…again.

      heh; ”‘embedded journalists’ being an apt name” but do you mean a formal agreement here? “If it happens, it will have to happen as a Turkey, Saudi, Iran, Egypt, Gulf States, Syria, Russia, US (backed with NATO states) agreement.”

      it seems i’ll never catch up to all of this, but we may need a new ukraine thread sooner than later, from what you’ve said. and yes, the economy is in ruins, and it’s now a failed state that all the IMF billions may not be able to put back together again. but of course that may be part of the plan, according to the Oligarchs of Energy. biden’s son, for one?

      and (((sigh))) on your final sentence.

      also of notable interest: Devolution of Power in Syria Will Not Be Attained by Assad’s Ouster, by Ahmed E. Souaiaia

      but more interested parties seem to know that by now, public rhetoric aside.

    • “Strategic communications is just the new fad word for good old fashioned propaganda; maybe the word change helps slip it by the legal beagles when you apply it on your own population”

      Yes, the latest iteration of internally directed psy ops. Like Operation Mockingbird.

  5. goodness gracious… it seems that real life has left me feelin’ rode hard ‘n put up wet, as they say in our valley.

    so, tomorrow.

    and i’m tryin’ hard not to say ‘sorry’. we do…what we can do, yes?.

  6. Yes, we do do indeed, magnum opus Tarheel! I’m reminded on the Vietnam front that yes, there were huge restrictions on the press back then too, but reporters were more like the bloggers of today ferretting out the news with bodybag reports and such – they did make the public aware, even and arm’s length in conveying the horrors of war; a far cry from the bland stuff that’s main streamed today.

  7. aaaaand…right on cue: ‘Netanyahu meets Putin to discuss concerns over Russian activity in Syria‘ Russian president assures Israel its actions in Middle East will be ‘responsible’ despite concerns over military presence in Syria

    Bibi steams bellicose paranoia, Putin soothes ‘unfounded’ concerns. odd narrative, but kerry sounds reasonable at the end.

  8. Thanks for the link to Pepe Escobar’s latest. Always a whack on the side of the head or a bucket of cold water to be aware of events outside the Western orbit.

    Bibi now says he is closely consulting with the US during his talks with Putin. Almost like the BFF are back together after the Iran tantrum. I can understand why Putin’s move to back up Assad (and Assad’s ally Hezbollah) has gotten Bibi to awaken from his megalomania of the last six months. In a multi-way civil war, it is difficult for Bibi to figure out who to back; so maybe a return of stability instead of continued chaos is in the works. Easier agreed than done.

    Of course, the old US neoconservative hands are about Pipelinistan. It’s the only excuse they have for being a presence in Eurasia. Wasting oil on military activities that purportedly ensure the availability of oil for the military. Talking about self-licking ice cream cones; that is one of the classics.

    The main event however, as usual, is how the geography of the world (and especially the economic resources) get divided among great powers (starting with the US and Europe, including Turkey, now united in the NATO alliance of 28 nations). The questions at issue is the configuration of the rest of the economic geography. And the geopolitics of security agreements shape that. Pipelinistan is only the US dream of an alternative petropolitical weight to Russia’s current pipelines to Europe and ocean transport through US dominated oceans. It is the control of the oceans that most interests the US these days; the “pivot to Asia” really is to prevent China from breaking out if its landlocked orientation to also becoming an ocean power and likely also to isolate India’s navy within the northern Indian Ocean. It is not at all clear right now how Modi will play the geopolitical game, but he is likely to be more aggressive than his predecessors. As for Brazil, something went on in Brazilian politics and the military to undermine Roussef just as Brazilian power was about to be celebrated in hosting the World Cup and the Olympics. My sense is that this was as much BRICS-related as it was the growing corruption of the Roussef administration. And the old guard wants to have the counter-revolution of Lula’s changes. And South Africa? That was mostly aspirational it seems. Keep an eye on the largest country, Nigeria, to figure a way to right itself; it it does, it might develop a streak of independence as well. Which is why Boko Haram is not considered totally a bad thing by the neo-cons.

    For now, it looks like the NATO bunch are trying to manipulate the geopolitics into a bipolar framework opposing Eurasia with an Atlantic-Pacific alliance that controls the Indian Ocean the Red Sea (through a fleet harbored in the Persian Gulf that can sally out the Gulf of Hormuz) and the Strait of Malaccas. The relevance of a naval power is directly related to the amount of traffic that is transported by container ship and oil and LNG tankers. China’s interest in claiming the South China Sea as an internal waterway in practice has to do with insulating their coasting traffic and trade with the near parts of Southeast Asia from US-alliance naval power diplomatically. Japan has gotten active again, and their area of concern is to guard against China considering the East China Sea as an inland water. Again, China’s interest is security of coasting traffic and trade with the Koreas.

    I’m not exactly sure what “kinetic” communication means. If it is beyond propaganda and enters into cyberwarfare attacks on communication networks, that mixes and conflates stuff in a way like to create a conceptual mush for strategists and more so for folks having to implement their plans. A mess of medium and message. And despite Marshall McLuhan’s equivalence of war and education (“that’ll larn ya, darn ya”), I’m not sure what medium does the “kinetic” in this. Until that is further explained, I’m taking “kinetic” as just another DoD buzzword.

    • yah, ‘kinetic’ was a Rummy-ism, meaning ‘active war’ (killing, bombing bad gusys’ v. cyberwarfare, trashing ‘command and control’ coms, etc. but i’d borrowed it for the energizing fear, as in:agitating for *the need for war*, as in the historical use of ‘agitprop’.

      yes, i understand eurasia and oceania for the most part (weak on geography here), and modi will be interesting to watch given who he seems to be. dilma: hmmm; if i manage a ‘war and (not so much peace) diary, i’ll try to remember her new pact with Obama, including military, it seems. sorry, real life beckons again.

      on edit: bugger, ‘sabotage’ was the word i couldn’t think of. as usual, being near water seems to aid my ever-deteriorating memory.

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