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Thursday, September 5, 2013

A tentative survey of possible US attack options, Resistance responses and US counter-responses

At this point in time when an overt US military attack on Syria appear certain, it could be interesting to look at the choice of options President Obama has, how the Resistance could respond, and how then the US Empire would react to that.  But before looking into this, I would like to begin with a few basic but important reminders:

Reminder one: The Supreme crime of international law

In international law the worst crime of all is not genocide or crimes against humanity, it is the crime of war of aggression.  This crime can be defined as the execution of any one of the following acts:
  • Declaration of war upon another State.
  • Invasion by its armed forces, with or without a declaration of war, of the territory of another State.
  • Attack by its land, naval or air forces, with or without a declaration of war, on the territory, vessels or aircraft of another State.
  • Naval blockade of the coasts or ports of another State.
  • Provision of support to armed bands formed in its territory which have invaded the territory of another State, or refusal, notwithstanding the request of the invaded State, to take, in its own territory, all the measures in its power to deprive those bands of all assistance or protection.
From this list we can immediately see that the US, NATO and the EU are already guilty of the crime of war of aggression because they are arming and financing the insurgency in Syria.

Still, an overt US attack on Syria would not only be a 2nd crime of war of aggression, it would also be a far more serious and blatant - "in your face" - crime of war of aggression.

It is also important to remind here why the crime of "war of aggression" has been singled out as even worse than genocide or crimes against humanity. The worst possible crime is the crime of *aggression* because, according to the experts who set up the Nuremberg Tribunal, the crime of aggression "contains" all the other crimes (by the way, the International Criminal Court takes the same position). In the words of the chief American prosecutor at Nuremberg, Robert H. Jackson,
To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.
 In other words, international law does not recognize such niceties such as "shots across the bow", or "limited targeted strikes" or all the other doublespeak euphemisms used by the US Empire.  In fact, the US President, most of his Staff and the entire Congress already deserve to be arrested and taken to a Nuremberg-type of tribunal to be judged for the crime of war of aggression.  If the Congress approves Obama's plan for an attack on Syria, they will deserve this twice!

I know, the ICC will not suddenly grow a spine and charge the "Nobel Peace Prize winner and leader of the Free World" with war crimes.  They are too busy harassing petty African thugs.  But the fact that the ICC has no spine is no excuse for the rest of us to give up our brains: we should all remain acutely aware of the fact that what all these "millionaire lawyers on the Hill" (aka Congressmen) are calmly discussing is a crime which should land them in front of a 21st century version of the Nuremberg trial.

What about Assad?  What if he did use chemical weapons and what if he used them deliberately, would he deserve to be taken to a Nuremberg-like tribunal?  Yes, most definitely.  But on a lesser charge of warcrimes, crimes against humanity and violation of the laws of war.

Reminder two: chemical weapons

The Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare forbids the use of chemical weapons, but allows their manufacturing and storage.  The  Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (aka CWC) actually bans the manufacture and storage of such weapons. Russia and the USA entered the CWC with a stockpile of chemical weapons while the DPRK and Syria never signed this convention.  In other words, the use of chemical weapons by Syria would constitute a war crime even if Syria is not a signatory state to the CWC.  This is an important thing to remember when we consider possible Syrian responses to a US attack.

Now let's look at the basic US options.

Faces of the Empire
Option one: "shot across the bow" aka "sissy option"

In this case, we are talking about an extremely limited strike.  Something in the range of 50 or so cruise missile to destroy a few buildings and a couple of radars.  This is a short attack (3 days or so) and this is a symbolic attack (no meaningful result sought).  This seemed to have been the initial idea of Obama, Hagel and Kerry and the sole purpose here is the "send a message" to Assad: "stop using these weapons or else...".

Option two: a meaningful attack, but limited in scope and time

In this case, we are talking about the destruction of a number of military targets: bases, depots, bridges, supply dumps, bunker, command posts, armor concentrations, airfields, etc.  The main difference with the previous one is that the mission is only considered completed when the list of targets is confirmed to be destroyed.  Again, this is also a "message" of sorts, but one which is contained not in the fact of the attack itself, but on the destruction of a number of Syrian government assets.

Option three: regime change

In this case, there is no "message" sent at all.  The goal of this operation is to sufficiently tilt the balance in the Syrian war to grant the victory to the insurgency.  This probably will require the establishment of US air supremacy area over Syria which, in turn, would require an almost total destruction of the Syrian Air Force (easy) and Air Defense Forces (hard) and that, in turn, would require an almost total destruction of the Syrian government's capabilities to operation.  In other words, regime change.

Of course, the real choice of options is anything in between doing nothing and occupying Syria, but we can immediately see one striking feature of the examples given above: while it would probably be rather easy to distinguish option one from option two and three, it would be very hard to tell option two from option three, in particular at the beginning of the US attack.

Even if we assume that the real reason why the US will attack Syria is only the consequence of Obama looking stupid after having spoken about a "red line" and the desire for Obama to now save face and even if we assume that the US has no other objective than to restore credibility, it remains true that on the receiving end of this "credibility restoration operation" it will be extremely hard to guess what the US is really doing unless Obama chooses a really minimalist version of option one and sticks to it. Just look at these options from the point of view of the Syrian military and Hezbollah - how would you tell apart options two and three?

This dilemma is made worse by the evident fact that the US does not really have a policy in the Middle-East in general, and in Syria in particular.  The closest possible thing to a policy objective for Obama in the Middle-East would be something like "appease AIPAC and the KSA at the minimal possible cost and while not looking like a doormat".

Finally, to make things even worse, this absence of a clear policy is made even more problematic by the absolutely fantastic propensity of US politicians to lie combined with their equally fantastic lack of any kind of morals, ethnics or principles (other than, again, "appease AIPAC and the KSA at the minimal possible cost and while not looking like a doormat").

Ask yourself - why are the Russians so easy to predict?  Why is it that any person with a basic knowledge of Russian policy statements can easily predict the Russian policy on Syria?  Or why is it that the Russian policy on Syria has not changed at all during the past years?  The answer is simple: regardless of whether Putin or Medvedev happens to be in the Presidential seat, Russia is committed to the respect for international law.  And not due to some natural Russian inclination for being law abiding (a short trip to Russia will easily convince you of the polar opposite!), but because have an international system based on the rule of law is a fundamental goal of Russian national strategy.  The individual inclinations and (very real) differences between Putin and Medvedev will simply not affect this basic policy goal.

Contrast that with the USA which basically is willing to consider the demands of international law in only two circumstances: when they happen to coincide with US interests or when they can be used to harass a not sufficiently obedient foreign head of state.  Period.

Having now looked into the quasi-impossibility for Hezbollah and Syria to distinguish between anything other than option one and the rest, let's look at possible response strategies of the Resistance:

Faces of the Resistance

Resistance responses to the "sissy option":

The first clear objective of the Resistance if confronted by a US execution of the "sissy option" would have to be to do whatever it takes to encourage Obama not to escalate to further options.  Short of sending the White House a "thank you" note with a bouquet from Interflora this probably means doing very little.  Some declarations of outrage with possibly a missile shot at the waters of the Mediterranean (making sure not to hit anybody) would probably be enough to look defiant and determined.  Yes, this would still be rather humiliating, but I would hope that, unlike Obama, Assad and Nasrallah are less obsessed about looking macho than about doing the smart thing.

Resistance responses a meaningful attack, but limited in scope and time

That is a very very tough one.  Not only would it be most difficult to distinguish between option two and option three, any delays in reacting to an option three executed under the guises of an option two would be most damaging for the Resistance (see below).  Purely theoretically, in an ideal world, the correct response to the execution of option to is to respond in kind: with a meaningful counter-attack also limited in scope and time.  But this is not how this works in the real world.

The USA has probably the choice of 1000 or so possible targets in Syria whereas the Syrians have an extremely limited number of options: they can only attack one US base (Incirlik in Turkey), they can try to hit some USN ship in the Mediterranean, but those will fire their cruise missile way beyond the reach of the Syrian "Yahonts", they can strike at Jordan out of spite and for no good reason or they can strike at Turkey or Israel.  Which of those would you pick for a "meaningful attack, but limited in scope".  At face value, the only one which qualifies would be an attack on Jordan, but even that one would be short on "meaningful".  As for hitting Incirlik, Turkey or Israel, that would be meaningful alright, but that would hardly appear as de-escalatory to the White House and Congress.  Attacking Incirlik would be the morally most defendable choice - its retaliating against an enemy who attacked first: the US military.  Hitting anywhere else in Turkey would mean attacking NATO, but then even an attack on Incirlik could be interpreted this way.

One very real option would be to execute a limited attack on Israel, but knowing the pathologically macho (not to mention racist) mindset of the Israelis, this would also almost guarantee an Israeli response which would lead to further escalation.  True, during the First Gulf War the Israelis absorbed a barrage of Scud missiles from Saddam Hussein, but that was at a time when two really powerful figures were sitting in the White House, George Bush Senior and, especially, James Baker and those two took no orders from the Israelis (this is also why the lost the election after winning that war).  But with a non-entity like Obama in the White House and Macho-Man Netanyahu in Israel it would be crazy to expect the Israelis to show some wisdom.

In theory, in a completely virtual perfect world, the US and the Resistance could chose to communicate through a third party (like Russia) and jointly work to keep things under some kind of rational control: we punch you, you punch as back, we both stop, declare victory, and resume business as usual.  Alas, this is the real Middle-East and not some ideal virtual world.

Though I cannot dismiss such a possibility completely, I honestly do not see how the execution of option two by the USA could be contained and prevented from very rapidly trigger a response to an option three which then, would in turn trigger a US escalation to the execution of option three (that sounds like a Rumsfeld sentence, let me try again).  In other words, I don't see how the Resistance could decide that what the USA is doing is a "meaningful attack, but limited in scope" and I do not see how a ""meaningful response, but limited in scope" by the Resistance would fail to trigger a further escalation by the USA into a full-scale "regime change" kind of operation.

Not good.

Resistance responses a "regime change" kind of attack: 

Let's fully define what we are talking about here: we are talking about putting the Wahabi liver-eaters into power in Damascus thereby creating an existential threat to all non-Wahabis in Syria.  This also means surrounding Hezbollah in Lebanon, cutting it off from Iran.  This would also result in a major boost for the position of the Wahabis in Iraq who are already busy murdering the Iraqi Shia is large numbers on a daily basis.  Hezbollah has already clearly indicated that it would fight regime change in Syria with everything it has.  As for the Iranians, they have already stated that  they "will be ready to sacrifice their lives beside their Syrian brothers against the (front) line of infidels and oppressors" and that "Iran will support Syria "to the end" in the face of a possible US-led military strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad".

Keep in mind here that there are huge differences between Syria and Iran.  If Syria has a very limited number of possible targets for a retaliation, Iran has many hundred possible targets to pick from (pretty much all of CENTCOM). And, again unlike Syria, Iran does have the means to hit them and hit them hard.  Just imagine what a determined Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia would look like with aircraft, ballistic and cruise missiles, ships, commandos, etc. all attacking at the same time.  And yes, CENCOM would use all of its huge resources to stop as many of them as possible, but enough would reach their targets, no doubt in my mind at all.  Iran also could try to shut down the Strait of Hormuz.  I believe that the USN has what it takes to re-open it, but only at the cost of a major battle including (Marine) boots on the ground along the Iranian Gulf coast.  

The big unknown: will Iran intervene and, if yes, how?

So the $10'000 question is: will the Iranians intervene and, if yes, how?  Turns out that they also have two very different options.

If the Iranians decide that what is happening is not a "regime change kind of attack" they can respond by sending as many trained Iranian combatants to protect key cities and locations in Syria.  Remember that in case of option #2 Hezbollah will already have its hands full in Lebanon.  Also, even option two carries with it the very real risk of a determined counter-offensive by the Wahabi cannibals whose morale will be buoyed by the US intervention to save their sorry asses from complete defeat.  
[Note in the margin: Something to think about. Now here is a really bizarre paradox worth thinking about: an Iranian intervention in Syria might be exactly what would guarantee that option #2 (meaningful but limited) does not escalate into option #3 (regime change).  So if Obama was really smart and if his supreme objective was to prevent the entire Middle-East from blowing up he should actually (if privately) welcome an Iranian intervention in Syria.  If the Americans had a tradition of subtle international politics they could "hint" to the Iranians that if they decided to move trained combatants into Syria the US would look the other way (admitting it being politically impossible).  This would reassure both Iran and Hezbollah and thereby prevent a regional explosion but, alas, I don't expect this kind of subtle thinking from the knuckleheads in the White House (nevermind Congress).]
Now let's look at the third option from the point of view of Hezbollah.  Simply put - they cannot accept that.  Period.  That, in turn, means that they should do everything they can to prevent that.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

There are two basic way from deterring an attack:

a) have the means to prevent it
b) have the means to inflict unacceptable retaliatory damage on the attacker

Hezbollah does not have the means to prevent any US attack on Syria.  Neither does Iran, for that matter.  So all that's left for Hezbollah is punishment and that it most definitely can deliver on the "Holiest of Holies" of the US wordview: "the Jewish state of Israel, our eternal ally and only democracy in the Middle-East, amen!" aka the "Zionist entity".

That not only would make sense, it would be fair enough considering that its the Ziolobby which, again, has been pushing for this war.  So let these SOBs pay.  Remember how they organized fun parties and picnics to watch the IDF drown Gaza in bombs and white phosphorus?  Well, what is coming their way now might be called Karma, let's see how they like it.

No doubt at all, the Israeli and US reaction to this will be every bit as vicious as what the Israelis did for 33 days in 2006.  But the important thing to remember is that the Israelis caved in, completely beat and humiliated.  If Syria and Hezbollah embark upon an absolutely determined campaign to make Israel pay for every US strike on Syria the Israelis and Americans will have to accept a ceasefire, especially if Iran also gets involved and strikes the KSA and/or closes the Strait of Hormuz.

Now to sum it all up, here are my basic conclusions about the options available to both sides:

1) The US does not have any halfway sane option here except the first "shot across the bow" or "sissy option" option.  And even this one is frankly very dangerous.  All the other options are extremely dangerous due to their extremely high escalatory potential.

2) The Resistance best option is to get as many trained soldiers into Syria as possible and as fast as possible.  Since Hezbollah will be busy, this means Iranian soldiers.  This response is the most de-escalatory but it can also be part of a massive retaliation strategy should the USA go crazy and start a regional war.

I want to clarify here that by "trained soldiers" I do not mean full military units, at least not bigger than a company.  The requirement here is pretty much what Hezbollah offered around Qusayr, but in much bigger numbers and next to every important objective already in government hands.  Again, the goal here is to prevent the Wahabi cannibals from using the US attack as a cover for a new offensive on the ground.

This also leaves one important question: in case of a massive US "regime change" kind of attack, should Syria use its chemical weapons.  My personal feeling is that no, it should not.  Not only is the use of these weapons illegal, it is also morally repugnant and, frankly, militarily both rather useless and very dangerous.

Make no mistake, on reason why so many countries were so willing to renounce the use of such weapons is simply because they are not terrible effective.  All chemical weapons can do is kill civilians.  But in terms of killing military forces they are rather ineffective.  Almost all modern armies train to fight under chemical attack conditions and while being in a chem-suit with a gas mask is certainly a most annoying and even aggravating situation, this will not stop a unit from performing its mission.  At most, you can degrade the performance of your adversary, but you will not stop him.  Is it worth the risk considering that you might yourself be the target of a far more effective conventional or even nuclear strike?

Governments all hold on to their nukes because nukes are really very effective warfighting weapons.  You can stop the attack of an entire tank battalion with just one nuke - something which no chemical weapon can do.  With nuclear weapons you can completely destroy an entire airfield or government command center.  You have zero chance to do that with chemical weapons.  A single nuclear warhead can sink an aircraft carrier and a good part of the battle group around it.  No amount of chemical munitions will ever do that.

Syria has always kept a large amount of chemical weapons for the sole purpose of deterring an Israeli nuclear strike on Syria.  These weapons were seen as the retaliatory weapon of last resort (since the Israeli reaction to any use of chemical munitions against its population is rather easy to guess).  But, frankly, in terms of warfighting these weapons are useless.

Conclusion: learning from the mistakes of the Serbs.

The Shia of the Middle-East are now exactly in the same situation as the Serbian nation was in the early 1990s: the Empire has decided to crush it.  And just as was the case with the Serbs in the 1990s, the Empire does not have the means to crush all the Shia in one operation.  This is why the Empire began by attacking the Serbian UNPAs (UN Protected Areas) in Croatia, then it continued and split the Bosnian-Serbs from the Yugoslav-Serbs and it attacked the Bosnian Serbs.  Having crushed the Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia (where the Serbs had already won the civil war, just like Hezbollah and the Syrian government have won their civil wars in Lebanon and Syria), the Empire then turned to Kosovo and, again, split the Kosovo-Serbs from the Serbs of Serbia and Montenegro, to then crush them there. Finally, the Empire supported the separatist forces in Montenegro and all that is left of Serbia now is a mini-Serbia with a possible separatist problem in the south (Albanians again) and north (Hungarians of Vojvodina).  So when we want to see what the Empire has in mind for Lebanon think Bosnia, and to guess what the Empire wants for Iran, think modern Serbia.  The irony is that the motto of the Serbian nation has always been "only unity can save Serbia" (Само слога Србина спасава).
Hassan Nasrallah

It is crucial, vital really, for the Shia to avoid the same mistake as the one committed by the Serbs.  The good news is that the Shia are blessed with extremely smart, wise and principled leaders like Nasrallah and Khamenei, whereas the Serbs were lead by a crook: Milosevic - an ex-banker and ex-communist. Assad is more on par with Radovan Karadzic - not as bad as Milosevic but a million miles 
away from a figure like Nasrallah.

If, unlike the Serbs, the Shia really can stick together as one united force not matter what, I predict with a high degree of confidence that the US and Israel will completely fail in their plans and that they will suffer a humiliating defeat.  But if they allow themselves to be separated into different groups they will fall one by one, just as the Serbs did: first Syria, then Hezbollah and thereafter Iran which the Empire will "allow" to remain something as marginal and irrelevant as modern Serbia.  But if the Shia remain united they can first defeat the US Empire in its war against Syria, after which it will have no appetite left for an attack on Iran.  And once the Zio-American attack on Iran finally becomes unthinkable, the Shia will be able to turn their full attention to dealing with  the three malignant tumors of the Middle-East: the Ottomans, the Wahabis and, finally, the Zionists.

Now I would like to open the discussion to everybody else and ask all of you what your take is on the current situation.

Many thanks and kind regards,

The Saker

PS: sorry for all the inevitable and numerous typos in this text which I rapidly wrote this afternoon between several other pressing tasks.  I literally had to put that together in a couple of hours and I have had absolutely no time to proof-read it.  My apologies for that.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

from al akhbar:

"For a week now, the engines of the resistance axis have been running at full throttle, mobilizing thousands of strategic units from Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah to complete all that is necessary to confront an attack and wage an open-ended war."

press your sources. are iranian special forces already there?

http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/new-america-between-modesty-and-madness

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@Anonymous: press your sources. are iranian special forces already there?

My sources never said anything specific about *special* forces, though your supposition makes perfectly good sense. What I hear is "yes, they are here and more are coming". I just hope that this is *a lot* more because once the missiles begin flying this are going to become very chaotic.

Also, *many* sources (including Russian and Arab) confirm that Hezbollah is on full mobilization. But Hezbollah will really have its hands full as soon as the attack begins.

==>>Syria now need the Iranians, lots of them, inside Syria<<==

Cheers,

The Saker

Anonymous said...

Did I miss it? (Haven't read thru a second time yet)

The Russians do not play into any of your resistance options.

Would the Russians share any military intelligence? In a previous
article, for example, you mentioned a "specialized intelligence ship - called the Priazovie".

Another thought - Is there not a fourth option for Obama? Something between Option two and three. Instead of tilting the balance of power such that it leads to victory for the liver-eaters, strike with the goal of *prolonging* the civil war. Cannot believe that Obama wants al Qaeda in charge of Syria but he does appreciate seeing Assad and his forces bled.

Option 3 of 4: Level the playing field such that the war goes on and on and on - decimating al Qaeda AND Assad's forces.

Option 3 of 4 seems the most morally reprehensible as innocent civilians are always the main victim in a war. To intentionally prolong a war would be the work of a devil.

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@Anonymous:The Russians do not play into any of your resistance options.

Indeed. Their role is an indirect one, this is why I did not discuss it.

Yes, they will support the Resistance politically, and yes they will support the Resistance with intelligence. Depending on what the US actually does, they might even support the military operations of the Resistance, but indirectly. What Russia will not do, and I have said that many times, is begin a shooting war with the USA unless the USA attacks first. I have discussed the potential role of Russia in all this in many previous articles (look them up if you missed them), but today I wanted to concentrate on the actors who will be on the front line and who are likely to directly participate in combat.

Another thought - Is there not a fourth option for Obama? Something between Option two and three (...) Option 3 of 4: Level the playing field such that the war goes on and on and on - decimating al Qaeda AND Assad's forces.

No, that is option #3 under another name, and I am sure that the Resistance will understand that. I know that some wannabe pundits are favoring this theory, but they are missing the fact that the Saudis do really mean business here: they *do* want the liver-eaters in power in Damascus as that would give them a tremendous influence over the entire Middle-East. Make no mistake here - its not because the Wahabi cannibals are the pawns of the CIA and "Bandar Bush" that they do not also have their own agenda: taking over the Middle-East. This is a most dangerous existential threat for all the non-Wahabis of the Middle-East, but it appears that the only ones with the clarity of vision and courage to actually fight this are the Shia who are blessing with a most capable leadership.

The Wahabis and the Zionists disagree on several issues, but the one thing which they agree on is that they want to crush what they call the "Shia crescent". What is taking place now is a war for survival for the Shia and for the few Christians remaining in the Middle-East. It is also a war for survival for the non-Wahabi Sunni and for the secularists.

I only wish all these groups would find the courage to unite...

The Saker

Anonymous said...

Oh! Another thought...

Is this not the perfect time for another Israeli false-flag operation? Create the appearance that Assad has overreacted to an Obama attack thus permitting an excessive counter-punch. Or go big time (for the Israelis) and hit an American ship off the coast of Iran.

Sky said...

Crime of war of aggression- Turkey and Israel could be added to the list of the guilty. A case could be made against Saudi Arabia and Qatar too, I think.

Option 1 and Option 2: "Sissy Option" and Limited Strikes. Don't these options presuppose that their motive to attack is really what they claim it to be? If they do either of these, it wouldn't be a warning shot to Assad regarding chemical weapon use, or an attempt to neutralize Assad's alleged chemical mayhem, it would be something else entirely, most likely a deliberate attempt to create the ideal circumstances for an escalation to a prolonged war under the guise of temperance, while hoping that the naked aggressiveness of it would be lost in the ensuing chaos.

Option 1, if they do it, might also be an attempt at saving face, though most of the war hawks pushing for this don't particularly care for Obama's face at all- they genuinely want to shatter Syria for purposes of their own, namely oil, petrodollar, and Israeli land grabs. If Obama were to make a couple sissy strikes and quit, it might be an indication of him acting on his own for once- saving face for himself and defying the more ambitious plans of the others.

Middle East policy - You said that well: "appease AIPAC and the KSA at the minimal possible cost and while not looking like a doormat". I agree entirely, though I think there's more to the policy, namely propping up a failed currency and banking system that needs to feed on continual conquest every six months or so. There may well be the matter of blackmail in this too.

Interesting what you say about the Russian policy. I agree that it is refreshingly candid and consistent. Honesty and superior ethics have that effect. But could you explain what you mean about the Russian character not being particularly law-abiding, yet "an international system based on the rule of law is a fundamental goal of Russian national strategy." ?

Sky said...

I hadn't given much thought until now to what a meaningful response would be to any of these attacks, and thanks for raising that dilemma. You're right- there is no response that would be both meaningful and not suicidal. This is the depth of the evil involved here. If the UN and ICC had any integrity at all, this would be precisely the sort of bully situation they were supposedly created to intercede in. But alas, the police and judges are also controlled by the bully. Thinking of all this really breaks my heart.

A limited attack on Israel would be significant,and Israel richly deserves a hit. It would escalate things, though, and quickly. In a perverse way, Israel wants to be hit. It will allow them to cry out as the victim, and lash out in an uncontrolled tantrum. AIPAC is stronger now than it was before, I believe, and Obama is a wimp. Furthermore, Isreal itself has become even more freakishly arrogant, delusional and messianistic than ever, just in the past few years. They've invested a lot in creating this powder keg, and they won't stop until they get something out of it- no matter how many Israelis get killed. It doesn't matter to them, though they'll howl bloody murder over even a single casualty.

How about a retaliatory strike on Saudi Arabia and Qatar? That would be significant, meaningful, and probably less likely to prompt a mass hysterical response. Americans aren't emotionally conditioned to rush to the aid of the oil sheiks, so there'd be less popular demand for an escalation. If the hit is hard enough, it might even unseat the bastards in charge there, and collapse the petrodollar. That would be a win.

I learned a lot from your account of the Balkans. You know that history very well, and thank you for your insights. I hope what happens next in the Mid East does not go like that did. Could you perhaps write more essays on the subject of the Serbs? Where do you think the Balkan countries would align if the Mid East war goes really hot?

There are other possible factors in the Syria situation, and other outcomes too. Economic bombs can be powerfully effective, and there is a point in some crises where monetary assets are more valuable as weapons than investment and trade instruments. China alone could stop the US war machine in its tracks by freezing exports and dumping US treasuries en masse. I think Russia, too, would have some power to knock the slats out of the Western economy in short order if they chose to. Instant chaos at home, rapidly collapsing buying power and influence overseas, and quite possibly the quick collapse of the Saudi empire. All in all, a scene worth a few minutes of contemplation.

Another factor to consider is that anything more than a few arms-length missile strikes and air attacks would bring US soldiers into fairly close contact with their "allies." They aren't going to like getting hauled into situations of fighting alongside Al Quaida terrorists and I don't think they'll trust or like the IDF much, once they get to know them. Morale will be low going in to begin with, and it will plummet fast if the fighting gets close and personal and casualties get high. Enlistment will be low, and the American public will not tolerate a draft.

Sorry for writing such a long comment.

... said...

Isn't there another more mild option besides the "sissy" option. BO could let his motion to strike Syria get quashed by the Congress and (despite saying he does not need Congressional approval) wave his hands in the air and say "I tried", shrug his shoulders, and do nothing more than is currently being done. I don't buy the argument that the POTUS has to save face and do something.

The truth, however, is that he wants to restore momentum to the FSA rebels who are nearly defeated. It's also possible this is the first stage in a major escalation that could see Israel initiate another war on Lebanon and which would result in war with Iran.

FkDahl said...

Saker,

What of the following...
Russia declares that it joins the "War on Terror" and declares Al Qaeda, Jabhat al Nusra and any Chechen gangs in Syria as targets, by all means necessary but a priory drone strikes. Some Russian soldiers will be on the ground to direct the fight against international terrorism, and any act of war against them will be duly treated as such. Likewise Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey will get an ultimatum to expel any terrorists within 24 hours, or expect surgical kinetic strikes. The terrorist funding networks in the Gulf states will be declared targets, and Prince Bandar will have an Interpol warrant (or a wet job order) on him.
I'd really really like to see someone hurt the Wahabist/Salafist enablers... don't we all?
Above all declare loud and clear that this a fight against the people who did 9/11 and 7/7, and who will do Sochi.
I think a lot of people in the West will be very understanding.

And at the G20 meeting show a film during dinner of jihadist exploits in Syria, and perhaps some AQ black flag napkins. Ivan the terrible would have enjoyed that!

Wikispooks said...

I agree the situation has uncanny parallels with the Serbian debacle. However, in light of the carnage already inflicted on the Middle East by the Zio-US/UK-Globalists (ZUGs), I suggest that the second world war may also provide some valuable parallels.

For example, Syria can be viewed as a major tactical obstacle to a much wider and long-standing ZUG strategy. Whilst the nature of the military deployments etc are very different, as a sort of Arab/Shia Stalnigrad, with similar potential to finally change the course of the war (success of ZUG strategy to date). This article by Sharmine Narwani 'Arabs Beware the Small States Option' is one of the best I have come across on the detail of that developing ZUG strategy.

The problem for the ZUGs is that this is beginning to look very much like a sort of 'last-chance saloon'. Dollar hegemony and control of resources, especially oil and gas, is at its core and the whole edifice is creaking and cracking loudly along all its seams. In the circumstances I personally can see very little possibility that a 'sissy option' could be contained. ANY retaliation by ANY designated 'black-hat' will be promulgated as an outrageous casus belli for the ZUGs - and especially Israel - to go all-in. In fact, if the mouthings of that crazy bastard Netanyahu and his rampant Likudniks are any guide, that is exactly what they are angling for, with the clueless US military/intell/political establishments ready, as ever, to be led by their ignorant, sanctimonious, filthy-lucre-driven noses.

Like you I have no time for Obama, but I am inclined to believe he knows that the JFK assassination was not the work of a lone-nut gunman - same for MLK and BK etc etc. Similar forces are at work here and he well knows it. On the evidence to date, that knowledge has rendered his executive decisions on security and military matters absurd at best - but what's a puppet to do when the puppet-master pulls his strings?

On the US Congress. Doesn't your heart bleed for those poor Repugs - torn between getting the war they want and supporting the President they hate

God knows I really do hope I am wrong about all this but frankly, I see it ending very badly for everyone.

Anonymous Lurker said...

I deeply feel that the gulf states esp Saudi have been getting away with their malfeasance at too low a cost.

when it kicks off the Iranians should make them feel some heat and pain, perhaps some mines should appear around Bahrain & Qatar as a whole and the Ras Tanura oil port in Saudi (their largest apparently)

At the very least Bandar needs to eat a sniper's bullet or two.

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@Anonymous2125:Is this not the perfect time for another Israeli false-flag operation?

In Syria? Yes and no. Yes, because that would give a further pretext to Obama, no because the intelligence capabilities of Russia in the region are growing by the minute and that you could get caught red handed. However, that is not the case in the Persian Gulf and, yes, I a always concerned that the Israelis might blow up a USN ship in the Persian Gulf and blame it on Iran. Good point.

@Sky:Don't these options presuppose that their motive to attack is really what they claim it to be?

Yes. Of course. For all the bla-bla about chemical weapons, its laughable to think that either the US or Israel would give a damn about any Arabs dying from chemical weapons. It's not even about Syria and Assad, really, its about surrounding Hezbollah and, eventually, bringing down Iran.

I think there's more to the policy, namely propping up a failed currency and banking system that needs to feed on continual conquest every six months or so

You are 110% correct, of course. That is the ultimate objective of the entire US foreign policy and also the ultimate objective of the US "defense" policy too. This propping up of the dollar is absolutely crucial, central, vital and always underlines everything else. Thanks for the most important reminder!

could you explain what you mean about the Russian character not being particularly law-abiding, yet "an international system based on the rule of law is a fundamental goal of Russian national strategy."?

Well, what I meant is that Russians have a pretty strong libertarian/anarchist streak in their national character and that they don't think much about the law unless there is a real risk of being caught and severely punished. However, in the case of Russia as a country, it is in the FUNDAMENTAL Russian national interest to have the rules of International Law upheld, so this is why they will pursue this goal regardless of what the Russian national ethos might suggest or be naturally inclined to.

How about a retaliatory strike on Saudi Arabia and Qatar?

"Alas, thousand times alas!!" as the French expression goes. Syria cannot reach that far. Short of blowing up a patch of empty desert in the Saudi northwest, there are no lucrative targets within the reach of the Syrian government. But would those to deserve it? Hell yeah - a million times over, at least as much as Israel!

Isn't there another more mild option besides the "sissy" option

Alas, no, not anymore, not with AIPAC whipping up Congress into a murderous frenzy..

@FkDahl: Russia declares that it joins the "War on Terror" and declares Al Qaeda, Jabhat al Nusra and any Chechen gangs in Syria as targets, by all means necessary but a priory drone strikes

No. First Russia will not directly intervene militarily in this conflict and, second, Russia will not also break international law and go to war without UNSC support.

@Wikispooks:I have no time for Obama, but I am inclined to believe he knows that the JFK assassination was not the work of a lone-nut gunman - same for MLK

MLK and JFK had a spine and balls, that is why they were murdered. But Obama is just a flaccid protoplasm. an invertebrate slug who crawls on his slimy belly. Why kill him?

, I see it ending very badly for everyone.

Same here

@Anonymous Lurker: I deeply feel that the gulf states esp Saudi have been getting away with their malfeasance at too low a cost (...) At the very least Bandar needs to eat a sniper's bullet or two.

Amen brother! But something tells me that Bandar might be one of the most protected fat cats on the planet. But yeah, the Saudis have accumulated an immense reserve of bad Karma and its bound to come back. I can't wait...

Anonymous said...

You really think that destroying the syrian airforce would be easy?
I think that the US ships are going to be sunk. Not all of them and that is part of the syrian plan.
I also believe that the Iranians have already brought in more men. They will I hope realize that by blunting the US Mils edge in Syr they will have won most of the war.
The US ppl do not want this war and will view any casualties as Odummy's fault. If he wins, he will look like a butcher, if he loses he will look like wimp. He is toast either way.
I visited Serbia almost two years ago. That is what you call a defeated people. Have you written more about the Balkan wars?
I am always hungry for more information about that murky period in history when the Serbs were considered worse than Nazi's.
Fernando

Anonymous Lurker said...

FWIW:

Alex Jones is talking about Obama pushing and provoking Russia into war by sinking the fleet in Med.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZabqP8CJxw&feature=share&list=UUvsye7V9psc-APX6wV1twLg

I'm somewhat skeptical of him in international matters but a lot of what he's been warning on domestically has come to pass.

He's also talking up the risk of a nuclear false flag.

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@Fernando: You really think that destroying the syrian airforce would be easy?

Yes, less than 24 hours to totally wipe it out and destroy every military airfield in Syria.

I think that the US ships are going to be sunk

With what? They are out of reach of Syrian missiles and the Syrian Air Force and Navy are a joke.

I visited Serbia almost two years ago. That is what you call a defeated people

Yes, for the time being yes. But there is no doubt in my mind at all that as soon as the US Empire weakens sufficiently they will be right back in Kosovo and that a lot of bad Karma will inevitably come to the Albanians for the ugly role they played in that war.

Have you written more about the Balkan wars?

Yes, I have, a lot. Both here and elsewhere. But right now its still too early to say the full truth about this war as most people are still firmly stuck in the US/Saudi propaganda narrative about what happened. This being said, the Serbs also need to do some good research and a lot of soul searching about why they were defeated. If the Serbs were nowhere near the kind of monsters as the US/Saudi propaganda depicted them to be, there were still plenty enough atrocities committed by them, and a lot of their leaders were corrupt (Slobo being the worst of them), and a lot of Serb arrogance played a role in the US defeating them.

The really sad thing about the war in Croatia and Bosnia is that there are no good guys at all there: the Croats, the Bosnian-Muslims and the Serbs all behaved in a morally appalling and deprived ways, Tudjman, Itzebegovic and Milosevic were all morally deeply corrupt and evil people, a lot of the leaders on all sides were corrupt to the bone (Haris Silajdzic) and often shallow people (Karadzic, Mladic) and the few good people on both sides (especially on the Bosnian-Muslim and Serbian sides) were completely isolated. The only ones who got what they wanted and who did not pay a horrendous price were the Croats whom the West has always protected. The poor Bosnian-Muslims were simply used as expendable tools against the Bosnian-Serbs who themselves were used by their politicians for their own political goals.

In a perfect world, the Bosnian-Muslims and Bosnian-Serbs would have united to toss out the Croats from all of Bosnia and from the Serbian Krajinas (or UNPAs) and that would have solved the problem to everybody's advantage.

But the Empire and its Croat proteges played the Bosnian-Muslims and Bosnian-Serbs against each other and they won.

At least for the time being.

The Saker

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@Anonymous Lurker: I do not trust Alex Jones any more than I trust Gordon Duff. Nor do I believe in a nuclear false flag because whose false flag would be used? Syria, Hezbollah or Iran have no nukes. And if the Russians want to nuke the USA, they can do that by turning a key on a control panel (and then sit back, relax and watch the US missiles take of a nuke Russia).

As for Russian and/or the US being on a higher degree of alert, this is always mis-understood by civilians: the world is actually SAFER when the Russians or Americans do that because being on high(er) alert means both sides have their weapons better protected and their detection systems at peak readiness. Also, this is the *perfect* time to conduct drills and trainings. How often does the US get to observe a full Russian naval task force deployed? How often can the Russian Navy shadow 5 USN destroyers at the same time? It makes perfectly good sense for both the US and Russia to go to higher alert and to use that time to train and train and train and train again.

I see absolutely *no* signs that WWIII is imminent!

Cheers,

The Saker

Anonymous said...

"I see absolutely *no* signs that WWIII is imminent!"

While it might not be "imminent" it is completely plausible in this situation for an incident to trigger it. I don't believe it would be responsible to simply dismiss the possibility with so much chaos in the Med with the US, Chinese, American & French warships mulling about and the Israeli's firing off ballistic missiles. War very rarely goes as planned.

If Russia loses Syria, it will represent a SERIOUS geo-political setback, as a pipeline will likely go up in that country from Qatar. Pepe Escobar has covered this for years. Putin is coming under TREMENDOUS (especially from the Duma) pressure domestically NOT to allow Syria to fall. it seems the only thing that US leaders understand is force or the threat of extinction - this appears to be the only thing that will deter them since they could give a rat's ass about "international law."

I do not buy into Alex Jones sensationalism either, but I would be lying if I were as confident as you in believing that Russia would not be dragged in. This is war, there are unknowns and one can never guarantee the actions of another.

Thanks for this blog entry.

P.S. - If the Russians/Chinese did draw a redline at Syria, would the US seriously risk a nuclear holocaust to impose regime change in Syria? As sociopathic as the leaders are in the White House, I somehow have a hard time believing they consider Syria that important.

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@Anonymous1537: I don't believe it would be responsible to simply dismiss the possibility with so much chaos in the Med with the US, Chinese, American & French warships mulling about and the Israeli's firing off ballistic missiles. War very rarely goes as planned.

You are absolutely correct here and did not mean to give the impression of dismissing such a possibility. I just wanted to say that I saw no signs of that being in the making.

If Russia loses Syria, it will represent a SERIOUS geo-political setback

Yes and no. Yes, because it would represent a political defeat for BOTH Russia AND China. No, because Syria is too small and the pipeline through it not important enough to qualify as a "national interest". Frankly, Syria and all it represents is not more than "nice to have" for Russia or China. Still, the fall of Syria to the Wahabi-cannibals would be a major risk for Hezbollah and a major loss for Iran, and the "loss" of Iran would really be a disaster for Russia and, to a lesser degree for China. But make no mistake, Russia and China are both big enough and close enough to be able to survive a "loss" of the entire Middle-East to the USA (which is pretty much the case already!) without being too negatively affected.

Both Russia and China are really *continents* and together, which they now very much are, they completely dwarf any other part of the planet in terms of size and potential. In fact, while the US Empire suffers from immense over-stretch, the Russians and Chinese are sitting nicely tight, inside their own border. Why? Because a maritime Empire such as the USA cannot afford to "lose" the Middle-East without losing its imperial status. Heartland mega-countries have no such requirements for survival, especially since neither Russia nor China have any desire to become Empires.

Fascinating stuff, no?

Cheers,

The Saker

Anonymous said...

I think you are being a bit too optimistic in seeing the loss of Syria and Iran as being less than a disaster for Russia and China. Besides the gas to Europe, there is the huge point that in a couple of years, the problems will be on or in their borders. And the US no longer would respect UN votes. Blowing up the Middle East will mean hundreds of thousands of desperately poor or crazy people to do the same thing to Russia and China.

Russia took over Georgia and said to NATO and Israel "Get out of the way or this will get nasty." NATO backed down. This would be different because of Israel, but why would it be surprising if the Russians shot down some missiles?

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

@Anonymous0559:there is the huge point that in a couple of years, the problems will be on or in their borders

Very true, and that is the main risk for Russia, you are absolutely correct. However, today's Russia is not the Russia of the 1990s. I assure you that the military, counter-insurgency, counter-terrorist, counter-intelligence capabilities of Russia on its southern borders are truly formidable and that all of them are now back by 1) a public opinion with zero tolerance for Wahabis and 2) a leader in the Kremlin who will not hesitate to use all the instruments of power to crush the liver-eaters should they show up in southern Russia, the Caucasus or Central Asia. Still, yes, Russia would want to avoid that for sure, but all I am saying that now Russia is prepared for that contingency.

Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Just to say thank you for your replies and kind remarks.
I was hoping that the Syrian airforce would play a better, more decisive role in the upcoming battle with ZUG forces.
But the migs and su's they have probably don't stand a chance against the American military machinery.
I firmly still believe that the air defences that Syria does have will knock down quite a few American planes and cause pilots to lose their lunch at the thought of having to fly over Syria.

Well that's all concerning that. The points you made concerning the Balkan wars was very good.
I dated a Croatian Bosnian, learned the language and immersed myself in the culture.
Very sensitive stuff.
I listened to the stories about the war with a slightly and they were sad, sad stories about an amazing society that was destroyed by the greedy and the ruthless.
Zagreb, Mostar, Treblinca, Sarajevo, Dubrovnik and Chatichi.
These were all places I got to know and enjoy. I learned a lot.
The Albanians I do expect them to suffer dear retribution for all the sins they've committed.
The people down there don't forgive and they don't forget.
They are ready to start shit all over again.
I thought at first how crazy it was that on one street all but one house was Kosovar and then that one house would be Croatian or Serb.
Just holding out until the next irredentist conflict arises again.
Then I thought about it and it's not that disimilar in Newark NJ.

Well that's it,

Warm regards,

Fernando