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In Syria, militias armed by the Pentagon fight those armed by the CIA (latimes.com)
302 points by dismal2 on March 29, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 198 comments



I wonder how much of the mess in the middle east is cause by the erratic western diplomacy and how much would have happened anyway.

Clearly the US invasion of Iraq, and the chaos that followed has been a catalyst for islamism in the region. The US+European backed revolution in Libya, Syria and Egypt only added to the chaos. It is tempting to think that had we just stayed away from all that, the region would be under the control of ruthless dictators but at least would be in peace, and islamists would be in jail. When we think that half of the population of Syria are now refugees, of which half had to emigrate, is overthrowing Al Assad really worth that, and is overthrowing Al Assad worth creating ISIS? I must say that for how much I dislike Putin, he has a point when he tells Western diplomacy: look at the mess in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and now you are telling me you want to invade another country in the middle east?

On the other side when we look at most of these conflicts, they are really ethnic conflicts. Sunnis vs Shia vs Kurds vs Alawites vs etc... Both Saddam Hussein and Qaddafi were old and were bound to die in the next 10-20 years (as of 2002). And the rise of Islamism is a global phenomenon that spans from Indonesia to Morocco, through Turkey or Pakistan, from the muslim suburbs of Paris and Brussels to the desert in Mali. Perhaps all of this would have happened anyway. Like it is foreseeable that when Saudi Arabia will run out of oil money, it will descent in a state of complete chaos.

I think of Islamism as a kind of a repeat of communism, it's an ideology which time has come, which will find a broad adhesion in the muslim world, and will likely disappear the same way communism did, through its own disastrous results when in power and inability to compete with the West, both economically and in term of values. The most anti-communist populations are the populations that have been ruled by communism (Eastern Europe).

As for ethnic conflicts, there are no good solutions. If two populations hate each others, grand speeches at the UN headquarters in NYC will not change anything. I'd be incline to think we should stay away from ethnic conflicts. We should keep in mind that whoever we decide to back in Syria, once that side wins, they will start a terrible ethnic cleansing. Do we really want to sponsor that?


I used to work in Middle East affairs.

There is a tendency for Westerners to overstate their own importance in the Middle East, which are also informed by inter-state, intra-state and extra-regional groups and actors that are neither European nor American.

The real regional meta-story that is playing out right now, in my opinion, is the inevitable collapse of the post-imperial order. It was caused not by any grand state actors (or by Twitter) but by a single Tunisian street vendor. He upended the unsustainable patterns of rule that have characterized the region since the withdrawal of the European powers after World War II. Nobody knows what comes next, and there is no good model, yet, of American statecraft to inform a regional posture.

The story made me shake my head, but not because of anything to do with of any sinister implications that it raised about the military-industrial complex, but because it looks like Keystone Kops. The Syrian civil war is a proxy conflict between the (Sunni) Gulf States and (Shia) Iranians with the Russians alongside the latter. It takes the form of members of ISIS killing Quds Force commanders, and it ignited without much help from the West. Which side would you pick?


The Syrian civil war is a proxy conflict between the (Sunni) Gulf States and (Shia) Iranians with the Russians alongside the latter. It takes the form of members of ISIS killing Quds Force commanders, and it ignited without much help from the West. Which side would you pick?

You forgot the weird Turkey vs the Kurds almost war thing. And the weirder thing of the Israelis almost protecting ISIS forces from Assard/Hezbollah. Or the bizarre Iraqi Mosal campaign where Iraqi backed Iranian militias almost had (or sometimes did have?) US Airforce backing.

Anything is possible in this war.


Just a minor correction:

The Turkish state seems to have only a problem with the militant Kurds in Turkey and Syria but not the ones in Iraq as it seems that they get along very well and the Kurds in Iraq even allow Turkish forces to launch airstrikes in the region of Iraqi Kurdistan and for their troops to hunt down PKK members over there with the help of Peshmerga, the de facto Kurdish armed forces in Northern Iraq.

So, saying that the Turks are at complete odds with Kurdish militias all over the region is not entirely correct.


Indeed! At one point the Iraqi Kurds and Turkey were sharing the profits from an oil pipeline.

The are multiple Kurdish factions on all sides of all borders. The don't always get along, either with each other or with Turkey. I also believe that there is a multitude of views towards the Assad regime.

AFAIK they all fight ISIS though.


Henri Barkey , in Woodrow Wilson (which is expert in these area's) says the reason is Iraqi Kurds realized PKK is danger to them also , because of their control by only one person. He claim PKK is organization controlled by one person which don't like to be outside of the game (abdullah Ocalan) and do what ever he can to stay in conflict and therefore because of this reason basically iraqi kurds tend to ignore PKK because they realized this is dangerous actor to be involved with (or in some cases fight against them).

The talk was in NPR, you can search "Henry Barky NPR Kurds".


I would have sworn that I've heard reports of Iraqi Kurds complaining about those airstrikes and vowing to shoot down the next Turkish plane? Especially now that the Turks have more to worry about from Syria, why would Kurds in Iraq accommodate the Turks in any way?


It's becoming a ritual with Erdogan's govt recently to launch airstrikes against PKK positions in Qandil, Northern Iraq following every terrorist attack in Turkey that's blamed on militant Kurdish nationalists and they even sent troops to Iraqi Kurdistan last December with the tacit approval of the Kurdish authorities to neutralize PKK militants there.

There's always been tension between Kurdish nationalist factions and they even had a brief civil war[1] between Iraqi Kurds in the 90s (Talabani vs Barzani) and there's rivalry between the Peshmerga and the PKK esp. in the area where the Peshmerga deems its territories in Iraq where some PKK members challenge their authority there but despite all of this, some Kurdish nationalist love to portray the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds as an ethnic and not a political one as it garners more support and sympathy for their cause and make Turkey look like the bad guy in this conflict.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraqi_Kurdish_Civil_War


Is there any evidence either regarding whether the recent attacks for by Kurds or ISIS?

That's one aspect I find very confusing - Turkish attitudes towards ISIS aren't exactly hardline (eg frequent reports of ISIS supply routes over the Turkish border), and so it isn't clear to me what terror attacks by ISIS in Turkey would gain.

Except terror of course - that's always a thing. And I also understand that ISIS command and control isn't exactly centralised, so it could be random people somewhat aligned.

Another alternative is that they are more tactical in nature - maybe Turkey closes a border route, so ISIS bombs Ankara? I don't know enough to know if this makes sense.

Either way.. confusing.


All good points. 'The West' didn't instigate the uprisings in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria. They were started by local people for local reasons, often with westerners cheering on from the side lines or occasionally providing a bit of air support as in Libya, but mainly keeping out of it.

For goodness sake, we'd been trying to topple Gaddafi and the Syrian regime for half a century and getting exactly nowhere, then as you say one Tunisian street vendor makes a desperate gesture and in the chain reaction from that the whole region falls into chaos. That's history for you.

As for IS, the reason they're such a nuisance isn't so much due to the invasion of Iraq, it's due to the power vacuum in north western Iraq caused by the withdrawal of US forces in 2011. The fact is the surge worked, but all of that was willingly thrown away.


>They were started by local people for local reasons, often with westerners cheering on from the side lines or occasionally providing a bit of air support as in Libya, but mainly keeping out of it.

"A bit of air support" is a strange characterization for destroying the Libyan government's entire tank fleet in the middle of an Islamist uprising. "Mainly keeping out of it" is a strange characterization for supporting a coup in Egypt that toppled a democratically elected government. Also, we never, ever, ever, ever talk about Bahrain, where the US supplied arms through Saudi Arabia against the uprisings and: >By 2014, 5,000 Saudi and Emirati forces and almost 7000 American forces were positioned "less than 10 miles from the Pearl Roundabout, the center of the country’s protest movement."

We have surrounded the middle east with armies for more than a generation and armed the worst governments in the area. "Mainly keeping out of it" is a gross mischaracterization of what we do there.


Only occasionally carpet bombing capitals in the area?


Thanks for correcting the GP's point in which he overestimated the role of Western powers in most uprisings in the MENA region (2011 - ).

I don't recall any major role for the US in the Tahrir Square uprising in Egypt except just saving their interests whether in the Presidency or the military but saying that the West orchestrated the whole thing is just blatantly false and totally dismisses the sweat and blood we Egyptians scarified to get rid of dictatorship and take all the credit for themselves.

Now to ISIS, we could argue that ISIS was a byproduct of the Iraq invasion in 2003. ISIS was born out of the Iraqi Insurgency and the Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia under the leadership of Abu Mosab Azzarqawi.

So yeah the US invasion of Iraq contributed indirectly to the rise of ISIS in Iraq first and then to expand in the neighboring Syria and eclipsing Al-Qaeda as the "hottest" Islamic terrorist organization in the world.


I agree with much of this, but history should look more closely at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S.%E2%80%93Iraq_Status_of_Fo...


We HAVE picked a side, it's Saudi Arabia. We sell them billions of dollars in arms every year, support them in every conflict they undertake (we are currently helping them bomb the shit out of Yemen), we have contained Iran behind sanctions for a generation. The idea that the US is a neutral actor in this fight and not a huge source of military power dictating events is, frankly, a horrific lie.


Is not this sentence: "a tendency for Westerners to overstate their own importance in the Middle East" and this sentence: "the inevitable collapse of the post-imperial order", a little in contradiction? or are you talking about the Ottoman empire?

"The Syrian civil war is a proxy conflict between the (Sunni) Gulf States and (Shia) Iranians with the Russians alongside the latter."

Would be appropriated to say "with the Americans alongside the Sunni"? Is this, then, a kind of proxy-proxy war?

Because it seems to me that we always heard how bad are the Iranians but very little about how bad are the Saudis and company.


Good points. I think that it's probably more complete to say that "Western nations (and Russia and China and India...) cast a long, but declining, shadow across the history of the Middle East." The collapse of the post-imperial order was probably inevitable and is a demonstration of exactly the fragility of Western regional influence.

And the purpose of this article seems to be to demonstrate that the Americans don't have any clue which side they are on.

The Iranian government has literally been chanting "Death to America" every week since 1979. Our relationship with Saudi is much, much more complex.


If the chanting bothers us, we shouldn't have deposed Mosaddegh.


The history of US-Iranian relations is more complex than this, and Mosaddegh was also a controversial figure in Iranian history.


Oh, complexity! I'll shut up now...

Fuck that. If anything had happened in Iran before Mosaddegh was overthrown by USA that would constitute a defensible justification for that action, I'm sure you would have told us already. Instead, here's some innuendo. Gosh that chanting is bad.


I appreciate your evidence-based response. I was providing shorthand, but you should familiarize yourself, for instance, on Mosaddegh's use of emergency powers after his reinstatement. If you would prefer to review this history in a less heuristically-based fashion, I can recommend The Persian Puzzle, which explores the full complexity of local politics in great detail, including Soviet participation in Iran as well. Among the other things that it includes is a great breakdown of how Khomeini manipulated the levers of influence to gather power in 1979, and how he was particularly anti-American in outlook even among those populations that were predisposed to look unfavorably on the U.S.

Also, implicit in your criticism, such as it is, is the notion that the chanting is representational of the Iranian population. It is not; most of the country has lived for long enough under the 'revolutionary' rule of the IRGC that they are actually more disposed towards the West than you might think.

Regardless, you asked why the U.S. was tilted towards Saudi in its conflict with Iran, and I was trying to provide a summary: that is an outgrowth of regional balance-of-power politics as much as anything else.


Thanks, but I try to limit my consumption of books written by CIA personnel to one or two a year. Let's stipulate that the Ayatollahs are just as bad as the Shah eventually was. By any objective measure, however, both of those are worse for the Iranian populace and for USA interests than Mosaddegh ever was. If "Mosaddegh's use of emergency powers" is at all relevant to the discussion, then your premise must be that USA should act as a sort of "World Police", responding to every imperfectly-capitalistic action of elected leaders anywhere. I reject that premise, and I find that history rejects it more as time goes on.

I wasn't the one who initially asked why USA traditionally favors Saudi over the Ayatollahs, but frankly your response to that query is an exercise in question-begging. They wouldn't chant "death to America" if that chant weren't rhetorically useful. It wouldn't be rhetorically useful if USA hadn't intervened to remove an elected Prime Minister.


I think your point is quite interesting to think about, but I do not think that is a good way to think about history. What would happen if the US didn't invade Iraq is impossible to know. Your comment seems to suppose that there were two possibilities: what we have now, or status quo of 2002. In actuality, there are infinitely many possibilities. If one of the dictators died, their sons could become the new dictators. The Arab Spring may not have happened, or could have happened and led to a stable Syria/Iraq/etc. It is impossible to list the possibilities; almost certainly something different that I cannot imagine would have happened.

However, by invading Iraq, we introduced a new humongous source of chaos to an already chaotic situation. Chaos and destruction cause historical events to become even less predictable than they usually are and impossible to control. What is predictable is that they tend to support the worst in people and suppress the best. I think it's quite safe to say that the cure was worse than the disease (Saddam, at least), and we are responsible for that. History tells us that this usually happens when people try to solve problems by invading countries.

In other words, I think we shouldn't pretend we can predict outcomes of chaotic situation. One thing we can be guided by is that the things we feel are bad (war, oppression, genocide, etc.) cause more chaos and create far more misery than the politicians and the public doing the bad thing imagine when they convince themselves it's necessary/worthwhile/inevitable. Also, no situation is so very bad that you cannot make it worse (as apparently astronauts like to say).


One of the reasons I like crowd prediction is that it seems to be slowly leading to well distributed groups of people who are able to make educated guesses even with one or two conditionals.

While governments have professional analysts, they don't do all that much better than chance even on direct predictions and then what they do share with the public is filtered by their biased interests.

Not only do we not know, for example, if the chaos after an accelerated arab spring was a better outcome from the perspective of maintaining western financial/political interests at a cost of preventing a more gradual transition into stable democracies. But more importantly, we also don't know if government analysts had that hypothesis and they still chose to interfere.

Personally, I don't think western democracies will continue to function with that type of secrecy of knowledge combined with increasing computational modeling/prediction capabilities.


Is there a data set somewhere that shows concrete predictions made by groups of people and how often they are right/wrong?


There are research projects/papers on the topic with claims that are all based on Brier scores. I'd say Brier scores are inherently biased by choices in framing/asking questions, but at least measure everyone uniformly/fairly who is given the same questions:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Good_Judgment_Project

For full datasets, I'm not sure if they provide it since not all researchers are good about open data. You could look at open prediction markets which are directly observable but they wont give you any insight into how professional analysts compare with the crowd.


At that birth rate and that economy- the revolutions- or wars are bound to happen every 37 years, even with food-aid and oil-money. So we know what would have happened, cause it has happened. Several times over and over again. Different names, different reasons, the results are the same. Iranian Revolution, Iran-Iraq War, Six-Days War. You can decorate it all you want, but in the end, its despots and robber-chieftains, venting the teapot they ride. Its also very sad. How many minds lost to the sand, so many good ideas, we never heard off.


Al Assad is a good example of another dictator taking over. But in the case of Saddam and Qaddafi, it is less clear who would have taken over. And perhaps what could have happened is a progressive, peaceful transition to democracy. But the example of the Balkans show that you can put a lead on ethnic hatred for a very long time, but it will pop up sooner or later.


I think that isn't fair assessment of what happened in Balkans. The nations in Balkans aren't that delineated by blood as they are by religion, which implies the divide is more or less artificial. Some national tensions will always exist, but they were stocked by Miloshevic and co.

Imagine if Trump realizes that he can't rule all of America, but he could totally rule Southern States. So he devises a plan to divide the states and cause a rebellion. Eventually he manages to persuade some Nothern States officials that they are better off without Southern States and that they implicitly or explicitly agree to divide the USA between them. That's a more accurate version of what Miloshevic did.


If I want this to happen, should I vote for Trump or not?


This a theoretical example using a highly divisive figure (Trump). It's not meant to reflect Trump's true intentions.


Well that's lame. You got my hopes up for nothing! Not to mention, some Trump fans might not like your using him for rhetorical purposes. They think he is a genuine American patriot, not some automatic do-the-transgressive-thing fake persona.


There is a Star Trek episode that says "No intervention is not just a rule, it's a philosophy. History has shown that, no matter how good our intention is, the intervention of imposing Earth's value on other cultures only makes things worse. And in the other case of no intervention, we never know."

So the Enterprise just leaves that system of two stars hosting two societies that have developed a symbiosis relationship (one exploiting the other based on lies) without exposing the lies even though they can give a better solution. The only thing they tell them is that "Maybe you'd discover that there are ..options"


Which episode was that?

The Prime Directive was a great idea; I really wonder what exactly spurred Roddenberry to come up with that. But TOS was chock full of episodes where Kirk brushed aside the Directive and intervened anyway, frequently by blowing up some big computer.


In Star Trek the Next Generation I think. It's quite old and some episodes are less intriguing for today's standard but some really really great.

If you like, you can go on dailymotion.com/video and search for it.


>It's quite old and some episodes are less intriguing for today's standard

WTF? I completely disagree; ST:TNG (and TOS) is a breath of fresh air compared to modern TV. No over-the-top ultra-violence, no half-second-long Michael Bay-style shots, no requirement that you've followed the series religiously and are watching the episodes in order; it's a great way to relax and watch something enjoyable. It's also nice that all the characters are hyper-competent; this is a nice break from the real world which is full of incompetent morons. If I want to see "dark, gritty realism", I'll go walk around a ghetto or something.


No I watch ST to relax also (and I don't watch anything else). But I just say some of them.

For example, there is this one episode that develops a bit strange. Piccard shouts "shut up Weasley" and blindly ignore the fact that Data is acting weird. Of course that's the plot, but I don't find it convincing.

Also, the episode Hide and Q (I like Q character), it's a bit trivial in script writing compared to today understanding. However, Q comes back at the end of the next generation and make a profound appearance (he puts Piccard on a trial because he is interested in Piccard as a superior human which is a nice thing because he and the Q continuum regards publicly human as an inferior species).

I just say that there is "some" plot holes but overall, it's still something I'd stick to.


Well yeah, to be fair, TNG had a lot of problems, particularly in the first two seasons. The first season was a near-disaster really, between Wesley's horribly annoying character, Q, Data, a whole lot of wooden acting all around, and really awful scripts like anything with "the traveler". Season 2 was pretty bad too with Dr. Pulaski trying to ape McCoy vis-à-vis Spock in her interactions with Data and failing miserably. Basically, the problem was the Gene Roddenberry was too hands-on at the time; the guy was just like Lucas: he had some great ideas, but really sucked at execution, and things went much, much better when he sat back and let other people do all the nitty-gritty work of writing, direction, etc. After he got less involved and his drinking buddy Maurice Hurley left the show, and they brought back Crusher (who Hurley had forced out) and put Rick Berman in charge, that's when we got all the greatest episodes, at least until the writers ran out of ideas in seasons 6-7.


Haha I haven't watched all of them. I learn to occasionally watch so that they don't run out like Dr Who. I like the Traveler ^^. Seems like a good idea that you can travel across dimensions (more freedom) and I like it that he told Weasley to "have faith in people's ability to resolve their own problem". Sometimes if the path is too divergent, we have to let go of people.


Overall I agree with your assessment, but you are inaccurate on a couple of counts. None of these "revolutions" started as US+European backed. The western powers only got involved after the brutal crackdowns (and not at all in Egypt).

Recall that rebellion against Qaddafi started in Benghazi and then spread and then he fought back and was about to put the insurrection down when a no-fly zone was imposed.

With Syria, it all started as more or less peaceful demonstrations as a part of the Arab spring. The financing of rebel groups by western powers started much later once the war already commenced.


'None of these "revolutions" started as US+European backed.'

Really? Clinton on Qaddafi: https://youtu.be/mlz3-OzcExI

ADDENDUM regarding "US+European" involvement in Libya and Syria (as I was on mobile and had time constraints as I wrote the above):

Libya

'The Libyans were emotional because the U.S. and its allies had toppled leader Moammar Kadafi in a military campaign that averted a feared slaughter of Kadafi's foes. Obama administration officials called the international effort, accomplished with no Western casualties, a "model intervention."' (http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-us-libya-20140...)

Syria

This USG cable (https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/06DAMASCUS5399_a.html) written in 2006 (!) lists a number of "vulnerabilities" and "possible actions" - almost like a playbook - on how to change Syrian regime. (background info and analysis of the cable: http://www.truth-out.org/progressivepicks/item/33180-wikilea...)


The Libyan campaign did not start well until Ghaddafi's threats to decimate Benghazi, months into the conflict. Mind you, spearheaded by France (for once). It's an open question would humanitarian toll been the same in the case of non-intervention. One thing is certain: the West would still have been blamed for it.

In case of Syria, Asssad blamed the protests that followed the execution of the teens squarely on Israel, so you can't be right.


> (for once)

For once? France is one of the most trigger happy developed nations next to the US. They've been involved in more than two dozen major conflicts since Korea, and far more smaller operations, many in which they were they main or only foreign force.

The difference is that the conflicts France tends to get involved in are less flashy and/or shorter and more targeted. E.g. a standing counter-insurgency force of 3,000 in the Sahel, isn't very flashy. Helicopters and fighter planes and a few thousand troops in Côte d'Ivoire got some coverage when they helped depose the former president, but it was over quickly, and so on. But they have active combat troops in at least a dozen countries right now.


I was more about their unusual role in leading a major coalition intervention (in lieu of the USA), but I concur you have a point.


(1) Has Ghaddafi really threatend to "decimate Benghazi"?

"Contrary to Western media reports, Qaddafi did not initiate Libya’s violence by targeting peaceful protesters. The United Nations and Amnesty International have documented that in all four Libyan cities initially consumed by civil conflict in mid-February 2011 — Benghazi, Al Bayda, Tripoli, and Misurata — violence was actually initiated by the protesters. The government responded to the rebels militarily but never intentionally targeted civilians or resorted to “indiscriminate” force, as Western media claimed. Early press accounts exaggerated the death toll by a factor of ten, citing “more than 2,000 deaths” in Benghazi during the initial days of the uprising, whereas Human Rights Watch (HRW) later documented only 233 deaths across all of Libya in that period."

http://journal-neo.org/2014/06/22/the-truth-of-libya-finally...

And who has armed protesters/rebels there in early 2011... those same rebels who have stormed the US embassy on September, 11th 2012? (interesting date... it must be a coincidence)

America's secret plan to arm Libya's rebels

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/americas...

You may be asking yourself, why would USG and its NATO allies (yes, French government primarily) do such thing (topple Ghaddafi)? One hint is hidden in recently published Clinton e-mails:

FRANCE'S CLIENT & QADDAFI'S GOLD

https://wikileaks.org/clinton-emails/emailid/12659

[...]

Qaddafi's government holds 143 tons of gold, and a similar amount in silver. During late March, 2011 these stocks were moved to SABHA (south west in the direction of the Libyan border with Niger and Chad); taken from the vaults of the Libyan Central Bank in Tripoli.

This gold was accumulated prior to the current rebellion and was intended to be used to establish a pan-African currency based on the Libyan golden Dinar. This plan was designed to provide the Francophone African Countries with an alternative to the French franc (CFA).

(Source Comment: According to knowledgeable individuals this quantity of gold and silver is valued at more than $7 billion. French intelligence officers discovered this plan shortly after the current rebellion began, and this was one of the factors that influenced President Nicolas Sarkozy's decision to commit France to the attack on Libya. According to these individuals, Sarkozy's plans are driven by the following issues:

a. A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production,

b. Increase French influence in North Africa,

c. Improve his internal political situation in France,

d. Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world,

e. Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi's long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa.)

[...]

So much for "the West" just trying to avoid being blamed for atrocities in Libya.

More interesting e-mails: H: LOTS NEW. FRENCH ECONOMIC GRAB/LEVY/Q & OBL/AQ BASE IN ALGERIA. SID

https://wikileaks.org/clinton-emails/emailid/11647

H: LOTS OF NEW INTEL; POSSIBLE LIBYAN COLLAPSE. SID

https://wikileaks.org/clinton-emails/emailid/6551

[...]

French, British and Egyptian Special Forces troops are training the rebels inside of western Egypt, and to a limited degree in the western suburbs of Benghazi.

[...]

GERMANY LOANING $144 MILLION TO LIBYAN REBELS (AP)

https://wikileaks.org/clinton-emails/emailid/27323

(2) On Syria: I assume you are referring to Daraa protest and arrested children (who were released afterwards)? Not even MSM (mainstream media) spoke of an execution. Information about that came from Rami Abdul Rahman, a guy who heads up the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and sits in London! Not the most credible source. A more balanced view:

Syria: The Hidden Massacre

http://mideastshuffle.com/2014/05/16/syria-the-hidden-massac...

Besides (and this relates to Libya, as well), do you really think that a protest and arrest lead to a civil war? For a war to be fought you need weapons, trained people, communication equipment, structure, food and medical supplies, organizational structure. We are to believe the protesters had all that? Another hint of the real cause for the war in Syria is this:

Newly-Declassified U.S. Government Documents: The West Supported the Creation of ISIS

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/05/newly-declassified-u-...


Very true. Gadaffi stirred too many pots at once, his plan to establish a gold backed currency was the final straw.

Funnily enough the first target NATO bombed was the man made "river" to the desert aquifers. So much for bringing democracy to Libya.


There's also the Clinton Secretary of State emails where phony protests were shilled as a solution to Israel being unwilling to negotiate, seems like staging and encouraging dissent is regular policy http://www.timesofisrael.com/clinton-received-plan-to-secret...


I think it's also important to point out the the timeline for all these events is murky at best. We know when the West announced their support for these various movements, but that doesn't always represent the exact time or size of the support given..


As someone living in one of these places, I strongly disagree. Yes, it started natural. But then a massive media campaign was started, and there is evidence that early on there was money (and people) flowing to nurture the revolution.

I hardly doubt that the US is clean of this.


I don't disagree, but I am not claiming that these revolutions have been initiated by the West, but that they have been backed (and as you point, often decisively) by the West.


The most anti-communist populations are the populations that have been ruled by communism (Eastern Europe).

I don't think that's true. The most anti-communist population in the world is by far in the US. I guess the close second are the Islamist, thanks to US policies to use Islam against Communism.

I live in Turkey and this picture is very clear. Islamist rule my country and the number one reason is that this is US policy. They systematically gain power after an US-backed coup in 1980. That coup killed the left-wing and secular right movements. Only winner was the Islamists, a minor radical movement at that moment. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980_Turkish_coup_d%27%C3%A9ta...

So, yes, western interventions play a big role here. When they try to fight one enemy, they create other monsters.


Agree. In post-USSR countries communism is still very popular.


I second this. US backing religious and right wing groups caused the deaths of half a million people in Indonesia, if not more. The stronger the empire, the more evil it must be to maintain itself (as much as we delude ourselves by viewing it from perspectives of higher productivity and comparative advantage).

Not to say that this is only applicable to US. France at the height of its power committed similar things in Algiers (destroyed a third of population). France, Russia and Germany divided up Poland, later on Germany sent her jews to death camps outright.


It's been a while since a stray comment on the internet has made me reconsider so many things that I was previously convinced of.

Thanks for this.


The problem with not intervening is that it doesn't work unless every other actor in the region agrees not to intervene as well. Russia likes Assad because Syria gives them influence in the region. They're going to give the Syrian army aid and resources whether the US is involved or not. The US got involved in this ethnic conflict in part because they generally don't want Russia to gain any more influence in any part of the world. So they try to give equal amounts of aid and resources to the Syrian opposition. One side makes a move, the other side makes a counter move.

Whether or not you agree with those actions, or the whole system, is a matter of politics. I'm not condoning anything, just trying to explain the potential reasoning behind the decisions. I do hope that radical islamism runs its course in the same way that communism did. One big complication is that there are a lot more foreign powers involved in the Middle East than there were in the Soviet Union. It could be harder for them to find their own way while being manipulated by so many other hands.


"Toute nation a le gouvernement qu'elle mérite."

– Joseph de Maistre

Seen from a systemic perspective one could argue that "every country gets the government they deserve" and by meddling with that "order" we created even more chaos.

Meddling with systems is something we are pretty confident about unfortunately (think about the recent findings regarding Greenland sweet water accelerating global warming).

The multitude of motivations behind our actions ultimately don't matter, what matters is the root cause - believing that we can or should "meddle" in the first place.

We notoriously think we understand but as "ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge" we usually suffer from collective Dunning-Kruger effects all the time.


And captain hindsight strikes again.

Imagine that right now, on some point of the globe, there's a popular rebellion against a dictator who is, without a shadow of a doubt, suppresses the people, kills his political opponents, and tries to indimidate other countries of the region with his military machine.

Hell, just imagine it in North Korea (but forget about the big China brother for a second, to make this situation a more simple example).

Would you honestly tell that you support the dictator in this conflict, because otherwise the whole situation will turn into a bloody civil war, and he's the only hope for stability? That when those western-looking, english-speaking, democracy-loving rebels are gassed and killed, western states should not intervene?

Well, may be you are — but then any website with political hivemind similar to HN will downvote you to the oblivion.

---

You also may be forgetting one other factor at work in the Middle East — Russia. While it's not USSR kind of superpower it once was, it still has deep ties with arab world that it nurtured for the whole second half of twentieth century. It had established good relationship with many authoritarian regimes and terror groups in the region: Khomeini, Hezbolla, Assad and Hamas. And dichotomy of "chaos vs dictators" is exactly what Russia wants for Middle East: dictators are easy to deal with, they're much more ineffective as oil producers, and, of course, the whole dilemma greatly legitimizes Russia's own political system as well.


I am not extremely familiar with North Korea but my understanding is that there would be an obvious and peaceful political solution if we overthrow the current regime. The country would reunite with South Korea, a bit like East and West Germany.

What we are dealing with in the middle-east are dictatorships that keep a lead on ethnic tensions, very much like in Yugoslavia. I would expect that any diplomat would have predicted tensions between Sunni and Shia in Iraq. Exactly like similar tensions exist in Saudi Arabia and will most likely blow up if the regime becomes unstable.


> obvious and peaceful political solution if we overthrow the current regime

Well, there's just one small issue: people. Have you met them? Do you honestly think that inhabitants of North in South Korea actually want to live together as one country? That southerners want their first-world economy to support the shit-poor north for several decades? That northerners want all their lifestyle and ideals that they have been taught from the crib, destroyed? That these people are ready to trust each other in general? Hell, even northerners who defect and run to the South encounter a lot of hostility — can you imagine what the shitstorm happen when millions of them will cross the border in search of better life?


And to alleviate and diminish these tensions the US civil administrator in Iraq decided the best way forward was to fire 800 000 military (mostly sunni) men and remove their only lively hood. Can't see anything going wrong with that move.


How about just not supporting the Muhajedin/IS/faction of the day?


Well, that's the thing — how the fuck do you know what western-looking, english-speaking, democracy-loving rebels turn out to be jihadist or nationalist when you give them enough power? You don't.

In the 1900s, Russian left wingers were educated, nuanced people who were trying to lead the country to a brighter future. 20 years later, Russian left wing consisted of ruthless fighters who burned down entire villages, performed brutal performed mass executions of thousands and built the biggest terror machine world have ever seen. These were, for the most part, the same exact people.


> These were, for the most part, the same exact people

That's a drastic oversimplification. The majority of the Russian Left was made up of SR (which later split, but for the sake of it they can be treated as one group), and the Mensheviks. The Bolsheviks split the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (with the other part being the Mensheviks) roughly down the middle, but the moderates outnumbered them substantally.

Already shortly after their coup (the czar was arrested in the spring; the interim government was SR led from the summer; in November the Bolsheviks decisively lost the election to the the Constituent Assembly, and that's when they struck - there was no revolution, but a coup d'etat against a more moderate socialist government that had the support of the people), the Bolsheviks started getting rid of the parts of the Russian Left that had opposed them, and soon groups were actively fighting them in the civil war, while others were fighting to stay out of prisons or to avoid being killed, and some forged uneasy, temporary alliances in the hope of survival. Soon their parties were illegal. As Stalin gained control, the purges intensified, including purging the Bolshevik party itself.

The Russian left changed because the moderates (including communists/marxists) were imprisoned or murdered for opposing the Bolsheviks, until there were hardly any left.

The Bolsheviks, or at least their leadership, largely remained the same people, but in 1900, and all the way to at least 1917, they were by far outnumbered on the Russian left by their future victims.


Thanks!

That was my entire point — people who are saying that US was funding future Al Quaeda in the 80s are just as wrong in the nuance but are just as right in general. Bolsheviks were the logical conclusion of radicalization of the left. Revolutions devour their own children, after all; just like Mensheviks, just like the _real_ democracy-loving anti-Assad protesters. All of them either die, or become the radicalised, grotesque and horrible plagiat of the original.


Ah, you mean those rebels also supported by democracy loving pakistani general Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. Who started a "policy of aggressive islamization". Indeed, "who the fuck" could have seen those chickens coming home to roost.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Cyclone


Complete and pure nonsense.I don't have time to respond for all of that(you can read my comment in bottom).

But FWIW US didn't start intervene in middle East policy in 2001. They have half century of destroying in any imaginable way.

BTW the way you are dividing ethics show you don't have clue what you are taking about.for example Kurds vs Alawites? Really ? These are allies most of the time.

And another thing you completely missed is the idea of West intervention in middle East weakened liberal politician position in middle East.by intervening you are basically proving yes.liberals are our puppets.

And I don't know you have read or watched any documentary (beside midia establishment fantasies).fightig against West and taking "revenge of our people" is best propaganda for Isis in recruitment process.

(By people they refer to who have died in iraq, afghanistan invasion, or when US did support dictators which some of them brutally tortured people/journalist)

Welcome to real world , and turn off your CNN


Blaming the West for all their problems has become a kind of a reflex in the middle east, but the west didn't create this ethnic hatred, and the west didn't create islamism (if a finger had to be pointed at anyone it should rather be Saudi Arabia, though it's a bit like blaming Germany for the Gulag and the Cultural Revolution because Marx was German).


"the west didn't create this ethnic hatred"

Look at the border between France and Spain, there are big mountains there. Now look at the border between Egypt and Libya, a straight line in the middle of nowhere. How is that possible?

"if a finger had to be pointed at anyone it should rather be Saudi Arabia,"

Who is the best ally and supported of the Saudi royalty? One of the more backwards regimes in the world.

What about Iraq?

What about Iran? from wikipedia: "In 1951, Mohammad Mosaddegh was elected as the prime minister. He became enormously popular in Iran, after he nationalized Iran's petroleum industry and oil reserves. He was deposed in the 1953 Iranian coup d'état, an Anglo-American covert operation that marked the first time the US had overthrown a foreign government during the Cold War"

Not accepting how the west have messed in the area has become a kind of a reflex.


Actually they did.no matter how much you deny it. But the truth is they did , as people like Noam Chomsky tries to tell truth.but people in western society are mind washed.

USA and West political intervention in middle East created mojaheddin at first place dude.because they thought they need these guys against Soviet.no one in that time cared about people of middle east, when they was creating these monsters.do you know any history? Mujahedeen was small group of people in caves.when USA made them hero's.

You can look at times when people in middle East lived together peacefully for hundreds of years.Jew , Christian, Muslims and go on. And remember this was time when slavery and lynching was cool thing to do in your society.

P.s. I am not saying middle Eastern people are better or worse. This is complete nonsense. People are homo-seipans and all of us are animals. There is no bad or good. But they will become bad when you make their lives miserable. When there is no education.


Maybe you are right. Maybe not. Stating something as "truth" will not make it so in my mind. Show me the sources, show me the arguments. Show everybody that you know why you state it as truth.

Only because Chomsky says so is like saying: Jesus said so.

I'd like to follow the logical arguments myself.

btw.: I do think, that the western interventions, the capitalistic land-grabbing, the weapons trade, the support for partisan groups, because of mutual political enemies and so on are (at least) some of the reasons this powder keg keeps exploding.

Non the less are the underlying ethnicities, animosities that go back generations and different believe systems (like sunnites and shiites) at least as much to blame.

Only doing finger pointing in the direction of the big bad wolf called US of A is too easy, too simplistic (imho) and will not lead to a better understanding.

I do not believe in such a simplistic logic when it comes to world politics. Most of the time there is a multitude of influencing factors at play. These have o be understood like in a multiple regression analysis (just a metaphor).


I feel like the burden of proof is definitely on the people suggesting that this was inevitable.

The west, lead by the US, has been destabalizing the middle east since the 1940's in order to pillage their natural resources and it continues to this day. This is their clear motive, stated in writing.

Here [1] is an FOIA'd email to Hillary's private server from a French aide where they are found casually talking about overthrowing Gadaffi in order to look after their interests in global oil markets, regional monetary dominance, and to make their military look good for the sake of internal political posturing. This email changed the way I saw the world so much.

I used to hear people say this sort of thing and think, "Well, it's the internet. Lots of crazy people out there. I guess what they're saying is plausable, but I don't believe that our government is making such a conscious, concerted effort." But it's hard to look at an email like that, served from a .gov domain, and think that the cheap oil we get from destabalizing this region is just a pleasant side-effect of pursuing an honest humanitarian goal.

And this isn't something new. It started with the Red Line Agreement in the 20's, where we entitled ourself to middle eastern oil. This became another agreement and into another, but the point is that we wanted their oil, and their political climate was in turmoil. All it takes is one nationalist movement to shut down a pipeline and our economy goes to hell.

Turns out there's a very simple solution: throw muscle at it. Don't risk someone unfriendly getting into power by reducing power all-together through destabalization and make sure that those who are in charge are effectively puppets.

[1]: They actually retroactively took this email off foia.state.gov, so a cached version will have to do... : http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/...


So you are suggesting that when sunni extremists kill 50 people with a bomb in a shia market in Iraq, it is because of Western oil contracts?


Indirectly, but yes, absolutely.

This region has been robbed of its ability to develop. The governments are dysfunctional by design. Is it any surprise that the people would start to identify more with their church than their government? It's local. It has set values and rules.

I'm not saying this accounts for centuries-old conflicts. But Sunni and Shia get along without killing each other in other parts of the world-- what's different about the middle east?


    > But Sunni and Shia get along without killing each other in other
    > parts of the world-- what's different about the middle east?
I happily admit my ignorence on this issue, but after some quick searching I couldn't find any demographic maps of Sunni/Shia populations that didn't exactly overlap with the current conflict-areas between Sunni/Shia in the Middle-East:

http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00maplinks/over... http://thegulfblog.com/tag/sunni-shia-middle-east-map/

I.e. where else in the world is there a mixed Sunni/Shia population? Nowhere? Isn't that what's different about the Middle-East in this regard?


Muslims are only about 20% of the world's population, and only about 10% of that are Shia. So it's unrealistic to expect to find places where there's an even split.

With that being said, 15-20% of the Shia Muslims in the world live in the Americas, believe it or not. [1] Granted, all the Muslim sects together make up a minuscule portion of the population of the Americas, so it's reasonable to argue that this isn't a fair comparison.

The difference in my eyes is that Muslims in the Americas have governments they can depend on for arbitration.

[1]: http://shianumbers.com/shias-in-americas.html?m


You're asserting that US interference in the Middle-East has caused present Sunni-Shia conflict, which may well be correct. But I think your supporting point of "it doesn't happen in other parts of the world" is weak.

Of course they aren't tracking down and killing each other in the US, because they're both minority groups and probably rarely even run into each other.

That doesn't say anything about whether they would be doing so if they were both in the majority and their sectarian conflicts were the dominant aspect in society.

    > The difference in my eyes is that Muslims in the Americas have
    > governments they can depend on for arbitration.
So if the governments in the Americas collapsed do you think the Sunnis and Shias there would go right back to systematically killing each other? Could you e.g. say the same thing about the Amish and the Mormons? Or is there a pre-existing divede between these people that really has nothing to do with external factors?

You can't both say that Sunni & Shia conflict happens in certain areas of the world because of US foreign policy, and also suggest that Sunni & Shia conflicts would arise between Muslims living in the US who aren't subject to US foreign policy.


Actually your argument (about Chomsky) is seriously ridiculous.

When I reference a person like Chomsky or any other scientist (which is well respected scientist) I am not referencing to his character.I am referring to material and position which he takes (for example in his books, which is based on logical inferring, or factual evidence)

I don't think any good will come out of this discussion because you keep nitpicking.But for further information you can read Chomsky's,Finkelstein's and serius scientifics book.

>I do not believe in such a simplistic logic when it comes to world politics. Most of the time there is a multitude of influencing factors at play. These have o be understood like in a multiple regression analysis (just a metaphor).

I 100% agree with this part.but I don't agree with make matters complicated. This is fact and simple. USA did support Mujahedin for many years. And go on.

careful I am not saying USA is responsible for all things in middle East.but they are major part in this fucking mess they created. And after they left middle East we can start to talk (without any military intervention from outside) and push for reform in middle east.And I would personally beg/appreciate for providing cultural material.( I don't know. Internet. TV shows. Thing like this , which shows people how people live in West)


You can and should argue Chomsky's positions, writing ideas and such. In my opinion you must do this, else no progress is possible. That said - I did read him, I have a very high degree of respect for his ideas. I think nobody, esp. in the social "sciences" should become an "orthodoxy" (lacking a better word here).

Me being "seriously ridiculous"? Maybe - but I see Chomsky (and others) being thrown around as a killer phrase more and more. Not to further any discussion, but to end it with a final bang.

So no, I will not refrain from comparing these argumentative structures to religious arguing like it happened in the medieval times during different fractions of "the faith" for example. Great thinkers were back then also used as pars pro toto of their writings. And were also used as "arguments" - so yeah, I (on purpose) showed the flaws in your argument.

This last part by the way is just me interpreting your own argument against you. Probably totally misrepresenting you in the process and misunderstanding you as well. As you by the way did with my argumentation.

I totally agree with your view, that western intervention in the middle east did make matters way worse on the whole. I do strongly believe that we should reign them in (will not happen) and should not hail them as the source of freedom and democracy in the world (will also not happen). I am cynical and I do believe that the western (so called) democracies will be further doing their thing and we, the western people will further be supporting these systems without knowing most of what happens in the dark and unknown to us.

I do not agree with you calling me ridiculous though. As I strongly believe every "well respected" scientist has to have his writings and thinking strongly challenged for progress.


Almost no one else on this thread cited sources. Whereas 0xFFC mentioned excellent sources anyone can check out to improve their knowledge. (Like for any other field.) The poster said, "I don't have time to respond for all of that." We're all busy, we don't have to spoon-feed each other arguments amply covered by leading dissident scholars.

> the big bad wolf called US of A

The whole zombie genre (probably anything post-apocalyptic) is based on the premise that the US would immediately collapse into reactionary, extremist militant gangs often out to impose a new state.

What other country goes to the other end of the world and topples governments? Does China drop bombs on US militants? Set up military bases in Canada? Of course the US gov't is the global hegemon, like the big mafia boss, regardless of what propagandized inhabitants think.


Saudi Arabia spends billions promoting Wahhabism abroad so it's a bit more than blaming Germany for Marx because he was born there.


Yes but my point is that I hold responsible for their actions the people who commit these actions more than those who inspired these actions.


Systemic problems require root cause analysis.

It's like firing a dev who introduced a bug. Sure you can fire him, but you haven't fixed the problem. Fix the build.


While the US is often thought to be an easy scapegoat, there is a long history of bad strategic interventions that go back to a century. It's not some remote relationship - the very recent US interventions in the region have brought disastrous results, in both syria and libya, opening roads to the free reign of radical islamists. What's worse, the US public now is backing for their next election the war-hungry person that backed these kinds of interventions (Hillary) and an ignorant whose response to crisis is to hatred against the people deposed by those interventions.


> And remember this was time when slavery and lynching was cool thing to do in your society.

...and is all the rage in the Middle East today.


How about killing Australian native people like kangaroo? Do know history? When they arrived to the land which we call today Australia they killed native people like kangaroo.

It is a little bit disgusting, the same people who created this fuckig mess, the same people who supported brutal dictators, the same people who created Mujahedeen at first place , now came and claims ,

"Oops , we didn't mean to create this mess.maybe some thing wrong in your people's gene?"

No people are people.They do bad thing when there is no education , when there is no economy.when there is no future. When you humilate their existence.

Do you wanna see bad thing? Take trip, and go to one of trumps rally , when they literally yell at black people: " go to your fucking continent, what the fuck are you doing in my country? "


Why reply at all, if you do not have the time? This is just no civilized behavior to throw unsubstantiated critique and see what sticks.

And in the end you are the one looking bad and not having reached any goal. If you can't win with arguments, but try to do it with statements and ad hominem attacks you will probably never convince anyone here.


Your point are completely valid. But I refered to a comment in bottom of the page.T he reason I didn't want to explain further is because it is same Western media propaganda, which is disgusting.


> As for ethnic conflicts, there are no good solutions. If two populations hate each others, grand speeches at the UN headquarters in NYC will not change anything. I'd be incline to think we should stay away from ethnic conflicts.

The big positive example here is how the French and German `Erbfeindschaft' seems to be over. But perhaps that was never an ethnic conflict?

Does anyone have a nice lists of resolved past ethnic conflicts? That might be instructive.


Two World Wars, millions of deaths and the subjugation by conquering powers of one of participants isn't a process we really want to repeat to solve other conflict zones.

The process whereby nations are built from multiple ethnic groups, and then nationalism and international tension is replaced by international co-operation seems to me to be one that we can't say reaches a stable state. The Cold War hasn't been over for that long, the European financial crisis has revealed some pretty ugly attitudes between various European polities.

Perhaps the democratic peace thesis is right, however it is also possible that France and Germany kick off again in our lifetime.


Catholic vs protestants (sunni vs chia is as much religious as ethnic)


I hope that is is a past problem but it still simmers away in the background in some parts of the world.


Catholic vs protestant troubles in Northern Ireland has a large ethnic part to it.


Yes. But catholic vs protestant in eg Germany has been solved for quite some time now. (The last major war of religion there was from 1618-1638.)


    The last major war of religion there was from 1618-1638
And it was one of the most destructive in European pre-WW1 history, essentially crippling Germany's economy for centuries. (Also the Thirty Years' War lasted until 1648)


The destruction of the town I grew up in during that war was only really surpassed in German history during WWII. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sack_of_Magdeburg

The interesting 1632 series of books is set just after the sack.

(Thanks for catching the typo.)


Which did not have such a large ethnic part to it, as the conflict in Ireland has.


> it's an ideology which time has come

Islamism is not new to the region

> the rise of Islamism is a global phenomenon

Is it? I have yet to see an islamist political party in the west.


Because muslim populations are a minority, and islamism only attracts a fraction of that minority. Minorities usually don't have a political party. But the recent terrorist attacks and the large number of european fighters in ISIS makes the rise of Islamism in the West only too obvious. And keeping in mind that violent partisans are usually a fraction of the sympathisers, like violent marxists activists in the 70s were only a fraction of communists sympathisers.


Islamism as you call it is two different but similar flavors of political Islam; Wahhabism (think Saudi Arabia) and Qutbism (Muslim Brotherhood). Neither are brand new to the region, but both are around 100 years old.

While the philosophies are around 100 years old, this doesn't mean the Middle East has embraced those philosophies for the last 100 years or that it does today.

There has been a measurable trend to right-wing conservatism and religious affiliation in the Middle East which can be seen not only in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, but also in Israeli society, and in Lebanon. This shift has happened over the last twenty years or so.


All that complication is entirely nonsensical and sponsored/create by foreign powers. It didn't exist for hundreds of years and only materialized because of intervention.

The US is allies with Saudi Arabia and Israel, and it's in their interest that no significant power forms in there.


This war is a tragedy and an outrage, and its devastation of our World Heritage should make us all ashamed.

While politics is often seen as off-topic, this has applicable lessons to those of us building distributed systems.

1. Any large enough system will eventually generate exceedingly surprising side-effects.

2. Hot-patching routing of resources in response to run-time surprises (backpressure, etc) is essential for correction of error.

3. Monitoring of resource allocation can help raise awareness and prevent problems before they get big enough to be a national newspaper headline.

Very few of us will work on systems that impact human life (manned space travel, driverless cars, etc) and it is a privilege to not have a day job building systems that have lethal failure modes.


> politics is often seen as off-topic

That attitude is a huge problem. Everything is political, because politics is simply the way we solve problems, negotiate details, and make decisions in a society.

> lethal failure modes

Non-lethal failure modes can still be just as much of a problem, and small problems are still problems.

> Very few of us will work on systems that impact human life

Everybody that makes a product is impacting human life. You may not be making something with immediately obvious lethal failure modes, but it still has an impact. At ever step in the building process decisions are made that affect people. Many of these are probably small and inconsequential, but prediction is hard and sometimes supposedly-trivial things have large, widespread effects.

Hiding from politics and claiming that something is "apolitical" cedes the decisions to others, and technology is rapidly magnifying the impact even trivial things can have. So please, consider the surrounding politics before working on something, and at least try to consider the greater context of how people will be affected - both good and bad ways - by the work you do.

Why? Because there is "no neutral ground, in a burning world"[1].

--

[1] Which is the title of Eleanor Saitta and Quinn Norton's 30C3 talk[2], which explains these ideas better than I can.

[2] https://media.ccc.de/v/30C3_-_5491_-_en_-_saal_1_-_201312272... http://opentranscripts.org/transcript/no-neutral-ground-burn...


Speaking of distributed systems, are there any good articles that go over some of the common problems that normally occur as your infrastructure grows?


This isn't quite true. The Pentagon's only supporting SDF fighters from the cantons of Jazera and Kobane. These guys were from Afrin, which is separated from the other two cantons by a pretty big strip of IS-controlled territory.

http://warontherocks.com/2016/03/are-cia-backed-syrian-rebel...


This makes some amount of sense under a model of the US government as a collection of usually-feuding groups that have different constituencies and control different levers of power, often exporting their internal conflicts overseas.

http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2007/08/secret-...

(The phrases to look at are "red empire" and "blue empire").


if you think that predisposed ideologies are conflicting cia and state department sponsorships categories, i have a militia in syria to sell you


I am from middle east and I am atheist (because so many people will accuse me of being Muslim).I want to touch on topic which is a little bit off topic. But for people who wants to see big picture it is essential.

I can only say one thing to your politician's : Get the fuck out of middle East.

There is one way to change middle East and it is to change culture by improving your own society.

When I read news about USA domestic issuse my mind blows up, how these fuckers (politicians) can bring us democracy?when they don't even care about their own people. Looks what's going on in Flint Michigan.

At the otherhand when people go and see what is going on in countries like Norway/Finland(which didn't invade any country in middle East in recent years.didn't intervene and overthrow government in middle East) then they really start to think there is something wrong about us culturally (middle East) and we should start to change , and bring to ourselves what these country's have already, like democracy, freedom of speech.(this is when real change start to happen, not when some moron like bush spend billions and billions without achieving single goal and for just making enemy's)

At the other hand by USA presense in middle East they (usa)are basically undermine our (liberal people in middle East) argument for common people in middle East.Believe it or not hardliners will say we are traitor and West's puppets, and believe me people believe it when West's does actually occupy or intervene in their country politics.

I can't understand, what is hard to get? Get the fuck out of middle East.

Overthrowing Mossadegh(democratically elected).

Backing Saudi Arabia (one of the worst human rights record, maybe a little bit better than ISIS itself) for many years.

Backing Egyptian dictator (mobarak) for many years.

Backing Saddam against Iran , while Saddam did use chemical weapon.

Backing mujahedeen (basically Tliban) against Soviet Union.

And list goes on.

You cannot keep snake in your backyard and expect them to only bite your neighbor.

honestly asking ? What the fuck do you want from us?


Or perhaps the west could limit itself to no violent spending. Just think if instead of blowing $1.1 trillion on the Iraq war they'd spent it on humanitarian aid, education and supporting the more peaceful and human rights promoting groups.

It also has the advantage you don't have to figure too accurately who the good and bad guys are. In Syria there are loads of warring factions, all of which have been involved in atrocities so it becomes tricky knowing which to shoot hence the problems mentioned in the article.


Exactly.imagine what could have been achievable with internet.when I say internet, I mean free flow of information. Imagine more projects like Tor for people in suadi Arabia and Iran.imagine providing them more place like coursera/udacity.

Imagine attacking their culture with cultral war.It would have been paradise for me at least. I live in middle east, I can see how internet make people to change their mind.

It is beyond words I can explain.yes it would have take more time.you are not going to change a 80 million(for example) population culture overnight.but it is doable and after overcoming the hurdle you have done something great for humanity.one of the most achievement in human history maybe.when you culturally eliminating a religion from a area and replacing it with better culture.


The US is in the middle east because of oil and Israel. Both reasons. If you think it's just oil, the ADL and AIPAC are going to get mad at you for not giving them credit where it's due. And on top of that, now it seems like liberals are bored with their success at home, and want a proxy war with Russia.

The US will leave you alone when liberals decide that spreading liberal values isn't worth a war with Russia, and that supporting Israel isn't a liberal cause, and when conservatives realize that the oil isn't worth it, and that Israel is a horrible "ally".


Abdus Salam went around in the early 80s hat in hand ( I think UNESCO auspices) to Middle Eastern countries to found new universities. They threw like half a million at him and told him to pound sand. When everything settles down I would at least hope this new generation of leaders decides to invest something worth a damn in higher education. (And no, nothing I've heard about KAUST gives me any hope that that's a bellwether at present)


I can follow lots of your arguments. And I do believe that a lot of interventions does in the end lead to disaster.

That one point of view. What would have happened on the other hand, if some countries did not intervene in Bosnia? Could we have watched one ethnic group genociding another? Should we have stood by the sidelines doing nothing?

I have no final opinion on my last point, as I as pacifist do not believe in military interventions at all. On the other hand I am a realist and have to calculate the possible costs for every alternative. And in some cases the costs of inaction might outweigh the cost intervention.

As said not really sure myself, still evaluating this thought.

And I also try to look at the reasons behind these actions. Why did some countries (US and others) do what they did, what was to gain, what to loose. What are the economic implications - and so on.


>What would have happened on the other hand, if some countries did not intervene in Bosnia?

Bosnian Serbs having their own country? Unfortunately for them Bosnia is ally with Turkey, a NATO member. So the intervention was on behalf of Bosnia. Nobody cares though when it is allies who commit the same atrocities - like Turkey does to Kurds and what Saudi Arabia does today in Yemen (for fun consider a story - "rebels oust government, and a neighbor supporting the ousted government intervenes military" - in the last 2 years that happened in Ukraine/Russia and Yemen/Saudi Arabia - and compare which side Western countries have supported :).


Exactly.

Side note, https://theintercept.com/

One of the best sources for news.I have such respect for Greenwald, I would work for the guy for free. I think in this climate ,Greenwald and people like him are true hero's.


I know what you mean. I am for once undecided on this issue and did not want to pull a Godwin. Therefore trying to find a more recent example and did this in Bosnia. The German part of that intervention by the way was against our constitution, but did happen non the less (it being a war like effort, without UN mandate is not allowed and explicitly forbidden by our constitution - but who cares as no consequences for the politicians did happen).

I see hefty reasons to be against interventions and having studied history, I also see some cases where interventions might be, in the long run, for the greater good. But that can be decided in hindsight and I find it hard (to impossible) to do so smack in the middle of such a situation.

We do not have lots of information and we have to make decisions under massiv uncertainty. If politicians then have multiple voices telling them this or that viewpoint (with their own hidden agendas) - who of us would be any better in deciding rationally? And I do mean the rational part of the decision, that cold hard rationality, that might not look good in the press, but is necessary? To make a decision is mostly easy. To do it right is hard (or do it based on ideology - also quite easy imho).

So Bosnian Serbs having their own country? Did I get something wrong while studying history or didn't the Bosnien Serbs for the most part want to stay with Serbia? And weren't it the Bosniaks who pushed for a separate state?

Weren't the Bosniaks the ones who did (in a 1990 questionnaire) identify mostly as a non religious ethnic group, but were traditionally sorted into the "Muslim" category since the Ottoman Empire (thereby gaining support during the war by muslim countries).

Weren't it for the Serbs who did most (around three quarters) of the war crimes and atrocities (not that the other quarter wasn't as bad).

So yeah - not intervening here might just have perpetuated a situation. It also might have made it worse. But that's easy to discuss in hindsight. Having only partial information it might not be that easy to decide in the given situation. And I am willing to give the politicians back then some slack for deciding in uncertainty.

And no, that is no "get out of jail" card or anything. It is just me trying to have a rational view based in reality, while trying to build a more final view on these questions.

Not saying, that the current interventions are anything good at all or not driven by purely economic interests or interests in securing access to natural resources or such.


The assumption that those interventions, including Bosnia, have something to do with avoiding genocide is beyond naive.

Just two easy copy-paste from Wikipedia:

"Bosnia conflict took place between 1992 and 1995,[..] 100,000 people were killed during the war."

"During the approximate 100-day period from April 7 to mid-July 1994, an estimated 500,000–1,000,000 Rwandans were killed"


Thanks for the ad hominem and for pasting wikipedia.

I was not saying, that this is/was the only reason for these interventions. By the way I hope I am not that "naive" to believe in easy answers in a complex world.

Not doing so and realizing easy answers being thrown around was the reason I did comment in the first place. Do you really believe the world is cut into black and white that straight?

I do not. I am far to cynical for that. For example we in the west did not hear that much of Rwanda during that time. There was no press storm I can remember (compared to the situation in Bosnia during the same time). There was no public outcry so no politician felt that pressure - maybe. Just maybe that was one reason.

If people believe interventions happen because (for example) of lobbying interests of the military complex Rwanda would have been a perfect PR opportunity to sell some more ammunition and to have western countries engage in a yearlong conflict. That not happening might be oversight within these lobby groups or it might show, that this way of thinking does (at least not always) not work that easily.

So please - let's be civil. Sheathe your "ad hominem"-sword and let's "fight" with solid arguments.


I have read again both, your initial entry and my answer to it, and I stand for the content of my post.

I don't think I have misrepresent your comment. Obviously I have misrepresented your opinions but I think, after reviewing your initial post, that it's hardly my fault.

No idea what is the problem with pasting from wikipedia for making a point.

I agree that the use of "beyond naive" was not appropriate and I want excuse myself for it. I would try to avoid this kind of thing in my comments in the future.


What are the particular problems in Norway, Finland and Flint, Michigan you are referring to?


Parent was praising Norway and Finland for their focus on leveling up their culture and economy. No problems there.

As for Flint, Michigan... A quick google will give you a lot of info, but the gist of it is that they have had lead in their water for over two years and it's beyond toxic. Their government has failed them.


I think he was (also) saying Muslims are misbehaving in Norway and Finland, and it can't be blamed on those countries attacking the Middle East, so people (rightly or wrongly) believe there is something wrong with Muslims/people in the Middle East culturally.


No. JeffreyKaine explained 100% what I meant.


Ah, okay. My mistake.


I can see that now - he seems to have edited his comment a few times.


The guy obviously does not speak English as a primary language, so give him a break.

I've seen less intelligible writing from Americans who only speak English.


>Instead when people go and see what is going on in countries like Norway/Finland then they really start to think there is something wrong about us culturally (middle East) and we should start to change.

it doesn't always work this way. Russia ventured out this way in 199x and crawled back scared (in particular by the number and size of things what are wrong with Russians individually and at a whole society level) into the old cage. It is very hard to overcome mentality developed over centuries.


I don't know about Russia , but for religious ignorance, this is like cure.

Russia and middle East are two different story.

I am in middle East and I can see , there is only one way to solve this problem (radicalism). and it must solved by middle East people themselves. whether you like it or not, . whether you spend 200 years from now bombing.

This is not going to be solved. Yes. Sad news but truth.

BTW mentality for middle East people started when your fucking government started overthrowing democratically elected government in middle East.


What are you talking about?

Russia was virtually a failed state in the 1990s, except for half-a-dozen pro-Western crooks who became instant billionaires stealing assets the Russian people had built and paid for, and who helped steal the 1996 election for their partner in crime, Yeltsin.

I'm no fan of Putin or his own kleptocratic cronies, but whether you like him or not, Russia seems to have become far stronger and more stable under him than under his drunken pro-Western predecessor.


Keyword "seems". by eliminating competition around him, Putin is building a power vacuum to happen when he is inevitably gone. The idea that dictator is needed to stabilize a corrupt society isn't completely wrong. But it requires that the dictator is actively growing a next generation of self-thinking competent leaders. Putin is a +60y ex-spy treating every self-thinker as a threat, instead surrounding himself with inept yes-men. That is paving the the post-putin russia to look a lot like Maduro's venezuela.


Putin complained a lot that he is tired of the hand control of everything. I do not think he does not understand root cause. He's mortal and he know it. We have time to form new powers despite some unsuccessful attempts.


> “It is an enormous challenge,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who described the clashes between U.S.-supported groups as “a fairly new phenomenon.”

> “It is part of the three-dimensional chess that is the Syrian battlefield,” he said.

Corrupt congressmen explaining the supreme unaccountability associated with this type of unofficial warfare as something too complex and mysterious for the average observer to comprehend should be classified as a radicalizer by the FBI.


Yeah that is a fairly standard PR technique. "We are dealing with something very new and very complex".


The only response by FBI will be angling to get their own team in the new Inter-Agency Syrian Proxy League. They're really pissed now; it's not fair that they never get the memo when fun evil shit like this is getting set up. Now CIA will have already bagged all the cool clubhouse locations, and FBI will be stuck with some lame faction like the Yazidis.

Seriously, though, be on the lookout for news of FBI missions to "investigate Syrian sources of domestic terror".


Syria really examplifies the terrible incoherent state of Western (American, secondly EU) foreign policy.

There is really a need for change; unfortunately it is a bit hard to see where that will be coming from at the moment.


The way I analogize the US interventions in the Middle East is to liken it to a gambler who keeps going back to the table for "one more hand", because his "luck is sure to turn this time."

Can anyone name a single US intervention in the Middle East that hasn't backfired on us in some way? Propping up the Shah of Iran backfired on us in the form of the Iranian Revolution. Propping up the Saudi regime led to a safe haven for militant Wahabi Islam. Our interventions in Iraq led first to a massacre of Kurds and Shia, and later to a civil war that was directly responsible for the creation of Islamic State. Our intervention in Libya led to another civil war that has turned a major oil producing country into essentially a failed state. Our intervention in Syria hasn't helped matters, and has only brought us into further confrontation with Russia, while simultaneously discrediting our ability to hold intransigent dictators to account for their crimes.

And yet we keep going back, to exert our "leadership".


The problem isn't Western diplomacy, but rather colonial interests. Too often does it oppress populations even when it doesn't immediately start conflicts. In any case, you might want to go farther back to the British and French fracturing much of the Arab world in the first place with shortsighted partitions (Palestine, Syria, etc.)


I agree that the British and French interventions had a large part to play in the creation of ethnically-divided, weakly governed states that were prone to either falling into civil war or being ruled by various brutal strongmen (or both!). But unlike the British and the French, the US doesn't have the same historical ties to the Middle East that conventional European powers do. We, unlike the Europeans, have much more of a choice as to whether to intervene. And this is why it perplexes me that the US chooses to intervene so often. In fact, we intervene more than the former colonial powers who used to rule that area in the first place. How does your "colonial interests" hypothesis address that fact?


Well, I suppose that the grandparent is suggesting is that the USA is now a kind of colonial power in the area. That explain also the need to intervene.


Yes, I was implying that colonialism is what explains European and now US involvement in the region, or really any region for that matter (see South America, India/Pakistan, China/Japan/South Korea). Being a colonial power requires maintaining colonies, which sometimes requires working against the best interests of the colonized, which induces instability in the colonies.


The interventions haven't at all backfired on the military industrial complex, it has in fact fired on all cylinders and you can tell they're craving the next one.


I'm not sure I agree with that assertion either. Frankly, the military industrial complex makes a lot more profit from selling weapons for conventional war than they do from selling weapons for unconventional guerilla wars. You don't need F-22s, F-35s, DDXs, Virginia-class submarines, etc. to blow up tents and pickup trucks in Syria and Yemen. You need them to fight against other sophisticated, first world conventional militaries.

If you look at what the military-industrial complex talks about when they're hyping their capabilities, it's all about China and Russia. Sure, they pay lip service to "asymmetric warfare", but their main focus has been on keeping the US military's capabilities ahead of other emerging conventional militaries, not fighting insurgencies. In fact, the most successful anti-insurgency tools, like the Predator drone and MRAP armored trucks have been created over the objections of the military industrial complex (who want to make more sophisticated, expensive weapons).


> Frankly, the military industrial complex makes a lot more profit from selling weapons for conventional war than they do from selling weapons for unconventional guerilla wars

I think they would be on the forefront of fanning the flames of war with China, if they thought the public had the stomach for it. Instead, they have to make do with the few smaller,unconventional wars, continuously. When was the last time the US of A was not engaged in combat somewhere in the world?

Surely, having your poorly trained 'moderate' rebels surrender their arms and munitions frequently is good for business. Now you get to resupply them (at American tax-payers expense), and indirectly supply arms to both sides of the conflict. It's almost genius - and barbaric.


> When was the last time the US of A was not engaged in combat somewhere in the world?

I want to guess December 6th 1941.


For better or worse a Trump presidency would almost certainly be a fundamental rewrite of the way the U.S. government functions in the world.


The truth is no one knows what Trump will actually do. Trump can say whatever he wants during its campaign it doesn't matter. No one knows what he will do if he ever gets elected. All people know is that he is a business man with a big ego, he isn't even a conservative at all, he is the pure product of the New York upper class culture.

Hillary on the other is as hawkish as they come, this was demonstrated through her emails. She is a neo-con.


Isn't "when it comes to foreign policy" about the only way to be a neocon as opposed to just conservative? That was my impression at least.


>Hillary on the other is as hawkish as they come, this was demonstrated through her emails. She is a neo-con.

Yep, and Democratic voters are happily voting for her over anti-war Bernie. This really says something about Democratic voters, doesn't it?


Plus Trump has a fascinating way to reduce his program to a few slogans he repeats over and over and lets everyone else interpret what he really means...


Trump seems keen to do a deal with Putin. We'd probably go back to US and Russian sponsored dictators.


Yes.

That may be true.

However; I do (still) find it unlikely that Trump will be the next president. And I am also not quite sure what his foreign policies will be.

Another big change may come from Britain's exit from the EU (also something I find unlikely). This will be the end of EU as it is today. And will probably lead to a more protectionist and less interventionalist foreign policy regime across the board.


> This will be the end of EU as it is today.

Amen.


The EU needs reform. However, historically Europe engaged in very nasty wars every few years. A fractured isolationist non-corporative set of European states could be very bad for all of us.


I am not sure if you realize the role of Euro in the rise of extremism in the EU.

The fact that the EU is ruled by political midgets played a najor role too.


Trump is a mystery (maybe that's the allure). Who is going to be his secretary of state?


Especially considering that most of the people grumbling about this now are going to obediently vote the Secretary of State on whose watch it happened into the Presidency in November. Nothing's going to change.


Hopefully not. There are 147 FBI agents working on her investigation.

I must say that the handling of her case has boosted my faith in the internal integrity of the US government.


"If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the USA. They don't care." --Nelson Mandela http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/mehdi-hasan/nelson-mandela-i...


Thats rich coming from Mandela, a terrorist


A terrorist is a freedom fighter who is not on your side;



When you trust George Friedman, and he should know better, then funding of both sides actually is a strategy not a mistake. People often think that there is moral involved in those decisions, but there isn't, not at all.


Imagine what our reaction would be if two parts of the Russian government had provided weapons to different groups, who immediately turned around and fought each other. Would we be calling them (the Russians) bumbling incompetents or talking about how it was part of their sly plan all along?


True. The desired outcome is to create massive instability there, massive loss of life, and to deal a crippling blow to a region that the US wishes to dominate from afar.


What would be the reason for such domination ? Is America really imperialist at its core ? do they wish for resource independence (again) by disrupting this region ? The Syrian war has ripples up to Europe core now. I'd be surprised if minds would keep on pushing a direction that could create a worldwide chaos.


> Is America really imperialist at its core ?

If you look at the history of the USA, from its original 13 states, which themselves were a product of imperialism, and at Manifest Destiny, I'm not sure how this is even a serious question.



Very "generous" of you. I know oil flows from there. I mean that's an old song that didn't work before. And people are also vocally trying to get away from oil based energy as much as possible (be it solar, wind, waves). Causing a proto WWIII for this ? .. Tell me more if you have data.


Trying but not succeeding. http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/global/images/us__en_us__oi...

The US economy hinges on sustaining the petrodollar system. http://ftmdaily.com/preparing-for-the-collapse-of-the-petrod...


> The US economy hinges on sustaining the petrodollar system

This is an incredibly uninformed view. Dollar hegemony rests on our being the sole trusted enforcer of the oceans' open navigation. That confers us, directly and indirectly as a large economy, economic advantages which in turn reinforce our military's ability to defend this position.

Petrodollar monetarism is no longer a dominating factor to our financial system. Relying on it as a forecasting model, for economic or geopolitical aims, will produce bad outputs.


The oil price has an enormous effect upon world economies.


I assume, you are reffering to this:

https://youtu.be/QeLu_yyz3tc

Chilling insight into foreign policy of a superpower (an euphemism for "empire"). Not that he says something new (if you've read Carroll Quigley), but still... it's a fresh proof from the founder of the "Shadow CIA".


> (an euphemism for "empire")

Lawrence Wilkerson, "The Travails of Empire"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckjY-FW7-dc


Friedman is a tool, and the email dumps exposed that. Better to read Kennan if you want insight into American imperialism.


Well, he is a tool. But, I think that those e-mails are just a "limited hangout": They are exposing just so much to let us think that there is not much to see anyway. Stratfor does "consulting" as well and those e-mail conversations are not exposed.

EDIT: It seem that, at least some, of the e-mails of the "consulting" branch are exposed.


Would you recommend a specific book?


His letters and telegrams on Korea from the 1950s as well as his late in life writings. I'm not sure if there's a book.


True, it's the most explicit reference I know of.


They just want perpetual conflict. Because perpetual conflict means perpetual war, and perpetual war means cash supply for the military industrial complex.


Sad thing is this military industrial complex does control media establishment today.so most of the people don't have any clue whats going on in the world and think about USA as savior of humanity:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8va9vLap2JI

Makes me crazy.do people actually watch fox? Apparently they do. And here we are.


I have problems believing that narrative. I think that it's too simplistic to forget strategic goals.

For instance, perpetual conflict also means that no strong power can appear in the area.


Before WW1, that was the Ottoman empire. The arab provinces of the empire were unhappy, and contacted the entente. The agreed to revolt against the turks in exchange for control over all that area. The arabs fought against the turks, with the help of the entente, however as soon as the war ended, the entente revealed their actual plan: the sykes-picot agreement. Basically they got backstabbed.

In this agreement they would divide the area, give it new names, put it under foreign control. Since then the area is a constant mess. By design.

Then every other year they finance some rebel group or army here and there so there's never peace.


Can't help but be reminded of this scene in Woody Allen's Bananas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2q-NL3R8wm0


This reads like out of one of Hideo Kojima's computer games, war as a "business model"?

"War has changed. It's no longer about nations, ideologies, or ethnicity.

It's an endless series of proxy battles fought by mercenaries and machines. War - and its consumption of life - has become a well-oiled machine. War has changed. ID-tagged soldiers carry ID-tagged weapons, use ID-tagged gear. Nanomachines inside their bodies enhance and regulate their abilities. Genetic control. Information control. Emotion control. Battlefiled control. Everything is monitored and kept under control.

War has changed. The age of deterrence has become the age of control, all in the name of averting catastrophe from weapons of mass destruction. And he who controls the battlefield, controls history. War has changed. When the battlefield is under total control, war becomes routine."

– Solid Snake, Metal Gear Solid 4


Haven't the CIA (and DEA to some extent) always been operating in J. Edgar Hoover style crooked, hypocritical, mobster mode, under the belief that laws are for everyone else but them? They seem to follow long-term agendas with zero consideration for material, human, and societal losses.


Such an open evidence and yet no country accuses the US.


Destabilize another area, and you have a constant source of "world-news" to fearmonger with in order to take away the rights and enslave the population of your own country under the guise of democratic security.


"We like war because we are good at it" - Carlin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9MnJqhcZvw


Not something new. US backed Iraq in past, supplied emos, later fought against it.

US aided Mujahideen of Afghanistan in past later become Talibans. US aided Pakistan Army and Afghan government to fight against them.

Since it's Hackernews, the best analogy would be funding by VCs to different startups to compete with each other. Here CIA and Pentagon are VCs providing Emos to "Startups" to test their weapons for other wars.


Why do the EU and US dislike Assad? He has been saying for years that the Free Syrian Army are a bunch of crazies who Barbecue heads etc. There could well be IS-ers among them. Why are we (EU/US) not working with the Russians and Assad? Remember that those chemical weapons, after a lot of accusations were fired by the rebels, not by Assad.


> Why do the EU and US dislike Assad?

It's a long and old (decades!) story, per US embassy cables published by WikiLeaks. The news story:

http://www.activistpost.com/2015/09/julian-assange-reveals-a...

The US ambassador 2006 leaked cable itself:

https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/06DAMASCUS5399_a.html

So it's not by accident that Chelsea Manning was treated as he was for leaking these cables. And that Assange still can't leave the embassy in London.


Assad is a murderous butcher whose regime tortured children[1][2]. I think that's a fairly good reason to dislike him.

It's easy for us in the West to sit here and say that he was better that what came later. That certainly wasn't apparent at the time, and I think that alone is enough of a reason to be wary of him.

If that wasn't enough, there's his regime's history of attempting to build nuclear weapons with North Korean help as well as it's use of chemical weapons against civilians. These aren't the Iraqi-war mythical weapons of mass destruction, but real weapons that were either used (chemical) or destroyed.

It's possible that the rebels used chemical weapons too, but absolutely certain that Assad's forces did[3]. Notably, the Russians (who don't often fall for Western propaganda) were the ones who forced Assad to give up his chemical weapon stockpiles after they were used. The Russians did blame the rebels for one attack, and it is likely that may be correct. That doesn't remove Assad's guilt for the other attacks.

[1] https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/12/16/syria-stories-behind-pho...

[2] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-17/photos-show-deaths-of-...

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Use_of_chemical_weapons_in_the...


Because he's been killing his own people from the very start? Why do people so easily forget how this all started? It's only been 5 years.


This article sure expects much from the intelligence community. I don't think anyone can claim to have "control" over groups so diverse and distanced from themselves.


The only way to always win at war is to fight on both sides.


... or not to play.

By contrast, Sun Zi's The Art of War, being more a manual of practical statesmanship and less an ethical or philosophical sounding board, states that one should only go to war when in a position of strength and certain victory. Further, actual warfare is a last option: "the skillful leader subdues the enemy's troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field."


Divide and conquer.


Well, you gotta grow the next generation of terrorists, don't you?


The word now is you can spend for sponsorship. Both CIA and Pentagon rebels. For $100 you get a shoulder patch, for $25 they'll put a logo on a boot. For $50 you get your internet startup company name on a hat. Heard ad space is going quick.

America, are we the greatest or what. USA rocks. :-)




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