“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Stratfor update on Eastern Europe and the ongoing debacle in Iraq - A connection with Putin’s Russia?

Posted by Chris Becker in Global Macro
at 10:36am on June 13, 2014 | 

The energy nexus through the Middle East and the Crimean peninsula is under tremendous tension, with markets wobbling across the world.
First, it looks like Iraq is brewing a civil war, as US contractors start fleeing the violence – from the WP:
The crisis in Iraq has prompted U.S. contractors with personnel there to evacuate them from areas near Baghdad that are increasingly in the line of fire as insurgent fighters capture more territory with the apparent end goal of seizing the Iraqi capital.
The individuals are being “temporarily relocated by their companies due to security concerns in the area,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement Thursday evening. The individuals involved include U.S. citizens who are currently working under contract with Iraq’s central government in support of the Pentagon’s foreign weapons sales program.
In Ukraine, “separatists” have started rolling tanks across the border:
separatists drove three tanks across the Russian border into Ukraine, according to Ukrainian officials, and Russia’s top diplomat said the insurgents are ready for a pause in the conflict.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said the tanks and several armored personnel carriers entered eastern Ukraine through a checkpoint manned by rebels in the Luhansk region. He said government troops attacked the convoy when it reached the neighboring Donetsk region, destroying part of it. The claim could not be independently verified.


  1. Obama has ruled out putting veteran asshole boots on the ground and MOAB-carrying B-2s in the air flown by asshole veteran pilots. Maybe drones can stop the ISIS army with a few well-placed Hellfires.

  2. Yea, that has been so successful in the past the ISIS is about to devour two countries. But you might be right if we can find enough drones to launch a million imaginary Hellfires.

    Obama will deploy aircraft (he has no choice) and the Revolutionary Guard will provide the boots. Iran has already deployed troops to Baghdad and Tikrit. In Tikrit, the Guards have been quite successful.

  3. Among other things, ISIS captured Iraqi tanks. Those tanks have been transported, unopposed, into Syria. That might change the arithmetic on the ground. The surface to air missiles are going to be game changer in Syria and Iraq.

    With Baghdad calling in the Iranians, how do you think that will affect the esprit de corps of millions of Sunni tribesmen?

    Mr. Obama is screwed, blued, and tattooed. After thousands of American kids killed and maimed and hundreds of billions squandered, this is the end of the movie. The only thing worse will be the massacre of American troops trying to exit Afghanistan.

    1. Oh, my, such hand wringing! Malaki wanted all US troops out so they left. Now he is hoisted upon his own petard. This should nit be hung upon Obama because the problem goes way back to decisions before his.

    2. You have no idea of what petard means.

      Oxford: hoist with (or by) one's own petard

    3. ????

      it is an idiom Allen. I'm sure you can figure it out when you sober up.

    4. Sober or drunk, Punk, I know you are clueless as to petard. To be hoisted is to be thrown into the air by ones own explosive - originally a grenade of sorts.

    5. Re: idiom

      You are an idiot (unrelated).

    6. You lend credence to those who suspect English is your second language.

    7. Be that as it may, Dumbshit, I know a petard from a retard.

  4. Australian Prime Minister backs President Obama on Climate Change

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described himself as a ''conservationist'' who has no disagreement with US President Barack Obama on the subject of climate change.

    Speaking after his meeting with Mr Obama in Washington, Mr Abbott played down any differences between the two leaders, saying that both he and the US President took climate change ''very seriously''.

    ''We all want to do the right thing by our planet,'' he told ABC Radio on Friday. ''I regard myself as a conservationist.''

  5. American energy independence is the only tool left in the handbag. Oh and of course Israeli natural gas.

    Direct sales to Europe of both, always at a few point below whatever the price that Iran, Russia or Arabia offers is the way, the truth and the light...

  6. Sport, it's "Stratfor update on Eastern Europe and the ongoing debacle in Iraq - A connection with Putin’s Russia?"

    1. Mr. Obama is screwed, blued, and tattooed.

      You expanded the subject from Russia and Iraq, to President Obama.
      Australia, is a major player in the Middle East, on par with the Russians - you told us so the other day.
      Australia later provided one of the four most substantial combat force contingents during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, under the operational codename Operation Falconer.


    2. That the Australians are more concerned about Climate Change than they are with Islamist in Iraq, is telling.

    3. You really need to expand your field of view, allen.
      You have such tunnel vision, you keep missing the "Big Picture"

    4. Dick Head,

      I wrote that Australia would not refer to Jerusalem as "occupied".

  7. When Rumsfeld asked if we could kill them faster than they could recruit, this is what he meant. Instead, George hired Generals who recommended commendations for not engaging. I would give anything to see Petraeus and McChrystal reactivated with the rank of captain and sent back.

  8. Putin's greatest risk in the Ukrainian adventure was a drop in the price of oil and gas, fueled by American dumping and a reduction in EU demand. Putin is probably feeling pretty flush right now. It does not matter to him who wins, he just needs a few years to diversify the Russian economy as Russia continues to export petroleum products. Since Kerry decided to piss all over Israel and force a settlement with terrorists, Putin may get plenty of help with his economic plans. Intel is investing $6 billion more into Israeli IT...Hmm...

  9. ISIS Shelling Kurdish Peshmerga-controlled Areas South of Kirkuk

    KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region - Kurdish Peshmerga leaders say that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has began shelling areas south of Kirkuk, where Peshmerga forces stepped in to fill in deserted Iraqi Army positions.

    In response the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Deputy Minister of Peshmerga, Anwar Haji Osman, urged Arab tribes in the region “not to let their territories be used by the ISIS for shelling other areas.”

    As ISIS forces take cities and claim to be close to Baghdad – after the Iraqi army collapsed and fled before a threatened onslaught by the militants -- Kurdish forces slowly moved in to take control of major roads, as well as Kurdish-majority villages and towns.

    Peshmerga spokesperson Jabar Yawar said that Kurdish forces had "full control" of Kirkuk on Thursday morning. He added the Kurds could not risk the city’s majority-Kurdish populations – and oilfields that include one of Iraq’s largest – falling into militant hands.

    After their defeat by the Peshmerga, the ISIS are now shelling the liberated areas from a distance, using seized Iraqi weapons,” Osman told Rudaw.

  10. I doubt that you could find many Iraqis that believe their country has been improved by getting rid of Saddam.

    1. Certainly not the Christians, but they can't be asked in Iraq, cause they're not in Iraq anymore.

      The lucky ones are in Kurdistan.

  11. Iraq is an existential sectarian battle between the two rival sects of Islam-Sunni and Shiite—and by default a proxy battle between their patrons Saudi Arabia and Iran.

    "Until now we haven't received any requests for help from Iraq. Iraq's army is certainly capable in handling this," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afgham said Wednesday.

    Iranian President Hasan Rouhani cut short a religious celebration on Thursday and said he had to attend an emergency meeting of the country's National Security Council about events in Iraq.

    "We, as the Islamic Republic of Iran, won't tolerate this violence and terrorism…. We will fight and battle violence and extremism and terrorism in the region and the world," he said in a speech.

    ISIS's rapid territorial gains in the past few days appeared to have caught Iranian officials by surprise and opened a debate within the regime over whether Iran should publicly enter the battle.

    Iran's chief of police, Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam said the National Security Council would consider intervening in Iraq to "protect Shiite shrines and cities," according to Iranian media.

    In the short-term, analysts said the outcome of the crisis in Iraq will only strengthen and increase the influence of Iran and the Revolutionary Guards.

    Write to Farnaz Fassihi at

    1. ... battle between the two rival sects of Islam-Sunni and Shiite—and by default a proxy battle between their patrons Saudi Arabia and Iran.

      Boy, I resemble that remark.

  12. Israel uses an attack by ISIL as a false flag to attack Hezbollah in March 2014.

    Israel punishes Hezbollah for ISIL attack on convoy

    By Ken Hanly
    Mar 15, 2014

  13. ISIS's aim of creating a global caliphate, is an understandable aim of the many groups of dispossessed and dissafected Muslims in the Middle East. The idea of the caliphate has the virtue of an simple idea that emphasises the common faith of muslims across the ME while de-emphasising the fault lines which divide them. It is a movement born of rage against Western hegemony and the moral corruption they see in the Gulf states whose governments are - in their view - stooges of the West.

    The West has failed every time it has attempted to combat the caliphate and it's supporters. Afghanistan is a lost war, the Taliban are back before Westerners have even completed their withdrawal. Fallujah in Iraq has fallen to Al Quaeda (again) and the incompetent Western placeman Al Maliki probably won't be able to re-take it. The US would rather bang a rusty six-inch nail into it's proverbial eye socket than get involved in Iraq again. Iraq is lost.

    The West - afraid of a large Jewish refugee influx from Russian and central European pogroms - created Israel from Palestinian territory thereby ensuring hundreds of years of bloodshed in the Eastern Mediterranean. But AIPAC's influence on US foreign policy is waning, the Iran nuclear deal despite Netanyahu's vociferous complaints one example. Stretched US resources are being diverted to Asia in an attempt to counter a rising China and we may be seeing the beginning of the end of US military support for Israel.

    Fighting WW2 emptied Britain's coffers and forced withdrawal from empire, a process that was completed in 20 years. If the US fights a war against China, even assuming it wins, it will be broke, and will be forced into it's own withdrawal from empire. The end of Pax Americana will turn the world upside-down. US client states (Gulf monarchies, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Philippines, Singapore, Turkey, UK, Australia etc.) will have to invent a new place for themselves in the world, knowing the US cavalry will not come riding to the rescue when the *hit hits the fan.

    I probably won't be around long enough to see the world that emerges from the current upheavals, but it is a fascinating process for those interested in the grand sweep of history and the rise and fall of empires.

  14. Israeli Ambassador to US has stated that Israel prefers al-Quedea to anyone that is supported by Iran.

    "... we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.”

    Even if the other “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.
    “We understand that they are pretty bad guys,” Oren said in the interview.

  15. “After their defeat by the Peshmerga, the ISIS are now shelling the liberated areas from a distance, using seized Iraqi weapons,”

    That distance is relatively short. A look at the map will show that ISIS has Kurds to the front, left flank, and right flank. At some point, the Kurds will remind them of the geography. As written earlier, the Kurds are not Iraqi.

    1. ...Saladin...The Horns of Hattin...

      Saladin was a Kurd, born in Tikrit. His army enveloped and destroyed a Crusader army on the Horns of Hattin.

  16. Gee, someone is starting the Jew stuff again.

    1. That would be you. No one else has mentioned the word.

    2. Aren't there a few Jews in Israel, Allen?

    3. I believe "Jewish" coveys the same meaning.

      He is my monkey, and well programmed one.

  17. Let’s face it. The United States should never have invaded Iraq in the first place. It was the Neocon dream! All we accomplished there was to ruin the good health (mentally and physically) of a lot of good Americans. Any thoughts of going back there is insane. However, with some of the mediocre generals we have, nothing would surprise me.

    Had we not invaded that stink hole, arm pit place in 2003, the dictator would have been overthrown by his own people anyway. All we did by being their is make things worse. The asshole jihadists are a byproduct of our presence. They know that the current government is nothing but a puppet of the U.S.

    Iraq is a perfect example of how the U.S. has fucked things up in the "Fertile Crescent" to the extent that the entire place is almost beyond repair. It was always fucked up but we made it worse. Americans can all thank Bush and Cheney for this. Meglomaniacs who thought they wee military geniuses on a mission for God. What a pile of shit they put us in.

  18. Sunni and Shia Muslims have been fighting a sectarian war since the 7th C. C.E. When not killing one another, they were killing Kurds and other heretical Muslims.

    The Almoravids and Almohads spent the 11th - 13th centuries battling for control of Muslim Spain.

    ...a tiny bit of history for a tiny walnut...

    Iran Is Deploying Experienced Fighters To Beat Back Militants In Iraq

  20. Humans Learned to Talk by Copying Birds and Monkeys, Linguists Claim
    Hannah OsborneBy Hannah Osborne
    June 12, 2014 15:05 BST
    69 2
    Share on linkedin

    snow monkeys
    Japanese Macaques (or Snow Monkeys) groom each other in a hot spring at a snow-covered valley in Yamanouchi, Japan.Reuters
    Humans learned to talk to one another by copying birds and other primates sometime in the last 100,000 years, experts have said.

    Linguists from MIT suggest that human communication could have evolved from older systems used by birds and primates.

    Previous research has found that humans derive the melodic part of language from birds. However, the authors also say we evolved our pragmatic content-carrying part of speech from other primates.

    Linguist Shigeru Miyagawa said: "How did human language arise? It's far enough in the past that we can't just go back and figure it out directly. The best we can do is come up with a theory that is broadly compatible with what we know about human language and other similar systems in nature."

    It is thought human language is unique because it allows for infinite set of new meanings. However, after analysing some qualities of human language, the researchers found we share some of the finite qualities of other animals, suggesting our language is much more similar to other animals than previously believed.

    "Yes, human language is unique, but if you take it apart in the right way, the two parts we identify are in fact of a finite state," Miyagawa said. "Those two components have antecedents in the animal world. According to our hypothesis, they came together uniquely in human language."

    Published in Frontiers in Psychology, the researchers built on previous research that links birdsongs to human speech. They noted, however, that birds only have a limited number of melodies so the development of speech must incorporate another aspect from nature – specifically primates.

    "You have these two pieces," said co-author Robert Berwick. "You put them together and something novel emerges. We can't go back with a time machine and see what happened, but we think that's the basic story we're seeing with language."

  21. And you chirping monkeys think you're so damn smart !!



  23. I was listening to Col. Allen West, a Fox News contributor, the other night. He served in Iraq. He said after his tour was over he was at some event somewhere at which the much maligned by some here Netanyahu offered the opinion that the Americans should not pull all the troops out of Iraq when withdrawing because 'you will create a vacuum and you will have no idea what will flow into that'.

    Which all seems reasonable enough to me.

    1. Why didn't Bibi send the IDF to Iraq, to fill that vacuum, they're certainly capable?

      They could have been tried in Iraqi courts, with Iraqi judges, under Sharia Law, it would have presented no problem for the Israeli to accept that, but it would have been totally unacceptable for the US to accept those conditions.

    2. Well, Sport, you an obviously intelligent man, you tell us.

      My own hunch is he didn't figure it was in his country's interests to do so, and his Cabinet wouldn't have voted for it, and the people of Israel as whole wouldn't support it, and the idea is nuts.

      But, that's just my hunch.

      Why do you think?

      Your use of 'the Iraqi' and 'the Israeli' sounds curiously like that of desert rat.

      Are you related?

    3. So you are saying that Bibi decided that it was not in the Israeli's interest to make sure there was no vacuum, in Iraq.
      Just as it was decided by both the leaders of the US and Iraq that it was not in the best interest of either country for US troops to remain there, under terms acceptable to the Iraqi.

      The correct use of language does not require any relationship amongst those that utilize it.

    4. SportFri Jun 13, 02:29:00 AM EDT
      Why didn't Bibi send the IDF to Iraq, to fill that vacuum, they're certainly capable?

      You are a moron.

  24. Also that Maliki didn't help the situation when he purged the Iraqi army that was being built of many of its top officers, replacing them with his incompetent cronies. Many Sunnis, they of course went over into opposition.

    It wasn't all that long ago that Iran and Iraq fought a 10 year or so war with something over a million or more dead....and precious little gained by either side...and now Iran is sending in forces to help Maliki......and now.......

    What a place. They certainly kill one another with great gusto century after century after century....

    1. Civilian control of the military, what a strange concept for the Iraqi to embrace

    2. Sectarian control of the military

    3. Civilian politicians elected by large majorities.

    4. Politicians in a country with a history of military coups.
      That was how Saddam's Baath party came to power in 1968.
      But there was also a coup in 1958, King Faisal II was overthrown.
      Followed by another coup in 1963.
      All engineered by Sunni Generals in the Army.

    5. Sectarian control of the military by civilian politicians elected by large majorities.

      There ! We agree.

      Bored of the conversation with you, I break it off and go dormatorio ward and say

      Cheers !

  25. John the Seer of PatmosFri Jun 13, 05:06:00 AM EDT

    Here comes the, er, cavalry? Iranian Revolutionary Guard heads to Iraq to take on ISIS

    A U.S./Israel/Iran/Saudi Arabia/Bashar Assad alliance in the Middle East is, if I’m not mistaken, mentioned in chapter nine of the Book of Revelation.

    Alternate headline: “Atheist starting to believe in the End Times.”

    Iran deployed Revolutionary Guard forces to fight in Iraq, helping government troops there wrest back control of most of the city of Tikrit from militants, Iranian security sources said…

    Combined Iraqi-Iranian forces retook control of 85% of Tikrit, the birthplace of former dictator Saddam Hussein, according to Iraqi and Iranian security sources.

    They were helping guard the capital Baghdad and the two Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, which have been threatened by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, an al Qaeda offshoot. The Sunni militant group’s lightning offensive has thrown Iraq into its worse turmoil since the sectarian fighting that followed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion…

    In addition, Iran was considering the transfer to Iraq of Iranian troops fighting for the regime in Syria if the initial deployments fail to turn the tide of battle in favor of Mr. Maliki’s government.

    Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Quds Force and the second-most powerful man in Iran, was in Baghdad a few days ago to reassure Maliki that his Shiite patrons will answer the bell for him, just like they did for Assad. As much fun in theory as an IRGC/ISIS slugfest might be for the west, in practice it’s horrific: It’s been happening in Syria for the past few years, with tens of thousands of civilians caught in the middle. There’s really no rooting interest here, either. If Iran succeeds in crushing the jihadis, Maliki and Assad will owe them everything. Tehran will own Iraq and Syria even more than they do now. If ISIS pushes Iran back to Iraq’s Shiite areas and secures the Sunni parts of Iraq and Syria for itself, the U.S. suddenly has to figure out a way to crush a huge Salafist terror statelet run by hardened guerilla jihadis right in the middle of Mesopotamia. Drone operators will be pulling double shifts for the next 20 years. One U.S. counterterror official, having looked at the intelligence on ISIS, told the WSJ, “It makes you want to kill yourself.” That’s the scope of what we’re dealing with here.

    Sharia is already in effect in the areas seized by the group, which, per this Long War Journal map, is simply enormous. And they may not stop at Iraq.

    According to the sources, ISIS leader Abu Baker al-Baghdadi recently discussed with his lieutenants the possibility of extending the group’s control beyond Syria and Iraq.

    One of the ideas discussed envisages focusing ISIS’s efforts on Jordan, where Islamist movements already have a significant presence. Jordan was also chosen because it has shared borders with Iraq and Syria, making it easier for the terrorists to infiltrate the kingdom…

    The ISIS terrorists see Jordan’s Western-backed King Abdullah as an enemy of Islam and an infidel, and have publicly called for his execution. ISIS terrorists recently posted a video on YouTube in which they threatened to “slaughter” Abdullah, whom they denounced as a “tyrant.” Some of the terrorists who appeared in the video were Jordanian citizens who tore up their passports in front of the camera and vowed to launch suicide attacks inside the kingdom.

    One obvious possible response here is for Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and maybe even Egypt to send troops to Iraq to crush ISIS.

    1. Jordan? KSA? Why would the Sunnis send troops to help shore up the Shi'ite government of Iraq?

    2. If I was da King of da Kaaba I'd wait til ISIS deposes Maliki, chops his head off, THEN go in with my buds to clean up.

  26. John the Seer of PatmosFri Jun 13, 05:07:00 AM EDT

    The jihadis are hugely outnumbered: Combined, the Iraqi army and the Kurdish peshmerga in the country top them more than 30 to one. Add multinational Sunni troops and the ratio would skyrocket. I assume it won’t happen, though, partly because the Sunnis would rather let Iran bleed some more in handling this and partly because they may be nervous about being thin on troops at home at a moment when Islamists are running wild in Iraq. The local Islamists might seize on the security vacuum as an opportunity for mass protests or worse, which could destabilize the country. In the eternal game of Middle Eastern jihadi whack-a-mole, there are always more moles. And even if the Sunni states managed to keep order at home, what happens once they’re done with ISIS in Iraq? Do they go home, or push on into Syria to fight ISIS there — which could eventually lead to a direct confrontation between Iran, on Assad’s side, and the multinational Sunnis on the other?

    At last check, ISIS was bulldozing border checkpoints between Iraq and Syria to symbolize the creation of a new, transnational jihadi state. Next stop: Caliphate?

    Update: By the way, can anyone explain how the U.S. brain trust was “caught off guard” by all this when news about the jihadification of Syria’s rebels and the threat they pose to Iraq has been news for years? In particular:

    “These groups were unified by the same goal, which is getting rid of this sectarian government, ending this corrupt army and negotiating to form the Sunni Region,” said Abu Karam, a senior Baathist leader and a former high-ranking army officer, who said planning for the offensive had begun two years ago. “The decisive battle will be in northern Baghdad. These groups will not stop in Tikrit and will keep moving toward Baghdad.”

    Two years, and no intelligence services locally or internationally had a heads up?

    1. Obama has been following it all in the newspapers, so he has known what's up.