“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."

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Turkey, another US “Ally” that is an extreme liability

Turkey has spent years allowing jihadist groups to flourish - so beware its real reasons for shooting down a Russian plane

Turkey has no interest in the peaceful settlement to the conflict in Syria that world powers are negotiating. As Erdogan gets desperate, he will attempt to bring focus back to Assad 

Turkey is getting desperate. Under President Recep Tayip Erdogan and his party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), its policies toward the conflict in Syria over the past four years have been misguided and costly. When conflict broke out in 2011, Ankara mistakenly under-estimated the strength of the Assad regime and supported hardline Islamist groups seeking its downfall. In the process, Turkey also marginalised the Kurds and alienated regional powers like Iran. 
Four years on, Assad looks set to hold onto power and his regime will be a central part of a transition plan, one that foreign powers were negotiating last weekend. Turkey’s regional rival, Iran, is a key player which can no longer be ignored by the West. Not only does the pro-Assad alliance now have Russian support firmly on its side, but the international community is no longer focused on defeating the regime – instead, it is concerned with defeating jihadist groups like Isis.
The shift in focus is a significant drawback for Erdogan. Years of support for, and investment in, Islamic fundamentalist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria) and Ahrar al-Sham are about to go to waste. Ankara has played a significant role in allowing Isis and other jihadists to flourish in Syria and the region. Turkey has acquiesced to jihadist groups entering Syria via Turkey as well as their use of Turkey as a transit point for smuggling arms and funds into Syria.
The Kurds in Syria, meanwhile, have established themselves as a reliable Western ally and have created, in the process, an autonomous Kurdish region that has reinvigorated Kurdish nationalism in Turkey and across the region - much to Turkey’s dismay as it continues a brutal military campaign to repress the Kurds.
In other words, Turkey has no interest in the peaceful settlement to the conflict in Syria that world powers are negotiating. As it gets desperate, Turkey will attempt to bring focus back on the Assad regime and reverse the losses it has made both in Syria and geopolitically. The decision to bring down the Russian jet is, therefore, likely to have had other political factors behind it - particularly since the jet, as far as we know, posed no immediate threat to Turkey’s national security. 
Domestically, Erdogan thrives on a climate of fear and uncertainty. This worked for him in the country’s snap elections earlier this month, during which he regained the majority he lost in June after months of bombings, violence and divisive rhetoric.
Ankara’s downing of the Russian jet may provide a useful diversion as it seeks to intensify its military campaign against the Kurds, particularly in the Kurdish-dominated Mardin province, where MPs were assaulted in recent days. Two days ago, Selahattin Demirtas, head of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) who shot to international acclaim in the country’s national elections, survived an assassination attempt in Kurdish-dominated Diyarbakir.
These tactics will not be without long-term costs and will undermine the chances of peace in Syria as well as the West’s effort to defeat Isis.

The West appeased and bolstered Erdogan in Turkey in the run-up to the country’s elections, with the aim of securing a deal with Ankara on the refugee crisis. It may now regret that. Erdogan is not only likely to drive a hard bargain but he may also walk away.
He has never cared much for the EU and has only sought engagement with the West when under pressure at home. But Turkey is not an indispensable ally and should not be considered as such. Unless the West starts to seriously exert pressure, Erdogan will have little incentive to stop his damaging policies.


  1. Like him or not, Assad is at the head of the recognized government of Syria. Russia is there at his invitation.

    The armed forces of all other nation states, whether on land or in the air, are there in violation of the rules of war and the United Nations charter. They are in fact committing an act of illegitimate aggression against the state of Syria. This includes the air forces of both the United States and France.

    We have no legal or moral right to be overflying Syrian air space or bombing any elements within Syria. This is not arguable and bears absolutely no relationship to whether or not Assad is an unscrupulous tyrant or not or to whatever motivations Russia has for rendering military assistance to his regime. The rule of law is the rule of law.

    1. The hypocrisy is palpable. The US arguing the invoilability of Sovereign rights - puleazze!

  2. Turkey has played a leading role in fomenting the unrest in Syria since the very beginning of the uprising against the rule of Bashar al-Assad in 2011.

    Turkey has aided, abetted, and funded ISIS by keeping its southern border open with Syria, allowing radical jihadists from Europe to cross back and forth from ISIS-controlled territory, thereby enabling them to return to Europe to plot and execute such attacks as were recently carried out in the French capital.

    Turkish commodity dealers have funded ISIS through their purchase of, by one estimate, $50 million a month in black-market oil. Indeed, reports have surfaced alleging that none other than Erdogan’s son Bilal has been a key financial benefactor of this unseemly business.

    Erdogan’s motives for the shoot-down are not terribly difficult to divine, and they have little to do with the alleged violation of Turkey’s sovereign airspace. As was widely reported, at the G20 summit last week in Antalya, Turkey, Putin revealed aerial surveillance and satellite imagery showing a miles-long line of oil-tanker trucks stretching from ISIS-controlled territory into Turkey.

  3. This incident should (but of course will not) make American policy makers alive to the fact that alliances can be dangerous things.

    Far from ensuring stability and security, alliances that overextend themselves, like NATO, put the stronger members (like the United States) at the mercy of weaker member states that indulge in reckless behavior they otherwise would never have even contemplated. Such is the case with Turkey’s actions this morning, and such may very well be the case with the Baltic states and Poland vis-à-vis Russia in the not-too-distant future.

    What Turkey has done is to bring the NATO alliance yet another step closer to an open conflict with Russia, and at a minimum it has sundered the chances for a NATO-Russian coalition against ISIS in Syria, which perhaps was Erdogan’s plan all along.

  4. .

    No denying Turkey leaves something to be desired in terms of being an ally,

    and yet, Russia gives Turkey all the excuse they need. How many times has Turkey complained about Russian incursions into their air space? Recently, there have been bilateral meetings on this subject between the two countries. Russia has been doing whatever they want since joining the fight in Syria and not really worrying about what anyone else there says.


    1. .

      The rule of law is the rule of law.


    2. The idea that Assad's Government is a legitimate government is absurd.

      The Alawites may well be the better choice.....they have done not so badly to the Christians.....but Assad, father or son, have never been legitimately elected to anything.

      The Alawites have a trinitarian view, which must come from the Christians.

      It's a strange arrangement.....a little fruit here, a little fruit there, from the Theological Tree.....

    3. The rule of force is the rule of law, in the case of the Assads, till now anyway.

    4. .

      Spare me your bull. There are no good guys in Syria.


    5. You are, once yet again, not paying proper attention.

      I did not say there were any 'good guys' in Syria.

      I said the Alawites might be the better choice -

      The idea that Assad's Government is a legitimate government is absurd.

      The Alawites may well be the better choice.....they have done not so badly to the Christians.....but Assad, father or son, have never been legitimately elected to anything.

    6. And I added:

      The rule of force is the rule of law, in the case of the Assads, till now anyway.

      You know me well even by now to know I like the rule of law, passed by a properly elected Legislature, overseen by competent Courts, and evenly executed by fair minded governors, Presidents....

    7. the rule of law, passed by a properly elected Legislature, overseen by competent Courts, and evenly executed by fair minded governors, Presidents....

      This never works out in Islamist countries and groups.....they always wish to substitute Sharia....

    8. Assad represents the Alawites, Draft Dodger, that is his power base.


  5. Russia sending hi-tech air defence system

    Russia is sending its most hi-tech air defence system to its air base in Syria to help bolster its firepower over Syria after the downing of its jet, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said.

    "The S-400 anti-aircraft missile system will be deployed to the Hmeimim airbase," Mr Shoigu was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

  6. How Russia’s S-400 makes the F-35 obsolete


    The sale of the powerful S-400 surface-to-air missile systems to China not only marks another milestone in Russia-China relations, it is a remarkable example of how a comparatively inexpensive weapon can make a trillion dollar project obsolescent before it even gets off the ground.

    It’s not often that a relatively inexpensive air defence weapon is able to make a trillion dollar fighter programme obsolete. But the $500 million S-400 missile system has done precisely that to America’s brand new F-35 stealth fighter.

    In November 2014 Moscow and Beijing inked a $3 billion agreement for the supply of six battalions of S-400 anti-aircraft/anti-missile systems that will significantly boost China’s air defence capability against the US and its allies in the Western Pacific.

    With a tracking range of 600 km and the ability to hit targets 400 km away at a blistering speed of 17,000 km an hour – faster than any existing aircraft–the S-400 is a truly scary weapon if you are facing its business end.First deployed by Russia in 2010, each S-400 battalion has eight launchers, a control centre, radar and 16 missiles available as reloads.

    Unlike the overhyped US Patriot missile that turned out to be a dud in battle, the S-400 was designed to create the daddy of Iron Domes. “Given its extremely long range and effective electronic warfare capabilities, the S-400 is a game-changing system that challenges current military capabilities at the operational level of war,” Paul Giarra, president, Global Strategies and Transformation, told Defense News. The S-400 will have the “effect of turning a defensive system into an offensive system, and extend China’s A2/AD (anti-access/area-denial) umbrella over the territory of American allies and the high seas.”

    But first a bit of background. The S-400 was developed to defend Russian air space and a few hundred kilometers further against missiles and aircraft of all types, including stealth. Because it is a highly potent and accurate weapon that can tip the balance of power in any war theatre, Moscow has long resisted the temptation of exporting even its older iteration, the S-300, to troubled allies Syria and Iran.

    An S-300 missile fired from, say, Damascus will blow away an aircraft over central Tel Aviv in about 107 seconds, giving the Israelis just enough time to say their prayers. It is precisely because the S-series missile systems can so dramatically upset the military balance that Israel has pressured Russia against introducing it into the Middle East tinderbox. Israel has also warned it would go after Syrian S-300 batteries with everything it’s got.

    However, China’s case is different because the chances of another country daring to take a shot at the Chinese are next to zero. This development is really bad news for the F-35.

    Russia and the US have traditionally adopted different military strategies. During the Cold War the US relied upon carrier-based aircraft to project power in the Western Pacific, and the strategy continues today. The Russians on the other hand decided these floating airfields were easy targets for their shore-based long-range aviation and anti-ship cruise missiles.

    1. If it came to war, waves of long-range bombers such as the Tu-95M Backfire would take off from safe bases deep in continental Russia, fire their powerful cruise missiles from safe stand-offdistances and blast the carriers out of the water. The Russian pilots would then head home to watch the damage on CNN!

      The Russian logic was elegantly simple. Back then the average nuclear powered aircraft carrier cost$1 billion whereas the average anti-ship cruise missile cost $1 million or less. For the money they’d have spent on a single carrier, the Russians figured they could build a thousand cruise missiles. Even if just a fraction of these missiles got through, all American carriers were dead in the water.

      The Russians were so sure about the accuracy of their cruise missiles that the Backfirescarried only one Raduga Kh-22 (NATO name AS-4 Kitchen) missile armed with a nuclear warhead. According to weapons expert Bill Sweetman and Bill Gunston these missiles could be “programmed to enter the correct Pentagon window”.

      China too is following the same trajectory. It has adopted the Russian Cold War strategy of attacking aircraft carriers with waves of bombers armed with its cruise missiles(that are knockoffs of Russian missiles). In fact, complete destruction of a carrier isn't necessary; even slight damage can put such large vessels out of commission for months. And since wars don’t last that long these days, the crippling of its carrier arm will force American capitulation early on in any conventional conflict.

      To counter the missile threat to its carriers, the Americans are relying on the F-35 as a cruise missile killer. More than a trillion dollars have already been spent on this troubled project. Even if the F-35 is able to miraculously overcome its shortcomings, the S-400 upends this strategy.

  7. Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece the Global Times warns that Russia could be considering a retaliatory shoot down of a Turkish warplane in response to today’s downing of an Su-24 fighter jet.

    With Russia warning Turkey that “inevitable consequences” will ensue as a result of the incident, the Chinese newspaper asserts that the situation, “Could be one of the most critical moments since the end of the Cold War.”

    As Reuters reported earlier this year, the Global Times is an, “Influential nationalist tabloid owned by the ruling Communist Party’s official newspaper the People’s Daily,” therefore reflects the views of top Chinese government officials.

    “Ankara must be well aware of what it means to shoot down a Russian warplane,” states the editorial. “Next it will be careful enough not to give Russia a chance to down one of its warplanes in retaliation. Moscow probably has to cross the Syrian-Turkish border to implement retaliation, which however risks escalating military confrontation.”

    “If Russia strikes down a Turkish warplane in Turkish airspace, or strikes a Turkish air base, it will touch NATO’s nerve. If NATO takes no action, its pledge to protect smaller alliance members will be discredited. However, if NATO adopts substantial action toward Russia, Europe will confront an unprecedented turbulent situation not seen since World War II.”

    Another “Ally” from hell.

    1. .

      Russia doesn't need to take down a Turkish plane in Turkish territory. Turkey has been flying in Syria for some times. "Accidents' can happen at any time and the message gets through.

      There are other actions Russia can take. I believe Turkey gets about $25 billion in oil/gas from Russia each year.

      Syria could blow up in the world's face at any minute. Not good.


  8. American Thinker agrees with Deuce on this one - adding the suggestion Russia take Turkey's place in NATO :) -

    November 25, 2015
    Time to Trade Turkey for Russia in NATO
    By Sierra Rayne

    When Turkey joined NATO in February 1952, there seemed to be a purpose to the expansion into traditionally Islamic territory. Proponents of Turkey's membership argued that the West needed this country as an ally to prevent Soviet expansion in the region. But this was a deal with the devil.

    Fears of Soviet aggression may have been understandable at the time, but never to the extent that rationalized allowing Turkey into NATO. Other routes existed for NATO to thwart perceived Soviet ambitions throughout this area, including temporary military and economic support for Turkey and the further strengthening of conventional and nuclear forces in Western Europe. The spastic response in Turkey's NATO membership was short-sighted and unforgivable, and will ultimately lead to more problems for the West than it was intended to solve.

    Over the years, Turkey has been the problem child in NATO. The Turkish invasion of Cyprus during 1974 caused a rift in the alliance, leading Greece to withdraw its forces from NATO's command structure until 1980. In 2012, Syria shot down a Turkish fighter jet after it apparently -- and very deliberately -- strayed into Syrian airspace. Later that same year, Turkey fired artillery at government targets in Syria as a response to claimed Syrian artillery hits in Turkey.

    An optimist may say that Turkey resides in a geopolitically challenging part of the world, that trouble is bound to follow, and that Turkey is just the innocent victim of its less-than-desirable neighborhood. A more cynical realist would likely view the series of issues over the decades as part of Turkey's objective to simply leverage its NATO membership to achieve its own political goals -- which generally do not coincide with NATO's interests.

    Perhaps NATO's naivety towards Turkey was forgivable in the 20th century, but since Turkey began to clearly signal its devotion to Islamism in the early 2000s, the writing has been on the wall. Given Turkey's long and complex history, the Islamist writing has always been on the wall for those who wanted to take the rose-colored glasses off and see it.

    1. The Islamists are -- and always have been -- far more of a civilizational threat to the West than the Soviets were. The West got played by the Islamists. We were their useful idiots throughout the Cold War and in the quarter-century that followed. It is time to right the trajectory and ally with Russia against the Islamists, and that includes the effective Islamic State of Turkey.

      Putin's Russia has been beating the drum against the Islamic threat for years. The West has failed to listen. French president Francois Hollande has now asked the U.S. to set aside its differences with Russia in order to "fight this terrorist army [the Islamic State] in a broad, single coalition." As Putin correctly noted, Turkey is already allied with ISIS via its support for the Islamic State's oil sales. Pakistan also plays this type of duplicitous game with the West, pretending to be its friend while stabbing it in the back. At least Pakistan wasn't admitted to NATO -- although with the dearth of coherent leadership in the West, perhaps we should add "yet."

      Much has changed over the past two years. Old adversaries need to be re-evaluated, as do old "allies" -- which were never likely allies to begin with. Many admire Putin in the West, and for good reason. His geostrategic vision is clear, his strength is palpable, and the success he has had in rebuilding Russia's economy, society, and military is evident for all who assess it objectively.

      The time has come: Turkey should be removed from NATO, and Russia should be invited to join. The common causes the West has with Russia greatly outnumber those it has with the Islamic world.

      Read more:
      Follow us: @AmericanThinker on Twitter | AmericanThinker on Facebook

    2. Turkey was better off when the Generals were running it, as Iran was with the Shah, and Egypt is with Sisi.

      The last thing anyone should desire is the Islamists running anything.

      Take Israel into NATO too.

      I've always liked NATO. Before the Soviet breakup, and especially after.......all those small nations, they all came running to Europe, the EU...and NATO.

      I like the idea of the Big Fish swimming and schooling up peacefully with the Little Fish, and not eating on them, as Russia has done with Georgia, the Crimea, eastern Ukraine........

    3. When the Soviet Union broke up, there was some talk of Russia eventually joining NATO, as I recall.

      Weren't they finally given 'observer status' or some such ?

    4. .

      The American Thinker and those who read it are nutz. There are no good guys in this conflict. Criticizing Turkey is perfectly reasonable. To think Russia under Putin is any better is bizarre.

      ...and Egypt is with Sisi.

      Egypt is rated 138 out of 167 on the Economist's 2014 Democracy Index, in the lowest 20% of all nations, designated in a lower category (authoritarian regime) than Iran (hybrid regime) who is listed at 111 on the index. There are tens of thousands of political prisoners being held in Egyptian prisons, 16,000 to 20,000 just in the last 6 months of 2014. Thousands of people have been 'disappeared' under Sisi, worse than under Pinochet in Chile.

      For 2014, Reporters Without Borders reported that Sisi's regime arrested 46 reporters, second in the world only to Ukraine which arrested 47. All political dissent in Egypt is silenced immediately.

      Egypt is an economic basket case, surviving only on the baksheesh provided by the US and the bribes of Saudi Arabia. the military controls 40% of the economy.


    5. The President-General of Egypt is the product of the US Army War College.
      His thesis, well written and coherent.

      The Muslim Brotherhood, no longer a viable political entity, in Egypt. The MB was drawn out of the shadows by the prospect of political power, then the Egyptian Army cut off its head.

      The Suez remains open, the Russians have not gained any real traction there.
      The US has provide the Egyptian Army with 1,400 M1 Abrams tanks ...
      Which is considerably more than the combined tank forces of the Axis and Allied powers in Northern Africa during WW2.

    6. I beg to differ. The MB are still a potent force holding the sympathy of many in Egypt and elsewhere. To discount them is to pursue similar blind alleys like, with respect to IS - 'gee goolly gosh we can wipe up those 25k headcutters out by memorial day!'

  9. November 25, 2015
    The ISIS threat to United States
    By Carol Brown

    A new report on the threat of ISIS in the United States has been published at Breitbart prior to its release to the general public. And the news is, predictably, not good. Breitbart reports:

    The Threat Knowledge Group (TKG), headed by Katherine C. Gorka, its President, and Dr. Sebastian Gorka, the Chair of Military Theory at Marine Corps University and a Breitbart Contributor, released a comprehensive study Monday titled “ISIS: The Threat to the United States.” (snip)

    “We wanted to do this study because we felt that the Administration was downplaying the domestic threat of ISIS, focusing instead on ‘right-wing extremism.’ The problem with that is that it means law enforcement is not prepared. They’re looking out the window while the threat is coming in the door,” she added.........................

    .....................Meanwhile, the recommendation to screen refugees is futile in light of the FBI’s unequivocal statement that we can’t adequately vet these folks. Period. End of story. There is nothing more to discuss, debate, talk about, consider, ponder, or otherwise do. In light of this (as well as the fact that such refugees embrace an ideology at odds with American values), the recommendation should be to close the door to them.

    (But just for the heck of it, if suggestions are being made that have little chance of coming to fruition because the country is run by an calculating madman, why not recommend the FBI’s training materials no longer be stripped of all references to Islam?)

    As long as evil rules the day, Americans will die at the hands of jihadists. That could be you. Or it could be me. We are all expendable in Obama’s America, where our nation falls as the Caliphate rises.

    It’s not by chance. It’s by design.

    Read more:
    Follow us: @AmericanThinker on Twitter | AmericanThinker on Facebook

    1. .

      More moronic pap. No doubt these guys approve of Trump's 'solution' of a 'Muslim Tracking List'.

      Their recommendation, don't worry about those that have been our domestic terrorists and instead concentrate on 'potential' Muslim terrorists all while ignoring the tremendous hole in our security, the visa system that allows any terrorist from 38 designated countries, Muslim or not, who want to just walk into the country.

      Pure genius.


    2. REUTERS 5-DAY ROLLING POLL: TRUMP 38%, CRUZ 11.6%, CARSON 11.5%, RUBIO 8.2%... MORE...Drudge

      With all his fox paws, The Donald keeps going UP.

      Cruz isn't hurting The Donald, he's taking votes from Carson.

      Vote for The Donald, Quirk.

      He will fix the visa system well, like all other things.

      He has your best interests in his heart.

    3. .

      You vote for him. You guys are kindred spirits and deserve each other.


  10. Ayaan Hirsi Ali would make a good President. Too bad she can't run. I'm surprised she hasn't converted to Judaism, Christianity or something other by now. She is high up there in the running for 'person getting most death threats in the world'

    Islam: 'The Strongest Retrograde Force in the World'
    By Roger Kimball November 24, 2015

    In the course of his remarks deploring the attacks and registering his solidarity with the French, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu uttered the phrase “militant Islamic terrorism” at least three times. Barack Obama, in his first remarks about the slaughter, did not mention Islam at all. The attack was, he said, not just an attack on Paris or the people of France but “an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.”

    The trouble is, it is patent that the “values” to which Barack Obama gestures are anything but “universal.” On the contrary, they are Western, liberal values that are conspicuously not shared by much of the world. They are most flagrantly not shared by Islamic culture. Religious freedom, including the freedom of apostasy, freedom of speech, equality before the law and between the sexes: these are a few bedrock Western values that are neither preached nor practiced by the dominant currents of Islamic thought.

    As Andrew C. McCarthy observed recently in “Islam and Free Speech,” whenever Muslim populations surge in Western countries, “so does support for jihadism and the sharia supremacist ideology that catalyzes it. The reason,” McCarthy continues, “is plain to see, even if Western elites remain willfully blind to it: for a not insignificant percentage of the growing Muslim millions in Europe, infiltration—by both mass immigration and the establishment of swelling Islamic enclaves—is a purposeful strategy of conquest, sometimes referred to as ‘voluntary apartheid.’” This, too, is inextricably at odds with those putatively “universal values” that Barack Obama invoked.

    In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Netanyahu described the attacks as part of “a war to reverse the triumph of the West.” He was right. But this is something that no amount of slaughter seems to bring home to a certain species of blinkered leftist. Around the time that Netanyahu offered his lapidary observation, a prominent Hezbollah leader explained that “we are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you.” Subsequent events have demonstrated with unexceptionable clarity what he meant.

    The Somali-born writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali outlined the correct response to the Paris attacks. The West, she wrote, must do “whatever it takes militarily to destroy ISIS and its so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq. Not ‘contain,’ not ‘degrade’—destroy, period.” Hirsi Ali is also right that ISIS is only the tip of the spear. The larger problem is “Islamic extremism,” a phrase that has been excised from the vocabulary of U.S. diplomacy but which names a reality that must be acknowledged if Western values are to prevail...............

    .................These days, it is worth noting, Islamic entities are scrambling to achieve mastery of “the strong arms of science,” as Iran’s rapidly accelerating nuclear program should remind us. “Death to America!” is a chant one often hears echoing from the mullah-besotted crowds in Iran. Ayaan Hirsi Ali outlined one possible course of action. Barack Obama, who seems to believe that the greatest threat to national security is Republicans, not ISIS, pointed to another when, a couple of days after the massacre in Paris, he noted impatiently that “what I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning or whatever other slogans they come up with. . . . I’m too busy for that.” It’s not pretty, but at least we know where we stand.


  11. Energy and Environment
    New study finds ‘no substantive evidence’ of a global warming ‘pause’

    By Chris Mooney November 24

    This National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) image shows the satellite sea surface temperature departure for the month of October 2015, where orange-red colors are above normal temperatures and are indicative of El Nino. (AFP Photo/Handout/NOAA)

    Even as Lamar Smith (R-Tx.), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, continues to investigate a high profile study from federal scientists debunking the idea of a global warming slowdown or “pause,” a new study reaches the same conclusion — in a different yet complementary way.

    “There is no substantive evidence for a ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’ in warming,” write Stephan Lewandowsky, a professor at the University of Bristol in the UK, and two colleagues in Tuesday’s Nature Scientific Reports. “We suggest that the use of those terms is therefore inaccurate.”............

    I have no idea what's going on with the climate. I rely on Professor Quirk.

    What I do dispute is the idea that 'terrorism' is linked to 'global warming' or 'climate change'.

    I think it is basically an Islamic phenomenon, regardless of the temperature.

    Why is it, I ask myself, that global warming doesn't cause the Christians in the middle east to become terrorists ? Or the Jews ?
    Why don't the Hindus become terrorists ? Or the Canadians ? Or, it's hot there, the Australians ?

  12. Hell of a 'deal' - and Iran provides it's own soil samples too -

    State Department: Iran Deal Is Not ‘Legally Binding’ and Iran Didn’t Sign It

    Secretary Kerry testies about the Iran nuclear deal, July 28, 2015. (Olivier Douliery/Getty) by Joel Gehrke November 24, 2015 7:35 PM @Joelmentum

    President Obama didn’t require Iranian leaders to sign the nuclear deal that his team negotiated with the regime, and the deal is not “legally binding,” his administration acknowledged in a letter to Representative Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) obtained by National Review.

    “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document,” wrote Julia Frifield, the State Department assistant secretary for legislative affairs, in the November 19 letter. Frifield wrote the letter in response to a letter Pompeo sent Secretary of State John Kerry, in which he observed that the deal the president had submitted to Congress was unsigned and wondered if the administration had given lawmakers the final agreement. Frifield’s response emphasizes that Congress did receive the final version of the deal. But by characterizing the JCPOA as a set of “political commitments” rather than a more formal agreement, it is sure to heighten congressional concerns that Iran might violate the deal’s terms. “The success of the JCPOA will depend not on whether it is legally binding or signed, but rather on the extensive verification measures we have put in place, as well as Iran’s understanding that we have the capacity to re-impose — and ramp up — our sanctions if Iran does not meet its commitments,” Frifield wrote to Pompeo.

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani discouraged his nation’s parliament from voting on the nuclear deal in order to avoid placing legal burdens on the regime. “If the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is sent to [and passed by] parliament, it will create an obligation for the government. It will mean the president, who has not signed it so far, will have to sign it,” Rouhani said in August. “Why should we place an unnecessary legal restriction on the Iranian people?”

    Read more at:

  13. SOUTHWEST ASIA, November 25, 2015 — U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

    Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

    Strikes in Syria

    Fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted five strikes in Syria:

    -- Near Hasakah, three strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Ayn Isa, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

    -- Near Mar’a, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

    Strikes in Iraq

    Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 18 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Beiji, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL building.

    -- Near Fallujah, one strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle bomb.

    -- Near Kisik, one strike destroyed an ISIL fighting position and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

    -- Near Makhmur, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

    -- Near Mosul, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL building, and suppressed an ISIL rocket position.

    -- Near Qayyarah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

    -- Near Ramadi, six strikes struck five separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL sniper position, two ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL homemade explosives cache, five ISIL weapons caches, an ISIL building, and wounded two ISIL fighters.

    -- Near Sinjar, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL vehicle and five ISIL bunkers.

    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.

    -- Near Tal Afar, one strike struck an ISIL headquarters.

    Definition of a ‘Strike’

    A strike, as defined in the CJTF releases, means one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect for that location.

    So, the officials said, having a single aircraft deliver a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike. Multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against a group of buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, with the cumulative effect of making that facility [or facilities] harder or impossible to use is also considered a single strike, task force officials said.

    Accordingly, CJTF-OIR does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in each strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.


  14. Adding another voice to the Dump Turkey From NATO list - a good time would be Thanksgiving Day -

    NATO Should Tell Turkey: ‘This Thanksgiving, You’re Dumped’

    by Raheem Kassam24 Nov 2015

    It’s time to dump Turkey from NATO, and immediately suspend its accession process to the European Union (EU). There, I said it.

    Some of us have been expressing deep concerns about the regress of the country of Ataturk for years, while others, including Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron and his European Parliamentary colleague Daniel Hannan MEP, have been agitating for an immediate inclusion of Turkey into the EU. It simply cannot happen.

    This morning’s downing of a Russian jet underscores the problems with Turkey’s NATO membership and EU accession. It is perhaps not the worst example of how Turkey is not fit to be in a formal military alliance with the United Kingdom and the United States, but it underscores the point that the country is simply not ready – not even as ready as it was pre-2000. The country has regressed in three key areas as far as Europe and the United States should be concerned: on security matters, on human rights matters, and as a hub for mass migration into Europe..........


  15. GLOBAL WARMING? NASA says Antarctic has been COOLING for past SIX years

    ANTARCTIC temperatures have cooled over the past six years, according to US space agency NASA.
    By Jon Austin

    PUBLISHED: 15:51, Wed, Nov 25, 2015 | UPDATED: 16:44, Wed, Nov 25, 201

    Heimdal Glacier in southern Greenland, in an image captured on Oct. 13, 2015, from NASA Langley Research Center's Falcon 20 aircraft flying 33,000 feet NASA

    Heimdal Glacier southern Greenland, from NASA's Falcon 20 aircraft at 33,000 feet above sea level.

    An intensive scientific study of both Earth's poles has found that from 2009 to 2016 overall temperature has dropped in the southern polar region.

    NASA’s Operation IceBridge is an airborne survey of polar ice and has finalized two overlapping research campaigns at both the poles.

    In the last few weeks NASA has revealed the overall amount of ice has increased at the Antarctic and the amount of sea ice has also extended.

    Coupled with the latest announcement of slight cooling in the area, it has fueled claims from climate change deniers that human industrialization is not having the huge impact on global temperature as often is claimed.

    Map showing the extent of ice during the NASA studies
    Related articles

    GLOBAL COOLING: Decade long ice age predicted as sun 'hibernates'
    CLIMATE CHANGE: What's the truth? Antarctic sea ice extent has...

    Christopher Shuman, a University of Maryland, Baltimore County glaciologist working at Goddard, said: "Field data suggests that there’s been a modest cooling in the area over the 2009–2015 time period, and images collected during that time by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on the Terra and Aqua satellites show more persistent fast ice (sea ice that is attached to the shore) in the Larsen A and Larsen B embayments”................

  16. I have some experience with the Ass stabbers. I lived and worked in Greece after the Turks absorbed parts of Cyprus, during the reign of the Generals and was declared persona non grata and asked to leave when “ King” Constantine made his countercoup, lost his nerve and took a powder to Italy. I was supposed to be on my way to Larnaca and then to an RAF base but after I became radio-active they sent me to Lakenheath in England.

    Since that time, I have watched what is happening in Turkey. I am convinced the Turks thought they were going to be able to carve off a nice piece of Syria when Assad fell. The Russians fucked em up and the ass stabbers are playing the Nato card. Fuck them. Dump them. They are less than worthless to Nato.

    1. Unfortunately the US has but one vote, among the 28 member states.

      A quick study would indicate that once a state is admitted to the Alliance, it is in for the duration.
      There is no facility for removing a member state from the Alliance. While there are rules for admitting a new member state. These require that all of the current member states sign off on any state entering the Alliance.

      Little chance for Israel making that cut.

    2. Article 10 poses two general limits to non-member states. First, only European states are eligible for new membership, and second, these states not only need the approval of all the existing member states, but every member state can put some criteria forward that have to be attained. In practice, NATO formulates a common set of criteria, but for instance Greece blocks the Republic of Macedonia's accession to NATO, due to the disagreement over the use of the name Macedonia. Turkey similarly opposes the participation of the Republic of Cyprus with NATO institutions as long as the Cyprus dispute is not resolved

      The Rule of Law is the Rule of Law.

  17. Paul Krugman - New York Times Blog

    It’s A Conspiracy!

    NOVEMBER 25, 2015 3:44 PM November 25, 2015 3:44 pm 32 Comments

    Greg Sargent has lately been driving home the point that Donald Trump just isn’t vulnerable to typical establishment attacks — at least in the Republican primary. (The general election might be different.) Catch him making an utterly false assertion, and his supporters just see it as the liberal media conspiring against him. It’s driving the establishment Republicans wild.

    But really, why should they be shocked? Think about what the establishment has to say on other issues. The chairman of the House science committee says that global warming is a fraud, perpetrated by a vast conspiracy at the NOAA, which is presumably part of a global scientific conspiracy. When the administration reported large numbers of people signing up for Obamacare, leading Republican Senators accused it of cooking the books — and I’m unaware of any apology or even acknowledgement that they were wrong. Rush Limbaugh claimed that one of the Batman films was an anti-Romney conspiracy. And on and on.

    So how are base voters supposed to know that Trump’s claims that the media suppressed films of Muslims cheering on 9/11 mark him as crazy, while all the other conspiracy theories on the right are OK? I guess someone could try to put out a cheat sheet listing acceptable and unacceptable tin-hat views; but Trump would just call that part of the conspiracy, and a lot of people would believe him.

    Sorry, guys, you created this monster, and now he’s coming for you.

    Paul Krugman

    1. That echoes the feelings of the Clinton crowd towards the continued attacks upon Hillary.

      The never ending Benghazi hearings, held by the House Oversight Committee, are just one example they point to..

  18. "I am convinced the Turks thought they were going to be able to carve off a nice piece of Syria when Assad fell."

    Interesting thought that probably has a lot of merit.

    Gobble up the Turkmen parts along the border......

    Some in the Turkish opposition party(s) are saying the attack was planned, not just a response to a violation.....


  19. Putin: In Recent Years Turkey "Has Been Pursuing A Policy Of Internal Islamization"
    Posted on November 25, 2015

    Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the Turkish President Erdogan of "pursuing an internal policy of Islamisation in the country" for Turkey.

    Pro Western-rebellions were violenty put down in Turkey last year, while Kurdish rebels have been in a state of war with the Turks for many years.

    VLADIMIR PUTIN: We see, and we are not alone I assure you, it is seen all over the world, that current Turkish leadership for a considerable number of years has been pursuing an internal policy of islamization in the country.

    We are talking about the support for more radical directions which creates a very hostile environment and atmosphere that is not visible at when it is first seen, that is first, secondly, after what happened yesterday, we cannot exclude any other incidents. And if that happens we will somehow have to react to it.

    And our citizens in Turkey may be under significant risk and the Foreign Ministry is obliged to inform about it.


    1. Pro Western-rebellions were violently put down in Turkey last year

    2. All rebellions are put down, Draft Dodger.
      The US led the way in legitimizing mass destruction when a government is faced with insurrection.

      Atlanta was burned to the ground..

    3. Why do some Turks approve of Islamic State terrorism?

      On Nov. 17 at a friendly soccer match between Turkey and Greece, a group of Turkish spectators interrupted a minute of silence honoring the victims of the Nov. 13 Islamic State (IS) attacks in Paris, whistling, chanting slogans and shouting “Allahu Akbar.” There are three important reasons why this incident, at Istanbul’s Basaksehir Stadium, cannot be dismissed as an ordinary act of hooliganism.

      Turkish football fans' disruption of moments of silence for victims of Islamic State attacks in Paris and in Turkey show support for IS and stem from the domestic and foreign policies of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

      Author Kadri Gursel Posted November 23, 2015
      TranslatorSibel Utku Bila

      First, the protest illustrates that a segment of Turkish society clearly approves of IS terrorism. Second, it reflects an alarming sense of estrangement from the victims and the communities to which they belong. This lack of empathy could well stem from the callousness of excluding “the other” (and possibly lead to one’s own sense of exclusion being transformed into radical hostility expressed in violent action). Third, the whistles and chants, which continued during the Greek national anthem, demonstrate how Turkey’s political culture has changed since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002.

      For 13 years, large segments of Turkish society have been under the strong influence of a multifaceted project promoting Islamic conservatism, which the AKP has pushed systematically through its political leadership, the police and judiciary, the education system, the media, social networks and local administrations. The drive has markedly intensified since 2011, a milestone year during which the AKP won general elections with 50% of the vote, weeded out Kemalists in the military and embarked on a regional policy aimed at toppling the Bashar al-Assad regime in neighboring Syria.

      The AKP government, which has evolved into the “Erdogan regime,” has sought through social engineering campaigns to permanently reshape Turkey and consolidate its power. Islamist radicalization has been one of the by-products of this political culture, which can generally be described as Islamist, pro-Sunni and Ottomanist. The whistles and chants of “Allahu Akbar” during the moment of silence in the Basaksehir district, an AKP stronghold, were the very reflection of this radicalization.

      According to Cumhuriyet, members of the AKP’s youth branch, attending free of charge, had set off the disruption, which then spread among others in the stands. In other words, the daily's reporting traced the source of the disturbance to the government..............

      Read more:

      Maybe the Turks, too, will begin killing one another.

      Who knows ?


  20. How might a NATO member country be expelled from the organization?

    What political/military events and member country behaviors can lead members to being expelled from NATO? Are there any provisions in the treaty that describe the expulsion procedure?

    For example, if a member country was found assisting terrorist organizations, would this be a compelling reason? (e.g. if Turkey was found assisting ISIS, or a bunch of other jihadist organizations in the region that are collectively equally destructive to Western interests, as part its grand agenda of creating a political Islamist, anti-American, anti-Western, Sunni bloc in the Middle East, bolstered by other systematic parallel efforts like forging an alliance with the Muslim Brothers and toppling Assad in Syria to bring them to power there.) What if the organization in question was targeting another member country directly? (e.g. if France was found assisting PKK, the Kurdish separatist terrorist organization in Turkey.) Finally, what if Turkey assisted Russia (who NATO was created against) invade Poland (a NATO member) in exchange for cheap oil & gas for itself and cheap arms for the Sunni bloc?
    1 Answer
    Mark Binfield
    Mark Binfield, IR is what I do
    635 Views • Mark has 80+ answers in International Relations.
    Mark has 4 endorsements in Foreign Policy.
    There are no specific provisions for expelling a NATO member, and it's never been done, so this answer can't be anything more than informed speculation. However, I think it's safe to say that the threshold would be extremely high. A direct attack by one member against another might be enough, but even when NATO members Turkey and Greece nearly went to war with each other (repeatedly) no one suggested that their membership in NATO was at stake.

    In general, it's extremely rare for a member to be expelled from an international organization, even when they are in clear violation of their responsibilities and the organization does have formal mechanisms for sanctioning its members. A member of an international organization may have its privileges -such as voting rights - suspended if it is in clear violation of the organizations rules, especially if it is failing to meet its financial obligations to support the organization's function. But it's very rare for members to leave an international organization entirely, and when it happens it's generally by voluntary withdrawal. There's an excellent primer on international organization membership (from which I derived the insights in this paragraph) at

    More likely than a nation actually leaving NATO would be a member becoming estranged: ceasing participation in NATO's structures while remaining officially a member. France withdrew from the NATO operational command structure for several decades without ever leaving the organization itself. However, that was a voluntary decision by France. It's not entirely clear how an estrangement would happen if it weren't voluntary. The North Atlantic Council, the policy-making body of NATO, is a consensus body, meaning that a member could theoretically veto any type sanctions against it.

    With a strong enough motivation the other NATO member would simply do it, and screw the formalities. But don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen. Generally when a country is ready to engage in behavior that overtly contradicts treaty obligation, it's also ready to withdraw from the treaty. That's why North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and why the U.S. withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty.

  21. This can get confusing -

    1) They discovered that the Turkmen were not really loyal to Turkey and were more loyal to their Shia identity; in the first elections after the 2003 invasion, the Turkmen party received an embarrassingly low number of votes. And 2) Turkmen militias were involved in plot to kill the governor of Kirkuk [in Iraq]. So it has always backfired for them.

    If the Turks play this card again now, it will be slightly different because the Turkmen in Syria are Sunni, not Shia, so it's a somewhat different situation. But the point is that when you have groups like that, they don't necessarily obey your rules, and they create problems for you down the road.

    The little-known group at the center of the Turkey-Russia crisis
    Jennifer Williams

    The Turks have more in common with the Turkmen in Syria than with those in Turkey itself.