“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."

Friday, December 11, 2015

US State Department Spokesman on Turkey-Iraq Feud Gets a Little Rattled

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S.-Russian tensions broke out in undiplomatic fashion in an unlikely place Thursday: the State Department briefing room.
What began with a series of tough, if suggestive, questions from a correspondent for Russian government-funded news ended with department spokesman John Kirby delivering an uncharacteristically severe indictment of Russian military activity in Syria and press conduct.
Kirby also unloaded on the RT television channel and its reporter, Gayane Chichakyan.
"I can't believe that you aren't embarrassed to ask these questions," Kirby said several minutes into the back-and-forth with Chichakyan, whose questioning has previously prompted sharp — if more restrained — exchanges. "You have to be looking at these questions and almost laughing to yourself, don't you? They're absolutely crazy."
The subject was the ongoing Turkish-Iraqi spat over Turkish military forces in Iraq. Turkey has stationed troops near Mosul since 2014, but the arrival of additional servicemen last week prompted an uproar in Baghdad, forcing Turkey to halt the new deployment.
Chichakyan asked if the U.S. was somehow responsible because it wants nations to send personnel into Syria and Iraq to fight the Islamic State.
Kirby said all U.S. military assistance in Iraq is coordinated with Iraq's government, and any suggestion otherwise is "just a completely baseless charge."
"I don't think it's worth having any more discussions about it," he said.
But the conversation continued.
When Chichakyan asked why the U.S. was essentially saying, "It's none of our business," Kirby shot back, "Again, another ridiculous question." He said the U.S. was letting Turkey and Iraq work out their differences so everyone else can focus on fighting IS — "which, by the way, the Russians aren't doing."
Washington says Moscow's airstrikes since September have focused on shoring up Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and not, as the Russians claim, with defeating IS.
After Chichakyan demanded to know which of the questions were "ridiculous," Kirby expanded his critique.
"You can ask whatever you want. ... You can do that here in the United States," he said. "But I don't see you asking those same questions of your own government about ISIL in Syria. And I would really like to see those questions get asked."
Chichakyan told The Associated Press after the briefing, "I am not embarrassed."


  1. Friday, 11 December 2015

    Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said it was “out of the question for the moment” that Turkish troops would withdraw from Iraq, after Baghdad accused Ankara of sending them in without permission.

    The row has badly soured relations and saw the Turkish ambassador to Iraq summoned on Saturday to demand that Turkey immediately withdraw hundreds of troops deployed in recent days in northern Iraq, near the ISIS-controlled city of Mosul.

    Iraq’s foreign ministry said Turkish forces had entered Iraqi territory without the knowledge of Baghdad, which viewed their presence as a “hostile act”.

    Speaking at a news conference, Erdogan said the troops were there to train Kurdish peshmerga fighters and not for combat purposes. He reiterated an earlier statement that they had been deployed following an invitation by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi last year.

    “The number of our soldiers (in northern Iraq) might increase or decrease depending on the number of peshmerga being trained,” Erdogan stated.

    “Withdrawing our soldiers is out of the question for the moment.”

  2. Kirby shot back, ”Again, another ridiculous question.” He said the U.S. was letting Turkey and Iraq work out their differences so everyone else can focus on fighting IS — “which, by the way, the Russians aren’t doing.”


    Turkey’s Prime Minister on Thursday evening told U.S. Vice President Joe Biden by telephone that Turkey respects Iraq’s sovereignty, amid a row over Turkish troops deployed in Iraqi territory, prime ministry sources said.

    U.S. officials requested the call, the sources said, in which Davutoglu emphasized that Ankara stands alongside Baghdad in its struggle against Islamic State. A letter expressing these sentiments was also being delivered to the Iraqi PM by a high level Turkish delegation.


    from The New Yorker

    The Turkish move into Iraq is the latest in a series of geopolitical flailings by the blustering and impulsive Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Most of them are related to the civil war in Syria. Since 2011, when the Syrian uprising began, Erdoğan has sought to gain some kind of advantage there, or at least to feel sure that he is backing the right horse. And he’s failed miserably. As much as any other leader in the region, Erdoğan has pushed vigorously for the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. To see this through, the Turkish government has backed the most extreme rebel groups, including ISIS, allowing and even helping foreign fighters to come into Turkey and cross into Syria. ISIS would never have metastasized as virulently as it has without Turkey’s assistance.

    The Turkish policy in Syria matched its efforts elsewhere in the Middle East in the early years of the Arab Spring. Wherever he could, Erdoğan backed parties linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Sunni Islamist movement that Erdoğan’s own political party, known by its Turkish initials, A.K.P., grew out of.

    The Muslim Brotherhood has been routed across the Middle East, most notably in Egypt, where its leaders are either in prison or dead. In Syria, Assad is standing stronger than he has in months. (Remember when, in 2013, President Obama decided not to use force against Assad after he crossed the “red line” by using chemical weapons? No one was angrier at President Obama than Erdoğan.) Assad—a member of the Alawite sect, a minority group in Syria with strong ties to Shiite Islam—was rescued by the Iranians; by Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, which sent thousands of troops into Syria to bolster the regime; and, most recently, by Russia. Since September, when Russian President Vladimir Putin mobilized his forces in Syria, the Russians have carried out hundreds of airstrikes against rebel targets. Assad’s government, which was teetering, is safe for now.

    Then came Turkey’s downing of the Russian fighter jet last month. Erdoğan, his Syria policy in a shambles, had picked a fight with his vastly more powerful neighbor. Putin, acting like the calculating former intelligence officer that he is, then unloaded a trove of intelligence that revealed the extent of Turkey’s official coöperation with ISIS oil smuggling. It’s been a bad a month for Erdoğan.

  5. Juan Cole insists at The Nation, “ISIS Wants a Clash of the Civilizations: Let’s Not Give In”. Juan, like Biden, doesn’t seem to realize that it only takes one side to start a war.

    This 'Juan Cole' guy is really a gas.


    What ISIS Really Wants? To Kill You
    Beating ISIS is exactly what it wants and other crazy media fantasies.
    December 11, 2015
    Daniel Greenfield

    Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.

    Since 9/11, America has been plagued with a media industry churning out counterintuitive “What do the terrorists want” pieces. Sure you might think that the terrorists “want to kill you”. But profound media thinkers who know all about Islam without ever having read the Koran know that what the terrorists really want is for us to kill them. Every time we bombed them, we were just “playing into their hands.”

    Today the same bad ideas are being brushed off for insipid “What does ISIS want” thinkpieces which conclude that what ISIS wants most is for us to deviate from the media’s favorite progressive policies.

    After letting ISIS overrun its half-dozen countries, the same geniuses responsible for the mess began claiming that what ISIS really fears is more of their failed policies. And what it really wants is Republican policies. If you support bombing terrorists or keeping them out of the country, you’re helping ISIS.

    According to Obama, ISIS wants us to turn to “tough talk” and begin “abandoning our values” by keeping Syrian Muslim migrants out. After the Oval Office speech was done, the Caliph of ISIS probably threw up his hands and told his fellow terrorists, “It’s no use. This Hussein fellow just won’t talk tough. We’re doomed. Sure we’ll keep on killing Americans, but what good will it do if he won’t talk tough?”

    Biden informed Americans that, “It’s clear what ISIL wants. They want to manufacture a clash between civilizations. They want frightened people to think in terms of ‘us versus them.’” Whereas our leaders know better than to think in such terms, unless the “thems” are Republicans in which case it’s okay.

    But ISIS doesn’t care whether we think in terms of “us versus them”, because that’s how ISIS already thinks. The clash of civilizations is here. But according to Biden, what ISIS wants us is for us to recognize that reality. And if we refuse to recognize it, our denial will somehow defeat ISIS in an ostrich victory.

    The media is full of unofficial progressive ISIS spokesmen eager to tell us “exactly” what the terror group wants. And according to them, it really wants to be beaten, humiliated and hated.

    "Trump's Muslim Ban Is Exactly What ISIS Wants," shrieks Think Progress. Because if there’s one thing that ISIS really wants, it’s to prevent its terrorists from being able to reach the United States.

    ISIS wants a Muslim ban almost as much as Think Progress’ editors want to be dumped in ISIS territory wearing only giant slabs of bacon and cartoons of Mohammed.

    Their level of debate is about that of a contrary six-year-old. “Go to bed.” “No, that’s what ISIS wants me to do.” “Eat your breakfast.” “No, ISIS wants me to eat my breakfast. I’ll be playing into its hands.”

    “Turning Away Syrian Refugees is Exactly What ISIS Wants,” the Huffington Post suggests. What could ISIS possibly want more than for us to “turn away” 1,300 ISIS supporters?

    Maybe being shot in the head by a United States Marine. And, guess what?

    According to The Week, “ISIS wants the US to send group troops”. Almost as much as Hitler wanted American tanks in Berlin.

    1. Also ISIS really, really wants to be hated.

      “ISIS Wants You to Hate Muslims”, The Nation declares. “Hating Muslims plays right into the Islamic State's hands,” echoes the Washington Post. “Want to Help ISIS? Hate a Muslim” adds the Huffington Post.

      Conveniently ISIS only seems to want the very things that leftists don’t want. And the possibilities are endless. “Let’s abolish ObamaCare”. “No, that’s what ISIS wants.” “Let’s drop our subscriptions to the Washington Post and The Nation”. “Don’t you understand, that’s what ISIS wants you to do!”

      So far ISIS wants to be bombed, shot, kept out of America and Europe. And hated. It probably also doesn’t want to be invited to anyone’s birthday parties and enjoys calls from telemarketers.

      This masochistic Islamic State has some serious self-esteem issues. Or maybe it’s the leftists who claim to speak for it who do.

      “ISIS wants us to close borders”, someone at Greenville News insists. According to Storypick, “ISIS wants the world to hate them”. From the fever swamps of AlterNet, we learn that “ISIS Wants the Paris Climate Talks to Fail.” According to Haaretz, ISIS wants LePen to win in France. ISIS also probably wants the Patriots to win the Super Bowl and doesn’t think Bruce Jenner is either “stunning” or “beautiful”.

      At the Huffington Post, the lead singer of Switchfoot informs us that he, "Looked up at the ceiling and asked the darkness, "What does ISIS want?"

      The Caliph of ISIS however isn’t lying in bed, looking up at the darkness and wondering what the guitarist for an annoying alternative band wants. That’s one reason why he’s winning and we aren’t.

      ISIS is vicious, but it isn’t neurotic. Meanwhile the leftists looking into the darkness keep coming up with very specific things that ISIS “exactly” wants from us.

      “This vile cartoon portrayal of refugees is just what Isis wants”, a Guardian headline blares.

      According to The Independent, “The needless interrogation of a Belgian academic is exactly what Isis wants from us”. That’s an oddly specific wish on the part of ISIS, but who am I to argue with a publication that also offers me Hamas supporter Jeremy Corbyn singing Happy Birthday, an orangutan laughing and “Five words everyone should hear on gun control” from Jennifer Aniston.

      (The monkey would probably have a more informed opinion on gun control than Jennifer Aniston.)

      The “Belgian academic” turns out to be Montasser Alde’emeh, a “Palestinian” who describes Muslim terrorism against Jews as “legitimate”.

    2. But if we interrogate the sorts of “Belgian academics” who say things like, “According to Islam all conditions for armed resistance have been met”, we’re giving ISIS what it wants.

      “Exactly what it wants”.

      The only way to frustrate ISIS is to let terrorist sympathizers run free. And then ISIS will have to throw up its hands in defeat and kill another few hundred people.

      “Isis wants an insane, medieval race war – and we’ve decided to give them one,” the Guardian declares.

      Technically ISIS is the one giving us an “insane, medieval race war”, the same insane medieval race war practiced by Mohammed, but it wouldn’t be the Guardian if it didn’t find a way to blame us for it.

      “It’s hard to think of a more poetic metaphor for our utter lack of ideas than spending several years dropping high explosives on to a desert,” a British hipster at the leftist publication complains.

      We haven’t come up with any new ideas for winning wars except killing people. Shame on us. Where’s our creativity?

      Juan Cole insists at The Nation, “ISIS Wants a Clash of the Civilizations: Let’s Not Give In”. Juan, like Biden, doesn’t seem to realize that it only takes one side to start a war.

      It doesn’t matter if we sit in our corner of civilization with our hands folded refusing to fight. That just makes ISIS’ job a lot easier. Killing people who don’t resist is easier than killing those who do.

      Unlike Bin Laden, ISIS doesn’t beat around the bush. It tells everyone “exactly” what it wants.

      “The attack by the Islamic State in America is only the beginning of our efforts to establish a wiliyah [Islamic territory] in the heart of our enemy.” It calls for an alliance with “left-winged activists” opposed to Israel to “pave the way for the conquest of Rome”.

      But this is much too obvious for the media’s “left-winged activists” who obsessively flip around reality until they can prove that the only way to defeat ISIS is by taking in millions of Muslim migrants and refusing to fight ISIS.

      Because letting ISIS beat us is exactly what ISIS is afraid of. But beating ISIS is exactly what it wants.

    3. There's only so much time in a day, so one must pick the most reasonable, knowledgeable and reliable of the sources out there.

      The Nation doesn't make the cut.

  6. .

    From Washington state...

    For the past three years, every police recruit in the state has undergone this style of training at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, where officials are determined to produce “guardians of democracy” who serve and protect instead of “warriors” who conquer and control.

    Gone is the military-boot-camp atmosphere. Gone are the field exercises focused on using fists and weapons to batter suspects into submission. Gone, too, is a classroom poster that once warned recruits that “officers killed in the line of duty use less force than their peers.”

    “If your overarching identity is ‘I’m a warrior,’ then you will approach every situation like you must conquer and win,” said Sue Rahr, the commission’s executive director. “You may have a conflict where it is necessary for an officer to puff up and quickly take control. But in most situations, it’s better if officers know how to de-escalate, calm things down, slow down the action.”

    Training is at the heart of the national debate over police use of force. So far this year, police have shot and killed more than 900 people, according to a Washington Post database tracking such shootings — more than twice the number recorded in any previous year by federal officials. Anti-brutality activists and some law enforcement leaders argue that if police were better trained to de-escalate conflict, some of those people might still be alive.

    Rahr, the former sheriff of King County, is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on this type of training. In April, the Harvard Kennedy School published a report she co-wrote, “From Warriors to Guardians: Recommitting American Police Culture to Democratic Ideals,” which warns that too many academies are training police officers to go to “war with the people we are sworn to protect and serve.”

    The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, of which Rahr is a member, has embraced many of these principles. In August, the Police Executive Research Forum, a law enforcement think tank, followed suit...



    1. {...}

      From the other side...

      Not everyone is on board. Some accuse Rahr of promoting a “hug-a-thug” mentality that risks getting officers killed. About 20 percent of Rahr’s staff quit or was fired in the first year after rebelling against her reforms. Even today, Rahr estimates that two-thirds of the state’s 285 local police chiefs are either skeptical of her training philosophy or “think this is just dangerous.”

      Alexis Artwohl, a former police psychologist and consultant to the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association, would not comment on Rahr’s work but is skeptical of some guardian-style training. Artwohl has co-written a book on deadly force whose promotional blurb begins: “In a cop’s world it’s kill or be killed.”

      Artwohl compares police work to defensive driving, which is about “expecting something bad is going to happen. It’s not about dealing with normal traffic flow.”

      “We should go out there and expect something bad will happen and watch for it,” she said. “If we are not paying attention, we could die.”

      Samuel Walker, a national expert on police training, said the two approaches have long been present in American policing. But the debate over which should dominate has intensified in the past year, since protests erupted over the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo.

      “There is war going on for the soul of policing in America,” Walker said. “The outcome is uncertain.”


    2. All that is coming from the flakes west of the Cascades, heavily Democratic country.

    3. Everywhere you got oceans nearby or rivers of commerce you got Democrats.

  7. Cursed be Obama - and the unwitting fools who voted for him too -

    Jihad Watch
    Exposing the role that Islamic jihad theology and ideology play in the modern global conflicts

    Muslim Persecution of Christians — Call it what it is: GENOCIDE

    December 10, 2015 11:59 pm By Ralph Sidway

    Most likely, the Obama administration will not label Muslim persecution of Christians genocide, as it would be in direct conflict with Obama’s narrative, that there is nothing inherently Islamic about the Islamic State. Admit genocide against the Yazidis, by all means. Give up a few points there to provide the appearance of action and toughness. But to acknowledge that the Islamic State is committing genocide against Christians would be to admit that there is a specifically religious dimension to the persecution, thus immediately bringing Islam itself under even greater scrutiny.

    Too late, Mr. President. More and more people are waking up and coming to realize that there is something very dark and sinister at the core of Islam.

    Islam is the problem. It mandates jihad and persecution against Christians, Jews and all non-Muslims. The Koran says what it means and means what it says:

    Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth [i.e. Islam] among the people of the Book [Jews and Christians], until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (Sura 9:29)

    Why don’t you repent, Mr. President, Mr. Secretary, and join us? Call Muslim persecution of Christians by its name: Genocide. Your conscience will thank you for it. So will Christians the world over. The Islamic State will continue committing genocide regardless of what you do, unless Putin stops them.

  8. Obama's really a true turd. I'll be sooooo glad when he's out of office -

    December 11, 2015

    Disgraceful White House Hanukkah celebration

    By Thomas Lifson

    Leave to Barack Obama to turn what should be a celebration of the Jewish people’s survival in the face of adversity into a politicized rant celebrating the cause of the Palestinians, who want to “drive them into the sea,” as has been promised since the birth of the modern State of Israel.

    Daniel Greenfield reports on what should have been the highlight of this year’s White House ceremony at Front Page Magazine:

    …the White House chose Susan Talve to light the Menorah. Talve is a member of the anti-Israel group T'ruah which is currently promoting assorted "soft BDS" programs. She's also a Ferguson activist. Her behavior was deeply insulting to the religious Jewish community and made it clear that the White House was determined to hijack even a Chanukah party to promote an anti-Jewish agenda.

    So the general conviviality of the Chanukah party was disrupted by a crazed rant from Susan Talve in which she seemed determined to jam as many leftist talking points as possible in her limited time. Instead of talking about Chanukah, Talve blathered on about getting, "guns off our streets" and to "clean up the fires of toxic nuclear waste".

    Talve screeched, "I stand here with my fierce family of clergy and black lives matter activists who took to the streets of Ferguson".

    Having celebrated the race riots which destroyed a community, she pivoted to Syrian Muslim migrants. Chanukah is a celebration of the Maccabees defeating a Syrian occupation, but Talve may not even know that. Radical clergy tend to be light on the religion and heavy on the social justice.

    Instead she rambled on about how the "gates of this nation would stay open for all immigrants and all refugees".

    Then, not satisfied with having made a disgrace of the Chanukah ceremony, Susan Talve declared, "I stand here to light these lights to say no the darkness of Islamophobia and Homophobia and Transphobia."

    Talve babbled about insuring "justice for Palestinians" and began gleefully chanting, "Ins'Allah, Ins'Allah". Or "Allah Willing".

    I don't recall Susan Talve mentioning G-d or a word of Jewish scripture. Indeed she spent more time talking about Muslims than about anything in Judaism. And yet that's typical for Social justice clergy who have no organic ties to Judaism.

    I am nauseated.

    Does anyone remember a White House Iftar dinner calling for an end to Islamic persecution of Jews? I didn’t think so.

    Hat tip: Clarice Feldman

  9. ALL RELIGIOUS BULLSHIT should be illegal on Government Property. Period.

  10. In fact, we should close the borders to all "religious" crazies - especially Christians, Jews, and Muslims.

  11. Vote Trump.

    You might actually get 1/3 of what you wish.

    Think of it as a 'good start'.


    1. Go away, and leave me alone. You're an ignorant, bigoted asshole.

    2. Go away; and leave me alone. You're an ignorant, bigoted asshole.

  12. .

    In a ceremony that should be as innocuous as the annual 'pardon of the turkey', Obama goes out of his way to insult the very people he has invited to the celebration. This is not the first time. He does it every time he gets a chance. It’s merely a another sop to his left-wing base, inappropriate and to my mind disgusting.

    Susan Talve is a nut job with a bifurcated mind. On the one hand, she describes and supports 'militant nonviolent protests' an oxymoron while at the same time excusing Israel and blaming the Palestinians and the media for the 2100 dead in Gaza last summer. The article was right in condemning Obama for the choice of speaker and her for the subject matter of the screed.

    On the other hand, you see where the author is coming from in the following criticism of Talve,
    Radical clergy tend to be light on the religion and heavy on the social justice.


    Instead she rambled on about how the "gates of this nation would stay open for all immigrants and all refugees.

    To other than right-wing nut jobs, these would likely be considered good things.

    There is a growing and troubling dichotomy growing in the USA and exploited by nuts on both sides. The choices presented are stark.

    Who do you root for the Weather Underground or the KKK?


    1. .

      Religion vs social justice? I'll take the social justice.

      Insulting your guests at a party? Boorish and crude.


    2. Your mere presence at any party would be insulting enough.

  13. Friday, December 11, 2015

    Paul Krugman: Empowering the Ugliness

    Reaping what they've sown:

    Empowering the Ugliness, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: We live in an era of political news that is, all too often, shocking but not surprising. The rise of Donald Trump definitely falls into that category. And so does the electoral earthquake that struck France in Sunday’s regional elections, with the right-wing National Front winning more votes than either of the major mainstream parties. ...

    Let me start with ... Europe..., from an American perspective it looks as if Europe’s establishment has tried to freeze the xenophobic right, not just out of political power, but out of any role in acceptable discourse. ...
    What the European establishment may not have realized, however, is that its ability to define the limits of discourse rests on the perception that it knows what it is doing. ...The European project ... has never had deep popular support...

    And there’s nothing quite like sustained poor economic performance ... brought on by Europe’s austerity and hard-money obsessions ... to undermine the elite’s reputation for competence. That’s probably why one recent study found a consistent historical relationship between financial crises and the rise of right-wing extremism. And history is repeating itself.

    The story is quite different in America, because the Republican Party hasn’t tried to freeze out the kind of people who vote National Front in France. Instead, it has tried to exploit them, mobilizing their resentment via dog whistles to win elections. ...

    But there is a strong element of bait-and-switch to this strategy. Whatever dog whistles get sent during the campaign, once in power the G.O.P. has made serving the interests of a small, wealthy economic elite, especially through big tax cuts, its main priority...

    Sooner or later the angry whites who make up a large fraction, maybe even a majority, of the G.O.P. base were bound to rebel...

    So along comes Donald Trump, saying bluntly the things establishment candidates try to convey in coded, deniable hints, and sounding as if he really means them. And he shoots to the top of the polls. Shocking..., but hardly surprising. ...

    What I am saying ... is that this ugliness has been empowered by the very establishments that now act so horrified... In Europe the problem is the arrogance and rigidity of elite figures who refuse to learn from economic failure; in the U.S. it’s the cynicism of Republicans who summoned up prejudice to support their electoral prospects. And now both are facing the monsters they helped create.

    Economists View

  14. .

    Vladimir Putin has vowed Russia’s military will “immediately destroy” any target threatening them in Syria, representing a strong warning to Turkey following its shooting down of a Russian warplane at the Syrian border.

    Speaking at a meeting with senior commanders in Moscow, Putin said the military should respond with full force to any “further provocations”, adding that additional aircraft and air defence weapons have been sent to the Russian base near Latakia.

    “I order you to act in the toughest way,” the Russian president said. “Any targets threatening the Russian groups of forces or our land infrastructure should be immediately destroyed.”
    At least 50 dead after Isis truck-bomb attacks in Kurdish-controlled Syria
    Read more

    In continuing violence, Islamic State claimed responsibility for a triple suicide truck bombing that killed 50 to 60 Kurds in Tell Tamer in the Hasaka area of northern Syria, while the UN said it was sending its senior relief official, Stephen O’Brien, to Damascus to examine the deteriorating humanitarian situation.

    The downing of the Russian bomber by a Turkish fighter jet on 24 November, the first time a Nato member shot down a Russian plane in more than half a century, has badly strained relations between Moscow and Ankara.

    Turkey said it downed the plane after it violated its airspace for 17 seconds despite repeated warnings. Russia has insisted the plane remained in Syrian airspace. Putin denounced the Turkish action as a “treacherous stab in the back”.

    Putin said Russian military action in Syria was essential to protect Russia from extremists based there, adding that fending off that threat is the main goal of the air campaign he launched on 30 September. The campaign took advantage of western disarray and galvanised efforts to end the four-and-a-half-year war...

    Putin makes it clear that despite Russia's other geopolitical interests Syria, its main purpose in intervening is to keep the growing Islamic radicalism there from spreading even further into Russia. With this being his key concern, it is likely he would sacrifice Assad if he could still achieve his other objectives.

    However, with his latest statement and implied threat to Turkey, he also points out once again how little it would take to have Syria grow into a much more dangerous situation.

    If anyone can tear NATO apart, Erdogan seems like the guy.


  15. Gains Made Against ISIL in Syria, Iraq, Coalition Spokesman Says
    By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

    WASHINGTON, December 10, 2015 — Forces fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant continue to make progress, including with the killing of three ISIL leaders, the Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman said today.

    "Across Iraq and Syria, we believe that we're continuing to achieve some good effects," Army Col. Steve Warren told Pentagon reporters.

    Warren, who spoke via video conference from Baghdad, said coalition strikes killed three ISIL leaders in late November. Those killed, he said, were Abu Salah, ISIL's financial minister; Abu Maryam, an ISIL enforcer and senior leader of ISIL's extortion network; and Abu Rahman al-Tunisi, who coordinated the transfer of information, people and weapons.

    "Their removal will degrade ISIL's ability to command and control troops, and it disrupts their ability to finance their efforts," Warren said.

    The strikes, Warren said, are an example of how the coalition is able to decimate ISIL's networks.

    Warren said the commander of U.S. Central Command, Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, visited Iraq last week and said indigenous forces in Syria and Iraq are on the offensive or holding ground that has been retaken from the terrorists.

    "We are gaining momentum against ISIL, and I remain confident in our approach and confident that, while it will take time, we will defeat them," Austin said during the visit, Warren told reporters.

    The fight against ISIL, Warren said, relates to ISIL's expansion in other areas such as North Africa and the Sinai. ISIL will take the path of least resistance, he added.

    "As we continue to degrade their capability here in their stronghold of Iraq and Syria, we have to expect and plan for them to try to attempt to gain footholds elsewhere," the colonel said.

    1. Remembering the Fallen

      Iraqi security forces pressed south from the Palestine Bridge and seized and liberated the Anbar operations center in Ramadi two days ago, Warren noted.

      The Iraqi forces have seized and secured Tamim, the largest neighborhood in Ramadi. No more enemy fighters are believed to be inside that neighborhood, Warren said.

      It is significant to mention, Warren said, the Ramadi successes come nine years almost to the day when three U.S. service members -- Army Capt. Travis Patriquin, Marine Corps Maj. Megan McClung and Army Spc. Vincent Pomante -- were killed by a roadside bomb, Dec. 6, 2006.

      Patriquin was the "heart and soul" behind the Anbar Awakening in many ways, Warren said, adding that he mentioned the fallen because the Anbar operations center the Iraqis "fought so hard and so long to liberate" was named in honor of Patriquin.

      Syrian Gains

      The Syrian democratic forces continue to liberate territory held by ISIL in northern Syria, Warren said.

      On Dec. 7, the Syrian democratic forces liberated the villages of Kan and Suwy, located south of Hawl, he said, noting that those villages give them a stronger foothold as they move toward Shadaddi.

      During a five-week campaign, the Syrian democratic forces have liberated nearly 1,000 square kilometers and coordinated with coalition forces for 142 strikes, he said. Those strikes, Warren added, have killed an estimated 500 enemy fighters and have destroyed 143 ISIL fighting positions, 43 vehicles and one checkpoint.


  16. SOUTHWEST ASIA, December 11, 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 four strikes in Syria:

    -- Near Raqqah, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle and wounded ISIL fighters.

    -- Near Mar’a, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL staging area.

    Strikes in Iraq

    Attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 21 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

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

    -- Near Mosul, five strikes struck five separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL checkpoint, three ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL heavy machine gun, and an ISIL vehicle.

    -- Near Qayyarah, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL vehicle bomb factory.

    -- Near Ramadi, five strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL bed-down location, an ISIL vehicle bomb, and an ISIL staging area.

    -- Near Sinjar, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL vehicle, and suppressed an ISIL sniper position.

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

    -- Near Baghdadi, one strike cratered four ISIL-used roads.

    -- Near Fallujah, one strike destroyed two ISIL bed down locations.

    -- Near Habbaniyah, one strike cratered two ISIL-used roads.

    -- Near Tikrit, one strike destroyed two ISIL bunkers.

    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.


    1. Rufus you seem to just love bombing, what with your daily scorecard.

      Alas, the majority opinion, and in our military too, seems to be that bombing alone, though it seems to have slowed ISIS down, is not going to hack it to rid the earth of these bastards.

      Attacking 'bed down' positions and some cratering of roads isn't going to do it.

  17. ( al-Anbar – The leader of al-Hashed al-Sha’bi in Ramadi, Gen. Yusuf al-Asal, announced on Friday, that the joint security forces have begun the military operation to liberate Ramadi Island from ISIS, pointing out to the participation of 500 tribal fighters in the operation.

    Asal said in a statement received by, “A force from Anbar Operations, backed by tribal fighters, began an operation to liberate Ramadi Island from ISIS and gain control over it,” noting that, “The operation was carried out with an air cover by the international coalition.”

    “500 fighters from the sons of the clans in al-Hashed have participated in the operation after arriving yesterday in the northern axis of the city of Ramadi,” he also added.


  18. Deuce wants a political system free of big money. He should vote for Trump on this basis.

    He is the only self financing candidate out there. I have yet to receive a solicitation of funds from The Donald, as I have from most of the others, including Hillary.

    Rufus, we wishes to ban any immigration by anyone with any religion, obviously ought to vote for Trump as he wishes to at least temporarily ban muslims.

    Heh, and Rufus calls me bigoted. The old irrational, illiterate bigoted fart.....

    So far my wallet has remained closed -- :)

    While Quirk the Sheeple it seems will likely end up voting for Hillary

    Why Trump Will Win

    Getty Images

    by Roger Stone10 Dec 20152,121

    International businessman, entrepreneur, builder and reality TV star Donald J. Trump once again displayed his uncanny and unprecedented ability to both dominate the national dialogue and roil the political waters with his most recent proposal to temporarily halt Muslim immigration.

    Not surprisingly the mainstream media and the political establishment demonstrated their willingness to do anything necessary to smear Trump, distort his proposals and derail his candidacy.

    The pundit class and their allies in the political establishment are already flummoxed by their failed prediction that the “summer of Trump” would dissipate in the Autumn as voters became “more serious” and looked again at the career politicians running for President. These are, of course, the very same people who said that Trump would never run to begin with and that his candidacy was simply a publicity stunt designed to burnish his brand.

    The firestorm began when Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” Incredibly, NBC would edit Trump’s remarks to delete “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on” to make it appear Trump would close the country to Muslims forever, not at all what he proposed.

    1. This bastardization of what Trump actually proposed then unleashed an unprecedented torrent of criticism that included most of Trump’s Republican rivals and all of the usual talking heads. Not since 1974 and the full out media assault against the embattled Richard Nixon have I seen such a one sided media attack designed to destroy the political future of a prominent public figure.

      Some in the media even trotted out an old trick of canvasing White Supremacist groups in order to quote them praising Trump. Politico used this tactic in a breathless report by Ben Schreckinger. This reminded me of when CBS reported during Barry Goldwater’s 1964 campaign for President claiming that he had “met with Neo-Nazi elements” while on a vacation to Germany. It was of course a false report.

      It’s incredible how many of the talking heads used the straw man of Trump’s supposed proposal to ban Muslim immigration permanently to denounce him as a bigot and a fascist and to argue that Trump’s proposal was “unconstitutional” as if foreign nationals possess US Constitutional rights. Trump, of course proposed no such thing. In fact federal law makes it clear that as President, Trump would certainly possess the authority to freeze Muslim immigration.

      8 USC §1182 states: Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.

      Once again, however, those Washington insiders in the lobbyist and consultant class will be sorely disappointed if they think that this flap will derail Trump’s candidacy. An examination of the Reuters Daily Tracking Pollshows that while Trump’s specific proposal was not tested, Republican Primary voters are deeply suspicious about the infiltration of the Muslim community by terrorist elements and are therefore far likely to put public safety over political correctness.

      Indeed by Wednesday a Bloomberg poll revealed the 2/3 of Republican Primary voters agreed with Trump’s proposal to freeze Muslim immigration until a proper screening process can be put in place to vet those who would enter the United States.

      Incredibly Trump’s rivals and critics have still not figured out that establishment attacks on Trump only galvanized his substantial lead in the polls and make the possibility that he could run the table in the early caucuses and primaries.

      Trump’s fundamental appeal is based on a voter perception that he is not part of the “political class” and that because he is self financing, he is not beholden to any special interest, corporate interests, billionaires, or Washington insiders. Voters believe that Trump could therefore take on a fetid system that they see corrupted by corporate money and highly paid lobbyists.

      Unhinged attacks on Trump that reached near hysterical levels this week only reinforce Trump’s status as an outsider as voters increasingly lump big media with big government and big business in their disgust.

      America has lacked leadership for so long that when an unscripted uncoached and genuine Donald Trump lays out a blunt prescription for America in a straightforward display of alpha male leadership, voters in unprecedented fashion respond.........