Syria fired three missiles at Israeli warplanes as they struck several targets in the most serious military exchange between the two hostile neighbours
Sourced from The Independent
Four Israeli jets struck several targets inside Syria last week and were attacked by three Syrian surface-to-air missiles
The Israeli military said it shot down one of several anti-aircraft rockets fired at its warplanes by Syria last week in the most serious military exchange between the two hostile neighbours in recent years.
Air force officials said four Israeli jets on a mission to destroy a weapons convoy destined for the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah were attacked by three Syrian surface-to-air missiles, one of which was intercepted by the Israeli Aerial Defence System known as “Arrow.”
“The next time the Syrians use their air defence systems against our planes we will destroy them without the slightest hesitation,” Avigdor Lieberman said in remarks broadcast on Israeli public radio.
Damascus claimed one of the jets was shot down in Israeli-controlled territory and another was hit – a claim the Israeli military denied, saying none of the jets had been hit.
Israel had carried out strikes near Palmyra to help “Isis terrorist gangs and in a desperate attempt to raise their deteriorating morale and divert attention away from the victories which the Syrian Arab Army is making in the face of the terrorist organisations”, a Syrian army statement said.
Most Israeli air strikes in Syrian territory over the last few years have been aimed at preventing weapons from being smuggled to Hezbollah, which fights alongside the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime against rebel forces.
While the Israel Defence Force (IDF) does not comment on the nature of its operations, Hezbollah, like Iran, is committed to the destruction of the Jewish state.
In highly unusual comments confirming the operation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Our policy is very consistent. When we identify attempts to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah, and we have the intelligence and the operational capability, we act to prevent that. That is what was and that is what will be.”
Israel has been largely unaffected by the Syrian civil war raging next door, suffering only sporadic incidents of spillover fire that it has generally dismissed as tactical errors by Assad’s forces.
It has responded to the errant fire with limited reprisals on Syrian positions.
The skies over Syria are now crowded, with Russian and Syrian aircraft backing the regime’s forces and a US-led coalition striking Isis and al-Qaeda targets.
By THE SAKER
In all the political drama taking place in the US as a result of the attempted color revolution against Trump, the bigger picture sometimes gets forgotten. And yet, this bigger picture is quite amazing, because if we look at it we will see irrefutable signs that the Empire in engaged in some bizarre slow motion version of seppuku; and the only mystery left is who, or what, will serve as the Empire’s kaishakunin.
SEPPUKU: Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment; harakiri. KAISHAKUNIN: The executioner; the mercy killer who finishes off the suicide victim in his final agonies by chopping off his head with a sword. [LD]
I would even argue that the Empire is pursuing a full-spectrum policy of self-destruction on several distinct levels, with each level contributing the overall sum total suicide. And when I refer to self-destructive behavior I don’t mean long-term issues such as the non-sustainability of the capitalist economic model or the social consequences of a society which not only is unable to differentiate right from wrong, but which now decrees that deviant behavior is healthy and normal. These are what I call “long term walls” into which we will, inevitably, crash, but which are comparatively further away than some “immediate walls”. Let me list a few of these:
Political suicide: the Neocons’ refusal to accept the election of Donald Trump has resulted in a massive campaign to de-legitimize him. What the Neocons clearly fail to see, or don’t care about, is that by de-legitimizing Trump they are also de-legitimizing the entire political process which brought Trump to power and upon which the United States is built as a society.
As a direct result of this campaign, not only are millions of Americans becoming disgusted with the political system they were indoctrinated to believe in, but internationally the notion of “American democracy” is becoming a sad joke.
And just to make things worse, the US corporate media is finally revealing its true face and has now unapologetically shown the entire world that not only is it not in any way “fair” or “objective”, but that it is a 100% prostituted propaganda machine which faithfully serves the interests of the US “deep state”.
A key element of the quasi-constant brainwashing of the average American has always been the regular holding of elections. Never mind that, at least until now, the outcome of these elections made very little difference inside the US and none at all outside, the goal was never to consult the people – the goal has always been to give the illusion of democracy and people-power.
Now that the Democrats say that the Russians rigged the elections and the Republicans say that it was the Democrats and their millions of dead voters who tried stealing it, it become rather obvious that these elections were always a joke, a pseudo-democratic “liturgy”, a brainwashing ritual – you name it – but never about anything real.
The emergence of the concept of the 1% can be “credited” to the Obama Administration, since it was during Obama that the entire “Occupy Wall Street” movement took off, but the ultimate unmasking of the viciously evil true face of that 1% must be credited to Hillary with her truly historical confession in which she openly declared that those who oppose her were a “basket of deplorables”. We already knew, thanks to Victoria Nuland, what the AngloZionist leaders thought of the people of Europe, now we know what they think of the people of the USA: exactly the same thing.
The bottom line is this: I don’t think that the moral authority and political credibility of the US have ever been lower than today. Decades of propaganda by Hollywood and the official US media machine have now collapsed and nobody buys that counter-factual nonsense anymore.
Foreign policy suicide
Let’s see what options there are to choose from. The Neocons want a war with Russia which the Trump people don’t. The Trump people, however, want, well maybe not a war, although that option is very much on the table, but at least a very serious confrontation with China, North Korea or Iran, and about half of them would also like some kind of confrontation with Russia. There is absolutely nobody, at least at the top, who would dare to suggest that a confrontation or, even worse, a war with China, Iran, North Korea or Russia would be a disaster, a calamity for the USA. In fact, serious people with impressive credentials and a lot of gravitas are discussing these possibilities as if they were real, as it the US could in some sense prevail. This is laughable. Well, no, it is not. But it would be if it wasn’t so frightening and depressing. The truth is very, very different.
While it is probably not impossible for the United States to prevail, in purely military terms, against the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea in a war, the potential risks are nothing short of immense. And I don’t mean the risk posed by the North Korean nukes which, apparently, is also quite real. I mean the risk of starting a war against a country which has Seoul within conventional artillery range, an active duty army of well over one million people and 180,000 special forces. Let us assume for a second that North Korea has no air force and no navy and an army composed of only 1M+ soldiers, 21k+ artillery pieces and 180k special forces. How do you propose to deal with that threat? If you have an easy, obvious solution, you have watched too many Hollywood movies. You probably also don’t understand the terrain.
North Korean armed forces would rapidly collapse under a sustained attack by the US and South Korea. I did not say that I believe that this would happen, only that I don’t exclude it. Should that happen, the US might well prevail relatively rapidly, at least in purely military terms. However, please keep in mind that any military operation has to serve a political goal and, in that sense, I cannot imagine any scenario under which the US would walk away from a war against North Korea with anything remotely resembling a real “victory”. There is a paraphrase of something Ho Chi Minh allegedly told to the French in the 1940s which I really like. It goes like this:” we kill some of you, you kill a lot of us, and then we win”.
That is how a war with North Korea would probably play out.
I call this the “American curse”: Americans are very good at killing people, but they are not good at winning wars. Still, in the case of North Korea there is at least a possibility of a military victory, even if at a potentially huge cost. With Iran, Russia or China there is no such possibility at all: a war with any of them would be a guaranteed disaster (I wrote about a war in Iran here and about a war with Russia too many times to count). So why is it that even though out of the four possible wars, one is a potential disaster and the three others are a guaranteed disaster, why is it that these are discussed as if they were potential options?!
The reason for that can be found in the unique mix of crass ignorance and political cowardice of the entire US political class. First, a lot (most?) of US politicians believe in their own silly propaganda about the US armed forces being “the best” in “the world” (no evidence needed!). But even those who are smart enough to realize that this is a load of baloney which nobody outside the US still takes seriously, they know that saying that publicly is political suicide. So they pretend, go along, and keep on repetitively spewing the patriotic mantra about “rah, rah, USA, USA, ‘Merica number one, we are the best” etc. Some figure that since the US spends more on aggression than the rest of the planet combined, that must mean that the US armed forces must be “better” (whatever that means). To the birthplace of “bigger is better” the answer is self-evident. It is also completely wrong.
Eventually, something crazy inevitably happens. Like in Syria were the State Department had one policy, the Pentagon another and the CIA yet another one. The resulting cognitive dissonance is removed by engaging in classical doublethink: “yes, we screwed up over and over, but we are still the best”. Ironically, that kind of mindset is at the core of the American inability to learn from past mistakes. If the choice is between an honest evaluation of past operations and political expediency, the latter always prevails (at least amongst civilians, US servicemen are often far more capable of self-critical evaluation, especially in ranks up to Colonel and below, the problem here is that civilians and generals rarely listen to them).
The result is total chaos: the US foreign policy is wholly dependent on the US ability to threaten the use of military force, but the harsh reality is that every country out there which dared to defy Uncle Sam did that only after coming to the conclusion that the US did not have the means to crush it militarily.
In other words, only the weak, which are already de-facto US colonies, fear the USA. Or, put differently, the only countries who dare to defy Uncle Sam are the strong ones.
And just to make it worse, there is no real US foreign policy. What there is is only the sum vector of the different foreign policies desired by various more or less covert “deep state” actors, agencies and individuals. That resulting “sum vector” is inevitably short-term, focuses on a quick fix approach, and unable to take into account any complexity.
As for the US “diplomacy” it simply doesn’t exist. You don’t need diplomats to deliver demands, bribes, ultimatums and threats. You don’t need educated people. Nor do you need people with any understanding of the “other”. All you need is one arrogant self-enamored bully and one interpreter.
We saw the most compelling evidence of the total rigor mortis of the US diplomatic corps when 51 US “diplomats” demanded that Obama bomb Syria. The rest of the world could just observe in amazement, sadness, bewilderment and total disgust.
The bottom line is this: there is no “US diplomacy”.
The US have simply let that entire field atrophy to the point were it ceased to exist. When so many baffled observers try to understand what the US policy in the Ukraine or Syria is, they are making a mistaken assumption – that there is a US foreign policy to being with. I would argue that the US diplomacy slowly and quietly passed away, sometime after James Baker.
The US military was never a very impressive one, certainly not when compared to the British, Russian or German ones. But it did have a couple of very strong points including the ability to produce a lot of technical innovations which made it possible to produce new, sometimes quite revolutionary, weapons. And if the US track record on ground operations was rather modest, the US did prove to be a most capable adversary in naval and aerial warfare. I don’t think that it can be denied that for most of the years following WWII the US had the most powerful and sophisticated navy and airforce in the world. Then, gradually, things started getting worse and worse as the costs of the very expensive ships and aircraft shot through the roof while the quality of the produced systems appeared to be gradually degrading.
Weapons systems which looked nothing short of awesome in the lab and test grounds proved to be almost useless once they were delivered to their end user on the battlefield. What happened? How did a country which produced the UH-1 Huey or the F-16 suddenly start producing Apaches and F-35s?! The explanation is painfully simple: corruption.
Not only did the US military industrial complex bloat beyond any reasonable size, it also cloaked itself in so many layers of secrecy that massive corruption became inevitable. And when I speak of “massive corruption” I am not talking about millions but billions or even trillions.
How? Simple – the Pentagon claimed did not have the accounting tools needed to properly account for the missing money and that the money was therefore not really “missing”.
Another trick – no bid contracts. Or contracts which cover all the private contractor’s costs, no matter how high or ridiculous. Desert Storm was a bonanza for the Military Industrial complex, just as was 9/11 and the Global War on Terrorism. Billions of dollars got printed out of thin air, distributed (mostly under the cover of national security), hidden (secrecy) and stolen (by everybody in this entire food chain). The feeding frenzy was so extreme that one of my teachers as SAIS admitted, off the record of course, that he had never seen a weapons system he did not like or which he did not want to purchase. This man, whom I shall not name, was a former director of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Yes, you read that right. He was in charge of DIS-armament. You can imagine what the folks in charge of armament (no “dis) were thinking…
With the stratospheric rise of corruption, the kind of US general which had to be promoted went from fighting men who remembered Vietnam (where they often lost family members, relatives and friends) to “ass-kissing little chickenshits” like David Petraeus. In less than half a century US generals went from combat men, to managers, to politicians. And it is against this lackluster background that a rather unimpressive personality like General James Mattis can appear, at least to some, like a good candidate for Secretary of Defense.
Bottom line: the US armed forces are fantastically expensive and yet not particularly well-trained, well-equipped or well-commanded. And while they still are much more capable than the many European militaries (which are a joke), they are most definitely not the kind of armed forces needed to impose and maintain a world hegemony. The good news for the US is that the US armed forces are more than adequate to defend the US against any hypothetical attack. But as the backbone of the Empire – they are close to useless.
I could list many more types of suicides including an economic suicide, a social suicide, an educational suicide, a cultural suicide and, of course, a moral suicide. But others have already done that elsewhere, and much better than I could ever do myself. So all I will add here is one form of suicide which I believe the AngloZionist Empire has in common with the EU: a “Suicide by reality denial”: this is the mother and father of all the other forms of suicide – the stubborn refusal to look at reality and accept the fact that “the party is over”.
When I see the grim determination of US politicians (very much including the people supporting Trump) to continue to pretend as if the US hegemony was here to stay forever, when I see how they see themselves as the leaders of the world and how they sincerely believe that they need to get involved in every conflict on the planet, I can only come to the conclusion that the inevitable collapse will be painful. To be fair, Trump himself clearly has moments of lucidity about this, for example when he recently declared to Congress
Free nations are the best vehicle for expressing the will of the people — and America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path. My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America. But we know that America is better off, when there is less conflict — not more.
These are remarkable words for which Trump truly deserves a standing ovation as they are the closest thing to a formal admission that the United States have given up on the dream of being the World Hegemon and that from now on the US President will no longer represent the interest of trans-national plutocracies but he will represent the interests of the American people. This sort of languge is nothing short of revolutionary, whether Trump truly delivers on that or not. Unlike everybody else, Trump does not appear to suffer from “suicide by reality denial” syndrome, but when I look at the people around him (nevermind the prostitutes in Congress) I wonder if he will ever get to act on his personal instincts.
Trump is clearly the best man in the Trump administration, he seems to have his heart in the right place and, unlike Hillary, he is clearly aware of the fact that the US armed forces are in a terrible shape. But a good heart and common sense are not enough to deal with the Neocons and the US deep state. You also need an iron will and a total determination to crush the opposition.
Alas, so far Trump has failed to show either quality.
Instead, Trump is trying to show how “tough” a guy he is by declaring that he will wipe out Daesh and by giving the Pentagon 30 days to come up with a plan to do this. Alas (for Trump), there is no way to crush Daesh without working with those who already have boots on the ground: the Iranians, the Russians and the Syrians. It is really that simple. And every American general knows that. Yet everybody is merrily plowing ahead is if there was some kind of possibility for the US to crush Daesh without establishing a partnership with Russia, Iran and Syria first (Erdogan tried that. It did him no good. Now he is working with Russia and Iran). Will the good folks at the Pentagon find the courage to tell Trump that “no, Mr President, we cannot do that alone, we need the Russians, the Iranians and the Syrians”? I very much doubt it. So, yet again, we are probably going to see a case of reality denial, maybe not a suicidal one, but a significant one nonetheless. Not good.
Who will be the Empire’s kaishakunin?
Alexander Solzhenitsyn used to say that all states can be placed on a continuum which ranges from states whose authority is based on their power to states whose power is based on their authority. I think that we can agree that the authority of the US is pretty close to zero. As for their power, it is still very substantial, but not sufficient to maintain the Empire. It is, however, more than adequate to protect the interests of the United States as a country provided the United States accept that they simply don’t have the means to remain a world hegemon.
If the Neocons succeed in their attempt to overthrow or, failing that, at paralysing Trump, then the Empire will have the choice between an endless horror or a horrible end. Since the Neocons don’t really need a war with North Korea, which they don’t like, but which does not elicit the kind of blind hatred Iran does, my guess is that Iran will be their number one target. Should the AngloZionists succeed in triggering a war between Iran and the Empire, then Iran will end up being the Empire’s kaishakunin.
If the crazies fail in their manic attempts at triggering a major war, then the Empire will probably collapse under the pressure of the internal contradictions of the US society.
Finally, if Trump and the American patriots who do not want to sacrifice their country for the sake of the Empire succeed in “draining the DC swamp” and finally crack-down hard on the Neocons, then a gradual transition from Empire to major power is still possible.
But the clock is running out fast . . .
Why Has Donald Trump Abandoned the Foreign Policy That Won Him the Election?
21st Century Wire says…
President Trump is drifting further into Neoconservative land, and very soon there will be no turning back.
Although you wouldn’t know it from the US media blackout – the US has quietly deployed upwards of 4,000 combat troops in Syria – in total violation of both US and international law.
Upon closer examination, however, Trump’s foreign policy is fast resembling Israel’s foreign policy.
This is exactly what candidate Trump promised he wouldn’t do…
The National Interest
Candidate Donald Trump offered a sharp break from his predecessors. He was particularly critical of neoconservatives, who seemed to back war at every turn.
Indeed, he promised not to include in his administration “those who have perfect resumes but very little to brag about except responsibility for a long history of failed policies and continued losses at war.” And he’s generally kept that commitment, for instance rejecting as deputy secretary of state Elliot Abrams, who said Trump was unfit to be president.
Substantively candidate Trump appeared to offer not so much a philosophy as an inclination. Practical if not exactly realist, he cared more for consequences than his three immediate predecessors, who had treated wars as moral crusades in Somalia, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. In contrast, Trump promised: “unlike other candidates for the presidency, war and aggression will not be my first instinct.”
Yet so far the Trump administration is shaping up as a disappointment for those who hoped for a break from the liberal interventionist/neoconservative synthesis.
The first problem is staffing. In Washington people are policy. The president can speak and tweet, but he needs others to turn ideas into reality and implement his directives. It doesn’t appear that he has any foreign policy realists around him, or anyone with a restrained view of America’s international responsibilities.
Rex Tillerson, James Mattis and H. R. McMaster are all serious and talented, and none are neocons. But all seem inclined toward traditional foreign policy approaches and committed to moderating their boss’s unconventional thoughts. Most of the names mentioned for deputy secretary of state have been reliably hawkish, or some combination of hawk and centrist—Abrams, John Bolton, the rewired Jon Huntsman…
READ MORE TRUMP NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Trump Files