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October 06, 2015

US Analysts Conclude: Yes, Obviously, Russia Is Attacking US-Aligned Fighters, Not ISIS

Putin's totes acting from a position of weakness.

Read Allah's analysis. Here's some key language from the WSJ's report.

U.S. officials said Russia’s targeting of its allies on the ground was a direct challenge to Mr. Obama's Syria policy. Underlining the distrust, the Pentagon decided against sharing any information with Moscow about the areas where U.S. allies were located because it suspected Russia would use that information to target them more directly or provide the information to President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"On day one, you can say it was a one-time mistake," a senior U.S. official said of Russia’s strike on one of the allied rebel group’s headquarters. "But on day three and day four, there's no question it's intentional. They know what they’re hitting."

...

The first strike on [CIA-backed Tajamu al-Ezzeh] came at 9 a.m. on Sept. 30, catching its fighters off guard. Seventeen more strikes were launched against the group over the first three days of the Russian campaign, injuring 25 of Ezzeh's fighters. Some of the injured had received CIA training, according to their commander, Maj. Jameel al-Salih. Four strikes on the first day targeted Ezzeh's headquarters…

Members of the [rebel] brigades said in interviews they believed they were being targeted by the Russians to weaken the moderates, without whom the West would have to accept Mr. Assad's continued rule. The other rebel groups on the battlefield are too radical for the West to work with, they said.

Of course, Syria may not be the endgame here. Weaklings are provocative to bullies, and Obama's as sissy a weakling as they come.

So Putin may have bigger ambitions in mind: Like OPEC itself.

Mark Mills, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, writes:

Three facts motivate Putin. First, two regions utterly dominate world oil markets. The Middle East and Russia together ship 60 percent of all oil traded (45 and 15 percent, respectively). Meanwhile, American firms are by law prohibited from engaging in this vital global marketplace; more on this shortly.

Second, oil matters. It provides 97 percent of the global fuel needs for all the engines that transport everything on land, sea and air. No viable substitutes exist at any price for liquid hydrocarbons at the scale society needs. And the world will consume more oil, not less, as far into the future as it matters for sensible policymaking.

Finally, price matters. Here the U.S. has upset the apple cart. Entrepreneurs using new technologies have unlocked a shocking increase in oil supply. U.S. shale fields have recorded the fastest increase in oil production in history. As a result, crude prices have collapsed from north of $100 to south of $50 a barrel. The emerging consensus? Cheaper oil is the new normal.

How does Syria matter? While it's no oil-producing powerhouse by OPEC standards, even Syria's paltry production accounted for 25 percent of that nation's economy (although ISIS now controls most of Syria's oil fields). But Syria is ideal transit territory for pipelines to European markets for oil or gas originating in Iraq and Iran.

More important, given the build-up of Russian military men and materiel in Syria, is geography. Damascus is closer to Baghdad than Washington is to Boston, and not much further away from Riyadh than New York is from Chicago. Russia's military is now no longer deployed mainly on its Baltic borders but is in the world's premier petroleum neighborhood.

Russia is not an OPEC member and has often claimed no desire to join. But they may have just joined by default.

America's best diplomatic force is the Seventh Fleet, and I'm sure Russia's best diplomats are currently building airbases in Syria.

Obama likes to claim that Putin's acting out of "weakness" because the low price of oil, plus sanctions, have hurt Russia's economy.

Okay, let's say he acted to correct that weakness: What keeps him now from driving the price of oil up to whatever high price is required to pour money back into the Kremlin's coffers?

Stigma as an Argument: Great piece by Bret Stephens on our petty, weakling president.

David Petraeus testified last month to the Senate Armed Services Committee on U.S. policy in the Middle East. Regarding Syria, the former general and CIA director urged a credible threat to destroy Bashar Assad’s air force if it continues to bomb its own people. He also recommended "the establishment of enclaves in Syria protected by coalition air power, where a moderate Sunni force could be supported and where additional forces could be trained, internally displaced persons could find refuge, and the Syrian opposition could organize."

But Barack Obama does not agree. At his Friday press conference, the president described such views as "mumbo-jumbo," “half-baked ideas," "as-if" solutions, a willful effort to "downplay the challenges involved in the situation." He says the critics have no answers to the questions of "what exactly would you do and how would you fund it and how would you sustain it."

America’' greatest living general might as well have been testifying to his shower drain for all the difference his views are going to make in this administration.

So it is with this president. It’s not enough for him to stake and defend his positions. He wants you to know that he thinks deeper, sees further, knows better, operates from a purer motive. His preferred method for dealing with disagreement is denigration. If Republicans want a tougher line in Syria, they’re warmongers. If Hillary Clinton thinks a no-fly zone is a good idea, she’s playing politics: "There is obviously a difference," the president tut-tutted about his former secretary of state's position, "between running for president and being president."

The president is quite clear that his only ambition is to be a Commander, United National Territory, and a little one at that.



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posted by Ace at 04:41 PM

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