As the Neutralist has noted before, the American media is all propaganda all the time. As regards Syria, it publishes or broadcasts the mantra of Assad must go while tacitly supporting the entity they consider the enemy in Iraq. That it is in no sense sane was up until a few short weeks ago irrelevant.
Then something happened that changed everything. The Russians arrived and acted like they had a viable plan. Immediately, the media sniped at the
the War Nerd writes for Pando. I never warmed to the site. Maybe it's because there is just too much out there on the web. More it's attitudinal. Pando writers are not without a holier than though outlook. Everyone else is racist and stupid or something.
The War Nerd is a pseudonym, but the persona is of a loser cubicle slave who has a war jones. A little more endearing than the "we're cool guys and your not" vibe of the rest of the columns.
Anyway, The Neutralist agrees with the words of the War nerd as posted to Isegoria;
Russia is using its air force to try to blast out a viable territory for an Alawite/Shia state along the Syrian coastal hills. Assad’s people are longtime Russian clients and allies, and the Russian air force is helping them maintain their key turf against a much more numerous enemy. It may fail, but at least that’s a reasonable plan.
At the moment, Russia’s planes are focusing on a triangle of Sunni-held territory north of Homs, trying to blast a path for Assad’s weak infantry. If you look at these verygood graphics put together (it pains me to admit) by the New York Times, you can see what a sensible, traditional military move that is. Scroll down to the two maps captioned “Many of the Initial Airstrikes Were Near the Boundaries Between Government and Rebel Zones” and go to the second map. You’ll see a T-shaped yellow zone marking Sunni-held territory due north of Homs, along the key road to Hama and Aleppo.
That’s where the Russian strikes have been hitting hardest lately, in Sunni-held crossroads towns like Ter Maela, right on the M5 highway that runs north to Hama and Aleppo, south to Damascus. That highway is the key to Syria, a kind of spinal cord like the big vein down a shrimp’s back. If the Russians can obliterate Ter Maela’s defenders thoroughly enough to let Assad’s weak infantry (or maybe his much better Hezbollah or Iranian ringers) take and hold these villages, then the Alawites have the makings of a viable state.
If you were to sum it up, it’d go something like this: “Hit Sunni targets east of the coastal hills, but ignore everything to the west; help the Kurds in the north, but grudgingly, as little as possible, for fear you’ll offend Turkey; and while you’re attacking Assad’s enemies, keep reassuring the Israelis that you’re just as anti-Assad as you are anti-Islamic State.”
Sound stupid? It is. It’s a ridiculous compromise adopted to please the Israelis and Saudis, based on the dumb-ass notion that Sunni fighters in eastern Syria are evil sectarian bastards, but the Sunni fighters facing off against the SAA in the west are “moderates.”
It’s true that Islamic State is uncommonly vile, but let’s not lie; the only faction in Syria that even tries to rise above sectarian hatred are the young Kurdish commies of YPG/J. Every other group is sectarian, and militias that start out sectarian only get meaner as they go, by the iron logic of primitive war, where massacre is the norm. And this sectarian taint isn’t new. Syria’s Sunni were chanting “Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the graveyard” long before the fighting started.
As a rule, you can tell when the media approve of air strikes by the angle. If it’s all nice clean pilot’s-view of distant explosions, it’s a good strike. If they show you funerals, weeping relatives, blasted apartments, it’s a bad strike. So you can tell, just from the headline — “This Is What the Russian Air Strikes in Syria Look Like from the Ground” — that it’s a bad strike.
Whoever is running American Foeign Policy is not doing much of a job. This has been so since Bush I.* Leadership fails sooner or later and even if we got a intelligent administration, it would be but an interregnum until a correlation of forces returned and dumb came back in vogue.
Thus, as Johnny one note we again state, that a neutralist ethos needs to inform our body politic permanently. The alternative is disaster as is happening now.
So whatever we may think of the rest of Pando, el Nerdos articles are interesting and here is a link if you are inclined to subscribe. The War Nerd is worth the rest of the site, which is like other progressive sites such as Vox except with a paywall.
*I know everyone loves to hate Reagan, but I suggest you read Suzanne Massie's book on Reagan and Russia, you might think differently about the man.