Nov 18 (4/8): Cold War or Slow Grind?


Rev, do you get the sense that this mini cold war will stay like this for a while?

I’ve been thinking about this. A lot.

Like, as per this thread, watching movement grind to an excruciating slowness while intensifying conflict was predicted in this thread. So that was, apparently, sorta clear.

The next move is not so clear to me. There are clearly significant information ops going on, but I don’t know to what extent they play that game a bit and see what happens while they… do what?

I would really welcome any thoughts on this.

Here’s the thing: What looks stalled to us is basically unlivable on the ground. So sustaining those conditions is basically the same as Turkish advance for Turkish goals.

Heck, they’re even putting minimal Turkish troops’ lives on the line by using a proxy army full of people everyone hates anyway. So even in an open society, you wouldn’t be getting that kind of pressure to withdraw that the sight of flag draped coffins causes.

(Side note: I also wanted to note there seems to be an uptick in referring to the relevant militias as TFSA instead of the umbrella SNA shell they incorporated into or whatever sort of evil organizational filings you do for such things. I’m pretty sure it’s to redifferentiate the fact that these have been dominated by radical jihadis, in distinction from many of the SNA groups that had acquired a more sympathetic following as a kind of punk rock opposition to Assad.)

The entire cease fire was identical to what a “muted” ethnic cleansing campaign would look like, just the muted version that can be seen across many posts in this thread by looking at it from multiple sides, for which the internet and a forum like this is an amazing vehicle, but it’s a process not easily communicated in a TV clip and sound bite. But the reality is that there have been three or four different plans that would entail a cease fire or reduction of violence and hostilities, and Turkey kept doing exactly what they were doing at every point along the way.

From the point of view of boots on the ground, it’s just Kabuki theater.  Or rather, as someone I know put it, it’s a performative act but Kabuki is meant to call attention to itself and have its meaning best understood by elites, so it’s the negotiations that are Kabuki and really are just distracting us from a war that is about anybody but the people actually fighting it who are pawns for other interests. But as with many things, it’s not symmetrical in effect; the Kabuki theater offers appearances constructive activity while actually providing legitimacy and cover for a status quo that is characterized by ongoing violence.

If they have the patience, they can just grind this out for awhile and devastate the area while claiming to not be doing anything. And they do know deep down that the Americans can blow their shit up in a heartbeat if the will were to resolve itself.*

So my best assessment is: It’s not a Cold War. It just plays one on TV.

*My regard for our elite troops has always been high, in terms of abilities, training, discipline, and extreme care taken in trying to get things right because they understand the importance of even subtle things to the mission, any mission. Anytime I learn more about them, I become more impressed with them. For all the fetishization of the Navy SEALs, the tip of the spear is just the most easily observable part of what are really amazing integrated operations; I’ve seen Green Berets matter bitterly about how they would be are actually  most effective disaster relief team in the world when deployed that way so it’s can be frustrating to usually only be used in war zones. Think a team of David Eubankses with air support and evac. I’m rambling a bit, but these guys are really amazing, and that’s only possible with an immense reserve of restraint and discipline.

That said, and I don’t think it’ll happen, but if one of our snake eaters comes back and goes Joe Hallenbeck on Lindsey Graham, I won’t be the least bit surprised and only thing I’ll be wondering about is this:

last boy scout head or gut


Thanks, Rev.  That’s a bit worse than I thought but makes sense.  So Turkey and Assad are happy with this status quo.

It might be close to optimal for Erdogan, once you put aside things like wholesale slaugher vis-vis world opinion and response.

Assad is more of a puzzle. Like, what works for Assad and what works for Syria are not totally aligned. I think they only need Assad around because they need a dictator who’s a useful idiot to consolidate the territory once Putin and Erdogan have a steady state of affairs they like.

As far as I can tell, Assad’s only leverage here is being the devil they know along with the basic conservative principle that entails that older regimes are more likely to, if not appear legitimate, have a better case that they can survive than new ones do, for obvious reasons.

But nobody of any significance needs Assad, much less cares about his goals. I think you can see this in how differently the players interact in the east and west parts of the war; you can see the basic situationalism and relativism of real politic play out in that the same entities are basically rivals in one place and effectively allies in another… which happens in real world international relations, but not usually a six hour drive from one another.

If Trump put up the money for the gambling license himself, Assad is Fredo.

Who the fuck knows what happens with him, but he’s the only one who thinks he’s the protagonist of the movie.



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