US Strike on Syrian Forces: The Scramble for Post-Islamic State Syria

May 22, 2017 (Ulson Gunnar - NEO) - The recent strike on a Syrian military convoy within Syrian territory by US military forces represents another incremental escalation by Washington within the region, and another example of American unilateral military aggression worldwide.

The tactical scope of the attack was relatively limited, but strategically, the stakes particularly along Syria's territorial boundaries have been raised significantly.

Regarding the attack, US geopolitical analysts appear unanimous regarding the rhyme and reason behind it.

Foreign Policy magazine in a recent article claimed that the strike "showed American commanders are willing to use force to maintain de facto safe zones in the country’s east." The article also attempts to claim these "safe zones" are being used to stand up forces to fight the Islamic State.

In reality, the Islamic State was a creation of the US and its regional allies and meant specifically to "isolate the Syrian regime," according to a 2012 US Defense Intelligence Agency report.

Considering this, the Islamic State's presence in Syria and narratives depicting US efforts as being aimed at fighting the terrorist front are simply being used as rhetorical cover for the more obvious and original purpose of US intervention, regime change in Damascus.

By attacking Syrian forces and asserting US control over Syrian territory, Washington is attempting to permanently "isolate" Damascus even further.

The Atlantic was even more specific in its analysis.

It's article, "The Scramble for Post-ISIS Syria Has Officially Begun," states clearly:
[The strikes] sent a message that the area around the base—al-Tanf in southeastern Syria, near the borders with Iraq and Jordan—was an “American sphere of influence and area of operations.”
The article also claimed:
Just as Assad and Iran look to be winning the ground war in Syria, the U.S. and its Syrian opposition partners in the south have intensified their own anti-ISIS activities, exerting more and more of an influence and presence in the south.

Of course, if "Assad and Iran" are poised to win the ground war in Syria, that includes the defeat of the Islamic State, which in theory would mean Washington should be augmenting Damascus and Tehran's efforts, not impeding them with military strikes that not only tactically setback forces fighting the Islamic State and other extremist groups, but also raises the risk of a wider regional war between Washington, Damascus, Tehran and even Moscow that would create more extremism, not less.

US is Using the Islamic State as a Pretext for Regime Change 

In reality, however, Washington is not interested in defeating the Islamic State, but rather using the terrorist front's existence in Syria as a pretext for the incremental expansion of both its military presence in Syria and its use of military force directly against the government in Damascus where indirect methods (including the use of the Islamic State itself) have failed to topple it.

US Deems Thailand "Undemocratic:" US-Backed Opposition Terrorism Follows

May 22, 2016 (Tony Cartalucci - LD) - A bomb was detonated at Phramongkutlao Hospital - a military medical facility in the heart of Thailand's capital of Bangkok - injuring at least 20. The attack was carried out on the third anniversary of a military coup that ousted the regime of Yingluck Shinawatra who openly ran the country as a proxy for her convicted criminal brother, fugitive, and former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra.

The attack targeted a waiting area where retired military personnel and their families were waiting for medication.

The Usual Suspects

The bombing is not the first violent act committed by Shinawatra and his supporters. His time in power, beginning in 2001, has been dominated by coercion, intimidation, mass murder, and terrorism. Despite a 2003 "war on drugs" that left nearly 3,000 extrajudicially executed in the streets, serial human rights abuses, the muzzling of local media, and repeated use of assassination and terrorism to coerce political opponents, Shinawatra has enjoyed Western support.

Thaksin Shinawatra has - for over a decade - represented US-European interests in Thailand and currently enjoys broad political, media, and material support from the West. He still serves as the most promising vector into Thailand for US and European interests versus the current government which has decidedly leaned in favor of regional allies including China, and global allies including Russia.

Since his own ousting from power in 2006, Shinawatra has led from abroad, multiple violent attempts to seize back power and topple Thailand's independent institutions including the constitutional monarchy, the courts, and the military.

In 2009 street violence would leave two dead and widespread damage from arson and looting. The following year, Shinawatra would deploy not only mobs, but also heavily armed militants wielding assault rifles, grenade launchers, improvised explosives, rocket-propelled grenades, and hand grenades in violence that would span weeks and leave nearly 100 dead including soldiers, police, and innocent by-standers.

The violence also featured Shinawatra's supporters storming Chulalongkorn Hospital in downtown Bangkok, prompting the hospital's evacuation and temporary shuttering until security in the city was restored.

Between 2013-2014 protesters attempting to oust Shinawatra's sister, Yingluck Shinawatra from office faced daily attacks from these militants. Up to 20 would die and many more would be injured.

If NATO Wants Peace and Stability it Should Stay Home

May 20, 2017 (Ulson Gunnar - NEO) - A curious op-ed appeared in The National Interest, penned by Hans Binnendijk and David Gompert, adjunct senior fellows at the RAND Corporation. Titled, "NATO’s Role in post-Caliphate Stability Operations," it attempts to make a case for NATO involvement everywhere from Libya to Syria and Iraq in fostering stability in the wake of a yet-to-be defeated Islamic State.

The authors propose that NATO step in to fill what it calls an impending "vacuum left as the caliphate collapses," heading off alternatives including "chaos or Iran, backed by Russia, filling the void, with great harm to U.S. and allied interests in either case." The op-ed never explains why Iran, neighboring Syria and Iraq, is less qualified to influence the region than the United States which exists literally oceans away and shares nothing in terms of history, culture, language or shared interests in stability and peace.

The op-ed would literally claim:
NATO is the only security organization with the skills and breadth to take on this task. The U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition of 68 partners is ill equipped to engage in this complex task. A more cohesive organization such as NATO should lead, but in ways that allow continued Arab participation. A creative version of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) coalition could provide the answer.
It was an interesting choice by the authors to showcase one of NATO's most stupendous and continuing failures in Afghanistan with mention of the ISAF, a force that not only has failed to bring stability to the Central Asia nation in over a decade and a half of occupation, but has presided over the emergence of the Islamic State there where previously it had no presence.

The reality of what NATO is versus what The National Interest op-ed attempts to pass it off as, resembles more of a sales pitch for a shoddy product than a genuine attempt at geopolitical analysis or problem solving. But the truth goes deeper still.

NATO is a Global Wrecking Ball, It Cannot Create Stability 

The op-ed focuses primarily on proposing NATO roles for a post-Islamic State Libya, Iraq and Syria.

Libya is perhaps the most tragic of the three, with NATO having used direct military force in 2011 to topple the government of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in support of known extremists passed off at the time by both NATO spokespeople and the US-European media as "moderate rebels."

The predictable fallout from this military campaign was the collapse of Libya as a relatively stable and unified nation-state into warring factions. The instability became fertile grounds for extremism, with many of the groups backed by NATO evolving into what is now the "Islamic State."

The National Interest op-ed also makes mention of "Arab participation." It should be remembered that the most extreme factions fighting in Libya were not only aided by direct NATO military intervention, but were armed and funded by Persian Gulf dictatorships as well, including Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

A similar pattern of sowing instability has unfolded in Syria, leading to, not averting the rise of the Islamic State.

And Iraq's instability is a direct and lasting consequence of the US military invasion and occupation of 2003.

If nothing else, this exposes NATO and its members as a collective, global wrecking ball. Just as a wrecking ball cannot be used to construct a building on a vacant lot, NATO cannot be used to construct the conditions for stability across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

US Attack on Syrian Forces: Asserting "Safe Zones"

May 19, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci - LD) - US warplanes struck a Syrian military convoy within Syrian territory, after claiming the forces came too close to US military positions.

In legal terms, it was both an act of war and criminal. The US military is currently occupying Syrian territory without invitation by the Syrian government and without any form of mandate from the United Nations.

In geostrategic terms, the United States is attempting to assert itself and its geopolitical strategy of establishing and subsequently expanding "safe zones" inside Syrian territory in a bid to topple the Syrian government, then divide and destroy the Syrian state.

Foreign Policy, a clearinghouse for corporate-financier funded think tank policymakers, in an article titled, "US Bombs Syria Regime for the First Time," would admit:
The strike showed American commanders are willing to use force to maintain de facto safe zones in the country’s east, where U.S. forces are training local militias to battle the Islamic State and provide security in liberated regions.
While Foreign Policy's article confirms US intentions of carving out "safe zones" in Syria, it misleads readers regarding the purpose of doing so.

While it claims that these "safe zones" are intended to host training for "local militias to battle the Islamic State," US intentions to create such zones stretches back long before the threat of the Islamic State was introduced into the conflict.

US policymakers themselves openly admitted the "safe zones" were meant to both perpetuate the conflict and seek a more long-term process of regime change after initial attempts to stampede the government in Damascus out of power failed in 2011.

A March 2012 Brookings Institution paper titled, "Middle East Memo #21: Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change" (PDF), proposes the concept of "safe zones" or "safe-havens" not to fight the yet-to-be invented Islamic State, but specifically to assist US-backed regime change. It claims (emphasis added):
An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership. This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.

Ideology Vs. Realism: Your Principles Might be a Straight Jacket

May 18, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci - LD) - In reality, socioeconomic ideologies like socialism, communism, capitalism, agorism, and anarchy are like tools. They are best used under specific circumstances dictated by reality, and just like tools, are best used in combination or sequence toward achieving a certain end.

Healthcare provides a perfect example of this. All can most likely agree that one shouldn't die simply because they cannot afford healthcare. The current state of healthcare - particularly in terms of infrastructure and technology - means that in order to provide healthcare to individuals who cannot afford it "socialist" style policies and charity is required. However, neither is a sustainable or final solution - merely an incremental step toward one. 

Free market competition, collaboration, entrepreneurship, and the advance of medical technology makes it cheaper and more accessible for everyone, including those who cannot afford it at current costs. Incrementally, research and development will yield healthcare infrastructure and technology even the poorest can afford without government intervention or charitable organizations.

A combination of socioeconomic ideologies used to achieve this represents a process rooted in reality - not divorced from ideology - but utilizing socioeconomic ideology as practical tools toward a specific goal - and using them in combination and sequence to get there.
In a transition from healthcare today to a future where it is affordable and accessible to all, individualists and free marketeers will ultimately come out on top. Ironically, they can never do so until they make the transition today from temporary stop gaps to sustainable solutions tomorrow.
Unfortunately for many, socioeconomic ideologies are viewed more like "sacred cows" they jealously protect from contact with anything even remotely removed from its place along the socioeconomic ideological spectrum. And like a sacred cow, ideologies thus become an object of adulation rather than anything practical.  

For individualists, free marketeers, capitalists, and other stripes right of the socioeconomic ideological spectrum, the notion of socialist healthcare is unacceptable under any circumstance. Despite being unable to implement immediate alternatives for addressing people unable to afford healthcare now, or any road map toward a future where healthcare is affordable without socialist schemes, they categorically reject even temporary measures and stop gaps.

This is because they put their ideology ahead of reality and by doing so fail to address and solve both real problems and more ironically - fail in moving society any closer toward their own ideologies of choice.