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Conversation Starter

Blanga, Yehuda. “Implications of the US Withdrawal from Syria.” The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, October 30, 2019.

Inspirational comment for what follows noted that “the #1 and #2 ISIS leaders” were now dead.

True and factored into the response that follows here.

From the Awesome Conversation

Islamist leaders believe themselves — and their followers believe them to be — as Muhammad, the channeled voice of God on Earth. Of rivals for Ayatollah and Caliph there may be no short lists to which another strident Believer may not be added.

As with other dictators, their power resides in part in the closed political systems one or another may be able to wrap around themselves as a defensive as defensive political political, religious, and social bubble. In my reductive way, as much responds in leaders to the humiliations of childhood or early adolescence as part of malign narcissistic development. All become politically absolute — and for practical conclusions, kleptocratic.

In the Syrian theater, Bashar al-Assad cultivated ISIS / ISIL / Islamic State in the gathering of the al-Qaeda types that streamed into his state as the 2011 “Civil War” (I call it the “Syrian Tragedy”) developed. His purpose, and well in the KGB style, was to produce a war he knew he could win by first choosing his enemy. So he bombed the hell out of noncombatant Syrians while failing (deliberately) to focus his forces on the Islamists until the same coalesced and he could add to them.

Russia removed her citizens early in this process, but it by no means abandoned its old client. On the other wing, Iran had its eye on Israel and plenty of nefarious conflict-encouraging and martial power of its own — it is no mistake or coincidence that the IRG and Hezbollah would come to the battle (as would Russian forces).


On this reading page, BackChannels has another piece — different author and publication — suggesting about the same thing. Our retreat has been a retreat before “political absolutism” or in the most undemocratic and illiberal support of it.

Related Online

Wechsler, William F. “Five Takeaways from the Death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.” Atlantic Council, October 28, 2019.

Addendum: Perpetuation of Threat

The bond between conflict and money may well make the world go around.

That may be fine as a part of our “human condition”.

Here, however, for the remaining and fully functioning liberal democracies of the 21st Century, the underlying argument that might be characterized — as I characterize it — as “Medieval (Absolute Power) v Modern (Democratic Distribution of Power)” involves the leveraging of the presence of unreasoning threat and “unassailable” leadership into the endless “wars of all against all”.

Is that what y’all want?

Putin-Assad-Khamenei, Putin-Erdogan: as much appears the world wanted. Their states are their personal ventures; their slogans the whips for their mobs; their ends: their own aggrandizement.

For the West that should be pushing back: mere containment of these old and evil forces, and the “containment” appears quite permeable for the methods now associated with Russia’s “Active Measures” and “Hybrid Warfare”.