United for Peace of Pierce County, WA - We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy.

ANALYSIS: US & Russia sending weapons to Syria war only good for fighting each other

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On Friday, Time called attention to the fact that both the U.S.and Russia are sending to Syria weapons that are not designed to attack any military assets possessed by ISIS or Syrian rebels or the Syrian government, but only by each other.[1]  --  The U.S. sent six single-seat F-15C Eagle to Turkey on Friday to help Turkey protect its airspace; these elite tactical fighters are designed only for fighting other warplanes (F-15Cs shot down dozens of Russian-made Iraqi MiGs and Sukhois during the Gulf War).  --  For its part, Russia has dispatched to Syria Buk anti-aircraft missile systems.  --  These are designed to fight cruise missiles, smart bombs, fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles, none of which ISIS or the Syrian rebels possess, but which the U.S. and its allies have in great numbers.  --   President Obama pledged last month:  "We’re not going to make Syria into a proxy war between the United States and Russia."  --  "If that’s the case, it might be wiser to keep such weapons at home," Mark Thompson said.  --   In fact,  as the New York Times observed on Oct. 12, 2015, "the Syrian conflict is edging closer to an all-out proxy war between the United States and Russia." ...

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NEWS: Intercepts, black boxes suggest ISIS bomb took down Russian passenger jet

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Citing unnamed U.S. officials, NBC News reported Friday that ISIS operatives had been recorded "boasting about taking down an airliner" after the Halloween air disaster in Sinai.[1]  --  "British officials believe someone with access to the cargo hold placed an explosive device on the plane prior to takeoff," Richard Esposito, Jim Miklaszewski, Tom Costello, and Elisha Fieldstadt said.  --  "[T]he U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Friday announced additional security measures to be implemented on commercial flights bound for the United States from certain foreign airports."  --  AFP cited unnamed sources as it reported that "Black box data from the Russian plane that crashed in Egypt last week indicates it was hit by a bomb."[2]  --  Cairo and Moscow originally downplayed the likelihood of an attack, but on Friday "Russian President Vladimir Putin also ordered flights to the Red Sea resort halted, in a fresh blow to Egypt's already struggling tourism industry," Djallal Malti said....

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BACKGROUND: Ahmed Chalabi's duplicity was mired in mystery

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It's instructive to compare Justin Raimondo's detailed, well-documented, and devastating review of the life of Ahmed Chalabi[1] with an evasive New York Times obituary doing its best to maintain the fiction that the Iraq war was a case of naive idealistic Americans (including those at the Times) duped by someone bent on creating a "modern and democratic" Iraq.[2] ...

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NEWS: Too soon to know what caused Russia's worst-ever air disaster

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A Russian government-owned news agency reported that the Russian Interstate Aviation Committee said Sunday that "It is too early to draw conclusions" about the cause of the air disaster that killed 224 people in the Sinai Peninsula Saturday morning.[1]  --  A Kogalymavia/Metrojet Airbus A321 bound for St. Petersburg "broke into pieces midair," and its loss constitutes "the deadliest air accident in the history of Russian aviation," Sputnik International said.  --  Russia Today reported that the flight left Sharm El-Sheikh early in the morning and lost contact with ground control 22 minutes into the flight.  --  There was no distress call.  --  The plane's three-minute descent to the ground was "rapid, almost vertical."[2]  --  Thus, in the words of the head of Rosaviatsia, the Russian aviation agency, "all signs testify to the fact that the destruction of the structure of the airplane took place in the air and at a great altitude."  --   The remains of the aircraft and its passengers are scattered over 32 square kilometers; an Egyptian military source said the structure broke into two main segments.  --  Both Russia and Egypt have dismissed an Islamic State claim that it was responsible as not credible, but "several major carriers [including Air France and Lufthansa] have diverted their planes from the route, at least for the time being."  --  An Airbus team and two U.S. investigators (the engines were manufactured by International Aero Engines, a joint-venture manufacturer in which Connecticut-based  Pratt & Whitney is involved).  --  The London *Telegraph*, which is reporting extensively on developments related to the crash and which sent its Cairo correspondent to the scene of the crash, noted that "British airlines stopped flying over the northern and central parts of the Sinai peninsula after a U.K. government safety warning late last year.  --  The Department for Transport issued the warning not to fly below 25,000 feet in December 2014, but airline sources said U.K. operators had stopped flying there altogether."[3] ...

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COMMENTARY: Glenn Greenwald denounces 'classic "whataboutism" fallacy'

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On Thursday, Glenn Greenwald, who ought to have won a Voltaire Award by now, took a critic to task for "the classic 'whataboutism' fallacy" -- that is, "the incredibly deceitful, miserably common, intellectually bankrupt tactic" of "smearing people not for what they write, but for what they don’t write."[1]  --  "It’s something I encounter literally every day . . . designed to distract attention from one’s own crimes." ...

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ANALYSIS: 'Violence convulsing Syria & Iraq spreading to Turkey'

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Sunday will see the close of an "extraordinarily violent" parliamentary election campaign in Turkey, and in a country where "there is a sense that all institutions critical of [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan are under permanent siege," many fear that "if Mr. Erdogan wins a simple majority of 276 seats in the 550-seat parliament (the AKP currently has 258 seats), then he will establish an authoritarian presidential system," Patrick Cockburn reported Wednesdy in the London Independent.[1]  --  "The violence that is convulsing Syria and Iraq is spreading to Turkey, and ISIS bomb attacks have poisoned relations between Turks and Kurds," Cockburn said.  --  "Worse, Turkey’s engagement in Syria has not stopped the creation of a new Kurdish quasi-state stretching along 250 miles of Turkey’s southern frontier, which is today run by the Syrian branch of the PKK.  --  Turkey, which was poised to be a major power in the Middle East in 2012, has now been all but excluded as an influence in much of the region.  --  A further advance along the border by the Syrian Kurds might lead Ankara to consider direct military intervention." ...

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 October 2015 05:14 Read more...
 

COMMENTARY: US pretending that combat isn't combat in Iraq

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The Pentagon is once again torturing the English language in Iraq.  --  Even as it releases video of U.S. troops engaged again in combat in Iraq, the Pentagon is pretending its role in Iraq is still only "advisory."  --  With Russia, aligned with Iran, ramping up the fight against ISIS and competing for Baghdad's favor, the Obama administration apparently feels obliged to engage the enemy more directly than its promises to the American people should allow.  --  Jason Ditz on Antiwar.com briefly dissected the latest semantic dilemmas of the U.S. national security state in a brief piece on Sunday.[1] ...

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NEWS: Despite US attempt at dissuasion, Iraq authorizes Russian strikes on ISIS

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American foreign policy gives the impression the U.S. cares more about its status in the international pecking order than about what happens in the Middle East.  --  On Oct. 20, fresh from a visit to Iraq, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said he had warned Iraq against seeking Russian help in its fight against ISIS, USA Today reported.[1]  --  CBS News, citing Reuters, reported that "the U.S. ultimatum to Iraq puts [Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-]Abadi in a difficult position, as his own country's ruling political alliance and some powerful Shiite groups have been pushing him to request Russian air support."[2]  --  But despite the American warning, on Oct. 23, Albawaba reported that "The Iraqi government authorized Russia to target Daesh (ISIS) convoys coming from Syria, a senior Iraqi official said."[3]  --  In a commentary, Jason Ditz said it was unclear "if this authorization is a direct violation of U.S. demands, since it appears to be limited just to operations in the immediate area around the border.  --  Given how much of ISIS territory in Iraq is along the Syria border, however, it may be a subtle distinction.  --  It may be sufficient, however, to avoid any public U.S. retaliation, as it is clear the Obama Administration never seriously intended to end the war just because they weren’t getting their way, and can likely spin this as a concession from Iraq."[4] ...

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COMMENTARY: Obama and Carter are wrong -- yes, we can leave Afghanistan

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Writing in Monday's Los Angeles Times, Andrew Bacevich took umbrage at Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter's remark that "we can't leave Afghanistan," made while explaining President Barack Obama's Oct. 15 decision to renounce his goal of withdrawing American forces from Afghanistan by the time he leaves office.[1]  --  "Having inherited from his predecessor two wars begun in 2001 and 2003, respectively, Obama will bequeath those same two wars to the person who will succeed him as president in 2017.  --  It is incumbent upon Americans to contemplate the implications of this disturbing fact.  --  By their very endlessness, the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq constitute a judgment on American statecraft, one further compounded by the chaos now enveloping large swaths of the Islamic world.  --  Here are the consequences that stem from misunderstanding military power and misusing a military instrument once deemed unstoppable." ...

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NEWS: Harper ousted as Canadians elect Liberals led by Justin Trudeau

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Canadian Conservatives lost more than fifty seats in Monday's general election as Prime Minister Stephen Harper was swept out of office, the New York Times reported.[1]  --  Under the leadership of Justin Trudeau, son of Pierre Trudeau, the charismatic former prime minister, the Liberal Party, which had been reduced to 34 seats in 2011, won a majority of the 338 seats in Canada's House of Commons.  --  A Bloomberg profile of Canada's new 43-year-old leader charted his highly unconventional path to political leadership.[2] ...

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 October 2015 15:10 Read more...
 

ANALYSIS: 'Syria edging closer to all-out proxy war between the US & Russia' (NY Times)

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Describing its intervention in Syria as "Russia’s first military campaign outside former Soviet borders since the dissolution of the Soviet Union," the New York Times  said Wednesday that it was "showcasing [Russia's] ability to conduct operations beyond its borders and providing a public demonstration of new weaponry, tactics, and strategy."[1]  --  "[T]he biggest surprise so far has been the missile technology on display," Steven Lee Myers and Eric Schmitt said.  --  "Russia’s fighter jets are, for now at least, conducting nearly as many strikes [nearly 90 on some days] in a typical day against rebel troops opposing the government of President Bashar al-Assad as the American-led coalition targeting the Islamic State has been carrying out each month this year."  --  Unlike Russia's stealthy intervention in Crimea and Ukraine, operations in Syria are "being conducted openly and are being documented with great fanfare by the Ministry of Defense in Moscow, which distributes targeting video in the way the Pentagon did during the Persian Gulf war in 1991."  --  The roots of the recent modernization of Russia's military can be traced to a reaction to its poor performance in Georgia in 2008, Myers and Schmitt said.  --  "In the war’s aftermath, Mr. Putin, then serving as prime minister, began a military modernization program that focused not only on high-profile procurement of new weapons -- new aircraft, warships, and missiles -- but also on a less-noticed overhaul of training and organization that included a reduction in the bloated officer corps and the development of a professional corps of noncommissioned officers."  --  In Syria, "Moscow is settling in for the long haul."  --  The U.S. response to this development, which includes sending, for the first time, covertly and via Saudi Arabia, "bountiful supplies of powerful American-made antitank missiles" to rebel forces battling Syrian government forces, means that "the Syrian conflict is edging closer to an all-out proxy war between the United States and Russia," the Times on Monday in the paper's lead story.[2] ...

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NEWS: Consternation growing as Russian-backed campaign in Syria expands

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As Russia's campaign expands dramatically in Syria, NATO ministers are meeting in Brussels Thursday amid a deepening sense of crisis, the BBC reported.[1]  --  The Pentagon is complaining more than 90% of Russian airstrikes have been against non-ISIS forces, AFP said Wednesday.[2]  --  Wednesday also saw the launching of a major ground offensive by Syrian troops, backed by more Russian airstrikes as well as dozens of cruise missiles launched by Russian vessels in the Caspian Sea.  --  "The Syrian push on the ground is the first time President Assad’s forces have coordinated with the Russian airforce in an attempt to seize lost territory from opposition forces, ushering in some of the fiercest fighting in months in the civil war, which has now lasted four and a half years and killed more than a quarter of a million people," the London Guardian said.[3] ...

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NEWS: Russia, West trade barbs over action in Syria

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At a White House press conference on Friday, President Barack Obama "pledged that he would not turn the Syrian civil war into a 'proxy war' between the U.S. and Russia," the London Guardian reported.[1]  --  Russia, meanwhile, is complaining that the West is waging "an informational campaign" against Moscow.  --  A spokesman scoffed at U.S. complaints that Russia is choosing the wrong targets in Syria, tweeting:  “The U.S. is criticizing Russia for ‘lack of selectivity in our targets’ in Syria.  So what stopped them from picking the right targets over a whole year, rather than just pointlessly bombing the desert?!” ...

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CALENDAR: Mideast experts to analyze ISIS & Iran nuclear deal (Oct. 26 & Nov. 9)

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On two Monday evenings two weeks apart, experts on the Middle East will offer to the public their insights into the turmoil that has engulfed the entire region.  --  On Mon., Oct. 26, Dr. Steve Niva of Evergreen State College will speak about his extensive research into ISIS, its leadership, ideology, and strategy.  --  Two weeks later, on Mon., Nov. 9, Niva and Elizabeth Murray will discuss the Iran nuclear deal.  --  Murray recently retired from a 27-year government career as an analyst specializing in the politics and media of the Middle East.  --  Both events will be held in the University Place Library on Bridgeport Way.  --  They are co-sponsored by United for Peace of Pierce County and the Tacoma Chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace.  --  See below for details.[1] ...

Last Updated on Saturday, 03 October 2015 04:49 Read more...
 

NEWS & COMMENT: Russia's priority is 'preservation of the Syrian state'

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On Thursday, the second day of Russia's air campaign in Syria, the London Guardian reported that "Moscow appeared to admit it was striking more widely" than on ISIS forces alone "as American-backed rebels reported that they had been hit."[1]  --  The development appeared to interfere with ongoing U.S.-Russia deconfliction efforts.  --   Iran said it fully supported Russia's actions amid "unconfirmed reports that Iranian forces were also being deployed in Syria" that "heightened tensions and deepened confusion over the escalating crisis."  --  So far, however, the Pentagon has confined itself to verbal opposition to Russia's actions, calling them "illogical" and "doomed to fail" but "declin[ing] to extend guarantees of air cover to Syrian rebels that Russia targets."  --  COMMENT:  These developments are likely to intensify fighting inside Syria, as an independent analyst said that Qataris with Saudi support were "flying in planeloads of weapons to Turkish airbases . . . to try to blunt any ground assault by the regime."  --  Many see the conflict in Syria principally as a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, with the U.S. is now aligned with Saudi Arabia and Russia with Iran.  --  But veteran Russia journalist Mary Dejevsky of the Univ. of Buckingham said in the Guardian Thursday that Russia should not be seen as challenging the U.S., but as trying to preserve the Syrian state.  --  "In Russia’s view, as Putin set out at the U.N.," she said, "the Assad government is all that stands in the way of complete victory for ISIS and the de facto disappearance of the Syrian state."[2]  --  Syria is much closer to Russia (about 250 miles) than it is the U.S. (about 5,300 miles), and Russia considers anarchy in Syria to be a threat to Russian national security.  --  "For Putin, the priority is the preservation of the Syrian state.  --  He looks at Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, and sees Western interventions that have resulted in anarchy.  --   He foresees the same for Syria if the West sees toppling Assad, rather than combating ISIS, as the priority." ...

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NEWS: On first day of campaign in Syria, US accuses Russia of targeting non-ISIS forces

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The Pentagon complained Wednesday that the first Russian strikes in Syria did not target ISIS, the Financial Times of London reported.  --  "One of the Russian targets was Tajamaa al-Ezza (Dignity Gathering), a rebel group assisted by the international joint operations room in Jordan, a military co-operation body that includes the U.S.," the paper said.[1]  --  COMMENT:  Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom the U.S. tried to isolate as an international renegade in 2014 when he resisted a NATO-backed coup in Ukraine and responded by annexing to the Russian Federation the historically Russian territory of Crimea, seemed intent on tweaking the U.S. in his U.N. General Assembly address on Monday, denouncing the U.S.-led coalition’s air strikes in Syria during the past year "as violating international law because they were backed neither by a U.N. Security Council resolution nor approval from the Syrian government."  --  Putin has a point:  it is not clear what international principle (other than American supremacism) can ground the Obama administration's notion that it is the arbiter of who can and cannot be attacked in the Syrian free-for-all, which the U.S. blames on Bashar al-Assad but which American efforts to destabilize and eliminate Assad played a major role in creating.  --  "The Russian president insisted that support for Mr. Assad’s forces was the only legitimate way to fight ISIS and equated other armed groups fighting in Syria -- some of which are supported by the U.S. and its allies -- with terrorists," the Financial Times added, concluding:  "Russian officials said Moscow did not exclude broadening its campaign beyond Syria and its parliamentary mandate did not limit the use of Russia’s military to one country." ...

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 01 October 2015 15:26 Read more...
 

NEWS: After 'humiliating failure,' US accepts Russian campaign against ISIS

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After Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin met in New York on Sept. 28, the Pentagon said it would be opening a channel of communication with Russia to "avoid conflict" with Russian aircraft operating in the skies over Syria, the London Guardian reported Tuesday.[1]  --  "Russia has sent more than two dozen military jets -- including the Sukhoi Su-24 bomber; the Su-25 close air support 'Frogfoot'; and surveillance drones -- to Assad’s western Latakia air base," Spencer Ackerman noted.  --  Meanwhile the U.S. is conducting "daily airstrikes against ISIS forces, mostly in the Syrian east that the jihadist army has wrested from Assad’s control."  --  After a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that Russia and Iran will not contemplate a Syrian future without Bashar al-Assad.  --  The U.S., Britain, France, and other Western powers, though, take the position that "We need a Syria free from I.S. and Assad" (emphasis added), which Putin characterized as "an enormous mistake."[2]    --  The Economist said that what all these developments mean is the general recognition that Obama's Syria strategy, which UFPPC qualified a year ago as a "quintessentially unwise dumb war," has humiliatingly failed.  --  "Syria’s conflagration has become a manifold nightmare:  for America’s security; the Middle East’s stability; and for Syria’s own wretched people.  --  And the reality is that Mr. Obama’s light-touch, tactical response to its conflagration has run its course.  --  If he cannot find common cause with Mr. Putin, he will come under increasing pressure to launch a much more vigorous and costly American campaign against I.S., the many risks of which would now include that of a proxy war between America and Russia.  --  It is a prospect Mr. Obama must dread even more than he would a deeply humiliating compromise with Mr. Putin."[3] ...

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ANALYSIS: Syrian Kurd calls ISIS's defeat his group's 'main goal'

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A Kurdish leader has told Patrick Cockburn of the London Independent that he considers ISIS a greater danger than Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and said that ISIS's defeat should be the "main goal" of Kurds.[1] ...

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NEWS: Syria crisis leads to first high-level U.S.-Russia military contact in more than a year

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Under the pressure of events the Obama administration's pique at Russia's 2014 retrieval of Crimea is abating.  --  "As the first Russian combat aircraft arrived in Syria, the Obama administration reached out to Moscow on Friday to try to coordinate actions in the war zone and avoid an accidental escalation," the New York Times reported.[1]  --  The BBC said that the direct contact between the chiefs of the world's two most powerful militaries was the first since August 2014.[2]  --  Both are now deeply involved in Syria, but with different ends.  --  Russia sees Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a longtime ally and a bulwark against ISIS and the waves of migrants fleeing the country.  --  But the Obama administration is still seeking to engineer the removal of its old adversary.  --  The U.S. does not know whether Russia's moves are "to secure a bridgehead to re-supply Mr. Assad" or if they "herald a Russian intervention in the fighting"; for what it's worth, Russia's defense minister told the U.S. secretary of defense that Moscow's moves were "defensive in nature," the BBC said.[2]  --  The principal aims of their initial talks is "deconfliction," Reuters said, i.e. the avoidance of accidental military interactions.[3]  --  COMMENT:  Signs that the U.S. is adapting to new realities are hard to find.  --  Secretary of State John Kerry is still talking about "the goal of a political transition that leads to a stable, whole, united, secular Syria," but anyone with eyes to see knows that "a stable, whole, united, secular Syria" will probably not be seen in our lifetimes.  --  At least U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is talking to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.  --  But the character of the U.S. government's thinking on Syria despite the evidently epic nature of the turmoil unfolding there and elsewhere could be seen when a minor figure in the U.S. stable of defense advisers, Andrew Weiss, speculated that Russia's recent military moves in Syria were but a way for Russian President Vladimir Putin to "put himself in the spotlight" and not "basically be ignored" when he comes to New York next week....

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COMMENTARY: 'This Humpty Dumpty will never be put together again'

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On Monday, George Kerevan, journalist, economist, and M.P. from East Lothian (Scotland), offered the sort of historical perspective on the current Middle East crisis that is rare in American mainstream media.  --  "Here is the reality behind the refugee crisis and the plague of religious wars that have engulfed the Middle East and North Africa:  we are witnessing the unravelling of the artificial states, with their artificial boundaries, invented wholesale by the Western imperial powers at the close of the Great War," Kerevan wrote in The National (Glasgow).[1]  --  "That great refugee tide is fleeing the final death agony of a flawed political settlement created by British and French politicians at the end of the First World War."  --  It is, Kerevan said, a "settlement that can’t be stabilized, restored, sorted, or repaired -- either with drones or diplomacy."  --  "This Humpty Dumpty will never be put back together again."  --  Kerevan's conclusions are sobering:  "The religious and ethnic conflicts in the Middle East will take at least 50 years to burn out.  --  The only realistic policy solution is patience, containment and compromise -- all of which will cost Western money.  --  We can’t bomb our way to a solution.  --  In the interim, we need an understanding in Britain that we can’t conjure up the fantasy of imminent stability in Syria or Libya as a solution to the refugee crisis.  --  Artificial Syria is no more.  --  Invented Libya is no more.  --  And the West is culpable.  --  Which means it is our moral duty to take in those fleeing, suffering masses.  --  It is the recompense we owe them." ...

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NEWS: Media seem to be exaggerating Russian military moves in Syria

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The London Independent on Friday called into question the Russian military escalation in Syria that international mainstream media like CBS News [Juan Zarate: "This is an escalation . . . open and brazen" (Sept. 12)] and TF1 [Claire Chazal: "le renforcement de la présence militaire russe" (Sept. 12)] have been touting.  --  "Overall, there is little evidence that at this stage Russia has substantially increased its existing mission [in Syria] -- providing advice and instruction -- probably numbering in the hundreds, plus aircraft engineers and logistics specialists protected by Russian marines," Patrick Cockburn said.[1]  --  He called attention to an analysis posted on the website Bellingcat that concluded:  "our team believes that currently Russian marines have been moved to Syria to guard and strengthen the Tartus depot as well as the airbase close to Latakia.  --  We believe infantry does not take part in the fighting.  --  However, we believe that Russian vehicles with Russian crews do go into battle.  --  Support is also rendered at least by Russian UAVs." ...

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United for Peace of Pierce County meets 7:00-8:30 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of every month at First United Methodist Church in Tacoma (621 Tacoma Avenue South).

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