Drawing: the Best Way to Learn – Drawing should not be about performance, but about process – A way of taking in the world – by Anne Quito (Quartz)

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“I just can’t draw.” It’s a refrain most adults say when confronted with a blank piece of paper. Something happens in our teenage years that makes most of us shy away from drawing, fretting that our draftsmanship skills aren’t up to par, and leaving it to the “artists” among us.

But we’ve been thinking about drawing all wrong, says the design historian D.B. Dowd. In his illuminating new book, titled Stick Figures: Drawing as a Human Practice, Dowd argues that putting a pencil to paper shouldn’t be about making art at all.

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“We have misfiled the significance of drawing because we see it as a professional skill instead of a personal capacity,” he writes. “This essential confusion has stunted our understanding of drawing and kept it from being seen as a tool for learning above all else.”

Put another way: Drawing shouldn’t be about performance, but about process. It’s not just for the “artists,” or even the weekend hobbyists. Think of it as a way of observing the world and learning, something that can be done anytime, like taking notes, jotting down a thought, or sending a text.

Mistaking drawing for art is embedded in our institutions, says Dowd, a professor of art and American culture at the Washington University in St. Louis. For centuries, schools have lumped drawing with painting and confined it in an “aesthetic cage,” he says.

Our anxiety around drawing starts around puberty, when we begin self-critiquing our abilities to render a perfect likeness, Dowd says. “The self-consciousness associated with ‘good’ drawing, or a naive form of realism, is mostly to blame,” he explains to Quartz. ”If you take a step back, and define drawing as symbolic mark-making, it’s obvious that all human beings draw. Diagrams, maps, doodles, smiley faces: These are all drawings!”

Drawing Helps Us Think Better

At its core, drawing is a problem-solving tool. Scientists are often avid doodlers, like the Fields-Medal-winning mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, for instance. “The process of drawing something helps you somehow to stay connected,” she explained in a 2014 interview. “I am a slow thinker, and have to spend a lot of time before I can clean up my ideas and make progress.”

Even if you’re not tackling hyperbolic geometry, drawing is useful for our daily affairs from giving directions, taking meeting notes, outlining an presentation, or making grocery lists. It fosters close observation, analytical thinking, patience, even humility.

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An Alternative to Google-Based Learning

Digital technology coddles us by giving us shortcuts to “instant knowledge,” but drawing breaks our collective instinct to Google everything, argues Dowd. He cautions against relying too much on easy paths to learning:

When we ask for something from Google Image Search—say “airplane”—we get contemporary definitions of same, which in that case yields thousands of pictures of commercial airliners. That’s a narrow result from a general inquiry, and one version of how aggregation keeps us from seeing a wider world. Drawing works in exactly the opposite way: close observation of almost any particular engages the senses and heightens experience, making the world seem bigger, not smaller.

There is a physical dimension to this, too. Our brains got bigger when our thumbs moved into an opposable position vis-a-vis our fingers. Our hands, fixed on the ends of our arms, brought us news of the world, and we evolved rapidly to take advantage. Our manual capacities are critical to our understanding of the world. Isn’t it weird, and a wicked paradox, that the digital has eroded the manual?

Dowd, who has been critical of the graphic design industry’s over-reliance on digital illustration tools like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, argues that drawing isn’t necessarily anti-tech: “I have no beef with technology per se—after all, pencil and paper is a technology. But drawing offers simplicity and directness compared to other information gathering procedures.”

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Freedom. Photo by Reuters/Thomas Peter.

Drawing Makes Us Better Humans

There’s another fundamental reason for using drawing as a learning tool: It can bring out our better qualities as people. “If practiced in the service of inquiry and understanding, drawing does enforce modesty,” says Dowd. “You quickly discover how little you know.”

The observation that’s necessary for drawing is also enriching. “Drawing makes us slow down, be patient, pay attention,” he says. “Observation itself is respectful, above all else.”

In the closing chapter of Stick Figures, Dowd argues that drawing can even make us better citizens, in the sense that it trains us to wrestle with evidence and challenge assumptions. “It might seem sort of nutty, but I do think that drawing can be a form of citizenship,” he says. “Observation, inquiry, and steady effort are good for us.”

This form of individual sense-making is a practice that’s ever more vital at a time when we’re inundated with falsehoods and bad faith, says Dowd: “When we look hard and listen carefully, how are we not led back to questions of justice, of what is right?”

Perhaps drawing pads should be standard issue in government offices and boardrooms.

Random Line Drawings From the Files –

Kurdish Participation in the Armenian Genocide of 1915 – by Morgan E. Hunter – 30 Oct 2019

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A bipartisan 405-11 majority of the US House of Representatives decided Tuesday to condemn the 1915 massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire. The result came after decades of attempts by the Armenian lobby, which had been successfully opposed by Turkey and its friends in the United States, especially – until recently – the pro-Israeli Jewish lobby. (A fascinating article in the Jewish Daily Forward by Nathan Guttman from 2010 entitled “Jewish Lobby Sits Out Vote on Armenian Genocide,” describes how deteriorating relations between Israel and Turkey had led the Jewish lobby to stay largely neutral in a very close but unsuccessful vote that year.)

The huge margin this year was primarily the result of President Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Northern Syria – an intervention that began under Obama and was always pushed primarily by the US intelligence community, but also supported by Israel and its US supporters as an anti-Assad operation. No attempt was made to link the current vote to any anniversary of the massacre itself. The timing of the vote was clearly meant instead to signal disapproval of Trump’s actions and of Turkey’s military campaign to take control of the border area between Syria and Turkey from Kurdish militias that had captured control of the region during the recent Syrian civil war.

Uyghur Fighters in Syria

(Islamist Militia in Syria)

Turkey’s use of Sunni Arab militias in the campaign had been particularly attacked by advocates of the US Syrian adventure. Ironically, those same Arab militias which are now being correctly described by deep state spokesmen as “thugs” and “murderers” were only six months ago being praised by these same people as the “Free Syrian Army” and “moderate opposition”. Before that these same militias were actually funded by the CIA and their leaders were posing for photos with John McCain.

McCain and Islamists

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The New York Times account made the connection with the Kurds explicit:

Livid at Turkey’s bloody military assault in northern Syria, some lawmakers saw an uneasy parallel between the Armenian genocide and the bitter warnings from Kurdish forces that the withdrawal of American forces would lead to the ethnic cleansing of their people.

“Recent attacks by the Turkish military against the Kurdish people are a stark reminder of the danger in our own time,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said in a speech on Tuesday.

Not widely known in the United States, but very well known in the region, is that among the most enthusiastic participants in the Armenian massacres of 1915 were Kurdish Muslim tribesmen, who largely inhabited the same regions of Anatolia as Armenian Christian peasants. This fact also goes unmentioned in the New York Times piece, but can be found by a casual perusal of Wikipedia, and the associated footnotes.

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The Ottoman government of World War I (whose most important leaders, such as Kemal Pasha and Enver Pasha, were actually Albanians by ethnicity) considered Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians as a potential fifth column for the Russians, and made every effort to encourage Muslim attacks on them. The best parallel is with anti-Jewish pogroms in Czarist Russia of that same era, which were encouraged by government officials but mostly carried out by local Polish and Ukrainian peasants.

In the context of the House resolution, it is ironically appropriate that the only Kurdish political party that has actually acknowledged that Kurds participated willingly in the Armenian massacres, and were not just ordered to do so by the Ottoman government – namely the PKK – is the only Kurdish party that is condemned by the US Government as a terrorist organization. I will discuss the PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the PYD in a subsequent article.

Morgan E. Hunter received her PhD in Classics from the University of California at Berkeley in 2019. She also tweeted as @Molotov_1917 as part of the award-winning #1917LIVE Twitter project that reconstructed the daily events of the Russian Revolution and the beginning of the Russian Civil War.

US Air Force’s X-37B Space Plane Lands After Record 780-Day Mystery Mission – by Tariq Malik (Spaceflight ) 27 Oct 2019

A U.S. Air Force X-37B space plane, an unpiloted miniature space shuttle, is seen after landing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility on Oct. 27, 2019 to end its record 780-day OTV-5 mission.

A U.S. Air Force X-37B space plane, an unpiloted miniature space shuttle, is seen after landing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility on Oct. 27, 2019 to end its record 780-day OTV-5 mission.
(Image: © U.S. Air Force)

The U.S. Air Force’s unpiloted X-37B space plane landed back on Earth Sunday (Oct. 27) after a record 780 days in orbit , racking up the fifth ultra-long mission for the military’s mini-shuttle fleet. 

The X-37B’s Orbital Test Vehicle 5 (OTV-5) mission ended with a smooth autonomous touchdown at the Shuttle Landing Facility of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida at 3:51 a.m. EDT (0751 GMT), Air Force officials said. The mission originally launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Sept. 7, 2017.

With the successful landing, OTV-5 broke the previous X-37B mission record of 718 days set by the OTV-4 mission in May 2017. OTV-5 is the second X-37B mission to land at NASA’s Shuttle Landing Facility (OTV-4 was the first), with previous missions landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. 

“The safe return of this spacecraft, after breaking its own endurance record, is the result of the innovative partnership between Government and Industry,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein said in a statement. “The sky is no longer the limit for the Air Force and, if Congress approves, the U.S. Space Force.”

The U.S. Air Force has at least two reusable X-37B spacecraft in its fleet, and both have flown multiple flights. The solar-powered space planes were built by Boeing and feature a miniature payload bay to host experiments or smaller satellites. They were originally designed to spend up to 240 days in orbit.

“The X-37B continues to demonstrate the importance of a reusable spaceplane,” said Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett said in the same statement. “Each successive mission advances our nation’s space capabilities.”

 

Air Force officials have said that the exact nature of X-37B missions are classified, though they have dropped hints about the types of experiments OTV-5 performed in orbit. One payload was the Air Force Research Laboratory Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader, an experiment designed to “test experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipe technologies in the long-duration space environment,” according to an Air Force statement.

OTV-5 also flew to a higher-inclination orbit than previous X-37B flights, suggesting it had new experiments or technology tests in store. In a statement today, Air Force officials confirmed OTV-5 carried multiple experiments and carried smaller satellites into orbit. 

“With a successful landing today, the X-37B completed its longest flight to date and successfully completed all mission objectives,” Randy Walden, Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office director, said in the statement. “This mission successfully hosted Air Force Research Laboratory experiments, among others, as well as providing a ride for small satellites.”

The X-37B space plane was originally developed by NASA in 1999 to serve as a technology test bed for future spacecraft and looks much like a miniature version of  a space shuttle. In 2004, the military’s Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA) took over the project, ultimately turning it over to the U.S. Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office a few years later. 

X-37B vehicles are 29 feet (8.8 meters) long, 9.5 feet (2.9 m) tall and have a wingspan of just under 15 feet (4.6 m). Their payload bays are about the size of a pickup truck bed, about 7 feet long and 4 feet wide (2.1 by 1.2 m).

https://www.space.com/x-37b-space-plane-otv5-lands-after-780-days.html

Bpeomg X 37B space vehicle

Picture the Soviet Union in A Space – Retrofire – 1961

 

 

The song celebrates the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becoming the first human in space, orbiting the Earth once in Vostok 1.  Gagarin described hearing a whistle and an ever-growing din as the rocket trembled all over, and tore itself off the launchpad.
“The noise was no louder than one would expect to hear in a jet plane, but it had a great range of musical tones and timbres that no composer could hope to score, and no musical instrument or human voice could ever reproduce.” Yuri Gagarin

Retired Admiral Calls For Removing Trump “By Whatever Means Necessary” – McRaven Says Active Duty Officers Calling for Military Coup – by Phil Giraldi – 22 Oct 2019

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Admiral William McRaven, who commanded the Navy Seals when Osama bin Laden was captured and killed and who has been riding that horse ever since, announced that if Donald Trump continues to fail to provide the type of leadership the country needs, he should be replaced by whatever means are necessary.

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The op-ed entitled “Our Republic is Under Attack by the President” with the subtitle “If President Trump doesn’t demonstrate the leadership that America needs, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office” was featured in the New York Times, suggesting that the Gray Lady was providing its newspaper of record seal of approval for what might well be regarded as a call for a military coup.

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McRaven’s exact words, after some ringing praise for the military and all its glorious deeds in past wars, were that the soldiers, sailors and marines now must respond because “The America that they believed in was under attack, not from without, but from within.”

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McRaven then elaborated that “These men and women, of all political persuasions, have seen the assaults on our institutions: on the intelligence and law enforcement community, the State Department and the press. They have seen our leaders stand beside despots and strongmen, preferring their government narrative to our own. They have seen us abandon our allies and have heard the shouts of betrayal from the battlefield. As I stood on the parade field at Fort Bragg, one retired four-star general, grabbed my arm, shook me and shouted, ‘I don’t like the Democrats, but Trump is destroying the Republic!’”

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It is a call to arms if there ever was one. Too bad Trump can’t strip McRaven of his pension and generous health care benefits for starters and McRaven might also consider that he could be recalled to active duty by Trump and court martialed under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And the good admiral, who up until 2018 headed the state university system in Texas, might also receive well merited pushback for his assessment of America’s role in the world over the past two decades, in which he was a major player, at least in terms of dealing out punishment. He wrote ““We are the most powerful nation in the world because we try to be the good guys. We are the most powerful nation in the world because our ideals of universal freedom and equality have been backed up by our belief that we were champions of justice, the protectors of the less fortunate.”

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Revisiting the Win-Win-Win-Win Outcome in Syria – by The Saker • 23 Oct 2019

In his recent articleThe Road to Damascus: How the Syria War Was WonPepe Escobar summarized the outcome of the war in Syria in the following way:

“It’s a quadruple win. The U.S. performs a face saving withdrawal, which Trump can sell as avoiding a conflict with NATO ally Turkey. Turkey has the guarantee – by the Russians – that the Syrian Army will be in control of the Turkish-Syrian border. Russia prevents a war escalation and keeps the Russia-Iran-Turkey peace process alive. And Syria will eventually regain control of the entire northeast.”

This otherwise excellent summary overlooks two out of three members of the “Axis of Kindness”, including Israel and the KSA. Of course, later in his analysis Pepe does address these actors, and also includes Kuwait. Furthermore, a thorough discussion of what took place would have to also include China, Hezbollah, Yemen and the EU (well, the ones that matter, the UK and France. The rest are just voiceless colonies of the US).

Most of the analyses of what just took place focused on the “what”. I will try to look into the “why” and the “how” of what just happened in Syria. Still, I don’t propose to make such a detailed analysis, but I do want to re-classify the actors in a somewhat different way: by their relative strength.

It is now time to try to make sense of all this and try answer the question of why one group of relatively strong actors had so much bad luck as to become weaker and weaker, while the weaker became stronger and stronger.

The first thing we need to agree upon is that irrespective of the public posturing, everybody is, and has been, talking to everybody else. This “conversation” could be official and public, or behind closed doors, or even by means of intermediaries and, last but not least, a state version of “body language”: by means of actions which send a message to the other party or parties. Still, while this is certainly true, it is the quality of the communications between the various parties which made all the difference. When, say, Netanyahu or Trump publicly proclaim they they don’t give a damn about anything at all (including international law) and that they reserve the right to threaten or even attack anybody, at any time, for any reason whatsoever, this is a very clear message to, say, the Iranians. But what is that message, really? It says a couple of things:

  1. Resistance is futile because we are so much stronger than you and therefore
  2. We don’t give a damn about you or your national interests and therefore
  3. We are not interested in negotiating with you (or anybody else for that matter). Your only solution is to submit to us

This is really crucial. The US and Israel have proclaimed their total superiority over the entire planet and, specifically, over every single actor in the Middle-East. Furthermore, their entire worldview and ideology is predicated on this very strong sense of military superiority. Ask any Israeli or American what their countries will do if some coalition of local powers is successful in attacking them: they will reply something along the lines of “we will simply nuke all the friggin’ ragheads and sand-n***ers – fuck them!”. This line is always delivered with a tone of absolute finality, a total certitude and the mental equivalent of “’nuff said!”.

Alas, for the Axis of Kindness, this is a completely counter-factual belief. Why?

First, the quick appeal to nukes is an implicit admission that there is something very wrong with the rest of the armed forces of the Axis of Kindness. Furthermore, the real regional powers all understand that it is not in their interest to give the US or Israel a pretext to use nukes. Thus, while, say, the Iranians sure have the means to strike Israel or any one of the many CENTCOM facilities in the Middle-East, they have been very careful to keep their counter-attacks below the dangerous threshold in which the legacy AngloZionist corporate media would be unable to conceal the magnitude of the disaster and demand that nukes be used (yes, if it comes to that, both the Israeli and the US media will demand nuclear strikes just as they cheered for every war of aggression ever committed by the US and Israel).

Second, precisely because the US and Israel are unable to have real allies (they only have colonies run by comprador elites), they cannot operate successfully in a multi-lateral kind of relationship with other actors. The contrast between the US/Israel, on one hand, and Russia and Iran, on the other, could not be greater. Both Russia and Iran understand that having real allies is much more advantageous than having puppets. Why? Because in order to convince somebody to become your ally you absolutely have to offer that party something tangible as part of a compromise goal setting. When this is done, the weaker ally feels that it is defending its own interests and not the interests of a patron which might be unreliable or which might even backstab you.

Third, one of the best US experts on the theory of negotiations, Professor William Zartman, wrote in his seminal book “The Practical Negotiator” that

One of the eternal paradoxes of negotiations is that it allows the weak to confront the strong and still come away with something which should not be possible if weakness and strength were all that mattered (…). Weaker parties tend to seek more formal negotiating forums and to strengthen their hand through organizations (…). Weak states can afford erratic or irresponsible behavior more easily than stronger parties, particularly when the rules of regularity and responsibility favor the strong (…). Weak states do best by rewarding stronger states’ concessions rather than than by “hanging tough” and by opening high to indicate needs and to facilitate rewards (…). The tactics of toughness and softness vary according to the strength of the parties: under symmetry, toughness tends to lead to toughness and under asymmetry to softness, with weaker parties following the leader of stronger parties.

There is a lot to unpack here (and there is much more in this book which I highly recommend to everybody!).

First, let’s compare and contrast the Russia and US approaches to creating negotiation fora. The US cooked up theFriends of Syriaforum which was most remarkable in two unique ways: first, in spite of calling itself “Friends of Syria” this group only contained a who’s who of Syria’s, Iran’s and Russia’s enemies (just like to “Friends of Libya was a cornucopia of countries hostile to Libya). Secondly, the self-evident (and not really denied) purpose and function of this group was to bypass the UNSC. There is nothing new here, the US has been trying to replace the UN and its role in upholding international law with all sorts of gimmicks including “coalition of the willing” or appeals for a “rules-based international order”. Needless to say, with the possible exception of a few truly dim propagandists, all these tricks are designed to avoid the already existing international fora, beginning with the United Nations. Russia, in contrast, not only used the UN for all its (admitted limited) worth and succeeded in forcing the US to accept resolutions on Syria (or the Ukraine for that matter) which the US did not want to agree to, but which they could not veto on political considerations. Not only that, Russia also created the Astana peace process which, unlike the US created fantasies, brought together different parties including parties hostile to each other. The most brilliant move of the Russians was to impose on all parties the notion that “those willing to negotiate are legitimate parties whose interests must be considered while those who refused to sit down are all terrorists“. Of course, the many al-Qaeda franchises tried to play the “rebranding game”, but this did not help: you can change names once every 24 hours if you want, but if you ain’t sitting down at the negotiating table you are a terrorist and, therefore, a legitimate target for Russian/Iranian/Syrian attacks. Once the Empire had to accept these terms, backed by a UNSC resolution, it became locked-in in a process which they could only stop by means of a military victory.

And here we come back to the boots on the ground issue. For all its combined military power, the Axis of Kindness does not have a ground force it can put on the ground. Whereas the Syrians, Hezbollah, Iran and Russia very neatly and most effectively (even if informally) agreed to the following assignment of tasks:

  1. The Syrians will let the Russians reorganize their armed forces, especially a few elite units, and slowly, step-by-step liberate their lands.
  2. The Iranians and Hezbollah will act like a fire-brigade and will directly support the Syrian operations with their own forces in crucial sectors of the line of contact.
  3. The Russians will take control of the Syrian airspace and provide the Syrians, Iran and Hezbollah protection from AngloZionist missile and bomb strikes. Finally, Russian special operation forces will be engaged in high priority operations which are beyond Iranian or Hezbollah capabilities.

What was the biggest obstacle to the Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah-Russian plans?

Turkey, of course. The Turks have always hated Assad (father and son) and their Neo-Ottoman delusions still give them a, shall we say, “special desire” to intervene beyond their own borders. Furthermore, Turkey also very much saw Syria as a contributing factor to their “Kurdish problem”. Finally, Turkey did have the kind of military which made it possible for it to threaten intervention or even intervene in Iraq and Syria (obviously not against Iran). Thus, what Russia needed to do was take Turkey out of the equation or, at least, weaken Turkey as much as possible. And that is exactly what Russia did.

For the Kremlin the shooting down of the Su-24 was tantamount to a declaration of war. Except that the Russians, quite aware of their relative weakness if compared to the US+NATO+CENTCOM+Turkey, wisely decided not to retaliate in kind and, say, strike Turkish military facilities. But Putin did promise “you won’t get away with just not selling us tomatoes” (Russia imposed an embargo on a number of Turkish export goods). Besides a number of political and economic sanctions, you can be sure that the Russians decided to use all their methods and means to weaken and destabilize both Erdogan personally and Turkey as a whole. Then, here is what happened:

  • On November 24th, 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24
  • In the next days, Russia closed down the north Syrian airspace, severed all contacts with the Turkish military, promised to shoot down any other Turkish aircraft attacking any target in Syria (regardless from what airspace) and imposed political and economic sanctions.
  • In December Putin ominously declared “Если кто-то думает, что, совершив подлое военное преступление: убийство наших людей — они отделаются помидорами, или какими-то ограничениями в строительной и других отраслях, то они глубоко заблуждаются” (“if somebody thinks that by committing a vile war crime they will get away with tomatoes or some type of restrictions in the construction and other industries, they are profoundly mistaken“).
  • In June 2016, Erdogan sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin expressing sympathy and ‘deep condolences’.
  • On 15 July 2016, a coup d’état was attempted against Erdogan and almost cost him his life. By all accounts, Russia played some kind of behind-the-scenes role and saved Erdogan’s life and power.
  • Following the failed coup, Turkey embarked on a major re-alignment and cast its lot with Russia and Iran, even if that meant having to accept Assad in power in Syria.

What exactly Russia did behind the scenes (versions range from warning Erdogan to actually using Russian special forces to evacuate him in extremis) will probably remain a secret for many years, but neither does it really matter. All we know for sure, is that after the coup, Erdogan made a 180 and completely changed his tune. My personal belief is that the Russians used their covert means to entice the US and its Gulenist CIA puppets to try to overthrow Erdogan only to then foil their coup attempt. I find the two other main options (the US is fantastically stupid and incompetent and Russia is an amazingly lucky country) much harder to believe. But even if we accept these options, or some combination thereof, Russia still superbly played her cards (by, for example, using the pretext of Turkey’s downing the Su-24 to strongly beef up Russian air defense capabilities in Syria) and Turkey was removed as a “powerful hostile actor” from the Russian equation of the Middle-East.

After that, what was left was only a kind of “political and military mopping-op operation.

Russia repeatedly tried to make the Kurds realize that their strategy of fighting every single neighbor they had was a non-starter which will inevitably backfire. Alas for the Kurdish people, their leaders were either too delusional, or too corrupt, to understand this. In the meantime, Erdogan and the rest of the Turkish political establishment were adamant they Turkey would under no circumstances allow the Syrian (or Iraqi) Kurds to ever establish their own state.

For the Kremlin, the solution was obvious: use the Turks to force the Kurds to accept the inevitable but don’t let the Turks establish a permanent invasion force in northern Syria.

True, the Russians have voiced their rather flaccid disapproval of the Turkish operation and they called everybody to come back to the negotiation table. This is one rather rare example in which Russia’s rhetoric did not match her actions because in reality the Turkish operation would have been absolutely impossible if the Russians had not given Ankara an unofficial, but very trustworthy, go ahead beforehand. Furthermore, according to at least one report (which I find reasonably credible) the Russian Aerospace Forces even scrambled a pair of Su-35S to engage a Turkish pair of F-16 which, as soon as they saw what was about to happen, decided to make a run for their lives. Yet, in other instances, we know for a fact that F-16’s were used against Kurdish targets. It is pretty clear that the Russians not only told Erdogan what was acceptable and what was not, they also “fine tuned” the Turkish operation just so it would force the Kurds to negotiate while not making it possible for the Turks to establish any kind of meaningful presence in northern Syria.

What happened next was a domino effect. The Kurds tried to fight as best they could, but everybody realized that they were doomed. The Americans, very predictably and, I would argue, very logically, also ran for their lives. Trump used this (totally true, but nevertheless pretext) to get out of Syria (at least officially) not only to protect US lives, but to also get out of the political quicksand which Syria has become for the Axis of Kindness.

Last but not least, the Israelis were absolutely livid, and for good reason: there is no doubt that they are the biggest losers in this entire process and they now find themselves in the situation of depending on a pretend superpower which cannot deliver anything of value (except loads of dollars which the Israelis spend on a lot of useless hardware). The recent events in the region have not only shown that US ground forces plainly suck, they have also show that US guarantees are worthless while US weapons systems are vastly over-rated.

Here we come to what I believe is the single most important development of this conflict: ALL the many Israeli plans for the region collapsed one after the other. Most pathetically, all the trips Netanyahu made to Russia to try to con the Russians into taking Israel seriously have failed. Why? Because the Russians have long understood that Israel is a paper tiger with impressive “roar” (aka the massive international Zionist propaganda machine known as the “western free media” among infants and dull people) but who is unable to follow up its loud roaring with anything more tangible. Yes, I know, the worse things go for the Israelis, the bigger their boastful propaganda becomes: after having promised that the “invincible IDF” conducted “hundreds” of strikes in Syria and Iraq they now make noises about having a “killing list” which includes Hassan Nasrallah. Right. As for their “hundreds” of airstrikes, they must be the most inept and poorly executed air campaign since the total failure of NATO’s air campaign in Kosovo. Ask yourself this basic question:

If the Israelis have been conducting “hundreds” of airstrikes in Syria – why have they not resulted in any tangible effects on the military situation on the ground?

After all, when the Russians intervened, they changed the course of the entire war. In fact, the (very small) Russian Aerospace task force in Syria reversed the course of that war.

Why did the Russian air campaign yield such truly phenomenal results and why did the Israel air campaign yield absolutely nothing (except some much needed psychotherapy for the many Zionists who suffer form what Gilad Atzmon brilliantly referred to as “pre-traumatic stress disorder”)?

The answer is simple: one was a real military campaign while the other was just “feel good” PR.

A very good example of Zartman’s thesis that “Weak states can afford erratic or irresponsible behavior more easily than stronger parties, particularly when the rules of regularity and responsibility favor the strong” can be found in the relative position of, on one hand, Iran, Hezbollah and the Houthis and, on the other, the US and Israel. Not that Iran or its allies have acted irresponsibly, they have not, but when they reacted, it was always with a double message: we don’t want war, but we are ready for it. But when the US engages in rather crude threats (just think of all the silly threats Trump has made during his presidency, including the most recent ones to wage war on Turkey if needed, not a joke, check here), these threats always end up further weakening the US. It is a true blessing for Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and the Syrians that their enemies are not only so inept, but also so good at cornering themselves in the worst kind of situations. In the end, the US still managed to lose face, even if you were never told about it. What do I mean?

Just look at what just took place: Trump sent Erdogan such a crude and rude letter (he sounds like a 10 year old), which was so insulting to Erdogan that he not only tossed it in the trash bin, but he also made sure to tell his aides to “leak” to the media how Erdogan treated Trump’s silly threats and insults. Turkey also launched a full-scale invasion and clearly challenged the US to do something about it. At this point, the two other “geniuses” in the White House (Pompeo and VP Pence) had to scramble to Ankara in what was clearly a desperate “damage control” mission, beg for a meeting, and then beg the Turks to agree to an entirely symbolic ceasefire which gave just enough time for the Kurds to agree to all the Syrian terms and to let the Syrian army take control of huge swaths of land without firing a single shot. Now here is the beauty of it all:

Pompeo and Pence demanded that Erdogan agree exactly to the kind of balanced outcome the Russians have been advocating all along! I am amazed that the Dem-media has not accused Pompeo and Pence of being Russian agents because what they just “demanded” and “obtained” from Turkey is exactly what Putin wanted 🙂

Of course, this was all wrapped in all sorts of threats and promises to wipe out this or that country (including Turkey, a NATO member state which could, in theory, invoke Art 5 and ask NATO to defend it against the US! Of course, this would not happen as this would mark the end of NATO) and all the rest of the obligatory barking we always hear from the US when the “best military in world history” fails to achieve anything at all (even if Trump seriously claims that the US – not Russia – defeated the Takfiris the West has so lovingly been federating, supporting, I strongly believe, directing them for decades). Yes, Trump did the right thing when he declared that he wanted the US forces out of Syria, but let’s not be naive about that either: he did not order that because he is some great humanitarian, but because if the Turks, the Kurds, the Syrians or anybody else had taken a hard shot at the US forces in the region, this would have resulted in a bigger war which would certainly cost Trump his presidency.

Which brings us to the Russian task force in Syria. As I said, it is strong, then weak and then strong again. It all depends on your assumptions:

If we look just at the Russian task force in Khmeinim and Tartus, we see that it is protected by cutting edge Russian weapons systems including S-400s, Su-34s, Su-35S, EW stations, battle management stations, etc. This is more than enough to beat back a pretty powerful missile and/or bombing strike. In this case we can think of the Russian task force in Syria as very powerful and capable of dealing with many types of attack.

On the next level, however, it becomes obvious that the biggest weakness of the Russian task force in Syria has been, from day 1, its very small size. Irrespective of its sophistication, the Russian air defenses can be over-run by a determined attack by any combination of Axis of Kindness forces simply because at the end of the day, air defenses are always a part of a numbers game. Even in the best of cases, one Russian air defense missile can only engage one attacking missile or aircraft. For an attack to be successful, all the Axis of Kindness forces need to do is calculate how many missiles the Russians have, then shoot about 1.5x that number of (rather antiquated) Tomahawks, and once the Russians use up their stores, follow up with a second wave of missiles, this time modern and difficult to target ones. At this point the Russians would have to reply with only their AA artillery and their EW capabilities. Inevitably, there will come a point when they will be overwhelmed. In this scenario, Russia is the weaker party and the Russian task force is doomed in case of a sustained US/NATO/CENTCOM attack.

Finally, there is a third level which the AngloZionists have to consider: the Russians have made it pretty clear that in case of an attack on the Russian task force in Syria, Russia will use her strategic striking capabilities to protect her task force. Such measures could include: long range cruise missile attack and air strikes (possibly coming from the Iranian airspace). In this case, as my friend Andrey Martyanov explained many times, including in his article

Russia’s Stand-Off Capability: the 800 Pound Gorilla in Syria which he concluded by the follow words:

“This simple, single operational fact shows precisely why for two years a relatively small Russian military contingent has been able to operate so effectively in Syria and, in fact, dictate conditions on the ground and in the area of its operations. The answer is simple—many adrenaline junkies are lowered in a cage into the water to face sharks, with only metal rods separating them and sharks’ deadly jaws. Yet, up there, in the boat one can always put a man with a gun which can be used in case of emergency to a deadly effect should the cage give. The Russian military contingent in Syria is not just some military base—it is the force tightly integrated with Russian Armed Forces that have enough reach and capability to make anyone face some extremely unpleasant choices, including the fact that it is Russia, not the US, who controls escalation to a threshold and that can explain a non-stop anti-Russian hysteria in US media since the outcome of the war in Syria became clear”

Here, again, we have the same stance as Iran’s: we don’t want war, but we are ready for it. One could say that the US stance is the polar opposite: we do want war (heck, we need it for political and economic reasons!), but we are completely unprepared for it (including psychologically).

Conclusion: remember all those who are now proven wrong!

Remember all the folks who predicted with absolute confidence that Russia was “selling out” Syria? They began their tune when Russia prevented a US attack on Syria by catching the US at its word and offering to remove all chemical weapons from Syria. Not only were these weapons useless, they were a prefect pretext for the Axis of Kindness to strike Syria. The US was livid, but had to accept. Well, all the “Putin/Russia is/are selling out” Syria immediately claimed that Russia was disarming Syria to make it easier for Israel to attack.

Yet, in reality, no (meaningful) Israeli attack ever materialized.

Then the same folks claimed that Russia “allowed” Israel to strike Syria, that the Russians turned off their S-300s/S-400s, etc, etc, etc.

Yet, in reality, the US pretty much gave up, while the Israelis claimed “hundreds” of sorties. Maybe they even did hit a few empty and therefore unprotected buildings, who knows?

Then there was the massive choir of trolls declaring that Russia would partition Syria. Yet, for all the convincing sounding arguments (at least to those who did not understand Russia or the Middle-East), one by one the various “good terrorists” strongholds fell to the Syrian military. Now more Syrian land has been liberated than ever before. As for the Turks, they can dream on about a bigger Turkey or about creating some kind of security/buffer zone, but they understand that they cannot do that if Russia and Syria both oppose this. In fact, Turkey has officially promised to respect the territorial integrity of Syria (see here, in Russian)

Memorandum of Understanding Between Turkey and the Russian Federation

October 22, 2019 (emphasis added by me, VS)

President of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President of The Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin agreed on the following points:

1. The two sides reiterate their commitment to the preservation of the political unity and territorial integrity of Syria and the protection of national security of Turkey.

2. They emphasize their determination to combat terrorism in all forms and manifestations and to disrupt separatist agendas in the Syrian territory.

3. In this framework, the established status quo in the current Operation Peace Spring area covering Tel Abyad and Ras Al Ayn with a depth of 32 km will be preserved.

4. Both sides reaffirm the importance of the Adana Agreement. The Russian Federation will facilitate the implementation of the Adana Agreement in the current circumstances.

5. Starting 12.00 noon of October 23, 2019, Russian military police and Syrian border guards will enter the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border, outside the area of Operation Peace Spring, to facilitate the removal of YPG elements and their weapons to the depth of 30 km from the Turkish-Syrian border, which should be finalized in 150 hours. At that moment, joint Russian-Turkish patrols will start in the west and the east of the area of Operation Peace Spring with a depth of 10 km, except Qamishli city.

6. All YPG elements and their weapons will be removed from Manbij and Tal Rifat.

7. Both sides will take necessary measures to prevent infiltrations of terrorist elements.

8. Joint efforts will be launched to facilitate the return of refugees in a safe and voluntary manner.

9. A joint monitoring and verification mechanism will be established to oversee and coordinate the implementation of this memorandum.

10. The two sides will continue to work to find a lasting political solution to the Syrian conflict within Astana Mechanism and will support the activity of the Constitutional Committee. The key elements of this MoU are

  1. US out, Russia in
  2. Syria’s borders cannot be changed

You can see the full press conference of Putin and Erdogan by clicking here.

Finally, this is the reaction of one of the worst AngloZionist propaganda outlets in Europe:

”Die Kapitulation des Westens” (The Capitulation of the West)
”Die Kapitulation des Westens” (The Capitulation of the West)

I can’t say that I disagree with their conclusion 🙂

Finally, does this “capitulation talk” not remind you of something else we have all seen recently?

Yes, of course, the Ukronazi “Ні капітуляції!” (no to the capitulation!).

Again, what does all that talk of “capitulation” strongly suggest?

If this is not a triumph of Russian diplomacy then I don’t know what this is!

And, just for those who disagree, let me throw in a rhetorical question:

If Putin is such a loser who “sells out” everything and who works with/for Israel and for Netanyahu specifically, if Russia is so weak and clueless, why is it that it is not the Russian people who are denouncing a “capitulation” but, instead, why are all the enemies of Russia freaking out about capitulating?

* * *

And now, where do we go from here?

Actually, I am very cautiously optimistic since there is a huge difference between Russia and the US: the US needs constant wars simply in order to survive, whereas Russia needs peace to flourish. Now that the Russians are the biggest player in the Middle-East (well, with the Iranians, of course), they will use the fact that they have pretty good relationships with everybody, including (former?) enemies of Russia like the KSA or the UAE.

Of course, there shall be no peace between Israel and the rest of the Middle-East, if only because by its very nature Israel is a mortal threat to every country in the region, even for countries which currently eagerly collaborate with Israel (like the KSA). The only way for the long suffering Middle-East to finally live in peace again would be for the Zionist “occupation regime over Jerusalem to vanish from the arena of time” to use the famous, and often mistranslated, words of Ayatollah Khomeini. The current Iranian Supreme leader also clearly spelled out the only manner in which the Palestinian question can be solved peace will be achieved in the Middle-East:

“The Islamic Republic’s proposal to help resolve the Palestinian issue and heal this old wound is a clear and logical initiative based on political concepts accepted by world public opinion, which has already been presented in detail. We do not suggest launching a classic war by the armies of Muslim countries, or throwing immigrant Jews into the sea, or mediation by the UN and other international organizations. We propose holding a referendum with [the participation of] the Palestinian nation. The Palestinian nation, like any other nation, has the right to determine their own destiny and elect the governing system of the country.”

Both Iranian leaders are absolutely correct. There shall never be peace in the region as long as a crazed racist regime which has only contempt for the rest of the planet continues its slow motion genocide of the indigenous population of Palestine.

In the meantime, now that Syria, Russia, Iran, the Houthis, Hezbollah and the Shia forces in Iraq have successfully shown Uncle Shmuel the door out of Syria, the last Israeli plan (a “plan Z” perhaps) has now collapsed along with any hopes of creating an independent Kurdistan.

Israel is in no condition to take on such a powerful coalition. I would argue that even the US cannot win against this force, even if it still is capable of triggering a bloodbath (just like the Israelis did in 2006).

Of all the strategic collapses we have seen under the Obama and Trump presidencies, the loss of influence in the Middle-East is probably the biggest one of them all. This is a very positive development for the region and for the world. Now let’s just hope that whoever makes it into the White House in 2020 will understand that this is a done deal and will not try to make “the Empire great again” and reverse that course as any such attempts will result in a major regional war.

PS: here is a video of the “best military in history” being pelted by stones and veggies by disgusted Kurds while the US forces evacuate in a hurry. Really says it all, doesn’t it? Feel the love 😉

It also appears that the same sentiment is shared by the Iraqis who are now trying to take legal action to finally also give the boot to Uncle Shmuel, see here: https://www.rt.com/news/471645-iraq-pleads-un-help-us-troops/

Again, feel the love, the respect and the (lack) of fear

……………….

The Saker