India celebrates individuals wildly but the Olympic record is shameful

August 26, 2016

The two Indian medal winners surely deserve all the celebration and adulation they are now receiving. They have overcome corruption and incompetence and indifference that is endemic of the state government and sports organisation in every sport except cricket. To participate in the Olympics is itself a battle won for individual athletes.

But 2 medals (one silver and one bronze) from a population of 1.2 billion is a shameful indictment of the organisation and administration of sports.

The difference between India and China is stark.

India China olympic record

Sports Ministers in every State are pathetic. Sporting associations are riddled with incompetence and nepotism and corruption.

Winning medals wins no votes.


 

A matter for the Gods, but what if God is female and Republican?

August 26, 2016

Donald Clinton or Hillary Trump?

I don’t suppose that either is (yet?) the “Chosen of God”. If God is female or a Republican or a Democrat the result is a foregone conclusion. If God is a female Republican then She has a dilemma. If God is a feminist She may abstain from this election.

Hillary Clinton wins if God is female (but not a Republican) If the one true God is Allah, Trump is immediately disqualified, but so is Hillary for being female. If the one true God is Jehovah, He could choose Trump. Donald Trump wins by default if God is a Republican Goddess. He also wins with a Vengeful God. A Compassionate or a Loving or a Caring God has little choice but to abstain. A God for the Meek would also have to abstain. A God of Power would favour Trump while a God of Intrigue would plump for Hillary. A Goddess of Wealth (a Laxmi) would need to decide whether Clinton’s gender was sufficient to offset Trump’s wealth advantage. (If the Clinton Foundation is taken into account, Laxmi would have to choose Clinton). A God of War might well choose Clinton as the most likely to prolong death and destruction in the Middle East. Brahma and Shiva might have reservations about Trump carrying their banners but a Durga could see Hillary Clinton as an acolyte.

If God is black then Clinton wins in the reflected shadow of Barack Obama. If God is a ruddy pink then Trump wins by a landslide. Freyja is the Goddess associated with love, sex, beauty, fertility, gold, war, and death. A Freyja supremacy would speak overwhelmingly for Clinton (with reservations for the sex component). A Crusading God would charge Trump with winning back Constantinople and Jerusalem. Zeus (Jupiter) and his ability to win games of chance would identify himself with Trump. Hera (Juno) might have some difficulty identifying with Hillary.

In the short term the winner will impact the wealth and misery and the deaths of many. For true believers the winner – whoever it is – must have been, and will be, the Chosen One. It is not possible for the winner not to be the Chosen One. It is equally unthinkable for God to have chosen wrong.

It could be that God does not much care who wins.

But in the long term, it does not really matter whether it is Donald Clinton or Hillary Trump who wins.


 

Electric dreams – Mercedes-Maybach 6

August 19, 2016

Electric Dreams

Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6

Autoblog:

Four electric motors that can produce a combined 738 horsepower. Mercedes says that will be enough to get the car to 62 mph from a standstill in under 4 seconds. The motors are backed by an 80 kWh battery that the company says can propel the car up to 200 miles. Perhaps more interesting than its range is the fact that the Mercedes-Maybach 6 can pick up a charge worth 62 miles in just 5 minutes, assuming you’ve got the right charger.

You gotta have a dream, if you don’t have a dream,
How you gonna have a dream come true?

Mercedes-Maybach 6

Mercedes-Maybach 6 Interior


UN finally admits it caused cholera in Haiti – and immediately claims immunity

August 19, 2016

The UN introduced cholera to Haiti which has killed some 10,000 (and perhaps up to 30,000). This was apparent over 5 years ago.

It is not just UN incompetence – mistakes happen – which increases my level of bile. It is partly because the UN actions amounted to gross negligence and could have been prevented with trivial amounts of money. It is the knee-jerk denial of responsibility and – always – the claim of immunity (just in case they are found to be responsible). It applies as well to cholera in Haiti as to the sexual exploitation of poor African children by UN troops. And Ban Ki Moon – may his name be forever exalted – has been the Denier-In-Chief. There ought to be a public dismissal of the irresponsible incompetents. But that will never happen.

The UN and its agencies has more than its fair share of incompetents. Many countries appoint UN officials as a political reward. That gives us incompetent doctors, engineers, economists and administrators in many key positions, who are there either as a sinecure and/or a political reward. Of course these are just a few “bad apples”, but when they are bad they are horrid. That’s bad enough but what is obscene is that they are immune from any consequences of their incompetence.

I would have thought that these highly-paid, privileged and protected officials, particularly in such institutions (UN, EU, EC, WB, IMF, WHO, ADB …..), rather than being granted immunity, should be held to much higher standards of performance and accountability than any other bureaucrats.

A special rapporteur has slammed the UN in a confidential report to the UN. The epidemic “would not have broken out but for the actions of the United Nations.” The United Nations’ Haiti cholera policy “is morally unconscionable, legally indefensible and politically self-defeating.”

NYT:

For the first time since a cholera epidemic believed to be imported by United Nations peacekeepers began killing thousands of Haitians nearly six years ago, the office of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has acknowledged that the United Nations played a role in the initial outbreak and that a “significant new set of U.N. actions” will be needed to respond to the crisis.

The deputy spokesman for the secretary general, Farhan Haq, said in an email this week that “over the past year, the U.N. has become convinced that it needs to do much more regarding its own involvement in the initial outbreak and the suffering of those affected by cholera.” He added that a “new response will be presented publicly within the next two months, once it has been fully elaborated, agreed with the Haitian authorities and discussed with member states.”

The statement comes on the heels of a confidential report sent to Mr. Ban by a longtime United Nations adviser on Aug. 8. Written by Philip Alston, a New York University law professor who serves as one of a few dozen experts, known as special rapporteurs, who advise the organization on human rights issues, the draft language stated plainly that the epidemic “would not have broken out but for the actions of the United Nations.

The secretary general’s acknowledgment, by contrast, stopped short of saying that the United Nations specifically caused the epidemic. Nor does it indicate a change in the organization’s legal position that it is absolutely immune from legal actions, including a federal lawsuit brought in the United States on behalf of cholera victims seeking billions in damages stemming from the Haiti crisis.

But it represents a significant shift after more than five years of high-level denial of any involvement or responsibility of the United Nations in the outbreak, which has killed at least 10,000 people and sickened hundreds of thousands. Cholera victims suffer from dehydration caused by severe diarrhea or vomiting. …. 

Special rapporteurs’ reports are technically independent guidance, which the United Nations can accept or reject. United Nations officials have until the end of this week to respond to the report, which will then go through revisions, but the statement suggests a new receptivity to its criticism.

In the 19-page report, obtained from an official who had access to it, Mr. Alston took issue with the United Nations’ public handling of the outbreak, which was first documented in mid-October 2010, shortly after people living along the Meille River began dying from the disease. ……. 

….. Mr. Alston wrote that the United Nations’ Haiti cholera policy “is morally unconscionable, legally indefensible and politically self-defeating.” He added, “It is also entirely unnecessary.” The organization’s continuing denial and refusal to make reparations to the victims, he argued, “upholds a double standard according to which the U.N. insists that member states respect human rights, while rejecting any such responsibility for itself.”

He said, “It provides highly combustible fuel for those who claim that U.N. peacekeeping operations trample on the rights of those being protected, and it undermines both the U.N.’s overall credibility and the integrity of the Office of the Secretary-General.”

UN Cholera


and lo, the EU led all the rest ….

August 19, 2016

The EU lives in false glories. Excluding Brexit, of course.

Table by Euro Informationen

EU at the Olympics

It reminds me of the Soviet Union

euccp image nccg-org


 

The secret of the Swedish crayfish party

August 18, 2016

Every year after 12th August it is crayfish party time (kräftfest, literally crayfish feast)  in Sweden.

sweden: Crayfish have been eaten in Sweden since the 1500s. For a long while, only the aristocracy enjoyed these delicacies, as popular suspicion of shellfish was widespread. Originally, crayfish meat was used for sausage, ragout, patties or puddings.

In the mid-1800s, people started eating crayfish as they are eaten today. The crayfish feast or crayfish supper in the month of August spread through the middle classes. In the 1900s, crayfish became a national delicacy and people in all sectors of society began celebrating the occasion. The price of crayfish fell as a result of imports from Turkey and elsewhere. The crayfish feast, at which people gather to eat, drink and be merry, is a typically Swedish festivity marking the end of the summer.

I attended my first crayfish party of the season yesterday – and very enjoyable it was – but not because of the crayfish.

I find crayfish bland. It is a strange animal without the delicacy of shrimps or prawns and without the strength of lobsters. It is a lot of very fiddly work for very little meat. The predominant taste is of dill (which is not my favourite herb). Nearly every crustacean I have ever eaten is superior in taste to crayfish – shrimp, prawns, crabs, soft-shelled crabs …. . But it is one particular custom, a behaviour, which makes the crayfish party such a blast.

But the real secret of the crayfish party is that one must wash down every crayfish with a snaps (schnapps). One is expected to burst into song. Naturally every song must be accompanied by a skål, and the songs get shorter and more frequent as the night wears on. The bread and cheese and Västerbottenpaj, also usually available, takes care of hunger. It also provides for some absorption of the alcohol.

Crayfish 2016

I try to hold with traditions. I tried to respond properly to every skål. A shortage of glasses meant that I even had to pour some of my snaps away since we were going to finish with whiskey. (Fortunately I had my my coffee available to pour the snaps away.) But since I don’t much care for the taste of crayfish, I only had eight last night!


 

This Brazilian public does not deserve the Olympics

August 17, 2016

The Brazilian public is failing. It has no apparent understanding of the celebration of endeavour that the Olympics is supposed to be. They have little concept of “fair play”. The booing of competitors by the Brazilian public is a real stain on the Rio Olympics. They booed some teams at the opening ceremony. They booed the Swedish women’s football team last night when they beat Brazil on penalties. They booed Matt Kuchar in the golf tournament.

They booed at every event. They booed athletes, cyclists, boxers, swimmers – and any opponent of a Brazilian competitor in any sport.

Maybe the Olympics have cost too much. Maybe the handling of the green diving pool was proof of incompetence. No doubt the Olympics as an organisation is endemically corrupt. Retroactive penalties for alleged doping in the 2008 games is childish. Russian doping may be widespread but there is no justification for collective punishment. But the audience also has standards to meet.

The Olympics should be about endeavour and not just results.

But the Brazilian public have been contemptuous about endeavour. Booing a runner who came last in her heat as she struggled across the finish line after achieving the best time of her career was beyond the pale.

I have been to Brazil many times and the hospitality and friendliness is out of this world. Notwithstanding the street crime in Rio and Sao Paolo which is nasty and brutish. But this Brazilian public has proven to be immature, with little appreciation of “fair play” and have not lived up to my expectations. Every Russian participant was booed. They even booed the French pole vaulter because he was beaten to gold by a Brazilian. The Brazilian public shamed themselves.

They have not been an audience deserving of  the Olympics.


 

I’m rooting for Adblocker against Facebook

August 17, 2016

Ultimately it is the consumer who pays for ads. I strongly dislike being forced to “consume” unsolicited advertisements. I resent TV channels and their commercial breaks and the inane, predatory advertising I am compelled to watch. Though, I note that these days I only partly watch TV programs – upto the first commercial break – after which I surf away. Sometimes – but not always – I return to complete watching some program. I have no alternative to suggest but the business models based on advertising are fundamentally flawed. They all rely on “forcing” a large number of uninterested viewers or readers to “consume” ads they don’t want to be exposed to by dangling “free content” as the bait.

It is a myth to think that a person forced to “consume” unsolicited ads is not also paying a price. My contention is that the “free” content is never actually free. It is paid for by the “psychological stress and suffering” the ad causes to the non-consumer. Effectively I pay for the “free” content on a site by having to suffer the slings and arrows of their rubbishy ads for things and services I will never buy. I pay in time and stress. I use “Adblocker”. Some sites get upset and don’t wish to grant me access. That’s OK. It’s a mutually acceptable parting of ways. There are a very few sites whose content is so good that I am willing to turn off my adblocker to put up with their intrusions into my personal space and consciousness. The really good sites are those where I am willing to pay a subscription – and there are only a very few of those.

So, in the battle between Facebook and Adblocker, I am firmly in the Adblocker camp. And I am perfectly aware that Adblocker’s business model, which is to “blackmail” advertisers into paying to be whitelisted, is morally equivalent and just as low as the advertisers bombarding non-consumers with unsolicited advertising.

The MIT Technology Review writes:

Facebook Can’t Win Against Ad Blockers, and Here’s the Proof

Facebook can’t win the war it started on ad blockers last week.

So say Princeton assistant professor Arvind Narayanan and undergraduate Grant Storey, who have created an experimental ad “highlighter” for the Chrome browser to prove it. When you have Facebook Ad Highlighter installed, ads in the News Feed are grayed out and written over with the words “THIS IS AN AD.”

Facebook announced that it was taking measures to prevent ad blockers from working on Tuesday last week. On Thursday the largest ad blocker out there, Adblock Plus, informed users of a simple tweak to their settings that would defeat Facebook’s blocker blockade.


Princeton researchers say Facebook can’t prevent their experimental add-on for the Chrome browser graying out ads in your News Feed.

We’re still waiting for Facebook to fire back, as the executive leading its ad technology has promised it will. But Narayanan argues in a blog post introducing his ad highlighter that Facebook simply can’t win.

The ad blockers in use today work by looking at the HTML code that tells your Web browser how to render a page and where to get the images and other files embedded into it. Facebook’s initial move against ad blockers removed clues in its HTML that gave away which parts of a page were ad content.

The Princeton duo’s ad highlighter works differently. It looks at the parts of the Web page that are visible to humans. Facebook Ad Highlighter simply looks for and blocks any posts with a giveaway “Sponsored” tag. It appears to be quite effective. Facebook must clearly label ads to stay within Federal Trade Commission rules on transparency and its own commitments to its users.

Narayanan concludes in his post that Facebook’s anti-ad-blocking campaign is doomed, at least if it continues in the current vein of acting as if the social network can somehow neutralize ad blockers completely.

Narayanan’s blogpost is here:

Can Facebook really make ads unblockable?

Facebook announced two days ago that it would make its ads indistinguishable from regular posts, and hence impossible to block. But within hours, the developers of Adblock Plus released an update which enabled the tool to continue blocking Facebook ads. The ball is now back in Facebook’s court. So far, all it’s done is issue a rather petulant statement. The burning question is this: can Facebook really make ads indistinguishable from content? Who ultimately has the upper hand in the ad blocking wars?

There are two reasons — one technical, one legal — why we don’t think Facebook will succeed in making its ads unblockable, if a user really wants to block them.

The technical reason is that the web is an open platform. When you visit facebook.com, Facebook’s server sends your browser the page content along with instructions on how to render them on the screen, but it is entirely up to your browser to follow those instructions. The browser ultimately acts on behalf of the user, and gives you — through extensions — an extraordinary degree of control over its behavior, and in particular, over what gets displayed on the screen. This is what enables the ecosystem of ad-blocking and tracker-blocking extensions to exist, along with extensions for customizing web pages in various other interesting ways.

I wish there was a business model which would save me from these pernicious ads.


 

Equality: Myths and mirages

August 13, 2016

I got into a discussion/argument a few days ago about how the health services available were dependent upon wealth and about the need for “equality”. The motion was that “everybody should be equally entitled to the best care available”. But I couldn’t quite get my point across that the search for “equality of treatment” was itself based on a fundamental inequality. The fact that some people were sick and some were not, irrespective of wealth, was the underlying inequality. Provision of health services was, inherently, the unequal provision of resources to some (the sick) and therefore, the denial of those resources to others (the healthy). An unequal allocation of resources (more to the sick, less to the healthy) was being used to correct for the underlying inequality. It was “affirmative action” to help the sick. Admirable no doubt, but not an exercise of “equality”. In fact it was a manifestation of “unequal treatment” in the name of correcting a perceived “inequality”. All forms of “reservations” and “affirmative action” use discrimination against some to try and correct for some other perceived disadvantage of others. Campaigns for “equality” are nearly always about meting out unequal treatment to some to compensate for a perceived disadvantage in others.

They are all exercises in inequality rather than a pursuit of equality.

Concepts of equality are not real. They are merely “feel-good” excuses, a panacea for perceived injustices and a stick to beat political opponents with. All the various “forms” of equality are mirages. Absolute equality – of any kind – is a convenient myth. You cannot have both diversity and equality. “Different but equal” is a fine catch phrase but is a contradiction in terms. Difference IS unequal.

Justice and equality are quite different things. Justice demands inequality.

(I note in passing that “freedoms”, like equalities, are also convenient myths. The so called four fundamental freedoms (of speech, of worship, from want and from fear) are political nonsense. In virtually every human society “freedom of speech” is actually nothing more than “freedom of allowed speech”.  “Freedom of my worship” has become the “freedom to impose my worship” and is the cause of more atrocities and barbarism than any other. Freedom from want denies the fundamental driver of human development – to want. Freedom from fear is an empty platitude. Humans are capable of feeling fear because it, like pain, is a necessary requirement for survival. Elimination of fear or pain would require genetic manipulation and that would also eliminate happiness and pleasure.)

  1. “We are all born equal” – No we are not (and thank goodness for that). We each have our unique genetic make-ups (our natures). That, in turn constrains what any one of us is capable of physically or cognitively. Our environment (nurture) then determines how we behave. The very concept of being unique individuals precludes equality.
  2. “Equality of Opportunity” – This makes for fine political theatre but is meaningless. “Opportunity” is not a scalar quantity. It is vector which needs direction. Opportunity,  for what? I would have liked to run faster than Usain Bolt but I just wasn’t given the “equal opportunity”! Of course for the purposes of “equality” I would be entitled to an 85 m head-start (90 m might be better). Watching the Olympics it occurs to me that for true equality a handicap system is needed to ensure that everybody wins. It would be totally unjust, but it would be equal.
  3. “Gender equality” – This is politically very correct but has two parts. There are those fighting to ensure just treatment for women and that is wholly admirable. But there are also other idiots who believe the realities of gender difference can be denied. Femininity is denied in the name of feminism.
  4. “Equality before the law” is another nonsense phrase. The point of law and courts is to make a judgement based on actual behaviour against some “standard” (the law). What is meant, of course, is that different people not be treated differently for the same behaviour. That the rich man with a good lawyer not be treated preferentially. Yet, we also ask our judges to do exactly that. Juveniles or the mentally ill are treated differently. Past behaviour influences the penalty (or reward) for present behaviour.
  5. “Racial equality” – This phrase is also fatally tainted by the politically correct view that “races” don’t exit. Racial difference exists and is real. The “long distance running gene” is real and is more prevalent among East Africans. The “high altitude gene” is real and and is more prevalent among Tibetans. Skin colour genes are real, as are those for the shape of our eyes. Again, “just treatment” is wrongly presented as “equal treatment”.

Yesterday the women’s 10,000 m world record was broken by Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia (a fantastic run). The runners all started at the same time (equality). The finish was completely unequal with almost two laps between the winner and the last to finish. Ayana’s unequal advantages (nature and nurture) took her to the finish almost half a lap ahead of her nearest rival. For true “equality”, she should have had a handicap. With proper “affirmative action” maybe all the runners could have finished at the same time. But that would have been unjust. (Why is there no campaign for “gender equality” in the Olympics 10,000 m? I suppose for the same reason that flyweight boxers are not required to fight against the heavyweights.) The Olympics is a celebration of inequality.

The fundamental truth is that what is just is all about being unequal. Justness consists of “getting what is deserved”. The loose use of “equality” actually moves us away from what is just. We need to dump the deification of equality and focus on what is just.

Justice equality


 

Reagan (and Pakistan) created the Taliban, Bush (and Saudi Arabia) nurtured Al Qaida and Obama/Clinton allowed ISIS to grow

August 12, 2016

Ronald Reagan (President from 1981 -1989) and Pakistan’s ISI created the Taliban,

From Politics 116 at Mt Holyoke College

The Creation of Taliban goes back to 1979, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. In 1973, The Soviet Union brought their soldiers into Afghanistan claiming to rebuild the crushing economy. However, the Soviet was resented by the Mujahidin (from whom the Taliban evolved from). At the same time, the Soviet Union and United States were engaged in a cold war. The U.S. was genuinely interested in counter power against the Soviet Union. Thus, Soviet Union’s entrance in Afghanistan signaled the Soviet’s increase in power and strength gaining more power and strength so the United States decided to intervene.Because the United States did not want to see the Soviet Union take control over Central Asia, the U.S. decided to fund troops to fight against the Soviet Union. These troops were called the Mujahedeen. The Mujahedeen were armed and supported by several countries including, the U.S., Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Under Reagan’s presidency Congress which was led by Democrats, decided to form a partnership with the ISI which would recruit the Mujahideen with the support of the Pakistani military extreme views of Islam, led the Mujahedeen to fight ferociously against the Soviet Union. these extremist succeeded in driving Soviet militants out (1989). This unforeseen defeat caused the Soviets to lose billions of Dollars, and led to the collapse of the Soviet Union After the war, Pakistan was left alone to deal with the problems associated with the post war. Following the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. declared a war against Afghanistan. at this point the U.S. realized the seeds they had sown. Taliban was a creation of the Pakistani intelligence agency (the ISI) but was funded by the U.S. The U.S. provided $3 billion to build this Islamic group by providing provided ammunitions, which they forgot to keep track of after the Soviet war. Thus, the U.S. was taken a back when the millions worth in weapons that they had provided were now being used against them. Since the Taliban was a creation of the Pakistani intelligence agency. Pakistan has been reluctant to fight them. It is said that a lot of Pakistani and other military personal were known to be siding with the Taliban. It has further been said that the U.S. is responsible for providing the Taliban with logistical and military advice, along with military hardware . Therefore the Unites States and Pakistan are accountable for the Creation of Islamic extremist Group called `Taliban’.

The success against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan and the need for further jihad gave rise to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida in 1989. George Bush Sr. who was already involved with Saudi support for the Taliban as Vice President under Reagan came into his own as a godfather for Al Qaida as President from 1989-1993. Through the CIA and its many arms, Bush Sr. and Saudi Arabia provided the money and the training. Al Qaida did not become an “enemy” of the US until 2001 when the campaign in Afghanistan was launced in retaliation for the 9/11 atrocities.

BBC (June 2004):

Al-Qaeda, meaning “the base”, was created in 1989 as Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan and Osama Bin Laden and his colleagues began looking for new jihads.

The organisation grew out of the network of Arab volunteers who had gone to Afghanistan in the 1980s to fight under the banner of Islam against Soviet Communism. During the anti-Soviet jihad Bin Laden and his fighters received American and Saudi funding. Some analysts believe Bin Laden himself had security training from the CIA.

The “Arab Afghans”, as they became known, were battle-hardened and highly motivated. In the early 1990s Al-Qaeda operated in Sudan. After 1996 its headquarters and about a dozen training camps moved to Afghanistan, where Bin Laden forged a close relationship with the Taleban.

The US campaign in Afghanistan starting in late 2001 dispersed the organisation and drove it underground as its personnel were attacked and its bases and training camps destroyed.

It was the US occupation of Iraq and their support for the Shi’ite government of Nouri al-Maliki from 2003 – 2011 which provided the motivation for the Sunni backlash. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was leading an Al Qaida faction and, the Guardian writes, “after the US invasion in 2003, he was quickly drawn into the emerging al-Qaida in Iraq under Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, getting involved first in smuggling foreign fighters into Iraq, then later as the “emir” of Rawa, a town near the Syrian border. There, presiding over his own sharia court, he gained a reputation for brutality, publicly executing those suspected of aiding the US-led coalition forces – the same brutality that has become familiar to those living in Syria under his group’s control”. By various accounts he was detained at the US Camp Bucca as a low level prisoner from 2004 either for less than a year or upto 2008. 

Possibly he was in detention till 2008, since it is only after 2009 that ISIS takes off and it is only after 2011, when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are in place, that ISIS expands –  violently and explosively – in Syria and Iraq. Obama and Clinton lost interest in Iraq and dropped the ball on ISIS. They (and Saudi Arabia) were so focused on creating regime change in Syria and toppling Assad that they lost sight of the support (money and training) being provide by the US for anti-Assad groups which included ISIS affiliated groups. David Mizner writes:

“The August 5, 2012 DIA report confirms much of what Assad has been saying all along about his opponents both inside and outside Syria,” says “terrorism analyst” Max Abrams.

The report concerns a period in time when the escalating violence in Iraq had ceased to be a prominent topic in the US press and when its coverage of the war in Syria — mirroring the discussion in Washington — focused on the Assad government, not the forces aligned against it. This may be hard to imagine now that ISIS has become the US government’s favorite monster, but during these months President Obama and his team gave major speeches on Syria that didn’t even mention the group.

Even after ISIS took Fallujah in January 2014, discussion of the group in establishment outlets was scarce. It wasn’t until later in 2014 — after continued battlefield victories and heavily publicized beheadings of westerners — that Islamic State became Public Enemy Number 1.

American officials claimed the ascendancy of ISIS had caught American intelligence by surprise. Yet in the 2012 report — which was circulated widely through the US government — the DIA foresaw the creation of a “Salafist principality” in eastern Syria. It also said that Islamic State of Iraq could “return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi” and declare an “Islamic state” in western Iraq and eastern Syria.

More than that, the report says the creation of an Islamic state was precisely the goal of the foreign governments that support the opposition:

If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor) and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).

US Defense Intelligence clearly puts the cause for the rise of ISIS on the policy being followed by the US in Syria (by Obama and Clinton), and not primarily on what was happening in Iraq. Mizner again:

While American politicians and pundits have blamed the ascendance of ISIS on former Iraqi president Nouri al-Maliki and Assad — or on the removal of American troops from Iraq — the DIA report reminds us that the key event in the rise of ISIS was the corresponding rise of the insurgency in Syria. Brad Hoff of the Levant Report, the first journalist to analyze the DIA report, says it shows that “A nascent Islamic State became a reality only with the rise of the Syrian insurgency . . . there is no mention of U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq as a catalyst.”

Maliki warned that the war in Syria could engulf Iraq, yet the United States and its allies kept supporting the insurgency. The American bombing of ISIS, relatively light and sporadic, has only intensified the belief of many Iraqis that the United States doesn’t want to defeat the group.

The US has a well established track record now of creating the very monsters which then becomes their greatest enemies. Obama – in spite of his reputation of over-analysing issues – clearly did not foresee how his inaction in Iraq, and his misguided regime-change actions in Syria, would cause the explosive growth of ISIS. And Clinton, who had little understanding of the complex relations in the Middle East, couldn’t cover for Obama’s blind spots and had no real strategy of her own to bring to the table. Furthermore, Obama and Clinton (and later Kerry) have done little, if anything, to stop ISIS being financed from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.

obama no strategy

While Trump’s claim that Obama and Clinton “founded” ISIS is not strictly true, there is little doubt that the Obama/Clinton inaction in Iraq, and their misguided actions in Syria, led directly to the growth of ISIS and the current miserable situation in the Middle East. The Obama/Kerry combination has continued with the Assad obsession and their strategies (or lack of strategies) have been largely ineffective against ISIS. It is only Russian intervention which has perhaps turned the tide.


 


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