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Su-22 Down

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So we got this going on:

A U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet from Carrier Air Wing 8 on board the USS George Bush shot down a Syrian Air Force Su-22 ground attack aircraft near Raqqa, Syria after the aircraft struck ground troops in Ja-Din, south of Tabqah, near Raqqa.

According to most sources it is the first time a U.S. combat aircraft has shot down a manned enemy aircraft in aerial combat in nine years.

The pro-Assad regime Syrian Su-22 that was downed had attacked Syrian Democratic Forces aligned with the U.S. led coalition and inflicted casualties on the friendly forces as they were driving south of Tabqah before it was intercepted.

Hopes that Trump would be anti-interventionist… may not be wholly rewarded. This is the latest of a series of quiet escalatory steps that the Trump administration has either undertaken or allowed to be undertaken in Syria; with the leeway that Trump has granted local commanders, the reasoning for these steps is unclear.

Russia is displeased.


Ever since the US started bombing ISIS targets in Syria, the Assad government and the US military have been involved in an uneasy, low-key, but generally productive collaboration, at least insofar as the remnant Syrian air defense network would avoid targeting US aircraft, and vice versa. There isn’t much left of that network now, but in any case we can expect altogether less cooperation moving forward.

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  • CP

    Only nine years? I thought I saw somewhere that we haven’t shot down a manned enemy aircraft since 1999 in Kosovo.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      Yes. I wonder, too. 2008 what now?

      • Just a Rube

        Maybe it’s supposed to just be “aircraft” instead of “manned aircraft?” We shot down an Iranian drone around then after it crossed into Iraqi airspace.

        • CP

          That would make sense. I mean, who have we fought who ever had an air force since Yugoslavia? From what I understand, the Iraqi air force was mostly wiped out in the Gulf War, with the remains getting shredded by the no-fly-zone operations in the following decade. And the Taliban basically didn’t have one. And in both cases, what little they did have would’ve been gone long before the eight year mark.

          • wengler

            Saddam literally buried his jets before the invasion.

  • Harkov311

    This has been your reminder that there were actually people who thought Hillary would be more dangerous than Trump in terms of starting major wars.

    • CP

      “They told me if I voted for Hillary, we’d be at war in Syria. I voted for Hillary, and sure enough, looks like we’re going to be at war in Syria!”

    • Matt McIrvin

      Up to the moment nuclear bombs actually start annihilating American cities, they can insist that Hillary would have been worse.

      • Thom

        And of course, when that happens it will be her fault.

      • CP

        “Those are atomic bombs. With Hillary, they’d be hydrogen bombs!”

    • Lost Left Coaster

      Yep. Had a long-time friend ranting about it on Facebook prior to the election. He was supporting Stein but he argued that we should all vote against Hillary because she was likely to start more wars than Trump, especially a new war with Russia — precisely due to the fact that she would be willing to shoot down aircraft over Syria.

    • Dilan Esper

      Hillary, of course, could have avoided this by respecting the views of her political base and avoiding support for imperialistic military actions. Her inability to effectively attack Trump on foreign policy was an own goal.

      • sibusisodan

        > avoiding support for imperialistic military actions.

        In Syria, any action is a support for imperialistic military action. Either Russia is the hegemon or America is.

        You’re asking her to avoid support for American imperialistic military actions.

        Which is a defensible position, but does come with a side order of ‘Russia can do what they like in a third country.’ Which has downsides.

        • liberal

          Yes, well, Russia is there at the invitation of the sovereign state of Syria.

          I know that the hip trend these days among braindead liberal hawks is to blithely ignore things like Westphalian sovereignty.

          • Davis X. Machina

            The Rohingya go to sleep every night thanking God for Westphalian sovereignty, the only thing standing between them and the horrors of liberalism.

            • Just_Dropping_By

              Do you also believe the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments to the US Constitution should be ignored because they interfere with the ability of the police to investigate crimes and prosecutors to get convictions?

              • rhino

                Apples, oranges.

        • Just_Dropping_By

          In Syria, any action is a support for imperialistic military action. Either Russia is the hegemon or America is. * * * Which is a defensible position, but does come with a side order of ‘Russia can do what they like in a third country.’

          Uh, no — Russia was invited in by the internationally recognized government of Syria. There’s a pretty clear distinction between that situation (especially where Bashar al-Assad wasn’t a Russian puppet in the first place) and “Russia can do what they like in a third country.”

          ETA: liberal’s post wasn’t showing when I started writing. Remember kids: always refresh before posting.

          • sibusisodan

            Thank you for the correction both of you. I’ll go do more homework on the subject!

            • sibusisodan

              And the homework indicates that while Assad is recognised as the legit government by Russia and Iran among others, thise others do not include the EU, most of the other Gulf States, and the US.

              Recognition of the rebels as legit representatives predates formal Russian involvement by several years.

              Which basically pushes the question back a stage: what’s wrong with recognising a particular rebel group as the legit representatives?

              • Just_Dropping_By

                What would be wrong with that is there’s not even a whiff of pretense that the rebels ever actually had any legal claim to be the government of Syria or are even successors to a prior government of Syria. They didn’t lose a rigged election, they weren’t overthrown, the constitution wasn’t unilaterally rewritten to expel them from office, etc. The recognition of the rebels as the government of Syria is purely self-serving for countries that already wanted to get rid of the Assad regime. It would be the equivalent of China recognizing various militia groups as being the “real” government of the United States and then claiming it could militarily intervene on US soil on their behalf.

                • so-in-so

                  If militia groups were in open revolt and controlling much of the CONUS while denying Federal access to those areas they controlled, it might in fact make sense for China to recognize them as the legitimate government. Since they control nothing, and cannot deny a Federal effort to access pretty much any place the Feds want to go, it makes no sense for anyone to recognize these groups.

                • sibusisodan

                  At one level you’re absolutely right. At another level, you seem to be missing the forest for the trees.

                  This has been a civil war situation for more than 6 years now. Contested claims to legitimacy go with the territory.

              • mojrim

                Because it leads to shit like this.

                • sibusisodan

                  But the options available are not between good and bad. They are between different flavours of bad.

                  Worse: between different flavours of terrible.

              • so-in-so

                It used to be that one waited for a rebel group to have some potential of winning before recognizing them.

              • SIS1

                The Assad Government holds the UN seat and those Syrian ambassadors that still work in embassies represent the Assad government. While the West may state that it does not recognize Assad as the legitimate leader, it isn’t like Western countries are accepting passports minted by the coalition of rebel groups.

                • Just_Dropping_By

                  Right, that’s part of what gives away the game — the various powers’ objections are clearly directed more to Assad as an individual, not to the Syrian government.

              • Procopius

                I probably need to do more homework, but I thought the U.S. position was that Assad is still the legal ruler of Syria, but we support the faction in the civil war who are trying to replace him, because we don’t like his policies. I believe this is also the position of the individual governments in the EU. I see this step as an act of war against a legitimate government. Of course both Mattis and McMaster have sworn allegiance to Netanyahu, and they are known hawks against Iran, which supports Assad, so I’m pretty sure we are going to be at war with Iran in a few months. Too bad. I voted for Hillary, but really hoped that Trump would be able to avoid falling into this quagmire.

                • rhino

                  This is trump. There are no silver linings. It will all be bad. And when it’s pence… it will be even worse.

      • Harkov311

        I guess I’m resistant to the idea that all politicians fall neatly into little hawk-shaped and dove-shaped holes, from which no nuance ever occurs.

    • wengler

      This is what it looks like when there is no effective civilian command of the military.

      • tsam

        Yeah, I kinda feel like “cutting those generals loose to do their jobs” is going to bring more shit like this.

  • As Tom Lehrer said, if any songs are to come out of WWIII, we’d better start writing them now.

  • Mike in DC

    We could destroy their air assets and any ships they have in the vicinity in the space of an afternoon. But then Putin might retaliate by pushing further into Ukraine, or invading the Baltic states, or selling a bunch of hardware to Iran.

    Or dumping whatever kompromat exists on US politicians.

    • Murc

      I don’t think Putin will be dumb enough to pick a fight with the Baltic states. The EU and most of NATO would love a foreign adventure with clear goals and a clear villain. Hell, Trump might love one; a war like that would completely rescue his presidency.

      • Mike in DC

        Plus there’s that pesky nuclear exchange thingy.

        • Murc

          There is no plausible scenario in which Putin initiates a nuclear exchange.

          For that matter, if I recall correctly there’s real debate over whether or not Russia is actually capable of doing so effectively. Their missile infrastructure is supposed to be pretty decrepit.

          But again, moot point.

          • humanoid.panda

            The idea that the EU is chock – full of adventurists yearning to a war with Russia is rather demented.

            And as for nuclear exchanges: Putin would never initiate one, but NATO doctrine was always to credibly threaten one to balance Russian conventional superiority in European theater.

            • Murc

              The idea that the EU is chock – full of adventurists yearning to a war with Russia is rather demented.

              Good thing I didn’t propose such an idea, then.

              And as for nuclear exchanges: Putin would never initiate one, but NATO doctrine was always to credibly threaten one to balance Russian conventional superiority in European theater.

              My understanding is that Russia no longer has conventional security in the European theater anymore. Am I incorrect in this?

            • John F

              to balance Soviet conventional superiority in the European theater.

              Russia doesn’t have that, so they may be the ones threatening one to counter the west’s conventional superiority

              • Mike in DC

                I’m not sure who Russia could nuke with any hope of non-retaliation. Certainly not France or the UK, and I suspect we’d retaliate if Germany (or Poland) got hit.

                • Dilan Esper

                  So we retaliate. What good does that do us?

                  I hate to break it to you guys but Russia is still a nuclear superpower, and that’s a good thing because a lot of murderous liberals think we should be dropping bombs and murdering foreigners all over the place and Russia is one of the few checks on us.

                  We should ally with Assad and Putin and fight ISIL. That was true before and is still true now.

                • Mike in DC

                  Nope.

                • Harkov311

                  Today, Dilan taught me that America is the only country with foreign policy agency. No other countries do anything of their own volition, they just react to us.

                  I also learned that apparently no other countries bomb and kill people, unless they get permission from us first. And the Russians would totally never do that.

                  And speaking of the Russians, I also learned that we should totally ignore their support of far-right nutbags and attempts at election rigging, and totally work with them and their Syrian flunkies, because ISIL. Also, ISIL is apparently the one exception to the “every time America uses force it’s wrong” rule.

                  Man, the things you learn!

                • sibusisodan

                  So the US can drop bombs and murder foreigners all over the place provided members of ISIL are the targets?

                  This seems incompletely thought through.

                • Mike in DC

                  I’m not sure how Russia and Syria would act as a check on that, nor do they evince any sincere interest in fighting ISIL. The idea that Russia should be supported as a counterbalance is a profoundly silly one.

                • CP

                  Yes, allying with Assad would certainly lead to a complete halt in our dropping bombs and murdering foreigners.

                • so-in-so

                  So the US can drop bombs and murder foreigners all over the place provided members of ISIL are the targets?

                  This seems incompletely thought through.

                  Seems absolutely Trumpish in it’s hypocrisy.

                  So we retaliate. What good does that do us?

                  No good at all, because by that point the system has already failed. Not to worry, I’m pretty sure Putin wouldn’t bother with a single demonstration nuke, so if he launches the world is doomed no matter if we retaliate or not. Do you go in flash, or expire from radiation and nuclear winter?

              • humanoid.panda

                Russia doesn’t have that, so they may be the ones threatening one to counter the west’s conventional superiority

                Russia doesnt’ enjoy the superiority that the USSR enjoyed, but I am still fairly certain its army is in far better shape (and has more combat experience) of any combination of European armies. And of course, Russia would enjoy an overwhelming initial superiority in any Baltic confrontation.

                • Lurker

                  The point is not the combat experience. Western armies have plenty. The point is the doctrine. The Western armies spent the years 1998-2014 in “small wars”: with complete air superiority and an insurgent opponent. No one was seriously preparing for a war against a numerically superior peer adversary that would be using heavy artillery, air support and combined arms operations.

                  In late 2000’s, the usual question for us Finns was why we were still preparing for old-fashioned, cold war era national defence using conscription. The then defence minister answered: “Three reasons: Russia, Russia and Russia”. Now, having a combat force of 280,000 troops and over a thousand artillery pieces does not seem that outdated.

              • SIS1

                Russia may not be able to make it through the Fulda pass anymore, but they would have significant theater superiority in the Baltics at the start of any conflict. The question is now whether the Russians can in fact overrun the Baltics completely. It is how long and at what costs would NATO be able to liberate them.

          • Richard Hershberger

            “Their missile infrastructure is supposed to be pretty decrepit.”

            I wondered about that back in the day. I wondered about our own, too. The idea that two guys sitting in a hole in North Dakota could turn their keys and off the missile goes, all systems working perfectly, never seemed entirely plausible, and even less so for the Russians. It would have been fascinating, albeit briefly, to find out what percentage actually worked.

            • humanoid.panda

              AIFAIK, Russia had been putting a lot of money into modernizing its nuclear armaments. And, of course, it has subs and bombers.

            • Redwood Rhiadra

              Given how many we had, I guarantee *enough* would have worked to pretty much destroy human civilzation.

          • There is no plausible scenario in which Putin initiates a nuclear exchange.

            I’m old enough to remember when there was no plausible scenario where Trump would be elected president. Until he was, that is.

      • Lurker

        A war in the Baltic would not be a “foreign adventure” for the EU. It would be homeland defence. The Baltic countries are part of EU and NATO.

        • ExpatJK

          That, and I am struggling to think of the NATO countries excited about foreign adventures (with or without “clear villains”)…there’s a lot wrong with that original comment.

        • mojrim

          That still leaves plenty of room in Belarus, Ukraine, Finland, Moldova, and Azerbaijan. This is not a thing anyone should be looking forward to.

          • Lurker

            Finland is also an EU member, although not a NATO member. As long as other EU countries would supply us with replacement AA and SAM missiles and intelligence, we would be have a distinct chance of persevering. It is in the best interests of Sweden to give us all support they can (while remaining non-belligrent) And considering that we are an Eurozone country, the Germans will lend a hand, if only for financial stability. It is not like the Russians dare to concentrate their all units here. At most, it would be a less than half a million troops, and no more than maybe a few hundred military aircraft. They would need to leave something for the Caucasus, Central Asia, China, Ukraine and the Polish frontier, too. That kinds of odds we might even survive, and if not, we would at least take a lot of enemies with us. That is the whole point of our national defence: making a successful invasion so costly that it is easier to leave us alone.

            Although definitely, it is not something to yearn for. No sane person wishes a war in their homeland.

  • Davis X. Machina

    Having recently seen Top Gun and Iron Eagle and Flight of the Intruder, I stand ready to answer any questions y’all might have.

    • CP

      Why do MiG-23s look so much like IAI Kfirs?

      Why do MiG-28s look so much like F-5s?

      What the hell is a MiG-28?

      • John F

        “Why do MiG-23s look so much like IAI Kfirs?”

        They don’t :-)
        I also vaguely recall seeing a cheap ass movie where a Kfir was used as a stand-in for an F-16

        “What the hell is a MiG-28?”
        Good question.

        • CP

          The pet peeve* I had with that is that if you can only get Israeli Kfirs for your bandit aircraft, you might as well call them Mirages. That’s basically what a Kfir is, and Mirages are a common sight in Middle Eastern air forces, including hostile ones like Libya or Iraq.

          But this was the eighties, and “MiG” sounds more villainous, I suppose.

          * “Really? In a movie about a high schooler who can’t shoot straight unless he’s listening to Queen hijacking an F-16 and single-handedly destroying a country’s air force to rescue his dad, THAT was what you had a problem with?” Yes. Yes it was. Shut up.

          • Totally believable. American kids is smart like that, doncha know.

            • CP

              Well, they were. This was the eighties. Kids today, with the participation trophies, and the crashing the economy by not shopping enough… harumph!

    • Richard Hershberger

      I just rewatched Kill Bill vol. 1 last night, so I’m here to answer the questions about hand to hand combat.

      • CP

        In my case, it was “Patriot Games” (about to be pulled off Hulu). Ask me anything about the Troubles.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        Oh. I wanted to ask you about parking. As in, where did the Crazy 88 park all those motorcycles? Was it 44 motorcycles or 88? Either way, this is Japan, and parking is always a concern.

        • medrawt

          There weren’t actually 88 of them, they just thought it sounded cool.

        • Matt McIrvin

          88 lines about 44 cycles, because they were all double-parked.

          • bender

            H is the eighth letter of the alphabet. In outlaw biker parlance, 88 stands for Heil Hitler.

            • BiloSagdiyev

              I hate Tokyo Nazis…

        • Richard Hershberger

          The motorcycles were just for show. They were actually transported in deuce and halfs. Or should be that “deuce and halves”? That doesn’t seem quite right either.

          • BiloSagdiyev

            Fifty states attorneys general in two deuce and a halves truck drive to Burger King to order 50 Whoppers Junior…

      • Denverite

        I watched About Time (time travel romance with Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson), so I can handle any questions about general or special relativity that might come up.

        • Is it really true if I go back in time and kill my grandfather that I just jump into a parallel universe where my grandfather is dead but I still exist because I’m now from a parallel universe where my grandfather is still alive? I’m always vexed by that.

          • njorl

            No, the other universe is slightly askew, not perfectly parallel.

            • Damn. I thought I finally understood Primer.

      • I just watched Hitman: Agent 47, so I’m ready for questions regarding bioengineered assassins.

        Warcraft, too, if you want pointers on fighting Orcs.

    • John F

      I recently watched the first 7 episodes of Twin Peaks Return, and I DO NOT stand ready to answer any questions y’all might have, except, I do have some answers:

      1. Yes, that is a wig (doesn’t matter which character you are asking about).
      2. Yes, BOB is a demon (doesn’t matter which religious tradition)
      3. Black Lodge speak involves having the actors delivering their lines backwards (phonetically), then playing that recording backwards.

      • 3. Black Lodge speak involves having the actors delivering their lines backwards (phonetically), then playing that recording backwards.

        The Beatles mastered that like 50 years ago.

  • AdamPShort

    Can someone parse thisAP tweet for me? It looks to my untrained eye like we are now in a hot war with Russia.

    Someone please disabuse me of this notion before i crap my pants as they were a father’s day gift. Thanks.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      I’d help you with that, but Putin’s hackers removed your link.

    • John F

      We’re still in the Playing Chicken phase.

      Last year after Turkey shot down a Russian plane, Putin slowly twisted the screws until Turkey cried uncle.

      The issue now is:
      1. We didn’t shoot down a Russian plane
      2. If we did, Russia’s leverage points vs the US are very different from their leverage points vs Turkey- we also have very different counter options than Turkey did
      3. We have a POTUS who is a freaking wild card- he may see visibly slapping the Russians around as a way out of his current domestic predicament- “I’m not in Putin’s pocket, I just ordered an airstrike on Assad’s HQ!”

      • twbb

        “We have a POTUS who is a freaking wild card- he may see visibly slapping the Russians around as a way out of his current domestic predicament- “I’m not in Putin’s pocket, I just ordered an airstrike on Assad’s HQ!””

        Also Putin might credibly believe that if things get too complicated and dangerous Trump will just turn over decision-making to someone who doesn’t like Putin or Russia very much.

      • njorl

        Needs more poultry.

      • wengler

        That’s not really what happened in Turkey, though. Erdogan got close to Russia after the attempted coup and his elevation to basically a dictator.

    • elm

      Treating US and allied planes as “targets” does not mean the Russians will shoot at them. In longer versions of the story than the tweet, what they’re saying is that they will track the planes as they would track any target, they will send their own planes to observe the targets, and possibly escort the targets out of the area.

      This last part is the tricky one: what happens if the “target” refuses to be escorted away? Do the Russians then shoot at the target? As far as I know, they haven’t said. But until they do start shooting, we’re not in a hot war with Russia. We’ve just moved a step closer to one occurring relatively soon.

  • SIS1

    Foreign Affairs had a good article on the whole issue going down in Eastern Syria right now – essentially, as ISIS looses, there is a scramble for control of those Eastern provinces. The Trump admin. appears to have chosen to try to get its local allies into control of that region at the expense of the Syrian government and it’s Shiite allies to block Iranian plans for a straight line of supply to Hezbollah in the Mediterranean. All the recent confrontations and skirmishes with pro-Government forces have happened around the area where areas of control between the Syrian Army and its allies and the forces the US is helping to take Raqqah meet.

    • catclub

      What does it say about the volley of missiles Iran launched over Iraq against ISIS in eastern Syria?

      • SIS1

        The article was generally about the conditions being built around Eastern Syria, and how the Pentagon is pushing back on administration officials who are gunning for a more confrontational stance (such as actively attacking pro-Government forces in the area to push them back), so it wasn’t in direct response to this incident, though it helps explain the context in which this incident happened. It does not talk about that Iranian action.

    • wengler

      I don’t think the YPG/YPJ is going to accept being treated as American puppets. Barzani and the KRG on the other hand…

      • SIS1

        The Kurds are really a wildcard. Their plans don’t match well with anyone – the Iranians have their own Kurdish minority and would not support the creation of a Kurdistan because that affects them; no need to discuss the issue for the Turks, and the Sunni Arabs would also disapprove of Kurdish autonomy on lands they consider their own.

    • Peter T

      That’s about right. Just to add – the US allies in the area are 1-200 Free Syrian Army types who lack any appetite for actual fighting, so are controlling two small enclaves while the Syrian Army and allies have gone around them and linked up with Iraqi forces. Score Syria/Iran Russia 2, US 0.

      Then this latest seems to be US provocation using the Kurdish-led SDF as an excuse, But the SDF does not want a stoush with Damascus, because it is too vulnerable to Turkey, gets on with Iraqi Shi’a forces, and wants to survive post the civil war. So score for Assad again.

      At this point, the Syrian government controls around 80 per cent of the population, has backing from Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Russia, is swinging Jordan to its side and is increasingly militarily effective. The rebels are 90 per cent hard-line Islamist and 10 per cent useless. A main element of US policy has again gone from delusional to pointless. With approving Beltway nods.

  • twbb

    “Russia is displeased.”

    Are they? Or is this just a way to try and publicly put distance between Putin and Trump for the latter’s benefit? Not that it will work; Putin I think really doesn’t understand American politics.

    • Not that it will work; Putin I think really doesn’t understand American politics.

      Now, gather ’round, people,
      And lend me a hand:
      Can a man undermine
      What he can’t understand?

      [FX: sound of open mic being forcefully closed;
      then, as from a great distance, a whiny, nasal
      voice can barely be heard, “singing”]

      For the times they are a-cha-a-a-ngin’!

    • Schadenboner

      I think that the idea that Putin bought control or even access is pretty much just memery.

      Putin just wanted American ability to act atritted, and boy howdy was that a good investment.

      • twbb

        We’ll see. Right now he has helped introduce chaos into the system, but he’s also made a lot of pols on both sides of the aisle very angry. You don’t think that if Trump goes down and takes a lot of GOPers with him the survivors won’t be all aboard anything that hurts Russia? The Republicans definitely hold grudges.

  • Peterr

    Russia is heavily invested in expanding their only Mediterranean port, located in Tartus, Syria, under the terms of a 49 year lease agreement signed in January with the Assad regime. From Deutsche Welle at the time:

    The 49-year agreement allowed Russia to dredge the Mediterranean port, install floating berths and carry out repair works. They would then be able to keep 11 warships, including nuclear-powered ships, in the port of the east Syrian city.

    Russia would hold sovereignty over the territory, which up to the agreement could only hold two mid-sized ships.

    Russian forces have used Tartus to support Syrian President Bashar Assad’s fight against rebel groups. The 1971-built base was Russia’s only port on the Mediterranean Sea.

    [snip]

    In October 2015, Russian foreign policy expert at the American Foreign Policy Council Stephen Blank told Deutsche Welle that one of the reasons Moscow intervened in Syria was to establish a foothold in the region using bases such as the Tartus port.

    “They intend to have long-term bases in Syria,” Blank, said. “They’re not just there to save Assad. They’re there to stay as long as they can.”

    So yeah, the Russians are displeased at the US for shooting down a Syrian aircraft.

    The only way this civil war ends with the departure of Assad will be if someone can guarantee to the Russians that they can keep this port.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      They would then be able to keep 11 warships, including nuclear-powered ships, in the port of the east Syrian city.

      East Syria is a weird place for a port. I googled. I’m not sure what they were thinking. Southern Syria, perhaps.

      • Morbo

        That’s generous of you; I would probably go with “west.”

    • twbb

      The Russians nuclear stockpile guarantees the Russians that they can keep this port. Once they get in they ain’t leaving unless a new regime in Russia decides to do it.

      • SIS1

        No, not really.

        Who would Russia ‘nuke’ if Rebels decided to overrun the port (assuming they have the ability)? What targets?

        Nuclear weapons are such that their actual usefulness is limited to some extreme circumstances. Having nuclear weapons did nothing for Israel in terms of being able to keep control of Southern Lebanon for example.

        Nukes are useful for “self-defense” (making invasion of a nuclear armed country horribly costly – possibly suicidally so) and would aid in some specific warfighting situations assuming you forsee the ability to limit escalation, but otherwise, they are an empty threat, since the diplomatic costs of utilizing them is toxic and tactically they have limited uses.

    • njorl

      I think there would be many rebel groups willing to make that guarantee. I don’t think Putin would trust any of them to be both willing and able to fulfill such a guarantee.

      • mojrim

        Bingo!

  • hickes01

    I watched “V for Vendetta” this weekend, so if you have any questions about removing an opportunistic authoritarian from power, I’m your man.

    • so-in-so

      The process starts with lots of Guy Fawkes masks?

  • Rob in CT

    But her no-fly zone…

    • liberal

      “Hey folks: it is ok to think #HillaryClinton’s views on foreign policy are wrong/dangerous & also believe @realDonaldTrump would be worse.”

      Conversely, it’s OK to think that HRC’s views are wrong/dangerous, and also that DT’s are worse.

      • Rob in CT

        Those are the same thing.

        And yes, I did/do think that Hillary Clinton’s FP views were wrong/dangerous, at least at times.

        I was smart enough not to take that to idiotic extremes and claim that Donald effing Trump was the non-interventionist option in the election.

        If you too were smart enough to get that, my post wasn’t about you.

        • CP

          The Iraq War vote was one of her most unforgivable moments, and one that I was perfectly fine with her critics bringing up in both 2008 and 2016.

          On the other hand, anyone who thought she was going to lead us into an Iraq War 2.0 with the Syrians hadn’t been paying attention for the last eight years. The Obama administration pretty well demonstrated that even if a president wanted to commit this way, they couldn’t – Congress wouldn’t have their backs. Too many Democrats are once bit twice shy after 2003, and too many Republicans won’t back anything a Democrat does even if it’s something they want to do, simply because he’s a Democrat.

          Even if Hillary Clinton had been dangerously unstable to get us into Syria, the system would’ve constrained her from doing so. Trump is dangerous not just because he’s more personally unstable than Hillary Clinton (and Jesus God, is he ever) but because the system is a lot less likely to constrain him than it was Hillary.

          • mojrim

            I tend to a give a lot of pols a pass on the Iraq War, much as it disgusts me. Being high-level DC insiders all they see is executive summaries of executive summaries, and those can be made to look any way you want if your cabinet is run by criminals. Hell, they managed to fool Powell into sacrificing his reputation.

            Her worst moment was really the Libya bombing campaign, something she’s still satisfied with today.

            • CP

              The argument I have some sympathy for when it comes to Iraq War votes is “the country was in full-blown war hysteria mode, opposing the Iraq War was taking a very serious risk in the next election, and a Republican would’ve been just as bad on foreign policy and in a whole host of other ways, too.”

              The “they just didn’t know any better” argument, OTOH, I don’t believe for a second. There is no way anybody that far up in Washington wasn’t aware that Bush and his clique of neocons were putting their finger on the scale as hard as possible. And I definitely don’t believe for a second that Colin Powell was fooled, either.

  • cpinva

    this concerns me. what happens, if some lunatic Russian officer actually shoots down a manned US plane, especially if the pilot/crew is killed/captured? so far, it hasn’t been a face-to-face between US & Russian forces, so it’s only been “warnings”. now, the Russians are flat out threatening to shoot down US assets, raising the danger level of actual US-Russian confrontation to extremely high. obviously, we couldn’t just do nothing, but our options seem limited, without sparking a shooting war.

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