The Russian Big Picture (Part 1)

Much of this post is a rehash of old stuff, but I wanted to add a bit to this emerging propaganda picture, not to prove anything, but to encourage others to start looking big picture/little picture to find the Russian active measures to interfere in our electoral process.  It’s not just the Democrat bigwig email leaks or Wikileaks that concerns me.  It’s the escalating hostile military actions being employed against US Armed Forces by Russia, Iran and China combined with this Russian intelligence overt influence in our election, that makes  figuring out the full scope of the Russian big picture imperative.  And, the pieces emerging in this Russian strategic big picture make me very uneasy.  Putting them together correctly is crucial to America’s national security.

The Syrian “Moderate” Rebel Mirage

A fantasy pervaded the entire argument for earlier intervention in the Syrian civil war. It’s the lie propagated by the Obama administration, Syrian rebel lobbyists, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), John McCain and pundits like Charles Krauthammer and Bill Kristol.

The argument centered on this belief in arming the mythical “moderate” Syrian rebels. It’s also a lie, that I hope ends up fully exposed, because the US military ended up maligned and badly used in this shady Obama “narrative”. The Obama administration began arming so-called Syrian “moderates” in this civil war, early in the conflict. The stories permeate about Libyan weapons being shipped from Libya via Turkey, into Syria.

The “arm Syrian moderates” crowd never talks about who would take charge of Syria, if this plan had been implemented – hint, there are no real “moderates” amongst the rebels, they radicalized early as US vetted intelligence knew early on in the Syrian conflict. Here’s a McClatchyDC link from 2015 on that issue:…:

“Extensive interviews with Syria policymakers from the Obama administration, some of whom spoke on the record and others who requested anonymity so as to freely describe the administration’s behind-the-scenes debates, reveal that the Obama administration was warned early on that al Qaida-linked fighters were gaining prominence within the anti-Assad struggle.

Senior officials chose to look the other way, however, and flog a misleading narrative of a viable moderate force. Today, the same extremists have seized wide swaths of Syria and Iraq, uprooting millions of people, threatening the stability of U.S. regional allies, and sucking the United States into another open-ended conflict in the Middle East.

The Syrian rebellion began in March 2011 as part of a wave of mostly peaceful Arab protests against autocratic regimes that had quickly toppled regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. Within months, however, it was clear that State Department pleas for Syrian opposition activists to remain nonviolent weren’t working in the face of the regime’s increasingly brutal crackdown on demonstrators.

It didn’t take long for militant Islamists to join the fight, justifying their participation with literalist interpretations of religious scripture about fighting oppressors. That noble-sounding rally for jihad had a magnet-like draw for disaffected young men and women from across the Muslim world.

By that November, just eight months into the rebellion and only two months after President Barack Obama had called for Assad to step aside, a memo from senior policymakers to then-National Security Adviser Tom Donilon warned “that this thing was becoming jihadized,” as one former top official summarized it. The response?

“There was never any indication that the memo was read,” the former official said.

Two aides to Donilon, who is now with the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, said he was unavailable for comment.

The rebel power shift was even sharper the next year. Extremist forces were increasingly active, and the outline of what would become the Islamic State was taking shape.”(my highlight)

Read more here:

I suspect the biggest purveyor of this Syrian “moderate” myth is the ISW and FOX News rolls out General Keane to keep selling that.

Going back

Here’s a timeline with some links that explain the Obama administration’s arming and training of Syrian rebels (interfering in fueling a civil war in Syria – arming NOT “freedom-fighters, but Islamists of varying degrees of radicalization):

December 9, 2012:

“The Obama administration has decided to launch a covert operation to send heavy weapons to Syrian rebels, Christina Lamb of The Sunday Times of London reports.

Diplomatic sources told the Sunday Times that the U.S. “bought weapons from the stockpiles of Libya’s former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.”

The heavy arms include mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, anti-tank missiles and the controversial anti-aircraft heat-seeking SA-7 missiles, which are integral to countering Bashar Al-Assad’s bombing campaign.

Many have suspected that the US was already involved in sending heavy arms.

The administration has said that the previously hidden CIA operation in Benghazi involved finding, repurchasing and destroying heavy weaponry looted from Libyan government arsenals, but in October we reported evidence indicating that U.S. agents — particularly murdered ambassador Chris Stevens — were at least aware of heavy weapons moving from Libya to jihadist Syrian rebels. 

There have been several possible SA-7 spottings in Syria dating as far back as early summer 2012, and there are indications that at least some of Gaddafi’s 20,000 portable heat-seeking missiles were shipped before now.” (my highlight)

June 21, 2012 – New York Times:

“WASHINGTON — A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers.

The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.

The C.I.A. officers have been in southern Turkey for several weeks, in part to help keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, one senior American official said. The Obama administration has said it is not providing arms to the rebels, but it has also acknowledged that Syria’s neighbors would do so.

The clandestine intelligence-gathering effort is the most detailed known instance of the limited American support for the military campaign against the Syrian government. It is also part of Washington’s attempt to increase the pressure on President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, who has recently escalated his government’s deadly crackdown on civilians and the militias battling his rule. With Russia blocking more aggressive steps against the Assad government, the United States and its allies have instead turned to diplomacy and aiding allied efforts to arm the rebels to force Mr. Assad from power.” (my highlight)

September 11, 2012:  We all know about Benghazi

September 2012:  Elizabeth OBagy published a report at the Institute for the Study of War – Jihad in Syria

May, 2013:  John McCain went on his secret fact-finding trip to Syria with the SETF and Elizabeth O’Bagy as his guides.:

“Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) met with rebel leaders in Syria on Monday, The Daily Beast reported, making the senator the highest ranking U.S. official to visit the country since conflict broke out over two years ago.

CNN and Politico confirmed the visit with McCain’s office.

While in the country, McCain met with the Free Syrian Army’s Supreme Military Council leader Gen. Salem Idris.”

O’Bagy was also moonlighting as the political director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, a Syrian Free Army lobbying group. She and that SETF escorted McCain on a “secret” fact-finding trip, where later photos of McCain emerged, which were claimed to be McCain with Syrian “moderates”, but whom other experts have identified as Islamist terrorists. The president of that SETF was reported to be connected to Palestinian terrorists.

September 2013:  The drumbeat for more US intervention in Syria escalates, but then O’Bagy is exposed as a liar, more questions emerge about exactly who we are arming in Syria and Obama waffles.  John McCain hires O’Bagy, right after the ISW fired her for lying about her doctorate.

September 11, 2013:  The ISW canned O’Bagy for lying on her resumé, but that was after everyone from Secretary of State, John, Kerry, Senator McCain, everyone in the freakin’ media, to include the Wall Street Journal, accepted Elizabeth O’Bagy without any vetting of her credentials:

“The Syria researcher whose Wall Street Journal op-ed piece was cited by Secretary of State John Kerry and Sen. John McCain during congressional hearings about the use of force has been fired from the Institute for the Study of War for lying about having a Ph.D., the group announced on Wednesday.
“The Institute for the Study of War has learned and confirmed that, contrary to her representations, Ms. Elizabeth O’Bagy does not in fact have a Ph.D. degree from Georgetown University,” the institute said in a statement. “ISW has accordingly terminated Ms. O’Bagy’s employment, effective immediately.”
Story Continued Below

O’Bagy told POLITICO in an interview Monday that she had submitted and defended her dissertation and was waiting for Georgetown University to confer her degree. O’Bagy said she was in a dual master’s and doctorate program at Georgetown.
Kimberly Kagan, who founded the ISW in 2007, said in an interview that while she was “deeply saddened” by the situation, she stands by O’Bagy’s work on Syria.
( POLITICO reports – Obama’s Syria address: special coverage)

”Everything I’ve looked at is rock solid,” Kagan told POLITICO. “Every thread that we have pulled upon has been verified through multiple sources.”

Paul Gigot, editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal, told POLITICO in a statement that “we were not aware of Elizabeth O’Bagy’s academic claims or credentials when we published her Aug. 31 op-ed, and the op-ed made no reference to them.”

“We also were not aware of her affiliation with the Syrian Emergency Task Force, and we published a clarification when we learned of it,” Gigot said. “We are investigating the contents of her op-ed to the best of our ability, but to date we have seen no evidence to suggest any information in the piece was false.” (my highlight)

September 19, 2013:  President Obama signed a bill to “arm and train Syrian” rebels, but said little  publicly

“President Obama on Friday signed legislation that gives the U.S. approval to arm and train Syrian rebels in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (also known as ISIS, or ISIL).

The approval was part of a larger bill that funds the government through Dec. 11. It was approved with bipartisan support in the Senate on Thursday and in the House on Tuesday.

While Mr. Obama did not comment on the legislation when he signed it Friday afternoon, he did mention the fight against ISIS earlier in the day, at the Democratic National Committee’s annual Women’s Leadership Forum.”

So, everyone just went along with O’Bagy, citing her, without any fact-checking or vetting.  From the White House on down, she influenced American foreign policy, when US vetted intelligence said exactly the opposite about the radicalization of so-called Syrian “moderate” rebels.

September 27, 2013:  McCain immediately hired Elizabeth O’Bagy and she still is on his staff.  I’ve wondered if she ever underwent a security background check or if strings were pulled and that was waived for her:

“Sen. John McCain has hired Elizabeth O’Bagy, the Syria analyst in Washington who was fired for padding her credentials, The Cable has learned. She begins work Monday as a legislative assistant in McCain’s office.

O’Bagy was a young but well-respected advisor at the Institute for the Study of War and had emerged quickly as an important voice among those arguing in favor of intervention in Syria. McCain and others had cited her work publicly before her nascent reputation collapsed when it was discovered that her claims to having a combined master’s/Ph.D. were false and that in fact she had not yet defended her thesis.”

January 9, 2014: The Obama administration was considering resumption of arming Syrian rebels, after ISIS had reportedly raided  Free SyrianArmy warehouses that contained US -provided weapons:

“WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is considering the resumption of nonlethal military aid to Syria’s moderate opposition, senior administration officials said on Thursday, even if some of it ends up going to the Islamist groups that are allied with the moderates.

The United States suspended the shipments last month after warehouses of equipment were seized by the Islamic Front, a coalition of Islamist fighters that broke with the American-backed Free Syrian Army and has become an increasingly vital force in the nearly three-year-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

But as a result of the rapidly shifting alliances within Syria’s fractured opposition, some of the Islamists fought alongside the Free Syrian Army in a battle against a major rebel group affiliated with Al Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

That has eased American qualms about resuming the aid, the officials said.”

The ISW and McCain, plus Obama’s friends from the Muslim Brotherhood/Palestinian terror network, kept pushing for the US to aid the Syrian “moderate” rebels.

March 2014:  Foreign policy types were still touting arming Syrian “moderates”, despite all the reports that the Syrian rebel forces were controlled by Islamist terrorist groups.  Foreign Policy was hyping:   “Meet Jamal Maarouf, the West’s best fighting chance against Syria’s Islamist armies”After receiving US training and weapons, to include TOW anti-tank missiles, Maaroof struck a peace deal with ISIS.  Maarouf’s and his rebel group were trained and armed by the US  AND given TOW missiles…

April 23, 2014 report:

“The U.S. is providing more arms and training to the moderate rebels in Syria, under a growing secret program run by the CIA in Jordan. Sources tell NPR that secret program could be supplemented by a more public effort in the coming months involving American military trainers.

The change in strategy comes as the White House sees Syrian leader Bashar Assad growing in strength, and continuing to strike rebel strongholds.

Another factor: Russian leaders appear unwilling to help end the three-year-old civil war and are continuing to provide weapons to Assad. Finally, al-Qaida fighters and their allies are expanding in Syria, a development that some believe could threaten the U.S. homeland.”

September 2014:  President Obama expanded from CIA arming and training Syrian “moderates” to dragging the US military into this fiasco of arming Islamist nutjobs.  Here’s how the vetting Syrian “moderates” went –  from Patrick Poole at PJ Media:

“As President Obama laid out his “strategy” last night for dealing with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and as bipartisan leadership in Congress pushes to approve as much as $4 billion to arm Syrian “rebels,” it should be noted that the keystone to his anti-Assad policy — the “vetted moderate” Free Syrian Army (FSA) — is now admitting that they, too, are working with the Islamic State.

This confirms PJ Media’s reporting last week about the FSA’s alliances with Syrian terrorist groups.

On Monday, the Daily Star in Lebanon quoted a FSA brigade commander saying that his forces were working with the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate — both U.S.-designated terrorist organizations — near the Syrian/Lebanon border.

“We are collaborating with the Islamic State and the Nusra Front by attacking the Syrian Army’s gatherings in … Qalamoun,” said Bassel Idriss, the commander of an FSA-aligned rebel brigade.“We have reached a point where we have to collaborate with anyone against unfairness and injustice,” confirmed Abu Khaled, another FSA commander who lives in Arsal.

“Let’s face it: The Nusra Front is the biggest power present right now inQalamoun and we as FSA would collaborate on any mission they launch as long as it coincides with our values,” he added.”

Poole continues:

“But the Free Syrian Army is not the only U.S.-armed and trained “rebel” force in Syria that the Obama administration is having serious trouble keeping in the “vetted moderate” column.

Earlier this week I reported on Harakat al-Hazm, which was the first of the “vetted moderates” to receive U.S. anti-tank weaponry earlier this year. Harakat al-Hazm isreportedly a front for the Muslim Brotherhood as well as Turkey and Qatar, its Islamist state sponsors.

An L.A. Timesarticle was published this past Sunday from the battle lines in Syria. The reporter recounted a discussion with two Harakat al-Hazm fighters who admitted, “But Nusra doesn’t fight us, we actually fight alongside them. We like Nusra.””

The Obama Syrian debacle continued through 2015 and in the news, you could follow reports of various ME leaders going to Moscow to talk to Putin, as Putin planned his own Syrian intervention, while Obama kept floundering arming Islamist terrorists (yes, I believe he was arming Islamic radicals in Syria FROM the beginning).

September 2015:  Congress dragged the US Army general, Lloyd Austin, commander of US Central Command, before Congress to berate  Austin about the failure to vet and train more Syrian moderates.  Austin reported only a handful of “moderates” were vetted and trained.  Instead of getting a clue, that there aren’t any “moderates” left in this brutal civil war in Syria, where both sides have used chemical weapons, John McCain used the opportunity to grandstand and insult the general and the US military.  McCain said”

“Highly critical of Austin and Wormuth’s presentation, Committee chairman Sen. John McCain(R-Arizona) said that in his thirty years onn the committee “I have never heard testimony like this. … Never.”

“I have never seen a hearing that is as divorced from the reality of every outside expert and what you are saying,” McCain told Austin.”

October 2015:  When the Russians started bombing in Syria last year, I noted 3 ISW maps, 2 used on FOX broadcasts and one on CNN’s website, which identified the area with the largest Russian strike group north of Hama, identified in the map legend as Syrian rebel-controlled, ISIS-controlled, and Jubhat al Nusra-controlled. Three maps at the same time, one area in Syria, and the Obama narrative was the Russians aren’t attacking ISIL, they are targeting CIA-backed rebels:

“When Russia acted in Syria the ISW provided maps to FOX news and CNN – where the maps differed, the WH narrative and military analysis by the FOX military analysts Gen Jack Keane (also in the board of ISW) and LTC Shaffer did not match the details on the map:

Embedded image permalink

Image from Megyn Kelly’s Twitter-


Image from


“Syrian official says ‘wide-scale offensive’ launched”
Russian airstrikes in Syria from September 30 to October 5

Gen.Keane pushed for arming the illusive “Syrian moderates” and yet the “narrative” at the time the Russians moved in Syria, the neocon big voices  were screaming about the Russians and claiming they were targeting US-backed “moderate” Syrian rebels. The heaviest shot group of attacks on these maps was north of Hama, which these ISW map legends indicate was controlled by Jubhat al Nusra, Syrian rebels or ISIS – 3 maps from the ISW – three different takes on the strikes the Obama narrative and the ISW were ranting were the Russians targeting “CIA trained US Syrian “moderate” rebels. The media and punditry “experts” all went with the “narrative”.”

From two LB blog posts:

Propaganda at work?

Another ISW map

When I thought about these maps, something is wrong that everyone from the White House on down relies on the Kagan crowd, the Institute for the Study of War and listens to John McCain bloviate about Syria.  McCain had access to US vetted intelligence, but he relied on O’Bagy and the ISW, run by Kimberly Kagan, Dick Cheney and his daughter, and General Jack Keane. No one dares question their “expertise”.  These maps, all from the ISW, indicate THREE separate ISW takes on who was controlling the area in Syria where the heaviest air strikes occurred in October 2015.  The Obama White House and McCain railed about the Russians attacking CIA-backed rebels.  So, according to these ISW maps, just who were the CIA-backed rebels??? Why does the media trust the ISW maps? Does the US government have maps that are reliable?

Even today, McCain, General Keane and mouthpieces all over the media keep talking about how the US should have intervened earlier arming Syrian “moderate” rebels, but that is a TOTAL lie – there never were “moderates”, they were Islamist-backed and armed rebels all along, with the Palestinian terror network playing a central role.  The president of the Syrian Emergency Task Force had Palestinian terror connections, the Muslim Brotherhood has always been a funder of Palestinian terror, and the Obama administration, the ISW and John McCain have lied to the American people since 2011, when out of the Libyan debacle, the US started funneling arms from Libya to Syria.

This post has run longer than I intended, so in my next post, I’m going to go through the Trump-Russian connections, more McCain questions, and how it all ties in with this Syria mess too.  It’s important,because Putin saw his chance to expand his sphere of influence in the Mid-East and he has masterfully set-up one propaganda embarrassment after another for the US, with the crucial aid of Iran.  Putin, through Iran has led Obama and Kerry around like hapless dupes, every step of the way in this Iran deal.

President Obama and John Kerry began paying Iran to release hostages.

The most embarrassing incident, again, one where the US military took the blow, made to look like weak, ineffectual idiots occurred in January 2016:
America on its knees (LB blog post January 13, 2016):

President Obama delivered a rambling, disjointed final State of the Union address last night.  He warbled on about American values, bridging partisan divides, and more hopey changey blather, but he did not mention an international incident with Iran taking custody of 2 US Navy ships and detaining 10 US sailors.

Today, Secretary of State, John Kerry, bragged about kowtowing to Iranian officials and unbelievably he bragged about his smart diplomacy, where he lauds his handling this situation peacefully.  He actually thanked Iran for releasing our sailors.

If there are any people left in the Pentagon who aren’t political hacks, they assuredly must be furious about this administration bowing to Iran.  What really happened was not brilliant diplomacy, but a complete submission of the US to Iranian muscle-flexing.  The Obama administration has failed to respond to escalating provocations, emboldening Iran to engage in this latest stunt, knowing full well that the Obama administration would not respond forcefully.  Thanks to these clueless, wimpy, leftist nitwits in this administration, video of these American sailors, on their knees in submission, will now be broadcast all over the Mid-East.  So, the message Secretary Kerry is not brilliant diplomacy, it’s America’s military on its knees.

In the real world, far away from the neutered Obama administration, weakness is a potent provocation.   Safe to state – neither smart nor powerful!

Next post will be the Russian connection in our 2016 election

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Filed under Foreign Policy, General Interest, Military, Politics, Terrorism, The Media

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