Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
PARIS. The usual "solidarity" theatre. None of this means a thing and won't until we start to hear about the role of Wahhabism in all this, where it comes from and who spreads it; Daesh's Turkey supply route; that Washington and its allies cannot support jihadists in one place and expect to control them in another; that US neocons and "humanitarian interventionists" have produced a catastrophe; that Assad is an ally; that Iran is an ally; that Putin is not only an ally but knows what to do; that NATO is wasting its time "protecting" the Baltics from Russia and should either start really dealing with its members' security or give up. That will require an unprecedented amount of truth-telling. Danielle Ryan speculates on changes in the spin machine.
BUT MAYBE WE ARE HEARING... The CIA man who helped start it all reflects that Western intervention made it worse. A retired British general dares to say "Wahhabi". A former CIA deputy director thinks it's time to team up with Assad. Even the WaPo starts to get it – US-supplied missile destroys a US-supplied Humvee.Meanwhile, Russia's initiative gains support in Vienna.
PUTIN (ONCE AGAIN) EXPLAINS HIS POSITION. Take seven minutes and watch this video from about a year ago. And ask yourself: does this sound right or wrong? If you think it wrong, see Joe Biden agree with him: "[Our allies] poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except that the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world." (Text)
SYRIA. Obviously much is happening and the situation is very fluid. Russia stepped up operations against Daesh (the airliner was brought down by a bomb), targeting the oil business – videos of hits on storage tanks and trucks. Oil is a major source of Daesh funds; the US claims at last to be targeting it. (How could it not have seen those lines of trucks? But the US effort had been rather half-hearted.) Long-range aviation seems to be hitting infrastructure while (more) aircraft based in Syria concentrate on close air support to the Syrian Army (progressing). The big question is this: it is clear to the objective viewer that Russia is leading the attack; will Paris sign up with Moscow? Ideas that France "lead" the attacks are absurd: only Russia and the USA have "full service" militaries. Hollande is close to it: "In the next few days, I will therefore meet with President Obama and President Putin to unite our forces and to achieve a result which, at this point, has been put off for far too long." There's an opportunity because France is sending its carrier to the Med and Putin told the Navy to coordinate efforts with it. The two military heads have talked. Gilbert Doctorow, an astute observer, expects cooperation – there's huge popular support in France for it. Obama himself has taken a baby step towards the Putin position which was, again,upheld at Vienna. In short, Assad is not the problem, Daesh is. Even – even! – Clinton gets it.
REFUGEES. Syria's UN Ambassador says about a million refugees have returned since the Russian strikes, and associated Syrian army victories, began. A million? Well, anyway, it's clear that the solution to the European refugee/migrant problem is make the countries they came from worth living in again. More truth-telling will be required here: as I said before, the refugees come from places NATO "saved".
MESSING WITH THEIR MINDS. Russian TV "accidentally" showed a frightening Russian weapon. Or maybe it's just a piece of paper. The US will probably wind up spending billions and billions.
ECONOMY. More evidence that the Russian economy is turning around from Bloomberg.
ISOLATED PUTIN. The RI Humour Editor permits herself a small smile. Reality and polite diplomacy proves a powerful combination against fantasy and bluster.
SPORTS DOPING. Yes, no, maybe. But I am always suspicious when another anti-Russia campaign starts.
WHO'S IN CHARGE? 50 analysts from the US Defense Intelligence Agency have claimed their reports were manipulated to give "a more positive picture to the White House". The former DIA head says warnings were ignored. "Shellback" argues that the US int establishment does not support what the US Administration is doing. Are these catastrophes the work of amateurs and ignoramuses?
MH17. Remember that? Some Dutch media companies are suing the government to try and get more information. (In Dutch). By the way, US satellites detected the explosion of the Russian airliner, so what did they see with MH17 and why are we still not told what it was? You know why.