Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Just when I had got you all convinced that the first thing to do in fucking Syria was primum non nocere - "not do any more harm" y'all go and do something really fucking stupid.
My single biggest problem with all the moronic drumbeating to "do something" about the Islamic State in Syria is that Syria is twelve goddamn monkeys fucking a football. It's a no-holds-barred, chain-cage grudge match with about eight tag-teams all wrasslin' each other. The chances of something exactly like this - a chance encounter leading to a potentially disastrous international confrontation - is something like eight in ten. You'd have to be freaking brain-dead to want to get involved unless you either didn't care whether that happened or were willing to go all Cuban Missile Crisis when it did.

Over at Pierce's joint Bob Bateman has what I read as a fairly perceptive analysis of why this won't become another Berlin or Cuba, though.
"...there is one immutable thing about Putin's Russian forces in Syria, one that they can't avoid. They need fuel. This is an issue, why? Because to supply the amount of fuel needed by an air campaign requires more than just an airlift. It has to come via sea. Getting fuel from Russia itself to the Russian bases on the coast of Syria involves getting from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. Bit of a problem that, since that means going through the Dardanelles. Turkey, in short, owns Russia on that count. Unless Russia wants to start a shooting war with all of NATO."
How about that; turns out that control of the Dardanelles is as critical to the Turkey-Russia balance of power (and international relations in general) in 2015 as it was in 1915.

Dammit! If only President Trump was in position to throw the 1st Marine Division ashore at Suvla Bay! That'd show those damned Turks!
Thanks for nothing, Obummer!


Ael said...

There are lots of ways to get a tanker load of JP4 to Latakia without going through the Dardanelles. Of course, the alternatives are much longer.

I wonder if Greece would be willing to sell it to Russia. They have large refineries and poking a stick in Turkey's eye would be very appealing.

FDChief said...

Longer, and ridiculously difficult. The Black Sea ports are right there next to the oilfields. Going out thru the Baltic, or around Asia from Vladivostok requires either additional movement via pipeline or an insane sea voyage. With control of the Black Sea egress the Turks can, at least, force Russia to jump some very irksome hoops.

I would guess that Greece would like to help - if not to prod the Turk in return for Russian support against Germany in their fiscal fight - but while they may refine the stuff they don't produce the fuel sources. I'd guess that takes them out as a player in this one...

Ael said...

I don't understand the problem Chief. Greece is a major exporter of refined petroleum products. They buy supertanker loads of crude oil from multiple sources and sell the refined products (like jp4) to people who want it. (usually other European countries). Adding a busy airport like Latakia would provide welcome revenue but would not strain their capacity in any way.

I see no way that Turkey could stop a Greek supertanker from filling oil from, say, Iran and taking it to the refineries on the Peloponnese. Even if the tanker was buying crude oil direct from Russia on a Black Sea port, I don't see the Turks stopping it, short of actual war.

Big Daddy said...

I think Putin is going to regret this. So far he has been bullying former Soviet possessions and dropping bombs in Syria, stuff that plays well at home and has minimal risk of retaliation. Now he has an exchange of fire with an OG Nato member who is unlikely to knuckle under to bluster and has a strong case against Russia, and the ability to close off the Black Sea. The Kremlin may have to eat crow over this.

On a related note today's post from Bateman is on strategy http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a39985/four-levels-of-war/ as in "you keep using that word, but I do not think it means what you think it means"

Ael said...

Hey Chief,

Seen the slide in Santa Clarita, California?

Does not look like a typical slump (in that the ground on the bottom seems to have gone up, rather than the top stuff sliding down over the surface to the bottom).

Any comments from your dirt nanny alter-ego?

FDChief said...

I had a long Facebook exchange with a geo-pal about this Ael. My problem was that I couldn't figure out from the articles and the photos what the hell was happening here. But the article you linked to had the first large angle view I've seen, and it looks pretty clear to me that this thing is the toe bulge of a much larger slide. I'm going to post a marked up picture of it so you can see what I think is going on. Typically the toe of a large, slow-moving earthflow-type slide can produce big uplifts or bulges like this one...