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    • US Congresswoman Introduces Bill To Stop "Illegal" War On Assad; Says CIA Ops Must Stop

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      Last month, US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard went on CNN and laid bare Washington’s Syria strategy.  Repeatedly she has laid out simply, clearly and with experience the reality in Syria. 

        Sat, Nov 28
    • In a remarkably candid interview with Wolf Blitzer, Gabbard calls Washington’s effort to oust Assad “counterproductive” and “illegal” before taking it a step further and accusing the CIA of arming the very same terrorists who The White House insists are “sworn enemies.” 

      In short, Gabbard all but tells the American public that the government is lying to them and may end up inadvertently starting “World War III.”

      For those who missed it, here’s the clip:

    • That was before Paris.

      Well, in the wake of the attacks, Gabbard has apparently had just about enough of Washington vacillating in the fight against terror just so the US can ensure that ISIS continues to destabilize Assad and now, with bi-partisan support,the brazen Hawaii Democrat has introduced legislation to end the “illegal war” to overthrow Assad. 

      Gabbard, who fought in Iraq - twice - has partnered with Republican Adam Scott on the bill. Here’s AP:

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    • London Anti-War Protest Demands: Don’t Bomb Syria

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    • Thousands of people took to the streets of London to protest against a proposed bombing campaign in Syria.

      The demonstration was organized by the Stop The War Coalition in response to Prime Minister David Cameron’s Thursday address to the House of Commons where he laid out his case for air-strikes in Syria.

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      A recent survey conducted for the Daily Mirror by Survation showed 59 percent of people believed sending warplanes to bomb key Isis targets in the war-torn country will increase the risk of terrorist attacks in the UK.

      While 48 percent of people said they backed air raids on the extremists, but 30 percent want Britain to stay away and a further 21 percent are undecided.

    • ‘The proposed vote in parliament on bombing Syria by British forces is likely to take place within the next week,’ Stop the War Coalition said in a statement.

      ‘Yet this bombing will not stop terror attacks.’

      ‘The UK has been bombing countries for a decade and a half, at the cost of millions of lives.

      ‘Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results meets Albert Einstein’s definition of madness.’

      ‘We are calling on all our groups to organize protests in their towns and cities on the same day.’

      ‘We need to resist this brutalizing and dehumanizing spiral of violence.’

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    • Cameron doesn't know what he's doing so he shouldn't go to war

    • Thursday 26 November 2015
    • The British prime minister has failed to make a convincing case for military involvement

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    • US urges Turkey to close off its Syrian border to ISIS - media     

    • Washington is urging Ankara to seal off a 100-kilometer stretch of borderline with Syria currently used by Islamic State for transportation of fighters and supplies into the Syrian war zone. The Turkish Army would need an estimated 30,000 personnel to do this.   

      The Obama administration is urging Turkey to ensure Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria receives no supplies through the Turkish border, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing sources in Washington. The request involves sealing off part of the frontier between the western Turkish town of Kilis and Jarabulus in eastern Syrian.

    • “The game has changed. Enough is enough! The border needs to be sealed,” the WSJ cited a senior Obama administration official as saying in a message from the US government to Turkey. “This is an international threat, and it’s all coming out of Syria and it’s coming through Turkish territory.”

      The US has called particular attention to a small part of the border between Jarabulus and Cobanbey, which is being used extensively by IS to transfer munitions and other supplies from Turkey to Syria, and foreign fighters in both directions.

      A Pentagon official told the WSJ that cordoning off a section of the border would require the deployment of approximately 10,000 additional troops, while a “broader humanitarian mission” would demand a 30,000-strong task force.

      “There’s no local, capable, motivated force that is prepared to clear this area at this time,” the WSJ cited a senior US defense official as saying. “There are two sides to every border. If Turkey is motivated to seal their border, there is nothing that’s stopping them from using their conventional forces to do so,” the official said.

      Turkish officials say some steps in this direction are already being taken, although they believe the number of troops necessary for the task is exaggerated, according to the WSJ.

      Turkey has a 640,000-strong military, estimated to be the eighth largest in the world, and Ankara is said to want to control things on their own terms.

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    • Putin approves economic sanctions against Turkey following downing of Russian warplane     

    • Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree imposing a package of economic sanctions against Turkey following its downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber in Syria. The measures include banning several Turkish organizations and the import of certain goods.  

      A decree on "measures providing the national security of the Russian Federation and the protection of its citizens against criminal and other unlawful acts, and on imposing special economic measures in relation to Turkish Republic" was signed on Saturday, the Kremlin press service said.

      Under the decree, the import of certain products originating from Turkey will be temporarily banned or restricted.

      A number of Turkish organizations operating in Russia will also be restricted.

    • Employers in Russia will be prohibited from hiring Turkish nationals for work starting January 1, 2016.

      The ban will touch upon only new workers, the decree said, adding that employees who already officially hired as of December 31, 2015 will not fall subject to the sanctions.

      The government has been tasked by the president with introducing a ban on charter flights between Russia and Turkey. Russian travel agencies have been ordered to stop selling tours to Turkey, the Kremlin announced.

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    • Turkish newspaper editor in court for 'espionage' after revealing weapon convoy to Syrian militants     

    • A Turkish prosecutor asked a court to imprison the editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet newspaper pending trial for espionage and treason. In May, the outlet published photos of weapons it said were then transferred to Syria by Turkey’s intelligence agency.
    • Besides the editor, Can Dündar, the prosecution said it is seeking the same pre-trial restrictions for Cumhuriyet’s representative in Ankara, Erdem Gül.

      Dündar arrived at an Istanbul court on Thursday, saying that he and his colleague “came here to defend journalism.”

      “We came here to defend the right of the public to obtain the news and their right to know if their government is feeding them lies. We came here to show and to prove that governments cannot engage in illegal activity and defend this,” Dündar was cited by Today’s Zaman.

      The articles, published on Cumhuriyet's front page in May, claimed that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) is smuggling weapons in trucks into Syria and was caught doing so twice in 2014. The trucks were allegedly stopped and searched by police, with photos and videos of their contents obtained by Cumhuriyet.

      According to the paper, the trucks were carrying six steel containers, with 1,000 artillery shells, 50,000 machine gun rounds, 30,000 heavy machine gun rounds and 1,000 mortar shells. The arms were reportedly delivered to extremist groups fighting against the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad, whom Ankara wants ousted from power.

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    • ‘Commercial scale’ oil smuggling into Turkey becomes priority target of anti-ISIS strikes     

    • Islamic State’s daring and impudent oil smuggling into Turkey should become a high-priority target in order to cripple the terrorist group, President Putin said, backed by French President Francois Hollande. Both agree that the source of terrorist financing must be hit first and foremost.
    • Commercial-scale oil smuggling from Islamic State controlled territory into Turkey must be stopped, Putin said after meeting Hollande in Moscow.

      “Vehicles, carrying oil, lined up in a chain going beyond the horizon,” said Putin, reminding the press that the scale of the issue was discussed at the G20 summit in Antalya earlier this month, where the Russian leader demonstrated reconnaissance footage taken by Russian pilots.

      READ MORE: Ankara defends ISIS, Turkish officials have financial interest in oil trade with group - PM Medvedev

      The views resemble a “living oil pipe” stretched from ISIS and rebel controlled areas of Syria into Turkey, the Russian President stressed. “Day and night they are going to Turkey. Trucks always go there loaded, and back from there – empty.”

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    • Putin: Turkey deliberately leading relations with Russia 'into a gridlock'     

    • Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Turkey of intentionally bringing relations with Russia into a ‘gridlock’ following the incident with the downed Russian bomber in Syria.   

      The Turkish government has made no steps towards clearing up the situation with Russia after the Tuesday incident at the Syrian-Turkish border. The country has neither offered any compensation nor expressed any apologies over the death of the Russian pilot, thus apparently deliberately dampening relations with Moscow, Putin stressed in his speech at the presentation of foreign ambassadors’ letters of credence in the Kremlin on Thursday.

    • “We have still not heard any comprehensible apologies from the Turkish political leaders or any offers to compensate for the damage caused or promises to punish the criminals for their crime,” Russian president said.

      “One gets the impression that the Turkish leaders are deliberately leading Russian-Turkish relations into a gridlock – and we are sorry to see this,” he added.

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      • Russia accuses Turkey of 'hypocrisy' after Erdogan admits airspace violation 'does not justify attack'

          Syria shot down a Turkish warplane in 2012, in an incident which has many echoes with Tuesday morning's 
    • Turkey has been accused of hypocrisy over the downing of a Russian warplane on the Syrian border, after it emerged that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan himself said “a short-term border violation can never be a pretext for an attack”.


      The Russian jet which came down on Tuesday morning entered a small sliver of Turkish airspace for 17 seconds, according to the Turkish military’s own data, while the Russian defence ministry says the Su-24 bomber was in Syria at all times.


      The incident has echoes of a reverse situation in 2012, when the Syrian regime shot down a Turkish F-4 Phantom which, it said, entered its airspace off the country’s north-east coast.

    • Then, Turkey spoke of its “rage” at the decision to shoot down the jet, which was on a training flight testing its own country’s radar systems.


      “A short-term border violation can never be a pretext for an attack,” Mr Erdogan said at the time, threatening in response that “every military element approaching Turkey from the Syrian border… will be assessed as a military threat and treated as a military target”.

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    • Turks Reluctant to Use Force to Defend NATO Allies


      Turks are hesitant to live up to their Article 5 obligation to come to the aid of another NATO country if it is attacked. Nearly half (47%) say Turkey should not use military force to defend a NATO ally if Russia got into a serious military conflict with that country. In this regard, views in Turkey are similar to the 8 other NATO members polled, including the U.S., Canada and 6 EU nations. In those countries, a median of 42% said their country should not use military action if Russia attacks a fellow NATO member.

    • On the other side, only 29% of Turks say they should use force to defend their ally, with around a quarter undecided (23%). Because of the relatively high number of undecided people in Turkey on this question, the percentage saying that they should defend a NATO ally is much lower than the 8 country NATO median (48%).


      Turks are split on whether the U.S. would come to that NATO country’s aid. Four-in-ten in Turkey say that the U.S. would use military force to defend their NATO ally, while 34% say the U.S. would not and a quarter are undecided. (For more on NATO countries’ views toward Russia and using military force to defend a NATO ally, see NATO Publics Blame Russia for Ukrainian Crisis, but Reluctant to Provide Military Aid, released June 10, 2015).

    • Hollande meets with Obama, talks complicated by downed jet
    • Julie Pace and Kathleen Hennessey, The Associated Press      
            Published Tuesday, November 24, 2015 12:52AM EST     
            Last Updated Tuesday, November 24, 2015 10:48AM EST   

        WASHINGTON -- Standing in solidarity after the Paris attacks, President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande opened talks Tuesday about expanding the international campaign against the Islamic State, an effort likely to be complicated by Turkey's shootdown of a Russian warplane.


        Hollande's trip to Washington is part of a diplomatic push to get the U.S. and other nations to bolster efforts to destroy the militant group that has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks. The French president planned to urge Obama to work with Russia to build a new coalition to fight the extremists.


        Even before the incident between Turkey and Russia, Hollande faced a tough challenge in getting Obama to agree to a partnership with Moscow. The U.S. is deeply skeptical of President Vladimir Putin's motivations, given his longstanding support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    • Obama and Hollande did not comment on the downing of the Russian plane as they appeared briefly before reporters Tuesday morning. The two leaders were to hold a joint news conference after their private talks.


        U.S. forces were not involved in the air incident, according to an American military official, who was not authorized to discuss the incident publicly and so spoke on condition of anonymity.


        Nearly five years of clashes between Assad's government and rebel forces have created a vacuum that has allowed the Islamic State to thrive. The group appears to now be focusing on targets outside its base in Syria and Iraq, including attacks in Lebanon and Turkey and the downing of a Russian airliner over Egypt.


        Given the rash of attacks, Obama is now facing increased pressure at home and abroad to ramp up U.S. efforts to destroy the militants. So far, Obama is resisting calls to significantly escalate his approach, and instead is focused on getting other countries to offer more counterintelligence, humanitarian and military assistance.

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    • Vladimir Putin slams Turkey for shooting down Russian warplane near Syrian border


      Syria rebels say they shot, killed one Russian pilot as he parachuted, fate of other pilot unknown


          The Associated Press    Posted: Nov 24, 2015

    • Turkey shot down a Russian fighter plane Tuesday — a long-feared crisis in Syria's civil war and apparently the first time a NATO member has downed a Russian plane in a half-century.


      Russian President Vladimir Putin called Turkey's action a "stab in the back by the terrorists' accomplices" and warned of "significant consequences." Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov cancelled a visit to Turkey which had been planned for Wednesday. 



      At Turkey's request, NATO's governing body called an emergency meeting.


      Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu insisted his country has the right to take "all kinds of measures" against border violations, and called on the international community to work toward "extinguishing the fire that is burning in Syria."

    • Turkey said the Su-24 ignored several warnings that it was nearing, then intruding, into Turkish airspace. Russia insisted the plane stayed over Syria, where it was supporting ground action against rebels.

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    • Putin warns of ‘serious consequences’ after Turkey downs Russian warplane


      Turkey says fighter jets destroyed plane; Russia denies it violated Turkish airspace and Putin says Turkey an accomplice of terrorism

      • By:   Associated Press,    Published on Tue Nov 24 2015    

          Photos  View photos 

        •   A combination picture taken from video shows a war plane crashing in flames in a mountainous area in northern Syria on Tuesday.  zoom 

        ANKARA, TURKEY — Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Turkey of being an accomplice of terrorism for shooting down a Russian warplane in Syria and warned of “very serious consequences” for their relations.


        World markets were roiled by the warplane’s downing, and ambassadors of the 28 NATO member states are meeting in Brussels at Turkey’s request to discuss the incident.


        “We understand that everyone has their own interests but we won’t allow such crimes to take place,” Putin said at talks Tuesday with Jordanian King Abdullah II in Sochi, Russia. “We received a stab in the back from accomplices of terrorism.”

    • Russia’s warplane was one kilometre from the border with Turkey when it was “shot down over Syrian territory” by Turkish F-16 jets firing air-to-air missiles, Putin said. It’s “obvious” that the Russian “pilots and our aircraft in no way threatened the Republic of Turkey” as they carried out an operation against Islamic State, he said.


      It was the first direct clash between foreign powers embroiled in the civil war. Russia’s Defence Ministry denied the plane had crossed the border. Russia began its bombing campaign in Syria Sept. 30 against Islamic State and other groups battling President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.


      Turkey’s action is the first time in decades that a North Atlantic Treaty Organization member has downed a Russian military aircraft. Ambassadors of the 28 NATO member states are meeting in Brussels at Turkey’s request to discuss the incident, the military alliance said in a statement.

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    • November 16, 2015
    • Putin Names And Shames Obama Into Bombing IS Oil Smugglers


      The U.S. claims it wants to hit the Islamic State but in one year of bombing it never really touched one of its biggest sources of income. Hundreds of oil tanker trucks are waiting every day at IS distribution points to smuggle oil to Turkey and elsewhere. Only one such distribution point was ever bombed and that attack was  by the Iraqi air force.


      Now the Russian President Putin played some "name and shame" at the G-20 meeting in Turkey and, lo and behold, the problem gets solved.


      The Obama administration recently claimed it would increase attacks on the most expensive Syrian oil infrastructure which is owned by the Syrian government but under IS control. But it said it would still not hit the large truck gatherings.

      While the American-led air campaign has conducted periodic airstrikes against oil refineries and other production facilities in eastern Syria that the group controls, the organization’s engineers have been able to quickly repair damage, and keep the oil flowing, American officials said. The Obama administration has also balked at attacking the Islamic State’s fleet of tanker trucks — its main distribution network — fearing civilian casualties. 

      But now the administration has decided to increase the attacks and focus on inflicting damage that takes longer to fix or requires specially ordered parts, American officials said.


      The obvious target to stop the oil trade is to hit the trucks. Without trucks the other infrastructure is useless for IS as the oil can not be sold. With trucks destroyed the men behind the smuggling will lose all profits and leave the business. The "civilian casualties" argument does not hold. There could be warnings to avoid human damage or one could consider that these oil smugglers are dealing with terrorists and thereby accomplices. The real U.S. reluctance to hit the oil smuggling might be out of deference to the Turkish government which of course profits from such oil transfers.

    • Then came along Russia and its President Putin and demonstrated at the current G-20 meeting that the U.S. is not serious about fighting IS. Today the Turkish journalist Abdullah Bozkurt reports remarks by President Putin from a G-20 sideline event:

      Abdullah Bozkurt @abdbozkurt
      Putin in #Turkey: I provided examples based on our data on the financing of different #ISIL units by private individuals. 

      "This money, as we have established, comes from 40 countries and, there are some of the G20 members among them”, Putin says


      "I’ve shown our colleagues photos taken from space & from aircraft which clearly demonstrate the scale of the illegal trade in oil"


      Putin provided that information and the photos yesterday. Obama must have been deeply embarrassed and pissed. Suddenly, a day after Putin exposed the U.S. reluctance to hit IS where it is needed, a big truck assembly was bombed:

      Intensifying pressure on the Islamic State, United States warplanes for the first time attacked hundreds of trucks on Monday that the extremist group has been using to smuggle the crude oil it has been producing in Syria, American officials said. According to an initial assessment, 116 trucks were destroyed in the attack, which took place near Deir al-Zour, an area in eastern Syria that is controlled by the Islamic State.
      Until Monday, the United States had refrained from striking the fleet used to transport oil, believed to include more than 1,000 tanker trucks, because of concerns about causing civilian casualties. As a result, the Islamic State’s distribution system for exporting oil had remained largely intact.

      It seems that Putin's naming and shaming with regards to the oil smuggling was successful. We might soon see a similar effect on the financing sources he mentioned.

    • President Vladimir Putin says he’s shared Russian intelligence data on Islamic State financing with his G20 colleagues: the terrorists appear to be financed from 40 countries, including some G20 member states.
    • During the summit, “I provided examples based on our data on the financing of different Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) units by private individuals. This money, as we have established, comes from 40 countries and, there are some of the G20 members among them,” Putin told the journalists.
    • Putin also spoke of the urgent need to curb the illegal oil trade by IS.

      "I’ve shown our colleagues photos taken from space and from aircraft which clearly demonstrate the scale of the illegal trade in oil and petroleum products," he said.

      The motorcade of refueling vehicles stretched for dozens of kilometers, so that from a height of 4,000 to 5,000 meters they stretch beyond the horizon," Putin added, comparing the convoy to gas and oil pipeline systems.

      It’s not the right time to try and figure out which country is more and which is less effective in the battle with Islamic State, as now a united international effort is needed against the terrorist group, Putin said.

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    • U.S. Warplanes Strike ISIS Oil Trucks in Syria

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      • Former DIA Chief Michael Flynn Says Rise of Islamic State was “a willful decision” and Defends Accuracy of 2012 Memo

        August 6, 2015 by Brad Hoff
      • In Al Jazeera’s latest Head to Head episode, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Michael Flynn confirms to Mehdi Hasan that not only had he studied the DIA memo predicting the West’s backing of an Islamic State in Syria when it came across his desk in 2012, but even asserts that the White House’s sponsoring of radical jihadists (that would emerge as ISIL and Nusra) against the Syrian regime was “a willful decision.”


        Amazingly, Flynn actually took issue with the way interviewer Mehdi Hasan posed the question—Flynn seemed to want to make it clear that the policies that led to the rise of ISIL were not merely the result of ignorance or looking the other way, but the result of conscious decision making:

      • Hasan: You are basically saying that even in government at the time you knew these groups were around, you saw this analysis, and you were arguing against it, but who wasn’t listening?
         Flynn: I think the administration.
         Hasan: So the administration turned a blind eye to your analysis?
         Flynn: I don’t know that they turned a blind eye, I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision.
         Hasan: A willful decision to support an insurgency that had Salafists, Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood?
         Flynn: It was a willful decision to do what they’re doing.

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      • Trudeau and ISIS: Is the bombing still a bad idea?


        After Paris, prime minister ponders his pledge to end the air war on Islamic State


            By Terry Milewski, CBC News    Posted: Nov 14, 2015

      • ​On Thursday, eight days after Justin Trudeau took office, two CF-18 fighters with laser-guided bombs screamed above the desert city of Sinjar, in northern Iraq.
      • Below lay a crucial artery for the so-called Islamic State: Highway 47, the main east-west route between ISIS headquarters in Raqqah, Syria, and the ISIS-held city of Mosul, Iraq.


        On the ground, Kurdish forces were mounting an assault on the ISIS garrison at Sinjar in a bid to cut its supply line. The Canadian pilots' task was to take out an obstacle to the Kurdish advance: an Islamic State unit dug in to the east of Sinjar at Tal Afar. A second target was an ISIS ammunition store close to Sinjar itself.


        Both targets were hit. The counteroffensive worked. With the aid of the Canadian, as well as U.S., pilots, plus Canadian special forces trainers on the ground, the Kurdish forces drove ISIS out of Sinjar. It was hailed as a "liberation" by the remaining Yazidi community, who had been massacred and enslaved by the Islamic State.


        But... what happened to Justin Trudeau's pledge to bring the CF-18s home and end their participation in the war on ISIS? And will that pledge survive the massacre in Paris?

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      • “The success of government…,” the late historian Edmund Morgan wrote, “requires the acceptance of fictions, requires the willing suspension of disbelief, requires us to believe that the emperor is clothed even though we can see that he is not.”
      • Representation is chief among those fictions.


        “Just as the exaltation of the king could be a means of controlling him,” Morgan continued, “so the exaltation of the people can be a means of controlling them…. If the representative consented, his constituents had to make believe that they had done so.”


        Questioning the authenticity of representative government may seem beyond the pale in America. But occasionally the veil slips, and we glimpse reality. If we really live under a representative government, how can a president take the country to war without even a show vote in Congress, much less a referendum? (The proposed Ludlow Amendment to the Constitution would have required a referendum on war.)

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      • One of the great Freudian slips of our time was supplied by a Fox News anchor on March 24, 1999, as Nato was preparing to wage war on Yugoslavia:


        'Let's bring in our Pentagon spokesman - excuse me, our Pentagon correspondent.'


        For indeed the unwritten rule informing this type of journalism is: if you want to get close to the 'defence' establishment, you better be close to the 'defence' establishment: ideologically, sympathetically, 'patriotically'.


        A near-perfect example of this industry-wide perceptual bias has been supplied this year by BBC diplomatic editor, Mark Urban.


        Last week, Urban discussed the Russian bombing campaign in Syria in a piece entitled: 'Russia's Syria intervention: One month in.'


        This was made fascinating by the fact that, in January, Urban had written a piece on the US bombing campaign in Syria and Iraq: 'On board with the US air crews fighting Islamic State.'


        So how do these articles compare?

      • 'On Board With The US Air Crews Fighting Islamic State'


        The title of the piece on US bombing is an obviously positive, propaganda formulation, indicating that Urban was 'on board' and embedded with a US aircraft carrier attacking the bad guys du jour - Islamic State. The title excludes from consideration the possibility that the US, directly and through regional client regimes, has been supporting Islamic State with weapons, or has other nefarious aims. It is simply waging war on the Official Enemy. This immediately banishes the kind of 'complexity' described by political analyst Bill Blum:

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