Dr Mara Karlin:
I listened to your talk at W/M last night. I found it most interesting and rather troubling at the same time. Since I have divorced myself from MSM, I have a rather different perspective on topics you mentioned. I, along with Stephen Kinzer of the Watson Institute, gave up on MSM when it became obvious it was nothing more than echo chambers of the state and defense departments. I suggest you do the same. I will discuss three major points that you mentioned that, IMHO, does not align with reality.
I need to note two things. This assessment is based upon your talk last night and your talk at the Atlantic Council. I agree with your support for the JCPOA but I support it for reasons that differ greatly from your own. I have not read your book so I apologize in advance if I get some of the things wrong but given you are going to testify before congress and I have more than enough books sitting in my great room to wade through I felt a need to make these points now.
Before you testify before congress on Syria, I suggest you consider the following:
You stated that Iran and Russia were going to ensure the Assad remains in power. Zarif has, in each speech (emphasis added) on Syria mentioned a five point plan. The latter two points call for constitutional reform and free and fair elections. Zarif and the Russians, including Putin, have repeatedly made this pronouncement. I assume you know something different than these public pronouncements.
As a student of history, I have found it amazing how the US time and time again first hugs various despots, but then these depots seem to have difficulty holding on to power. Saddam Hussein, Shah, Gaddafi, and the list continues. We seem to have difficulty choosing the “Chosen”. With regard to Assad I should add that Kerry, for the longest time, was hugging Assad rather tightly but now he is no longer one of the “chosen”. I would be most interested in understanding how we got ourselves aligned with the overweight ex-Assad General that leads our “chosen” group, the “freedom fighter”. Assad extended a hand to this fellow in 2011. Interestingly Syria held elections in 2014 and this fellow did not come out on top. I have a suggestion before you testify and make the same mistake that Colin Powell did at the UN. IF Syria does in fact hold elections as suggested by Russian and Iran and if the UN oversees those elections, what is the US going to say if the results of those elections yield the same outcome as the 2014 elections? I would ask you to ponder that possibility. I am willing to bet money that those elections will yield a result different than one you would predict.
Time and time again I hear defense department experts warn us of Russia. Russia has the GDP of half of California. HALF! (emphasis added). A few months back the British navy flocked to surround the Russia aircraft carrier as it transited the channel and the worst thing the Russians did was to spew unburnt diesel fuel across the landscape because that antiquated carrier, the pride of the Russian navy, was spewing so much black smoke I thought the thing was coal powered. I found it funny and sadly symbolic of our “fear” of that Russian bear. Google the number of “safe” Russian submarines. Russia makes a profit on oil only when that barrel exceeds $42. Even a cursory examination of the state of Russia’s economy will tell you that, because the world’s oil glut is going to last at least two more years, Russia will be in the same place as the US was in 2008. When you and DoD refers to Russia it would good to look at the future of fossil fuels and build that into your equation. Further, I suggest you contact W/M professor Colonel Larry Wilkerson about military intelligence’s assessment of the Soviet Union during the Reagan years. He actually undertook an assessment of this fiasco not so long ago. The military’s intelligence regarding Russia, IMHO as well as Colonel Wilkerson’s, is about as bad back then as it is today. FYI, our military convinced Reagan we needed to expend big bucks to counter the “bear” but that same military had more than enough information that indicated the collapse of the Soviet Union was imminent without the US needing to, in your words, “spend MORE”.
As it happens the day before your talk I was about to investigate Greece. I was going to do that because I knew we intervene in 1947 and I have yet to find a success story in the 72 different interventions the CIA/US military had engaged in since WWII. Two things prompted me to investigate Greece. My niece spent a month in Greece and avoided telling the natives she was American because she noted great disdain of Americans from the Greeks. A few weeks back on PBS there was a story of a budding journalist who was starting her career in international affairs in Greece. She was also taken aback by the anti-American sentiment among the Greeks. You pointed to Greece as one of our success stories. I believe each of those 72 interventions has done us little lasting good on the world stage. In the next edition of your book you might desire to do a reassessment of Greece. If the expiration date of our ”success” is less than half a generation then I would challenge the sturdiness of that assessment. The reference below took me less than a minute to find.
Lastly, please note. The great United States of America did not defeat Germany nor Japan as you reported. There were a few other countries involved in defeat of Germany and Japan. You might want to take a close look. The goodwill that resulted from our “contribution” to the WWII effort was squandered with the 72 interventions into the foreign affairs of other countries. The fact you needed to hunt to find Greece as a success should speak volumes. I would go as far as say that our “goodwill” was fully squandered on August 19, 1953 in Iran because that event destroyed the chance to have peace in the middle east today. We had a chance to turn the tide of the world in our favor after 9/11. We had the sympathies of the planet BUT, again, we squandered even that. We succeeded in uniting the world in its opposition to us and set the stage for the mess we have now.
I totally disagree with your assessment we need to get more involved in the world and faster. The very best thing this country could do is to withdraw from the world stage. Dr Ruit, a famous citizen in Nepal summed it up best after we screwed up that country just a few years back. “You Americans come into a country you have no knowledge of, spread your shit around and leave havoc in your wake.” It is time we stopped spreading our “shit around”. The world would be better off without that havoc.
Finally, I would encourage you to follow Abbas Milani. Dr Milani of Stanford has lived the “real world” impacts of our intervention into his country. He will tell you that democracies never come from outside a country. External forces only bring forth strife. Stable governments are spawned from within the states themselves and are the product of the hopes and desires of those peoples. I would be nice if, for once, we would let that happen. I am afraid the path you suggest will do more harm to the planet than we already have.
Lon Crow, Lonrcrow@yahoo.com, www.MariamsWish.com