Icarus Rising: Diplomatic Solutions & the Foreign Policy Sausage

23 09 2013

Many were disturbed when our new Secretary of State John Kerry came on TV in July and August and started boasting about not having any other options in Syria (read: not wanting to pursue a diplomatic solution) but to deliver a military attack.  There was nothing logical about our Chief Diplomat pursuing a war-strategy and causing a World War III.

As it turns out, Kerry and McKain were fed information by young and talented Elizabeth O’Bagy from the Institute for the Study of War, and were quoting her research during Congressional Hearings.  “This postmodern reenactment of the Icarus myth also provides a bizarrely informative window into the way that Washington’s foreign policy sausage gets made,” correctly writes Think Progress.


Think Progress writes on September 11, 2013 in its article: “The Inside Story Of How A Fake PhD Hijacked The Syria Debate”:

“Dr. Elizabeth O’Bagy, Syria expert, made quite an impression on Senator John McCain. During Senate hearings, the former Presidential candidate [McKain] quoted at length from her recent Wall Street Journal op-ed painting a rosy picture of a mostly secular, pro-Western anti-Assad insurgency.

“John, do you agree with Dr. O’Bagy’s assessment of the opposition?” the Senator [McKain] asked the Secretary of State John Kerry. “I agree with most of that,” he replied.

O’Bagy’s op-ed piece for the Journal, “Elizabeth O’Bagy: On the Front Lines of Syria’s Civil War – The conventional wisdom—that jihadists are running the rebellion—is not what I’ve witnessed on the ground” was cited by both Kerry and McCain.  McCain read from the piece, calling it “an important op-ed by Dr. Elizabeth O’Bagy.” The next day, Kerry also brought up the piece before a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing and described it as a “very interesting article” and recommended that members read it.

Regardless of whether somebody took advantage of Elizabeth O’Bagy or whether O’Bagy was too ambitious to question motivation of her sources, it does not take too much research to walk back some of her sources.  My main question in this whole story was who is feeding O’Bagy’s bag full of tricks (credit to @peter_kiernan).

The Institute for the Study of War, where O’Bagy was working, has often been labeled by liberal pundits as “The Institute for the Promotion of War”, and sponsors of this non-profit organization are incidentally, also the pundits of the war manufacturing industry.  But our new Secretary of State, John Kerry, is a democrat, so how is it possible that his strategy on Syria is so interventionist-oriented?  How is the Cld War neo-conservative warring agenda connected to our liberal sources?

I would argue that this is motivated by those who are looking for their next job in the warring country, and likewise by the overambitious persons in the media. Enter Edward P. Joseph, another O’Bagy or Institute for Study of War connection.

Edward P. Joseph is eager to get back into the conflict area — high visibility, high fees, hardship pay.  Jospeh is a highly experienced field practitioner on conflict, stabilization and reconstruction.  He was on the ground in Kosovo as recently as 2012, as Deputy Head of OSCE Mission in Kosovo leading a ‘technical team’ of negotiators to run Serbian elections in Kosovo, and according to his own words “averting a brewing crisis between Serbia and Kosovo.”  He writes in his biography that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton specifically acknowledged his contribution in this role.

Joseph spent more than dozen years in the Balkans with war-time experience in every conflict front (Serb-Bosniak; Bosniak-Croat; Bosniak-Bosniak; Croat-Serb; Serb-Albanian; Albanian-Macedonian.)  So in one of the articles in Foreign Policy dated August 29, 2013 entitled “So You’ve Bombed Syria. What Next?” Joseph writes an article, together with Elizabeth O’Bagy that any serious peace plan needs to put security front and center.  The two co-authors advocate military action:

“At the moment, views are split within and outside the Obama administration over whether the United States should strike Bashar al-Assad merely to punish him for using chemical weapons – reasserting U.S. regional credibility in the process – or take sustained action to degrade the regime’s capacity to wage war and move the parties toward a peace deal.  This is a false choice. No matter the intensity or duration of the strike package, U.S. missiles are likely to open the best window yet to catalyze negotiations, something the United States and Russia have failed to do in a series of abortive attempts to hold a peace conference in Geneva. It is therefore critical that the administration seize this fleeting opportunity to hasten the end of the war as it formulates its military plans.

So Joseph advocates what he does best – separating the warring factions in the same way he operated in the Balkans:

“A serious, attention-getting peace proposal would contain at least two new components. First, it would specify the composition and control of state security forces, as well as the complimentary responsibilities of a U.N. peacekeeping force charged with separating factions and protecting vulnerable populations.”

Further, Joseph and O’Bagy, advise on divisio of Syria:

“Second, given the amount of bloodshed and population displacement, guaranteeing security is going to require another bold step: a map that codifies to some degree the demographic separation that has taken place over more than two years of fighting.”

How long has Joseph been coining this new assignment?  His democratic affiliations have been many.  Joseph was the intellectual contributor to both Joe Biden and Al Gore Presidential campaigns.

In February 2013 in one of his Foreign Policy articles “The Russia Gambit”, he questions, together with his co-author Christopher Chivvis (PhD, Rand Corporation), whether John Kerry is really ready for his new job as a Secretary of State to tackle the Syria issue advising him that for the sake of Syrian lives, John Kerry needs to play hardball with Moscow (see opinion piece by Jamie Rubin below on the same point).  Not only that, Jospeh and Chivvis wonder whether in the midst of vacant CIA Director post, John Kerry will really step up in his role as a Secretary of State, but they also state:

“Current trends in Syria suggest that Washington will be forced into some kind of action eventually. Every day the Assad regime manages to hang on, however crippled, the risk that it will use chemical weapons out of desperation mounts. Likewise, if the regime falls to radical Sunni Islamists, its chemical arsenal may well end up in radical hands. In either case, the damage to U.S. security and regional influence will be substantial.

The best way out of this quandary is to train and equip opposition fighters — the approach that the outgoing secretaries of state and defense, as well as the former CIA director reportedly backed. Providing weapons — most critically, man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) that can neutralize the regime’s overwhelming air advantage – to rebel groups on a selective basis would avoid the problem of aiding all groups indiscriminately, as would be the case with a no-fly zone, for example.”

References above are to Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta, and David Petraeus, outgoing secretary of state, defense and CIA.  All three of them approximately left during the six-month period, and whoever was planning war in Syria got caught in the vacuum of changing strategies.

As pertaining to media:  in my previous blog, I write a piece, entitled “Media to Understand Repercussions of Military Intervention in Syria: Military Strikes are Fought by Troops, the Troops are People & People Have Families” on the responsibility of media when reporting about the issues of war.  And I ask one question in my recent September tweet as pertaining to one very skilled media reporter Christiane Amanpour:

“Does media bears responsibly when they help start wars?”

Christiane Amanpour, who I respect but disagree with on the use of force, like Joseph has also gone through the experience of the Bosnian war.  She has made her career based on war reporting in the Balkans, and has as a result become a an opinion journalist.  Her angry and emotion plea to intervene in Syria is presented here. She helped coin mass opinions on the Syrian intervention.  Without considering diplomatic option, I find this type of opinion journalism dangerous.

What is opinion journalism? Wikipedia describes opinion journalism as journalism that makes no claim of objectivity.  Although to be distinguished from advocacy journalism, both forms feature a subjective viewpoint, usually with some social or political purpose.  Unlike advocacy journalism, opinion journalism has a reduced focus on detailed facts or research, and its perspective is often of a more personalized variety.  Common examples include newspaper columns, editorials, editorial cartoons and punditry.  And these are generally only one component of a generally objective news outlet, rather than the dominant feature of an entire publication or broadcast network.

Amanpour happens to be married to Jaime Rubin, a former diplomat and journalist, a former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Chief Spokesman for the State Department from 1997-2000, and a right-hand man to Secretary Madeleine Albright.  In his piece for the New Republic, Jamie Rubin writes on May 29, 2013 a piece entitled “Hey Man, Slow Down – John Kerry should put the brakes on negotiations with Russia over Syria.

Jamie Rubin writes:

“Secretary of State John Kerry has gotten off to a fast start as America’s chief diplomat, already racking up a half a dozen sessions with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.  Kerry says they have developed an extraordinary rapport, including bantering over ice hockey and other professional sports.  So far, so good.  But there’s a problem with this budding relationship.  Whereas Lavrov is a wily, experienced diplomat looking out for Russia alone, Kerry is new to the job and so anxious for a diplomatic achievement that he seems too willing to weaken U.S. policy with respect to the brutal war in Syria.

Kerry is making a big mistake if he doesn’t understand that Russia wants, as a matter of policy, to weaken the United States. He should be much more wary of negotiations with Lavrov until Assad’s calculations change, and that will only happen when the Syrian opposition recovers from recent setbacks. There will be a time for negotiations to succeed, but that time is not now.”

Rubin is not advocating dipolmatic solution, and is one of many who we talk about above who are primarily advocating a military intervention.

In summary, a lot of pressure has been put by the opinionated players who have access to media on the State Department to go with the option of the Syrian invasion.  They are either greedy for attention or greedy for the money and power.

For all we know intervention in Syria may even be an infighting between Clinton camp and Kerry camp, both of whom were former diplomatic nominees for the Presidency.  It is all a very dirty game, powered by opinionated media and faux journalists — going as subject matter experts who are seeking their next engagement either in the industry or in politics.  Our nation, our politics and our media are sick.

… And all of them should be careful because at the end, Icarus is the myth of over-ambition.

The main story told about Icarus is his attempt to escape from Crete by means of wings that his father constructed from feathers and wax.  Icarus ignored instructions not to fly too close to the sun, and the melting wax caused him to fall into the sea where he drowned.  In psychology, myth of Icarus is often used when describing the consequences of personal over-ambition, and ‘Icarus complex’ has been described as the relationship between fascination for fire, enuresis and high ambition – often correlated to the diagnosis of bipolar disorder.  It is described as a certain type of mania where a person is fond of heights, fascinated by both fire and water, narcissistic and observed with fantastical or far-fetched-imaginary cognition.


“Icarus – Borne On Wings Of Steel”


Early in the morning sunlight

Soaring on the wings of dawn

Here I’ll live and die with my wings in the sky

And I won’t come down no more

Higher than a bird I’m flying

Crimson skies of ice and fire

Borne on wings of steel I have so much to feel

And I won’t come down no more

Sail on, sail on, I will rise each day to meet the dawn

So high, so high

I’ve climbed the mountains of the sky

Without my wings you know I’d surely die

I found my freedom flyin’ high

I’ve climbed the mountains of the sky

Floating on a cloud of amber

Searching for the rainbow’s end

Earth so far below me,

I’m here alone, free

I can’t come down no more


Media to Understand Repercussions of Military Intervention in Syria: Military Strikes are fought by Troops, the Troops are People & People Have Families

5 09 2013

ImageForeign Policy Situation Report reports that “CNN Reporter Barbara Starr, [was] called on the carpet by military  spouses. Longtime CNN Pentagon  correspondent Barbara Starr spoke on camera last Thursday about the impact a  Syria operation would have on the military. Here’s what Starr said: “Well, I think there’s no question that they can. And I don’t think it’s  really going to affect military families at all. This is going to be, if it is  ordered, a cruise missile strike, no U.S. troops on the ground, Navy ships out  in the eastern Mediterranean that would be on deployment anyhow. So the  capability is there. The money is there. Because what we’re talking about is  something that will last, we are told, just potentially a couple of days.”

ImageIt was a fair point in terms of explaining to the American public that  such an operation isn’t envisioned (for now, at least) to require any boots on  the ground. And Starr was well within her purview to say as much – the American  public, clearly wary of military intervention anywhere, should understand that  the operation under discussion does not literally mean sending troops into  Syria. But all that didn’t sit so well with a couple of military spouses, Rebekah Sanderlin and Molly Blake, who wrote an “open  letter to CNN Reporter Barbara Starr,” on HuffPo. It reads, in part: “Dear Ms. Starr, We are writing to let you in on a secret. It’s a big one — so get to  a fresh page in your reporter notebook and have your pen poised and ready… Here’s some inside information for you: There is no such thing as a  person-less war. Our military cannot afford for Americans to forget that wars  and battles and military strikes are fought by troops, that troops are people,  and that those people have families.”

Their beef: “In our military communities this summer we couldn’t even afford to  pay federal employees for a five-day work week. Military families can’t get  doctors’ appointments and can’t get the counseling services needed to grapple  with the problems we already have, problems largely created by almost 12 years  of war. And while Congress was busy sending a warning letter to the president  to ensure they get to sign off on whether or not we go to war, they managed to  ignore military families when the sequester hit. Today clinic hours are being  slashed — along with pretty much every other service military families need. Walking  around our communities lately, it doesn’t look like we can afford much of  anything — and certainly not a whole new war. And that’s just taking ‘afford’  literally. Figuratively, the picture is even grimmer…”

The two spouses then explain the cost of “an entire generation of  military kids” who have grown up with a parent they know “primarily through  Skype,” and the impact on couples “trying to piece together marriages”  fractured by years spent apart. Sanderlin and Blake: “We grew  hopeful that better days were coming as we watched the end of the Iraq war, and  we’re thrilled that the end of our involvement in Afghanistan is nigh, and yet  now all of cable news is breathless and giddy with talk of war in Syria.” They  continue: You see, Barbara,  there’s no such thing as ‘no boots on the ground.’ We in the military community  sigh and shake our heads when we hear talk like that from the people on TV.  Perhaps you consider a relatively small number of troops to be the same as zero  — but we don’t. We know that each of those service members is somebody’s  somebody.

Rebekah Sanderlin and Molly Blake go on to say that: ” Even the “unmanned” drones have human pilots, and the psychological wear and tear on them is staggering. Planes take off from airfields in foreign lands or from aircraft carriers, both of which are staffed by thousands of American somebodies, just like those destroyer ships. At every turn in a military operation you will find people. Intel analysts, linguists, flight crews, and cooks. Even war plans, regardless of whether they were, as you stated, “on deployment anyway” rely on thousands of people who will be pulled to a new duty, which causes reshuffling far and wide in the military community.”

Read their whole letter here.

Who is Domagoj Margetic? Celebrating Independent Journalism in Croatia.

4 04 2013


Many are wondering as to who is Domagoj Margetic. Clicking on his Wikipedia page in Croatia does not help. Wikipedia page has been bugged, and every effort to change the wording on the page has failed.

Domagoj Margetic is a Croatian investigative journalist with a long list of references presented below currently fighting for the protection under law for whistleblowers in Croatia. Domagoj is striking with hunger for 25th day, in hopes that the President of Crotatia Ivo Josipovic will push through the law. It would be a nice thing of the President to do, considering that Croatia is slated to become part of the European Union in July 2013. The President promised to do this exactly one year ago in 2012. Nothing has been done, to date. And why not hold him accountable?

Domagoj Margetic’s biography is hereby enclosed. Support investigative journalism on change.org by petitioning for his cause.

From 2012 to 2013, with whistleblowers, Domagoj Margetic participated in the initiative to pass the legislation related to whistleblower protection in Croatia. The initiative was supported and accepted by the President Ivo Josipovic, at a meeting held on March 20, 2012.

From 2011 to 2013, Domagoj Margetic has been an independent, freelance columnist of regional business portal SEEbiz.eu

In 2012, Domagoj Margetic researched and published the papers on the Hypo Group affair in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In 2012, Domagoj Margetic wrote about the corruption and crime in the Croatian Post.

From 2010 through 2012, Domagoj Margetic wrote about crime and corruption in the Customs Administration of the Ministry of Finance, Customs and published a feuilleton about the Mafia, which is why he was awarded a prize for fighting corruption by the Independent Union of Customs of Croatia.

Support investigative journalism on change.org by petitioning for Domagoj Margetic’s cause.

From 2006 through 2012, Margetic was a founder and a chief of investigative journalism portal Necenzurirano.com, which, according to Google’s report in 2009, was widely read among the portals in the category of political news web-sites. The research related to Hypo scandal and former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader in 2009 year was the most widely read text on the Internet in Croatia.

In 2011, Domagoj Margetic published a study on the murder of Ivo Pukanic in the book “The Case Pukanic: Murder with a Signature of the State.”

In 2011 Margetic published a book of poems called “I Forgive Heaven your Smile.”

In 2011 Domagoj Margetic was the author of the analysis “Kosovo and the new Balkan Criminal Order.”

In 2010, Margetic researched and published papers on illegal privatization of the tobacco industry in Croatia, Zagreb Tobacco Factory and creation of semi-mafia tobacco monopoly in the Balkans.

In 2010. Margetic researched and wrote a feuilleton about the murder of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.

In 2010, as an investigative journalist who was engaged in anti-corruption issues and topics of organized crime, Domagoj Margetic was appointed a member of the project team administrator of Database on Persons Connected with Terrorism and Organized crime TOC Data Base, a project run by two faculties of the University of Belgrade.

In 2010, Margetic published documents on the misappropriation of money in the Croatian Highways (HAC) for building highways in Croatia. The State Attorney’s Office heard the case on corruption.

In 2010 Domagoj Margetic revealed the location of the multi-year hiding of convicted war criminal Miljenko Bajic, who was ultimately arrested and detained for a custodial sentence for war crimes against Serbian prisoners in Lora, Split.

Support investigative journalism on change.org by petitioning for Domagoj Margetic’s cause.

From 2009 through 2011 Margetic published a study on corruption, conflict of interest and links to organized crime of Tomislav Karamarko, the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of Croatia.

In 2009, Margetic published in full the Hypo secret file of money laundering through the Hypo Alpe Adria Group.

In 2009, Domagoj Margetic revealed documents which prove the conflict of interest by the Minister of Justice at that time.

In 2008, Domagoj Margetic published documents on the connection between Prime Minister Ivo Sanader with the Hypo affair, which the State Attorney’s Office took over from Margetic in April, 2008. Resultantly, the former prime-minister Ivo Sanader was suspected, accused and convicted for corruption and war profiteering.

From 2008 through 2012, Margetic closely co-operated with Verica Barac, renowned fighter against corruption in Serbia, the longtime president of the Council for the Fight Against Corruption of the Government of Serbia.

Support investigative journalism on change.org by petitioning for Domagoj Margetic’s cause.

From 2004 through 2008, Margetic had been publishing articles, studies and documents about the secret accounts of the Ministry of Finance, through which the money from the State Budget was being drawn.

In 2008, Margetic authored the book “The Banking Mafia” about laundering of money through domestic and foreign banks, previously looted from the Croatian state budget or state-owned enterprises.

In 2008, Domagoj Margetic published a study on the tobacco mafia in Croatia, on the international cigarette smuggling that is connected to Rovinj Tobacco Factory and Adris Group, and at that time a number of documents were published on the topic.

In 2008, Margetic wrote about the case NAMA, transformation- privatization crime in this company and the way the people in that company associated with the government pulled multimillion amounts to private accounts.

In 2008, Domagoj Margetic released documents on international smuggling of nuclear materials through Croatia in the 1990s.

In 2008, Margetic participated in a regional initiative of experts from Serbia, BIH and Croatia in the establishment of the Expert Team of Southeast Europe to combat terrorism and organized crime.

In 2008, Margetic discovered and published secret documents about the secret war affairs of Croatian president Franjo Tudjman and Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic.

In 2007, Domagoj Margetic published documents about the war crimes of the Croatian police against Serbian civilians in Sisak in years 1991 and 1992, about which Margetic testified at the Prosecutor’s Office for War Crimes in Belgrade.

In 2007, Margetic published a study on the secret documents of the Croatian National Bank on the recovery of banks in Croatia, and published secret information on how much the state invested in recovery of the banks from the National budget and compared this data with the data on the amount for which the bank later sold to the new owners.

In 2007, Margetic released a video testimony of the participants of the international cocaine smuggling Croatia and an insider testimony that the General Ivan Cermak smuggled 20 kg of cocaine through Croatia.

In 2007, Margetic published a study on the secret documents of the Croatian National Bank related to the privatization of banks in Croatia.

Support investigative journalism on change.org by petitioning for Domagoj Margetic’s cause.

In 2006, Domagoj Margetic was the author of the book of poems “Exposing.”

In 2006, Domagoj Margetic was the author of the study, “Transition Fraud.”

In 2006, Domagoj Margetic wrote “Journalism Between Crime, Corruption, Prostitution and Media.”

In 2005, Margetic’s books “Who Robbed Croatia” and “The Unauthorized Biography of the Second Croatian President.” The two books were included in the official list of references Berkeley University, East European Department, with titles from Eastern Europe and on Eastern Europe.

In 2004, Domagoj Margetic wrote “The Unauthorized Biography of the Second Croatian president.”

In 2004, Margetic exposed the secret documents of the national oil industry, INA’s, on international smuggling of Iraqi, Syrian and Libyan oil through the INA, with which a part of the state leaders in Croatia were connected.

In 2004, Domagoj Margetic started researching the crime in the transformation and privatization of the largest banks in Croatia Zagreb Bank (Zagrebačka banka, ZABA), Zagreb.

In 2003, Margetic published in its entirety, “Dajmanović’s petition”, the document on crime and corruption in the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Croatia.

In 2003, Margetic published a full secret file Villach, the secret bank accounts of the Government in the Austrian Erste Bank in Villach and documents about how the senior officials of the Croatian Democratic Party HDZ drew funds from those secret accounts to private accounts abroad.

In 2003 Margetic published a secret file of the Government on demise of the Istrian Bank and drawing of the money through the bank.

From 2001 through 2003 Margetic had been researching corruption and criminal in the Government, and in 2003, and as a result of research, his book “Who Robbed Croatia?” was published.

In 2001, Margetic revealed the Hypo secret file of Ministry of Finance, the secret documents from the investigation of the Exchange Inspectorate of the Ministry of Finance on crime and money laundering in the Hypo Group.

Support investigative journalism on change.org by petitioning for Domagoj Margetic’s cause.

In 2000, Margetic wrote about banking crime in Croatia and the money draw through secret accounts from Croatian banks, and exposed the secret documents on privatization of the Zagreb Bank (Zagrebačka banka ZABA), the Commercial Bank Zagreb (Privredna banka Zagreb), the Dubrovnik Bank (Dubrovačka banka), the Istrian Bank (Istarska Banka) and the Dalmatian Bank (Dalmatinska Banka).

In 1999 Domagoj Margetic started researching the Hypo affair.

In 1997, Domagoj Margetic wrote an open letter to the Croatian president Franjo Tudjman on corruption and organized crime in Tudjman’s Government, and in this letter he revealed corruption in Croatian Electrics (Hrvatska Elektroprivreda), and a way of enriching of the prime minister on behalf of the Croatian Democratic Party (HDZ), which were appointed by Franjo Tudjman, through the extraction of money from the national budget and unlawful acquisition of shares by state-owned enterprises in the transformation and privatization.

Domagoj Margetic wrote about the corruption and crime in the transformation and privatization in Croatia from 1997 to 2000.

Support investigative journalism on change.org by petitioning for Domagoj Margetic’s cause.

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