The Warmakers – By The Saker

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[This analysis was written for the Unz Review]

Between the US strikes on Syria in April and the recent developments on the Korean Peninsula, we are in somewhat of a lull in the Empire’s search for a new war to start. The always helpful Israelis, in the person of the ineffable Bibi Netanyahu, are now beating the drums for, well, if not a war, then at least some kind of false flag or pretext to make the USA strike at Iran. And then there is the always bleeding Donbass (which I won’t address in today’s analysis). So let’s see where we stand and try to guesstimate where we might be heading. To be honest, trying to guess what ignorant warmongering psychopaths might do next is by definition a futile exercise, but since there are some not negligible signs that there are at least a few rational people still left in the US White House and/or Pentagon (as shown by the mostly “pretend strikes” on Syria last month), we can assume (hope) that some residual degree of sanity is still present. At the very least Americans in uniform have to ask themselves a very basic and yet fundamental question:

Do I want to die for Israel? Do I want to lose my job for Israel? How about my pension? Maybe just my stock options? Is it worth risking a major regional war for such a “wonderful” state?

A lot depends on whether the US military leaders (and people!) will have the courage to ask themselves this question and, if they do, what their reply will be.

But, first, let’s begin with the good news:

The DPRK and ROK are in direct talks with each other.

This is indeed a truly great development for at least two reasons. First, of course, the main and objective one: anything which lowers the risks of war on the Korean Peninsula is good. But there is a second reason which we should not discount: Trump can now take all the credit for this and claim that his (empty) threats are what brought the North Koreans to the negotiating table. I say – let him. In fact, I hope that they organize a parade for Trump somewhere in the USA, with confetti and millions of flags. Like for an astronaut. Let him feel triumphant, vindicated and very, very manly. MAGA, you know?!

Yeah, that will be sickening to the thinking (not to mention counter-factual), but if a little bit of intellectual nausea is the price to pay for peace, I say let’s do it. If Trump, Bolton, Haley and the rest of them can feel that they “kicked ass” and that their “invincible military” is what brought “Rocket Man” to “give up his nukes” (he never said any such thing, but never mind that) then I sincerely wish them a joyful and highly ego-pleasing celebration. Anything to stop them from looking for another war to start, at least for a now.

Now the bad news.

The Israelis are at it again

Amazing, isn’t it? The Israelis have been whining about “imminent” Iranian nukes for years, and they are still at it. Not only that, but these guys have the nerve to say “Iran lied”. Seriously, even by the already unique Israeli standards, that is chutzpah elevated to a truly stratospheric level. If it were just Bibi Netanyahu, then this would be comical. But the problem is that Israel has now fully subjugated all the branches of the US government to its agents (the Neocons) and that they now run everything: from the two branches of the Uniparty to Congress, to the media and, now that Trump has abjectly caved in to all their demands, they also run the White House. They apparently also run the CIA, but there still might be some resistance to their lunacy in the Pentagon. The USA is now quite literally run by a Zionist Occupation Government, no doubt about it whatsoever.

So what are these guys really up to? Listen to the one man who knows them best, and whose every single word you can take to the bank, Hezbollah General Secretary Nasrallah (ever wondered why Hezbollah, which has not committed anything even remotely looking like a terrorist attack since the 1980s is called the “A-Team of terrorists”? Just saying…):

The first event is the Israeli blatant and manifest aggression against the T-4 base or airport on the outskirts of Homs, that targeted Iranian forces from the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution of Iran who were present there, hitting them with a large number of missiles, causing 7 martyrs among its officers and soldiers and wounding others. This was a new, significant and important event. Maybe some people do not pay attention to its importance and magnitude. In this operation, Israel has deliberately killed (Iranian soldiers). This is an unprecedented event. In the past, Israel has struck us [Hezbollah] for example in Quneitra, and it turned out that coincidentally Guardians [of the Islamic Revolution] officers were with us. Israel declared hastily that they did not know it, and thought that all (targeted soldiers) were Hezbollah’s. This is an event that has no precedent since 7 years, it is unprecedented since 7 years, that Israel openly targets the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution in Syria, killing deliberately, in an operation that caused a number of martyrs and wounded (…) I want to tell the Israelis that they must know – I wrote that statement accurately and I read it to them – they must know that they have committed a historic mistake. This is not a simple blunder. They committed an act of great stupidity, and by this aggression, they entered in a direct confrontation with Iran, the Islamic Republic of Iran. And Iran, O Zionists, is not a small country, it is not a weak country, and it is not a cowardly country. And you know it very well. As a comment on this incident, I stress that it constitutes a turning point in the situation of the region. What follows will be very different from what preceded it. This is an incident that cannot be considered lightly, contrary to what happens with many incidents here. It is a turning point, a historic turning point. And when the Israelis committed this stupid act, they had some assessment (of the situation), but I tell them that their evaluation is false. And even in the future, since you have opened a new path in the confrontation, (you should ensure) not to be wrong in your evaluations. In this new path you opened and initiated, don’t be wrong in your assessment, when you are face to face, and directly (in conflict) with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

I can only agree with this evaluation. As does The Jerusalem Post, NBC News, and many others. Regardless of how crazy this notion might sound to rational people (see below), there are all the signs that the Israelis are now demanding that the USA start a war against Iran, either by choice or more likely, to “stand by our Israeli allies and friends” after they attack Iran first.

Israel is truly a unique and amazing country: not only does it openly and brazenly completely ignore international law, not only is it the last overtly racist country on the planet, not only has it been perpetuating a slow-motion genocide against the Palestinians for decades, it also constantly uses its considerable propaganda resources to advocate for war. And in order to achieve these goals, it does not mind allying itself with a regime almost as despicable and evil as the Zionist one – I am talking about the Wahabi nutcases in the KSA. And all that under the high patronage of the United States. Some “Axis of Kindness” indeed!

What is their plan? Actually, it is fairly straightforward.

The Israeli plan “A” (failed)

Initially, the plan was to overthrow all the secular (Baathist) regimes in power and replace them by religious nutcases. That would not only weaken the countries infected by that spiritual rot, it would set them backwards for many decades, some of them would break up into smaller entities, Arabs and Muslims would kill each other in large numbers while the Israelis would proudly claim that they are a “western country” and the “only democracy in the Middle-East”. Even better, when the Daesh/ISIS/al-Qaeda/etc types commit atrocities on an industrial scale (and always on camera, professionally filmed, by the way), the slow-motion genocide of Palestinians would really be completely forgotten. If anything, Israeli would declare itself threatened by “Islamic extremism” and, well, extend a couple of “security zones” beyond its borders (legal or otherwise), and do regular bombing runs “because Arabs only understand force” (which would get the Israelis a standing ovation from the “Christian” Zionist rednecks in the USA who love the killing of any Aye-rabs and other “sand niggers”). At the end of all this, the Zionist wet dream: unleashing the Daesh forces against Hezbollah (which they fear and hate since the humiliating defeat the IDF suffered in 2006).

Now I will readily agree that this is a stupid plan. But contrary to the propaganda-induced myth, the Israelis are really not very bright. Pushy, arrogant, nasty, driven – yes. But smart? Not really. How could they not realize that overthrowing Saddam Hussein would result in Iran becoming the main player in Iraq? This is a testimony of how the Israelis always go for “quick-fix” short-term “solutions”, probably blinded by their arrogance and sense of racial superiority. Or how about their invasion of Lebanon in 2006? What in the world did they think they would achieve there? And now these folks are taking on not Hezbollah, but Iran. Hassan Nasrallah is absolutely correct, that is a truly stupid decision. But, of course, the Israelis now have a “plan B”:

The Israeli plan “B”

Step one, use your propaganda machine and infiltrated agents to re-start the myth about an Iranian military nuclear program. And never mind that the so-called “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” was agreed upon by all five of the UNSC Permanent Members, and Germany (P5+1) and even the European Union! And never mind that this plan places restrictions on Iran which no other country has ever had to ever face, especially considering that since 1970 Iran has been a member in good standing with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) while Israel, of course, is not. But the Zionists and their Neocon groupies are, of course, quite exceptional people, so they are constrained by neither facts nor logic. If Trump says that the JCPOA is a terrible deal, then this is so. Hey, we are living in the “post-Skripal” and “post-Douma” era – if some Anglo (or Jewish) leaders say “highly likely” then it behooves everybody to show instant “solidarity” lest they are accused of “anti-Semitism” or “fringe conspiracy theories” (you know the drill). So step one is the re-ignition ex nihilo of the Iranian military nuclear program canard.

Step two is to declare that Israel is “existentially threatened” and therefore has the right to “defend itself”. But there is a problem here: the IDF simply does not have the military means to defeat the Iranians. They can strike them, hit a couple of targets, yes, but then when the Iranians (and Hezbollah) unleash a rain of missiles on Israel (and probably the KSA) the Israelis will not have the means to respond. They know that, but they also know that the Iranian counter-attack will give them the perfect pretext to scream “oy vey!! oy, gevalt!!” and let the dumb Americans fight the Iranians.

You might object that the USA does not have a mutual defense treaty with Israel. You are wrong. It does, it is called AIPAC. Besides, last year the USA established a permanent US military base in Israel, making it a “tripwire”: just claim that “the Ayatollahs” tried to attack the US base with “chemical weapons” and, bingo, you now have a pretext to use all your military forces in retaliation, including, by the way, your tactical nuclear forces to “disarm” the “genocidal Iranians who want to wipe Israel off the map” or some variation of this nonsense.

You might wonder what the point of all that would be if Iran does, as I say, not have any military nuclear program?

5My answer would be simple: do you really think the Syrians have been using chemical weapons?!

Of course not!

All this nonsense about Saddam’s WMD, the Iranian nuclear program, the Syrian chemical weapons or, for that matter, Gaddafi’s “Viagra armed raping soldiers”, and before that the “Racak massacre” in Kosovo or the various “Markale market” atrocities in Sarajevo for that matter: these were just pretexts for aggression, nothing more.

In Iran’s case, what the Israelis fear is not that they will be “wiped off the map” (that is a mistranslation of words originally spoken by Ayatollah Khomeini) by Iranian nukes; what really freaks them out is to have a large, successful Muslim regional power like Iran openly daring to denounce Israel as an illegitimate, racist state. The Iranians are also openly denouncing the US imperialism and they are even denouncing the Wahabi dictatorship of the House of Saud. That is Iran’s real “sin”: to dare defy openly the AngloZionist Empire and be so successful at it!

So what the Israelis really want to do is:

  1. inflict a maximum amount of economic damage upon Iran
  2. punish the Iranian population for daring to support the “wrong” leaders
  3. overthrow the Islamic Republic (do to it what they did to Serbia)
  4. make an example to dissuade any other country who dares to follow in Iran’s footsteps
  5. prove the omnipotence of the AngloZionist Empire’s

To reach this objective, there is no need to invade Iran: a sustained cruise missile and bombing campaign will do the job (again, like in Serbia). Finally, we just have to assume that the Zionists are evil, arrogant and crazy enough to use nuclear weapons on some Iranian facilities (which they will, of course, designate as “secret military nuclear research” installations).

The Israelis hope that by making the USA hit Iran really hard, they will weaken the country enough to also weaken Hezbollah and the other allies of Iran in the region sufficiently and break the so-called “Shia crescent”.

In their own way, the Israelis are not wrong when they say that Iran is an existential threat to Israel. They are just lying about the nature of this threat and why it is dangerous for them.

Consider this:

IF the Islamic Republic is allowed to develop and prosper and IF the Islamic Republic refuses to be terrified by the IDF’s undisputed ability to massacre civilians and destroy public infrastructure, then the Islamic Republic will become an attractive alternative to the kind of repugnant Islam embodied by the House of Saud which, in turn, is the prime sponsor of all the collaborator regimes in the Middle-East from the Hariri types in Lebanon to the Palestinian Authority itself. The Israelis like their Arabs fat and corrupt to the bone, not principled and courageous. That is why Iran must, absolutely must, be hit: because Iran by its very existence threatens the linchpin upon which the survival of the Zionist entity depends: the total corruption of the Arab and Muslim leaders worldwide.

Risks with Israel’s plan “B”

Think of 2006. The Israelis had total air supremacy over Lebanon – the skies were simply uncontested. The Israelis also controlled the seas (at least until Hezbollah almost sank their Sa’ar 5-class corvette). The Israelis pounded Lebanon with everything they had, from bombs to artillery strikes, to missiles. They also engaged their very best forces, including their putatively ‘”invincible” “Golani Brigade”. And that for 33 days. And they achieved exactly *nothing*. They could not even control the town of Bint Jbeil right across the Israeli border. And now comes the best part: Hezbollah kept its most capable forces north of the Litany river so the small Hezbollah force (no more than 1000 man) was composed of local militias supported by a much smaller number of professional cadre. That a 30:1 advantage in manpower for the Israelis. But the “invincible Tsahal” got it’s collective butt kicked like few have ever been kicked in history. This is why, in the Arab world, this war is since known as the “Divine Victory”.

As for Hezbollah, it continued to rain down rockets on Israel and destroy indestructible Merkava tanks right up to the last day.

There are various reports discussing the reasons for the abject failure of the IDF (see here or here), but the simple reality is this: to win a war you need capable boots on the ground, especially against an adversary who has learned how to operate without air-cover or superior firepower. Should Israel manipulate the USA into attacking Iran, the exact same thing will happen: CENTCOM will establish air superiority and have an overwhelming firepower advantage over the Iranians, but other than destroying a lot of infrastructure and murdering scores of civilians, this will achieve absolutely nothing. Furthermore, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is no Milosevic, he will not simply surrender in the hope that Uncle Sam will allow him to stay in power. The Iranians will fight, and fight, and continue to fight for weeks, and months and then possibly years. And, unlike the “Axis of Kindness” forces, the Iranians do have credible and capable “boots on the ground”, and not only in Iran, but also in Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan. And they have the missiles to reach a very large number of US military facilities across the region. And they can also not only shut down the Strait of Hormuz (which the USN would eventually be able to re-open, but only at a cost of a huge military operation on the Iranian coast), they can also strike at Saudi Arabia proper and, of course, at Israel. In fact, the Iranian have both the manpower and know-how to declare “open season” on any and all US forces in the Middle-East, and there are plenty of them, mostly very poorly defended (that imperial sense of impunity “they would not dare”).

The Iran-Iraq war lasted for eight years (1980-1988). It cost the Iranians hundreds of thousands of lives (if not more). The Iraqis had the full support of the USA, the Soviet Union, France and pretty much everybody else. As for the Iranian military, it had just suffered from a traumatic revolution. The official history (meaning Wikipedia) calls the outcome a “stalemate”. Considering the odds and the circumstances, I call it a magnificent Iranian victory and a total defeat for those who wanted to overthrow the Islamic Republic (something which decades of harsh sanctions also failed to achieve, by the way).

Is there any reason at all to believe that this time around, when Iran has had almost 40 years to prepare for a full-scale AngloZionist attack the Iranians will fight less fiercely or less competently? We could also look at the actual record of the US armed forces (see Paul Craig Roberts’ superb summary here) and ask: do you think that the USA, lead by the likes of Trump, Bolton or Nikki Haley will have the staying power to fight the Iranians to exhaustion (since a land invasion of Iran is out of the question)? Or this: what will happen to the world economy if the entire Middle-East blows up into a major regional war?

Now comes the scary part: both the Israelis and the Neocons always, always, double-down. The notion of cutting their losses and stopping what is a self-evidently mistaken policy is simply beyond them. Their arrogance simply cannot survive even the appearance of having made a mistake (remember how both Dubya and Olmert declared that they had won against Hezbollah in 2006?). As soon as Trump and Netanyahu realize that they did something really fantastically stupid and as soon as they run out of their usual options (missile and airstrikes first, then terrorizing the civilian population) they will have a stark and simple choice: admit defeat or use nukes.

Which one do you think they will choose?

Exactly.

Going nuclear?

Here is the paradox: in purely military terms, using nukes on Iran will serve no pragmatic purpose. Nuclear weapons can be used in one of two ways: against military assets (“counterforce”) or against civilians (“countervalue”). The point is that by the time the Neocons and their Israeli patrons come to the point of considering using tactical nuclear forces against the Iranians, there won’t be a good target to hit. Iranian forces will be dispersed and mostly in contact with allied (or even US forces) and nuking an Iranian battalion or even a division won’t fundamentally alter the military equation. As for nuking Iranian cities just out of savagery, this will only serve one purpose: to truly get Israel wiped off the map of the Middle-East. I would not put it past the Neocons and their Israeli bosses to try to use a tactical nuclear weapon to destroy some Iranian civilian nuclear facility or some underground bunker with the very mistaken hope that such a show of force and determination will force the Iranians to submit to the AngloZionist Empire. In reality, this will only infuriate the Iranians and strengthen their resolve.

As for the currently “macronesque” Europeans, they will, of course, first show “solidarity” on the basis of “highly likely”, especially Poland, the Ukies and the Baltic statelets, but if nuclear weapons start going off in the Middle-East, then the European public opinion will explode, especially in Mediterranean countries, and this might just trigger yet another major crisis. Israel wouldn’t give a damn (or, as always, blame it all on some totally mysterious resurgence of anti-Semitism), but the USA most definitely does not want the Anglo grip on the continent compromised by such events.

Maybe a Korean scenario?

Is there a chance that all the huffing and puffing will result in some kind of peaceful resolution as what seems to be in the works in Korea? Alas, probably not.

A few months ago it sure looked like the USA might do something irreparably stupid in Korea (see here and here) but then something most unexpected happened: the South Koreans, fully realizing the inanity of Trump’s reckless threats, took the situation in their own hands and began making overtures to the North. Plus all the rest of the regional neighbors emphatically and clearly told Trump & Co. that the consequences of a US attack on the DPRK would be apocalyptic for the entire region. Alas, there are two fundamental differences between the Korean Peninsula and the Middle-East:

  1. On the Korean Peninsula, the local US ally (the ROK) does not want war. In the Middle-East it is the local US ally (Israel) which pushes the hardest for a war.
  2. In Far-East Asia all the regional neighbors were and are categorically opposed to war. In the Middle-East most regional neighbors are sold out to the Saudis who also want the US to attack Iran.

So while the risks and consequences of a conflagration are similar between the two regions, the local geopolitical dynamics are completely different?

What about Russia in all this?

Russia will never *choose* to go to war with the USA. But Russia also understands that Iran’s security and safety is absolutely crucial to her own security, especially along her southern borders. Right now there is a fragile equilibrium of sorts between the (also very powerful) Zionist lobby in Russia and the national/patriotic elements. In truth, the recent Israeli attacks in Syria have given more power to the anti-Zionist elements in Russia, hence all the talk about (finally!) delivering the S-300s to Syria. Well, we will see if/when that happens. My best guesstimate is that it might already have happened and that this is simply kept quiet to restrain both the Americans and the Israelis who have no way of knowing what equipment the Russians have already delivered, where it is located or, for that matter, who (Russians or Syrians) actually operate it. This kind of ambiguity is useful to placate the pro-Zionist forces in Russia and to complicate AngloZionist planning. But maybe this is my wishful thinking, and maybe the Russians have not delivered the S-300s yet or, if they have, maybe these are the (not very useful) S-300P early models (as opposed to the S-300PMU-2 which would present a huge risk to the Israelis).

The relationship between Russia and Israel is a very complex one (see here and here), but if Iran is attacked I fully expect the Russians, especially the military, to back Iran and provide military assistance short of overtly engaging US/Israeli/NATO/CENTCOM forces. If the Russians are directly attacked in Syria (and in the context of a wider war, they very well might be), then Russia will counter-attack regardless of who the attacker is, the USA or Israel or anybody else: the Zionist lobby in Russia does not have the power to impose a “Liberty-like event” on the Russian public opinion).

Conclusion: Accursed are the warmakers, for they shall be called the children of Satan

The Israelis can eat falafels, create “Israeli kufiyeh” and fancy themselves as “orientals”, but the reality is that the creation of the state of Israel is a curse on the entire Middle-East to which has only brought untold suffering, brutality, corruption and wars, wars and more wars. And they are still at it – doing all they can to trigger a large regional war in which many tens or even hundreds of thousands of innocent people will die. The people of the USA have now allowed a dangerous cabal of psychopathic Neocons to fully take control of their country and now those, who Papa Bush used to call the “crazies in the basement” have their finger on the nuclear button. So now it all boils down to the questions I opened this article with:

Dear US Americans – do you want to die for Israel? Do you want to lose your job for Israel? How about your pension? Maybe just your stock options? Because make no mistake, the US Empire will not survive a full-scale war against Iran. Why? Because all Iran needs to do to “win” is not to lose, i.e. to survive. Even bombed out and scorched by conventional or nuclear strikes, if Iran comes out of this war still as an Islamic Republic (and that is not something bombs or missiles will change) then Iran will have won. In contrast, for the Empire, the failure to bring Iran to its knees will mean the end of its status as the world Hegemon defeated not by a nuclear superpower, but by a regional conventional power. After that, it will just be a matter of time before the inevitable domino effect breaks up the entire Empire (check out John Michael Greer’s excellent book “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” for a very plausible account on how that could happen)

Okay, unlike Russia, Iran cannot nuke the USA or, for that matter, even reach it with conventional weapons (I don’t even think that the Iranians will successfully attack a US carrier as some pro-Iranian analysts say). But the political and economic consequences of a full-scale war in the Middle-East will be felt throughout the United States: right now the only thing “backing” the US dollar, so to speak, are USN aircraft carriers and their ability to blow to smithereens any country daring to disobey Uncle Sam. The fact that these carriers are (and, truly, have been for a long while) useless against the USSR and Russia is bad enough, but if it becomes known urbi et orbi that they are also useless against a conventional regional power like Iran, then that’s it, show over. The dollar will turn into monopoly money in a very short span of time.

Wars often have “Nietzschean consequences”: countries which wars don’t destroy often come out even stronger than before they were attacked, even if it is at a horrendous price. Both the Israelis and the Neocons are too dialectically illiterate to realize that by their actions they are just creating increasingly more powerful enemies. The old Anglo guard which ran the USA since its foundation was probably wiser, possibly because it was better educated and more aware of the painful lessons learned by the British (and other) Empire(s).

Frankly, I hope that the ruling 1%ers running the USA today (well, they are really much less than 1%, but never mind that) will care about their wealth and money more than they care about appeasing the Neocons and that the bad old Anglo imperialists who built this country will have enough greed in themselves to tell the Neocons and their Israeli patrons to get lost. But with the Neocons controlling both wings of the Uniparty and the media, I am not very hopeful.

Still, there is a chance that, like in Korea, somebody somewhere will say or do the right thing, and that awed by the potential magnitude of what they are about to trigger, enough people in the US military will follow the example of Admiral William Fallon and CENTCOM commander at the time who told the President “an attack on Iran will not happen on my watch”. I believe for his principled courage, the words of Christ “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matt 5:9) can be applied to Admiral Fallon and I hope that his example will inspire others.

The Saker

Military and non-military escalation into nuclear war. – by R.Lesnoix for The Saker blog

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by R.Lesnoix for The Saker blog

Recent events have put the prospect of nuclear war back into the limelight. We believed we had left this behind when the cold war ended. We were wrong. Not only is it back, it is back with a vengeance. We now face the real possibility of non-military confrontations escalating into all-out nuclear war. This worries me as it seems that the thresholds for these are both lower and more obfuscated. What’s worse is that at least some of the people who may trigger this appear to be both ignorant of these risks and have a less than desirable level of competence.

Nuclear war was typically associated with one of two scenario’s: either a gradual escalation of conventional warfare into (total) nuclear war or an all-out first strike. A first strike could be launched in the hope (or expectation) of destroying enough of the enemies nuclear firepower to make the counterstrike ‘survivable’ or it could be launched to preempt such a first strike by the enemy. If a side feels that it’s own counterstrike capabilities are vulnerable to a first strike, the chance of them launching a preemptive strike go up considerably should they feel threatened.

Still, the second scenario typically also involves an initial conventional military engagement. This would likely be a relatively small scale confrontation. Instead of the gradual escalation of the first scenario in this case one side skips the intermediate steps and goes straight for the jugular. This can be either the side who considers themselves strong enough to get away with a first strike or the side that feels it’s weaker and needs to use-it-or-lose-it.

The risk of the opponent opting for a first strike scenario is why sane people avoid any military confrontation between nuclear powers, especially between nuclear superpowers. Those with even a modest amount of military expertise or insight realize how easily even a small confrontation can get out of hand. During the Cuba-crisis in the 60’s a US warship dropped depth charges to force a Soviet submarine that was stalking the task-force to the surface, not to actually sink it. The Soviet crew thought otherwise. The commander and the XO wanted to fire their nuclear torpedo’s in response to what they felt was a genuine attack. The political officer wasn’t so sure and refused to consent to a launch. All three had to agree before the weapons could be fired. The world was spared nuclear war by what amounts to a ‘minority report’.

Did something similar happen a few weeks ago? Were there dissenting voices within the US government that managed to ‘de-escalate’ the confrontation into a mutually face-saving ‘non-event’? Maybe we’ll find out some day what exactly happened, maybe we won’t. Some give credit to Mattis and Dunford for being the ‘sane’ ones. If they did intervene I’m not so sure ‘sane’ is the right description for their motivation in doing so. See, you don’t get to their level in the US military without being a ‘political’ general with all the baggage that comes with it.

As you know the level of corruption in the DoD is quite large. But what does that really mean? Most think of current and former generals consulting in some way for big business and steering procurements but not much else. The implications of the corruption go much further. If most or all of the the top echelons are corrupt and expect to continue this as private consultants once they leave the military they’ll need to have successors who will let them. While still on active duty they need to make sure their colleagues and subordinates won’t rat them out either. So it is in their interest to ensure promotions of the corrupt(able) and stall the careers of the more conscientious. The same applies at lower levels of the hierarchy. It’s unavoidable. The armed forces are therefor filled with officers who owe their careers not to their military competencies but to either their corruptibility or to being too stupid to notice.

It goes further. When corruption is so incorporated into an organization it becomes dysfunctional. Which means it still functions, just not how it is supposed to. It will malfunction unexpectedly and unpredictably. And often. It will regularly fail to meet even minimum standards of performance. Severe underperformance will be standard. Trying to ascertain the cause of specific failures will be illusive and ‘fuzzy’. Fixes don’t work and no-one tends to be held accountable. This also applies to the corporations on the other side of the corruption. Their organizations are likely to be dysfunctional too in varying degrees. If you doubt it, how about the development issues of these: the F35, the Zumwalt, the LCS, the FCS, the Ford, etc.? They are not surprising if you understand the deeper effects of widespread systemic corruption on organizations.

Mattis an Dunford made their careers during this period of endemic corruption. What does that tell you about them? At the very least they had to know and look away. The difference between them and many of their colleagues looks to be that they do have enough military competence to see what’s going on and what it means for the ability of the US armed forces to wage war. I believe that they know all too well how the decades of ever growing corruption have turned the US military into a force incapable of confronting a (near) peer without unacceptable, even catastrophic, losses. So even if they would win, it would be a Pyrrhic victory.

So if Mattis and Dunford did intervene, don’t ascribe them the virtues of saints just yet. It’s more likely they wanted a scenario they could sell as a success without publicly exposing just how overrated the US armed force are. In a way they are tightrope walkers. They must ‘sell’ US supremacy to the rest of the world on the one hand and on the other hand they need to contain those in their own government (and behind the screens) who actually believe the propaganda and require from the military things they can’t deliver. The Pentagon can’t exactly go around telling all of those in the margins of power what the true state of affairs is. So they juggle and scheme to keep up appearances. Their job is to maintain the perceptions (and not risk their exposure) that allow the Empire to continue to cow and subdue around the world.

They also need to keep the ‘small’ wars going off course. Those are what justifies the Pentagons insane budgets. Because the higher this budget the more money is available for graft and other sorts of corruption. The US DoD has become in large part a financial scam to transfer public funds (tax dollars) into private pockets. These private pockets include current and former military officers, politicians, lobbyists and of course corporate America. A real war with an opponent that can actually fight back and inflict losses too serious to hide might ruin this very profitable scam. Lots of people in influential positions don’t want this to end. People like Mattis and Dunford make sure it doesn’t.

The US DoD is now a front for embezzlements and fraud on a scale counted in trillions (over the decades). In this regard the ability to wage war is mostly relevant in as far as its perception allows for greater sums of tax-payer money to be transferred to the Pentagon. Real capability comes second. With all the funds that are being bled off there has to be a significant difference between stated capabilities and actual capabilities. The stated capabilities are based on the official budgets while the actual capabilities are based on a much smaller amount (due to corruption) and has to take the dysfunctionality of both the military and its suppliers/contractors into account. It’s the logical conclusion of accepting the notion that they are thoroughly corrupt and have been for decades.

So far they have only been fighting colonial wars against opponents with very limited military capabilities of their own. The discrepancy between perceived and actual US military power is not obvious from those wars (although you can tell some things are off if you look really close). The perceived ‘size’ of the ability to wage war justifies inflated operating costs. So more tax dollars that can be diverted into private pockets. From this perspective it doesn’t really matter if a warship is operational or not. It’s mere existence justifies more budget for upkeep. If it is kept fully operational that means less money spent on graft and corruption and more or maintenance, training and functional upgrades. That’s not how the scam works.

Again it’s tightrope walking for the top brass. They need to project power to cow and subdue abroad but they also need to find justifications for increased spending (not to be confused with budget for existing operating costs). Those two tasks clash. Are you all-powerful already or aren’t you? So they’ve been looking for enemies to scare the domestic audience with fanciful what-if’s into forking over more and more of their hard earned dollars. It worked well for a long time. But not now. Russia is a whole other kettle of fish. Russia pushes back in many ways including military. Which is why people like Mattis and Dunford say one thing domestically but do other things behind the screens like having their underlings coordinate with the Russians in Syria. I believe they have a vested interest in steering away from any (near) peer military confrontation. It risks the scam and their careers.

Don’t get me wrong, there are elements in the US armed forces that are quite good at what they do. Some weapon systems are impressive and among the best in the world. There are plenty of capable soldiers and officers (who are unlikely to advance past the rank of major and are typically found in the field, not in staff positions). And overall they are still quite powerful, possibly even number one although I personally doubt it. It’s just that they’re not nearly as strong as they want us to believe. Nor is it anywhere near the level that the huge sums spent on it would warrant. And while elements might perform well on their own, together they don’t.

So when I say overrated that is exactly what I mean, overrated. It does not equal non-existent or absent even though the term is all too often misinterpreted as such. US military power is much less than is commonly believed it is. In other words, it’s overrated. Maybe it’s me but I’m just not impressed. Sure, they have the numbers, but quality wise? I don’t think so. Add in the lack of proper training, deferred maintenance, effectively untested systems (‘tests’, if conducted at all, are highly scripted and performed under ideal conditions to get desired outcomes) and a continued reliance in peacetime on contractor representatives to keep critical systems running (especially in the Navy) and I can’t help but wonder how bad they really are.

It comes down to this, you cannot have it both ways. Either they are quite corrupt indeed which means they are also significantly overrated as a military force or they are as strong as they claim they are which means they can’t be as corrupt as commonly viewed. Which one do you pick?

The title of this piece talks about ‘escalation into nuclear war’. Let’s apply what I mentioned above to that. I tried to make clear in the first part that the risk of such an escalation due to purely military events, while very real, is also seriously overrated. The US military is a lot more vulnerable than commonly believed. This vulnerability will make it hard, if not impossible, for the Americans to keep a war against (near) peers conventional. Especially given their reliance on the Navy and Air Force for force projection and the current level of anti-ship and anti-air missiles (and EW) available to potential adversaries, catastrophic losses seem unavoidable for the Americans in a conventional peer-to-peer setting. Then what?

People like Mattis know this. They cannot afford a military conflict with a (near) peer because it is highly likely it would lead to a situation where they would either have to use nukes tactically or admit defeat. Defeat would not just mean losing the specific engagement or conflict, it would also jeopardize the scam and publicly expose the Empire as much weaker than perceived. Their ability to cow and subdue would suffer or even disappear. So they actively work to prevent such a scenario by avoiding (near) peer conflicts even if they need to work around the White House to do so. While it could still happen, there are plenty of idiots in Washington after all, I am more worried about the risks of non-military escalation into nuclear war, given those same idiots.

As I mentioned in the second and third paragraph, escalation into nuclear war is commonly associated with military confrontation. The public perception is that such an escalation only becomes an issue if there is some kind of military on military incident first. Unfortunately this perception is false. There are several non-military escalatory roads that can lead to that same destination. It starts with a misconception of what war is, or what acts of war are. These are not limited to military confrontations or acts by armed forces of one country.

Those of you familiar with this blog will know that you can make the case that the US and Russia are already at war. At the moment most of it is informational, a big chunk is economic and a small portion is ‘kinetic’. In addition to these categories you could also include covert operations (including assassinations and sabotage), cyber-warfare and diplomacy as non-military means through which war can be waged. All of these have the potential to escalate dramatically, even into nuclear war. Keep in mind though that these are unlikely to be used on their own but probably in some sort of combination with each other. This can create synergistic effects that may be hard to contain.

Let’s look closer at informational warfare. Words have power. Words can have enormous power. Words can also trap you. When the fake video’s out of Douma were published a tweet from the White House promised retribution. That made it very difficult for the Americans not to attack Syria. Not doing so would now look weak. And in American politics looking weak is a mortal sin. So even though they must have had at least serious doubts about the validity of the claims they went ahead. If they had said, “sorry our bad, we were fooled by the video’s” they would have looked only a little bit foolish. Now that it’s glaringly obvious that the chemical attack was faked they look much worse. And they have to stick to their story now. They can’t go back without major loss of face. They hope it will blow over without too much backlash. Worse, they may feel they need a bigger incident (Iran?) to cover this one.

Words can have unforeseen consequences. In the context of international relations it takes smart and calculating people to know what to say and what not to say and when to say it and when not to say it. It takes even smarter people to know when to take something back in order to prevent greater harm to oneself. Diplomacy is an art. There’s a very good reason why it has been so important throughout history. These days I see those smart and calculating people in Moscow. I don’t see them in Washington. One of the most important diplomatic posts in a country these days is that of permanent representative at the UN. If like me you thought it couldn’t get worse than Samantha Power, now we have Nikki Haley for the US. We’ll get back to her later.

Words can also twist peoples perception of reality, especially when repeated again and again. Take the blind fanaticism of the Hitler Jugend in the end phase of the second world war. They had grown up with the constant indoctrination and didn’t know anything else. They became zealots. An indoctrinated populace can be dangerous to yourself. They can force you into directions you never intended to go. This makes the constant accusations against Russia of interfering in and undermining of US democracy very dangerous. Be very, very wary if the Democrats come back to power in the near future. Just like Trump had to act on his Tweet about Douma, the Democrats will have to act on their vilification of Russia. Given how strained US-Russian relations already are that will come with considerable risk to all of us.

The most dangerous of the non-military means to wage war would in my opinion be cyber-warfare and economic warfare. Cyber-warfare is so dangerous because it is all to easy to attribute attacks to the wrong party. These can be false-flag attacks where the ‘victim’ attacks itself and uses these as justification for their own agenda. It can also be mistakenly attributed to the wrong party. Damaging cyberattacks by non-state actors for example could be blamed on Russia, Iran, China or North Korea. Any retaliation against them would in fact not be retaliatory but the opening salvo against an innocent party. They in turn would see it as an unprovoked attack on them and be justified to respond in kind. Enter a cycle of escalations. With cyber-attacks you could also deliberately try to shift the blame on someone else for exactly this reason. There are numerous ways how this could go very wrong unless handled delicately and wisely.

The biggest risk would have to come from economic warfare though. We rarely mention or even think of economic measures as a form of warfare but we should. If an economic measure by one or more governments leads directly or indirectly to the deaths of many people in another country, let’s say more than a million, would the suffering country be right as considering it an act of war? Off course they would. Well, the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq between 1991 and 2003 are thought to have caused around 1.5 million deaths. Iraq was off course to weak to do something about it. Well Russia isn’t. Do you seriously believe they would not retaliate if they where in Iraq’s shoes?

We also tend to make the mistake to think of these spheres as separate. In our minds economic sanctions don’t justify a military response or cyberattacks but why wouldn’t they? If sanctions threaten the lives of millions? A threat to the nation is a threat to the nation and you hit the enemy back where it hurts. If that means switching to different types of actions why not? When the US cut off Japans supply of oil from the East-Indies in 1941 that constituted an existential threat to the Japanese nation. Their economy and armed forces needed that oil or face ruin. It was a de-facto declaration of war against Japan. I’m pretty sure they felt it was. And that’s all that matters. You may disagree or it may not have been your intention but if the aggrieved party considers it to be an act of war and responds on that basis your disagreement is moot.

We wrongly tend to think of non-military measures against countries as relatively harmless. We certainly consider them to be far below any sort of direct military act on the ladder of escalatory steps. Just look at the history books on who started a given war. We blame the one who fired first, not the ones who cut the economic lifeblood of the other. See where that kind of thinking, that as long as you don’t ‘shoot’ it’s not really war, can get us in a lot of trouble? Type ‘economic genocide’ in your favorite search engine and see what you get. It’s a thing.

Unfortunately it’s not just all theory. Recently Nikki Haley had stated that new sanctions against Russia were to be announced the following Monday. Instead of announcing these new sanctions however the White House stated, through Larry Kudlow, that she had been ‘confused’ and ‘mistaken’. You may recall her public rebuttal that she was ‘not confused’. Talk about someone who can’t read between the lines and who can’t put her ego aside for the greater good. But she was probably right. New sanctions were most likely on the table. But then those plans were cancelled. Given Haley’s response this was likely something serious. So what happened? Why were the new sanctions scrapped?

Maybe it’s a coincidence but between Haley’s announcement and the White House backpedalling something interesting happened. The Russian foreign minister had an interview with the BBC. He said a lot things in that interview. One little quote has received less attention than it deserves:

Question: Do you feel you are in a new Cold War?

Sergey Lavrov: I think it’s worse.

Question: Worse?

Sergey Lavrov: Because during the Cold War there were channels of communication; and there was no obsession with Russophobia which looks like, you know, genocide by sanctions.

Genocide by sanctions. Words uttered by the Russian foreign minister. Someone who is not known for hyperbole or exaggeration. Someone who’s words matter. A lot.

Now let’s get back to Putins Presidential address of March 1st 2018 for another quote:

“I should note that our military doctrine says Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons solely in response to a nuclear attack, or an attack with other weapons of mass destruction against the country or its allies, or an act of aggression against us with the use of conventional weapons that threaten the very existence of the state. This all is very clear and specific.”

Putin mentions ‘an act of aggression against us with the use of conventional weapons that threaten the very existence of the state’. While not conducted with conventional weapons ‘genocide by sanctions’ would certainly qualify as an ‘act of aggression that threatens the very existence of the state’. That puts it awfully close to what the Russians themselves publicly state is a valid reason for responding with nuclear weapons. You could in fact make a case that economic sanctions are a form of ‘conventional weapons’.

It would go too far to state that Russia would likely respond with an nuclear first strike. It is likely though that they would respond with measures unacceptable to the US. These could be economic measures or something else entirely. What if the undersea cables that connect the US internet to the rest of the world would cease to function? Or what if the domestic energy network in the US would suddenly suffer major failures plunging large parts of the country in the dark? There are numerous non-military ways that they could use to try to ‘pull the plug’ on each other. Now if one were to get convinced the other is about to do just that who knows what action they might take? They might skip conventional military operations altogether.

Russia made it clear that they may use nuclear weapons first should the situation warrant it in their opinion. This year the US published its Nuclear Posture Review 2018. Like the Russians, they do not exclude first use. What’s also worrying is that their respective postures leave ambiguity over where they draw the line. This ambiguity may lead either side to seriously miscalculate the others likely response. Given the sort of people in Washington that would need to do the ‘calculating’ would you trust them to get the answer right? Please, let’s not get even close to that point.

The US main stream media is full of politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, accusing Russia of an ‘attack on the USA’ either because of alleged interference in the elections or unproven cyberattacks. While these are mainly for domestic consumption they also call for retaliatory measures such as more and more severe sanctions. Given the power of words and how hard it can be to take back earlier rhetoric that’s scary stuff. I can actually see the idiots in Washington talk themselves into a corner they can’t or won’t get out off and cross that line.

With regards to military escalation into nuclear war we have people like Mattis and Dunford to run interference no matter what their motivation is. When it comes to non-military acts of aggression against Russia (or China, Iran or North Korea) who do we have? Nikki Haley? John Bolton? Mike Pompeo? So yeah, I do worry a bit about getting into a nuclear war through non-military escalation.

R.Lesnoix is a concerned citizen who grew up during the Cold War under the constant fear of nuclear weapons. He is dismayed with the direction the western democracies are going in.

President al-Assad to Russian media and EU-Russian MP: “We are ready to discuss anything…but defending borders is our right…White Helmets are Al-Qaeda” – By Syrian Free Press

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President al-Assad to Russian media:
“We are ready to discuss anything including constitution, defending borders is our right…White Helmets are part of Al-Qaeda, and that’s proven, but they are treated [by Western media] as humanitarian heroes”

(Damascus, 20/3/2017) ~ President Bashar al-Assad said in a statement given to Russian media that we are ready to discuss anything, including the constitution, adding that defending our borders is our right and it is a duty.


VIDEO EXCERPTS IN ENGLISH


FULL VIDEO INTERVIEW IN ARABIC


Following is the full transcript of the statement.

Question 1: Mr. President, are you familiar with the Russian proposal to create a commission on research of a new constitution? What do you think about it?

President Assad: Yesterday, I think, our representative in the United Nations, Mr. Jaafari, announced that we support the Russian initiatives – different initiatives, not only this one – as headlines, and now we are discussing with the Russians the details. The problem is that we went to Astana recently, as you know, the other delegation, the delegation of the militants, didn’t join that meeting, they didn’t go to Astana, and we all believe that this is the negative influence of the Turks. So, how can we start something concrete if you don’t have a partner? So, we said we are ready to discuss anything including the constitution, but we need to see who’s going to be in Geneva, are they going to discuss the same paper or not? But for us, as a government, our position is very clear: that we are ready to discuss it in details, but we support the headline, of course.


Question 2: Mr. President, there are reports that the United States-led coalition are planning to start the operation in Raqqa in the beginning of April. Do you have confirmation on that, and if Raqqa is liberated, will it be under control of Damascus, or are there any other agreements on that? And is the American troops’ presence in Syria legal?

President Assad: Any military operation in Syria without the approval of the Syrian government is illegal, and I said if there’s any troops on the Syrian soil, this is an invasion, whether to liberate al-Raqqa or any other place. This is first. Second, we all know that the coalition has never been serious about fighting ISIS or the terrorists, so we have to think about the real intention of the whole plan, if there’s a plan to liberate al-Raqqa. To liberate it from who? From ISIS? To give it to who? So, their plan is not to fight terrorists, not to help the Syrian government, it’s not for the unity of Syria, it’s not for the sovereignty of Syria, it must be something else not of these factors that I just mentioned, but all that we have till this moment are only information, we don’t have any fact on the ground regarding this.


Question 3: Mr. President, as far as we know, the Syrian Army does its best in fighting with terrorism, you fight with terrorists fine, but war isn’t over, so I wanted to know whether Damascus is going to ask Russian air forces to increase its presence in Syria, and will you ask Russia to start a ground troops operation in Syria?

President Assad: Actually, if you talk about the relation between the Syrian government and the Russian government, it goes back in history for decades, so they know the details of Syria, and after the war they know more details about what’s happening. So, if we want to talk about fighting terrorism, we discussed in details the requirements to support the Syrian Army. For this stage, the Russian support by air raids was enough for the Syrian Army to advance on different fronts, mainly in Aleppo and Palmyra as you know. I’m sure that if the Syrian and the Russian officials and military officials feel that we need more support to defeat the terrorists, they’re going to do it, but till this moment, the level of support is good and effective.


Question 4: Can you evaluate the participation of Russian troops, Russian army, in liberation and demining in Palmyra? And maybe you can tell us about the level of destruction in Palmyra in the last month, and maybe your government has some plan of rebuilding and restore this ancient city.

President Assad: Of course, it’s not only Syrian heritage; it’s international heritage, and I think the whole world should be worried about the destruction of Palmyra. Of course, some of the destruction could be repaired. Now we are evaluating, because you know if the stones turn into rubble, it could be difficult for anyone to restore this heritage, but if you have the stone safe and sound, you can do it. When we liberated Palmyra the first time, President Putin himself, when he spoke to me and congratulated me for the liberation of Palmyra last year, he said Russia was very interested in the restoration of Palmyra. Of course, as you know, ISIS came again to Palmyra, and it was liberated again, but now there’s more destruction, so we have to re-evaluate Palmyra again to see what we can do, but I think it’s not only about Syria and Russia; it’s about the UNESCO, it’s about the other institutions, and it’s about other countries that they always claim that they are worried about the human heritage and human culture and so on.

Journalist: And the participation of the Russian army in the liberation, can you evaluate it?

President Assad: Usually we don’t speak about military issues, but there was important support on the ground, but I don’t have to tell you the details of that kind of support.


Question 5: Mr. President, will you continue to protect, to defend Syrian borders after the threat of Mr. Avigdor Lieberman, to protect with missile defense systems, of course, and how international diplomacy, maybe Russia diplomacy can help to prevent the conflict between Israel and Syria?

President Assad: Defending our borders is our right, and it’s our duty, not only our right. If we don’t do it as officials when we can do it, we should be blamed by the Syrian people, we should be held accountable. So, we don’t have to ask ourselves that question, whether there were statements by Israeli officials or not. We don’t base our policy and decisions on their statements. So, of course, it’s our right and duty, again.

As we heard this morning, that the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked the Israeli ambassador, they invited him to the Ministry in order to discuss the Israeli violation of the Syrian sovereignty. So, I think Russia can play an important role in that regard, and the whole policy of Russia is based on the international law, it’s based on the Charter of the United Nations, and the Security Council resolutions. So, they can discuss the same issues with the Israelis depending on this criteria, and they can play a role in order that Israel not attack Syria again in the future.


Question 6: My turn. Mr. President, the now infamous groups such as the White Helmets and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights have reported recently about the airstrike by the United States-led coalition that killed 50 civilians in a mosque near Aleppo. Now, the Pentagon said they were present in the area, but they had nothing to do with the destruction of the mosque. Previously, Washington held those two groups as reliable sources when they were critical of Damascus, and now they are silent about it. Are we looking at a situation of double standards?

President Assad: The American policy is based on many standards, not double; they have maybe ten standards because they don’t base their policy on values or on international law; they base it on their own vision, their own interests, sometimes on the balance of different lobbies and powers within the American institutions. We all know that. So, we don’t talk about double standards, this is very normal for the US. For example, their raids against ISIS in Mosul in Iraq were something good, or let’s say, positive, while the same raid by the Syrian and Russian army airplanes or troops on the ground in Aleppo to liberate the people of Aleppo is against human rights according to their political discourse. So, this is natural for the American policy and for the West in general, not only the Americans. White Helmets are Al Qaeda, they’re Al Qaeda members and that’s proven on the net; the same members are killing or executing or celebrating over dead bodies, at the same time they are humanitarian heroes, and now they have an Oscar as you know. So, that’s to be expected by the Americans, we have to ignore all their narratives, their own public doesn’t believe their narrative anymore. They don’t know the truth yet; the public opinion in the West in general, they know there’s a lie, but they don’t know what the truth is, and that’s why they have a problem with RT for example, for that reason.


President Bashar al-Assad meets for 3 hours with a joint Russian-European parliamentary delegation:
“Syria determined to solve the crisis through two tracks, counter-terrorism and political process”

President Bashar al-Assad received on Monday a Russian-European joint parliamentary delegation headed by Russian State Duma Deputy Chairman Vladimir Vasilyev.

During the meeting, President al-Assad talked about the latest developments in Syria and responded to the delegation’s queries regarding the situation of the Syrian people after six years of war.

The President affirmed that what is going on in Syria is a conflict among countries that want to maintain the international law, mainly Russia and China, and others that violate this law through their support to terrorist groups and interference in the internal Syrian affairs.

President al-Assad added that Syria is going ahead in its vision to solve the crisis through two tracks, combating terrorism and the political process, affirming that Syria is open to hold dialogue with anyone who lay down arms and abide by the constitution.

The President  said that the process of reconciliations enjoys a support from the Syrian people and it has achieved positive results that rescued the lives of many people and protected many areas, adding that without this support the Syrian state would not be able to proceed in it.

President al-Assad hailed the Russian support to Syrian people in their war against terrorism, adding that officials in European countries who pretend concern over the Syrian people have to stop supporting terrorist groups and put pressure on countries that fund these groups to stop that because it is also in the interest of their people.

The President  said that the visits of the parliamentary delegations to Syria are very important, adding that what distinguishes this visit is that it is a joint delegation from Russia and Europe and therefore it provides a useful opportunity for dialogue among parliamentarians about the polices of their countries toward events in Syria.

In turn, members of the delegation stressed the importance of international intensified efforts to fight terrorism, considering that the stances of European countries towards what is happening in Syria have begun to change when European officials felt that the danger of terrorism began to reach their home countries.

They considered that the intervention in the internal affairs of other countries brings nothing but only chaos, stressing the importance of dialogue among the Syrians to agree on any step regarding the future Syria.

In the same context, Speaker of the People’s Assembly Hadiyeh Abbas met the Russian-European parliamentary delegation.

She said “we rely on the European parliamentarians and representatives of the peoples of Europe to correct the wrong European policies towards Syria and enhance cooperation and coordination to combat terrorism since it is the only way to protect the Europeans.

For his part, head of the delegation underlined the need to boost the joint parliamentary cooperation between Syria and Russia, noting to the delegation members’ keenness on revealing the real image of what is taking place in Syria and convey it to their peoples.

The Russian State Duma Deputy Chairman Vladimir Vasilyev indicated to the warm atmosphere of the delegation’s meeting with President al-Assad which lasted for three hours during which the President shared his viewpoints on key issues and listened to their perspectives, views and notes.

He stressed that it has now become clear to all that the Syrian leadership is essential to the dialogue aimed at solving the crisis in the country, adding that President al-Assad briefed the delegation on the latest political developments and the Syrian army’s achievements on the ground.

Vasilyev laid stress on the necessity of pushing forward the political dialogue with all forces and enhance the political process in Syria for the sake of the country’s future.

He reiterated the Russian leadership, government and Parliament’s support to Syria’s right to fight terrorism and its extremist ideology, pointing out to the need for eliminate terrorism before its prevailing throughout the entire world.

The head of delegation noted that the Russian State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs has prepared an agenda which includes proposals which Syria, and even other states, need, the most important of which is the Constitution.

He extended an invitation to the Speaker of People’s Assembly to visit Russia in April.

In a press conference, Vasilyev said the visit to Syria aims at inspecting the reality of what is taking place on the ground and offer the delegation members’ parliamentary expertise to the Syrian MPs.

He described the meeting with President al-Assad as “constructive and fruitful”, noting that the delegation members, including the European parliamentarians, were satisfied and delighted over the outcomes of the meeting.

Vasilyev said that the delegation has submitted several proposals and thoughts to President al-Assad, including opinions about constitution, encouraging local reconciliations and truces.

The formation of a constitutional committee and its work mechanism were also discussed, he added.

He indicated to the small number of countries which provide humanitarian aid to Syria such as Russia, China, Iran, Armenia and Azerbaijan, calling for mobilizing efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people.

Vasilyev highly appreciated the efforts exerted by the Syrian people and leadership to solve the crisis in Syrian as soon as possible, adding that the Russian forces’ participation in combating terrorism in Syria came upon request from the legitimate Syrian government and in line with the international law.


SOURCES:
Syrian News Agency in Damascus
Syrian News Agency by Manar/R.Raslan/Mazen
Submitted by SyrianPatriots
War Press Info Network at :
https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/al-assad-eu-russians/
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Blacklisted, Smeared & Silenced For Exposing NATO Destabilization Of Syria By Mnar Muhawesh

Rania Khalek, an independent journalist who has been blacklisted for her recent reports on Syria, joins Mnar Muhawesh on ‘Behind the Headline’ to discuss the silencing of journalists who oppose the mainstream media’s pro-war agenda.

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/0p_8cbjtda4?rel=0&showinfo=0

MINNEAPOLIS —  Though it’s been nearly six years, the subject of the Syrian conflict remains as contentious as ever. While those who characterize themselves as pro-regime change have monopolized the wider conversation on Syria, even the most tame opposition against foreign intervention, or the CIA-backed rebels—who now come in varying flavors of extremism—continues to be taboo.

Those who refuse to support U.S. military intervention in Syria and the CIA backed regime change operation there that has been well documented for over 25 years — are branded “Assadists” — and if you’re a writer or commentator?

 
 

Well, that gets you and your work blacklisted from publications and, in the case of journalists like myself and others who make up a long list of anti-interventionists far too long to mention here, even gets your speaking engagements shut down and kicked off of blogs, regardless of what topic they’re on.

It seems that opposing what clearly amounts to a NATO-imposed regime change operation in Syria in order to create the next Afghanistan in the Middle East and ultimately weaken Russia and Iran gets you characterized as a supporter of genocide.

But this is not a new phenomenon — we’ve been here before as recently as Libya and Iraq.

During the pro-war campaign against Libya, we were told, just as we were during previous conflicts, that military intervention was necessary in order to protect civilians from a madman.

The same loudmouthed pundits who led us down the bloody path of war have since been eerily silent in the aftermath — where Libya is now being overrun by groups like ISIS and the country is being described as a failed state.

In Iraq, we saw an energized anti-war movement smeared as being pro-Saddam, and now, despite what we’ve learned about both conflicts, history seems to be repeating itself. Many are now suffering a kind of collective amnesia over how war is peddled to the public.

Today we’re joined by Rania Khalek, an independent journalist who has become the latest victim  of an organized smearing and blacklisting campaign for her recent reporting on Syria. The organized campaign against her became so aggressive that several of her talks on apartheid in Israel were canceled after student groups were pressured to blacklist her events by pro-Syrian rebel activists who support US intervention and regime change.

The blacklisting of Rania Khalek garnered the attention of many notable scholars, activists and journalists including Noam Chomsky, John Pilger and Glenn Greenwald among others who signed a petition calling for an end to censorship and warning that there needs to be more open dialogue on Syria rather than silencing journalists.

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NATO’s War Of Resources Is Causing A Humanitarian Crisis In West Africa – By Eric Draitser

As millions suffer from hunger, disease, illiteracy and grinding poverty in the Lake Chad region of West Africa, a sinister game of resource extraction and exploitation is playing out, with geopolitics at the heart of it all.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power speaks with Multinational Joint Task Force Commander Maj. Gen. Lamidi Adeosun, right, as she departs their headquarters in N'Djamena, Chad,, April 20, 2016. (AP/Andrew Harnik)

NEW YORK — (Analysis) In late February 2017, Norway hosted an international humanitarian conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad region in hopes of attracting major donors to fund relief work.  As Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende explained, “The conference has three aims: to raise awareness about the crisis, to gain more support for humanitarian efforts, and to secure greater political commitment to improve the situation.”

Brende’s concern for the region may be laudable. But no serious examination of the crisis in West Africa can ignore the political and strategic calculus that surrounds the region. As with all conflicts in Africa, questions about resource extraction and neocolonial exploitation abound, with corrupt governments in the region (and their backers in wealthy countries) making the discussion all the more uncomfortable for the most privileged members of global society.

A real discussion of the issue would highlight the questionable connections between regional governments and the development of Boko Haram, the Nigerian terror group that is responsible for much of the havoc being wreaked in the region. It would note the vast energy deposits beneath Lake Chad that evoke an almost Pavlovian response from the leaders of surrounding countries, blinded by the dollar signs in their eyes. It would point out the moves that former colonial powers in Europe are making within the region to enrich themselves and expand their military presence, as well as increase their influence and political power.

 

In short, the humanitarian crisis around Lake Chad is a symptom of a much larger sickness afflicting the region. We must diagnose the illness in order to treat it, not simply observe its side effects and call for more drugs.

 

The Shadowy Networks Behind Boko Haram

United States Special Operations Command Africa Commander Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, left, accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, center, meets with President Idriss Deby Itno, right, at the presidential palace in N’Djamena, Chad, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Power was traveling to Cameroon, Chad, and Nigeria to highlight the growing threat Boko Haram poses to the Lake Chad Basin region. (AP/Andrew Harnik)

Some of the statistics on the humanitarian situation around Lake Chad are truly appalling.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there are at least 2.1 million internally displaced people in the region, as well as 7.1 million suffering from hunger. One in every two families need life-saving assistance, according to aid workers. Countless thousands have been killed, injured or otherwise terrorized by Boko Haram and other terror groups. The situation is dire.

So when the UN announced that the conference had raised 672 million dollars to help the people of the region, the news was obviously welcome. With such funds come very serious questions about how the funds will be distributed and who should be responsible for overseeing the distribution process. But determining the real causes of the crisis is perhaps the real million-dollar question.

First and foremost is the question of Boko Haram, its murky origins in Nigerian political conflicts and the ramifications of its actions in the region. While definitive knowledge of the group’s sponsorship remains elusive, there is ample circumstantial evidence to suggest that elements within Nigeria’s government (and potentially other regional governments) have been sponsoring the group from its infancy.  

Renowned hostage negotiator and Boko Haram intermediary Dr. Stephen Davis has gone on record as saying that high-ranking elements within the administration of former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan were involved, including Ali Modu Sheriff, the former governor of Nigeria’s Borno State (the heart of the Boko Haram insurgency) and one of the country’s top military commanders.  

The Jonathan Administration and Nigeria’s military in turn have accused Chad’s government, led by President Idriss Déby, of fueling the unrest for geopolitical and strategic reasons. According to these sources, Déby facilitated the rise of Boko Haram in order to destabilize Nigeria and take advantage of growing energy extraction from the Lake Chad Basin.

Nigeria's Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau speaking to the camera. Shekau has allegedly made a formal allegiance to ISIS on, March 7, 2015, in an audio message posted on Twitter. (AP Photo)

While the claim was certainly convenient for a Nigerian government that then was fending off accusations of its own collusion with Boko Haram, it does substantiate a 2011 intelligence memo from field officers in Chad, which noted that “members of Boko Haram sect are sometimes kept in the Abeche region in Chad and trained before being dispersed. This happens usually when Mr. Sheriff visits Abeche.”

Though the details remain murky and may never be fully publicized, even a conservative assessment would note that the domestic politics of Nigeria, as well as regional political infighting, facilitated the emergence of Boko Haram. Indeed, as former President Jonathan’s own presidential panel investigating Boko Haram noted:

“The report traced the origin of private militias in Borno State in particular, of which Boko Haram is an offshoot, to politicians who set them up in the run-up to the 2003 general elections. The militias were allegedly armed and used extensively as political thugs. After the elections and having achieved their primary purpose, the politicians left the militias to their fate since they could not continue funding and keeping them employed. With no visible means of sustenance, some of the militias gravitated towards religious extremism, the type offered by Mohammed Yusuf [leader of Boko Haram].”

From its origins as a collection of gangs used to intimidate people and influence elections to its later development as a cohesive terror organization, Boko Haram has been one of the driving forces of the humanitarian crisis in the region.

Of course, Boko Haram’s rise would have been impossible without the criminal U.S.-NATO war on Libya, which not only toppled the Libyan government, but also led to a tsunami of weapons flowing out of Libya and into the hands of regional terror groups such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the nascent Boko Haram.  

In a very direct way, the U.S.-NATO war birthed the violent conflict we see today in the region.

 

A Humanitarian Crisis and a Resource War

A malnourished child receives heath care at a feeding center run by Doctors Without Borders in Maiduguri Nigeria. The U.N. Security Council on Friday, March. 3, 2017 kicked off a visit to spotlight Africa's worst humanitarian crisis as millions face hunger amid the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, Aug. 29, 2016. (AP/Sunday Alamba)

Sadly, most humanitarian crises in the world stem from politics and greed; the human tragedy unfolding in the Lake Chad region is no different. At the heart of the issue is oil.

In recent years, oil discoveries throughout the Lake Chad Basin have transformed how the states of West Africa view their economic future. At the heart of the basin is Lake Chad, surrounded by the countries of Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger.  According to a 2010 assessment from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Chad Basin has “estimated mean volumes of 2.32 billion barrels of oil, 14.65 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 391 million barrels of natural gas liquids.”  The potential size of these resources has likely attracted the attention of political and business leaders, both in the region and internationally.

All of the countries surrounding the basin have expressed strong desire in recent years to begin exploiting the energy reserves there. However, until only very recently, Nigeria had been unable to do so due to the Boko Haram insurgency. E&P (Exploration & Production), a publication issued by Hart Energy, noted in March 2014:

“Hopes of stepping up oil exploration in Nigeria’s Lake Chad Basin have been dashed by the brutal attacks of Islamic Boko Haram and the Ansaru sect terrorists in the country’s northeastern region…Between 2011 and 2013, the Nigerian government provided 240 million dollars to facilitate oil and gas exploration activities in the Lake Chad Basin.”

So while Nigeria was forced to put the brakes on its oil exploration and development in the Chad Basin, its neighbors, particularly Chad, continued theirs. Nigeria has jump-started its exploration activities in Lake Chad just in the last few months, presumably thanks to progress that has been made in the fight against Boko Haram.

As Dr. Peregrino Brimah explained in 2014, “The Boko Haram insurgency has conveniently provided Chad, under the government of Idriss Déby, unfettered access to oil under Nigeria’s soils through 3D oil drilling from within its territorial borders, which the country exports.”  

It seems that Déby has engaged in siphoning off Nigeria’s oil wealth and exporting it for massive profits for himself and his cronies. But of course, Chad is not alone in this endeavor, as it has company from Cameroon and Niger, both of whom are doing precisely the same thing.

The regional dynamic is key here, as fighting has spilled over the borders into neighboring Cameroon and Niger on numerous occasions. This is precisely the pretext that the U.S. and its European partners are using to become further involved militarily in the region.

 

Lake Chad and France’s Neocolonial Agenda in West Africa

French soldiers (3rd RPIMa) and Nigerien. Fort Madama in Niger, 12 November 2014.

For the last five hundred years, colonial powers have dominated the political and economic life of Africa. But while formal colonialism may have ended decades ago, the informal dominance and control of Africa continues. This neocolonial control over the continent and its resources is at the root of all conflicts in Africa, including the current crisis in Lake Chad.

Francophone West Africa includes Cameroon, Niger and Chad. This makes France, which continues to be the main trading partner for these countries, into a dominant player in the scramble for Lake Chad. The 2012 coup in Mali and the civil war that subsequently ensued gave the French military the opening it needed to permanently station military forces throughout the region. The ongoing Operation Barkhane has at least 3,000 French troops spread across the Sahel region, including in Niger and Chad.

However, the real question is not whether or not France is right in coming to the defense of its former colonies, but what its real agenda actually is.

Despite its rhetoric of maintaining democracy, stability and the rule of law, France has very self-interested motives. With regard to Boko Haram, Nigeria and the Lake Chad basin, France is the primary beneficiary of the energy extraction taking place there, as its port of Le Havre is the final destination for the unrefined oil. Taken in terms of both actual and potential exports, the area’s vast energy reserves are worth billions. But France’s economic interest in the region does not stop with energy.

France has a keen interest in exploiting lucrative mineral deposits throughout the area, as is evidenced by the fact that the government of French President François Hollande is investing more than half a billion dollars in a new state-owned mining company.

French President Francois Hollande, left, welcomes Chad President Idriss Deby Itno, prior to a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP/Kamil Zihnioglu)

As French industry minister Arnaud Montebourg stated while announcing the creation of the new venture, “Francophone African countries, notably, would like to work with us, rather than do business with foreign multinationals.” Naturally, one should take such a statement with a healthy dose of skepticism as to just how much choice those countries, let alone their citizens, will have in the matter. Not only will France be looking to exploit mineral deposits of lithium and germanium, but also rare earth metals that have become highly lucrative due to significant demand for the metals in the tech manufacturing industry.

Moreover, Montebourg’s use of the phrase “foreign multinationals” is quite revealing. For one thing, it seems that the French political and business elite do not consider themselves to be “foreign” when operating in Francophone countries. The neocolonialism of such a mentality is impossible to ignore.

Secondly, it seems almost self-evident that the “foreign multinationals” to which he is referring are ]Chinese companies (both private and state-owned) that have made tremendous inroads throughout the region in terms of mineral extraction and investment. France is clearly cognizant of a possible turf war between themselves and China over West Africa’s resources.

There are also vast deposits of uranium throughout the region that have piqued France’s interest.  As Think Africa Press reported in 2014:

“France currently sources over 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy and is dependent on Niger for much of its immediate and future uranium supply. This dependence could grow even further when production at the recently-discovered Imouraren uranium deposit is up and running in 2015. The mine is set to produce 5,000 tonnes of uranium per year and would help make Niger the second-largest uranium producer in the world. Areva, which is 87 percent owned by the French state and holds a majority share in three out of the four uranium mining companies operating in Niger, is funding the new mine.”

Add to this the fact that Nigerian President Mahamadou Issoufou is a former employee of Areva, a company that still maintains a near monopoly over the uranium trade. It should come as no surprise that the main competition for Areva (and France) for this lucrative trade is China, which “already owns a 37-percent stake in Niger’s SOMINA mine and has carried out uranium exploration throughout the country.”

The battle between France and China for control of strategic resources and markets is becoming an increasingly critical part of France’s overall policy in the region. France’s goal is to re-establish economic hegemony in its Francophone sphere of influence, as is evidenced by the French government’s policy paper “A partnership for the future: 15 proposals for a new economic dynamic between Africa and France,” which could be seen as a blueprint for French policy in the area.  

This increased emphasis is likely due to the fact that “over the past decade, France’s share of African trade plummeted from 10 to 4.7 percent, while China’s African market share soared to over 16 percent in 2011.” The contours of this proxy war are unmistakably apparent.

 

The Growing U.S. Military Footprint

Compared to France, the U.S. is waging an even greater geopolitical and strategic proxy war with China over Africa’s resources. While China’s influence on the continent has grown by leaps and bounds, Western countries, especially the U.S., have been left scrambling to shore up their hegemony over the continent. The U.S. has chosen to meet Chinese economic penetration with military occupation, both overtly and covertly.

The U.S. has established a vast network of drone bases in the region, though military officials refuse to describe the facilities as anything more than “temporary staging areas.” But a simple look at the map above, combined with disparate reports in multiple media outlets, paints a much more insidious picture of what the U.S. is doing.

The U.S. Military’s Pivot to Africa as of 2013. (Image: TomDispatch)

Under the auspices of AFRICOM, the U.S. operates in nearly every significant country on the continent.  In Chad, which figures prominently in the Boko Haram narrative, the U.S. has indefinitely stationed military personnel, ostensibly to search for Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram.  

However, the White House’s own press statement reveals a much more far-reaching objective:

“These personnel will support the operation of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft for missions over Northern Nigeria and the surrounding area.”  

Translation: The U.S. has drones and other surveillance covering the entire Lake Chad Basin.

While the U.S. only acknowledged sending a small contingent of soldiers, the reality is that far more U.S. forces are engaging in Chad in one form or another. This is perhaps best illustrated by the not-so-coincidental fact that Chad played host to AFRICOM’s Flintlock 2015 military exercises “which [took place on] Feb. 16, 2015 in the capital N’Djamena with outstations in Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Tunisia, and will [run] through March 9, 2015.”  

To summarize, U.S. military personnel led exercises all throughout the region, with specific attention to the Lake Chad Basin countries. But it certainly doesn’t stop there.

The U.S. now operates two critical drone bases in the region, with one base in Cameroon’s city of Garoua and another in the Nigerian city of Agadez.  As the Intercept reported:

“’The top MILCON [military construction] project for USAFRICOM is located in Agadez, Niger to construct a C-17 and MQ-9 capable airfield,’ reads a 2015 planning document. ‘RPA presence in NW Africa supports operations against seven [Department of State]-designated foreign terrorist organizations. Moving operations to Agadez aligns persistent ISR to current and emerging threats over Niger and Chad, supports French regionalization and extends range to cover Libya and Nigeria.’

The strategic value of such bases is perfectly clear. As the Washington Post noted:

“The Predator drones in Niger…give the Pentagon a strategic foothold in West Africa… Niger also borders Libya and Nigeria, which are also struggling to contain armed extremist movements… [Nigerien] President Issoufou Mahamadou said his government invited Washington to send surveillance drones because he was worried that the country might not be able to defend its borders from Islamist fighters based in Mali, Libya or Nigeria… “We welcome the drones,” Mahamadou said… “Our countries are like the blind leading the blind,” he said. “We rely on countries like France and the United States. We need cooperation to ensure our security.”

And here the connection between U.S. military engagement and Boko Haram becomes painfully clear.  The U.S. cynically exploits the instability in the region – a direct outgrowth of the U.S.-NATO war against Libya – to further entrench its military.

 

U.S. Military Empire Expands Elsewhere in Africa

A soldier stands guard outside the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in the wake of a weekend attack that killed up to 32 people, Jan. 18 , 2016. (AP/Sunday Alamba)

Recent years have seen other countries in sub-Saharan Africa struggling with terrorism and in desperate need of “assistance” from the U.S. While some might recall the January 2016 attack on a luxury hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital, few know that the U.S. uses the country as a key node in its aerial surveillance and military intelligence network in Africa.

As the Washington Post reported in 2012:

A key hub of the U.S. spying network can be found in Ouagadougou, the…capital of Burkina Faso… Under a classified surveillance program code-named Creek Sand, dozens of U.S. personnel and contractors have come to Ouagadougou in recent years to establish a small air base on the military side of the international airport. The unarmed U.S. spy planes fly hundreds of miles north to Mali, Mauritania and the Sahara.

Of course, these examples only scratch the surface of the vast military and surveillance architecture constructed by the U.S. in Africa over the last decade or so.  

With China becoming an increasingly dominant economic force on the continent, the U.S., France and other powers have moved to consolidate their control over both the resources and politics of Africa through militarization. The crisis in Lake Chad is just one of the sad results of these efforts.

It would be incorrect to say that the crisis in Lake Chad is entirely and solely attributable to imperialist intrigue. It must be said that climate change is also playing a huge role, as Lake Chad, once the largest reservoir in the Sahel region of Africa, has lost roughly 80 percent of its total area. The loss of portions of the lake has had a direct negative effect on people’s livelihoods and access to water. This has had the effect of driving desperate young men into the arms of Boko Haram and other criminal groups.

Though the circumstances may be complex, the Lake Chad crisis cannot be fundamentally resolved without addressing the political and geopolitical questions at the heart of it all.

There is a certain dialectical irony in the fact that climate change helps fuel the loss of Lake Chad which, at the very same moment, is being exploited for its oil wealth. There is an almost tragicomic quality to such a reality.
Sadly, it is an all too painful reality for the millions of Africans who live it every day.   

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Putin: Russia Will Resist New World Order’s Plans For Open Borders – By Baxter Dmitry

Putin has vowed to protect the Russia’s sovereignty from the New World Order’s plans to introduce open borders around the world.

The sovereignty of nations around the world must be respected and preserved in order to maintain “the strategic balance of power” and prevent the world plunging into major conflict, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Criticizing the New World Order’s plans to destroy the sovereign integrity of nations and bring them under the auspices of transnational organizations like the European Union and the United Nations, Putin extolled the value of the nation state to world peace.

We will continue to do everything needed to preserve the strategic balance of power,” he said, adding that the balance was what had prevented a major military conflict between the opposing camps during the Cold War.

Our goal is to effectively neutralize any military threats to Russia’s security, including those of the [NATO] strategic anti-ballistic missile defense system, the prompt global strike concept and information warfare,” Putin told the Russian military.

Putin was speaking to Russian generals and defense industry leaders in Sochi on Friday, concluding a series of defense-related meetings. He said Russia will continue to develop advanced military technology to protect itself as NATO troops continue amassing near the Russian border.

Leading world powers are currently using the most advanced scientific knowledge for weapons development. It includes laser technologies, hypersound technologies, and robotics. Russia is conducting such research too,” the president said.

As we create advanced weapons systems we strictly follow the international obligations that Russia has taken upon itself. But some other nations, as we all know, cancel previous agreements. As was the case with anti-ballistic missile defense,” Putin added, referring to the withdrawal from the ABM Treaty in 2002 by the administration of President George W Bush.

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Why a Thaw Between Russia and NATO is Possible – REUTERS/ Francois Lenoir

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© REUTERS/ Francois Lenoir
Politics

14:16 15.07.2016(updated 15:37 15.07.2016) Get short URL
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There are signs indicating a slight shift in NATO’s strategy towards Russia. Western Europe now does not believe in the “Russian menace” while some Western politicians have called upon the EU to regard Moscow as an ally rather than a geopolitical rival.

NATO is an alliance of different countries with different priorities, prominent journalist and independent political analyst Deena Stryker notes in her article for New Eastern Outlook online magazine.

“In 1989 my book ‘A Different Europe, a Different World,’ (Une autre Europe, un autre monde) was published in France. It anticipated Europe’s reunification and suggested that Europeans should replace the Atlantic Alliance with full participation in the Eurasian Community, in which the Soviet Union, far from being a threat, was simply one of five giants, the others being India, China, the Middle East and Europe, each of equal weight. It has taken twenty-five years for the leaders of Western Europe to arrive at a similar conclusion,” Stryker writes.

What does the author mean?

Journalists and political observers have called attention to the fact that while the NATO Warsaw Summit was expected to label Russia as an imminent threat to Europe, thus far justifying the deployment of permanent bases in the Baltic States and Poland, something different had happened.In her article for the Guardian, British writer and broadcaster Mary Dejevsky highlighted that ahead of the Warsaw Summit NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg “expressly denied that Russia presented ‘any imminent threat to any NATO ally’ — note the word ‘any’ — insisting strong defense should be accompanied by ‘constructive dialogue.'”

“Let me start by stating that we don’t see any imminent threat against any NATO ally,” Stoltenberg emphasized answering Baltic News Service media outlet which cited non-existent “threat” posed by Russia to Eastern Europe.

“The cold war is history, and should remain history,” Stoltenberg underscored.

Dejevsky also stressed the fact that NATO decided not to establish permanent bases in the East: instead additional troops will be rotated.Apparently, these developments would have never happened without pressure from the Alliance’s member states.

While the bloc’s Eastern European members, such as the Baltic States and Poland, continue to beat the war drums over the mythical prospect of a “Russian invasion,” Western Europe has taken a different stance.

In his interview with Sputnik, Executive Intelligence Review editor Jeff Steinberg pointed to the fact that in the course of the Warsaw Summit German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and French President Francois Hollande noted that Russia is neither an enemy nor a threat to Europe.

Remarkably, in his earlier interview with the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag Steinmeier denounced NATO’s Anaconda-16 drills held near Russian borders as “saber-rattling” that does not add to the European security.

Former NATO Defense Committee Chairman and former German Air Force and German armed forces chief of staff General Harald Kujat also raised his voice in support for Russia at the summit.

“Kujat told German media that Russia should be viewed as a friend and even an ally. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, he said, should have been invited to Warsaw,” Steinberg told Sputnik.

It is worth mentioning that NATO’s European members are currently more concerned about an upcoming Brexit and looming financial crisis, than about a phantom Russian “menace.”Due to the fact that the bloc is really “an alliance of many countries with different priorities” NATO has begun to resemble a colossus with clay feet. Apparently, therefore the EU is considering the possibility of creating an independent European military force.

Meanwhile, Russia is not sitting on its hands: Moscow is building bridges with its neighbors in order to ensure security on its western borders.

Dejevsky emphasized that before the Warsaw Summit Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Finland and discussed aviation security measures in the Baltics among other issues.

Furthermore, on July 14 Moscow offered the bloc a number of confidence-building measures to ensure security in Eastern Europe, in particular in the Baltics, during the Russia-NATO council in Brussels, as Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a weekly press briefing in Moscow on Thursday.

Dejevsky and Stryker emphasize that nobody in the West really want the repetition of the Cold War.

Those NATO members who are championing the idea of a “Russian threat” should wake up and “realize that the twenty-first century sun rises in the East, enabling a carefully constructed but flawed union to be transformed into something more durable — and peaceful,” Stryker remarks.

Related:
Stop Goading Russia, Steinmeier Urges After NATO Military Exercise
Germany’s Minister of Defense Supports NATO Dual Strategy Toward Russia
While Italy Urges ‘to Build Bridges,’ Poland Wants More NATO in E Europe
Putin: NATO Jets Fly Over Baltics Without Turning on Identification Devices
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security, cooperation, NATO Warsaw Summit 2016, NATO, European Union, Jens Stoltenberg, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Francois Hollande, Germany, Europe, United States, Russia, Eastern Europe, Finland, France
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Cohen: NATO’s Actions on Russian Border May Stir Memories of Nazi Invasion – By SPUTNIK NEWS

Politics

18:10 06.05.2016(updated 18:11 06.05.2016) Get short URL
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NATO is moving closer to Russia’s borders throwing a monkey wrench in the possibility of the US-Russian détente; incredibly as it may seem, it is presented as Moscow’s “provocation” by Washington’s hawks, Professor Stephen F. Cohen noted.

The North Atlantic Alliance is beefing up its military presence in the Baltic states and in Poland — in close proximity to Russia’s western border, Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies at New York University and Princeton University, noted in his recent interview on The John Batchelor Show.

In this context Moscow’s decision to send its planes to inspect a US warship, the USS Donald Cook, which was maneuvering not far from Russia’s military-naval base at Kaliningrad, is understandable, the professor noted, calling attention to the fact that the guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook “is not a fishing boat.”

“I watched NATO move ever closer to Russia’s borders on land, in the air and in the sea and it is all being presented in the United States as Russia’s provocation. One military guy even said: ‘Putin is moving his troops closer to NATO’… NATO is moving closer to Russia, Russia doesn’t move. It is where it is. It’s NATO that has been on the move ever since the 1990s,” Professor Cohen underscored.

Russia is reacting to NATO’s maneuvers and all this is presented as “Putin’s aggression” against Europe, the Baltic states, and NATO.It is worth mentioning that although the US guided-missile destroyer was sailing in international waters it was only 70 nautical miles from Russian territory.

Commenting on the issue, British political analyst Finian Cunningham wrote in his article for Sputnik:

“Let’s run that scenario in reverse to highlight how “American exceptionalism” has become a chronic condition of irrational double-think. If a Russian warship was to approach the US coastline in similar fashion — even if theoretically in international waters — we can be sure that US fighter jets would be scrambled and forcefully deployed. The Russian ambassador would also probably be summoned in Washington.”

“The fundamental question is: who is provoking whom,” Professor Cohen underscored.

“It’s hard to see where Russia is threatening NATO, it is responding to what NATO is doing,” he stressed.

To complicate matters further, such NATO moves can only stir memories of the Nazi German invasion in 1941 in Russian minds — the last time such a considerable military force mobilized on the country’s western border.

“If you see this through Russia’s eyes there has not been any formidable military force amassed on its borders since the German invasion in 1941. And that might be the most searing living memory in Russia. Twenty seven point five million Soviets died in that war [the Great Patriotic War],” the American scholar pointed out.

The US academic stressed that it is becoming clear that Washington’s party of war is succeeding in undermining the potential détente between Russia and the United States. There was a possibility that the US-Russia brokered ceasefire in Syria would facilitate the rapprochement between Moscow and Washington. Unfortunately, things are getting worse: “US war party or sanctions party” has unleashed an all-out media campaign against any cooperation with Russia.Meanwhile NATO’s new supreme commander US General Curtis Scaparrotti, Philip Breedlove’s successor, has signaled the alliance would continue its military buildup in Eastern Europe “against a resurgent Russia.”

“We face a resurgent Russia and its aggressive behavior that challenges international norms,” Scaparrotti said in an official statement earlier this week.

The US general added that NATO must be “ready to fight should deterrence fail.”

Scaparrotti is also championing the plan to deploy a third permanent military brigade of American troops in Europe. It should be noted that presently about 65,000 US military personnel are permanently stationed in Europe.

The question remains open whether Washington policymakers are sleepwalking toward direct confrontation with Russia or whether they actively seek it, Cohen asked.

 

Related:
The Road to US National Security ‘Still Runs Through Moscow’
The Peace Seeker: What Lies at the Root of Putin’s Foreign Policy in Syria
Learning From Russia: Why Washington Gets It All Wrong About Syria
Breaking the Rules: How NATO ‘Could Undermine’ Founding Act With Russia
New Commander, Old Story: NATO Considers ‘Resurgent Russia’ a Challenge
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war hawks, confrontation, military buildup, conflict, troops, Cold War, World War II, NATO, Pentagon, Curtis Scaparrotti, Stephen Cohen, Vladimir Putin, Philip Breedlove, Nazi Germany, Baltic Region, Europe, United States, Russia
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