US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said earlier this week that he expects Russia will soon suffer casualties. The comment has sparked a good deal of debate as to whether Carter is just another hopeful US psychopath, or if the Pentagon has a Soviet-Afghanistan redux in mind for Syria. Either way Russia is infuriated, and a dangerous game just got downright scary.
Vladimir Putin’s ISIL “end game” in support of Syria’s armed forces has put the United States and the coalition in an untenable spot, that’s for sure. For over a year Central Command has been reporting damage assessments telling of hundreds and thousands of destroyed targets, and completed mission objectives against ISIL, but no tangible victory was ever in sight. As we see now, the US posture on ISIL has been one of “wait and see” in the hopes ISIL, and other extremist jihadists supported by the coalition, might overthrow Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad.
It’s crystal clear this was the only mission Barack Obama had in the region, and now Vladimir Putin has forced his hand. Destroying ISIL, as far as Pentagon strategy was concerned, was counterproductive to the greater mission. Now the US Defense Secretary is in the spotlight, chirping ill advised warnings about a Russian intervention he should be welcoming. The question is, why?
For the life of me I cannot recall whether or not Russia’s Defense Minister has ever “wished” for American deaths. Maybe he has, under his breath at least? I guess we’ll never know, as Russians are tight lipped most of the time. But Mr. Carter’s comments after a NATO meeting this week were less than inspirational, coming from a top United States official:
“This will have consequences for Russia itself,” Carter said. “And I also expect that in coming days, the Russians will begin to suffer casualties in Syria.”
Russia is now flying in support for a massive Syrian Army push designed to regain territory and control. Russian air crews, advisers, and even ship crews have participated in the campaign so far. It’s a campaign which has been catalogued via the Russian Defense Ministry, YouTube and on main Russian media outlets. The short story being, ISIL has suffered more losses in the last few days than throughout the US/Coalition campaign supposedly designed to eradicate these terrorists.
So called “moderates” the US now says were “assets” – they’re targets now too – and the Pentagon are in a frenzy over Russia’s interference in Washington’s shadow game of make-believe anti-terrorism. What’s most concerning now though is what lengths the US is prepared to go to in order to thwart Vladimir Putin’s killing off of ISIL. Ash Carter may have just shot off the administration’s foot, by shooting off his mouth.
Less than a week ago US President Barack Obama warned Vladimir Putin of the “quagmire” that Syria might become for Russia. His hint that Putin’s ploy may lead to a Soviet-Afghanistan II was, as we see now, not just a casual comment. One of the Syria scenarios now imminent is further intercession by the Pentagon and the CIA.
As was the case in Afghanistan in 1986, the jihadists (“moderates” according to Washington) are being used as a tool of regime change. The Soviet-Afghan War altered course once deadly Stinger missiles were supplied by the United States to the Mujahideen. The subsequent Soviet air losses were devastating to their campaign, and ultimately the USSR could no longer bear the human or material loss. Ash Carter’s assertions, and the deadly insinuation represented by this attitude, are a chilling reminder America is still in a strategic game of world dominance.
I spoke with several experts on the notion that the US may supply the very enemies of 9/11 with the tools necessary to kill a former ally. Jeffrey Silverman, an expert in chemical and biological weapons and an investigative reporter currently residing in the Republic of Georgia, spoke with me briefly via Skype this morning. I asked Silverman about the so-called “rat lines” and arms trafficking to ISIL and other extremist groups the Levant. He provided a wealth of information, but more appropriately he encapsulated the US position with this:
“It is clear that the US has invested too much into this covert operation to allow the Russians to just fly in and sort out the terrorists once and for all. We can expect that the US, its proxies, including Turkey, Jordan and Israeli, will provide all necessary covert material support to try to save their joint project.”
Before we look at a Syrian “Stinger” missile redux from the Pentagon, it’s necessary for the reader to understand the situation on the ground in the war on ISIL. At least it’s necessary to identify “who” is fighting alongside whom.
While the US administration has made good use out of the public’s ignorance of this tribal affair, the jumble of warring parties has to be gleaned by the common folk. There are two completely different stories being told about America’s involvement in this region. The White House version depicts the United States in a bitter but limited war, involving mostly air power, which is being wages in order to prevent the barbarian Islamic State (ISIL) spreading like a virus across Eastern Syria and Northern Iraq. The American people love this version because it is simple “John Wayne” western drama, good guys versus dastardly bad guys with scimitars. In this version, no dirty, rotten, mask-wearing Christian hater is going to chop little Tommy’s head off in front of his parents in Omaha. Nope, Barack Obama is going to bomb Mohammad back into the Stone Age first. Sadly though, this version is nowhere near the truth.
The real life war on ISIL is a bit different, and is part of a US strategy of widespread regime change across much of the world. Without expanding our story too far, the Arab Spring we once heard so much about is not finished yet. As Barack Obama and other Western leaders have made abundantly clear, Bashar Assad’s government must be overthrown by whatever means. ISIL, or even Al-Qaeda, are only bit players in an overall strategy of shifting world affairs.
In order to accomplish this, the US administration has had to make a lot of deals. Obama has had to not only support the Saudis and Israel, but terrorist and jihadist organizations directly responsible for killing Americans. The lineup is something like this:
On the side of the legitimate Syrian government are President Assad’s military, an array of armed support groups like the Ba’ath Brigades and the Palestinian Liberation Army, Israel’s sworn enemy Hezbollah, countries supplying non-lethal support like China and Venezuela, and Russia, which is now flying air support missions for Assad’s troops.
In the middle of this crude alliance sits Iraq, already overrun by ISIL, and fighting with only marginal air support provided by the US and the coalition of nations supposedly aligned to kill off ISIL. I cordon the Iraqis off here because they represent a second front against ISIL, a front that has in no way been enabled to defeat this dreadful enemy. Let’s just say Iraq is actually the key to this disastrous situation.
Before the recent Russian air missions began, the United States, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, the UAE, Morocco, and Canada were tasked (allegedly) with striking at the heart of ISIL. Also allied with the coalition were the Kurdish self-government coalition in Northern Iraq, the Syrian opposition to Assad, America’s bitter enemy since 9/11 Al-Qaeda and two dozen or more extremist jihadist groups like Al-Nusra, referred to as “the moderate” opposition by the American president. Also aligned with this nefarious coalition are Turkey and the United Kingdom, which supply armaments and other support.
There are other constituents, but the reader should have a general idea from this of the foreign policy “soup sandwich” that exists in the region. This Wikipedia reference offers a decent cross section, but biblical scholars will blink twice at the international flavour of this mess. Only 50 miles and a wrong move by the Pentagon separate us from a real cataclysm.
I’d be delinquent if I failed to point out that Tel Meggido (of Armageddon fame) is just across the border in Israel. Let’s be real here, this is the first time in centuries so much of the world has been gathered in this place. The potential for monstrous cataclysm cannot be overlooked, but the good news is that US military doctrine over the last decade has not been consistent with such a conflagration. To address this I spoke with the founder and editor-in-chief of nsnbc international, Christof Lehmann. He supplied me with the US Special Forces Training section (PDF 2010) that outlines today’s unconventional warfare, essentially the strategies we see being carried out in the Middle East. Lehman went on to address the possibility of broadened conflict:
“A major, conventional or even nuclear conflict between the USA/NATO and Russia / CSTO over Syria and Iraq is not consistent with declared US military doctrine. US SPECIAL FORCES UNCONVENTIONAL WARFARE – TRAINING CIRCULAR TC 18-01 (2010) states that the USA, for the foreseeable future would predominantly be engaged in unconventional warfare.”
As for the real enemy (supposedly), ISIL no longer seems to be the foe of civilization. The bogey men Western governments have paraded on TV screens seems less like bloodthirsty terrorists and a lot more like the beneficiaries of some “iron dome” air protectorate. The Islamic State that all these nations and factions were supposed to be fighting to defeat is less of a foe of the coalition than Syria’s ruling government and Russia.
Secretary of Defense Carter’s comment mirrored the bombastic and arrogant disdain Washington officials have come to exemplify of late. Calling the Russian military “unprofessional” for typical airspace infractions the US commits nearly daily, Carter is the new poster child for rude-crude and socially unacceptable American officials. The Unites States bombed a hospital the other day, and Russia is an evil empire because it crossed an invisible line in a war zone?
The crux of this ISIL-Syria mess can be boiled down to its essence fairly easily. Successive US administrations, along with their European constituents, have initiated the sequential regime changes we have seen from Tunisia to Afghanistan. The strategy behind these revolutions matters less than the facts which lay bare the real position of the United States, NATO, and even the UN. Democracy of a different kind is being exported through pain and suffering and fueled by supposedly peaceful governments.
I wrote a piece the other day about the betrayal of the public will. The subjects of that piece no longer even deny that CIA, State Department, and other covert actions have taken place in support of regime change. WikiLeaks documents frame the current situation in the opposite way to that Washington, London, and Brussels are engaged in presenting. This is not speculation, theory, or opinion; the strategies we see now were laid out a decade or more ago. Don’t take my word for it, read the cables yourself.
Today Russian officials are indignant at the insinuation that their American counterparts are prophesying Russian casualties. The news cycle for this story has passed now, and other stories have emerged to take the place of Ash Carter’s breach of decorum and civility. The Western mainstream media is for once in disarray, much as the White House and the Pentagon seem to be right now. At this juncture, if Obama gives a green light to jihadists shooting down Russian planes America will be exposed in the game. With millions of lives at stake in the region, hundreds of millions more affected by the refugee crisis, sanctions in place and America polarizing the world, the string pullers of Washington have few options left.
If I were Ash Carter, I’d make damn sure Russian pilots had an American wing man or two. Even a lucky hit on an SU 34 sends a signal – Afghanistan Redux – America guilty of chaos again.
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.