The abrupt firing of President Trump’s key National Security Adviser, General Michael Flynn, after only days on the job, may be a blessing in disguise for those interested in a more peaceful world. It may also have been the splash of cold water that the Russian leadership needed to disabuse them of any fantasies or thoughts they would do good for their nation by cutting Flynn’s dirty deal over “peace” in Syria.
It’s essential to look beyond the headlines to get a sense of what’s really afoot. From the onset, as I’ve stated many times, the Trump Presidency is about deception and about replacing Obama’s failed “Plan A” for global dominion with what we might call Henry Kissinger’s “Plan B.”
What did the abrupt firing of Flynn do to possibly aid world peace? Was he not the dear friend of normalizing relations with Putin’s Russia? Was he not the ardent foe of the war-mongering neo-cons that dominated the foreign policies of George W. Bush and B. Obama? In a word, No. He wasn’t.
The issue is not Flynn as though he single-handedly was about cleaning the filth out of the Augean Stables of the Washington intelligence community. The issue is the declared priority foreign policy of the Trump Project.
Since the election campaign, certain themes have been clearly sounded: The nuclear deal with Iran was “bad” and new hostile sanctions are in order. Relations with Bibi Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud government must again become special Washington priority. Relations with Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest financier of terrorism, must also be elevated. What has taken place in the four weeks since the inauguration?
Not a new policy, post-Flynn. What is taking place is a strategic pivot, as planned, to build a war coalition for US control of the oil and gas of the Middle East. It is not about “peace” in cooperation with Russia in Syria. Never was.
Breaking the Eurasian Development Triangle
From the outset, if we take utterings of Trump, of Flynn, of Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis, the aim of the American Patriarchs and their messengers such as Henry Kissinger, has been to try to break the Eurasian economic triangle that offers our war-torn world a new hope of economic growth, not war, through construction of a network of deep water ports and high-speed rail infrastructure linking the nations of Eurasia, largely independent of the domination of the dollar system or NATO.
As I outlined in an earlier article, published just before the Trump inauguration, it was clear then that, “With Kissinger now in a unique relationship with President-elect Trump as shadow foreign policy adviser, with Kissinger allies Tillerson as Secretary of State and Mattis as Secretary of Defense, it is beginning to appear that the heavy hand of Kissinger and his version of British Balance of Power political manipulations is about to target China, as well as Iran, and to try to use Putin and Russia to destroy the genuine possibility of a counterweight to Western One World delusions, by fostering mistrust and bad blood between China and Russia and Iran.”
Kissinger, in his recent criticisms of Obama foreign policy argued that Obama gave Iran a lifting of some sanctions while not demanding in return that Iran leave Syria and cease support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria. He argues that a deal with Russia over Syria should Balkanize or “cantonize” Syria as Washington did in Yugoslavia in the wars of the 1990s, with an agreed exit of Bashar al Assad. Kissinger argues, “Iran must be contained, much as the Soviet Union was in the Cold War, because it poses a similar threat, acting as both an imperial state and a revolutionary cause.”
For Kissinger, Trump’s de facto foreign policy strategist, the greatest threat to his (and David Rockefeller’s) version of a World Order, is emergence of regional blocs asserting their self-interest and not acting as de facto vassals of a US-led order. Kissinger stated back in 2014, “A struggle between regions could be even more destructive than the struggle between nations has been.”
Flynn Fired for Iran, not for Russia
The official reason for firing Flynn so early on was allegedly his refusal to disclose all details to Vice President Pence and others of his pre-inauguration phone call to the Russian Ambassador in Washington, Sergey Kislyak, in the days before Trump became President.
Far more plausible as reason is the shoot-from-the-hip remarks of Flynn aimed at Iran in early February. Then Flynn held an unusual press conference in the White House to declare, “As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.” His remarks were aimed at Iran’s testing of a ballistic missile and a recent attack on a Saudi naval vessel by Yemeni militants, which Washington said were backed by Teheran. Sounds tough, or? Real Rambo macho, a la USA again asserting its power in the region. Grrrrrrrowl!
There were many things wrong with that inane declaration of Flynn. One, it had no content, much like Obama’s August 2012 “red line” statement on chemical weapons in Syria that almost got the US in a boots-on-the-ground war in Syria and resulted in a disastrous loss of US credibility in the Middle East. As Kissinger noted, the Obama “red line” disaster, “created the impression—and the reality—of an American strategic withdrawal from the region.”
Moreover, there is no international ban on Iran’s testing ballistic missiles. As former White House Middle East specialist Philip Gordon pointed out, “By issuing a warning so imprecise — in such a dramatic, public fashion — he has set himself and the United States up for either an embarrassing retreat or a risky confrontation.” Ballistic missile tests are not a part of the Iran nuclear agreement or any UN Resolution.
As it sunk in within the neophyte Trump Administration what a stupid thing Flynn had done, even before the Administration even had picked all its ducks– let alone set them all in a neat row on Iran policy– it became clear Flynn had to fall on his sword. The Russian Ambassador was useful deflection.
Notable was that the stupid and imprecise threat from Flynn led both Russia and China to publicly declare their firm support of Iran, the opposite of what Plan B is supposed to bring. Three days before Flynn fell on his sword, the Kremlin Presidential spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, stated, “Russia disagrees with a remark recently made by US President Donald Trump’s that branded Iran as ‘the number one terrorist state.’ All of you know that Russia enjoys warm relations with Iran, we do cooperate on a range of issues, and we do appreciate our economic ties which, we hope, will go further.”
Anti-Iran Military Bloc?
If we look closely at what the new Trump initiatives have been, certain features become clear. Take the obscene, fawning performance of new CIA Director, Mike Pompeo, kissing the posterior of the ultra-reactionary Saudi Royal Prince. On February 12 in his first foreign trip as CIA head, Pompeo presented Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, heir to the throne, with the “George Tenet Medal” for his efforts to combat terrorism. Pompeo has echoed the Trump Administration mantra that Iran is the primary source of conflict in the Middle East. It echoes what Trump has declared, what Kissinger has written and what Defense Secretary James Mattis declared when accusing Iran of being, “the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.”
Over the past decades Saudi Arabia has spent an estimated $100 billion fostering the radical Wahhabite brand of fanatic Islam, including sending Osama bin Laden to Pakistan in the early 1980’s to create what became Al Qaeda to wage a CIA decade-long war against the Soviet Red Army. Saudi money is a prime reason war still rages after almost six years in Syria today as well as in Yemen.
The mending of Washington ties with the Saudi monarchy is part of a larger strategy to rebuild Washington ties to Netanyahu’s Israel and to a coalition of ultra-reactionary Sunni Gulf states including Saudi, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt. The Obama Iran nuclear deal had chilled Washington ties deeply with Israel and the Gulf Arab states.
On February 15, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Trump Administration plans to build an anti-Tehran military bloc with Saudi Arabia, other Gulf Sunni states and Israel, states that would cooperate with the United States and Israel on sharing intelligence to oppose the growing regional influence of Iran. The report stated that Washington seeks to create, “a new ‘NATO’ agreement between four Arab nations, where intelligence would be shared openly with Israel. The new agreement has been proposed to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Jordan and is seen as a formal military alliance against a growing geopolitical threat from Iran.”
Netanyahu, in Washington to meet Trump, immediately embraced the Trump proposal of creating an “Arab NATO,” of course, with Israel shrewdly in the background, providing “targets.” The Israeli Prime Minister declared it was a “great opportunity for peace.” (sic).
The Deeper Geopolitics
Creating a new Sunni war against Iran by the Trump Administration is, however, not the end game. It’s a step in a far larger, vastly more strategic gambit: To break the emerging Eurasian triangle of growing cooperation between Russia, China and Iran. Washington and Israel’s Netanyahu see Iran as the best way to do that, the weak link.
A seminal paper recently by Washington neo-conservative guru, Michael Ledeen, the same Ledeen who co-authored a book in 2016 with Mike Flynn, is worth close reading. Ledeen, an architect of the Iran-Contra scandals in the 1980s as well as of the fraudulent Niger uranium yellowcake affair that the Bush-Cheney Administration used to justify the mad war against Iraq in 2003, is at the center of Trump efforts to demonize Iran. Today Ledeen is a so-called Freedom Scholar at the Netanyahu-linked Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington.
On February 13 in an OpEd in Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, submitted just before Flynn’s resignation from the NSC, Ledeen wrote, “Want a deal with Vladimir Putin in the Middle East? Then start with the real questions: Are the Russians prepared to abandon Iran and Bashar Assad’s Syria? If so, what would it take to pull it off? “
Ledeen continues, “An American deal with Russia that pulls the plug on Mr. Putin’s alliance with Mr. Assad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatens the Iranians. Without Russian bombers and special forces, Iran would face defeat, as would Mr. Assad. Without Syria, Hezbollah—an integral part of the Tehran regime—would at least be seriously threatened, and could function no longer, along with the military pipeline from Tehran to the Mediterranean. “
Ledeen then proposes that Trump back a new CIA Color Revolution to topple Khamenei’s Iran: “With US support, these millions of Iranians could topple the Islamic Republic and establish a secular government resembling those in the West. With the Islamic Republic gone, the Trump administration would be in a much stronger position to strike a deal with Mr. Putin. The road to Moscow runs through Tehran.” xv
Michael Ledeen is a nasty piece of work. He is on record in 2002 as part of his push for an Iraqi invasion stating, “If ever there were a region that richly deserved being cauldronized, it is the Middle East today. If we wage the war effectively, we will bring down the terror regimes in Iraq, Iran, and Syria, and either bring down the Saudi monarchy or force it to abandon its global assembly line to indoctrinate young terrorists. That’s our mission in the war against terror.”
Russia steps back
How does this all tie into the resignation of Flynn and the shift in Moscow perceptions of the true motives of the Trump Administration towards Moscow? Trump’s Administration was well on the way, by all signs coming out of Moscow and Washington, to offer Moscow a very poor deal over Syria that would rupture Russia-Iran relations and destroy the new-found Russian influence as a major Middle East actor or a reliable ally to other nations. Vague promises of possible sanctions relief and maybe some “understanding” of Russian Crimea policies were reported to be some of the “carrots” Trump and Co. dangled before Moscow.
On February 14, the day following the Flynn resignation, putatively over his contacts with Russian officials, the Pentagon accused the Russian military of flying “too close” to the USS Porter, a guided-missile destroyer, in international waters in the Black Sea, the strategic home of Russia’s Black Sea naval fleet in Crimea. The Pentagon claimed the Russian jets were flying without transponders turned on. The very presence of the US ships so close to Russia is part of Washington provocations begun under Obama and obviously not altered by Trump.
Then a week before that, US UN Ambassador Nikki Haley told the United Nations that, “the United States continues to condemn and call for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea…Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine.” Trump himself then tweeted, “Crimea was TAKEN by Russia during the Obama Administration. Was Obama too soft on Russia?
During his campaign Trump had suggested reviewing the Crimea sanctions on Russia as part of repairing relations.
At this point Russia has clearly stepped back from making major deals with Washington over Syria since the firing of Mike Flynn. Russia sees the recent visit of CIA head Pompeo to Turkey to try to woo Erdogan back into the NATO camp and enlist Turkish support for a new offensive in Syria as yet another sign of basic dishonesty in the Trump Administration as to their true intentions for a joint peace effort in Syria. Whether embedded networks within the Washington intelligence community–committed along with the US military industrial complex to a permanent war economy–were behind the firing of Flynn, Moscow is clearly in a strategic reassessment in the aftermath.
A rupture of Iran-Russia ties owing to a foul Russian deal in Syria would also facilitate the breaking of the strategic other leg of the Eurasian Golden Triangle, namely the strategic ties between Xi Jinping’s China and Iran, where China has invited Teheran to join its One Belt, One Road port and high-speed rail infrastructure project, described as the most significant infrastructure project in the world today. Washington must break that Eurasian triangle or face superpower twilight. That is what the entire Kissinger-Trump project is about.
If we put the efforts of Washington to drive a wedge between Russia and Iran over Syria into the global context of Washington targeting China over the South China Sea and with coming currency wars, the true purpose of the Trump Project architected by Henry Kissinger becomes clearer. The aim is to destroy the one regional alliance in the world today capable of seriously displacing American hegemony as sole superpower, namely the Russia-Iran-China Eurasian triangle with its gold, its technology, its rail links and its formidable military deterrence. Fortunately for the world, they are off to a disastrous start.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”