The Hope Behind Putin’s Syria Help

Exclusive: President Obama insists on looking the gift horse of Russian military help for Syria’s embattled government in the mouth. Rather than welcome assistance in blocking a Sunni extremist victory, Obama bends to the neocons and liberal hawks, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern explains.

By Ray McGovern

Russia’s airstrikes on rebel strongholds in Syria, now in their fifth day, are a game-changer. To borrow an aphorism from philosopher Yogi Berra, “The future ain’t what it used to be.” Yogi also warned, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

What follows, then, will focus primarily on how and why the violence in Syria has reached this week’s crescendo, the magnitude of the tipping point reached with direct Russian military intervention in support of Syria’s government, and the self-inflicted dilemma confronting President Barack Obama and his hapless advisers who have been demanding “regime change” in Syria as the panacea to the bloody conflict.

Amid the crisis over Syria, President Vladimir Putin of Russia welcomed President Barack Obama to the G20 Summit at Konstantinovsky Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Sept. 5, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Amid the crisis over Syria, President Vladimir Putin of Russia welcomed President Barack Obama to the G20 Summit at Konstantinovsky Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Sept. 5, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Think of this piece as an attempted antidote to the adolescent analysis by Steven Lee Myers front-paged in Sunday’s New York Times, and, for that matter, much else that’s been written about Syria in the Times and other mainstream U.S. news outlets. Many articles, in accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of bad faith, have willfully misrepresented his vow to strike at all “terrorist groups” as meaning only the Islamic State as if Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and other violent extremists don’t qualify as “terrorists.”

However, if Washington finally decides to face the real world not remain in the land of make-believe that stretches from the White House and State Department through the neocon-dominated think tanks to the editorial pages of the mainstream media it will confront a classic “devil-you-know” dilemma.

Does Washington really think that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as demonized as he has been as a key player in a conflict blamed for killing more than 250,000, is worse than the beheaders of the Islamic State or the global-terrorism plotters of Al Qaeda? Does President Obama really think that some surgical “regime change” in Damascus can be executed without collapsing the Syrian government and clearing the way for an Islamic State/Al Qaeda victory? Is that a gamble worth taking?

President Obama needs to ask those questions to the State Department’s neocons and liberal interventionists emplaced by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who like Israel’s leaders positively lust for Assad’s demise. “Regime change” in Syria has been on the Israeli/neocon to-do list since at least the mid-1990s and the neocon idea last decade was that Assad’s overthrow would immediately follow the Iraq “regime change” in 2003, except the Iraq scheme didn’t work out exactly as planned.

But there may be some reason to hope. After all, Obama showed courage in overcoming the strong resistance of the neocons to the recent nuclear deal with Iran. So, he may have the intelligence and stamina to face them down again, although you wouldn’t know it from his recent rhetoric, which panders to the war hawks’ arguments even as he resists their most dangerous action plans.

At his news conference on Friday, Obama said, “in my discussions with President Putin, I was very clear that the only way to solve the problem in Syria is to have a political transition that is inclusive — that keeps the state intact, that keeps the military intact, that maintains cohesion, but that is inclusive — and the only way to accomplish that is for Mr. Assad to transition [out], because you cannot rehabilitate him in the eyes of Syrians. This is not a judgment I’m making; it is a judgment that the overwhelming majority of Syrians make.”

But Obama did not explain how he knew what “the overwhelming majority of Syrians” want. Many Syrians especially the Christians, Alawites, Shiites and secular Sunnis appear to see Assad and his military as their protectors, the last bulwark against the horror of a victory by the Islamic State or Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which is a major player in the so-called “Army of Conquest,” as both groups make major gains across Syria.

Obama’s cavalier notion, as expressed at the news conference, that “regime changes” are neat and tidy, easily performed without unintended consequences, suggests a sophomoric understanding of the world that is stunning for a U.S. president in office for more than 6 ½ years, especially since he adopted a similar approach toward Libya, which now has descended into violent anarchy.

Obama must realize that the alternative to Assad is both risky and grim and some of the suggestions coming from presidential candidate Clinton and other hawks for a U.S. imposition of a “no-fly zone” over parts of Syria would not only be a clear violation of international law but could create a direct military clash with nuclear-armed Russia. This time, the President may have to get down off his high horse and substitute a reality-based foreign policy for his rhetorical flourishes.

Yet, it is an open question whether Obama has become captive to his own propaganda, such as his obsession with Syria’s use of “barrel bombs” in attacking rebel strongholds, as if this crude home-made weapon were some uniquely cruel device unlike the hundreds of thousands of tons of high explosives that the United States has dropped on Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other countries in the last dozen years.

Does Obama really think that his “humanitarian” bombs and those given to U.S. “allies” such as Saudi Arabia and Israel don’t kill innocents? In just the past week, a Saudi airstrike inside Yemen reportedly killed some 131 people at a wedding and an apparent U.S. attack in Kunduz, Afghanistan, blasted a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders, killing at least 22 people.

(By contrast, too, The New York Times treated the Kunduz atrocity gingerly, with the cautious headline, “US Is Blamed After Bombs Hit Afghan Hospital,” noting that Defense Secretary Ashton Carter extended his “thoughts and prayers to everyone afflicted” and added that a full investigation is under way in coordination with Afghanistan’s government to “determine exactly what happened.” Surely, we can expect the slaughter to be dismissed as some unavoidable “accident” or a justifiable case of “collateral damage.”)

With Obama, one cannot exclude the possibility that he has become so infatuated with his soaring words that he actually believes what he told the West Point graduating class on May 28, 2014; but if he does, someone needs to give him a quick reality check. He told the graduates:

“In fact, by most measures, America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world. Those who argue otherwise … are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics. … So the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed and it will be true for the century to come.”

How We Got Here

The world could have taken a very different direction after the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, the evaporation of the Warsaw Pact in February 1991, and the breakup of the Soviet Union in December 1991. Those developments left the United States in a virtually unchallenged position of power — and wise leaders might have seized the opportunity to wind down the world’s excessive investment in military hardware and war-like solutions.

But the U.S. government chose a different course, one of “permanent” global hegemony with American troops as the world’s “armed-up” policemen. Gulf War I, led by the United States in January-February 1991 to punish Iraq for invading Kuwait the previous summer, injected steroids into leading arrogant neocons like Paul Wolfowitz already awash in hubris.

Shortly after that war, Gen. Wesley Clark recalled Wolfowitz (then Undersecretary of Defense for Policy) explaining the thinking: “We learned [from Gulf War I] that we can use our military in the region, in the Middle East, and the Soviets won’t stop us. And we’ve got about five or ten years to clean up those old Soviet client regimes Syria, Iran, Iraq before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.”

Clark highlighted this comment in an Oct. 3, 2007 speech, apparently thinking this might somehow enhance his credentials as a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination (see this highly instructive eight-minute excerpt).

Clark added that neocons like Bill Kristol and Richard Perle “could hardly wait to finish Iraq so they could move into Syria. … It was a policy coup. Wolfowitz, [Vice President Dick] Cheney, [Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld, and you could name a half-dozen other collaborators from the Project for a New American Century. They wanted us to destabilize the Middle East, turn it upside down, make it under our control.” [See’s “Neocon ‘Chaos Promotion’ in the Mideast.”]

The ideology of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) was summarized in a 90-page report published in 2000 and titled, Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces, and Resources For a New Century, which advocated a Pax Americana enforced by the “preeminence of U.S. military forces.”

The report emphasized that the fall of the Soviet Union left the U.S. the world’s preeminent superpower, adding that the U.S. must work hard, not only to maintain that position, but to spread its military might into geographic areas that are ideologically opposed to its influence, subduing countries that may stand in the way of U.S. global preeminence.

PNAC’s dogma, in turn, had antecedents in “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” a study written in 1996 for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he was running for the election of his first government. That study was chaired by arch-neocon Richard Perle, who later served as Chair of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s Defense Policy Board (2001-2003); the majority of the study contributors were also prominent American neocons.

Here’s what Perle and associates, many of whom later found influential posts in the Bush/Cheney administration, had to say on Syria: “Given the nature of the regime in Damascus, it is both natural and moral that Israel abandon the slogan ‘comprehensive peace’ and move to contain Syria, drawing attention to its weapons of mass destruction program [sic], and rejecting ‘land for peace’ deals on the Golan Heights. …

“Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.”

Why Won’t Assad Do What He’s Told?

Given the hangover from the neocon binge during the Bush/Cheney years, one might say that President Obama was “under the influence” when he began calling for Assad to “step aside” in August 2011. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chimed in, too, telling ABC, “Assad must go the sooner the better for everyone concerned.”

The violence in 2011 was the catalyst for the civil war as Assad’s forces cracked down on an “Arab Spring” uprising that while largely peaceful included extremist elements who killed police and ambushed troops. But the repeated unconditional-surrender demands from Secretary Clinton and other U.S. leaders that “Assad must go,” plus “covert” U.S. support for rebels fighting against Syrian government forces, surely raised expectations that Assad would bow out, making the capture of Damascus a promising prize for a variety of Sunni militants.

Particularly pathetic has been Washington’s benighted, keystone-cops support for so-called “moderate” rebels an embarrassing fiasco if there ever was one. For a while, the “mainstream media” actually was taking note of this disaster within a disaster, after the Pentagon recently acknowledged that its $500 million project had produced only four or five fighters still in the field.

Even earlier, President Obama recognized the fallacy in this approach. In August 2014, he told New York Times’ columnist Thomas Friedman that trust in rebel “moderates” was a “fantasy” that was “never in the cards” as a workable strategy. But Obama bent to political and media pressure to “do something.”

As journalist Robert Parry pointed out, “Official Washington’s most treasured ‘fantasy’ is the notion that a viable ‘moderate opposition’ exists in Syria or could somehow be created. That wish-upon-a-star belief was the centerpiece of congressional [approval in September 2014 of] a $500 million plan by President Barack Obama to train and arm these ‘moderate’ rebels.”

Even Pentagon-friend Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies recently conceded that “what is very clearly not happening is there has not been any meaningful military action or success on the part of any of the rebels that we have trained.”

Cordesman described the state of play in Syria as “convoluted,” noting that “In addition to Iran’s involvement in the conflict, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have all sponsored armed groups in Syria, making it a surreal proxy playground, even by Middle East standards.”

Yet, this past week, the “moderate” Syrian rebels sprang back to prominence, at least in the mainstream U.S. media, when Russian planes began bombing targets associated with the Army of Conquest, a coalition which is dominated by Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front. This militant coalition suddenly was redefined as “moderate,” as part of the argument that Russia should only be attacking Islamic State targets.

The U.S. media also has downplayed where the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh) came from. It was an outgrowth of the Sunni resistance to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 when the group was known as “Al Qaeda in Iraq.” It later splintered off from Al Qaeda over a tactical dispute, whether a fundamentalist Sunni caliphate should be started now (the ISIS view) or whether the focus should be on mounting terror attacks against the West (Al Qaeda’s view.)

Putin Chides US Failures

Putin reminded the world of this embarrassing history and other damaging consequences of U.S. interventionism during his Sept. 28 speech to the UN General Assembly when he noted: “The so-called Islamic State has tens of thousands of militants fighting for it, including former Iraqi soldiers who were left on the street after the 2003 invasion.

“Many recruits come from Libya whose statehood was destroyed as a result of a gross violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1973. And now radical groups are joined by members of the so-called ‘moderate’ Syrian opposition backed by the West. They get weapons and training, and then they defect and join the so-called Islamic State. …

“I’d like to tell those who engage in this: Gentlemen, the people you are dealing with are cruel but they are not dumb. They are as smart as you are. So, it’s a big question: who’s playing whom here? The recent incident where the most ‘moderate’ opposition group handed over their weapons to terrorists is a vivid example of that.”

The UN speech was not the first time Putin complained about the way U.S. officials have presented the factual circumstances of the Syrian conflict. On Sept. 5, 2013, he publicly accused Secretary of State John Kerry of lying to Congress in exaggerating the strength of “moderate” rebels in Syria.

Alluding to Kerry’s congressional testimony, Putin said: “This was very unpleasant and surprising for me. We talk to them [the Americans], and we assume they are decent people, but he is lying and he knows that he is lying. This is sad.” [See’s “Rebuilding the Obama-Putin Trust.”]

But the pretense continues. Obama knows only too well the sorry state of the handful of intrepid “moderates” that may still be operating within Syria. By the same token, he does not need Putin to tell him of the danger from ISIS or Al Qaeda if these Sunni extremists (either separately or together) march into Damascus.

So the question becomes: Will Obama bring himself to see Russian military intervention as a positive step toward stabilizing Syria and creating the chance for a political settlement or will he cling to the “Assad must go” precondition, rejecting Russia’s help and risking an ISIS/Al Qaeda victory?

This Time the Russians Can Stop Us

There is another element here, creating an even graver risk. It is no longer 1991 when the triumphant neocons brushed aside hopes for global military de-escalation and instead pressed for worldwide U.S. military dominance. Under Putin, Russia has made clear that it will no longer sit back and let U.S. and NATO tighten a vise around Russia’s borders.

Regarding its “front yard” in Ukraine, Putin has sharply admonished those in the West who “want the Ukrainian government to destroy … all political opponents and adversaries [in eastern Ukraine]. Is that what you want? That’s not what we want and we won’t allow that to happen.”

Putin’s deployment of aircraft and other arms to Assad reflects a similar attitude toward events in Syria, which Russia considers part of its backyard. The message is clear: “Overthrow Assad with the prospect of a terrorist victory? We won’t allow that to happen.”

The risk here, however, is that the American neocons and liberal interventionists remain drunk on their dreams of a permanent U.S. global hegemony that doesn’t broach any rivalry from Russia, China or any other potential challenger to America’s “full-spectrum dominance.” If these war hawks don’t sober up and if Obama remains their reluctant enabler the chances that the crises in Ukraine or Syria could escalate into a nuclear showdown cannot be ignored.

Thus, Russia’s move last week was truly a game-changer; and Putin is no longer playing games. One can only hope Obama can break free from the belligerent neocons and liberal war hawks. [For more on this topic, see’s “Obama Tolerates the Warmongers.”]

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. During his 27-years as a CIA analyst, he served as chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch, and prepared and personally conducted early morning one-on-one briefings of the President’s Daily Brief.  In January 2013, he co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

27 comments for “The Hope Behind Putin’s Syria Help

  1. Mortimer
    October 7, 2015 at 12:17

    “US should retaliate and disarm Russians in Syria.” — Zibig Brzezinski

    • F. G. Sanford
      October 7, 2015 at 19:44

      White House insiders noted that the meeting was cut short when doctors from Walter Reed Army Medical Center insisted, “Mr. Brzezinski must be re-wrapped, returned to his sarcophagus and refrigerated as soon as possible”. Although attendees were unaware of any overt signs of decomposition, some reporters were curious about the distinct aroma of formaldehyde permeating the conference room. Josh Earnest was not available for further comment.

  2. dahoit
    October 6, 2015 at 10:40

    Putin throws wrench into Western and Zionist destabilization scheme of pure evil.

  3. Mortimer
    October 5, 2015 at 16:17

    Will Russians rush into the forsaken remnants of former Syrian homes/casements after securing Syrian victory over US/jihadi – death squads?
    (No, that Syria/Lebanon of the beautiful poet Kahlil Gibran has been destroyed.

    Will Russians have faced down, this go-around, those same US paid ‘mujahideen’ – who “forced their retreat” from Afghanistan in 1989 as well as the collapse of the Soviet Union?

    Will the answer to those questions cross over to Clinton’s decimation of the Republic of Yugoslavia, by any means…?

    can we not keep up with the destructions…?

  4. Robert Redwoodhippie Palmer
    October 5, 2015 at 16:04

    Thank you Ray for another excellent analysis of the neocon forces at play in our poorly led nation. Our country is now the greatest threat to peace. Obama does come off as a weak President when he makes such ridiculous demands as peace is only possible with Assad gone. Indeed as Saddam held together Iraq it so does Assad. The United States neocon corporate lead state should stop exporting war, however too many are making money with this export. If the people would only wake up. Thank you for your efforts to help us grow peace. We are only one species on one planet and we ought to learn to live as brothers among diverse cultures and with respect for other species as well. This is the only sustainable future.

  5. Bill Bodden
    October 5, 2015 at 14:24

    A second from Patrick Cockburn, one of the more knowledgeable and astute correspondents in the Middle East: “Why We Should Welcome Russia’s Entry Into Syrian War” by Patrick Cockburn –

    Thank you, Ray, for letting us know Ashton Carter’s thoughts and prayers are with the Kunduz victims. It reminds me of when I was a little boy and got hurt my mother would kiss my boo-boo. It was a great help, and I’m sure Secretary Carter’s thoughts and prayers will relieve a lot of pain in that benighted land.

    • BobS
      October 7, 2015 at 10:28

      It’s no secret to anyone reading this, but in a sane world Counterpunch and Consortium (and not the NY Times and Washington Post) would be driving the national dialogue.
      The War Party should be paying attention to the ‘sage’ words of Paul Wolfowitz who predicted the US only had “about five or ten years” to create it’s “Empire of Chaos” (thanks to Pepe Escobar, also required reading for anyone wanting to understand the state of the world). We’re nearly 25 years out from when Wolfowitz made that statement — it’s time to back the fuck out.

  6. Ozoemelam
    October 5, 2015 at 12:37

    Comment * Praise to Russians, Putin has shown to the world that Russia is capable of stablising Syria and fighting jihadists with no exception.

  7. W. R. Knight
    October 5, 2015 at 07:48

    “in my discussions with President Putin, I was very clear that the only way to solve the problem in Syria is to have a political transition that is inclusive — that keeps the state intact, that keeps the military intact, that maintains cohesion, but that is inclusive — and the only way to accomplish that is for Mr. Assad to transition [out], because you cannot rehabilitate him in the eyes of Syrians. This is not a judgment I’m making; it is a judgment that the overwhelming majority of Syrians make.”

    I wonder when he last talked to the overwhelming majority of Syrians.

    • Ash
      October 5, 2015 at 21:31

      Snort. No kidding. He’s more popular with his people than any of our “leaders” are over here. (Same goes for Putin, for that matter.)

  8. Peter Loeb
    October 5, 2015 at 06:28


    On February 22, 2014, the UN Security Council UNANIMOUSLY
    supported S/Res/2139/(2014). In point # 14 of this declatartion
    the resolution stated with force that no political remedy
    would be feasible until ALL “terrorists” and “foreigners ”
    in the sovereign member state of Syria were defeated.
    No particular group of foreigners or terrorists was to be

    It should be noted that “regime change” is not recognized
    by (UN) international law.

    Despite the facts, the US government continued with its
    rhetoric that “regime change” in Syria (Bashar Assad)
    is virtually the only remedy that could be possible.
    More rhetoric in defiance of a unanimous UN Security
    Council agreement. (Of course, the public in the west
    was never ever to know of S/Res/2l39 (2014), point # 14.

    What “game” has changed? The changed “game” is
    the public rhetoric of the US and Israel. Before the
    collapse of the B. Assad regime was immanent. Perhaps
    only weeks away.

    Suddenly (or so it seemed) Russia is in the “game”.
    By US-Israeli standards Russia has no inalienable
    right to become involved or in any way, however
    feebly, to challenge US hegemony. Not even on its
    own borders.

    But Russia did and in addition proposed a draft
    resolution. (That will undoubtedly be vetoed by
    the US but will force the US to come up with
    a reason for their refusal.)

    All nations—repeat ALL–have many levels
    of interest. All have their own self-interests.
    This applies to Russia as well as the US and

    The US and Israel began this “game” with
    planned actions calculated on assumptions
    of what might happen.

    A Russian entry was never seriously
    considered despite the unanimous Security
    Council resolution referred to.

    At any rate, both the US and Israel consider
    themselves above the law and only refer to
    international law when they choose. Otherwise
    they are accustomed to doing as they please
    protected by divinity, racial supremacy and
    other similar unarguable protections
    derived from centuries of colonialism

    —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  9. October 5, 2015 at 04:50

    I want to join the praise of this important compendium about the background of the Syrian conflict. One could have added that the master plan is to destabilize Syria, followed by Iran, followed by Central Asia and the southern provinces of the Russian Federation with a sizable Muslim population. It appears that this is a push from south to north with the ultimate target being Russia.

    But this geopolitical master plan can as well be discussed in a following article and I’m looking forward to read it.

  10. onno
    October 5, 2015 at 04:18

    This excellent article and the following comments illustrate the complexities of Middle East. USA like in Vietnam, Iraq, Libya and most other military interventions in the world ( about 210 of the 230 military conflicts were US made) to destabilize nations and when the conflict runs out of hands USA withdraws its troops and leave the human catastrophe and a nation in financial disarray behind. This is US democracy at the hands of the US defense industry.

    Like Putin said when is USA learning from its errors or they must be so stupid and/or arrogant in Washington that they are blinded by their own imperial ambitions causing its own isolation. No wonder US is trying to prevent this with its secret Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with EU and the Trans Pacific Partnership in the hope they can dominate these countries with threats and economic catastrophes. When is Washington realizing that its worldwide Empire has collapsed under the hands of a chess player like Putin and Xi Jinping

  11. Hugh Beaumont
    October 4, 2015 at 22:20

    Obama is saying things today that are so inane, you wonder if he’s not doing it for the mere joy of being arrogant.

  12. Michael
    October 4, 2015 at 21:28

    The Russians seem back on their (chess) game and Putin is playing with a strong hand. There had to be much discussion and a long lead time before Russia committed fresh military force in Syria. Boldly increasing forces just as France, Britain, Turkey and others began bombing campaigns of their own was a seemingly quick reaction by a frustrated suitor unless one believes that this move was modeled long ago, as I do. Note that Russian oil production has reached record highs. A little more tension in the area, a jump in oil prices and Russian finances improve dramatically and the cost of the intervention is minimal, the benefits profound.

    • DON
      October 6, 2015 at 16:51

      Absolutely ‘SPOT-ON’, Michael.

  13. ltr
    October 4, 2015 at 21:18

    Every word is sensible and compelling.

  14. Larry
    October 4, 2015 at 21:12

    The tripartite U.S.-Israel-Saudi Arabia alliance (maybe with Turkey as junior partner) obviously is supporting Sunni extremists for the alliance’s own reason. That reason now is to shrink and shatter Syria and Shiite Iraq, as well as to humble, defang, and destabilize Iran later.

    Right now the tripartite alliance us focusing on exploiting the crisis in Syria and Shiite Iraq. This part of the alliance strategy is well underway and so far successful. As a reaction and response to this crisis, Syria, Shiite Iraq, and Iran (plus Lebanon’s Hezbollah) are using valuable resources and manpower to prevent the accomplishment of the tripartite alliance’s goals.

    Once Syria has fallen and Shiite Iraq is significantly enough weakened, the tripartite alliance will turn its full attention to further weakening and thereby destabilizing Iran.

    Once that is accomplished, though it might take significant military action on the part of the tripartite alliance to do so, the tripartite alliance will then finally turn all its energies against the Sunni extremists who were the driving engine of the successes of the first stages of the tripartite alliance’s strategy.

    That way, Israel and Saudi Arabia will be spared being overwhelmed by the momentum and military expertise accumulated by Sunni extremists as they overtook Syria and divided and conquered a large part of Iraq.

    The overall strategy described above is very similar to the U.S. playing both sides in the Iran-Iraq war, helping and turning against each side at different stages of the conflict.

    The U.S. empire is very patient and develops long-range strategies far beyond the abilities of its enemies to do so. Saudi Arabia’s wealth and its oil in the ground allow them to plan more long-range as well.

    And as we all know, we have always been at war with Mideast Asia.

    • October 5, 2015 at 04:43

      I mostly agree with the comment, but it doesn’t appear that Turkey is a junior partner in the mentioned alliance.

      Iran is not the final stop, Iran is the door to Central Asia (the “…stans”) and the southern provinces of Russia with a sizable Muslim population.

      • Just
        October 11, 2015 at 05:09

        So True.

  15. F. G. Sanford
    October 4, 2015 at 20:32

    But…but…but, Paul Pillar said the Russians are doing the same thing as the Saudis. (Please see my comment regarding subversive Catholic School Nuns and sentence diagramming under his last piece.) Much has been made of the “four or five moderates” to the tune of $500 million, but little has been mentioned of the 10,000 financed by fungible CIA assets since 2011 comprising 1/15 of their supervised [sic] budget. Those, by admission, weren’t “moderates”. They cost us at least a billion dollars a year. Wurmser, Perle, Wolfowitz, Cheney et al cleverly engaged in the most likely death penalty offense at Nuremberg, and it wasn’t “genocide”. The current administration and its Neocon instigators are likewise still engaged. The “proxy army” concept has been widely reported in alternative media, but it was still a “shocking revelation” to most Americans when they heard about it on CNN last week. International law has been flushed down the sewer of moral indifference, and the only way to escape ‘Victors’ Justice’ is to double down. Spanish galleons, dreadnaught battleships and aircraft carriers all occupy the same place of pride in historical perspective: obsolescence. Realistic battle-planning scenarios leave two options: nuclear confrontation or rational diplomacy. But an apparent “deal” was struck in order to gain Turkish acquiescence to Incirlik air base. That doesn’t bode well for the latter. And after all, Russia isn’t a “superpower” anymore [sic]. So, we’ve got ISIS wanting in-theater butchery and establishment of a “caliphate”, and Al Qaida wanting to strike out with international terrorism. Russia wants to smash them both. That would cost the Neocons their plans for future destabilizations, and they’d have to sacrifice their real goal. That obviously isn’t retribution for an Al Qaida terrorist attack fourteen years ago. Maybe they’re thinking General Buck Turgidson had a point: “We might get our hair mussed. Twenty million casualties max!” Putin’s understandable bravado almost makes me think he’s got his hands on a smoking gun…or something. Interesting times, indeed. Thanks, Ray!

  16. Zachary Smith
    October 4, 2015 at 18:27

    So the question becomes: Will Obama bring himself to see Soviet military intervention as a positive step toward stabilizing Syria and creating the chance for a political settlement or will he cling to the “Assad must go” precondition, rejecting Russia’s help and risking an ISIS/Al Qaeda victory?

    In my opinion an even better question is whether or not BHO’s handlers will permit him a bit of wiggle room. I remain convinced the man is merely a puppet, assuming he’s not a full-blown neocon who is pretending not to be.

    This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq – an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right – as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.

    As we know, Israel manipulated the US to get rid of Saddam for them. Call me paranoid if you wish, but it’s my best guess Israel was up to its ears in the 2001 attacks. A nation which tries to murder the entire crew of a US navy ship has already demonstrated it doesn’t give a solitary damn about American lives.

    Surely, we can expect the slaughter to be dismissed as some unavoidable “accident” or a justifiable case of “collateral damage

    The “justifiable” line is the one I expect will be chosen. Already the Washington Post is peddling that one – the link is the second article on the subject from that newspaper I’ve seen today.

    Still, for at least a few days the “bombing innocent civilians” BS is likely to be muted.

    …as his obsession with Syria’s use of “barrel bombs” in attacking rebel strongholds…

    I just found out that Barrel Bombs has a wiki, and I read there that Israel was the first known place where these weapons were used. Against Palestinian civilians in 1948, naturally. Next usage was by the US in Vietnam. Syria is definitely a late comer to this game. But barrel bombs are a unique evil when used in Syria. Naturally.

    • Greg Bartik
      October 4, 2015 at 19:29

      Soviet intervention? Error.
      Great article by great author.
      Want to.hear what came out of Ray’s arrest in NYC recently

      • Skip Edwards
        October 4, 2015 at 20:06

        I have said this before and I will say it again, “Obama is a fraud and a coward.” He is afraid of saying or doing anything against the real powers in Washington, DC, because as he said at that White House dinner when liberal democrats asked why he has not lived up to his promises. He said something like, remember what happened to MLK? He is a fraud because he has known for a long time that he is a puppet of those same powers and is in this for recognition as the first black president and for the wealth he has been promised if he “plays the game” as instructed. Let us hope the same replay is not happening with Bernie Sanders. I think, and hope, not; but fool us once……and the neo’s have been using the same play book since Reagan. Let’s hope with all that is in us that Bernie is not the next Trojan Horse!

        • Wayne Chirnside
          October 7, 2015 at 23:13

          My same exact concern.
          Or next JFK barring the first.

    • Ash
      October 5, 2015 at 21:35

      “In my opinion an even better question is whether or not BHO’s handlers will permit him a bit of wiggle room. I remain convinced the man is merely a puppet, assuming he’s not a full-blown neocon who is pretending not to be.”

      I think it’s become clear over time that he’s both. While I don’t believe he could meaningfully move the needle on the overall agenda even if he wanted to, I also don’t believe that he’s not fully on board. He carries out his role willingly and sometimes even enthusiastically.

    • Steve
      October 13, 2015 at 14:11

      I certainly won’t call you paranoid about your view of the 9-11 story. The attacks on the USS Liberty (if my memory is correct on the name), an unarmed intelligence ship, was clearly meant to murder all of it’s crew (witnesses) with not a peep out of Washington, oh unless you count asking Israel if it would be OK to hold a ceremony for medal awards in a HIGH SCHOOL for the survivors….rather than the White House! BTW…criticizing Israel does not equate to antisemitism….Netanyahu is criticized in Israel’s newspapers frequently.
      I have nothing to add to Ray McGovern or Robert Parry other than THANK YOU so much for the opportunity to read the truth about what we are doing as a monstrously armed country that thinks it has the right to meddle in the lives and affairs of other countries….and of course writing off the collateral damage that is just to be expected and accepted…..and demonizing Putin for anything he does! I would not have known the issues that are really going on in Ukraine if not for Consortium news. I have tremendous respect and admiration for “Bob and Ray”….enough said. Now, I will check my bank balance to see how much I can afford to give for support of this wonderful news source!

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