Obama Boots Syrian Peace Chance

Exclusive: President Obama thinks he can appease the neocons and liberal hawks by talking tough about Syria and Russia but in doing so he is throwing away a promising opportunity to resolve the Syrian conflict, plus he still gets bashed by Official Washington’s pundits, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

President Barack Obama is turning his back on possibly the last best chance to resolve the bloody Syrian war because he fears a backlash from Official Washington’s powerful coalition of neoconservatives and “liberal interventionists” along with their foreign fellow-travelers: Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf sheikdoms.

The route toward peace would be to collaborate with Russia and Iran to get Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to accept a power-sharing unity government that would fairly represent Syria’s major religious and ethnic groups Christians, Alawites, Shiites and moderate Sunnis along with a commitment for free, internationally monitored elections once adequate security is restored.

Saudi King Salman meets with President Barack Obama at Erga Palace during a state visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Saudi King Salman meets with President Barack Obama at Erga Palace during a state visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

But for such an arrangement to work, Obama also would have to crack down aggressively on U.S. regional “allies” to ensure that they stopped funding, supplying and otherwise assisting the Sunni extremist forces including Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the Islamic State (or ISIS). Obama would have to confront the Sunni “allies” including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey as well as Israel.

His pressure would have to include stern action aimed at the global finances of the Gulf states i.e., seizing their assets as punishment for their continuing support for terrorism as well as similar sanctions against Turkey, possibly ousting it from NATO if it balked, and a withdrawal of political and financial support for Israel if it continued helping Nusra fighters and viewing Al Qaeda as the “lesser evil” in Syria. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia and Israel.”]

Obama also would have to make it clear to Syria’s “moderate” Sunni politicians whom the U.S. government has been subsidizing for the past several years that they must sit down with Assad’s representatives and work out a unity government or the American largesse would end.

This combination of strong international pressure on the Sunni terror infrastructure and strong-arming internal players in Syria into a unity government could isolate the Sunni extremists from Al Qaeda and the Islamic State and thus minimize the need for military strikes whether carried out by Russia (against both Al Qaeda and ISIS) or the U.S. coalition (focusing on ISIS).

And, the arrival of Russian military support for the Assad government as well as the increased backing from Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah represented the moment when the prospect for peace was brightest, whatever one thinks of those various players. However, instead of working with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, President Obama chose to bend to the pressures of Official Washington.

Appeasing the Warmongers

Thinking he had stretched the tolerance of neocons and liberal hawks as far as he could by pushing through the nuclear deal with Iran, Obama fell in line behind their propagandistic denunciations of Assad and Putin. Obama’s administration joined in promoting the new favorite “group think” of Washington that Putin had promised to only bomb the Islamic State and then reneged by attacking “moderate” rebels and their more powerful ally, Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

Conveniently, this storyline doesn’t cite the wording of Putin’s supposed “promise” although some articles do mention him vowing to attack “terrorist” groups, which the mainstream U.S. news media has interpreted as the Islamic State only. But this odd framing accepts the breathtaking premise that Al Qaeda is no longer a terrorist organization apparently rehabilitated by the fact that Israel has been helping Al Qaeda’s affiliate, the Nusra Front, along the Golan Heights and prefers it to Assad’s continued rule. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Should US Ally with Al Qaeda in Syria?”]

Among the many purveyors of this “Putin lied” narrative is Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, who on Tuesday repeated the canard that Putin had “promised” to strike only the Islamic State and then broke that promise. For good measure, Cohen added that the Russians had “invaded” Syria although they were formally invited by the recognized government of Syria.

“Yes, the Russians did invade,” Cohen wrote. “They sent war planes, mechanized units and even troops into Syria. They have begun bombing missions, apparently hitting insurgents seeking to topple Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and not only, as Russian President Vladimir Putin promised, Islamic State units. Putin surprise! lied.”

Normally in journalism, before we accuse someone of lying, we show what they actually said and contrast it with the facts. But Official Washington has long since moved Putin into the free-fire zone of demonization. Anything can be said about him, whether based in reality or not, and anyone who objects to this “group think” is called a “Putin bootlicker” or a “Putin apologist.”

Thus, any reality-based skepticism is ruled out of the frame of debate. Such was the way that the United States plunged blindly into the Iraq War in 2003 when Saddam Hussein was the demonized figure and the Europeans who warned President George W. Bush not to invade were laughed at as “Euro-weenies.” American skeptics were “Saddam apologists.”

Inside-Out ‘Logic’

Cohen is back at it again in his Tuesday column, which on the Internet has the curious title “The High Cost of Avoiding War in Syria.” Cohen throws around the word “invasion” where Russia is involved even when there was no “invasion” but he advocates an actual U.S. invasion with cavalier hypocrisy.

Cohen slams Obama for not having established “a no-fly zone” in Syria earlier, which would have involved the United States bombing and destroying Syria’s air force, a clear act of aggression and an obvious boon to Al Qaeda and ISIS.

Cohen also says he was for “arming the rebels,” another violation of international law which when tried by Obama to appease the drumbeat from Cohen and his ilk led to many U.S.-trained and U.S.-armed rebels taking their equipment and skills to Al Qaeda and ISIS.

Yet, Cohen — on the prized opinion real estate of The Washington Post’s op-ed page and in his nationally syndicated column — unapologetically encourages an illegal invasion of another country while condemning Russia for doing the same except that Russia was following international law by working with the sovereign government of Syria and therefore has not “invaded” Syria.

We also are supposed to forget that Cohen’s ideas would benefit Sunni jihadists, such as the Al Qaeda-dominated “Army of Conquest” which could use the “no-fly zones” to mount a victorious offensive to capture Damascus and create a humanitarian crisis even worse than now.

Possibly with ISIS chopping off the heads of “infidels” Christians, Alawites, Shiites, etc. and with Al Qaeda having a new home in the center of the Middle East to plot terror strikes on the West, Cohen’s plan might necessitate a major U.S. military intervention that would get even more people killed and deal the final death blow to the American Republic.

In evaluating Cohen’s lame-brained double-think, it is worth remembering that he was one of the many U.S. opinion leaders who cheered on Secretary of State Colin Powell’s deceptive Iraq War speech to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003. Waving “we-love-Colin” pompoms alongside all his esteemed colleagues, Cohen laughed at anyone who still doubted that Saddam Hussein possessed hidden WMD stockpiles.

“The evidence he [Powell] presented to the United Nations some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn’t accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them,” Cohen wrote. “Only a fool or possibly a Frenchman could conclude otherwise.”

Ha-ha, did you get that clever line “Only a fool or possibly a Frenchman” pretty funny except that by heaping ridicule on those of us who doubted Powell’s evidence, Cohen contributed to the deaths of some 4,500 U.S. soldiers, the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, the cost to U.S. taxpayers of more than $1 trillion, and chaos now spreading across not just the Middle East but into Europe.

In a normal place where there was some modicum of accountability, you would have expected Cohen to be banished to Storage Room B with his red stapler or worse. But no, Cohen is back running with the same juvenile in-crowd, behaving just as stupidly and just as recklessly as he has many times in the past.

Obama Intimidated

But the larger problem is that President Obama appears intimidated by this collection of know-it-alls who preen across the editorial pages of The Washington Post and The New York Times or who hold down prestigious “fellowships” at the Brookings Institution or other big-name think tanks or who self-identify as “human rights activists” advocating “humanitarian” wars.

Arguably, Obama has always had an outsized regard for people with establishment credentials. It is, after all, how he rose through the ranks as first an extremely bright academic and later a talented orator and politician. Without family connections or personal wealth, he needed the approval of various influential individuals. If he offended them in some way, he risked being pigeonholed as “an angry black man.”

Indeed, the comedy duo Key & Peele developed a series of funny skits with Jordan Peele playing the always proper and controlled Obama and Keegan-Michael Key as “anger translator Luther.” Obama even invited “Luther” to translate Obama’s speech to the 2015 White House Correspondents Dinner, except that by the end of that talk Obama was expressing his own anger and Luther peeled away.

The problem in the real world is that Obama remains cowed by the Important People of Washington represented in that oh-so-important crowd at the dinner and bows to their misguided thinking.

Obama also is facing a beefed-up lobbying operation for Saudi Arabia to go along with the always formidable Israel Lobby. The Intercept reported that in September the Saudi kingdom added to its large stable of thoroughbred influence-peddlers by signing “Edelman, the largest privately owned public relations agency in the world [and] the  Podesta Group a lobbying firm founded by Tony Podesta, a major fundraiser for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.”

Indeed, the repressive Saudi kingdom may need some special P.R. help as it prepares to behead Ali Mohammed al-Nimr whose body would then be attached to a cross or otherwise displayed in a crucifixion that would leave his corpse to rot for several days as a warning to others. Al-Nimr is a Shiite who at the age of 17 in 2012 participated in a pro-democracy demonstration that was viewed as an affront to the monarchy.

The Saudis also have been waging a ruthless air war against impoverished Yemen, attacking Houthis who stem from a branch of Shia Islam which Saudi Sunni Wahhabism considers apostasy. The Saudi bombing campaign, which recently killed some 131 celebrants at a wedding inside Yemen, gets intelligence and logistical support from the Obama administration even though the slaughter of Houthis has benefited their Yemeni rivals, “Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” who have gained ground behind the Saudi air offensive.

Diverting Attention

Yet, the Saudis’ P.R. battalions along with the Israel Lobby have kept Official Washington’s focus in other directions. Indeed, there are now so many false or dubious narratives dis-informing the capital’s “group think” that U.S. decisions are driven more by mythology than facts.

Obama could begin the process of restoring sanity to Washington by declassifying U.S. intelligence analyses on several key issues. For instance, Obama could release what’s now known about the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin gas attack outside Damascus.

After that attack, there was a rush to judgment at the State Department and within the mainstream U.S. news media to blame that atrocity on Assad’s forces, although I’m told that CIA analysts have since moved away from that view and now agree that the attack was likely a provocation designed to draw the U.S. military into the war on the side of the Sunni jihadists. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case.”]

Though Obama and other officials have dropped the sarin accusations from their public speeches harping instead on “barrel bombs” as if those homemade weapons are some uniquely evil device Obama has refused to retract the sarin allegations which helped shape the hyper-hostile “conventional wisdom” against Assad.

Similarly, Obama has withheld U.S. intelligence information about the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, letting stand hasty accusations blaming Putin. Obama appears infatuated by the trendy concept of “strategic communications” or “Stratcom,” which blends psy-ops, propaganda and P.R. into one noxious brew to poison public opinion about one’s “enemy.”

With the recent Russian military intervention in Syria, Obama had the chance to correct the record on the sarin-gas attack and the MH-17 shoot-down but instead continued the “Stratcom” both in his United Nations speech and his news conference last Friday with more hyperbolic attacks against Assad and Putin. In doing so, Obama apparently bowed to the desired rhetoric of hardliners like U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power and the editorial-page masters of The Washington Post and The New York Times.

Obama may have hoped his harsh language would appease the neocons and their liberal-hawk pals, but the tough-guy rhetoric has only opened him up to new attacks over the disparity between his words and deeds. As the clueless columnist Richard Cohen wrote, “A no-fly zone needs to be established. It is not too late to do something. By doing so little, the United States has allowed others to do so much.” [Emphasis in original.]

In other words, Cohen appears to want the U.S. military to shoot down Russian planes over Syria, even though the Russians have been invited by the recognized government to be there and the U.S. has not. The minor complication of possible human extinction from a nuclear war apparently is of little consequence when compared to the street cred that one gets from such manly talk.

For Official Washington and apparently Obama the peace option is regarded as unacceptable, i.e., working with Russia and Iran to achieve a power-sharing unity government in Damascus (with the promise of elections as soon as possible) along with the United States demanding from its regional “allies” a complete shutdown of assistance to the Islamic State, Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and all other Sunni jihadists.

That option would require Obama and the neocon/liberal-hawk cowboys to get down off their high horses, admit they have been tossing their lasso in the wrong direction and compromise.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

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31 comments for “Obama Boots Syrian Peace Chance

  1. Noizpost
    October 9, 2015 at 14:37

    C is for the canards, which Robert doth well parry –
    O is for opprobrium, Richard’s screeds do carry –
    H is for the hell we pay, when we fail to doubt ‘em
    E is with the eagerness, shills their lies do shout ‘em,
    N is for a big fat NO, we can’t take more of it –
    Cohen (and all hasbarites), take your pen and ____ it.

  2. Mortimer
    October 8, 2015 at 11:15

    NOT MENTIONED IN US NEWS???
    .

    New realignment in the Middle East
    SEPTEMBER 30, 2015
    By Manish Rai

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to set up a joint team from both countries as Moscow ramps up its military support for Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, who is losing ground to Islamist militants in country’s bloody civil war.

    Israel has set up a joint mechanism with the Russian military to coordinate their operations in Syria and avoid any accidental confrontations between the two. Israeli Prime Minister Mr Netanyahu said the meetings in Moscow were aimed at preventing “misunderstandings” in Syria between the Russian and Israeli military. “We established a mechanism to prevent those misunderstandings” said Mr Netanyahu. Each of the militaries deputy chiefs will hold their first meeting soon and will discuss coordination of aerial, naval and electronic operations around Syria. Israel in the past has occasionally conducted airstrikes in Syria to foil suspected handovers of Russian or Iranian-supplied arms to Assad’s guerrilla allies in Lebanon. The new talks could prevent a showdown between Israel and Russia in the region. This meeting between the two leaders is of potentially great importance and it may change geo-political realignment of the region. This meeting was attended by the head of the IDF, the chief of military intelligence, and their Russian counterparts which clearly illustrates its importance.

    Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) holds a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin at Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem on June 25, 2012. Putin is on an official visit to Israel. Photo by Marc Israel Sellem/POOL/FLASH90
    Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting at Netanyahu’s residence in 2012.
    The two countries have historically been on opposite sides of the Middle East divide, with the former Soviet Union being the principal supplier of military equipment and training for the Egyptian and Syrian armies for decades and Israel was always the main United States ally in the region. However, in the complex situation which has evolved in Syria both Jerusalem and Moscow have defined areas where cooperation can be mutually beneficial. Israel wants to act swiftly for safeguarding its own interests which is more important than pleasing the US government or American Jews.

    What’s happening in the region is part of a renewal of the Cold War. Israel does not want to be engaged in a proxy-war between the US and Russia, such as occurred in Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan, with great disaster for those places. The most obvious reason which concern Israel is its air force’s freedom of action over Syria in curbing arms shipments to Hezbollah in Lebanon and maintaining air surveillance.

    The Russians are amassing a substantial air arm at a base on the Syrian coast and have begun installing ground-to-air missiles, which could pose a formidable threat to Israeli aircraft if there is no coordination. Moreover relation between Israel and Russia was not bad all the time. The Soviet Union was one of the first countries to officially recognize Israel in 1948. There are lots of reasons for the recently improved ties between Russia and Israel, but key among them is the fact that Israel has become increasingly Russian in the past 20 years. Putin is deeply concerned with the wellbeing of Russian nationals wherever they reside, up to and including invading other countries to protect their interests, and 15 percent of Israeli immigrants are from the former Soviet Union.

    Russians can also benefit from good relations with the Israeli. Israel has quality intelligence on everything that is taking place in Syria and as time goes by the Russians might need Israel’s assistance in confronting the complexities of the fighting there. Israeli security sources say they could be in a position to inform the Russians about plans by Syrian rebels to hit Russian military targets or provide information about persons they might be seeking. Financially, Russia is struggling with low oil prices and Western sanctions, and it’s keenly looking for new markets for its armaments, Israel is a generous customer with a large defense budget. Putin desperately wants Russia to be a world power again, to be consequential and at the centre of major global decisions. Russia has good relations with Shia camp led by Iran and after having cordial relations with Israelis as well they will be in position to influence whole region significantly.

    The Russians and the Israelis agreed to establish a hotline between their militaries in order to minimise the chance of their hostile encounter. Efforts are also being made to step-up Russian-Israeli trade relations. Russia and Israel have been in discussions about increasing Israeli agricultural exports to Russia as well as other new economic projects. Russia and Israel launched discussions on the prospects of creating a free-trade zone known as the Customs Union, which would bring together Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Israel. It’s clearly visible now that a new major realignment is emerging in the Middle East. But how it will going to work and its repercussion on the region is has to been seen in the future. But one thing is certain that the shifts in the Mideast equations mark perhaps some of the most dramatic strategic changes in the region since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

    Manish Rai is a columnist for Middle-East and Af-Pak region and Editor of geo-political news agency ViewsAround, He can be reached at manishraiva@gmail.com

    http://www.atimes.com/2015/09/new-realignment-in-the-middle-east/

    • F. G. Sanford
      October 8, 2015 at 22:00

      This potential new trade and cooperation arrangement between Russia and Israel could be a symptom of Lawrence Wilkerson’s assessment. He posits that our allies no longer see us as an even broker or a strategically reliable guarantor of their safety – he avers that this is Japan’s motivation for new posturing regarding military intervention and regional strategic interests. Hedging their bets, according to Wilkerson, as The Empire withers into irrelevance.

  3. Mortimer
    October 8, 2015 at 10:20

    Back in 09 I began musing with an essay I titled, The Vampireization of America. It was an attempt at a comparison of the enormous and silly popularity of the Twilight films in relation to the apathetic concern for US foreign policy.
    Death reigned in the Middle East, in Iraq and in Gaza. The majority was oblivious to this blood letting but was mesmerized and agape with Vampires and Zombies.!
    I imagined the life-blood of the nation being sucked dry with a terribly passive indifference.

    The Palin led “Tea Party” movement became tremendous background noise and the nation endured a terrific structural shift after the 08 presidential election.
    The national life-blood was literally being drained on a number of fronts – economic collapse,
    political collapse, military error – job loss, loss of house and home. It was simply a tumultuous shakeup in America.
    I called it the vampireization of America and, sadly, it continues. Disinformation swirls throughout disparate pockets of political persuasion weakening cohesion — dividing the body politique, slowly sucking/draining the life-blood of The People through the cumulative attrition of negative policy decisions.

    It is great departure from the ignorance when I enter the House of Consortium – to be in the company of Critical Thinkers.
    All of the above comments put me at great ease and repair from the merciless stupidity that engulfs the nation and the vampires that prey upon the ill-informed.

  4. JWalters
    October 7, 2015 at 18:45

    “a withdrawal of political and financial support for Israel” would be needed from Obama.

    It seems to me no single person has the power to do that. The financial, media, and political power exercised by Israel over America is so strong that Israel’s role as a central, ongoing provocation in the region is unmentioned in most American press discussions of this crisis.

    Yes, letting Russia do it would reduce U.S. power there somewhat. It would also indirectly reduce Israel’s power, which would be good. One result might be to strengthen the international peace process.

  5. WG
    October 7, 2015 at 18:04

    Obama could do a lot of things but we all know he’s not going to do anything.

  6. dahoit
    October 7, 2015 at 13:04

    Anyone see the old 48? movie;Intruder in the Dust?Excellent flick,based on a Faulkner novel.In it a black man(Lucas Beauchamp)is accused of killing a white man.The whole white community,(with a few exceptions)believes him guilty.He confides to a young white guy his innocence and tells him,your white elders all have notions.And the children are the investigators who prove him innocent.
    The emperors clothes,pointed out by children.
    Exactly our problem today,as the American public’s notions about Russia and the war of terror are as far from reality as the shrubs tale of yellowcake.
    All notions brought to US by Zionist traitors,whose serial lies make Goebbels a saint.
    Bring down the MSM,boycott them!

  7. Bruce
    October 7, 2015 at 12:18

    Wait, he said No BOOTS! 0′ RIGHT!! He’s a serial Lying DEM RENEGER!!! Fergawt

  8. Tom Welsh
    October 7, 2015 at 12:06

    I am glad Wolf Mato raised that interesting point about “power sharing”. What kind of condescending colonialist world-improver believes that it is up to Western nations to dictate what proportions of which approved “communities” must be in Syria’s government? Tell me this: what “power sharing” arrangements are currently implemented in the US government – or the British, French, or German governments for that matter? Our nations have this quaint convention called “democracy”, in which elections are held and every citizen gets one vote. That is how President Obama was elected; I don’t recall any fuss about “power sharing” in his cabinet, with so many Sunni Muslims, so many Catholics, so many Protestants, so many insane fundamentalist Rapture-chasers, so many Jews, and so on. Do you?

    As President Putin has pointed out several times, the only people who have any legitimate say in the composition of the Syrian government are the citizens of Syria.

  9. bill
    October 7, 2015 at 06:49

    if ever i need a court advocate Robert Parry has got the job.Obama has killed his parents and seeks mercy because he is now an orphan and Obama should hire him to ghostwrite his coming autobiography. Robert Parry is a brilliant salesman ..Sometimes however no packaging can hide that a product is simply unfit for purpose and that all the advertising was a total con…

    • Jerry
      October 7, 2015 at 22:32

      Very well said.

  10. Peter Loeb
    October 7, 2015 at 06:20

    ILLUSORY OPTIMISM…OR SIMPLY MISLEADING?

    “But for such an arrangement to work, Obama also would have to crack
    down aggressively on U.S. regional ‘allies’ to ensure that they stopped
    funding,supplying and otherwise assisting the Sunni extremist forces
    including Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the Islamic State (or ISIS). Obama
    would have to confront the Sunni “allies” – including Saudi Arabia, Qatar
    and Turkey – as well as Israel…” Robert Parry

    Such unfounded hopes abound in Robert Parry’s analysis above.

    Without going into each and every unfounded assumption, it is fair
    to say that none will happen.

    Either Obama’s basic personality and political instincts exclude
    such actions—a probable analysis— or if one prefers a more
    cynical viewpoint, Obama “negotiated” a deal in bad faith and
    never ever expected the US to lift any sanctions whatsoever.
    It is inconceivable that Iran did not anticipate such an
    outcome. From Iran’s perspective, therefore, there must
    always have been a “Plan B”. What this would include is
    impossible to detail at this time. Would Iran withdraw from
    NPT? (Why should Iran be subject to its requirements when
    neither Israel nor the US is!)

    For one, I never believed that the US was negotiating in
    “good faith” if they were indeed “negotiating” at all.
    The US never intended to lift any sanctions. It never
    intended to treat Iran as an equal sovereign state.
    It never intended to fulfill the resolution of the UN
    Security Council of February 22, 2014, S/Res/2139(2014)
    POINT #14. . This resolution was agreed to unanimously.
    It spoke of “terrorists” and “foreigners. It did not mention
    the Islamic State. Of course, it referred to no “regime
    change” which is unacceptable under international
    law. (In WW II every belligerent advocated a
    regime change of some other regime. Only the victors
    got to dictate any regime change. The US always
    regarded the Iranian “deal” as a negotiation of
    complete surrender by Iran to the west.

    Referring to “Obama” above means by extention
    most of the Washington political world.

    In earlier days the mantra was always, “You can’t
    trust them..” The Russians could not be negotiated
    with unless they were willing to die to save the west
    (which they did). That was the US position at Geneva
    in 1954 where the US refused to sign the Geneva
    protocol (because you can’t trust the Russians) and
    got into a war which the US was sure it could easily
    win but which it eventually lost. On TV! There are
    many other examples.

    The options Robert Parry wishes will not happen.

    Besides, Israel and its US lobby is running US
    foreign policy.

    Mr. Parry should choose between describing the
    reality of diplomatic power relationships and what
    many of us would wish.

    (If Palestinians continue to be murdered,dispossessed
    no one will know. It is rarely if ever mentioned
    as Israel (and patron US) are evidently immune.)

    Like Mr. Parry, I commend the Russians for their
    policies while realizing that they are not saviors. They
    too have domestic constituencies etc.

    —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

    • October 7, 2015 at 12:02

      Russians may become the saviors despite their possibly less than noble motives because they act rational and consider the outcome of their moves (finem respice).

      Most interesting in the whole story is, that the preparations for the Syrian campaign started already in June and for three month the USA didn’t have any clue what was brewing.

      They should send their NSA data collectors and CIA analysts home and resort to fortune tellers and tea leaf reading (cheaper and probably more accurate).

  11. October 7, 2015 at 04:36

    Mr. Parry’s article is perfectly formulated and well intended as always, and yet it shows the limits of US-based journalism, when Parry writes: “… get Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to accept a power-sharing unity government that would fairly represent Syria’s major religious and ethnic groups.”

    The Syrian government, as I already tried to convey in an earlier comment, represents fairly well Syria’s major religious and ethnic groups and is in fact a power sharing government. Sunni ministers are the majority and all faiths and their denominations are represented in important positions.

    Imposing a power-sharing government by outside pressure would only bring people into play who have no following among the population, are political adventurers and opportunists, or are puppets of foreign powers.

    None of the articles who demand a power-sharing government ever mentions names of possible candidates, There is not even a Syrian Ahmad Chalabi, who can be presented as an alternative to President Bashar Al-Assad.

    Ultimately: who gives the USA the right to dictate her will on other nations? A 700 billion US$ military budget? 4,000 or more nuclear warheads? The control of the worlds financial system by Wall Street? The moral superiority? (Kunduz).

    One has to wonder, if the obedience to unwritten rules and the adherence to absolute limits by even the most honorable and outspoken US journalists is self imposed to be left alone by the authorities and vigilante groups or is just the result of limited imagination caused by the immersion of the individuals in US society and culture.

    Mr. Parry’s repeated mentioning of “Washington groupthink” could mean that this is an issue dear to his heart and that he himself tries as good as he can to overcome his own “US groupthink.” If that is so one has to wish him honestly the best of luck in his endeavor.

    • F. G. Sanford
      October 7, 2015 at 06:33

      I gotta give you that one: this “power sharing” thing is actually a subset of “groupthink”.

    • Daniel
      October 8, 2015 at 08:59

      Fair and relevant comments, surely. It is hard for US citizens, especially when inundated by our media media inundate with pro (false)-American exceptionalism, to realize we are collectively guilty of the most heinous crimes, all in the name of profits for a very privileged few. We must wake up to this and begin to work from a place of respect for our common humanity. We must begin to shun the corporate machine that is literally killing us.

  12. James lake
    October 7, 2015 at 02:54

    Bottom line do you really think obama is going to admit what a deceitful person he had been?

    Obama would have to admit he aided and abetted the activities of his allies the funding of terrorists

    This has resulted in the mess in Syria. They calculated that it wouldn’t matter as Assad would go quickly like ghadafi.
    But he is there are is unlikely to go anywhere.
    Obama and his neo con buddies now seek to smear Russia who have maintained the clearest objective in Syria.
    Americans are very dumb that they cannot see this, most people in the UK after yony blair check twice if the govt say it’s raining.

  13. F. G. Sanford
    October 6, 2015 at 21:48

    There are minor problems with two of the above comments. Russia had an internationally recognized treaty agreement with Ukraine to maintain large military facilities and port services in Crimea for its Black Sea Fleet. The agreement permitted 25,000 military personnel to be stationed there. At the time when Crimea nearly unanimously decided to secede from the lunatic fascist puppet government illegally installed with the help of the U.S. State Department, there were already 16,500 Russian troops present. Now, this is a difficult concept to grasp, but it’s relevant. Had Putin chosen to send in an additional 8,500 troops, that STILL would not have been an invasion. BUT – he didn’t do that either. With all the sophisticated satellite and reconnaissance capabilities, electronic surveillance and well documented deployment of U.S. Forces as “advisors” to Ukraine, nobody has yet come up with a shred of proof that Putin invaded any part of the rump state created by American meddling. Of course, paid propaganda assets used in the “Stratcom” initiative – like Elliot Higgins – have made those claims. But alas, we’re still waiting for the evidence. John Helmer’s work on MH-17 and Sy Hersch’s work on the Ghouta episode have satisfactorily revealed the U.S. mainstream narratives for what they are: fraud. I don’t particularly care for Lawrence Wilkerson’s soft-peddling of American debacles as “incompetence”, “hubris”, “systemic failure”, and some of the other conceptual deflectives he employs. They seem to evade the more definitive term I would choose: war crime. It is, after all, illegal under international law to stage “regime change”. But he sure is right about one thing: it looks like the American Empire is toast. That isn’t Putin’s fault. Mr. Parry’s article is factually impeccable. The problem is that American foreign policy has become so bizarre as to sound like a South Park episode. I mean, can’t you picture Homer Simpson ghost-writing Cohen’s article?

    • Joe L.
      October 7, 2015 at 10:49

      It is funny when people talk about Crimea. Now I do believe that Russia did annex it but that the overwhelming majority wanted to leave – I believe that something like 82% of Crimeans turned out to vote and of that then 96% voted to leave Ukraine. This is supported by polls done by the Pew Research Center, GFK, and Gallup. If there is ever any doubt by anyone then all that you have to do is show them these articles:

      Pew Research Center: “Despite Concerns about Governance, Ukrainians Want to Remain One Country” (May 8, 2014):
      http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/05/08/despite-concerns-about-governance-ukrainians-want-to-remain-one-country/

      Forbes: “One Year After Russia Annexed Crimea, Locals Prefer Moscow To Kiev” (March 20, 2015):
      http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2015/03/20/one-year-after-russia-annexed-crimea-locals-prefer-moscow-to-kiev/

      • October 7, 2015 at 19:17

        You can believe whatever you want. Ukraine was about to have an election anyway, and the biggest problem there is Chernobyl needs attention from the best engineering minds on Earth with an unlimited budget.

        Ukraine is the fourth democracy destroyed by the US during the current administration. Face it. The US destroys democracies and is fooling around with the Russia/China/Iran alliance. A little like Genghis Kahn reincarnated with tactical nukes.

        Go ahead. Believe what you want.

        • Joe L.
          October 8, 2015 at 16:56

          Garrett Connelly… I agree with you and so do my links. The links that I posted show that Crimeans wanted to rejoin Russia overwhelmingly but I do also believe that Russia was counting on this and did annex Crimea for the fact that it has had a military base there for over 200 years. I absolutely believe that the US pulled off a coup in Ukraine using US NGO’s as they have done and continue to do in numerous countries. Even in Honduras in 2009, the coup that occurred there was undertaken by a graduate of the School of the Americas, now WHINSEC, located in Fort Benning, Georgia. We could even look at USAID in Cuba trying to create a Cuban Twitter to encourage a “Cuban Spring” to overthrow the Cuban government in 2010, I believe. You can check out articles in Al Jazeera which show the involvement of USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy etc. in funding and supporting protesters and government opposition in Egypt against Morsi. Also, like Robert Parry writes about, Ukraine’s new Finance Minister is an “American” who used to work for USAID within Ukraine and seems to have a dicey past. I absolutely agree with you.

    • October 7, 2015 at 19:11

      Fantastic writing. Very good.

    • Abe
      October 8, 2015 at 14:19

      The New Cold War Is Now Being Waged on Three Fronts: Ukraine, Europe and Syria
      It need not be on any of them.
      http://www.thenation.com/article/the-new-cold-war-is-now-being-waged-on-three-fronts-ukraine-europe-and-syria/

      Nation contributing editor Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War.

      Cohen points out that since Presidents Obama and Putin staged a public debate at the UN on September 28, there have been significant developments on all three fronts. Due to the refugee crisis and festering Ukrainian conflict, European leaders are now drifting away from Washington and toward the positions taken by Putin. On October 2, French President Hollande and German Chancellor Merkel again demanded that Ukrainian President Poroshenko implement the Minsk peace accords. Again, he agreed, but again, Cohen argues, Poroshenko will not because of ultra-nationalist anti-Minsk forces in Kiev. It’s also clear that Europe supports Putin’s military actions in Syria, no matter what some of their officials say publicly.

      The real decision, Cohen emphasizes, is now with the Obama administration. Will it seize Putin’s proposal to form an anti-ISIS coalition, which if successful could curtail or even end the new Cold War? Or will it make Syria another proxy war against Russia, as it has done in Ukraine?

  14. incontinent reader
    October 6, 2015 at 21:39

    Excellent article and advice, Bob. It is advice the U.S. should have followed many months ago- after all it has been hounding Iran for years with illegal sanctions, and hounding Russia for months with the same. But how could we have expected that when the U.S. itself has been the perp behind the scenes?

  15. Gregory Kruse
    October 6, 2015 at 20:19

    The previous comment illustrates the points that Mr. Parry makes in his article. Are American troops all really “volunteers” who want to risk their lives in the service of corporate America, or are many of them poor folk who have maybe one option to aim at a decent life on this planet? That is if they don’t get blown to pieces by an IED. How biased must a person be to observe the situation and blame the Russians for everything and exempt the Americans and NATO from everything. How is Iran worse than Saudi Arabia?

    • Abbybwood
      October 7, 2015 at 14:17

      Let us not forget all the private corporate mercenaries who are on the C.I.A. payroll. And they make a lot more money than our “volunteers”.

      I saw yesterday where Kiev has made a “deal” to bring in thousands of mercenaries to fight in Eastern Ukraine. No doubt from corporations like Eric Prince’s “Blackwater/Xe” or some other equally evil organization.

      I hope Jeremy Scahill or Ronert Parry will be checking this out.

      From the articles I have read in the past few days Mr. Putin is doing very well routing out the terrorists in Syria. He has even had the humanity to drop leaflets prior to massive bombings giving civilians a chance to leave. And as far as I can tell he is doing all this within the scope of international law.

      His overwhelming success in the course of a week has shown that either the United States is militarily inept or that those terrorists are indeed OUR terrorists.

      Now Iraq, seeing the success of Putin has invited Russia to “degrade and destroy ISIL in Northern Iraq saying “We’ll have what Syria’s having”.

      I think we might see ISIS and Al Queda (Al Nusra) finished off by Thanksgiving (unless Obama decides to interfere by shooting down a Russian jet which could tailspin the planet into a global conflagration.

      Obama has major cheerleaders for doing something this stupid. The MSM, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz and the entire Republican Party (save Mr. Trump).

      Interesting that Trump appears to be the only sane one in the group even though he is a raging narcissist. He even went so far as to say the world would be a better place if Saddam and Qaddafi were still in power.

  16. ltr
    October 6, 2015 at 19:33

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/07/opinion/vladimir-putin-motives-in-syria.html

    October 6, 2015

    Mr. Putin’s Motives in Syria

    Why exactly President Vladimir Putin is sending “volunteer” ground forces into Syria is not entirely clear. It may be to protect the Russian base near Latakia from which Russia has begun flying bombing missions against Syrian rebel groups, or it may be because Russia’s Syrian ally, President Bashar al-Assad, is in such danger of falling that Russian ground troops will actually enter the fray against the innumerable insurgent groups fighting him.

    What is clear is that these “volunteers” are there about as voluntarily as were the Russian soldiers ordered into Crimea or eastern Ukraine. Russians might want to ask why young Russians are being sent to face mortal danger in the Middle East in service of Mr. Putin’s very dangerous gamble.

    Propping up a flailing ally is only one of Mr. Putin’s probable motives. He no doubt wants to flex his muscles (again) before a Russian public increasingly feeling the pain of a mismanaged economy and to deflect attention from the stalemate in Ukraine. But he may not be strutting for long….

    • free your mind
      October 6, 2015 at 20:28

      Mr. Putin is wildly popular with his constituents, so as far as “strutting” is concerned, I think that word might be more aptly applied to the arrogant flagrancies of truth that continue to pour out of such Zionist mouthpieces as the Washington Post and the New York Times. Their ambitions have now been retarded, and they got caught in their lies. Their pathetic and almost comedic position that Putin is bombing the “good” terrorists, and targeting civilians, has been roundly debunked. In the meantime, the US Air Force “accidentally” bombing a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders, and killing medical personnel, civilians and children was totally ironic in its scope of comparison. Yes, it seems the Neocons take a special delight in murdering little kids, but now altruistic doctors as well? But of course if one reads solely from Zionist owned media, one would never gain access to the truth. The US/Israel/Saud warmongers got checkmated, and to get their frustrations out, comes a fresh bombing of Gaza and yet another false flag in Oregon. These people are killers, although being the cowards that they are, they pay others to do their bidding. Putin on the other hand, is not a coward. And the Zionist controlled US is now faced with a decision, as this article so concisely defines. To continue to allow a foreign entity, Israel via AIPAC to dictate our US foreign policy in order to grow their Odet Yinon “Greater Israel” plan, or to stand up and finally say NO to a plan.that is inhumane, defies international law, and is not in the best interests of the United States. I think Mr. Parry’s suggestions are right on target. And any intelligent and strong president would agree. But Obama is a weak president, and the best we can say for him is that he stood strong behind the Iran deal. And that is a win for justice and peace in this unnecessarily troubled region.

    • Ames Gilbert
      October 8, 2015 at 01:18

      And your source is… The New York Times, one of the many propaganda organs controlled by the neocons.
      Hooray for your critical thinking or research skills!

    • The Creeper
      October 8, 2015 at 12:50

      You’re questioning Putin’s motives? How about he doesn’t want to see his Syrian ally become an unstable, united states made, mess like Libya and Iraq. Why would he want to see sunni terrorists on his border when he’s a known supporter of alawite Assad? If you get past the american media anti-russian propaganda(that’s lies since you have trouble connecting dots) you would see that Putin’s aim is stabilization, not nation building for the sake of resource plundering like America.

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