Needling Obama for More Wars

Exclusive: Rather than encourage a healthy, wide-ranging debate on world affairs, the mainstream U.S. news media prevents any serious deviation from Official Washington’s war-loving “group thinks,” a task undertaken by CBS’ Steve Kroft in a hostile interview with President Obama, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

As demonstrated by Steve Kroft of CBS’ “60 Minutes” in his contentious interview with President Barack Obama, a key role for the mainstream news media is to enforce whatever warmongering “group think” dominates Official Washington, such as today’s perceived need to escalate U.S. military involvement in Syria and hit back against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Not to excuse Obama or any other politician for caving into this kind of pressure, but it is daunting to confront a solid wall of “conventional wisdom” posed as hostile questions that almost always favors militaristic solutions to international problems. On the other hand, a politician can almost never go wrong by adopting the most belligerent positions, by posing as the “tough guy” or “tough gal,” by making sure not to get labeled “weak.”

President Barack Obama being interviewed by Steve Kroft of CBS' "60 Minutes." [Photo credit: CBS News]

President Barack Obama being interviewed by Steve Kroft of CBS’ “60 Minutes.” [Photo credit: CBS News]

In that way, the mainstream media reflects the views of what some analysts call the “deep state,” i.e., the underlying assumptions of the ruling elite that are profoundly influenced by decades of massive investments in what President Dwight Eisenhower famously termed “the military-industrial complex.” Also shaping the “group think” is the pressure from well-entrenched lobbies, such as those representing Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Thus, on Sunday evening, Kroft castigated Obama on behalf of those interests, badgering the President of the United States to intervene more aggressively in the Syrian conflict in line with the desires of the Saudis and the Israelis who have both adopted an intensely hostile position vis a vis the so-called “Shiite crescent,” the string of Shiite-led governments and political movements from Iran through Iraq to Syria and southern Lebanon.

On “60 Minutes,” there was no debate as to why the United States should jump in on one side of a sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shiites dating back to the Seventh Century — or whether U.S. national interests ally with either Saudi support for the Wahhabi fundamentalist form of Sunni Islam or Israel’s opportunistic teaming-up with Saudi Arabia. In Kroft’s world, it is just taken as a given that Obama should do what the Saudis and Israelis want.

Kroft also baited Obama over not confronting Putin more aggressively in Syria, even deploying the dreaded “w”-word, “weakness.”

“He’s moved troops into Syria,” Kroft said about Putin. “He’s got people on the ground. Two, the Russians are conducting military operations in the Middle East for the first time since World War II. [He’s] bombing the people that we are supporting. He’s challenging your leadership, Mr. President. He’s challenging your leadership.”

Kroft continued, “There is a perception in the Middle East among our adversaries, certainly and even among some of our allies that the United States is in retreat, that we pulled our troops out of Iraq and ISIS has moved in and taken over much of that territory. The situation in Afghanistan is very precarious and the Taliban is on the march again. And ISIS controls a large part of Syria. They say you’re projecting a weakness, not a strength.”

When Obama interrupted to ask, “You’re saying ‘they’ but you’re not citing too many folks,” Kroft replied, “I’ll cite if you want me to. I’d say the Saudis. I’d say the Israelis. I’d say a lot of our friends in the Middle East.”

The ‘Weakness’ Charge

To deflect the politically damaging depiction of “projecting a weakness,” Obama talked tough, lashing out at Putin as the one supposedly lacking leadership. But in defense of not recommitting a large U.S. combat force into Mideast conflicts, Obama did note that some of his Republican critics favor sending “endless numbers of troops into the Middle East.”

But there was another way to address these issues without simply Kroft channeling the attitudes of the Saudis, Israelis and U.S. neoconservatives. For instance, he could have asked about possible areas where the United States and Russia could cooperate to restore peace to the region.

Or, if Kroft wanted the drama of an argument, he could have pressed Obama on his decision to provide TOW anti-tank missiles and other sophisticated military hardware to Syrian rebels fighting the Syrian army.

The Washington Post’s Liz Sly on Monday reported that the CIA has been supplying TOWs to the Free Syrian Army, a relatively moderate Syrian rebel group whose success with the missiles may have forced Putin’s hand regarding intervention to prevent the collapse of Syria’s military. She reported that only a small number of TOWs have apparently fallen into the hands of Islamist extremists.

While Sly’s story raises a valid question about the possible unintended consequence of Obama’s decision to introduce TOW missiles into the Syrian conflict — prompting the Russian intervention — I’m told that the CIA’s TOWs also include about 500 missiles going to Ahrah ash-Sham, an Islamist force founded, in part, by Al Qaeda veterans. That raises an additional question about Obama playing a risky game of collusion with jihadists.

Ahrah ash-Sham collaborates with Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front as the two leading militias in the Saudi-backed Army of Conquest but maintains at least some formal separation from Al Qaeda, all the better to qualify for U.S. weapons.

Under pressure to “do something” in Syria, Obama apparently bought into the dangerous idea that by ratcheting up the military pressure on Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad by giving TOWs to groups like Ahrah ash-Sham that the jihadists would inflict enough damage on the Syrian military to force Assad to accept “regime change” in Damascus.

The risk in this calculation is that such political-military calibrations are never perfect because a little too much pressure could lead to the collapse of the Syrian army and a victory for the Army of Conquest and/or the Islamic State. Once in Damascus, who’s to say that Ahrah ash-Sham won’t return to its Al Qaeda roots or won’t share power with its allies, Al Qaeda’s Nusra?

And, it deserves remembering that the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh) was originally “Al Qaeda in Iraq” and broke off from Al Qaeda Central over the tactical question of whether it makes sense to start the Islamist caliphate now (the ISIS position) or focus instead on mounting terrorist attacks against the West (Al Qaeda’s position).

Kroft may not have known how entwined Obama, the Saudis and the Israelis are in assisting these Al Qaeda-connected movements (Israel has helped the Nusra Front near the Golan Heights), but he could have raised the question about exactly whom the Obama administration is assisting. Instead, he chose to lament that Putin is “bombing the people that we are supporting.”

Kroft could have provided an important service to the American people if he had drawn Obama into his thoughts about the complexity of the Syrian thicket and asked whether the President thinks that except for ISIS Al Qaeda’s other affiliates and spinoffs are no longer “terrorists.”

Or, Kroft could have pressed Obama on whether the U.S. government or the Syrian people should get to decide whether “Assad must go!” Obama insists that the vast majority of Syrians are joining him in that demand but why not test it in an election.

If Obama and Putin could cooperate on bringing Assad’s representatives together with U.S.-backed “moderate” Sunni politicians with a stern mandate to work out a power-sharing unity government then a stabilized Syria could hold elections for leaders who reflect the public will. If such difficult arrangements were possible in Lebanon to resolve the sectarian conflict there, why couldn’t a similar approach work in Syria?

The Narrow Frame

But these questions don’t get asked in the narrow frame permitted by the mainstream media, which has presented a remarkably one-sided account of the Syrian conflict as well as other international crises, including the New Cold War hotspot, Ukraine. As much as American leaders boast about the diversity and pluralism in the U.S. media, there is little room for genuine independence and dissent at least from the side seeking compromise and peace.

Indeed, suppressing such alternative analyses has become a prime purpose of the mainstream media. Remember how skeptics of the Iraq War were treated in 2002-03, either ignored or browbeaten by the likes of CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and other media stars. Not even someone like former Vice President Al Gore, who defeated George W. Bush in the national popular vote in 2000, was allowed to make the case against the Iraq War to the broad TV public.

Then, during Campaign 2008, Sen. Barack Obama was pummeled over his opposition to the Iraq War “surge,” which according to the then-popular “group think” had achieved “victory at last.” Media stars, such as CBS News’ Katie Couric and ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, demanded that Obama admit he was wrong to oppose the “surge” and that his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, was right to support it.

Obama’s more nuanced explanation that a number of developments had temporarily brought the Iraq casualty rates down was correct, but he eventually caved in and confessed to his heresy in an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. A chastened Obama gushed that the “surge” had “succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.” [See’s “Reviving the Successful Surge Myth.”]

In a way, Kroft’s interview was a bookend to that earlier experience for Obama getting schooled in the ways of Official Washington: a “group think” takes shape and the mainstream media enforces it with the intellectual standards of a junior-high in-crowd making fun of the poor kids’ clothing.

Americans can expect something similar when CNN hosts the first Democratic presidential debate. The network has assigned four mainstream CNN correspondents to do the questioning while excluding any progressive voice in contrast to CNN’s inclusion of a right-wing representative for its Republican debate.

If there were some gutsy, independent-minded progressive on the panel, he or she might ask some difficult questions to candidates who talk tough about the Middle East. For instance, some pointed foreign policy questions could be asked to the two frontrunners, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders:

–Secretary Clinton, what have you learned from your misguided support for the Iraq War that has spread violent disorder across the region and now into Europe? Do you think someone who showed such poor judgment in supporting a war that was illegal under international law and involved massive human rights violations should be rewarded with the Presidency of the United States? Do you regret your enthusiasm for regime change in Libya that contributed to more death and destruction and to the spread of ISIS into northern Africa? Considering everything — including the torture of Muammar Gaddafi — do you regret your joke, “we came, we saw, he died”?

–Sen. Sanders, you did oppose the Iraq War, but do you really believe that the problems of the Middle East can be solved by the Saudis intervening more in the region and getting “their hands dirty”? Do you support Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies arming of Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Syria, as acknowledged by Vice President Joe Biden and the Defense Intelligence Agency? Do you favor the Saudi bombing campaign inside Yemen that has slaughtered thousands of civilians, including the celebrants at two weddings?

–Both of them: Are you so set on demonizing Putin and Assad that you’d prefer Damascus to fall to Al Qaeda and/or ISIS? Instead of tough talk, isn’t this the time to work constructively with Russia to achieve a negotiated peace in Syria and — once security is restored — democratic elections that leave Assad’s future up to the Syrian people, not decided by the U.S. government?

But don’t worry, folks, the candidates won’t be tested in that way. They’ll just be urged to growl about the need to stand up to Putin and get rid of Assad — and to criticize Obama for displaying “weakness” that has alienated America’s Mideast “friends.”

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 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.

44 comments for “Needling Obama for More Wars

  1. Z54
    October 21, 2015 at 07:46

    If Mr. Kroft is so big on war perhaps the chickenhawk should trade in his microphone for an M-16 and show everyone just exactly how it’s done. He could join up with John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Chuck Schumer, Robert Menendez, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Barack Obama himself, along with all of the talking heads at Fox, CNN, MSNBC and CNBC to win this proxy war in no time! What a bunch of blowhards. They deserve solitary confinement in a supermax instead of being allowed to run around loose preying on the amerikan people and the people of the middle-east, North Africa and Ukraine !

  2. Mortimer
    October 13, 2015 at 15:49

    FYI/ bringing up the seed

    Sam Smith: The Party’s Over
    Thursday, 7 November 2002, 1:31 pm

    The Party’s Over
    By Sam Smith
    What happened on November 5, 2002 was the culmination of a hostile takeover of the Democratic Party that began more than a decade ago under the leadership of a group of conservatives, corporadoes, and con men who convinced their political colleagues that the salvation of the party lay in destroying its purpose.

    Called “moving to the center,” the recipe had certain similarities to a Saturday Night Live sketch in which an actor pretends to be George Bush or Trent Lott, but unlike the sketch, it was neither funny nor convincing. It was conceived by the “Democratic Leadership Council,” a group whose underlying message was not leadership but abandon ship and which chose as its agent a conservative governor of Arkansas of salesman-like charm and conviction.

    Clinton had been the beneficiary of what one journalist called the Great Mentioner. He had been noted, remarked upon and welcomed in the smokeless salons where national politics are created. How one comes to matter in Washington politics is guided by few precise rules, although in comparison to fifty years ago the views of lobbyists and fundraisers are far more significant than the opinion, say, of the mayor of Chicago or the governor of Pennsylvania. This is a big difference; somewhere behind the old bosses in their smoke-filled rooms were live constituents; behind the political cash lords of today there is mostly just more money and the few who control it.

    Thus coming to matter has much less to do with traditional politics, especially local politics, than it once did. Today, other things count: the patronage of those who already matter, a blessing bestowed casually by one right person to another right person over lunch at the Metropolitan Club, a columnist’s praise, a well-received speech before a well-placed organization, the assessment of a lobbyist as sure-eyed as a fight manager checking out new fists at the local gym. There are still machines in American politics; they just dress and talk better.

    There is another rule. The public plays no part. The public is the audience; the audience does not write or cast the play. In 1988, the 1992 play was already being cast. Conservative Democrats were holding strategy meetings at the home of party fund-raiser Pamela Harriman. The meetings — eventually nearly a hundred of them — were aimed at ending years of populist insurrection within the party. They were regularly moderated by Clark Clifford and Robert Strauss, the Mr. Fixits of the Democratic mainstream. Democratic donors paid $1,000 to take part in the sessions and by the time it was all over, Mrs. Harriman had raised about $12 million for her kind of Democrats.

    The play was also being cast by the Democratic Leadership Council. Although lacking any official role in the Democratic Party, the DLC claimed it was the voice of mainstream party thought. In fact, it was primarily a lobby for the views of southern and other conservative Democrats, yet so successful was its media manipulation that it even got away with calling its think tank the Progressive Policy Institute.

    By the late 1980s there was a wide-spread consensus among both the press and the Democratic leadership that the party’s problems could be traced to several factors:

    – The loss of control by party bosses due to excessive democratization of nomination and convention procedures.

    – Undue pandering to such traditional constituencies as blacks, liberals, and women.

    – The need for a new and far more conservative Democratic platform.

    By the 1988 convention, this consensus had taken root. US News & World Report reported: “That the Democrats went beyond all bounds to appear bland and ‘normal’ is incontrovertible. The brief, boring and bulletproof platform gave ‘platitudinous’ new meaning. ‘Notice,’ complained New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, offering only one example, ‘that the word city does not appear in our platform. We talk about suburban hometown American and I figure that doesn’t mean the South Bronx.'”

    With the rise of this orthodoxy, the media’s language changed. What was once a civil rights cause now became “demands of special interest groups.” The conservative Democrats’ self-definition as “moderates” or “mainstream” was uncritically adopted. And “liberal” began to be used, even in purportedly objective articles, as a pejorative. It made someone like Clinton looked very good.

    What followed is presumed to be well known, but isn’t. The same journalists who overwhelmingly supported Clinton’s candidacy began writing what amounted to an eight year mythology that created a personal legend even as the party he led collapsed. Missing from the legend were some key facts about the Clinton administration:

    – the unraveling of 60 years of successful Democratic programs

    – the discrediting in the public mind of such fundamental liberal programs as social security, economic policy, and public education. In such ways Clinton served as a warm-up band for the Republicans.

    – a replacement of traditional Democratic programs with a smarmy and disingenuous agitprop, most noticeable in Clinton’s handling of his black constituency. The same man who was brought to tears in black churches sent young black males to prison in unprecedented numbers and escalated a drug war that became more deadly to these blacks than Vietnam had been to black fighting men.

    Of course, you can argue about such things, but there was something else – also unreported – that you couldn’t argue about: the disintegration of the Democratic Party itself. An analysis I did in 1998 found that during Clinton’s administration, the Democrats had lost:
    – 48 seats in the House
    – 8 seats in the Senate
    – 11 governorships
    – 1,254 state legislative seats
    – Control of 9 legislatures

    In addition 439 elected Democrats had joined the Republican Party while only three Republican officeholders had gone the other way.

    While Democrats had been losing state legislative seats on the state level for 25 years, the loss during the Clinton years was striking. In 1992, the Democrats controlled 17 more state legislatures than the Republicans. After November 2000, the Republicans controlled one more than the Democrats. It was the first time since 1954 that the GOP had controlled more state legislatures than the Democrats (they tied in 1968).

    In fact, no Democratic president since the 19th century suffered such an electoral disintegration of his party as did Clinton.

    This unreported truth helps to explain why the Democrats didn’t do better in 2002. The Republicans merely continued their successful assault on a party that had become hopelessly weakened by an exploitive, ungrounded, self-indulgent elite that had swept through Democratic politics much like the Enron cavaliers treated the energy industry, not to mention their own shareholders and employees. They were, as F. Scott Fitzgerald put it, careless people: “They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

    There are few signs the party has figured this out. It still clings to Clinton like a abused spouse in denial and accepts other leadership that runs the gamut from the unappealing to the indefensible.

    For the party to recover, it must divorce itself from the con men who have done it so much damage. It must find its way back to the gutbucket, pragmatic populism that gave this country Social Security, a minimum wage, veterans’ programs, the FHA, civil rights, and the war on poverty. It must jettison its self-defeating snobbism towards Americans who go to church or own a gun. It needs to be as useful to the voter in the cubicle as it once was to the voter on the assembly line. It must find a soul, a passion, and a sense of itself. Most of all, it must get rid of those false prophets and phony friends who have not only done it so much damage but have left the country fully in the hands of the cruel, the selfish, the violent, the dumb, and the anti-democratic.


    From the Progressive Review:
    Inside the Beltway, Out of the Loop, Ahead of the Curve
    Since 1964, Washington’s most unofficial source
    Edited by Sam Smith
    1312 18th St. NW #502, Washington DC 20036
    202-835-0770 Fax: 835-0779
    REVIEW E-MAIL: mailto:[email protected]
    SUBSCRIBE: mailto:[email protected]

  3. Mortimer
    October 13, 2015 at 14:41

    The Blacklist was as Nagasaki Doom for these leftist writers who’d dare to represent views that were more truthful and, Closer To The Ground then, for example, the preeminence of the Anglo-American Establishment with all of it’s Manifest Destiny Entitlements.

    A discography search of blacklist authored films will surprise you with the themes presented by them. –
    it’s like the radically discordant views which dominate todays’ combative rhetoric meeting it’s 60 yr old relative.

    it’s as if, for example, concepts of liberty colliding into actual humanity.

  4. Bill Bodden
    October 13, 2015 at 11:40

    The old-timers at CBS – Edward R. Murrow, Fred Friendly, Walter Cronkite, Don Hewitt, Mike Wallace, etc. – would be appalled and devastated to see what has become of CBS and 60 Minutes.

    • dahoit
      October 13, 2015 at 12:59

      Wallace was a Zionist.And Friendly?Murrow and Cronkite were Americans.

      • Mortimer
        October 13, 2015 at 13:19

        Anyone here old enough to remember Cronkite’s history series, “You Are There?”

        Giving away my age here, but those programs caused my lifelong fascination with history.

        Maybe still alive on youtube???

        • Mortimer
          October 13, 2015 at 13:57

          * FYI – writers on this series were blacklisted/accused of being leftist subverters (truth-tellers, not sellers of propagandized fiction, as is allowed to exist today) by the right-wing, fascistic, Senator Joseph McCarthy … .

          Walter Cronkite on his docu-drama You Are There , and his opinion of that genre

          Blacklisted writer Walter Bernstein on the subversive subtext of You Are There; on Edward R. Murrow’s See It Now denouncing Senator McCarthy

          Abraham Polonsky on his encounter with the Blacklist

          >Walter Cronkite on how the Hollywood Blacklist affected him and the news industry; specifically the writers on the dramatic program You Are There<
          Duration: 06m 02s

          • Abbybwood
            October 13, 2015 at 14:47

            Wasn’t it Dan Rather who told us right after JFK’s brains were blown all over his wife’s pink suit, “And his head flew violently “forward”?

            This was supposed to reinforce the meme of “Oswald” hitting Kennedy from “behind”.

            Of course now we all know due to the gaping hole in the back of his head he was hit from the front and his head actually flew violently backwards.

            Of course the whole Oswald acted alone horse shit meme had to be sold to a shell-shocked public.

            The media in this country is a national shame and embarrassment.

          • Bob Van Noy
            October 13, 2015 at 15:32

            Thank you for mentioning that report by Dan Rather Abbybwood. I have often wondered about Dan Rather’s motives regarding that report. It seems that about half of what would become 80’s through 2000’s television news reporters were in Dallas or at Dealey Plaza that day! Why, I wonder?

    • Skip Edwards
      October 13, 2015 at 13:05

      Bill, Why does anyone on this site even watch that MSM propaganda (junk). Just like junk mail, trash it-turn it off, never turn it on in the first place. Read, Read, Read; is that becoming a lost art?

      • Bill Bodden
        October 13, 2015 at 14:09

        Why does anyone on this site even watch that MSM propaganda

        Beats me. Other than CBS Sunday Morning and an occasional sports event I haven’t watched CBS in years. If I don’t change channels quickly enough after Sunday Morning, I note that Face the Nation is still pathetically biased. Unfortunately, I have a sneaking perception Sunday Morning might get around to toeing the line. But I’m grateful to Mr. Parry and others for enduring a session watching 60 Minutes to let us know it is still in the pits and there is no point in watching it. The Kroft-Obama interview would have been a double whammy for me. The latter has little to no credibility from my perspective.

  5. October 13, 2015 at 11:28

    The utterly dishonesty and crookedness of Western mainstream media is a given for me and beyond discussion. For that reason I would have skipped this article but flying through it one sentence caught my interest:

    “… I’m told that the CIA’s TOWs also include about 500 missiles going to Ahrah ash-Sham, an Islamist force founded, in part, by Al Qaeda veterans.”

    This is interesting and it is necessary to investigate in order to confirm this claim.

    The BGM-71 TOW (Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided) missiles are manufactured by Raytheon and sourced mainly from stocks of Saudi Arabia, which purchased 13,795 of them in 2013. Saudi Arabia has reportedly already sent another 500 pieces and promised thousands more.

    The TOW missiles are a game changer, comparable with the impact that US-supplied Stinger antiaircraft missiles had in Afghanistan. The current Idlib offensive of the Syrian forces is severely hindered by the ubiquitous presence of TOW missile launchers in every thicket and on every hilltop. More than 30 Syrian tanks and other military vehicles have been destroyed alone in the last week.

    It seems that Syrian troops will have to pull back their motorized brigades and let the infantry, supported by air force, spearhead the offensive.

    Ahrar al-Sham is together with Jabhat al-Nusra the main driver in the coalition of rebels which seized the northern Idlib province in April and Mai. The group’s leadership has recently tried to distance itself from al-Qaida ideology, portraying itself as a moderate Islamist group in an op-ed published in the Washington Post. Its leader Hashim al-Sheik has just been replaced by Mohannad al-Masri (Abu Yahia al-Hamawi).

    After Petraeus’ unsuccessful attempt to promote Jabhat al-Nusra, will Ahrar al-Sham become the new “moderate rebel force”?

  6. Mortimer
    October 13, 2015 at 10:47

    Here’s that appropriated 2nd URL:

    Islamic State joins the great game in Central Asia

    BY M.K. BHADRAKUMAR on JULY 21, 2015

    There was a surprise element in the US State Department announcement on July 16 in Washington that its 2014 Human Rights Defender Award goes to a jailed Kyrgyz activist, Azimjam Askaraov. Indeed, the US decision to pick a row with Kyrgyzstan, of all the five “Stans” of Central Asia, is surprising because that country is, relatively speaking, the least authoritarian and repressive of the regimes in the region.

    Without doubt, Washington feels emboldened to move up the human rights issue from the backburner now that the US is no longer beholden to the “Stans” to provide the Northern Distribution Network for supplying the American and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

    All the same, Washington’s focus on the human rights issue at the present juncture is intriguing when the regional security is in great flux and Central Asia is gearing up to face the spill over from Afghanistan. The Tajik President Imomali Rahmon warned only last week that the “Stans” are facing their biggest ever security challenge since they emerged as independent states.

    Unsurprisingly, the Kyrgyz government lost no time to condemn the US state department’s move as “creating a threat to civil peace and stability in society”. Furthermore, Bishkek signaled that it might be compelled to renounce the 1993 bilateral treaty between Kyrgyzstan and the US (which grants diplomatic immunity to all American aid workers deployed in Kyrgyzstan.)

    Washington promptly warned that any move to abrogate the 1993 treaty could threaten the US-funded aid programs in Kyrgyzstan. An impression becomes unavoidable that Washington and Bishkek are acting and reacting according to some script.

    From what one can make out, the Kyrgyz authorities probably suspect that the US aid workers are involved in some sort of covert activities and want them to leave and Washington would have got wind of it in advance.

    Curiously, on July 16, Kyrgyz security forces killed six alleged Islamic State [IS] terrorists and detained five others in two shootouts in the capital city of Bishkek. Four Kyrgyz security personnel were wounded in the encounter, which lasted for over an hour. The Kyrgyz authorities have since said in a statement that the terrorists were planning to attack the Russian military base in Kant.

    The Bishkek bazaar is full of rumors that the IS has made its appearance in the steppes as the geopolitical tool of the US in the great game in Central Asia.

    But then, why would Kyrgyzstan become eligible as a “frontline state” in the great game in Central Asia? One reason could be that the country genuinely qualifies to be a battleground for influence for the big powers. Kyrgyzstan was once in the US orbit (following the “Tulip revolution” and the regime change in 2005), and although it is now regarded as an ally of Russia and has joined the Eurasia Economic Union [EEU], there are still enduring pockets of US influence in that country among the so-called “civil society” and the NGOs, which makes it also the weakest link within the EEU (and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.)

    Of course, Kyrgyzstan’s geography is highly strategic. It extends into the Ferghana Valley, which is a hotbed of radical Islamist ideology, and it also shares a border with China’s Xinjiang province. In fact, there is a sizeable Uighur diaspora living in Kyrgyzstan.

    To be sure, the loss of influence in Central Asia in the recent decade has prompted Washington to reset the compass of US diplomacy towards the region. In Central Asia, there is no crowbar more lethal than the human rights issue to put pressure on the authoritarian regimes in the region.

    The human rights issue has popular resonance, and by championing it, the US can project itself to be on “the right side of history – unlike Russia or China.

    The first signs of this tactical shift in the US’ Central Asia diplomacy became available in a speech made by Robert Berschinski, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor in the US State Department. Speaking at the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Washington a month ago in a testimony titled as “Civil and Political Rights in Uzbekistan and Central Asia”, Berschinski gave a gloomy picture of the human rights record of the Central Asian regimes, going to the extraordinary extent of casting doubt on the legitimacy of the re-election recently of the presidents of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, Nurusultan Nazarbayev and Islam Karimov.

    Berschinski brought in a compelling argument that the human rights situation in Central Asia impacts international security insofar as the absence of religious freedom and a democratic opposition actually engender the rise of extremist groups in the region.

    Berschinski later fleshed out this idea in another speech titled “The Role of Youth, Women, Religious Groups, and Civil Society in Preventing Violent Extremism”, which he delivered at the Central Asia and South Asia Regional Conference on Countering Violent Extremism at Astana, Kazakhstan, on June 30, just a fortnight before the announcement of the State Department’s 2014 Human Rights Defender Award.

    (Copyright 2015 Asia Times Holdings Limited, a duly registered Hong Kong company. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

  7. Mortimer
    October 13, 2015 at 10:29

    – A perfect picture of the adage, ” sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.”
    Kyrgyzstan set for closer ties with Russia after polls

    OCTOBER 4, 2015

    Kyrgyzstan’s Moscow-leaning parties appeared certain on Sunday of being able to form a new coalition to draw the hard-up nation further into Moscow’s orbit after an election overshadowed by ethnic tensions and the threat of Islamist violence.

    The mainly Muslim country of six million has moved closer to Russia and away from the West in recent years. The United States last year shut an air base in Kyrgyzstan that served US operations in Afghanistan since 2001.

    Moscow has forgiven a lot of Kyrgyz debt and developed large economic projects in the landlocked Central Asian state. Around one million Kyrgyz work in Russia, sending home remittances.

    Closely watching Sunday’s election was China, whose restive Xinjiang region borders Kyrgyzstan and which is present in several Kyrgyz industries, including energy and mining.

    Kyrgyzstan is a member of the Moscow-led military bloc, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (ODKB), and of the Eurasian Economic Union, a pet project of Putin.

    By contrast, ties with the United States soured in July when Washington conferred a human rights prize on an ethnic Uzbek dissident serving a life sentence on charges of inciting ethnic hatred during clashes between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz that killed more than 400 people in southern Kyrgyzstan in 2010.

    for more background see also:

  8. October 13, 2015 at 10:13

    This article unwittingly promotes war by referring to the war mongers as mainstream. Journalists need to settle on a new term for outliers who suck of civilization with the aid of corporate propaganda.

  9. Mortimer
    October 13, 2015 at 09:41

    Sinking In The Sand:

    The entire Mideast was aware of the Russian-Saudi discussions, and now that Russia has assembled the COR and is directly fighting terrorism in the region, the Saudi’s proxy forces such as the “Army of Conquest” must now be asking themselves why their patron abandoned them as sitting ducks on the battlefield. It’s not realistically thought that Russia informed the Saudis in any way whatsoever of their coming military campaign, but for the Islamists on the ground being killed by Russian airstrikes, it sure seems like a possibility, and they may be seething with anger against the Saudis for being set up. Already, over 3,000 terrorists have already fled Syria for Jordan, likely en route back to Saudi Arabia, and the Kingdom’s security establishment must surely be aware of the threat this entails. Couple the returning jihadis with the homegrown ISIL terrorists that already struck in the country before, and a cocktail of domestic disaster is being mixed before the Saudis’ own eyes, and their military establishment is too bogged down along the Yemeni border to adequately focus on it. This dire state of affairs could be made even more severe if the Ansarullah are successful enough in their attacks against the ‘Arab NATO’ that some of its Gulf members (especially Qatar and the UAE) pull out, which would then force the Saudis to compensate with their own overstretched forces. Furthermore, their paranoid fantasies of “Iranian-Shia encirclement” are probably kicking into high gear right now, meaning that it can’t be guaranteed that the country will react rationally to any threats that it perceives. In connection with this, a heavy-handed crackdown, whether against suspected terrorists or Shiites, can’t be discounted, and this would obviously add to the country’s domestic destabilization.


    The Unintentional Flank and Turkish/Balkan Stream:

    Erdogan’s Imaginary War Against Russia:

    The Military’s Mindset:

    A Geopolitical Blessing:

  10. Joe Tedesky
    October 13, 2015 at 04:20

    Think of an average ’60 minutes’ viewer. Now, many of them have been watching Sunday NFL football all day. Then here is Kroft scolding the President, of whom many of these viewers don’t like, and say to yourself, just how much sense Kroft has made to this bunch. In the manor of condition they are in, from all that relaxation, and not much love for Obama, I would say Kroft sold more soap. Even if there were no ‘deep state’, there would still be soap to sell, and that’s Kroft’s pay check. As a side note Kroft no doubt is given a key to many luxury lavish benefits, but I digress….As for President Obama, he is either having an in fight with the powerful, or he is involved with a party of a plot to throw Putin a ‘head fake’, or he is way out their on his own. For real, way, way out their, on his own. Those TOW missiles are more than likely from a ‘no restrictions blanket purchase order’, as business must go on, you know. The group receiving the TOW missiles are probably opening up a drug route, or something for something like that, for a few moon lighting generals. You can’t blame Obama for that, that is the corrupted black market at work here, and that is not under the Commander and Chief’s job description. When it comes to Hillary, someone should ash her for answers to this Syrian thing. Once again, why doesn’t anyone ever bring up Petraeus when it comes to the ISIS problem? Oh yeah, Ray McGovern wanted to, but got arrested instead. Remember, Libya was a great success for them. Hillary got giddy, crying and laughing out load at the same time. Petraeus may have even been celebrating a little to much with Broadwell, but no big deal. Libya, was theirs, and all the while Obama appeared as though he was leading from behind, these other two jack in the boxes were funneling assets into Syria, mostly through Turkey by all accounts.

    I don’t usually comment about appearances, but what gives with Hillary always waving her hands above her head? I guess we will all just have to get use to it, when she ascends to her throne.

    We, should sit down with the BRICS, and work out a plan to share the earth’s resources. When the U.S. someday notices that this country can’t afford more wars, that will be the day it realizes that it’s biggest weapon was, and always was about the money. When it dawns on you, that you bought the love of all your friends, then you will wake up to finally admit you don’t have any friends. This Grand Chess Board mentally isn’t thought throw, enough. A poor kid would know how to gain real friendship, as opposed to a rich kid just buying his acquaintance’s off. This rich kid isn’t even smart enough to worry about creating real worth, and by doing so, he or she is dwindling their revenues. The smart money would be placed on the poor kid who spend his money wisely, and surpassed the rich kid by miles….I mean by really, really big miles!

  11. WendyArd
    October 13, 2015 at 03:42

    If Kroft is so interested in a show of strength, President Obama should give it to him. The president could start by eliminating Kroft and the rest of the neocons…all of them. The neocon controlled media in the USA is ridiculous. It makes Americans the dumbest people on earth.

  12. WendyArd
    October 13, 2015 at 03:39

    The neoconservative policy in the middle east has been a colossal failure. Never ending continuous war, not for the benefit of the United States of America but for the benefit of the banks that control defense industry and Big Oil. We need to get the hell out of the middle east and bring the troops home.

    • Mortimer
      October 13, 2015 at 08:45

      It is eternally impossible to achieve Peace in the absence of Justice.

      As long as the bellicose warmongers remain free from charges of criminal conspiracy to commit Mass Murder; and of criminal fraud; and of promiscuously breaking international law through the illegal concept of “regime change”; or of setting up secret partnerships with compliant rulers for the purpose of owning and controlling the resources of victimized sovereign nations via Violent Aggression ——– Death will continue to Blossom- Human blood will continue to Flow into the dust- Survivors will fill “refugee camps” as homeless/rootless beggars.

      The Middle East is now an oscillating quagmire, a cauldron of treachery and turmoil– the perfect picture of the adage, ” sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.”

      What’s this all about? — The control of gas and oil— and the murderous criminal offenders remain free to speak ambiguous lies in hypocrisy, shifting blame and distorting reality.

      It’s a Damn Shame… .

      • Daniel
        October 13, 2015 at 10:01

        Hear, hear

    • Dick Chicanery
      October 13, 2015 at 10:58

      In that sense it has been an colossal success.

  13. October 12, 2015 at 23:08

    Bernie Sanders has a great answer for Saudi whining. He says that if the Saudis (who have a huge military) regard confronting terrorism as so important, let them put boots on the ground in hot-spots in the Middle East, instead of asking Americans to do so.

  14. Abe
    October 12, 2015 at 23:02

    Syria, Russia & Iran – The New Equation

  15. Abbybwood
    October 12, 2015 at 22:38

    I was at Politicon in L.A. this past Friday night and saw the documentary about the rise of Cenk Uygur and The Young Turks called “Mad As Hell”.

    Part of the story told of how he rose at MSNBC then was quickly demoted because the Democrat establishment in D.C. did not like his “tone”.

    He was literally told that his criticisms of the Obama White House would not be tolerated and then he was replaced by Al Sharpton who started frequenting The White House for “meetings”.

    We no longer have an adversarial press in the United States within the MSM that seeks objective truth from all sides.

    It is now strictly a Neocon “Deep State” propaganda operation.

    There is a name for a society like ours and it is not “democracy”.

  16. October 12, 2015 at 22:34

    Going as far back as the fall of 2008 Steve Croft has dedicated himself to deriding, the then Sen. Obama, for not wearing a Flag button on his suit in a Meet the Press interview on 9/7/2008- (one of the luminaries he used as a source was a certain Gen. Bill Gann – USAF-ret).
    Later Mr. Croft in an interviewed with George Soros (date unknown to me) insinuating throughout the interview, that the now Pres. Obama, was Mr. Soros’s lackey etc etc etc.
    That being said, I would ask that Consortium do their own study of what I very distinctly recall from a number of years ago – prior to my simply declaring Mr. Croft to be a thundering A-Hole.

  17. BobS
    October 12, 2015 at 21:09

    Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders, do you agree with Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu who has stated “that Israel has created an apartheid reality within its borders and through its occupation”, and if not, why not?

  18. F. G. Sanford
    October 12, 2015 at 21:07

    Kroft: Mr. President, Putin is bombing the people we support, how do you respond to that?
    President: Look, Steve, that’s a National Security issue. I’m going to have to engage in deflective banter and and standard talking points to avoid that, because, obviously Steve, and stop me if I’m wrong, I can’t admit on national television that we’re supporting Al Qaida. So, Assad must go will have to suffice. And Putin is in a quagmire.
    Kroft: But Mr. President, you’re simply not providing – dare I say it – the n-word. You’re not being sufficiently neocon. They’re saying you’re not being sufficiently neocon.
    President: Now, Steve, that’s where we disagree. I’m definitely a neocon. Now, you brought this up, so just let me respond. The neocons wanted to stay in Afghanistan, so I stayed. Bush couldn’t get a Status of Forces agreement to keep us in Iraq. So we had to pull out under his timetable. But my people went right to work destabilizing the Malaki government, and I got us right back into Iraq. Now, keep in mind, Bush did about three hundred drone strikes. I bet I’ve done three thousand. So, Steve, how do you figure I’m not a neocon?
    Kroft: OK, Mr. President, I’m asking the questions here, but I’ll concede, maybe you’re a “neocon lite”.
    President: Let’s stick to the facts here, Steve. My people also instigated a terrorist uprising against Ghaddafy, and as soon as he cracked down, I had those three banshee (w)itches screaming for humanitarian intervention, and we liberated the Libyan people from that brutal dictator. How’s that for neocon?
    Kroft: Mr. President, without being overtly disrespectful, I’d like to try to get you to trash Hillary. What about Benghazi?
    President: Steve, we’ve been through this before. Benghazi was a gun running operation. The Republicans think that somehow, they can catch Hillary in a coverup. But the only way to do that is produce a finding signed by me to implicate the CIA. The Republicans are more afraid of them than I am, so this is going to die on the vine. Besides, I’m not dumb enough to sign that kind of finding. Nixon might have done that, but not me.
    Kroft: Mr. President, would you consider running again?
    President: Steve, I may be a neocon, but I’m not stupid. When this whole thing falls apart, I want Hillary or The Donald to take the rap. Any more questions?

    • October 12, 2015 at 23:50

      way to read between the lines.
      citizens of the soviet union were expert at reading between the lines of Pravda (truth) communist party publications … it was considered an art form.
      an art form u.s. citizens should not have to master … but obviously have to.

      • Joe Tedesky
        October 13, 2015 at 06:05

        Jose, is reporting this;

        I’m not sure if the real Russians get to read the linked article, but that is what is reported on the English

        Over at Thierry Meyssen is claiming that Washington is secretly negotiating with the Kremlin. Meyssen elaborates on in his piece, that most of Syria’s problems can be blamed on the French. I’m not sure about all of that, but it is worth the read.

        By all accounts Putin is more popular at home, than President Obama is here in the U.S.. I also, think that the Kroft Obama conversation described by F.G. here is probably more the truth, than what we witnessed on the boob tube. Remember, the elite media and our politico class, thinks we were all down at Chucky Cheese this weekend, drunk and flashing our guns at each other, over a spilled pitcher of brew. If the elite don’t get some of us real jobs pretty soon, you will have uber drivers driving uber drivers to work. They already know how why many of us aren’t getting married anymore, because that’s where our benefits are. We’re not stupid, but that’s what they think. Oh, talking about stupid be sure to tune into the CNN Democratic Debates tonight. There’s rumor that Joe Biden might make a surprise appearance. Now, doesn’t that just sound like fun…it’s good TV Man!

    • Joe Tedesky
      October 13, 2015 at 05:31

      Ah, the old fly on the wall!

  19. jaycee
    October 12, 2015 at 20:57

    The American mainstream media is long past the old standards of journalism, to the extent it did exist. These days, it is part of the STRATCOM system. In that respect, Kroft is an employee, who is reflecting the views of his employers. Who owns CBS, or CNN, NBC, etc?

  20. Jim Hannan
    October 12, 2015 at 20:56

    I thought Obama pushed back against the Kroft spin pretty well. Kroft was definitely off his meds during the interview.

    There is some irony in Republicans accusing Obama of being weak on Syria. When Obama did want to bomb Syria after the supposed chemical weapons attack, it was the conservatives in Congress who said no. Has Kroft already forgotten that?

    • dahoit
      October 13, 2015 at 12:23

      Total bs.The only people opposed to bombing Syria are the electorate,who flooded the airwaves of govt to protest.The conservatives like McCain are bloodthirsty monsters.

  21. Jeff Orchard
    October 12, 2015 at 20:08

    That’s Kroft. After the Iraq WMD fraud became undeniable, this same “journalist” took to the airwaves to plaintively inquire: why didn’t Saddam Hussein just let weapons inspectors inside of Iraq? Perhaps, surmised Kroft, Saddam Hussein was suicidal – had a death wish. Otherwise, golly, why didn’t he just let the weapons inspectors in so they could see he had no WMD? Apparently Kroft was in his crypt when the IAEA was searching for WMD in Iraq going hither and yon unimpeded. Evidently, no one remembered to tell Kroft that the IAEA weapons inspectors were ordered out of Iraq by George W. Bush so he could launch his shock and awe bombardment. Now Bush was claiming he had to attack Iraq because Saddam Hussein wouldn’t allow weapons inspectors inside the country. So here comes a 60 Minutes segment reinforcing Bush’s lie featuring Kroft . CBS News, the Tiffany network’s finest propaganda offering.

    • Abbybwood
      October 13, 2015 at 14:34

      I recall sitting in front of my TV watching the first strikes of Bush’s “Shock and Awe” campaign thinking, “Well, if Saddam has WMD’s now will be the time to take Israel out.”

      Nothing. They had NOTHING.

  22. Masud Awan
    October 12, 2015 at 19:29

    No mater what people call him, Obama, for the very first time in the contemporary history of the U.S. succeeded in defeating the Ziocon stretigy on two fronts: Negotiating instead of bombing Iran on the nuclear issue; and, gradually creating circumstances for political settlement instead of regime change in Syria. He will fall from grace in the political history of the U.S. but he will be remembered as first president causing visible damage to Ziocon influence on U.S foreign policy.

    • dahoit
      October 13, 2015 at 12:21


      October 14, 2015 at 11:57

      Remember when a paper was handed to Gen Clark saying that we had 3 countries and needed 4 more to get the oil of the West? Then we hit Egypt,Lybia & then Syria. President Obama did save us from a world war when so many wanted him to go to war. Thats when he said “Whats wrong with with the word negociate?” He was called many names such as girl dressed in pink,coward & many more but he stood his ground. Now he has been trying to get our country out of Syria. Now I believe he is starting to see that he was given bad advice by those working for him. That the reason for us going to war with these countries was wrong. We don’t need anymore oil as the oil found in N.Dak.& Montana was one of the greatest every found.I believe that PresidentObama is one of our greatest president. I voted for him twice and wish he could run again. He tried to get so many programs in like working on our roads,our rail rounds and more programs that was needed but was filabusted more times then any president that we have ever had. The house run by Republicans would not release the money as all they wanted was to make Pres.Obama a one time president. These Republicans never thought about the suffering of our people they just wanted to make President Obama look weak so they kept our money from him. If he had gotten the money he would have brought our country out of this depression long ago. I ,for one, will send him all the money I can as I want him to know that I trust him in all things and will always talk good about him. My religion tells me to pray for our leaders as God is the one that puts them in power. I prayed for Bush and now I pray for President Obama. Gramma Ellen

  23. Zachary Smith
    October 12, 2015 at 19:01

    The transcripts I’ve read have Kroft behaving as a perfect jerk, to use a non-profane term.

    How did he get the notion that the kind of insults he as delivering was at all appropriate? Perhaps Kroft is – as a Syrian blogger said in his own harsh comments about the interview – “a professional Zionist liar, thug and charlatan”.

    Seems to me that a professional could effectively interview the president without being so obnoxious.

    • Abbybwood
      October 13, 2015 at 14:30

      I think it is safe to say that will be Kroft’s last interview with Obama.

    • Sydney Lara
      October 14, 2015 at 15:10

      This is a repeat of other MSN propaganda interviews and reports. Accordingly, for the last several months, I’ve banned *all* US news propaganda from my life. Instead, I get my information on US/World news online with respectable reporters such as Robert Parry;, Paul Craig Roberts, Mike Whitney and many others.

      In a nutshell, American news media corporations are as corrupt and propagandized as much as our financial, health care, and banking corporations are.

  24. ltr
    October 12, 2015 at 18:36

    October 12, 2015

    Obama’s Doctrine of Restraint

    For Putin it’s clear where the weakness lies: in the White House.

    [ The sheer meanness of a Roger Cohen is difficult to understand. Ignorance, I get. Meanness is needless. ]

  25. James lake
    October 12, 2015 at 17:54

    Yes but Obama falls into the trap by slagging of Putin. He makes it obvious it rankles him personally to be compared unfavourably to him. He should deflect the question. And talk about strategy and policy(?)

    I have never ever heard Putin stoop to personally insult a leader or country, no even the ukraine, or Turkey or the US.

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