The Reckless Guns of October

Exclusive: With Official Washington’s armchair warriors demanding confrontation with Russia over Syria, the prospects for the conflict spinning out of control rise by the day. Years from now, historians may shake their heads over the failure to compromise, cooperate and deescalate, as Daniel Lazare describes.

By Daniel Lazare

Reports that U.S. and Russian warplanes came within 10 to 20 miles of one another just a few seconds at supersonic speeds illustrates how dangerous the military situation in Syria has become. So are calls by Al Nusra, Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, for jihadis in the Caucasus to kill Russians in retribution for every Syrian death.

As the conflict continues to escalate, the danger of the fire spreading more broadly rises as well. In a few years, historians looking back on “The Guns of October 2015” might see it as something like this:

Like the Crash of 2008, the military conflict that flamed out of control in the Middle East in late 2015 was one of those events that are understandable in hindsight yet a total surprise when they actually occur.  The crisis began several years earlier when Arab Spring protests in Syria provided the opening for a widespread revolt by the Muslim Brotherhood and other fundamentalists. But when President Bashar al-Assad took measures to suppress the revolt, the United States accused him of blocking the legitimate democratic aspirations of his people and demanded that he step down.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia and his entourage arrive to greet President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

King Salman of Saudi Arabia and his entourage arrive to greet President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This was to be expected since the United States had backed “regime change” in Tunisia and Egypt and in Libya, where NATO war planes provided rebels with the edge they needed to topple long-time dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi. But the problem in Syria was that while the Assad government was certainly repressive, the armed opposition was even worse. In the name of democracy, the U.S. thus found itself channeling arms and funds not only to the Muslim Brotherhood, but an array violent Sunni extremists intent on imposing a crushing dictatorship on a diverse religious population.

Increasingly fearful of a “Shi‘ite crescent” stretching from Lebanon to Yemen, the arch-Sunnis of Saudi Arabia and other super-rich Arab petro-states also pitched in, flooding the rebels with “hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons,” as Vice President Joe Biden later put it, in an effort to promote “a proxy Sunni-Shia war” aimed at toppling Assad’s supposedly Shi’ite-dominated government.

The effect was to send sectarianism to stratospheric heights. In March 2011, the Saudis and United Arab Emirates sent troops into Bahrain to protect the Sunni royal family against widespread protests on the part of the island kingdom’s 70-percent Shi‘ite majority. Four years later, the Saudis, along with eight other Sunni Arab states, declared war on Shi‘ite Houthi rebels in Yemen, launching nightly air raids and later a ground invasion that, with U.S. technical backing, killed more than 2,300 civilian and rendered millions homeless.

The Arabian Peninsula was ringed with fire as Sunnis clashed with their Shi‘ite rivals in a growing number of locales. The Saudis, dependent on an arch-Sunni Wahhabist religious establishment, bore prime responsibility for the debacle. But the U.S. fanned the flames by providing military support for its allies in Riyadh in an effort to rein in Iran, which Washington continued to regard as the prime enemy in the Middle East.

Amid such violence, Russian intervention, beginning on Sept. 30, 2015, had an explosive impact. The initiative drew condemnation from NATO, but widespread support from critics who had long complained that while attacking the terrorist organization known as Al Qaeda in a half-dozen or more countries, the U.S. had remained silent while aid flowed to Al Nusra, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, and even to ISIS, a splinter group whose penchant for violence was even more extreme.

As even the notoriously blinkered New York Times observed, ISIS (also known as ISIL, Islamic State, and Daesh) continued to draw support from “private donors mainly in Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.” Five years after then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton complained in a secret diplomatic memo that that individual Saudis “constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” it appeared that the kingdom was still allowing funds to flow to terrorist groups, up to and including Islamic State.

A Full-of-Holes Coalition

So not only was America’s anti-ISIS coalition full of holes, but its efforts to support “moderate” rebels against Islamic State was fallacious since it had long been evident that the various factions cooperated on the battlefield and shared weapons. As one expert put it: “The problem is this kaleidoscopic number of opposition groups that are constantly making deals with each other. Everybody has been associated with Al Qaeda at some point.”

Consequently, Russia’s decision to combat all Syrian rebels ISIS, Al Qaeda and “Free Syrian Army” alike met with applause in many quarters though not in the power corridors of Washington. A humiliated Barack Obama had no choice but to shut down a much-derided $500-million program to train rebels to fight ISIS, which had generated only a few dozen fighters whom Al Nusra promptly captured or killed.

President Obama might have withdrawn entirely by that point or even opted to join forces with Russia against the fundamentalists. But pressure from Israel, Saudi Arabia and an increasingly belligerent foreign-policy establishment at home rendered that all but impossible.

With Steve Kroft of the CBS news program “60 Minutes” taunting Obama for showing “weakness” in Syria “He’s challenging your leadership, Mr. President.  He’s challenging your leadership,” Kroft said of Russian President Vladimir Putin Obama soon caved. [For more information of Kroft’s extraordinary intervention, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Needling Obama for More Wars.”]

In short order, rebels were enjoying a bumper crop of U.S. military aid, including high-tech TOW missiles, small arms and ammo air-dropped by American cargo planes. “By bombing us, Russia is bombing the thirteen ‘Friends of Syria’ countries,” a jubilant rebel commander said, referring to the U.S. and other nations that had called for Assad’s ouster in 2011. A proxy war between the United States and Russia began to take shape.

Although the White House balked at supplying the rebels with man-portable air-defense systems, pressure mounted from neoconservative politicians and pundits. A CNN op-ed that Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a leading voice on national security issues, wrote on Oct. 13, 2015, was particularly chilling. It called on Obama to inflict severe pain on Russia and Putin regardless of the consequences:

“There is an opportunity here to impose significant costs on an adversary that wants to undercut the United States everywhere. It is an opportunity to weaken an anti-American ruler who will always view us as an enemy. We cannot shy away from confronting Russia in Syria, as Putin expects the administration will do. His intervention has raised the costs and risks of greater U.S. involvement in Syria, but it has not negated the steps we need to take. Indeed, it has made them more imperative.

“We must act now to defend civilian populations and our opposition partners in Syria. As Gen. David Petraeus and others have advocated, we must establish enclaves in Syria where civilians and the moderate opposition to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and ISIS can find greater security. These enclaves must be protected with greater American and coalition airpower and likely foreign troops on the ground. We should not rule out that U.S. forces could play a limited role in this ground contingent. If al-Assad continues to barrel bomb civilians in Syria, we should destroy his air force’s ability to operate.

“We must back up our policy in ways that check Putin’s ambitions and shape his behavior. If Russia attacks our opposition partners, we must impose greater costs on Russia’s interests — for example, by striking significant Syrian leadership or military targets. But we should not confine our response to Syria. We must increase pressure on Russia elsewhere. We should provide defensive weapons and related assistance to Ukrainian forces so they can take a greater toll on Russian forces. And if Putin continues to strike Syrian civilians and our opposition partners, we should ramp up targeted sanctions on Russia. Low energy prices are battering Russia’s economy and currency. We should increase that pain.”

Mounting Saudi-Iran Tensions

This was the logic of ceaseless escalation. A future journalist might have observed that tensions at the same time were mounting dangerously between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Conflict between the two states dated back to the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which captured the imagination of Muslim militants throughout the world and threatened to expose the Saudis as corrupt and complacent supporters of the status quo.

But the more the Saudis sought to burnish their Muslim credentials by recruiting thousands of mujahedeen to battle Soviet “infidels” in Afghanistan and spending tens of billions of dollars to spread their ultra-conservative brand of Islam, the more the Sunni-Shi‘ite rivalry intensified.

“The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally ‘God help the Shia,’” Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan reportedly told Sir Richard Dearlove, head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, prior to 9/11. “More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them.”

Prince Saud al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s long-time foreign minister, remarked to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that “Daesh is our response to your support for the Da’wa,” the Shi‘ite Islamist party that the 2003 U.S. invasion helped install in Iraq.

ISIS was bad when it threatened the Saudi monarchy, but somewhat less so when it warred against Shi‘ism. But 2015 marked a turning point. Once they began bombing Houthi rebels in Yemen in Saudi eyes a cat’s paw for the Iranians the Saudis encouraged Wahhabist clerics to denounce their enemy across the Strait of Hormuz in ever more poisonous terms. A day after the war began, for instance, the state news channel granted air time to a radical mullah named Saad bin Ateeq al-Atee to declare that Yemen was meant to be “purely for monotheism,” that it “may not be polluted neither by Houthis nor Iranians,” and that “we are cleansing the land from these rats.”

Iranian officials responded by accusing the Saudis of “follow[ing] the footsteps of Zionist Israel” and predicting that “the House of Saud will fall soon.” But the language turned even harsher after the Sept. 24 Mecca stampede, which killed at least 1,453 people, a third of them Iranians.

Amid complaints that Saudi police were rude and indifferent, refusing to allow religious pilgrims, many of them elderly, to leave the area despite extreme heat, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Saudi Arabia to apologize to the “Muslim world” for allowing the disaster to take place, promising “a harsh and tough reaction” if the kingdom did not promptly return the bodies of those who had been killed.

Other Iranian leaders were even more incendiary. Instead of diplomacy, President Hassan Rouhani warned that Iran would use “the language of authority” in its dealings with the Saudis. Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, vowed to “make the Saudi dynasty answer for the crimes it committed,” adding:

“The Muslim world is tired of the Saudis’ betrayals and ignorance including the massacre of the people of Yemen, displacement of the poor people of Syria, repression of the people of Bahrain, ethnic massacres in Iraq, creation of ethnic tension and support of terrorism. The Saudis shall melt in the anger of the Muslims.”

Mohsen Rezaei, Jafari’s predecessor as head of the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, warned Riyadh: “Don’t play with fire, because the fire will burn you don’t follow the example of Saddam [Hussein], who in the middle of the Iraq-Iran War had no way out.”

This was tantamount to a declaration of war. Jafari went so far as to compare the Saudis to Abu Lahab, in Islamic lore an uncle of the prophet Muhammad who fought against the Muslim cause. It was the equivalent of the pope calling the head of the Russian Orthodox church a “Judas” or even a “Satan.”

What’s the End Game?

The direction this narrative is heading seems all too clear. One possibility is a clash between Saudi and Iranian forces in the Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil supply route, a revival in certain respects of the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s but with F-15 fighter-bombers in the hands of the Saudis and, on the Iranian side, Shabab-3 missiles.

Admittedly, there are countervailing tendencies. With a 20-percent budget deficit due to a precipitous decline in oil prices, Riyadh is under growing strain. In September 2015, a senior Saudi prince wrote two letters condemning the war in Yemen and calling for King Salman, a hardliner with close ties to the Wahhabist ulema, to be removed. Rumors of a palace coup are spreading.

A normal state might pull in its horns as a consequence. But Saudi Arabia is one of the most bizarre political entities in history, a giant kleptocracy governed by super-rich “coupon-clippers,” as do-nothing  capitalists were once known.

As a result, its behavior is growing more erratic, which is why some sort of military provocation with Iran is impossible to rule out. For years, the U.S. has encouraged to the gulf states to “recycle” their oil profits for the latest in high-tech weaponry. The Arabs have followed America’s advice all too closely, and now the region seems set to explode.

 Daniel Lazare is the author of several books including The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace).

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24 comments for “The Reckless Guns of October

  1. Joe Tedesky
    October 16, 2015 at 10:17 am

    This is a great article. I have been saying, for to long now, how the U.S. should team up with Russia. I’ll throw in China, as well. The Saudi’s and the Israeli’s must go. While the Saudi’s use Al-Qaeda for their foot soldiers, Israel attends to Al-Qaeda’s wounded. Assad is always described as being bad, but does this warrant the U.S. backing the head choppers? The American defense industry is so big, it can’t function properly due to it’s being so overweight, and capsizing from all it’s money. What, McCain advocates for us to do with Petraeus, is the very problem the U.S. suffers from. That problem is to much intervention into other countries affairs. Although, by me saying that, I (by McCain’s standards) he would consider me UN-American. The Hanoi songbird, and the much too decorated General, should be brought up on charges of treason, for all the mischievous acts they have committed in our name. Now, who is UN-American?

    • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
      October 16, 2015 at 2:00 pm

      Just because they voiced their opinion, and their opinion was wrong, does not mean they have committed treason. They are not running the country, and they have not put their ideas into action, so they are not guilty of treason. Even if they were running the country, they would not be guilty of treason, but of criminal incompetency.

      • Joe Tedesky
        October 16, 2015 at 11:54 pm

        Here is a link for you to read;

        http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2012/03/john-mccain-founding-father-of.html

        Last time I checked, it is unlawful to assist in an overthrow of a sovereign nation. McCain gave speechs in Ukraine, encouraging an overthrow of a democratically elected sovereign government. Is this allowed by the U.S. Constitution? You do know that this whole time the U.S. has been bombing in Syria, that these bombings have been illegally? Go on you tube and enter, ‘Paula Broadwell states Benghazi CIA facility had secret prison’. This would be Hillary’s Benghazi in Libya when Petraeus was head of the CIA. If, by traditional standards either of these war criminals were to be judged, they would certainly be found guilty of aiding and abetting the world’s terrorist. (Reference my above link) Although, by the John Yoo ike mindset of evaluating the U.S. Constitution, the American legal system has leeway to allow for this type of behavior. This Brzezinskesque strategy of using proxies to fight our imagined enemies, is a dangerous game to play. If you dislike Putin, then at least know, that Russia’s actions in Syria are perfectly legal. Legal, because Russia was invited to join with the sovereign Syrian government, in their fight against the covert mercenaries the west has employed there to overthrow Assad. Using a Grand Chess Board war plan, and pretending to be fighting the very head choppers we are secretly supporting, has allowed Putin to pull a Catch 22 on the U.S. Syrian war plan. So, let’s just say this, if McCain and Petraeus aren’t treasonous, then at least admit that they are not very deep thinking leaders. My one problem is, is that by their not be deep thinkers, this shortsightedness effects every peace loving person on this planet. That’s you, and me, and all the rest of humanity. You keep believing what you feel best believing, but for me, I’ll keep on advocating for an American foreign policy which doesn’t rely on so much deceit in order to accomplish it’s greedy goals.

    • Abe
      October 16, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      More accurately, while the Israelis have used Al-Qaeda for their foot soldiers (to degrade Syrian economic and military capabilities), the Saudis attend to Al-Qaeda’s supply and financing.

      Guess who’s more upset about Russian air power in Syria.

    • Peter Loeb
      October 17, 2015 at 5:05 am

      WHEN DID “IT” START? AND ETC.

      To Joe Tedesky and others

      On October 15,2015 I submitted a comment entitled
      “BOTH SIDES OF YOUR MOUTH”. I re-edited it
      for easier reading and forwarded it to Robert
      Parry.(not for republishing).

      In its response in Syria Russia has implemented
      the remedy put forth by the UN Security Council
      on February 22, 2014, in point # 14 on page 4
      of S/Res/2139(2014).

      This resolution was passed by the UN Council
      (not the General Assembly) unanimously.
      The US agreed to it as well and then consigned
      it to the “memory hole” of history.
      Within days, the Administration was talking
      about “regime change” which is illegal by
      international law. Since the US proclaims to
      the world that the US “speaks for the international
      community”—not the international community
      which expressed itself unanimously in the UN Security
      Council!—its declarations are unquestioned
      (and unquestionable)—“reality” as real as a TV show.

      While agreeing to the resolution, the US did what it
      wanted as is usually the case.

      Mr. Lazare above reveals much about the processes
      and facts but conveniently leaves out entirely the
      unanimous Security Council resolution.In so doing,
      Mr. Lazare has in large measure agreed to consign
      the resolution to the “memory hole” along with the
      US and its friends.

      Russia has its own motives and interests as do
      all nations in international diplomacy. Why did
      Russia wait? for example.

      What exactly has been the role of Israel? (One is
      relieved that US Secretary of State John Kerry
      has been dispatched to visit with Benyamin
      Netanyahu. Evidently no representatives for
      Hamas . This is not odd at all based on US
      domestic concerns but given the situation is
      extremely mysterious indeed.

      But then the US has proclaimed itself the “mediator”
      between a side to which it provides arms and
      intelligence and any and all opposition.

      Of course, the US can by definition NOT be any
      mediator and any talks should be considered as
      discussions between the weapons provider and the
      one and only side to which it provides weapons.

      —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

      • Joe Tedesky
        October 17, 2015 at 11:04 am

        Peter, always good to read your comments. What I took away from this article, was McCain’s bluster. Unfortunately, I didn’t take into account, what the author may have left out. Most of what Daniel Lazare didn’t say, didn’t seem to matter much to me, as much as what his reporting did say. I have an average comprehension level, and what I took from this piece, was how the U.S. continues stirring up trouble all over the world. My criticism of McCain and Petraeus drew a harsh reply from Rikhard, and I responded to his remarks. I will admit Peter, mentioning how the U.S. ignored what it had to agreed to with the UN General Council, is important to it’s actions. While Lazare left out the UN part, he definitely painted McCain for what he is, a warmongering loud mouth capo boss. Like it was mentioned here, these comment boards are an addiction, but I often learn as much, if not more from the comment section. You all have your points of view, and I get inspired from your comments, to only continue on to learn more about where today’s events may be taking all of us. In a strange way, I find it satisfying that we don’t all see things the same way always. Now Peter by you introducing the UN resolution into the conversation, you just added that fine quality into the discussion…I guess a thank you is in order, and I do thank you for that. Peace!

  2. October 16, 2015 at 10:36 am

    this report must have been produced by someone looking at “light distorted by a prism.”
    there is only one goal for Washington, Riyadh and tel-aviv … survival.
    their survival depends on the petro-dollar remaining the “global reserve currency.”
    the only way for that to happen is for Siberian republics to break apart from European Russia, and accept i.m.f. “development aid loans” with terms for privatization of services, and state assets. terms allowing Siberian wealth to be exploited by shell, bp, and exxon, etc., etc.. with multinational corporations receiving the contracts for infrastructure “development.” the same for China, and Iran. this is how the powers that rule Washington remain the powers that rule Washington.
    if the powers that rule Washington survive, Riyadh, and tel-aviv survive … one could say that they are one and the same.
    the Russian Federation is not going to break apart, China is not going to give up, Iran is not going to give up without a fight. either the powers that rule Washington accept bankruptcy, or they burn us all in a nuclear bon-fire.
    there is only one way to avert a nuclear conflict … for U.S. Citizens to accept poverty.

    • October 16, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      It hasn’t be that harsh. For a start it would be great if the US citizens, who in average use double the energy and resources than Europeans and about eight times as much as everybody else, just would scale back their consumption to be more in line with the rest of the world.

      Shouldn’t be too hard to achieve with a little bit of ingenuity by the “exceptional nation.”

    • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
      October 16, 2015 at 1:57 pm

      That sounds completely nonsensical. The ethnic Turkic republics of Siberia breaking off from Russia? Them, China, and Iran getting developmental aid loans with terms for the privatization of services and state loans, terms allowing Shell, BP, Exxon, etc., to exploit Siberian oil, and multinational corporations getting contracts for infrastructure development there? The fact that that is what Washington wants? And possibly implying the breakaway of ethnic-minority dominated states in China and Iran? That is nonsensical.

      Also, the claim that “the powers that rule Washington, Riyadh, and Tel Aviv” “are one and the same” sounds like you are implying the International Jewish Conspiracy, which of course is anti-Semitic. Not only that, there is no reason to think that the U.S is confronting Russia over the U.S dollar.

      There is no reason to think that the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria have anything to do with that – the Ukrainian rebels seceded because of their support for Yanukovitch, the U.S wanted to intervene in Syria because of its wish to overthrow Assad, it intervened in Syria to stop the Islamic State, Russia intervened in Syria to stop the Islamic State, and the U.S is opposed to this because Russia is attacking the rebels and the Islamic State, due to it supporting the Assad regime.

      Also, “if the powers that rule Washington”, “Riyadh, and Tel Aviv survive”, how does that make them “one and the same”? Can’t that simply mean simply that they survived?

      I conclude that you are a conspiracy theorist, possibly anti-Semitic, and have no credibility.

      • natoistan
        October 16, 2015 at 2:35 pm

        You are very naive…

      • October 16, 2015 at 3:19 pm

        first off; the u.s. dollar depends on Riyadh and o.p.e.c. only accepting u.s. dollars for it’s oil, and recycling it’s excess back into the u.s. economy; see Nixon, end to Breton woods, and Saudi Arabia 1971-73 (petrodollar as coined Georgetown economics professor Ibrahim Oweiss.)
        Riyadh is deeply seeded in wahabist ideology which calls for elimination of any belief other than sunni islam. it is also royalist, and fears Baathist republican Arabism. without Washington’s protection, the Saudi family could be deposed.

        second; semitc peoples are defined as a linguistic group originating in north east Africa and Arabia. these languages include ahlamu, akkadian, assyirian, Amharic, amelekite, ammonite, Amorite, Arabian, Aramaic, Canaanite languages (Phoenician, Carthaginian, and Hebrew), Chaldean, and edomite …
        and I personally do not have anything against anyone who speaks these languages. they are people, born equally human under the sun. I resent being accused of bigotry.

        thirdly; a “theory” is formed using unrelated facts, which together form an explanatory framework for some observation, and from these facts an explanation follows, that can be tested in order to provide support for, or challenge, the theory.
        a “conspiracy” is where two or more individuals co-inspire each other, usually in an agreement to deceive, mislead, or defraud others of their legal rights or to gain an unfair advantage.
        when a prosecutor steps into the court room to prosecute two or more defendants, they step into armed with a “conspiracy theory,” which is then considered by judge and jury, to be found true beyond a doubt, or not. most “conspiracy theories” do not get to trial.
        … as for the idea that zionism plays a large role in the white house … I present the following link.https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/obamajews.html

        if the u.s. dollar is to remain the “global reserve currency” it must maintain demand, or remove any alternate choices … if China, or the Russian Federation would go away, the u.s. dollar would have no competition, and would maintain global demand. no u.s. dollars, no chance at buying oil, or trading internationally for that matter.
        If you did not know, now you know … if you ignore facts, it is because you are ignorant.

      • Idiotland
        October 17, 2015 at 12:23 pm

        Classic troll method of trying to shut down dissent by accusing those who disagree with you of “anti-semitism” and being “conspiracy theorists.” Congratulations, you learned well from your paymasters.

    • Abe
      October 17, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      What part of “Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.” (Ariel Sharon) don’t you understand?

      Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen, I conclude from the frequency of your “conspiracy theorist” and “anti-Semitic” slurs against commenters that you are nonsensical, possibly a Hasbara troll, and have no credibility.

  3. Ajit
    October 16, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    Situation is eerily similar to First world war. Then too, arrogant,stupid monarchies sawed off the branch of the tree they were sitting on.

  4. LJ
    October 16, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    This is why McCain did not win the Presidency. He’s a hothead, a surface thinker and an idiot. Russia is just going to sit there and not retaliate in an asymmetrical manner. They are ahead of us on the chessboard . They are better players and they go long. They played the Great Game for 2 Centuries. Great Britain is over. Russia will not go away. And their ally, China, is not going to applaud our actions against Russia while we increase military tensions in the South China Sea as we push ABE for further militarization in Japan while the Japanese people and the Okinawans are not in step. This is a dangerous time for US allies and next year with an election in the USA things could spiral out of control..

  5. Abe
    October 16, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    Let’s hope the Guns of October don’t become the US-Russian Missiles of December.

  6. October 17, 2015 at 2:56 am

    The article contains the following memorable sentence:

    “But the problem in Syria was that while the Assad government was certainly repressive, the armed opposition was even worse.”

    I’m fighting against windmills. Most article here adhere to the unwritten rule of Western journalism, that reports about Syria have to be spiced with a reference to the repressive and brutal nature of the “Assad regime.” One wonders when the phrase “butcher Assad” finally will appear on this website.

    Is the Assad regime more repressive than the Netanyahu regime, which kills Palestinian kids as will, demolishes Palestinian houses, burns Palestinian olive orchards, and switches off water for Palestinian communities?

    Is the Assad regime more repressive than the Obama regime, which day in, day out kills African American people, jails peace activists and whistleblowers, assassinates supposed opponents all over the world, and keeps suspects in indefinite detention without trial?

    It is one of the main tricks of propaganda, to base arguments and claims on key assumptions which are only referred to and which are never discussed or proven. After a few hundred repetitions, with every journalist parroting his/her peers, these key assumptions are regarded as fact. They are not challenged by writers or readers, because “everyone says it,” “everyone knows it.” They are a given and they have become common knowledge.

    In this respect I have to say to the author: “Well done.”

    • Jonathan Dlouhy
      October 20, 2015 at 7:11 pm

      This goes as well for the use of the word “dictator” to describe Gaddafi. No proof is given, just a flat assertion thereby cutting off debate.

  7. F. G. Sanford
    October 17, 2015 at 5:04 am

    I keep coming back to Consortiumnews for the comments. Sometimes, I recall George Carlin’s advice: “It’s bad for ya.” And. I think, “I really gotta stop doing this.” But I guess it’s an addiction. Tilting at windmills is somewhat pointless, but in reading this article, I can’t help thinking: “How come we never hear about an atheist uprising…or an agnostic revolt?” Why is it nobody ever says, “You know Richard, there will come a time when thirty million agnostics will just have had enough of these atheists, and we’ll probably have to take out some Unitarians in the process…” There is one silver lining in all of this. WWIII will kill more loons than anything else. It’s a tragedy, but humanity appears to have no hope of self-directed evolutionary advancement. As apex predators, the only selective influence on human populations appears to be intraspecies genocide, war and mass murder.

    • Joe Tedesky
      October 17, 2015 at 11:31 am

      F.G., from one junky to another, could we be heading towards our attending meetings on Thursday evenings in some church hall? Could there be a CAA (Commenters Anonymous Association) intervention in our future? I have noticed in recent times how if there is a God, then he must have flipped the switch on who has compassion, and who does not. Between my Christian friends, and my atheist friends, it sure does seem like the atheist are winning when it comes to being blessed with Godly human compassion. The Christians are pissed off at everyone, and everything. At the same time the pagan (sarcasm) atheist are using some almost God like reasoning. I love how today you can build a mercenary army, attach a religious symbol to it, and of course arm them with TOW missiles, and then get John McCain to call them ‘our good friends’, and instigate a war somewhere on the other side of the globe, and then make the sign of the cross, and call this America the free! I would suggest, we all pray for peace, but on second thought, maybe just contemplate it.

  8. Richard Steven Hack
    October 17, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    “A humiliated Barack Obama…”

    And that’s the whole point, isn’t it? Barack Obama is a narcissistic self-regarding lightweight who is totally controlled by his desire to “look good” and the commands of the people he is beholden to for his entire political career. He sulks and pouts when his stupid policies are out-maneuvered by Vladimir Putin, a state leader who actually looks and acts like a statesman (or what passes for one these days), as opposed to a grinning, slick, vapid Chicago ward heeler.

    This professional asshole was elected by means of a stupid bumper sticker slogan – “Change We Can Believe In” – despite the fact that his official foreign policy as related on his campaign Web site in 2008 was little more than a repetition of “Bush Lite” – as I called it way back then. It was several years before Stephen Walt used the term showing how deep the Kool-Aid went.

    Most “pundits” today – even antiwar ones – are STILL giving Obama the benefit of the doubt by claiming that he’s not fully on board with the wars being planned by the war mongering neocons, military-industrial complex and Israel-First Zionists that he has surrounded himself with.

    It’s pathetic. How have we gone from 9/11 to a President who is DIRECTLY and DELIBERATELY supporting Al Qaeda in Syria without a single peep from the US electorate? Simple: The electorate are brainwashed ignorant morons.

    “Cheer up! Things could be worse!” Trust me – cheer up and things will be worse.

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