Seeing Syrian Crisis Through Russian Eyes

Exclusive: While there is a ray of hope that international negotiations may finally find a way to resolve the Syrian war, there is also growing pressure on President Obama to escalate U.S. military involvement even if that risks a wider war with Russia, a danger that ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern assesses.

By Ray McGovern

“To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war,” as Sir Winston Churchill put it at a White House luncheon on June 1954. The aphorism applies in spades today as the U.S., Russia and other key countries involved in troubles in Syria decide whether to jaw or to war.

Russia’s recent military intervention in Syria could open up new possibilities for those working for a negotiated solution or not. There does seem to be considerable overlap in U.S. and Russian interests and objectives.

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

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

For instance, both sides say they want to suppress terrorism, including the Islamic State (also known as ISIL, ISIS or Daesh) and Al Qaeda’s affiliate, the Nusra Front, and both the U.S. and Russia talk about the need for political reconciliation among Syria’s disparate religious and ethnic groups. The chief disagreement is over the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whether he “must go,” as U.S. officials insist, or whether that issue should be left to the ballots of the Syrian people, the view favored by Russia.

Yet, what happens in the next week or so whether it turns out to be a belated “jaw-jaw” or an escalated “war-war” will have a significant effect on bilateral U.S.-Russian relations, as well as developments in Syria, Iraq and the whole neighborhood, which now includes Europe because of the destabilizing flow of refugees.

So, I think it makes sense for me to undertake what we did at some of the best moments inside the CIA’s analytical branch: view a crisis from where the other side stood and thus project how an adversary (or a friend) might react to a U.S. initiative. A common trap in intelligence analysis is mirror-imaging assuming that others, whether adversaries or friends, look at facts and intentions the same way we do.

It can be helpful to step into the other side’s shoes and consider how its leaders are likely to see us. I make a stab at that below.

In what follows, I imagine myself working within Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (the SVR, Russia’s CIA equivalent) in the analysis office responsible for preparing The President’s Daily Brief for President Vladimir Putin. I further imagine that his daily brief resembles what the U.S. Intelligence Community prepares for the U.S. President. So, I pattern the item below after the (now declassified) PDB for President George W. Bush that on Aug. 6, 2001 famously warned him, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” (In my paper, intelligence assessments are presented in italics.)

The President’s Daily Brief

Oct. 28, 2015

Re Syria: Obama Trying to Fend Off US Hawks

President Obama is under severe pressure from senior military and intelligence officials and Congress to raise the ante in Syria.

Yesterday’s Washington Post lead story, sourced to unnamed U.S. officials, reported that Obama is considering Pentagon proposals to “put U.S. troops closer to front lines” in Iraq and Syria.

Diplomats at our embassy in Washington note that this kind of story often reflects decisions already made and about to be formally announced. In this particular case, however, the embassy thinks it at least equally likely that the Post is being used by officials who favor more aggressive military action, in order to put pressure on the President. During Obama’s first year in office, senior military leaders used the media to make it extremely difficult for Obama to turn down leaked Pentagon proposals to “surge” troops into Afghanistan.

Yesterday, Sen. John McCain, the Republican chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, used a Senate hearing to ridicule administration policy on Syria and grill Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford on the policy’s embarrassing failings. Carter said attacks against ISIL in Syria and Iraq would increase, including “direct action on the ground.” But Dunford admitted, “The balance of forces now are in Assad’s advantage.”

Facing heavy criticism for indecisiveness, Obama still seems reluctant to put many more U.S. Army or “moderate rebel” boots into the “quagmire” that he warned us against when we began our airstrikes. He would also wish to avoid the kind of destructive attacks that would pour still more Syrian refugees into Europe.

We do not think occasional “direct action on the ground” will change much. Indeed, a White House spokesman reiterated yesterday that the administration has “no intention of long-term ground combat.”

As for the “no-fly zone” advocated by McCain and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Secretary Carter said, “We have not made that recommendation to the President,” adding the obligatory caveat, “He hasn’t taken it off the table.” Dunford added, “From a military perspective, we can impose a no-fly zone.”


We continue to believe that Obama prefers to regard this past month’s events in Syria as an opportunity to bring the main players to the negotiating table rather than the battlefield.

Defense Secretary Carter called attention to talks later this week in Vienna, in which Secretary of State John Kerry will be engaged, that are “precisely aimed at the contours of [a] political settlement.” The big news here is that Kerry has dropped the U.S. objection to having Iran, a supporter of the Assad regime, participate.

As for Kerry, unlike his behavior in late summer 2013 and in early 2014, he seems to be following the President’s instructions to negotiate an end to the conflict and to the misery in Syria. 

Emerging on Friday from contentious talks with the Saudi and Turkish foreign ministers, as well as Foreign Minister Lavrov, Kerry sounded a hopeful note: “Diplomacy has a way of working through very difficult issues that seem to be absolutely contradictory … but if we can get into a political process, then sometimes these things have a way of resolving themselves.”

At the Senate hearing, Defense Secretary Carter called for an early political transition in Syria, but was careful to add, “The structures of the Syrian state are going to be important to the future, and we don’t want them to dissolve entirely. The U.S. approach to removing Assad has been mostly a political effort.”

At which point, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, a close ally of Sen. McCain, complained bitterly, “Assad is as secure as the day is long,” adding, “you have turned Syria over to Russia and Iran.”

The vitriol of McCain and Graham is no surprise. We want to make sure you know something about a relatively new player, JCS Chairman Joseph Dunford, who chose at his confirmation hearing on July 9, 2015, to let the world know that he is an unreconstructed Cold Warrior:

“If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia,” Dunford said. “If you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming.” Dunford added that he thought it reasonable to send heavy weapons to Ukraine.

Dunford took up his new duties at an inauspicious moment the day after we began launching air strikes against terrorist targets in Syria. Suffice it to say that, for the U.S. military and CIA, October has been one of the most humiliating months since the inglorious U.S. departure from Vietnam. It is important to bear that in mind.

We think this serves to double the pressure on President Obama to let loose the military on Syria and Iraq, as pushed by most of the corporate media that are attacking Obama for weakness and indecision. You will recall that he faced the same challenge in August 2013, when he came very close to letting himself be mouse-trapped into a major attack on Syria with U.S. forces.

A Special Danger

This time there is a new, quite delicate element of which you need to be aware the so-called “moderate” rebels whom the U.S. (primarily the CIA) trained, equipped, and inserted into Syria.  This issue came up at the Senate Armed Services Committee meeting yesterday, when Chairman McCain expressed particular concern for pro-U.S. Syrian rebels he said are now being bombed by Russia and Syria.

Defense Secretary Carter replied that “no rebel group directly supported by the Defense Department under the law had been attacked.” Casting a look of incredulity, McCain replied, “I promise you they have.”

This is a particularly sore spot for McCain and his CIA friends. Ten days into our air-strike campaign, another Washington Post lead story with the headline, “Early signs of Russian intent … Strikes seemed to catch White House flat-footed,” claimed that Russian aircraft “pounded” CIA-sponsored “moderate rebel groups … who appeared to get no warning that they were in Russian jets’ crosshairs.”

“U.S. officials” told the Post, “CIA Director John Brennan has voiced frustration with U.S. inaction as fighters trained and armed by the agency at camps in Jordan over the past two years face a Russia assault.”

CIA officials do not like to be seen as leaving their own in the lurch whether in the mountains of Syria or on the beaches of the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. Many serious scholars who have investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy conclude that Allen Dulles, who was fired by Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, led a cabal that killed him and then sat on the Warren Commission to cover it all up.

We doubt that John Brennan is up to playing that kind of role, or that Dunford, for example, could be persuaded to do what a Marine predecessor, Gen. Smedley Butler, refused to do, join a coup against the sitting U.S. President (in Butler’s case he rejected a right-wing scheme to remove President Franklin Roosevelt from office).But there is reason to think that Obama believes he has more to fear than the fate of his policies. One report alleges that he privately told friends of his fear of ending up like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In sum, Obama has ample reason to be afraid that powerful people in Establishment Washington, convinced they know better than he how to protect the country, might succeed in pinning on his back a “too-soft-on-the-Russians” bulls-eye.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was a CIA analyst for 27 years, from the administration of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush. From 1981 to 1985, McGovern prepared the President’s Daily Brief, which he briefed one-on-one to President Ronald Reagan’s five most senior national security advisers.

32 comments for “Seeing Syrian Crisis Through Russian Eyes

  1. Mortimer
    October 29, 2015 at 09:43

    Putin’s own words spoken 9/30/15 at UN — superb enlightenment.

  2. Mortimer
    October 29, 2015 at 09:23

  3. Mortimer
    October 29, 2015 at 09:14

    Ray McGovern- “This time there is a new, quite delicate element of which you need to be aware – the so-called “moderate” rebels whom the U.S. (primarily the CIA) trained, equipped, and inserted into Syria.”

    The below excerpt reveals an alternate ‘insert’ used by regime change architects.
    It is lucid example of what I referred to as “Vampireization”

    Syria’s White Helmets: War by Way of Deception – Part I
    OCTOBER 23, 2015
    Vanessa Beeley
    21st Century Wire

    “The Ivy League bourgeoisie who sit at the helm of the non-profit industrial complex will one day be known simply as charismatic architects of death. Funded by the ruling class oligarchy, the role they serve for their funders is not unlike that of corporate media. Yet, it appears that global society is paralyzed in a collective hypnosis – rejecting universal social interests, thus rejecting reason, to instead fall in line with the position of the powerful minority that has seized control, a minority that systematically favours corporate interests.” ~ Cory Morningstar

    In his recent speech Hezbollah leader, Sayyed Nasrallah, alluded to a multi-phase “soft war” which relies upon the mass media complex to disseminate propaganda and bias, propelling the Middle East into, primarily, a sectarian crisis before descending even further into regionalism and finally a devastating individualism.

    Cory Morningstar’s body of work does more than any other to expose the bare bones of the non-profit propaganda industry that governs both our reactions – and inactions, through a network of multi-layered and multi-faceted media manipulation campaigns, of which the end result is mass thought control. She explains:

    “The 21st century NGO is becoming, more and more, a key tool serving the imperialist quest of absolute global dominance and exploitation. Global society has been, and continues to be, manipulated to believe that NGOs are representative of “civil society” (a concept promoted by corporations in the first place). This misplaced trust has allowed the “humanitarian industrial complex” to ascend to the highest position: the missionaries of deity – the deity of the empire.”
    In a paper entitled, Foreign Aid and Regime Change: A Role for Donor Intent, (link included) written just prior to NATO intervention in Libya, Prof. Sarah Blodgett Bormeo describes the “democratization” process for target nations. Unwittingly or wittingly, Bormeo perfectly outlines the role played by NGOs in this process. Bormeo even goes so far as to pinpoint the lack of impartiality rife among NGOs large and small, the majority of whom, receive their funding directly from western government and major corporation sources – all of whom have a vested interest in the outcome of their NGO’s activities and ‘intervention’ in a particular location. Bormeo emphasises the importance of “picking winners” in this scenario, as opposed to respecting and supporting the will of the people in any sovereign nation.

    “Thus, it is possible that aid donors, in an effort to avoid further entrenching an “authoritarian” [my edit: this status is decided by donor] regime and perhaps increase the likelihood of democratization, channel funds through NGOs and civil society organizations in authoritarian states.”

    In this short video below, we are introduced to the US military’s symbiotic relationship with NGOs in countries [in this instance, Iraq] where the policy is to Induce Pacification & Advance Western Ideologies. NGOs are cynically used to “soften” cultures and render entire communities dependent upon foreign aid in order to facilitate “Democratization”.

    In this role, and dependent upon their donor support, NGOs cease to be the neutral, unbiased ‘humanitarian’ organisations they publically purport to be, and instead become actual covert tools for foreign intervention and regime change. By default, they are assimilated into the Western modus vivendi of “waging war by way of deception” and their purpose is to alter public perception of a conflict via a multitude of media and “marketing” channels.

    Following this formula, let’s examine, once more, the role of the Syria Civil Defence (link included) aka,’The White Helmets’ currently operating in Syria and take a closer look at their financial sources and mainstream media partners in order to better determine if they are indeed “neutral” as media moguls proclaim these “humanitarians” to be.

    White Helmets: Follow the Money

    Read More:

  4. Donald Forbes
    October 29, 2015 at 07:50

    Yes but jaw jaw unlike war war won’t make the 1% any richer.

  5. Joe Tedesky
    October 29, 2015 at 00:54

    After reading Mr McGovern’s Putin briefing, my first thought was how Putin would possibly do well, by his offering to have Russian security watch President Obama’s back. If Obama, is in anyway leaning towards having the U.S. seek out a diplomatic solution with Russia, then by all means Russia should do everything it can to protect, this likely ally. John Kennedy, should have been so lucky, as to have had this kind of protection.

    When it comes to America’s suggestion, of putting in place a ‘No Fly Zone’, along with any unwanted American boots on the ground, Syria should make strong public appeals to the world community, of how anything such as what has been called for by the likes of Granham and McCain, must be allowed to default to only the whims and wishes desired for by the sovereign state government of Syria. Russia with it’s worldwide bully pulpit should scream from the highest rooftops, how any unwanted American action, would be illegal, and a war crime against the Syrian Government, if America and it’s coalition should step even one inch over this line. Respect for a country’s state sovereignty must be the end result of this worldwide rule of law, with no exceptions.

    Russia, along with it’s natural allies in this Syrian affair, must move as fast, or maybe even a little faster, than a bolt of lighting, to assure their success. A speedy campaign, to wipe out the terrorist in Syria/Iraq would be applauded by the world’s public at large. The bigger win for Russia would be the world’s observance of a Russia who keeps it’s word. The only way Russia can stand toe to toe with the Western Powers, is by it’s winning the world’s support of it’s actions so far in the Middle East. The Western Spin Machine is more problematic than any bomb in it’s vast Arsenal, so any leveling of this playing field would be a good thing.

    If Russia does really have new and sophisticated weapons, whether strong defensively, or even possibly offensively, Russia through displays of strength inside of it’s war games, should rattle this saber at every chance it should get. While, it is never wise to show all your cards to an opponent, my though is that by scaring a few NATO/GCC generals with displays of Russian strength, may have a profound effect on future NATO/GCC decisions. Give these adversaries something to think about. Doubt, could be a major deterrent to any escalation of war.

    Silly me, to even begin to attempt to think like an ex-KGB officer, but I think that somethings along the lines I suggested would help the Russians to keep things contained. Oh, how I wish the U.S. would cooperate more, and let go of all of it’s covert meddling, and join the world community, instead of always trying to blow it up.

    Thanks Ray, for the reverse engineered briefing, it was fun.

  6. Boris M Garsky
    October 28, 2015 at 20:46

    I believe that the Russian perspective is more like this. Russia is aware of the danger to Obamas life from within; the White House intrusions and the Secret Service scandals were definitely warnings to the President. They don’t believe that the Pentagon wants to engage Russian; a total nothing to be gained and all to be lost situation. However, they are aware that the real powers in Washington DC are the neocons and Defense Contractors. McCain is knee deep in their stocks. The Pentagon is pragmatic and careful; the neocons are irrational if not outright psychotics. The neocons don’t know when to stop because it is never their blood. However, they do understand pain and force. Russia gave every chance for the USA to join the party, but the neocons refused to allow this. Russia is well aware the Obama has little real power and does have cause for fears for his life and this makes him an unreliable partner. Russia knows that Israel has expansionist aspirations in all directions including Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is aware of this also. Russia also fears that the USA is in very imminent danger that could destabilize the nation.Perhaps another major terrorist event or assassination. Obama, by forced persuasion of the neocons, ibid for Merkel, have agreed to bring in, at least 100,000 north African migrants (terrorist), most likely serving as a pretext to establish a police-state. Therefore, Russia had to strike quickly and methodically which it had. The west cannot establish a no-fly zone. Russia has already established such. Russia also knows that the 2016 election may put a neocon into the WH and effectively deliver its nuclear arsenal to Israel. Russia has effectively constructed necessary barriers and obstructions. This is what Russia sees.

  7. Bob Loblaw
    October 28, 2015 at 19:02

    Thanks, I appreciate looking at this from a Russian perspective, even if conjecture, it is a way to analyze the cards American hawks have in play.

    The sad fact is, the Syrian crisis is not about success, it is about destabilization. Clearly supporting Al Nusra is a deal breaking skeleton in the closet. I was hoping the Benghazi hearings would approach this subject, that Americans were attempting to deal weapons to Al Nusra and negotiations broke down with the attacks.

    The GOP could have crucified Hillary, only they came up with impotent accusations over losing 4 diplomats and staff.

    Why would they eschew nailing her for sending arms to Al Qaeda? Hillary is the anointed one, she will be the right president to send “freedom” over in massive quantities. Meanwhile FOX “News” and everyone else will be condemning her for not killing enough AY-Rab Moos-Lims.

    • Abbybwood
      October 29, 2015 at 16:45

      My guess is that they did not bring it all up because they know their own brethren, McCain especially, Lindsey Graham and other Republican Neocon hawks are up to their eyeballs in the “secret” CIA “Deep State” operations to destabilize the region.

      Hillary, McCain, Graham, Power, Nuland etc. are all thick as thieves.

      Just a hunch.

  8. F. G. Sanford
    October 28, 2015 at 18:00

    Putin heeded the brief and said, “Golly good grief”
    Then some trusted advisors were called.
    Insiders suspect they included Dunfordev and Cartov.
    Officials refrained citing policy strained
    And protocols that were installed,
    They’d speak off the record and hint that the big board
    Held strategies that could evolve.

    Lindsey Graham and McCain mimic Pinky and Brain,
    His hawkish advisors admonished,
    There is much to be said for a first strike.
    They’re spouting rebukes claiming tactical nukes
    Could be fielded and we’d be astonished-
    They’d shut down the press claiming battle success
    And report that our troops took a hike!

    They threaten ground actions, their lunatic factions
    Imply that they seek confrontation,
    We think it is wise to strike first.
    They claim we are weak, so it’s prudent to sneak
    And deliver atomic cremation.
    We’ve got submarines that can mutate their genes,
    We could do it with only one burst!

    But Putin resisted though Cartov insisted
    and Dunfordev bristled and stewed,
    They were old cold-war relics by trade-
    Putin figured Obama might ignore the drama
    His own lunatics had construed.
    Brennan lamented his terrorists rented
    Were losing and looked rather frayed!

    McCain shouted out and Lindsey would pout,
    “They cost us a billion a year!”
    John Brennan had paid for this racket-
    With a fungible budget the CIA fudged it
    but Congress just turned a deaf ear-
    It’s an illegal war but they told us before
    Assad needs to go that’s the ticket!

    The Turks and Israelis, those self serving crazies
    might cook up a false flag event.
    They’d leave Putin holding the bag!
    There are pipelines at stake and an oil field lake,
    Dick Cheney is on to the scent-
    Assad needs unseated, he must be defeated,
    who cares about nuclear slag?

    • Abbybwood
      October 29, 2015 at 16:40

      This poem should be re-printed in The New Yorker. You should submit it.

      Excellent work.

  9. jaycee
    October 28, 2015 at 17:32

    Interesting exchange: “Defense Secretary Carter replied that ‘no rebel group directly supported by the Defense Department under the law had been attacked.’ Casting a look of incredulity, McCain replied, ‘I promise you they have.'”

    Key phrase from Carter – “under the law”. The 2002 AUMF is the legal basis for US military action in the Mid-East and it specifically targets “al-Qaeda and associated forces”. McCain, and other similar policy-makers, know that the Syrian “moderate rebel” operation requires a tacit alliance with al-Qaeda and associated forces, and an official commitment to that alliance would be therefore illegal. McCain and similar policy-makers don’t ultimately care about legality, but there was an attempt this past summer to write up a new AUMF with new language regarding what the presumed target or enemy was/is.

    Carter, in a backhand way, is acknowledging that the official “rebel groups” in Syria, the “moderates” who were vetted, do not have a presence in areas of Syria currently targeted by Russian aircraft. The cries by folks like McCain – that “our” rebels are being bombed – is in turn a backhand admission that the CIA has been working with “al-Qaeda and associated forces” in violation of the 2002 AUMF.

    Someone should pin McCain to the wall on this – and there’s enough photos of him hanging out with such militants to boot – but it won’t happen.

  10. Abbybwood
    October 28, 2015 at 17:32

    Memo to Ray McGovern, Robert Parry and all Consortium readers:

    I just saw this “transcript” of a meeting between Ukrainian nationals and others mentioning that John McCain is in on a plan for an American jet to be shot down in Syria to blame the Russians thereby creating a hot war and ultimately bringing the U.S. military into Ukraine. This is supposedly from Wikileaks Ukraine translated by a Russian woman:

    Can somebody please try to figure out if this is for real?? Sounds like a badly acted play to me, but I would put NOTHING past John McCain.

    • Joe L.
      October 28, 2015 at 17:50

      Abbybwood… Well I really don’t know to what lengths the US Government will go. In the 1960’s, I believe it was the Department of Defence and the Joint Chiefs of Staff that came up with a plan to blow up American ships, blame it on Cuba, and then invade Cuba – Operation Northwoods.

      ABC News: “U.S. Military Wanted to Provoke War With Cuba” (May 1, 2001):

      In the early 1960s, America’s top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba.

      Code named Operation Northwoods, the plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities.

      The plans were developed as ways to trick the American public and the international community into supporting a war to oust Cuba’s then new leader, communist Fidel Castro.

      America’s top military brass even contemplated causing U.S. military casualties, writing: “We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba,” and, “casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.”

    • Joe L.
      October 28, 2015 at 17:58

      Abbybwood… if there is any truth to that then it would lead us to a very dangerous point where we actually could literally be entering WW3. I really hope that McCain has more sense then that but it seems to me also wherever trouble springs up McCain shows up.

  11. bill
    October 28, 2015 at 14:13

    Joe asks the question above the answer to which would long have been known if you can find a cross-section of “on the ground “opinion from Syria-NOTE the Mainstream media is not remotely interested in whats really happening and is merely seeking to sell a narrative,an illusion, to the US voter to seek his/her permission and support either to continue on with regime change or to act as a counterweight and insulation against any unpleasant or unexpected consequences,to water down blame before the event.
    Its long been clear outside the US even before Libya that the US is sponsoring terrorism in the ME and has been arming al Qaeda /al Nusra whilst not attacking IS or indeed any of these said groups and others and that the mainstream media has fed the US voter one huge bowl of drivel for months if not years and will continue to print it.
    Russian successes make this entirely obvious OR is the US Military this incompetent/???Incompetent enough,for example, to allow an commercial airliner picked up miles out on radar, to weave its way past a bespoke missile protection system and wipe out the accountants and auditors of the Pentagon, a building claimed to be the safest in the world….!!? Indeed members of the US Military i have come across are taking this” humiliation” very very badly as they believe,as naive as so many are,that they have been fighting IS with one arm tied behind their back,a not dissimilar analysis to one held by many in Vietnam,when in fact IS is a proxy US force just as al Nusra is and all talk of moderate rebels just so much McCain twaddle….. Lets say Obama is afraid of assassination. Was he so unaware that an achieving President will inevitably be taking some personal risk before he ran for President? Didnt he know? Or did he say “Well being President would be great so i will go along with the global elite to get along and to hell with actually doing anything to hold back US Empire/resisting the Neocons .If Syrian kids have to die then so be it.I am my family are safe and sound and living a fine life…” So lets get real. .He is either a shallow wimp suffering a total delusion of his true value or was always marked out,groomed and chosen for the Presidency as part of the global elite and all talk of going the way of MLK is so much hogwash… And the 2nd is the likely truth which is why if there is one without revealing even the more to the US voter just how much the US Govt lies i anticipate another major move from the US before negotiation and this one may take us to the wire….. NOTE to Bernie Sanders-there are ways of insulating against being assassinated as President especially in the choice of VP and of ones Praetorian Guard who should be independently selected away from the Secret Service.Would that RFK had actually done what he intended and introduced Rangers to take over this protective role.

  12. October 28, 2015 at 14:09

    The author promised to “look through Russian eyes,” but didn’t do that. It would be impossible anyway because of the following significant differences:

    1) Russia in general respects the Westphalia principle of state sovereignty, 2) Putin is not a high stakes gambler and not under constant pressure from war hawks, 3) the Russian government is in control of the SVR and the army, an unsupervised and unaccountable “deep state” structure apparently doesn’t exist.

    Despite this shortcoming the article has its merit because it points out similarities between the Obama and the JFK presidencies.

    President Obama is likely to long for the day when his turn ends, hoping to leave the Oval Office alive. He has to appease the warmongers and at the same time make sure that (in the case of WW III) he will not be the last US President and will have some kind of a legacy instead of no legacy at all.

    He is probably not fond of both Erdogan and Netanyahu, who are more than unhelpful in avoiding military escalation, and maybe he even doesn’t condone the covert support of the Islamic State by Western agencies and the Pentagon, but that are issues beyond his control.

  13. Abe
    October 28, 2015 at 12:47

    When reports of Russian military aviation striking what AFP called a “field hospital” came to light, they were met by immediate skepticism, even by critics of Russia. AFP’s article, “13 dead as Russia strike hits Syria field hospital: monitor,” reported that:

    “At least 13 people including medical staff were killed when Russian warplanes struck a field hospital in northwestern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Wednesday.”

    Of course the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is actually a single individual named Rami Abdel Rahman, who is admittedly sympathetic to those seeking the division and destruction of Syria. Rami Abdel Rahman is also based in the UK, so is not actually “observing” anything in Syria. He himself has been observed coordinating his activities with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.

    The “clinic” in question was allegedly run by the Syrian-American Medical Society (SAMS), which according to their website is a multi-million dollar US-based NGO, provided with full support by the US State Department. Upon SAMS’ website is even a video by US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers, hailing SAMS as one of her “personal heroes.”

    SAMS has played an instrumental role in using its alleged medical work to support terrorist organizations seeking to divide and destroy Syria and help disseminate propaganda peddled by the US State Department itself in attacking and undermining the credibility of the Syrian government in Damascus. This includes repeating the State Department’s unfounded narratives regarding “barrel bombs” and the use of “chlorine gas” by the Syrian government.

    Telling however, is even those from this organization apparently drawn upon by the Western media have not mentioned Russia as perpetrating the bombing. AFP’s article would cite a SAMS staff member stating:

    “Our initial reports from the ground show that we have lost two hospital staff, a physiotherapist and a nurse,” the staffer said in an emailed statement.

    Speaking on condition of anonymity, she did not specify whether the strikes were conducted by Russian warplanes.”

    This unconvincing narrative was quickly augmented by the Western media with other “strikes.” The number quickly went from 1 to 3, then 4, and then up to 7 – 7 hospitals allegedly struck by Russian warplanes, all according to the same handful of Western-backed fronts, echoed by an increasingly discredited Western media.

    Russia’s “Bombing” of Syrian Hospitals: The Incredible Expanding Lie
    By Tony Cartalucci

    • Kiza
      October 28, 2015 at 21:26

      SAMS is just modeled after Médecins Sans Frontières, which is an operation of DGSE, the french military intelligence. The US saw how successful MSF was in spying and destabilization of countries, so it had to create its own version of “medical doctor spies”.

      For example, MSF was kicked out by the rebels of Donbass in Ukraine.

      No French nationality MSF staff have been killed so far in the two bombings of their hospitals (by US and by Saudi), only the medical staff from the expandable nations were killed. But, it is not clear why the US and it allies are targeting the French spying operation. Any idea anybody please? Maybe MSF is aiming for the anti-US left-wing, to restore its credibility?

    • Peter Loeb
      October 29, 2015 at 06:48

      —-“Lewis Carroll” / Charles :Lutwidge Dodgson

      It usually difficult if not impossible to distinguish between rhetoric and statements of policy. The former are invariably infected with political motives and perceived realities.

      The US is clearly never going to take any of the positions
      which many of us (such as “Abe”) quite reasonably wish for.

      The invasion and destruction of Syria has been an integral
      part of Israeli political rhetoric for decades. It seems that
      neither a Democratic nor Republican President would move
      to curb this objective. I cannot but refer to the analysis
      of the history and position of Israel which I discussed
      under the title of WHO SPEAKS FOR THE JEWISH PEOPLE? elsewhere in “Comments” with citations from Gabriel Kolko.

      The Israeli-American relationship has come a long way.
      It would be unlikely for the US to take any position
      re: Israel different from decades of US-Israeli policy
      in a US election year or afterwards.

      Thus “Abe” points are relevant and well-stated.

      Mr. McGovern’s more analytical approach is of great

      With no experience myself of work as a CIA analyst,
      I should be surprised should Russia alter its
      present position. It is, after all, in line with
      the unanimous UN Security Council Resolution
      of last February 22, S/Res/2139 (2014).

      Beware of the totally misleading use of the
      words “political transition” which is simply an
      absurd way of saying that “Assad mut go!”

      Of course Russia and Syria would oppose that
      on any grounds as well they should.

      Several reporters have managed to slip into
      their “reports” that there no longer are any
      “moderates” (our guys). Instead as the Congress
      was quick to see, there is in reality only the affiliate
      of al-Quaeda. : al-Nusra.

      Add this to the fact that the west’s “shock and
      awe” wars while always impressive on paper
      and while murdering many in the process, ultimately
      have failed,

      (Libya and Afghanistan are recent examples where
      “democracy” and “orde”r were supposed to have
      been inevitable results. One could go on…and on.

      Many thanks to Ray McGovern and “Abe” for their
      additional insights.

      —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  14. Helen Rainier
    October 28, 2015 at 12:20

    What I still haven’t heard directly addressed by the USG is specifically WHY Assad “must go.” It certainly can’t be because he has “killed” his own people. The Saudis have also done so, in extremely barbaric ways. Other governments, including our own, have killed people in the ME, so what is it specifically that Assad has done? What I have heard is that both Saudi Arabia and Israel want Assad gone. Does anyone have an answer or know where I can find the answer?

    • October 28, 2015 at 14:34

      Assad has to go because:

      1) Turkey in the north wants to use the waters of Euphrates and Tigris alone and not share it with Syria and Iraq, while Israel in the south wants to keep the water rich Golan Heights.

      2) Qatar wants to have a pipeline crossing Syria to transfer gas for Europe.

      3) Saudi Arabia and the other Arab monarchies consider any secular and socialist Arab government as a threatening example of an alternative system.

      4) Israel loves the chaos in the surrounding Arab countries. Syria was the most generous and most efficient supporter of the Palestinian cause.

      5) The USA plays the longterm geopolitical game of a destabilization push from Syria to Iran to to Central Asia, North Caucasus, Volga region (Russia’s “soft underbelly).

    • Khawk
      October 28, 2015 at 15:53

      Regime change in Syria has been planned for at least two decades. The Syrian government has been supportive of resistance to the Israeli occupations of Palestine and Lebanon, and they have been accused of participating, along with Iran, in the proliferation of weapons and supplies to Hezbollah, Hamas, and other resistance groups (“terrorists”) in the region. This is why Iran is so often deemed “the largest state sponsor of terrorism.” It is in Zionist Israel’s interest to eliminate, or at least disrupt, any and all regional governments that oppose their territorial expansion and treatment of the indigenous Palestinian population, or what they refer to as their national security and right to exist. These resistance groups are generally Shiite dominated which is why Sunni Arabs (such as the Saudis), who also want to dominate the region from a religious and oil market standpoint, find common cause with Israel and the United States. The primary interest of the US is in controlling energy resources and markets in our quest for world hegemony, and to support Israel which has a vast network of influence embedded within the US government, economy, and information systems. The demonization of Assad in the Western media is part of the playbook to generate fear and a perceived threat, and thus win support among the general population for military operations, whether directly by the US, or indirectly with the sale and supply of advanced weapons to allied regimes and Sunni fighters (terrorists) on the ground that are used as proxy warriors to serve the over-arching goal of regime change. The governments of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and of course Iran “must go” because they have continually resisted US/Israeli/Saudi domination in the Middle East.

    • Boris M Garsky
      October 28, 2015 at 20:10

      Israel and the west would want Assad to go if they have a well planted, trusty mole near Assad. If not, then their intention is not only to remove Assad, but the entire Government, then appoint a very pro-Israel, west government.

    • Garry
      October 29, 2015 at 06:02

      I have wondered this too, how we can be fine with (and even assist) a Ukrainian government that has fired deadly and not very accurate Grad Rockets into Donetsk, killing large numbers of it’s own people but when Assad drops bombs on Aleppo he is the Devil made flesh. The hypocrisy is breathtaking.

    • Tom Welsh
      October 29, 2015 at 12:00

      Helen, that’s an extremely shrewd question! It’s my firm belief that things actually happened the other way around. First, Washington decided that it would be an advantageous move to get rid of Assad. That decided, it became just a matter of tactics – a technical issue. I think the following helps to explain how people like Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Ahmadinejad, Qadafi, Assad and now Putin are all described as being like Hitler and Stalin. If you think about it, you’ll notice that the abuse directed at each is strangely stereotyped – almost boilerplate.

      “Tapping into the Central Intelligence Agency’s experience in psy-ops targeted at foreign audiences, President Ronald Reagan and CIA Director William J. Casey assembled a skilled team inside the White House led by CIA propaganda specialist Walter Raymond Jr.

      “From his new perch on the National Security Council staff, Raymond oversaw inter-agency task forces to sell interventionist policies in Central America and other trouble spots. The game, as Raymond explained it in numerous memos to his underlings, was to glue black hats on adversaries and white hats on allies, whatever the truth really was”.

    • Harry Shade
      October 29, 2015 at 18:38

      American Government is simply obeying orders from Tel Aviv which sees Syria as an obstacle to the creation of Greater Israel. Remember Gen. Clark’s statement about the Neo-con (i.e. Israeli agents within the US Government) plan to attack five Muslim countries in five years?

  15. Joe L.
    October 28, 2015 at 11:43

    Ray… I have to say that all of what is happening in Syria makes me wonder. If reports that I read online are true then it seems almost like Russia has done more in the last few weeks to destroy ISIS then possibly the US has done in the last year. If that is true, especially given the history of the Mujahideen and the US, it makes me wonder if the US was really fighting ISIS but rather hoping that ISIS, and Al Qaeda, would pull off the “regime change” that the US have wanted well before this war began and then the US would mop up Syria after the regime change happened. I find this all very frustrating because I keep hearing “Assad must go” by the US and many pundits but shouldn’t this really be about the “people of Syria”? If so, then why isn’t this war over? Why weren’t peace talks taken seriously by all sides in 2012-2013? My belief is that if Assad falls then it will become like Iraq and Libya, another failed state in the Middle East. I think that we should support Assad and the Syrian Army but once the war is over then democratic elections must occur and let the Syrian people decide whether Assad or whatever government should run the country without outside interference by the US, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey etc. One thing that gives me a little hope and I think it is a changing narrative is words from Angela Merkel of Germany who said, “We will have to talk with many actors. Assad will be part of that, but also others like the United States and Russia as well as important regional partners like Iran or Saudi Arabia.” I am at the point that I really hope that Europe breaks ranks with the US and develops its’ own “diplomatic” foreign policy away from Washington’s never-ending war rhetoric and “regime change” fantasies.

    • John
      October 28, 2015 at 18:11

      The only thing the reports are suggesting is that ISIS itself isn’t a huge problem for a superpower to tackle, if you don’t go out of your way to bind its resolution to something less-than-rational, like finding a way to compel the Syrians to give up their identity and long-term stability.

      The one thing the article doesn’t mention is that Russian intelligence is surely struggling to understand what it sees as America’s unwavering commitment to evil. America hasn’t succeeded in convincing Russia that it’s acting with a noble purpose in Syria and other places, so it would be hard for Russia to perceive America’s behavior as anything but.

  16. Abe
    October 28, 2015 at 11:34

    Seeing through “the Syrian Crisis” requires Russian eyes because America is blind.

  17. Abe
    October 28, 2015 at 11:31

    On October 8, into the second week of Russian airstrikes against ISIS and other so-called “moderate” terrorists at the request of the Assad government, Yuval Bartov, chief geologist from Genie Energy’s Israeli subsidiary, Afek Oil & Gas, told Israel’s Channel 2 TV that his company had found a major oil reservoir on the Golan Heights: “We’ve found an oil stratum 350 meters thick in the southern Golan Heights. On average worldwide, strata are 20 to 30 meters thick, and this is 10 times as large as that, so we are talking about significant quantities.”

    This oil find has now made the Golan Heights a strategic “prize” that clearly has the Netanyahu government more determined than ever to sow chaos and disorder in Damascus and use that to de facto create an Israeli irreversible occupation of Golan and its oil. A minister in the Netanyahu coalition government, Naftali Bennett, Minister of Education and Minister of Diaspora Affairs and leader of the right-wing religious party, The Jewish Home, has made a proposal that Israel settle 100,000 new Israeli settlers across the Golan in five years. He argues that with Syria “disintegrating” after years of civil war, it’s hard to imagine a stable state to which the Golan Heights could be returned. Further a growing chorus in Tel Aviv is arguing that Netanyahu demand American recognition of Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan as an “appropriate salve to Israeli security concerns in the wake of the nuclear deal with Iran.”

    Energy war has been a significant component of US, Israeli, Qatari, Turkish, and, until recently, Saudi, strategy against Syria’s Assad regime. Before the latest Golan Heights oil discovery, the focus on Assad pivoted on the huge regional natural gas resources of both Qatar and of Iran on opposite sides of the Persian Gulf, comprising the largest known gas discovery in the world to date.

    In 2009 the government of Qatar, today home to the Muslim Brotherhood and a major funder of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, met with Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.

    Qatar proposed to Bashar that Syria join in an agreement to allow a transit gas pipeline from Qatar’s huge North Field in the Persian Gulf adjacent to Iran’s huge South Pars gas field. The Qatari pipeline would have gone through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey to supply European markets. Most crucially, it would bypass Russia. An Agence France-Presse report claimed Assad’s rationale was “to protect the interests of his Russian ally, which is Europe’s top supplier of natural gas.” In 2010 Assad instead joined talks with Iran and Iraq for an alternative $10 billion pipeline plan that would also potentially allow Iran to supply gas to Europe from its South Pars field in the Iranian waters of the Persian Gulf. The three countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding in July 2012 – just as Syria’s civil war was spreading to Damascus and Aleppo.

    Now an apparent discovery of huge volumes of oil by a New Jersey oil company whose board includes Iraq war architect, Dick Cheney, neo-con ex-CIA head James Woolsey, and Jacob Lord Rothschild, business partner of one of Vladimir Putin’s most bitter critics, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, bring the stakes of the Russian intervention on behalf of Syria’s Assad against ISIS, Al Qaeda and other CIA-backed “moderate” terrorists” to a new geopolitical dimension. The US coup in Ukraine in 2014, and its financing and training of ISIS and other “moderate” terrorist gangs in Syria all have one prime target–Russia and her network of allies, a network, ironically, which Washington and Israeli policies are expanding almost by the hour.

    Genies and Genocide: Syria, Israel, Russia and Much Oil
    By F. William Engdahl

    • Kiza
      October 28, 2015 at 21:11

      Thank you Abe. This article you quote is the ultimate word on Syria. I respect Ray McGovern very much, but his article is a miserably worthless group-think rambling compared with to-the-point Engdahl. Syria is really about US-EU-Russian-Ukrainian Jewish Oligarchy (plus their goyim drones such as Chaney et al) against Russia.

      Peace? Ha, ha, ha, forget peace. Wars of domination are the only option for the future. Russia must be crushed and Putin replaced with some goyim drone. No goyim life on either side will be spared to achieve this goal.

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