The US-Russia Proxy War in Syria

Exclusive: The risk of Syria becoming a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia became real last week when Turkey and Syrian jihadists used U.S.-supplied weaponry to shoot down a Russian warplane and rescue helicopter, killing two Russians, a danger that ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern explores.

By  Ray McGovern

Belatedly, at a sidebar meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Paris climate summit on Monday, President Barack Obama reportedly expressed regret for last week’s killing of a Russian pilot who was shot down by a Turkish air-to-air missile fired by a U.S.-supplied F-16 and the subsequent death of a Russian marine on a search-and-rescue mission, apparently killed by a U.S.-made TOW missile.

But Obama administration officials continued to take the side of Turkey, a NATO “ally” which claims implausibly that it was simply defending its air space and that the Russian pilot of the SU-24 warplane had ignored repeated warnings. According to accounts based on Turkish data, the SU-24 may have strayed over a slice of Turkish territory for 17 seconds. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Facts Back Russia on Turkish Attack.”]

President Barack Obama meets with President Vladimir Putin of Russia on the sidelines of the G20 Summit at Regnum Carya Resort in Antalya, Turkey, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. National Security Advisior Susan E. Rice listens at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama meets with President Vladimir Putin of Russia on the sidelines of the G20 Summit at Regnum Carya Resort in Antalya, Turkey, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. National Security Advisior Susan E. Rice listens at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Immediately after the incident on Nov. 24, Obama offered a knee-jerk justification of Turkey’s provocative action which appears to have been a deliberate attack on a Russian warplane to deter continued bombing of Syrian jihadists, including the Islamic State and Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an Islamist, has supported various jihadists as his tip of the spear in his goal to overthrow the secular regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In his first public comments about the Turkish attack, Obama gracelessly asserted Turkey’s right to defend its territory and air space although there was never any indication that the SU-24 even if it had strayed momentarily into Turkish air space had any hostile intentions against Turkey. Indeed, Turkey and the United States were well aware that the Russian planes were targeting the Islamic State, Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and other jihadist rebels.

Putin even complained, “We told our U.S. partners in advance where, when at what altitudes our pilots were going to operate. The U.S.-led coalition, which includes Turkey, was aware of the time and place where our planes would operate. And this is exactly where and when we were attacked. Why did we share this information with the Americans? Either they don’t control their allies, or they just pass this information left and right without realizing what the consequences of such actions might be. We will have to have a serious talk with our U.S. partners.”

Putin also suggested that the Turkish attack was in retaliation for Russia’s bombing of a truck convoy caring Islamic State oil to Turkey. On Monday, on the sidelines of the Paris summit, Putin said Russia has “received additional information confirming that that oil from the deposits controlled by Islamic State militants enters Turkish territory on industrial scale.”

Turkey’s Erdogan — also in Paris — denied buying oil from terrorists and vowed to resign “if it is proven that we have, in fact, done so.”

Was Obama Angry?

In private, Obama may have been outraged by Erdogan’s reckless actions as some reports suggest but, if so, Obama seems publicly more afraid of offending the neocons who dominate Official Washington’s opinion circles and who hold key positions in his own administration, than of provoking a possible nuclear confrontation with Russia.

On Nov. 24, even as Russian emotions were running high reacting to the killing of one Russian pilot and the death of a second Russian marine killed after his helicopter was shot down apparently by a U.S.-supplied TOW missile fired by Syrian jihadists Obama chose to act “tough” against Putin, both during a White House press conference with French President Francois Holland and later with pro-Turkish remarks from U.S. officials.

During the press conference after the Turkish shoot-down and the deliberate fire from Turkish-backed Syrian jihadists aiming at two Russian airmen as they parachuted to the ground, Obama chose to make disparaging remarks about the Russian president.

Obama boasted about the 65 nations in the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State compared to Putin’s small coalition of Russia and Iran (although Putin’s tiny coalition appears to be much more serious and effective than Obama’s bloated one, which includes countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar that have been implicated in supporting jihadist elements, including Al Qaeda and the Islamic State).

By delivering these anti-Russian insults at such a delicate time, Obama apparently was trusting that Putin would keep his cool and tamp down public emotions at home, even as Obama lacked the integrity and courage to stand up to neocon criticism from The Washington Post’s editorial page or from some of his hawkish subordinates.

The administration’s neocons who keep demanding an escalation of tensions with Russia include Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland. Then, there are the officials most identified with arms procurement, sales and use, such as Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford recently volunteered to Congress that U.S. forces “can impose a no-fly zone” for Syria (a dangerous play advocated by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain). Dunford is the same hawk who identified Russia as the “existential threat” to the U.S. and said it would be “reasonable” to send heavy weapons to Ukraine on Russia’s border.

Meanwhile, NATO commander Gen. Philip Breedlove keeps up his fly-by-the-pants information warfare campaign citing Russian “aggression,” “invasions” and plans to do still more evil things. One is tempted to dismiss him as a buffoon; but he is the NATO commander.

Lack of Control

It does not appear as though Obama has the same degree of control over foreign and defense policy that Putin enjoys in Moscow or at least one hopes Putin can retain such control since some hard-line Russian nationalists are fuming that Putin has been too accommodating of his Western “partners.”

Perhaps the greatest danger from Obama’s acquiescence to the neocons’ new Cold War with Russia is that the neocon hopes for “regime change in Moscow” will be realized except that Putin will be replaced by some ultra-nationalist who would rather risk nuclear war than accept further humiliation of Mother Russia.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, the U.S. establishment is such that the generals, the arms manufacturers and weapons merchants, the Defense Department, and most of Congress have a very strong say in U.S. foreign policy and Obama seems powerless to change it.

The model of governing in Washington is a far cry from Russia’s guiding principle of edinonachaliye by which one supreme authority is in clear control of decision-making on defense and foreign policy.

Even when Obama promises, he often fails to deliver. Think back to what Obama told then-President Dmitry Medvedev when they met in Seoul in March 2012, about addressing Russian concerns over European missile defense. In remarks picked up by camera crews, Obama asked for some “space” until after the U.S. election. Obama can be heard saying, “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”

Yet, even after winning reelection, Obama has remained cowed by the influential neocons even as he has bucked some of their more aggressive demands, such as a massive U.S. bombing campaign against Assad’s military in summer 2013 and bomb-bomb-bombing Iran; instead, in 2014-15, Obama pushed for a negotiated agreement to constrain Iran’s nuclear program.

Ideally, Obama should be able to show some flexibility on Syria during his last year in office, but no one should hold their breath. Obama appears to have deep fears about crossing the neocons or Israel regarding what they want for the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Besides the neocons’ close ties to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the neocons are intimately connected to the interests of the Military-Industrial Complex, which provides substantial funding for the major think tanks where many neocons hang their hats and churn out new arguments for more world conflict and thus more military spending.

Unlike Obama, Pope Francis addressed this fact-of-life head-on in his Sept. 24 address to members of the U.S. Congress many if not most of whom also are lavished with proceeds from the arms trade and then appropriate still more funding for arms production and sales.

“Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering,” Francis asked them face-to-face. “Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.”

An Old Epithet

From my days as a CIA analyst covering the Soviet Union, I’m reminded of the epithet favored by the Soviet party daily Pravda a few decades ago “vallstreetskiye krovopitsiy” or Wall St. bloodsuckers. Propaganda-ish as that term seemed, it turns out that Soviet media were not far off on that subject.

Indeed, the banks and corporations involved in arms manufacture and sales enjoy immense power arguably, more than a president; unarguably more than Obama. The moneyed interests including Congress are calling the shots.

The old adage “money makes the world go round” is also apparent in Washington’s velvet-gloves treatment of the Saudis and is nowhere better illustrated than in the continued suppression of 28 pages of the 2002 Joint Congressional Inquiry on 9/11. Those pages deal with the Saudi role in financing and supporting some of the 9/11 hijackers, but both the Bush and Obama administrations have kept those pages hidden for 13 years.

One reason is that the Saudis are the primary recipients of the U.S. trade in weapons, for which they pay cash. American manufacturers are selling the Saudis arms worth $100 billion under the current five-year agreement. Oddly, acts of terrorism sweeten the pot. Three days after the attacks in Paris, Washington and Riyadh announced a deal for $1.3 billion more.

And yet, neither Obama, nor any of the candidates trying to replace him, nor Congress is willing to jeopardize the arms trade by insisting that Riyadh call an abrupt halt to its support for the jihadists fighting in Syria for fear this might incur the wrath of the deep-pocket Saudis.

Not even Germany already inundated, so far this year, by a flood of 950,000 refugees, mostly from Syria is willing to risk Saudi displeasure. Berlin prefers to pay off the Turks with billions of euros to stanch the flow of those seeking refuge in Europe.

And so, an unholy alliance of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states continues to fuel the war in Syria while Obama pretends that his giant coalition is really doing the job of taking on many of those same jihadists. But Obama’s coalition has been woefully incompetent and indeed compromised, bumbling along and letting the Islamic State seize more territory along with Al Qaeda and its affiliates and allies.

Russia’s entry into the war in September changed the equation because unlike Obama’s grand coalition Putin’s puny coalition with Iran actually was serious about beating back the jihadists and stabilizing Assad’s regime. Turkey’s shoot-down of the Russian warplane on Nov. 24 was a crude message from Erdogan that success in defeating the jihadists would not be tolerated.

As for the United States and Europe, myopia prevails. None seems concerned that the terrorists whom they support today will come back to bite them tomorrow. American officials, despite their rhetoric and despite 9/11, seem to consider the terrorist threat remote from U.S. shores and, in any case, dwarfed in importance by the lucrative arm sales.

As for the Vienna talks on Syria, the speed with which they were arranged (with Iran taking part) raised expectations now dampened. Last week, for example, Secretary of State John Kerry bragged about how a meeting of “moderate” rebels is to convene “in the next few weeks” to come up with principles for negotiating with Syrian President Assad’s government. The convener? Saudi Arabia!

Obama knows what has to happen for this terrorist threat to be truly addressed. The Saudis and Turks have to be told, in no uncertain terms, to stop supporting the jihadists. But that would require extraordinary courage and huge political perhaps even physical risk. There is no sign that President Obama dares bite that bullet.

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, he prepared the President’s Daily Brief, which he briefed one-on-one to President Ronald Reagan’s five most senior national security advisers.

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25 comments for “The US-Russia Proxy War in Syria

  1. Drew Hunkins
    December 1, 2015 at 10:37 am

    The glib manner in which the establishment press in the West is treating this entire matter is reprehensible. The mainstream capitalist press is basically shrugging its collective shoulders in a ho hum manner, “ah, no big deal, so a NATO member shoots down a jet from a nuclear armed former Warsaw Pact nation, who gives a rip. Pass me another drink and let’s go shopping…”

    • Roberto
      December 1, 2015 at 4:41 pm

      It will be hard to get across the bridge to grandma’s house, if it isn’t there any more.

  2. Joe Tedesky
    December 1, 2015 at 10:38 am

    Since this Turkish aggression, has now brought Russia around, to their arming their fighter jets with air to air missiles, and necessitated the Russians to put in place their S400 missile defense system, with this development, ask yourself what else could go wrong? Will we next hear about an American F16 recon mission turning into a doomed flight? Could there be any concern what so ever, that there are way too many planes flying around, over the Syrian/Turkish sky’s? God forgive, an American pilot gets killed, for there will be a loud cry from America too put boots on the ground. I don’t think there are many Americans who know that Russia is in Syria legally, and that NATO and it’s proxies are there illegally. This is all the more reason, to worry that Americans will seek revenge for any harm done to one of it’s members of the armed forces.

  3. Gregory Kruse
    December 1, 2015 at 11:25 am

    I read an account soon after this incident which reported that the Russian pilot was “riddled with bullets” as he descended to the ground in a parachute. Is this too provocative for later reporters, or did this not happen? I might seem a slight distinction between that and “last week’s killing of a Russian pilot”, but to me it is the difference between truth and obfuscation.

    • John Wren
      December 2, 2015 at 5:38 am

      It’s typical of the way MSM reports war. When the US or it’s allies commit a war crime it’s portrayed as a mistake. When an allied plane is shot down or serviceman killed it’s a heroic tragedy. When a Russian bomb causes (and I hate this phrase) collateral damage it’s portrayed as if not deliberate then incompetent. When a Russian plane is shot down it’s comeuppance. It’s not what they say it’s the way that they say it that makes all the difference.

      • Bks
        December 2, 2015 at 7:19 am

        “When an allied plane is shot down or serviceman killed it’s a heroic tragedy.”

        Like when a russian pilot used as a bait around Turkey’s border get killed because “he wasn’t warned of the incoming missile by the engaging enemy”? I heard that guy receive some decoration for that. It’s only fair, thanks to his sacrifice, they finally can deploy AA that can reach planes over Turkey and Israel, biggest U.S allies in the region.

        Yeah, i have to admit it, i was a perfect move from Russia.

  4. Mortimer
    December 1, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    If only US “national interests” or “vital interests” could be narrowed down to one specific region,
    rather than the 800 or so military bases spread across the globe and 7 or 8 navy fleets worldwide… .

    https://gowans.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/persian-gulf.jpg

  5. December 1, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    This analysis of the political vectors in Washington and of the involved parties matches completely my own assessment with the only difference, that it has higher credibility because of the authors professional background. Not much more needs to be said about US foreign policy, except that one should rather prepare for the worst than hope against experience that caution, moderation, restraint will prevail.

    What could be the worst?

    The West can play the Ukrainian card again. Kiev is bankrupt, the economy is collapsing and exports have further declined.
    http://www.usubc.org/site/sigmableyzer-macroeconomic-reports/ukraine-macroeconomic-situation-october-2015

    Kiev needs to show Western hardliners that it is worth the IMF handouts, especially since the third tranche of IMF loans was not transferred “due to a slowdown in the pace of reforms.”

    Therefore: Electricity to Crimea has been cut off, all commercial traffic has stopped. The daily shelling of Donetsk and Gorlovka resumed. Kiev is also ready to blockade Transnistria, a landlocked autonomous part of Moldova, but this has to be done soon because the political crisis, which engulfed Moldova’s pro-Western government after 1 billion US$ were stolen from banks, could put Moldova back into Moscow’s orbit.

    In Syria the weapons supply to more or less moderate rebels has been substantially increased. More and more MANPADs find their way to rebel groups. We watch now the curious situation that north of Aleppo and in Aleppo city the US-aided Kurdish YPG (renamed SDF) fights against CIA-vetted and equipped rebels.

    The rogue CIA factions will not stop support for their rebels, especially since money and weapons from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Turkey are plentiful. Saudi Arabia has bought 13,000 TOWs from the USA and until now not more than 1,000 — 2,000 have been delivered to Syria.

    It remains to be seen if the US-specialists in Kobane and Hasakah are indeed well meaning advisors and not spies.

    And yet, despite all these adversities, the situation is not hopeless. If the Syrian troops together with the Kurds can close the supply corridors from the rebel controlled Turkish-Syrian border (Bab al- Salam crossing near Azaz, Bab al-Hawa crossing, Jarabulus crossing) to Raqqa (IS) and Idlib (Jabhat al-Nusra), the game is over for the Western proxies.

    What we see at the moment in Aleppo province, with suicide truck bombs, explosions of tunnel bombs, towns conquered and lost the next day, and a constantly changing front line, is a fight to the death. This is probably the battle which will decide Syria’s future.

    We can only watch and hope.

  6. Peter Loeb
    December 1, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    BLIND SPOT

    Ray McGovern has highlighted in this article a central
    point in assessing developments in the Mideast, namely
    the role of the weapons manufacturer. In most discussions
    this is a “blind spot” or at the very least causes too much
    pain for open discourse.

    Neglected as far as Turkey is concerned has always been
    the umbilical connection of Turkey’s NATO membership
    with a multi-billion dollars arms deal. As I pointed out
    in a comment to a previous article in Consortium
    (“Why is Turkey a NATO Member?”) the reason is that
    NATO membership was a prime demand of a Turkish
    government of the “private” US arms dealer. The details
    are in a great work of investigative reporting by John
    Tirman, THE SPOILS OF WAR… From another perspective
    the nature, functioning and worldwide reach of the arms
    industry is clarified in W. R. Greider’s AMERICAN FORTRESS…

    While neglecting this not-too-distant past, McGovern’s
    article updates previous work.

    Like other commenters in Consortium to previous articles,
    the treatment of Barack Obama as some kind of
    “saint” is incorrect. He is not tragically entrapped by
    other evil spirits. Much blame can be put on others
    but those very others serve at the President’s
    pleasure. They are his and they are him. His policies
    are his and deserve no excuses. (Even the very
    real fact that many others would make worse choices
    is no excuse.)

    The conclusion is clear: Barack Obama is himself a
    warrior President and his Administration reflects
    this in many ways.

    In most respects McGovern’s “The US Proxy War in
    Syria” deserves considerable praise. As the books
    mentioned above make clear, the problem is not limited in
    scope to Syria. The weapons industry is vast, the
    weapons market is worldwide. Its establishment in
    America was made with political realities much in mind
    (such as the placement of major manufacturing sites
    with many employees in all US states etc.).

    With or without Syria or ISIS/Da’esh, it remains
    a giant before which most nations tremble.

    —Peter Loeb,Boston, MA, USA

    • Ray McGovern
      December 1, 2015 at 3:16 pm

      Thanks, Peter. Your first paragraph describes exactly what I was trying to do.
      Nobody, but nobody feels free to criticize the Saudis, even in view of what they are doing, not only in Syria, but also in bombing the hell out of Yemen, with (literally) untold loss of human life — all with the weapons our “blood-drenched” arms traders are so eager to sell them.
      What I had been hoping was that, once you got the Saudis (and Qataris and Turks) around a large negotiating table, at which there sit more sane, less myopic people who want to give priority to defeating ISIS — that THEN appropriate pressure could be brought, collectively, against them to JUST KNOCK IT OFF!!! But I gather the arms makers and dealers are not susceptible to such pressure — that it would be a Herculean task — no, rather it would be Quixotic — to get the U.S., French, British, et al. people, who profit/profiteer by making and selling weapons, to agree to a temporary halt in deliveries to the Saudis. I guess there are a hundred reasons why that could never work. Or???
      Shows how little I know about the area and the subject, I guess. Sometimes I find myself about to conclude that it has to be much simpler, easier to figure out Russian policies and initiatives. But then I think, No, IT’S REALLY PRETTY SIMPLE; IKE HAD IT ALL FIGURED OUT … Trouble is, the military-industrial-congressional complex had already broken its traces, by the time he named it out loud. Or???…..please chime in, Peter and others, I need as much enlightenment as you all can provide. It’s actually sort of painful not to be able to figure out important issues like this with much, if any, confidence of being correct!
      Thanks,
      Ray

      • Abe
        December 1, 2015 at 3:34 pm

        Terrorism and war have been very good for defense contractors, who are credited with driving the Dow Jones to a speedy recovery within six months of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, DC.

        However, a decade into the “War on Terror,” market and defense analysts were predicting a downturn. Then al-Qaeda morphed into “Islamic State”.

        Defense industry stocks have seen all-time highs since the rise of ISIL/ISIS/Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

        As Glenn Greenwald noted, stock prices of weapons manufacturers soared after the Paris attacks https://theintercept.com/2015/11/16/stock-prices-of-weapons-manufacturers-soaring-since-paris-attack/

      • Abe
        December 1, 2015 at 3:37 pm

        “The private-sector industrial prong of the Military and Surveillance State always wins, but especially when the media’s war juices start flowing.” — Glenn Greenwald

      • Gary
        December 1, 2015 at 7:44 pm

        At the end of October, I was in the Athenian port city of Piraeus. Near where the ferries dock, coming from the Aegean islands, a small park was “home” to refugees recently arrived, living in tents and using public washrooms, functioning as best they could. A few miles away, at the yacht basin, was moored the Al Mirqab, the 435 foot cruise ship-sized personal vessel of the former prime minister of Quatar, one of the gulf states intimately involved in the destruction of Syria and the flow of the very refugees in the park. It gets curiouser and curiouser…

      • My $0.02
        December 2, 2015 at 6:16 am

        The arms dealers knock it off? Will never happen. Look at how they are arming our own citizenry in the name of the 2nd amendment. And look at how the police forces across this country have been not only militarized with a vast arsenal of weapons but made trigger happy in the frequent application of lethal force against those they are sworn to protect. We are a violent country and the arms merchants are doing their best to make it a violent world because profit permits all.

      • Peter Loeb
        December 2, 2015 at 6:38 am

        TO RAY MCGOVERN:

        The conference for which you yearn has in part already
        taken place. There was little to no coverage in the Western
        media (or at governmental levels) as the UN Security
        Council resolution did not affirm the western position.

        S/Res/2249(2015), 20 November 2015

        affirmed Syria’s sovereignty,integrity etc. and
        more significantly underscored Russia’s right
        (and obligation?) to pursue not only groups labeled
        in big letters “ISIS” but also al-Nusra and other
        militant groups.

        S/Res/2249(2015)

        does not fit in this space. I refer you to the
        UN Security Council website. document itself.

        It passed unanimously although commenter
        “Abbywood” has written that US Ambassador
        Samantha Powers was so upset she sent
        an underling to sign “yes” for America.
        “Abbywood” furthermore observed that the US
        could not oppose a French resolution.

        Apparently, the false distinction between “our guys”
        and “their guys” which the US eagerly puts
        forth (thus in effect protecting ISIS/Da’esh
        as described elsewhere) found no supporters
        at the UN. The US consigned it to the Orwellian
        “memory hole”.

        Thanks again for your encouragement as always,

        —Peter Loeb,Boston, MA, USA

    • Abe
      December 1, 2015 at 7:41 pm

      The Saudi, Qatari and Turkish local tyrants have their regional aspirations, that’s for sure. And the international arms merchants are making a killing, that’s for sure.

      Unfortunately, Ray, your way of framing the question entirely sidesteps the U.S.-Israeli eschatology/scatology of the ISIS predicament.

      Terrorism is a geo-strategic power tool. If we fail to recognize the cause (who is wielding the tool and for what purposes), then we end up distracted, confused and preoccupied with the highly dramatic secondary and tertiary consequences (decapitation videos, bomb attacks, shootings, aircraft hijackings, large buildings collapsing).

      The Russians get it. The S-400 complex at Khmeimim airbase in Latakia can engage targets over Lebanon, half of Israel and much of Turkey, including NATO’s Incirlik Air Base near Adana.

      Thanks to the “wily” Erdogan, we can finally stop talking endlessly about Tel Aviv’s “far friends” and start to address actual regional “issues”.

    • Brad Owen
      December 2, 2015 at 8:14 am

      I have doubts that the members composing the Prez’s Administration are there at the PRESIDENT’S pleasure. I suspect they are there to please the Agenda set in Wall Street AND especially City-of-London. I suspect the President has been told to go along, if he “knows what’s good for ‘im”. And yes, I suspect the Prez admires and envies the power of these “savvy businessmen”, if not their Agenda; he’s a narcissistic PowerWhore, selected to enable The Agenda in return for a taste of POWER, nothing more. The Agenda is to perpetuate the power & Reign of the global Deep State, and checkmate any threats to their Power & Reign.

  7. Abe
    December 1, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    In the months leading up to the attack, there were several indicators the US knew it would take place. On September 3rd, the families of US staff members were urged to evacuated out of Incirlik air base in Turkey and were given until October 1st to do so. On November 3rd, the US deployed F-15 fighter Jets to Turkey which are specifically designed for air-to-air combat. Since ISIS has no planes, the target could only have been Russian aircrafts. Most significantly, on October 21st, the US and Russia signed a deconfliction protocol, in order to ‘avoid clashes in Syria’s skies’. This entailed giving the US information about where and when Russia will conduct sorties. Russian president Putin suggested this information was passed on to Turkey by the US and used to shoot down the Sukhoi-24.

    During the months leading up to the attack, US War hawks were increasingly calling for a direct confrontation with Russia, an act that could lead to a third world War. Several US Presidential candidates, including Hillary Clinton, were effectively calling for a shoot down of a Russian Jet. […]

    The spokesman for the Zionist Israeli lobbying group AIPAC, Senator John Mccain, suggested arming Al Qaeda Linked Rebels with Anti-Aircraft weapons to shoot down a Russian Jet. An idea which he himself admits was “what we did in Afghanistan many years ago”. The policy which resulted in the birth of Al Qaeda and the rise of the Taliban. Indeed Qatar had been making an effort towards this end. Documents leaked by Russian hackers ‘Cyber Berkut”, revealed that Qatar was negotiating with Ukraine to purchase Anti-Air weapons to help ISIS shoot down a Russian Jet over Syria. It is likely Ukraine refused to sell these weapons, since arming assets which are difficult control could backfire. After all, US Jets are also using those skies. Flooding the region with hand held Anti-Air weapons could pose a threat them in future. Turkey is a far more reliable and controllable proxy which is capable of shooting down Russian Jets.

    Perhaps one of the most significant War hawk statements comes from the Former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. In an Op-ed for the Financial times Brzezinski suggested that Obama should retaliate if Russia continues to attack U.S. assets in Syria, i.e the Al Qaeda linked rebels. Brzezinski, has experience using Al Qaeda as an asset, having been one of the masterminds behind its creation in Afghanistan. He maintains a great deal of influence and respect in US politics.

    It is likely Brzezinski’s dangerous advice to attack Russia was taken on board by US decision makers. But instead of risking a direct conflict with two nuclear powers, Turkey was used as a proxy. Turkey has its own agenda in attacking Russian jets outside of the US’s interests. Turkish president Erdogan has already committed himself to an anti-Assad position far beyond the point of no return. This was over a gas pipeline deal with Qatar that is now looking more like a pipe dream. Russia has been actively fighting not only ISIS, but Al Qaeda and its affiliates who are crucial for Turkey’s plans to overthrow the Syrian government. The Su-24 was bombing the Al Qaeda-linked Turkmen insurgents, before it was shot down.

    On October 8, NATO made a statement that it would defend Turkey against Russia, after a Russian jet briefly passed through turkish airspace on its way to bomb targets in Syria. Such statements may have encouraged Erdogan to take the exceptional risk of shooting down a Russian Jet under the assumption that Turkey would be protected by NATO. On November 12th, EU countries committed to pay Turkey 3 billion dollars. Interestingly this is the same amount Turkey is estimated to lose, as a result of Russian sanctions put in place in the wake of the attack. This could have been Part of NATO’s assurance to Erdogan that he would lose nothing by going ahead with the attack.

    US Involvement in Turkey’s Shoot Down of the Russian Jet
    By Maram Susli
    http://journal-neo.org/2015/12/01/us-involvement-in-turkey-s-shoot-down-of-the-russian-jet/

  8. Abe
    December 1, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    No US airstrikes in Syria since Russia deployed S-400 systems
    https://www.rt.com/news/323815-syria-s-400-us-airstrikes/

    Both the American and Turkish air forces halted their strikes on Syrian territory around the time Russia deployed S-400 air defense complexes at the Khmeimim airbase, from which it stages its own incursions against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

    […]

    According to open sources, the S-400 is capable of shooting down any existing aircraft, helicopter or missile traveling at speeds of up to 4.8 kilometer per second (over 17,000 km/h) The only target the system would have problems with is a nuclear warhead of intercontinental ballistic missile, which flies at speeds of up to 6-7 kilometer per second.

    The S-400 engages targets at distances as far as 400 kilometers and heights of up to 27 kilometers (or higher with newer missiles). This is enough to cover at least 75 percent of Syrian territory, along with the airspaces of Lebanon, Cyprus, half of Israel and a vast part of Turkey.

    The S-400’s radar has a range of 600 kilometers and is capable of discriminating even objects moving on the ground, such as cars and military vehicles.

    S-400 radar covers Syria, western regions of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, nearly all of Israel and Jordan, Egypt’s northern Sinai, a large part of the eastern Mediterranean and Turkish airspace as far as the capital Ankara.

  9. alexander
    December 1, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Dear Mr Mcgovern ,

    Thanks for a first rate synopsis.

    You seem to hit every nail on the head that is out there.

    Weapons system manufacturers, the armaments trades, and all the assorted “homeland security”industries that sprouted up like mushrooms after 9-11 seem to have trapped the United States in a massive pickle of perpetual war and perpetual debt…

    If I were the CEO of a leading bomb manufacturer in the United States, my income as well as the growth and profitability of my company, all depend upon there being wars to fight and conflicts to engage……

    How much interest do I have in diplomacy , conflict resolution, finding peaceful solutions or ending the “war on terror” by winning it ?

    I can’t say I would have much….since “peace on earth” would put me out of business.

    This is one of the truly macabre and perverse transformations our defense industry has undergone since 9-11..These industries seem engaged in manufacturing the terror we must fight to satisfy the increased spending in fighting it.

    Since trillions upon trillions of dollars has been sucked away from all other aspects of our society that make it a vibrant ,creative, and free republic…toward war ,we may well be on a collision course with the destruction of the very society our defense industry was created to “defend.”

    ” Perpetual war” profiteering has created a tsunami like tide of” terror spending ” that has pushed our country very close to the 20 trillion dollar debt mark…to stem it and we should,we may have to seriously rethink the private sectors involvement in our nations defense.

    Nationalizing ( at least) some of those industries would remove the insatiable desire for profits that comes from wanting to make war….and remove the element of “greed” that favors perpetuating the war on terror , not ending it.

    It also allows for more sound management of resources…since fraud, waste and abuse usually emerge out of a desire to create profits by finding “clever” ways to charge more..and produce less.
    Removing ” gross profiteering” from the equation would serve the efficiency of our defense industries by making them leaner and cleaner and help insure we get the most “bang for our buck. not the least.”

    Private sector industries that engage in armaments manufacturing should also be encouraged to diversify

    much like the blacksmith in medieval times….he is skilled at making a sword….but can also make a pot… a pan…and a plowshare..

    It would also enhance our ability as a nation in finding “just resolutions” to conflicts before they start, as well as seeking to end them much more rapidly..

    If there is no material “upside” to keeping a war “waging”, better to end it …..fast. No?

    The reverse of this is also sadly true…why struggle to create a better weapons system if there is no money in it when you do?

    Nationalizing the defense industry may well remove the competitive zeal that private sector capitalism encourages and might reduce our countries leading edge “militarily”.

    I can’t think of many Americans who would want that either.

    A smart nation would be well advised to strike a balance…and keep in mind the bottom line…when pursuing policies of aggression and perpetual war…

    Realigning our military industries to the priority of actually defending our nation when it needs it , not eating it from the inside out when it doesn’t, would help a lot too…

    it would also reduce the amount of fraud purloined upon our citizenry by the decision makers at the top… reintegrate our ” policies” with the values we all have in common.and help curtail our addiction to war.

    Thinking our way out of our 20 trillion dollar hole(and slowing our rapid descent to a 50 trillion one ) won’t be easy, Mr Mcgovern, but articles like yours sure spur us to try…

    Please keep them coming and thanks again.

  10. jaycee
    December 1, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    At last the acknowledgment that “monied interests”, and not the POTUS, call the shots for US foreign policy, and do so in a manner that is reckless and criminal. When was the constitutional amendment codifying this arrangement? There are too many opinion-makers on the progressive side making useless appeals to the supposed better natures or enlightened intelligence of lawmakers when what is necessary is to call a spade a spade – name the current political system for what it is and speak truthfully about the structure of power. The “monied interests” still rely on the taxpayers’ dime for their misadventures and so their power is not unlimited.

  11. Bart
    December 1, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    I just want to know why Victoria Nuland still has a job at State.

    • It's simple really...
      December 2, 2015 at 6:27 am

      She delivered the conflict with Russia that Obama wanted to placate his fellow neocons.

  12. Uuta
    December 2, 2015 at 7:44 am

    I find it laughable that Obama is “boasting” about his “65-nation coalition,” inferring that Putin’s is modest.
    How about this: Putin has done more to hurt Daesh in two months than Obama’s 65-nation coalition has done in two years to hurt Daesh. Hello?

  13. December 3, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    The incompetence theory, Ray? Really?

    And apologetics for poor put upon Barack? The big bad neocons bullied him, although he hired them for his monstrosity of an administration and could fire them at any time.

    Why ISIS Exists: The Double Game
    http://www.internationalpolicydigest.org/2015/11/29/why-isis-exists-the-double-game/

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