Obama Ignores Russian Terror Victims

Exclusive: President Obama has displayed a stunning lack of sympathy for the Russian civilians killed in an ISIS plane bombing in Egypt and for two Russian military men slain as victims of U.S. weapons systems in Syria, putting insults toward President Putin ahead of human decency, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Normally, when a country is hit by an act of terrorism, there is universal sympathy even if the country has engaged in actions that may have made it a target of the terrorists. After 9/11, for instance, any discussion of whether U.S. violent meddling in the Middle East may have precipitated the attack was ruled out of the public debate.

Similarly, the 7/7 attacks against London’s Underground in 2005 were not excused because the United Kingdom had joined in President George W. Bush’s aggressive war in Iraq. The same with the more recent terror strikes in Paris. No respectable politician or pundit gloated about the French getting what they deserved for their long history of imperialism in the Muslim world.

President Barack Obama uncomfortably accepting the Nobel Peace Prize from Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10, 2009. (White House photo)

President Barack Obama uncomfortably accepting the Nobel Peace Prize from Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10, 2009. (White House photo)

But a different set of rules apply to Russia. Along with other prominent Americans, President Barack Obama and New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman have expressed smug satisfaction over the murder of 224 people aboard a Russian charter flight blown up over the Sinai and in the slaying of a Russian pilot who had been shot down by a Turkish warplane and the killing of a Russian marine on a rescue mission.

Apparently, the political imperative to display disdain for Russian President Vladimir Putin trumps any normal sense of humanity. Both Obama on Tuesday and Friedman on Wednesday treated those Russian deaths at the hands of the Islamic State or other jihadists as Putin’s comeuppance for intervening against terrorist/jihadist gains in Syria.

At a news conference in Paris, Obama expressed his lack of sympathy as part of a bizarre comment in which he faulted Putin for somehow not turning around the Syrian conflict during the past month when Obama and his allies have been floundering in their “war” against the Islamic State and its parent, Al Qaeda, for years, if not decades.

“The Russians now have been there for several weeks, over a month, and I think fair-minded reporters who looked at the situation would say that the situation hasn’t changed significantly,” Obama said. “In the interim, Russia has lost a commercial passenger jet.  You’ve seen another jet shot down. There have been losses in terms of Russian personnel.  And I think Mr. Putin understands that, with Afghanistan fresh in the memory, for him to simply get bogged down in a inconclusive and paralyzing civil conflict is not the outcome that he’s looking for.”

In examining that one paragraph, a “fair-minded” reporter could find a great deal to dispute. Indeed, the comments suggest that President Obama has crossed some line into either believing his own propaganda or thinking that everyone who listens to him is an idiot and will believe whatever he says.

But what was perhaps most disturbing was Obama’s graceless manner of discussing the tragedy of the Sinai bombing, followed by his seeming pleasure over Turkey shooting down a Russian SU-24 last week, leading to the killing of two Russian military men, one the pilot who was targeted while parachuting to the ground and the other a marine after his search-and-rescue helicopter was downed by a TOW missile.

Even more troubling, the key weapon systems used the Turkish F-16 fighter jet and the TOW missile were U.S.-manufactured and apparently U.S. supplied, in the case of the TOW missile either directly or indirectly to Sunni jihadists deemed “moderate” by the Obama administration.

The Ever-Smug Friedman

Columnist Friedman was equally unfeeling about the Russian deaths. In a column entitled “Putin’s Great Syrian Adventure,” Friedman offered a mocking assessment of Russia’s intervention against Sunni jihadists and terrorists seeking to take control of Syria.

While ridiculing anyone who praised Putin’s initiative or who just thought the Russian president was “crazy like a fox,” Friedman wrote: “Some of us thought he was just crazy.

“Well, two months later, let’s do the math: So far, Putin’s Syrian adventure has resulted in a Russian civilian airliner carrying 224 people being blown up, apparently by pro-ISIS militants in Sinai. Turkey shot down a Russian bomber after it strayed into Turkish territory. And then Syrian rebels killed one of the pilots as he parachuted to earth and one of the Russian marines sent to rescue him.”

Ha-ha, very funny! And, by the way, it has not been established that the Russian SU-24 did stray into Turkish air space but if it did, according to the Turkish account, it passed over a sliver of Turkish territory for all of 17 seconds.

The evidence is quite clear that the SU-24 was ambushed in a reckless act by Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who has been collaborating with Syrian and foreign jihadists for the past four years to overthrow Syria’s secular government. And the murder of the pilot after he bailed out of the plane is not some reason to smirk; it is a war crime.

Even uglier is the lack of any sympathy or outrage over the terrorist bombing that killed 224 innocent people, mostly tourists, aboard a Russian charter flight in Egypt. If the victims had been American and a similar callous reaction had come from President Putin and a columnist for a major Russian newspaper, one can only imagine the outrage. However, in Official Washington, any recognition of a common humanity with Russians makes you a “Moscow stooge.”

The other wacky part of both Obama’s comments and Friedman’s echoes of the same themes is this quick assessment that the Russian intervention in support of the Syrian government has been some abject failure as if the U.S.-led coalition has been doing so wonderfully.

First, as a “fair-minded” reporter, I would say that it appears the Russian-backed Syrian offensive has at least stopped the advances of the Islamic State, Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and its jihadist allies, including Ahrar al-Sham (which technically separates itself from Al Qaeda and thus qualifies for U.S.-supplied weaponry even though it fights side-by-side with Nusra in the Saudi-backed Army of Conquest).

The Afghan Memories

Obama’s reference to Afghanistan was also startling. He was suggesting that Putin should have learned a lesson from Moscow’s intervention in the 1980s in support of a secular, pro-Soviet regime in Kabul, which came under attack by CIA-organized-and-armed Islamic jihadists known then as mujahedeen.

Wielding sophisticated surface-to-air missiles and benefiting from $1 billion a year in Saudi-U.S.-supplied weapons, the Afghan fundamentalist mujahedeen and their allies, including Saudi Osama bin Laden, eventually drove Soviet troops out in 1989 and several years later behind the Taliban completed the reversion of Afghanistan back to the Seventh Century. Women in Kabul went from dressing any way they liked in public, including wearing mini-skirts, to being covered in chadors and kept at home.

Obama’s bringing up Afghanistan in the Syrian context and Putin’s supposed one-month Syrian failure was ironic in another way. After Al Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks, the United States invaded Afghanistan in pursuit of bin Laden and has been bogged down in a quagmire there for 14 years, including nearly seven years under Obama.

So, Obama may not be on the firmest ground when he suggests that Putin recall Moscow’s experience in Afghanistan a few decades ago. After all, Obama has many more recent memories.

Further, what is different about Putin’s Syrian strategy compared with Obama’s is that the Russians are targeting all the terrorists and jihadists, not just the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh). While U.S. propaganda tries to present the non-ISIS jihadists as “moderates” (somehow pretending that Al Qaeda is no longer a terrorist organization), there is, in reality, very little distinction between ISIS and the alliance of Nusra/Ahrar al-Sham.

And, as for Official Washington’s new “group think” about the Syrian government’s lack of progress in the war, there is the discordant news that the last of rebel forces have agreed to abandon the central city of Homs, which had been dubbed the “capital of the revolution.” The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that “thousands of insurgents will leave the last opposition-held neighborhood in” Homs, with the withdrawal beginning next week.

Al-Jazeera added the additional fact that the remaining 4,000 insurgents are “from al-Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham and the Free Syrian Army.” In other words, the “moderate” Free Syrian Army was operating in collusion with Al Qaeda’s affiliate and its major jihadist partner.

While it’s hard to get reliable up-to-date information from inside Syria, one intelligence source familiar with the military situation told me that the Syrian government offensive, backed by Iranian troops and Russian air power, had been surprisingly successful in putting the jihadists, including ISIS and Nusra, on the defensive, with additional gains around the key city of Aleppo.

The Belated Oil Bombings

Also, in the past week, Putin shamed Obama into joining in a bombing operation to destroy hundreds of trucks carrying ISIS oil to Turkey. Why that valuable business was allowed to continue during the U.S.-led war on ISIS since summer 2014 has not been adequately explained. It apparently was being protected by Turkish President Erdogan.

Another irony of Obama’s (and Friedman’s) critical assessment of Putin’s one-month military campaign came in Obama’s recounting of his meeting during the Paris climate summit with Erdogan. Obama said he was still appealing to Erdogan to close the Turkish-Syrian border although radical jihadists have been crossing it since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

“With respect to Turkey, I have had repeated conversations with President Erdogan about the need to close the border between Turkey and Syria,” Obama said. “We’ve seen some serious progress on that front, but there are still some gaps.  In particular, there’s about 98 kilometers that are still used as a transit point for foreign fighters, ISIL shipping out fuel for sale that helps finance their terrorist activities.”

In other words, all these years into the conflict and about 1½ years since Obama specifically targeted ISIS Turkey has not closed its borders to prevent ISIS from reinforcing itself with foreign fighters and trafficking in illicit oil sales to fund its terror operations. One might suspect that Erdogan has no intention of really stopping the Sunni jihadists from ravaging Syria.

Erdogan still seems set on violent “regime change” in Syria after allowing his intelligence services to provide extensive help to ISIS, Al Qaeda’s Nusra and other extremists. The Russians claim that politically well-connected Turkish businessmen also have been profiting off the ISIS oil sales.

But Obama’s acknowledgement that he has not even been able to get NATO “ally” Turkey to seal its border and that ISIS still remains a potent fighting force makes a mockery of his mocking Putin for not “significantly” changing the situation on the ground in Syria in one month.

Obama also slid into propaganda speak when he blamed Assad for all the deaths that have occurred during the Syrian conflict. “I consider somebody who kills hundreds of thousands of his own people illegitimate,” Obama said.

But again Obama is applying double standards. For instance, he would not blame President George W. Bush for the hundreds of thousands (possibly more than a million) dead Iraqis, yet Bush was arguably more responsible for those deaths by launching an unprovoked invasion of Iraq than Assad was in battling a jihadist-led insurgency.

Plus, the death toll of Syrians, estimated to exceed a quarter million, includes many soldiers and police as well as armed jihadists. That does not excuse Assad or his regime for excessively heavy-handed tactics that have inflicted civilian casualties, but Obama and his predecessor both have plenty of innocent blood on their hands, too.

After watching Obama’s news conference, one perhaps can hope that he is just speaking out of multiple sides of his mouth as he is wont to do. Maybe, he’s playing his usual game of “above-the-table/below-the-table,” praising Erdogan above the table while chastising him below the table and disparaging Putin in public while cooperating with the Russian president in private.

Or maybe President Obama has simply lost touch with reality and with common human decency.

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

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30 comments for “Obama Ignores Russian Terror Victims

  1. Abe
    December 2, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    The Russian passenger jet crash over the Sinai Peninsula and the downing of a Russian military aircraft by Turkey are “bold” responses to Zbigniew Brzezinski’s repeated calls for Putin to “pay a price” for interference with U.S./NATO actions in eastern Europe and the Middle East.

    Obama’s taunt reflects the narrative advanced by Brzezinski, who is furious with Putin for thwarting “American assets” in Syria and Ukraine.

    In an October 4, 2015 Financial Times op-ed, Brzezinski urged “strategic boldness”, insisting that in “these rapidly unfolding circumstances the U.S. has only one real option if it is to protect its wider stakes in the region: to convey to Moscow the demand that it cease and desist from military actions that directly affect American assets”.

    Ignored by the mainstream media, Brzezinski’s statement is a direct acknowledgement that al-Qaeda forces in Syria, including both al-Nusra and ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, are “American assets”.

    The crash of the Malaysian passenger jet flight MH-17 over eastern Ukraine was yet another example of “strategic boldness”, designed to make Putin “pay a price” for what Brzezinski termed the “seizure” of Crimea by Russia.

    • david thurman
      December 2, 2015 at 10:11 pm

      Brzezinski is a shill for the David Rockefeller/Council of Foreign Relations “globalist” mindset, in the mold of Alan & John Foster Dulles, John J. McCloy, Kissinger. It seems many elites have delighted in making the Russians/Soviets out to be the boggy man since the time of the Bolshevik revolution.

      • JP
        December 3, 2015 at 3:26 am

        Bravo David Thurman! Well stated and thoroughly formulated!

  2. Abe
    December 2, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Question 1: Mr. President, thanks for the opportunity of talking to you. Let’s start from Paris. How did you react to the news coming from Paris?

    President Assad: We can start by saying it’s a horrible crime, and at the same time it’s a sad event when you hear about innocents being killed without any reason and for nothing, and we understand in Syria the meaning of losing a dear member of the family or a dear friend, or anyone you know, in such a horrible crime. We’ve been suffering from that for the past five years.

    We feel for the French as we feel for the Lebanese a few days before that, and for the Russians regarding the airplane that’s been shot down over Sinai, and for the Yemenis maybe.

    But does the world, especially the West, feel for those people, or only for the French? Do they feel for the Syrians that have been suffering for five years from the same kind of terrorism? We cannot politicize feeling, feeling is not about the nationality, it’s about the human in general.

    Question 2: There’s Daesh behind that. But from here, from this point of view, from here from Damascus, how strong is Daesh? How do you think we can fight terrorists on the ground?

    President Assad: If you want to talk about the strength of Daesh, the first thing you have to ask is how much incubator, real incubator, natural incubator, you have in a certain society. Till this moment, I can tell you Daesh doesn’t have the natural incubator, social incubator, within Syria. This is something very good and very assuring, but at the same time, if it’s becoming chronic, this kind of ideology can change the society.

    Question 3: Yes, but some of the terrorists were trained here, in Syria, just a few kilometers from here. What does it mean?

    President Assad: That’s by the support of the Turks and the Saudi and Qatari and, of course, the Western policy that supported the terrorists in different ways since the beginning of the crisis. But that’s not the issue. First of all, if you don’t have the incubator, you shouldn’t worry. But second, they can be strong as long as they have strong support from different states, whether Middle Eastern states or Western states.

    Question 4: Mr. President, there are speculations in the West, that say that you were one of who supported Daesh in the beginning of the crisis, because of dividing the opposition, because of dividing the rebels. How do you react?

    President Assad: Actually, according to what some American officials said, including Hillary Clinton, Al Qaeda was created by the Americans with the help of Saudi Wahabi money and ideology, and of course, many other officials said the same in the United States. And ISIS and al-Nusra, they are offshoots of Al Qaeda.

    Regarding ISIS, it started in Iraq, it was established in Iraq in 2006, and the leader was al-Zarqawi who was killed by the American forces then, so it was established under the American supervision in Iraq, and the leader of ISIS today, who is called Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, he was in the American prisons, and he was put in New York in their prisons, and he was released by them.

    So, it wasn’t in Syria, it didn’t start in Syria, it started in Iraq, and it started before that in Afghanistan according to what they said, and Tony Blair recently said that yes, the Iraqi war helped create ISIS. So, their confession is the most important evidence regarding your question.

    — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
    Interview with Italian TV channel RAI UNO (19 November 2015)
    http://sana.sy/en/?p=61860

    • Mortimer
      December 3, 2015 at 1:05 am

      I saw that interview ( or one similar) on the BBC’s “Hardtalk” and was impressed by Assad’s control and assuredness. He is an astute leader and no guided mouthpiece. His replies were crisp and always on point.

      I’d be a damn shame if they get away with murdering this man as they did Saddam and Gaddafi, both of which build economically stable secular societies.

  3. bill
    December 2, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    i think that some 75,000,000 American citizens sooner or later will have to sit down in Washington to end this

    • JP
      December 3, 2015 at 3:31 am

      Unfortunately, you can’t get even 75 Americans to turn off ESPN, video gaming or any other useless skills developers to even agree on anything, nevertheless march on Washington D.C.! :(

  4. Zachary Smith
    December 2, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    Excellent essay.

    As for myself, I fear I shock family members now by my addition of “four letter words” when speaking of Obama.

    Never mind that Hillary and every Republican candidate is somewhat worse. The man has become a parody of a good President. And if he is any kind of “Christian”, I sincerely want to be described as anything else.

    • dahoit
      December 3, 2015 at 2:26 pm

      Yes,since 9-11,I’m a pariah also for being right about everything I’ve said.(or almost).my family included.It’s just too much for our insulated material lives,to be told the shocking truth that we are the BAD guys.
      And everyone else who has been right about the whole total BS war of terror,I salute you also.We can only keep up the good fight.,

  5. jaycee
    December 3, 2015 at 1:08 am

    Friedman is such a toady, but he has a knack for expressing official policy, which is often obscure.
    Therefore, based on his recent column, the current US policy in Syria is to fragment the country (and possibly Iraq) into new “Stans” – Sunnistan, Kurdistan, etc- just as has been promoted by the likes of the Brookings “scholars”. This would explain the rush of NATO-aligned countries to get military activity underway in Syria, conceivably to claim influence in the new break away states.
    Friedman’s assertion that Saudi Arabia represents some kind of moderating influence is laughable however.

  6. Erica Stuart
    December 3, 2015 at 2:09 am

    Some people are so afraid of standing with Putin when he is right they would “cut their nose to spite their face.” Corny but he only way to communicate with what we have offering their “leadership”

  7. WG
    December 3, 2015 at 3:24 am

    The US has become an embarrassment. I can’t help but wonder if all the US political and media elites believe their inane lies and condescending misstatements or whether they gather behind closed doors and discuss what’s happening in the real world.

    They are either mind bogglingly stupid or cold calculating sociopaths.

  8. Peter Loeb
    December 3, 2015 at 7:12 am

    DULY NOTED

    Certainly Vladimir Putin or his associates have duly noted
    President Obama’s remarks. I seriously doubt that they are
    given the weight that Robert Parry has given them.

    What hurts official Washington is unspoken. In fact
    Russia and those cooperating with it are winning the
    war against Da’esh (ISIS etc.). Russia is also winning
    the diplomatic war in the UN by supporting France’s
    resolution in the UN Security Council,

    S/ Res/ 2249 (2014)

    This resolution passed unanimously (which is to say
    the US also ratified it) on 20 November 20115, (See
    website for the UN Security Council for the complete
    text.)

    This resolution reflects the Russian-French-Iranian (etc.)
    approach to Da’esh, not Washington’s approach.

    It is no wonder that Washington is squirming, trying
    to replace the UN Security Council resolution which it
    has just ratified, and trying to distract to replace
    it entirely with its own policies.

    Other articles in Consortium have clarified the extent
    to which the Russian and now UN policy has been
    “successful” and why the US approach has failed.

    The war will continue to be bloody as most wars
    are. At this writing the outcome is uncertain.

    What is most significant is not what has been said but
    what has NOT been said by Washington, the West.

    As for the reference to Afghanistan, the decision
    may not been a wise one by Russia. It was never
    backed up by the UN and its Security Council. And
    the 14+ years of war and torture by Washington
    after Russia had withdrawn deserve more scrutiny than
    Obama has given them in public rhetoric.

    —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

    • Peter Loeb
      December 3, 2015 at 7:19 am

      CORRECTION TO “DULY NOTED”:

      S/Res/ 2249(2015)

      Peter Loeb

  9. Somebody explain to me...
    December 3, 2015 at 7:18 am

    How is this a revolution, rebellion or insurrection when most of the opponents trying to bring down the government are foreign fighters and foreign governments supplying guns and money to do the job? This has been an invasion, pure and simple. And, although the United States has allowed Turkey and Saudi Arabia to do most of the dirty work, it would seem that the Empire has been orchestrating it all. Moreover, the American barbarism has been done in a thoroughly graceless fashion by goons not diplomats. The SS showed more civility than Obama does. He no longer just irritates me. (I once supported him and voted for him twice. His betrayal is bitter medicine.) He thoroughly disgusts me. That he represents our country in unacceptable. As I said earlier, the man has lost his mind and should be removed from office (along with his goon running the war in Ukraine, Joe Biden).

    • Brad Owen
      December 3, 2015 at 1:16 pm

      1.Biden convenes Cabinet. 2. They invoke 25th Amendment. 3. The former Prez takes the “Nixon helicopter ride” outta town in a white coat with long sleeves tied behind the back…but that only gets rid of ONE crazy…it does remove the itchy, baseball card-loving, “Drone Trigger Finger” from the nuclear button, though.

  10. December 3, 2015 at 8:52 am

    I just wanted to thank Robert Parry for his courageous article in defense of decency and fairness, when I read at the end of the text: “That does not excuse Assad or his regime for excessively heavy-handed tactics that have inflicted civilian casualties.”

    How does Mr. Parry know that the Syrian government under President Dr. Bashar al-Assad is guilty of “excessively heavy-handed tactics?” Was he there when it happened?

    Mr. Parry must be aware that most English language reports about Syria come from Rami Abdulrahman’s UK-based SOHR (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights), “citizen journalists,” who are members of Islamic rebel groups, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube accounts of jihadists, Western funded NGOs like the White Helmets, and Thomson Reuters, owned by the Thomson billionaire family (worth 23 billion US$).

    The reports from these sources sharply contradict the reports from SANA, Fars News, Al-Manar, As-Safir, RT, and Itar Tass. SANA is the Syrian State agency, Fars News is Iran’s leading news agency, Al-Manar is a Lebanese TV channel, As-Safir is the biggest newspaper in Lebanon, RT and Itar Tass are big Russian agencies. These organizations employ hundreds of journalists (Itar Tass for instance has 68 foreign bureaus) and they all have reporters and contributors in Syria, often directly on the front lines.

    Whom does Robert Parry believe more?

    • Abe
      December 3, 2015 at 1:21 pm

      In reality, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has long ago been exposed as an absurd propaganda front operated by Rami Abdul Rahman out of his house in England’s countryside. According to a December 2011 Reuters article titled, “Coventry – an unlikely home to prominent Syria activist,” Abdul Rahman admits he is a member of the so-called “Syrian opposition” and seeks the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad […]

      Abdul Rahman is not a “human rights activist.” He is a paid propagandist. He is no different than the troupe of unsavory, willful liars and traitors provided refuge in Washington and London during the Iraq war and the West’s more recent debauchery in Libya, for the sole purpose of supplying Western governments with a constant din of propaganda and intentionally falsified intelligence reports designed specifically to justify the West’s hegemonic designs.

      Abdul Rahman’s contemporaries include the notorious Iraqi defector Rafid al-Janabi, codename “Curveball,” who now gloats publicly that he invented accusations of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the West’s casus belli for a 10 year war that ultimately cost over a million lives, including thousands of Western troops, and has left Iraq still to this day in shambles. There’s also the lesser known Dr. Sliman Bouchuiguir of Libya, who formed the foundation of the pro-West human rights racket in Benghazi and now openly brags in retrospect that tales of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s atrocities against the Libyan people were likewise invented to give NATO its sought-after impetus to intervene militarily.

      Unlike in Iraq and Libya, the West has failed categorically to sell military intervention in Syria, and even its covert war has begun to unravel as the public becomes increasingly aware that the so-called “pro-democracy rebels” the West has been arming for years are in fact sectarian extremists fighting under the banner of Al Qaeda. The charade that is the “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” is also unraveling. It is unlikely that the New York Times’ limited hangout will convince readers that Rami Abdul Rahman is anything other than another “Curveball” helping the corporate-financier elite of Wall Street and London sell another unnecessary war to the public.

      EXPOSED: Syrian Human Rights Front is EU-Funded Fraud
      http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2013/04/exposed-syrian-human-rights-front-is-eu.html

  11. Bart
    December 3, 2015 at 10:45 am

    The Montenegro business reminds me that I can’t point to any op-ed at the NYTimes giving Russia’s point of view regarding NATO encroachment. Anyone?

    My calendar tells me it’s the first of the month, so it’s time for another anti-Russian missive from Masha Gessen at the Times.

    • Pavlusha
      December 3, 2015 at 12:47 pm

      She also does her regular propaganda shtick these days In New Yorker on-line.

  12. Anthony Shaker
    December 3, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Friedman, who reflects the low intellectual level of journalism these days, speaks like a visionary but is realy just a blabber mouth. The “flat earth theory” he is mainly known for is an idea he pilfered from an Indian economist, to whom he has never quite given credit. His every interview with Charlie Rose, and they are numerous, betrays the comical self-importance of a modern-day prophet. His “policy recommendations” for the Middle East uniformly show his utter contempt for “Arabs” and Muslims, whom he faults for terrorism and even for their prostration before Western designs.

    He likes to use the word Arab to designate the Arabic-speaking peoples of the Middle East. But “Arab” is a category invented by the British to justify an “uprising” by desert “Arab” marauders on the Arabian Peninsula against the Ottomans. Since then, “Arabism” and “Pan-Arabism” have nothing more than political ideology, a failed one at that. They are not an ethnic group. Arabic- speaking nations are not “Arab,” a term that properly refers to the ethnic Arabs of the Arabian Peninsula and to Bedouins (like Qadhafi) here and there.

    For decades, this false ethnic designation has been used to justify the Zionist colony of Israel. Before that race colony’s creation, the administrators of the French colony in Algeria, which the French maintained through the murder of over a million local inhabitants, conveniently designated Arabs as the subjugated people. Israel and Zionists use “Arab” to justify their claim that Palestinians should go live in the “Arab” world instead of Israel.

    Friedman buys into this narrative and repeatedly faults the Palestinians for not “concentrating on the things that matter,” like education and reforming themselves. It is as if no Palestinians had ever heard of education before the West fell on their heads. Every Muslim and Christian in the Middle East–and I am one of those with a Christian background–knows about the once-sprawling, multiconfessional Islamicate civilization of yesterday, that civilization which built a 14-century learning tradition and laid the foundations of every branch of modern science and of philosophy.

    This longer view of history contrasts sharply with a dark age in our time, when Western society collapsed twice–World Wars I and II. Between those two wars, we have almost forgotten, the world descended into a global regime of gangsterism. Whole cities in the US belonged to the Al Capones, and the criminally corrupt Hoover “administration” was voted in by an exhausted country. Meanwhile, Europe fell into the grip of gangster regimes almost everywhere: Italian fascists, German Nazis, Hungarian ultra-leftists, Eastern European pan-Slavists, etc., and yes, Great Britain and France were in the grip of the same worldwide decay.

    A millinnial human tradition shared which European historically shared with Muslims broke down and nothing has yet replaced it.

    Today, in our galloping tribalism, I fear that in the face of barbarism we have grown indifferent to each other’s tragedies, and laugh about it. This is a dangerous moment in human history, one that perhaps we should try to understand better and warn our kids about. I say this because it feels like the concluding chapters of a century and a half of world domination by the West (US, Britain and France), one of the shortest imperial reigns in history.

    Without appreciating the significance of the Postwar transformations since the demise of the British Empire and the twin socio-political collapses of the last century, we will stumble into a truly dark age.

  13. Abe
    December 3, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    “We hit Iraq because we could.”
    — Thomas L. Friedman on Charlie Rose (30 May 2003)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwFaSpca_3Q

    • Abe
      December 3, 2015 at 12:58 pm

      Friedman, one of the highest profile hasbara ‘splainers in American mainstream media, has been a champion of collective punishment.

      Collective punishment is a form of retaliation whereby a suspected perpetrator’s family members, friends, acquaintances, sect, neighbors or entire ethnic group is targeted. The punished group may often have no direct association with the other individuals or groups, or direct control over their actions. In times of war and armed conflict, collective punishment has resulted in atrocities, and is a violation of the laws of war and the Geneva Conventions. Historically, occupying powers have used collective punishment to retaliate against and deter attacks on their forces by Resistance movements (e.g. destroying entire towns and villages where such attacks have occurred).

      Friedman’s babble about a “terrorism bubble” is Israeli government boilerplate rhetoric used to justify collective punishment actions against the people of occupied Palestine.

      The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, commonly referred to as the Fourth Geneva Convention, adopted in August 1949, defines humanitarian protections for civilians in a war zone. Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention specifically forbids collective punishment.

      In 1951, Israel became a contracting party to the four 1949 Geneva Conventions. The United States became a party to the Conventions in 1955.

      Israel has committed numerous violations of the Geneva Convention, but the influential presence of the United States on the United Nations Security Council has enabled Israel to escape punishment for its crimes.

      U.S. complicity in war crimes was galvanized by the 9/11 terror attacks, a “catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor” as predicted by the neoconservative (pro-Israel) think tank The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) document http://www.webcitation.org/5e3est5lT

      Since 2001, the U.S.-Israel alliance has been on a terror rampage throughout the Middle East.

      The United States has been servilely swinging its “big stick” on behalf of Israel, committing war crime after war crime from Fallujah to Tripoli.

      And make no mistake, all of the al-Qaeda brands, from al-Nusra to ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, are U.S.-Israel alliance “sticks”.

      This all works as long as the American public continues to “Remember 9/11”. Should they forget, another “”catastrophic and catalyzing event” will be arranged to jog their memory.

      • Daniel
        December 9, 2015 at 8:40 am

        I fear you are right. Patterns in history over the last century certainly paint an ugly picture, and the current version of U.S. propaganda is increasingly transparently false.

  14. Abe
    December 3, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    Turkey and Israel both have been playing the role of “wild cards” NATO and the US in particular have attempted to feign an inability to control. This allows the US to carry out acts of aggression by proxy through the use of conventional military forces it itself could never justify carrying out.

    Turkey and Israel’s use by the US in this manner was revealed as early as 2012 in the Brookings Institution’s “Middle East Memo #21,” “Assessing Options for Regime Change,” which stated:

    “In addition, Israel’s intelligence services have a strong knowledge of Syria, as well as assets within the Syrian regime that could be used to subvert the regime’s power base and press for Asad’s removal. Israel could posture forces on or near the Golan Heights and, in so doing, might divert regime forces from suppressing the opposition. This posture may conjure fears in the Asad regime of a multi-front war, particularly if Turkey is willing to do the same on its border and if the Syrian opposition is being fed a steady diet of arms and training. Such a mobilization could perhaps persuade Syria’s military leadership to oust Asad in order to preserve itself. Advocates argue this additional pressure could tip the balance against Asad inside Syria, if other forces were aligned properly.”

    It appears an uninspired rewriting of this plan is being put into effect now, despite the presence of Russian forces in the region. Perhaps the US believes Russia too would seek to avoid a two-front war with Turkey and Israel as the primary combatants with the US itself playing a muted role for the sake of plausible deniability. Even if war was not the intended final outcome, perhaps the US believes this extra pressure could afford them much needed leverage in a conflict already clearly escaping out of their control.

    To this end, in the wake of Turkey’s actions, Ankara has intentionally posed as unrepentant. While it claims to have recordings of its “warning” transmitted to the Russian Su-24, readers should keep in mind another recording made public coming from amid Turkey’s senior leadership.

    Ahead of a previously failed attempt to establish a “buffer zone” in northern Syria, Turkey was caught conspiring to carry out a false flag attack on its own territory to blame on Syria thus justifying a full-scale invasion of Syria’s northern border.

    Russian Retaliation Will Be Defeating NATO in Syria
    By Tony Cartalucci
    http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2015/12/russian-retaliation-will-be-defeating.html

  15. ltr
    December 3, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    Terrific and sorely needed essay. The diplomatic absurdity of the comments by President Obama is impossible to understand other than as a decision to return to the Cold War.

  16. the lion
    December 4, 2015 at 4:54 am

    I really wonder how the United States would react if the Russian Spy services actually published who was funding ISIS and Al Nusra AKA Al Qaeda in Iraq, and then Russia said it was going to BOMB (with any type of Bomb required and invade those countries as Funders of International Terrorism! As we KNOW Turkey has been buying ISIS Pumped oil, we know this because that’s where the trucks were going! We also KNOW that Al Nusra was directly funded and trained by the CIA and Pentagon! We also KNOW that the Saudis were and are funding ISIS! All for the sake of regime change! we should also realise that NOT one Sunni Country except Afghanistan and Yemen has actually been targeted by America! The majority of countries are Shiite and have had some form of Bathist party allegiance! A reasonably secular regime that has had socialist leanings, allowing women to be treated as women and where education and Health services were largely paid by the Government! Instead the US has allowed Sunni countries that stifle women’s rights and try to keep the majority uneducated to keep their UNELECTED governments in Power! America has for decades destabilized the Middle East and now they are reaping what they have sowed, with millions of refugees flooding into Europe and the major worry of home grown terrorists! Just remember that the Americans were directly responsible for the training of Osama Bin Ladin and the formation of Al Qaeda just as they were directly responsible for the formation of ISIS, well before they started their regime change in Syria, Libya, and other countries without even considering WHO would replace the current leaders!

  17. george Archers
    December 4, 2015 at 10:35 am

    how forgetful, Around 1996 during Bill Clinton’s rein,he received a demand letter from American Israel Firsters–7 middle east countries to be destroyed and worse another Pearl Harbor is needed to get the military operation going.
    Let’s cut out the chase–USA is directing/funding the slaughter and destruction.Other countries mentioned are smoke screens. Their only interests are getting their oil to Europe by a pipe line through Syria. Sad–America’s goal is greater Israel.Not one word was uttered-Sad to say !

    • Daniel
      December 9, 2015 at 8:48 am

      Thank you. I read this site daily, as one of the only places that offers so much thoughtful insight and fair analysis of world events, but this fact concerning Syria and our involvement in the ME in general is rarely mentioned – that we are there in large part, if not solely, due to our desire to control the flow and sale of oil.

      Frequently we see cited the ‘Assad must go’ reasoning for our presence in Syria, less so the ‘why’. Even by one of our most trusted, invaluable reporters, Robert Parry. At least he is waking from his ‘Obama is really a good guy, constrained by neocons’ narrative.

  18. David G
    December 7, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    “And the murder of the [parachuting] pilot after he bailed out of the plane is not some reason to smirk; it is a war crime.”

    Is that true? I know it’s a tangent, but I’m wondering whether a combatant who has bailed out—who is helpless, but who hasn’t, as far as we know, surrendered—has protected status.

    Defenseless soldiers can be killed in other circumstances without it being a war crime. A lot of hideous things aren’t war crimes: they’re war. Or is this different?

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