The Warnings of a New World War

The U.S.-Russia confrontation over Ukraine and now Syria is far more dangerous than is understood by mainstream U.S. analysts as Russia lays down clear warnings that are mostly being ignored, writes Gilbert Doctorow.

By Gilbert Doctorow

In an interview with the Bild newspaper on Oct. 8, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is known for his cautious rhetoric, described the present international situation in the following woeful terms: “unfortunately it is an illusion to believe this is the old Cold War. The new times are different; they are more dangerous. Previously, the world was divided, but Moscow and Washington knew each other’s red lines and respected them. In a world with many regional conflicts and dwindling influence of the great powers, the world becomes more unpredictable.”

For these reasons, said Steinmeier, “The USA and Russia must continue talking with each other.” He concluded his appeal with fairly balanced recommendations to resolve the humanitarian crisis in east Aleppo, urging both Russia and the other powers to apply their influence with their clients on the ground.

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 Advisor 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 Advisor Susan E. Rice listens at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Sad to say, this call to reason fell on deaf ears. On the same day, a U.S. State Department spokesman explained to journalists Washington’s decision over the weekend to end the joint peace process with Moscow, saying that there was “nothing left to talk about with the Russians.”

Meanwhile, the Russian side took as the last straw this unilateral and trumpeted decision of the Americans to bury the deal signed on Sept. 9 between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that had taken 14 hours to negotiate and was seen as a triumph of cooperation versus confrontation.

De facto, from the Russian view, that deal was sabotaged on Sept. 17 by the Pentagon when U.S. and coalition aircraft bombed a Syrian government military outpost at Deir Ezzor killing more than 60 Syrian soldiers. And de facto, the Russians had suspended the implementation of the ceasefire on Sept. 23 when they renewed heavy bombing of east Aleppo in close collaboration with the Syrian air force and ground units. Now that the U.S. had formalized the end of cooperation over Syria, Russia set out its own full-blooded response which it called a “radical change in relations” between the two countries.

Several of the components of the Russian response of Oct. 3 and over the week to follow were noted in the U.S. and Western mainstream media. We heard about the decision to cancel the bilateral convention concluded with the U.S. in 2000 on reprocessing excess weapons-grade plutonium for electricity generation. This was widely considered to be of marginal importance, since the U.S. had been unable to implement its part of the bargain for lack of appropriate conversion installations and costs of upwards of $18 billion if it did what was necessary.

We heard about Russia holding civil defense exercises to provide for 40 million citizens, though no one could make much sense of it. We heard about the announcement of the Russian Ministry of Defense that it now has brought to Syria and made operational its most advanced air defense missile systems, the S300 and S400, but Pentagon spokesmen professed to be dumbfounded and asked rhetorically what was the purpose of the move.

Finally, we all heard this week that Russia has officially deployed its hypersonic, potentially nuclear-tipped, 500 kilometer-range Iskander ground-to-ground missiles in its Kaliningrad enclave on the Baltic Sea sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania. The Polish military officials immediately expressed dismay, feeling under threat and said they were putting all their defense facilities on alert. But Pentagon spokesmen said there was no reason to view this deployment as different from the last deployment in Kaliningrad two years ago, which was just a training exercise.

Playing Down the Danger

From the foregoing, it would appear that the U.S. government was keen to play down to the general public the significance of the separately noted Russian moves last week. It is in this context that one must appreciate what an unofficial but authoritative Russian state television program last Sunday night did to add a few more important dots, to connect them all and to interpret for laymen what is the significance of the Russian démarches.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The state television program on the Rossiya 1 channel, Vesti nedeli (News of the Week), is presented by Dmitri Kiselyov. This two-hour show on prime time is the single most widely watched news broadcast in Russia with tens of millions of viewers. However, in cases like the Oct. 9 show, the real hoped-for audience of the first half-hour segment was in Washington, D.C., where its intent was to pour cold water over hotheads in the Pentagon and CIA – and bring the American leadership back to its senses.

Dmitri Kiselyov is not merely the anchorman of Vesti nedeli. He is also the boss of all news and information programming on state radio and television. He is tough and wears his patriotism on his sleeve. We may assume that what he says has been approved by the Kremlin.

Because of the importance of the message Kiselyov was delivering, I am going to quote heavily from my transcript of his narrative, only making minor cuts:

“This past week relations between the USA and Russia went through a sharp but expected turn. To bend over backwards further in the face of [American] lies has lost all sense and is simply harmful. By bending over backwards we mean looking for diplomatic compromises.

“We held endless expectations that the USA will finally separate the non-terrorists from the terrorists [in Syria]. We waited more than a year for this. But it is clear they did not want to. They are taking us and the whole world for fools. America is working on the side of Al Nusra [Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate], providing them with diplomatic cover; providing them with additional arms; helping them by their supposedly mistaken bombing of a Syrian army position.

“See the outbursts of anti-Russian statements in the U.S. mass media. If we continue with the Americans, our very presence in Syria will lose sense. Instead, working with the legal Syrian government, we can rid the country of terrorists, thereby ensuring security of the Middle Eastern region, Russia and Europe.”

Kiselyov continued: “Those who want to can join us. The U.S. seemed to want to join, then thought again and cut their military cooperation with Russia over Syria on Monday, with one exception, the channel of communication to avoid military clashes in Syria remains in force. For the time being.

“Formally the situation returned to where it was before Sept. 9 when Kerry and Lavrov reached their agreement on a truce. But then [U.S. Defense Secretary] Ashton Carter entered the picture. He opened a second front. He forced Kerry to fight on two fronts. If Kerry previously thought he was competing with the Russians, now he came under “friendly fire” from the Pentagon.

“American forces directly bombed a Syrian military outpost. This was no mistake. It was coordinated with the terrorists, who followed up with an attack. Then there came a camouflaged attack on the humanitarian convoy near Aleppo [Sept. 20]. Finally, it became clear to Moscow that diplomacy is merely a ‘service’ for the Pentagon. Kerry, in intellectual style, justifies the actions of the Pentagon. Often, post factum.

“We will review tonight the radical changes in our relations with America. This includes the dispatch to the region of three of our cruise missile vessels with Kalibr on board. The roll-out in Syria of additional air defense systems S300. The dispatch to Egypt of 5,000 of our paratroopers. The tearing up of our agreements with America in the atomic sphere. And the civil defense exercise of the past week which involved 200,000 civil defense personnel covering 40 million population. To my recollection such a constellation of events never before took place.”

Terrorists and Hostages

Kiselyov went on: “The center of attention has been east Aleppo, still in control of terrorists with hundreds of thousands of civilians kept hostage as a human shield. They execute people who want to leave. We cannot tolerate this anymore. The terrorists are not capable of abiding by agreements. The Syrian army is carrying out a storm operation.

War damage in the once-thriving Syrian city of Aleppo.

War damage in the once-thriving Syrian city of Aleppo.

“There is so much lying and shrieking going on in the world about this. … It’s a serious matter that the U.S. is looking at Russia’s actions to combat terrorists in Syria as a threat to its own exceptionalism. The scenario is not developing according to the U.S. plan, so what is the sense of all the claims to U.S. domination and leadership. It looks as if Barack Obama will leave office before Bashar Assad. And their nasty tricks against Russia, the sanctions, aren’t working…

“To be sure, Washington has loudly announced that it is shifting now to the so-called Plan B. Formally there are no details. But in general terms, everyone understands what we are talking about. Plan B is when America applies in Syria direct military force. It is not hard to guess against whom, against Bashar Assad, the government army, and that means against the armed forces of Russia, who are present in Syria on legal grounds.

“Can we exclude such a variation? No. We cannot exclude provocations to justify the start of war, as happened in the past in the two world wars. The Vietnam War also began with a provocation organized by the Americans. See the false pretenses for invading Iraq and the action in Libya. U.S. ignored international law, decided there can be no obstacles in the path of their assaults.”

Kiselyov continued: “Moscow reacted calmly to Plan B. Russia saddles up slowly, but then rides fast. To understand how Russian-American relations have just quickly changed directions, we have to rewind and go back to the start of the week. Let us now scrupulously go over events since Monday.

“First I want to direct your attention to the very public speech of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. He spoke more quietly and more slowly than usual. Formally it was to open the session of the new 7th Duma. But it was addressed to the very core issues of our souls and minds. His words were not about draft laws, but to the essence of the moment. Putin considered it important to talk about the general basis of support. He spoke about unity of the people as an essential element for the existence of our country. Strength is essential to maintaining our statehood.

“At this Duma session, Putin introduced draft law to halt the convention on plutonium with the USA.”

Kiselyov here makes an association between Putin’s speech to the Duma and the draft law halting the convention on plutonium that would not be obvious to outsiders. Still more important, he called attention to the contents of that draft law, beginning with the reason given for this event, namely what is called a “radical change in circumstances, the emergence of a threat to strategic stability as a result of hostile actions of the United States of America in relation to the Russian Federation and the inability of the United States of America to ensure execution of the obligations it assumed to reprocess the excess weapons grade plutonium in accordance with the Agreement and the protocols to the Agreement.”

Kiselyov then moved to the all-important Point 2 of the draft law. The text was projected onto the television screen, with its provisions highlighted in yellow as Kiselyov read from it. The highlighted passages are as follows:

“The validity of the Agreement and protocols to the Agreement can be renewed after the elimination by the United States of America of the causes which have led to a radical change in the circumstances which existed on the day of the coming into force of the Agreement and the protocols to the Agreement on condition:

“1) that the military infrastructure and numbers of the contingent of troops of the United States of America stationed on the territories of member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) which entered NATO after 1 September 2000 be reduced to their levels on the day of coming into force of the Agreement and protocols to the Agreement

“2) that the United States of America renounces its hostile policy with respect to the Russian Federation which must be expressed:

“a) by the repeal of the 2012 law of the United States of America (Sergei Magnitsky law) and the repeal of provisions of the 2014 law of the United States of America in support of  freedom of Ukraine directed against Russia

“b) by the cancellation of all sanctions introduced by the United States of America with respect to separate subjects of the Russian Federation – Russian individuals and legal entities

“c) compensation of damages borne by the Russian Federation as a result of the sanctions indicated in line ’b’ of this point, including losses from the introduction of necessary counter-sanctions against the United States of America

“d) presentation by the United States of America of a clear plan for irreversible reprocessing of plutonium coming under the scope of the Agreement.”

A Breathtaking Ultimatum 

Kiselyov rightly called these provisions an “Ultimatum” addressed to the White House. Their scope is breathtaking. But the Kremlin’s message to Washington was action, not just words.

President Barack Obama waits backstage before making his last address at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Sept. 20, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama waits backstage before making his last address at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Sept. 20, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Kiselyov explained that on Tuesday the government stopped an ongoing program of scientific contacts with the U.S. in the nuclear field. On the same day it cancelled a program of cooperation between Rosatom and the U.S. Department of Energy over nuclear reactors.

Then, as Kiselyov noted, the Russians “moved from the brakes to the gas pedal.” They dispatched three missile bearing naval vessels from the Black Sea fleet to the Eastern Mediterranean as a back-up in case the U.S. proceeds on Plan B. These are equipped with two types of missiles: the Kalibr cruise missile which may be nuclear tipped and has a 2,600 kilometer range for striking ground targets plus the supersonic Oniks for attacking ships.

Also on what he chose to call “Black Tuesday,” the Russian government confirmed that it has installed its S300 air defense system in Syria. For the explanation, Kiselyov pulled up video recordings of the televised statement by the chief of the press and information service, the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense Igor Konashenkov, who was responding to questions about the Syrian campaign.

Konashenkov said the air defense was installed because of U.S. and French threats to impose a “no fly zone” and because of the lessons learned from the U.S. coalition strike against Syrian forces at Deir Ezzor on Sept. 17. Konashenkov stressed that there will likely be no time for any hot-line discussions with Americans about stealth aircraft or incoming missiles: they will be shot down, “whatever the dilettantes” in American military circles may think.

He explained that Russian military are in settled areas across Syria performing humanitarian work and dealing with local Syrian militia who are laying down their arms under Russian-brokered deals. Therefore, any U.S. air strikes in Syria will likely also hit Russian forces, which is utterly unacceptable.

Next, Kiselyov reminded his audience, on Wednesday, Russia officially notified Washington that it deems the missile defense installations that the United States has built in Romania and is building in Poland are in violation of the convention on intermediate-range missiles since they can be used for offensive as well as defensive rockets.

Russia is not presently withdrawing from the convention on intermediate-range missiles, which was the single biggest arms control agreement of the Reagan-Gorbachev years, but it is preparing the way for abrogation at its choosing. This was the context for Moscow’s announcement on the same day that they have installed their Iskander missile system in Kaliningrad. The suggestion is that this is permanent, not linked to any exercises.

During the same week, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced an unprecedented military exercise in Egypt with dispatch there of 5,000 paratroopers equipped with new, desert-condition uniforms and a new design parachute.

Russian Overseas Bases

According to Kiselyov, Russian Deputy Minister of Defense Pankov said his ministry is reviewing the question of reestablishing military bases in Cuba and Vietnam. And, on the anniversary of its launch into space of the first Sputnik, Moscow celebrated the Day of the Rocket Corps by showing clips of recent “awesome” rocket launches.

A military parade on Red Square. May 9, 2016 Moscow. (Photo from: http://en.kremlin.ru)

A military parade on Red Square. May 9, 2016 Moscow. (Photo from: http://en.kremlin.ru)

Summing up, Kiselyov acknowledged that all these events give the impression of a highly charged atmosphere. They are, he said, all the consequence of America’s steady campaign of expanding NATO, its renunciation of the ABM treaty, its color revolutions, its vilification of Russia, and its information war based on lies. These unfriendly acts had to be a stop.

He asked rhetorically: is this dangerous? To which he responded in the affirmative.

And yet, if Russia is morally and physically prepared for war with the United States to defend what it sees as its national interests, including in Syria, Kiselyov ended the half-hour segment of his weekly news wrap-up on a non-belligerent note. He said the message of the Russian government was its preparedness for the worst while it hopes for better outcomes. He quoted Dmitri Peskov, Putin’s press secretary, who insisted that Russia is always ready for cooperation.

Bad as the enumeration of Moscow’s “radical change in relations” with the United States sounds, the overview of Russian actions and intentions on the Kiselyov program was not exhaustive. In the same week, there were leaks of Russian plans to establish what never existed in the Cold War, a naval base in Egypt, which it is said would support their operations in the Western Mediterranean.

It bears mention that the whole subject of military bases abroad came up on another prime-time flagship program of Russian state television, the Oct. 9 edition of “Sunday Evening with Vladimir Soloviev,” the most popular and respected talk show of the same Rossiya 1 channel.

In a departure from common practice, this edition featured only Russian panelists, mostly of high standing.  The single highest-rated politician panelist was Irina Yarovaya, the tough-as-nails and very smart Duma deputy known best as the author of what Edward Snowden called the Big Brother law this past July. Yarovaya was newly named as Deputy Chair of the State Duma and opened the show, which focused on U.S.-Russian relations and comparative military strength.

Yarovaya remarked on how in 1992 the U.S. defense budget was 77 times greater than Russia’s whereas last year it was just 10 times greater. Today, she noted, the U.S. accounts for 36 percent of total global military expenditures while Russia represents 4 percent. Why does the United States need this disproportionately sized military establishment? Answer: to dominate the political landscape. In this context, she explained, Russia now is throwing cold water on that notion of domination.

At this point, the second-ranking politician on the show entered the debate with an important qualification. Vladimir Zhirinovsky is the leader of the nationalist LDPR party, which did remarkably well in the September elections and was given the Duma committee chairmanship of foreign relations as a reward, another detail of Russian political life that has gone virtually unnoticed in U.S. and Western commentary.

Zhirinovsky insisted that the correlation of military capabilities is more favorable to Russia than the gross figures suggest. After all, he explained, a large chunk of the U.S. defense budget goes on toilet paper, sausages and similar housekeeping expenses in support of its 700 foreign bases.

Notwithstanding that caustic remark about bases generally and eyes-open understanding that such force projection is also debilitating, Zhirinovsky later in the program suggested that Russia would do well to establish 100 overseas bases.

To understand properly what this question of possible Russian military bases overseas means, we have to recall that, in the not so distant past, Vladimir Putin pointed to the country’s having no overseas bases as a distinguishing point setting Russia apart from superpowers. We have no ambition to be a superpower, he said then.

The Risky U.S. ‘War Party’

Those in the U.S. “war party” who talk about Putin’s dream of reestablishing the Soviet Union are repeating endlessly complete nonsense. But there is a dream, a very new dream in Moscow which did not exist until  the present direct and existential confrontation with the U.S. that Russia will be understood to be not just a great power but a superpower with global interests.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC)

In this sense, by presenting Russia with hostility and enormous challenges, the United States has been creating the very Russia it fears.

All of the information that I have used in this commentary are open source. The television programs are all accessible as they are to the U.S. intelligence officers stationed in the U.S. embassy in Moscow. They are also accessible to any Russian-speaking analysts in Langley who happen to be interested since they are posted within 24 hours on youtube.com.

Moreover, the CIA has its own agent taking part in the prime-time talk shows several days a week. He is a welcome and paid guest of the Russian state television because of his outstanding Russian language skills and his defense of the policy line coming from Washington, which makes him the American that Russian viewers love to hate.

In this capacity, he rubs shoulders regularly with the leading Russian politicians on the shows and has a chance, in the breaks, to put to them the kind of question that one such politician said he raised a week ago: “Will there be a war?”

If the U.S. intelligence establishment is doing its job professionally, and we must assume that is the case, then they have been briefing President Obama and the two presidential candidates on the developments in U.S.-Russian relations that I have outlined above.

In that case, a puzzling and scandalous question arises:  why has the President not said a word about the “radical change in relations” with Russia? And why is it that neither candidate when asked about how to respond to the killings in east Aleppo on Debate Two, that very same evening, on Oct. 9, were clueless.

Indeed, the remarks of Hillary Clinton to the effect that the United States must stand up to the Russians and impose a “no-fly zone” in Syria missed the point that to do so now will mean destruction of U.S. aircraft and naval vessels, or, in other words, the onset of World War III. Either she and her policy team do not have their eye on the ball or they are playing a reckless game.

For his part, Donald Trump came out marginally better on the issue of what to do about east Aleppo. He said that, as he understands, it’s lost already. That appraisal is much closer to reality.

The end result of the official silence in the U.S. about Russia’s message of defiance and about its military wherewithal in place in Syria to defend what it construes as its national interest is that as a nation the U.S. is flying blind.

Gilbert Doctorow is the European Coordinator of The American Committee for East West Accord. His most recent book, Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015.

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33 comments for “The Warnings of a New World War

  1. F. G. Sanford
    October 14, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Well said. Unfortunately, our spineless lackey European allies and their “presstitute” media shills are playing up the “tragedy” in Aleppo. They are harping on the “children casualties” and implying that the heartless Russians are to blame. Steinmeier could single-handedly put a stop to all this. So could Merkel or Hollande. So could Theresa May. All they would have to do is point out the relationship between the United States, international terrorism and neocon supported “special interests”. That won’t happen. The “special interests” have coopted both the U.S. and European leadership despite the looming threat of nuclear war. Pitiful. Pathetic. Perverted…and unpatriotic.

  2. Joe Tedesky
    October 14, 2016 at 10:23 am

    “Now children don’t poke the sleeping bear”. Now this would be wise advice to give to your children if you happened along the way to find such a dangerous animal taking a nap, so why not give this advice to Hillary and company.

    While the Russians watched a two hour special warning them about the crucial position their country is in, we Americans watched and listened to our two presidential candidates make accusations of leaked emails, and sexual misconduct towards each other, and they’re spouses. I’m sure though, the American television program made so much of a better tv show than the boring civil defense nature of a show did for the Russian viewers…that’s why we Americans are exceptional. How could a equal show in America begin to warn the American people of the dangers that awaits them, since this would require telling the American people the truth? I mean how do you unravel all the lies and propaganda that has been blasted into the American viewers mind for over the last fifty years, inside of a two hour special?

    • Bill Bodden
      October 14, 2016 at 1:29 pm

      How could a equal show in America begin to warn the American people of the dangers that awaits them, since this would require telling the American people the truth?

      Never happen. If some channel tried to do something like that, in addition to sifting through the propaganda viewers would also have to sit through about 40 minutes of commercials that would have a numbing effect on their limited attention spans.

      • Joe Tedesky
        October 14, 2016 at 2:16 pm

        Talking about commercials who would sponsor such a honest presentation? Answer, no one.

  3. F. Neamtu
    October 14, 2016 at 10:34 am

    The killing of Syrian soldiers was intentional.
    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/09/deir-ezzor-attack-enables-the-salafist-principality-forseen-in-the-2012-dia-analysis.html

    It was also completely illegal.

    It was also done to support isis who attacked immediately following the strike.

    This is not about Qatari pipelines – you dont spend all this money, arm all these foreign mercs, spend 5 years doing so to run a pipeline through that need not go that route (LOOK at a map!)… No that is a cover-conspiracy.

    The violence got going soon after the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline deal was inked.

    The Ziocons who hijacked US policy arent doing it to build a pipeline but prevent one. they certainly dont want Qatari gas to compete with Israel’s Leviathan find… They’ll steal from golan too (look into Genie Energy); and for the Oded Yinon/ Clean Break line of plans.

    Its about Israel more than Russia. About isolating the Lebanese resistance for the next savagery.

    i hope Trump wins. THEN liberals might be against the wars again.

  4. F. Neamtu
    October 14, 2016 at 10:35 am

    The killing of Syrian soldiers was intentional.
    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/09/deir-ezzor-attack-enables-the-salafist-principality-forseen-in-the-2012-dia-analysis.html

    It was also completely illegal.

    It was also done to support isis who attacked immediately following the strike.

    This is not about Qatari pipelines – you dont spend all this money, arm all these foreign mercs, spend 5 years doing so to run a pipeline through that need not go that route (LOOK at a map!)… No that is a cover-conspiracy.

    The violence got going soon after the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline deal was inked.

    The Ziocons who hijacked US policy arent doing it to build a pipeline but prevent one. they certainly dont want Qatari gas to compete with Israel’s Leviathan find… They’ll steal from golan too (look into Genie Energy); and for the Oded Yinon/ Clean Break line of plans.

    Its about Israel more than Russia. About isolating the Lebanese resistance for the next savagery.

    i hope Trump wins. THEN liberals might be against the wars again.

  5. Sam
    October 14, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Thank you for this perspective on the US flying blind. The demand for US withdrawal of NATO encroachments upon Russia since 1992, and for sanctions reparations, is certainly reasonable and well founded. The threat to establish a naval base in Egypt is an excellent move, showing the US zionist warmongers that their harassment in Syria has backfired.

    But expect the Killary supporters to not hear this, until they are ready to claim that it is unprovoked aggression requiring US military buildup, from which of course only warmongers can save us. Building up the right wing in Russia and China is their goal, creating enemies to rationalize their demands for domestic power. It may be the goal of the Russian right as well. But this round, Russia can risk extending influence, surrounding Israel, and challenging Saudi Arabia, a major step forward for everyone. It should be plain even in the US that the US is on the wrong side.

    We shall see whether the US zionists can buy more elections on a platform of risking WWIII to defend a fascist state that specializes in the corruption of US democracy and dragging it into meaningless wars. Perhaps even whether the anger of ISIS and AlQaeda can be redirected at Israel where it belongs.

    • Peter Loeb
      October 15, 2016 at 6:45 am

      I APPROVE YOUR MESSAGES….

      To Gilbert Doctorow and the commenters above, all of us owe
      a great deal. And of course, FNeamtu,

      “… It was also completely illegal….”

      I have never noticed legality to be a bar to US actions in
      the past.

      The “new level” Hillary Clinton mentioned at AIPAC months
      ago—with no specifics— evidently includes US military attacks
      on Syria, the desire of Zionist leaders for years.

      —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  6. Chris Chuba
    October 14, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    The Foreign Policy establishment in the U.S. wants a new Cold War because they believe we can win it.
    They want to restore U.S. hegemony. I read lots of articles and the command themes are … ‘what we can do about the Russians’.
    1. Unleash shale oil production and the Saudis to drive down oil prices (re-living the late 80’s much?)
    2. Isolate Russia politically and economically (ie. cause ‘regime change in Moscow).
    They are living in a fantasy world where we will triumph like we did in the 90’s. If we did, I have no idea what they would actually do do Russia, break it into even smaller pieces?

    My take on this:
    1. Oil is not going to be in the $20 range again, certainly not for 10yrs.

    2. These NATO triumphalists have forgotten that proxy wars are a two way street. Russia has not supported a proxy force against the U.S. since Vietnam but if push comes to shove, Vietnam shows just how deadly Russia can be.

    3. Russia will NOT back down. They have already shed Eastern Europe and their Republics. They have nowhere left to retreat to. The Russians will stand and fight. The Triumphalists are absolute fools to pick a fight here.

    4. God isn’t on our side. Pride comes before a fall.
    “A troublemaker and a villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth,…who plots evil with deceit in his heart – he always stirs up conflict. Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant; he will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.” Prov 6:12. I don’t think that it is a stretch to say that the Foreign Policy establishment has prevailed on us to do all of these things.

  7. Lois Gagnon
    October 14, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    Thanks for this excellent essay on how close we are to the precipice of catastrophe.

    One part of this that is flying under the radar is the Pentagon’s treasonous insubordination of civilian authority. No one in government including Obama or the establishment press has said a word. Does this not establish a frightening precedent? Are we now under military rule? Events become more surreal by the day.

  8. Bill Bodden
    October 14, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    If a few thousand Afghans with a budget that would be petty cash at the Pentagon can hold the US and NATO at bay for 15 years what are chances of defeating the Russian military and its people who have proved themselves to be as tough as they come?

  9. jo6pac
    October 14, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    Thanks for the great essay and sadly the below is humor but then again so true.

    https://www.sott.net/article/330648-Russians-halt-search-for-intelligent-life-in-Washington-and-Western-Europe

    I have no hope for the right thing to be done, obomber wants his $$$$$$$ and lieberry and will not stand in the way of the Crazies

  10. Ol' Hippy
    October 14, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    The psychopaths in Washington and the Pentagon have totally lost their f**king minds. Provoking Russia is a sure recipe for untold disaster. History is on Russia’s side in any conflict, minor and major, as they seem to always prevail. Even after the cold war they didn’t take very long to get back up and running and would have even faster if they didn’t listen to the liars in Washington. Someone has to slow the yahoos in the US govt down from their delusions of grandeur and dreams of world domination because it won’t happen except in their deranged minds. Please someone help these fools get back to reality, at least a semblance anyway.

    • Bill Bodden
      October 14, 2016 at 4:04 pm

      Unfortunately, the politicians are too busy dialing for dollars and lying to potential voters to pay attention to what is really happening.

  11. Dr. Ip
    October 14, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    OK. You are allowed to be partisan and to love or hate the candidates who appear before you. The clowns in a circus are sometimes fun to watch. But what you are not talking about is the power behind the throne.

    The rapaciousness of the oligopoly in the US is insatiable. Greed really is a drug, more addictive than any pharmaceutical substance could be because it enters into the essence of the being and there doesn’t seem to be a cure, no place where the greed-infested can go to shake off the addiction. The French found a solution in their revolution: cure by guillotine. The Russians took the simple solution: execute the royal family. The Chinese embarked on a long march – which is technically still in progress – and eradicated the imperial Japanese who wanted to impose their rule.

    This is not about religion or Syria or Israel or any other minor players like Saudi Arabia or Qatar. It’s about the oligarchs who, like the kings of the past, want the whole pie for themselves and sacrifice pawns in order to reach their goal. As George Carlin once said: “It’s a big club: and you’re not in it!” And the war is between members of the club. We the people are just collaterally damaged by it all.

    As the corporate master oligarchs tighten their grip on the United States, the police demand: Do Not Resist. Sure, the gun-toting Trumpistas will start plenty of fires once the new female CEO of America Inc. is in office. But that will be seen as normal because most of the law enforcement agencies will be supporting those outbursts – as long as they are against the hated minorities (soon to be majorities). And after the cool guy who short-changed everyone with Hope has gone into his multi-million-dollar retirement, the iron fist inside the velvet glove will smash the Bernie idealists into submission with more debt and more fear and 8 more years of Moneywar (both explosive and financial).

    The Russians are right to carry out civil defense drills. The loonies in Washington really think they can have a limited nuclear war and win!

    I have no solutions. But the fireworks this coming New Year might prove to be tremendous, with the only safe place to watch them from being that space station orbiting the earth.

  12. jaycee
    October 14, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    Unfortunately, the political-military-intellectual leadership of the industrialized western democracies are an overwhelmingly mediocre lot and it will be their foolish judgment that may take us all down. That said, their mediocrity over the past number of years has put them in poor position as far as credibility goes. The WMD lie, the Libya lie, the moderate rebel lie – this has caught up somewhat at this moment. The incessant demonization of Russia has also, likely, gone too far and has become too absurd. The call to arms in support of a “rule-based international order” is made by those who either don’t follow any rule, or who do so selectively. Such hypocrisy finds support only among the corrupt. Meanwhile, short-sighted economic policies have made too many insecure and restless. The establishment may succeed in anointing their candidate this autumn, but unity will be very shallow. A general passivity may allow for some military adventurism, but if that goes poorly then the process of internal decline and loss of authority will accelerate.

  13. Bill Bodden
    October 14, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    The cost of the arms race was considered a factor in the collapse of the Soviet Union. If the Soviet Union’s economy had been able to cope with this waste Reagan’s military build-up (including a 600-ship Navy) would have brought on a collapse in the United States. Are the US and Russia making similar mistakes again?

  14. elmerfudzie
    October 14, 2016 at 7:11 pm

    Russia’s GNP is roughly a quarter of the United States. If one believes in both the combined economic strength(s) and scientific capabilities of the entire Western Occident, Russia’s resources and where-with-all, pales against the West and thus weakens Russia’s (projected) ability to find timely and opportune, counter measures against NATO theater missiles, especially those soon to be armed with Artificial Intelligence (AI). This makes military confrontation a certainty and it is shocking to realize that humanity is allowing a computer chip to decide where a war head should go and NOT a human authority. Adding to this predicament, hyper-sonic missile speeds and border encroachment with troops and armaments of every sort and kind. I almost neglected to say, endangering Russia’s sole political nerve center and brain trust, Moscow. China shares the same strategic vulnerability- Beijing. Thus, drilling evacuations into bunkers below Moscow now, make a lot of sense and add urgency to the equation I’ve just constructed here. Although Russia has nine time zones (it was eleven at one time?) Moscow cannot be moved from it’s close proximity to the NATO alliance, further, it’s older defensive missile batteries (Galosh System circling Moscow) are deemed by experts to be completely useless. This assessment supports a previous opinion, that I can now further justify; the option to use suit-case, mini nukes. These devises have been smuggled and deployed in NATO’s most vulnerable places. Example; near commercial nuclear power plants, top universities, government offices and the like. Russia cannot hope to keep up with the entire weight of the first world’s best (military) efforts and should the mini nuke option fail, then, upon Mother Russia’s destruction, biological warfare will be introduced with a new horror that only, ex-Soviet bio-warfare expert, Sergei Popov, can articulate. Visit Youtube @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpz-f-DgDK4. WARNING! it may cause gloomy, sleepless reactions for nights on end!!!!!!!!!!

    • Cal
      October 17, 2016 at 12:18 pm

      Russia has the largest Thermobaric bomb.
      The US also has thermobaric bombs.

      iOW—-‘Suicide is painless, it brings on many changes.,,, ? ?

      Thermobaric bombs suck all the oxygen out of the air and kill all living things including plant life . Perfect for ‘clearing out’ a country without contaminating it for future use.

  15. October 15, 2016 at 8:05 am

    “If the U.S. intelligence establishment is doing its job professionally, and we must assume that is the case…”

    I would have to ask, “Why must we assume the US intelligence establishment (or the US government et al) is doing its job professionally?” Has that been the case in the past? I seriously doubt that. Do you remember the reasons for the Iraq War? https://waitforthedownfall.wordpress.com/the-purpose-of-the-u-s-state-department/

    And who says that the Obama regime is not supporting terrorists in Syria? Well, the easy answer is: the Obama regime. The only thing that Washington has accomplished in many years has been the destabilization of an entire region: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria.

    Wake up people, the US government is about to send this world on a tail-spin unlike any we have seen before. https://waitforthedownfall.wordpress.com/get-bashar-al-assad/

  16. Mahatma
    October 15, 2016 at 11:57 am

    You know, there is a new website, The Intercept, in fifty hysterical and sanctimonious bloviations there there is not the insight on world affairs contained in just this one article here. Thank you

    • October 17, 2016 at 8:51 am

      TI and CN fails, in my view. There’s great reportage in both, but…

      Robert Parry thinks it’s okay to carry CIA asset Graham Fuller’s articles and The Intercept’s Murtaza Hussain writes a pure pro USAID (and by extension, pro US empire), pro White Helmets (who are Al Qaeda, as other alt media organizations, for example, Off Guardian, have pointed out – http://bit.ly/2dmi8Pf) article and his colleagues, star journos of the progressive movement, are silent. And I caught on radio at work (where my attention was diverted from focussing on the show) Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh, on Democracy Now, selling the White Helmets to us. If I had criticisms (which were few) of DN in the past, they would not have come close to the big FAIL I am giving to that report.

  17. October 15, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    Has Russia given any thought in private channels I wonder of informing Washington in the case of U.S. escalation in Syria that
    the nuclear warning shot to back off would be the complete nuclear annihilation of Tel Aviv or Israel before launching on the U.S.?

    Drastic indeed but a possible step short of MAD and may well give the dual citizenship traitor neocons in Washington pause.

    A Constitutional amendment against dual nationality citizens in the U.S. cabinet is in order I believe.

    As things are progressing now I am far short of hope and before being labeled anti-semitic I was until fairly recently better informed
    pro-Israeli.

    Never again? Let us hope it is so.

    • elmerfudzie
      October 16, 2016 at 9:11 pm

      Wayne, Israel will not be a participant during the next world war. Due to long standing antagonisms with all of it’s contiguous neighbors, Israel will become heavily reliant on the merchant marine to deliver basic necessities. It’s agricultural where-with-all cannot feed the entire country. This vulnerability will not be off set by air lifting supplies, as was the case for West Berlin (cold war Soviet-American stand-off) Even a tiny country like Israel has daily daily requirements that go far beyond my example of one half of one city (Berlin). Any diplomatic efforts to barter with old enemies, (in exchange for what? I don’t know) guarantying uninterrupted, trucked in necessities, would be met with highwaymen, terrorist cells and sovereign government military interventions. During the next world war, the full price of siding with Zionism will finally be unveiled (as many Israeli citizens already suspect or know) During a global crises, any mercantile commerce floating on the surface of the Mediterranean will be sunk by attacks from the air and or sea. No, Tel Aviv won’t be bombed, it will slowly and completely empty out. This doomsday summary is the principle reason why the Likud Party continues ahead for total hegemonic control of weaker States surrounding Israel. The Golan Heights, total destruction of Gaza and theft of scare water from these areas including southern Lebanon, all point to the near suicidal pact it made, with world Zionism, the United States and NATO countries-a very long time ago….

  18. October 15, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    Very good article. I even don’t remember if you saw similar articles in the western media (even alternative) at all. And I understand why the author speaks not on own behalf but on behalf of Russian individuals, i.e. Kiselyov, Yarovaya, Zhirinovsky, etc. I’m Russian and watched the mentioned Kiselyov’s program, and I can tell that the author interpreted from him 100% correctly.

    Well, even telling on behalf of other people the author however perfectly provides very clear Russian messages and finally puts on the table pretty simple and clear questions: “why has the President not said a word about the “radical change in relations” with Russia? And why is it that neither candidate when asked about how to respond to the killings in east Aleppo on Debate Two?”

    P.S. One note about persona Zhirinovsky. Actually, he is a very well educated and deep man. Very experienced politician. But he is also known as perfect and, I’d say officially acknowledged troll who is allowed to troll everything and everyone, especially America. LOL With his extravaganza, he somehow resembles Donald Trump and even Boris Johnson. So, all his public words can’t be accepted 100% directly (100 Russian baes around the world, toilet paper for American war bases, etc.). However, joking and playing troll he often inputs deeper meaning in his words.

    P.P.S. The US election campaign is already almost entirely dedicated to the pussy issue as perfectly noted by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osi_dHIr-34

    • Alexandr
      October 16, 2016 at 3:07 pm

      Hey, namesake! Great explanation for Zhirinovskiy, however (imho) the most of us… I mean, most of the comments about that … I have no good word for that person – Yarovaya – are negative. She is absolutely NOT down-to-earth with her manners and her stupid anti-terroristic law. I remember one of the Soloviev talkshow, where Zyuganov or Zhirinovskiy, or maybe Mironov made some criticism and her defensive reaction as well as reaction of Nikonov and all of that power-seeking bastards. They are holding power with stranglehold. And don’t accept any criticism. As well as Kiselev and his manner of news delivery. Bombastic goose! By the way, I was about to translate the recent series of Solovyiev talkshow, where Satanovskiy tells about situation in Aleppo, about war crimes. I even started to translate it. But not sure, should I do that? I mean, people could watch RT and conceptually he didn’t say anything new, I think.

  19. Zachary Smith
    October 15, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    Something from Google News:

    http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/cia-prepping-possible-cyber-strike-against-russia-n666636

    Yes, the US Administration is announcing a secret/covert cyber attack against the Russians by announcing it on the national TV. Do these morons have a clue about the forces they’re tinkering with?

    A major cyber attack on the U.S. electric grid could cause over a $1 trillion in economic impact and roughly $71.1 billion in insurance claims, said a report released Wednesday.

    The report looks at the financial impact of a scenario in which 15 states and Washington, D.C. suffer a blackout as a result of a cyber attack on the power grid. The scenario is created by the University of Cambridge Centre For Risk Studies, which uses some real life, publicly known cases to create the model. The report is also co-produced by Lloyd’s, the London-based insurance service provider that has been working with the U.K. government about managing cyber security risks.

    hXXp://www.forbes.com/sites/uciliawang/2015/07/08/report-the-trillion-dollar-risk-of-a-cyber-attack-on-u-s-power-grid/#73cab588113a

  20. Abe
    October 16, 2016 at 12:48 am

    “the ultimate, defining issue; the US-Russia Cold War 2.0 that could turn into WWIII. Washington is de facto holding open a nuclear first-strike capacity against Russia, part of the Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine – and Hillary fully supports it. To unmask her as ‘Mother Warmonger’, businessmen supporting Trump have suggested he go – literally – nuclear, issuing a remixed version of the notorious ad that guaranteed the 1964 electoral victory to Lyndon Johnson.

    “That would be something to fully enrage the neocon cabal supporting Hillary, as in the Dr. Strangelove minion Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley, who is openly peddling all-out military ‘victory’ against both Russia and China.

    “Milley’s speech was of course fully authorized. It can be easily deconstructed as an act – like in the last hurrah of the neocons. There are serious characters even inside the Pentagon who see the melting of the MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) mechanism as pure madness.

    “[…] both the US and Russia military seem to be on a razor’s edge. ‘Bomb shelters’ is now a common conversation topic. The CIA plan of waiting for Russia to go bankrupt before the military modernization program is ready in 2017 is rubbish. And to top it off, accidents can – and may – happen. MAD no more: just stark raving madness, as the absolute incapacity of the War Party to read Russia’s red lines keeps increasing the possibility of shadow war slouching into hot war.”

    Is Trump Ready to Go Nuclear?
    By Pepe Escobar
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/10/14/is-trump-ready-to-go-nuclear/

  21. Abe
    October 16, 2016 at 1:02 am

    “The U.S. is poised to put its planes and missiles at the service of al-Qaida, the main jihadist army occupying the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo. Although the Clinton campaign and most of the corporate media speak of a ‘siege of Aleppo’ by Syrian government and Russian forces, all but 250,000 of the city’s more than 1.2 million residents live on the government-controlled side of the city, which has been shelled by jihadists entrenched in the eastern pockets for the past four years. The campaign to liberate eastern Aleppo is primarily a battle against the former al-Nusra Front, the al-Qaida affiliate that recently changed its name and will doubtless do so again, along with various smaller, supporting jihadist outfits, some of which the U.S. insists are ‘moderate.’ Thus, Aleppo is the epicenter of the ‘war on terror’ that the American and global public has been drafted into since 2001 — with the United States acting as defender of the very jihadists that are blamed for the 9/11 attacks.

    “What absolute madness! Once digested, the truth about the U.S. project in Syria would annihilate the legitimacy of the American ruling circles that have brought us this nightmare of depravity and betrayal, most of whom are now gathered in Hillary Clinton’s Big Tent, scheming on ways to kill some Russians.

    “The only forces that are actually battling al-Qaida are the Syrians and their allies, backed for the past year by the full strategic weight of Russia. Before the Russians brought their air force into play, the U.S. had hardly touched the main forces of ISIS, the al-Qaida offshoot, allowing the Islamic State’s tanker convoys to trade oil with Turkey under full view of overwhelming U.S. airpower. Russia’s entrance into the Syrian conflict — which is a totally legal agreement between sovereign nations, whereas the U.S. and its allies are invading aggressors under international law — revealed to the world public Washington’s true role as the superpower protector of international Islamic jihad. Most importantly, Russia’s engagement broke al-Qaida’s siege of Aleppo, which could have led to the collapse of the Syrian government and a jihadist takeover in Damascus. At that point, the U.S. and its European, Turkish and Persian Gulf Arab allies might have halted their financing and arming of al-Qaida and ISIS, and moved to occupy Syria, themselves – if they had a plan, at all. Most likely, Syria would have disintegrated into genocidal chaos, many times worse than Libya, the previous victim of America’s policy to deploy jihadists as foot soldiers of empire.

    “As punishment for saving Syria from being entirely overrun by western-backed jihadists and a bloodbath even greater than the half-million that have already died as a result of U.S. policy, the Russians now face direct attack from the United States. It could come any moment, and is highly likely if Clinton wins what she can claim is a resounding ‘mandate’ in November. The ‘no fly zone’ that Clinton wants to impose over Syria would mean war with Russia from the very second it was implemented since, under U.S. military doctrine, it requires the immediate destruction of all ‘enemy’ air defenses. That was a relatively easy assignment for NATO forces in Libya, in 2011, but Syrian airspace is now guarded by the world’s most sophisticated defense systems, manned by Russian operators, guarded by Russian Marines, and backed by Russia’s strategic nuclear forces. Will Washington risk nuclear war to protect al-Qaida? Isn’t it insane to have to ask such a question?”

    Apocalypse Hillary
    By Glen Ford
    http://blackagendareport.com/apocalypse_hillary

  22. October 17, 2016 at 8:16 am

    “This was widely considered to be of marginal importance, since the U.S. had been unable to implement its part of the bargain for lack of appropriate conversion installations and costs of upwards of $18 billion if it did what was necessary.” The US only. I thought uncle Sam had an endless supply of funds called the US taxpayer?

    Perhaps the Christian fascists connected to power in the US have convinced everyone that the US can attack Russia and not worry about losing the resulting war, since the Christian Bible clearly shows that the US rules the world and will do so until the world ends. Why they would see any positive in that, I don’t know. But maybe the consequences – which there always are – of self-modification (from a human being into a believer in inequality, war and deceit; otherwise known as neoconservatism) includes brain damage.

    • October 17, 2016 at 10:14 am

      That should have been “The US only?”

  23. katesisco
    October 20, 2016 at 9:35 am

    Please do not make a mountain out of a molehill.
    This world situation is merely the failure of the world to balance power.
    The US has used its WWII war machinery to edge up capitalism while everyone else was exhausted. This is merely a temporary situation and will not stand. For peace to prevail, the world must have a balance of power.

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