The video below highlights President Vladimir Putin’s keynote presentation at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, June 2016, including his conversations with members of the media.
Putin reviews the confrontation between Washington and Moscow and highlights the real dangers of nuclear war.
“Today, there is no instrument in international law that prevents the possibility of mutually assured destruction. Putin has been sending out warnings for over 10 years – all of which fell on deaf ears.”
English sub-titles and analysis (below): our thanks to Fort Russ
Nobody has anything to gain from a nuclear stand-off against Russia. The power hungry decision-makers are few in number, but powerful enough to have subverted mainstream media to misrepresent Russia as the main threat to international security.
Back in 2007, Putin informed the Western world that Russia will develop its weaponry to counter US advances. This was said in response to the US missile defense system that was starting to be developed at the time (previously prohibited in international law.)
With the NATO missile defense system on Russia’s doorstep – the threat to international security is very real; not that you would know it via mainstream Murdoch media.
In 2002, the United States unilaterally and without consultation, withdrew from the landmark Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. President George W. Bush noted that the treaty is “now behind us,” describing the ABM Treaty as a Cold War relic.
Signed in 1972, the ABM Treaty barred both the US and the USSR from deploying national defenses against long-range ballistic missiles. The treaty was based on the premise that if either superpower constructed a strategic defense, the other would build up its offensive nuclear forces to offset the defense.
The superpowers would therefore quickly be put on a path toward a never-ending offensive-defensive arms race, as each tried to balance its counterpart’s actions. Until Bush took office, the Treaty was referred to as a “cornerstone of strategic stability” because it facilitated later agreements, reducing U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals.
The US, assuming that a weakened Russia will never again be in a position to counter US hegemonic power, proceeded to encroach on Russia’s borders through its manipulation of NATO objectives.
Today, there is no instrument in international law that prevents the possibility of mutually assured destruction. Putin has been sending out warnings for over 10 years – all of which fell on deaf ears.
The Headlines on Britain’s tabloids point to US-NATO war preparations in response to alleged Russian aggression. It is largely a display of war propaganda including an array of images and maps to intimidate Western public opinion.
The Russians are Coming…:
“Nato squares up to Putin: As Russia beefs up its military might on Europe’s border, West responds with biggest show of force since the Cold War” according to the Daily Mail.
The reports are replete with insinuations of Russia’s resolve to initiate World War III and destroy the West. In response to Russia’s alleged bellicosity, Britain is slated to deploy more troops and tanks to Estonia, RAF planes are dispatched to Romania.
It’s a “show of force” allegedly to prevent Moscow from attacking Eastern Europe and the Baltic States: ”The moves are designed to stop Moscow taking over or undermining its former Eastern European satellites as it has with Crimea and Ukraine.” (Daily Mail, October 26, 2016)
The US-NATO deployments are nothing new. They are routine and have been ongoing in the course of the last few years, to which Russia has responded. The largest deployments were under Operation Anaconda launched in June 2016, which historians have compared with Operation Barbarossa launched by the Third Reich against the Soviet Union in 1941.
Source: Daily Mail, October 26,2016
Russian War Ships to the Eastern Mediterranean
NATO’s “show of force” is largely in response to Moscow’s decision to dispatch warships to Russia’sTartus naval base on Syria’s Eastern Mediterranean coastline. The propaganda ploy led by Britain’s tabloids points to “Russian aggression in Syria” following the dispatch of the Kuznetsov Aircraft carrier from the Baltic sea to Syria. “President Putin sent a fleet of eight Russian warships through the English Channel to assist the assault on the besieged Syrian city.” says the Daily Mail.
What the report fails to mention is that parts of Aleppo are in the hands of Al Qaeda terrorists who are supported and financed by US-NATO and its Middle East allies.
Russia’s naval deployment is largely motivated by Washington’s stated intent to establish a “No Fly Zone” over Syria which could lead to direct military confrontation between US-NATO and Syria-Russia.
Realities are turned upside down. While Europe is portrayed as defending itself against an imminent Russia attack, what is really at stake is the movement of Russian war ships from the Baltic sea to the Mediterranean in support of Syria’s counter-terrorism campaign to liberate Aleppo.
According to the report, Spain had initially agreed to refuel two Russian warships at its port of Ceuta en route to the Eastern Mediterranean. That permission was repealed following pressures “from its NATO allies”. ”Spain withdrew permission for the ships to refuel because Moscow was unable to pledge the vessels would not be used to bomb Syria.” According to Britain’s Secretary of State for Defense Sir Michael Fallon:
“‘Our concern is that any NATO member [Spain] should consider assisting a Russian carrier group that is heading for Syria and might end up bombing Syrian civilians. … That clearly wouldn’t be right and runs counter to the solidarity of Nato. (Daily Mail, October 26, 2016).
Lest we forget, the Al Qaeda terrorists responsible for countless atrocities in Syria (and who presently occupy parts of the city of Aleppo) were from the very outset (March 2011) supported, trained and equipped by NATO, according to Israeli intelligence sources (Debka, August 14, 2011):
NATO headquarters in Brussels and the Turkish high command are meanwhile drawing up plans for their first military step in Syria, which is to arm the rebels with weapons for combating the tanks and helicopters spearheading the Assad regime’s crackdown on dissent. … NATO strategists are thinking more in terms of pouring large quantities of anti-tank and anti-air rockets, mortars and heavy machine guns into the protest centers for beating back the government armored forces. (DEBKAfile, NATO to give rebels anti-tank weapons, August 14, 2011)
This initiative, which was also supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, involved a process of organized recruitment of thousands of jihadist “freedom fighters”, reminiscent of the enlistment of Mujahideen to wage the CIA’s jihad (holy war) in the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war:
Also discussed in Brussels and Ankara, our sources report [August 2011], is a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish army would house these volunteers, train them and secure their passage into Syria. (Ibid, emphasis added)
The media has failed to address the confrontation between the U.S. State Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Francis Dunford (image right) has warned both the US Senate as well Secretary of State John Kerry in no uncertain terms that a “No Fly Zone” over Syria would lead to war with both Syria and Russia, intimating a dangerous process of military escalation.
In a Senate Arms Services Committee hearing, Dunford said, responding to questions from Republican Senator Roger Whicker (Mississippi)
“Right now, Senator, for us to control all of the airspace in Syria it would require us to go to war, against Syria and Russia,… That’s a pretty fundamental decision that certainly I’m not going to make.” (Senate Armed Services Committee,September 22, 2016, emphasis added)
At the third presidential debate, Hillary Clinton reasserted her commitment that if elected president, she would implement a no-fly-zone, intimating that the objective was to “save lives”:
“I think a no-fly zone could save lives and could hasten the end of the conflict. I am well aware of the really legitimate concerns you have expressed from both the president and the general,” Clinton said in response to a question from Fox News debate moderator Chris Wallace.
“This would not be done just on the first day. This would take a lot of negotiation and would also take making it clear to the Russians and Syrians that our purpose here was to provide safe zones on the ground … I think we could strike a deal and make it clear to the Russians and the Syrians that this was something that we believe was in the best interest of the people on the ground in Syria.” (Fox News, emphasis added)
At present, under the Obama administration, the joint chiefs of staff are opposed to the “No Fly zone”.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff are appointed by the Secretary of Defense.
Under a Clinton presidency, a new Secretary of Defense as well as a new Chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, firmly committed to “A No fly Zone” over Syria would be appointed.
Michèle Angelique Flournoy, a former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy is Hillary’s choice for the position of Secretary of Defense, who favors the “No Fly Zone” option.
According to Defense One: ”The woman expected to run the Pentagon under Hillary Clinton said she would direct U.S. troops to push President Bashar al-Assad’s forces out of southern Syria and would send more American boots to fight the Islamic State in the region.”
Confirmed by the Leaked Emails Michele Flournoy is a crony of the Clintons. She has “called for “limited military coercion” to help remove Assad from power in Syria, including a “no bombing” zone over parts of Syria held by U.S.-backed rebels.” This is tantamount to a no fly zone to protect the terrorists including ISIS Daesh from actions by Syrian and Russian forces.
Flournoy, and several of her colleagues at the Center for New American Security, or CNAS, have been making the case for sending more American troops into combat against ISIS and the Assad regime than the Obama administration has been willing to commit.
Since Russia’s increased involvement, the facts on the ground in Syria, she said, “Do not support the kind of negotiated conditions we would like to get to.” U.S. policy should be the removal of Assad even if that meant “using limited military coercion,” Flournoy said, at Monday’s annual CNAS conference in Washington.
Flournoy did not deny the entire report that she favors increased U.S. intervention; for instance, she acknowledged her support for U.S. “strikes using standoff weapons — to retaliate against Syrian military targets” to enforce the no-bomb zone.
Senator Wicker: Well, let me just ask this, if you don’t mind, Secretary Carter. It would help if the barrel bombing ended. And I spoke to a Democratic colleague of mine today. I’ve been calling for a no-fly zone to stop the barrel bombing, and I asked this colleague of mine on the other side of the aisle if he would support that. And he said, “Yes.” He said, “I want to call it something else, rather than a no-fly zone,” but that this particular Senator it is a fact that this particular Senator has now changed his position and would like us to take action to present — to prevent the barrel bombing.
What is your position about that? And wouldn’t it help if we took decisive action and ended this carnage?
Secretary Carter: I don’t know the specific proposal which you’re discussing with your colleague. I’ll make one comment and see if the Chairman wants to add anything.
Senator Wicker: I think he was talking about a no-fly zone –
Secretary Carter: Well, okay.
Senator Wicker: — but described in more palatable terms.
Secretary Carter: There are — a number of different proposals have been made, but I — the one that I think it the focus on right now is the one Secretary Kerry’s trying to promote, namely a no-fly zone for the Russians and the Syrians who are attacking the Syrian people. If they’re talking about a no-fly zone for American aircraft fighting ISIL, needless to say, that — that’s not going to get any enthusiasm, get strong opposition from me.
Senator Wicker: I’m speaking about a –
Secretary Carter: But, I think that’s what a — but — it’s not called that, but Secretary Kerry is trying to get a standdown of the Syrian and Russian air force. And if he’s successful, that would be a good thing.
Let me ask the Chairman if he has anything to add.
General Dunford: Senator, the only thing I’d say is, you know, as the situation on the ground changes, I think I have a responsibility — we, the joint force, has a responsibility — to make surethe President has a full range of options. We have discussed that issue in the past under certain conditions. The conditions on the ground will change, and we’ll continue to look at those options and make sure they’re available to the President.
Senator Wicker: What about the option of controlling the airspace so that barrel bombs cannot be dropped?
General Dunford: All options –
Senator Wicker: What do you think of that option, sir?
General Dunford: Right now, Senator, for all of the airspace in Syria, it would require war against Syria and Russia. That’s a pretty fundamental decision that certainly I’m not going to make.
From the above testimonies and statements, one thing is clear. Decision-makers at highest levels of the US government and the military believe in their own propaganda. They are not able to reflect on their actions outside the realm of propaganda. And this also applies to nuclear warfare which is presented as a “peace-making operation”.
It is unlikely that any drastic action regarding a “no fly zone” will be taken under the Obama administration prior to the November elections and the instatement of a new president of the US in January 2017.
Consequently, the next three months will be absolutely crucial for Syria. –i.e. During this period, the counterterrorism campaign waged by Syria with the support of Russia and Iran will seek to eliminate remaining terrorist pockets and pacify the entire country.
Playing “a dangerous game,” NATO pushes allies to send more troops and military equipment to Eastern Europe
NATO is pushing all allies to deploy more troops and military equipment to Russia’s borders, further ratcheting up tensions as the West prepares for “its biggest military build-up on Russia’s borders since the Cold War,” asReuters observed.
“France, Denmark, Italy and other allies are expected to join the four battle groups led by the United States, Germany, Britain, and Canada to go to Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia, with forces ranging from armored infantry to drones,” Reuters reported.
“With the U.S. openly talking [about] a war with Russia, the continued deployments seem far from a purely defensive measure.” —Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com“The battle groups will be backed by NATO’s 40,000-strong rapid-reaction force,” noted Deutsche Welle, “and if need be, further follow-on forces, for any potential conflict, which could move into Baltic states and Poland on rotation.”
Prior to Wednesday’s North Atlantic Council meeting, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told Reuters that the military commitments would be “a clear demonstration of our transatlantic bond.”
The U.K. was the first to release the specifics of its plan: the nation will deploy 800 troops alongside tanks and drones, according to the Wall Street Journal. “That battalion will be defensive in nature, but it will be fully combat-capable,” British defense secretary Michael Fallon told the newspaper.
Diplomats also suggested it was only partly about sending a message to Russia, and that the real point of the latest push is to get a bunch of nations involved as a “message” to U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has complained the U.S. is spending too much defending Europe and that Europe isn’t doing enough on its own.
That underscores the cynical nature of the deployments, and indeed the sort of thing adding to the sense of NATO being obsolete, that they feel they can afford to organize major deployments just for the sake of scoring political points in member nations’ elections.
As she marches toward the US presidency, Hillary Clinton has stepped up her promotion of the idea that a no-fly zone in Syria could “save lives” and “hasten the end of the conflict” that has devastated that country since 2011.
It has now been revealed, of course, that Clinton hasn’t always expressed the same optimism about the no-fly zone in private. The Intercept(10/10/16) reported on Clinton’s recently leaked remarks in a closed-door speech to Goldman Sachs in 2013:
To have a no-fly zone you have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk—you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians.
Other relevant characters, such as US Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Joseph Dunford (Daily Caller, 9/26/16), have warned that a no-fly zone in Syria would simply intensify the conflict—which presumably isn’t the best way to hasten its end.
Luckily for those who prefer to rally around illogic, however, plenty of media have already rolled out the welcome mat for peddlers of the “humanitarian” vision of increased Western military interference in Syria.
The New York Times‘ Nicholas Kristof (10/6/16) argues against “Obama’s paralysis” and for “more robust strategies advocated by Hillary Clinton.”
The New York Times’ self-appointed savior of women, Nicholas Kristof (10/6/16), invoked the plight of a young Syrian girl in Aleppo to conclude that Obama’s alleged “paralysis” on Syria “has been linked to the loss of perhaps half a million lives” in the country, as well as to “the rise of extremist groups like the Islamic State,” among other unpleasant outcomes. We have no “excuse,” we’re told, for “failing to respond to mass atrocities.”
Never mind that the rise of ISIS has much to do with that mass atrocity known as the US invasion of Iraq, thanks to which many young Iraqi girls and other human beings have suffered rape, mutilation and death. It’s convenient for certain industries, at least, when US weapons are deemed the solution for problems US weapons helped to create in the first place.
Furthermore, plenty of US weapons continue to flow to countries known for arming and funding ISIS and similar outfits—an arrangement unlikely to be rectified by a no-fly zone targeting the Syrian government and the Russians.
USA Today (10/8/16), meanwhile, ran an opinion piece by an American doctor who worked briefly at a now-destroyed hospital in Aleppo, arguing that the US “should lead the way in establishing real no-fly zones, either under United Nations auspices or with the British and the French”—because “otherwise, our inaction will continue to be an embarrassment and stand as an example of our spineless irresponsibility.”
But considering that there has already been plenty of US action in Syria—including the mistaken“pulverization” of whole families with children—it would seem we’ve already exhibited a fair amount of lethal irresponsibility.
Beyond the opinion pages, media figures are pushing the “humanitarian” approach with varying degrees of subtlety. Meet the Press host Chuck Todd (10/16/16) recently pressed Vice President Joe Biden on the lack of a no-fly zone over Aleppo, suggesting that the Obama administration will “look back and wonder what if? What if? What if? What if?”
Of course, no campaign for saving lives with bombs would be complete without everyone’s favorite examples of feel-good destruction from the former Yugoslavia. The Washington Post (9/9/16) hosted an opinion by Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first ambassador to the UN, Muhamed Sacirbey, straightforwardly headlined: “Western Military Intervention Saved Lives in Bosnia. It Can Work in Syria, Too.”
Sacirbey warns that “Syria’s largest city is on the brink of starvation. Bombed from the skies and besieged on the ground, Aleppo’s 2 million residents may soon be exterminated.” Gone, apparently, are the days of factchecking, when someone at the Post might have alerted the author to the reality that the vast majorityof Aleppo’s residents live in government-controlled areas and are thus not under attack by said government.
Comparing Aleppo to besieged Sarajevo, Sacirbey determines that Sarajevans ultimately “escaped many of the horrors now awaiting Aleppo’s residents… because NATO opted (albeit belatedly and, too often, inadequately) to uphold its responsibility to protect Bosnian civilians.”
After lauding Bosnia’s no-fly zone, Sacirbey pulls this prediction out of a hat: “Limited military intervention in Syria would save civilian lives, perhaps as many as 200 a week.”
In their indispensable essay for Monthly Review (10/07), “The Dismantling of Yugoslavia: A Study inInhumanitarian Intervention (and a Western Liberal-Left Intellectual and Moral Collapse),” Edward S. Herman and David Peterson make it unavoidably clear that the West’s business in Bosnia had nothing to do with saving lives—and much to do with the contrary.
The Bill Clinton administration, they note, actively sabotaged agreements to end the war at an earlier date, while “helping arm the Bosnian Muslims and Croatians and helping bring thousands of Mujahedin to fight in Bosnia.” America’s support in this case for jihadists—a secret alliance also discussed by scholar Tariq Ali (Guardian, 9/9/06)—further complicates the assumption that the US is somehow capable of fixing the current jihad problem.
In predictable fashion, US media led the charge to the Bosnian intervention (Extra!, 10-11/92), dutifully painting the Serbs as demonic aggressors, parroting inflated Bosnian casualty estimates and otherwise behaving as the official PR arm of the establishment.
A similar performance was repeated shortly thereafter with Kosovo, where minimal regard was given to actual facts on the ground and the specter of Serbian-waged genocide was instead hysterically invoked. Noam Chomsky (Monthly Review, 9/08) cited various reports, including from the British government, that the US-backed Kosovo Liberation Army was actually responsible for more killings than the Serbs in the run-up to NATO’s bombing campaign—a project that naturally also managed to kill several thousand people.
While Yugoslavia has now been fully dismantled, the myth of Western humanitarian intervention there has emerged unscathed; in his recent dispatch on Syria, Kristof brought up Kosovo as an example of how “the military toolbox has saved lives.”
To be sure, “saving lives” is a much nobler goal than, say, endowing NATO with a new lease on life or clearing the way for total neoliberal assault—two outcomes of the West’s Yugoslav ventures. Hence the utility, as Herman and Peterson write, of the “edifice of lies that serves and protects the Western interventions in the former Yugoslavia—and which laid the ideological foundations for the US role in Iraq and for future so-called humanitarian interventions.”
In Syria’s brutal war, meanwhile, humanitarian motives will presumably be utilized as a veneer for pursuing more fundamental goals, like neutralizing resistance to US/Israeli regional designs and promoting that profitable sort of chaos that produces massive arms sales.
And just as those in the West who failed to leap onto the bandwagon in Yugoslavia were denounced as “apologists for genocide” and the like, opponents of increased Western military action in Syria will be increasingly assailed as pro-Assad fanatics with Syrian blood on their hands.
One strong candidate for fanatic-hood is Greg Shupak, who in a recent Jacobin magazine dispatch (10/20/16) dared to argue that a no-fly zone “would actually represent an escalation of war that is guaranteed to harm civilians in the name of protecting them.” Emphasizing that opposition to said zone is not meant in any way “to minimize or rationalize the torture, mass killings or severe sieges enacted by the Syrian state and its allies,” Shupak continues: “The imminent question, however, is not, ‘Is the Syrian government good?’; it’s ‘Should America drop more bombs on Syria?’”
Because, at the end of the day, humanitarian war just isn’t humanly possible.