During an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes, due to be aired in the US on Sunday, President Barack Obama provided a brief overview of his rivalry with Russian President Vladimir Putin – totally butchering recent Ukrainian history in the process.
“A year ago when we did this interview, there was some saber-rattling between the United States and Russia on the Ukrainian border,” journalist Steve Kroft said to President Obama during a preview for the upcoming CBS segment.
“You said a year ago that the United States – America leads. We’re the indispensable nation. Mr. Putin seems to be challenging that leadership.”
It’s a statement which causes visual discomfort in the president, who immediately struggles to put Kroft’s claims into perspective.
And in the process of doing so, Obama appears to have forgotten what happened in Ukraine during his administration.
“When I came into office – Ukraine was governed by a corrupt ruler who was a stooge of Mr. Putin,” Obama says.
President Obama was inaugurated in January of 2009. While he does not mention the Ukrainian leader at that time by name, Viktor Yushchenko was in power.
What Obama appears to have forgotten is that Yushchenko is a strong ally of Washington’s, and he came to power through the US-backed Orange Revolution. Yushchenko’s wife, who was born and raised in Chicago and held US citizenship until 2005, formerly served as a US State Department official, and has been accused of leading US efforts to help her husband seize power.
In other words, Yushchenko is just about as far from a “stooge of Mr. Putin” as anyone could possibly be.
Perhaps Obama was referring to Victor Yanukovych, who was legitimately elected in 2010, only to be overthrown during the EuroMaidan uprising, which was also backed by Western efforts.
Kroft, however, stepped in, helping the president to face facts.
“[Putin is] challenging your leadership, Mr. President,” he said. “He’s challenging your leadership.”
The preview leaves one wondering whether a president who meddles so brazenly in the internal affairs of other countries without getting the facts straight shouldn’t first have his leadership questioned from time to time.
Washington’s impulsive use of power is a danger to the world. Arrogant Washington politicians and crazed neocons scream that the US must shoot down Russian aircraft operating against the US-backed forces that have brought death and destruction, unleashing millions of refugees on Europe, in the US’ effort to overthrow the Syrian government.
Even my former CSIS colleague, Zbigniew Brzezinski, normally a sensible if sometimes misguided person, has written in the Financial Times that Washington should deliver an ultimatum to Russia to “cease and desist from military actions that directly affect American assets.” By “American assets,” Brzezinski means the jihadist forces that Washington has sicced on Syria.
Brzezinski’s claim that “Russia must work with, not against, the US in Syria” is false. The fact of the matter is that “the US must work with, not against Russia in Syria,” as Russia controls the situation, is in accordance with international law, and is doing the right thing.
Ash Carter, the US Secretary for War, repeats Brzezinski’s demand. He declared that Washington is not prepared to cooperate with Russia’s “tragically flawed” and “mistaken strategy” that frustrates Washington’s illegal attempt to overthrow the Syrian government with military violence.
Washington’s position is that only Washington decides and that Washington intends to unleash yet more chaos on the world in the hope that it reaches Russia.
I guess no one in hubristic and arrogant Washington was listening when Putin said in his UN speech on September 28: “We can no longer tolerate the state of affairs in the world.”
The intolerable state of affairs is the chaos that Washington has brought to the Middle East, chaos that threatens to expand into all countries with Muslim populations, and chaos from which millions of refugees are flooding into Europe.
Not satisfied with threatening Russia with war, Washington is preparing to send US Navy ships inside the 12-nautical-mile territorial limit of islands created by China’s land reclamation project. The Navy Times reports that three Pentagon officials have said on background that “approval of the mission is imminent.”
So here we have the US government gratuitously and provocatively threatening two nuclear powers. The Washington warmongers try to pretend that land reclamation is “an act of regional aggression” and that Washington is just upholding international law by protecting “freedom of navigation.”
By “freedom of navigation,” Washington means Washington’s ability to control all sea lanes. After all of Washington’s violations of international law and war crimes during the last 14 years, Washington’s claim to be protecting international law is hilarious.
Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a former director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s intelligence organization, said that Washington needs to understand that “Russia also has foreign policy; Russia also has a national security strategy” and stop crossing Russia’s “red lines.”
Russia’s anti-terrorist campaign in Syria is nipping American grand strategy right in the bud.
From the 1980s onwards, Polish-American geostrategist and former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski’s ideas were at the forefront of the US’ foreign policy application all across the world. Be it through the admitted creation and arming of the Mujahedeen (which later grew into Al Qaeda and the Taliban) or the obsession to divide Ukraine from Russia (later culminating in EuroMaidan), Brzezinski’s ideas have become a destabilizing reality that have stretched across continents and decades.
The most enduring legacy that he ever created, however, is the destructive theory of the “Eurasian Balkans” that he devised in his 1997 book, “The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives”. He postulated that it’s the broad arc of land from North Africa to Central Asia whose ripeness for divisive ethnic and sectarian strife is exactly what the US needs to exploit in order to indefinitely maintain its unipolar grip on global power.The cradle of this concept has always been the Mideast, but with Russia working to resolve the chaos that the US created there and attempting to return the region to stability, it appears as though Moscow has finally begun to reverse Washington’s grand strategy. Let’s take a look at exactly what the “Eurasian Balkans” were intended to become, how the plans for weaponizing chaos were supposed to work, and the way that Russia rode to the rescue in stopping this madness.
Building the “Eurasian Balkans”
Brzezinski ‘s idea for the “Eurasian Balkans” didn’t just come out of the blue. As a staunchly nationalistic Pole, he was well aware of his homeland’s interwar leader Marshall Jozef Pilsudski and the destructively innovative foreign policy of “Prometheism” that accompanied his administration.
This idea stipulated that the multiethnic and polyconfessional Soviet Union could be dismembered by giving weapons, training, and political support to peripheral identity revolutionaries in the Soviet Union for use in a grand forthcoming ‘liberation war’ against the central government in Moscow. The metaphorical connotation here was that this would be akin to how Prometheus gifted fire to man to help them become independent from Zeus, the strongest and most feared of the Greek gods.
The policy failed and ultimately amounted to nothing, but that didn’t stop Brzezinski from fantasizing about its comeback a couple decades later. The influence of Pilsudski’s identity obsession can be seen on Brzezinski’s late-1970s description of an “Arc of Crisis” which “stretches along the shores of the Indian Ocean, with fragile social and political structures in a region of vital importance to us threatened with fragmentation. The resulting political chaos could well be filled by elements hostile to our values and sympathetic to our adversaries.”The mentioning of “fragile social structures” is a euphemism for identity conflict, which Brzezinski was unjustifiably paranoid that the Soviet Union would try to exploit. A couple years later, Brzezinski himself ironically took the lead in exploiting this very concept to its most radical extreme, convincing President Jimmy Carter to arm the founding fathers of Al Qaeda in their American-directed international jihad against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Brzezinski’s strategic thinking was that the militant momentum gained in the country could be carried over to Central Asia through the external orchestration of similar Islamist uprisings, which would then lead to a subsequent Soviet retreat all the way back to the Moscow and the independence of every republic that it left in its wake.
Inspired by what he felt was his concept’s success in contributing to the Soviet Union’s 1991 collapse, Brzezinski decided to expand upon its fratricidal nature by applying it towards other zones of potential identity conflict, namely the Mideast and North Africa. Seeing the ethnically and confessionally diverse Balkan region and its history of internecine wars as a thematic precedent (the latest of which were ongoing during the early 1990s and thus fresh in his mind), he named his finalized strategy the “Eurasian Balkans”.To summarize the ideas about this that he laid out in “The Grand Chessboard”, Brzezinski believed that the instigation of chaotic conflicts in the North African-to-Central Asian space could preempt the consolidation of a grand Eurasian alliance between Russia, China, and Iran which would challenge contemporaneous American primacy and smash the Wolfowitz Doctrine of ‘sole superpower status’ to pieces.
The US would be left unscathed by this forthcoming black hole of chaos because its main Eurasian perches are in Europe and East Asia, and if worst came to worst and the supercontinent got caught in a massive conflagration, then the two ocean buffers that separate it from the pan-continental conflict zone would cushion any significant blowback it could realistically receive.
The US needed a spark to set off the flames of fratricide that it hoped would eventually engulf Russia, China, and Iran, and it created the ‘geopolitical flint’ to do so by the 2003 War on Iraq. By forcefully plopping itself smack dab in the geographic middle of the chaotic arc that it aimed to create, the US was in the best position possible for exerting destabilizing influence along each of its two broad ends. It didn’t waste a second in doing so either, since investigative journalist Seymour Hersh’s groundbreaking 2007 expose for The New Yorker, “The Redirection”, detailed all the means in which it sought to do this. Be it through fostering sectarian hatred or overthrowing the Syrian government, Washington had a big bag of tricks at its disposal that time would eventually prove it was planning to deploy. The trigger for setting off the Mideast’s “Blood Borders” breakup, and as was tangentially planned, that of North Africa and Central Asia, was the “Arab Spring” theater-wide Color Revolutions, but the Syrian population’s staunch defense of their sovereignty stopped the US’ plans dead in their tracks and placed them on indefinite standby.
Russia to the Rescue
Enter Russia, which has now committed itself not only to defeating terrorism in the Mideast, but as a logical and extended result, reversing the destabilization that the US has spawned and consequently restoring order along the Syrian-Iraqi apex of the “Arc of Chaos”.
To flip Brzezinki’s “Eurasian Balkans” theory on its head, if the Middle Eastern countries that he had so precisely targeted for domestic tumult prove themselves capable of remaining united and strong in the face of American-directed adversity, then this would have an exemplary effect in stabilizing the North African and Central Asian ends of the arc, thus crippling the US’ decades-long designs of creating Afro-Eurasian chaos.
The geopolitical facets of the US’ grand strategy start and end in Syria, which is why Brzezinski finally lost his characteristic cool and just threw an epic temper tantrum directed against Russia. Writing in an op-ed piece for the Financial Times, he suggested that “The Russian naval and air presences in Syria are vulnerable, isolated geographically from their homeland. They could be “disarmed” if they persist in provoking the US.” The devil himself couldn’t have devised a more tempting way to destroy all of humanity than that, but just in case American policy makers got any crazy ideas from their favorite strategist, Russia’s awe-inspiring cruise missile strike from the Caspian Sea swiftly discredited them and proved that Brzezinski’s intimations of a ‘vulnerable, geographically isolated’ Russian force in Syria were totally brainless. For once in his lifetime, the American establishment doesn’t seem eager to follow Brzezinski’s advice, and that might mean that for once in our lifetimes, the US might be exercising a relative semblance of sound judgement.
Washington’s failure to share data with Russian intelligence about terrorist positions in Syria makes one question the goals that Americans have in their anti-ISIS campaign in Syria and Iraq, a senior Russian diplomat has said.
The refusal to share intelligence on terrorists “just confirms once more what we knew from the very start, that the US goals in Syria have little to do with creating the conditions for a political process and national reconciliation,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said Thursday.
“I would risk saying that by doing this the US and the countries that joined the US-led coalition are putting themselves in a politically dubious position. The question is: which side are you fighting for in this war?”
Earlier, the Russian military said they would welcome American intelligence on the forces of terrorist group Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL) to help with Russia’s bombing operation in Syria. But the US State Department said it would not be possible because Russia and the US do not share the same goals in Syria.
A CNN report, claiming that several Russian cruise missiles targeting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) positions in Syria actually landed in Iran, has been refuted by the Russian Defense Ministry, while the US State Department say they can’t confirm.
The American broadcaster cited two unnamed US officials, who said that four Russian missiles had crashed somewhere in Iran after being launched from vessels in the Caspian Sea. The report suggested that “some buildings were damaged and civilians may have been hurt.”
This triggered a quick reaction from the Russian Defense Ministry, with spokesman Igor Konashenkov saying that all the missiles had hit their targets on Wednesday. “Unlike CNN, we don’t distribute information citing anonymous sources, but show the very missile launches and the way they hit their targets almost in real time,” Konashenkov said. The spokesman pointed out that the strike targets are being photographed before and after being hit, while Russian drones are monitoring the situation from Syrian skies 24/7.
The high precision strikes might have been “unpleasant and surprising for our colleagues in the Pentagon,” but the fact is that “the missiles launched from the ships hit their targets,” he said. “Otherwise one would have to acknowledge that IS facilities – located at a considerable distance from each other – exploded all by themselves,” Konashenkov said.
US State Department spokesman John Kirby said that he couldn’t confirm CNN’s report, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, a source in Iran’s Defense Ministry told RIA Novosti that Tehran has “no information of Russian missiles crashing on Iranian territory.”
On Wednesday, four Russian naval warships in the Caspian Sea fired a total of 26 missiles at positions of Islamic State in Syria, hitting all the targets, according to Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu.
Moscow slams Carter’s warning about cost of Syria strikes
Konashenkov also lashed out at a fresh statement from Pentagon head Ashton Carter, who predicted Russian losses in its Syrian operation.
“In their assessments of the US military’s actions in various operations conducted by them all over the world, the Russian Defense Ministry has never stooped to publicly speaking of expectations of the deaths of American soldiers” Konashenkov stressed.
According to the spokesman, Carters’ words demonstrate the degree of cynicism among “some of the representatives” of the current US government.
Moscow’s air operation in Syria “will have consequences primarily for Russia itself,” Carter said at a press conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
“I expect that in the next few days the Russians will begin to lose in Syria,” the US Defense Secretary added, also mentioning the possibility of retaliatory attacks by extremists in Russia.
Russia launched its anti-terror air campaign in Syria at the request of the Syrian government on September 30.The Russian military has destroyed over a hundred terrorist targets, including command posts, ammunition depots, training camps and armored vehicles, since the start of the operation.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — More e-mails from Hillary Clinton related to the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya are being belatedly released, House of Representatives Select Committee on Benghazi announced in a press release.“These messages should have been made public when the State Department released Secretary Clinton’s other self-selected records on Libya and Benghazi,” Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy said in the release issued on Thursday.
Gowdy said that the State Department had withheld the e-mails from the Committee’s investigation for nearly a year.
“[T]here was a clear decision at the time to withhold this information from the American people and the Committee,” he noted.
The e-mails revealed longtime Clinton loyalist Sidney Blumenthal had received her help to pursue business interests in Libya, the press release said.
On September 11, 2012, Islamic militants stormed the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi and killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other government employees, also injuring ten people.
Even though Blumenthal had no experience in Libya or had traveled there, he was Clinton’s “most prolific e-mailer on Libya and Benghazi,” the release said.
The previously undisclosed e-mails documented Blumenthal promoting US military engagement in Libya as well as the security services of a company called Osprey Global Solutions, according to the release.
The company was headed by one of Blumenthal’s associates that he said he hoped would help train Libyan rebels.
“It is curious Secretary Clinton took so much of her advice from someone who had never been to Libya, professed no independent knowledge of the country and who the White House blocked her from hiring,” Gowdy said in the release. “Any one of those should have been a red flag, but instead, she continued to solicit Blumenthal for advice.”
Following the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks, the congressional select committee was formed to investigate the people, events and circumstances that led to it.
In a recent article for Foreign Policy, journalist Paul McLeary warned of the threat of the Russian army invading northeastern Poland to connect with the exclave of Kaliningrad, thus cutting the Baltic states off from NATO. The only question the journalist forgets to answer is what would drive Russia to make this maneuver to ignite WWIII.
The article, entitled ‘Meet the New Fulda Gap?’, asks whether a narrow strip of land connecting Poland with Lithuania could become a ‘Suwalki Gap’ (named after a local town in the area between Kaliningrad and northwestern Belarus, Russia’s ostensible ally against NATO).
Apparently, this “small vulnerable land bridge” corridor separating Kaliningrad from Belarus is now being monitored closely by United States Army Europe (USAREUR) Commander LtGen Ben Hodges, to the point where it is becoming, in McLeary’s words, “the latest potential flashpoint between an increasingly aggressive Moscow and NATO.”
“If the Russians did a snap exercise [near the gap] you could see, potentially, they could close that off,” Hodges said, cited by McLeary.
The journalist notes that the area is being “increasingly squeezed by Russian hardware,” from “thousands of Russian troops and advanced weapons” from the west in Kaliningrad, and from the east via a large Russian airbase in Belarus (which, it now appears, may not even be built).Pointing ambiguously to “an increasingly assertive Russia making land grabs in Ukraine [where?] and on the Black Sea [what?]” and to “menacing overflights of the Baltic Sea,” the journalist emphasizes that “for Western military planners, ensuring access to the three Baltic states inside NATO is fundamental to any forward response to Russian aggression.”
Subsequently, the journalist warns that “if Russia managed to storm the Suwalki Gap, it would sever the only land link between Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and the West.” Once that happened NATO, according to McLeary, would have a very hard time reaching the Baltics by air or by sea, given that Russia has “taken great pains to dominate” both approaches through “advanced anti-aircraft batteries,” along with a 50-ship Russian Baltic Fleet and several brigades of infantry in Kaliningrad.
“It’s a very, very well-protected, heavily armed location that could deny access in the Baltic Sea, should they choose to do so,” Hodges noted.
So far so good, except neither the US Army commander nor McLeary bother to address the 800-pound elephant in the room about why in the world Russia would make a decision to launch an invasion of Poland, a member of NATO, presumably followed by attacks on three more NATO members, which would most certainly lead to an all out war.
Maybe the answer lies behind the kinds of terms used in the article, McLeary seeming to have a tongue-slip moment when he emphasizes that a move on Suwalki would challenge NATO’s ability to carry out a “forward response,” presumably meaning a NATO military response near or along the Russian border. More than anything, this indicates that US planners’ are afraid of being unable to immediately do whatever they want inside Russia itself in case of a major crisis, rather than proving any aggressive intentions on Russia’s part.Other experts cited by McLeary seemed to emphasize their lack of self-assuredness in speaking about the ‘Russian threat’ in this ‘new Fulda’, Atlantic Council senior fellow Jorge Benitez noting that the area is “one of the most militarized regions in all Europe,” before quickly adding “by that I don’t mean NATO has invested in it. It’s Russia.”
But it’s not Russia that’s been moving its military toward NATO’s 1991 borders for the last quarter century after promising it wouldn’t. Taking that simple fact into account, the rest of the article’s arguments about the imminent Russian invasion become rather moot.
Frankly, it’s not Russia’s fault or concern that “US and NATO commanders are grappling with their own ‘anti-access/area denial’ nightmare” along the ‘Suwalki Gap’. It would be more surprising, with Russia having awakened from its 90’s-era stupor of offering never-ending concessions to NATO, to see Moscow respond in any other way. Where is Russia supposed to base its Baltic Sea Fleet, its S-300 missile systems, its air force and its Kaliningrad troops? In Siberia? On the moon?
Unfazed by the blatant hypocrisy of harping on about the Russian threat, while NATO casually continues to encroach on Russia’s borders, one of McLeary’s experts claimed that he fully understands that the current situation is not the geography of the old Cold War.”The geography of NATO has changed. In the Cold War NATO’s borders were in the center of the continent, but now the front lines are the Baltics,” Benitez noted. However, true to the hypocritical manner of thinking which seems so pervasive among US strategists and military planners, Benitez added that it is again “the Russians [who] have chosen to make this the new zone of friction.”
Sure, new “zones of friction” exist, but perhaps these planners and strategists should take some time out from their planning to consider how their Russian counterparts, hardened by two decades of seeing their former Cold War enemies march relentlessly toward their borders, might look at the situation.