Mike Whitney writes on politics and finances and lives in Washington state. He can be reached at email@example.com
Can someone explain to me why President Obama decided to announce that he’s going to deploy U.S. Special Forces to Syria on the same day that Secretary of State John Kerry was scheduled to meet with Russian and Iranian diplomats to discuss how to end the four and a half year-long war?
What was that all about?
Did he think he was going to scare the Russians and Iranians by rattling a few sabers?
Did he think that they’d call off their military offensive and withdraw their support for Assad?
What was he thinking?
Even Kerry was embarrassed by the announcement, which accomplished nothing except to convince the attendees that US foreign policy is concocted by amateurs who have no idea what they’re doing. That’s all it achieved.
According to the New York Times, "Mr. Kerry told reporters the timing of the announcement was ‘a coincidence’ and that he was not aware a decision had been made until earlier Friday.” (Obama Sends Special Operations Forces to Help Fight ISIS in Syria, New York Times)
"A coincidence”? Kerry thinks it was a coincidence?
Fortunately, the Times isn’t nearly as clueless as Kerry, in fact, they even admit what the real objective was. Check it out:
"President Obama announced on Friday that he had ordered several dozen Special Operations troops into Syria for the first open-ended mission by United States ground forces in that country…
… the dispatch of American troops …was meant to bolster diplomatic efforts by Secretary of State John Kerry, who on Friday reached an agreement in Vienna with countries with opposing stakes to explore "a nationwide cease-fire” …(Obama Sends Special Operations Forces to Help Fight ISIS in Syria, New York Times)
See? It wasn’t coincidence at all. It was intentional. It was designed to "bolster diplomatic efforts by Secretary of State John Kerry.” In other words, it was a threat, pure and simple.
To really appreciate how short-sighted the move was, we need to try to understand why these talks were convened to begin with. What’s the purpose of these negotiations and who requested them?
Well, Washington requested them; not Russia, not Iran, not Saudi Arabia, not Turkey and not Europe. Washington. And the reason Washington wanted these meetings is because (as the Times says) they want "to explore a nationwide cease-fire”. The administration wants to stop the fighting. Now. That’s why Kerry has been running around like a chicken with his head cut off to get all the diplomats together in one place ASAP.
But don’t presume for a minute that because Washington wants a ceasefire, that they also want a "political solution” or "negotiated settlement” or peace, because they don’t. Peace isn’t even on the agenda and it never has been. For the last four and a half years the US has been supporting Sunni extremists and other militant groups to make sure that peace is avoided at all cost, because peace would be an obstacle for the real objective, which is regime change.
So what changed; in other words, why is Kerry so eager to convene meetings now when he’s had every opportunity to call off the dogs for the last four years?
What changed is Vladimir Putin. Putin got sick and tired of the US ripping these Middle East countries to shreds and decided to put an end to it. So he formed a coalition (The 4+1: Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah) and started bombing the hell out of the jihadis.
This created a big problem for Washington because many of these violent extremists have been armed and trained by the US. They’re Washington’s "guys” and they’ve been doing Washington’s dirty-work by prosecuting a proxy war that is designed to topple Syrian President Bashar al Assad. That’s why Kerry convened the meetings, because he needs a ceasefire to save as many of these US-backed scoundrels as possible. Here’s Kerry’s actual statement following Friday’s confab:
"The theory of the ceasefire is very simple: Certain parties control or influence people with guns and the ability to fight. And if we do reach an agreement with respect to some of the road forward, there would be a responsibility for those with influence and those with – those who have direct control over certain parties, they would control them. Obviously, with respect to Daesh and al-Nusrah, there is no ceasefire, there would be none, and those are the early parameters. But much more needs to be discussed between militaries, the politics….. There are all kinds of possibilities, but they remain to be explored.”
Does it seem to you, dear reader, that Kerry is a lot more interested in working out the particulars of a ceasefire than he is in ending the conflict? That’s because his real aim is not peace and humanitarian assistance, but saving as many of these bloodthirsty hyenas as possible. That’s Washington’s goal.
Why does it matter?
It matters because if Washington doesn’t really want peace, then we have to assume that the talks are a charade and that Kerry is just buying time so he can regroup his forces and resume the war at some later date.
How do we know this?
We know it because Kerry delivered a speech to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace the day before he left for Vienna in which he announced exactly what the US strategy is. Here’s what he said:
"In northern Syria, the coalition and its partners have pushed Daesh (ISIS) out of more than 17,000 square kilometers of territory, and we have secured the Turkish-Syrian border east of the Euphrates River. That’s about 85 percent of the Turkish border, and the President is authorizing further activities to secure the rest…….
We’re also enhancing our air campaign in order to help drive Daesh, which once dominated the Syria-Turkey border, out of the last 70-mile stretch that it controls.” (U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on the Future of U.S. Policy in the Middle East, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
There it is in black and white. Kerry is basically telling his inner-circle friends that Washington is moving on to Plan B, a fallback plan that will involve the establishment of a "safe zone” on the Syrian side of the Syrian-Turkish border where the US and its partners can continue to arm, train and deploy their jihadi hoodlums back into Syria whenever they choose to do so. So now we know what Obama’s Special Forces are really going to be doing in Syria, don’t we? They’re going to be overseeing operations that will put this plan into motion.
How do you think Putin is going to like the idea that Washington wants to annex sovereign Syrian territory so they can continue hostilities for the foreseeable future?
He’s not going to like it at all, in fact, it could be a big problem for him. If the US secures an area where it can dig in for the long-haul, then they might actually succeed in turning the conflict into another Afghanistan-type quagmire, which appears to be what many of Washington strategic planners actually want.
So what should Putin do? How does he achieve his objectives without getting bogged down?
Well, the first thing he’s got to do is realize that Vienna is a joke. The Obama administration isn’t serious about a diplomatic solution at all. It’s all just smoke and mirrors. Kerry’s admission that the US controls "about 85 percent of the Turkish border, and the President is authorizing further activities to secure the rest” proves beyond a doubt that Washington is already moving ahead with Plan B. That’s the whole deal in a nutshell.
Putin has probably already figured out that Vienna is fraud, which would explain why his main man, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, has refused to make any concessions on any of the points that are being discussed. (in Vienna) As far as Lavrov is concerned, all of Russia’s demands are going to be met or there’s not going to be a deal. The state and its institutions will remain intact, the terrorist groups will be exterminated, Assad will be a part of the "transitional government”, and the Syrian people will decide for themselves who leads them in the future. This is the basic Geneva roadmap and Lavrov is sticking to it like glue. Washington is going to comply because they’re not going to be given a choice in the matter.
As for the ceasefire: Well, Lavrov shot down that idea too. Here’s what he said: "If a ceasefire is declared, no terrorist organizations should be subjected to it.” In other words, the Russian-led coalition is going to keep killing these jokers until every last one of them is dead.
This statement hasn’t appeared in any western media, probably because it clarifies who is really setting the agenda. Russia is setting the agenda. It also suggests that there is no wiggle room in Moscow’s approach, and there isn’t. The terrorists, moderate or radical, are going to be hunted down and exterminated. End of story.
Here’s something else Lavrov said:
"Russia remains firm on its position that fighting terrorism should be conducted in accordance with the solid basis of international law, whether we are talking about military interventions from air or ground operations, these need to be conducted in agreement with the government or with the UN Security Council.”
In other words, if a country, like the US, decides to conduct military operations in Syria illegally, (which it is) then they do so at their own risk. Russia is going to continue to aggressively implement its battle plan whether US Special Forces put themselves in harms way or not.
Also, the Russian-led offensive is going to reestablish Syria’s sovereign borders. If Obama wants to claim a part of Syria’s territory as a refuge for his for-hire assassins, then he’d better be prepared to fight for it, because that’s what it’s going to take.
Putin has shown a remarkable ability to anticipate Washington’s moves and take preemptive steps to minimize their impact. Even so, it’s going to be tough sledding if Obama is able to create a sanctuary on the Turkish border where jihadis can enter and exit Syria at will keeping the country in a permanent state of turmoil. In that case, Putin would face his worse nightmare, the prospect of staying in Syria forever.
Does Putin have something up his sleeve to counter this threat? Would he, for example, be willing to deploy his own elite shock-troops from the 7th Guards Airborne-Assault (Mountain) Division, who have been spotted around Latakia, to wrest control of the border from rebel fighters thus putting a swift end to Washington’s twisted plan to create a safe zone, splinter Syria into smaller statelets and create a permanent haven for Islamic extremists?
Putin sees terrorism as a direct threat to Russia’s national security. He’s going to do whatever it takes to defeat the enemy and win the war. If that means he’s got to put Russian boots on the ground to get the job done, then that’s what he’ll do.