The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>
 The Saker BlogviewTeasers

The latest news craze is about the possible delivery of US anti-tank weapons (the FMG-148 Javelin is often mentioned) to the Nazi junta in Kiev. These stories typically include a discussion of “defensive” vs “offensive” and “lethal” vs “non-lethal” weapons and always display a child-like belief in the existence of some magic technology which would perform miracles on the battlefield. None of that has anything to do with the real world and this is why the folks who write this kind of nonsense like to hide their ignorance by peppering their articles with nonsensical figures such as range, armor penetration, guidance system types or expressions like “fire and forget”. The truth is that all these self-appointed experts all quote each other and all parrot the official propaganda line which tries to suggest that the delivery of weapons to the Ukraine could be a game changer. The latter is actually true, but not in military terms. So let’s try to make sense of all this nonsense.

First, forget goofy concepts like “defensive” vs “offensive” and “lethal” vs “non-lethal” weapons. All weapons are lethal and they are all offensive, at least potentially. Even the putatively “defensive” ones actually can be used to “defend” offensive weapons/units/forces and are therefore play a very important role in the offense. Even a combat fatigue or a flask of water is offensive when used in the offense because it makes the offensive possible in the first place.

Second, modern warfare is simply too complex to make it possible for one weapons system to radically change the face of the battlefield. When Hezbollah used the Russian-made RPG-29, the AT-14 Kornet and the Metis-M and successfully destroyed the most advanced Israeli tank, the Merkava-4, that did not by itself determine the outcome of the war. Yes, the Israelis were shocked by the defeat of their best tank, but no more than by the Hezbollah missile strike on INS Spear, a Saar-5 Class destroyer or, for that matter, by the well-prepared fortification system Hezbollah had built over the years right across the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Frankly, this western obsession with military high-tech (along with an equally infantile belief that more expensive weapons are for some reason better than cheaper ones) is a reflection of a culture which has long stopped relying on courage, patriotism and even good tactics to win wars. All this Hollywood like nonsense came tumbling down in 2006 when second-rate Hezbollah forces (the best one were kept in reserve north of the Litani river) defeated the best of the best of the putatively “invincible” Israeli forces, including the famous “Golani Brigade”. And Hezbollah won precisely because Hezbollah fighters displayed the moral and intellectual qualities which are so clearly lacking nowadays in western military forces. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah very clearly explained that during his “Divine Victory” speech when he said:

How could this group of mujahidin defeat this army without the support and assistance of almighty God? This resistance experience, which should be conveyed to the world, depends – on the moral and spiritual level – on faith, certainty, reliance [on God], and readiness to make sacrifices. It also depends on reason, planning, organization, armament, and, as is said, on taking all possible protective procedures.

Needless to say, western military ‘experts’ chose to ignore his words and instead made a truly valiant effort to simply forget it all. Fair enough – what could they have to say about morals or spirituality anyway? As for the regime in Washington, it simply declared that the Israelis won, end of discussion.

This amazing ability to believe your own propaganda is also what is misleading US decision makers to pretend like the delivery of “defensive” anti-tank missiles to the Junta in Kiev will meaningfully alter the balance of power between, on one hand, the Ukrainian army and assorted death squads and, on the other, the Novorussians. It won’t. If only because the US has *already* delivered anti-tank weapons to the Ukrainians (via Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and others). We know that thanks to a recent report by SouthFront which obtained exclusive photos of the contract between the Ukrainian state-run company Spetstechnoexport and the American company AirTronic USA on the delivery of lethal weapons to Ukraine (see here). And this is just one example, there are probably many more.

True believers in the US propaganda will reply that the “advanced” Javelins are much more capable than anything seen in the Ukraine so far and that their delivery would really make a difference. Let’s look into this claim a little closer.

It is true that the Javelin is a rather complex and high-tech system. Unlike most other anti-tank weapons, the Javelin, once fired, does not need to be controlled as it guides itself against its target, which makes it possible for the firing crew to seek cover and not to have to worry about hitting the target (hence the “fire and forget” characterization). The Javelin can also hit the enemy tank from the top, where the tank’s armor is typically much thinner than in the front or sides sectors. Do these characteristics make the Javelin some kind of super-weapon? Not at all.

For one thing, one should take all the claims about the tactical-technical characteristics of the Javelin with a solid pound of salt. It is one thing to have this system operated by professional experts in perfect conditions and at zero risk, and quite another to try to use it against actual Russian tanks protected by infantry, snipers, artillery and their own missile systems. Add to this very complex terrain and often extreme weather conditions (mud, fog, rain, heat, snow, winds, vegetation, villages, cities, etc.) and the quasi-miraculous capabilities of any fancy weapon system suddenly begin to rapidly decline. Besides, the Javelin naturally has all the disadvantages inherent to most infrared targeting and guidance systems such as the dependence upon a slow and short-lived cooling system, the fact that the missile cannot be controlled in flight and that its guidance system is susceptible to deception by means of various heat sources.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Media, Neocons, Russia, Ukraine 

With the Neocon coup against Trump now completed (at least in its main objective, that is the neutralization of Trump, the subsidiary objective, impeaching Trump and removing him from office remains something for the future) the world has to deal, yet again, with a very dangerous situation: the AngloZionist Empire is on a rapid decline, but the Neocons are back in power and they will do anything and everything in their power to stop and reverse this trend. It is also painfully obvious from their rhetoric, as well as from their past actions, that the only “solution” out the Neocons see is to trigger some kind of war. So the pressing question now becomes this: “where will the Empire strike next?”. Will it be the DPRK or Syria? Iran or Venezuela? In the Ukraine, maybe? Or do the Neocons seek war with Russia or China?

Now, of course, if we assume that the Neocons are completely crazy, then everything is possible, from a US invasion of Lesotho to a simultaneous thermonuclear attack on Russia and China. I am in no way dismissing the insanity (and depravity) of the Neocons, but I also see no point in analyzing that which is clearly irrational, if only because all modern theories of deterrence always imply a “rational actor” and not a crazy lunatic on a suicidal amok run. For our purposes, therefore, we will assume that there is a semblance of rational thinking left in Washington DC and that even if the Neocons decide to launch some clearly crazy operation, somebody in the top levels of power will find the courage prevent this, just like Admiral Fallon did it with his “not on my watch!” which possibly prevented a US attack on Iran in 2007). So, assuming a modicum of rationality is still involved, where would the Empire strike next?

The ideal scenario

We all by now know exactly what the Empire likes to do: find some weak country, subvert it, accuse it of human right violations, slap economic sanctions, trigger riots and militarily intervene in “defense” of “democracy”, “freedom” and “self-determination” (or some other combo of equally pious and meaningless concepts). But that is only the ‘political recipe’. What I want to look into is what I call “the American way of war”, that is the way US commanders like to fight.

During the Cold War, most of the US force planning, procurement, doctrine and training was focused on fighting a large conventional war against the Soviet Union and it was clearly understood that this conventional war could escalate into a nuclear war. Setting aside the nuclear aspect for a while (it is not relevant to our discussion), I would characterize the conventional dimension of such a war as “heavy”: centered on large formations (divisions, brigades), involving a lot of armor and artillery, this kind of warfare would involve immense logistical efforts on both sides and that, in turn, would involve deep-strikes on second echelon forces, supply dumps, strategic axes of communications (roads, railways, bridges, etc.) and a defense in depth in key sectors. The battlefield would be huge, hundreds of kilometers away on both sides of the FEBA (Forward Edge of Battle Area, or “front line”). On all levels, tactical, operational and strategic, defenses would be prepare in two, possibly three, echelons. To give you an idea of the distances involved, the Soviet 2nd strategic echelon in Europe was deployed as far back as the Ukraine! (this is why, by the way, the Ukraine inherited huge ammo dumps from the Soviet Union, and why there never was a shortage of weapons on any side for the conduct of the Ukrainian civil war).

With the collapse of the Soviet Union’s Empire, this entire threat disappeared, if not overnight, then almost overnight. Of course, the Gulf War provided the US armed forces and NATO one last, but big, “goodbye party” (against an enemy which had absolutely no chance to prevail), but soon thereafter it became pretty clear to US strategists that the “heavy war” was over and that armored brigades might not be the most useful war-fighting tool in the US arsenal.

This is when US strategists, mostly from Special Operation Forces, developed what I like to call “war on the cheap”. It works something like this: first, get the CIA to fund, arm and train some local insurgents (if needed, bring some from abroad); next embed US Special Forces with these local insurgents and provide them with FACs (forward air controllers, frontline soldiers specially trained to direct close support fixed and rotary wing aircraft to strike at enemy forces in direct contact with US and “friendlies”); finally, deploy enough aircraft in and around the combat zone (on aircraft carriers, in neighboring countries or even on seized local airstrips) to support combat operations day and night. The key notion is simple: provide the friendly insurgents with an overwhelming advantage in firepower. You have all seen this on YouTube: US and “coalition” forces advance until they get into a firefight and, unless they rapidly prevail, they call in an airstrike which results into a huge BOOM!!! following by cheering Americans and friendlies and the total disappearance of the attackers. Repeat that enough times, and you get an easy, cheap and rapid victory over a completely outgunned enemy. This basic approach can be enhanced by various “supplements” such as providing the insurgents with better gear (antitank weapons, night vision, communications, etc.) and bringing in some US or allied forces, including mercenaries, to take care of the really tough targets.

While many in the US armed forces were deeply skeptical of this new approach, the dominance of the Special Forces types and the success, at least temporarily, of this “war on the cheap” in Afghanistan made it immensely popular with US politicians and propagandists. Best of all, this type of warfare resulted in very few casualties for the Americans and even provided them with a high degree of “plausible deniability” should something go wrong. Of course, the various three letter spooks loved it too.

What so many failed to realize in the early euphoria about US invincibility was that this “war on the cheap” made three very risky assumptions:

First and foremost, it relied on a deeply demoralized enemy who felt that, like in the series “Star Trek”, resistance to the Borg (aka the USA) was futile because even if the actual US forces deployed were limited in size and capabilities, the Americans would, no doubt, bring in more and more forces if needed, until the opposition was crushed.

Second, this type of warfare assumes that the US can get air superiority over the entire battlefield. Americans do not like to provide close air support when they can be shot down by enemy aircraft or missiles.

Third, this type of warfare requires the presence of local insurgents who can be used as “boots on the ground” to actually occupy and control territory. We will now see that all three of these assumptions are not necessarily true or, to put it even better, that the AngloZionists have run out of countries in which these assumptions still apply. Let’s take them one by one.

Hezbollah, Lebanon 2006

 

The latest US sanctions and the Russian retaliatory response have resulted in a torrent of speculations in the official media and the blogosphere – everybody is trying to make sense of a situation which appears to make no sense at all. Why in the world would the US Senate adopt new sanctions against Russia when Russia has done absolutely nothing to provoke such a vote? Except for Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders, every single US Senator voted in favor of these sanctions. Why?! This is even more baffling when you consider that the single biggest effect of these sanctions will be to trigger a rift, and possibly even counter-sanctions, between the US and the EU. What is absolutely clear is that these sanctions will have exactly zero effect on Russia and I don’t think anybody is seriously expecting the Russians to change anything at all in their policies. And yet, every Senator except Paul and Sanders voted for this. Does that make any sense to you?

Let’s try to figure out what is going on here.

First, a simple reminder: like all US politicians, from the county level to the US Congress, Senators have only one consideration when then vote – “what’s in it for me?”. The very last thing which any US Senator really cares about are the real life consequences of his/her vote. This means that to achieve the kind of quasi unanimity (98%) for a totally stupid vote there was some kind of very influential lobby which used some very forceful “arguments” to achieve such a vote. Keep in mind that the Republicans in the Senate knew that they were voting against the wishes of their President. And yet every single one except for Rand Paul voted for these sanctions, that should tell you something about the power of the lobby which pushed for them. So who would have such power?

The website “Business Pundit: Expert Driven” has helpfully posted an article which lists the 10 top most powerful lobbies in Washington, DC. They are (in the same order as in the original article)

  • Tech Lobby
  • Mining Industry
  • Defense Industry
  • Agribusiness Industry
  • Big Oil
  • Financial Lobby
  • Big Pharma
  • AARP
  • Pro-Israel Lobby
  • NRA

Okay, why not? We could probably rearrange them, give them different labels, add a couple (like the “Prison Industrial Complex” or the “Intelligence Community”) but all in all this is an okay list. Any name on it jump at you yet?

One could make the case that most of these lobbies need an enemy to prosper, this is certainly true of the Military-Industrial Complex and the associated high tech industry, and one could also reasonably claim that Big Oil, Mining and Agribusiness see Russia has a potential competitor. But a closer look at the interests these lobbies represent will tell you that they are mostly involved in domestic politics and that faraway Russia, with her relatively small economy, is just not that important to them. This is also clearly true for Big Pharma, the AARP and the NRA. Which leaves the Israel Lobby as the only potential candidate.

“Israel Lobby” is, of course, a misnomer. The Israel Lobby has very little interest in Israel as a country or, for that matter, for the Israeli people. If anything, the Israel Lobby ought to be called the “Neocon Lobby”. Furthermore, we also have to keep in mind that the Neocon Lobby is unlike any other lobby in the list above. For one thing, it does not represent US interests. Neither does it represent the interests of Israel. Rather, it represents the interests of a specific subset of the US ruling elites, in reality much smaller than 1% of the population, which all share in the one common ideology of worldwide domination typical of the Neocons.

These are the folks who in spite of their 100% ironclad control of the media and Congress lost the Presidential election to Donald Trump and who are now dead set to impeach him. These are the folks who simply use “Russia” as a propagandistic fulcrum to peddle the notion that Trump and his entourage are basically Russian agents and Trump himself as a kind of “Presidential Manchurian Candidate”.

Keep in mind that the historical record shows that while the Neocons are fantastically driven, they are not particularly smart. Yes, they do have the kind of rabid ideological determination which allows them to achieve a totally disproportionate influence over US policies, but when you actually read what they write and listen to what they say you immediately realize that these are rather mediocre individuals with a rather parochial mindset which makes them both very predictable and very irritating to the people around them. They always overplay their hand and then end up stunned and horrified when all their conspiracies and plans come tumbling down on them.

I submit that this is exactly what is happening right now.

First, the Neocons lost the elections. For them, it was a shock and a nightmare. The “deplorables” voted against the unambiguously clear “propaganda instructions” given to them by the media. Next, the Neocons turned their rabid hatred against Trump and they succeeded at basically neutering him, but only at the cost of terribly weakening the USA themselves! Think of it: 6 months plus into the Trump administration the USA has already managed to directly threaten Iran, Syria, the DPRK and in all cases with exactly zero results. Worse, Trump’s behavior towards Europe and the anti-Trump propaganda inside Europe has now put the EU and the US on a collision course. This is absolutely amazing: for the Russians the current tensions between the EU and the USA are a dream come true and yet they had absolutely nothing to do with it – it was all done by the self-defeating stupidity of the Americans who created this situation completely ex nihilo!

So while Kim Jong-un fires missiles on the 4th of July, the Syrian Army is closing in on Deir ez-Zor, the Ukraine is turning into Somalia, the Russian economy is back to growth and Putin’s popularity is as high as ever, the Neocons are totally freaking out and, as is typical of a person losing control, they don’t do things which would make sense but do what they are used to doing: slapping sanctions (even if they are totally ineffective) and sending messages (even if they are totally ignored). In other words, the Neocons are now engaging in magical thinking, the deliberately chose to delude themselves about their power and influence and they are coping with their full-spectrum failure at everything by pretending that their votes in Congress matter. They truth is – they don’t.

Here is where we need to turn to the other misconception in this matter, that the Russian reaction to these latest sanctions is really about these sanctions. It is not.

First, let’s tackle the myth that these sanctions are hurting Russia. They really don’t. Even the 100% russophobic Bloomberg is beginning to realize that, if anything, all these sanctions have made both Putin and Russia stronger. Second, there is the issue of timing: instead of slapping on some counter-sanctions the Russians suddenly decided to dramatically reduce the US diplomatic personnel in Russia and confiscate a two US diplomatic facilities in a clear retaliation for the expulsion of Russian diplomats and seizure of Russian diplomatic facilities by Obama last year. Why now?

(Republished from Counterpunch by permission of author or representative)
 

A reader, SunriseState, has recently posted the following question in the comments section: “what would you say is the most optimal Russian strategy vs Poland?“. When I read it I thought “now that is an interesting question indeed!”. Today I will try to answer it, going step by step.

First, a diagnosis.

There is a Polish syndrome. We can ascribe all sorts of causes for it, some will describe the Poles as heroic victims, others as greedy hyenas, but for our purposes we don’t even need to dwell into history to list a series of symptoms which, when taken together, we could call the “Polish Syndrome”:

  1. Phobia (hatred and fear) for Russia and everything Russian.
  2. A strong desire to be “part of the West” (as opposed to an imaginary “despotic Asia”) while in reality having little or nothing in common with the said “West”
  3. A deep and bitter resentment at having been militarily defeated over and over again and a subsequent hope for a grandiose revanche.
  4. A deep seated inferiority complex towards both the East and the West as lyrically expressed in the Ukrainian sloganlet us drown the Poles in Russian and Jewish blood!“.
  5. A dream of finally submitting the Orthodox Church to the Papacy (or, in its latest iteration, to “consecrate Russia to the immaculate heart of Mary“)
  6. A deep insecurity about itself resulting in a neverending policy of finding external allies, including Hitler, to take on the “big guy”.
  7. A willingness to say anything and do anything to get the external ally to extend protection, threaten Russia or, even better, participate in a long-awaited “march on Moscow”.

Again, whether this is a result of centuries of Russian oppression, imperialism, violence and persecutions or the result of the Papist ideology makes absolutely no difference for our purposes.

Also, when we look at the various symptoms of our “Polish Syndrome” we immediately see that it is not unique to Poles or Poland – the Ukrainians, especially the western Ukrainians, display all the same characteristics as their Polish neighbors (as do the Balts, but they are too small, weak and irrelevant to be included here). The syndrome we are looking at is therefore not really a “Polish” one, but an East European one, but calling it “East European” would also be incorrect. So, for our purposes, I will simplify and call it the “Pilban Syndrome” (PBS) in honor of the two “great heroes” of the Polish and West Ukrainian nationalists: Jozef Pilsudski and Stepan Bandera.

Second, a prognosis

Friends, the Pilban Syndrome is here to stay. For one thing, we are dealing with a syndrome with deep historical roots. Second, years of Communist rule followed by a sudden collapse of the Soviet Empire gave this syndrome a huge boost. Third, the AngloZionist Empire, especially in its current position of rapid decline, will allocate a great deal of resources to keep the PBS alive and well. Finally, the abject failure of the AngloZionist policies in the Ukraine and the subsequent civil war will probably lead to a break-up of the Ukraine, in one form or another, and that will also greatly contribute to the vitality of the PBS. I would also add that while right now Poland is enjoying a much hoped for “minute of fame” (being useful to the Empire against Russia) this pipe dream will also come crashing down sooner rather than later, and that inevitable collapse with also result in a sharp rise of the PBS. Bottom line is this: the PBS is here to stay and Russians would be naive in the extreme to hope that it will just vanish.

Third, a warning

There is nothing, absolutely nothing which the Russians could do to try to minimize the severity of the PBS. It is absolutely crucial to understand that the PBS is deeply ideological in its nature and causes. To think that some kind of action (short of collective national suicide, of course) would appease those suffering from PBS is delusional. The Ukrainian case, in particular, will show that even if Russians give them loans, credits, favorable trade terms, security guarantees, etc. the Ukrainian nationalists will see that as a devious plan to try to entrap or otherwise deceive the Ukrainians. If tomorrow the Kremlin decided to send truckloads of gold to the Ukraine or Poland, they would accept it, of course, but as soon as the last truck crossed the border the Polish and Ukrainian nationalists would resume their usual mantras about “Poland/the Ukraine not perishing yet” (they both have these paranoid words in their essentially similar national anthems) along with their usual policies.

Fourth, the big question

The big question is this: how do you deal with such hate-filled lunatics when they are your neighbors? From a Russian point of view, these neighbors are constantly shifting their position on a spectrum roughly ranging between “minor pain in the ass” to “existential threat”, so this is nothing trivial. If history has taught the Russians anything is that every single time Russia was weak the Poles invaded. Every time. The Ukrainian case is very different, since there never was any “Ukrainian state” in history. However, since the Ukrainian nationalists display exactly the same PBS symptoms as their Polish brothers, we can assume that they too will wait for Russia to be weak (for whatever reason) to attack; in fact, the current *official* statements of the leaders of the Nazi junta in Kiev more or less promise to do exactly that). Russia has tried all sorts of strategies with Poland, ranging from outright partitioning, to the granting of special rights, to a naive hope that a common stance against Nazi Germany would yield some degree of, if not brotherhood, then at least civil neighborly relations. They all failed. Clearly, a new approach is needed.

Fifth, the obvious solution

Okay so we have established that the PBS is incurable, that it is here to stay, that the Russians cannot meaningfully affect it and that past policies have all failed. So what does that leave? It leaves one obvious solution:

Do nothing. Have no policy. Give up. Ignore them. Bypass them.

The first principle of medicine is “above all do no harm”. I will argue here that any Russian policy towards PBS suffering states will do harm and only make things worse. However, doing absolutely nothing will yield huge advantages for Russia. Think of it. Doing nothing

  1. Gives the Polish and Ukrainian nationalists the least excuses to focus on an imaginary external threat and forces them to have to look inside, at their own internal problems. Considering that we are dealing hate-filled ideologues and deluded politicians, they will all turn on each other like rats in a cage.
  2. Makes it possible for Russia to combine a pragmatically efficient stance with a morally correct one: no matter how hate filled and delusional Polish and Ukrainian nationalists are, it is not for Russians to judge them, educate them or otherwise deny them their freedom to live in whatever manner they choose to. Let them build the society they want, let them keep on barking at Russia like a small dog would do behind the “NATO fence”, and let them pursue their “western dream” to their heart’s content.
  3. (Republished from The Vineyard of the Saker by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Poland, Russia, Ukraine 

First, we have the manner in which the Americans have been preparing the G20 summit. As we all know, in diplomacy actions count as much, or even more, than words. Here are just a few of the actions recently taken by the Americans in preparation for the G20 summit and Trump’s first meeting with Putin (in no particular order):

Going down this list, you got to admire the American sense of timing and diplomacy…

But, seriously now,

It does not really matter if these actions are just the result of imperial hubris and delusion, a complete lack of diplomatic education, the consequences of simple and straightforward human stupidity or all part of some diabolical plan to set the US on a collision course with the entire planet. What matters is the mind-blowing arrogance of it all, as if the USA were a white knight in shining armor worthy only of praise and adulation and as if the rest of the planet were composed of rowdy schoolchildren who needed to heed the words of their principal and start behaving or else get a good spanking from Uncle Sam.

If that is how Trump hopes to make “America Great Again” he might want to consider other options as this kind of attitude makes “America” (he means the USA, of course) look not “great” but arrogant, out of touch and supremely irritating. Let’s take on the world, everybody at the same time seems to be the grand plan of this administration.

The result of all these “diplomatic” efforts were predicable: nothing.

Well, almost nothing. Here is what “nothing” looks in diplomatic language:

According to Foreign Minister Lavrov Presidents Trump and Putin, were “motivated by their national interests” (who would have thought?!) and they agree on a number of concrete measures:

  1. an acceleration of the procedure to appoint new ambassadors – RU-US and US-RU
  2. they discussed the Russian diplomatic facilities seized by Obama
  3. they create a work group to discuss a number of issues including terrorism, organized crime, hacking and cybersecurity.
  4. they discussed Syria and the Ukraine and talked for 2 hours and 15 minutes.

According to RT, Russia and the US agreed on a ceasefire in the Daraa, Quneitra and As-Suwayda provinces of Syria. That is very good, of course, but this is in the one corner of Syria (southwest) where very little action is taking place (right now all the important stuff is taking place between Raqqa and Deir-Az-Sor). Oh, and there are de-escalation zones already in place in the southwest:

So unless Trump and Putin are keeping something really important secret, it seems that this summit has yielded exactly what I feared it would: nothing, or something very very close to nothing. If we find out later that in spite of everything, the two sides did discuss something of importance and agreed on something important, I will post and update here. And, believe me, nobody will be happier than me if that happens.

But, alas, it appears that many months of a sustained Neocon campaign to make darn sure that Russia and the US could never seriously collaborate have been very successful.

So where does this all leave us, the millions of people who had at least *some* hopes about Trump being an outsider who could try to make some real changes happen and maybe liberate the United States from the Neocon regime in power here since at least Bill Clinton (if not earlier)?

On February 14th of this year, following the anti-Flynn coup and Trump’s betrayal of his friend, I wrote that “it’s over folks” and “Trump betrayed us all”. I took a lot of flak for writing this, especially since I had come strongly on Trump’s side against Hillary during the campaign. Sadly, I believe that my conclusions in February are now proven correct.

I understand while some will want to present this meeting as, if not a success, then at least “good start” or a “semi-success”. For one thing, being the bearer of bad news never made anybody popular. Second, those who support Trump or Putin (or both) will want to show that the leader they support achieved something. Finally, if both sides report that the meeting has been a success, who are we to say otherwise?

I don’t know about anybody else, but I always have and always will call it as I see it. And what I see is simply nothing or something very close to nothing. Sorry folks, I wish I could say something else.

(Republished from The Vineyard of the Saker by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, Neocons, Russia 

The talk of the week is the upcoming meeting between Presidents Trump and Putin on the sidelines of the G20 conference this Friday. There have been some very good articles already written on this topic, I particularly recommend Adam Garrie’s “5 obstacles Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will have to address in their meeting” for The Duran and Israel Shamir’s “What Would Putin Tell Trump?” for The Unz Review. It is undeniable that the fact that these two men will finally meet is an event of immense significance and importance for the future not only of US-Russian relations, but even for the future or mankind.

Or is it?

I have to be honest here and say that my expectations are pretty close to zero. Oh sure, they will smile, probably a lot, and some minor issues, such as the seizure of the Russian diplomatic residence in the US, will be resolved. Probably. There might even be some kind of positive sounding sounds about “reaffirming the Minsk Agreement” or “fighting ISIS in Syria”, but compared to long list of truly vital issues which need to be urgently discussed and resolved, this will, I am afraid, be as close to nothing as it can get. Why do I say that?

First, we should all stop kidding ourselves, Russia and the USA do not have “disagreements”. The sad and frightening reality is that we are now closer to war than during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Not only are Russian and US servicemen now deployed in the same war zone (the Americans totally illegally), but unlike what happened during the Cuban Missile Crisis we have a US President who terminally lacks the willpower to deal with the crazies on the US side, I am talking about the Neocons, of course. In fact, under Kennedy there were no real Neocons to tackle to begin with. Now they are running the White House while Trump serves them coffee or watches TV in another room (I am joking of course, but just barely). In this context, to meet on the “sidelines” of a G20 conference is bordering on the criminally irresponsible. What the world would need is for Trump and Putin to meet in a “Camp David” like format for at least 3-5 days with all their key advisors and officials. Even if we assume 100% good will on both sides, meeting on the “sidelines” of an already big conference just won’t make it possible to get anything done. In the very best of cases Lavrov and Tillerson could have done most of the hard work away from the public eye, but the truth is that the Russians say that so far the two sides have not even agreed upon an agenda.

Second, it is absolutely clear that the US Ziomedia and Congress will declare any, any, positive outcome from the meeting as “Trump caved in to Putin” and try to get a pound of political flesh out of Trump for it. So for Trump any external success will mean an internal disaster. And we already know that the man does not have what it takes to deal with such attacks. Frankly, his only “tactic”, so to speak, to deal with the Neocons has been to try to appease them. So short of Trump asking for political asylum in Russia and joining Snowden somewhere in Russia, I don’t see him ever taking any independent action.

Third, if we look at the people around Trump it is pretty clear that the only intelligent and rational person in the White House is Rex Tillerson. The rest of them are lunatics, maniacs and imbeciles – the current US what shall I call it—“actions” (can’t call it a “policy”) towards Syria clearly prove that the Executive Branch is completely out of control. We now can clearly see that Mattis and McMaster are not these military geniuses presented to us by the Ziomedia but that, in fact, they are both phenomenally incompetent and that their views of the conflicts in Syria and even Afghanistan can only be characterized as totally lacking anything remotely resembling any kind of vision. Yet these two “geniuses” seem to be in charge. For all his intelligence, Tillerson can’t even rein in this Nikki idiot at the United Nations. We should stop kidding ourselves and stop pretending like there is anybody to talk to for the Russians. At best, they are dealing with a Kindergarten. At worst, they are dealing with an evil Kindergarten. But either way, there is nobody to talk to on the US side, much less so somebody to begin solving the many issues that need solving.

I will admit that I did have high hopes for Trump and his apparent willingness to sit down and have an adult conversation with the Russians. I was especially inspired by Trump’s repeated rejection of the Ziomedia’s narrative about Russia and by what appeared to me as his “no nonsense” approach towards getting things done. I wrote many articles for this blog saying that having hopes (not expectations!) for Trump was the right thing to do. And, frankly, I think that at the time it was. Last Fall I even wrote an entire chapter on this topic in the book “If I were King: Advice for President Trump“. The big difference is that before his election we could only judge Trump by his words. Now, however, we can judge him by his words and his actions and the latter show us a consistent pattern of supine subservience to the Neocons and their demands, from the betrayal of his friend and key advisor Flynn, to the recent threats to bomb Syria for, allegedly, “preparing” to use chemical munitions against civilians.

This might be his, shall we call it, “Las Vegas culture” – but Trump is all about form over substance and appearance over facts. Just look at his frankly pathetic threats (with no less than 3 aircraft carrier strike groups!) against the DPRK or his half-assed missile strike on the Syrian airbase: it’s all a big show, nothing more. No wonder the man likes “tweeting” – he seems to think in 140 character long “thought clusters”…

None of that would be too bad if the US, and the West generally, had a halfway decent media and a Legislative Branch worthy of its name. In theory, these could raise hell and demand that the President either resign or begin doing his job. But, of course, they don’t and they won’t. They hate Trump, of course, but they also own him. He can make fun of them in “tweets” in his free time, but in terms of his policies he does exactly what they want. And the very last thing they want is any kind of “detente” with Russia. At most, they will impeach Trump just to humiliate him, but that’s about it. They don’t even need to play their “Pence” card – Trump is what is colloquially known in US ghettos as their “punk-ass bitch”.

Ever since the ill-fated “GWOT” more or less petered out, Russia has become the indispensable bogeyman to terrify the public and justify multi-billion dollar corruption schemes. Not only that, but a “resurgent Russia” is the cornerstone justification of the AngloZionist paranoia about a need to spend more on the war state, the police state and, of course, on corporate greed. The powers that be are even re-heating old, Cold War era, scaring techniques:

 
Using Plausible Deniability Against a Systematically Lying Adversary

The Internet has been buzzing with reactions to the latest Stratfor report about how a military confrontation between Russia and the United States would play out. I did not find the full text, I suppose it is behind a Stratfor paywall or for subscribers only (and, frankly, I have better use for my time and money than to subscribe to that rubbish), but since the same excerpts are quoted everywhere, I might as well list them here and assume that they form the highlights of the article. Here we go (taken from the Business Insider quoting and paraphrasing the original article):

While Russia has some advanced surface-to-air missile systems and very agile fighter aircraft in Syria, it wouldn’t fare well in what would be a short, brutal air war against the US (…) Russia has “about 25 planes, only about ten of which are dedicated to air superiority (Su-35s and Su-30s), and against that they’ll have to face fifth-gen stealth fighters, dozens of strike fighters, F-15s, F-16s, as well as B-1 and B-52 bombers. And of course the vast US Navy and pretty much hundreds of Tomahawks.” “Russians have a lot of air defenses, they’re not exactly defenseless by any means,” Lamrani told Business Insider, “But the US has very heavy air superiority.” Even though individual Russian platforms come close to matching, and in some ways exceed the capability of US jets, it comes down to numbers. If US surveillance detected a mass mobilization of Russian jets in response to the back-and-forth, the US wouldn’t just wait politely for Russians to get their planes in the sky so they can fight back. Instead, a giant salvo of cruise missiles would pour in from the USS George H. W. Bush carrier strike group, much like the April 7 strike on Syria’s Sharyat air base. But this time, the missiles would have to saturate and defeat Russia’s missile defenses first, which they could do by sheer numbers if not using electronic attack craft. Then, after neutering Russia’s defenses, the ships could target the air base, not only destroying planes on the ground but also tearing up the runways, so no planes could take off. At this point US and Coalition aircraft would have free reign to pass overhead and completely devastate Russian forces.

So is the author, Omar Lamrani, right in his assessment? Yes and no. Yes, that is exactly what would happen if the Russians decided to engage their small number of air superiority aircraft to try to prevail over the entire CENCOM and NATO air force for the control of the Syrian skies. And no, simply because the Russians would never do that.

The author of the article, a civilian with no military experience, makes a basic mistake, he assumes that the Russians will act like idiots and fight the kind of war the US would want to impose upon them. That is kind of assumptions most newbies make and which make for excellent propaganda articles. The problem is, of course, that there is absolutely no reason at all why the Russians should collaborate with such a ridiculous scenario. So, let’s get back to basics here.

Question 1: are the Russians in a position of weakness in Syria?

Yes, absolutely. And they know that too. First, the Russians are operating only 2 facilities (Tartus and Khmeimim), far away from home, and the size of their task force in Syria is tiny compared to the huge amount of firepower available to the AngloZionists and their allies. Second, the USA have poured billions of dollars into this region to make sure that the Soviet Union could never successfully invade Iran and not only do they have an immense numerical superiority over the Russians, they also have a world-class network of bases where even more forces can be brought in. Syria is squeezed between CENTCOM to the south and east and NATO to the north and west while the closest Russian forces are in Crimea. The truth is that not only could the US and NATO take control of the Syrian skies, even Israel alone could probably do it. So, assuming the Russians are not suicidal imbeciles, what do you think they should do? If you were Russian, how would you play your cards?

Question 2: do the Russians have advantages of their own?

Absolutely. In fact, they have many advantages over the Americans. Here they are in no particular order:

  • All the boots on the ground that matter are either Russian allies or at least on good terms with Russia: the Syrians, the Iranians, Hezbollah and even Turkey are all much closer to Russia than to the AngloZionists. The only AngloZionist boots on the ground that matter are Daesh & Co.
  • Internal public opinion: in Russia, the Russian military intervention is understood and backed by a overwhelming majority of Russians. In the USA the public is clueless and profoundly skeptical of this latest US war of choice. Not only that, but Putin personally has an immense credibility with the Russian people, while Trump is barely avoiding being impeached.
  • External public opinion: while in the USA the Ziomedia is engaged in a truly heroic effort to avoid even mentioning the fact that even the US presence in, and nevermind the actual aggression against, Syria is completely illegal in terms of international law, most of the planet is quite aware of that. This only further erodes the US standing worldwide.
  • The Russians have fewer lucrative targets to offer the AngloZionists than the Americans. Simply put, the Russians have Tartus and Khmeimim. The Americans have an long list of bases and facilities in the region which all could become potential targets.
  • The willpower, courage and determination of the Russian soldier is stronger than his US counterparts by many orders of magnitude. There are many reasons for this, historical as well as political, but I don’t think that anybody doubts the fact that while Americans love to kill for their country, they are much less enthusiastic about dying for it, especially when the “for it” part is extremely dubious and when the frontline soldier feels that he is being used in some complex political game which he does not understand but where he is definitely used as cannon fodder.
  • There is Russian personnel and military hardware interspersed within the Syrian forces. We know that Russian technical specialists, military advisors and special forces are operating on the ground in Syria. This means that the Russian can probably use a Syrian S-300 to shoot down a US aircraft without necessarily giving the US proof of their involvement. To use and old CIA term, the Russian can have “plausible deniability”.
  • We know that Russia has a vastly superior intelligence capability in Syria as reflected in the kind of damage Russian air and missile strike inflict on their targets especially when compared to the painfully obvious lack of US understanding of what’s really going on on the ground.

So what does all this add up to?

1) Plausible deniability in the air

First, it is pretty darn clear that the Russians have no incentive to begin a large scale air battle in the skies of Syria with their US counterparts. However, the fact that such a battle would not be in their interest does not mean that they would necessarily avoid it either. For the time being, the Russians seem to have chosen a strategy of deliberate uncertainty and harassment of the US aircraft, but they could decide to engage US aircraft using their ground based S-300/S-400 batteries. Here is how they could do it.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, Russia, Syria 

By now most of you have heard the latest bad news of out Syria: on June 18th a US F/A-18E Super Hornet (1999) used a AIM-120 AMRAAM (1991) to shoot down a Syrian Air Force Su-22 (1970). Two days later, June 20th, a US F-15E Strike Eagle shot down an Iranian IRGC Shahed 129 drone. The excuse used each time was that there was a threat to US and US supported forces. The reality is, of course, that the US are simply trying to stop the advance of the Syrian army. This was thus a typical American “show of force”. Except that, of course, shooting a 47 year old Soviet era Su-22 fighter-bomber is hardly an impressive feat. Neither is shooting a unmanned drone. There is a pattern here, however, and that pattern is that all US actions so far have been solely for show: the basically failed bombing of the Syria military airbase, the bombing of the Syrian army column, the shooting down of the Syrian fighter-bomber and of the Iranian drone – all these actions have no real military value. They do, however, have a provocative value as each time all the eyes turn to Russia to see if the Russians will respond or not.

Russia did respond this time again, but in a very ambiguous and misunderstood manner. The Russians announced, amongst other measure that from now on “any airborne objects, including aircraft and unmanned vehicles of the [US-led] international coalition, located to the west of the Euphrates River, will be tracked by Russian ground and air defense forces as air targets” which I reported as “Russian MoD declares it will shoot down any aircraft flying west of the Euphrates river”. While I gave the exact Russian quote, I did not explain why I paraphrased the Russian words the way I did. Now is a good time to explain this.

First, here is the exact original Russian text:

«В районах выполнения боевых задач российской авиацией в небе Сирии любые воздушные объекты, включая самолёты и беспилотные аппараты международной коалиции, обнаруженные западнее реки Евфрат, будут приниматься на сопровождение российскими наземными и воздушными средствами противовоздушной обороны в качестве воздушных целей»

A literal translation would be:

“In areas of the combat missions of Russian aviation in the skies of Syria any airborne objects, including aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicle of the international coalition discovered to the West of the Euphrates river, will be tracked by Russian ground based an airborne assets as air targets”

So what does this exactly mean in technical-military terms?

A quick look inside a US fighter’s cockpit

When an F/A-18 flies over Syria the on-board emission detectors (called radar warning receivers or RWR) inform the pilot of the kind of radar signals the aircraft is detecting. Over Syria that means that the pilot would see a lot of search radars looking in all directions trying to get a complete picture of what is happening in the Syrian skies. The US pilot will be informed that a certain number of Syrian S-300 and Russian S-400 batteries are scanning the skies and most probably see him. So far so good. If there are deconfliction zones or any type of bilateral agreements to warn each other about planned sorties then that kind of radar emissions are no big deal. Likewise US radars (ground, sea or air based) are also scanning the skies and “seeing” the Russian Aerospace Forces’ aircraft on their radars and the Russians know that. In this situation neither side is treating anybody as “air targets”. When a decision is made to treat an object as an “air target” a completely different type of radar signal is used and a much narrower energy beam is directed at the target which can now be tracked and engaged. The pilot is, of course, immediately informed of this. At this point the pilot is in a very uncomfortable position: he knows that he is being tracked, but he has no way of knowing if a missile has already been launched against him or not. Depending on a number of factors, an AWACS might be able to detect a missile launch, but this might not be enough and it might also be too late.

The kind of missiles fired by S-300/S-400 batteries are extremely fast, over 4,000mph (four thousand miles per hour) which means that a missile launched as far away as 120 miles will reach you in 2 minutes or that a missile launched 30 miles away will reach you in 30 seconds. And just to make things worse, the S-300 can use a special radar mode called “track via missile” where the radar emits a pulse towards the target whose reflection is then received not by the ground based radar, but by the rapidly approaching missile itself, which then sends its reading back to the ground radar which then sends guidance corrections back to the missile. Why is that bad for the aircraft? Because there is no way to tell from the emissions whether a missile has been launched and is already approaching at over 4,000mph or not. The S-300 and S-400 also have other modes, including the Seeker Aided Ground Guidance (SAGG) where the missile also computes a guidance solution (not just the ground radar) and then the two are compared and a Home On Jam (HOJ) mode when the jammed missile then homes directly on the source of the jamming (such as an onboard jamming pod). Furthermore, there are other radar modes available such as the Ground Aided Inertial (GAI) which guides the missile in the immediate proximity of the target where the missile switches on its own radar just before hitting the target. Finally, there is some pretty good evidence that the Russians have perfected a complex datalink system which allows them to fuse into one all the signals they acquire from their missiles, airborne aircraft (fighter, interceptor or AWACS) and ground radars and that means that, in theory, if a US aircraft is outside the flight envelope (reach) of the ground based missiles the signals acquired by the ground base radars could be used to fire an air-to-air missile at the US aircraft (we know that their MiG-31s are capable of such engagements, so I don’t see why their much more recent Su-30/Su-35 could not). This would serve to further complicate the situational awareness of the pilot as a missile could be coming from literally any direction. At this point the only logical reaction would be for the US pilot to inform his commanders and get out, fast. Sure, in theory, he could simply continue his mission, but that would be very hard, especially if he suspects that the Syrians might have other, mobile, air defense on the way to, or near, his intended target.

Just try to imagine this: you are flying, in total illegality, over hostile territory and preparing to strike a target when suddenly your radar warning receiver goes off and tells you “you got 30 seconds or (much?) less to decide whether there is a 300lbs (150kg) warhead coming at you at 4000mph (6400kmh) or not”. How would you feel if it was you sitting in that cockpit? Would you still be thinking about executing your planned attack?

The normal US strategy is to achieve what is called “air superiority/supremacy” by completely suppressing enemy air defenses and taking control of the skies. If I am not mistaken, the last time the US fighters operated in a meaningfully contested air space was in Vietnam…

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military, Russia, Syria 
Connecting the Dots and Discerning the Future

Russia has often been in the news over the past years, mostly as the demonized “Empire of Mordor” responsible for all the bad things on the planet, especially Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton, the Russian intervention in Syria and, of course, the “imminent” Russian invasion of the Baltics, Poland or even all of Western Europe. I won’t even dignify all this puerile nonsense with any attention, but instead I will focus on what I think are important developments which are either misunderstood or completely ignored in the West.

First, a few key dots:

1) The Russian intervention in Syria

There are so many aspects of the Russian military intervention in Syria which ought to be carefully studied that I am confident that many PhD theses will be written on this topic in the future. While I have mostly focused my work on the purely military aspects of this campaign, it is important to look at the bigger picture. To do that, I will make the admittedly risky assumption that the civil war in Syria is pretty much over. That is not my conclusion only, but also an opinion voiced by an increasing number of analysts including a Russian general during an official briefing. With the fall of Aleppo and now the latest Syrian-Hezbollah-Russian move to cut off the US controlled forces from their planned move to the Iraqi border, things do indeed looks pretty bleak for the terrorists, both the “good ones” and the “bad ones”. In the Syrian-Russian-Hezbollah controlled areas, normal life is gradually returning and the Russians are pouring huge amounts of aid (food, medical supplies, de-mining, engineering, etc.) into the liberated areas. When Aleppo was under Takfiri control it was the centre of attention of the western media, now that this city has been liberated, nobody wants to hear about it lest anybody become aware of what is a huge Russian success.

Even more impressive is the nature of the Russian forces in Tartus and, especially, in Khmeinim. The Russian military TV Channel “Red Star” has recently aired two long documentaries about the Russian facilities in Syria and two things are clear: first, the Russians are going to stay for a very long time and, second, they have now completed an advanced resupply and augmentation infrastructure which can accommodate not only small and mid size aircraft and ships, but even the immense An-124. The Russian have dug in, very very deep, and they will fight very hard if attacked. Most importantly, they now have the means of bringing in more forces, including heavy equipment, in a very short time.

Again, this might be a premature conclusion, but barring any (always possible) surprises, the Russians are in, Assad stays in power, the Takfiris are out and the civil war is over.

Conversely this means that: the US lost the war, as did the KSA, Qatar, Israel, France, the UK and all the other so-called “friends of Syria”. The Iranians, Hezbollah and the Russians have won.

So what does all this really mean?

The most radical consequence of this process is that Russia is back in the Middle-East. But even that is not the full story. Not only is Russia back, but she is back in force. Even though Iran has actually made a bigger effort to save Syria, the Russian intervention, which was much smaller than the Iranian one, was far more visible and it sure looked like “Russia saved Assad”. In reality, “Russia saved Assad” is a gross over-simplification, it should be “the Syrian people, Hezbollah, Iran and Russia saved Syria”, but that is how most people will see it, for better or for worse. Of course, there is more than a kernel of truth in that view as without the Russian intervention Damascus would have probably fallen to the Daesh crazies and all the other Christian or Muslim denominations would have been more or less wiped out. Still, the perception is that Russia single-handedly changed what appeared as an inevitable outcome.

The Russian success was especially amazing when compared to the apparently endless series of defeats for the United States: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Pakistan and now the latest mess with the Saudi blockade against Qatar – the Americans just don’t see to be able to get anything done. Just the contrast between the way the US betrayed Hosni Mubarak with how the Russians stood by Assad is a powerful message to all the regional leaders: better to have the Russians on your side than the Americans.

2) How Russia transformed Turkey from an enemy to a potential ally

To say that Turkey is a crucial ally of the US and a vital member of NATO is an understatement. For one thing, Turkey has the 2nd largest army in NATO (the US being the biggest one, of course). Turkey also holds the keys to the Mediterranean, NATO’s southern flank and the northern Middle-East. Turkey has a common border with Iran and a maritime boundary with Russia (over the Black Sea). When Turkey shot down a Russian SU-24 bomber (with US complicity) the situation became so tense that many observers feared that a full-scale war would break out between the two countries and, possibly, the NATO alliance. Initially, nothing happened, the Turks took a hard stance, but following the coup against Erdogan (also with US complicity), the Turks suddenly did an amazing 180 and turned to Russia for help. The Russians were only glad too help, of course.

We will never really know what role the Russians really played in saving Erdogan, but it is pretty clear, even by his own words, that Putin did something absolutely crucial. What is indisputable is that Erdogan suddenly moved away from the US, NATO and the EU and turned to the Russians who immediately used Turkey’s ties with the Takfiris to get them out of Aleppo. Then they invited Turkey and Iran to negotiate a three way deal to end the civil war. As for the Americans, were not even consulted.

The example of Turkey is the perfect illustration of how the Russians turn “enemies into neutrals, neutrals into friends and friends into allies”. Oh sure, Erdogan is an unpredictable and, frankly, unstable character, the Americans and NATO are still in Turkey, and the Russians will never forget the Turkish support for the Takfiris in Chechnia, Crimea and Syria or, for that matter, the Turkish treacherous attack on their SU-24. But neither will they show any external signs of that. Just like with Israel, there is no love fest between Russia and Turkey, but all the parties are supremely pragmatic and so everybody is all smiles.

Why does this matter?

Because it shows how sophisticated the Russians are, how instead of using military force to avenge their SU-24, which is what the Americans would have done, they quietly but with great resolve and effort did what had to be done to “de-fuse” Turkey and “turn” it. The day following the Turkish attack Putin warned that Turkey would not “get away with just some tomatoes” (referring to the Russians sanctions against Turkish imports). Less than a year later, the Turkish military and security services got almost completely de-fanged in the purges following the coup against Erdogan and Erdogan himself flew to Moscow to ask to be accepted by the Kremlin as a friend and ally. Pretty darn impressive, if you ask me.

3) Russia and the “Chechen model” as a unique case in the Muslim world

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Chechnya, Islam, Middle East, Russia, Syria 
Yet another clumsy attempt by the Three Rogue States to weaken Iran

First, a quick who’s who

We will probably never find out what truly was discussed between Trump, the Saudis and the Israelis, but there is little doubt that the recent Saudi move against Qatar is the direct results of these negotiations. How do I know that? Because Trump himself said so! As I mentioned in a recent column, Trump’s catastrophic submission to the Neocons and their policies have left him stuck with the KSA and Israel, another two rogue states whose power and, frankly, mental sanity, are dwindling away by the minute.

While the KSA and Qatar have had their differences and problems in the past, this time around the magnitude of the crisis is much bigger than anything the past. This is a tentative and necessarily rough outline of who is supporting whom:

Supporting the Saudis (according to Wikipedia) Supporting Qatar (according to me)
United Arab Emirates , Bahrain , Egypt , Maldives , Yemen (they mean the pro-Saudi regime in exile), Mauritania , Comoros , Libya (Tobruk government), Jordan , Chad , Djibouti , Senegal , United States , Gabon. Turkey, Germany, Iran.

Questions, many questions

The situation is very fluid and all this might change soon, but do you notice something weird in the list above? Turkey and Germany are supporting Qatar even though the US is supporting the KSA. That’s two major NATO member states taking a position against the USA.

Next, look at the list supporting the Saudis: except for the USA and Egypt they are all militarily irrelevant (and the Egyptians won’t get militarily involved anyway). Not so for those opposing the Saudis, especially not Iran and Turkey. So if money is on the side of the Saudis, firepower is on the side of Qatar here.

Then, Gabon? Senegal? Since when are those two involved in Persian Gulf politics? Why are they taking sides in this faraway conflict? A quick look at the 10 conditions the Saudis demand that the Qataris fullfil does not help us understand their involvement either:

  1. Immediate severance of diplomatic relations with Iran,
  2. Expulsion of all members of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas from Qatar,
  3. Freezing all bank accounts of Hamas members and refraining from any deal with them,
  4. Expulsion of all Muslim Brotherhood members from Qatar,
  5. Expulsion of anti-[P]GCC elements,
  6. Ending support for ‘terrorist organizations’,
  7. Stopping interference in Egyptian affairs,
  8. Ceasing the broadcast of the Al Jazeera news channel,
  9. Apologizing to all [Persian] Gulf governments for ‘abuses’ by Al Jazeera,
  10. Pledging that it (Qatar) will not carry out any actions that contradict the policies of the [P]GCC and adhering to its charter.

The Saudis also handed over a list of individuals and organizations they want banned (see here).

Looking at these conditions it becomes pretty clear that Iran and the Palestinians (especially Hamas) are high on the list of demands. But why would Gabon or Senegal care about this?

More interestingly, why is ISRAEL not listed as a country supporting the KSA?

As always, the Israelis themselves are much more honest about their role in all this. Well, maybe they don’t quite say “we done it” but they write articles like “Five reasons why Israel should care about the Qatar crisis” which lists all the reasons why the Israelis are delighted:

  1. It hurts Hamas
  2. It brings Israel closer to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf
  3. It shows US influence is back in the region
  4. It delegitimizes terrorism
  5. It bolsters Israel’s hand in general and Israel’s government in particular

That kind of honesty is quite refreshing, even if it is primarily for internal, Israeli, consumption. Quick check with a Palestinian source – yup, the Israelis are backing the KSA. This is hardly surprising, no matter how hard the western corporate media tries to not notice this.

What about the USA? Do they really benefit from this crisis?

The USA has what might possibly the largest USAF base worldwide in Qatar, the Al Udeid Air Base. Furthermore, the forward headquarters of United StatesCENTCOM are also located in Qatar. To say that these are crucial US infrastructures is an understatement – one could argue that these are the most important US military facilities anywhere in the world outside the United States. Thus one would logically conclude that the very last thing the US would want is any type of crisis or even tensions anywhere near such vital facilities yet it quite clear that the Saudis and the Americans are acting in unison against Qatar. This makes no sense, right? Correct. But now that the US has embarked on a futile policy of military escalation in Syria it should come as no surprise that the two main US allies in the region are doing the same thing.

Besides, was there ever a time with the Trump Administration’s policies in the Middle-East made any logical sense at all? During the election campaign they were, shall we say, 50/50 (excellent on ISIS, plain stupid about Iran). But ever since the January coup against Flynn and Trump’s surrender to the Neocons all we have seen in one form of delusional stupidity after another.

Objectively, the crisis around Qatar is not good at all for the USA. But that does not mean that an Administration which has been taken over by hardcore ideologues is willing to accept this objective reality. What we have here is a very weak Administration running a rapidly weakening country desperately trying to prove that it has still a lot of weight to throw around. And if that is, indeed, the plan, it is a very bad one, one bound to fail and one which will result in a lot of unintended consequences.

Back to the real world

What we have here is a severe case of smoke and mirrors and what is really taking place is, yet again, a clumsy attempt by the Three Rogue States (USA, Saudi Arabia, Israel) to weaken Iran.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Iran, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia 
PastClassics
The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?
Confederate Flag Day, State Capitol, Raleigh, N.C. -- March 3, 2007
Are elite university admissions based on meritocracy and diversity as claimed?
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
The evidence is clear — but often ignored