The Unz Review • An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewMike Whitney Archive
Is North Korea a Diversion for a US-Jordan Invasion of Syria?
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information


Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Thanks, LOL, or Troll with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

“Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said that his country has information that Jordan is planning to send its troops into southern Syria in cooperation with the United States….’Jordan is not an independent country. Whatever the United States wants, it will happen,’ said Assad.”

— Middle East Monitor

“In the event of a de-facto partition of Syria, the US and its allies will get a strategically important region. It is through Deir Ezzor that the proposed gas pipeline from Qatar is supposed to run….The Deir Ezzor province is also home to Syria’s largest oil deposit, the Al-Omar. …the city and the province are of particular value since the deposits there contain the highly valuable light sweet crude usable in the production of gasoline and diesel fuel.”

— South Front, “The Stronghold of Deir Ezzor; What You Need to Know”

The United States is not going to launch a preemptive attack on North Korea. The risks far outweigh the rewards and, besides, the US has no intention of getting bogged down in a conflict that doesn’t advance its geopolitical objectives. The saber-rattling is just an attempt to divert attention from the Syria-Jordan border where the US and Jordan are massing troops and equipment for an invasion of Syria. That’s what’s really going on. The Korean fiasco is a smokescreen.

True, the Trump administration is milking the situation for all its worth, but that doesn’t mean that they want a war with the North. That’s not it at all. Washington wants to deploy its controversial THAAD anti-missile system to South Korea, but it needs a pretext to do so. Hence, the ominous threat of an “unstable, nuclear-armed North Korea”, that’s all the justification Washington needed to get its new weapons system deployed. Mission Accomplished.

But the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) isn’t aimed at North Korea, it’s aimed at China, and China knows it which is why it has protested its deployment repeatedly. The US wants to surround China and Russia with military bases and missile systems that are integrated into its broader nuclear weapons system. These lethal systems are a crucial part of Washington’s plan to pivot to Asia and rule the world into the next century. Here’s the rundown from Tass:

“Anti-missile elements that are being deployed around the world are part of a very dangerous global project aimed at securing US’ overall overwhelming superiority to the prejudice of security interests of other states….The US missile defense architecture is tilting the strategic balance of forces in the area of offensive weapons and creates more and more serious risks of global instability.” (“US anti-missile systems in Eastern Europe violate INF Treaty”)

And here’s how Russian President Vladimir Putin summed it up:

“The US is developing an anti-missile defense system which”….when it is operational… “there will be a moment in time when our entire nuclear capability will be neutralized, which means that the entire global balance of power will be overturned.. This means one of the powers will have absolute security and be able to do whatever it likes in regional conflicts. We’re talking about unrivaled power in global conflicts. ..This system forces us to create weapons that can nullify the system asymmetrically.” (Tass)

Is missile defense something the American people should want?

Heck no. Just think of the number of people that Uncle Sam has slaughtered in the last 16 years. Now try to imagine if all the constraints on Washington’s rampaging were removed allowing the US to conduct its bloody war on the world with complete impunity?

No one in their right mind would ever give the Washington crazies that kind of power. It’s a prescription for global annihilation. Besides, absolute security for one country means no security for everyone else.

But deploying the THAAD anti-missile system is just one part of Washington’s North Korea swindle. The fear-mongering is also being used to grease the wheels of the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). Here’s the scoop from The Hill:

“Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) push for a $7.5 billion fund to bulk up the U.S. military’s capabilities in the Asia-Pacific is gaining momentum as tensions with North Korea mount. The commander of U.S. forces in the region threw his support behind the idea this week, “This kind of money can help us bring together our allies and partners,” said Patrick Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. …The … proposal has gained more visibility amid the intensifying concerns over North Korea and its nuclear program.” (“McCain plan gains momentum amid North Korea threats”, The Hill)

So the MIC lackeys in Congress had already been pushing this latest boondoggle, but they needed a trumped up crisis in North Korea to put them over the finish line. Typically, the process is called “creative advertising”, which means scaring the shit out of the public so you can rip them off. Here’s more from the same article:
“I’d like to thank Chairman McCain and this committee for proposing and supporting the Asia-Pacific Stability Initiative,” Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, said at Thursday’s hearing. “This effort will reassure our regional partners and send a strong signal to potential adversaries of our persistent commitment to the region.”

The weapons manufacturers love sugar-daddy McCain who’s always on-hand with gobs of moolah.

Here’s more: “We can thank North Korea for one thing in this,” said Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest”. “They’re amplifying the imbalance in the Asia-Pacific.” (The Hill)

Good idea, let’s thank North Korea for this latest windfall for the weapons makers. Why not? Let’s send Kim a nice big valentine from the American taxpayer with John McCain’s name writ large at the bottom.

In any event, Washington’s policy towards North Korea hasn’t changed. All the chest thumping and fireworks are just part of a circus sideshow designed to justify additional defense splurging and missile deployment. At the same time, the media is trying to divert attention from critical developments in the Middle East, particularly the Syria-Jordan border where Washington has rallied its proxy-fighters into a makeshift army that will (likely) invade southern Syria, charge northward to Deir Ezzor, establish a no-fly zone over the occupied territory, and partition the area east of the Euphrates preventing loyalist forces from reestablishing Syria’s sovereign borders. That appears to be the basic game-plan. Check this out from the Middle East Monitor:

“The Syrian regime of President Bashar Al-Assad said that his country has information that Jordan is planning to send its troops into southern Syria in cooperation with the United States…

“We have this information, not only from mass media, but from different sources”…
Speaking to The Washington Post, King Abdullah of Jordan reiterated that a planned joint operation could take place against terrorists. “It is a challenge, but we are ready to face it in cooperation with the US and Britain.” (“Assad accuses Jordan of planning Syria invasion”, Middle East Monitor)

The pretext for the invasion will be to fight ISIS, but the real goal is to seize the eastern part of the country consistent with a plan that was concocted by the Brookings Institute two years ago. After 6 years of covert support for CIA-backed militants on the ground, the Trump administration appears to be leaning towards a more traditional military approach. Here’s more from the LA Times:

“Reports have also emerged of Jordanian and U.S. troops on the section of the Jordanian border opposite southwest Syria, a possible prelude to a campaign in which rebels, supported by Jordanian and coalition forces on the ground, would overrun Islamic State’s pocket in the Yarmouk basin, near southwestern Syria’s borders with Israel and Jordan.” (“How long can Jordan keep walking the Middle East tightrope?”, LA Times)

Naturally, Moscow is concerned about the developments on the Jordanian border. Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov issued a statement saying, “We will pay special attention to the issues most important for us which concern the situation on the Jordan-Syria border.”

Also worrisome, is the fact that US Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis has been traveling across the Middle East rallying Washington’s allies in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel. Mattis sees the fighting in Syria as a proxy-war between the US and Iran for influence in the region. This same erroneous view is shared by all of the main powerbrokers in the Trump administration.

“Everywhere there’s trouble in the region, you find Iran,” Mr. Mattis said on a stop in Riyadh, adding that nations in the region are working to “checkmate Iran and the amount of disruption, the amount of instability they cause.”

These latest developments take place just days before the resumption of negotiations in Astana, Kazakhstan (May 3 and 4). Russia, Turkey, Iran and a number of the leaders from the rebel groups will gather to see if they can agree on the terms of a ceasefire and an eventual settlement to the 6 year-long war. The Trump administration’s cruise missile attack on a Syrian airbase in early April has boosted the morale of many of the jihadists militias and is keeping them away from the bargaining table. In other words, Trump’s unexpected escalation has sabotaged Putin’s efforts to resolve the crisis and end the hostilities. The last thing Washington wants in Syria is peace.

A number of reports have confirmed that Trump has handed control of his foreign policy to his Generals, Mattis and McMaster. And while Mattis has shown little interest in getting more deeply involved in the Syrian conflict, McMaster sees Russia as a “hostile revisionist power” that “intimidates our allies, develops nuclear weapons, and uses proxies under the cover of modernized conventional militaries.”

McMaster is a hard-boiled militarist with a driving animus towards Russia. In a speech he delivered at The Center for Strategic and International Studies, McMaster offered this remedy for so called ‘Russian aggression’. He said: “what is required to deter a strong nation that is waging limited war for limited objectives… is forward deterrence, …(is) convincing your enemy that (he) is unable to accomplish his objectives at a reasonable cost.”

McMaster can be expected to use his “forward deterrence” theory in Syria by trying to lure Putin into a confrontation with US forces east of the Euphrates. But there’s no reason to think that Putin will fall into the trap, in fact, it seems highly unlikely given the potential for a catastrophic face-off between the two nuclear-armed superpowers. Instead, Putin will probably take the high-road, present his case to the UN Security Council, and denounce the US intervention as another example of Washington’s destabilizing and expansionistic foreign policy.

Putin’s worst mistake would be to base his strategy entirely on the situation on the battlefield. He doesn’t need to liberate every inch of Syrian soil to win the war. Let the US and its proxies seize the territory, establish their military bases and no-fly zones, throw up a DMZ along the Euphrates, and wade deeper into the Syrian morass. Putin has other fish to fry. He needs to focus on winning hearts and minds, strengthening alliances and building a broader coalition. He needs to look like the only adult in the room, the rational leader whose sole ambition is to end the dispute and restore security. He needs to establish a contrast between his behavior and that of his recklessly-violent and mentally-unstable rival, Washington, whose flagrant disregard for international law and civilian lives has plunged the Middle East and Central Asia into chaos and carnage.

If Putin’s ultimate goal is to rebuild the system of global security based on the bedrock principles of national sovereignty and greater representation for all the countries in the world, he must lead by example. Restraint and maturity in Syria will move him closer to that goal.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

(Republished from Counterpunch by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, North Korea, Syria 
Hide 20 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. Well, the plan of taking over the eastern part of Syria (whether by SA/ISIS or by US/Jordan) isn’t a move against Russia, it’s a move against Iran; breaking the Shia Crescent (Iran-Iraq-Syria-South Lebanon). And the player to watch for a possible counter-offensive move here is not Russia, but Iran and Hezbollah.

    • Replies: @El Dato
  2. I’m really wondering what the hell the Russians are going to do. Are they going to just sit back and permit the dismantling of Syria? Are they going to be cool with a DMZ west Der Eizzor? I used to give them the benefit of the doubt on this, but the shameful way they constantly let Israel bomb Syria whenever they like has me worried.

    • Replies: @Weaver
  3. The current North Korean threat was just part of the annual budget battle. The Pentagon got yet another boost ($25 billion) for no rational reason. The threat will arise next year when more money is demanded.

    Carving up Syria has four proponents:

    The Turks want to reclaim some of their land stolen by the Brits/French 100 years ago. They will also slaughter Kurds and retake land in Iraq when the time is right.

    Israel wants to reclaim some of the land “promised” to Jews thousands of years ago. Nearly all of Syria is part of the “Promised Land”. Israel took the Golan several years ago and annexed it, and wants lots more to the north as a “security buffer” that will be “settled” by Jewish immigrants from Brooklyn, while remaining Arabs are herded into walled ghettos.

    The Saudis and Qataris want a pipeline to become richer.

    And the US neocons want it to screw with Russia to end its near natgas monopoly in Europe.

  4. Ivan says:

    Is North Korea a Diversion for a US-Jordan Invasion of Syria?

    It works both ways doesn’t it? Tomahawks over Syria, while having rich chocolate cake as a warning to Xi.

  5. Renoman says:

    Let’s face it, who is going to stop the US? They have completely out gunned everyone, bases everywhere, the only choice any foe has is nuclear and that isn’t a feasible answer. The future is all wheelchairs, homos, slaves and Civil war pretty well everywhere. The only hope is to kill the 1%.

  6. Kirt says:

    Insightful and depressing. Hard to see what anyone can do about this.

  7. @Carlton Meyer

    Is North Korea a Diversion for…

    Well, yes.

    It’s been pretty obvious for some time that not much will ever change vis a vis NK because it serves the useful purpose of being a convenient diversion for (fill in the blank) and, as you point out, an excuse for more money for the military.

    It’s a very profitable cow that can be milked on demand in various ways so why change it in any substantial way?

  8. KenH says:

    At this point nothing would surprise me. Instead of America first we’re getting Israel first and MIC first.

    The new fairy tale is that if we can get rid of Assad then ISIS savages and other “rebel” groups will lay down their arms, become couch potatoes addicted to reality TV and sign up for Jeffersonian democracy with Alawites, Christians and other groups they wish to murder.

    This is similar to when we were told during Iraq War II that once we “git” Saddam the insurgency would peter out and Iraq would turn into San Francisco in the Levant which would force other Muslim nations in the region to secularize and democratize. We know how that worked out.

    So we’ll march in to Syria to depose Assad and when things go horribly awry the the presstitute media and Trump will be ready with a new farrago of lies to convince the nation that they’re doing the lord’s work.

    • Agree: jacques sheete
  9. @Carlton Meyer

    Many good points in that vid.

    One point needs emphasis and it’s that the CIA has been meddling in the Mideast for more than the 40 years he mentioned at the beginning. If one includes Iran as part of the area in question, the CIA has been meddling there since at least 1953.

    A couple of other significant points follow.

    1. While the CIA has been probably been meddling in foreign government since it was created in 1947 , the US has been meddling with foreign governments since before Perry, with his Black Ships, extorted special concessions from Japan in 1853. Marine MG S. Butler addressed the issue in 1935 if not before.

    2. Oil, and who was to control access to, and distribution of it played a huge role in both WW1 and WW2.

    3. The CIA was created during Truman’s reign, and that guy was a truly clueless nutball. He not only nuked the already prostrate Japanese people, but he tried to blame the people of the US for the bombing at Pearl harbor by desperate Japanese militarists. The hubristic clown was way out of his element, and although he reigned in the nuthouse known as DC, he should have been in a locked psych ward.

    Truman endeavored to court martial the American people.

    “The country,” he said, “was not ready for preparedness…. I think the country is as much to blame as any individual in this final situation that developed in Pearl Harbor.”3

    – George Morgenstern, Pearl Harbor: The Story of the Secret War, 1947, p311

    Footnote 3, referenced, is well worth a read as well, particularly as it relates to the topic of military funding that you brought up.

    • Replies: @MEexpert
  10. DanC says:

    There’s another angle to the plans for chopping out the eastern part of Syria.

    Israel has been quietly developing plans for joining the New Silk Road by means of a railway built from Israel into Jordan, north through Jordan and north through the eastern part of Syria into Turkey, where it will join the Turkish One Belt, One Road infrastructure. Turkey has already completed pilot rail runs, and will be opening the OBOR line on May 15

    Once the Israelis are linked in, plans are to take the railway link through Egypt to East Africa.

    Of course, the Israelis want a North-South strip of Syrian territory to be firmly in US/Israeli hands before they start building the line.

    This does raise the interesting question of how the Israelis will balance the hatred felt by the US neocon/neoliberal cliques toward Asian continental integration … which will surely lead to the eclipse of the US empire. I’m sure they’ll finesse the issue.

  11. abc says:

    No dum dum it will be Egypt

  12. El Dato says:
    @Mao Cheng Ji

    breaking the Shia Crescent

    But how do you break something which exists only inside the beltway reality distortion field?

    Let’s be clear: the “Shia Crescent” is just a sticker on a box that you definitely don’t want to buy. Same as the “Domino Theory”, used to sell the bombing, agent-oranging and concentration-camping of slit-eyed peasants.

    The result was some Khmer Rouge.

    Saudi Arabic extremism west of the Tigris will not be fun either.

  13. El Dato says:

    The US and Jordan are massing troops and equipment for an invasion of Syria.

    We need more information on this.

    How many US troops are hanging around over there? I haven’t heard of large deployments.

    The Jordanian military is not renowned for its capabilities in taking over and holding a large territory either. A military adventure may make the King’s throne an uneasy spot to sit in. I’m sure there will be some hesitation in Jordan about getting onboard any US-Saudi trainride to hell.

    • Replies: @Weaver
  14. Erebus says:

    America is currently in 2 wars. The big one, driven by the Imperial Imperative to prevent the rise of any rivals, is the War on Eurasian Integration. Meanwhile, America is distracted by, and occasionally gets dragged into, the war its parasite is fighting, namely the War for Greater Israel. These often overlap, and it is the principal focus of the Neocons to maximize the overlap, even to the point where the WEI effort is compromised. Together, these two wars are known as the War on Terror and as one of the architects of this war said, “… it will not end in our lifetime”.


    Is North Korea a Diversion for a US-Jordan Invasion of Syria?

    Well, yes it may well serve that function, but it is primarily a tactical development in the WEI. It seems some E. Asian vassals are in danger of going off script and it’s become necessary to “kill the chicken to scare the monkey”. Actually, several monkeys lest American encirclement of the Eurasian continent break down.

  15. Weaver says:
    @Seamus Padraig

    Just what would you have them do? Oil is cheap currently. Commodities in general have fallen.

  16. MEexpert says:
    @jacques sheete

    CIA’s first victim was the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan, who was assassinated in 1951.

    • Replies: @Alden
  17. Ma Laoshi says:

    Mr. Whitney may well correctly describe the thinking of Russian elites, and that worries me. Their priority seems to lie in acceptance by the West, at almost any price. As a logical consequence, the Kremlin’s Syria policy has been to invite the Americans in, instead of trying to push them out. Small wonder if the latter help themselves to what bases and oil fields they can get their hands on. So often one sees the claim “Russia is proving itself to be the grown-up party”. Problem with that is that the most relevant arbiter for it is the NATO press, which has just committed itself to a narrative “Putin helped Assad gas his babies”. The idea that the Kremlin can win a better image for itself by being nice and responsible… may be a bit naive.

    These things are not firstly about right and wrong, but about power. If a Syria-in-ruins won’t regain control of its energy resources and borders, in what sense will the war have been “won”? If Russia signs off on a carve-up of Syria, as already de facto has happened with the Turkish invasion, how many allies will Russia get/deserve? Egypt and India are largely back in Uncle Sam’s orbit, and also the recent elections in Netherlands and France have handily gone NATO’s way. Looks to me like Russia is being squeezed badly. If Syria ends up Balkanized this round will have gone to the Empire, whether Assed stays or not.

  18. Alden says:

    Why was he assassinated? USA was pro Pakistan at the time because India was pro Russia at the time. Was the PM insufficiently pro American and anti Russian abd China at the time?

Current Commenter

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone

 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments have been licensed to The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Commenting Disabled While in Translation Mode
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Mike Whitney Comments via RSS