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
Obama Stepped Back from Brink, Will Hillary?
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

The American people need to understand what’s going on in Syria. Unfortunately, the major media only publish Washington-friendly propaganda which makes it difficult to separate fact from fiction. The best way to cut through the lies and misinformation, is by using a simple analogy that will help readers to see that Syria is not in the throes of a confusing, sectarian civil war, but the victim of another regime change operation launched by Washington to topple the government of Bashar al Assad.

With that in mind, try to imagine if striking garment workers in New York City decided to arm themselves and take over parts of lower Manhattan. And, let’s say, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decided that he could increase his geopolitical influence by recruiting Islamic extremists and sending them to New York to join the striking workers. Let’s say, Trudeau’s plan succeeds and the rebel militias are able to seize a broad swathe of US territory including most of the east coast stretching all the way to the mid-west. Then– over the course of the next five years– these same jihadist forces proceed to destroy most of the civilian infrastructure across the country, force millions of people from their homes and businesses, and demand that President Obama step down from office so they can replace him with an Islamic regime that would enforce strict Sharia law.

How would you advise Obama in a situation like this? Would you tell him to negotiate with the people who invaded and destroyed his country or would you tell him to do whatever he thought was necessary to defeat the enemy and restore security?

Reasonable people will agree that the president has the right to defend the state and maintain security. In fact, national sovereignty and security are the foundation upon which the international order rests. However, neither the US media nor the US congress nor the White House nor the entire US foreign policy establishment agree with this simple, straightforward principle, that governments have the right to defend themselves against foreign invasion. They all believe that the US has the unalienable right to intervene wherever it chooses using whatever means necessary to execute its regime change operations.

In the case of Syria, Washington is using “moderate” jihadists to topple the elected government of Bashar al Assad. Keep in mind, that no even disputes WHAT the US is doing in Syria (regime change) or that the US is using a proxy army to accomplish its objectives. The only area of debate, is whether these “moderates” are actually moderates at all, or al Qaida. That’s the only point on which their is some limited disagreement. (Note: Nearly everyone who follows events closely on the ground, knows that the moderates are al Qaida)

Doesn’t that strike you as a bit bizarre? How have we gotten to the point where it is “okay” for the US to topple foreign governments simply because their agents are “moderate” troublemakers rather than “extremist” troublemakers?

What difference does it make? The fact is, the US is using foreign-born jihadists to topple another sovereign government, the same as it used neo Nazis in Ukraine to topple the government, the same as it used US troops to topple the sovereign government in Iraq, and the same as it used NATO forces to topple the sovereign government in Libya. Get the picture? The methods might change, but the policy is always the same. And the reason the policy is always the same is because Washington likes to pick its own leaders, leaders who invariably serve the interests of its wealthy and powerful constituents, particularly Big Oil and Israel. That’s how the system works. Everyone knows this already. Washington has toppled or attempted to topple more than 50 governments since the end of WW2. The US is a regime change franchise, Coups-R-Us.

Hillary Clinton is a charter member of the regime change oligarchy. She is a avid Koolaid drinker and an devoted believer in American “exceptionalism”, which is the belief that ‘If the United States does something, it must be good.’

Hillary also believes that the best way to resolve the conflict in Syria is by starting a war with Russia. Here’s what she said on Sunday in her debate with Donald Trump:

Clinton: “The situation in Syria is catastrophic. And every day that goes by, we see the results of the regime by Assad in partnership with the Iranians on the ground, the Russians in the air…I, when I was secretary of state, I advocated and I advocate today a no-fly zone and safe zones.”

Repeat: “I advocate today a no-fly zone and safe zones.”

This is a very important point. Hillary has supported no-fly zones from Day 1 despite the fact that–by her own admission– the policy would result in massive civilian casualties. And civilian casualties are not the only danger posed by no-fly zones. Consider the warning by America’s top soldier, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford. In response to a question from Senator Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) on the potential dangers of trying to “control Syrian airspace,” Dunford answered ominously, “Right now… for us to control all of the airspace in Syria would require us to go to war against Syria and Russia.”

This is the Hillary Doctrine in a nutshell: Confront the Russians in Syria and start WW3. If there’s another way to interpret Dunford’s answer, then, please, tell me what it is?

Hillary also added that, “we have to work more closely with our partners and allies on the ground.”

This means that the Obama-CIA policy of supporting militant jihadists on the ground to topple an elected government will continue just as it has for the last five years. Is that what Hillary supporters want; more intervention, more escalation, more Iraqs, more Syrias?

She also said this: “I do support the effort to investigate for crimes, war crimes committed by the Syrians and the Russians and try to hold them accountable.”

Readers should pause for a minute and really try to savor the convoluted absurdity of Clinton’s comments. As we pointed out in our analogy, Putin and Assad are trying to reestablish the central governments control over the country to establish security the same as if Obama found it necessary to fight armed rebels in lower Manhattan. Governments have the right to govern their country. This shouldn’t be hard to understand. What Hillary is proposing is that the Syrian and Russians (who were invited by Assad) be prosecuted for fulfilling the sworn duty of every elected leader while –at the same time– the countries (like the US) that have (by their own admission) armed, trained and financed foreign invaders that have torn the country to shreds and killed more than 400,000 civilians, be let off Scott-free.

It is a great tribute to our propagandist western media, that someone like Hillary can make a thoroughly asinine statement like this and not be laughed off the face of the earth. By Hillary’s logic, Obama could be prosecuted for war crimes if civilians were killed while he attempted to liberate lower Manhattan. The whole idea is ridiculous.

Here’s another Hillary gem from the debate:

“I do think the use of special forces, which we’re using, the use of enablers and trainers in Iraq, which has had some positive effects, are very much in our interests, and so I do support what is happening.”

“Positive effects”?

What positive effects? 400,000 people are dead, 7 million more are ether internally displaced or refugees, and the country has been reduced to a Fulluja-like rubble. There are no “positive effects” from Hillary’s war. It’s been a complete and utter catastrophe. The only success she can claim, is the fact that the sleazebag Democratic leadership and their thoroughly-corrupt media buddies have been more successful in hiding the details of their depredations from the American people. Otherwise its been a dead-loss.

Here’s more Hillary:

I would go after Baghdadi. I would specifically target Baghdadi, because I think our targeting of Al Qaida leaders —”

Baghdadi, Schmaghdadi; who gives a rip? When has the CIA’s immoral assassination program ever helped to reduce the fighting, ever diminished the swelling ranks of terrorist organizations, or ever made the American people safer?

Never, that’s when. The whole thing is a fu**ing joke. Hillary just wants another trophy for her future presidential library, a scalp she can hang next to Gadhafi’s. The woman is sick!

Here’s one last quote from the debate::

“I would also consider arming the Kurds. The Kurds have been our best partners in Syria, as well as Iraq. And I know there’s a lot of concern about that in some circles, but I think they should have the equipment they need so that Kurdish and Arab fighters on the ground are the principal way that we take Raqqa after pushing ISIS out of Iraq.”

Obama is arming the Kurds already, but the Kurds have no interest in seizing Raqqa because it is not part of their traditional homeland and because it doesn’t help them achieve the contiguous landmass they seek for their own state. Besides, arming the Kurds just pisses off Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan who provides a critical airstrip at Incirlik from which the US carries out most of its airstrikes on enemy targets in Syria. In other words, Clinton doesn’t know what the heck she’s talking about.

While there’s no time to get into Hillary’s role in starting the war in Syria, there is a very thorny situation that developed last week that’s worth considering for those people who still plan to cast their vote for Clinton in the November election.

Here’s a quick rundown of what happened: Last Wednesday, the Washington Post leaked a story stating that the Obama administration was considering whether it should directly attack Syrian assets on the ground, in other words, conduct a covert, low-intensity war directly against the regime. (rather than just using proxies.)

On Thursday, the Russian Ministry of Defense spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov announced that Moscow had deployed state of the art defensive weapons systems (S-300 and S-400 air defense missile systems) to the theater and was planning to use them if Syrian or Russian troops or installations were threatened.

In a televised statement, Konashenkov said: “It must be understood that Russian air defense missile crews will unlikely have time to clarify via the hotline the exact flight program of the missiles or the ownership of their carriers.”

Referring to the provocative article in the Washington Post,Konashenkov added: “I would recommend our colleagues in Washington carefully weigh possible consequences of the fulfillment of such plans.”

The Russians were saying as clearly as possible that if US warplanes attacked either Russian installations or Syrian troops they would be shot down immediately. Reasonable people can assume that the downing of a US warplane would trigger a war with Russia.

Fortunately, there are signs that Obama got the message and put the kibosh on the (Pentagon’s?) ridiculous plan. Here’s a clip from an article at The Duran which may be the best news I’ve read about Syria in five years. This story broke on Friday and has been largely ignored by the major media:

“Following Russian warning of American aircraft being shot down, White House spokesman confirms plan for U.S. air strikes on Syria has been rejected….White House spokesman Josh Earnest confirmed this speaking to reporters on Thursday 6th October 2016.

“The president has discussed in some details why military action against the Assad regime to try to address the situation in Aleppo is unlikely to accomplish the goals that many envisioned now in terms of reducing the violence there. It is much more likely to lead to a bunch of unintended consequences that are clearly not in our national interest.” (“U.S. backs down over Syria after Russian threat to shoot down American aircraft,” Alexander Mercouris, The Duran)

As critical as I’ve been of Obama over the years, I applaud him for his good judgment. While the Pentagon warhawks and foreign policy hardliners are relentlessly pushing for a direct confrontation with Russia, Obama has wisely pulled us back from the brink of disaster.

The question is: Would Hillary do the same?

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: Russia, Syria 
Hide 16 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. It wasn’t the “Pentagon’s Plan.” It was Obama’s and when brought face to face with the consequences he backed off. I doubt he will push things at this point as he has less than 100 days left to him. But, if Hillary is elected, she’s just stupid enough to give some very evil, stupid orders.

    In the choice between Trump and Hillary, Trump I the lesser danger. I just hope enough of the US electorate get’s over its collective insanity long enough to reject Hillary.

    • Replies: @giles
  2. Diogenes says:

    It’s in the pubic record that most informed and competent commentators answer to Mikes question is that Hillary is very likely to challenge Russia militarily. She has a well established record of being a warmonger, a military interventionist an a Russophobe in which case she would pose a clear and present danger of escalating the military posture toward Russia in a dangerous way. Moreover it is likely she will surround her self with likeminded Neoconservatives, Russophobes and war hawks which very likely will result in a military confrontation with Russia or China over some disputed territory or political issue.
    Yet in spite of this sober assessment of Hillary’s proclivities the educated and affluent American middle classes , namely Liberal Americans , will vote for her and put their educated affluent asses at risk and bring further mayhem to helpless peoples who find themselves in the way of American interventionists. Try to reconcile the contradictions of this if you can?

    Finally, how is it that a Type A, immoral, avaricious ladder climbing careerist, in comparison to all the other fine virtuous Americans should find her way to the top of the establishment pyramid and likely put everybody else at risk because of her imperious ambitions? Try to reconcile the contradictions of this if you can?

    • Replies: @highrpm
    , @another fred
  3. The media lying so blatantly about how the Syria disaster began and unfolded can’t be explained just by saying the media is liberal and they protect Democrats.

    None of what’s going on in the Middle East makes sense unless you realise 1) the main reason for the destruction of these states is to benefit Israel, and 2) the American media is mostly run by overseas Israelis.

    Readers of this site know it but how many viewers of the debate know it?

    I agree with Mike Whitney’s frustration: “The whole thing is a fu**ing joke.”

  4. The question is: Would Hillary do the same?

    I doubt it.

    The American people (collectively) expect their President to control things with very little insight into whether or not all things can be controlled.

    Hillary and her retinue are not running on a George McGovern “peace” platform, they are saying that they are smarter and will do a better job than the Republicans. It’s “Any thing you can do I can do better.”

    As Mr Whitney observes, Obama backed off when he saw how deep the water was getting. I don’t think Hillary can back off, she has to prove she has the “balls” for the job.

    She will have the same problem LBJ had, her base will not follow far into that quagmire. Syria will be a lot more “front page” than the hills of Afghanistan.

    I expect Hillary to win and I expect the next four years to be very interesting.

    • Replies: @giles
  5. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    John Kerry keeps accidentally telling the truth.

    At the meeting last week, Mr. Kerry was trying to explain that the United States has no legal justification for attacking Mr. Assad’s government, whereas Russia was invited in by the government.

    Kerry then said it was basically hopeless.

    “The problem is that, you know, you get, quote, enforcers in there and then everybody ups the ante, right? Russia puts in more, Iran puts in more; Hezbollah is there more and Nusra is more; and Saudi Arabia and Turkey put all their surrogate money in, and you all are destroyed.”

    This is the reality. Regime change is sort of against international law and the UN Charter. Even if we ‘got permission’ from the UN (Impossible since Russia has a veto), we would still lack the ability to actually do more than preside over a civil war, with no end in sight.

    The last time that Congress had a chance to vote to go to war in Syria … there was zero enthusiasm from the Republicans. Yet here we are. Openly bombing. Not to mention acknowledged special forces on the ground. The US has lost another war. Time to admit it and cut losses. Hillary is another LBJ.

  6. Anonymous [AKA "Brian Concannon"] says: • Website

    Obama is an evil 75% ZionistAngloCIA puppet, who finally saw the light and walked away from our abyss, while Killary would be more like a 95% puppet, which would be more than enough to cause WW3 and our human extinction

  7. highrpm says:

    not hard to reconcile at all. from several perspectives, all reasonably accurate takes on life.

    alphas’ single purpose in life is to get to the top of the pack.

    its the few percentage of disordered personalities who make life miserable for the rest of us.

    pyschologists advise the victims of chronic abusers of only one action: leave.

    if voters can’t see all three of the above attributes in hillary, they deserve what they’ll get.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  8. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Kerry then said it was basically hopeless.

    “The problem is that, you know, you get, quote, enforcers in there and then everybody ups the ante, right? Russia puts in more, Iran puts in more; Hezbollah is there more and Nusra is more; and Saudi Arabia and Turkey put all their surrogate money in, and you all are destroyed.”

    Good old John, he forgot the name of only one involved country.

  9. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    You sound like the unlucky one or two independent out of 100.
    Social animals live in herds, where the usually innerly putrescent but outwardly shining blobs of will-to-power resembling humans are at the head, venerated by the rest, in the name of the pecking order.

    The free of mind who dares speak out and tell the blob-Emperor is naked will find himself encircled by the hens; the hens will be still angrier than the cock itself.

    This satisfies very understandable self-preservation requisites for socially organized species (as social organization itself does).

    Being free means being banished, being banished meant death (today it means academic death, journalistic death, political death, or earns the mark of “troll”). So, no, for millennia human brains have been selected for being Emperors, or subjects who can convince themselves of their eye’s error, believe the naked Emperor’s dress most lush, and be the first to go at the odd free-minded one, should he dare utter a grain of truth.

    Obviously they don’t see who is Clinton, who the Bush actually are (despite most of them think they loathe the Bush), nor the game or the players.

    • Replies: @giles
  10. @Diogenes

    Yet in spite of this sober assessment of Hillary’s proclivities the educated and affluent American middle classes , namely Liberal Americans , will vote for her and put their educated affluent asses at risk and bring further mayhem to helpless peoples who find themselves in the way of American interventionists. Try to reconcile the contradictions of this if you can?

    It’s enough to make one question the value of democracy … unless you believe in evolution and that people should be free to make as big a mess as they can so that evolution can do its work.

    VOTE, n. The instrument and symbol of a freeman’s power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country. – Ambrose Bierce, “The Devil’s Dictionary”

    Busy, busy, busy.

  11. woodNfish says:

    As critical as I’ve been of Obama over the years, I applaud him for his good judgment.

    It was that obama’s “good judgement” that put us in the situation the dumbass had to “step back from”.

  12. attonn says:

    Hillary won’t start armed conflict with Russia.
    That’s exactly why she is being promoted to the presidency – because she is tried a true conformist and a status quo figure. She’ll do as she is told by the foreign policy wonks.
    It’ll be nothing more than another Obama presidency, only with a steadily worsening economy and mounting domestic instability.

    I suspect Trump is feared in Washington in large part because he is seen as far more unpredictable, with a short fuse, imperial, impulsive and prone to using force. His compliments for Russia now all but ensure his shift to militant anti-Russian stance once he becomes president – in order to restore balance and fend-off accusations of double loyalty, if nothing else.

    So for Russia the outcome of this contest has to be irrelevant.

    Whoever wins, due to the immense budgetary pressures America has no other options but to gradually retreat from the global policeman role.
    That’s exactly what Clinton or Trump presidency will be all about.
    Probably masked by the tough rhetoric but it’ll be retreat nevertheless.

    If Hillary manages to serve two terms, by the end of her rule US armed forces will be significantly downsized and half or more of overseas bases closed. America’s military will be mostly black/brown, accident-prone, and lacking cohesion.
    If Trump wins, he may squeeze a bit more juice out of the stone by simply cracking down on Beltway corruption, but the end result will be the same, just with a few years lag.

    US-Russia confrontation will be determined not by who outfights whom but by who outlasts its adversary. I suspects this time it may very well be Russia that comes out on top. The West is in full self-destruction mode, and all Russians need to do to win is sit and wait. The way it goes, it shouldn’t take too long.

  13. Olly says:

    Mike you are ABSOLUTELY one of the very, very best. Logic. Morals. Common sense. Values. Pride. History. Rational. Pragmatic. Not free market.

  14. giles says:

    By analogy this is a post atomic nazi germany on the eve of invading soviet russia in mid 1941 except our weapons reduce years to days. Actually the german generals were ready to face off with the ss and depose the fuhrer in 1938 with help from the british but chamberlain jumped the gun and flew to munich.

    cut to mid 1944 post d day. The general staff is desperate to end the war. Operation valkyrie would have worked but for a last minute error.

    Not suggesting another such op but a political one. Some say the german people were blinded by fuhrer addiction. Some say the american people are binded by msm addiction.

    If we are the push of a button away from devastation by emp let alone nbc warfare when we are in checkmate and a furious leader would flip over the grand chessboard and drag us down to hell do we have the balls to say NO?

  15. giles says:

    Didn’t we all think two year old trump would be the first one to say the emperor has no clothes out loud and empower the rest? Didn’t we relish telling off the sjw toadies that all lives matter and mexico has a stronger southern border than ours?

    But when baby trump met mommy clinton face to face in front of the whole world….nothing. more clowning. The two year old mask of plausible deniability did not drop. Trump lost his balls. He babbled but never explicitly challenged mommy,
    wasting 90 minutes of the world’s time. Trump is not a two year old.
    He is not a movie mobster alluding to an enemy swimming with the fishes.
    He is capable of getting tough. So when does he get tough? A mafia don cannot just make movie jokes about firing the current boss. He has to fire.

    Donny had his chance. He lost his balls.

  16. giles says:
    @another fred

    The next four months, Historical time is exponentially compressed. Trump may be a shill a wimp or the leader of. Solidarity. In any case syria is no quagmire rather a trigger. Russia china and israel were almost crushed by enemies. Never again is not understood by americans. If we don’t wise up and abort the brzezinsky doctrine we will learn too late what happens when you mess with a nuclear equipped post traumatic stress disorder victim. Trump is right about america first. Wish he had the balls to remove the numbnut neocons and negotiate deals.

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
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Mike Whitney Comments via RSS