Is the US Headed Towards War in Syria?

Yves here. This Real News Network interview with Lawrence Wilkerson, not surprisingly, is pretty sobering. The rush transcript didn’t have apostrophes, so I added them as best I could, but there are sure to be some spots I missed.

SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.

The Obama administration is currently considering a proposal to send more arms to CIA backed anti Assad forces in Syria. According to the Washington Post, Obama has not made a decision yet and could leave it up to whoever wins the election in November. This of course raises questions of what would a President Hillary Clinton or President Donald Trump do in Syria? This has also been the topic at the presidential debates, recently.

Joining us to discuss the Clinton’s’ and Trump’’s approach as to foreign policy is Larry Wilkerson. Larry is a retired United States army soldier and former Chief of Staff to the United States Secretary of State Colin Powell. He’s also just published an article in National Interest, written together with Gordon Adams about this topic. Larry thank you so much for joining us today.

LARRY WILKERSON: Thanks for having me Sharmini.

PERIES: So Larry in your recent piece titled No Hillary Clinton’’s Foreign Policy Judgment Isn’’t As Good As Everyone Says, you argued that a case for Clinton as a better foreign policy president on the basis on knowledge and experience. Now factoring all of this in, what’’s going on in Washington in terms of how they should behave or what foreign policy actions or military actions need to be taking place in Syria. How do you think Hillary Clinton would act?

WILKERSON: I’’m very concerned about it. I can tell you that right up front. Her posture with regard to Syria in general when she was secretary of state and some of the remarks she’s made during the campaign, lead me to believe that she’’ll be very bellicose with regard to Syria. I hope I’’m wrong. I hope a better judgement prevails. But as I said in the National Interest article, I,’m not all that convinced of it. That’’s based primarily on her track record with regard to Libya which is now a disaster, and it’’s my understanding that she was one of the if not the principle advocates of action in Libya when President Obama somewhat reluctantly decided to do it, following NATO into that country. And she was also an advocate of the war in Iraq and regime change there. So in those two instances, her judgement was flawed, seriously flawed you could argue, and based on her rhetoric with regards towards Syria, I certainly don’’t want to see that kind of judgement continued in that regard.

PERIES: And in the recent debate, she was advocating a no fly zone over Syria. What does that mean and what implications will it have in terms of geopolitical allegiances at this time?

WILKERSON: We’’re not dealing with a Libyan air force or an Iraqi air force or indeed a Syrian air force. What we’’re dealing with here is Russian air forces perhaps even as you and I were discussing eventually Chinese air forces, so they’’re not there now I don’’t think, and the Syrian air forces. So if we go in to establish a no fly zone and we’re serious about it, the first airplane that penetrates that zone is all important because you’ve just about got to shoot it down. If it’s a Russian airplane, you’re in trouble because you’ve now performed an act of war against Russia and Syria. What that means, we’ll just have to wait and see but I don’’t think it’ll mean anything good for either side, or ultimately for Syria.

So we’’re talking about if we lay down something like a no fly zone and say this is it as of midnight on such and such a time, no aircraft can fly through here. And suddenly 5 minutes later even, a Russian aircraft flies though, we have two choices. We shoot it down and risk war with Russia and that has all kinds of ramifications that are outside Syria as well as in Syria. Or we back off our claim and look like ineffectual boobs. I don’’t think either of those outcomes is conducive to US national security interests so I don’’t think we should go there in the first place.

PERIES: Larry recently I did an interview with former CIA analyst, Ray McGovern and he said that President Putin in Russia, sees the next few months before potential Clinton presidency as a window of opportunity for consolidating Russia’’s position in the Ukraine and in Syria. Now many world leaders are predicting that a Clinton, as you have just done, will likely to escalate the situation particularly in Syria that this is an area that President Obama has been restrained with. Do you think that Ray is correct, that Putin consolidating his power and will Hillary Clinton in her assessment, go ahead on with Putin?

WILKERSON: I’’m concerned about it, as I said before because of her previous actions and because of some of the people she has advising her that look a lot like the people who were advising George W. Bush in his first administration from 2001-2005 of which I was a rather intimate member. So I am concerned about it. I hope that once she is in the Oval Office and if she indeed she’s elected and she gets all the briefings and is brought up to speed and so forth. And she gets the council of her military leaders, she will be more circumspect and be more rational let us say than she is sometimes compelled to be on the political circuit and on the campaign trail. That’’s my hope. But as I said, based on her track record, I have some concern. Perhaps not as much as Ray but I still have some concern.

PERIES: Now there’’s been a number of other defense analyst in recent years who argue that the president has relatively little room to maneuver because the intelligence community, the Defense Department and the State Department are the ones that really policy strategy. To what extent is that correct, science you’ve been at the center of all of this?

WILKERSON: Defense Department does have an enormous amount of influence on the national security decision making process. There’’s no question about that. As do other nefarious influences like Lockheed-Martin, Halliburton and all the usual suspects we’ve heard about who influence congressional decision making and ultimately influence where the money goes and so forth. I think probably in this particular instance though with regard to Syria, what I’’m hearing is the military and particularly the joint chiefs of staff are reluctant to enter this trade with potential for starting a shooting war with Russia.

So I hope that what I’m hearing is correct and that they will act as a break on anything precipitant military action that secretary, then President Clinton or President Trump for that matter, would be willing or want to order.

Let me just say that Trump has been all over the sheet of music if you will on this. But the remarks I have heard that resonate with me are those that would keep us out of these small wars on the periphery of empire if you will. They cost a fortune in blood and treasure and don’’t really promise to and rarely do solve anything. They certainly don’’t bring peace to instable regions and regions in conflict that Syria is today. They just make things worse.

PERIES: Then finally Larry, when Hillary Clinton became the Secretary of State and then there was this very public pronouncement of resetting relations with Russia, what went wrong? Why are we where we are now where she’s accusing the Russians of hacking into emails and as you know there’’s controversy over what she actually said in the debate in terms of the Russian involvement in all of this. Why is she escalating this and what went wrong with resetting the relations with Russia?

WILKERSON: What went wrong with resetting the relationship was us. The US of A. We have wasted no opportunity to make Mr. Putin more powerful politically in his own country. As soon as he figured out that sticking his fingers in Washington’s eyes was a winning political formula, you could guarantee you were going to get more fingers in our eyes. More so than that, geopolitically and geostrategically, that is to say in the heart of Russia’’s near abroad we have been making moves from Ukraine to Georgia. And we have been making moves that anyone including myself, being the ruler of a country first erstwhile great power and seeing it happen would be responding to and responding to with the elements of national power which I have that can compensate for weakness that I have too.

By that I mean I’d be responding with everything from cyber warfare to little green men, to whatever I had that was competent and powerful in my arsenal that I felt like I could win with against the United States and ultimately against NATO. That’’s precisely what Putin has been doing. You could almost sit down and map it. Every time we make a mistake they capitalize on that mistake. I don’’t just mean mistakes as in execution or mistakes in being in somewhere where we shouldn’t be at in a particular time. I mean policy mistakes. The policy mistake most glaringly pushing ourselves into Russia’’s near abroad and NATO along with us with ballistic missile defense, with exercises and so forth.

If I were Putin I would’ve responded the same way. I think that I’d have been just as smart as he has and I’d capitalize on my streets against weaknesses and I would’ve gained the political capital that he’s gained in the course of this time. It’’s not all totally our fault but a whole lot of it is.

PERIES: So if we are collecting our thoughts here, Larry Russian, Chinese now, possibly Iranian collaboration over Syria are serious times.

WILKERSON: And Russia exercising for the first time since the death of Anwar Sadat with the Egyptians. Russia selling major armaments to the Egyptians for the first time since I think about that same time period. The world is changing. Power is shifting and the United States needs not to be fearful of such changes but it needs to be a lot smarter of how it plays those changes to its own benefits.

One of the things it needs to be most hard about is fear of deployments of its own military forces to get engaged in things like we’ve been engaged in for the past 20 years. Things like Afghanistan, things like Iraq, things like Syria and so forth. We really have no capability to influence these conflicts, these basically civil wars and so forth. Trying to do so from the opening as we did in Afghanistan with Mujahideen for example by having the CIA essentially arm everybody that we can find that looks like he might be a freedom fighter, only to discover months or maybe half a year or so later that they’’re anything but freedom fighters.

Indeed, they’’re using some of the weapons that we sold them on our troops or on our own formations is just not the answer. It simply doesn’’t work clandestinely or openly to the support elements in these conflicts that we know basically don’’t have a hare’s breath chance of winning. The mistake in Syria has been as I said all along. That is our attempt to get rid of Bashar al-Assad. We need to face up to that mistake. We need to be more receptive to his remaining in power and some guys. The best we can probably get at the negotiating table is that maybe he’ll be gone sometime in the unspecified future.

But we need to understand that sometimes we have to give a little too, especially if we want to stop the bloodshed in Syria which is reaching proportions where everyone in the world ought to be appalled at.

PERIES: Alright Larry. I look forward to your report next week as things really escalate and intensify over Syria. Thank you for joining us.

WILKERSON: Well let’s hope that no one else decides to throw in their lot with the forces in Syria. China and Russia are quite enough, thank you very much.

PERIES: Indeed. I thank you again and thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.

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  1. rusti

    I wonder if anyone will listen to the voices of sanity like Wilkerson or Bacevich or W. Patrick Lang who suggest that it might be prudent to have some sort of strategy that represents the interests of the broader American population and not just “defense” contractors. The only quibble I have with the interview is:

    Now many world leaders are predicting that a Clinton, as you have just done, will likely to escalate the situation particularly in Syria that this is an area that President Obama has been restrained with.

    It’s an interesting state of affairs when “restraint” still entails spending billions of dollars intervening in the civil war of another country while there are more than 10 million children in the US living in families with incomes below the poverty line.

    1. Praedor

      THAT IS precisely what you should be concerned about. Obama is “restraint” with all his droning, bombing, weapon giveaways, “training”…so think what a less “restrained” Hillary psychopath will be like.

    2. craazyboy

      Don’t forget our Pacific and our colonies Japan, the United States of Korea, the sometimes uppity, but generally loyal, Philippines, Viet Nam and SE Asia. Any new islands discovered in our western sea are rightfully ours as well. We must keep The Spice shipping lanes open.

  2. Dameocrat

    She’s running a very right wing campaign. Saying you should never question general or election results. She openly prowar and openly agitating against Russia. Her latest antiTrump commercial with Morgan Freedman shows and image of Bernie when he talks of rejecting the politics of “Drama and Division. She’s doing everything she can to insult liberal democrats and has the endorsement of most major neocons. Progressive have been completely disenfranchised, and if the polls are correct they will vote for her anyway out of fear for Trump.

    1. craazyboy

      The definition of “Progressive” nowadays is when you make a political ad with a conservative black dude.

  3. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    Clinton is neck deep in anti-Russian propaganda to the extent that she’s accusing Trump of being some kind of GRU agent. I think you have to go back to the earliest days of the Republic to find politicans flinging that kind of mud. She may be cynically playing the neo cons to get their support….but they don’t exactly have a constituency anymore outside the DC bubble. So I’m inclined to think she’s serious.

    My prediction is some incident will be staged to make it look like Russians attacked some US something and then an ultimatum will be issued and NATO’s Article 5 will be invoked and then it’s time to put your head between your legs and kiss it goodbye, because if they think Russia will roll over like the Soviets did in Cuba, I think they’re mistaken. Well at least the gays don’t need to worry about being sent to concentration camps by Trump. (And yes, I have friends who are seriously concerned this is going to be their fate if he wins.)

    1. L Sewell

      The Russians didn’t “roll over” in Cuba. The US provided Khrushchev with an exit by agreeing to withdraw missiles from Turkey and Italy in exchange. I highly doubt Russia will roll over in Syria, if faced with highly belligerent US actions.

        1. aab

          Isn’t the pipeline issue fundamentally that the Saudis want to take over Russia’s energy market in Europe — which would destoy Russia’s economy?

          Russia has very important things to fight for as a nation. The US has what, exactly? I thought maybe the petrodollar explained our compliance to Saudi desires, but Yves recently said that was bunk; the petrodollar thing is used as an excuse. Then why exactly? Why are we so invested is protecting the Saudis and the Israelis? I honestly don’t get it at this point, unless its a simple function of a handful of billionaires paying lots of good money to corrupt politicians to do Israeli’s bidding, and the Saudis paying lots of good money to corrupt politicians to do its bidding, there’s nobody in Iraq or Iran with deep pockets, so it’s all just larky good fun blowing shit up faraway in the sand, making money off weapon sales and corporate resource extraction, with bribes and payoffs for the US governing elite.

          It’s not actually that simple, is it?

          And I do not see this ending well. Clinton seems to enjoy breaking countries, and as the Goldwater Girl she is, bringing the “Commies” to their knees is probably a childhood dream. She had no interest in diplomacy when she was officially the country’s top diplomat, and she’s temperamentally ill-suited to the task. Worse, the hive-mind that actually decides things for “Hillary Clinton” is a bunch of people who never seem to think about anything in terms of what’s good for regular people, or what is moral, or anything other than what advances the hive’s financial, status and power interests. If it takes twelve people to write a personal tweet from Hillary, how does the war train get derailed? Who stands up and says, “I know the Saudis gave you tens of millions, and every single one of your donors — who are also the exact same people you socialize with, your entire social circle — wants this war, but we’re risking a nuclear exchange?” How many would it take to actually stop Hillary and her War Girls from going forward?

          The only scenario I can imagine where this war doesn’t move forward is the Republicans hold the Congress and tie her up in investigations, as street protests ramp up enough that it’s clear she can’t institute the draft without calling out the National Guard, which gets into sticky problems of governors obeying her (if I remember the chain of command issues with the Guard correctly.) And honestly, I wouldn’t make book on even this stopping her.

      1. H. Alexander Ivey

        Ah, yeah. The US provided Khrushchev an exit…

        Feeble argument here, and incorrect under any logic except American Exceptionalism (AE). Only if American (Kennedy) was morally correct here, and Khrushchev morally incorrect could you say Khrushchev got an exit. Instead, Kennedy got the exit he needed to maintain the fiction of AE. He and the USA were far more a danger to Russia, than Khrushchev and the USSR was to the good old USA, then or now.

        My point is that unless you CONUS people stop believing in AE, you will get a war that will force you to make true sacrifices.

    2. Praedor

      Indeed, Russia will NOT roll over as with Cuba because, unlike Cuba, the current US interventions are not on the opposite side of the world from Russia, it’s all right there on Russia front, back, and side doors.

      I keep going back to a simple thought experiment: Say Russia decoded to pull a US-in-Ukraine coup in Mexico. Would the US just suck it up and stay silent and accept it? NO. The US would view such an action with great alarm, exactly the way a reasonable Russia may with regards to Ukraine. And add for Syria, Russia had a major military base there. A permanent base. Syria is their neighborhood, NOT the USA’s and the terrorists there are heavily populated with Chechens. Chechens who will wander back to Russia and bring their insanity with them.

      No, Russia had every right to respond strongly to US action in Ukraine AND Syria because both directly affects Russia. The US had nothing of legitimacy to do there. As for US whining about Crimea, that location had always been Russian. The population is predominantly Russian, it was de facto (and historically) Russia until Kruschev, a Ukrainuan, simply gifted Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 in a manner that is totally illegitimate according to international norms and law. Crimea is rightfully Russian territory and, like Syria, contains major permanent Russian military bases. It will not UN-become Russia anytime soon no matter what the US or NATO says.

      1. apber

        BUT…BUT….BUT The MSM says that Russia invaded Crimea with troops. It must be so, right?

        Well as it turns out, Russia has always had at least two battalions of troops stationed at their naval base there. And, as is normal, they often go off base into the general community. According to WAPO and the NYT, these incidences are absolute proof of an invasion.

        Btw, my recommendations for those to be first at the guillotine are Susan Rice, Samantha Power, and Victoria Nuland (oh my God, I must be misogynistic).

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          You missed the bit where the people of Crimea voted in a referendum that was widely viewed as legitimate. 92% said to rejoin Russia, I guess that didn’t meet the US Government’s Clinton Foundation Armaments Emporium standards for “democracy”. Time for some more of that Predator/Hawkeye freedom stuff to rain down from the skies.

    3. EoinW

      How much did the Soviets roll over on Cuba? Publicly yes, it appeared so. However the secret deal was removing NATO missiles from Turkey so they did get something for getting out of Cuba. A year later JFK was assassinated.

    4. Plenue

      Nah, you don’t have to go that far back in time. The John Birch Society accused Eisenhower of being a Communist agent. Though I suppose the difference is that JBS was always fringe, whereas Clinton is a major candidate.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    I think there are two particularly worrying things which the article doesn’t mention:

    1. Whatever about Hilary’s judgement, her first year in office (assuming it is her) will be extremely fraught as the Republicans try to pull her down. There will be a major political temptation to distract attention away and fly the flag. That means, in effect, that whatever the more sensible voices in the Pentagon or State say, she will calculate politically that a major foreign policy crisis and/or war is in her interest.

    2. There is rising evidence that the Russians see war as inevitable. History says that when a country becomes convinced of the inevitability of war, the political process changes. It is no longer ‘how do we prevent war?’, the internal discussions are about ‘how do we win the war?’. And the logical outcome of these thought processes are to strike early and hard to win an advantage. Most historians of Japan that I’ve read believe that the attack on Pearl Harbour happened not because Japan wanted to start a war (they were well aware that the US had a vastly greater military capacity), but because the military/foreign establishment became convinced that a war was unavoidable, so a sudden killer strike became the only logical approach. There is a great danger that the Russians (and even the Chinese) could come to the same conclusions.

    1. EoinW

      Great points. Hopefully such a first strike will be economic – bring the West to its knees so that starting a shooting war can’t be an option. We need internal strife in the West to distract our elites and prevent them from launching a war with Russia. The alternative might be our 1% starting a war – Clinton and Wag The Dog Part 2 – before domestic troubles flare up.

      Putin has been shockingly restrained and patient throughout all this. We shouldn’t discount the possibility of another Russian “climb down” simply because they understand – unlike Washington – the terrible price everyone will pay if full scale war breaks out. Something like a public defeat while working twice as hard to undermine the West behind the scenes. Couldn’t Putin afford to sacrifice Syria and keep his high standing at home? Then when Syria turns into another Libya the blood will be on US?NATO hands…once again!

      1. craazyboy

        Whenever I see Putin, he is so calm and rational that I begin to worry that he may have built Dr. Strangelove’s luxury condos in a coal mine a respectable distance from Moscow.

        1. EoinW

          LOL! Granted Putin has always seen himself as a member of the 1%. Which explains why he’s turned so many cheeks his head has practically spun off. However the “IN” crowd, the 0.01% don’t want him. What’s the poor fellow to do? Happy for him he has a coal mine or two.

      2. Praedor

        I don’t think that’s an option. As reasonable as that might sound, Putin does need to think about his position with regatta to the people back home. They LIKE Putin. A lot. And a big part of the reason is his standing up to the US. If he tucked trail and ran before US threats he would losexpect the bulk of hours standing with the people back home. I don’t think he’s willing to throw himself on his sword when he would lose control of who would replace him, and there would be an immediate scramble by the Looters of Washington to pull another big theft like they did under Yeltsin. The neoliberals got full reign then.

        1. EoinW

          You’re likely right, plus we simply don’t know what the thinking is amongst those who run Russia. One way to look at it is that with a favourability rating of over 80% Putin can afford to lose Syria, whereas a new President Clinton would feel she can’t afford to lose face.

          Your line of thinking is more appropriate to Ukraine. Putin can’t sit by while Russians are slaughtered. He’d take a big hit in popularity for that. Getting out of Syria might be something he could get away with.

          Like I said, we don’t know what the Russians are thinking and we don’t know how much more they will take before they say “nyet!” We also don’t know where the Chinese stand and which upcoming NATO aggression will be the one where they publicly ally with Russia against the West.

          Really we only have past actions to go by. I think we can bank on Washington being arrogant, in your face and the ultimate school yard bully. That seems to be all the neoCons and liberal, holier than thou, interventionists know. Plus Clinton is about as subtle as a boil on the bum. On the other hand, the Asians have long term objectives in mind and have been less predictable in their actions.

          The only certainty I have is that Russia and China will be in the right, according to international law and any sense of decency. Also that I’ll support them against NATO no matter what now. A bit like being a German in the late 1930s and understanding who the bad guys really are. Actually it’s worse. prior to 1939 the Nazis and Wehrmacht had barely spilt any blood. We’ve lived through Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Palestinians, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen(I’m sure I’ve missed some). Yet the majority of westerners still consider NATO the good guys. The power of nationalism! My how effective a lifetime of brainwashing can be.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            I’d like to believe that someone really does understand what they are messing with here but I’m not so sure, under Clinton the First the lovely Madeleine Allbright said half a million dead Iraqi children was “worth it”. Kennedy had Curtis LeMay foaming to go nuclear in Cuba, but the executive branch was wiser, this time around we have an insane bloodthirsty falling down grandmother with the generals telling her “lady you really don’t want to do that”. She turned State into a War Promotions arm, simply the advance troops for the next nation that did not love the jackboot on their necks, in the debates she repeated her insane call for a no-fly zone in Syria, blithely missing the bit where that WILL mean shooting down Russian jets and the fact that the generals mentioned that would take 70,000 troops on the ground to go after Syrian air defense. I get how Israel might want a collapsed al-Qaeda state in Syria but I fail to see how that is by any insane stretch in any American interest…though I’m sure if you check the Mafia’s Clinton Foundation’s “donor” list you’ll find some radiation suit manufacturers or something.

      3. PlutoniumKun

        (repeat post, my last one disappeared)

        Everything I’ve read about Putin says that he sees it as a personal mission to restore Russia’s place in the world as a major power. He is thinking far more strategically than the US. While I think he could survive politically a climb down so long as they take Aleppo (he could effectively declare victory and leave), I don’t see that there is any incentive to do so. Syria has become a major strategic gain for Russia and he would see the West as much more likely to lose out in a military conflict.

        He knows, for example that:

        1. Nato could well break up of the US attacks Russian warplanes in Syria. There is no way Germany, Denmark, etc., would want to get dragged into a war with Russia because of Syria. They know they would be directly in line of a retaliatory attack. Likewise, the Turks would almost certainly not want to be involved, for all their bluster, they genuinely fear what Russia can do to them. Only the UK, the usual poodle, would enthusiastically follow along with their aircraftless aircraft carriers and handful of aging frigates.

        2. A US action would trigger a major conflict all over the Middle East. The Iranians would see themselves as a target, and this would drag in the Saudi’s too. The only outcome of this is likely to be very bad for US interests. For all their modern weaponry, the Saudi’s and Gulf States know full well they will come off worse in a fight with the Iranians.

        3. Any conflict in the Middle East will provide a perfect excuse for China to start making strategic gains in the Pacific. There is no way even Hilary would want a two front conflict.

        So Putin holds all the cards. This is so obvious that it would take a massive effort of groupthink on the part of the Washington Democrat establishment to not see this. But of course they are experts at this.

        1. Lambert Strether


          The Russian Federation supplies a significant volume of fossil fuels and is the largest exporter of oil and natural gas to the European Union. In 2007, the European Union imported from Russia 185 million tonnes of crude oil, which accounted for 32.6% of total oil import, and 100.7 million tonnes of oil equivalent of natural gas, which accounted 38.7% of total gas import.[1]

          So, Russia turns off the taps in the winter and the US does what? Organize the equivalent of the Berlin Airlift with oil tankers?* How does that work? (And let’s hope that there are surplus tankers that haven’t been scrapped.)

          * Pipeline geeks correct me, but I don’t think there’s a gas pipeline direct to Europe from the Middle East.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Thats true – all Middle East gas to Europe has to come as LNG, and there is a shortage of LNG terminals in Europe. The EU has been trying to encourage the construction of LNG facilities for presumably this very reason but there are nowhere near enough to satisfy demand. If Russia cut off the gas, Europe would have to hope for a very windy winter, because the only spare peaking electricity capacity is in wind power.

        2. Fiver

          Interesting comments.

          Not so sure re Putin holding the cards. His moves vis a vis the US and NATO are entirely defensive in nature, and though he has managed far better than Official Washington anticipated, Russia has paid a very big price just to cling to its position (and the Saudis have taken a giant hit of their own big enough to dent their grand plans). The US still has a military designed to obliterate any foe or combination, and without doubt has a vast overall weapons systems advantage including those of the e-variety. And as distinct from Mr. Wilkerson, there is no shortage of enthusiasts in the US MIC who think the US already has a decisive first-crippling-strike edge even without the ABM-abrogating anti-missile missile systems final deployment capacity on Russia’s borders – at which point no Russian land-based missile (its primary deterrent) is safe.

          Putin’s one card militarily is precisely him – maybe. He certainly has gone out of his way to let the US know in very simple, direct terms that he has ‘red’ lines of his own. To the hawks, Putin is bluffing, and would not dare shoot at a US plane, or use a battlefield nuke to deter a NATO conventional attack, and I agree. I do not think Putin wants anything to do with a major war – but he dares not not be willing for a very vicious scrap of some sort or the US/NATO will not relent in its long quest for truly global hegemony. It’s an extremely precarious situation, and the woman who suggested droning Julian Assange, and her incredible assemblage of exceptionalists and super heroes of finance, tech, ‘security’, intelligence and military, drawn from the Big Donor Suggestion List of the most corrupt political institution in modern history are about as scary as it gets.

          Very importantly, there is a way out. Part of the answer is oil: as one who believes the Saudi move in 2014 was aimed at Russia at least as much as slowing production growth of US fracking or tar sands, any deal will immediately be followed by a Saudi production cut, meaning increased revenues for Russia, the Saudis, the US (Clinton reaches for the ‘red’ states) and others in a big way. It also delivers much-desired inflation to GDP, the Fed, the Treasury, banks, etc. with global knock-on effects.

          All Clinton needs to do is call up mainstream media and turn off the regime-change propaganda, call up the Saudis and tell them to call off the jihad and cut back the oil, and call up Putin to tell him the US is OK with Assad for now, they’ll cooperate on some very lucrative global energy deals, call off the mess in Ukraine, and ‘reset’. It’s really very simple. She shape-shifts into ‘the greatest ‘peace-time’ President’ since….Of course, the rest of the Plan For A New American Century goes out of print.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            What “big price” has Russia paid? It has taken a bit of a GDP hit, but Russia is still vastly better off than when Putin came to power, and his popularity at home is even higher than when the US started escalating in Ukraine and imposed economic sanctions. Russia is not as oil dependent as the West assumed, and the sanctions have allowed it to redevelop some industries that had shrunk, particularly agriculture, and become more self-sufficient.

            And Russia, formerly seen as a second-tier power, has been dealing with the US as an equal in the Middle East. Putin has played what looked like a weak hand exceedingly well and looks to have come out on top. Did you forget that he got Crimea, and is also now forging an alliance with Turkey? Even if the Turks are only occasionally on his side, that’s a big wild card for the West that throws a monkey wrench in their geopolitical scheming.

            1. Fiver

              I’ve already noted Putin handled what has been a series of aggressive US moves very well – but that doesn’t mean it did not cost an arm and a leg.

              Russia’s revenue from oil has been halved on 10 million bbls/day for two years – as an example, Canada pumps well under half that the hit is in double-digit billions. Russia has a smaller economy than Canada, but with 5 times the population. In addition pumping full out has doubtless damaged older Russian reservoirs. Sanctions have also taken a real toll. So too, the costs of the military efforts in both Syria and Ukraine and of course the very extensive increase in ‘preparedness’, featuring numerous major exercises. Not least, Ukraine is a basket case instead of a key economic partner. Turkey is no more in Putin’s hand than I am. Putin is popular, but it’s just silly to pretend two years of a shrinking economy (I believe Russia’s GDP numbers as little as I do the US) while engaged in a very serious conflict with the world’s strongest and most aggressive nation have not exacted a major toll – they have. All to say Putin would like nothing better, and could not possibly expect better than to come out of this intact with a ‘draw’ as noted in my comments – which is very different from saying he’s about to toss in the towel.

              I’m quite serious about the scenario proposed – it’s a win-win saves face for everyone but the Saudis and jihadists, who can be paid to do nothing in Syria and Iraq as easily as paid to fight US/NATO/Israeli regime-change wars aimed at unlocking vast new territories and resources to neoliberal plundering.

    2. Thor's Hammer

      As a matter of fact the US has been at war with Russia for three years. Economic war is warfare by other means, and this is a conflict initiated by the US and its Army of the Willing (or bribed) NATO. Not surprising that the Russians see war as inevitable as they are already feeling some of its outer storm bands.

      1- The US sponsored coup in the Ukraine. Five billion dollars invested in the overthrow of an elected government and its replacement by Nazi thugs in an effort to expand NATO and base missiles there to threaten Russia. The closest analogy would be if Russia had sponsored the succession of Texas with the intent of installing missiles targeted at Omaha and Los Angles.

      2- NATO’s expansion into previous Warsaw Pact countries in defiance of promises to the contrary.

      3- The US/Zionist proxy war to overthrow the government of Syria. Turning Syria into a slaughterhouse disaster has been on the neo-con bucket list ever since they succeeded in converting Libya from the wealthiest and most secular country in Africa under Qaddafi’s dictatorial rule into a base for Muslim extremism and terrorist jihadists that could be used in proxy wars like that in Syria.

      4- Americans find it easy to ignore the fact that the Russian armed forces are in Syria at the invitation of the legitimate government of Syria (whether we like that government or not). And that the Russians, Syrian army, and the Kurds have been the ones fighting to exterminate ISIS, while the US has been so ineffective as to suggest a sham. Our presence in Syria using terrorist forces as proxies has no legitimacy under international law. The only law that the US has been accustomed to following is that of force when it wants to intervene in a country with no military capability to defend itself, but challenging a nuclear armed Russia is a whole different situation. Compared to the sociopathy exhibited by our “leaders” in the West, Putin comes across as a skilled and rational diplomat.

      One can only hope that is true.

      1. Fiver

        It’s really the first time any world leader talked back to the US and sought support around the world in the language the US itself normalized via the UN and all the rest of the vast apparatus of international/global law, doctrine, rights, obligations etc

  5. UserFriendly

    Does the Blame America First club actually exist? Or is that just a Fox News fever dream? Where can I sign up?

  6. voteforno6

    Wouldn’t it be nice if someone asked Clinton if Syria is really worth going to war with Russia…or, even better, if she posed that question to the American people.

    1. Sandy

      Wouldn’t it be nice if the American public actually cared? Note the banality of the questions asked by “regular citizens” at the second “town hall” debate.

      1. Adamski

        In the third debate she refused to say if she would shoot down a Russian plane. That could easily lead to war as in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

        The US used depth charges against a Soviet sub then, and they got ready to use a tactical nuke because they needed to surface for air. Then they didn’t do it and surfaced anyway.

        Remember in Korea the Chinese were involved and the US was shooting down their planes, but the USSR also flew missions there, using Chinese markings. The US knew they were Russian planes but ignored this fact in case it led to war with Russia. That is how serious shooting down a plane of a nuclear armed opponent can be.

        The defence secretary has to send an encrypted order to use nukes separate from the president’s code. That would prevent Trump using nukes in anger, plus he says war with Russia has to be avoided anyway. Whereas Clinton can shoot down a jet and escalation to nukes is in the hands of Putin.

        Trump has just said in an interview that Clinton risks WW3 and he is right. Her spokesman’s response to Trump was the same old “Putin is bad, Trump is pro-Putin, Syrians are dying” etc. A non-answer. Since the third debate I support Trump, I am sorry about the giant tax cut for the rich and anything else that will make people suffer if he somehow wins. But you should vote for him unless Clinton abandons this insane policy, even if it was a bluff all along.

        1. Whine Country

          We’ve been warned all. Keep conjuring up all of the bad things that Trump is and might possibly do and then decide he’s just too scary and nasty. Then when that maniac Hillary authorizes her “No Fly zone” you can revisit your decision making process from your bomb shelters. I carry 4 dog tags in my wallet at all times. They represent 3 generations (my father, myself and two sons) who have served on foreign soil principally because no legal alternative was obvious to us. Three generations have served to assist in the destruction of our country over the years, for the benefit of a small minority. There is nothing that Trump can do or say that would make me believe he would even continue the disastrous wars we are now involved in, let alone escalate things. It is a stupid waste of our treasure and it has to stop. Caveat emptor to those who are willing to gamble with the warmonger. We came, we saw, he died. I want to puke.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Thank you. It’s Germany in 1942 and the stench from the camp in the woods is much too awful for people to claim they just don’t smell it. I get that people really want her to be OK: she’s not, she is dangerously and criminally insane, and the Bush era crew surrounding her were known as “the crazies” even by the core Republican foreign policy establishment when they rode back on the scene after 9/11.

  7. Bill Smith

    In places the article is over the top.

    “The Obama administration is currently considering a proposal” The Obama administration has made headlines because they have been considering something or other in regard to Syria for years. But nothing much changes.

    Do the “CIA backed anti Assad forces in Syria” the Kurds? Do they include the Kurds? Do they exclude the Kurds?

    I’d have stuck with the concern about the Russian aircraft and left out the Chinese aircraft. The no fly zone ship sailed when the Russians started their airstrikes.

    Obama has plenty of maneuvering room. He walked back the airstrikes against the Syrians back a few years ago. Beside it’s not like the Pentagon wants to get involved in Syria.

    As to what Hillary’s plans are? Well, she has a ‘private’ view and a ‘public’ view so we won’t know until she does it.

    1. craazyboy

      I don’t see what’s over the top with the article. We are reaching a “tipping point” with Syria, and doing nothing pretty much concedes we “lose” it to Assad-Russia. Great, but will they let it happen?

      The Kurds have always been our Allies, unless a NATO member, who is getting friendly with Russia lately, invokes NATO Article 5.
      The reader is left to noodle it out.

      Why not mention China might be on the other side?????

      Obama has room to roll over, otherwise be very, very afraid.

      1. craazyboy

        Oopsie. Today’s news from Reuters. Here’s Obama’s maneuvering room.

        Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that his attempts to reach an agreement with U.S. President Barack Obama on ending the bloodshed in Syria had not worked out.
        “A united front to defeat terrorism has in fact not been created,” Putin told an audience of Russia experts gathered in southern Russia. “In Washington there were forces that did their best to ensure our agreements did not take off.”
        (Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; Writing by Denis Pinchuk; Editing by Andrew Osborn)


  8. hemeantwell

    My guess is that the Clintonites are banking on an internal struggle developing within the Russian elite. They probably see what happened after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when major elements of the elite opted to plunder Russian natural resources for personal profit, as a model. Paul Craig Roberts recently had a Counterpunch article that was surprisingly direct — at time he writes as if he’s giving advice to Putin — in singling out Russian think tanks that take a pro-Nato line. He regards the financial supporters of those groups as compradors, perhaps with good reason.

    I doubt this will work. The Russian state is much more coherent, both organizationally and ideologically (nationalism), than before. Not only can they resist, they likely also believe they will be able to split off European support from the US as tensions escalate.

    1. hemeantwell

      P.S. Why was there no mention of Israel and their interest in state-busting in this interview?

      1. craazyboy

        Maybe no reason to mention the obvious and risk invoking the Anti-Semite Megaphone?

        Plus, Israel has been making recent overtures to Russia, but who knows how seriously to take that.

        1. John Wright

          In the video interview, in the background Wilkerson has some nearly empty bookcases.

          It is almost as if he packed up his books and plans to move to a safer place.

          His “very concerned” about HRC may be an understatement.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            I’ve read that 1913 was a helluva good party, everybody knew it was coming so they enjoyed with abandon. This time around Sarajevo Aleppo won’t mean 38 million dead but potentially many more than that.

      2. EoinW

        The problem with anyone mentioning Israel is that automatically the readers one is trying to persuade hit their anti-semite alarms and tune out.

        That said, consider the countries that have recently been destroyed: Iran, Libya and Syria. Of Israel’s four greatest enemies in the region the only one left out is Iran. This has always been the main point of Israeli foreign policy, to destroy the neighbouring countries which can’t be bought, thus eliminating any rivals to Israeli power in the region.

        1. craazyboy

          The scariest word in Israel’s vocabulary is Hezbollah, and they are the military arm of anywhere Shiite.

          1. Fiver

            The origin of Hezbollah was the direct result of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, the portion south of the Latini River (marking for some the boundary of Greater Israel) to be occupied by Israel for the next 20 years. Israel currently is more than pleased to see Hezbollah bled off in the long defense of Assad, deeply pre-occupied and thus seriously exposed in Lebanon itself. If Clinton et al believe their own public narrative the “linkages” are such that one means to counter Putin in their minds would be to ‘raise the stakes’ for Iran by extending the regime change effort aimed at Assad to include crushing Hezbollah with all the latest bunker-busters, a fleet of new, gifted F-35’s and all the other latest ‘good’ stuff they’d love to test from the air in combat. The portents argue slim and none that Clinton won’t take the bait and go for the gold star, but as outlined above, the smartest thing she could do for herself, her Presidency, her country, the world and especially the Syrians would be to insist the Saudis and fellow travelers back off this phony regime change jihad as well as cutting oil production very substantially – and they can count themselves lucky to be left running the country at a time the world is floating in oil; to engage Putin re a second ‘re-set’, this one turning the clock back on the US global neoliberal fantasy-machine run riot since the early ’90’s vis a vis the supposition that a very young people (Americans) are ‘exceptional’ or ‘indispensible’ or otherwise superior to, and should dictate the fortunes of, far, far older nations and peoples; re-establish Syria with Assad as transition admin to a genuine, all-Syrian successor – he could not have lasted if he did not have very substantial support in the more heavily populated areas; simply turn off the US/Western Syria/ISIS propaganda machine; exit Ukraine; no more pipelines the intent of which is to damage the Russian economy; start talking with Putin, China, India, Germany, Japan, Saudis, Israelis, Iran, Iraq, Turkey and a couple more about how to manage remaining resources, especially energy with a view towards making it to mid-century courtesy of a transformed world.

            Like Nixon to China. After all, how difficult do you suppose it would be for Americans to forget all about the grotesque fraud of the ‘war on terror’ and all the rest of the belligerent garbage injected daily into their lives for decades, but especially the last 15 years, when the plan I outline would deliver both peace and prosperity? What better way for Hillary to pull salvation and greatness from the pit of hubric implosion? If she has any brains at all, she’ll fish out Putin’s number and give him a call.

  9. Carolinian

    What Clinton wants is not a hot war with Russia but a new cold war. This will allow her to showcase her “muscular foreign policy” (the Clintonoids favorite piece of bad rhetoric) and serve as a distraction while extend and pretend continues at home. Of course Hillary could assuage people’s fears by toning down the belligerence. The fact that she hasn’t done so probably indicates that she really means it. Or perhaps it’s just part of her political “bad instincts.” She thinks people want a woman president who’s a badass.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I fear she fancies herself the “Queen of the End of History” too. I’m fairly confident she believes the U.S.’s hyper power status is due to the co-Presidency of the 90’s and not the collapse of the USSR in 1991. The idea of colonies acting on their own is an affront to the “bridge to the 21st century” and the Clinton legacy.

  10. Mark John

    What the motivations behind all of the bellicosity and cliff-flirting are can not be clearly known. I pulled this out of the weeds yesterday, and it gave me a bit of a pause–

    The article gives specific examples of why the players would have to be absolutely mad or incompetent to consider actually entering such a war, postulating that this warmongering is, in large part, a Machiavellian ruse.
    I have long assumed the former. However, these players’ ability to gain and hold power is evidence for the latter.

    1. Steve H.

      The article you link to is referring to “full scale war” with Russia &/or China. This post is specific to Syria where lots of blood has been spilled, and is nothing like full-scale war.

      As someone with fam in the mil, I’m a lot more concerned about the likelihood of overseas deployments than an irrational global annihilation. The proxy wars, and the conditions they have produced, are real and tangible now.

      1. Mark John

        While I understand that, we do have media and candidates linking specific proposals for Syria by our presumed president-in-waiting to an inevitable war with Russia. Boots on the ground are perceived as a potential catalyst, given current public relations.

        The article also asks the question as to why our government continues to take actions that actually has greatly increased the size and strength of ISIL when our supposed goal is to defeat ISIL.

        I personally am greatly concerned for our military members and their families. I also am concerned for the safety and well-being of the people of Iraq, Libya, Syria, and much of the rest of the world where the US elephant has planted its feet. The point is that the motivations of the rulers of the world should be questioned and their actions railed against every step along the way to prevent escalation.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Pop in your time machine and ask the generals and experts in 1913 whether they believed a tiny miscalculation could result in 38 million dead, oh, no, preposterous idea. Gavrilo Princip showed otherwise.

  11. EoinW

    Being obsessed with power, there’s no point for Clinton to become president unless America is the most powerful country in the world. Safe to assume that once in power she will project that power and reality had better get out of the way! Throw in the neoCons who harbour the same illusions and you really have a train wreck that even the fleet footed Putin might not be able to sidestep.

    Funny how the article hardly touched on Trump at all. Time issue? Trump has been pretty clear that he’d talk to Putin. That makes him the peace candidate by default. He may not always be in touch with reality, however he’s certainly more in tune with America’s status in 2016 and the necessary restraints that entails. Clinton and the neoCons are lost in the 1990s.

    Does that mean the election is a test to see how sick Americans really are of war? War really is the most serious issue which needs to be the #1 consideration at all times. At least in 1916 and 1940 Americans voted for Presidents who clearly promised to keep the US out of the war – while doing everything they could behind the scenes to get into those wars. This time we can’t blame it on a lying presidential candidate. Clinton is clearly pro-war. The peace loving people of Australia, Canada and Europe have already chosen her. Fortunately American voters get the final say.

    1. TarheelDem

      What do you think the political response to Trump’s slogan, “Make America great again” should be. The shock the public has had for 16 years is that the US, which in 2001 was the “world’s sole superpower” (even the French press used the phrase “hyperpuissance”), is facing Russian and Chinese growth in power, an alliance that was catalyzed by Bush policies with NATO that Obama, with the advice of Victoria Nuland, has continued. That march of folly caused acceleration of the Russian-Chinese pushback as the US continued to be mired in Iraq and Afghanistan, stretched to the limit of it’s “two-war” policy from the Clinton administration. And the public is not yet aware of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization or the One Belt/One Road initiative to tie Eurasia together with infrastructure (MacKinders’ and Spykman’s greatest nightmares).

      When those changes in Eurasia become visible to the US public, the freakout will not be more actions to constrain the military and promote peace. It is up to a revived generalized peace movement to slowly educate the public so that economic expansions are not read always as worst case threats of inevitable conflict.

      1. EoinW

        Good question. I need to ask, why must America freak out because Asia constructs a trade pact to its own benefit and includes Europe in it? it really isn’t an issue that should matter to average Americans at all. I’ve yet to hear the Asians preaching economic sanctions, the way western leaders continually do. So what threat is there to America?

        Regarding “Make America great again”, I take it simply to be a political slogan. A clever one in that people can take what they want from it. I would hope the intent is to make America great again domestically. That’s been a common Trump theme, to focus on fixing America, not running the world.

        The reason Trump gets zero traction in the rest of the western world is because American nationalism is as much a turn off as his crudeness. At least Americans have been programmed to respond to such nationalism and are not turned off by it.

        Does a peace movement still exist? The Left has sold out at every turn. I continue to be utterly amazed by how a right wing friend’s statement 20 years ago continues to be confirmed. The Left really does believe in nothing. The great revelation of the Trump run has been the reaction to Trump. Not just by a biased, and hopefully discredited, MSM. In Canada the reaction by Left leaning people has been stunning. People do chose ignorance if that’s what is necessary to maintain the status quo. That status quo includes 15 years of endless war. Something too many westerners are still too comfortable with.

        You are only going to combat globalism and all the warmongering that goes with it – including economic warfare on average people – with a stronger force that can bring about change: nationalism. That nationalism will lead to breaking up the super states(including the USA). That is what needs to be done for a future peace movement to succeed.

        1. craazyboy

          Well, if China wants to create economic chaos in the West(including Japan) at this point, all they need to do is string up some blue LEDs on the Great Wall saying “no-foreigners allowed” and nationalize foreign investment. However, the WTO could charge them with patent violations at that point.

          Not that that would help out in the short term the rest of our supply chain geniuses who’ve figured out that making stuff is hard and all you need is sales, marketing, management and a Chinese purchasing department to be a multinational corporation these days.

          The only good part for the West in this scenario is the lack of sales would also create havoc in China. So now the Chinese calculus hinges on which is worse?

    2. integer

      The peace loving people of Australia, Canada and Europe have already chosen her.

      It is naive to imply that these conclusions have been reached without any US influence.
      In Australia at least, it is the media rather than the people that have chosen Clinton. Sound familiar?

      1. EoinW

        The media in Canada I’m sure has been even worse. Canadian media make CNN look objective. At least CNN trot out a Trump supporter for each discussion. CBC line up their journalists and they aren’t just anti-Trump, they approach Trump like he’s a clown not to be taken seriously. Not just the MSM. I’ve yet to find a Canadian journalist online who isn’t firmly in the Clinton camp. it really is group think on steroids.

        Now is that an excuse to use to defend average Canadians? I’ve noted comment sections online and the Canadian public doesn’t need help from journalists. They are just as ignorant. What I do find curious is the handful of people I know personally who at least understand what Clinton is. Some even want a Trump victory. I guess if you’re upper middle class, white and work in the private sector you are actually intelligent enough to see what’s going on. Not meaning to generalize. Simply describing the Canadians I know who don’t have their heads up their bottoms.

    3. John Wade

      “The peace loving people of Australia, Canada and Europe have already chosen her.” – Really? The peace loving people of Australia actually cannot stand a bar of her.

  12. TarheelDem

    I’m beginning to think that Clinton is a trauma-driven candidate trying to maneuver around several right-wing talking points that have been effective in reducing Democratic Party chances of victory in the past.
    1. Democratic economic and social policy is equivalent to Communism (with a capital-C). Now that the Soviet Union has devolved into multiple countries and Russia is a multi-cultural federation headed by a religious nationalist strongman with ties to only a portion of the nation’s oligarchs, using Putin and Russia as enemies and speaking forcefully seems calculated to offset that certain demographic that still thinks the Soviet Union exists. The danger we fear is the Clinton camp get high on their own supply of propaganda. That danger is amplified by Clinton’s tactical embrace of the Kagan-Nuland clique and the rest of the failed national security apparatchiks. And it is not mollified by the responsibility-to-protect liberals who have staked out a “third way” doctrine.

    2. All this toughness has to do with dodging the right-wing charge that “The Democrats are soft on defense.” This rhetoric has been responsible for inflating the national security agencies of the United States to their current ineffective form as 22 years of gridlock has meant that the most secure budgets in DC are for the intelligence community and the Pentagon. With Democrats striving to prove that they are not “soft” (flaccid?) every single time.

    3. Maggie Thatcher had to be bellicose; Indira Gandhi had to be bellicose; Golda Meier had to be bellicose; the assumption of pundits and consultants, indeed the Washington consensus on the First Woman President is that she must be Elizabeth I or Catherine the Great. I don’t think that we will see the Washington Consensus on anything tested on anything with Hillary Clinton of 2016. Maybe the Hillary Clinton of 1993 was that cocky, but the Gingrich Revolution shoved a lot of assumptions down the Clinton’s throats over the next 16 years. And the attempts to delegitimize the Obama Presidency (and its first Secretary of State) with domestic constituencies and through Benyamin Netanyahu internationally were neither subtle nor exposed by the media for what they were–at least in the United States. There is an accumulation of 23 years of tough skin with Hillary Clinton. And a determination to overpower those who stand in the way of her objectives. But there likely is a 23-year adjustment in those objectives themselves as she moved from Arkansas disestablishment (a foe of segregation) to Washington establishment. But from the point of view of the original Hillary haters (likely a bunch of self-privileged Dixiecrats who later turned Republican) back in Arkansas and their friends in the Republican Party, no amount of co-option to conservative policies is enough; she must be completely destroyed.

    The Republican establishment that has been sidelined by the Trump primary victory are not among those friends of the Clinton-haters now that the Clintons have been domesticated for the Beltway crowd.

    HRC does not realize that there is no way of reaching common ground with the war hawks in the Republican Party (who suddenly under Trump’s influence are either peace hawks (an oxymoron) or chicken hawks (which a bunch have been for some time). It is the same first-term blindness Obama had with bipartisanship. She does not realize that the animus is not about policy; it is about her still being in politics.

    The danger is that seeking to mollify this group in order to get anything done on foreign policy will require her to do some very stupid things. Or to assume that she will get the same business-as-usual latitude of previous occupants of the White House when she now has been put on notice that the Republicans in the House are out to impeach her, try her in the Senate, convict her, and put her in prison. [Cough, Richard Bruce Cheney; cough, chain-of-command, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib].

  13. DJG

    Slouching toward war: See the cover of the current issue of the New Yorker, the issue that includes their tied-up-in-knots endorsement of her. The cover is pure panic and McCarthyism, although it includes a knowing smirk on Bill Clinton’s face. So we are seeing the haute bourgeoisie congratulate itself on its wisdom, and its wisdom includes sacrificing the children of others to endless imperial war.

    War in Syria? Over what? At this point, it is a nation in ruins. If Clinton has any sense, she’ll just call for a Big Powers conference to deal with “postwar” Syria. The problem, as Wilkerson points out, is that the U S of A has burned its bridges in front of itself. To quote: “WILKERSON: What went wrong with resetting the relationship was us. The US of A. We have wasted no opportunity to make Mr. Putin more powerful politically in his own country. As soon as he figured out that sticking his fingers in Washington’s eyes was a winning political formula, you could guarantee you were going to get more fingers in our eyes.”

    No credibility with Assad, such as he is. No credibility with Russia.

  14. Mel

    (The things you find in your briefings!:

    “As soon as he figured out that sticking his fingers in Washington’s eyes was a winning political formula, you could guarantee you were going to get more fingers in our eyes.”


    David Brin, playing his assigned position also did this: Putin does have to keep coming after us. They both see it as supply-push. I see demand-pull: both major campaigns need lines to indicate their Strength and Toughness. With Putin the Baddest Dude around, defying him fills the purpose admirably. We secretly rely on his sense of realism to keep anything actually bad from actually happening.

    1. hunkerdown

      Note that Wilkerson is still very much invested in US having a sphere of unbidden influence approximately Earth-sized. He’s still a crackpot realist looking for a Win, just a little bit more lucid than the others.

  15. Tobin Paz

    If not even Colonel Wilkerson give an honest assessment of Syria, we are going to war. Any story or interview regarding Syria should be preceded by the following:

    The United States and NATO are in Syria in violation of international law. The United States and it’s allies are arming and training terrorists against a sovereign country in violation of international law. The only countries legally in Syria are both Russia and Iran, at the request of the legitimate Syrian government.

    Hillary Clinton’s call for a no-fly zone would not only “kill a lot of Syrians”, it would require an act of aggression to eliminate Syria’s air defenses. Not only do we have a standing President committing the supreme international war crime, but also a presidential candidate advocating the same.

    When the Nuremberg Tribunal is ignored, further war can only be expected:

    War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.

  16. pretzelattack

    excellent comments. i’m steeling myself for a clinton victory, my question is what can we do to derail this insanity that we didn’t do to derail the iraq insanity?

  17. pretzelattack

    and colin powell, wilkerson’s old boss, endorses clinton. still marching in step with the neocons.

  18. f f skitty

    this is the result of pandering to aipac and the neocons.
    israel has absolute control of middle eastern policy. if israel decides that a country is an enemy, guess what happens next.
    john mearsheimer and stephen walt wrote an excellent book on the subject titled ‘the israel lobby’.
    sadly, american voters can’t be bothered with reading a book about how foreign policy is formed and implemented.

  19. blurtman

    We would put ant-aircraft missile technology into a confederate’s hands, and they would shot down the violators. Kurd, Turk, Iraqi,…

  20. sierra7

    Actually advocating and applying a “No Fly Zone” is an act of war in itself…don’t have to wait until a “foreign” entity intrudes.

  21. RBHoughton

    I am so glad your site picked up this TRNN report.

    They have a fine record of getting the important news before their public and they have some reliable and thoughtful consultants like Wilkerson to call.

    Having said that it needs Naked Capitalism to draw the economic consequences of foreign policy and economics may be one of the prime factors about western acts in middle east.

    The large sums of public money being transferred to war materiel manufacturers in North America and Europe is the only good economic news in both areas. We are also getting an inexpensive supply of energy out of Libya and Turkey and we have put fear and trembling into the BRICS who might otherwise have sought to evade our tax and use their own paper for exchange.

    It would be really useful if NC added the economic view to this sort of article imo.

  22. Roland

    1. I don’t believe Turkey has truly repaired relations with Russia. Erdogan has proven himself to be a master of intrigue–we just saw how he tricked and destroyed the disaffected officer cliques in his own country. I think Erdogan is merely temporizing with Putin, while the US election campaign is underway. If Trump unexpectedly happens to win, then Erdogan has covered his butt and kept his options open. If Clinton wins, then I expect Turkey will resume a large role in NATO action in Syria.

    2. Once Clinton moves towards war, the Kurds are going to get sold down the river again. The Kurds have gotten used and sold out by the USA in the past (e.g. 1991). The Kurds are getting used and sold out by the USA in the present (after doing more to fight ISIS than any other US ally, the Kurds got told to stay behind the Euphrates). The Kurds are going to get used and sold out again by the USA in the future (because Turkey is an indispensable ally in any sort of confrontation with Russia). The USA’s successful exploitation of Kurdish nationalism over the past quarter-century has been a quiet little triumph of and imperialist divide-and-rule policy. Kurdish leaders, of whatever stripe, have so far failed to cultivate any alternatives. Therefore, no matter how badly the Americans treat the Kurds, the Kurds have to keep crawling back for more.m

  23. Denis Drew

    Maybe we could try arming the Aleppo rebels with shoulder fired anti-air missiles — like we armed Afgan rebels with to shoot down Russian fighters and helicopters.

    In the abstract extreme it is possible to imagine US troops embedded with the rebels using powerful truck launched Patriot missiles (the kind that shot down Saddam’s Scuds) to defend themselves if the Russians tried to bomb them. Cannot blame anyone for defending their own lives. In the very abstract.

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