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Do We Really Want A War With Russia?

user profile picture Chris Martenson Oct 07, 2016
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This report was initially written for our premium subscribers. But given the significance of the topic, we're making a rare exception and releasing it to the general public. 

I wish I could say things were improving between the US and Russia but they aren't. They're rapidly worsening.

There’s so much happening right now, I can only provide a summary of a few of the more interesting and worrying developments.

This report builds on those I've released over the past two years and begins with a chilling editorial put out by the NY Times on September 29th, 2016, which further demonized Putin specifically, Russia generally, and openly advocates for military confrontation.

Hey, we’ve been down this path before.  The deeply conflicted NY Times has never met a war in the Middle East it didn’t support, and has never had any trouble repeating war plan talking points (that always neatly align with those put out by neocon think tanks) or even printing obviously fake “intelligence” from unnamed sources such as that used to justify the illegal US attack and invasion of Iraq.

As a reminder for my US readers who many only have read US press sources on the matter, prior to being attacked Iraq had never threatened the US, had no role in 9/11, and had allowed extensive UN access to its country’s military bases none of which ever showed the slightest trace of manufacturing weapons of mass destruction. And, even if they had been producing these so-called weapons of mass destruction (weapons which are also owned and maintained in the US, for the record), there was still no legal case for an attack by the US because pre-emptive attacks are not justifiable, ever. 

What the NY Times has done, again, I fear, is served as a conduit for neocon talking points and therefore has become a propaganda arm readying the US population for another war, this one with Russia.  This is a very disturbing development.

Here’s the editorial, into which I have inserted comments where appropriate [in brackets].  Remember, propaganda is designed to elicit core emotional responses such as fear, anger, moral indignation, and a sense of threat to one’s very survival:

Vladimir Putin’s Outlaw State

Sept 29, 2016

President Vladimir Putin is fast turning Russia into an outlaw nation. As one of five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, his country shares a special responsibility to uphold international law. Yet, his behavior in Ukraine and Syria violates not only the rules intended to promote peace instead of conflict, but also common human decency.

[Which “rules intended to promote peace” is the NY Times referring to here?  The same sorts of rules that led NATO to bomb Libya back into the stone age?  Or are these the “rules” that allow a country to manufacture fake evidence on Iraq and then attack that country unleashing a decade of bitter sectarian violence?  Also, how does “common human decency fit into that schema?  I’m truly curious.]

This bitter truth was driven home twice on Wednesday. An investigative team led by the Netherlands concluded that the surface-to-air missile system that shot down a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine in July 2014, killing 298 on board, was sent from Russia to Russian-backed separatists and returned to Russia the same night.

[The MH-17 disaster is anything but clear-cut and the JIT investigation was heavily compromised from the start.  Nothing like the claim being made here is supported by the actual investigation evidence presented.  This is pure, unsupported speculation at this stage.  More on this at a later date.]

Meanwhile, in Syria, Russian and Syrian warplanes knocked out two hospitals in the rebel-held sector of Aleppo as part of an assault that threatens the lives of 250,000 more people in a war that has already claimed some 500,000 Syrian lives.

[Meanwhile, in Afghanistan the US bombed a MSF hospital and has killed ~90% innocents with its drone program.  Also, not to pick nits, but the US and European interests funded and started the war in Syria.  It seems a bit short-sighted to now claim that Russia bears some special responsibility for the lives at stake.  You have to forget everything that happened prior to this moment.]

Russia has tried hard to pin the blame for the airline crash on Ukraine. But the new report, produced by prosecutors from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine, confirms earlier findings. It uses strict standards of evidence and meticulously documents not only the deployment of the Russian missile system that caused the disaster but also Moscow’s continuing cover-up.

[Nope.  Just nope.  I’ll detail why in a future report, but the MH-17 investigation was bogus from the get go.  Short version: there were only two suspects, the Ukrainian military and rebels.  The Ukrainian secret service (SBU) was inside the investigation from the beginning and supplied all of the ‘evidence’ against Russia and the rebels.  What investigation ever has one of the prime suspects supplying the evidence?  As I said, completely rigged and bogus.]

Some Western officials have accused Russia of war crimes, charges that could be pursued through international channels, even if Moscow blocks a formal referral to the International Criminal Court. New sanctions against Russia also should be considered. Mr. Putin will undoubtedly fight any such action, using his veto on the Security Council, but whatever his response, the United States should lend its support to Ukraine’s quest for accountability.

[“Some western officials?”  There the NYT goes again with the unnamed sources.  How about you name names this time NY Times?  Well, in truth, a whole host of named individuals and organizations have accused the US of war crimes, as well as Israel, which the US has routinely blocked.  Glass houses and all of that.]

Over recent days, Mr. Putin has again shown his true colors with air attacks that have included powerful bunker-busting bombs that can destroy underground hospitals and safety zones where civilians seek shelter.

[Note the slippery use of the word ‘can’ in this sentence.  Have they been used to target and destroy hospitals and civilian safety zones, or not?]

On Sept. 19, Russia bombed an aid convoy, which like hospitals and civilians are not supposed to be targeted under international law.

[Russia denies this, and has also released radar evidence showing that the only planes in the region at the time were two US drones, plus the sort of damage seen on the fire-destroyed trucks is consistent with the damage caused by the US drone based Hellfire missile.   If the US wants to release some radar data showing Russian planes in the area or other compelling evidence, then we can all be more confident in that claim.  For now the NY Times is repeating an unproven assertion made by the US State Department.]

President Obama has long refused to approve direct military intervention in Syria. And Mr. Putin may be assuming that Mr. Obama is unlikely to confront Russia in his final months and with an American election season in full swing. But with the rebel stronghold in Aleppo under threat of falling to the government, administration officials said that such a response is again under consideration.

[The “rebel stronghold in Aleppo under threat” is interesting use of evocative language.  However the nature of war is that the sides attempt to take key positions form each other.  The “rebels’ in question are some of the most dodgy humans to ever walk the planet.  The rebels backed by the US include nasty elements of Al-Nusra, Al-Qaida,  ISIS and a host of really vile outfits.  If you are not aware, these groups have executed thousands of civilians, taken sex slaves, and conducted other horrible crimes against the innocent. ]

Mr. Putin fancies himself a man on a mission to restore Russia to greatness. Russia could indeed be a great force for good. Yet his unconscionable behavior — butchering civilians in Syria and Ukraine, annexing Crimea, computer-hacking American government agencies, crushing dissent at home — suggests that the furthest thing from his mind is becoming a constructive partner in the search for peace.

[Pay close attention to that word “unconscionable.”  It really stood out for me here and I knew something was up when I heard it used again by a US official.  It will soon appear again in media quotes below.  For now, let’s just note that every act declared as 'unconscionable' has also recently been done by the US: civilians have been ‘butchered’ (again a strongly evocative word very different from the ‘collateral damage and targeting mistakes’ that the US reserves for its own actions), computers have been hacked (even Angela Merkel’s cell phone as you may recall), and peaceful protests have been crushed in the US, most recently a peaceful prayer circle of Native Americans at Standing Rock by heavily armed LEO’s who brought armored personnel carriers for the task)]

(Source)

Okay, that editorial was yet another in a long line from the NY Times which has never met a neocon-proposed war it didn’t blindly support.  Supposedly the bastion of the east coast liberal elites, the NY Times is actually acting once again more like the personal propaganda arm of the US necons and Israeli likuds who have been dragging the US into one war after another.  

As I’ve written about extensively in the past, a war this time could mean anything from a shooting (kinetic) war, to a cyberwar, financial or trade war, or even a hacking attack that takes out the grid or other critical infrastructure.  If you want to go deeper into the details of what that might mean and how you should prepare, we have a more extensive Part 2 of this report prepared.

Now, lets continue on with our thesis that a propaganda effort is underway to drag the US into yet another useless war. This one with the potential to literally end the US as a going concern. 

I’m going to skip over a few events here so we can connect this propaganda dot.  Then we’ll get back to the other worrying events that show how the situation with Russia is deteriorating badly.

Fast forward just five days from that NY Times editorial and we read this:

White House Warns of 'Actions' If Russia Won't Negotiate

Oct 4, 2016

President Obama faces an increasingly stark choice in Syria — he can order American military action or watch thousands of women and children die as the rebel stronghold of Aleppo falls.

So far, he has shown no willingness to launch a U.S. military response, but White House officials told NBC News Monday they are now considering escalating the U.S. involvement in Syria's civil war, including unspecified "actions…that would further underscore the consequences of not coming back to the negotiating table."

American intelligence officials on Monday pointedly accused Russian and Syrian forces of mass atrocities during their advance on the city, describing a horrific bombing campaign in recent days that has killed women and children at an increasing rate.

"The regime and Russia's use of incendiary weapons have contributed to the unconscionable civilian deaths and suffering," a U.S. intelligence official said.

(Source)

How much more obvious can all that be?  First there’s a NY Times editorial that literally lays to a series of talking points ranging from women and children being at risk to a rebel stronghold to unconscionable civilian deaths and suffering.

It’s all there in this second article and, just for a bonus, it’s all attributed to unnamed White House and intelligence “officials.”  Exactly the same pattern we saw in the run up to the Iraq war.  I would put a lot of money on the bet that these scripted talking points were developed by a small team of neocons operating in the shadows.  A lot of money.

As in the past, when these folks pull the levers to try and goad the US into a(nother) war, they never come out in the open. They always hide behind anonymity. Your tip-off is the number of times you read the words “US officials” or  “a highly placed source” or some other phrase that hides the individual while evoking authority.

If they weren't so secretive, we’d certainly see the pattern more easily for what it actually is – the same small cadre of people who are always agitating for the use of military force to “solve” whatever objectives they are seeking.

Now, of course it’s horrible when civilians get trapped or die in a war. But here we might note that if a nation truly cannot abide innocent deaths, then it also shouldn't go about starting wars, or supplying military armaments.

I mean, let’s wander a few miles south of Syria and take a peek at what’s happening in Yemen where the US is supplying both weapons and targeting data to the Saudis:

Civilian casualties in Yemen bring charges of U.S. responsibility for Saudi actions

Civilian casualties have spiked in Yemen since the collapse of peace talks in August, the United Nations reported recently, bringing the total number of civilians killed since March 2015, when a coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched its operation against Houthi rebels there, to more than 4,000.

Despite repeated strikes on schools and hospitals, officials see little choice for now but continued support, given the intense desire to shore up a bilateral relationship rocked by President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and new legislation linked to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

(Source)

Where are the ‘unnamed officials’ wringing their hands at thousand of innocent deaths in Yemen?  Where’s our sense of responsibility for being the primary arms dealer to the Saudis, and direct supplying them with targeting data? These morals are nowhere to be found when it comes to Yemen.

In fact, according to ‘officials’ in the above article, when it comes to Yemen, the desire to make nice with the Saudis (after the Iran deal) is the driving US objective at the moment.

In other words, in Yemen, political realities are more important than innocent lives.  Ah, do you see it now?  Innocent deaths don’t matter as much as the political realities. 

How can it be a moral imperative in Syria but a political one when it comes to Yemen?

Would it be out of line for us to wonder if perhaps these same ‘officials’ are merely using the innocent deaths in Syria as cover for some deeper political purposes that are really the main drivers?

To me, morality is not conditional.  Either innocent deaths are always unconscionable, or they aren't.  They cannot be morally unacceptable in one place and subservient to political realities in another.  Obama cannot cry for the children of Sandy Hook one day, but continue the drone program (which kills lots of children) with steely determination the next. 

Which is why I am especially on alert when I read such things as the NY Times editorial above, which screams out a moral argument when a quick scan of the news reveals a profound lack of moral consistency.  As ever, that’s a red flag that propaganda is being deployed.  Morals are for the populace…when you need something from them, like their consent.

In psychological terms, what’s happening here is called projection.  This is what happens when an individual, or a nation, accuses an external party of the exact same traits that they secretly dislike about themselves.

An example being a parent who procrastinates at work but then yells harshly at their child for not doing their very best at school.  Or the explosive anger that an aggressive driver displays when someone cuts them off. 

This very human habit of projecting our shadows onto others is very, very dangerous when it gets to the explosive blame stage.

Deep, dark and highly emotional and irrational outbursts are what follows.  Insults are slung, sometimes objects are thrown, that forever change the relationship.  Real damage can be inflicted in such moments that sometimes cannot be undone. Do we really want that kind of breakdown with nuclear-armed Russia?

A No Fly Zone

So, when it comes to Russia, what are the military options that an angry US might pursue?

This too is easy to track because the neocons write about their plans openly and prolifically, and they are especially fond of imposing no-fly zones.  What this always means to them, however, is not the absence of aircraft from a given area, but rather that no planes besides US/NATO planes are flying over the area.  No-fly only applies to the other side, naturally.

A no-fly zone means you have air supremacy and therefore control over a country.

There are two ways to create this. The first is a low level no-fly zone where you supply shoulder-fired antiaircraft rockets (“manpads”) to the rebel forces.  These have limited range so they basically keep low-level aircraft out of the picture; helicopters, low and slow flying support/attack aircraft and the like. 

The second level is to bring your own aircraft into the theater to enforce a complete no-fly zone at all altitudes.

Unsurprisingly, I came across this from the Brookings Institution, a key neocon ‘think tank,’ in August. So I knew where all this was heading:

We must also be clever about employing various options for no-fly zones: We cannot shoot down an airplane without knowing if it’s Russian or Syrian, but we can identify those aircraft after the fact and destroy Syrian planes on the ground if they were found to have barrel-bombed a neighborhood, for example.

These kinds of operations are complicated, no doubt, and especially with Russian aircraft in the area—but I think we have made a mistake in tying ourselves in knots over the issue, since there are options we can pursue.

(Source – Brookings – O’Hanlon)

Yes, “these operations are complicated, no doubt…” is another breezy dismissal, similar to how all Iraqis were going to greet the American forces as "libertators" after Desert Sheild. As if engaging a major nuclear superpower with advanced hardware were no different from the complexities involved in taking out Gadhafi. 

The “various options” mentioned are code-speak for supplying manpads to the rebels. It might be helpful to recall that the Russians have not (yet) supplied similar hardware to any of the various forces the US and NATO are fighting in Libya, Iraq, or Afghanistan, and they’ve not yet decided to start shooting US and NATO planes out of the sky either.  One could see that as an act of restraint that could be lifted at some point, enormously complicating US ambitions in a variety of military theaters.

How these Brookings neocons have any voice left at all after the massive screwups in all the prior conflicts they cheered on an supported is beyond me.  Anybody making the case that it is simply “complicated” to take on Russia should lose their job, be laughed off the stage, and have to find other employment.

But they’d have lots of company in that unemployment line, including at least one US Senator.  Speaking about making life more difficult for the Russians, on September 30th, 2016 John McCain said:

MCCAIN: No, but I might do what we did in Afghanistan many years ago, to give those guys the ability to shoot down those planes. That equipment is available.

CAVUTO: Who would be shooting them down?

MCCAIN: The Free Syrian Army, just like the Afghans shot down the Russian…

CAVUTO: Not us?

MCCAIN: No. Just like the Russians — the Afghans shot down Russian planes after Russia invaded Afghanistan.

(Source)

McCain is calling for arming the rebels with manpads, again a dangerous escalation that really needs to be debated vigorously at the highest levels because anything that begins a hot (kinetic) war with Russia in Syria stands little chance of remaining safely contained there.    Further, it would greatly increase the risk of Russia returning the favor to the US elsewhere. 

It’s also worth remembering here that in mid-September the US, using two F16s and two A-10 “low and slow” attack aircraft bombed a Syrian government position killing anywhere from 60 to 100 government troops that where garrisoning a surrounded position whose borders were well known to all parties.

While the US pentagon dismissed the incident as a ‘targeting error’ implying a few bombs errantly fell in the wrong place, everybody in the business knows better.  Those bombs fell exactly where there were meant to fall, and Russia’s view is that the US did this on purpose, especially since a coordinated ISIS attack followed minutes later on the same position allowing ISIS to make a key advance. 

The fact the A-10’s were involved only hardens my view that this was not an accident on the part of the US.  Those aircraft are meant to fly low and be used for close in support.  Who got bombed and who advanced with close in support?  Answering those questions leads to the conclusion that the US has already militarily attacked the Syrian government, and by extension Russia and, once again, “inadvertently” provided military support to ISIS (done previously when “errant” drops of pallets loaded with military gear that landed on ISIS positions).

Russia Responds

So, what’s been Russia’s response to all this? 

Well, they terminated diplomatic communications on Oct 3rd:

Contacts between Russian and US military on Syria suspended 

MOSCOW, October 3./TASS/. Exchange of information between Russian and US military over Syria has stopped of late, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on Monday.

"All contacts between the military have been stopped of late, there has been no exchange of information," he said.

(Source

That’s probably not a good sign.

As another reminder, we’d like to point out that Russia already has their S-400 anti-aircraft missile system in place, which has an enormous range and can take out US and NATO aircraft from a ridiculous distance:

This is one of the most, if not the most sophisticated anti-aircraft systems in the world.  Note to armchair warriors in the neocon central: this system is more than a ‘complication.’  It is a game changing system, which will end lives and destroy the hardware of any country that goes up against it.

This ‘complication’ is why this 4-star general visibly freezes when a dreadfully uninformed (or ignorant, or possibly unintelligent) Senator on the armed service committee asks why the US hasn't already enforced a no fly zone in Syria:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmE9Jj-rEVs

Now, such a system is vulnerable to being taken out, of course.  Not by a bombing run by aircraft, but by a missile attack, perhaps a cruise missile.

Which explains this next bit of news, also from Oct 4:

Russia deploys advanced anti-missile system to Syria for first time, US officials say

Oct 4, 2016

Russia has deployed an advanced anti-missile system to Syria for the first time, three US officials tell Fox News, the latest indication that Moscow continues to ramp up its military operations in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad.

It comes after Russia's actions led to the collapse of a cease-fire and the cut-off of direct talks with the U.S.  

While Moscow’s motives are not certain, officials say the new weapon system could potentially counter any American cruise missile attack in Syria.

Components of the SA-23 Gladiator anti-missile and anti-aircraft system, which has a range of roughly 150 miles, arrived over the weekend “on the docks” of a Russian naval base along Syria’s Mediterranean coastal city of Tartus, two US officials said.

It is the first time Russia has deployed the SA-23 system outside its borders, according to one Western official citing a recent intelligence assessment. The missiles and associated components are still in their crates and are not yet operational, according to the officials.

The U.S. intelligence community has been observing the shipment of the SA-23 inside Russia in recent weeks, according to one official.

While the purpose is not clear, one US official asked sarcastically, “Nusra doesn’t have an air force do they?” speaking about the Al Qaeda-linked group in Syria.  The Islamic State also does not fly any manned aircraft or possess cruise missiles, in a sign that Russia is directing its actions to protect itself against any potential attack from the United States or its allies. 

(Source)

Heh heh.  “While the purpose is not clear…”  That’s funny.  The purpose could note be any clearer if it were written in neon on a billboard outside the bedroom window of this “US official.”  The purpose is to protect its other military hardware from a US attack,.

It’s there because the US is ramping up its 'no fly' talk and preparing its citizens via propaganda pieces in the NY Times, et al., for a major conflict with Russia. 

It’s there because all trust is gone and the time for talking has come to a close.

It’s there because the US is pushing for a war with Russia that cannot be sold on its own merits and so its being sold as a humanitarian mission to prevent more unconscionable acts from being carried out (and pay no mind to similar such acts being carried out by Israel against Palestinians, or Saudis against Yemenis).

Prepping for War

Now, what would a responsible government do if hostilities were increasing between major superpowers and the possibility, if not the inevitability, of an armed conflict were on the horizon?

Well, they’d do more than prepare their citizens to accept the moves via propaganda, they get their citizens to physically prepare as well.

In Germany we see this sort of view:

German Politician to Sputnik: 'US Pulling Us Into Abyss of War in Middle East'

Oct 1, 2016

How has the situation on the ground in Syria changed after a year of Russian military involvement? Speaking to Sputnik, veteran German politician Willy Wimmer suggested that it has demonstrated that Russia is the only major power ready to seriously fight terrorism, and to call for an end to a war which risks spreading across the region.

The US and its allies, meanwhile, have only managed to throw a wrench in the peace process, and have been unable to reach any of their own goals due to the Russian intervention, the politician argues.

Wimmer is a veteran member of the Christian Democratic Union with over thirty years of experience in the Bundestag. The politician has served as State Secretary of the German Defense Ministry, and as a vice president of the OSCE; he is a close friend of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

Interviewed by Sputnik Deutschland and asked to comment on the evolution of the Syrian crisis, Wimmer began by noting that virtually from the beginning, that conflict was a product of foreign meddling. "What we are witnessing today is part of a longer development," the politician said. "The civil war which broke out five years ago resulted in a tragic struggle right at the moment when the Syrian-Israeli conflict over the Golan Heights seemed to have already been settled. All that was left to do was sign the agreement which could have resulted in peace in the Middle East. And if not for certain forces who were not interested in peace, this agreement would have been signed." "We know that at the very beginning of the Syrian tragedy, British, French and US special forces became involved, giving this war, at the moment looking more like a civil conflict, a global significance," the politician emphasized

Now, Wimmer suggested, the central question comes down to "whether we can put an end to this disaster and prevent the spread of the Syrian inferno to other countries, which would signify the start of a great war."