Russian victory in Novorossiya as a new chapter opens in Syria - September, 2014

The current geopolitical landscape is evolving fast. The old format so recklessly put together by Western powers during the aftermaths of the first and second world wars is slowly changing. The unipolarity of the post-Soviet era is gradually and now increasingly painfully transforming into a multipolar reality. Although they may still seem invisible to the untrained eye, we are in fact witnessing the twilight of Western global hegemony.

What is happening in Ukraine and in the Middle East today is very serious and it goes beyond the threat of regional wars per se for what's ultimately at stake is the current - Western - world order. Even veteran Western diplomats such as Henry Kissinger are now beginning to recognize this Western dilemma. I do not need to remind the old war criminal that "the concept of order that has underpinned the modern era is in crisis" today primarily because the political order in question could not be sustained for it was based on the unsustainable paradigm of perpetual growth economic model and unipolarity in politics (i.e. Western global hegemony).

It is therefore quite inevitable that borders will be changing around the world in the coming years and blood will be spilled. How drastic the changes and how cruel the bloodshed yet remains to be seen. Nevertheless, what we are living through in recent years is the birthpangs of a post Anglo-American world. The new, multipolar world order will thus be born in a lot of pain and anguish. While Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Georgia and Libya were the prelude, Syria and Ukraine are the opening acts of what will eventually prove to be a very long and bloody play that will ultimately end with the death of the Anglo-American-Zionist world order. But humanity  still has a long way to go before it witnesses that finale.

The need for new enemies as the face of 9/11 changes

For centuries it has been recognized that "all warfare is based on deception". Less recognized within this category of warfare however is the following realization: A leadership must deceive not only its enemy but also its citizenry - because history has taught us that waging war without the enthusiastic support of the subjects, be it in a kingdom, democracy or a dictatorship, is a recipe for disaster. 

In modern times making war by deception has become a highly refined art form and an exact science. State officials continue to seek ways to make their subjects want to fight enemies both real and unreal. Depending on what civilization a particular nation finds itself in, religion, nationalism, tribalism and/or fear are effective tools to use in this regard. And the catalyst upon which the aforementioned tools travel upon is a nation's educational system, internet, news media, television programming and cinema.

On the eve of the thirteenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the house negro serving in the White House (I actually feel sorry for the man and his family) was handed a script to read. Suddenly, all the pieces of the ISIS puzzle are falling into place. It is beginning to make better sense now. ISIS, ISIL, IS or whatever else they will call it in the coming years is the new Al-Qaeda and the highly suspicious beheadings of Foley, Sotloff and Haines (I am not sure about Haines but the first two in my opinion were intelligence operatives working for the CIA and Mossad respectively) was the new 9/11.

In other words, it's the changing face of 9/11. Similar to what Al-Qaeda was before its terror value for the American cattle expired several years ago when they put the overused and no longer scary Osama Bin Laden scarecrow to rest, ISIS is the new, even nastier monster created via their allies in the region - Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Jordan - and exploited by Western intelligence.

In short, ISIS was meant to literally slaughter its way into the people's consciousness and dwell in their nightmares. ISIS was meant to turn the typical antiwar pacifist in the Western world into a warmonger. Similar to what Western forces did in Baghdad in 2003, ISIS was meant to "shock and awe" its enemies on the ground into retreating without resisting. Now, ISIS provides the perfect opportunity to breakup Iraq, bomb Syria and pull imperial forces from the West back into the strategic Middle East. With ISIS running wild in Mesopotamia they have once more given their so-called "war on terror" a whole new life. With ISIS, they have once more terrified the Anglo-American cattle into actually wanting their militaries to return to Iraq. With the appearance of ISIS, American officials have also managed to stop the further Iranification of Iraq by essentially forcing the Shiite-led Iraqi government to grant Iraqi Sunnis more political power.

Deception, manipulation and - conflict management - at its finest and ugliest.

For the elite of any ambitious political entity, having an enemy is important because it helps governing bodies focus resources and rally the sheeple. After all, if all's well and the country is not threatened, how would they excuse the expenditure of a nation's fortune on arms procurement? How would they explain the need to maintain hundreds of military bases around the world? How would they explain why troops had to kill and be killed in remote lands Americans cannot pronounce let alone locate on the map? If there was no imminent threat to the nation how would they question the citizenry's patriotism and stifle dissent? Without a very imminent threat facing the nation how would they explain tampering with the nation's constitution? None of what I am saying here is a new revelation -

As the reader can see, having an enemy is very important for an ambitious nation-state. But Washington and friends have had a problem in this regard because for the past twenty-five years the Western political order has not had any serious/major enemies on the global stage.

So, what to do?

Well, create an enemy - maybe even two, or three, or four... 

The bigger you are the more manageable enemies you have the better. Washington and friends are so powerful, so self-assured - and so blinded by gluttony and arrogance - that they actually have the need to create enemies in today's world. And they are actually excelling at it. They have in recent years managed to turn Venezuela, Russia, Syria, Iran, North Korea and China into enemies, and they have quite literally created the terror group ISIS as yet another archenemy to focus the American cattle's attention on for the next few years. I guess the following political cartoon does a much better job of explaining what I am trying to convey to the reader -

The simple process pictured in the cartoon above is more-or-less what took place in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and it is what they are currently trying to do in Syria. This simple process is what's behind the genocide of Christians and Yezidis in Syria and Iraq. Western powers and their regional Wahhabi friends have turned the Middle East into a bloodbath from which it will not recover for another few generations.

Similar to how they have turned Russia into the new enemy to protect Europe from, as they pursue their self-serving imperial agenda of curbing the rise of Russian influence in the region, ISIS will henceforth be the new enemy to protect the Middle East from, as they pursue their self-serving imperial agenda of curbing the rise of Iranian influence in the region. For Washingtonian reptiles, Russophobic racists in eastern Europe and Iranophobic Wahhabists in the Middle East therefore essentially serve the exact same geostrategic purpose.

We are therefore now back in square one. We are back to where we started from last year. It was only last summer when the global community was standing again on the verge of witnessing yet another major Western war crime in the making. Back then, as many of you shall recall, it was the serin gas attack on civilians that they used as an excuse. Despite clear evidence that the gas attack was carried-out by anti-Assad Islamic militants themselves, Western powers did their best to blame Bashar Assad's government. Their only concern was to justify a military aggression against Syria. The reader may recall that this was also about the time when the bloodthirsty war criminal known as John McCain was in Syria meeting with Islamic extremists that many say were in fact ISIS members. Then, quite unexpectedly, Russian intervention forced them to call off their attack plans. This was almost exactly one year ago, but no one in their right mind thought that it would be the end of the story.

No one who understands anything about geopolitics and the political West thought that the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance would be forced to sit at the table with a victorious Bashar Assad - with Moscow mediating nonetheless. After all, the brutal reputation of the American empire as well as the crucially important agenda to curb the growth of Shiite power and Russian influence in the Middle East was at stake. Therefore, the Anglo-American-Zionists would go to any length to realize their goals. One of the lengths they went to, so as it now seems, was to use all their levers in the region (primarily Anbar province Sunni tribes, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and Turkey) to prop-up the present day monster known as ISIS and use it as an excuse to set their sights back on Syria.

Exactly a year after their plans against Syria was foiled at the last minute by Moscow, they have quite literally found a backdoor entry into Syria. Warmongers in the West are once more beating the war drums against Syria because in the convoluted, bloodstained world of the Anglo-American-Zionist global order: "Defeating the Islamic State will also require attacks on the Assad regime".

When they announced their plan to attack Syria a year ago they were met with an antiwar outcry throughout the US. This time around they have figured out a way to get the American cattle to support their plan. As noted above, Americans have been shocked into compliance. An amazing feat of social engineering and mind control I must say! I guess the power of nightmares does work wonders for warpigs in Washington after all. Since American civilization today is devoid of spirituality, genuine patriotism, critical thinking and rationale, fear is what works best with Americans. Scare the shit out of the little sheeple and then herd them to wherever you want them to go! As I said, deception and conflict management at its ugliest.

Even from a basic military/strategic point of view the rationale behind Washington's motive does not make much sense. After all, this is not a domestic dispute or a street fight and the military staff in Washington are not novices. The American empire has been waging wars overseas every few years on average. Simply put: You don't go after a perceived enemy thousands of miles away when the enemy in question is supposedly trying to draw you into a war. You don't go to war under the enemy's terms. You don't wage a war on a whole region nonetheless simply because someone there has supposedly murdered a few of your citizens. Nations, major powers in particular, wage wars for strategic and/or economic reasons, and such wars are carefully/meticulously planned for many years in advance. In other words, despite what you hear on the television by government mouthpieces, when US troops invaded Iraq in 2003 under the pretext of searching for weapons-of-mass-destruction, it wasn't a "mistakes", it was an agenda. On the other side of the coin: As sophisticated as they are said to be, why would ISIS leadership try to attract Western attention by publicly killing Westerners and taunting President Obama when they are already waging a war against non-aligned rebel groups in Syria, Bashar Assad's Allewites, Shiites of Iraq and Kurds? As clever as they seem to be are they so stupid as to needlessly provoke the Western military against them? Didn't they supposedly see what happened back in 2001 when Al-Qaeda allegedly provoked the West? 

In the big picture: What is happening in Syria and Iraq is ultimately a fight over spoils of war. Syria and Iraq, as we knew them, are dead. A new nation, or nations, are to emerge from the ashes of what was once Syria and Iraq. All are now currently maneuvering to get a piece of the pie once its ready. In other words, the fighting now is about who will get what after the final bomb explodes. All (i.e. Western powers, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia and Iran) are currently maneuvering for the best seat in the house. ISIS therefore needs the West to reinvade Iraq and rekindle the Western agenda in Syria.

Therefore, I ask: What interests is ISIS serving? The answer is: Western, Israeli, Turkish and Gulf Arab interests. The entire story behind ISIS and the current case for war against ISIS is stuff worthy only for a tacky Hollywood movie. For the life of me I do not understand how humans - adults - believe all this bullshit.

Islamic wing of the Western war machine

Sunni Islamic groups are first and foremost serving a Western agenda in the Middle East. What is happening in Iraq and Syria is first and foremost an anti-Shiite/anti-Iranian agenda. Evidence of this agenda is the ten years old civil war in Yemen where tens-of-thousands of people have died as a result of an uprising against the Yemeni government. But because the rebels in Yemen are Shiites and the dictatorial government in Sanaa is led by Sunnis, the Western press has all but ignored the conflict and the Western public knows next to nothing about what's going on in the country. In fact, US military operations have actually been targeting the Shiite rebel leadership in Yemen under the guise of pursuing Islamic terrorists or Al-Qaeda operatives. Needless to say, having suffered Anglo-American-Zionist oppression for many decades, Iranians will not go along with Washington's latest plan for the Middle East. Please make time to read the Iranian take on current events -
Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif's Full NPR Interview:
Iran’s Rouhani blames ‘certain intelligence agencies’ for rise of global extremism:
For several decades now Wahhabi/Salafi extremist groups have essentially been the Islamic wing of the Anglo-American-Zionist war machine. Ever since the CIA made a pact with Saudi-backed Islamic radicals in Pakistan starting around 1979, the Wahhabi factor has been an important component in Western policy formulations throughout Eurasia. Seeing how successful they were against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980s, Western powers have been using Islamic extremists in various theaters around the world with increasing frequency in recent years.

The following picture is more-or-less how it all started -

The following picture is where we are today -

From the Caucasus to the Balkans, from North Africa to Central Asia, Islamic hordes have been advancing one Western interest after another. Similar to how Libyan and Syrian "rebel" groups have had offices in Western nations, even Turkic Uyghurs of China who have been periodically carrying-out horrible attacks against civilians there have a presence inside Washington. If one day the Turkic/Islamic agenda advances in China, you can bet it will have been masterminded and put into effect right from Washington -
"Democracy, Human Rights and Self-Determination for the Uyghur Poeple in East Turkestan":
In stark contrast to what Washington has been doing in Ukraine, where the sentiments of the pro-Russia population there was utterly disregarded and crimes against it were totally ignored, talk about combating ISIS is now oddly being centered around creating an "all-inclusive" government in Baghdad. "All-inclusive" is a code word for stopping further growth of Shiite power in Iraq. Every single American political pundit, newspaper op-ed or US official I have seen addressing the situation at hand is primarily concerned about helping minority Sunnis share government with majority Shiites. It's all about curbing Shiite/Iranian influence/power. Needless to say, in case Shiites of Iraq resist the aforementioned agenda in any meaningful way, Washington and friends hold the option of having ISIS type groups carve out of Iraq a territory for Sunnis similar to what they have done with Kurdistan in northern Iraq.

Nevertheless, the resulting media hype about ISIS throughout the mainstream news press in the Western world has been breathtakingly thorough. Who in their right minds now would dare speak publicly against the valiant Western effort to fight bloodthirsty barbarians that go around blowing up monuments, beheading westerners and genociding locals? Yet, unbeknownst to the public, ISIS can actually be stopped with just two phone calls: one to Riyadh, one to Ankara.

[Speaking of ISIS, Riyadh and Ankara, there may in fact be a conflict brewing inside ISIS vis-à-vis Kurdistan. Naturally, Ankara does not want to see an independent Kurdistan to its south, whereas Saudi Arabia, Israel and Western powers do. Some of the discrepancies we have been seeing with regards to actions taken by ISIS may therefore have its root in this internal matter. In my opinion, this will prove to be the Achilles' Heel of ISIS]

For added perspective on regional geopolitics, the Western role in the Middle East, ISIS or Islamic terrorism in general, please revisit my blog commentaries -
September 11, 2001 (September 11, 2011):

Washington finally closing the chapter on the Osama Bin Laden fairytale (May, 2011):

U.S. ambassador to Libya killed in rocket attack (September, 2012):

Tsarnaev brothers, secret services and Islamic terrorism (April, 2013):

Driving a Sunni wedge in the Shiite Arc (July, 2014):
I reiterate: With the overused and now ineffective name "Al-Qaeda" no longer able to keep the American cattle awake at nights, ISIS headhunters will henceforth be the convenient excuse to continue their crimes against humanity and keep the strategic region in question embroiled in bloody conflict. Therefore a new, and perhaps a more bloody chapter is being opened in global affairs. Russians, Syrians and Iranians are already seeing the writing on the wall. Major powers are once more converging over Mesopotamia. It will be interesting to see how this all will play out in the coming months and years. In the meanwhile may God help Bashar Assad and all Alewites and Christians in Syria.

Russian victory in Novorossiya

Ever since that very awkward handshake in Minsk between President Putin and the chocolate king, it was essentially down hill for the ill-fated Ukrainian military effort in Novorossiya. Ukrainian troops have in recent weeks been comprehensively routed by pro-Russian rebels. The town of Ilovaisk in particular will be long remembered for it was the site of an unusually bloody and one-sided military engagement that essentially brought the junta in Kiev to its knees. In a span of twenty-four hours hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers were killed and maimed and dozens of their armored vehicles destroyed -
Aftermath of Ambush on Ukrainian Forces:
Captured Ukrainian ultra-nationalists:

Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin once said "artillery is the god of war". He was certainly right. From all the news reports I have seen, it is now pretty obvious that artillery - large caliber mortars and mobile multiple rocket launchers in particular - played a major role in defeating the Western-backed Ukrainian forces on the battlefields of Novorossiya. Entire Ukrainian army battalions have been all but wiped-out by very accurate strikes. I suspect artillery spotters from the Russian military, perhaps even Russian surveillance drones, were behind these actions that led to the utter defeat of the Ukrainian army.

Kiev is currently in no shape to mount any kind of military operation inside territories under pro-Russian control because they have suffered several thousand casualties and scores of military hardware lost (including a warship) during the several weeks preceding the September 5 truce alone. The following is a partial and still growing list of armored vehicle losses suffered in the civil war in Ukraine -

Список уничтоженной бронетехники:

Ilovaisk was not the only place the junta in Kiev suffered serious losses on the battlefield. Between the time when the above noted handshake took place and the ceasefire of September 05, Kiev suffered a series of devastating losses throughout Novorossiya. This convinced the junta that Novorossiya was not going to be subdued. High combat loses were in fact the reason why Kiev finally sued for a ceasefire. It was only therefore inevitable that such loses on the battlefield would be felt in the political arena as well, as seen in the following polling results and the latest news from Brussels -
Ukrainian Parliament Member Tossed In Trash Bin By Angry Protesters:
EU-Ukraine integration pact postponed till 2016:
It was only inevitable that the tough talking chocolate king, who until very recently refused to negotiate with the pro-Russian rebels and did not hesitate using heavy artillery on civilian targets, is now hoping for peace and promising "special status" for the Russian-speaking population of Novorossiya -
In the opinion of pro-Russian separatist leadership in Novorossiya, as well as mine, concessions from Kiev are too little, too late. As in Nagorno Karabakh, as in Abkhazia, as in South Ossetia, too much blood has been spilled. The pro-Russian population of south-eastern Ukraine has won their right to self-determination. There is a new reality on the ground now that needs to be acknowledged by the West, lest things get much worst for all involved. Nevertheless, Novorossiya, once the industrial heartland of Ukraine, is on the path to self-determination and eventual reunion with Mother Russia. 

In the meanwhile, Kiev will not join NATO nor will it be accepted in the EU. As predicated, Ukraine will become a politically unstable and economically desolate buffer zone between Russia and the West. As predicted, the West will now have to spend a fortune simply to keep Ukraine from becoming a failed on its doorstep. As predicated, the Karabakhization of south-eastern Ukraine is now complete and Novorossiya is defacto liberated and under the protection of Mother Russia.

Having already liberated Crimea and not wanting to overreach and in doing so risk a major war in Europe, Moscow will for the time being be content with merely having indirect control over Novorossiya and in the process sabotage Kiev's prospects of joining either the EU or NATO. Moscow did not want this conflict. This conflict was thrust upon Russia. But grossmeisters in Moscow have been making the most of the situation ever since. More importantly, Moscow has successfully resisted Western efforts in trying to pull Russia into an overt military engagement with Ukraine.

Time to cut the umbilical cord with the West

There was a time when the US Dollar was backed by gold reserves and the global public, including Soviet peoples, looked up to the Western world. Today, the US Dollar is backed by US military interventions around the world and the global public has come to fear and despise the Western world. The political West has become a source of evil around the world. The current global political landscape needs some transformations.

Russia's transition from being a nation that was integrated into the Western-led global economic/financial system (which was essentially imposed on Moscow during the post-Soviet years) into a nation that is truly independent and its economic and financial models based on the sound parameters of nationalism and socialism may prove to be somewhat painful but moving away from Western dependency is absolutely essential for the long-term health and well-being of the Russian nation as well as the world at large. Regardless of how much it may hurt, the Russian Federation needs to gradually move away from the Bretton Woods paradigm.

In the big picture, and in the long-term, by cutting its umbilical cord with the West, what Moscow is doing today is absolutely an essential first step not only for securing its future but also for laying down the foundations of a multipolar world. Moscow needs to concentrate on further deepening its relations with China, India, Egypt, Iran and Brazil. Moscow also needs to do its best to lure Germany and France away from the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance.

Moscow has finally gotten around to addressing Western inroads in a crucially strategic sector in Russian society, its mass media. Foreign ownership in Russian media outlets is to be limited to 20%. By embarking on these types of national security issues, it is only natural that the Kremlin will come into conflict with people in Russia that became very wealthy and influential during the chaotic years following the Soviet collapse. When Moscow thus comes into conflict with its nouveau riche, it is only natural that is will begin cracking down on them if they pose a threat to the state or if don't comply with state regulations. Ultimately, we need to keep in mind that it was Western machinations against the Russian state that has gotten us to where we are today. We also need to recognize that while Russia needs western expertize - it needs to eliminate dependency on Western money even more. In my opinion, the best way forward in this regard is to limit its exposure to the Anglo-American-Zionist world and concentrate on better relations with Germany and France. Nevertheless, Russia desperately needs to shed its 1990s era toxicity. The process to detoxify may hurt a little, but Russia, as an independent state, will be much better off in the long term. In the meanwhile, more power to the Russian state. I am glad to see that it's being built on the sound principles of national socialism -
Foreign participation in Russian mass media to be restricted to 20% in 2016:
Russia Steps Up New Law to Control Foreign Internet Companies:
No doubt Russia may have some short-term problems during this transformation process. It will be the Western system however that will collapse one day because the Western concept of a "perpetual growth" economy, that which the entire Western system is base upon, is utterly irrational and unsustainable. Needless to say, nations closely tied to the West (i.e. nation enslaved by Western banks and mega-corporations) also risk serious collapse in the future.

Nations that allow billionaires to get intimately involved in politics cannot be trusted. Nations that allow powerful lobbies to impact politics cannot be trusted. Nations that allow warmongers to influence politics cannot be trusted. Nations that allow the privatization of strategic infrastructure or national assets cannot be trusted. Nations where financial power takes precedence over national considerations do not have future. 

Simply put: Western style capitalism does not work well in most nations and even in Western nations it will not work well in the long-term.

I am therefore very happy to see that Moscow is finally putting a stout leash on individuals and organizations that became very powerful and influential during the lawless years of the 1990s. I am very happy to see that the Kremlin is finally cracking down on businessmen in Russia that may be cooperating with the West against the Kremlin's wishes. Let's recognize that everything we fear and dislike about the US today is centered on the realization that it's the empire's financial/economic elite - and not genuine American patriots in government - that are dictating policy in Washington. Therefore, I am very glad that Russia is a nation where moneymen are subservient to the state. There is another aspect to this for us Armenians. Had Russia been like the West, where powerful lobbies and moneymen initiate political discourse, Russians would have sold Armenia to the Turks or Azeris a very, very long time ago.

The global community seriously needs to a stop the self-destructive habit of looking at everything from a Western prism. We need to stop comparing everything to the Western model. We can learn a lot from the Western model but we must never become dependent on it. Nation-states need to form pacts that are truly independent and self-sufficient and not allow Western financial firms and/or mega-corporations to buy into a nation's infrastructure or own its national assets. The world needs to put an end to its dependency on Western money because that is essentially where their real power lies.

They have in recent months finally managed to push Moscow to the point where it has no choice but to lessen its economic and financial dependency on the West. Moscow now has no choice but to seek closer relations with non-Western powers like China. And now that President Putin has begun pissing on their global parade, he is "as dangerous as Stalin and a bigger threat than ISIS" - so claim Western officials.

I have pointed out on numerous occasions that they are insulated by oceans and protected by allied buffer states. I have pointed out on numerous occasions that they enjoy the luxury of hosting the global reserve currency; they enjoy the luxury of setting commodities prices; they enjoy the luxury of setting parameters of international trade; they enjoy the luxury of setting cultural trends throughout the world; they enjoy the luxury of not having suffered any "regime changes" in centuries; they enjoy the luxury of not have suffered under the kind of democracy they impose on others. For over a century the world has been a playground for their wealthy and a laboratory for their politicians where they carryout volatile experiments.

Therefore, from their perspective, another war in Europe to stop Russia's growth is actually not a hysterical idea after all.

As I have said, as long as the political West is not made to suffer serious repercussions for their actions overseas (i.e. as long as the fires they set don't burn them) they will continue sowing chaos and bloodshed around the world. Although the conflict in eastern Ukraine was imposed on Russia by Western interests - and Moscow did not have the choice of not getting involved - it was nonetheless predictable from day one that Russia would come on top. Moreover, similar to how the war in Georgia awakened the Russian Bear, the war in Novorossiya has done a lot to strengthen Russian resolve - politically, economically and militarily. Therefore, disregard Western political spin such as - "Russia's economy is shrinking and the Russian Ruble is collapsing" - and consider the following news articles to accurately assess the kind of impact Western sanctions are in fact having on Russia -
Russian Finance Minister considers dumping dollars and move borrowing to BRICS:
Russia and Iran discuss ‘oil for power plants’ deal:
China, Russia to build seaport:
Strategic Alliance between Russia and China on the Rise:
Russia's grain exports hit record high in August:
Why Sanctions Won't Stop U.S. Oil Drilling in Russia:
Russia's Gazprom 'limiting gas supplies to Poland':
With emphasis now finally being placed on self-reliance and better relations with the East, Moscow today is much better off than it was before the conflict began. Moreover, Western aggression against Russia and Russia's reaction to it has given President Putin an aura of a Warrior Saint amongst Russians and the title of "Putin the great" amongst the Chinese. So much so that President Putin today has an astounding approval rating of nearly 90%! Has there ever been a leader with a higher approval rating? The Russian people, now galvanized and rallying behind their national flag like never before, have finally come to understand the true nature of the political West. In fact, President Putin's popularity in Russia has another interesting aspect to it: Anti-American sentiments throughout the Russian Federation has recently been polled to be as high as 70%. The number of Russians who have an unfavorable view of the United States today is in fact higher than it was during the Soviet era. That in itself says a lot.

We are in the midst of Cold War II, as well as perhaps the preliminary stages of World War III. A global conflagration may or may not yet occur. But what remain unmistakeably clear is that the geopolitical landscape of certain strategic areas of the world is definitely being broken apart and divided up and nation-states are being forced to take sides. Needless to say we know where Armenia's strategic allegiance lies. Needless to say, we also know how this will be viewed by demons in the West and their Armenian lackeys. In other words, we know where all this will lead to come next election cycle in Armenia.

September, 2014


The Atlantic Axis and the Making of a War in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine became predictable when the great Muslim Brotherhood Project in Syria failed during the summer of 2012. It became unavoidable in December 2012, when the European Union and Russia failed to agree on the EU’s 3rd Energy Package. The geopolitical dynamics which are driving the war in Ukraine were known in the early 1980s.

Hundred years after the shots in Sarajevo ignited WW I, Europe is again being driven towards disaster. Hundred years ago the presence of true statesmen could have prevented the war. Today many of the selected front figures of western democracies dress up in pilot uniforms while they hardly have the qualifications needed for a job as flight attendant. The handling of the tragedy surrounding the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 prompted Malaysian PM Najib Razak to leash out at those behind the geopolitical chess game that led to the death of the 298 on board the Boeing 777-200. Showing true statesmanship, PM Najib Razak said:
“As a leader, there has never been an occasion as heart-breaking as what I went through yesterday. Wives losing their husbands, fathers losing their children. Imagine their feelings from such a great loss. … This is what happens when there is a conflict, whatever conflict that cannot be resolved through negotiations, with peace. In the end, who becomes the victim”?
The War in Ukraine Began in Libya and Syria.

In 2007 the discovery of the world’s largest known reserves of natural gas, shared by Qatar and Iran, led to the Great Muslim Brotherhood Project that was sold under the trade mark ”The Arab Spring”. A joint Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian pipeline project was supposed to transport Iranian gas from the PARS gas fields in the Persian Gulf to Syria’s eastern Mediterranean coast and further on to continental Europe. It was this development that played midwife to the birth of the Great Muslim Brotherhood Project.

The completion of the Iran – Iraq – Syria pipeline would have caused a cohort of developments which were unacceptable to the US, UK, Israel and Qatar. Several continental European countries, including Germany, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic saw much more favorably at it. Together with the Russian gas which the EU received via Ukraine and the North Stream pipeline, the EU would have been able to cover some 50 percent of its requirements for natural gas via Iranian and Russian sources.

It would be naive to assume that Israel was not gravely concerned about the prospect of Iran becoming one of the European Union’s primary sources of natural gas. Energy security concerns influence foreign relations and foreign policy. EU – Israeli relations and the influence Tehran would have attained with regard to the EU’s position on Palestine and the Middle East are no exception to that rule.

The US and UK were not interested in competition to the Nabucco project. Qatar, the main center of gravity with regard to the international Muslim Brotherhood, eyed its chance to become a regional power to be recogned with and sent a 10 billion US dollar check to Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Davotoglu. The money was reportedly earmarked, to be spent on preparing the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood for the Great Project.

An additional dimension that was overlooked by many, if not most analysts, was that the US/UK never would allow Russian – continental European relations to be dominated by an interdependence that had some 50 percent of continental Europe’s energy security at its heart. To explain that point, allow me to refer to a conversation the author has had with a top-NATO admiral from a northern European country during a day of sailing on a sailing yacht in the early 1980s. Discussing European security issues, out of the reach of curious ears and microphones he said that (paraphrased):
”American colleagues at the Pentagon told me, unequivocally, that the US and UK never would allow European – Soviet relations to develop to such a degree that they would challenge the US/UK’s political, economic or military primacy and hegemony on the European continent. Such a development will be prevented by all necessary means, if necessary by provoking a war in central Europe”.
It is safe to assume that the discontinuation of the USSR with help of the US and UK has not significantly changed the principle premises of this doctrine and that it is still valid today. By 2009 the implementation of the Great Muslim Brotherhood Project was already in high gear. The former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas recalled during an appearance on the French TV Channel LPC in July 2013. (Audio excerpt)
”I’m going to tell you something. I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business. I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were something in Syria. … This was in Britain, not in America. Britain was organizing an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer Minister of Foreign Affairs, if I would like to participate. Naturally, I refused, I said I am French, that does not interest me. …

”This does not make sense. … There are some sides who have the desire to destroy Arab States, like what happened in Libya before, particularly given Syria’s special relations with Russia., …(emphasis added)…That if an agreement is not reached, then Israel will attack and destroy the governments that stand against Israel”.
Note Dumas’ reference to Libya. Note that the statement came after NATO abused UN Security Council Resolution 1973 (2011) on Libya to implement the Great Muslim Brotherhood Project in that country. The then U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO Ivo H. Daalder and then NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander of the U.S. European Command James G. Stavridis published an article in the March/April 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs, calling NATO’s ”intervention” in Libya ”A teachable moment and model for future interventions”.

The statement was repeated at NATO’s 25th Summit in Chicago that year. As Ivo H. Daalder also explained in a Forestal Lecure that year, there was a need for a new warfare, special warfare. Traditional conventional war had become impossible. Moreover, Libya was necessary as a hub for the shipment of arms and the recruiting and training of mercenaries for Syria, Mali, and beyond.

Defeat in Syria Made the Ukraine War Unavoidable.

In June and July 2012 some 20,000 NATO mercenaries who had been recruited and trained in Libya and then staged in the Jordanian border town Al-Mafraq, launched two massive campaigns aimed at seizing the Syrian city of Aleppo. Both campaigns failed and the ”Libyan Brigade” was literally wiped out by the Syrian Arab Army. It was after this decisive defeat that Saudi Arabia began a massive campaign for the recruitment of jihadi fighters via the network of the Muslim Brotherhoods evil twin sister Al-Qaeda.

The International Crisis Group responded by publishing its report Tentative Jihad. Washington had to make an attempt to distance itself ”politically” from the ”extremists”. Plan B, the chemical weapons plan was hedged but it became obvious that the war on Syria was not winnable anymore. This, and nothing else was why the British parliament turned down the bombing of Syria in August 2013.

The war on Ukraine had become predictable from that point onwards and the timing of the developments in Ukraine during 2012 and 2013 strongly suggest that plans to overthrow the Yanukovich government and to aim at a long-term destabilization of Ukraine were launched after July 2012.

There was one last opportunity to turn the tide with regards to Ukraine in late 2012, during negotiations about the European Union’s 3rd Energy Package. Relations between Russia and the EU were stressed by a primarily British-sponsored initiative within the EU that was targeting Russia. The ”EU” or UK/US should not accept that a major energy provider like Russia or Gazprom had the majority ownership over both the gas and the transportation System.

On 21 December 2012 the leaders of the 27 EU member states and Russia held a summit in Brussels but failed to resolve the issue. It was from this point onward that the war in Ukraine had become unavoidable, which means that it was from here on, that powerful lobbies in the US and UK became hellbent on starting a 4th generation war in Ukraine. On December 22, 2012, nsnbc published the article ”Russia – E.U. Meeting in Brussels: Risk of Middle East and European War Increased”. The December 2012 article stated
”The sudden pullout of the Ukraine on Tuesday is by energy insiders with whom the author consulted perceived as yet another Ukrainian, US and UK backed attempt to force the expansion of NATO and to drive a wedge between an increased integration of the Russian and E.U. Economies. As it will become obvious below, it is related to an aggressive attempt to save the value of the petro dollar”.
By February 9, 2013, relations between Russia and core NATO members had deteriorated so much over Syria and the lack of convergence in energy issues, that Russia’s Ambassador to NATO, Alexander Grutchko said:
”Someone here in Brussels made a most profound point by saying that if you are holding a hammer, you should not think that every emerging problem is a nail. We think the world has ample opportunity to engage in energy cooperation and to ensure energy security without making use of military-political organizations as an instrument”.
There were not many who at that time understood the bearing of the Russian NATO Ambassador’s words. On February 21, 2014 the Ukrainian parliament was seized by masked gunmen. The president was removed from office in a vote held in the presence of gunmen. One of the first official statements of the new powers at be was that the Russian language would no longer be accepted as the second official language in the predominantly Russian speaking eastern regions of Ukraine.

The statement was bound to and didn’t fail to elicit a response that would tear Ukraine apart. On February 22, 2014, some 3,500 governors from southern and eastern Ukrainian regions convened in Kharkov and rejected the legality of the putchist parliament and any of the laws it adopted.

Was the tragedy surrounding MAS Flight MH17 another Sarajevo moment and will it be used to throw an additional spanner into attempts to peacefully integrate the Russian and European economies? After MH17, the EU must act against Putin and stop importing Russian gas associate senior research fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies suggests ”After MH17, the EU must act against Putin and stop importing Russian gas”.

Dr. Christof Lehmann an independent political consultant on conflict and conflict resolution and the founder and editor in chief of nsnbc, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”. 


The Beginning of World Shift

Anglo-Saxon agression against Russia is taking the form of financial and economic warfare. However, Moscow is preparing for armed hostilities by developing its agricultural self-sufficency and multiplying its alliances. For Thierry Meyssan, after the creation of the caliphate in the Levant, Washington would lay down a new card in September in Saint Petersburg. The ability of Russia to maintain its internal stability will determine the course of events.

The offensive led by Anglo-Saxons (USA, UK and Israel) for world domination continues on two lines simultaneously: both the creation of the “Greater Middle East” by attacking simultaneously Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, and separating Russia from the European Union through the crisis they organized in Ukraine.
In this sprint, it seems that Washington wants to impose the dollar as the single currency in the gas market, the energy source of the twenty-first century, the way it imposed it on the oil1 market.
The Western media hardly cover the war in Donbass and their population is ignorant of the scale of the fighting, the US military presence, the number of civilian casualties, the wave of refugees. On the other hand, Western media have a delayed reaction to events in North Africa and the Levant, presenting them either as the result of a so-called “Arab Spring” (that is to say, in practice, a takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood), or as the destructive effect of a civilization which is inherently violent. More than ever, it is necessary to help the Arabs who are incapable of living peacefully in the absence of Western settlers.
Russia is now the leading power capable of leading the resistance to Anglo-Saxon imperialism. It has three tools: BRICS, an alliance of economic rivals who know they can not grow up without one another, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a strategic alliance with China to stabilize Central Asia and finally, the Organization for Collective Security Treaty, a military alliance of former Soviet states.
At the Fortaleza Summit (Brazil), which was held from 14 to 16 July, BRICS took the plunge and announced the creation of a monetary reserve fund (mainly Chinese) and a BRICS Bank as alternatives to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the dollar system2.
Even before this announcement, the Anglo-Saxons had established their answer: the transformation of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network in order to prepare unrest among all Muslim peoples of Russia and China.3 They continued their offensive in Syria and spilled over the borders both in Iraq and in Lebanon. They failed, however, to expel part of the Palestinians to Egypt and to destabilize the region even more deeply. Finally, they keep away from Iran to give President Hassan Rohani a chance to weaken the power of the anti-imperialist Khomeinists.
Two days after the announcement of the BRICS, the United States accused Russia of destroying Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over the Donbass, killing 298 people. On this basis, purely arbitrary, they forced the Europeans to enter into economic war against Russia. Situating itself as a court, the Council of the European Union tried and convicted Russia without any evidence and without giving it an opportunity to defend itself. The CEU issued “sanctions” against its financial system.
Recognizing that European leaders are not working for the interests of their people, but for those of the Anglo-Saxons, Russia has gnawed at the bit and refrained from going to war in Ukraine. It supports the insurgents with arms and intelligence, and hosts more than 500'000 refugees, but declines to send troops into the fray. It probably will not happen until the vast majority of Ukrainians revolt against President Poroshenko, even if it does not enter the country until after the fall of the People’s Republic of Donetsk.
Faced with economic warfare, Moscow has chosen to respond with similar measures, but in agriculture, not finance. Two considerations guided this choice: first, short-term, other BRICS can mitigate the consequences of so-called “sanctions”; on the other hand, medium and long term, Russia is preparing for war and intends to completely rebuild its agriculture to go it alone.
Moreover, the Anglo-Saxons have planned to paralyze Russia from within. First by activating, via the Islamic Emirate (EIS), terrorist groups within its Muslim population, and organizing a media challenge in the municipal elections of 14 September.4 Large sums of money have been distributed to all opposition candidates in the thirty largest cities involved, while at least 50'000 Ukrainian agitators, mixed with refugees, are regrouping in Saint Petersburg. Most of them have dual Russian citizenship. This is clearly to reproduce at the provincial level protests that followed the elections in Moscow in December 2011 – with the addition of violence; and engage the country in a color revolution process to which certain officials in the ruling class are favorable.
To do so, Washington has appointed a new ambassador to Russia, John Tefft, who had prepared the “Rose Revolution” in Georgia and the coup in Ukraine. It will be important for President Vladimir Putin to be able to trust his prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, whom Washington hoped to recruit to overthrow him.
Considering the imminent danger, Moscow would have been able to convince Beijing to accept the accession of India in exchange for that of Iran (but also those of Pakistan and Mongolia) to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The decision should be published at the summit in Dushanbe (Tajikistan) on 12 and 13 September. It should put an end to the conflict which has opposed India and China for centuries and engage them in military cooperation.
This reversal, if confirmed, also would end the honeymoon between New Delhi and Washington who was hoping to distance India from Russia in particular by giving access to nuclear technologies. The membership of New Delhi is also a bet on the sincerity of the new Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, despite the suspicion that he encouraged anti-Muslim violence in 2002 in Gujarat when he was the leading Minister.
In addition, the accession of Iran, which is a provocation in the face of Washington, should give the SCO precise knowledge of jihadist movements and ways to counter them. Again, if confirmed, it would reduce Iran’s willingness to negotiate a lull with the “Great Satan” that led it to elect Sheik Hassan Rohani to the presidency. It would be a gamble on the authority of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Indeed, these memberships would mark the beginning of the shift in the world from the West to the East.5 Still, this trend must be protected militarily. This is the role of the Organization for Collective Security Treaty (CSTO), formed around Russia, but to which China does not belong. Unlike NATO, this organization is a classic alliance, consistent with the Charter of the United Nations since each member retains the option to leave if it wants. So it is based on this freedom that Washington has tried in recent months to buy some members, including Armenia. However, the chaotic situation in Ukraine appears to have cooled those who dreamed of US “protection”.
Tension is likely to increase in the coming weeks.


Cold War II? World War III?

A reporter asked President Obama on Tuesday if ratcheted sanctions placed on Russia by America and the EU marked “a new Cold War.” The United Kingdom’s Common Defense Committee said Thursday that NATO is unprepared for further aggression from Russia. Roger Cohen of the New York Times has explained in the Atlantic why World War III is not so unimaginable after all. It has become apparent that Eastern Europe is unstable, and in a world knit tightly together by technology and treaties, that instability may prove for everyone inescapable.

It is sobering to think about the repercussions and lessons of the current crisis in Ukraine while Gaza burns, Ebola eats through Africa, North Korea threatens nuclear war, and Pakistan and India sit staring one another down, fingers poised to wind the doomsday clock, red buttons and key locks primed for mutually assured destruction. There are many reasons to fear the future, to see another global total war bring the world to its knees, and as the world reflects upon the centennial of that first Great War, let it remember that it turned from single shot to avalanche through alliances gripping a shrinking world. In NATO and the unrest of Europe’s east the stage is set once more.

Members of Britain’s parliament have declared that NATO, the twenty-eight-nation alliance nominally tied to the North Atlantic, organized in such a way as an attack on one member state is an attack on every other, has little defense against “ambiguous warfare” from an opportunistic and aggressive Russia. Should Putin’s strategy of proxy-fighters and cyber-warfare, seen vividly in east Ukraine, extend into a NATO nation—Estonia and Latvia border Russia, and Bulgaria and Romania are separated from the Bear by only the Black Sea—the treaty will be tested, and collective defense shall either beckon the world to war, or breaking under the strain of reality, shatter the balance of geopolitical power.

Poland houses NATO troops, and in October is supposed to host a series of exercises by the treaty organization. However, as UK officials have noted, it’s not a conventional war NATO fears from Russia, at least at first. The committee has suggested that NATO house a permanent garrison in “vulnerable” member states—the ones that border Russia. That, and they have called for NATO countries to clarify whether the kind of support Russia has lent Ukraine’s separatists should constitute a violation of the treaty’s Article 5 and warrant military responses from the whole alliance.

It appears clear that the problem for NATO leaders is striking the balance between preempting future conflict and escalating current tensions. Does it discourage or encourage Russian aggression to line troops on its border and hair-trigger collective self-defense? It is honestly hard to say. Putin is an opportunistic but careful prince; who knows how far he feels he can push the West? Would NATO states be only bluffing? The West is war weary and apathetic; America and Northern Europe care little for the taste of martial glory. That is something Britain’s MPs fear is far too likely, that NATO lacks sufficient “political will” to follow through on any promises it makes.

These days the road to hell, or world war in a nuclear age, seems smoothly paved indeed. The temptation to complacency and appeasement may prove stronger than integrity and treaty, but should that prove the case then have we only traded one forerunner for a second? Only God and time will tell. Let us pray for peace.


Yes, It Could Happen Again

Instability in Ukraine, chaos in Syria, conflict in the East China Sea—the trigger points for World War III are in place. Pessimism is a useful prism through which to view the affairs of states. Their ambition to gain, retain, and project power is never sated. Optimism, toward which Americans are generally inclined, leads to rash predictions of history’s ending in global consensus and the banishment of war. Such rosy views accompanied the end of the Cold War. They were also much in evidence a century ago, on the eve of World War I.

Then, as now, Europe had lived through a long period of relative peace, after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Then, too, rapid progress in science, technology, and communications had given humanity a sense of shared interests that precluded war, despite the ominous naval competition between Britain and Germany. Then, too, wealthy individuals devoted their fortunes to conciliation and greater human understanding. Rival powers fumed over provocative annexations, like Austria-Hungary’s of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908, but world leaders scarcely believed a global conflagration was possible, let alone that one would begin just six years later. The very monarchs who would consign tens of millions to a murderous morass from 1914 to 1918 and bury four empires believed they were clever enough to finesse the worst.

The unimaginable can occur. That is a notion at once banal and perennially useful to recall. Indeed, it has just happened in Crimea, where a major power has forcefully changed a European border for the first time since 1945. Russia’s act of annexation and its evident designs on eastern Ukraine constitute a reminder that NATO was created to protect Europe after its pair of 20th-century self-immolations. NATO’s core precept, as the Poles and other former vassals of the Soviet empire like to remind blithe western Europeans, is Article 5, by which the Allies agreed that “an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all,” triggering a joint military response. This has proved a powerful deterrent against potential adversaries. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has been most aggressive in the no-man’s-lands of Georgia and Ukraine, nations suspended between East and West, neither one a member of NATO. Had Ukraine been a member of NATO, the annexation of Crimea would have come only at the (presumably unacceptable) price of war. Article 5, until demonstrated otherwise, is an ironclad commitment.

When a 19-year-old Bosnian Serb nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne in Sarajevo, on June 28, 1914, he acted to secure Serbia’s liberty from imperial dominion. He could not have known that within weeks, Austria-Hungary would declare war on Serbia, goading Russia (humiliated in war a decade earlier by Japan) to mobilize in defense of its Slavic ally, which caused the kaiser’s ascendant Germany to launch a preemptive attack on Russia’s ally France, in turn prompting Britain to declare war on Germany.

Events cascade. It is already clear that the nationalist fervor unleashed by Putin after a quarter century of Russia’s perceived post–Cold War decline is far from exhausted. Russians are sure that the dignity of their nation has been trampled by an American and European strategic advance to their border dressed up in talk of democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. Whether this is true is irrelevant; they believe it. National humiliation, real or not, is a tremendous catalyst for war. That was the case in Germany after the Treaty of Versailles imposed reparations and territorial concessions; so, too, in Serbia more than 70 years later, after the breakup of Yugoslavia, a country Serbia had always viewed as an extension of itself. Russia, convinced of its lost greatness, is gripped by a Weimar neurosis resembling Germany’s post–World War I longing for its past stature and power. The Moscow-backed separatists taking over government buildings in eastern Ukraine and proclaiming an independent “Donetsk People’s Republic” demonstrate the virulence of Russian irredentism. Nobody can know where it will stop. Appetite, as the French say, grows with eating.

Let us indulge in dark imaginings, then, in the cause of prudence. Here is one possible scenario: Clashes intensify between Ukrainian government forces and paramilitary formations organized by Russian fifth columnists. The death toll rises. The ongoing NATO dispatch of troops and F‑16s to Poland and the Baltic states, designed as a deterrence, redoubles anger in Russia—“a great and humble nation besieged,” a Russian general might declare. The American president, saying his war-weary country will not seek conflict, imposes sanctions on the entire Russian oil-and-gas sector. European states dependent on Russian energy grumble; a former German chancellor working in natural gas says his country’s interests lie with Moscow. Then, say, an independence movement of the Russian minority gains momentum in Estonia, backed with plausible deniability by Moscow’s agents, and announces support for the Donetsk People’s Republic. A wave of cyberattacks disables Estonian government facilities, and an Estonian big shot calls the Russian leader an “imperialist troglodyte trapped in a zero-sum game.” After an assassination attempt on the Estonian foreign minister at a rally in the capital, calls grow louder for the American president to invoke Article 5. He insists that “drawing red lines in the 21st century is not a useful exercise.”

Let us further imagine that shortly after the president delivers his speech, in a mysterious coincidence, a Chinese ship runs aground on one of the uninhabited Senkaku Islands, administered by Japan, in the East China Sea. China dispatches a small force to what it calls the Diaoyu Islands “as a protective measure.” Japan sends four destroyers to evict the Chinese and reminds the American president that he has said the islands, located near undersea oil reserves, “fall within the scope” of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. A Republican senator, echoing the bellicose mood in Washington, declares that “Estonia is more than a couple of rocks in the East China Sea” and demands to know whether “the United States has torn up the treaty alliances in Europe and Asia that have been the foundation of global security since 1945.” The president gives China an ultimatum to leave the Japanese islands or face a military response. He also tells Russia that another act of secessionist violence in Estonia will trigger NATO force against Russian troops massed on the Estonian border. Both warnings are ignored. Chinese and Russian leaders accuse the United States of “prolonging Cold War hostilities and alliances in pursuit of global domination.” World War III begins.

It could not happen; of course it couldn’t. Peace, if not outright pacifism, is now bred in the bones of Europeans, who contemplate war with revulsion. Europe is politically and economically integrated. America, after two wars without victory, is in a period of retrenchment that may last a generation. Wars no longer happen between big land armies; they are the stuff of pinpoint strikes by unpiloted drones against jihadist extremists. Putin’s Russia is opportunistic—it will change the balance of power in Ukraine or Georgia if it considers the price acceptable—but it is not reckless in countries under NATO protection. China, with its watchword of “Harmony,” is focused on its own rising success and understands the usefulness of the United States as an offsetting Pacific power able to reassure anxious neighbors like Japan and Vietnam. For the time being, Beijing will not seek to impose its own version of the Monroe Doctrine. It will hold nationalism in check even as the Asian naval arms race accelerates. Unlike in 1914 or 1939, the presence of large American garrisons in Europe and Asia sustains a tenacious Pax Americana. The United Nations, for all its cumbersome failings, serves as the guarantor of last resort against another descent into horror. The specter of nuclear holocaust is the ultimate deterrent for a hyperconnected world. Citizens everywhere now have the tools to raise a cacophony in real time against the sort of folly that, in World War I, produced the deaths of so many unidentifiable young men “known unto God,” in Kipling’s immortal phrasing.

Convincing? It would certainly be nice to believe that, as President Clinton suggested in 1997, great-power territorial politics are a thing of the past. A new era had dawned, he said, in which “enlightened self-interest, as well as shared values, will compel countries to define their greatness in more-constructive ways.” In fact, the realization that the Russian bear can bite as well as growl is timely. It is a reminder that a multipolar world in a time of transition, when popular resentments are rising over joblessness and inequality, is a dangerous place indeed.

The international system does not look particularly stable. The Cold War’s bipolar confrontation, despite its crises, was predictable. Today’s world is not. It features a United States whose power is dominant but no longer determinant; a one-party China that is a rising hegemon; an authoritarian Russia giddy on nationalism and the idea of a restored imperium; and a weak, navel-gazing, blasé Europe whose pursuit of an ever closer union is on hold and perhaps on the brink of reversal.

Pacifist tendencies in western Europe coexist with views of power held in Moscow and Beijing that Bismarck or Clausewitz would recognize instantly. After the genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia, the UN General Assembly ratified the concept that governments have a “responsibility to protect” their citizens from atrocities. But in the face of Syria’s bloody dismemberment and Ukraine’s cynical dismantlement, idealism of that kind looks fluffy or simply irrelevant. The Baltic countries are front-line states once again. The fleeting post–Cold War dream of a zone of unity and peace stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok has died. As John Mearsheimer observes in his seminal The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, “Unbalanced multipolar systems feature the most dangerous distribution of power, mainly because potential hegemons are likely to get into wars with all of the other great powers in the system.”

In this context, nothing is more dangerous than American weakness. It is understandable that the United States is looking inward after more than a decade of post-9/11 war. But it is also worrying, because the credibility of American power remains the anchor of global security. The nation’s mood is not merely a reflection of economic hardship or the costs of war; it is also determined by the president’s decisions and rhetoric. There was no American majority for involvement in World War I or World War II—until the president set out to forge one (helped decisively in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s case by Pearl Harbor). As Jonathan Eyal of Britain’s Royal United Services Institute says, “If a president stands up and says something, he can shift the debate.”

President Obama has made clear he does not believe in military force. His words spell that out; so does his body language. He asks, after Iraq and Afghanistan, what force accomplishes. These are fair questions; the bar must be very high for unleashing military power. But when an American president marches allies up the hill to defend his “red line”—as Obama did regarding Syria’s use of chemical weapons—and then marches them back down again, he does something damaging that the world does not forget. And when Obama, in response to a recent question about whether declaring that the United States would protect the Senkaku Islands risked drawing another “red line,” gives an evasive answer, he does something so dangerous that his words are worth repeating:

The implication of the question, I think, … is that each and every time a country violates one of these norms, the United States should go to war or stand prepared to engage militarily, and if it doesn’t, then somehow we’re not serious about these norms. Well, that’s not the case.
If these treaty obligations do not constitute a red line triggering a U.S. military response—the only way to prove the seriousness of “these norms”—all bets are off in a world already filled with uncertainties. A century ago, in the absence of clear lines or rules, it was just this kind of feel-good hope and baseless trust in the judgment of rival powers that precipitated catastrophe. But that, it may be said, was then. The world has supposedly been transformed. But has it? Consider this article in my father’s 1938 high-school yearbook:

The machine has brought men face to face as never before in history. Paris and Berlin are closer today than neighboring villages were in the Middle Ages. In one sense distance has been annihilated. We speed on the wings of the wind and carry in our hands weapons more dreadful than the lightning … The challenge of the machine is the greatest opportunity mankind has yet enjoyed. Out of the rush and swirl of the confusions of our times may yet arise a majestic order of world peace and prosperity.
Optimism is irrepressible in the human heart—and best mistrusted. Our world of hyperconnectivity, and the strains and aspirations that accompany it, is not so novel after all. The ghosts of repetition reside alongside the prophets of progress. From the “rush and swirl” of 1938 where “distance has been annihilated” would follow in short order the slaughter of Stalingrad, the mass murder of European Jewry, the indiscriminate deaths in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the anguish of all humanity. We should not lightly discard a well-grounded pessimism or the treaties it has produced.


The Emperor’s Rage: Let Chaos Envelop the World!

Chaos reigns and spreads as enraged leaders in the US, Europe and their clients and allies pursue genocidal wars. Mercenary wars in Syria; Israel’s terror bombing on Gaza; proxy wars in the Ukraine, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Somalia. Tens of millions of refugees flee scenes of total destruction.  Nothing is sacred.  There are no sanctuaries.  Homes, schools, hospitals and entire families are targeted for destruction.

Chaos by Design

At the center of chaos, the wild-eyed President Obama strikes blindly, oblivious of the consequences, willing to risk a financial debacle or a nuclear war.  He enforces sanctions against Iran; imposes sanctions on Russia; sets up missile bases five launch minutes from Moscow; sends killer drones against Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan; arms mercenaries in Syria; trains and equips Kurds in Iraq and pays for Israel’s savagery against Gaza.

Nothing works.

The Chaos President is blind to the fact that starving one’s adversaries does not secure submission:  it unites them to resist.  Regime change, imposing proxies by force and subterfuge, can destroy the social fabric of complex societies:  Million of peasants and workers become uprooted refugees. Popular social movements are replaced by organized criminal gangs and bandit armies.

Central America, the product of decades of US direct and proxy military interventions, which prevented the most basic structural changes, has become a chaotic, unlivable inferno for millions.  Tens of thousands of children flee from their ‘free market’- induced mass poverty and militarized state and gangster violence.  Children refugees at the US border are arrested in mass, and imprisoned in makeshift detention camps, subject to psychological, physical and sexual abuse by officials and guards on the inside.  On the outside, these pitiful children are exposed to the racist hatred of a frightened US public unaware of the dangers these children are escaping and the US government’s role in creating these hells.

The US-backed Kiev aviation authorities re-directed international passenger airlines to fly over war zones bristling with anti-aircraft missiles while Kiev’s jets bombed the rebellious cities and towns.  One flight was shot down and nearly 300 civilians perished.  Immediately an explosion of accusations from Kiev blaming Russian President Putin flooded Western media with no real facts to explain the tragedy/crime.  War-crazy President Obama and the slavering prime ministers of the EU ejaculated ultimatums, threatening to convert Russia into a pariah state.  ‘Sanctions, sanctions, everywhere . . .  but first… France must complete its $1.5 billion sale to the Russian navy.’  And the City of London exempts the Russian oligarchs from the ‘sanctions’, embedded as they are in London’s money-laundering, parasitical FIRE (Fire, Insurance and Real Estate) economy. The Cold War has returned and has taken an ugly turn… with exceptions…for business.

Confrontation among nuclear powers is imminent:  And the maniacal Baltic States and Poland bray the loudest for war with Russia, oblivious to their positions on the front lines of incineration…

Each day Israel’s war machine chews up more bodies of Gaza’s children while spitting out more lies.  Cheering Israeli Jews perch on their fortified hills to celebrate each missile strike on the apartments and schools in the densely populated Shejaiya neighborhood of besieged Gaza. A group of orthodox and secular entrepreneurs in Brooklyn have organized group tours to visit the Holy Sites by day and enjoy the Gaza pyrotechnics by night . . . night goggles to view the fleeing mothers and burning children are available at a small extra charge…

Again the US Senate votes unanimously in support of Israel’s latest campaign of mass murder – no crime is depraved enough to ruffle the scruples of America’s leaders.  They hew close to a script from the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations.  Together they embrace a Beast from the Apocalypse gnawing on the flesh and bones of Palestine.

But, Sacre Bleu!  France’s Zionists have prevailed on the ‘President-Socialiste’ Hollande.  Paris bans all anti-Israel demonstrations despite the clear reports of genocide.  Demonstrators supporting the Gazan resistance are gassed and assaulted by special riot police – ‘Socialist’ Hollande serves the demands of powerful Zionist organizations while trashing his country’s republican traditions and its sacred ‘Rights of Man’. The young protestors of Paris fought back with barricades and paving stones in the finest traditions of the Paris Commune waving the flags of a free Palestine.  Not a single ‘red banner’ was in sight:  The French ‘left’ were under their beds or off on vacation.

There are ominous signs away from the killing fields.  The stock market is rising while the economy stagnates.  Wild speculators have returned in their splendor widening the gap between the fictitious and real economy before the ‘deluge’, the chaos of another inevitable crash. In industrial America’s once great Detroit, clean water is shut-off to tens of thousands of poor citizens unable to pay for basic services.   In the midst of summer, urban families are left to defecate in hallways, alleyways and empty lots.  Without water the toilets are clogged, children are not washed.  Roscoe, the master plumber, says the job is way beyond him.

According to our famed economists, the economy of Detroit is ‘recovering . . . profits are up, it’s only the people who are suffering’.  Productivity has doubled, speculators are satisfied; pensions are slashed and wages are down; but the Detroit Tigers are in first place.

Public hospitals everywhere are being closed.  In the Bronx and Brooklyn, emergency rooms are overwhelmed.   Chaos! Interns work 36 hour shifts . . . and the sick and injured take their chances with a sleep-deprived medic.  Meanwhile, in Manhattan, private clinics and ‘boutique’ practices for the elite proliferate.

Scandinavians have embraced the putschist power grab in Kiev.  The Swedish Foreign Minister Bildt bellows for a new Cold War with Russia.  The Danish emissary and NATO leader, Rasmussen, salivates obscenely at the prospect of bombing and destroying Syria in a replay of NATO’s ‘victory’ over Libya. The German leaders endorse the ongoing Israeli genocide against Gaza; they are comfortably protected from any moral conscience by their nostalgic blanket of ‘guilt’ over Nazi crimes 70 years ago.

Saudi-funded Jihadi terrorists in Iraq showed their “infinite mercy” by… merely driving thousands of Christians from ancient Mosul.  Nearly 2,000 years of a continuous Christian presence was long enough!  At least most escaped with their heads still attached.

Chaos Everywhere

Over one hundred thousand agents of the US National Security Agency are paid to spy on two million Muslim citizens and residents in the USA.  But for all the tens of billions of dollars spent and tens of millions of conversations recorded, Islamic charities are prosecuted and philanthropic individuals are framed in ‘sting operations’.

Where the bombs fall no one knows, but people flee.  Millions are fleeing the chaos.

But there is no place to go!  The French invade half a dozen African countries but the refugees are denied refuge in France.  Thousands die in the desert or drown crossing the Med.  Those who do make it, are branded criminals or relegated to ghettos and camps. Chaos reigns in Africa, the Middle East, Central America and Detroit.  The entire US frontier with Mexico has become a militarized detention center, a multi-national prison camp.  The border is unrecognizable to our generation.

Chaos reigns in the markets.  Chaos masquerades as trade sanctions:  Iran yesterday, Russia today and China tomorrow. Washington, Watch out!  Your adversaries are finding common ground, trading, forging agreements, building defenses; their ties are growing stronger.

Chaos reigns in Israel. War-obsessed Israelis discover that the Chosen People of God can also bleed and die, lose limbs and eyes in the alleyways of Gaza where poorly armed boys and men stand their ground.  When the cheers turn to jeers, will they re-elect Bibi, their current kosher butcher?  The overseas brethren, the fundraisers, the lobbyists and the armchair verbal assassins will automatically embrace some new face, without questions, regrets or (god forbid!) self-criticism –if it’s ‘good for Israel and the Jews’ it’s got to be right!

Chaos reigns in New York.  Judicial rulings favor the pirates and their vulture funds demanding one-thousand percent returns on old Argentine bonds.  If Argentina rejects this financial blackmail and defaults, shock waves will ripple throughout global financial markets.  Creditors will tremble in uncertainty:  Fears will grow over a new financial crash.  Will they squeeze out another trillion-dollar bailout?

But where’s the money?  Printing presses are working day and night. There are only a few life boats . . . enough for the bankers and Wall Street, the other ninety-nine percent will have to swim or feed the sharks.

The corrupted financial press now advises warlords on which country to bomb and politicians on how to impose economic sanctions; they no longer provide sound economic information or advise investors on markets.  Their editorial rants will incite an investor flight to buy king-sized mattresses for stuffing as the banks fail.

The US President is on the verge of a mental breakdown: He’s a liar of Munchausen proportions with a bad case of political paranoia, war hysteria and megalomania.  He’s gone amok, braying, ‘I lead the world: its US leadership or chaos’.  Increasingly the world has another message:  ‘It’s the US and chaos.’

Wall Street is abandoning him.  The Russians have double-crossed him.  The Chinese merchants are now doing business everywhere we used to be and we ought to be.  They’re playing with loaded dice.  The stubborn Somalis refuse to submit to a Black President:  they reject this ‘ML King with drones’ . . . The Germans suck on their thumbs in total stupor as Americans monitor and record their every conversation…for their own safety!  “Our corporations are ingrates after all we have done for them”, the First Black President whines.  “They flee from our taxes while we subsidize their operations!”

Final Solutions: The End of Chaos

The only solution is to move on:  Chaos breeds chaos. The President strives to project his ‘Leadership’.  He asks his close advisers very hard questions:  “Why can’t we bomb Russia, just like Israel bombs Gaza?  Why don’t we build an ‘Iron Dome’ over Europe and shoot down Russian nuclear missiles while we fire upon Moscow from our new bases in Ukraine? Which countries will our ‘Dome’ protect?  I am sure that the people of East Europe and the Baltic States will gladly make the supreme sacrifice.  After all, their leaders were at the very front frothing for a war with Russia.  Their reward, a nuclear wasteland, will be a small price to ensure our success!”

The Zionist lobby will insist our ‘Iron Dome’ covers Israel.  But the Saudis may try to bribe the Russians to spare the oil fields as Moscow targets the US missile bases near Mecca.  Our radio-active allies in the Middle East will just have to relocate to a new Holy Land. Do Obama and his advisers imagine reducing the Asian population by a billion or two?  Do they plan several hundred Hiroshimas because the Chinese crossed the  President’s ‘red lines’:  China’s economy and trade grew too fast, expanded too far, it was too competitive, too competent, too successful at gaining market shares, and they ignored our warnings and our unparalleled military might.

Most of Asia will inhale nuclear dust, millions of Indians and Indonesians will perish as collateral damage.  Their survivors will feast on ‘radiated fish’ in a glowing sea.

Beyond Chaos:  The New American Way:

Because our ‘Iron Dome’ will have failed us, we will have to re-emerge out of toxic ashes and crawl from our bunkers, dreaming of a New America free from wars and poverty.  The Reign of Chaos will have ended.  The ‘peace and order’ of the graveyard will reign supreme.

The emperors will be forgotten. And we never will have found out who fired that missile at the doomed Malaysian airliner with its 300 passengers and crew.  We will have lost count of the thousands of Palestinian parents and children slaughtered in Gaza by the Chosen People of Israel. We will not know how the sanctions against Russia panned out. 

It won’t matter in the post-nuclear age, after the Chaos…

“Going After” the Islamic State. Guess Who is Behind the Caliphate Project?

The Islamic State (IS) is portrayed as an Enemy of America and the Western world.  With the support of America’s indefectible British ally, President Barack Obama has ordered a series of US bombing raids on Iraq allegedly with a view to defeating the rebel army of the Islamic State (IS). “We will not waver in our determination to confront the Islamic State If terrorists think we will weaken in the face of their threats they could not be more wrong. (Barack Obama and David Cameron, Strengthening the NATO alliance, op ed published in the London Times, September 4, 2014, emphasis added)

But Who is behind the Islamic State Project?

In a bitter irony,  until recently the rebels of the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) were heralded as Syria’s “opposition freedom fighters” committed to “restoring democracy” and unseating the secular government of Bashar al Assad. And who was behind  the jihadist insurgency in Syria?

Those who ordered the bombing campaign are those who are behind the Caliphate Project. The Islamic State (IS) militia, which is currently the alleged target of  a US-NATO bombing campaign under a “counter-terrorism” mandate, was and continues to be supported covertly by the United States and its allies.

In other words, the Islamic State (IS) is a creation of US intelligence with the support of Britain’s MI6, Israel’s Mossad, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Presidency (GIP), Ri’āsat Al-Istikhbārāt Al-’Āmah ( رئاسة الاستخبارات العامة‎). Moreover, according to Israeli intelligence sources (Debka) NATO in liaison with the Turkish High Command has been involved in the recruitment of jihadist mercenaries from the outset of the Syrian crisis in March 2011.

In relation to the Syrian insurgency, the Islamic State  fighters together with the Al Qaeda affiliated jihadist forces of the Al Nusrah Front are the foot soldiers of the Western military alliance. They are covertly supported by US-NATO-Israel. Their  mandate is to wage a terrorist insurgency against the government of Bashar al-Assad. The atrocities committed by Islamic State fighters in Iraq are similar to those committed in Syria. As a result of media disinformation, Western public opinion is unaware that the Islamic State terrorists have from the very outset been supported by the United States and its allies.

The killings of innocent civilians by the Islamic State terrorists in Iraq are used to create a pretext and a justification for US military intervention on humanitarian grounds.  The bombing raids ordered by Obama, however, are not intended to eliminate the Islamic State, which constitutes a US “intelligence asset”. Quite the opposite, the US is targeting the civilian population as well as the Iraqi resistance movement.

The Role of Saudi Arabia and Qatar

Amply documented, US-NATO support to the Islamic State is channeled covertly through America’s staunchest allies: Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Acknowledged by the Western media, both Riyadh and Doha acting in liaison and on behalf of Washington have played (and continue to play) a central role in the financing the Islamic State (IS) as well as the recruitment, training and religious indoctrination of terrorist mercenary forces deployed in Syria. According to London’s Daily Express “They [the Islamic State terrorists] had money and arms supplied by Qatar and Saudi Arabia.”

“The most important source of ISIS financing to date has been support coming out of the Gulf states, primarily Saudi Arabia but also Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates,” (According to Dr. Günter Meyer, Director of the Center for Research into the Arabic World at University of Mainz, Germany,  Deutsche Welle)
This money was channeled to ISIS terrorists fighting against government forces in Syria:

Through allies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the West [has] supported militant rebel groups which have since mutated into ISIS and other al‑Qaeda connected militias. ( Daily Telegraph, June 12, 2014)
According to Robert Fisk, the IS caliphate project “has been bankrolled by Saudi Arabia”:

…[M]eet Saudi Arabia’s latest monstrous contribution to world history: the Islamist Sunni caliphate of Iraq and the Levant, conquerors of Mosul and Tikrit – and Raqqa in Syria – and possibly Baghdad, and the ultimate humiliators of Bush and Obama. From Aleppo in northern Syria almost to the Iraqi-Iranian border, the jihadists of Isis and sundry other groupuscules paid by the Saudi Wahhabis – and by Kuwaiti oligarchs – now rule thousands of square miles. (Robert Fisk, The Independent,  June 12, 2014)
In 2013, as part of its recruitment of terrorists, Saudi Arabia took the initiative of releasing prisoners on death row in Saudi jails. A secret memo revealed that the prisoners were being “recruited” to join jihadist militia (including Al Nusrah and ISIS) to fight against government forces in Syria.
Saudi prison
The prisoners had reportedly been offered a deal — stay and be executed or fight against Assad in Syria. As part of the deal the prisoners were offered a “pardon and a monthly stipend for their families, who were allowed to stay in the Sunni Arab kingdom”. Saudi officials apparently gave them a choice: decapitation or jihad? In total, inmates from Yemen, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Jordan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq, and Kuwait chose to go and fight in Syria.(See Global Research,  September 11, 2013)
“Volte Face”: About Turn

On September 11, 2014, coinciding with the commemoration of 9/11, the King of Saudi Arabia together with the Monarchs of the Gulf States announced their unbending commitment to support Obama’s holy war against the Islamic State (IS), which has and continues to be funded by Qatari and Saudi money as part of a carefully engineered intelligence operation.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry, left, speaks with Joseph W. Westphal, the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on his arrival at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia on Sept. 11, 2014. (Pool photo by Brendan Smialowski via Associated Press)

Saudi Arabia and the Gulf  States which actively contributed to the financing of the Islamic State, not to mention the recruitment, training of terrorists on behalf of Washington, pledged their unbending support for Obama’s military campaign to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State. The statement of  support contained in the communiqué, commits the “leading Arab states to working with the U.S. to cut off the flow of foreign fighters and funds to the Islamic State.” It also confirms that members discussed  “a strategy to destroy the ISIL wherever it is, including in both Iraq and Syria.”

Saudi Arabia has come to understand the Islamic State group is a serious threat to their country as well– that it isn’t a mainstream Sunni movement.One element of Obama’s IS plan seeks to undermine the ideological and religious claims that the Islamic State militants make to Islam. The administration hopes Riyadh will use its influence among Islamic religious leaders. (Voice of America, September 11, 2014)
Recruiting “Moderate Terrorists”

As part of the agreement, the House of Saud is to “host a training facility for thousands of Syrian rebel fighters who are combating both the Islamic State and President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.” An absurd and fake proposition.  Until September 9th, “officially” Saudi Arabia had been supporting the Islamic State against the government of Bashar al Assad and now it has been entrusted in recruiting jihadists to fight the Islamic State. An  absurd and fake proposition. But the media has failed to connect the dots and uncover the big lie.

We are dealing with a diabolical project:  The architects of the Islamic State have informed the World that they are “going after” their own terrorists as part of a counter-terrorism operation.

While these actions are undertaken under the banner of the “Global War on Terrorism”, the US has no intention to target its IS own terror brigades which are integrated by Western special forces and intelligence operatives. In fact the only meaningful and effective campaign against Islamic State terrorists is being waged by Syrian government forces.

Needless to say, US, NATO, Saudi and Qatari support and funding to the Islamic State will continue. The objective is not to destroy the Islamic State as promised by Obama. What we are dealing with is a US sponsored process of destabilizing and destroying both Iraq and Syria. The campaign against the Islamic State is being used as a justification to bomb both countries, largely targeting civilians.

The endgame is to destabilize Iraq as a nation state and trigger its partition into three separate entities. The broader US-NATO strategic objective is to destabilize the entire Middle East- North Africa -Central Asia -South Asia region, including Iran, Pakistan and India.


How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How far is Saudi Arabia complicit in the Isis takeover of much of northern Iraq, and is it stoking an escalating Sunni-Shia conflict across the Islamic world? Some time before 9/11, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once the powerful Saudi ambassador in Washington and head of Saudi intelligence until a few months ago, had a revealing and ominous conversation with the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Prince Bandar told him: "The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally 'God help the Shia'. More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them." 

The fatal moment predicted by Prince Bandar may now have come for many Shia, with Saudi Arabia playing an important role in bringing it about by supporting the anti-Shia jihad in Iraq and Syria. Since the capture of Mosul by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) on 10 June, Shia women and children have been killed in villages south of Kirkuk, and Shia air force cadets machine-gunned and buried in mass graves near Tikrit.

In Mosul, Shia shrines and mosques have been blown up, and in the nearby Shia Turkoman city of Tal Afar 4,000 houses have been taken over by Isis fighters as "spoils of war". Simply to be identified as Shia or a related sect, such as the Alawites, in Sunni rebel-held parts of Iraq and Syria today, has become as dangerous as being a Jew was in Nazi-controlled parts of Europe in 1940.

There is no doubt about the accuracy of the quote by Prince Bandar, secretary-general of the Saudi National Security Council from 2005 and head of General Intelligence between 2012 and 2014, the crucial two years when al-Qa'ida-type jihadis took over the Sunni-armed opposition in Iraq and Syria. Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute last week, Dearlove, who headed MI6 from 1999 to 2004, emphasised the significance of Prince Bandar's words, saying that they constituted "a chilling comment that I remember very well indeed".

He does not doubt that substantial and sustained funding from private donors in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to which the authorities may have turned a blind eye, has played a central role in the Isis surge into Sunni areas of Iraq. He said: "Such things simply do not happen spontaneously." This sounds realistic since the tribal and communal leadership in Sunni majority provinces is much beholden to Saudi and Gulf paymasters, and would be unlikely to cooperate with Isis without their consent.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan 
Prince Bandar bin Sultan

Dearlove's explosive revelation about the prediction of a day of reckoning for the Shia by Prince Bandar, and the former head of MI6's view that Saudi Arabia is involved in the Isis-led Sunni rebellion, has attracted surprisingly little attention. Coverage of Dearlove's speech focused instead on his main theme that the threat from Isis to the West is being exaggerated because, unlike Bin Laden's al-Qa'ida, it is absorbed in a new conflict that "is essentially Muslim on Muslim". Unfortunately, Christians in areas captured by Isis are finding this is not true, as their churches are desecrated and they are forced to flee. A difference between al-Qa'ida and Isis is that the latter is much better organised; if it does attack Western targets the results are likely to be devastating.

The forecast by Prince Bandar, who was at the heart of Saudi security policy for more than three decades, that the 100 million Shia in the Middle East face disaster at the hands of the Sunni majority, will convince many Shia that they are the victims of a Saudi-led campaign to crush them. "The Shia in general are getting very frightened after what happened in northern Iraq," said an Iraqi commentator, who did not want his name published. Shia see the threat as not only military but stemming from the expanded influence over mainstream Sunni Islam of Wahhabism, the puritanical and intolerant version of Islam espoused by Saudi Arabia that condemns Shia and other Islamic sects as non-Muslim apostates and polytheists. 

Dearlove says that he has no inside knowledge obtained since he retired as head of MI6 10 years ago to become Master of Pembroke College in Cambridge. But, drawing on past experience, he sees Saudi strategic thinking as being shaped by two deep-seated beliefs or attitudes. First, they are convinced that there "can be no legitimate or admissible challenge to the Islamic purity of their Wahhabi credentials as guardians of Islam's holiest shrines". But, perhaps more significantly given the deepening Sunni-Shia confrontation, the Saudi belief that they possess a monopoly of Islamic truth leads them to be "deeply attracted towards any militancy which can effectively challenge Shia-dom".

Western governments traditionally play down the connection between Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabist faith, on the one hand, and jihadism, whether of the variety espoused by Osama bin Laden and al-Qa'ida or by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's Isis. There is nothing conspiratorial or secret about these links: 15 out of 19 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, as was Bin Laden and most of the private donors who funded the operation.

The difference between al-Qa'ida and Isis can be overstated: when Bin Laden was killed by United States forces in 2011, al-Baghdadi released a statement eulogising him, and Isis pledged to launch 100 attacks in revenge for his death.

But there has always been a second theme to Saudi policy towards al-Qa'ida type jihadis, contradicting Prince Bandar's approach and seeing jihadis as a mortal threat to the Kingdom. Dearlove illustrates this attitude by relating how, soon after 9/11, he visited the Saudi capital Riyadh with Tony Blair.

He remembers the then head of Saudi General Intelligence "literally shouting at me across his office: '9/11 is a mere pinprick on the West. In the medium term, it is nothing more than a series of personal tragedies. What these terrorists want is to destroy the House of Saud and remake the Middle East.'" In the event, Saudi Arabia adopted both policies, encouraging the jihadis as a useful tool of Saudi anti-Shia influence abroad but suppressing them at home as a threat to the status quo. It is this dual policy that has fallen apart over the last year.

Saudi sympathy for anti-Shia "militancy" is identified in leaked US official documents. The then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in December 2009 in a cable released by Wikileaks that "Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan] and other terrorist groups." She said that, in so far as Saudi Arabia did act against al-Qa'ida, it was as a domestic threat and not because of its activities abroad. This policy may now be changing with the dismissal of Prince Bandar as head of intelligence this year. But the change is very recent, still ambivalent and may be too late: it was only last week that a Saudi prince said he would no longer fund a satellite television station notorious for its anti-Shia bias based in Egypt.

The Sunni Ahmed al-Rifai shrine near Tal Afar is bulldozed  
The Sunni Ahmed al-Rifai shrine near Tal Afar is bulldozed

The problem for the Saudis is that their attempts since Bandar lost his job to create an anti-Maliki and anti-Assad Sunni constituency which is simultaneously against al-Qa'ida and its clones have failed. By seeking to weaken Maliki and Assad in the interest of a more moderate Sunni faction, Saudi Arabia and its allies are in practice playing into the hands of Isis which is swiftly gaining full control of the Sunni opposition in Syria and Iraq. In Mosul, as happened previously in its Syrian capital Raqqa, potential critics and opponents are disarmed, forced to swear allegiance to the new caliphate and killed if they resist.

The West may have to pay a price for its alliance with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, which have always found Sunni jihadism more attractive than democracy. A striking example of double standards by the western powers was the Saudi-backed suppression of peaceful democratic protests by the Shia majority in Bahrain in March 2011. Some 1,500 Saudi troops were sent across the causeway to the island kingdom as the demonstrations were ended with great brutality and Shia mosques and shrines were destroyed.

An alibi used by the US and Britain is that the Sunni al-Khalifa royal family in Bahrain is pursuing dialogue and reform. But this excuse looked thin last week as Bahrain expelled a top US diplomat, the assistant secretary of state for human rights Tom Malinowksi, for meeting leaders of the main Shia opposition party al-Wifaq. Mr Malinowski tweeted that the Bahrain government's action was "not about me but about undermining dialogue".

Iraqi leader al-Maliki 
Iraqi leader al-Maliki
Western powers and their regional allies have largely escaped criticism for their role in reigniting the war in Iraq. Publicly and privately, they have blamed the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for persecuting and marginalising the Sunni minority, so provoking them into supporting the Isis-led revolt. There is much truth in this, but it is by no means the whole story. Maliki did enough to enrage the Sunni, partly because he wanted to frighten Shia voters into supporting him in the 30 April election by claiming to be the Shia community's protector against Sunni counter-revolution.

But for all his gargantuan mistakes, Maliki's failings are not the reason why the Iraqi state is disintegrating. What destabilised Iraq from 2011 on was the revolt of the Sunni in Syria and the takeover of that revolt by jihadis, who were often sponsored by donors in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates. Again and again Iraqi politicians warned that by not seeking to close down the civil war in Syria, Western leaders were making it inevitable that the conflict in Iraq would restart. "I guess they just didn't believe us and were fixated on getting rid of [President Bashar al-] Assad," said an Iraqi leader in Baghdad last week.

Of course, US and British politicians and diplomats would argue that they were in no position to bring an end to the Syrian conflict. But this is misleading. By insisting that peace negotiations must be about the departure of Assad from power, something that was never going to happen since Assad held most of the cities in the country and his troops were advancing, the US and Britain made sure the war would continue.

The chief beneficiary is Isis which over the last two weeks has been mopping up the last opposition to its rule in eastern Syria. The Kurds in the north and the official al-Qa'ida representative, Jabhat al-Nusra, are faltering under the impact of Isis forces high in morale and using tanks and artillery captured from the Iraqi army. It is also, without the rest of the world taking notice, taking over many of the Syrian oil wells that it did not already control.

The Shia Al-Qubba Husseiniya mosque in Mosul explodes  
The Shia Al-Qubba Husseiniya mosque in Mosul explodes

Saudi Arabia has created a Frankenstein's monster over which it is rapidly losing control. The same is true of its allies such as Turkey which has been a vital back-base for Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra by keeping the 510-mile-long Turkish-Syrian border open. As Kurdish-held border crossings fall to Isis, Turkey will find it has a new neighbour of extraordinary violence, and one deeply ungrateful for past favours from the Turkish intelligence service.

As for Saudi Arabia, it may come to regret its support for the Sunni revolts in Syria and Iraq as jihadi social media begins to speak of the House of Saud as its next target. It is the unnamed head of Saudi General Intelligence quoted by Dearlove after 9/11 who is turning out to have analysed the potential threat to Saudi Arabia correctly and not Prince Bandar, which may explain why the latter was sacked earlier this year.

Nor is this the only point on which Prince Bandar was dangerously mistaken. The rise of Isis is bad news for the Shia of Iraq but it is worse news for the Sunni whose leadership has been ceded to a pathologically bloodthirsty and intolerant movement, a sort of Islamic Khmer Rouge, which has no aim but war without end.

The Sunni caliphate rules a large, impoverished and isolated area from which people are fleeing. Several million Sunni in and around Baghdad are vulnerable to attack and 255 Sunni prisoners have already been massacred. In the long term, Isis cannot win, but its mix of fanaticism and good organisation makes it difficult to dislodge.
"God help the Shia," said Prince Bandar, but, partly thanks to him, the shattered Sunni communities of Iraq and Syria may need divine help even more than the Shia. 


Paul Craig Roberts: Will Russia and China Hold Their Fire Until War Is the Only Alternative?

Obama’s September 24 speech at the UN is the most absurd thing I have heard in my entire life. It is absolutely amazing that the president of the United States would stand before the entire world and tell what everyone knows are blatant lies while simultaneously demonstrating Washington’s double standards and belief that Washington alone, because the US is exceptional and indispensable, has the right to violate all law. It is even more amazing that every person present did not get up and walk out of the assembly. The diplomats of the world actually sat there and listened to blatant lies from the world’s worst terrorist. They even clapped their approval.

The rest of the speech was just utter bullshit: “We stand at a crossroads,” “signposts of progress,” “reduced chance of war between major powers,” “hundreds of millions lifted from poverty,” and while ebola ravages Africa “we’ve learned how to cure disease and harness the power of the wind and the sun.” We are now God. “We” is comprised of the “exceptional people”–Americans. No one else counts. “We” are it. It is impossible to pick the most absurd statement in Obama’s speech or the most outrageous lie. Is it this one? “Russian aggression in Europe recalls the days when large nations trampled small ones in pursuit of territorial ambition.”

Or is it this one? “After the people of Ukraine mobilized popular protests and calls for reform, their corrupt president fled.  Against the will of the government in Kiev, Crimea was annexed.  Russia poured arms into eastern Ukraine, fueling violent separatists and a conflict that has killed thousands.  When a civilian airliner was shot down from areas that these proxies controlled, they refused to allow access to the crash for days.  When Ukraine started to reassert control over its territory, Russia gave up the pretense of merely supporting the separatists, and moved troops across the border.”

The entire world knows that Washington overthrew the elected Ukrainian government, that Washington refuses to release its satellite photos of the destruction of the Malaysian airliner, that Ukraine refuses to release its air traffic control instructions to the airliner, that Washington has prevented a real investigation of the airliner’s destruction, that European experts on the scene have testified that both sides of the airliner’s cockpit demonstrate machine gun fire, an indication that the airliner was shot down by the Ukrainian jets that were following it. Indeed, there has been no explanation why Ukrainian jets were close on the heels of an airliner directed by Ukrainian air traffic control.

The entire world knows that if Russia had territorial ambitions, when the Russian military defeated the American trained and supplied Georgian army that attacked South Ossetia, Russia would have kept Georgia and reincorporated it within Russia where it resided for centuries.

Notice that it is not aggression when Washington bombs and invades seven countries in 13 years without a declaration of war. Aggression occurs when Russia accepts the petition of Crimeans who voted 97 percent in favor of reuniting with Russia where Crimea resided for centuries before Khrushchev attached it to the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine in 1954 when Ukraine and Russia were part of the same country.

And the entire world knows that, as the separatist leader of the Donetsk Republic said, “If Russian military units were fighting with us, the news would not be the fall of Mariupol but the fall of Kiev and Lviv.”

Which is “the cancer of violent extremism”–ISIS which cut off the heads of four journalists, or Washington which has bombed seven countries in the 21st century murdering hundreds of thousands of civilians and displacing millions? Who is the worst terrorist–ISIS, a group that is redrawing the artificial boundaries created by British and French colonialists, or Washington with its Wolfowitz Doctrine, the basis of US foreign policy, which declares Washington’s dominant objective to be US hegemony over the world?

ISIS is the creation of Washington. ISIS consists of the jihadists Washington used to overthrow Gaddafi in Libya and then sent to Syria to overthrow Assad. If ISIS is a “network of death,” a “brand of evil” with which negotiation is impossible as Obama declares, it is a network of death created by the Obama regime itself. If ISIS poses the threat that Obama claims, how can the regime that created the threat be credible in leading the fight against it?
Obama never mentioned in his speech the central problem that the world faces. That problem is Washington’s inability to accept the existence of strong independent countries such as Russia and China. The neoconservative Wolfowitz Doctrine commits the United States to maintaining its status as the sole Unipower. This task requires Washington “to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.” A “hostile power” is any country that has sufficient power or influence to be able to limit Washington’s exercise of power.

The Wolfowitz Doctrine explicitly targets Russia: “Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere.” A “rival” is defined as any country capable of defending its interests or those of allies against Washington’s hegemony.

In his speech, Obama told Russia and China that they can be part of Washington’s world order on the condition that they accept Washington’s hegemony and do not interfere in any way with Washington’s control. When Obama tells Russia that the US will cooperate with Russia “if Russia changes course,” Obama means that Moscow must accept the primacy of Washington’s interest over Russia’s own interest. Clearly, this is an inflexible and unrealistic position. If Washington keeps to it, war with Russia and China will ensue.

Obama told China that Washington intended to continue to be a Pacific power in China’s sphere of influence, “promoting peace, stability, and the free flow of commerce among nations” by building new US air and naval bases from the Philippines to Vietnam so that Washington can control the flow of resources in the South China Sea and cut off China at will.

As far as I can tell, neither the Russian nor Chinese governments understand the seriousness of the threat that Washington represents. Washington’s claim to world hegemony seems too farfetched to Russia and China to be real. But it is very real. By refusing to take the threat seriously, Russia and China have not responded in ways that would bring an end to the threat without the necessity of war.

For example, the Russian government could most likely destroy NATO by responding to sanctions imposed by Washington and the EU by informing European governments that Russia does not sell natural gas to members of NATO. Instead of using this power, Russia has foolishly allowed the EU to accumulate record amounts of stored natural gas to see homes and industry through the coming winter.

Has Russia sold out its national interests for money?

Much of Washington’s power and financial hegemony rests on the role of the US dollar as world reserve currency. Russia and China have been slow, even negligent from the standpoint of defending their sovereignty, to take advantage of opportunities to undermine this pillar of Washington’s power. For example, the BRICS’ talk of abandoning the dollar payments system has been more talk than action. Russia doesn’t even require Washington’s European puppet states to pay for Russian natural gas in rubles.

One might think that a country such as Russia experiencing such extreme hostility and demonization from the West would at least use the gas sales to support its own currency instead of Washington’s dollar. If the Russian government is going to continue to support the economies of European countries hostile to Russia and to prevent the European peoples from freezing during the coming winter, shouldn’t Russia in exchange for this extraordinary subsidy to its enemies at least arrange to support its own currency by demanding payment in rubles? Unfortunately for Russia, Russia is infected with Western trained neoliberal economists who represent Western, not Russian, interests.

When the West sees such extraordinary weakness on the part of the Russian government, Obama knows he can go to the UN and tell the most blatant lies about Russia with no cost whatsoever to the US or Europe. Russian inaction subsidizes Russia’s demonization.

China has been no more successful than Russia in using its opportunities to destabilize Washington. For example, it is a known fact, as Dave Kranzler and I have repeatedly demonstrated, that the Federal Reserve uses its bullion bank agents to knock down the gold price in order to protect the dollar’s value from the Federal Reserve’s policies. The method used is for the bullion banks to drive down the gold price with enormous amounts of naked shorts during periods of low or nonexistent volume.

China or Russia or both could take advantage of this tactic by purchasing every naked short sold plus all covered shorts, if any, and demanding delivery instead of settling the contracts in cash. Neither New York Comex nor the London market could make delivery, and the system would implode. The consequence of the failure to deliver possibly could be catastrophic for the Western financial system, but in the least it would demonstrate the corrupt nature of Western financial institutions.

Or China could deal a more lethal blow. Choosing a time of heightened concern or disruptions in US financial markets, China could dump its trillion dollar plus holdings of US treasuries, or indeed all its holdings of US financial instruments, on the market. The Federal Reserve and the US Treasury could try to stabilize the prices of US financial instruments by creating money with which to purchase the bonds and other instruments. This money creation would increase concern about the dollar’s value, and at that point China could dump the trillion dollars plus it receives from its bond sales on the exchange market. The Federal Reserve cannot print foreign currencies with which to buy up the dollars. The dollar’s exchange value would collapse and with it the dollar’s use as world reserve currency. The US would become just another broke country unable to pay for its imports.

Possibly, Washington could get Japan and the European Central Bank to print enough yen and euros to buy up the dumped dollars. However, the likelihood is that this would bring down the yen and euro along with the dollar. Flight would occur into the Chinese and Russian currencies, and financial hegemony would depart the West.

By their restraint, Russia and China enable Washington’s attack upon them. Last week Washington put thousands of its NGO operatives into the Moscow streets protesting “Putin’s war against Ukraine.” Foolishly, Russia has permitted foreign interests to buy up its newspapers, and these interests continually denounce Putin and the Russian government to their Russian readers. Did Russia sell its soul and communication system for dollars? Did a few oligarchs sell out Russia for Swiss and London bank deposits?

Both Russia and China have Muslim populations among whom the CIA operates encouraging disassociation, rebellion, and violence. Washington intends to break up the Russian Federation into smaller, weaker countries that could not stand in the way of Washington’s hegemony. Russian and Chinese fear of discord among their own Muslim populations have caused both governments to make the extremely serious strategic mistake of aligning with Washington against ISIS and with Washington’s policy of protecting Washington’s status quo in the Muslim world.

If Russia and China understood the deadly threat that Washington presents, both governments would operate according to the time honored principle that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Russia and China would arm ISIS with surface to air missiles to bring down the American planes and with military intelligence in order to achieve an American defeat. With defeat would come the overthrow of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt and all of the American puppet rulers in the area. Washington would lose control over oil, and the petro-dollar would be history. It is extraordinary that instead Russia and China are working to protect Washington’s control over the Middle East and the petro-dollar.

China is subject to a variety of attacks. The Rockefeller Foundation creates American agents in Chinese universities, or so I am informed by Chinese academics. American companies that locate in China create Chinese boards on which they place the relatives of local and regional party officials. This shifts loyalty from the central government to the American money. Moreover, China has many economists educated in the US who are imbued with the neoliberal economics that represents Washington’s interests.

Both Russia and China have significant percentages of their populations who wish to be western. The failure of communism in both countries and the success of American cold war propaganda have created loyalties to America in place of their own governments. In Russia they go by the designation “Atlanticist Integrationists.” They are Russians who wish to be integrated into the West. I know less about the Chinese counterpart, but among youth Western materialism and lack of sexual restraint is appealing.

The inability of the Russian and Chinese governments to come to terms with the threat posed to their existence as sovereign countries by the neoconservative insistence on American world hegemony makes nuclear war more likely. If Russia and China catch on too late in the game, their only alternative will be war or submission to Washington’s hegemony. As there is no possibility of the US and NATO invading and occupying Russia and China, the war would be nuclear.

To avoid this war, which, as so many experts have shown, would terminate life on earth, the Russian and Chinese governments must soon become far more realistic in their assessment of the evil that resides in what Washington has turned into the world’s worst terrorist state–the US.

It is possible that Russia, China, and the rest of the world will be saved by American economic collapse. The US economy is a house of cards. Real median family incomes are in long-term decline. Universities produce graduates with degrees and heavy debts but no jobs. The bond market is rigged by the Federal Reserve which necessitates rigging the bullion markets in order to protect the dollar. The stock market is rigged by the outpouring of money from the Federal Reserve, by the Plunge Protection Team, and by corporations repurchasing their own stock. The dollar is supported by tradition, habit, and currency swaps.

The American House of Cards continues to stand only as a result of the tolerance of the world for vast corruption and disinformation and because greed is satisfied by the money made from a rigged system. Russia and/or China could pull down this House of Cards whenever either country or both had leadership capable of it. 


John McCain: "Thank God for the Saudis"

“Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar,” John McCain told CNN’s Candy Crowley in January 2014. “Thank God for the Saudis and Prince Bandar, and for our Qatari friends,” the senator said once again a month later, at the Munich Security Conference.

McCain was praising Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then the head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services and a former ambassador to the United States, for supporting forces fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham had previously met with Bandar to encourage the Saudis to arm Syrian rebel forces.

But shortly after McCain’s Munich comments, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah relieved Bandar of his Syrian covert-action portfolio, which was then transferred to Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. By mid-April, just two weeks after President Obama met with King Abdullah on March 28, Bandar had also been removed from his position as head of Saudi intelligence—according to official government statements, at “his own request.” Sources close to the royal court told me that, in fact, the king fired Bandar over his handling of the kingdom’s Syria policy and other simmering tensions, after initially refusing to accept Bandar’s offers to resign. (Bandar retains his title as secretary-general of the king’s National Security Council.)

The Free Syrian Army (FSA), the “moderate” armed opposition in the country, receives a lot of attention. But two of the most successful factions fighting Assad’s forces are Islamist extremist groups: Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the latter of which is now amassing territory in Iraq and threatening to further destabilize the entire region. And that success is in part due to the support they have received from two Persian Gulf countries: Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Qatar’s military and economic largesse has made its way to Jabhat al-Nusra, to the point that a senior Qatari official told me he can identify al-Nusra commanders by the blocks they control in various Syrian cities. But ISIS is another matter. As one senior Qatari official stated, “ISIS has been a Saudi project.”

ISIS, in fact, may have been a major part of Bandar’s covert-ops strategy in Syria. The Saudi government, for its part, has denied allegations, including claims made by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, that it has directly supported ISIS. But there are also signs that the kingdom recently shifted its assistance—whether direct or indirect—away from extremist factions in Syria and toward more moderate opposition groups.

“ISIS has been a Saudi project,” one Qatari official said.

The United States, France, and Turkey have long sought to support the weak and disorganized FSA, and to secure commitments from Qatar and Saudi Arabia to do the same. When Mohammed bin Nayef took the Syrian file from Bandar in February, the Saudi government appeared to finally be endorsing this strategy. As The Washington Post’s David Ignatius wrote at the time, “Prince Mohammed’s new oversight role reflects the increasing concern in Saudi Arabia and other neighboring countries about al-Qaeda’s growing power within the Syrian opposition.”

The worry at the time, punctuated by a February meeting between U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice and the intelligence chiefs of Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, and others in the region, was that ISIS and al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra had emerged as the preeminent rebel forces in Syria. The governments who took part reportedly committed to cut off ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, and support the FSA instead. But while official support from Qatar and Saudi Arabia appears to have dried up, non-governmental military and financial support may still be flowing from these countries to Islamist groups.

Senior White House officials have refused to discuss the question of any particular Saudi officials aiding ISIS and have not commented on Bandar’s departure. But they have emphasized that Saudi Arabia is now both supporting moderate Syrian rebels and helping coordinate regional policies to deal with an ascendant ISIS threat.

Like elements of the mujahideen, which benefited from U.S. financial and military support during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and then later turned on the West in the form of al-Qaeda, ISIS achieved scale and consequence through Saudi support, only to now pose a grave threat to the kingdom and the region. It’s this concern about blowback that has motivated Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to encourage restraint in arming Syrian rebels. President Obama has so far heeded these warnings.

John McCain’s desire to help rebel forces toss off a brutal dictator and fight for a more just and inclusive Syria is admirable. But as has been proven repeatedly in the Middle East, ousting strongmen doesn’t necessarily produce more favorable successor governments. Embracing figures like Bandar, who may have tried to achieve his objectives in Syria by building a monster, isn't worth it.

Who created the new Frankenstein monster?

U.S. President Barack Obama has labelled the jihadist juggernaut that calls itself the Islamic State a “cancer,” while his Defence Secretary, Chuck Hagel, has called it more dangerous than al-Qaeda ever was, claiming that its threat is “beyond anything we’ve seen.” No monster has ever been born on its own. So the question is: which forces helped create this new Frankenstein.

The Islamic State is a brutal, medieval organisation whose members take pride in carrying out beheadings and flaunting the severed heads of their victims as trophies. This cannot obscure an underlying reality: the Islamic State represents a Sunni Islamist insurrection against non-Sunni rulers in disintegrating Syria and Iraq.

Indeed, the ongoing fragmentation of states along primordial lines in the arc between Israel and India is spawning de facto new entities or blocks, including Shiastan, Wahhabistan, Kurdistan, ISstan and Talibanstan. Other than Iran, Egypt and Turkey, most of the important nations from the Maghreb to Pakistan (an internally torn state that could shrink to Punjabistan or, simply, ISIstan) are modern western concoctions, with no roots in history or pre-existing identity. 

The West and agendas 

It is beyond dispute that the Islamic State militia — formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — emerged from the Syrian civil war, which began indigenously as a localised revolt against state brutality under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad before being fuelled with externally supplied funds and weapons. From Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-training centres in Turkey and Jordan, the rebels set up a Free Syrian Army (FSA), launching attacks on government forces, as a U.S.-backed information war demonised Mr. Assad and encouraged military officers and soldiers to switch sides.

But the members of the U.S.-led coalition were never on the same page because some allies had dual agendas. While the three spearheads of the anti-Assad crusade — the U.S., Britain and France — focussed on aiding the FSA, the radical Islamist sheikhdoms such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates as well as the Islamist-leaning government in Turkey channelled their weapons and funds to more overtly Islamist groups. This splintered the Syrian opposition, marginalising the FSA and paving the way for the Islamic State’s rise.

The anti-Assad coalition indeed started off on the wrong foot by trying to speciously distinguish between “moderate” and “radical” jihadists. The line separating the two is just too blurred. Indeed, the term “moderate jihadists” is an oxymoron: Those waging jihad by the gun can never be moderate. 

Invoking jihad 

The U.S. and its allies made a more fundamental mistake by infusing the spirit of jihad in their campaign against Mr. Assad so as to help trigger a popular uprising in Syria. The decision to instil the spirit of jihad through television and radio broadcasts beamed to Syrians was deliberate — to provoke Syria’s majority Sunni population to rise against their secular government.

This ignored the lesson from Afghanistan (where the CIA in the 1980s ran, via Pakistan, the largest covert operation in its history) — that inciting jihad and arming “holy warriors” creates a deadly cocktail, with far-reaching and long-lasting impacts on international security. The Reagan administration openly used Islam as an ideological tool to spur armed resistance to Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

In 1985, at a White House ceremony in honour of several Afghan mujahideen — the jihadists out of which al-Qaeda evolved — President Ronald Reagan declared, “These gentlemen are the moral equivalent of America’s Founding Fathers.” Earlier in 1982, Reagan dedicated the space shuttle ‘Columbia’ to the Afghan resistance. He declared, “Just as the Columbia, we think, represents man’s finest aspirations in the field of science and technology, so too does the struggle of the Afghan people represent man’s highest aspirations for freedom. I am dedicating, on behalf of the American people, the March 22 launch of the Columbia to the people of Afghanistan.”

The Afghan war veterans came to haunt the security of many countries. Less known is the fact that the Islamic State’s self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi — like Libyan militia leader Abdelhakim Belhadj (whom the CIA abducted and subjected to “extraordinary rendition”) and Chechen terrorist leader Airat Vakhitov — become radicalised while under U.S. detention. As torture chambers, U.S. detention centres have served as pressure cookers for extremism.

Mr. Obama’s Syria strategy took a page out of Reagan’s Afghan playbook. Not surprisingly, his strategy backfired. It took just two years for Syria to descend into a Somalia-style failed state under the weight of the international jihad against Mr. Assad. This helped the Islamic State not only to rise but also to use its control over northeastern Syria to stage a surprise blitzkrieg deep into Iraq this summer.

Had the U.S. and its allies refrained from arming jihadists to topple Mr. Assad, would the Islamic State have emerged as a lethal, marauding force? And would large swaths of upstream territory along the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in Syria and Iraq have fallen into this monster’s control? The exigencies of the topple-Assad campaign also prompted the Obama administration to turn a blind eye to the flow of Gulf and Turkish aid to the Islamic State. 

A full circle 

In fact, the Obama team, until recently, viewed the Islamic State as a “good” terrorist organisation in Syria but a “bad” one in Iraq, especially when it threatened to overrun the Kurdish regional capital, Erbil. In January, Mr. Obama famously dismissed the Islamic State as a local “JV team” trying to imitate al-Qaeda but without the capacity to be a threat to America. It was only after the public outrage in the U.S. over the video-recorded execution of American journalist James Foley and the flight of Iraqi Christians and Yazidis that the White House re-evaluated the threat posed by the Islamic State.

Many had cautioned against the topple-Assad campaign, fearing that extremist forces would gain control in the vacuum. Those still wedded to overthrowing Mr. Assad’s rule, however, contend that Mr. Obama’s failure to provide greater aid, including surface-to-air missiles, to the Syrian rebels created a vacuum that produced the Islamic State. In truth, more CIA arms to the increasingly ineffectual FSA would have meant a stronger and more deadly Islamic State.

As part of his strategic calculus to oust Mr. Assad, Mr. Obama failed to capitalise on the Arab Spring, which was then in full bloom. By seeking to topple a secular autocracy in Syria while simultaneously working to shield jihad-bankrolling monarchies from the Arab Spring, he ended up strengthening Islamist forces — a development reinforced by the U.S.-led overthrow of another secular Arab dictator, Muammar Qadhafi, which has turned Libya into another failed state and created a lawless jihadist citadel at Europe’s southern doorstep.

In fact, no sooner had Qadhafi been killed than Libya’s new rulers established a theocracy, with no opposition from the western powers that brought about the regime change. Indeed, the cloak of Islam helps to protect the credibility of leaders who might otherwise be seen as foreign puppets. For the same reason, the U.S. has condoned the Arab monarchs for their long-standing alliance with Islamists. It has failed to stop these cloistered royals from continuing to fund Muslim extremist groups and madrasas in other countries. The American interest in maintaining pliant regimes in oil-rich countries has trumped all other considerations.

Today, Mr. Obama’s Syria policy is coming full circle. Having portrayed Mr. Assad as a bloodthirsty monster, Washington must now accept Mr. Assad as the lesser of the two evils and work with him to defeat the larger threat of the Islamic State. The fact that the Islamic State’s heartland remains in northern Syria means that it cannot be stopped unless the U.S. extends air strikes into Syria. As the U.S. mulls that option — for which it would need at least tacit permission from Syria, which still maintains good air defences — it is fearful of being pulled into the middle of the horrendous civil war there. It is thus discreetly urging Mr. Assad to prioritise defeating the Islamic State.

Make no mistake: like al-Qaeda, the Islamic State is a monster inadvertently spawned by the policies of those now in the lead to combat it. The question is whether anything substantive will be learned from this experience, unlike the forgotten lessons of America’s anti-Soviet struggle in Afghanistan. At a time when jihadist groups are gaining ground from Mali to Malaysia, Mr. Obama’s current effort to strike a Faustian bargain with the Afghan Taliban, for example, gives little hope that any lesson will be learned. U.S.-led policies toward the Islamic world have prevented a clash between civilisations by fostering a clash within a civilisation, but at serious cost to regional and international security. 

(Brahma Chellaney is a geostrategist and the author, most recently, of Water, Peace, and War, Oxford University Press, 2014.) 


Pentagon and CIA Want to Keep ISIS Tweeting: Exploiting Social Media to Keep the Endless War on Terror Alive

The Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies exploit social media to keep the endless war on terror alive. Earlier this month we learned DARPA, the Pentagon’s research lab, has funded an array of social media studies, including analyses on various social and political memes, celebrities and disinformation.

“The project list includes a study of how activists with the Occupy movement used Twitter as well as a range of research on tracking internet memes and some about understanding how influence behavior (liking, following, retweeting) happens on a range of popular social media platforms like Pinterest, Twitter, Kickstarter, Digg and Reddit,” RT reported.

The Pentagon studies paralleled an experiment by Facebook controlling emotions by manipulating news feeds. Facebook has connections to the CIA and the Pentagon.

“Shortly before the Facebook controversy erupted, Darpa published a lengthy list of the projects funded under its Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMISC) program, including links to actual papers and abstracts,”write Ben Quinn and James Ball for The Guardian.

ISIS Exploits Social Media

IS, the Islamic State, formerly ISIS, has used social media as an effective propaganda tool.

“The extremist group battling the Iraqi government, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, may practice a seventh-century version of fundamentalist Islam, but it has demonstrated modern sophistication when it comes to using social media, particularly Twitter and other sites like WordPress and Tumblr,” The New York Times reported in June.

The United States is not trying to diminish the social media reach of IS despite the fact this would logically be near the top of its to-do list in combating the rapidly expanding terrorist caliphate.

“U.S. intelligence prefers for these accounts to stay up, rather than come down,” an anonymous employee at a major social media company told Mashable. "American intelligence officials are monitoring the ISIL accounts, trying to glean information about the deadly group and its strengths, tactics and networks.”

“Social media ‘is one of the many sources’ American analysts monitor when ‘assessing the fluid ISIL situation,’ a U.S. intelligence official told Mashable on condition of anonymity.”

ISIS Brutality: Propaganda Set Piece in Forever War on Terror

However, instead of gleaning questionable intelligence the Pentagon and the CIA are interested in controlling emotions and drumming up consensus for the coming war against the Islamic State.

As the Nick Berg beheading video and other brutal al-Qaeda propaganda videos demonstrated in the past, the value of terrorist social media is in its ability to produce irrational emotions that can then be exploited by the state as it carries out its permanent war agenda. The Islamic State – funded by the Wahhabist Gulf emirates, supported by the CIA, and trained by the U.S. military – specializes in this sort of gruesome material.

“Propaganda is neutrally defined as a systematic form of purposeful persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specified target audiences for ideological, political or commercial purposes through the controlled transmission of one-sided messages (which may or may not be factual) via mass and direct media channels. A propaganda organization employs propagandists who engage in propagandism – the applied creation and distribution of such forms of persuasion,” explains Richard Alan Nelson.

The war on terror, designed to last indefinitely, requires “purposeful persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions.” IS takes the brutal al-Qaeda meme to the next level and pumps up the volume.


Empire’s Murderous Fruits: Chaos, War, and Death

Earlier this week, jihadists loyal to the "Islamic State" – a self-proclaimed Caliphate in eastern Syria and northern Iraq – ritually beheaded American journalist James Foley, their captive since last year. The gruesome film of the execution was posted online, of course; the IS has eagerly embraced social media as a way of preaching jihad, seeing no irony therein.

Empire’s Feral Friends

Foley’s executioner is reportedly British – a UK citizen, rather, who went to Syria to join the jihad. And why wouldn’t he? The British government has actually supported the Syrian "rebels" that ended up becoming ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Sham), along with the United States – sent them weapons, even. It was supposed to be a pretext for yet another evil little war, until it went off the rails last September. Now these jihadists – once advertised as "freedom fighters for democracy and human rights" – are beheading journalists, butchering Christian children, and putting people’s heads on spikes.

It isn’t the first time the Empire is in bed with murderers and terrorists: prominent Washington politicians have praised the "Kosovo Liberation Army" as fighting for "human rights and American values." In fact, one such politician – John McCain – has heaped praise on both the KLA and the ISIS. The KLA-run "Republic of Kosovo" has even helped the Empire "train" Syrian jihadists, back in 2012. Maybe that explains why so many Albanians (aka "Kosovars") are killing and dying in Syria and Iraq today.

Of course, the Imperial media claim the Albanians are "outraged" that one of theirs would behead people. Yet why would they be, when the KLA had no problem beheading Serbs or committing other atrocities in 1998-99? Jihadist beheadings were also common during the Bosnian War, but the media narrative of "Good Muslims" vs. "Evil Serbs" insisted on burying that inconvenient fact. The Empire continues to cover for the KLA even today.

Now Imperial officials are saying ISIS is a threat greater than Al-Qaeda, and arguing not just for a new invasion of Iraq, but also of Syria! It is a white-knight gambit: first one creates the problem, then rides in to "solve it", reaping applause and adulation. Except that it never actually works, and failure leaves countless corpses in its wake.

A Hell of Their Own Making

The devastation of Iraq, the war in Syria, and now the rise of ISIS, all stem from the 2003 invasion of Iraq – a crime, based on a lie. Amidst the calls for renewed invasion – sorry, "liberation" – of Iraq, remember that the whole mess is due to the U.S. invading in the first place. Nor would this be the first time. In the 1970s, Zbigniew Brzezinski’s dream of a "Soviet Vietnam" resulted in the creation of a jihadist insurgency in Afghanistan. Fifty years of near-constant warfare has reduced this country to abject barbarism, unleashing the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and the warlords.

Earlier this month, an American general was killed in a "green-on-blue" attack at an Afghan military academy. Now, even if they wanted to extricate themselves from Afghanistan at this stage, Empire’s troops are stuck: their avenues of retreat are either controlled by the Taliban, or depend on Russia – which the Empire has done its best to antagonize over the past six months.

"Humanitarian" Murder

When the government of Ukraine rejected the EU’s predatory loans and costly, destructive "reforms" last fall – in favor of free trade with Russia – the Empire launched a coup. The power in Kiev was seized by militant nationalists and outright Nazis, previously on the fringe of politics.

In reaction, the overwhelmingly Russian population of Crimea chose to secede (and joined Russia a few days later), as did the two industrial regions in the east of the country, Donetsk and Lugansk. The Kiev junta responded by sending in the tanks, torching protesters in Odessa, and massacring civilians in Mariupol. Donetsk and Lugansk took to arms, and have been successfully resisting the government troops and Nazi militia ever since – though the unhinged Kiev regime has used everything in its arsenal against the "rebels", including heavy artillery, airstrikes and even ballistic missiles, all while screaming about a phantom "Russian invasion."

Not surprisingly, all this has been done with the full support of the Empire. Washington’s spokescritters proclaim it’s perfectly fine for a government to bomb its own people, because that’s just "defending sovereignty." Except, when Serbia actually defended its sovereignty in 1999, with far less force, NATO screamed "genocide" (which it wasn’t) and launched a war of aggression. When the Serbs bombed civilians (allegedly or actually), the West howled "genocide." But when the Empire, or its clients, do it – that’s "democracy."

Residents of Ferguson, take note.

Of Lies and Laws

All along, the Western media have parroted Kiev’s claims of "Russian aggression" and "invasion." When Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down on July 17, the media frenzy went up to eleven: "PUTIN’S MISSILE", "PUTIN"S KILLED MY SON," screamed the typical headlines. When the Russians presented radar records and maps showing the airplane was most likely shot down by the Ukrainians, Washington claimed it had "evidence" it was otherwise – but never produced it. All mention of MH17 simply stopped, as if the plane and its passengers had never existed.

Now the media are again parroting claims of "invasion," after a convoy of Russian humanitarian aid – inspected multiple times, escorted by the Red Cross, held on the border for a week – finally crossed into Lugansk over Kiev’s objections. So, while Empire’s jihadist and Nazi "freedom fighter" clients carve a path of death and destruction wherever they go, Russia’s "invaders" bring food and water to the victims. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the world today.

Imperial hubris has created the Taliban and ISIS, and "fighting" them will only ensure the "Caliphate" thrives. Accusations that Russia or China somehow seek world domination are merely a projection of the Anglo-American mind. Had the government in Moscow actually wanted to invade the Ukraine, it could have done so at any point over the past six months. But the brief emotional satisfaction of seeing Russian tanks crush Nazi banners beneath their treads wouldn’t have been worth compromising Russia’s core value of respecting international law.

That is the major, perhaps key, difference between the rest of the world, and the Atlantic Empire – which recognizes no law but force, and then only its own.

For Many Iranians, the ‘Evidence’ Is Clear: ISIS Is an American Invention

Iranians are as obsessed as Americans these days with the black-clad gangs roaming Iraq and Syria and killing Shiites and other “infidels” in the name of Sunni Islam. At the supermarket, in a shared taxi or at a family gathering, conversations often turn to the mysterious group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and how it came to be. And for most Iranians, the answer is obvious: the United States.

“Come on, you know who has created ISIS,” said the supermarket owner, winking his right eye. “Admit it,” demanded the taxi driver, hitting his steering wheel to make his point. “It is so obvious!” concluded the talkative uncle at the birthday party.

ISIS, Iranian leaders have been saying for a long time, is made-in-the-U.S.A., a tool of terror intended by the world’s superpower to divide and conquer the energy-rich Middle East and to counter the growing influence of Iran in the region. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has often said that he believes ISIS was created by the United States as a way to regain a foothold in Iraq and to fight President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, an ally of Iran.

“We have evidence, we know,” he told an audience of clerics last week, without elaborating.

Ayatollah Khamenei reminded them that Al Qaeda — a creation of the Central Intelligence Agency, Iran has said — and the Taliban were, in the eyes of Iranian intelligence, devised by the West as a counterweight to Iran. “There is no doubt that these movements are created by Western powers and their regional agents,” Mr. Khamenei has insisted.

His words, echoed by many others in Iran, have been resonating on state television, which is the main tool for disseminating propaganda and is watched all over the country. On Wednesday it showed what it said were images of Senator John McCain, the hawkish Arizona Republican, at a meeting with the current caliph of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “These say more than a thousand words regarding the links between the United States and this group,” an announcer added.

Iranians are often the first to dispute rash ideological statements by their leaders, usually creating flurries of text messaged jokes in response. And some skeptical voices could be heard.

“It is essentially a terrorist group of the extremist Muslim sects of the region against the other sects,” Mehdi Mirzaei, 27, a student of English literature, said of ISIS. “I am pretty sure that America is not supporting ISIS. That is all nonsense.”

But the claim that ISIS is a creation of the Obama administration has gained wide traction here. From the Iranian viewpoint, shaped by their spotty exposure to Western culture, analysts say, creating a terrorist organization opposed to Iranian interests is the obvious thing for a superpower to do.

“These ISIS fighters, they remind me of American cowboy movies,” said Mostafa Faramazian, an employee of the Oil Ministry. He had seen clips of the Sunni fighters driving along the desert plains of Iraq and Syria, like outlaws in the wild West. “They are performing the American dream in a faraway land,” Mr. Faramazian said. “Their goal is to make us weak, like they did with the Indians.”

Iran also has a long history of victimhood, whether to Mongol invaders or Western intelligence agencies and oil companies. Iranians, with their language and faith, often feel lonely and isolated in the world arena.

“Where most other states in the region were formed by colonial powers, Iran is an ancient empire,” said Housang Tale, a historian and self-described nationalist. The West, he said, and especially the United States as a superpower, is well aware of Iran’s great potential and therefore has committed itself to stopping the country from progressing in any way.

“Without groups like ISIS we can revive our empire,” Mr. Tale predicted, “and become the biggest power in the region.”

Victimization plays an important role in the Islamic republic’s official ideology. When the shah was ousted in 1979, the same revolutionaries who ended his rule said his downfall illustrated the plots committed by the United States, dropping the king after he had lost his usefulness. Iranian textbooks now say that when Iranian students took over the United States Embassy in 1979, taking diplomats and other personnel hostage for 444 days, they did so to forestall a coup d'état like the one organized by the C.I.A. in 1953, which led to the toppling of a democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh.

The list of perceived wrongdoings is so long that every major current event involving the United States is explained by the state’s ideologists as a plot to undermine Iranian interests. Ayatollah Khamenei labeled the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, a “suspicious event.” Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called them a “plot.” The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan that came after were clearly meant to create a ring of military bases around the country, officials have often said. The sanctions imposed over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program are “shackles.”

“Our country and our revolution are oppressed, but we are powerful,” Ayatollah Khamenei said on Thursday.

On the streets, where many are openly critical of the clerical government —its economic mismanagement, widespread corruption and a lack of freedoms — threats to the nation still hit a very raw nerve, even among the educated classes.

“America supports any group that breaks a ring of this Iran-Syria-Lebanon-Palestine chain,” said Amir Hosein Mohammadi, a radiologist. He was referring to what Iran’s leaders call the “axis of resistance,” the focal point of opposition to United States interests in the region.

Iran’s support for Syria’s president, Mr. Assad, never gained much traction among ordinary people here, who care more about the economy than about propping up the leader of a distant land. But why would the United States now declare ISIS a threat to its national security and say it is ready to bomb the group inside Syria, thereby bolstering Mr. Assad by attacking his most formidable opponent?

“The United States created a monster, even beyond their own control,” said Mr. Mohammadi. “If they don’t stop ISIS now, nobody can predict what will happen in the future.”

Iran’s Rouhani blames ‘certain intelligence agencies’ for rise of global extremism

The rise of violent extremism around the world is the fault of “certain states” and “intelligence agencies” that have helped to create it and are failing to withstand it, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in an address to the UN General Assembly. Speaking at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly on Thursday, Rouhani stressed that extremism is not a regional but a global issue, and called on states worldwide to unite against the extremists.

“Certain states have helped to create it, and are now failing to withstand it. Currently our peoples are paying the price," he said. "Certain intelligence agencies have put blades in the hand of the madmen, who now spare no one.”

Rouhani also said the current anti-Western sentiment in certain parts of the world was "the offspring ofyesterday's colonialism. Today's anti-Westernism is a reaction to yesterday's racism.”

The Iranian president urged “all those who have played a role in founding and supporting these terror groups” to acknowledge their mistake. Rouhani also blamed “strategic blunders of the West in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Caucasus” for inciting violence in these regions and creating a “haven for terrorists and extremists.”

"Military aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq and improper interference in the developments in Syria are clear examples of this erroneous strategic approach in the Middle East."

Warning that “if the right approach is not undertaken in dealing with the issue at hand” the Middle East risks turning into “a turbulent and tumultuous region with repercussions for the whole world.”

"The rightsolution to this quandary comes from within the region and regionally provided solution with international support and not from the outside the region," he said. Speaking of Iran’s nuclear program, Rouhani vowed that Tehran would continue negotiations to cement the deal with Western states.

“No one should doubt that compromise and agreement on this issue is in the best interest of everyone, especially that of the nations of the region,” he said. “According to all international observers, the Islamic Republic of Iran has carried out its commitments in good faith.”

Rouhani, who was elected in Iran’s presidential election last year despite being opposed by many in the country’s senior clergy, said that democracy cannot be exported to another country as it is a product of development, “not war and aggression.”

Democracy is not an export product that can be commercially imported from the West to the East. In an underdeveloped society, imported democracy leads only to a weak and vulnerable government,” he told the assembly.


Wall Street Journal: The Syria Campaign - A good place to start would be lifting the siege of Aleppo

American bombs aren't yet falling on Syria, but on Tuesday Chuck Hagel suggested they soon will. "This plan includes targeted actions against ISIL safe havens in Syria, including its command and control, logistics capabilities and infrastructure," the Secretary of Defense told the Senate. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, added that the attacks "will be persistent and sustainable."

Let's hope so, because no campaign to destroy the Islamic State can succeed without waging a campaign on both sides of an Iraqi-Syrian border that the terrorist group long ago erased in the name of its caliphate. The Islamic State's capital is in the Syrian city of Raqqa, which it has held for over a year. It has recently scored major military victories against Bashar Assad's regime and moderate rebels of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), particularly in the embattled city of Aleppo.

Those ISIS victories are a reminder that time isn't on America's side in this fight, even as the Administration contemplates a long war. That's especially true if President Obama wants to avoid helping the Assad regime and its allies in Hezbollah and Iran. Mr. Obama is three years late in making a serious attempt to train and equip the FSA. Now that he's at last publicly promised U.S. support, he needs a military strategy that helps them win.

Attacking the Islamic State advances that goal, and not only because of its military gains against the FSA. As the Journal reported Tuesday in an online video of life in Raqqa, the Islamic State rules in totalitarian fashion, complete with public crucifixions. The brutality has created conditions similar to those that preceded the Sunni Awakening in Iraq in 2007—the revolt by ordinary Sunnis and their tribal leaders in Anbar province against al Qaeda.

The awakening would not have succeeded without the aid of U.S. forces, which were available in adequate numbers thanks to President Bush's surge. Nothing similar can happen now because of President Obama's short-sighted pledge to put no U.S. troops on the ground.

But a devastating air campaign against the Islamic State might at least weaken the group sufficiently to embolden a revolt and send new recruits to the FSA. The model here is the air cover NATO gave to Kosovars as they fought Serbian aggressors in 1999 in the Balkans.

Defeating the Islamic State will also require attacks on the Assad regime. Sunnis will not support the campaign against Islamic State if they think our air strikes are intended to help the regime in Damascus and its Shiite allies in Beirut and Tehran.

Assad had previously helped the Islamic State by releasing its fighters from his prisons and supplying it with oil in order to isolate the FSA and consolidate his political base among Syria's Alawites and Christians. Yet now he claims he is the only plausible alternative to the Islamic State. The U.S. will have to ensure that the Islamic State's losses benefit the FSA and not Assad.

The best way to start would be for the U.S. to end the siege of Aleppo, where FSA forces are trapped both by the Islamic State and Assad's forces. Saving the city—Syria's largest—would end a humanitarian calamity and provide a major psychological boost to the FSA.

Sooner rather than later the U.S. will also have to do what Mr. Obama wanted to do a year ago and bomb Assad's airfields. His air force consists mainly of training aircraft dropping primitive—but devastating—munitions, some of them loaded with chlorine gas. Air power is one of his principle advantages over the FSA, and removing it would make Assad more likely to negotiate with the FSA rather than risk falling to Islamic State.

Mr. Obama first promised to train and arm the FSA a year ago, but that effort was microscopic and half-hearted. That helps explain why neighboring Arab states like Jordan abandoned the effort or began aiding jihadist groups instead. They will help now only if they believe Mr. Obama is serious.

Some conservatives are criticizing any intervention in Syria, but House Speaker John Boehner is right to support Mr. Obama's funding requests, no matter GOP doubts about Mr. Obama's strategy and resolve. The Republicans who opposed Mr. Obama's short-living plan to intervene in Syria a year ago have been discredited by events. That walk-back gave Islamic State time to expand and take more territory. The political lesson is that the GOP should not be the midwife for Mr. Obama's weakness, much less as a pretext for his inaction. In foreign policy the best politics is to support the right policy.

The U.S. is taking sides in Iraq and Syria against two entrenched enemies of American interests. Our key allies are the Kurds, the parts of the Iraqi military that aren't dominated by Iran's militia, and the moderate Sunnis in Syria and Iraq. They must win on the ground to defeat ISIS. Early action in Syria might have spared us this predicament, but that's all the more reason to act decisively now. 


How far is Putin prepared to go in Ukraine?

Russia could go even further in Ukraine with the "frozen conflict" strategy it has tried and tested in other countries, and may even end up annexing around half of Ukrainian territory, analysts say. Kiev has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to "take the entire Ukraine", a scenario that several experts can picture, believing that the Kremlin is set on a military solution.

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Saturday that Putin's aim was not just to annex the separatist regions of Donetsk and Lugansk but to eliminate Ukraine as an independent country. Western countries accuse Russia of having sent more than 1,000 soldiers to fight in Ukraine alongside pro-Kremlin rebels, a charge which Moscow denies.

Since a ceasefire between Kiev and the rebels on September 5, a swathe of territory on the Russian border, from Lugansk to the Sea of Azov, remains outside Ukrainian government control. Several analysts said Russia is already carving out a mini-state which would allow it to keep up the pressure on Kiev, as it has done in Georgia, where Moscow backed two separatist republics in the conflict there in 2008, and in Transdniestr, the Moldovan region where the Kremlin has also backed separatists.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday that the "long-term ambition of Russia is to establish a zone of influence in its near neighbourhood" and stop bordering countries from joining alliances such as the EU or NATO. And some analysts believe Putin -- who has taken to using the tsarist-era term Novorossiya, or New Russia, to describe parts of Ukraine -- has ambitions that go much further still.

"How far Russia will go in southern Ukraine depends mainly on calculations in the Kremlin: How many casualties are acceptable? How much damage to relations with the West can be sustained?" said Ulrich Speck, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Europe think-tank in Brussels. "And can territory that has been conquered actually be administered under Russian control, or will it be subject to an endless partisan war?"

Researchers from the Warsaw-based Polish Institute of International Affairs expect Ukraine's pro-Russian rebels to mount a new offensive against government forces this winter and have been war-gaming the most likely scenarios. The most probable outcome, they say, is Russian intervention in late October to ensure a land corridor 300 kilometres long and 50 kilometres wide (180 miles long by 30 miles wide) to guarantee energy and food supplies for Russian-annexed Crimea.

A second scenario that is "30 percent likely" is that Russia could proclaim the creation of "Novorossiya" in the southern half of Ukraine, supported by 50,000 to 70,000 Russian soldiers, and linking Moldova's Transdniestr to Crimea, they say. The Ukranian economy would be devastated by any such move, which would cost the country seven seaports including Odessa as well as two nuclear power stations, with an estimated loss of 27 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Around one million people live in the region in question. The gloomiest scenario involves a complete partition of the country with 100,000 Russian troops controlling the industrial east.

"All of these are realistic. It depends on the timescales," Giles Keir of the Chatham House think-tank in London told AFP.

The Royal United Services Institute, a British military think-tank, has long warned of similar scenarios, saying that Russia's huge arms industry depends on Ukraine for 30 percent of its essential components, particularly for aircraft and missiles, which might tempt Moscow to intervene. Keir said Putin held the advantage because of his "strategic patience" -- largely because Western democracies must worry more about domestic political cycles.

"Russia does things while people are looking away," for example the invasion of Georgia during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he said. "The initiative is entirely in their hands."

The New Map Of The Ukraine Conflict Is Alarming

Ukraine's military published a map that suggests Russian-backed forces have secured crucial territory between the stronghold of Russian-backed separatists and a strategic Ukrainian city. A shaky cease-fire is currently in place in eastern Ukraine, although residents say it still feels like war. If the new map is accurate, the situation further raises the specter that Moscow-backed separatists want to capture the port city of Mariupol.

"Ukraine's security council finally admits rebels have taken control of border area all the way down to Sea of Azov," journalist Alec Luhn said of the map.

Russia still has about 1,000 troops in Ukraine, according to NATO. Any assault on Mariupol would push the conflict into a dangerous new phase as the war would immediately grow wider. The city, if overrun, would provide Russia a strategic link between the rebel-held regional capital Donetsk to the north, the Azov Sea to the south, and the land route to the Crimean peninsula (which Russian special forces annexed in March).

Russian President Vladimir Putin's aim in Ukraine seems to involve creating a frozen conflict with a breakaway region in Ukraine's southeast corner so that Putin can impose his will on the former Soviet republic. Creating a land bridge with Crimea would be an even more aggressive option.

Putin has a lot of things going for him in the medium-to-long term, including Ukraine's imploding economy, the threat of a further Russian invasion, the hesitance of Europe, the fact that winter is coming, and the state of Ukraine's battered army and militias.

Source: The New Map Of The Ukraine Conflict Is Alarming

Ukraine Suffers Harsh Defeat in Eastern Town

Ukrainian volunteers seized the strategic rebel-held town of Ilovaisk last month "quickly and greedily" without loss of life, said their commander Semyon Semyonchenko, marking another triumph over Russia-backed rebels in the east. Today, Mr. Semyonchenko is in a hospital bed, and more than half of the at least 600 Ukrainians who held the town are dead, wounded or missing. Russia sent forces into Ukraine last week, quickly surrounded Ilovaisk, pounded the Ukrainians with tanks and artillery, and ambushed them when they tried to retreat.

The crushing defeat at Ilovaisk has become a symbol of the reversal of Ukrainian forces that only last month were emboldened by their derring-do and advance on the two main rebel strongholds. With the arrival of the Russian army, much of the Ukrainian battlefront is in rout, and Kiev is preparing the country for a grim defensive war. Now Kiev must face losing a swath of its industrial heartland to Russia-backed separatists, just weeks after officials said they were close to defeating them.

Whether it loses more than that appears to depend on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who last week boasted to European Commission President José Manuel Barroso that his Russian forces could take Kiev in two weeks if that was what he wanted, according to an EU official briefed on the discussion. The Kremlin has so far ignored western threats of harsher sanctions, and has even ramped up supplies to rebels to stave off a potential defeat. Russia denies sending troops or weapons.

Ukrainian officials say they know they cannot win against an outright Russian invasion. If Moscow chooses to advance deeper into Ukraine, the plan now is to make Russia pay with men and materiel as it advances. But they will also do what Mr. Putin all along has wanted them to do: Negotiate with Kremlin-backed rebels who demand autonomy in eastern Ukraine. 

"They had the newest grenade launchers, tanks, large-caliber cannons. They opened buildings up like a tin opener," said Trojan, a 34-year-old business manager who commanded one volunteer unit and managed to withdraw his men before the town was completely surrounded.

The speaker of Ukraine's parliament proposed a day of mourning for those who died in Ilovaisk, and a military spokesman pledged an investigation. President Petro Poroshenko said there would be changes in the military leadership after the setbacks. Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey said Monday that the army would halt attempts to remove separatists from the east, instead moving to a defensive strategy to fight off what he called a "full-scale invasion" of Russian regular troops.

Ukrainian officials say the catastrophe at Ilovaisk was not the first time its troops were encircled, and that hundreds were killed during the summer when groups were pinned down along with Russian border. Ukrainian officials say Russian and separatists forces are now advancing on the major industrial port of Mariupol and on Monday seized the airport in the easternmost rebel stronghold of Luhansk. But Ilovaisk carried special resonance in Ukraine because many of those who died and were captured were former protesters and activists who after the toppling of Ukraine's last president enlisted in privately financed battalions to fight Russia-backed rebels.

Though more lightly armed than Ukraine army units, fighters from groups like the Azov battalion, named after the sea off the south coast, burst into towns and villages in eastern Ukraine in often crudely armored trucks and other vehicles, flushing out separatists and raising Ukrainian flags. The volunteer battalions were originally intended to work as armed police units mopping up after army troops recaptured towns from rebels. But their gung-ho efforts often brought them into front-line duty, such as when they took Mariupol, a southern industrial port of some 500,000.

Mr. Semyonchenko said his battalion launched an attack on Ilovaisk on Aug. 19 to close a key road for reinforcements from Russia to the rebel capital of Donetsk. Though they took most of the town without much of a fight, Mr. Semyonchenko was wounded the second day. "I knew we needed reinforcements and I began asking for them," he said. But the reinforcements were mostly the lightly armed volunteer battalions, like the Azov unit commanded by Trojan.

Ilovaisk "was a mousetrap," said Trojan, a square-jawed giant trained in combat sports. The fighters soon started incurring heavy casualties as artillery from surrounding towns rained down on them. "It was a terrible tragedy," he said.

Nikolai Kolesnik, a supply officer for a volunteer battalion from the city of Kriviy Rih, said his battalion set up and defended the four heavily-fortified roadblocks, posting a tank and an armored personnel carrier at each of them. But troops in the town were being decimated by artillery and rocket fire. "I knew that a bigger assault was coming."

After a few days of fighting, Russian forces had the town surrounded. By the end of last week, they had a second ring of armor and artillery surrounding Ukrainian army units that had been firing at Russian columns heading up the road from the border.

Mr. Semyonchenko posted desperate appeals to Kiev for army support on his Facebook page. Hundreds of people protested outside army headquarters in Kiev calling for reinforcements to be sent. But additional units sent to the area struggled to break through, leaving the army and volunteer units trapped.

Now commanders in Ilovaisk turned their attention to escape. Yuri Beryoza, a battalion commander from the Dnipro battalion, began calling Russian commanders on his mobile phone, to try to make a deal allowing them safe passage out of the city, he said. Mr. Beryoza said the Ukrainians held 20 Russian prisoners in Ilovaisk, and he offered to hand them over after they were allowed to leave.

Mr. Beryoza said he reached an agreement with the Russians on Friday morning, and at 6 a.m. he and the other commanders ordered their troops to move out of Ilovaisk and formed a column of 60 vehicles. At the front of the column was a truck carrying dead and wounded, flying a white flag.

Soldiers in the column said they traveled for about an hour when surrounding Russian and rebel troops opened fire on them, first with mortars, then with machine guns. As vehicles caught fire and blew up, men in the column fled in every direction. Tracked vehicles ran over men on foot and one armored vehicle blew up, sending a head flying toward Taras Samchuk, a 28-year-old cook from the western town of Lutsk. About 100 were killed on the road, and more than that were wounded, survivors said.

Others fled in small groups towards Ukrainian lines or were captured. Mr. Beryoza said he was part of a group of 14 soldiers who crawled to safety and arrived in Dnipropetrovsk on Sunday. Mr. Samchuk said his vehicle swerved into a sunflower field and out of sight. Residents of the small town of Kolmsomolske some dozen miles away said they saw dozens of fighters staggering through the town in small groups on Saturday morning, with bloodied bodies and dirty uniforms.

A few miles away that evening, a convoy of about 10 ambulances stood on the brow of a hill, checking if the road ahead was safe. Stuffed with dozens of bedraggled soldiers stinking of dirt, sweat and flesh, they flew white flags from their windows and said they had come from Starobesheve, a town where the column had been headed. Asked where they were going, a driver stared blankly into the distance in silence, his hands trembling on the wheel.


Henry Kissinger on the Assembly of a New World Order: The concept that has underpinned the modern geopolitical era is in crisis

Libya is in civil war, fundamentalist armies are building a self-declared caliphate across Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan's young democracy is on the verge of paralysis. To these troubles are added a resurgence of tensions with Russia and a relationship with China divided between pledges of cooperation and public recrimination. The concept of order that has underpinned the modern era is in crisis.

The search for world order has long been defined almost exclusively by the concepts of Western societies. In the decades following World War II, the U.S.—strengthened in its economy and national confidence—began to take up the torch of international leadership and added a new dimension. A nation founded explicitly on an idea of free and representative governance, the U.S. identified its own rise with the spread of liberty and democracy and credited these forces with an ability to achieve just and lasting peace. The traditional European approach to order had viewed peoples and states as inherently competitive; to constrain the effects of their clashing ambitions, it relied on a balance of power and a concert of enlightened statesmen. The prevalent American view considered people inherently reasonable and inclined toward peaceful compromise and common sense; the spread of democracy was therefore the overarching goal for international order. Free markets would uplift individuals, enrich societies and substitute economic interdependence for traditional international rivalries.

This effort to establish world order has in many ways come to fruition. A plethora of independent sovereign states govern most of the world's territory. The spread of democracy and participatory governance has become a shared aspiration if not a universal reality; global communications and financial networks operate in real time.

The years from perhaps 1948 to the turn of the century marked a brief moment in human history when one could speak of an incipient global world order composed of an amalgam of American idealism and traditional European concepts of statehood and balance of power. But vast regions of the world have never shared and only acquiesced in the Western concept of order. These reservations are now becoming explicit, for example, in the Ukraine crisis and the South China Sea. The order established and proclaimed by the West stands at a turning point.

First, the nature of the state itself—the basic formal unit of international life—has been subjected to a multitude of pressures. Europe has set out to transcend the state and craft a foreign policy based primarily on the principles of soft power. But it is doubtful that claims to legitimacy separated from a concept of strategy can sustain a world order. And Europe has not yet given itself attributes of statehood, tempting a vacuum of authority internally and an imbalance of power along its borders. At the same time, parts of the Middle East have dissolved into sectarian and ethnic components in conflict with each other; religious militias and the powers backing them violate borders and sovereignty at will, producing the phenomenon of failed states not controlling their own territory.

The challenge in Asia is the opposite of Europe's: Balance-of-power principles prevail unrelated to an agreed concept of legitimacy, driving some disagreements to the edge of confrontation.

The clash between the international economy and the political institutions that ostensibly govern it also weakens the sense of common purpose necessary for world order. The economic system has become global, while the political structure of the world remains based on the nation-state. Economic globalization, in its essence, ignores national frontiers. Foreign policy affirms them, even as it seeks to reconcile conflicting national aims or ideals of world order. This dynamic has produced decades of sustained economic growth punctuated by periodic financial crises of seemingly escalating intensity: in Latin America in the 1980s; in Asia in 1997; in Russia in 1998; in the U.S. in 2001 and again starting in 2007; in Europe after 2010. The winners have few reservations about the system. But the losers—such as those stuck in structural misdesigns, as has been the case with the European Union's southern tier—seek their remedies by solutions that negate, or at least obstruct, the functioning of the global economic system.

The international order thus faces a paradox: Its prosperity is dependent on the success of globalization, but the process produces a political reaction that often works counter to its aspirations.

A third failing of the current world order, such as it exists, is the absence of an effective mechanism for the great powers to consult and possibly cooperate on the most consequential issues. This may seem an odd criticism in light of the many multilateral forums that exist—more by far than at any other time in history. Yet the nature and frequency of these meetings work against the elaboration of long-range strategy. This process permits little beyond, at best, a discussion of pending tactical issues and, at worst, a new form of summitry as "social media" event. A contemporary structure of international rules and norms, if it is to prove relevant, cannot merely be affirmed by joint declarations; it must be fostered as a matter of common conviction.

The penalty for failing will be not so much a major war between states (though in some regions this remains possible) as an evolution into spheres of influence identified with particular domestic structures and forms of governance. At its edges, each sphere would be tempted to test its strength against other entities deemed illegitimate. A struggle between regions could be even more debilitating than the struggle between nations has been. The contemporary quest for world order will require a coherent strategy to establish a concept of order within the various regions and to relate these regional orders to one another. These goals are not necessarily self-reconciling: The triumph of a radical movement might bring order to one region while setting the stage for turmoil in and with all others. The domination of a region by one country militarily, even if it brings the appearance of order, could produce a crisis for the rest of the world.

A world order of states affirming individual dignity and participatory governance, and cooperating internationally in accordance with agreed-upon rules, can be our hope and should be our inspiration. But progress toward it will need to be sustained through a series of intermediary stages. To play a responsible role in the evolution of a 21st-century world order, the U.S. must be prepared to answer a number of questions for itself: What do we seek to prevent, no matter how it happens, and if necessary alone? What do we seek to achieve, even if not supported by any multilateral effort? What do we seek to achieve, or prevent, only if supported by an alliance? What should we not engage in, even if urged on by a multilateral group or an alliance? What is the nature of the values that we seek to advance? And how much does the application of these values depend on circumstance?

For the U.S., this will require thinking on two seemingly contradictory levels. The celebration of universal principles needs to be paired with recognition of the reality of other regions' histories, cultures and views of their security. Even as the lessons of challenging decades are examined, the affirmation of America's exceptional nature must be sustained. History offers no respite to countries that set aside their sense of identity in favor of a seemingly less arduous course. But nor does it assure success for the most elevated convictions in the absence of a comprehensive geopolitical strategy.


Russia’s New Security Strategy and its Implications for U.S. Policy

The May 2014 Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS), sponsored by the Russian Ministry of Defense, was focused on the role of popular protest, and specifically color revolutions, in international security. The speakers, which included top Russian military and diplomatic officials such as Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, argued that color revolutions are a new form of warfare invented by Western governments seeking to remove independently-minded national governments in favor of ones controlled by the West. They argued that this was part of a global strategy to force foreign values on a range of nations around the world that refuse to accept U.S. hegemony and that Russia was a particular target of this strategy.

While the West considers color revolutions to be peaceful expressions of popular will opposing repressive authoritarian regimes, Russian officials argue that military force is an integral part of all aspects of color revolutions. Western governments start by using non-military tactics to change opposing governments through color revolutions that utilize the protest potential of the population to engineer peaceful regime change. But military force is concealed behind this effort. If the protest potential turns out to be insufficient, military force is then used openly to ensure regime change. This includes the use of external pressure on the regime in question to prevent the use of force to restore order, followed by the provision of military and economic assistance to rebel forces. If these measures are not sufficient, Western states organize a military operation to defeat government forces and allow the rebels to take power. Russian officials at the MCIS conference described color revolutions as a new technique of aggression pioneered by the United States and geared toward destroying a state from within by dividing its population. The advantage of this technique, compared to military intervention, is that it requires a relatively low expenditure of resources to achieve its goals.

Shoigu argued that this scheme has been used in a wide range of cases, including Serbia, Libya, and Syria—all cases where political interference by the West transitioned into military action. In 2014, the same scheme was followed in Ukraine, where anti-regime protests over several months transformed into a civil war, and in Venezuela, where the so-called democratic opposition is supposedly organized by the United States. While Western readers may find the lumping together of uprisings as disparate as those in Serbia in 2000, Syria in 2011, and Venezuela in 2014 hard to swallow, from the Russian point of view, they all share the common thread of occurring in countries that had governments that were opposed to the United States. Although uprisings in countries whose governments were close to the United States, such as Kyrgyzstan in 2010 and Egypt and Bahrain in 2011, are harder to explain, such inconsistencies do not appear to trouble the Russian government.

Furthermore, while Russian discussion of the destabilizing role of color revolutions usually portrays U.S. actions as taking place around the world, there is a clear perception that Russia is one of the main targets. This drives fear that unrest in the post-Soviet region may be a wedge for the United States to force regime change in Russia itself.

Russia’s Counter-Strategy

This perspective appears to be at the core of a new national security strategy that Russia is developing. Although the Russian government has not produced any kind of document summarizing this new strategy, the key aspects can be gleaned from an analysis of Russian leaders’ statements and Russian actions in recent months. The counter-strategy combines political and military actions.

On the political side, Russia has stepped up its efforts to make alliances with other authoritarian regimes that are similarly concerned about the possibility of a popular uprising that could lead to their loss of power. This strategy has been used by Russia to some extent throughout Vladimir Putin’s presidency, with efforts to develop ties with former Soviet allies in the Middle East and Asia. The MCIS conference highlighted a renewed emphasis in this direction. The presence of the Iranian defense minister, the Egyptian deputy defense minister, the chief of defense from Myanmar, and deputy chiefs of defense from Vietnam, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as a large delegation from China, all indicate the primary focus of attention for Russian military engagement this year. The absence of official representatives from NATO member states particularly highlighted the shift in emphasis of Russian military cooperation. By comparison, the 2013 MCIS had no representatives from Middle Eastern or Asian countries outside of post-Soviet Eurasia, while senior officials from most NATO member states were in attendance.

The second part of Russia’s political strategy is to damage the unity of the Western alliance. This effort has been pursued for several years through the development of political alliances with right-wing parties throughout Europe and in the United States. As described by Marlene Laruelle and Mitchell Orenstein, among others, Russia has supported European nationalists’ anti-EU and anti-immigrant positions. The core of Russia’s alliance with the European far right has been a shared opposition to increased ties between the EU and its eastern neighbors. The European right has also been sympathetic to Russia’s positions on issues such as the role of religion in society, same-sex marriage, and gay rights generally. These positions have also gained Russia some unlikely supporters among the Christian right in the United States, where Russian support for anti-abortion and anti-gay rights views has, in turn, been reciprocated by what would be otherwise surprising sympathy for Russian foreign policy positions on issues such as human rights and democracy promotion.

On the military side, Russia has determined that the best way to counter the perceived U.S. strategy is through a combination of strong support for existing authoritarian regimes around the world. This support has included military and economic assistance, as well as public support for actions taken against protesters, who are often conflated in Russian rhetoric with terrorists or supporters of radical ideologies such as radical Islam or fascism.

In circumstances where this proves insufficient and the situation is in an area deemed crucial to Russian national interests, Russia has shown that it is willing to go further by providing direct support to forces opposed to those supported by the West. This support may include the simulation of popular uprisings, support for local insurgents, and the threat of direct military force to protect co-ethnics.

Russia claims to reserve the right to protect Russians living abroad. Given the large numbers of Russians living throughout post-Soviet Eurasia, this claim has the potential to provide Russia with an excuse for intervention anywhere in the region. Furthermore, it may lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, by which governments of other post-Soviet states come to distrust their ethnic Russian populations, leading to discrimination that creates the conditions for a potential Russian intervention.

The Russian Strategy in Ukraine

The actions that Russia has been undertaking in Ukraine in recent months are based on this strategy and closely parallel Russian officials’ perceptions of how the U.S. color revolutions strategy works. Russian officials provided the Yanukovych government with advice on how to deal with anti-government protesters. This advice appears to have involved encouragement to use repressive measures, though the government appeared to lack either the capacity or willpower to carry it out to the end. Officials from Russian security services met regularly with Ukrainian government officials, with FSB Colonel General Sergei Beseda present in Kyiv on Feb 20-21 as the Yanukovych government collapsed.

At the same time, the Russian government provided economic assistance to Ukraine, including a $15 billion aid package and an agreement to lower the price Ukraine paid for 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas from $400 to $268. This assistance was canceled after the change of government in Ukraine.

When Russian assistance proved inadequate to maintain the Yanukovych government in power, Russia took immediate steps to weaken the new anti-Russian government that was being formed in Kyiv. It seems highly likely that Russian agents were involved in organizing counter-protests in eastern Ukraine and Crimea after Viktor Yanukovych’s departure from Ukraine.

From the start of the conflict, Russia repeatedly used the threat of force to try to influence the actions of the new Ukrainian government, both by making statements reserving the right to intervene in the conflict and by staging several military exercises on the Ukrainian border. The statements initially focused on the right of the Russian government to protect its co-ethnics abroad, though as the conflict accelerated over the summer they have shifted to the need to protect civilians in general from a humanitarian disaster. This parallels past Western statements that use the doctrine of the international responsibility to protect civilians to justify interventions in internal conflicts.

Finally, Russia has engaged in covert military action in Crimea and, at a minimum, provided military and financial assistance to separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. The quick Russian intervention in Crimea was made possible by the presence of a relatively large contingent of Russian troops (approximately 14,000) who were already based in Crimea and the strong antipathy of the local population to the new Ukrainian government. The Russian naval infantry based in Sevastopol were augmented by special forces troops from Russian military intelligence, who occupied key locations on the peninsula, including government buildings and the isthmus connecting Crimea to the rest of Ukraine, and surrounded Ukrainian military bases in the region. Many of these actions paralleled Russian military exercises that had taken place a year earlier in the Black Sea region.

Russian actions in eastern Ukraine have escalated more gradually, as the conflict has dragged on in recent months. Initially, Russian support consisted of a mass media propaganda campaign in opposition to the “fascist junta” that had taken power in Kyiv and in support of the actions being taken by protesters in the Donbas. As the conflict became more violent in April and May 2014, volunteers from Russia joined in the fighting. Many of these volunteers were recruited (unofficially) through military recruitment offices in Russia. While no conclusive evidence has surfaced, there is a strong likelihood that agents from Russian security services were involved in coordinating protests in eastern and southern Ukraine from their earliest stages.

Russia’s role in the conflict has increased over time, especially after the separatist forces began to lose territory in late June 2014. Early on, local protest leaders were sidelined by Russian citizens, some of whom had a background working for Russian security services. Beginning in June, Russia began to provide heavy weaponry to the separatist forces, including multiple rocket launchers and air defense weapons. Beginning in July, Russian forces have shelled Ukrainian forces from Russian territory in order to prevent Ukraine from sealing off the border and ending the provision of military assistance to separatist forces. In August, the Russian government responded to continued Ukrainian victories by sending in a limited contingent of Russian troops and opening a new front in territory previously under the firm control of government forces, near Novoazovsk and Mariupol in southern Donetsk region. This escalation in Russian military assistance caused a major shift in the path of the conflict, with Ukrainian forces taking heavy casualties throughout the Donbas and losing control of approximately half the territory they had gained over the summer.

Russian actions in Ukraine appear to mirror the actions Russian leaders believe the United States has been taking in its efforts to eliminate unfriendly governments around the world. While the increase in military support for separatist forces during the summer of 2014 appeared to have been largely improvised, the earlier actions to destabilize Ukraine in the aftermath of Yanukovych’s flight from Kyiv seem to have been based on existing contingency plans. It is possible that Russian leaders believe that the United States actively seeks to destabilize opposing regimes because such activities are a standard part of their own policy toolkit.

Impact on U.S. Policy and Recommendations

There has been a continuing debate on whether domestic or international factors are primary in Russia’s current foreign policy. In reality, it appears that both are working together. Russian foreign policy appears to be based on a combination of fears of popular protest and opposition to U.S. world hegemony, both of which are seen as threatening the Putin regime.

Russia’s current policies in Ukraine have little to do with geopolitical calculations about Ukraine’s economic ties with the EU versus the Eurasian Union or even its potential NATO membership. Similarly, the annexation of Crimea was not about ensuring the security of the Black Sea Fleet. Instead, the main goal has been to strengthen the Putin regime domestically by increasing patriotic attitudes among the Russian population. Patriotism is the means by which the Russian government inoculates the Russian population against anti-regime and/or pro-Western attitudes. This goal explains the obsessive focus on building an anti-Ukrainian and anti-American media narrative from an early stage in the Ukraine conflict.

In this environment, it is not worth spending time trying to convince the current Russian leadership to pursue more cooperative policies. If they truly believe that the United States is seeking to force them out of power and is simply waiting for an opportune moment to strike, then Russian policies will remain committed to ensuring that the United States does not get such an opportunity.

The U.S. response to such a position needs to focus on a combination of reassuring steps to show that the United States is not planning to overthrow the Putin regime and a restatement of the core U.S. position that the citizens of each country deserve the right to determine their own government without external interference (from either Russia or the United States).

In practical terms, the U.S. government should encourage the Ukrainian government to pursue policies of reconciliation in the Donbas. While the conflict has been greatly exacerbated by Russian actions, it has an internal component that cannot be solved by military action alone. In an ideal world, Russia and the United States would work together to encourage this reconciliation, though I doubt that the current Russian government is genuinely interested in peace in eastern Ukraine. Instead, it prefers to keep eastern Ukraine unstable as an object lesson to its own population of the dangers of popular protest leading to the overthrow of even a relatively unpopular regime.

Washington Post: War in Europe is not a hysterical idea

Over and over again — throughout the entirety of my adult life, or so it feels — I have been shown Polish photographs from the beautiful summer of 1939: The children playing in the sunshine, the fashionable women on Krakow streets. I have even seen a picture of a family wedding that took place in June 1939, in the garden of a Polish country house I now own. All of these pictures convey a sense of doom, for we know what happened next. September 1939 brought invasion from both east and west, occupation, chaos, destruction, genocide. Most of the people who attended that June wedding were soon dead or in exile. None of them ever returned to the house.

In retrospect, all of them now look naive. Instead of celebrating weddings, they should have dropped everything, mobilized, prepared for total war while it was still possible. And now I have to ask: Should Ukrainians, in the summer of 2014, do the same? Should central Europeans join them?

I realize that this question sounds hysterical, and foolishly apocalyptic, to U.S. or Western European readers. But hear me out, if only because this is a conversation many people in the eastern half of Europe are having right now. In the past few days, Russian troops bearing the flag of a previously unknown country, Novorossiya, have marched across the border of southeastern Ukraine. The Russian Academy of Sciences recently announced it will publish a history of Novorossiya this autumn, presumably tracing its origins back to Catherine the Great. Various maps of Novorossiya are said to be circulating in Moscow. Some include Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk, cities that are still hundreds of miles away from the fighting. Some place Novorossiya along the coast, so that it connects Russia to Crimea and eventually to Transnistria, the Russian-occupied province of Moldova. Even if it starts out as an unrecognized rump state — Abkhazia and South Ossetia, “states” that Russia carved out of Georgia, are the models here — Novorossiya can grow larger over time.

Russian soldiers will have to create this state — how many of them depends upon how hard Ukraine fights, and who helps them — but eventually Russia will need more than soldiers to hold this territory. Novorossiya will not be stable as long as it is inhabited by Ukrainians who want it to stay Ukrainian. There is a familiar solution to this, too. A few days ago, Alexander Dugin, an extreme nationalist whose views have helped shape those of the Russian president, issued an extraordinary statement. “Ukraine must be cleansed of idiots,” he wrote — and then called for the “genocide” of the “race of bastards.”

But Novorossiya will also be hard to sustain if it has opponents in the West. Possible solutions to that problem are also under discussion. Not long ago, Vladimir Zhirinovsky — the Russian member of parliament and court jester who sometimes says things that those in power cannot — argued on television that Russia should use nuclear weapons to bomb Poland and the Baltic countries — “dwarf states,” he called them — and show the West who really holds power in Europe: “Nothing threatens America, it’s far away. But Eastern European countries will place themselves under the threat of total annihilation,” he declared. Vladimir Putin indulges these comments: Zhirinovsky’s statements are not official policy, the Russian president says, but he always “gets the party going.”

A far more serious person, the dissident Russian analyst Andrei Piontkovsky, has recently published an article arguing, along lines that echo Zhirinovsky’s threats, that Putin really is weighing the possibility of limited nuclear strikes — perhaps against one of the Baltic capitals, perhaps a Polish city — to prove that NATO is a hollow, meaningless entity that won’t dare strike back for fear of a greater catastrophe. Indeed, in military exercises in 2009 and 2013, the Russian army openly “practiced” a nuclear attack on Warsaw.

Is all of this nothing more than the raving of lunatics? Maybe. And maybe Putin is too weak to do any of this, and maybe it’s just scare tactics, and maybe his oligarchs will stop him. But “Mein Kampf” also seemed hysterical to Western and German audiences in 1933. Stalin’s orders to “liquidate” whole classes and social groups within the Soviet Union would have seemed equally insane to us at the time, if we had been able to hear them.

But Stalin kept to his word and carried out the threats, not because he was crazy but because he followed his own logic to its ultimate conclusions with such intense dedication — and because nobody stopped him. Right now, nobody is able to stop Putin, either. So is it hysterical to prepare for total war? Or is it naive not to do so?

The Real Reason Russia is Demonized and Sanctioned: The American Petrodollar

What do Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran and Russia have in common? They have all been a victim of American aggression in one form or another – either a military attack or economic sanctions. Washington uses ethical pretexts, such as “protecting civilians” or “promoting democracy”, to act belligerently towards these nations, but due to its hypocritical nature of supporting dictators throughout the world and its disregard for human rights, this excuse is a fabrication. The real reason for singling out these countries is the petrodollar system, a scheme that enables America to stay afloat despite being more than $17 trillion in debt. The existence of petrodollars is one of the pillars of America’s economic might, because it creates a significant external demand for the American currency, allowing the U.S. to accumulate enormous debts without defaulting.

The beginning of the petrodollar

What makes the dollar unique is the fact that since the early 1970s it has been, with a few notable exceptions, the only currency used to buy and sell oil on the global market. This began when in 1973 the Richard Nixon administration began negotiations with the government of Saudi Arabia to establish what came to be referred to as the petrodollar recycling system. Under the arrangement, the Saudis would only sell their oil in U.S. dollars, and would invest the majority of their excess oil profits into U.S. banks and Capital markets. The IMF would then use this money to facilitate loans to oil importers who were having difficulties covering the increase in oil prices. The payments and interest on these loans would of course be denominated in U.S. dollars. 

This agreement was formalised in the “The U.S.-Saudi Arabian Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation” put together by Nixon’s Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1974. The system was expanded to include the rest of OPEC by 1975. This was a major economic success for the U.S. As long as the world needs oil, and as long as oil is only sold in U.S. dollars, there will be a demand for dollars, and that demand is what gives the dollar its value. 

How victims of American invasion wanted to stop trading in dollars

This petrodollar system stood unchallenged until September of 2000 when former Iraqi Persistent Saddam Hussein announced his decision to switch Iraq’s oil sales off of the dollar to Euros. This was a direct attack on the dollar. To protect the supremacy of the dollar, the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003. Once Iraqi oil fields were under U.S. control after the invasion, oil sales were immediately switched back to the dollar.

In February of 2009, former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was named Chairman of the African Union. He immediately proposed the formation of a unified state with a single currency. It was the nature of that proposed currency that got him killed.

In March of 2009 the African Union released a document entitled “Towards a Single African Currency”. Pages 106 and 107 of that document specifically discuss the benefits and technicalities of running the African Central bank under a gold standard. On page 94 it explicitly states that the key to the success of the African Monetary Union would be the “eventual linking of a single African currency to the most monetary of all commodities – gold.” In 2011 the CIA moved into Libya and began backing militant groups in their campaign to topple Gaddafi and the U.S. and NATO pushed through and stretched a U.N. no-fly zone resolution to tip the balance with airstrikes. The presence of Al-Qaeda extremists among these rebel fighters was swept under the rug. 

In February of 2014, Russia became the new target for the U.S. Russia is the world’s second largest oil exporter, and not only have they been a thorn in Washington’s side diplomatically, but they also opened an energy bourse in 2008, with sales denominated in Russian currency (roubles) and gold. This project had been in the works since 2006. They have also been working with China to pull off of the dollar in all of their bilateral trade. Russia has also been in the process of organizing a Eurasian Economic Union which includes plans to adopt common currency unit, and which is scheduled to have its own independent energy market.

Leading up to the crisis in Ukraine had been presented with a choice: either join the E.U. under an association agreement or join the Eurasian Union. The E.U. insisted that this was an either or proposition. Ukraine couldn’t join both. Russia on the other hand, asserted that joining both posed no issue. President Yanukovich decided to go with Russia. In response the U.S. national security apparatus did what it does best: they toppled Yanukovich and installed a puppet government.

Having a puppet in place however hasn’t turned out to be enough to give Washington the upper hand in this crisis. They therfore decided to impose sanctions and demonize Russia in hope that Moscow would lose its international friends. However Russia is not Iraq or Libya. It is a dominant power an going up against was unlikely to work out in America’s favour. In fact it has already backfired. The sanctions have merely pushed Russia and China into closer cooperation and accelerated Russia’s de-dollarization agenda. And in spite of the rhetoric, this has not led to Russia being isolated.

End of petrodollar would bring an end to the U.S. hegemony

The petrodollar is the only life support machine left for the U.S. and this is precisely why Washington goes after any country that tries to destroy it. This is not deterring Russia and China from going ahead with their plans. Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov announced after talks in Beijing recently that Russia and China are currently discussing the creation of a system of inter-bank transactions, which would be an analogue to the international system of bank transfers – SWIFT. The Russian authorities intended to reduce the dependence of the financial market on SWIFT after the first wave of US sanctions, when international payment systems Visa and MasterCard refused to work with a number of Russian banks. According to Shuvalov, Russia also discussed the creation of an independent rating agency with China. Specific proposals are to be made by the end of 2014.

All this indicates that the Eurasian Economic Union will gradually abandon the dollar. As soon as Russia and China show that it is really possible to abandon the dollar, especially given the fact that the United States is pushing for this, other countries will follow their example. This could become the beginning of an end of the American global dominance.

Alexander Clackson is the founder of Global Political Insight, a political media and research organisation. He has a Master’s degree in International Relations. Alexander works as a political consultant and frequently contributes to think-tanks and media outlets.

Putin ‘As Dangerous As Stalin And Bigger Threat Than ISIS,’ Claims Former Defence Secretary

Vladimir Putin poses a bigger threat than ISIS and is more dangerous than Joseph Stalin, according to former defence secretary Bob Ainsworth. The senior Labour MP in Britain qualified his claims by saying that Putin so dangerous due to the fact he has a strong state and the right sized military to achieve any ambitions he might have. This isn’t the first negative comment either which has been made by a high-ranking British official, as Prince Charles said to reporters during a recent trip to Canada that he believes that Putin is as bad as Hitler.

The criticism of Russian President was made by Ainsworth in an article he wrote recently for a Birmingham public affairs website called the Chamberlain Files. In his article he wrote about Vladimir Putin,

No leader of a major power has behaved as overtly aggressively since Stalin in the postwar period, and sadly Putin would be very pleased with the comparison. He has said the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest tragedy of the 20th century and he claims the right to act on behalf of Russian minorities in other states. As there are Russian minorities throughout the old Soviet Union and far wider he is in principle claiming the right to interfere in the affairs of all of the independent sovereign states of eastern Europe. Stalin’s policies pushed the world into the cold war. Putin has the potential to be equally as dangerous.
Ainsworth’s strong remarks against Putin, which were published in the Guardian, claimed that it was vital for Europe to reduce its reliance on Russian energy and to seek other sources,

The prime minister told the House of Commons recently there is no need to look at the strategic defence review of 2010 despite the fact that large scale cuts are still being imposed on our armed forces. We have an army stuffed full of the kind of vehicles best suited to fight a counter insurgency in Afghanistan, not those likely to offer reassurance to our European neighbours facing a Russia that is re-equipping its own forces.
There’s little question that Ainsworth has a point about the potential threat Russia could pose for Europe and even further afield, as the world seems far more interested in ISIS beheadings than they do in what is happening in the Ukraine, which was invaded, to all intents and purposes, recently.


NATO Chief Names IS and Russia as Greatest Threats to Peace

Outgoing NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has named Islamic State, or IS, and Russia as the key threats facing the military alliance, accusing Russia of "trampling" on post-Cold War peace. Speaking Monday at a meeting of the Carnegie Europe think tank in Brussels, Rasmussen said NATO member states faced challenges in the east and the south "on a scale we have not seen over two decades, and they will endure for years to come."

"To the east, there is Russia. We have tried long and hard to build a partnership with Russia in a way that respects Russia's security concerns and based on international rules and norms," Rasmussen said, according to a video of the speech published online by NATO.

"Regrettably Russia has rejected our efforts to engage. Instead, Russia considers NATO — and the West more broadly — as an adversary. Russia has trampled all the rules and commitments that have kept peace in Europe and since the end of the Cold War," he added.

Rasmussen, who is stepping down at the end of the month after five years in the job, has been a vocal opponent of Russia's "reckless" policy on Ukraine, urging Moscow to drop its perceived support for pro-Russian separatists in the east of that country. The 61-year-old Dane also warned against the new threat posed by Islamic militant group IS, which has taken over large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq in recent months.

While ruling out NATO military intervention against the group, Rasmussen said the "horrific atrocities" carried out by IS could provide the basis for United Nations action in the Middle East. The U.S. has already carried out several air strikes on IS forces in Iraq, though Russia warned last week it would consider any strikes carried out without a UN mandate over Syria — a Russian ally — as an act of aggression.


Russia's Retaliation Against American Multinationals

Russia is known for playing hard ball. A new bill announced on Thursday threatens the assets of multinationals doing business there. The bill is part of an ongoing sanctions battle pitting Russia against the U.S. and E.U.  The most recent round of sanctions, announced by Washington and Brussels in July, went for the Russian jugular: energy firms. On Thursday morning, financial news wires reported that the Russian legislature was working on a bill that would empower the Russian government to seize foreign assets. This does not bode well for a number of American companies. Although this is all speculation, history has shown that the Russian government is not shy about seizing energy assets owned by companies deemed to be enemies of the state.

Yukos Oil, for instance, once owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was taken over by Rosneft . It’s CEO was put in prison for alleged tax fraud.

It’s not that Russia is going to seize the Alpha One oil rig drilling in the Kara Sea with Exxon’s help, but the threat exists. And that will keep American lawyers on their toes. “No company wants to run afoul of these sanctions. Companies are still trying to understand the implications,” said Andrey Goltsblat, a Moscow based lawyer for Goltsblat BLP. Goltsblat was the chief of staff of the constitutional commission in Russia between 1989-93, when the new constitution was passed in a referendum.

News of the foreign asset seizure bill weakened the dollar and spooked equities in Europe, as gold jumped $9 to $1,224 from $1,215 and the Frankfurt stock exchange declined 0.8% during the remaining 30 minutes of trade.

Thursday’s rise in the gold price is all due to the so-called Ukraine variable – and the threat it poses to trade and global economic growth.  Ukraine has been a significant impediment to the ongoing price to earnings multiple expansion in emerging markets and even in the S&P 500 since March, said Vladimir Signorelli, founder and chief economist for Bretton Woods Research, a macro investment research firm based in New Jersey.

Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, then an autonomous region of Ukraine, on March 16. Sanctions began immediately after that but were targeted on individual Russians, banning them from taking money out of American bank accounts or traveling to the U.S. Europe imposed similar sanctions against the same individuals.

Over time, sanctions targeted important sectors of the Russian economy. The energy sector was hit in July. Thursday’s bill is clearly a shot across the bow of American multinationals, who could see assets nationalized if the Ukraine tit-for-tat sanctions war worsens. With nationalist fervor running high in Moscow these days, such anti-trade legislation has to be taken seriously in Europe. This is the market with the most to lose from Russia.

“If this is not resolved by the winter, the European Union will be in trouble,” said Jan Dehn, an economist with the Ashmore Group, a U.K. based emerging markets investment firm. “At this rate, I would say the outcome is going to have (Russian president Vladimir) Putin as the winner,” he said. “The state energy companies have moved quickly on locking down long term energy contracts with China. They’re diversifying away from the E.U. And the E.U. might end up paying more for Russian natural gas. Good for Russia. Bad for the E.U.,” he said.

Russia’s economy and equity markets won’t be the winner any time soon, however. The Market Vectors Russia (RSX) exchange traded fund fell 2.5% to $23.38 per share. European markets will be next to suffer once the cold weather starts. Europe is dependent on Russia for its foreign supply of heat — as in natural gas delivered from Gazprom.

“We do not believe European equity markets will escape the overhang and implications of the Ukrainian variable without a peace deal that points toward a gradual rescission of economic sanctions between the West and Russia,” said Signorelli.

Worth noting, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko left Washington empty handed last week. President Obama is fixated on ISIS in the Middle East as his signature foreign policy at the moment. Outside of sanctions, a proxy war with Russia is out of the question. As much as the U.S. government might like the idea of replacing Russian gas in Europe with American liquefied natural gas, that opportunity remains years away.

“We don’t have the infrastructure for LNG imports,” said Dehn.

Without a military commitment from Washington or NATO, Ukraine will be forced to reach a deal with the pro-Russia separatists in the Eastern Ukraine and this will likely be better for Putin than for Petro. Meanwhile, for American multinationals, it’s business as unusual in Russia. It’s not that Moscow agents are knocking on their doors. But the pressure of being a foreigner in a land that feels a bit scorned by the West is no longer solely the anxiety of oligarchs who’ve run afoul of the Kremlin.

Russia's Gazprom 'limiting gas supplies to Poland'

Poland has said the volume of gas it has received so far this week from Russian gas monopoly Gazprom is down by at least 20%. Some European countries believe Moscow may use a disruption of gas to Europe as a trump card in its confrontation with the west over Ukraine. The row has already brought relations between Moscow and the west to their lowest ebb since the cold war.

Ukraine's gas transport monopoly Ukrtransgaz was quoted by a Russian news agency as saying Gazprom was limiting flows to Poland to disrupt supplies of gas in the opposite direction, from Poland into Ukraine. Kiev is already cut off from Russian gas in a pricing dispute and depends on these "reverse flows" to supply homes and businesses with gas.

Gazprom made no immediate comment. Polish gas monopoly PGNiG said on Wednesday it was trying to find out why volumes were down. There was no indication that any European Union importers of Russian gas besides Poland were affected. Slovakia, a major hub for Russia gas exports to Europe, said volumes were steady, and operators in Hungary, Bosnia and Serbia said there was no disruption to their supplies.

Igor Gorsky, a spokesman for Gazprom Transgaz Belarus, the Gazprom subsidiary that operates export pipelines via Belarus, said: "There have been no extraordinary situations from our side, or any maintenance work, which could have an impact on supply volumes."

Poland has lobbied the EU hard to impose tougher sanctions on Moscow, and it is to host elements of a new Nato rapid reaction force, created in response to the Russian intervention in Ukraine. Gazprom supplies a third of Europe's gas and for many EU countries it is the main source of power for homes and industry. The Russian firm has said its focus is on continuing to provide stable gas supplies for its customers.

Russia completes dry run of nuclear bombing attack on America

The Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, but under the stewardship of President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, a new cold war between Russia and the United States appears to be forming. At least, it's cold for now.

Over the past 30 months, Russian strategic (read nuclear) forces have begun testing U.S. defenses on a much more regular basis. The most recent attempt occurred just days ago when a pair of Russian strategic bombers practiced cruise missile attacks on the U.S. during a training mission -- a mission that U.S. officials said was timed to coincide with a NATO summit in Wales aimed at developing a plan to blunt Russia's aggression toward Ukraine.

American and Canadian systems picked up and tracked the aged Tu-95 "Bear-H" bombers flying a line across the northern Atlantic Ocean "near Iceland, Greenland, and Canada's northeast," the Free Beacon news site reported, adding:

Analysis of the flight indicated the aircraft were conducting practice runs to a pre-determined "launch box"--an optimum point for firing nuclear-armed cruise missiles at U.S. targets, said defense officials familiar with intelligence reports.

Testing of U.S. defenses have been increasing

The disclosure of the latest Russian nuclear forces training came amid a call by a Russian general the prior week for Moscow to adjust its military doctrine to include a first-strike option against the U.S. and NATO.

"Gen. Yuri Yakubov, a senior Defense Ministry official, was quoted by the state-run Interfax news agency as saying that Russia's 2010 military doctrine should be revised to identify the United States and the NATO alliance as enemies, and clearly outline the conditions for a preemptive nuclear strike against them," the Free Beacon reported.

Among other necessary doctrinal changes, Yakubov said, "it is necessary to hash out the conditions under which Russia could carry out a preemptive strike with the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces," which are the Russian army's nuclear forces.

The recent practice launch runs are just the latest in a string of such missions that involve aggressive Russian bomber flights near U.S. airspace. The Free Beacon said a number of analysts believe that the flights amount to nuclear saber-rattling by Moscow over escalating tensions surrounding Ukraine.

No U.S. or Canadian interceptors were launched against the Bear-H bombers because the Russian planes remained outside the North American Air Defense Identification Zone. However, not all missions in recent months have done so; U.S. and allied aircraft have scrambled often since 2011 in response to Russian aircraft.

At the NATO summit, officials issued a statement that criticized "Russia's aggressive actions against Ukraine [which] have fundamentally challenged our vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace."

Russia upgrading its nuclear forces

The Tu-95 is a dual-turboprop bomber that first entered service with the Soviet Air Force in 1956. Like its American jet-powered counterpart, the B-52, the Bear has undergone a number of upgrades and revisions since it was first introduced. Its most modern version is designed to carry six AS-15 nuclear-armed cruise missiles, which have a range of more than 1,800 miles.

"Google Earth analysis reveals that a Tu-95 launch box located in the Labrador Sea and firing AS-15 missiles would be in range of Ottawa, New York, Washington, and Chicago, and could reach as far south as the Norfolk Naval base," the Free Beacon reported. Other Russian moves regarding its nuclear force in recent months include:

-- Moscow is developing new nuclear weapons to counter the U.S. and NATO. According to the New York Post, Russia recently tested a new sea-based weapon that was launched from a submarine. "We have warned many times that we would have to take corresponding countermeasures to ensure our security," Putin told a gathering of officials at the Kremlin, adding that he was now going to take personal charge of the government commission overseeing military industries.

-- In early August, the Free Beacon reported that Russian aircraft had tested U.S. air defenses at least 16 times in the previous 10 days.

-- In 2012, Interfax reported that Russia had tested a new fifth-generation intercontinental ballistic missile designed to counter U.S. anti-missile defenses.

Meanwhile, there have been no reports that U.S. aircraft have been testing Russian air defense forces.

Rogozin: Russia to fully renew nuclear forces by 2020

September 17, 2014. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin at the testing grounds of the Geodeziya scientific research institute in Krasnoarmeisk. (RIA Novosti/Sergey Guneev)

Russia is set to renew the country’s strategic nuclear forces by 100 percent, not 70 percent as previously announced, according to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. "The formation of the technical basis for strategic nuclear forces is going at a faster rate, and in fact, we will renew not 70 percent of the SNF, but 100 percent," Rogozin told Rossiya TV channel.

The deputy premier, who’s responsible for the Russian defense industry, also declared that in 2015 the army and the navy are to switch 30 percent of their weapons to "cutting edge" technology, and by 70 percent in 2020. "Should we amaze our colleagues, and is it necessary to brandish all types of weaponry to surprise them? Something must be preserved as a quiet secret for yourself to reveal at the most critical moment," Rogozin said, as quoted by RIA Novosti. 

He added that the Russian army needs to be compact to move to “any threatening war theater” if necessary.
Rogozin also stated that Russia can do without the French Mistral helicopter carriers, the delivery of which was suspended over the situation in Ukraine. Moreover, the official described the statements from France that the contract could be disrupted as “unlawful” because one third of the ship was manufactured in Russia.
“For the same reason, it is impossible to transfer this half-of-the-ship to anybody else,” he added.

“Secondly, the money has been paid and it must be returned with penalties. Thirdly, it is not even money that France is risking, but its status of a reliable supplier in the World Trade Organization,” Rogozin said. Mistrals aren’t entirely convenient for the Russian climate, as they were initially designed for the Mediterranean and wouldn’t be able to sail in northern seas, the deputy premier underlined. Last but not the least, Russia can now make state-of-the-art ships that can easily match up to the Mistrals, the official said.
“Last year, on November 16 we transferred the Vikramaditya light aircraft carrier, which was formerly our Admiral Gorshkov missile cruiser, to our Indian colleagues. Thus, having implemented that contract and earning big money, we proved inside Russia and showed to the country’s leadership that Russia can now assemble ships of that kind,” Rogozin stressed, as quoted by ITAR-TASS. The deputy PM also said that Russia would invite the world’s best specialists to work in the country’s manufacturing.
“In principle, we would be glad to hire French shipbuilders. I’m not joking. We’ll be employing the best specialists from all over the globe now,” Rogozin stated, adding that Ukrainian workers are welcome too, and for them the procedure of getting Russian citizenship would be simplified. Among other developments, the Russian military-industrial complex will replace all the Ukrainian supplies in two-and-a-half years.


‘US hegemony in world has ended’: Russia’s deputy security chief

The deputy head of Russia’s supreme security body says US international dominance is being replaced by multiple centers of power. He urged a global agreement on the results of the Cold War, warning that the world could otherwise become engulfed in chaos.

The United States has an impression that the breakup of the Soviet Union was the only result of the Cold War. This is arguable, and this is possible. But no one has attempted to analyze the results or make any conclusions from the situation. The unipolar world headed by Americans simply appeared,” Evgeny Lukyanov told the RIA Novosti.

However, this status quo was not built to last. New power centers have appeared on the international arena, including the BRICS nations, and Russia itself has managed to regain its stance. Nations openly declare their interests and demand respect to their basic rights. This is how the US hegemony on the international arena has ended and of course Washington officials cannot agree with this,” the Russian official stated.

Lukyanov emphasized in the interview that the USSR was no more.

Russia is a different state, a participant of international processes and we want to have a say, we have national interests which we intend to defend,” he said. “This caused the West to overreact, on the verge of hysteria. But you cannot ignore the ‘Russia factor’ in the world,” the official added.

Lukyanov told reporters that all nations should gather and reach an agreement finalizing the Cold War. He suggested that it is done at a global congress of all major players and said that the only existing organization for such task is the UN and its Security Council.

Otherwise, we will have no rules of the game, no agreements. Violations will happen without concrete obligations, and the world will become less manageable and more chaotic,” he said.

Lukyanov also touched upon the current situation in Ukraine and mentioned that US advisors were actively helping the Kiev regime.

I am talking about intelligence specialists and people from US power structures. Of course, these people do not limit themselves to advice, they are developing a strategic line that the authorities are following strictly in making their decisions,” he noted.

The official also recalled that Russia also used US advisors during the reforms of the early ’90s and said that the results of this cooperation could be a warning to everyone who decides to repeat it.

He also said that it was unlikely that Kiev officials could establish order while using mercenaries from private military companies, such as Greystone Limited. German press has reported earlier that about 400 contractors from US private security firms were taking part in the Ukrainian military operation against anti-government protesters in southeastern regions of the country.


Washington’s Nightmare Comes True: The Russian-Chinese Strategic Partnership Goes Global

The Russian-Chinese strategic partnership (RCSP), indoctrinated in 1996, is Eurasia’s geopolitical anchor in the 21st century, shaping its evolution and entrance into the Multipolar World. No other political relationship between the two continents’ actors even comes close, with the RCSP’s only formidable rival being the US via its privileged military alliances with NATO, the Gulf Kingdoms, and Japan. In this century’s struggle for the supercontinent, the interplay between the RCSP and the US will come to define global politics.

Detractors or Distracters?

Much ado has been made in the Western media about the RCSP, with some highlighting its significance in challenging the Washington Consensus and others brushing it off as nothing more than Moscow’s increasing dependency on Beijing. The views of the former are often trumpeted to scare Americans and justify their government’s aggression against Russia and China, while the latter serves to feed a disinformation campaign meant to split Russia and China apart. Only rarely is the RCSP mentioned as a cautionary warning for the US to moderate its policies, which is the most responsible way to present this development to the Western voter.

The article’s intent is to provocatively argue that the RCSP is already a worldwide reality in the making, the manifestation of Washington’s nightmare, and that it extends beyond Eurasia and even into North Africa and Latin America. It does seek to challenge the Western order, but only to help guide the transition to the Multipolar World, a goal which both countries pledged their solidarity to in 1997. The US’ reluctance in recognizing the tectonic shifts that have occurred in the world since then and its insistence on prolonging the fading unipolar moment are the largest sources of global destabilization today. Despite what the detractors try to achieve by fear mongering and the distracters by divisionary tactics, the RCSP is peaceful, defensive, and more unified than ever. By exploring the confluences of Russian-Chinese policy in key areas of Eurasia and beyond, the article will prove that the RCSP is alive and growing, actively working to steer the world closer to multipolarity.

PART I: Structure

Before moving on into the geopolitical details of the RCSP, one needs to identify its structural underpinnings. These are the roles of Russia and China, the basic fundamentals of their cooperation, and their institutional actions in restructuring the international order.

The Russian Balancer and the Chinese Gateway

There are certain segmented roles that both partners play through their interaction with one another. Russia acts as military and political balancer across Eurasia, providing an alternative (be it to the US or China) to all Great Powers, emerging states, and interested entities. It will be shown how Russia works in close conjunction with China to make sure that this balancing act satisfies the strategic objectives of both, sometimes playing a ‘good cop, bad cop’ dynamic. China, for its part, is on track to surpass the US as the world’s largest economy in terms of PPP this year, and it is the predominant economic power in the developing world. Its deep and privileged ties with developing agriculture and commodity markets in Africa, Latin America, and the String of Pearls states makes it a valuable economic gateway for Russia, especially in light of recent developments. Thus, what Russia can provide China in terms of military and political balancing in key global regions, China can reciprocate with economic opportunities and trade facilitation there via its already established contacts and elite networks.

Of course, the power tandem between Russia and China is far from perfect, as is its strategic application across the world, but this is the general theory of their hand-in-glove approach: Russia is the Balancer and China is the Gateway. The further that one moves from these two, for example, to the Mideast and Latin America, the more they can see the pure multipolar objectives and close coordination between these states; likewise, the closer they get to these two Eurasian cores, the more complex the relationship appears and the more difficult it may be to understand.

The Cradle of Cooperation

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is the cradle in which the RCSP was born and raised. Originally founded as the Shanghai Five in 1996, it was reformed as the SCO in 2001 with the inclusion of Uzbekistan. Since then, it has established observer cooperation with Mongolia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran, as well as dialogue partnerships with Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Belarus. These countries directly fall into the immediate sphere of the RCSP, where either Russia or China can exert some degree or another of important nfluence to varying degrees. Also, the SCO sets out the foundations of the RCSP, listing the fight against “terrorism, separatism, and extremism in all their manifestations” (thus including Color Revolutions) as their foremost foe. It just so happens that the US engages in all of these activities in its Eurasian-wide campaign of chaos and control, thereby placing it at existential odds with Russia and China, as well as the other official members. It should not be forgotten that the SCO regularly holds joint military drills among its members, too.

The BRICS Bastion

In what is the most visible form of the RCSP, the two countries all but cooperate as one force within the BRICS format. In May, Putin stated in regards to China that “We have common priorities both on the global and regional scale…We have agreed to coordinate our foreign policy steps more closely, including within the UN, BRICS and the APEC… We have no disagreements. On the contrary, we have vast plans that we are fully determined to translate into reality.” This groundbreaking declaration of global intent made the indispensible transition to action during the July BRICS Summit in Brazil, during which the five members founded the New Development Bank to directly confront the West’s institutional economic dominance. Important memorandums on multipolar understanding and the creation of a currency reserve pool rounded out the other important outcomes of the event. One can thus see that BRICS has become the institutional bastion of Russian-Chinese coordination all across the world.

Structure Summary

Russia and China have their own distinct roles to play within their power tandem, and they are still refining the interplay between them. The SCO, although being a multilateral framework, essentially functions as a bilateral entity for larger Russian-Chinese cooperation, using Central Asia as a practice ground for future applications elsewhere. Continuing with the institutional cooperation between Russia and China, one can most clearly see this in BRICS, most notably in the latest summit. When analyzed as a unified whole, both countries are combining their individual strengths within the proper institutions in order to pursue the shared goal of multipolarity.



An Isolated Russia? Think Again!

Since March 2014, the Russian “dispatch of troops to Crimea”, and the contested referendum in Crimea followed by its incorporation into the Russian Federation, “The West”* rhetoric is that Russia is isolated, and that the U.S. and its allies will work to further isolate it.

As the war in Eastern Ukraine seems to be perceived mainly through “Crimean lenses”, this Western policy, added to rounds of sanctions, aim at seeing an increasingly isolated Russian Federation bend to a “Western” vision of what the international order should be. The soon ex-General Secretary of Nato Rasmussen’s statement on Estonian TV according to which “Russia is globally isolated due to its actions in Ukraine” is only one example of similar comments made over the last months (ETV Interview: Rasmussen Says Russia is Isolated, 5 September 2014).

The latest round of sanctions, coming into force on 12 September 2014 for the EU (EU; “EU sanctions against Russia over Ukraine crisis“), taken on 12 September for the U.S., when cease-fire and peace negotiations in Eastern Ukraine, supported by Russia, seem to progress, could result from the same logic and abide to the same rhetoric.

Yet, as shown by Kearns and Raynova looking at the voting pattern in the UN General Assembly for the 27 March 2014 adoption of a resolution ‘calling upon states not to recognise changes in the status of the Crimea region’, Russia’s isolation is far from being obvious (“Is Russia really isolated on Ukraine?“, European Leadership Network, 1 April 2014). If Russia was not isolated then, could it be that more than five months later, it is truly becoming increasingly isolated, which would indicate the success of Western policies?

To estimate the alleged Russian isolation, we shall use as proxy indicators the sanctions applied upon Russia on the one hand, and, on the other, the international reactions to the Russian embargo on agricultural and food products. We shall focus the analysis on main players and salient points. Supplementary sources used to draw the concluding map (see below) are listed at the bottom of the post.

The Russian Embargo

The Russian agricultural embargo was taken under a “Presidential Executive Order On Applying Certain Special Economic Measures to Ensure the Security of the Russian Federation”, signed on 6 August 2014. The ban was an answer to the then last batch of Western sanctions over Ukraine and the MH17 tragedy felt as unjust, because Russia had (and, since then, still has) repeatedly denied any direct involvement in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine (Dmitry Medvedev, “Introductory Remarks“, Government Meeting, 7 August 2014), all the more so that no proper investigation could have then proved any Russian responsibility in the MH17 downing.

The preliminary investigation report published by the Dutch Safety Board seven weeks after the MH17 catastrophe, still unable to fully determine causes, only underlines further how early accusations against Russia could have been felt as not only far-fetched (if after seven weeks one cannot determine the culprit, then how could it have been done a few hours after the crash?) but also unjust. The embargo started when Medvedev signed a “Government resolution on enforcing this Executive Order”, i.e. 7 August, should last twelve months and through it “Russia has completely banned the importation of beef, pork, fruits and vegetables, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and the Kingdom of Norway” (Medvedev, Ibid.).

Sanctions and Reactions to Russian Embargo

East Asia

In Eastern Asia, the U.S. tried to enlist support for sanctions from China, Japan, Singapore and South Korea, however without much success, save for Japan (e.g. Zachary Keck, “Why Asia Won’t Sanction Russia for MH17“, The Diplomat, 31 July 2014).  South Korea stated it had no plan to apply sanctions, while Singapore only follows UN sanctions (Kiev Post, 25 July, Keck Ibid.).

As far as Japan is concerned, and despite Russian expressed disappointment with sanctions (taken in April and July), considering the so-far positive outlook of Japan-Russian relationships (e.g. VOA News, 12 February 2014; Ria Novosti, 5 August 2014), Russian News Agency RIA Novosti seems to imply that “behind the scene” diplomacy involving Former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori is taking place: Japan explains its decision regarding sanctions by “having been forced into it”, meanwhile reasserting the importance of relationships with Russia (“Japanese Politician to Convey Prime Minister’s Message to Russian Leadership: Reports“, 8 September 2014). Indeed, as reported in Japan, former Prime Minister Mori met with President Putin, handing him a letter conveying “Abe’s eagerness to prevent bilateral relations from deteriorating further.” (The Japan News, 11 September 2014). Japan, notably, is energy starved and needs to solve territorial issues with Russia over the Kuril islands, which stops both countries to sign any peace treaty ending World War II (e.g. Sudhir Devare, India & Southeast Asia: Towards Security Convergence, ISEAS, Singapore, p.36; Harry Kazianis, “World War II: Not Over For Japan and Russia“, The Diplomat, 30 April 2013).

China relations with Russia continue being excellent and are even reinforced by “the West” sanctions against Russia, as exemplified, among others, by the huge 30 years USD 400 billion gas deal (e.g. Martin, Forbes, 30 May 2014), the Arctic coordination (Valantin, RTAS, 23 june 2014), the launch in July 2014 of the New Development Bank (NDB) by the BRICS as an alternative to the IMF and the World Bank, institutions of the American post-World War II order (e.g. our warning back in March; Pilling, FT, 30 July 2014), the recent military exercises conducted within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation-SCO (e.g. Ria Novosti, 29 August 2014), the launch of Russia’s use of China UnionPay credit card system (RT, 15 August 2014), or deals regarding supply of fruits and vegetables to Russia from China (e.g. The Moscow Times, 11 August 2014).

Meanwhile, in early September, as Russian President Putin visited Mongolia, the Mongolian President stated that he will not take any sanctions against Russia, but, on the contrary, position the country to sell meat to his neighbour, while overall trade should be boosted (Al Jazeera, 3 September 2014).

South Asia

In South Asia, the U.S. intensely courted India, a long-time ally of Russia, with trips by Secretary of State Kerry followed by Secretary of Defense Hagel (among others, Mark Smith, “Russia relations with India and Pakistan“, Russian Series, 4/24, Conflict Studies Research Centre, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, 2004). To try attracting India into an American zone of influence, even suggesting the signature of an India-Japan-U.S. military alliance, which would fundamentally upset the current strategic outlook, Hagel did not hesitate to offer, for example, co-development of anti-tank guided missile, thus even directly competing with their Israeli ally (Ajay Banerjee, “Hagel calls for US, Japan, India alliance“, The Tribune, 10 August 2014; Rajat Pandit, “US takes aim at Israeli antitank missiles in Indian arms market“, Times of India, 10 August 2014).

Yet, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj reasserted the continuity of Indian Foreign Policy, thus refusing to join the sanctions’ round against Russia (Defense news, 3 August 2014; Ria Novosti, 31 July 2014). Considering Indian historical relations with Russia, “our country’s greatest friend” as Indian Prime Minister Modi put it when meeting with Russian President Putin on 16 July, as well as Modi’s will to further “strengthening Russia-India ties” (Indian Ministry of External Affairs, India-Russia relations, 2014; Zeenews, 16 July 2014), India is unlikely to “abandon” Russia. However, the probable visit of President Modi to the U.S. in late September (The Times of India) is to be monitored, including because of possible strategic evolutions regarding China and Japan.

Meanwhile, on 26 August, Pakistan Ambassador to Russia suggested that Pakistan could “supply food products to Russia no inferior in quality to Europe‘s (Interfax Interview, 26 August 2014). Sri Lanka would also plan “larger fish, seafood export to Russia” (Itar-Tass, 13 August 2014).

Central Asia

Most Central Asian countries have mostly good relationships with Russia, exemplified through common memberships to various international organizations, which were not deteriorated by “the West” actions. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are members of the SCO, with China and Russia.

During the recent Dushanbe summit on 11 and 12 September 2014, they signed the so-called Dushanbe Declaration (official text), where, among other major point such as the possible enlargement of the SCO, consensus over commitment for the UN, Syria, Iran or Afghanistan, they “welcome[d] the signed September 4, 2014 Protocol on the basis of the consultations of the Tripartite Liaison Group on joint steps aimed at the implementation of the Peace Plan of the President and the President of the Russia initiatives” (Google translation).

Kazakhstan is also a member of the Eurasian Union (Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus), and accepted that its territory could not be used to see the Russian embargo on agricultural products bypassed, even if it did not itself enforce an embargo (“Lavrov interview“, Itar-Tass, 11 September 2014).

Furthermore, Russia is also a crucial partner for many of those landlocked countries, as reminded, for example, by Tajikistan’s Ambassador to Russia who reasserted that ““Russia is Tajikistan’s strategic partner. We favour close economic cooperation with Russia” when he announced on 15 September the intention to “step up economic cooperation with Russia” notably in the framework of the agricultural embargo (Itar-Tass, 15 September 2014).

Uzbekistan as many other countries saw the opportunity with the Russian embargo to increase their own exports (Russian sanctions on Western food: An opportunity for Uzbekistan, 8 August 2014). Turkmenistan, for its part, seeks to maintain neutral and good relationships with all sides, and thus did not join in to sanction Russia.
Latin America

Despite attempts by the European Union to talk Latin America out of taking advantage of the Russian agricultural embargo (Christian Oliver, Financial Times, 11 August 2014), Latin American countries quasi-unanimously seized this new trade opportunity (Dom Phillips, “How Russian ban on U.S., E.U. food could turn into a windfall for Brazil“, Washington Post, 9 August 2014; “Food Ban Expected To Boost Uruguay Beef Exports To Russia“, Farms UY, 7 August 2014;”Peru ramps up food exports to Russia amid sanctions“, Monitor Global Outlook, 12 August 2014; Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico: Financial Times, 14 August 2014; “Argentina announces food-export deals with Russia“; Fox News Latino, 21 August 2014).

These choices, according to countries, may also be read as political statements, underlining notably the historically built “misunderstanding and distrust [that] have characterized U.S.-Latin American relations (James D. Cochrane, “The Troubled And Misunderstood Relationship:The United States and Latin America“, Latin American Research Review, 28(2): 232). In early September, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, true to Chavismo, went even further, suggesting that the “West’s ‘Attacks’ on Russia Are Attempt to Stifle BRICS” (The Moscow Times, 2 September 2014).

Middle East and North Africa

Turkey rapidly stated its intention to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the Russian embargo, as emphasized by both the head of the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM) and the Economy Minister (Reuters, 8 August 2014; Manolis Kefalogiannis, The Parliament Magazine, 9 September 2014). This move is criticized by the EU, showing that “Ankara is distancing itself from the EU” because “as a candidate country, Turkey should bring its foreign policy into line with that of the EU”, as asked by the 15 August council of foreign ministers (Ibid.). Again, beyond trade pragmatism, we may wonder if here too a political statement is not made, as Turkey has been kept waiting for so long by the EU, on the one hand and is, on the other – and probably relatedly, strongly interested in joining the SCO, to which it received the status of a dialogue partner in 2013 (Stephen Blank, “Turkey and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization: Motives and Consequences“, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 23 April 2014).

Unsurprisingly considering the good relationships between the two countries, Iran also stressed its readiness to export food to Russia (Fars News, 6 September 2014).

The relationship between Egypt and Russia is definitely strengthening, as furthermore both now share the experience of recent alienation by “the West”. When the Egyptian revolution and struggle against the Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood were quite unanimously denounced as a military coup and condemned by “the West” in 2013 (e.g. The Weekly No108 and No107), Russia did not hesitate to reboot ties, notably with the visit of the “Russian defense and foreign ministers in November” 2013. Now, after the state visit of President al-Sisi to Russia in August 2014, not only are military, agricultural and infrastructure contracts signed or about to be, but discussions have started for “the creation of a free trade zone between Egypt and the Russia-led Customs Union, which also includes Belarus and Kazakhstan”  (Al-Arabiya News, 12 August 2014; Ria Novosti, 12 August 2014; Egypt State Information Service, 12 August 2014). 

More recently, on 2 September, the Tunisian Foreign Minister expressed Tunisia’s willingness “to supply many goods that Russia does not receive from Europe now”, among other issues discussed (Itar-Tass, 2 September 2014; Tunisie Afrique Press, “La Russie assiste la Tunisie dans sa guerre contre le terrorisme“, Global Net, 3 September 2014). Morocco also wishes to take advantage of the new opportunity and “a Morocco–Russia summit will take place in mid-September to create a strategy for more comprehensive trade between the two countries.” (Jeune Afrique, 5 September 2014).


Armenia, dependent upon Russian economy, and about to join the Eurasian Union in October 2014, saw an opportunity in the agricultural embargo to increase its exports in Russia (Sara Kojoyan, “Silver Lining?: Armenia keen on increasing agricultural exports amid Russian sanctions against EU“; “Sanctions: Armenia may feel fallout from West’s punishment of Russia“;, 3 & 4 September 2014; RFE/RL, 18 July 2014).

Trying to preserve relationships with the West, as it is a signatory of an Association Agreement with the EU, while also wishing to continue improving the prospects for normalization with Russia, Georgia expressed its will to take advantage of the offered possibility to increase agricultural exports and stated it was not joining in imposing sanctions on Russia (Armenian News, 15 August 2014; Georgy Kalatozishvili, “Georgia waits out the Ukrainian crisis, trying to please everybody“, 29 August 2014). Importantly, Kalatozishvili (Ibid.) also underlines that the West is perceived as weaker than thought, which contributes to explain Georgia’s decisions and its criticism of the sanctions’ path.

Azerbaijan is holding talks with Russia so as to increase its agricultural exports (Aynur Jafarova, “Azerbaijan’s unique chance to increase export of agricultural products to Russia“, 22 August 2014);


Belarus, a member of the Eurasian Union, hopes, logically, to sell more agricultural products to Russia. However, as Kazakhstan, it declined imposing a food ban similar to Russia’s (Volha Charnysh, “Belarus Hopes To Cash In On Russian Sanctions“, Belarus Digest, 19 August 2014).

Although candidate states to the EU were called upon to develop a foreign policy similar to the EU, Serbia refused to take any sanction against Russia (Lauren Gieseke, “Russian Sanctions Pose Particular Strains on Aspiring EU and NATO Candidate States (7/3)“, The European Institute, July 2014), most probably considering its long-standing relationship with Russia. On the contrary, Montenegro, for example, accepted to follow the European Union decisions (Ibid.).

However, this almost total EU unity also hides varying position according to member states. Besides hardliners against Russia, such as Poland and the UK, some states increasingly developed a more measured approach to sanctions, notably Finland, if not plain “opposition … now coming from Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, among others,” or from Hungary (DW, “Resistance grows in EU to new Russia sanctions“, 5 September 2014; BBC news, “Hungary PM Orban condemns EU sanctions on Russia“, 15 August 2014).

Furthermore, it would also seems that within some European states a domestic opposition develops against sanctions, in a more or less generalized way.  For example, in early August, in Bulgaria,  only 10% of the population supported stricter sanctions, whilst 40% thought “that Bulgaria should not participate in sanctions against any country in general, Russia included” (, 7 August 2014). Opposition to sanctions, in general, originates from the left (DW, Ibid.), from the business and corporate sector, as well as from agricultural producers, which will be seriously hit by the Russian embargo.

For example, in Spain, in Aragon on 18 August ( then in Catalonia on 23 August (RT video; Ria Novosti, 23 August 2014), farmers protested against the EU policy over Russia that led to the embargo and even burnt the EU flag. The cost of the retaliatory embargo to the EU will indeed be felt strongly as, according to the AP/AFP, in 2013 “Russia imported $1.3 billion (971 million euros) worth of foodstuffs from the US, an amount that was dwarfed by the EU’s agricultural exports to Russia in 2013, which totaled $15.8 billion.” (Deutsche Welle, “Russia announces ‘full embargo’ on most food from US, EU“). Hence the EU producers of agricultural products are paying the brunt of the West policy. Beyond direct and immediate cost, including bankruptcy for smaller farmers, the negative impact is highly likely to be long-lasting as the new contracts signed over the world will be difficult if not impossible to recapture.

As another indication of discontent related to sanctions, this time from both the political world and larger corporations, we find the little publicized meeting that was held under the aegis of the French non-profit organization Dialogue Franco-Russe, where the President of the Russian Duma and other Russian parliamentarians met French ones and political figures as well as businessmen, including the CEO of Total (energy, oil), the Director for Europe of GDF-Suez (energy) and Serge Dassault (founder of Dassault Systems, from aerospace and defense to energy etc.) – (meeting report, in French, in English). As another exampleGerman businesses have also at time shared their doubts regarding the sanctions’ policy (e.g. Bethan John “One-third of German firms see sanctions hitting Russian business“, Reuters, 9 September).

Russia is not isolated

The resulting map was obtained with the following conventions: a scale from -4 to -1 for those countries applying sanctions, from the “hard-liners” to mildest sanctions; 0 given to countries having not applied sanctions or having refused to do so; a scale from 1 to 4 for countries taking advantage of the agricultural embargo, according to the strength of their relationship to Russia (the white colour means no data).

isolated Russia, sanctions, embargo, West, U.S. EU, Nato, BRICS

As visually represented on the map, it is obvious from the analysis that Russia is far from being isolated, on the contrary. As a result, it would seem that the West policies are less successful than the rhetoric implies. We have obviously truly entered into an era of multipolarity, where the wishes of a single superpower are not systematically followed anymore. We would thus be witnessing the end of American hegemony, only still holding, and imperfectly so, in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Furthermore, the discrepancy between declarations and reality may also fuel change by promoting misunderstanding, leading to feeling of aggression and injustice, breeding in turn heightened tensions and accelerated actions to protect oneself. The cost of believing wrongly that there is or could be an isolated Russia may be huge, not only in economic terms – as born principally by Europe and European companies and producers – but also in terms of international influence and power and thus ability to achieve one’s vision and aims, including  ensuring the security of one’s citizens at best.

As so many other threats, from the impact of climate change to the spread of Ebola without forgetting the expansionist and warring aims of the Islamic State would demand cooperation rather than avoidable tense and escalating divisions, it may be high time for “the West” to take stock of reality and devise new policies.


*”The West” here is a shorthand that refers to the U.S., Canada, Australia,  New Zealand and the U.K. (the Five Eyes, an intelligence alliance), the EU and member states – the UK is, still, of course also part of the EU – Switzerland and Norway. New Zealand and Switzerland, however, have taken less strident positions against Russia (see sources below). We could – and should – however discuss why Russia is not seen as both a European, thus Western, and Asian country, when so many elements concur to show it is: geographically (until the Ural mountains at least), historically, culturally (considering the incredible Russian contribution to European culture, from music with Tchaikovsky (listen to a Best of – Youtube), Rimski-Korsakov (extract from Scheherazade), Rachmaninov (Best Of) or Prokoviev (Best of) to name only a few composers, to ballet dancing with Diaghilev and Nijinsky (e.g. Twenty Years that Changed the World of Art – visit Harvard exhibition) to painting with Kandinsky or Chagall for example, or literature, with Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky among many others), and geopolitically (from Russia’s role in defeating Napoleon, to the 1907 Triple Entente between Britain, France and Russia (e.g. Conybear and Sandler, “The Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance 1880-1914…“, American Political Science Review, 84(4), 1990) to the Soviet Union costly and crucial fight against the Axis during WWII to take only recent examples.

Putin's Approval Rating Soars to 87%, Poll Says

President Vladimir Putin's approval rating has reached a record high of 87 percent, according to the results of a survey published Wednesday by the independent Levada Center pollster. In May, Putin enjoyed an approval rating of 83 percent, its highest since 2008, according to major U.S. pollster Gallup. Putin's popularity at home has skyrocketed against a backdrop of increased diplomatic isolation connected with the crisis in Ukraine, where the West claims that the Kremlin's aggressive policies continue to destabilize the nation and inflict casualties.His latest popularity boost comes on the heels of yet another round of EU and U.S. sanctions against Russian officials. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's approval rating sits at 71 percent, the Levada poll revealed. Sixty-six percent of respondents also said they believe Russia is "moving in the right direction." The poll was conducted from Aug. 1 to 4, among 1,600 adults across 134 Russian cities.


Economist: Win some, lose more

For all the celebrations in Kiev over ratifying the trade deal with Europe, it is the Russians who got most of what they wanted

Historians will struggle to put dates on Russia’s murky war against Ukraine. It had no official start and no formal end. Russia never admitted that it was in the conflict, which it fanned and fought both directly and through proxies, so has not celebrated victory as it did after the annexation of Crimea. Ukraine never formally declared itself under attack, so it cannot formally admit its defeat. But that does not make defeat any less real. After six months of fighting, Ukraine has lost at least 3,000 men and control over a swathe of territory in the east, as well as being forced by Russia to delay the full implementation of its association agreement with the European Union.

Ukraine’s setback was masked by the fanfare of the simultaneous ratification of the agreement by the Ukrainian Rada and the European Parliament on September 16th (see Charlemagne). Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, called it an historic moment and led a chorus of MPs in the national anthem: “Ukraine is not dead yet”. After all, it was the decision by the former president, Viktor Yanukovych, to reject an earlier version of the deal a year ago that sparked the Maidan revolution.

Yet the agreement will not fully come into force at least until the end of 2015. The pause is meant to give Ukraine, Russia and the EU time to find a compromise. (During it, Ukraine will be able to export to Europe duty-free while European goods will still be taxed on their way into Ukraine.) This is precisely what Russia asked for before the start of the Ukrainian crisis, only to be told to keep out. Many Ukraine-watchers are worried that the association agreement could yet be further hollowed out.

That is why European officials were in despair when news of the delay emerged from the three-way talks between Ukraine, Russia and European Union. “It is Munich 1938,” one said. Yet Ukraine did not have much choice. Russia threatened the renewal of military action and a complete economic blockade if Ukraine did not postpone implementation. To make itself clear, Moscow is to increase its military presence in Crimea and introduce tariffs for Ukrainian exports to Russia that will be deferred so long as Ukraine does not implement the agreement with Europe. It is not just Ukraine’s free trade with Europe that is at stake, but its ability to reform and to make its own decisions about the future.

Ukrainian politicians have pledged to reform their economy despite the deferral of the EU agreement, but if the past 23 years are anything to go by the chances of their doing it are slim. Arseniy Yatseniuk, the prime minister, blames the war for lack of reform in the past few months, but it is unclear why the government could not have begun to remove wasteful energy subsidies, deregulate the economy or curb corruption. Even during the war, some in Ukraine’s defence ministry used intermediaries to charge money for hardware and guns being supplied to volunteers on their own side, according to Zerkalo Nedeli, a weekly. Private firms whose employees enlisted for military duty bought flak jackets from Ukrainian suppliers that turned out to be fakes.

On the same day the Rada ratified the association agreement, it passed a law granting special status to the part of the Donbas controlled by Russian-backed separatists, including the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk. The law gives these territories broad autonomy for three years, guarantees Russian-language rights and self-governance, and allows them to establish deeper ties with Russia—although it does not give the region a say in foreign or defence policy. Another law offers an amnesty to rebel fighters. Mr Poroshenko’s aides say this was the only way to save lives, but it poses uncomfortable questions. “What did our boys die for? Why did we not hold peace talks back in May?” asked Sergei Taruta, the Kiev-appointed governor of the Donetsk region.

Unlike the association agreement, the vote on special status was held in secret, with journalists barred and voting rolls concealed to avoid accusations of treachery. Even Mr Poroshenko’s supporters recoiled. As Mustafa Nayem, a journalist- turned-candidate from Mr Poroshenko’s bloc, says: “To pass such important laws without an open discussion, without any explanation to society, is barbaric.” Special status may establish a frozen conflict with no clear borders, a perfect environment for contraband and banditry.

Ukraine clearly cannot win a fight against Russia. But Mr Putin also faces limits. The Russian public does not support full-scale war with Ukraine. The killing of its own soldiers, who were not even meant to be involved, has been uncomfortable for the Kremlin. And for all Moscow’s bravado, Western sanctions have pushed Russia’s economy closer to recession. Alexei Kudrin, Russia’s former finance minister, talks of a 5% contraction in GDP if more sanctions are imposed. Russia has already tapped its rainy-day fund. The strain is being seen in infighting among Mr Putin’s entourage (see article).

Both Mr Putin and Mr Poroshenko have reasons to want a truce: Mr Putin to avoid more sanctions and questions from relatives of dead soldiers, and Mr Poroshenko ahead of a parliamentary election on October 26th. But this does not mean the end of Ukraine’s troubles and Russia’s adventurism. The Kremlin’s goal is not just to control two cities in eastern Ukraine, but to stop all of Ukraine from moving westward. Further violence in the east is possible as rebels try to capture more territory.

The biggest danger, however, is that the fragile truce will be followed by the usual political wrangling in Kiev and renewed Ukraine fatigue in the West. The only way Ukraine can realise its European aspirations is over many years, by building an economically and politically coherent state. That will take patience, money and time from the West and perseverance from Ukraine. But not to try would mean the ultimate defeat and betrayal of those who died for Ukraine’s sovereignty.


Top Russia Expert: Ukraine Joining Nato Would Provoke Nuclear War

Stephen Cohen is one of America’s top experts on Russia.  Cohen is professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University, and the author of a number of books on Russia and the Soviet Union. Cohen says that the West is mainly to blame for the crisis in Ukraine:
This is a horrific, tragic, completely unnecessary war in eastern Ukraine. In my own judgment, we have contributed mightily to this tragedy. I would say that historians one day will look back and say that America has blood on its hands. Three thousand people have died, most of them civilians who couldn’t move quickly. That’s women with small children, older women. A million refugees.
Cohen joins other American experts on Russia – such as Former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Jack Matlock – in this assessment.vCohen also says that if Ukraine joins NATO, it will lead to nuclear war:
[Interviewer:] The possibility of Ukraine in NATO and what that means and what—

STEPHEN COHEN: Nuclear war.

[Interviewer:] Explain.

STEPHEN COHEN: Next question. I mean, it’s clear. It’s clear. First of all, by NATO’s own rules, Ukraine cannot join NATO, a country that does not control its own territory. In this case, Kiev controls less and less by the day. It’s lost Crimea. It’s losing the Donbas—I just described why—to the war. A country that does not control its own territory cannot join Ukraine [sic]. Those are the rules.

[Interviewer:] Cannot join—

STEPHEN COHEN: I mean, NATO. Secondly, you have to meet certain economic, political and military criteria to join NATO. Ukraine meets none of them. Thirdly, and most importantly, Ukraine is linked to Russia not only in terms of being Russia’s essential security zone, but it’s linked conjugally, so to speak, intermarriage. There are millions, if not tens of millions, of Russian and Ukrainians married together. Put it in NATO, and you’re going to put a barricade through millions of families. Russia will react militarily.

In fact, Russia is already reacting militarily, because look what they’re doing in Wales today. They’re going to create a so-called rapid deployment force of 4,000 fighters. What is 4,000 fighters? Fifteen thousand or less rebels in Ukraine are crushing a 50,000-member Ukrainian army. Four thousand against a million-man Russian army, it’s nonsense. The real reason for creating the so-called rapid deployment force is they say it needs infrastructure. And the infrastructure—that is, in plain language is military bases—need to be on Russia’s borders. And they’ve said where they’re going to put them: in the Baltic republic, Poland and Romania.

Now, why is this important? Because NATO has expanded for 20 years, but it’s been primarily a political expansion, bringing these countries of eastern Europe into our sphere of political influence; now it’s becoming a military expansion. So, within a short period of time, we will have a new—well, we have a new Cold War, but here’s the difference. The last Cold War, the military confrontation was in Berlin, far from Russia. Now it will be, if they go ahead with this NATO decision, right plunk on Russia’s borders. Russia will then leave the historic nuclear agreement that Reagan and Gorbachev signed in 1987 to abolish short-range nuclear missiles. It was the first time nuclear—a category of nuclear weapons had ever been abolished. Where are, by the way, the nuclear abolitionists today? Where is the grassroots movement, you know, FREEZE, SANE? Where have these people gone to? Because we’re looking at a new nuclear arms race. Russia moves these intermediate missiles now to protect its own borders, as the West comes toward Russia. And the tripwire for using these weapons is enormous.

One other thing. Russia has about, I think, 10,000 tactical nuclear weapons, sometimes called battlefield nuclear weapons. You use these for short distances. They can be fired; you don’t need an airplane or a missile to fly them. They can be fired from artillery. But they’re nuclear. They’re radioactive. They’ve never been used. Russia has about 10,000. We have about 500. Russia’s military doctrine clearly says that if Russia is threatened by overwhelming conventional forces, we will use tactical nuclear weapons. So when Obama boasts, as he has on two occasions, that our conventional weapons are vastly superior to Russia, he’s feeding into this argument by the Russian hawks that we have to get our tactical nuclear weapons ready.
Former Polish president – and famed anti-communist activist – Lech Walesa agrees that the U.S. and Nato’s arming of Ukraine could lead to a nuclear war. Cohen also notes that the West has entered into an agreement to cover-up what happened to Malaysian airlines flight 17, because Russia was not responsible.

Europe Folds To Russian Demands, Delays Ukraine Free Trade Deal By Over A Year

While the world was poring through the details of the latest round of preannounced western sanctions against Russia - a round which Russia commented would have virtually no actual impact - and just as excitedly awaiting the Kremlin's retaliation which Putin warned is coming shortly, far from the glare of the center stage Europe quietly folded to a bigger Russian demand namely to delay the implementation of a Ukraine free trade deal by more than one year until the end of 2015 and likely beyond.

As AFP reported, EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht said, after talks with Russian and Ukrainian ministers, that the free trade agreement which Ukraine and its imploding economy had hoped would be implemented in the immediate future, will instead be delayed. Perhaps the date of the provisional launch has something to do with it: EU sources said the trade deal was to have taken effect on November 14, i.e. in the middle of Europe's cold, snowy, GDP-sapping winter. The European Council of 28 members states must now sign off on the delay.

De Gucht said that once Kiev ratifies the EU Association Accord, expected next week and which was negotiated at the same time as the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, then Brussels would offer "additional flexibility" in the hope of meeting Russian concerns that its economy would suffer if the DCFTA deal went ahead.

This would be done as part of efforts to "fully support the stabilisation of Ukraine," he said after talks with Ukraine Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin and Russian Economy Minister Alexi Ulyukayev. "Such flexibilty will consist in the delay until 31 December 2015 of the provisional application of the DCFTA," he said.
Additional flexibility? That sounds very close to what Obama promised Putin's right hand guy, Dmitry Medvedev, nearly three years ago.

Sometimes glitches in the matrix such as this one make one wonder just how much of what is going on right now between the "west" and Russia has been long pre-agreed and pre-approved by the "feuding" sides, and what is really going on behind the scenes. But back to what the data available for popular consumption: in effect while Russia and the West are engaging in populism-happy trade and capital flow wars what is taking place at a higher level is far more nuanced, and it is here that a far more pragmatic EU is certainly concerned about pushing Russia too far.

The reason why Moscow is against the Ukraine free trade agreement is because Russia sees it as bolstering Kiev and potentially harming its own economy by allowing an influx of cheaper/better EU goods into the country, an important Russian market. Equally damaging, Moscow said these goods could then be sold on into Russia itself, damaging domestic industry.

Of course, with Europe launch sanction after meaningless sanction, in a world that is all about leverage and optics, the last thing the EU could afford is to be perceived as folding to the Kremlin in a matter which could really hurt the Russian economy. So instead DeGucht presented the delay as win-win for all sides, saying the preferential tariffs addressed "the very difficult economic situation in Ukraine" while the delay in implementing the deal leaves "15 months for either party to make remarks, proposals."

One can just imagine the remarks and proposals that Putin would have uttered had Europe not delayed the agreement.

What's more interesting, Russia may just win another major round in the political war that is taking place just behind the surface: the preferential tariffs announced in March and due to expire in October offered Ukraine significant reductions in customs duties worth about 500 million euros per year, the commission said. Still, had the free trade deal passed today, it would have allowed the economically devastated Ukraine, whose economy is rapidly imploding, to boost its exports to Europe by one billion euros per year, according to the commission.

In June, the EU and Ukraine signed the long-delayed Association Agreement, the very deal whose 11th-hour refusal last year by then president Viktor Yanukovich plunged the former Soviet country into chaos. It sparked a wave of pro-European protests that eventually toppled the Kremlin-backed Yanukovich in February and ushered in a pro-Western government that deeply angered Moscow. What goes unsaid is that the signed agreement was merely yet another optical pseudo intervention: in reality is provided nothing to Ukraine but simply sent signals to the global community that the "west" had the upper hand when it comes down to Kiev realpolitik.

If only for now.

But once the Ukraine people have been forced to go through a full winter with no benefit from the Russian bear, it remains to be seen just how enthusiastic they will be about the ongoing western-backed (and funded, and orchestrated) revolution. As for Europe's true "leverage" vis-a-vis Russia, the following quote from AFP encapsulates it best:

"If you want to solve a conflict, you have to be flexible," a European source said when asked about the delay in the trade deal.
And speaking of memorable quotes, one my want to timestamp these:

In Kiev, Poroshenko thanked the EU for the new sanctions. "A friend in need is a friend indeed," Poroshenko said.
"I feel a full part of the European Union family," he added.
Let's all check back on how Ukraine, and whoever is its president then, feels about being part of the European Union "family" in a year. Or less. 

Source: Europe Folds To Russian Demands, Delays Ukraine Free Trade Deal By Over A Year | Zero Hedge