the march to war

Beating the drums for war with Russia
Bill Van Auken, WSWS, Oct 6 2016

On Sep 30, WSWS warned:

It is evident that the question of whether an escalation of the Pindo intervention in Syria can wait until after the election of Nov 8 has become the subject of heated debate within the ruling establishment.

It has taken barely a week for this assessment to find decisive confirmation. It has been fully established that the Obama administration is holding precisely such a debate. On Wednesday, the so-called Principals’ Committee, consisting of the Sec Def, Sec State, JCoS & DCI as well as top presidential security aides, convened at the White House to consider proposals to attack Syrian government forces with cruise missiles as well as other acts of military aggression. Both the DCI and the JCoS are reportedly in favor of such an escalation, which carries with it the real prospect of a direct armed confrontation between the Pindostan and Russia, the world’s two largest nuclear powers. Reflecting the growing support within sections of the Pindo establishment for a far wider war, key sections of the media, including the NYT, the WSJ and the WaPo, have weighed in on the side of those within the military and intelligence apparatus advocating a new eruption of Pindo militarism. Among the most explicit examples is an opinion column by ‘Walnuts’ McCain, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, published in Wednesday’s WSJ. ‘Walnuts’ indicts Syria and Russia for having “slaughtered countless civilians” through “relentless, indiscriminate bombing.” This is being written by an individual who was one of the most enthusiastic proponents of the “shock and awe” war in Iraq that cost over 1,000,000 Iraqi lives. ‘Walnuts’ writes:

Pindostan and its vassals must issue an ultimatum to Assad – stop flying or lose your aircraft – and be prepared to follow through. If Russia continues its indiscriminate bombing, we should make clear that we will take steps to hold its aircraft at greater risk.

‘Walnuts’ also calls for the creation of “safe zones” for Syrian civilians protected by the Pindo military and “more robust military assistance” to the so-called “rebels.” He acknowledges that this strategy “will undoubtedly entail greater costs” but provides no specific indication as to the nature of these costs or who will pay them. ‘Walnuts’ does not even hint at the catastrophic global implications of a military confrontation between Washington and Moscow. In an editorial Wednesday, the WaPo asserts that Washington’s policy has failed in Syria because Pindostan has “refused to use military pressure against Assad.” The newspaper complains that the Obama administration’s failure to carry out a more direct military intervention in Syria has resulted in “the shrinking of Pindo influence, to Russia’s gain,” and approvingly cites CIA and Pentagon proposals for cruise missile attacks and the provision of more sophisticated weaponry to the “rebels.” Finally, the NYT published a front-page lead article Wednesday warning that Russia was using the period between now and the Jan 2017 inauguration of the next POTUS as a “window of opportunity” to “move aggressively” in providing military support for the Syrian government. The article favorably reports proposals for Pindo air strikes and goes on to cite unnamed Pindo boxtops as arguing that Washington could turn Syria into a “quagmire” for Russia:

particularly if the Arab states that support the rebels supply them with anti-aircraft weapons and Islamic terrorists decide to retaliate by attacking Russian cities.

This passage echoes an earlier warning from Adm (retd) Kirby that the response of Islamist forces to Russia’s military actions in Syria could “include attacks against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities.” The implications are unmistakable. Washington exerts overwhelming operational influence over the Islamist militias that have constituted the principal fighting force in the five-year-old, CIA-orchestrated war for regime change in Syria. Just as it directed them to attack the government in Damascus, it could order them to do the same in Moscow. The article is supplemented by an opinion piece by NYT foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman, who writes in his signature bully boy style:

Isn’t it time we give Putin a dose of his own medicine?

While acknowledging that a military confrontation with Russia poses the direct threat of nuclear war, he declares, “But we also cannot just keep turning the other cheek” in regard to “Putin’s behavior in Syria and Ukraine.” He denounces Russia for “mercilessly bombing civilians in Aleppo” and twice charges Putin with violating “basic civilized norms.” Even from a columnist who has established the gold standard for cynicism and deceit, Friedman’s invocation of “basic civilized norms” leaves one somewhat slack-jawed. There is not a single war of aggression launched by Pindso imperialism for which he has failed to serve as a fanatical cheerleader. The same man who today laments the Russian bombing of east Aleppo in 1999 wrote in response to the US bombing of Serbia:

It should be lights out in Belgrade: every power grid, water pipe, bridge, road and war-related factory has to be targeted … we will set your country back by pulverizing you.

Less than four years later he played the same role in relation to Iraq, declaring before the 2003 invasion that he had no problem with “a war for oil” and writing afterwards that Pindostan had attacked Iraq “for one simple reason: because we could.” Such are the civilized norms observed by the man from the NYT. Underlying the frenzied support for military escalation in Syria is the fact that the various terrorist organizations Washington has used as its proxy forces, including those directly affiliated to AQ, are on the verge of a complete debacle in Aleppo. Such an outcome would represent a serious reversal for the policy pursued by Pindo imperialism for the last quarter century, in the wake of the Moscow Stalinist bureaucracy’s dissolution of the Soviet Union. Washington saw this development as opening an unobstructed path to its pursuit of global hegemony. It adopted the policy of exploiting its military supremacy as a means of offsetting the decline in its global economic position.

The element of hysteria in response to Moscow’s actions in Syria stems from the fact that both Russia and China are beginning to frustrate this policy. The media’s lurid claims of Russian aggression notwithstanding, there is no question that in Syria, as in Ukraine and the South China Sea, it is Pindo imperialism that is the aggressor, provoking defensive reactions from both Russia and China. That, however, does not impart any progressive content to the policies being pursued by the Russian government. If Putin could get a deal with Washington that preserved the interests of both his government and those of Pindo imperialism, he would sign it in a minute. Unable to do so, and in the face of growing economic crisis and signs of social unrest at home, Putin has resorted to the promotion of Russian nationalism and an increasing reliance on the residual military power he inherited from the Soviet Union. In the past few days, the Russian government has ordered the deployment of additional surface-to-air missile batteries to Syria and suspended an agreement with Washington for the destruction of weapons-grade plutonium. At the same time, pro-government Russian newspapers have warned of the threat a third world war and the government has launched a major civil defense exercise in preparation for just such an eventuality. A policy of national defense by a regime that represents the interests of Russia’s capitalist oligarchy can only fuel the drive to world war. The masses of Russian working people confront the ultimate consequence of the Stalinist liquidation of the USSR in the form of a growing threat of nuclear holocaust. The only force that can prevent a new world war is the international working class, organized independently and mobilized in a struggle against capitalism, the source of war. This requires the building of an international socialist leadership, and there is no time to lose. We urge all of our readers to attend our Nov 5 conference in Detroit, “Socialism vs Capitalism & War.”

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