Monday, September 19
To push through his Iran Deal, Obama gave full run to neocons. Now he wants to fight them?
"After my election I will have more flexibility"
Over at The Independent Patrick Cockburn makes a good point in his report, The US and Russia have less influence in Syria than they think:
Other peculiarities dog the present agreement. It is directed against al-Nusra and asks for the “moderate” armed opposition to separate themselves from the jihadis. It has always been centrepiece of Western policy in Syria that there is such a powerful group of armed moderates – despite much evidence to the contrary.
If they did exist in any force then this agreement would be much in their interests and they – like the Syrian Kurds, Iraqi Kurds and Iraqi Army – would find their firepower vastly increased by the help of the US Air Force.
But if the moderates so-called are largely a myth, and the armed opposition is overwhelmingly dominated by Isis and al-Nusra, then the latter have every incentive to make sure that this ceasefire fails.Yes, but the American and Russia governments are well aware of the situation Cockburn describes. I think what Obama and Putin want is to drag the ceasefire deal just to the point where they can launch joint airstrike campaigns against Nusra and Islamic State.
In that case the sturm und drang from the Russians about the U.S. "refusal" to separate the moderates from the hardliners in Syria is just so much theater; in any event the Russians know it's virtually impossible to do this, despite it being one of the terms of the ceasefire agreement.
However, the big obstacle to a joint campaign isn't coming from inside Syria or even from governments, such as Al Saud, supporting various fighter groups in the country. The obstacle is right here in Washington, DC. As Cockburn notes:
Not only is the present [U.S.] administration the lamest of ducks during this period, but it is more or less openly divided on the merits of a deal with Russia.The only thing wrong with the statement is that it's no longer "more or less." It's a boxing match between a lame-duck president and the Pentagon. The latter does not want cooperation, coordination or rapprochement of any kind between Washington and Moscow on any issue. They want a shooting war with Russia, and can count on powerful actors in Europe and the U.S. Congress to escalate tensions that would forge a clear path to war.
So it's a little late for Monday-morning quarterbacking. For what it's worth: to accomplish the impossible of ramming through his Iran deal, President Obama made a decision to throw as much red meat as he could at the 'Get Russia' crowd in the USA and NATO. He did this by stacking the Pentagon and State Department with necons and their variants and letting their lobbyists run wild.
But whether they're called necons, neoliberal expansionists or Liberal interventionists, these people will not sit back on their haunches now that Obama says Heel. He as much promised them a war with Russia and they want their war. To heck with the Syrian debacle and war with Russia messing up his legacy.
That's where things stand at present. As to what all this means for the famous Syrian ceasefire deal --
[glancing at her watch]. We could know by the end of today whether Obama plans to grandly ignore the large number of ceasefire violations by all concerned in Syria and the gridlocked humanitarian aid delivery trucks, and go ahead with the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the joint airstrike campaign headquarters in Jordan.