The US Outspends Russia 10X On Military, But They Are Equals. Why?

Source

Dmitry Orlov

Another brilliant essay from Orlov in which he addresses the incredible bumbling incompetence of the US in contrast to Russia’s intelligent competence – Orlov is spot on.
A whiff of World War III hangs in the air. In the US, Cold War 2.0 is on, and the anti-Russian rhetoric emanating from the Clinton campaign, echoed by the mass media, hearkens back to McCarthyism and the red scare. In response, many people are starting to think that Armageddon might be nigh—an all-out nuclear exchange, followed by nuclear winter and human extinction. It seems that many people in the US like to think that way. Goodness gracious!
The curtain is falling on a country in serious trouble

But, you know, this is hardly unreasonable of them. The US is spiraling down into financial, economic and political collapse, losing its standing in the world and turning into a continent-sized ghetto full of drug abuse, violence and decaying infrastructure, its population vice-ridden, poisoned with genetically modified food, morbidly obese, exploited by predatory police departments and city halls, plus a wide assortment of rackets, from medicine to education to real estate… That we know.We also know how painful it is to realize that the US is damaged beyond repair, or to acquiesce to the fact that most of the damage is self-inflicted: the endless, useless wars, the limitless corruption of money politics, the toxic culture and gender wars, and the imperial hubris and willful ignorance that underlies it all… This level of disconnect between the expected and the observed certainly hurts, but the pain can be avoided, for a time, through mass delusion.This sort of downward spiral does not automatically spell “Apocalypse,” but the specifics of the state cult of the US—an old-time religiosity overlaid with the secular religion of progress—are such that there can be no other options: either we are on our way up to build colonies on Mars, or we perish in a ball of flame. Since the humiliation of having to ask the Russians for permission to fly the Soyuz to the International Space Station makes the prospect of American space colonies seem dubious, it’s Plan B: balls of flame here we come!And so, most of the recent American warmongering toward Russia can be explained by the desire to find anyone but oneself to blame for one’s unfolding demise. This is a well-understood psychological move—projecting the shadow—where one takes everything one hates but can’t admit to about oneself and projects it onto another. On a subconscious level (and, in the case of some very stupid people, even a conscious one) the Americans would like to nuke Russia until it glows, but can’t do so because Russia would nuke them right back. But the Americans can project that same desire onto Russia, and since they have to believe that they are good while Russia is evil, this makes the Armageddon scenario appear much more likely.

But this way of thinking involves a break with reality. There is exactly one nation in the world that nukes other countries, and that would be the United States. It gratuitously nuked Japan, which was ready to surrender anyway, just because it could. It prepared to nuke Russia at the start of the Cold War, but was prevented from doing so by a lack of a sufficiently large number of nuclear bombs at the time. And it attempted to render Russia defenseless against nuclear attack, abandoning the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, but has been prevented from doing so by Russia’s new weapons. These include, among others, long-range supersonic cruise missiles (Kalibr), and suborbital intercontinental missiles carrying multiple nuclear payloads capable of evasive maneuvers as they approach their targets (Sarmat). All of these new weapons are impossible to intercept using any conceivable defensive technology. At the same time, Russia has also developed its own defensive capabilities, and its latest S-500 system will effectively seal off Russia’s airspace, being able to intercept targets both close to the ground and in low Earth orbit.

In the meantime, the US has squandered a fantastic sum of money fattening up its notoriously corrupt defense establishment with various versions of “Star Wars,” but none of that money has been particularly well spent. The two installations in Europe of Aegis Ashore (completed in Romania, planned in Poland) won’t help against Kalibr missiles launched from submarines or small ships in the Pacific or the Atlantic, close to US shores, or against intercontinental missiles that can fly around them. The THAAD installation currently going into South Korea (which the locals are currently protesting by shaving their heads) won’t change the picture either.

There is exactly one nuclear aggressor nation on the planet, and it isn’t Russia. But this shouldn’t matter. In spite of American efforts to undermine it, the logic of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) remains in effect. The probability of a nuclear exchange is determined not by anyone’s policy but by the likelihood of it happening by accident. Since there is no winning strategy in a nuclear war, nobody has any reason to try to start one. Under no circumstances is the US ever going to be able to dictate its terms to Russia by threatening it with nuclear annihilation.

If a nuclear war is not in the cards, how about a conventional one? The US has been sabre-rattling by stationing troops and holding drills in the Baltics, right on Russia’s western border, installing ABM systems in Romania, Poland and South Korea, supporting anti-Russian Ukrainian Nazis, etc. All of this seems quite provocative; can it result in a war? And what would that war look like?

Here, we have to look at how Russia has responded to previous provocations. These are all the facts that we know, and can use to predict what will happen, as opposed to purely fictional, conjectural statements unrelated to known facts.

When the US or its proxies attack an enclave of Russian citizens outside of Russia’s borders, here are the types of responses that we have been able to observe so far:

1. The example of Georgia. During the Summer Olympics in Beijing (a traditional time of peace), the Georgian military, armed and trained by the US and Israel, invaded South Ossetia. This region was part of Georgia in name only, being mostly inhabited by Russian speakers and passport-holders. Georgian troops started shelling its capital, Tskhinval, killing some Russian peacekeeping troops stationed in the region and causing civilian casualties. In response, Russian troops rolled into Georgia, within hours completely eliminating Georgia’s war-making capability. They announced that South Ossetia was de facto no longer part of Georgia, throwing in Abkhazia (another disputed Russian enclave) for good measure, and withdrew. Georgia’s warmongering president Saakashvili was pronounced a “political corpse” and left to molder in place. Eventually he was forced to flee Georgia, where he has been declared a fugitive from justice. The US State Department recently gave him a new job, as Governor of Odessa in the Ukraine. Recently, Russian-Georgian relations have been on the mend.

2. The example of Crimea. During the Winter Olympics in Sochi, in Russia (a traditional time of peace) there occurred an illegal, violent overthrow of the elected, constitutional government of the Ukraine, followed by the installation of a US-picked puppet administration. In response, the overwhelmingly Russian population of the autonomous region of Crimea held a referendum. Some 95% of them voted to secede from the Ukraine and to once again become part of Russia, which they had been for centuries and until very recently. The Russians then used their troops already stationed in the region under an international agreement to make sure that the results of the referendum were duly enacted. Not a single shot was fired during this perfectly peaceful exercise in direct democracy.

3. The example of Crimea again. During the Summer Olympics in Rio (a traditional time of peace) a number of Ukrainian operatives stormed the Crimean border and were swiftly apprehended by Russia’s Federal Security Service, together with a cache of weapons and explosives. A number of them were killed in the process, along with two Russians. The survivors immediately confessed to planning to organize terrorist attacks at the ferry terminal that links Crimea with the Russian mainland and a railway station. The ringleader of the group confessed to being promised the princely sum of $140 for carrying out these attacks. All of them are very much looking forward to a warm, dry bunk and three square meals of day, care of the Russian government, which must seem like a slice of heaven compared to the violence, chaos, destitution and desolation that characterizes life in present-day Ukraine. In response, the government in Kiev protested against “Russian provocation,” and put its troops on alert to prepare against “Russian invasion.” Perhaps the next shipment of US aid to the Ukraine should include a supply of chlorpromazine or some other high-potency antipsychotic medication.

Note the constant refrain of “during the Olympics.” This is not a coincidence but is indicative of a certain American modus operandi. Yes, waging war during a traditional time of peace is both cynical and stupid. But the American motto seems to be “If we try something repeatedly and it still doesn’t work, then we just aren’t trying hard enough.” In the minds of those who plan these events, the reason they never work right can’t possibly have anything to do with it being stupid. This is known as “Level III Stupid”: stupidity so profound that it is unable to comprehend its own stupidity.

4. The example of Donbass. After the events described in point 2 above, this populous, industrialized region, which was part of Russia until well into the 20th century and is linguistically and culturally Russian, went into political turmoil, because most of the locals wanted nothing to do with the government that had been installed in Kiev, which they saw as illegitimate. The Kiev government proceeded to make things worse, first by enacting laws infringing on the rights of Russian-speakers, then by actually attacking the region with the army, which they continue to do to this day, with three unsuccessful invasions and continuous shelling of both residential and industrial areas, in the course of which over ten thousand civilians have been murdered and many more wounded. In response, Russia assisted with establishing a local resistance movement supported by a capable military contingent formed of local volunteers. This was done by Russian volunteers, acting in an unofficial capacity, and by Russian private citizens donating money to the cause. In spite of Western hysteria over “Russian invasion” and “Russian aggression,” no evidence of it exists. Instead, the Russian government has done just three things: it refused to interfere with the work of its citizens coming to the aid of Donbass; it pursued a diplomatic strategy for resolving the conflict; and it has provided numerous convoys of humanitarian aid to the residents of Donbass. Russia’s diplomatic initiative resulted in two international agreements—Minsk I and Minsk II—which compelled both Kiev and Donbass to pursue a strategy of political resolution of the conflict through cessation of hostilities and the granting to Donbass of full autonomy. Kiev has steadfastly refused to fulfill its obligations under these agreements. The conflict is now frozen, but continuing to bleed because of Ukrainian shelling, waiting for the Ukrainian puppet government to collapse.

To complete the picture, let us include Russia’s recent military action in Syria, where it came to the defense of the embattled Syrian government and quickly demolished a large part of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh/Islamic Caliphate, along with various other terrorist organizations active in the region. The rationale for this action is that Russia saw a foreign-funded terrorist nest in Syria as a direct threat to Russia’s security. Two other notable facts here are that Russia acted in accordance with international law, having been invited by Syria’s legitimate, internationally recognized government and that the military action was scaled back as soon as it seemed possible for all of the legitimate (non-terrorist) parties to the conflict to return to the negotiating table. These three elements—using military force as a reactive security measure, scrupulous adherence to international law, and seeing military action as being in the service of diplomacy—are very important to understanding Russia’s methods and ambitions.

Turning now to US military/diplomatic adventures, we see a situation that is quite different. US military spending is responsible for over half of all federal discretionary spending, dwarfing most other vitally important sectors, such as infrastructure, public medicine and public education. It serves several objectives. Most importantly, it is a public jobs program: a way of employing people who are not employable in any actually productive capacity due to lack of intelligence, education and training. Second, it is a way for politicians and defense contractors to synergistically enrich themselves and each other at the public’s expense. Third, it is an advertising program for weapons sales, the US being the top purveyor of lethal technology in the world. Last of all, it is a way of projecting force around the world, bombing into submission any country that dares oppose Washington’s global hegemonic ambitions, often in total disregard of international law. Nowhere on this list is the actual goal of defending the US.

None of these justifications works vis-à-vis Russia. In dollar terms, the US outspends Russia on defense hands down. However, viewed in terms of purchasing parity, Russia manages to buy as much as ten times more defensive capability per unit national wealth than the US, largely negating this advantage. Also, what the US gets for its money is inferior: the Russian military gets the weapons it wants; the US military gets what the corrupt political establishment and their accomplices in the military-industrial complex want in order to enrich themselves. In terms of being an advertising campaign for weapons sales, watching Russian weaponry in action in Syria, effectively wiping out terrorists in short order through a relentless bombing campaign using scant resources, then seeing US weaponry used by the Saudis in Yemen, with much support and advice from the US, being continuously defeated by lightly armed insurgents, is unlikely to generate too many additional sales leads. Lastly, the project of maintaining US global hegemony seems to be on the rocks as well. Russia and China are now in a de facto military union. Russia’s superior weaponry, coupled with China’s almost infinitely huge infantry, make it an undefeatable combination. Russia now has a permanent air base in Syria, has made a deal with Iran to use Iranian military bases, and is in the process of prying Turkey away from NATO. As the US military, with its numerous useless bases around the world and piles of useless gadgets, turns into an international embarrassment, it remains, for the time being, a public jobs program for employing incompetents, and a rich source of graft.

In all, it is important to understand how actually circumscribed American military capabilities are. The US is very good at attacking vastly inferior adversaries. The action against Nazi Germany only succeeded because it was by then effectively defeated by the Red Army—all except for the final mop-up, which is when the US came out of its timid isolation and joined the fray. Even North Korea and Vietnam proved too tough for it, and even there its poor performance would have been much poorer were it not for the draft, which had the effect of adding non-incompetents to the ranks, but produced the unpleasant side-effect of enlisted men shooting their incompetent officers—a much underreported chapter of American military history. And now, with the addition of LGBTQ people to the ranks, the US military is on its way to becoming an international laughing stock. Previously, terms like “faggot” and “pussy” were in widespread use in the US military’s basic training. Drill sergeants used such terminology to exhort the “numb-nuts” placed in their charge to start acting like men. I wonder what words drill sergeants use now that they’ve been tasked with training those they previously referred to as “faggots” and “pussies”? The comedic potential of this nuance isn’t lost on Russia’s military men.

This comedy can continue as long as the US military continues to shy away from attacking any serious adversary, because if it did, comedy would turn to tragedy rather quickly. 

  • If, for instance, US forces tried to attack Russian territory by lobbing missiles across the border, they would be neutralized in instantaneous retaliation by Russia’s vastly superior artillery.
  • If Americans or their proxies provoked Russians living outside of Russia (and there are millions of them) to the point of open rebellion, Russian volunteers, acting in an unofficial capacity and using private funds, would quickly train, outfit and arm them, creating a popular insurgency that would continue for years, if necessary, until Americans and their proxies capitulate.
  • If the Americans do the ultimately foolish thing and invade Russian territory, they would be kettled and annihilated, as repeatedly happened to the Ukrainian forces in Donbass.
  • Any attempt to attack Russia using the US aircraft carrier fleet would result in its instantaneous sinking using any of several weapons: ballistic anti-ship missiles, supercavitating torpedos or supersonic cruise missiles.
  • Strategic bombers, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles would be eliminated by Russia’s advanced new air defense systems.

So much for attack; but what about defense? Well it turns out that there is an entire separate dimension to engaging Russia militarily. You see, Russia lost a huge number of civilian lives while fighting off Nazi Germany. Many people, including old people, women and children, died of starvation and disease, or from German shelling, or from the abuse they suffered at the hands of German soldiers. On the other hand, Soviet military casualties were on par with those of the Germans. This incredible calamity befell Russia because it had been invaded, and it has conditioned Russian military thinking ever since. The next large-scale war, if there ever is one, will be fought on enemy territory. Thus, if the US attacks Russia, Russia will counterattack the US mainland. Keeping in mind that the US hasn’t fought a war on its own territory in over 150 years, this would come as quite a shock.

Of course, this would be done in ways that are consistent with Russian military thinking. Most importantly, the attack must be such that the possibility of triggering a nuclear exchange remains minimized. Second, the use of force would be kept to the minimum required to secure a cessation of hostilities and a return to the negotiating table on terms favorable to Russia. Third, every effort would be made to make good use of internal popular revolts to create long-lasting insurgencies, letting volunteers provide the necessary arms and training. Lastly, winning the peace is just as important as winning the war, and every effort would be made to inform the American public that what they are experiencing is just retribution for certain illegal acts. From a diplomatic perspective, it would be much more tidy to treat the problem of war criminals running the US as an internal, American political problem, to be solved by Americans themselves, with an absolute minimum of outside help. This would best be accomplished through a bit of friendly, neighborly intelligence-sharing, letting all interested parties within the US know who exactly should be held responsible for these war crimes, what they and their family members look like, and where they live.

The question then is, What is the absolute minimum of military action—what I am calling “a thousand balls of fire,” named after George Bush Senior’s “a thousand points of light”—to restore peace on terms favorable to Russia? It seems to me that 1000 “balls of fire” is just about the right number. These would be smallish explosions—enough to demolish a building or an industrial installation, with almost no casualties. This last point is extremely important, because the goal is to destroy the system without actually directly hurting any of the people. It wouldn’t be anyone else’s fault if people in the US suffer because they refuse to do as their own FEMA asks them to do: stockpile a month’s worth of food and water and put together an emergency evacuation plan. In addition, given the direction in which the US is heading, getting a second passport, expatriating your savings, and getting some firearms training just in case you end up sticking around are all good ideas.

The reason it is very important for this military action to not kill anyone is this: there are some three million Russians currently residing in the US, and killing any of them is definitely not on strategy. There is an even larger number of people from populous countries friendly to Russia, such as China and India, who should also remain unharmed. Thus, a strategy that would result in massive loss of life would simply not be acceptable. A much better scenario would involve producing a crisis that would quickly convince the Russians living in the US (along with all the other foreign nationals and first-generation immigrants, and quite a few of the second-generation immigrants too) that the US is no longer a good place to live. Then all of these people could be repatriated—a process that would no doubt take a few years. Currently, Russia is the number three destination worldwide for people looking for a better place to live, after the US and Germany. Germany is now on the verge of open revolt against Angela Merkel’s insane pro-immigration policies. The US is not far behind, and won’t remain an attractive destination for much longer. And that leaves Russia as the number one go-to place on the whole planet. That’s a lot of pressure, even for a country that is 11 time zones wide and has plenty of everything except tropical fruit and people.

We must also keep in mind that Israel—which is, let’s face it, a US protectorate temporarily parked on Palestinian land—wouldn’t last long without massive US support. Fully a third of Israeli population happens to be Russian. The moment Project Israel starts looking defunct, most of these Russian Jews, clever people that they are, will no doubt decide to stage an exodus and go right back to Russia, as is their right. This will create quite a headache for Russia’s Federal Migration Service, because it will have to sift through them all, letting in all the normal Russian Jews while keeping out the Zionist zealots, the war criminals and the ultra-religious nutcases. This will also take considerable time.

But actions that risk major loss of life also turn out to be entirely unnecessary, because an effective alternative strategy is available: destroy key pieces of government and corporate infrastructure, then fold your arms and wait for the other side to crawl back to the negotiating table waving a white rag. You see, there are just a few magic ingredients that allow the US to continue to exist as a stable, developed country capable of projecting military force overseas. They are: the electric grid; the financial system; the interstate highway system; rail and ocean freight; the airlines; and oil and gas pipelines. Disable all of the above, and it’s pretty much game over. How many “balls of flame” would that take? Probably well under a thousand.

Disabling the electric grid is almost ridiculously easy, because the system is very highly integrated and interdependent, consisting of just three sub-grids, called “interconnects”: western, eastern and Texas. The most vulnerable parts of the system are the Large Power Transformers (LPTs) which step up voltages to millions of volts for transmission, and step them down again for distribution. These units are big as houses, custom-built, cost millions of dollars and a few years to replace, and are mostly manufactured outside the US. Also, along with the rest of the infrastructure in the US, most of them are quite old and prone to failure. There are several thousand of these key pieces of equipment, but because the electric grid in the US is working at close to capacity, with several critical choke points, it would be completely disabled if even a handful of the particularly strategic LPTs were destroyed. In the US, any extended power outage in any of the larger urban centers automatically triggers large-scale looting and mayhem. Some estimate that just a two week long outage would push the situation to a point of no return, where the damage would become too extensive to ever be repaired.

Disabling the financial system is likewise relatively trivial. There are just a few choke points, including the Federal Reserve, a few major banks, debit and credit card company data centers, etc. They can be disabled using a variety of methods, such as a cruise missile strike, a cyberattack, electric supply disruption or even civil unrest. It bears noting that the financial system in the US is rigged to blow even without foreign intervention. The combination of runaway debt, a gigantic bond bubble, the Federal Reserve trapped into ever-lower interest rates, underfunded pensions and other obligations, hugely overpriced real estate and a ridiculously frothy stock market will eventually detonate it from the inside.

A few more surgical strikes can take out the oil and gas pipelines, import terminals, highway bridges and tunnels, railroads and airlines. A few months without access to money and financial services, electricity, gasoline, diesel, natural gas, air transport or imported spare parts needed to repair the damage should be enough to force the US to capitulate. If it makes any efforts to restore any of these services, an additional strike or two would quickly negate them.

The number of “balls of flame” can be optimized by taking advantage of destructive synergies: a GPS jammer deployed near the site of an attack can prevent responders from navigating to it; taking out a supply depot together with the facility it serves, coupled with transportation system disruptions, can delay repairs by many months; a simple bomb threat can immobilize a transportation hub, making it a sitting duck instead of a large number of moving targets; etc.

You may think that executing such a fine-tuned attack would require a great deal of intelligence, which would be difficult to gather, but this is not the case. First, a great deal of tactically useful information is constantly being leaked by insiders, who often consider themselves “patriots.” Second, what hasn’t been leaked can be hacked, because of the pitiable state of cybersecurity in the US. Remember, Russia is where anti-virus software is made—and a few of the viruses too. The National Security Agency was recently hacked, and its crown jewels stolen; if it can be hacked, what about all those whose security it supposedly protects?

You might also think that the US, if attacked in this manner, could effectively retaliate in kind, but this scenario is rather difficult to imagine. Many Russians don’t find English too difficult, are generally familiar with the US through exposure to US media, and the specialists among them, especially those who have studied or taught at universities in the US, can navigate their field of expertise in the US almost as easily as in Russia. Most Americans, on the other hand, can barely find Russia on a map, can’t get past the Cyrillic alphabet and find Russian utterly incomprehensible.

Also consider that Russia’s defense establishment is mainly focused on… defense. Offending people in foreign lands is not generally seen as strategically important. “A hundred friends is better than a hundred rubles” is a popular saying. And so Russia manages to be friends with India and Pakistan at the same time, and with China and Vietnam. In the Middle East, it maintains cordial relations with Turkey, Syria, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt and Iran, also all at the same time. Russian diplomats are required to keep channels of communication open with friends and adversaries alike, at all times. Yes, being inexplicably adversarial toward Russia can be excruciatingly painful, but you can make it stop any time! All it takes is a phone call.

Add to this the fact that the vicissitudes of Russian history have conditioned Russia’s population to expect the worst, and simply deal with it. “They can’t kill us all!” is another favorite saying. If Americans manage to make them suffer, the Russian people would no doubt find great solace in the fact they are making the Americans suffer even worse, and many among them would think that this achievement, in itself, is already a victory. Nor will they remain without help; it is no accident that Russia’s Minister of Defense, Sergei Shoigu, previously ran the Emergencies Ministry, and his performance at his job there won him much adulation and praise. In short, if attacked, the Russians will simply take their lumps—as they always have—and then go on to conquer and win, as they always have.

It doesn’t help matters that most of what little Americans have been told about Russia by their political leaders and mass media is almost entirely wrong. They keep hearing about Putin and the “Russian bear,” and so they are probably imagining Russia to be a vast wasteland where Vladimir Putin keeps company with a chess-playing, internet server-hacking, nuclear physicist, rocket scientist, Ebola vaccine-inventing, polyglot, polymath bear. Bears are wonderful, Russians love bears, but let’s not overstate things. Yes, Russian bears can ride bicycles and are sometimes even good with children, but they are still just wild animals and/or pets (many Russians can’t draw that distinction). And so when the Americans growl about the “Russian bear,” the Russians wonder, Which one?

In short, Russia is to most Americans a mystery wrapped in an enigma, and there simply isn’t a large enough pool of intelligent Americans with good knowledge of Russia to draw upon, whereas to many Russians the US is an open book. As far as the actual American “intelligence” and “security” services, they are all bloated bureaucratic boondoggles mired in political opportunism and groupthink that excel at just two things: unquestioningly following idiotic procedures, and creatively fitting the facts to the politics du jour. “Proving” that Iraq has “weapons of mass destruction”—no problem! Telling Islamist terrorists apart from elderly midwestern grandmothers at an airport security checkpoint—no can do!

Russia will not resort to military measures against the US unless sorely provoked. Time and patience are on Russia’s side. With each passing year, the US grows weaker and loses friends and allies, while Russia grows stronger and gains friends and allies. The US, with its political dysfunction, runaway debt, decaying infrastructure and spreading civil unrest, is a dead nation walking. It will take time for each of the United States to neatly demolish themselves into their own footprints, like those three New York skyscrapers did on 9/11 (WTC #1, #2 and #7) but Russia is very patient. Russia is ready to respond to any provocation, but the last thing the Russians want is another war. And that, if you like good news, is the best news you are going to hear. But if you still think that there is going to be a war with Russia, don’t think “Armageddon”; think “a thousand balls of flame,” and then—crickets!

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Making sense of Russian political ambiguities

The Saker: Making Sense Of Russian Political Ambiguities

[This article was written for the Unz Review]

Introduction: the world is not Hollywood

The past couple of weeks saw a number of truly tectonic events taking place simultaneously in the USA, in Russia, in Israel, in Syria, in Iran and in the EU. I think that it would also be reasonable to say that most of those who opposed the AngloZionist Empire have felt feelings ranging from mild disappointment to total dismay. I sure did not hear many people rejoicing, but if somebody was, they were in the minority (uncharacteristically, Mikhail Khazin, for example). These reactions are normal, we all form expectations which can be, and often are, disappointed. Still, even when the news is clearly bad it is helpful to keep a number of things in mind.

First, people, countries and events are not frozen in time. They are processes. Processes, by definition, are subject to change, evolution and (even radical) changes in direction.

Second, each process carries within itself the seeds of its own contradiction. This is what makes processes dynamic.

Third, people are imperfect. Even good people make mistakes, sometimes with tragic consequences. Yet it would be wrong to separate them all into either “infallible hero” or “abject villain and loser”. In fact, I would argue that any kind of mistake, especially a serious one, carries within itself its own contradiction which, in turn, can end up “energizing” the original process by creating a different set of circumstances.

All this is to say that the real world is not like Hollywood when the outcome of the story is only 90 minutes or so away. The real world is at war with the Empire and in this war, like in any other wars, there are mistakes and losses on both sides Both sides make mistakes and the results of these mistakes affect the future course of the war.

I would argue that in the past couple of weeks Russia suffered not one, but several PR disasters. I would also argue that the Zionists have had some tremendous PR successes. I will list them further below, but I want to suggest to you that PR disasters and successes are not quite the same as real-world, tangible victories. Furthermore, PR disasters and successes can sometimes be useful, as they reveal to the world previously overlooked, or underestimated, weaknesses. Finally, PR disasters and successes, while existing mostly in the realm of perceptions, can have a real-world effect, sometimes a dramatic one.

The usual chorus of Putin-haters who immediately declared final victory is completely mistaken and their reaction is the reflection of an infantile understanding of the complex world we live in. In the real world, a person like Putin can, and usually does, commit mistakes (PR and real-world mistakes) and the enemy can mount very effective counter-attacks. But the outcome of the war is not decided on a single battle. Furthermore, in politics, like in regular warfare, tactical mistakes and successes do not at all imply operational or, even less so, strategic successes. During WWII the German military usually performed better than the Soviet one on the tactical level, but the Soviets were superior on the operational and strategic levels. We all know how that war ended. If you want to read a good analysis and debunking of the “Putin caved in” nonsense, I recommend the article ”Russia Betrayed Syria”: Geopolitics through the eyes of a fearful “pro-Russia” Westerner” by Ollie Richardson.

The other extreme is to deny, against all evidence, that there is a problem or that mistakes have been made. That kind of stubborn flag-waving is actually unhelpful as mistakes are inevitable, and the first step towards mitigating them is to recognize them. The extreme version of that kind of flag-waving (pseudo-)patriotism is to denounce a person brining up problems as a traitor or a defeatist.

It is with all this in mind that I would like to revisit what has taken place and try to gauge what the real-world consequences of these PR events might be.

Part one: Putin disappoints

Quick summary: Putin re-appointed Medvedev, appointed Alexei Kudrin as Chairman of the Accounts Chamber of Russia and Vitalii Mutko as Deputy Prime Minister in charge of construction, he then hosted Bibi Netanyahu in the Kremlin while the latter bombed Syria right before, during and after Netanyahu’s visit. Finally, there is the disgraceful zig-zag about the S-300 for Syria: first, yes we will do it, then, no we won’t. All these events can, and should, be carefully analyzed and explained, but I don’t think that it makes sense to deny that most people feel a sense of disappointment over it all (except, of course, the bright geniuses who will claim that they knew all along that Putin was “fake”, but this is precisely the “Hollywood-thinking” types on whom any real analysis would be lost in the first place).

I would argue that even those who think that this is no big deal and that nothing terrible happened will not, if they are honest, deny that Putin must have known, without any doubt, that his decisions would be unpopular with the Russian public and that, very uncharacteristically for him, he deliberately chose to ignore his only public opinion and favor other considerations. That is something very new and, I think, something important.

There are roughly two camps vying for power inside the Kremlin: I call them the Atlantic Integrationists and the Eurasian Sovereignists. The former group is a pure product of the 1990s. We can think of them as “liberals”, IMF/Washington Consensus/WTO/WB types; folks who came to power thanks to the regime of oligarchs which ran Russia from about 1990 to 2000 and which was both deeply pro-American and which had extremely close ties to Israel and the various political Jewish and Zionist organizations in the West. The latter group is primarily a product of the armed forces and the security services. The “bridge” between the two is, by the way, the Russian military industrial complex in which both groups are represented. Unsurprisingly, most Russian “elites” (defined simply as people who made their fortune or, at least, a good living in the 1990s and after) support the Atlantic Integrationists, while most “regular” Russian people overwhelmingly support the Eurasian Sovereignists. This is why Putin is so popular and Medvedev never was. What is interesting is to look into how these groups relate to Israel and Zionism.

In a past article, I have already looked at the complex and multi-layered relationship between Israel and Russia. At this point we need to look a little deeper and see how each of these groups relates to Israel and Zionism.

Atlantic Integrationists: unsurprisingly, they are pro-Israeli to the hilt. For them, Israel is a totally normal country, even to be admired, as they all have personal/family and business ties to Israelis in Israel and in the USA. While there is no official version of AIPAC in Russia, let’s just say that the ADL would give the Atlantic Integrationists a perfect score for loyalty and service.

Eurasian Sovereignists: here, things are much more complicated. Some Eurasian Sovereignists are profoundly anti-Zionist ideologically, while others don’t really care. But even for those who have no love for Israel, or who are deeply opposed to the Zionist influence in Russia in the 1990s or even today (especially in the Russian media), do not necessarily find it useful to say much about it. Why? Primarily because they think, and I would say correctly so, that being pro-Russian (in the sense of patriotic and wanting a truly sovereign Russia) does not have to entail being anti-Zionist, anti-Israeli or anti-Jewish. Furthermore, there are, and have always been, patriotic Russian Jews who have been an integral part of the Russian culture and history. Just like I often write that for Russians, Muslims are not “aliens” in the way many westerners perceive them, and Jews are not “aliens” for Russians either. This is why you can often meet the following Russian type: they will bitch and complain about all the Jewish “crooks and politicians”, but have “good” Jews as their closest and best friends. This is not blindness at all, this is the expression of the fact that to loathe an ideology is one thing, but to collectively feel hostility towards a group of people you know very well is a completely different proposition. I will never cease to repeat it: Russia is, has always been, and still remains a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society in which the presence of “others” simply is a fact of life.

Then there is the WWII factor, which the Israelis and Russians Zionists have been extremely skilled at exploiting to the max: Russians and Jew are united in a common memory of the horrors the Nazis inflicted upon them and they also often sense that West Europeans and US Americans are, well, maybe not quite as sincerely sympathetic to their plight even if political correctness forces them to pretend to be. As a result, you will find that most anti-Zionist Russians, while surely not “ADL compatible” in their views, hate the Nazis and everything western racism stands for no less than Jews would. If fact, when faced with the modern wave of rabid russophobia, many Russians say “we are the new Jews”, meaning that everything evil on the planet is blamed on them regardless of fact or logic. Like it or not, but that common memory does bind Russians and Jews in a profound way.

I can already imagine the rage and disgust my words above will trigger in western Jew-haters for whom the world is split into two groups: Jew-haters (good) and all those who “sold out” to “the Jews” (as if there was such monad as “the Jews”). All I can tell them is this: don’t project your reductionist world view on others, especially not on Russia. If you do, you will never “get” Russia and you will be stuck with the kind of proverbial nonsense like “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”.

Part two: The Empire Strikes back

The past couple of years have been terrible for the Zionists, both in the USA and in the rest of the world. First, there was the crushing defeat of their candidate in the USA and the election of a candidate they rabidly hated. Then there was the Russian military intervention in Syria which prevented them from overthrowing the last secular “resistance” regime in the Arab world. In Russia, “their” Atlantic Integrationists were slowly but surely losing power and all in all, the western sanctions turned out to be a blessing for Russia. Putin’s popularity was soaring to new heights and the the global “Zionist house” was on fire. In the USA, the Zionists counter-attacked with lightening speed and with a devastating effectiveness, breaking Trump in about 30 days (as shown by Trump’s betrayal of Flynn and later Bannon). After that, Trump made appeasing AIPAC his full-time job.

But that left another problem: while the US was re-taken under control, Russia, in the meantime, had succeeded in developing the capabilities to completely negate the entire US ABM system, to make much of the surface fleet obsolete and severely to impair the ability of US airpower to operate in airspace contested by modern Russian air defenses. In other words, in purely military terms, this was “game, set, match for Russia”.

[Sidebar: to those shocked by this statement and who would dismiss this as “Russian propaganda” I will submit the following: US military power is predicated on the following:

  1. The ability to deploy a carrier strike group anywhere on the planet.
  2. The ability to protect that carrier strike group from any major counter-attack.
  3. The ability to strike any country in the world with enough missile and airstrikes to break its will to continue to fight.
  4. The complete and total control of the skies (air supremacy). US forces simply never train for a combat scenario where they don’t control the skies or, even less so, when their enemy does.
  5. The very strong belief that no enemy would dare attack major overseas US bases.
  6. The very strong, quasi religious, belief that US military technology is superior.
  7. The absolute certitude that the US mainland would never be hit in a counter-attack.

None of the previous beliefs are based in reality anymore and, in fact, their opposite is true. This is why when dealing with a near-peer or peer enemy the US armed forces are more or less useless. The only very notable exception is the US nuclear triad and the US submarine fleet. The current situation in Syria (and by implication, Iran and Russia) is finally gradually bringing this new reality to the awareness of US decision-makers and military commanders.]

This is why Russia, albeit with only a tiny contingent, succeeded in turning the tide of the war in Syria and even now presents the AngloZionists with a frustrating challenge:

a (comparatively) tiny contingent of Russian forces completely derailed the Empire’s plans for the entire Middle-East: not only is there a real change of peace breaking out in Syria, but the situation is far from having the Takfiris and Shia killing each other in Syria and Lebanon (a key part of the Israeli plan for the region). Hezbollah, Iran and the Syrians are now in a victorious coalition on the ground with the “Axis of Kindness” forces roundly defeated.

So the Israelis decided on a simple, very effective and very dangerous counter offensive plan: 1) start a war between the USA and Iran by creating an acute crisis as a result of the US reneging on its legal obligations and 2) bait Iran into a counter-attack in response to Israel air operations against Iranian and pro-Iranian forces in Syria. But for that plan to succeed, Russia needed to stay out.

So far, at least, it looks like the Israelis have convinced the Russians to stay out. But is that perception really well founded?

Part three: factors inhibiting Russia

First and foremost, as I have already explained in great detail in the past, Russia has absolutely no legal or moral obligation to support, protect, arm, train or otherwise assist anybody in the Middle-East. None. Russia has already done more for Syria than the entire Arab/Muslim world combined with the notable exception of Iran and Hezbollah. As for the Arab/Muslim world, it has never done anything for Russia and still is doing nothing. So those who like to whine about Russia not doing enough simply have no case whatsoever.

Second, the Russian air defense and air forces in Syria have only one mission: to protect the Russian task force in Syria. Whoever got the idea that Russia is supposed to shoot down Israeli aircraft or missiles over Syria has not been paying attention to public Russian statements about this. The notion that the Russian task force in Syria is there to engage US/NATO/CENTCOM forces is just as ridiculous.

Third, and contrary to a frequently held misconception, the Syrian government, Iran, Hezbollah and Iran have different agendas in the Middle-East. Yes, they are de-facto allies. They also have the same enemies, they often work together, but they all think of their own interests first. In fact, at least in the case of Iran and Russia, there are clear signs that there are several ‘camps’ inside the Russian and Iranian government and the ruling elites which have different agendas (I highly recommend Thierry Meyssan’s recent articles on this topic here and here). To think that any or all of them will instantly come to the defense of any one of them is supremely naïve, especially when the aggressor (Israel) is backed by the full power of an already warmongering Empire run amok.

Fourth, the sad reality is that Russia, unlike Iran, never took a principled position concerning the nature and behavior of the state of Israel. I very much deplore that, and I consider it a shame, but I hasten to add that this shame is shared by every single country on the planet except Iran, Bolivia and, maybe, to some extent Turkey. Not to excuse anything, but only to explain, there is very little awareness amongst Russians about the true nature and behavior of the Israelis, and most of what makes it to the media is hopelessly pro-Israeli (hence the almost constant presence of the likes of Iakov Kedmi, Avigdor Eskin, Evgenii Satanovskii and other Israeli agents – they don’t even really bother to deny it – on Russian TV). The Russian media, especially the TV stations, could easily get a “ADL seal of approval”. Simply put: the vast majority of Russians don’t feel that the plight of the Palestinians or the constant Israeli attacks on neighboring countries is their problem.

[Sidebar: such a view can appear very self-centered until you recall the kind of “gratitude” Russia got in the past from her former interventions. There are countries out there who exist only because Russia decided that they should exist and which today are members of NATO. I won’t even go into the “Slavic brotherhood” or, for that matter, “Orthodox brotherhood” nonsense. The only people with whom Russia truly has a strong bond are the Serbs. The rest of them were more than happy to backstab Russia as soon as convenient. Thus history has taught Russia a painful lesson: give up on any naïve notions of gratitude or brotherhood. Very sad, but true. Today, even countries like Kazakhstan, Armenia or Georgia are showing a very ambivalent (and even ambiguous) attitude towards Russia. As a result the idea that Russia owes some form of protection to anybody out there has almost no support in Russia.]

Fifth, even the Eurasian Sovereignist’s analysts and media in Russia have this absolutely amazing “blind spot” about Israel and the Zionist ideology: I think of analysts whom I sincerely admire and respect (like Sergei Mikheev or Ruslan Ostashko) and whose analysis is superb on pretty much everything and who simply never mention the power and influence of what is clearly a powerful pro-Israeli lobby inside Russia, especially in the Russian media (even when they mention the power of the Israel lobby in the USA). Considering how different the tone of much of the Russian Internet is, the only explanation I have for this situation is that any public anti-Israeli or anti-Zionist statements are career-terminators in Russia (we also clearly see the same phenomenon at work with RT and Sputnik). You can completely forget about any Russian religious figures speaking up, and that goes both for the Orthodox and Muslims: they all take their orders from the Kremlin and have no personal opinion on anything (I am only talking about the “official” senior religious leaders – the rank and file faithful do not display this type of behavior).

Sixth, there are plenty of people in Russia who fully realize two simple things: first, a war between Iran and the Empire would be disastrous for the Empire (and therefore great for Russia) and, second, the Iranians are also “problematic” allies at best who have their own version of “Atlanticists” (remember the “Gucci Revolution”?) and “Sovereignists”, which means that tensions, or warfare, between Iran and the USA would be greatly advantageous for the anti-US camp inside Iran (just like the rabid russophobia of western politicians did more to re-elect Putin than any of his own campaign rhetoric). To put it crudely, if the Israelis are dumb enough to attack the Iranians, and if the US Americans are subservient enough to Israel to join into the fight – why should Russia take great risks and openly stand in the way? Finally, any conflict with Iran (which will most likely also involve the KSA) will have oil prices skyrocket. What do you think this will do to the Russian economy?

Seventh, the war which Israel is currently waging against Iran and pro-Iranian forces in Syria is entirely a symbolic war. Even the Pantsir which was recently destroyed by the Israelis (with the usual pro-Israeli PR campaign) was not even on combat alert: the unit was not even camouflaged and its crew was standing around and smoking. The Israelis are masters at making this look all very impressive and heroic, but in military terms, this is nonsense: they clearly hit a unit which was not even part of the action (whatever that “action” was).

The basic rule of warfare still remains valid today: unless you can put boots on the ground, your efforts will never have a decisive military effect. And thank God for the fact that nobody in the “Axis of Kindness” has any credible ground forces; not the Israelis (remember 2006?); not the Saudis (look at Yemen); and most definitely not the USA (when is the last time they beat somebody capable of resisting?). That is why the AngloZionist Empire always tries to use proxies like the Kurds or the “good terrorists” to fight on its behalf. Thus the Russian military specialists fully understand that even if the Israelis bombed Syria for the next several months, they would not be able to change the fundamental correlation of forces on the ground. Hence, the Israeli strikes are mostly about PR.

Still, for all these reasons, and more, we all have to come to terms with the fact that Russia is what I would call a “limited actor” in the Middle-East. I have been saying from day 1 – when some were having visions of Russian airborne divisions (supported by MiG-31s!) landing near Damascus – that “the Russians are not coming” (see herehereherehere and here). Furthermore, I tried to explain that the Russians are under no obligation whatsoever to protect or save anyone anywhere, including in the Middle-East (see here). Finally, I tried to explain that the Russian-Israeli relationship is a multi-layered and complex one (see here) and that Putin is facing some tremendous internal opposition which he has failed to successfully tackle (see here). But trying to describe a complex reality is often a futile task in a world in which simple, black and white, binary-kind of representations are the rule and where every complex argument is immediately turned into a long list of straw-man misrepresentations. This is still very much the case with the latest developments.

Those who say that “Putin sold out” are wrong, but so are those who think that “the Russians are coming” to save anybody. It is just not going to happen. Russia will not fight a war against Israel (unless she is attacked first) and Russia will only support Iranian operations and policies insofar as the Iranians negotiate a deal with the Russian and coordinate their efforts. As soon as Iran, or Hezbollah, make a move without prior consultations with Moscow, they will be on their own to deal with the consequences.

Part four: is Russia caving in to Western and Israeli pressure?

Setting aside the issue of the Russian role in the Middle-East, there remains the issue of why Putin failed to deliver on what was clearly a mandate of the Russian people to get rid of at least of the most hated personalities in the Russian government. Most folks in the West know how toxic Kudrin is, but the promotion of Mutko is nothing short of amazing too. This is the man who is most to blame for the gross mismanagement of the entire “Russia doping scandal” operation and who is absolutely despised for his incompetence. Now he is in charge of construction. There is even a good joke about this: Putin put Mutko in charge of the construction industry because the Russian construction market badly needs some doping. Funny, sure, but only so far. When I see Rogozin removed for his “poor management” (now put in charge of the Russian rocket and space industry) and Mutko promoted, I wonder if they have all gone crazy in the Kremlin.

We can all argue ad nauseam why exactly this has happened, but let’s first agree on one simple fact: Putin has failed to purge the Atlantic Integrationists. The big expectation of him getting a strong personal mandate from the people and then finally kicking them out of the Kremlin has, alas, been proven completely unfounded. There are a couple of interesting explanations out there such as:

  • Objectively, the Medvedev government has done a very decent, if not good job, with the economy. True, some/many believe that mistakes were made, that there were better economic policies available, but it would be hard to argue that the government completely failed. In fact, there are some pretty strong arguments which indicate that the Medvedev government (see this article discussing this in detail and it’s machine translation here and this article and its machine translation here)
  • Putin’s very ambitious internal economic growth program needs the support of the interests represented by the Atlantic Integrationists. In fact, internal development and economic growth are the core of his very ambitious political program. Possibly not the best time to purge the Kremlin from those who represent the interests of Russian big business.
  • The Medvedev “clan” has been weakened (see here for details) and now that it has been put on a much shorter “technocratic” leash, it is far less dangerous. In fact, it has been been subdued by Putin and his allies. Lavrov and Shoigu are both staying, by the way.
  • Trump’s reckless behavior is deeply alienating the Europeans to whom Putin is now presenting negotiation partners which they would trust (imagine Merkel and Rogozin in the same room – that would not go well!). Check out this excellent article by Frank Sellers in The Duran looking at the immense potential for Russia-EU cooperation.

Meh. I am personally unconvinced. How can Putin say that he wants serious reforms while keeping the exact same type of people in command? If indeed the Medvedev government did such a great job, then we is there any need for such major reforms? If Putin’s power base is indeed, as I believe it to be, in the people, then why is he trying to appease the financial elites by catering to their interests and agenda? Most crucially, how can Russia free herself from the financial and economic grip of the Empire when the Empire’s 5th column agents are (re-)appointed to key positions? And in all of Russia was there really nobody more qualified than Mutko or Kudrin to appoint to these positions?

Of course, there always this “Putin knows something you don’t” but I have always had a problem with that kind of logic which is essentially an open-ended universal cop-out. I hope that I am wrong, but to me this does strongly suggest that Putin is on the retreat, that he has made a major mistake and that the Empire has scored a major victory. And I will gladly admit that I have yet to hear an explanation which would explain this, never mind offer one of my own.

On the external front, has Russia caved in to Israeli pressure? Ruslan Ostashko offers a very good analysis of why this is hardly the case: (I don’t necessarily agree with his every conclusion, but he does make a very good case:

Yes, Netanyahu *did* with his repeated strikes on Syria, thumb his nose at Putin (that famous Israeli chutzpah at work for you!), and yes, Putin wining and dining Netanyahu was a painful sight and a PR-disaster. But on substance, did Israel get Russia to “betray Iran”? No, and not because the Russians are so heroically principled, but because Israel really has nothing to offer Russia. All Israel has is a powerful pro-Isreal lobby inside Russia, that is true. But the more they use that lobby the more visible it becomes, the more questions at least Eurasian Sovereignists will ask.

The Israelis sure don’t want to give the impression that the run Russia the way they run the USA, and Netanyahu’s reception in the Kremlin recently has already raised a lot of eyebrows and the impression that Putin caved in to the demands of this arrogant bastard are not helping Putin, to put it mildly. A lot of Russian analysts (Viktor Baranets, Maksim Shevchenko, Leonid Ivashov) wonder what kind of arguments Netanyahu used with Putin, and the list of possibilities is an outright uninspiring one.

Part five – another truism: there is a difference between excellent, good, average, bad and terrible

Even if the situation in Russia has changed for the worse, this is hardly a reason to engage in the usual “Putin sold out” hysteria or to declare that “Russia caved in”. Even when things are bad, there is still a huge difference between bad and worse. As of right now, Putin is not only the best possible person to be the President of Russia, Russia also continues to be the objective leader of the resistance to the Empire. Again, the black-and-white “Hollywood” type of mindset entirely misses the dynamic nature of what is going on. For example, it is quite clear to me that a new type of Russian opposition is slowly forming. Well, it always existed, really – I am talking about people who supported Putin and the Russian foreign policy and who disliked Medvedev and the Russian internal policies. Now the voice of those who say that Putin is way too soft in his stance towards the Empire will only get stronger. As will the voices of those who speak of a truly toxic degree of nepotism and patronage in the Kremlin (again, Mutko being the perfect example). When such accusations came from rabid pro-western liberals, they had very little traction, but when they come from patriotic and even nationalist politicians (Nikolai Starikov for example) they start taking on a different dimension. For example, while the court jester Zhirinovskii and his LDPR party loyally supported Medvedev, the Communist and the Just Russia parties did not. Unless the political tension around figures like Kudrin and Medvedev is somehow resolved (maybe a timely scandal?), we might witness the growth of a real opposition movement in Russia, and not one run by the Empire. It will be interesting to see if Putin’s personal ratings will begin to go down and what he will have to do in order to react to the emergence of such a real opposition.

Much will depend on how the Russian economy will perform. If, courtesy of Trump’s megalomaniacal policies towards Iran and the EU, Russia’s economy receives a massive injection of funds (via high energy prices), then things will probably stabilize. But if the European leaders meekly cave in and join the sanctions against Iran and if the US succeeds in imposing even further sanctions on Russia, then the Medvedev government will face a serious crisis and the revival of the Russian economy promised by Putin will end up in an embarrassing failure and things could also go from bad to even worse. As for right now, our always courageous Europeans are busy handing the latest Eurovision prize to an Israeli (Eurovision prizes are always given to countries the EU leaders want to support) while the self-same Israelis “celebrate” the new US Embassy in Jerusalem by murdering 55 Palestinians (and promised to kill many more). So let’s just say that I am not very hopeful that the Europeans will grow a spine, some balls, a brain or, least of all, acquire some moral fiber anytime soon. But maybe they will be greedy enough to reject some of the most outrageous US demands? Maybe. Hopefully. After all, the European supine subservience to the USA has to the EU billions of dollars already…

Part six: dealing with the S-300 fiasco

The entire S-300 business for Syria has been an ugly mess but, again, more in the PR realm than in the real world. The constant “we will deliver, no we won’t, yes we will, no we won’t” creates a terrible impression. The explanations for this zig-zag make things only worse. Let’s take a look at what those who do not disapprove of this zig zag are saying. Their arguments go more or less as follows.

  • The S-300s would place the Israeli Air Force at risk not only over Syria, but also over Lebanon and even Israel. This is overkill because Russia never moved into Syria to fight a war against Israel. So the entire idea of delivering S-300s to Syria was a bad idea in the first place.
  • Syria does not really need S-300s. Lavrov and others mention the S-300s as a threat (because the Israelis really fear these systems), but in reality what Syria needs are Buk-M2E (see analysis in Russian and it’s machine translation here).
  • The Russians made a deal with Israel and in exchange for the non-delivery of the S-300s (see analysis in Russian here and the machine translation here) they are getting something very tangible: Israel will stop supporting the “good terrorists” in Syria thereby making it much easier for Damascus to finish them off.

I don’t like these arguments very much except for the 2nd one. First, I do agree that the Buk-M2E is a very modern and capable system with some advantages over the S-300 in the Syrian context, but I would still add that the infamous sentence “Syria has got all it needs” is an absolutely terrible and ridiculous statement (read Marko Marjanović devastating critique of it in his article “Israel Took out a Syrian Pantsir Air Defense Unit, S-200 Radars. Russia: ‘No S-300 Transfer, Syria Has All It Needs’” for Russia Insider). I think that this “Syria has all it needs” is yet another of these self-inflicted PR disasters and an absolutely ridiculous statement until you take it one step deeper.

So, if by “Syria has all it needs” you mean “Syria has no need for any other help” or “the Syrian air defenses can deal with any Israeli or US attack” – then this is total nonsense. Agreed. But if you just rephrase it and say “Syria has all the types of weapons it needs”, then I think that this is basically true. By far the single most important air defense system for the Syrians is the Pantsir-S1, not the S-300 or any other system.

As early as June of last year I wrote a column for the Unz Review entitled “Russia vs. America in Syria” in which I had a section entitled “Forget the S-300/S-400, think Pantsir”. I wrote that at a time when most observers were paying no attention to the Pantsir at all, and the entire world seemed obsessed with the S-300 and S-400s. I still believe that the Pantsir is the key to the outcome of the struggle for the Syrian airspace. But Syria, and Iran, need many more of them. Basically, the ideal situation is numerous Russian, Iranian and Syrian Pantsirs all over Syria, all of them integrated with already existing Russian long radar capabilities and supported by modern electronic warfare. With enough Pantsirs deployed and on full alert (not like the one the Israelis recently destroyed) and fully integrated into a single air defense network, the Syrians would be able to mount a very robust air defense capability, at a relatively cheap cost, without offering the Israelis any high value and lucrative targets.

Pantsirs can deal with most of the US and Israeli threats even if, unlike their S-300/S-400 counterparts, they cannot engage aircraft at long distance (hence the suggestion to deploy some Buk-M2E’s to approximate that capability). The truth is that S-300’s were never designed to operate more or less autonomously or to intercept cruise missiles or bombs. Yes, they *can* do that, but they were designed to deal with long range high value targets and within a multi-layered system which included many other systems, such as the Buks, Tors, Pantsirs and even Iglas and Verbas MANPADs. That multi-layered air defense system is currently abscent in Syria and would take a lot of time and money to deploy. In contrast the Pantsirs can function completely autonomously, can detect any target up to 50km away, track and engage it 20km away, protect itself and others with its 30mm guns up to 3km away. Pantsirs can even do that while moving up to 30km/h on rough terrain. This makes it an extraordinarily effective and survivable air defense system, which is relatively easy to hide, deploy and engage with no warning for the enemy. By the way, the Pantsir can also use both its 30mm canons and its missiles against ground targets, including tanks. No current air defense system can boast such a combination of capabilities.

Russia needs to deliver as many of those Pantsir-S1 systems to Syria as physically possible. A large number of Pantsir’s in Syria would present Israel and the USA with a far bigger headache than a few S-300s. Currently there is something in the range of 40-60 of such Pantsir’s in Syria. This is far from enough considering the magnitude of the threat and the capabilities of the threat. That number needs to be at least doubled.

However, and regardless of the real-world technical and military aspects of the issue, the Russian zig-zags gave the world a terrible impression: the Israelis attack a Russian ally, then the Russian promise to do something about it, then Netanyahu goes to Russia, and Putin meekly caves in. This is all a massive self-inflicted political faceplant and yet another major mistake by Putin and other Russian leaders.

Frankly, the main Russian mistake here was to *ever* mention S-300s deliveries to the Syrians.

Part Seven: the lessons from the Divine Victory of 2006 – survival is victory

In 2006 Hezbollah inflicted a massive and most humiliating defeat upon Israel. And yet, there is some pretty good evidence that it all began by a mistake. Not by Israel, by Hezbollah. Check out this now often forgotten statement made by Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah:

“We did not think, even one per cent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 … that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not”

Amazing, no? Hassan Nasrallah spoke these words after Hezbollah’s superb victory against the “invincible Tsahal”. The truth is that Hezbollah had underestimated the violence and magnitude of the Israeli attack. Not only that, but Israel did not lose a single inch of its territory while all of Lebanon, not just the south, was viciously bombed and scores of civilians died. Hezbollah did destroy a few “indestructible” Merkava tanks and almost sank the Israeli Navy’s flagship. But compared to the damage and pain inflicted by the Israelis, this was nothing. Even Hezbollah’s missiles had a comparatively small effect on the Israeli population (mostly just the typical Israeli panic). And yet, even if politicians did not want to admit it, it was as clear as can be for both sides:

Hezbollah had won a “Divine Victory” while the Israelis had suffered the worst defeat in their history. Why? For a very simple reason: Hezbollah survived.

That’s it and that’s crucial. Olmert and his goons had set out to destroy Hezbollah (or, at least, disarm it). This is what Trump will probably try to do to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and this is what the AngloZionist Empire is trying to do to Russia: eliminate it.

Once the goals are thus defined, then the definition of victory is also obvious: surviving. That’s it.

For Hezbollah, Iran or Russia to defeat Israel, the USA or the entire Empire, there is no need to plant a flag on the enemy’s main symbolic building like what Soviet soldiers did in Germany. All they need to do to win is simply to survive because the other’s sides survival is predicated upon their elimination, it’s really that simple. Israel cannot claim victory as long as Hezbollah exists, the USA cannot claim world Hegemony if Iran openly defies it, and the AngloZionist Empire cannot clain world hegemony over the our planet as long as the Russian civilizational realm openly challenges it. So while all the talk about the Iranians wanting to “wipe Israel off the map” is just a typical ziomedia invention, it is true that by their very existence Hezbollah, Iran and Russia do represent an existential threat to Israel, the USA and the Empire.

This is the biggest and the fatal weakness of the AngloZionist Empire: its survival depends on the colonization or destruction of every other country out there. Every independent country, whether big and powerful, or small and weak, represents an unacceptable challenge to the hegemony of the “indispensable nation” and the “chosen people”, which now try to rule over us all. This might well be the ultimate example of Hegelian dialectics at work in geopolitics: an Empire whose power generates it’s own demise. Many empires have come and gone in history, but the globalized world we live in, this dialectical contradiction is tremendously potentialized by the finite conditions in which empires have to operate.

Conclusion one: support for Putin and Russia must only be conditional

Over the past few years, Putin and Russia haters were predicting doom and gloom and all sorts of betrayals (or Novorussia, Syria, Iran, etc.) by Putin and Russia. Then time passed and all their predictions proved false. Instead of just talking, the Russians took action which proved the nay-sayers wrong. This time however, the Russians said and did a number of things which gave *a lot* of fuel to the Putin-haters and the only way to undo that is to take real action to prove them wrong. Right now as a result of these self-inflicted PR-disasters Russia looks very bad, even inside Russia were many Putin supporters are confused, worried and disappointed.

Externally, the Syrian and, especially, the Iranians need to come to terms with the fact that Russia is an imperfect ally, one which sometimes can help, but one which will always place its personal interests above any other consideration. In a personal email to me Eric Zuesse wrote “I think that Putin and Netanyahu are negotiating how far Israel can go and what Russia can accept — and what cooperation each will provide to the other — drawing the red lines of acceptability, for each side”. I think that he is spot on, but I also think that Putin is wrong in trying to make a deal with Israel, especially if a deal is at the expense of Iran. Ostashko is right. Objectively Israel has very little to offer Russia. But if this kind of collaboration between Russia and Israel continues, especially if Iran is attacked, then we will know that the Israel lobby inside Russia is behind these policies which go counter to the Russian national interest. We will soon find out.

In the meantime, Lavrov can’t try to get a deal going with Israel and, at the same time, whine about the “US Plan on Arab Troops Deployment in Syria ‘Sovereignty Violation’”! How about the never-ending violation by Israel of Syria’s sovereignty? How it is less repugnant than the one being perpetrated by the USA? Are such statements not fundamentally hypocritical?

We can observe a paradox here: Putin has criticized the evil immorality of the western society and imperial policies many times (most famously in Munich and at the UN). But Putin has never said anything about the evil immorality of the state of Israel. And yet Israel is the center of gravity, the nexus, of the entire AngloZionist Empire, especially since the Neocons turned Trump into their subservient lackey. In this, and in so many other areas, Russia needs to follow the example of Iran whose leaders have shown far more morality and principled policies in spite of Iran being much smaller and comparatively weaker than Russia.

In 2006 a thousand men or so of Hezbollah dared to defy the entire AngloZionist Empire (the US was, as always, backing Israel to the hilt) and they prevailed. Russian soldiers have shown time and again, including recently in Syria, they they have the same type of courage. But Russian politicians really seem to be of a much more tepid and corruptible type, and there is always the risk that Putin might gradually become less of an officer and more of a politician. And this, in turn, means that those of us who oppose the Empire and support Putin and Russia must imperatively make that support conditional upon a clearly stated set of moral and spiritual principles, not on a “my country right or wrong” kind of loyalty or, even less so, on a “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” kind of fallacy. Should Putin continue in his apparent attempts to appease the Israelis a new type of internal opposition to his rule might gain power inside Russia and new internal tensions might be added to the already existing exernal ones.

Right now Putin still has a lot of “credibility capital” left in spite of his recent mistakes. However, Putin recent decisions have raised a lot of unpleasant questions which must be answered and will so in time. In the meantime, as they say in the USA, “hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and settle for anything in the middle”. The Scripture also warns us not to make idols of leaders: “Trust not in princes, nor in the children of men, in whom there is no safety” (Ps 145:3 LXX). The worldly evil we are fighting, today in the shape of the AngloZionist Empire, is but a manifestation of a much deeper, spiritual evil: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). The young men and women from the Shia movement Amal got it right when they chose the name “Party of God” for their movement when they created Hezbollah in 1985. And Iran was right when it became an Islamic Republic: if we want to defeat the Empire we need to always let spiritual matters and moral crieria remain above any of our “pragmatic” worldly political considerations or national/ethnic loyalties: that is how we can defeat those who place a dollar value on absolutely everything they see in their narrow materialistic worldview.

Conclusion two: the quest for “Russian values”

Russian political ambiguities are the direct result of the fact that Russia, as whole, has yet to define what “Russian values” really are. The historical Russia was founded on Patristic Christianity and the Roman civilizational model and the Soviet Union on Marxism-Leninism. The 1990s marked the total triumph of materialism run amok. But unlike Hezbollah or Iran, the “New Russia” (as I like to call it) is not based on anything other than a Constitution written mostly by US advisors and their proxies and a general opposition to the western civilizational model (especially since 2014). Being against something is not an inspiring, or even tenable, political or moral stance (as the White Guards discovered during the Russian civil war). Furthermore, in her confrontation with an AngloZionist Empire which stands for absolutely nothing besides base instincts, Russia needs to stand *for* something, not just against something else. As long as Russia will not firmly define and proclaim a set of spiritual/moral values she stands for, the current zigs-zags will continue and Russian policies will prove to be inconsistent, at best.

[Sidebar: here I want to contrast the Russian society at large with the Russian armed forces who, besides having a lot of good equipment, have a very strong and clear ethos and a rock solid understanding and clarity about what they stand for. This is why Russian soldiers have consistently and spontaneously been willing to sacrifice their lives. The Russian civilian society still lacks that kind of clarity, and Russian politicians, who are no better in Russia than elsewhere, often make use of that. The Russian armed forces are also the one institution with the strongest historical memory and the deepest roots in Russian history. I would argue that they are the only institution in modern Russia whose roots truly go back to before the 1917 Revolution and even much further back than that. As descendant of “White Russians” myself I have always found it uncanny and, frankly, amazing how much closer I have felt to Russian military officers than to Russian civilians. To me it often feels as if there were two types of Russians simultaneously coexisting: the “new Russian” type (still in the process of being defined) and the military officer corps (Soviet or post-Soviet). That latter type almost instinctively made sense to me and often felt like family. This is hardly a scientific observation, but this has been my consistent personal experience].

There is a very high likelihood that Israel will succeed in triggering a US attack on Iran. If/when that happens, this will trigger a political crisis inside Russia because the space for the current political ambiguities will be dramatically reduced. On moral and on pragmatic grounds, Russia will have to decide whether she can afford to be a bystander or not. This will not be an easy choice as their shall be no consensus on what to do inside the ruling elites. But the stakes will be too high and the consequences of inaction prohibitive. My hope is that a major military conflict will result in a sharp increase of the power and influence of the military “lobby” inside the Kremlin. Eventually and inevitably, the issue of Israel and Zionism will have to be revisited and the pro-Israeli lobby inside Russia dealt with, lest Russia follow the same path to self-destruction as the USA. For this reason the concept of “true sovereignization” is the one patriotic slogan/goal that Eurasian Sovereignists must continue to promote (regardless of the actual terminology used) because it points towards the real problems in Russian internal and foreign policies which must be addressed and resolved. This will be a long and difficult process, with victories and setbacks. We better get used to the idea that what happened in the past couple of weeks will happen again in the future.

The Saker

After Douma Chemical Attack Allegations Fall Apart UK to continue support of White Helmets, US ‘Freezes Funding’

US ‘Freezes Funding’ for White Helmets after Douma Chemical Attack Allegations Fall Apart

Local Editor

05-05-2018 | 08:18

The US State Department’s support for the White Helmets operating in Syria is “under active review,” a CBS News report said.

Hague

The group reportedly hasn’t received funding in weeks, but neither has it received formal confirmation that Washington’s financial assistance has come to a complete halt. This would mean a significant blow for the group, as the US money accounts for about one-third of the controversial group’s overall funding.

An internal State Department document cited by CBS said that its Near East Bureau needed confirmation from US President Donald Trump’s administration by April 15 in order to approve funding for the White Helmets. If that wasn’t received, the department would initiate “shut-down procedures on a rolling basis.”

The report comes amid major controversy surrounding the White Helmets, after residents of Douma, Syria, testified in The Hague at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW]. The hearing centered on the alleged chemical attack that was used as a justification for the April 14 strikes by the US, Britain, and France.

In a press conference following the hearing, hospital staff and 11-year-old Hassan Diab – who is seen in troubling White Helmets footage following the alleged attack – said there was no sign of a chemical incident at the time and that the White Helmets’ video with children was apparently staged.

The footage, which showed Diab and other children being hosed down with water, was the only publicly available “evidence” that the attack ever took place.

Still, Trump and his British and French counterparts deemed it sufficient proof to launch over 100 missiles on Syria on April 14, claiming that Syrian President Bashar Assad was behind the alleged attack.

The three allies were so keen to bomb Syria that they refused to wait for the results of an OPCW investigation before doing so.

Although the White Helmets says it acts solely as a makeshift emergency response team in a time of crisis, claiming to have heroically saved more than 70,000 lives in war-torn Syria, others disagree with its motives.

Footage from Syria repeatedly showed members of the White Helmets assisting terrorist groups, while multiple accounts from civilians suggested they only helped “their own” and used civilians caught in the battle only for publicity.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

US Department Of State Cuts Off Funding For Syria's White Helmets

US Department Of State Cuts Off Funding For Syria’s White Helmets

The US State Department freezed financing the White Helmets, which had been working in war-torn Syria, the US TV channel CBS reported on May 3.

According to CBS, the US government accounted for about a third of the overall funding of White Helmets. CBS stressed that “the US State Department said the support is ‘under active review,’” adding that the organization had not been receiving financial funds from Washington for several weeks already.

The leader of White Helmets Raed Saleh stated that there had been no signs of stopping the financing two months ago during the visit of the organization’s members to the US, CBS reported.

“Our meetings in March were very positive. There were even remarks from senior officials about long-term commitments even into 2020,” Saleh said.

“There were no suggestions whatsoever about stopping support.”

“Ultimately, this will negatively impact the humanitarian workers ability to save lives,” claimed the White Helmets official quoted by CBS.

CBS reported that the internal State Department document had said that its Near East Bureau had needed confirmation from the administration to green light funding for the White Helmets in Syria by April 15 or the department would initiate “shut-down procedures on a rolling basis.”  CBS stated that it had inquired, which programs had been still receiving funding and the date of its freezing, but the US State Department did not respond.

The fact over the freezing of the White Helmets seems to be interesting as this organization was one of the first to make allegations that there was a chemical weapon attack carried out by the Syrian government in Douma on April 7. Russia dismissed that as fake news. On April 9, the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of the Warring Sides examined Douma to find no traces of chemical weapons.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) visited two sites in Douma on April 21 and 25 collecting samples there. The results haven’t been provided yet.

UK to continue support of White Helmets in Syria: Foreign Office

The United Kingdom will continue to support the activities of the White Helmets organization in war-torn Syria, a Foreign Office spokesperson told Sputnik on Friday commenting on the reported suspension of assistance to the non-governmental group by Washington.

“The UK remains committed to supporting the White Helmets and the vital work they do, providing life-saving assistance to civilians affected by Syria’s conflict,” the spokesperson said.

 The statement was made in wake of the CBS report broadcasted on Thursday, saying that the US Department of State halted funding for the White Helmets in Syria. According to the media outlet, the US share in the funding of the group stands at about a third of its budget. The broadcaster added, citing a group representative, that provision of funds had stopped in recent weeks.

The situation in Syria significantly escalated, when the White Helmets, a Western-backed NGO, released a video showing alleged victims of the “chemical attack” in the city of Douma on April 7, which the US immediately blamed on the troops of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Damascus denied the allegations, while Moscow considered whole “attack” to be a false flag provocation carried out to justify the followed aggression against the country. Later Russian journalists found alleged victims of the “chemical attack”, who asserted they were forced into the staged video.

Source: Sputnik

John Bolton: A Madman on the National Security Council

A Madman on the National Security Council

by Matt Purple 

Would that John Bolton were only a clown. The mustachioed alleged diplomat, briefly of the Bush administration—and initially criticized as too controversial even for that team—has now been appointed national security advisor. That position will give him the president’s ear on matters of foreign policy, as well as control over which other administration principals enjoy such access. Donald Trump pledged that if elected he would be a different kind of Republican president, and he’s delivered: under the last GOP administration, Bolton occupied a slightly lower-ranking position than he does now.

Bolton is indeed no circus act: he’s one of the sharpest and most dangerous national security operatives in Washington. To take just one example, last summer, Trump made it known that he was considering pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, a campaign promise he wanted fulfilled but that had been discouraged by his then-secretary of state Rex Tillerson. Sensing an opportunity, Bolton wrote an essay for National Review explaining in breezy (i.e. Trump-digestible) terms just how to abrogate the agreement. The piece is chockablock with nonsense: at one point it claims sans any evidence that the Obama administration believed the JCPOA was “disadvantageous to the United States.” It also offers scant evidence to underpin its claim that Iran was in violation of the deal, an assertion that’s been repeatedly repudiated by the authorities at the IAEA. But the truth wasn’t the point: the piece was meant to water a seed in the president’s mind, to lend expert opinion to Trump’s burning preference that the JCPOA be reversed.

That Bolton did this shouldn’t surprise anyone because this is how Bolton works: shrewdly and always towards the goal of more war. As Gareth Porter detailed in a rigorously reported piece for TAC, during his tenure under Bush, Bolton maneuvered behind the scenes to pump up a pretext for conflict between the United States and Iran. Among his methods was to pretend that satellite images of a military base at Parchin demonstrated Iranian nuclear experimentation. That supposed smoking gun is cited to this day by neocons as proof of Iran’s atomic dreams.

What makes Bolton unique among hawkish operators is that he doesn’t feel the need to hide any of these machinations. The man wants to pulverize Tehran and he’s not afraid to say so. In 2015, Bolton wrote a piece for the New York Times subtly titled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” Never mind that the adverbial clause in that sentence had no definitive evidence in its favor; it was off to war because, as Bolton put it, “extensive progress in uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing reveal [Iran’s] ambitions” (imagine if that standard was applied universally). The coming operation, Bolton promised, would be akin to Operation Opera in 1981 when Israel destroyed a single Iraqi nuclear reactor, except that this one would take out multiple installations at Natanz and Fordow and Arak and Isfahan and…

The details never add up because they’re not supposed to. Bolton’s wheelhouse has never been the tactical nitty-gritty; he’s an ideologue whose credo dogmatizes violence against enemies regardless of consequences or cost. On the Iraq war, he declared in 2015, “I still think the decision to overthrow Saddam was correct.” On Libya, in 2011 before the Obama administration launched its calamitous intervention, Bolton recommended that the United States assassinate Moammar Gaddafi. On North Korea, he innocently suggested there was a “legal case” for a first strike. On Russia, you will not be surprised to learn that he thinks Trump needs to get tougher, including launching a cyber-attack that would be “decidedly disproportionate” to anything the Russians have done. He also thinks it’s time to revisit the “One-China Policy” that prevents us from antagonizing Beijing by recognizing an independent Taiwan.

There are all manner of vexatious wrinkles amidst those pronouncements. For instance, a foreign policy realist might note that the deposal of Iraq’s regime and the ascendance of Shiite power in Baghdad, which Bolton supported, greatly availed Iran, which Bolton detests. But again, such nuances are dwarfed by the big-picture concepts in which Bolton deals, like American Power and Dictatorships and Strength. Most foreign policy gurus, despite supporting generally hawkish policies, have at least disowned the war in Iraq and made some perfunctory efforts to adjust for its failures. Not Bolton, who is that most ludicrous of creatures: the unreconstructed Bush-era thinker. He belongs behind a glass display in the American History Museum, not enjoying a second wind at the apex of the federal bureaucracy.

But alas, the president himself has spoken. There are conditions to Bolton’s employment. CNN is reporting that Bolton promised Trump—quote—“he wouldn’t start any wars” if he became national security advisor, and surely that’s a promise he’ll keep. Bolton, after all, has never started (or fought in) a war in his life. What he will do is counsel Trump to take the most belligerent course of action possible in every given situation. Up first will be the Iran deal, which, with Bolton now at NSC and Mike Pompeo at State, seems certain to be the subject of a hardened stance from the White House, which will further isolate America from its allies, as the Europeans, more commercially entangled with Tehran than we are, decline to go along.

That brings us back to Trump, the insurgent who won the 2016 election pledging to repudiate the George W. Bush legacy and keep the United States out of foreign wars. It’s a show of both neocon strength and Trump impressionability that a mere year and a half later the most warmongering personality in Washington has already clambered all the way up to national security advisor. I’m new here at TAC, but I’m quickly learning that part of the arrangement is that we lose 100 battles for every one we win.

Matt Purple is managing editor of The American Conservative.

 

Poll Shows Americans Waking Up, Majority Now Suspects Unelected Shadow Govt in Charge

Source

Source: Matt Agorist

A recent poll shows that both parties are waking up to the unelected shadow government that forms policy in secret and spies on its own citizens.

According to a Monmouth University Poll that was released this week, the majority of Americans believes that a group of unelected government and military officials secretly manipulate the United State government from behind the scenes.

According to the poll, both democrats and republicans feel that there is a “deep state” faction that works in secrecy and exists to shape policy as well as spy on American citizens.

A majority of the American public believe that the U.S. government engages in widespread monitoring of its own citizens and worry that the U.S. government could be invading their own privacy. The Monmouth University Poll also finds a large bipartisan majority who feel that national policy is being manipulated or directed by a “Deep State” of unelected government officials. Americans of color on the center and left and NRA members on the right are among those most worried about the reach of government prying into average citizens’ lives.

Not only do the majority assert that there is indeed a deep state, but they also readily admit that they think the US government is actively engaged in surveillance against its own citizens. Again, illustrating the ominous nature of such a notion, party lines did not matter. The suspicion of the government violating the rights of its own citizens is bipartisan.

Fully 8-in-10 believe that the U.S. government currently monitors or spies on the activities of American citizens, including a majority (53%) who say this activity is widespread and another 29% who say such monitoring happens but is not widespread. Just 14% say this monitoring does not happen at all. There are no substantial partisan differences in these results.

“This is a worrisome finding. The strength of our government relies on public faith in protecting our freedoms, which is not particularly robust. And it’s not a Democratic or Republican issue. These concerns span the political spectrum,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

What’s more, only a small fraction of the people who were polled believe that this widespread 1984-style police state is justified. According to the poll, only 18% of Americans are asleep enough to believe that Uncle Sam watching their every move is warranted—a heartening statistic indeed.

This brings us to the question of why so many Americans feel that they are being spied on and controlled by shadow government officials who operate in secret?

The answer is quite simple: because it’s true!

As the torrent of Podesta emails from WikiLeaks exposed the crimes of the Clinton dynasty in 2016, the FBI followed up by releasing their own documents that were just as damning. Buried inside 100 pages of heavily redacted interview summaries from the FBI’s investigation into Clinton, Americans were exposed to a series of allegations that were nothing short of bombshell — documenting an ultra-secret, high-level group within the government, who were actually referred to as “The Shadow Government.”

This Shadow Government has long been kept in the dark realms of conspiracy theory. However, thanks to the efforts of WikiLeaks and the push by Americans for more transparency, the truth has now become stranger and even more corrupt than fiction.

With every action recorded, phone tapped, innocent family surveilled, right stripped, and citizen killed by their government, the term “Freedom” has become a mere symbolic representation of the brittle shell of America left behind after being gutted by unelected operatives in the deep state hell bent on total control and perpetual war.

Those who thought electing Donald Trump could somehow change this paradigm are slowly figuring out that no matter what puppet resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, those who lurk behind the scenes are the ones shaping US policy.

No matter how much you may disagree or even like Donald Trump, the idea of a secret and unelected government forcing change without the public’s consent behind the scenes should shock the conscience.

And now, after flip-flopping on promises not to start wars, not to attack state’s rights, not to go after the second amendment, and to expose Saudi Arabia’s crimes, it appears that Trump has simply become part of that very same apparatus.

Putin Trumps Trump

Eric Margolis

“(Putin) has neatly trumped Trump’s arms buildup and shown up Trump’s empty bullying.  So, for that matter, has North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. …

Russia’s new missiles and space gliders can outflank America’s anti-missile radars in Alaska and Romania, rendering them as useless as France’s Maginot Line.”

In December, 2002, President George W. Bush proclaimed that the US would unilaterally pull out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that had curtailed the development of nuclear missiles and anti-missile systems to defeat them.

The arrogant, dim-witted Bush believed that US space technology was advancing so rapidly that it would neutralize Russia’s force of ICBM missiles.  Bush was just a puppet.  The real power behind him was Vice President Dick Cheney, the leading neocon who sneered at Russia, dismissed it as a mere ‘gas-station,’ and was determined to see the US achieve global dominance.

In Cheney’s view, the ABM Treaty was holding the US back from this goal.  Bankrupt Moscow would never be able to stand up to the mighty USA.  Moscow warned that reneging on the ABM Treaty would re-ignite a ruinous arms race.  A then little known politician, Vladimir Putin, vowed that Russia would never bend its knee to the US nuclear colossus.

This week, President Putin stunned the world by revealing a new arsenal of nuclear-armed weapons that have stolen a march on Washington and left the warlike President Donald Trump looking foolish.Russia’s new arms include the RS-28 heavy ICBM, called ‘Satan 2’ by NATO.  This big brute of a liquid fueled missile can carry up to ten nuclear warheads over 10,000 km (6,000 miles).  What makes it very different from other ICBM’s is its ability (Russia claims) to carry nuclear-armed hypersonic vehicles through low earth orbit that can attack North America from multiple directions unseen by the radars of anti-missile systems.

President Putin also revealed a new nuclear-armed cruise missile propelled by a miniature nuclear engine that can stay aloft for very long periods and fly over Latin America and the South Pole to attack North America from the south.  The US has been trying to develop such a nuclear engine since the late 1950’s, but with no success.  During the corrupt Yeltsin era, the Kremlin accepted huge amounts of cash bribes to sell a miniaturized reactor to the Americans designed to power ocean surveillance satellites.

This miniature reactor will also power Russia’s new unmanned submarine which can carry a very large nuclear explosive – even up to 25 megatons – to the North American coasts or US aircraft carrier groups.

Putin also unveiled a new hypersonic glider deployed from space (the US and China have been working on one, so far unsuccessfully), and an aircraft launched Mach-10 missile called ‘Kinzhal’ after the deadly dagger carried by Caucasian mountaineers.  And, on top of this, a combat laser system that is being deployed.  The US has been working on one since the Vietnam War.

All this is a bombshell.  Maybe Putin was boasting and exaggerating, but he usually tells the truth, unlike our politicians, and rarely embellishes.   As he said in his speech, ‘nobody wanted to listen to us,’ referring to Moscow’s failed attempted to restore a strategic arms agreement, cut nuclear forces and lower tensions with the West. ‘Now,’ said Putin, ‘you listen.’But will Washington listen? Trump has just announced a huge modernization of America’s nuclear forces and a big increase in the military budget from $634 billion to $716 billion, with an additional $69 billion to fund ‘foreign wars.’   The real US military budget is close to $1 trillion (that’s 1,000 billion), not including the US intelligence budget which is larger that Russia’s entire annual defense budget, a meager $42.3 billion.

Washington’s war party has convinced itself that Russia can be intimidated and once again spent into the ground.  But Vladimir Putin is too smart and deft to allow this to happen.  He has neatly trumped Trump’s arms buildup and shown up Trump’s empty bullying.  So, for that matter, has North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

One hopes Washington’s deep government that has been promoting a run-up to war with Russia in the Mideast, Ukraine, Baltic and Black Sea will be sufficiently sobered by Putin’s show this week.  They should be.  The multiple warheads on one new RS-28 missile could destroy Texas or France.  Russia’s new missiles and space gliders can outflank America’s anti-missile radars in Alaska and Romania, rendering them as useless as France’s Maginot Line.

War must never, ever be allowed to occur with Russia and China and the United States.  Will we risk the life of the planet over a stupid quarrel over some one-tractor town in Ukraine or a Syrian village no one has ever heard of?  Yes, if the neocons have their way

Hollywood’s Dangerous Afghan Illusion: “Charlie Wilson’s War”. Legacy of the late Robert Parry

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Robert Parry, editor and publisher of Consortiumnews.com, passed away on January 27th.

The Global Research team pays tribute to Robert Parry and his unwavering commitment to independent and honest journalism. His legacy will live.

On January 1st, I sent a short note to Robert Parry. Today our thoughts are with Robert Parry and his family. 

Robert Parry was a powerful voice, incisive in his analysis of complex foreign policy issues, with a longstanding commitment to peace and social justice.  

To consult  The Robert Parry Archive of articles posted on GR, click here. 

Below is Robert Parry’s incisive and timely April 2013 article on Hollywood’s slanted interpretation of the Soviet Afghan war.  The US supported “Freedom Fighters” were Al Qaeda. The Afghan Mujahideen were jihadist mercenaries recruited by the CIA. It was all for a good cause: destabilize a progressive secular government, occupy and destroy Afghanistan, undermine the Soviet Union.

“Reagan’s pet “freedom fighters” in Afghanistan as in Nicaragua were tainted by the drug trade as well as by well-documented cases of torture, rape and murder.”

Robert Parry’s Legacy is Truth in Media!  

At this juncture in our history during which independent media is threatened, Robert Parry lives in our hearts and minds. 

Michel Chossudovsky, January 29, 2018

**

A newly discovered document undercuts a key storyline of the anti-Soviet Afghan war of the 1980s – that it was “Charlie Wilson’s War.” A note inside Ronald Reagan’s White House targeted the Texas Democrat as someone “to bring into circle as discrete Hill connection,” Robert Parry reports.

Official Washington’s conventional wisdom about Afghanistan derives to a dangerous degree from a Hollywood movie, “Charlie Wilson’s War,” which depicted the anti-Soviet war of the 1980s as a fight pitting good “freedom fighters” vs. evil “occupiers” and which blamed Afghanistan’s later descent into chaos on feckless U.S. politicians quitting as soon as Soviet troops left in 1989.

The Tom Hanks movie also pushed the theme that the war was really the pet project of a maverick Democratic congressman from Texas, Charlie Wilson, who fell in love with the Afghan mujahedeen after falling in love with a glamorous Texas oil woman, Joanne Herring, who was committed to their anti-communist cause.

However, “Charlie Wilson’s War” – like many Hollywood films – took extraordinary license with the facts, presenting many of the war’s core elements incorrectly. That in itself might not be a serious problem, except that key U.S. policymakers have cited these mythical “facts” as lessons to guide the current U.S. military occupation of Afghanistan.

The degree to which Ronald Reagan’s White House saw Wilson as more puppet than puppet-master is underscored by a newly discovered document at Reagan’s presidential library in Simi Valley, California. I found the document in the files of former CIA propaganda chief Walter Raymond Jr., who in the 1980s oversaw the selling of U.S. interventions in Central America and Afghanistan from his office at the National Security Council.

The handwritten note to Raymond appears to be initialed by then-National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane and instructs Raymond to recruit Wilson into the Reagan administration’s effort to drum up more Afghan war money for the fiscal 1985 budget. The note reads:

“Walt, Go see Charlie Wilson (D-TX). Seek to bring him into circle as discrete Hill connection. He can be very helpful in getting money. M.” (The notation may have used the wrong adjective, possibly intending ”discreet,” meaning circumspect and suggesting a secretive role, not “discrete,” meaning separate and distinct.)

Raymond appears to have followed up those instructions, as Wilson began to play a bigger and bigger role in unleashing the great Afghan spending spree of 1985 and as Raymond asserted himself behind the scenes on how the war should be sold to the American people.

Raymond, a 30-year veteran of CIA clandestine services, was a slight, soft-spoken New Yorker who reminded some of a character from a John le Carre spy novel, an intelligence officer who “easily fades into the woodwork,” according to one Raymond acquaintance. But his CIA career took a dramatic turn in 1982 when he was reassigned to the NSC.

At the time, the White House saw a need to step up its domestic propaganda operations in support of President Reagan’s desire to intervene more aggressively in Central America and Afghanistan. The American people – still stung by the agony of the Vietnam War – were not eager to engage in more foreign adventures.

So, Reagan’s team took aim at “kicking the Vietnam Syndrome” mostly by wildly exaggerating the Soviet threat. It became crucial to convince Americans that the Soviets were on the rise and on the march, though in reality the Soviets were on the decline and eager for accommodations with the West.

Yet, as deputy assistant secretary to the Air Force, J. Michael Kelly, put it, “the most critical special operations mission we have … is to persuade the American people that the communists are out to get us.”

The main focus of the administration’s domestic propaganda was on Central America where Reagan was arming right-wing military juntas engaged in anti-leftist extermination campaigns. Through the CIA, Reagan also was organizing a drug-tainted terrorist operation known as the Contras to overthrow Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista government.

To hide the ugly realities and to overcome popular opposition to the policies, Reagan granted CIA Director William Casey extraordinary leeway to engage in CIA-style propaganda and disinformation aimed at the American people, the sort of project normally reserved for hostile countries. To oversee the operation – while skirting legal bans on the CIA operating domestically – Casey moved Raymond from the CIA to the NSC staff.

Raymond formally resigned from the CIA in April 1983 so, he said, “there would be no question whatsoever of any contamination of this.” But from the beginning, Raymond fretted about the legality of Casey’s involvement. Raymond confided in one memo that it was important “to get [Casey] out of the loop,” but Casey never backed off and Raymond continued to send progress reports to his old boss well into 1986.

It was “the kind of thing which [Casey] had a broad catholic interest in,” Raymond shrugged during a deposition given to congressional Iran-Contra investigators in 1987. Raymond offered the excuse that Casey undertook this apparently illegal interference in domestic politics “not so much in his CIA hat, but in his adviser to the president hat.”

Raymond also understood that the administration’s hand in the P.R. projects must stay hidden, because of other legal bans on executive-branch propaganda. “The work down within the administration has to, by definition, be at arms length,” Raymond noted in an Aug. 29, 1983, memo.

As one NSC official told me, the campaign was modeled after CIA covert operations abroad where a political goal is more important than the truth. “They were trying to manipulate [U.S.] public opinion … using the tools of Walt Raymond’s trade craft which he learned from his career in the CIA covert operation shop,” the official said.

From the NSC, Raymond organized inter-agency task forces to bombard the U.S. public with hyped-up propaganda about the Soviet threat in Central America and in Afghanistan. Raymond’s goal was to change the way Americans viewed these dangers, a process that the Reagan administration internally called “perception management.”

Scores of documents about this operation were released during the Iran-Contra scandal in 1987, but Washington-based journalists never paid much attention to the evidence about how they had been manipulated by these propaganda tactics, which included rewarding cooperative reporters with government-sponsored “leaks” and punishing those who wouldn’t parrot the lies with whispering campaigns in the ears of their editors and bureau chiefs. [See Robert Parry’s Lost History.]

Even after the Iran-Contra scandal was exposed in 1986 and Casey died of brain cancer in 1987, the Republicans fought to keep secret the remarkable story of this propaganda apparatus. As part of a deal to get three moderate Republican senators to join Democrats in signing the Iran-Contra report, Democratic leaders dropped a draft chapter on the CIA’s domestic propaganda role.

Thus, the American people were spared the chapter’s troubling conclusion: that a covert propaganda apparatus had existed, run by “one of the CIA’s most senior specialists, sent to the NSC by Bill Casey, to create and coordinate an inter-agency public-diplomacy mechanism [which] did what a covert CIA operation in a foreign country might do. [It] attempted to manipulate the media, the Congress and public opinion to support the Reagan administration’s policies.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Iran-Contra’s Lost Chapter.”]

Raping Russians

Hiding the unspeakable realities of the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan was almost as high a priority as concealing the U.S.-backed slaughter in Central America. Reagan’s pet “freedom fighters” in Afghanistan as in Nicaragua were tainted by the drug trade as well as by well-documented cases of torture, rape and murder.

Yet, Raymond and his propagandists were always looking for new ways to “sell” the wars to the American people, leading to a clash with CIA officer Gust Avrakotos, who was overseeing the Afghan conflict and who had developed his own close ties to Rep. Charlie Wilson.

According to author George Crile, whose book Charlie Wilson’s War provided a loose framework for the movie of the same name, Avrakotos clashed with Raymond and other senior Reagan administration officials when they proposed unrealistic propaganda themes regarding Afghanistan.

One of Raymond’s ideas was to get some Russian soldiers to “defect” and then fly them from Afghanistan to Washington where they would renounce communism. The problem, as Avrakotos explained, was that the Afghan mujahedeen routinely tortured and then murdered any Soviet soldier who fell into their hands, except for a few who were kept around for anal rape.

“For Avrakotos, 1985 was a year of right-wing craziness,” Crile wrote. “A band of well-placed anti-Communist enthusiasts in the administration had come up with a plan they believed would bring down the Red Army, if the CIA would only be willing to implement it. The leading advocates of this plan included Richard Perle at the Pentagon. … [NSC aide] Oliver North also checked in briefly, but the man who set Avrakotos’s teeth on edge most was Walt Raymond, another NSC staffer who had spent twenty years with the CIA as a propagandist.

“Their idea was to encourage Soviet officers and soldiers to defect to the mujahideen. As Avrakotos derisively describes it, ‘The muj were supposed to set up loudspeakers in the mountains announcing such things as “Lay down your arms, there is a passage to the West and to freedom.”’ Once news of this program made its way through the Red Army, it was argued, there would be a flood of defectors. …

“Avrakotos thought North and Perle were ‘cuckoos of the Far Right,’ and he soon felt quite certain that Raymond, the man who seemed to be the intellectual ringleader, was truly detached from reality. ‘What Russian in his right mind would defect to those fuckers all armed to the teeth,’ Avrakotos said in frustration. ‘To begin with, anyone defecting to the Dushman would have to be a crook, a thief or someone who wanted to get cornholed every day, because nine out of ten prisoners were dead within twenty-four hours and they were always turned into concubines by the mujahideen. I felt so sorry for them I wanted to have them all shot.’

“The meeting [with Raymond’s team] went very badly indeed. Gust [Avrakotos] accused North and Perle of being idiots. … Avrakotos said to Walt Raymond, ‘You know, Walt, you’re just a fucking asshole, you’re irrelevant.’”

However, as Crile wrote, Avrakotos “greatly underestimated the political power and determination of the group, who went directly to [CIA Director] Bill Casey to angrily protest Avrakotos’s insulting manner. The director complained to [CIA operations official] Clair George, who responded by forbidding Avrakotos to attend any more interagency meetings without a CIA nanny present. …

“Avrakotos arrived for one of these White House sessions armed with five huge photographic blowups. … One of them showed two Russian sergeants being used as concubines. Another had a Russian hanging from the turret of a tank with a vital part of his anatomy removed. … ‘If you were a sane fucking Russian, would you defect to these people?’ he had demanded of Perle.

“But the issue wouldn’t go away. Perle, Raymond, and the others continued to insist that the Agency find and send back to the United States the many Russian defectors they seemed to believe, despite Avrakotos’s denials, the mujahideen were harboring. …

“It had been almost impossible to locate two prisoners, much less two defectors. The CIA found itself in the preposterous position of having to pony up $50,000 to bribe the Afghans to deliver two live ones. ‘These two guys were basket cases,’ says Avrakotos. ‘One had been fucked so many times he didn’t know what was going on.’”

Despite this knowledge about the true nature of the Afghan “freedom fighters,” the Reagan administration – and the “Charlie Wilson’s War” moviemakers – concealed from the American people the inhuman brutality of the jihadists who were receiving billions of dollars in U.S. and Saudi largesse. The movie depicted the Soviet soldiers as sadistic monsters and the mujahedeen as noble warriors, just as Ronald Reagan and Walter Raymond would have wanted. (Raymond died in 2003; Reagan in 2004; the movie appeared in 2007.)

But the Reagan administration did calculate correctly that Wilson from his key position on a House Appropriations defense subcommittee could open the spigot on funding for the Afghan muj.

Learning Wrong Lessons

While it’s not unusual for Hollywood to produce a Cold War propaganda film, what was different about “Charlie Wilson’s War” was how it was treated by Official Washington as something close to a documentary. That attitude was somewhat a tribute to the likeable Tom Hanks who portrayed the womanizing and hard-drinking Charlie Wilson.

Yet, perhaps the biggest danger in viewing the movie as truth was its treatment of why the anti-Soviet jihad led to Afghanistan becoming home to the Taliban and Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorists in the 1990s. The movie pushed the myth that the United States abruptly abandoned Afghanistan as soon as the Soviet troops left on Feb. 15, 1989.

All across Official Washington, pundits and policymakers have embraced the lesson that the United States must not make that “mistake” again – and thus must leave behind a sizeable force of U.S. troops.

For instance, the New York Times’ lead editorial on May 1, 2012, criticized President Barack Obama for not explaining how he would prevent Afghanistan from imploding after the scheduled U.S. troop withdrawal in 2014, though the Times added that the plan’s “longer-term commitment [of aid] sends an important message to Afghans that Washington will not abandon them as it did after the Soviets were driven out.”

The abandonment myth also has been cited by senior Obama administration officials, including U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, as they explained the rise of the Taliban in the mid-1990s and al-Qaeda’s use of Afghanistan for plotting the 9/11 attacks on the United States in 2001.

In late 2009, Defense Secretary Gates reprised this phony conventional wisdom, telling reporters: “We will not repeat the mistakes of 1989, when we abandoned the country only to see it descend into civil war and into Taliban hands.” However, that narrative was based on a faux reality drawn from a fictional movie.

Gates knew the real history. After all, in 1989, he was deputy national security adviser under President George H.W. Bush when the key decisions were made to continue covert U.S. aid to the mujahedeen, not cut it off.

The truth was that the end game in Afghanistan was messed up not because the United States cut the mujahedeen off but because Washington pressed for a clear-cut victory, rebuffing Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s proposals for a power-sharing arrangement. And we know that Gates knows this reality because he recounted it in his 1996 memoir, From the Shadows.

The Real History

Here’s what that history actually shows: In 1988, Gorbachev promised to remove Soviet troops from Afghanistan and sought a negotiated settlement. He hoped for a unity government that would include elements of Afghan President Najibullah’s Soviet-backed regime in Kabul and the CIA-backed Islamic fundamentalist rebels.

Gates, who in 1988 was deputy CIA director, opposed Gorbachev’s plan, disbelieving that the Soviets would really depart and insisting that – if they did – the CIA’s mujahedeen could quickly defeat Najibullah’s army.

Inside the Reagan administration, Gates’s judgment was opposed by State Department analysts who foresaw a drawn-out struggle. Deputy Secretary of State John Whitehead and the department’s intelligence chief Morton Abramowitz warned that Najibullah’s army might hold on longer than the CIA expected.

But Gates prevailed in the policy debates, pushing the CIA’s faith in its mujahedeen clients and expecting a rapid Najibullah collapse if the Soviets left. In the memoir, Gates recalled briefing Secretary of State George Shultz and his senior aides on the CIA’s predictions prior to Shultz flying to Moscow in February 1988.

“I told them that most [CIA] analysts did not believe Najibullah’s government could last without active Soviet military support,” wrote Gates.

After the Soviets did withdraw in February 1989 – proving Gates wrong on that point – some U.S. officials felt Washington’s geostrategic aims had been achieved and a move toward peace was in order. There also was mounting concern about the Afghan mujahedeen, especially their tendencies toward brutality, heroin trafficking and fundamentalist religious practices.

However, the new administration of George H.W. Bush – with Gates moving from the CIA to the White House as deputy national security adviser – rebuffed Gorbachev and chose to continue U.S. covert support for the mujahedeen, aid which was being funneled primarily through Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the ISI.

At the time, I was a Newsweek national security correspondent and asked my CIA contacts why the U.S. government didn’t just collect its winnings from the Soviet withdrawal and agree to some kind of national-unity government in Kabul that could end the war and bring some stability to the country. One of the CIA hardliners responded to my question with disgust. “We want to see Najibullah strung up by a light pole,” he snarled.

Back in Afghanistan, Najibullah’s regime defied the CIA’s expectation of a rapid collapse, using Soviet weapons and advisers to beat back a mujahedeen offensive in 1990. As Najibullah hung on, the war, the violence and the disorder continued.

Gates finally recognized that his CIA analysis had been wrong. In his memoir, he wrote: “As it turned out, Whitehead and Abramowitz were right” in their warning that Najibullah’s regime might not fall quickly. Gates’s memoir also acknowledged that the U.S. government did not abandon Afghanistan immediately after the Soviet departure.

“Najibullah would remain in power for another three years [after the Soviet pull-out], as the United States and the USSR continued to aid their respective sides,” Gates wrote. Indeed, Moscow’s and Washington’s supplies continued to flow until several months after the Soviet Union collapsed in summer 1991, according to Gates.

Crile’s Account

And other U.S. assistance continued even longer, according to Crile’s Charlie Wilson’s War. In the book, Crile described how Wilson kept the funding spigot open for the Afghan rebels not only after the Soviet departure in 1989 but even after the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991.

Eventually, the mujahedeen did capture the strategic city of Khost, but turned it into a ghost town as civilians fled or faced the mujahedeen’s fundamentalist fury. Western aid workers found themselves “following the liberators in a desperate attempt to persuade them not to murder and pillage,” Crile wrote.

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Robert Oakley began to wonder who were the worse bad guys, the Soviet-backed communists or the U.S.-supported mujahedeen.

“It was the leaders of the Afghan puppet government who were saying all the right things, even paying lip service to democratic change,” Crile reported. “The mujahideen, on the other hand, were committing unspeakable atrocities and couldn’t even put aside their bickering and murderous thoughts long enough to capture Kabul.”

In 1991, as the Soviet Union careened toward its final crackup, the Senate Intelligence Committee approved nothing for Afghanistan, Crile wrote. “But no one could just turn off Charlie Wilson’s war like that,” Crile noted. “For Charlie Wilson, there was something fundamentally wrong with his war ending then and there. He didn’t like the idea of the United States going out with a whimper.”

Wilson made an impassioned appeal to the House Intelligence Committee and carried the day. The committee first considered a $100 million annual appropriation, but Wilson got them to boost it to $200 million, which – with the Saudi matching funds – totaled $400 million, Crile reported.

“And so, as the mujahideen were poised for their thirteenth year of war, instead of being cut off, it turned out to be a banner year,” Crile wrote. “They found themselves with not only a $400 million budget but also with a cornucopia of new weaponry sources that opened up when the United States decided to send the Iraqi weapons captured during the Gulf War to the mujahideen.”

But even then the Afghan rebels needed an external event to prevail on the battlefield, the stunning disintegration of the Soviet Union in the latter half of 1991. Only then did Moscow cut off its aid to Najibullah. His government finally fell in 1992. But its collapse didn’t stop the war – or the mujahedeen infighting.

The capital of Kabul came under the control of a relatively moderate rebel force led by Ahmad Shah Massoud, an Islamist but not a fanatic. However, Massoud, a Tajik, was not favored by Pakistan’s ISI, which backed more extreme Pashtun elements of the mujahedeen.

Rival Afghan warlords battled with each other for another four years destroying much of Kabul. Finally, a disgusted Washington began to turn away. Crile reported that the Cross Border Humanitarian Aid Program, which was the only sustained U.S. program aimed at rebuilding Afghanistan, was cut off at the end of 1993, almost five years after the Soviets left.

Rise of the Taliban

While chaos continued to reign across Afghanistan, the ISI readied its own army of Islamic extremists drawn from Pashtun refugee camps inside Pakistan. This group, known as the Taliban, entered Afghanistan with the promise of restoring order.

The Taliban seized the capital of Kabul in September 1996, driving Massoud into a northward retreat. The ousted communist leader Najibullah, who had stayed in Kabul, sought shelter in the United Nations compound, but was captured. The Taliban tortured, castrated and killed him, his mutilated body hung from a light pole – just as the CIA hardliner had wished seven years earlier.

The triumphant Taliban imposed harsh Islamic law on Afghanistan. Their rule was especially cruel to women who had made gains toward equal rights under the communists, but were forced by the Taliban to live under highly restrictive rules, to cover themselves when in public, and to forgo schooling.

The Taliban also granted refuge to Saudi exile Osama bin Laden, who had fought with the Afghan mujahedeen against the Soviets in the 1980s. Bin Laden then used Afghanistan as the base of operations for his terrorist organization, al-Qaeda, setting the stage for the next Afghan War in 2001.

So, the real history is quite different from the Hollywood version that Official Washington has absorbed as its short-hand understanding of the anti-Soviet Afghan war of the 1980s.

The newly discovered document about bringing Charlie Wilson into the White House “circle as discrete Hill connection” suggests that even the impression that it was “Charlie Wilson’s War” may have been more illusion than reality. Though Wilson surely became a true believer in the CIA’s largest covert action of the Cold War, Reagan’s White House team appears to have viewed him as a useful Democratic front man who would be “very helpful in getting money.”

Most significantly, the mythology – enshrined in the movie and embraced by the policymakers – obscured the key lessons of the 1980s: the dangerous futility of trying to impose a Western or military solution on Afghanistan as well as the need to explore negotiation and compromise even when dealing with unsavory foes. It wasn’t the mythical U.S. “abandonment” of Afghanistan in February 1989 that caused the devastation of the past two decades, but rather the uncompromising policies of the Reagan-Bush-41 administrations.

First, there was the ascendance of propaganda over truth. The U.S. government was well aware of the gross human rights crimes of the Afghan “muj” but still sold them as honorable “freedom fighters” to the American people. Second, there was the triumphalism of Gates and other war hawks, who insisted on rubbing Moscow’s nose in its Afghan defeat and thus blocked cooperation on a negotiated settlement which held out the promise of a less destructive outcome.

Those two factors – the deceit and the hubris – set the stage for the 9/11 attacks in 2001, a renewed Afghan War bogging down tens of thousands of U.S. troops, America’s disastrous detour into Iraq, and now a costly long-term U.S. commitment to Afghanistan that is expected to last at least until 2024. With a distorted account of “Charlie Wilson’s War,” Tom Hanks and Hollywood didn’t help.

[For a limited time, you can purchase Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush family for only $34. For details, click here.]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

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