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Robert Parry. Do We Really Want Nuclear War with Russia?

Robert Parry



Robert Parry (born June 24, 1949) is an American investigative journalist best known for his role in covering the Iran-Contra affair for the Associated Press (AP) and Newsweek, including breaking the Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare (CIA manual provided to the Nicaraguan contras) and the CIA and Contras cocaine trafficking in the US scandal in 1985. He was awarded the George Polk Award for National Reporting in 1984 and the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence by Harvard's Nieman Foundation in 2015. He has been the editor of Consortiumnews since 1995. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Parry_(journalist))



Do We Really Want Nuclear War with Russia?


Special Report: The U.S. propaganda war against Russia is spinning out of control, rolling ever faster downhill with a dangerous momentum that threatens to drive the world into a nuclear showdown, reports Robert Parry.


By Robert Parry

October 3, 2016


Through an endless barrage of ugly propaganda, the U.S. government and the mainstream American press have put the world o­n course for a potential nuclear showdown with Russia, an existential risk that has been undertaken cavalierly amid bizarre expressions of self-righteousness from Western institutions.

This extraordinarily dangerous moment reflects the insistence of the Establishment in Washington that it should continue to rule the world and that it will not broach the possibility of other nations asserting their own national interests even in their own neighborhoods.

Rather than adjust to a new multi-polar world, the powers-that-be in Washington have deployed a vast array of propaganda assets that are financed or otherwise encouraged to escalate an information war so aggressively that Russia is reading this o­nslaught of insults as the conditioning of the Western populations for a world war.


While that may not be the intention of President Obama, who in his recent United Nations address acknowledged the risks from imposing uni-polar order o­n the world, a powerful bureaucratic machinery is in place to advance U.S. propaganda goals. It is operating o­n a crazed auto-pilot hurtling toward destruction but beyond anyones ability to turn it off.

This machinery consists not just of outlets and activists funded by U.S. tax dollars via the National Endowment for Democracy or the U.S. Agency for International Development or NATOs Strategic Communications Command, but like-minded human rights entities paid for by billionaire currency speculator George Soros or controlled by neoconservative ideologues who now run major U.S. newspapers, such as The Washington Post and The New York Times.

This propaganda apparatus now has so many specialized features that you get supposedly progressive and anti-war organizations promoting a major U.S. invasion of Syria under the guise of sweet-sounding policies like no-fly zones and safe zones, the same euphemisms that were used as the gateway to bloody regime change wars in Iraq and Libya.


There exists what intelligence veterans call a Mighty Wurlitzer, an organ with so many keys and pedals that its hard to know where all the sounds come from that make up the powerful harmony, all building to the same crescendo. But that crescendo may now be war with nuclear-armed Russia, which finds in all this demonizing the prelude to either a destabilization campaign aimed at regime change in Moscow or outright war.

Yet, the West cant seem to muster the sanity or the honesty to begin toning down or even showing skepticism toward the escalating charges aimed at Russia. We saw similar patterns in the run-up to war in Iraq in 2002-2003 and in justifying the ouster, torture and murder of Libyas Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Western propaganda also has enveloped the conflict in Syria to such an extent that the American people dont understand that the U.S. government and its regional allies have been supporting and arming jihadist groups fighting under the command of Al Qaeda and even the Islamic State. The propaganda has focused o­n demonizing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while downplaying or ignoring the real nature of the moderate opposition.


Taking Aim at Putin

In many ways, the Western insistence o­n regime change in Syria ties in directly to the extraordinary escalation of that strategy to seek regime change in Russia. In August-September 2013, Americas neocons and liberal war hawks were salivating over the prospect of a U.S. military bombing campaign to devastate Assads army as punishment for his alleged role in a sarin gas attack outside Damascus.

Although the intelligence was weak regarding Assads guilt and subsequent evidence has pointed to a likely provocation by radical jihadists using home-made sarin and a jerry-rigged rocket Official Washington was rubbing its hands at the prospect of a retaliatory bombing operation that would punish Assad and advance the cause of regime change.


At the last minute, however, President Obama listened to the doubts from his intelligence advisers and rejected what he later called the Washington playbook of a military response to a complex problem. To the annoyance of Washington insiders, Obama then collaborated with President Putin in a diplomatic settlement in which Syria surrendered all its chemical weapons while still denying any role in the sarin attack. Obama was accused of weakness for not enforcing his red line against chemical weapons use.

The despair over Obamas failure to bomb the Syrian government and open the path for a long-desired regime change in Damascus led to a search for other villains, the most obvious o­ne being Putin, who then became the focus of neocon determination to make him share their pain and disappointment.


National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman took to the op-ed page of The Washington Post in late September 2013 to declare that Ukraine was now the biggest prize and represented an important interim step toward eventually toppling Putin in Russia.

Gershman, who is essentially a neocon paymaster dispensing $100 million a year in U.S. taxpayers money to activists, journalists and various other operatives, wrote: Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself o­n the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.

Within weeks, U.S. neocons including Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and Sen. John McCain were encouraging right-wing Ukrainian nationalists to overthrow Ukraines elected President Viktor Yanukovych, a coup accomplished o­n Feb. 22, 2014, touching off a civil war between Ukraines west and east.


As part of that Western propaganda barrage, the Ukraine coup ousting the elected president was hailed as a victory for democracy and Yanukovychs supporters in the south and east who resisted this imposition of illegitimate authority in Kiev became the target of a U.S.-backed Anti-Terrorism Operation or ATO.

Led by The New York Times and The Washington Post, the Western media fell in line behind the preferred narrative that there was no coup, that there were no neo-Nazis spearheading the non-coup (or maybe just a few), that the Heavenly Hundred who died in the putsch against Yanukovych had given their lives for Ukraines freedom even though some of the heavenly inconveniently were neo-Nazi street fighters, part of a paramilitary force that had killed some 16 police officers.


Killing Terrorists

Given the Wests pro-coup propaganda themes, it became necessary to justify the thousands of eastern Ukrainians slaughtered in the ATO as the killing of terrorists or Russian stooges, getting what they deserved. The 96 percent vote in Crimeas referendum to reunify with Russia had to be a sham since the Wests narrative held that the Ukrainian people were thrilled with the putsch, so the Crimeans must have voted that way at Russian gunpoint.

The explanation of Crimeas secession from Ukraine was that Russia invaded and annexed Crimea although there were no images of an invasion(no tanks crossing Crimeas borders, no amphibious landings, no paratroopers descending from the sky because Russian troops were already in Crimea as part of a basing agreement and helped protect Crimeas inhabitants so they could hold their vote which did represent their desires).


Because the Western propaganda insisted that the new authorities in Kiev were wearing white hats, the Russians had to be fitted with black hats. Every bad thing that happened was automatically Putins fault. So, when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine o­n July 17, 2014, the Wests propaganda machinery whirred into action, blaming Russia for supposedly giving the ethnic Russian rebels powerful Buk anti-aircraft missiles.

The propaganda momentum was so strong by then that there was no Western support for Russias request for a United Nations investigation. Instead the inquiry was largely turned over to the torture-implicated Ukrainian intelligence service, the SBU, upon which the Dutch and Australians, the other two principal members, became increasingly dependent (by their own admissions). Belgium and Malaysia played lesser roles.


The Joint Investigation Committee (JIT) considered no serious alternatives to the Russians and the rebels being responsible. For instance, when the JIT released its report o­n Sept. 28, 2016, there was no explanation offered for why Dutch intelligence (i.e. NATO intelligence) had concluded that the o­nly missile systems in eastern Ukraine o­n July 17, 2014, capable of shooting down MH-17 were controlled by the Ukrainian military. The JIT report was silent about where those Ukrainian Buk missile systems were at the time of the shoot-down.

Its also a bit of a misnomer to describe the JITs findings as a report since they were really expressed in a series of videos featuring computer-generated graphics supposedly showing a Russian Buk crew driving around Ukraine, mixed in with a few photos from social media of a Buk convoy.


Key to the JITs findings were phone intercepts provided by the SBU and assembled to reinforce the impression of Russian guilt. The problem, however, was that except for o­ne intercept in which someone said hed like to have Buks, the word Buk is not mentioned; nor the word missiles; nor the word aircraft; nor any discussion about shooting down a plane. That was all supposition with an authoritative narrator filling in the gaps.


Ignoring Contrary Evidence

The JIT also ignored evidence that contradicted its conclusions, such as other intercepts reporting that a Ukrainian convoy had penetrated close to the eastern city of Luhansk. The significance of that revelation is that it confirms a point that has been largely ignored, that the Ukrainian military could move almost at will across rebel-controlled territory. The notion that the Ukrainian civil war was like World War I with fixed trench lines was simply a fallacy.

The JIT also had to impose a bizarre route for the Russian Buk battery to follow o­n its way to the supposed firing location south of the remote eastern town of Snizhne. Because the social media photos show the Buk convoy heading east toward Russia, not west from Russia, the JIT had to map out a journey that ignored a simple, direct and discreet route from the Russian border to Snizhhe in favor of a trip more than twice as long roaming around eastern Ukraine all the way to Donetsk before turning eastward past a number of heavily populated areas where the Buk convoy, supposedly o­n a highly secret mission, could be photographed.


The alleged firing location also conflicts with the alleged reason for the Russians taking the extraordinary risk of introducing a Buk system that it was needed to defend rebel soldiers then fighting mostly in the north against Ukrainian troops and aircraft. For that purpose, the positioning of a Buk battery far to the southeast makes little sense, nor does the decision for a Russian Buk crew to shoot down a commercial airliner flying at 33,000 feet.

JITs account of the post-crash exfiltration of the Buk convoy back to Russia also is curious, since again the shortest, easiest and least populated route was ignored in favor of o­ne that went far to the north past Luhansk, the alleged site of the supposed getaway video (although the supposed location of the getaway video was misplaced by Western media groups trying to pin the blame o­n Russia).


The confirmed parts of the Buk convoys route, i.e., along highways east of Donetsk, would fit better with a scenario that, Im told, received serious consideration from U.S. intelligence analysts, that a Ukrainian Buk system under the control of a rogue military unit loyal to a fiercely anti-Putin oligarch traveled east into what was considered rebel-controlled territory to fire o­n what was hoped to be Putins official plane returning from a state visit to South America, i.e. to kill Putin.

A source briefed by these analysts said the missile was fired despite the units doubt that the plane was Putins. Although its unclear to me exactly what the U.S. intelligence consensus ultimately turned out to be o­n MH-17 (since I have been refused official updates), there would be logic in a Ukrainian hardliner staging such an audacious missile attack deep inside rebel territory, since any assassination of Putin would have to be explained as an accidental attack by his own allies, i.e., the ultimate case of Putin being hoisted o­n his own petard.


To evaluate which scenario makes more sense that the Russians dispatched a Buk missile battery o­n a wild ride across eastern Ukraine or that a Ukrainian Buk battery penetrated into supposedly rebel-controlled territory with the intent of attacking a civilian plane (although not MH-17) it would be crucial to have an explanation of where the Ukrainian Buk batteries were located o­n July 17, 2014.


Silence o­n Dutch Intelligence

Some of the Russia-did-it crowd have dismissed claims that Ukrainian Buk systems were in the area as Russian disinformation, but their presence was confirmed by a report from the Dutch intelligence service, MIVD, relying o­n NATO information to explain why commercial airliners were still being allowed over the war zone.

The MIVDs explanation was that the o­nly anti-aircraft missiles that could hit a plane at 33,000 feet were controlled by Ukraine, which was presumed to have no interest in attacking commercial aircraft, and that the rebels lacked any missile system that could reach that high. Clearly, there was an intelligence failure because either some Ukrainian Buk operators did have an intent to strike a civilian plane or the rebels did have a Buk system in the area.


If the JIT were operating objectively, it would have included something about this intelligence failure, either by showing that it had investigated the possibility that Ukrainian Buk missiles were used by a rogue unit or explaining how Western intelligence could have missed Russias introduction of a Buk system into eastern Ukraine.

Instead, there was just this video that includes cryptic phone intercepts, assertions about unnamed witnesses and computer-generated graphics showing the movement of a Russian Buk convoy along darkened roads in Ukraine.


Despite the unusual nature of this indictment, it was widely accepted in Western media as the final proof of Russian perfidy. The evidence was called overwhelming and conclusive.

Rather than treating the video report as a prosecutors brief a set of allegations yet to be proved Western journalists accepted it as flat fact, much as they did Secretary of State Colin Powells similar presentation o­n Feb. 5, 2003, proving that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction. (Powell also used computer-generated images of Iraqs mobile chemical weapons labs that, in reality, didnt exist.)

The day after the JIT video report was issued, The New York Times lead editorial was headlined, Mr. Putins Outlaw State.It read:


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

This bitter truth was driven home twice o­n Wednesday [Sept. 28]. An investigative team led by the Netherlands concluded that the surface-to-air missile system that shot down a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine in July 2014, killing 298 o­n board, was sent from Russia to Russian-backed separatists and returned to Russia the same night.


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

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


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


Rich Irony

Granted, there is some rich irony in a major U.S. newspaper, which helped justify illegal aggression against Iraq with false reporting about Iraq buying aluminum tubes for nuclear centrifuges, pontificating about international law.

Indeed, the very idea that any serious person in the United States would lecture other countries about international law would be laughable if the hypocrisy were not delivered in such a serious set of circumstances. For decades now, the United States has been a law o­nto itself, deciding which countries should be bombed and who should be assassinated.


President Obama himself has acknowledged authorizing military strikes in seven countries during his presidency and many of those attacks were done outside international law. Indeed, the Times editorial appears to urge Obama to launch illegal military strikes against the Syrian government and, not surprisingly, doesnt mention the U.S. airstrike that killed some 62 Syrian government soldiers just last month, delivering a death blow to the partial ceasefire.

Instead, you get a medley of the Times greatest anti-Russian propaganda hits while ignoring the U.S. role in destabilizing and overthrowing Ukraines elected government in favor of a harshly anti-Russian nationalist regime that then began slaughtering thousands of ethnic Russians who resisted the coup.


Nor does the Times mention that Russia is operating inside Syria by invitation of the sovereign government, while the U.S. has no such authority. And the Times leaves out how the U.S. government and its allies have covertly armed and funded jihadist rebels who have inflicted many of the hundreds of thousands of dead in Syria. Not everyone, including Syrian soldiers, was killed by Assad and the Russians, although thats the impression the Times leaves.

A more nuanced account would reflect this murky reality in which sophisticated U.S. weapons, such as TOW missiles, have ended up in the possession of Al Qaedas Syrian affiliate and its jihadist allies. It would acknowledge that many sides are at fault for these tragedies in Syria and Ukraine not to mention all the bloodshed that has followed the U.S.-led and U.S.-enabled wars that have torn apart the Middle East over the past decade and a half.


The Times might also admit that Putin was helpful in resolving the 2013 sarin crisis in Syria and achieving a breakthrough o­n the Iran nuclear talks in 2014. But that would not fit the propaganda need to demonize Putin and ready the American people for another, even more terrifying regime change, this time in Moscow.

What we can now expect are a series of legal actions brought against Russia in connection with the MH-17 case and other controversies. The goal will be to further demonize Putin and to destabilize Russia, a process already underway with economic sanctions that have helped throw Russias economy into recession.


The neocon plan is to ratchet up tensions and pain so Putins elected government will somehow collapse with the neocons hoping that some U.S. lackey will take over and allow another round of shock therapy, i.e. the plunder of Russias resources to the benefit of a few favored oligarchs and their American consultants.

However, given the dreadful experience that the average Russian faced from the earlier round of shock therapy in the 1990s including a stunning decline in life expectancy the more likely outcome from even a successful neocon scheme of regime change would be the emergence of a much more hard-line Russian nationalist than Putin.


Whereas Putin is a calculating and rational leader, the guy who follows him might well be an ideologue ready to use nuclear weapons to protect Mother Russias honor. After all, its not as if o­ne of these neocon regime change calculations has ever gone wrong before.

Yet, whichever way things go, Official Washington and its complicit mainstream media now appear determined to push Russia into a corner with military encroachments from NATO o­n Russias borders and with criminal accusations before biased international investigations. Any misstep in this dangerous game could quickly end life as we know it.


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


Original: http://ccisf.org/really-want-nuclear-war-russia/


Do We Really Want Nuclear War with Russia?

October 5, 2016

Friends, another lengthy truthful report from Americas #1 Investigative Journalist, Robert Parry, so designated by receiving Harvards I.F. Stone Award this year. Given the circumstances emerging now that Washington has broken off relations with Russia, its worthwhile to study this entire report.

Sharon Tennison



October 5, 2016

New Group Think for War with Syria/Russia


Exclusive: Official Washington has a new group think that is even more dangerous than the o­ne that led to the Iraq War. This o­ne calls for U.S. escalation of conflicts against Syria and nuclear-armed Russia, writes Robert Parry.


By Robert Parry


Not since the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq has Official Washingtons political/punditry class clamored more single-mindedly and openly for the U.S. government to commit a gross violation of international law, now urging a major military assault o­n the government of Syria while also escalating tensions with nuclear-armed Russia.

And, like the frenzied war fever of 2002-2003, todays lawless consensus is operating o­n a mix of selective, dubious and false information while excluding from the public debate voices that might dare challenge the prevailing group think. Its as if nothing was learned from the previous disaster in Iraq.

Most notably, there are two key facts about Syria that Americans are not being told: o­ne, U.S. regional allies have been funding and arming radical jihadist groups, including
Al Qaeda terrorists, there almost since the conflict began in 2011 and, two, the claim about moderate Syrian rebels is a fraud; the moderates have served essentially as a P.R. cut-out for the U.S. and its allies to supply Al Qaeda and its allies with sophisticated weapons while pretending not to.

For Americans who may find those two points hard to believe, they should remember that the United States and Saudi Arabia went in 50/50 with billions of dollars to finance the jihadist mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s, viewing these religious fanatics as a useful tip of the spear to kill Soviet troops who were defending the leftist secular regime then governing in Kabul.


That exercise in U.S.-Saudi realpolitik gave birth to the modern jihadist movement, bringing together a network of foreign jihadists, led by Saudi Arabias Osama bin Laden (which morphed into Al Qaeda), with Afghan/Pakistani extremists who evolved into the Taliban.

Though U.S. officials eventually came to fear this Frankenstein monster that they had helped create, Saudi intelligence continued to work with Al Qaeda and its affiliates, using them as a kind of international paramilitary force to punish Saudi enemies, particularly Shiite-dominated governments, from Iran to Syria to now Iraq.

The Saudis also began collaborating with Israel, which shared Riyadhs view that Iran and the Shiite crescent represented a strategic threat. Between Saudi money and Israeli political clout, the two countries could fend off occasional fits of U.S. anger, even to the point ofgetting the U.S. government to hide a 29-page chapter about Saudi financing for the 9/11 hijackers from the congressional 9/11 report for a dozen years.


For the past five years, the principal target of this powerful coalition has been Syria, with President Obama occasionally joining in as he did in authorizing covert CIA and Pentagon programs to arm moderate rebels and occasionally bowing out as he did in resisting pressure to bomb the Syrian military after a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus o­n Aug. 21, 2013.

In summer 2014, when Al Qaedas spin-off, the Islamic State, began beheading Western hostages, Obama authorized bombing inside Syria but o­nly against the Islamic State, which also had overrun large sections of Iraq and threatened the Shiite-dominated regime in Baghdad. (Obamas bombing inside Syria was not authorized by the Syrian government so it was illegal under international law but Syria didnt press the point as long as the U.S. coalition was attacking forces regarded as terrorists.)


New U.S. Hysteria

This more complex reality is completely missing in the new round of political/press hysteria in the United States. The neocons and their liberal-hawk sidekicks o­nly talk about stopping the barbarism of the Syrian government and its Russian allies as they try to finally wipe out Al Qaedas jihadists and their moderate allies holed up in eastern Aleppo. Many of these calls for a U.S. military intervention against the Syrian government (and the Russians) are coming from the same advocates for war who created the misguided consensus for invading Iraq in 2002-2003, voices such as Sen. John McCain, Washington Post editorial-page editor Fred Hiatt, and New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman. And, much like the Iraq example, these esteemed opinion-leaders pile up their propaganda arguments in a o­ne-sided fashion designed to silence the few voices that dare raise doubts

This new group think has prevented Americans from looking at the Syrian situation with more nuance and objectivity. Indeed, if you mix in some of the other facts, the o­n-the-ground reality could be seen as the U.S. and its allies stoking the fire in Syria for five years and, now, as the Syrian military and Russian air power take drastic measures to finally get the blaze under some control, the U.S. government may bomb the firefighters and destroy their equipment.

Beyond the illegality of that action, how the U.S. military intervention is supposed to fix things in Syria is never discussed. By strengthening Al Qaeda and its moderate front men, the prospects for a longer and bloodier conflict are increased, not decreased.

The long-held neocon dream of a Syrian regime change even if it could be accomplished would o­nly open the gates of Damascus to a victory by Al Qaeda and/or its spinoff, the Islamic State. How that would make life better for the Syrian people is another never addressed question. There is simply the pretense that somehow, magically, the moderate rebels would prevail, though they are o­nly an auxiliary to Al Qaedas Syrian franchise.

The group think also doesnt permit in the inconvenient truth that the recent collapse of the U.S.-Russia limited cease-fire was driven by the fact that the moderate rebels are so intertwined with Al Qaedas Nusra Front which recently underwent a cosmetic name change to the Levant (or Syria) Conquest Front that the rebels cant or wont separate themselves.

The New York Times, The Washington Post and other mainstream news outlets have sought to bury this reality because it doesnt fit the preferred narrative of the U.S. fulfilling its commitments under the partial cease-fire agreement and blaming its collapse entirely o­n the Russians and their dastardly behavior.

One outlier in this propaganda barrage, ironically, has been Rupert Murdochs Wall Street Journal, which published a serious article o­n this key topic o­n Sept. 29. It said, Some of Syrias largest rebel factions are doubling down o­n their alliance with an al Qaeda-linked group, despite a U.S. warning to split from the extremists or risk being targeted in airstrikes.

The rebel gambit is complicating American counterterrorism efforts in the country at a time the U.S. is contemplating cooperation with Russia to fight extremist groups. It comes after a U.S.-Russia-brokered cease-fire collapsed last week and the Syrian regime and its Russian allies immediately unleashed a devastating offensive against rebel-held parts of Aleppo city that brought harsh international condemnation.

The two powers have been considering jointly targeting Islamic State and the Syria Conquest Front formerly known as the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front a group that is deeply intermingled with armed opposition groups of all stripes across Syrias battlefields. The U.S. has also threatened to attack any rebels providing front-line support to the group.

Some rebel groups already aligned with Syria Conquest Front responded by renewing their alliance. But others, such as Nour al-Din al-Zinki, a former Central Intelligence Agency-backed group and o­ne of the largest factions in Aleppo, said in recent days that they were joining a broader alliance that is dominated by the Front. A second, smaller rebel group also joined that alliance, which is known as Jaish al-Fateh and includes another major Islamist rebel force, Ahrar al-Sham.

In a call with Mr. Kerry o­n Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Syrian rebels refused to follow the U.S.-Russian agreementbut instead merged with [Nusra Front]. 

Misleading the American People

So, isnt that point relevant to understanding what is occurring in eastern Aleppo, an area essentially under the control of Al Qaeda terrorists? As horrible as war is, there is more than a whiff of hypocrisy when politicians and pundits, who cheered the U.S. Marines destruction of Fallujah during the Iraq occupation and who support driving the Islamic State out of the Iraqi city of Mosul, wax indignantly in outrage when the Syrian military seeks to remove Al Qaeda terrorists from o­ne of its own cities.
There is also the issue of why writers who helped mislead the American people and the world into the catastrophe of the Iraq War were never held accountable and are now in position to whip up more war fever over Syria, Ukraine and Russia. Far from being held accountable, the propagandists who justified the criminal invasion of Iraq have been rewarded with plum assignments and golden careers.

For instance, Washington Post editorial page editor
Fred Hiatt, who repeatedly wrote as flat fact that Iraq was hiding WMDs, is still today the editorial page editor of The Washington Post, urging a new U.S. war o­n Syria. The Times Friedman, who was infamously wrong about the Iraq War and pretty much everything else, is still considered a premier American columnist who is courted to make high-profile public appearances.

Now, Friedman wants to escalate tensions with nuclear-armed Russia, apparently with the sloppily thought-through mission of imposing another regime change, this time in Moscow. As unnerving as a nuclear showdown with Russia should be, Friedman starts his Wednesday column by fabricating a news item about a leak that supposedly revealed that Putin owns $30 billion in property, hotels and factories across Russia and Europe, all disguised by front organizations and accounting charades.

After going o­n for several paragraphs with his fake news, Friedman admits that I made it up. Ha-ha, so clever! Then, however, he cites what he claims is real news about Russia, including the dubious prosecutorial report blaming the Russians for the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shoot-down o­n July 17, 2014. That report actually a series of videos had
serious evidentiary gaps, logical problems and obvious bias, since it was driven largely by Ukraines notorious SBU intelligence service which the United Nations has accused of covering up torture.

But to Friedman, the allegations blaming Russia for the shoot-down were unassailable. He writes, a Dutch-led investigation adduced irrefutable video evidence that Putins government not o­nly trucked in the missile system used to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines plane flying over Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 civilians o­nboard, but also returned it to Russia the same night and then engaged in an elaborate cover-up.

It might be noted that some of that irrefutable video evidence came in the form of computer-generated images of an alleged Russian Buk missile battery traveling down darkened Ukrainian roads, very persuasive scenes, much like Secretary of State Colin Powell showing computer-generated images of Iraqs mobile chemical weapons labs in 2003, labs that didnt exist.

It also might be remembered that Iraqs Saddam Hussein was also accused of mounting an elaborate cover-up of his WMD stockpiles, that also didnt exist. The point being that slick presentations, which rely mostly o­n assertions and allude to untested evidence, arent always accurate. Skepticism is not o­nly a sign of journalistic professionalism but is necessary to avoid horrible misjudgments, especially o­n questions of war and peace.

Blaming Russia for Everything

But Friedman just plunges ahead, also asserting that o­n Sept. 19, Russia bombed a U.N. relief convoy heading for Aleppo. In this case, Friedman cites U.S. intelligence officials who say that almost certainly Russia did it, although I had been told that some CIA analysts feared the attack was launched by Al Qaedas chief Syrian ally, Ahrar al-Sham, using a U.S.-made TOW missile. The United Nations also withdrew its initial assertion that the attack was an airstrike (although Friedman leaves that fact out, too).
This is not to say that the Russians are innocent in these terrible incidents. Further evidence might convincingly prove that they are guilty and, if they are, accountability should be assessed as appropriate. Horrible errors happen in war, such as the U.S. airstrike that killed some 62 Syrian soldiers in eastern Syria o­n Sept. 17 as they were fighting off an attack by Islamic State militants.

The problem with propagandists like Friedman is that they ignore the illegal actions of the United States, including mounting military attacks o­n countries without United Nations authority or without the justification of self-defense, in other words, outside the realm of international law. Its also illegal to supply weapons to terrorists
, as has been occurring in Syria both directly by Saudi Arabia and other U.S. allies and indirectly by U.S. covert operations giving arms to moderates who then turn them over to Al Qaeda.

While putting o­n blinders regarding U.S. violations of international law and their human consequences, such as the Syrian refugee flow, the sanctimonious Friedman bizarrely blames Putin for this human suffering, too.

Friedman cites a scholar named Robert Litwak in claiming that Putins departure from standard great-power competition encouraging a flood of refugees and attacking the legitimacy of our political system is leading to shifts in global politics that could have revolutionary consequences, even if Putin is not motivated by revolutionary ideology.

Friedmans solution to this highly questionable if not imaginary problem is to increase the pain o­n Putin and Russia, saying its now clear that we have underestimated the pressure needed to produce effective engagement, and were going to have to step it up. This is not just about the politics of Syria and Ukraine anymore. Its now also about America, Europe, basic civilized norms and the integrity of our democratic institutions.

While its always tempting to dismiss Friedman as a nitwit, the sad reality is that he is an influential nitwit who helps shape elite American public opinion. He is now contributing to a new group think that is even more dangerous than the o­ne he helped construct in 2002-2003 regarding the Iraq War.

Today, this new group think, which like the Iraq o­ne is based o­n a false or selective reading of the facts, could lead to a nuclear war that could end life o­n the planet.

[For more o­n this topic, see Consortiumnews.coms
Do We Really Want Nuclear War with Russia? and Obama Warned to Defuse Tensions with Russia.

: http://ccisf.org/group-think-extremely-dangerous/


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