Question: The first and most important question — is the U.S. and its allies preparing for a major conflict with Russia?
Answer: It certainly appears so. The collapse of the Russia-U.S. ceasefire for Syria can be seen as a tipping point of major significance. There is every reason to believe Ash Carter’s Pentagon intentionally scuttled the ceasefire with the brazen attack (and illegal under international law) on Syrian troops. It is impossible to determine if John Kerry actually took any level of ownership for the agreement he hammered out with Russia’s Sergei Lavrov.
The key demand that Washington force a separation of “moderates” from terrorists was always doubtful when it came to implementation. Washington’s “moderates” are meaningless without cooperation with al-Nusra and other terrorist groups. In retrospect, this second ceasefire was no different from the first negotiated in February – a opportunity for the west’s proxies to re-supply, re-group, and re-arm. What is of supreme importance now is the breakdown of the Russian-American dialogue regarding Syria. This is very dangerous.
Q.: Western media and political elites rarely if ever present how Russia views these events. How does Russia view Washington’s involvement in the Syrian conflict?
A.: Washington and its numerous allies in this conflict have turned Syria into an unbelievably complicated quagmire. Washington and its so-called “coalition of the willing” have regime change as the overriding objective. Due to Russia and Iran’s legal intervention into the conflict the objective of regime overthrow is essentially impossible to realize. From the perspective of Moscow, any strategy publicly expressed by Washington to end the conflict is taken with a huge pinch of salt. Washington’s words and actions simply do not match.
It is easy to understand Moscow can hardly deem Samantha Power, Ash Carter and John Kerry as serious people. Moscow also sees it has time on its side. The Americans are impatience, compulsive and reckless. As such Washington commits one blunder after another. Of course this increases the likelihood of a direct Russia-U.S. confrontation in Syria. This is no longer a hypothetical question to ask.
Q.: What event of set of events could make a Russia-U.S. military confrontation possible?
A.: If Washington alone or with some of its NATO allies attempt to establish a “no-fly zone” in Syria there is good reason to believe Washington and Moscow will stare into the abyss called war. The Russians have already planned for this possibility and at this point the Pentagon knows Russia has the means and determination to deny the American’s free reign over Syria’s skies. In theory Washington could eventually enforce a “no-fly zone,” but the costs would be very high – essentially risking war with Russia.
Of course, there are those in Washington who want just this – war! It is important to remember the following: since the end of the Cold War the U.S. military was designed to fight opponents that are very weak and unable to resist for long. This is not the case in Syria. Again this is what makes the situation in Syria deadly serious.
Q.: You have focused on Syria as linchpin that could see the U.S. and Russia go to war. But it is not only about Syria, is it?
A.: Indeed. Syria and Ukraine are very different conflicts, but are essentially the same in the eyes of many in Washington. Both are countries – battle lines – to confront Russia. It is the west that backed the overthrow of the legal government in Ukraine in 2014; it is the west that demanded regime change in Damascus. Russia has reacted to western initiatives in Syria and Ukraine.
Washington’s strategy is to deny Moscow any legitimate role in crises generated by the west that involve Russia’s security interests. This is a paradox of course: they poke the Russian bear, then claim the Russian bear doesn’t have any right to react. Now you can understand how Sergei Lavrov must feel when dealing with John Kerry! Members of the American “deep state” want a military conflict with Russia as a kind of showdown to knock Russia off the geopolitical chessboard. War is becoming more likely. Russia will resist, but will avoid direct military conflict as long as that possibility exists. It has become apparent to me Washington thinks the other way around.
Peter Lavelle is host of RT’s political debate program CrossTalk. His views may or may not reflect those of his employer.