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Turkey, the Kurds and the US debacle in North East Syria

US policy in north east Syria has hugely complicated and exacerbated the situation there, setting the Turks and the Kurds against each other, and provoking threats of US military action in support of a misconceived policy that has not been thought through.

Alexander Mercouris

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The war in Syria has been described as a game of three dimensional chess played by nine different players.

I don’t think this is really true.  The main part of the war is a straight contest between the Syrian government and its Jihadi opponents who are trying to overthrow it.  As our contributor Afra’a Dagher has written, these Jihadis often use different names; however in terms of who they are and what they represent who are their external sponsors, they are always the same.

The situation in north east Syria is however more complex than elsewhere in Syria, so I will try to explain it in more detail.  Whilst it is highly dangerous, as I will show the danger here comes not from what Erdogan and Turkey are doing, but from the US, which has experienced in this area a major debacle.

Turkey and the Kurds

There is much confusion about the Turkish incursion which led to the capture of the previously ISIS controlled border town of Jarablus. 

The key point to understand about this incursion is that its intended target is not the Syrian government but the Kurdish militia known as the YPG (the “People’s Protection Units”).

What has upset the situation in north eastern Syria, provoking fighting between the Syrian army and the YPG and the Turkish incursion that has led to the capture of Jarablus, is the dynamic expansion of the territory in north east Syria which is controlled by the YPG.

This map gives an idea of how the area under YPG control expanded in 2015

With US support the YPG – disguising themselves the “Syrian Democratic Forces” – have recently captured from ISIS the town of Manbij, which is located west of the Euphrates river. 

This was the key event that provoked the Turkish incursion.

Most Kurds live in Turkey where they may account for anything between 10% to 20% of the population (opinions differ).  Turkey has had a long running problem assimilating its Kurdish minority and there has been a long history of conflict, with some Kurds during some periods of recent Turkish history fighting insurgency wars against the Turkish government and seeking outright secession from Turkey and the formation of an independent Kurdish state. 

In light of this Turkey considers the Kurdish problem an existential problem for Turkey, one that places in jeopardy the very existence of the Turkish state, at least in its present form.

During the recent period of rule in Turkey by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Erdogan relations between the Turkish authorities and the Kurds have known periods of improvement.  However they have recently sharply deteriorated, and there is now an ongoing insurgency situation in eastern Turkey pitting the Turkish military and Kurdish insurgents led by the PKK (the Kurdish Workers Party).

The Turkish government accuses the YPG of being in league with the PKK.  It therefore vigorously opposes the establishment of any Kurdish YPG controlled zone within Syria along the border with Turkey.     

The Turks have previously made clear that they consider the Euphrates a “red line” beyond which they will not tolerate expansion by the YPG.  The YPG captures of Manbij meant that the YPG had crossed this “red line”.

Manbij lies immediately south of Jarablus.  Had the Kurds advanced north from Manbij and captured Jarabulus and its surrounding areas, they would have connected two Kurdish-held YPG controlled areas in northern Syria, creating precisely the sort of autonomous YPG controlled Kurdish zone along Turkey’s border with Syria that Turkey is determined at all costs to prevent.

The Turkish move towards Jarablus is intended to pre-empt the YPG’s capture of the town and this from happening.

The YPG and the Syrian government

The YPG and the Syrian government have been uneasy allies in the Syrian war. 

The ideology of the YPG is secular, Kurdish nationalist and leftist – the diametric opposite of the Wahhabi Jihadist ideology of the Syrian government’s opponents.   That by definition makes the Kurds and the Syria’s government’s Jihadi enemies, enemies of each other.  On the principle that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” that has forced the YPG into an uneasy alliance with the Syrian government.

The YPG’s focus is however not on the survival of the Syrian government but on securing its control of the Kurdish populated areas of northern Syria.  Its alliance with the Syrian government its therefore purely a function of the fact that the two have the same Jihadi enemies in common.

In the longer run it is why relations between the Syrian government and the YPG might fall into conflict.  Ultimately the YPG is pursuing a Kurdish nationalist agenda within Syria, which is very far from that of the Syrian government, which wants to re-establish the Syrian state’s authority over the whole of Syria.

The fragility of the alliance between the Syrian government and the YPG was recently exposed when the YPG, emboldened by the capture of Manbij, acted to consolidate its control of north east Syria by seeking to oust the Syrian military and Syrian government from the town of Al-Hasakah at the eastern end of the belt of territory the YPG controls. 

This led to armed clashes in Al-Hasakah between the YPG militia and the Syrian army, which spilled over into fighting in Aleppo between Syrian troops there and the YPG militia which is participating in the siege of eastern Aleppo.  There were even reports that for a short period the YPG briefly shelled Syrian army positions on the Castello road.

These moves have been interpreted in both Damascus and Ankara as the YPG preparing to take full control of the Kurdish populated territories in north east Syria.  Both Damascus and Ankara strongly oppose this, Damascus because it threatens the unity of Syria, Ankara because it considers the YPG to be an extension of the PKK, and does not want a YPG controlled independent Kurdish region on its border which could act as a safe haven for the PKK.

Turkey’s Operation ‘Euphrates Shield’

The Turkish incursion and the capture of Jarablus were intended to pre-empt the YPG’s intended capture of Jarablus. 

Erdogan and his government have made this quite clear.  The name of the Turkish operation is “Euphrates Shield”, which clearly refers to Turkey’s “red line” against the Kurds along the Euphrates river.  Moreover it seems the YPG did attempt to advance on Jarablus on Monday 22nd August 2016, and were shelled before they got there by the Turkish army.

The Kurds and the YPG for their part have made it quite clear that they understand that the Turkish incursion is ultimately targeted at them.  Redur Xelil, a spokesperson for the YPG, has denounced Turkey’s incursion as an act of “blatant aggression.”  Salih Muslim, the leader of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), has written on Twitter that Turkey is now in the “Syrian quagmire” and will be defeated like ISIS.

Turkey and the unity of Syria

What is perhaps most striking fact about this latest episode is that Erdogan has now come out publicly as the champion of Syria’s unity.  He is reported to have said on Wednesday 24th August 2016 that

“Turkey is determined for Syria to retain its territorial integrity and will take matters into its own hands if required to protect that territorial unity.”

This is in fact completely logical.  Given that Kurdish separatism is for Turkey an existential question, Turkey – whether led by Erdogan or his opponents – will always prefer to have north east Syria controlled by whatever regime is in power in Damascus – even if that regime is led by Bashar Al-Assad – than have it controlled by the YPG.

What that means is that for the first time since the start of the Syrian war there is a commonality of interest between the Turkish and Syrian governments.  That does not mean that there is a rapprochement underway between them, or that the Turkish government has changed its policy of wanting the overthrow of the Syrian government.  It does however mean that the Syrian government is not as hostile to the Turkish move towards Jarablus as it might otherwise have been, which explains its relatively mild reaction to the Turkish move.

I understand that there are some people who think Erdogan is lying about wanting to preserve the unity of Syria and that his ambitions extend far further and that what he is really aiming at is the conquest of large belts of northern Syria up to and including the city of Aleppo.

I have to say that I doubt this is true.  Conquering these territories and assimilating them into Turkey looks frankly beyond Turkey’s power.  It would antagonise the Arabs to the south and the Russians and Iranians to the north and east.  It would not serve the interests of the US; and potentially, by adding large Arab and Kurdish populations to Turkey, it would only exacerbate Turkey’s already complex internal problems. 

Of course Turkey could expel these people from their lands, but doing so would simply create another set of problems and would surely only worsen further the already difficult situation Turkey has with its own Kurds in Turkey itself. 

Frankly this project looks like a recipe for endless war, which Turkey in its present state simply cannot afford.

Erdogan is many things but he is not stupid, and I am sure that he understands this.  His objective in Syria is not the conquest of its northern regions by Turkey or Syria’s partition.  It is the conversion of Syria into a Turkish satellite state by the establishment of a government friendly to Turkey in Damascus.

The Turkish incursion and the Battle of Aleppo

Erdogan remains committed to President Assad’s overthrow and publicly supports Jabhat Al-Nusra, the strongest Jihadi group fighting the Syrian government in the battle of Aleppo. 

Nothing Erdogan has said or done since the failed coup attempt suggests that he has modified this strategy in any way.  He continues to allow Jihadi fighters and supplies to cross the Turkish border into Idlib province en route to the fighting in Aleppo.  All suggestions that Erdogan is preparing to ditch the rebels in Syria and to reconcile with President Assad is simply wishful thinking.

There are widespread fears that Erdogan’s plan is to create some sort of rebel “safe area” in north east Syria that the rebels can use as a launch pad to support their ongoing offensive against  Aleppo and that is what the advance on Jarablus is all about.

Again I have to say that I doubt this is true.  North east Syria is a bitterly contested area in which the dominant force is not the rebels but the YPG.  It does not look like a credible “safe zone” for the rebels or a credible launch area from which to launch attacks on Aleppo.  On the contrary an attempt to create a rebel “safe zone” in this area would antagonise the YPG, and would restore the alliance between the Syrian government and the YPG to full working order, leading to constant fighting in the area of the so-called “safe zone” between the Syrian rebels and the YPG.  That would surely defeat the whole purpose of the “safe zone”, rendering it unsafe and effectively worthless as a “safe zone”.  

Of course the Turkish military could try to garrison the area to defend whatever “safe zone” it created inside it.  That would however require an incursion into Syria that went far deeper than the one to Jarablus, and which would risk the Turkish army becoming bogged down in a lengthy guerrilla war on Syrian territory with the YPG.  I doubt Erdogan, the Turkish military or the US would want that.

I should say the US warning that it will shoot down aircraft that threaten US troops in the area also does not look to me like support for the setting up by Erdogan of a rebel “safe zone” in this area. 

Firstly the US warning is simply standard US practice where the US has troops on the ground, as it is known to have in this area.

Secondly the US troops in question were backing the YPG – the same group Operation ‘Euphrates Shield’ is targeted against – which as I have said would be bitterly opposed to the setting up of a rebel “safe zone” in this area. 

A warning whose effect was to protect the YPG from air attack by the Syrian air force does not translate into a warning intended to back the setting up by the Turkish army of a rebel “safe zone” in an area against the strong opposition of the YPG.

Besides it is not obvious that the rebels actually need a “safe zone” in this area.   They already have a corridor to send men and supplies to Aleppo through Idlib province, which they already control.  Why add to the problems of setting up a “safe zone” much further away in north east Syria when the rebels already control territories so much closer to Aleppo?

Overall, seeing this Turkish incursion as somehow intended to influence the outcome of the battle of Aleppo looks misplaced.  There are sufficient reasons for it based on concerns about the danger to Turkey – real or imagined – posed by the YPG.  One should not look for more reasons for a move when the already apparent reasons are fully sufficient to explain it.

The US, Turkey and the Kurds

The US is the prime backer of the YPG.  It was US bombing that made the YPG’s capture of Manbij possible.  It was the US that probably encouraged the YPG to turn against the Syrian government in Al-Hasakah, and which may have encouraged the YPG to push on and try to create an autonomous role within Syria.

As I have said previously, this is very much in keeping with classic US “third force” strategies, used by the US in many wars of which this is just the latest example.

What is fascinating about this whole affair is how quickly the US has acted to dump the YPG. 

Given the choice between Turkey and the YPG, the US has unhesitatingly supported Turkey.  Not only are US aircraft providing support for the Turkish military in Operation “Euphrates Shield” but Vice-President Biden, on a fence-mending trip to Turkey, has publicly said that the YPG must withdraw to the eastern side of the Euphrates or risk losing US support.  This was it was all explained by a US official speaking to the Wall Street Journal

“We’ve put a lid on the Kurds moving north, or at least doing so if they want any support from us, which I think is a fairly significant piece of leverage.  So for the moment I think we’ve put a lid on the biggest concern that the Turks have, which I think gives us some breathing space to make sure this operation in Jarabulus [sic] is done the right way and that we and the Turks do it together.”

More remarkable still is that Biden is also reported to have backed Erdogan’s call for the preservation of Syria’s unity.  RT reports him saying at joint press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Binaldi Yildirim

“No (Kurdish) corridor. Period. No separate entity on the Turkish border. A united Syria.”

This incidentally all but proves that despite tensions between Turkey and the US since the coup attempt, the two countries remain allies.  As I have said previously (see here and here) expectations of Turkey switching alliances, quitting NATO and driving the US out of Incirlik are wrong.

Summary

This crisis in north eastern Syria is a case study in the violence and chaos that flows from the contradictions of US policy in Syria.

The US officially brands Jabhat Al-Nusra a terrorist organisation but denies that the YPG is one.  Turkey – the US’s primary ally in this region – denies Jabhat Al-Nusra is a terrorist organisation but insists the YPG is one.

The US is prepared to defend the YPG if it is attacked by the Syrian military.  However it will not defend the YPG if it is attacked by the Turkish military.  On the contrary it will act to facilitate the Turkish military’s attack – as it is in fact doing.

The US backed the YPG when it attacked Manbij, which lies west of the Euphrates.  However it now insists that the YPG must withdraw back to the eastern side of the Euphrates – which means it must evacuate Manbij – or forfeit US support.

The US appears to have incited the YPG to attack the Syrian military in Al-Hasakah so that it could consolidate its control of the territories in which it operates and form an independent zone there.  Following protests from Turkey it now says the YPG cannot have an independent zone there under its control.

It is impossible to see any coherent strategy here.  Rather it looks as if CIA and military officials on the ground in Syria have been going their own way, encouraging the YPG to expand as fast as it can, heedless of the larger consequences. 

The political leadership in Washington, when it finally woke up to what was happening, then had to take disproportionate steps to bring the situation back under control. 

In the process two US “allies” – the Turkish military and the YPG – have practically come to blows with each other, and Turkey has suddenly discovered a commonality of interest with the Assad government in Damascus to block the setting up of an autonomous YPG controlled Kurdish region in north east Syria, probably sending the deputy head of its military intelligence service to Damascus to coordinate policy there.

It is this very lack of coherence in US policy which however is what is so dangerous about this whole situation. 

The US has pursued a policy in north eastern Syria that led it to give a warning of military action a few days ago.  However it is now clear that this policy was never properly thought through. 

To say that this is an irresponsible and reckless way of going about things in a conflict situation where the Russians are also involved is a gigantic understatement.  Yet there is no public debate or discussion about it either in Washington or in Western capitals.

If US policy is being made on the hoof in Syria in such a careless and irresponsible way then the danger of something going catastrophically wrong is hugely magnified.  Yet it is clear that that is precisely the situation we are looking at, and be it noted that this is before the hawkish Hillary Clinton has become US President.  It is impossible to look at this situation without being seriously worried.

  

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The Geopolitical Strategy Of The US’ Global Hegemony By A Notorious Russophobe Zbigniew Brzezinski

The achievement of a New World Order after 1990 is being tested for some time in Washington.

The Duran

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Authored by Vladislav Sotirovic via Oriental Review:


If we have to use force, it is because we are America.

We are the indispensable nation.

(Madeleine K. Albright, February 1998)[1]

Madam Secretary

As a matter of very fact, regardless to the reality in global politics that the Cold War was over in 1989, Washington continued to drive toward the getting the status of a global hyperpower at any expense for the rest of the world. The Balkans undoubtedly became the first victim in Europe of the old but esthetically repacked American global imperialism. The US’ administration is a key player during the last 25 years of the Balkan crisis caused by the bloody destruction of ex-Yugoslavia[2] in which Washington played a crucial role in three particular historical cases:

  1. Only due to the US’ administration (more precisely due to the last US’ ambassador to Yugoslavia, Warren Zimmermann), a Bosnian-Herzegovinian President Alija Izetbegović (the author of the 1970 Islamic Declaration) rejected already agreed Lisbon Agreement about peaceful resolution of the Bosnian crises which was signed by the official representatives of the Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks in February 1992. Alija Izetbegović was one of those three signatories. The agreement was reached under the auspices of the European Community (the EC, later the European Union) that was represented by the British diplomat Lord Carrington and the Portuguese ambassador José Cutileiro. However, under the US’ protection, a Bosnian-Herzegovinian Bosniak-Croat Government declared independence on March 3rd, 1992 which local Serbs decisively opposed. Therefore, two warmongers, Warren Zimmermann and Alija Izetbegović pushed Bosnia-Herzegovina into the civil war which stopped only in November 21st, 1995 by signing the Dayton Accords in Ohio (Slobodan Milošević, Bill Clinton, Alija Izetbegović and Franjo Tuđman).[3]
  2. It was exactly the US’ administration which crucially blessed the ethnic cleansing of the Serbs from the Republic of Serbian Krayina committed by Croatia’s police and army forces (including and neo-Nazi Ustashi formations) on August 4−5th, 1995. For the realization of this criminal operation (under the secret code Storm/Oluja) Washington gave to Zagreb all logistic, political, diplomatic and military support. As a consequence, around 250,000 Croatia’s Serbs left their homes in two days which were quickly occupied by the Croats.[4]
  3. South Serbia’s Autonomous Province of Kosovo-Metochia was firstly occupied in June 1999 by the NATO/KFOR’ forces and later in February 2008 politically separated from its motherland when Albanian-dominated Kosovo’s Parliament proclaimed the formal independence primarily as a direct consequence of the Serbophobic policy by the US’s administration of President Bill Clinton and his warmongering hawk Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright. Today, Kosovo, except its northern part, is ethnically cleansed from the Serbs[5] and transformed into a mafia state with a silent blessing by Washington and the rest of the Western gangsters from the NATO and the EU who recognized its quasi-independence.[6]

Here is very important to stress that, basically, during the Bill Clinton’ administration, the US’ foreign policy in regard to the Balkans (ex-Yugoslavia) was primarily designed and directed by Madeleine K. Albright who became a chief US’ war criminal at the very end of the 20th century. Who was Mrs. Albright – the author of Madam Secretary: A Memoir, New York: Talk Miramax Books, 2003, 562 pages.[7] Madeleine K. Albright was born in Czechoslovakia in 1937. She was confirmed as the 64th US’ Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001. Her career in the US’ government included positions in the National Security Council and as US’ ambassador to the United Nations. The highest-ranking warmonger female hawk in the history of the US’ Government was telling an unforgetable whitewashed story of lies in her memoirs of the US’ imperialism at the turn of the 21st century. She was the first woman in the US’ history to be appointed to the post of Secretary of State (Minister of Foreign Affairs). For eight years during the first and second Bill Clinton’s terms, she succeeded drastically to ruin America’s image of a democratic and freedom fighting country mainly due to her direct and crucial involvement into the US-led NATO’s aggression on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (the FRY) in 1999 composed by Serbia and Montenegro that was the first aggression of this organization in its 50 years long history of the preparation for the invasion of Russia. The aggression lasted for 78 days from March 24th to June 10th, 1999 and was one of the most brutal and barbaric in the modern history of the world breaking all international laws, rules of war and, most important, the Charter and principles of the UNO. Madeleine K. Albright tried in her memoirs to whitewash her extremely important and even crucial participation in the post-Cold War US’ policy of imperialism but primarily her focal role in the preparation and conduction of the US/NATO’s unprecedented war on the FRY as being one of the most influential policy-makers in her adopted country. The Madam Secretary’s memoirs are firstly the story of a woman of great warmongering character with a fascinating talent to lie and whitewash the truth. Her memoirs are surely a valuable contribution to the political history of aggressive diplomacy of the project of the US’ global hegemony after the collapse of the USSR. But who was her mentor?

Former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright

If we are speaking about the US’ foreign policy, the fundamental question is what are the US policy’s interests and its implications in both the Balkans and Europe.

The US’ involvement in the Balkans and Europe

The achievement of a New World Order after 1990 is being tested for some time in Washington. We have to keep in mind that for some first 20 years after the end of the Cold War, the strongest military and economic power, the leaders of the NATO and the UNO, the initiators of the international peacekeeping missions and negotiations in the regions of „failed states“ in which they provoked the crises and wars, especially at the Balkans, the champions against the international terrorism and crime that was a reaction to their dirty foreign policy of unmasked imperialism and global hegemony, were the USA.[8] Nevertheless, the US’ interests in the Balkans cannot be understood apart from a larger picture of the American interests in Europe in general.

There are many American scientists and politicians who argued that a leadership in Europe will either be American or it will not be, since France and Germany (the axis-powers of the EU) were not too strong to take over and Germany was still in the 1990s too preoccupied with the consequences of its reunification (i.e., the absorption of the DDR). However, the recent (on November 11th, 2018) French President Emmanuel Macron’s initiative to create a joint European Army shows that probably the Europeans finally became enough matured to maintain security in their own home by themselves but not anymore under the umbrella of the US-led NATO. The question, in essence, is not if, but what kind of leadership the US has and will have in the case that the current post-Cold War’s international relations are not going to be drastically changed? In this respect, the US need to be aware that the best leadership is the one shared with other partners, in this case with the EU/NATO, more specifically France, Germany, and Britain but, of course, Russia have to be seriously taken into the consideration too. With the involvement of Russia into a common European security system on the bases of equal reciprocity, friendship and partnership, the final aim will be to obtain a common vision and an efficient coordination in conflict management, as well as in political and economic cooperation. At such a way, the cases of violent destructions and civil wars, for example on the territory of ex-Yugoslavia, will be avoided for sure.

U.S. Marines escorting Yugoslavian soldiers in Kosovo to be handed over to Yugoslavian authorities

The US’ political analysts are keen to suggest that the American presence in Europe should not be regarded as a competition, but rather as a part of the transatlantic partnership between the two continents, as well as a necessity demonstrated by the sad experience in the former Yugoslavia. According to official Washington, the NATO’s intervention in both Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995 and Kosovo in 1999 (in both cases against the Serbs) under the US’ leadership was the only credible action along with many initiatives taken by the international community.[9] However, on the other side, military intervention is in many cases creating more political and security problems for a longer period of time. It is understandable that the US cannot assist apathetically to the collapse of countries vital to their own interest but such principle is valid to be applied for any great power too. Besides, regional instability only expands, engaging other areas and creating new confrontations. Thus, the economic support offered to some countries, and the military one offered to others shows that the US formally believe in the regional stability as an enforcer of the international stability but in reality only if such stability is put under the umbrella of Washington’s interests and benefits. The case of Kosovo is, probably, the best example of such practice: by bringing a formal stability this province of Serbia is put at the same time under the full Western (primarily American) political control and economic exploitation.[10]

In supporting the NATO’s expansion, there is a hesitation in treating all aspirant countries in a non-discriminatory fashion. And that, because interests are more important than global security, can be the reason. The advocates of the „Pax Americana’s“ view of the global security would publically say that they are not propagating the US as the savior of the world, or the world’s policeman, but they are just the most fervent supporters of the global peace and stability. However, in the practice they are working oppositely: as many as conflicts and insecurity issues in the world, there are more chances and practical opportunities for Washington to become the regional policeman and global savior of the order.[11] In their relationship with other NATO’s countries, the USA regard the process of integration in the Euro-Atlantic space (i.e., the area of the US’ control and administration) as a two-way street in which each partner needs to accomplish its tasks. An addition to those is, of course, the geostrategic position (Turkey instead of Greece, for instance, in the 1974 Cyprus crisis) and short, medium and long-term declarative promises like the economic gratification of security which can at the end to be turned to its opposite side. For instance, the US’ offering military, political and financial assistance to the countries of East-Central and South-East Europe as a mean to build up their security shield against „aggressive“ Russia can be easily transformed into their very insecurity reality coming from the US’ imperialistic policy toward Russia as there were already the cases with Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014 as the „Pax Americana’s“ approach in international relations is as its countereffect just provoking the Russian (and Chinese) counteraction in enhancing its own nuclear and other military potentials as Vladimir Putin exactly stressed during his electoral campaigns.

The US’ geopolitical strategy by Zbig

(Vietnam) war criminal Henry Kissinger (ex-US’ Secretary of State), summarized the post-Cold War’s international relations from the American geopolitical viewpoint:

„Geopolitically, America is an island off the shores of the large landmass of Eurasia, whose resources and population far exceed those of the United States. The domination by a single power of either of Eurasia’s two principal spheres – Europe or Asia – remains a good definition of strategic danger for America, Cold War or no Cold War. For such a grouping would have the capacity to outstrip America economically and, in the end, militarily“.[12]

It is not surprising that in the 1990s there were raised voices in Washington which required that the US has to find a way of dominating Eurasia at any reasonable cost. The US’ neocon warmongering hawks, like Zbigniew Brzezinski, recognized that the area of the enlarged Middle East (with the Balkans, North Africa, and Central Asia) is from the strategical viewpoint, economically, ideologically and above all geopolitically at the center of the Eurasian issue. However, the US’ neocon hawks’ much wider global geopolitical aims which were coming closer to the aim to continue domination in the Middle East were launched during the Bill Clinton’s presidency as a result of a wider shift in the American foreign policy’s profile led by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright (“Madam Secretary”) and her extremely Russophobic mentor Zbigniew Brzezinski (known as Zbig).

Warsaw-born Zbig (1928−2017) was a focal personality in the US’ foreign policy’s elite establishment since President Jimmy Carter’s administration in which he was a National Security Advisor. During the Ronald Reagan’s administration, Zbig was the main mediator between Washington and its clients in Afghanistan – the anti-Soviet Taliban forces and Osama bin-Laden with whom Zbig has several common photos (in 1979) on which he is training Osama to operate with just donated American guns to fight the Soviets. Further, Zbig has a great influence on the first Bill Clinton’s administration and he was at the same time an early advocate of the NATO’s eastward expansion (started in 1999). It is assumed that it was exactly Zbig who was instrumental in getting the US’ President Bill Clinton to commit himself to this course of the American imperialism in 1994. Furthermore, Brzezinski’s influence on the US’ foreign policy became stronger during the second Clinton’s administration through a Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright – his former pupil at Columbia University. It is worth to note that Albright was working under his supervision in Carter’s administration. If we have to summarize Zbig’s chief imperatives of the US’ imperialistic global policy and geostrategy of the making America world’s hegemon, they are going to be as follows:

  1. To prevent collusion and maintain security among the US’ vassal states (the NATO/EU).
  2. To keep tributaries pliant and protected.
  3. To keep the barbarians (the Russians and their supporters) from coming together.
  4. To consolidate and perpetuate the prevailing geopolitical pluralism in Eurasia by manipulation in order to prevent the emergence of a hostile coalition that could finally attempt to challenge the US’ supremacy in the world.
  5. Those that must be divided and eventually ruled are Germany, Russia, Japan, Iran, and China.[13]

Former US national security advisor Zbigniew Former US national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski

The American direct and infamous participation in the destruction of ex-Yugoslavia in 1991−1995 followed by the 1998−1999 Kosovo’s War can be understood, therefore, as the steps in the realization of Zbig’s geopolitical strategy of making America global hegemon. The US-led bombing of Serbia and Montenegro from March to June 1999 (78 days) was carried out by enlarged NATO and the UNO was only called at the end to sanctify the resulting colonial policy of Washington. The aggression on Serbia and Montenegro was formally justified by a reference to the TV-show plight of Kosovo’s Albanians, developing at the same time the new doctrine of the „humanitarian imperialism“. We have to keep in mind on this place that the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s were fought in a geographical area which is the crucial courtyard of the Eurasian continent that is as such opening a direct way to the ex-Soviet republics on the shores of the Caspian and the energy sources they control.[14] Nevertheless, Kosovo’s War became for the US the genuine precursor of its later invasion of Iraq in 2003.

„Madam Secretary“ was a firm advocate of bombing Serbia and Serbs in Washington primarily due to the direct influence by notorious Russophobe Zbig who saw the Balkan Serbs as „little Russians“ and the Balkan wars of the destruction of ex-Yugoslavia as a testing ground for the US’ policy throughout the whole Caspian and Central Asian area. However, in addition, being an advocate for the US’ oil companies wishing to establish their business on the territory of ex-Soviet Union in the Caucasus and Central Asia, Zbig regarded the American political and geostrategic supremacy in this region as a crucial aim of the US’ foreign policy in the 1990s. In order to accomplish his aim, among other manipulations and instruments, Zbig championed the American support to the Islamic Pakistan, the Taliban Afghanistan (till 9/11) and the Islamic resurgence in Saudi Arabia and even Iran.[15]

Multidimensional aspect of security

It is true that globalization, stability, and security offer to the countries a greater capacity to cooperate and focus on the economic prosperity of its citizens but in practice, this particularly means much more important businesses and more money for the US’ economy and citizens. Today, security has multidimensional aspects. If during the Cold War security only had a military-political component, today it has gained a new aspect – the economic one. The non-military aspects of security comprise everything from macroeconomic stability to environmental health. The proponents of the US’ global hegemony will all the time argue that where there is a harmony (established by the US) and well-being the chances of conflicts to erupt are smaller and the gain is exclusively financial and economic (primarily for the US).

There is, of course, a combination between interest per se and their consequences. To illustrate, the case of Macedonia could be interesting. Macedonia at the first glance benefits of the US’ military presence on her territory since 1991 as it is a geostrategic spot in the Balkans of the highest importance. As a matter of fact, this military presence maintained Macedonia’s economic level at a higher standard than some of the other countries in the area up to 2001, despite the fact that was still the poorest of the former Yugoslav six republics affected by two economic embargos by Greece in 1991−1993. Macedonia was illustrated till 2001, especially by the Western media, as being a success story in conflict prevention and peace maintenance primarily due to the presence of the US/NATO’s military troops. However, in 2001 erupted inter-ethnic conflict between the Slavic Macedonians and the local Albanians (supported by the Kosovo Liberation Army) what brought the question of the US/NATO’s efficiency in the region.

The NATO’s eastward expansion is a particular story of Zbig’s geostrategic designs against his eternal enemy – Russia. It is a fact that just before the NATO’s aggression on Serbia and Montenegro in 1999, this military organization accepted as the member states three East-Central European countries: Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic (the next eastward enlargement was in 2004). Therefore, the southern flank of the NATO between Hungary and Greece became now interrupted only by the territory of ex-Yugoslavia. Subsequently, such situation gave NATO a considerable strategic interest in controlling the Balkans where the Serbs were the most numerous and geostrategically important nation. However, as a direct effect of the NATO’s eastward enlargement, the Iron Curtain was moved further to the east and closer to Russia’s borders with all spectrum of the expected and unexpected consequences of such anti-Russian Drang nach Osten. Now, the Iron Curtain, once dividing Germany, it came in 1999 to run down the eastern borders of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, ending on the state-borders of the ex-Yugoslav republics, now independent states. The crux of the matter is that a decade-long process of the NATO’s eastward enlargement became at the beginning of 1999 blocked in the Balkans by the Serbs – the only ex-Yugoslav nation firmly opposing a NATO’s membership. Subsequently, it was exactly Washington to assume the role of leading the NATO to the new anti-Russian front and borders. That was the crucial reason why the Serbs had to be bombed in 1999 and Kosovo occupied by the US-led NATO’s troops in the form of the UNO KFOR. What regards this issue, both Zbig and „Madam Secretary“ were clearly speaking through the mouth of the US’ President Bill Clinton: the stability (the US’ control) in the Balkans could only be established if the EU and the USA do for this region what it was done for Europe after the WWII and Central Europe after the Cold War – occupation and economic-financial exploitation within the formal framework of the NATO’s and EU’ (the USA) enlargement.

Conclusion

The brutal expansion of the NATO is very visible since 1999 and even expected if we are taking into consideration the final aims of the US’ foreign policy in Eurasia framed by a notorious foreign policy gangster – Zbigniew Brzezinski. As a consequence, the EU is going to continue to be America’s main colonial partner in the NATO’s preparations for the war of aggression against Russia and most probably at the same time China. Subsequently, there will be a need for much work and a common will to overcome violence, injustice, and suffering in order to achieve a global security without the hegemonic dominance by any great power.[16]

Endnotes:

[1] Andrew J. Bacevich, American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy, Cambridge, Massachusetts−London, England: Harvard University Press, 2002, the page before 1.

[2] On the Western approach about a modern Yugoslav history, see in Allcock B. John, Explaining Yugoslavia, London: Hurst & Co, 2000; David Gowland, Richard Dunphy, Charlotte Lythe, The European Mosaic: Contemporary Politics, Economics and Culture, Third Edition, Harlow, Essex, England: Pearson Education Limited, 2006, Section 5.3 Yugoslavia.

[3] About the destruction of ex-Yugoslavia and particularly on the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, see in Jelena Guskova, Istorija jugoslovenske krize 1990−2000, Beograd: Izdavački grafički atelje “M”, 2003.

[4] Вељко Ђурић Мишина (уредник), Република Српска Крајина. Десет година послије, Београд: „Добра воља“, 2005, 48.

[5] On this issue, see more in Zoran Anđelović, Miroslav Marković (eds.), Days of Terror (In the Presence of the International Forces), Belgrade: Center for Peace and Tolerance, 2000; Dragan Kojadinović (ed.), March Pogrom in Kosovo and Metohija (March 17−19, 2004) With a Survey of Destroyed and Endangered Christian Cultural Heritage, Belgrade: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia−Museum in Priština (displaced), 2004.

[6] Pierre Pean, Sébastien Fontenelle, Kosovo une guerre juste” pour créer un etat mafieux, Paris: Librairie Arthème Fayard, 2013.

[7] This article is a constructive-critical contribution to the new, revised and updated edition of the memoirs of the “Madam Secretary”.

[8] About the post-Cold War’s US’ foreign policy, especially through the prism of the “Bush Doctrine”, see in David P. Forsythe, Patrice C. McMahon, Andrew Wedeman (eds.), American Foreign Policy in a Globalized World, New York−London: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2006.

[9] About a typical American approach on the case of Yugoslavia’s destruction in the 1990s, see in Susan L. Woodward, Balkan Tragedy: Chaos and Dissolution after the Cold War, Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1995. However, the focal lack of such books is the fact that a crucial US/EU/NATO’ role in creating Balkan tragedy and Yugoslavia’s chaos is omitted.

[10] Hannes Hofbauer, Eksperiment Kosovo: Povratak kolonijalizma, Beograd: Albatros Plus, 2009.

[11] There are well-known words by Theodor Roosevelt uttered in December 1899: “Of course, our whole national history has been one of expansion”.

[12] John Rees, Imperialism and Resistance, New York−London: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2006, 18.

[13] Ibid., 19−20.

[14] About the issue of a strategic environment from the Adriatic to the Caspian, see in Stefano Bianchini (ed.), From the Adriatic to the Caucasus: The Dynamics of (De)Stabilization, Ravenna: Longo Editore Ravenna, 2001.

[15] Differently to all other American warmongers and imperialistic hawks, Zbig favors the alliance with the Shia Islamic Republic of Iran.

[16] On global security, see in Peter Hough, Understanding Global Security, Third edition, New York−London: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2005.

 

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Trump hands over written responses to Mueller’s Russia probe questions

The written answers submitted by Trump Tuesday have the same legal implications as an oral testimony, meaning that if the statements are proven false, he might be accused of perjury.

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A lawyer for Donald Trump has confirmed that the US President has submitted answers to the questions penned by FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. The questions refer to the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Moscow.

“The president today answered written questions submitted by the special counsel’s office,” Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow said in a statement, as cited by AP.

The issues Trump covered in his responses are “the Russia-related topics of the inquiry,” Sekulow said. Trump’s legal team has indicated that the president would not answer any additional questions aside from potential follow-ups. Likewise, Trump is not expected to answer any questions that refer to allegations of obstruction of justice, with his lawyers insisting that the constitution protects the sitting President from answering questions on policies he conducted while in office.

Trump’s personal lawyer Rudi Giuliani said Tuesday, that “much of what has been asked raised serious constitutional issues and was beyond the scope of a legitimate inquiry,” without elaborating.

Giuliani has not ruled out that Trump might answer further questions if forwarded by Mueller, but said that it is “unlikely we will answer any more questions.”

The contents of both the answers and the questions themselves will not be made public, Sekulow said.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Trump said he prepared the answers himself, and that it did not take him “very long.”

The written answers submitted by Trump Tuesday have the same legal implications as an oral testimony, meaning that if the statements are proven false, he might be accused of perjury.

Trump’s cooperation with Mueller’s office has been seen as a compromise. The president’s attitude toward a potential face-to-face interview with the federal prosecutor has shifted over time. Back in January Trump said that he was “looking forward” to speaking under oath. He doubled down in May, saying that he “would love” to sit down for an interview with Mueller “if treated fairly.” There have been reports, however, that the president’s legal team has been staunchly opposed to a personal encounter between Trump and Mueller and eventually talked the president out of it.

The personal interview might still happen if Mueller’s office issues a subpoena for Trump to testify. However, it would first need to be signed off on by the Acting Attorney General, the probe’s well-known critic Matthew Whitaker, and even then it could be thrown out by the Supreme Court.

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Russia Lures International Arms Buyers With Half-Priced, More Effective Missile System

The Russian S-400 mobile long-range surface-to-air missile system costs around $500 million, vs. the $1 billion price tag for a US-made Raytheon Patriot Pac-2 battery.

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Russia has been pitching a rival missile platform that costs half of those made by US companies, reports CNBC, which has resulted in several countries dealing with the Kremlin “despite the potential for blowback.”

Sefa Karacan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The Russian S-400 mobile long-range surface-to-air missile system costs around $500 million, vs. the $1 billion price tag for a US-made Raytheon Patriot Pac-2 battery, while a THAAD battery made by Lockheed Martin costs just about $3 billion, according to people with first-hand knowledge of a US intelligence assessment.

Nearly 13 countries have expressed interest in buying Russia’s S-400, a move that could trigger potential U.S. sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which President Donald Trump signed in August 2017. In September, the U.S. slapped sanctions on China  for buying fighter jets and missiles from Russia. However, the U.S. could grant sanction waivers. –CNBC

Turkey, meanwhile, may be hit with US sanctions over their decision to purchase the S-400 defense system, which the United States says poses a risk to its F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter platform.

Meanwhile, India called the United States’ bluff over sanctions in late Ocotber, standing its ground in its decision to buy the S-400.

One of the reasons Russian systems are generally considered less expensive than their American counterparts is because they don’t include pricey ongoing maintenance.

“When foreign militaries buy American, above and beyond the purchase, they are buying a partnership with the U.S. military,” Andrew Hunter, director of the Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told CNBC. “And that plus the maintenance and technical assistance is a big part of the cost difference.

The S-400 system made its debut in 2007, succeeding the S-200 and S-300 missile systems. According to CNBC, “the Russian-made S-400 is capable of engaging a wider array of targets, at longer ranges and against multiple threats simultaneously,” vs. US-made systems.

In terms of capability, one source noted that while there is no perfect weapon, the S-400 eclipses even THAAD, America’s missile defense crown jewel.

When asked why nations seek to buy the S-400 instead of America’s Patriot or THAAD systems, one of the people with knowledge of the intelligence report explained that foreign militaries aren’t willing to stick with the cumbersome process of buying weapons from the U.S. government. –CNBC

“Many of these countries do not want to wait for U.S. regulatory hurdles,” said a CNBC source with first hand knowledge of the assessment. “The S-400 has less export restrictions and the Kremlin is willing to expedite sales by skipping over any regulatory hurdles.

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