Ukraine Ceasefire Takes Hold, but an Expanding NATO on Russia’s Borders Raises Threat of Nuclear War

Democracy Now!

9/5/14

[partial transcript]

… STEPHEN COHEN: One latest development is related to what Juan just said about New York kids. There are about a million refugees from eastern Ukraine, most of them having fled to Russia, a lot of kids. Traditionally in Ukraine and Russia, the first day of school is September 1. There are about 50,000 to 70,000 kids who needed to have started school. The Russians have made every effort to get them in school, but there are a lot of little Ukrainian kids who won’t be going to school this September yet, because they’re living in refugee camps. And that’s the story, of course.

This is a horrific, tragic, completely unnecessary war in eastern Ukraine. In my own judgment, we have contributed mightily to this tragedy. I would say that historians one day will look back and say that America has blood on its hands. Three thousand people have died, most of them civilians who couldn’t move quickly. That’s women with small children, older women. A million refugees. Talk of a ceasefire that might go into place today, which would be wonderful, because nobody else should die for absolutely no reason.

But what’s driving the new developments, and partially the NATO meeting in Wales, but this stunning development, that Juan mentioned, reported in The New York Review of Books, though a handful of us in this country have been trying to get it into the media for nearly two weeks, is that it appeared that the Ukrainian army would conquer eastern Ukraine. But what they were doing is sitting outside the cities, bombarding these cities with aircraft, rockets, heavy artillery. That’s what caused the 3,000 deaths and the refugees. They’ve seriously damaged the entire infrastructure, industrial infrastructure, of Ukraine, which is in these eastern cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, the so-called Donbas region.

It turned out, though, that the Ukrainian army didn’t want to enter these cities, where the rebels were embedded, ensconced. It’s their homes; these fighters are mainly from these cities. And while this killing was going on, the rebels were regrouping. Now, there’s an argument: How much help did they get from Russia? Some people are saying Russia invaded. Others say, no, Russia just gave them some technical and organizational support. But whatever happened in the last 10 days, there’s been one of the most remarkable military turnarounds we’ve witnessed in many years, and the Ukrainian army is not only being defeated, but it’s on the run. It’s fleeing. It wants no more of this. It’s leaving its heavy equipment behind. It’s really in full-scale retreat, except in one place, the city Juan mentioned, Mariupol, where there’s a fight going on as we talk now. The rebels have the city encircled. Whether that fighting will stop if the ceasefire is announced in the next couple hours, we don’t know. It’s a very important city. But everything has now changed. If there’s negotiation, the government of Ukraine, Poroshenko, the president, our President Obama and NATO thought that when negotiations began, the West would dictate the terms to Putin because they won the war in Ukraine. Now it’s the reverse…

AMY GOODMAN: The possibility of Ukraine in NATO and what that means and what—

STEPHEN COHEN: Nuclear war.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain.

STEPHEN COHEN: Next question. I mean, it’s clear. It’s clear. First of all, by NATO’s own rules, Ukraine cannot join NATO, a country that does not control its own territory. In this case, Kiev controls less and less by the day. It’s lost Crimea. It’s losing the Donbas—I just described why—to the war. A country that does not control its own territory cannot join Ukraine [sic]. Those are the rules.

AMY GOODMAN: Cannot join—

STEPHEN COHEN: I mean, NATO. Secondly, you have to meet certain economic, political and military criteria to join NATO. Ukraine meets none of them. Thirdly, and most importantly, Ukraine is linked to Russia not only in terms of being Russia’s essential security zone, but it’s linked conjugally, so to speak, intermarriage. There are millions, if not tens of millions, of Russian and Ukrainians married together. Put it in NATO, and you’re going to put a barricade through millions of families. Russia will react militarily.

In fact, Russia is already reacting militarily, because look what they’re doing in Wales today. They’re going to create a so-called rapid deployment force of 4,000 fighters. What is 4,000 fighters? Fifteen thousand or less rebels in Ukraine are crushing a 50,000-member Ukrainian army. Four thousand against a million-man Russian army, it’s nonsense. The real reason for creating the so-called rapid deployment force is they say it needs infrastructure. And the infrastructure—that is, in plain language is military bases—need to be on Russia’s borders. And they’ve said where they’re going to put them: in the Baltic republic, Poland and Romania.

Now, why is this important? Because NATO has expanded for 20 years, but it’s been primarily a political expansion, bringing these countries of eastern Europe into our sphere of political influence; now it’s becoming a military expansion. So, within a short period of time, we will have a new—well, we have a new Cold War, but here’s the difference. The last Cold War, the military confrontation was in Berlin, far from Russia. Now it will be, if they go ahead with this NATO decision, right plunk on Russia’s borders. Russia will then leave the historic nuclear agreement that Reagan and Gorbachev signed in 1987 to abolish short-range nuclear missiles. It was the first time nuclear—a category of nuclear weapons had ever been abolished. Where are, by the way, the nuclear abolitionists today? Where is the grassroots movement, you know, FREEZE, SANE? Where have these people gone to? Because we’re looking at a new nuclear arms race. Russia moves these intermediate missiles now to protect its own borders, as the West comes toward Russia. And the tripwire for using these weapons is enormous.

One other thing. Russia has about, I think, 10,000 tactical nuclear weapons, sometimes called battlefield nuclear weapons. You use these for short distances. They can be fired; you don’t need an airplane or a missile to fly them. They can be fired from artillery. But they’re nuclear. They’re radioactive. They’ve never been used. Russia has about 10,000. We have about 500. Russia’s military doctrine clearly says that if Russia is threatened by overwhelming conventional forces, we will use tactical nuclear weapons. So when Obama boasts, as he has on two occasions, that our conventional weapons are vastly superior to Russia, he’s feeding into this argument by the Russian hawks that we have to get our tactical nuclear weapons ready.

Stephen Cohen is professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University. He’s also the author of a number of books on Russia and the Soviet Union. His latest piece in The Nation is headlined “Patriotic Heresy vs. the New Cold War: Neo-McCarthyites Have Stifled Democratic Debate on Russia and Ukraine.”

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America’s Covert Re-Invasion of Iraq

Image: ISIS clearly did not materialize spontaneously within Iraq, it has
clearly redeployed from its NATO-sponsored destruction of Syria to
northern Iraq, perhaps in an attempt to justify a NATO incursion and the
creation of a buffer zone straddling Syrian, Iraqi, and even possibly
Iranian territory with the goal of targeting Iran directly with ISIS.  

http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com                                                           Originally posted June 13, 2014 (Tony Cartalucci – LD) – Heavily armed, well funded, and organized as a professional, standing army, the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) swept southward into Iraq from Turkey and northeastern Syria, taking the cities of Mosul and Tikrit, and now threaten the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad itself. The United States was sure to prop up two unfounded narratives – the first being that US intelligence agencies, despite assets in Iraq and above it in the form of surveillance drones, failed to give warning of the invasion, and that ISIS is some sort of self-sustaining terror organization carving out a “state” by “robbing banks” and collecting “donations” on Twitter.

The Wall Street Journal in its report, “Iraqi Drama Catches U.S. Off Guard,” stated:

The quickly unfolding drama prompted a White House meeting Wednesday of top policy makers and military leaders who were caught off guard by the swift collapse of Iraqi security forces, officials acknowledged.

In another WSJ post, “U.S. Secretly Flying Drones Over Iraq,” it claimed:

A senior U.S. official said the intelligence collected under the small [secret US drone] program was shared with Iraqi forces, but added: “It’s not like it did any good.” The rapid territorial gains by the Islamist forces loyal to Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, an al Qaeda offshoot, caught the U.S. by surprise, the officials said.

Image: ISIS has convoys of brand new matching Toyota’s the same
vehicles seen among admittedly NATO-armed terrorists operating
everywhere from Libya to Syria, and now Iraq. It is a synthetic, state-
sponsored regional mercenary expeditionary force.

Despite drone flights collecting intelligence, and a 3-year ongoing CIA program (here, here, and here) all along the Turkish-Syrian border to “monitor” and “arm” “moderate” militants fighting the Syrian government, the US claims it was caught “by surprise.” If drones and CIA operatives operating in ISIS territory weren’t enough to detect the impending invasion, perhaps the CIA should have just picked up a newspaper.

Indeed, the Lebanon Daily Start in March 2014 reported that ISIS openly withdrew its forces from Latakia and Idlib provinces in western Syria, and redeployed them in Syria’s east – along the Syrian-Iraqi border. The article titled, “Al-Qaeda splinter group in Syria leaves two provinces: activists,” stated explicitly that:

On Friday, ISIS – which alienated many rebels by seizing territory and killing rival commanders – finished withdrawing from the Idlib and Latakia provinces and moved its forces toward the eastern Raqqa province and the eastern outskirts of the northern city of Aleppo, activists said.

The question remains, if a Lebanese newspaper knew ISIS was on the move eastward, why didn’t the CIA? The obvious answer is the CIA did know, and is simply feigning ignorance at the expense of their reputation to bait its enemies into suspecting the agency of  incompetency rather than complicity in the horrific terroristic swath ISIS is now carving through northern Iraq.


Described extensively in the full New Eastern Outlook Journal (NEO) report, “NATO’s Terror Hordes in Iraq a Pretext for Syria Invasion,” the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, have funded and armed terrorists operating in Syria for the past 3 years to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars – coincidentally the same amount that ISIS would require to gain primacy among militant groups fighting in Syria and to mobilize forces capable of crossing into Iraq and overwhelming Baghdad’s national defenses.

Image: The most prominent routes into Syria for foreign fighters is depicted, with the inset graph describing the most widely used routes by foreign fighters on their way to Iraq, as determined by West Point’s 2007 Combating Terrorism Center report Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq” (page 20).  These same networks were then used to invade and attempt to overthrow the Syrian government itself in 2011, with the addition of a more prominent role for Turkey, and today in 2014, to re-invade Iraq once again. 

The NEO report includes links to the US Army’s West Point Countering Terrorism Center reports, “Bombers, Bank Accounts and Bleedout: al-Qa’ida’s Road In and Out of Iraq,” and “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq,” which detail extensively the terror network used to flood Iraq with foreign terrorists, weapons, and cash to fuel an artificial “sectarian war” during the US occupation, and then turned over to flood Syria with terrorists in the West’s bid to overthrow the government in Damascus.

What’s ISIS Doing in Iraq? 
The NEO report would also post Seymour Hersh’s 2007 article, “The Redirection,” documenting over the course of 9 pages US, Saudi, and Israeli intentions to create and deploy sectarian extremists region-wide to confront Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hersh would note that these “sectarian extremists” were either tied to Al Qaeda, or Al Qaeda itself. The ISIS army moving toward Baghdad is the final manifestation of this conspiracy, a standing army operating with impunity, threatening to topple the Syrian government, purge pro-Iranian forces in Iraq, and even threatening Iran itself by building a bridge from Al Qaeda’s NATO safe havens in Turkey, across northern Iraq, and up to Iran’s borders directly. Labeled “terrorists” by the West, grants the West plausible deniability in its creation, deployment, and across the broad spectrum of atrocities it is now carrying out.

Image: ISIS’s alleged territory spans across both Iraqi and Syrian
territory. If it is able to establish a NATO-backed buffer zone, it will be
able to launch attacks with impunity into Syria, Iraq, and Iran – in a
region-wide sectarian war the West has been engineering for years. 

It is a defacto re-invasion of Iraq by Western interests – but this time without Western forces directly participating – rather a proxy force the West is desperately attempting to disavow any knowledge of or any connection to. However, no other explanation can account for the size and prowess of ISIS beyond state sponsorship. And since ISIS is the clear benefactor of state sponsorship, the question is, which states are sponsoring it? With Iraq, Syria, and Iran along with Lebanese-based Hezbollah locked in armed struggle with ISIS and other Al Qaeda franchises across the region, the only blocs left are NATO and the GCC (Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular).

With the West declaring ISIS fully villainous in an attempt to intervene more directly in northern Iraq and eastern Syria, creating a long desired “buffer zone” within which to harbor, arm, and fund an even larger terrorist expeditionary force, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and others are offered an opportunity to preempt Western involvement and to crush the ISIS – cornering and eliminating NATO-GCC’s expeditionary force while scoring geopolitical points of vanquishing Washington’s latest “villain.” Joint Iraq-Iranian operations in the north and south of ISIS’s locations, and just along Turkey’s borders could envelop and trap ISIS to then be whittled down and destroyed – just as Syria has been doing to NATO’s proxy terrorist forces within its own borders.

Whatever the regional outcome may be, the fact is the West has re-invaded Iraq, with a force as brutal, if not worse than the “shock and awe” doctrine of 2003. Iraq faces another difficult occupation if it cannot summon a response from within, and among its allies abroad, to counter and crush this threat with utmost expediency.

Carnival in Crimea

By Pepe Escobar

atimes.com

Time waits for no one, but apparently will wait for Crimea. The speaker of the Crimean parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, has confirmed there will be a referendum on greater autonomy from Ukraine on May 25.

Until then, Crimea will be as hot and steamy as carnival in Rio – because Crimea is all about Sevastopol, the port of call for the Russian Black Sea fleet.

If the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a bull, this is the red flag to end all red flags. Even if you’re deep in alcohol nirvana dancin’ your troubles away at carnival in Rio – or New Orleans, or Venice, or Trinidad and Tobago – your brain will have registered that NATO’s ultimate wet dream is to command a Western puppet Ukrainian government to kick the Russian navy out of its base in Sevastopol. The negotiated lease applies until 2042. Threats and rumors of reneging it have already emerged.

The absolute majority of the Crimean peninsula is populated by Russian speakers. Very few Ukrainians live there. In 1954, it took only 15 minutes for Ukrainian Nikita Krushchev – he of the banging shoe at the UN floor – to give Crimea as a free gift to Ukraine (then part of the USSR). In Russia, Crimea is perceived as Russian. Nothing will change that fact.

We’re not facing a new Crimean War – yet. Only up to a point. NATO’s wet dream is one thing; it is quite another to pull it off – as in ending the Russian fleet routinely leaving Sevastopol across the Black Sea through the Bosphorus and then reaching Tartus, Syria’s Mediterranean port. So yes, this is as much about Syria as about Crimea.

The new Ukrainian Orange, Tangerine, Campari, Aperol Spritz or Tequila Sunrise revolution seems so far to have answered NATO’s prayers. But it’s a long and winding road for NATO to reenact the 1850s and remix the original Crimean War.

For the foreseeable future, we will be drowning in a white sea of platitudes. As in Pentagon supremo Chuck Hagel “warning” Russia to stay out of the turmoil, while NATO’s defense ministers issue the requisite pile of statements that no one reads “showing support” for the new leadership, and corporate shills reassure the populace this is not a new Cold War. [1]

Dance to my strategy, suckers
Where’s H L Mencken when we need him? No one ever lost money underestimating the mendacity of the Pentagon/NATO/CIA/State Department system. Especially now, when Ukrainian policy seems to have been subcontracted by the Obama administration to the likes of neo-con Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland, married to Dubya darling neo-con Robert Kagan.

As Immanuel Wallerstein has already observed, [2] Nuland, Kagan and the neo-con gang are as much terrified of Russia “dominating” Ukraine as of a slowly emerging, and eventually quite possible, geopolitical alliance between Germany (with France as a junior partner) and Russia. That would mean the heart of the European Union forging a counter-power to the dwindling, increasingly wobbly American power.

And as the current embodiment of wobbly American power, the Obama administration is really in a class by itself. They are now lost in their own, self-concocted “pivot” maze. Which pivot comes first? That one to China? But then we need to pivot to Iran first – to end that Middle East distraction. Or maybe not.

Take this latest sound bite by US Secretary of State John Kerry, on Iran: “We took the initiative and led the effort to try to figure out if before we go to war there actually might be a peaceful solution.”

So suddenly it’s not about a nuclear deal to be possibly attained in 2014 anymore; it’s about “if before we go to war”. It’s about bombing a possible deal so the Empire may bomb a country – again. Or maybe that’s just a wet dream supplied by the Likudnik puppet masters.

The great Michael Hudson has speculated that “multi-dimensional chess” might be “guiding US moves in the Ukraine”. Not really. It’s more like if we can’t pivot to China – yet – and if the pivot to Iran is going to fail anyway (because we want it to), we might as well pivot somewhere else. Oh yes, that pesky place that prevented us from bombing Syria; it’s called Russia. And all that under the profound guidance of Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland. Where’s a neo-Aristophanes to chronicle these marvels?

And never forget US corporate media. That CNN hack has been Amanpouring lately about the Budapest Agreement – stressing Russia should stay out of Ukraine. Well, visibly a horde of producers at ratings-falling-to-the-floor CNN have not even read the Budapest Agreement which, as University of Illinois professor Francis Boyle has noted, “also states that the US, Russia, Ukraine, and UK need to immediately jointly ‘consult’ – meaning meet at least at the foreign minister level”.

So who pays the bills?
The new prime minister of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, is – what else – a “technocratic reformer”, code for Western puppet. [3] Ukraine is a (torn) basket case. The currency has fallen 20% since the start of 2014. Millions of unemployed Europeans know the European Union does not have the dough to bail out the country (perhaps Ukrainians could ask former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for some tips).

In Pipelineistan terms, Ukraine is an appendix to Russia; it’s Russian gas that transits through Ukraine to European markets. And Ukrainian industry depends on the Russian market.

Let’s take a closer look at the new Aperol Spritz “revolutionary” wallet. Every month, the natural gas import bill from Russia is roughly US$1 billion. In January, the country also had to spend $1.1 billion in debt repayment. Foreign currency reserves plunged to $17.8 billion from $20.4 billion. Ukraine has a minimum debt repayment of no less than $17 billion in 2014. They even had to cancel a $2 billion eurobond issue late last week.

Frankly, Russian President Vladimir Putin – aka Vlad the Hammer – must be grinning like the Cheshire cat. He could simply erase the significant 33% discount on natural gas imports he gave Kiev late last year. Rumor after rumor already state – ominously – that the Aperol Spritz revolutionaries won’t have the cash to pay pensions and public servants’ salaries. In June comes a monster payment to a bunch of creditors ($1 billion in debt will mature). Afterwards, it’s bleaker than north Siberia in winter.

The US offer of $1 billion is risible. And all this after the “”F**k the EU” “strategy” of Victoria Nuland torpedoed an Ukrainian transitional government – by the way, negotiated by the EU – which might have kept the Russians on board, money-wise.

Without Russia, Ukraine will totally depend on the West to pay all its bills, not to mention avoid being bankrupt. That amounts to a whopping $30 billion until the end of 2014. Unlike Egypt, they cannot dial the House of Saud’s number and ask for some juicy petrodollars. That $15 billion loan from Russia promised recently could come in handy – but Moscow must get something in return.

The notion that Putin will order a military attack on the Ukraine should be billed to US corporate media’s sub-zoological intellectual quotient. Vlad the Hammer just needs to watch the circus – as in the West squabbling about where to get those billions to be squandered in a (torn) basket case. Or the International Monetary Fund churning out yet another dreadful “structural adjustment” to send Ukraine’s population back to the Paleolithic.

Crimea could even stage its own delayed carnival, voting not only for more autonomy but to leave the (torn) basket case altogether. In this case, Putin will even get Crimea for free – Krushchev-style. Not a bad deal. Thanks to that oh so strategic “F**k the EU” Russian “pivot”.

Notes:
1. US and Britain say Ukraine is not a battleground between East and West, Daily Telegraph, February 26, 2014.
2. See here.
3. Biden: U.S. Supports Ukraine’s New Government, Voice of America, February 27, 2014.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com

——————————————————————

CARNIVAL IN CRIMEA – A POSTCRIPT

3/1/14

https://www.facebook.com/pepe.escobar.77377

Russia did not invade Crimea. Russian troops were already there by treaty.

Crimea’s referendum will now be on March 30. And Crimea ASKED FOR HELP FROM RUSSIA. Western corporate media hysteria about Russia “invading” Ukraine is beyond ridiculous.

Russian troops in Crimea ARE LEGAL. According to the SOFA in place Moscow may deploy up to 30,000 soldiers. At the moment, there are less than 15,000, if that.

Don’t mess with Russian intelligence. Even before neo-con Vic “f#$* the EU” Nuland’s intercept, they had already identified the wider mechanics of the CIA-style coup – including Turkish intelligence financing Tatars in Crimea.

First Crimea – then there will be East Ukraine, from Dnipro to Donetsk. Like Crimea, they will ask for Russian support, military or otherwise. Thus the long-term scenario of all of them possibly joining the Russian Federation.

The coup in Kiev ONLY WORKS IF THE “WEST” – AS IN NATO – GETS CRIMEA. Otherwise it’s void.

And what will the Tatars in Crimea do? Stage a jihad? Wait: the “West” will surely try to FINANCE THIS JIHAD.

Very possible endgame: the “West” gets a bankrupt back of beyond (West Ukraine). Russia gets the industrialized East Ukraine, not to mention ultra-strategic Crimea.

Defeated NATO Dangerously Desperate in Syria

landdestroyer.blogspot.com

Did the West Gas Thousands to Rescue Failed Syrian War?

August 25, 2013 – (Tony Cartalucci) As far back as 2007, it was a documented fact that the West, including the United States and its allies Saudi Arabia and Israel, conspired to use terrorists drawn from the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda in an attempt to overthrow the governments of Iran and Syria.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 New Yorker article, “The Redirection,” stated (emphasis added):

“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

Starting in 2011, this conspiracy was catapulted into all out war – albeit behind the tenuous smokescreen of “pro-democracy activists” and the so-called “Free Syrian Army” fighting for “freedom” within and along Syria’s borders.

Not only has this conspiracy been exposed, but it has categorically failed. The Syrian government has routed even the most dug-in terrorist proxies, making irreversible gains against a clearly depleted enemy. While the US continuously threatens to “arm the opposition,” it is a fact that any and all weapons, cash, and support the US had, it has already sent over the last 3 years. This includes untold millions in cash, and literally thousands of tons of weaponry airlifted by the US and UK. The US and its regional allies have also scoured the global extremist networks they have built up over decades for every last fighter they could possible find – all to no avail.

There is nothing left  except direct military intervention, which cannot be sold as helping an opposition now clearly exposed as being Al Qaeda. That means, the humanitarian intervention, “right to protect” (R2P) must be wiped clean of NATO’s lies and crimes in Libya, and prepared for Syria. Only what exactly could the West use to justify an intervention against the Syrian government that is worse than what it and its proxies have already done to tens of thousands of Syrian civilians?

With a victorious Syrian government mopping up NATO’s terrorist proxies and currently hosting UN chemical weapons inspectors in Damascus, the use of chemical weapons now would defy all logic – from a tactical level, to a strategic and political level. Chemical weapons, according to the US military’s own reviews of their extensive use in the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980’s, reveal the true nature of chemical warfare – a truth the Western media has all but avoided in their speculative and purposefully manipulative coverage of the alleged incident.

A document produced by the US Marine Corps, titled, “Lessons Learned: The Iran-Iraq War” under “Appendix B: Chemical Weapons,” provides a comprehensive look at the all-out chemical warfare that took place during the devastating 8 year Iranian-Iraqi conflict. Several engagements are studied in detail, revealing large amounts of chemical agents deployed mainly to create areas of denial, not mass casualties. In the end, it is determined that conventional weapons are by far more effective and more preferable.

The effectiveness and lethality of chemical weapons is summarized in the document as follows (emphasis added):

Chemical weapons require quite particular weather and geographic conditions for optimum effectiveness. Given the relative nonpersistence of all agents employed during this war, including mustard, there was only a brief window of employment opportunity both daily and seasonally, when the agents could be used. Even though the Iraqis employed mustard agent in the rainy season and also in the marshes, its effectiveness was significantly reduced under those conditions. As the Iraqis learned to their chagrin, mustard is not a good agent to employ in the mountains, unless you own the high ground and your enemy is in the valleys.

We are uncertain as to the relative effectiveness of nerve agents since those which were employed are by nature much less persistent than mustard. In order to gain killing concentrations of these agents, predawn attacks are best, conducted in areas where the morning breezes are likely to blow away from friendly positions.

Chemical weapons have a low kill ratio. Just as in WWl, during which the ratio of deaths to injured from chemicals was 2-3 percent, that figure appears to be borne out again in this war although reliable data on casualties are very difficult to obtain. We deem it remarkable that the death rate should hold at such a low level even with the introduction of nerve agents. If those rates are correct, as they well may be, this further reinforces the position that we must not think of chemical weapons as “a poor man’s nuclear weapon.” While such weapons have great psychological potential, they are not killers or destroyers on a scale with nuclear or biological weapons.

Therefore, had the Syrian government used chemical weapons and somehow was able to create the perfect circumstances to create mass casualties, they did so solely to produce an abhorrent civilian death toll and the perfect pretext for Western intervention, knowing full well such weapons would be otherwise useless in battling armed formations. Since Syria’s chemical weapons would most likely be under the lock and key of its most elite forces, as they are in Iran, revealed in a RAND Corporation document, that would mean that their use was approved by the highest ranking members of the Syrian government and military – this would be the same government and military that exhibited unlimited restraint against intentional and coordinated provocations carried out by NATO-member Turkey and their regional partner, Israel – restraint exhibited solely to avoid providing the West with the pretext for direct military intervention.

Why then would the Syrian government choose now, of all times, to give the West exactly what it was looking for, right as the window was closing on the West to accomplish its goals versus Syria and neighboring Iran?

The answer is, the Syrian government did not use chemical weapons in Damascus, or elsewhere. And while the strawman currently being knocked down by the Western media is whether the attacks were faked or real, the stark reality is that NATO and its terrorist proxies most likely did expose a large number of people to something, seeking mass casualties in a last ditch effort to salvage what is clearly the end of their “Arab Spring” blitzkrieg.

As previously reported, NATO and its proxies in Syria have both the means and the motivation to carry out chemical weapon attacks.This includes access to Libya’s stockpile of chemical weapons and a NATO-enabled pipeline feeding fighters, cash, and weapons from Libya into Syria via NATO-member Turkey.

Image: (via the Guardian) “Chemical containers in the Libyan desert. There are concerns unguarded weapons could fall into the hands of Islamist militants. Photograph: David Sperry/AP”


It was also confirmed that the US had been providing select terrorist units operating in Syria, training in the handling of chemical weapons. CNN had reported in December of 2012, in a report titled, “Sources: U.S. helping underwrite Syrian rebel training on securing chemical weapons,” that: 

The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday.

The training, which is taking place in Jordan and Turkey, involves how to monitor and secure stockpiles and handle weapons sites and materials, according to the sources. Some of the contractors are on the ground in Syria working with the rebels to monitor some of the sites, according to one of the officials.

NATO not only ensured that chemical weapons in Libya remained in the hands of a proxy regime now openly arming, aiding, and sending fighters to assist terrorists in Syria, but also appears to have ensured these terrorists possessed the know-how on handling and using these weapons.

While absolutely nothing adds up across the West’s corporate media networks, one story that does add up is the claim by Syrian troops that terrorist tunnels have been discovered containing chemical agents – as reported in Reuters’ article, “Syrian soldiers enter rebel tunnels, find chemical agents: state TV.”

What we are now witnessing is an attempt by the West’s corporate-financier establishment to push for direct intervention faster than the facts can come out over what exactly happened near Damascus. Just as was the case in Afghanistan, Iraq, and  Libya, the West hopes people can be made hysterical enough, long enough, to get a “foot in the door,” so the bombs can start dropping. Failing to do so at this juncture would spell the absolute end of the West’s current plans versus Syria and Iran – and so however tenuous and discredited this latest plot may seem, expect dangerous desperation from the West.

Now more than ever, Syria and its allies must be prepared to defend against provocations both militarily and diplomatically.