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Unheeded Warnings: US Armed Attempts to Overthrow Syria Risk Nuclear War


October 16, 2016
Washington's Blog & Robert Parry / Consortium News

Turkey, Saudi Arabia and US neocons seek an invasion that could kill Russian troops inside Syria. The Russians have warned that Moscow is prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons if Turkish and Saudi troops invade Syria. (The Russians note they were "invited" into Syria.) History shows that crisis interactions, once triggered, take on a life of their own. Miscalculations, misinterpretations and loss of control create a fog of crisis in which low-level military encounters could quickly lead to a nuclear catastrophe.

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/01/top-russian-american-polish-leaders-warn-continued-fighting-ukraine-lead-nuclear-war.html

Top Russian, American and Polish Leaders Warn that
Continued Fighting In Ukraine Could Lead to Nuclear War

The Stakes Are Too High Not to Negotiate Peace

Washington's Blog

(January 9, 2015) -- Former Soviet leader and Nobel prize winner Mikhail Gorbachev warned today that the battle in Ukraine could result in a nuclear war:

"A war of this kind would unavoidably lead to a nuclear war," the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize winner told Der Spiegel news magazine, according to excerpts released on Friday.

"We won't survive the coming years if someone loses their nerve in this overheated situation," added Gorbachev, 83. "This is not something I'm saying thoughtlessly. I am extremely concerned."


One of America's top experts on Russia -- Steven Cohen -- has warned that failure to negotiate a peace treaty in Ukraine could lead to nuclear war.

Steven Starr -- a nuclear arms expert and senior scientist for Physicians for Social Responsibility -- warns that proposed US legislation would be a direct path towards nuclear war with Russia.

Former Polish president -- and famed anti-communist activist -- Lech Walesa also warned that the US and NATO's arming of Ukraine could lead to a nuclear war.

Leading American political activist Noam Chomsky agrees.

Australian doctor and Nobel prize winner Helen Caldicott warns:
The expansion of NATO to Russia's borders is "very, very dangerous," Caldicott said. "There is no way a war between the United States and Russia could start and not go nuclear. . . . The United States and Russia have enormous stockpiles of these weapons. Together they have 94 percent of all the 16,300 nuclear weapons in the world."

"We are in a very fallible, very dangerous situation operated by mere mortals," she warned. "The nuclear weapons, are sitting there, thousands of them. They are ready to be used."

***
Caldicott strongly criticized Obama administration policymakers for their actions in forward positioning US and NATO military units in countries of Eastern Europe in response to Russian support of breakaway separatists in the provinces of eastern Ukraine. On --, the US government announced the deployment of the Ironhorse Brigade, an elite armored cavalry unit of the US Army to the former Soviet republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, along the historic invasion route from the West to St. Petersburg.

"Do they really want a nuclear war with Russia?" she asked "The only war that you can have with Russia is a nuclear war. . . . You don't provoke paranoid countries armed with nuclear weapons."
. . .
Indeed, Eric Zuesse says that the risks are so high -- and the American leaders so reckless -- that Russia is preparing for an expected nuclear attack by the US

Postscript: In the 1987 book To Win a Nuclear War: The Pentagon's Secret War Plans, one of the world's leading physicists -- Michio Kaku -- revealed declassified plans for the US to launch a first-strike nuclear war against Russia. The forward was written by the former Attorney General of the United States, Ramsey Clarke.

In Towards a World War III Scenario, Michel Chossudovsky documents that the US is so enamored with nuclear weapons that it has authorized low-level field commanders to use them in the heat of battle in their sole discretion . . . without any approval from civilian leaders.

May cooler heads prevail . . .



'The US and CIA Should Stop This Illegal and Counterproductive War in Syria'
http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/02/experts-invasion-syria-lead-nuclear-war.html
Experts: Invasion of Syria Could Lead to Nuclear War
WashingtonsBlog

WASHINGTON (February 19, 2016) -- The Threat of Nuclear War Is Now HIGHER Than During the Soviet Era

Turkey previously shot down a Russian jet. Now, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are threatening to invade Syria. How dangerous could this get, in a worst case scenario?

Robert Parry -- the investigative reporter who broke the Iran-Contra story for the Associated Press and Newsweek -- wrote:

A source close to Russian President Vladimir Putin told me that the Russians have warned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Moscow is prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons if necessary to save their troops in the face of a Turkish-Saudi onslaught. Since Turkey is a member of NATO, any such conflict could quickly escalate into a full-scale nuclear confrontation.

Washington's Blog asked one of America's top experts on Russia -- Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University, and the author of a number of books on Russia and the Soviet Union -- what he thought of Parry's claim.

Cohen said:
Parry is a serious man ["serious" is the highest compliment that an insider can give to someone]. I cannot say it will lead to nuke war, but it is very dangerous, as is quadrupling US/NATO forces near Russia's borders.

Pavel Felgenhauer -- a leading Russian military analyst -- also believes that a nuclear war is "very likely" to arise from Russia's skirmishes with Turkey in Syria.

Last December, US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard -- a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, Iraq war veteran, and Major in the Hawaii Army National Guard -- warned that US policy in Syria could lead to a nuclear war. And see this.



Also in December, retired Lieutenant General Robert Gard, chairman emeritus of the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, retired Brigadier General John H. Johns, professor emeritus from US National Defense University, and Leslie Gelb, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, penned an article in Foreign Policy calling for US-Russia cooperation to de-escalate current tensions and diffuse the increasing worrisome nuclear blustering.

American security expert Bruce Blair -- a former nuclear-missile launch officer -- notes that Turkey's downing of the Russian warplane at the Syrian-Turkish border "fits a pattern of brinkmanship and inadvertence that is raising tensions and distrust between Russia and US-led NATO," and that "this escalation could morph by design or inadvertence into a nuclear threat."

Blair writes that the threat of nuclear war is higher now that during the Soviet era:

Russia has shortened the launch time from what it was during the Cold War. Today, top military command posts in the Moscow area can bypass the entire human chain of command and directly fire by remote control rockets in silos and on trucks as far away as Siberia in only 20 seconds.

Why should this concern us? History shows that crisis interactions, once triggered, take on a life of their own. Military encounters multiply; they become more decentralized, spontaneous and intense. Safeguards are loosened and unfamiliar operational environments cause accidents and unauthorized actions.

Miscalculations, misinterpretations and loss of control create a fog of crisis out of which a fog of war may emerge. In short, the slope between the low-level military encounters, the outbreak of crisis and escalation to a nuclear dimension is a steep and slippery one.

(Indeed, the US and Soviets came within seconds of all-out nuclear war on numerous occasions. And only the courage of US and Soviet individuals to say no when their superiors told them to fire nuclear weapons -- in the face of mistaken readings -- saved the planet from nuclear war.)

Russia expert Stephen Cohen agrees that the risks of nuclear war are much higher than people know, telling the Commonwealth Club last year that the threat of nuclear war with Russia is now greater than it was with the Soviets.

Former US Secretary of Defense William Perry agrees that the risk of nuclear war is higher than during the Soviet era.

Postscript: Top Russian, American and Polish experts also warn that continued fighting in Ukraine could lead to nuclear war.


Risking Nuclear War for Al Qaeda?
Robert Parry / Consortium News

(February 18, 2016) -- When President Barack Obama took questions from reporters on Tuesday, the one that needed to be asked but wasn't was whether he had forbidden Turkey and Saudi Arabia to invade Syria, because on that question could hinge whether the ugly Syrian civil war could spin off into World War III and possibly a nuclear showdown.

If Turkey (with hundreds of thousands of troops massed near the Syrian border) and Saudi Arabia (with its sophisticated air force) follow through on threats and intervene militarily to save their rebel clients, who include Al Qaeda's Nusra Front, from a powerful Russian-backed Syrian government offensive, then Russia will have to decide what to do to protect its 20,000 or so military personnel inside Syria.

A source close to Russian President Vladimir Putin told me that the Russians have warned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Moscow is prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons if necessary to save their troops in the face of a Turkish-Saudi onslaught. Since Turkey is a member of NATO, any such conflict could quickly escalate into a full-scale nuclear confrontation.

Given Erdogan's megalomania or mental instability and the aggressiveness and inexperience of Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman (defense minister and son of King Salman), the only person who probably can stop a Turkish-Saudi invasion is President Obama. But I'm told that he has been unwilling to flatly prohibit such an intervention, though he has sought to calm Erdogan down and made clear that the US military would not join the invasion.

So far, Erdogan has limited Turkey's direct military attacks on Syria to cross-border shelling against US-backed Kurdish forces that have seized territory from the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in northern Syria. Turkey considers the Kurdish fighters, known as YPG, to be terrorists but the US government sees them as valuable allies in the fight against Islamic State terrorists, an Al Qaeda spinoff that controls large swaths of Syria and Iraq.

But Erdogan's short fuse may have grown shorter on Wednesday when a powerful car bomb killed at least 28 people in Turkey's capital of Ankara. The bomb apparently targeted a military convoy and Turkish officials cast suspicion on Kurdish militants who also have been under assault from Turkish forces inside Turkey.

Though showing no evidence, Turkish officials suggested the attack may have been sponsored by Iran or Russia, another sign of how complicated the geopolitical morass in Syria has become. "Those who think they can steer our country away from our goals by using terrorist organizations will see that they have failed," declared Erdogan, according to The Wall Street Journal.

(On Wednesday night, Turkey retaliated for the Ankara bombing by launching airstrikes against Kurdish targets in northern Iraq.)

The dilemma for Obama is that many traditional US allies, such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have been the principal backers and funders of Sunni terror groups inside Syria, including Al Qaeda's Nusra Front and to a lesser degree the Islamic State. Now, the "allies" want the United States to risk a nuclear confrontation with Russia to, in effect, protect Al Qaeda.

Biden Blurts Out Truth
The twisted reality was acknowledged by no less an authority than Vice President Joe Biden during a talk at Harvard in 2014. Biden answered a student's question by saying Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had "poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad."

The result, Biden said, was that "the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world."

The risks from these tangled alliances were also highlighted by a Defense Intelligence Agency report in August 2012, warning the Obama administration that the growing strength of Al Qaeda and other Sunni jihadists in Syria could lead to the creation of "an Islamic state" whose militants could move back into Iraq where the threat originated after the US invasion of Iraq.

The DIA said Al Qaeda's growing strength in Syria "creates the ideal atmosphere for AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq] to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi and will provide a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy, the dissenters [i.e. the Shiites].

"ISI [Islamic State of Iraq, forerunner of ISIS, also known as the Islamic State] could also declare an Islamic state through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory."

Despite the prescient DIA report and Biden's blunt admission (for which he quickly apologized), President Obama failed to put a stop to the strategy of supporting Assad's opponents. He let Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey continue funneling weapons to the most extreme elements of the rebellion.

Meanwhile, the US government insisted that it was only arming "moderate" rebels, but those groups were largely subsumed or controlled by Al Qaeda's Nusra and/or ISIS, a hyper-violent spinoff from Al Qaeda.

In Syria, rather than cooperate with Russia and Iran in helping Assad's military defeat the jihadists, the Obama administration has continued playing it cute, insisting as Secretary of State John Kerry has said recently that armed "legitimate opposition groups" exist separately from Al Qaeda's Nusra Front.

In reality, however, the so-called "moderate" rebels around Aleppo and Idlib are Al Qaeda's junior partners whose value to the cause is that they qualify for CIA weaponry that can then be passed on to Nusra as well as Nusra's key ally Ahrar al-Sham and other jihadist fighters.

Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, the chief elements of the Saudi-created "Army of Conquest," deployed US TOW missiles to devastating effect against the Syrian army in the jihadists' victory last year in Idlib province, a success that finally prompted Putin to commit Russian air power to defend the Syrian government last September.

Helping the Islamic State
Meanwhile, Turkey has left about 100 kilometers of its border open for various jihadist groups to bring in reinforcements and weapons while letting the Islamic State smuggle out oil for sale on the black market. Last fall, after Russia (and a reluctant United States) began bombing ISIS oil-truck convoys, Turkey shot down a Russian bomber near Turkey's border, leading to the deaths of the pilot and a rescuer.

Now, as the Russian-backed Syrian army makes major gains against the Nusra-dominated rebels around Aleppo and encroaches on Islamic State territory near Raqqa and as US-backed Kurdish forces also advance against ISIS Turkey's Erdogan has grown frantic over the prospects that his five-year project of aiding Syrian jihadists may be collapsing.

Amid this desperation, Turkey has been urging President Obama to support a limited invasion of Syria to create a "safe zone," supposedly to protect Syrian rebels and civilians in northern Syria. But that humanitarian-sounding plan may well be a cover for a more ambitious plan to march to Damascus and forcibly remove President Assad from power.

That is a goal shared by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states along with Israel and America's influential neoconservatives and their "liberal interventionist" sidekicks. For his part, Obama has called on Assad "to go" but has favored diplomatic negotiations to achieve that end. Russia has advocated a political settlement with free elections so the Syrian people can decide Assad's future themselves.

The Russians also keenly remember the West's subterfuge regarding Libya in 2011 when the US and its NATO allies pushed a "humanitarian" resolution through the United Nations Security Council supposedly to protect Libyan civilians but then used it to achieve violent "regime change," a classic case of the camel getting its nose into the tent.

On Syria, Russia watched for years as the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Sunni states supported various Sunni rebel groups seeking to overthrow Assad, an Alawite, representing a branch of Shiite Islam. Though Assad has been widely criticized for the harsh response to the uprising, he maintains a secular government that has protected Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other minorities.

Besides being a target of Sunni regional powers, Assad has long been on the Israeli-neocon hit list because he's seen as the centerpiece of the "Shiite crescent" stretching from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon.

Since Israeli leaders (and thus the American neocons) see Iran as Israel's greatest enemy, the goal of collapsing the "Shiite crescent" has concentrated on bringing down Assad -- even if his ouster would create a political/military vacuum that Al Qaeda and/or Islamic State might fill.

Making Syria the site for this proxy war has inflicted particularly savage results on the Syrians. For five years the violence by both the rebels and the army has destroyed much of the country and killed more than 250,000 people while also sending waves of desperate refugees crashing into Europe, now destabilizing the European Union.

However, as the US and its Mideast allies especially Saudi Arabia and Turkey escalated the conflict last year by supplying the rebels, including Al Qaeda's Nusra Front, with American TOW missiles and other sophisticated weapons, Russian President Putin decided it was time to help Syria's government stop the spread of Sunni terrorism, a threat that has also plagued Russia.

Mocking Russia
Initially, Official Washington mocked the Russian effort as incapable of accomplishing much, but the Syrian military's recent victories have turned that derisive laughter into shocked fury. For one, the neoconservative flagship Washington Post has unleashed a stream of editorials and op-eds decrying the Syrian-Russian victories.

"Russia, Iran and the Syrian government are conducting a major offensive aimed at recapturing the city of Aleppo and the rebel-held territory that connects it to the border with Turkey," the Post lamented. "They have cut one supply route to the city and are close to severing another, trapping rebel forces along with hundreds of thousands of civilians."

Though one might think that driving Al Qaeda's forces out of a major urban center like Aleppo would be a good thing, the Post's neocon editors pretend that the rebels controlling that area are only noble "moderates" who must be protected by the United States. No mention is made of Al Qaeda's Nusra Front, so as not to spoil the desired propaganda theme.

The Post then badgered Obama to do something: "In the face of this onslaught, which promises to destroy any chance of an acceptable end to the Syrian civil war, the Obama administration has been a study in passivity and moral confusion. President Obama is silent."

In another hysterical editorial, the Post's editors conjured up what they called "the real world" where "the best-case scenario after five years of US inaction is a partial peace that leaves Syria partitioned into zones controlled by the [Assad] regime and the Islamic State, with a few opposition and Kurdish enclaves squeezed in. Even that would require the Obama administration to aggressively step up its military support for rebel groups, and confront Russia with more than rhetoric."

However, in the actual "real world," the Obama administration has been funneling military equipment to rebels seeking to overthrow an internationally recognized government for years. That assistance has included averting US eyes from the fact that many of those rebel groups were collaborating with Al Qaeda's Nusra Front and/or the Islamic State.

As Mideast expert Gareth Porter reported, "The Russian airstrikes in question are aimed at cutting off Aleppo city, which is now the primary center of Nusra's power in Syria, from the Turkish border. To succeed in that aim, Russian, Syrian and Iranian forces are attacking rebel troops deployed in towns all along the routes from Aleppo to the border. Those rebels include units belonging to Nusra, their close ally Ahrar al-Sham, and other armed opposition groups some of whom have gotten weapons from the CIA in the past.

"Information from a wide range of sources, including some of those the United States has been explicitly supporting, makes it clear that every armed anti-Assad organization unit in those provinces is engaged in a military structure controlled by Nusra militants. All of these rebel groups fight alongside the Nusra Front and coordinate their military activities with it."

But The Washington Post and its mainstream US cohorts don't want you to know the real "real world" reality that Syria's sainted "moderate" rebels are fighting side by side with Al Qaeda, which was responsible for killing nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11 and for drawing the US military into a series of Mideast conflicts that have claimed the lives of about 8,000 US soldiers.

The bizarre goal of saving Al Qaeda's skin presumably would not be a very good selling point to get Americans behind a new war that could pit nuclear-armed Russia against nuclear-armed America with all the horrors that such a conflict could entail.

Still, the inconvenient truth about Al Qaeda's role occasionally slips into mainstream news accounts, albeit only in passing. For instance, New York Times correspondent Anne Barnard reported last Saturday about a proposed Syrian cease-fire, writing:
"With the proviso that the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda's branch in Syria, can still be bombed, Russia puts the United States in a difficult position; the insurgent groups it supports cooperate in some places with the well-armed, well-financed Nusra in what they say is a tactical alliance of necessity against government forces."

Obama's Quandary
So, the quandary that Obama faces is whether the United States should join with Turkey and Saudi Arabia in a blatant invasion of Syria to salvage Al Qaeda's cause. Of course, that's not how it would be sold to the American people. The project would be couched in pretty words about "humanitarianism" and the need to maintain US "credibility."

But Obama seems to recognize enough of the actual reality that he has so far resisted the frantic cries of Official Washington's neocons and liberal hawks. I'm told Obama also has discouraged Turkey and Saudi Arabia from taking matters into their own hands.

After all, a full-scale invasion by Turkey and Saudi Arabia in support of Al Qaeda and other Sunni rebels would pit the invading force against not only the Syrian army but its Iranian and Hezbollah (Shiite) allies and most dangerously Russia, which lacks the manpower inside Syria to match up with the Turkish army but could deploy tactical nuclear weapons if necessary to save the lives of Russian soldiers.

So, here is a significant difference between Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She has publicly called for the US military to establish a "safe zone" inside Syria along with a "no-fly zone." While all that sounds very nice and peaceful, it would actually require the same invasion that Turkey is now seeking and it would require the US air force to eliminate much of the Syrian air force and air defenses. It would be a major act of war.

On Tuesday, Obama was asked about the Syrian conflict at a news conference but it was within the typical mainstream frame of suggesting that Obama is too weak in dealing with Putin. For five years, the mainstream US media can't get beyond goading Obama to increase US intervention in Syria and thus bring about another "regime change."

Despite the contrary evidence, it has remained a beloved Washington delusion that some "moderate" oppositionists would replace Assad and bring a happy democracy to Syria. Similar delusions preceded the catastrophes of "regime change" in Iraq and Libya and one could even go back to the Reagan administration's "regime change" goal in Afghanistan that led to the emergence of the Taliban, Al Qaeda and modern jihadism in the first place.

But today the stakes include a potential nuclear showdown with Russia -- with the United States being urged to take on that existential risk for all humankind on behalf of preserving Al Qaeda's hopes for raising its black flag over Damascus. If there has ever been a crazier demand by major foreign policy players in Official Washington, it is hard to imagine what it might have been.

[For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com's "Tangled Threads of US False Narratives," "Hidden Origins of Syria's Civil War," and "Obama's Most Momentous Decision."]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and
Newsweek in the 1980s. His latest book is America's Stolen Narrative.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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