As I recall, there was a young character in a story by O. Henry who believed that the swaying of the trees made the wind blow. Judging by the latest statements of a number of senior U.S. politicians and military officials, either Washington genuinely has a problem with cause-and-effect relationships or it’s pretending that logic is too complex and is therefore beyond its best minds, which have become entangled in their own myths.
It has gotten to the point that the U.S. administration, by way of John Kerry, has accused Russia and Syria of committing war crimes, referring to the ongoing operation in Aleppo against the Islamic State and the Nusra Front, which has changed its guise and name — both organizations are banned in Russia. Purportedly, the Russians are displaying unheard-of cruelty against the civilian population in neighborhoods controlled by the militants. Later, however, a State Department spokesperson said that Kerry had been misunderstood, he had meant something else. But then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton quickly picked up the topic, promising to look into the matter.
Meanwhile, having once again reached an agreement with Syrian government troops, Russia’s position is that Moscow is ready to let Nusra Front militants leave the city, even with their weapons. It’s just necessary to determine who’s who. But this is precisely what the Americans don’t want to do. As it turns out, they not only have influence with the militants but are coordinating their actions with them and helping the militants in every possible way, saving them from a final, crushing defeat in order to later take the opportunity to turn them against Bashar Assad’s regime.
In general, Washington’s weeping for the innocent victims in Aleppo is nothing more than crocodile tears, especially after what the U.S. did in Ukraine, subsequently closing its eyes to the thousands of Donbass civilians killed by the Banderovites.* After the hundreds of thousands of victims in former Yugoslavia, a country crucified by the U.S.; in Iraq and Libya, Afghanistan and, before that, those incinerated in Vietnam and in other countries where Washington established its way of life; to now pontificate on Russia’s “crimes” is at the very least blasphemous.
Yet another topic brought up a few days ago has to do with the U.S. military’s “revelations” that a coming war would be “extremely lethal and fast.” As a matter of fact, there’s nothing new about this. Every cadet knew that such was the nature of nuclear war — should it, God forbid, occur — even in the 1940s and 1950s. It’s a different matter that U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley has said nuclear war with Russia or with China is practically inevitable.** Now that’s alarming.
This might have to do with psychologically preparing its population for a coming catastrophe as well as nuclear blackmail, in an attempt to intimidate Russia. The statement about the inevitability of nuclear war with Russia might also serve to raise the fighting morale of those who have come to believe in the incombustibility of the U.S. during Armageddon. But for that, it would be necessary to have a truly miraculous weapon which would guarantee the U.S. total impunity while it delivered a disarming first strike; that is, guaranteeing Russia’s inability to respond adequately to the American strike with a strike of its own, one that, albeit weakened, would nevertheless ensure damage that would be unacceptable to the United States. I would hazard to guess that if Washington had such a weapon, it’s entirely possible Russia in its current form would have disappeared from the world map long ago.
At any rate, the American military officials’ statements are an irresponsible step, taken precisely at a time when there is unprecedented deterioration in Russian-American relations, putting the world on the brink of a great war. This is especially the case considering the fact that after State Department spokesman John Kirby reacted emotionally, Moscow warned Washington that it would shoot down any aerial targets that threaten Russian military objects on Syrian territory. Then retired Rear Adm. Kirby insinuated that if Moscow doesn’t settle down, “the terrorists will come to Russian cities” and our “pilots will be sent home in body bags.” *** The insinuation was more like a threat, particularly given that immediately following the admiral’s address, our embassy in Damascus was shelled, and Russia’s attempt to raise the issue at the United Nations was blocked by Western countries.
The underlying significance of President Putin’s decision to suspend the agreement with the U.S. on the mutual disposal of excess stocks of weapons-grade plutonium is in the conditions for Russia’s return to the agreement. The Russians propose the U.S. reject its hostile policy toward Russia, in particular by repealing the Magnitsky Act and Ukraine Freedom Support Act, lifting sanctions and paying Russia compensation for the damage incurred, reducing the military infrastructure and the number of American troops stationed on the territory of new NATO members and taking several other steps.
It’s a clear signal sent to the future U.S. administration about the thorough reassessment of Russia’s foreign policy, first and foremost its American vector. It’s the start of a new chapter in Russian-American relations. Some politicians have even managed to call the decision Putin’s ultimatum. In that case, the moment of truth should come soon. As it is at a tactical level regarding the situation in Aleppo, so it is at a strategic level regarding Russian-American relations as a whole.
As to the first position, the moment of truth might yet occur under the current administration, since time is on the side of government troops in Aleppo, which firmly hold the initiative, and the Russian Air Force, whereas the militants are in a nearly hopeless position. The U.S. will seek to rescue its proteges. Those who think it is unlikely to come to a direct clash with the Americans are probably right. Most likely, events will develop along the lines of the Afghanistan scenario, with supplies of weapons, including advanced anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons, and the training of militants by American and Western instructors.
With regard to the second position, after the presidential election, Washington will have a hard choice to make: Either abandon the idea of uncontested American hegemony and normalize relations with Moscow on the basis of equality, or continue the confrontation, teetering on the brink between a new cold war and World War III.
In short, Washington needs to read more good American writers like O. Henry.
*Editor’s note: The term “Banderovites” may be a reference to Stepan Andriyovych Bandera (1909-1959), a Ukrainian political activist and leader of the nationalist and independence movement of Ukraine.
**Translator’s note: The author is evidently referring to General Mark Milley’s remark that a future war between nation states is “almost guaranteed.” General Milley did not specifically mention nuclear war as the author implies.
***Translator’s note: Here the author has misrepresented Adm. Kirby’s statement. The text is presented exactly as in Russian, including the quotation marks, used in the original despite the fact that it is not a quotation. Kirby’s actual statement reads as follows: “Extremist groups will continue to exploit the vacuums that are there in Syria, to expand their operations, which will include—no question—attacks against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities. And Russia will continue to send troops home in body bags.”