“The Russians are Coming“
By Eric Margolis
September 18, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" - "Lew
The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!”
So echoed the cry this week from the Pentagon, the US media and
Republican candidates for president.
How silly. It seems the Russians have sent six
tanks to Syria, some medium artillery and a bunch of military
technicians to two bases on Syria’s coast near Latakia. According
to Republican warmongers, the wicked Soviets…ooops, sorry,
Russians…are intervening militarily in the five-year old Syrian War
and planning new bases in the strategic Mideast nation.
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. The
United States has about 800 bases and military installations around
the globe. Russia has only a handful of small bases near its
The exception is in Syria where Russia has had a
small naval supply/repair facility in Tartus and an electronic
listening post for almost 50 years. Moscow has long been Syria’s
principal foreign ally and arms supplier.
While the US ruled almost the entire Mideast –
what I call the American Raj – Syria was regarded as a limited
Soviet/Russian sphere of influence. No more.
Washington ignited Syria’s civil war by
infiltrating anti-government forces from Lebanon and Jordan. Over
the past five years, the US, along with Israel, France, Britain and
Saudi Arabia, has armed, financed and directed Syria’s anti-Assad
regime rebels. The Saudis unleashed their secret weapon against
Damascus, the Syrian-Iraqi Islamic State movement.
The West’s objective in Syria was to overthrow its
government, because it is closely allied to Iran, Lebanon’s
Hezbollah and Russia. President Bashar Assad’s secular government
in Damascus is just managing to hold off the rebels and mobs of
fanatical jihadists sent by the Saudis and Washington – which
pretends to be fighting the Islamic state. In fact, the Islamic
State, or IS, is a tacit American ally.
Astoundingly, it appears that few in Washington’s
power circles appear to have imagined that US machinations in Syria
would eventually provoke a Russian response.
Republican candidates like Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz,
and Carly Fiorina appeared to be itching for war with Russia. They
are creatures of America’s chief neocon, casino mogul Sheldon
Adelson. Most non-Americans must have been horrified to observe
such warmongering and pandering to Israel’s far, far right.
One wonders if these amateur strategists could
name more than one Syrian city. Or if they understand that Syria is
as close to Russia as New York is to Columbus, Ohio? Does anyone
remember that in the 19th Century Russia claimed to be
defender of Mideast Christians? This week, President Vladimir Putin
re-asserted this claim, saying he wanted to protect the Levant’s 2
million Christians who are now gravely threatened by IS.
Why can the US have military bases in places like
Djibouti, Okinawa, Diego Garcia, Uganda, Somalia, Qatar,
Afghanistan, South Korea, Bulgaria, Japan, Italy, Romania, Pakistan,
Iraq and Spain, to name a few, while it’s a big no-no for Russia to
dare have a very small base in Syria?
Because the Empire says no.
Russia’s military budget is one tenth that of the
United States. Combined with its rich allies like Europe and Japan,
the US accounts for 70% of world military spending. The only real
threat Russia poses to US security will come if Washington’s
ham-handed blundering in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine provoke a direct
clash with Russia’s military forces. The West is fortunate to have
the cautious, sober Vlad Putin in the Kremlin. He has already
averted a US-Russian war in Syria and is calling again for direct
US-Russia talks on the growing crisis.
But did anyone really think that the very tough
Putin would do nothing while the US and its allies tore Syria apart?
How stupid and arrogant was this. Imperial hubris
married to arrant ignorance.
Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning,
internationally syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in
the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune the Los Angeles
Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times, Nation –
Pakistan, Hurriyet, – Turkey, Sun Times Malaysia and other news
sites in Asia.