Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Mike Whitney — How Putin Derailed the West

Why is Hillary Clinton so eager to intensify US involvement in Syria when US interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have all gone so terribly wrong?
The answer to this question is simple. It’s because Clinton doesn’t think that these interventions went wrong. And neither do any of the other members of the US foreign policy establishment. (aka–The Borg). In fact, in their eyes these wars have been a rousing success. Sure, a few have been critical of the public relations backlash from the nonexistent WMD in Iraq, (or the logistical errors, like disbanding the Iraqi Army) but–for the most part– the foreign policy establishment is satisfied with its efforts to destabilize the region and remove leaders that refuse to follow Washington’s diktats.
This is hard for ordinary people to understand. They can’t grasp why elite powerbrokers would want to transform functioning, stable countries into uninhabitable wastelands overrun by armed extremists, sectarian death squads and foreign-born terrorists. Nor can they understand what has been gained by Washington’s 15 year-long rampage across the Middle East and Central Asia that has turned a vast swathe of strategic territory into a terrorist breeding grounds? What is the purpose of all this?…
I think that Whitney's geopolitical and geostrategic analysis is correct and have laid it out along these lines in the past. I am less sure about his prediction of the outcomes. Uncertainty reigns, the factors are diverse, many countries are in the mix, including China, and the risks are extremely high. The dust is a long way from settling on this.

Counterpunch
How Putin Derailed the West
Mike Whitney

Also

Globalization Expressway to Universal Slavery
Gilbert Mercier

The Danger of War From a Declining Hegemon
Chandra Muzaffar

10 comments:

Ryan Harris said...

The Sun is setting on China now and by about 2025, their population starts to decline so rapidly, it would be a miracle if they avoid a deflationary spiral similar to Japan. I think you have to look at the trajectory for each country, it tells a very different story... China's working population peaked in 2015, and their over all population goes into rapid decline starting about 2025. They pretty much shrinks at an accelerating pace until around the year 2100, when the US population could very well be double China's population. It's along time out, much will happen before, but over long times, small differences in growth rates add up to very large differences in populations. Hillary or some other crazy war monger like her could press the reset button on the human population, no one knows, but if nothing changes, China's only hope is to keep incomes and productivity rising faster than their population decline if they want to remain a top economic power over the next 30-40 years as their decline gathers pace.

Bob said...

There are plenty of young immigrants if China wants them.

John said...

I like Mike Whitney, but this doesn't make any sense whatever. There was never any plan for the Middle East to implode. That's so dangerous that, if Washington understood that from the off, it wouldn't have turned the place into the chaotic mess it has imploded into. That doesn't serve Washington's interests. Washington wants what it has always wanted: subservient states who will stand to attention when told to. That's not going to happen now. Almost every plausible outcome is bad.

It's understandable that the wackos in Washington are spinning these unimaginable disasters as the work of foreign policy geniuses who are ten moves ahead of everyone else. For years the gullible have been buying into the competence of the alleged best and the brightest who are said to run Washington. It's all nonsense. Washington is now in way over its head: it had fifty years at the top because there were no rivals. Washington's rivals aren't necessarily that much brighter, although in some cases they are: Lavrov and crew vs Kelly and crew? Please, that's not even a fair contest!


Washington is making clumsy mistake after moronic mistake after arrogant mistake. The neoconservatives don't help either. Washington was the greatest superpower the world had ever seen. Rather than understanding that it's time has come and gone, like all previous hegemonic superpowers it can't face the reality. Meanwhile Beijing and Moscow watch as Washington repeatedly shoots itself in the face. Neither the US or China will be the sole superpower of this century. It'll be a multipolar world - if we live to see it.

Tom Hickey said...

I like Mike Whitney, but this doesn't make any sense whatever. There was never any plan for the Middle East to implode. That's so dangerous that, if Washington understood that from the off, it wouldn't have turned the place into the chaotic mess it has imploded into.

Actually this is an age-old strategy.

The most desirable outcome is getting what one wants in a transaction.

The second although less desirable one is preventing others from obtaining what one wants.

The third strategy is to create chaos so that the arena remains in play as one weakens all opposition.

The third strategy involves staring from #3, moving to #2 and then to #1 in the arena.

Us strategists did not invent this. It is perfectly rational politically and militarily.

The US overall objective is permanent global hegemony under American leadership as the country that is so exceptional that its leadership is indispensable. This conveys a not only moral carte blanche but a moral duty. This is the overall strategy.

No one is allowed to challenge it.

The US major priorities are Iran, Russia and China, in that order. Syria is a pawn in the game.

The US cannot challenge either Russia or China using #1, so it falls to #s 2 & 3. #2 is containment, border pressure, and regime change politically. #3 is use to destabilize a country, first, to make it ineffective as an opponent, and secondly to facilitate #2 by occupying the government with dealing with the chaos.

Pretty neat, huh?

John said...

Tom, there's only one problem with that. Although the chaos int he Middle East looks ABSOLUTELY like the play book you've laid out, and some very good analysts say the same thing, Washington was never in any control from the moment it invaded Iraq. Everything that occurred in Iraq - the epicentre of the chaos - was almost out if its hands after it invaded.

Washington was incapable of keeping the insurgency down, incapable of dealing with the Shia clerics and the militias, incapable of parachuting in its favoured stooge, incapable of halting the elections of governments who despise Washington, incapable of halting Iraq's foreign policy with Iran, incapable of getting Iraq to acquiesce to permanent US military bases (in order to wage war on Iran), was incapable of reaching an agreement on the status of forces that was agreeable to Washington, and eventually kicked out of the country. None of this was a success, but then nor did we see the bloody hand of Washington cleverly managing the chaos: all the bloody hand did was clumsily unleash the violence.

The chaos that has engulfed Iraq has everything to do with a botched occupation and a botched war, unleashing forces it couldn't control. Most of the chaos in Iraq was eventually put out by the Iraqi government, but then the Saudi jihad on Syria began and that reignited the chaos in Iraq and of course the horror in Syria. Having seen Iraq fall into the Iran-Russia-China bloc, Washington has sought the strategy of unseating Assad no matter what. But like the strategy for Iraq, however, this is also falling apart. The tide has effectively been turned and Syria will crush Washington's jihadis, and then join Iraq in the Syria-Iraq-Iran-Russia-China bloc, leaving Washington and its jihadi-states in the region unsure as what to do next. Turkey might come in to play, but even there Erdogan and the AK Party are unreliable.

Leaving aside the human cost, if you were a strategic planner you'd have to say that this is a staggeringly bad position to be in: all plausible outcomes are bad for Washington. We've seen south America spin out of Washington's grip, and most of the Middle East is joining this rebellion. It's only a matter of time before Saudi Arabia is faced with the violent ideology it has unleashed. It's perhaps too soon to say it's game over for Washington, but I'm hard pressed to see how Washington plays its way out of this, especially with the idiotic goons who run Washington in control.

I understand why very many smart analysts buy into this explanation of strategic chaos, but the details don't bear it out.

Bob said...

Assad could have been toppled years ago if Washington had intervened as they did in Libya. But due to various factors, they had to settle for a proxy war.

Destabilizing the region is Plan B. Maybe that is as detailed as it gets. If there were no plan, no objective, they would stop what they're doing. Now everyone is anticipating an escalation if Hillary is elected.

Btw, lets not forget to place blame on those who are willing to engage in sectarian violence, thereby ensuring that the conflict will continue. These people are not American puppets.

Tom Hickey said...

@ John

There is a difference between the strategist and the policy makers. The strategists (through Gen. Shinseki) informed the politicians that managing Iraq would take a force of 500,000. Wolfowitz blew it off and Shinseki was retired. The politician in charge of the occupation, Paul Bremer, was an ignoramus and the result was chaos.

The strategists are flexible and they deal with changing conditions. Chaos is to be managed. The US has been managing the chaos created inadvertently by arming Sunni jihadis to destabilize the region of Shiite control, in much the same what that the jihadis were injected into Afghanistan to confront the Russians there.

From the strategic POV the ideal plan now is to bog the Russians down militarily in Syria and to ramp up pressure on Russia from the East by provoking the volatile situation in Ukraine and ramping up NATO forces along Russia's borders. Russia is also being threatened from the southern and southwestern flank by jihadis supported by the US and its ME vassals, as well as fomenting color revolutions in the former USSR republics of Central Asia, threatening both Russia and China.

Since the military is controlled by the civilian government in the US, all this being run through the State Department and CIA and directed by the National Security Council. Military participation is most special forces and military intelligence operating covertly.

The US has learned that direct military involvement ("boots on the ground") is unpopular with the American people, but otherwise they (the press) don't care much or ask many questions that can't be deflected harmlessly.

This is why #2 above is the preferred strategy. Syria began as #2 with the US arming the "opposition" through its Sunni allies, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and Turkey. The chaos resulted from the region being a snake pit where the snakes are not under US control. The result is the chaos with which US strategist now have to work.

But the policy objectives remain the same.

Tom Hickey said...

These people are not American puppets.

If the US are not supplying the arms, the Wahhabi and Salafi states not funding them, and Turkey not transporting them across the border, this would never have gotten off the ground in the first place, and it would end promptly if the proxies' funding and supply were cut off. Instead, it is being increased.

What Russia has done is make this much more difficult and expensive.

Now the proxies in East Aleppo are being caught in a cauldron and cannot be resupplied. If that holds, it's game over for them.

The Russian strategists love cauldrons aka kettles. The NYPD calls them "kettles." They used this tactic on Occupy.

Bob said...

Puppets do what their masters ask them to do. The most obedient party in the current conflict is Assad. How funny is that? If the Russians and Iranians were not supplying his forces, what do you think would happen? What would happen to the "legitimate" governments in the ME if they could not obtain the arms necessary to repress their populations?

How would an arms embargo to a region rich in petroleum work? "You don't sell us guns, we don't sell you oil."

"Low level" conflicts, where belligerents kill each other with swords or with their bare hands is no less horrifying.

The people of the ME are the losers here. As much as I despise the meddlers for creating and prolonging the destruction, all parties involved must share the blame.

Tom Hickey said...

If anything is to blame it is the oil and gas, and the establishment of Israel.

This drives the dynamic.

Otherwise, it would be a backwater of little note other than historical as the "cradle of civilization," and the origin of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It other words, it would be a bunch of museums, archaeological sites, and places of pilgrimage.