East and West: when push comes to shove

It was some time in the bumbled, if not ill-advised intervention in Iraq, which was falling apart by 2003, and the Libyan and Syrian escapades of 2011-2012 that Putin’s view of the US as incompetent began to be replaced by a feeling of suspicion and mistrust – a feeling that what looked like ineptitude was a clever policy of destabilizing regions in order to gain control of them or garner some other unclear advantages, while saddling other states with the cleanup.

—The American Education of Vladimir Putin, Hill & Gaddy (2015)

We looked, a few days ago, at a number of short clips of Western officials talking tough (see You are Here), be it directly or tangentially, to Russia. Rounding out the picture, today we look at Russia and her reach. Despite her rhetoric, the United States is embedded in a unipolar world view (she cannot see beyond it). Russia and China appear equally adamant about their wish for multipolar global governance.

The Russian mindset is that NATO is surrounding Russia with a missile defense system (in eastern Europe) to neutralise any nuclear threat posed by Russia. By simultaneous naval containment of China’s east coast, America  can help entrench the West’s global preeminence — one which the West would use to erode Russian strength further and maintain a global power status quo for the remainder of the vaunted Asia century.

And we have now paved the way to what are early (somewhat beyond preliminary) tit-for-tat escalations.

An Asian century is hosting the rise of many middle-powers, all the while the West contends that it still can maintain its power of arbitration — it’s ability, as has been the case for most of the last century, to set the rules of commerce, diplomacy, and engagement. Yet among the rubble of the Middle East, the likes of Turkey, Israel, and Iran, are emerging from the plume as powers in their own right. It is no stretch of the imagination to see these three vying for regional honours. A Sunni conglomerate, led by Saudi Arabia and bound together as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), are doing their best to stymie, in particular, the ascent of Iran. For the moment, however, Iran seems to be regaining the upper hand — in Syria, in Iraq, and in Yemen.

For their part, Russia is looking to by-pass any NATO neutralising forces in order to maintain a deterrence position of her own. To their mind, this is borne out by observation of NATO missile movements into Baltic nations (Germany, Poland, Romania, and NATO talks with Estonia etc.) and her courting nations on Russia’s border — the Ukraine and Georgia among others. This is Russia’s great fear, President Putin has said so himself.

As push comes to shove, President Putin is well prepared to shove if he must.

When a fight is inevitable, you hit first.

The following videos discuss the defensive posture taken by Russia in Syria, visa-vis the S-300 and S-400 missile systems at Tartus and Khmeimim air base, as discussed here last week.

The bigger picture

NATO is working diligently toward full-spectrum dominance, recognising that war is fought on many fronts (battlespace) — Land, Sea, Air, Space, and Information. To that end, it has concentrated on restraining Russia and containment of China. And while gradually positioning itself to do just that, until now it has been content to embroil Russia in endless conflict and skirmish — “bait and bleed” — particularly with the mercenary du jour (Islamists) and in their cradle of chaos — the Middle East. The West is well aware of President Putin’s tendency for restraint until, finally, impetuousness win out. All the while, NATO is tightening the noose around Russia’s European border and at her underbelly.

[It’s unlikely that Russia will put up with this for much longer. President Putin saw the fins circling in the water some time ago. He is convinced that he has no other choice but to act.]

This game will go on until Russia takes the first major step — one that the West will use as pretext to commence their proceedings. Russia has no choice, she is being put in a choker hold. She will have to act. And that act can, and will, be used against her. Meanwhile, a war of attrition — the long war — is backed up by a missile system in eastern Europe that is felt, by the West, to negate a superior Russian nuclear ICBM threat. Against the somewhat weaker Chinese, on the other hand, the modus operandi is pure containment, and then mostly financial (consider, also the TPP, which included almost all Pacific nations bar one (no prizes for guessing which), through control of the seas. The other facet of the agenda against the Chinese involves the allied Pacific nations, such as Japan and the Philippines.

[Ed: President Duterte’s recent rhetoric must be of some consternation to Washington.]

Weaken and busy Russia until the choker-hold is on, bogging her in Middle East wars against mercenaries and fomenting unrest in her backyard nations. This is — as the East sees it — the Western mindset. The Russian counter to this strategy involves asymmetric warfare: launch unconventional attacks from outlying pockets (Kaliningrad exclave, Syria, Iran). Needless to say, a high-risk high-reward game is at play. One side cannot see beyond a unipolar world, the other is restive under the constraints of the same unipolarity. The global consequences, with these two nuclear giants at cross-purposes, are frightening.

Common sense says it’s folly to poke a bear in the eye. Neither do empires die wondering.

—♣—

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Further Reading
Featured Image

American journalist Charlie Rose interviews Russian President Putin – President of Russia, September 29, 2015

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20:20 Vision

Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.

One thing I’ve noticed is that, when you’re right, no one is listening to you.

The global economic outlook, for the next five years, is bleak. Marc Faber slices the money cake, topped with geopolitical icing.

We are headed for an October crash. Don’t be surprised if we see a short, sharp, spike in the market leading up to it.

For this people’s heart has become calloused;
    they hardly hear with their ears,
    and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
    hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

Going in circles

NATO continues to push east, Russia is moving south, China is sweeping across to Africa, as central and south America press north into mainland United States. This is manifestly a clockwise rotation in the regional geostrategic. Are we, then, going in circles? And, as some have suggested, do all roads lead to Washington?

Destabilising the nations of the Middle East, upsetting a Sunni-Shiite status quo, and exploiting sectarian rivalries, it can be argued, is modus operandi of the West, from Arab Spring to eternal discontent. Sykes-Picot, Bernard-Lewis, Brzezinski, and Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters are all names in the step-wise progression from post-WWI to neo-colonial Middle East, the roadmap for its ‘Balkanization’ and ‘Finlandization’ laid out (see map below).

The%20Project%20for%20the%20New%20Middle%20East
Map of New Middle East (Credit: Global Research)

Yet U.S. foreign-policy focus has moved steadily northeast, from the Middle East into Eurasia. Fuss not over the ‘bit-player’ (or even the moderate power) to concentrate efforts on the big players — Russia and China, and remaining ‘BRICS‘ nations.

Enter, … stage West, NATO. Enter, stage South, ISIS and a disintegrating Middle East. And, enter stage East, Pacific nations and Japan. Encirclement —to the point of choking— is the name of this game, and it is being played at the highest level and for the highest stakes — and highest risk.

Aim to have positions —achieved already by NATO in Poland and Czechoslovakia, for instance, and those in planning for Ukraine and others— to nullify any potential for an immediate response to an American pre-emptive nuclear strike on Russia. More specifically, widespread loco-regional full spectrum dominance aims to re-exert hegemony by restraining opponents through minor skirmishes and forced resource bottlenecks and controls, without a resorting [hopefully] to tactical nukes and ICBMs.

That is, in effect, a global “Check-Mate” strategized for the prolongation of Anglo-American dominance of this Asian century, by applying a ‘choke-hold‘ to opponents, to forestall collapse of the USD as global reserve currency. Empire does not die wandering.

Consider the effect of the Libyan crisis on not just Middle-Eastern but the (obvious, yet less spoken of) north and central African geopolitic (take a moment to look at the image below), at a time when an emergent China is licentious in its courting of Africa for resources and economic cooperation.

libya_post-qaddafi_arms_and_population_flow_crop2

But to achieve this the West will need also to keep China busied closer to home — from unrest in neighbouring Pakistan and Afghanistan [“check”], uprisings in Xinjiang province [“check”], and disputes with its Pacific neighbours [“check”], for which the basis for significant local disruptions has been fomented. And add to this now also Hong Kong.

Russia will need to be preoccupied too. This is where the Middle East comes in. Flaming the Shiite-Sunni fire and keeping the likes of Iran and Turkey embroiled, using the ISIS mercenaries to run amok not only in the Middle East but spread and foment unrest at the Caucasus and up into Russia’s soft underbelly. (Many people are unaware of the number of Chechen and fighters of Central Asian origin recruited to ISIS ranks).

In this respect it has been said, by Zbigniew Brzezinski no less, that the Middle East is the lever through which to exert indirect control of the resource-rich crossroad and transportation hub that is Eurasia, with its geographic intimacy to the emergent eastern power base. Such a, albeit fantastic, scenario shines the spotlight onto the ISIS mercenary force (funded by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, aided and abetted by arms transfers through Turkey as well as Libya, via the proxy-war in Syria). How else to explain the dog-and-pony show otherwise known as the war on ISIS? Everywhere these Western-trained slaughterers turn, it seems, they stumble upon munitions, armour, or cash.

And all the while we have the Saudis playing oil games — flooding the OPEC market and plunging the price of a barrel to below the critical USD90 level, at which point it starts becoming uneconomic for Russian miners [much to U.S. delight], but also paradoxically to the U.S., ensuring ongoing political leverage in Washington by way of Saudi oil.

An LNG pipeline from the Pars field in Qatar through Syria, bypassing the Ukraine [Russian gas] pipeline to Europe, was blocked by President Assad. Qatari gas is significantly more profitable than Russian and consequently can be offered at a discount to the Russian. Aside from upsetting the delicate balance within the critical ‘Shiite crescent‘, this is a major reason for U.S. posturing against Assad. Obviously this would be detrimental to Shiite Iran, an ally of Russia whom the U.S. is also courting, in the potential for exchange of sanction relief and freedom to enrich uranium. Southern Europe’s Gas Wars confirm only that every man has his price.

syria_pipelines
Map of New Middle East [Image credit: Global Research]
Unlikely as it may seem — but short of crossing the Rubicon into conspiracy theory — perhaps Colour Revolutions, Arab Spring, Euromaidan, Sudanese fighting, civil war in Syria, and the crescendo in Israeli-Palestine unrest are, after all, more interwoven issues than is apparent at first blush. Eschatologists will think so. And the same eschatologists will also be interested to know that “D.C.“, as Rome (and Jerusalem for that matter), is a city that sits on seven hills …

This alternative [and at times compelling] counterpoint to the main news narrative is one of a fault line, where East meets West, and in which West is not necessarily best. And we are left going in circles.

Featured Image: Istanbul observatory, 1577 [Wikimedia Commons]