September 30th, 2015
Fort Russ – op-ed
By: Joaquin Flores
The US Empire is truly its last days.
What was said on live television at the UN with the ”joint” statement made by Lavrov, and with Kerry at the conclusion, are “the things history is made from”. And what was said behind closed doors versus what was said publicly is more than likely to be oceans apart.
There are certain key phrases that were used that are the biggest indication that this wide-gulf exists, setting aside an objective assessment of the situation which also demands such a view. Any objective appraisal indicates the US has a vulnerable position.
The decision to make this statement jointly and in the language of collaboration is partly about not scaring the general public – or giving the stock market a shock, given the relationship between this and treasury bonds and other notes which are held by the Chinese. The largest foreign holder of U.S. debt is of course China, which owns about $1.2 trillion in bills, notes and bonds, according to the US Treasury. The Chinese and the CSTO are no doubt involved in this conflict.
But chiefly, this decision to imply consensus and collaboration is about giving the US a graceful exit, something which is not only strategic for Russia but reflects its manner of conducting foreign policy. It is done in a manner which least encourages, least corners, and least frustrates their adversaries.
Allowing one’s enemy a safe routing passage is an age old tactic, and a basic military maneuver which ensures the opponent does not have a necessary reason to fight to the bitter end.
It has allowed the US to make a hasty if somewhat tactical withdrawal without using the overt language of surrender.
Also, the language of collaboration has a legal meaning. While we live in a world where the US has tried to deconstruct the post-war order of law and precedent, and has abrogated any number of agreements and conventions, it is important to understand that this is not Russia’s aim.
At the very core of the US’s lawlessness is this: The post-war order created an international system of law, that while recognizing the supremacy of the victors of the war as evidenced in the structure of the UN Security Council, was also quite truly based in principles of equality between nations and the right to self determination.
In the several decades that followed the end of WWII the world saw a global anti-colonial and anti-imperialist uprising, primarily in the third world, which – despite some frustrations at the hands of US imperialism – was able to make good on the promises and values enshrined in the UN Charter. While the US continued to violate human rights and international law in some major instances; in South-east Asia and Central America in particular – its primary interaction with the world at large was not reliant on lawlessness as an operating system.
The US was agreeable to this post-war legal order, because through the international financial system of banks and parent structures like the IMF and WTO, they could dominate and control the third world countries economically even after they had won formal independence and sovereignty.
As many of these countries grew up, and in some ways surpassed the US, the method of maintaining hegemony through economic domination, that could counter the legal equality of nation-states, became less and less useful proportionally.
This explains in large part why the US has needed to defy international law as its primary operating system in order to hold on to or regain its once dominant position.
The combined forces of China, Russia, and Iran on the Eurasian continent cannot likely be defeated. The US is keenly aware of this, but for reasons of its own internal political and military culture, required ‘evidence’ in the form of a massively successful air campaign on the part of the Russians. This is what the Russians delivered today, and that was probably the main reason for it.
So what was said today behind closed doors?
What has probably in fact happened is a series of ultimatums were given by either side, but Russia is holding the cards. The US’s primary bargaining tactic is to overplay its hand, and to bluff. Russia being aware of this, and aware of the delicate and sensitive US position given its newly discovered mortality, probably politely nodded in agreement to the US’s threatening and outrageous claims and threats. All the while, however, it kept its focus on communicating their own final and unmoved position.
What has not happened is any sort of joint plan by the US and Russia to strike at ISIS targets. US media which hints at this are serving the primary role of running two kinds of interference: dissembling the reality that the US’s main creation cum ally is in fact ISIS, and to make it look like the US is still part of something which smells or sounds like ‘winning’.
What may have indeed happened is the US negotiating on behalf of Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to provide safe exit corridors for their foreign mercenary/extremist (hybrid) army groupments, and other important leaders, experts, and trainers. There is a growing view among many analysts that among the real refugees coming into Europe, are important leaders and trainers from ISIS/FSA/Al Nusra who got a bit ahead of the curve and made their exits a few weeks sooner.
What Kerry publicly said which is of critical importance – and what gives away the real nature of today’s talk – that is US capitulation militarily – was this:
“As Sergey said to you, we agreed on the imperative of a … as soon as possible, perhaps as soon as tomorrow, but as soon as possible – having a military to military deconflec .. deconfliction discussion, meeting, conference, whichever, whatever could be done as soon as possible, because we agree on the urgency of that deconfliction.”
A military deconfliction discussion is neutrally postured face saving language for something more adequately described as ‘disentanglement’ or perhaps even ‘terms of conditional surrender’.
To stare right in the face of the obvious – we must call it as it is. For two parties to have a deconfliction discussion – they must be in conflict. This is what was at the core of this last minute talk.
Another very significant thing that was not mentioned publicly was any talk of Syrian President Assad resigning from office.
There is little doubt who – between Kerry and Lavrov – begged for this emergency meeting to take place.
Outside of this more or less outright admission of defeat on the part of the US, is the similarity this has to the Debaltsevo situation and the Minsk Agreement.
This serves as a parallel to the Ukraine conflict where we saw the Debaltsevo cauldron, and the surrounding of what Motorola claimed publicly were NATO soldiers (whether in mercenary formations like Greystone/ Blackwater/ Xe/ Academi was not important), and the subsequent Minsk II Agreement built upon the defeat of the US proxy forces at Russian proxy force hands.
We also therefore must speculate as to whether combatants from the MI6, CIA, Mosssad and other secret military/special forces/ and/or the western mercenary outfits linked to these were among today’s casualties.
And like with the Minsk II agreement, we will see the US continually attempt to sabotage it or work contrary to its own stated commitments.
At the same time, Russia is well aware of this, and will rely more heavily on its primary strength in today’s emerging world: multi-polarity.
The US alliance is falling apart, and any wrong move which smells like a greater conflict could send the fragile US economy into shock mode. It has been difficult enough to use debt spending and an increasing debt-to-GDP ratio to simulate (not stimulate) growth. It has been difficult enough to shift numbers around to make a growing unemployment rate look like a shrinking one.
What Russia has essentially offered the US is also similar to September 2013 in Syria, but in heightened form, when Russia provided the US – as now – a very graceful and dignified official exit from the conflict. This came at the heels of a failed false flag attempt by the US to place the blame for a chemical weapons attack on the Syrian government.
What the US has threatened behind closed doors is that the it will double-down on its support for Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, or if you prefer ‘ISIS’. This dovetails nicely with what has emerged publicly from Kerry, which is that Russia will “be allowed” to fight ISIS on its own.
To really understand how these two fit together, we need only hear from US presidential candidates like Trump, whose job it has been to float this idea. The idea is to ‘let’ Russia handle this fight, but with the real aim being here to increase support to ISIS with the goal of creating an Afghanistan like entanglement for Russia.
Truly, what was just said on live television at this late hour – after a long day of Russia obliterating at least 8 ISIS targets in 20 sorties – must be at odds with what was said behind closed doors.
As Lavrov spoke in the clear and transparent language of Russian diplomacy, Kerry had no choice but to nod his head in agreement, as if Lavrov’s words were his own choosing.
Evidence that Kerry was forced into an agreement not to his liking behind closed doors, were his final public statements.
Conclusively and to summarize these; that while the two men had just tentatively agreed on points of principle – a Unified Syria, a Sovereign Syria, a Democratic Syria, a Secular Syria, and a Syria that is home to all ethnic and confessional groups – he would have to take this back to Obama and ‘his team’ for final approval.
In a diplomatic faux pas and incorrectly speaking for Lavrov, Kerry also included that Lavrov would likely be taking this back to Putin for approval. But it is not likely that Lavrov needs any further consultation given that what was agreed to were probably the full list of requirements from the Russian side. Victory does not typically require approval from above to accept – terms of surrender often do.
The difference is, Lavrov came, in standard Russian form, with the full authority of state to enter into the agreement of their own choosing, to begin with. Lavrov, like the gentleman he is, allowed the child-like Kerry to engage in a little more face-saving damage control.
Of course, Lavrov will not object publicly or correct Kerry. Russia’ position of strength is not based on what Kerry thinks or does not think, says or does not say, but rather on its position in the international community.
Russia’s strength lays with its partners in the region and on its actions founded firmly in principles of international law, and its military capacity – as resoundingly demonstrated today.
Russian strategy has been based upon its understanding between the relationship of actual power and support ‘in principle’ from the international community. As the US adventure has run out of gas, and run out of prospects for success – there has been an equal decrease in support from the international community. Filling the support vacuum, is Russia.
It is indeed very interesting to witness in real time the increased isolation of the US, and its decreased ability to make unilateral actions and demands upon the world. It is amazing to see that Kerry on live TV publicly surrendered the US position on Syria to Russia
JOAQUIN FLORES, based in Belgrade, serves as director for the Center for Syncretic Studies. The center was founded in 2013 in Belgrade as an international ideological education organisation, a discussion forum, review of significant works and news items, and an advocacy organization developing proposal recommendations, as well a research facility for syncretic and inter-disciplinary social analysis. He is also the managing editor of Fort Russ news service, as well as the president of the Berlin based Independent Journalist Association for Peace.