Schiller Institute on YouTube Schiller Institute on Facebook RSS

Home >

Syria: Triple Crisis Raises Threshold for Global War

by Jeffrey Steinberg
June 2013

Jeffrey Steinberg.

This article appears in the June 21, 2013 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

June 16—The convergence of three global crises has placed the world on the very edge of a potential war of extinction. While no one—not even the most deranged genocidalists within the upper echelons of the Anglo-Dutch imperial system—necessarily intends to provoke global war, the situation surrounding the Syria crisis has reached the point that any one of a number of triggers could ignite the global conflagration.

This danger was reflected in the past 48 hours by a senior Israeli strategist, an advisor to the chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, who commented that Israel is "caught in a Greek tragedy," with no clear exit. He warned that Israel could be driven to carry out a military attack on Russia in the form of the threatened Israeli destruction of Russian S-300 air defense systems that have been promised to Syria, fully recognizing that this could spark a much larger confrontation. The Israeli strategist blamed especially President Obama, asserting that the U.S. had put Israel in an impossible situation, starting with the overthrow of Qaddafi in Libya.

The triple threat can be summarized as follows:

A Confluence of Dangers

The financial system is at a breakpoint: There is a growing recognition that the hyperinflationary quantitative easing policies of the U.S. Fed and the European Central Bank have created an impossible situation in which any effort to halt the hyperinflation could cause an immediate collapse of the entire system. The IMF and the BIS both issued stark warnings this week that the monetary emissions had to continue. Those committed to "saving" the current system have reached the end of the line, where there is no possibility of avoiding another financial explosion—except by reinstating Glass-Steagall bank separation, starting in the United States. The level of desperation has contributed significantly to the escalation of the crisis centered around Syria.

Obama is desperate as scandals close in: The revelation that the National Security Agency and the FBI have been spying on Americans, in gross violation of the First and Fourth Amendment guarantees of free speech and due process, has caused such a public outcry that even some members of Congress have awoken and are threatening action against Obama. The pile-up of impeachable crimes by this President has been highlighted by the sequence of revelations over the past month: Benghazi-9/11; the Internal Revenue Service targeting of an Obama "enemy's list" of conservative organizations; the spying on journalists from Associated Press and Fox News; and now, the NSA mass spying on every American with a telephone, a cell phone, or an Internet account. Gen. Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, and Robert Mueller, the outgoing head of the FBI, were grilled on Capitol Hill last week, and a group of conservative Republican Congressmen and Senators, joined by Constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein and by the American Civil Liberties Union, have announced class-action suits against the President over the mass spying.

Obama's decision to arm the Syrian rebels raises the threshold for a wider war: A much-publicized "national security review" of the Syria crisis took place beginning on June 9, when the National Security Council Deputies Committee, which includes the CIA, the NSC, the State Department and the Pentagon, held a number of meetings that culminated June 13 with the announcement by Obama's national security spokesman Ben Rhodes that the U.S. would begin arming the Syrian rebels. Rhodes claimed that the U.S. intelligence community had concluded "with high certainty" that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against the rebels, resulting in between 100-150 documented deaths.

Within 24 hours of the announcement, the New York Times and Washington Post were reporting that the decision to arm the Syrian rebels had been made at least a week earlier, and that the Syria chemical weapons "red line" was used as the pretext for the escalation in U.S. involvement in the Syria conflict, which has expanded into a regional war, with increasingly sectarian dimensions.

It has been British policy for the past several years to provoke a permanent Sunni versus Shi'ite war within the Islamic world, as part of the policy of permanent chaos and population reduction. In April 2013, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), the leading military think tank of the monarchy, released a briefing paper, "A Return to East of Suez? UK Military Deployment to the Gulf," boasting that Britain was resuming its role as the dominant power over the Gulf, a role that it had turned over to the Americans in 1971.

In fact, the Obama "decision" to escalate American involvement in the Syria war was imposed on Washington—against the strenuous objections of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other government agencies. Long before Obama made his announcement, British Prime Minister David Cameron had announced that London had concluded that Syria had used chemical weapons against its citizens and the European Union arms embargo had to end. Cameron was joined by French President François Hollande in pressing Obama to break from the "realists" in his Administration, and jump head-first into the regime-change program against the Assad government.

Russia: WMD Déjà Vu

The great danger emanating from the new phase of the Syria crisis is that it will lead to a direct confrontation between the United States and Russia. Top Russian officials have warned that the so-called "evidence" of chemical weapons (CW) use by Assad is unconvincing. Contrary to wild propaganda claims to the contrary in the Western media, Putin's Russia is not about to throw Syrian President Assad to the wolves.

Russian arms deliveries to Syria have increased, and as the result, the Syrian Army continues to make military advances on several fronts in the war. When Secretary of State John Kerry met with Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow in mid-May, the Russians promised that they would not deploy the S-300 advanced air defense systems to Syria until after the scheduled Geneva II peace conference.

However, the recent military gains by the Syrian Army—even without the advanced air defenses—have added to the desperation in London, Paris, and at the White House that Assad must be removed from office as soon as possible. The danger of a head-on confrontation with Russia, as the result of this madness, is exactly what the Israeli strategist was warning about. In a Washington Post interview published June 15, Israeli President Shimon Peres made it clear that he did not favor escalating the crisis, drawing the United State potentially into another war. His recommendation was for the issue to be handled by the Arab League, leaving the United States, Russia, China, and Europe out of the picture altogether.

Regardless of what level of material support the U.S. provides in the coming days and weeks, the shift in policy by the Obama Administration has already been seen as a green light for others. Saudi Arabia has announced that it will be providing shoulder-held anti-aircraft weapons to the Syrian rebels. The Saudis have concentrated their financial and military aid towards the al-Nusra Front and other hard-core jihadist factions of the Syrian opposition; and it can be assumed that the more advanced weapons will go to the same players. Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the head of Saudi intelligence, who was deeply implicated in the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., has been pouring resources into the jihadists in northeastern Lebanon, extending the Syrian war directly into that neighboring country. Ironically, there is now a de facto Saudi-Israeli military alliance against Hezbollah, spreading the war beyond the Syrian borders and greatly increasing the likelihood of a regional or even global war.

Democratic Party sources with close ties to the Putin circles in Russia say that the Russian President has given up on any possibility of a "reset" of relations with the United States so long as President Obama remains in office. This view was reinforced when Obama named Dr. Susan Rice as his new National Security Advisor. Rice was the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, when the United States double-crossed Russia and China over the Libya regime-change campaign. Rice has gone overboard on numerous public occasions, assailing Russia and China for continuing to support the Assad regime. Her arrival at the White House as head of national security will deepen the distrust and animosity between Washington and Moscow. Kerry is reportedly furious over the White House actions, which have undermined the joint effort he initiated with Lavrov to reach a diplomatic settlement of the Syria crisis.

In the immediate days ahead, any one of the three simultaneous crises—the trans-Atlantic financial collapse, the danger of a major miscalculation to general war around the Syria conflict, and the desperation of President Obama, facing a barrage of Watergate-type scandals—could push the global situation over the edge.