THE ROVING EYE Dogs of war versus the emerging caravan
By Pepe Escobar The dogs of war bark and the emerging-powers caravan ... keeps on trucking. That's the Group of 20 meeting in St Petersburg in a nutshell. Count on the indispensable (bombing) nation - via US President Barack "Red Line" Obama - to disrupt a summit whose original agenda was to tackle the immense problems afflicting the global economy.
Economy is for suckers. Get me to my Tomahawk on time. The Obama doctrine - Yes We Scan, Yes We Drone - reached a new low with its Yes We Bomb "solution" to the chemical weapons
attack in Ghouta, Syria, presenting world public opinion in the run-up towards the G-20 with the illusionist spectacle of a "debate" in the US Senate about the merits of a new bout of humanitarian bombing.
What in fact was served was the appalling spectacle of serial wacko Republicans of the John McCain and Lindsey Graham mould squeezing the desperate Obama administration like little lemons. Their Orwellian gambit - "reverse the battlefield momentum" - pushed by the senile McCain, was duly approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This means bombing the hell out of Damascus during a "window of opportunity" of three months, with a possibility of extension. Red Line Obama is on board, assuring, before leaving to Sweden and the G-20, that his former "slap on the wrist" would "fit in" with regime change.
Not even the ghost of Machiavelli would come up with an adjective to describe the whole planet waiting in disbelief to see whether the almost universally despised House of Representatives (15% approval rating, according to RealClearPolitics) decides, Roman Empire style, to give the thumbs down and authorize the bombing of one of the oldest cities in humanity (well, they have an illustrious precedent of applauding Shock and Awe over Baghdad, which topped the Mongols going medieval in the 13th century).
And all this against the will of the "American people" who, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll support this folly by an overwhelming 9%.
Yes We Bomb. But what for? The following exchange might have come straight from Monty Python. Unfortunately, it's real.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey: "The answer to whether I support additional support for the moderate opposition is yes."
Senator Bob Corker (R, Tennessee): "And this authorization will support those activities in addition to responding to the weapons of mass destruction."
Dempsey: "I don't know how the resolution will evolve, but I support - "
Corker: "What you're seeking. What is it you're seeking?"
Dempsey: "I can't answer that, what we're seeking ... "
The Pentagon may be clueless - rather, playing clueless. But Bandar Bush, AIPAC/Israel and vast sectors of the industrial-military complex know exactly what they are seeking. And Secretary of State John Kerry knows not only what they are seeking but also who's footing the bill, as in "if the United States is prepared to go do the whole thing the way we've done it previously in other places, they'll carry that cost. That's how dedicated they are to this."
Free bombing. For three months. With inbuilt free upgrading. Operation Tomahawk With Cheese but also bacon, onions, chilies, mayo, guacamole, the works. All courtesy of Saudi Arabia's Prince Bandar bin Sultan - aka Bandar Bush - plus minions Emirates and Qatar. What's not to like? The inestimable Vijay Prashad, author of The Poorer Nations, has been using his calculator:
Exhibit A: Saudis have put ''on the table'' their offer to pay for the entire US assault on Syria. Exhibit B: in case of an attack on Syria, the price of oil is slated to go from $109 to $125 per barrel (base case scenario), with an upside scenario of $150 per barrel. Saudi Arabia will produce 9.8 million barrels of oil a day. Which means if the spike is only the base case scenario, Saudi will gross a super-profit of $156.8 million per day. If it is the upside scenario, then the Saudi super-profits will be $401.8 million per day. Not a bad arbitrage game from Mr Bandar and his gang of Saudi "democrats".
Addendum: each Tomahawk costs only US$1.5 million. With a prospective free flow of Bandar Bush's cash, no wonder there's a compatible free flow of Krug at Raytheon's HQ.
Confronted with the sumptuous marriage of the industrial-military complex and the House of Saud producing lethal cruise offspring duly employed as al-Qaeda's Air Force, a pesky detail like hardcore Chechen jihadis forming their own militia, The Mujahedin of the Caucasus and the Levant, is, well, irrelevant. As irrelevant as the fact that these jihadis are run by none other than Bandar Bush, who bragged to President Vladimir Putin he can turn them on and off at will.
So if these Chechens are Bandar's minions, they are also Friends of Obama/Kerry/Rice/Power. Just like the jihadis who are fighting to take over the "crusader" village of Maloula - where people still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus - so they can proceed to gleefully behead a few Christian infidels.
What would Zbig say?
Red Line Obama anyway has already telegraphed that he's bombing - whatever congress decides. Obama of course is just a cipher - he couldn't point to Maloula on a map (not to mention his "security advisers" of the Ben Rhodes mould). Syria is a peach - and it has to be devoured. Too independent. Allied with Iran and Russia. Those river sources in the Golan coveted by Israel. The chance to further provoke Russia in the Caucasus. The chance, in the long run, to destabilize China in Xinjiang. The chance to isolate Hezbollah, allow a new Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon, open the (lethal) road to Tehran.
Yet the agendas will keep diverging. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey would bless regime change, but he's terrified of Syrian Kurds becoming totally independent and further giving toxic ideas to Turkish Kurds. The House of Saud wants all-out regime change, so it may be able, in one swoop, to wound Iran, Iraq and Hezbollah. So what if those Allahu Akbar Friends of Kerry and company run amok? They are not on Saudi Arabian soil threatening the petromonarchy; let them fight those "apostate" Shi'ites in assorted latitudes.
Let's see what the man who in theory instilled little nuggets of international relations realities into Red Line Obama's brain think about all this. Zbigniew "Grand Chessboard" Brzezinski is in favor of "some symbolic military action''. Well, a cost-effective version would be to parachute Kerry in Maloula.
Dr Zbig also wants to "involve the oriental powers", as "they have to be very worried as to where this is headed''. Correct; that's what Chinese President Xi Jinping told Putin, he worries about - oil at $150 a barrel. The Russians, according to Dr Zbig, are using "aggressive and insulting language''. Ridiculous - when Putin dubbed Kerry a liar that was the understatement of the year. Dr Zbig is in fact terrified that "the Russians may use this conflict, if it explodes, to undermine overall our position in the Middle East." Memo: your "position" is already undermined all over the planet, not only the Middle East.
And when Dr Zbig says that the Russians are "fearful of stability in the Caucusus", and "Putin has a stake in the Winter Olympics", and "there is leverage here that we can use intelligently", he sounds eerily like Bandar Bush threatening Putin to unleash "his" Chechens in Sochi in 2014.
More enlightening, and with no double talk, is what the manipulated "opposition" wants. It's all about Iran - and "terrorist ally" Hezbollah (scroll down to page 6 here.)
The Xi-Putin show
Even immersed in all this hysteria, the BRICS caravan managed to engage in serious business at the G-20. They held a mini-summit to coordinate their common position - which, as far as Syria is concerned, is totally anti-war (you won't see this reported in Western corporate media). They did say, en bloc, that Obama's war will have "an extremely negative effect on the global economy''.
So they discussed, as a group, how to increase their trade using their own currencies; how to develop their markets (that's part of the original Russian agenda for this G-20); and how to improve trade relations. Common strategy: multiple escape routes against US dollar hegemony.
They advanced on negotiations relative to the capital structure, shareholding and governance of the BRICS development bank; initial capital of $50 billion and an emergency fund of $100 billion, a sort of emerging powers International Monetary Fund. The bank should have a head start in the next BRICS summit in 2014 in Brazil.
And as far as Russia and China are concerned, there's the annual meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) next week. Before that, already contemplating the prospect of $200 billion in bilateral trade by 2020, Xi and Putin discussed a rash of mega-projects - not only revolving around Pipelineistan - and the proverbial "further strategic international coordination". The official Chinese version to their strategic partnership is a beauty: "Sowing in spring and harvesting in autumn."
It's like sleeping in one of those fabulous beds at a Four Seasons resort. No hysteria. No "red lines". No Tomahawks. No "credibility on the line."
This is what Obama said in August 2012:
We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.
Note the "my" and then again another "my" invoking responsibility, not "the world".
So while the Xi and Putin caravan reenacts the spirit of the Silk Road, the dogs of war keep barking; and informed public opinion everywhere starts to consider the possibility that Obama, by not assuming full responsibility for what he said, and blaming "the world", may also be a coward.