The Kagans Are Back; Wars to Follow
The Kagan family, America’s neoconservative aristocracy, has reemerged having recovered from the letdown over not gaining its expected influence from the election of Hillary Clinton and from its loss of official power at the start of the Trump presidency.
Back pontificating on prominent op-ed pages, the Family Kagan now is pushing for an expanded U.S. military invasion of Syria and baiting Republicans for not joining more enthusiastically in the anti-Russian witch hunt over Moscow’s alleged help in electing Donald Trump.
In a Washington Post op-ed on March 7, Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century and a key architect of the Iraq War, jabbed at Republicans for serving as “Russia’s accomplices after the fact” by not investigating more aggressively.
Then, Frederick Kagan, director of the Critical Threats Project at the neocon American Enterprise Institute, and his wife, Kimberly Kagan, president of her own think tank, Institute for the Study of War, touted the idea of a bigger U.S. invasion of Syria in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on March 15.
Yet, as much standing as the Kagans retain in Official Washington’s world of think tanks and op-ed placements, they remain mostly outside the new Trump-era power centers looking in, although they seem to have detected a door being forced open.
Still, a year ago, their prospects looked much brighter. They could pick from a large field of neocon-oriented Republican presidential contenders or – like Robert Kagan – they could support the establishment Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, whose “liberal interventionism” matched closely with neoconservatism, differing only slightly in the rationalizations used for justifying wars and more wars.
There was also hope that a President Hillary Clinton would recognize how sympatico the liberal hawks and the neocons were by promoting Robert Kagan’s neocon wife, Victoria Nuland, from Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs to Secretary of State.
Then, there would have been a powerful momentum for both increasing the U.S. military intervention in Syria and escalating the New Cold War with Russia, putting “regime change” back on the agenda for those two countries. So, early last year, the possibilities seemed endless for the Family Kagan to flex their muscles and make lots of money.
A Family Business
As I noted two years ago in an article entitled “A Family Business of Perpetual War”: “Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, run a remarkable family business: she has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia and he steps in to demand that Congress jack up military spending so America can meet these new security threats.
“This extraordinary husband-and-wife duo makes quite a one-two punch for the Military-Industrial Complex, an inside-outside team that creates the need for more military spending, applies political pressure to ensure higher appropriations, and watches as thankful weapons manufacturers lavish grants on like-minded hawkish Washington think tanks.
“Not only does the broader community of neoconservatives stand to benefit but so do other members of the Kagan clan, including Robert’s brother Frederick at the American Enterprise Institute and his wife Kimberly, who runs her own shop called the Institute for the Study of War.”
But things didn’t quite turn out as the Kagans had drawn them up. The neocon Republicans stumbled through the GOP primaries losing out to Donald Trump and then – after Hillary Clinton muscled aside Sen. Bernie Sanders to claim the Democratic nomination – she fumbled away the general election to Trump.
After his surprising victory, Trump – for all his many shortcomings – recognized that the neocons were not his friends and mostly left them out in the cold. Nuland not only lost her politically appointed job as Assistant Secretary but resigned from the Foreign Service, too.
With Trump in the White House, Official Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment was down but far from out. The neocons were tossed a lifeline by Democrats and liberals who detested Trump so much that they were happy to pick up Nuland’s fallen banner of the New Cold War with Russia. As part of a dubious scheme to drive Trump from office, Democrats and liberals hyped evidence-free allegations that Russia had colluded with Trump’s team to rig the U.S. election.
New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman spoke for many of this group when he compared Russia’s alleged “meddling” to Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor and Al Qaeda’s 9/11 terror attacks.
On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show, Friedman demanded that the Russia hacking allegations be treated as a casus belli: “That was a 9/11 scale event. They attacked the core of our democracy. That was a Pearl Harbor scale event.” Both Pearl Harbor and 9/11 led to wars.
So, with many liberals blinded by their hatred of Trump, the path was open for neocons to reassert themselves.
Robert Kagan took to the high-profile op-ed page of The Washington Post to bait key Republicans, such as Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who was pictured above the Post article and its headline, “Running interference for Russia.”
“It would have been impossible to imagine a year ago that the Republican Party’s leaders would be effectively serving as enablers of Russian interference in this country’s political system. Yet, astonishingly, that is the role the Republican Party is playing.”
Kagan then reprised Official Washington’s groupthink that accepted without skepticism the claims from President Obama’s outgoing intelligence chiefs that Russia had “hacked” Democratic emails and released them via WikiLeaks to embarrass the Clinton campaign.
Though Obama’s intelligence officials offered no verifiable evidence to support the claims – and WikiLeaks denied getting the two batches of emails from the Russians – the allegations were widely accepted across Official Washington as grounds for discrediting Trump and possibly seeking his removal from office.
Ignoring the political conflict of interest for Obama’s appointees, Kagan judged that “given the significance of this particular finding [about Russian meddling], the evidence must be compelling” and justified “a serious, wide-ranging and open investigation.”
But Kagan also must have recognized the potential for the neocons to claw their way back to power behind the smokescreen of a New Cold War with Russia.
“The most important question concerns Russia’s ability to manipulate U.S. elections. That is not a political issue. It is a national security issue. If the Russian government did interfere in the United States’ electoral processes last year, then it has the capacity to do so in every election going forward. This is a powerful and dangerous weapon, more than warships or tanks or bombers.
“Neither Russia nor any potential adversary has the power to damage the U.S. political system with weapons of war. But by creating doubts about the validity, integrity and reliability of U.S. elections, it can shake that system to its foundations.”
A Different Reality
As alarmist as Kagan’s op-ed was, the reality was far different. Even if the Russians did hack the Democratic emails and somehow slipped the information to WikiLeaks – an unsubstantiated and disputed contention – those two rounds of email disclosures were not that significant to the election’s outcome.
Hillary Clinton blamed her surprise defeat on FBI Director James Comey briefly reopening the investigation into her use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State.
Further, by all accounts, the WikiLeaks-released emails were real and revealed wrongdoing by leading Democrats, such as the Democratic National Committee’s tilting of the primaries against Sen. Bernie Sanders and in favor of Clinton. The emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta disclosed the contents of Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street, which she was trying to hide from voters, as well as some pay-to-play features of the Clinton Foundation.
In other words, the WikiLeaks’ releases helped inform American voters about abuses to the U.S. democratic process. The emails were not “disinformation” or “fake news.” They were real news.
A similar disclosure occurred both before the election and this week when someone leaked details about Trump’s tax returns, which are protected by law. However, except for the Trump camp, almost no one thought that this illegal act of releasing a citizen’s tax returns was somehow a threat to American democracy.
The general feeling was that Americans have a right to know such details about someone seeking the White House. I agree, but doesn’t it equally follow that we had a right to know about the DNC abusing its power to grease the skids for Clinton’s nomination, about the contents of Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street bankers, and about foreign governments seeking pay-to-play influence by contributing to the Clinton Foundation?
Yet, because Obama’s political appointees in the U.S. intelligence community “assess” that Russia was the source of the WikiLeaks emails, the assault on U.S. democracy is a reason for World War III.
More Loose Talk
But Kagan was not satisfied with unsubstantiated accusations regarding Russia undermining U.S. democracy. He asserted as “fact” – although again without presenting evidence – that Russia is “interfering in the coming elections in France and Germany, and it has already interfered in Italy’s recent referendum and in numerous other elections across Europe. Russia is deploying this weapon against as many democracies as it can to sap public confidence in democratic institutions.”
There’s been a lot of handwringing in Official Washington and across the Mainstream Media about the “post-truth” era, but these supposed avatars for truth are as guilty as anyone, acting as if constantly repeating a fact-free claim is the same as proving it.
But it’s clear what Kagan and other neocons have in mind, an escalation of hostilities with Russia and a substantial increase in spending on U.S. military hardware and on Western propaganda to “counter” what is deemed “Russian propaganda.”
Kagan recognizes that he already has many key Democrats and liberals on his side. So he is taking aim at Republicans to force them to join in the full-throated Russia-bashing, writing:
“But it is the Republicans who are covering up. The party’s current leader, the president, questions the intelligence community’s findings, motives and integrity. Republican leaders in Congress have opposed the creation of any special investigating committee, either inside or outside Congress. They have insisted that inquiries be conducted by the two intelligence committees.
“Yet the Republican chairman of the committee in the House has indicated that he sees no great urgency to the investigation and has even questioned the seriousness and validity of the accusations. The Republican chairman of the committee in the Senate has approached the task grudgingly.
“The result is that the investigations seem destined to move slowly, produce little information and provide even less to the public. It is hard not to conclude that this is precisely the intent of the Republican Party’s leadership, both in the White House and Congress. …
“When Republicans stand in the way of thorough, open and immediate investigations, they become Russia’s accomplices after the fact.”
Lying with the Neocons
Many Democrats and liberals may find it encouraging that a leading neocon who helped pave the road to war in Iraq is now by their side in running down Republicans for not enthusiastically joining the latest Russian witch hunt. But they also might pause to ask themselves how they let their hatred of Trump get them into an alliance with the neocons.
On Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, Robert Kagan’s brother Frederick and his wife Kimberly dropped the other shoe, laying out the neocons’ long-held dream of a full-scale U.S. invasion of Syria, a project that was put on hold in 2004 because of U.S. military reversals in Iraq.
But the neocons have long lusted for “regime change” in Syria and were not satisfied with Obama’s arming of anti-government rebels and the limited infiltration of U.S. Special Forces into northern Syria to assist in the retaking of the Islamic State’s “capital” of Raqqa.
In the Journal op-ed, Frederick and Kimberly Kagan call for opening a new military front in southeastern Syria:
“American military forces will be necessary. But the U.S. can recruit new Sunni Arab partners by fighting alongside them in their land. The goal in the beginning must be against ISIS because it controls the last areas in Syria where the U.S. can reasonably hope to find Sunni allies not yet under the influence of al Qaeda. But the aim after evicting ISIS must be to raise a Sunni Arab army that can ultimately defeat al Qaeda and help negotiate a settlement of the war.
“The U.S. will have to pressure the Assad regime, Iran and Russia to end the conflict on terms that the Sunni Arabs will accept. That will be easier to do with the independence and leverage of a secure base inside Syria. … President Trump should break through the flawed logic and poor planning that he inherited from his predecessor. He can transform this struggle, but only by transforming America’s approach to it.”
A New Scheme on Syria
In other words, the neocons are back to their clever word games and their strategic maneuverings to entice the U.S. military into a “regime change” project in Syria.
The neocons thought they had almost pulled off that goal by pinning a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, on the Syrian government and mousetrapping Obama into launching a major U.S. air assault on the Syrian military.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin stepped in to arrange for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to surrender all his chemical weapons even as Assad continued to deny any role in the sarin attack.
Putin’s interference in thwarting the neocons’ dream of a Syrian “regime war” moved Putin to the top of their enemies’ list. Soon key neocons, such as National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman, were taking aim at Ukraine, which Gershman deemed “the biggest prize” and a stepping stone toward eventually ousting Putin in Moscow.
It fell to Assistant Secretary Victoria “Toria” Nuland to oversee the “regime change” in Ukraine. She was caught on an unsecured phone line in late January or early February 2014 discussing with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt how “to glue” or “to midwife” a change in Ukraine’s elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych.
Several weeks later, neo-Nazi and ultranationalist street fighters spearheaded a violent assault on government buildings forcing Yanukovych and other officials to flee for their lives, with the U.S. government quickly hailing the coup regime as “legitimate.”
But the Ukraine putsch led to the secession of Crimea and a bloody civil war in eastern Ukraine with ethnic Russians, events that the State Department and the mainstream Western media deemed “Russian aggression” or a “Russian invasion.”
So, by the last years of the Obama administration, the stage was set for the neocons and the Family Kagan to lead the next stage of the strategy of cornering Russia and instituting a “regime change” in Syria.
All that was needed was for Hillary Clinton to be elected president. But these best-laid plans surprisingly went astray. Despite his overall unfitness for the presidency, Trump defeated Clinton, a bitter disappointment for the neocons and their liberal interventionist sidekicks.
Yet, the so-called “#Resistance” to Trump’s presidency and President Obama’s unprecedented use of his intelligence agencies to paint Trump as a Russian “Manchurian candidate” gave new hope to the neocons and their agenda.
It has taken them a few months to reorganize and regroup but they now see hope in pressuring Trump so hard regarding Russia that he will have little choice but to buy into their belligerent schemes.
As often is the case, the Family Kagan has charted the course of action – batter Republicans into joining the all-out Russia-bashing and then persuade a softened Trump to launch a full-scale invasion of Syria. In this endeavor, the Kagans have Democrats and liberals as the foot soldiers.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
Copyright © Robert Parry, Consortiumnews, 2017
Holodomor- 1932-33 Ukrainians Starved To Death By Jew Lazar Kaganovich
Impending Danger: Today’s “Super-Fuzed”, Super-Powerful US Thermonuclear Weapons Directed against Russia. “How is This Going to End?” (Putin)
Today’s thermonuclear weapons are monstrously more powerful than the 15 kiloton Little Boy and 21 Kiloton Fat Man nukes used to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
An article by nuclear experts Hans Kristensen and Matthew McKinsie, together with ballistic missiles expert Theodore Postol explained the enhanced power of US submarine-launched ballistic missiles “with more than three times the number of warheads needed to destroy the entire fleet of Russian land-based missiles in their silos.”
Super-fuzing makes these weapons super-powerful, the authors saying “even the most accurate ballistic missile warheads might not detonate close enough to targets hardened against nuclear attack to destroy them.”
Super-fuzing lets them destroy them “by detonating above and around” them instead of too far away to be effective.
The technology lets nuclear armed US submarines be hugely more lethal than years earlier. They’re all equipped with super-fuzed warheads.
Increased US nuclear strike capability “has serious implications for strategic stability and perceptions of US nuclear strategy and intentions,” the authors explained.
Russia understands it gives Washington a more feasible first-strike capability, forcing it to take appropriate countermeasures.
Super-fuzing “kill capability” poses a greater risk that nuclear weapons by either country could be used in response to a feared attack, even when one hasn’t occurred, certainly not by Russia preemptively, in self-defense only.
America can monitor missile launches from space. Russia’s early warning radar is ground-based, giving it 15 minutes warning time compared to Washington’s 30 minutes – “creat(ing) a deeply destabilizing and dangerous strategic nuclear situation,” the authors stressed.
With US hostility toward Russia unchanged under Trump, the danger of nuclear war is as great as any time during the Cold War.
Super-fuzed warheads triple their lethality. It lets US submarines perform “a wider range of missions than was the case before” super-fuzing.
It’s officially called the arming, fuzing and firing (AF&F) system. It’s a potential doomsday weapon if enough of them are detonated.
America has enough of these weapons to destroy Russia’s silo-based ICBMs and have many remaining for other missions, including Russia’s non-hardened mobile nuclear capability – devastating, if launched, with potentially catastrophic consequences far beyond Russia.
America vastly enhanced the killing power of its nuclear arsenal, with greater first-strike capability than Russia, leaving it dangerously vulnerable.
“We cannot foresee a situation in which a competent and properly informed US president would order a surprise first strike against Russia or China,” the authors explained.
But our conclusion makes the increased sea-based offensive and defensive capabilities we have described seem all the more bizarre as a strategy for reducing the chances of nuclear war with either Russia or China.
Putin’s remarks to journalists last June at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum indicate how he weighs the danger of America’s threat to Russia, saying:
No matter what we said to our American partners (to curb the arms race), they refused to cooperate with us. They rejected our offers, and continue to do their own thing.
… They rejected everything we had to offer…The Iranian threat does not exist, but missile defense systems are continuing to be positioned…
That means we were right when we said that they are lying to us.
Their reasons were not genuine, in reference to the ‘Iranian nuclear threat.’
(People in Western nations) do not feel a sense of the impending danger. This is what worries me.
A missile defense system is one element of the whole system of offensive military potential.
It works as part of a whole that includes offensive missile launchers.
One complex blocks, the other launches high precision weapons. The third blocks a potential nuclear strike, and the fourth sends out its own nuclear weapon in response.
This is all designed to be part of one system. I don’t know how this is all going to end.
What I do know is that we will need to defend ourselves.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
Copyright © Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2017
Third Time’s The Charm – The Neocons Want Another “Sunni Insurgency”
When the U.S. was confronted with an insurgency in Iraq it did not find fault with own behavior but identified Syria and Iran as the culprits. It decided to attack them too. As Seymour Hersh reported in 2007:
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
Four years later the U.S. used the Sunni militants it created to first attack Libya and then Syria. With U.S. support the militants to destroyed the independent Libyan state under Ghaddafi. The country is now in total chaos. In Syria the militants, with clandestine support from the U.S. and its allies, waged a six year long war to overthrow the government. Many of them joined the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, the Takfiri offsprings of the U.S. program and Saudi money that went (somewhat) rogue. These groups did not limit, as the U.S. wished, their attacks to U.S. enemies but committed several larger scale attacks against U.S. allied countries. Now the groups themselves are enemies.
The project of creating a controllable “Sunni Arab force” to destroy Syria had failed. The Pentagon made another attempts, spending tens of millions of dollars, to train a new Sunni Arab force in Syria to attack the Syrian government as well as the Takfiris. As soon as these new groups entered into Syria they joined the Takfifirs and handed over the weapons the U.S. army had given them.
The U.S. is now engaging with Russia and local Kurdish forces in Syria to destroy the Takfiri groups on the ground. The Kurds are of various religions and denominations with a mostly secular outlook. That plan made some progress though an actual attack on Raqqa, the current center of the Islamic State, is still weeks off. The Syrian government is winning its part of the fight in the west of the country.
But that is not enough for the U.S. neoconservatives. Their task is to further Zionist plans by creating more chaos in the Middle East. Their partner and money source is the Sunnni-Wahhabi Saudi Arabia. Having successfully arranged the destruction of Iraq, various failed “surges” as well as the attack on Syria, they can not condone that the Syrian government survives the war.
Thus they set out to create a new (the third now) Sunni Arab force to continue what their original war plan prescribed.
Frederick and Kimberly Kagan, luminaries of the neoconservative family, initiate their new campaign on the neoconned opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal: A New Strategy Against ISIS and al Qaeda – The U.S. has been relying too heavily on Shiites and Kurds. It needs to cultivate Sunni Arab partners.
The Kagan family, other well known members are Robert Kagan and Victoria Nuland, are also main instigators of the war on Iraq. Here they are in 2008 strolling (heavily guarded) through the occupied Basra, Iraq amusing themselves of the destruction they created.
The op-ed is a shorter version of a “study” written by the “think tank” the Kagan family runs to collect money.
It says in short: The U.S. shall shun the Kurds and not cooperate with Russian, Syrian or Iranian forces. It shall create another Sunni Arab proxy insurgency in Syria to fight ISIS and al-Qaeda and also the Syrian government. The first step towards that is already fiction:
The US and acceptable partners seize and secure a base in southeastern Syria, such as Abu Kamal, and create a de facto safe zone. They then recruit, train, equip, and partner with local Sunni Arab anti-ISIS forces to conduct an offensive against ISIS. This independent Sunni Arab force forms the basis of a movement to destroy ISIS and al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria over many years. Building a Sunni Arab anti-ISIS partner must be the rate-determining step in the advance along the Euphrates River Valley (ERV). American forces must fight alongside their partners to reduce the trust deficit between the US and potential Sunni allies. Potential partners must not support Salafi-jihadists, Iranian proxies, or Kurdish separatism.
The U.S. has already tried this since 2006 by clandestine means. Those forces morphed into al-Qaeda/ISIS. The Pentagon then tried the same concept by military means. That proxy force ran over to the enemy as soon as it could. Now a third try shall be made?
The fictitious plot continues:
- The US launches clearing operations along the Euphrates River Valley toward Raqqa, using US forces and the new Sunni Arab partner at Abu Kamal, and in Iraq’s Anbar Province.
- The US brokers a peace deal between Turkey and the Syrian-Kurdish “People’s Defense Forces” (YPG), focused on the contact line in Aleppo Province.
- The US implements a no-fly zone in Dera’a Province, demonstrating US commitment to addressing the grievances of populations under jihadist control and facilitating a local cessation of hostilities with Russia and between pro-Assad and US-backed anti-Assad forces. The US must also help partner forces in Dera’a destroy ISIS and al Qaeda, which would help facilitate a negotiated settlement of the Syrian war. The US should execute this step after the first phase and coincident with clearing operations in southeastern Syria.
- The US should try to stitch together the new force with existing US-backed fighters to create a single partner that can secure terrain from jihadists, defend against pro-Assad attacks, and uphold a settlement against the Assad regime.
These follow-on operations set conditions that favor broader US interests in Syria, but they do not achieve those interests. Subsequent phases will be necessary and will require a significant counter-Iranian component in Iraq and Syria.
I ca not imagine how much Kool-aid one must drink to come up with so much nonsense.
Let us start with those imaginary tribes in south-east Syria. The south-eastern desert of Syria is empty with little resources (besides some oil) and few people. These are rather small groups where the tribal leaders no longer have much say. The tribal members mostly live in the cities. They are members of the Syrian army or of its enemies. Some of the tribal members had joined ISIS, other fought it and were badly hurt with hundreds of casualties on their side. Most of these tribes lived quite well with the Syrian government and would be happy if it would return and control their area. Most of them have no sectarian grievances with Damascus. They have no inventive or wish to fight the Syrian state.
The Turkish president Erdogan is currently trying to hire the very same tribes to fight the Syrian Kurds. He will fail with that too.
The Kagans want their new grand force to also fight al-Qaeda. But al-Qaeda is in north-west Syria (and still supported by Turkey.) The Kagans emphasize the use of local forces. How are south-eastern desert tribes “local” to the people in Idleb?
The real aim of the Kagans is of course in the last parts of their plan which I highlighted. They want to use these “Sunni Arab tribes” to make another attempt of destroying the Syrian state to then attack the Iranian “bridge” to Hizbullah in Lebanon.
Fortunately the Kagans are at least six month behind the realities on the ground in Syria. The Pentagon will laugh at any “Sunni Arab tribes” ideas. The U.S. military will try to take Raqqa from ISIS with the help of the Kurds and in coordination with Syrian government forces. The Syrian government forces will also destroy al-Qaeda in Idleb.
The chance that Trump will pick up on these neocon plans is practically zero. But who knows? The people who pay the Kagans also spend lots of money to “lobby” (i.e. bribe) the Washington establishment. They certainly hope that there is still a chance to get their ideas wormed into the minds of the White House.