Western think tanks have been working relentlessly to try and counter Russia’s geopolitical masterstroke in Syria, which has clearly taken most strategists in the West by complete surprise. Reading through the analysis by these think tanks on Russia’s role in Syria, one is starkly reminded of how immoral Western foreign policy actually is, when you remember that these organisations are freaking out because Russia is bombing terrorists! Obviously, the reason why they are so distraught is because Russia is bombing the West’s terrorists, which they have been using as proxy armies to try and force regime change in Damascus (a strategy that has completely failed).
Potential countermeasures are the subject of a recent article for the Brookings Institution written by Pavel K. Baev, a nonresident senior fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings, titled: Russia’s Syrian entanglement: Can the West sit back and watch? Baev suggests that “the decision to withdraw the batteries of Patriot surface-to-air missiles [from Turkey] must be cancelled”,before arguing that the US and its allies could bomb “Hezbollah bands around Damascus”:
Finally, the United States and its allies could deliver a series of airstrikes on the Hezbollah bands around Damascus. That would be less confrontational vis-à-vis Russia than hitting Assad’s forces. Hezbollah has already suffered losses in the Syrian war and is not particularly motivated to stand with Assad to the bitter end, away from [its] own home-ground in Lebanon. (Israel would appreciate such punishment, too.)
Striking Hezbollah may not have the desired effect Baev seems to envisage however, as this belligerent action is as likely to galvanize the group and ensure it will fight “to the bitter end” with the Syrian army, than encourage it to scale back its involvement in Syria. Airstrikes on Hezbollah could also potentially provoke a response against the perpetrators of the violence, further escalating a conflict that already involves a plethora of regional and international powers. Furthermore, many people would consider an attack on Hezbollah to be essentially an attack on Iran, as the Lebanese based group is funded by Tehran and closely aligned with the country.
Brookings recommendations once again highlight the fact that large sections of the US establishment have absolutely no focus on defeating ISIS in the region, as Brookings is advocating bombing a major group that has been fighting ISIS for years now. Rather, many within the US are still focused on toppling the regime in Damascus (which is never going to happen) in addition to weakening the forces that are battling ISIS. If the West was serious about defeating ISIS, they would support and cooperate with the forces that are truly fighting against this new so-called caliphate.
TTIP is an Geoeconomic Tool against Russia
Western strategists are terrified of Europe moving closer to the East, and an EU-Russian (especially a German-Russian) alliance arising. Merging Russia and the EU in the future is an objective of some US strategists, but Washington only desires this if both Russia and the EU are completely subservient to US dictates. Today however, Russia is a sovereign, independent nation which is not controlled by the US, and some within the EU are increasingly tiring of being vassals of Washington. This means closer relations between Russia and the EU is a geopolitical disaster for the US at the present moment, as Washington’s power will be severely diminished if this tectonic shift occurs.
By understanding this reality, it is now obvious how essential the trade deal between the US and the EU – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – is to US geostrategy. As well as being a corporate fascist deal that empowers multi-national corporations at the expense of citizens, TTIP is a geoeconomic weapon against Russia to cement the transatlantic alliance between the US and the EU.
Ensuring TTIP passes was a recommendation of another Western organisation that has been working on potential counter strategies to Russia, namely the Washington-based Atlantic Council (AC). In a testimony before the US Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington on October 8, 2015, Gen James L. Jones, Jr., the Chairman of the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security and a former National Security Advisor, Jones emphasises the importance of TTIP “successfully concluding” for the West:
Energy security is instrumental for transatlantic growth, prosperity, and security. The same can be said of successfully concluding TTIP. Europe and the US have the largest trading partnership in the world. Strengthening it serves our mutual interests and reaffirms the centrality of the transatlantic alliance in the 21st century. TTIP also affords the U.S. a unique opportunity to author the rulebook and roadmap for 21st century advanced economies.
Jones other recommendations include working to diversify the EU’s energy supply to “undermine Putin’s use of energy as a political weapon”, continuing to impose sanctions on Moscow, in addition to admitting Montenegro into NATO next year and working to pull Macedonia into the military alliance. The retired General also asserts that the US should provide the government in Kiev with “anti-tank missiles, intelligence support, training and counter-electronic warfare capabilities”.
Russia of course is well aware of the importance of TTIP to Washington’s long-term agenda. In Vladimir Putin’s speech at the United Nations at the end of September, Putin appeared to confront some of the US-led trade deals which we have seen being negotiated in recent years, most probably referring to TTIP and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) (from 18.45 into the speech):
I would like to point out another sign of a growing economic selfishness. Some countries have chosen to create closed and exclusion economic associations, with the establishment being negotiated behind the scenes in secret from those countries own citizens, the general public [and] the business community. Other states whose interests may be effected are not informed of anything either. It seems we are about to be faced with an accomplished fact that the rules of the game have been changed in favour of a narrow group of the privileged, with the WTO having no say. This could imbalance the trade system completely and disintegrate the global economic space. These issues affect the interests of all states and influence the future of the world economy as a whole.
For a multitude of reasons, defeating TTIP would be a colossal achievement for the world. Many European’s are diametrically opposed to this deal, with hundreds of thousands protesting TTIP in Germany a recent illustration of this sentiment. Stop TTIP!
Steven MacMillan is an independent writer, researcher, geopolitical analyst and editor of The Analyst Report, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.