Obama Prioritizes Weakening Russia, Over Weakening ISIS

Eric Zuesse

Michael Snyder noted at Global Research on March 1st, that the U.S. is now air-dropping weapons into ISIS territory inside Syria. The U.S. is arming ISIS against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, whom Obama wants to remove. Snyder asks rhetorically: “We have the most sophisticated military on the entire planet and yet we drop weapons into the hands of the enemy by mistake? Come on.” Can it be that the U.S. Air Force doesn’t have maps showing the half of Syria that’s controlled by ISIS? Of course not. ISIS’s chunk of the country constitutes almost the entire northeastern half of Syria.

Snyder further notes: “When it comes to airstrikes [against ISIS], the Obama administration has had an ‘Iraq first’ policy.  This has put ISIS on a defensive posture in Iraq, but this has actually encouraged expansion of ISIS in Syria. ISIS is just following the path of least resistance. Is Obama trying to discourage ISIS from committing troops and resources in Iraq because he actually wants them to focus on taking down the Assad regime in Syria?”

Well, it’s certainly working. Snyder also notes that, “ISIS has almost doubled the land it controls in Syria since the US-led coalition began airstrikes against the extremist group in the summer, a new map has revealed.” He points out the obvious conclusion: “Obama knows all of this. He just wants to take down Assad.”

He closes with the question: “So is Barack Obama actually trying to help ISIS take over Syria?” However, Snyder ignores one crucial thing: the reason why Obama is so obsessed with causing regime-change in Syria.

Bashar al-Assad is an ally of Russia, and Obama’s chief foreign-policy objective is to defeat Russia, not to defeat Islamic extremism.

Whereas President George W. Bush did nothing to defeat Islamic extremism (and he may actually be said to have created ISIS by his overthrow of Saddam Hussein and replacement of him by a Shiite, bigoted anti-Sunni, regime in Iraq), President Barack Obama started his Presidency with an authentic focus on killing Osama bin Laden, and on similarly droning-to-death most of Al Qaeda’s top leaders, as well as many Islamic extremists in Yemen and in Pakistan. So: no one can say that Obama just doesn’t care about Islamic extremism (which one could say about Bush, though perhaps Bush did care and was merely too stupid to be at all effective against it). Obama does care about suppressing Islamic extremism; but he cares more about causing regime-change in Russia. (So do Republicans, which is why Bush was even weaker against Al Qaeda than Clinton was, and far weaker than Obama has been.)

Almost all Republicans, plus the top level of the Democratic Party such as Obama, hate Russia, even after communism ended and the Soviet Union broke up. They are simply obsessed with destroying Russia. So: although Bush was weak against Al Qaeda, he was strong against Russia: he brought into NATO, the military club against Russia, the following seven nations: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia — six of which seven nations had formerly been members of the Warsaw Pact along with the U.S.S.R., against the U.S.

The reality is: Obama, like Republicans generally, hates Russia.

That’s what his Ukraine-policy has been about. That’s what his Syria-policy has been about. That’s what his Iran-policy is about. And that’s what his Libya policy has been about.

Syria is important in this objective he has, because Syria is the key to replacing Russia as Europe’s main source of natural gas. Syria is the sole block against a natural-gas pipeline from Qatar through Saudi Arabia then Jordan then Syria then Turkey into Europe. Building and operating such a pipeline would enable Qatar to compete against Russia as a supplier of gas to Europe — the world’s largest gas-market. (Russia, Iran, and Qatar — in that order —have the world’s largest gas-reserves. Iran, an ally of Russia, has been blocked by U.S. sanctions, so has been out of the picture for supplying that; Obama wants to replace Russia by Qatar, which sponsors the moderate-extremist Muslim Brotherhood, not only in Egypt but in Syria and elsewhere.) Furthermore, the U.S. military alliance (NATO) could then end Russia as a gas-supplier to Europe, and switch all of that business to the royal family of Qatar, which sponsors the Muslim Brotherhood.

The only other route that Qatar had been considering, “through Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq” into Turkey, was sidelined because Iraq was considered too unstable. Now, Syria too is on fire, so plans for both pipeline routes are in abeyance.

If Assad is defeated, then the United States will be able to arrange the entire Qatar-Saudi-Jordan-Syrian portion of the non-Iraqi route all the way up to the Turkish border, and the only question then will be Turkey, which at least until recently was hoping to become a transit-nation for Qatari gas. However, on 14 January 2015 was announced, in the anti-Russian news-medium Bloomberg, “Russia to Shift Ukraine Gas Transit to Turkey as EU Cries Foul,” and Turkey, in effect, allied with Russia. The anti-Russian Bloomberg quoted EU-sources as saying that “The decision makes no economic sense.” However, even whether it does make “economic sense” or boost their wealth, is almost beside the point. International aristocrats are far more interested in power than in wealth. What difference does another billion dollars make to someone whose net worth is already ten billion? It makes a difference, but power over an adversary is what’s key to them. At this level, power is key, economics is not.

Obama had been working with Turkey and Qatar to get the Muslim Brotherhood into control of Syria; and, now, Obama is switching to support the Saudi-backed ISIS, because the Muslim Brotherhood (Syria’s Qatari and U.S.-backed ‘moderates’) have simply proven ineffective. Syria, it turns out, is not just another Egypt.

Now that Obama needs to choose between defeating ISIS, or else defeating Russia, he is clearly choosing to defeat Russia. Forced to a choice in this matter, he is finally sacrificing everything, to his war against Russia.

And that gets us to the case of Iran: If Secretary of State Kerry can swing a deal there, then perhaps a way could be found to get Iranian gas into Europe. Turning Iran against Russia would certainly be game-changing. It can’t be done in Iran by a “color revolution” coup like in Ukraine, but our State Department are trying to do it, somehow. However, America’s virtual co-President Benjamin Netanyahu, has solid Republican backing to kill any such deal. So: it’s unlikely that Iran will be able to replace the current role of Qatar (as an alternative supplier of gas to Europe). Israel supports the jihadist Sunni Muslims (including the Qataris), against the Shiites (Iran), because that keeps Israel popular in the United States, where the average person is opposed to jihadists. (And every televised jihadist beheading thus adds to Israel’s support in the U.S.)

Furthermore, the U.S. has long been allied with Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabist Sunni sect, against Iran and its Shiite sect. ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other jihadist Muslims are Sunnis, not Shiites; and the Saudi sect of Sunni, the Wahhabist sect, are the most extremist of all muslims. The deal between the fundamentalist Muslim cleric Wahhab and the first King Saud, which made him the king, was reached back in 1744; and it’s the foundation of the Saudi nation even today. Osama bin Laden’s accountant or bookkeeper, who kept the detailed financial records of all of the many million-dollar-plus donations that kept Al Qaeda going and that paid its top fighters handsomely, was kept muzzled by George W. Bush and Barack Obama until just recently, but finally he was able to reveal, and under oath, the deal between Al Qaeda and the royals of all of the Arabic oil kingdoms, all of whom are Sunni. 9/11 was financed by those royals, and Al Qaeda’s bookkeeper explained how he had picked up the checks that kept them going.

Things didn’t start this way. Wahhabist jihad developed only after the CIA arranged for fanatical jihadists to pour into Afghanistan to overthrow the Soviet-backed regime there. This created what Obama now calls “extremism.” Back when it was the weapon-of-choice against the U.S.S.R., it was praised by Zbigniew Brzezinski, who now advises Obama as a friend. Brzezinski said of Al Qaeda’s forefathers – the Mujahadin:

We know of their deep belief in god – that they’re confident that their struggle will succeed. That land over there is yours, and you’ll go back to it some day, because your fight will prevail, and you’ll have your homes, your mosques, back again, because your cause is right, and god is on your side.

Brzezinski is a former Polish aristocrat who has hated Russia throughout his life (the child of Polish aristocrats, who hated Russia and not only communism), but who hid the hatred from birth, for as long as the Soviet Union existed and he could pretend that the only bone he had to pick with the U.S.S.R. was ideological — communism — not ethnicity, not Russians per se, not like the people who are being bombed in today’s Ukraine, people who are not communists but just Russian-speakers in the easternmost region of Ukraine, and the war against whom is financed today by U.S. and European taxpayers because Western aristocrats can arrange for their respective nation’s publics to pay for these aristocrats’ wars-of-conquest against supposedly inferior peoples. So: he has basically been, throughout his life, an undercover warrior against Russians. However, this became clear only when the U.S.S.R. dissolved and broke up and so the ideological  explanation for his hostility was gone. All that was left was: against Russia.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the founder of the progressive Democratic Party, had a very different motivation for creating the U.S.-Saudi alliance. Today’s Republican and Democratic Parties are alien to FDR’s entire pprogram.

Back at the very end of World War II, Roosevelt met with the Saudi King and sealed the Saudi-U.S. alliance, in order to supply Saudi oil in return for U.S. protection of the Sauds against their own people and against any outside power. This was not originally an anti-Russian alliance at all. However, it was anti-communist, and it was even anti-imperialist because both Churchill and Stalin were imperialists, so the U.S. needed this energy-security for its own future, not as part of an alliance against any nation. Indeed, the war was now all but over, and FDR was already planning for a post-war world in which there would be no more big-power war but instead the end of all empires. The Republican Party, as the Party of Big Oil (“Drill, baby, drill!!” in 2008), was especially delighted to have this alliance. However, after Reagan, in this anti-FDR period we’re in, even the Democratic Party is now imperialist. This is the real reason why extending NATO missile-bases up to Russia’s very borders dominates U.S. foreign policy today.

Think of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the way the U.S. felt in 1962 about having missiles in only one nearby country. Russia is being surrounded by them. How much longer will Russia be patient with the return of aggressive U.S. imperialism? Did Obama’s coup in Ukraine in 2014 cross the line?

Obama now is telling Russian President Vladimir Putin, with each one of those weapons-drops into ISIS territory: We’re moving forward against you, no matter what

He’s telling him: Eliminating you is more important to us than eliminating ISIS.

He’s telling him, by his actions (not merely words, which from Obama are always to the contrary): Either resign from office, or we’ll do what we need to do in order to get rid of you.

He’s betting the planet, not merely the house. That’s his message to Putin.

Meanwhile far-right ‘news’ media criticize Obama for not being sufficiently anti-Russian.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.


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  • kimyo

    FDR was already planning for a post-war world in which there would be no more big-power war

    you continue to fail to respond to this quote: The American and British Governments Knew – Down to the Day – of the Coming Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor

    It has also recently been discovered that the FDR administration took numerous affirmative steps to ensure that the Japanese attack would be successful. These steps included taking extraordinary measures to hide information from the commanders in Hawaii about the location of Japanese war ships (information of which they would normally be informed), denying their requests to allow them to scout for Japanese ships, and other actions to blind the commanders in Hawaii so that the attacks would succeed.

    refute it, or stop with the ‘post-war’ nonsense. if fdr was so happy for the war to be over, why did he start it in the first place?

    fdr, allowing the bombing of american troops, leading to ww2 == bush/cheney, preventing norad from shooting down hijacked jets, leading to the iraq war.

    how is that different? how is fdr not worth every bit of the despite you show for bush/cheney?

    • cettel

      Your comment isn’t relevant to my article. My article refers to FDR in 1945, regarding his postwar vision. You refer to his pre-War action, which was action to get us into WWII fast enough to be able to prevent Hitler from taking over the world. Apparently, you wish that Hitler had succeeded. FDR definitely did not want Hitler to succeed. You are pro-Nazi; he was anti-Nazi; that is the issue you have with him.

      • kimyo

        what, did i accidentally wander into the high school debate club? if i fail to see the inherent beauty and logic of your argument then obviously i must be a nazi?

        childish and sophomoric.

        • cettel

          If you are happy that Hitler was stopped, then why are you unhappy that Japan invaded Pearl Harbor? Do you know that if the U.S. had entered WW II later than we did, Hitler would probably have won WW II? Pearl Harbor was a great loss, but we were able to recover from it and win, for the entire world’s ultimate benefit. Losing WW II would have been enormously worse than losing Pearl Harbor, and this world today would be unimaginably different, and even far worse than it is, if Hitler had won.

          Or are you simply ignorant that American public opinion prior to Pearl Harbor was strongly against our entering WW II? Is that what motivates your comment?

          • kimyo

            before assigning me an agenda, and presenting me as if i’d have been happy to bare-handedly kill the jews myself, please consider answering this question:
            if the attack on pearl harbor had not sufficed to sway public opinion, what course of action should fdr have taken?

            mainly, i’m trying to say, is there a limit? would the next step be for fdr to allow an enemy attack on u.s. soil, killing thousands of civilians rather than soldiers? and what if that had not worked? is there a limit?

  • Jo

    The Saudi Mercan IOU I$I$ terror backed petroscrip toilet paper “reserve currency” dollah is being flushed out of the global “economy” and the Ponzi Wall St crapper of central planning shaman banksters in the Potemkin Village of rigged market “capitalism” is about to blow the sewer in the mother of all toxic derivative tsunamis that will lay Merca waste.

    “Russia has less than $700 million in debt, the US has over $18 trillion; Russian debt is about 15% of GDP, the US runs at over 100% of GDP; Russia runs a budget surplus, the US runs a burgeoning deficit; Russia has gold to back it currency, the US now only has the military to back its fiat and increasingly widely shunned “dollar;” Russia has the largest natural resources in the world, the US has depleted or ruined most of its natural resources. With which of these two countries does the rest of the world want to conduct business?”

    Michael Noonan

    What would you do if you were Mr Putin? Prime, plunge and flush vigorously dumping all that worthle$$ T Bond filth (in exchange for gold, of course) and wait for the US sewer to drown the nation of “entitled” deadbeats on handouts with the inevitable wave of foodstamp dollahs heading home to Slumville. If Mr O Bomber really needs to blow up the planet to save the toilet paper economy of the Empire of Chaos then get on with it. But do these madmen really imagine they will be immune from the ensuing global destruction?

  • Southernfink

    They’re dropping the supplies to the enemy and bombing the wrong targets again.

    It’s just that the neocons backers would love to gain control over Russia’s state owned assets before attempting doing the same to China.

    Both Russia & China are no angels but they go round the world bombing invading under trumped up charges – but they do take the matter of guarding over their sovereignty very seriously – something that cannot be said for the US and who is many many trillions into debt.

    The US is simply collecting the sovereignty of all the nations that it conquers, just look how healthy their economies were before being targeted by the USSA

    Obama simply makes the announcement from a prepared script.

  • “He’s betting the planet, not merely the house. That’s his message to Putin.”

    There is reportage born of “sleuthing”(ferreting out counter narratives and filling the void left by the powerful propaganda tool of omission and white washing of complexities) and adherence to the adage: “question authority!” And here, “cettel” is doing a yeoman’s job, on this account, with regards to the US’s hegemon’s bumbling activities in the oligarchic borderlands between Russia and NATO, and to a lesser degree: Russia and Syria.

    The interconnectedness of these two theaters of chaos, aggravated by neoconservative policies permeating Obama’s neoliberal administration, is unassailable. The US’s veiled attack on EU’s economic, 21st century geo-political, ultra-capitalist power relations interests, as an existential danger to US hegemony, however, gets “lost in translation.”

    His “message” to Putin is a spent lovers’ last drip drop in the face of China’s; the BRICS; and left veering Global Souths’ growing rejection of western “leftist liberals'” pimped, neo-colonialist values.

    The US’s neoliberal/con establishment objective, using Kissinger’s through Brzezinski’s madness as a unifying field has been reduced to preventing the natural geo political-economic marriage of the EU, Russia as bridge to Asia, and Asia, from becoming a new hegemonic reality.

    This new ballistic missiles bristling reality – however more responsive to populist demands of greater economic fairness – is still mired in capitalism. A throwback to the forced upon FDR, by socialist/unionized/populist political forces model of national, public interest deferring ,welfare-capitalism, to be sure, but still…little more than history repeating on global scale.

    Everything the US’s, bipartisan political establishment seems to be doing is attempting to forestall the EU from effectively challenging US’s(Anglo) global econo-political hegemony by joining the Eurasian Union.

    The EU Parliament – bought – and the US political system – sold out – represent anti democratic forces resisting little more than an easing of full-out western vulture capitalist assault on the global working class public.

    FDR saved American capitalism from it’s own excesses. Putin appears to have shoed himself into the role of a 21st century FDR on global scale; saint George out to ding the dragon…

    Either way, sooner or not, the global working-class of indentured debt slaves is going to get royally screwed…

    Globally, Putin represents the “lesser evil” fighting absolute “shock doctrine” hooked, transnational, corporatist, evil. The left’s support for this unsuspecting respite should be measuredly welcomed; guarded, and used to create a third, populist rail against top down global capitalism driven authoritarianism.

    • MC

      Authoritarianism is what got us into this mess. Question it or dont expect any substantive improvement in the future.

  • unheilig

    Excellent work as always Eric, thank you.

    Anyone interested in a capsule briefing of US strategy since WWII might wish to check out James Petras’ latest essay at http://petras.lahaine.org/

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  • william hyres

    It’s called divide and conquer. This is an age old strategy that works. Use the enemy of your enemy to your advantage. What do we care if ISIS turns on Russia and makes their lives more difficult. Russia hasn’t been a good ally or friend of the US lately, so that’s the way the cookie crumbles.