U.S. Prepares War Against Russia in Syrian Battlefield

Eric Zuesse

On Tuesday November 3rd, U.S. Defense Department spokesperson Laura Seal told The Daily Beast that twelve F-15C air-to-air combat planes are being sent to the Incirlik Turkey Air Base for deployment in Syria against Russia’s Su-30 air-to-air combat planes. Neither the F-15C nor the Su-30 can destroy ground-targets, only air-targets — enemy planes.

In other words: U.S. President Barack Obama is telling Russian President Vladimir Putin that unless Putin is willing to go to war against the United States, he must stop what he’s now doing in Syria. Obama is saying this in the only language whose meaning cannot be denied or misinterpreted: sending in counter-force to specifically what Russia has already sent into Syria.

If it were not the case that both the F-15C and the Su-30 are equipped only for air-to-air-combat, then the meaning of Obama’s move here wouldn’t be so clear and unambiguous. Ms. Seal made her point even clearer by volunteering to tell The Daily Beast’s reporter David Axe, “I didn’t say it wasn’t about Russia.” Axe then commented in his article, that this statement of hers “hinted at its [the deployment’s] true purpose.” But one would need to be a fool in order to deny it. The only real question here is why Obama has made this decision, which is quite likely to be fateful. So: that’s the subject: Why did he do this?

On 11 October 2015, CBS’s “60 Minutes” aired a segment, “Steve Kroft questions President Obama on topics including Russia’s incursion in Syria”,  and the U.S. President was challenged there by Mr. Kroft regarding whether he’s “weak” on the Syria matter: 

Steve Kroft: A year ago when we did this interview, there was some saber-rattling between the United States and Russia on the Ukrainian border. Now it’s also going on in Syria. You said a year ago that the United States — America leads. We’re the indispensible nation. Mr. Putin seems to be challenging that leadership.

President Barack Obama: In what way? Let — let’s think about this — let — let — 

Steve Kroft: Well, he’s moved troops into Syria, for one. He’s got people on the ground. Two, the Russians are conducting military operations in the Middle East for the first time since World War II —

President Barack Obama: So that’s — 

Steve Kroft: — bombing the people — that we are supporting.

President Barack Obama: So that’s leading, Steve? Let me ask you this question. When I came into office, Ukraine was governed by a corrupt ruler who was a stooge of Mr. Putin. Syria was Russia’s only ally in the region. And today, rather than being able to count on their support and maintain the base they had in Syria, which they’ve had for a long time, Mr. Putin now is devoting his own troops, his own military, just to barely hold together by a thread his sole ally. And in Ukraine — 

Steve Kroft: He’s challenging your leadership, Mr. President. He’s challenging your leadership — 

President Barack Obama: Well Steve, I got to tell you, if you think that running your economy into the ground and having to send troops in in order to prop up your only ally is leadership, then we’ve got a different definition of leadership. My definition of leadership would be leading on climate change, an international accord that potentially we’ll get in Paris. My definition of leadership is mobilizing the entire world community to make sure that Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon. And with respect to the Middle East, we’ve got a 60-country coalition that isn’t suddenly lining up around Russia’s strategy. To the contrary, they are arguing that, in fact, that strategy will not work.

Steve Kroft: My point is — was not that he was leading, my point is that he was challenging your leadership. And he has very much involved himself in the situation. Can you imagine anything happening in Syria of any significance at all without the Russians now being involved in it and having a part of it?

President Barack Obama: But that was true before. Keep in mind that for the last five years, the Russians have provided arms, provided financing, as have the Iranians, as has Hezbollah.

Steve Kroft: But they haven’t been bombing and they haven’t had troops on the ground — 

President Barack Obama: And the fact that they had to do this is not an indication of strength, it’s an indication that their strategy did not work.

Steve Kroft: You don’t think — 

President Barack Obama: You don’t think that Mr. Putin would’ve preferred having Mr. Assad be able to solve this problem without him having to send a bunch of pilots and money that they don’t have?

Steve Kroft: Did you know he was going to do all this when you met with him in New York?

President Barack Obama: Well, we had seen — we had pretty good intelligence. We watch — 

Steve Kroft: So you knew he was planning to do it.

President Barack Obama: We knew that he was planning to provide the military assistance that Assad was needing because they were nervous about a potential imminent collapse of the regime.

Steve Kroft: You say he’s doing this out of weakness. There is a perception in the Middle East among our adversaries, certainly and even among some of our allies that the United States is in retreat, that we pulled our troops out of Iraq and ISIS has moved in and taken over much of that territory. The situation in Afghanistan is very precarious and the Taliban is on the march again. And ISIS controls a large part of Syria.

President Barack Obama: I think it’s fair to say, Steve, that if — 

Steve Kroft: It’s — they — let me just finish the thought. They say your — 

President Barack Obama: You’re — 

Steve Kroft: — they say you’re projecting a weakness, not a strength–

President Barack Obama: — you’re saying “they,” but you’re not citing too many folks. But here — 

Steve Kroft: No, I’ll cite — I’ll cite if you want me, too.

President Barack Obama: — here — yes. Here — 

Steve Kroft: I’d say the Saudis. I’d say the Israelis. I’d say a lot of our friends in the Middle East. I’d say everybody in the Republican party. Well, you want me to keep going?

President Barack Obama: Yeah. The — the — if you are — if you’re citing the Republican party, I think it’s fair to say that there is nothing I’ve done right over the last seven and a half years.

Apparently, the U.S. President is taking this matter so much to heart, he’s now willing to start World War III over it, so as to prove that he’s not “weak.”

The Cold War was never this hot except at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. But in that particular instance, the U.S. faced a potential Soviet nuclear attack upon the United States, by Soviet missiles being placed near the U.S. in Cuba. This time around, it’s starting very differently: there is no danger that Russia is posing to the United States. Indeed, Putin had repeatedly requested the U.S.’s cooperation with the war against jihadists in Syria, but Obama has repeatedly refused.

Now, Obama is going farther than merely refusing to cooperate: he’s ordering Putin to stop. Obama is doing this by his action, demanding that Putin allow Sunni jihadists to take control in Syria, a nation that under Assad has a secular non-sectarian government, most of whose chief officials are Shiites (though the Prime Minister, Wael Nader al-Halqi, is Sunni), and where the Constitution is entirely non-religious and keeps a wall of separation between church-and-state (the only one like that in the entire Middle East) — which all of the opposition-organizations that are warring against it oppose, because they’re all jihadist Sunni organizations.

Obama is, in effect, now telling Putin that the United States is willing to go to war against Russia in order to be able to eliminate Syria’s non-jihadist government — a government that was founded not only as anti-jihadist but as entirely non-religious. He’s saying this in the clearest language possible, but Putin could simply ignore it. What then will be the response when American and Russian fighter-pilots fire at each other in a Syrian sky, and one of them gets killed in the process, and his plane goes down, perhaps in flames? Will the loser (either Obama or Putin) of that battle, simply quit World War III immediately after it started, before it goes nuclear? Or, will he not? And, if not, then what will his response be? And when would that mutual test of “strength” end — and how would it end?

This could get interesting. It might even get catastrophic.


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.

This entry was posted in Business / Economics, Energy / Environment, General, Media, Politics / World News, propaganda, Science / Technology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • Jack


    The Su-27PU had 8 hardpoints for its weapon load, whereas the Su-30MK’s combat load is mounted on 12 hardpoints: 2 wingtip AAM launch rails, 3 pylons under each wing, 1 pylon under each engine nacelle, and 2 pylons in tandem in the “arch” between the engines. All versions can carry up to 8 tonnes of external stores.

    Guns: 1× GSh-30-1 gun (30 mm calibre, 150 rounds)

    AAMs: 6× R-27ER (AA-10C), 2× R-27ET (AA-10D), 6× R-73E (AA-11), 6× R-77 RVV-AE (AA-12)

    ASMs: 6× Kh-31P/A anti-radar/ship missiles, 6× Kh-29T/L laser guided missiles, 2× Kh-59ME

    Aerial bombs: 6× KAB 500KR, 3× KAB-1500KR, 8× FAB-500T, 28× OFAB-250-270, Nuclear bombs

    • Brockland A.T.

      Weren’t there only four of them? Hardly a threat to the existing force at Incirlik, let alone twelve additional F-15s.

      Plus, four F-22s are already at Incilik. NATO already has overwhelming air superiority.

      All Obama is doing is wasting cash trying to draw Russia into a spending match. Its doubtful that Russia will bite and send in more SU 30s. More ground attack craft, maybe, but Russian air superiority is unnecessary and unacheivable under the present scenario.

      • cettel

        I would like to see documentation behind that conclusion. But the way it is stated is not convincing.

        • Brockland A.T.

          Oh. Sorry. Well, the documentation would be all over the place and I haven’t taken the time to cross reference everything.

          USAF aircraft types in Turkey:

          6 F-16s (Type unknown; this is important).


          F-22s – I was apparently mistaken, and can no longer locate the original source claiming four F-22s at Incirlik.

          However, 6 are stationed at Al Dhafra in the UAE, within range of Syria, and was the only official overseas posting of the F-22 until the recent posting in Germany; likely I got confused as to which went where going off memory.



          So much data is almost incidental. Zero Hedge, for example, is often reliable and has cited F-22s in Turkey. Its perhaps not impossible for Al Dhafra F-22s to visit Incirlik or other Turkish bases.


          “The F-15s the U.S. Air Force is sending to Turkey will be the first American warplanes in the region that are strictly aerial fighters. The other fighters, attack planes and bombers the Pentagon has deployed—including F-22s, F-16s, A-10s and B-1s—carry bombs and air-to-ground missiles and have focused on striking militants on the ground.”

          Standard F-22s and F-16s are multirole; they can do basic air superiority – that is, fight other aircraft – and ground attack. However, the F-16 and F-22 Raptor in particular, are first and foremost air superiority platforms. According to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, the F-22 wasn’t used in Afghanistan because of the risk of AA fire; the cost of stealth is a less robust airplane.


          Turkish air power is obvious. When I say NATO has overwhelming air superiority, I mean they have OVERWHELMING air superiority relative to the Russian intervention force and remnant Syrian Arab Air Force.

          U.S. unit presence in Turkey is a political statement more than military, since should the U.S. decide to formally enter into war, they’re de-facto taking NATO with them.

          The Turks alone could easily back U.S. seaborne assets (while those surface ships last) in a first wave strike. U.S. reinforcements from Europe could pour in to finish Assad’s Syria.

          Or finish the DAESH who would finish the Assad government, which is far less likely since there is so much fun to be had with the Pentagon/CIA/DAESH enjoying Syrian territory under its control.


          Russian fixed wing Russian assets in Syria, is composed of 12 Su-24M2s, 12 Su-25SMs and Su-25 UBMs, four Su-30SMs, and six Su-34s. The bulk of these aircraft are ground attack aircraft. There are also an unspecified number of MI 24 Hinds.

          The ground attack forces are Soviet-era airframes updated with post-modern avionics. These are operated, maintained and guarded by some 4000 Russian troops.



          This is a tiny expeditionary force, whose expense the Russians claim will be covered by the existing training budget. Which is ridiculous, but then, it is a small force and Russia has lots of surplus ammo, also already paid off. Its not expendable only in the political sense; in a military sense, its chump change.

          Reading between the lines of some of the critics of the Russian campaign, we can see that the disproportional effect is due to round-the-clock strikes and constant maintenance of the aircraft. A significant demonstration of logistical competence.

          One-third of the force generally, could be expected to be down no matter
          what. For example, of the 4000 troops, 1/3 would be off-duty resting
          and sleeping. 1/3 of all strike aircraft down for maintenance while 2/3 are in flight or re-arming-refueling, is not unsurprising.


          Russia has also had years to study DAESH, which never thought it would face a real air war, and has accurate ground intel from the SAA itself. So we have a surprisingly effective air intervention against an opponent with no air force. … though not for lack of trying.


          The SU-30s AS aircraft can only be there for show, not dough. There are far more efficient aircraft, from drones to lesser AS aircraft that can do recon and cover ground attack craft. Every possible real air force in the region can take on four measly SU 30s, if they are willing to pay the price in lost aircraft.

          And the price would be high. The real money lies in Syria’s Russian-augmented, overwhelming air defense superiority. This is separate from air superiority. In fact, coupled with Syria’s Russian-augmented anti-ship missile defense, Syria presents a full spectrum A2/AD (Anti-Access, Area Denial) target. A2/AD requires extensive SEAD (Supression of Enemy Air Defenses) assets.


          The Russian intervention is perfectly balanced to be effective yet able to evacuate in a hurry. In a real superpower war, there would be no time to evacuate, of course. The Russian Allied and NATO navies would crush one another, and there would be no air corridor back to Russia for this expeditionary force. In the now far less likely event of a DAESH victory, this force could also quietly leave the way it came.


          Modern air forces rely on advanced radar to defeat enemy aircraft and ships, based on the ground but also integrated with sea and space-borne assets. Its not at all like the movies, where plane-based radar and mark-1 eyeballs do all the sighting for a little WVR mixup.

          Therefore a serious U.S./NATO preparation for real war in Syria, would mean deploying a large contingent of F-16CJ/DJ. Many more than the 6 presently in place at Incirlik, which are likely not CJ/DJ block. Turkey does not claim to have F-16CJ/DJ variants.

          Since there is no serious preparation in place to storm Syrian A2/AD – the so-called rebels were supposed to take care of that – then the addition of more American AS aircraft is meaningless cash splash. The Russians have little incentive to do so. The air intervention was clever, but there is no Russian ground intervention as was feared.

          The next American move is apparently to somehow illegally insert troops in Syria as human shields protecting their rebel assets without being considered fair game as invading troops.

          Russia might be circumspect; Syria on the other hand, would not be above oopsee-ing a barrel bomb in the general direction of DAESH, on Syrian territory, thought to have American embeds. Or, more than likely, the SAA will have to rescue captured American embeds from a DAESH force that decided to give them to the IS, like they do all their best American materiale.


          The presence of four SU-30s in Syria is so superfluous to the mission and tactically limited, it may just be an attempt to answer the earlier American F-22 deployment to Europe; a four-four tradeoff. Concluding that the U.S. F-15Cs are there to top that, and incite a costly game of one-upmanship, is a common-sense extrapolation, but not one Russia is obliged or positioned to play.


          More ground attack forces might be needed to replace or augment overworked existing units, as the DAESH are repeating what they did at Kobane when the Americans reminded them who really was Calif.

          The DAESH surged, trying to bluff everyone into believing the airstrikes were ineffectual on troops fighting in the open. They surged for a very long time before realizing Kobane was strategically unimportant. The race to Raqqa is different; its existential.

          There are many avenues to draw the same conclusion, but the ones that matter will be based around how war can really be fought. Hubris-based strategies, such as jet fighter-wanking, will consistently fail provided they are recognized as hubris and placed against a more accurate interpretation of reality.





  • SausageAway

    Fairly obvious that the US is upping the stakes and trying to start another war. All this for its failed and illegal regime change?

  • mulga mumblebrain

    Obama is just the ‘House Negro’ as Malcolm X would have called him. The decisions are made by the neo-cons ie the Zionists who dominate Obama’s regime. Netanyahoo’s increasing madness might be a sign that the entire power elite from which he sprung have gone raving mad. I’d bet that the Russian plane bombing was a Western Special Forces job, direct or controlling jihadist butchers, and the increasing certainty of US and UK assertions seem more like heavy hinting that they know EXACTLY what happened. I wouldn’t go making to many long-term plans.

  • d

    American planes not invited into Syrian air space is an act of war…and will be dealt with by advanced surface to air missiles….and Obama will be brought before the Hague for HIS war crimes…….imho

  • War Is A Racket

    So this is just all about a pissing match between Putin and Obama? What about the nations involved and the people in them? How is peace in the region achieved by two leaders of superpowers hosing down the decks with testosterone, Steve Kroft? How primitive and immature. In any war, the first casualty is common sense, and the second is free and open discussion. We say that we care about the war, but we don’t even really know what we’re fighting for. The tragedy of modern war is that the young men die fighting each other–instead of their real enemies back home in the capitals. Washington does not deserve recognition for being in Syria, Russia does. America is there illegally, not by permission from the host country or the UN security council.

    • Brockland A.T.

      No, its all about global banksters profiteering off what appears to be MacKinderan geopolitics.

      Halford MacKinder was an English imperialist who more or less founded the study of modern geopolitics with his paper, “The Geographical Pivot of History’ (1904). MacKinder was a shameless imperialist; militarism was the only solution to him, and we likely owe much of our new fascist world order to MacKinder’s scientific militarism.

      MacKinder observed that geography determined the fate of empires, and as far as he was concerned the Anglo empires didn’t have enough. He based this idea on the observation that empires had ‘heartlands’ favourable to agriculture and commerce; the larger the better.

      North America is a geopolitical pivot of global imperial power that encompasses the Great Plains, using MacKinderan definitions for a geographical heartland. The original heartland Halford Mackinder was referring to was a similar but far larger Eurasian central plain, the ‘World Heartland’. The U.S. inherited Britian’s responsibility to lead the competition for the rest of the world’s real estate, for what we now sometimes refer to as the ‘Anglosphere’.


      Globalist neoconservatives have hijacked the NA heartland to wage war against the ‘World Heartland’, since according to MacKinderan doctrine its not enough to control a major heartland. To control the World Heartland – Eurasia – was the key to true world empire.

      According to MacKinder’s Heartland Theory, since the Eurasian Heartland is the globe’s largest geographical pivot, Eurasia-Africa must never be allowed to unite to form an indigenous global uber economic zone, capable of rendering the Anglo-American led remainder of the world irrelevant.


      Everything, from the loss of our civil rights and liberties to the deep state to wars in central Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and potentially in Asia, and antihumanitarian trade agreements like the TPP, appear based on MacKinder’s casis belli, which isn’t even a real casis belli in a traditional sense, but a theory of empire. To gain world domination for Anglo-Imperialism, prevent the rise of an independent, united Eurasia where unable to hijack its natural inevitability.

      Whether the Anglosphere wins or loses, the banksters can’t lose. Its only a matter of who gets sucked dry first, collapses, and has to start over. Its not looking good for the West, and Eurasia has already had a turn at collapse-startover.

    • Vishwas Patil

      Wars are always personal. Leaders decide your fate. Soldiers just follow orders. Look at Syria. Lebanon, Libya, Iraq .. Millions died, raped, became homeless. Oabama, Saudi King and Erdegon’s personal agenda. Where do we, the people, come in the picture?

  • Dennis Savage

    U.S. Defence secretary must have several dicks if he thinks he can take out Russia with what a battle weary army after years of fighting. Get real stop talking thru the other end of his body. He should know nukes don’t work only air strikes and hand to hand fighting or maybe no one told him.