The US helped set fire to Syria. And now that Russia is trying to put out that fire, Washington is accusing them of not fighting the fire in the right way, says retired CIA and State Department official, Larry Johnson. The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has called for Russia and Syria to be investigated for alleged war crimes in Aleppo.This statement comes as Russia has welcomed the suggestion of the UN Special Envoy for Syria to let Al-Nusra militants leave the war-ravaged town of Aleppo as a way of assisting the civilians there.
Washington has threatened to impose “costs” on Russia over the Syrian conflict.
It’s the starkest warning so far from the US, which has been ramping up the rhetoric against Russia in recent weeks, moving from criticism to thinly veiled threats.
RT: First it was an end to cooperation with Russia, then it was the mention of so called costs. Now it’s diplomatic sanctions and talk of a war crimes investigation. Is Kerry serious here or is it merely a continued ramping up of the rhetoric? What can this rhetoric lead to?
Larry Johnson: I am hoping he is not serious. Unfortunately, this heated rhetoric out of Kerry is buttressed by some Republicans as well. There’s almost a collective madness that is taking hold of many Americans. And the irony of all of this is if we are going to apply the same standard they now are trying to impose upon Russia, the US would be before international tribunals facing off accusations of war crimes for at least 30-40 years. You can start the litany with Vietnam and move forward. This is really a very unwise move and frankly I find it frightening.
RT: The US is calling for a war crimes investigation on Russia and Syria over the alleged killing of civilians. But, for example, in July this year, there was an attack in Manbij that killed 28 people and the US admitted it was bombing in this area. Where is the independent investigation into that?
LJ: The other thing that has been going here is that the US is akin to an arsonist. We helped set fire to Syria. And now that Russia and others are trying to put out that fire, we are accusing them of not fighting the fire in the right way. We started the fire, the US along with the UK, Saudis and Turks. The money that was being funneled to opposition groups for the expressed purpose of trying to provoke a war with Bashar Al-Assad. And then there has been disconcerted propaganda after what we’ve seen underway. The most recent aspect of it was this documentary film called ‘White Helmets’, which is a propaganda effort designed to shape opinion in the West and to build sentiment for some sort of military intervention in Syria. And all this comes against the backdrop that the US, whether it wants to admit it or not, has been helping to fund radical jihadists in Syria. That has to stop. The US is blind to several things, such as the fact that we depend upon Russia to be able to get back and forth from the space station. It is really childish and immature kind of policy – the chest-thumping – we’ve seen coming out of John Kerry’s mouth. Frankly, it just reflects a lack of leadership at the top, from Barack Obama on down.
‘Kerry is posturing and pandering to the domestic and foreign audience’
Former counter-terrorism officer Charles Shoebridge thinks that “Kerry is hedging his bets as to the (…) diplomatic and indeed the military situation on the ground in Syria; the direction of travel of those processes.”
“We’ve seen again and again where Kerry grandstands, he tends to go onto a soapbox and speak in a very bellicose, counterproductive and threatening way. Then behind the scenes he seems to be able to come to an accommodation with Lavrov and others, even if then subsequently America is unable to deliver on those undertakings he has signed into. For example, the recent Geneva agreements regarding separation of the so-called moderates from the more extremist fighters that Russia and indeed America committed to attacking”, Shoebridge said.
In his opinion, it may well be that “some degree of posturing is going on.”
“Kerry is pandering to the domestic and foreign audience that, in its diverse ways, makes up the elements of the US foreign policy – the different lobby groups. He has to think about the Saudis, the Israelis, the Qataris as well as all the different lobbying pressure groups at home, And of course, that’s in an election year. So, therefore one has to take some of his points with a pinch of salt. But nonetheless it is still has the effect of ramping up the psychological pressures on all parties because he paints himself into a corner. And that’s particularly when America is hardly one to lecture on war crimes.
At the moment, [the US] supplies arms freely to Israel, to Saudi Arabia, to other countries that are committing war crimes, and certainly in Saudi Arabia’s case which is committing war crimes on a daily basis in Yemen. So he opens himself and America up to criticism on that angle”, he told RT.