By Mike Whitney and cross-posted from Counterpunch.org
“Last Wednesday, at a Deputies Committee meeting at the White House, officials from the State Department, the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff discussed limited military strikes against the (Assad) regime … One proposed way to get around the White House’s long-standing objection to striking the Assad regime without a U.N. Security Council resolution would be to carry out the strikes covertly and without public acknowledgment.”
– Washington Post
Call it stealth warfare, call it poking the bear, call it whatever you’d like. The fact is, the Syrian war has entered a new and more dangerous phase increasing the chances of a catastrophic confrontation between the US and Russia.
This new chapter of the conflict is the brainchild of Pentagon warlord, Ash Carter, whose attack on a Syrian outpost at Deir Ezzor killed 62 Syrian regulars putting a swift end to the fragile ceasefire agreement. Carter and his generals opposed the Kerry-Lavrov ceasefire deal because it would have required “military and intelligence cooperation with the Russians”. In other words, the US would have had to get the greenlight from Moscow for its bombing targets which would have undermined its ability to assist its jihadist fighters on the ground. That was a real deal-breaker for the Pentagon. But bombing Deir Ezzor fixed all that. It got the Pentagon out of the jam it was in, it torpedoed the ceasefire, and it allowed Carter to launch his own private shooting match without presidential authorization. Mission accomplished.
So what sort of escalation does Carter have in mind, after all, most analysts assume that a direct confrontation between the United States and Russia will lead to a nuclear war. Is he really willing to take that risk?
Heck no, but not everyone agrees that more violence will lead to a nuclear exchange. Carter, for example, seems to think that he can raise the stakes considerably without any real danger, which is why he intends to conduct a low-intensity, stealth war on mainly Syrian assets that will force Putin to increase Russia’s military commitment. The larger Russia’s military commitment, the greater probability of a quagmire, which is the primary objective of Plan C, aka–Plan Carter…