Eric Draitser appears on Radio Sputnik (August 11, 2015) to provide his comments about Syria, Turkey, ISIS/ISIL and more. He explains that ISIS serves as a convenient pretext for the continuation of the regime change agenda in Syria, and that the US, Turkey and their allies have been instrumental in nurturing the terror organization since 2012. Draitser notes that Turkey is pursuing its own regional hegemonic agenda, and the creation of “buffer zones” in Syria is merely part of Ankara’s strategy for expanding its influence through war against both Damascus and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). He adds that a resolution to the conflict will only come once Saudi Arabia and Turkey recognize that Syria will not be militarily defeated, and that Assad will be part of any peaceful political solution. Until such time, Draitser argues, the war will continue.
The nature of the war in Afghanistan has shifted dramatically in recent months. While the US and NATO continue to be actively involved in the country – their strategic objectives having changed very little since the Bush administration launched the war nearly a decade and a half ago – the complexion of the battlefield, and the parties actively engaged in the war, has changed significantly.
The emergence of ISIS in Afghanistan, along with the impending withdrawal of US-NATO troops from the country, has driven the Taliban into a marriage of convenience, if not an outright alliance, with Iran. What seemed like an unfathomable scenario just a few years ago, Shia Iran’s support for the hardline Sunni Taliban has become a reality due to the changing circumstances of the war. Though it may be hard to believe, such an alliance is now a critical element of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan. But its significance is far larger than just shifting the balance of power within the country.
Instead, Afghanistan is now in many ways a proxy conflict between the US and its western and Gulf allies on the one hand, and Iran and certain non-western countries, most notably China, on the other. If the contours of the conflict might not be immediately apparent, that is only because the western media, and all the alleged brainiacs of the corporate think tanks, have failed to present the conflict in its true context. The narrative of Afghanistan, to the extent that it’s discussed at all, continues to be about terrorism and stability, nation-building and “support.” But this is a fundamental misunderstanding and mischaracterization of the current war, and the agenda driving it.
And what is this new and dangerous agenda? It is about no less than the future of Afghanistan and Central Asia. It is about the US and its allies clinging to the country, a key foothold in the region, and wanting to find any pretext to maintain their presence. It is about Iran and China positioning themselves in the country for the inevitable moment of US withdrawal and the opening up of Afghanistan’s economy. At the most basic level, it is about access and influence. And, as usual in this part of the world, terrorism and extremism are the most potent weapons.
It is late July 2015, and the media is abuzz with the news that Turkey will allow US jets to use its bases to bomb Islamic State (ISIS) targets in Syria. There is much talk about how this development is a “game-changer,” and how this is a clear escalation of the much ballyhooed, but more fictional than real, US war on ISIS: the terror organization that US intelligence welcomed as a positive development in 2012 in their continued attempts to instigate regime change against the Syrian government led by Bashar al-Assad.
The western public is told that “This is a significant shift…It’s a big deal,” as a US military official told the Wall Street Journal. What the corporate media fail to mention, however, is the fact that Turkey has been, and continues to be, a central actor in the war in Syria and, consequently, in the development and maintenance of ISIS. So, while Washington waxes poetic about stepping up the fight against the terror group, and lauds the participation of its allies in Ankara, the barely concealed fact is that Turkey is merely further entrenching itself in a war that it has fomented.
Of equal importance is the simple fact that a “war on ISIS” is merely a pretext for Turkey’s military engagement in Syria and throughout the region. Not only does Turkey’s neo-Ottoman revanchist President Erdogan want to flex his military muscles in order to further the regime change agenda in Syria, he also is using recent tragic events as political and diplomatic cover for waging a new aggressive war against the region’s Kurds, especially Turkey’s longtime foe the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK).
In this way, Turkey’s recent moves should be seen as merely a new phase of its engagement in the regional war that it has helped foment. Contrary to western corporate media talking points, Turkey has not just recently become actively engaged in the conflict; Ankara has merely shifted its strategy and its tactics, moving from covert engagement to overt participation.
But what is often missed in such analysis is exactly how Trump is different from the field, and from the Republican Party establishment. Certainly Trump’s bombastic style of speaking, and apparent willingness to give voice to the more reactionary social consciousness deeply embedded in the Republican grassroots, is not the usual fare, even for the often ridiculous caricatures in the Republican field (think Jindal, Cruz and Perry). Indeed, it is Trump’s brashness and disregard for “political correctness” and “acceptability” that is one of his great allures for millions of Americans on the right.
But this is merely style; it is not the substance of what makes Trump different. For that, one must examine critically the money interests that Trump and his competitors represent.
Follow the money
A serious analysis of Trump’s candidacy requires an understanding of the forces which are, at least in appearance, arrayed against him. It has recently come out that the immensely powerful Koch Brothers network is “freezing out” Trump from its vast array of electioneering tools, including voter data, high profile “grassroots summits” and more. Although Trump is personal friends with David Koch, it seems that the Republican kingmaker is not exactly enamored with the prospect of The Donald as standard-bearer for the Republican Party in 2016. But, personal friendship and electability aside, the real reason for this move is that Koch and Trump represent very different moneyed interests.
It may not dominate international headlines as Greece has, but Puerto Rico is facing a strikingly similar crisis, one which threatens to tear apart the very fabric of its society. With a crushing debt burden poised to collapse the US commonwealth, many alleged experts have warned that only through painful “reforms” (read austerity) can the island territory make any economic progress. But at what price is this “progress” to be attained?
The question of ultimate responsibility is, just as with Greece, multifaceted. On the one hand, years of mismanagement have taken their toll on the economy, leading in part to the current crisis. On the other hand, Puerto Rico has been the victim of a predatory capitalist campaign waged by major Wall Street banks, as well as hedge funds and private speculators, who have become heavily overleveraged in Puerto Rican debt through reckless bond purchases while Wall Street has fattened itself playing the role of middleman.
But the crisis in Puerto Rico also raises a deeper political question that for years has lurked just beneath the surface of the US territory, namely Puerto Rico’s true status: dependent US commonwealth or neocolonial possession? While Greece has been a member of the European Union, thereby at the very least giving it the illusion of democratic representation, Puerto Rico has remained little more than a colonial possession – an economic and political vassal of the Empire, subject to its rules and at the mercy of its lenders, while having no political representation or legal recourse. In short, Puerto Rico’s crisis demonstrates unequivocally that the small island commonwealth, and its 3.5 million inhabitants, are little more than neocolonial subjects.