War is Hot, Not Cold: A perspective on the new cold war between the US and Russia
I began writing my latest political thriller, “Russian Holiday,” on a trip to Russia, during the most bizarre election campaign in history between two of the most unpopular candidates ever to win the nomination of a major political party in the United States. At first, I thought I could make a choice between the two; select the lesser of the two evils; but then the propaganda wheels for the military industrial complex started spinning stories about Russia preparing for nuclear war. It soon became clear to me that “We came, we saw, he died.” Hilary Clinton’s Russia bashing was a prelude to the workup of a new cold war to justify billions in government contracts for arming Europe and possibly the Ukraine. This essay is not to be interpreted as slanted “liberal” or “conservative.” I am just noting what I observed.
After World War II, the United States economy had to shift from a wartime to peacetime economy. However, that left the defense industry, which had been the driving force behind the wartime economy, out to dry. They needed an enemy. Thus, the “cold war” was begun with the Communists as the enemy. Fast forward to the 21st Century. No more Soviet Union, no more Communist threat. Vacillating Donald Trump at first declared NATO obsolete, but then tried to tweet himself out of it. But Trump was not the first one to declare NATO obsolete. Putin himself declared in 2014 that NATO was part of the old “bloc” system and had outlived itself.
The real-life setting of this novel in civil war-torn Syria is a perfect example of how “Spy vs. Spy” can be a very dangerous game. In 2016, the United States Treasury opened a terrorism finance inquiry into a large number of brand new Toyota trucks being used by ISIS. The U.S. State Department and the British government had both provided the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA), a loose group of rebels who had expressed a desire to topple the al-Assad government, with the trucks, which were now being used by Islamic terrorists.
In 2016, in the northern province of Aleppo, different groups fighting the Syrian civil war are vying for the same territory, among them the Free Syrian Army, the U.S.-armed Kurdish YPG, and ISIS. Free Syrian Army officials have cited a “deepening divide” between themselves and the Kurds, with the Kurds stating they could probably eliminate the FSA in a war. Many other groups fighting in the area include the Martyrs of Syria Brigade, the Northern Storm Brigade, an Islamist FSA unit, the Islamic Front, which welcomes jihadist fighters, and the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front. These are not “moderate” rebels and the United States claims. They are not “friendly” to the United States or its interests. They are mercenaries, and, in some cases, terrorists. According to Putin, the very arming of these groups by the US is giving ISIS an economic advantage.
U.S. Special Forces Officer Jack Murphy reported in September 2016 that the U.S. policy of aiding Syrian rebels had the Special Forces training and arming Syrian anti-ISIS forces, while the CIA was maintaining a parallel program to arm anti-Assad insurgents. Murphy reported that distinguishing between former al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army (supported by the CIA) was impossible, and that, as early as 2013, FSA commanders were defecting to al-Nusra, while still retaining the FSA moniker to maintain access to CIA-provided weaponry. He also reported among the rebels that U.S. Special Forces and Turkish Special Forces were training, at least 95% of them were either working in terrorist organizations or supporting them. This would lead credence to Russia’s contentions that the Syrian rebels are no more than terrorists themselves.
Witnesses describe Syrian rebels in Aleppo, including the FSA, al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and Nour el din Zinki, as terrorists themselves. In July 2015, Syrian rebels blew up the western gate of the UNESCO protected heritage site, the Citadel of Aleppo with underground explosives. The U.S.-backed rebels, who are now fighting the Russians in Syria, have blown up the Carlton Hotel and the Palace of Justice in the same manner. Aleppo itself is almost completely destroyed.
So, it seems not only is the choice of who to support a mess, as it usually has been with interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the United States and Russia are fighting a proxy war against each other. There are so many factions fighting for their own individual objectives in the Syrian civil war it is difficult to sort them all out. What is sure, however, is that Russians were the only ones invited by the legitimate Syrian government.
I don’t condone or support genocide or terrorism. However, I don’t think regime change is the proper paradigm to follow. Even conservatives like Ted Cruz recognize the fact that putting Saddam Hussein and Muamar Gaddafi out of power has destabilized the region and led to an increase in terrorism. Call Vladimir Putin a dictator if you may, but his idea of stabilizing the war and then calling for free, monitored elections seems saner to me than arming and training different factions of rebel groups and then having to fight the same groups you have armed with American lives.
 Clinton’s comments (on the air) upon hearing of Muamar Gaddafi’s brutal torture and murder.
 Jacobson, Louis, Donald Trump mischaracterizes NATO change and his role in it, Politifact, August 16, 2016
 Weiss, Michael, when Donald Trump was more anti-NATO than Vladimir Putin, The Daily Beast, November 4, 2016
 Cartalucci, Tony, The Mystery of ISIS’ Toyota Army Solved, New Eastern Outlook, 2016
 Mishgea, Syrian Madness: US Backed Rebels Fight US Special Forces, June 25, 2016, Mishtalk
 Crooke, Alistair, U.S. Special Forces Officer: How the CIA armed and trained jihadists for war in Syria, Consortium News, September 29, 2016
 Bartlett, Eva, The Villages in Aleppo Ravaged by America’s “Moderate” Rebels, Global Research, September 29, 2016
 Sputnik, Militants detonated a tunnel under the western gate of the citadel, July 7, 2015, Sputnik International
 Lamb, Christina, The Australian, Rebels resisting Russian backed troops in Syria
 CBS News, Reality Check, Ted Cruz right that Middle East was better off with Hussein and Gaddafi.