hillary clinton
© Jacquelyn Martin / Reuters
As the clock ticks down to the US presidential election in November, it also ticks down on an opportunity to end the five-year war in Syria which has cost over 300,000 lives and displaced half of Syria's population. As the Syrian Army and its allies completed the encirclement of Aleppo, opening up humanitarian corridors in partnership with Russia to afford civilians and "rebels" โ€” provided they laid down their arms โ€” the opportunity to leave safely and be provided with humanitarian assistance, we could be forgiven for believing we can see the end of this abhorrent war on the horizon. However in recent days, the Jaysh al-Fateh coalition, heavily featuring the rebranded and very well equipped Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, led counter attacks which breached the siege lines, although they have failed to as yet open up secure routes for new supplies, fighters and weapons, as well as to launch further counter attacks.

Meanwhile, the polls fluctuate on who is the favourite between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to become the next US president, and we can't yet confidently predict who will be the Commander in Chief presiding over the Syrian conflict and therefore what policy changes may occur. The wild fluctuations see Clinton ahead by a massive 15 points, 48 to 33 percent, according to a McClatchy-Marist poll, yet less than 48 hours later a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll has Clinton holding a narrow 42-39 percent lead. Clinton's infatuation with war causes huge consternation, not least over what she may bring to the table on the war in Syria.

One thing is clear: Clinton is the favourite, and we should all prepare for what awaits us with Clinton as the leader of the "free world." Clinton has a readymade band of neocon war hawks waiting in the wings, not hard to find in a US political establishment dominated by neocons with a thirst for war and conquest. This cabal jockeying for position in her prospective administration does not bode well for the Syrian conflict, or for relations with Russia. Let's examine some of the candidates and their boastful record of war mongering and Russophobia.

General Phillip Breedlove

Breedlove terror
First off we have the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. Breedlove tried his darndest to escalate the war in Ukraine and to supply Kiev with heavy weapons in their fight against Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass. In a claim which shocked the Germans, Breedlove asserted that Russia had "well over a thousand combat vehicles, Russian combat forces, some of their most sophisticated air defense, battalions of artillery" sent to the Donbass.

To his shame as an unrepentant warmonger, Breedlove too has been caught in the snare of an email hack. Among the revelations: Breedlove recruited the services of top military and political figures to try to influence an escalation of the war in Ukraine at the very time the Minsk 2 agreements were made, and to provide lethal weaponry to Kiev, including an "under the table" deal with Pakistan which never eventuated.

Breedlove has been known to wax lyrical on Russia, accusing it of weaponising refugees in order to destabilise Europe and thus NATO, calling Russia the number one existential threat to the US, and accusing it of seeking rebirth as a superpower and imposing a sphere of influence, most notably in the Baltics and Eastern Europe. He is one of the architects of the fourfold increase in defence spending in Europe, purportedly to reassure Poland and the Baltic states against Russian "aggression," by bolstering military capability, but in reality it is hyped paranoia to grease the palms of the military/industrial complex.

Breedlove penned an article in the July-August issue of Foreign Affairs that may be angled at securing the Secretary of Defence post under Queen Hillary. However, he may have competition from Michele Flournoy, another dyed-in-the-wool neocon.

Michele Flournoy

michele flournoy
© AFPDeath-Eater and carnage lover Michele Flournoy.
Neocon in waiting for the post of Secretary of Defence under Hillary Clinton, Flournoy is advocating essentially all-out war in Syria. But Flournoy's idea of a no-bombing zone renders redundant the pretence of military escalation in the fight against ISIS. In reality, she wants to impose a no-fly zone to protect the US-backed "moderate rebels" and punish Damascus with air strikes on key security and military installations if it dares to resist the US proxies.

According to Flournoy, this strategy is aimed at a more effective campaign to crush ISIS. The warped logic of crushing Assad to enable Al-Nusra and its allies to crush ISIS will first, simply not work, and second, it will create Libya 2.0. It actually has a ring of dรฉjร  vu about it, with Hillary the architect of the Libya disaster and her potential Defence Secretary appointee looking to be the architect of a prospective Syrian disaster.

There is just one little thing Flournoy and her gaggle of neocons seem to be forgetting: a country called Russia. In Libya, Russia tacitly allowed the no-fly zone resolution to be passed by abstaining in the UN and then watched as their fears about the level of engagement escalated to an overthrow of the Gadaffi government, complete with the televised brutal murder of the desperately fleeing leader. Syria will not be a repeat. Russia, on invitation of the legitimate government, is determined to stay the course, avoid the decimation of Syria and assist in the resolution of the conflict through an end to hostilities and a definitive process of political reforms, including elections in the future.

The other glaring weakness in the unique (il)logic of Flournoy is that if the US is seeking a reliable, powerful partner in crushing ISIS, it needs look no further than Russia. From the outset of Russia's entry into Syria, it has reached out to the US in a spirit of cooperation. Vladimir Putin and Sergey Lavrov have repeatedly reached out to form a partnership in a true coalition to fight international terrorism. The US has fobbed off these attempts, arrogantly belittling Russia in its principled, legal intervention in aid of the besieged Syrian people. Lavrov and John Kerry have had some constructive dialog and even seemed to reach some tentative agreements, only for Kerry to do backflips soon after, re-establishing the distance between the parties. Kerry felt the wrath of the neocons infesting the US political and military establishment when displaying something approaching normal diplomatic relations with Lavrov and has quickly backtracked. Kerry is unfortunately drowned out by dyed-in-the-wool neocons who clearly think they are still dealing with a Yeltsin-era Russia fading into irrelevance, and who subscribe to the theory that diplomacy is forcing demands on those you have just bombed the hell out of. Flournoy will seek to re-establish the rules of the game of American exceptionalism and sweeping away all resistance in its path.

Victoria Nuland

Next in the quintet of destruction we have Victoria "Cookies" Nuland, of "Yats is the guy" and "Fuck the EU" infamy. Nuland was the central figure in the violent overthrow of the legitimate Yanukovych government in Ukraine, described by the former head of Stratfor as the most blatant coup ever.

victoria nuland
Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders.
Nuland and other officials displayed breathtaking arrogance and contempt for the Kiev authorities by strutting around the Maidan, handing out cookies and inciting the protestors against their government. This overt display of agitating for regime change was the culmination of behind-the-scenes covert work, involving an outlay of $5 billion according to Nuland. The US had embarked on a long-term project to take over Ukraine and subjugate it as another European vassal. The EU agreement, ascension to the EU and NATO membership, complete with the promise of expelling Russia from Sevastopol, seemed a foregone conclusion until Yanukovych, cautioned by his advisors that the EU agreement would cost the country $160 billion, announced the deal needed to be reconsidered. Furious at this, Nuland, with John McCain and Geoffrey Pyatt in tow, went on her Maidan escapade. Ukraine has been suffering from the crass US interference ever since.

Nuland glossed over the plethora of right-wing neo-Nazi militias which lit up Ukraine during and after the overthrow in Maidan. The slaughter of civilians and police at Maidan didn't ruffle her feathers, nor did the rampage of the likes of Right Sector, Azov and Aydar Battalions, targeting all they saw as traitors or not sufficiently nationalist. This has been more than worth the price in order to hand Ukraine over to the IMF and its austerity recipe of social spending cuts and plummeting standards of living.

Those frustrated at the DNC leaks scandal being flipped to become a story of Russian hacking to help Donald Trump win the election need only look back to the "Fuck the EU" episode to see how stories are suppressed and replaced with misleading or false stories. How did the groupthinkistan media react to shocking revelations of Nuland hand-picking politicians for a sovereign government when one already existed? The story became, oops, Victoria said a naughty word. The embarrassment โ€” fleeting, let's not dwell on it and get back to business โ€” of Nuland became the story, quickly replaced by new events for the media to fabricate and distort. Again, reminiscent of the DNC leaks, more attention was paid to claims that Russia hacked the phone conversation.

Nuland is in her element in information warfare, so would feel right at home in the position of Secretary of State. She complains of "huge money" being spent on Russian propaganda at media outlets such as RT, while championing even bigger spending on anti-Russia propaganda funnelled through the Broadcasting Board of Governors to outlets such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Russian-language news organisations in the Baltics and Ukraine. She has no reservation about admitting the US runs "training programs" for Russian journalists in Europe who then go back to Russia and put this "training" into practice. Forgive me, but is this not an admittance of subversion? We can only imagine the uproar if Russia participated in such efforts aimed at destabilising the US.

Nuland, like Breedlove, accused Russia of being responsible for a dramatic surge in refugees after it intervened in the Syrian war at the request of the legitimate government of Bashar al-Assad. She shamelessly accuses Russia of being complicit in Assad's so-called slaughter of his own people, of paying little attention to humanitarian concerns, not bombing ISIS, instead focusing on the infamous "moderate rebels," and of targeting civilians and hospitals. Can such bellicosity be toned down to engage in constructive dialogue with Russia, or will she be encouraged by the cacophony of anti-Russia hysteria to bully and threaten and embrace an extremely dangerous escalation aimed at the unflinching desire to oust Assad?

Leon Panetta

Clinton Panetta
© US Defense Dept.Defense Secretary Leon Panetta with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at NATO conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 4
Leon Panetta is a veteran in the political establishment, occupying the posts of Secretary of Defense and Director of the CIA between 2009 and 2013. A quiet retirement for a man already responsible for more than his share of death and destruction? Perhaps he can be coaxed out of any retirement plans with the post of National Security Advisor, rounding out a treble of top military/intelligence positions.

For Panetta, just like the others in the Clinton cabal, it is all bomb, bomb, bomb. In a July 17 interview with CBS News Panetta repeats the prescription of Flournoy in bombing Syrian forces, imposing no-bomb zones and sending in more special forces. "I think the likelihood is that the next president is gonna have to consider adding additional special forces on the ground," Panetta said, "to try to assist those moderate forces that are taking on ISIS and that are taking on Assad's forces." Panetta continued by calling for airstrikes to "put increasing pressure on ISIS but also on Assad."

Panetta is being disingenuous in presenting Special Forces as "taking on Assad's forces", when he knows full well that they are primarily involved with Kurdish YPG and Kurdish-led SDF forces in battling ISIS. The conflation continues with his call for airstrikes on Syrian forces, a new and perilous policy.

Panetta is acting in an advisory capacity for the Clinton campaign. His ties to the Clinton family go way back to 1994 when he served as Bill Clinton's Chief of Staff. His hawkish views will endear him to Clinton in any future administration. Indeed they are birds of a feather. His yearning for the eternal reign of the empire of chaos is reflected in his belief the US should have maintained a combat presence in Iraq beyond 2011, that weapons and training should have been provided to "moderates" earlier in Syria, and being in the thick of the action when Libya was bombed from being a nation of relative prosperity to a cesspit of violence, terrorism and chaos.

Panetta was virtually booed off the stage when he spoke at the Democratic National Convention, whining on like so many others about Russia hacking the DNC and that this proved it is backing Trump for President. People in the audience chanted "no more war." Disturbingly, and a sign that the Democrats have become a rabble of neocons and liberal interventionists, other people in the audience countered them by chanting "USA, USA."

The stage is exit left, Mr. Panetta. Please make your way off and don't come back.

A Late Burst for Michael Morrell?

We may have a late breaker for a spot in Clinton's cabal in the shape of Michael Morell, former Deputy Director of the CIA. On CBS This Morning, he told Charlie Rose he wanted to kill Russians and Iranians in Syria; to "pay a price" as he cryptically put it:
Former CIA deputy director Michael Morell, who supports Hillary Clinton and insists that Donald Trump is being manipulated by Russian President Vladimir Putin, said that Russians and Iranians in Syria should be killed covertly to "pay the price."

The ex-CIA chief, who worked with Clinton while she was secretary of state, told CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose that Iran and Russia should "pay a big price" in Syria - and by that he meant killing them.

"When we were in Iraq, the Iranians were giving weapons to the Shia militia who were killing American soldiers," Morell said. "The Iranians were making us pay a price. We need to make the Iranians pay a price in Syria, we need to make the Russians pay a price," he continued.

When asked if that meant killing Russians and Iranians, Morell fully agreed, qualifying the answer with "covertly."
It appears the neocons are trying to outdo each other in bombastic statements about Russia. The visceral hatred in Morrell's remarks is unmistakeable. Predictably, they have elicited little reaction in the mainstream media. Uttering a single sentence that sounds remotely friendly to Russia will attract their attention like bees to honey, smearing their chosen targets with abandon. The comments of Morell are truly beyond the pale, which segues quite nicely into the war goddess herself, Hillary Clinton.

War Goddess Hillary Clinton

Queen Hillary never saw a war she didn't like. Her biggest war โ€” with Russia โ€” may lie ahead of her, laying the groundwork for this unwinnable war back in 2010 when she was privy to secret war plans of NATO to attack Russia's western flank.

Clinton has never looked back from this propensity for war, disgracing herself when comparing Vladimir Putin, the leader of one of the most powerful countries on earth, to Adolf Hitler. By this stage the much touted "reset" with Russia was well and truly buried.

Clinton stood proud with other war hawks and liberal interventionists in supporting the Iraq war, which came on the heels of genocidal sanctions. She showed the same conviction on the war in Afghanistan, another country torn apart by US interventionism. Her macabre "we came, we saw, he died" on the execution of Muammar Gadaffi elevated her to the position of goddess of war, though 'demon of war' is probably more suiting. Libya is now a country hurled from prosperity into despair, thanks to the destructive ways of NATO.

On the domestic front, Clinton and her strategists seem to be banking on turning a negative โ€” the DNC hack โ€” into a positive by tarring opponents with the Putin-poodle Kremlin agent's tags. With Russia being blamed for all conceivable ills one could imagine, the Clinton campaign and her backers in media-land have come up with a standard formula: he or she who criticises Clinton or attempts to explore the DNC leaks shall post haste be labelled a Kremlin stooge.

Clinton has conflated Trump and Putin and their supposed "bromance," a story gaining great traction among groupthinkistan media-land. Recently on Fox News Sunday, she said: "We know that Russian intelligence services hacked into the DNC and we know that they arranged for a lot of those emails to be released, and we know that Donald Trump has shown a very troubling willingness to back up Putin, to support Putin." More outlandish statements as she slanders Russia, leading the US into a Cold War 2 quagmire.

The hysteria and irrational accusations have become McCarthyite in their dimensions. The indulgent fantasies would be laughed at as the lunacy of conspiracy nuts if not for the fact we are talking about the overwhelming majority of the US political/media establishment. By engaging in these outrageous and scurrilous accusations, Clinton and her fellow Democrats are burying the story of the DNC leaks, the story which should be front and centre of the media's attention and which fully exposes the corruption, cheating, and contempt for democracy in elite US political circles.

On Syria, Clinton can't be accused of being feckless like Obama. In 2012 she reportedly proposed a covert program to arm and train Syrian rebel groups to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

Clinton is aggressive in words that will translate into action. Her foreign policy advisor, Jeremy Bash, tells The Telegraph that the Assad regime is murderous, abuses citizens' human rights and has used chemical weapons on them. Another close ally, Jamie Rubin, says Clinton will not feel as "constrained" as Obama. Read this as intent on accomplishing regime change, even if this means a never-ending war and huge potential for direct military conflict with Russia. The Clinton platform calls for a no-fly zone in Syria. The favourite for Secretary of Defense, Michele Flournoy, would not be making statements about no-fly and no-bomb zones without the tacit approval of Clinton.

In the now undeniable new Cold War, the language of diplomacy toward Russia will be, under Clinton, even more the language of submission. "Confront don't cooperate, threaten don't talk," will be the mantra. There is a stark contrast in the language of Putin, ever patient, conciliatory and looking for compromise with the US, compared to that of Clinton towards Russia and Putin. What hope is there of any dรฉtente, of any cooperation on matters of security, terrorism, the environment? The term "reset" with Russia will be the definition of impossible.

At the 2014 Valdai Conference, Putin said that President Barack Obama considers Russia a threat, but he doesn't consider the US a threat. By the time of the St. Petersburg International Forum in 2016, Putin has come to consider NATO, and therefore the US, as a threat, as it continues its aggressive military build-up on Russia's borders.

This should be a sobering thought to all - what promises to be the apocalyptic vision of a future Clinton presidency. It is easy to understand and support the slogan "anyone but Hillary."