But the chaos that followed Gaddafi's death was not so funny, contributing to the killing of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other American diplomatic personnel in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, and to the spreading of terrorism and violence across northern Africa. By July 2014, the U.S. and other Western nations had abandoned their embassies in Tripoli as all political order broke down.
In Syria, which had long been near the top of the neocon/Israeli hit list for "regime change," U.S., Western and Sunni support for another "moderate opposition" led to a civil war. Soon, what "moderates" there were blended into the ranks of Islamic extremists, either the Nusra Front, the al-Qaeda affiliate, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or simply the Islamic State, which evolved from Zarqawi's Al-Qaeda in Iraq, continuing Zarqawi's hyper-brutality even after his death.
Though the mainstream U.S. media blamed almost everything on Syrian President Assad, many Syrians recognized that the Sunni extremists who emerged as the power behind the opposition were a grave threat to other Syrian religious groups, including the Shiites, Alawites and Christians -- and that Assad's authoritarian but secular regime represented their best hope for survival. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Syrian Rebels Embrace al-Qaeda."]
But instead of looking for a realistic political solution, the neocons and the liberal interventionists insisted on a U.S. military intervention, either covertly by arming the opposition or overtly by mounting a Libyan-style bombing campaign to destroy Assad's armed forces and open the gates of Damascus to the rebels. Under pressure from the likes of Ambassador Power and Secretary of State Clinton, Obama bowed to the demand to ship weapons to the rebels, although the CIA later discovered that many U.S. weapons ended up in extremist hands.
Still, with Obama dragging his feet on a larger-scale commitment, the neocon/liberal-interventionist coalition saw a great chance to push Obama into a bombing campaign after a Sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013. The war hawks and the U.S. media immediately blamed Assad despite doubts among some U.S. intelligence analysts who suspected a provocation by the rebels.
Those doubts and Obama's fear of an extremist victory led him to call off the planned bombing at the last minute, and he accepted a deal brokered by Russian President Vladimir Putin to arrange for Assad to surrender all Syria's chemical weapons, while Assad continued to deny any role in the Sarin attack. The neocons and liberal interventionists were furious at both Obama and Putin.
Alarmed about this "realist" Obama-Putin collaboration, the "anti-realists" turned to demonizing the Russian president and driving a wedge between him and Obama. The place to splinter that relationship turned out to be Ukraine, where neocon Assistant Secretary of State Nuland was perfectly positioned to push for the ouster of elected pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych.
As Nuland noted in one speech, the U.S. government had invested $5 billion in the "European aspirations" of the western Ukrainians, including funding for political activists, journalists and various business groups. The time to collect on that investment came in February 2014 when violent demonstrations in Kiev, with well-organized neo-Nazi militias supplying the muscle, drove Yanukovych from power. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Neocons' Ukraine-Syria-Iran Gambit."]
The Ukraine coup played out along another historic fault line, between European-oriented western Ukraine, where Adolf Hitler's SS had gained significant support during World War II, and eastern Ukraine with its ethnic Russian population and close business ties to Russia.
After the U.S. State Department rushed to embrace the coup regime as "legitimate" and as the U.S. media dished out anti-Yanukvych propaganda, such as citing a sauna in his home, Obama tagged along, falling into the neocon trap, again. U.S.-Russian relations spiraled into a hostility not seen since the Cold War. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Obama's True Foreign Policy Weakness."]
Yet, while the neocons and their liberal allies had "won" again, what did that winning mean for the people of Ukraine? Their country, already teetering on the status of failed state, slid into deeper economic chaos and civil war. With neo-Nazis and other extremists appointed to key national security positions, the new regime began lashing out at ethnic Russians who were resisting Yanukovych's ouster.
Crimea voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, a move that Western governments denounced as an illegal "annexation" and the major U.S. media termed an "invasion," although the Russian troops involved were already stationed in Crimea under an agreement to maintain the Russian naval base at Sevastopol.
Ukraine's eastern provinces also sought secession, prompting military clashes that inflicted some of the worst bloodshed seen on the European continent in decades. Thousands died and millions fled.
Of course, the standard line in the U.S. media was that it was all Putin's fault, even as the Kiev regime shelled eastern cities and unleashed brutal neo-Nazi militias to engage in street fighting, the first time storm troopers emblazoned with Nazi insignias had been deployed in Europe since World War II. Yet, buoyed by how easily the anti-Putin propaganda had prevailed, some neocons even began fantasizing about "regime change" in Moscow.
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