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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/31/16

When Putin Bailed Out Obama

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More likely, Obama was brought up short when, a few days before Aug. 30, 2013, he was paid a visit by James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence. According to Goldberg's account, Clapper interrupted the President's morning intelligence briefing "to make clear that the intelligence on Syria's use of sarin gas, while robust, was not a 'slam dunk.'

"He chose the term carefully. Clapper, the chief of an intelligence community traumatized by its failures in the run-up to the Iraq War, was not going to overpromise, in the manner of the onetime CIA director George Tenet, who famously guaranteed George W. Bush a 'slam dunk'" regarding all those non-existent WMD in Iraq.

Or, who knows? We should allow for the chance that the President was told the truth by someone else in his entourage.

Pay-Back for Putin

For his part, Russian President Putin had the gall to think that Moscow's help on Syria might bring a more cooperative spirit in Washington and a chance to cultivate healthy bilateral relations based on mutual interest and respect. He even suggested that Washington might consider abandoning the notion that the U.S. is more equal, so to speak, than other nations.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, flanked by Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, flanked by Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria 'Toria' Nuland, addresses Russian President Vladimir Putin in a meeting room at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, at the outset of a bilate
(Image by [State Department Photo])
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Perhaps a bit deluded in the immediate afterglow of having helped Obama steer away from an unnecessary war in Syria, Putin published a highly unusual op-ed in the New York Times on Sept. 11, 2013. Putin reportedly drafted the final paragraph himself. It is worth citing in full:

"My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States' policy is 'what makes America different. It's what makes us exceptional.' It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal."

So, if you are still wondering why the neocons and their complicit mainstream media have made Putin into the devil incarnate, think about his sin of pulling Obama's chestnuts out of the fire in September 2013 when war with Syria was so tantalizingly close. The neocons would make Putin pay for that by moving into high gear plans for a coup d'etat in Ukraine six months later (Feb. 22, 2014), as Putin's attention was focused on the Winter Olympics in Sochi and the fear that it would be disrupted by a terrorist attack.

In more than a half century watching U.S. presidential administrations develop foreign policy, I have not seen a more bizarre sequence of events.

[I provide more detail on the play-by-play during the fall 2013 imbroglio on Syria in a 30-minute video.]

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Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). His (more...)
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