L’on peut me réduire à vivre sans bonheur,
Mais non pas me résoudre à vivre sans honneur.

I can be forced to live without happiness,
But I will never consent to live without honor.

Pierre Corneille

At this moment, the armed wing of the US government is on a march of hypocrisy. The Pentagon brags about training rebel forces in Syria as if this were a great service to the world, while describing the same behavior by the Russians in Ukraine as an unprecedented and heinous crime.

If the rebels in Ukraine are solely the result of Russian training and arms, why are there 40,000 of them after just one year compared to only 60 US-backed rebels after three years of  Congress-approved US training in Syria?

Even more astonishing is the fact that the Russians are obviously better at this than the Americans. The Americans have started a war with Russia on terms that will lead to American defeat. The US performance in the current proxy wars in Syria and Ukraine against Russia is pathetic, and is possibly a thousand times weaker than what the Russians are doing in turn.

One need only look at the statistics. By its own admission, during the course of three years of constant warfare in Syria, the United States has managed to train only sixty men. America’s plan for victory over the Russian-Iranian-blessed Assad government consists of sending thirty men to remove him from power, while the other thirty are pinned down in fighting with the Islamic State – a group that appears to have gained 100,000 elite troops without the Americans training a single one of them.

The United States clings to feeble and ousted groups like the “Free Syrian Army” in Syria while claiming that the far larger and more legitimate Russian-backed rebellion taking place in Ukraine is only surviving through Russian support. It can mean two possible things. Either the Pentagon is simply one thousand times inferior to the Russians when it comes to training insurgents around the world, or the Pentagon is supporting feeble and ousted groups and causes throughout the world while Russia is firmly on the side of stronger factions that have a more legitimate grasp on power.

Either answer leads one to the conclusion that the US cannot win in either of these protracted conflicts, and the reason is either inept US training or inept US planning in the face of a superior and determined adversary. Having only faced the most flimsy of opponents for the last twenty-five years, the return to a Cold War-like confrontation with Russia may have caught the United States by surprise. Suddenly, the so-called superpower is no longer able to channel all its resources into defeating a small Third World country but must instead fight against a comparable power with possibly more resources and even greater competence. All the tools that had made the US able to finger-wag against other countries, as the “only superpower”, have become worthless overnight because of the US’s idiotic plan to confront Russia.

As in the Cold War, strategic bombers and nuclear weapons provide no military edge to the US anymore because the Russians have the same capability. Cruise missiles can no longer be used to threaten Bashar al-Assad because Putin has long since given Assad the very same weapons. Overwhelming air power can no longer be used to threaten to decimate Third World armies because Putin can simply give these crude armies access to his latest air defenses, potentially forcing the United States to rely on ground warfare in future conflicts and sustaining mass casualties again as it did in the first Cold War.

The US is losing in Syria, Ukraine and in other conflict zones now because it is still arrogantly applying the paradigm of fighting an inferior enemy in a fight against a superior enemy rather than reverting to its old Cold War military doctrines. The result is that US planners and trainers will find themselves immediately outnumbered, outgunned, and outclassed in every conflict zone now by Russian planners and trainers because the Americans picked the worst possible moment to make an enemy out of Russia.

Obama’s reckless decision to confront Putin when the US military is so overstretched and exposed around the world and applying the wrong military doctrine will be extremely costly. This is assuming that the Russians can be expected to be sabotaging every American effort in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and possibly even Yemen and redeploying their own trainers and planners around the world to counter the Americans. Unlike the Americans, Russian doctrine has not changed since the Cold War and Russia can be expected hit American interests as hard now as it did in the Cold War.

Sadly for the American people, this is no exaggeration. The desire to oppose Putin today has rendered valueless almost all American strategic actions achieved in cooperation with Russia since the 9/11 attacks. It means all the thousands of lives lost by the United States Army in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last fifteen years were for utterly nothing and everything they won has been undone, gallons of American blood splashed across the sand for nothing but several political outcomes now rendered void in this “new Cold War”.

To clarify on this point, it is clear that US grand plans in Iraq and Afghanistan – which it spent trillions of taxpayer dollars upon – have been wrecked by Russia and Iran as the Iraqi and Afghan governments ultimately plan to be aligned with Russia and Iran and distance themselves from the murderous American occupiers who invaded their homelands, following the final US exit from the region. For the US leadership, there is no consolation. The conflict with Putin guarantees three or four wars lost, thousands of soldiers’ deaths rendered meaningless, and trillions of dollars wasted, even assuming the US manages to force a satisfactory partition of Ukraine that gives it the opportunity to install its new missile bases close to Moscow.

The US knows its Syrian rebel training program is a failure and has been pushed into supporting the anti-NATO Kurdish PYD and PKK militias – and even the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (in Iraq at least) as the only viable non-Assad forces against ISIS. The problem with this foolish strategy to save face is that the PYD, PKK and Iran don’t actually share US goals anymore than ISIS does, so the move serves little purpose other than propaganda to hide the expensive failure of the US leadership to topple Assad after three years of continuing violence and failed predictions coming from Washington.

By supporting his own enemies, the Kurds and the Iranians, as he searches for an exit strategy from his disasters in Iraq and Syria, Obama hopes to dupe the American public into believing that three years of American defeat, dishonor, failure, lies, squander and humiliation in Syria were actually some kind of costly successes. New Cold War or not, Russia has the advantage and a whole host of US-led wars have been thrown into jeopardy by the decision to oppose Putin in Ukraine. Whether or not harming Russian interests in Ukraine was worth the US losing three or more other wars and undermining its security all over the world will be left to historians to decide.

By Harry J. Bentham

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