On October 14th, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the U.S. government had turned down the proposal from Russia’s President Vladimir Putin for the U.S. and Russia to cooperate together to eliminate ISIS and other jihadists in Syria and in Iraq. Lavrov said:
We’ve made Americans the proposal announced by President Vladimir Putin yesterday. We suggested that they send a [US] military delegation to Moscow to coordinate a number of joint steps, and after that we could have sent to Washington a top-level delegation led by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, [but]… It is sad that our American colleagues in this case in fact do not side with those who fight against terrorism.
Then, on Tuesday October 20th, as CBS News online reported the following day, “The U.S. has told Iraq’s leaders they must choose between ongoing American support in the battle against militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and asking the Russians to intervene instead. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday that the Iraqis had promised they would not request any Russian airstrikes or support for the fight against ISIS.”
However, Iraq already had done precisely that — and had even said that Russia seemed more committed to defeating ISIS than America is. As I summed up on October 10th:
Wednesday, October 7th, Reuters headlined, “Iraq Leans Toward Russia in War on Islamic State,” and reported, from Baghdad, that, “Iraq … wants Moscow to have a bigger role than the United States in the war against the militant group, the head of parliament’s defense and security committee said on Wednesday.”
Earlier, in an interview in English, with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, telecast on October 2nd, France24 TV asked him how he would view an extension of Russia’s anti-ISIS bombing campaign into Iraq, and he said (7:54), “I would welcome it.”
So, at some time between October 7th and October 20th, the U.S. convinced Iraq’s leaders to, in essence, dis-invite the Russians, instead of to ally with them against ISIS in Iraq.
Two alternative explanations are possible. Either the U.S. had promised the Iraqis that the U.S. will now really get serious about defeating ISIS in Iraq, or else the U.S. had promised the Iraqis that Iraq would be punished — at the IMF or elsewhere — if Iraq followed through on their announced intention to replace the U.S. with Russia. (Or, of course, the U.S. could have done both — the carrot, and the stick.)
In either case (or both), the U.S. has made clear, to the Iraqis, that America will do anything to defeat Russia — even abandon the fight against ISIS in Iraq, if need be — and that the U.S. will absolutely not ally with Russia against ISIS, under any circumstances.
This makes abundantly clear, to the whole world, that the current American government considers its main enemy to be not jihadists, but Russians.
However, already, U.S. President Barack Obama had made this clear when, in his National Security Strategy 2015, he named Russia on 17 of the 18 occasions in which he charged “aggression.” The 18th instance was not Saudi Arabia, the main funder of jihadists, but instead North Korea, which poses little real threat to any U.S. ally except South Korea, and none at all to the United States. (And, of course, the U.S. President didn’t cite the U.S., which in a 2013 WIN/Gallup International poll was overwhelmingly named the most throughout the world as “the country that represents the greatest threat to peace in the world today.”)
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.