I have been leery of and critical of Putin's desire to rebuild the old Soviet empire and that still concerns me. But the hyperbolic, anti-Russian rhetoric coming out of the west in the past year has been disconcerting to say the least.
More on this later, but first, be aware this report originated with RT (Russia Today), a state-controlled news media, therefore, a lack of bias cannot be assumed, or even hoped for, but the statements of Lord Truscott are what is important here.
The sole focus of Western foreign policy on regime change in Syria is extremely worrying – not only for Syrians, but beyond – as it feeds arms sales and necessitates a climate of unprecedented Russophobia in order to function, Lord Peter Truscott told RT.
As major parts of Aleppo are liberated, the information war between Russia and the West continues to heat up. “There is an information war going on,” Truscott told RT, adding that “it occurs against the background of a level of Russophobia which I have not seen for many, many years.”
“I have been following Russia and international relations closely for 35 years and I have never witnessed so much Russophobia as I am witnessing today,” Truscott said. “It is not just the accounts of what is happening in Syria but a general attitude towards Russia. I think people just need to calm down. I am hopeful that the new Trump administration will take a more measured position [towards] Russia.”
Truscott sees a number of causes for this, as well as strategic reasons for the West to continue using Russia as pretext for things going wrong in Syria or beyond.
The proxy war in Syria
He sees the current situation in Syria as, firstly, a proxy war in which various regional players fight for different sides and, of course, different strands of Islam. However, it’s also a geopolitical split, where multiple players vie for control, their spheres of influence intersecting.
“What we are witnessing is Syria is a proxy war in effect and various regional players support different sides in this conflict that represents a religious split,” Truscott told RT, adding that “it is also a geopolitical split with the West on one side and largely Russia on the other.”
Ultimately, for Truscott, the reason Syrians – especially those in Aleppo – have it worse than they could is because rebuilding is being sacrificed for alternative aims, such as regime change. This leads to underreporting on both sides, be it the bombing of western Aleppo or the current situation in Yemen – a country the United States has business interests in, as long as it’s dealing with Saudi Arabia.
“It is not just eastern Aleppo, which suffered from bombing and civilians being killed, but also western Aleppo – and that is being underreported. The Western media have been focusing on eastern Aleppo but it is being underreported what is going on in western Aleppo during some of the attacks that take place there,” he said, stressing that “another example of Western coverage is what is happening in Yemen.”
The primary casualties of this are of course civilians, Truscott said. But there is another victim – truth. With multiple business interests at stake – such as the $500 million the US pumped into the rebels, as well as deals with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other Gulf States – regime change can be implemented, and money can be made.
“It is clear that the rebels are being supplied by weapons, munitions, equipment and money quite openly by countries like the US, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and some of the Gulf states. The US made no secret out of the fact that it pumped around $ 500 million in supporting some of the rebels,” Truscott stressed.
“Western foreign policy in Syria that is focused exclusively on regime change and getting rid of Assad has been an absolute disaster,” Truscott added. “You would think that the West would learn from history. It didn’t work very well in Iraq; it was a total disaster in Libya – which contributed to the refugee crisis that Europe is experiencing. And the same thing is going on in Syria.”
Pursuing regime change, Truscott said, “would just create a bigger crisis than [the one] that we are experiencing at the moment.”
‘Easy to fall back on old Cold War enemy rhetoric to justify defense spending’
So what is the reason behind Russia’s role as such a convenient enemy in Syria and the wider region? According to Truscott, it does not merely lie in Moscow’s support for Assad, but continues the old Cold War policy supported by the US military industrial complex due to its perceived low costs.
“The military industrial complex needs an enemy to justify its massive defense spending. It is very convenient for some to pick Russia as an enemy because they do not think there is much cost involved in that,” he told RT.
He also explained that the US sees a rivalry with Russia as a less risky option than a potential conflict with China. “If one picks China as an enemy, it is much more difficult to deal with a population of 1.4 billion people and a rising superpower as well as an economic powerhouse, which the US needs for trade,” Truscott said.
He went on to say that some people in the US military regard tense relations with Russia as a convenient justification for pursuing their old doctrine and pretending that their strategy is still relevant.
Can you spell NATO? It was 25 years ago that people began to question the need for NATO as the walls were coming down and communism was collapsing. Suddenly war broke out in the Balkans! I'm sure it was a coincidence! Really sure! Well, somewhat sure!
Now, as the EU has started talking about forming a military force, NATO is beginning to feel like it might end up in the scrap heap, so it can hardly be a surprise that Cold War rhetoric has returned. It is just a question of in what part of Europe will the war break out.
“It is quite an easy option for a lot of people in the military and security establishment to fall back on Russia as an old Cold War enemy and that is a bit of a comfort zone that gives them existential justification for their existence in their current stance,” Truscott told RT.
At the same time, he stressed that Western politicians must adapt to the rapidly changing reality and acknowledge the existence of new threats that pose a real danger, instead of promoting the old myth of perceived Russian aggression.
“The existential threat to the West is not Russia, it is Islamist fundamentalism,” he said.
And as long as we keep getting out attention deflected toward Russia, we are playing right into the hands of Muslim extremists and fundamentalists.