In three and a half decades, the United States has come full circle in terms of its publicly stated strategy overseas. From the late 1970s when the U.S. armed the Mujihadeen “rebels” to draw in and fight the Soviets in Afghanistan to 2016 when the U.S. has given Syrian “rebels” (aka moderate terrorists) TOW missiles to shoot down Russian aircraft over Syria, the U.S. and Russia are engaged in a proxy war – at least this time entirely at the impetus of the U.S. and its allies – where the people of a target nation pay the ultimate price.
Recently, a Russian MI-8 helicopter was shot down over Syria in the Idlib region. The helicopter and its crew were on a humanitarian mission even according to the pro-terrorist Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Although Western outlets and “think tanks” are attempting to claim that the helicopter was on a combat mission, no one outside of NATO countries believes this and the evidence produced by these pro-war analysts is scant to say the least.
Regardless, it was a U.S. missile that brought down the helicopter, a TOW missile that was provided to the terrorists by the U.S. itself. As the Japan Times wrote,
Two Russian airmen killed in Syria on Friday were shot down with American weaponry, the Interfax news agency said Sunday, quoting a Russian military source.
It said insurgents from the Islamic State group hit the airmen’s Mi-25 assault helicopter with a U.S.-made TOW heavy anti-tank missile, a weapon that uses guidance from a ground station.
These TOW missiles were supposed to be provided only to “moderate terrorists” who had been vetted by the U.S. State Department and kept out of the hands of extremists. However, as I and the New York Times have reported since the very beginning of the crisis that there never was anything resembling a moderate fighting in Syria. Indeed, the vetting process has revealed that the United States has not only armed but given TOW missiles to groups that are as bad if not worse than ISIS itself. For instance, the terrorist group Nour al-Din al-Zanghi (Zenki) that recently beheaded a child on camera was actually considered a “moderate vetted” group.
John McCain, however, is presumably pleased at the fact that his dream of the ’80s is being repeated. Remember, it was McCain who told FOX News that, “I might do what we did in Afghanistan many years ago, to give those guys the ability to shoot down those planes. That equipment is available” When asked who he meant to give the missiles to, he said, “The Free Syrian Army, just like the Afghans shot down the Russian…”
McCain, of course, has long been a vocal supporter of terrorism in Syria, Libya, and beyond. He has supported virtually every war to cross his path during his tenure as Senator and has actively covered up and stonewalled evidence that pointed to the possibility that American prisoners of war were still in Vietnam long after the war was over.
Nevertheless, the United States finds itself now publicly admitting to funding terrorists and terrorism as well as attempting to represent these terrorists as freedom fighters. The major difference this time around is twofold: First, the alternative media has provided a significant roadblock to the impunity with which the U.S. government has acted in Syria by deconstructing and competing with the State Department’s narratives. Second, Russia is no longer an empire in decline. It is a superpower whose presence is rising. This time, it is the United States that is in decline.
For this and a number of other reasons, the United States must abandon foolish policies of empire and the advice of fools like John McCain.