Ray McGovern, a retired CIA officer turned political activist, discusses the 47th anniversary of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. He also discusses the Iraq War, official liars from Rumsfeld to Kerry, Chelsea Manning’s whistleblowing, Ukraine, Russia, etc.
Hey ya’ll welcome to the show, I’m Scott Horton, this is my show, The Scott Horton Show. Our next guest is our friend Ray McGovern, he used to be a CIA analyst for 27 years, now he is a co-founder of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals For Sanity, and he writes regularly forÂ www.consortiumnews.comÂ – Robert Parry’s site, and also of course atÂ www.raymcgovern.com, you can also follow him on twitter @raymcgovern …
Welcome back to the show how are you?
RM: Thank you Scott, I’m doing well, how about yourself?
SH: I’m doing good, very happy to have you on the show, and I’m very happy that you always write about The Liberty every year, June 8th is the anniversary, the 47th anniversary here, of the Israeli air assault on the USS Liberty, in the Mediterranean Sea which they got away with scott free, to coin a phrase.
So why don’t you tell us the story and why you think it is so important, go right ahead…
RM: Â Well Scott, let me start out with a little quote from Willie Loman, “These things must be remembered” especially this egregious example of the cowardice on the part of our top naval officials in this instance, where they went along with a cover up under which the Israelis who killed 34 seamen, wounded over 170, 47 years ago on June 8th 1967, were let off scott free, to coin a phrase.
There was no reputable investigation, the crew themselves were sworn to secrecy under penalty of court martial, now imagine, you’re attacked in this brutal attack, you come up out of the hole that was made by the torpedo after trying to salvage as many body parts as you could from the 27 people killed there. Then you’re visited by high ranking naval officers in Greece who tell you, “You must not breathe a word about what happened: to your wife, even to your fellow crew members under pain of court martial.
Now that obtained for about 30 years or so, now you want to have a clinical description of what is necessary to cause PTSD, well, there it is. I’ve been friends with some of these crew members for a while, they all went though it (PTSD) and small wonder when you can’t even discuss what happened with your own crew mates. Now they can, now they’re a little bit older, as old as me some of them, and every year they congregate here in Washington to commemorate the anniversary, June 8th, yesterday was no exception down at the navy memorial. We met there, we reminisced, we had a ceremony where we read out the names of the 34 who were killed and we stayed in wonderment that top naval officials and our captivated mass media still won’t tell the truth about that attack and the truth involves two main aspects.
One, that it was deliberate and there is no question about that. We have intercepts which indicate that the Israelis told their pilots and their PT boat commanders to shoot at the American ship the USS Liberty even though it was fully identified as an American ship. So that it was deliberate is not in doubt. That it was covered up, that too is not in doubt. I’ll give you a small example for that.
A naval communications specialist, then in Morocco at a relay station and listened in on the conversation between Secretary of Defense McNamara at the time and Admiral Geiss who was head of the 6h fleet. Now Admiral Geiss had gotten an SOS from the Liberty, and we can talk a little bit more about that-how that happened-and he learned that one of the ships in his fleet was under attack.
First reaction, send off the fighter bombers from USS Saratoga, the USS America, to do battle with whoever it is that’s attacking this ship under Geiss’s command.
Halfway there, Geiss gets this call from Secretary McNamara in Washington- how do we know that? Once again, this naval official in Morocco was listening in – and this is how the conversation went:
“You must recall those fighter bombers immediately, have them make a U-turn back to the ship”, …
SH: Â Wait, so you’re telling me say quote those are the exact words of secretary McNamara?
RM: I’m saying that, let me just, I’m saying that this is how it came out from this transcript which is, the name of the Chief Petty Officer in Morocco is Tony Hart, and he monitored the conversations from US navy communications relay station in Morocco and when McNamara said have those war planes returned immediately to their carriers, this is what Geiss shot back:
“One of my ships is under attack”
Response from McNamara, quote:
“President Johnson is not going to go to war or embarrass an American ally over a few sailors.Â
Now Geiss, I suppose, because he, well he obeyed the order and they were taken back to the, the planes went back to the carriers. We have stories from those pilots, from the America and from the USS Saratoga as to how they felt about all this.
Well what no one knew at the time was this: that even though the Israelis had shot up all the active radar on the USS Liberty, and there was lots of radar on that ship, they neglected to shoot up one communications link, that was not connected, there had been some trouble with it, there had been some need for maintenance, so they didn’t appear live on their screens.
Now TerryÂ Halbardier, a 23 year old Texan seaman was on deck and he said to the skipper, “Look you know, there is one communications link which I think I can get reestablished, I just need to get this cable to it. Permission requested to slide across this napalm filled deck so I can make this connection?
McGonagle, the commander said, “Well if you think you can do it, go to it”.
TerryÂ HalbardierÂ did do that, he connected the cable and an SOS immediately went out to anybody who could hear it in the area including of course the Israelis who are attacking the ship.
Now, the Israelis, we know from other intercepted messages said, “Ohhhh bummer, we better get out of dodge”, and so the patrol boats, the torpedo boats and the planes went to base right quick.
SH: Yeah little could they imagine that the president of the United States would call back the fighters that were being sent to protect his own ship.
RM: Yeah isn’t it a little ironic that they need not to have been worried about it …
SH: God dang …
RM: So the rest of the story is that because, the bravery, you know, and the ingenuity of this 23 year old seaman from Texas who simply connected this cable, what happened was not the whole crew got killed, only ..
SH: The ship was not sunk …they failed in their mission. Now, we have to hold it right there, but we’re spending the whole hour here with Ray McGovern here everybody so don’t go away, it’s Ray McGovern, Veteran Intelligence Professionals For Sanity you can read him today atÂ www.antiwar.comÂ and atÂ www.consortiumnews.comÂ about the USS Liberty leaving the USS Liberty crew behind. We’ll be right back ….
Alright you guys welcome back to the show. I’m Scott Horton this is my show the Scott Horton Show, I’m talking with Ray McGovern, he’s a great American peace activist, he really is – co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals For Sanity …Leaving the USS Liberty Crew Behind, and so far Ray has told the story of the Israeli air attack on the USS Liberty on June 8th – yesterday was the anniversary, June 8th 1967 and the heroics of a young Texan who connected the antennae to call for help, the absolute treason – my word for it – on the part of Lyndon Baines Johnson and Robert McNamara in calling back the fighter jets who were being scrambled to help, and attempting to abandon those men to their fate even though the signal out was enough to scare the Israelis off, that’s where we left off in the interview.
But now, so I have to ask you this part, and there is so much to cover here Ray, but, where were you that day? And what do you know about it professionally from your own experience in the US government?
RM: Well I was working as an analyst at CIA headquarters at the time and of course I was in touch with people who were monitoring this in the middle-east branch and I remember it was very clear to them that the Israelis did this deliberately, it was very clear to the people at NSA who had the intercepted messages, there wasn’t a person who believed that anything other than a deliberate Israeli attack had occurred.
Now why the Israelis did this is another question. One would think that since we have the intercepted messages showing that it was very deliberate one would think that someone would take those intercepted messages to Tel Aviv and talk to the heads of the Israeli government and say:
“Alright 47 years have gone by, tell us why you shot up our seaman, tell us why you tried to sink our ship”.
But you know what, for some strange reason I can’t understand Scott, nobody will do that. Instead, instead the US government and the US navy for God’s sake, you know, that’s what really hurts, when I was an army officer we were told that our fist duty was to protect, to defend, to supervise our men, to act as their advocate, how can you explain the cowardice of the naval leadership at that point? Â and Admiral John McCain, who’s celebrated son is now a senator, who was told by Lyndon Johnson:
“Look we need to do some sort of inquiry here, but make sure you do it within a week, don’t send anybody to Israel or anywhere else to ask questions, we’re sure it was just a very terrible mistake, just like the Israelis said, finish it off and we’ll put this behind us”.
And what did Admiral John McCain do, well, he saluted smartly and betrayed his men – betrayal is the word here.
I don’t use treason, that is very distinctly defined in our constitution, but it was a cowardly betrayal of our men and now you will not get anyone to pick up the pieces here. There was a separate inquiry 11 years ago by an independent panel on which sat former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Admiral Thomas Moorer, and other high dignitaries with experience in military affairs, and they determined that the attack was deliberate, that it was covered up by high level officials and everybody yawned and nobody would give it any publicity.
Someone wrote in the comment section of one of the places where my article appeared yesterday, they said:
“My goodness McGovern has done something that nobody else will do, hardly even on the blogosphere, he’s called it like he sees it”.
Well why should that be so extraordinary Scott? I just don’t understand. We are people’s guts? Why don’t people brace what happened, why don’t people defend these folks?
It reminds me of what has happened now to our veterans. We know that its’ been just another betrayal. Who cares about our veterans? They’re only as LBJ put it, ‘just a couple of sailors’, who’s going to go bat for just a couple of sailors?
Well 34, is not just a couple and 174 also not just a couple. That was two thirds, between the killed and wounded, two thirds of the crew of the USS Liberty – performing intelligence operations in international waters on a bright sunny afternoon with the US flag flying high.
We know the US flag was flying high because the Israeli pilots said,
“But that’s a US ship, that’s a US ship”.
Â “Follow your orders, hit it”, is the response they got. It’s all in the intercepts.
SH: Right. Well, you’re going to hate this but, you already know the answer to your question is, that it doesn’t fit the narrative, and even if it is just a matter of fact, just doesn’t seem to fit with what everybody would prefer to believe about the relationship, not everybody, but the people with power in America and the American political class, about the relationship between our country and theirs.
And after all as you say yourself, we don’t know for certain what their motive was. We’ve talked before about this, where it could have been covering up war crimes in Sinai or moving on the Golan or whatever it was that they thought might be a problem. I forget if you had other theories that people have put forth, but that makes a great talking point for the deniers too, at least to even just tell themselves while they dismiss it. But why would Israel do such a thing?
It just couldn’t be that that is the real story there and so why trouble themselves with a troubling story that just doesn’t sound right. Why in the hell Ray would Israel attack the US?
RM: (laughs) Well there are several good reasons. Remember this was right in the middle of the six-day war in the middle-east in June 1967. The Israelis had already decimated the air craft in Jordan and Egypt and in Syria. They had already broadened their territory by many factors and they weren’t finished.
They fully intended to occupy the Golan Heights which overlook that part of Syria, I’ve been there, I’ve seen what the Golan Heights, they are very commanding okay? Now. We’re talking about June 8th – the Israelis had already successfully invaded the Sinai, given the bloody nose to the Egyptians and next day they planned to go up on the Golan Heights.
Now, you couldn’t go on the Golan Heights without telling your forces – giving them orders and telling them how to dispose and all of that kind of thing – and you couldn’t do that without the kinds of communications that the Israelis knew the USS Liberty was fully equipped to intercept and send right back to Washington.
So, one theory is that the Israelis very much in favor of not asking for permission, but rather asking for forgiveness after the fact, didn’t want the US ambassador descending on them in Tel Aviv ……
SH: Well I have no idea why the board just dumped your audio, but anyway we gotta take this break. We still have half of this interview to go, so hang tight everybody, it’s the great Ray McGovern, Veteran Intelligence Professionals Â For Sanity, read his new article about the Liberty today atÂ www.antiwar.com.
Welcome back to the show, I’m Scott Horton,Â talking with Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst now a peacenik, Veteran Intelligence Professionals For Sanity, writer forÂ www.consortiumnews.com.
The piece today, Leaving the USS Liberty Crew Behind, and when we were interrupted by the break Ray, we were talking, you were talking about the possible motives, the most likely motives for the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty which was again a national security electronic intelligence ship …so you were talking about the Golan Heights there I believe when we were interrupted.
RM: Right, Scott. The other very reputable theory and one that James Bamford, the par excellence expert on NSA advances, and he does this in his excellent book, Body of Secrets, he says that Israeli journalists were eye witnesses to some pretty terrible things atÂ El-Arish, which is right on the coast there in the Sinai.
What had happened was, the Israelis had taken many Egyptian prisoners as they came through the Sinai on three axis, and the one that was the most western ended up with about two or three hundred prisoners. Now Egyptian prisoners in the Sinai, in the desert, you know this is a terrible bother, you have to feed them, you have to give them water most important, and it was sort of a real inconvenience on the Israelis who were preparing to go up on the Golan against Syria. And so what happened was, according to these eyewitness Israeli journalists is that the Egyptian captives, many of them officers were ordered to dig their own graves and they were shot and buried right there in El-Arish.
And then they looked up and they saw this ship, it was 13 nautical miles off El-Arish that is in international waters, and I’m sure these Israeli commanders say, “Oh bummer”, because the Liberty had all kinds of capabilities but certainly it had the capability to pick up these kind of communications and find out what was going on there. So that’s how Jim Bamford comes down, and it’s a very reputable theory.
The point is we can find out. All we have to do is summon the courage, the guts, we don’t even have to have any, we can just say:
“Hey Israel, why did you do this, and why have you covered it up, and why has the rest of the United States covered it up’?
You know I’m thinking Scott ..
SH: Well you know wait a minute now, tell me what you’re thinking in a sec, but I was going to say that one of the subjects that you and I have talked about over the years is America’s Iran policy and something that you highlighted numerous time as being very important was that Admiral Blair bringing up the USS Liberty in the context of Iran in, it seemed like what he was saying was:
“You better not attack us to try to make it look like the Iranians did it, cos I’m gonna know and I’m gonna be pissed off at you and it’s not gonna work so don’t even try it”, that happened just a couple of years ago.
RM: Yeah that’s right.
SH: So that would be the one instance where the Americans brought it up to the Israelis at all, and it was, “Don’t you do that again”
RM: That’s right, it was Mike Mullen actually.
SH: Oh Mullen, that’s right.
RM: It was July 2008 and it looked very much like Netanyahu and the rest of them were hell bent on starting a war with Iran whether by provocation or in some other way and so Mullen was sent out there to talk to his numbers and the defense minister in Tel Aviv and say, “Look you know you better not do this, we’re not going to be automatically supporting you if you attack Iran”, and he pulled out this ace in the hole.
He referred for the first time that I know of any senior American official referring to, he said:
“Look we know what happened at The Liberty, we remember that, don’t you ever try to do that again to one of our naval vessels, don’t monkey around like this again”.
And that bought them up short. There were a lot of reasons why the Israelis backed off but that was the only time that I saw a high level military official face them down on that, and to his credit, he was a naval officer, Admiral Mullen, and he was not the worst by far of our joint chiefs of staff.
One thing I’d like to do is, well two things really, I get most interested in the Liberty at a very curious juncture, it was about seven years ago, and I was giving a talk down in Springfield Missouri, and on the way down I had printed out the London Review of Books version of, Stephen Walt, and JohnÂ Mearsheimer’s piece on the Israel Lobby.
This was the one that wasÂ commissionedÂ by The Atlantic Magazine, and when they saw the draft, they held their noses and said, “Guys, you don’t expect us to publish this”?, suffice it to say that Mearsheimer and Walt could not find a US publisher for this, they had to go to the London Review of Books, and it was of course a factual explanation of how powerful the Israel Lobby is in this country, witness how they have been able to suppress this story about the Liberty. Now, what is the point of this?
Well I’m speaking at a big church full of about 300 people and somebody says, “Hey, what do you think about the Mearsheimer/Walt piece? And I said, “Hmm, thank you”, you know, I had just read it on the plane, I said, “Well actually I just read that on the plane, I think it’s great but you know what I don’t understand is why they avoided mentioning the most egregious example of the power of the Israel Lobby”, and I saw nobody is catching on, and I said, I mean the USS Liberty.
Now there are 300 people there Scott and the blank expressions on 297 of them okay, because I asked, “How many people have heard of the USS Liberty”?, and 3 hands go up. So I call on the guy who is in about the third row, I said sir, “Can you tell us how you learned (about the Liberty)”, and he stands up ramrod straight and he says,
“SergeantÂ Bryce Lockwood, US Marine Corp Sir, member USS Liberty Crew, Sir”.
SH: That was one third of the people who knew what you were talking about, a survivor.
RM: Yeah right, so I said:
Â “Bryce, Sergeant Lockwood, would you share with us, would you come up and share with us for five minutes and tell us what happened'”?
And uh, it was amazing, he stood ramrod straight and he said,
“Sir, I’ve not been able to do that yet, but it’s been, it’s been 40 years now sir, I’d like to try to do that tonight”,
And he marched up to the podium and for the next ten minutes he gave a graphic description of how, by happenstance he was behind the bulwark with the sensitive communications and spying equipment that he was just about to drop over into the bottom of theÂ Mediterranean, the torpedo hit killing 26 of his men, and the NSA, he was a Russian linguist but there are many Arab linguists there and two Israeli linguists, 26 killed, next thing he found himself doing was trying to salvage one or two of them that seemed to be still alive before they floated out of the hole that the torpedo created.
He recounted that story and it just you know,it was so authentic, and so gripping, and then he said:
Â “I’ve not been able to talk about that until now, I guess I’m still violating the rule of court martial, I hope the other 299 of you will come to my rescue”.
Now Scott, Bryce Lockwood was there yesterday afternoon at the naval memorial in Washington with about 7 other USS Liberty survivors. There was a ceremony that I took part in, they read the names of the 34 who were killed, the grief was thick and I just ……(music)
SH: Ray I’m sorry to interrupt you, I don’t know when the music comes up it pushes your level
so far down…anyway we’ll be right back, we got one more segment with the great Â Ray McGovern on the USS Liberty, right after this y’all.
Hey I’m Scott, this is my show welcome back to it, I’m on the line with Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst now Veteran Intelligence Professionals For Sanity, and writer forÂ www.consortiumnews.com,Â www.raymcgovern.com,Â www.antiwar.comÂ the piece today is:
Leaving the USS Liberty Crew Behind
And I want to recommend to you guys, if you just searchÂ www.scotthorton.orgÂ for USS Liberty you will find interviews withÂ Joe Meadors and Ron Kukal, both survivors of the USS Liberty and I think probably there is a couple of previous interviews with Ray, I’m not sure if I ever interviewed James Bamford about the Liberty or not, but anyway, search the archives ofÂ www.scotthorton.orgÂ you can find interviews with at least two different survivors of this attack.
One of the things, I’m not sure if we had a chance to talk about Ray, but I want to make sure that we do talk about, is how they strafed the lifeboats and the stretchers and they really were attempting to, apparently there’s no question about this, this was from, I believe you write here, from Admiral Moorer’s investigation determined that they were trying to make sure to kill each and every last person, no survivors, no witnesses.
RM: Well that’s right. And those are war crimes, pure and simple. You don’t do that. It’s against the law of war. It’s against all manner of conventions. Now, I’d like to just say a word about our four star generals, you just mentioned Admiral Moorer – he had the guts to pursue this independent investigation, came up with their results, he was totally ignored in the press, now Moorer is an exception to the rule. He cared about the troops.
I’m just reading a headline here: The Veterans Administration Says More Than 57 000 Patients Are Waiting For Their First Visit, now there is Â a very, very serious deficiency in leadership in this country and nowhere is it more evident than with the four star generals, and I’d like to just tick off a couple of things because I am frankly very ticked off at what has been going on.
SH: And you’re a former military veteran as well aren’t you Ray?
RM: Yeah, I was an army officer and it pains me greatly to see what is going on. We mentioned Admiral Mullen. Â He was not the worst okay, he did that gutsy thing in July 2008, mentioning the USS Liberty incident to the Israelis and yet as soon as you know, this Chelsea Manning released those reports Mullen was among the first to say, “Oh the sky is falling, the sky is falling, this will be irreparable damage…”, so they fall in line okay. Now nowhere has the falling in line been more evident than one of these sainted generals, General Four Star Tony Zinni of the marine corp. Â What about him?
Well he was at the Veterans Foreign Wars meeting on the 26th of August 2002 when Dick Cheney got up and said:
Â “Saddam Hussein has all manner of chemical and biological weapons, and he’s preparing a nuclear weapon, he’s very close to it, UN inspectors they are not worth a darn, they just give you a false sense of security, we gotta zap him”.
Now Zinni’s said three years later, I say again, three years later:
You know I was sitting there, I was getting an award at this ceremony, I was listening to that and I was still on contract with the US government, I had just retired, but I knew that the intelligence didn’t support what Dick Cheney was saying”.
And what did Tony Zinni do? Well he played Br’er Rabbit. He didn’t say nothing, okay?
Next one.Â Eikenberry, Eikenberry,Â Karl Eikenberry was commander of forces in Afghanistan, before that he supervised the training of Afghan troops, and when the Zionist led by Bruce Riedel of the Saban Intstitute at Brookings and General Patraeus and the others decided well they’dÂ the mouse trap Obama into sending more troops to Afghanistan, two surges, one in March and one later in the year of 2009, what did Eikenberry do? Well, he wrote these two incredibly good cables.
One of them saying:
“Look, this is a fools errand. Karzai is not a reliable partner. These guys will never get trained up and besides if you don’t close off the border with Pakistan it’s not going to work.”
And what happened? Well, he was over ruled by the neocons, by Patraeus and by that little group that Obama assembled, and what did he do? Well, he played like Br’er Rabbit, he didn’t say nothing, worse than that, he went up on The Hill and he advocated for this stupid plan that cost us another thousand US servicemen’s lives at the second surge of the kind.
Okay, so there’s Eikenberry. What about Patraeus? Patraeus was sent out by Dick Cheney in May of 2004 right after Abu Ghraib, that was April okay, April 2004, Abu Ghraib disclosures, May the only decent, the only honest investigation done by General Taguba of the army, and in June, what happens?
Well, Rumsfeld sends Patraeus out to Iraq with new orders okay, frago 242, for those who don’t know what frago is – it is a fragmentary order, okay?
We know about that from Chelsea Manning. What did frago 242 say? It said:
“Look we should not torture anybody anymore, but if you see Iraqi’s torturing one another, you might want to report it, but you don’t have to”.
Now, I’m talking June 2004, one of the things that Chelsea Manning saw in Baghdad on the ground was what was happening to people her age being thrown into Iraqi prisons and tortured. That’s one of the things one personal experience with personal suffering that made an impression on her okay. So ..
SH: She was even actually ordered to participate and had warned his/her superior officers that hey:
Â “This guy is guilty of nothing except writing a critical essay for the local newspaper”
And they said, the commanding officer said,
“Yeah and get back to it too”,
And that was the real line that was crossed where Chelsea Manning decided, ‘something has got to be done then, because if I’m going to be forced to participate in the torture of some innocent guy, I’m gonna stick up for what is right in another way’.
RM: That’s right and you know unless you have that personal experience with innocent suffering, I mean that’s the real catalyst, if you have a conscience and Bradley/Chelsea Manning thank God, had a conscience.
So it was not the collateral murder video, that came later, that was sort of icing on the cake in some sort of dark way, but it was her experience there in Baghdad. So what’s happening is Patraeus is supervising all this okay.
You don’t have to worry about the Iraqi’s torturing each other, as a matter of fact, as long as it is Sunni that is being tortured, so much the better. And you can see what is happening today. What’s my point?
Well, that was June 2004. In November 2005, so we’re talking a year and a half later, it became clear to some of the US journalists in Baghdad that this was going on. A woman reporter asks then General Pace who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pretty straight guy okay, Rumsfeld and he are having this press conference and the journalist says:
Â “General Pace, what are your instructions if your armed forces see people being tortured by the Iraqi’s?”
Pace without blinking an eye:
Â “My instructions are to stop the torture on the spot, stop it with every piece of power that you have to get it stopped”.
“Oh, I don’t think you mean stop it, General, you mean you might want to report it”,
“No sir, that’s wrong, my orders are to stop it”.Â
No why do I point that out? That was the most bizarre exchange, between a subordinate the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, who didn’t last very long, and his superior.
SH: Yeah and I remember when it happened to and he said,
“Those are the laws of war”,
And in another words, he is in a position of authority to say what the laws of war are, even if the secretary of defense disagrees with him, he doesn’t have to just go along with that.
RM: So what did that mean? That meant that frago 242 had been deliberately kept from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Rumsfeld and Patraeus were running this thing together.
Now, that is pretty bad. Now let me give you some good news. There is one General, who is head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff right now, his name is Dempsey, Martin Dempsey, who has a conscience – who has successfully prevented another stupid war in the middle-east.
And very briefly when secretary Kerry got up on August 30th at the State Department, 4 o’clock in the afternoon and said:
Â “We know Bashar al-Assad is responsible for those chemical attacks on August 21st, we know…”
He said it 35 times alright.
Now hold on one second Ray, I gotta say goodbye to the people, I gotta keep recording you after the top of the hour here obviously, thanks everybody for listening we’ll be back here live from noon to three eastern time tomorrow here …now Ray please continue and we’ll just go on…..
RM: Sure, well what happened there is something Americans need to know. John Kerry was not telling the truth. He didn’t know who did those chemical attacks. Nobody knew at the time but my former colleagues in the CIA knew that the evidence was very ambiguous, and they told us, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, said:
‘Look guys, we’re not going to do another Iraq. We are not going to falsify the evidence to justify in quotes, another war”
And besides there is no such thing as an ‘unbelievably short war’ in the middle-east like John Kerry apparently thinks. So, we told everybody who would listen and so did General Dempsey.
General Dempsey was in receipt of information from the british, his British counterparts who had been given a sample of the sarin used in those attacks on August 21st and the British had already determined that was not the kind of sarin that was in Syrian army stocks. It was a different kind of rudimentary sarin that we knew, that western intelligence knew that rebels were capable of producing and had already indeed produced.
So here you have Kerry, 35 times saying:
“They crossed the red line, they crossed the red line, we know …”,
Now what does Dempsey do? Well I don’t know if it was that Friday night, August 30th, or whether it was Saturday morning August 31st, but he goes to the president and he says:
” Mr President look, despite what your secretary of state is saying, we don’t know. We have reason to believe it was the rebels that did this, but more important Mr President it’s not going to wash this time because the truth is going to come out and by the way we know you really like those tough guys in the White House and those tough women now that you have around, but Mr President with all due respect, they don’t know diddly about war.
Â We do, okay, we do. Not only that, but John Kerry, you know, hats off to him for sailing boats up the Mekong, but that doesn’t make you a strategic thinker. And he knows that we know that he’s not telling the truth.
So, Mr President, if you go ahead now and approve this war now that Kerry really wants you to do, you know what’s going to happen is, I’m going to be besieged by the press here in this country. They’re going to say, “Dempsey, why is it you could not have waited two days to hear the report from the UN inspectors coming back from Damascus on what really happened on August 21st?Â A
And Mr President, it’s going to be difficult but I’m going to have to say to them, ‘well it beats the hell outta me, go ask the president. “
(laughs) Alright? Now. Dempsey said
Â “Look Mr President here is what you say. Our ships are in position, we have four cruise missile capable ships in the eastern med, and we can zap the Syrian inventory of chemical weapons, but, we don’t need to do it today or tomorrow, or next week, or next month, we can do it at our leisure.’
By the way Mr President I think you should also say that you are going to go to congress to seek appropriate authorization because I’ve testified on that and I think I may have to quit if you don’t do that” (laughs).
Now, what is the proof in the pudding? I’m outside the White House okay on the 31st of August, Saturday morning, we have this big demonstration going, we have somebody inside where the Rose Garden appearance of the president is just about to happen, and we get word that the president has just said:
“Our ships are in position in the eastern med but we don’t have to do this today or tomorrow or ….”
And he says quote:
“There is no time sensitivity to this and I’m going to seek congressional authorization”.Â
We couldn’t believe our ears. So. He blamed it on Dempsey and the proof was in the pudding, the next day, Sunday now, the 1st of September, John McCain, and that fellow Lindsey Graham, they descend on the White House, and they’re so angry.
They come out into the parking lot there, and the cameras are going and they say,
Â ‘That chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Dempsey, he doesn’t know what he is talking about, this was going to be a war that could’ve been an unbelievably short war and blah blah’ okay?
And so there is the proof in the pudding. What happened was Dempsey stood up to the president, he said:
Â “Look we have this other channel going, we’re working with the Russians to get those chemical weapons out of there’
President Putin and President Obama went around behind the back of Kerry, came to an agreement and the Russians bailed us out on that by getting the Syrians to destroy all of their chemical weapons. Who would’ve thought that was possible?
Now final thing here, you want to know, you want to know why people like John Kerry and neocon Victoria Nuland and neocon, why they hate Vladimir Putin with the fervor with which they hate him?
Well, I grew up in New York right, and Gene Autry did these cowboy films right, and theseÂ IroquoisÂ Indians really hated Gene Autry, well the next film thatÂ would come out, the commentator would say, “You remember how much they hated Gene Autry, they hated him from another picture”, right, okay (laughs)
Well, Nuland, Kerry and the other neocons hated Putin from this other picture where they almost had their war on Syria and that is part and parcel of why they created this coup d’Ã©tat in Kiev and whether they thought they could ever succeed in weening Ukraine into NATO, that’s an open question, but they knew damn well, pardon my French, that they could cause real poison in the relationship between Putin and Obama and indeed they have succeeded beyond all expectations in that.
I am seriously concerned right now that the Russians might be provoked into intervening in the Ukraine because this new president is, his you know, his speech and his actions indicate that he’s wanting to provoke them to come in.
I just hope that Putin maintains his, is willing to hold off and not be provoked into military intervention but rather use the economic and other cards that he as to prevail, because this is where he holds the high cards. He doesn’t need to invade. I just fear that the pressure is on him the more and more people that killed in the eastern part of Ukraine, that he may feel that he has no other option.
SH: Yeah, well, and now that could be a whole other interview or we could get back to it. It’s fine with me if you want to get back to it and continue on, but to get back to tie this all back to Israel again in our original topic of the USS Liberty here, like you’re mentioning about the motivation of the neocons to prevent any kind of, to whatever degree they can to obstruct the relationship between the United States and Russia in cooperating on issues like Syria and Iran and why Syria in the first place – America’s policy on Syria in the first place, and partly Saudi, but mostly because that is what Israel wants, to help weaken Iran, and I actually should go ahead and make a correction here as long as I’m on the record with you Ray – and that is that I have mis-characterized a passage in a Jeffrey Goldberg interview of Barack Obama in the past by saying that they don’t even pretend for a minute to mention the humanitarian crises of the poor people of Syria.
That’s actually not true. They both actually invoke the mostÂ pro forma, don’t mean it, dispense with it, type tropes about the poor people of Syria, and then they go, it makes the point even better really, they go on and on and on about ‘wouldn’t overthrowing Assad be a great way to weaken Iran’s position in the region Mr President?
And Barack Obama says, ‘That’s right Jeffery Goldberg, I’m the Israel Lobby’s humble servant, look at what a great job I’m doing weakening your friend Assad in Syria’, and this may be a little bit broken record from interviews with you in the past, and other interviews on the show recently, but hey it’s still the most important thing in the world other than our relationship with Russia I guess, and that is American support for these Jihadi’s, when they’re the only legitimate enemies of the American people on the planet and only because Iran is the pseudo pretender enemy of Israel and is actually no threat to Israel, not any more than they were when Israel was helping Ronald Reagan sell them tow missiles in the 1980’s and so, like Michael Oren puts it, “Well you know I prefer these bad guys” meaning Al Qaeda, “To Assad orÂ HasbalahÂ Â because they’re backed by Iran”.
And so when he says, ‘that’s what I prefer’, we see the result of that. That’s what American foreign policy prefers, and then so, the fact that Obama is really pursuing this nuclear deal, well I don’t know how, you know, Gareth Porter takes it with a grain of salt, so I don’t give him much more credit than that I guess, but it seemsÂ like Obama on one level is trying to pursue a real nuclear deal with Iran, the last big fake outstanding issue between our two countries.
But on the other hand he continues to completely act a fool in this Syria policy that to hear the president himself tell it, is all just about Israel feel good about Iran for a little while.
RM: Well the Iran factor is crucial, and you know Iran having a defense treaty with Syria, that means a lot and the neocons thought if they could give Syria a really bloody nose that this would at least embarrass the Iranians, but you know Scott, what most people don’t realise is how the situation evolved.
Starting exactly at this time last year, in a word, Bashar al-Assah had started to win okay, he started to win big. He was dislodging the rebels from strongholds they had held for two years. It looked like he might be able to consolidate his rule in all but some of the parts in the north there where it looks all but pretty hopeless for Bashar al-Bashar Al-Assad, but he was winning. Now, what does that mean to the Israelis?
Well, Jodi Rudoren, who is the New York Times bureau chief in Jerusalem, she actually reported back at that time that she had asked high level Israeli officials:
“Well, what is your preferred outcome in Syria”
And one of them said:
Â “Oh that’s easy, no outcome”
And she said,
“Wait a second, preferred, no outcome?’
He said, “Yeah, no outcome, look, it’s sort of like a playoff game where you don’t want either team to win. The Sunni and Shia are going at it big time in Syria, and not only Syria the rest of that part of the world, let the hemorrhaging continue, because as long as it continues we in Israel consider ourselves immensely safer”.Â
Now that, even Jodi Rudoren suggested is how the Israelis were looking at it. Now, what does that mean? Well that means that if Bashar al-Assad starts to win, that’s not so good for the Israelis, and so what did they need, the ace in the hole – US military involvement directly.
And that is what John Kerry and Netanyahu were talking about all of these trips that Kerry was making out there. It wasn’t the Palestinians, it wasn’t Iran, it was about how they were going to give Syria a really bad, bad bloody nose, and why? Well because Bashar al-Assad looked like he was going to win.
So what happened was, they wanted to mouse trap us in using this red line thing that somebody ill advised the president to adopt, you make sure that there is a chemical attack, actually make sure there are UN inspectors at Damascus, just a couple of days before the chemical attack, blame it on Bashar al-Assad, get the US involved militarily then you’ve got a Sunni and Shia at it for about three more years, no problem the US is not going to make possible an outcome like no outcome, ‘we would prefer no outcome, the US is just going to do our bidding’, that was the name of the game. That’s why they wanted to mouse trap us in.
Now thankfully, and that’s why I wanted to cite Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, he and some of my former colleagues who had the guts to speak up, said:
Â “No Mr President we are not going to play Iraq again, this evidence that says it was Bashar al-Assad is phony”,
And of course two or three months later we have Sy Hersh, the premier investigative reporter in this country unable to publish this story in The New Yorker for which he writes, or any other US publication, but in the London Review of Books giving chapter and verse as to how this went down. And how it went down was that the rebels had the sarin, the Turks helped them, the Saudis helped them, other encouragers helped them and it was all, it almost worked.
It was one day away from working because after John Kerry made that speech on the 30th of August the Israelis were warned within 48 hours we’re going to get an attack so put up your defenses.
The French were told, and the French had their fighter bombers on the tarmac okay, and it was a little embarrassing, but the White House called both Israel and France and said:
“Well we changed our mind there is not going to be an attack”
That is how close we were.
So to his credit Obama was listening to a General with a conscience and with some smarts namely Dempsey and I see great hope in that, because I think Dempsey and other, how do I say, more reasonable people have realized that the neocons have led Obama down the garden path again.
And even though Obama seems to be in accord with what they want he showed himself able to act independently of them on Syria, this gives me some modest hope that he will be able to avoid the worst on the Ukraine.
SH: Yeah, alright now, if you still have time, do you still have time?
RM: Yeah, sure
SH: Okay great, because I’d like to get back to Ukraine in a minute, but while we’re still on Syria here, there was a statement, and I think I’m on the record as being against paying Assad to torture Al Qaeda as well as being against outright backing Al Qaeda against Assad or any kind of intervention in Syria, so I don’t want anybody to misunderstand or anything like that, any kind of position I’m taking here.
But I saw where, I’m sorry Ray, I don’t have it in front of me, I don’t know the exact phrase, but Lesley Gelb, who is kind of the evil twin doppelganger of Daniel Ellsberg who helped him right the pentagon papers, but you know gave in to be a servant, ever since where Daniel Ellsberg went rogues and hero on us.
He was former president for the council of foreign relations and all of these things, he was highlighting this statement that Obama made in the West Point speech, the most recent one, not the one announcing the surge back in 09, the most recent one here where he was indicating maybe that he was going to start calling the war in Syria no longer an attempt to help the so-called rebels against the tyranny, but maybe it would become a counter terrorism mission, a drone mission, a special forces mission with the implied target than being the guys that we have been backing and now are ready to betray, the al-Nusra, ISIS, and the whatever so called free Syrian army Northern Storm and whatever kooks of non-moderates that the CIA has been arming and funding this whole time, and coordinating the Saudi and the Qatari, and all of that, and Turkish and Jordanian intervention on their behalf as well this whole time.
So I wonder what you think of that. Is it possible that this Obama guy who after all you just finished saying about how he listened to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff telling him not to do a war and he didn’t do the war, back when he could have made his current policy so much worse, as Dennis Kuchinich called it at the time, acting as Al Qaeda’s air force.
Is it possible that he is now going to start acting as Bashar al-Assads air force against Al Qaeda do you think?
RM: Well I think that would be overstating the case, it’s one of these deals where you don’t want anyone to win in the playoffs, and to the degree that Kerry and Les Gelb and the likes are running this thing, you may have sounds coming out like this but on the hand you have Susan Rice saying
“Now we’re giving lethal military aid to the rebels….”
So it’s an incredibly complicated set of factors, it’s really hard to decipher what Obama wants to do here, or whether he is even his own agent. He seems conflicted, and he’s getting conflicting advice, there are people of course who want the carnage to continue, these of course are the people who make the weapons of carnage, the people who see benefit to keeping the pot boiling in the middle-east and the people who see that this might lead to even more weapons sales, in Europe and elsewhere.
And then there’s the tension between people like Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Dempsey who realizes that our military is far more extended than it should be, that we’re not capable, what we do for example, if the Chinese started to take over those islands in the South China Sea and Japan said,
‘no those are our islands and we have a mutual defense treaty with the United States, we invoke that treaty right now’. What would happen?
Well the US would look crazy, we would look very weak because all we would be able to do is say,
‘Yeah we have that agreement but let’s be nice, let’s play nice in the south china see because we have other equities here we can’t keep track of them all, we got Syria, we got the Ukraine,..
There is too much. Well Obama I don’t think is able to handle. He may be able to make a decision and chew gum at the same time, but not more than one decision. He is being led by the nose here.
Whether Les Gelb is hinting at something that is real or not, I just don’t know, but right now it is sort of ad hoc policy making, and that makes no sense at all except for the fact that if you’re ad hoc you can always change your mind and maybe there is some benefit in that.
SH: Yeah, well just for his own personal selfish reasons which are the best incentives I could possibly hope for, Barack Obama has got to not want to go down in history as the president, I mean, I guess it’s somewhat arguable about how much power the Al-Qaeda really have gained in Libya, but what’s, this project that has been going on in Syria here, this is going to look really really bad if he just leaves it this way.
And I’m not saying I want him to go to war against Al-Qaeda there but I want him to just knock it off. But going down in history as the guy that backed ISIS, and al-Nusra in their suicide bomber crucify people in the town square prisoner beheader type of war, against a secular former sock puppet of Americas again. You know, or not really again but kind of the same result came out of the Iraq war.
Now he’s got to not want to be his legacy. The way Iraq will be George W Bush’s no matter what forever you know.
RM: Well I agree Scott.
SH: And at least he knows how to rub a couple of neurons together compared to George W Bush, not that he’s a good man, but at least he is capable of some critical thinking skills you know.
RM: Yeah I mean, comparisons are invidious, especially that one. But you know on the other side he seems to be a very impressionable person and he is impressed by the responsibility toÂ protect tough Amazon women: Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Victoria Nuland …what do they know?
What do they know about military operations or the geographic and strategic equities that they’re fooling around with? They are playing with fire and yet you have Obama somewhat captive to them, and you know, he is a wuss, I’ve been saying that for five years, but you would think by now he would have some sort of discernment with respect to whom he should listen to and whom not.
But that seems to be lacking and the Ukrainian thing is one egregious example of that. Putin has offered him all kinds of ways out but it would have required Obama standing up the neocons, talking with Putin, working out some sort of arrangement with the EU and with the Ukrainians, instead of that, he is stoking the fires with this new guy right, and they new guy is saying very fiery things, worst of all the new fellow Poroshenko is not calling off the attacks on the folks in eastern Ukraine, and that is what worries me most because there comes a point where you know, Putin has his own internal people that feel very strongly about protecting Russians and protecting Russian interests, I still don’t believe it’s likely that Putin is going to send Russian forces into that part of the Ukraine, but he has other weapons, he has economic leverage that won’t quit.
So I just hope that the carnage out there, and it’s less than it is in Syria, as far as I can tell, will eventually die down when Poroshenko is finally told by the United States and others,
Â “Look, it’s time to make a deal, we over played our hand, we’re not going to get Ukraine into NATO, or even into the EU, let’s cool it for a while and let’s sit around a table, take everybody’s interest into account, have a federated sort of thing like Finland”,
Incidentally do you know who’s in Finland today? The Russian foreign minister, Sergay Lavrov. Now that is really interesting.
Finland is the paragon of a country that can live in Russia’s shadow and survive and flourish as long as it doesn’t join any military alliance aimed at Russia, and as long as it keeps a decent respect for Russian national interests.
SH: Alright, but now Ray, what game is the president of the United States playing here?
Cos you know what, I’ll even go with the Robert Parry thesis that, the Kagans here, they’re just getting out of hand, out from under Obama, they created this crisis, let’s pretend Obama had no idea what was going on there with the orange revolution too in February or whatever, now he’s in this mess and he is not ordering his government to order this Poroshenko guy to call it off sit down talk nice make a deal, he keeps pushing and pushing this.
He’s now asceeding to the hawks and saying, “okay okay, more military type equipment”, I don’t know exactly what he’s giving them but hell I may as well assume the worst Ray, they’re looking at a government in Kiev that is too weak to enforce its rein on the east and so they’re arming it up so that it will be strong enough to have a real civil war here, and to push this thing, and they’re not doing the opposite of that.
I mean you’re making the great case for what’s the obvious thing to do here now but Obama is not listening to you man, he keeps going with this thing, otherwise, as you say, you know, this tough talk, and tough actions in the east, we just talked with Dan McAdams about the people killed in the air strikes and all of that over there, covered up in the media here, that’s just making matters worse, and could lead, like you’re saying, could lead to a real Russian invasion of the east, and then oh my god, that’ll be the first day in history, “oh no Russia marches west” and you know a whole new cold war times ten then in today’s climate, so, what the hell, what do you think Obama thinks he’s doing over there at this point, never mind what Victoria Nuland wants? It’s not up to her.
RM: Well that’s the question Scott. I don’t know if Obama knows what he wants. I know he is under a lot of conflicting pressures, and you know his dilemma is really how he reads Putin, and how Putin looks at things.
You know if you look at what’s happening from Putins point of view, you have B52’s and stealth bombers now deployed to Europe okay? Now that’s a totally unnecessary thing, the Russians are not threatening Europe and yet Obama has let himself be persuaded to send stealth bombers from interestingly named ‘White Man Air Force Base’ in Missouri, which I was at a month or so ago, and the B52’s, now why would he want to do that? Well that betokens a guy who wants to show how tough he is, but Putin, can’t just sort of say well, “he’s just trying to appear tough”, he’s got to reckon with the hardware okay?
The stealth bombers and B52’s are an act of provocation that he has to take into account. The other thing and what people don’t really realize is that when Putin made that long, it was 4 hours that press conference on April 17th, he was asked a lot of questions. And one of the things he said was:
Â “You know the idea of trying to draw Ukraine into NATO, that’s bad enough, but even worse is this missile defense system that they’re trying to put in place in Poland, in the Czech Republic, and worse still on warships in the Black Sea and elsewhere okay, that’s what bothers us even more”
Mow if you’re Putin and you’re looking on and you see the President of the United States not only developing this anti-missile system ostensibly aimed at non-existent Iranian tech missiles, and you see that its really aimed to permit the United States to have a first strike, well, that gives you the idea from Putins point of view that this guy whether he feels, however he feels, he’s a wuss, and he looks like he’s a tool of what we call the military industrial complex.
I’ve run into, I know what that, Obama doesn’t seem to be able to act in any way like John Kennedy and Â so I have to take that into account, that’s what makes this situation explosive.
Because as Putin himself has said, “Words are cheap, actions really matter”, and when he watches Poroshenko do at the dictate of the US and the EU, is what the output-able factor will be.
I just hope, I just hope that Obama will come to his senses, listen to people like Jack Matlock the previous Ambassador to the Soviet Union and Russia and cool it. Just say, “Look let’s cool it here” and that Poroshenko will take his advice and you know do what he says he wants, he wants a ceasefire, it’s in his power to cause a ceasefire, let him do it. If he doesn’t do it, well, we can read the situation for what it is, not for it is rhetorically supposed to be.
SH: Right well I mean and this is the problem with all this stuff, is how obvious the counter factual is, how obvious it is what the right thing to do would be, and then they do nothing but the opposite of that, and so you had tweeted out this morning, or, I don’t know where the hell I saw this, you put it somewhere here, this statement of Bill Bradley, oh you emailed it to me, this statement of Bill Bradley a former democratic senator former presidential attempted nominee, ran against Al Gore in the primaries back in 2000, for the democratic nomination and here he is giving a very sober talk for about ten minutes to the Carnegie Endowment so it’s an audience of all kinds of ‘yes men’ on the inside of the establishment kind of people in the crowd, and so he’s basically up there on the premise of like, “Hey guys, I’m going to talk to you candidly here about maybe another point of view on Russia that you might need to hear”, and what really bothers me in this is that you can really tell that he’s telling them what he thinks they need to know, but that he also knows that they don’t know.
This is a crowd of people who believe their own nonsense about what they’re claiming about Russia, about their motivations and what’s really going on here and then he tells the same story as you, and Jack Matlock and the rest about how we got into this mess, and it was the expansion of NATO when we should’ve been treating the Russians as a beaten friend, you know, with sportsmanship, you know, beaten ex-enemy, that now we can be friends with, we just kept kicking them while they were down, over and over and over again and now it’s come to this, we’ve got a real border dispute, and you know I’m trying to remember who it was and whether we talked about this in the recent past Ray, but there was a story that was written, I think for Forbes or something about how a real war, a real war in Ukraine, like if the Russians invaded and you know the Ukrainian army did their very best against them, the Americans got pulled in, or other European forces got pulled in to a real war in Ukraine, which is possible, even if they’re not NATO members, that that could very quickly lead to nuclear weapons, the use of nuclear weapons, he said it’s a mistake for people to think of nuclear to think of nuclear war as this whole other different separateÂ kind of war, where you know you imagine missile silos in North Dakota and Montana being turned and full scale intercontinental ballistic missiles taking out capital cities and all of these kinds of full scale things.
But he’s saying that, “No really, it’s one continuum, it’s not a whole different kind of war”, and if the Americans were really losing on the battlefield to the Russians in eastern Europe, they might use nukes to preserve the credibility of NATO which they see the single highest priority on the face of the planet, and the Russians they just might use nukes if they thought that they were really going to be faced with NATO nukes stationed in the Ukraine, that that would be absolutely intolerable of a situation to be faced with, if they were beaten with chemical weapons to that point, or conventional weapons I mean to that point.
And that they could then use tactical battlefield nuclear weapons and that even in that entire scenario the commanders would have to be able to have the permission and have the nukes to deploy in order for them to be useful, and so at that point you’re not even talking about the president giving a command to the guys in Montana, you’re talking about people on the battlefield, maybe generals, from other countries militaries in charge of using Americas nuclear weapons and God knows who in Russia in charge of using theirs, and this is, they’re really messing with complete and total danger – not to be that alarmist cos I’m not the kind of guy that really believes that it is always the worst case scenario, but damned if it don’t look like the Americans are trying to turn this thing into some kind of worst case scenario here when all they have to do, like you said is say, “Ahem, we’re all going to sit down at a table and start meeting now”.
America is the nine zillion pound gorilla here and can force all sides to the table just at their suggestion and yet they just won’t do it. I’m sorry for going on so long but it sort of seems like to try to set the context here, like you’re saying, like Eric Margolis as well, is comparing to the start of WW1, this is setup for a real big set of blunders that could go very very wrong.
RM: Well that’s right, you know the guns of August really started around now back in 1914 and you know the equities here are incredible. When John Kerry was asked:
Â “Are you aware Mr Secretary, that this could lead to war with aÂ nuclear power?”,
Kerry said, “Yes, we’re aware of that, we have taken that into account”.
Now, you’re Putin, or you’re the equivalent to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Moscow right and you’re listening to this. Is this guy (Kerry) detached from reality? And if he is detached from reality and if he totally eclipses his colleague Hagel there, his defense secretary, what does that mean to us? How should we protect ourselves from this kind of, well I won’t say the word that comes first to mind. Now that’s important because the claritory policy has always been just as important as moving troops around.
If you have a secretary of state who says, “Yeah we’re willing, we acknowledge, we’re aware that this could lead to a conflict with a nuclear rival”, so that’s number one. Number two, what do Samantha Power, or Susan Rice, or Victoria Nuland, know about strategic defense or strategic offense?
They know nothing. And yet they seem to be in the catbird seat there in the White House, Obama seems to be listening to them more, these most recent days than he is to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey. What does that mean?
Well if I were Russian and I was looking on at this, it wouldn’t require me to watch forward deployed nuclear weapons, of course these stealth bombers and B52’s can carry that ordinance, it would suffice for me to see a defensive attempt to shift the strategic equilibrium here. And what I”m talking about is missile defense.
Now. Robert Gates, brags about the fact that when he saw there were a lot of Poles and a lot of Czechs who didn’t want to be targets of Soviet retaliation if missile defense systems were put in their countries, he say, “I got an idea, let’s put them on ships’, okay? Whoa. Great idea Bobby, and we can sail those ships where?
Well the treaty of Montreaux allows us to sail these ships right through the Bosporus and into the Black Sea right?
So, if I’m Putin and I’m looking at John Kerry and I’m looking at this sort of nonchalant adherence to putting in a missile defense and putting it on ships, now you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to seize the Crimea before anybody takes a second look at it.
Because as Putin himself said in one of those long interviews,
“You know the notion of Ukraine joining NATO and you know Sevastopol, our naval base since Catherine the Great, for us to have to visit US and other NATO sailors in Sevastopol, you know I would really much rather it be like it is now where if they want to come to Sevastopol I’d really prefer that they would be visiting our base and our sailors’
Now that was sort of a jocular way of putting it, but there it goes. You put missile defense ships in the Black Sea, you’ve changed the strategic equation, and no, no, no knowledgeable or conscientious Russian or other leader of any country will put a nation in such jeopardy when he has the high cards and can prevent it.
And so there you have the lesson of Crimea. Crimea was ripe for plucking, he plucked it, and there is a lot more story to that but the importantÂ point I would like to make here is that as Putin looks on, and this is what we have to do, if we look through the Russian point of view, he says nothing but fecklessness at best and serious desires to assert control over that part of the world at worst, and he doesn’t know where Obama comes out.
That’s why they really need to get together for more than 15 minutes. Putin needs to read the riot act to Obama, saying.
‘Look you can’t, you can’t come and make nice with me privately and then excoriate me publically just for political benefit. You said six or seven years ago, no you said before the last election you said, look missile defense look, just give me some slack, give me some time, I’m going to get reelected, when I get reelected we can look at missile defense’
Well what happened to that, what happened to that Obama?
What needs to happen is that these guys have to be able to understand each other better. I hope that something like might happen in connection with Normandy, I can see Putin and the Russians coming away from Normandy in, I mean all this business about, I saw one article today that the Russians shouldn’t have been invited right?
Well it was the Russians that won that damn war. It was the Russians that at Stalingrad turned back the Nazi hordes, and at Kursk, obliterated the Nazi tanks. It was the Russian that fought from 1941 – to June 6th 1944 virtually alone.
Sure there was some activity in the Mediterranean and Italy and places like that, but they bore the brunt, they lost 25 million people, and how did they get treated at Normandy? As sort of the second cousin and with pundits writing that they shouldn’t have even been invited.
Well you know, history has some significance, nationalism good or bad has some historic influence on decisions and I just marvel, and I’ll say this right on the record, I just marvel at how much restraint Obama and Lavrov and the others, the real pros in the Russian diplomatic service have exercised under what most reasonable people would say,extreme provocation by the likes of John Kerry.
SH: Yip. Alright well you know I think we better leave it here Ray, so it’s not just too long for anybody to hear but it sure has been a good one and I sure appreciate your insight on all of these very important issues, I hope that we don’t get H-bombed to death before we have a chance to do it again.
RM: (laughs) okay, Scott.
SH: Everybody that is the heroic Ray McGovern.