September 2013 Military Stand-off between Five US Destroyers and the Russian Flotilla

Tony Gosling tony at
Wed Oct 30 00:21:57 GMT 2013


The War on Syria: The September 2013 Military 
Stand-off between Five US Destroyers and the 
Russian Flotilla in the Eastern Mediterranean
Two US missiles were launched towards the Syrian 
coast, and both failed to reach their destination

By Israel Shamir
Global Research, October 26, 2013 5 October 2013
Theme: US NATO War Agenda
In-depth Report: SYRIA: NATO'S NEXT WAR?

The Cape of Good Hope Presentation at the Rhodes Forum, October 5, 2013

First, the good news. American hegemony is over. The bully has been subdued.

We cleared the Cape of Good Hope, symbolically 
speaking, in September 2013. With the Syrian 
crisis, the world has passed a key forking of 
modern history. It was touch and go, just as 
risky as the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

The chances for total war were high, as the 
steely wills of America and Eurasia had crossed 
in the Eastern Mediterranean. It will take some 
time until the realisation of what we’ve gone 
through seeps in: it is normal for events of such 
magnitude. The turmoil in the US, from the mad 
car chase in the DC to the shutdown of federal 
government and possible debt default, are the 
direct consequences of this event.

Remember the Berlin Wall? When it went down, I 
was in Moscow, writing for Haaretz. I went to a 
press-conference with Politburo members in the 
President Hotel, and asked them whether they 
concurred that the end of the USSR and world 
socialist system was nigh. I was laughed at; it 
was an embarrassing occasion. Oh no, they said. 
Socialism will blossom, as the result of the 
Wall’s fall. The USSR went down two years later. 
Now our memory has compacted those years into a 
brief sequence, but in reality, it took some time.

The most dramatic event of September 2013 was the 
high-noon stand-off near the Levantine shore, 
with five US destroyers pointing their Tomahawks 
towards Damascus and facing them – the Russian 
flotilla of eleven ships led by the 
carrier-killer Missile Cruiser Moskva and 
supported by Chinese warships. Apparently, two 
missiles were launched towards the Syrian coast, 
and both failed to reach their destination.

It was claimed by a Lebanese newspaper quoting 
diplomatic sources that the missiles were 
launched from a NATO air base in Spain and they 
were shot down by the Russian ship-based 
sea-to-air defence system. Another explanation 
proposed by the Asia Times says the Russians 
employed their cheap and powerful GPS jammers to 
render the expensive Tomahawks helpless, by 
disorienting them and causing them to fail. Yet 
another version attributed the launch to the 
Israelis, whether they were trying to jump-start 
the shoot-out or just observed the clouds, as they claim.

Whatever the reason, after this strange incident, 
the pending shoot-out did not commence, as 
President Obama stood down and holstered his 
guns. This was preceded by an unexpected vote in 
the British Parliament. This venerable body 
declined the honour of joining the attack 
proposed by the US. This was the first time in 
two hundred years that the British parliament 
voted down a sensible proposition to start a war; 
usually the Brits can’t resist the temptation.

After that, President Obama decided to pass the 
hot potato to the Congress. He was unwilling to 
unleash Armageddon on his own. Thus the name of 
action was lost. Congress did not want to go to 
war with unpredictable consequences. Obama tried 
to browbeat Putin at the 20G meeting in St 
Petersburg, and failed. The Russian proposal to 
remove Syrian chemical weaponry allowed President 
Obama to save face. This misadventure put paid to 
American hegemony , supremacy and exceptionalism. 
Manifest Destiny was over. We all learned that 
from Hollywood flics: the hero never stands down; 
he draws and shoots! If he holsters his guns, he 
is not a hero: he’s chickened out.

Afterwards, things began to unravel fast. The US 
President had a chat with the new president of 
Iran, to the chagrin of Tel Aviv. The Free Syrian 
Army rebels decided to talk to Assad after two 
years of fighting him, and their delegation 
arrived in Damascus, leaving the Islamic 
extremists high and dry. Their supporter Qatar is 
collapsing overextended. The shutdown of their 
government and possible debt default gave the 
Americans something real to worry about. With the 
end of US hegemony, the days of the dollar as the 
world reserve currency are numbered.

World War III almost occurred as the banksters 
wished it. They have too many debts, including 
the unsustainable foreign debt of the US. If 
those Tomahawks had flown, the banksters could 
have claimed Force Majeure and disavow the debt. 
Millions of people would die, but billions of 
dollars would be safe in the vaults of JP Morgan 
and Goldman Sachs. In September, the world 
crossed this bifurcation point safely, as 
President Obama refused to take the fall for the 
banksters. Perhaps he deserved his Nobel peace prize, after all.

The near future is full of troubles but none are 
fatal. The US will lose its emission rights as a 
source of income. The US dollar will cease to 
serve as the world reserve currency though it 
will remain the North American currency. Other 
parts of the world will resort to their euro, 
yuan, rouble, bolivar, or dinar. The US military 
expenditure will have to be slashed to normal, 
and this elimination of overseas bases and 
weaponry will allow the US population to make the 
transition rather painlessly. Nobody wants to go 
after America; the world just got tired of them 
riding shotgun all over the place. The US will 
have to find new employment for so many bankers, 
jailers, soldiers, even politicians.

As I stayed in Moscow during the crisis, I 
observed these developments as they were seen by 
Russians. Putin and Russia have been relentlessly 
hard-pressed for quite a while.

* The US supported and subsidised Russia’s 
liberal and nationalist opposition; the national 
elections in Russia were presented as one big 
fraud. The Russian government was delegitimised to some extent.

* The Magnitsky Act of the US Congress authorised 
the US authorities to arrest and seize the assets 
of any Russian they deem is up to no good, without a recourse to a court.

* Some Russian state assets were seized in Cyprus 
where the banks were in trouble.

* The US encouraged Pussy Riot, gay parades etc. 
in Moscow, in order to promote an image of Putin 
the dictator, enemy of freedom and gay-hater in 
the Western and Russian oligarch-owned media.

* Russian support for Syria was criticised, 
ridiculed and presented as a brutal act devoid of 
humanity. At the same time, Western media pundits 
expressed certainty that Russia would give up on Syria.

As I wrote previously, Russia had no intention to 
surrender Syria, for a number of good reasons: it 
was an ally; the Syrian Orthodox Christians 
trusted Russia; geopolitically the war was 
getting too close to Russian borders. But the 
main reason was Russia’s annoyance with American 
high-handedness. The Russians felt that such 
important decisions should be taken by the 
international community, meaning the UN Security 
Council. They did not appreciate the US assuming the role of world arbiter.

In the 1990s, Russia was very weak, and could not 
effectively object, but they felt bitter when 
Yugoslavia was bombed and NATO troops moved 
eastwards breaking the US promise to Gorbachev. 
The Libyan tragedy was another crucial point. 
That unhappy country was bombed by NATO, and 
eventually disintegrated. From the most 
prosperous African state it was converted into 
most miserable. Russian presence in Libya was 
rather limited, but still, Russia lost some 
investment there. Russia abstained in the vote on 
Libya as this was the position of the then 
Russian president Dmitry Medvedev who believed in 
playing ball with the West. In no way was Putin 
ready to abandon Syria to the same fate.

The Russian rebellion against the US hegemony 
began in June, when the Aeroflot flight from 
Beijing carrying Ed Snowden landed in Moscow. 
Americans pushed every button they could think of 
to get him back. They activated the full spectre 
of their agents in Russia. Only a few voices, 
including that of your truly, called on Russia to 
provide Snowden with safe refuge, but our voices 
prevailed. Despite the US pressure, Snowden was granted asylum.

The next step was the Syrian escalation. I do not 
want to go into the details of the alleged 
chemical attack. In the Russian view, there was 
not and could not be any reason for the US to act 
unilaterally in Syria or anywhere else. In a way, 
the Russians have restored the Law of Nations to 
its old revered place. The world has become a better and safer place.

None of this could’ve been achieved without the 
support of China. The Asian giant considers 
Russia its “elder sister” and relies upon her 
ability to deal with the round-eyes. The Chinese, 
in their quiet and unassuming way, played along 
with Putin. They passed Snowden to Moscow. They 
vetoed anti-Syrian drafts in the UNSC, and sent 
their warships to the Med. That is why Putin 
stood the ground not only for Russia, but for the whole mass of Eurasia.

The Church was supportive of Putin’s efforts; not 
only the Russian Church, but both Catholics and 
Orthodox were united in their opposition to the 
pending US campaign for the US-supported rebels 
massacred Christians. The Pope appealed to Putin 
as to defender of the Church; so did the churches 
of Jerusalem and Antioch. The Pope almost 
threatened to excommunicate Hollande, and the 
veiled threat impressed the French president. So 
Putin enjoyed support and blessing of the 
Orthodox Patriarchs and of the Pope: such double 
blessing is an extremely rare occassion.

There were many exciting and thrilling moments in 
the Syrian saga, enough to fill volumes. An early 
attempt to subdue Putin at G8 meeting in Ireland 
was one of them. Putin was about to meet with the 
united front of the West, but he managed to turn 
some of them to his side, and he sowed the seeds 
of doubt in others’ hearts by reminding them of 
the Syrian rebel manflesh-eating chieftains.

The proposal to eliminate Syrian chemical weapons 
was deftly introduced; the UNSC resolution 
blocked the possibility of attacking Syria under 
cover of Chapter Seven. Miraculously, the 
Russians won in this mighty tug-of-war. The 
alternative was dire: Syria would be destroyed as 
Libya was; a subsequent Israeli-American attack 
on Iran was unavoidable; Oriental Christianity 
would lose its cradle; Europe would be flooded by 
millions of refugees; Russia would be proven 
irrelevant, all talk and no action, as important 
as Bolivia, whose President’s plane can be 
grounded and searched at will. Unable to defend 
its allies, unable to stand its ground, Russia 
would’ve been left with a ‘moral victory’, a 
euphemism for defeat. Everything Putin has worked 
for in 13 years at the helm would’ve been lost; 
Russia would be back to where it was in 1999, when Clinton bombed Belgrade.

The acme of this confrontation was reached in the 
Obama-Putin exchange on exceptionalism. The two 
men were not buddies to start with. Putin was 
annoyed by what he perceived as Obama’s 
insincerity and hypocrisy. A man who climbed from 
the gutter to the very top, Putin cherishes his 
ability to talk frankly with people of all walks 
of life. His frank talk can be shockingly brutal. 
When he was heckled by a French journalist 
regarding treatment of Chechen separatists, he replied:

“the Muslim extremists (takfiris) are enemies of 
Christians, of atheists, and even of Muslims 
because they believe that traditional Islam is 
hostile to the goals that they set themselves. 
And if you want to become an Islamic radical and 
are ready to be circumcised, I invite you to 
Moscow. We are a multi-faith country and we have 
experts who can do it. And I would advise them to 
carry out that operation in such a way that 
nothing would grow in that place again”.

Another example of his shockingly candid talk was 
given at Valdai as he replied to BBC’s Bridget 
Kendall. She asked: did the threat of US military 
strikes actually play a rather useful role in 
Syria’s agreeing to have its weapons placed under control?

Putin replied: Syria got itself chemical weapons 
as an alternative to Israel’s nuclear arsenal. He 
called for the disarmament of Israel and invoked 
the name of Mordecai Vanunu as an example of an 
Israeli scientist who opposes nuclear weapons. 
(My interview with Vanunu had been recently 
published in the largest Russian daily paper, and it gained some notice).

Putin tried to talk frankly to Obama. We know of 
their exchange from a leaked record of the 
Putin-Netanyahu confidential conversation. Putin 
called the American and asked him: what’s your 
point in Syria? Obama replied: I am worried that 
Assad’s regime does not observe human rights. 
Putin almost puked from the sheer hypocrisy of 
this answer. He understood it as Obama’s refusal 
to talk with him “on eye level”.

In the aftermath of the Syrian stand-off, Obama 
appealed to the people of the world in the name 
of American exceptionalism. The United States’ 
policy is “what makes America different. It’s 
what makes us exceptional”, he said. Putin 
responded: “It is extremely dangerous to 
encourage people to see themselves as 
exceptional. We are all different, but when we 
ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget 
that God created us equal.” This was not only an 
ideological, but theological contradistinction.

As I expounded at length elsewhere, the US is 
built on the Judaic theology of exceptionalism, 
of being Chosen. It is the country of Old 
Testament. This is the deeper reason for the US 
and Israel’s special relationship. Europe is 
going through a stage of apostasy and rejection 
of Christ, while Russia remains deeply Christian. 
Its churches are full, they bless one other with 
Christmas and Easter blessings, instead of 
neutral “seasons”. Russia is a New Testament 
country. And rejection of exceptionalism, of 
chosenness is the underlying tenet of Christianity.

For this reason, while organised US Jewry 
supported the war, condemned Assad and called for 
US intervention, the Jewish community of Russia, 
quite numerous, wealthy and influential one, did 
not support the Syrian rebels but rather stood by 
Putin’s effort to preserve peace in Syria. Ditto 
Iran, where the wealthy Jewish community 
supported the legitimate government in Syria. It 
appears that countries guided by a strong 
established church are immune from disruptive 
influence of lobbies; while countries without 
such a church – the US and/or France – give in to 
such influences and adopt illegal interventionism as a norm.

As US hegemony declines, we look to an uncertain 
future. The behemoth might of the US military can 
still wreck havoc; a wounded beast is the most 
dangerous one. Americans may listen to Senator 
Ron Paul who called to give up overseas bases and 
cut military expenditure. Norms of international 
law and sovereignty of all states should be 
observed. People of the world will like America 
again when it will cease snooping and bullying. 
It isn’t easy, but we’ve already negotiated the Cape and gained Good Hope.

(Language edited by Ken Freeland)

Israel Shamir reported from Moscow. He can be 
reached at <mailto:adam at>adam at
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