Russia Leaves Syria…When Do We?

Russia’s surprise announcement yesterday that it was beginning a withdrawal from Syria sent shockwaves through Western capitals. Russia considers its mission accomplished and will leave only a small force behind. Will a political solution produce results, or will the US and allies continue efforts to overthrow Assad?

Ron Paul: Hello everybody, and thank you for tuning in to The Liberty Report. With me today is co-host Daniel McAdams:. Daniel, it’s good to see you.

Daniel McAdams:: Good morning, Dr. Paul.

Ron Paul: We have better news today than what came out yesterday. The Russians have announced that they’re taking out their air force, they had 45 aircraft there and they had been doing a lot of bombing. Things have changed, they were there for less than sex month, for a little over five months, and now the negotiations are going on and there’s lots of talk about who’s in the driver’s seat now. But it certainly looks like the Russians are in a pretty good position. The United States is involved, but it looks like they’re going to be involved, so the big announcement is the Russians are leaving, they’re taking out there air force. Are we to expect now that the Russians are leaving, do you think we’ll leave Syria as well?

Daniel McAdams:: Well, that’s a big question, and it was a surprise announcement and nobody really expected it. But the Russians President, Putin, said, “Our tasks are generally fulfilled in Syria”. Remember, Russia was invited into Syria by the Syrian government back in September to help fight against ISIS and Al-Qaida, which is known as Al-Nusra in Syria. And so they ran thousands of sorties bombing ISIS and Al-Nusra, and what looked like the imminent collapse of the Syrian government, has now put President Assad in a much better position. A lot of the villages and cities, including even Aleppo, which is really the main city in Syria, are on the verge of being liberated from ISIS and Al-Qaida. So, apparently, Russia feels like the sorties that it has flown has done the job. And it’s not a complete withdrawal, it’s a withdrawal of the active troops. They’ll still maintain their naval base that they’ve had since 1972, I believe, in Tartus, and they’ll also maintain an air base in Latakia.

Ron Paul: Our argument, along with some of our allies, like Turkey and Saudi Arabia, is that Russia really wasn’t doing what they said they were doing. They said that they were mainly going after ISIS, and they did. But our and our allies’ argument is, “Oh no, they weren’t really going after ISIS, they were going after the rebels”. But, quite frankly, I would think that the Russians had no real reason to distinguish the two. We can’t distinguish between them, we send support over there, and we can’t go to John McCain and ask him, because that is who the moderates are. We’ve been in there, and right now, it looks like things are changing and the negotiations are going on, which is good, and maybe there will be less fighting, but there’s still a long way to go.

There has been disorder there for a good while, the real war has been going on since 2011 when Obama announced that Assad has to go. And even some who are participating in these negotiations are still saying that, so they have a long way to go. But if nothing else, I think this shows that the Russians won this skirmish. How it settles down and how it works out … but it certainly wasn’t the neo-cons who were agitating for actually accelerating. There were some suggestions that maybe we would do some secret bombing or hidden bombing and try to put more pressure on Assad to leave, so I think that side has lost for now.

Daniel McAdams:: What you were mentioning was a big article about an interview with President Obama in The Atlantic, and there were many, many revelations, but one of them that was shocking was that Kerry had tried to talk Obama early on into “quietly launching a few missiles” to send a message to Assad that we mean business and that he needs to step down. If you think about war crimes and international terrorism, the idea of quietly sending missiles to blow up part of a country that you’re not at war with to send a message, just seems … I think it shows the ugly side of John Kerry. Of course, thankfully, Obama didn’t take his advice.

Ron Paul: The prediction of Obama was that if Russia comes in, they’ll end up in a quagmire, and that’s the last thing they’ve ended in. It seems like they may well have learned their lesson from Afghanistan, and it looks like we haven’t learned any lessons. There was a time when we thought the United States learned a lesson in Vietnam and that we shouldn’t get carelessly involved in unconstitutional no-win wars where we didn’t have a real stake in it. And yet, here we go, we’re the interventionist. In this sense I think that they’re more realistic about what they can do or can’t do, and it looks like we are determined, one way or the other, to defend this empire. This backing off raises questions on who’s really going to win. But the Russians, even though you explain that they’ve been invited in, also have a strategic interest.

They have one naval base in the whole Mediterranean, and we can’t even count all the naval and air bases we have around the world. We’re in 150 countries, we have troops everywhere and we literally have troops in Syria, not army combat troops, but we have special forces, we have CIA in there and others who use our weapons and do some bombing and killing and it goes on. So we were very much involved, and, right now, Al-Nusra says that they aren’t going to hold back, they’re still waiting, they still have to get rid of Assad. There’s a ways to go on this, but maybe the Congress will straighten this out, maybe they will introduce a resolution. Usually we see these resolutions all the time, but they did have a resolution yesterday that sort of coincided with this, and I think they put the blame a little bit more on Russia, it wasn’t even handed.

Daniel McAdams:: As you remember from all your years, there are always a day and a dollar short. These sensational changes happen, and here’s Congress fighting the last war. H.Con.Res.121 introduced by your old friend, Chris Smith, who’s no friend of peace. And we should say that sadly there were only three nos on this. But some of our friends voted no, Thomas Massie voted no, which was a great, courageous vote. Justin Amash voted no, and our new friend, Tulsi Gabbard, voted no. But so much of this bill was just objectively and patently false. Just a couple of things I’ll go over quickly: “Assad has engaged in widespread torture and rape, and employed starvation as a weapon of war, including chemical weapons”, which even the U.S. now admits were not used by Assad in that August. As a matter of fact, the U.S. military said just the other day, that actually the rebels have been using chemical weapons very recently. There was no mention of that in the bill.

It also said, “The vast majority were killed by the Syrian government”, which is not true. And here’s a good one, you’ll appreciate this: it accuses Russia of violating international law by deliberately bombing civilian infrastructure. The word “deliberately” is interesting, because how could they know, and they’ve never proven that any of this has happened. When you want to talk about violating international law, the fact that the U.S. started bombing Syria without a UN Resolution, without any authorization, without being invited in, are all violations of international law.

Ron Paul: And when you raise this question about infrastructure, just think of the infrastructure at historic sites that were destroyed by our bombing of Iraq. I just can’t get over the fact that the administration admitted that they were 500,000 children who probably died from our bombing and sanctions in Iraq. Yet, here they come along and make these accusations, and yet we admitted to that. But it’s interesting about the definitions, if we have a policy that we ‘strategically bomb’ and we have no intention of killing anybody innocent, even though there is a candidate that said we should intentionally kill relatives of the suspect. But there is collateral damage and a lot of innocent people die and our policies killed a lot of people. But it’s very easy to see when the other side kills some people, but it’s automatic genocide. They may be bad and they may be horrible and you don’t want to defend them, but in comparison, it’s just so strange, and I think that’s why we continue to lose credibility.

The American people are waking up, they don’t believe our government anymore, especially when the government tells them, “Everything is okay, there’s no problem with the economy, there’s no inflation and jobs are okay”, and this sort of thing. But they don’t seem to have as much interest in the lies told on foreign policy, this is not going to be news. Do you think they’re going to bring it up in the next debate?

Daniel McAdams:: No.

Ron Paul: Because both sides are in favor of a form of intervention, and there’s no question about that. One side said, “Well, they just mismanaged, they should have hit this target, not that target”, and others are saying, “Well, you just need a lot more airplanes and a lot more troops”. They’re always only arguing about the technique and the management of it, and yet, the lies are continuously being told, as you said, and there will be very few people who will question that. Of course, this is where the violence is. We’ve been talking about the violence happening in this campaign, it’s nothing compared to the violence that our own government participates in and precipitates a lot of violence, because there’s ongoing violence in many places, and we’ve been very much involved in the last 15 years.

Daniel McAdams:: The other question is, how can we have a rational foreign policy when we can’t base it on facts. Here’s another thing from the resolution that’s just stupid. One of the claims is, “The attacks on the Syrian government have led to the expansion of ISIS”. How does that make sense, in what world does it make sense that them fighting ISIS leads to the expansion of ISIS? Maybe because ISIS is stealing all the weapons we’re sending to the moderates. But we always look to the resolve clause because that’s what the meat is, and this is something that I think maybe a red flag. It urges the administration to establish additional mechanisms for the protection of civilians. That almost sounds to me like authorizing a no-fly zone or something, so I started wondering if the Russians do pullout, are the neo-cons in Washington going to take this as the excuse to finally go in big?

Ron Paul: Of course, this isn’t official authority, but it’s sort of setting the stage for it, because I remember very clearly, a couple of years before you came to the office, in 1998, there was a resolution like this. I think it was The Iraqi Freedom Act or something. But it set the stage and even then I said this is going to lead to war, and, of course, it did. But these resolutions, even though they’re late and they’re [???] and they don’t tell the truth, they’re significant because they’re preparing the people for maybe someday getting a UN resolution for a no-fly zone. I think some of the candidates are all for that, both sides would support a no-fly zone, always believing that you can fight pseudo wars and we’ll never lose anybody and we can quickly win, and that sort of thing.

Looking back again at the relationship of Russia with Syria, it’s been long term, and Russia has a naval base at Tartus, and that’s important to them. See if you think this is a fair comparison: what if the government of Cuba had built [???] and said, “Okay, we’re going to take over our base at Guantanamo”. But that would have been the limit, there would be no way. But I think, in a way, they have had this naval base, it’s been an agreement, what they have is probably more legal than what we had in Guantanamo. I think we used a little bit of force to take over Guantanamo.

Daniel McAdams:: If you look at the original agreement, it specifically forbade the kind of activity that went on in Guantanamo with the detention of prisoners. So even though that was signed some hundred years ago, it’s made null and void by U.S.’s actions in Guantanamo.

Ron Paul: Right, I wish that we could be very optimistic and say that this is all going to be resolved, but, quite frankly, there’s a long way to go. But I think it’s positive, and I don’t think either side is a non-interventionist. I don’t think the Russians are non-interventionist, but it seems like they have a little bit more finesse, a little bit more knowledge, and a little bit more caution, and a little bit more justification, because they have followed international laws somewhat better than our side has.

Ron Paul: It seems like they must have better advisors, because Washington is full of neo-cons who know very little about these areas, but they have a lot of ideas about how the world should be. I think the Russians had a particular strategy, we talked about the criticism of them not hitting ISIS at first, but they wanted to Fed free up the western corridor and break the ISIS supply lines before they finally went to the eastern part and started bombing in [???] and Aleppo, so they had a strategy. But now, the next track is going to be Geneva and the political track, and there is an opposition group, the high commission and the government. The question now is, with the cease fire holding, and these talks beginning today again, will this lead to some sort of a political solution, where truly moderate rebels, those who don’t want to fight their way to overthrow Assad, will find some sort of agreement, have some significant reforms in Syria that will please the opposition and will enable them to unite and get rid of these last vestiges of terrorists groups that we admit are terrorist groups.

Ron Paul: They’re in no man’s land, as far as negotiations go, because they are doing something illegally because they don’t have the authority and the UN is not going to give them authority either, because the security council is not going to do it. I doubt if all of a sudden NATO is going to say, “We have to all of a sudden do this or put troops in”. And yet, the NATO people are certainly part of the problem, as they were in Ukraine, and they’re part of the problem in the whole area because we use them as our own military force and we always threaten them. They might ask, why doesn’t the Congress come up with the authority?

But that’s not likely either, because now they’re moving in to negotiations, and even before the negotiations, there was a request for the authority to use military force because they were still using the authority to go after those who were responsible for 9/11. But they live outside the law, so they’re not going to do that. I don’t think the Congress is going to react and say, “This is what we gave you the authority to do”, I think it’s still going to be this mishmash. But, in the mean time, if there’s less fighting and killing and there are negotiations going on, that is certainly better than the acceleration of the military forces.

Daniel McAdams:: Let’s not forget, there are some significant political changes happening in Europe right now, the German regional elections over the weekend produced an anti-Merkel result. So I think the citizens of Europe are frustrated with their leaders who kowtow to the U.S. and NATO all the time. In this sense, the Putin move maybe a very clever propaganda ploy to win over the citizens of Europe, to pressure their leaders to step back from Washington’s neo-con games.

Ron Paul: I think that last point you made, Daniel, is probably very, very significant, because Europe is in turmoil. The European Union is about to break up, and it is related to what’s going on in the Middle East and the refuges flowing in. Also, it’s related to economic policies of these various countries where it creates poverty and they don’t like their dictatorships and they’re vulnerable to outsiders like us coming in and saying, “We’re going to help you with your rebellion against your government”. Those conditions are up for grabs right now, but on top of all, I believe our whole country in particular, and the whole world, is facing the disintegration of a philosophy of globalism, and also the philosophy of Keynesian economic policy, which has failed. Just like communist and socialist economics always fail, we’re seeing this failure.

I think all this is part of a big change that we’re in the middle of, and also the reason you don’t see anybody talking about it and they come up with no answers, they’re not touching on it, they’re fighting among themselves instead of struggling and debating the ideas of what economic policy and monetary policy and foreign policy has brought us to the brink. But no, it’s boiled down to a lot of bickering and a talking about, “I can run things better than you can run things”, and, “I’m a tougher guy than you are”. I don’t see any answers there whatsoever, but I do see an answer coming, because the system we have is going to fall apart and it’s going to give an opportunity to those of us who believe in individual liberties and free markets and property rights, because that offers a chance for us to change the conditions of the world and bring about a much better opportunity for peace and prosperity, which are obviously the goals we seek.

I want to thank everybody for tuning in today to The Liberty Report, and please come back soon.