US-Russian Deal: 'DoD Openly Saying It May or May Not Obey Obama'

© AP Photo / Pablo Martinez MonsivaisPresident Barack Obama, accompanied by, from left, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Vice President Joe Biden, speaks about Afghanistan.
President Barack Obama, accompanied by, from left, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Vice President Joe Biden, speaks about Afghanistan. - Sputnik International
It is a little hard to believe that the US Air Force's attack on the Syrian Arab Army was a mere accident, Professor Stephen F. Cohen noted, warning the US party of war, which is adamantly opposed to any cooperation with Russia, is growing more and more influential in Washington.

The US party of war is "adamantly opposed" to any cooperation with Russia, Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University, remarked commenting on the recent developments in Syria on The John Batchelor Show.

"[What's important to be said is that] the attack on the Syrian forces [in Deir ez-Zor], which the US Air Force admitted that it did do by accident, it said, the attack on the humanitarian convoy headed for the destitute people of Aleppo and in that region (was attacked we don't know about whom)… — these pieces are linked to the [Syrian ceasefire] agreement," Professor Cohen emphasized.

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"The agreement specified that if for seven days the conditions agreed upon were met — and they included a ceasefire in various areas and humanitarian relief to Aleppo — that at the end of seven days something if not historic but exceedingly important would happen: the United States and Russia would join military arms and together wage air war against various terrorists in Syria. The importance of that cannot be overstated," the American academic stressed.

He called attention to the fact that it would be the first real military cooperation between Moscow and Washington since a New Cold War began several years ago. Cohen underscored that it could lead to cooperation elsewhere, including the troubled Baltic region, where NATO is beefing up its military presence, and Ukraine.

However, the US scholar noted, there are forces in Washington which seek to disrupt the US-Russian détente.

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Given the fact that US warplanes knew the Deir ez-Zor region very well and that the US Department of Defense (DOD) had openly expressed its skepticism regarding the US-Russian plan on Syria, it is "a little hard to believe" that the attack on the Syrian Arab Army  was an "accident," Professor Cohen suggested.

He quoted the New York Times editorial, which read that "at the Pentagon, officials would not even agree that if a cessation of violence in Syria held for seven days — the initial part of the deal — the Defense Department would put in place its part of the agreement on the eighth day."

The editorial also referred to Carter, "who has deep reservations about the plan for American and Russian forces to jointly target terrorist groups."

"In other words," Cohen noted, "Pentagon officials refused to say whether they would obey President Obama."

The US academic stressed that in a Constitutional democracy where the military is clearly subordinated to the civilian leadership that is extraordinary.

"We've come to a point in this craziness, in this New Cold War with Russia where DOD is openly saying it may or may not obey President Obama. If DOD will say that publicly you can imagine the opposition in Washington against the Syrian deal, [US Secretary of State John] Kerry brokered with Russian Foreign Minister [Sergei] Lavrov," Professor Cohen highlighted.

The professor remarked that the opposition comprises very influential figures from the Pentagon, the US State Department, both Democratic and Republican parties and the US' mainstream media.

© AP Photo / Virginia MayoThe US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power
The US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power - Sputnik International
The US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power

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He recalled that such a situation is not new: during the previous 40-year Cold War the US party of war had repeatedly thrown a wrench in the Russo-American détente.

Cohen drew historical parallels between the Deir ez-Zor attack and the 1960 U-2 incident, when a US U-2 spy plane was shot down in Soviet airspace. What is remarkable about this historical episode is that it occurred while Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and Dwight D. Eisenhower were seeking a détente. The CIA-led incursion ruined the possibility of the US-Soviet rapprochement, the US professor explained.

Today, while Russia opposes the US neocons' idea of a US-led unipolar world order, the American party of war is determined to do whatever it takes to isolate Russia.

Russian analysts echo Professor Cohen: according to Stanislav Tarasov, Russian expert and head of the Middle East-Caucasus think tank the Deir ez-Zor attack as well as the assault on the UN humanitarian convoy could be the two links in one and the same chain.

Tarasov, the Pentagon could have deliberately tried to undermine the US-Russian deal on Syria.

For his part, Yevgeny Satanovsky, head of the Moscow-based Middle East Institute, expressed doubts regarding the fact that the US-led coalition's airstrike was just an accident. The expert stressed that the attack is likely a reflection of the ongoing struggle between the US military and diplomatic establishments and an attempt by the Pentagon to "show the State Department who's boss."

RIA Novosti political analyst Alexander Khrolenko suggested that some forces are obviously trying to throw the US-Russian Geneva initiative into question and swing the balance in their own favor. He referred to the fact that the US' Middle Eastern partners have recently intensified their activity in the region.

"It seems that a new division of spheres of influence is on the cards, and a diplomatic solution [to the Syrian crisis] is becoming more and more unlikely," Khrolenko assumed.

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