As the Guerrilla Economist observed in the tweet above Exceptionalistan is not used to having its impotence when it comes to saving its jihadist proxies exposed to the world. Nor will it forgive the Russians for squarely accusing them without the previous caveats of sponsoring jihadist terrorists, including the Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. Furthermore, it would appear as the Establishment panic sinks in along with Hillary's shriveling turnout among traditional Democratic constituencies like blacks in Ohio or Florida, that the urgency to do something in Syria or perhaps Ukraine is rising in the twisted minds of the dirty Deep State.
The problems with what the neocon crazies in Washington may be about to attempt are manifold, and we have described them in Friday's Syraq SITREP 4 and many other pieces. When it comes to political will, there is a chasm between the Russian people, who are conservatively estimated to be 80% united behind Putin in opposing Washington's bullying short of nuclear war -- and Americans who can barely find Syria on a map being browbeaten into supporting yet another Mideast adventure. Only this time an assault with far graver risks than the invasions of Iraq or Libya, due to their being a technological peer level competitor and nuclear armed great power in the way. As Zerohedge contributor Mike Krieger writes, citing Reuters stenography of White House threats to do something:
If the nightly news which hardly anyone under 50 watches in America anymore leads off with the horrors of east Aleppo civilians under Russian and Syrian air force bombardment, what it does not do is admit the slightest possibility that American intervention would cost more than planes and pilots. It would also risk perhaps the most intangible and fragile of things still propping up Exceptionalistan's Empire of Chaos: the aura of U.S. military invincibility that was painstakingly constructed during the Reagan and Bush 41 years after Vietnam. Because while the U.S. military is indeed capable of bombarding the 6,000 strong Russian contingent in Syria and clearing Russian jets from the skies, it isn't clear that it could do so without losing scores of aircraft and with 100s of American soldiers on the ground from Syria to Iraq getting killed by massive Russian and Iranian retaliation.
As my friend The Saker reports:
What The Saker touches on only incidentally in his commentary on how U.S. NATO allies like Germany or Italy if not France would opt out of such a completely illegal under international law act of aggression is the Russia Analyst's main point: the question of will. Meaning Americans have been conditioned with the possible exception of the Iraq occupation to expect low casualty wars in which U.S. airpower reigns supreme and no sacrifices are demanded of them, thanks to an all-volunteer force. They are not ready for a war in which U.S. AEGIS ships thought untouchable get sunk in the eastern Med by ultra-quiet Russian Kilo class subs in retaliation for the sinking of the Admiral Kuznetsov, or even at a lower level badass American special forces looking up and realizing the jets and drones overhead are not friendlies and are dropping bombs on them. Nor are Americans prepared to find out weeks later that dozens of American servicemen and CIA agents who weren't officially in eastern Ukraine cities like Mariupol or Kharkov got incinerated by Russian air strikes in retaliation for Russian soldiers killed by American bombs in Syria.
In other words, the American people psychologically are not ready for war despite the massive propaganda blitz we've been seeing over the past few weeks of 'Russian hackers' and 'Russian aggression'. Add to that the fact that Vladimir Putin his recent interview with Bloomberg editor in chief Adrian Micklethwait hinted at a second Cuban Missile Crisis, and it's very likely the Russian contingent at Kheimmim could be bolstered with tactical nuclear weapons. We now know since the end of the first Cold War that the Soviet nuclear missiles and a few thousand Red Army troops in October 1962 also were accompanied by several dozen tactical nuclear warheads to defend themselves and Cuba from a massive American invasion.
Contrast this with the fact that most Americans are still thinking about economic problems, the 2016 election, or SEC or NFL football televised this weekend to what the many millions of Russians who still watch Pervy Kanal/1st Channel are being told: the Americans have gone crazy and are threatening to kill Russian soldiers and to send terrorists to kill YOU IN RUSSIA, perhaps as suicide bombers on the Moscow or St. Petersburg Metro. Watch the English subtitles on the following RU TV clips translating Kirby's threatening remarks into Russian to see what we mean:
Thanks to the remarks of Gen. Dunford which silenced the loudmouthed idiots of the Senate Armed Services Committee the other day, we still believe the rabid neocons and nitwits on Capitol Hill are bluffing about a no fly zone. The U.S. military is extremely reluctant to even try, judging by Dunford's testimony stating about a war with Russia, "That's certainly not a decision I'm going to make". The Russia Analyst and long-time RogueMoney readers may recall the Joint Chiefs under then CJCS Martin Dempsey being on the verge of mutiny, after Obama demanded that they draw up contingency plans for heavy strikes following the August 2013 East Ghouta false flag sarin gas attacks.
Today Russian electronic jammers (aka their battlefield 'off switch' capable of shutting down American radars and crashing inbound Tomahawk missiles) air defenses and fighter presence in Syria is far more formidable than anything Moscow could hastily deploy to the Levant in 2013. On top of that, there is a strong possibility if a U.S. attempt to impose a partial no fly zone is forestalled during Obama's lame duck period, that it won't happen at all due to China overtly sending SAMs or People's Liberation Army troops to stand alongside their Russian allies in Latakia.
Iran also has the S300 batteries it recently purchased from Russia capable of data-linking to Moscow's more powerful S400 as well as latest generation BUK and Pantsir point defense SAMs in an integrated network. Thus by February 2017 not only could there be 12,000 Russian troops and 1,000 Chinese PLAN Marines in coastal Syria, but also more Iranian air defense crews and systems who will fire on U.S. aircraft -- even if Russian or Chinese units would try to avoid this until the last moment.
What is clear from Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov's remarks made this weekend is that any unofficial American combatants (read: al-CIA and MI6-eda types) not clearly wearing uniforms or identified as accompanying Kurdish SDF forces are fair game for Russian missile strikes and the Russians won't be held responsible for killing them if the U.S. has them operating alongside Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists. Recall that one of the most active Russian aircraft in the skies high over Syria of late has been the Tupolev 214 airliner bristling with electronic sensors designed to detect and triangulate the locations of enemy units -- a Russian counterpart to the U.S. JSTARS aircraft on a Boeing airliner frame.
One of the prime targets of the TU214R will be identifying any native English speakers on radios used by the Nusra or ISIS terrorists who may be identified as (post)Western intelligence officers or their Western passport carrying assets -- especially in and around the Aleppo battlefield directing shipments of arms and jihadist counterattacks (the Chinese contingent at Kheimmim may also want the RuAF to target CIA asset Uiyghir commanders using similar means). The TU214R ELINT planes, low earth orbit signals intelligence satellites or human intelligence were the likely means for targeting with Kalibr missiles the location of the suspected U.S./GCC Coalition base supporting the jihadists near the Idlib/Aleppo province boundary and the Turkish border.
The Russians have also updated their rules of engagement to give air defense commanders authorization to shoot down any aircraft -- whether from the American/NATO coalition, Turkish or Israeli Air Forces -- that threatens Russian forces or Russians embedded with Syrian units (for more on that Russian MoD announcement, see the Joseph P. Farrell video at the bottom of this article for more).
Once again, the bad news is the neocons apparently cannot take nyet or defeat for answer in Aleppo. The good news? The neocons do not have as much clout in the Pentagon as they think they do (as proven by the stand down of August/September 2013), and they are vulnerable to prosecution for violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) as unregistered Saudi/Qatari agents (acting as think tank mouthpieces for the 'moderate' GCC funded jihadists, and yes we're looking at you Charles Lister and the Brookings Doha Center) under a Trump Administration. Hence all their screaming about how Trump is Putin's Siberian candidate -- when one finger is pointed at someone else, four fingers are pointing back at them.
As The Saker says Syria in 2016 is a much harder target than Serbia in 1999, Iraq in 1991-2003 or Libya in 2009. the so-called 'white hats' as Bix Weir calls them or at least sane people in the U.S. military want no part of a direct confrontation with Russia or the quagmire of occupying parts of Syria with 'allies' of the 'Free Syrian Army' who hate us as infidel dogs and dream of suicide bombing American troops -- even as they complain of not getting enough MANPADs and TOW missiles from the traitors at the CIA.
All that's left in the next few weeks for the neocons to do is more cyber attacks blamed on Russia, some sort of false flag operation in Ukraine/the Baltics or a provocateured confrontation between American and Russian forces in Syria. God willing, cooler heads will prevail and the professionals of the U.S. and Russian militaries will prevent escalation should such an incident occur this October.