Radio Sputnik discussed this with George Szamuely, a political analyst and the author of "Bombs for Peace: NATO's Humanitarian War on Yugoslavia."
George Szamuely: As you know, there were three tweets. We had the first tweet, which was the extremely belligerent one. Then he tweeted out something that sounded very like his message on 2016 about the need for good relations with Russia. And then we had the third tweet in which he blamed poor relations with Russia exclusively on the democrat, the Russian collusion campaign that's been waged against them by the media and the Democrats. So you have a kind of medley of views that it's very hard to discern anything coherent from them.
Sputnik: Russia noted that the missile strike by the US can destroy all evidence of chemical weapons used in Syria. Do you think this is the main aim of the United States? Why is Washington so rushing with this forceful response?
George Szamuely: One of the aims, I mean without question, but that has become very tricky because the Russians have put down a marker and they've already sent military police to Douma to secure the site.
So any attack on Douma in order to destroy the evidence would likely lead to Russian casualties that would certainly trigger some kind of Russian response. I think the aim all along has been not so much to attack Syria, but to attack Russia. I mean this is what it's really been about; this is simply a proxy in order to attack Russia. This is a longstanding campaign, the campaign over the election interference.
Then we have the whole story of the Skripals, totally absurd, concocted nonsense. Then we had the diplomat expulsions. And then we had some sort of vitriol, the extraordinary vitriol directed at Russia for no good reason by London and by Washington. And now we have this absurd response to a clearly fabricated incident with alleged chemical weapons.
Sputnik: Do you agree with Moscow's position that the incident in Douma was staged, that there was a false flag attack?
George Szamuely: It seems very likely. When you think of it that Moscow has been warning for weeks now that there will be some kind of a fake incident designed to bring in the United States militarily on the side of the Islamists, they've been warning this repeatedly. It's very hard now to turn around just on the brink of defeat and believe their nonsensical story, that somehow Assad launched a chemical weapons attack exclusively on children. It makes absolutely no sense.
The alternative story, which is the one that Moscow suggesting, that this was a fake in order to bring in the United States seems much more plausible given the vehement reaction of the US, Britain and France and their immediate resort to threatening force. We know that the intelligence services are very closely aligned with the White Helmets.
The White Helmets were there in Eastern Ghouta, they've been filming these fake rescues, fake chemical weapons attacks now for months, I mean YouTube is full of them. The White Helmets are financed by the Western government and work actively with the Western intelligent services.
Sputnik: How high are the chances that we may see a possible US-Russia confrontation in Syria?
George Szamuely: Well, I think chances are quite high. I mean that if he does launch an attack I think it's going to be very hard for Russia not to respond. Russia rightly now sees this as an attack on itself, it's not an attack on Syria. So even if the Russian and American joint chief of staff is just talking and the Americans may be just suggesting to the Russians: "Look, we're not going to hit you, we are just going to hit a few airfields like we did last year, knock off maybe a few Syrian planes and then we just go away. So, please, let us do this, we'll save face, we promise in future we're going to get on and cooperate in Syria." Even if such an offer is now being made to the Russians, I don't think the Russians are gonna buy it. Too much water under the bridge.
Sputnik: Mr. Szamuely, what about traditional US allies, such as Britain and France which said that they will consider a missile strike on Syria? What can we expect from them?
George Szamuely: I think that they will probably go along with it. I don't know to what extent they will actually launch missiles themselves. I think they're probably there to provide moral support for the Americans. In most of these joint military endeavors, it's been the Americans who've done most of the heavy lifting. So I think they'll be just there to provide some decoration for the Americans.
Sputnik: Now US President Donald Trump recently said that the United States will withdraw from Syria very soon after this incident in Douma. How likely that this will happen?
George Szamuely: I don't think so at all. I think that whole thing was completely nonsensical. There's a long tradition of the United States pretending that they're the reluctant imperial power, they always suggest that they want to get out of this country or that country, we want to withdraw ... just get on with our domestic affairs, rest on our laurels, we don't want to get involved, but somehow we're always been pulled back by the bad guys.
Views and opinions expressed by George Szamuely in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.