Questions to ask President Obama regarding Bashar Al Assad and the Islamic State (ISIS) at a press conference

Below is an excerpt.
Global Research, December 07, 2015
William Blum 6 December 2015
GR Editor’ Note: These are relevant questions formulated by author William Blum, to be addressed to president Obama at a hypothetical press conference...
Which is most important to you – destroying ISIS, overthrowing Syrian president Assad, or scoring points against Russia?

Do you think that if you pointed out to the American people that Assad has done much more to aid and rescue Christians in the Middle East conflicts than any other area leader that this would lessen the hostility the United States public and media feel toward him? Or do you share the view of the State Department spokesperson who declared in September that “The Assad regime frankly is the root of all evil”?

Why does the United States maintain crippling financial sanctions and a ban on military aid to Syria, Cuba, Iran and other countries but not to Saudi Arabia?

What does Saudi Arabia have to do to lose its strong American support? Increase its torture, beheadings, amputations, whippings, stonings, punishment for blasphemy and apostasy, or forced marriages and other oppression of women and girls? Increase its financial support for ISIS and other jihadist groups? Confess to its role in 9-11? Attack Israel?

What bothers you more: The Saudi bombing of the people of Yemen or the Syrian bombing of the people of Syria?

Does the fact that ISIS never attacks Israel raise any question in your mind?

Does it concern you that Turkey appears to be more intent upon attacking the Kurds and the Russians than attacking ISIS? And provides medical care to wounded ISIS soldiers? Or that ISIS deals its oil on Turkish territory? Or that NATO-member Turkey has been a safe haven for terrorists from Libya, Chechnya, Qatar, and elsewhere? Or that last year Vice President Biden stated that Turkish president Erdogan’s regime was backing ISIS with “hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons”?

If NATO had never existed, what argument could you give today in favor of creating such an institution? Other than – as some would say – being a very useful handmaiden of US foreign policy and providing American arms manufacturers with trillions of dollars of guaranteed sales.

Does the United States plan on releasing any of its alleged evidence to back up its repeated claims of Syrian bombing and chemical warfare against the Syrian people? Like clear photos or videos from the omnipresent American satellite cameras? Or any other credible evidence?

Does the United States plan on releasing any of its alleged evidence to back up its repeated claims of Russian invasions of Ukraine in the past year? Like clear photos or videos from the omnipresent American satellite cameras? Or any other credible evidence?

Do the numerous connections between the Ukrainian government and neo-Nazis have any effect upon America’s support of Ukraine?

What do you imagine would have been the outcome in World War Two if the United States had opposed Soviet entry into the war because “Stalin must go”?

Would you prefer that Russia played no military role at all in Syria?

Can the administration present in person a few of the Syrian opposition “moderates” we’ve heard so much about and allow the media to interview them?

Have you considered honoring your promise of  “No boots on the ground in Syria” by requiring all American troops to wear sneakers?

Excerpts from a State Department daily press briefing, November 24, 2015, following the Turkish shoot-down of a Russian plane, conducted by Mark Toner, Deputy Spokesperson:

QUESTION: President Obama said he will reach out to President Erdogan over the next few days.


QUESTION: Did not mention Putin. That really puts you squarely on Turkey’s side, doesn’t it?


QUESTION: You’re saying Turkey has the right to defend itself; President Obama said the same thing. What defense are you talking about? Does anyone think Russia was going to attack Turkey?

MR TONER: Again, I mean, this is –

QUESTION: Do you think so?

MR TONER: Look, I don’t want to parse out this incident. I said very clearly that we don’t know all the facts yet, so for me to speak categorically about what happened is – frankly, would be irresponsible.


QUESTION: Even if you accept the Turkish version that the plane traveled 1.3 miles inside Turkey and violated its airspace for 17 seconds – that’s according to Turkey – do you think shooting down the plane was the right thing to do?

MR TONER: Again, I’m not going to give you our assessment at this point. We’re still gathering the facts.


QUESTION: In 2012, Syria shot down a Turkish plane that reportedly strayed into its territory. Prime Minister Erdogan then said, “A short-term border violation can never be a pretext for an attack.” Meanwhile, NATO has expressed its condemnation of Syria’s attack as well as strong support for Turkey. Do you see the inconsistency of NATO’s response on this?

MR TONER: As to what President Erdogan may have said after that incident, I would refer you to him.


QUESTION: Turkoman forces in Syria said they killed the two Russian pilots as they descended in parachutes.


QUESTION: Turkoman forces are supported by Turkey and are fighting against the Syrian Government, they are part of the rebel force there. Do you consider these rebels to be a moderate force in Syria?


QUESTION: I’m trying – I mean, do you think that everybody has the right to defend themselves?

MR TONER: We’ve said very clearly that people have the right to defend themselves.

QUESTION: Right? Including the Assad regime?


G20 press conference of Vladimir Putin: ISIS oil convoys “stretching for dozens of kilometers”, ISIS funding from 40 countries including G20

Vladimir Putin answered journalists’ questions after the G20 summit.

Vladimir Putin answered journalists’ questions after the G20 summit.
Vladimir Putin answered journalists’ questions after the G20 summit.

On ISIS funding:

We have established that financing is coming from 40 countries, including G20 countries. We discussed this issue.

On ISIS oil trade and how easy it is to strike ISIS:

I also showed our colleagues satellite images and aerial photographs that show very clearly the scale of this illegal trade in oil and petroleum products. You see columns of refuelling vehicles stretching for dozens of kilometres in lines so long that from a height of 4,000–5,000 metres they vanish over the horizon. It really looks more like an oil pipeline system.

On Ukraine’s $3 billion debt to Russia:

Our partners from the IMF have been convincing us that we could accept to restructure Ukraine’s debt of $3 billion, which was to have been paid by the end of next month, the end of this year… We were asked to defer this payment of $3 billion to next year. I said that we are ready to accept a deeper restructuring with no payment this year, a payment of $1 billion next year, $1 billion in 2017, and $1 billion in 2018. But our partners are sure that Ukraine’s solvency will grow and that we can be sure of receiving $3 billion next year. If this is the case, they see no risk in providing guarantees for this credit.

We have asked for such guarantees either from the United States government, the European Union, or one of the big international financial institutions. We hope that this matter will be settled by the start of December this year, given the International Monetary Fund’s work timetable.

If our partners are that certain that Ukraine’s solvency will improve, persuade us that this is so, and believe this themselves, let them provide guarantees. If they cannot provide guarantees, this means that they do not believe in the Ukrainian economy’s future. I think this would not be good for them if this is so, and if they are trying to convince us of something that is not in fact the case, this would not be good for our Ukrainian partners either.

We think that this proposal is a realistic possibility and we see no problems in sharing the risks with our partners.

On fighting ISIS, US-led coalition, and Syrian opposition groups:

Question: Mr President, we frequently hear your western partners accuse Russia’s Aerospace Forces of hitting targets in Syria that are not ISIS, but are so-called moderate opposition groups. Did their opinion change over the course of the summit? What were you feeling during the discussions?

And the second part of the question. The US-led anti-ISIS operation did not succeed in degrading ISIS. What difference do you see between Russia’s actions in Syria and those of the US-led coalition, from a military standpoint?

Vladimir Putin: In general, this criticism was practically not voiced. It’s hard to even criticise us. They tell us, “You’re hitting the wrong targets!” Then we say, “Tell us where we should strike, give us the targets!” But they don’t give them to us. “Then tell us where we shouldn’t hit.” And they don’t tell us that, either. How, then, can we be criticised?

You know, I don’t want to sneer at this. Strangely enough, they have their own reasons for it. And one of them, I will tell you point blank, is that they are afraid to give us a list of territories not to strike, because they fear that this is exactly where we will strike, that we will deceive them. It seems they judge us based on their own notions of decency.

But I can confirm that right now (on the battlefield, so to speak), we have established contacts with some (not all, of course) of the uncompromising, even armed Syrian opposition groups; they themselves asked us not to strike the territories they control. We have reached these agreements and are fulfilling them.

Moreover, this part of the armed opposition believes that it is possible to begin active operations against terrorist organisations – against ISIS first of all – with our support from the air. And we are prepared to provide that support. If this happens, it will mean that President al-Assad’s army on one side and the armed opposition on the other are fighting their common enemy. It seems to me that this can become a good foundation for subsequent work and a platform for political settlement.

…now is not the time to assess who is better or worse, or look for reasons why the previous steps have been more or less effective. Right now, we need to look forward and join forces in the fight against this common threat.

The full press conference on November 16 from

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good evening, friends, ladies and gentlemen,

Before we start these questions and answers, I want to thank the President of Turkey, Mr Erdogan, and all of our Turkish colleagues for the very professional organisation of the G20 summit. They created a very good, trusting and open atmosphere in which to work and discuss the issues that were the whole point of our getting together.

I want to thank Turkey’s people for their welcoming attitude to our work and the help that we received at practically every step.

Question: It would seem that fighting terrorism was one of the summit’s main subjects of discussion. We know that there will be no resolving this problem unless we take more effective steps to prevent the financing of terrorism. Were any concrete measures discussed at the summit? What was the line of discussion on these measures, and did you reach any agreements?

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‘Have you any common sense?’ – Putin confronts BBC journalist’s stupid questions

The excerpt below is from a lengthy press conference given by Vladimir Putin on December 18, 2014.

As Russia Insider remarked at the time:

Two questions, Dear Readers:

Is there any Western leader capable of standing up, without Teleprompter, and answering a mass of questions, some softball, some hostile, for several hours?

Given the recent expulsion of Giulietto Chiesa from Estonia for daring to question the Party Line, do “Western values” even permit Western leaders to be asked question like Simpson’s? [1]

This video has been viewed over one million times.

John Simpson, BBC: Western countries almost universally now believe that there’s a new Cold War and that you, frankly, have decided to create that. We see, almost daily, Russian aircraft taking sometimes quite dangerous manoeuvres towards western airspace. That must be done on your orders; you’re the Commander-in-Chief. It must have been your orders that sent Russian troops into the territory of a sovereign country – Crimea first, and then whatever it is that’s going on in Eastern Ukraine. Now you’ve got a big problem with the currency of Russia, and you’re going to need help and support and understanding from outside countries, particularly from the West. So can I say to you, can I ask you now, would you care to take this opportunity to say to people from the West that you have no desire to carry on with the new Cold War, and that you will do whatever you can to sort out the problems in Ukraine? Thank you!

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much for your question. About our exercises, manoeuvres and the development of our armed forces. You said that Russia, to a certain extent, contributed to the tension that we are now seeing in the world. Russia did contribute but only insofar as it is more and more firmly protecting its national interests. We are not attacking in the political sense of the word. We are not attacking anyone. We are only protecting our interests. Our Western partners – and especially our US partners – are displeased with us for doing exactly that, not because we are allowing security-related activity that provokes tension.

Let me explain. You are talking about our aircraft, including strategic aviation operations. Do you know that in the early 1990s, Russia completely stopped strategic aviation flights in remote surveillance areas as the Soviet Union previously did? We completely stopped, while flights of US strategic aircraft carrying nuclear weapons continued. Why? Against whom? Who was threatened?

So we didn’t make flights for many years and only a couple of years ago we resumed them. So are we really the ones doing the provoking?

So, in fact, we only have two bases outside Russia, and both are in areas where terrorist activity is high. One is in Kyrgyzstan, and was deployed there upon request of the Kyrgyz authorities, President Akayev, after it was raided by Afghan militants. The other is in Tajikistan, which also borders on Afghanistan. I would guess you are interested in peace and stability there too. Our presence is justified and clearly understandable.

Now, US bases are scattered around the globe – and you’re telling me Russia is behaving aggressively? Do you have any common sense at all? What are US armed forces doing in Europe, also with tactical nuclear weapons? What are they doing there?

Listen, Russia has increased its military spending for 2015, if I am not mistaken, it is around 50 billion in dollar equivalent. The Pentagon’s budget is ten times that amount, $575 billion, I think, recently approved by the Congress. And you’re telling me we are pursuing an aggressive policy? Is there any common sense in this?

Are we moving our forces to the borders of the United States or other countries? Who is moving NATO bases and other military infrastructure towards us? We aren’t. Is anyone listening to us? Is anyone engaging in some dialogue with us about it? No. No dialogue at all. All we hear is “that’s none of your business. Every country has the right to choose its way to ensure its own security.” All right, but we have the right to do so too. Why can’t we?

Finally, the ABM system – something I mentioned in my Address to the Federal Assembly. Who was it that withdrew unilaterally from the ABM Treaty, one of the cornerstones of the global security system? Was it Russia? No, it wasn’t. The United States did this, unilaterally. They are creating threats for us, they are deploying their strategic missile defence components not just in Alaska, but in Europe as well – in Romania and Poland, very close to us. And you’re telling me we are pursuing an aggressive policy?

If the question is whether we want law-based relations, the answer is yes, but only if our national economic and security interests are absolutely respected.

We negotiated WTO accession for 19 years or so, and consented to compromise on many issues, assuming that we are concluding cast-iron agreements. And then… I will not discuss who’s right and who’s wrong (I already said on many occasions that I believe Russia behaved the right way in the Ukrainian crisis, and the West was wrong, but let us put this aside for now). Still, we joined the WTO. That organisation has rules. And yet, sanctions were imposed on Russia in violation of the WTO rules, the international law and the UN Charter – again unilaterally and illegitimately. Are we in the wrong again?

We want to develop normal relations in the security sphere, in fighting terrorism. We will work together on nuclear non-proliferation. We will work together on other threats, including drugs, organised crime and grave infections, such as Ebola. We will do all this jointly, and we will cooperate in the economic sphere, if our partners want this.

The transcript and video of the entire press conference are here:


Why the Western media will never show Putin’s three hour press conference

From Russia Insider, December 19, 2015
By Alex Christoforou

Imagine a western leader doing a live, three hour Q&A session with a hostile media?

Could President Obama speak in front of hundreds of journalists for over three hours, unscripted and without a teleprompter? Highly doubtful.

How about Hillary? Can Mrs. Clinton take on the local and international press in an honest, nothing off limits, press Q & A….once again for over three hours and no teleprompter to assist. No chance.

What about John McCain. Could Senator McCain field intelligent questions for over three hours (let alone 15 minutes) without resorting to name calling, warmongering or regime change rhetoric? Please!

Cameron, Hollande, Merkel…no way. European leaders are puppets to US policy and could probably not even string together thirty minutes of independent thought, let alone three hours of live debate.

What we saw today, for the 10th time, is about as transparent as any world leader can get…and western man stream media hates Putin, and Russia for this.

Putin’s tenth annual press conference format, length, and total transparency are all the facts any sane, brain functioning human being needs in order to easily deduce that all the western leader rants and main stream media propaganda about Russian aggression, Hitler comparisons, and dictator aspirations are all flat out lies.

Their is not one dictator on the planet, not one ruler alive today, not one President or Prime Minister in power, who has the balls and guts to sit in front of so many local and international journalists and answer every single question thrown at him or her with just a pen and paper handy.

Putin took questions from Ukrainian journalists, the BBC, Reuters, FT…just about every news outlet that crudely crucifies him on a daily basis, he engaged with in an open and honest debate in front of the whole entire world to see.

Nothing was hidden, and man was it refreshing to watch. If only my President was this open and forthcoming.

What we saw today was exactly why America, Europe, and the entire main stream media cabal despises Vladimir Putin.

The last thing any of the western nations want is transparency and public debate. They prefer to operate in the shadows, keep their citizens fully zombified.  They would never expose their leaders to unscripted events like this tenth annual press conference.

The closest thing western countries have to what we saw today in Moscow is Jen Psaki’s State Department press briefings, which are more stand up comedy, than intelligent discussion.

The west can hate on Putin all they want…until I see Obama, Cameron, or Merkel pull off what this man just did (for the tenth consecutive year in a row) then step off. ‘Haters gonna hate.’



Crowd listens

Obama refuses to rule out arming Kiev following talks with Merkel

The volume increases on the war talk. What will happen in Minsk? Who will pressure Obama to take lethal weapons off his options list, and to admit there has been no Russian invasion of Ukraine?

The White House phone number for making comments is 1-202-456-1111.

From World Socialist Web Site
by Patrick Martin and Barry Grey, February 10, 2015

At a joint White House press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday, President Barack Obama made clear he was considering authorizing the dispatch of advanced weapons to the US- and NATO-backed regime in Kiev, to be used against pro-Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.

Obama indicated that he would wait to see the results of talks set for Wednesday in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, between Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, French President François Hollande and Merkel before making a decision on sending US arms to Kiev. The talks are aimed at brokering a new cease-fire agreement between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists following the collapse of an agreement reached last September.

At the press conference following talks with Merkel, Obama said:

“If, in fact, diplomacy fails, what I’ve asked my team to do is to look at all options. What other means can we put in place to change Mr. Putin’s calculus? And the possibility of lethal defensive weapons is one of those options being examined.”

Obama then added, “I want to emphasize that a decision has not yet been made.”

The US president left open the sending of weapons such as antitank missiles and armored vehicles to the Kiev regime, which has lost territory in the east of the country to rebel forces in recent weeks, despite warnings from prominent officials and some newspapers internationally that doing so could dramatically escalate the conflict and trigger a military conflict between NATO and Russia, with the possibility of a nuclear Third World War.

Merkel and the leaders of Britain and France have made clear in recent days that they oppose a US move to directly arm Kiev. Instead, they call for tougher economic sanctions combined with increased NATO military forces in the Baltic states and Eastern Europe to compel Moscow to accept the transformation of Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, into a staging ground for US and European imperialist moves to reduce Russia to a semicolonial status.

In her remarks, Merkel indicated her opposition to the dispatch of American weapons to Ukraine, saying, “I don’t see a military solution to this conflict.” But she stressed that Europe and the US were united in backing the Ukrainian regime, which came to power last February in a US- and German-backed coup led by fascist militias, and forcing Russia to end its support for pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, Luhansk and other Russian-speaking regions.

“On certain issues we may not always agree,” she said, suggesting that Germany would continue to back the US-led offensive against Russia even if Washington decided to arm the Kiev government.

Obama, for his part, seemed to echo Merkel, saying there “may be some areas where there are tactical differences” while the US and Europe remained united in basic strategy and goals.

US military and civilian officials, including some within the Obama administration, are pushing for a decision to begin sending heavy arms to Kiev. At the Munich Security Conference last Saturday, US Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, NATO’s military commander, said sending weapons to help Ukrainian forces crush the separatists should not be ruled out.

At a Senate confirmation hearing last week, Obama’s choice to become the next defense secretary, Ashton Carter, said he would be inclined to back Ukraine with American arms.

Ukrainian President Poroshenko triggered the latest crisis in eastern Ukraine by ordering an offensive by Ukrainian military forces, including some battalions of neofascist “volunteers.” It is inconceivable that he would have done so without Washington’s approval.

The Russian-backed forces routed the invaders around the Donetsk airport and have pressed a counterattack, taking control of an additional 500 square kilometers of territory and threatening the town of Debaltseve, which sits on the main road between Luhansk and Donetsk. As many as 3,000 Ukrainian troops are trapped in the town and could be forced to surrender.

Washington, NATO, the European Union and the media have portrayed the fighting in eastern Ukraine as a Russian invasion, although the vast majority of combatants are drawn from the Donbass region, where most people are Russian speakers and the government in Kiev is widely hated.

Obama repeated the claims of “Russian aggression” at the onset of his joint press conference with Merkel, saying that “Russian forces continue to operate” in Ukraine, “training separatists and helping to coordinate attacks.”

Last week’s sudden trip by Hollande and Merkel to Kiev and Moscow, setting the stage for Wednesday’s summit in Minsk, appeared to be driven by concern that a US decision to provide billions in weapons to Ukraine was imminent and could escalate the crisis enormously.

A top official of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe told journalists at the Munich conference that he feared weapons deliveries would turn the crisis into an “existential conflict for Russia against NATO.”

Similar concerns were expressed in the American media, albeit by a small minority in the US national security establishment. The New York Times published an op-ed Monday by Professor John Mearsheimer under the headline “Don’t Arm Ukraine,” which asked rhetorically whether the United States would accept Canada or Mexico joining a hostile military alliance.

Even the rabid anti-Russian publicist Anne Applebaum, a Washington Post columnist, expressed concern about “a new World War” emerging from the Ukraine crisis, although she offered the lesser evil of “a new Cold War” in which NATO would “build a Berlin Wall around Donetsk in the form of a demilitarized zone and treat the rest of Ukraine like West Germany.”