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Who’s in Control? Obama or the generals?


US President Barack Obama’s business-like meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit at the weekend belies a spate of bellicose comments made by the Pentagon towards Moscow. So, who is in control: Obama or the generals?
The two leaders held an earnest 35-minute face-to-face discussion on the opening day of the G20 conference in Antalya, Turkey. The gathering of the world’s top 20 economic nations was dominated by the massive terror attack in Paris two days earlier, which claimed at least 129 lives and hundreds more wounded.

Obama’s meeting with Putin – their first since Russia launched its military intervention in Syria nearly seven weeks ago – was described by the White House as “constructive”.

The American president even appeared to welcome Russian airstrikes against terror groups fighting the Syrian government, most prominently Islamic State (IS) jihadists, also known as ISIL.

“As the diplomacy continues, President Obama welcomed efforts by all nations to confront the terrorist group ISIL and noted the importance of Russia’s military efforts in Syria focusing on the group,” said a White House spokesman.

That’s quite a contrast in substance and tone from a speech made by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter only a week before.

In a blustering tirade, Carter labeled Russia a “global threat” in a speech at the Reagan Library in California. He denounced Russia for “nuclear saber-rattling” and “aggression” in Europe and he slammed Putin’s military operation in Syria as “throwing gasoline” on a fire, which, he said, would lead to more terrorism across the Middle East