Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Russia and the US are Wrong in Syria

The United States is wrong in Syria, and the Middle East in general. Wrapping naked ambition in the cloak of national interest only serves to accentuate the gross abuse of power it wields there. There is no recognizable high ground, or moral imperative, that the US can trot out to justify its flagrant disregard for the rules of international law and state craft. It has to be said, and it must be said by people of good conscience, that the US is behaving like a barbaric, unrestrained colonial empire from the pages of our world's darkest history.

Having covertly, but obviously, supported the Islamic State in its attempt to overthrow the Assad government in Syria, the US now finds itself in the position of "Plan B". Plan B means upping its support for the Kurds to split Syria in half while green lighting Saudi Arabia and its allies into a coalition directly opposing Iran. In other words, having failed to overthrow Assad, the US is now aiming to make the new battlefield Iran itself. The newly named Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia said as much when he stated the upcoming battlefield would be in Iran and not in Saudi Arabia. In effect, the US has established Saudi Arabia as the attack dog of the Middle East.

Saudi has been very aggressive in its war of regional influence with Iran over the last year. It invaded Yemen after to counter an Iranian-friendly Houthi uprising deposed the Saudi-friendly president of the country. It led an "Arab NATO" exercise of 350,000 troops aimed directly at invading Syria. It has just recently led an economic and geographic blockade of the Iranian-friendly Qatar. On and on it goes. Essentially, the US is now employing Saudi directly in the region, which means Iran will become even more involved in the region, and so it goes. Bottom-line is this, the US is escalating the world's path to war in the Middle East like a child playing with matches in the fire works factory.

This is not a case of Iranian aggressive action against its neighbors. Nor is it the case that Russia is attempting to physically extend its influence or power in the region. The battle ground in Syria is an excellent case in point. The US and its allies were not invited by the Syrian government to militarily intervene in the conflict there. Prior to the Islamic State's armed insurrection in Syria the country was firmly in the grip of Russian and Iranian influence. That was the status quo, and has been for decades. There was no attempt by Syria to expand its influence. In fact, years before, Syria completely withdrew its military from Lebanon. In other words, there were no grounds for any country becoming involved militarily on Syrian soil.

Israel, which has up to recently been fairly prepared to remain on the sidelines while its enemies killed each other, has become more and more involved in the regional fight. Its air force has conducted numerous attacks on the Syrian army in the last year with apparent impunity. Furthermore, and in a sign of things to come, its ministers have made comments insinuating a coming invasion of Lebanon to take on Hezbollah - another Iranian ally in the region. Hezbollah has not been conducting any military assaults on Israel, but it has been an invited military ally of Assad in the current conflict.

It is a fair conclusion that prior to Russia's direct military intervention in Syria, with Iran and Hezbollah in tow, that the US, Israel, and Saudi were prepared sit back and covertly support the various Islamic militant groups that were tearing Syria apart. However, after the Russian led alliance stopped, and then reversed, theses groups battle field successes, all bets were off. It is all a matter of record now. No imputation of fact or speculation is required.

While the US has grossly abused its power and position to drive the world to the brink of war, the Russians are not without fault - just for the opposite reason. The Russians have been far too uncommitted for a country that purports to lead the bloc which seeks a multi-polar world. Russia is failing both Syria and its vision of a multi-polar world by not forcefully coming to the aid of an ally in crisis. By the way, China could also be included in that criticism. Both Russia and China have very large militaries, and both have the capacity to employ those forces far from home. Before now, well before now, the Russians should have deployed forces on a divisional level to assist in the destruction of militant groups in Syria.

Unfortunately, for regional and world stability, the Russians have decided to give Syria piece meal assistance rather than decisive support. Instead of a division or two of Russian troops rolling over the militant groups, and ending the war there swiftly and decisively, the Russians committed some air force support, but left control of the ground to Syria's army and Hezbollah. A minimal risk scenario for Russia, but not the actions of a world power intent on creating a multi-polar world. In effect, a timid response. That has left the door open to the US on the ground in Syria, and the US has taken advantage of that.

Less than a year ago there were essentially no US forces on the ground in Syria. Today the US has established at least one base, if not more, in Kurdish held Eastern Syria. Ditto for the southern border of Iraq and Syria, where the US has now established a base with missile artillery that has an effective range of 300 km. Now, instead of the Russians having to simply rid Syria of militant ground forces, they must engage American forces directly to free Syria from uninvited guests. The prospect of having to engage US forces that have invited themselves onto Syrian territory raises the spectre of a Russian-American direct conflict.

Make no mistake, the current crisis in Syria and now the Middle East in general, is as much a fault of Russian inaction as it is of US intervention. This cannot be overstated. The Americans no longer take Russian threats over Syria seriously, because Russia has failed to adequately respond to US and Israeli strikes against the Syrian armed forces. The US and Israel have been able to impose military action upon a key Russian ally with no consequences whatsoever. This is where the blame for Syria's destruction and the danger for our world meet. A habitually aggressive superpower vs a habitually over cautious superpower creates an imbalance that leads to conflict on a global scale. Russia by its lack of serious military commitment in Syria is for all intense and purposes appeasing the US, and in doing so emboldening the US to go ever further with its plans for the Middle East - and the world in general.

The only solution for the crisis of balance we face in the world is for the Russian and Chinese governments to become resolute in their responsibilities as world powers. That doesn't mean Russia and China should become overly aggressive with their militaries,  but a minimum requirement of a super power is to safeguard its weaker allies against the aggressions of another state - particularly another super power state. If Russia and China fail to take decisive action in Syria, and force the Americans out by facts on the ground, it won't be long before we will have the following wars: an Israeli invasion of Lebanon; a Saudi led war on Iran; and God knows what from there. The Russians and Chinese have a responsibility to act so this does not occur - for the world's sake. Balance in world affairs, in line with the rule of international law, must be restored to this place we call home, or the natural consequence may be that none of us have a home anymore. 



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