The amorphous international community seems to be drawing together in agreement that the ISIS/ISIL/Caliphate crowd has to go. The jihadist murderers are overrunning country after country and can my beloved Amsterdam be far behind? They’re headed for us and ours, too, and you can put money on it. From within we will be beset, even as we waste our precious resources trying to settle family quarrels around the world and confine the fire to other people’s countries. All our interventions have done is serve as a recruiting tool among the far too numerous offspring of the Moslem world. I’m all for hitting these loathsome creatures wherever we can, but I don’t think we’re going to defeat them overseas.
It’s pretty certain that the US will get another chance to try out the latest military tech by hitting the jihadists in Syria. Maybe we’ll hit a leader or two or three, and you can be sure we will kill a lot of civilians, too. But it all depends on how the US approaches this impending military action that will determine if it will have any success as we now define it. I hope that building this “coalition” means getting people together to fight a common threat within another country with the permission of the government and that it doesn’t mean “coalition against Assad, too.” If we ignore regional realities and rivalries and try to regime change again, this fire is going to have jumped the break. In the meantime, nobody in charge seems too concerned about the deliberately-provoked deluge of the US southern border, which mass migration was sprinkled with a sufficient number of abandoned children to make this into a sob story about poor orphans. Nobody is writing much about all the flotsam and jetsam that washed over the border along with the abused children whose parents got them off their hands. That’s because nobody knows who they are, just ask Immigration or Homeland Security. We won’t know who they are until heads are being cut off in tolerant places like Minneapolis or tunnels are collapsing leading into major cities. Things like that.
So what’s the point of a bombing campaign in which, quite possibly the NATO crowd aka the US will ignore the government of Syria and bomb at will? What if NATO decides not only to bomb away inside Syria, as if the Assad government had already been deposed, but to put “boots on the ground”? What’s a border to NATO, unless it belongs to a NATO member or maybe a non-NATO member seen as cooperative? If NATO does act against ISIS without Assad backing them up, NATO will fail in its ultimate goal, the decimation of ISIS and the mad jihadists. This is a case of shared interests. Are we too blinded by our sense of moral superiority that we can’t see that? If the US does try to use one pretext to take care of other business, it will have blown a great opportunity to get past the pout stage of US foreign policy and onto realpolitik. In the latter world, Assad could be a sort of ally, or as much of one as we have anymore, whom we are not trying to oust or have murdered and with whom we work together to corral those varmints and kill them. It’s easy to be friends. And morally you can justify this course by adding up the numbers of civilians killed by the US and by Syria to point out that the US has a far more grievous record on that score than Syria could even aspire to.
As for Ukraine, wow, that went so fast it took me by surprise. We began with a junta-led military offensive against a civilian population and a separatist faction in eastern Ukraine, under direction of a right-wing defense minister and assisted by neo-Nazi volunteers. Then there was an “election” and Poroshenko was in power, and he wanted to show he was as strong as he looks. He really unleashed the military against civilians, even going so far as to lob short-range ballistic missiles into populated areas with never a peep from NATO or the EU about human rights. Kiev bombed schools and apartment blocks and churches and WWII monuments. Old ladies sleep on cots in damp dark basements that will soon be frigidly cold. Nobody gives a damn. It’s all balance of power and world hegemony.
Kiev was winning the fight, surrounding the terrorists, and NATO membership was just at Kiev’s fingertips. When wham. A sudden turn-around. More soldiers, more and better arms. Russia, without ever putting demonstrable “boots on the ground” in Ukraine, turned back Kiev’s forces. The rout, which was apparently a small demonstration of what could be deployed against Kiev, seems to have convinced everybody that a settlement was a sensible course to pursue.
Russia’s first victory was the inclusion of the separatist leaders in the negotiations in Minsk, for the first time and against Kiev’s protests I am sure. The second victory was tentative agreement, supported by the OSCE, on substantial autonomy in eastern Ukraine. I’d guess the West, particularly Germany and the US, played a role in convincing Poroshenko to give it up. The only end result of heightened military confrontation would be more civilian deaths, more and destabilizing sanctions, and greater likelihood of Russia simply seizing eastern Ukraine. This is the face-saving solution. The Americans and Europeans will say, we brought peace and prevented further Russian penetration. Russia doesn’t need to say anything.
I never did play chess and while the Cold War was rife with intrigue, it was never so open as now. Putin may be the bogey-man for the West, but hopefully they are coming to realize that this isn’t a good case for regime change. Putin is a strong leader, but he’s strong because he capsulizes the sentiments of a nation in its vast majority. It is Russia that is ready to rock, not just Putin. The West went too far in Ukraine, and threatens to do as well in Moldova and Georgia. They should reconsider. It would be very easy to dismember Moldova, with the eastern region ready to go with Russia. In Georgia, Russia might lose its once and no doubt always-beloved neighbor to an enemy alliance, but Georgia will forever cede two sizable territories to Russia.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. What are these national leaders thinking? Is there nobody out there to counsel them the virtues of neutrality, internationally guaranteed with ratified treaties? One in which they trade where they want, but don’t threaten anybody. A status that allows them to eschew military blocs and avoid wasting money on unnecessary military activities. Ask Finland how good neutrality was. They got fat and rich on it. I bet Finland wishes they hadn’t cozied up quite so close to the EU and NATO in these days of sanctions and counter-sanctions.
Neutrality: it’s an unpopular view today, but things change.