Great Idea to Stabilize Syria: Give Russia More Power

The amazing thing about highly educated and truly stupid people is that they are unconstrained by history or logic because they are playing six-dimensional tiddlywinks while you, you stupid prole, are playing checkers. A great example of this appears in today’s New York Times. It comes from a guy named Joost Hiltermann who works at the International Crisis Group (ICG). Hiltermann is rather unimportant but the ICG is an influential organization and its head is Rob Malley. You may remember Malley from the Obama Administration:


Prior to rejoining Crisis Group, first as Vice President for Policy and since January 2018 as President & CEO, Robert Malley served in the Obama administration as Special Assistant to the President, Senior Adviser to the President for the Counter-ISIL Campaign, and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region. He also served as Special Assistant to President Clinton for Arab-Israeli affairs and Director for Near East and South Asian affairs at the National Security Council.

Malley is a guy who had his fingers in all the foreign policy triumphs of that administration. The overthrow of Qaddafi, the Arab Spring, giving Egypt to the Islamists, Benghazi, the abandonment of Iraq, pushing Iran to be a regional power, creating the war and genocide and refugee crisis in Syria and Iraq, the abandonment of Israel, the founding and rise of ISIS…hell, the list of brilliant moves is endless.

The article is headlined Who Can Prevent a War Between Israel and Iran? Russia:

The greatest danger lies in the south, along the armistice line that divides Israel and Syria. Recent tit-for-tat attacks between Israel and Iran and its allies have raised the risk of escalation. In February, only a phone call from President Vladimir Putin of Russia to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel induced Israel to call off further airstrikes against Syrian government and Iranian targets after an Iranian drone invaded Israeli airspace. More recently, Israel piggybacked on international outrage over an apparent regime chemical attack to carry out a second round of strikes, reportedly killing 10 Iranian military personnel and several others at a Syrian airfield. Iran vowed to respond, and is likely to do so at a time of its choosing. This is a game of chicken that could easily spiral out of control.

As Mr. Putin’s intervention in February showed, Russia is ideally placed to prevent an outright war between Israel and Iran across Syria’s smoking remains. Unlike the United States, Moscow has strong working relationships with nearly everyone: Tel Aviv as well as Tehran, Damascus as much as Ankara, and Hezbollah to boot. And Russia has an overriding interest in preventing a war in Syria between Israel and Iran, if only to preserve its own gains, starting with Mr. Assad’s survival.

But is Russia able and ready to play this role? The best way to prevent a confrontation between Iran (and Hezbollah) and Israel would be to establish a communications channel for all parties directly with the Kremlin and Russian military. Mr. Putin, though, might not have much interest in this kind of proactive measure when he can currently magnify his personal role by simply picking up the phone to defuse a crisis.

One is de-escalating the Syrian war. This may no longer lead to a political settlement involving the opposition, given the rebels’ waning fortunes, but Russia would need a degree of stability to be able to declare victory and reduce its military footprint. This is why Moscow supplanted the moribund United Nations-led Geneva peace process with talks it initiated early last year in Astana, Kazakhstan, with Iran and Turkey. Russia chose to foster this process because it realized that Mr. Assad, weakened by years of fighting, cannot win a battlefield victory or hope to survive without continuing military assistance, much less govern a country he destroyed.

Mr. Assad’s profound weakness and Russia’s need for stability may provide leverage to the United States and Europe, whether through stabilization and reconstruction funds, which Russia and Iran lack, or by playing the spoiler role. An open-ended American military deployment in eastern Syria and its ability to keep large sections of the country beyond Damascus’s control are providing significant leverage. Yet this is a dangerous card to play, as it leaves open the possibility of a superpower confrontation.

A second area of potential cooperation is de-escalating surging tensions between Israel and Iran. Here, the Trump administration could support Russia-led mediation, but this would require not only active engagement with Moscow but also an altogether different approach toward the Syrian government’s other ally: Iran. If the United States pulls out of the nuclear accord, as it appears set to do by the May 12 deadline, it will put itself on a path of military confrontation with Iran.


The stupid here is so thick you can cut it with a knife.

Practically, there will be no war between Israel and Russia. Russia simply does not have the power projection capability to confront Israel in Syria. Israel’s armed forces, in particular, its air force, are much better trained, equipped and motivated than anything Russia has to offer. To get an idea of what the Russian military can do, look at how the Red Army, which was infinitely better equipped and led than the Russian Army, performed in Chechnya against and sub-Third World military. Russia knows this. Russia knows that if “war” broke out its fleet base at Tartus would be destroyed and the Israeli air force can generate sufficient sorties to kill as many planes as Russia can send into theater.

Politically, this is simply grotesque. There is zero reason for us to raise Putin’s political profile. There is less reason to let the Arab world think we are subcontracting our Middle East policy in the same way we relied upon Russia to be our interlocutor in the negotiations with Iran.

This is simply Obama foreign policy of “leading from behind” recycled as something new. It was stupid to use the Russians as our partner in the past. It is even more stupid in the future. Beyond that, even were the idea good, the Democrats, #TheResistance, and the NeverTrumpers have so thoroughly poisoned the well that the Trump administration has no flexibility to deal with Russia in any constructive way.


But if you want an insight into what a Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden foreign policy would be, take this bullsh** seriously.



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