Russia's Response: Scale Back
Assad has reportedly told his Russian allies he will have to kill 30,000 Syrians in a massive military crackdown to end the "plot" against his regime. Russia's response: reduce the projected carnage--scale back to maintain Moscow's backing. Click here for the report.
Russia knows that the world has changed since Assad's (Alawite) father massacred thousands of (Sunni) Islamists who tried to overthrow him. The pressure for another NATO intervention under humanitarian (Responsibility to Protect) cover is increasing daily. The Syrian dictator has no intention of ending up like Ghaddafi, or Saddam Hussein, or Hosni Mubarak. Assad intends to make good on his threat to start a war with Israel by bombarding it with missiles and maybe, even, with chemical warheads, if that is what it will take to survive, in his view.
Absent a total disintegration of the Syrian army and security services, a Libyan scenario seems unavoidable--with terrible consequences. The Obama administration clearly wants a so-called moderate Islamist regime to take power in Syria. Iran is bent on preventing that from happening. Russia wants to preserve its Syrian port naval facility--and annual arms sales to Syria valued at about $1 billion.
Besides, international politics is about power, more than anything else. The prospect of a U.S.-led, Cold War-era, anti-Russian alliance effectively invading and occupying Russia's remaining Cold War-era Arab ally is too threatening--and too humiliating--for the Kremlin to accept.
Given the nature of modern warfare, the war that is likely to erupt in Syria--and engulf the Middle East--will mainly affect civilians. Children will die--disproportionately so--because of the failure of diplomacy to preserve the peace and the inability of policymakers in Moscow and Washington to think and act like statesmen (and stateswomen) rather than like politicians, who aim to cater only to their constituencies and are thus incapable of putting themselves in the shoes of their adversaries for purposes of preventing conflicts and solving problems.
Considering, too, that the Cold War formally ended two decades ago, that radical Islam threatens both the U.S. and Russia, and that the U.S. sits atop awesome, untapped energy resources--including enough onshore oil and gas to achieve energy independence and make Middle Eastern oil irrelevant--relations between the two great powers should be at an all-time high. The Obama administration's "reset" should have been a slam-dunk. Instead, the opposite is true … and the whole subject of U.S.-Russia relations is inexplicably ignored by fawning, pro-Obama (and pro-Islamist) media outlets and, even more inexplicably, by the GOP White House hopefuls.
Henry Kissinger must be terribly disappointed; his old boss, Richard Nixon, must be turning in his grave.
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