COUNTERING RUSSIAN INTERVENTION IN SYRIA: A COMMENT
"Russia’s only aircraft carrier, laden with fighter jets and flanked by a flotilla of warships, is heading for Syrian waters in the eastern Mediterranean. The way it wheezed through the North Sea — a repair tug in tow and belching black fumes like an old banger — occasioned some merriment, as though it were a parable for a subprime superpower. That mirth is misplaced. These reinforcements to Russia’s air force in Syria will soon be in place. Moscow and its ally, President Bashar al-Assad, have resumed bombing Aleppo after a meaningless pause ended at the weekend. Now President Vladimir Putin is all but telling the world he plans to flatten eastern Aleppo if that is what it takes to crush a five-year-old rebellion — and that there is nothing the US and Europe can do about it. The spotlight of the international media, moreover, has moved to the battle for Mosul in northern Iraq — a historically resonant city, like Aleppo, but one where the US and its allies are confident they can recapture it from Isis. In eastern Aleppo, by contrast, Mr Putin seems to want to face his western adversaries with a replay of the geopolitical and moral conundrum they faced five years ago in Libya, when Muammer Gaddafi’s forces threatened to massacre rebels in their stronghold of Benghazi. That was prevented by Nato action that, in Mr Putin’s view, abused a UN Security Council resolution, bending the no-fly zone remit to carry out regime change.... That might change if there is a bloodbath in Aleppo. But by then it will be too late. Yet the world is looking at another Benghazi moment. Libya’s collapse into chaos after the west walked away has served as an alibi for a standoffish policy towards Syria that has resulted in that country sinking into even deadlier mayhem. There is no alibi for turning a blind eye to atrocity".David Gardner, "The assault on Aleppo is a moral test for the west". The Financial Times. 26 October 2016, in www.ft.com.
"Westerners find it hard to believe that a crisis, such as that afflicting Syria, cannot be stopped. “Surely, someone can and must do something” is the consensus thinking. If the UN has failed to stop it and diplomacy cannot bring it to an end, then the White House must stop the blood letting and use military power to do so. “We just cannot sit back and let this tragedy unfold without doing something.” That is the montra of pundits on TV and commentators on social media. The sad truth is that those hoping for a quick resolution to this crisis are likely to be disappointed. Contrary to expectations, the US is unlikely to enter into war with Russia over Syria. The moral argument for intervention cannot out-weigh the immense risks that the US military would be taking were it to engage in a direct and costly war with Russia. Despite the hawkish rhetoric of Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail, chances are that once in the White House, she will come to the same conclusion about using American military force as President Obama. Real world constraints reduce the chance that US will deploy force in Syria. The Syrian opposition and their backers will be forced to rethink their current path".Ehsani2 "How Will the Syrian Crisis End?" Syria Comment. 10 October 2016, in www.syriacomment.com. One does not need to be either a apologist for the regime of Assad Fils, or for that matter an adherent to the questionable Russian narrative of the war to agree fundamentally with the comments from Syria Comment. The fact of the matter is that for good reasons or bad, Grazhdanin Putin has chosen to nail his colors to the Assad mast. There are of course manifold reasons for Putin's Syria policy and they have been discussed in this column. What cannot be doubted is that the Russian presence in Syria makes an overt American and or Western military intervention `a la Libya a complete non possumus. As the highly pertinent comments in Joshua Landis's online journal state:
"The moral argument for intervention cannot out-weigh the immense risks that the US military would be taking were it to engage in a direct and costly war with Russia".The above fact does not even venture into discussing the issues of whether or not it makes sense from a moral perspective for the Americans and their allies to overthrow Assad. Given the aftermath of the Western military intervention in Libya and Iraq, has been chaos and unmitigated persecution of Christian and other religious minorities. Indeed, I for one have always been highly skeptical of the ideas that overthrowing the Assad regime would usher in a bright new dawn for the benighted people of Syria. With all that being said, the option for the Americans to engage in regime-change has gone forever with Russia's presence in the country. All which merely underlines the dictum of the great Goethe:
"You must conquer and rule / or lose and serve / suffer or triumph / be hammer or be anvil".