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September 30, 2015

Russia Begins Bombings In Syria

Turns out the Russians didn't send troops and aircraft to Syria for a fall vacation.

Russia has conducted its first airstrike in Syria, near the city of Homs, a senior U.S. official told CNN on Wednesday .

...

"We see some very sophisticated air defenses going into those airfields. We see some very sophisticated air-to-air aircraft going into these airfields. I have not seen ISIL flying any airplanes that require SA-15s or SA-22s (Russian missiles). I have not seen ISIL flying any airplanes that require sophisticated air-to-air capabilities," Gen. Phillip Breedlove, NATO's supreme allied commander, said on Monday.

"I'm looking at the capabilities and the capacities that are being created and I determine from that what might be their intent. These very sophisticated air defense capabilities are not about ISIL. They're about something else," he concluded.

Yes, it's about keeping us out of Syria. The whole point of the exercise is to save Assad's regime (whether or not that means saving Assad personally is to be seen).

I know people are upset about this and think Obama should have done something.

Here's my question...what's that something entail?

Mostly they will say we should have created a no-fly zone. Ok. And we'd do something that would help the al-Qaeda rebels and ISIL forces why?

The Russian advantage in Syria is that they have an ally there. They are happy to save Assad. He's a long time client and the Russians want to keep access to the naval base at Tartus.

Our position in Syria was limited because no matter how many sides there are in the Syrian civil war, and there are many, none of them help us. No matter which side we came in on, we'd be helping an enemy of ours. There simply is, and never was, a moderate side in Syria which if they'd won, would improve our standing in the region.

Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other Arab allies want Assad gone but are unwilling or unable to do it themselves. They would have been happy to see Assad go and let us deal with the ruins of Syria. While that was generous of them, it was an untenable position for us.

We need to have a more realistic vision of American power. Yes, we can knock any regime off we want anywhere in the world. What we're not very good at, because it's impossible to be good at, is building civil societies in the Mideast and Muslim nations like Afghanistan.

It's a conundrum that's going to take creative strategic thinking to find a path between "do nothing" and "bomb/invade all the places". I'm not sure that path exists but unless we start looking for it, we're never going to find it.

Until then we can enjoy the spectacle of Russia and Iran getting bogged down in the mess that Syria is and will be for a good long while. Remember the Soviet experience in Afghanistan in the 80s? That didn't turn out well for the regime. And with mounting casualties from their Ukraine operations, Vladimir Putin may be overplaying his hand. We should do what we can to make the price he pays for his adventures, like providing lethal aid to the Ukrainians, as high as possible.


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posted by DrewM. at 10:01 AM

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