United States policy in Syria insists that President Bashar al-Assad must go. But if the U.S. succeeds and the Assad government is scattered to the wind it raises the question: Who will defend the ethnic and religious minorities in Syria from the Islamic State, the al-Nusra Front, and all the other heavily armed homicidal maniacs that already control nearly half the country?
However well intentioned the West is in its goal of removing dictatorships and helping the humanitarian crisis in Syria, its refusal to send troops and aggressively engage militarily can only mean that Russia will continue to have an ally in Syria and will be at the forefront of the war against ISIS.
Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, is making trouble. Big trouble. The United States has been leading a military coalition of some 60 countries in conducting bombing missions inside of Syria against terrorist groups such as ISIS.
Kremlinologists are once again trying to divine Putin's motives. Is he truly out to recreate as much of the Soviet Union as he can?
Putin may be a child of the KGB but he is also a son of mother Russia and he has an uncanny knack for knowing what characteristics Russians want to see in their leaders.
The Oslo Accords and its attendant peace process came into the world with a bang 22 years ago. This past week they exited with a sad whimper.
We may look back on this week as one of the true nadirs in America's post-9/11 efforts to lead the world, a series of events that make the failures of America's shallow strategies, of both Republican and Democratic administrations. It is a particular low point for President Obama.
After a two-year absence from the international stage -- during which the mainstream media dispatched them to the realm of nonexistent entities -- on October 1 the "moderate rebels" of Syria were back. The New York Times said so. Russian attacks were targeting moderates rather than ISIS, a man with a camera was quoted saying; and the Times story by Anne Barnard appeared to confirm his suspicion; even as a companion report on Russian actions in Syria by Helene Cooper, Michael R. Gordon, and Neil MacFarquhar revealed that these are the same moderates who were carefully vetted by the CIA, and concerning whom little was heard ever after. Their numbers are put at 3,000 to 5,000, though the Cooper-Gordon-MacFarquhar article leaves uncertain if that is their original or their present strength.
This week the refugee crisis caused by Syria's horrific civil war moved to the next stage. Though prompted into action to curb the carnage, the U.S. and Russia are at odds over whom to bolster and whom to bomb. With no end to the conflict in sight, the influx of asylum seekers in Europe continues to swell and the prospect of permanent settlement there for the displaced grows. In even the most welcoming countries a political backlash is in the making. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's popularity at home is falling for the first time as compassion reaches its limits. In Sweden, the anti-immigrant right-wing party now tops the polls. (continued)
No world leader sends at least 32 combat aircraft, a couple dozen helicopters, and up to 2,000 advisers into a foreign land in the middle of a civil war if they don't mean business.
The world community possesses the ability to end the abominable war in Syria. The only question is whether it possesses the will to do it.
What is most diabolical about Putin's orchestrated defense of Assad wrapped in an anti-ISIS appeal is how much his brazen assessment is gaining traction in the least likely of places -- western Europe.
This catastrophic funding crisis risks condemning generations of refugees to live in camps indefinitely. If the GCC could match aid for Syrians to the economic assistance it donates to friendly governments, the impact could be huge.
This week the Atlantic Magazine published "The Thucydides Trap: Are the U.S. and China Headed for War?" by Graham Allison. I have a great deal of respect for Graham Allison and he lays out a series of compelling arguments. But I believe he will be proven wrong in this case.
If taking on some of the burden of fighting ISIS simultaneously allows Russia to maintain its single military base in the Middle East, more power to them. And if China wants to waste its money pouring sand onto reefs in the ocean off its coast, American taxpayers derive no benefit from trying to stop them.
The fight against ISIS is not going well. In Iraq, the Obama Administration's declared main theater of the battle, an anti-ISIS military offensive has stalled amid allegations of politicized intelligence.