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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Ross Douthat, "Spain Yesterday, Syria Today": Awaiting a Putin Cost-Benefit Analysis

Ross Douthat, in an interesting New York Times op-ed entitled "Spain Yesterday, Syria Today," compares the current conflict in Syria with the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War. Douthat's conclusions:

"If the war in Spain previewed an era of totalitarian aggrandizement, the war in Syria has exposed the essential hollowness of so-called nation-states, the ease with which ethnic and religious furies can take over when they crack.

If the war in Spain was a proving ground for eastern front-style total war, the war in Syria is a training ground for Paris-style terrorists.

If the war in Spain ushered in a decade of vast militaries on the march, the war in Syria is giving us civilians on the march — the movement of refugees as a geopolitical crisis.

If the war in Spain demonstrated that Hitler and Stalin were happy to step in when a liberal center failed to hold, the war in Syria demonstrates that the Pax Americana is cracking and no power or alliance is remotely prepared to take its place.

If the war in Spain was a dress rehearsal for World War II — well, the truth about Syria is that it’s probably not a rehearsal for anything. It’s the main event, and nobody can foresee when it will end."

Well, I think his list is incomplete.

The war in Syria is illustrating the hollowness of the artificial boundaries fixed in 1916 by France and Britain pursuant the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, albeit a century after this agreement was signed. It is also letting us know that 30 million stateless and oppressed Kurds, residing in Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran, can no longer be ignored.

The war in Syria is highlighting the decline of American credibility and deterrent power under a narcissistic president who is convinced that he is smarter than his advisors. Can US credibility and deterrent power be restored beginning in January 2017, or, like Humpty Dumpty, are the pieces irretrievably shattered and scattered?

The war in Syria is demonstrating to Iran that its forces, even with the backing of Russia from above, are anything but omnipotent. The battle for Aleppo has dealt Iran one heck of a bloody nose.

The war in Syria is also proving to everyone (with the exception of Sweden's moronic foreign minister, Margot Wallström, who linked the Paris attacks to Palestinian despair) that Sunni-Shiite enmity trumps Islamic hatred of Israel.

Nobody can foresee when the war in Syria will end? In this instance, I disagree with Douthat. The war will end when Putin realizes, after shoving his enormous ego aside and engaging in a painful cost-benefit analysis, that it does not serve his best interests to continue to prop up the Assad regime and remain allied with Iran and Hezbollah. His involvement in the Syrian conflict went unopposed by Obama, who naïvely believed that Putin intended to attack the Islamic State and not Western-backed rebels, and a new, tougher American president could help Russia's president realize the error in his ways that much sooner. After all, Vladimir has not forgotten the First and Second Chechen Wars, or, for that matter, Russian involvement in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, Putin is currently incensed with Turkey and is in no mood to backtrack or compromise.

1 comment:

  1. about the Kurds; territorial integrity of nation states; Sunnis, Turkmen, Yazidis, other Kurds, teamUSA, some actual depth:

    no sign of a Russian Federation change in UNGA voting when it is about Israel:



    The Syrian Golan (A/70/L.17)
    Extract: “Determines once more that the continued occupation of the Syrian Golan and its de facto annexation constitute a stumbling block in the way of achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region.”


    105 in favor
    6 against (Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States)
    56 abstentions

    [guess Hezbollah wants the Golan oil wells...]