“No, it’s not a new Cold War. It’s something much more perilous.”

Noah Rothman in Commentary:

Moscow now has a bigger conflict to prosecute, one in which the United States cannot decline to engage. Russia had spent the better part of the last two months paving the way for intervention in the Syrian civil war. Last Monday, that campaign began with a dramatic attack on CIA-armed and trained rebels under the guise of airstrikes on the Islamic State. The United States immediately scrambled to pursue “deconfliction” talks with Moscow, with the singular purpose of establishing military-to-military contacts so that Russian and NATO forces operating in the Syrian theater wouldn’t accidently start shooting at each other. But Russia’s aim is to ignite conflict. Its desire is to prop up the ailing Assad regime and to force NATO assets and its proxies out of Western Syria (and, eventually, out of the country entirely). It is a farce to pursue “deconfliction” when triggering conflict is the whole purpose of this exercise.
[. . .]
In a sense, Obama was correct when he insisted that a new Cold War was not in the offing. The Soviets would have been far more cautious about inviting confrontation with the West and fomenting wars in unpredictable caldrons like Syria. Unlike the Soviets who for much of the country’s existence believed that history’s arc bent resolutely in Moscow’s direction, Putin does not believe that time is a commodity he can afford to spend recklessly. The Russian public is restless and dissatisfied, an extraordinarily malleable American president will soon leave office, and financial pressures have compelled the Kremlin to scale back its already unsustainable military expenditures. All these factors make Russia an even more dangerous actor. It would rather risk a major confrontation with the West now than allow this window of opportunity to close unexploited.

The last paragraph is key. The Obama window of national vulnerability closes in January 2017. Putin and other foreign thugs are all calculating how far they can go in exploiting our current submissiveness without risking a prohibitively severe response from Obama’s successor. The cumulative damage to our interests will be enormous and long lasting and we have not seen the end of it.

Rothman’s piece is worth reading in full.

27 thoughts on ““No, it’s not a new Cold War. It’s something much more perilous.””

  1. Syria is not worth getting into a confrontation over. Though it was a mistake to leave Iraq, now that we’re out it makes no sense to get back into the ME over Syria. It’s always been a Soviet/Russian client. Let them keep it. As Rothman points out, the real threat is in the Baltics and Nato. The proper response is permanent basings in the Baltics and Poland, restart BMD talks. That’s what Carly would do.

  2. Syria is not worth it now. As with Iraq, Obama could have taken action when it was easy. Now it’s too late, the damage is done. Obama has ceded control over a large and strategically valuable part of the world to America’s enemies. That’s bad enough. And by doing so he encourages our enemies elsewhere, which is at least as bad. The next US president will have to deal with a world in which America’s strategic interests have been set back by decades, and this time some of the small countries that we could once ignore or keep at arm’s length will have nukes, and some will have missiles to put them on.

  3. It’s pretty unlikely that the US has a vital interest in Syria. It’s perfectly possible that Russia is about to waste an awful lot of money while making itself more prone to muslim terrorist attacks. Declining to engage might be a wise strategy, even if adopted by the holy fool in the White House.

  4. Not to get crazy but are we still assuming Obama will leave voluntarily when his term is up? He hasn’t honored many other Constitutional requirements.

  5. Syria was never worth it. That’s why Obumble’s red line talk was so dumb. As was leaving Iraq. As was letting Iran get the bomb. As was staying the the “good war” in Afghanistan. But I have a hard time seeing that our strategic interests will have been set back decades by these blunders. The Sauds and Israelis will be happy to have an adult back in the White House in 2017 and the oil will keep flowing.

  6. Oh my, such ignorance. The US is intertwined almost inextricably with the Saudis and their most urgent need to allow Qatar to get it’s pipeline through to Europe. The US would dearly like that, sidelining the Russians, most notably.

    A big part of not sliding into second place is sidelining Russia and having Europe on side in all of this. This is falling apart and Vlad is playing some cards now. The Saudis, emboldened by their new mad king, are talking actual military action to support their “freedom fighters”.

    Should be good. I have a few bets on actual military performance, and I think I may win some of them.

    Already has popcorn. Squeezes another bud.

  7. Syria was never worth it.

    It was worth preventing Putin from inserting his military into the region. That was an Obama own goal. Obama made clear we would take no action, no matter what. Putin will now own a Syrian rump state and have a major military presence in the eastern Mediterranean and perhaps also on the strategic high ground of Iraq. The US is negotiating with Russia regarding overflights, which means we will lose much freedom of action. It’s a big win by Putin at our expense.

  8. I agree with Mrs. Davis.

    1. There is no reason to take sides in Syria. Yes, Assad is a brutal thug. But, his opponents range from the merely evil to the absolutely satanic. If Assad wins, there will brutal reprisals against the Sunni community. If the Sunnis win, they will kill all of the non Sunni populations, including a large Christian community, Druze, Alawites, and other minorities.

    I have long noted that Israel has not taken sides in this war, despite having a lot more at stake than other outsiders.

    I do not see any upside for the US in this conflict.

    Of course, Obama opened his mouth to take sides, and now he can’t cash the check. But, that is not a reason to waste our resources.

    2. I acknowledge that ISIS is partly Obama’s fault, because he pulled out of Iraq untimely. But, It is not our problem right now. Iran and Russia will have to deal with them. The only thing the US can and should do is supply arms, training, and diplomatic support to the Kurds, who are among the very few people in that part of the world who do not hate US, wan who are in direct conflict with ISIS. Yes, it would piss off the Turks, but they are scum, and I don’t care what happens to them.

    3. I would pull all US troops and resources out of Iraq, other than in support of the Kurds. The Shia government is a stooge for Iran, which is still our enemy, even though Obummer can’t believe it.

    4. Obama’s instinct to get out of the Middle East is correct. After the Cold War ended, the only reason to continue to be involved in the area be involved was to keep the oil flowing from the Persian Gulf and to hold its world market price down. That was necessary to protect the US balance of payments. The real answer was found accidentally by the fracking community. The US now produces as much hydrocarbon as it consumes, and is therefor fully hedged against Persian Gulf problems.

    Muslim civilization, such as it was, is in a state of terminal collapse. They are coping with it in the only way they know how, by killing each other. Europeans, during their Imperial era, suppressed this process. The lid is now off and they will go at it full tilt. I see no reason to interfere.

    In the meantime, the US is neglecting areas far more important to our happiness and prosperity. The Gulf of Mexico/Caribbean Basin, the Arctic, and the pacific rim need our attention and resources. Let the Muzzies, do with each other as they wish.

    Just because Hussein was right about the ultimate goals, does not mean that he was right about how to go about it. In short, he was about as far away from right as he could be and still walk the planet. Abandoning the House of Saud, does not mean that we should take the side of their enemy, Iran. In the Middle East, the enemy of our enemy is not only not necessarily our friend, but they may hate us just as much as our enemies do.

    Spending years sucking up to Iran, in order to get some worthless promises that they will $#;+ can as soon as it is convenient in exchange for 150 G$ and a get out of jail free card, was an extraordinarily stupid idea.

    Saying Assad must go and then doing nothing about it just made us look weak and ineffectual. Killing the Duck of Death (Qaddafi of Libya) without a replacement in place just made things worse for all concerned.

  9. Jonathan, Syria has always been a Soviet/Russian client. They could have based troops there any time they wanted. They have a naval base at Tartus and have since 1971. They could have had more any time they wanted. But they didn’t. They couldn’t afford it and it would have only put Russians at risk to no end. The only reason they are there now is to prevent the collapse of their client. This will not end well for Vlad. There is no upside for him. Sure he makes Obumble look like a craven idiot and coward. But that’s not hard to do. The damage to the US will not be lasting, unless we elect another clown. Which actually it does look like we are on the brink of doing, but that’s another thread.

    The Baltics, on the other hand…

  10. The leaders of almost every country in Europe do not want all the refugees they have.

    They realize that for six long years the Obama faction’s policy of “destabilizing” Assad has caused civil war in Syria and an overwhelming, unending stream of angry Christian hating refugees. However Christian morality requires that the Europeans provide food, clothes and shelter to the refugees.

    The European governments want Russia to bring peace to Syria so that the refugees can leave Europe and return to their homeland and rebuild their homes, shops, schools, and hospitals etc.

    The Obama faction argues that Russia is welcome to kill Isis but it should leave the its syrian terrorist allies alone.

    There would be no problem if the Obama faction had simply ordered an invasion Syria 6 years ago with 50,000 troops; captured Assad, put him on trial, hung him, and quickly replaced him with a very obedient government. Total time needed: 1 week. No civil war. No refugees.

    But overthrowing governments by stealth and misdirection is much more fun even if a lot of people die.

  11. “I would pull all US troops and resources out of Iraq, other than in support of the Kurds. ”

    Obama and his minions will not even arm the Kurds who want to fight, It reminds me of the Democrats in the 80s who supported the Sandinistas. This is not the first time the Democrats committed treason on a large scale.

    In Greece in 1948, Truman sent US advisors to help the Greeks repeal Russian backed invasion. The Greeks did the fighting.

    When Bush went into Iraq, we had no allies to do the fighting. The Kurds were not strong enough and the rest of the Iraqis sat on the sidelines and let us do the work. Finally, the Sunnis of Anbar took up our fight and now Obama has abandoned them.

    We will be a generation recovering from Obama. If we can. The French did not recover from the dissension of the 1930s. DeGaulle did some good but it evaporated. Thatcher did some good but it evaporated. Reagan did some good but…

  12. TimL Says:
    October 5th, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    Not everyone makes that assumption, to be sure.

    As far as the current cluster copulation in the Middle East is concerned, not only would it be counterproductive to intervene militarily one the ground at this point; we no longer have the capability to do so, nor the national testicular fortitude to engage in such.

    We need to realize that fact, accept it, and accept it that we are in a multi-polar war for survival. Which we may not win. And deal with our enemies seriously and as best we can. While having a NCA working for all those enemies.

  13. To Mrs. Davis – I am astonished that the Baltics have become a vital interest of the US. I wonder now what square inch of the Earth’s surface is not a vital interest of the US.

  14. To Jonathan – No doubt Kiribati will soon have a first strike nuclear capability against the US. We must occupy it at once.

  15. To Mrs. Davis – Perhaps we should try to defend the US against the ongoing invasion from Mexico before worrying about defending Lithuiania from Russia.

  16. “Yet the domestic pressures in the US for NATO expansion were too strong to let this guarantee stand for very long.”

    They must have never heard of the Visegrad Group, and that Central Europe was clamoring to get into NATO as soon as the Berlin Wall fell? How about the Treaty of Amsterdam signed a month before the NATO allowed those former Soviet satellites to share the fruits of freedom and prosperity:

    The most symbolically important gesture of the Treaty of Amsterdam was the framework sketched out for the future accession of ten new member states. This projected an image of a Europe soon to be united across the old Iron Curtain.

    No, it wasn’t the evil arms industry mandarins who swallowed the only buffer the poor Russians had against Capitalist Yankee aggression. NATO expanded to give cover to European economic markets. No one would want to finance or purchase bonds for any development in the former Warsaw Pact without NATO’s Article 5 backstop.

  17. The US tends to get involved in all kinds of conflicts that appear to me to have little to do with the interests of the great majority of Americans. The conflict in the Ukraine between Ukrainians and Russians is an example. Now we are trying to decide what sides we should be on in a myriad of conflicts in the Middle East involving Shia vs. Sunni, Kurds vs. Turks, Alawaites vs. whoever the hell the enemies of the Alawaites are, etc. Most Americans until fairly recently had never heard of most of these people and couldn’t find Donetsk on a globe if their life depended on it.

    Japan runs Japanese foreign policy in the interests of the Japanese. Maybe they are on to something.

  18. The CSM just ran a piece on Hezbollah in which an Israeli military strategist says its stronger than ever, has much more
    powerful weaponry than in 2006.
    That well explains Commentary’s concern, what with the alliance of the relevant players.

  19. Japan runs Japanese foreign policy in the interests of the Japanese. Maybe they are on to something.

    I can’t express enough agreement with this.

    I have idea why I should care who rules Syria, especially now. I note that Syria was a Soviet client state during the Cold War and it was no apparent concern for the US when the Assad regime was killing American troops during the Iraq War.

    We have a government that allows drug cartels to take over parts of Arizona, plainly wants the US border to disappear, yet is intensely concerned about the Ukraine and its border, and has eagerly worked to help Iran get nukes yet is arming people in Syria fighting against them.

    That is incoherence of the first order. Russia can have Syria, or not- but in any case I don’t care. The US government has more important things to worry about here in the US, and it should notice that fact.

  20. I was baffled but I see. You get your news from the people who own the news. Cool, but it’s not much use in seeing through those people. I’m wasting my time. ;)

  21. “The US tends to get involved in all kinds of conflicts that appear to me to have little to do with the interests of the great majority of Americans.”

    Yes, the same was true of Great Britain in the 19th century and there was 100 years of peace as a result.

    Not that that should concern us.

    “I was baffled but I see. ”

    You are usually baffled.

    ” NATO expanded to give cover to European economic markets. No one would want to finance or purchase bonds for any development in the former Warsaw Pact without NATO’s Article 5 backstop.”

    The Warsaw Pact, contrary to any thinking leftist’s opinion, wanted to join the West, Why would that be ? Supermarkets full of food, maybe ? Nah.

    Free movement to new jobs ? Nah.

    Who could imagine that people would choose freedom over slavery ?

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