At the end of the Cold War, a political mass psychosis presided over much of the world. In Washington, triumphalist leaders acted as though they owned the world and could proceed to shape it in a uniquely catastrophic liberal-totalitarian image that George H.W. Bush referred to as a “new world order”. In Russia and other parts of the former USSR, a feeling of grief tinged with a paradox of naive hope and fatalistic pessimism began to arise. Some Russian elites, best embodied by Gorbachev and Alexander Yakovlev, felt that “if you can’t beat them – join them” and thus they advocated adopting a US style political and economic system as it was the “only option left”. Others like Yegor Gaidar and Anatoly Chubais promulgated an ideology which can be boiled down to “the American way is objectively the best path of Russia”. The American way was certainly the best path for the oligarch friends of Gaidar and Chubais who became instant dollar millionaires and billionaires after pillaging public resources and causing a mass wave of poverty for the 99% of Russian people. For others like Boris Yeltsin, American style neo-liberalism became a way to cling on to power in an age where few Russian politicians were able to do so, let alone someone as overtly incompetent as Yeltsin.
For those on the traditionalist side of the patriotic Russian spectre, the end of the Cold War meant the possibility to return to the 19th century. Such people, however well meaning, were naive in thinking that somehow in a post-Soviet era, Russia could once again fight and win wars in order to unite an Orthodox world under a Tsar like Russia. Such people’s desires were exposed as hopelessly naive when the US invaded and ‘regime changed’ country after country, beginning with the Serbian heart of Yugoslavia in 1999. The Serbia that Russia liberated in the 19th century was violently crushed at the dawn of the 21st century by a United States that was of little relevance of south-eastern Europe in the age of the last Russo-Turkish wars.
At the same time, these traditionalists who hoped the age of Yeltsin and Gaidar would somehow become the age of Tsar Alexander III, drew a largely blind eye to the increased hostility of the United States towards Russia, her near-abroad and Russia’s wider circle of traditional allies. Because the US wasn’t a global empire in the late 19th century, such people focused their energies on fighting yesterday’s wars while not realising that the Cold War did not end in a gentlemanly fashion. In reality, the Cold War ended in the same way that Hitler’s 1934 non-agrees ion pact with Poland ended – in a total disregard for all previous agreements and the commencement of hostile, aggressive, blitzkrieg style war on the part of the more powerful partner to the initial agreement.
Today, Russia is at peace with and in partnerships with China, Turkey, Iran and most of post-colonial south Asia as well as virtually all of south east Asia. The old empires of the 19th century are either gone or their successor states (the Republic of Turkey and the Islamic Republic of Iran) are friendly with Russia. While Russia’s 19th century foes are now her friends, Russia’s primary Cold War foe is today more of a threat to Russian than at any time during the Cold War.
During the 1990s and early 2000s, few Russian politicians realised this, but there was one exception. The founder of the first opposition party in the USSR, Vladimir Zhirinovsky and his Liberal Democratic Party never lost sight of US aggression towards Russia, Russian interests and Russian allies, even in the immediate aftermath of the ‘official’ Cold War. Zhirinovsky realised in the 1990s what is true today: that Russia would inevitably pivot towards partnerships with the wider global south, the Islamic world, the Chinese world and the wider Asian/Eurasian world beyond, while the US and its European client states would continue to encroach on Russian interests throughout the world.
The US threat to conduct a missile strike on Syria is proof that while Russia has failed to take the fight to its enemies in the aftermath of the Cold War, the United States is willing to take its anti-Russian fight to the heart of countries where allied Russian troops are engaged in a war against terrorism. Thus far, Russia’s only response has been to say that it will retaliate against direct action against Russian troops, rather than and and all US action against the Syrian Arab Republic as a whole. In previous statements, Zhirinovsky who remains an active member of the Russian opposition from inside the State Duma has stated that such responses are insufficient and that Russia should shift its policy to one which threatens an attack on US assets anywhere in the world if the US conducts an attack against Russia’s Syrian partner.
It is time for the Russian government to seriously consider moving in the policy directions advocated by opposition leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky. The alternative is to let Syria down in the short term, while in the medium and long term, such conciliatory policies will only embolden the US to conduct direct military actions against Russia itself. If the last twenty-five years have proved anything, it has been that the US and NATO respond only to force and the unambiguous threats of force. This is why North Korea has not been invaded but it is why Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine and Syria have been.
As for Syria, while many Syrians are concentrating their efforts on disparaging Turkish operations in the north of the country which are aimed at the US proxy force YPG/SDF/PKK, some in Damascus have forgotten that it is not the Turkish army that threatens the existence of the Syrian Arab Republic. At this stage it is not even the Takfiri terrorists who threaten the existence of Syria as they have been largely defeated and continue to taste defeat on the battle field. The true enemies of the Syrian Arab Republic are today, as they have been through the majority of the 20th century: the United States and the “Israeli” regime.
Therefore, all of the resources and efforts of the Syrian Arab Republic must be concerted in efforts to quickly neutralise terrorist groups, reconcile with the Republic of Turkey, even at a private level and then concentrate against how to prevent and/or defend against military actions by the true enemies of Damascus.
For Russia, it is a matter of the leadership reacquainting themselves with the stances that leaders like Stalin and Brezhnev took against US meddling in Russian spheres of influence, while for Syria it is a matter of prioritising the resources of the country towards eliminating threats from the real enemy, rather than concentrating ire on a Turkish state that ultimately would not even want to spend the money on a long term occupation of Syria.
While Turkey, Russia and Iran will always have differences in policy and in opinion over how to solve specific problems, Turkey, Russia and Iran, like Syria are civilised nations. The United States and “Israel” are brutal, violent and uncivilised. Thus, one must work to end as many disputes as possible with reasonable powers while doing all that is necessary to prevent assaults from those who are quite literally, barbarians in every sense of the word.