Donald Trump’s Tweets from the 11th of April clearly indicate that his goal in Syria is to humiliate Russia on the geopolitical stage as much as possible. He has come close to accomplishing his mission in the following ways:
1. Trump is exploiting Russia’s unwillingness to retaliate against illegal strikes on the Syrian Arab Republic unless these strikes (intentionally or unintentionally) hit Russian human or material assets in Syria. Thus, Trump has issued a threat to Russia that is a also a challenge. Should Trump ultimately decide to only target non-Russian assets in Syria, he will have exposed Russia’s policy of vowing not to defend any and all attacks on the Syrian Arab Republic as a shameful policy which ultimately exposes Russia as a country unwilling to take a stand for its ally, while also being a country that prioritises its short term interests over the longer term interest that both China and Russia have – that of containing the aggressive, criminal US hegemon.
2. In a second Tweet, issued an hour after the initial Tweet threatening Russia, Trump reverted to his line of patronising fellow superpowers, a tactic he often uses with China – thus far with no positive results for the US. This time, Trump mocked Russia for having a smaller economy than that of the US (even though the US will soon have a smaller economy than Russia’s partner China), with the clear implication being that if Russia surrenders some of its military and diplomatic geopolitical prestige, the US would invest money into the Russian economy. This is not an olive branch in the traditional sense, but is typical American blackmail whose record of global destruction is well known, including among Russians who suffered greatly in the 1990s as a result of America’s involvement in the Russian economy.
Russia’s unnecessary conundrum
Thus far, when it comes to Syria, it is not clear that Russia will do anything more than weight various options that put short term interests above the wider medium and long term reality that the US is Russia’s enemy, even more so than it was during the Cold War, even more say than Britain was during the 19th century and even more so than the Ottoman Empire and Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth were during their centuries of warfare with Russia.
In respect of Syria, Russia is guilty of presuming that in fighting a war against terrorism that the entire world ought to have supported, that even its enemies in the US and Europe would somehow allow Russia to go about its business in Syria, owing to the greater good of eliminating terrorist groups like Daesh, al-Qaeda and their clones from the face of the earth.
This was a false premise from the beginning as Russia should have known all too well. Russia should not have been so naive in presuming a nonchalant attitude from the western, as when it comes to the western imperial quest for global dominance, they will do anything to subdue Russia, no matter how many objectively gruesome allies the west will need to associate itself with in the process. There is even a clear blueprint regarding this western attitude. Its author was an English academic called Halford Mackinder whose so-called “heartland theory” portrayed Russia as a necessary “pivot area” that western imperialists would need to subdue in their wider ambition to conquer China and the wider Asian world.
Russia has forgotten its own history of facing western aggression
There is a long history of the west allying itself with culturally ‘non western’ entities in order to retard Russia’s progress. Whether it was Britain’s allying itself with a late 19th century Ottoman Empire accused of committing atrocities against Balkan Christians in order to restrain Russian influence in Europe, whether it was Germany arranging for Lenin to travel in a closed train to Petrograd in order to take Russia out of the First World War and ultimately surrender much of her territory in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, whether it was many western leaders openly declaring that they preferred aligning themselves with fascism over Stalin’s USSR, or the fact that after 1945, the US employed many Nazis in its own deep state as part of Operation Paperclip – there is ample evidence of the west aligning with anyone and everyone in order to harm Russia.
Even as recently as the 1980s, the US formed a de-facto alliance with Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge in order to constrain the influence of Soviet aligned pro-Vietnamese forces in what was then Democratic Kampuchea, while during that same decade, the US formed and funded the anti-Soviet Afghan Mujaheddin which in the 1990s mutated into al-Qaeda. Even when Russia was at her weakest in the 1990s, the US allied itself with Croatian fascists, Bosnian jihadists and violent Albanian terrorists in order to kill a would-be revitalised Russo-Serbian alliance. Prior to Russia’s direct involvement in the present day Syrian conflict, the western powers aligned with neo-Nazis in Kiev to overthrow the legitimate Ukrainian government in February of 2014.
Thus, Russia should not have been surprised when the US helped to form, fund and support Takfiri jihadist terrorist groups fighting the secular, multicultural Syrian Arab Republic, for the simply reason that the US sough to overthrow a traditionally pro-Russian and anti-Zionist power in the Arab world and replace it with a pro-US theocracy that would have no material qualms with “Israel”.
Time to get tough
Throughout history, it has been shown that bullies, imperialists and avaricious and irrational powers only respond to force. This is why in spite of all the bluster from the US and occasionally Europe, the DPRK (North Korea) has not been invaded. Unlike Russia today, Libya in 2011, Iraq in 2003, or Yugoslavia in 1999, the DPRK is firm in issuing threats to the US, calming that if any harm is done to its territory, the US will suffer at the hands of a nuclear strike from the DPRK. Thus far, this method has worked to protect the DPRK from being attacked.
As a superpower, Russia is in an even better position to fight American threats and provocations with remarks as strong as those issued from the far smaller DPRK. There is no reason that the Russian Federation cannot say to the US that any attack on the sovereign territory of the Syrian Arab Republic, irregardless of what such a strike hits and irrespective of how intense the strike is, will result in full scale retaliation against the US itself, including nuclear retaliation.
This is not to say that nuclear war would happen in such a scenario. On the contrary, nuclear war is one step closer today than it would have been if Russia adopted a tough line early on in the Middle East stand-off with the US and its client states. If Russia invoked the doctrine of mutually assured destruction early on in the Syrian conflict, the US would have likely never attempted to test Russia and would have instead found someone smaller and weaker to bully.
Because Russia has shown weakness in front of the American geopolitical nuclear bully, Russia is now in a position where the US is willing to call its bluff with possibly deadly consequences, certainly for Syrians and possibly for the wider region. This puts people in every country in the world under threat, whereas a tough response from Russia would end up saving lives on all sides by making conflict outside the realm of anyone’s interest.
Under the leadership of men like Tsar Alexander III, Stalin and Brezhnev, the western powers were far less willing to test Russian/Soviet resolve, knowing that the leadership was as fully serious about full scale repercussions as the DPRK is today.
This policy did not cause wars – it prevented them. When superpowers put other superpowers in their place, few countries, even those as criminally violent as the United States are willing to call the other’s bluff. Today’s Russian leadership has ignored its own history, while also ignoring the sage advice of its present day opposition. This is why the world stands on the verge of a major crisis. Russia has let its own side down. Of course, part of the problem is that Russians with money and assets in western countries are pulling the strings of the Russian government in pushing for a more pro-western policy so as to safeguard their typically ill-gotten gains. The solution is simple, arrest all Russians with assets abroad as traitors to the Russian Federation and then seize their assets. Suddenly a major source of Russia’s geopolitical and fiscal problems will go away.
While such policies are almost certainly not going to happen under the current leadership, if opposition leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky was elected to the office of Russian President last month, things might look a lot different.