From this morning’s NightWatch:
Russia-US-Syria: Russian relations with the US over Syria continue to worsen.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said on 6 October, “Let me remind the so-called US strategists that the air cover for the Russian military bases in Hmeimim and Tartus is provided by S-400 and S-300 surface-to-air missile systems, whose range may come as a surprise to any unidentified flying objects.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused the West of protecting the al-Nusra Front. She said at a briefing, “So far we see in the actions of Western countries, first of all, not a concern about the humanitarian situation in Syria but a desire to protect Al-Nusra fighters and the forces and groups of fighters affiliated to them. To be even franker, not just to protect them but directly get them away from harm’s way.”
Comment: The statement by General Konashenkov apparently is a pre-emptive response to press reports that the US is considering approving air attacks against Syrian government forces. His response is a dare. The message is that the Russians will shoot first at long distance.
We are playing a very dangerous game here. There is no realistic path that ends in ousting Assad that does not pass through direct combat with Russia. Moreover, even the goal is a foolish one. What do we imagine would take his place?
I must also note the shameful hypocrisy of weeping for Syria’s people (and using it as a pretext for importing millions of them to the West) while having done everything possible to maintain a rough balance of power in this civil war, thereby prolonging it for years — during which time that miserable nation, and the innocent lives of millions of its people, have been blasted to rubble. Had we not stepped in to “help”, the thing would have been over in weeks or months, cities and antiquities now completely destroyed would still be standing, and the chaos of tribalism and jihad would not have had this vacuum to occupy. Whatever you may say about Bashar Assad, it should be obvious to even the most causal observer that life under his rule was better for most people — incomparably so — than life in Syria now. His regime may have been an affliction, but our efforts to cure it have killed the patient. Chaos is death.
A more enlightened worldview would see Russia — a great Christian nation, and one that has made priceless contributions to the treasure-store of Western civilization — as a natural ally in these perilous times. We have much in common, including ancient, existential enemies who gloat to see us fighting with with each other rather than uniting against them. Yet our stance toward Russia has been relentlessly bellicose, with our support of the Ukrainian revolution, and our actions in Syria, being only the most obvious examples.
One might imagine that, standing as we do upon the crumbling lip of a very dark abyss, and with such enlightened statesmen in charge, we would now move cautiously. One would be mistaken.