Is World War Three Really Kicking Off This Time?
A look at how things stand between the USA - NATO alliance and the Russia - China - Iran bloc in the wake of recent airstrikes on Syrian government forces by US, British and French military aircraft and drones.
Airstrikes on Syria forces
The airstrikes by a US led coalition that killed many Syrian soldiers fighting for the legitimate government of Bashar al Assad against the terrorist forces of ISIS has raised the level of hostile rhetoric between the USA / NATO coalition and the Russia / China / Iran alliance. The likelihood of war seemed to have receded through the summer, after it seemed possible early this year, that one stray shell or bullet could spread the war beyond the middle east.
The Airstrikes over the weekend of 17-18 September involved US and British military personnel as well as people from other NATO members' forces. It has now been conformed that unmanned drones were used in the attack. The US government has said the hits on Sryian government targets were accidental, but we should remember that Obama's priority in Syria was always to depose Assad by any means rather than to defeat ISIS. And in the once campaign pomise she would certainly try to honour, hillary Clinton pledged that escalation of the Syria conflict with the goal of overthrowing Assad would be among her first acts should she become president in 2017.
Previously, in 2012, 2014, 2025 and this year, Russia has faced down threats from Obama when Vladimir Putin responded to Washington's bluster by quietly warning that if the USA attacked Russia's allies there would be grave consequences. While Obama was egged on by 'hawks' with links to the 'military - industrial complex who sensed big profits from war, Putin has been backed up by Pentagon officials, from that unexpected source came warnings that the USA would struggle to match either Russia or China in armed combat and would likely be annihilated if Washington picked a fight with both.
So why does Putin always win the war of words against 'the soaring rhetoric' of Obama? Here's what I wrote in my Boggart Abroad blog earlier in the year.
Chess versus Poker
I've said before that the reason Vladimir Putin outmanoeuvres the US State Department in every diplomatic skirmish is that while the national game of Russia is Chess, a pastime which develops strategic skills, Americans play poker, a game of change in which the onlt syill involved is bluffing.
Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to risk the possibility of military clashes with the United States and its European Allies, Saudi Arabia, other major Muslim nations and Israel by intervening in Syria. But while the move is being portrayed by western mainstream media as reckless, futile and dangerous, knowing that his ally China will support him in any conflict, Putin has taken a rational calculated decision and it is paying off. Not only has he has once again called the bluff of the weak, vacillating Obama who talks a good war but backs down when challenged, he has again wrong footed the inept Obama administration policy makers and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by achieving more in three weeks against ISIS that the US led allied had managed in a year.
First, Putin moved decisively to secure Russia's foothold on Syria's Mediterranean coast. Russia as a geopolitical entity is paranoid about securing its borders and maintaining the status quo. Preserving its increasingly challenged position in the world is the primary concern of all Russian leaders. Such conservatism is the antithesis of the revolutionary communist world domination ambitions of the Khrushchev and Brezhnev eras that fantasised about toppling every monarchy and democracy from throughout Europe and Asia, and installing a communist regime.
President Putin has good reason to look at stopping (ISIS). Russians fear an Islamic Caliphate in Syria and Iraq would not only make its southern borders more vulnerable and radicalise the Free Chechens and other Muslim nationalist groups within Russia, they see the current US President as, if not actually Muslim, certainly anti European and sympathetic to Muslim ambitions in Europe.
The fact that Putin launched his campaign in support of Assad in early September is also significant. At that time of year Russians remember and mourn 186 children murdered by Chechen terrorists after being held hostage in a Beslan school building from September 1st to September 4th, 2004.
Putin and his number two, Medvedev have worked for years to re-establish the standing of the Christian Orthodox Church in Russia. Until the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, Russia saw itself as the defender of Christianity, especially Orthodox version, very seriously. Russia fought the brutal Crimean War from 1853 to 1856 against protestant England and Catholic France over the issue of which Christian power should take the lead in protecting Christians and their sacred sites in the Ottoman empire.
Syria was about 10% Christian 20 years ago; now its historic Syriac Christian communities, among the oldest Christian congregations in the world, are virtually extinct as Syriac Christians flee Muslim genocidists. Much as people in the secular nations of the European Union sneer, the motive of protecting Christians and other religious minorities from Islamic extremism features in Moscow’s calculations.
The Assad dynasty has been a loyal ally of both the Soviet Union and modern Russia. Loyalty is one of the most important virtues to the Russian mindset and Kremlin policymakers feel a duty of loyalty to Damascus much as the United States has felt an obligation to be loyal to Israel for many years.
Taking the broad view then, Russia has a lot to lose if Assad falls, but stands to gain much more if Obama's regime change initiative is thwarted, as other US regime change initiatives, in Libya and Ukraine, have created failed states. America's credibility as a world super power is at an all time low, Russia's appears to be on the up and up.
An Exercise In Futility
No sane person, unless they are rich enough to be able to afford a nuke proof bunker, and have mega - millions invested in the armaments and military technology industries, wants war of course. The behaviour of leaders in Washington and among the NATO member states can only be driven by a grand delusion that the west could actually win a nuclear war (in a nuclear war there can be no winners, only losers) and the unspeakably arrogant conviction that the political, business and media establishment can deceive citizens so much that we will support such a war. Meanwhile Russia, China and their allies are fighting a different kind of war, one that at this juncture looks very winnable.
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