Apropos my post yesterday on Russia’s psychological complexes driving its Russia policy, this long article quotes several Russian commentators drawing similar conclusions. Namely, Russian policy is driven as much by psychology and need to maintain face as it is by objective calculations of interest-more, in fact; its policy of backing Syria to the hilt is doomed to failure; and this failure will be extremely costly to Russia.
Not that American policy is anything to boast about. Quite to the contrary. It is a mess. Allowing the conflict to metastasize has empowered radical elements, particularly jihadist ones. So the US formally named one of the Syrian opposition groups, Jabhat al-Nusra a terrorist organization in an attempt to split the most radical elements and the more moderate (by Middle Eastern standards, anyways) parts of the opposition. Fail: it brought the factions closer together. Some elements in Syria went all Spartacus, declaring (on a Facebook page) “We are all Jabhat al-Nusra.”
This is just going so swell. I’m sure it will only get better and better.
The situation in Syria was a colossal mess to begin with, and there was no easy answer at any time. There were choices between bad and really bad. A Libyan outcome represented sort of an upper bound. But it looks like we’re on the way to post-1988 Afghanistan smack dab in the middle of the ME, rather than in the back of buggery in the Hindu Kush.
Obama never had an appetite for such messy interventions And I sympathize with him that any action would have been messy.
What I don’t sympathize with, at all, is the fact that his instinctual dislike for intervention wasn’t the only driver behind his complete passivity, or even the main one. It is abundantly clear that he didn’t want any foreign complications interfering with his reelection campaign, so all hard decisions on Syria were punted to beyond November 6. Well, we’re there now. And the jihadis didn’t call a fair catch, but are tearing up field like Billy “White Shoes” Johnson. I think they will take it to the house. Won’t we have fun then.
Add this mess to the huge pile, foreign and domestic, that Obama pushed beyond the election. He relied on the kicking game, but it is evident that his coverage is terrible.
It will make his second term hell. More for us than him, unfortunately.