Though I write this blog post as a matter of conjecture, the thought of a looming military confrontation with Russia is of paramount concern since our initial airstrike northwest of Al Qa’im, Syria. Are we proverbially kicking the great Russian bear or worse yet, poking him with a sharp stick?
Remember, Syria is a Russian ally and boasts their only friendly port, Tartus, along the Mediterranean Sea. Not only is it of military value but it is also of economic worth also. In addition, Russia has serious financial interests throughout the country. The Moscow Times reported its investments in Syria were worth 19.4 billion dollars in 2009. Also, Russia has invested heavily in Syria’s natural gas program, their Arab Gas Pipeline, tourism and overall infrastructure.
I feel that our military actions in Syria could theoretically back Russia into a proverbial corner. Their military and financial investments in the country are far too great just to be forgotten or simply let go if al-Assad is replaced by a pro-Western government. Plus, we’ve already witnessed Putin’s reaction to apparent Western aggression. Arguably, a main reason for the annexation of Crimea and their growing military interest in the Ukraine is in direct response to the country possibly joining NATO. If that were to happen, Russia would subsequently lose its land buffer against the West and key security interests. It’s not some grand imperialistic land grab as depicted in the news, but a matter of what Russia views as survival.
We are treading too close to disaster with each bombing raid Obama authorizes on Syrian soil. What will be the final straw that springs Russia into action? I don’t know, but worse yet, I doubt Obama our military commanders do either.
One final comment. I write this only as a matter of suggestion. We must not forget that Russia also bears the scars of ongoing radical Muslin aggression within their country. Thus, our objective in not only Syria but also the entire Middle East should be the same. Just as we mutually fought the Nazi’s the 1940’s, we should be joining our combined forces to eradicate radical Muslim organizations and terrorists in the region before they spread any further. By excluding Russia from our War on Terror we have not only lost a possible ally but also emboldened an old enemy.