Putin's Syria move
By Toby Westerman
September 30, 2015

The fumbling of U.S. policy in the Near East has made Putin's intervention into Syria a necessity. Putin would rather work through Western surrogates to save his client, Bashar al-Assad, from Islamic militants rather than do the job himself. The West, however, finds Assad as detestable as the ISIS savages, so Putin is forced to act.

At this point, one may note that Putin, who in some eyes is a Christian Crusader, is not concerned about Syrian Christians, who are daily butchered by ISIS. When the Christians do flee Syria, they are beaten and sometimes killed by Muslim refugees. The Christians are on their own; Putin's immediate interest is saving Assad.

The reason for Putin's concern about the Assad regime is not merely a feeling of loyalty to a Moscow ally, nor the perceived opportunity to enter more deeply into the Near Eastern morass. Moscow's friend, the Islamic Republic of Iran, has that assignment.

The extraordinary step of sending Russian military forces into a war zone (not of their own making) is prompted by a much broader strategy for the projection of Russian power. Moscow has plans for making the small naval facility it has in the Syrian port of Tartus into a major Russian naval center. The Tartus facility is meant to play a significant part in Moscow's plan to extend the reach of the Russian military into the Mediterranean and beyond.

"Beyond" is the key term.

Moscow's global strategy, which is the product of the ruling elite and not merely Putin, is nothing short of the revival of Soviet-era power. Those who compare present Russian expansion to the Tsarist era are missing the point. The old Soviet Union is continually glorified in today's Russia; even the mass murder Josef Stalin is again praised. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation, which calls for the restoration of the Soviet Union, plays the role of honest defender of the Russian people in a political system generally recognized as corrupt. Putin has been effusive in his praise of the Russian Communist Party and its leader, Gennady Zyuganov, as a positive force in the Russian nation.

As the new Soviet world comes slowly into being, Moscow has formed an alliance with the overtly communist Peoples Republic of China.

This wasn't supposed to happen. For a variety of geopolitical reasons, the experts predicted that China would side with the United States against Putin's Russia. As late as March 2014, the Telegraph's highly respected Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote that there existed the possibility of a U.S.-China alliance against the Russian Federation, and dismissed what he called the "pieties of a Moscow-Beijing axis."

But the opposite has occurred. Russia and the Peoples Republic of China are firmly bound together as allies against the United States.

A recent article in the state-controlled news agency RIA Novosti demonstrates the high level of Russian-Chinese cooperation. RIA Novosti quoted without comment or elaboration provocative statements by Indian commentator Abhijit Singh, which had originally appeared in the Tokyo-based online journal, The Diplomat.

Singh declared that recent joint Russian-Chinese naval exercises in the western Pacific were "aimed at countering strategic superiority of the United States in Eurasia and the construction of a sustainable strategy for collective protection," and that "Moscow and Beijing agree that Washington is the main destabilizing factor" in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Destabilizing factor"? In the view of the Communist elite in Moscow and Beijing, the United States is contributing to instability by ensuring the independence of Japan, the free island of Taiwan, the Philippines, and even Australia. While the U.S. seeks to maintain the sovereignty of its allies, Russia is pressuring Japan with an increasing military presence close to Japan, and China continues to threaten Taiwan with invasion. China's claim to the South China Sea imperils free trade in the area, and especially endangers the sovereignty of the Philippines.

In the Arctic, Russia is projecting its presence into the region with a military presence which surpasses that of the Soviet era. Russia is preparing to send a large percentage of its Arctic natural gas reserves to China, as the Peoples Republic assist in the development of Russia's Arctic resources.

In the much warmer climes of the Caribbean, Russian warships ply the waters while Russian bombers make periodic long-distant visits, with Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela playing host. Nicaragua is open to Russian naval facilities, and Cuba has always welcomed Russian/Soviet naval and military forces. China is active in the region in a variety of ways, from running casinos to attempting to build an Atlantic-Pacific canal through Nicaragua.

In Europe, Russian troops are active in eastern Ukraine after occupying the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea. Western sanctions against Russia have proved ineffective, in large part due to Chinese assistance to Russia. On Ukraine's eastern border, Russia is now building a large military base, a subtle threat to the sovereignty of that nation. Moscow also actively seeks to intimidate the Baltic nations of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. All Europe remains tense – Poland is particularly wary and prepares for a Russian attack.

Indecision and timidity allowed the rise of ISIS. If the Russia-China alliance receives a similar response, or a refusal by governments even to recognize the Moscow-Beijing axis, then we face the very real possibility that the elite in Russia and China will achieve their prime objective: military and economic domination of the United States and its allies.

© Toby Westerman


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Toby Westerman

Mr. Toby Westerman is editor and publisher of International News Analysis Today (www.inatoday.com). Since 1996, Westerman has used English and foreign language materials to bring to public attention general trends and specific events that pose dangers to the American public but are either ignored or superficially treated by the centralized media... (more)


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