Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Couple of Historic Insights to Help You Make Sense of the Fiasco in Syria


Some Russians have described [Wednesday's] shoot-down in larger historical terms: it is the first time that there has been a real, military conflict between Russia and NATO, wrote the liberal Russian officialdom, however, is framing this squarely as a conflict between Russia and the hotheaded, trigger-happy Turks. Wednesday’s evening news, dedicated almost exclusively to the incident, made much hay out of the fact that Washington and Europe, even NATO, spent all of Tuesday chastising Turkey and throwing cold water on the idea that one plane and one territorial incursion would lead to a wider conflict.

If anything, NATO and the Europeans are the good guys in this interpretation of events — certainly a first in recent Russian history. Why? Because Turkey, the villain in this story, is trying to derail a grand, historic coalition against terrorism, one that has Russia as its main axis. The de-escalation facilitated by Western powers, the evening news report noted, “is needed so that this conflict doesn’t harm the fight against terrorism in general and against ISIS specifically.” That is, Russia sees itself as doing the work necessary to protect the civilized world against the threat of terrorism, work that benefits France, Britain, and the United States as much as it benefits Russia. (Left unstated is the assumption that it doesn’t benefit Turkey, or its Islamist-sympathizing government.) It is analogous to the way Russia has portrayed its role in World War II, especially recently: Russia fought back the menace of fascism for the good of the ungrateful West, which would have drowned if not for Moscow’s help.

This is why, beneath the propaganda and cynical geopolitical maneuvering, Moscow finds Western critiques about its role in Syria so deeply frustrating, insulting even. To Russia, such complaints are as old as time, centuries-old efforts to block Russian imperial ambitions at every possible turn for no apparent reason — even to the point of lining up with the Muslim Ottomans against Christian Rus in the mid-19th century. 


Owen Gray said...

History may not exactly repeat itself, Mound. But, as Mark Twain wrote, sometimes it rhymes.

Norm said...

Mound This is both on and off topic. There has always been questions surrounding ISIS funding but no definitive answers and almost no discussion in the MSM or from any of our politicians. Putin blew the lid off at the G-20. Putin may have his own agenda but terrorists can't operate without money. Oil has to be the single biggest source of Daesh funding. The US has the capability to see a pimple on your nose from outer space but can't find a convey of tanker trucks heading for Turkey?
We see bombing of a few buildings and pick-up trucks never of tankers, Why.

Anonymous said...
"Friends and allies who wanted (someone) to fight hezbollah..."