Wednesday, September 30, 2015

My Take: Russians in Syria

The failure of US policy in the Middle East, the continued strength of ISIL, and the incredible refugee problem that is swamping Europe are all reasons that we should welcome active participation by the Russians and other countries to find solutions in the tinder box area.

Going it alone has not worked, the US has neither the will nor the resources to restore order to the region. Our policies inherently contradict themselves. How can we at the same time work to remove the Assad regime in Syria while also defeating ISIL which seeks to fill the power void without offering an alternative to either? It is a doomed policy and the citizens of the region who are fleeing recognize that nothing good has or will come from it.

I think it may be time that the US rekindles an old WW2 relationship, gets past the Cold War and recognizes that Russians aren't Communists anymore. We have tried to clean up a few of their messes in the past, like Afghanistan, and now maybe they can help us with a problem that clearly is larger than we have resources to commit.

There is a fairly insightful OpEd piece titled, The U.S. cannot pass Syria on to Putin, in the Washington Post this morning that helps describe the state of play and outlines some options for US policymakers. 

In my mind, we need to realize, especially now that the Russians have arrived to help, that the Assad regime will continue in Syria. Sadly, we can't solve problems in a region where everyone is an enemy and no one is an ally. We have seen the results of the power vacuum that is created. I am not saying that we have to like the continuation of Assad's Syrian leadership, it is just something that we need to use as building block to regional stability.

Simon Jenkins offers an opinion thought piece about Putin and the Syrian situation in The Guardian this morning titled, Why the west should listen to Putin on Syria. In the opening sentence of the article, Jenkins writes: "Putin is right. Everyone knows Putin is right, that the only way forward in Syria, if not to eternal slaughter, is via the established government of Bashar al-Assad and his Lebanese and Iranian allies."

To be successful in the new world, we need to get over our self-aggrandizement mentality and begin to see opportunities to work with other countries to bring peace and stability to the troubles regions of the world. It is clear the American people are not willing to devote the treasure or the talent necessary to solve the problems of the Syria and ISIL on our own--hence, we need help. Granted, the Russians may not be the calvary that we expected to come rising over the hilltop, and they are largely untried and untested in situations like exist in Syria, but to quote a movie line, "short help is better than no help."

While we can focus our energy on the political events here in the US, the situation in Syria is not going away and people are dying every day. Maybe it is time to try something new and work collaboratively with other countries to implement a lasting solution.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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