Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Don't Do Stupid Shit

I have to admit some frustration with Obama's go-slow approach to Daesh/IS.  I think there is a forceful response that can be imposed at least on Mosul and parts of Iraq.  We owe Iraq that, and if we do use ground troops there, we can up our contribution to ultimately political settlement, which frankly is going to require a Sunni state between Shia Iraq and Alawite Damascus.

However, if there is a good counter argument to "doing something" it is in Russia's actions.  Since putting Russian forces into Syria, Russia has suffered a terrorist attack on an airliner, attacked all the wrong people and now they have created a crisis with Turkey that could lead to all sorts of nasty repercussions.

Putin has become a favorite on the right for his "boldness" and "tough talk."  This is roughly the same dynamic that has catapulted Donald Trump to front-runner status.  The impulse towards appearing strong ultimately makes one weak.  And the focus on words and imagery ("Why won't Obama say Islamic terrorist?") ultimately betrays a lack of real ideas.

Russia has little plan in Syria beyond propping up Assad, which is an end-state, but not a strategy.  So they flounder around, bombing the wrong people and then provoking an international incident with Turkey.  I have argued and will continue to argue that Putin's belligerence in Ukraine and Syria is a sign of his weakness at home.  His economy is in the crapper, he's isolated and he's floundering from one crisis to the next.

We can see how this plays out, but Syria is getting worse.  And it's getting worse because Russia is floundering around in there.

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