…to maintain and expand a strategic influential footprint in the so-called Middle East. Already, Russia provides extensive military logistical support to Syria via the port of Tartus, which graciously received two Iranian warships today. Putin will cautiously and carefully project Russian military power, following his certain re-election in March (4th).
The US had such a footprint of influence in Iraq. Had. Our print is disappearing with the shifting sands. We plan a withdrawal from Afghanistan. Our President’s recent “Defense Guidance for the 21st Century” turns our defense focus in the future to the Pacific and Asia. That’s what we plan, apparently.
In the meantime, Russia, in particular Prime Minister (and presidential candidate) Putin promises expanded defense spending. He sees the opportunity and will cunningly seize it.
Syria is such an opportunity. No one can stand in Putin’s way, much in the same way that no one stood in ours when we invaded Iraq. Putin will orchestrate Middle East policy and influence, cognizant of the economic advantages, mindful of a United States who does not have the will or capability to intervene. Soon-to-be- President Putin will quiet Israel’s overtures to militarily act against Iran and he will shepherd Iran into the nuclear club over the next decade.
Our response, our recourse is diplomacy and we must become more serious about the concept. We can no longer use military power as we have since the Gulf War, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Mother Russia never collapsed, really.
We may bristle and grumble at Putin’s continued power, ache for democratic reforms in Russia, and wish him the worst, but the fact remains that he remains in power and is an experienced and very powerful person with a loyal entourage. He’s 59, seemingly fit, with apparent kilometers to go before he wishes to sleep. His country powers and heats much of Europe with vast energy resources. He’s patient and a survivor, but more so. Name a current head of state more experienced, competent, connected and powerful than he?
In my estimate, this is what Putin plans…