Putin cancelled his scheduled Spring vacation to Washington. He’s a busy guy. Russian military forces have been engaged in Syria for a long time. The overt nature of their presence is in the port of Tartus; since 1971. The covert nature of their presence is up to your imagination.
But when you receive the old news via the news which is now gainfully employed analyzing the President’s statement about gay marriage and while we quietly pull up stakes in Iraq and Afghanistan, you’ll really pitch a fit. How could we have not seen this? We’ll compare Russia’s counterinsurgency foray in Syria with our own recent history which we haven’t had time to digest. We’ll wish them ill will and remind them of their Afghan thrashing. We shall wail and worry.
Putin will develop a smart campaign though. Unlike western leaders, he’s enjoyed a bit of…shall we say, ”continuity”. He’s assured of more of that continuity thing. He’s no boogie man. He’s a clever man. While his military forces haven’t conducted any recent live fire exercises since…Georgia, indirectly?...the time has given his military time to study us, US that is. The Russians have created some awesome military theories and practices which we’ve borrowed since Mikhail Nikolayevich Tukhachevsky’s theory of deep operations. I think Patton wasted time reading Rommel’s book (Infantry Attacks). The US Army began reading Tukhachevsky in the 80s, by the way.
This will indeed be a deep operation in more ways than one. A necessary one. One too complex for the complex UN. There will be denouncements. Turkey will get more nervous. Assad will prevail. Putin will win again. When you realize Russia occupies Syria, when Anderson Cooper calmly tells you, when Stephen Colbert crafts a joke or two about it, it will be over.
I don’t think we, the US, can do anything about Syria, other than offer humanitarian aid and offer Putin a raincheck invite.