Monday, January 4, 2016

Vladdipus Has A Plan, but which is it?


Russia has a 'plan B' for Syria that would allow it to 'redefine the international order.' And what is this plan? What else? Creating a pro-Assad enclave under their control with Iranian support. But how is a revelation exactly? And why is it being called a plan B. It was my contention all along that Putin had a very specific plan for Syria and this was it.

…the real reason behind Putin’s move into Syria is not any sort of values affinity with Assad. Putin is here repeating what he previously did in Crimea and is still trying to do in Eastern Ukraine: take over and secure a territory that holds strategic significance for Russia. Russia has for long maintained a military base in the coastal city of Tartus, one which it updated and modernized shortly before the onset of the Syrian Revolution in March 2011.
This newest venture is not simply about safeguarding this base. Now that the Obama Administration has repeatedly shown how strongly it is committed to minimizing America’s military footprint in the world, Mr. Putin sees an opportunity for expanding and strengthening Russia’s presence along the Mediterranean, and for ensuring that the future of that presence is not dependent on anyone’s goodwill but is assured through Russian military might.
Russia’s Holy War In Syria, October 6, 2015

But if some want to plan-b it, so be it. The important thing is that the whole thing is coming out now, and people are beginning to discuss it openly. On the quiet frontier though, none of this is likely surprising or even unnerving to the Obama administration, and other Western powers. There is an old consensus that has been quietly building up in certain ideological circles, that such a challenge to the global borders, and by extension the international order, was bound to happen, and that getting out of the way is the smartest thing to do.

The problem I have always had with this line of thinking is the indifference it showed to the human toll of it all. Not that this “culling” process will have any serious impact on the herd, to be put it as offensively as possible seeing that offensiveness is the new normal these days (thank you Trumputin), for birthrates will continue to offset any such losses. The fight to impose certain redlines on mass violence should not have been abandoned. Mass violence is not inevitable. It’s our indifference and our restricted imagination that make it so. The diagnosis was right, but the prescribed treatment was all wrong.

As for Plan B, if anything the situation in eastern Ukraine shows that Putin seldom has one. He might thought, and this is only a speculation, that a compromise on the future of Assad in Syria might make the U.S. more amenable to give him some leeway in eastern Ukraine, enough to let him create an autonomous entity nominally still part of Ukraine but practically under his control, but, by coming around to his way of thinking on Assad, the U.S. seems to have taken that admittedly hypothetical card away from him.