Timothy Benton | Jan 9, 2019 | 0
We attacked Syria, Political And Military Ramifications Part 2
I like many was worried if we did launch an attack on Syria and Russia carried through with their threats to both knock down any cruise missile fired and target the attacking platform, this could get out of control, but I have also said over the years that Putin if nothing else isn’t stupid, I don’t see him putting himself in a confrontation with the west over Syria unless an action was put in place to remove Assad militarily.
I think the most important political point made here was showing a change from the last administration to the Trump administration if we say there is a red line in the sand, if you cross it, there will be ramifications for this violation. While I see little or no logical sense for the attack from a view of what we gained militarily or even politically from this with Syria, I think what we sent to the word, message-wise, is that no longer is America going to tell people one thing and do the other.
The first thing that this has done is allow the Arabs we are allied with to know, unlike with Obama, we will not throw them under the bus when political winds point against them, we are allies, as such we will try to maintain our alliance.
Leading Up To This
With the Arab Spring, we saw just the opposite, Obama refused to address the issue that this was for the most part started by tiring of lack of free speech, oppressive regimes, and the people to get out from under such rule. But sadly it did not stay that way for long, in place to fill the vacuum that was left were even more radical players; people like Al Qaeda, ISIS, and others with extreme Islamist goals, who unlike the other groups were organized, had a clear path of authority, they jumped into the opening and until recently did not let it go.
Egypt put a lot of fear in our allies hearts, we turned our backs on the leadership, told the people we would not interfere, did not do so when our embassies were attacked. In Lybia we allowed something that had not been done in years, to hold back on the protection of a sitting ambassador and enabled the crowd to gain access to him, thus ended up with him being killed. This is why many of our allies under the Obama administration started to stray more towards Russia, made ties that were intended to leave the US out of any arrangements because the Obama administration just was not trustworthy, they were more concerned about ideology then long-term strategic goals. Political wise we were in the worst shape we had been in since the before the first world war.
I think the first thing we have to remember, our president wanted to get our troops out of Syria, I am not sure that is a good idea, but neither does he, and we that voted for him want to be back involved in nation building, but don’t think this is what we are facing here.
To explain this I need to go back to the Vietnam War, our abandonment of allies, the repercussions that came from this. In that war, the CIA and military went to groups of people that were not aligned against the Communist in that fight, promised to take care of them if they fought on our side, one of the groups is the Hmong, a simple mountain tribal group that farmed and hunted in the area, we knew they were skilled as both fighters and had a great ability to move through jungle to reach area’s we would be hard-pressed to reach. We promised them if they would fight on our side we would both protect them, and if we ever pulled out, we would take them with us. We did pull out, we left them to the will of the Communist who proceeded to try to wipe them out, many fled to camps, camps the US set up and maintained, they were after all displaced by our own doing, then under the Reagan and Bush administration brought many over here, finally in the Obama administration shut down the camps, thus forcing these refugees to return to their lands they fled from, many were slaughtered. The world saw this and remembered.
We now come to the current time, we went to the Kurdish people, asked them to aid in the fight against ISIS, but at the same time while under the last administration we asked them to give us aid in this fight, we refused to arm them thus leaving them under armed and underequipped. In a testament to the Kurdish will, they fought in spite of this, removed ISIS from villages they had controlled and set up area’s of both Iraq and Syria that were placed under their control.
There is a huge problem with this, Turkey feels that any Kurdish self-rule is unacceptable, they have suggested and controlled them until many have set up their militia for self-protection, while there are some that have gone more to the radical element, as a rule, they wish only to be left alone, to have their destiny in their hands, Turkey, Iran, and Suria, along with Iraq find such an idea as threatening to their sovereignty, here is a population they have done nothing but oppressed, such a move towards some type of independence is entirely unaccepable to them.
This has gotten to the point that Turkey has threatened that if US soldiers are caught embedded with Kurdish forces, they will not stop from attacking them. Naturally the demand we take into account their forces when we put in place any military actions.
The wildcard in all this is Russia. First, by promising they would shoot down any missile attack on Syria, then doing nothing makes them lose face, something they are acutely aware of. It also calls into question the ability of the S400 system capability, they claim in place with other anti-air access systems they have either sold to Syria or are manning themselves to prevent such an attack, we saw the strikes with nothing from the Russians.
First, Russia has been put in a hard position, as they had done with Iraq, they showed that when push came to shove, they will back down rather than come into a confrontation with America and allies. But there is more, the Russia of today had put much of their frontline troops in Syria to show the world what they could do, and they did, in all honesty, impress many with their use of combined arms there, but what lies behind this?
Much of the strength listed for Russia, their tanks are a perfect example, they may have the numbers to show an impressive size, but if you look at the maintenance of their equipment in storage it leaves much to be desired, I have seen figures as low as 40% with what Russia could field of declared stocks if a war came about. Putin may realize that in spite of bluster he would be hard-pressed to maintain border security against NATO and China and try to expand a war into Syria against Western allies. At the height of the Cold-War Russia boasted a 20,000+ tank force, in 2009 they scrapped much of that fleet leaving only 6,000 of those maybe 1/2 are operable.
But there is more, the state of their Air Force, is not in much better shape, because their economy is not even close to the size of the US or China, it is more like the size of Italy. They are spending a significant amount of the GDP to maintain their forces; they just can’t expand more, what they have done for years is rely on Cold War Stocks, these are quickly aging, upgrading will only get you so far.
No place has this been more evident than in the development of their T-5o stealth fighter, now their Su-57, Russia at first said they were going to produce hundreds of these fighters, they were going to be up for export. After the disappointing performance, stealth is not as good as advertised, along with the cost of per unit plus the delays in development and fielding of the engine (izdeliye 30) for the fighter is showing the Russians this is harder to do then they realized.
Many nations are taking a second look, due to financial constraints Russian has lowered their orders to just 12 fighters. It is a low production very expensive fighter if you add in R&D into the cost. With just 12 production craft they will end up costing more than the F22’s with initial production costs.
With just the lowest figure available, $8 billion spent in research, if you add this to the 8 operational prototypes, some aren’t airworthy any longer, then add the 12 on order, you are looking at the first batch costing $50 million in production plus $400 million in development cost, the only way for Russia to make this viable is to sell hundreds for export, something they are hard-pressed to do.
What you have in the end is Russia, while a formable force, would be foolish to bring war about for they do not have the amount of operational stock to enter such a state. I am not saying they are a paper tiger, rather than modern warfare would go through equipment at such a quick rate the US would be hard-pressed to keep up with such a war, Russia would find such a thing almost impossible.
Where To Go From Here
I think Americans, more so the ones that voted for Trump have no more desire to see the US get involved with nation-building, but diplomacy is much more complicated than that.
I think while Trump brings a new flavor to the White House with a business mind that has brought with him great experts in the business world that is getting our economy humming, the foreign relations is a game that many times takes administrations, even the greatest ones half a term, if not the whole first term in office to understand and manage appropriately.
With Trump we see the ability to learn on the fly, not get so caught up in dogma he can’t see reason, unlike the last administrations, sometimes ideology and the real world simply don’t match, what makes a great foreign team is the ability to adjust to the realities of this on the go, not get stuck in place and have an unwillingness to learn.
Trump so far is doing what he must, but thankfully is not abandoning our allies, and is learning as he goes. The Middle East is a minefield of potential problems with religion, tribal forces and alliances that are many times hard to understand, a society that has been in place for thousands of years, many times is deep-seated in its views, one needs to learn how to deal with this without offending everyone, that is something only great diplomats can do, further doing so while protecting our self-interests is something that is amazing to watch, it is also fun to see Trump learning on the go this. Give him time; he will master this like much else he has done over the years.