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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Dont be surprised if Russia's current strategy in Syria looks familiar.....

Of all the things I can say about Vladimir Putin, you'll never hear me accuse him of abandoning a winning strategy.  Russia has no hesitation whatsoever in repeating tactics in Syria that have proven effective elsewhere, as on this occasion, Ukraine.  Putin understands his opponent well, and can predict his next move.  Unfortunately for us (the good guys/gals), Putin's opponent at present is Barack Obama and his State Department, under Secretary of State John Kerry.  During the current conflict in Ukraine, Putin has used the tool of diplomacy to win engagement after engagement, without ever firing a shot.  The entire situation in Ukraine would be a farce, if it weren't so tragic.  Let's be frank, shall we?  Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, a province of the Republic of Ukraine.  To confuse the issue and distract, Putin created a separatist movement in eastern Ukraine.  Even Putin was caught by suprise by how quickly the European powers and the United States (which calls the shots for NATO), immediately backed down to Russian aggression and begged for Russia and the separatists to  negotiate.  Why did Europe and the West fold so quickly?  The answer lies with the Oval Office of the United States of America.  After winning the 2008 presidential election, the European leaders fought over who was going to fete the first African-American President of the United States.  It was a huge occasion in Paris, Berlin and London.  Not only could Obama do no wrong socially, but he was given carte blanche with foreign policy as well.  Since his inauguration, Obama has controled the foreign policy decisions of just about every European nation.  Under normal circumstances, I would consider this development to be prudent, but not under President Obama, who will negotiate himself out of his own underwear, if he gets a chance.  Obama seems to believe that showing any strength and momentum in foreign policy is somehow an embarrassment, or an innapropriate expression of aggression.  Today is April 30, 2016- after almost eight years of Obama's foreign policy (including a first-term with the worst Secretary of State in memory, Hillary Clinton), terrorism is present on almost every continent, the number of nations either researching nuclear weapons or actually building them has doubled, and right-wing political movements are threatening to take over European governments in the next elections.  The Obama Administration has had no proactive policy regarding ANY foreign policy issue.  The war in Syria has been raging for over five years; why wasn't the U.S. State Department advising our allies in Europe (especially Turkey and Greece) about the likelihood of refugees?  Not to mention the Arab Spring...why were our diplomats so woefully unprepared for the explosion of this political movement, Madame Secretary of State Clinton?

So we return to Syria, where Russian President Putin and his stoolies in Damascus and Teheran are able to implement their plan to use the ISIS emergency to further their efforts at political expansion.  Iran has long dreamed of two, apparently impossible dreams: to be the strongest nation in the Persian Gulf region, and to possess atomic weapons.  Thanks to two terms of Barack Obama, and both dreams are soon to be reality.  Because Obama pulled troops out of Iraq before the Iraqi army was prepared to defend itself, ISIS marched in, swallowed up Mosul, Arbil and Tikrit, and threatened Baghdad.  In come the Iranians, playing the role of "advisors" and "instructors", and several Shi'a militias take the field of battle and fight ISIS to a stalemate, until the Iraqi army is prepared to fight its own battles.  The Iranians were given the opportunity to be the heroes, the brave soldiers who defeated ISIS.  Currently, Iran has more resources at play in Iraq than the United States.  Iran has also taken to the battlefield against ISIS in Syria.  Iran has traditionally supported the quasi-political religious movement "Hezbollah" in Lebanon.  Iranian volunteers are fighting ISIS in Syria as part of Hezbollah's military support for de facto Syrian President and Putin puppet Bashar al-Assad.  Obama's unwillingness to get anywhere near U.S. troops on the ground is well-known to Putin and his Syrian and Iranian pigeons.  Russia and Iran have moved into the vacuum created when the Obama Adminstration telegraphed its unwillingness to use the military for diplomatic obligations.  And our enemies have taken full advantage.

Whenever new negotiations are announced regarding either Syria or Ukraine, you can rest assured the Russians are planning large-scale military operational activity, either by Russian proxies or by the Russian military itself.  If a Republican president is elected this November, it will be interesting to see how much of the Obama approach to foreign policy is adopted, or left behind.  As for the Democrats, lets not even consider the nightmare of a President Hillary or President Sanders.

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