Russia has confirmed that it launched several cruise missiles as ISIS targets from ships in its Mediterranean fleet. While any strike against ISIS is good news, it’s impossible to forget Russia’s support for brutal dictator and mass-murderer Bashar al-Assad and the ulterior motives behind their attack on ISIS.
While the US and Russia shared a mutual enemy in ISIS, the enemy of our enemy is only sort of our friend. Only days ago, US-Russian tensions heated up again when the American military released a photo of a Russian jet performing a dangerous, Top Gun-style intercept on an American jet.
Unlike the old days, when the Americans and Russians would stare each other down as they fought indirectly through satellite wars, now they’re staring each other down as they compete to fight the same enemy. Folks, Sun Tzu doesn’t have anything smart sounding for this situation. Will Trump take this opportunity to assuage the widely-held concerns that he’s a Russian sympathizer?
It is painfully obvious that the President’s primary foreign policy objective is fighting ISIS and stopping the spread of “radical Islamic terror,” so it is very doubtful that he does anything to significantly hinder operations against them. There is indeed some merit to taking things one thing at a time in Syria, focusing on the eradication of ISIS now before worrying about Assad. Unfortunately, we are reminded by our continued presence in Afghanistan that you don’t just eradicate insurgencies willy-nilly in the Middle East.
The US can condemn the actions of Assad and bomb him occasionally all they want; combating ISIS while Assad is in power is going to be good for Assad no matter how you slice it. And allowing Russia to continue operations against ISIS on behalf of Assad just adds to their strength in the region, so this victory and progress made with the help of Russia comes at a steep cost.
To reiterate, I’m not saying that the Russians blowing up ISIS targets is a bad thing. I’m anti-ISIS, and defeating them is certainly one of if not the main priority for the US, regardless of who’s sitting in the Oval Office. But Trump’s first 5 months have me seriously worried that he can’t walk and chew gum at the same time policy wise, so he won’t be able to think of what underhanded power plays Putin is making in the Middle East, especially when he probably thinks these missiles are just free wins falling into his lap.