Obama, “Mission Creep” Alert: America Must Avoid Entanglement and Overreach in the Syrian Civil War
The fight against the Islamic State has never been and will never be just about subduing the threat of the terrorist group. Already serving as a proxy war between the Saudi-led Coalition and Iran, the broader Syrian Civil War continues to grow increasingly complicated. Direct Russian military intervention in Syria has, of course, quickly redefined the conflict as a proxy war between the US and Russia. With the United States officially deploying limited special force combat troops into Syria, there are renewed concerns of mission creep and further entanglement in the Middle Eastern rivalries that are on display in the conflict.
American war hawks have long advocated for intervention on the ground in Syria and renewed commitment to the Iraq War, but the costs of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars have made such a level of engagement unrealistic. Because there is a chance the confrontational measures being taken to discourage Russian hostility and Chinese aggression could eventually spark a global conflict between major world powers, committing US forces to be bogged down in Syria and Iraq is short-sighted and strategically foolish. Given instability in the global economy, the economic woes of the EU, Russia, China, Brazil, and the US in particular, the International Community must assist the unstable Arab Spring-era Middle East without over-committing limited resources while avoiding entanglement in traditional rivalries.
China: US Provocation is an Opportunity to Settle Territorial Disputes and Ensure Regional Stability
China’s aggressive pursuit of its interests and exertion of its influence is once again reemerging as a top security priority of the United States to the benefit of China’s neighbors. Before the Ukraine Crisis and the Islamic State stole the focus of international security, territorial disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea threatened to draw the US and its Asian allies into an armed conflict with China.
Renewed fears of a confrontation have arisen since the battleship USS Lassen came within 12 nautical miles of five reefs near the disputed Spratly Islands, including Subi, Mischief and Fiery Cross reefs where China is building artificial islands capable of essentially serving as fixed aircraft carriers. Intended to send a clear message of support to South China Sea nations incapable of fending off China, the US fully understood the Lassen’s route into the disputed waters would be seen as “provocative” and “aggressive,” despite official rhetoric to the contrary.
Among the ranks of the Islamic State are an estimated 2,500 Russian nationals. Concerns that these fighters may inspire other Russians to join the extremist movement or return to Russia as battle-trained, battle-tested insurgents are legitimate reasons for Russia to intervene in Syria. If the Kremlin is sincere in its efforts to negotiate a political solution and aid the Free Syrian Army in order to serve its interests, the Putin government must be honest in its assessment of the situation in Syria.
The Kremlin has repeatedly placed blame for airstrikes against Western-backed forces on the unwillingness of the US and “patriotic opposition” to coordinate with the Russian military. Given the Russian military is acting on behalf of their enemy, i.e. the Assad regime, the Russians should understand the reluctance of opposition forces to reveal their positions to them. The Russians should also recognize the US cannot undermine the fragile relationship it has with its opposition allies by sharing information with Assad's ally, i.e. Russia. If the Putin government is sincere in its offer to assist Western-backed rebels in their fight against the Islamic State, it must earn the trust of the Syrian opposition.
Anti-American Propaganda Distracts From the Real Threat of Global Power Elites and Special Interests
Most Americans want a government that protects us from crime, properly regulates industry, and builds sound civil infrastructure, yet we detest government incompetence, corruption, and overreach. Frankly, we tend to be very vocal in our criticism of the US government. Americans are particularly resentful when it comes to government catering to special interests.
The reason is that special interests groups, such as the wealthy and transnational corporations, too often abuse their undue influence over government to advance their agendas at the expense of everyone else. Although the power struggle between Democrats and Republicans has become the focus of US politics, it is a distraction that prevents the International Community from addressing the threat of a narrowing global power class.
UN Leadership Needed In Turkish-Kurdish Conflict: How Ban Ki-Moon Can Help the Syrian Civil War from Getting Worse
Syrian Kurds took another step forward in their efforts to ensure Kurdish independence by expanding their administrative oversight into the Sunni town of Tal Abyad, which it liberated from the Islamic State this past summer. For the likes of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a Kurdish state, which might someday challenge the mistreatment of Kurdish populations across the region, is a nightmare on the verge of becoming reality.
Having already neglected the Islamic State threat to hobble the Kurdish Peshmerga, tried to prevent reinforcements from reaching Kobani when it was on the verge of collapse, and reawakened Turkey’s conflict with the PKK, Turkey may be on verge of starting a far broader conflict with the Kurds. Analogous to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Turkish-Kurdish conflict needs the same kind of attention and commitment from the UN, especially given its proximity to Syria.
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