The Rise of Russia

One of the stranger things about living in America is the lack of a news media. With a few exceptions, what we call a news media is mostly just the propaganda arm of the far-left and the ruling class. The proselytizing is endless. Even sports is larded up with “messages” that have nothing to do with sports. President Obama has been on ESPN more than the coach of the New England Patriots.

Another consequence of this is that big important stuff gets ignored. For instance, the great re-arrangement of the chess board in the Near and Middle East has gone largely ignored mostly because it would be embarrassing to Obama. The Russians are about to rub out ISIS and setup Iran as the regional hegemon.

Syria’s armed forces advanced south of the second city of Aleppo on Friday in a fresh ground offensive backed by Russian warplanes, a monitoring group said.

Since Moscow began its air war in support of Damascus on September 30, the Syrian army has launched assaults against rebels in at least four provinces with Russian aerial support, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Russian air cover is backing offensives by Syria’s army and allied militias in the central provinces of Homs and Hama, as well as Aleppo in the north and Latakia along the coast.

On Friday, the Syrian army pushed south from the provincial capital Aleppo city, where control is divided between regime and rebels forces, as Russian air strikes pounded the villages of Al-Hader and Khan Tuman and nearby localities.

“The Syrian army started a new front on Friday and advanced to take control of the villages of Abteen and Kaddar” about 15 kilometres (12 miles) south of Aleppo city, said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

He said “dozens” of Russian aerial attacks in the past 24 hours had struck the area, which is controlled by a patchwork of groups including rebels, Islamist fighters and Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate, Al-Nusra Front.

For a generation, the US ruled over the Middle East through the Saudis and Israelis. It was hardly perfect, but that was the arrangement. The main point of it was to keep the oil flowing and the crazies bottled up in their own lands. Suddenly, the regional hegemon is going to be Iran, backed by Russia, with some support from Syria’s Alawite tribe.

Once the Syrians regain control of the Western cities, the push east to wipe out ISIS comes next. It’s easy to forget that ISIS is a Saudi creation, for the most part, and the US has had some hand in funding them. Once ISIS is gone, the Saudis are out of cards to play and they will find their authority in the region greatly reduced. In the Arab world, might makes right.

That’s not a small thing. The Russians will now control a vital piece of Europe’s energy supplies. By setting up Iran as a Russian client and the bully on the block, the Russians will effectively control Middle East policy and be wired into the complex relationships that transcend the region. A while back, I pointed out that those millions of Arab men marching into Europe will have a lot of Russian friends too.

Another piece on the board is the fact that the Russians have transformed their military under Putin in response to what they have learned from US military involvement in the Arab world. Those little green men who turned up in Crimea should have been an eye-opener to the West. Now it looks like the Russian military success in Syria is getting the attention of Western strategists.

The strikes have involved aircraft never before tested in combat, including the Sukhoi Su-34 strike fighter, which NATO calls the Fullback, and a ship-based cruise missile fired more than 900 miles from the Caspian Sea, which, according to some analysts, surpasses the American equivalent in technological capability.

Russia’s jets have struck in support of Syrian ground troops advancing from areas under the control of the Syrian government, and might soon back an Iranian-led offensive that appeared to be forming in the northern province of Aleppo on Wednesday. That coordination reflects what American officials described as months of meticulous planning behind Russia’s first military campaign outside former Soviet borders since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

From an American perspective, handing the Middle East over to the Russians is not a terrible thing. Americans are far too moralistic to run a proper empire. The Russians are too incompetent to remain a big player in the region in the long run, but in the short run they will be the whip hand that is needed to keep the peace. The Russians will kill everything that moves in eastern Syria, for example, in order to subdue ISIS.

The bigger issue is that the Russians can effectively coordinate a multi-pronged attack on Europe, without triggering a nuclear war. In the east, they can put economic pressure on the Baltics, Ukraine and Poland. They can also put pressure on the Germans through their near monopoly of natural gas flowing into Europe. Then there is the wave of migrants flowing north that Russia can turn on and off as necessary.

The center of gravity in Eurasia is moving east and Americans hardly notice. How much of this is due to Obama’s incompetence and how much is Putin’s skill is hard to know. There’s also the fact that the American foreign policy establishment is exhausted spiritually and intellectually. Even so, the great under reported story of this decade is the rise of Russia as a world player.

19 thoughts on “The Rise of Russia

  1. Nothing like doubling down on tyranny when your on a roll:

    “Hunt” down right wing “Extremists”.
    Hunt me down?
    Because my views and beliefs of rule of law and my consent is now illegal and makes me a bitter clinger?
    Come and get me motherfuckers!

    Hey Zman, what are you gonna do when your blog and your views makes you a “rightwing extremist, and they “hunt you down”?

    Whats next, re-education camps?
    Death warrants with our faces on them captured from NSA fusion center archives?

    We aint kulak’s, we are “Right Wing Extremists” now.

  2. The twelfth largest economy in the world is bullying the world’s first place economy.

    I wonder how much Putin spends on funding birth control for college girls or buying cell phones for his urban poor.

  3. This isn’t the same Russian army that fought in the 80s, and the Russians don’t have lawyers looking over their shoulders delineating the international rules.

  4. **One of the stranger things about living in America is the lack of a news media.**

    When Soviets visited the US during the 1980s they were surprised that just like Russia, every newspaper and TV news program all had the same stories. It turns out that government intervention is not necessary for that to happen.

  5. I wonder how long the Russians can maintain the pace of operations in Syria? They are famous for sophisticated systems (aircraft, tanks, ships, missiles) that don’t hold up over an extended campaign. Historically, their organizational maintenance units were small (often non existent), under trained and poorly supplied. This is not much of a handicap when your operational practices consist of mass, followed by more mass, followed by, more mass. A modern fighter bomber requires hours of maintenance for every hour flown. Not to mention a very deep supply of spare parts from bolts to engines. There’s a reason why western air forces can fly F16s for 25 years and why the Indian Air Force is hankering for western aircraft.
    Supporting a smallish expeditionary force is certainly well within their budget, but over time it’s going to get expensive to maintain a pace of operations to keep ISIS off balance. Plus I further question the durability of Syrian ground troops.

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  7. I am probably being impolite by calling Obama a coward, but Putin’s skills parallel the shark who can detect blood in the water. Obama’s weaknesses (or possibly a design for a weaker America) are chum to the ‘shark’.

    As someone famously said, Putin is playing chess while Obama plays checkers (or was that golf?).

    • Putin is on a roll now, but in fact for several years he did not believe that Obama was the fool he takes him for now. The Soviet intelligence community assumed that this was all political posturing and that it was merely a polished product of another American ruse.No one could possibly mean the things which he said.

      In the 1980’s my brother-in-law was detached from Army Intelligence for eighteen months to accept a position with the UN peacekeeping authority in the middle-east. It was composed mainly of Americans, Europeans, and Russians. The Russian officers lived to be in the company of Americans. This caused resentment among the Europeans, but it was a dynamic which was virtually unavoidable for the Americans. The Russian identity was based on being the great protagonist of the most powerful and dynamic country on earth. They liked being our enemy because it was all the only link to greatness they were capable of. So they could make no sense of Obama by taking him at his word. When they realized differently it was like finding out every babe at the party was putting out no questions asked. They are having fun now for the first time since they pissed all over jimmy carter.

      I will admit to cracking a smile now and again over this. Does anyone else? My greater enemy is at home, and that is true for the Europeans as well.

  8. One of the issues that the west should be careful about is that the Russians are (finally) getting some proper military practice.

    We have got used to the west, notably America, getting valuable hands-on experience of fighting. That includes the matter of logistics, medical expertise, troop morale and so on. These conflicts may or may not be successful but they got military matters initiated, examined and polished. The Russians could only look at having military experience in small areas and as they have little spare cash they couldn’t train effectively. I am led to believe Russian fighter pilots spent far more time in the classroom on theory than actual flying as it was so expensive.

    Now they are getting the practice they need in Syria. Once they get that practice, they will fancy doing more. Now all military engines overreach themselves eventually, but once Putin’s people feel they are on a roll, watch out for more of this kind of thing.

    • The interesting thing to me about the Russians is Putin is ushering in a massive philosophical change. The Russians have based their military on the massive use people, defense in depth and distance. The AK-47 is a great example. You can make a lot of them cheaply, they work in all conditions and they are easy to use. You hand out a bunch of them to poorly trained soldiers and rely on volume.

      The use of small, adaptable units equipped with the best available tools is an Anglo-American way that grew out of our culture. I’m skeptical about how well that can be adopted by Russians. Those are my people and my people don’t do hippy very well.

  9. Merkel will be no problem for Putin. She has been and is a fellow traveler. Putin can simply watch as Merkel concentrates on higher priced energy and placing large numbers of militant Islamic young men. Russia will continue to get payback for German treachery after the Polish adventure many decades ago.

    • I think Merkel understands that Germany can never be in a war on which they are not on the side of Russia. The rule sh seems to be operating from is that Germany must always be on the side with the most resources and that side has to include Russia. While we still have Straussian idiots running US foreign policy. Germany operates as a broker between the US and Russia. Once the US withdraws from Europe, Germany will rule over Europe with Russia.

      • London and neocons are not going to like that new arrangement. Migrant “crisis” is playing into their hands. I see it every day here in my part of the world. Merkel made a big mistake inviting them. Now she is putting the whole EU project in jeopardy.

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  11. I’ll believe ISIS might be defeated when they are, and that they are when they have been for fifteen years.

    Remember the Anbar Awakening?

    We killed a lot of people too. The Soviets killed a lot of people in Afghanistan. A lot of people have killed a lot of people.

  12. This is probably a ploy to push up oil prices as much as an opportunity to extend Russian influence, but I’m sure that’s seen as a nice bonus.

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