Lose the ‘quagmire’ theme; Russia can’t fall into one in Syria

Interesting times.

Putin confers with his senior military officials. (Image: Kremlin/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin via Newsweek)
Putin confers with his senior military officials. (Image: Kremlin/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin via Newsweek)

We’re going to keep this one (relatively) short.  I’ve written about Russia’s goals in Syria elsewhere (see here as well).

A Bloomberg article from Monday commendably recognizes that Russia’s goals in Syria are “far broader” than the official goal of fighting Salafi terrorists.  The authors fall short of “getting” what the Russian involvement there is about, but they’re on the right track.

The problem is that they, like almost everyone else, are still framing the situation in the terms of a U.S.-style expeditionary intervention.  This leads the authors to say something like this:

President Vladimir Putin is willing to run the risk of falling into the kind of quagmire that helped sink the Soviet Union a generation ago for the chance to roll back U.S. influence and demonstrate he can dictate terms to Washington. If the strategy is successful, Russia’s largest military drive in decades outside the former Soviet Union would force the U.S. and its allies to choose between Assad, whom they oppose for his human-rights abuses, and the brutal extremists of Islamic State.

No.  For one thing, Russia would never put so much on the line to force the U.S. coalition to choose between Assad and ISIS.  There is no history, anywhere, of anyone deploying military force for such a fanciful goal.  Russia is too careful and watchful an expeditionary power to take a risky, expensive flyer on that kind of vague proposition, for which there are few if any measures of success.

But to get to the main point: the short version of why Russia can’t fall into a quagmire in Syria, at all, is that Russia never wants to leave Syria.

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6 thoughts on “Lose the ‘quagmire’ theme; Russia can’t fall into one in Syria”

  1. Had a rant prepared, but I scrapped it.

    Let’s not get into the heartland-rimland, maritime power-land power, free-closed, authoritarian-democratic, expansion-contraction, stuff right now.

    Not when the loonies want our collective heads loped off..

    We can get back to squabbling amongst ourselves AFTER we take’m out! 🙂

    We never seem to get over that last geopolitical hurdle. Do we? Biggest error we repeatedly commit.

    Minor good news, step in the right direction, more please:


    ; )

    1. PS

      Caught the “FYROM” reference on the map, thanks. Doubt many others did.

      I tip my hat to you ma’am.

  2. Breaking: Assad finally goes! (on overnight trip to Moscow)

    Meanwhile, yet another “Assad must go!” type, packs his bags in Ottawa.

    Assad has outlasted almost all Western ‘leaders’ demanding his ouster.

    Only Merkel and Obama left, as I recall.

    There’s a revelation here somewhere, I’m sure. I can’t quite put my finger on it 🙂

  3. Bout yer jeB! (and all the rest of the (cup)cake eating politicos he reminds me of) piece,

    we’re closer to this (even in the West)…

    ..than I would ever have thought possible in my lifetime.

    Parts of Europe are close to boiling over. Parts of America can’t be far behind.

    Seems like ‘head chopping’ (by different folks, with different utensils, for different reasons), is gonna turn out to be a way of life in the 21st century.

    Nope, no optimism to share with you tonight friend optcon.

    And no, just in case some overzealous internet monitor gets the wrong idea. I’m not threatening Jeb! (which is a ludicrous identifier for a presidential candidate btw) personally. What I meant to convey is that I don’t believe the current state of affairs is fixable anymore, regardless of who the nominees are. We’re gonna have to wipe the slate clean and try again.

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