Putin pitches in to clear the way for Trump’s America First foreign policy

On 13 January 2016, the Moscow Times reported the following:

“Russian army personnel are being briefed for deployment to Syria, according to military brochures obtained by Russia’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper. … One brochure is emblazoned with the logo of the Red Army — a red, white, and blue star — and features a Russian-Arabic phrase book, a map of Syria and the Middle east, and an illustrated guide to military equipment and ranks within the Syrian army. … Military experts say the brochures are similar to those handed out to Soviet troops before and during the Afghan war, Novaya Gazeta reported.”

On 10 December 2016, the Kabul-based outlet TOL Onenews Online published the following statement by Russia’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Alexander Mantytskiy.

“… Daesh [the Islamic State] is trying to reach Central Asia, Russia, and China, and Russia has formed a relationship with the Taliban to secure [Russian] citizens’ lives. [Russia’s leaders claim] our interests are the same as the Taliban’s in fighting Daesh. It is clear that Taliban fight Daesh. We never said that we back up Taliban in fighting Daesh … [but] America has failed to tackle insurgents and Russia is ready to help Afghanistan.”

In a time of massive military and economic troubles for America that have been caused by a half-century of interventionist, war-causing U.S. foreign policy, along comes a beacon of end-of-tunnel light in the form of Russian President Putin. Readers of this space may recall that it was recommended to President Putin that he hit the Islamic State and the other anti-Asaad Islamist groups as hard and as indiscriminately as possible, convince the Islamist that the game was not worth the candle, and then immediately high-tail it back to the steppes.

But, like countless foolhardy U.S. leaders, Mr. Putin ignored that wise advice and now is well and truly stuck in Syria. Worse for Russia, Putin, his military, and their country are seen throughout the Sunni Muslim world as the champions of territorial expansionism by the hated apostate Shia and Alawites, as well as being the well-armed architects who are helping the apostates to build a belt of Shia-control — which will yield massive oppression of Sunnis — from the Western border of Afghanistan to the lovely beaches of the Lebanon’s Mediterranean Coast. Alas, Mr. Putin — at least for your country’s sake — you did not listen to commonsense, and have proven that you are no Uncle Joe Stalin when it comes to the kind of warfare that makes the enemy’s pips squeak.

But Mr. Putin’s now self-defeating excursion into Syria is a splendid opportunity for the incoming Trump administration to bid an unfond adieu to the catastrophic-for-America war that George W. Bush and his sidekicks unnecessarily stated, and which Barack Obama continued, in Afghanistan; restarted in Iraq; and quietly expanded through most of Arab and Black Africa. Behold that entire region, and you will not see a single life-and-death U.S. national security interest.

Indeed, what you will see are useless — now that America is energy independent — one-way, war-causing alliances with the Gulf Arab and African tyrants, and a supine, slavish, extortionate, and war-causing relationship with Israel. Mr. Putin, bless his little Bolshevik heart, has given the U.S. national government a chance to get out of a sucking quagmire into which far too much America wealth, blood, prestige, and opportunity costs have been wastefully poured. If Mr. Trump and his team recognize this astoundingly advantageous opportunity — and then move quickly homeward — they will miss out on having to deal with the approaching collapse of Egypt and Tunisia, the regrouping and expansion of the Islamic State in southern Libya and central Africa, the solidification of the above-noted, Shia-controlled belt of formerly Sunni territory, and that long-awaited and much to be desired regional Sunni-Shia war.

And like cable television commercials that offer “buy one, get two garden hoses,” Mr. Putin’s generosity toward the United States does not end in Syria-Iraq, it extends to Afghanistan. While Syria was, for Russia, an unnecessary war, in the next few years Mr. Putin will have to send the Russian army — not just its air force and Special Forces — to Afghanistan because the Islamists there are approaching the status of an existential threat to the Russian Federation (RF). Why? Because, first, the Islamists in Afghanistan have easy access to overwhelmingly Muslim Central Asia via the open borders of the region’s states that are contiguous to Afghanistan. In turn, the borders of the RF’s provinces/republics that are contiguous with Central Asian states are likewise largely unguarded, and ease the entry into Russia of Central Asian Muslims looking for work, as well as Islamists looking to proselytize, recruit, or attack. (NB: Those porous borders, needless to say, also give the mujahideen a path along which to send aid and veteran fighters to the Muslim Uighurs in western China. The Uighurs are resisting Beijing’s longstanding campaign to reduce them to a cultureless minority in their historic lands by inundating them with Han Chinese.)

Second, Mr. Putin’s policies in the Middle East have given the Islamists and the Sunni world generally the motivation to wage war more intensely against Russia. Putin’s brutal but, sadly, not-intended-to-win intervention in Syria has sharpened what has been a deep but dormant Sunni hatred for Russia, which is based on Moscow’s invasion and occupation of Muslim Afghanistan (1979-1992) and its now more than 20 year-old war against Islamist fighters in the North Caucasus. (NB: Since the 19th century, Russian leaders have had a debilitating blind spot when it comes to recognizing that the Russian/Soviet military is a very long shot to come out the winner in wars waged against Muslims in cold and mountainous countries.)

Third, Putin, even more clearly than Obama, has allied his country with Sunni Islam’s number one enemy, Shia Muslims and their various sub-sects. By the twin actions of killing Sunnis Muslims in Syria and conquering their historic cities — Aleppo, for example — and turning them over to Shia or Shia-like governance, Putin and his generals have provided extremely effective motivators for uniting Sunni Muslims worldwide against Russia. Putin’s interventionism has put at risk not only Russia’s overseas presence and interests, but also has made a highly negative impression on Russia’s own Muslim population — the media claim it may be as large as 20 million — an increasing part of which believes itself to be discriminated against by the Russian government, and persecuted by the Russian Orthodox Church.

Mr. Putin’s military intervention in Syria, the Russian intervention soon to come in Afghanistan, and the negative impact each will have on the RF’s increasingly restive Sunni Muslims are a godsend for those Americans sick of unnecessary, costly, and always-lost wars, and who oppose the interventionist U.S. foreign policies that have invariably produced them.

Mr. Trump, the man you have never met— Mr. Putin — has created a not-to-be-missed chance for your administration to unload two hopelessly lost and unnecessary wars, and allow other nations — all America’s enemies — to bear the human, economic, and domestic insecurity costs of a regional struggle that will resemble a war of all against all. Such a war will do nothing but kill the republic’s enemies; strengthen U.S. national security; afford a respite for our military and intelligence services to be rebuilt and cleansed of “there is no military solution” generals and lying and Democrat-butt-licking senior CIA leaders; and to build the border wall that should have been the national government’s first, post-9/11 national-security priority.

So, get on with it, Mr. Trump. Withdraw the U.S. military from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and let Americans watch Russia writhe in the pain that is always produced by unnecessary foreign military intervention. And as that writhing worsens, use your twitter sermons to remind the citizenry that U.S. withdrawal has allowed the republic’s enemies to fight and kill each other, as well as to begin to re-school them on the republic-preserving nature of General Washington’s recipe for a foreign policy grounded in promoting trade, non-intervention, and neutrality.

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.