Wesley Clark: In Syria, Russia is the real threat (updated)
U.S. must use leverage to counter Putin's ambitions in Eastern EuropeWesley K. Clark, 9:20 p.m. EST February 11, 2016, USA Today
The latest U.S.-Russian Syria talks have delivered, for the moment, hope for renewed humanitarian aid and the possibility of a partial cease-fire. Thanks to months of Russian air and artillery strikes, diplomacy has locked rebels in a weak position
Winning now on the ground, Bashar Assad and Russia have little need to reach a long term settlement to the Syrian War that returns control of Syria to the Syrian people. Instead, this shaky partial solution allows the mass of refugees fleeing the chaos to continue to grow, leaving difficult choices for America and Europe.
President Obama has wisely resisted reckless calls to launch U.S. ground forces into Syria and Iraq to defeat ISIL, also known as ISIS or the Islamic State. This would attract a surge of new zealots to ISIL’s ranks. American troops would once again be chasing fighters that would blend back into the population, and just as before, we would be caught in the deep geopolitical struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Now there is Russia — with its scary S-400 air defense system, new jets and an implicit nuclear threat. As attention turns to some form of coordinated action against ISIL and other terrorists groups left out of the cease-fire, the United States and our allies cannot leave Russia’s position uncontested and a weak role for our allied-funded “good” jihadis.