Israel Mesfin, Contributor Ω
American foreign policy in the Middle East over the past decade can be boiled down to the old cliché of “shoot first, ask questions later.”
This is evident in both the Bush doctrine and Obama’s use of drones in Yemen. Any reasonable person would have assumed a strike on Syria was imminent when the U.S. began to position its warships to within striking distance of Damascus.
Fortunately, the stars happened for align for President Assad, A war-weary American public was overwhelmingly against any kind of military intervention in Syria. Military intervention was made even more complicated when the tea leaves were reading that congress would vote down President Obama’s proposal. The Assad regime lucked out one more time when Prime Minster David Cameron of the United Kingdom had to withdraw his support for military intervention following a vote in his parliament.
Since the end of the Cold War, Russia’s relationship the Middle East has been very pragmatic. The Russian government’s willingness to support either Sunni or Shiite regimes, as long it gets what it wants, has been made clear. President Putin, being the pragmatist that he is, could not and would not see a Syrian regime that he has invested in so heavily fall apart. After all, he did not relieve the country of its debt out the goodness in his heart.
America could not let the Assad regime have chemical weapons out of fear they might get into the hands of Muslim extremists and harm Israel.
Russia could not let the Assad regime’s chemical stockpile go unchecked because of the fear they might get into the hands of Muslim extremists sympathetic with the plight of Muslims in the Kosovo region.
The aforementioned relationships and power struggles help place the current stance of all key players in context. However, it does not make it any more palatable for the layman to see why the secretary of state John Kerry would call France America’s oldest ally in the same week that he was shaking the hands of senior Russian diplomats on a deal that would pause the imminent threat of military action against Syria.
The events unfolding in Syria have left a lot of people thinking about the Middle East and scratching their heads wondering if American political and military hegemony is starting to fade and become a thing of the past.
Recent op-eds from John McCain in Pravda and President Putin in The New York Times expose hypocrisy on both sides, leaving Canadians and TRU students with an existential question: with which is the world better off — American values or Russian values?