This isn’t news; Obama has destroyed our standing in the world, particularly in the Middle East, where three millenia of strife has taught us that a power vacuum is always filled rapidly. We have squandered our blood and treasure in that violent cesspit, and have left our only ally in the region to fend for itself at the mercy of the two leaders who are vying for the title of Obama’s nemesis.
Putin and the Mullahs (yes, I saw them open for Global Nuclear War at The Greek in 1983) are gleefully consolidating power and expanding into new territories. We disastrously misjudged Putin’s foray into Ukraine, and we disastrously misjudged Iranian negotiation as a desire for change, rather than the blatantly obvious desire for money and nuclear weapons. And Russia’s entrance into the Middle East, via Syria, is exactly what should have been expected when the United States destroyed its own credibility by losing Iraq and Afghanistan, refusing to support Israel, and otherwise playing the role of the weak kid on the playground who hopes to avoid a beating by being nice to everyone.
The New York Times’ brilliant editorial board sees Russia’s expansion into the Middle East somewhat differently.
Mr. Putin enabled the Assad government early on, and he has no particular strategy to contain the Syrian conflict. With Russia grappling with sanctions, lower oil prices and a weakened economy, it is unclear how much he can afford to invest in a dead-end war in Syria.
It’s impressive how wrong they could be. Putin’s relationship with Iran will go a long way toward easing whatever financial pain low oil prices and transient sanctions will cause. $150,000,000,000 is a lot of money, and my bet is that Russia will get a big chunk of that money.
Russia is not expanding into the Middle East for some grand humanitarian sensibility; they are expanding into the Middle East to gain control of an important piece in the geopolitical puzzle; one that Obama threw away.
Whether the Mullahs will tolerate the Russian presence after they are done consolidating their own power remains to be seen, but their goals are clear, and Russia will not go out of its way to prevent an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel or a Sunni Arab state. Why should they?