Putin wants to humiliate Obama with airstrikes against ISIS in Syria…and he is absolutely succeeding
The first thing to understand about Vladimir Putin is that he’s not content just to win. He has to destroy his opponents, foreign or domestic.
His deeds may be despicable and his manners far too crude for the Upper West Side, but the guy is a force of nature, a man who — by sheer strength of will — has used a broken country and its rusting military to change the world. Meanwhile, our astonished president sulks like a high school girl stood up by her boyfriend (“But Vladimir . . . you promised!”).
Now we have reached the point where a Russian general can barge into a US military office in the Middle East and order us to stop flying our aircraft over Syria. Oh, we’re still flying, for now — but you can bet that our flights are restricted and careful to the point of paralysis.
You bet President Obama’s afraid of Putin. Physically, tangibly, change-the-diaper afraid.
And as I wrote in these pages on Monday, the odds are good that Putin will order the shootdown of a US drone or even a manned aircraft, anyway. Why? Because he can.
And he enjoys it.
But Putin sees a necessity in humiliating the United States. That’s business. And yet, despite Putin’s obviousness, the White House team and its acolytes publicly scratch their heads and other body parts, saying, “We’re not certain what the Russians intend.”
So let’s help them. Here are Putin’s clear strategic goals:
In the short term, rescue the failing regime of Russia’s ally, Syria’s blood-drenched President Bashar al-Assad. And in doing so, eliminate all opposition groups except ISIS, leaving the United States, Europe and the world with the stark choice of “Assad or Islamic State?”
In the mid-term, create a fait accompli, irreversible circumstances, on the ground in the Middle East (and in Ukraine) that will defeat the next US president even before he takes office.
Expect a lot more aggression and violence from Putin between now and Inauguration Day 2017. Obama’s delusional worldview — that of a narrow-shouldered, bleeding-heart undergraduate at a second-rate university — is a gift to Putin that keeps on giving. (In almost seven years in office, Obama still hasn’t grasped that words don’t stop bullets.)
In the longer term, Putin intends to re-establish Russia’s grandeur and glory from the apogee of the czars — and to go still further by dominating the Middle East and its energy resources.
Putin has bet on the Shia world against the Sunni Muslims and is well along in the process of building a wall of allies from Tehran to Tripoli. Already, Russia has a renewed presence and influence in the Middle East after a four-decade absence.
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