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 Teheran to Tripoli in Lebanon. Already, Russia has a renewed presence and influence in the Middle East after a four-decade absence.
Our response? We’re still funding the Iranian-owned Baghdad government; still shortchanging the Kurds; still afraid to use real military power against ISIS; and terrified that Putin will push the Syrian situation into a confrontation.
He will. And the Obama administration is utterly, profoundly unprepared.