Saturday, October 03, 2015

Increase the Pain Factor

We're only short of options in Syria that the administration is willing to use.


The question on everyone’s mind is: will the United States and its European and regional Sunni allies intervene to stop President Vladimir Putin from reversing the gains made by mainstream Syrian rebels after more than four years of war?

Few are holding their breath. ...

After the Russian "surge" into Syria, he said, "America and its allies now look like the only group without a plan".

It isn't true that we don't have options, as the headline says. We just don't want to use them.

And it doesn't require us to go toe-to-toe with the Ruskies.

But it does require us to do more than simply warn the Russians that they are doomed to failure:

U.S. President Barack Obama warned Russia on Friday that its bombing campaign against Syrian rebels will suck Moscow into a "quagmire," after a third straight day of air raids in support of President Bashar al-Assad.

President Obama is actually right that Putin intervened because Assad is in a world of hurt.

But just as saying Assad must go and hoping that will happen is no way to get Assad to go, just telling Putin he is doomed does not doom his effort.

Assad has problems and Putin's intervention is a sugar rush of a morale boost for Assad's troops that will wear off as the Syrian troops realize that they are in the same firefights with the same enemies in the same alleys despite Russia's intervention.

But we can make sure that Russia fails--and add to their costs--by arming Syrian rebels so they can hurt Assad and hurt the Russians.

We don't need to fight the Russians. But if we don't throw Putin and Assad a diplomatic lifeline (I'm looking at you, Kerry) and instead contribute to that Russian quagmire, we'll stop the Russian-Iranian alliance in Syria.

And make it more difficult for Putin to afford war in Ukraine, too, by increasing the cost of Russian intervention in Syria.

Not to be crude, but Russia has to start sending body bags back home to Moscow. Increase the pain factor and maybe Putin will stop his aggression before Estonia gets to the top of his list.