U.S., Russia and the Middle East

Same topic, different views

By Tim Baldwin and Joe Carbonari

By Tim Baldwin

Along with the U.S., Russia has opened military action in the Middle East in what Vladimir Putin says is an attack on the Islamic State. Reporters have noted that while the U.S. and Russia appear to have the same enemy (ISIS), they have very different friends. Will this cause an irreconcilable conflict between Russia and U.S.?

National security considered, Russia and China are a much greater threat to the U.S. than the Middle East. The U.S. has played political and military games in the Middle East for decades, even though Russia has the more legitimate and obvious interest in that region given their close proximity and history. The U.S. has set leaders up and down there. Russia (and Europe) have suffered collateral damage as a result. It is only natural that our entanglements can and will lead to conflicts with Russia.

Historically, Democrats more readily criticize U.S. entanglements in the Middle East, while most Republicans, except for those like Ron and Rand Paul, encourage them. In truth, however, Americans know very little about our interests there and the damaging consequences that could result. If our foreign policy creates a military conflict with Russia, it may force Americans to fight against a foreign nation that has a right and just cause against us. Protect your country though it created the problem: talk about choosing a lesser of two evils.

By Joe Carbonari

“It’s the economy, stupid.” Hillary Clinton should remember it and Vladimir Putin should, too. If the world’s economy is significantly disrupted by something like the disorder in the Middle East, we’ve got to work to restore order. If we don’t take the lead, from our position of strength, who will? Human nature teaches that when you play with the big boys you have to play big. You have to project. You have to show that you are good at what you do and that you are safe to be around. The same is true of countries and of their leaders. Vacuums are filled.

Syria, ISIS, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya … and the list goes on. Islam is at war with itself. Basically Sunni (Saudi Arabia, et al) vs. Shia (Iran, et al). The Sunnis have the most oil and most of the Islamic population from Saudi Arabia to the Mediterranean and around it on the African side. It is not our neighborhood. We do, however, have to try to keep a semblance of order – to the shores of Tripoli and beyond.

The risk now is that we will miscalculate something Putin does and/or fall accidentally into a serious military standoff. Let alone the death and carnage that could result, consider the sure-fire disruption of the world economy. Jobs lost. Lives diminished.

We need to deal with Putin and his boys. Who do we send? What do they say?

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