Burnette: Are We Fighting Another Proxy War with Russia?

A Syrian soldier in 1992. (Public domain photo by Tech. Sgt. H. H. Deffner)

We are not at war with Russia. We will likely not go to war with Russia in the foreseeable future. We are past the Cold War and done fighting proxy wars with the USSR over communism and capitalism.

The situation in Syria comes down to a couple factors for all sides.

The United States and Russia both want to defeat ISIS. Both nations have been affected directly by them and those inspired by them: St. Petersburg, Orlando, San Bernadino… the list goes on.

Russia, however, has an economic agenda in the region and that is what differs the American agenda from that of our old Cold War foe. They need oil and natural resources from the area to drive their economy.

If only Russia and the United States were the only ones with beef in the war. The US is backing rebels that are fighting primarily ISIS but sometimes scuffles with Assad, whom the Russians are backing.

However, there are more than one coalition of rebels and some of them are fighting Assad, hoping to fight ISIS later once Syria is under the control of a democracy overseen by the United Nations, when everyone can have an agenda of fighting ISIS and not worry about the rebellion that sprawled back in the Arab Spring at the beginning of the decade.

But wait, there’s more.

The Kurds, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other major oil powers have interests in the region too. Each backing their own group for their own economic interests, except the Kurds who are vying for their own territory in the northeastern part of Syria.

The US is now actively opposing the Assad regime. This is in opposition to Russia who of course is backing the Syrian government.

This could be characterized by some as a proxy war if things escalate between Russia and the United States and the other NATO allied forces.

I disagree.

A proxy war implies that the war is being fought in opposition to the other side for an outside agenda, such as communism versus capitalism. This war, if it were to happen, would be in support of sides for the direct reasons rather than to simply oppose the other side’s supporters.

I have my doubts that this will escalate beyond what has been happening. I doubt we will escalate to ground troops or escalate airstrikes against the Assad regime.

He is trying to be more Reagan-esque. This is his opportunity. Reagan invaded Grenada to distract from an embassy attack in Beirut.

Trump would be distracting from his failings with domestic policy and his dealings with Russia.

No matter how many times he says it was about the beautiful little children, I have my doubts. He did not care when it was bombs, so why does he care when it is chemicals?

I have a hard time believing he actually cared and this was not a Reagan-esque distraction of what matters both here and abroad.

There is an absolute right and an absolute wrong. It is backing the rebels. It is in the interest of stopping attacks on civilians by both Assad and ISIS. I would support action that keeps us out of war but supports the rebels, continued airstrikes and advisors on the ground.

Send them money and arms, but keep us out of war.

This may not be a proxy war with Russia, but any war with us on one side and Russia on the other cannot end with an absolute winner.

We are in a post-Cold War age, but that does not mean a post-nuclear age.

It is not only bad for our country but bad for this world if we go to war with the only other nuclear power that rivals us.

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