Here’s Why Russia Didn’t Deter or Respond to the US’ Latest Bombing of Syria

Yves here. One issue about this escalation: as most readers know, but it bears repeating: the US is framing these attacks as defending their troops, which is narrowly accurate but omits that the US presence in Syria and specifically its bases there are an illegal occupation, and as no one less that Trump pointed out, we are there to steal Syrian oil (as well as to foment regime change).

By Andrew Korybko, a Moscow-based American political analyst who specializes in the global systemic transition to multipolarity in the New Cold War. He has a PhD from MGIMO, which is under the umbrella of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Originally published at his website

Russia prefers that America and Israel don’t bomb Syria, but it also understands that they’re threatened by Iran’s military presence there, which arms proxy groups to fight against their occupations. Russia agrees with Iran that the US is occupying Syria and Israel is occupying Palestine, but it disagrees with the unconventional methods employed to oust them.

A lot of folks are concerned after the US struck two facilities in Eastern Syria on the pretext that they were being used by Iran to carry out at least 19 proxy attacks against American troops this month. Although Defense Secretary Austin said that this is “separate and distinct” from the latest IsraeliHamas war, he also warned that more strikes might be forthcoming if Iran ramps up its attacks like some of its media surrogates suggested it might do if the aforementioned conflict continues escalating as expected.

As it presently stands, however, the US’ latest bombing of Syria isn’t all that big of a deal. Just two facilities that were allegedly storing arms and ammunition were struck in the border town of Boukamal according to the Associated Press’ unnamed military source. By contrast, Israel has bombed Syria’s two largest airports several times this month thus far, after which each were shortly placed out of service. Here are two analyses about those particular attacks that readers should review if they have the time:

* 10 October: “Russia Is Unlikely To Let Syria Get Involved In The Latest Israeli-Hamas War

* 22 October: “Russia Isn’t Expected To Stop Israel’s Strikes In Syria

Of pertinence to this piece is that Russia never gets involved to deter or respond to any of Israel’s literally hundreds of strikes against the IRGC and its allies that it’s carried out since September 2015. That’s because President Putin agreed to a so-called “deconfliction mechanism” with Prime Minister Netanyahu in the immediate run-up to his country’s anti-terrorist intervention there. Israel was afforded complete freedom of action to respond to what it considers to be Iranian-linked threats to its security.

A similar such policy is in place when it comes to the US’ much rarer bombings of Syria on related pretexts. First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council’s Committee on International Affairs Vladimir Jabarov said in April 2017 that “Russia has no intentions to use its Aerospace Forces against US missiles if Washington decides to carry out new strikes in Syria as it could lead to a large-scale war.” In both cases, Russia occasionally objects to those two’s violations of international law, but it never militarily responds.

Over half a decade since Syria finally received the long-delayed S-300s from Russia in fall 2018, it still has yet to fire a single one at attacking American or Israeli aircraft, which is arguably attributable to Russia refusing to grant it this authorization in order to avoid any escalation that could lead to a larger conflict. This informal policy is veritably in place up to now as evidenced by President Putin telling representatives of religious associations on Wednesday that his country’s goal is to prevent the latest war’s expansion.

That being the case, what just took place actually isn’t anything new, but simply the latest manifestation of the same dynamics that have been in place for years. Russia prefers that America and Israel don’t bomb Syria, but it also understands that they’re threatened by Iran’s military presence there, which arms proxy groups to fight against their occupations. Russia agrees with Iran that the US is occupying Syria and Israel is occupying Palestine, but it disagrees with the unconventional methods employed to oust them.

The precedent established since the start of Russia’s anti-terrorist intervention in Syria in September 2015 shows that the Kremlin won’t intervene to deter or respond to American or Israeli attacks there. It also opposes Iran’s unconventional ones against their occupation forces that it plans via proxy in that country since its policymakers deem them to be a reckless escalation risk. If the latest war expands across the region, then Russia is expected to continue sitting aside as those two bomb Iran in Syria.

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  1. Victor Sciamarelli

    The increasing bromance between Putin and Xi and China’s exposure to its reliance on Middle East oil, IMO raises two questions: To what degree is Russian policy influenced by China and is the US using Israel to expand the conflict in order to separate China from ME energy the way it used Ukraine to separate Europe from Russian energy. If the US wants to contain China, it might start in the ME.
    From the NYT, “China, the world’s second-largest economy, has become addicted to foreign oil at a stunning pace. Now it depends on imports for about 72 percent of its oil needs.” “Half of China’s oil imports, and a little more than a third of all the oil burned in China, comes from the Persian Gulf.”
    “China has also started buying more oil from Iran…China has more than tripled its imports of Iranian oil in the past two years and bought 87 percent of Iran’s oil exports last month [9/2023], according to Kpler, which specializes in tracking Iran’s oil exports.”
    From Statista, China is Saudi Arabia’s biggest customer. It also relies on Iraq, Oman, Kuwait, and UAE for oil and Qatar for LNG.
    It seems reasonable to expect that Russian policy is influenced by China. From VOA, “Chinese imports of Russian oil last month [5/2023] hit their highest level since Moscow’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine…During a summit in March, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian leader Vladimir Putin pledged to boost trade to $200 billion in 2023 as they hailed their ‘no limits’ partnership.”
    It seems unlikely to me that Putin will jeopardize a “no limits” partnership with Eurasia’s largest economy by going its own way in the ME.
    China’s Economic Stake in the Middle East: Its Thirst for Oil — NYT 10/11/2023
    VOA Data: China Imports of Russian Oil Highest Since Ukraine Invasion 6/20/2023 imported 9.71 million tons,of Ukraine have almost doubled.

    1. Karl

      To what degree is Russian policy influenced by China and is the US using Israel to expand the conflict in order to separate China from ME energy the way it used Ukraine to separate Europe from Russian energy. If the US wants to contain China, it might start in the ME.

      Very interesting question, Victor. I’m surprised you haven’t gotten any responses from the NC community yet, so maybe a reply might stimulate some.

      My short answer is that threatening China’s access to ME oil is a very belligerent act. After Ukraine, the US is depleted of conventional arms so this isn’t a good time to undertake another big power gambit, even if Russia steers clear….

      In any scenario dealing with oil and the ME, success would depend on what Saudi Arabia would do, e.g. if hostilities expand to Iran. While SA would certainly profit by increasing oil production at higher oil prices if Israel “wipes Iran off the map”, would it want to be seen by the world as enabling Israel and the U.S.? Would it really want to do that? Would the U.S. really be that crazy to play this game–with Israel as our proxy? Bush/Cheney/Bolton/Trump might be willing to try, but we’ve got Biden, and I have to believe (hope!) he’s made of saner stuff. And besides, Biden probably doesn’t have enough clout with SA to pull it off. IMHO.

      I’m curious about what other more informed folks in the NC commentariat think!

  2. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves.

    That may be so.

    The son of a former manager is back at Tory HQ as the machine gears up for the general election.

    He used to have a business in Egypt, but that did not work out, so he’s gone into the other family business, politics. He reports there are neo cons at HQ, some on secondment from think tanks and others from the MIC. Their view is this crisis has exposed the BRICS as all hat and no cattle, a phrase used by the the American wannabes, and ineffectual. It appears to be emboldening the neo cons, especially as they think some countries will think twice now about joining the BRICS, and now is the time to strike at other enemies. It has also been noted the US and Israel will have more European support than 2003, so that opportunity can’t be missed.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      I should have added that there are neo con staffers seconded to the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence.

      The neo cons don’t have plan, but have a fantasy and think the fantasy can be acted upon when the occasion presents. They don’t think they need a plan, either, as plans encounter institutional friction and often lack flexibility.

      The neo cons are aware that the UK and EU don’t have the forces for such confrontations, but that’s ok, again. Why? Poor whites, blacks, Latinos and other immigrants form the bulk of the US forces that will do the fighting. They have little alternative to joining up and no voice to oppose war.

      1. square coats

        Thank you Colonel. It seems like the US has been struggling as of late to sustain something resembling adequate army recruitment numbers, despite the ongoing economic immiseration of much of the population. My impression is that the US has instead been relying on goading other countries into fighting its wars for it.

        Do you find any considerations of this among your neocons?

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you.

          They don’t care about who fights. The US’ inability to fulfill recruitment quotas does not register.

          The thing with these types, PMC, is they are detached from any professional field and display sociopathic tendencies. What you rightly identify is just a minor detail for their fantasies.

          1. synoia

            As a future General said to me “You are one of those people who believe in telling the truth.”

            This I suspect is endemic in high positions in many places in many Countries.

    2. hemeantwell

      Thank you, Colonel. It sounds like HQ is participating in a tunnel vision study. Where was NATO’s herd last year when they failed to crash the Russian economy? Herding to BRICS may not be strongly underway, but the fences are in terminal disrepair.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Thank you, Colonel. Back in 2003 those European countries still had strong economies and militaries with strong leaders as well. Now Europe is turning itself into a backwater with leaders of the caliber of Macron and Schulz so not much help can be expected from them, especially since they have emptied out their armouries and given it to the Ukrainians. That last UN vote really showed how isolated the US is becoming. But they will always find cozy jobs for those Neocons so there is that.

      1. Michaelmas

        Rev Kev: Back in 2003 those European countries still had strong economies and militaries with strong leaders as well.

        Much of the change is, ironically, down to the 2008 GFC — which the US caused — and the fact that the Fed’s swap lines with those countries’ central banks, set up then to save their economies, have since served to make them dependent on US dollar primacy.

      2. Feral Finster

        I read that yesterday, a Ukrainian refugee assaulted one of the few Dutch politicians to oppose more aid for Ukraine.

        The Dutch police basically let the attacker go.

        In other words, there are no consequences for attacking badthink voices. Europe is nowhere near done doubling down.

  3. Louis Fyne

    another big deal is that the Pentagon took >7 days to acknowledge the casualties from the attacks.

    Many ways to read between the lines—–is the (career, non-political bureaucracy part) Pentagon trying to not escalate the situation (which is tenuous for the US) by not giving Capitol Hill/media a bloody flag?

    US has too many bases in the Mideast, too dispersed to properly defend in a high-intensity, Ukraine-like war. The US setup in the Mideast is lifted straight out of General (Colonel) Custer’s time. But we aren’t dealing w/natives.

    Worst case scenarios—-we are literally going to see at least one US base overrun (I can’t remember if that even happened to the US in the Vietnam War, maybe once?).

    21th century Dien Bien Phu? fitting metaphor for today’s imperial rot

  4. The Rev Kev

    Sounds like the Russians are holding back rather than just expending their ammo and missiles. They do not intend to ‘go Winchester’ at the start of any long wars. If Biden gets it into his head to attack Syria, they will need all the missiles that they have. Come to think of it, Russia has been defending Syria from the US for a very long time. About a decade or more ago a US warship launched two missiles at Syria so perhaps this was a decapitation strike against Assad or something else vital. I never heard what the target was. Point being a Russian warship shot those two missiles down frustrating those plans. After all the blood and treasure that they spent saving Syria, there is no way that they will let the US try and take it now. It would be funny if both the Russians and the Chinese sent aerial squadrons to Syria on a good-will mission with more reinforcements of good-will if needed.

    1. Polar Socialist

      According to E.J. Magnier, US hit two empty houses in Syria claiming they were bases for Iranian backed militias. If that’s the case, there really no reason for Russia (or China) to react in any way. The whole globe already knows US presidents at times bomb other countries merely for domestic politics.

      And the whole globe can have a bitter laugh when Biden claims right of self-defense in Syria, 6000 miles from Washington. There should be no US forces in Syria at all (if one believes what Pentagon told to president Trump). Russia (or China) could really do nothing to more to underline the double standards of the rules based order.

  5. Dave Hansell

    The Russian stance on this seems logically flawed.

    Firstly because in the absence of a means of the kind of conventional methods to deal with the issues Russia says it agrees with, which is implied in this stance, there is no other rational or practical way to address them.

    The logic, therefore, is for someone to provide those conventional methods rather than lament their absence and send out the clear signal of disapproval of the only methods available – which directly contributes to encouraging the Collective West to continue actions which the same stance clearly does not agree with.

    This feeds into a second, wider, aspect of this logically flawed stance. The rationale for the SMO in Ukraine is the very real threat posed by a nazi/fascist ideology which is being used in the Ukraine to threaten Russia existentially which neither originates in Ukraine alone nor is confined to Ukraine.

    Point being that defeating and de-nazifying the Ukraine will not resolve this threat which faces not only Russia but the rest of the World and its peoples outside the minority Collective West within which that nazi/fascist ideology and the threat it poses originates and is instigated.

    To achieve its security objectives and threat to its culture and existence – which is the same threat from the same source as that facing Syria, Iran, China, Palestine et al – will require de-nazifying the Collective West.

    In the absence of any willingness to seriously attempt to address that reality by conventional methods means that unconventional methods remains the only viable option in Syria, Iran and the Near East – whose people do not have the luxury of taking the stance that Russia has taken here against the existential threat they face. So far, those unconventional methods have not proved sufficient. A reality which no doubt resulted in the penny dropping that only conventional methods could achieve the apparently limited objectives currently being pursued by Russia against Ukraine.

    And what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Russia, facing an existential threat has resorted to conventional methods to meet that existential threat. All be it with limited objectives which, in the absence of removing that threat at source, will merely postpone the threat. That same existential threat exists for the peoples of the Arab World in the Near East who do not, yet?, have the conventional means to address that threat.

    Disapproving of those unconventional methods against this threat only serves to encourage and embolden those which pose that threat to Syria, Iran and the peoples of the Near East as well as to Russia. As a stance it is therefore counterproductive to the survival objectives of Russia itself against that existential threat.

    1. juno mas

      Russia uses the West’s (US/NATO/EU) current actions (proxy war, sanctions, general belligerence) as an object lesson to the rest of world/BRICS. The Russian SMO/diplomacy was clearly intended to show the BRICS how to confront US/NATO aggression without provoking WWIII.

      The Middle East is truly a Master Chess match for Russia: how to expose the bully (US) for what it is, without provoking more destruction. The US neocons don’t give a shit about destructive policy/actions. They are willing to burn the house down. And that day may be sooner than the proletariat think.

    2. Jams O'Donnell

      Last paragraph hits the nail on the head, Dave. If Russia continues to ignore these provocations there will only be more and larger ones. This is exactly what has been happening in the Ukraine. The US were cautious about sending any missiles or tanks, but nothing was done about the escalations, apart from destroying them on the ground. Then it went to longer-ranged missiles and now (ish – if it ever happens before the Ukraine collapses) F-16’s. Russia has to stand by its redlines, or risk a nuclear escalation.

    3. Fiery Hunt

      I think you over simplify the actual goals of Russia. Ridding their neighbor of nazi/facists is straight forward and achievable. Ridding the entire Western world of nazis/fascists is not their concern.

      The Russians are Matthew Broderick in War Games. A stalemate is preferred to global annilation.

    4. Kouros

      Yes, this is my main problem with the article and with Korbyko’s take, that doesn’t even bother to do a deep dive in Russian argument. I guess Russia doesn’t approve of Partisans nowadays, with this logic.

  6. TomDority

    Martha Raditts(?) Newscaster – She introduced a new term – Suicide Drone Attack – last night.
    So , why not suicide bomb attack – suicide missile strike etc.
    Seems like that fear mongering camel has fully come into the tent again since it started coming in the door 20 some years ago..
    Got to inflame that whole region on the most ginned up fear bating – Think that News team is on US Military payroll

        1. juno mas

          Just like an artillery shell/bomb, the drone is a reasonably expendable vehicle for accurate placement of an explosive.

          1. Don

            I have no idea where the term was initiated, but granted, it makes no more sense than suicide bomb or suicide missile. I don’t really think though, that the term is intentionally fear mongering or inflammatory, just clever and catchy in a superficial way. If you think about, UAV could be equally applied to missiles or glide bombs, which have guidance systems, maybe even to shells. Who cares; there are bigger things to worry about.

            1. BlakeFelix

              Ya, but there are more nonsuicide drones that just watch or deploy their own missiles or guns, so while suicide drone is a bit silly it is accurate enough IMO. Kamikazi tactics can be assumed in rockets and missles and such.

  7. Carolinian

    Re Putin–vast Russia has many Jewish people and many Muslims. He’s a pragmatist, not an ideologue and his only such statement is that “he can’t imagine a world without Russia.” Would that our own politicians were more nationalist and less exceptionalist/internationalist. They represent a class, not a country.

    Keeping a lid on WW3 is a good thing but of course the incessant US propaganda machine will spin it as weakness because power is their only frame of reference. We are in a situation where rationality and irrationality are at war.

    1. NYMutza

      I agree with you regarding Putin, but once in a while bullies need to be punched in the face even if that might lead to a playground brawl.

      1. Phenix

        This is not a playground brawl.

        America is willing and able to kill tens of millions of people.

        Russia is willing and able to kill tens of millions of people.

        China is willing and able to kill tens of millions of people.

        We are collectively terrified and horrified by what Israel is doing to Gaza. A fight between Russia and America is a global Gaza.

  8. Lex

    Indeed, Russia’s strategy in Syria is to keep escalation potential as minimal as possible and deescalate as the first option. It’s why Russia and Turkiye haven’t fought a war over events in Syria. Partly it’s Putin’s MO, partly that a significant escalation in Syria could be problematic for Russia and partly because keeping moderately good relations with Israel and the US was more valuable than dealing them a limited defeat with escalation potential.

    But what has been the case does not necessarily mean that it will remain the case. A great deal has changed and things are changing rapidly now. It’s why the US has been so quiet about the base attacks, although Biden just cited Article 51 to justify defending them. Russia’s behavior to date has allowed it to maintain escalation dominance on this and it doesn’t need to engage US assets directly for the escalation. It could be that we see the US leave some of these positions quietly, the best case scenario for the Kremlin. They can’t really be defended and they represent a serious constraint on US behavior because of that.

    1. nippersdad

      IIRC, the Iraqi parliament voted for us to leave after the Soleimani assassination and we did not do so because we could not get a SOFA from them to protect us from war crimes tribunals. We are also still there to form a supply route for the bases we have in occupied Syria.

      Seems like with no valid rationale based in international law for being there, in addition to being indefensible those bases are going to become a real PR problem as well; a concrete example of the double standard the international community is so upset about. The Russians are getting the upper hand in the Security Council, and that would be the perfect venue for further embarrassing us into leaving quietly.

      Lots of room for assymetric diplomacy right about now.

      1. The Rev Kev

        They are already embarrassing the US and others in the UN-

        ‘A senior Russian diplomat at the UN has shown fragments of Western-supplied shells and missiles that he claimed Ukraine used to attack civilians in Donbass and other Russian regions.

        He showcased what he said was debris from a US-made HIMARS missile that hit a regional administration building in Russia’s Kherson region last September, killing three people and injuring several others.

        Polyansky went on to present a much larger fragment which he claimed was part of a Storm Shadow long-range missile with “a discernible inscription ‘Made in France’.” He said it had been used by Kiev in June to strike a bridge linking the northern part of the Crimean peninsula with the mainland. This link, he added, was crucial for transporting food and other vital supplies. Storm Shadow missiles were supplied to Ukraine by the UK.’

            1. Pym of Nantucket

              Russian patience is strategic because time is on their side. They and China are going to slow walk every single thing they can. The declining and unstable West needs a game changer play to reverse all the important trends going against them. The only thing I can think of that might be improving for the US is cannibalizing European industry but on the whole it’s zero sum for NATO.

  9. thoughtful person

    I found this post interesting and fairly convincing, with the exception of the final sentence: “If the latest war expands across the region, then Russia is expected to continue sitting aside as those two bomb Iran in Syria.” On the contrary Russia did enter the conflict in Syria 2015. There seem to be some lines that Russia won’t tolerate the belligerents crossing. I’m guessing those lines involve the survival of the Syrian government in Damascus and the Russian naval base in Tartus.

    China is very dependent on Middle Eastern oil, which could be a big factor if the MIC/Neocons manage to provoke a war with Iran.

    Thanks for the comment Colonel Smithers, insightful as always.

  10. arihalli

    With most all financial indicators pointing south, in the USA economy, and Americans besieged by high oil prices and inflation, i can’t help feeling what a ‘perfect’ time it would be for Russia to gradually begin repelling Western attacks in Syria.

    Americans don’t seem to pay attention to genocide, ongoing wars, depleting our national treasury. But its obvious they care about their purses.

    With monies going toward real or potential conflicts engaged in Russia/Ukr, Taiwan, Israel, and a potential widening mideast conflict opening up a 4th front —- perhaps the American people, could connect the dots to their loss of financial stability.

  11. NYMutza

    Russia is a paper tiger. It doesn’t even respond when Moscow is attacked by Ukraine. Apparently, Putin has an unlimited number of cheeks to turn.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The Russian Federation has fought off the attacks by some forty different counties and run their armouries dry. Some paper tiger. :)

      1. NYMutza

        The whole armories are empty meme is disinformation. The West has not run out of ammunition. The United States has massive stocks of ammunition stored in hundreds of bases around the world. Neither Russia nor China can match the war fighting logistics of the United States. When the United States has lost wars it wasn’t because of a lack of war fighting ability. Rather, it was because it lost the political will to continue the fight. That has been true since 1945. Joe Biden is not Donald Trump, nor is he Barrack Obama. Instead, he is crazy and that makes him and the United States very dangerous.

        1. ISL

          and that’s why Biden said we are using banned cluster munitions because we are running out of 155 mm shells. And that is why there is an attempt to increase production.

          Afterall, if there are plenty, why the effort to increase production.

        2. The Inimitable NEET

          “Massive stocks of ammunition stored in hundreds of bases around the world” is itself an empty meme. The U.S. doesn’t have large reserve supply of munitions around the world because it would be impossible to maintain (they don’t have indefinite life spans and often have to be refurbished after being taken out of storage) and strategically incompetent (most U.S. bases have never been under threat of attack). We won’t even provide Taiwan weapons out of our own stocks, so they’ll have to wait years for orders to be fulfilled.

          The “war fighting logistics” of the U.S. have been in tatters since the 1990s, and the shortcomings of mass consolidation + financialization of military production has been extensively catalogued. The U.S. has never lost a 20th century war due to ammunition/platform shortages because it never fights enemies that can produce much in the first place. Nor has it faced an opponent since WWII that can intercept its supply routes across the ocean. Both Russia and China have options to turn the Atlantic and Pacific into dead zones for transportation.

        3. redleg

          The industrial capacity of the USA is not anywhere close to what it was 40 years ago.
          Due to mergers, the organizational capacity (i.e. expertise) is also a shell of what it was.
          Stockpiles of weapons require maintenance, which requires resources to be devoted to doing the maintenance. These are not high budget priorities. Based on first hand experience, 20 to 30 year old artillery shells have a substantial dud rate, far more frequent than newer stock. Old propellant produces inconsistent range per charge, leading to inaccurate fire, specifically short rounds that have a high potential to hit friendly troops. Relying on stockpiled munitions will be a combat effectiveness problem until production replaces the older stock. Current production rates are incapable of keeping up with demand, and the US capacity to increase production of nitrocellulose (for propellant charges) does not currently exist. Having worked in decommissioning these facilities, they take years to construct and require enormous amounts of water.

          One additional point is that quality and quantity of men and materiel does not make an effective fighting force. Training is what makes a force effective. The US military is not trained to fight a peer. It’s barely trained to fight in units larger than company size. It’s also not trained to fight against an adversary with artillery and any sort of air support/surveillance. All of these things take substantial time and will to do. I don’t see the will, and time is measured in months to years.

        4. Lex

          Source, link? There is no massive armory nor is there an industrial base to rebuild one. The US took 300k shells from forward stocks in Israel this year and Israel has demanded they be returned because now they’re needed. Heaps of forward positioned equipment in the Middle East was revealed to have been left to rot a few months ago. That’s why there’s a desperate ferrying by C-17s going on right now. Flying equipment and munitions is poor logistics because it’s heavy and disposable. But the US has no naval supply fleet and MAERSK recently ended its contract with DoD to perform those operations.

          Now maybe it’s all a giant psyop, but that requires everyone from POTUS down to lowly DoD contractors to be extraordinarily competent. Seems unlikely.

          1. Karl

            One wonders if Russia told Iran to tell Hamas, “now is a very good time to catch the Israeli’s with their pants down” (with so much of their ammo shipped to Ukraine)…..

            I believe we also asked South Korea to give Ukraine a lot of 155 mm shells we had stored there. After much wrangling, I believe they complied (?). Hmmm. Is triggering a little conflict in the DMZ another ace up Putin’s and Xi’s sleeve?

            Everything is connected…. How many other countries have their pants down right now due to low inventories of basic military gear? We do seem to have a rather fragile position on the chessboard right now!

    2. Michael Fiorillo

      Don’t confuse strategic restraint with weakness and timidity. Putin and Lavrov are probably the greatest practitioners of statecraft operating today, which the Hegemon is in denial about, but will painfully realize jn due time.

      1. Paris

        Eternal chess champions. But the hubris of the collective West fogs their view of the world… Here hoping the Empire is gone for good, but it will take a good 20 years in this new “conflict” for it to bite the dust.

      2. NYMutza

        Both Putin and Xi can rope-a-dope all they want, but even Muhammad Ali eventually had to throw some punches in order to defeat George Foreman.

        1. samm

          Perhaps if Foreman had enough nukes to glass Russia, China, and everywhere else then Muhammad Ali would’ve considered his options more carefully too.

        2. Michael Fiorillo

          I’m not so sure your analogy works: watch the entire fight and you’ll see that Ali was more aggressive throughout than the legend of the match suggests.

          On a more positive note suggested by bringing up that fight, NCers should go to YouTube and watch clips from the concert that preceded and promoted it: amazing music by Celia Cruz and Jorge Santana with the Fania All Stars, Bill Withers, James Brown and others… a reminder of what this country could produce before Neoliberalism hollowed out the culture.

      3. Don

        I expect that if a global poll was taken (several years ago, BBC conducted one which revealed that Putin was the most admired national leader in the world at the time, which shocked BBC into not conducting future ones) Putin would be shown to be the most admired man on the planet.

        We should not be fooled into thinking that the MSM’s projected world view represents reality.

    3. Victor Sciamarelkli

      To NYMutza: Rather than name calling like “paper tiger” I think it’s obvious that we are in a crisis and a crisis demands that we focus on the essential facts, one of which, is that the world’s top three military powers and their proxies are facing each other in the ME over what they each consider is their vital interests.
      Another fact is that the Palestinian people have been fighting for an independent state and most of the world agrees with them.
      A Palestinian State would not diminish the power of these three great powers but fighting to prevent such a state would risk destroying the planet?

  12. willow

    Russia holding back is like (not) treating a wound. By allowing Israel & US to bomb Syria keeps the Arab wound open & always front of mind for Muslims. Russia intervening would be seen as taking Iran’s (Shia) side when the objective is to get the usually pro-US Islamic (Sunni) countries (from Egypt to Türkiye) to arc up and turn on their former ‘masters’. Russia has been playing a very long game which is only now coming to a head. Keep in mind it’s very unlikely Iran has been providing support for Hamas. Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood which has its key political support from Qatar & Türkiye (& formerly Egypt). Consequently, neither Iran nor Hezbollah will formally intervene until Türkiye has made its move first. Türkiye will be the ‘black swan’.

    What does Türkiye gain in addition to huge Muslim kudos? A severely weakened West means Türkiye gets to control oil-rich & strategic Libya.

    1. Willow

      US under-estimating Türkiye risk because neo-cons are intent on contriving a reason to attack Iran. That’s their sole focus & why the ‘Hamas controlled by Iran’ narrative is being pushed out so heavily. Their myopia driven by desire will end up being very very costly.

    2. Lex

      Excellent points. Erdogan is unpredictable, but promoting and then attending a 1M person rally while insinuating that Turkiye might just label Israeli leaders as war criminals is not just playing domestic politics. He’s putting himself in a place that could be hard to back down from.

      IIRC, Iran has given some funding to Hamas but it’s a minimal relationship and more about the Palestinian resistance in general than any alliance with Hamas directly.

    3. redleg

      What does Turkyie gain? Maybe a large advantage over the Greeks, stable neighbors such as Syria, and a share of the oil+gas off of the Palestine coast?
      Any one of those would be appealing by itself IMO.

  13. sugach

    “If the latest war expands across the region, then Russia is expected to continue sitting aside as those two bomb Iran in Syria.”

    Perhaps but depends on the level of destruction. However, there’s a new wrinkle to contend with, especially if the war expands: Mossad has been helping Ukraine kill the Russians. Putin recognizes that Israel has now turned the tables. Col. Doug Macgregor has mentioned Mossad helping Ukraine in several videos.

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