Russia has been helping to clean US-caused trainwrecks, but at a cost to its own US relations
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
Russia and the US have an interesting relationship.
The US makes a mess. Russia lets it be. Then the US makes an even bigger mess. Russia again lets it be.
Then the US makes an even bigger mess and tries to clean it up, but fails and fails and fails. Then Russia walks in and tries to help clean up the US' mess.
Then the US does everything in its power to prevent Russia from cleaning the mess, and hurls wild, hysterical accusations at Russia for actually making progress where the US had failed.
Syria, Libya, Afghanistan. All giant FUBARs. All US trainwrecks where Russia tried to help only to be viciously attacked for its efforts.
Russia's Syria intervention is unimaginable without the prior US intervention in Syria. Not only did the initial American moves against Damascus lead to the rise of ISIS, but by the time Russia got involved the US was already beginning to reverse itself.
The US had been bombing ISIS in Syria since September 2014. When the Russian air force moved in in September 2015, it moved in on America's own side.
As far as the Russians were concerned they were in Syria to do what the Pentagon was doing. They would fight Islamist extremists—only where US was targeting ISIS alone, they themselves would do it the right way—they would go further and target al-Qaeda and its battlefield allies as well as ISIS.
What has Russia gotten in way of thanks for that? Hysterical accusations that it's helping Assad "gas its own people".
In Libya so far Russia has not done a whole lot—but it has been active on the political side of things. It has done something the US refuses to do. It has publicly treated with General Haftar.
Now Haftar is not someone I would spend a vacation with, but he is a major force in Libya. There is no way where you stabilize and put back together that country without treating with him.
But the US—whose intervention in 2011 completely shattered the country, leading to a rise of Islamist extremism and a vain, ineffectual government surviving on life support from abroad—refuses to do so.
Rather than put back the country it destroyed back together, it wants to feint a moral superiority over Haftar—a known asset of its CIA of twenty years.
In Afghanistan ever since the US walked into that swamp in 2001 it has tried to establish communication channels and make peace with any Taliban willing to talk.
It has been so desperate for back-channels with Taliban that it at one point handed out millions of dollars in payments to a supposed Taliban envoy, but actually a scam artist.
Now Russia has succeeded in developing a line to the Taliban and has been sponsoring regional conferences involving Iran, Pakistan, India and China to talk about a solution to the Afhanistan conflict. What has been the US response? A thank you note?
Nope, the US response has been to denounce Moscow as "legitimizing" the Taliban and insinuating that Russia might be arming them—albeit Russia has been their opponent for far longer than the US has been.
Similarly when Russia sponsored Syria peace talks US bribed CIA-backed rebel groups (and battlefield allies of al-Qaeda) not to attend.
Russia's military intervention in Syria causes "collateral damage" that no one is ever going to take responsibility for, so as a libertarian I can not possibly support it. But even I have to admit that where it comes to blunting the very worst aspects of US intervention and chaos-making, in Syria in particular, the Russians have done a decent job.
But here is a catch, where Russians have had some success in alleviating the trainwreck in Syria and might have the right idea to help stabilize Libya and Afghanistan as well, their help has been disastrous for US-Russian relations.
Even though Russians are largely pursuing the very same goals that the US is, the Empire can not help itself but resent the Russian "interference" and attack Moscow for it.
Kremlin strategists must be asking themselves if it's worth it. Does it makes sense for Russia to aggravate its own uneasy US relations in order to help out Washington DC and the countries unfortunate enough to be targeted by it?
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