Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Russia suspends nuke deal with United States over Syrian Civil War.

Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin. Reuters.

Russia has suspended cooperation with the United States on weapons grade plutonium due to the collapse of peace talks in Syria. Reuters. The plutonium is surplus intended for the creation of nuclear weapons. In 2010, both Russia and the United States agreed to reduce their stockpiles of plutonium, but that deal has now fallen apart over Syria. The move happened after the United States stopped talks with Russia over Syria due to alleged cease fire violations. Russia also listed many grievances it has with the United States including our sanctions of the Russian government over Ukraine and NATO expansion in Eastern Europe.  

My Comment:
Once again, our policy in Syria makes no sense. Though the reduction agreement with Russia was mostly symbolic, it was a good example of the United States and Russia working together. The Obama administration has pissed away that goodwill, nonsensically over Syria of all things, and though Russia says they will not use this plutonium for weapons, it is still rather disconcerting that they were willing to go this far. 

After all, there is a bit of implied threat here, right? Russia is basically saying "hey, if you don't back down on Syria and other things, we might have to start building nukes again". That's not the kind of threat to take likely. Though I am not happy with Russia threatening us in this way, I also have to say I completely understand why they are doing so. We have been rather pointedly stepping on their toes lately, and it's not surprising that they are upset about it. 

It makes zero sense to me that we aren't working with Russia in Syria. The "rebels" are mostly Jihadists, or at the very least, won't be any better then Bashar al-Assad if they were to somehow able to get into power. I just posted the other day how I thought it would be better to let the regime win in Aleppo just so the war against the rebels would end and we could concentrate our attacks on the Jihadists like ISIS and al-Nusra. But we aren't doing so. The main reason seems to be that the cease fire didn't work out the way we wanted it, and now we are throwing a temper tantrum.

Sure, the cease fire fell apart, but that was for multiple reasons. First, it never covered people like al-Nusra, which doomed it from the start. Al-Nusra (aka Jabhat Fatah al-Sham) allies with and blends into the various rebel groups and they had every reason to fight. When the Russians say that the cease fire fell apart because of al-Nusra, I think they have a point, though it is not the only reason. We screwed things up too by accidentally (I hope) bombing a large group of regime soldiers in al-Hasakah. Finally, someone, either the Russians or the regime, bombed an aid convoy heading to Aleppo.

From my point of view, there were plenty of people that screwed up the cease fire. Though ultimately it comes down to the Syrians, both rebel and loyalist, both the Russians and the United States threw gasoline on the fire without our poorly targeted airstrikes. The fact that neither side will admit they screwed up is just making things worse. 

Of course, Syria is one of many problems Russia has with the United States. We haven't respected them and we have been picking fights where really really shouldn't. Ukraine was a great example. Though the war there was terrible, I don't really feel all that bad that Russia took back Crimea. Sure they were interfering with Ukraine's government, but we were doing the same thing when we supported the revolution that caused the mess in the first place. Our actions mostly failed though. The Russians just wanted it more, and all we managed to do was slap some useless sanctions on their country. Those sanctions did pretty much nothing and only served to anger the Russians while doing nothing to actually change their behavior.  

Relations with Russia are a major reason I am not supporting Hillary Clinton this year. I wasn't going to support her anyways, but she represents a continuation of this kind of policy. If there is one thing I think we should never do, it's walking away from the negotiation table, like Barack Obama just did. Vladimir Putin may be an adversary and a competitor, but Obama and Clinton seem determined to make him into our greatest enemy. 

I don't think Russia is our greatest enemy. Hell, I would like it if we were friends. Failing that though, I would prefer a more rational policy with Russia in general and in Syria specifically. Our interests should align there, and we should be cooperating militarily to strike ISIS and al-Nusra. Overthrowing Assad is just not going to happen and we need to admit that we backed the wrong horse. I really don't think Hillary Clinton would ever do that, and by pursuing our current course we are risking turning Russia back into our number one threat. Clinton hates Russia and isn't a rational actor when it comes to our relations with them. 

Though I don't think a war between Russia and the United States is likely, there is always a chance that something stupid could happen and it could lead to some kind of military conflict. With the Obama administration open in its hatred of Russia and Putin, the chances of a conflict are higher then they have any right to be. I am hoping that when we have a new president next year he (and yes, I hope it's a he) will be able to restore relations with Russia and bring back this disarmament program. Failing that, I hope the new president decides that we can't dig our way out of our problem with Russia when we are already in a massive hole... 

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