That’s what foreign policy seems to be full of for our State Department boys and girls.
Russia is in Iraq, joining a loose coalition of Iraq, Iran, and Syria, ostensibly to help Iraq fight the Daesh. Russia is inserting generals into a “coordination” cell in Baghdad, and it’s moving in fighter aircraft to fly “reconnaissance” missions for Iraq (and for themselves…).
Separately (at least the boys and girls in State seem think it’s a separate thing), Russia has been supplying ground combat hardware and soldiers to Syria, ostensibly to fight the Daesh there, and to prop up Bashar al-Assad.
What’s going on here, as Walter Cronkite might ask?
A carefully anonymous “senior US official” who attended a meeting between the head boy, the guy who sits in the SecState chair John Kerry, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov mumbled this:
We’re just at the beginning of trying to understand what the Russians’ intentions are in Syria, in Iraq, and to try to see if there are mutually beneficial ways forward here. We’ve got a long way to go in that conversation.
In other words, State, caught completely by surprise by Russia’s move into Syria, has been caught even more flat-footed by Russia’s move into Iraq.
It’s actually pretty clear “what’s going on here.” Syria was a Soviet client since shortly after World War II. Iraq was a Soviet client—a heavily supplied and armed one—for nearly as long. Apparently, in the latter case, the boys and girls missed whose equipment we shot up in two Iraq wars, for instance.
It seems, too, that our boys and girls have forgotten Russian Premier Vladimir Putin’s goal of reconstituting the Soviet Empire. The collapse of the Soviet Union, Putin has said, was a geopolitical tragedy of epic proportion, but it seems our boys and girls slept through that part of the lecture. Or perhaps the idea is just so foreign to them that they can’t conceive anything about it.
Putin is busily reconstituting that Soviet empire. Pure and simple. And if any of that deprecates American influence, if any of that embarrasses us (always assuming anyone in the Obama administration has the grace to be embarrassable), so much the better.
No mysteries there.