Monday, October 5, 2015

Brzezinski on US Reaction to Putin's Military Actions in Syria and My Comments

In a commentary in the Financial Times on October 4, 2015, Zbigniew Brzezinski suggests that the United States cannot turn a blind eye to Russia's attacks not on the Islamic State but on groups in Syria supported by the United States, in Putin's efforts to support the Assad regime. Brzezinski writes that "any repetition of what has just transpired should prompt US retaliation."

I seldom agree these years with Zbigniew Brzezinski. Heck, I've seldom agreed with him over the decades. And I thought Obama presented well at his press conference the other day in warning against a proxy war in Syria and suggesting that Russia will find itself in another quagmire (remember Afghanistan). But, I think doing nothing, or appearing to do nothing, in the face of Russia's apparent attacks against those (few) Syrians we find moderate enough to support, and who we hope may form part of a negotiated settlement in Syria (with Assad's departure), isn't good. It not only weakens the moderate Syrian forces we support, but suggests that the U.S. is a paper tiger. I'm not advocating for American boots on the ground. But some measured, forceful response by Obama to Putin is, in my view, called for. I defer to the President on the shape and form it takes, but as to timing, it shouldn't take forever.☐