The truly sinister strategy of Putin

With all the debate about the direct interference of Russia in the American, French, German and other elections, including Brexit, what has eluded the Press and the commentariat is another sinister, subtle and long-term Russian attack on the West.

The civil war in Syria started in March 2011. Russia has had a particular interest in the continuation of the war, but now deems it time to pose as peacemaker. Why?

The brutality and destruction in Syria has driven 4.5 million Syrians out of their country. Most have found their way via Turkey or Greece to EU countries. The expulsion of these (mostly harmless) Syrian citizens has been deliberate Russian policy (Assad presumably wants some people left to rule over). The mass migration is doing precisely what the Kremlin wants and planned for: Western public dissatisfaction and political turmoil.

At first there was genuine support for the refugees in the West, but as time went on angry French, Dutch, East European and other voices started to be heard. So far the leaders of the EU have held their ground, but a nasty racism is threatening a serious divide that is driving nativism and racism and opening up sores that were previously buried. Hungary now has a semi-fascist government. Germany, so long regarded as the stable core of the EU, is suddenly weak and unable to form a government. Countries that have had modest immigration of moslems in the past suddenly have to accept immigrants who have no idea about life in the West and have to start from scratch. Growing resentment at not even being consulted about the numbers destabilises the EU. Which is precisely the Putin objective.

And among the tens of thousands of refugees there are a number of terrorists. Whether Assad and Russians eased their path to the West we can’t say, but we have to truly abandon the idea that you can treat Putin as a reasonable leader we can work with.

In the series called “Madam Secretary”, the US knocks out the Russian power grid as a lesson to Moscow. Think about it.


  1. With the demise of ISIS in Syria, it looks like we will have to put up with the Assad regime for the time being. Any attempt to assist the rebels now would prolong the civil war, leading to more refugees and civilian casualties. While Kremlin propaganda stated Russia’s commitment to defeating ISIS, the reality was that most of the Russian bombing was targeted at the rebels who posed the greatest threat to Assad. The fact is that not all opposition to Assad was Islamist. There were many Syrians who wanted democracy. But they are on the verge of defeat, largely thanks to Russian intervention.
    To make matters worse, we cannot rely on the US for leadership on this issue. While Congress and the American foreign policy establishment are concerned about Russia, the President- who holds the bulk of the power in foreign affairs- is not. Having Trump in the White House helps Russia enormously, which is why the Trump administration has so many ties with the country, and it is why some Russian hackers helped Trump win the election.

    The West needs to have a serious think about the lengths it is willing to go to reduce Russian influence in the Middle East. Its last attempt at regime change, the Iraq War 2003, is deeply regretted by the vast majority of the Western population, despite today’s Iraqi government being a more reliably pro-Western ally and certainly more respectful of human rights than Hussein. The problem with our Middle Eastern policy is its lack of coherence and overall vision. Russia has the benefit of having a leadership unthreatened by domestic political opposition, so it can carrying out a long term strategy for the Middle East unencumbered by the constraint of public opinion. The EU and the US must work together to respond to Russian ambition, and fast.

  2. This is very interesting. I haven’t seen any stats on assaults on women in the military. It doesn’t in the least surprise me. When President Obama started insisting on the military taking on women, especially in frontline jobs, I thought it was a really stupid decision, a decision that supports equality of opportunity, yes, but one that would be regretted, not because women could not do the job or are not as strong, but because of the male military culture, which would be hugely difficult to change, and , if you did succeed in changing it it could alter the whole point of having trained killers in uniform.

    When I was in the army I was stationed in a locality where most people were old, the young having moved or emigrated. There was one single, very beautiful young Greek Cypriot woman who lived fairly near the camp. She was the subject of almost incessant discussion among the men. The Commanding Officer had to announce that if anyone was seen even talking to her, they would be shipped back to England pronto – strong words, but he was right. For all I know she could have run the whole British Army with no problem (we needed someone who could do that!) , but my job was to keep the attention of my men on the dangerous job in hand, not have them chasing young women, minds off the job in hand, and probably inflaming local tensions.

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