By Rich Kozlovich
Russia and Putin are a distraction, not a real problem. The fact of the matter is Putin is in serious need of US support making him a potential ally - at least a temporary ally - to meet the Middle East issues on Iran, Syria, etc. The key for Putin is the competition on energy products. That's his only economic ace, and he's got to prevent Middle East countries from taking that market away from his as is being done in Belarus and their purchase of oil from Iran.
He's causing trouble in the Balkans - Serbia in particular due to ancient cultural connections. Russia recently sent tons of food, clothing and medical supplies and is supposedly going to give Serbia "six Mikoyan Mig-29 fighter jets and dozens of tanks and combat vehicles in the next few weeks as a gift from Moscow, which has also offered to sell it the Buk anti-aircraft missile systems."
The Serbs don't accept the idea Kosovo isn't part of Serbia and are acting on this issue, not in a large way right now, but Kosovo is wanting to create a bona fide army. NATO will end any support for Kosovo if that's done, and in point of fact - I don't think they much care what happens there. A nasty potential there.
But Russia is causing all sorts of problems with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Albania. What does he hope to gain? I think he's drumming up support for his direct takeover of Ukraine. Which brings me to Syria.
Trump's bombing of Syrian aircraft reminds me of Ronald Reagan's firing of all those PATCO air traffic controllers. After the Soviet Union collapsed a ton of information came out of Russia over what they did and why. One of the things that came to the fore was the fact Reagan fired all those people actually rattled the Soviet leadership. It was clear this was not a man to be bullied, who didn't care what the media or all the leftists and scare babies in Congress had to say. The Soviets knew from his rhetoric - they were next. That single act did more to reinforce Reagan's efforts to defeat the Soviet Union than anything else.
This Syrian bombing seems to me to be Trump's PATCO moment. Especially since this happened while N. Korea shot off a missile and claimed they were going to drop an atomic device on the U.S. and the Chinese president was meeting with Trump. The timing was amazing.
There are a whole lot of reasons why bombing Syria was a bad idea, that is of course if they actually think they're going to fix what's going on there. The fact Europe, along with Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham thought it was just a grand idea.....well.....that alone is enough reason to doubt the value of such an action. However, if bombing Syria as an object lesson to the world - then it makes sense. China will get the message more readily than others because that's been a practice of theirs in the past.
There's worry the U.S. and Russia are heading into another Cold War over Syria and Putin is sending ships to confront the U.S. Navy. Wrong!
Putin's in trouble at home with protests, he's having to make concessions to political adversaries, his economy was based on energy and that's collapsing, his military is weak. Russia, like Europe, is breeding itself out of existence. Putin's demographic pyramid is a mess with the 15 to 55 age group being too small to support the system economically or militarily. Furthermore that age group is rife with drug resistant tuberculosis, AIDS and alcoholism.
His economy is spiraling downward and as for being able to defend his borders - that's sketchy since his military, with the exception of his special forces, are a mess and inadequately armed - and with a few exceptions - their technology is 25 years behind. With the exception of it's nuclear arsenal, Russia is no longer a superpower. In fact - If Russia didn't have nuclear weapons it would be just another third rate power. Russia is not in any position to engage in a cold war as we know it, and the Russians should be glad.
So what do we focus on regarding Russia? Russian demographics and economics. Both are a mess and Putin isn't in a position to do much of anything beyond very near borders. He has seven defensive gaps he must defend and he only has manpower for three, and two of them are around the Ukraine.
As for me, we have to define all of this properly. The rest of the world is going to hell in a handbasket. The EU will be done in five years, Russia will be reaching a point of no return demographically, the Muslim world is a total mess economically and philosophically, but they're breeding like flies as if they can feed themselves, which they can't. That's why they're so hot to go somewhere else so they can go on the public dole.
If the rest of the world wants to go to hell in a handbasket - I'm all for letting them do that - and minding our own business. I'm also for making sure they can only do it over there. We don't need the rest of the world. We can feed ourselves, we can arm ourselves, we can defend ourselves and we can fuel ourselves. The rest of the world has "needs" - big time - but we don't need them.
The Bretton Woods era is moribund, and will soon be dead.