Russia

Russia Launches Airstrikes in Syria, Earns Criticism From U.S.

U.S. says it makes the conflict riskier

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UN

Russia launched airstrikes in Syria today, a first in its intervention in the long-time client state. U.S. officials criticized the strikes, saying they added risks to the conflict of Syria, even as Russia insists it is targeting positions held by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a terrorist group that calls itself a caliphate against which the U.S. is also trying to lead a coalition.

Where Russia and the U.S. differ is that Russia would like to keep Bashar al-Assad in power in Syria as president. The Russians argue Assad is the best option for returning stability to Syria. It's an open question. The U.S. assertion that stability can only be achieved by Assad's ouster is a trickier one. In recent history—Saddam Hussein in 2003 and Moammar Qaddafi in 2011—the ouster of a regional strongman contributed to more instability, not less.

Russia says the Syrian civil war is a national security concern for them because many Russian Muslims are going to Syria to fight with ISIS. Russia also has a naval facility it leases from Syria in Tartus, which gives the Russian military access to the Mediterranean. The base doesn't come up as often as the loftier national security concern of fighting terrorism.

The U.S. stake in removing the Syrian president is less clear. A brutal dictator, Assad's not the only one in the world or even in the region. Yet, despite a clear stake, the U.S. insists a political solution in Syria must include Assad's removal.

That intransigence might be part of the reason why Russia was able to secure an anti-ISIS intelligence cooperation agreement between Syria, Iraq, and Iran while keeping the U.S. out of the loop. Despite being a serial human rights violator, Assad is the only actor in Syria who can credibly muster an opposition to ISIS, and even he's failed there.

Similarly, while both the U.S. and Iran are interested in driving ISIS out of Iraq, longstanding political conflict between the U.S. and Iran has prevented the two countries from coordinating their efforts. The U.S. has accused Iran of meddling in Iraq during the 2003-2011 Iraq war—from Iran's perspective between 2001 and 2003 the U.S. launched military operations against both of Iran's neighbors while spurning efforts by Iran (whether or not they were made in good-faith) to engage the U.S. about terrorism after 9/11. Both of Iran's neighbors are less stable now than they were fourteen years ago.

Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, drew some of the connections between U.S. intervention in the Middle East and North Africa and a rise in Islamist terrorism in an address to the United Nations this week. It's not a new analysis. The appearance was his first at the international body in more than 10 years. His goal was largely understood to be building support for Russian intervention in Syria. He also asked to meet President Obama on the sidelines, which Obama agreed to. The two countries reportedly agreed to keep lines of communication open while operating in Syria.

Amid all this the Pentagon's top official on Russia resigned last week. That followed the resignation of Obama's ISIS czar. At the UN, President Obama alluded to domestic critics who warn that a resurgent Russia is a sign that a new cold war is starting. He should probably concern himself more with the way foreign powers are interpreting his foreign policy doctrine, or lack thereof, moreso than the way his domestic political opponents interpret it. In 2012 when Mitt Romney said Russia was America's greatest geopolitical foe he was half right. Conflict, cold or hot, with Russia isn't inevitable just because Russia is trying to play a larger role in foreign affairs. But that doesn't mean it's not a geopolitical force that will have interests that don't always align with America's. Denying the possibility of a cold war as a fantasy of mean-spirited domestic opponents denies that basic geopolitical truth.

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  1. Three cheers for proxy war!

  2. The enemy of my enemy is my frenemy?

  3. U.S. officials criticized the strikes, saying they added risks to the conflict of Syria

    Lulz. They might accidentally hit an aspirin factory or something.

  4. It’s a sticky trap. This should suck lots of their resources for a decade or so.

  5. Can’t keep that knee from jerking, State Dept.? If the Russians were bombing Assad, would you take his side?

    ISIS is pretty clearly anti-USA. Is Assad?

    1. Something about red lines and using neuro-toxins on children. I forget. It was the world’s red line, anyway. Barry told me.

    2. This is kind of my thinking. We really shouldn’t be involved in this shitfight. But, if we really were to “root” for anyone, it should probably be Assad. Of the lousy options on the table, he was the least lousy. At least Assad has shown a willingness to accommodate Western interests.

      Of course the hyper-interventionists of both parties want to live in the fantasyland that, if we bomb enough of Assad’s people and ISIS people, why Syria will be indistinguishable from Iowa in a matter of months.

      1. We kicked out Hussein and see what we got, we want to kick out Assad, one can imagine what will replace him. I say leave the area, let the russians get their people killed and maimed over there, let the primary focus of isis turn to them. It’s not like they do a good job anyway, just look at their fiasco in afganistan. After all, we are essentially arming isis. But, the pro war we have to get involved in everything hawks can’t stand the idea of someone other than us meddling in the affairs of other nations.

      2. One actual result is that Germany will become indistinguishable from Syria….

        1. You mean that VW will open a plant and hire mostly Turkish guest workers?

    3. Russia did not bomb ISIS.

      They bombed CIA backed “moderate” rebels.

      1. Of course, being honest, they really are the same thing.

  6. We’ve been in the middle east since WWII because we didn’t want the Russians to get their oil but since we now know how to get the same resources here in America we don’t need them. let Russia take over and spend their money and see how they like living under their rules.

    1. But fracking and oil sands and shale are bad, m’kay

      1. They’re not profitable at current oil prices, that’s for sure.

  7. Don’t worry, guys, this is all part of Obama’s 5-D chess plan! He’s got Putin and Assad right where he wants them.

    1. The combination of the world loving us because Obama replaced Bush and that Russian reset button has really been terrific, hasn’t it?

      1. This is the inevitable result of the power vacuum left by the US in this region. And I for one couldn’t be happier that some other country is willing to step in and embroil themselves in the ME.

        Neo-Cons and Lib-Interventionalists will shit their pants about “our losing face” or “our responsibility to help”, but their track records have simply left us with a huge deficit, out of control MIC, and dead sons and daughters.

        Obama has my support in this issue.

        1. Funny thing is, it was in better shape before Obama took over….

  8. “In recent history?Saddam Hussein in 2003 and Moammar Qaddafi in 2011?the ouster of a regional strongman contributed to more instability, not less.”

    The suggestion that an authoritarian dictatorship led to long term stability in Libya is absurd. It was the authoritarian dictatorship(s) in Libya, (and Egypt and Tunisia) that led directly to the instability. And it was Assad’s authoritarian “strongman” dictatorship that led to the instability in Syria, too.

    Authoritarian dictatorships almost always lead to instability. There may be an outlier or two somewhere (like North Korea), but then if and when North Korean regime falls, I wouldn’t necessarily expect stability in the aftermath.

    Also, we should be careful not to project our own qualitative preferences on other people.

    If we were fighting an authoritarian dictatorship here in the U.S., I wouldn’t think much of a Russian pundit telling everyone that my freedom isn’t worth fighting for if it causes instability. That’s your opinion. The people who are willing putting their lives in harm’s way to fight Assad obviously feel differently.

    1. I have to disagree with you here. Balance of power matters. Particularly in authoritarian dictatorships. Taking out governments that provide counterbalance against other regional powers and counterbalance against domestic political movements can certainly create a disequilibrium that manifests as instability.

      1. Counterbalance matters. If you look through the archives, you’ll see that’s one of the biggest reasons why I opposed the Iraq War.

        But that counterbalance problem would have been the same regardless of whether Iraq were a dictatorship.

        1. But that counterbalance problem would have been the same regardless of whether Iraq were a dictatorship.

          Of course the region would be far more stable if Syria, Libya, Iraq, et al. were limited government constitutional republics. But, that’s not really the question, though, is it?

          The options on the table were the existing governments or their removal. And removing them contributed to instability in the region by removing the existing counterbalance.

      2. The point is that an authoritarian regime is always going to cause- or at the least, resist healing- those regional conflicts.

        The article above completely ignores that Syria regularly fucked with Iraq- before and after the invasion- as well as regularly destabilizing neighbors like Lebanon and Israel through funding, training and arming of proxy fighters.

        Authoritarian regimes create pressure in their borders and outside. And while they may be a cap on the bottle- metering out conflict over decades, no Liberty loving person should ever mistake the contents of that bottle for “Stability”. When dissidents are disappeared at will or murdered wantonly in plain site and the ruling class can live above the law, nothing is stable despite outward appearances.

        And by the way, here’s a fuck you to Ed K for trying to defend Russia’s acts. No one should be intervening there- especially Russia. I don’t want the US anywhere near that hornet’s nest, but any fan of liberty should be happy for anyone to protest Russia’s intervention. If it is so bad for the US to prefer Assad out of power, anyone with half an interest in liberty should recognize that Russia’s is worse.

        1. To be more clear, I agree that the United States ought not be involved in military intervention in these states. However, as with Ukraine, Georgia, Libya and now Syria, it has become tiresome to see these arguments floated by Libertarians; that the region shouldn’t be destabilized; that the US will always make things worse; that countries like Russia- with their disgusting, deplorable wartime tactics- are going to somehow create a more stable region.

          Fuck that. Just make the argument that the US’s responsibility is to defend itself, not other countries. Make the argument that our billions would be better spent in real defense rather than some meddling bullshit disguised as “active defense” or “defensive intervention” or what ever. Don’t give up the ideological ground of the NAP by offering any sort of justification for what Russia is doing.

          1. And the option on the table beside Assad and ISIS is?

            1. And the option on the table beside Assad and ISIS is?

              Staying the fuck out and letting the chips fall where they may, defending our country if it is attacked by either of the winners.

              ISIS today is a very big non-state actor. Were it to consolidate power in Syria, it would have all the trappings of theocratic states such as Taliban Afghanistan or Iran. This is fundamentally no different than Assad’s Syria in the long run. While those states can, and have, bloodied our nose here at home and abroad, there are no realistic options other than committing large amounts of troops to an Iraqi Freedom^2 style occupation. Influencing that region with anything less is pissing in the wind.

              So your false choice- Assad or ISIS- is unrealistic. We aren’t going to materially impact that conflict, and choosing Assad means either being condemned for propping up a tyrant if he wins, or further enraging ISIS for our opposition if they are ascendant.

              As libertarians never avoid pointing out, one of the biggest criticisms of US ME policy over the past 40 years has been our support of oppressive regimes that snuff out any reforming entities in and outside their borders. They say this about Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Why have it be said about the US in Syria as well?

              1. Then your bottom line is the same as the rest of ours – stay the fuck out of others’ shitstorms. Really, if the Russians decide not to, I don’t see where that’s any of our problem.

        2. Defending authoritarianism as a means to stability doesn’t seem like a very libertarian position, but I’m not sure Krayewski was doing that.

          If he’s going anywhere near that argument as a libertarian, however, he should probably make a special effort to say that’s not what he’s doing.

          If there’s some greater long term purpose in what he’s saying, that might be different. But it does seem like he’s suggesting the greater long term purpose is stability.

          But long term stability isn’t achieved through authoritarian dictators. And stability isn’t always more desirable than freedom to everyone. All my fellow libertarians should be really clear on those two points.

          They’re the same reasons why the Drug War doesn’t work. Authoritarian tactics don’t achieve fewer gangs and less violence (quite the opposite actually), and even if they did, safety over freedom isn’t necessarily everyone’s preference–especially if you’re a libertarian.

          1. I’ll keep that in mind. The point I was trying to make, which I guess I should’ve made more explicit, is that the stated U.S. goal of regional stability doesn’t mesh with the stated U.S. goal of getting rid of Assad. As a libertarian, I understand stability is overrated 😉

            1. the stated U.S. goal of regional stability doesn’t mesh with the stated U.S. goal of getting rid of Assad

              And given that Assad has been a driving force for instability in the region, I don’t see how we win either way. The region is unstable either way. Funding Hezbollah; car-bombing political leaders in Lebanon; Working on Chemical weapons, and likely even nukes until Israel bombed their plants.

              No one should let some Eden complex cloud their historical view of that region. It was unstable. That Assad was able to keep that instability at a simmer rather than a boil means nothing, because every year that Assad- or any totalitarian regime- is in power means a year that any liberal reformation is brutally snuffed out. The proper position is that neither ISIS nor Assad are acceptable regimes in the region. Don’t play the game of false choice. It isn’t our responsibility to install any government in the area. It is our responsibility to call for more liberty, and Assad will not create any more or less than ISIS will.

          2. To be sure, Krayewski isn’t really clear on what his point is, but let’s just take a look at his argument for a second.

            Russia is performing military strikes in a region that is not its own- mainly under the guise of stopping the free movement of its citizens and secondarily as an attempt to protect a military base that has no use other than expansionist meddling beyond its borders.

            Ignore the American response for a second. What libertarian is comfortable with that justification for intervention? And what libertarian would endorse the idea that propping up a brutal dictator- who regularly fucks with his neighbors while stomping the necks of his own citizens- will somehow improve regional stability? Isn’t that exactly the justification the US uses (and libertarians reject) for supporting regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan?

            I think any libertarian would be comfortable saying that Russia’s justifications are a crock of shit- even more so than the US given that Russia has 20x worse wartime tactics. And shouldn’t any libertarian be happy that a government- even the US- is telling Russia this is a bad idea?

            Yes, it is a crying shame that the American alternative is just a different intervention. Certainly that should be criticized, but don’t use the Russian intervention as some sort of counter argument because it makes the Russian alternative seem better- which it is not. For once, I am happy to wish a Pox on Both Their Houses (TM).

    2. If the dictatorship leads to instability, it’s not being authoritarian enough.

      1. That’s sarcasm, right?

        1. The problem is that the more liberal elements are fairly non existant. Your choices at this point are Assad or ISIS. At most maybe we have the Kurds but if we support their independence it would piss the Turks off to no end. At this the correct but hard decision is to see how much autonomy we can get for the Kurds and peace for Israel while letting Putin support Assad and stay out of the fight.

        2. A “well-run” authoritarian regime is what I remember being called a “metastable” state (was that physics, or a related class like mechanics, that I heard it from?) Without any outside inputs, it will stay in place, but the *amount* of input/force needed to knock it into an unstable state is minimal.

          1. Let us also not forget that, other than Libya and Iraq, these “Stable states” all fell without any US military intervention. Yeah, the US gave a lot of lip service to Assad’s illegitimacy, but his regime’s problems have one proximate cause: years of terrible, brutal rule.

            Yeah a strongman dictator can keep a cap on a region for decades. And then the second he stumbles, we see that he hasn’t been stabilizing anything. Authoritarian regimes are like termites in their own house. They eat away at liberal institutions and destroy those movements that could have a moderating effect on their nation. The only survivors of such regimes are the ruthless thugs in power and those ruthless enough to evade and survive in such a bitter environment.

            The US didn’t create ISIS. Decades of purging by authoritarian rulers in the regime created it. To the extent that the US or other western powers meddled and even empowered these fuckers, shame on us. That doesn’t make us or anyone- even Russia- the most culpable.

            1. Let us also not forget that, other than Libya and Iraq, these “Stable states” all fell without any US military intervention.

              Yeah, it’s not like we were supplying ISIS with arms or anything….

              1. Yeah, it’s not like we were supplying ISIS with arms or anything….

                ISIS was armed by the Syrian government. Defectors and captured weapons caches form the vast bulk of ISIS military hardware. Heavy weaponry, armored vehicles and artillery in use by ISIS are almost completely weapons captured by their conquests of the region- almost all russian made or purchased on the open market with funding from neighboring countries.

                To the extent that ISIS is fighting with US hardware, it is largely with hardware captured- not given- in Iraq and a small amount of light arms provided to rebel fighters who later joined ISIS.

                I absolutely agree that the US shouldn’t be providing any war material to anyone in the region. But this wouldn’t change the dynamic there one bit, as much as Western arrogance wants to pretend otherwise. Assad created that conflict. He created a region where his only enemies were extremists, and now those same extremists are using against him those same tools of oppression he relied upon for decades.

                1. I guess technically the US giving stuff and training to rebels and Iraqi military and the rebels and Iraqi military taking that stuff and training and either giving it to ISIS or joined ISIS is “capturing”.

                  The nit you are picking is whether the US are malicious idiots who supplied and trained ISIS or just idiots who supplied and trained ISIS.

                  1. Again, the vast majority of ISIS weapons are russian and open market arms captured in Syria before the US was even involved. They were not provided by the US.

                    Those heavy weapons manufactured by the US now in the ISIS arsenal were provided to the Iraqi military before ISIS even existed- 5 years ago or more. It takes stretching definitions to a whole new level to suggest that this is the same as arming ISIS directly.

                    Yes, some small amount of weaponry was provided to rebels in Syria who then turned it over to ISIS. This should be condemned. But it lends no merit to the argument that the US somehow made ISIS ascendant, or that Assad isn’t directly responsible for the backlash threatening to dethrone him.

                    Should the US have provided Iraq with weapons? I can go either way on that. This was at a time of relative peace in the region, and Iraq needed some way to defend itself from foreign invaders. I see no problem arming nations for the purpose of self defense. Especially given that we were the ones who wrecked their defenses in the first place. Shrug.

                    1. “Again”

                      No again you are picking nits.

                    2. “The vast majority of ISIS weapons are russian and open market arms captured in Syria before the US was even involved. They were not provided by the US.”

                      Almost he entire heavy weapons arsenal that ISIS has they got from the Iraqis…

                      …and in many cases they got them willingly. as in, handed to ISIS by Iraqi army unwilling to do the bidding of the shiite govt in baghdad.

                      In other cases they’ve actually captured US heavy arms in large quantities.

                      In other cases, we’ve either given them MANPADs, or TOW missiles… either in our early- days when we were indiscriminate about who got what… or merely in exchange from our having gifted them to ‘unallied’ persons who subsequently joined ISIS.

                      Overt = you are simply wrong. We poured weapons and materiel into Syria in 2012-2013, knowing that many of the people getting their hands on it were “iffy”. We only came up with the name ISIS for the baddies after they started asserting themselves independently in Iraq, rather than directing attacks solely against Assad forces.

  9. I thought Obama and Putin met so they could create a shared strategy. Or, is this the shared strategy?

    1. The strategy is that Putin tells Obama what he plans to do, then proceeds to do it, while Obama goes back to the US and lectures him in a speech about being on the wrong side of history.

      1. Pretty much.

        Obama’s entire approach to the Iraq/Syrian civil war (which is what this is) was to pretend we had some native group of people we were “helping”…. that was ASKING for US Aid

        but in reality, we were trying to create client-dependents out of unwilling parties with a combination of threats and addition/removal of incentives / disincentives.

        e.g. we forced Maliki out of Baghdad by saying we wouldn’t help ‘rescue’ Iraq from the ISIS (which we’d inadvertently armed) unless Iraq had a more-representative government.

        We also refused to help provide air support unless the Shiite Militias were kept out of certain fights.

        We only attacked ISIS under conditions we unilaterally imposed – we used ISIS as a tool to extract concessions from Iraq. Most of which had to do with trying to loosen Iran’s grip on Iraqi politics.

        in Syria, similar gamesmanship resulted in most of the FSA simply abandoning the field and retreating to places they could protect, knowing we were an unreliable source of support.

        Even kurds, the only reliable anti ISIS fighters in the region… we sold them out to Turkey so we could get access to Turkish airbases, and a pretend-partner.

        The Russians, by contrast, don’t care about any of this light-touch manipulation. They will simply act unilaterally and kill any groups that refuse to play ball.

    2. “is this the shared strategy?”

      Yes.

      Before, when the US was moving toward ousting Assad, Russia’s role was to keep its distance and complain. Now that ISIS has become the most prominent rebel movement, the US no longer has a role to play, so the scenario is now reversed – Russia will militarily bolster Assad while the US keeps its distance and complains.

      It’s just exactly the same as how the Democrat-Republican coalition works – a stabile antagonism that serves the interests of both parties.

  10. Despite what we read in comments all over the internet, the common thread in terrorism from North Africa and the Middle East isn’t Islam. From the Muslim Brotherhood radicalizing in the 1940s and 1950s all the way down to Al Qaeda, the common strand in the formation of terrorist organizations from that region has been oppression.

    Muslims in North Africa and the Middle East have lived under some of the most oppressive dictatorships in the world, and oppression breeds revolt. Put Christians or any other group under similar oppressive governments, and I suspect you would get similar terrorist organizations.

    Bush era “neocons” were wrong about how to deal with that oppression. No way the United States should take it upon itself to liberate North Africa and the Middle East militarily.

    But Bush era necons weren’t wrong about everything–especially the ultimate causes of terrorism. Dictatorships and oppression ultimately breed instability and revolt.

    Somebody ask Putin when they’ll finally have stability in Chechnya. They’ve been fighting for stability for 25 years there, and they still don’t have it. After Putin achieves stability in Chechnya with authoritarianism, then maybe he should try the same thing in Syria.

    1. The common perception in Russia is that Chechnya stabilized when a local strongman, Ramzan Kadyrov, became the Chechen ruler. As an aside, Kadyrov, while personally loyal to Putin, enjoys an unprecedented degree of autonomy in his region and is often considered the strongest independent player in Russia. Putin does Kadyrov’s bidding, not the other way around. In other words, if anything Chechnya is viewed as a success of regional authoritarianism.

      1. And yet the Caucus Emirate is still going strong, and they’ve had suicide bombings in Grozny as recently as last year.

    2. Despite what we read in comments all over the internet, the common thread in terrorism from North Africa and the Middle East isn’t Islam. […] Put Christians or any other group under similar oppressive governments, and I suspect you would get similar terrorist organizations.

      I disagree. Were Egyptians and Iranians of the ’50s and ’60s more oppressed than Poles and Romanians and Czechs? Sorry, but the connections between Islam and terror are long and deep.

      1. Why not talk about the Irish, the Croats, or the Serbs?

        We can go through every conflict in history, and the common thread you’re going to find isn’t the religion of the oppressed.

        The common thread is oppression.

        1. But none of those involved a worldwide conflict, supported by vast numbers of their fellow co-religionists. Islam is different.

          1. Not really.

            Wahabism is different from the others, but they’re even a minority in Saudi Arabia. Last I saw, they make up about 20% of the people in Saudi Arabia.

            1. Yes, really.

              ICM Poll: 20% of British Muslims sympathize with 7/7 bombers
              NOP Research: 1 in 4 British Muslims say 7/7 bombings were justified
              People-Press: 31% of Turks support suicide attacks against Westerners in Iraq.
              YNet: One third of Palestinians (32%) supported the slaughter of a Jewish family, including the children
              World Public Opinion: 61% of Egyptians approve of attacks on Americans
              32% of Indonesians approve of attacks on Americans
              41% of Pakistanis approve of attacks on Americans
              38% of Moroccans approve of attacks on Americans
              83% of Palestinians approve of some or most groups that attack Americans (only 14% oppose)
              62% of Jordanians approve of some or most groups that attack Americans (21% oppose)
              42% of Turks approve of some or most groups that attack Americans (45% oppose)
              A minority of Muslims disagreed entirely with terror attacks on Americans:
              (Egypt 34%; Indonesia 45%; Pakistan 33%)
              About half of those opposed to attacking Americans were sympathetic with al-Qaeda’s attitude toward the U.S.

              Many more, with links at the link. All those people aren’t Wahhabis.

      2. Heheh….you said “long and deep”

    3. Put Christians or any other group under similar oppressive governments, and I suspect you would get similar terrorist organizations.

      Are you from some parallel universe where Christians haven’t been under oppressive governments? China is the world’s most Christian nation.

      1. or one of them

      2. Are you in a parallel universe where terrorism is never Christian?

        Croatians, Serbians, the Catholics in Ireland, hell, Rwanda is 98% Christian and the Hutus made up more than 2% of that population…

        And they were all oppressed, and they all used terrorism to target civilians.

        Why not look at it from the other direction? Maybe that’ll help clear things up…

        Would you argue that living under some of the most oppressive governments in the world (from North Africa to Afghanistan and Pakistan) has absolutely nothing to do with radicalizing people and driving them to terrorism?

        That would be a ridiculous position to take, wouldn’t it? …from a libertarian perspective or any other perspective.

        Did you know that Libyan nationals made up a huge chunk of the foreign jihadis fighting for Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan? If oppression radicalizes people, then that’s to be expected, isn’t it?

        1. I am not arguing that terrorism is “never” Christian. I’m sure there have been Christian honor killings and Christian female genital mutilation, too, but you’re ignoring the percentages, and reaching back into history as a way of ignoring the facts of the present day.

          How much oppression is there in Minnesota?

          1. I was responding to lap83.

            However, from your link:

            “This report is alarming and it’s really very worrisome,” said Sadik Warfa, deputy director of the Global Somali Diaspora based in Minneapolis. “I worry about the stigma and the prospect of our community being marginalized. But in the end, it’s up to us as Somali-Americans to really change our image. And as Minnesotans, we need to be asking what can we do to put these kinds of people into our mainstream here instead of over there.”

            Yeah, Somalis have suffered some pretty terrible oppression, and that kind of thing trickles down to the children of immigrants. Just like it did with the kids of Cambodian refugees to Long Beach, CA, where they formed some of the most dangerous street gangs in greater Los Angeles.

            Meanwhile, you’re going to find all sorts of anomalies. Muslim groups that were peaceful despite oppression. Christians who were violent without oppression. I’m talking about general rules. And the general rule that Islam breeds terrorism is nowhere near as easy to support as the suggestion that oppression breeds revolt–regardless of religion. Hell, even the Tibetan Buddhists got fed up a few years ago and rioted against the ethnic Chinese.

            Oppression breeds revolt, and that does a lot more to explain terrorism in North Africa and the Middle East than blaming it on Islam.

            1. Part of what you are missing is that Islam breeds oppression. It’s not just a religion, but an oppressive political system.

              Another part you are missing is that Christians have to jump through a series of theological hoops, and basically ignore most of the Bible, in order to justify terrorism. Muslims can just read the Koran straight, and there it is, in many places: the direct word of Allah, ordering Muslims to kill Jews, kill apostates, etc.

              The fact that substantial proportions, even majorities, of Muslims around the world tell pollsters they are fine with religious violence should tell you something. The equivalent numbers for Christians are tiny.

              1. The part you’re missing is that oppression breeds revolt, regardless of religion, and the Muslim world–from Tunisia to Pakistan–has been subjected to a remarkable amount of oppression going back decades.

                Certainly, it’s important to at least acknowledge that vicious dictatorships and constant oppression for 40+ years is likely to radicalize people. The way the terrorists scored what points they did with the ummah had a lot to do with presenting themselves as the only viable opposition to the vicious dictators.

                I’m not making this up.

                They really hated being oppressed by their own governments. And their own governments put down internal dissent with extreme brutality. Imagine what it would be like to be bull whipped for opposing the government–and then to have people tell you the reason you’re angry is because of your religion…

                Why isn’t being bull whipped for criticizing the government enough to turn peaceful opposition violent? Why would we look past that as the ultimate cause–and point to their religion? Especially when 99% of the people in that religion have never participated in any kind of terrorist activity.

                1. That totally explains why they treat women and gays like shit, set up rape camps, recruit suburban Western-born kids, and murder foreign cartoonists. Because of the oppression.

                  1. When you say “they” are you talking about Muslims generally, or are you talking about ISIS?

                    It seems like you’re conflating the two.

                    1. The study, based on four recent polls, reveals the shocking level of support for the caliphate around the world.

                      Ryan Mauro of the Clarion Project, which carried out the research, warned that “ISIS is only a fraction of what it could potentially become”.

                      He said: “If we don’t act quickly, this is still going to grow ? and what we’re looking at today is going to look like the good old days compared to the future.”

                      More than 8.5million people view ISIS positively, and around 42million view them somewhat positively, according to the data.

                    2. “More than 8.5million people view ISIS positively, and around 42million view them somewhat positively, according to the data.”

                      Is this supposed to somehow counter what I’ve been saying about how oppression breeds revolt?

                      Or are you saying that average Muslims, “set up rape camps, recruit suburban Western-born kids, and murder foreign cartoonists”?

                      P.S.

                      8.5 million divided by 1.2 billion equals 7/10 of 1 percent (.007). 42 million divided by 1.2 billion equals 3.5% (.035).

                      So, when you tell me that 0.7% of Muslims view ISIS positively, you’re also telling me that 99.3% of them don’t view ISIS positively. And when you tell me that 3.5% of Muslims view ISIS somewhat positively, you’re also telling me that 96.5% of them don’t view ISIS even somewhat positively…

                      Incidentally, what was the margin of error?

                      +/- 2%?

                      You’re not scaring me.

  11. See, the problem with the Russian airstrikes in Syria is that, obviously, the Russians aren’t Americans and so can’t be trusted to ‘do the right thing’.

    1. If we bomb them, the bombs will be just chock full of rich delicious freedom.

    2. If we bomb them, the bombs will be just chock full of rich delicious freedom.

  12. One day the Federation will make peace with the Klingons and welcome them into the fold. But today is not that day.

  13. The US has left a quagmire vacuum. Russia can have a lot of fun with that. A nice long pointless conflict in the Middle East can really boost their defense industry.

  14. Wait…who did Russia bomb?

    Syria? Who in Syria?

    Why isn’t this in the article?

    Did Russia bomb ISIS? Moderate CIA backed rebel “moderates”? Someone else?

    Hint: It was not ISIS

    1. They attacked Homs, which if you look to the west-central region in “Govenrment Controlled” red on the map, has a splotch of “Syrian Rebels” green in it.

      That green is claimed to be “everything but”-ISIS; and some claim there are ISIS elements in these non-Syrian-Army controlled areas.

      “Homs is a former hotbed of the popular revolt that began against Assad in 2011, and the city is still not fully in government hands. Some areas outside Homs have now become footholds for the Islamic State.

      Assad’s forces have made holding onto parts of Homs province a strategic priority to link the capital, Damascus, with government strongholds on the Mediterranean coast, including the key port city of Latakia. Russia has a naval facility at Tartus, about 50 miles south of Latakia.”,

      The liklihood is that there were some leadership elements of the remaining FSA there that Assad has first on his list to eliminate.

      The important thing is not to “Defeat” the rebel groups in whole, so much as destroy the ones that present any viable alternative leadership in the event Assad fell (or was removed)

      1. it has now gotten to the point where Western media outlets are describing al-Qaeda as “moderate” in a last ditch effort to explain away Washington’s unwillingness to join Russia in stabilizing Syria.

        Pure comedy

        http://www.zerohedge.com/news/…..bels-west-

        Hey do you think Reason will ever report that Russia is bombing US backed rebels? I am thinking there is a good chance they will follow the rest of MSM and keep it under covers.

        1. Note: I in no way support “Washington joining Russia” I do support getting the fuck out forever.

        2. “Washington’s unwillingness to join Russia in stabilizing Syria.”

          Is that what you think is happening?

          1. “Washington’s unwillingness to join Russia in stabilizing Syria.”

            is a quote from the article the link. Sorry for lack of quotes.

  15. So, it turns out that Russia bombed U.S.-backed rebels?? Oh, boy….

    1. Technically, we’ve “Backed” them all at one point or another.

    2. So the found the four US backed rebels and bombed them?
      Total dick move.
      A half million combatants and 20 million civilians and they find the four sad sack Ameri-muhhadeen to bomb?

  16. “Gentlemen! You can’t fight here. This is the Syrian Civil War!”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAeqVGP-GPM

    This is going the way of my worst case scenario – think the 30 Year War. Not lasting 30 years but a total regional bloodletting with everyone and the French hopping in to the slaughter.

    1. think the 30 Year War. Not lasting 30 years but a total regional bloodletting with everyone and the French hopping in to the slaughter.

      I see what you mean, but my fear is that it’s a reprise of the Spanish Civil War: lots of Great Powers giving their combat arms’ some practice against the out of town patsies before the big game a few years later. Aren’t the PLA/PLAAF also supposed to show up with some troops or planes soon too?

      Anyway, the Russians today asking the U.S. to butt out, and Kerry/Ash Carter then politely telling the Russians to fuck off, doesn’t bode well. Nothing like nuclear peer powers with forces in conflict and potentially accidentally shooting at each other. Question for the multitude: do you think it at all likely that if the U.S. decides to keep up with the eastern Syrian bombing campaign, the U.S. will start losing planes to Russian-supplied SAMs; and if so, what then? Ignore it like Iranian EFPs in Iraq?

      I see the Russians doing what they can to shore up their client state, keep their little Syrian naval base, do whatever favors the Turks will ask of them to ensure no gas pipeline goes through either Turkey and/or Syria (sorry Kurds: you’re getting bombed next), and hopefully distract domestic Russian audiences from the Ukraine quagmire.

      Still not the U.S.’s fight, IMHO, though I can see where it’ll soon be.

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