Hillary Clinton's Dangerous Game of Chicken With Russia Will Backfire
Hillary Clinton, in a trademark act of cynicism, has decided to cast Russia, it’s leader and by extension its people as an enemy of the United States. For Clinton, an immensely unpopular and polarizing figure in the U.S., the specter of a nefarious Russian Boogeyman serves as a useful distraction from the increasingly numerous scandals which surround her candidacy. An air freshener to mask the putrid scent of her own corruption.
Almost every problem that has dogged her campaign, from the Wikileaks revelations to the entire campaign of her adversary Donald Trump, we are told, can be attributed to a devious Russian plot to compromise American democracy. But not only are the Russians attacking American democracy, but they are also merciless butchers of women and children as well, as their assistance to the Assad government in Syria apparently documents.
Never mind that Aleppo, the city whose plight launched a thousand New York Times Op-Eds calling for attacks on the legitimate Syrian government of Bashar Al-Assad, is currently infested with Al-Qaeda linked Jihadis. Never mind that the U.S. is presently engaged in aiding and facilitating Saudi Arabia’s merciless war against the people of Yemen. A war in which it regularly targets civilians and is presently engaging in a deliberate policy of starvation of the Yemeni population.
The Obama Administration, a Clinton ally and surrogate, recently went so far as to suspend all diplomatic relations with Russia over the bombardment of Aleppo. As if this wasn’t enough, Secretary of State John Kerry openly accused Russia of “War Crimes” an extremely serious charge and a stark escalation of rhetoric. To make such a statement is equivalent to questioning the very legitimacy of the Russian Government, as well as a de facto call to topple it (after all, how else would one bring the supposed perpetrators to “justice”?)
Russia is not blind to the meaning of such rhetoric and has since concluded that the U.S. is now engaged in an undeclared war against it. This explains the recent actions of Vladimir Putin, who recently instructed all government officials to begin bringing any family they may have living abroad back to Russia in addition to holding unprecedented nuclear drills which involved 40 million Russian Citizens. These actions are serious preparations for War.
This is the heated situation Hillary Clinton will find herself in when she is, most likely, sworn in on January 20, 2017. This would be a challenging environment for any U.S. president, but especially so for one that has essentially openly declared that Russia is an existential threat to the United States.
Some pundits have put their hope in the idea that Clinton is merely lying about her intentions for Syria and Russia, and that in spite of her rhetoric that, once elected, she will wisely back down from a confrontation which is not in the interest of the United States. Such high hopes, however, will be unlikely to materialize.
Backing down from her promise to “confront” Russia and the Assad Government over Syria would make her look weak and discredit her in the eyes of the hawkish elites whose support she depends on. No, Clinton will attempt to intervene in Syria, with the intent of crushing and deposing the Assad Government through the imposition of a no-fly zone. An act which would not only reaffirm her own self-perception of “toughness” on Foreign Policy but also placate her Saudi clients, who have poured over 20 million dollars into the burgeoning coffers of the Clinton Foundation.
Russia, however, remains the 800-pound gorilla in the room for this scenario, especially in light of its pledge to defend the Syrian government from potential air and cruise missile attacks by the United States. Much to the chagrin of U.S. Neocons, this pledge appears to be much more than bluster, as its deployment of the S-300 and S-400 missile systems to Syria has illustrated. These Missile systems have the ability to shoot down any intruding U.S. aircraft attempting to enforce a “No-Fly Zone.” This is in additional to the other forces, such as Fighter aircraft and the Russian Naval task force currently deployed off the coast of Syria which would have to be confronted in any U.S. intervention.
Under normal circumstances and with a more cautious U.S. President at the helm, these developments would be more than enough to dissuade a U.S. attack on Syria. However, we are not living in normal circumstances, and a potential Clinton Administration will be anything but cautious.
Clinton, whose formative foreign policy experience was participation in her husband’s war of choice on an almost defenseless Serbia during the 1990’s, during which she played an important part in hectoring him into intervening on behalf of the Kosovar Islamists. Later on a trip to the mafia state after it had seceded from Serbia, she stated that “For me, my family and my fellow Americans this is more than a foreign policy issue, it is personal.”
This is the key to understanding much of Clinton’s decision making, at least in regards to foreign policy. Unlike many of her stances on domestic issues, which tend to change with the intellectual fashions of the day, her Hawkish foreign policy has remained a remarkably consistent feature of her political life.
It is evident that Clinton and her staff believe Barack Obama’s more pragmatic and limited approach to foreign interventions has reduced America’s standing in the world and emboldened the U.S.’s enemies. According to this line of thinking, after the U.S. failed to enforce Barack Obama’s famous red line speech on Syria the U.S. lost credibility on the international stage and must, therefore, get it back.
This is the expressed desire of many of Clinton’s sycophants such as Michele Flournoy, who is widely believed to be Clinton’s first choice for Secretary of Defense. A report authored by the think tank CNAS (a body co-founded by Flournoy) urged the establishment of a “No Bombing Zone”, and on the subject of a potential clash with Russia had this to say:
“Establishing a no-bombing zone would risk escalation with Russia, but this concern is manageable given that neither side wants to enter a direct conflict and the United States needs to exert some military pressure if it wishes to change Russian and regional calculus and empower more acceptable actors on the ground,”
This is the reasoning guiding Clinton’s espoused position on Syria, the assumption that the U.S. can stare down and intimidate Russia into accepting the establishment of a “No Bombing Zone” in Syria and force them to sit idly by while the U.S. destroys Syria’s air force thereby dooming its people to a potential genocide at the hands of ISIS and Al Qaeda.
The logic being, that in spite of Russian statements to the contrary, when push comes to shove Russia will have no choice but to bow to the supposedly superior might of the U.S. military and let Clinton have her way in Syria. Given recent improvements in Russian Military capabilities and Russia’s stated willingness to defend its interests regardless of the costs, this assertion is questionable to say the least.
Of course, only time will tell whether Clinton’s hubristic gambit pays off. But Russia is not Serbia, or any of the other small powers the U.S. has grown used to intimidating and the outcomes of those previous events should not be used as a guide for how the Syrian conflict will be resolved. If Clinton and her cabal of Foreign policy dilettantes are not careful, they may discover, only too late, that they have decided to play a game of chicken with a train.