Unless America is willing to go to war with a nuclear super-power with the ability to destroy all life on earth, its leaders must understand how they can influence Russia by other means. Pat Buchanan says that can’t happen unless American leaders recognize Russia’s core interests and use those interests to get what they want. Pat writes at The American Conservative:
If the United States’ intent is to influence Russia to support more Washington-friendly policies, our policymakers must recognize and understand Moscow’s core interests—as Russians see them. Lecturing Moscow as a parent scolds a disobedient child is not likely to succeed.
Russia is not supporting the Syrian regime with considerable military power because they like Assad or his despicable policies.
Their objective is to enhance their ability to exert influence in the region, stabilize areas near their own borders that contain large Muslim populations, and ensure continued access to their Mediterranean port at Tartus.
Many of the Russians’ interests intersect America’s. Both President Trump and the Russians want to destroy ISIS, and working together could achieve that goal much faster. And, Pat writes, America could even work with Russia to check Bashar Assad’s bad behavior.
This is not to say that Assad should not be held accountable, but if the U.S. wants to check Assad’s behavior and convince Moscow to help, the U.S. must stop misunderstanding or ignoring the motivations that drive Russian policy in Syria.
Russia has an interest in seeing the civil war come to an end as much as we do. The Kremlin would like nothing better than to see the conflict resolved so their costly military support can be substantially reduced or eliminated. Their own threat from Islamic terrorism would be reduced if the civil war ended. It can be assumed, however, that Putin will not support any outcome that results in a Syrian government that is not friendly with Moscow.
The bottom line is that the United States must genuinely get out of the regime-change business— which never ends well—and focus instead on policies that have a realistic chance of attaining U.S. strategic objectives.
Read more from Pat here.