- Sep 29, 2006
While I don't wish to be alarmist are we sleep walking in the direction of a potential global conflict in the next few days, weeks?
To recap we have, especially since the fall of East Aleppo a few months ago, a Syrian government which is well on its way to defeating its Islamist insurgency and asserting control over the whole country. Then the chemical weapon incident occurs, the US claims to be ever so outraged, bombs Syria and, incredibly, now, as I write this, Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, after consulting the G7, seems to be sending some sort of ultimatum to the Russian government which is a step that often precedes war.
Ok so there are two possible scenarios being played out here it seems to me:
a) What we are being told is that this is a sudden change of heart - actually an incredibly surprising 180 degree turn - by the US President shocked and saddened by the loss of life to chemical weapons. Hence presumably under this scenario the missile strike will just be a once off, maybe accompanied by some small slap on the wrist type new sanctions and the world will return to its usual mostly peaceful chaos and nothing much happens. But the hype around this G7 meeting seems to presage some more fundamental change in US policy.
b) The somewhat darker scenario then is that whoever set off said chemical attack (and for what its worth this observer agrees with Peter Ford, the former UK ambassador to Syria interviewed tonight on Newsnight, who doesn't believe for a minute that the Syrian government had anything to do with it) intended it as a prelude to a wider war i.e. presumably an excuse for the US to send boots onto the ground in Syria.
Is this then the much hyped Trump plan to take out Isis etc, is he in fact looking for an excuse to send in his troops into Syria?
Again this is just speculation, but if this is what lies behind events then presumably a big consideration the Americans would have is to get some guarantee from Moscow that they will not attack any US troops entering Syria. Hence is that what this much hyped dramatic trip to Moscow is all about?
So what will Russia do? Anything could happen but I cannot see them backing down. The joint command in Syria, involving Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and presumably Syria itself, has already come out and clearly stated that the US are crossing their red lines. They are saying they will respond militarily to any other US attacks on Syria.
Presumably though any actual conflict between these parties would be confined to Syria, at least initially. I say that because surely anybody can see that a wider US-Russian war would be disastrous for everybody and that, with respect to conventional weapons at any rate, neither side is really ready for a wholesale conflict? The US couldn't realistically deploy sufficient troops to take out Russia even in the medium term never mind the short term, if at all? The few thousand that they have deployed in recent months around Russia's borders are clearly insufficient to launch any kind of real assault on Russia, you would have thought at any rate.
Well time will tell I guess...