russia continues air strikes into syria
Aftermath of vehicle targeted by Russian air strikes. (REUTERS)

Perhaps I should explain the title of this post before discussing Russia’s bombing campaign, currently underway in Syria.

After a member of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s cabinet called a certain Latin American head of state a “Bastard” for being a particularly nasty dictator, Roosevelt offered a swift response that’s indicative of US proxy policy: “Yes, but he’s one of our bastards!”

I’ll weave the Roosevelt story into a point I’ve been making for a while about politics and war: the struggle at times has nothing to do with good versus evil, but may have everything to do with whose bastards will win.

The US appears to have a hard time digesting Russia’s claim of bombing Islamic State and other jihadist targets in Syria.

And with the predictable success of a pitbull attempting to perform a second derivative of a step function, the press immediately began to publish stories which accused Russia of bombing only the moderate rebels — the bastard fighters in Syria allegedly supported by America — as well as bombing civilians and executing just enough air strikes to maintain Syria President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

America may not like Russia’s current choice in bastards, but America also doesn’t have much credibility here.

Not unless you want to call this failure to bomb an ISIL supply line credibility:

Or do you want to discuss how the US managed to surgically bomb Iraq, but destroy Syrian neighborhoods

Exactly a year and seven days ago, I wrote about how the Shia militias in southern Iraq would make short work out of ISIL, but has the US seriously leveraged that kind of help over the months? Of course not — because the US doesn’t deal with terrorists.

However, the US managed to let ISIL grow from terrorist group status into a rouge state and now half-heartedly bombs it.

And where are these moderate Syria rebels the Russians have apparently hit?

We all know by now that moderate rebels are virtually nonexistentin Syria’s civil war.

They have been infiltrated by either ISIL or Al-Qaeda.

Or they have been killed by ISIL or Al-Qaeda.

Or they’ve been carjacked.

Or perhaps they soaked up US training and arms support, only to change sides and join a jihadist group when the time came to fight.

Or they are just as dependable as the hundreds of other armed and mercurial jihadist gangs running around Syria at the moment. Peter Wittig, German Ambassador to the US, efficiently explained the risk of arming and training Syrian rebels:

We can’t really control the final destination of these arms.

(Laughing) but at least Russia helped America find some moderate rebels on the battlefield!

Of course I understand that Russia’s energy interests serve as motivation for getting involved in Syria. Hell, energy is the reason why Syria is experiencing this war. Therefore, I wouldn’t be surprised if Russia wants to bomb any enemy of the Assad regime.

But I also see that the US had an opportunity to stabilize Syria, chose not to do so, and provided an opening for Russia to support its own bastard as a result.

The big question is: how much of Assad’s original territory do the Russians and the Iranians plan to take back?

The answer may tell us the size of the conflict which lies ahead …

song currently stuck in my head: “when i found you” patrice rushen

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