I’ve always found it ironic that the Republican Party, the great defenders of Christianity have it out for every secular ruler in the Middle East. Those leaders that protect Christians from slaughter and even take them into their Government have been earmarked for eradication time and again by neoconservatives in GOP while alliances with right-wing Sunni theocracies in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait drive US policy. Bashar al-Assad who unquestionably has committed an absolutely heinous crime with his use of chemical weapons is the latest on the list of secular Arab leaders designated to be toppled by the American right. More on that in a minute.
Meanwhile the other major US political party, the Democrats have in a very systematic way raised hysteria about Russia to a boiling point in this country. Yes, the apparent Russian hacking and alleged ties to the Trump Campaign deserve serious scrutiny. But the implication that Trump is somehow controlled by the Kremlin and the hysteria connected with it has created a climate of Russophobia that I deal with virtually every day. It has also potentially pushed the current GOP administration into a posture where it is bending over backwards to prove it is not in Russia’s pocket. What has resulted as I have pointed out previously is Trump’s foreign policy being in many ways reflexively anti-Russian, as evidenced by the hard line rhetorically the President is taking toward Iran, his saber-rattling over North Korea (this is largely justified, I must admit) and now his attack on Syria where Russia has ground troops and its one large military base outside the former Soviet Union.
President Trump is correct in expressing moral outrage over the use of chemical weapons. But this gave him an excuse to placate both political parties, the GOP who wants Assad toppled and the Democrats who have made Russian leader Vladimir Putin public enemy number, with an attack on a Syrian air base. This provocative act by Trump which is backed by the majority of high-ranking politicians in both parties opens up a potentially dangerous new chapter in Russo-American relations.
The war in Syria is a sectarian war where Assad and Putin’s opponents are either connected directly to ISIS/Daesh/IS/ISIL or are backed by the American-aligned theocracies in the Persian Gulf region. Make no mistake about it – if either side wins Christians and Shiite Muslims WILL be slaughtered in mass. Donald Trump’s intervention in this war, something that had seemingly been advocated by his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton and by former President Barack Obama but rejected by candidate Trump will raise the stakes in geopolitics.
But Donald Trump claims he is a deal maker – why doesn’t he use this position of potential strength to make a grand deal with Putin’s Russia, something which will benefit the whole world. Here is what I would propose.
1) Russia and her allies recognize Kosovo’s independence. Also a demand must be made for China and India to recognize Kosovo’s independence, something they have failed to do at this point presumably out of deference to Russia (or maybe in India’s case for fear of a precedent being set for Kashmir’s independence). Kosovo is a majority Muslim country and the west first under President G.W. Bush and then under President Obama made efforts to secure international recognition for Kosovo something the anti-American elements in the Muslim world fail to acknowledge.
2) Russia recognizes the right for Ukraine to align with the west through our institutions such as the EU and NATO. Quite frankly Ukraine is years away (if ever) from EU membership so the NATO portion is bound to be more contentious.
3) The US and its allies recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the independence of the two ethnic Russian autonomous regions in Georgia. Russia agrees to sign a treaty of non-aggression which Georgia which is backed by the west militarily.
4) On Syria, Trump and Putin agree that Assad should step down but will be replaced another Baathist or someone acceptable to the Shiite and Christian minorities in the country – Syria then would also be a state allowed to remain in the Russian sphere blocked from alliance with the theocracies in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE. Russia would be allowed to maintain a military presence in Syria and that could serve as an effective buffer against terrorism and ISIS/Daesh/IS/ISIL. Russia and the United States agree to a partnership against ISIS/Daesh/IS/ISIL.
I realize this is a super long shot, but ideas like this to diffuse tensions and create a safer and more peaceful co-existence between great powers should be on the table.