By Emma Jo Hirschy, Aviator editor-in-chief
For a while it looked like the United States would restore better relations with Russia; unfortunately, it doesn’t look that way anymore.
With Russia having the world’s second largest military, right behind us, we should know the dangers of instigating a war with them. Ultimately, Russia is not someone we should be provoking.
For once, Democrats have been primarily supporting President Trump’s decision to launch an airstrike against a key airbase in the town of Idlib, Syria. Daughter of Trump, Ivanka, encouraged the attack after a deadly gas was subjected onto the Syrians of Idlib, killing 72 people which included 20 children.
Syria’s ongoing civil war has been brought to our attention numerous times while the Obama administration was in office. Assad, Syria’s leader, has repeatedly attacked helpless civilians, making claims that those people were rebels. Most people who are even the slightest bit sensitive for the well-being of the rebels labels them as rebels too.
Notably, Russia is a huge ally of Syria.
During the campaign stages of the presidential election, President Trump had repeatedly confessed his wanting to restore better United States relations with Russia. Our immediate hopes to regaining better relations were for the reviving of non-proliferation projects and closer anti-terrorism cooperation.
After launching the missiles at Syria in response to their deadly chemical attack (using deadly chemicals is illegal according to international law), Russia was provoked. Just like Putin had said, the trust between the US and Russia has deteriorated.
Deploying the missiles has spiraled into Putin being unlikely to work with the US and even North Korea threatening to start a nuclear war.
What have we done?
Rex Tillerson, the U.S. Secretary of State, has even flown to Moscow to try to convince Russia to turn on Assad. In reality, the likelihood of Russia breaking its ties with Syria is at an all time low.
Even now, the balance of power in the Syrian civil war is the same as before our attack. Still gaining more territory in Idlib and gaining more control on the corridor that stretches from Damascus to the Mediterranean coast, the US has only slightly slowed them down. Russia still sees Assad to be winning this fight, so they have no reason to turn on Assad.
In the long run, the power status of Russia is very dependent on the outcome of Syria’s war. In the Obama administration’s hesitancy to intervene against Assad, Russia took advantage of becoming the main power broker in Syria. Undoubtedly, the survival of Assad’s ruling in Syria gas become the biggest measure of Putin’s influence in the world.
Not only does Russia’s power play a role into why they are connected to Syria to the extent they are, but also the Russian Orthodox church. The interest in Syria for Russia in regards to religion predates the Soviet Union. The Russian Orthodox has relatively close ties to the Syrian Orthodox Church. By having Syria as an ally, it gives them access to the eastern Mediterranean through one of Syria’s naval bases.
Syria is ground zero to Russia. It’s important to note that Putin and Assad both share the concern with the proliferation of Islamic extremism. Is Russia’s eyes, keeping close ties on Syria will make their friendship a bulwark against the extremism. Because of that, he has embraced Assad’s ruling.
So here America is, intervening against Assad at a limitation of just enforcing the redlines.
The missile attack has been claimed to have been a punishment to Syria but it has been more of a punishment for us. As a result of attacking Syria, US-Russian relations are very unlikely to be restored.
While the chemical attacks were both horrifying and illegal, the United States’s reaction could have been handled in a different manor. Ultimately, the fundamental balance of power in Syria will remain in both Assad and Russia’s favor.
Unless the United States presents Russia with a better reason for them to side with us than Assad, better relations will not be restored after the attack on Syria. Not to mention, Russia has already told Tillerson while during his meeting in Moscow to not attack Syria again or we could be facing more issues.