“”Even yet we may draw back, but once cross yon little bridge, and then the whole issue is by the sword.” Julius Caesar at the Rubicon River. 49 B.C.
While I do not think President Trump is contemplating “estimating the great evils for all mankind which would follow their passage of the river and the wide fame of it which they would leave to posterity” as Caesar did. I do think he is deeply concerned about drawing us deeper into the Middle East. He instinctively knows a bad deal. This is a bad deal.
I have written of how history is repeating itself, that we are creeping closer to war. A war that would quickly spin out of control. There is high probability we would be openly and fully at war with Russia. We are actively killing Russian Private Military Contractors as we speak. One of the most connected of these companies is called Wagner or OSM. The name “Wagner” is supposedly the callsign of its founder. He is a retired Spetsnaz GRU Colonel who commanded the 2nd Brigade stationed in Pskov just east of Estonia. Currently the company is run by Dmitry Utkin, who was once head of security for Yevgeny Prigozhin. Wagner also supposedly conducted operations in the Crimean Peninsula.
Russian troops and contractors are likely to stay for the foreseeable future. They are there to guard lucrative oil and gas fields. Under a contract between the Syrian Government and another Russian company these troops are there to insure safe exporting of petroleum. The United States is not the only country to use force to protect allies and critical resources. The company with the Syrian petroleum contract is run by the same Yevgeny Prigozhin who owns Wagner. Yevgeny Prigozhin is called “chef” by Putin for his culinary capability and his close loyalty. In cash strapped Russia, they will protect this vital resource.
Simply put the Russains are dug in, they are watching, and they are planning. They will not initiate action unless they are ready. These isolated strikes against antiquated Syrian units are showing the Russians how we fight. If you look at the “Ratnik” solider modernization system, it models U.S. solider equipment. They are learning from our combat experiences and developing new equipment based on it. They are also developing new tactics such as decentralized infantry doctrine, hybrid warfare, and duping our radar systems to conceal attack aircraft.
They view the Syrian Assad regime much as the United States views Israel. Honest reflection on the U.S and Israeli relationship needs to be conducted, as it might be skewing what is in OUR best interests. Are our allies drawing us into a fight we can’t afford or want? Similarly, there are very deep political, economic, and military ties between Russia and Syria. They are long time and strong allies. The Russians will fight on behalf of the Assad family to keep them in power. Much like we would come to the defense of the UK, Germany, or Israel. This is playing out on their front porch. Sochi, the Russian city that held the winter Olympics, is only about 600 miles from Damascus. How would we react if Russian forces were conducting missile strikes on Guatemala? While this is an apples and oranges comparison it bears relevance. This is the psychological Siegfried line for the Russians. How and more importantly where will they counter?
To further complicate matters we will be taking sides in the Sunni vs. Shia deathmatch. While Sunni’s massively out number Shia Muslims, in the Persian Gulf, the balance of power is more equal. Additionally, Iranian alignment with Russia and China cannot be underestimated. We have long supported the Sunni States. They support oil traded in US Dollars, under pinning the dollars valuation. Sunni nations are more amenable to the existence of Israel, which wins favor with the very powerful Jewish community in the United States. Then after ousting the Shah of Iran, the hostage situation in 1980 put Iran on the permanent U.S. shit list. Then Iranian Quds force actions across the globe and Iranian IED’s killing Americans in Iraq just cemented Iran’s place atop that list.
So we know we have taken the Israeli and Sunni side in this fight. But there is a deeper religious battle at the core of this conflict. The Shia means the “Party of Ali”. Ali ibn Abi Talib is the husband of one Muhammad’s daughters (Fatimah). Shia claimed that Ali was the rightful successor to the Prophet Muhammad following his death in 632. Sunni believe it is through the Muslim council chosen Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s most trusted advisor that the proper path to power is held.
Ali was killed in 661 in the Battle of Karbala, in which Hussein ibn Ali and his household were killed by the ruling Umayyad Caliph Yazid I, effectively a Sunni, and revenge has never left the Islamic community. His sons, Hassan and Hussein, were denied what Shia thought was their legitimate right of accession to the caliphate.
Hassan supposedly was poisoned in 680 and Hussein was killed on the battlefield by the Sunni in 681. These events gave rise to the Shia concept of martyrdom and fueled the fire of revenge that burns to this day. Neither Sunni or Shia has heritage by direct male descendants and competing incomplete claims. Which again opens the door for the King of Jordan, the Hashemite King in the line of Hashim ibn Abd Manaf, great-grandfather of Muhammad himself, which is another story.
I know this is as clear as mud. But it is these competing and incomplete claims that fuel the deep hatred between both groups. It is this blood feud that we are looking to get further embroiled in. We have to ask, are we being drawn in further by our loyalty to our allies? Are we being manipulated by other nations who have political and financial leverage over us? While need to support our allies, but at what cost?
So even though we have strategically been opposed to Russia, Syria, and Iran for decades, does this mean a regional war with real probability of global combat actions is justified. We need to understand we are about to enter an environment where every nation has ulterior motives. The Turks look to be nothing but a problem for the whole region. We have to ask what is really in our best interests and balance that with supporting our allies. If we continue to escalate, what is the response? Does Russia draw us into the Ukraine or Baltics first? Or do they take advantage there with our deeper involvement in Syria? Would the Chinese sense an opportunity with Taiwan? How do we do this without plunging the world into a war that would be biblical in its scope and devastation.
We are ankle deep in the Rubicon river, just one step away from never being able to turn back. The future of humanity quite possibly hangs in the balance of what America does next.