Russian Troubles in Syria, and Ours

It is tempting to watch American foreign policy and Russian foreign policy and assign all the naiveté and sloppy thinking to one and all the clever, chess-playing skills to the other. But that would be wrong. Neither side is very clever and Russia's hand -- and that of the Arabs, Turkey and Iran -- looks even less good today than it did a month ago. The Russian government has announced the pullout of all Russian military forces from Syria, including those who were in the naval base at Tartus, Russia's only (small) toehold in the region. Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told the pan-Arab newspaper al Hayat last week, "Today, the Russian defense ministry does not have a single person in Syria." He also downplayed the significance of Tartus, saying the base "does not have any strategic importance." Bogdanov was not including "technical experts" remaining in Syria to teach soldiers to use their Russian-origin weapons, but he did mention that about 30,000 Russians still live...(Read Full Article)