A critical aspect of Golden Rule government is acquiring knowledge and imagining ourselves in the situation of others. With the news today that a Russian General has walked into the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to request/tell the U.S. to pull its soldiers away from Syria, I’ve started to imagine what Russian President Vladimir Putin might be planning. Following are some of the questions I’m pondering:
- Now that we’ve been asked/told by Russia to withdraw our troops from Syria, how long will it be before an American soldier is accidentally killed by a Russia bomb?
- In the likely case we pull our troops back further after that American death, how long will it then be before a full Russian military base is built in Syria?
- What American interests will be put at risk by that vastly expanded Mediterranean base?
- What part of Russia’s re-expansion strategy benefits from Russia’s rapidly strengthening Syria-Iran alliance?
- Once Russia begins to fight ISIS in and around Syria while also taking out the handful (actually) of soldiers allied with the U.S. in Syria, do we fully turn over the fight against ISIS to Russia?
- Do we have any reason to trust that Russia would only fight ISIS, given Putin’s willingness to invade relatively defenseless nations and know the international community will let him bully his way into control?
- Which one of the ‘stans, or will it be Armenia, will the international community have a harder time reaching to stop Russia’s taking of control the next time Putin senses that the U.S. President is politically weak? (My money is on oil-rich Kazakhstan, but there are other candidates).
It’s easy to say let’s clear out from the Middle East and let Russia fight ISIS. But we can be certain that Putin isn’t moving just a single chess piece. In Doing Unto Others, set in the 2040s, Russia has full control of some former Soviet Union nations beyond those he has already taken. Putin may be on the path to greater control sooner than I suspected.