One is struck by the overtones of bitter scorn in the European and US news coverage of Putin’s plans for an immediate withdrawal from the Syrian war. There is everywhere the sense that the very powers that pressured Russia into the conflict see in this recent turn of Russian policy a betrayal, yet, however dubious Russia’s motives were in the course of its Syrian engagement, it does appear to be the case that Putin has secured the moral high ground. Any war is fundamentally unjust when it is undertaken without just cause and without objectives. There is nothing just or moral in the US, British, and French campaign of airstrikes against civilian targets, and it is certainly the case that these countries are warring without any idea of what their objectives are.
Russia stated its objectives before committing air units and attempted to reach these strategic objectives. One of these was the disruption of Islamic State’s oil trade, and Russia pursued this end throughout its engagement. What the Russian Airforce managed to achieve in the course of this mission was the realisation that ISIS, through its oil exports, was being funded by the European Union and the United States. After making this discovery, even at the cost of crossing swords with Turkey (a US ally), we have to ask why Russia remained engaged at all. Nothing of this war is as it seems, and Russia has done the right thing.
The sorry fact of the United States’ predicament in Syria is that it has no exit strategy, and in fact it can have no exist strategy. In the aftermath of 11 September 2001 the US, together with its allies, has gone down the trajectory of unending, over-expanded global war. It has to take this apocalyptic course because it has put its foreign policy cart before the horse. Dwight Eisenhower outlined exactly what has come to pass in his 1961 farewell speech; the United States has constructed a vast military-industrial complex that has now taken the lead over the US democracy in all matters of international diplomacy. War and the privatisation and financialisation of military violence have become the staple of the US’ economic diet. Nothing but warfare and the wastage of US’ produced arms in conflict can keep America afloat. This, pretty much alone, dictated the United States’ entry into Syria, and its decision to go in without the slightest notion as to how to get back out.
Neither freedom nor security, as Eisenhower was keen to impress upon the nation, are protected when the nation’s economic survival is reliant on a private armaments industry and an over-funded military apparatus. Since the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq the systematic and wholesale privatisation of war and foreign occupation have underlined the extent to which the United States depends on the continuation and intensification of war and securitisation. Sadly this cult of the death machine has reached such a pitch in US state thinking that its decision makers are no longer capable of seeing the logic of Russia’s wise decision to end its war in Syria.