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Good analysis needing two qualifications

Reader comment on item: Middle Eastern Gyrations

Submitted by Malcolm (Israel), Nov 13, 2019 at 03:49

While agreeing with most of this analysis and appreciating its global scope, two qualifications are needed.
First, Obama did realize that his withdrawal from Iraq was a costly mistake and returned to combat ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. Trump, instead, has repeated that mistake in Syria. According to Wikipedia on "Casualties of the Syrian Civil War," the US military suffered just eight deaths there (including non-combatant situations), as compared with thousands in each of Afghanistan and Iraq. So if Trump had seriously wanted to end the waste of American lives, it made no sense to begin in Syria. Now Trump wants to send back more personnel than he removed in order to "secure the oil" for the USA. He does not know that the Syrian oil fields are contracted to consortia that include major international oil firms, so American oil firms cannot act in violation of those contrasts.

Second, Putin's foreign adventures have been shrewdly limited to places where the local population is friendly. Obviously so in the Ukraine. Also in Syria, the Russian bases are located in the Alawite heartland, where Putin saved the local population (including the Christian minority) from annihilation by Islamists. It is economically that Russia has fluctuated strangely since Putin came to power in 2000. Russia's GDP per capita was then $1,330; it rose to $16,000 in 2013, then sank to $8,760 in 2016, but recovered to $10,740 the next year. The link cited by Mr. Pipes on "declining Russia" admits that "Even a declining Russia possesses enormous scale, an educated population, skilled scientists and engineers, and vast natural resources." So there is potential for further giddy rises in GDP. One problem is legal: at some stage cowboy capitalism needs to be regulated by a robust independent legal system, a problem that the USA confronts vigorously, but an independent legal system could make problems for Putin's suppression of internal opposition.


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