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Archive for October, 2015

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan talks to the media before a meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the EU Commission headquarters in BrusselWas the European migrant crisis little more than a masterful play by Turkey’s President Erdogan to restart Turkey’s stalled EU accession?

After years of war in Syria, and millions of refugees in Turkey and elsewhere, why now the flood into Europe? Some have suggested that Turkey had enough with being ignored, and redirecting Syrian migration towards Europe was the answer. If so, the tactic appears to have worked.

Not long ago, the ‘if, when, and how’ of Turkey’s accession was the talk in EU circles. Then, internal distractions took over.

Turkey may have done the West a good turn. The EU should seize the opportunity and get the job done.

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The Russia Game

 “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”  

Winston Churchill

Just how Putin interprets that national interest is coming into focus, and it is a dangerous vision. Look beyond the claimed intentions, and discern the pattern emerging from the actual actions:

  • Intention 1: Re-establish for Russia the sense of might, malice, and unpredictability with which the Soviet Union was formerly viewed. The subtext is clear – fear us, respect us, for you don’t know what we will do.
  • Intention 2: Provoke, confront and test the limits of Western acquiescence to bold decisive military aggression – for example, to taking America’s proxies off the battlefield in Syria, to shooting down civilian aircraft (KAL 007 take 2), to taking Crimea, to taking part or perhaps all of Ukraine. Look for more to come – right up to, and perhaps over, the brink of live fire between Russian and American forces.
  • Intention 3: Secure Syria for Russia, with Assad as the means.

Of these, the third is the least of our concerns. The first two pose a serious threat. There is no appetite in the Oval Office for confronting Russia in the skies over Syria. Yet direct confrontation is where this all leads.

Washington will soon be forced to make a choice between a potentially apocalyptic confrontation, and abandoning the field. If there are no sleepless nights in the White House, there should be.

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