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“Counterproductive”?: Russia and the Warring in Syria

The Pentagon and State Department, echoed as usual by the corporate press, have expressed “concern” about Russian deliveries of the most modern tanks, fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missiles and other military equipment to Syria. They call them “counterproductive,” although it’s not clear what sort of productive cause they counter.

They say these shipments–which they’ve tried to thwart by instructing NATO allies to deny delivery flights through their airspace–are likely “to prolong the war” in that tragically suffering country. Cable news anchors, with furrowed brows and glaring eyes, warn their viewers that Moscow’s stepped-up support for the Assad regime is a “worrisome development.”

Moscow responds blandly that Russia (and the Soviet Union before it) have been allied to the Syrian government since the 1950s, when (like the U.S., actually) it saw the secular Baathists as a preferable alternative to Islamists throughout the region. Russia has been Syria’s main arms supplier for decades, and is (according to RT television) currently filling contracts with Damascus signed years ago.

(Moscow might add that it has maintained a naval base at Tartus on the Syrian coast since 1971, and an airbase at Latakia. These are among Russia’s foreign military basis, which you can count on one hand. The U.S. in contrast has, as you know, well over 700 military bases in over 135 countries where around 300,000 U.S. troops are stationed.)

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