Will Russia's line in the Syrian sand halt US imperial ambitions?

John Wight
John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio. John is currently working on a book exploring the role of the West in the Arab Spring. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnWight1
A Russian serviceman near a Su-30 fighter aircraft at the Hmeimim airbase in Syria. © Maksim Blinov
After three decades of untrammeled power, with the destruction of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya the calamitous result, Russia has drawn a line in the sand in Syria against Washington’s double-dealing and duplicity.

Making a desert and calling it peace, this is the message delivered to us down through the ages from the Roman historian Tacitus when it comes to the reality of empire, stripped bare of pretense and obfuscation. Its modern variant is 'destroying the village in order to save it'. Embodied within both is the same inarguable truth – that empire, any empire, is neither benign nor benevolent. Instead, it represents a monstrous perversion of morality and a violation of the right of all peoples and nations to self-determination.

One of the most astounding aspects of empire is the consistent inability or refusal of its adherents in any given historical epoch to understand that it contains within in it the seeds of its own demise. This is entirely due to one of the most fundamental aspects of the human condition - namely that the injustice that supports untrammeled power invites its own response in the form of resistance.

In Syria, this resistance has arrived in the form of Russia’s alliance with the Syrian government in halting yet another attempt at regime change, responsible for the litany of ruin mentioned earlier. Now, in Syria, the conflict and crisis has reached the point where Russia can no longer pretend it has a serious or honest partner in Washington when it comes to arriving at a negotiated settlement. A sequence of events that began with a US-led airstrike, claimed to have been an accident, against Syrian soldiers while they were engaged in combat against ISIS in the east, followed by the breakdown of a ceasefire in Aleppo, married to a barrage of unfounded allegations with regard to Russian and Syrian airstrikes targeting civilians, and finally with threats being made that more US airstrikes may be unleashed against Syrian Army positions, has brought Russia to the point of no return.

The main issue of contention in Syria is Washington’s overriding objective of overthrowing of the Assad government. It is an objective responsible for prolonging the conflict and, with it, the suffering of the country’s people. Sovereignty, clearly, is a foreign land in the minds of US policymakers, addicted as they are to the hegemony their country has enjoyed and abused since the demise of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. The unipolar world they have presided over since has been a mess, wherein human despair rather than democracy is the norm. It reflects a profound lack of wisdom and farsightedness on the part of a political leadership that cannot see the wood for the trees.

None other than former US president, Richard Nixon, understood the danger and folly of one country enjoying and wielding uncontested power in the world. As Henry Kissinger writes in his 2014 book, ‘World Order’, Nixon opined back in 1971 that, “We must remember the only time in history of the world that we have had any extended period of peace is when there has been balance of power. It is when one nation becomes infinitely more powerful in relation to its potential competitor that the danger of war arises.”

While President Nixon may have been wrong on many issues, on this he was never more correct.

It is a blistering indictment of US foreign policy that we have arrived at a point where direct military confrontation between Moscow and Washington is closer now than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.

The end of the Soviet Union has been purposely misrepresented as a victory for the United States rather than the managed dismantling of a system that was no longer fit for the purpose of meeting the demands and aspirations of its people. No credit devolves to Washington or its allies for this seminal event, yet they drew from it a triumphalist sense of their own superiority. It left them dizzy with success as they surveyed the post-Soviet world as a chess master surveys a chessboard prior to making the next move.

But unlike chess, this is not a game. Indeed, it could not be more serious. Russia’s presence in Syria, at the behest of its government, has succeeded in preventing, in conjunction with its Syrian Army allies, the country’s collapse and takeover not by democrats or lovers of liberty, but by the most barbaric, brutal and malign forces the region has ever seen.

It is why when Russia decided to draw the line against US aggression in Syria, it did so not only in the interests of protecting its servicemen and Syrian allies from harm, but also in the cause of calling a halt to an out of control juggernaut otherwise known as US imperialism.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.