Turkey just bombed and brought down a Russian plane in the Syrian-Turkish border region. Turkey claims that the plane was in its territory while Russia says that the plane was well within Syria. Turkey says that it gave 10 warnings before shooting the plane. However, the plane was only in that particular location for 17 seconds. This is the gravest provocation of Russia by a NATO member in the last 50 years. Putin has warned Turkey of very serious consequences. America and the other NATO members have come in support of Turkey’s right to defend its sovereignty. However, Turkey so far has been unable to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the plane was in its airspace.
Russia seems to have no other choice than a serious retaliation. Russia has to maintain its credibility to maintain the recognition as a formidable global power. If Russia does not take a strong action, then not only it runs the risk of losing its new found respect in Europe and the rest of the world as a global power, but also its neighbors such as Poland will get the wrong message that they do not have to fear Russia if they join American schemes of encircling Russia.
This incident shows that America and Turkey are not wholeheartedly fighting the IS in Syria. American goals are severely myopic and still fixed on getting rid of Assad and let Russia not take the lead in the fight against IS and terrorism. Similarly, Turkey has mixed goals. It does not like Russia to bombard the Syrian Turkmen population in the North, close to the Turkish border. Russia claims that Turkey is buying oil from the IS. Therefore, Turkey indirectly supports the terrorists (financially). Russia has also accused the Turkish government for Islamization of Turkey. In other words, Turkey is moving from secularism to radical Islam.
So far, Putin seems to be winning the hearts and minds of the Europeans. The refugee crisis and the terrorist attacks in Paris have deeply affected the European psyche. There is a strong feeling against radical Islam, which is seen as the cause of terrorism. In an atmosphere like this Russia is seen as a victim and Turkey is seen as a perpetrator of radical Islam and terrorism. Russia is seen as a country which is taking a leading role in fighting against these while America is seen as a country which directly or indirectly supports them, at least is wavering in the struggle against them. The net result will be further isolation of Turkey in Europe and failure of Turkey in Europe and failure of Turkey to be accepted in the mainstream Europe. This will also lead to more and more acceptance of Russia as an integral part of Europe. At this crucial juncture, Russia has been able to win the heart and the soul of Europe as a defender of the Christian- European civilization against the attack of Radical Islam and terrorism.
America should learn from its major European allies such as England, Germany and France. All of these have accepted the fact that it is not only futile, but also counterproductive to try to contain China or Russia. They have also adopted a policy of making the best of the new situation. England has made many new deals with China. France and Germany are trying to convince America that instead of trying to contain Russia, we should accept the fact that we can no longer ignore Russia and have to accept it as a global player. However, America continues to try to use the most marginalized powers in Europe such as Ukraine, Poland and Turkey to contain Russia. Such short-sighted policy is bound to fail. It can even backfire. When these countries try to mess with Russia not only they are bound to fail, they also enhance Russia’s prestige by giving it an opportunity to show its strength and put them down.
America committed the same mistake earlier when it incited Georgia against Russia. America should also realize that to make these countries stand up against Russia in Europe or against China in Asia has the potential of escalating the tensions to such a dangerous level that the situation may completely get out of control and can even trigger a Third World War, which can be much more dangerous and destructive than because it has the potential to turn nuclear and destroy the whole planet. America should learn from the history of the two World Wars. Both of these wars started not as a direct confrontation between the major powers, but initially, the third or fourth-rated powers of Europe triggered the conflicts which drew the major powers and the conflicts escalated to the World Wars. If America really wants to help its ally Turkey to award a very severe punishment, then it should seriously reconsider its policy of trying to contain Russia and China and instead work with them to preserve peace and tranquility in the world. It will be much better deal which saves half of what you have rather losing all. The French President Hollande is in Moscow. France and Russia are joining their forces to fight the IS. This is being projected as a “New Era in Russia- France relations”. France is going to become neutral between Russia and the US.
Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S. is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. He can be reached at [email protected].