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Russia, US May Be on a Collision Course in Syria

Putin has made a huge error in leaving it up to Assad whether Russia goes to war with the US. The initiative for war would not be in the hands of Putin, but with the Syrian dictator, who could initiate a conflict by using chemical weapons again on civilians or just dropping a few barrel bombs of conventional explosives. On his own, Assad could start a war and then force Putin to either make good on his threat or slink away.

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Vladimir Putin does not seem to me to be the slinking type.

Hopefully, Putin will put his foot on Assad’s neck in order to keep him in line. But if Putin has finally decided he wants a confrontation with the west, Syria is probably where it will start.

Russia, US May Be on a Collision Course in Syria

What could go wrong for the U.S. in Syria? War with Russia. – The Washington Post

Pressure to escalate is only going to get worse.

When Secretary of State Rex Tillerson travels to Moscow this week, topic No. 1 will be Syria — and the stakes could not be higher. If the Trump administration and the Kremlin are not able to come to a meeting of the minds on Syria, it could set the two nuclear powers on a dangerous collision course.

But therein lies a major dilemma for Trump moving forward. Successful deterrence requires a credible threat to hit Assad’s forces again if the regime continues to use chemical weapons or commits other transgressions. Yet Trump, having already rejected a larger military response out of apparent recognition of the dangers, may find it difficult to credibly signal he is willing to deploy this option in response to further actions by Assad down the line.

In this context, the danger of miscalculation is real. The Syrian dictator (perhaps prodded by Russia or Iran) may attempt to test Trump again, hoping to prove the president is a “paper tiger.” And Trump, having invested his personal credibility in standing firm, may find himself psychologically or politically compelled to respond, despite the very real risks that it could result in a direct military clash with Russia.

What could go wrong for the U.S. in Syria? War with Russia. – The Washington Post

Syria air strikes: Why the prospect of a US war against Russia is real

When US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson travels to Moscow this week, topic No. 1 will be Syria – and the stakes could not be higher.

If the Trump administration and the Kremlin are not able to come to a meeting of the minds on Syria, it could set the two nuclear powers on a dangerous collision course.

However justified and morally satisfying, any use of military force is serious business, and even last Thursday’s limited strikes could lead the United States and Russia down a path towards escalation.

The expansive way in which US officials have talked about the purpose of the strikes increases the prospects of mission creep. In his statement announcing the attack, Trump framed it as essential to “prevent and deter the spread and use of chemical weapons.”

Syria air strikes: Why the prospect of a US war against Russia is real

US and Russia haven’t been this close to a clash since the Cold War | New York Post

Russia and the US now are in greater danger of a direct military clash than at any time since the end of the Cold War. Their leaders are driven by domestic political considerations and macho instincts — a dangerous combination. The only clear winner in this fraught situation is ISIS. In recent months, the Russian-aided Syrian regime and the US have been successfully chipping away at it from different sides. Now, the regime may need to concentrate on its immediate survival in the face of an increased US threat.

The news aggregator Al-Masdar is already reporting, based on unnamed sources, that ISIS has launched an offensive in the area near Shayrat. In a conflict as complicated as the Syrian one, hitting one of the parties, no matter how evil, necessarily encourages other bad actors. Trump won’t beat ISIS by attacking Assad — he can only embarrass his domestic opposition and, to some extent, Putin. Neither is necessarily in the US interest.

US and Russia haven’t been this close to a clash since the Cold War | New York Post

NatSec adviser says “we’re prepared to do more” as Russia hints current U.S. strategy could mean war

Trump’s top national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster suggests Russia had to know Syria was plotting chemical attack.

In his first interview as President Donald Trump’s top national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster on Sunday backed the U.S. missile attack on Syria last week, saying “we’re prepared to do more,” even as Russian officials hint that current U.S. strategy could mean war.

When Wallace asked what the United States will do if Russia defends its interests in Syria, mentioning Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s comments Friday that the U.S. missile strike in Syria put the two countries “on the verge of a military clash,” McMaster stood firm on his position that Russia is “part of the problem” and should become “part of the solution.”

NatSec adviser says “we’re prepared to do more” as Russia hints current U.S. strategy could mean war

Will this lead to war?

We already know that the US and Russia are at a tipping point: Where something small can trigger something big. It’s not going to take a lot to push them over the edge.

We know that Putin doesn’t back down, he doubles down. And it appears that Trump doesn’t back down either. Haven’t you noticed how Trump always fights those who attack him? Against all odds Trump fought to become president and by a miracle he won. Syria is a place where two leaders who won’t back down can butt heads.

My conclusion is that the elements for a great-power war are certainly present in Syria. If the war spreads to Israel, then I think it would be time to get serious about preparing for World War III.

6 Reasons U.S.-China Relations Are Headed For Trouble | RealClearWorld

In his bombshell book “Destined for War,” which is soon to be released, Harvard professor Graham Allison offers what can only be described as the definitive account of how Washington and Beijing could soon be on the path to a disastrous conflict, ensnarled in what is often referred to as the Thucydides Trap.

While the book offers many important insights, it is Allison’s depiction of the most dangerous of greases for this trap that should terrify his readers. The enabling substance contains two key ingredients: Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Chinese Dream and visions of putting his nation on a path toward “national rejuvenation,” and U.S. President Donald Trump’s quest to Make America Great Again. These set the stage for a bigger challenge: The creation of a zero-sum game in which the newfound greatness of the one is perceived as a strategic or economic loss for the other.

6 Reasons U.S.-China Relations Are Headed For Trouble | RealClearWorld

Why Israel and Hezbollah are heading for a new, devastating war in the Middle East | The Independent

“… Iran and Hezbollah have some reason to fear that the Trump administration, Russia and Syria’s al-Assad might find a suitable deal in the coming period that essentially deals out the Shia duo.”

Israel wants Iran and Hezbollah out of Syria. Once the war ends then Russia and Syria might be fine with that scenario. I don’t think Iran is going to allow that to happen if it can help it.

In 13 years of watching these two bitter opponents, I have never seen such a high degree of anxiety that war is coming

The core problem with all of these – mostly inaccurate – assumptions is that they are providing vital lubricant for the main casus belli that has now fully emerged in Southern Syria and the Occupied Golan. Meanwhile, both Hezbollah and Iran appear to be continuing down the path of acquiring ever more sophisticated armaments.

Perhaps even more problematic, Iran and Hezbollah have some reason to fear that the Trump administration, Russia and Syria’s al-Assad might find a suitable deal in the coming period that essentially deals out the Shia duo. Any attempt to sideline Iran and Hezbollah in Syria, however, would probably provoke a strong counter-reaction that could lead to a wider war. It would certainly leave both actors looking particularly vulnerable to an attempted knock-out blow by the Israelis.

Why Israel and Hezbollah are heading for a new, devastating war in the Middle East | The Independent

World War III nightmare scenario brewing in the East China Sea | CNBC

While the world watches mounting military tensions in the South China Sea, another, more ominous situation is brewing in the East China Sea that could be the trigger point for a major war between the superpowers. At the heart of tensions are eight uninhabited islands controlled by Japan that are close to important shipping lanes, rich fishing grounds and potential oil and gas reserves. China contests Japan’s claims and is escalating its military activity in Japan airspace. In response, Japan has been doubling its F-15 jet intercepts.

The situation increases the risk of an accidental confrontation — and could draw other countries, like the United States, into a conflict. It’s a topic President Trump will likely bring up with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago estate this week.

World War III nightmare scenario brewing in the East China Sea | CNBC

Killing of a Hamas Leader Could Signal a New Conflict With Israel – The New York Times

After spending a day at the beach, Mazen Fuqaha, a commander of Hamas’s military wing, dropped his wife and children at the entrance to their Gaza apartment block and went to park his car.

His life ended in a garage, where he was found dead in the driver’s seat of his car after sunset on Friday, shot four times in the head from close range. Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls the Palestinian coastal territory of Gaza, blamed Israel. The group presented no evidence but said the “quiet assassination” bore the hallmarks of a hit by Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, and pledged to respond.

Israeli officials have not commented on Mr. Fuqaha’s death other than to say that he was involved in planning attacks against Israel.

Killing of a Hamas Leader Could Signal a New Conflict With Israel – The New York Times

Prepare for battle: Israel, Hezbollah on the path to war | TheHill

Are Israel and Hezbollah headed for war?

That’s the question many analysts are grappling with in the wake of recent escalations involving an Israeli strike inside Syria that targeted a weapons shipment meant for Hezbollah. It prompted Bashar Assad’s launch of three SA-5 surface-to-air missiles, triggering the first known use of Israel’s Arrow-2 missile defense system. The conflagration was noteworthy enough for several Israeli newspapers to describe it as “the most serious incident” to occur between Israel and forces inside Syria in recent years.

Since the end of their inconclusive 33-day conflict in 2006, conventional wisdom has always been that another war between Hezbollah and Israel was simply a matter of time, and when it happens, the extent of destruction in Israel and Lebanon will dwarf that of the previous war. Some have concluded that the promise of such devastation works as a measure of deterrence, at least for now.

The questions then become, when will the war begin, and how will it be triggered?

Prepare for battle: Israel, Hezbollah on the path to war | TheHill

Are Israel and Hezbollah Preparing for War? | The Nation

Hezbollah’s role in the Syria conflict has transformed and emboldened the Lebanese Shiite movement—and worried Israel.

“I can assure you we have a nice, shiny new anti-aircraft system to show them,” says Samir, referring to Hezbollah’s planned response to an Israeli aerial assault. “We’ve got heavy long-range missiles, directly from the Russians, that can hit anywhere in Israel.” He denied requests to see the weapons, citing security concerns.

While he boasts about Hezbollah’s reinforced military capability, Samir says war with Israel isn’t on the agenda at the moment. But he’s convinced that at some point there will be another round of conflict, one that will be very costly for both sides but one that his forces will win.

Are Israel and Hezbollah Preparing for War? | The Nation

1914 Redux? Growing Asia-Pacific Tensions Demand New US Strategy « Breaking Defense

In this timely op-ed, Maj. Paul Smith, who works in the J-9 of U.S. Pacific Command but is, of course, writing in a personal capacity, compares today’s international security situation to that preceding World War I and sees worrying parallels. He calls for a reassessment of our strategy toward China. Read on. The Editor.

The global environment today eerily resembles that of Europe in the early twentieth century, when a rising tide of nationalism swept through the continent. That nationalism led to increased trade competition, networks of intertwined and complicated alliances and social and political ferment that sparked a war that eventually spread to engulf much of the world in the flames of World War I.

Are we headed towards another global conflict? If so, then where? Most importantly, can this crisis be averted?

1914 Redux? Growing Asia-Pacific Tensions Demand New US Strategy « Breaking Defense