The echoes of bombardments rattle Syrian neighborhoods while far off in the Kazakhstan city of Astana delegations from both sides of the conflict meet face to face in order to negotiate an end of hostilities.
Kazakhstan is essentially a client state of the Russian Federation — as a full member of the not so often spoken of Eurasian Economic Union, Kazakhstan is subservient to the Kremlin. Make no mistake, Russia wants to resolve this conflict on terms they see as beneficial to their people. Unlike the United States, Russia is not hampered by those among us that wish to stand on the sidelines and watch while the power vacuum left behind is filled by other nations hoping to restore their legacies. As we struggle internally, two of the most alien peoples are beginning to integrate. Obama watched as China stretched out her arm to Russia with the “One Belt, One Road initiative,” as Russian arms dealers landed lucrative contracts with the Chinese air force, and as the rules of realpolitik were turned against us.
Yet, some are still claiming that we can afford to ignore Russia even as the Eurasian continent becomes more and more comfortable in their diverse skin. If we are to have a role in this new Asia it’s becoming increasingly clear that we can’t do it with the same old Kissinger Gambit.
These people, of course, are the liberals. The very same people that did nothing as Russia grew in power and laughed at conservatives for mentioning the threat are now blaming rational conservatives for pointing out the obvious: Russia played Obama like a fiddle. These are also the same folks that believe America can win in a way that won’t cause anyone else to lose.
Ideally, if we had a capable leader for the past 8 years, Obama would have been able to position the United States into the role of arbitrator and these talks would be taking place in Kuwait or one of the various other emirates that at least pretend to love us while they plot our downfall.
Having failed miserably in exercising external power, the Kerry State Department granted Vladimir Putin an incredible opportunity to profit off of peacekeeping. Expect the Kremlin to pressure the conflict to come to a quick close before the Trump administration is able to fully commit itself to any operation. As such, the talks taking place in Astana could prove to be a very pivotal moment.