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Edward Luttwak on Putin's Great Crime: He Defends His Allies and Attacks His Enemies.

In these grim times, I am afforded light relief by CNNthe only news channel offered by the treadmill of my Tokyo apartment houseas its presenters and pundits gravely debate the motives behind Putin's investment in Syria. His own version is that he is fighting "extremism," which oddly enough is the same dark threat that President Barack Obama also recognizes while rigorously avoiding the qualifiers Islamic, Islamist, or Muslimalthough he will refer to Isol, prompting the thought that it is impossible to defeat an enemy one is afraid to name. There is no Isol or even Isis anymore, because the good old ad-Dawlah al-Islamiyah fi'l-E Iraq wa-sh-Shamthe Islamic State of Iraq and Syriahas long since become the Islamic State of everywhere from Nigeria to Afghanistan, no doubt also including the British Isles and Michigan. Ignoring earnest declarations of its un-Islamic character solemnly issued by non-Muslim presidents, premiers, and prelates, volunteers who recognize the authenticity of the Islamic State keep pouring into its still-expanding borders, easily offsetting the casualties inflicted by the very expensive U.S. bombing campaign, now joined by the British, French, and Putin, whose air force already claims dozens of air strikes against the common foe.

Putin's enthusiasm for the great cause might be expected to earn him some gratitude. Instead, the Russian leader is criticized by wise CNN punditsand by the Obama Administrationfor seeking to defend his client Assad by bombing his other enemies as well, i.e., the dozens of quarreling Islamist bands that grandly call themselves Jaysh al-Fatah, "the army of conquest," the several quarreling factions of Syrian Army defectors that call themselves al-Jaysh as-Suri al-a[cedilla][currency]urr, "the free Syrian army," the unabashedly extremist al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat an-Nua[sup.1][pounds sterling]rah, which is much stronger than both, and, above all, the brave "pro-democracy" warriors armed and trained by the United States itself, under a $500 million program.

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Author:Luttwak, Edward N.
Publication:Tablet Magazine
Date:Oct 8, 2015
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