CBS Evening News intoned dramatically on Tuesday evening that “the stakes shot up” in the Middle East as “Russia joined the fighting in Syria.” Pelley went on to say that for the first time, this scenario placed “Russian and American planes are on opposite sides.”
His explanation for why the planes are on opposite sides is that “The US is bombing ISIS,” and he calls upon David Martin to “tell us who Russia is fighting for.” Martin sort of beats around the bush as to where and whom Russia is bombing and that says that Russia “is not joining the US in the fight against ISIS, but is intervening in the fight against Assad, the brutal dictator whom Obama has repeatedly said must go.”
One has to distort reality rather badly to conclude that any of that puts Russian and American warplanes “on opposite sides.” The US is providing arms and training to some, but not all, of the rebels who are fighting against Assad, but we are not in any way engaged militarily against Assad. For Russia to be engaged in support of Assad does not, therefor, make them militarily “on the opposite side” from us.
David Martin tries to imply that Russia is bombing the “moderate rebels” who we have supplied with weapons and trained in the fight against Assad, but that is not likely because all of those “moderate rebels” turned out not to be moderate at all and promptly surrendered to ISIS and handed over the weapons we had given to them.
The only warplanes in the area are Syrian, Russian, American and NATO, none of which have any reason to be shooting at each other. Syrians are not going to be shooting at any of them, because all of them are in support of Syria, and ISIS is going to be shooting at all of them. It’s not complicated.
Turkey complicates the picture a bit, but they are busy bombing Kurds, who are our allies against ISIS, and are in northern Iraq, not Syria. CBS News is trying to pretend that Turkey doesn’t exist because they are our ally, we are flying out of their bases, and they are bombing our friends rather than our enemies.
If all of that leads you to believe that US policy in Syria and Iraq is not very rational, you should be congratulated on the clarity of your thinking. If it leads you to believe that CBS Evening News is run by idiots, another star for clear thinking.