The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Chicago Tribune (TNS)

The following editorial appeared in the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday, Nov. 18:

How much do we trust Vladimir Putin? Not at all, even when he does the right thing.

Russia on Tuesday launched cruise missiles toward Syria from the Mediterranean, but it seemed a good idea to double-check reports that the target was an Islamic State stronghold. The missiles easily could have been meant for U.S.-supported militias on the ground, since Putin’s hit them as well.

The reports were true, though. Russia went after numerous Islamic State positions, as did French warplanes. The U.S. Defense Department said the Russians even followed safety procedures by giving notice before launching the missiles, as they had promised. Putin also ordered a missile cruiser to cooperate with the French “as allies” on Syria operations.

Vive les frenemies!

The teamwork, however long it lasts, is a direct response to terror. The French are bombing Islamic State territory in retaliation for the Paris attacks. On Tuesday, Russian officials confirmed that an explosive hidden on board took down a Russian jetliner over Egypt on Oct. 31, killing all 224 passengers and crew. Islamic State’s Egypt branch had claimed responsibility. Russia did not name Islamic State as the culprit, but within hours Russia was firing missiles toward its headquarters in Raqqa.

“We will search for them everywhere, no matter where they are hiding,” Putin said of the perpetrators. “We will find them at any point on the planet and punish them.”

If the U.S., France and other allies end up fighting alongside the Russians to take down Islamic State — in partnership again as in World War II — that would be gratifying and logical. It also would be … weird. Out of character, at least, given Putin’s rogue ambitions.

In Europe, let’s not forget, the U.S. and its NATO allies are trying to figure out how best to contain Russia in the wake of its seizure of Crimea and adventurism in Ukraine. In Syria, the Russians quietly took over an airfield in territory controlled by the besieged madman President Bashar Assad. Putin indicated his forces would support Assad, an ally, by targeting Islamic State. Soon it became clear Islamic State was an afterthought: Mainly the Russians have been firing at areas held by anti-government rebels — our friends.

Putin’s main reason for being in Syria is to protect Assad and project Russian power. Russia is still at odds with President Barack Obama because the U.S. wants Assad out. Assad’s a brutal dictator who slaughters his own people. We saw the first slight signs of a shift on this point at Syrian peace talks in Vienna, where the U.S. signaled some patience on the subject of Assad’s future. Putin, with his forces in the air and on the ground, forced the point.

No one envisions the Vienna talks going anywhere quickly, but Islamic State’s horrible deeds have retribution on the minds of friends and frenemies alike. Russia is an American adversary but also a victim of terrorism. At the G-20 summit in Turkey over the weekend, Obama and Putin spent 30 minutes in conversation. That doesn’t happen very often.

My enemy’s enemy is … in this case, my enemy. You go, Vlad.

©2015 Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Photo: President Obama chats with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin prior to a working session at the Group of 20 leaders summit in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Turkey, November 16, 2015. REUTERS/Kayhan Ozer/Pool

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Fort Worth Police at the scene of a violent crime.

Photo by Brandon Harer (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

If you're worried by the rise in violent crime — a real and troubling phenomenon — don't ask Republicans for solutions. All they can offer is a blame game that relies on dubious cherry-picked data. To get their message, just glance at Breitbart.com, the home of hard-right hackery: "Violent Crime Surges 25 Percent in 2021 With Democrats in Washington." You can find dozens of similar headlines across right-wing platforms, which invariably announce "skyrocketing crime rates in Dem-run cities." (Stay tuned for grainy video of a disturbing attack.)

Then there's former President Donald Trump himself, the loudest presidential loser in history, blathering fantastical statistics that are meant to show how dangerous life is in America now that he's gone.

Keep reading... Show less

GOP Senate Campaign Chief Blasts 17 Colleagues Who Support Infrastructure Deal

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) scolded 17 of his Republican colleagues on Thursday for helping Democrats pass "reckless spending." But as chair of the party's campaign arm, it's his job to get them re-elected.

Keep reading... Show less
x

Close