In a story that is unlikely to make many headlines in a media environment where sex scandals and phony accusations of collusion get all the ratings, something remarkable happened in the Middle East this week. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he was withdrawing his troops from Syria, putting the finishing touches on an explosive civil war, a devastating battle against terrorism, and, most precipitously, a powderkeg situation that temporarily looked as though it could lead us all into World War III.
At the Hemeimeem Air Base in Latakia, Syria, Putin said that Russia and Syrian forces had destroyed ISIS, “one of the most capable groups of international terrorists” with two years of sustained bombings.
“The task of fighting armed bandits here in Syria, a task that it was essential to solve with the help of extensive use of armed force, has for the most part, been solved and solved spectacularly,” Putin said in an address to Russian troops. “I congratulate you! You have shown the best qualities of a Russian soldier.”
It was exactly a month ago that Trump and Putin met informally on the sidelines of the Vietnam economic summit and issued a statement about the future of Syria. “President Trump and President Putin today, meeting on the margins of the APEC conference in Da Nang, Vietnam, confirmed their determination to defeat ISIS in Syria.”
This was a meeting that would have been all but impossible – and certainly ineffective – under the Obama regime, and it simply proves what a bullet we dodged by electing Trump over Hillary Clinton. It was not long ago that Syria was beginning to look like the small-scale battleground that could easily explode into an international war between the U.S. and Russia. And if we’d put Clinton at the helm, it could have certainly gone in that direction. Hillary, who is a war hawk by Republican standards, much less Democrat standards, was largely responsible for getting us mired in the Syrian conflict in the first place. You can bet that she would have wanted to finish what she started, even if that meant exposing us to the risk of all-out nuclear war.
Trump, on the other hand, understands the value of improving relations with Russia. Whatever the American news media thinks about it, he’s exactly right. It does not serve U.S. interests to escalate this conflict beyond the breaking point. Trump used diplomacy and now the situation is beginning to cool off. Putin is pulling out, ISIS is on the brink of utter annihilation, and the prospects for global peace look better than they have in a long, long time. All it took was a fresh set of eyes – a president who has seen what decades of uninterrupted American interference in the Middle East has gotten us: Not much. A president who sees that better relations with Russia can only work to our advantage. These insights seem simple enough, but they were too difficult for Obama (or Clinton) to grasp.