By Nick Gass
10/05/15 02:37 PM EDT
The United States should threaten to retaliate if Russia does not stop attacking U.S. assets in Syria, former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote in a Financial Times op-ed published Sunday, urging “strategic boldness,” with American credibility in the Middle East and the region itself at stake.
Moscow’s apparent decision to strike non-Islamic State targets and those of Syrian rebels backed by the Central Intelligence Agency “at best” reflects “Russian military incompetence,” and worst, “evidence of a dangerous desire to highlight American political impotence,” wrote Brzezinski, the national security adviser for former President Jimmy Carter and a strong supporter of current President Barack Obama.
And if Russia continues to pursue non-ISIL targets, the U.S. should retaliate, he added.
“In these rapidly unfolding circumstances the U.S. has only one real option if it is to protect its wider stakes in the region: to convey to Moscow the demand that it cease and desist from military actions that directly affect American assets,” he said.
“The Russian naval and air presences in Syria are vulnerable, isolated geographically from their homeland,” Brzezinski noted. “They could be ‘disarmed’ if they persist in provoking the US.”
The problem in the Middle East is bigger than Syria, Brzezinski wrote, and it would behoove Russia to cooperate with the U.S., who cannot as it did in the past, rely upon the United Kingdom and France to play a “decisive role” in the region.
“But, better still, Russia might be persuaded to act with the U.S. in seeking a wider accommodation to a regional problem that transcends the interests of a single state,” he added.
Instead of what he calls a “new form of neocolonial domination,” the United States, along with China and Russia, must act in concert to protect their mutual interests, he warned.
“China would doubtless prefer to stay on the sidelines. It might calculate that it will then be in a better position to pick up the pieces. But the regional chaos could easily spread northeastward, eventually engulfing central and northeastern Asia. Both Russia and then China could be adversely affected. But American interests and America’s friends — not to mention regional stability — would also suffer. It is time, therefore, for strategic boldness,” he concluded.