Home/Daniel Larison/The Downing of the Russian Jet and the Folly of Intervention

The Downing of the Russian Jet and the Folly of Intervention

Philip Giraldi considers the possibility that the Turkish downing of the Russian jet along the Turkish-Syrian border was planned:

Why a relatively minor incursion, if it indeed took place, would warrant a shoot down has to be questioned unless it was actually a Turkish plan to engage a Russian plane as soon as it could be plausibly claimed that there had been a violation of airspace.

Why would the Turks do that? Because Russia is supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, apparently with considerable success, and Turkey has been extremely persistent in their demands that he be removed.

Someone might object that the Turkish government would have to be extremely foolish to take such a risk, but then Turkey’s policy in the Syria for the last four years has been nothing if not foolish. Turkey has proven to be a mostly useless ally in the fight against ISIS, but it is now proving to be nothing but a liability on all matters relating to Syria.

The Russians are also thinking that Turkey may have planned to do this:

Turkey may have planned to shoot down a Russian warplane near its border amid questions over its support for Syrian rebels, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“We have serious doubts that this was an unpremeditated act,” Lavrov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday. “It looks very much like a planned provocation” and the question arises whether Turkey is defending areas of Syria to protect rebel infrastructure, he said.

The surviving Russian pilot claims that he received no warning before being attacked. While we should be skeptical of that claim, it contradicts a large part of the Turkish government’s story and suggests that the decision to shoot down the plane was unnecessary. Fortunately, it appears that neither government is ready to use this incident as a pretext for a larger conflict, but it shows how dangerous it can be for outside states to meddle in Syria’s civil war. This incident should be a sobering warning for everyone in the West that wants to impose a “no-fly zone” in Syria, and it should make us realize how unwise it is for outside patrons to be risking a major war for the sake of their proxies in Syria.

The downing of the Russian jet is the sort of thing that some of the more aggressive Syria hawks here in the U.S. have beendemanding the U.S. do on behalf of its anti-regime proxies in Syria. The difference is that our hawks want to shoot down Russian jets inside Syria where there is not even a pretext to hide behind. We’re now seeing just how reckless that is in practice. The result has not been to dissuade Russia from attacking anti-regime groups or to stay away from certain parts of Syria, but rather has prompted it to become even more stubbornly committed to its bad decision to intervene:

Russia sent an advanced missile system to Syria on Wednesday to protect its jets operating there and pledged its air force would keep flying missions near Turkish air space, sounding a defiant note after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet.

Luckily, this incident won’t lead to a wider war, but that is not something that the U.S. or any of its allies should be willing to risk again. This ought to discredit even further the reckless Syria proposals coming from our presidential candidates, and it should make clear why agitating for a more aggressive policy in Syria aimed at attacking the Syrian government is so irresponsible.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

leave a comment

Latest Articles