George B. Reed Jr.

George B. Reed Jr.

We are attaching far more importance to Vladimir Putin and Russia’s supposed military potential than the facts warrant. Example: Putin recently threatened to shoot down any U.S./NATO missiles launched against Syria’s chemical warfare installations and research facilities. But we recently launched a second a massive attack without a whimper from the Russians, although they have a sizable military presence in Syria.

In view of the current facts we surpass Russia’s military strength by a 9-1 ratio and their economic strength by 8-1. And this doesn’t even take into account the military potential of our NATO allies. As his actions (or lack thereof) and other facts attest, Putin is little more than a paper tiger. About the only major card Putin holds is Russia’s control of much of Europe’s natural gas supply. But this is a two-edged sword. Natural gas is Russia’s largest source of foreign exchange income.

We are making too big a deal of the Syria-ISSIS-Russia situation while also overreacting to Iran’s empty saber rattling. A military move by Iran would quickly result in Israel’s incinerating them in a matter of hours. Though unofficial, Israel has 100-400 nuclear warheads plus the potential to deliver them. And none of this is a secret to anyone in the Middle East. Putin, Syria’s Assad, Iran (and Trump) are all playing games with us, not to mention Saudi Arabia.

Comparative economic strength? Although Russia has the world’s largest land area and outnumbers France’s population more than 3-1, France’s annual national income more than triples Russia’s. This is but further evidence that Putin’s boasts and threats are mostly hot air.

George W, Bush barged into Iraq in 2003, supposedly to rid the area of WMD and the threat of a Saddam Hussein takeover of the Middle East. Both threats were empty. Bush only upset the delicate Middle East balance of power, which brought on the Syria-ISSIS war and the present refugee crisis. Today Saddam is gone and Iraq is WMD-free (but never really had any). Yet we are still there. We seem neither able to win a convincing victory in the Middle East nor to extract ourselves from this unending, unwinnable conflict and bring our people home. And our president doesn’t have a clue. All he seems capable of doing is to react to events.

Most Middle Eastern Muslim resentment against the West is the result of European harsh, self-serving colonial policies. They exploited the petroleum resources, formed dysfunctional nations and arbitrarily drew national boundaries that had little relevance to ethnic and religious realities. The resulting resentment is at the bottom of the ongoing wars and refugee crises. We should probably resign ourselves to letting them fight it out until they get tired of killing each other. They are going to do it anyway as soon as we leave. At least they are occupied today with killing each other and not the Israeli Jews.

The Middle East (Afghanistan) was the Soviet’s Viet Nam, leading to their downfall. We can’t let it become our Viet Nam II.

George B. Reed Jr., who lives in Rossville, can be reached by email at