ISIS Doesn't Stand A Chance, Unless America 'Engages' Russia
FORBES GUEST POST WRITTEN BY
Mr. Rud is past chairman of the Ukrainian American Bar Association's Board of Governors. He now chairs its Foreign Affairs Committee.
The proposal that America engage Russia to fight Islamic terrorism is beyond folly. Russia’s recent intrusion into America’s electoral process may flag caution. But that is woefully insufficient. The proposal is either willed ignorance or studied reality reversal.
First, the proposal dismisses Russia as the overarching existential threat to our existence, both as a free democratic society and physically. For all its savagery, ISIS is not an existential threat, whether to the U.S. or to Europe. ISIS beheads individuals. The Kremlin decapitates entire democratic processes. Russia has and is everything ISIS does not and is not. Russia remains, as was the Soviet Union, the largest country on earth, including an entire third of Asia. It seamlessly projects its power across 11 times zones, from Europe to the Sea of Japan to miles within the U.S. border. Its combined nuclear/conventional/chemical/biological arsenal transcends anything we can muster.
The USSR was established as the quintessential terrorist state, and was never merely a “state sponsor” of terrorism. Its terror was organized, methodical and above all hyperbolic, eclipsing anything that ISIS can engineer. The very reason for it all was to establish the structure that would destroy the West, more specifically the greatest Satan of them all (as is for ISIS), the United States.
Terror was bequeathed to Stalin’s protégé as a sensual imperative that also imbues ISIS.
Instead of contrition or apology, Putin embraces that legacy. He is the Darwinian product of 450 years since the founding of the first secret police, the Oprechnina. “Superior negotiating skills” will not reverse that DNA spiral. Russia thus has a huge asset that ISIS does not. Our visceral reaction against ISIS is absolute. But Putin’s worship of Stalin and adoption of his tactics triggers no comparable reaction in the West. To better understand the point, consider a former Gestapo officer presiding over a Germany that never admits or repents, but instead glorifies Hitler and its Nazi past, and invades Denmark and Holland as “threats” to its security.
Second, the proposal requires that we engage Russia to assist (how, exactly?) countering a secondary danger whose (i) very creation Russia enabled, aided and abetted, that (ii) it continues to promote, and that (iii) it continues to be the beneficiary of. ISIS’s genome was engineered by Moscow as “Arab Nationalism” in the 1970s and 1980s, training and directing the terrorist assault on the West. The 1972 Munich Olympics. The bomb attack in Brussels on General Alexander Haig, commander of NATO. The bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. The attack on the USS Cole.
Moscow’s Patrice Lumumba “Friendship” University seconded foreigners to embed Moscow’s agenda in their own countries. Yassar Arafat was one, the KGB’s makeover receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Iran’s Ayatollah Khomenei was another. There were thousands. Home-grown, non-Arab terrorists were even better: Venezuelan Carlos the Jackal, Germans Ulrike Meinhoff, French terrorist Regis Debray and former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi. All were either direct KGB agents or KGB financed.
Moscow never renounced its imperatives in birthing and sustaining Islamic terrorism, Putin declaring at the 2003 conference of the Islamic Conference Organization that Russia was Islam’s historical defender. Alexander Litvinenko was the ex-KGB officer who defected and who in 2005 was assassinated by Moscow in London using Polonium 210—nuclear warfare in Magna Carta’s front yard. He had revealed that Ayman al-Zawahiri, the head of al-Qaeda, had been trained by the KGB in Dagestan, a region currently controlled by Russia and that was tied to the two Boston Marathon bombers. We know that Al-Zawahiri planned 9/11 with Osama Bin Laden. More recently, the KGB has supplied recruits for ISIS from its North Caucasus and Central Asia regions.
“Radical Islamic terror” serves Russia’s purpose perfectly. Why should Putin refuse its benefit? The smoke had not cleared from the Boston Common before Putin called President Obama to intone his sympathy. Particularly for Americans (and, importantly, as much viscerally as cerebrally), the bombing by two Chechen brothers rebranded Putin’s genocidal war against Chechnya as a campaign against “Islamic terrorism” (Chechens are conveniently Muslim). This, in turn, neutralized Litvinenko’s revelation that the Russian apartment bombings (which were Putin’s pretext for that genocide) had been the work of Putin himself. We were thereby relieved of any moral tug that we may have had over Moscow’s assassination of Litvinenko. At the end, we were presented with seeming proof of Russia’s common cause with America in fighting “Islamic terror.” With preceding circumstances, motive, opportunity and benefit established, history will show the Kremlin’s advance knowledge of the two Tsarnaev brothers’ intentions, and that it could have prevented the Boston horror. It willfully did not. If a dirty bomb explodes in Friendship, Maine, or thousands in Topeka simultaneously die from “natural causes,” the last cry heard may be “Allah Akbar.” We should then well ponder if that’s as far as it goes.
Third, the proposal eviscerates America’s values and principles—its greatest weaponry in the world—by endorsing their denial. Russia’s “common interest” is not with Washington. It’s with ISIS. How many attacks by ISIS have there been in Russia? Precisely. Russian fundamentalism is at one with radical Islamic fundamentalism: the subversion and destruction of Western values and its societal structure. Both market a vitriolic anti-Western ideology, a faux morality playing the “Western society is immoral” card. Both Russia and ISIS are propelled to kill. For both, it’s more than a duty. It’s an entitlement. Heads of teenagers sent in a wooden box to their mothers, death for a cartoon, the hacking off of limbs, the terrorization of civilians, the use of women and children as human shields, locating active firepower in nursery schools and hospitals, castration of prisoners. No, not ISIS, but more than 10,000 innocents killed by Russia in Ukraine and more than 2 million Ukrainian refugees. And Russian incendiary bombs vaporizing toddlers in Aleppo? If America confronts ISIS by embracing ideologues sharing the same murderous purpose and record, our worldwide credibility will suffer even more, and justifiably so.
Fourth, the proposal means that “We, the People..." will be played as enablers of Russia’s own war of terror against Ukraine and other frontline nations that are defending freedom and “Western values” from the attacks by Russia. Putin is marketing Ukraine’s defense against his invasion of that country as “terrorism.” Little wonder. Russia’s predatory imperative and the sustainability of its threat to American security depend on its destruction of Ukraine as a viable example to Russians of a free, democratic society on their shared border. We have forgotten that Ukraine’s reestablishment of its independence from Moscow in 1991 ensured the fall of the USSR and the putative end of the Cold War. It allowed us to breath a sigh of relief. Today, the proposal to engage Russia makes America the supplicant, asking Russia’s assistance in fighting Islamic terrorism that Russia itself spawned and that aids Russia’s own campaign against the West. As an inducement, we will be required to turn a blind eye to Russia’s predation against Ukraine and other nations. That, in turn, reinforces Russia’s existential threat to us. Ironically, it’s the very denial of that threat that is the precondition for the proposal that we engage with Russia in the first place. Putin is a fan of judo. It would be a great throw... that we’ve designed for use against ourselves.Read Article on Forbes