This is the terrible scenario most of us fear. An unnecessary escalation of force by nominal NATO member Turkey that could easily spiral out of control to the detriment of every other country in NATO. It has a whiff of Archduke Ferdinand’s assassination.
The shootdown is a consequence of the U.S.’s lunatic support for anti-Assad rebels while fighting an alleged war on ISIS. It seems as much as we bomb ISIS, we’re also supplying them. Wimpy concern for collateral damage has something to do with it too, but I think our desire to keep ISIS at a dull roar and focused on the Syrian regime is the real reason. This appears at least an equally plausible explanation for our actions, peculiar downgrading of ISIS rhetorically, and anodyne rhetoric following the Paris attacks. We’ve certainly seen our leaders act in this cynical, realpolitik fashion before.
Russia’s strategy is sensible and simple: fight Assad and support the Syrian government. Turkey, however, is in NATO, very much anti-Kurd, and also anti-Assad, along with the Sunni coalition led by the Saudis. So they have been providing tacit support to ISIS all along, and they oppose Russia’s involvement.
The Western powers are about to be aligned in the same fashion as the Crimean War, with the same unnatural alliance of Britain (now America) as the Atlantic power, France, and Turkey, against Russia. Like that war, the dubious justice of the western powers could lead to a protracted, unnecessary, and bloody war. And, like that war, the Russians will justifiably retreat further into their anti-western prejudices in its wake, assuming it does not metastasize into a world war or nuclear exchange.
Russia, to its credit, has had measured rhetoric in response to this event. They understand presumably the high stakes. But surely it would make more sense for the West to dump Turkey–led by the fanatic Erdogan–than to continue to be lassoed to that provocative, unstable, and backwards country with a different religion, culture, and geopolitical orientation than western and central Europe. And, indeed, it would be nice if we could put our reflexive anti-Russian instincts to rest in order to combine with them against Islamic extremism, for which they and we both have suffered too much.
In this sense, our war on ISIS is something of a phony war, window dressing for our real policy, as I explained elsewhere. And this is a terrible state of affairs, and, when coupled with their immigration policy, a sign of the complete divorce between our leaders’ goals and the interests of our people.