According to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russia is supplying attack helicopters to the Syrian regime in its war with Syrian rebels. Clinton made the charges Tuesday along with a warning that Russia’s new military aid could escalate the war “quite dramatically.”
Clinton minced no words about Russia’s mendacity:
We have confronted the Russians about stopping their continued arms shipments to Syria. They have, from time to time, said that we shouldn’t worry — everything they are shipping is unrelated to [the Syrian government’s] actions internally. That’s patently untrue. And we are concerned about the latest information we have that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria, which will escalate the conflict quite dramatically.
Russia, of course, denied the charges. The spokesman for the Pentagon, Capt. John Kirby, said he couldn’t confirm that the helicopters were Russian but his information confirmed that the Syrian government was indeed using helicopter gunships.
The Obama administration has been trying to engage Russian help on other fronts as well as Syria; the Russians have been approached about cajoling Iran to stop its nuclear program. On Monday, the next round of talks on Iran’s nuclear program start in Moscow, and concurrently Obama is supposed to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Mexico at a gathering of the Group of 20 industrial nations.
Clinton gave the usual mumbo-jumbo when a weak government speaks loudly but carries a little stick: “We are watching this very carefully,” she said. As the November elections approach, it is certain that the tough talking on foreign policy from Obama’s minions will escalate; his reputation has heretofore been one of across-the-board weakness which he has tried to mitigate by taking credit for greenlighting the Bin Laden kill. The strategy seems to be to talk tough, even if there’s nothing to be done. The chances of Russia talking tough to Iran are slim and none; the two countries have an oil deal that far supersedes any concerns about the Iranian threat to the West. The chances of Russia scaling back its aid to the Syrian government are just as weak.
This is the salient characteristic of the Obama administration on fronts both foreign and domestic: blowing smoke.