Syria is the new Spain
Update: This article was originally published saying that President Donald Trump had requested a $54 million increase in spending. It has since been corrected to say that Trump has requested a $54 billion dollar increase in spending.
Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu announced that Russia has tested over 100 weapons during its military involvement in Syria with less than 10 weapon systems not performing according to expectations.
Russia also deployed its only aircraft carrier from the Arctic all the way to Syria in an effort to flex for the rest of the world between October and January. This, along with the mostly forgotten conflict between Russia and Ukraine, is cause for alarm.
Rewind 81 years to the outbreak of the Spanish civil war in 1936, several countries backed sides with their own resources and men. Soviets supported the installed government, and Germany backed the aristocratic rebel general, Francisco Franco, not unlike how battling factions in Syria are supported by different countries.
The Spanish civil war was a pivotal time. Every new element of combat introduced in the Great War less than 20 years ago was being perfected. Airplanes were constructed out of metal, tanks were designed to move faster and be more maneuverable, machine guns were small enough to be mobile and fortified emplacements were capable of hindering entire units of infantry.
Germany, led by Adolf Hitler, rose from the post-war burdens of reparations placed by the Allies. Hitler was searching for a place to test new airplanes and military doctrine before implementing them in the rest of Europe. Spain was the place to do that, and the rest of the world stood by and watched as the events in Spain unfolded.
It seems that Syria is to Russia as Spain was to Nazi Germany: a military proving ground.
Russia has been in its current state since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. As the Soviet Bloc broke apart, Russia quickly lost assets. Now it seems the time is ripe for Russia to reassert its potential as a world superpower.
Russia deployed its aircraft carrier from the Arctic, down the coast of Europe, through the English Channel and the Mediterranean just to launch aircraft sorties against targets in Syria. Russia was already using Iranian airfields to fly bombing runs over Syria. The only explanation for sending the carrier so far is it was an effort to demonstrate Russian military capabilities.
Unsurprisingly, Russia and the U.S. back different factions in the Syrian civil war. Russia has even gone so far as to deploy regular military troops in the country. The U.S. has only deployed special forces sparingly to assist Kurdish YPG troops and call in airstrikes on behalf of other friendly, “moderate” fighters.
There have been calls recently to increase the U.S. presence in Syria with non-front-line combat positions through supplying artillery support and logistics. America has no real stake in the fight besides its global war on terror. Furthermore, no one wants a to fight a war that does not have a feasible end in sight against an unconventional foe that will continue to linger in liberated territory.
History seems close to repeating itself unless world leaders involved in the Syrian civil war can manage to sit down and use diplomacy instead of drones and munitions to further their agendas.
President Donald Trump has recently requested a $54 billion dollar increase in military spending. If approved by Congress, it will surely only rock the international boat as America already spends more money on its military than any other country.
Congress must strike down the funding request or risk Trump attempting diplomacy with China and Russia.
Opinion editor Thomas Dwyer is a broadcast journalism sophomore and can be reached at [email protected].