Russia and China are threats; ISIS is an annoyance. It is one of some hundreds of such groups, including al Shabab, Abu Sayaf, Boko Haram, the Taliban and many others around the world. It is receiving enormous publicity because it knows how to milk the media and because it suits Western governments to use it to distract voters. while pleasing their war industries.
If one were seriously intending to terminate ISIS, the first target would be the destruction of the oil facilities presently financing the group. But we have read that, outside of some jerry-built, small time refining operations, that has been ruled out by agreement. The identities of those who have agreed, have not been included in the stories. But Syria’s Assad will need those facilities desperately and his supportive master, Iran knows that. And for the U.S, extending the struggle with ISIS as long as possible will please the “military-industrial complex” that helps fund politicians. A very convenient sideshow …
Russia is another and heavily underplayed story. Mr. Putin evidently sees a need to restore the Russian Empire lost by the Communists. The Russian economy’s problems, oil and gas dependent with new oil and gas resources coming online from competitors, is an albatross hanging from his neck. This is worsened by the NATO sanctions responding to his Ukrainian adventure and increasing desperation may explain why he has threatened nuclear war against any interference with his land grabs from Ukraine and elsewhere. This seems to us, a lot scarier than ISIS.
Russia is now sending strategic bombers along U.S. and Canadian borders, a return to cold war tactics. It is bluntly threatening European heating gas for this coming winter. A new law has been proposed in the Russian Parliament, that provides for the seizure of foreign property. And enough Russian troops have died in Ukraine that Moscow demonstrations are occurring in support of grieving parents. Putin appears to be pleasing more Russians by regathering the old empire than he is upsetting with the costs of the process but if as seems likely, the world economy reduces the Russian living standard significantly as it drifts into insolvency, Putin may see war as his only out.
China is in no better shape; its finances are smoke and mirrors and it depends upon world consumers of its export products. As the world’s ability to continue buying deteriorates, China will be left holding a very large bag of promises to its people, promises that can no longer be fulfilled. And Japan and Europe are in similar condition; fingers are now crossed in the E.U. that the bounding German right wing, anti-E.U. party will slow its present rise. The Germans are of all people, unhappy at having to support profligate Latin and Greek governments and even more unhappy with the European Central Bank’s plan to imitate the U.S. Fed’s money printing.
The entire world house of cards is facing increasing breezes. We have had the Great Depression, WWI and WWII to learn from, yet we are repeating their circumstances, albeit with a twist of lemon to alter the flavor. To wit: the world’s central bans are now engaged in a beggar-thy-neighbor currency war, trying to hype exports. Adam Smith interred Mercantilism, until J.M. Keynes disinterred it to please the politicians, whose hands had been itching to retake the reins of the economy. Since Keynes put those reins back into political hands, the Progressive State has only grown while the economy has calcified under government dominance. The execrable Smoot-Hawley tariff of the Great Depression is now recast as a currency war. The costumes and actors differ; the play is the same.
Adding this up: Russia is pushing the weakening U.S. out of Europe; China is pushing the weakening U.S. out of Asia. Both are extending into previously pristine U.S./European areas of the Middle East, Africa and Latin America (President Monroe must be rolling fast enough in his grave to light a city.)
The joker in all these machinations of nations is: Everybody is going simultaneously broke. In the old days, when everybody in a poker game ended up broke, you needed to watch out for the ones who carried guns …