On Sunday, an American fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane after the Syrian pilot dropped bombs on ground forces supported by the United States in the ongoing battle against the international terrorist group ISIS.
Monday, Russian officials condemned the downing of the Syrian plane. Russia also suspended the use of military hotline Washington and Moscow had established to avoid mid-air collisions in Syrian airspace. And the Russian Defense Ministry issued a warning to the United States:
“Any aircraft, including planes and drones of the international coalition, detected in the operation areas west of the Euphrates River by the Russian air forces will be followed by Russian ground-based air defense and air defense aircraft as air targets.”
Many are now asking: Is this an escalation of American involvement in Syria, and will the Trump administration continue to raise the stakes in the conflict?
Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) is warning that Trump is indeed seeking to start a new war, one which has not been approved by Congress:
Four direct engagements w Syria/Iran/Russia in 45 days. Trump is quietly starting a new war that Congress has not declared. Red alert. ? https://t.co/D4MKPLXFTS
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) June 19, 2017
Consider, for a moment, what can best be called the Nightmare Scenario: President Trump, mired in low approval ratings and under investigation on multiple fronts, decides to divert attention from the growing Russia scandal by starting a more direct involvement of American troops in the Syrian civil war. This would put the U.S. in direct confrontation with Russia, allowing the White House to claim they aren’t beholden to Vladimir Putin.
Now imagine the following happens: Syrian forces, using Russian weapons, shoot down two or three American jets over government-controlled territory. They then hand over the American pilot(s) to the Russians, who use them as negotiating chips to make the United States back down. Or, even worse, what if those pilots are somehow captured by ISIS and burned alive, the way ISIS did with a Jordanian pilot in 2015?
The entire Middle East is a tinderbox just waiting to be set alight. The last thing we need is another war in the region.
Featured Image Via NBC News