Russia Is Very Unlikely to Launch a War Against ISIS

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Charles Krauthammer on what’s going to happen if it turns out ISIS was responsible for bombing Metrojet Flight 9268:

“As for the Russians, the Russians have had a decades long struggle with the radical Islam in the Caucasus and Chechnya,” he said. “But they have a reputation of being utterly ruthless – you don’t want to mess with Boris.”

“If this turns out to be an attack on a Russian airline, they’re going to have — either their deterrent is going to be diminished, or they’re going to have to have a furious response,” Krauthammer argued. “Which would incidentally help us, because it would be against ISIS.”

Actually, I’m a little curious about something. Further investigation will probably tell us whether it was a bomb that brought down the plane, but what could possibly tell us that it was an ISIS bomb? Unless ISIS takes public responsibility—and so far they haven’t—it would take some pretty lucky breaks in the investigation to pin the blame specifically on them.

In any case, I think Krauthammer is wrong. Russia does indeed have a reputation for being ruthless against radical Islam on its own soil, and this goes way beyond just Vladimir Putin. But they have no reputation for caring even a tiny bit about radical Islam anywhere else. A “furious response” against ISIS would require a projection of power that they likely don’t have, and a less-than-furious response would make them look weak. So they’ll probably do nothing. Either way, though, I doubt it will change anyone’s beliefs about what they’re willing to do within their own borders.

ISIS can be destroyed. But roughly speaking, this can happen in only a few different ways: (a) a massive ground campaign, (b) essentially a long siege that eventually ravages them—though probably at the cost of lots of civilian life, (c) internal strife that ultimately consumes them, or (d) an impressive, and rather unlikely, improvement in the Iraqi military. It’s hard to see Russia playing much of a role in any of these.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest