When Russia moved into the Ukraine and seized Crimea in 2014, it got more than its share of (bad) media coverage in the United States, as it did when it intervened in Syria the next year. So just imagine what kind of coverage Vladimir Putin’s favorite nation would be getting if, almost 17 years after it had launched a “Global War on Terrorism,” Russian troops, special operations forces, airplanes, and drones were still in action in at least eight countries across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Niger, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen (and, if you felt in the mood, you could even throw in the Philippines in Asia for good measure).
Imagine the outraged front-page and top-of-the-news overviews we would be getting more than a decade and a half later when it came to that never-ending Russian global war and the rubble, the chaos, the dead and displaced it continued to create. There would be critical discussions aplenty of what it meant for one of the planet’s great powers to pursue such wars without end. In official Washington, the protests would be savage, the language harsh beyond imagining, the critiques unyielding and fierce. There would be blistering assessments of that nation as it continued to pursue such disintegrative wars across vast stretches of the planet without the slightest indication that their end was anywhere in sight.
What’s strange, as TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich, author of America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History, suggests today, is that in the press, the rest of the media, and official Washington, such overviews, such critiques, such assessments are almost completely absent, even though everything about the above description remains on target — except, of course, for the name of the country pursuing that global war so relentlessly and disastrously.