Stretch, grab a late afternoon cup of caffeine and get caught up on the most important news of the day with our Coffee Break newsletter. These are the stories that will fill you in on the world that's spinning outside of your office window - at the moment that you get a chance to take a breath.
Sign up now to save time and stay informed!

New Book on Putin: Russia's War Against ISIS Isn't What It Seems

If you think Putin's Russia is at war with the Islamic State (ISIS), think again. That's the message of the new book Putin's Master Plan: To Destroy Europe, Divide NATO, and Restore Russian Power and Global Influence. In this book, Democratic strategist Doug Schoen argues that Putin is more than happy to promote terrorism if it serves his purposes, and his very public "war against ISIS" is a smokescreen for his real goals.

"It is very clear to me that Putin's principal and central focus [in Syria] is keeping Bashar Assad in power," Schoen tells PJ Media. "Stopping and defeating terror is a distinctly lower priority, no matter what Putin's rhetoric might suggest."

Indeed, the author even argues that Putin is effectively using terrorism to divide America and Europe. "The United States is facing Vladimir Putin, who is systematically trying to undermine the Western alliance and use things like refugees and terrorists to facilitate his interests."

In his book, Schoen argues that Russian airstrikes hit anti-Assad rebels more than members of the Islamic State. The author notes that the ceasefire in Syria broke down within days, and the main results of the Syrian Civil War — the refugee crisis and terror against the West — "play into and facilitate Russians' interest."

According to Schoen, the Putin-terror nexus goes beyond just the Islamic State, however. Russia has already taken advantage of America's nuclear deal with Iran, and Putin is selling the rogue regime missiles. Schoen also recalls Russia's declaration of a "year of friendship" with North Korea in 2015, with plans to cancel Pyongyang's debt and to invest in North Korea's infrastructure.

But terrorism and rogue regimes form only one aspect of the Russian president's master plan, according to the new book. Not only has the autocrat invaded Ukraine (2014) and Georgia (2008), but he has engaged in a new kind of warfare against the West. Putin's government has supported pro-Russian political parties across Europe, has a very effective spy and hacking network, and leverages Russia's massive energy reserves to control European politics.

Putin is even trying to build oil pipelines into China, strengthening his ties with President Xi Jinping. The likely failure of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will weaken America's position in East Asia, Schoen argues. He also notes that the Chinese have built their own islands in the South China Sea, despite world court rulings against them. Russia and China are "working together, economically, politically, and militarily."

 The Russian autocrat's goal? To remake the global order in his image.

Schoen lays out the key differences between the West and Russia. America and Europe prize "freedom, liberty, the sanctity of freedom of speech, the ability of the individual in society to make decisions for or against whatever interests they want." In contrast, "Russians represent an autocratic approach to life, government, and politics."

Next Page: 6 things America should do to fight back.