New Book on Putin: Russia's War Against ISIS Isn't What It Seems
Schoen argues that the United States must counter Putin's master plan with "our own American or Western strategy." His book presents six key aspects of such a master plan.
1. Arm the Ukrainians.
America must arm the Ukrainians in their fight against Russia. Schoen chides President Barack Obama for only sending non-lethal aid to the eastern European country, arguing that Russian troops are on the ground in the Ukraine and that it needs the ability to force them out.
2. Arm the Kurds in Syria.
The United States must also arm the Kurds in Syria. "They've certainly been the most effective fighters" against both Assad and ISIS, Schoen says.
The author notes America's reluctance to help the Kurds — Turkey is a key American ally, and the Kurds have carried on a kind of rebellion inside that country. Nevertheless, "given that we've had problems with the Turks, and that the Turks seem more interested frankly in clamping down the Kurds than they do in taking out ISIS," the author argues that America should favor the Kurds over the Turks, at least when it comes to Syria.
3. Strengthen connections with NATO and Europe.
In his book, Schoen references Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, the touchstone of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This article binds all NATO allies to take up arms in defense if any one of the countries is attacked by a foreign power. Schoen notes that each of the Baltic states -- Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia -- are members of NATO, and that Putin has been angling for influence in those countries.
The United States will have to prove that NATO is not a dead letter in order to deter Putin from deciding to invade any of the Baltic states. If Russia were to invade one of these nations, and NATO acted according to its obligations, that might trigger a world war. The U.S. can prevent this by demonstrating its commitment to NATO, which should prevent Russia from going too far.
4. Update our military force and nuclear arsenal.
While America and other Western nations have been decreasing their troop size, Russia increased its soldiers by 25 percent from 2011 to 2014. The Russians also are developing a new generation of tanks and jets as well. Since taking the helm in Russian leadership in 2000, Putin has boosted defense spending twenty-fold, in ruble terms. Russian defense spending has reached 4.5 percent of GDP, higher than America's decreasing share, which 3.5 percent of GDP and falling. Only the U.S. and China spend more, in concrete dollars, on defense.
Schoen writes that Russia has the world's largest nuclear arsenal, and the United States should stop reducing its own arsenal. Instead, America should develop "the next generation of nuclear warheads and missiles" in order to keep "our arsenal a step ahead of Russian missile defense and detection capabilities." Since Putin is building his arsenal, Schoen argues, America should demonstrate its commitment to keep up.
Next Page: Why Schoen does not trust Clinton or Trump to counter Russia.