In 2016 the Western political system had a stroke. Since then it has been incoherent and unable to focus. One example of incoherence is it's attitude towards Russia. One the one hand tensions are reportedly rising between the US and the Kremlin following the shootdown of a Syrian ground attack aircraft allied to the Kremlin by a US F-18. "The Kremlin is viewing the shoot-down, at least publicly, as an act of blatant aggression by the US and its coalition partners and is demanding a full investigation into to incident, including why the deconfliction phone was not used first before the order was given to blow the Su-22 out of the sky."
There is talk that Russia will begin patrolling east with its best fighter aircraft in the region, and that the way the coalition does business has also had to adapt significantly in recent hours. This has included repositioning aircraft and bolstering defensive air capabilities over the country. Lieutenant Colonel Damien Pickart said the following while speaking for Central Command (CENTCOM):
"As a result of recent encounters involving pro-Syrian Regime and Russian forces, we have taken prudent measures to re-position aircraft over Syria so as to continue targeting ISIS forces while ensuring the safety of our aircrew given known threats in the battlespace."
One site asked: "Are Russia and the US About to Go to War Over Syria?"
But on the other hand many Democrats believe the administration is colluding with Russia. "Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said on Sunday he believes the investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russian election meddling is just beginning." In the words of progressive comedian Steven Colbert, the only thing president Trump is good for is "being Vladimir Putin’s c*** holster."
But the obvious question is how can the slave be in conflict with the master? How can the holster rebel against the holstered? It can't. The narrative is in an inconsistent state. Yet no one seems to be able to step back and ask the obvious. From one point of view it is easy to arrive at the truth: what does the objective evidence show about the state of relations between Russia and the United States? The truest indication of the situation should come from what state actors do rather than what they say.
Events suggest there is a true conflict or rivalry under way between Russia and the United States. They are not belligerents at war with each other. But neither is America the slave of the Kremlin. In Syria there is a bona fide race between the two to pick up territory abandoned by the collapse of ISIS. "The race to the Iraqi border begins," writes Omar Lamrani of Stratfor. "As the Islamic State is slowly being driven out of Syria, its enemies are scrabbling to pick up the territory it leaves behind. Syrian rebels, supported by the U.S.-led coalition, are facing off against the government of President Bashar al Assad, backed by Iran and Russia, to wrest control of the extremist group's remaining positions from its weakened grasp. Yet despite having the same finish line in sight, each participant is driven by its own interests, and is willing to risk colliding with its rivals to secure them." There is a genuine face-off in Eastern Europe, highlighted by recent NATO manuevers in the Sulwaki Gap.