It’s still true that the US remains the most powerful military force in the region. But the impression that Washington is very reluctant to use its power to try to shape Middle Eastern realities, except under the most extreme circumstances, has become almost universal. Russia’s intervention in Syria was a dramatic demonstration of how this is playing out. It may have appeared sudden, but Vladimir Putin has spent the past few years taking the measure of American determination, and testing the waters globally in Ukraine and elsewhere. Russia’s actual military and economic power is dwarfed by that of the US. But Russia has the will to act and to try to shape outcomes to suit its purposes while, at least in Syria, the US does not.
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Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a Managing Editor for OpEd News, and a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites.