Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

2 new worrisome precedents in the Syrian war: Iranian missiles, and U.S. vs. Russia?

A U.S. Navy F-18 shot down a Syrian Su-22. That’s the first air-to-air downing by a U.S. aircraft since 1999.

Su-22-flight
Su-22-flight

A U.S. Navy F-18 shot down a Syrian Su-22. That’s the first air-to-air downing by a U.S. aircraft since 1999. Russia didn’t like that. It says it will treat U.S. aircraft as targets. I am not sure what that exactly means, but it doesn’t sound good.

Also Iran fired missiles into Syria, apparently for the first time, and supposedly in retaliation for the recent terrorist attacks in Tehran.

Increasingly, the conflicts in the Middle East feel to me like they are melding into one big war, from Lebanon to Waziristan to Yemen. Two questions I don’t have good answers to, but about which I am curious:

A U.S. Navy F-18 shot down a Syrian Su-22. That’s the first air-to-air downing by a U.S. aircraft since 1999. Russia didn’t like that. It says it will treat U.S. aircraft as targets. I am not sure what that exactly means, but it doesn’t sound good.

Also Iran fired missiles into Syria, apparently for the first time, and supposedly in retaliation for the recent terrorist attacks in Tehran.

Increasingly, the conflicts in the Middle East feel to me like they are melding into one big war, from Lebanon to Waziristan to Yemen. Two questions I don’t have good answers to, but about which I am curious:

— Are we heading toward one big war in the Middle East?

— Was it inevitable, or did the U.S. invasion of Iraq begin the slide?
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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