Leon Wieseltier (Sep 4, 2015) claims in The Atlantic that "The rubble of Palmyra is a melancholy emblem of the rubble of American foreign policy". Meanwhile "Russian Moves in Syria Pose Concerns for U.S." (only?) [Michael R. Gordon, Eric Schmitt, New York Times September 4th 2015].
Russia has sent a military advance team to Syria and is taking other steps the United States fears may signal that President Vladimir V. Putin is planning to vastly expand his military support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, administration officials said Friday. The Russian moves [...] are another complicating factor in Secretary of State John Kerry’s repeated efforts[...] a diplomatic solution to the bloody conflict in Syria.But it's a good scapegoat to cover up his repeated failure. Blame the Russians, like the US so often has done in the past. Let us not forget who was among those funding the "protestors" and then "rebels" at the beginning of the war when it was just about toppling Assad. As with Saddam Hussain, once again, the US only belatedly realises it has got itself (and the rest of us) in a situation it cannot handle and has been spiralling out of control while they wring their hands and ineffectually urge "diplomatic solutions" to the escalation for which their government itself is to a substantial degree co-responsible. And yes, Washington deflects attention from the carnage and disruption by talking about how "our common heritage" is being destroyed by a "barbarian" Other, which they wish they could do more about before they overrun Syria totally (though one might suspect they in fact see the tactical value of allowing them to do that before they really get serious about "taking them out" leaving yet another vacuum they have no idea how - or real will - to fill). Supplying dissident groups in Middle East countries one does not understand with weapons and training however should not be "our common heritage". That is the legacy of US Neo-colonialism of which the international antiquities trade and the attitudes towards the citizens of other countries which it manifests are another symptom.
I was interested to learn:
An investigation by Ruslan Leviev, a specialist in social-media intelligence, the soldiers are from the 810th Marine Brigade, which is based in Sevastopol, Crimea. The 810th is one of the few units of the Black Sea Fleet known to have played an active role in Russia’s military takeover of the Ukrainian peninsula 18 months ago.