For four years the US has plotted the overthrow of the Syrian government.
In 2011 it declared President Assad “illegitimate” - though it has no right under international law to do so.
It has supported a violent insurrection to overthrow the Syrian government, even though doing so qualifies as aggression under international law.
It has turned a blind eye to the gross human rights abuses of the militants it has supported.
It has repeatedly demanded that President Assad resign as a pre-condition for negotiations, though international law gives it no right to make such a demand, and it is anyway illogical to set a possible outcome of a negotiation as a pre-condition for it taking place.
It has repeatedly sought — though because of Russian and Chinese opposition it has failed to get — Security Council authorisation for military action against the Syrian government.
When the rise of the Islamic State led to public demands for military action, it failed to seek permission from the Security Council or the Syrian government before launching air strikes, even though that is required by international law.
Those air strikes therefore proved ineffective, since they are not coordinated with the Syrian army, which is the force actually fighting the Islamic State.
The Islamic State has continued to grow stronger, gaining more territory.
Compare this with Russia’s actions over the last few weeks.
Unlike the US — which supposes ridiculously that it can achieve its objectives by fighting both sides simultaneously — the Russians have clearly identified the enemy: the Islamic State.
They recognise — as does world opinion (including US opinion) — that the Islamic State is a threat to Russia and world peace.
They have been careful to consult to the widest possible degree — including with countries like Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the US — which oppose the Syrian government.
They have been scrupulous in delaying action until receiving a request for help from the Syrian government — as required by international law — with whose forces their air force will cooperate.
They have been careful to involve the UN’s structures with a strong possibility (mentioned by Ambassador Churkin) that they will seek a Security Council mandate.
The result is the Russians — unlike the US — have an international consensus behind them. Latest reports suggest Chinese forces may be about to join them.
Where the US-led coalition against the Islamic State has been acting illegally and has been a total failure, the Russian-led coalition that is now forming is acting legally, with a real prospect of success, since it is working with the Syrian army and government.
Though the US is being forced to go along because of the legality of Russia’s actions and the logic of Russia’s position, it is quietly furious.
Nothing is more calculated to anger the US more than to see Russia succeed where it has failed.
The world’s self-appointed leader — the “exceptional country” that “sees further” - has now been given a lesson in how leadership is actually done.
If the US finds itself in this position, where because of its earlier folly it has lost the initiative to Russia, it has no one to blame but itself.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.