As sectarian violence makes headlines once again in the Middle East, the mainstream media still fails to outline its causes, which are ideological as well as religious, thereby distorting as well the increa-singly adversarial nature of the U.S./Russia relationship.

In terms of the Syrian conflict, the main reason behind the conservative Sunni Gulf monarchies’ determination to defeat an Alawite Shi’a president is that Assad’s Ba’ath Party regime is the only secular, progressive government in the Arab world. As such it is implacably opposed by Sunni regimes, not only in the name of fundamentalism, but also because of basic ideological differences.

When Iran is referred to as Syria’s main ally, it is strictly within the context of both being Shi’ite regimes. The public is allowed to forget that the mullahs came to power in Iran through revolution, in which socialist and communist forces played a role. (In a way, what is occurring in the Arab Spring is that progressives have been willing to give the Muslim Brotherhood a chance at leader-ship because of its long-standing history of social activism.)

Similarly, though it goes unnoticed due to lack of commentary by the media, the fact that Putin’s capitalism recognizes the social legacy of Com-munism, (and should therefore be described as a particular form of social democracy in which a strong president keeps oligarchs in line), probably accounts as much as oil or seaports for Russia’s support for both Iran and Syria. From regular watching of the Russian English language news channel, RT, it is obvious that although the Com-munist regime is over and done with, its suc-cessors have not thrown the baby out with the bath water. Vladimir Putin’s media outlet to the world promotes a form of capitalism that emphasis simple pleasures rather than mindless accumu-lation of ‘stuff’.

Together with the other BRICS countries, it not only condemns interference in the internal affairs of countries (a holdover from the Soviet Union), but wars of aggression across the board. As the U.S. considers five options outlined by its top military man General Dempsey, that have as much to do with Syria’s ideological orientation as with its lack of ‘democracy’, Russia continues to campaign for talks rather than an escalation of the conflict.

The same ideological inspiration can be seen in RT’s relentless coverage of America’s sorry state.