- DON'T Mess with the Bear -
Vladimir Putin decided that he, like most of the rest of us, had heard enough of the incoherent hot air coming from President Obama's mouth. In an op-ed published in the New York Times last night, Vladimir Putin in his own words lays out his case and vision for Syria and the international community to the American people.
The op-ed begins with Putin pointing out the farce in Obama's speech Tuesday, that the civilized world is in fact not with President Obama in his call for a military strike on Syria. Since as Putin quite accurately points out, this is not a war for democracy, but a civil war between two unworthy sides. A brutal dictator in Assad on the one hand and Islamic Extremists, many of which are already labelled by the United States as terrorist organizations, on the other. Moreover, as Putin also points out, such a strike will likely escalate things far beyond the borders of Syria, as Iran seeks to bring the Free Syrian Army to power. Escalation that can lead to new waves of terrorism across the region as Iran seeks to undermine United States and Russian forces and capabilities. Not to mention that for the past decade or so Jihadis have long been spotted training and running drills for terrorist attacks across the porous United States border with Mexico, most of whom are backed by Iran.
Yet, while it is most refreshing to hear that the leader of what is quickly becoming the world's second super-power once again, is a rationale adult who does not wish conflict with the United States and who has the historical depth and perspective that Obama so clearly lacks on this issue, there are also many things that us North Americans should be wary of. Since with Putin making a clear analogy between what could unfold in Syria if the United States acts and the many proxy wars that were fought around the globe during the Cold War. As a history student who spent many hours working on an Honourary Thesis that focused on the Reagan Doctrine, I am not sympathetic to the Russians or there tactic of hiding behind international bodies, such as the U.N., in order to pose as being credible. Since while Russia is in this case right, when stating that no country that could be classified as having any power wants to solve the Syrian situation through direct force, it is convenient that Putin left out the reasons for why a proxy war between Russia and the United States could break out.
The reason is quite simple. Russia needs trade with the European warm water ports of the Mediterranean, not to mention access for their navy to the Mediterranean in order to flex their muscle in both Europe and the oil rich lands of the Middle East. Yet, the only way Russian ships can sail into the Mediterranean is through the Bosphorous straight which is controlled by the Western allied nation of Turkey. This makes Syria's coast which is directly south of Turkey's very valuable to the Russians in order to maintain their influence in the region and thus their access to the Mediterranean. This is why Russia during the Cold War fought so hard to make and keep Syria an ally even in the face of strongly backed opposition from the much larger Western allied Turkey and the United States. Another reason that was conveniently left out, is that a new Russian controlled oil pipeline that would go from the Middle East through Syria and into Europe was recently approved by the Assad regime, and as Ronald Reagan said 'whoever controls the pipeline's to Europe controls Europe.' This means that Putin hiding behind the notion that by Russia opposing the United States it is to uphold the credibility of international law and the majority of humanity which oppose the proposed United States strike is quite frankly false.
Secondly, the notion that was raised by President Putin that the reason so many dictators in the third world are pursuing the development of weapons of mass destruction is because the United States has sought the use of military force over diplomacy every time is sickening. The reason countries like Iran have been proliferating and pursing nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction is not because they seek protection and peace for themselves, it is because they are led by insane people. People who believe that by finishing the job Hitler started they can bring about enough chaos and death that the the twelfth Imam, also known as the Mahdi, will return and the great global empire known as the Muslim caliphate will be born. So to suggest that dictators and governments have no personal responsibility for their actions is bad enough, to blame it all on the United States is even worse. Especially when your goal is apparently to foster cooperation with the United States over Syria.
Lastly, Putin's notion that the United Nations should and can solve every international crisis, and does so on behalf of the entire world, is just laughable. Since as history has shown us over and over again blue helmets are for target practice, it is only Western soldiers who are killed, and the U.N. is so inept and so slow that the only conflicts they ever solved were ones that had already finished. Not to mention that Putin is extremely hypocritical when he points his finger at the U.S. and says that international law and the international community should and must approve every conflict. Since as the Chechen people can tell you, the Russians don't think twice about international law or U.N. approval when it comes to their own interests.
In conclusion, while I have many reservations about the true intentions behind Putin's call for cooperation, Putin is still the adult in the room by a long shot. Since Syria has never been within the influence of the United States nor should we want another Middle Eastern country becoming our responsibility. Especially when Egypt is on fire, Iraq and Afghanistan are rapidly deteriorating, and Iran still actively threatens Israel with annihilation daily. President Obama therefore should approach the Russians with the proposal that we will support them diplomatically in cleaning up the mess in Syria, and no force will be used unless Israel is directly threatened or assaulted.
You can check out the full OP-Ed HERE.