VLADIMIR PUTIN SEIZES CONTROL OF U.S FOREIGN POLICY
Americans elected Obama. Will they also accept Putin's stupid Op-Ed in the NY Times? (Originally posted on 9/13/2013, updated on 11/27/2014).
Figure 1 above: Vladimir Putin stands between parallel finds of B. Obama and Assad. Putin managed to stand between Obama and Congress when Obama was striving for (unnecessary) permission to hit Syria. In doing so, a Russian enemy has managed to hijack U.S. foreign policy.
ANALYSIS OF PUTIN'S NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED. Comments by Barry S. Roffman will be shown in blue bold fonts.
A Plea for Caution From Russia
What Putin Has to Say to Americans About Syria
By VLADIMIR V. PUTIN
MOSCOW — RECENT events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies. This is not true. There is plenty of travel going on between both countries. The problem has nothing to do with our societies. Rather it relates to opposing goals held by our two governments.
Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization — the United Nations — was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again. Putin glosses over help that the Russian Government has given to Syria over the years which allows Syria to be a world leader in chemical warfare agents. Further, Russia has long been helping Iran to acquire nuclear weapons - something that's very likely to make World War 2 looks like child's play.
The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades. What seemed like wisdom then turned out to be the means to keep the U.N. from acting to prevent actions like the gassing that occurred in Syria.
No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. Wake up, Putin. It already has achieved that impotent status. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.
The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance. Since there would be no nuclear reactors in Iran if Russia did not build them, the Iranian nuclear problem is a problem directly caused by Russia - which could itself one day find that an Iranian built bomb might fall on Russia.
Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country. There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government. The United States State Department has designated Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, fighting with the opposition, as terrorist organizations. This internal conflict, fueled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition, is one of the bloodiest in the world. This is true.
Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even Russia, are an issue of our deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria? After all, after fighting in Libya, extremists moved on to Mali. This threatens us all.
From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law. This is not true. Russia is protecting its port facilities in Tartus, Syria. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. In Nazi Germany the law was designed to slaughter millions of Jews and others. A law that is not just should be changed rather than followed as a mindless robot would follow its program. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.What is really unacceptable is the United Nations in its current form. Since it servies largely as a podium for tyrants and terrorists, it should be closed or moved out of the U.S.
No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. This needs to be proven since all chemical weapons at least started out in Syrian Government hands. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored. Unlike Syria, the Government of Israel supplies its citizens with gas masks, requires air tight bomb shelters in all homes, and employs an effective anti-missile system to protect its citizens from weapons designed in Russia.
It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.” Neither the U.S. nor Russia is a model for democracy. Rather, each is a model for powers controlled by financial interests (like the CFR here). If Syria had oil, we would have been in there sooner.
But force has proved ineffective and pointless. Afghanistan is reeling, and no one can say what will happen after international forces withdraw. What will happen is that the Taliban will rule and all progress will be wiped out. The Afghan Muslims hate all infidels which is why they fought the Soviet Union and it's why they fight us now. We would do better to cut off relations with such nations. We aren't going to change them. Libya is divided into tribes and clans. In Iraq the civil war continues, with dozens killed each day. In the United States, many draw an analogy between Iraq and Syria, and ask why their government would want to repeat recent mistakes. So long as U.S. troops are based in Saudi Arabia there will be Muslims who try to kill us. But we are in Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations now to provide protection from Iran. If Russia stops supporting Iran, we can leave all these Muslims behind in the Stone Age.
No matter how targeted the strikes or how sophisticated the weapons, civilian casualties are inevitable, including the elderly and children, whom the strikes are meant to protect. True, but an errant conventional bomb is not likely to kill 1,400 citzens the way poison gas bombs have.
The world reacts by asking: if you cannot count on international law, then you must find other ways to ensure your security. Thus a growing number of countries seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction. This is logical. If you have the bomb, no one will touch you. If you believe this Putin, why did you earlier express concern for Israel? They have about 200 nukes. They can take care of themselves. We are left with talk of the need to strengthen nonproliferation, when in reality this is being eroded.
We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement. The issue is not just one of language. Russia arms the Syrian Government with jets and helicopters that it has used to bomb its own people. A civilized government should not act that way. Why does Russia? Oh, yes, your navy gets a port in Syria for it all.
A new opportunity to avoid military action has emerged in the past few days. The United States, Russia and all members of the international community must take advantage of the Syrian government’s willingness to place its chemical arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction. Judging by the statements of President Obama, the United States sees this as an alternative to military action. Actually, Obama looks at your offer as a way out the corner that he painted himself into with his Red Line remarks last year, and with his foolish decision to punt to a Congress that opposes military action.
I welcome the president’s interest in continuing the dialogue with Russia on Syria. We must work together to keep this hope alive, as we agreed to at the Group of 8 meeting in Lough Erne in Northern Ireland in June, and steer the discussion back toward negotiations.
If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs (but the 100,000 dead Syrians that your weapons helped kill will still make the air stink there) and strengthen mutual trust. Update of November 27, 2014: Make that 200,000 dead Syrians. It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues. Actually, Putin has the door open to other surrenders by Obama.
My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust (now that the election is behind Obama, he has more of that promised flexibility). I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” Here I agree. So long as America, under Obama's direction, pushes for homosexual marriage and the loss of all Biblical values, there is nothing exceptional about our nation any more. We are Sodom and Gomorrah under Obama. Bravo for passing laws against homosexuality in Russia! It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal. No. He didn't. He created some people who are gifted and others that are severely mentally deficient. He created some with moral values as He defined them in the Bible, and others who accept no limits. Assad is a man like that. So was Hitler. Such people are not equal, they are inferior and dangerous. That's why we try to guarantee freedom for people who follow laws of ethics and morality, and why we incarcerate or execute criminals.
Vladimir V. Putin is the president of Russia (while Putin signed his letter this way, he probably gave at least passing thought to signing it as the new acting President of the United States).