Obama’s approaching humiliation over Syria


"U.S. President Barack Obama, who arrived in Northern Ireland on Monday, and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to hold bilateral talks during the summit, where they will also discuss their opposing views on the situation in Syria. On the even of the summit, Putin accused British Prime Minister David Cameron of betraying humanitarian values by supporting Syrian rebels with "blood on their hands."
Russia and the West have long been at odds over Syria. As the violence continues to escalate in the region President Putin expressed anger at the U.S. commitment to supply small arms and ammunition to rebels as a result of the U.S. saying there was proof Bashar Assad's regime had used small amounts of chemical weapons.
Meanwhile, Russia has been providing arms and diplomatic support to the Assad regime, an action Russian President Vladimir Putin defended at a press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London on Sunday. Putin described Assad's government as "the legitimate government of Syria in full conformity with the norms of international law.""  USA Today


Barack Obama is about to have his "butt kicked" by the Russians over Syria.  This will be the latest in a long series of defeats for him in his second term, not to mention the unceremonious way the US was disinvited from a continuing presence in Iraq and the massive and thinly disguised failure of his COIN strategic decision in Afghanistan.  These were in his first term.

Putin made it clear yesterday to our British lapdog, David Cameron, that he considers Assad's government to be the legitimate government of Syria and that there will be no resolution emerging from the UN Security Council that threatens that status.  He also made it clear that the rebels (whoever they are) are responsible for many of the civilian casualies that have occurred in Syria.

Russia, Iran, Hizbullah and Syria are in the process of finishing off the "rebels." 

Some people are saying that an unpopular minorities based government cannot hold Syria.  Really? His father did so for decades.

Putin said at Enniskillen today that Russia "will not allow" no-fly zones in Syria.  that's a real red line folks.

Humiliation over Syria will be one more phase in BHO's progress toward irrelevance.  pl


This entry was posted in government, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

137 Responses to Obama’s approaching humiliation over Syria

  1. Tyler says:

    Obama plays basketball. Putin competes in judo. Says a bit about personality right there.
    I like how Putin rubbed their faces in the fact that the Syrian rebels/salfists are eating their opponents. Another inconvenient hatefact in the face of the West’s obsession with ‘democracy’.

  2. John Minnerath says:

    BHO’s lack of substance and total lack of the skills needed for the job become more telling everyday.

  3. Charles I says:

    Ever the optimist!

  4. Alba Etie says:

    I wonder what President Romney’s first term would have looked like by now ? I think its Australia that has not only the two parties for a check off box – but also a check off box for neither of the two . And if the third choice “neither” gets a majority vote then the two parties have to pick different candidates. Maybe we need a third party ticket a third choice at the ballot . George Wallace was wrong about many things but he was right when he said there is not a dimes worth of difference in the two parties . Hagel Powell on the Third Way Ticket 2016 ?

  5. turcopolier says:

    Charles I
    Unwarranted optimism is a disease. pl

  6. kao_hsien_chih says:

    “an unpopular minorities based government.” This is a remarkable characterization, if it is meant to imply that such a government is somehow illegitimate. This is a characterization of many a government practically everywhere in the world–one based on support of a coalition of minorities that make up a majority or something close to it, including Barak Obama’s (Whose political problems, even if not troubled by an openly violent opposition to the government, is rather remarkably similar to Assad’s–running a government as the champion of a coalition of minorities (nominally) based on urban cosmopolitanism against a rurally-centered, socially conservative, and religious majority.)

  7. Matthew says:

    Tyler: We really don’t have an obsession with democracy. We just pretend. If we really believed in spreading democracy, wouldn’t we start with Saudi Arabia?
    I suggest we try tribalism. The US should state categorically that we will not support any political movement in the ME that is hostile to their local Christian communities.

  8. Matthew says:

    Col: Some of us have a terminal case of it. (But like nicotine addition, we can’t kick the habit.)

  9. Matthew, Tyler:
    Something quite interesting has been happening here in the UK. If one looks at the comments on Cameron’s support for the Syrian opposition on the newspaper websites, there is an outpouring of anger and contempt. This runs right across the political spectrum. I have not yet had time to check the Daily Mail site, which is critical to seeing what a large swathe of British opinion thinks, but the Telegraph, Financial Times, Guardian and Independent sites all show the same pattern.
    The determination of Cameron to believe that there is a ‘liberal’ Syrian opposition who have a realistic chance of obtaining power if we give them arms provoked this comment in the generally left-leaning Independent:
    ‘“The Syrian opposition have committed to a democratic, pluralistic Syria that will respect minorities, including Christians.”
    ‘Well that’s ok then, what has all the fuss been about? The Alawite minority can rest easy knowing that the Sunni dominated opposition and it’s Al Qaeda allies will not slaughter them in droves if Assad falls.
    ‘And yes, while we know that almost all the Christians in Iraq have fled since the fall of Saddam, this bunch in Syria are cut from a different cloth, and how do we know this?
    ‘Because they’ve said so, and that should be enough.
    ‘How did we end up with leaders who are so patently naive and stupid?
    ‘Over to you Dave of Arabia, you really did lean a lot from Master Blair.’
    (See http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/g8-summit-begins-vladimir-putin-accuses-david-cameron-of-betraying-humanitarian-values-by-supporting-syrian-rebels-8661048.html )
    A few swallows certainly do not make a summer, but in the past few days I have had odd moments of thinking that there may a real backlash against blatherers and PR men like Blair and Cameron, which could cut across other political divisions.

  10. Mark Logan says:

    If you want a possible bright side, perhaps this:
    Only 11% of the public wants to go to war in Syria, say the polls. If he folds this bad hand reasonably quickly, there may be some compensation in the form of being loudly criticized for failing to get us into another war.

  11. Buzz Meeks says:

    Obama’s slide will still do considerable damage to this country in terms of domestic spying, lack of prosecution of financial and other elite crimes and destruction of the Constitution. I don’t even know how to describe our foreign policy any longer.

  12. Norbert Salamon says:

    It appears that the G8 has other members which oppose arming [beside Russia] the Syrian Rebels, as revealed in recent news items, at least Canada and Germany also oppose Obama’s effort to for escalation.

  13. cloned_poster says:

    I cannot for the life of me understand why the West are being so stupid. Yay for Putin.

  14. VietnamVet says:

    Your analysis is correct, but Barack Obama won’t fade into irrelevance. He will continue his handlers’ policies of “government by and for corporations” till the end of his term. Once he is on the speakers’ circuit it will be his turn to pull the money in.
    Jeff Skilling is pissed. The pioneer at Enron of investment gambling isn’t scheduled to be released from minimum security prison at Littleton, CO in 2017 but his Wall Street followers are making millions in taxpayer supported bonuses yearly and enjoying their freedom today in the Hamptons selling similar zero asset investments.
    The Bush-Obama everlasting wars are spilling into Syria. Real unemployment is at 17% forever. America has been transformed into a debtor’s economy with its associated prisons for those who can’t pay court costs. The average student loan debt is $26,600. These are all contrary to the public interest. We shall see what happens next.

  15. Matthew says:

    Thanks, DH.
    Sometimes it is simple: Do the people living there actaully trust the government to protect their lives? Iraqi Christians clearly didn’t think so after 2003. Syrian Christians likewise seem to trust the devil-they-know more than Cameron’s pipe dream. Since the Syrian Christians have their own skin on the line, I will defer to them.

  16. walrus says:

    “A few swallows certainly do not make a summer, but in the past few days I have had odd moments of thinking that there may a real backlash against blatherers and PR men like Blair and Cameron, which could cut across other political divisions.”
    Please let this be true.
    In Australia we will shortly go to an election in which both current leaders of the parties are worthless.

  17. steve says:

    I think your take on Obama’s support is a little too simplistic and perhaps based on some east coast/west coast thinking where flyover country is uniform.
    There are some exceptions to that description of Obama’s support. For example, large chunks of the upper Midwest are “rurally-centered, socially conservative, and religious majority”, yet supported Obama. And no, I’m not just talking about Minneapolis, Des Moines, or Madison, but small rural overwhelmingly white counties of 15,000 people.
    In the rural South as well–equally rural religious, and socially conservative black counties, particularly in the Delta or Alabama’s black belt supported Obama.
    Both of those two areas are about as far as you can get from the notion of “urban cosmopolitanism”.

  18. steve says:

    “I wonder what President Romney’s first term would have looked like by now ?”
    I suspect more similar than different.

  19. walrus says:

    Very close to the truth Alba. Casting a vote is compulsory (to prevent voter caging and similar tactics, etc.) but it is not illegal to cast an invalid vote if you want to, or just fill it out any way you want to.
    To put that another way, you can just “check the box” which will distribute your vote according to party preferences, but I much prefer to personally rank candidates according to my own prejudices in our proportional voting system.

  20. Tyler says:

    Tribalism is only for ‘oppressed’ peoples. If we started pushing it the average whites here in America might start getting fancy ideas that someone should look out for their rights instead of being expected to work for the benefit of the underclass/elites.
    Satire aside, I agree totally with what you say.

  21. Tyler says:

    Between this, the hacking up of the British soldier, the oppressive police reponse of arresting people for ‘racist’ remarks on Twitter, and the general antipathy for more immigration among the common folk, perhaps a populist party has a real chance in the UK and the US.
    The idea that we shouldn’t be in the Middle East and we owe the world nothing is spreading out from the alt-Right sphere and into the greater pool of ideas. Now if we could just get the ‘mainstream’ Right to drop its obsession with Israel uber alles we might be alright.
    Here in the US I think the Republicans will schism if the big business lobby insists on passing the amnesty that the Democrats are helpfully advising the Republicans that they need to stay competitive. It is an interesting time all around.

  22. Tyler says:

    I’m also wondering to what extent Putin is factoring in the destruction of the Christian communities across the MENA sphere as a reason to support Assad. I know that’s a nonfactor to the globalists running the WH, but Russia seems to have a different take on those issues.
    Also, click on my name and have a look. I’ve got thoughts on all of this as well.

  23. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Associated Press (AP)
    The G8 summit in Northern Ireland has led to a bit of window dressing — literally. The important thing is that the province should look good for the duration.
    Let’s face it: poverty stinks. It isn’t welcoming. It’s ugly. We don’t want that. We want progress and prosperity. The poor are embarrassing everyone, including themselves.
    Maybe they should have held the summit in, say, Surrey, or somewhere nice and clean and genteel like that? Then again, the locals might have objected to the noise and commotion: “All those helicopters circling above: simply awful, dear.”

  24. Fred says:

    “Do the people living there actaully trust the government to protect their lives?”
    When did Syria ask for admission to the Union and ratify the Constitution of the United States? The answer is they never have an that therefore there is decidedly no obligation of the people nor the government of the United States to protect any Syrian.
    The R2P crowd can go sign up with the FSA just as the volunteers against Franco did in the ’30s. Since zero of them have done so I would say that is exactly how many American lives it is worth to help the ‘rebels’: zero.

  25. JohnH says:

    “Barack Obama won’t fade into irrelevance.” Exactly, there is nothing that succeeds in Washington like failure. Discredited experts staff think tanks and lobby discredited Senators and Congressmen, who are covered by compromised journalists.
    And so, far from irrelevant we will all be submitted to the dismal joy of watching BO nightly on the “news,” trying to con us into believing one thing or another. BO will continue to hang around like a stale fart.

  26. Charles I says:

    Hmmm,Lebanon’s aboil, Jordan’s calling for direct intervention and Golan grandmothers are stocking up on canned chickpeas and tomatoes. Israel waits for the next salami slice of Eretzian fulfillment. Worse yet the new Iranian President elect is making soothing noises. This thing is steamrolling into a a grand opportunity to smash the Syrians, Hizbullah and the Ayatollahs+ Rev Guards a real good one before anyone comes to their senses.
    “You don’t witness as many wars as we do without getting a sense when one is about to land on your doorstep,” said Maryam al-Din, a 78-year-old resident of Majdal Shams. “Ask anyone in the village, anyone in the villages around, and they will tell you that if you put your ear to the ground, you will clearly hear that war is coming to this place.”
    We are one banana peel, one gas muniton, one slaughter of the innocents and one S300 from a general ground and air war in 3 or 4 countries just for starters. Shoot down one U. S. plane over there spying or delivering arms or whatever . . .
    Besides, Britain and France seem positively frothing at the mouth to do this, toss in Israel, a double dare ya from Vlad “Judo” Putin, and an inscrutable Chinese loanshark, that’s a lotta late night calls once the ball gets rolling, who could resist?

  27. Charles I says:

    Sir you are curing me of it, being cheeky, see my reply to Mark Logan above, I’m sure this mess is going to deteriorate into some ground war.

  28. Peter Brownlee says:

    Having been a scrutineer at a few Australian elections, there is a high rate of informal (invalid) votes but it is hard to know how many of these are deliberate; such doubt vanishes when you read the richly colourful comments (and drawings!) quite a lot of informal voters bellow from their ballot papers — and I suspect this will increase.
    We all now know the little man (or woman) behind the curtain is not the Wizard of Oz and that their own tabloid pandering has helped a lot.

  29. Peter Brownlee says:

    Perhaps President Clinton II will elevate BHO to SCOTUS as a slimmer incarnation of W. H. Taft?
    They could do worse — and have…
    But what would Roberts CJ do then — endless fun for all.

  30. Matthew says:

    Fred: I don’t think we disagree. I meant the Syrian Christians apparently trust their government a lot more than the R2P crowd does. In fact, the Christians are fighting against the Qatari/Saudi version are “liberation.” Hence, the opinions of the R2P crowd are just noise.

  31. Andy says:

    Assad may well win out in the end, but the cost may be so high that his government will not enjoy the kind of long-term stability his father was able to maintain.

  32. J says:

    Russian СПЕЦНАЗ learned some valuable lessons from their rodeos in the Caucuses, that if one watches closely will(is/are) be[ing] applied {as we speak) in the latest Syrian rodeo. The young ones (BHO and his youngster advisers) tend to underestimate Russian (Putin) resolve regarding certain bull-riding endeavors, and Syria is just one more bull-ride for СПЕЦНАЗ. Studying at the Kodokan (Putin and his Judo) has its bennies, as Putin has shown over and over in his dealings with BHO. BHO is having 一本 背負投 after 一本 背負投 put on him by Putin, and he’s too stunned to realize it.
    I’m sooo glad I’m retired. Here you can watch 一本 背負投 being applied in real terms.

  33. kao_hsien_chih says:

    It is certainly an oversimplification, but, let’s face it: nothing in the world is really that simple if we get into the details. Assad enjoys fairly broad support among Syrians, including not insignificant number of Sunnis. I don’t doubt there are some, at least in the initial stages, in the various “minority” communities in Syria who backed the opposition. The point remains that the core of the opposition to Assad (and to Obama) is rural, religious, and socially-conservative, who belong to the “ethnic” majorities (in their respective countries) while the core of their supports is urban, relatively more cosmopolitan, and/or are likely to belong to various “ethnic” (defined broadly) minorities. This (broad) similarity (even if rather oversimplified) between Assad and Obama just struck me as remarkable.

  34. Maryam says:

    It is indeed a pathetic world where a thug like Putin becomes the object of so much admiration !

  35. Fred says:

    Perhaps they would be good enough to hold the next one in Detroit.

  36. fanto says:

    DH – very similar reaction among the german readers – under the exclusive interview President Assad gave to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – people are totally upset with the disinformation in media – and the FAZ is praised as the one with integrity to print a balanced review of what is going on in Syria

  37. Tyler says:

    I wouldn’t say they supported Obama as much as Romney was a horrible candidate who was a liberal in everything but more tax cuts.
    Black grannies terrified of YT taking away their voting rights turned out for Obama, versus whites who just stayed home instead of voting for yet another awful RINO.

  38. The Twisted Genius says:

    Found a good article on “Russia’s concern for besieged Syrian Christians” in a Jesuit publication from Australia. It’s an old article, but the points raised are timeless.

  39. robt willmann says:

    Bribes and booze could control Russia in the days of Boris Yeltsin. But not any more. Vladimir Putin was in the old KGB for some 16 years, with 5 in Dresden, East Germany, before it fell. Even if he is pocketing some of the oil and gas money, there is no evidence that he is corruptible from the outside. Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, has that “old school” look. And Russia entered and dealt with the South Ossetia vs. Georgia war in 2008 in an organized fashion, knocking some things over in Georgia and then getting out.
    As president Obama escalates the involvement in Syria by unilaterally saying that weapons will now be sent to the “rebels” by the U.S., Daniel McAdams, previously a foreign policy advisor to former Congressman Ron Paul, is wondering who Benjamin Rhodes is, the man who popped up to address the public about this latest Obama move regarding Syria–
    McAdams’ post links to an article by Russ Baker that also raises the question; Baker is a writer who will ask about what might be going on behind the curtain in politics–
    I could not believe that Obama was painting himself into a corner early on when he insisted publicly more than once that Assad must go and that if Syria used chemical weapons such use would be a “red line” which, if crossed, could not be tolerated. In a complicated situation like the one involving Syria, a person in Obama’s position should just mush-mouth around and be non-commital until the end result starts coming into focus. He could have ordered all sorts of military escalation that he might get away with in the face of a supine Congress without ever demanding regime change.
    Paul R. Pillar theorizes about why Obama finds himself with limited options–
    On an unrelated but current topic, Edward Snowden has an Internet “chat” interview on 17 June in which he answers questions. In the very last sentence of his last answer, he lights a flare and throws it, saying, “This is the precise reason NSA provides Congress with a special immunity to its surveillance”. (!)

  40. Maryam says:

    Father Paolo cited above has been expulsed from Syria in the meantime by the Assad regime;
    He travels a lot and has been conducting testimonials about people’s experiences, h even has an active Facebook group with lots of followers both Christians and Muslims. He writes in both Arabic and Italian, is deeply loved and respected for his courage and integrity as he deserves to be. A true man of faith.

  41. johnf says:

    Read an article a while back – I’ve forgotten by who – arguing that Russia’s support of Syrian Christians is at the urging of the Orthodox Church.
    Like most neo-liberal societies Russia’s social services have largely dissolved. A lot of caring for the sick and the old and feeding and housing the poor, as in the old days, has devolved back down onto The Church. Even a lot of old Communists have returned to The Church because it alone is fighting some of their causes.
    Putin is clever enough to know that he relies a lot on The Church continuing in this role. Hence his continued public praising of The Church and this policy.

  42. confusedponderer says:

    That for the Orthodox Moscow is a Rome is a thing that probably goes unnoticed most of the time in western media. I am, their interest to uphold international law principles like sovereignty aside, not surprised that the Russians are talking that interest in the fate of Christians.
    It is the ultimate irony for America’s crusaders – R2P, neocon, neo-Wilsonian or armageddonite – that the “dastardly, godless Russians” care more about the Middle East’s Christian population than they do.
    To their pet projects – be it rolling back sovereignty – or strengthening Israel and rolling back Iran while spreading Democracy (read: majority rule) or Freedom (TM) – or hastening the Second Coming – the Middle East’s Christians are road kill that they leave behind on their respective rampages.
    The Middle East’s Christians have been sacrificed on the altars of abstractions.
    The say is that the coldest of all monsters are states – and I add to that: … and then there are the true believers who are probably worse still in the pursuit of their concepts.
    Iraq? Broken because of a fever dream that the US could just sweep away regimes it doesn’t like by force and leave blossoms and democracy in its wake. Libya? Same nonsense in new packaging. And what did Obama and his crew learn from that for Syria? Nothing at all: The US under Obama as under Bush still mindlessly pushes an agenda of regime change against the same states targeted by Bush. Any excuse for that is good enough a pretext. This isn’t even Bush or Obama but apparently a US foreign policy consensus.
    So, indeed, the mushroom cloud is called Sarin this time? So a moderate has been elected in Iran to replace the dreaded villain Ahmadinejad? No worries, no change to be expected in the US attitudes. Obama is all continuity, and there is consensus in the US that Iranian regime must be dealt with. Don’t hope for change there.
    Obama’s change was to give Bush’s sillies a slick face by ‘leading from behind’ while uttering pious rhetoric, lately about how the Syrians must be saved from Assad. In the meanwhile: Domestic surveillance? Expanded. Extra-judicial killing by drone? Expanded. Crackdown on whistle-blowers? Expanded. Gitmo? Still open. Regime change? Same old, same old, same old.

  43. Ali says:

    How so?

  44. confusedponderer says:

    At least he is not a drunken bum like Jelzin. It is easy to not like Putin, but that isn’t necessary anyway. Nobody liked Bush, let alone Cheney, but so what?
    Putin is an improvement over Jelzin, and for all his many flaws, Putin has curbed the flamboyantly rampant theft and corruption that has characterised the Jelzin years. Putin is cold, rational and sober, and while he is an authoritarian – so was Jelzin.
    In 1993 Jelzin, in violation of the Russian constitution, dissolved by executive decree the parliament because it dared refuse to impose his revised constitution and US inspired economic shock therapy, and eventually had the Russian parliament’s White House shot up. Not exactly a Democrat.
    We haven’t seen stuff like that under Putin, and I say that is a improvement. Russia is far from perfect, but it has been far worse. I prefer a stronger Russia over the mess that we had in the 1990s. Speak to Russians – many that I spoke to admire Putin because he had given Russia back pride lost under Jelzin, and stability, a very underrated quality.
    I have come to think that there are places where monarchies do fine, others were democracies are best, and others again where strongmen are best. Russia traditionally had a strong, centralised rule.
    I no longer believe in the inherent superiority of democracy. One only needs to look at Iraq to see that, quite easily, it degenerates into tribal or sectarian majority rule if its necessary preconditions are lacking.

  45. Obama’s foreign policy legacy, an extension of Bush policy, is arguably one of “failure” so far.
    There are significant issues with the way O is handling US relations with major powers. Some might attribute this to arrogance and narcissism but whatever the case it is shortsighted and counterproductive.
    While there are serious issues with Russia and “reset” and etc, O has not done so well with China. The US press minimized the all too obvious snub by Michelle in not attending but the European press raised the issue:
    And the ranting about China’s “cyberwar” finally blew up in O’s face.

  46. Tyler says:

    I don’t speak Chinese or Cyrillic, but I get the jist of what you’re saying and agree with it. The Russians seem to have kept their ‘old hands’ close, by and large and have benefited from it while we purged ours in favor of neocons and women in sharp dresses and look what we’ve gotten for it. Neither of us can afford pie in the sky ideals about democracy being some sort of panacea, but only the Russians seem to understand it.
    Putin was wiping the floor with BHO yesterday, and it looks like one of those exchanges that has the other person going “Oooo, I should have said…” the next day. Another salient fact is that while BHO was doing coke in Columbia & Harvard, Putin was watching the light fade in peoples’ eyes in East Germany. I don’t think BHO’s usual ‘hope and change and give a speech’ is going to work on someone who’s seen the fallout from believing in platitudes, but I don’t think the WH really ‘gets’ that.

  47. Tyler says:

    I thought that was an interesting point about the ‘heirs of Byzantium’. Of course the US seems unable to learn from history forty years ago (witness us providing arms to Islamists yet again), so expecting us to learn from history of a millenia plus is an exercise in futility.

  48. DH says:

    “Putin, it seems, has embraced Pyotr Stolypin as the model for his current premiership and putative future presidency because Stolypin tried to accomplish the political, economic and social transformation of Russia through nonrevolutionary means. Putin’s favorite quote these days is, “We do not need great upheavals. We need a great Russia,” a paraphrase of Stolypin’s famous rebuke to his fellow Duma deputies in 1907: “You, gentlemen, are in need of great upheavals; we are in need of Great Russia.” At the 2011 Valdai meetings, as in previous sessions, Putin made frequent references to the importance of gradual, evolutionary change.
    But there are risks in this effort to manufacture and manipulate history for purposes of the present. History can be stubborn in its details. Stolypin, for example, did not succeed in transforming Russia through steady, well-planned actions after Russia was humiliated in the 1904–05 Russo-Japanese War and shaken by revolutionary turmoil. He repeatedly dissolved the Russian parliament after clashing with its more radical members, and Czar Nicholas II famously grew weary of the constitutional monarchy and tentative parliamentary democracy that Stolypin tried to lead. Putin and Stolypin have many more differences than similarities, and it would be rash to suggest that Putin is predestined to share Stolypin’s fate, politically or personally. But in a general sense, Putin does face the same dilemma as Stolypin: before he can shape the future and make it into history as he envisions it, he has to deal with the political exigencies of the present. The past teaches us that the forces and pressures of politics sometimes go their own way despite carefully calibrated efforts to channel them. The disappointing results for Putin’s United Russia party in the recent parliamentary elections are a reminder of that lesson. Putin expected voters to elect a thoroughly supportive parliament for his upcoming presidency. The newly elected Duma will not be as docile as he had planned. The challenge in scripting history is getting the real-world actors to understand and play their parts. Putin knows and plays his role. His people seem less willing to play theirs.”

  49. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Both the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China have tens of millions of citizens who are Muslims – I think 10% of the Russian Federation’s population is Muslim and the number of Chinese citizens (and not necessarily all Han Chinese) is more than 100 million.
    I should think these two states will not be supportive of a policy course that will give Levant to Jihadists/Takfiris.

  50. Matthew says:

    CD: But what is democracy? In the Anglo-American model it means holding elections to choose from a narrow band of candidates who, if elected, will change nothing.
    As a patriot, I would like my own country to have a re-flowering of democracy.

  51. JohnH says:

    Obama never cared about polls, except to the extent he wanted to get himself reelected. Now that he won’t run again, he could care less.
    It seems that he has no regard for his legacy, either.
    His only concern seems to be sucking up to the rich and powerful who can assure his wealth after he leaves office. Bill Clinton serves as a model.

  52. Tyler says:

    Just googled both those terms, and they’re about what I though (minus meaning to write Japanese instead of Chinese).
    I think another issue at hand is while Putin was in the situations that the СПЕЦНАЗ have gone through and understands the complexities behind it all, Obama sees our SOCOM as a magic trick, and dosen’t understand what’s actually behind it all.

  53. cloned_poster says:

    “uttering pious rhetoric”
    Can I borrow that?
    Great post btw

  54. cloned_poster says:

    Maybe true, but Putin, with his intelligence background, probably knows more skeletons in the cupboard than you care to imagine.
    Meanwhile career lobby friendly politicians in Enniskillen must be thinking……

  55. Fred says:

    That salient fact seems lost on the Obama administraion.

  56. Fred says:

    You mean the NSA – the executive branch – is spying on Congress? The only surprise is they haven’t voted articles of impeachment against anyone from the head of the NSA to Obama.

  57. steve says:

    They supported Obama in 2008 as well as in 2012. A democrat has carried Iowa every election since 1988 with the exception of 2004.
    Again, it might be difficult to believe given the prevailing narrative, but a majority of the small counties and small towns in north central and eastern Iowa are democratic–and socially conservative and religious. I live there.

  58. Medicine Man says:

    This is true.
    There is also a strong geopolitical imperative for any and all countries with regional interests to impede US efforts to “roll-over” yet another country under the dubious aegis of R2P. Absent some extraordinary, objectively verifiable justification, what is R2P and/or the 2% doctrine other than “might makes right” with a coat of spray paint?

  59. Kieran says:

    Hafez managed for decades with the help of a certain amount of oil revenue and other rent, a modicum of Arab nationalist credibility, and an enormous political brain.
    Syria is destroyed. There is no money. Sectarian tensions are deep and intense. The regime is unable to ‘change its face’. This does not bode well for a restoration of the status quo ante of a stable minority regime.
    If Iran and Russia suddenly announce they are committing $100 billion to rebuilding Syria, the picture might change, but I’m not holding my breath. For all the noise they are committed to minimum objectives only. They may well succeed in holding that line indefinitely, but it will not be the old Syria, it will be a failed state and divided society in a continuing state of insurgency, with a regime capable of little more than playing its role as a geopolitical checker.

  60. johnf,
    What you say is doubtless true, and to the point.
    But – other considerations are also relevant.
    Marxism was, if not quite a Christian heresy, a transformation of fundamental Christian concepts – specifically, of Christian eschatology.
    Accordingly, there was a natural progression from Christian faith to revolutionary faith. But, by the same token, once the revolutionary faith is perceived as empty, there is also a possible progression back. It may be halting, and complex, but it is there: and I suggest one cannot understand either contemporary Russia in general, or Putin in particular, without trying to make sense of these odd transitions. The general Western propensity to mouth clichés like ‘Once a Chekist, always a Chekist’, gets one precisely nowhere.
    Moreover, the notion that the Marxist-Leninist and Christian worlds were simply and sharply separate was always nonsense – the kind of nonsense which came from a lack of interest in the complexities of Russian history, or indeed, anyone’s history, including our own.
    To take a couple of examples. A fascinating account of the Stalinist terror comes in the memoirs of Nadezhda Mandelstam, widow of Osip Mandelstam. Like Boris Pasternak, Osip Mandelstam was both ethnically Jewish and a great Russian Christian poet. His poem denouncing Stalin is a – Jewish Christian – prophetic utterance. As his wife’s memoir makes clear, their protector was the Old Bolshevik Bukharin, who himself fell victim to the terror.
    A great novel of the terror is The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, who had served as a medical officer with the White armies. It mixes a strange fantasy about the visit of the devil to Moscow – but he is a very strange devil – with a bizarre retelling of the story of the encounter of Pilate and Christ.
    The Pilate whom Bulgakov creates has elements of a Stalinist official, and also harks back to the White general Khludov, from his civil war play Flight. The Christ-figure Bulgakov creates – Yeshua – has elements of a traditional Russian ‘holy fool’. But in this story, Pilate does not want to crucify Christ, whom he sees as at once unutterably naïve but also as a source of indispensable comfort. He simply does not dare to face the certainty that he will be denounced to the Emperor Tiberias by Caiaphas, if he does not execute Christ – and also, does not believe that any political order better than the tyranny of Tiberias is ultimately sustainable.
    A phrase that runs through is the book is ‘cowardice is the greatest sin’, and among other things it is a reflection on different kinds of cowardice and courage, by a man who had a great deal of relevant experience of the complexities involved. And Bulgakov’s experience was indeed wide enough to make it possible for him to strike a balance. On the one hand, he was not inclined to treat the courage of the brave soldier, or the loyalty of soldiers to their comrades, lightly; on the other, he knew very well that there are other forms of courage. Sometimes soldiers possess both, sometimes they do not.
    If people in the United States and Britain had tried, back in 1989, to make sense of the complexities of Russian history, rather than treating it as a kind of episode in our sentimentalised version of our own histories, we might not be in the utter mess in which we find ourselves.

  61. DH says:

    Oh,I’m not saying otherwise. But I think he is thinking foremost of Mother Russia.

  62. Tyler,
    Thanks for the link.
    I finally got round to looking at the Mail Online website. It usually gives you a good indication of what a great deal of ‘middle England’ thinks.
    The ‘best rated’ comments on their report of the confrontations at the G8 summit begin with the following:
    ‘Hold firm Putin, you’re right, they’re wrong and most of us Brits want nothing to do with arming the rebels.’
    Among a collection of similar comments, the eighth in the list is interesting:
    ‘Putin is right, and we should just stay right out of it – this must be the first time ever that the British public have more in common with a Russian PM than our own!’
    (See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2343904/G8-summit-Putin-refuses-G8-removal-Assad-despite-Camerons-dinner-ambush-end-bloodshed-Syria.html )
    Something has snapped. As I have said earlier, it is not simply a left-right thing. One of the most striking things, moreover, is the way in which the comments on the Financial Times website are not very far removed from those on the Mail Online website.
    There is a very large-scale collapse of confidence in elites, even among many of those — like FT readers — who one would expect to identify with elites. Whether the process has gone further in the UK than the US is not clear to me.
    Being temperamentally conservative, and cautious, in a rather old-fashioned British sense, I actually find this in many respects seriously alarming. But if you have elites which simply will not listen, and inhabit curious kinds of ‘bubble’ of their own, this kind of thing is bound to happen.

  63. Mark Logan says:

    I suspect Dempsey and Hagel have the ability. Also, BHO becoming somewhat irrelevant in foreign affairs might be for the best.

  64. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yes, I think Joseph Stalin was purported to have said that a minimum of morality is needed among states or else no state could exist.

  65. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think you need to think past cliche such as “Failed State”.
    If Cambodia and Lebanon could recover, so could Syria.

  66. Kieran says:

    Lebanon recovered thanks to Gulf and Western money. Where will the money come from to rebuild Syria?

  67. Matthew says:

    BM: Saudi Arabia pumped a lot of money into Lebanon.

  68. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Kieran & Matthew:
    First the war must end.
    Syria is not exactly resourceless – there is oil and then there are also the people of Syria.

  69. Tyler says:

    I’m not saying there they didn’t. I’m saying that Romney was a horrible candidate and hardly a social conservative by any means.

  70. Tyler says:

    I always thought Marxism was more Jewish in nature, especially with its very Talmudic arguing of black into white and back again.

  71. Tyler says:

    I think you’d right to find it alarming, Mr. Habakkuk. Usually in history when the populace has lost faith in its leaders there’s some serious upheaval. In the UK maybe the populace has finally reached a breaking point after the importation of a new electorate, the anarcho-tyranny of the state, and now the globalist agenda out in the open. Your people have killed their kings before, after all. There’s a tradition of it. Kipling said it best:
    “”The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
    But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
    When he stands like an ox in the furrow – with his sullen set eyes on your own,
    And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing,’ my son, leave the Saxon alone.”
    Here in the US we’ve got the same issues with Syria, the NSA wiretapping, and not least of all the amnesty surrender being rammed through the Senate that seeks to turn America into a dumping ground for the world’s miscreants.
    The problem over here is we’re stuck in a two party dichotomy, with very little space between the two parties. Allegiance to Israel, the surveillance state, executive power that’s okay when my guy does it, fulfilling the wishes of the rentier class, etc.
    However, there’s a saying that “America is three meals from anarchy”. As I told TTG before in a previous post, the cracks are there on the edges where the soma of “reality” TV is not. You can only kick the can down the road for so long.

  72. maryam says:

    Quite a few people in the world have become disenchanted with democracy before Iraq, as they watched democratic countries ally themselves with grossly undemocratic regimes and dictators while their own citizens were taken hostage by fraudulent businessmen, special interest groups lobbying for other countries ..and much more.
    Despite the hard fact of politics, I will reserve my admitation for people who are behaving in an honorable way esp. in hard positions, isn’t that the ethos of heroism that we are all so fond of?
    So yes, Putin is better than the drunk Jeltzin and the Russians do not deserve anything better since they are only used to Tyrants but..
    there is quite a bit more than lack of democracy in the case of Putin; there is large evidence of fostering of terror on the population, of provoking the conflict in Chechnya at crucial moments of the elections and being responsible for an acceleration of violence on his own people, of corrupting the laws the land, murdering outspoken journalists and liquidating ennemies..the farce of his vice-presidency with Medvedev was the work of a psychopath who is sure of his game, he was not even bothering hiding properly, that in addition to his dipping in the oil revenues.
    Finally, Putin is a cold war product, his world views have not changed despite the change in the world: To him it is not Obama who is being humiliated it is the USA.

  73. maryam says:

    This is certainly very interesting.
    The aspect that has not come up though is the geopolitical significance of the Russian naval base presence in Syria, as well as the significance of the indirect confrontation with Qatar over the gaz exports to Europe. I am not convinced of the significance of the pipeline project but Qatar’s most intense investment in the last few years has been in acquiring the largest fleet of LG transport in the world NaKilat. It is in service transporting LG as far as South America and in England and wherever ports can accomodate the carriers and expanding
    Last but not least, one cannot help but wonder at the significance of the seeming alliance (at the moment) between Russia and Iran for whose benefits is it?

  74. fanto says:

    The US foreign policy can be seen through the ‘prism’ (pun intended) of the influence of the lobby – “is this or that policy move by USA good or bad for the best ally in the ME?”

  75. Fred says:

    I believe a number of folks on this blog have mentioned the naval base and LG; however, the later, like oil, is a global commodity and Qatar’s efforts might impact prices in the long term, they won’t be replacing reliance on Russia’s exports to Western Europe. (There were some prior comments regarding frakking, its impact on both oil and natural gas, and the large number of smaller companies involved, leading some to think that it is a bubble that will one day (soon) burst.) I think a more important concern to Russia is the one Babak mentions below.

  76. Alba Etie says:

    Mr Habakkuk
    The same dynamic is happening here with the American Comity. You see Left ( Micheal Moore) Right/Libertarian ( Rand Paul) and Center – ( all the rest of Us ) all opposed to involvement in Syria. There is also across the board dismay & anger that the Financial Elites that blew up our economy have not been held to account .

  77. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There is no alliance between Russia and Iran.
    There never was and there never will be.

  78. Tyler says:

    That’s a novelty in the West: A leader that thinks of his people first.

  79. DH says:

    Their own, I imagine. In the scheme of things they are natural allies.

  80. Tyler says:

    I would take Putin as President over the dissembler trying to sell us out to the Mexicans we currently have.

  81. optimax says:

    The humiliation showed itself in a speech he gave in Belfast that was broadcast on C-span yesterday. It was humiliating as an American to watch my president fall flat on his face and humiliating for him to receive a cold reception from a crowd of young people, who didn’t applaud his empty platitudes. Obama needs a new speech writer to freshen up the same speech he’s been giving for the last 6 years.
    Obama was like a one-hit-wonder rock star that realizes the audience isn’t swooning over the same song he’s been singing for the last thirty years. The carefully timed modulations of his speech didn’t ascend into enthusiastic applause, as in yesteryear. Then he began fumbling with his words–you could almost see them fall from his mouth and shatter on the podium. He entered the realm of the pathetic when he talked about a young woman who had gone to the United States to learn about world peace and went back to Ireland to build a Peace Wall with a gate that was supposed to inspire a crowd of young people that instead need jobs, a future, not some monument to a socially engineered dystopia, where citizens pray for peace and their leaders preach perpetual war. Obama asked the young woman to stand up and searched for her “face in the crowd.” The woman wasn’t there or didn’t want to associate herself with the buffoon’s self-aggrandizing agenda.
    It was a minor step down but as fun to see as Andy Griffith’s fictional fall.

  82. confusedponderer says:

    “do not deserve anything better since they are only used to Tyrants but”
    This is nonsense and you know it.
    The problem is the lack of a democratic culture. Russia, like many of the Warsaw Pact countries have that. Iraq has that aplenty. Afghanistan even more so.
    Just look at Hungary where they have decided to roll back their constitution towards a more authoritarian form of government with removed checks and balances and reduced personal freedoms (just take that law that allow for censorship, or the one compelling Hungarian university grads to stay in country for TEN years after studies when they got state-sponsored university places).
    Lacking a democratic culture leads to democracy deficits in practice, because its players do not live what democracy is about – it’s all about legalistic form but not spirit – and that problem is not one limited to Russia.
    So Putin is a cold war product? What about US attitudes towards Russia proper?
    One can easily make the point that the attacks on Putin from the West are likewise cold war relics because the self-proclaimed victor of the Cold War can’t stand facing his re-assertive Russia as opposed to the supine Russia of the Jelzin years.

  83. kao_hsien_chih says:

    A lot of things that you have attributed to Putin applies to most other leaders in most other countries of the world, including US. A lot of it is politics (I am not, by any means, a fan of Putin–I do think he is somewhat a second coming of Mussolini, but then, Mussolini was himself an underrated politician who gambled big and lost big in his last big play.) Barenuckles politics is not exactly a nice pretty thing, and I’d take Putin’s honesty about brutal nature of politics over many a Western politicians peddling snake oil.

  84. Maryam says:

    For one thing it seems at least to be arm deals:

  85. Maryam says:

    Loosening the grip of Russia over Europe in the matter of gas is the other factor that is encouraging Qatar and its clients in addition to pricing.

  86. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That is a canard Maryam; USSR never threatened to cut-off gas to Western Europe; not even during the coldest days of the Cold War.
    Likewise the Russian Federation has actually invested billions of dollars to construct multiple gas pipelines to Europe.
    I believe Algeria is also supplying gas to Europe.
    The only viable option to Russian Gas – in volume and in price – is the Iranian gas that the EU states discarded – clearly there is no fear of Russia cutting-off their gas.

  87. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Russian Federation and Islamic Republic of Iran do not have common borders – and what Tsars obtained over 300 years of expansion is now gone.
    Russia and Iran have no competing interests economically either but their common interests do not necessitate strategic cooperation.

  88. Babak Makkinejad says:

    It is not absence of “Democratic Culture”, it is absence of “Liberty/Freedom” culture.

  89. Medicine Man says:

    I have been saying for some time our elites are playing with fire. They spend too much time pushing one hair-brained scheme after another, barely seem to care how transparent and foolish they look, and worse still want to finance it all by dismantling social programs and liquidating public works. Coupled with a complete failure to prosecute a class of highly visible, privileged businessmen, how long can it possibly be before a critical mass of the citizenry starts asking “how are these clowns working for me anyhow?”
    And we’re not even at the end of the rollercoaster either. I’ve read elsewhere that insurance companies are quietly setting up their own derivatives scam now; over reporting the assets of clients in order to sell much larger insurance packages than they should.

  90. maryam says:

    ‘Lacking a democratic culture leads to democracy deficits in practice’
    How does a democratic culture develop? There is a suggestion from the Western experience (s) that it is a gradual process with many setbacks ( like the one witnessed in Hungary and in Turkey at the moment). But we do know that strongmen who take over a country and run it tyranically do not create the institutions or the culture that will ease the country in the path of a development.
    Saddam, Assad father and son are examples of modern rulers who, for decades, thwarted every effort towards maturing social and political processes. So when you arrive to one of those countries and take a cross- sectional look at the situation, you find the scene empty from the most basic necessities to establish a functioning political system. What will Putin leave for Russia socially and politically after he quit being president, just a seat for another dictator?
    To say that Putin is a cold war product is to statement of a fact and not an insult. 16 years in the KGB, in practice overseeing the Stasi in East Germany, his relationship with the West is forcibly shaped by his training and experience of a polarized world and competition, the US is not innocent of such thinking, the theater of competition has just moved from Europe to Central Asia.

  91. maryam says:

    The search for diversification for energy delivery is a leading theme:
    It is real : 39% of oil in Germany and 36% of gas come from Russia, and most importantly its psychological impact is very powerful as the title of the following article states;
    “Dangerous dependency: When Putin wants it, it will be cold in Europe”-
    all European countries are dependent but not to the same degree, the most important overall gas imports come from Russia, Norway and Holland.

  92. maryam says:

    Central Asian politics are developing and Russia is consolidating alliances vis a vis China- esp. after the US exits Afghanistan next year, an Iranian-Russian alliance would make perfect sense.

  93. Well maryam did you hear the one about Putin stealing a Super Bowl ring?
    And $700Tin untaxed unregulated derivatives out there stalking the world’s economies!

  94. Babak Makkinejad says:

    It only makes perfect sense to someone who knows nothing of Iran nor of Russia nor of Central Asia.
    You need to get out and learn more of the world.

  95. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There are insufficient foundations for Liberty, either in Custom or in Law, outside of Western Europe – the area of the old Western Roman Empire after its partition 1500 years ago.
    In my opinion, Western Experience is not applicable to non-Western people; one need only consider Slavs and Hungarians.
    Thailand started on a path of reform and change more than 150 years ago – still she suffers from coups, military goervnment etc.
    It is clear to me that the experience of Western Europe cannot be easily adapted by foreigners; there is 150 years of failure which demostrates that all over the world.
    What, I think, could be accomplished is respect for the Rule of Law, I think.

  96. DH says:

    If you are objecting to the use of the word ‘alliance,’ I did not mean a formal alliance, but the real politic of shared interests in acting to counter US/France/Britain.

  97. Charles I says:

    Babak, on that we agree.

  98. maryam says:

    Thanks I will try to get out and learn more of the world! 🙂
    If there is anything of crucial interest and ominous happening at the moment, it is the Iran and Russian alliance: 1) we see it unfold in Syria with Iran and the protection that Russia is awarding Hizbullah’s intervention in the Syrian territory 2) we see Russia trying to rehabilitate Iran’s nuclear aims in the eyes of the West even in the last few days 3) we can see the defense technology deal moving again as of the last 2 weeks between the two countries after stalling for a couple of years.
    No there is nothing between Iran and Russia, let’s repeat that mantra, may be we will all believe it at the end.

  99. Babak Makkinejad,
    As you know, you and I have had many disagreements over the years, but I think on this issue what you say is very much to the point. Indeed, I think you are bringing up absolutely critical questions.
    An interesting analysis from the former American consul-general in St. Petersburg, who had extensive dealings with Putin when he was a key subordinate of the leading Russian liberal Anatoliy Sobchak in the 1990s, is I think relevant to what you say:
    An extract:
    “In my own case, as U.S. Consul General in St. Petersburg 1994-97, I knew and had a solid respect for the first deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, one Vladimir Putin. He regularly attended events at our house, although my main contact was his boss, a great Russian democrat, Anatoliy Sobchak. True, Vladimir Putin had a past in foreign intelligence, but, as Henry Kissinger, who served for a time as co-chairman of the Kissinger-Sobchak Commission, is reputed to have said on being introduced to him, “all the best people got their start in foreign intelligence.” My personal impressions of Putin, which were sought – but largely rejected – by some in the Administration when, in 1999, he surprisingly was named prime minister, were that 1) his main frame of reference is a legal one; 2) he both keeps his word and expects others to do so; 3) he puts great store in the facts and is little swayed by rhetoric, including most especially of the democratic populist sort that accompanied various “color” revolutions in the 1990s and 2000s. In addition, despite some fairly wild accusations that have been leveled at him, the Putin we knew in St. Petersburg was primarily a crime fighter. In fact, he helped us out on one occasion when some young American investors got into difficulties with the Russian mob. Characteristically, the first thing Putin asked for when I called him was a copy of the text of the legal agreement governing the joint venture. He might as well have been a lawyer, given his cautious, even legalistic approach.”
    (See http://rbth.ru/articles/2012/09/12/putin_and_russians_need_a_break_18207.html )
    If one actually bothers to pay some attention to what Putin has done and said, it is absolutely clear that, confronted by the patent failure of the Soviet model of development, he went back to the thinking of Tsarist officials, and their successors in the emigration, who wrestled with precisely the problems that you are describing. It was the Russian ‘liberals’, who we treated and still treat as ‘plaster saints’, who made the fundamental mistake of thinking that if fashionable Western ideas were simply imported into a ‘third world’ country, nirvana would ensue. In that respect, ironically, they repeated the errors of the Bolsheviks.
    Specifically, the figures to whom Putin has looked for guidance wrestled with the question of how one can ‘modernise’ in conditions where the cultural foundations of Western modernity are not present – while preserving that self-respect which is in itself a precondition of ‘modernisation’, and also sufficient military strength not to be too easy a target for predators.
    A corollary of this is that Putin actually started out with a great deal of admiration for the United States. And further, not being an idiot, he realised that his modernisation programme, to be successful, required the avoidance of confrontation with major power centres: in particular, it was imperative to avoid repeating Stalin’s mistake, and allowing oneself to be baited into an all-out confrontation with the United States from which it was impossible to find an exit. It has, I think, been a surprise to him to realise how difficult it is to ‘appease’ the United States, or indeed Britain.
    The last thing I would want to turn the nonsense of the conventional wisdom about Putin on its head, and make him into some kind of ‘plaster saint’. However, from long experience I know that it is very difficult to get people in the United States or Britain to make the smallest effort to see him against the background of Russian history, and so to grasp the extremely complex and ambivalent figure that he quite patently is.
    Usually, people just look at you stupidly, and recite one form or another of the mantra ‘Once a Chekist, always a Chekist.’
    It was so much fun ‘winning’ the Cold War, that they cannot think realistically about the problems of the post-Cold War world.

  100. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I do object since “alliance” means something: like US/Canada/UK etc. alliance.

  101. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for your comments.
    During the 99-year existence of the Crown Colony of Hong Kong, for the first time in 3000 years, Chinese were secure in their persons and in their property.
    Yet Hong Kong was not a Democracy.
    Before the “Shock Therapy”, the Soviet Union had a very hight rate of personal savings. One Y. Gaidar destroyed all of that and pushed millions of pensioners into immediate poverty.
    I think there is much that is admirable in Western Europe and in North America but evidently they are not transplant-able.
    Russian elites have been performing social-engineering on the poor Russians for over 300 years and Russia and the Rus remian un-European.

  102. Babak Makkinejad says:

    All a canard – if they were serious they would have been in Tehran by now.

  103. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Why do you care about what Iran, Russia, and China are doing in Syria?
    Looks like they are defending Christians, Druze, Shia, Alawite from Takfiris and Jihadists.

  104. maryam says:

    Thanks so much Mr. Habakkuk, this is very useful for me to put in the balance.

  105. maryam says:

    That is exactly the point that I had been trying to make in our previous discussion about modernity or the lack thereof..are those words Modernity and Democracy finished patented products that have to be aimed for or are they adaptable to cultures and progressively attainable?
    Perhaps we could use some specifics outlined by the UN conventions, covenants and treaties that came after years of global research, legal input and deliberation, and testimonies of Rapporteurs, and which defined certain essential elements of a civilized ( modern, democratic, regardless of political system) nation, a blue print, for example: The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Conventions on the Right of the child and the Rights of women and last but not least the Convention on the Rights of people with disabilities (CRPD) which-to my own deep disappointment- was not ratified by the US in December 2012 because …
    You can go to the United Nations site, check treaty by treaty and see which countries did sign and ratify or just signed or declined or commented or protested.
    We do not have to be in limbo on this, we already have guidelines.
    OK…I am waiting for the UN- hatred responses.

  106. claudia says:


  107. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I do not care one whit about UN.
    You are conflating Democracy – an old invention of the Greeks – with the Rule of Law, Representative Government, and Western Modernity.
    If indeed, per your theses, Modernity are West are not identical, why is it that non-Western people study Japanese and try to emulate this non-Western – but Modern – state (in your view)?
    As for civilization: I think the Western Civilization has made everyone else, by definition and by default, a barbarian.
    I am comfortable being a non-White barbarain.

  108. Tyler says:

    Maryam obviously has an axe to grind against Putin. No one is romanticizing him but he seems to be one of the few leaders of the world actually looking out for his people as opposed to offering them up for the neoliberalneo liberal/globalist organizations of the world.
    against him she offers us…obama, Cameron, Harper, and the soft tyrant organizations of the world that offer us the stifling laws of mandarins from afar.
    so who’s signing your checks, darlin?

  109. fanto says:

    Sir, do you think that the fact that most of Russian Muslims are Sunnis may guide the Russians to be friendly with the Shia in Iran? I think this would make perfect sense.

  110. Fred says:

    What Iranian nuclear aims – the ones repeatedly mentioned by US and Western leaders with zero factual evidence to back them up? To use your works “let’s repeat that mantra”. Iran is not a threat the US, neither is Syria.

  111. maryam says:

    My reference “Nuclear aims of Iran” was stated while enumerating steps that show a pattern in the engagement between Russia and Iran. Where Israel is allowed the freedom of nuclear powers unchecked, Iran and anybody else may well do so. The hypocrisy and double standard around the issue are no longer that dense.
    What is concerning in the present picture is the invasion of Iranian and HA fighters of a predominatly Sunni country like Syria, with Russia supporting the Shia and the US more or less supporting its allies- the Sunnis- or its bases, or its interests. Beside the present Jihadis that have come to support the rebels fro months now, and the Fatawa from misguided Sunni scholars encouraging Jihad in Syria,there is danger if increased sectarian violence pretty much everywhere around the Muslim world which can also can ‘endanger” US interests.

  112. Fred says:

    The way your comment was written it implied Russia was assisting Iran in nuclear weapons development.
    Invasion of Iranian and HA fighters? What Iranian invasion? The current government of Syria was not invaded by HA fighters. What actual proof do you have of Iran sending any Iranian military force to Syria?

  113. maryam says:

    It is not the Syrian government that is being invaded by HA and Iranian fighters, it is the majority Sunni country that is being invaded.
    Although the above article states that HA fighters are not going to be in the Aleppo battle, articles and eyewitness reports from 10 days ago have placed afirst contingent of 300 HA fighters in the suburb of Hamdaniyah in the northern city of Aleppo.

  114. Tyler says:

    Maryam played her hand and reveals she’s a Salafist sympathizer. “Sunni country being invaded” indeed. Maybe she should say “Syria is being invaded by foreign Salafist cannibals.”

  115. Fred says:

    You mean the 20,000,000 Syrians who haven’t overthrown the current government are being ‘invaded’ be 300 HA fighters? If you weren’t trying to be serious that would be funny. What of all those non-Sunni’s in that country? Apparently they don’t matter to anyone other than the current government of Syria.

  116. fanto says:

    ” There are insufficient foundations for Liberty, either in Custom or in Law, outside of Western Europe – the area of the old Western Roman Empire after its partition 1500 years ago.
    In my opinion, Western Experience is not applicable to non-Western people; one need only consider Slavs and Hungarians…”
    Babak and David Habakuk, you are so sure of yourself and congratulatory about the claim that Slavs and other Eastern Europeans have lack of freedom and democracy culture; but the democracy of post-colonial India, history of Poland (look up “Liberum Veto”), are possibly exceptions to your “rule”. I am not claiming that democracy is the best social order, some societies are probably better off with an authoritarian system.

  117. maryam says:

    It was 3000 and not 300, my mistake-
    The issue that is at stake is that this is a predomiantly sunni area that is being literally invaded by Shia fighters whose presence is announced, those fighters do not just come in, do their fighting job and get out, they chant their slogans, raise their flags in the area and the Iranians are foreigners speaking a different language. This is taunting the population to a great degree and exacerbating ethnic and sectarian sanctions.

  118. turcopolier says:

    This is war, not a soccer match. “Playing fair” is not an option. As to the geographic distribution of the sects in the north it happens that there are several Shia villages conveniently placed. End of story. pl

  119. maryam says:

    Col Lang,
    It is hardly a question of “fair play”- it is about expecting long-term consequences, “end of story” notions have plagued many misguided military interventions and we see their results in Afghanistan and Iraq.

  120. The UN has released a comprehensive report on the status internationally of refugees. Oddly perhaps and perhaps not a USA policy link seems to often be one of the drivers of the current international numbers of refugees. This even included internal migration within nation-states.

  121. turcopolier says:

    IMO you are a partisan voice expressing fear for the future of the salafist cause in Syria. military intervention is often successful in changing history. the Germans, Japanese and many other peoples could testify to that. pl

  122. maryam says:

    Col Lang,
    That is not a correct assessment of my position, I despise the Salafis. MIlitary interventions would benefit from looking at short term and long term consequences.
    Unless, the present intervention is meant to show Shia power and muscle-flexing in that area, it is absolutely insane. What we are seeing is that the population is so scared and angry that they are calling for the ” jews” (sic) to come and save them from the HA and Iran!! Amazing shift after the 2006 flowing love and banners with pictures of Hassan Nasrallah in Sunni areas following HA victory in the war with Israel- the present move will only serve to breed more extremism on both sides.
    For people like me, the biggest heartbreak is the Shia-Sunni split that the Islamic community continues to experience and which continues to deepen due to murderous politics on both sides.

  123. turcopolier says:

    All right, what are the short and long term adverse effects for the alawi/shia/christian/and non-Salafi Sunni population of Syria in the event of pacification of the country by the Syrian government? pl

  124. maryam says:

    Col Lang,
    Pacification by the government alone is not happening, and invoking the help of outside forces is attracting more arms and more interference on both sides, the situation is about to worsen and not to improve. I am firmly against any Western military influence at this stage, it is too late.
    Had the government been able to pacify the country alone, one could discuss a project of a national reconciliation with the help of global organizations, but it did not and may be could not …the history of that regime and its approach to dialogue ended up costing everyone a great deal.
    The last 2+ years have taken a huge toll on the population, all of it- and as Ghassan Salamé (Arab Christian for reference), Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) and professor of International Relations at Sciences Po, Paris who was consulted by the US government in Iraq and met with the leaders of the Christian minorities there, says on issues like these : Sectarian conflict is like Malta Fever, it accentuates then abates, where majorities are not doing well, minorities do not do well. Like him I am firmly against the migration of minorities out of Syria, the country has to work its problems together.
    How that is going to happen at this stage and after the wounds that have been reopened and how long it is going to take is anybody’s guess, let alone outside interferences in such a process.
    I wish I could be more specific but ..

  125. turcopolier says:

    Ghassan Salame! Ah, what a splendid fellow. He played such a constructive role in Lebanon and Syria. I remember several days we passed together as the guests of a Syrian gentleman at Nice. Let’s see – the government of Syria has Russian, Iranian and Hizbullah help. The “rebels” have foreign jihadi, Qatari, Saudi, Turkish, British, French and American help. Yes. it is a shame that Hizbullah is fighting to keep its line of supply to Iran open. Incomprehensible. pl

  126. maryam says:

    Col Lang,
    You have the last word. Thanks .

  127. Fred says:

    And it is 3,000 miles away from the USA and poses zero strategic threat to our nation.

  128. lally says:

    Maronite Christian> M14?

  129. turcopolier says:

    You don’t understand the concept of irony? Go back to school, girl. pl

  130. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for your comments.
    I confess that I did not think of India as having a liberal culture.
    And I thank you for bringing to my attention the case of Poland since the end of Communism.
    I will have to study them both and I cannot respond to your criticism.

  131. fanto says:

    Babak, the link for liberum veto is here
    It seems to me that in some ways the current US system of governance resembles it, unfortunately. The idea of democracy taken ad absurdum.

  132. Fred says:

    Well it looks like Obama will have ten less brigades to get entangled in Syria:
    But he’s about to pivot out of the morass and land square in a new legislative one:
    This was DOA in his first term. There’s no way he’ll pass this now. What is he trying to distract attention away from?

  133. Highlander says:

    What makes you think these two guys, who have hung around the imperial capital for 30 plus years. while making their extensive fortunes at the public feeding trough, would not be captives of the current DC ethos from day 1?
    On this idea old boy,your political head resides where the sun doesn’t shine. You are right there with 85% of the American people.
    What we need is a kick ass reformer like Andrew Jackson or Teddy Roosevelt. Unfortunately, like industrial production, production of those type of strong reformist leaders has now be off shored to places like Russia or China.

  134. Highlander says:

    “like a stale fart”
    a great and appropriate term for the entire Imperial Capital and its players.

  135. Highlander says:

    Thanks for the information in this post concerning Putin in his formative years.
    He is a great poker player. He has taken multiple mediocre hands and time after time is running the table with them.
    The simple minded amongst us just dismiss Putin as a “BAD MAN”. Well he is a man who controls a 1000 MIRVed ICBMs! You damn well,don’t dismiss such a man,bad or not.
    You better figure out how to have him on board, helping you prevent turning the world into a piece of charcoal.

Comments are closed.