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Putin Speaks to the American People

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Because of Putin’s mastermind, all sides get what they want out of this situation – all except Al Qaeda, and that is a very good thing.

Russian president, Vladimir Putin, spoke directly to the American people in a recent op-ed in The New York Times. It is quite an interesting read, and a very rare spectacle to behold, as you do not see world leaders appeal to the people of another nation through media like this. With the long and cold history of Russian-American relations, it is indeed something new, and in some ways, it is also a fascinating moment of honesty and sincerity from the Russian president, even if it is covered in political rhetoric and diplomatic semantics.

The Washington Post did an analysis of Putin’s op-ed, where they added commentary and did some half-assed fact-checking. In the same way Putin’s article was interesting, the commentary is actually quite fascinating too, simply because of its “oppositional” interpretation over the same issues.

While the commentary certainly makes some good and critical points to Putin’s not-so-unbiased op-ed, I find myself disagreeing more with the one-sided interpretation of what Putin is saying, than Putin’s own take on the issues. Indeed, the commentary interpreted it from an American perspective that is being critical of the Russian perspective. What I find remarkable about the commentary is that it – just like the Obama administration’s policies over Syria – ignores the objective reality of the matters. Objectivity that actually seems more closely related to Putin’s view point. It simply seems a lot more natural to interpret Putin’s argument as clearly seeking to fight terrorism and making sure to keep terrorists at bay when they are getting too close for comfort, and that he offers a proposal for the American people to understand this, in opposition to Obama’s suggestion – to bomb Assad, which would actually be in support of the very terrorists that have been terrorizing both America and Russia for decades. Let me make that perfectly clear: Bombing Assad would be an act of aggression in support of the very people that America declared a war on terrorism against. Putin suggests that it would be in America’s best interest to leave the Syrian civil war alone. Sounds pretty damn reasonable to me.

The commentary goes on to criticize Putin for hypocrisy over saying that the U.S. should stay out of Syria, when Russia and Putin himself have been involved in it all along, dealing arms and resources to the Syrian Army. The predictable Russo-skeptic view of the WP commentary thus ignores the anti-terrorist motives for Putin to arm the Syrian Army. Assad’s regime, while certainly terrible, does at least not promote terrorism that targets America and Russia, unlike Al-Qaeda and Saudi Arabia. Could the irony possibly get any worse? Russia’s policy on this matter is for that reason an objectively more understandable and rational one, and it serves to protect the people of Russia. Is Obama’s policy doing the same for the people of America?

Herein lies is the naked truth of Putin and Russia’s side in this, that Obama has been remarkably ignoring all along. Obama has been caught in a corner, where his saber-rattling has in reality been all about saving face – and awkwardly at that; not about upholding international law or defending the American people. Indeed, bombing Syria may actually be against the international laws that Obama has been arguing to uphold. How ironic that Putin is the one who is actually upholding international law by having diplomatically ensured that Assad will offer up his chemical weapons. How ironic that Putin is the one saving face for Obama. Of course, he does not do so without saving his own face in case Assad is guilty, which could absolutely be the case, but Obama has been humiliated and schooled by Putin in international affairs, and Putin rubs it in by showing empathy and speaking directly to the American people through an op-ed in The New York Times. Imagine Obama doing something similar in Russia! Never. Indeed, what does this say about the Obama administration when the Russian president is the one offering to hammer down the wall and give the American government a way out of the corner they have backed themselves into? The irony tastes worse than American produced Smirnoff vodka.

One can of course question the Russian honesty in these matters. They have been strongly defending the Assad regime against accusations of chemical weapons use, and still do, even after in-directly admitting to Assad’s guilt by forcing him to give up his chemical weapons. I myself argued that it was far more likely for this to be an attack by the Al Nusra Front to frame the Assad regime, especially with Obama’s red line policy towards Assad, than some kinda fool hardy and idiotic attack by the Assad regime. In the beginning, it did not seem likely that Assad was behind the attacks, simply because of physical evidence and motives pointing towards the rebels (Al Nusra Front members were, after all, caught with sarin by Turkish authorities). Now, with more physical and circumstantial evidence pointing more in the direction of Assad, the tables have turned – maybe not completely, but at least enough to scowl at the Assad regime. But I would still argue that Russia’s policy has proven to be far more sensible and complete than the neurotic, hard line of the Obama administration.

The true irony of the whole situation, however, if there was not enough irony to go around already, which even further supports Putin’s overarching argument, is that no matter who launched the weapons, absolutely nothing changes. Nothing. That has been the “beauty” of Russia’s policy in this all along. America has diplomatically tied itself to attacking Assad and supporting the rebels – rebels, who are predominantly Al Nusra Front; Al-Qaeda allies. Now, however, because of Putin’s mastermind, all sides get what they want out of this situation – all except Al Qaeda, and that is a very good thing.

Can we now finally go back to discussing the insane American policy of arming Al-Qaeda allies in Syria?

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Written by Morten Rolland

September 13, 2013 at 12:32 am