Putin chooses to play the peacemaker. And why not?
By William Pfaff, Truthdig 11-9-2013
Barack Obama should be thanking Vladimir Putin for getting him out of a dilemma that would have ruined his presidency.
His attack on Syria, as it was (and is) programmed, would have been or will be no “shot across the bow.” The plan is to “degrade” Syria’s entire military and supporting infrastructure, so as to tip the civil war’s balance—as Baghdad was “degraded” in 2003. It would make the civil war far worse, with thousands more dead, by triggering a rebel offensive, covertly supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to take Damascus (or its ruins). …
Mr. Putin currently offers Obama the attractive role of a warrior chief whose threats so frightened the world as to force the sequestering and destruction of Syrian chemical weapons. It has brought a wide international and U.N. intervention potentially capable of forcing a settlement conference (“Geneva II”), possibly halting the civil war and its multiple threats to the region. Mr. Putin himself chooses to play the peacemaker. And why not?
As Russia would have to be one of the guarantors of such a settlement, as the United States would insist on being, and as Russia would also have to stand guarantee for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, Moscow would automatically provide Syria with deterrence against Israeli nuclear blackmail and that conventional threat from Israel which the chemical weapons were manufactured to deter. Russia’s enlarged political presence and guarantee of Syria’s neutralization would also secure Lebanon. Both results are highly desirable….. There are plenty of people in the Washington foreign policy elite, as well as the Obama administration, who will be horrified at the notion of introducing Russia into the Middle East under international sponsorship. But Russia has already introduced itself into the only presently recognizable solution, if outside military “punishment” and consequent expanded war are to be avoided.
The Middle East, under the burdens of American military interventions, has since the 1950s suffered heavy-handed and disastrously unsuccessful policies of American intervention and vain “democratization.” This cannot continue.
The Washington community seems incapable of recognizing this, but the U.S., in this region, has made itself hated and feared. It is incapable of generating generally acceptable geopolitical solutions. To use a word popular among Washington’s war-hawks, it no longer has “credibility.”
Vladimir Putin: “God created us equal”
Russia Today, September 12, 2013
“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.”
It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts has become commonplace for the US, President Vladimir Putin said in an editorial for The New York Times. Putin however has welcomed Barack Obama’s decision to develop a compromise on Syria.
In a lengthy piece titled A Plea for Caution from Russia, the President reminded that the United Nations was created as a universal instrument of preventing devastating wars.
“No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage,” Putin wrote. “This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.”
From the very beginning of the crisis, Russia has advocated a political solution according to international law.“We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law,” he said.
“It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States,” he said. The world increasingly sees 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,” the President stated. On the other hand, a successful political compromise on Syria would “open the door to cooperation on other critical issues” between Russia and the US.
Having studied Obama’s address to the American nation on Tuesday, Putin disagreed with a “case he made on American exceptionalism.”
“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,” Putin said in conclusion of his New York Times editorial.
Flashback 2007: President of Russia
“No moral foundations for a modern civilisation”
Speech at the Munich Conference on Security Policy
VLADIMIR PUTIN (February 10, 2007): The history of humanity has gone through unipolar periods and seen aspirations to world supremacy.
What is a unipolar world? However one might embellish this term, at the end of the day it refers to one type of situation, namely one centre of authority, one centre of force, one centre of decision-making. It is a world in which there is one master, one sovereign. And at the end of the day this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.
This certainly has nothing in common with democracy. Because, as you know, democracy is the power of the majority in light of the interests and opinions of the minority.
Incidentally, Russia – we – are constantly being taught about democracy. But for some reason those who teach us do not want to learn themselves.
I consider that the unipolar model is not only unacceptable but also impossible in today’s world. And this is not only because if there was individual leadership in today’s – and precisely in today’s – world, then the military, political and economic resources would not suffice. What is even more important is that the model itself is flawed because at its basis there is and can be no moral foundations for modern civilisation.
Along with this, what is happening in today’s world is a tentative to introduce precisely this concept into international affairs, the concept of a unipolar world. And with which results?
Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force – military force – in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts.
As a result we do not have sufficient strength to find a comprehensive solution to any one of these conflicts. Finding a political settlement also becomes impossible.
We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law.
And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one state’s legal system. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way.
I am convinced that the only mechanism that can make decisions about using military force as a last resort is the Charter of the United Nations…
When the UN will truly unite the forces of the international community and can really react to events in various countries, when we will leave behind this disdain for international law, then the situation will be able to change. Otherwise the situation will simply result in a dead end, and the number of serious mistakes will be multiplied.
Along with this, it is necessary to make sure that international law have a universal character both in the conception and application of its norms….