The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

Putin Upstages Obama as “Man of Peace”

I
can appreciate a good joke. But Russian President Vladimir Putin’s
Op-Ed
in the New York Times of September 11th, “A Plea for
Caution,” which I’m sure caused him to smile as he penned it, is not funny.
It isn’t even a bad joke.
On
one hand, there is some humor in seeing President Barack Obama being hoisted on
his own petard for having shot off his mouth about the “red line” he
had drawn about Syrian President Bashar Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons
– that was on August 20th, over a year
ago
– and now having to back-pedal.
He owned that red line, and, true to form, is now disowning it, claiming that
it was “the world’s,” and not just his. That’s his “community
organizing” skills coming to the fore.  As Robert Farley of FactCheck.org
concluded on September 6th:
Obama is correct to argue that the international
community has long drawn a “red line” condemning the use of chemical weapons,
but his point blurs the fact that his “red line” comment in August 2012 was
made in the context of what it might take for the U.S. to get involved
militarily in Syria. While Obama may have had some justification for drawing
that line based on international conventions, the decision to tie U.S. military
involvement to Assad using chemical weapons was Obama’s red line.
Another
chuckle was earned by Secretary of State John “Swift Boat” Kerry when
he inadvertently gave Putin the idea of suggesting that Assad’s chemical
weapons could be put under lock and key for the duration of the Syrian
“civil war.” As Bloomberg
News iterated on September 10th:
Putin’s remarks complicate the outlook for the Russian
proposal a day after it was presented by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov, who had seized on comments in London by U.S. Secretary of
State John Kerry about the possibility of Syria turning over its
chemical-weapons stockpile.
But,
if these are jokes, they are not long-lived ones. In past columns we examined
the horrific record Obama has chalked up for himself since taking the
presidential oath of office in 2009. We should now revisit the record of the
man who would assume to take the leadership and moral high ground and have the
chutzpah to offer Americans and their political leaders his advice. While no one
should get too excited about Obama getting a deserved comeuppance, no one
should get too excited about Putin, either. After all, Putin, the man with the arctic-cold
blue killer’s eyes, is a man after Obama’s own heart.
He
is a successful and feared power-luster.
However,
a joke of sorts was practiced on Putin and his Op-Ed. Someone at the New York
Times had the presence of mind to illustrate his column with a Black Hand,
an Italian Mafia warning to extortion victims. Putin did imply, ever so subtly,
that if the U.S. launched a strike against Syria, it would have to contend with
Russia.
The potential strike by the United States against Syria…will
result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict
far beyond Syria’s borders…It could throw the entire system of international law
and order out of balance.
That
is called stealing Obama’s thunder.
First
off, Putin had a
career as a KGB officer in charge of watching other Russians and also
foreigners. Posted in Dresden when the Wall went down and Eastern Europe found
itself adrift of Soviet domination, he easily made the transition from being a
KGB officer for the Soviet Union to being a watcher for the Federal Security
Service (FSB), which succeeded the KBG after the collapse of the Soviets in
1991. At Leningrad State University, still in the KGB until the organization
underwent its name change, he watched over the student body and recruited more
spooks.
Later,
he oversaw the transfer of Soviet state properties to the new federal government
of the Russian Federation. In the economic and political chaos following the
collapse of the Soviet government, Russian business and industry were up for
grabs, causing the creation of a state-protected oligarchy.
Putin
has a doctorate in economics. His dissertation title was “The Strategic
Planning of Regional Resources Under the Formation of Market Relations,”
in which he argued for the establishment by the state of “National
Champions” in business and industry. Sounds a lot like Obama’s plan to
subsidize American “national champions” in “green”
technology, except those “champions” have all gone belly-up, knocked
out cold by the realities of business.
Putin rose to the top
of the new Russian political system, becoming between 1999 and 2000 prime
minister, then president from 2000 to 2008, prime minister again from 2008 to
2012, and president again in 2012. It is quite appropriate that a skilled and
determined ex-KGB officer should rise to the top of political power in Russia
and have a firm and ruthless grip on that power.
The
long and short of how Putin remade Russia is that from being governed by a
totalitarian communist régime, he
transformed it into a nation ruled by an authoritarian fascist régime. The Russian state is in “partnership”
with companies that toe Putin’s line, determines the content and policies of
state and private news media, and caters to the wishes of many Russians that
Russia become again a power to contend with on the world stage.
There
are Obama’s little wars, and Putin’s Northern Caucasus “problem.”
Putin waged brutal wars with “autonomous” republics within the
Russian Federation that wanted to secede. The two against Chechnya were simply battles
between one authoritarian régime, Putin’s, against an Islamic one.
That
is something Putin understands. As he noted in his Times Op-Ed:
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.
Putin
was exercising a bit of diplomatic courtesy by not naming who was supplying the
“rebels” with weapons: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United States.
His
forces invaded Georgia,
nominally an independent nation, over its policies in dealing with the
“breakaway” republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Light operas and
satirical plays were once written about the interminable squabbles in the
Balkans. No one is composing librettos about the bitter conflicts between
Russia and what were once the “autonomous” Socialist Republics of the
late Soviet Union. There are no “good guys” in any of these conflicts
whose side one can take.
At
5’7″
, Putin is a short man, but a combination of a state-controlled Stalinist
personality cult for “public relations” purposes and a strong streak
of personal narcissism show him flying fighter jets, shooting tigers, competing
in martial arts contests, fishing, hunting, swimming, and engaging in other
“manly” activities, many of them bare-chested. The only picture
missing is of Putin wresting with a bear, or dancing with wolves. All together,
Putin’s photo-ops are better than Obama’s golfing photo-ops. You’ll never see a
picture of Putin in a sand-trap.
Which
is what Obama found himself in over his “red line” remarks.
Putin’s
Russia is not a place to practice freedom of speech. The number of journalists,
rights activists and other individuals who have been murdered or assassinated for
practicing it is high, and that shouldn’t be startling. Imagine a member of the
Al Capone gang suddenly advocating repeal of the 18th
Amendment
to his bosses. He would soon be sleeping with the fishes.
 Stanislav Markelov, a civil
rights attorney representing the family of a woman who was murdered in Chechnya
by a Russian tank commander, and protesting
the early release of that man from a ten-year sentence, was shot in killed in
central Moscow, together with Anastasia
Baburova
, a 25-year-old journalist trainee as they left a press conference about
the early release. The tank commander, Yuri
Budanov
, did not get to enjoy his freedom too long; he was himself assassinated
in Moscow.
Alexander
Litvinenko
, a former FSB (or KGB) officer, defected from Russia when he
protested the rampant corruption in the Russian government. He was poisoned in London
in a restaurant where he met someone who claimed to have information about the
murder of a Russian
journalist
, Anna
Politkovskaya
that same year, 2006. He died of thallium poisoning.
Natalya
Estemirova
, a civil rights activist for Chechnya, was kidnapped and shot in
2009, probably at the behest of a Putin appointee in Grozny, Chechnyan
President Ramzan Kadyrov. As the Telegraph story relates:
In the past 10 months many of his rivals have been
found dead after killings in Vienna, Istanbul, Dubai and Moscow.
Paul
Klebnikov
was an editor for Forbes-Russia in Moscow. He was investigating corruption
in the Russian government, specifically in connection with expatriate and business
“oligarch” Boris
Berezovsky
, who fled to Britain years before. He was shot. Berezovsky, who
once cast aspersions on Klebnikov’s articles on Russian corruption, himself met
with a dubious death, either by hanging or drowning in his bathtub, after he
voiced support for Paul Litvinenko.
Yuri Shchekochikhin,
and editor writing about the corruption in Russian government, suffered a
gruesome assassination, having ingested a poison that shut down all his bodily
functions one by one and causing his skin to peel off.
There must be dozens more such murders committed
under Putin’s régime that have not caught the attention of journalists (or of politicians)
in the West. Many of the killings are attributed to the Russian
“Mafia,” which, from all the available evidence, acts as a kind of
“enforcer” arm for Putin’s government and leaves out any role of the
FSB.
And that is but a partial exposé of Vladimir Putin,
our latest “man of peace.” Not exactly a laughing matter.
Russia not only has a close relationship with
Syria’s Assad, but has maintained very cordial relations with Iran, as well. It
built Iran’s first nuclear reactor and has offered to build Iran another. Putin
met with Iranian President Hassan Rowhani to offer him S-300 missiles In
fact, Iran
is helping to train Syrian “rebels.”
So, we are not only helping to arm the Al Queda-linked
Syrian “rebels,” but may be working shoulder-to-shoulder with the
troops from another implacable enemy of the U.S., Iran, to overthrow Assad’s régime.
In the meantime, Saudi Arabia has also sent arms to
the Syrian “rebels” in a continuing bid to shift the outcome of the
conflict in the Saudis’ favor. As the New
York Times
reported last February:
The Iranian arms transfers
have fueled worries among Sunni Arab states about losing a step to Tehran in
what has become a regional contest for primacy in Syria between Sunni Arabs and
the Iran-backed Assad government and Hezbollah of Lebanon.
What it boils down to is a contest between the Sunni
branch of Islam and the Shi’ite branch to decimate a despised third Islamic sect,
the Alawites. Assad is an Alawite, and so is his régime.
Try and figure out why Barack Obama would want to
step into this religious mess and ongoing bout for supremacy. It isn’t just
about chemical weapons.
It is about ideology. And Obama has had his clock
cleaned by Putin and the rest of them.

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2 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    The Black Hand—a good slap in the face to a murderer who belongs in jail.

    After a review of Putin's crimes against Russians, I was left wondering if Putin has been Ozero's role model. Ozero sure seems to be following in his footsteps when it comes to transgressions against Americans. Or are they just competing? Any minute now, I'm expecting the Noble Peace Prize to be announced for Putin.

  2. Edward Cline

    It isn't beyond fantasy that Putin would at least be nominated for the rather worthless and meaningless "Peace Prize." After all, Yassir Arafat got one, too.

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