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No Mr. Nice Guy, But Is Putin's Syria View More Realistic Than Obama's?

Posted: 08/09/2013 17:26

If the US attacks Syria on its own, it won't be the first time in a solo operation after a British rejection. UK politicians have short memories when trumpeting the Special Relationship.

Some may recall Bill Clinton's first foreign trip as President was to the UK to seek support for operations to end the bloodbath in Bosnia after four years of carnage and NATO/UN fence sitting.

The Tory government of the day sent him packing empty handed. Undeterred, Clinton pressed on an in 1995 got the UN and NATO to approve Operation Deliberate Force, a brief air campaign that in effect ended the war there after four years of the world watching massacre after massacre.http://journals.hil.unb.ca/index.php/jcs/article/view/11670/12397

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin's main complaint about America's planned attack on Syria is that's it's another example of attempted regime change, this time on an ally of his. And he makes a good point even though Bosnia and Kosovo were exceptions. Those were two mainly humanitarian involvements where capitalism and the world economy weren't directly threatened.

America, as well as most nations, attempt to court favour with other countries which may do them some good. But most nations don't have the power and political clout to get rid of nasty national leaders they don't like. The USA does. The problem here is many US presidents and most of the population cling to the view that all nations yearn for egalitarian democracy, a grave mistake in the Middle East.

President Obama initially said the US wasn't interested in Syrian regime change through its planned military strike. After all, the US conflict record in Muslim nations isn't something about which to boast. Yet, now word comes that American goals may be expanding. It may finally have dawned on the Pres that simply flinging some missiles at Syria may do more harm than good.

It's beginning to look for more like a case of "in for a penny, in for a pound" (or dollars)...If the US is going to get involved it might as well go all the way. But what would the end game be? That's the big question with more and more rebels aligned to anti western Islamist groups.

Yet, much of this is conjecture and could be a non-starter if Obama gives into EU and Russian pressure to wait until the UN makes its report on the massacre. Unless there are further chemical attacks, the longer the US waits to make its move, it will eventually take on an air of spite rather than justice. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Latest-News-Wires/2013/0907/EU-blames-Assad-for-Syria-chemical-weapons-attack-but-awaits-report-video

Most wars are waged on two levels, the fantasy level to get popular backing and the geo-political level which is the real reason nations make war.

Vietnam was sold to the US public on a Cold War mantra of saving the world, or in that case a small Asian nation, from the evils of communism. In reality it was to preserve American hegemony in that area of Asia.

Desert Storm was to rescue Kuwait from brutal Iraqi aggression. But most people knew oil was the real reason. And since Bosnia had no oil, it took four years of massive bloodletting before NATO finally stepped in militarily.

Oil was also behind NATO's Libya operation and even the Iraq War. Iraq has some of the world's biggest oil reserves.

Do you think NATO would be taking similar action as it did in Libya if Syria was a major oil producer? It's only now, with the war graphically shown daily on television, skyrocketing refugee numbers in neighbouring states and fears among the oil rich Gulf states, that action is being planned.

In light of America's post-Iraq War mess, until the US comes up with a viable replacement scenario for a post-Assad Syria, Putin's stance actually has more validity. And I don't mean his views about who is using chemical weapons. His view is to let the chips fall where they may...He feels without outside help the rebels will eventually lose to his ally Bashir al-Assad, who will restore order to the country by crushing all opposition.

The big advantage Putin has over Obama is he was raised in a country where that level of violence was almost normal. The millions of Russians massacred before, during and after WW2 in a nation where genuine democracy never has had a chance to flourish, has conditioned him to accept the need for dictators. After all, isn't that what he is, in all but name?

Yet, the reality of mass murder in Syria has shocked the world and caused people such as Obama and British PM David Cameron to push for military action. This will prove to be the regime's biggest and most tragic blunder. The only realistic option is a Libyan style no-fly-zone, along with specific bombing targets to even out the playing field.http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2011/sc10200.doc.htm

That still leaves open the biggest question: Who will rule Syria? Putin, with some knowledge, given the Muslim insurgencies in Russia, feels the country without Assad will be far worse than with him. On the other hand, we can't stand by and allow more massacres and millions more refugees.

The problem in Syria is more complex than in Iraq because there are more diverse and belligerent factions who, without Assad, will be at each others throats, in a worse scenario than is currently being played out in Iraq. It's a distinct possibility a second war would take place pitting the Free Syrian Army against unaligned terrorists groups and jihadists.

On top of this, with Assad out of the way jihadists could turn their attention towards Israel, thereby widening the conflict into a regional one.

The imposition of a no-fly-zone in the best chance of setting the stage for negotiations between legitimate Syrian factions in hopes of ending the bloodshed and sending unwelcome non-local jihadists back to their homelands.

 

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