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Thursday, September 12, 2013


Vladimir Putin has contributed an op-ed to the New York Times, of all venues, and the results are a must-read. He makes a ton of sense -- more-or-less admitting that his ally in Syria, Bashar Assad, is no angel, but also pointing out that the Nusra Front is linked to Al Qaeda. For our purposes, here is (perhaps) the most important bit:
No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.
First I've heard of those reports. Damned clever of Putin to get it on the record in such a public place before it happens. That way, if it does happen, everyone will know where to place the blame.
No matter how targeted the strikes or how sophisticated the weapons, civilian casualties are inevitable, including the elderly and children, whom the strikes are meant to protect.
My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” 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.
The leader of Russia, folks. That's how he talks. Never thought I'd see the day.

Putin is right. The United States is the most religious major nation in the world, yet -- simultaneously -- Americans like to consider themselves better than others. It's not difficult to guess what Jesus would say about that sort of arrogance.

Can one score Putin for hypocrisy? Of course. He hasn't treated gay people as equals. The tradition of Slavic messianism is even older, and even more insidious, than is the idea of American exceptionalism.

But in the end -- so what? Anyone who expresses the sentiment found in Putin's closing statement opens himself up to charges of hypocrisy. That unhappy fact of the human condition doesn't mean that the words should go unsaid.

Added note: The WP offers a hilariously skewed response to Putin. About the paragraph assigning blame for the gas attacks, the WP says:
This is the section of the op-ed that’s drawing by far the most criticism. There is very little reason to believe that rebels carried out the attack but strong circumstantial evidence that chemical weapons were used by the Assad regime. An investigation by Human Rights Watch pointed to the Assad regime as responsible.
Apparently, Human Rights Watch is the go-to source on this, since the U.S. "evidence" has been as thin as onionskin. But as I noted in a previous post, the Human Rights Watch report was inane propaganda.

HRW, in essence, said that the remains of the rockets used "strongly suggests" that the weapons were of the sort held by the Syrian government. But last December, CNN reported that the rebels had targeted Assad's chemical weapons stockpile for capture -- and that they were doing so at the behest of (and with direction from) the United States.

So the HRW report is meaningless. And shame on the Washington Post for tossing that important CNN story down the Orwellian memory hole.

Shame, too, on Marcy Wheeler for deciding that Assad perpetrated a militarily useless attack on civilians, an attack that could only serve the interests of his foes. Cui bono?, Marcy! Don't let the propaganda distract you from asking what is always our first and best question!

What's next, Marcy? You think Oswald was the lone shooter?
i don't get this from reading her comments.. what is it you can quote that states anything like this? thanks
"Shame, too, on Marcy Wheeler for deciding that Assad perpetrated a militarily useless attack on civilians, an attack that could only serve the interests of his foes. Cui bono?, Marcy! Don't let the propaganda distract you from asking what is always our first and best question!"
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You missed it, Anon.

"Like it or not, Putin’s case on most issues save who launched the CW attack on August 21 holds together better than the US case thus far -"

If Marcy wanted to be accurate, she would have crossed out "save" and replaced it with "especially."
i don't see marcy stating that she believes one story over the other, just that one was presented better then the other.. there is a difference and from what i read, she hasn't committed fully to any position.. all she has said is that obama has presented a better case..

personally i don't think their is enough evidence to conclude anything of this fwiw..
I don't know, The more I keep reading about this mess, the more it seems the whole thing is about pipelines and Russia's interest in remaining the big energy suppler to Europe [As opposed to illegal CWs in the area]. There's a contest of wills going on over the Arab pipeline [Saudis and Qatar both seeking to extend into Turkey] and the proposed Islamic pipeline [Iran, Iraq and Syria]. Another round of Sunni/Shia conflict. As long as the region is kept stirred up and pipeline plans foiled, the big winner is . . . Russia!

As much as I dislike what our own American pols have been doing behind the curtains, I don't trust Putin any further than I can spit. Yes, he wrote a decent essay and once again stuck his thumb into the US/Obama eye. He's taken advantage of a PR coup which POTUS walked himself into and nearly embroiled the country in another war--something IMHO could be catastrophic for everyone. To Obama's credit, he slowed it down and Putin threw the lifesaver.

I suspect we're only looking at the surface of something that is once again about energy resources and who or what will be King of the Mountain.

The whole thing makes my head hurt!

This appears to be a fabrication, Joseph, but I would appreciate your views. The claim is that the Russians shot down one of two missiles fired from Spain and directed at Syria. Looks like a fabrication to me.
peggysue, there is a good presentation of the arguments on the oil issue here:
Thanks for the link, penultima. I've bookmarked it. But just a quick scan and the article seems to reiterate what I've been reading elsewhere.

Things are never as simple as we'd like them to be. Guess I need to commit that fact to memory. There appears to be layers and layers when it comes to foreign policy. Some of which are very unattractive!

Thanks again.

All countries including ours proudly confess to looking out for their own best interests. Best interests are usually about power over natural resourses or delivery of such resources or manipulation of such resources.
Putin has all those motives as he should. I fail to see the mystery.
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