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  •  If Putin didn't veto U.S. UN action, China would (5+ / 0-)

    Aside from re-phrasing some cold war-era talking points, I don't understand what point you're trying to make here, frankly.

    Syria ain't Chechnya.

    No, IMHO, the neocons and conservatives (in both parties) are making it all about Putin/Russia and al Qaeda. Objective observers are noting it is a proxy war; and the "rebels" are heavily influenced by al Qaeda, for sure.

    The U.S. has, historically (over the past 30+/- yrs, in any event) shifted its allegiances (back and forth, as the situation warranted it) as far as al Qaeda's/Taliban is concerned.

    Read tonight's Reuters article, IMHO, which I've blockquoted, above, for one of the more objective pieces I've read on the subject in the past few days.

    Have you bothered to do any research on Tartous (Tartus)? It's the only remaining base for Russia outside of Russia. It's comprised of a couple of warehouses, a tiny barracks and some sheds, for all intents and purposes. There are, roughly, a dozen people there at any given time.  (I believe there are even fewer there now.) Look it up on Wikipedia.

    Russia's a shell of what the U.S.S.R. was. It's basically an energy-producing state, nowadays.

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 12:28:34 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  OK (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Well I'm actually making the opposite case, that Syria is a lot like Chechnya, and that Assad's mentor will run interference for him while he reprises the brutal suppression of an insurgency using the same methods of authoritarian intimidation. That's exactly what I'm saying.

      Not sure what you are saying about the 'proxy' argument, frankly, but it seems the long and short of our perception and in reality there are plenty of Islamist Syrian insurgents whom probably deserve sympathy on the grounds of being victims of a totalitarian regime. And there are plenty who are salafist fanatics too, mostly from outside Syria or fighting with foreign led groups. Enough that the US has an almost impossible obstacle in supporting the insurgency. And yeah Russia has some kudos from Iran and Hezbollah for fighting the good fight against the Sunnis but it doesn't strike me as the issue they are willing to go to the mat over.

      Let's be clear, a few days ago there were ten Russian warships in the Eastern Mediterranean; that's probably as good a Russian naval showing as we've seen since Tsushima. Sort of kidding there but still.  I agree that the military infrastructure of Russia is still a bit shaky but it is not for want of trying; they are running a considerable military budget. It is a bit frustrating to Putin, to be sure, but if we conceive of the Russian military as it was in the 1990s we are missing the point. Sooner or later it will be capable and the will to use it is already evident.

      As for Tartus there is potential there but it is hardly a strategic base; looking at Russian naval strategy going back to the 19th century they have had a pretty spotty history with forward bases outside of their sovereign borders. Port Arthur, the example that springs to mind, was a disaster in spite of building an overland rail link which just doesn't seem to be an option in this case.

      The Reuters piece is balanced but seems a bit of a summary piece, not sure what you were getting at there but noticed this quote:

      Speaking of the U.S.-Russian deal, Syrian minister Ali Haidar told Moscow's RIA news agency: "These agreements ... are a victory for Syria, achieved thanks to our Russian friends."
      While the airstrikes roll in; terrific. That rather supports the argument I'm making, doesn't it?
    •  Yes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      scott5js, Fogiv
      If Putin didn't veto U.S. UN action, China would.
      That's exactly the point. But why? Sure China is going to be inclined to vote the status quo in the balance of power. But if we are going to operate with the UN as our dispute resolution mechanism we need to learn what motivations might put a little daylight between Russia and China. At the moment they have a lot in common as authoritarian states with potential insurgencies within their own borders.
    •  China (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      scott5js, Fogiv

      While the bear is away the dragon will play:

      Alexander Rahr, research director of the German-Russian Forum and an expert on Russia and Central Asia, believes President Vladimir Putin actively decided to allow the Chinese into the region as a tactical move to keep relations good with its powerful neighbor in the east.

      "I think this was a firm choice, a difficult choice, but it was made," he says. "He cannot afford to have geopolitical battles with NATO and the West on the one hand and, parallel to that, battles with China for influence in Central Asia."

      Kremlin Calm As China's Clout Rises In Russia's Backyard Radio Free Europe 16 Sep 13

      That's the thing about geopolitics, something always has to be allowed to slip away.

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