September 13, 2013

Putin "cares about power and he cares about keeping Bashar al-Assad in power."

"Assad is the key link in the anti-Western Shiite crescent stretching from Tehran through Damascus and Beirut to the Mediterranean — on which sits Tartus, Russia’s only military base outside the former Soviet Union. This axis frontally challenges the pro-American Sunni Arab Middle East (Jordan, Yemen, the Gulf Arabs, even the North African states), already terrified at the imminent emergence of a nuclear Iran."

That's Krauthammer's matter-of-fact invitation to Americans take the old Sunni-Shiite division to heart as the continuation of the old-but-less-old Cold War. The column is called "The fruits of epic incompetence," blaming Obama and Kerry for giving Putin the opening:
Assad, far from receiving punishment of any kind, goes from monster to peace partner. Putin bestrides the world stage, playing dealmaker. He’s welcomed by America as a constructive partner....

And Obama gets to slink away from a Syrian debacle of his own making.
Elsewhere in The Washington Post, Ezra Klein puts the pro-Obama gloss on same facts:
A lot of people have wondered why Russia and Syria seem to be working to throw the Obama administration a lifeline. But the answer is clear: Assad only cares about his chemical weapons insofar as they help keep him in power. Sacrificing them to end the threat the U.S. poses to his regime is more than worth it to him.

28 comments:

donald said...

Hence the term juice box pundit.

Rocketeer said...

Sacrificing them to end the threat the U.S. poses to his regime is more than worth it to him.

Even better from his perspective when at the end of the day, he won't have to sacrifice them at all.

Our president is a dope, and he picked a dope as Secretary of State, and this whole debacle was so forseeable, and so avoidable, and has so damaged us that I actually think he should be impeached and removed for it - but I have an expansive view of what "high crimes and misdemeanors" means.

Robert Cook said...

Krauthammer is funny. (Not.) He acts as if America is not interested in power, when that is our primary, if not only, interest. Whatever Putin's motives, he is the voice of reason in this matter, and the Obama administration is not.

William said...

I have read that the Syrian refugees in the camps blame America for their plight. Not Iran or Russia, but America....I don't understand why this is so, but that's the way it works. Obama has been clumsy and inept, but that's not the problem. They're the problem. All sides. All of them.

lgv said...

I agree with both CK and EK. This is one of the few times I would say that EK is not putting a pro-Obama spin on his post. He's usually spinning for Obama faster than a hamster on a wheel.

He didn't finish to a logical conclusion. He just ends with a point. Obama stops arming the opposition and Assad stays entrenched in power against Obama's stated wishes, or the deal never happens, which makes Obama look like, well...

Illuninati said...

"the anti-Western Shiite crescent stretching from Tehran through Damascus and Beirut to the Mediterranean — on which sits Tartus, Russia’s only military base outside the former Soviet Union. This axis frontally challenges the pro-American Sunni Arab Middle East"

Krauthammer's statement shows he doesn't understand Islam. If anything, the Sunni Muslims are more anti-Western than the Shia. Mot of the military attacks against Europe over the past 1,000 years up to this moment, including 9-11 and the Boston bombings were launched by Sunni Muslims, not Shias. Much of the aggression, slave trafficking and anti-Semitism in Islam comes from the Sunni Hadiths. The Shia have rejected the Sunni Hadiths and rely on another set. This does not make the Shias moderate by any means but compared to the Sunnis the appear moderate.

Khomeini took the country of Iran down a dark path. Many Iranians strongly reject that path but when they put their lives on the line to effect political change in their country, our country was not willing to help them, even with political support.

Putin clearly understands the political landscape of the Middle East much better than most Americans.

elkh1 said...

What a shock that a politician cares about power, and cares about his client stay in power!

What a greater shock that a politician was so incompetent and totally impotent in asserting the Great Satan's power!

Even a toady speaks the truth sometimes: "A lot of people have wondered why Russia and Syria seem to be working to throw the Obama administration a lifeline."

Who needs a lifeline? A person drowning surely needs one.

Obama fell into his own deep shit and couldn't get up, he screamed and cried, his minions were helpless. Who pulled him out? Putin and Assad. The most humiliating part was he needed Assad to save his ass.

Rocketeer said...

He acts as if America is not interested in power, when that is our primary, if not only, interest.

Cook is funny. (Not). He acts as though power, in and of itself, is evil. It's not. Bumbling and wrong as America has been in the past, in the context of history (yes, it matters) it has exhibited a relative benignity and active good while exercising its power. Whether Putin is the accidental voice of reason in this matter or not (by the way, he is not; he's just successfully demagoguing and rolling an idiot), Russia has not.

Almost Ali said...

Whether by hook, or crook, or just plain dumb luck, I favor Obama's new-found laisser-faire approach to Syria. Because as long as he's commander-in-chief, any foreign involvement is the likely precursor to war. Possibly a world war.

So, we're politically defeated for the next three years, and maybe longer with the election of yet another liberal. Big deal. Half the country wants it this way, so, so what. Besides, our abdication of the Mideast only accelerates our domestic oil production - leaving any future conservative American president the latitude to bomb OPEC at will.

In the meantime, all efforts must be made to keep Obama off the world stage. He's just too dangerous, especially now that the world has his number.

Tank said...

Ezra Klein thinks that Assad is really going to give up his chemical weapons.

I'd put up $100 that he won't, but how would we ever know the truth?

gk1 said...

Liberals are incapable of learning from experience it seems. Dictator's don't keep their word, never have, never will. I am pretty sure Assad is not worried about the tut-tutting from easily duped liberals like Ezra and Obama if he reneges on the deal after he has safely dispatched the rebels.

Sam L. said...

Ezra done drunk de Kool-Aid. We knew dat.

Of course the refugees blame us. Everybody's doing it.

BarrySanders20 said...

That's right, IGV. Obama agreed to stop arming the opposition (whihc he must keep quiet) in exchange for Assad saying he'd work to give up his chemical weapons, and then Assad came out and demanded that Obama stop arming the rebels, as if he caused it by his demand.

Assad snickers and thinks he's got the better deal because he'll never give up all of his chemical weapons. Obama lets him think that because Obama will never stop srming the rebels.

No American bombing, Assad stays in power, the civil war continues as we supply the rebels. The only thing Assad gave up is that Russia now likely has veto power over any further use of chemical weapons. I think Assad had to promise that to Putin.

So status quo in Syria, except Assad can't use chemical weapons without Russia's blessing, and Obama lost a lot of personal and national influence in the process.

Cedarford said...

Tank said...
Ezra Klein thinks that Assad is really going to give up his chemical weapons.

I'd put up $100 that he won't, but how would we ever know the truth

===================
Certain right-wingers remain convinced that "vast quantities of Iraqi WMD" remain hidden or left the country. Just as many onthe far right are convinced that Hero POWs are still kept in a hollow mountain as ex-Green Beret Hero Bo Gritz claimed..

And that "Freedom-Hating" Muslims have several "suitcase nukes" and are poised to strike at any moment/

Problem is you can never "prove" absence.

It keeps conspiracy fans going.

Saint Croix said...

"Assad is the key link in the anti-Western Shiite crescent stretching from Tehran through Damascus and Beirut to the Mediterranean — on which sits Tartus, Russia’s only military base outside the former Soviet Union. This axis frontally challenges the pro-American Sunni Arab Middle East (Jordan, Yemen, the Gulf Arabs, even the North African states), already terrified at the imminent emergence of a nuclear Iran."

It's obscene to say Yemen is "pro-American." Here's Yemen.

And it's ridiculous to say that Sunni dictators are pro-American. Saudi Arabia spends millions of oil dollars to spread an intolerant Wahabi version of Islam around the globe. You think the Wahabi fundamentalists who did 9/11 are more pro-American than the Shiite fundamentalists who overran our embassy in Iran?

Both of these hard-line versions of Islam hate us. And there are passages in the Koran that support any crazy thing that Islamic people do.

For instance, they take child brides in Yemen because Muhammad took a child bride.

An important key for us is to get Islamic people off any strict interpretation of the Koran. The Islamic holy book was written in a time of war and some of its commands are violent.

Instead of simply declaring that Islam "is a religion of peace," we should figure out ways to help Islam make that transformation. We must strive to help Islam move away from any rule-bound or literal interpretation of the Koran.

So it's perfectly clear who we should support: Sufis.

Sufi Islam is the spiritual version of Islam, one that abandons the rule-bound or literal approach.

When we talk about pro-American Islam, or moderate Islam, or peace-loving Islam, we are talking about Sufis.

Even Sufis who do not love the USA are peaceful people. The Sufis teach tolerance for other religions and other people, as well as spirituality.

They like to dance! They like music, and they drink alcohol.

Here is Buzzfeed, quoting Rumi, a 13th century Sufi from Iran.

Even if you think Sufi mysticism is ridiculous, it's far better for us than fanatical, rule-bound Islam. It's hard to imagine Rumi coming out of Iran today.

More about Sufis here

Illuninati said...

Blogger Cedarford said...

"Certain right-wingers remain convinced that "vast quantities of Iraqi WMD" remain hidden or left the country. Just as many onthe far right are convinced that Hero POWs are still kept in a hollow mountain as ex-Green Beret Hero Bo Gritz claimed."

Thanks for the information Cedarford. It is nice to know that conspiracy theories are the domain of the right. Perhaps we can assume that when lefties detect conspiracies, like the conspiracy by Jews to blow up the twin towers and blame the Muslims, they are not conspiracy theories because they are truth not theories?

Illuninati said...

Saint Croix said:
"So it's perfectly clear who we should support: Sufis"

Excellent post Saint Croix. My own study confirms that the Sufis are the closest thing to a major moderate Muslim sect. They divert some of their energy from jihad into mysticism. The Hindus tell me that Sufis are less dangerous than the other Muslims but they are still dangerous none the less.

I'm not sure where you learned that Sufis are less literalistic than the other Muslims. The site you linked mentions that al-Ghazali was a Sufi. It is my understanding that al-Ghazali was the philosopher who led Islam into the literalism which has plagued the religion ever since. Al-Ghazali brought the Sufis into mainstream Sunni Islam by stipulating that the literal interpretation of the Koran and Hadiths is correct. Sufis are just as literalistic as Sunnis since they are Sunnis. After they accept the literal interpretation they add the mythical interpretations as additional adornments.

Drago said...

Cook: "Whatever Putin's motives, he is the voice of reason in this matter, and the Obama administration is not."

LOL

Cookie loves him some old-fashioned commie-KGB power plays.

It has always been thus.

Lydia said...

Isn't saying we should promote sufism like saying we should work to have kabbalah replace traditional Judaism?

Sounds nonsensical on the face of it.

The Godfather said...

I can't help it: I feel sorry for Obama. Putin has spanked him before the entire world, and all Obama can say is "Give me another one, sir."

Where does he go to get his manhood back?

jr565 said...

Gk1 wrote:
Liberals are incapable of learning from experience it seems. Dictator's don't keep their word, never have, never will. I am pretty sure Assad is not worried about the tut-tutting from easily duped liberals like Ezra and Obama if he reneges on the deal after he has safely dispatched the rebels


I know hat and you know that. Ad Obama should know that. But do the republicans who say Syria having chemical weapons and using them and who now say we need to work with Russia know that?

If you know tht what should we counsel Obama as to what he SHOULD do. We're definitely going to hold him accountable for what he won't do.

jr565 said...

Almost Ali wrote:
Whether by hook, or crook, or just plain dumb luck, I favor Obama's new-found laisser-faire approach to Syria. Because as long as he's commander-in-chief, any foreign involvement is the likely precursor to war. Possibly a world war.

So, we're politically defeated for the next three years, and maybe longer with the election of yet another liberal. Big deal. Half the country wants it this way, so, so what. Besides, our abdication of the Mideast only accelerates our domestic oil production - leaving any future conservative American president the latitude to bomb OPEC at will.

In the meantime, all efforts must be made to keep Obama off the world stage. He's just too dangerous, especially now that the world has his number.

if you think giving Russia power is a bad thing then you shouldn't counsel that we must capitulate to Russia because Obama is in power. And we have to wait three years to make the right policies that deal with the threats we ace. I don't know for sure that we will get the White House in htree years,and if we make ourselves take three steps back just because its Obama in the White House, the next president will have to deal with us three steps further back then we had to be..

Russia is playing us. We know this. We know exactly how Russia is doing it. So then why counsel that the only smart policy is to continue operating under the assumption that Russia has won and that such a course is inevitable. If we continue to let Russia dictate the terms, then of course that will be the outcome. But we shouldn't allow this by choice.

Especially if we are saying Obama should make this choice so that we can show that Obama is a weakling.

I already know that. I want Obama to change course so that this dynamic is not a self fulfilling prophecy.if republicans are now the ones saying policies that strenghen Russia at our expense are smart policies, then what is the point of voting for Republicans in the future?

Right now its really the libertarian wing of the republican party that is pushing American weakness, and Obama threatening to promote American strength (badly). If OBama fails at that then it just shows that he's a weakling but its also the exact policy that the libertarians are saying we should do. So how is that not libertarians arguing for American weakness?


Rand Paul saying that American credibility doesn't reside in one man (when discussing the idea that a president not backing up his words with actions is a dangerous thing) is an extremely dangerous thing for a presidential aspirant to utter. Such a man does not inspire me that he would be a president that backed up his words with action. Do his words inspire you?

jr565 said...

Cedarford wrote:
"Certain right-wingers remain convinced that "vast quantities of Iraqi WMD" remain hidden or left the country. Just as many onthe far right are convinced that Hero POWs are still kept in a hollow mountain as ex-Green Beret Hero Bo Gritz claimed..

And that "Freedom-Hating" Muslims have several "suitcase nukes" and are poised to strike at any moment/

Problem is you can never "prove" absence.

It keeps conspiracy fans going."



And certain left wingers were convinced that Syria didnt have chemical weapons and that the only reason people were saying that they did was in furtherance of JEW policies.
The neocons were liars and warmongers because they say that Syria had chemical weapons and were lying about.
Only now we know that Syria was lying about not possessing said weapons, thus showing that the neocons and Israel were right all along. Would they be arguing for war against Syria if there wasn't the perception that Syria had chemical weapons?
That perception is the reality, and your "conspiracy theories" are real.
The conspiracy theory is that America is a dupe of Israel only believing that chemical weapons in Syria are real because they are dupes of Israel who are trying to spread their Zionism.

And this action proves you and all the left wing anti war crowd were the useful idiots all along.



jr565 said...

BarrySanders20 wrote:
No American bombing, Assad stays in power, the civil war continues as we supply the rebels. The only thing Assad gave up is that Russia now likely has veto power over any further use of chemical weapons. I think Assad had to promise that to Putin.


The other thing that Syria gave up is the fact that they had chemical weapons which they denied having. As the Russian plan falls through, because its based on terms ht will never pass we are then left with a rogue regime that controls chemical weapons which aren't in the hands of the international community and which were used on the population. I don't see how that stands long term.

It would be different if Syria the argument was that Syria might have chemical weapons. Because if it wasn't a certainty then there is always a potential doubt and so the international community would be reluctant to authorize an action that might be wrong.

But now we have a Syria that DOES have chemical weapons with certainty and Russia using its veto to protect that regime.

cokaygne said...

William, the refugees blame us because 0bama has been hinting for years that he is going to do something in Syria, "Assad must go", "arm the rebels", "red line", all empty words.

By the way, you youngsters should realize that John Foster Dulles, a Republican Secretary of State, did the same thing to eastern Europeans when they rebelled agains the Soviets.

cokaygne said...

Krauthammer's "Sunnis good, Shiites bad" rhetoric is outrageous.

i think many Americans want no part of wars involving the "religion of peace." Their policy might be, "let them kill each other and Allah will sort out the good guys, if any."

John Lynch said...

Obama lied. People died.

William said...

@cokaygne: I take your point, but I don't think anyone in Poland or Hungary hated us worse than they hated the Russians.....,There must have been many people in Iraq, besides the Kurds, who rejoiced to see Saddam overthrown. But can you point to anyone in Iraq who is grateful to us for having done so.....I think Assad is bad guy and that something bad should happen to him. But I'm under no illusion that there is anything we can do, for or against or neutral, that will cause anyone in Syria to offer thanks to us. I just don't understand why Russia and Iran with their principled support of the gassing of liltle children don't receive the kind of condemnation in the Arab world that was caused by our water boarding of three prisoners,