What Putin Wants in Syria
show comments
  • Cunctator

    Laidi’s analysis is bang on, anf at the same time both obvious and predictable. Did Obama and those idiots in his administration, including the incredibly incompetent Secretary of State, really believe that Russia (and China, for that matter) would forget about the imaginative reading of previous UN resolutions to support another on Syria? Remember the saying — “fool me once, shame on you: fool me twice, shame on me”? Well, Putin and his gang are not going to be fooled twice.

    And let’s also note that Russia is very likely correct in their analysis of events on the ground in Syria. So far, US support for the Arab uprisings has yielded an uncertain situation in Tunisia, an Islamist president in Egypt, and a civil war in Libya. With that track record, Washington is in no place to lecture anyone about the best policy toward Damascus.

  • Andrew Allison

    “Russians consider help to people struggling against oppressive leaders as a façade to hide ulterior political or commercial motives.” Come, come now!
    Let’s not confuse Russians with their fraudulently elected government. More importantly, let’s not pretend that any struggle against oppressive leaders is perceived as a threat to the oppressive leadership of Russia.

  • Andrew Allison

    More importantly, let’s not pretend that any struggle against oppressive leaders is NOT perceived as a threat to the oppressive leadership of Russia.
    Sorry about that (a single edit of comments by the author would be a nice feature)

  • Brendan Doran

    “What matters to them is that the international system should rest on the sovereignty of states.” As well it should.

    You’re suffering from RISK/Game of Thrones syndrome Professor. It’s shot through all your books as well. It ends in War. And until we can face the ugliness of war – we can’t – we can’t win them. We just left a barely favorable end in Iraq because we had the good fortune to face a stupidly bloodthirsty Takfiri enemy. We have no good end in Afghanistan – although things are looking up because we seem to have quietly put our mind to killing lots of the enemy. We’re still leaving. The other pressing matter we should address is whether we wish to continue the path of Hegemony/Empire, if so we have to accept the consequences. We can’t. By consequences I mean – to subdue Syria for instance – we’re going to have to KILL a lot more than 20,000. Not only would we need to accept that..we need to be quite comfortable with it. This would be a comfort level with a State Dept staffed until very recently with those propounding a strangely maternal idea of warfare.. “No Kill Zones”..responsibility to protect..and so on.

    And Russia of course has to deal with the wreckage we leave in our wake. Their not alone.

    We’re not facing a Global or even serious threat in terms of nations. Let’s not make one.

  • What is Israel’s position? Haven’t heard.

  • Russians consider help to people struggling against oppressive leaders as a façade to hide ulterior political or commercial motives.

    They think that, because that is what they do when such opportunities arise.

    What matters to them is that the international system should rest on the sovereignty of states.

    And that dictators and democrats have the same level of respect for their respective sovereignty … the moral equivalence that has protected the former, despite their illegitimacy as a vehicle of governance, since Lenin took over – and Progressives became a significant force in foreign policy.

  • Earl of Sandwich

    If the Russians are so afraid of Islamization and radicalization in the Cauacaus why do they help Iran get nukes?

  • Brendan Doran

    @Rich Rivet et al: We the United States of America lack the stomach for war. Hence we should avoid it when possible.

    If we replace the Assads, to control Syria we would have to become the Assads.

  • Cunctator

    Russian support for an oppressive government like Assad’s is not motivated by moral support for that form of governance as some here have suggested. It is classic Realpolitik. Islamism poses a very serious threat to Russia. When that is combined by a desire to maintain some influence in the MidEast, it is no wonder that Moscow still supports Damascus.

    And, by the way, do you think regimes around the world will soon forget which country has supported its allies through thick and thin? The US that tossed Mubarak overboard after a thirty year alliance? or Moscow that has stood by Assad’s regime? Governments have memories, as well as interests. That doesd not make Russian policy any more palatable: but it does suggest an internal logic. What is the explanation for US policy these days?

  • Cunctator … I never said that the Russians are motivated by morality in this regard.

    They find the moral equivalence I described … when held by others … as conveniently keeping the doors open for their realpolitik, while also reducing the probability that their realpolitik will face the moral scrutiny of others.

  • Brendan … free people wouldn’t have to emulate the Assads, in order to remove them and prevent another set from taking their place.

    Yes, you will have to be ruthless with some … those who take up arms against an effort to establish rights-respecting governance to replace them … but unlike the Assads, that can be a precision-guided ruthlessness that has a flip side – protection of those who simply wish to live free and pursue happiness, like they have never been protected before.

    No Better Friend … No Worse Enemy.

    It turned al-Anbar, then the rest of Iraq, around. It can work here … if not only America, but free people around the world show the resolve to stand up for it.

  • AK

    No matter what we or Russians want, by all indicators, Assad’s days are coming to an end followed, most likely, by even greater chaos in Syria. Russian foreign policy with regard to Syria is just as feckless as ours (albeit in a different way) as it’s based on the denial of the reality. They can’t help their man in Damscus, but their attempts to protect him will not be forgotten by those who’ll eventually replace Assad. This is no realpolitik — it’s just stubborn stupidity. And, so much for our “smart diplomacy” and the “reset” with Russia.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.