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Russia and Syria
What Putin Wants
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  • Andrew Allison

    I’m reminded of the JV team comment from our vainglorious C-in-C, who is no doubt oblivious to the fact that Putin is running rings around him.

    • Kevin

      But what’s Putin’s golf handicap? Does he get to tango in Argentina?

      • Andrew Allison

        Did you mean to write does he get to Tango in Argentina while terrorists of the religion whose name cannot be spoken are killing innocents in Brussels? Were he not so utterly vainglorious, he might have resisted the opportunity to be made to look ridiculous by a dancer (one may need to be an aficionado (it’s how I met my wife) to realize just how ridiculous — here’s an example of what it should look like: ). The dance originated as men competing with each other in brothels, and is led by the leader, not the follower.

        • Fat_Man

          2 Video Comments! High Five!

  • CaliforniaStark

    So Putin and the Saudis will agree to limit their oil production, and somehow “move the market” despite the present oil glut. This is a great idea, for the American economy — once oil prices hit a certain level, American production will quickly resume at a high level. More money to the U.S., less to the Russian and Saudi economies. Great move by Putin; socialist decision making at its best.

    Am surprised at the claim the Saudis are happy with the results of their intervention in Yemen — many believe it is a quagmire, and Houthis seem to be holding their own. The Saudis are burning through their large reserve fund at an amazing rate; what happens when it runs out? Frankly, it appears the days of the House of Saud may be numbered.

    As far as the claim “The United States has no troops on the ground, is clearly unwilling to commit real resources,” The U.S. put troops and spent over a trillion dollars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Neither intervention can be classified as a success story. Likewise, the Russians intervention in Afghanistan was a failure; the limited western involvement in Libya also would be judged a failure. How does Via Meadia propose the U.S. intervene in Syria successfully?

    • MahmudH

      It’s estimated the Russian and Iranian economies can survive with a lower oil price than the Saudis. That’s the price level the Russians should aim for. But the thing that is really keeping it low at the moment is the slowing of the Chinese economy – that’ll be the first hurdle to be overcome or the whole world is facing a recession.

      • Tom

        That’s rather unlikey, given that the Saudis can produce oil more cheaply than either country.

        • MahmudH

          It’s not the cost per barrel, it’s the financing needs of the government. Iran and Russia have proper economies. Saudi Arabia just has oil and pilgrims. And they can’t run a massive war machine throwing massive welfare at their population off the profits from pilgrim tourists.

    • Angel Martin

      “…it appears the days of the House of Saud may be numbered.”

      one way to permanently increase the oil price is for Putin and Iran to take down the Saudi Monarchy, and fan the flames of the Saudi civil war that follows.

  • Anthony

    Here’s more background: “In the first instance, many officials and analysts do not know what stated U.S. policy is today. After an exhaustive 15-month review of its policy toward Russia, the Obama administration has done very little publicly to discuss its policy toward Russia (Putin), which falls along four lines of effort: (1) counter and deter Russian malign influence, coercion, and aggression; (2) strengthen, build resilience, and reduce the vulnerability of allies and partners; (3) communicate and cooperate with Russia on key global challenges; and (4) preserve the potential for Russia’s integration as a responsible global player.”

    So, what does Putin want and the United States current Russian strategy and policy may yet remain undecipherable.

  • Fat_Man
  • Blackbeard

    “as the price goes up, more and more U.S. shale production becomes viable…”

    You are overlooking the promise Hillary made to shut down fracking in the U.S.

  • Frank Natoli

    The author curiously omits one more variable: there’s almost one trillion barrels of conventionally [and economically] extractible oil under ANWR and Pacific, Gulf and Atlantic coastal areas, which the Democrat in the White House refuses to permit exploitation of. Turn evil “big oil” loose on those tracts and Saudi sheiks will become shoeshine boys.

    • Fat_Man

      Clearly, the best energy policy advice ever came from Sarah Palin: “Drill Here, Drill Now, Drill Everywhere.”

      • Frank Natoli

        I’m not sure that’s the best slogan. Certainly permitting evil “big oil” to drill where evil “big oil” considers there is profitably extractible oil, with suitable consequences for environmental disasters, makes sense. As for the latter, there appears little doubt that BP [talk about confused people, they were calling themselves “Beyond Petroleum”] was criminally negligent in the Gulf spill. It would have been helpful, in terms of preventing further negligence, to invite the CEO of BP to spend a few years in a federal penitentiary as penance. Instead, the government acted like the Mob, squeezing BP for a few billion that in no way affected the CEO’s lifestyle.

        • Fat_Man

          That is terrible. In order to prevent accidents we should shut down all oil drilling. The Arabs have plenty of oil. We can get all the oil we need from them.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    “The foundations of world order are more fragile than they look. They aren’t getting any stronger as the Age of Obama wears on.”

    Obama is the Worst President in American History.

    • Fat_Man

      I still think he has a way to go before equals James Buchanan.

      • Dale Fayda

        He’s not out of office yet. Give him a chance – he just might.

    • MahmudH

      As long as he gets through the year without starting ww3, he’ll have done an okay job.

      • Jim__L

        I think you’re setting the bar a little low. America deserves better.

        • MahmudH

          Every nation gets the government they deserve. It’s a law of nature.

          • GR


            Nazi Germany?

            The Soviet Union?

            All those nations in which a small group seized power by force and imposed its will on a reluctant people?

            Kings, tsars, and despots throughout the ages?

            Voiceless women? Races in bondage?

            My goodness.

          • MahmudH

            It’s actually a Quranic teaching. On the day of judgement no one can blame their bad lot in life on an unjust government – the rulers reflect the character of the people. The communists reflected the Russian people’s over propensity to emotional idealism. The Nazis preyed upon the German love of rules. Slavery etc aren’t exactly the same thing, as their masters aren’t really a government of the people – which bureaucratic dictatorships actually are.

          • GR

            While I respect the Quran for its religious teaching, the political wisdom expressed here is questionable at best.

            Primitive human history was a matter of might makes right. The notion that the mighty can be, and must be, constrained by law (founded on the consent of the government) is only three centuries old. That single sentence – ‘derive their powers from the just consent of the governed’ – is the foundation of most of the human progress in the last few generations. The notion that somehow a people get the government they deserve, even when that government is imposed upon them, flies against enlightened thinking.

            Assad’s claim to legitimacy depends on whether his regime is based on consensual government. I believe your view is in the minority on that one.

          • MahmudH

            Consent is a very broad concept. In English contract law, agreement does not have to be spoken, shaken or signed – if people behave like they’ve agreed to a contract, for example by accepting the goods, that is evidence that they have consented, as in accepted, to the terms offered by the supplier. As such in terms of government, anyone who obeys the law, pays their taxes, etc, can be said to have ‘consented’ to government. So consent does not imply democracy. It doesn’t mean the majority voted. It implies a process of law, but not fairness or equality.

            So I think in line with this, America, Russia and Syria all have very comparable systems of government. European social democracies with proportional voting systems, and which prevent the rich buying power, have a somewhat more advances form of government, more worthy of the term democracy. In all cases it reflects the way of thinking of the societies hosting their government. A ruler may beat his opponent with fraud, with lies, with money, with threats or with violence – it does not stop that ruler being a product of the same society. They grew up there, they were educated there, they ate the food, spoke the language, worked there, married there. The way the prize of power is won or lost, with money, with lies, with violence – factually reflects how things are done in the society that is to be ruled.

          • GR

            Consent indeed does not imply democracy, which is why I have schooled myself to use that phrase ‘consensual government’ rather than democracy. However, as a practical matter, the vast majority of consensual governments are democratic. As for the rest, you may opine that the governments of Russia and Syria are consensual, but the vast majority of observers would disagree. Too much force and threat of force in the choice of leader.

            All rulers are products of the society, other than the rare case of an alien conqueror. The fact that a Fascist seizure of power may be home grown does not make it any less Fascist.

          • MahmudH

            How is your claim of force or threat of force measurable? Because the role of money in US politics is very measurable.

          • GR

            The fact that as a historical matter it is not measurable doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. In fact, the most vicious totalitarian states have the least institutional violence, because of the climate of fear engendered.

            It would be wise not to overrate the influence of money in US politics, particularly in a year in which the status quo politics of both parties are being undermined by full, fledged Populist revolts. (I despise Trump, but the powers-that-be would be well advised to listen to the discontents he has unearthed). Despite money, there have been three non-violent revolutions in the US in the last century (Progressives circa 1900-1910, New Deal in 1935, civil rights in the 60’s). The system actually does respond when discontent hits critical mass. The wheel grinds slowly, but exceedingly fine.

          • MahmudH

            The rise of Putin can also be understood as a “non-violent revolution” in Russian politics, he is popular because he is seen as defeating jihadism, reviving the economy, and putting corrupt oligarchs in jail. Russia does not have a climate of fear to speak your mind, Russians are the most outspoken types of people I’ve ever met. They don’t believe in free press, but that’s another problem. Measures of political violence surely have to be quantified, otherwise “democracy” is just a cultural ideology, not a matter of fact.

  • delta 5297

    Sure, maybe the author of this piece would like to answer some questions. Like, how much American blood is he willing to expend to foil Putin’s plans?

  • Cecelia O’brien

    I’d wait and see before I start trumpeting Putin’s genius. He has reached some of his goals – not all – and has avoided the quagmire. But he may yet have to go back to Syria. He has left behind a still chaotic and suffering Syria, a huge feud with Turkey and Saudi Arabia (with whom he needs to collaborate to keep oil prices up) and a furious Sunni diaspora that may yet try to exact revenge. So he may not be the winner he appears to be.

    • MahmudH

      Disagree about the “furious Sunni diaspora”. Most Sunnis are against jihadis. Polls say the Muslim population of Russia are even more supportive of Putin’s intervention than the non-muslim population. Both Egypt and Jordan have been quietly supporting Russia’s intervention. It’s only the extremists – the pro-Saudi Wahabis and the Muslim Brotherhood – who are angry with Russia.

  • Fat_Man

    “Russia, meanwhile, has beaten its enemies, protected its friends, and consistently made the United States look stupid, vainglorious and weak.”

    Well, Obama at any rate.

  • FriendlyGoat

    From what I hear, what Putin would like is Donald Trump as American president.

  • MahmudH

    Russia is going to continue to see Saudi Arabia as a strategic rival, because Saudi remains most closely allied to the USA, with many US military bases, and Saudi’s exports of Wahabism conflicts with Russia’s strategic goal of ending jihadi terrorism. So although they may cooperate to raise oil prices a little, Russia will want to continue working with Saudi Arabia’s opponents – including Iran – in stamping out wahabi jihadis in the Middle East and Central Asia.

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