Putin’s Judo Move in Syria

Exclusive: Official Washington loves to hate Russian President Putin, especially when he obstructs a neocon “regime change” scheme, with that animus now focused on Putin’s concern that overthrowing Syria’s government would risk a disastrous victory by the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, says Daniel Lazare.

By Daniel Lazare

After delivering arms to Bashar al-Assad’s besieged government in Syria and meeting with the leaders of Turkey, Israel and Palestine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has again made headlines by negotiating an agreement with Iraq, Iran and Syria to share intelligence about the growing threat from the Islamic State.

Washington was taken aback to see the U.S.-installed government in Iraq joining in the initiative.  So was The New York Times, which for days had taken part in a White House-orchestrated campaign to poke fun at Putin and to make light of his efforts against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

After a series of increasingly silly articles accusing the Russian leader of “play[ing] the statesman” in order to distract his countrymen from a sinking ruble and acting as a wannabe “man of action” plagued by feelings of “insecurity and fear of displaying weakness,” Michael R. Gordon, the Times’ in-house hawk, was reduced to arguing that Putin’s real goal in Syria is to attack “opposition fighters who are focused on battling Mr. Assad’s government and who are also backed by the United States.”

It was a last-ditch effort to discredit a leader who has convinced three major players in the Middle East that his anti-ISIS credentials are genuine. But since the U.S. is obviously befuddled by Russia’s foray into Middle East politics, it seems appropriate to ask: what is Putin really up to? If he is clearly more than the Russian Walter Mitty that the Times has made him out to be, then what is his real goal in Syria to combat ISIS or something more?

A clue comes from the same Times news analysis depicting Putin as a would-be superhero filled with fear and insecurity.  “Although he liked to portray himself as a young tough raised in Leningrad,” reporter Steven Lee Myers wrote in the Sunday Opinion section, “he took up martial arts as a slight boy, by his own account, to protect himself from courtyard bullies.”  Whether or not the strategy worked judo’s real-life effectiveness is subject to debate it may provide insight into his diplomatic strategy.

After all, judo rests on the idea that a smaller, weaker person can use his opponent’s size and strength to his own advantage. Although Russia still controls a formidable nuclear arsenal, its power has obviously faded from Soviet days, and it is plainly no match for the U.S., whose military expenditures, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, outrank it by better than seven to one.

So what should Russia do against the world’s sole remaining superpower? The answer is to take a lesson from the judo handbook and wait for the right moment to use America’s clout against it. That moment may be now. Washington has obliged Putin by painting itself into a corner in not just one, but two crisis zones, eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Driving East  

The first is a result of America’s own drang nach osten, the German drive to the east that culminated in Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Decades later, version 2.0 has taken NATO right up to Russia’s doorstep.

As ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern has shown the legendary Texas fixer James Baker, George H.W. Bush’s secretary of state, assured Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 that if he said yes to German reunification under NATO auspices, there would be “no expansion of NATO jurisdiction to the east, not one inch.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “How NATO Jabs Russia on Ukraine.”]

Yet beginning in 1994, after the Soviet Union had collapsed, Bill Clinton declared that NATO should “should enlarge steadily, deliberately, openly,” while Republicans pushed for an even more aggressive policy. Beginning in 1999, NATO thus signed up a dozen new members, three of them Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania bordering on Russia directly.

Coupled with the unprecedented social and economic collapse under Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Zbigniew Brzezinski’s call in his 1997 bestseller The Grand Chessboard for breaking up Russia into three separate parts and surrounding it with a ring of hostile states, the effect was to trigger alarms across the Russian Federation.

But the effect was not only to ratchet up Russian fears, but trigger a nationalist chain reaction across the entire region. At the prodding of super-hawk Sen. John McCain, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili launched an “ill-planned reconquista” of the breakaway province of South Ossetia, which led to a thorough thrashing at the hands of the Russian military.

Plans for Ukraine’s entry into NATO continued apace despite a confidential warning by William J. Burns, the U.S. ambassador to Moscow, that “the issue could potentially split the country in two, leading to violence or even, some claim, civil war, which would force Russia to decide whether to intervene.”

In December 2013, with Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland bragging that Washington had “invested more than $5 billion” to steer Ukrainian politics in a pro-U.S. direction, the stage was set for the Maidan protests and the country’s final splintering. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Neocons and the Ukraine Coup.”]

Although the Obama administration blamed Russia for the secessionist movements that broke out in the Russian-speaking east, the Ukrainian sociologist Volodymyr Ishchenko argued that the rebellions in Crimea and the Donbas were a “mirror image” of the Maidan protests in the west, driven by the same mix “of just causes and irrational fears.”

Putin saw what was happening and took advantage of it by absorbing the Crimea. But if anyone engineered the crisis, it was the U.S., which aggressively encouraged Ukrainian nationalists to press ahead with their coup d’état.

In Ukraine, the U.S. has found itself backing a government under growing threat from neo-Nazi forces that had spearheaded the Maidan protests. Elsewhere in eastern Europe, the U.S. found itself grappling with a rising tide of nationalism and xenophobia. Presumably, this is not a position that President Obama wanted to be in, but one from which there was no escape.

Cornered in the Mideast

America’s plight in the Middle East is even worse. There, it finds itself at the mercy of two increasingly troublesome allies. The first is Israel, an “ethno-state” straight out of the strife-torn 1930s, as the historian Tony Judt famously argued, one in which Jewish supremacists rule over an Arab majority in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel proper.

For a quarter of a century, the U.S. has gone through the motions of overseeing negotiations for an independent Palestinian state, yet the situation has only deteriorated as the talks have dragged on. Israeli intransigence has been one factor in the ongoing debacle, but so is the sheer impracticality of trying to carve out two separate nations in a strife-torn area roughly the size of Massachusetts.

But America’s other ally Saudi Arabia may even be worse. One of the most dysfunctional states in history, it is both an absolute monarchy and an out-of-control kleptocracy ruled by thousands of princes who siphon off oil revenue, muscle in on local businesses, and jet off to Europe to visit the most exclusive shops and brothels.

When King Salman visited the French Riviera for a vacation, he stipulated that the local beach be sealed off to outsiders and two policewomen be removed to protect his privacy. When he visited Washington in early September, he booked the entire 222-room Four Seasons Hotel for him and his entourage and redecorated it with red carpets and gold furniture.

Yet behind all this opulence and bling stands a grim Wahhabist religious establishment that is the perfect complement to the ultra-orthodox rabbinate in Israel, one that is xenophobic, intolerant, and as thoroughly jihadist as any ISIS militant.

Since the 1980s, Saudi Arabia has spent billions of dollars building mosques and madrasas in order to spread fundamentalist Wahhabism across the globe. But the more it has expanded its ideological reach, the more it has come into conflict with Shi‘ism and other dissident branches of Islam.

As Bandar bin Sultan, the longtime Saudi ambassador to the U.S., once remarked to Richard Dearlove, chief of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service: “The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally ‘God help the Shia.’ More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them.”

The result years later is a growing Saudi war of aggression against a “Shi‘ite crescent” aggression that has led to nightly bombing raids in Yemen, a brutal crackdown on democratic protesters in Shi‘ite-majority Bahrain, and funding for Sunni Islamist rebels in Syria who are at war with the Shi‘ite-led government in Damascus. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “America’s Dead-End in the Middle East.”]

Presumably, this is not a spot that Obama wants to be in. He would no doubt like to combat ISIS. But since Saudi Arabia’s top priority is toppling Assad, Obama holds his fire against ISIS when it is engaged in battle with Syrian government troops, according to The New York Times, and Obama looks the other way when the kingdom supplies Al Nusra, Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, with U.S.-made TOW missiles. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Climbing into Bed with Al-Qaeda.”]

Obama also provides military assistance to the Saudis in their senseless war against Yemen because he can’t do otherwise without jeopardizing his relationship with King Salman. The U.S. is tied to the Saudis by oil and military weaponry, so there is a strong motive to play along.

Judo Skills

This is where Putin’s judo skills come in. Essentially, the Russian president wants three things.  Due to what even the Times admits is a growing danger of blowback — Putin is all too aware that 2,400 Russians have joined ISIS along with another 3,000 jihadis from formerly Soviet Central Asia — he wants a genuine multi-national effort to destroy ISIS and Al Nusra, not the pseudo-campaign put together by Washington and Riyadh.

Putin wants to buttress the Assad government not only because it is a longtime ally of Russia and the Soviets, but because its fall would pave the way for the ultimate nightmare of an ISIS takeover in Damascus. And Putin wants the U.S. to lift trade sanctions put in place following the absorption of the Crimea.

So far, Putin is ahead on the first two points and making steady progress on the third. Appalled by results of U.S.-sponsored regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, the world’s public sentiment is aghast to see America embarking on the same ill-conceived venture in Syria. This is the case not only in the Third World which is never happy seeing an imperial power stomping on an ex-colony, but in the European Union, currently reeling under the impacts of thousands of Middle Eastern refugees fleeing from the results of U.S.-backed “regime change.”

Further, bombing ISIS or Al Qaeda positions in Syria without Damascus’ permission is a flagrant violation of international law. Yet Obama clings to the traditional U.S. position that it is legal if the U.S. does it because the U.S. is the global sovereign and therefore makes its own law. But growing numbers no longer see it that way.

The idea of battling ISIS but standing off while it battles Assad may make sense among foreign-policy “experts” in Washington, London and Paris. But this “strategy” is wearing thin even in Berlin, which is beginning to reconsider the wisdom of attempting to battle ISIS and Assad simultaneously. All too aware of the chaos that the war against Damascus is creating, Chancellor Angela Merkel recently called on Assad to be included in regional negotiations along with Russia and Iran.

Including Assad in an anti-ISIS coalition would infuriate the Saudis, but here opinion is also shifting. The more Americans learn about Saudi Arabia, the less they like it. The kingdom has executed 135 people so far this year, a 50-percent increase over 2014, mostly by public beheading. It has sentenced the liberal blogger Raif Badawi to a thousand lashes and Shi‘ite activist Ali Mohammed al-Nimr to death and crucifixion for the crime of participating in anti-government protests when he was just 17.

The U.S. condemns Assad for repressing Arab Spring protests in Syria but says nothing when Riyadh prepares to execute an Arab Spring protest leader in Saudi Arabia, a contradiction lost on no one except a few Washington warmongers.

Public opinion, on the other hand, appears to be slower to come around to Putin’s way of thinking on the Crimea. But following the July 11 shoot-out between neo-Nazis storm troopers and police in western Ukraine and then the Aug. 31 grenade attack in Kiev that killed three policemen and wounded more than 100, it is clear that the ultra-right threat is not a figment of Moscow’s imagination, but a growing danger that the Poroshenko government finds difficult to contain.

The more powerful groups like the Right Sector, the Azov battalion and the Svoboda party grow and throw their weight around, the more justified Russian-speakers in the east may seem in fleeing a state in which neo-Nazis are a significant force.

Moreover, xenophobia is spreading not just in the Ukraine, but throughout the entire eastern rim and in portions of western Europe as well where groups like Marine Le Pen’s National Front are making rapid strides. The refugee influx marks a melding of two crises as east European xenophobes rage equally at Russians and Muslim refugees.

Since the two crises are coming together, sober thinkers are beginning to realize that they must be addressed jointly if progress is to be made. This means not only a realistic solution in Syria in which Syria, Iran and Iraq take control of the fight against ISIS and Al Qaeda, but also the Ukraine where the Russophone desire for freedom and security should also be taken into account.

“Everyone knows Putin is right,” observes the British journalist Simon Jenkins following the Russian president’s address Monday to the UN General Assembly, “that the only way forward in Syria, if not to eternal slaughter, is via the established government of Bashar al-Assad and his Lebanese and Iranian allies. That is the realpolitik. That is what pragmatism dictates.

“In the secure west, foreign policy has long been a branch of domestic politics, with added sermonizing.  ‘What to do,’ in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, even Ukraine, has been dictated not by what might work but what looks good. The megaphone is mightier than the brain.”

But the result of Americans and Brits “grandstanding at the UN this week seeing who can be ruder about Assad is that Vladimir Putin has gathered ever more cards to his pack.”

Indeed. Still, the odds are against Putin. America’s ties to the Saudis, to Victoria Nuland’s hand-picked government in Kiev, and to the increasingly nationalist regimes in “New Europe” are all too extensive to allow for much leeway.

The neocon foreign-policy establishment in Washington, more powerful than it has been in years, would not tolerate “Putinite” deviationism for an instant, and neither would America’s vast high-tech arms industry, which has grown dependent on sales to the Saudis and other Arab gulf states.

Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth, who recently published a fiery anti-Assad column in The Guardian, would have conniptions, while hedge fund operator George Soros would likely dash off another article for The New York Review of Books mourning the inability of the EU to “protect itself from Putin’s Russia.” The New York Times editorial board would have the vapors.

On the other hand, Putin might make headway in detaching Germany, which would no doubt be a game-changer. But its deep links with the U.S. war machine render that unlikely too. The rigidities in the international system may be too much for even the most skillful judo master to flip, which is why the disaster in eastern Europe and the Middle East seems likely to intensify.

Daniel Lazare is the author of several books including The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace).

20 comments for “Putin’s Judo Move in Syria

  1. October 5, 2015 at 04:06

    Thanks for the perspective which is not heard enough in the western media of the USA empire. What are your thoughts on whether Putin’s or the world’s interest would be a advanced by any disarmament attempt.

  2. reed
    October 2, 2015 at 16:19

    Well-intentioned but not timely enough article that makes the same mistake others are making in leaving China’s New Silk Road out of the question as to what will happen in Syria. It seems the authors writing for independent websites can’t manage the ‘big picture’. The Silk Road – Belt will link to Duisburg at one end, and one of the ‘roads’ will go through Iran, Iraq, and either Turkey or Syria while at the other end, not only Beijing, but the Far East in general will be trading east-southeast to Latin America, where the Nicaragua Grand Canal will open up the eastern coast of South America in a new way. For all of this to happen, Xi and Putin were in South America last year; the projects opened up call for and give reason to not only currency swaps, but banking with China and use of the yuan as a reserve currency. This Middle East violence must and will take an end now, in order for this global project to go through, and the Neo-Con efforts to stop China (which they can only do now by stopping Russia) resembles the crusade which were, to the Arabs, like irritating swarms of flies.

  3. October 2, 2015 at 12:31

    Thanks Daniel. I’m freaked at the way not only all the ‘leaders’ currently vying to become our new Canadian Prime Minister swallow down and regurgitate Washington propaganda about Putin and Ukraine. But I’m even more disturbed to see much of the Left here joining them or giving them a pass by not commenting when, for example, during leaders’ debates leaders contend with each other for the crown of biggest Putin basher, reminding audiences that Russia invaded Ukraine and has expansionist goals. What a scary world! Shamelessly, They don’t mention the neo-Nazi component. (Rabble.ca is looking mighty schizophrenic these days.)

  4. Andrew Nichols
    September 30, 2015 at 21:28

    Putin’s real goal in Syria is to attack “opposition fighters who are focused on battling Mr. Assad’s government and who are also backed by the United States.”

    Well it’s true. The Russians are bombing AlQuaeda and ISIS….

  5. elmerfudzie
    September 30, 2015 at 20:07

    The real (and unmentioned) elephant in the room is the Russian Naval Base situated at the Syrian port of Tartus. It’s the only deep and warm water outpost Russia has outside its borders. In order to avoid panic in the world financial markets, Putin disguised his order to move additional fighter aircraft into Syrian airspace, as a joint anti-terror effort with the USA and NATO. Let’s not forget the far east in this scenario, and frankly it gives me the willies, a Chinese aircraft carrier has appeared on the scene with the usual unpublicized naval accoutrements namely, attack subs and destroyer escorts. This port has both military and commercial advantages especially when considering the wide variety of ships it can accommodate for docking and cargo transportation. Look out everybody, one false move and we’re in a shooting war with the Bear…and I smell a rat, problem is, I just can’t spot him at the moment…

  6. truth first
    September 30, 2015 at 12:46

    Russia “is plainly no match for the U.S.”

    This seems obvious but how is America actually doing with all its military might. How did Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria work out??

    • Joe L.
      September 30, 2015 at 15:42

      truth first… I disagree with the statement that “Russia is plainly no match for the U.S.” simply for the fact that both the US and Russia have the largest stockpiles of the nuclear weapons on the planet which would negate all other weapons if they start flying. If the US and Russia were drawn into war, it would also draw in the allies of both which would also complicate things especially if China, India etc., also nuclear powers, fought on the side of Russia against the US and its’ allies. To me it is a war that could destroy the world especially if one side or the other started to lose and resorted to using their largest guns. So to me, it is really irrelevant who spends more or who is projected to be “tougher”. Having a penis measuring contest is pointless when both of these powers can destroy all life on earth.

  7. Surreal Politik
    September 30, 2015 at 10:28

    Could the u.s. really be as ignorant, reckless, and short-sighted as this and so many articles suggest? Perhaps the private school aristocrats and privileged upper classes of american politics and policy have a more sensible, long-term strategy; in the middle-east particularly. It certainly does not look like it from our perspective, insofar as we can know. Perhaps they, or some forces within our government, are actively trying to start world-war three. It certainly does look like it. The u.s. these days resembles one of those men (surely you all have known one) who always starts a fight; you know, the sort of man who starts the trouble and gets his friends involved, whether they were willing or not. The u.s. these days resembles a violent american ignoramus: over-fed, tattooed, mean and angry savages and highwaymen. There is much for the people to be angry about these days, but that anger would be rightfully directed at privileged neo-cons, neo-liberals, capitalist privateers, and religious fundamentalists. They are all mentalists, and it’s all their bloody fault. Idiots. Good luck everybody!

    • Joe Tedesky
      September 30, 2015 at 11:09

      I like what you said. You are right, all of these warmongers, are nothing more than boardroom warriors. Often, someone will comment to how these warring leaders of ours should be suited up, and sent off to fight these crummy wars. This would never happen, but there is some truth to the statement none the less. People say bring back the draft, and make it that everyone serves. This would be a fine thing, but do you really believe that a congressperson’s son or daughter would be stationed on the front lines? If, you believe that their elite parents would not save them from the real dangers of war, then I have a bridge to sell you. No, what we need is to use our military only for defense. American needs to finally once and for all, quit meddling into other countries governments. It’s never about improving a persons human rights. Instead, it is about owning natural resources, and imposing a western style banking process filled with debt.

      • Dick Chicanery
        October 1, 2015 at 09:53

        A “bush” definitely would not have to serve.

  8. Antiwar7
    September 30, 2015 at 09:31

    Re Germany: I suspect the NSA has some embarrassing information it uses to keep Merkel and others in line.

  9. Peter Loeb
    September 30, 2015 at 06:07


    At the end of September I wrote a comment called “THE
    EASY VICTORY” to a consortium article by Paul Pillar,
    “Russian Role Could Help Syria”(9/21/15). It follows:

    “Peter Loeb
    September 22, 2015 at 1:36 pm


    No one goes to war or even considers it unless they are
    persuaded 1) that victory will easily be theirs and
    2) that their victory will be quick and painless.

    (See Gabriel Kolko, CENTURY OF WAR.)

    Before Russia began increasing its pressure and
    determination to adhere to its alliances with Syria
    where it shares a military interest, it seemed to
    Israeli and American politicians that both the
    above conditions were persuasively met— no
    questions asked. Belligerents such as Israel
    and the US could relive the “halcyon” days of Iraq.
    One could invade Iraq and victory would be ours.
    It would be a cinch.

    (This was demonstrated by the first Iraq
    War if nothing else.) With the drones of today
    no US/Israeli lives would be lost.

    (It should be noted that major powers never act
    for reasons of charity alone. Nor, for that
    matter do lesser powers.)

    The fact that Russia is more deeply involved
    changes all these calculations and the
    US/Israeli and other belligerents are surprised.
    The best spin they can put on their surprise
    is to blame it all on Russia. Without Russian
    spine for whatever reason, Syria would
    be easily demolished but now…???

    For other points one can only refer to Paul
    Pillar’s excellent article above as well as the many
    intelligent additions by other commenters.

    —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

    Little can be added to Daniel Lazare’s excellent
    article above. One can only say that Putin hardly
    seems “desperate”. In fact, it is the US and Israel
    who seem surprised that Syria was/is not going
    be such an easy victory at all.

    As for Germany’s recent past, I recommend Joyce
    and Gabriel Kolko’s THE LIMITS OF POWER for a detailed

  10. September 30, 2015 at 03:54

    Putin indeed plays judo by evading the attacks of the West and waiting till his adversaries have pushed forward so far that he can pull them off balance.

    IS (Islamic State) basically is a creation of Western agencies and it is still supported by Turkey and various Gulf states. Turkeys MIT has organized truck convoys with weapons to IS, Turkey enables the transfer and sale of looted industrial machinery, historic artifacts, and oil, it has dedicated whole hospital wards for the treatment and recovery of IS fighters. IS commandos have attacked Kobane and other Kurdish border towns from Turkish territory in plain sight of massive Turkish military.

    Brand new US weapons and ammunition were found in IS weapons caches, IS specialists were instantly able to operate conquered US tanks, artillery, and other sophisticated equipment which normally needs thoroughly trained experts.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called into question the effectiveness of the US-led coalition against IS and stated, that concerned colleagues from within the US-led coalition turned to him and informed him that the US-military did not give clearances to their fighter pilots even though they clearly had located and identified IS positions.

    Major General Eizza Zawir, commander of the Kurdish Peshmerga’s fourth division, told reporters that he sees the busy supply lines of IS less than 3 kilometer away but is not allowed by the US to hit them. Senior Jordanian military officers told the same. Yazidi militias complained that they waited in vain for US help as they try to fend off IS assaults.

    82 percent of Syrians believe that the West is behind IS, a sentiment that is shared with most of the Arab public. The circumstantial evidence of Western foul play is overwhelming but a smoking gun will not be found, because after a century of black ops the spy agencies know how to conceal their traces.

    Countless conspiracy theories are floating on the internet (‎Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a Mossad or CIA asset or Israeli actor Simon Elliot). Some of them are Western psy-ops, spread to be easily dismissed so that the whole notion of Western involvement can be discredited.

    Despite smoke screening (censoring, misleading, lying), common sense alone makes it clear that the US-led coalition’s fight against IS is a farce, and Western propaganda has increasing problems to mask the glaring discrepancy between the stated intent to fight the IS brutes and the reality of supporting them.

    Putin only needs to exploit this discrepancy and to call the US bluff. It will be a hell of a job for the Western press to prevent the castle of lies tumbling down. Pundits and editorial writers probably spend already sleepless nights pondering about the formulations which are ambiguous and nonsensical enough to distract and confuse the trusting and gullible public.

    1984 squared.

    Russia (and possibly China) will quietly build up forces, gather information, and at a convenient moment suddenly strike not only IS, but also Jabhat al-Nusrah and Ahrar al-Sham with overwhelming force. The SOHR will decry civilian casualties and the pictures of bloody corpses of children will deluge the front pages, but thats all what the US can do against the demise of their secret friends.

  11. George Collins
    September 30, 2015 at 02:56

    Yes, terrific article as was Bob Parry’s recent piece on the plague of believing propaganda, the big lie that muddies everything.

  12. michael
    September 30, 2015 at 02:44

    Thanks for a fair assessment, pity people keep glued to the main stream narrative fairy tale!

  13. Zachary Smith
    September 30, 2015 at 00:26

    This was surely a fascinating essay, and my thanks to the author. One point which I believe needs to be emphasized is this one:

    Due to what even the Times admits is a growing danger of blowback — Putin is all too aware that 2,400 Russians have joined ISIS along with another 3,000 jihadis from formerly Soviet Central Asia — he wants a genuine multi-national effort to destroy ISIS and Al Nusra, not the pseudo-campaign put together by Washington and Riyadh.

    All the other reasons are valid enough, but this one surely has extra weight. The Empire is recruiting Russians to Syria for intense training and severe radicalization. When the survivors go home, they’re going to be one hell of a problem, which was surely the original intention of the Empire. IMO Putin wants as many of those fellows dead as possible, and it’s my guess that any future Russian military activities in Syria will concentrate on killing them. By the same logic, Turkey is said to have been busy in Western China recruiting Muslims there for the same reason. So it won’t surprise me a bit if China doesn’t send a force to Syria aiming to kill radicals from their nation. After all, China is on the same Imperial “hit” list as Russia.

    On the other hand, Putin might make headway in detaching Germany, which would no doubt be a game-changer. But its deep links with the U.S. war machine render that unlikely too.

    Making “headway” is a worthy objective for Russia. Germany has been A-OK with the refugeees, for Big Business there welcomes newcomers in the same way American Big Business wants Spanish-speakers here – they drive down wages and break unions. The rest of Europe – not so much so. Germany is risking its role of Boss Hogg in Europe, and if the EU collapses, there won’t be many alternatives except to embrace the emerging China-Russia trade union.

    So it seems to me that Russia’s move into Syria is a low-risk affair. Putin can sell it back home as a security issue, and overseas as an alternative to the increasingly detested agents of Holy Israel. And of course, more evidence that Russia doesn’t sell out its friends. True or not, that last issue is going to resonate in some places.

    • September 30, 2015 at 04:09

      A valuable comment, but one caveat: Putin is a nationalist and pragmatist. Russia has close economic ties with Turkey and Israel, buys military hardware from Israel. No BDS.

      Putin is friends with both Netanyahu and Erdogan, a fact which may help to find compromises but also could be a reason, why Russia didn’t step in to help Syria destroy the Islamic terrorists in 2011 /12.

      • dahoit
        September 30, 2015 at 12:45

        Friends with Yahoo?Nah,just diplomatic.Vlad knows who his enemies are,the Zionists in the US attack Russia daily,all orchestrated from Zion.

  14. TC Burnett
    September 29, 2015 at 22:14

    Judo’s real-life effectiveness is demonstrated quite regularly by Ronda Rousey and, in fact, all of the Olympic medalists who bother to become adept.

    Vlad Putin is a leader whose time has come. He is in the right place at the right time as US hegemony – and our economy – fails; specifically because of the military-industrial complex, not despite it.

  15. incontinent reader
    September 29, 2015 at 21:41

    Great article- well researched and well stated.

    As for Ken Roth, he boxed himself in in 2011 when he demonized Assad for his response to same type of urban terrorism spread by US snipers that was used later in Kiev.

    Ten years ago, or so, Roth’s kid was enrolled at the Ethical Culture School- the same venue that some past or present NY Times operatives- e.g., Jill Abramson- have attended, and the place where the Vice Chair of the Board of Governors was none other than Lloyd Blankfein’s wife. So much for his and their disingenuous brand of neoliberal ‘ethical culture’.

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