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AdLib On September - 11 - 2013


The recent appearance of Russian President Vladimir Putin descending from the heavens to resolve the chemical weapons issue in Syria reminded me of a quote from the classic film, Goodfellas:

If you’re part of a crew, nobody ever tells you that they’re going to kill you, doesn’t happen that way. There weren’t any arguments or curses like in the movies. See, your murderers come with smiles, they come as your friends, the people who’ve cared for you all of your life. And they always seem to come at a time that you’re at your weakest and most in need of their help.


No one can blame those who oppose the horror of war for wanting badly to find a peaceful but effective U.S. response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons on its own people.

Especially not Putin. He has made his career on ruthlessly exploiting the hatreds and fears of the many to benefit himself and the few. So it was a bit disorienting for many to see this enemy of peace and freedom, stepping up to propose a peaceful and sensible approach to resolving this issue with Syria.

It is absolutely reasonable to have seen this as a necessity for Putin, in order to protect his key ally Assad from having his military mortally wounded by U.S. strikes, perhaps to the point of losing the civil war. However, as the generalities of this “miracle” proposal that was made just at the right time and just when it was so desired and needed, transform into specifics, the proposal looks to be nothing more than a sham intended to thwart a U.S. military response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons.

But even though that now seems more likely to have been the intent by Putin, it may succeed despite him.

Putin has announced that he will block any attempt by the U.N. to actually enforce such a deal or recognize the crime behind the need for a deal. He stands squarely against there being any military action against Syria if they renege and don’t get rid of their chemical weapons, he opposes any affirmation that Syria committed the chemical attack and he won’t agree to having those who have committed this atrocity tried in the International Criminal Court.

So this “deal” that Russia is presenting appears to be nothing of the kind. It instead appears to be a facade of a deal to deter a U.S. attack on Syria. Russia is in fact proposing nothing that is substantive or enforceable and is fighting for Syria to be protected against all legal and military actions while they are free to commit war crimes and retain chemical weapons.

It is a deal, a great deal for the criminal Syria regime and Russia but that’s all.

Putin has apparently calculated, like the Goodfella-type gangster that he is, that swooping in at the last minute before a potential and undesired-by-all-sides military attack and making an offer that couldn’t be refused, even though he has no intention to make good on it, would be irresistible to those “suckers” who don’t want greater bloodshed.

In this way, Putin touches many bases. He and Russia win the Megabucks of PR coups, military action against Syria is blocked and Putin gets to stick his thumb hard into America’s eye.

Is this just cynicism? Is Putin just using his unreasonable conditions as a starting point for negotiations? It is possible but perspective is everything, when looking at Putin’s track record, one would be highly challenged to see any decision every made by him that displayed any genuine intent to pursue peace in a conflict in which he has a stake. This alleged proposal is inconsistent with Putin’s long and sordid track record.

This is the guy who assassinates and imprisons those, no matter how powerless, who he sees as opposing him (see: Pussy Riot). He poisons his critics in foreign countries with radioactive material, this is not exactly the background of a modern day Gandhi who will bring a peaceful solution on Syria.

The end game here now seems to be, signal a peaceful and responsible solution to Syria’s use of chemical weapons with one hand while with the other hand, tying up the U.S. and U.N. so they are unable to act against Syria.

This is a big game of geopolitical Risk with many devious calculations by Putin. It may be that he believes that while he goes around in pointless circles with the U.N. insisting on Russia’s sincerity to broker a peaceful response to Syria’s chemical weapons attack but making sure his demands prevent it from occurring, the U.S. could get fed up and attack Syria and then be seen as rejecting the world’s ongoing pursuit of a peaceful resolution and acting as an impatient warmonger. So proposing yet blocking an agreement is a win-win for Russia to stop or demonize a U.S. attack on Syria and make Russia look good on the world stage while destroying America’s image.

There is one flaw to Putin’s plan though, by pulling together the nations of the U.N. over an impending solution to Syria’s war crime, by bringing Syria around to finally confessing their possession of chemical weapons, by allowing the U.N. time to establish the use of chemical weapons and Syria’s guilt in numerous massacres, the momentum to address the war crimes of Syria can take on a momentum of its own that can go beyond Russia’s ability to control.

This may turn out to be a case of delayed but not denied justice for Assad and his regime. The world and the U.S. are war weary and don’t relish the prospects of intensifying the war raging in Syria, let alone the possibility of war spreading in the already-unstable region. However, by holding out the carrot of peaceful resolution then repeatedly yanking it away, Russia could in fact whip up enough resentment and frustration around the world that the reticence to act against Assad becomes outweighed by the intensity of emotion to finally act.

To thwart part of Putin’s plan to weaken and disgrace the U.S., it may mean that the U.S. may have to wait for this twisted game to play out a bit, until its agenda becomes clear to the rest of the world and they too are ready to take action. It would be playing right into Putin’s hand and his scheme to rally opposition to the U.S. (and perhaps Israel) as a warmonger if the U.S. made a military strike on Syria unilaterally. So as difficult as it is to do so, waiting may be the key to success for the U.S..

Perhaps this assessment of Putin and the situation is misguided, perhaps Russia will eventually relent and agree to some kind of meaningful mechanism to forcing Syria to disarm itself of chemical weapons but if that rosier picture doesn’t come to fruition, the U.S. and President Obama need to be prepared to turn Putin’s cynical game against him and Syria and gain international support before taking action against Syria.

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

20 Responses so far.

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  1. SueInCa says:


    I cannot see the US agreeing to an agreement with no teeth. Obama is smarter than everyone trying to out smart him right now. The only problem he has is relaying that brilliance to the people and that may be the humble man in him. If the UN does agree to this arrangement by Putin, the US should condemn the UN as well. What the hell are they there for if not to try to stop these kinds of situations. I am beginning to lose faith in them as well. There have been way too many of these incidences left unchecked for me to believe they are anything but a group of empty suits.

    The UN was founded precisely because of the horrors of Hitler’s Germany and there was a vow of “never again” but the UN seems to have lost the meaning of their charter.

    • AdLib says:

      Sue, the UN has neutered itself by allowing there to be Elitism in the organization, having 5 permanent members who can veto resolutions supported by 99% of the world is corrupt. As long as China and Russia are in a position to block action against their fellow tyrants and oppressors around the world, they will and the UN will be meaningless.

      Agreed, Obama won’t agree to a worthless proposal and would use our veto in the UN to block it.

      Syria said today that their demand is that the US drop all efforts to use military force AND that the US stop supporting the rebels with military aid. What gall! They massacre 1,500 people and their response to being threatened for using chemical weapons to do so is to demand the US make their opposition even more vulnerable to mass killings!

      It’s negotiation is going to be torturous and in the end, it could indeed turn out to have been a manipulative hoax.

      • SueInCa says:

        That is too bad, it was Putin’s one chance to be a humanitarian and he probably failed, not that he cares, based on his other actions. He flat out lied about gays in his country so there is not much reason to trust him. With that said, I still disagree on military action. The world has stood by before and watched other peoples be slaughtered, what makes Syrians any different? But I also say, tell the UN to remove themselves from the United States. If they refuse to fulfill their charter, they are not doing any of us any good so adios, contaminos……….

  2. agrippa says:

    My interest is in enforcing international law. The use of chemical weapons is illegal. Unfortunately, there is no enforcement mechanism.
    This results in the US using ‘coercive diplomacy’. It may work.

    The idea that there is such a thing as international law is idealistic. The normal operating pattern is ‘the strong do what they will; the weak suffer what they must’.

    Ba’athism’ ( Michel Aflaq and Salah al din Bitar were the main founders) was born in violence and will die in violence; and, it has failed. It has not created an ‘Arab Nation’ based upon socialism.
    The enemies of Ba’athism fighting is Syria are no better.

  3. Kalima says:

    Excellent AdLib. The first thing I said here when I heard of this proposal was that I trust neither Assad nor Putin to follow through on this promise. Assad is a mass murderer, Putin still has the soul of his KGB roots and has used them ruthlessly over the years he was in power, and the years he was not. He is doing this to gain infamy on the international stage, he wants to be a rock star, the new Czar of Russia, and the only thing that drives him is self interest. Look at what he owns, the yachts, the palaces he is building, he is no different from the other despots and dictators who steal from their people. As you mention he has been behind many assassinations of those who speak against him and uses the Russian mafia to do his dirty work. How anyone could trust this liar is beyond me. How he is allowed to wield so much power in an organisation made up of so many other nations is an abomination. If the UN gives in to his demands they should be condemned. The time when Russia could hold the world hostage to their threats and blackmail are long over, trying to revive the “Cold War” era between Washington and Moskau is passé.

    The man is evil, his interests are not in the best interests of the rest of the world and we should find a way to make him keep his promise to the world or pursue other options put forward by other countries. Russia and China should be removed from the UN SC.

    Here are Putin’s main interests in Syria in the link below. Note the mention of military bases, he already parks his ships in a port there. Putin’s interests are not humanitarian or wanting to solve this situation, look at how he treats those that oppose him. His only motivation is control and his ego, and the international community can’t allow that, we cannot give in to his ridiculous demands and bullying then hold our heads up high.


    The Great gas Game over Syria


    Two recent articles from MB.


    What the world overlooked in Syria

    Major events taking place across Syria have been overshadowed by the chemical attack saga.


    OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR: A Syrian’s Cry for Help

    A half-hearted intervention will not stop Assad’s barbarism.


    • AdLib says:

      Kalima, excellent summary and portrait of Putin! And great links!

      And Republicans are carrying Putin on their shoulders and showering him with verbal flowers and candy. No surprise that they would cheer on a tyrant who seeks to undermine America, they have so much in common.

      But when Putin’s game is fully exposed and he is revealed to be the enemy of peace and other civilized nations, they will look ad anti-American as he will.

      Can’t wait for the Repubs to celebrate Kim Jong Un next. What dictator in the Axis of Evil will be the GOP’s next BFF?

      • Kalima says:

        Right, let’s all hail Kim like that loon Dennis Rodman. 😯

        The stupidity of the Repubs and Emoprogs is that the idea is a U.S. idea, probably discussed in those 20 minutes at the G20 that the President and Putin spoke together, and of course most of the press coverage claims it as Putin’s, so he’s strutting like a peacock and basking shirtless in the glory. The man is in a midlife crisis and if we let him, we’ll be caught up in it to. Someone should find the balls to stand up to him now, this is an international crisis with real people dying, not a video game. Remember how he interfered with sanctions on Iran, well it’s just about leaving his mark in history, like an animal marks it’s territory. I believe that the man is not all there.

        Could Bush have been any more wrong about the outcome of the war in Iraq or Putin? ” I looked into his eyes and saw his soul. He’s a good man”. Really George??

        • AdLib says:

          Kalima, what is bewildering is that so many Americans are so desperate to avoid attacking Syria, they have wiped their brains clean of all they know about what a brutal, cruel and oppressive dictator Putin is.

          Er…weren’t we all just up in arms over the anti-gay violence spurred on by Putin and his anti-gay laws?

          Weren’t we angry at Putin for jailing anyone and everyone who didn’t revere him or dared speak out against him including several young women who just sang songs criticizing him and his government?

          Weren’t we appalled at how he outright stole his own re-election and the elections of his cronies?

          Weren’t we pissed off that he blocked the UN from doing anything to stop Assad from massacring his own people?

          Weren’t we annoyed that Putin sabotaged the strongest resolutions to stop Iran from becoming nuclear?

          Aw, forget about all that, he’s really a good guy because he’s offering us lollipops and sunshine today!

          People are so quick to delude themselves when they want something, it’s kind of frightening.

          • Kalima says:

            I couldn’t agree more AdLib and liken it to being back at school complaining to everyone about how nasty my friend has been and that I never want to speak to her again. Less than a week later, I’m arm in arm with her because she invited me to her party. These Putin lovers are the same, they change their stance to fit their mood, or because everyone else they know is doing it. How shallow and pathetic is that?

            • AdLib says:

              Kalima, there is a kind of juvenile quality to such a sensibility. A mature reasoning person doesn’t get in the car with a scary, sleazy guy just because he offers them candy.

              Republicans and emoprogs though are a very different story.

        • kesmarn says:

          Kalima, just as I found the google quote of that infamous meeting of tyrants (Bush and Putin), and came back to post it, I see that you had the same thought!

          “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue.

          “I was able to get a sense of his soul.

          “He’s a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country…”

          Any friend of Dubya’s — could he possibly be a friend of ours? I think not.


  4. You make some good points Ad. Putin may be buying time for Assad to just move his chemical weapons to another, undisclosed location, so if we do strike, we would be striking empty targets.

    I have to believe though that Syria is being very closely watched, by the CIA and most likely military satellites to try to detect such moves.

    I don’t see the president waiting very long to make his decision. I do think that congress should make their votes without delay. If they give the OK, the president may strike at his discretion. If he already has the go ahead, then we will not have to delay a strike longer than needed. A very touchy situation, indeed.

    • Nirek says:

      KT, I bet we know exactly where everything is in Syria. Satellites see all. Infra red, heat, and just regular cameras, you know?

    • AdLib says:

      KT, for the time being, it looks like Obama will wait to see if a deal with Syria can be made so I don’t know that he will move quickly. Congress is holding off on a vote but they are discussing a revised resolution.

      Agreed, it is likely that our spy satellites are keeping a close eye on how Syria may be moving equipment.

      I sure hope though that the majority prevails in the U.N. and Syria is held to obeying a disarmament of chemical weapons…and Assad is brought up on charges by the ICC.

      • Ad, do you know if any time frame has been discussed between the US and Assad? I do wonder how long the president is willing to wait. I think it will be very difficult for Putin or Assad to keep the wool over our president’s eyes. The whole world is watching. (except for the usual willfully ignorant)

        • AdLib says:

          KT, I haven’t heard the Obama Admin offer any time frame but I would imagine that it is being discussed privately with Russia. The big issue on setting a time frame is figuring out how long it would actually take to safely remove all that hazardous material from the many different locations it’s stored, manufactured and hidden in.

          No doubt, Russia will use that unknown to argue against any reasonable time frame and military action if a deadline isn’t met by Syria.

    • agrippa says:

      I agree.
      And, there will be no serious consequences for the USA.

  5. agrippa says:

    The ban on Chemical weapons is a self denying ordnance. It is, essentially, unenforceable. But, Syria may comply.
    We will have to wait and see how it works out.

    • AdLib says:

      agrippa,if Syria signs the international agreement banning chemical weapons then it is enforceable. If the U.N. approves a resolution requiring Syria to give up its chem weapons and there is an enforcement provision, same thing.

      But if it was just a voluntary thing, as Russia seems to want, it would be worth the paper it’s not written on.

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