I don’t typically quote Pat Buchanan. But, in this instance, it’s more of what Putin had to say, in which Buchanan referenced.
“Do you realize now what you have done?”
So Vladimir Putin in his U.N. address summarized his indictment of a U.S. foreign policy that has produced a series of disasters in the Middle East that we did not need the Russian leader to describe for us.
Fourteen years after we invaded Afghanistan, Afghan troops are once again fighting Taliban forces for control of Kunduz. Only 10,000 U.S. troops still in that ravaged country prevent the Taliban’s triumphal return to power.
A dozen years after George W. Bush invaded Iraq, ISIS occupies its second city, Mosul, controls its largest province, Anbar, and holds Anbar’s capital, Ramadi, as Baghdad turns away from us — to Tehran.
The cost to Iraqis of their “liberation”? A hundred thousand dead, half a million widows and fatherless children, millions gone from the country and, still, unending war.
How has Libya fared since we “liberated” that land? A failed state, it is torn apart by a civil war between an Islamist “Libya Dawn” in Tripoli and a Tobruk regime backed by Egypt’s dictator.
Then there is Yemen. Since March, when Houthi rebels chased a Saudi sock puppet from power, Riyadh, backed by U.S. ordinance and intel, has been bombing that poorest of nations in the Arab world.
Five thousand are dead and 25,000 wounded since March. And as the 25 million Yemeni depend on imports for food, which have been largely cut off, what is happening is described by one U.N. official as a “humanitarian catastrophe.”
“Yemen after five months looks like Syria after five years,” said the international head of the Red Cross on his return.
On Monday, the wedding party of a Houthi fighter was struck by air-launched missiles with 130 guests dead. Did we help to produce that?
What does Putin see as the ideological root of these disasters?
“After the end of the Cold War, a single center of domination emerged in the world, and then those who found themselves at the top of the pyramid were tempted to think they were strong and exceptional, they knew better.”
Then, adopting policies “based on self-conceit and belief in one’s exceptionality and impunity,” this “single center of domination,” the United States, began to export “so-called democratic” revolutions.
How did it all turn out? Says Putin:
“An aggressive foreign interference has resulted in a brazen destruction of national institutions. … Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social disaster. Nobody cares a bit about human rights, including the right to life.”
Is Putin wrong in his depiction of what happened to the Middle East after we plunged in? Or does his summary of what American interventions have wrought echo the warnings made against them for years by American dissenters?
Putin concept of “state sovereignty” is this: “We are all different, and we should respect that. No one has to conform to a single development model that someone has once and for all recognized as the right one.”
The Soviet Union tried that way, said Putin, and failed. Now the Americans are trying the same thing, and they will reach the same end.
Unlike most U.N. speeches, Putin’s merits study. For he not only identifies the U.S. mindset that helped to produce the new world disorder, he identifies a primary cause of the emerging second Cold War.
To Putin, the West’s exploitation of its Cold War victory to move NATO onto Russia’s doorstep caused the visceral Russian recoil. The U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine that overthrew the elected pro-Russian government led straight to the violent reaction in the pro-Russian Donbas.
What Putin seems to be saying to us is this:
If America’s elites continue to assert their right to intervene in the internal affairs of nations, to make them conform to a U.S. ideal of what is a good society and legitimate government, then we are headed for endless conflict. And, one day, this will inevitably result in war, as more and more nations resist America’s moral imperialism.
Nations have a right to be themselves, Putin is saying.
They have the right to reflect in their institutions their own histories, beliefs, values and traditions, even if that results in what Americans regard as illiberal democracies or authoritarian capitalism or even Muslim theocracies.
There was a time, not so long ago, when Americans had no problem with this, when Americans accepted a diversity of regimes abroad. Indeed, a belief in nonintervention abroad was once the very cornerstone of American foreign policy.
Wednesday and Thursday, Putin’s forces in Syria bombed the camps of U.S.-backed rebels seeking to overthrow Assad. Putin is sending a signal: Russia is willing to ride the escalator up to a collision with the United States to prevent us and our Sunni Arab and Turkish allies from dumping over Assad, which could bring ISIS to power in Damascus.
Perhaps it is time to climb down off our ideological high horse and start respecting the vital interests of other sovereign nations, even as we protect and defend our own.
First of all, let me state that I agree with much of what Putin seems to be saying. In the larger view, he’s correct. There seems to be a certain group of powerful people in D.C. who believe we should attempt to export American notions to other lands, by force. But, it’s not as simple as that. Indeed, it probably isn’t those people who have caused this most recent mess in the Mid-East. For lack of a better descriptive term, I’ll use the oft employed “neo-con”, but, it isn’t a proper term. Those would be people such as John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Dick Cheney …. etc. ….. Yes, the put events in motion which allowed for this madness. But, what’s happening now goes well beyond exporting American ideas, indeed, what’s going on now is the opposite. There’s probably little distinction for the people in the Mid-East, but, it’s a distinction people should well note.
Much of what is happening today is a result of politics in the US. Obama, against advice of military and professional states people decided our presence in Iraq was to end. This is mostly because George Bush was the one who put us there as we won the skirmish/war against Hussain’s Iraq. Obama created a power vacuum. ISIS filled it. But, not before Obama had decided Assad needed to go. The American people refused to back Obama in a overt attempt to overthrow Assad. So, team Obama decided to arm and support “rebels”. Team Obama would try to describe them as “moderate” rebels, but, we all knew they were anything but “moderate”. They’re still trying to describe the various lunatics as “moderate”. But, recall, the original “moderate” rebels …… that would be the ones who were not Al Nursa, turned out to be mostly ISIS, or ISIL as others call them.
By now, the US intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq under Bush are well argued as to why and intent. I won’t bother rehashing this well trodden discussion. In today’s discussion, it is only relevant to observing the actions of the current POTUS and understanding what is going on in the Mid-East (and north Africa) today.
We have to go back to the start of Obama’s presidency. Many people will tell you the “Arab Spring” started in Tunisia. It did not. It started in Iran. This is important to note because of the context (and pretext) as to why we got involved in other nations in the realm of the Muslim world.
At that time, 2009, there was a significant opportunity to topple the Iranian regime. The US did absolutely nothing to support the opposition. The US sat silently while Iran killed, imprisoned, tortured and raped the opposition. Protests were banned, social media blocked, and the totalitarian Islamic regime went about silencing any opposition. Contrast this and compare it to team Obama’s actions towards semi-secular regimes in the Mid-East.
The “Arab Spring” quickly moved to Egypt. The US openly advocated the removal of Hosni Mubarak and demanded that he step down. Mubarak had been somewhat a US ally. He wasn’t openly antagonistic to Israel and kept a tight(ish) control over the radical terrorists. Seemingly inexplicably, team Obama, after getting their way with Mubarak’s removal, threw their support to the Muslim Brotherhood, a group with open ties to Muslim extremists. President Morsi, of the MB had allowed the slaughter of Coptic Christians in Egypt ……. while Obama stayed silent. To the credit of the Egyptian people, they rejected Morsi, and the military deposed him. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the former head of Egypt’s military, won a subsequent election, and team Obama barely recognizes him, and doesn’t appear interested, at all, in working with him to weed out the extremists with threaten the stability of Egypt and the peace with Israel.
The “Arab Spring” next went to Libya. For some reason, the West decided now was the time for Muammar Gaddafi to go. No one really said that much, at the time, because, Gaddafi was a scumbag. And, so, he was overthrown. Surprisingly, no one seemed to have a plan for what was next. Indeed, in retrospect, is seems having no plan was the plan. The results were a horribly divided nation, in which we now have a significant part of the land as a cesspool for the export of radical Muslim lunatics …… after the lunatics killed a US ambassador along with some other Americans.
And, now, finally, the regime changes in semi-secular Muslim lands has settled in Syria. Only, Assad wasn’t quickly removed. He’s still there. Team Zero still insists they are supporting “moderate rebels” ….. which is an oxymoron. There’s no such thing as a person moderately willing to sacrifice their lives for an idea. On an aside, it’s fascinating to hear accounts as to who and how many “moderate” rebels we have. The other day, we had only 4 or 5 left after a couple dozen or so were kidnapped ….. then, we were training some 60 or so. …… then we had most of them give their weapons to Al Nursa (read Al-Qaeda). Now, team Zero is all mad because Russia is targeting the rebels we trained and supplied? Really? So, the generals who told us we only had a few left, and were starting to train some more in Turkey lied? Or the news reports …. all of them, they lied, too? ….. Or was it that the administration was lying to us all along? Which is it and what “moderate” rebel groups remain, specifically?
And, now, suddenly, Yemen became destabilized and Shia took control of a Sunni majority nation, which is backed and neighbored by Saudi Arabia, a Sunni dominated nation?
Recall, nearly all of the leaders of the semi-secular Muslim nations had to go because they were awful to the people of their respective nations. Meanwhile, we’ve signed a nuclear agreement with Iran, which legitimizes and enriches the totalitarian theocratic Muslim regime, as they put a clown suit on team Obama and back Assad in Syria …. mostly with the money we just gave them.
Well, that’s what happened. What conclusions can we draw from these events, given the context and the retrospect we all now have?