Putin's Dilemma by Abdul-Haq A-Ani
Mr. Putin, his Foreign Minister and most of his foreign affairs advisors were at some time members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The presumption must be that they believed then in the ideals of Marx - in socialism, class struggle, and other practical policies that underlined the policies and practices of the Soviet Union during the Cold War era. It is healthier to believe that they were Socialists who converted to Capitalism. The alternative would make them hypocrites which would indeed make the future of Russia look very bleak.
But switching ideology is a dangerous step with unpredictable consequences. Converts of this type, in attempting to repent their early perceived mistakes, may become so adherent to the new ideology that they get blinded to realities and turn into fanatics. We have examples of Arab communists who converted and became worse imperialists than the Neocons.
I do not believe that Putin is a hypocrite although I cannot say the same about all his foreign affairs advisers. It is bizarre for Mr. Lavrov, Putin's Foreign Minister, to appear to be discussing with Saudi Foreign Minister the fight against extremism and terrorism when it is public knowledge, and not simply among intelligence services, that the Saudi ruling family, their religious authority and thousands of their citizens have been recruiting people, financing, and cultivating ideology for, extremism and terrorism for seven decades, even before they played football with the heads of Russian soldiers in Afghanistan.
Every head of a state needs the advice of his councillors and Mr. Putin is no exception. Putin may have what it takes to be a leader but it seems that his understanding of foreign matters is limited, which makes the role of his foreign advisers so valuable and vital for the security of Russia. The bigger and more powerful a state becomes the more relevant its foreign policies becomes to its security. It follows that however successful Putin's economic and social policies inside Russia maybe, one blunder in Russia’s foreign policies may put the brakes on his plans for development.
When Putin assumed power, he believed that he was going to transform Russia from the stagnant system created by Brezhnev to a flourishing capitalist system, considering that Russia has so much potential both in its creative and innovative people and its natural resources. But in order to join the Capitalist Camp, Putin needed to be accepted by that Camp. I think that he mistakenly believed he was going to be accepted since Russia was not a threat to Western Capitalism anymore. Whether for lack of understanding history or lack of understanding Zionist Capitalism, Putin failed to see that such acceptance was not forthcoming. Europe has had 'Russophobia' for centuries. From Napoleon to Hitler little had changed despite the difference of ideology between both men. Both had a determination to crush Russia. Today's Zionist Imperialism dominating Western Capitalism is no different. It is still set on containing Russia if its defeat turned out to be impossible.
What still puzzles me is that despite this reality, we hear day in day out from Lavrov and his assisting advisers the standard phrase 'our partners' when refereeing to NATO states, despite the fact that not once has any official in a NATO state referred to Russia as a 'partner'. Is it lack of understanding, self-humiliation or attempt at deceiving their public?
Putin today is in a dilemma. Part of it is caused by the advice he has received over the last ten years from his foreign affairs advisers consisting of Lavrov and his band of career diplomats. I am not doubting their competence nor indeed their sincerity in believing that they act and serve in the national interest of Russia. But based on how they have advised and spoken at times during the last decade, I am tempted to suspect the soundness of their judgments and their ability to understand the realities of world affairs in their wider context. Of course it is always dangerous to generalize. But it is difficult not to notice one common thread that runs through the foreign policies of Russia over the last decade which is based on the fact that Russia has been trying to appease Zionist Imperialism at any cost. I hasten to add that part of this failure in understanding the realities of the world around them has been that most of those diplomats had lived too long in the West, and become contaminated by the imperialists’ ideals prevailing there, if for no reason than simply fraternizing with Western colleagues.
In order to clarify what I am trying to convey, I shall choose four matters in which I believe show how Russia has so far failed in its foreign policies, and which will reflect dangerously on its national security and stability. They are not covered in any sequence of importance but rather because of a chronological order as there may be some indications in that order itself.
Iran’s Nuclear Program
Russia is a member of the so-called five-plus-one group, which has been negotiating with Iran over the latter’s nuclear program. The blunders of Russia in this fiasco can be summarised as follows:
1. It is accepted that when the nuclear veto wielding members of the UN Security Council decided to monopolize nuclear weapons, they drafted the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and set up the Atomic Energy International Agency (AEIA) to ensure that such a status quo is maintained at least as the big powers desired it to be. This last fact makes any pretence that the AEIA is an independent UN body sound laughable to say the least. However, it is difficult for anyone following Iran’s nuclear file negotiation, to understand why Germany is a member of the group. Germany is not a permanent member of the UN Security Council. It is not a nuclear power. It is not more significant in world affairs than any of the other members of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). It seems that its only qualification is that it is a member of the international Zionist club which membership has been strengthened since Merkel assumed power. Why has Russia acceded to such an unjustified state of affairs?
2. The agreed practice among members of the so-called five-plus-one is that any decision must be unanimous. But not even the Security Council has decided that its decisions need to be unanimous to pass. All it takes for the Saudi ruling family is to offer tens of millions of dollars to any cheap leader like Hollande of France to veto any agreement that may be agreed and render the process futile. So why did Russia accede to such a straightjacket measure?
3. There has not yet been any proof that Iran has a military nuclear program. No international legal or international relation issue should be based on presumed intentions. This determines that the issue of potential nuclear program in Iran should not have gone to the Security Council in the first place. Russia ought to have demanded proof beyond conjecture to allow the matter to be discussed by the Security Council and to have kept it within the remit of AEIA.
4. Assuming that Russia had indeed developed a fear that Iran was planning some nuclear military program, then Russia ought to have demanded that the whole issue of proliferation be considered by the Security Council and not solely that of Iran. Russia, which has a real interest in security and stability of the Middle East as opposed to Europe and US because of its geographical proximity and its ethnic composition, ought to have grasped the opportunity to call for a conference on a Nuclear fee Middle East. Such a call would have pre-empted any Zionist attempt at isolating Iran while being silent of Israel and Pakistan. Russia’s inaction in that logical and politically right path for its own interest makes it, in the eyes of the intelligentsia in the Middle East, look hypocritical at best and Zionist at worst. Why has Russia never called for the question of Israel’s nuclear arsenal, which is at heart of Middle East’s states escalation for armaments, to be discussed? Capitalist Russia has more grounds for such matter to be discussed than Communist Russia because it cannot be accused of being automatically on the side of the dictatorships of the Third World as the Soviet Union was accused of being.
5. Russia ought not to have allowed the UN Security Council, being the rubber stamp of US policies since 1990, to adopt a resolution imposing sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear program. There are mainly two reasons for this argument. First, there was no evidence to suggest that Iran was pursing any military program. Second and more important, Russia ought to have learnt from the lessons of Iraq that Security Council Resolutions once adopted become a lethal weapon in the hands of the imperialists.
The failure of Russia’s foreign advice to Putin on this matter is best manifested by the recently reported murmurs from Lavrov, that Iran has done enough to call for easing of sanctions. The honourable path for Lavrov would be to say that Russia was wrong all along and it is not any further bound by the Security Council Resolution, which makes it hostage to any state willing to bribe a member of the five-plus-one state. But then such a statement would force Putin to ask his advisers to explain the reason why Russia finds itself in such an enviable position. This indeed is a dilemma for Putin.
When Iraq was put under the genocidal blockade between 1990 and 2003, Russia went along with the Zionist Imperialist plan and voted in favour of those unprecedented SC Resolutions. It may be argued that these were times when Russia was in transition following the tremendous shock resulting from the collapse of the Soviet regime, which in itself justified the Russian conduct. But Russia could not have been oblivious to what these resolutions and the measures taken by the US and its allies were preparing the ground for. It was Lavrov himself who told the SC in its 4120nd meeting on 24 March 2000 that the imposition of the No-Fly zone by the US and the UK was being used to destroy Iraq when he said:
The socio-economic and humanitarian situation in Iraq is worsening because civilian facilities in Iraq are constantly the targets of air strikes by the United States and Great Britain. This is happening in the so-called no-flight zones established unilaterally, without the United Nations taking any decision, and which encompass almost 65 per cent of Iraq’s territory.
Our data show that United States and United Kingdom aircraft invaded Iraqi airspace nearly 20,000 times between December 1998 and mid-March 2000. We are particularly concerned about reports of strikes against facilities that are being used in the United Nations humanitarian operation, in particular against food distribution warehouses and against metering stations along oil pipelines.
According to these analyses, 42 per cent of these air strikes have resulted in human casualties. Over the past year, 144 innocent civilians have died and 466 people have been wounded as a result of these air strikes. Our data show that 57 people have been killed and 133 wounded in southern Iraq, and that 87 people have been killed and 313 wounded in the north. Claims that these strikes were not directed against civilian targets do not hold water. Facts—including facts from international experts—attest to the contrary. Nor does the notion that these air strikes were in retaliation for actions by Iraqi anti-aircraft defenses hold water: our data show that facilities unrelated to anti-aircraft defense systems are being hit
It would stand to reason that when NATO (the military arm of Zionist Imperialism) sought to impose a blockade over Libya, Russia would have been alerted to the true purpose of such a measure as being identical to that of Iraq. Once Russia agreed to let NATO have a free hand in Libya, there was no way Russia or any other state could have any control over NATO's actions nor indeed was it possible to draw the lines on what was and was not allowed under the mandate of the SC Resolution. Any Russian diplomat who recommended to Putin that Russia should support NATO's request, should account for his recommendation. It is quite odd for Putin to have recently questioned who granted NATO the right to kill President Gaddafi. The answer is obvious: You did Mr. President!
The Russian blunder in the Libyan disaster is a measure of Putin's dilemma in having failed to accommodate his willingness to get closer to NATO while at the same time trying to maintain Russia's alleged adherence to principles of international law, good international relations and protecting sovereignty of independent states.
The civil war in Syria has exposed more than one shortcoming of Russia's foreign policy. For despite the fact that some of Lavrov's closest aides had spent time working in the Middle East, they nevertheless displayed a lack of understanding of the conflict; its roots and its effects on Russia's national security. Their belief that Syria needs a democratic regime reveals such naivety that calls for little explanation. The Syrian public, like most of the rest of the Arab World, is not ready for Western style democracy. When people lack the ability to have an independent opinion, they become tools in a system that determines their lives. Thus, the alternative to the Ba'ath regime in Syria could only be a fundamentalist Islamic state. The fact that there are dissident voices in Syria, as indeed they exist all over the world, does not indicate that they can rule the country or indeed be part of its ruling elite. A few ex-communists sitting in the comfort of Damascus do not represent an opposition capable of solving the conflict in Syria. It is difficult to see why the Russian diplomats continue to talk about such a forum as being a gate to solving the civil war in Syria. It is even ironic that these same diplomats seem to find it convenient to talk to Syrian ex-communists when they refuse to discuss Russian affairs with Russian ex-communists. The Russian diplomats, especially those who have lived and worked in the Arab World, ought to have advised Putin that the conflict in Syria has nothing to do with democracy or civil rights but is in fact a conflict between the totalitarian secular regime and the alternative totalitarian religious regime.
Putin's clear dislike of totalitarian regimes, which is a natural consequence to his conversion to Capitalism, has been demonstrated in his handling of Syria and manifested in his clear dislike of Assad. This misguided policy, which had not been rectified by any of his foreign affairs advisers, who themselves suffer from the same illness, has contributed to the Syrian regime inability to handle the onslaught brought upon by the massive program to destroy Syria. A wise Russian diplomat should have advised his President that the ousting of the Ba’ath from Syria will be replaced by an Islamic fundamentalist regime in Syria, which will not only destabilize the whole area but will be the main camp for training fanatics to fight in Russia and the Muslim Central Asian Republics.
Putin ought to have heeded his military advisers' views that Syria is strategically the most important country for Russia today outside the old Soviet Union boundaries. The loss of facilities in Tartus will be irreplaceable and any change in regime in Damascus will deny Russia such facilities. Putting political niceties aside, their advice would be to support the Ba'ath regime in Damascus totally and unconditionally. That would have entailed different measures from the outset. Russia ought to have made clear publically and in private to all parties concerned, that it would not allow a regime change in Damascus. Putin ought to have made it clear that Russia's policy is that no country should be allowed to interfere in Syria through arming, financing and recruiting people to intensify the civil war. He should have made it clear that Russia would support Syria if it chose, according to principles of International Law of self-defence, to attack bases of rebels inside neighbouring or even non-neighbouring countries, and that Russia would provide Syria with the weapons it needs to carry out its legitimate right to defend itself and its citizens. None of this came from Putin, which I am sure, was in line with the advice he received from Lavrov and his team and not from the commanders of the Russian armed forces.
Putin's failure did not stop there but went much further into disarming Syria and destroying the partial parity, which Syria, with its chemical weapons, had managed to achieve with Israel's massive weapons of massive destruction, which in itself maintained a balance of no-war-no-peace for three decades. It is true that international Zionism had a golden opportunity to demand Syrian disarmament in the midst of its civil war, relying on no less fabricated stories about these weapons than they maintained for 12 years in the case of Iraq. But Russia's support for that demand has another factor than just the demand of Zionism. It relates to a desire among some powerful centres inside Russia. Some of Putin's closest friends are the most corrupt men Russia has known for decades. The men, who became billionaires overnight in Communist Russia, which had no personal property before 1990s, are either Russian Jews or non-Jewish capitalists who joined the Zionist-Jewish club, which controls international money markets. They were capable of convincing Putin that it would be totally unacceptable for Russia to subject one million Russian Jews who live in today's Israel to the potential of a chemical attack from Syria and thus was proper for Russia to support the Zionist demand.
In whatever shape Syria will come out of its civil war, it will be so much weaker compared to Israel, which would enable the latter to act with impunity thus leading to further instability, wars and destruction in the already devastated Middle East so close to Russia' border.
Ukraine is the lethal test for Putin and the philosophy of Lavrov of rapprochement with NATO. No leader who expects the loyalty of his people should make promises he cannot deliver. Early in the current civil war in Ukraine, Putin made a promise that he would defend the safety of Russians anywhere in the world. He will live to regret having made such a promise. Many Russians living in current Ukraine relied on his promise and acted on it, only to discover the best Russia could give were demands by Lavrov and his team that Ukraine should abide by agreements in Geneva or Minsk, none of which has a mechanism of implementation however sincere their objectives are.
I know that some of my Ukrainian friends will be unhappy to read what I say about the Ukraine, but as an objective observer, I see maters in a different way to the emotional state in which some of them find themselves. It is not easy for an outsider either to understand the problems in Ukraine today, because in order to do so one has to look at the history and political development over the last two centuries. It is fair to say that Ukraine in its current geographic borders never existed in history nor indeed has there been a Ukrainian nation within these borders. The history of the people living in current Ukraine and Russia had been so intermeshed that it is impossible to draw a line between them. Equally relevant is the fact that the people who have lived in the area for the last century have been conditioned into accepting that national identity is secondary to their communist nature which explains why Russians and Ukrainians have had no problem moving around the area with so-called Ukrainians living in Russia and so-called Russians living in Ukrainian land. It also explains why none of the Russians in Crimea for example had any problem when Khrushchev annexed it to Ukraine because it was only a matter of adjusting administrative borders within the Soviets.
When the Soviet Union went into meltdown in 1990, no one had the ability to control events and thus the birth of the current Ukraine was caused by accident more than design or consent of its inhabitants. The turbulence of the last few years is a manifestation of the failure of that artificial birth. It is true that the majority of people living in the West and central current geographic Ukraine have a sense of a national identity separate from Russia. But it is equally true that most of the people in East Ukraine and Crimea believe that they are Russians. Neither side can negate nor seems willing to accommodate the other. This is the reality, which has been grasped by international Zionism to contain Russia in the continuous centuries old manifestation of its 'Russophobia'.
For more than a decade, Zionism manifested in its many actions, ranging from CIA covert activities to NGOs, has been active in exploiting the new Ukrainian nationalism. The reasons is not, as many believe, to help hapless Ukrainian to have democracy and better life, but in order to establish bases on the Russian borders resulting in physically containing Russia and setting up a new arms race that has worked in its favour during the Cold war in weakening the Russian economy.
Putin's failure to handle the Ukrainian debacle manifests itself in the state of affairs as it exists today, which exposes his dilemma. On the one hand, he needs to appease NATO members and especially Zionist Germany among them. But on the other hand he is not totally oblivious to the fact that the more it drags, the bitter the antagonism between the Russians and the nationalist in Ukraine will be, which will not be well received by his fellow citizens in Russia considering what promises he made earlier. The misguided advice Putin received from Lavrov team, which I am sure contradicts the advice emanating from research centres and think tanks in Russia, has landed him in this dilemma.
When President Obama term ends, a hawkish Republican President will be in the White House. With the US Senate dominated by war mongers and a Republican President, Putin should expect a speedy request by the Ukraine, which would be readily accepted, to join NATO. This means that NATO will have its military bases on Moscow's borders creating a situation which not even the darkest of time during the Cold Ward had Russia witnessed.
Putin's dilemma is partly caused by his blindness to the reality of things. Many of the Russians in current Ukraine have communist inclinations, not necessarily because they believe in the ideology, although some must be but because it was during the communist regimes that they lived comfortable life without a sense of alienation and discrimination. It seems that Putin's aversion to communism makes it hard for him to accept the communist inclined people of East Ukraine for what they are.
He ought to have made his stand early and clearly – namely that Russia would not tolerate a coup in Kiev, which took place at the hands of nationalist hooligans, and that Russia will not allow Ukraine to be part of NATO. By demanding such a stand, I do not mean to make political statements good for public consumption, but by making it clear that Russia will do whatever it takes to secure these objectives. Putin did nothing of that. I am sure that only a few will disagree on the first part of the above demands regarding the inadmissibility of the coup that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych. But there may be those who would argue that Russia has neither the legal nor the moral grounds to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. However, I believe that Russia has both rights to prevent Ukraine from doing so. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was allegedly set up in 1949 for the collective defence of states bordering the Atlantic. But no sooner has it been established than it started to expand in its membership and its activities. Firstly, it went far beyond the Atlantic when Turkey joined it to ensure that NATO bases surrounded the Soviet Union at its southern borders. The activities of NATO soon turned out to be not the collective defence of its members. It took part in the Korean War; blockaded Iraq; invaded Afghanistan; destroyed Serbia; carved out Kosovo; occupied Iraq; and destroyed Libya to mention only a few major actions since WWII. All of these actions render NATO an organization of aggression in service of the US Imperialist policies. It is indeed within Russian rights to prevent such an organization based on aggression and expansion to establish bases on its borders. In fact such an argument was upheld by NATO states when in 1962 the US took the world to the brink of a nuclear war after the Soviet Union based missiles on Cuban soil. The US/NATO actions in the invasion of Iraq were based on the alleged right to pre-empt threats. It is not a question of free will of nations to join organizations of aggression if it makes them bases for aggression against their neighbors. Ukrainians do not have that choice.
Putin can make this stand and defend it on moral and legal grounds, but he has first to solve his dilemma by disassociating himself from NATO in preventing Lavrov and his team from believing and referring to NATO states a Russia's partners. If NATO states are partners then Ukraine (and indeed Russia too) should be allowed into NATO. But if Ukraine should be prevented from joining NATO, then members of the latter cannot be partners.
Only Putin can solve this dilemma, the failure of which can threaten the very existence of Russia.
Abdul-Haq A-Ani (Dr.)
3 December 2014