Friday, September 30, 2016


"In driving the terms of the bargain, Moscow has reasserted its status as a power to be reckoned with in the Middle East. It can for now preserve President Assad’s regime as the strongest force in the country, the reason for its intervention in the first place. Washington meanwhile gets everyone to join forces in the fight against Isis. In themselves, these are not ingredients that will end the war. Any sustainable solution to the crisis must involve an end to President Assad’s rule and the creation of a transitional authority that includes representatives of the Sunni majority. That remains a very distant prospect. For the past year, Moscow has shaped the evolution of the war by rescuing a murderous regime and reversing the military momentum in its favour. The onus is now on Russia to show that it can also exercise its influence to shape the peace".
Leader, "The US and Russia find common ground in Syria". The Financial Times. 14 September 2016, in
Whatever the qualities of the Soviet leadership, its training is eminently political and conceptual. Reading Lenin or Mao or Stalin, one is struck by the emphasis on the relationship between political, military, psychological and economic factors, the insistence on finding a conceptual basis for political action and on the need for dominating a situation by flexible tactics and inflexible purpose. And the internal struggles in the Kremlin ensure that only the most iron-nerved reach the top. Against the politburo, trained to think in general terms and freed of problems of day-to-day administration, we have pitted leaders overwhelmed with departmental duties and trained to think that the cardinal sin is to transgress on another's field of specialization....As a result the contest between us and the Soviet system has had many of the attributes of any contest between a professional and an amateur. Even a mediocre professional will usually defeat an excellent amateur, not because the amateur does not know what to do, but because he cannot react with sufficient speed and consistency.”
Henry Alfred Kissinger. Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy. (1957). pp. 434-435.
Regardless of anything else, I do not like. much less admire either as a historical individual or as a 'person', qua person, Vladimir Putin. He is a corrupt, narrow-minded, abusive, vulgar man, whose idée fixe is the resurrection of Sovietskaya Vlast (God help us). Whatever positive role he had in Russian history was played out by 2006 if not earlier. For the past ten years he has been progressively driving Russia and its poor peoples into the ground. Economically, politically and morally. The day that the regime will collapse, cannot be currently predicted but the fact that the regime will collapse sooner or later is something that no one can gainsay. With however all that being said, the unfortunate fact of the matter is, in the case of Russian intervention in Syria, that Grazhdanin Putin, has proven himself to be a past master in his employment of tactics. At almost every juncture during Russia's military involvement in Syria, Moskva has shown itself to far superior to its American counter-parts. Comparing Putin with either the American President or Secretary Kerry leaves one shaking ones head at how sadly outplayed the former are by the latter. Au fond, perhaps this is not too surprising, as Putin, et. al., very much knows what they want and have a good idea as to how to go about it. Whereas the Americans (we will not even mention the Europeans...), basically do not know what they want. Do they want to overthrow the Assad regime? Do they not want to overthrow the Assad regime and merely destroy the proto-statelet of ISIS? Are they willing to countenance a Kurdish statelet in Northern Syria despite Turkey's opposition or not? Clear answers to all these questions and many other both in the past five years and even now is difficult to hazard. And it is this indeterminacy of American / Western goals and policy which I believe counts as much for the triumph (for now) of Putinism in Syria, as the second-rate nature of American and Western policy-makers. Unfortunately, there is little reason to believe that this state of affairs will change anytime soon. Unfortunately, Henry Kissinger was and is correct in his statement that 'even a mediocre professional will usually defeat an excellent amateur'.