Putin saves us from ourselves

By Ilana Mercer

He vetoed a draft United Nations Security Council resolution calling on President Bashar Assad to step down. Such a resolution, he argued, would serve as a ruse for the U.S. to do a Libya in Syria.

He made the case that the “Syrian crisis would be better resolved by Syrians themselves,” and that the West should confine itself to brokering a cease-fire in that country and encouraging dialogue between the feuding factions.

And, “Six months ago,” by the Daily Star’s telling, he “vetoed an earlier draft resolution threatening Damascus with sanctions.”

He is Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president-elect. And he has done nothing Ron Paul, president of America’s libertarians, would not have done: work to avert another ill-conceived, idiotic American intervention in a country in which it has no business, advocate for a peaceful resolution to the conflict, and oppose economic sanctions, which always and everywhere do more damage than good.

A just course of action is a just course of action irrespective of the actor.

The Sino-Russian alliance has been promoting the idea of an accord, involving “all the Syrians, the government and all opposition groups,” or so the Washington Post framed their side. NATO (nee the U.S.) was champing at the bit to take the battle for Syria away from the Syrians and put it where they believe it belongs: the U.S. military and its proxies.

Now, out of the blue, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is pretending that the United States and its Arab and European allies have always supported such a civilized solution in Syria and were merely waiting on the Russians to get with the peace program. This is the same woman who came close to squatting on Gadhafi’s corpse, in honor of her country’s custom of peeing on its dead enemies.

Yes, one minute the Obama administration and its U.N. and Arab League lickspittles had been itching to oust Assad. The next, the same coalition was dusting Kofi Annan off and dispatching him, as a U.N. envoy, to mediate a resolution to Syria’s civil war.

What’s going on here?

Let us look at the Libyan precedent. Col. Moammar Gadhafi had pleaded with the powers that played him like a puppet; he wanted to negotiate a resolution to the conflict in his country. The only one to listen was South African President Jacob Zuma, who zoomed into action, embarking on two tours of duty in Libya to broker a cease-fire. Zuma’s mission? To get the Libyan leader to say and do the requisite things that would pacify the USA’s new buddies, also known as The Rebels, Allah bless their bonny heads.

Speaking in Tripoli, Zuma divulged that he and “the tyrant” (to quote the Mail Online – and that paper’s idea of impartial reporting) had “discussed the necessity of giving the Libyan people the opportunity to solve their problems on their own.”

Obama and his paternalistic pals pooh-poohed that ludicrous notion. The American media hardly dignified these African efforts at keeping it in the Continent.

The African Union had toiled to get the Über dogs of war to leave Libya alone. Instead, America rebuffed Gadhafi’s requests, killed the colonel’s son and a couple of his grandchildren, and then joined its French friends to fly sorties up over The Rebels, as the latter lynched Gadhafi on camera to the sounds of blood-curdling harangues of “Allahu Akbar.” “NATO is deprived of all morals and all civilization,” concluded the Libyan government spokesperson, Moussa Ibrahim. And who could argue with him?

That’s how we roll. That’s how we were about to roll in Syria.

But something happened on the way to Syria.

A few days before Kofi was called in – on March 19, to be precise – Al Arabiya News first reported that “Russian special forces arrived in the Syrian Mediterranean port city of Tartus.” The news agency’s front page featured an image of Western-looking soldiers, appended to which was the following caption: “A Russian ship carrying a unit of ‘anti-terrorist marines’ is reportedly docked at the Syrian port city of Tartus.” DEBKAfile, the “Israeli-based, open-source military intelligence website,” confirmed that the Russians had dropped anchor:

“Two Russian naval vessels have anchored at the Syrian port of Tartus, Russian Black Sea headquarters at Sevastopol reports. Their mission and identities were not disclosed, except that one was carrying a unit of ‘anti-terrorist marines’ and the other, a military tanker which joined ‘a Russian naval reconnaissance and surveillance ship already tied up in Tartus.'”

Currently, Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, is being coy. He denies “media reports alleging a Russian military buildup in Syria.”

We know better.

For too long, the U.S. has been operating upon the premise that American men and matériel should be capable of reaching and controlling all corners of the world. This was a bully’s universe.

Putin put down his foot.

America will never admit it, and Russia can’t afford to rub our faces in it – but I suspect that the events some of us watched closely last week were a successful attempt by the Russians at replacing bully power with a balance of power.

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