New Eastern Outlook
by Steven MacMillan
Listening to the speeches of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and the President of the United States, Barack Obama, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Monday, one is instantly struck by the polarization of the leader’s interpretation of world events. It is obvious that one leader resides in real world, whilst the other appears to live in a deluded fantasy.
You can understand why US Secretary of State, John Kerry, starts yawning 2 minutes and 47 seconds into Obama’s speech, as the US President’s delivery was completely devoid of vigour, spirit or honesty. An empty suit hypnotically going through the motions and reciting the usual propagated slogans, the US President spends as much time pausing as he does reading off his trusted teleprompter.
Unsurprisingly, Obama promulgated the usual slogans in relation to Ukraine and Syria. The US President referred to the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as a tyrant “who drops barrel bombs to massacre innocent children”, then moved on to deceptively describe how the Syrian conflict started in addition to reiterating once again that Assad must go:
“Let’s remember how this started. Assad reacted to peaceful protests, by escalating repression and killing, and in turn created the environment for the current strife… Realism also requires a managed transition away from Assad and to a new leader.”
A declassified intelligence report from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in 2012, a year after the violence erupted, completely contradicts the notion that the protests were “peaceful”, as the report documents that “the Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI [Al-Qaeda in Iraq], are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.”
In addition, an evil dictator slaughtering peaceful protestors is the exact same propaganda the West used in order to demonize Muammar al-Qaddafi in Libya, even though the Libyan leader just like the Syrian leader was reacting to violent protests. Associate Professor of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Alan J. Kuperman, wrote a policy brief in 2013, titled: Lessons from Libya: How not to Intervene, in which he dispels the false narrative that Qaddafi instigated the violence:
“Contrary to Western media reports, Qaddafi did not initiate Libya’s violence by targeting peaceful protesters. The United Nations and Amnesty International have documented that in all four Libyan cities initially consumed by civil conflict in mid-February 2011—Benghazi, Al Bayda, Tripoli, and Misurata—violence was actually initiated by the protesters. The government responded to the rebels militarily but never intentionally targeted civilians or resorted to “indiscriminate” force, as Western media claimed.”
Obama on Ukraine
Obama’s comments on the crisis in Ukraine were factually inaccurate and frankly absurd, although it is the type of rhetoric incessantly spouted by Western officials. The US President said:
“Consider Russia’s annexation of Crimea and further aggression in Eastern Ukraine. America has few economic interests in Ukraine, we recognise the deep and complex history between Russia and Ukraine, but we cannot stand by when the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is flagrantly violated. If that happens without consequence in Ukraine, it could happen to any nation here today.”
So the US apparently “cannot stand by when the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is flagrantly violated”, at the same time the US is leading a coalition in Syria which violates international law and violates Syria’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Secondly, there was a referendum in Crimea and the majority voted to rejoin Russia, Moscow did not coercively and aggressively force the Crimean people into the decision.
Thirdly, it was the West that overthrew the Ukrainian government, not Russia, a reality that even Foreign Affairs admits in an article written by the Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, John J. Mearsheimer, titled: Why the Ukraine crisis is the West’s fault:
“The United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and integrate it into the West. At the same time, the EU’s expansion eastward and the West’s backing of the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine — beginning with the Orange Revolution in 2004 — were critical elements, too.”
“Although the full extent of U.S. involvement has not yet come to light, it is clear that Washington backed the coup…The United States and its allies should abandon their plan to Westernize Ukraine and instead aim to make it a neutral buffer….. It is time to put an end to Western support for another Orange Revolution…..The result is that the United States and its allies unknowingly provoked a major crisis over Ukraine.”
Fourthly, how can Obama say “America has few economic interests in Ukraine”, when Hunter Biden, the son of the US Vice President, Joe Biden, joined the Board of Directors of one of the largest gas company’s in Ukraine following the coup?
A rare truth in Obama’s speech was when he called on Muslims to continue to reject “those who distort Islam to preach intolerance and promote violence”, adding that people that are not Muslim should reject “the ignorance that equates Islam with terror.” I completely agree with this statement. What Obama omits however, is that the majority of the radical Islamic terror groups that distort Islam are created and supported by Western intelligence agencies and regional allies in the first place.
Another microcosm of truth in Obama’s speech was not anything Obama actually said, but the response by the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, to the US President’s fallacious words. Even though the US has played a pivotal role in directly causing the Syrian crisis – by funding ISIS and al-Qaeda to overthrow the Syrian government – in addition to being hostile to any serious dialogue with Russia and Iran, it still didn’t stop Obama falsely claiming “the United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the [Syrian] conflict.” Lavrov’s response to the comment was a frustrated shake of the head, and a look of disbelief that someone can lie so blatantly to the world (I suggest you watch that part, it’s quite amusing – from 26.15 into the speech).
Hopefully however, the US will eventually come to their senses and engage seriously with key players around the world to end conflicts they played a major role in creating – I wouldn’t hold your breath though.
Putin: The Voice of Reason
Putin’s speech was the antithesis of Obama’s – insightful, honest, constructive and statesman-like. The Russian President’s analysis of the major geopolitical issues of our time was outstanding, with many practical, viable solutions to these issues provided. I highly recommend readers listen to the full speech as it is filled with critical and pertinent information, and I can’t include it all in this article. (Please not the quotes from Putin below are based on the Russian to English translation of his speech featured in this RT article)
Putin stressed that some nations “after the end of the cold war” considered themselves “so strong and exceptional” that they thought “they knew better than others”. The Russian President asserted that it is “extremely dangerous” for states to attempt to “undermine the legitimacy of the United Nations”:
“Russia stands ready to work together with its partners on the basis of broad consensus, but we consider the attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the United Nations as extremely dangerous. They could lead to the collapse of the architecture of international relations, and then there would be no other rules left but the rule of force. We would get a world dominated by selfishness, rather than collective work. A world increasingly characterized by dictates, rather than equality. There would be less genuine democracy and freedom, and there would be a world where true independent states would be replaced by an ever growing number of de facto protectorates and externally controlled territories.”
Speaking about the turmoil in the Middle East, the Russian leader correctly denounces “aggressive foreign interference” as a destructive force which has only brought chaos, not democracy:
“But how did it actually turn out? Rather than bringing about reforms, aggressive foreign interference has resulted in the destruction of national institutions and the lifestyle itself. Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social disaster, and nobody cares a bit about human rights – including, the right to life. I cannot help asking those who have caused this situation: do you realize now what you have done? But I am afraid that no one is going to answer that. Indeed, policies based on self-conceit and belief in ones exceptionality and impunity, have never been abandoned.”
NATO’s “Gross Violation” of UNSC Resolution 1973
Putin specifically pinpoints Libya as a major recruiting ground for the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) – after NATO destroyed the North African nation in 2011, adding that Western supported rebels in Syria often defect to ISIS:
“Many recruits also come from Libya, a country whose statehood was destroyed as a result of a gross violation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1973. And now the ranks of radicals are being joined by the members of the so-called moderate Syrian opposition, [which is] supported by the Western countries. First they are armed and trained, and then they defect to the so-called Islamic State.”
Reports of US trained “moderate” fighters defecting to ISIS are ubiquitous. One example was when approximately 3,000 rebels from the Free Syrian Army defected to ISIS earlier this year. Interestingly, Putin also points out that ISIS did not just magically appear out of thin air, but the group was “forged as a tool against undesirable regimes”:
“Besides, the Islamic State itself did not just come from nowhere; it was also initially forged as a tool against undesirable secular regimes.”
This thesis is further confirmed by the 2012 declassified report from the DIA, which reveals that the powers supporting the Syrian opposition – “Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey” – wanted to create a “Salafist principality in Eastern Syria in order to isolate the Syrian regime”:
“Opposition forces are trying to control the Eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor), adjacent to the Western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar), in addition to neighbouring Turkish borders. Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey are supporting these efforts… If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).” (p.5)
The former head of the DIA, Michael T. Flynn, also recently admitted that the Obama administration took the “willful decision” to support the rise of ISIS.
Don’t Play with Fire
Putin then goes on to issue a stark warning to the nefarious forces who have been using radical groups as geopolitical tools:
“It is hypocritical and irresponsible to make loud declarations about the threat of international terrorism, while turning a blind-eye to the channels of financing… It would be equally irresponsible to try to manipulate extremist groups and place them at one’s service in order to achieve one’s own political goals, in the hope of later dealing with them. To those who do so, I would like to say: Dear sirs, no doubt you are dealing with rough and cruel people, but they are [not] primitive or silly, they are just as clever as you are, and you never know who is manipulating whom… We believe that any attempts to play games with terrorists, let alone to arm them, are not just short-sighted but fire hazardous.”
ISIS “desecrates one of the greatest world religions by its bloody crimes”, Russia’s leader said, adding: “The ideology of militants makes a mockery of Islam and perverts it true humanistic values.”
As ISIS continues to expand its influence, it is increasingly becoming a national security threat for numerous countries outside of the Middle East, and “Russia is not an exception”. Putin stated that “we cannot allow these criminals who have already tasted blood to return back home and continue their evil doings… Russia has always been consistently fighting against terrorism in all its forms. Today, we provide military and technical assistance both to Iraq and Syria and many other countries of the region who are fighting terrorist groups. We think it is an enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government and its armed forces, who are valiantly fighting terrorism face to face. We should finally acknowledge that no one but President Assad’s armed forces and Kurdish militia are truly fighting Islamic State and other terrorist organizations in Syria”
The Russia President stated the solution to the scourge of ISIS is to “create a genuinely broad international coalition against terrorism” in accordance with “international law”, which “similar to the anti-Hitler coalition, could unite a broad range of forces”.
“The desire to explore new geopolitical areas is still present among some of our colleagues,” Putin said. “First they continued their policy of expanding NATO,” he said, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, “they offered post-Soviet countries a false choice – either to be with the West or with the East. Sooner or later this logic of confrontation was bound to spark off a grave geopolitical crisis. This is exactly what happened in Ukraine where the discontent of the population with the current authorities was used and a military coup was orchestrated from outside that triggered civil war as a result.”
Russia’s leader maintained that the solution to the Ukrainian crisis is “through the full and faithful implementation of the Minsk accords”:
“We are confident that only through full and faithful implementation of the Minsk agreements of February 12th2015, can we put an end to the bloodshed and find a way out of the deadlock. Ukraine’s territorial integrity cannot be ensured by threats and the force of arms. What is needed is a genuine consideration of the interests and rights of people in the Donbass region, and respect for their choice.”
What is blatantly clear from listening to both leaders’ speeches is that the moral leader of the world resides in Russia.