Check and Mate

From one of the greatest strategic thinkers in modern times, as well as one of Vladimir Putin’s greatest foes. Here is an analysis of the situation in Syria given by Gary Kasparov:

Cynically referring to the al-Assad regime’s vicious war of oppression against the Syrian people as a civil war is a mendacious trick that invites parallels to the Spanish Civil War. Francisco Franco’s rebellion against the elected government of Spain in 1936 eventually turned the country into the h…

  1. ctlaw

    Bad analogy that smears the good name of the Generalissimo.

    Kasparov is one of those guys who is brilliant at one thing but that does not translate into common sense at another.

    He is to chess what Jim Carrey is to physical comedy.

    The Spanish Republican forces were bad guys before Franco. Was the Assad Family Regime originally an alternative to something worse?

    Arguably, the better analogy would place Assad as the Spanish Republicans with no Franco to oppose them.

    Franco is more like the Egyptian or Turkish militaries that we now regret we discouraged from stomping out fundamentalism or the Iranian military if it had offed Khomeini.

    Franco was mainly labeled a bad guy because his frustrating of communism really pissed off the Western left.

    His almost miraculous failure to join the Axis was arguably the most critical factor in preventing a Nazi victory. Where has the Assad Regime shown similar restraint?

    The real problem is that for 90 years the world has pandered to the evil elements in third world countries. That has cultivated savage regimes/movements and eventually these savage movements start to run low on civilized victims and go after each other.

  2. Roberto
    Valiuth: I know there is strong opposition about being involved in Syria on Ricochet form many corners, but doesn’t Kasparov make a good point?

    It would be more accurate to say he makes an interesting historical parallel. His point is completely undermined by his flawed conclusion.

    Valiuth:

     Will Obama and David Cameron pose for more photos with Putin while their dithering guarantees the destruction of the remaining moderate elements among the Syrian rebels?

    The so-called “moderate elements” were by an large never anything more than a fiction. At no point did they ever have substantial ground presence or popular support. What you have is a handful of Syrians sophisticated enough to dine with Western leaders, attend conferences and plea for funds. There was never any possibility they would have a significant effect on the course of this war.

  3. Skyler

    Ctlaw, that is an absurd assertion that the duly elected government of Spain was the bad side in the Spanish civil war when it started.

    The problem is that not only did France and the UK decide not to help the republicans, they enforced an arms embargo and forbid anyone to provide arms to either side. Of course the nationalists had no problems getting Germany to ignore the embargo.

    The republican government foolishly lost control of most of its military, but they still had substantial treasures in gold amassed during their colonial days. But money will not win a war if you can’t convert it into arms, and the embargo prevented just that. They were left to the mercy of the USSR who were the only ones to offer to help, and who cheated and manipulated them and made victims of Stalin’s purges.

    Yes, they were socialists but not communists, and there is plenty of blame to share on all sides, but to say the republicans were the bad guys and the nationalists were the good is inaccurate and misleading.

  4. ctlaw
    Skyler: Yes, they were socialists but not communists, and there is plenty of blame to share on all sides, but to say the republicans were the bad guys and the nationalists were the good is inaccurate and misleading. · 0 minutes ago

    They were both socialists and communists and the problem is the latter almost always gains control. When given the opportunity to show their true colors, the left did in the Red Terror.

    Of course many of the Nationalist were also socialists. The difference is any Nazi-like elements in the Nationalsts did not have the power or ruthlessness that the Communists had amongst Republicans.

    When given the opportunity to be truly evil, Franco notably did not take it.

  5. Valiuth

    Lets not get too hung up on the details of the Spanish Civil War here. The point is the trouble in Syria isn’t unprecedented and right now the only foreign interference is coming from all bad actors. Thus the situation is only being shaped in a negative way. Which is Kasparov’s point about the situation. 

  6. Skyler

    Yes, arguments about the Spanish Civil war seem to invoke great passion even today among those who aren’t even Spanish. But I can’t let the statement that Franco wasn’t truly evil go. He was a dictator who overthrew a duly elected government, and the Spanish people suffered mightily, and still have not recovered. The Spanish government was supported by anarchists and communists, but the government itself was largely benign until it was forced to give power to communists by the arms embargo. Even at the international level, gun control has terrible consequences.

  7. Aaron Miller

    What is the upside in either case? Al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism are not going away. We can’t stamp out organizations and ideologies which span the entire world. We are certainly not going to war with every state sponsor of terrorism; never Saudi Arabia, the financial heart of Wahhabism.

    If Republicans are committed to an endless scattershot of battles with Al Qaeda’s various branches, then let them rise to power in Syria so that they have to fight in the open.

  8. FloppyDisk90

    I have yet to see a clear articulation of how exactly the US should intervene in Syria, what we hope to achieve, and what the desired end state is.  And “we can’t just stand by and let Syria continue to be a Russian satellite state” doesn’t count.

  9. MMPadre
    Benghazi was a failure of preparedness. Our mistake was not that we were there or took out the regime but because we got complacent about the danger.

    I must disagree.  There were forces available, but no will to use them, because State and the Executive feared the consequences of failure.  So they dithered until nothing could be done.  And the mistakes go all the way back to the ill-considered decision to take out KaDaffy in the first place, as a favor to the Euros, with no noticeable effort to think through the consequences.

  10. Valiuth

    First off, by going in now we have lost a lot of ground.

    But, here are something we should make sure we do. Declare the Assad regime illegitimate, and seek to freeze all their foreign assets. Pressure the Europeans to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization and to freeze their assets. I would send in agents to assess just how infiltrated with Al Queda types the Syrian Rebels are and if there are groups that can be separated and equipped. The goal being to start building allies on the ground in Syria to be able to back against the Al Queda types once Assad falls. I would also push and hammer the UN into tacking up sanctions against Syria. I would want to put the Russians on the spot as often as possible in affirming their support for Assad and his brutal regime. 

    I would also seek to undermine Assads regime by declaring our commitment to protecting Syrian minorities once the regime falls. Right now they back Assad be cause he is what is standing between them and beheading. 

  11. Devereaux
    Valiuth: First off, by going in now we have lost a lot of ground.

    But, here are something we should make sure we do. Declare the Assad regime illegitimate, and seek to freeze all their foreign assets. Pressure the Europeans to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization and to freeze their assets. I would send in agents to assess just how infiltrated with Al Queda types the Syrian Rebels are and if there are groups that can be separated and equipped. The goal being to start building allies on the ground in Syria to be able to back against the Al Queda types once Assad falls. I would also push and hammer the UN into tacking up sanctions against Syria. I would want to put the Russians on the spot as often as possible in affirming their support for Assad and his brutal regime. 

    I would also seek to undermine Assads regime by declaring our commitment to protecting Syrian minorities once the regime falls. Right now they back Assad be cause he is what is standing between them and beheading.  · 0 minutes ago

    My, how ambitious. Using the UN no less.

    (c0nt’d)

  12. Devereaux

    What I still don’t see is what FD90 says in #10.

    ?What isour interest. Syria is in the world, and part of the Mideast the whole of which has proven very uneven and unstable. Joining sides with almost anyone other than Israel seems foolish.

    I have no issue with publishing our dislike of both sides in this fiasco. But just because Putin is playing doesn’t mean we have to. Putin has his own reasons, and it justmight be useful for NSA to discover those rather than spy on us. But I sense that it is a losing proposition for Russia, as no good will come out of Syria.

    The other issue, other than “playing on the world chessboard” is just what does Syria mean to the world. It hardly is a major power broker, doesn’t hold international influence, and with our hopefully soon-to-be oil independence doesn’t much do anything FOR us.

    Overall I would say that far more importantly we don’t have any coherent foreign strategy – that promotes OUR interests (if we even recognize what they are). As for the two sides in Syria, I really could care less who wins.

  13. Devereaux

    Double post.

  14. Devereaux

    What I still don’t see is what FD90 says in #10.

    ?What isour interest. Syria is in the world, and part of the Mideast the whole of which has proven very uneven and unstable. Joining sides with almost anyone other than Israel seems foolish.

    I have no issue with publishing our dislike of both sides in this fiasco. But just because Putin is playing doesn’t mean we have to. Putin has his own reasons, and it justmight be useful for NSA to discover those rather than spy on us. But I sense that it is a losing proposition for Russia, as no good will come out of Syria.

    The other issue, other than “playing on the world chessboard” is just what does Syria mean to the world. It hardly is a major power broker, doesn’t hold international influence, and with our hopefully soon-to-be oil independence doesn’t much do anything FOR us.

    Overall I would say that far more importantly we don’t have any coherent foreign strategy – that promotes OUR interests (if we even recognize what they are). As for the two sides in Syria, I really could care less who wins.

  15. Devereaux

    What I still don’t see is what FD90 says in #10.

    ?What isour interest. Syria is in the world, and part of the Mideast the whole of which has proven very uneven and unstable. Joining sides with almost anyone other than Israel seems foolish.

    I have no issue with publishing our dislike of both sides in this fiasco. But just because Putin is playing doesn’t mean we have to. Putin has his own reasons, and it justmight be useful for NSA to discover those rather than spy on us. But I sense that it is a losing proposition for Russia, as no good will come out of Syria.

    The other issue, other than “playing on the world chessboard” is just what does Syria mean to the world. It hardly is a major power broker, doesn’t hold international influence, and with our hopefully soon-to-be oil independence doesn’t much do anything FOR us.

    Overall I would say that far more importantly we don’t have any coherent foreign strategy – that promotes OUR interests (if we even recognize what they are). As for the two sides in Syria, I really could care less who wins.

  16. Devereaux

    What I still don’t see is what FD90 says in #10.

    ?What isour interest. Syria is in the world, and part of the Mideast the whole of which has proven very uneven and unstable. Joining sides with almost anyone other than Israel seems foolish.

    I have no issue with publishing our dislike of both sides in this fiasco. But just because Putin is playing doesn’t mean we have to. Putin has his own reasons, and it justmight be useful for NSA to discover those rather than spy on us. But I sense that it is a losing proposition for Russia, as no good will come out of Syria.

    The other issue, other than “playing on the world chessboard” is just what does Syria mean to the world. It hardly is a major power broker, doesn’t hold international influence, and with our hopefully soon-to-be oil independence doesn’t much do anything FOR us.

    Overall I would say that far more importantly we don’t have any coherent foreign strategy – that promotes OUR interests (if we even recognize what they are). As for the two sides in Syria, I really could care less who wins.

  17. Devereaux

    Double post.

  18. Devereaux

    Double post.

  19. Byron Horatio

    Yeah, I would say siding with the guy who will not behead you is pretty savvy. Face it, the rebels were going to be monopolized by jihadists. It was going to attract them in the thousands. Any secular cause was doomed. I would even go farther to say that if we have any interest at all here, it would be in seeing the rebels smashed and al-Qaeda bled white there. At least with Assad, we have a relatively secular dictator who won’t exterminate the Christians. Can’t be so sure with a “moderate” victory.

  20. Hang On

    I am a complete cynic when in comes to the Middle East. We have no friends there. Only enemies who want our help and enemies who burn our flag. That doesn’t mean I’m opposed to providing arms. I’m in favor of it. But not in sufficient numbers that anybody can win, but just keep slaughtering each other. If our enemies kill each other, all the better. That would be the leadership I would like to see.

    And as for the Spain parallel, when you have a civil war, the side that is most ruthless is going to win. If you think a bunch of democrats interested in civil rights win in such a situation, you are just wrong. Fascists vs. communists was inevitable because ruthlessness prevails. Then comes the peace when people are tired of slaughtering each other. Then if people are wise, they will figure out how to build institutions in which the slaughter will not occur again — at least for a very long time. And it takes a long time to build these institutions. It took Spain half a century.

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