Vladimir Putin, the Strong Horse

 

horse_1456083iOsama Bin Laden said, “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, they will naturally want to side with the strong horse.” Understanding that fact of human nature and geopolitics, Vladimir Putin galloped into Syria to show the Middle East that Russia rides high while the US flees from the world stage.

While President Obama busies himself making silly faces toward a selfie stick, many beleaguered residents of Syria and Iraq are more than happy to welcome a new sheriff to town.

Amid the ornate walls of Damascus’ famed Omayyad Mosque, preacher Maamoun Rahmeh stood before worshippers last week, declaring Russian President Vladimir Putin a “giant and beloved leader” who has “destroyed the myth of the self-aggrandizing America.”

Posters of Putin are popping up on cars and billboards elsewhere in parts of Syria and Iraq, praising the Russian military intervention in Syria as one that will redress the balance of power in the region.

The Russian leader is winning accolades from many in Iraq and Syria, who see Russian airstrikes in Syria as a turning point after more than a year of largely ineffectual efforts by the U.S.-led coalition to dislodge the Islamic State militants who have occupied significant parts of the two countries.

The reactions underscore that while the West may criticize Putin for supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad, there is some relief in the region at the emergence of a player with a coherent – if controversial – strategy.

Most people who have watched chaos reign for years will welcome even a bloody ruler if he enforces some semblance of order. And, for all his myriad faults, Putin’s investment of blood and treasure in the region has given hope to residents. One Damascene marveled that “Putin does more than just speak.”

A professor from Homs agreed. “The (Russian) intervention has raised the morale of the Syrian army and the Syrian people alike,” said Dr. Samir Haddad. “President Putin has a distinguished personality and charisma, and it has become clear that world leaders have gradually started approving, openly or secretly, of this intervention.”

Iraqis are joining in the praise for Moscow, embittered from years of war followed by sudden US abandonment:

“Russia does not play games. They are problem solvers, and they do it quietly and efficiently, not like the Americans who prefer to do everything in front of the cameras,” said Hussein Karim, a 21-year-old medical student from Baghdad.

In one cartoon widely distributed among Iraqis on Facebook and Twitter, U.S. President Barack Obama is dressed as a Sunni sheikh, while Putin as a Shiite imam, suggesting the two are taking sides.

Another cartoon shows a bare-chested Putin holding IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by the collar of his jalabaya, looking very intimidating. He says to al-Baghdadi: “Where do you think you’re going? I’ll flatten you like flour,” a popular Iraqi expression.

Al-Baghdadi, holding a cellphone, shouts: “Obama, save me!”

The New York Times also noticed Putin’s growing fan club in Iraq.

At a seminar of journalists and civic leaders last week, Faris Hammam, the leader of the local writers union, asked how many attendees were glad the Russian military was carrying out airstrikes in Syria. Most shot up their hands.

“The Russian intervention is welcomed, not because they like intervention but because of the American failure,” Hammam said.

“In the Middle East, what often counts is strength — or at least the illusion of it,” said Hayder al-Khoei, an associate fellow at Chatham House, a London-based international-affairs research group.

Under Obama’s feckless foreign policy, America has revealed herself as a nation not to be trusted. The President repeatedly promised that he would take the fight to ISIS and help protect the Yazidis, Kurds, and other oppressed peoples suffering under their boots and blades. But after more than a year of talk and dithering, the people of the Middle East have come to a different conclusion: Obama lied.

In a region of centuries-long memories and grievances, America’s betrayal will not be forgotten.

There are 56 comments.

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  1. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    After Obama is finally gone, I’m not sure how much the next president will be able to do.  I think we’re going to be inches from war everywhere we look.  The only option might be to walk away, and that means that sooner or later the trouble follows.

    • #1
  2. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    Judge Mental:After Obama is finally gone, I’m not sure how much the next president will be able to do. I think we’re going to be inches from war everywhere we look. The only option might be to walk away, and that means that sooner or later the trouble follows.

    The next president will basically have two options, accept a new world order designed by Russia and China or world war. When the next president takes office, Russia will likely be dominant in Syria and Iraq, and should be well on it’s way to dominate the entire Gulf Region. Does anyone doubt that Russian tanks will also be parked at the western border of Ukraine and maybe in the Baltics as well

    It’s interesting that the members of Mr. Obama’s coalition are changing memberships, the new horse in town looks steady and reliable -it looks like winner with a leader.

    • #2
  3. David Sussman Contributor
    David Sussman
    @DaveSussman

    When Obama loses 60 Minutes.

    • #3
  4. Roadrunner Inactive
    Roadrunner
    @Roadrunner

    We destroyed the strategic balance in the mideast when we invaded Iraq.  As soon as it was democratic it was going to dominated by the Iranians.  The idea of a generations long war was a fantasy.  The idea that purple fingers would heal a corrupt religion was a fantasy.  We have a bad situation in the Mideast because of this and for an added benefit we also have Obamacare.  Our choices are to back ISIS, back the Russians or do nothing.  Some think that the fantasy of freedom loving Islamic rebels will sell one more time.  Amusingly the same people believe that the welcome mat should go our to all those young men escaping the region.  There is something inconsistent with these ideas.  George Bush and Barack Obama, what a team.  They both empowered Iran and Russia.  At least that is what Obama wanted to do.

    • #4
  5. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    Nature abhors a vacuum.  Putin acts while others temporize.

    • #5
  6. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Nothing to worry about.  Putin isn’t even wearing a bicycle helmet.

    • #6
  7. jetstream Inactive
    jetstream
    @jetstream

    Basil Fawlty:Nothing to worry about. Putin isn’t even wearing a bicycle helmet.

    That’s true, but, there’s an offsetting penalty. Obama’s choices in hardware lacked good judgement, his bicycle was not equipped with a basket.

    • #7
  8. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    jetstream:

    Basil Fawlty:Nothing to worry about. Putin isn’t even wearing a bicycle helmet.

    That’s true, but, there’s an offsetting penalty. Obama’s choices in hardware lacked good judgement, his bicycle was not equipped with a basket.

    Only his bicycle?

    • #8
  9. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:In a region of centuries-long memories and grievances, America’s betrayal will not be forgotten.

    I wouldn’t sweat it.  America (the State) has been genuinely unpopular in the Middle East at least since 1948 when it supported the creation of Israel.  Can’t lose what you haven’t got, so why worry about it?

    What would worry me is the increased perception of ineffectiveness/incoherence:

    • “Assad must go” and now it looks like Assad is staying.
    • “We will destroy ISIS” and ISIS isn’t destroyed yet – and look like they won’t be any time soon, at least not by the US and its allies.
    • “We will support the moderate Syrian opposition” – “the Kurds?” – “No, that would upset Turkey” – “So who, specifically?” – “Okay, maybe the Kurds after all”
    • “We will destroy the Taliban and replace them with a moderate Government in Afghanistan” – well look who’s back in town!

    .

    Some of these issues have come to a head under Obama, but they are the tips of long term icebergs.  Foreign policy is ongoing – you don’t get a re-set from the world every time you elect a new President – you’re still you and you still have your history and baggage : – (

    • #9
  10. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    Roadrunner:We destroyed the strategic balance in the mideast when we invaded Iraq.

    I agree that we did destroy the strategic balance in the mideast when we invaded Iraq, but towards the US. People forget that before the invasion of Iraq Saddam was shooting at our planes weekly and preparing to restart his weapons programs when inspections ended; Qaddafi had a nuclear program in Libya; and Saudi Arabia and the other Arab countries were being uncooperative in going after Al Qaeda.

    Yes, the Bush administration diddled around for too long in the aftermath of the Iraq war, but Obama threw away any gains we had made in establishing a base of operations and (reluctant) ally in Iraq. It wasn’t until Obama’s backing of the ouster of Qaddafi that the Arab spring sprang to life and caused so much turmoil in Egypt, Libya, and most devastatingly in Syria. The irony of the whole thing is that the fracking revolution only gave Obama more power to control things in the mideast by taking away any leverage that Saudi Arabia and Iran once had.

    I will agree that Bush’s emphasis on democracy was naive, but how has Obama’s emphasis on ??? been any better. It seems Obama’s only goal with mideast policy is to please the idiots on American university campuses.

    • #10
  11. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    This past weekend was the second Russian Grand Prix in modern history.  As a side note, the Russian Grand Prix was first held in 1913, then in 1914.  It was not held again for 100 years, in 2014.  Then again this past weekend.  Mercedes won all four races.

    At any rate, I watch nearly every Formula 1 race each year.  After each race, you usually see the top three drivers pull their cars into pit lan, just below where the podiums ceremony takes place.  The top three drivers then walk to a weigh station, where they are weighed with all of their gear on.  Then they go in to a small room where they can take off their helmet, headsock, and gloves.  And there is usually something to drink.  And maybe someone to greet them.  Then, they go out on to the podium for the trophy ceremony.  Usually the trophies are given by some dignitary.  For example, in Texas one year, Rick Perry handed out the first place trophy.  In each country it is different.

    But here is what I’ve seen at Russian that I generally don’t see:  in that little room they enter, Putin himself greeted the drivers as they came in.  He did so last year as well, if I remember.

    I made note of this and wondered to myself why this is, and why you don’t generally see it anywhere else.  My theory is this:  Putin understands greatness.  He might be a ruthless dictator.  He might even be an evil man.  But he understands what being a champion means, and he values it.

    Thoughts?

    • #11
  12. Spencer Moffat Inactive
    Spencer Moffat
    @SpencerMoffat

    Spin:I made note of this and wondered to myself why this is, and why you don’t generally see it anywhere else. My theory is this: Putin understands greatness. He might be a ruthless dictator. He might even be an evil man. But he understands what being a champion means, and he values it.

    Thoughts?

    I agree with you. Maybe this is why Mr. Putin and Barack are not best buddies: it is because Mr. Putin does not see greatness in our current president. He doesn’t even have an ounce of respect for Barack. Our next president should get Putin to hold respect for him, the same way Gorbachev had some respect for Ronald Reagan.

    • #12
  13. Spencer Moffat Inactive
    Spencer Moffat
    @SpencerMoffat

    By the way, did anyone see the story a few months ago where Putin played against  some professional Russian hockey players and miraculously scored 9 goals. You don’t think they were going easy on him because they were going to be killed if they didn’t, do you?

    • #13
  14. Yeah...ok. Inactive
    Yeah...ok.
    @Yeahok

    Effective democracies are very fragile. Self discipline is difficult for me.

    Most countries can more easily maintain some order with a more autocratic government. He may be a sonofabitch but he’s our sonofabitch.

    The people in these countries will be no better off than their grandparents in 1960 but the faculty at the Ivy League will sleep much better.

    • #14
  15. Roadrunner Inactive
    Roadrunner
    @Roadrunner

    Z in MT:

    Roadrunner:We destroyed the strategic balance in the mideast when we invaded Iraq.

    I agree that we did destroy the strategic balance in the mideast when we invaded Iraq, but towards the US. People forget that before the invasion of Iraq Saddam was shooting at our planes weekly and preparing to restart his weapons programs when inspections ended; Qaddafi had a nuclear program in Libya; and Saudi Arabia and the other Arab countries were being uncooperative in going after Al Qaeda.

    Yes, the Bush administration diddled around for too long in the aftermath of the Iraq war, but Obama threw away any gains we had made in establishing a base of operations and (reluctant) ally in Iraq. It wasn’t until Obama’s backing of the ouster of Qaddafi that the Arab spring sprang to life and caused so much turmoil in Egypt, Libya, and most devastatingly in Syria. The irony of the whole thing is that the fracking revolution only gave Obama more power to control things in the mideast by taking away any leverage that Saudi Arabia and Iran once had.

    I will agree that Bush’s emphasis on democracy was naive, but how has Obama’s emphasis on ??? been any better. It seems Obama’s only goal with mideast policy is to please the idiots on American university campuses.

    Bush’s great success got Obama elected with a mandate to get the heck out of there.  Despite what many Neocons hope there is a time limit on a war.  In order not to give the Iranians a regional boost we needed something like Saddam Hussein to take his own place.  Why not just hold pat with him?  It is clear after the fact that he wasn’t developing the kind of weapons we were worried about.  That was Iran and again Bush’s strategy led to Obama and an Iran that will have nukes.  On top of that it was supported by almost all Republican Senators.  It seems that it will be good for business.  If we have that leverage with oil why spend any more blood or treasure on the place?  Regardless sometimes when you screw up there is no fixing it.  We don’t have a side to support and anybody that thinks we are sending in any more American soldiers is deluded.

    • #15
  16. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: One Damascene marveled that “Putin does more than just speak.”

    It’s possible that this is just, well, this.

    It’s more likely, though, that these are Iraqis and Syrians who actively approve. You don’t get to be the world’s biggest killer outside Africa without some support, and there are a lot of people who approve of Assad’s murderous regime.

    • #16
  17. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Zafar:

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:In a region of centuries-long memories and grievances, America’s betrayal will not be forgotten.

    I wouldn’t sweat it. America (the State) has been genuinely unpopular in the Middle East at least since 1948 when it supported the creation of Israel. Can’t lose what you haven’t got, so why worry about it?

    What would worry me is the increased perception of ineffectiveness/incoherence:

    • “Assad must go” and now it looks like Assad is staying.
    • “We will destroy ISIS” and ISIS isn’t destroyed yet – and look like they won’t be any time soon, at least not by the US and its allies.
    • “We will support the moderate Syrian opposition” – “the Kurds?” – “No, that would upset Turkey” – “So who, specifically?” – “Okay, maybe the Kurds after all”
    • “We will destroy the Taliban and replace them with a moderate Government in Afghanistan” – well look who’s back in town!

    .

    Some of these issues have come to a head under Obama, but they are the tips of long term icebergs. Foreign policy is ongoing – you don’t get a re-set from the world every time you elect a new President – you’re still you and you still have your history and baggage : – (

    Three out of four of your examples are 100% Obama. Assad was obnoxious under Bush (he was in the secondary axis of evil), but he wasn’t murdering his people in particular numbers and didn’t present the world with much of a problem. Bush would have liked him to go, but there was never really a question of the use of force being called for. The world continued to get more peaceful each year of Bush’s administration, and on into Obama’s first term, although the Assad turning point was in 2011.

    ISIS, likewise, wasn’t meaningful when the Peace Prize was awarded. Strong promises were not made to the Syrian opposition until 2012. Initially, the failure to act was reprehensible, but not really betrayal.

    In all three cases prompt action was available in 2011, enormous harm could have been averted and Obama had cabinet officials calling for it. Obama, and Obama alone, has the responsibility for the bloodshed that took place, the refugees, the invasion of Iraq etc., once one ceases to treat Assad, ISIS, and such as moral agents.

    It’s only in Afghanistan that blame is shared, and even there we had arrived at a period of relative peace before the drawdown really took hold.

    • #17
  18. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Roadrunner: We destroyed the strategic balance in the mideast when we invaded Iraq.  As soon as it was democratic it was going to dominated by the Iranians.

    There are two things wrong with this.

    Firstly, there’s the belief that Iraq and Iran were not often allies before Saddam fell. They had a complicated relationship, to put it mildly, but were more than capable of working together.

    Secondly, there’s the belief that Iraq post-Saddam was dominated by Iran.

    The key example for both of these is the Iran sanctions. We were able to implement some pretty impressive sanctions. The reason for this is that Iraq cooperated and enforced the sanctions. If Iraq had not, then there would have been essentially unlimited sanctions.

    Post Saddam Iraq was independent enough of Iran to engage in acts that many consider one step below warfare. If Saddam had still been in place, he would likely have demanded a substantial cut, but there’s no question but that Iraq would have become the route through which Iranian trade was channeled. Saddam’s nuclear weapons (from circa 2005 onwards) would have made it harder to oppose Iran’s nuclear program, and their shared enemies (Israel, the US, reasonable people everywhere) would have had a lot less access to intelligence.

    This sort of balance of power analysis only works if you think that there are just two sides, so an enemy’s enemy is always a friend.

    Yeah…ok.: The people in these countries will be no better off than their grandparents in 1960 but the faculty at the Ivy League will sleep much better.

    Most people in Iraq are massively better off than they were. Democracy and a degree of capitalism isn’t just good in the abstract; it’s a genuinely better way of running countries. Having air conditioning, mobile telephones (under Saddam, they lacked even landlines), an economy that doesn’t see you starving, a government that doesn’t murder you, cars, reliable education, etc. etc. etc. is tangibly helpful.

    • #18
  19. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    James Of England:

    Three out of four of your examples are 100% Obama.

    Far be it from me to defend Obama’s mistakes, but just take ISIS.

    According to wikipedia:

    The group originated as Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad in 1999…[it] participated in the Iraqi insurgency, which had followed the March 2003 invasion of Iraq by Western forces…it joined other Sunni insurgent groups to form the Mujahideen Shura Council, which proclaimed the formation of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in October 2006. After the Syrian Civil War began …the ISI…sent delegates into Syria in August 2011….

    Jama’at al-Whaaaaaat?

    Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad [was] led by the Jordanian national Abu Musab al-Zarqawi…The group started in Jordan, then became a decentralized network during the Iraq insurgency in which foreign fighters were widely thought to play a key role… After several rounds of name changes and mergers with other groups, the organization is now known as Islamic State….

    Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was a Jordanian Jihadist who had traveled to Afghanistan to fight in the Soviet-Afghan War, but he arrived after the departure of the Soviet troops and soon returned to his homeland. He eventually returned to Afghanistan, running an Islamic militant training camp near Herat.

    ISIS was not formed by the actions of the Obama Administration though you could argue that he caused it to metastasize. He inherited it.

    (Oh and the Soviets also laid some of the groundwork. jmho)

    • #19
  20. Roadrunner Inactive
    Roadrunner
    @Roadrunner

    James Of England: James Of England

    Sure maybe Iran and Iraq might have worked together but there are reasons why that was very hard especially if we weren’t involved.  Of course no idea will last forever or is perfect.  Sooner or later the Shia would have caused the division in Iraq.  We made that happen in the worst possible way.  There is something about your thinking that makes me think that we would have had significant military strength in Iraq for a long time.  An American election decided that that wasn’t going to happen.  Once we are out then we get to see the true relationship between the new Iraq and Iran.

    The real question is how do you like that balance of power now?  Another question is what can we do about it?  Neocons can dream of soldiers on the ground while brave male refugees pour into the West but both those ideas are not palatable to most of the people that live in the West.  All the meddling that was encouraged by neocons has been to the advantage of the Iranians, the Russians and ISIS.  I know that wasn’t the intent so that should lead to some kind of reflection.  Instead even more meddling is imagined.

    Finally it is amazing that you think Islam will be bought off with air conditioners and phones.  It is important to remember that the fellows that brought so much sorrow on 9/11 had phones, air conditioning, many had good educations and all the pleasures of the West.  They chose a suicidal path instead.   Around our country and the world there were celebrations on 9/12 by Muslims.  These are the people that dominate Islam.  The ones we want to back are sheep.

    • #20
  21. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Roadrunner:

     it is amazing that you think Islam will be bought off with air conditioners and phones…

    This New Republic article on the subject concurs:

    ..there is little reason to be optimistic that a reduction in poverty or increase in educational attainment will lead to a meaningful reduction in the amount of international terrorism without other changes. 

    And this website has the money quote:

    All terrorist acts are motivated by two things:

    • Social and political injustice: People choose terrorism when they are trying to right what they perceive to be a social or political or historical wrong—when they have been stripped of their land or rights, or denied these.

    • The belief that violence or its threat will be effective, and usher in change. Another way of saying this is: the belief that violent means justify the ends. Many terrorists in history said sincerely that they chose violence after long deliberation, because they felt they had no choice.

    • #21
  22. Cat III Member
    Cat III
    @CatIII

    The Obama Administration reminds me of this Jack Handy quote:

    It makes me mad when people say I turned and ran like a scared rabbit. Maybe it was like an angry rabbit, who was running to go fight in another fight, away from the first fight.

    Part of me thinks it may not be so bad for Russia to get directly involved in Syria. Let them spend a decade fighting a fruitless war in a country for unclear reasons and after a trillion plus dollars and thousands of dead Russian soldiers, maybe Putin will have the worldwide reputation of George W. Bush. Putin may be the strong horse now, but what about years down the road? If Russia and China want to try their hand at stabilizing the region, at least America can play backseat driver and criticize every move they make. Let’s see how they like it.

    • #22
  23. Cat III Member
    Cat III
    @CatIII

    Zafar:

    • “We will destroy the Taliban and replace them with a moderate Government in Afghanistan” – well look who’s back in town!

    Hey, the guys we got to replace the Taliban are good people. Well, besides the occasional child rape. Other than that, they’re swell!

    • #23
  24. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    Cat III:The Obama Administration reminds me of this Jack Handy quote:

    It makes me mad when people say I turned and ran like a scared rabbit. Maybe it was like an angry rabbit, who was running to go fight in another fight, away from the first fight.

    Part of me thinks it may not be so bad for Russia to get directly involved in Syria. Let them spend a decade fighting a fruitless war in a country for unclear reasons and after a trillion plus dollars and thousands of dead Russian soldiers, maybe Putin will have the worldwide reputation of George W. Bush. Putin may be the strong horse now, but what about years down the road? If Russia and China want to try their hand at stabilizing the region, at least America can play backseat driver and criticize every move they make. Let’s see how they like it.

    I don’t think you’re going to see that sort of close parallel.  Just one factor among many, anti-American sentiment, was a hindrance for us but will be a benefit to them.  That will manifest in a thousand small ways that will add up to an unknowable total.  I’m not predicting wine and roses, but I doubt you’ll see a repeat of our experience.

    • #24
  25. dialm Inactive
    dialm
    @DialMforMurder

    Good luck to Putin and the Russians on being the new sheriff of the Middle-East, I myself would call it more of a poisoned chalice.

    • #25
  26. Xennady Member
    Xennady
    @

    Cat III:Part of me thinks it may not be so bad for Russia to get directly involved in Syria. Let them spend a decade fighting a fruitless war in a country for unclear reasons and after a trillion plus dollars and thousands of dead Russian soldiers, maybe Putin will have the worldwide reputation of George W. Bush.

    Except perhaps Russia will get directly involved and kill enough of their enemies quickly so that the rest will give up and stop fighting.

    This is called “victory” and it seems to be something the people ruling the United States have forgotten exists.

    • #26
  27. Xennady Member
    Xennady
    @

    Zafar:And this website has the money quote:

    I went to that link. Near the end of the article I found this quote, regarding a photo used at the beginning:

    “With Sri Lanka‘s peace process in tatters, government forces and rebels from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), have been fighting all along their former ceasefire line. The fighting has driven thousands of people from their homes. More than 3,000 people died in the renewed ethnic conflict in 2006, which has claimed more than 60,000 in decades of civil war.”

    Well. This is oddly out of date, because that terrorist struggle has ended. From my link:

    “Tamil separatist movements have conceded defeat and ceased military action, while associated Tamil political institutions have dropped their demand for a separate Tamil state. After their dreamed Tamil Eelam seemed so close after 25 years of bloody, armed struggle, the Tamils were annihilated.”

    There is a lesson to be learned from that. Wars- even wars by terrorists- are won by fighting and yes, killing.

    The West seems to have forgotten that, instead preferring endless feeble attempts at negotiation.

    Sad.

    • #27
  28. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Xennady, from your link:

    The Sri Lankan government has been working to reintegrate former LTTE fighters into society using their “National Action Plan for the Re-integration of Ex-Combatants” and empower the Tamil people by equalizing laws. However, widespread discrimination against Tamils in Sri Lanka continues. Unless the reintegration program is successful and Tamils receive equal treatment under the law, this conflict will reignite again within a generation.

    Yes, the LTTE was annihilated – but the Tamils remain.  And from the Guardian:

    Six years after the end of Sri Lanka’s long and bloody civil war, a “silent” conflict is being waged across the island, with tens of thousands of government troops continuing to occupy the north and east and the army expanding its property developments on land belonging to displaced Tamils, a new report claims.

    Although the26-year-long conflictbetween the majority Sinhalese government and Tamil separatists finally ended in 2009 with the defeat of theLiberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), the study by the US-based thinktank theOakland Institutefinds little meaningful evidence of reconciliation.

    It says hopes of peaceful coexistence are being thwarted by the enduring displacement of Tamils, the appropriation of their land by the military, the new government’s refusal to take the country off its war footing, and the delay in investigatingallegations of war crimes committed by both state forces and the Tamil Tigers.

    What’s the likely outcome? Depressing, imho.  Deeply sad, and all for what?

    • #28
  29. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Cat III:Part of me thinks it may not be so bad for Russia to get directly involved in Syria. Let them spend a decade fighting a fruitless war in a country for unclear reasons and after a trillion plus dollars and thousands of dead Russian soldiers, maybe Putin will have the worldwide reputation of George W. Bush.

    But Russia has a some very clear objectives in Syria.  Among them:

    1. Secure that Russian base on the Mediterranean in Tartus; and
    2. Stabilise Assad’s rule (related to point number one, and possibly achievable in a rump Syria).

    .

    They are supporting a viable local force, supported by another regional country which is willing to put in soldiers to fight on the ground.  It’s looking like a pretty low risk decision on their part, to be honest.

    Even if they don’t entirely knock out ISIS, and they may not, they’re still in a good position wrt: Tartus, Assad, the Govt of Iraq and Iran. Oh and they’ve also established themselves immediately South of a NATO border (okay, Turkey is not really Europe but it’s still de jure NATO) not to mention embarrassed the United States. Unless there’s severe blowback in the Caucasus (possible) this is unlikely to be another Afghanistan for them.

    • #29
  30. Roadrunner Inactive
    Roadrunner
    @Roadrunner

    Zafar:

    Roadrunner:

    it is amazing that you think Islam will be bought off with air conditioners and phones…

    This New Republic article on the subject concurs:

    And this website has the money quote:

    Don’t get me wrong.  I can appreciate when mad dog killers are motivated but I still think they are mad dog killers.  Wherever there are Muslims there is a sizable subset that meet the criteria you listed and they commit violent acts against their neighbors.  The larger the population the larger the subset and the more violence.  Nobody should have to live around Islam but for Muslims I don’t know what the alternative would be.

    • #30
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