A wake-up call was published by theÂ New York TimesÂ withÂ regardÂ to RussianÂ intransigenceÂ onÂ SyriaÂ titled “Why Russia Won”™t Help on Syria” in which the authorÂ Samuel Charap, a senior fellow on Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, highlights well the reasons why Putin is not in the mood to deal any cards on Syria. The first two paragraphs set the tone:
“WITH all the high-level diplomatic visits to Moscow and accompanying news headlines, a casual observer might easily conclude that Russia holds the key to resolving the Syrian crisis. But as the latest round of failed talksÂ this weekendÂ ”” this time betweenÂ Russia”™s foreign minister,Â Sergey Lavrov, andÂ Lakhdar Brahimi, theÂ United NationsÂ andÂ Arab LeagueÂ envoy onÂ SyriaÂ ”” conclusively demonstrate,Â RussiaÂ will not be part of the solution onÂ Syria.
Senior Russian officials have made that clear for months, but some members of the international community, perhaps until recently, just didn”™t believe them.”
In other words, someone like Putin needs to be confronted by someone like President George Bush. ThisÂ MultilateralismÂ Obama hasÂ deafenedÂ us with is his own, not exactly what America”™s foes have in mind. In fact, the USÂ has become the slave andÂ RussiaÂ the master under a naive foreign policy unable to confront the dark shadows of the past or admit that the other side has not abandoned them.
What Charap writes should be of concern to any American. How naive or how sharp are the people running US foreign policy, especially in theÂ Bureau of European and Eurasian AffairsÂ headed byÂ Philip H. Gordon?
What imperatives are at stake to ignore such an important country with such centrality as Syria responsible for so much instability and terror since the 70”™s? Gordon, as Assistant Secretary of State, has some pull one would presume in addressing the Russian intransigence. Whether those concerns were voiced and somehow dismissed by Secretary Clinton or President Obama is not something we know of or would be privy to under normal circumstances; however, the question is reasonable to ask considering the missed opportunity on Syria, how much influx of Islamic extremists we have watched happen in slow motion, and most important, what was the Opportunity Cost missed by the US with regard to Syria had the President acted early-on?
I am almost certain Mr. Gordon must be asking himself these questions if he was the architect of how to deal with Russia with regard to Syria.
Charap goes on to write:
“Rather, the tragedy in Syria has brought to the surface a fundamental divergence between Russia”™s approach to international intervention and that of much of the rest of the international community, particularly the United States and the European Union. Moscow does not believe the U.N. Security Council should be in the business of endorsing the removal of a sitting government.Â
Many people in the Russian foreign-policy establishment believe that the string of U.S.-led interventions that resulted in regime change since the end of the Cold War ”” in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya ”” are a threat to the stability of the international system and potentially to “regime stability” in Russia itself.”
This gap Charap highlights with his Op-Ed also demonstrates how little either theÂ Bureau of European and Eurasian AffairsÂ understands Russia (A big part of me doubts that) or worse yet, how confident are the Bureau calculations in the possibilities to change Russia (Free gift of dismantling the Defense Shield in Poland notwithstanding).
If this was an Obama bet using over 46,000 Syrian lives as Poker chips, then he owes Syria the honesty to man-up to his mistake and do the right thing. No breath holding though, please.
The closest thing I come to understanding the US-Russian relations is the fact I lived in a country, at the height of the Cold War, which submitted body and soul to Soviet interestsÂ and goals. This can be traced back to Hafez al-Assad to 1957, something I wrote about in “Stalin: Death is the Solution to all Problems” on January 30, 2012. My generation was at the receiving end of Soviet brutality with all its glory, and although I was never tortured in accordance with the Soviet manual applied in Syrian jails, my jailers beat me enough to sustain hard laughter for my adolescent party jokes for a long time.
Do you get the feeling that in the aftermath of Benghazi, the Syrian debacle, and the rapid growth of extremists in the Middle East that something is amiss in the US foreign policy or are these just coincidences or expectations in a dangerous world?
My bet is on the former, but my hope is the latter.