World View: Russia and Vladimir Putin Pursue a Disastrous Syria Policy

This morning's key headlines from

  • Time Magazine spares Americans the pro-Putin cover photo humiliation
  • Russia continues to torpedo the Syria 'deal'
  • Syria's civil war versus Sri Lanka's civil war

Time Magazine spares Americans the pro-Putin cover photo humiliation

U.S. edition of Time Magazine, Sept 16, 2013, has a different cover photo than Time's three international editions (Time)
U.S. edition of Time Magazine, Sept 16, 2013, has a different cover photo than Time's three international editions (Time)

Apparently Time Magazine feels that it's necessary to protect Americans' feelings with regard to the ability of Russian president Vladimir Putin to repeatedly humiliate the United States and President Barack Obama over the Syria issue. The cover of Time's three international editions has a cover picture of Putin with the caption: 

America's weak and waffling, Russia's rich and resurgent -- and its leader doesn't care what anybody thinks of him. The World according to Vladimir Putin by Simon Shuster.

Actually, Putin is down in polls in Russia, and he cares very much what the Russian people think of him. 

Time Magazine July 1, 2013, cover portraying Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu as 'The Face of Buddhist Terror' - banned in Burma (Myanmar)
Time Magazine July 1, 2013, cover portraying Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu as 'The Face of Buddhist Terror' - banned in Burma (Myanmar)

Time Magazine in the past hasn't worried too much about hurting the feelings of its readers. The July 1st issue of Time for Asia featuring Burmese Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu was so offensive to the government of Burma (Myanmar) that the magazine was banned. 

Many people are saying that Time Magazine was protecting president Barack Obama by using a different cover in the America edition. This is entirely plausible since Time has been totally in the tank for Obama since the beginning. The managing editor, Rick Stengel, has been so completely in the tank for Obama that he's now leaving Time and being rewarded with a plum job in Obama's State Department. Time Magazine and Daily Caller

Russia continues to torpedo the Syria 'deal'

Until last month, Russia was insisting that Syria's Bashar al-Assad regime didn't even have chemical weapons. Now they've been forced to admit that al-Assad has huge stores of chemical weapons but insist that he would never use them, despite massive amounts of evidence that he did on August 21. The Russians keep demanding more and more evidence to show that al-Assad's regime is guilty, but they offer not an iota of evidence to support their claim that opposition rebels were guilty. 

France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Monday: 

When you look at the amount of sarin gas used, the vectors, the techniques behind such an attack, as well as other aspects, it seems to leave no doubt that the regime [of President Bashar al-Assad] is behind it.

Sitting next to Fabius at a joint news conference was Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said: 

We want objective professional assessment of the events of 21 of August. We have serious grounds to believe this was a provocation... But the truth needs to be established and this will be a test of the future work of the Security Council.

I guess Lavrov doesn't believe that the U.N. team gave an "objective professional assessment." And I'm sure Lavrov would like to get rid of secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, who said that al-Assad has committed "many crimes against humanity." 

It's beginning to appear that Russia is going to get away with it again. As I've been reporting since 2011, Putin has adopted a policy of using the United Nations as a tool to cripple American and European policy. After the horrific August 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria, it was beginning to appear that events would spin out of Russia's control, but Lavrov is quickly bringing the situation back under Russian control. BBC

Syria's civil war versus Sri Lanka's civil war

Vladimir Putin may be enjoying the experience of humiliating Barack Obama and the United States, but Russia's Syria policy is disastrous for Russia for several reasons. We've previously described some of these reasons: 

  • Syria is providing a training ground for Sunni jihadists from Russia's Caucasus and other countries to learn how to defeat Russian weapons and Russian tactics, and they'll be returning to Russia to use those new skills against Russians.
  • By using the U.N. as a tool to cripple American and European foreign policy, and allowing al-Assad to commit crimes against humanity with impunity, Putin is also crippling the United Nations itself, and is destroying whatever effectiveness it might have. A crippled or destroyed U.N. is not in Russia's interest.
  • At some point, Barack Obama will "revolt" against the repeated humiliation being inflicted by Putin, and will take some military action unilateral. The military action may succeed, or it may be a disaster, or it may start a war.
  • Russia's policy, in cooperation with Iran, Hezbollah and al-Assad, is inflaming the entire Mideast along the Sunni/Shia fault line, and this is trending towards all-out Mideast war, which will certainly spread to Russia's Caucasus.

However, there's one more reason why Putin's strategy is disastrous: A Generational Dynamics analysis indicates that the entire strategy cannot succeed, and this can be illustrated by comparing Syria's civil war with Sri Lanka's civil war that recently ended in 2009. 

According to a number of analysts, Russia's strategy is as follows: Use the United Nations to give Syria's president Bashar al-Assad time and provide al-Assad with huge quantities of heavy weapons so al-Assad can win the war and end it quickly. Once the opposition is crushed, things will return to the pre-war "normal," with al-Assad still in power, owing a great deal to Russia. 

This strategy assumes that al-Assad can win a clear victory that will end the war. However, Syria is in a generational Awakening era, so this is not going to happen. 

Long-time readers will remember that I followed the Sri Lanka civil war for a number of years as it turned into a generational crisis war. As the war approached a generational crisis, I predicted that a victory by the Sinhalese government over the Tamil rebels would, in fact, be an end to the war after 30 years. Every other journalist and analyst organization in the world, as far as I'm aware, said that the war had been going on for 30 years and therefore would continue after a Sinhalese victory. But this was a generational crisis war reaching a climax, and a victory would mean the end of the war, just as the American victory over Germany and Japan in WWII ended that war. My prediction, based on generational theory, turned out to be absolutely correct, and everyone else's turned out to be wrong. (See "Tamil Tigers surrender, ending the Sri Lanka crisis civil war" from 2009.) 

However, analysts, including Russian analysts, are making the opposite mistake in the case of Syria's civil war. They look at the 1982 victory of al-Assad's father over the rebels, and they look at other civil wars like the Sri Lanka civil war, and conclude that al-Assad can score a victory and end this war. But those two other wars were generational Crisis era wars. Syria is in a generational Awakening era, and there will not be a generational crisis to this war. Al-Assad cannot end this war with a victory. 

That means that war-weary Syrian opposition figures may agree to a cease-fire, and may sign a "peace agreement," but they will continue the protests that caused al-Assad to start slaughtering people in the first place. Furthermore, the Sunni jihadists that are arriving in Syria will never agree to a "peace agreement" with the Shia/Alawite al-Assad. So al-Assad will never reach the kind of peace that he and the Russians are hoping for. 

I keep saying that if politicians could only become familiar with generational theory, they wouldn't make so many stupid decisions. This is a prime example. Russia and Vladimir Putin may be riding high these days, but they're following a disastrous policy that Russians will soon regret. 

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Russia, Vladimir Putin, Time Magazine, Rick Stengel, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Burma, Myanmar, Ashin Wirathu, France, Laurent Fabius, Sergei Lavrov, Ban Ki-moon, Iran, Hezbollah, Sri Lanka 

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