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Putin’s “surprise” partial withdrawal from Syria

Written By: - Date published: 9:39 am, March 21st, 2016 - 86 comments
Categories: colonialism, defence, International, Syria, war - Tags:

The John Batchelor show regularly interviews Stephen Cohen, one of the United States’ most accomplished Russia experts and a contributing editor at The Nation magazine.

In this excellent radio interview, Cohen and Batchelor tease out the background details of this latest important event in Syria.

If you have 39 minutes, it is well worth listening to.

In essence, western commentators are surprised at Putin’s sudden partial withdrawal from Syria, because they do not pay any attention to what Putin says in his many transparent public comments and statements, almost all of which are translated into English on the official Kremlin website.

putin-riding-bear-601x368

From the start of the Russian intervention, Putin has said that Russia was there to secure the legitimate government of Syria – Assad’s regime – and to take out the Islamic extremist terrorists operating in the country – while making sure the option of a negotiated political settlement was on the table.

All of these goals have been achieved. Russia was never there to help Assad recapture all of Syria. Or to help Iran dominate Syrian politics as they now do Iraqi politics. (The latter gives us a clue as to why Israel may have accepted the Russian intervention from the beginning).

Putin’s primary geopolitical goal as always has been to safeguard the future development of Russia after it suffered two massive collapses in the last 100 years.

Putin has stabilised and begun to demilitarise the Syrian situation by bolstering on the ground the position of the minorities in Syria: the Kurds, the Alawites (Assad’s religious group), the Christians, the Druze, the Yazidis, and others.

All of these groups – and women in general – would have been persecuted as second class citizens – or targets of genocide – under ISIS rule.

Anti-Assad rebel groups which lay down arms, get to join the internationally negotiated political process to determine the future of Syria and the Syrian government.

Now Russia has prevented the black ISIS flag from being run up over Damascus, and killed hundreds or thousands of Islamic terrorists who would have soon infiltrated back into the Russian caucuses.

Cohen says very simply – Russia needs a stable, diverse world in order to fully recover its internal and geopolitical power, and that is what it is striving for.

Cohen makes an additional point about the decision making of “The Collective Putin.” In the West, Putin is usually portrayed by the propaganda as a despotic dictator. Of course, that is impossible in a country as large as Russia (which spans ELEVEN time zones).

The truth is that Putin needs to keep many other powerful players in and around the Kremlin happy, if he is going to keep his own position secure.

86 comments on “Putin’s “surprise” partial withdrawal from Syria”

  1. shorts 1

    Putin and Russia is simply so much better at foreign policy than the countries we follow and listen to (i.e. media reports on and around).

    We’d do well to take more stock of the non anglo nations say if we ever intend to be independently minded

  2. vto 2

    It has been quite eye-opening to listen to Putin the last couple of years or so.

    Russia has been made out as the bogey-man for such a very very long time that I think people in the west have no chance in hell of understanding the country. It’s image within most people’s minds is simply all wrong.

    Putin makes sense when he speaks and is worth listening to, especially during his open and very long interviews where he will quite happily answer any questions – sometimes for hours on end. Western leaders on the other hand, if they ever get past a 30 second interview, are complete bullshitters – witness Key as the archetypal western bullshitter.

    Listen to Putin’s interviews and the like. Eye opening…

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      Yep. Most recent annual press conference here. 3 hours long. International journalists and media present and asking questions as well.

      Putin answers all questions no matter how big or small – including what he is going to do about the high parking fees in Moscow and Russian pensions not keeping up with inflation.

  3. Stuart Munro 3

    Cohen is a Putin partisan. To characterise Putin as wanting to demilitarise the various conflicts is not consistent with his heavy use of deflagged regular Russian forces in the Ukraine. Putin in fact wants to use his military and having achieved his objectives then demilitarise the area of contention so that no challenge to his imposed solutions are possible. Hardly democratic.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Putin in fact wants to use his military and having achieved his objectives then demilitarise the area of contention so that no challenge to his imposed solutions are possible.

      Putin’s “imposed solutions”? What are you talking about. Maybe you need to read up on the Normandy Format negotiations around the Ukraine which includes Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia.

      I doubt Putin gets to dictate anything to Merkel and Hollande. Or to John Kerry.

      The only thing consistent about Putin’s military interventions is that he does use them to get (to push, if you prefer) all the big players to sit down around the negotiating table and talk e.g. for the Minsk II negotiations.

      http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-crisis-talks-idUSKCN0SV2PS20151106

    • GregJ 3.2

      Cohen is a Putin Partisan although that doesn’t necessarily make him wrong.

      Nikolay Surkhov gave a good summary a week or so ago about the various strands (both foreign & domestic) behind the Russian move.

      Broken down there are good domestic economic and political reasons for a withdrawal now (not the least the Duma elections towards the end of the year). Putin is also mindful of Russian reluctance since Afghanistan on direct, open-ended military engagements.

      Plus the weather starts getting hotter here in this part of the world from now on which may well lead to a lull in the more intense fighting and is probably a good time to wrap up the current campaign and put a nice “mission accomplished” tag on it.

      • Colonial Viper 3.2.1

        Cohen is a Putin Partisan although that doesn’t necessarily make him wrong.

        That’s seriously mischaracterising Cohen, who is one of the US foremost experts in Soviet (and now Russian) affairs.

        I’m pretty sure that Cohen was a Russian specialist while Putin was still doing basic training.

        Cohen belongs to a now-gone generation of US analysts who provided deep background, critical review and analyses of Soviet (Russian) actions.

        And who is probably quite frustrated that the US is blundering around hurting both its material position and reputational standing in the Middle East.

        • GregJ 3.2.1.1

          I’ve been reading Cohen since the mid 80’s when I was doing a degree in Russian history (incidentally his biography on Bukharin is still an excellent work – the best in English on the subject even after 35+ years). His views have always been slightly off the mainstream off Western Russian scholarship (I guess you don’t make a reputation by sticking with the pack).

          Even in the 80s, although he was no fan of the Soviet regime, he regularly argued against anti-Soviet hawks in the US and he sees the collapse of Gorbachev’s Soviet Union not as a result so much of “internal rot” of the system (the simplified general view) but as a power-grab by Yeltsin backed by a radical pro-West intelligentsia. Actually if anything characterizes his writing over the past 30-40 years it is his constant criticism of US foreign policy towards USSR/Russia – he’s been seen as “pro-Russian” for a long time (although he didn’t like Yeltsin much at all – not surprisingly perhaps as he’s a good friend of Gorbachev).

          If you read his stuff from the mid 2000s though he has been pro-Putin (albeit with some reservations about the cost to democratic progress within Russia and the continued rise of “crony capitalism”) and he is definitely somewhat uncritical of the Russian government propaganda machine. I think “partisan” is probably a convenient if somewhat blunt & non-nuanced label.

  4. McFlock 4

    […]take out the Islamic extremist terrorists operating in the country[…].

    All of these goals have been achieved

    There are no more Islamic extremists in Syria?

    Good to know.

    FWIW, it was an interesting variation on asymmetric warfare: the objective is simply “don’t let your team lose”, rather than “go for complete victory” (the yank approach).

    Plusses: cheaper, able to be viewed as distinct interventions rather than one long campaign, and you get to test your next gen equipment/waggle your dick whenever desired.

    Minusses: keeps it as a war of attrition for years if not decades.

    And alongside the pullout they’ve started an “enemy of my enemy” approach: arming the kurds. On the surface because the Kurds fight daesh, but daesh are light in air power so why give the Kurds ZSUs? Probably nothing to do with Turkey’s relationship with the Kurds at all, lol

    However, the looming problem for Putin is if the Assad regime proves to be as stable as South Vietnam after “Vietnamization” of the war – Assad’s burned through a lot of help from Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia, all simply to keep afloat. Sooner or later, especially if daesh get completely pummelled and therefore remove some of the motivation for the assistance, either it will come solely down to Russia to preserve its port through Assad’s regime, or Putin’s allegiance will shift to another party in the conflict.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      And alongside the pullout they’ve started an “enemy of my enemy” approach: arming the kurds.

      In doing that, Russia is interestingly aligned with the USA which has also been backing and arming Syrian Kurds against ISIS/Al Nusra.

      Needless to say, Turkey is very annoyed at both the US and with Russia.

      http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-kurds-idUSKCN0VQ1FR

      • Stuart Munro 4.1.1

        If Turkey destabilises refugee numbers will go through the roof. EU governments are reaching resistance points already.

        • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1

          Erdogan is definitely using the refugees from semi-destroyed Syria and Libya as leverage. The Turkish Govt has already got 6 billion euros out of the EU for it.

          • Stuart Munro 4.1.1.1.1

            They’re accepting 2.75 million refugees http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/country.php?id=224
            and transiting many more. All this with border conflicts and domestic Islamic movements that need to be handled respectfully and not radicalised. It’s not an easy thing. Wouldn’t take much of a nudge to topple them – wonder if Putin’s nudging.

            • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Erdogan was a guest of honour in Moscow earlier last year, for the opening of Moscow’s largest mosque.

              Russian tourists and business people love Turkey. Not so much after Erdogan shot down the Russian airforce plane.

              So stuff has gone down hill very fast.

  5. Pascals Bookie 5

    Funny how, if he is indeed pulling out to some extent, he does so before really taking on IS or al Nusra.

    It’s almost like, if you look at what they actually did, they want IS/aN to be the sole opposition to Assad.

    Same reason Assad released the hardcore jihadis in the first place I guess.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      In five months, Russia has run several thousand combat sorties against ISIS/Al Nusra, destroying their logistics nodes, combat formations, command and communications centres, as well as cutting off their oil and supply route to Turkey. Which the Erdogan family was reportedly profiting from.

      With Russian help, Syrian forces are now about to retake the ancient city of Palmyra from ISIS.

      • Pascals Bookie 5.1.1

        But their main focus has not been agin IS CV. Though I know you won’t admit that.

        Just as you refused to admit that Assad was bombing hopsitals and bread factories, going to the length of claiming any helicopters that did so would be shot down by TOWs, a weapon system you read a few lines about on wiki.

        What do you think about the use of artillery on residential areas?

        Do you take the Israeli view that ‘well terrorists are just using civilians as shields, so it’s all the terrorist’s fault” perhaps?

        • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.1

          It’s been total war. If the west didn’t want total war in Syria they shouldn’t have let NATO member Turkey allow weapons and Islamic fighters infiltrate into Syria.

          They shouldn’t have let Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE fund and arm Islamic militants against the secular Assad regime.

          And the US probably shouldn’t have allowed Gaddafi’s Libyan armouries be looted and their contents shipped to Islamists in Syria.

          • McFlock 5.1.1.1.1

            So when fighting a well-armed adversary, it’s ok to bomb hospitals and fire artillery against civilian areas because it’s “total war”?

            Doesn’t that mean that Turkey is justified in bombing Kurdish civilian areas now that Russia has joined other nations in providing arms to the Kurds?

            Or that the US could have justified nuking Baghdad because practically everyone had provided weapons to Saddam Hussein, therefore “total war”?

            • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.1.1.1

              The west’s allies wanted to turn a secular Syria into a destroyed Islamist run state like Libya.

              Maybe someone back in 2012/2013 should have told Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar that wasn’t a good idea.

              • McFlock

                And how does this exonerate putin from responsibility for war crimes?

                • Colonial Viper

                  Putin is doing his job securing Russia’s southern borders from the failed Islamist jihadi state that western allies wanted to create.

                  Your selective moralising is irrelevant.

                  • McFlock

                    lolz

                    What selective moralizing? I’m just pointing out that when the US does it, you’re outraged and bitter, but when Russia does it, you bend over backwards to say that the ends justify the means.

                  • Pascals bookie

                    Pretty sure you can find McFlock comments on this site taking the US to task for war crimes. Pretty sure we could find you doing the same, and myself.

                    You’re the one who seems to be a bit selective about who you get moral about CV.

          • Pascals bookie 5.1.1.1.2

            and there we have it, CV has no problem with war crimes. It;s always someone elses fault. Except of course when the US does it, then he cares very much.

            Personally, I’m agin war crimes whoever does it.

            Are you fine with what Assad did to aid insurgents during the Iraq occupation CV?

            Do you even care?

            Others:

            Read CVs various defences of Assad, and apply them to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, see how comfortable you feel.

            But it’s up to ya’ll. I know he has his fans here. Fuck knows why, he openly defends war crimes.

            Get a grip eh?

            • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.1.2.1

              The foreign insurgency in Syria is winding down; Turkey is no longer able to freely infiltrate weapons and Islamist fighters into Syria, and for the first time in years the attention is off the battle field and on the political negotiating table.

              Where talk not weapons are going to solve Syria’s problems.

              Europe will be pleased that the flow of people fleeing the fighting is going to greatly reduce. And minorities in Syria are going to be relieved that the black flag is not going up over Damascus.

              • McFlock

                so the ends justify the means, even if the means are as rosy as you suggest?

                • Colonial Viper

                  This is a solid play by Russia to secure their own national security and prevent a failed Islamist state appearing just five hundred kilometres from their own borders.

                  The west wanted the secular Assad regime gone and replaced by a collapsed Islamist state. Maybe that’s where you should focus your moralising on – the cause of this unnecessary conflict.

                  That failed state ain’t happening now thanks to Rusian military intervention.

                  However the Russians understand the limits of military power and have moved the focus on to a negotiated political process while drawing down their forces in Syria.

                  It’s a good result, albeit one that the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia didn’t want.

                  • McFlock

                    Oh, I’m not bothering to argue whether it’s a good result. I’m pleased to see that apparently there are no more Islamic extremists in Syria.

                    I’m just asking whether you think the ends (removing all Islamic extremists from Syria) justified the means (war crimes).

                    • Colonial Viper

                      You know, Russia flattened Grozny, including all the civvies still there. The US flattened Fallujah, including all the civvies still there.

                      That’s how major powers operate when they are forced to.

                      Some have gotten more used to operating that way than others, however.

                    • McFlock

                      And yet your defense of putin contrasts with, e.g. your comments about hillary clinton.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Yes a huge contrast. China and Russia taking defensive actions against the failed state creating regime changing Empire of Chaos (Pepe Escobar’s term).

                    • McFlock

                      500miles and five countries between where they are and where they’re bombing.

                      That’s mightily defensive – probaably afraid of turkey falling next, like dominos…

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Russia’s border is no more than 500-600km away from Syria’s northern borders.

                      That’s Invercargill to Christchurch

                      And given that fighters from the caucuses have had no problems heading to Syria to fight, especially with Turkey’s help, one presumes that those fighters know how to find their way back home just fine as well.

                    • McFlock

                      but if they’re all the way over in syria, doesn’t that mean that russia is simply exporting the fruits of its own invasions of areas that don’t want to be russian?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      The US is practiced in using Islamic extemists to destabilise entire nations.

                      Russia knows that through hard historical experience.

                      Having said that, Russia successfully maintains an amazing level of cultural, ethnic and religious diversity, from Buddhism to Orthodox Christianity to Islam.

                    • McFlock

                      lolright

                      so it’s okay when they bomb hospitals and suburbs.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      “it’s OK…”

                      dude, try and look at the activities of empire as it exists today.

                    • McFlock

                      Dude, you can talk about empire, extremism, the US, Saudi Arabia all you want.

                      It’s still not going to get over the fact that you apply two very different standards to Russia and the US, when both countries have similar policy goals and behaviours.

                      The only real difference is how many of putin’s internal opponents end up dead just as they’re getting prominent.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      If you can’t tell the difference between someone starting fires around the Middle East and someone else putting them out, then yeah, I’m sure it all looks the same to you.

                    • McFlock

                      “putting them out”

                      Whoops, yeah, I forgot: there are no more Islamic extremists in Syria, according to you. /sarc

                    • Colonial Viper

                      The only real difference is how many of putin’s internal opponents end up dead just as they’re getting prominent

                      The western Atlanticist liberals are dreaming. Guys like Nemtsov couldn’t even pull 2% or 3% in elections.

                      “Prominent” indeed.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Whoops, yeah, I forgot: there are no more Islamic extremists in Syria, according to you. /sarc

                      You’re a fool McFlock. There is no more risk of the black ISIS flag going up over Damascus now.

                      I’m over wasting time with you.

                    • McFlock

                      oh that’s alright then.

                      He was probably shot by the CIA in a false flag operation then /sarc

                    • McFlock

                      There is no more risk of the black ISIS flag going up over Damascus now.

                      But you said they’d been taken out!

                      So now simply the end of blunting the immediate threat is enough to justify bombing hospitals. Almost as a tactical expedience rather than strategic objective. Perfectly fine when it’s Russia doing it, apparently.

              • Pascals bookie

                If you want a ‘mission accomplished’ banner to go with that US circa 2004 rhetoric, the US navy might have one in storage for you.

  6. The lost sheep 6

    ‘a despotic dictator. Of course, that is impossible in a country as large as Russia’

    Stalin found it simple enough for 30 years.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Correct. The Soviet leadership realised soon afterwards that Stalin’s approach was never going to be tenable again.

      In the power struggle after Stalin’s death they executed Beria; that was the end of the lethal top level purges which marked Stalin’s rule.

      • Stuart Munro 6.1.1

        The ruling committee only retired behind catspaws. The Yeltsin ‘coup defence’ killed the real democracy movement among the elites – so Russia is still a one party state. Putin was chosen to be Yeltsin’s successor and has violated the term limit rules to become in effect president for life. His domestic critics die.

        • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1

          His domestic critics die.

          Russian TV and media is full of criticism of the Russian Government: its corruption, its inefficiency, its bureaucracy.

          But Putin’s public approval ratings are now consistently in the 80% range. (That’s a democratic mandate greater than any current western leader has).

          Why? For many reasons, but partly because the liberal Atlanticist elite in Russia have not provided any serious political alternatives for the people – other than to kowtow to the west and to western corporations as per the post-Soviet 1990s.

          What you don’t seem to get is that Russia is not a “one party state.”

          And you clearly don’t seem to get that if Putin’s party lost the next elections, it would most likely be to the Communist Party. Of course, the liberal west ain’t interested in hearing that.

          • Stuart Munro 6.1.1.1.1

            “don’t seem to get that if Putin’s party lost the next elections, it would most likely be to the Communist Party.”

            Frankly – so what? The communist party probably enjoys an aging conservative rump of 5% or so over a basic 5% of real support. Putin is a dictator here and now, and you apologise for him.

            If Putin stopped killing journalists and opponents and allowed a liberal opposition to develop, the communists would recede to less than ACT percentages, as in NZ. But Putin’s many illiberal actions would be openly critiqued – he’d lose 30-40% support too.

            • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1.1.1

              You should know that all the major western newspapers and western media reports are translated into Russian same day and available throughout Russia with no censorship.

              And the Russian public continue to choose Putin.

              As for the “liberal opposition” – they’re favoured by a small elite clique of Russian society, including some of the oligarchs, yes.

              But Russians have realised that the relationship that the west wants with Russia is one of subjugation and subservience as per the post Soviet 1990s Yeltsin years.

              Are you surprised that no one is voting for that?

              If Putin stopped killing journalists and opponents and allowed a liberal opposition to develop, the communists would recede to less than ACT percentages, as in NZ.

              Fuck you really are clueless. Go listen to some Dmitry Orlov or Stephen Cohen and come back to me when you have an idea.

              • Stuart Munro

                “Fuck you really are clueless. Go listen to some Dmitry Orlov or Stephen Cohen and come back to me when you have an idea.”

                Spare me your crude insults you facile apologist for mass murdering tyrants.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Give yourself a reality check. The west keeps destroying entire countries. From Yugoslavia to Libya. So who are you calling “mass murderers”???

                  Here’s a simple reality – Russia was never going to tolerate NATO moving bases into Ukraine or the Crimea, or US allies turning a secular Syrian regime into a failed Islamist state run by ISIS.

                  And another simple reality – the West has made it very clear to every Russian that the only acceptable relationship with the west is subjugation and vassalship.

                  Don’t think that’s going to work for the Ruskies.

                  • Stuart Munro

                    There is much to criticise in the west. There is also much to criticise in Russia – the two do not cancel each other out.

                    The fate of small states around Russia is particularly tragic as they are forcibly reabsorbed once more into a state they were frankly delighted to leave. The comparison is really with the dark colonial acts of the US in Mexico, California, and central and southern America.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      The people of Crimea voted overwhelmingly to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia, as was their right.

                      Plus, Russia was never going to let Sevastapol become a NATO base.

            • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1.1.2

              • left for dead

                But it’s up to ya’ll. I know he has his fans here. Fuck knows why, he openly defends war crimes.
                pascals bookie, I wouldn’t place any monies with you “son” I think you’d have trouble lying straight in bed.Stop dragging others down with you.

                A shame this post, along with its Author gets dragged down by what seems like halfwits.

        • reason 6.1.1.2

          Your fervor for the western spin regarding syria and russia seems obsessional and unbalanced …………

          The present tragic blood soaked unstable mess of humane misery in the middle east is because u.s.a hawks, looneys and idiots like Pearl, Wolferwichz and bush decided to impose their ‘superpower’ will on the region……….. Give war a chance was their motto.

          Perhaps we could look at a u.s.a success story in fighting for the political direction of a country ???

          Indonesia and ‘the act of killing’ provide a good example of one such success

          http://www.actofkilling.com/

          • Stuart Munro 6.1.1.2.1

            No, actually, I have considerable experience of working with Russians, and a pretty good idea how much their political pronouncements can be trusted: not very much.

            The test for the Ukraine is not as you suppose whether it adheres to western norms, but whether it meets Ukrainian needs. Ukrainians are not particularly keen on the return of the kind of corrupt Russian colonial oligarchy that characterised the soviet era. The situation is complicated by the Crimea, in which Russians resettled there in the soviet era comprise a local pro-Russian majority.

            It is unsurprising that much of the Ukraine would rather cultivate relations with Europe or America than Russia – Russian governance has not proved to be a blessing. Ask any East German if they want the Russians back.

            • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.2.1.1

              Ukraine used to supply Russia with a massive amount of military and high tech products, as well as mined commodities and food. Now the Ukrainians have destroyed their economic relations with Russia – and discovered as their economy collapses that the Europeans and Americans aren’t actually interested in helping them out.

              They were simply looking to use the Ukraine to destabilise Russia.

            • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.2.1.2

              Ask any East German if they want the Russians back.

              Ridiculous.

              Ask any Russian if they want the Germans back.

  7. esoteric pineapples 7

    What I found interesting in this documentary below from Sky News on the Kurdish Syrian fighters is that it shows evidence being found that the Syrian Army had a representative with ISIS in a town that the Kurds had just liberated. It seems like an awful lot of forces are supporting ISIS including Turkey and Saudi Arabia. One wouldn’t have thought the Syrian Army would have a representative with ISIS.

  8. Pascals bookie 8

    videos like this are dime a dozen.

    there are many more where those being beaten are handcuffed. Clear and present threats to the glorious secular regime of most worthy of leftist support Assad!

    Here’s your boy CV.

  9. Michael 9

    Never fear, comrades. If Basher Assad shows any sign of losing power and his freedom to slaughter as many of his nation’s people as he desires, the valiant Red Army will be back to lend a hand (or a bomb or two). In fact, a fair bit of Putin’s peace-loving Middle East army will remain in Syria, notably advanced surface to air weapons and intelligence gathering equipment. Putin’s blood-stained fingers will remained firmly inserted in the Syrian pie. Far cleaner fingers than American ones, of course, which explains the deafening silence over Russian atrocities in Syria (or anywhere else in the world) from the Left. Isn’t relativity wonderful?

  10. Andrew 10

    Putin is a homophobic, imperialistic, pro-oligarch, sexist, chauvinistic extreme capitalist that should be seen as such by the Left.

    Yes he is useful for funding Assad’s legitimate resistance to Takfiri extremists and he is useful in funding the heroic freedom fighters of the Kurdistan Workers Party but he is doing that for his own interests and we mustn’t forget who he is.

    Russia is not some kind of neo-Keynesian socialist success story, it is a hellhole for workers and the poor. I saw a documentary on Al-Jazeera last year which showed people paying several times the value of their house and thus barely beginning to pay the interest on their homes.

    Russia is the very opposite of a Welfare state and Putin and his cronies do not give a fuck about the poor. Russia is what would happen if the right wing of the National party got their way.

    Not to mention the rape of Ukraine which the idiotic Alex Jones-influenced ‘left’ portrays as some kind of anti-fascist crusade.

    • Colonial Viper 10.1

      Uh, you need to look up how western bankers and corporations worked with the Russian oligarchs in the 1990s to utterly destroy Russian society and devastate both incomes and life expectancies.

      Putin is a homophobic, imperialistic, pro-oligarch, sexist, chauvinistic extreme capitalist that should be seen as such by the Left.

      Sneer all you want mate, but Putin makes certain western leaders look like uneducated lightweights.

  11. Andrew 11

    And the ‘Communist’ party wouldn’t be that much different. Russia is a pathological society and has been for a long time. When the people elected the moderate socialists to the Duma in 1918, they had a chance but soulless old Lenin cancelled that and instituted an authoritarian dictatorship which lasted until 1991.

    This is no endorsement of western neoliberal capitalism and US imperialism, however, just an exhortation to know who we’re dealing with.

  12. Colonial Viper 12

    Russia is a pathological society and has been for a long time.

    Sorry mate but this is simply a dumb comment. It takes a dickhead to write off 150M people and a thousand year old civilisation, like you have.

    • Stuart Munro 12.1

      It happens to many societies in the course of history, that rulership passes to an elite incapable of sustaining, much less advancing their culture. It happened to China for several centuries and to Korea. It is happening to England now, to America, and I think that under the Key kleptocracy it is happening to us.

      Russia chose revolution after a long period of stagnation and dysfunction – there were some successes – but also many grievous failures. The new Russia doesn’t resemble renaissance states like Italy, Greece post Egypt or Scotland in the Hutcheson/Newcomen era. Yes, they were the subject of international trade warfare – they are still. What are their achievements – non-military ones? There are few.

      There is neither a mass nor an elite movement to build a better society – Putin does little more than entrench the depradations of espiocrats and oligarchs whose wealth is founded on the sequestering the assets once held in trust by a monolithic state.

      If this is your shining Uberman, your future that works, I think I’ll pass.

      • Colonial Viper 12.1.1

        What are their achievements – non-military ones? There are few.

        Hmmmm, it seems that you have already forgotten that just 20 years ago Russia was a collapsed society with a collapsed economy with a collapsed life expectancy.

        Thanks to western advice and western bankers.

        And the Russians remember those years pretty vividly. And they get what was done to their country, and by whom.

        The new Russia doesn’t resemble renaissance states like Italy, Greece post Egypt or Scotland in the Hutcheson/Newcomen era.

        Geeezus mate it’s just 20 years since millions of Russians drunk and shot themselves to death. Give your expectations a reality check and give them a few more decades.

        The new Eurasian economic zone/One Belt-One Road is going to deliver some huge results.

        • Stuart Munro 12.1.1.1

          The whole of Russia’s troubles cannot be laid at the door of the West, most of the dysfunction was deeply rooted and of their own making. More decades? Russia turned away from a new society when it supplanted Gorbachov, whose reforms in Primorye actually worked for the well-spoken Moscow insider Yeltsin.

          Putin is only a new vessel for the old miltarism:

          “The Ogre does what ogres can,
          Deeds quite impossible for Man,
          But one prize is beyond his reach:
          The Ogre cannot master speech.

          About a subjugated plain,
          Among it’s desperate and slain,
          The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,
          While drivel gushes from his lips.” ― W.H. Auden

          Well they have RT now, and can talk after a fashion. But their modus operandi remains subjugation. Rennaissance states liberate.

          • Colonial Viper 12.1.1.1.1

            That’s right. Russian aggression positioning their country ever closer to NATO bases and NATO missile systems. Damn expansionist Ruskies.

            • Stuart Munro 12.1.1.1.1.1

              If they weren’t such useless assholes they wouldn’t have to invade everyone – people would want to join their team.

  13. Andrew 13

    I’m not writing off the people, I’m writing off the way the society is currently configured. When I say ‘a long time’ I don’t speak for a thousand years of history, merely the last 150 years. I haven’t read earlier than that.

    Think about Russia’s bloody rampaging conquest of the Caucasus, it’s shovelling millions of it’s young into the furnace of the first world war, Lenin and Stalin’s terror. social imperialism on a global scale (all though some of the outcomes of that were beneficial), and the evil twisted heartless society brought about by Yeltsin’s capitulation to western imperialism and neoliberalism….

    It has been a very nasty place for a long time and the social dynamics are severely twisted.

    • Colonial Viper 13.1

      You’ve made an understandable mistake.

      Those things you have listed are tragedies which happened to the Russian people, not an indictment of them.

  14. Andrew 14

    It’s an indictment of the way Russian society is configured – it’s institutions, what is promoted as being important values. It’s a somewhat subtle distinction.

    Slavoj Zizek once called the U.S a ‘pathological society’, and I would agree. I’m paraphrasing him. He’s doesn’t have it in for the american people, in fact he loves american culture.

    I’m saying something similar.

    • Colonial Viper 14.1

      So the US is organised as a pathological society as well? And Russia is too? How about China then?

      France? Germany? Canada? Brazil? How about Japan. You must list Japan too, right?

      All pathological societies?

      • Stuart Munro 14.1.1

        Which are failing CV? Failing is a pathology.

        China is marginal – could go either way. Japan is retrenching but not declining per se. Germany – strongest in Europe at present but likely facing a crisis shortly (manufactured by Russia if you read Soros). France? I’m sure Sarkozy did them no good – probably adrift. Brazil – has a dangerous disconnect between the self-styled elite and ordinary people. Canada may be ready to actually face a few of the challenges of the next decade.

        Australia should be going gangbusters – it is the rising outfit with the most unexploited continental resources – but their leadership are backward looking and they’re likely to be hollowed out by foreign interests instead.

        Certainly the US is pathological – it has consumed itself, eroding the wealth of generations. It could come back, but it isn’t presently doing what it would need to to do that. Its military adventures are symptomatic of its refusal to face its real problems – like Key and his Jihadi Brides. The short victorious war syndrome.

        • Colonial Viper 14.1.1.1

          we’re entering an age where the peoples of various countries are pushing back against the globalism and trans-nationalism that the elite class have all bought into.

          I think we are going to see more of that as the industrial and technological age continues to steepen in decline.

          • Stuart Munro 14.1.1.1.1

            Yes, I think it will be a ‘stress test’ unlike any we’ve seen in generations. Well integrated societies are remarkably adaptable and should thrive – but those that entertain a high degree of dysfunction will probably burn before they put out new growth.

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    3 days ago
  • Addressing miscarriages of justice
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  • Week That Was: Historic action on climate change
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    2 weeks ago
  • Winning an election one conversation at a time
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    2 weeks ago
  • Closer cooperation with Korean horse racing industry
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    3 weeks ago
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    3 weeks ago

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  • New Chair for Royal Commission into Abuse
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  • Fisheries innovation projects supported
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    4 days ago
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  • Minister of Defence to visit Singapore and Thailand
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  • Future secured for Salisbury School
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  • Resource management reform options released
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  • Criminal Cases Review Commission established
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    5 days ago
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  • New Zealand firefighter support to Queensland
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    5 days ago
  • Reform to support better outcomes for Māori learners and whānau
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    5 days ago
  • Infrastructure pipeline growing
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  • Tighter firearms law to further improve safety
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    6 days ago
  • New TVNZ chair & directors confirmed
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  • Hutt Road cycle path officially opened
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  • Announcement of new Ambassador to Russia
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  • Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update
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  • Nearly three quarters of Rolleston connected to UFB
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  • Release of Oranga Tamariki Practice Review
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  • Minister wishes students success in exams
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  • New High Commissioner to the United Kingdom announced
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