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Putin Throws Down the Gauntlet

By       Message Mike Whitney     Permalink
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Reprinted from Counterpunch

Would you be willing to defend your country against a foreign invasion?

That's all Putin is doing in Syria. He's just preempting the tidal wave of jihadis that'll be coming his way once the current fracas is over. He figures it's better to exterminate these US-backed maniacs in Syria now than face them in Chechnya, St Petersburg and Moscow sometime in the future. Can you blame him? After all, if Washington's strategy works in Syria, then you can bet they'll try the same thing in Beirut, Tehran and Moscow.

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So what choice does Putin have?

None. He has no choice. His back is against the wall. He has to fight. No one in Washington seems to get this. They think Putin can throw in the towel and call it "quits" at the first sign of getting bogged down. But he can't throw in the towel because Russia's facing an existential crisis. If he loses, then Russia's going to wind up on the same scrap heap as Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya. You can bet on it. So the only thing he can do is win. Period. Victory isn't an option, it's a necessity.

Do you think that Putin and his advisors have had their heads in the sand for the last 15 years, that they haven't noticed the US rampaging around the globe bumping off one country after the other leaving behind nothing but anarchy and ruin? Do you think they don't know that Russia is on the top of Washington's hit-list? Do you think they haven't noticed NATO inching closer to Russia's borders while foam-at-the-mouth politicians in Washington wave their fists and growl about Hitler Putin and evil Russia?

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Of course they've noticed. Everyone's noticed. Everyone knows Washington is on the warpath and its leaders have gone stark raving mad. How could they not notice?

But all that's done is focus the mind on the task at hand, and the task at hand is to whoop the tar out of the terrorists, put an end to Washington's sick little jihadi game, and go home. That's Russia's plan in a nutshell. No one is trying to cobble together the long-lost Soviet empire. That's pure bunkum. Russia just wants to clean up this nest of vipers and call it a day. There's nothing more to it than that.

But what if the going gets tough and Syria becomes a quagmire?

That doesn't change anything, because Russia still has to win. If that means sending ground troops to Syria, then that's what Putin will do. If that means asymmetrical warfare, like arming the Kurds or the Yemenis, or the Taliban or even disparate anti-regime Shiites in Saudi Arabia, then he'll do that too. Whatever it takes. This isn't a game, it's a fight for survival; Russia's survival as a sovereign country. That's what the stakes are. That's not something Putin takes lightly.

Keep in mind, that Russia's situation is entirely different than that of the US. The US is engaged in a vast "pivot" project to remove secular regimes that are hostile towards Washington, control vital resources from North Africa through the Middle East and across Central Asia, establish military bases wherever necessary, maintain the US dollar as the world's reserve currency, and redraw the map of the ME in a way that best suits the commercial and strategic interests of its core constituents; the banks, the multinational corporations and the big weapons manufacturers.

Russia doesn't have any grandiose plans like that. Putin just wants to sell oil, make money, raise living standards in Russia, and get on with life. He figured that if he played by the rules -- Washington's rules -- joined the WTO, then he'd be okay. But that's not the way it works. The WTO's rules, like the IMF's rules are only upheld as long as they suit Washington's strategic objectives. And when they don't, well, then they're dumped like a hot potato just like they were when the US implemented its economic sanctions on Russia or when the IMF allowed Ukraine to stiff Moscow for $3 billion in loans. The point is, it's a free market when Washington says it's a free market, otherwise all bets are off.

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The same rule applies to terrorism. For example, On Saturday, a group of terrorists detonated a car bomb near a hospital in the Syrian city of Homs -- 22 people were killed and more than 70 were injured. So the Syrian government asked the UN Security Council to condemn the attack. Naturally, the Security Council said "Yes," right?

Wrong. In fact, the UNSC refused to make any statement at all about the attack because, to do so, would be seen as supportive of the Syrian government that the US wants to topple. The bottom line: Blowing up civilians with car bombs is hunky-dory as long as the US benefits from it.

By the way, the Security Council is currently chaired by the US who made sure the draft was never even put to a vote.

Does that sound like a country that's seriously committed to fighting terrorism or a country that is run by hypocrites?

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Mike is a freelance writer living in Washington state.


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