Friday, October 2, 2015

Vladimir Putin's Address to UN.

No doubt Vladimir Putin is not a very nice person. Nor Bashar el Assad. Just to survive, yet alone rise to (or stay at) the top, in the worlds they inhabit, one doubtless needs to be very ruthless.
But Putin is not Hitler, intent on world domination, and it would make sense to pay attention to what he has to say. In his speech to the UN Security Council he made some sharp and uncomfortable observations. Of particular importance I think was of the need for all countries to respect the sovereignty of others - a principle laid down with the Peace of Westphalia over 350 years ago, but seemingly violated at will since the end of the Cold War.

He admits to Soviet misdeeds in this realm and goes on to castigate the US and NATO for destroying states in North Africa and the Middle East - Libya, Iraq and, although he doesn't mention it by name, Syria.   Another example carried out by the Saudis, with US complicity, is Yemen  “Yemen after five months looks like Syria after five years,” said the international head of the Red Cross after visiting Yemen.

He could also have mentioned how the US has developed the art of illicit de-stabilization and regime change since the Second World War. During the Cold War these operations were predominantly carried out in Latin America, their so-called "backyard"  - Guatemala (1954), Dominican Republic (1961), Chile (1973), Cuba (unsuccessfully, 1959), Nicaragua (1980s) but there were also other operations closer to the Soviet Union  for example in Iran (1953).  Since the ending of the Cold War it has got completely out of hand - Iraq, Libya, Syria and ongoing covert operations against the government of Iran, not to mention US involvement in Ukraine and the destabilization of Venezuela.

And the results of these so-called "democracy-promoting" exercises? Well as Putin says, “An aggressive foreign interference has resulted in a brazen destruction of national institutions. … Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social disaster."

He describes how ISIS emerged from the ruins of Iraq - many former Iraqi army soldiers, who no longer had a position, but still had weapons, joined Al Qaeda in Iraq; then fighters from Libya started finding their way to Syria along with weapons from Qadaffi's arsenals funnelled by the CIA; and units trained by the US and Gulf State allies, as the so-called "moderate opposition", started defecting. And so ISIS was born.

Another thing Putin warns against is using terrorist groups to achieve political ends. It seems now common practice in the ME. But while the US and the West fulminate against terrorism, they have been as bad as anyone in using jihadi groups for their own ends, going back at least to the US use of mujahadeen in Afghanistan, out of which emerged Al Qaeda.   Probably the CIA are currently supporting some of the imagined "more moderate" jihadi groups in Syria.

All in all it is not a pretty picture. And not one which is clearly accepted in most of the western media. It is easier to divide the world into 'goodies' and 'baddies'. Of course our side are the 'goodies' in the white hats. Putin is portrayed as wearing a black hat, but clearly he understands what is going on. Maybe he doesn't wear a white hat. But he points out that our side doesn't either. And he pleads for a better way of conducting international relations.

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