Vladimir Putin — Part 1: The enigmatic Russian leader will need to show statesmanship in the Syrian crisis by Miguel A. Faria, MD

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I write these words and I shudder because as I read the BBC headlines and reports in the early morning hours I learned that President Trump ordered, and the U.S. has launched, a devastating missile strike on a Syrian airbase. The American attack is in retaliation for the Syrian chemical attack on a rebel-held town in northwestern Syria a few days ago in which at least 80 of their own Syrian people, including dozens of women and children, were killed. Here is how the BBC reported the U.S. missile launch:

Fifty-nine Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from two US Navy ships in the Mediterranean. Six people were killed, the Syrian army said. It is the first direct US military action against forces commanded by Syria’s president. The Kremlin, which backs Bashar al-Assad, has condemned the strike.

Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo credit: Reuters

Up until now Trump and Putin have tried to collaborate in Syria at least against the areas held by the terrorist Islamic Caliphate (IS). How Putin reacts to this American unilateral action, devastating for his protégé and main ally in the region, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, may help decipher the long-term political and military intentions of the enigmatic Vladimir Putin.

Following the U.S. airfield strike, China released a neutral message calling for restraint. The UK, Nato, and Japan supported the American action, while Iran, Syria, and Russia condemned it. In the Middle East, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey strongly supported the American missile strike. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated: “President Trump sent a strong and clear message today that the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated. Israel fully supports President Trump’s decision and hopes that this message of resolve in the face of the Assad regime’s horrific actions will resonate not only in Damascus, but in Tehran, Pyongyang and elsewhere.” Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who had been a strong opponent of the Assad regime and had already denounced the Syrian chemical attack a few days earlier, also supported the American action as “strongly positive” and his foreign ministry spokesman stated that “Turkey would fully support steps that would ensure accountability for the Syrian regime.”

But what do these developments mean for Putin’s and Russia’s aspirations in the Middle East? Consider the fact that Putin has his sights on building an Eastern Mediterranean power base centered in Syria, relying on the acquiescence and assistance of his ally Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Russia has plans for building military bases in Egypt and just recently had been given the go-ahead by Assad to build an offensive submarine and naval base in Tartus, Syria, a development that would have tilted the balance of power in the Mediterranean towards Russia. Those with knowledge of geopolitics and history would recognize that Putin’s actions in the Eastern Mediterranean have been unprecedented by the Russians. The Soviets attempted these actions in Egypt and Libya and ultimately failed. In centuries past, Catherine the Great and her all-powerful minister and lover, Grigory Potemkin (1739-1791), and their successors, Tsars Nicholas I and Alexander II, only dreamed of projecting Russian power through the Straits with the building of naval bases in the straits and the Mediterranean that could challenge the Western powers. The Ottoman Turks, supported by England and France, prevented the fulfillment of that Russian dream, a dream that would have been a nightmare for the British fleet, French possessions in the Mediterranean, and the European balance of power.
 
Putin had been fulfilling a statesmanship role in the Middle East, easing tensions with Russia’s traditional enemy Turkey, increasing Russian influence in the region, and projecting Russian power in Syria and planning to do the same in Egypt and Libya as well — with the help and connivance of Syria and Iran. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has continued to court Putin and has even offered the Russians an airbase in Iran. This generosity of course is a quid pro quo arrangement for Iran to continue to exert power in Syria though Hezbollah, as well as asking for Russian acquiescence in building a railroad passing through Syria allowing Tehran access to the Mediterranean Sea.

Map of the Bosporus Stait

After the American missile strike, it appears the U.S has made reinvigorated allies in the region besides Israel and Jordan. Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan may be at the forefront of that alliance  — this despite the capricious animosity of the European Union (EU) towards the Turkish president. Closer ties between the U.S and Turkey is practical not only because of their common fight against ISIS but also because of Turkey’s traditional fear of Russia, a fear that spans the time farther back than the communist USSR to tsarist times. Russia has been for centuries the natural enemy of Turkey for geopolitical and historic reasons — namely the attempted use of power in the region and the Russians’ repeated efforts for unconditional passage, if not outright possession and even annexation, of the straits between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. In the Crimean War (1853-56), France and England supported the Turks and fought Tsarist Russia to preserve the littoral and straits in the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara of the flagging Ottoman Empire, “The Sick Man of Europe” — from falling in the hands of the expansionist Russians. It appears that Trump may have capitalized on this history and has managed to force a wedge between Erdogan and Putin with the U.S. attack on the Syrian airfield. But was it worth it?

I had hoped the Trump-Putin cordiality, in general, and the close military cooperation in Syria against ISIS, in particular, could have continued, but that may not be the case. The Russians, though, may be forced to cooperate, as ISIS and Islamic terrorism target not only America and the West, but also Russia, as happened in the suicide metro bombing attack of April 4, 2017 by a young Moslem Kyrgyz terrorist in St. Petersburg. Russia’s underbelly is surrounded by Islamic nations and territories, not all friendly to the Russian Federation. Moreover both Trump and Putin along with Theresa May of Great Britain and Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey have been at the forefront opposing the New World Order globalization, forced secularization, collectivization and regimentation campaign of the EU and the internationalist elites.

For this reason I think the strike on Syria was a mistake: ISIS is the immediate enemy, not Syria; and the NWO globalization is the long-term enemy, not nationalist Russia. Trump was misled by his newer, neoconservative and internationalist advisors. I only hope that he will gain some political capital out of it, but otherwise that he returns to his instincts and common sense, and to the promises he made to his conservative supporters, who elected him against all odds.

With the globalization drive and the new Syrian crisis ahead, Russia will see itself more than ever surrounded by hostile powers, and Putin will have to decide who are and who are not his friends and separate friends from foes. Trump will need to do the same. The message has now been sent to Syria and other rogue nations that violation of treaties to which both the violator and the U.S. are signatories (i.e., in the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993) will not be tolerated; committing war crimes in the process, and in a war in which the U.S. is also involved, will have dire consequences.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks on the phone in his office in St. Petersburg on December 15, 2018. Photo credit: Alexey Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images

Putin may also take home the message that further aggression toward his neighbors and seizure of territories by force, as he did in the Crimea, will lead to untoward effects for Russia; that the war in the Eastern Ukraine should end; that hostility to his neighbors should cease; and that the national security of the U.S. and its allies will be safeguarded.

North Korea and its dangerous infant terrible, Kim Jong-un, with his tantrums and his restless fingers threatening nuclear war, should also take notice that further missile attacks and provocations towards South Korea and Japan, America’s allies, are acts leading them likewise down the perilous path of a defensive American pre-emptive missile strike; and the same goes for China and its belligerent actions in the disputed islands of the South China Sea.

None of this, we hope for the peace of the world, negates the intention of the United States to have cordial relations with both Russia and China, on one side, and the EU, Great Britain, and Japan, on the other. By the same token, the U.S., should not become the world’s policeman and impose “democracy” in all parts of the world, nor to change its tune to joint the European socialist elites in their campaign of globalization and regimentation. The people worldwide have recently made it clear they yearn for nationalism and the freedom to follow their own road of self-determination, independence, and peace.

(Continue to Part II)

Written by Dr. Miguel Faria

Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D. is an Associate Editor in Chief and a World Affairs Editor of Surgical Neurology International (SNI). He is the Author of Cuba in Revolution: Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002). His website is https://HaciendaPublishing.com.

This article may be cited as: Faria MA. Vladimir Putin — Part 1: The enigmatic Russian leader will need to show statesmanship in the Syrian crisis. HaciendaPublishing.com, April 7, 2017. Available from: https://haciendapublishing.com/vladimir-putin–part-1-the-enigmatic-russian-leader-will-need-to-show-statesmanship-in-the-syrian-crisis-by-miguel-a-faria-md.

Similar versions of this article appeared in GOPUSA, April 10, and in the Telegraph (Macon), April 17, 2017.

Copyright ©2017 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.

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4 thoughts on “Vladimir Putin — Part 1: The enigmatic Russian leader will need to show statesmanship in the Syrian crisis by Miguel A. Faria, MD”

  1. History 2016 — Regarding Turkey and the Middle East.

    The attempted coup against Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July of 2016 demonstrated the perilous state of affairs in Turkey that persists to this day. Part of the problem has been in the EU, which has acquired a contemptuous attitude impeding Turkeys’ entrance into the EU partnership. Ostensibly the attitude stems ostensibly from turkey’s authoritarian streak in repressing freedom of speech, prosecutions, etc., as if every social democratic measure in place in Europe would work in Turkey. The EU would take notice with the humbling Brexit from Great Britain.

    According to the BBC, the Turkey coup attempt was a serious one with over 6000 people detained, particularly army personnel and high-ranking officers: “The sweep included high-ranking soldiers and 2,700 judges… and at least 265 people were killed in clashes as the coup failed.”

    The big question remains as to who was behind the coup attempt? Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has implicated the US-based Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen being behind the plot, and the plot carried out by his vast number of followers in Turkey and elsewhere. Gulen denies any involvement in the plot. Be that as it may, and I believe Erdogan on this issue, should be to get rid of Mr. Gulen and send him back to Turkey. He is no friend of the United States and yet he hampers our relationship with Turkey which has been a reliable NATO ally until recently.

    Instead of investigating the attempted coup and who was responsible, the West have listened to the complaints of Noam Chomsky against Erdogan and the Turkish crackdown. I remember Noam Chomsky stirring criticism among “intellectuals” of the government of Turkey at about the time of the failed coup, condemning Turkey’s government for violating human rights and cracking down on subversive liberal professors. Chomsky is treated with great respect and his work is quoted or published in numerous mass media outlets and academic newspapers and literature. The fact is that his “scholarship” in philosophy and social politics have been greatly exaggerated. He has been praised because of his liberal (progressive-socialist-authoritarian) tendencies, which are in accord with the left-wing mass media and academia. But for those interested in a Jewish perspective about the Middle East, in particular, and politics, in general, I would recommend David Horowitz. He is the most impressive Jewish conservative writer in my opinion, and his biographical and political books, most of which I have read, are the most perspicacious and brilliant.
    The EU is an unmitigated disaster vis-a vis Turkey. Turkey, Putin and Erdogan have reached a historic rapprochement, perhaps either because of the Eurasian agreement or because of the EU adversarial attitude to both men and countries. Yes, the EU keeps rebuffing Erdogan and Turkey with their uppity demands and stupid criticisms of both Putin and Erdogan. On the part of Putin, the criticisms and punitive actions are frequently with reason; in the part of Erdogan, frequently not so. The EU leaders are a pusillanimous and despicable bunch of pragmatic cowards. Obama and his State Department were no match for Putin and the latter’s obvious knowledge of geopolitics that Obama lacked. Putin and Erdogan are nationalists and will always do what is in the interest of Russia and Turkey respectively. Tump obviously commiserates with this and will do what is best for the US.

    Putin seem to have studied Karl Haushofer (1869 –1946) and his son Albrecht Haushofer (1903 – 1945) for his expansive Eurasian policy and his master of geopolitics. The rift that developed between Obama and Putin was real, as Obama kowtowed to the EU as he did with Islamic and communist leaders, and was very much part of the socialist New World Order that Trump justly abhors. For his part, Putin on June 19, 2016, delivered “a scathing attack of the NWO” and warned Trump that a secret cabal have him “in their crosshairs!” Putin also said that the “NWO is out to get Trump,” but reassuringly told Trump that any enemy of the NWO is a friend of him.

  2. More recent history: Nuclear Deterrence, Russia, and the Caspian Sea Oil (2011)

    As it relates to the Russian general’s threat of nuclear war several years ago because of the Russian-Georgian conflict and the instability of the geopolitical areas surrounding Georgia and Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea, I wrote you last in march of 2011? This is What I wrote and it is still valid:

    “The Caucasus, the Black Sea, and the Caspian Sea region around Georgia are very important and strategic areas because of oil supplies, pipelines, and nuclear concerns. The nuclear treaty with Russia should have addressed this region and settled the dispute, but it did not. If Russia were to again seize Georgia, Azerbaijan, and the Baku oil field region, it would be a disaster for Turkey and the West as well as the United States.

“Take a look at the oil pipelines going through Georgia in the Caucasus.

    “Here is a link to a short Wikipedia article. As you can see, the extremely important pipeline runs not only from Azerbaijan, but through Georgia and Turkey. We in the West, and now China and India in the East, need coal, gas, and oil…and with their overpopulation and over-consumption, this is a growing concern for the entire world, including US!


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T

    “I know very few people, particularly Americans, care about geopolitics and oil from the Caspian Sea— but then, presto, we want cheap gas!”

    We signed these nuclear treaties, yet the Russian generals were saber-rattling and threatening nuclear war over these same geopolitical issues. Now do you remember Bob Farquhar of Macon, when I told you that those treaties should be concluded with all geopolitical concerns addressed. You said there was no linkage between the two issues. I told you I hope you were right about those treaties. Frankly, I think the general was bluffing, nevertheless the threat remains…

    It was only the fear of the USA using nuclear weapons that deterred Stalin and the Soviets in 1946-1955, as it did during the Khrushchev (1954-1964), and Brezhnev’s years (1964-1982)— of invading Central and Western Europe, until Ronald Reagan.

    The US survived the Soviet conventional weapons superiority because we were strong, and Europe is free today to pursue their democratic socialism because of the USA and our nuclear deterrent. To paraphrase H.G. Wells in his Time machine, the cannibalistic Morlocks would have devoured the frivolous Elois, if it had not been for the USA and the missile gap in our favor!

    The decadent Social Democracies of Europe would not exist if it was not for these United States of America.  Only nuclear deterrent prevented their powerful Red Army and their T-34 tanks from overrunning the pussyfooting Europeans— and our own freedom!

  3. Putin confused with Khrushchev by FB friend—First it was Putin who mandated (and is mandating) that Solzhenitsyn’s
    The Gulag Archipelago be required reading in high school, and encourages the reading of Solzhenitsyn’s other works. They became friends! Second, Cancer Ward was published in 1966, Warning to the West in 1975, etc., after Khrushchev. Third, Nikita Khrushchev’s thaw went from 1956-1962, and he reverted to the typical Soviet leader, brusque and militant, after that. In fact even during his thaw he crushed the freedom fighters in Hungary in 1956, killing thousands during the Soviet invasion. He confronted and threatened Kennedy in Vienna after the Bay of Pigs in 1961, and built the Berlin Wall that same year. He lost power in 1964 because of the failed Cuban Missile Crisis. He was kind to Solzhenitsyn because he wanted to end the Cult of Personality of Stalin. He was the man at the helm now and did not want to live in Stalin’s shadow. Thus Khrushchev allowed Solzhenitsyn to publish only One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich in the USSR! The Story is told by Solzhenitsyn in his book the Oak and the Calf. I have been studying communism since age 11 and know as much about the Soviets as I know about the Cuban revolutionaries and communists, and those of many other countries in which communism triumphed or even tried to gain power. It is an evil philosophy worth studying. Incidentally the Soviet KGB called the Cuban secret police the G2 (the internal police) and the DGI (foreign intelligence) our little brothers. I hope you read my books, read them, and if you like them, post them as you did with some of Solzhenitsyn, which I consider the greatest man of the 20th Century! I have read ALL of his works published in English or Spanish. This is what I have to say about some of them! https://haciendapublishing.com/category/great-books/

  4. Introduction: President Putin did not wear an umbrella at a soldier’s funeral when asked about it, he replied: “This man died in battle, gave his life for his homeland, died with honor and you ask me why I’m here and pay tribute to him? I’m not made of paper or sugar, nothing will happen to me because I’m outdoors or I’ll be wet, this man deserves five minutes of my full respect.” There are photographs of the event.

    James Yonge Sr.: Putin is a class act but that said he is still a KGB thug, you cannot whitewash reality.

    Dr. Miguel Faria: I will rephrase what I said earlier and add KGB thug mentality yes, but absolutely not a communist. Authoritarian yes, nationalist, yes, Russian patriot yes, thuggish yes, but no communist! He was selected by Yeltsin to keep the communists from regaining control by hook or by crook or by force! And authoritarian is not totalitarian. Many great leaders have been authoritarian and still rule with the consent of the people and the rule of law. Not so with totalitarians, which the communists are. So yes, thuggish and all, he still deserves respect for doing what is best for his country, showing respect for his fallen comrades, and keeping the communists out of power in Russia.

    James Yonge Sr.: I hear you Miguel and see your point, not sure if what we have is MUCH better than Communism. His hits on antagonists in and out of Russia are unacceptable. Putin is a killer. We had bad President, George H W Bush, and he was CIA and more Democrat than Republican but not a THUG. [in response on someone else accusing Bush 41 of Killing JFK and being a thug.] Dr Faria, I hear you and agree on your points. During my college years I took 2 classes in Russian History. My thesis was on Gregory Rasputin. That said my Professor was George Tarkavich who Stalin tried to kill a few times in Russia and here, great Professor. I caught Mono and he actually cut me from his class for 3 missed classes. I have some knowledge of Russia and communism that said I always like to learn more even today. Money is POWER and Putin has BOTH !!

    Dr. Miguel Faria: Sir, I lived in a communist country that my parents unknowingly and naively helped create. I know communism and totalitarianism in my bones. Russia today is nowhere near been a communist country for a thousand reasons that are beyond what I can explain in this format. Suffice to say that the Russians have more freedom now than at least since the Mongols conquered Russia in the 13th century! We in the US today are more socialistic as far as socioeconomics (a 13% flat tax and that is it!), welfare, PC, attacks of religion and private education, degeneration of culture, you name it, here in the US today than in Russia. So far we do enjoy a bit more political freedom and enjoy no evidence of political assassinations (that in Russia is mostly for former KGB agents, double agents, such as Alexander, Litvinenko Sergei Skripal, etc., that Putin and his government consider traitors). And I do agree with you that his wet affairs of political opponents and former KGB agents, the shenanigans in Ukraine, etc. are unacceptable, which is the reason I enumerated what he is and what he is not! But the bottom line is that he is a better leader than Biden and I certainly prefer him to the communist and fascists in Russia taking over!

    And if you read the main book on the subject, which is critical of Putin for his assassination of Litvinenko, you will learn that everything I have said here is true, regardless of our personal opinions: Death of a Dissident: The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB by Alex Goldfarb with Marina Litvinenko. 2007. “The assassination of former Russian intelligence officer Alexander ‘Sasha’ Litvinenko in November 2006 — poisoned by the rare radioactive element polonium — caused an international sensation. Within a few short weeks, the fit 43-year-old lay gaunt, bald, and dying in a hospital, the victim of a ‘tiny nuclear bomb.’ Suspicions swirled around Russia’s FSB, the successor to the KGB, and the Putin regime. Traces of polonium radiation were found in Germany and on certain airplanes, suggesting a travel route from Russia for the carriers of the fatal poison. But what really happened? What did Litvinenko know? And why was he killed?….His closest friend, Alex Goldfarb, and his widow, Marina, are the only two people who can tell it all, from firsthand knowledge, with dramatic scenes from Moscow to London to Washington. Death of a Dissident reads like a political thriller, yet its story is more fantastic and frightening than any novel.” So I can be critical of Putin when I need to be. Bush 41, thug or not, did more harm to this country than Putin could ever do to Russia. He derailed the Reagan revolution, sold the country to the UN and the NWO, outspent the Democrats in taxes and political correctness, flagrantly lied to the American people (“read my lips”) and betrayed the country.

    Dr. Faria: [Responding to someone else who claimed that Russians could do better with someone else.] “Do so much better” with who? That is the question Yeltsin, ill, dying, and having to step down, asked his advisors….Finally Jewish oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who had turned down the offer to succeed Yeltsin and who did not personally like Putin said: Only one man can keep the communists out… Vladimir Putin of Leningrad… former KGB but no communist, loyal, fearless, tenacious, etc. Read: Death of a Dissident: The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB by Alex Goldfarb with Marina Litvinenko. 2007, a book higly critical of Putin! And yes it tells the truth, even when it went against the main thesis! Bad as some claim the situation is today in Russia, someone claiming it is fascism; another, plutocracy; another “Deep State,” if you can believe that!, etc. Bad as the situation in Russia might be as several here in FB claim, Putin still has the support of 75% of the population, trailed only by communists and real fascists (they have a party, 3rd largest!). He always acts in the interest of Russia and doesn’t sell out his country and his people to the Chinese; honors his dead soldiers; respects his country’s traditions, etc. Biden (and the rest of the Democrats are worse) did not even send anybody to await the bodies of Americans dead from South Korea, dishonors our dead soldiers looking at his watch. If we don’t change course we will be worse than Russia by ignorance, cowardice and other dishonorable terms. 

    Al Betz: Would you call Russia and Oligarchy? Not sure how to define it.

    Dr. Faria: Al Betz, like it or not, it is a republic with a strong presidency, not very different from France. The Russian people like a strongman at the helm. If it were an oligarchy, who are they? The USSR was ruled by a collective leadership, an oligarchy, and I can name you more than half a dozen in that oligarchy at the time of Brezhnev, Andropov, Kosygin, Chernenkov, Suslov, Podgorny, Gorbachev, (Mikoyan and Khrushchev, were replaced by Brezhnev), Gromyko, etc.

    Keith G. Langer: Russia is more of a plutocracy; Putin dances between the two top posts and operates through a cabal of chosen multi-millionaires. Not exactly like France, to say the least.

    Dr Faria: KGL, not like France in that socialistic social democracy, like the Democrats want for the US, the millionaires, not to mention billionaires, get overt taxed, which is the reason great actors like Gerard depardieu and other “millionaires,” have left France and become Russian citizens! If you like socialism, you will definitely like France better than Russia!

    Al Betz: Like I said you are the most knowledgeable on my page. Thanks for the education.

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