Earlier this year I wrote a diary on Putin and his courtship of Greece, and how this was quite predictable, if one knew that one of the main driving forces in Russian History is a quest to control the eastern Mediterranean, i.e. a quest to bring Russia access to a port which does not freeze. Putin’s annexation of the Crimea was part of that same drive to control the seacoast in the south.
The courtship continues: Putin was quite happy to see Greece’s Prime Minister Tsipras re-elected, and both pledged to strengthen the ties between Greece and Russia. There was also a discussion of the refugee problem generated by ISIS/ISIL in Syria and its neighbors. Tsipras is no Russian lapdog, however, and knows that in fact he will need to stay in the EU (but possibly not NATO) and play Putin off against the Western Europeans. One suspects that Putin naturally knows this also, but would like Greece as a back-up to the possible loss of Syria.
For the Russians have invested billions in Syria for the Russian navy: bases at Latakia and Tartus are the beginning of a long-term Russian presence in the eastern Mediterranean. The Financial Times reported three years ago that Syria’s dictator was important to Russian ambitions, a client who was buying Russian military hardware, but not always paying for it!
Moscow protects Mr Assad because it needs his government right where it is. Syria is Russia’s most reliable Middle Eastern partner. In fact, Mr Assad, like his father before him, buys most of Syria’s military hardware from Moscow – taking on considerable debt in the process. Russia forgave about 75 per cent of those obligations in 2006 in exchange for use of Syria’s naval bases at Latakia and Tartus. For Russia, access to a Mediterranean port is of great strategic value: it has invested heavily in both sites, using Latakia as a submarine base, and hopes to add the space and capacity to use Tartus for missile cruisers. The Russians apparently fear that losing Mr Assad could mean losing these valuable Mediterranean ports.
Taking a loss of 75% shows how important Syria is to Putin, especially when one realizes that the Russian economy is not in the best shape to begin with.
Putin is undoubtedly loving the self-inflicted impotence of our eunuch-in-chief BIG BRObama: Putin now plays the protector of civilization and of Orthodox Christians under siege in Syria and its surroundings, in the same way that he sees himself, and is seen by many Russians, as a protector of Russia.
And why does Russia need a protector? The answer comes from a Russian aristocrat, born in the 1880’s, an opponent of the Communists, and also no friend of democracy, who wrote political philosophy in exile. His philosophy is not necessarily consistent, and Putin does not adhere to all of the old aristocrat’s ideas. And yet, Putin has honored the man, having his remains exhumed from Switzerland and re-interred in a place of honor at a monastery in Russia.
Ivan Ilyin is said to have influenced Alexander Solzhenitsyn as well as Putin and others in Russia. In essence he was a monarchist, who also believed, like certain other political philosophers, that a country’s institutions are shaped by climate, past history, religion, and many other factors, making the utopian idea that DEMOCRACY is the ultimate and best goal for all humanity impossible, if not risible. Ilyin may not have agreed with Putin’s military adventures, but we can see why Putin sees himself in certain of Ilyin’s writings, like in this excerpt from an essay written in 1948:
…Now almost all émigré parties, adhering as before to their doctrinal political fanaticism and the whispers of their internationalist “sponsors,” are again demanding a democratic, federated republic for Russia. … they know that Russians have from that time (1917) been picked clean unto poverty by those who have tried to turn them into slaves; they know that over the course of thirty years the Russian people have been deprived of accurate information on internal and foreign affairs and made politically blind; they know that Russians have been systematically weaned from any independent knowledge, judgment, and understanding, of independent labor and personal responsibility; that they have been denigrated for thirty years, their faith and all spiritual and moral foundations wrecked, accustoming them to hungry venality and vile mutual denunciation… They know all this and consider it a suitable condition for the immediate introduction of a democratic republic…
What can we expect from the enactment of such programs apart from national disasters?
There will pass years of national remembrance; settling in; solace; coming to reason; becoming informed. There will come a restoration of an elementary sense of justice; a return to the principles of honor and honesty; personal responsibility and loyalty; a feeling of one’s own dignity; to incorruptibility and independent thought – before the Russian people will be in a condition to carry out sensible and not ruinous political elections. And until that time it can be led only by a national, patriotic, hardly totalitarian, but authoritarian – cultivating and reviving – dictatorship.
(My emphasis above)
(Translation by Mark Hackard: http://souloftheeast.org/2013/12/26/ivan-ilyin-on-formal-democracy/ )
I have no doubt that Putin looks into the mirror and sees Ilyin’s benevolent dictator preparing Russia for its great future later in the 21st century, a non-democratic, “hardly totalitarian, but authoritarian” future.
And so: does the current resident of the White House not know of these things, so that he can better understand Putin and counter him? Do the CIA and the State Department and other bureaus not have analysts who have written reports about this?
Of course they do, but our eunuch-in-chief is not interested in keeping America ahead of the Russians or anyone else. He talks tough for the sound-bite news, for a populace able to attend only to sound-bites, and then continues his so far successful quest to dismantle American power and influence across the globe by doing nothing or very little. Putin basically said in his U.N. speech that the current resident of the White House is irrelevant in the current struggle against ISIS, and he was right. Everything accomplished by the sacrifices of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan has been deliberately thrown away to fulfill the ideological dream of an anti-American quasi-pacifist president.
And why? Because – as has become obvious in nearly 7 years – with the current resident of the White House facts contradicting the rightness of his beliefs cannot be facts. His arrogance prevents him from seeing that his ideology is wrong: his arrogance is that of another philosopher, Karl Marx, who was positive that he had found the key to interpreting and then to controlling History. Marxism was disproven, for those who have not yet heard, in the 20th Century by the homicidal disasters in the Soviet Union, Red China, and elsewhere.
I suspect our eunuch-in-chief suffers partially from The Dunning-Kruger Effect, a psychological ailment (technically a “cognitive bias”) wherein some incompetent people suffer a delusion of superiority. The problem is that, in experiments, once the incompetent are given training in a certain skill, they usually admit their lack of competence.
With the current resident of the White House, 7 years of “on-the-job training” have not stopped his delusions of superiority. Undoubtedly he believes that he has tricked Putin into fighting ISIS as a proxy for the United States. “Let the Russians get bogged down in the Middle East quagmire!” and you can imagine the laughter in the Oval Office.
The laughter forgets one thing: the Russians are hoping to be permanently “bogged down” in the eastern Mediterranean!