October 6, 2015

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Today’s post could be titled “Becoming Putin’s Poodle.” because that is the title of the first item which is a post from National Review.

The sound you’d be hearing this morning if you live in the devastated city of Homs in Syria, would be Russian jets doing bombing runs against your neighbors rebelling against dictator Bashar al-Assad. 

And not just in Homs. The roar of those Russian jets is being heard around the world; it’s the sound of Vladimir Putin becoming the new alpha male and power broker of the Middle East.

What I dubbed in a recent NR article the Pax Putinica is rapidly taking shape. Just as the earlier Pax Americana was aimed at containing the Soviet Union, so Putin’s new world order is aimed at smashing the U.S.’s influence as a superpower, first in Europe and now in the eastern Mediterranean. 

Our president, meanwhile, is letting it all happen. If Vladimir Putin is the dominant alpha male in the new international pecking order, Barack Obama has emerged as his highly submissive partner. 

There are various reasons why we are being subjected to the humiliating spectacle of an American president, so-called leader of the free world, rolling over on the mat at Putin’s feet. …




And Charles Krauthammer has the keynote address as he reacts to the administration’s “anger” at Putin’s Syria policy. 

If it had the wit, the Obama administration would be not angered, but appropriately humiliated. President Obama has, once again, been totally outmaneuvered by Vladimir Putin. Two days earlier at the United Nations, Obama had welcomed the return, in force, of the Russian military to the Middle East — for the first time in decades — in order to help fight the Islamic State.

The ruse was transparent from the beginning. Russia is not in Syria to fight the Islamic State. The Kremlin was sending fighter planes, air-to-air missiles and SA-22 anti-aircraft batteries. Against an Islamic State that has no air force, no planes, no helicopters?

Russia then sent reconnaissance drones over Western Idlib and Hama, where there are no Islamic State fighters. Followed by bombing attacks on Homs and other opposition strongholds that had nothing to do with the Islamic State. …

… Why is Putin moving so quickly and so brazenly? Because he’s got only 16 more months to push on the open door that is Obama. He knows he’ll never again see an American president such as this — one who once told the General Assembly that “no one nation can or should try to dominate another nation” and told it again Monday of “believing in my core that we, the nations of the world, cannot return to the old ways of conflict and coercion.”

They cannot? Has he looked at the world around him — from Homs to Kunduz, from Sanaa to Donetsk — ablaze with conflict and coercion?

Wouldn’t you take advantage of these last 16 months if you were Putin, facing a man living in a faculty-lounge fantasy world? Where was Obama when Putin began bombing Syria? Leading a U.N. meeting on countering violent extremism. …




WSJ Editors have an opinion.

… Mr. Putin is also showing that Russia is an ally to be trusted, in contrast to an America that abandoned Iraq in 2011 and won’t fight ISIS with conviction. His alliance with Iran gives him leverage throughout the Middle East, and his Syria play may even give him leverage with Europe over Ukraine sanctions. Perhaps he’ll offer to limit the barrel bombs that have sent refugees fleeing in return for Europe easing sanctions. Some quagmire.

Mr. Obama could make Mr. Putin pay a price if he reversed his Middle East policy and revived American leadership. In Syria the U.S. could set up a no-fly zone to create a haven for refugees against Islamic State and Mr. Assad’s barrel bombs. He could say U.S. planes will fly wherever they want, and if one is attacked the U.S. will respond in kind.

In Iraq the U.S. could directly arm the Kurds. And the U.S. could rev up the campaign against Islamic State from more than 11 or so strike sorties a day. This would show a new commitment that might convince the Sunni Arabs that the U.S. is finally serious about defeating the caliphate.

By now we know Mr. Obama will do none of this. He wants America out of the Middle East, so he will gradually find a way to accommodate Russia’s presence in the Middle East and Mr. Putin’s demands. U.S. allies in the region will get the message and make their accommodations with Russia and Iran. The next President will inherit a bigger terror threat and diminished U.S. influence, if not worse. …



Ralph Peters says Putin wants to humiliate the US.

The first thing to understand about Vladimir Putin is that he’s not content just to win. He has to destroy his opponents, foreign or domestic.

His deeds may be despicable and his manners far too crude for the Upper West Side, but the guy is a force of nature, a man who — by sheer strength of will — has used a broken country and its rusting military to change the world. Meanwhile, our astonished president sulks like a high school girl stood up by her boyfriend (“But Vladimir . . . you promised!”).

Now we have reached the point where a Russian general can barge into a US military office in the Middle East and order us to stop flying our aircraft over Syria. Oh, we’re still flying, for now — but you can bet that our flights are restricted and careful to the point of paralysis.

You bet President Obama’s afraid of Putin. Physically, tangibly, change-the-diaper afraid.

And as I wrote in these pages on Monday, the odds are good that Putin will order the shootdown of a US drone or even a manned aircraft, anyway. Why? Because he can.

And he enjoys it. …



Claudia Rosett says Putin’s blitz is a Middle East coup in three acts.

As the world audience contemplates this latest drama in the reshaping of the 21st Century World Order. 

In New York, the United Nations is still lumbering through its Sept. 28th – Oct. 3 general debate. But even with today’s declaration by aging potentate Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinian Authority will no longer respect the Oslo Accords (did they ever?) the headlines are elsewhere. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin not only stole the UN show, but in Syria — and beyond — is stealing a march on President Obama that makes the current world scene look ever more like the disastrous penultimate year of Jimmy Carter’s presidency. That 1979 run of debacles opened with Iran’s Islamic Revolution, and rolled on to the Soviet Union’s December invasion of Afghanistan — lighting the fuel under the cauldron whence sprang, in due course, a great many horrors, including the Sept. 11, 2001 al Qaeda attacks on the United States.

Obama’s presidency still has more than a year to run (477 days, to be precise), and after more than six years of U.S. global retreat, as we toil through this fourth quarter of “interesting stuff,” trouble is spreading even faster than it did in the Carter era. The threats now rising like a tsunami on the horizon are, arguably, worse.

But let’s focus here on Russia. This week, President Putin has delivered not only a blitz in Syria, but a grand slam on the world stage. Call it a play in three acts. …




Max Boot writes on the disaster that is left to the next president.

Now even if President Obama wanted to take more serious steps to stop Assad — and there is no sign that he does — he would find it increasingly difficult to do so. As General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, recently noted, Russia is building an “A2/AD bubble” over Syria. That stands for anti-access/area denial — military nomenclature for defensive systems such as anti-aircraft missiles that will make it hard for U.S. or Israeli forces to operate in the area.

So, in addition to the creation of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the ongoing killing of the Syrian civil war, the general chaos of Libya, the loss of territory to the Taliban, and the general expansion of Iranian influence, the Obama administration is leaving another legacy to its successor: Growing Russian power in the heart of the Middle East. It makes you wonder why anyone would want to be president, given the size of the mess that Obama’s successor will inherit. …


The cartoonists have a ball.



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