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Why Obama and Putin are Both Wrong on Syria


Why Obama and Putin are Both Wrong on Syria

Juan Cole

President Obama seemed awfully defensive in his speech at the United Nations on Monday. The reason is not far to seek. Russia’s Vladimir Putin has surprised Washington by volunteering to get militarily involved in Syria and by arguing that only by enlisting the Baath regime of Bashar al-Assad can Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) be defeated.

Obama is defensive because a) his own plans for confronting Daesh have largely failed, and b) because Putin’s plans for doing so are concrete and involve trying to prop up dictator Bashar al-Assad.


I just listened to a Putin interview with Charlie Rose (60 Minutes). Rose offered the same old, tired, neoconservative demented talking points, and Putin made a supreme effort to counter all of the idiotic memes that Rose threw his way and be respectful in his responses, and I found myself in the background ranting and raving about all the putrid horse shit coming from Rose.

I'm wondering if Cole attended to this tete a tete. I'm wondering if he payed full attention to what Putin had to say. If he did, it seems from this essay that he should have been listening a little bit better.

I believe that Putin was obliquely trying to say that everything the US touches, in an effort to make the nations of the world conform to its skewed and bedeviling expectations, has eventually turned to shit. A good summation of US foreign policy, wouldn't you say? It's kind of like the Midas' touch in reverse. If the Queen of Darkness takes control in 2016, you won't even recognize what a hell the Earth will become.


Juan Cole makes many assertions of truth here that probably connot be proved, or proof thereof cannot be produced. Like so many of these "regimes in turmoil' the meddling hand of the CIA and other western black ops are never seen. Yes there are legitimate grievances against al-Assad by Syrians, and not just by the holier-than-thou but we-can't-shoot-strait pufferies of higher morality (that would be our PNAC neocons and Obama belongs in that bag too when he takes the tack he has done here.)

It is pretty simple, as the current scene indicates: The Syrian regime is the last, greatest client-state of the former USSR, and the neocons in their hubris of world hegemony set their sights on it long ago. It would not matter if Assad was the second coming of Christ, "he has to go" is the official line of the US and don't you forget it. As for Putin's words, posture, and apparent intent, well of course, or just slink off into the background of second or third rate "powers". (How futile and destructive this all is.) I think Vlad the Steadfast (for his rescue of Yeltsin and his corrupt cronies) smells blood in the water.

I would like Cole to produce the absolute irrefutable proof that would be indicated by his statement that the US and its cabal of power did not create ISIS. Oooohhhh - he meant intentionally. That would still be a swing and a miss Juan.


Cole is singing in the 'Assad Must Go' chorus without questioning who wrote the song.

Sad to hear.


Love it!

This isn't a consideration for the anti-Sanders crowd. They'd rather make sure Bernie isn't nominated than try to stop Clinton.


Good catch. As soon as a professor, pundit, or writer pushes the "conspiracy theorist" nonsense, it's a sure bet that they're working to shut out any analysis that departs too far from the Official Narratives.


"Quite a superficial and specious article".

Enough said!


Cole is an a$$hat and an Agency man.

This piece is a backhanded hatchet job on Putin more than anything. He improves Obama's standing on Syria and degrades Putin's on balance, and that's doing the work of power.


For some reason I had thought Juan Cole to be a pretty astute commentator on issues involving the Middle East, but after reading his understanding of Syria, I believe he's smitten by the neocon love affair with regime change and military intervention. Based on the history of the CIA's employment of Islamic radicals to fight proxy wars in the past, it's highly logical and reasonable to believe they've been using Daesh to bring about the end of Assad in Syria. US officials were open initially about using the CIA to help arm the "rebels" in Syria, now everyone is wanting to act like it's some conspiracy theory to acknowledge what was stated openly then.

C'mon Cole, get your act together man.


Juan Cole, how much does the CIA pay you to distort the facts. Anybody in there right mind that listened to Putin's recent 60 minutes interview. Knows that Putin is spot on, on his opinions on Syria.


As I see it, there is a certain consensus between world leaders, Cole and the posters here. Syria and ISIS is a big fucking mess.


By definition, there is no such thing as a "liberal interventionist". Only neoliberals and conservatives could be interventionists.

Leftists are not necessarily progressives. Some like Stalin and Pol Pot were regressive leftist conservatives. However, all liberals seem to be progressives.

The oligarchy hires people like Luntz to blur the definitions and blame liberals for the atrocities committed by their conservative and neoliberal minions.


There should not, and will not, be any 'transition'. Assad is the legitimate leader of Syria. Is he a particularly nice guy? Probably not, his father certainly wasn't. But if he is ever going to be removed from power that is for the Syrian people themselves to decide. Genuinely decide, not have their cause used as cover for importing armies of foreign fighters. However bad Assad may or may not be, he is infinitely preferable to what has been wrought in the foolish quest to remove him.


The pictures say it all really.


"Humanitarian bomber". :joy:


My impression of Juan Cole, for whom I had much respect, has plummeted. The US government was not instrumental in creating Daesh? Who invaded Iraq? Who fired all of the police and the military in Bremer's deBaathization program? How many Sunni disgruntled, recently unemployed former policemen and military used their weapons and military expertise to help found Daesh to oppose the new Shia Iraqi government? It may be attributable to an incompetent, compliant corporate press, but when the protests occurred in Syria [funded by whom? - like Ukraine?] why could I find no information about potentially negotiable demands? The only demand I remember is overthrow of the government. It made no sense whatsoever, using qui bono, to suggest that the Syrian government used chemical weapons [in order to induce foreign intervention?]. Only the opposition had such a motivation.


Most of the world understands 'liberal' to mean 'conservative'. It's the liberty of 'personal freedom', 'small government', and 'low regulations'. The United States, as so often is the case, exists in a bubble. We equate liberal with leftist and social justice. It's a usage that stretches back to FDR. The reality is that American liberals were only ever somewhat left-ish, and today not even that. Most of what remains of the actual left wouldn't be caught dead describing themselves as liberals. See:


A third of the nation SECEDED and is heavily armed? Does he mean the people there voluntarily chose government by ISIS or Al Qaeda?


And Juan Cole is all wrong about Syria and Putin. I can't believe this man is on CommonDreams. Was it just to get us all riled up? First of all, the neocons have an unmistakable modus operandi when it comes to regime change:
1. target the country that gets in the way of maximum profit for ourselves or our banker friends
2. vilify the leaders of that country and plant lies about their evil intentions toward the 'West' including Israel - "uses WMD" especially nuclear, "murders his own people' . Assad's big crime was opposing the Iraq war and refusing to throw the Palestinians to the zionist wolves by officially recognizing Israel's 'right to exist'
3. goad the government into doing something that triggers a 'humanitarian' response as they did with the response to 'peaceful demonstrations' in Syria (and Ukraine) - all set up as in Washington's urging of Saddam to attack Kuwait
4. never give up especially when you are humiliated on the international stage by Putin's wonderful diplomacy.

Juan is quite a gullible guy if he really believes the only mistake in Libya was not staying. How's that working out in Iraq? Afghanistan? I hear the Taliban have taken back their old headquarters in the north. Even Malala Joya says Afghanis must take control away from the old warlords, not the US. Oh dearie me, regime change is such an all time consuming business and America is so run ragged being the chosen (self) ruler of the world. Thank the gods of good sense for Putin.


Spot on noodle!


So true!