Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted Iran’s invitation to visit Tehran to work out a strategy for the Islamic regime’s nuclear program, Fars News Agency reported Saturday. The West believes the Iranian program is a front for developing nuclear weapons.
In the strangest twist of history, it is Obama the radical leftist who is now acting as the destabilizing warmonger in the Middle East, while Vladimir Putin may be emerging as a stabilizing peacemaker.
Nobody can figure out whether Obama is the most hapless bumbler in history, or whether there is some sinister purpose behind it all.
It could be both.
But just as big a surprise is Putin's emerging role as a peacemaker.
Last week, we saw the first step in that process, when Putin and Assad agreed to allow supervised surrender of Syria's chemical weapons. We can assume that Putin also assured Assad of his continuing support against American-supported al-Qaeda rebels, which makes the rebellion unwinnable.
Meanwhile, Egypt's new military ruler, General Al Sisi, is reaching out to Putin to help stabilize his position against the Muslim Brotherhood, the war fanatics whom Obama has been aiding.
The Saudis, seeing Iranian mullahs with nukes emerging 50 miles from their shores, are also looking to make a deal with Putin. They have a lot of oil and money, and they cannot trust their American ally anymore.
If America bugs out, Russia is the obvious nuclear protector for the Saudis. In international affairs, survival comes first.
Putin knows all about pushover liberals. He rose in the Soviet KGB to become the head of the East German arm of Soviet intelligence. The Soviets studied Western politics and penetrated West Germany at the highest levels of government. Our Democrats are useful idiots in Lenin's meaning of that term, and they are not mysterious to Putin. They can be rolled. To hardnosed KGB thugs they are ridiculously easy to manipulate.
That makes Vladimir Putin potentially the most powerful player in the Middle East. If the Saudis come to an arrangement with him, he can protect them against Iran. One possibility is for the Saudis to coordinate oil prices with Russia, to their mutual benefit.
Putin is a Russian nationalist, like the tsars. Russian rulers have long been nationalistic tyrants. The tsars were also the heads of the Russian Orthodox Church, in exactly the way Queen Elizabeth is still the titular head of the Church of England. The Tsars were religious tyrants.
Russia needs a unifying ideology, and if it's not Communism, it has to be its ancient form of orthodox Christianity. The Soviets tried to extirpate the Orthodox Church for seventy years and failed.
To understand Putin the Peacemaker, consider two more facts.
1. Historically, all the Orthodox churches were shaped by more than a thousand years of warfare against Muslim aggressors. Putin does not have to learn about Muslim aggression -- unlike Obama, who can't seem to get what everybody else understands. When Muslim terrorists attacked a full theater in Moscow and an elementary school in Beslan, Putin took a terrible revenge in Chechnya. The liberal media never covered that war, but you can look it up. Muslims fear Putin. He takes no prisoners.
2. Like the English royals, the Russian tsars styled themselves as the protectors of in their own country and abroad. When Putin therefore expresses official Russian concern about vicious Muslim persecution of Christians in the Middle East, this is not just a shrewd political move. It is also a signal that everybody understands. The Orthodox Churches have ancient ties to Jerusalem, Damascus, and Istanbul, to name just three famous capital cities.
Putin is therefore adopting a traditional Russian approach to the world. He is a realist who plays big-power politics.
History is full of amazing twists and turns. The fall of the Soviet Union came as a surprise. The takeover of America by the radical left was a surprise. The miraculous coincidence of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II came as a surprise. The Islamist-radical left alliance is still a big surprise, even after five years of Obama.
Nobody expected the rise of Putin's Russia in its old historical role.
In politics, surprise is the rule.Putin's Letter To America
It is indeed strange for America and the world to receive a message on the value of both caution and international law from Russian President Vladimir Putin. After all, if there is anything Russia is known for, it is taking decisive and strong action, irrespective of international law. Any country on the receiving end of a Russian energy pipeline knows this all too well. And Georgia, which sought to build a competitive pipeline, learned this by staring down the muzzles of Russian tanks and being the victims of military brutality.
But before we dismiss Putin's hypocrisy, there is much we can learn from hisNew York Times opinion piece. Even if Putin would never follow the advice he is willing to give to America, there is too much truth in it to ignore. The world has turned upside down. President Obama speaks of UN "hocus pocus," and Putin speaks of the value of international law.
In the end, of course, it is about using appropriate symbols for a nation's interest. But international law now sustains Putin's interests, while ignoring it buttresses Obama's. Who is the bigger hypocrite?
Putin is quite right when he says that violating international law and bypassing the United Nations undermines the international system. Yes, international law is often practiced in the breach and when it is, the international community suffers for it.
Of course, nothing happens in the Middle East that does not ultimately involve energy. The Russians want the pipeline coming out of Qatar to terminate in the Syrian port of Tartus, where Russia holds leases, rather than somewhere in NATO-aligned Turkey. The same is true of the new pipelines coming out of Iraq and Iran. America wants these pipelines to end in Turkey and the Russians want them to end in an Assad-controlled Syria.
One could say that is the basis of the conflict. Everything else is distraction.
Nonetheless, if America is to be different from Russia, it is necessary to pursue its interests the right way, not through a wholesale disrespect of the international community. American "exceptionalism" means nothing if it only serves as a justification for the ruthless pursuit of American interests.
As Vladimir Putin ironically lectures us on international law, it certainly looks like Obama has embraced American exceptionalism as a rationale for imperialism. Obama recklessly brought us to the brink of war, and Putin, picking up on an offhand comment by John Kerry forged it into a face-saving policy.
Still, the real issue is energy. How many of our young men and women and innocents abroad will die for the perverse Obama environmental base that never saw an oil well that should be drilled, a pipeline that should be built, or a fuel that should be burned? The Middle East is only important because of energy. If we can exploit our own resources more efficiently, we have the ability to ignore the quagmire that is the Middle East and the political cesspool created by the disastrous transfer of wealth from one part of the globe to the other. In the meantime, there is no war in Syria that requires our attention or is vital to our interests. Let's follow Putin's lead, hypocritical or not; it is time for diplomacy, not for missiles.