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kinophile

US/ NATO v. Russia - Misperceptions.

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24 minutes ago, kinophile said:

What are you referring to here? The attempted coup against Gorbachev? 

No, the 1993 "constitutional crisis":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1993_Russian_constitutional_crisis

Somewhere in a bag in my basement I have a video tape of this attacks on the White House.  It was being shown live on CNN and due to time differences it was the middle of the night for me and I had to get up for work the next morning.  Which, come to think about it, shows what a geek I was about this stuff even 20+ years ago ;)

The Russians, like everybody else it seems, want to have their cake and eat it too.  The West (and in particular the US) is blamed for not helping Russia out enough in the early days after the Soviet Union fell.  Yet if the West had tried to do more at the time they would have been branded then, or at least later, as "interfering" and blame laid upon them for everything that went wrong after.  Russian nationalists get their knickers in the twist about the lack of help, but they don't seem to mind that the West stood by while Russian forces slaughtered Chechen civilians.  If the West had taken a strong stand against that, guess what the Russian reaction would have been?  You guessed it... blame laid on the West for interference.

As I keep saying, Russia has always and will always blame the West for everything.  If the West tries to engage too much, it is blamed for overbearing and exploitative behavior.  If it sits back and lets things go down the tubes in Russia, then the West is blamed for not doing enough to help the Russian people.  The current Russian government also spends enormous amounts of energy and money to convince Russians that it is all done on purpose with evil intent in order to prevent Russians from obtaining a better life for themselves at home and respect abroad.  Since "external enemy" is one of the most important aspects of maintaining domestic order in an autocratic society, the US (and the West in general) is the logical choice to vilify.

Unfortunately, many in the West believe the Russian propaganda and/or their own domestic ill informed sources of selective reasoning.  That then causes them to directly, or indirectly, support the Russian positions.  Even when they say they do not.

The world is a mess and the US is both expected to clean it up and at the same time not interfere.  It's absolutely impossible for it to do both, yet that doesn't stop the bad logic and unsound arguments that it somehow can.

Steve

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2 hours ago, panzermartin said:

Although you are painting Russia in a very negative tone,

I absolutely am not doing that because it implies motivates I do not have.  What I am doing is speaking frankly and pragmatically about what Russia is and how it works.  The resulting image is whatever it is.

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I know and understand those differences in the more primitive nature of their nation. Thanks for the insight and reccomendation though looks like an interesting read. I used to think that their centuries long OligarchTsar rule has more to do with this than the communist system. Russia didnt have its own class revolution early enough like France for instance that created the french democracy and the middle class in late 18th century. The 1917 revolt was a necessary "evil". A violent turn that came to close the huge cap between oligarchs and common people that till then were by large extremely poor illiterate peasants stuck in the middle ages and badly paid workers. Russians as you say indeed have a strangely prolonged patience going through exploitation and mistreatment. There were some undeniable benefits from the communist system, like access to health care and high quality education for everyone that improved the living standards of the average russian. Corruption was already a common sign from the tsarist era but probably grew even more with the monolithic soviet state. But anyway I'm not going to defend communism here, we know the system turned very soon into another tyranny with party members/associates being the new oligarchs-with an ideology this time. 

Russia's history is a long and depressing story of mass murder, mass exploitation, and mass deception.  In many ways things have got better for the average Russian over time, but at great cost to themselves and the society around them.  A cost that we in the West completely and utterly do not view as acceptable.  But we in the West are not Russians and we do not live in Russia, therefore it is easy for us to be judgemental.  I try very, very hard to not be any more judgemental of the Russian people than I do a neighbor who is horribly treated by his/her spouse and yet remains.  I understand the psychology enough to know that it isn't as simple as saying "don't put up with that crap and leave!" even if that is exactly what the person should do.

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They are certainly people in russia with a very cruel, cynical and selfish approach to wealth with complete disregard for the society around them. (Its not a russian exclusive though). The thing is that the attempted rushed transition to capitalism in the Yeltsin years has a lot to do with todays situation(a quick from wiki):  

Not that simple.  The oligarchs were already deeply entrenched in Russia's economy and political system long before the Soviet Union collapsed.  They never intended to let themselves lose their economic power and were always prepared to use force to keep it.  Not to mention expand it.  Putin, and other members of the security apparatus, very willingly played a key role as advisors, enforces, and active participants in taking what was ostensibly "state" assets/authority and handing them over to the oligarchs (or becoming oligarchs themselves, as is the case with Putin and many of his ex KGB buddies).  Anybody that posed a challenge or a threat to this transfer of wealth and power was removed, one way or another.  The new Russia never had a chance to be democratic.  Not even a little bit.  The West's actions or inactions had very little influence on the course of events and eventual outcomes.

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[So seems like the russian people had a very traumatic period of moving to a more open economy which probably explains the gradual retreat to the "safety" of old soviet practices and the distrust towards the West. The sad truth is that the West nowadays isnt as attractive as it used to be, looking at the crisis in the EU. Politcians lacking vision and behaving like puppets of interests bigger than the country they serve and stronger countries exploiting weaker economies inside the zone.

Some of this is natural, but a pretty good amount of it is because of Russian influence.  One of the good things to come of the Ukraine crisis is more attention being focused on how extensive and insidious Russia's organized undermining of democratic society has been.  It's been an open secret for many years that Russia has been funding extremist right and left politics, media, advocacy organizations, etc. with the explicit purpose of causing distrust, dismay, and conflict within the West.  For Russia the war against the West by "other means" did not end with the fall of the Soviet Union.  Only in recent months and years has the general population started to be made aware of this fact.  Better still, politicians are starting to finally take the threats seriously and are taking counter measures.  Still not enough and very late in the game, but better late than never.

Don't misunderstand me.  Putin is not causing the problems in the West because they would exist no matter what.  What he is doing is making them worse and the solutions more difficult to obtain.

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All this and the islamophobia caused by the turmoil from middle east, has led to a worrying rise of right wing old fashioned nationalism. Which is partly a reason why so many westerners are quick to look up to Putin as a "great leader" nowadays.

The temptation to believe in political shortcuts advocated by autocratic leaders is a Human condition.  Putin has simply done a much better job catering to that slice of Humanity.  It's cost him billions of US Dollars in decades of activities to create this image of himself, but it certainly has paid off in some respects.  Putin is a household name and right leaning individuals view him favorably even if they say they don't like him.  Even someone such as yourself, who does not strike me as right leaning, seems to buy into the concept that autocracy can be a solution to complex problems (i.e. your view on Assad).  In reality, autocracies can (at best) buy time before the next big crisis.  Nothing more.

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On Syria, frankly its hard to tell what will follow after all this carnage. Assad wont be that popular among bombed people, even if he wins he might have to step down and put a fresh face (of his trust obviously) up front as a sign of good will, to ease tensions with opposition and the West. I guess a lot here (and Ukraine) will depend on the direction of the new US president as well. Clinton looks to have a more aggressive agenda but little support from what seems like, at best, divided public in the states.    

 

Yes, the future is always uncertain.  But I can make two general predictions:

1.  Syria will not be anything even close to stable until it breaks apart.  Which it will do, eventually.

2.  Russia will keep the war in Donbas going until it is physically incapable of doing so (which is a long ways off) or Ukraine collapses (which doesn't seem likely).

Of course there are many "wildcard" possibilities.  For example, it is entirely possible that Putin will do something at the wrong time in the wrong way to the wrong people which will cause a coup.  Ukraine would likely move on Donbas as soon as it sensed the Putin regime was sufficiently distracted.  Certainly Putin is setting himself up for such a scenario, though there is no indications that one will come about any time soon.  Which is the "fun" part of historical understanding.  Example:

I knew that Russia would move on Crimea and eastern/southern Ukraine with military and unconventional forces the second it calculated that Ukraine was decidedly against Russia's proxy control of itself.  Not a second later.  I predicted how the invasion would look in fairly fine detail because Russia has a long track record of repeating itself.  So I (and certainly others) were completely and totally prepared for February 2014 long before it happened because we understood the overall situation pretty well.  What none of us could predict is exactly when this would happen.  Even the Maidan was uncertain to trigger a Russian invasion because it could have been placated and/or bought off, as had previous revolutions.  Yes, we suspected Maidan was different... but we could not possible know for sure it was.

The point here is that while I, and others, can make fairly accurate predictions about events in a particular place of the world we are knowledgeable about, there's no way we can predict when.  And of course knowledge is specialized.  I couldn't tell you anything about what might happen in Venezuela or Thailand because, unlike Russia and the Middle East, that's not an area I've invested tens of thousands of hours over nearly 30 years studying and understanding.  Asking me about those areas would be like asking an experienced tech stock trader to predict futures prices for pork belly futures (other than people will continue to "dig on swine" ;) ).

Steve

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4 hours ago, Battlefront.com said:

If it sits back and lets things go down the tubes in Russia

The problem is that back in 1993 the West was not 'sitting back' - though that honour could go to China. :D

From The Guardian ( https://www.theguardian.com/world/1993/oct/05/russia.davidhearst ):

" Western leaders, warned in advance of the assault, promptly declared support, but urged a speedy return to constitutionality amid fears that the Russian leader could become a political hostage to the armed forces.

"It is clear that the opposition forces started the conflict, and President Yeltsin had no other alternative but to try to restore order,' the US president, Bill Clinton, said.

"The US supported Yeltsin because he is Russia's democratically-elected leader," he said. "I have no reason to doubt the personal commitment that President Yeltsin made to let the Russian people decide their own future in elections.'

...

China was the only major power not to back Mr Yeltsin. "We are deeply concerned about the recent bloodshed in Moscow," the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.

"As a friendly neighbour, we hope to see an end to the conflict and a proper solution to the current situation in the interest of the stability, unity and economic recovery.'" "

These formative years of post-Soviet Russia were a window of opportunity, and IMHO the West blew it. I don't think it's constructive to point fingers and argue who in the West was responsible - Western academia and intellectuals didn't see the fall of the Soviet Union coming and were playing catch-up. But there's the need for self-criticism before going for Russian 'hearts and minds.'

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On 27/10/2016 at 6:00 PM, Battlefront.com said:

Not that simple.  The oligarchs were already deeply entrenched in Russia's economy and political system long before the Soviet Union collapsed.  They never intended to let themselves lose their economic power and were always prepared to use force to keep it.  Not to mention expand it.  Putin, and other members of the security apparatus, very willingly played a key role as advisors, enforces, and active participants in taking what was ostensibly "state" assets/authority and handing them over to the oligarchs (or becoming oligarchs themselves, as is the case with Putin and many of his ex KGB buddies).  Anybody that posed a challenge or a threat to this transfer of wealth and power was removed, one way or another.  The new Russia never had a chance to be democratic.  Not even a little bit.  The West's actions or inactions had very little influence on the course of events and eventual outcomes.

Of course Putin is not outside the oligarchy club. Probably he wouldnt be president for so long if he didnt have close ties with them. As individuals I'm not sure that oligarchs were part of the soviet system for a long time. If you have a quick look at their bios, most of them were rather young guys it the 30s back in 1991, that indeed created their fortunes from small business that took advantage of Yeltsin's privatization reforms and grabbed big chunks of Russia's vast resources. Those folks became bilionaires in a night. Abramovich started as a worker/mechanic and his first business was selling imported rubber ducks(!) under Gorbachev's perestroika, before accquiring big oil companies through the questionable loans for share program after the collapse. Some of them were part of the political system starting from the Gorbachev's years but that era was already marked by social and economic decline. They were practically oportunistic rats that were abandoning the sinking ship looting as much gold as they could.

I dont believe Putin's ambition was to rise in wealth from the ruins of the soviet union though. He shares some similarities with Adolf Hilter(not in much else to avoid misunderstading here) probably in that regard, keeping the elite happy to propel his power and russia's dominance and influence. To what extend he is the one pulling or being pulled by the strings I can't tell.

 

On 27/10/2016 at 6:00 PM, Battlefront.com said:

Some of this is natural, but a pretty good amount of it is because of Russian influence.  One of the good things to come of the Ukraine crisis is more attention being focused on how extensive and insidious Russia's organized undermining of democratic society has been.  It's been an open secret for many years that Russia has been funding extremist right and left politics, media, advocacy organizations, etc. with the explicit purpose of causing distrust, dismay, and conflict within the West.  For Russia the war against the West by "other means" did not end with the fall of the Soviet Union.  Only in recent months and years has the general population started to be made aware of this fact.  Better still, politicians are starting to finally take the threats seriously and are taking counter measures.  Still not enough and very late in the game, but better late than never.

Don't misunderstand me.  Putin is not causing the problems in the West because they would exist no matter what.  What he is doing is making them worse and the solutions more difficult to obtain.

Thats true. I can name a few sites here in Greece that are suspiciously pro-russian. To the point they have linked a bishop's prophecies of Instanbul returning ro Greece with russian intervention in a WW3 scenario and a lot people believing it:D. (People here are naturally sympathetic towards Russia due to cultural and religious links). But I can also name media that are paid by western sources and more importantly politicians and ministers that were bribed by western corporate giants( Siemens for instance) to secure lucrative state contracts. The problems indeed are not caused by Russia-I think we are the ones undermining our democracies- but for the first time Russia is exploiting the weaknessess of our system in those ways. 

 

On 27/10/2016 at 6:00 PM, Battlefront.com said:

Even someone such as yourself, who does not strike me as right leaning, seems to buy into the concept that autocracy can be a solution to complex problems (i.e. your view on Assad).  In reality, autocracies can (at best) buy time before the next big crisis.  Nothing more.

Honestly, I hadnt heard much about Assad's rule before the war. Saddam for instance was a well known savage that among others had gassed Kurds and started more than one regional conflicts.  Assad was an opthalmiatrist in London that took over his country because his brother and future president died. He was mostly known for respecting the numerous different religious groups and keeping radical nuts at bay. Probably his violent reaction to the uprising had more to do with his panic and fear of ending up like Ghaddafi. Not a democrat (does this word has any meaning below the mediterranean sea?)  but I cant understand either why some view as a democratic alternative, islamists like Al Nusra and foreing fighters that wage what definetely seems like a religious war and not a war for freedom. Not to mention ISIS which must be the most horrible creation to ever walk this earth since the nazis. No, I'm not right wing and I wouldnt trade my freedoms for a dictatorship rule but if I was unfortunate enough to live in Syria and I had to chose between ISIS, hardcore islamists, moderate islamists and a secular rule I would pick the latter. No, I dont think people in 2016 need more of this backwards medieval crap and I have no idea why media in the west painted all this in such romantic colors. Religious zealots of any kind just keep people in the dark ages and are very much responsible for turning once brilliant civilizations into depressive ruins. I'm very, very sorry for Syria. Apart from the horrific death toll, most of the country was an Unesco protected site. And to see all those rare monuments of human history being sadistically blown to pieces by Jihadists is one of the biggest cultural disasters of our era. Even the nazis had some respect for historical heritage. Those guys, are undeniably the lowest point humanity can reach.     

      

Edited by panzermartin

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59 minutes ago, panzermartin said:

Religious zealots of any kind just keep people in the dark ages and are very much responsible for turning once brilliant civilizations into depressive ruins. I'm very, very sorry for Syria. Apart from the horrific death toll, most of the country was an Unesco protected site. And to see all those rare monuments of human history being sadistically blown to pieces by Jihadists is one of the biggest cultural disasters of our era. Even the nazis had some respect for historical heritage. Those guys, are undeniably the lowest point humanity can reach.     

Not most westerners can support Assad because 98% of their media and politicians are down for groups like Jaish-Al-Fateh, and the following 2000000 other groups with links to Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations taking control because it offers the US influence and control over the area. Evil Assad's barrel bombs will always hit hospitals, RuAF will always hit bakeries and orphanages but the rebel artillery pieces, mortar pieces, never kill anyone in Syria. Furthermore, just before the siege of East Aleppo the 1.5 million sieged in West Aleppo by rebels were a figment of our imagination.

It is very obvious that what happened in Syria is exactly the same tried in Libya, with some major/minor differences. Jihadists even when moderate have been documented on being nuts and radical. But since those groups pose no threats to the US, they are free game to use in Syria. But let's keep bashing and sanctioning Russia for stuff that looks pretty compared to what Western government's have been doing in the middle east, especially Syria. Sorry for the whataboutism again btw, we have to ignore those and focus on Russian aggression. 

PS: when I mean 20000 it's obviously an exaggeration by alot, but there are dozens of groups tied to Al-Qaeda and Nusra which evidence shows have received indirect and direct support from US proxies, allies, or directly.

Edited by VladimirTarasov

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"Honestly, I hadnt heard much about Assad's rule before the war. Saddam for instance was a well known savage that among others had gassed Kurds and started more than one regional conflicts.  Assad was an opthalmiatrist in London that took over his country because his brother and future president died. He was mostly known for respecting the numerous different religious groups and keeping radical nuts at bay. Probably his violent reaction to the uprising had more to do with his panic and fear of ending up like Ghaddafi. Not a democrat (does this word has any meaning below the mediterranean sea?)  but I cant understand either why some view as a democratic alternative, islamists like Al Nusra and foreing fighters that wage what definetely seems like a religious war and not a war for freedom. Not to mention ISIS which must be the most horrible creation to ever walk this earth since the nazis. No, I'm not right wing and I wouldnt trade my freedoms for a dictatorship rule but if I was unfortunate enough to live in Syria and I had to chose between ISIS, hardcore islamists, moderate islamists and a secular rule I would pick the latter. No, I dont think people in 2016 need more of this backwards medieval crap and I have no idea why media in the west painted all this in such romantic colors. Religious zealots of any kind just keep people in the dark ages and are very much responsible for turning once brilliant civilizations into depressive ruins. I'm very, very sorry for Syria. Apart from the horrific death toll, most of the country was an Unesco protected site. And to see all those rare monuments of human history being sadistically blown to pieces by Jihadists is one of the biggest cultural disasters of our era. Even the nazis had some respect for historical heritage. Those guys, are undeniably the lowest point humanity can reach."

      

 

Well said! 

To all the pro Syrian insurrection people, what kind of bad stuff did Assad do before the rebellion started that makes y'all think he needed to be deposed? 

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6 minutes ago, cool breeze said:

To all the pro Syrian insurrection people, what kind of bad stuff did Assad do before the rebellion started that makes y'all think he needed to be deposed? 

I'm no expert in the situation, but Assad's Wikipedia page may be informative.  I can honestly see the Russian view of the 'devil you know,' and it makes a lot of sense.  Especially so due to Tartus' port.

I do question in these power structures whether Assad (or Putin, for that matter) are really calling all of the shots.  There's so much power in the ministers and pre-extant government that it makes you wonder.  It's like the USSR after Stalin.  The General Secretary had power only inasmuch as the Supreme Soviet allowed him.

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14 minutes ago, cool breeze said:

To all the pro Syrian insurrection people, what kind of bad stuff did Assad do before the rebellion started that makes y'all think he needed to be deposed? 

Personally having a met a few Syrians of which some have said, Assad isn't good but he's better than whatever the opposition has to offer, which I've come to agree with. Assad has done bad things in Syria, however yet not one evidence has been showed that he has deliberately targeting a specific religious group (Western rhetoric being Sunnis) because 80 plus % of his armed forces and majority of the population under government control is Sunni. Let's put it into perspective, ALL of the rebel groups are supported by foreign countries which have a history of supporting terrorist groups for many causes. (Afghanistan anyone?) Turks control some, US and allies control alot. I understand some Westerners LOVE taking down a legitimate government and installing another one without the say of a large chunk of a population, however it is really getting too far now. 

Seriously, Russia is thrown down the drain for supporting rebels which have mostly played a regional role, the farthest their offensives going is in their region, however it is okay to support groups with direct and indirect ties to Al-Qaeda and Nusra, and also other regional terrorist groups that wish to topple the government and install a even more terrible regime, which by far will be worse than anything the Assads have done. 

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6 minutes ago, panzermartin said:

Honestly, I hadnt heard much about Assad's rule before the war. Saddam for instance was a well known savage that among others had gassed Kurds and started more than one regional conflicts.  Assad was an opthalmiatrist in London that took over his country because his brother and future president died.

Yeah, lots of people were hoping that the London ophthalmologist would have a fresh take on rule. But no, sadly, that did not happen. It could partly be because even though one man runs the show there is a pretty big bureaucratic apparatus doing the heavy lifting and just changing the top is not enough.  Or it could be that he was just as bad as his father.  I think it is both.  Syria has for decades run a very brutal regime that cracked down on decent at any turn.  I would compare the Syrian secret police to the Stazi because they used similar techniques for spying on citizens and coercing people to inform on their friends family and neighbours. People who were suspected of various things disappeared in to a prison system that used torture to extract confessions to whatever the agency needed the "truth" to be etc.

 

6 minutes ago, panzermartin said:

He was mostly known for respecting the numerous different religious groups and keeping radical nuts at bay. Probably his violent reaction to the uprising had more to do with his panic and fear of ending up like Ghaddafi.

Yeah, respect might not be the right word.  While it is true that authoritarian regimes tend to crack down on radical nuts, they treat anyone who steps even a little out of line the same way.  Citizens under that kind of regime cannot even speak out against poorly run government programs, corruption, or even things as simple as work place safety violations because state apparatus views that as a threat to the state.  So, just because religious conflicts between citizens was curtailed did not really mean he had any respect for those groups. His reaction to the protests was totally inline with the way he ran his government and many people say he turned out to be even more ruthless than his father. 

 

6 minutes ago, panzermartin said:

Not a democrat (does this word has any meaning below the mediterranean sea?)  but I cant understand either why some view as a democratic alternative, islamists like Al Nusra and foreing fighters that wage what definetely seems like a religious war and not a war for freedom.      

Yeah but it started out as citizens rising up and refusing to be shut up.  It started with peaceful protests.  Once things went hot the original Free Syrian army was made up of armed citizens and deserters from the Assad regime army (note there are actually a variety of militias in the mix in Syria too, many prominent regime figures and family members have their own private armed force too).  Given the way things are in that area of the world the foreign fighters did not take long to arrive but those groups you mentioned were not there at the beginning.  Then of course Assad stoked this and tried to make it the centre of his "fight".  When Assad or the Russians talk about terrorists in Syria they don't exclusively mean the foreign fighters they include the citizens that rose up against Assad too.  That's why when we see them bombing civilians they say, with a straight face, they are bombing terrorists.  Assad views anyone who opposes his government as a terrorist.

 

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According to wiki, one of his crimes before the uprising was banning the face veil in universities. Why dont we depose Francois Hollande as well, France has been arresting people with burkinins on Nice's beaches:rolleyes:

And now that Vlad mentioned Turkey. Turkey, a NATO member since 1953, has been mostly an athortitarian state, opressing human rights, imprisioning journalists,political opponents and leftists, invaded and occupied North Cyprus for half a century and regularly bombs cities to ruins hunting the PKK, while occasionaly invading Iraq and Syria at will. Not to mention the support and oil trade with ISIS at some point. Instead of warnings and sanctions they get a new F-35 superdeal. How is that not double standards?

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IanL, good points.

I dont want to sound like someone defending a regime that made people miserable. All I said, is that he indeed seemed to be the lesser of evils given the dynamics of the region. And it was probablly not worth erasing a country from the map just to get rid of him. I dont doubt that among the opposition were just normal people wishing for a change. Those though by nature wouldnt last long against the radicals and they actually didnt. Like they didnt in Iraq or Libya. We must remember this is not Europe, Ukraine or something even remotely close to that. The violence, extremism, religious fanaticsm and pure psychopathy this conflict has brought to surface is something never seen before in modern history. This was never a place for peaceful protestors from the start. 

    

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56 minutes ago, panzermartin said:

Why dont we depose Francois Hollande as well, France has been arresting people with burkinins on Nice's beaches:rolleyes:

I'd beware of showing a cavalier attitude towards Assad's human rights record because of this: https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/12/16/if-dead-could-speak/mass-deaths-and-torture-syrias-detention-facilities

59 minutes ago, panzermartin said:

invaded and occupied North Cyprus

If Greek Cypriots had not violated the Cypriot Constitution of 1960 and Greece had not staged a coup on the island in 1974, there would have been no Turkish invasion.

1 hour ago, panzermartin said:

for half a century

If Greek Cypriots had not rejected the Annan plan referendum in 2004, there wouldn't have been a single Turkish soldier on the island since 2005.

1 hour ago, panzermartin said:

Instead of warnings and sanctions

 

3 minutes ago, cool breeze said:

Well said again

Dunno, you guys read the news? There were LEO2s parked on the Bosphorus bridge this summer and F-16s hunting for Erdogan's plane, and now Erdogan and Putin are best friends again and Clinton has pledged to arm the Kurds. There's obviously much going on that's not being made public.

1 hour ago, panzermartin said:

they get a new F-35 superdeal

Not sure how it's a 'superdeal' but Turkey joined the F-35 development program before Erdogan's rise to power. I can't even begin to guess what sort of future awaits it in geopolitics.

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I just meant that I don't really understand where this idea that the US and the west have turned a new leaf and stopped supporting authoritarians when convenient, and are now just really trying to help people, and it's some how a hardcore conspiracy theory that the CIA would still be setting up Coups and rebellions for the sake of multinationals and their interests.

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wow the rewrite of history here is pretty fascinating.  Let's take a moment to actually go back to reality.  The current situation is a direct result of the Assad regime's response to non violent protests in 2011.  Below is a nice little timeline for Syria from wiki.  Pretty straightforward and objective.  What becomes clear is the civil war is a direct result of Assad's refusal to actually negotiate for a more open political system - a state of emergency in place for 48 years?  WTF and you guys think that is okay?  People should be happy, that there isn't some reason a state needs a state of emergency for almost 5 decades?

Nice try on blaming the US, but it is Russia's use of veto power that has kept the UN unable to do anything to try and help this situation.  So I guess you think that it is okay for a state to murder it's citizens for trying to get better political representation and it is their fault for asking for reform that caused the whole mess.  Nice level of newspeak apologizing.

You guys can wriggle all you want, the US is in no way responsible for this debacle.  Assad has responded to his own people with violence when they peacefully asked for reform and Russia has insured that no meaningful role would be played by the UN.  Yeah it's all our fault.

 

Mass protests in Syria began on 26 January 2011. Protesters called for political reforms and the re-instatement of civil rights, as well as an end to the state of emergency which had been in place since 1963.[60] One attempt at a "day of rage" was set for 4–5 February, though it ended uneventfully.[61] Protests on 18–19 March were the largest to take place in Syria for decades and the Syrian authority responded with violence against its protesting citizens.[62]

First, limited, sanctions against the Assad government were imposed by the U.S. in April 2011, followed by Barack Obama's executive order as of 18 May 2011 targeting Bashar Assad specifically and six other senior officials.[63][64][65] On 23 May 2011, the EU foreign ministers agreed at a meeting in Brussels to add Assad and nine other officials to a list affected by travel bans and asset freezes.[66] On 24 May 2011, Canada imposed sanctions on Syrian leaders, including Assad.[67]

On 20 June, in a speech lasting nearly an hour, in response to the demands of protesters and foreign pressure, Assad promised a national dialogue involving movement toward reform, new parliamentary elections, and greater freedoms. He also urged refugees to return home from Turkey, while assuring them amnesty and blaming all unrest on a small number of saboteurs.[68] Assad blamed the unrest on "conspiracies" and accused the Syrian opposition and protestors of "fitna", breaking with the Syrian Ba'ath Party's strict tradition of secularism.[69]

In July 2011, U.S. foreign minister Hillary Clinton said president Assad had “lost legitimacy.”[64] On 18 August 2011, Barack Obama issued a written statement echoed by the leaders of the UK, France, and Germany, that urged President Assad to "step aside".[70][71]

In August, Syrian security forces attacked the country's best-known political cartoonist, Ali Farzat, a noted critic of Assad's regime and its five-month crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators and dissent. Relatives of the severely beaten humorist told Western media that the attackers threatened to break Farzat's bones as a warning for him to stop drawing cartoons of government officials, particularly Assad. Farzat was hospitalized with fractures in both hands and blunt force trauma to the head.[72][73]

Since October 2011, Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, repeatedly vetoed Western-sponsored draft resolutions in the UN Security Council that would have left open the possibility of UN sanctions, or even military intervention, against the Bashar Assad government.[74][75][76]

By the end of January 2012, it was reported that over 5,000 civilians and protesters (including armed militants) had been killed by the Syrian army, militia (Shabiha) and security agents, while 1,100 people had been killed by the anti-regime forces.[77]

On 10 January 2012, Assad gave a speech in which he maintained the uprising was engineered by foreign countries and proclaimed that "victory [was] near". He also said that the Arab League, by suspending Syria, revealed that it was no longer Arab. However, Assad also said the country would not "close doors" to an Arab-brokered solution if "national sovereignty" was respected. He also said a referendum on a new constitution could be held in March.[78]

On 27 February 2012, Syria claimed that a proposal that a new constitution be drafted received 90% support during the relevant referendum. The referendum introduced a fourteen-year cumulative term limit for the president of Syria. The referendum was pronounced meaningless by foreign nations including the U.S. and Turkey; the European Union announced fresh sanctions against key regime figures.[79] In July 2012, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov denounced Western powers for what he said amounted to blackmail thus provoking a civil war in Syria.[80]

On 15 July 2012, the International Committee of the Red Cross declared Syria to be in a state of civil war,[81] as the nationwide death toll for all sides was reported to have neared 20,000.[82]

On 6 January 2013, Assad, in his first major speech since June, said that the conflict in his country was due to "enemies" outside of Syria who would "go to Hell" and that they would "be taught a lesson". However he said that he was still open to a political solution saying that failed attempts at a solution "does not mean we are not interested in a political solution."[83][84]

Edited by sburke

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1 hour ago, panzermartin said:

I dont want to sound like someone defending a regime that made people miserable. All I said, is that he indeed seemed to be the lesser of evils given the dynamics of the region.

I hear ya. So many of the choices are bad. The thing is just trying to put things back the way they were may not even be possible and if it is it is just setting up another generation or two to live under a terrible regime only to probably end up in the same civil war later.  Not that many other possible solutions are better.  Except maybe...

 

1 hour ago, panzermartin said:

And it was probablly not worth erasing a country from the map just to get rid of him. 

Actually that might be a good start.  Except not to get rid of him but to make things better for the people of the region.  Of course that will not be popular because really it is more than just Syria's borders that should be erased.  And that of course will not be popular with several powerful players in the region.

 

1 hour ago, panzermartin said:

I dont doubt that among the opposition were just normal people wishing for a change. Those though by nature wouldnt last long against the radicals and they actually didnt. Like they didnt in Iraq or Libya.

That is / was a big concern.

The bottom line is this is really complex. The one thing I know is that bombing civilians is definitely not making things better for Syrias or their neighbours. Trying to control all the actors involved is basically not possible but we could at last stop killing non combatants indiscriminately and allow humanitarian groups to work.  I don't pretend to have a solution for the rest. The only other thing I know is that outsiders dictating terms is probably not the best choice (by outsiders I mean, Europe, US, Russian, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the gulf states, Turkey etc) but that seems unlikely so I'll go with stop bombing civilians as a starting point.

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6 minutes ago, Machor said:

I'd beware of showing a cavalier attitude towards Assad's human rights record because of this: https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/12/16/if-dead-could-speak/mass-deaths-and-torture-syrias-detention-facilities

Horrible. But this is since the brother-killing war had started right? Do we have similar pre war evidence?   

22 minutes ago, Machor said:

If Greek Cypriots had not violated the Cypriot Constitution of 1960 and Greece had not staged a coup on the island in 1974, there would have been no Turkish invasion.

Well, Greece had a western-backed dictatorship back then remember? When the sport was equally enjoyed by both cold war rivals. Those generals were total fools(or tools). So, no, that was a long scheduled invasion. And thats roughly admitting that Russia had the right to invade Ukraine to protect the russian population and counter the coup in Kiev.

31 minutes ago, Machor said:

If Greek Cypriots had not rejected the Annan plan referendum in 2004, there wouldn't have been a single Turkish soldier on the island since 2005

 Hmm dont recall that we ever got so close to such a good outcome? There was a reason why tiny Cyprus rejected the Annan plan. The sad thruth is that given the attitute of todays's Turkey Cyprus will never be resolved. Erdogan has gone so far to even question the Lausanne treaty lately.

40 minutes ago, Machor said:

Dunno, you guys read the news? There were LEO2s parked on the Bosphorus bridge this summer and F-16s hunting for Erdogan's plane, and now Erdogan and Putin are best friends again and Clinton has pledged to arm the Kurds. There's obviously much going on that's not being made public.

A lot say that Erdogan let that happen to clear up his potential enemies in the army once and for all. Noone in NATO questioned Turkey's membership and  they are lovebombing them since, especially when he made that turn towards Russia. I think that "friendship" is temporarily though and a bombast to blackmail the West. I think they love to play such games.

 

55 minutes ago, Machor said:

Not sure how it's a 'superdeal' but Turkey joined the F-35 development program before Erdogan's rise to power. I can't even begin to guess what sort of future awaits it in geopolitics.

It was for 100 planes. I think Turkey is deeply involved in this and it will be hard to cancel such deal. 

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52 minutes ago, cool breeze said:

Nobody said it was all our fault

Not only is it not all our fault, none of it is our fault.  Assad created the conditions and Russia backed him. THAT is why Russia is getting dinged on this.  This is not some regime change begun by the US as Vlad has insinuated nor has the US jumped on some bandwagon of supporting Jihadists everywhere with some kind of blinders on. The Jihadists are filling a political vacuum that is created when despotic regimes greet peaceful political protests with gunfire.  Those forces that would have presented some sort of opposition get overwhelmed as they don't get any support from the west (at least partly because of Russia's vote in the security council) while the Saudis and other regimes have no compulsions at all about who they finance. Blame Assad, blame Russia and Iran or blame Saudi Arabia, but leave the US out of it. 

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1 hour ago, sburke said:

  What becomes clear is the civil war is a direct result of Assad's refusal to actually negotiate for a more open political system - a state of emergency in place for 48 years?  WTF and you guys think that is okay?  People should be happy, that there isn't some reason a state needs a state of emergency for almost 5 decades?

Nice try on blaming the US, but it is Russia's use of veto power that has kept the UN unable to do anything to try and help this situation.  So I guess you think that it is okay for a state to murder it's citizens for trying to get better political representation and it is their fault for asking for reform that caused the whole mess.  Nice level of newspeak apologizing.

You guys can wriggle all you want, the US is in no way responsible for this debacle.  Assad has responded to his own people with violence when they peacefully asked for reform and Russia has insured that no meaningful role would be played by the UN.  Yeah it's all our fault.

 

Nobody said that we are ok with the regime, or that is all US fault thats not true. Our main line is that the previous interventions in Iraq and Libya and the bad outcome records didnt justify another military operation to force Assad out.  

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14 minutes ago, sburke said:

 The Jihadists are filling a political vacuum that is created when despotic regimes greet peaceful political protests with gunfire. 

So, why ISIS was primarily born in post Saddam Iraq, where there was no despotic regime around anymore?

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My apologies for the OT stuff - I hope forum members find it of interest. :)

51 minutes ago, panzermartin said:

Do we have similar pre war evidence?

I know of this article. There are people who are much more knowledgeable about the subject on the forum:

"Inside Tadmur: The worst prison in the world?"

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33197612

55 minutes ago, panzermartin said:

that was a long scheduled invasion

Are you suggesting that the US was behind the invasion? I've heard this before, and frankly it comes across as a conspiracy theory without further evidence.

57 minutes ago, panzermartin said:

And thats roughly admitting that Russia had the right to invade Ukraine to protect the russian population and counter the coup in Kiev.

A better analogy would be Ukraine invading Crimea to counter its annexation to Russia. In the case of Russia, it had the option to wait and try other strategies. In the case of Turkey, if it had waited, Cyprus would have simply become a part of Greece. Please note that I'm cognizant of the suffering brought on by the Turkish invasion and opposed to many of its details.

1 hour ago, panzermartin said:

There was a reason why tiny Cyprus rejected the Annan plan.

In a nutshell, the Greek leadership was outright stupid and instead of taking what was on the table, they thought that they could get a better deal by putting pressure on Turkey's application to EU membership. They never realized the extent to which Turkey's membership was categorically impossible for other EU members.

1 hour ago, panzermartin said:

The sad thruth is that given the attitute of todays's Turkey Cyprus will never be resolved.

Ironically, there's a very real chance because Turkish Cypriots are overwhelmingly secular, and worried about the direction of mainland Turkey.

1 hour ago, panzermartin said:

Erdogan has gone so far to even question the Lausanne treaty lately.

Yes, and this was just days ago. Which is again, why, I can't predict anything for certain with regards to Turkey's place in NATO and the F-35 deliveries.

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3 hours ago, sburke said:

Nice try on blaming the US, but it is Russia's use of veto power that has kept the UN unable to do anything to try and help this situation.  So I guess you think that it is okay for a state to murder it's citizens for trying to get better political representation and it is their fault for asking for reform that caused the whole mess.  Nice level of newspeak apologizing.

No no no no, Jesus Christ, this is double standard, so the US can stick its nose together with its allies into Syria because people are uprising, support terrorist groups, just because Assad is at blame, and it's still perfectly fine? So then Russia shouldn't get blamed for supporting Donbas uprising and arming groups there since there was already a uprising of some sort. Bottom line is, Assad has millions living under his control and they aren't uprising against him and majority are Sunni which throws away the claims of deliberate targeting of Sunni Muslims. Russia is actually legally correct here, it has come to the aid of a government, and I am glad our bombs are blasting terrorist groups in Syria to hell. Also you leave out other things in your argument:

1. Many LEGITIMATE rebels have already reconciled with the government in a non-violent way, and they are given local authority and they are happy with it. 

2. Many of these "rebels" have switched over to ISIS, and especially members from FSA which the US/Turkey/Saudis support as a proxy. 

3. The state is not PURPOSELY murdering civilians in a systematic way, let's put it this way. Their air fleet is old, their equipment is old, and those rebel groups of whom which you support KILL any civilains that flee towards the government side. It happened in Eastern Aleppo, Russia stopped bombing East Aleppo for 10 days now, and guess what happens to any innocents that flee to the government side during this pause? THEY GET KILLED. I'm more than sure there have been individual cases where government troops have committed a crime, but who's to say the US hasn't either or Russia hasn't? You can't just support head choppers that kill kids for supporting Assad, because Assad is a bad guy. That's sick and despicable. 

 

Edited by VladimirTarasov

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