Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Russia and the Arab and Islamic world - let us set the record straight, ok? (-: Saker venting warning :-)

 For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

H. L. Mencken

Yesterday, Masoud posted a comment which I think deserves a separate post as an answer.  Here is the comment in full:
The answer to the mystery of why the resolution seems so lopsided is simple: Russia is simply doing what it always does. I don't believe Russia is interested in the primacy of international law as such, but rather in slowly reestablishing their place as one of the 'leaders' of the world, with an eventual goal of regaining an equal footing with the US, and maybe one day of even supplanting it.  Russia isn't playing the white knight over here. They are providing a service, and expect to be compensated appropriately for it in the future. If their client is not a position to pay up right away, they will seek mechanisms to ensure they eventually will have to. That's why Russia wants to have the threat of Chapter 7 hanging over Syria: to ensure it's future cooperation on all matters of arms deals, pipeline negotiations, basing rights etc..
 First,  began to reply in another comment, but then I decided that this is important enough to warrant a reply as a separate post.  I want everybody else to really think hard about what I am about to say, regardless of whether this will be pleasant to the ear or not.  So here is what I have to say to that:

Masoud: Russia is simply doing what it always does.

With all due respect, the main problem with your statement is that it is backed up by no facts, no logical demonstrations, only, as you yourself say beliefs ("I don't believe Russia is interested in the primacy of international law as such, but rather...").  It can be used to dismiss Russia or paint it black, and it can be used to express frustration with Russia in general, or that latest agreement.  What it cannot be used for is trying to understand what is actually happening.

Now, let's first look at the implications and consequences of your statement.

When you write that Russia is simply doing what it always does you assume that, indeed, Russia has had a consistent behavior.  Under Putin, Medvedev, Eltsin, Gorbachev, and maybe even the Tsars?  While I would agree that under Putin Russia has had a consistent behavior any extension of this assumption further back in time can easily be proven wrong.

When you say Russia is simply doing what it always does you are also implying that a change in Russian policies is most unlikely.  While this is possible (regardless of the unwarranted assumption this is based on), it also implies that Russian policies cannot change.  A dangerous implication, and one based on a false premise.

The first thing which comes to my mind when reading your words is this: since Russia has ALREADY done more than the entire Arab and Islamic world taken together, then it is simply wonderful that it would continue doing so.  After all, somebody needs to do something other than, say, bitching about Russia not doing enough.

And since Russia has ALREADY done more than the entire Arab and Islamic world taken together maybe somebody in the Arab and Islamic word will actually express a deep sense of gratitude for that, as well as a deep sense of shame that it takes Slavic Kufars to stand up and defend Syria while the Arab Faithful either do nothing or proactively help the Anglo-Zionists destroy Syria?

Of course, there is one big, but truly honorable and courageous exception to my criticism of the "Islamic" world: Iran.  While the press is constantly focusing on Russia, Iran is also helping Syria in crucial, if mostly covert, ways.  And as a non-state actor there is, of course, the truly shining and noble example of Hezbollah which is simply beyond reproach.

Speaking of Iran and Hezbollah.  I find that kind of anti-Russian prejudice every bit as misguided and unfair as another one which literally poisons the Arab world: the hostility and outright racist phobia of some Arabs against the "Persians" which some Arabs seem to consider as foreign intruders into "their" Middle-East.  Some particularly bigoted Arabs even transpose their hatred for the "Persians" towards Hezbollah and Hassan Nasrallah and that is, of course, just about the most stupid and unfair thing one can do.  So how about dropping these simplistic categories and assumptions, and judge all these actors not by what they say, but what they actually do?

This being said, let me return to my argument here:

And I can't help but wonder - where were the Arab and Islamic friends of Russia when Russia was fighting for its very survival as a nation?  Where were the Arab and Islamic friends of Russia when the Ango-Zionists were robbing it at the tune of billions of dollars per year while Russians were dying in the millions to the total collapse of the state?

Oh yeah - there were in Chechnya.  Helping the Wahabi head-cutters.  The very same Wahabi head-cutters which are now tearing Syria apart.

Chechnia 1995

Syria 2013

So I hope that you will forgive me, Masoud, if I have no patience for the kind of ascribing of venal motives to Russia your comment expresses.  While I cannot prove a negative, I just find your comment offensive.  No, not because I believe that the entire planet has to now drown in tearful gratitude and hysterical admiration for Russia, not at all.  But simply because there is a point were basic logic and moral probity demands that any one country (in this case Russia) be judged by the same set of moral standards as all the other countries.

Let's also be clear here: Russia has enough petrol and gas not to give a damn about any pipeline going to Europe via Syria.  Europe, in case you did not notice, is stuck in a recession, and that ain't gonna change for the foreseeable future.  Sure, Russia will gladly make a buck selling energy to Europe, but its real partner is China, with its immense market and commensurately immense need for energy resources.  And what about Tartus?  Well, its a nice little port.  But it cannot accept large ships, but that can be solved by off-shore docking.  But that's about it.

So I am sorry if I break anybody's illusions of self-importance here, but for Russia Syria is a "nice to have" at best.  Not something worth taking too big risks for.  Now a real, meaningful and functioning system of International Law is a real "must have" for Russia.  It is far, far more important than Syria. I am absolutely baffled that somebody could fail to understand that.  By the way, everything I have said in this paragraph also applies for China.

Anyway, here is what I want to submit to you: there is something fundamentally wrong, both logically and morally, to this constant stream of demands saying that Russia did not do enough or Russia must do more.  Russia does not owe anybody in the Middle-East anything at all.  Especially in the light of the, shall we say, less than noble of friendly attitude of the very same Middle-East towards Russia when Russia was in dire need of support.  Furthermore, how is it possible that Arabs and Muslims don't feel that there is a lot of bad Karma coming back towards them now, like Malcolm X's "chicken coming back home to roost"?

Did you ever consider that from a Russian point of view, the following would be a most reasonable question to ask of the Arab and Islamic world: When is the last time you stood by us?  When is the last time you showed us that you can be real friends?  Or allies?  Or partners?  When is the last time one of your people actually took a risk to help or save one of us?!

And, finally, and most importantly this: if this is really how you see us, and if you are so unhappy and/or suspicious of us, would you prefer us to stop assisting Syria, stop arming it, withdraw our naval task force off from the eastern Mediterranean and abstain at the next vote UNSC?  Would you prefer to deal with the current crisis only within the confines of your Ummah without us, Kufars, interfering with the Faithful?

In conclusion, let me make my usual disclaimer here: I did not write any of the above with the intention of offending anybody.  For one thing, I am quite aware that the corrupt and immoral leaders of the Arab and Islamic world do not represent the Arab or Muslim people of the world.  I also happen to know the kind of real gratitude shown towards Russia by many Syrians (and I am not talking about Assad or his ministers here: I am talking about the heroic Syrian soldiers who fight for their country every day).  But yes, some of you will probably feel uncomfortable or even offended by reading what I wanted to get off my chest.  If you are uncomfortable - then this is good, I hope that this might make you reconsider certain certitudes you might harbor in your heart and mind.  But if you are offended, then I am sorry.  I speak to you all in friendship, but also in truth.  Finally, a look at the contents of this blog for the past 5 years will show you that I have spent a lot of time trying to do my best to defend not only the Arab people, whom I happen to immensely like on a personal level, but also Muslims, whom I consider to have been often judged very unfairly and superficially.  But if I had the moral right to stand up for unfairly and superficially judged Muslims that also gives me the right to speak up when Muslims judge somebody else in an unfair and superficial manner.

One last question.  Ask yourself: who benefits when Muslims are judged unfairly or superficially?  And who benefits when Russia is judged unfairly or superficially?

Yep.  The very same Anglo-Zionists!

You like to be their dupe?  Not me.

The Saker