Czar Putin defends the West
Well, Obama has systematically undercut our friends in the Middle East, and Vladimir Putin is picking up the pieces. Obama promised big change -- only not the ones we see happening. As Obama promised the radical left, America is now drastically weakened; but oddly enough, peace hasn't busted out all over.
So here comes the Czar of all Russias to rescue Christian civilization from a bloody nightmare in Syria and Iraq. While the United States is supplying major weapons to brutal Sunni gangs who keep committing horrific war crimes, jihadis are taking advantage of the chaos to make genocidal attacks on Arab Christians, Egyptian Copts, Orthodox Armenians, Kurds, Yazidis, and Druze. (And each other -- of course.)
Every time another domino falls, this administration looks more shell-shocked. Their comforting delusions are crumbling. Today they've stopped even pretending to understand what's going on.
Even Obama's surrender to Iran's nuclear obsessions is now failing. Today, none of the European "partners" in that miserable appeasement are still willing to sign Obama's Diktat; not even the Iranians, who are getting everything they want without Obama. It's a total capitulation, with sinister consequences to come soon.
The Germans have doubled their profitable trade with Tehran, while Russia and China are making huge military and nuclear power plant sales. Seven thousand Iranian Revolutionary Guards are fighting against U.S.-sponsored jihadis in Syria, along with ten times as many Hizb’allah fighters. Iran's strategic noose around Saudi Arabia is tightening, and the naval chokepoint of Aden is under direct military threat.
The CIA failed to predict Putin's intervention in Syria, yet for months everybody from Israel to Saudi Arabia has been sending top-level negotiators to Moscow. It's the only thing they could do, after we threw them to the sharks. For nations in mortal peril, it's any port in a storm.
And yes, it's a fair bet that all the players carried gifts for the Tsar, to make sure they would not be victimized by the new hegemon.
The CIA failed to predict the Russian move into Syria. But you don't need a huge intelligence "community" to see the obvious. This White House isn't interested in the truth anyway. Obama can't stand being contradicted, and the CIA is responding by not telling him what he doesn't want to hear.
Syria's President Assad is as ruthless as any dictator in the Middle East, but he based his power on protecting minorities, like his own Alawites. Like Muammar Gadaffi in Libya, he kept a precarious peace among hostile factions.
Christian bishops in the Middle East see Putin as their sole protector in the double bind between jihad and a militantly atheist West. To persecuted minorities in the Middle East, Putin has seized the moral high ground.
We have no idea what Putin is going to do next. Russia has the potential of becoming a major stabilizing force in the Middle East. But his convictions are becoming clearer. He understands Syria along the lines of his war with Chechnya: His actions there were ruthless but effective. ISIS has thousands of Chechnyan jihadis, now with combat experience, and ready to assault Russia. Putin will not tolerate that, just as China won't tolerate its own Muslim rebels in Syria-Iraq returning to attack its vulnerable Uighur flank.
Putin carries street cred in a world of jihadist gangs. In 2002, Chechnyan terrorists murdered school children in Beslan and bombed the Dubrovka Theater. Putin reacted with brutal efficiency. His rise to power since that time is based on knocking down the Chechnyan rebellion, by bombarding entire cities. Much of Putin's popularity among regular Russians is based on his brutal suppression of violent Islam. But the Islamists attacks still continue.
Obama has just spent half a billion dollars to arm and train "Syrian moderates," who took the money and ran, to join the worst terrorist gangs in the neighborhood. This week we heard that 70% of our military equipment sent to "Syrian moderates" ended up in the hands of ISIS.
I know we're not supposed to say words like "Christian civilization," but Vladimir Putin believes them. He isn't wrong. For four centuries, until Lenin murdered the last Romanovs in 1918, the Tsars prided themselves on being the defenders of Christianity. Like the Vatican, the Russian Orthodox Church claims a direct line of apostolic descent from the early Christian churches, by way of the Byzantine Empire. And yes, there were plenty of wars between Polish Catholics and Russian Orthodox.
There was cruel persecution of Jews whenever a scapegoat was wanted. But today the Ottoman Turks are still remembered with a special horror in Eastern and Southern Europe. Sometimes you have to choose between bad and worse.
(Several years ago Pope Benedict quoted the Byzantine Emperor Manuel Paleologus II, condemning the sadistic cruelties of jihadist Islam. Telling the truth horrified liberals around the world, the way it always does. That quote came from a time shortly before the Byzantine Empire was destroyed by jihad, leaving the remaining Orthodox Churches bereft of their original lands.)
Putin has his picture taken regularly with the Patriarch of Moscow, probably for political reasons, but also because he has a deep sense of history. Unlike every cowardly Western liberal politician who can't say the words "Muslim barbarism," Putin is very clear about jihad. He understands the history of horrific Muslim assaults on Russia. He knows that jihad war has not changed one little bit in a thousand years. Like Samuel Huntington, the first historian of the jihad war, Putin also understands in a very profound way that this is a war for civilization.
Vladimir Putin isn't a nice liberal, but he is a realist, which is much more than any Western leader can say today. Without realism it is impossible to act morally. Without realism, everything turns into an Obamaesque kabuki play.
Putin was raised by an Orthodox mother and a Marxist father. He came to power by brutally putting down a Muslim terrorist rebellion in Chechnya, using the standard Russian method of bombarding entire cities until they surrendered.
As a rising KGB colonel, Putin saw his world falling apart under Gorbachev, who tried to liberalize the Soviet Empire, only to see it collapse. In his eyes, democratic liberalism doesn't work, Soviet Marxism didn't work, and he certainly doesn't want nuclear jihad to win.
Americans are used to thinking of Soviet Russia as a militant atheist regime, which tried to destroy religious faith wherever it could, for seven or eight decades. One of the astonishing facts of the 20th century is the survival of traditional religion under decades of Marxist oppression. It sometimes seems as if faith tends crumble in rich consumer societies; but persecution and misery bring it back.
When the Soviet Union was beginning to crumble in the late 1980s, some members of the Central Committee were quoted as exclaiming "Bozhe moye!" -- My God!! whenever another piece of bad news came in. Religion had survived, even at the secret heart of the heart of the Communist Party. The same is happening in China today.
So Putin has gone back to the Tsarist practice of using the Orthodox Church to build national unity. He is also religiously tolerant as long as it’s peaceful. As long as they don't threaten the Tsar, people can practice their faith. (But not when it comes to militant gay movements).
If Putin is smart, he won't abuse his new credibility and power in the Middle East. Russia stands to gain numerous benefits, as long as it is perceived to be preserving an acceptable balance of power. That also means finding a position between Iran and Saudi Arabia, between Israel and Iran, and between Europe and the oil it depends on. Russia can reap huge benefits just from protecting mutually hostile oil regimes from each other; by saving their cookies, Putin also gets into the oil game.
Putin now runs the biggest military near the world’s oil spigot, even as shale deposits are quickly being exploited all over the world.
This is a time of constant probing to discover the parameters of the new hegemony.
So far, Putin's intervention has been cheap, taking advantage of historically stupid moves by the Euro-American Left. Putin can use his new-found influence in the Middle East to rebuild Russia's economy in a world of fast-falling oil prices.