Gwynne Dyer: Why Vladimir Putin and the Chinese government protect Assad

The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Syria has suspended its peace mission.

“The observers will not be conducting patrols and will stay in their locations until further notice,” said the commander of the 300-strong multinational observer force, Norwegian Gen. Robert Mood.

This decision by the observer force is fully justified: its members were being prevented from visiting massacre sites by the Syrian army, and yet their mere presence created the false impression that the international community was “doing something”. So now the international community will be under even greater pressure to “do something” else about the Syrian tragedy. That means military action against the Assad regime—but the Russians will veto that.

Russian diplomacy is not usually so clumsy. None of the Western great powers will actually send troops to intervene in Syria: the Syrian army is too strong, and the sectarian and ethnic divisions in the country are far too messy.

So why don’t the Russians just promise to abstain in any UN Security Council vote on military intervention? No such vote will happen anyway, and Moscow would expose the hypocrisy of the Western powers that are pretending to demand action and blaming the Russians (and the Chinese) for being the obstacle.

It’s stupid to bring such opprobrium on your own country when you don’t have to. But both President Vladimir Putin’s elective dictatorship in Russia and the Communist Party in China fear that one day they might face foreign intervention themselves.

There must therefore be no legal precedent for international action against a regime that is merely murdering its own people on its own sovereign soil.

In reality, there is one kind of justice for the great powers and another for weaker states, and neither Moscow nor Beijing would ever face Western military intervention even if they were crushing nonviolent protests by their own people, let alone drowning an armed revolt in blood.

You only have to imagine the headlines that such an intervention would create to understand that the whole proposition is ridiculous. “Security Council votes to intervene in China to protect protesters from regime violence!” “American troops enter Russian cities to back anti-regime revolt!”

Such headlines are only slightly less implausible than “Martians invade Vatican City, kidnap Pope!”

But we are dealing here with the nightmare fantasies of regimes that secretly know they are illegitimate. They never acknowledge it in public, and they don’t discuss it directly even in private. But they know it nevertheless, and they understand that illegitimacy means vulnerability.

It doesn’t matter that Russia or China can simply veto any UN resolution that is directed against them. It makes no difference that no sane government in the rest of the world would commit the folly of sending troops to intervene in either of these giants. Paranoid fears cannot be dissolved by the application of mere reason.

Both Vladimir Putin and the Chinese leadership are appalled by the growing influence of the “responsibility to protect” principle at the United Nations, which breaches the previously sacred doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of member states. “R2P” says that foreign intervention can be justifiable (with a UN Security Council resolution, of course) to stop huge human-rights abuses committed by member governments.

The Russian and Chinese vetoes on the Security Council give them complete protection from foreign military intervention, but they still worry about it. And they look with horror at the phenomenon of nonviolent revolutions that has been removing authoritarian regimes with such efficiency—from the ones that overthrew Communist regimes in Eastern Europe and almost overthrew the Chinese regime in 1989 down to the Arab ones of today.

Moscow and Beijing have convinced themselves that there is a Western “hidden hand” behind these uprisings. That's even though Western actions (like the U.S. backing for Egypt’s president Mubarak that continued until almost the last minute of the revolution) and Western interests both argue otherwise.

Now, in Syria, they see both of these threats coalescing. First, for eight months, they watch strictly nonviolent protests—despite some thousands of killings by the Syrian state—undermine the Assad regime.

Then, when some of the protesters start fighting back and the regime responds with even greater violence, bombarding city centres and committing open massacres of villagers, they hear the Western powers begin to talk about their “responsibility to protect”. This is with the (deliberately misleading) implication that they are contemplating direct military intervention in Syria to stop it.

So Russia and China will veto any Security Council resolution that condemns the Assad regime. And certainly any resolution that hints at military intervention. Assad must survive, not because he buys a few billion dollars worth of Russian arms and gives Russia a naval base in the Mediterranean, but because his overthrow would be a precedent that, they imagine, might one day be used against them.

Utter nonsense, but it means that the Russians, in particular, will go on taking the blame for the UN’s immobility and lending cover to the West’s pretense that it would act against Assad if only the Russians would get out of the way. They will protect Assad right down to the bitter end—and it may be very bitter indeed.

Comments (11) Add New Comment
PJ Canuck
So much for being straight.... LOL. We both know the reason Russia and China will say no to any resolution is because of the treaty Syria has with Iran. Iran must protect Syria in the event of an invasion. Thus the latest uprising in Syria( invasion of western backed mercenaries) and the main reason is the oil pipe line coming from Egypt which is Israeli owned. There is no country including Turkey that will allow the resources of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Africa to be usurped from the people.

So here how it goes

NATO attacks Syria
Iran backs Syria
NATO and Israel attack Iran
China and Russia attack, Israel,US, Canada, Briton, France Germany ect. World War 3

So do you let NATO into Syria.... not on your life
0
0
Rating: 0
Sheeple
One more reason to not buy made in China or China controlled...

Companies Food (in most Canadian Supermarkets), Products and Services.

0
0
Rating: 0
blah blah blah
Ask the banking elite. they already know how this will all play out because they are behind all of it
1
0
Rating: +1
morgus2
NATO attacks Syria
Iran backs Syria
NATO and Israel attack Iran
China and Russia attack, Israel,US, Canada, Briton, France Germany ect. World War 3

Iran would never honor that treaty, it does not have the ability to do more than inflict casualties in a losing defense of its borders, there is simply n way for it to intervene.
8
0
Rating: +8
Issac Chandler
>None of the Western great powers will actually send troops to intervene in Syria
A little drivel. No but they would jump at the chance to bomb Syrian cities.Forgotten Libya? Good news: Tripoli's international airport resumed operations last Tuesday but Locusts from Libya threaten Mali and Niger.

Eric Margolis has a more sensible blog on the great game:
http://ericmargolis.com/2012/06/dangerous-games-in-syria/


>"American troops enter Russian cities to back anti-regime revolt!”

Both Russia and China faced foreign intervention not that long ago - Forces of over 100,000 from the international community invaded Russia. American objectives for invading Russia were as much diplomatic as they were military:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied_intervention_in_the_Russian_Civil_Wa...


>"Moscow and Beijing have convinced themselves that there is a Western “hidden hand”

The hand is not well hidden:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covert_United_States_foreign_regime_change_...



1
0
Rating: +1
Issac Chandler
>But we are dealing here with regimes that secretly know they are illegitimate.

But what makes a regime illegitimate? Why are we keeping this secret?

At 60% Putin's approval ratings are comparable to JFK:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_approval_rating#...

A few years ago, the publisher of GQ took measures to limit an articles circulation* on Putin's role in the Russian apartment bombings. The story was not to be on GQ's website, not to be published in foreign magazines, and not to be publicized,etc,etc.
Putin may have been involved in this nasty business back before 911 - but that's ancient history:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GQ#.22Vladimir_Putin.27s_Dark_Rise_to_Power...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_apartment_bombings
0
0
Rating: 0
Snob
This article is a complete load of crap. The article fails to mention how the wealthy Gulf governments, such as the Saudis, are continuing stoking the rebellion. Has anyone ever given it any thought where these opposition fighters are getting such heavy artillery? Response is wealthy Gulf States. Syria is becoming what Germany was after WWII. It is much more than what this article makes it out to be. Those other issues need to be addressed but are being completely ignored. How about the terrorist element? Do you really believe they are all hanging out only in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the U.S.? Syria is right next to Iraq, so a bad guy can come across the border rather easily. Lastly, don’t I remember many military in Iraq trying to curb the flow of terrorists from Syria? As a matter of fact, a stupid trench was dug to stop them from crossing over. My take is leave them alone and let them fight it out. This is exactly what is needed, and we want to stop it and interfere? It makes no sense. Let them eat each other and do the entire world a favor. For good measure, send a few drones out there too.
1
2
Rating: -1
scissorpaws
It's scary to realize with what little intelligence this world continues to be governed by. Where others see conspiracy I see incompetence, and my respect for the Used Car Salesmen (with apologies to used car salesmen) wielding the reins of power drops almost by the hour. It's a Dance of Clowns in Europe that would be funny if the results weren't so tragic. Yet there are people who actually believe Cameron has a clue what he's doing. And Merkel. That this current bailout is somehow different from the dozens that went before it and the Confidence Fairies will assuage the Bond Vigilantes and all will be nicely resolved by the weekend. And after the brilliant acquittals of Afghanistan and Iraq by the "coalition of the 'willing'" such as Poland, and Germany's caveats in Afghanistan that ensured their soldiers would never see actual combat, that Russia should be concerned about international intervention only underscores all of the above, about the sort of intellectual insight you'd expect of a thug like Putin. But the Boy King Bush - elected twice, let me remind doubters - looked into Putie-Putins (I bet they had great laffs in Moscow over that) eyes and saw a kindred spirit (sphincter loosening thought if ever I had one). Of course, if John McCain is to be believed, had he and the woman who could see Russia from her front porch won the election of '08, the US would actually be intervening in Syria right now. You can't make this stuff up. In fifty years the aliens sifting through our ashes will be passing around our history books for amusement. "Can you believe it?!" "It must've been something in the water, they were kinda smart just a century earlier." And it just gets weirder. By the day it gets weirder. LOL indeed.
1
1
Rating: 0
P.Peto
Dr. Dyer is usually well informed and he usually makes insightful comments but thie present commentary is off the mark. The idea that Russia and China would veto an R2P resolution at the UN over Syria because they fear it might set a legal precedant leading to a theoretical intervention,no matter how militarily implausable,of their own regimes,is truely preposterous. Also his notion that the U.S. and Nato would not attack Syria because the "army is too strong" is also another ridiculous claim; they would love to bomb the regime into submission and they probably will, setting a preamble for the onset of WW 3. Might I suggest instead that China and Russia are vetoing Western interventions and military adventurism,after their humiliations by the US air wars in Serbia and Libya. I sense that Syria and Iran are 'red lines' for Asian powers,it's 'push back' time and I fear a 'show down' is not far in the offing. When a global clash does eventually come to pass you should lay the blame at the feet of the perpetually war mongering Americans-"the Land of the Free and Brave". By the way,thanks to the Haper government, we Canadians can be expected to suffer through the coming conflageration.
1
0
Rating: +1
McRocket
I blame both sides in the Syrian mess...with more blame to Assad.

No one put a gun to the heads of the 'rebels' to start shooting back. They could have continued to use peaceful policies to try and get what they want. Sure - many were killed, but FAR, FAR more or being killed now.
And please do not tell me that these rebels did not know far more civilians would be killed once they started shooting back as Assad's troops?
The rebels (just as the rebels did in Libya) deliberately started a civil war; I assume under the assumption that the West would support them (just as they had done in Libya).
They now have no right to claim fake shock that Assad is now trying to crush the rebellion by killing civilians. His father did exactly the same thing before and the rebels must have known the son would do exactly the same thing is pushed again.

If the people of Syria want a civil war - fine. That is their choice.

But these rebels did not ask the people of Syria (I assume) before they deliberately started the war - they just started shooting knowing what would happen.


I say, leave the country to work out it's own civil war and only have the UN step in if extreme genocide begins.

And then ONLY move in by forcing a ceasefire on both sides using force...not choosing which side should win and start dropping bombs.

Other then to protect the innocent from massacres as much as possible - it is none of our business how the Syrians settle their internal disputes.

And nor is it any of our business to choose sides..no matter how much we hate the current leader.


No doubt, most of you will disagree.
0
1
Rating: -1
McRetso
McRocket

Yes, I do disagree. The rebels who started shooting back were soldiers in service of the regime, who had grown tired of killing unarmed, innocent people and decided to use their weapons to protect the protestors instead.

This was a mistake, of course, but one made with the best intentions. Unfortunately, it was still a mistake, and it turned the revolution into a bloody civil war. It also ensured that no foreign power would help the rebels.

See, back when it was the people of Syria against the government, things were fairly simple; there were only two sides. The government had a strong army, yes, but it had little to no support for the common people. At that time, it may have been possible to capitalize on the inherent reluctance of soldiers to shoot civilians in their own country.

Now, Syria is a mess of ethnic conflict between Sunnis and Shias, and nobody wants to try to wade into that, especially not when the rump of the Syrian army remains a serious threat.
0
0
Rating: 0
Add new comment
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.