Obama Finally Commits to Putin’s Syrian Policy — Yet Continues Violating It

Eric Zuesse

The basic policy-difference on Syria has been between U.S. President Barack Obama’s insistence that Syria’s legal President must be ousted before any peace-process starts, versus Russian President Vladimir Putin’s insistence that no foreign power possesses the right to determine whom the leader of Syria or any other country will or won’t be — only the residents there do, via free and fair democratic elections. Putin proposes an internationally monitored and verified election in Syria to determine the identity of Syria’s President; Obama has rejected that proposal — until now.

The world’s most-reliably honest and accurate news-medium, Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, or German Economic News, reports, on December 19th, three major articles about the latest stages of Obama’s newfound verbal commitment to Putin’s policy. They are all summarized here, with factual corrections added by me, because no news-source is 100% reliable:

“UN-Sicherheitsrat verabschiedet Syrien-Resolution einstimmig” or “UN Security Council Adopts Syria-Resolution Unanimously,” reports that the U.N. Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution that “essentially corresponds to the Russian proposals of the past few weeks”; and, so, “the international community concludes a combined joint action for a cessation of [Syrian] hostilities.” And: “US Secretary of State John Kerry said after the Security Council meeting chaired by him, that the resolution will send ‘a clear message to all concerned that it is now time to stop the killing in Syria’.” However, actually, it’s not merely “Russian proposals of the past few weeks,” because as far back as 6 June 2012, Bloomberg News had headlined, “Russia Open to Syria Transition in Shift Away From Assad,” and reported that, “While Russia for the first time sees a change of government in Syria as possible via a series of steps, it remains adamant that the outcome not be imposed from outside, according to a Russian official not authorized to speak publicly on this matter. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said yesterday that his country has never insisted on Assad staying in power and a decision on his future must be taken by the Syrians themselves, state-run Rossiya 24 television said on its website.” (More recently, the Guardian on September 15th reported that former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari went public saying that the West’s “failure to consider the Russian [2012] offer had led to a ‘self-made disaster’.” So: this has been Russia’s position consistently since that time (not only “the past few weeks”), and it is only now being accepted (at least verbally) by the regime in Washington, and their toadies in other ‘Western’ countries. (I had first reported on Obama’s change of position on this November 15th, and reported further on it December 15th.)

“UN-Friedensplan für Syrien: Das Verdienst der viel geschmähten Russen” or “UN peace plan for Syria: The merit of the much maligned Russians,” opines that “It speaks [favorably] for the US government [i.e., Obama] that it [he, via his subordinate John Kerry] has listened to Vladimir Putin” in this matter. This article summarizes the history by saying that “the Russians have said from the outset that they will not compete against the USA, but want to fight alongside the Western alliance against Islamist terrorism. The plan for an 18-month transitional period, as it has now been decided by the UN, comes from the Russians. They also have, contrary to the Western popular fiction, from the very beginning said that they do not want to hold on to Assad.” However, that slightly misstates Putin’s position, which has instead been: Russia will insist upon the next Syrian President’s being selected only by the Syrian population, regardless of what their choice might happen to be. To say that “they [the Russian government] do not want to hold on to Assad” is to imply that Putin wouldn’t prefer that the outcome of a democratic election in Syria result in the election of Assad or someone like him (i.e., non-sectarian, and especially not pro-Sunni, which would mean anti-Shiite, which would include anti-Iranian, pro-Arabic, meaning here also being pro-U.S.-aristocracy, a pawn of Washington), which is to make a misleading, and even false, statement. (Even the best news-medium isn’t perfect, as these examples clearly show. But at least DWN  tries its best to be truthful, whereas the norm in the Western press is instead to lie whenever necessary in order to keep up the Western — basically America’s — aristocracy’s anti-Russian propaganda-line.)

“Trotz Friedens-Plan: Nato schickt Kriegsschiffe in das Mittelmeer” or “Despite peace plan: NATO sends warships into the Mediterranean Sea,” reports that, “Despite the UN peace plan for Syria, NATO stepped up its military presence in the Mediterranean area. NATO announced that it would support Turkey in the monitoring of the airspace at the border with Syria. Given the uncertain situation, the representatives of the alliance had decided to help, said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday. NATO would provide, inter alia, AWACS aircraft. In addition, the monitoring on the Mediterranean Sea will be increased by German and Danish military vessels.” Along with that comes their editorial opinion, which is unwarranted: this article opines that the NATO move somehow “shows that the US government is only partially able to control the alliance. NATO has now opened so many fronts that it is possible for the government in Washington barely to make informed decisions.” The editors’ inference and implication there, that Obama couldn’t have prevented NATO from doing this, is almost certainly false. I therefore shall here engage in my own editorializing, by asserting that progressives throughout the world (such as the owners of DWN seem to be) almost consistently exhibit an unstated underlying assumption that Obama isn’t really set upon the U.S. aristocracy’s decades-long effort and intention to conquer, to take control of, Russia. That assumption flies in the face of Obama’s actual record.

“Linkspartei: Nach UN-Einigung Bundeswehr-Einsatz in Syrien stoppen” or “Left Party says UN agreement requires Germany’s military mission in Syria to stop,” reports that Germany’s Party of the Left asserts: “New troops would run counter to the peace plan.” Here is the rest of that brief article:

The chairman of the Left Party, Bernd Riexinger, said:

“I very much welcome that after nearly five years we finally take concrete steps toward peace negotiations in Syria. The federal government must now immediately stop with all its might the Bundeswehr war deployment. Hundreds of millions would be tax money now spent for a German war effort to thwart the peace plan of the United Nations. Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier also must speak out for an internationally supervised arms embargo.

Apart from peace negotiations and cease-fire agreements in Syria and an internationally monitored arms embargo strengthening nonviolent working organizations, humanitarian assistance to the civilian population and reconstruction assistance by armed groups, free regions and self-government structures are necessary. Everyone knows that there is no quick solution to the existing conflicts in the Middle East. Above all, there is no military solution.” 

So: Germany’s right-wing Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is receiving pressure from a marginal leftist Party, to abandon the American anti-Assad war. Both Merkel and her master, Obama, are, in their decisions of action and of inaction, trying to do whatever they can to carry out the U.S. aristocracy’s objectives, even if they can’t say publicly that they still are trying to find some way to defeat Putin, and, in Syria, to block the Syrian election that Putin has been pressing for. Because, as every knowledgeable person knows, but the Western ‘news’ media prefer to ignore when they don’t come right out with lies denying it: any free and fair internationally monitored and verified election in Syria will almost certainly choose Bashar al-Assad by a huge margin, to lead the country. Most Syrians — even many Syrian Sunnis — prefer a non-sectarian leader, not the type that the U.S. and Saudi aristocracies want to impose there to defeat Russia.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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  • Carl_Herman

    Strong work, Eric; thank you.

    So, what then is the best way that We the People can end the US/Israel and “former” colonial nations’ to hypocritically continue their slaughter, looting, and lying? Does anyone see a more effective way than pointing to “Emperor’s New Clothes” obvious crimes connected to a demand for arrests???

    • cettel

      Carl, the aristocracy have protected themselves in advance, by limiting to only a very few, the number of people who even know about the dozen-or-so news-sites where the systematic nature of the crimes by the aristocracy is exposed. So: we are shut out of all but a few marginal media — which have no impact. I don’t know of any solution to that problem.

  • David Dzidzikashvili

    Putin is smart and cunning and every move he makes is very thoroughly calculated to further his own goals and agenda. It’s no secret that Putin himself is pursuing an aggressive revisionist policy designed to undermine the post WW2 and post–Cold War orders…

    His possible disengagement from Syria can be associated with the following three scenarios: A. Putin miscalculated and saw the raise of Iran and all the victories going to Iran in the region, who is merely borrowing the Russian Air force. Therefore, once Putin realized there were no bigger prizes for him other than the airbase in Latakia, he decided to pull out and let Iran pursue the remainder of strategic war goals. Also, what Putin achieved at a minimum strengthened Assad regime, so he has a bigger negotiating power during the peace talks.

    B. Domestic economic pressures – bombing runs and maintaining effective military power needs serious financial resources. Once Putin had achieved his minimum – strengthened Assad regime, he claimed the credit at home and made another strategic move to pull the bigger force, while maintaining the minimum presence.

    C. This might be just another trick & maneuver in Putin’s handbook and this might not mean any sort of withdrawal on the short-term or long-term, since the Russian air force is still continuing bombing the rebels in Syria after the withdrawal announcement. What did Putin want to accomplish? Time will show us…