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The Russia-Syria-Iran alliance has all but defeated ISIS and some other minor annoyances like Al-Nusra and other US-allied terror groups, and people everywhere are now eyeing the US presence in Syria as a weary host views uninvited hangers-on at a party that should have been over a while ago.
For those Trump fans who were delighted at the rumor of a possible $400 billion contract for shipment of US arms to Saudi Arabia (which is not a done deal), it must have been disconcerting to learn that on Thursday, King Salman made the first ever official visit of a Saudi king to Moscow and asked to purchase some shiny new S-400s to safeguard its air space. As of now, this is a done deal, according to Business Insider. And this after Moscow had already made an unprecedented volume of arms deals all around the world, including major ones in the king’s back yard: 300 Terminator tank support vehicles – a Russian weapon system like no other in the world – to Algeria, a longstanding partner of Russia’s; a done deal for $2 billion in arms to Egypt; a perspective $2 billion deal with Egypt’s ally Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, also a Russian ally of long standing; a Russian pledge to provide helicopters, night-vision goggles and bullet-proof vests to Tunisian security forces to fight terror; and, to the horror of Washington, Russia is now expected to ink a deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for a squadron (over a dozen) Su-35 stealth fighter jets. Why would this Arab ally of Washington turn up its nose at the US-made F-35, the nearest analog of the Su-35? Easy. The Su-35 (Russian language site) outmaneuvers the F-35 and sells for around $35 million apiece vs the roughly $120 million price tag of the F-35. The problem is, the US is permanently locked into a system wherein defense contractors donate to (read bribe) political candidates who later decide who gets the defense contracts. This legal graft makes arms prices too high to compete and the rest of the world is therefore drifting toward Russia – where bribery is illegal – for its arms supplies. Russia’s fabulous success in Syria gives it an unbeatable edge in the global arms market.
British Middle East expert John Bradley, writing for The Spectator, reminds us that just 2 short years ago, US defense secretary Ash Carter had predicted a catastrophe for Russia when it entered the war on Bashar al-Assad’s side to fight ISIS and assorted US-trained and armed jihadi groups in Syria. Such deceitful minimization of Russian power has been ongoing since then but the Saudi royals’ visit to Moscow on Thursday was the last straw. The curtain’s been drawn on the Washington wizard, for whom there is now no place to hide.
Bradley also reminds us, with unusual candor for a Western journalist, of all the chicanery, lies, deceit, backstabbing, genocidal acts and other untoward behavior of Western officialdom in all the wars and warmongering of the past half century that has gone into transforming America and allies – seen since WW II as paladins fearlessly rushing to the aid of the oppressed – into a bunch of feared and loathed pariahs. He has nonetheless retained the usual de rigueur references to Putin as “autocratic,” despite the fact that he is one of the most popular elected leaders in the world, in a bid to protect Bradley’s reputation among his peers, although such minor slurs are rare in this piece and are obviously just there to protect his paycheck. We forgive him.
Bradley reminds us of how Putin managed to win over Erdogan even after Turkey shot down a Russian jet over the Turkish-Syrian border and declares:
“It is testament to Putin’s extraordinary diplomatic skills that Russia and Turkey are these days singing each other’s praises as never before.”
No, Putin’s diplomatic feat is so much more than that, Mr. Bradley. In truth, it is a testament to Putin’s being Russian and not Western. That’s exactly the source of his success. But what does it mean to be Russian as opposed to Western?
Although the West has a thin pseudo-Christian veneer over it, the notions of turning the other cheek and leaving vengeance up to the Lord are virtually absent in the Atlanticist empire, particularly in discussions of how to treat an enemy. Even in the reader forums of the pro-Russian site Russia Today (my favorite news site, BTW), we find a lot of criticism of Putin for treating the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia as partners rather than exacting revenge on them for their support for terrorists or for Israel’s attacks on Syria allies fighting ISIS. We also find at this site commentaries by Paul Craig Roberts criticizing Putin for treating the US as a partner and not as an enemy. PCR seems to think Putin is soft-headed and not in fact the highly skilled diplomat that he is. Anyone who has witnessed Putin’s skill in dealing with Erdogan and the dazzling success he has achieved so far with the Turk stream pipeline, the S-400 sale to the Turks, and generally empowering Turkey to defy Germany and the US to protect its own sovereignty ought to admit that Putin knows exactly what he is doing all the time. The fatal flaw in our character, however, is the mental disease of Westernness.
The truth is, the West has never truly received Christ’s message. It is behaving instead in accordance with Old Testament law, as if Christ had never ushered in an age of grace. In testimony to their Old Testament allegiance, Christians are proud to proclaim publicly “I stand with Israel” but we never hear them publicly stating “I stand with Jesus.” Because they actually don’t. The entire Western elitosphere promotes and even enforces a brutal predatory capitalism that hurts their own countrymen, leaving the sick to die of diseases for which they cannot afford health insurance. Their justification? That’s just the way it is in our sacred capitalist system. If we provide free health care to save lives, we would be opening the door to communism and that in turn would usher in Stalin-like purges, jackboots, midnight visits by the KGB, etc. Just look at Cuba, they say. The Cubans are grindingly poor. Yet no prominent Westerner dares to point out that if the Cubans are poor, it is because the US has held them in a stranglehold for years with its blockades and sanctions, and its refusal to trade with them, for the crime of rejecting the American way of life that has now culminated in a crushing debt that will never be paid down or off. In fact the fall of the Soviet Union was as much due to US intervention and subterfuge as is was to internal failures.
Worse, the US hypocritically trades freely with an openly communist China while pretending that the democratically administered Russia is somehow our biggest enemy – not the criminals on Wall Street, Pennsylvania Avenue and in Congress. But the real crying shame of it all is that the US and European populace allows itself to be led by these heartless monsters in Washington, Paris, Berlin and Brussels who have not only impoverished their own countries but have murdered millions abroad over the last half-century, mostly civilians in countries that have not threatened our peoples. It was murder under color of law decreed by the Exceptional Nation.
Western clergy pay lip service to the revolutionary concept of grace as opposed to Old Testament law. But this teaching is for the most part carefully kept separate from real life. Jesus demonstrated in real life and in parables how this new concept is supposed to work. One of the most poignant examples is the story of how He and the disciples were walking through a field of grain on the Sabbath and were seen by the Pharisees to pluck and eat the grain. For this innocuous act they were accused of profaning the Sabbath, which according to the 10 Commandments, was to be “kept holy.” While the scriptures did not detail what keeping it holy meant, it was generally believed that people were not to work on that day. Yet the notion of “work” was subject to interpretation. The Pharisees used this vaguely written law to trip people up and in this way gain power over them. When they used this legalistic line of argumentation to trip up Jesus, he said: how many of you if your ox fell into a well on the Sabbath would not rescue it? None could say that they would leave the animal to die. He had made his point and had given mankind a glimpse of salvation through grace and not law.
Likewise, we recall how he intervened when an adulteress was about to be stoned, saying to the angry mob: let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Thus, in these instances and elsewhere, Christ emphasized not the letter of the law but rather the fact that we are all human and prone to sin, despite our best intentions. This hard and fast fact of human nature demands a solution and that solution is forgiveness through grace. No other religion has this concept. And before Putin, no world leader had ever had the audacity to try applying the concept of grace to geopolitics.
Thus whether or not Putin is consciously acting out Christianity (something he has never claimed to be doing because he knows that to articulate his motives would be to profane the Source of them), he is in fact undeniably behaving like Christ. The radical act of forgiveness toward Erdogan, who had clearly behaved like an enemy, was a clear cut case of practical Christianity. Americans finding themselves in a similar situation would call for war against Turkey. Russians, by contrast, know what war is like on their own soil and, more importantly, they are not motivated by the machismo modeled by, say, Clint Eastwood or Sylvester Stallone. They are increasingly discovering the teachings of Jesus and the value of their application to their lives.
By contrast, most Americans immediately call for revenge against any national leader threatening the US, using such threats as a pretext for war, even though they must know on some level of their consciousness that these threats are empty. Politicians know that the average American wants a tough, machista response and reveres presidents who stand up to a perceived bully, even if this means a war that will drive another nail in the economic coffin and destroy the innocent people of the assaulted country. The fact is, the US itself has become a surly bully much more powerful than the nations who challenge it and does not pick on anyone its own size.
Now we face a threat from a president who says he will respond to a North Korean threat with “fire and fury” and will destroy the entire country. He probably does not realize that air force general Curtis LeMay, who had led the Korean air war, once said that the US had killed, with aerial bombings, an estimated 20% of the North Korean population (this was later disputed but the figure was nonetheless placed at 13.5%, which still easily qualifies as genocide ). The war department knew that the US could not win that war and yet they chose to bomb before pulling out, dropping on North Korea more ordinance than they had throughout WW II. The only possible conclusion as to their motive is revenge. You kill innocent men, women and children in revenge for the sins of their leaders. It’s the American way: Biblical if your basis is the Old Testament and if Jesus is not your King. And this kind of vengefulness is not confined to America because the English also exacted such brutal revenge on the civilian population of Dresden, most of whom were roasted alive by their bombing raid even though it was clear by then that the allies would win the war.
Do you see the diametrically opposite poles here? Russian leadership has had ample opportunity and fire power to avenge itself, for example, of the US and Israeli air forces for their ruthless attacks on Syrian troops even as the latter were fighting ISIS. No one could have blamed the Russians if they had shot down the attacking planes.
Yet they knew that to counterattack would only have weakened their position in the eyes of the world and would have irretrievably destroyed their relations with the offending nations. And now at last, Russia has been vindicated – by an overwhelming defeat of ISIS virtually everywhere in Syria; by the attendant arms sales to countries that could not fail to note the Kalibr missiles leaping out of the Caspian Sea and pinpointing targets hundreds of miles away, by the deployment of the formidable S-400s all over Syria and the unmistakable significance of these facts in terms of Russian arms superiority. And by the visit of a cowed Saudi king to Moscow begging for concessions in terms of reining in Iran, not out of hatred but out of fear for his very life. In other words, a king who once controlled the Middle East begging for mercy before a president who had seized that control from him by doing what was right and doing it so superbly.
After over a half-century – almost as long as the Soviet Union had lasted – the global Western lawlessness cynically called Exceptionalism, had finally given way to the simple saving concept of love.
Written on October 7, 2017, the birthday of Russian President Vladimir Putin.