Since Donald Trump’s election there has been near hysteria from the Democratic Party about ‘Russian hacking’ of Hillary Clinton’s emails and ‘troll farms’ interfering with the United States elections to help get Donald Trump elected (archive here). There is incredibly powerful evidence of Russian innocence. Wikileaks, who released the emails, say they got the ‘hacked’ emails from Democratic staffers and it had nothing to do with Russia (archive here). They are backed in this by a former British ambassador, Craig Murray.
The idea that one of the vipers in the toxic, writhing nest otherwise known as the Democratic Party is behind the leak is vastly more plausible than the idea of some surreal international conspiracy or (see below) the line some leftists are peddling about a plot by space aliens.
Even so, it would be perfectly understandable if Russia and its President Vladimir Putin had decided to put the case for Donald Trump? Why not? During her election campaign Hillary Rodham Clinton planned to establish, ‘no fly zones’ (archive here) in Syria. This led to warnings from retired US military pilots that the reckless policy could provoke a war with Russia.
Worse, the conflict in Syria repeats the same mistakes that have coloured all of western interventions in the Middle East for the past several decades. The Middle East contains many countries and many factions. Almost none of them favours democracy, an idea that the west continues to try to impose despite total, catastrophic, ruinous failure on each attempt.
The most recent disaster is the creation of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the aftermath of the removal of Saddam Hussein. Is there a democracy in Iraq? No – there is a medieval theocracy beheading and burning that according to Bloomberg news sells children aged 1-9 as sex slaves for $165 each (archive here).
The choices in the Middle East are not between utopia or democracy and dictatorships. They are choices between stable and authoritarian secular dictatorships, monarchies such as Saudi Arabia and murderous, terrorist promoting theocratic dictatorships. The real choice is not democracy or dictatorship but simply who will kill the fewest innocent people and trouble their neighbours least.
The history of Syria has been secular dictators brutally cracking down on vastly more murderous Islamic fundamentalists, not unlike Iraq. Attempts to remove these dictators (For justice! For democracy! To stop Weapons of Mass Destruction!) have left far worse situations behind.
Like the villains Morgoth and Sauron in Lord of the Rings, the west’s foreign policy has sent waves of refugees spilling across Europe. A mere side-effect of the Iraq and Syrian war may have been the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the EU in the recent referendum and the ascent of Marine Le Pen in France (archive here).
One of the few voices of moderation and caution has been Vladimir Putin. In September 2013 the New York times now wildly repeating allegations of his wrongdoing were happy to carry an article by Putin on the subject. It is entitled, “A Plea for Caution from Russia” and is well worth reading in full (archive here).
“The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism.”
Three years on where are we? Syria is a bloodbath with at least 5 factions. The conflict has indeed spread beyond Syria’s borders destabilising not only the middle east but also Europe. Putin was spot on. Completely right. So of course the New York Times decided he was the villain. In his 2013 article Putin also stated that –
“Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country. There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government.”
Right again. And again, and again, as with this –
“Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even Russia, are an issue of our deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria? After all, after fighting in Libya, extremists moved on to Mali. This threatens us all.”
As Putin points out the complexities and intricacies of intervention in Middle Eastern politics, the western response has been hostility, ridicule and even planned violence in the case of Hillary Clinton and her supporters.
Over the past years some extreme conspiracy theorists have even accused Putin of having a treaty with blonde aliens from the Pleiades who are supplying Russia with advanced weapons technology (archive here). To be fair, there are many who would find Pleiadian aliens to be more attractive allies than Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Hussein Obama.
Turning away from disproven fantasies of hacking and hysteria about alien plots, the fact remains that Putin’s real contributions to international affairs have been arguments more along the lines of (paraphrasing) –
- Western countries are on the “path to degradation” (archive here)
- The Terrorism being experienced in Europe arises from Western policies (archive here)
And he is right. The dark truth is that western leaders have approached the grim problems of an imperfect world with clumsy solutions that may have fuelled narcissistic power fantasies but have left the planet in chaos. At this point the establishment should be unsurprised that voters favour Trump and Putin over Hillary and Obama. At this point even the conspiracy theorists’ ‘aliens’ would sound more appealing.