Putin’s UN address: “Do you realise what you’ve done?”

These two posts of speeches from the current UN General Assembly might provoke some discussion ( and I sincerely hope they do). They are the major speeches presented by US President Barak Obama and Russian federation President Vladimir Putin.

I have posted them in the alphabetic order of their names – and, in fact, the order in which they were presented on Monday.

My motive in making these full texts available, together with videos of the presentations, is to encourage people to find out what these leaders are actually saying. Particularly to encourage readers not to rely on soundbites and scraps of news filtered and garbled through the inevitable ideologies of the current geopolitical struggles. I think this is extremely important at this time of heightened international conflict.

Source: The Washington Post

PUTIN (THROUGH INTERPRETER): Your excellency Mr. President, your excellency Mr. Secretary General, distinguished heads of state and government, ladies and gentlemen, the 70th anniversary of the United Nations is a good occasion to both take stock of history and talk about our common future.

In 1945, the countries that defeated Nazism joined their efforts to lay solid foundations for the postwar world order.

But I remind you that the key decisions on the principles guiding the cooperation among states, as well as on the establishment of the United Nations, were made in our country, in Yalta, at the meeting of the anti-Hitler coalition leaders.

The Yalta system was actually born in travail. It was won at the cost of tens of millions of lives and two world wars.

This swept through the planet in the 20th century.

Let us be fair. It helped humanity through turbulent, at times dramatic, events of the last seven decades. It saved the world from large-scale upheavals.

The United Nations is unique in its legitimacy, representation and universality. It is true that lately the U.N. has been widely criticized for supposedly not being efficient enough, and for the fact that the decision-making on fundamental issues stalls due to insurmountable differences, first of all, among the members of the Security Council.

However, I’d like to point out there have always been differences in the U.N. throughout all these 70 years of existence. The veto right has always been exercised by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, the Soviet Union and Russia later, alike. It is absolutely natural for so diverse and representative an organization.

When the U.N. was established, its founders did not in the least think that there would always be unanimity. The mission of the organization is to seek and reach compromises, and its strength comes from taking different views and opinions into consideration. Decisions debated within the U.N. are either taken as resolutions or not. As diplomats say, they either pass or do not pass.

Whatever actions any state might take bypassing this procedure are illegitimate. They run counter to the charter and defy international law. We all know that after the end of the Cold War — everyone is aware of that — a single center of domination emerged in the world, and then those who found themselves at the top of the pyramid were tempted to think that if they were strong and exceptional, they knew better and they did not have to reckon with the U.N., which, instead of [acting to] automatically authorize and legitimize the necessary decisions, often creates obstacles or, in other words, stands in the way.

It has now become commonplace to see that in its original form, it has become obsolete and completed its historical mission. Of course, the world is changing and the U.N. must be consistent with this natural transformation. Russia stands ready to work together with its partners on the basis of full consensus, but we consider the attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the United Nations as extremely dangerous. They could lead to a collapse of the entire architecture of international organizations, and then indeed there would be no other rules left but the rule of force.

We would get a world dominated by selfishness rather than collective work, a world increasingly characterized by dictate rather than equality. There would be less of a chain of democracy and freedom, and that would be a world where true independent states would be replaced by an ever-growing number of de facto protectorates and externally controlled territories.

What is the state sovereignty, after all, that has been mentioned by our colleagues here? It is basically about freedom and the right to choose freely one’s own future for every person, nation and state. By the way, dear colleagues, the same holds true of the question of the so-called legitimacy of state authority. One should not play with or manipulate words.

Every term in international law and international affairs should be clear, transparent and have uniformly understood criteria. We are all different, and we should respect that. No one has to conform to a single development model that someone has once and for all recognized as the only right one. We should all remember what our past has taught us.

We also remember certain episodes from the history of the Soviet Union. Social experiments for export, attempts to push for changes within other countries based on ideological preferences, often led to tragic consequences and to degradation rather than progress.

It seemed, however, that far from learning from others’ mistakes, everyone just keeps repeating them, and so the export of revolutions, this time of so-called democratic ones, continues. It would suffice to look at the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, as has been mentioned by previous speakers. Certainly political and social problems in this region have been piling up for a long time, and people there wish for changes naturally.

But how did it actually turn out? Rather than bringing about reforms, an aggressive foreign interference has resulted in a brazen destruction of national institutions and the lifestyle itself. Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social disaster. Nobody cares a bit about human rights, including the right to life.

I cannot help asking those who have caused the situation, do you realize now what you’ve done? But I am afraid no one is going to answer that. Indeed, policies based on self-conceit and belief in one’s exceptionality and impunity have never been abandoned.

It is now obvious that the power vacuum created in some countries of the Middle East and North Africa through the emergence of anarchy areas, which immediately started to be filled with extremists and terrorists.

Tens of thousands of militants are fighting under the banners of the so-called Islamic State. Its ranks include former Iraqi servicemen who were thrown out into the street after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Many recruits also come from Libya, a country whose statehood was destroyed as a result of a gross violation of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973. And now, the ranks of radicals are being joined by the members of the so-called moderate Syrian opposition supported by the Western countries.

First, they are armed and trained and then they defect to the so-called Islamic State. Besides, the Islamic State itself did not just come from nowhere. It was also initially forged as a tool against undesirable secular regimes.

Having established a foothold in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State has begun actively expanding to other regions. It is seeking dominance in the Islamic world. And not only there, and its plans go further than that. The situation is more than dangerous.

In these circumstances, it is hypocritical and irresponsible to make loud declarations about the threat of international terrorism while turning a blind eye to the channels of financing and supporting terrorists, including the process of trafficking and illicit trade in oil and arms. It would be equally irresponsible to try to manipulate extremist groups and place them at one’s service in order to achieve one’s own political goals in the hope of later dealing with them or, in other words, liquidating them.

To those who do so, I would like to say — dear sirs, no doubt you are dealing with rough and cruel people, but they’re in no way primitive or silly. They are just as clever as you are, and you never know who is manipulating whom. And the recent data on arms transferred to this most moderate opposition is the best proof of it.

We believe that any attempts to play games with terrorists, let alone to arm them, are not just short-sighted, but fire hazardous (ph). This may result in the global terrorist threat increasing dramatically and engulfing new regions, especially given that Islamic State camps train militants from many countries, including the European countries.

Unfortunately, dear colleagues, I have to put it frankly: Russia is not an exception. We cannot allow these criminals who already tasted blood to return back home and continue their evil doings. No one wants this to happen, does he?

Russia has always been consistently fighting against terrorism in all its forms. Today, we provide military and technical assistance both to Iraq and Syria and many other countries of the region who are fighting terrorist groups.

We think it is an enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government and its armed forces, who are valiantly fighting terrorism face to face. We should finally acknowledge that no one but President Assad’s armed forces and Kurds (ph) militias are truly fighting the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations in Syria.

We know about all the problems and contradictions in the region, but which were (ph) based on the reality.

Dear colleagues, I must note that such an honest and frank approach of Russia has been recently used as a pretext to accuse it of its growing ambitions, as if those who say it have no ambitions at all.

However, it’s not about Russia’s ambitions, dear colleagues, but about the recognition of the fact that we can no longer tolerate the current state of affairs in the world. What we actually propose is to be guided by common values and common interests, rather than ambitions.

On the basis of international law, we must join efforts to address the problems that all of us are facing and create a genuinely broad international coalition against terrorism.

Similar to the anti-Hitler coalition, it could unite a broad range of forces that are resolutely resisting those who, just like the Nazis, sow evil and hatred of humankind. And, naturally, the Muslim countries are to play a key role in the coalition, even more so because the Islamic State does not only pose a direct threat to them, but also desecrates one of the greatest world religions by its bloody crimes.

The ideologists (ph) of militants make a mockery of Islam and pervert its true humanistic (ph) values. I would like to address Muslim spiritual leaders, as well. Your authority and your guidance are of great importance right now.

It is essential to prevent people recruited by militants from making hasty decisions and those who have already been deceived, and who, due to various circumstances found themselves among terrorists, need help in finding a way back to normal life, laying down arms, and putting an end to fratricide.

Russia will shortly convene, as the (ph) current president of the Security Council, a ministerial meeting to carry out a comprehensive analysis of threats in the Middle East.

First of all, we propose discussing whether it is possible to agree on a resolution aimed at coordinating the actions of all the forces that confront the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations. Once again, this coordination should be based on the principles of the U.N. Charter.

We hope that the international community will be able to develop a comprehensive strategy of political stabilization, as well as social and economic recovery, of the Middle East.

Then, dear friends, there would be no need for new refugee camps. Today, the flow of people who were forced to leave their homeland has literally engulfed first neighboring countries and then Europe itself. There were hundreds of thousands of them now, and there might be millions before long. In fact, it is a new great and tragic migration of peoples, and it is a harsh lesson for all of us, including Europe.

I would like to stress refugees undoubtedly need our compassion and support. However, the — on the way to solve this problem at a fundamental level is to restore their statehood where it has been destroyed, to strengthen the government institutions where they still exist or are being reestablished, to provide comprehensive assistance of military, economic and material nature to countries in a difficult situation. And certainly, to those people who, despite all the ordeals, will not abandon their homes. Literally, any assistance to sovereign states can and must be offered rather than imposed exclusively and solely in accordance with the U.N. Charter.

In other words, everything in this field that has been done or will be done pursuant to the norms of international law must be supported by our organization. Everything that contravenes the U.N. Charter must be rejected. Above all, I believe it is of the utmost importance to help restore government’s institutions in Libya, support the new government of Iraq and provide comprehensive assistance to the legitimate government of Syria.

Dear colleagues, ensuring peace and regional and global stability remains the key objective of the international community with the U.N. at its helm. We believe this means creating a space of equal and indivisible security, which is not for the select few but for everyone. Yet, it is a challenge and complicated and time-consuming task, but there is simply no other alternative. However, the bloc thinking of the times of the Cold War and the desire to explore new geopolitical areas is still present among some of our colleagues.

First, they continue their policy of expanding NATO. What for? If the Warsaw Bloc stopped its existence, the Soviet Union have collapsed (ph) and, nevertheless, the NATO continues expanding as well as its military infrastructure. Then they offered the poor Soviet countries a false choice: either to be with the West or with the East. Sooner or later, this logic of confrontation was bound to spark off a grave geopolitical crisis. This is exactly what happened in Ukraine, where the discontent of population with the current authorities was used and the military coup was orchestrated from outside — that triggered a civil war as a result.

We’re confident that only through full and faithful implementation of the Minsk agreements of February 12th, 2015, can we put an end to the bloodshed and find a way out of the deadlock. Ukraine’s territorial integrity cannot be ensured by threat of force and force of arms. What is needed is a genuine consideration for the interests and rights of the people in the Donbas region and respect for their choice. There is a need to coordinate with them as provided for by the Minsk agreements, the key elements of the country’s political structure. These steps will guarantee that Ukraine will develop as a civilized society, as an essential link and building a common space of security and economic cooperation, both in Europe and in Eurasia.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have mentioned these common space of economic cooperation on purpose. Not long ago, it seemed that in the economic sphere, with its objective market loss, we would launch a leaf (ph) without dividing lines. We would build on transparent and jointly formulated rules, including the WTO principles, stipulating the freedom of trade, and investment and open competition.

Nevertheless, today, unilateral sanctions circumventing the U.N. Charter have become commonplace, in addition to pursuing political objectives. The sanctions serve as a means of eliminating competitors.

I would like to point out another sign of a growing economic selfishness. Some countries [have] chosen to create closed economic associations, with the establishment being negotiated behind the scenes, in secret from those countries’ own citizens, the general public, business community and from other countries.

Other states whose interests may be affected are not informed of anything, either. It seems that we are about to be faced with an accomplished fact that the rules of the game have been changed in favor of a narrow group of the privileged, with the WTO having no say. This could unbalance the trade system completely and disintegrate the global economic space.

These issues affect the interest of all states and influence the future of the world economy as a whole. That is why we propose discussing them within the U.N. WTO NGO (ph) ’20.

Contrary to the policy of exclusiveness, Russia proposes harmonizing original economic projects. I refer to the so-called integration of integrations based on universal and transparent rules of international trade. As an example, I would like to cite our plans to interconnect the Eurasian economic union, and China’s initiative of the Silk Road economic belt.

We still believe that harmonizing the integration processes within the Eurasian Economic Union and the European Union is highly promising.

Ladies and gentlemen, the issues that affect the future of all people include the challenge of global climate change. It is in our interest to make the U.N. Climate Change Conference to be held in December in Paris a success.

As part of our national contribution, we plan to reduce by 2030 the greenhouse emissions to 70, 75 percent of the 1990 level.

I suggest, however, we should take a wider view on this issue. Yes, we might defuse the problem for a while, by setting quotas on harmful emissions or by taking other measures that are nothing but tactical. But we will not solve it that way. We need a completely different approach.

We have to focus on introducing fundamental and new technologies inspired by nature, which would not damage the environment, but would be in harmony with it. Also, that would allow us to restore the balance upset by biosphere and technosphere (ph) upset by human activities.

It is indeed a challenge of planetary scope, but I’m confident that humankind has intellectual potential to address it. We need to join our efforts. I refer, first of all, to the states that have a solid research basis and have made significant advances in fundamental science.

We propose convening a special forum under the U.N. auspices for a comprehensive consideration of the issues related to the depletion of natural resources, destruction of habitat and climate change.

Russia would be ready to co-sponsor such a forum.

Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues, it was on the 10th of January, 1946, in London that the U.N. General Assembly gathered for its first session.

Mr. Suleta (ph) (inaudible), a Colombian diplomat and the chairman of the Preparatory Commission, opened the session by giving, I believe, a concise definition of the basic principles that the U.N. should follow in its activities, which are free will, defiance of scheming and trickery and spirit of cooperation.

Today, his words sound as a guidance for all of us. Russia believes in the huge potential of the United Nations, which should help us avoid a new global confrontation and engage in strategic cooperation. Together with other countries, we will consistently work towards strengthening the central coordinating role of the U.N. I’m confident that by working together, we will make the world stable and safe, as well as provide conditions for the development of all states and nations.

Thank you.




14 responses to “Putin’s UN address: “Do you realise what you’ve done?”

  1. David Fierstien

    In an alternate universe, the U.S. declared Civil War on itself in the 1990s and split into several factions. The Soviet Union remained intact.

    At the recent U.N. General Assembly, Barack Obama, President of the Collective North East District States spoke about those at the top of the global pyramid of power; a not-so-subtle jab at the U.S.S.R., and how its interference and greed had led to vacuums in several parts of the world which had allowed terrorists to flourish.

    Touching on a similar subject, President Vladimir Putin spoke about the U.S.S.R.’s continued support of global human rights and asked the world to join it its fight against the common threat of Islamic terrorism.

    Meanwhile, in this universe, Vladimir Putin put the U.S. on notice, vowing that its war planes would defend Syrian President Assad’s regime and warned against U.S. interference.


  2. I can’t see the point you are making, David. Perhaps dressing it up in an anti-factual alternative universe has just made it too obscure.

    There are clearly two different approaches on display. I think people are starting to agree that the US approach has been a disaster. And we are now starting to see an alternative, kore legal, approach. Let’s hope it will be successful – and maybe even lead to the anti-terrorist coalition similar to the anti-Nazi coalition of WWII that Putin referred to. There seems to have been the beginnings of this with the Obama-Putin meeting.



  3. David Fierstien

    Ken, admittedly I only went over Putin’s address once, and haven’t completely gone over Obama’s address.

    My point is that Putin appeared, in a few instances, to be whining about the fact that the USSR / now Russia is no longer at the top of the global pyramid. When I have more time I will provide clear examples of this. I reversed the roles of each nation. And let’s be honest here, if the USSR was on top, and the US was in the peripheral position of Russia, we wouldn’t be hearing the envious whining about the privileged select few. We would all (and by all, I mean Planet Earth) be getting screwed.

    Even from it’s underling, second class position, Russia is rattling is saber. How much worse would it be if Putin had more dominance over the planet?

    Again, let’s be honest here. Putin supports Assad because it gets oil from it’s ally, Iran – Islamic State, zealot / fanatic / persecutor of Baha’is. Putin has no commitment toward human rights.


  4. I am always amazed at the number of people who claim to be able to read Putin’s mind – but always ignore what he says.

    Both Putin and Lavrov have made it clear they have no particular attachment to Assad (and why the hell should any political realist be attached to any leader). And they have repeated that in the last few days. However, they do not want to see another tragedy like Iraq and Iran (which the US seems happy to create in Syria). They have supported attempts to get a political settlement in Syria – the attempts between the Assad government and the opposition have been going on for several years in the Geneva and Moscow meetings. I saw today a comment from a Czech leader that he thinks the current Geneva meeting will come up with a ceasefire and agreement on transition.

    Surely such a political settlement is far more preferable to the anarchy in Lybia. The US and NATO created that, they welcomed the murder of Gaddafi and the destruction of order in the country – declaring that democracy had come to Libya – then they went quiet and concentrated on Syria.

    I find it disgusting that Kerry and the Saudi leaders can talk about regime change in Syria – or any other country – as if it was normal politics.Surely the question of government is a matter for the people of the country – not powers like the USA and Saudi Arabia (who, after all, have meany features to be ashamed of).

    Terrorism is a problem for the whole world – least of all Russia who have to face the fact that over 2000 of their own citizens are fighting with terrorists in Syria. Russia also has faced internal terrorism in Chechnya and the Caucuses – they don’t want these people coming back and adding to it. (Incidentally, countries like the UK and USA saw those terrorists as legitimate opposition – even freedom fighters – and often gave leading terrorists political asylum. Perhaps the Boston bombers would not have had such an opportunity if the USA had been more honest in its attitude).

    I am not claiming that Putin has a commitment to human rights any more than Obama has. Politicians are a cynical lot. But, at least in this situation, he is follwing international law. The legitimate Syrian government has asked for assistance and the Russian federation has followed its own law about the commitment of the forces to overseas action and been very careful to inform their international partners. (Dare I say that in this case Putin occupies the high moral ground – in contrast to politicians in the USA and NATO over their interference on foreign countries :-)).

    Your speculation on Putin wanting dominance over the planet is interesting. But what I pick up is that he continually rejects the concept of a unipolar or bipolar world. The talk seems to be instead that people prefer a multipolar set up where no country has the sort of sole superpowers status the US has pursued over the last 25 years and which has caused so many disasters.

    I think this is own of the reason Putin is currently so popular. He of course could have wider ambitions – if so I certainly hope he doesn’t succeed. But I think the current determining international role of the US has to change. People don’t want it any more.


  5. David Fierstien

    So much to work with here, but it’s late here and I need to get to bed. However, before I do, your quote: “But what I pick up is that he continually rejects the concept of a unipolar or bipolar world.”

    In my alternate universe, where the USSR was at the top of the global pyramid, he had no problems with it. Really, do you honestly believe that if Russia was the sole superpower on Earth, Putin would be complaining about those select few at the top? Honestly?

    And yes, I will readily concede that the U.S. has made catastrophic foreign policy decisions backed by it’s position as sole superpower. The 2003 Invasion of Iraq comes to mind.

    And again, the U.S. has indeed taken advantage of its position at the expense of, for example, the people of the Philippines under Marcos. As a U.S. citizen, I apologize, but we got a lot of cheap sugar and we are now obese and our teeth are falling out. Karma.

    Let me take time to review Obama’s speech and Putin’s again before I continue. The remarks I have made are merely first impressions. I really want to get a firm grasp on this before I go on.

    One thing, however. Your quote: “Chechnya and the Caucuses – they don’t want these people coming back and adding to it. (Incidentally, countries like the UK and USA saw those terrorists as legitimate opposition”

    I don’t believe that is entirely true. From what I recall, the U.S. media portrayed the Russians as legitimate victims of Chechnyan terrorists. I think I can find some examples of that for you. More tomorrow.


  6. I am not sure that the USSR was ever at the “top of the global pyramid.” If they were it was very strange they decided to give up the struggle and disband.

    But I really don’t see the value in using your fictional alternative universe to discuss the current world situation so it is no good asking me if I “honestly believe . . . ” about such an unreal situation. After all, I am not attempting to idolise the man or claim he is perfect, by any means.

    Surely a good leader has to deal with the real world situation – and the multipolar option does seem to have a lot of support.

    I am sure you will find US media comments acknowledging the terrorist nature fo the Chechnyian and Caucus rebels – it would be hard not to consider the Beslan tragedy and the assassination of Bors Nemsov in that way. But there has been an unfortunate habit in the UK and USA to give political refuge to criminals from Russia – include terrorists. (Yes, I know some in the US will see the refuge given to Snowden in the same light). And I am sure it would not be hard to dig out news reports presenting these terrorists as freedom fighters, either.


  7. And yes, I will readily concede that the U.S. has made catastrophic foreign policy decisions backed by it’s position as sole superpower. The 2003 Invasion of Iraq comes to mind.

    Why limit it to post-1990?

    The following have all been examples of appalling US foreign policy

    El Salvador
    In fact just about every country the USA has interfered with post WW2.

    The US has put more military boots on more patches foreign soil in past 70 years than Russia has in 500 years.


  8. David Fierstien

    Ken, your quote: “I am not sure that the USSR was ever at the “top of the global pyramid.”

    Answer: I meant they were one of two global superpowers.

    Richard, you are taking a concession that I made and running away with it.

    Cambodia? How in the hell can you blame the U.S. for the genocide under Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime? I’m sure you’ll find a way.

    Somalia? It was a catastrophe long before the U.S. was there. The U.S. was there to assist with food distribution.

    Viet Nam? Why don’t you blame the French for that one?

    Israel? Yes. Actually I completely agree with you. In my opinion, Truman was to blame.

    Philippines? Yes. I made that concession in an earlier comment.

    Afghanistan? The graveyard of empires. Was not the Soviet Union interfering in Afghanistan long before the U.S. was there? And was that not a catastrophe? Was not Britain . . . also . . .

    Grenada? Seriously? What a horrible calamity that country is today. Because of all the upheaval and political turmoil I can’t understand why it is such a desired Tourist Destination? That 2-and-a-half day war, where, I don’t know, maybe 3 Cubans were killed, really screwed everything up didn’t it.

    Cuba? That is debatable. I think we would also have to include the Soviet Union if we are to play the blame game

    Chile . . Yeah, maybe.

    Libya? What a coincidence. Ken was just talking about countries that harbor criminals.

    Ukraine? That discussion is for another time.

    El Salvador / Nicaragua? That was Reagan. That wasn’t the U.S. But, yes, much of what Reagan did was inappropriate.

    Since we’re talking about Obama here, I can’t believe you didn’t include Pakistan, you know, when the U.S. invaded it on May 2, 2011, shortly after 1:00 am PKT

    I think we can call much of your comment “revisionist history.”


  9. David, I’m never ceased to be amazed at how blind so many US citizens are to their country’s appalling foreign relations record and war-mongering.
    Most of your reply amounts to “it was already broken before we got there” which doesn’t justify or excuse anything, certainly not inflaming any problem which was often the outcome.

    But the one I really love is “That was Reagan. That wasn’t the U.S. “

    Liked by 1 person

  10. David Fierstien

    Thank you, Richard. “That was Reagan. That wasn’t the U.S.” I am glad you appreciated that.

    You’ve never been in the home of a U.S. conservative. In many of them you will see a photo of Ronald Reagan above the mantle on the fireplace, like was Jesus. Frankly, that makes me want to puke. You listed Nicaragua & El Salvador in your list of U.S. atrocities. That wasn’t even Reagan. He was asleep at the wheel during those times. That was Oliver North, an infinitesimally small little prick who lied to congress who has become a conservative hero.

    But this business about blaming the U.S. for every bullshit spot on earth is ridiculous. The USSR was screwing up Afghanistan long before the U.S. got there. Yes, it was broken before we got there. At the time, Putin was the head of the KGB. Blame the US for troubled spots on the planet. That’s ok. But get real about it.

    I will be the first to accuse my country of the atrocities it has committed. My Lai. But why limit it to the 20th Century? The man whose portrait is on our $20 bill was guilty of genocide. I won’t sugar coat it. But here’s the thing: I like to believe we are slowly learning.

    You listed Afghanistan among your litany of “US screw-ups.” If you don’t know why the U.S. was there you haven’t been paying attention. I spent 4 years in Afghanistan, doing my part, to fuck the world’s biggest assholes since 1945. And I’m proud to wear the shrapnel that they put in me.

    Put the Taliban at the top of the Global Pyramid and I guarantee you whatever non-sharia-authorized liberties you now enjoy would be the reason for your crucifixion. Apostasy, punishable by death. Pursuit of intellectualism, gay rights, women’s rights, where do I stop.

    Please, give the Taliban the global position that the U.S. currently holds and you will wax nostalgically for those days when you could bitch, with complete freedom from fear of persecution, that you currently enjoy.


  11. David Fierstien

    Well ok. I have gone through Vladimir Putin’s speech twice now, and Barack Obama’s speech once. There are stark differences on a fundamental level; differences which can readily be seen in one particular phenomenon.

    Both men spoke about the threat of global terrorism, the sources of its existence, and solutions to the problem. Obama looked at the problem from the bottom up, a more basic approach. Putin, on the other hand, looked at it from the top down. Obama laid the blame on rights being denied the to the individual. Putin laid the blame on larger governments exploiting political turmoil.

    In Obama’s view the rights and full potential of the individual must be the priority. When a nation supports those rights, and fully exploits the talents of each individual, that nation becomes stronger. Theoretically, in such a nation terrorist ideology is not given the fertile ground it needs to thrive.

    Putin blames the interference of outside nations for creating turmoil, a breeding ground for chaos and terror.

    Let’s take a look at what each man says.

    Putin: “Tens of thousands of militants are fighting under the banners of the so-called Islamic State. Its ranks include former Iraqi servicemen who were thrown out into the street after the invasion of Iraq in 2003.” – And there may be some validity to that claim.

    “I cannot help asking those who have caused the situation, do you realize now what you’ve done?”

    “Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social disaster. Nobody cares a bit about human rights, including the right to life.”

    And then he focuses on Syria: “We think it is an enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government and its armed forces, who are valiantly fighting terrorism face to face. We should finally acknowledge that no one but President Assad’s armed forces and Kurds (ph) militias are truly fighting the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations in Syria. .”

    Now Obama, blaming the repression of the individual which is a more basic and fundamental approach:

    “The strength of nations depends on the success of their people — their knowledge, their innovation, their imagination, their creativity, their drive, their opportunity — and that, in turn, depends upon individual rights and good governance and personal security. Internal repression and foreign aggression are both symptoms of the failure to provide this foundation.”

    “I believe in my core that repression cannot forge the social cohesion for nations to succeed. The history of the last two decades proves that in today’s world, dictatorships are unstable. The strongmen of today become the spark of revolution tomorrow. You can jail your opponents, but you can’t imprison ideas.”

    “Today, we see the collapse of strongmen and fragile states breeding conflict, and driving innocent men, women and children across borders on an epoch scale. Brutal networks of terror have stepped into the vacuum.”

    And then he focuses on Syria:

    “We see an erosion of the democratic principles and human rights that are fundamental to this institution’s mission; information is strictly controlled, the space for civil society restricted. We’re told that such retrenchment is required to beat back disorder; that it’s the only way to stamp out terrorism, or prevent foreign meddling. In accordance with this logic, we should support tyrants like Bashar al-Assad, who drops barrel bombs to massacre innocent children, because the alternative is surely worse.”

    “Nowhere is our commitment to international order more tested than in Syria. When a dictator slaughters tens of thousands of his own people, that is not just a matter of one nation’s internal affairs — it breeds human suffering on an order of magnitude that affects us all.”

    And finally:

    “Let’s remember how this started. Assad reacted to peaceful protests by escalating repression and killing that, in turn, created the environment for the current strife. And so Assad and his allies cannot simply pacify the broad majority of a population who have been brutalized by chemical weapons and indiscriminate bombing.”

    Putin blames the U.S. Obama blames the repressive Assad regime itself. Putin’s view is “trickle down.” Obama’s is “grass roots up.”


  12. David – interesting contrast – “bottom up” and “top down.”

    While the “top down” approach may seem to avoid humanitarian issues there is a real problem with Obama’s reliance on humanitarian arguments. That is the widespread perception that it is hypocritical.

    The US is well known for their hypocritical support of dictators – “He may be a son of a bitch, but he is our son of a bitch!”

    So even the casual reader asks – “then why are you not attempting regime change in Saudi Arabia?”

    The humanitarian arguments are of course persuasive (they certainly persuaded me for a while). And they have been used to justify the US role, as the sole superpower, of intervention since the end of the cold war. But I think people are now seeing through this for 2 reasons:

    1: It is cynical because it is selective (eg Saudi Arabia);
    2: The result has been a disaster (Hence Putin’s “Do you realise what you have done?” – and that strikes a chord with people).

    It seems to me that Putin, Lavrov, etc., have a more realist approach. Well, I am sure the US approach is also realist and it serves US interests – but it is hypocritically cloaked in one-sided humanitarian arguments). The Russian leaders seem to be saying that regimes like Assad’s are bad, they must go, but that is the job of the people in that country (The Russians have been very supportive of diplomatic efforts to get a ceasefire and new transitional government). Interventions of the sort we have seen with Iraq, Libya – and now Syria – have just created an even worse situation. They did not provide for future arrangements (one could be excused for thinking they preferred th anarchy of Iraq and Libya to a realistic new government). And they were illegal, anyway.

    I am amazed that we now have a situation where US and Saudi leaders (and yes until recently many EU leaders) have insisted, from the outside, that a leader must go – irrespective of what the people of the country want – and have attempted to intervene militarily to achieve that. I am further amazed that even after having been prevented from intervening by the democratic actions and institutions of their own countries they can still talk about intervening and attempt to do so. The US, UK, French and Turkish bombings in Syrian (without the agreement of the existing legitimate government there) surely violates the expressed wishes of the people in those countries. And the motives for this action cannot be trusted. The Turks have been going after the Kurds – and we all know that the US would love to be bombing Syrian government installations – and may already be doing it.

    Many people have been very suspicious of the US connections with Syrian rebels and their close connections with terrorist groups. I think most people feel that the US bombing has not been at all effective in limiting ISIS and fellow terrorist advances in Syria and Iraq. It is early days yet, but the Russian bombing seems to be more effective in hitting terrorist targets and has the advantage of being legal and coordinated with other countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran) and their forces on the ground.

    Seems like things are moving very fast after these two UN speeches – but the speeches at least illustrate two different approaches. WE already know one approach has been a disaster – I just hope the other approach will be more successful – for all our sakes.


  13. David Fierstien

    “WE already know one approach has been a disaster.” The U.S. approach. Obama certainly acknowledged that in his speech. He has always been very critical of what the U.S. did in Iraq in 2003.

    When he was elected, I was very disappointed that he didn’t try to prosecute Bush & Rumsfeld for lying to the world about WMD. Before that war, Donald Rumsfeld said, “We know where the weapons of mass destruction are. They’re in the Tikrit area.” When U.N. Inspectors were in Iraq, after Bush said he would only resort to war as a last resort, I had to ask – why doesn’t the Bush Administration tell the U.N. inspectors where these weapons are. Instead, Bush told the U.N. to get their people out of there, we’re coming in.

    But I think it would have been bad for the country, and particularly those U.S. servicemen, in whose eyes Bush looked, and lied, and said, “This is a just war.”

    Saddam Hussein was Reagan’s son-of-a-bitch. He used Iraq to curb Iran’s expansion. (It was impossible to root for a “good guy” in that war.) Iran’s “Fountain of Blood” in Tehran underscores the obscene ideological mentality at play, Shia patriotism was used to kill Iran’s people, many of whom were children who were given plastic keys to the Kingdom, sent to their deaths to spend Iraqi ammunition.

    Saddam Hussein is the classic example of Frankenstein’s monster gone bad. The U.S. created the monster, then it had to kill it.

    Osama bin Laden, formerly of the Mujaheddin which valiantly fought against the invading USSR in Afghanistan . .

    But now we have Obama and Assad. And you rightly point out, “So even the casual reader asks – “then why are you not attempting regime change in Saudi Arabia?”” I think the superficial answer is, “For the same reason that Russia supports Assad. Oil.” Assad of course is a close ally, both politically & (and to a lesser extent) religiously, of an oil rich country with which Russia has close ties.

    It does seem hypocritical, doesn’t it. Saudi Arabia is not exactly the gold standard of human rights. And frankly, you are right. Obama should be all over them. Maybe the answer is that they haven’t crossed that line yet. They haven’t started killing their own people at that same level. If that ever happens, God forbid, we shall see. Under those circumstances, I would like to see the U.S. step in, Inshallah.

    “I am amazed that we now have a situation where US and Saudi leaders (and yes until recently many EU leaders) have insisted, from the outside, that a leader must go – irrespective of what the people of the country want – and have attempted to intervene militarily to achieve that.”

    I think there are a few things wrong with that observation. Support the “legitimate government” if you will, but Syria isn’t exactly a bastion of democracy. What do the people want? Who knows. This isn’t a country where you can take a poll and find out.This isn’t a country where free speech reigns and opposing ideas co-mingle and flower like the mythical Utopian Atlantis. People risk death when they speak their minds. People risk war when they take action. And to my knowledge, The U.S. hasn’t taken direct military action against the Assad regime.

    It’s a shame that Obama wears the same brand as Reagan & Bush, and Andrew Jackson for that matter. In my opinion he is a completely different animal. Looking at Putin’s speech, in contrast to Obama’s, I do see Putin looking back and drawing from the way things have always been; whereas, I see Obama looking to the future, toward the way things can be.


  14. David, you seem to miss many of my points.

    I am not in the business of supporting Assad – or any political leader. But I am in the business of criticising illegal intervention that the US has been practising under a humanitarian guise for these years. I strongly believe that the secular regimes in the middle east (despite being preferable to the current extreme alternatives) need reformation. They need more democracy. But that is a matter for those countries and their people – not for me or the US (or Obama). The cynical intervention of the sort carried out in Iraq and Libya will, of course, have the same result in Syria if the US and NATO are allowed to succeed. So, on this issue I support Putin’s legal intervention. It will (hopefully) prevent the anarchy the US and NATO seem, to be working for. And, if successful, it will provide conditions more favourable to a proper beneficial political change.

    Such political changes must take account of the real political, social, ideological and religious conditions withing the country – certainly they should not be carried out in the interests or whims of the US nor any other interfering power.

    I have to ask, David, why the US is not putting more effort into the political and diplomatic efforts in Moscow and Geneva to bring about a ceasefire and ordered political change in Syria? Why do they insist that their wishes “Assad must go” prevail, rather than the wishes of the relevant political forces within the country (which may see an interim role for Assad) should prevail? Isn’t that a major reason that the US is currently losing in the face of world opinion?

    Let’s not get confused by perception of Obama as a man and leader. Like many people I welcomed his election. I have supported him from afar. But, also like many people, I am disappointed that the original hopes for Obama have in so many areas been dashed. I think the US political system is far from democratic. It enabled Obama to be captured by the neocons – in fact, he just couldn’t realistically stand up to them. Many of us believed he could have been assassinated if he had persisted with policies we imagined he supported.

    And seriously, if all Obama can suggest for Syria is that Assad “must go” (because the US wants him to go – not for human rights issues), with the clear idea that the US and NATO would like to do this by military intervention, and that he is prepared to accept the inevitable result of that strategy illustrated by Iraq and Libya, then he is hardly looking to a future you or I should support.

    Sure, things can be that way – but I hope not. I hope that the Russian air attacks, together with attacks from ground forces of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Iran, will weaken the opposition terrorists forces significantly and lead to their defeat. That will then make a ceasefire with the legitimate opposition, and some sort of acceptable reformation of the political situation (with or without Assad) possible. Frankly, that is the future I prefer.


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