“The greatest warrior is not he who wins every battle. The most excellent warrior is he who wins without fighting.”
– Sun Tzu, The Art of War, 600 B.C.
I have read The Art of War many times, and you can bet that Vladimir Putin has too. I found the quote above to be the most important maxim in that masterpiece, and I think Putin would agree. And when the “fighting” could potentially lead to the 3rd World War and the extinction of Humanity, then to avoid fighting becomes as important as avoiding defeat, because the 3rd World War is a war no one will win. Once it starts, we all lose. And so far, it is Putin who has prevented the war from starting.
The recent criticism of Vladimir Putin for “betraying” Syria or the Donbass Republics or even Russia itself is as impudent as it is misguided, and it comes from the usual collection of armchair warriors and self-styled pundits who actually seem to think they know more about geopolitics than Vladimir Putin does.
They seem to fail to understand that war requires sacrifices, as well as deception, and that perhaps all may not be exactly as they think it is. They also fail to understand that preventing war sometimes requires distasteful compromises. These self-appointed critics and “strategists” should look at the results of Putin’s work, rather than be confused by their amateur interpretation of how he accomplishes it. And they should keep in mind the fact that Putin’s objectives may not be the same as their own, and that it is always easy to talk when you have no skin in the game.
Let’s start with the recent words of “The Saker”, aka Andrei Raevski, an alleged “Pro-Russian analyst” who is “personally bitterly disappointed” by the nomination of Dmitri Medvedev as Prime Minister. He goes on to quote a comment he read on Youtube – “Putin betrayed the people, we didn’t vote for Medvedev”. While the second part of the comment is technically correct, it is the parliament, not the people, who votes for or against the President’s nominee, the “Putin betrayed the people” lie is straight off the Strelkov/Suchan/5th column troll farm.
Note that The Saker doesn’t actually say it himself, but by quoting an anonymous comment off Youtube, he does actually say it himself, and then our illustrious analyst goes on to say he is “afraid” it’s going to be a “very widely shared feeling”. As he himself shares it as widely as he can. It is not a feeling shared by those with any sense or any skin in the game, but perhaps among some of the credulous naifs who read and believe his drivel.
There are a number of legitimate explanations for Medvedev’s appointment, but The Saker “doesn’t buy any of them”. Or apparently even understand any of them. He then goes on to claim the appointment pours fuel on the fire of rumors that Putin will cave in on Syria and/or Donbass, even as he pours fuel on the fire of those rumors by spreading them himself.
He claims to be aware (as “we all” are) of “alarmist rumors circulating all over the internet about this for many days”, and goes on to say the nomination will strengthen these “very dangerous” rumors, even as he spreads and strengthens them himself. Is it treachery or idiocy? Either way, it’s anti-Russian propaganda by a White Russian immigrant who lives in the USA, and pretends to support Russia’s battle against US hegemony.
A calm and rational examination of the facts shows the above interpretation of Medvedev’s appointment to be baseless, melodramatic fear-mongering. The fact is, the Prime Minister, whose actual official title is “Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation”, serves at the pleasure of the President, and can be fired and replaced at the President’s discretion. The President may himself chair meetings of the Cabinet, may give obligatory orders to the PM, and may revoke any act of the government. The term “Prime Minister” is strictly informal and is actually never used in the Russian Constitution, federal laws or official documents.
The President has complete control of the PM. Putin is the immensely popular President, Medvedev is the unpopular PM who Putin appointed and can fire at any time. No need for fear or bitter disappointment. Or abject misinterpretation. What better way could Putin have to keep Medvedev on a short leash than to have him as PM under these conditions?
I am no fan of Medvedev or his oligarch clique, but Putin’s appointing him doesn’t mean that he is either. There is a well known quote that is from the book The Godfather – “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” The simple interpretation of this quote is “know your enemy”, but the much more profound meaning is that you don’t want your enemies to know that you are enemies. This vital distinction may be lost on some Russian voters, Youtube commenters and self-styled analysts who think they are qualified to advise and criticize the former KGB Colonel and current President of the Russian Federation, but I am quite certain that Putin himself understands it perfectly. So, only a fool or a liar would say “Putin betrayed Russia” by appointing Medvedev.
Sergey Kurginyan (the only Russian I trust and admire as much as Putin) pointed out that Putin has six years to complete the monumental tasks he has set for Russia, and realistically, he needs the Medvedev Bloc’s help. Their report card comes out two years from now. If they help, they stay, if they don’t, they get booted, all Russia sees it, and Putin sill has four more years to install a new team of oligarch hunters, and to do some hunting himself. And if you haven’t heard of Kurginyan or want to know where he stands on other huge questions facing Russia, check out this clip where he breaks down who Gorbachev really was, and what he was all about. His analysis is cutting. He’s no liberal, no bourgeois reformer.
If Putin did not betray Russia, what about Syria and the Donbass Republics? The quick, simple and obvious answer is that the fact that they still exist proves that he continues to support them and has not betrayed them in any way. The idea that Syria or the Republics could have survived without Putin’s support is laughable, and only an idiot could put forth such a proposition. Yet some do. They say that Putin has “betrayed” Syria by not responding to recent provocations and that Russian forces should have attacked US forces that are illegally in Syria after the US attack in which Russian contractors were killed.
The story about “500 Russians killed” is a lie. There were about 100 soldiers killed by the US air attack, mostly Syrian Army, with about 15 to 20 Wagner contractor/advisers. And unlike the various keyboard commandos who called for the start of WW3 over the incident , I actually know what happened. A friend of mine was there, and I have seen the video. Yes, it was a treacherous and underhanded attack by the US, knowing there were Russians among the Syrian soldiers, but this provocation is not worth risking a real world war over, is it? What kind of imbecile could possibly think it would be?
The same goes for Trump’s impotent and ridiculous missile attacks, and Israel’s as well. Yes, all these attacks were “allowed” by Russia, but Russia told both the US and Israel where they were, and were not, allowed to shoot, and both obeyed the Russian mandate. The cost of the attacks for the US was far greater than the destruction they imposed on Syria, and the Israelis probably just barely broke even. Enough Pyrrhic victories like these, and the US and Israel will defeat themselves. And Putin will stand aside and allow them to. He will win without fighting.
Of course, the Russians are fighting in Syria, against ISIS and other Western terrorist proxies, and they are winning. The US and Israeli attacks are absolutely meaningless in regards to the final outcome of the war, so why should Putin escalate? Putin and the Russian military have drawn their lines in the sand, and it is clear the US and their allies understand and respect them. If they are foolish enough to cross them, those who now call for war will soon be begging the Russians for peace. Yes, soldiers were killed, but they were not Russian soldiers or Bashar al Assad. And getting killed is a risk every soldier must face. It’s part of the job, and sometimes they must even be sacrificed. That too is part of the job. This is sometimes hard for keyboard commandos and those who have never been soldiers to understand. And they should refrain from commenting on things they don’t understand.
As for Putin’s “betrayal” by inviting Netanyahu to Moscow, yes, a rather disgusting sight considering Israel’s recent actions, but a very shrewd move, not “stupid” or a betrayal.
There’s a difference between bad optics, and bad moves. Bad optics can be a bad move, but there’s much more to reality than optics – much more than meets the eye. This is so basic, the expression itself is currency.
No doubt Netanyahu standing beside Putin made Trump, Poroshenko and Netanyahu nervous. Yes, Russia has again put the S-300 delivery to Syria on hold, but the sale and delivery of S-400’s to Turkey is still on schedule. Think about Erdogan calling for all Muslim countries to unite against Israel.
Erdogan truly is a megalomaniac, with dreams of being a new Salahudin and leading the ME, and a war against Israel makes him exactly that. And I doubt he’s forgotten about the US engineered coup attempt against him, and where Fetullah Gulen lives. But Turkey doesn’t even need the S-400’s. It’s still in NATO, so basically bulletproof from Israel, even from their nukes. Because if Israel gets into a shooting war with Turkey, it invokes Article 5, and either NATO has to go to war against Israel, or NATO falls apart, because if the US and EU NATO members don’t defend Turkey, how can they trust each other?
Either way, Putin wins without fighting. The more you think about it, the more you like it!
The same applies to those who say Putin “betrayed” Donbass. Take my word for it or figure it our for yourself. After four years of war, the Republics still stand.
While we certainly do have our problems, life has gotten better in every measurable way, and continues to, just as it has gotten continually worse in Ukraine. If not for Putin’s support, we would have been attacked and overwhelmed long ago. Putin has said these exact words – “If the Ukraine army overruns Donbass there will be a genocide of ethnic Russian people. We will not allow that.” What do you think he means, “We will not allow that”? I know, the people here know, the Ukrops and US military knows, and so far, they have not been suicidal enough to try it. Putin will never betray Donbass.
I’d bet my life on it. In fact, I do bet my life on it. Millions of us here do. And we know it. We respect and appreciate it. We are still here because he is with us. As long as the Republics exist, we are winning. Time is on our side, and just like NATO, the Kiev junta and Ukrop Nazis will eventually consume themselves. The Republics too, can win without fighting.
There are few men in history, much less alive today, who have the courage, the honor and the true genius of Vladimir Putin. Those who call themselves “pro-Russian” and use the words “Putin” and “betrayed” in the same sentence only prove themselves, without exception, to be either fools, or liars and traitors. Remember the lesson Girkin (“Strelkov”) taught us here in Donbass. A false comrade is a real enemy. As for the fools, they are not just wrong, they’re irrelevant. They blow wind about actions they don’t even understand. The dog barks, and the caravan moves on. What matters is the results. And the results speak for themselves. Things have gotten better in Syria, Donbass and Russia itself ever since Putin came along, he hasn’t betrayed anybody, and he’s not going anywhere till the job is done.
The job is to protect Russia, and protecting Syria and Donbass does protect Russia. It also prevents World War Three. And preventing World War Three protects us all. So far, Vladimir Putin has done it, and done it well. He is refusing to escalate, minimizing violence as long as his red lines are not crossed. And those lines have not yet been crossed. It is important for those who live under the regimes that make provocations and call for war to do whatever they can to prevent their governments from going too far and crossing those lines. We should all give Vladimir Putin a hand in trying to prevent World War Three. If we win without fighting, we all become most excellent warriors.