Sunday, January 17, 2016

The (Mis)Adventures of Vladdipus Rex, Episode 60 & 61


The (Mis)Adventures of Vladdipus Rex, Episode 60 – Snakes on a Plane: And so it happens, dear reader, that in a world growing more delirious by the day, the day came when Russia was accused of deliberately targeting civilians in Syria. Indeed, the “UK foreign secretary condemns tactics of Russian pilots, saying they are running return raids on targets to hit rescue workers.” But having allowed things to deteriorate to this point, what can a UK or a US do but accuse and condemn and keep turning their backs on it all hoping that it could all somehow go away on its own? Yet, and as the old saying goes: when you start by wringing your hands you end by chewing your fingers.

The (Mis)Adventures of Vladdipus Rex, Episode 61 – The Secret Clause: For it comes to mind, dear reader, as one hears of the secret clause embedded in the treaty that King Vlad The Clutch signed so many months ago with his Syrian counterpart President Assad The Pug, that not too long ago after the signing a certain prodemocracy activist, known for the irreverent style and intuitive nature of his analysis, made the following two assertions/predictions. The first explained the nature of Vladdipus Rex’s (mis)adventure in Syria as follows:

…the real reason behind Putin’s move into Syria is not any sort of values affinity with Assad. Putin is here repeating what he previously did in Crimea and is still trying to do in Eastern Ukraine: take over and secure a territory that holds strategic significance for Russia. Russia has for long maintained a military base in the coastal city of Tartus, one which it updated and modernized shortly before the onset of the Syrian Revolution in March 2011.

This newest venture is not simply about safeguarding this base. Now that the Obama Administration has repeatedly shown how strongly it is committed to minimizing America’s military footprint in the world, Mr. Putin sees an opportunity for expanding and strengthening Russia’s presence along the Mediterranean, and for ensuring that the future of that presence is not dependent on anyone’s goodwill but is assured through Russian military might.

The second warned of the consequences that Vladdie The High Roller had to contend with:

Still, there will be long-term repercussions for Putin in Russia as a result of his adventure in Syria. Everything from car bombings or lone wolf attacks in Moscow and St. Petersburg and wherever Russia has a presence abroad, to full-scale rebellions in certain Muslim-majority provinces and republics within the Russian Federation could be on the menu. But these potential developments are not things about which Putin seems to be worried at this early stage: the prize he is after seems to be worth the risk for him. It is here where he could be miscalculating.

Now, with the bombing of the Russian plane over Sinai behind us, and with these new revelations before us, dear reader, we have to acknowledge that Syria has been bought and sold with an official contract and lies now under Russian hegemony until Russia wishes otherwise. For while the document theoretically allows for Assad the Fickle to ask for termination of the contract, given Vladdie one year to comply, the latter’s fondness of Polonialism (See The Deliricon under P) could mute such an eventuality.

Among other revelations in the seven-page contract dated Aug. 26, 2015, the Kremlin has made an open-ended time commitment to its military deployment in Syria, and either side can terminate it with a year’s notice.
Russian military personnel and shipments can pass in and out of Syria at will and aren’t subject to controls by Syrian authorities, the document says. Syrians can’t enter Russian bases without Russia’s permission. And Russia disclaims any responsibility for damage caused by its activities inside Syria. 

Beyond Syria, there is a world of opportunities waiting to clutched. And the High Falutin Platyputin is preparing for that. Oh yes, he is. With “three new divisions on Russia’s western flank with Europe, and… five nuclear missile regimens ready for combat duty this year,” Europe beware.

The decades when we thought of Europe as stable, predictable and dull are over. The continent’s map is becoming medieval again, if not yet in its boundaries then at least in its political attitudes and allegiances. The question today is whether the EU can still hope to permanently replace the multicultural Habsburg Empire, which for centuries sprawled across Central and Eastern Europe and sheltered its various minorities and interests. The answer will depend not only on what Europe itself does but also on what the U.S. chooses to do. Geography is a challenge, not a fate.

Turkey better beware as well: Putin Looks for Regime Change in Turkey.

First, it imposed economic sanctions. Then it attacked Erdogan’s inner circle, including in the media his son Bilal, accusing them of trading oil with Islamic State. And in the ultimate gesture of hostility, Russia invited Selahattin Demirtas, leader of Turkey’s Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, or HDP, to Moscow… So Putin just very publicly took sides in Turkey’s civil war, much as he feels Western countries did during Russia’s Chechen wars…

As with the U.S. sanctions policy towards Russia, Putin probably hasn’t set a goal of toppling Erdogan from power any time soon. For the foreseeable future, the Turkish strongman is as safely entrenched in office as is Putin. Like the U.S., though, Putin seems to have dug in for a long-term policy of sapping Turkey’s economy and undermining Erdogan politically. What isn’t clear is whether the goal is to teach the U.S. and its allies to mend their ways, or to split them over whether to defend NATO ally Turkey, or to join Russia in distancing themselves from its increasingly authoritarian Islamist government.