- - Tuesday, November 24, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It’s been a couple of weeks that shook the world — a world that watched in horror a series of tragic acts in Russia, Lebanon, France, Nigeria, Mali, and other places perpetrated by terrorist organizations. ISIS and Al-Qaeda claimed to have carried out these atrocities, and the claim does not seem to be spurious.

The most obvious conclusion to be drawn from these horrific acts is that in the terrorist’s philosophy anyone opposed to a future radical Islamist World Caliphate is to be destroyed and wiped off the face of the earth. What happened in Paris will also be the fate of Washington, New York, and other cities around the world, say the Islamists, and no doubt that threat is real enough.

This means that East and West must pool their forces and in turn annihilate their common enemy. Anyone cognizant with basic facts about Islamist terrorism is certain to view Russia as the most invaluable ally in the fight against that evil — simply because Russia has had more experience in dealing with the threat from this quarter. After all, it has had a sort of Islamist state Chechnya on its territory in the 90s which is now one of the most prosperous and peaceable entities of the Russian Federation; its population strictly adheres to the tenets of traditional Islam implacably opposed to fanaticism and radicalism.

Having experienced a spate of terrorist attacks in a number of its cities on a much greater scale than the latest massacre in Paris – Russia has learned to cope with this threat, as far as it is humanly possible.

Presently its air force unit in Latakia and cruise missiles from other points has done more in a few weeks to crush the military infrastructure and generally the military potential of ISIS than the U.S.-led coalition forces in the area achieved in almost eighteen months.

Cooperation with Russia in beating back the tide of terrorism simply begs to be put into reality, and certain moves — alas, merely on the level of vague statements of intent and rhetoric — are currently being made. What stands in the way of vigorous implementation of such cooperation is Washington’s inertia that may be summed up in its attitude toward two figures — Putin and Assad.

The inertia is great indeed, especially regarding Putin. Billions of dollars have been spent by politicians and the media on demonizing Russia’s president as the embodiment of all evil. Why? Explanations may vary, but the Russian people believe it is simply because Putin stands up for his country’s national interests; refuses to follow Western dictates; objects to NATO expansion to Russia’s borders; helped Crimea and Donbass, where ethnic Russians make up most of the population, in their opposition to the coup in Kiev sponsored by the West, and so on.

The US and EU may have different positions on all these points. The question is, though: are these differences greater than those between Roosevelt and Churchill, on the one hand, and Stalin, that proponent of the world proletarian revolution, on the other? Surely the West and Russia can form an anti-Islamist coalition, just as they were allies in the war on Nazism. The parallel is all too obvious and convincing to any unprejudiced mind — and yet Putin’s repeated offers to join forces in a world-wide coalition are senselessly rebuffed. Well, maybe the latest Paris atrocity will produce a highly desirable change in the minds of Western political classes. One sign of this shift is French President Hollande’s decision to play at a sort of shuttle diplomacy, consulting first Obama, then going to Moscow to discuss things with Putin. Bravo, Monsieur le President.

As for Bashar al-Assad, no question he is a dictator in the same league as Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qaddafi, Hosni Mubarak — all of them definitely not pleasant fellows who became the victims of “democracy promotion,” that Neoconnish (a la Trotsky’s strategy communism promotion) covering up naked lust for power over the whole world. In the Middle East, this democracy march left hundreds of thousands dead and wounded, including brave American men and woman, and millions displaced. That’s unimaginably worse than what all these dictators have committed. In addition, trillions of US taxpayer dollars have been spent, with the most visible result being the chaos, devastation and rise of many terrorist groups.

It is interesting to note that even so loyal a friend of America as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has admitted that G.W. Bush’s invasion in Iraq (with Tony’s enthusiastic support) contributed to the rise of terrorism throughout the world. George’s brother Jeb once said that “taking out Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal.” But he has now changed his mind and also says that it was a mistake. Even their father admits the same but conveniently shifts the blame from his son to Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

Historians will eventually sort out who is to blame for this monumental disaster but the most important thing is to figure out what to do now. One thing is certain, we need a real and not the current 60+ fake anti-terror coalition which includes such dubious “democracy promoters” as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. Are we sure on whose side they are fighting? 

Obama should support Hollande’s initiative to welcome Russia as a partner and urge other willing nations to join the coalition whose members are committed to real deeds and not just empty rhetoric.

As for Syria, the most logical way is first to wipe out the terrorist groups and bring peace to that land with a millennia-long history. Then let its people be free to elect their government without foreign interference. In case some folks have not noticed, World War III is already on. It’s a non-classical war as its main weapon is terror unleashed on peaceful citizens by suicidal fanatics, and unless all civilized nations pledge to defeat this enemy through a concerted effort of both East and West, the threat of terror will be ever present in every corner of the world.

Edward Lozansky is President of the American University in Moscow.

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