Streetwise Professor

January 29, 2012

An Unholy Alliance

Filed under: Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 10:26 am

Vladimir Putin is playing to form in his presidential run, throwing out anti-US red meat right and left:

He told students in Siberia on Wednesday that the United States “wants to control everything” and seeks to make other countries its “vassals,” not allies.

This evokes a subject I hope to return to in more detail.  Specifically, his remark has clearly Eurasianist (or Neo-Eurasianist) tones.  One metaphor commonly used in Eurasianism (new and old–I won’t try to distinguish that much between them) is that of the US as Athens (or Carthage) and Russia as Sparta (or Rome): a commercial, maritime empire dominating a collection of vassal tribute states arrayed against a traditional, continental society.

Putin’s evocations of this theme tend to coincide with crises in which Russian political stability is in jeopardy.  He made similar remarks after Beslan, for instance.  Today, there are two crises that feed Putin’s anxiety.  The first, of course, is the domestic political situation in Russia.  The second is the ongoing civil war in Syria.

Syria is a nation that Russia, and the USSR before it, has invested in heavily.  It is Russia’s last remaining ally in the Middle East.  It is the home of Russia’s only overseas base, Tartus, where the shambolic flotilla visited earlier this month.

Longtime ally Assad is under siege. Russia’s other longtime ally in the region, Khadaffy, is dead. Putin sees this all this as part of an Athenian-American plot to extend its dominance.  He sees the protests in Moscow as another manifestation of this relentless campaign.

As a result, Russia is going all in to protect Assad, despite the latter’s incredible brutality in fighting against the uprising:

Moscow has been busy drawing “red lines” as it comes under pressure to stop shielding its old ally Assad and to use its power as a veto-wielding U.N. Security Council member to push Damascus into ending the crackdown which has killed thousands of civilians.

Russia has erected a wall of noise, emphasizing it opposes sanctions against Syria – a major customer for its arms – and making clear it will block any attempt for the Council to endorse military intervention.

The latest test of Russia’s resolve, a new draft resolution backed by Western and Arab powers led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, does not call for new sanctions or threaten military action – but it does call for Assad to cede power.

The draft says the Council supports an Arab League plan “to facilitate a political transition leading to a democratic, plural political system … including through the transfer of power from the President and transparent and fair elections.”

Moscow could potentially be appeased if the draft’s supporters remove the specific reference to the transfer of power by Assad or add a clause ruling out military intervention.

However, it may also demand a clear statement that Assad’s more violent opponents share blame for the bloodshed. Russia would also be pleased by the removal of a clause calling for “further measures” if Syria does not comply swiftly, wording that to Moscow smacks of sanctions.

Gennady Gatilov, a deputy foreign minister, said on Friday that Russia would not support a demand for Assad’s resignation and warned that a rushed vote would be doomed to failure, indicating Moscow could veto the draft in its current form.

Putin gives the US far too much credit for Machiavellian machinations.  American policy in the Middle East has been confused and uncertain.  It is pushed and pulled by conflicting considerations, realpolitik wrestling with humanitarian concerns, though of course from a Putinist perspective desires for democracy and freedom are merely an element of American realpolitik–hence the Russian intransigence on Syria.

What has transpired in the last 12 months in the Middle East is not evidently in American interest, viewed from a purely realist perspective.  A nation interested in vassalage would have supported Mubarek: that’s what Athens would have done.  The current situation in Egypt is hardly encouraging, either from a geopolitical or humanitarian/democratic perspective.  If anything, the situation in Libya is even worse.

The fundamental problem is that trying to chart a transition from repressive systems to freer ones in the Middle East is devilish hard.  The more repressive the system–with Libya and Syria being at the extreme repressive end of the scale–the more difficult the transition.  As both Iraq and Libya demonstrate, these are fundamentally broken societies, with cultures with no tradition of either personal liberty or political democracy.  There is no easy way from there to somewhere better: there’s not even reason to believe that there is any agreement between people in those societies and most in the West as to what would constitute better.

The West generally, and the US specifically, are at least trying to navigate a transition to something better. Russia has no desire to do anything of the kind. To Russia, it is all about stability, the body count be damned.  Indeed, Russia is quite willing to help Assad add to the body count, as indicated by a recent shipment of small arms ammunition from Russia to Syria and the agreement to sell Yak-130 aircraft to the Syrian regime.

In so doing, Russia is doubling down, earning itself the enmity of many ordinary Syrians in the bargain. If Assad survives, Russia will have a beachhead–a very shaky one–in the Mediterranean, and the US will be dealt a setback. If he loses, all that is gone, and from Putin’s perspective, the loss is a leveraged one because it will resonate in Russia, emboldening the opposition by showing that authoritarians can be overthrown.

But Putin perceives no choice.  Especially from his zero sum perspective, anything but Assad’s survival is a defeat.

So Russia is joining with China in a new sort of Holy Alliance, attempting frantically to protect authoritarian regimes (and worse) abroad in order to protect their own authoritarian systems.

This is understandable.  This is what authoritarians do–from Sparta to the Holy Alliance.  What is more troubling is that these views are echoed in the West, and in the US, especially the the (convergent) progressive and Paulbot fringes, both of whom rail against the loss of liberty in the US and the US’s “imperialism”, all the while defending Putin, the quintessential anti-libertarian and anti-progressive.  This is not explicable on the basis of a consistent defense of liberty, one that acknowledges the difficult choices in politics and diplomacy. As with Assange, it seems most explicable on the principle of the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

And that is a very unholy alliance indeed.

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  1. To state the obvious – the US, “capitalist pigs”, imperialists and all sorts of other boogeymen were to castigated during sovok times.

    But even within the sovok union, there were “enemies of the people” – and Pavlik Morozov, who reported his own parents, was held up as a hero and a fine example to follow.

    With cars circling around Maskva these days, and the people themselves labeling the eternal “president” as Putler, I don’t think that the saber-rattling against traditional sovok boogeymen has much of an impact with Rasha as far as Putler’s ratings are concerned.

    And Rasha doesn’t seem capable of throwing as much money at Syria and Cuba and elsewhere as was done in sovok days.

    Russia and China in an alliance seems – well, the sino-sovok border was not the friendliest.

    Except that today, you can see pictures of same – and the Chinese side looks infinitely more prosperous, complete even with Rooshan restaurants.

    While the Rooshan side looks as if it had been devastated by some of those mysterious radar waves that Rogozin and others talked about.

    La Russophobe, for one, had classic pictures of that border.

    To me it seems that Rasha, which is a federation, with tons of tensions from Muslims and non-Rashans within its borders, had better be concerned about being eaten by China.

    Rather than trying to project an image of a sovok empire that no longer exists, via propping up Assad and other shenanigans.

    Comment by elmer — January 29, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

  2. It is pushed and pulled by conflicting considerations, realpolitik wrestling with humanitarian concerns, though of course from a Putinist perspective desires for democracy and freedom are merely an element of American realpolitik…

    As illustrated by the US (and Western) support for Bahrain shooting on protesters, disappearing medics who treated the wounded in hospitals, and calling in Saudi tanks to quell the protests.

    Arms sales continue as if nothing happened. Bahraini rulers are received with all the usual honors.

    It just so happens that Bahrain is a good Western ally and hosts a US base.

    OMG! Could it be that the reason Russia supports Syria isn’t because of its callousness and Eurasian proclivities and general evil but because it’s what virtually any country would do in its position?

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — January 29, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

  3. PS. Ironically, this very post – by studiously failing to address Western support for repressive regimes (e.g. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia) that happen to be its allies – doesn’t only undermine itself but supports the honorable continental Rome vs. hypocritical sea-faring Atlantis narrative. 😉

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — January 29, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

  4. @so – can we spell projection?

    Support for miserable regimes is disgusting, but many of these regimes are quite able to support themselves – I have yet to see Vlad the impaled refuse to meet and work with OPEC and other appalling regimes, and what about those Bateaux Mouches being sent – with tug – to Syria?

    Again we are watching the three card Monte school of politics – confuse, obfuscate and dance hard and long enough, and hopw no one sees the card drop.

    Comment by sotos — January 29, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

  5. The little Berkley boy and Bahrain . The hypocritical Putin-bootlickers Dugin narrative.

    On the Kremlin’s English-language channel Russia Today, which on some topics is freer than its Russian-language equivalent, all the protests have been covered, but the editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan set the tone for the channel’s coverage when she wrote on her Twitter feed that the protest leaders should “burn in hell”.

    It also compared the opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who has been attacked by liberals for his strong Russian nationalist views, to Emma West, the British woman recorded making a racist rant on a tram. The channel claimed the two are “made for each other” but are treated differently by a hypocritical Western media.

    President Obama speaks about Bahrain at The United Nations General Assembly 2011 opening speech.

    “In Bahrain, steps have been taken toward reform and accountability. We’re pleased with that, but more is required. America is a close friend of Bahrain, and we will continue to call on the government and the main opposition bloc — the Wifaq — to pursue a meaningful dialogue that brings peaceful change that is responsive to the people. We believe the patriotism that binds Bahrainis together must be more powerful than the sectarian forces that would tear them apart. It will be hard, but it is possible.”

    Comment by Anders — January 29, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

  6. Even the BURN TO HELLs (Russia Today )and Sublim little Berkly’s boys enemies Al-Jazeera have reported about Violent response to Bahrain protest .

    double standard is known as twice as good morals- Putin mafia Berkley boot-licker

    Comment by Anders — January 29, 2012 @ 5:11 pm

  7. S/O. Wrong again. I understand perfectly the dilemmas that Americans wrestle with: that’s exactly what I mean by a liberty-oriented policy “that acknowledges the difficult choices in politics and diplomacy.” The difference is that the Russians never wrestle. Never.

    Here’s the difference. To the US, the systems in Bahrain or Saudi are bugs, not features. To Russia, the systems in Syria, or Libya, or Iraq are features, not bugs. Big difference.

    Ironically, the most telling critique of neoconservatism is its belief that such systems are malleable, and can be changed by the exercise of American will. That is clearly wrong–which is why I am not a neocon, despite your repeated claims to the contrary.

    The problem that adults struggle with is how to make hard choices subject to rather dreary constraints. With respect to Bahrain, for instance. 1. Would a replacement for the current regime be any better? 2. Would an overthrow of the Bahrani regime empower Iran, a far more dangerous and oppressive power? The answer to 1. is almost certainly no, the answer to 2. is yes. So it is cheap and easy to criticize American policy there, but it is almost certainly the best of bad choices, even from a perspective of advancing liberty and democracy.

    Economics is not the only dismal science. Diplomacy and geopolitics are as well. Each involves the constant necessity of choosing between lesser and greater evils–for the US it does, anyways. Russia, not so much. For it does not even perceive Assad or Khaddafy or Saddam as objectionable in any way.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 29, 2012 @ 5:11 pm

  8. 1. Please substantiate your claim that Iran is “a far more oppressive” power than Bahrain. Bahrain scores -8 on the Polity IV ranking, compared to Iran’s -6. Even on Freedom House’s politicized rankings the differences are negligible (6/5 for Bahrain, 6/6 for Iran).

    Note that Iran has Presidential elections whose results tend to match the findings of opinion polls, whereas Bahrain is ruled by an absolute monarch.

    2. Your yourself admit that the revolutions haven’t led to major improvements in either Libya or Egypt. I would say they have deteriorated, given the profound illiberalism of their underlying populations which are now resulting in anti-Christian pogroms, the growing prominence of sharia law, ethnic cleansing of blacks in Libya, etc.

    The only country so far where the Arab Spring seems to have led to real improvements in terms of HR is Tunisia, which has always stood out (along with Lebanon) from the Arab nations for its relative secularism.

    Since Syria is far more similar to Egypt/Libya/Iraq, why should the regime that replaces Assad be any better? Why wouldn’t it be far worse?

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — January 29, 2012 @ 5:30 pm

  9. The little Berkley boy and Bahrain . The hypocritical Putin-bootlickers Dugin narrative Irans Nuclear bomb are the problems of the west .As long the Iranian regime needs support form the the Putin-mafia their Nuclear bombs are good .
    The Putin-mafias Syrian supporters would like US withdrawal from Bahrein .What about Bahrein .What about -Bahrein .What about -Undermining Progressive Policies and Frameworks

    In my day job this week, I’m thinking tactically about the leaks’ effects on the issues of immediate concern to me: ratifying the START Treaty and promoting effective diplomacy to deal with Iran, while inching our way toward lasting peace in the Middle East and away from an endless military quagmire in Afghanistan.

    But underlying all those discrete policy positions is a common set of assumptions and values: that we live in a complex world where posturing, rigid ideology, and indiscriminate use of force will not get us, as a society or a global commons, to where we need to go; that quiet talk is much more effective than loud threats; that, in the long run, America’s national interests will be best served if we see and act on them as inextricably linked with the interests of others.

    I’ve called them progressive, because they are. They’re also, with a bit less emphasis on the global good, realist. Or you might simply say they are sane and reasonable. But if we can’t conduct quiet diplomacy and have it stay quiet, it’s a lot harder to make this approach work. Could Sadat and Begin have gotten to Camp David without months of quiet preparation? Could Nixon have gone to China?

    And back here within the U.S., you can count upon the opponents of progressive policies to use the Wikileaks dumps to advance their agenda. They’ll take items out of context and use them to justify ideas like bombing Iran, rejecting the START treaty, and god-knows-what to North Korea. The Wikileakers claim to promote the politics of peace and moderation. But this latest dump could very easily have the opposite effect, by giving the absolutists a chance to spread their stereotypes and illusions of a black and white world.-

    Comment by Anders — January 29, 2012 @ 6:32 pm

  10. Dangerous and oppressive. I stand by that. Whom does Bahrain threaten? Iran/Persia is historically an expansionist power. What’s more, Iran supports major terror organizations and has itself engaged in numerous acts of terror overseas. It is a threat to peace in the region and has made eliminationist threats against another nation. It is actively engaged in attempts to destabilize other nations. It is the main prop of the Syrian regime.

    In the scheme of things, Iran is far more important, far more dangerous, and an oppressor of far more people than Bahrain. Which is why, when choosing between evils, the US sides with Bahrain. And actually, if Iran were different, so would be US policies toward Iran.

    Like I say, real choices that adults have to make. Not posers in Berkeley.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 29, 2012 @ 6:50 pm


    “Mr.X, your queer ideas about everything are really becoming incredibly pathetic.”

    Comment by Andrew — January 29, 2012 @ 1:35 am

    “Whom does Bahrain threaten?” It’s own Shi’a population, apparently. But you don’t give a damn about them. Nor do you give a damn about the Syrian Orthodox Christians, particularly the women, who under Assad are currently free to drive, and practice their faith unmolested (in fact, I have it on good authority from someone who knew them that Papa Assad’s household help in the early 1980s were almost all Christian). No being an atheist or at least someone so contemptuous of Orthodox Christianity you don’t care about what happens to those people or the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Chaldeans and Assyrians who have fled to Syria, ironically seeking safety, after the U.S. overthrew Saddam and things went from bad to worse FOR THEM! Because folks like you always think they can brainwash the Evangelicals into turning a blind eye to the persecution of their brothers in Christ by Islamists backed by American allies.

    Sorry Andy Dzughashvili, the only part of Syria I’ve seen with my own eyes was from the Golani Brigade’s tourist-friendly observation point looking down on the Syrian border from Israel. And it’s pretty damn dry over there. And that of course is exactly the point that would get the $hit shelled or rocketed out of it should Al-Jazeera’s beloved Muslim Brotherhood seize power in Damascus.

    I’m well aware that most of Syria’s food is grown up in the northwest closer to the Med and in the Euphrates headwaters area, or has increasingly has to be imported from the EU, Turkey or Iran.

    “So colonialism, well first of all, where is it that you have colonialism today? You have the classic colonialism behind the Iron Curtain. You have Russia, which is a master country. I mean not the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, but Russia which is the master country with the great colony around it within the Soviet Union in Poland, in Czechoslovakia, in Hungary.” Anders, that was always the con. The neocons said their problem was with Russia’s aggressive Soviet world revolution-promoting ideology. Reagan believed them, which is why when he felt that ideology was withering away as early as 1987 he proposed sharing missile defense technology with Moscow, to the horror of many of his aides. But once the USSR and its propaganda machine withered away and died in the 1990s, the neocons pushed an aggressive agenda of turning Eastern Europe into client states. It’s all there in Z. Brzezinski’s mid-1990s book The Grand Chessboard if you care to read it, where he basically says the West must kick Russia while its down and make damn sure she never rises as a Great Power EVER AGAIN, starting with the first task of seizing the output and pipeline routes from the Caspian basin. China at that time, of course, did not figure too much in ole’ Z. Big’s calculations as a potential third party that could come in an outbid the West and Moscow in Ashgabat, Almaty, and Bishkek.
    An excellent summary of Bzrezinski’s positions from Mike Rupert

    They also on rare occasions even prior to 08/08/08 sought deliberate, nasty provocations against Russia, such as Gen. Wesley Clark’s order to Gen. Jackson to fire on the Russian troops headed to the Pristina airport in 1999, an episode that ought to live in infamy as exhibit A of neocon treachery against Russia period, even when Yeltsin had been quite accommodating towards Washington regarding the wildly unpopular (from Russia to Bulgaria to Greece, pretty much in every Orthodox Christian nation) NATO war of aggression against Serbia, after the Serbs had made peace with Bosnia. Yeltsin in fact was the one who persuaded Milosevic to step down and spared NATO the thousands of casulties it would have suffered fighting Serbs armed to the teeth in the mountains (yes, including German casulties, the armchair warriors on CNN were so freakin’ out of touch with reality even at that time I remember them clearly suggesting German divisions would join a NATO invasion, like that would’ve flied once the body bags started coming home to Berlin!).
    Senor Equis’ source? Not RT, not Zerohedge, but MiniTrue, aka THE BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION quoting Gen. Jackson, “I’m not going to start WWIII for you”
    Straight from the horse (and Bill Clinton buddy’s) mouth, as told to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! (Gen. Wesley Clark’s post 9/11 recollection)

    Now whether Wesley Clark giving that order in 99′, at least according to Gen. Jackson’s account, should cast doubts on his credibility with respect to the immediate, post 9-11 ‘plan’ to overthrow the govs of Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, and ultimately, Iran, I leave to your judgement.

    I merely present the info here that SWP and all his fan boys would rather not talk about — that there are large numbers of Russians who believe Putin’s message of a perpetually warlike ‘Athens’ (in reality, an Anglo-American bankster/military industrial complex nexus) hellbent on hegemony everywhere rather than living and let live, because there is in fact a permanent anti-Russia lobby in Washington.

    If you doubt the EE client states part, look at Latvia’s inability to refuse to accept CIA black hole sites, despite that causing headaches with the European Court of Human Rights and other bodies to which Latvia is a signatory.

    Do you remember the climax of Thucydides’ history of the Peloponnese War Professor? Cuz I seem to remember this little thing called the Melian dialogue, whereby the ‘democratic’ Athenians slaughtered all the men captured and sold all the women and children of Melos into slavery. Remember that? But maybe your classics profs at U of Chicago were less humane than mine. So what would America’s Melos be? My Lai? Would it have been Tskinval had the Russians been too weak, as in the 1990s, to beat back the Tie Eater’s forces? You tell me.

    So yes good sheeple who view Russia as the perpetual aggressor, ignore all these blatant examples of U.S. geopolitical designs to not merely ‘give the post Soviet states their freedom from Moscow’ but to DOMINATE THEM, dating back to the early 1990s (and in the case of Bulgaria with Soros’ foundations, the late 1980s!). Say that Putin is just a paranoid chekist, and ignore that he can size up fellow spooks Kissinger and Bzrezinski quite well as worthy adversaries.

    Comment by Mr. X — January 29, 2012 @ 6:56 pm

    Comment by Mr. X — January 29, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

  12. Ignore all these facts, worship at the altar of power and dominance over your fellow human beings, then may God have mercy on your souls.

    Comment by Mr. X — January 29, 2012 @ 7:03 pm

  13. Putler the anti-American closed Cam Ranh and Lourdes. Cut the army and defense sector to the bone. Keeps the cash in American treasuries and British offshores… Gets BMD installations on his doorstep in gratitude.

    The fact is that the US is now the perfidious Albion (since WW1 at any rate). Nothing wrong with that. Were Russia or China in the same position, they’d act the same. Except wearing the human rights and democracy mantle, while conducting humanitarian bombings, debases both.

    If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible. Harry S. Truman 24/06/1941

    Comment by So? — January 29, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

  14. Anders,

    If you’ve noticed I have ceased replying to any of your barely-readable rants. Why do you bother?

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — January 29, 2012 @ 7:55 pm

  15. @SWP,

    So you’ve declined to give evidence that Iran is more oppressive than Bahrain. Thanks for clearing that up.

    FYI, supporting terrorist groups and engaging in numerous acts of terror overseas does not necessarily make the perpetrators into oppressors. On that, at least, I hope you’ll agree.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — January 29, 2012 @ 8:03 pm

  16. No, in fact, I won’t agree. And I think that in fact, your complete inability to make reasoned distinctions, and your tiresome and juvenile whataboutism make it unlikely that you could say anything worth agreeing with.

    If you cannot distinguish between those who strive mightily to adhere to accepted norms of warfare, and who succeed the vast majority of the time, and those who flout them at every turn, you’re beyond my power to help. If you can’t distinguish between those who have secured liberty and order for multitudes, from those who bend every fiber to take it away–again, nothing I can say is likely to do much good. One cannot make bricks without straw.

    You are, in fact, one of those tiresome types who excels at pointing out the mots in the eyes of those you dislike, and ignoring the beams in the eyes of your idols.

    Your animus towards the country that has welcomed you is all too plain. Your refusal to actually live in the country you claim to love speaks volumes.

    I am sorry that you have to work out your rather pitiful identity issues this way. I was hoping that you would have made some progress in dealing with them, but if anything you are regressing.

    I at least hope that your attacks here get you the attention that you so desperately crave from the Putin cult.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 29, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

  17. Nor will he agree with any of the above about the increasingly aggressive nature of ‘American’ foreign policy post-Reagan, even post Bush 41 with James Baker saying, “We have no dog in that fight,” referring to the Balkans. s/o? said it right above, except for the Harry S. Truman quote.

    “Putler the anti-American closed Cam Ranh and Lourdes. Cut the army and defense sector to the bone. Keeps the cash in American treasuries and British offshores… Gets BMD installations on his doorstep in gratitude.” Yes, and don’t forget about MI6’s pet rock you sneered at the time but turned out to be an actual bug.

    And the Catholic Church, judging by a large number of Bishops’ coordinated statements read to their congregations nationwide on Sunday, no longer believes this government respects religious liberty:

    How would you respond if such statements were being made by Russian or Ukrainian Catholic bishops about their governments? That is not whataboutism, that is simply a question of how one makes moral decisions about reality.

    Comment by Mr. X — January 29, 2012 @ 9:37 pm

  18. AFAIK, Iran has been everyone’s punching bag for the last 200 years.

    Comment by So? — January 29, 2012 @ 11:50 pm

  19. The Sublim Berkley boys nuclear partners Persia have not always been the perfect anti-American partner for the ortodox slave owners in Kremlin . The pro-Soviet Tudeh Party where instrumental in Stalins attempts to control the the Iranian oil resources .

    Most people
    investigating this affair, impressed by Prime Minister’s Qavam-os- Saltanah’s diplomatic skills in Moscow, I don’t think that they
    suffice as an explanation for Stalin’s decision to withdraw. The main reason for the abandonment of wider Soviet aims in Northern Iran
    was the fear of a serious U.S.-Soviet confrontation. Stalin accordingly justified the withdrawal in a letter to the Azerbaijani
    leader Pishevari. (According to one account he remarked to Baghirov:’We cannot start a new war’). Given the clear demonstration of U.S.
    strategic interest in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East (especially the Missouri Visit), the Soviets settled for minimum
    objectives. In fact, the ill-fated Soviet-Iranian oil agreement amounted to much less than the Soviet Union had hoped to achieve.

    Qavam arranged a deal with the Soviets, granting an oil concession in the North contingent on the approval of the Majlis after the elections. Under the terms of the agreement with Qavam, Soviet troops began withdrawing from Iran. When the new Majlis was seated, they immediately voted against the proposed Soviet oil concession. This earned Qavam the congenial title, “The Old Fox”.

    Comment by Anders — January 30, 2012 @ 1:26 am

  20. Bahrain vs. Iran: Human Rights report released by the Russian FM mentions no human rights problems with either Iran or Bahrain.

    Comment by Thom — January 30, 2012 @ 2:22 am

  21. Sublime Oblivion If you’ve noticed I have ceased replying to any of your barely-readable rants. Why do you bother?

    Poor little spammer -It is easy on your own Propaganda -tools -full censorship . Blocking enemy’s of the Putin-mafia .

    Burn in Hell Sublim Berkley boy your Stalinist reflexes do not impress me .

    On the Kremlin’s English-language channel Russia Today, which on some topics is freer than its Russian-language equivalent, all the protests have been covered, but the editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan set the tone for the channel’s coverage when she wrote on her Twitter feed that the protest leaders should “burn in hell”.

    It also compared the opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who has been attacked by liberals for his strong Russian nationalist views, to Emma West, the British woman recorded making a racist rant on a tram. The channel claimed the two are “made for each other” but are treated differently by a hypocritical Western media.

    Comment by Anders — January 30, 2012 @ 2:32 am

  22. When will the poor Berklye boy get the Muslim bomb in the head ?

    Why can the Mullas bombs not be used against Russia ? It can be more usefull than bombing Jerusalem ?

    China’s creation of Pakistan as a nuclear weapons state with IRBMs (supplied by North Korea) was a strategic master-stroke aimed at United States overwhelming predominance in South West Asia. China thus with strategic callousness and strategic irresponsibility initiated a nuclear arms race in this volatile region not only endangering United States strategic interests but global stability too.

    Iran knows it has China and Russia on its side, monetarily and otherwise, and therefore can quite likely get away with murder. Mass murder.

    Why would China and Russia be so utterly, totally irresponsible? Russia can get richer by selling conventional weapons and nuclear reactors to Iran, and that China gets a major portion of its oil from Iran.

    Here’s what seems to me likely: If China, Russia and the West say flatly to Iran that they will engage in whatever peaceful activities are necessary to stop weapons development — while at the same time assuring peaceful nuclear power development — Iran will pay attention. If it doesn’t, toughen the sanctions until it does. War will be averted.

    The Russian rogue communist regime of Ex. KGB Putin is behind the major danger to the lives of tens of millions of innocent people in the Middle East, Europe and beyond as it is behind the massive building of nuke plants for the Shija Moslem Brother terrorist rogue regime of the Ayatollahs of Iran. Undoubtedly, the Iranian regime is getting all the technical support from Russian scientists and Russian companies that built the underground nuke plants for the fanatic Iranian regime that seek taking control over world’s economy with nuclear threats. The evil and irresponsible Russian regime will not support any sanctions against Iranian regime or the Syrian regime that cooperate with Iran with sponsoring 14 terrorist organizations that will…

    Comment by Anders — January 30, 2012 @ 3:16 am

  23. Russian paratroopers know who the real villain is, and his name is Vladimir Putin.

    Comment by La Russophobe — January 30, 2012 @ 4:07 am

  24. Aw what the heck? I’ll take up Tolya’s gantlet. I’ll say that Iran is more oppressive than Bahrain too.

    Let’s see…proof…hmm. I’m actually shocked that you’ve got the gumption to use Polity IV to back you up on your “Bahrain is little better or worse than Iran” thesis… ‘specially after all the nasty stuff you’ve got to say about the CIA and Israel generally. You did see how highly Israel was ranked in the Polity IV report right? Are you a fan now?

    Right. Must resist whataboutism. Must…resist…Eurasianist…answer…to…all…criticism

    OK then. What does Human Rights Watch say? Let’s see… ah, here we go. Iran #1 in the world for jailing journalists and bloggers. 600 executions in 2011 in Iran. Iran #1 in the world for executing juvies. Unfair trials. Oppression of religious and ethnic minorities… yep… looking pretty bad.

    Now for Bahrain. HRW reports 40 dead in protests vs. 3 in Iran so that’s a point against Bahrain. Unfair trials too, like Iran. Torture and unlawful arrests…yep them too. Hmm…Nothing about jailing journalists or bloggers in Bahrain… nothing about executions… Some abuse of migrant workers but nothing like the minority bashing going on in Iran…

    Sorry Tolya, HRW agrees with me and the Perfesser. Bahrain is no fountain of human rights but it’s not as oppressive as Iran. Check it out.

    Comment by Swoggler — January 30, 2012 @ 5:53 am

  25. The poor sublim Berkeley boy think Human Rights Watch is a western imperialist Zionist conspiracy against KGBs jihadis .A Russophobe islamophobia – ” War against Islam ” and their chosen dictators in the muslim world .

    Comment by Anders — January 30, 2012 @ 6:15 am

  26. 3 dead in Iran according to Iranian government figures…..

    Comment by Andrew — January 30, 2012 @ 6:42 am

  27. What’s good for Israel, is good for America. Libya, Egypt have fallen. If Syria falls, Jordan will be next. One-by-one the Saudis are dispatching their regional rivals. It will be 1948 for Israel all over again. So we will get pan-Arabism after all. Except this time it will be under a green banner. I guess America prefers religious fundies to socialists. Not sure if Israel feels the same way.

    Comment by So? — January 30, 2012 @ 6:48 am

  28. The poor sublim Berkeley boy have problems in Pakistan ?

    supporting terrorist groups and engaging in numerous acts of terror overseas does not necessarily make the perpetrators into oppressors .

    The KGB-JIHADIS are in losing their Human Rights Watching assets Pakistan .

    The security source said very few innocent people had been killed in the strikes. When a militant takes shelter in a house or compound which is then bombed, “the ones who are harbouring him, they are equally responsible”, he said.

    “When they stay at a host house, they (the hosts) obviously have sympathies for these guys.”

    He denied that Pakistan helped target civilians.

    “If … others say innocents have been targeted, it’s not true,” he said. “We never target civilians or innocents.”

    Comment by Anders — January 30, 2012 @ 7:20 am

  29. Thank you for the civilized reply, Swoggler.

    Re-Israel. What is of relevance is that Israel is higher than Bahrain or Iran however you measure them, so I don’t see Polity IV’s high ranking of it as an issue. My own opinion is that it’s fairly good at defending the civil rights of its Jews and non-Muslim minorities. The rights of Palestinians are another matter. Four Palestinian journalists are currently imprisoned without trial (source: CPJ), and there are plenty of bizarre discrimination cases that would be laughed out of court in any normal country but are par for the course in Israel.

    Oppression of religious and ethnic minorities… yep… looking pretty bad.

    Yes, Iran doesn’t have a great record towards its smallest minorities. However, the very cause of the Bahraini riots was the discrimination by the ruling Sunni elites against their Shia underclass. In that sense, there are direct analogies with Iran.

    Hmm…Nothing [AK: in HRW] about jailing journalists or bloggers in Bahrain… nothing about executions…

    Yes, to their credit, Bahrain has yet to execute anyone. (Though they have sentenced some to death).

    On the other hand, Iran hasn’t beaten or sentenced any medical staff to long prison terms for treating protesters wounded in the clashes.

    Nothing in HRW, but one can find material at the CPJ.

    “Alsingace, a journalistic blogger and human rights defender, was among a number of high-profile government critics arrested in March as the government renewed its crackdown on dissent.

    In June, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for “plotting to topple the monarchy.” In all, 21 bloggers, human rights activists, and members of the political opposition were found guilty on similar charges and handed lengthy sentences. (Ali Abdel Imam, another journalistic blogger, was sentenced to 15 years in prison but was in hiding in late year.)

    On his blog, Al-Faseela (Sapling), Alsingace wrote critically about human rights violations, sectarian discrimination, and repression of the political opposition. He also monitored human rights for the Shiite-dominated opposition Haq Movement for Civil Liberties and Democracy.

    Alsingace had been arrested on antistate conspiracy charges in August 2010 as part of widespread reprisals against political dissidents. He was released in February 2011 as part of a government effort to appease a then-nascent protest movement.”

    Now yes, the 2 imprisoned Bahraini journalists are dwarfed by the 42 imprisoned in Iran, but even there things more than equalize when you account for the differences in population size.

    Furthermore, 2 Bahraini journalists died under state custody in 2011, compared to zero in Iran.

    In conclusion, while one can endlessly quibble whether Bahrain is slightly more oppressive than Iran or the other way round, I cannot believe any objectively-minded person could say that you’ve proven SWP’s original contention that Iran is a “FAR MORE… oppressive power” than Bahrain.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — January 30, 2012 @ 9:03 pm

  30. Hmmmm, Sublime Oblivion is pretty moronic as usual.

    I would consider executing people for changing their religion, chucking them off the top of buildings for the wrong sexual orientation, and so forth, to be far worse than what happens in Bahrain.

    As for Iran having an ‘elected government” sorry dimwit, only part of it is elected, the rest is an appointed theocracy.

    Guessyou are too simple to tell the difference.

    Comment by Andrew — January 31, 2012 @ 2:21 am

  31. Poor Sublime Berklye boy- your selective moral is funny –

    Assassination of Russia

    Political analyst Vladimir Pribylovsky says the apartment bombings enabled a virtually unknown bureaucrat to sweep into the presidency months later.

    [The bombings] changed the situation by favoring a prime minister nobody knew, with a dubious, dark biography.
    “They changed the situation by favoring a prime minister nobody knew, with a dubious, dark biography,” Pribylovsky says. “Two things brought about Putin’s victory: the bombings and the phrase about wiping out terrorists in the outhouse.”

    Today, after 13 years as president, Putin is prime minister again, and still firmly in charge of a country he remade into an authoritarian state.

    Six Muslims from southern Russia have been sentenced in connection to the 1999 bombings, but the case remains unsolved. A small handful of critics say that’s because the explosions were staged by the Federal Security Service, or FSB.

    That line of reasoning has proved highly dangerous. Two of its leading proponents have been killed. Another was sent to a Siberian prison on what he says were false charges to stop him from investigating the bombings.

    Comment by Putin — January 31, 2012 @ 4:11 am

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