Russia’s 'rational' and 'moral' stance on Syria
U.N. observers photograph a bombed bus in Damascus earlier this month.
June 21st, 2012
11:39 AM ET

Russia’s 'rational' and 'moral' stance on Syria

Editor's Note: The following text is from GlobalPost, which provides views — importantmoving or just odd — from around the world.

By Fred Weir, GlobalPost

As Syria's uprising against Bashar al-Assad deteriorates into a potentially nation-destroying civil war, most of the diplomatic discourse has been dominated by a high-stakes blame-game between Russia and the West over who is most at fault for the horrific massacre and mayhem.

The most recent example: Monday’s tense meeting between the Russian and US presidents in Mexico, in which Obama failed to get Putin’s help in easing Assad from power.

So far Russia has been losing this rhetorical battle. But the Kremlin insists that its case transcends mere self-interest, and points the way back to a world governed by the rule of law.

Moscow's community of foreign policy experts — many of whom routinely excoriate the Kremlin — seem uncommonly united in support of Russia’s stance on Syria. They argue that the Kremlin is adhering to a conservative set of international values, based on respect for national sovereignty and the right of Syria's people to sort out their own future.

The West, they claim, is out of legal bounds and pursuing its own geopolitical interests thinly disguised as a humanitarian "responsibility to protect" in a manner that is reckless, hypocritical and — perhaps the unkindest cut — incompetent.

"The West talks in terms of noble goals, but their actions tend to wreck any stability, threaten the lives of millions, and leave people worse off than before," says Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the independent Institute of Middle Eastern Studies in Moscow. "I don't carry any brief for the Kremlin, but in the case of Syria, the Russian aim is to try to minimize negative outcomes. Russian approaches may be old fashioned and conservative but, I'm sorry to say, they're more rational than current Western policies."

Russian experts dish out examples of botched Western interventions going back to the 1999 Kosovo war, which Moscow helped to resolve after receiving NATO's assurances that Kosovo would never be given independence; a few years later Kosovo was made independent. The long and inconclusive US occupation of Iraq and the ongoing imbroglio in Afghanistan are cited as examples of "making things worse."

But uppermost in Russian minds is the UN-authorized NATO intervention in Libya last year, which Moscow acquiesced to as a measure to protect civilians, only to see it morph into a full rebel campaign for regime change backed by Western air power.

"We've been lied to repeatedly; not a single promise the West has made to us in the past two decades has been honored," says Sergei Markov, vice president of the Plekhanov Economic University in Moscow and a frequent adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin in the past.

More from GlobalPost: When the BRICS crumble

"We've learned to take our own counsel on problems like Syria. What we see is an extraordinarily difficult situation that threatens to explode into a massive bloodbath. Nobody likes Assad, but if you just remove him the entire state will collapse with awful consequences. We wish we could have an intelligent conversation with Western leaders about this, but so far that hasn't proved possible," he says.

After vetoing (along with China) two UN Security Council resolutions that would have imposed tough sanctions and enabled a process for easing Assad out, Russia got on board with the UN-sponsored Kofi Annan plan, which envisaged democratic reforms and UN observers but no sanctions or outside military interference. With the Annan plan in shreds, and violence spiraling in many parts of Syria, the war of words is heating up again.

Russia's primary argument for its position is that it conforms with international law. Sovereignty is the supreme principle, Russian officials say, and Western attempts to change those rules have not led to good results anywhere.

The fixation on sovereignty is rooted in self-interest, and comes with its own healthy dose of hypocrisy. The Kremlin harbors a deep-seated fear that authorizing outside military force to support rebellious populations might one day be used to license intervention in Russia. And the principle does not seem to apply when Moscow is dealing with its own neighbors in the post-Soviet area; after defeating Georgia in 2008, Moscow effective dismembered its southern neighbor by granting independence to the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Putin, who has effectively ruled Russia for the past 12 years, viewed the pro-democracy "colored revolutions" that erupted in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan over the past decade as the creations of foreign intelligence services. When tens of thousands of anti-Kremlin protesters took to the streets of Moscow last December to demand fair elections, his first public response was to blame Hillary Clinton: "She set the tone for some opposition activists, gave them a signal, they heard this signal and started active work," Putin said at the time.

"Russian leaders fear revolution very deeply, and they look with horror on the Arab Spring and the totally disordered changes that have followed in its wake," says Sergei Strokan, a foreign affairs columnist with the Moscow daily Kommersant.

"The only thing that's worse for them is the idea of popular revolution approved of and supported by the West. They observe all that's happening through a conspiratorial lens. Hence they see Western-backed rebels creating a pretext for Western military intervention that leads to pro-Western regime change. The biggest regret in Russian official foreign policy circles, and the worst accusation against (former President Dmitry) Medvedev, is that he authorized our UN delegation to abstain on the Security Council resolution that authorized the use of force to protect civilians in Libya last year. They are determined not to enable anything like that, not ever again," Strokan says.

Russia also has significant financial and political reasons to back Assad.

Syria has been Moscow's most important strategic partner in the Middle East since 1971. It’s been a major customer for Russian arms and engineering goods. Russia currently has about $5 billion in outstanding arms contracts with Syria, plus as much as $15 billion in other traditional military and economic cooperation — including Russia's only foreign military base, a naval refueling station at the Syrian port of Tartous.

More from GlobalPost: Soccer diplomacy in Ukraine

Financially, abiding by Western-backed sanctions never seems to work out in Moscow's favor. Over the past year, Russia has sacrificed about $4.5-billion in broken arms deals with Libya, and lost as much as $13 billion due to UN sanctions against Iran, experts say.

"Moscow is afraid events in Syria will spin out of control," says Alexander Konovalov, president of the independent Institute for Strategic Assessments in Moscow. "We have lots of economic interests that we stand to lose, but this is not the main thing. The loss of political influence is more important, because Syria is the last point in the Middle East where Russia has a major role to play."

Still, the Kremlin has reacted defensively to charges that it is fueling Syria's civil war by continuing to sell arms to Assad. Stung by Hillary Clinton's recent claim that Russia was sending attack helicopters to Syria for use against demonstrators, Russia's state arms exporter Rosoboronexport made public the list of weaponry it does sell to Syria, including anti-aircraft systems, coastal defense missiles and jet trainers. "We supply armaments that are self-[defensive] rather than attack weapons, and there can be no talk about any violations by Russia or Rosoboronexport either de jure or de facto," the agency's spokesman, Igor Sevastyanov, told journalists.

(It also appears that Clinton's claim was incorrect. Syria's fleet of at least 36 Mi-25 "Hind-D" helicopter gunships — a deadly flying artillery platform made famous by Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980's — was purchased from Russia at least 20 years ago. The helicopters Clinton was referring to were recently serviced in Russia, and were being returned to Syria, but no new helicopter contracts have been signed in over ten years, experts say.)

Russia retorts that it's the West, and Sunni-dominated Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who are smuggling in weapons to fuel the armed rebellion against the Alawite minority rule headed by Assad in Syria.

"We think we know how the world works as well as anyone else, and our diplomats have been active in the Middle East for a long time. We do not have the slightest romantic illusion that something that comes after Assad will be better," says Satanovsky. "We see a religious war shaping up in Syria, and across the region — Sunni against Shia — and we want no part of it. We see all sorts of extremist groups, including Al Qaeda, fighting alongside these anti-Assad rebels and we wonder why you don't seem to notice that ....

"Our Western colleagues point to these terrible atrocities (taking place with increasing frequency in Syria) and say, 'We have to do something!' But your own Western track record shows that you get the regime change you wanted, then lose all interest in the humanitarian problems," he says.

"As for Russia, we've learned to base our policy on national interest. We simply don't believe Western leaders know what they're doing, and we're not listening to all that chatter anymore. So, Russia's Syria policy will remain basically the same, and there is no significant debate over this in the Russian establishment today," he adds.

Topics: Russia • Syria

soundoff (286 Responses)
  1. Chuck

    The US Government has gone rogue, against it's own rules and against it's own people. They have no business saying who is Moral and who is not. Someone come help the American people stop all the killing.

    June 22, 2012 at 11:43 am | Reply
  2. Voiceinthedesert/Troubledgoodangel

    I am sorry to say it, but Russia is wrong. The Libyan intervention needed to happen, or thousands of people would have died in Benghazi. There was no alternative! I repeat, there was no alternative for there wasn't any time to search for alternatives! The exact replication of the Libyan debacle happens in Syria. The time is up for "alternative searches" and the world must act! Otherewise, as would have happened in Libya, thousands more will die in Syria! Russia is forgetting that the rationals of the past no longer hold in this fast changing "Arab Spring" world! Russia was behind the curve in Libya, and is now repeating the same mistake, in Syria!

    June 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Reply
  3. terik ororke

    What does one expect from a country whose "leaders" murdered millions, yes millions –of their own people to further their "political" agenda?

    June 22, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Reply
    • Andrey

      Well, if you gona judge Russia by its history and draw some historic-national parallels, why would not you go a bit deeper? Like mentioning that actual Russian Revolution organizer, creator of Red Army and top dog during Russian Civil War on Communist side was Leon Trotsky who was Jewish. And that Iosif Stalin who was personally responsible for death of millions of Russian people was Georgian: I mean not Russian at all? So the natural conclusion for the guy like you to make would be: as long as Russians are at the top of their state things may go well, like at the time Russia was a Monarchy....
      That is not my personal opinion though: I am not any kind of racist – unlike you.
      You are so ignorant, primitive and arrogant at the same time!

      June 22, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Reply
      • Larry of the Dune

        "gona" ?????????????

        June 22, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
      • Natalya

        Thank you, Andrey!!! Larry, just go off to finish your hamburger. Being a spelling-bee, a.k.a a Grammar-Nazi is not your thing!

        June 24, 2012 at 12:06 am |
      • Erin

        Natalya – how do you know it's not his thing?

        June 24, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
      • Natalya

        Erin- Because I read his comments, which was more than plenty!

        June 25, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
  4. Finley

    Terrific article CNN. News media typically takes such a simplistic view on complex issues. I found this explanation of the Russian perspective very interesting.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Reply
  5. guest

    Islam has been stuck in the 1400's and has gone backwards since their leaders started jihad. Let the Arabs fix Syria instead of crying for the help of the West.

    June 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Reply
  6. Rick

    The only reason Russia does not speak against Syria, or any other dictators for that matter, is that they themselves are dictators in waiting who would do the exact same thing as Assad should the Russian people ever revolt.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Reply
  7. bnjmn375

    Between 600,000-700,000 people died in the American Civil War in the 1860s. Imagine how history might be different today if Europe had intervened, and forced a negotiated peace for humanitarian reasons. I'm an American, but as long as the conflict stays within their borders we have to mind our own business allow other nations to solve their own problems.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Reply
  8. Peikovianyi

    Individual Russians have been moral. The Russian regime has rarely taken a moral stance on anything.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Reply
    • Natalya

      If Americans got to know Russians on a personal level, they'd be surprised to discover that an average Russian is way more moral than the majority of your evangelicals who flooded Russia after perestroika...

      June 24, 2012 at 12:36 am | Reply
      • Debby

        Bring on the vodka.

        June 24, 2012 at 10:13 am |
      • Natalya

        Y'all can't handle it. Too sissy...

        June 24, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
      • nina

        You are correct my mother did not force feed me vodka every night so that she could see men

        June 25, 2012 at 6:37 am |
      • Babushka

        Nina, and what were YOU force-fed, ...weed or crack? Doesn't look like Russian vodka-forcefed babies deter any of your couples from adopting them, instead of kids in your own backyard.

        June 25, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  9. Nutjob


    When did they let you out of the hospitol ?
    I was worried after your camel bit you.
    I feel bad for your camel.

    June 22, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Reply
    • Larry of the Dune

      Nutjob, you got the story from another islamist.
      The real story is that Saeed bit the camel.
      Then he was hospitalized.

      June 22, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Reply
  10. Prez Romney

    Time to change Prez.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Reply
    • Larry of the Dune

      You are so right, Romney is not capable of defeating Obama==he simply is not smart enough.

      June 22, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Reply
  11. Barry G.

    Russia's rational and moral stance on Syria?

    Don't make me laugh!

    Russia's leaders (like Dictator Putin) should be ashamed, for allowing Assad to commit such atrocities, in order to protect their financial interests, their military base, and their leverage on power.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Reply
  12. TomCom

    I wonder what America's position would be if it was Israel or Saudi Arabia insteas of Syria?

    June 22, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Reply
    • KEVIN

      Tom, we are trying to control Syria to secure our already control over Israel and Saudi Arabia. This is pure geo-expandsionism by us and Russia and China know it.

      June 22, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Reply
      • Larry of the Dune

        How true.
        Arabs and muslims in general want to take over through misrepresentation and lies–never mind the murder and mayhem.

        June 22, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  13. Nickell

    Beijing and Moscow are accomplice to a tremendous slaughter. They stand as cowards trying to prevent good people from helping and that is the reason they both will fail. Russia seems to forget that we saved them from extermination just 70 years ago.

    June 22, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Reply
    • Andrey

      When was that? In 1942?
      You really do not know any history! I am amazed about this crap being repeated over and over again by Americans!
      While your soldiers were still packing for their trip to Normandy Russian army was already way past Russian border and moving fast! Americans have only got involved into European theater to prevent Soviet occupation of Europe. And they were a bit late: Russians stormed Berlin and got Nazis defeated. You have only joined the war against Germany in the last few months when it was broken both military and industrially. So had it relatively easy.
      Just do some reading it is easy now with all the information available on the web!

      June 22, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Reply
      • Joe

        If it's on the web it must be true?

        June 22, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
      • Natalya

        Joe, if you read it in your texbooks, approved by your state boards, must be true as well, just as creationism.

        June 24, 2012 at 12:40 am |
      • Marty

        There is no question that the Soviet Union did the heavy lifting in WWII. They fought the Nazi's for 4 years and lost millions of people doing so. However, had the other allies not stormed ashore at Normandy, Stalin's boys would have faced a much tougher Vermacht. It was a team effort. The allies bombing campaign did not end the war but it did disrupt the Germans' potential to wage war with the Russians.

        June 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
      • Babushka

        @Marty, I think it is an American way to grossly axeggerate your victories. You are so brainwashed into believing you've won Cold War, WW2, "Mission-Accomplished" war, etc... Without showcasing its imaginary victories to the public how else would your government be able to continuously fund it's massive military apparatus by your taxes (which you willingly pay), while so many of your ppl survive on substinence wages without access to health care.

        June 25, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • KEVIN

      Nickell, Russia and China are the only ones of the big three who are against geo-expandsionism. We want to control Syria and they know it. If anything we need to meet with China and Russia AND Iran in Moscow. No games and present a coherant plan to the UN. As for the history of us and Russia: It is just that; HISTORY. Deal with the here and now.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Reply
    • DCDaniel

      Actually it was the Russians that saved the Americans from the Nazis by breaking the German army BEFORE the US entered the war.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Reply
  14. Reason & Logic

    Russia is obsolete as far as nations go. They are the neighborhood bully who stands by and does nothing when he sees good Samaritans trying to stop someone from getting beaten up.

    June 22, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Reply
    • Natalya

      Naive abit?

      June 24, 2012 at 12:42 am | Reply
      • Larry of the Dune

        The correct spelling is "Naïve".

        June 24, 2012 at 9:58 am |
      • Debby

        And "abit" is two separate words.

        June 24, 2012 at 10:05 am |
      • Natalya

        When the truth bites your a..., you two have nothing left but become Grammar-Nazis. At least I speak 3 languages (fluently), can you say the same?

        June 24, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
      • nina

        So English is not a fluent language for you.
        What other languages do you butcher?

        June 25, 2012 at 6:48 am |
  15. Joe

    "The Kremlin harbors a deep-seated fear that authorizing outside military force to support rebellious populations might one day be used to license intervention in Russia."

    Sounds like paranoia to me!

    June 22, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Reply
    • Andrey

      Where did you get it from? Must be from the web....

      June 22, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Reply
      • Larry of the Dune

        I agree with you.
        Arab news through YouTube is skewed.

        June 22, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • Sharkfisher

      What makes you think that the U.S. hasn't laid itself open to U.N. or NATO intervention in its internal affairs by backing intervention into the affairs of other countries?

      June 23, 2012 at 11:24 am | Reply
  16. Vector

    Follow the Motive – Follow the Money:

    Israel has special military operatives working to over through Assad’s Syria.

    From Wiki Leaks: “Israeli security forces have undergone extensive training prior to the coup to over through the Syrian government (Assad's Syria). Israeli secret military operatives have undergone logistic training to arm and rallied Syrian Citizens to overthrow the Syrian Forces (Strategic Coup).”

    Same operations, transmissions, conducted in Libya to topple Muammar Gaddafi.

    Radio transmissions are easy to decrypt and bribes disclose secrets.

    For over a year – Israel has sent secret service agents, a coup to overthrow Assad’s Syria.
    Israel has special military operatives killing thousands of Syrian Armed Forces, Army, Navy, Air Force, Air Defense Force, and Paramilitary Forces.

    This Israeli NATO cover up is Mass Genocide the World will Stike Back Destroy The Empire The Oppression of OPEC.

    I do not support Israel killing over 10,000 human beings.

    Israel’s motive is clearer than Crude, Natural Resources, and relentless Greed.

    Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton have armed Israel with U.S. military weapons and weapons of mass destruction. This Israeli armament is the cause of Middle East instability and genocide.

    Anyone, any journalist, who denies the truth, breaks the commandments: Thou shall not bear false witness, Thou shall not kill, and Thou shall not steal – should remember – your antimatter, your soul is at stake; Heaven or Hell is for eternity.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Reply
    • Joe


      June 22, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Reply
  17. Vector

    Overthrow Overthrow Overthrow
    Monopolize Monopolize Monopolize
    Monopolies caused the 1929 Great Depression
    Monopolies caused the 1930 Great Depression
    Monopolies caused the 2007 Great Depression Economic World End
    Choose to be Honest
    Choose the Truth
    This is a test, fail the test and the end humanity.

    June 22, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Reply
    • Larry of the Dune

      Can you, could you, are you capable of explaining yourself>

      June 22, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Reply
  18. Leonard

    Vector, please come to reality. Israel has no interest in overthrowing Assad and replacing a secular Muslim ruler with a hardliner as in the case of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Russia is right. Foreign policy is run by a bunch of do good socialists at the UN, EU and the US and I am including the stupidity of the Bush administration as well. Russia is not only right but I hope they put troops, tanks and planes in Syria.

    June 22, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Reply
    • Andrey

      Nope, I do not think so. Intervening military is not done by Russia for more than 20 years now. And who in his right mind would do it there anyway? Ah, right...

      June 22, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Reply
    • KEVIN

      Leonard, Israel is super paranoid and very regressed in geo-politics. Unfortunately they hold alot of political power in the US. It is a huge and stupid risk for Israel to advocate for the overthrow of Assad. As you said, there is a very good chance that very radical and dangerous Israel haters (who will not negotiate) will take over Syria.

      June 23, 2012 at 3:03 am | Reply
  19. Lynnie

    We invade and "help" countries that DON'T want us there meanwhile Syrians have been BEGGING for help since the massacres started and we ignore them. If the UN stands for this, it needs to be disbanded. It is corrupt anyway and does no one any good. Just another way for the most dominant countries to keep the others down. They have a terrible record. The very least would be to kick Russia out. This is a disgrace to every country that has the means to help but sits around watching the body count rise.

    June 22, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Reply
    • Larry of the Dune

      and tomorrow you will say that we should not be involved in Syria's internal problems.
      Make up your mind.

      June 22, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Reply
    • KEVIN

      Lynnie, we see and feel alot of frustration with the UN. But in reality the UN keeps the big three (Russia, America and China) in communication with each other. The big three hold veto power for good reason: To keep each other in check militarily. Yes, it doesn't always work, but as we are witnessing now: This is a very healthy conflict being fought out diplomatically in front of the world's countries.

      June 23, 2012 at 3:24 am | Reply
  20. PhilW

    Interesting article, many wackadoodle comments. All very nice for Russia to portray itself as the reasonable one here, but fact is Obama admin. has so far resisted calls from neocon fools to go all military on Assad. So what exactly are the Russians complaining about? OK, so they got snookered on the Libya resolution. The UN hasn't been much help on Syria, anyway. What Obama has been doing, correctly so, is asking Putin to try to get Assad to arrange for some kind of orderly transition of power. The Russians can get all pious about sovereignty all they want, but just as there's some truth in their accusations of American hypocrisy, so too it's hard to avoid thinking Putin's reluctance to pressure Assad actually comes from the fear of losing their last strategic outpost in the Middle East. Furthermore, what is not smart about Russia's Syria policy, and is in fact very stupid, is their tying their fortunes to a sinking ship. No way that Assad succeeds: if the rebellion is put down, it will be at such a cost that his regime will have lost all claim to legitimacy. Or, worst case scenario, just as some of these Russian experts fear, a Sunni vs. Shia war breaks out. And who do you think will win that? (Hint: Shia are a minority) Conclusion: Russia's current Syria policy is, in fact, stupid, because they're setting themselves up to be roundly hated by post-Assad Syria. As the U.S. has found out more than once, in seeking to shore up a slimy ally, we only ensure that that country one day becomes anti-American.

    June 23, 2012 at 2:28 am | Reply
    • KEVIN

      Phil, I found the article fascinating in that these leaders and diplomats within Russia feel comfortable in agressively conflicting with each other on a world public format. I didn't realize Russia was so healthy in allowing freedom of speach.

      June 23, 2012 at 3:46 am | Reply
    • Andrey

      Orderly transition of power is certainly a grate idea. Let Islamists get Syrian army and its chemical weapons too. Israel will love it!
      Why do you require Russia to take part in this nonsense? On "moral grounds"? Hm....

      June 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Reply
  21. drake

    For once I miss George Bush ! He would have found yellow cake in Syria a long time ago , plus they have chemical weapons .

    June 23, 2012 at 2:39 am | Reply
    • KEVIN

      Plus, Syria is in the process of building an underground tunnel from Damascus to Tel Aviv in a plan to conduct a nuclear sneak attack.

      June 23, 2012 at 3:50 am | Reply
      • Larry of the Dune

        ahaha where oh where did you get this info ahahaha...
        Who says islamists do not have a sense of humour?

        June 23, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • leon

      Sure. This nation of liars like Bush would create any story so it can enslave yet another nation, instead of given them an opportunity to resolve their own issues.

      June 23, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Reply
  22. KEVIN

    Based on the diplomatic conflict WITHIN Russia, Hillary is going to have too much fun working with this new freedom of speach of it's leaders. I wish I could join her, but I am regressed in this level of diplomatic interpretation and practice (maybe)

    June 23, 2012 at 5:14 am | Reply
  23. Robert Postuma

    Where it comes to morality Russia never had it, nor ever will.

    June 23, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  24. Joew

    Welcome back to Cold War...

    June 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Reply
    • KEVIN

      Is this too much fun or what? Cold now, but very likely to defrost via negotiation btw. Russia, the US , China AND Iran

      June 23, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Reply
      • Ian

        The issue of freedom of expression is perhaps the most important political issue in the contemporary West but it is something that people are generally afraid to address for fear of causing offense. In a year when the EU hosts a meeting of the ‘Istanbul Process’, that seeks to further erode our right to freedom of expression at the behest of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation – a group of countries not well known for their support for free expression, the promotion of freedom of expression as one of the central pillars of our civilisation is urgently needed.

        June 25, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  25. leon

    US is the worse aggressor that the world has seen. The lies, the occupations of sovereign nations, the killings of innocent people and the monetary support to those who kill civilians. All this so that US can control and manipulate sovereign nations.
    US, nation of "NAZIS" has the nerve to accuse others!!!
    What US should do is fix its own problems, before getting involved in other countries affairs.

    June 23, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Reply
    • KEVIN

      leon, very,very true. We have become dependant on practicing this Nazi – type behavior to secure our high standard of living

      June 23, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Reply
  26. ReligiousGuy

    Sitting in US, I tend to agree with Russia on this. Iraq was all for oil. Afghanistan went away from simple hunt for OBL to badly managed regime change. Common man in both Libiya and Iraq are now in a condition worse than when the dictators were alive and in control. Now in Syria, some people calling themselves rebels are killing the govt. forces......I would consider those rebels as criminals engaging in illegal activity. Just because the rebels are asking US for help and the Syrian govt. is not cozying up with US, US wants Assad to go.

    June 23, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Reply
  27. Chris

    Unbelievably, the Russians have the moral high ground on us now, thanks to Clinton's double-cross of them in Serbia and Obama's bungled double-cross of them in Libya.

    The whole world is starting to see Democrats the way the GOP has sees them. Unreliable and insincere.

    June 23, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Reply
  28. Jinraj Joshipura

    West wants puppet leaders placed in every country to act as their country managers. Assad, Gaddafi, Mahathir and Mugabe did not accept the job but Mr. Ozal of Turkey, Marcos in Philippines did. West wants to oust all these leaders out of office including President Putin. West is worried about Syria, supports oppositions by calling them rebels whereas Taliban who opposes Western occupation, west calls them insurgents. West supports all Gulf Kingdoms and gives them military aid to suppress people asking democracy. West will not support them as they Gulf kings are the tenured branch or country managers. It is this Western hypocrisy that has angered Russia and hence it’s Veto. Fareed Zakaria knows this but will not write his opinion as I have written because he will lose his job as a western media manager (manipulator).

    June 24, 2012 at 12:26 am | Reply
    • Andrey

      That is a good description of what "moral" stance looks like. Russia obviously lacks the ambition to dominate the world so it takes the "rational" one instead.

      June 24, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Reply
  29. helenecha

    Russia has a long time relationship with Syria and had made it clear that Syrian regime change is up to Syrian people. Well, Russia takes no interest in supporting Syrian opposition group even if they're pretty courageous indeed. On that point, I’m not going to disagree that Russia is rational, but I’m not going to say that current Western policies are doing the efforts immoral.

    June 24, 2012 at 1:44 am | Reply
  30. JoeDon

    Using "Russia" and "moral" in the same sentence. That's funny...or pathetically ignorant.

    On a separate note, I tried to comment on CNN's most recent Hamas/Israel article but couldn't do so; must have the biased boys at CNN upset for my previous conservative comments to other articles. So here's my comment on that article: Once again, CNN delivers a completely biased, anti-Israel story; this time adding a photo of a Palestinian injured by Israeli retaliation to a Hamas rocket attack. Where are the stories of the thousands of Israelis killed or wounded by Hamas or Hezbollah attacks on Israelis over the decades??? Don't hold your breath because you won't see them in this rag. Poor, stupid CNN.

    June 24, 2012 at 3:59 am | Reply
    • KEVIN

      JoeDon, no photos of Israeli dead because the deaths never happened. The Israeli reported deaths of their own people are fabricated to rationalize their continued military actions to take over their niehboring countries.

      June 24, 2012 at 6:57 am | Reply
      • Debby

        Maybe Israel, unlike muslim countries, does not allow and promote the showing of its dead citizens to acquire sympathy.

        June 24, 2012 at 10:11 am |
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