Yesterday left off with “Putin, Erdogan meet face to face, but don’t see eye to eye” (Al-Monitor, June 19, 2015).

Trouble in “Hellidise” for the world’s most fabulous feudal lords?


Should some friction not attend Syria’s fragmenting implosion brought about by the implied bloody script this blog has referred to as “Assad vs The Terrorists”?

Sanctions have been up for a while; oil prices have been down for a while: such broad conditions brought about by large maneuvers, like “North American energy independence“, may have effects.

As a trading partner, Erdogan may have a little more edge with Putin these days; as a Sunni Muslim looking over the border and watching Daesh and other al-Qaeda-type groups continuing to rough up and tear apart Syria’s landscape, he has cause to let the scouring continue.  The teleology on which he has campaigned pits him against Putin-Assad-Khamenei’s interests on the Hezbollahian (militant Shiite) side of the great divide most immediately applicable to the continuing Great Struggle of Evil Against Evil in Syria, the modern and moderate, whoever they may be (ye shall know them one still distant day by their pro-Semitic / pro-Zionist lingo), having been killed, dispersed, rendered irrelevant, or otherwise sidelined for some years now.

This day appears to be closing (for me) with tomorrow’s news (gotta love the International Dateline): “US to deploy heavy weapons on NATO’s eastern flank” (AFP, Yahoo, June 24, 2015).

From my portion of The Awesome Conversation:

While generally attaching Erdogan to Putin-Khamenei as another medieval-minded autocrat with strong interest in sustaining feudal models of power against the democratic west, there may be some unraveling within this drift as depressed oil revenues (for Russia), other punitive measures (like sanctions), and some military repositioning take place in response to Russia’s aggression in Crimea. For Erdogan, whether he likes it or not (I’m starting to appreciate that phrase), Turkey remains a NATO member with a significant modern constituency. While Erdogan wants his White Palace — I think he’s moved in, I’m not sure — the whole world is watching in an open and robust global information environment. For that, both leaders may have a little less operating room as despots than they may have had 25 years ago.


The “big picture” — how the feudal world may change as the modern one moves around it — is easier (for me) to see today than was the case just a few years ago.

From an amateur’s perspective, the smaller pictures might require country specialization and language ability. It’s just easier following heads of state than the numerous personalities, agencies, and committees involved in producing the world’s political landscapes and their narratives.

The long diplomacy and now evident maneuvering have been dangerous, of course, but even portrayed as playing poker against Obama’s chess, Putin’s own programming has a predictable aspect to it.  Via the day’s e-mail feed, World Affairs promoted “Imperial Ambitions: Russia’s Military Buildup” (May/June 2015):

In September 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted that he could, at will, occupy any Eastern European capital in two days. This apparently spontaneous utterance reveals, probably more than Russia’s new official defense doctrine, Moscow’s true assessment of NATO’s capabilities, cohesion, and will to resist. In an echo of Soviet tactics, it also reflects Putin’s reflexive recourse to intimidation—e.g., unwarranted boasting about Russian military capabilities and intentions—as a negotiating strategy. In 2014 alone, Moscow repeatedly threatened the Baltic and Nordic states and civilian airliners, heightened intelligence penetration, deployed unprecedented military forces against those states, intensified overflights and submarine reconnaissance, mobilized nuclear forces and threats, deployed nuclear-capable forces in Kaliningrad, menaced Moldova, and openly violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987.

Much of Putin’s tenure has been about a Russian feudal revanche complete with “New Nobility” and a $51 billion winter spectacle (Sochi, while Syria’s Assad was barrel bombing millions of Syrians out of their lives and homes to make way for The Terrorists by refraining from doing the same to them at the time).

As noted in passing, while Khamenei may be going gangbusters with wars by proxy, one may wonder today how much the same have cost him by way of the continuing faith and loyalty of those patronized.  The public talk-and-walk by Nasrallah may not change much, and, indeed, if the enemy nearby is Daesh or another of the type, the situation demands that he inspire and prepare his community for greater challenges to come, and that he keep his backers happy, but the same now take place in an atmosphere of stalemate over a wartorn landscape.

Such combat proves not a fast game but an agonizingly slow grind.

Where the finger-pointing takes place — how could it not be taking place offstage? — some portion must point back to Moscow and Tehran — Putin and Khamenei — for perverting a mild people’s revolution in Damascus to hold together the Ghosts of the Soviet and the maintenance of old and new privileged through time-honored and familiar but perfectly despicable feudal practices.

Sideways and Forward

Laub, Karin (AP).  “New think tank in Jordan watching Israel shows discreet, growing ties between countries.”  U.S. News & World Report, June 22, 2015.

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