[Marxism] Fwd: Putin shows his realism in Syria - Al Jazeera English

Joseph Green jgreen at communistvoice.org
Fri Oct 16 23:32:01 MDT 2015

Louis Proyect wrote: 
> I think that Anatol Lieven is terminally cynical but he does have a 
> point here--namely that American spooks see the wisdom of what Russia is 
> doing. However, it is dubious that the "moderate" (whatever that means) 
> opposition is not a serious military force. Otherwise why would Russia 
> be carrying out a "shock and awe" operation against it:

Indeed, an opposition that has held out so long against so many different 
forces is like the man who wasn't there, and wasn't there again today,  but 
they wish, they really wish, he would go away.

Meanwhile Lieven's standpoint on Syria reflects his longstanding attitude 
towards world politics.

Anatol Lieven is a serious author of various works, but a supporter of 
free-market capitalism whose standpoint is that everything would be fine if 
the big imperialist powers (not what he calls them) just played together 
nicely. To achieve this, he wishes that Russia were allowed its role as one 
of the big powers. His cavalier attitude to the Syrian struggle against 
dictatorship is similar to the attitude he put forward earlier towards the 
Chechens: as small peoples,  they're irrelevant. So now he praises the bloody 
Russian policy in Syria, and regards it as the realistic policy for world 

Back in 2000, I reviewed  his 1998 book "Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian 
Power".   I pointed out that "From the title of the book,one might assume 
that Lieven didn't just oppose the Russian war on Chechnya, but was gloating 
with malicious glee as the last rites were being read for the Russian 
nation." Indeed, some people took the book that way. But I pointed out that 
his standpoint was actually quite different: his criticisms of the then 
Russian fiasco in Chechnya and of the Russian state were intended to help 
strengthen what he called Russia's "present very weak and qualified 
'imperial' identity." He might "honour the courage and tenacity of the 
Chechen people", but he basically found their fate irrelevant. With respect 
to policy, I wrote that his concern "was with Western policy towards Russia; 
he doesn't want the Western powers to create a backlash in Russia by refusing 
it entry to the big power club. Thus there is nothing at all [in his book] 
about Russia's failure to recognize the right to self-determination having 
created the bloodbath in Chechnya; and even less than nothing about what 
stand the workers of Russia should have towards the policies of their 
exploiters. Lieven's concern is simply to regulate the relations among the 
big powers, and Chechnya was not a big power. He opposes those unregenerate 
Cold Warriors who want to continue the struggle against Russia into the 
present, but his standpoint is simply that Russian imperialism is as 
legitimate as Western imperialism. As for the Russian bourgeoisie (not his 
term, of course), which he repeatedly denounces as 'compradors', he simply 
wants them to become patriotic."

It is a sad commentary on how far the advocates of non-class anti-imperialism 
have fallen that, in the name of anti-imperialism,  their standpoint isn't 
much different from Lieven's. It is a policy of imperialism in the name of 

-- Joseph Green

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