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Obama, Putin: Checkmate

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Russian President Vladimir Putin’s message at the UN General Assembly was stark; either sovereign states get together in a broad coalition against all forms of terror, and the principle of statehood is respected as enshrined in the UN charter – or there will be chaos.

This UN General Assembly revealed that the Obama administration’s perpetual newspeak does not cut it anymore. A review of UN speeches by both Putin and Obama is almost painful to watch. Putin acted like a serious global statesman. Obama acted like a poseur flunking a screen test.

Putin’s key talking points could not but be easily accessible to the Global South – his prime audience, much more than the industrialized West.

1) The export of color – or monochromatic – revolutions is doomed.

2) The alternative to the primacy of statehood is chaos. This implies that the Assad system in Syria may be immensely problematic, but it’s the only game in town. The alternative is ISIS/ISIL/Daesh barbarism. There’s no credible “moderate opposition” – as there was not in NATO-“liberated” Libya.

3) Only the UN – as flawed as it may be – is a guarantor of peace and security in our imperfect, realpolitik geopolitical environment.

Gotta slay those myths

Washington believed its own Arab Spring myth in 2011, betting that after Tunis and Cairo, Damascus would fall in a flash.

The Beltway believed its own myth of “moderate rebels” taking power.

The Beltway did not listen to Syrian minorities warning about the danger of an extremist Sunni/Salafi-jihadi take over.

Thus the current Syrian tragedy; the end result of a formidably complex power play, political and religious, Syrian, regional and global.

ISIS/ISIL/Daesh – for all its barbarism – may eventually win a few battles, but it won’t control the whole of “Syraq”.

To defeat the cancer, there’s only one possibility: a real military campaign conducted by a real coalition including the US, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia.

Washington though never joins a coalition that it cannot control at will.

Thus a possible road map of what may lie ahead – as debated by Obama and Putin, face to face, for 90 minutes in New York; a two-headed coalition, one led by the US, the other led by Russia, but “coordinating” on the ground.

Still, Moscow will be struggling to form a wide-ranging coalition duly approved by the UN.

The task is immense. “Syraq” will have to be reconstituted.

That implies an Iraq acceptable for all Iraqis – and that’s impossible to accomplish without Iran. And a Syria acceptable to all Syrians – and that’s impossible without Iran and Russia.

Washington after all would have never been able to accomplish both in the first place. The Empire of Chaos specializes in nation breaking, not nation building.

Gotta slay that dragon

Gorbachev wanted to integrate the USSR in the European family – aiming for a Europe from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Post-Soviet Russia though was not even invited to enter the house. What happened was NATO colonization of the former Soviet space.

Gorbachev dreamed that the West would share peace dividends with Russia. What Russia got instead was a neoliberal shock – and a humiliated society treated as a loser of the Cold War. Exceptionalism prevailed.

Under Putin, Russia tried once again a strategic partnership with the EU. Does anyone remember Sergey Lavrov as late as 2011 swearing that modernization of Russia was ready to go as a pan-European project, just as in the time of Peter the Great?

Yet by 2007, Putin had changed the game, and was ready to openly contest the unipolar “order” – and slowly but surely project Russia back to the geopolitical limelight.

Post-Ukraine, still under sanctions, but armed with a strategic partnership with China, the time for a checkmate is now.

In New York, Putin even proposed the lineaments of a New World Order. The genuine article, not that “vision thing” concocted by Daddy Bush post-collapse of the USSR.

It would be an equitable, fair world order – where state sovereignty is respected, sanctions are meaningless, NATO ceases to expand ad infinitum and exceptionalism does not apply.

The devil will be in the (many) details, of course. For instance, if a coalition to fight ISIS/ISIL/Daesh is forged and blessed by the UN, it will need the – virtually impossible – cohabitation of Sunnis and Shi’ites.

And in the near future, Brussels will have to tame visceral internal antagonism to have the European Union interacting with the Russia-led Eurasia Economic Union (EEU), which by that time will be totally integrated with the China-led New Silk Roads.

What’s certain – for the overwhelming majority of the Global South – is that the Empire of Chaos made a mess everywhere, from Northern Africa and Southwest Asia to Russia’s western borderlands.

Putin now rides into the hellish mess ready to slay the dragon of chaos – and the machinations of the Empire of Chaos. His sword? The UN. No wonder checkmated neocons, neoliberalcons and “humanitarian” imperialists can barely conceal their apoplexy.

This piece first appeared at Sputnik News.

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Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).  His latest book is Empire of ChaosHe may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

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