September 13, 2013
JAMES TARANTO: Rules for Russians: Putin takes a page out of Alinsky.
Putin’s piece is aimed at influencing American public opinion for the purpose of undermining the effectiveness of American power. It deviously reinforces both dovish and hawkish arguments against the administration’s Syria policy. It reminds the doves that military action against Syria goes against everything they believe–and that Obama as a candidate claimed to believe. It reminds the hawks that Obama has shown no inclination or capacity to lead a serious military effort.
Washington’s responses have been pitiful. “That’s all irrelevant,” CNN quotes a White House official as saying: “[Putin] put this proposal forward and he’s now invested in it. That’s good. That’s the best possible reaction. He’s fully invested in Syria’s CW disarmament and that’s potentially better than a military strike–which would deter and degrade but wouldn’t get rid of all the chemical weapons. He now owns this. He has fully asserted ownership of it and he needs to deliver.”
In his op-ed, Putin even disputes that the regime used poison gas. “There is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists.” He isn’t committed to disarming the regime but to keeping it in power–a goal that is served by undermining whatever shred of resolve America might have had to act. . . .
Because America is so much mightier than Russia, the American presidency is a much stronger position than the Russian presidency. But a strong man in a position of weakness, if he is ruthless about taking advantage of his adversary’s vulnerabilities, can get the better of weak man in a position of strength. Saul Alinsky understood that, and so does Vladimir Putin.
Well, Putin does study judo.