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Tillerson arrives in Moscow to push Putin on Syria

29 Comments
By JOSH LEDERMAN

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29 Comments
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if Assad uses chemical weapons again

Your IQ would have to be below room temperature to believe that Assad would order a chemical attack, especially since these attacks offer no measureable military advantage or benefit to Assad at all.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

the U.S. accused Russia of a disinformation campaign

I have to believe it's true, but I also think Russia could say the same thing about the US.

One of the world's highest priorities has to be finding and developing alternatives to burning so much petroleum. There's no reason the world's oil corporations, be they US, Russian, British, French, Dutch, Iranian, Arabian, Nigerian, wherever, should have so much control over our lives. How many million more people have to have their lives destroyed in the name of big oil?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

One of the parties is ideologically honest and the other is a hyper partisan cult. Can you spot which is which?

Democrats: 37% support Trump's Syria strikes 38% supported Obama doing it

GOP: 86% supported Trump doing it 22% supported Obama doing

In exchange for giving up Assad...we will lift the sanctions on Russia. And maybe if Russia is extra nice to us, we will let them keep the Ukraine too! Sounds like a deal.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If Trump's credibility wanes, that's not good for Russians, after putting so much effort on him

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I hope that what the Russian government concludes is that they have aligned themselves with an unreliable partner in Bashar al-Assad,

Yes not like our partners alqaeda, isis and their ilk.

I don't understand the logic of heading to another nation to come to a conclusion that you've already drawn. My way or the highway?

“The reign of the Assad family is coming to an end,”

A reign that was accommodated until there was failure to tow the line. Typical operus moderandi!!

But if Moscow ignores Trump’s entreaties or if Assad uses chemical weapons again, bad options await Trump

Let me take a moment to predict the next events. Despite being illogical and non beneficial to the government seeing as they have the terrorist thugs on the ropes, there will inevitably be another wmd attack that will then 'force' america to come in and save the day. I don't know what stings the most. That this is so blatantly obvious or that many people still fail to realize the pattern of the military industrial complex. Disgusting!!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

unfounded U.S. claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction

Headline from 2050: "Russia brings up Iraq from 50 years ago when facing questions from America this week about..."

0 ( +1 / -1 )

unfounded U.S. claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction

Truth, albeit one that Russia Today and other Kremlin employees are paid to repeat in as many online forums as possible while deflecting any criticism of the Putin regime and distracting from Russia's ongoing plans to re-establish its empire in the Baltics and other places. Look out Lithuania.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

As of now there is no scheduled meeting with Putin. = Most of this article is based on pure speculation.

-As for Russia siding with the "Rebels", moderates, McCain's Army, Al-CIAeda = not going to happen and why would Russia/Syria give up the gains and momentum when they are winning and pushing these terrorists back to Turkey/Saudi Arabia et al.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Russia's invasion of Crimea was the most illegal and outrageous violation of international sovereignty we've seen since Hitler annexed Poland in 1939. Lifting the Crimea sanctions on Russia in exchange for removing just one man would be incredibly short-sighted and stupid, especially when we have no control over who would replace Assad. It's exactly what Russia wants at this point and it would set an incredibly dangerous precedent. Putin would be emboldened to keep annexing countries with ethnic Russian populations, and it would give China a blueprint for how to link the South China Sea issue (and possible a Senkaku Invaision) with support for Kim Jong Un. Every future dictator under sanctions would look to insert himself into an international conflict in the Middle East or Africa in hopes of striking a similar deal.

King Abdullah of Jordan (another dictator and serial human rights abuser in Assad's neighbourhood), has come out in favour of this 'horse-trading' as he calls it. It should be resisted at all costs. If anything, the Crimea sanctions should be expanded rather than lifted. Putin's meddling in Syria must not be rewarded in even the slightest way.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Rex just probably went there to confirm that Russia got the cruise missile strike memo and that they didn't have any Russian personnel harmed, or assets destroyed by it. He's there to apologize if there were.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

22% supported Obama doing

Seems correct, especially after Obama back tracked on his Syria promise the GOP had a lot of reservations and trust with his stance on the issue and that's why so many of them were skeptical as to what actions will he follow up on and won't.

In exchange for giving up Assad...we will lift the sanctions on Russia. And maybe if Russia is extra nice to us, we will let them keep the Ukraine too! Sounds like a deal.

Obama refused to aid the Ukrainians when Putin annexed Crimea, were you equally outraged by that?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Time for the replacement of Bashar Assad but achieving that will be an near impossible task. First, he needs to agree to that. An immediate withdraw of the Russian military and the resigning of Assad would only cause a greater bloodbath with IS and Al Qaeda would moving into the streets of Damascus and being their slaughters of the innocents and civilians.

Its far easier to start a war than to end one.

The civil war was allowed to get out of control and now involves so many different groups. Cease fires must be achieved but that is unlikely with the IS and Al Qaeda groups. Russia and Assad need to stop their aerial bombings. All sides need to observe the ceasefire.

There have been many other conflicts which have achieved peace or in the process of achieving it. Like in Colombia with the Farc. Make peace with who can, when you can. The Farc lasted 50 years.

The sanctions against Russia over Ukraine can’t be exchanged for something in Syria.

The road to peace and a new democracy in Syria will be a long and difficult one.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

These politicians have got to be the ugliest specimens of our species. That's what happens when you're rotten to the core. Analogous to junk food, corruption, inhumanity, gluttony, build up in the body and creep into the flesh and seep from the pores. The result is dead, pallid flesh, double and triple chins, obscene waistlines, all around intoxication--just drunk and red in the face from power.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

bass: Seems correct, especially after Obama back tracked on his Syria promise the GOP had a lot of reservations and trust with his stance on the issue and that's why so many of them were skeptical as to what actions will he follow up on and won't.

You haven't read the articles showing how the GOP did not want to give Obama the authority for airstrikes? We've posted quite a few of them, even from right-wing sources, from back in 2013. Check them out if you have the chance. I'd also be interested in seeing what right-wing blogs posted in 2013, if you have any links handy.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Russia's invasion of Crimea was the most illegal and outrageous violation of international sovereignty we've seen since Hitler annexed Poland in 1939.

What?! That was a fair referendum. Trump's attack against the Syrian airfield is much worse than the referendum.

Russia and Assad need to stop their aerial bombings. All sides need to observe the ceasefire.

Nah, Russia should instead increase their attacks and wipe out all the terrorists once and for all. If the US can just stay out of it, they'll get the job done soon.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Meanwhile White House Press Secretary Sean Sphincter (spelling?) claims that not even Hitler used chemical weapons.

alternative facts
1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Raw Beer

What?! That was a fair referendum. Trump's attack against the Syrian airfield is much worse than the referendum.

Both were illegal under international law. Whether one was worse than the other is a moot point in my opinion. Sorry if you see it differently but I have to call them as I see them.

Even if the referendum was the fairest the world had ever seen, it had no legal legitimacy. The people of Crimea had no more right to call a referendum to secede from Ukraine than Chechen seperatists have to secede from Russia, or Syria rebels have to secede from Syria. The idea that any group of people can simply call a referendum and override national sovereignty is a myth (one that has unfortunately been propagated by the British in recent decades).

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"Russia's invasion of Crimea was the most illegal and outrageous violation of international sovereignty we've seen since Hitler annexed Poland in 1939."

Russia didn't invade Crimea. The troops that were already there secured Crimea from an illegal coup of the central Ukraine govt., started by the U.S. Crimea--historically part of Russia--voted almost 97% to return to Russia. Comparing this to Hitler's annexation of Poland is absurd and shows you have a precarious grip on history. The Russians of the Crimea made the right decision, as Ukraine has gone down the toilet. The Kerch Strait Bridge will be opened next year, with the rail link to be opened the following year. The poor people across the border in Ukraine will watch as the Crimea thrives economically in the years to come.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

The troops that were already there secured Crimea from an illegal coup of the central Ukraine govt., started by the U.S.

Whether Russian troops were already stationed in Crimea is irrelevant. I use the word 'invasion' as shorthand for violating sovereignty. Even assuming the coup constituted a crime under Ukrainian law and was funded by the CIA, where does it says that this would give the Crimeans the right to call a referendum and secede? You need to point to either the Ukrainian constitution or some general principal of international law if you think this is justified.

Just out of curiosity, what is the law in Russia? If illegal protestors were to storm the Kremlin and Putin was forced to temporarily flee for his safety, would the law give people in all parts of Russia the right to call referendums and secede from the Federation? Or would their rights be limited to trying to restore order and bring any criminals to justice? Of course, as with every coup in history if most people support it then you run into enforcement difficulties.

Essentially, your Crimea logic sounds similar to the American justification for the unilateral Syrian strike: "Assad violated the law by using chemical weapons, therefore we will also break the law by violating the UN charter". This is obviously not how things work.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Whether Russian troops were already stationed in Crimea is irrelevant.

I wonder what would you do as a leader of a country? NATO has broken their promise and getting closer and closer to Russian borders, the US then trying to destabilize Ukriane, as if they needed any help, by initiating a coup. What action would you take? I'm hoping I do t need to spell out the significance that Crimea is to Russia, but if I can speculate, I would say it's similar to what Hawaii is to the US. Of course, if you're in the anti-Russia camp for what ever reason, not sure I could get an objective answer.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

The way you describe it, parts of any country (artificial lines drawn by someone on a map) never have the right to secede under international law. The U.S. itself was formed in violation of international law, or the dissolution of Yugoslavia was illegal (again, the hand of the U.S. was involved)--or even that of the USSR. Crimea wasn't really supposed to be part of an independent Ukraine anyway and the people made the wise choice to rejoin Russia for the safety of the people and their culture. It was absolutely nothing like your silly Hitler analogy.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

You need to point to either the Ukrainian constitution or some general principal of international law if you think this is justified.

Kosovo

International precedent of an ethnic region separating from a country, recognized by all NATO member states in 1999.

Checkmate.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@FizzBit

Of course, if you're in the anti-Russia camp for what ever reason, not sure I could get an objective answer.

I'm in the anti-breaking the international rules that your country has signed onto camp. Whether it's an illegal airstrike or an illegal annexation, the name of the country is not important to me.

There are certainly complicated military, historical, ethnic and geopolitical motivations to explain why Russia acted the way it did in Crimea, but whether they acted illegally is a much simpler question. The answer is clearly yes. This doesn't make Russians evil or mean that Putin belongs in jail, but is means Russia broke the rules and it should either correct their actions or, in the extreme case, give up their seat on organisations and withdraw from treaties who's rules they are no longer able to abide by.

As to what I would do if I were Putin, that's obviously a difficult question. I would probably apply to join the European Union. Failing that, I would have used some of the billions spent on the Sochi games to build my own deep water port on the Black sea coast so I no longer had to rent one from Ukraine

2 ( +2 / -0 )

but is means Russia broke the rules and it should either correct their actions or, in the extreme case, give up their seat on organisations and withdraw from treaties who's rules they are no longer able to abide by.

And what about the CIA backed Nuland cookies and coup? How is it you can talk about Crimea but ignore what precipitated it. Last I checked, organizing a coup in another country is breaking some kind of rules.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

"As Tillerson landed in Moscow, senior White House officials briefed reporters on declassified U.S. intelligence they said disproved Russia’s claim that rebels were responsible for the chemical weapons. In an accompanying four-page memo, the U.S. accused Russia of a disinformation campaign and aiding Syria in covering up the gruesome attack, which killed more than 80 people.

“Russia’s allegations fit with a pattern of deflecting blame from the regime and attempting to undermine the credibility of its opponents,” the report read.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon, “It is very clear who planned this attack, who authorized this attack and who orchestrated this attack.”

This makes Baby Assad and Putin look bad.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYPd_l6GfEk

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Uh, why would Assad or anyone (other than the terrorists who did it before and tried to pin it on the Syrian government) do this? There is no reason. It would tip their hand to show they had chemical weapons. The terrorists were importing it through Turkey.

What would they gain by having the world be outraged?

Who gains from this? Assad and the Russians would gain nothing.

Come on people, think,

3 ( +3 / -0 )

When he was Exxon Mobil chair, he was having big Russian oil deal with Put in and he received some kind of gold medal honored by Russia. He might be ignorant about other Asian countries but he will try tho meet his old business friend.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@FizzBit

And what about the CIA backed Nuland cookies and coup? How is it you can talk about Crimea but ignore what precipitated it. Last I checked, organizing a coup in another country is breaking some kind of rules.

Yes, the principle of non-intervention in domestic affairs would likely cover this. America has a long and sordid history of this sort of thing and it's nothing to be proud of. But again, an illegal action by America does not justify more illegality by Russia. If you want an example of how it's done properly, look to Nicaragua. In 1986 they took the US to the International Court of Justice and won. America was ordered to pay $370 million in damages. It was a huge embarrasment that nobody has forgotten about it.

The rise of Putin is unfortunate because Russia used to be a leader on the world stage and a powerful voice of opposition to the US agenda. They used to have fairly good relations with most European countries and many people in the west took them seriously. Putin has largely destroyed Russia's international reputation and credibility since Georgia in 2008.

Have you watched the Bolivian ambassador's speech on Syria at the UN? That used to be Russia. A coherent voice of opposition which, at the very least, made us think twice about what America was up to. Not anymore unfortunately.

@Joeintokyo

The way you describe it, parts of any country (artificial lines drawn by someone on a map) never have the right to secede under international law.

Yes, countries have deliberately decided to make the rules that govern the break up of countries somewhat onerous and difficult to achieve. This should come as no surprise.

In most cases your own country's domestic laws must authorise it (ie. the Scottish or Quebec referenda, partition of India, or agreement to disolve Czechoslovakia). Alternatively you can try to invoke the very vague right to self-determination of 'peoples' found in the UN Charter. This has never been properly defined or decisively succeded anywhere. The 's' in peoples is critically important. People don't have a right to self determination, but 'peoples' do. Peoples must be formally recognised by the international community somehow. The Palestinian 'peoples' are thought to satisfy this requirement. The Crimean people(s) probably don't. Neither do the Falkland Islanders (sorry Britain).

The U.S. itself was formed in violation of international law, or the dissolution of Yugoslavia was illegal (again, the hand of the U.S. was involved)--or even that of the USSR.

The American revolutionaries were certainly considered traitors and criminals at the time, but this was a domestic issue. It's the story of every revolution and coup in history. If it succeeds then it succeeds, if it doesn't, people are arrested and thrown in prison. After the revolution, other countries recognised the independent existence of America and it became a country at this point. Crimean secession has been recognised only by Russia, Afganistan, Cuba, Syria and a handful of others. Not a critical mass of the international community. The dissolution of Yugoslavia is a mess that we are still trying to resolve.

@Burning Bush

Kosovo. International precedent of an ethnic region separating from a country, recognized by all NATO member states in 1999. Checkmate.

Many countries do not recognise Kosovo and its future is very uncertain so I don't think it sets any precedent. Spain does not recognise it and they are a NATO member. The recognition of Kosovo is also much more recent (2008 rather than 1999). Most importantly for the purposes of Crimea, Russia does not recognise Kosovo or the Kosovar's right to self determination. How can Russia hold both of these positions simultaneously?

(I will have to sign off for today but thanks for the good debate on the issues, even if we disagree.)

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon, “It is very clear who planned this attack, who authorized this attack and who orchestrated this attack.”

They've been saying that kind of stuff for decades as excuses for their aggressions. And those baseless accusations are consistently followed by "oh, we had mistaken intelligence". They consistently lie, and the people keep on believing them.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

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