Recently, the U.N. Security Council was set to issue a resolution condemning the violent crackdown that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had levied against anti-government protesters. The resolution was set to take on Assad’s government (as much as the U.N. can do such a thing). Unfortunately, the resolution failed at the last minute as there were two “negative” votes that squashed the resolution.
Not surprising, the votes that failed the resolution came from China and Russia. While such actions from these two nations in the context of the U.N. Security Council are nothing new, I do feel that these votes of dissension in this context are a harbinger of bad things to come for one country in particular that will have global consequences…Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
I know what you are thinking: “But Vladimir Putin is no longer the President of Russia.” HAHA! Oh man, that’s a good one… TECHNICALLY, yes Putin is not the President of Russia (Dmitry Medvedev is the current puppet… I mean president). If you have followed Russian politics over the past ten years, you will know that although Putin stepped down after his second term, he never truly left office.
The Russian constitution prevented Putin from running for a third consecutive term as president. Upon his exit, Dmitry Medvedev was voted as Russia’s president. The day after he took office, he appointed none other than Vladimir Putin as the Prime Minister of Russia. And while the position of Prime Minister of Russia is a position of goodwill and what I would call “light diplomacy” (the responsibilities of this position are akin to that of the Queen of England), there has been no mistaking whom is truly in charge of Russia (Hint: NOT Medvedev).
So, while Putin was only president from 2000-2008, you could certainly argue that he has been in charge from 2000-Present… And he’s looking for more. The next Presidential election in Russia is set for March of 2012, but it is a foregone conclusion that Putin will win the election and officially step back into Russia’s most desired seat of power (And take a WILD GUESS who will be appointed his Prime Minister… HINT: His last name starts with an “M” and ends with a “v”). This unto itself is not a crime under the Russian constitution, but it surely smacks of corruption and does not sit well with a populace that is facing harsh economic realities that seem to be getting worse every day thanks to the aforementioned corruption.
Enter, The Opposition… There is a groundswell of people that are fed up with the current and perceived future state of affairs in Russia. This groundswell is made up of: lawyers, judges, politicians, activists, musicians, artists, dissidents, journalists, TV personalities, writers, actors, directors, voters… Humans. People tend to equate their quality of life with whomever happens to be in control of their country (crazy, I know). Unfortunately for A LOT of Russians, the quality of life has deteriorated under the Putin regime (both officially and unofficially).
Not only has the quality of life deteriorated, but a select few (see: Putin’s select cronies) have actually become wealthier as the masses experience quite the opposite. Precious national resources (oil, gold, diamonds) continue to be controlled by the select few I just referred to. Because of this Putin sponsored corruption and the rapidly devaluing rubble, Russia is ill equipped to withstand the current global economic crisis, more so than any other of the G8 nations. Putin’s priorities begin and end with himself, not with his populace. For this and the other reasons stated, the current groundswell will eventually shift gears from peaceful protests to a violent uprising. Which begs the question… How will Putin handle his populace once such uprisings occur?
I have NO DOUBT Putin will give the order to open fire on his own people when the time arrives. He is willing to fight and spill blood to secure his position of power and wealth. He will do so under the guise of calling those who oppose him “terrorists”. He will speak of these “terrorists” in terms of their “attacks” on the state and the military. He will claim that the use of force is not only justified, but necessary in order to “protect” Russia. If this any of this is starting to sound familiar, it should. This is the same rhetoric Syrian President Assad is using in his brutal war against revolutionaries and civilians alike in his own nation. To crawl into the mind of Putin during such an uprising, you will know that the violence he will bring will be swift and brutal.
He will do so out of fear. Fear fueled by great distances and a great many people. The simple fact is that Russia is the largest country in the world (6,592,800 sq mi). As large as the Russia’s army is, it can not possibly be EVERYWHERE at once. You combine these facts with the newest tools of any revolution (Twitter/Facebook) and Putin could find things getting out of control very quickly. This isn’t like the Arab Spring in say Egypt.
Tahir Square was the focal point of the revolution. Almost all protests and clashes took part there as the size to population relationship of the country dictated such events being focused in basically one place. While there might be epicenters of revolution in Russia, it is a fire that would spread wide and far if given the proper amount of “fuel”. Putin will do his best to deny any revolution of said “fuel”. He need only look to his partner in opposition at the U.N. Security Council to find a strategy that would work best.
China is the most populated nation (1.2 BILLION people) in the world and has a history of stamping out any protest or violence that has the slightest tinge of revolution no matter what world public opinion might say (Tiananmen Square anybody?). Two nations with similar and ever present “problems” voting “No” on the same resolution. There’s actually a name for that…
It’s called: “Covering your ass”. China and Russia stood against the U.N. Security Council’s resolution for the simple reason that they relate to President Assad. Not only do they relate, but in the case of Vladimir Putin, it is something that is a VERY real possibility in the near future. If/when The Opposition in Russia take up arms against Putin and his government, Putin will point back to Russia’s vote against the resolution as a form of precedent. He will refer to it in terms of “we didn’t support such resolutions in the past and we strongly suggest you don’t bring such a resolution to fruition now”.
Needless to say, China will be Russia’s most vehement supporter in such a scenario. The two largest nations standing side by side in support of “carte blanche” violence when wielded on any of their own who choose to dissent is a very dangerous scenario. While this stance seems a tad bit innocuous now (the people of Syria certainly don’t see it that way), it is indeed a precursor to a potential global-political shit storm in the future. While I have taken some liberties to project into the future this worst case scenario for Russia and it’s people, I feel like the past 10 years of politics combined with the current economic situation as well as the most recent U.N. Security Council vote give some credence to my projection.
Vladimir Putin is a smart man. You don’t get to the position he is at by being and idiot. You also don’t get to a position like that without being the meanest dog on the block. You’ve probably seen pictures of Putin over the past four years shaking hands, kissing babies, inspecting new factories, fishing, signing, dancing, attending sporting events, taking part in sporting events, etc. Don’t be fooled. He is indeed the future (and present) face of evil and it’s his present and future actions that will place the G8 nations (not to mention the people of Russia) in a very precarious position.