When it Comes to Russia’s Bombing of Syria, its not What you Think

By Said E. Dawlabani and Elza S. Maalouf

Since Russian President Putin began his military air campaign in Syria, Western media has offered a myriad of half-baked analysis for his motivation. Today’s news agencies are completely detached from the idea of consulting with history. If they were to do so, they will quickly come to the conclusion that all Putin is doing is using the same modus operandi that Russia, Europe and the US have used in the region for decades.

Russian MIG



The Arab Oil Embargo of the 1970s taught the West very valuable lessons on the volatility of oil markets: Threaten the supply and the price of crude oil will double if not triple in a short period of time. Since then, it has been in the West’s best interest to keep the region unstable in order to sell the fear that oil supply is under constant threat. This was the lever that many US administrations pulled including Bush/Cheney’s real reasons for invading Iraq. Successive Russian administration went along with this philosophy since it benefited them in both arms sales and as the world’s largest oil producer. As a result of these blood-soaked policies, hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East have died, and the objective of keeping oil prices artificially high was met.


In 2008 America voted for hope and change, and with it came the most passive foreign policy in modern US history. The idea that the US will no longer be the RED/Blue global police automatically activated the next Reds in line to fill the vacuum.Putin, intent on reclaiming past glory of mother Russia fired the first shot by invading Ukraine. President Obama countered with a stern speech and several bullet points outlining why in his words “This wasn’t 21st century behavior.”

The US and its allies immediately imposed sanctions on Russia hoping that Vlad will have a sudden attack of conscious and tap into the same delusional Green Kool-Aid the Obama Administration has been drinking from.

Punishing Putin meant crippling the Russian economy, and what a better way to do that than killing Putin’s cash cow; oil. The US and Western Europe flooded oil market with increased shale production in the US. In an unprecedented move, they demanded that Saudi Arabia not reduce its production quota, guaranteeing the complete decimation of Russia’s economy.

obama ME chess

The idea that Putin will be forced to withdraw from Ukraine with his tail between his legs is a clear indicator of the West’s inability to assess emerging Red leaders around the world. Putin, a past KGB operative was all too familiar with the principles of Middle Eastern instability.


As the West lifted sanctions on Iran, Russia got the military supplies piece of the spoils. Shortly thereafter, Iran announced that it would partner with Russia to make what Middle Eastern analysts call the “Shi’a Crescent” a reality. For readers who are not familiar with the term, this is Iran’s dream of establishing a Pan-Arabian Shia region that spans from Iran, through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. To Putin, this serves his ego on several fronts: One, he’s providing a new regional military counter balance to the West and two, he’s beating the West in its own game by destabilizing the region to bring up oil prices. The good old strategy has worked yet again. Just since the Russian air strikes began last week, crude oil has reversed a yearlong trend and is up 10% on global markets.

oil graph

One might also ask why is Russia bombing the Syrian opposition, not ISIL. Putin’s immediate goal is to punish Saudi Arabia for siding with the West on economic sanctions. This is not strategic, its RED eye-for-an-eye. The Saudis and other rich Sunni Gulf countries are the primary supporters of the Syrian rebels and that’s whom Putin is bombing.

When it comes to destabilizing the Middle East, Putin is not as diabolical as the West. He doesn’t hide behind the idea that he’s bringing democracy and the one-person one vote system. No, he’s very clear about who his new friends are. They’re the Arab Shi’a that include Assad’s Alawite sect, which is a branch of Shi’a Islam. Trained Shi’a fighters are seasoned killers, unlike any other Arab groups the West trains as fighters. They have a highly regimented (False) Blue organizational structure which gives them a purpose and that is to fight and die for Imam Ali so Shi’a Islam can prevail. Today, they are being trained by the thousands, thanks to the lifting of sanctions on Iran, which are bankrolling their trainers, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

iran grd

In the post American century, this is how you divide and conquer the Middle East. It’s done by giving power to a false purpose that ignites the sectarian need to kill. Not by naively promising democracy. As for the idea of a peaceful Middle East? That paradigm might crystallize a few hundred years after oil disappears.

This image taken in Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 posted on the Twitter account of Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, a volunteer search and rescue group, shows the aftermath of an airstrike in Talbiseh, Syria. Russia on Wednesday carried out its first airstrikes in Syria in what President Vladimir Putin called a pre-emptive strike against the militants. Khaled Khoja, head of the Syrian National Council opposition group, said at the U.N. that Russian airstrikes in four areas, including Talbiseh, killed dozens of civilians, with children among the dead. (Syria Civil Defence via AP)
(Syria Civil Defence via AP)

You can file this one under the  “Only Money Matters” file. In a world run by the values of the Orange level system where only money matters, the lives of a few million Arabs are reduced to a simple cost-benefit analysis. That analysis is very likely made by a Harvard MBA, who did an internship with Kissinger and Associates, who every night goes home to his wife and kids and sleeps soundly.

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China’s New World Order: Development Capital or New Imperialism?

The news agency Reuters reported yesterday on China’s creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which is supposed to rival the World Bank and the IMF.   With China’s rising economic power, does the AIIB represent a viable alternative to underdeveloped countries in desperate need of capital or would it be a failure like its Western counterparts? It is being touted as China’s attempt at making obsolete the IMF and World Bank, but what would be the extent of its reach?

The AIIB is a brand new global development bank that promises to impose  less stringent metrics on its borrowing countries. Unlike the IMF and the Wold bank who insist on political reforms and privatization efforts from borrowers, China’s new world development bank is only asking for transparency.dollaryuan

The burning question that any reasonable banker would ask is what would the bank do in case of default? The IMF and the World Bank were an extension of colonial Orange dominance through finance. They collectively sentenced less developed countries to a life of perpetual debt and poverty. In my estimation, the AIIB won’t fare much better. Based on the  value systems that currently motivate China,  the bank will be an extension of RED Chinese dominance, i.e, in the case of default China will occupy the debtor country, loot its resources until the debt is paid off. China employs these tactics today in the form of exchange; resources for development. Unfortunately,  the values of Confucianism are not the motivating factors in China’s new expansionist policies. This is Red lenders and Red borrowers who understand each others’ language, and understand the brutal consequences of default.

In the past, similar, well-meaning,  world-changing efforts like this were announced to great fanfare, but  never materialize in the long term.  One might  ask the question of what happened to the BRICs bank that was supposed to save less fortunate countries when it was announced less than 2 years ago? 3 of its 4 founding countries are having significant economic challenges at home. Russia and Brazil’s economies are experiencing tremendous setbacks while India is dealing with its own issues of slow growth leaving China as the only brick left in the original BRICs bank.

It remains to be seem whether China’s slowdown will make the AIIB a reality. If it continues its reforms towards a free market economy, it will spell disaster for their short term goals (as I pointed out in this interview with Newsweek Magazine). Part of China’s movement towards a free market economy will involve Orange metrics and transparency that will  uncover Trillions in toxic and non-performing assets that have to be written off.  After China’s balance sheets reflect those new realities, I highly doubt they will still have the appetite for highly speculative lending to foreign countries without the traditional collateral. We’ll have to wait and see. The waiting, this time won’t be long.


Is This the Good Side of “When Only Money Matters”?

It didn’t take long for the media this past week to spread the controversial views of Republican Presidential candidate Donald – I’m the best thing to ever happen to America – Trump.  Almost immediately after making his racist remarks about Mexicans, his popularity shot up to number 2 in the Republican race for the White House.

donald-trumpTo a party with more candidates than Washington has lobbyists, Trump is thought of as a formidable contender who can revive its values and take back the White House. For those who know better, his is the most visible symptom of a political party that is struggling to define itself in a chaotic world that defies definition.

What is particularly damning to Mr. Trump is the immediate reaction from big corporations to disassociate themselves with him. First came the Miss Universe Pageant, then the NBC Network, and finally the big retailer Macy’s, and the  backlash is not over yet. No estimates are available yet on the impact that Mr. Trump’s views will have on his future earnings, but I would guess it would be in the tens if not the hundreds of millions. A very costly lesson on who the real power brokers are in American politics today.

Concurrent with the Trump debacle, corporations  also took a stand on the confederate flag controversy. Wal-Mart and Target immediately took the high moral road on this issue and stopped all sales of the flag.   Then Nascar, with a $3 Billion a year sponsorship on the line, announced that it, too will remove this symbol of racism from all its public places. These were all brave decisions that placed morality back at the heart of corporate decision-making, but was this the return of corporate moral responsibility or was it something else?

Confederate Flag NASCAR Auto Racing Since the 2008 financial crisis, big corporations have been the target of every disenfranchised group in the world. If you talk to a member of any of the Occupy Movements, what you hear is that all that matters to corporations is money. No caring for people, or the planet, and little room for making decisions based in morality.

So, what changed in the last few weeks? Did a moral revival of CEOs, their executive teams and Board of Directors take place while the world was falling to pieces? Did they suddenly discover that their values are those of a Utopian culture where there are zero tolerance policies for racist behavior, or did something else influence their decisions?

It could be that corporate America found its moral compass again, but before you light a candle for their bravery, consider this. We live in a world that is defined by the power of money. The richer a person is, the more admired and the funnier his or her jokes are. The relationship of power to money is at its highest since the period right before the fall of the Roman Empire.  Senators are bought and sold every day. Supreme Court judges hide behind the strict interpretation of the law to extend personhood rights to corporations. Moral men and women don’t get elected anymore because the function of the office they’re running for is no longer about morality and service.

670px-supreme_court_us_2009Meanwhile, if you’re a high school dropout, and you carry a sign that says, “I will preach your corporate gospel” you immediately get a PAC with tens of millions in its coffers which, of course, you have nothing to do with. You hire the best campaign manager money can buy. He puts you in a grown-up suit and off you go preaching to whoever listens about patriotic values and how America has lost its way . Sixteen months later, you’re elected and all is well with the world.

Now, do you still think it was the morality of those corporations that led them to disassociate themselves with The Donald and the confederate flag?  Or was it some game theory genius at corporate headquarters  who projected the hundreds of millions in losses if his bosses didn’t take immediate action? If I were a betting man, I’ll put my money on the latter. In a world where only money matters, morality in this case, just happened to be on the same side of money.



Uncovering the Values of a Sustainable Future