Sunday, September 15, 2013

Multipolar World...

As for Russia itself, it is now back at the top table of global diplomacy, talking to the US as a true equal for the first time since the end of the Cold War. The Geneva agreement ensures the two sides are locked into negotiations that could last for months or even years. Putin, full of chutzpah, even wrote an article in the New York Times, warning Americans that they were not so exceptional after all.
This seemed to go down well on the streets of Moscow. In a very unscientific poll of popular opinion, I found that people were generally impressed by how Putin has handled the Syrian crisis. "I'm not a fan of Putin's, but on this issue he is right," said a charity worker. A lawyer said "American policy is absurd, can't they see what the jihadists are doing?"
For 20 years, many Russians argue, the US has acted with reckless arrogance, but now at last it has been pegged back.
Finally, what of Syria itself? Chemical weapons, horrible as they are, have only caused a tiny fraction of the casualties in the civil war.  Russia will carry on providing military support to Assad. The US may step up arms shipments to the opposition.
Perhaps an optimistic analysis of the Geneva agreement is that it will keep the Americans and Russians talking to each other, and in the process help revive the moribund talks on a wider peace agreement. Now that would be a good way to show that a new, multipolar world, can work better than the one we seem to be leaving behind.