Vladimir Putin’s Foreign-Policy Objectives, & His Desire for U.S. to Be an Ally

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org

On September 4th, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin restated, as he has many times before, that he seeks a U.S.-Russian alliance to overcome the global Islamic jihad movement, in Syria, Iraq, and everywhere.

Then, on Tuesday September 8th, Yahoo News bannered, “Austria joins growing voices that say Assad must be part of Syrian solution,” and reported that Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said: “In my opinion the priority is the fight against terror. This will not be possible without powers such as Russia and Iran.” German Economic News noted then that, “Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo had already called on Monday for negotiations with Assad to end the war.”

However, the U.S. government is strongly opposed to accepting Putin’s offer of an alliance to overcome Islamic jihad.

Putin’s foreign-policy objectives are consistent; and his latest turn fits with all that has preceded, which has been his single-minded focus, ever since he first became Russia’s leader in 2000: to defeat the global threat of Islamic jihad, which has been the chief military concern for Russia itself, ever since the First Chechen War, during 1994-96, radicalized the predominantly Sunni (Saudi-based) Muslim Chechen Republic, to separate themselves from the predominantly Orthodox Catholic Russia. By the time of Putin’s contest for the Presidency in 2000, Putin’s hard line against religious separatism became a leading factor in his electoral victory.

On 11 February 2004, this is how the pro-Western Moscow Times, which wikipedia refers to as “the first Western daily to be published in Russia,” described “Putin and the Chechen War: Together Forever”:

In the summer of 1999, the ruling elite was at a loss. Boris Yeltsin was clearly not up to running the country, but no suitable successor could be found. The obvious candidates – Sergei Stepashin, Nikolai Bordyuzha and Sergei Kiriyenko – weren’t presidential material. But then Chechen separatists staged a raid into neighboring Dagestan. Putin directed the operation that drove the fighters from Dagestan, and after two apartment buildings were blown up in Moscow [which some accounts say was secretly planned by Putin himself], Putin launched an “anti-terrorist operation” in Chechnya. Suddenly Putin was the No. 1 politician in the country. …

The Chechen fighters were operating on the assumption that the Kremlin would not tolerate substantial losses on the eve of the election. This is why Chechen detachments flouted military logic and remained in Grozny after it was surrounded, continuing to offer fierce resistance.

Putin’s campaign managers also assumed that heavy Russian losses would hurt his chances at the polls. As the fighting in Grozny took its toll, they feared that by election day in June 2000 Putin’s support would have evaporated. This concern probably explains Yeltsin’s decision to step down early, bringing the election forward by several months.

As we now know, those fears were groundless. Heavy Russian losses had no impact on Putin’s poll numbers. The four years of Putin’s first term, during which the war raged on unabated, have made clear that Russian voters are prepared to endure endless lies from their leaders about the latest “phase” of the “operation” in Chechnya, as well as a staggering number of Russian dead.

I [Alexander Golts] doubt that any Russian politician today would have the nerve to remind Putin of the promises he made back in 2000. He vowed “to crush the terrorist scum’.”

However, Simon Shuster, who likewise is anti-Putin, had this to say about Chechnya, in the cover story of TIME, eleven years later, on 22 June 2015:

Chechnya has undergone a striking transformation. Its cities have been rebuilt with money from Moscow. All traces of its separatist rebellion have been suppressed. And most importantly, a new generation has been raised to respect–at times even to worship–the Russian leader and his local proxies. With no clear memories of the wars for independence, the young people of Chechnya are now the best guarantee that Russia’s hold over the region will persist.

Putin might not have “crushed the terrorist scum,” but he has held it at bay for long enough a time to reestablish relative peace in Chechnya, along with a previously unparallelled degree of prosperity.

The International Crisis Group, a pro-Western and anti-Russian NGO, and an affiliate of NATO’s Atlantic Council, vigorously criticizes the authoritarianism and cult of personality that Putin has imposed in Chechnya, even while reluctantly acknowledging that:

The number of Chechens in the insurgency has been steadily decreasing. With their centuries-long record of being ready to die for their independence, Chechens do not seem very susceptible to the suicidal ideology of a global jihad. Many who are have joined the conflict in Syria, which has significantly drained the human resources of the North Caucasus insurgency overall, but especially in Chechnya. A Chechen interior ministry source estimated in 2013 that 200-500 Chechens were fighting in Syria.

The Islamic jihadists are more comfortable in, and more accepted by the residents of, the anti-Assad, pro-Sunni, areas of Syria, doing war against Shiia Muslims, and against the Russian-supported secular Shiia President Assad, than they are back home in their native land (Chechnya in Russia). Even Putin’s enemies acknowledge Putin’s successes against the Saudi-based Sunni international Islamic jihad movement. Putin has become an experienced specialist in the war against Islamic terrorism.

Whereas the United States simply spreads Islamic jihad, even while bombing jihadists and creating more martyrs for “the cause” of jihad, Russia has found ways instead to push back effectively against the Saudi-originated movement of Islamic jihad, and to develop, during decades, a peaceful regional diversity, which can encompass even areas where (as in Chechnya) Islamic or sharia law is imposed, and do this even within a predominantly Christian-majority nation (such as Russia, but this also describes the United States).

The U.S. never had to deal with the challenge that Russia has, of containing within itself a majority-Muslim state, and especially not containing a state whose majority are Sunni Muslim, the variant of Islam that (unlike Shiia Islam) produces jihadists, people with suicide-belts etc., who seek to impose a global Caliphate, a worldwide regime that imposes strict Islamic law.

The ICG report on Chechnya criticizes today’s Chechnya, by saying that, “Much of the population lives off pensions and welfare payments,” and that corruption and clan-rule are the norm, but all that’s really new in this is actually the peace, and the pensions: corruption and clan-rule have been the rule in Chechnya for centuries, at the very least.

Simon Shuster’s video at TIME, about today’s Chechnya, opens:

The kids growing up in Chechnya these days are a lot luckier than their parents and their grandparents. At least the youngest ones have only known their homeland to be a peaceful and even quite beautiful place, full of enormous mosques, and skyscrapers, and shopping districts, and fast-food joints.

Shuster then refers to the civil war, but he says, “Today, Chechnya is a very different place,” and he acknowledges that the adults there, who remember the wars, are much happier now, that the jihadists are gone, or dead.

Al Jazeera television, which is controlled by gas-rich Qatar’s anti-Russian Sunni royal family, the Thanis, has criticized Putin for his placing in control of Chechnya the anti-jihadist Chechen Muslim, Ramzan Kadyrov. Thanis are also the chief financial backers for the Muslim Brotherhood, and, along with the Saud family (the main financial backers of Al Qaeda), are also among the main financial backers of the Syrian warriors who are fighting to replace the secular Shiite leader, Assad, by a sectarian Sunni Islamic regime in Syria.

The anti-Russian American newspaper, New York Times, headlined on 1 July 2004, “Qatar Court Convicts 2 Russians in Top Chechen’s Death,” and reported:

The trial has provided an international stage for both sides to air their grievances about Russia’s war in Chechnya and debate the question of whether the fight against terrorism justified such extreme measures. Among those in the courtroom on Wednesday was Akhmed Zakayev, a leader of Chechnya’s separatist movement, who has successfully challenged efforts by Russia to extradite him. Mr. Zakayev said in a telephone interview that the killing of Mr. Yandarbiyev showed that Russia under Mr. Putin had reverted to the darkest tactics of its Soviet past, when K.G.B. agents tracked down enemies of the state overseas.

In U.S.-allied nations generally, anti-Russian jihadists have, to a large extent, been sympathetically received, and favorably reported (as in that cited NYT article).

So: Regardless of Putin’s success at dealing with Islamic jihadists, his invitation to the United States to work together to defeat the Sunni, and mainly Saudi and Thani-funded, international movement for Islamic jihad for a global Caliphate, will probably continue to meet only America’s cold shoulder. The United States opposes Islamic jihad, but it opposes Russia more.

Or, at least, the U.S. Government does. Obama primarily seeks to defeat Russia, not to ally with it – not even against Islamic jihad. And here’s how serious he is about that goal: In order to be able to install a NATO base on Russia’s doorstep in Russia’s neighbor Ukraine, the U.S. on 4 February 2014 selected a new leader for Ukraine, and installed that new leader in a coup three weeks later. This new government was/is rabidly anti-Russian. The U.S. and Russia have, accordingly, reactivated their nuclear-weapons arsenals, for a possible direct war, no longer merely conflicts via proxies. However, Putin still is inviting Obama to switch from being obsessed with defeating Russia, to becoming allied with Russia. He’s, in effect, saying to Obama: “Okay, if NATO is to continue, then let us into it, and let us all agree, together, that the enemy to peace and international progress is the Islamic jihadist movement, and all of the aristocrats who fund it.”

However, Putin probably holds little hope of a favorable response to this. As the great investigative historian William F. Engdahl wrote, on 15 May 2015 at journal-neo.org:

Not long after the CIA and Saudi Intelligence-financed Mujahideen had devastated Afghanistan at the end of the 1980’s, forcing the exit of the Soviet Army in 1989, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union itself some months later, the CIA began to look at possible places in the collapsing Soviet Union where their trained “Afghan Arabs” could be redeployed to further destabilize Russian influence over the post-Soviet Eurasian space.

They were called Afghan Arabs because they had been recruited from ultraconservative Wahhabite Sunni Muslims from Saudi Arabia, the Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and elsewhere in the Arab world where the ultra-strict Wahhabite Islam was practiced. They were brought to Afghanistan in the early 1980’s by a Saudi CIA recruit who had been sent to Afghanistan named Osama bin Laden.

With the former Soviet Union in total chaos and disarray, George H.W. Bush’s Administration decided to “kick ‘em when they’re down,” a sad error. Washington redeployed their Afghan veteran terrorists to bring chaos and destabilize all of Central Asia, even into the Russian Federation itself, then in a deep and traumatic crisis during the economic collapse of the Yeltsin era.

In the early 1990s, Dick Cheney’s company, Halliburton, had surveyed the offshore oil potentials of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and the entire Caspian Sea Basin. They estimated the region to be “another Saudi Arabia” worth several trillion dollars on today’s market. The US and UK were determined to keep that oil bonanza from Russian control by all means.

Engdahl also included this:

Bin Laden brought in another Saudi, Ibn al-Khattab, to become Commander, or Emir of Jihadist Mujahideen in Chechnya (sic!) together with Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev. No matter that Ibn al-Khattab was a Saudi Arab who spoke barely a word of Chechen, let alone, Russian. He knew what Russian soldiers looked like and how to kill them.

Chechnya then was traditionally a predominantly Sufi society, a mild apolitical branch of Islam. Yet the increasing infiltration of the well-financed and well-trained US-sponsored Mujahideen terrorists preaching Jihad or Holy War against Russians transformed the initially reformist Chechen resistance movement. They spread al-Qaeda’s hardline Islamist ideology across the Caucasus. Under [Richard] Secord’s guidance, Mujahideen terrorist operations had also quickly extended into neighboring Dagestan and Chechnya, turning Baku into a shipping point for Afghan heroin to the Chechen mafia.

From the mid-1990s, bin Laden paid Chechen guerrilla leaders Shamil Basayev and Omar ibn al-Khattab the handsome sum of several million dollars per month, a King’s fortune in economically desolate Chechnya in the 1990s, enabling them to sideline the moderate Chechen majority.21 US intelligence remained deeply involved in the Chechen conflict until the end of the 1990s. According to Yossef Bodansky, then Director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Washington was actively involved in “yet another anti-Russian jihad, seeking to support and empower the most virulent anti-Western Islamist forces.” …

Basayev and al-Khattab imported fighters from the Saudi fanatical Wahhabite strain of Sunni Islam into Chechnya. Ibn al-Khattab commanded what were called the “Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya,” his own private army of Arabs, Turks, and other foreign fighters. He was also commissioned to set up paramilitary training camps in the Caucasus Mountains of Chechnya that trained Chechens and Muslims from the North Caucasian Russian republics and from Central Asia.

Enghdahl referred to a 26 April 2015 speech by Putin, which had that history as its background:

A short way into his remarks, the Russian President stated for the first time publicly something that Russian intelligence has known for almost two decades but kept silent until now, most probably in hopes of an era of better normalized Russia-US relations.

Putin stated that the terror in Chechnya and in the Russian Caucasus in the early 1990’s was actively backed by the CIA and western Intelligence services to deliberately weaken Russia. He noted that the Russian FSB foreign intelligence had documentation of the US covert role without giving details.

What Putin, an intelligence professional of the highest order, only hinted at in his remarks, I have documented in detail from non-Russian sources. The report has enormous implications to reveal to the world the long-standing hidden agenda of influential circles in Washington to destroy Russia as a functioning sovereign state, an agenda which includes the neo-nazi coup d’etat in Ukraine and severe financial sanction warfare against Moscow.

Not all of this has remained as being secret. There have even been some proud public participants in the American aristocracy’s hatred of Russians. For example: the child of dispossessed Polish nobility who emigrated to the United States and who as an adult was brought by the oil-baron heir David Rockefeller into several U.S. Presidential Administrations, Zbigniew Brzezinski (who co-founded with Rockefeller the Trilateral Commission) was quite proud of his anti-Russian hatred. (He had actually been born near Lviv, in the most pro-Nazi and anti-Russian part of present-day Ukraine. A racist hatred of Russians was intense there.) He was interviewed on page 76 of France’s Le Nouvel Observateur, on 15 January 1998, translated by Bill Blum, posted at Global Research by Michel Chossudovsky:

Q: You don’t regret anything today?

B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

B: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.

B: Nonsense!

There is even a video-clip, “Brzezinski And The Mujahideen 1979,” which shows Brzezinski in 1979, arriving in Afghanistan and telling the Mujahideen (soon to be called the Taliban), “Your cause is right, and god is on your side.”

In other words: the U.S. aristocracy wants to grab Russia’s natural resources; and the fact that Russia is no longer part of any international communist alliance, the fact that the Cold War is over, is not going to end the war by America’s aristocracy for control of Russia and its resources. All that the end of communism does for America’s aristocrats is remove what had been their excuse for revving up Joseph R. McCarthy, etc., to stir hatred of what had for decades been Russians’ ideology. All that’s left now is the American aristocracy’s own greed, and psychopathy. But Putin still is publicly inviting those people to join with Russia in a global alliance, perhaps an entirely new NATO, to crush the Islamic jihad movement.

The public should know about the invitation, and should know why it has always been (and is being) rejected.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.