News / USA

Analysis: In Russia's 'We Told You So,' Shreds of Truth, Opportunism

Iraqi security forces fire artillery during clashes with Sunni militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on the outskirts of the town of Udaim in Diyala province, June 22, 2014.
Iraqi security forces fire artillery during clashes with Sunni militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on the outskirts of the town of Udaim in Diyala province, June 22, 2014.
Mike Eckel
If there’s one phrase in particular that might be circulating the halls of the Kremlin and the Russian Foreign Ministry these days as Sunni militants tip Iraq close to the abyss, it probably would be:
 
“We told you so.”
 
In fact, it’s a phrase domestic critics of the Obama administration are using almost continuously.  
 
With Islamist militants steamrolling military forces in northern Iraq and now menacing Baghdad, President Barack Obama’s detractors — former Vice President Dick Cheney foremost among them —are insisting the White House should have foreseen this crisis and done more to avert it.
 
Cheney, in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, characterized Obama's foreign policy as “empty threats, meaningless red lines, leading from behind, appeasing our enemies, abandoning our allies, or apologizing for our great nation.”

While Cheney’s comments might be dismissed as opportunistic (or rank hypocrisy, given his role in launching the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), no entity has arguably spoken louder, longer or more consistently about the dangers of intervention or regime change than Moscow.
 
True, Russia’s criticism diverges from that of Obama’s mostly Republican critics.
 
Cheney and other top officials in George W. Bush’s administration— John Bolton and Paul Wolfowitz— argue the Obama White House is feckless and flat-footed, allowing the Syrian conflict to spawn the militants now storming through northern Iraq.
 
Moscow’s “we told you so” arguments, meanwhile, grow from the warnings made before the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.
 
Just weeks before fighting started, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the Islamic world “might be swept by instability" if Washington waged war on Baghdad without international backing.
 
Two days after Iraq’s second largest city fell to the militants on June 12, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov chose the word “adventurism” to take a dig at Washington, and London.
 
“This is an illustration of the complete failure of the adventurism which was undertaken by the United States and Britain, and which they lost control of,” he said.
 
A few hours later, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Alexander Lukashevich, offered a similar statement: “There is no doubt that those who invaded Iraq over 10 years ago and who continue to impose their decisions and will on the people of the region largely contributed to the launch of the processes of destabilization, the results of which are evident today in the entire Middle East.”
 
Alexei Pushkov, a sharp-tongued, Kremlin-allied lawmaker, offered this sarcastic tweet:  “The United States has so brilliantly brought order to Iraq that the Islamists have already seized Mosul and plan to storm Baghdad. That’s what 10 years of occupation has resulted in.”

The criticism from Moscow is self-serving, said Robert Jervis, a professor of international politics at Columbia University: the finger-wagging “we told you so” argument helps Moscow to make the case globally that its leadership is a sensible alternative to American hegemony, a concept Putin has been pushing for some time now.
 
“The main grounds on which (the Russians) opposed the war? That it would enhance and expand American power,” he said. However, “you can make the argument that the consequence (of the war) has been in fact reversed— it has reduced the American power.”
 
“In some ways, it’s an ironic twist to their statement. Yes, they told us so, but if we had listened, we’d be better off, and they’d be worse off,” Jervis said.
 
“Lavrov and Putin are playing a zero-sum game and unfortunately President Obama hasn’t learned this yet,” said Robert Freedman, a scholar of Middle East and Russian foreign policy and visiting professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University.
 
The Kremlin has specific interests in Iraq and its neighbors. Moscow is a stalwart supporter of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, has supplied lucrative nuclear technology to Iran, and wants contracts to extract Iraqi oil.
 
It also sees the Middle East as a place to reclaim lost clout. But it’s also fearful of hardened militants leaving the Middle East battlefield to fight in Russia’s tumultuous North Caucasus.
 
“Putin looks at Iraq and the Arab Spring as the same thing: empowering Islamists. That’s why he’s worried about it,” Freedman said. “But at the same time, if the Americans get a black eye, that’s a good thing.”
 
The Western intervention in Libya in 2011 came after then-President Dmitry Medvedev agreed not to block a Security Council vote on the matter.
 
When the air strikes turned from battlefield tactical to strategic, however, and the Libyan government was brought down, Russia complained that the West’s actions would make things worse in the region: something many experts would argue has happened.
 
Where Iraq is concerned, the U.S. military officials and Obama aides have said how surprising it is that the military wilted so quickly amid the onslaught by the militants, known collectively as ISIL or ISIS. How aware the administration was of the potency of the fighters’ abilities is unclear.
 
On Thursday, Obama announced he was ordering up to 300 U.S. military trainers to Iraq to help government forces.  He also called on the Iraqi government to undertake reforms and become more inclusive.
 
The president noted the resurgence of the divisive political debate over U.S. policy in Iraq. 
 
“Russians are strict realists, strict power analysts. They analyze the world much more realistically. This is their claim from top to bottom,” said Jan Techbau, director of the Carnegie Europe Center, in Brussels.
 
“But then Russia uses these arguments to justify and defend a non-democratic, authoritarian system at home that doesn’t shy away from its own interventions, for whatever suits them,” Techbau said.
 
“Sure, you have to give them some credit for saying [we told you so], but I’m not sure they can claim ‘we were the only ones.’ Nobody could’ve seen this would happen,” Techbau said.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mr nobody from: ca
June 24, 2014 2:04 AM
Busted clock is right twice a day.

Calling Americans losers just works better with the current administration.

by: ARIELY SHEIN from: Jerusalem
June 23, 2014 2:43 PM
God put Obama on earth to accomplish a certain number of things.
Right now he is so far behind, he will live forever.
However he still has a chance if he will prove once again that he got it what Winston Churchill said:
''We can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the other possibilities'.
Last call for Obama administration to draw conclusions and fix the outcomes of his catastrophic policy:

1: Libya -- transformed into a Jihadist hub.
2; Iraq-- Jihadist take control of large areas.
3: Syria: I don’t know what to say about Obama policy.
Except that Russia scores many points.
4: Iran: giving away the effective sanctions that eroded Iranians support to the Islamist dictatorship.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Islamist Iran supreme leader, said that the Islamic Republic’s ideals include destroying America.
Google search: /iran-supreme-leader-jihad-continue-until-america-no-...
5: Egypt: He legitimized the Muslim Brotherhood that preaches to destroy USA civilization.
USA court revealed Muslim brotherhood mission in a sixteen-page Arabic document:
""The Ikhwan must understand that their working America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and DESTTROYING WESTREN CIVILIZATION FROM WITHIN.”.
Google search:jcpa.org/the-muslim-brotherhood-a-moderate-islamic-alternative-to-al-qaeda-or-a-partner-in-global-jihad
6: Palestinian: legitimized the united government with Hamas Islamist terrorists organization- the self declared enemy of all non Islamic cultures.
"" Only under Islam wings Christianity, Judaism and Islam may coexist.""
Read Hamas charter: http://www.mideastweb.org/hamas.htm.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More