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Andrei Latyshau

New Youth Policy (Canadian chapter)

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Does the Russian president Vladimir Putin deserve the Nobel Peace Prize?

On 11 September 2013 New York Times featured a byline in the op-ed section you don't see every day. The Russian president Vladimir Putin addressed the American people and their political leaders directly with a Plea for Caution.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/12/opinion/putin-plea-for-caution-from-russia-on-syria.html

The same night, the Fox News analyst Pat Buchanan praised Vladimir Putin's op-ed, calling it “outstanding", pointing out that it was the Russian president, and not President Barack Obama, who has best spoken to American opinion on Syria.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-C4nSvvQddA

A day before that, Vladimir Putin's candidacy has been proposed for the Nobel Peace Prize. A letter to the Nobel Committee has been sent by the president of the Russian Foundation for Education, Sergei Komkov. The letter emphasized that, Vladimir Putin showed his commitment to peace in practice: "Being the leader of one of the leading countries of the world, he makes every effort to maintain peace and tranquility in his own state and actively contributes to the peaceful resolution of all conflicts arising on the planet."

It is noteworthy to mention that Vladimir Putin has already been awarded China’s version of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.
http://rt.com/politics/putin-peace-prize-chinese-russia-nobel-395/

What do you think about all that?

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  • Sep 15 2013: Seeing as Putin's regime is actively selling weapons to Assad, and Assad is using them to massacre not only rebels, but civilians, I'd have to respond with a resounding "no".
    Just because they're talking about taking away the chemical weapons doesn't make Putin a peace broker.

    I honestly don't take the Noble Peace Prize very seriously. Unlike its scientific counterparts, its all politics, and any correlation with the real world is purely accidental.
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      Sep 15 2013: -”Putin is actively selling weapons to Assad”:
      This is accurate, with one correction: the Russian Government is selling weapons to the Syrian Government.

      -”Assad is using them to massacre not only rebels, but civilians”:
      1) The verb “massacre” is defined as follows: “An indiscriminate and brutal slaughter of people”. Is it applicable to the situation when the Syrian Army kills members of armed terrorist groups (“rebels”) in armed combat -- a “kill or be killed” situation when both sides are armed? Personally I dont think so, because those who begin an armed conflict should expect armed resistance in return. In addition, there has been plenty of video evidence of actual massacre of Syrian Army soldiers by armed rebels (when the latter have been captured, are unarmed, and lined up with the specific purpose of being executed, which is then carried out and captured on video -- where it is obvious “who is who”), and no evidence of what you are talking about, except testimony of the very same "rebels" that carry out massacres. If there is, please share it.

      2) Leaving aside the fact that there has been no proof of, as you had said, “massacres of civilians by Assad” (again, please share it if there is), let’s consider this from a “common sense” perspective: If the “massacres of civilians” are really taking place, then why do various mass rallies in support of president Assad and the current Syrian government take place, both in Syria and in other countries? (two examples: http://rt.com/news/intervention-syria-rally-uk-258/ and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbGWuYhtqBI) What reasons does a country’s leader have to “massacre” his own population? Would he, knowing that “massacres of innocent civilians” in Lybia lead to democratic carpet bombing by NATO, really do that?
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      Sep 15 2013: Having said the above, my perspective on the issue is as follows: The legitimate Russian government is legally selling weapons to the legitimate Syrian government, which is experiencing an armed conflict with terrorist groups inside Syria, whose goals are anything but “peace and democracy”. Had armed terrorist (“rebel”) groups not begun an armed conflict, no weapons would be required to resist them. Therefore, the Russian government, including Putin, are supporting a legitimate government -- a government which of course has it’s ups and downs, like any other government does, but is more peaceful and ordered that the anarchous establishment proposed by the “rebels” (what we see in Lybia today).

      - “Just because they're talking about taking away the chemical weapons doesn't make Putin a peace broker.”
      It should be remembered, that the existence of chemical weapons in Syria and their alleged use by the Syrian armed forces were stated as the reason to begin an armed conflict against the legitimate Syrian government by the United States, which, if it happens, will no doubt cause many, many civilian casualties. The prevention of such a conflict, and subsequent bloodshed, is no doubt a promotion of peace.
      Between the two possible options I have outlined above (as I see them), Putin has no doubt done a lot to support the more peaceful option -- a step which is worthy of recognition at the highest level.

      But I must agree with Edward Long -- the Nobel Peace Prize has been largely politicized, and has lost it’s value in the eyes of the majority of people. Maybe giving it to a person who actually deserves it will revive the Nobel’s image in the eyes of people.
      • Sep 15 2013: I call it a massacre whenever its one sided, whether the recipient is armed or not. A chemical attack on a rebel position that kills a thousand people, most of them civilians (that didn't exactly choose to get involved in the fighting) is a massacre as far as I'm concerned.
        It also happens without chemical weapons just fine. Assad's ordered this sort of thing with artillery conventional air power before. I see no real distinction between killing a man with a gas or with a bullet.
        You may be able to justify this sort of thing on a military emplacement, but not with so many civilians around.

        As for Syria's government being legitimate, that depends on who you ask. It rose to power through force of arms, not at all unlike the rebels. Its just been there longer is all.
        Legitimacy is one of those tricky theoretical concepts, with no real world presence. Democracies supposedly get it from elections. Autocracies get it from... Hmmm... I guess the answer is from everyone getting used to them being there.

        Russia isn't breaking the law, true. It is however, lengthening a long and bloody war by propping up a failed regime on a country that shouldn't exist. There are more minorities in Syria than you can shake a stick at; a single unified Syrian people don't exist, the entire country is a colonial mistake, it should be split into many smaller nations. Failure to do so would just lead to another civil war down the line.
        I'm not even all that sure its within Russia's own interest to keep propping up the Syrian regime. Assad isn't much of an ally.

        As for the character of the rebels:
        They're a diverse group. You've got everything for secular modernists, to religious and nationalist fanatics. I'd readily agree that some of them are as bad as Assad. Chances are they'll start fighting each other if they ever manage to bring Assad's regime down, in fact.
        I see no trouble with supporting the moderates as opposed to the government though.
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          Sep 18 2013: @A chemical attack on a rebel position that kills a thousand people, most of them civilians (that didn't exactly choose to get involved in the fighting) is a massacre as far as I'm concerned. @

          The above statement is a repetition of recent declarations made by most western media, which I am very familiar with, but the claim is not supported by any evidence (as I have already said above). And once more I will ask - if there is, please share it (i.e. direct the readers of this thread and myself to the page and paragraph in the UN report on chem. weapons use in Syria that confirms the allegation).

          @ It also happens without chemical weapons just fine. Assad's ordered this sort of thing with artillery conventional air power before. I see no real distinction between killing a man with a gas or with a bullet.
          You may be able to justify this sort of thing on a military emplacement, but not with so many civilians around.@
          In light of what I’d said above, what “sort of thing” are you referring to? I will say again that mass media is full of such allegations, and I have heard them, but no evidence has ever been presented. So, for the third time, please share the evidence I have not seen. As for the fact that there are civilian casualties - that kind of thing tends to happen when you have an armed conflict. But if you mean to say that the Syrian army is ruthlessly killing civilians that the armed terrorists ("rebels") are practically using as human shields, then please provide your evidence.
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          Sep 18 2013: @As for Syria's government being legitimate, that depends on who you ask. It rose to power through force of arms, not at all unlike the rebels. Its just been there longer is all.
          Legitimacy is one of those tricky theoretical concepts, with no real world presence. Democracies supposedly get it from elections. Autocracies get it from... Hmmm... I guess the answer is from everyone getting used to them being there.@

          When I spoke about legitimacy of a government, I understood it as having been lawfully established within a certain time frame. If we do not consider a limited time preiod, then I would agree with you - no government or political establishment can be considered legitimate. From my knowledge, there had been an election in 2000 when Assad was elected (he was the only candidate, and public had the option of voting for or against). It does not look like the political procedure westerners are used to, but what matters is whether or not Syrian people had accepted it or not. Whether or not this is the way it should be is a topic for discussion - i.e. what options there are for the country’s development. Countries are at different stages of development, and simply imposing conditions “you should develop this way” do not seem to work. A dialogue is needed - in my opinion, if democracy anywhere is possible, it begins with dialogue. Putin seems to understand this, because he calls for the diplomatic solution and for letting the Syrian people establish their own fate.
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          Sep 18 2013: @Russia isn't breaking the law, true. It is however, lengthening a long and bloody war by propping up a failed regime on a country that shouldn't exist. There are more minorities in Syria than you can shake a stick at; a single unified Syrian people don't exist, the entire country is a colonial mistake, it should be split into many smaller nations. Failure to do so would just lead to another civil war down the line.@

          Who started the war? How is Russia lengthening it?
          What are, in your opinion, indications of the fact that it is a “failed regime”? The United States government has also been keen in making such allegations, but their “resolutions” have lead only to even bigger failure (Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq). On paper, everyone is an expert on how other countries (and people) should live. As far as I understand, exactly what you are suggesting has been done in Libya (it is practically separated into three separate states now), and did not exactly work in establishing peace. And you acknowledge it yourself: “Chances are they'll start fighting each other if they ever manage to bring Assad's regime down”. So, do you have any valid suggestions for the situation?

          Why shouldn't the country exist? There are plenty of multi-ethnic states that exist peacefully, and they usually so do until someone from outside begins aggravating inter-ethnic tensions (which always exist, in any country). For example, Russia is home to over 100 minorities and has so been for a very long time. Is it a “colonial mistake”? Should the Quebecois in Canada start claiming independence?
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          Sep 18 2013: @I see no trouble with supporting the moderates as opposed to the government though.@

          Can you please explain what “moderates” you are referring to? As far as I know, so far the opposition has not been willing to take part in negotiations, nor has it presented a series of demands (except of course the removal of Assad, that's about it), nor has it presented a program of resolving the situation and developing the state of affairs in the country. Do they have such a program? i.e. what exactly do you call on supporting? What should Russia and Putin do?

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