Spasibo, Moscow, for Saving the U.S. From Itself and Averting War

The era of the U.S. as the world's sole superpower is over. Henceforth, Washington's global ambitions will have to take Russia and other countries into account.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Mother Russia (without Father Stalin this time) has saved the world from an unnecessary war. If not for Russia’s intervention, the Tomahawks would already be on the way.

More blood would have been spilled in vain and the Middle East would have endured another pointless bombardment, only to sustain the image of Barack Obama and the “status” of the United States. After the bombardment — with American arms, of course — would have come the quagmire and after the destruction, the reconstruction, contracted to American companies, of course. Syria, for whose welfare everyone is honestly and touchingly concerned, would have bled even more and the horrific chemical weapons would have remained in their arsenals.

In the words of the Internationale, “We’ll change henceforth the old tradition.” The old world, in which the U.S. did whatever it wished, waging a futile war in Iraq and a worthless one in Afghanistan, is approaching its end. Get ready for the new one. Welcome (back) to the world of multiple superpowers. It will not be a world that is all good, but maybe it will be better. It has already proven itself in Syria, and perhaps it will do so next in Iran. This is not a return to the days of the Cold War in a bipolar world — Russia is too weak and rotten from within — but the Russians have raised their heads, the Chinese are on their way, with the Indians perhaps behind them — and the American monopoly on power is about to crack. There is a world in southern Asia and in South America too, and that world is awakening. That’s good news.

We were always told that the “Russian bear,” as we liked to call it, was the ultimate source of offense in the Middle East. We were told that the Soviet Union instigated war while the U.S. sought peace. Lo and behold — after 20 years of American hegemony and the crumbling of Russian influence in the region, we have not even a scrap of peace. We have only more and more wars of the kind that the U.S. fought, and the kind that Israel fought with its support and equipment. The peace treaty between Israel and Egypt was born in the days of the Cold War, while the only attempt to make peace with the Palestinians took place behind America’s back. Then we should say so: America did nothing to promote peace in the region. If it had wished, peace would be here already. If it had wished, the Israeli occupation would have ended already.

Even now, with Russia’s proposal of a peaceful solution to the problem of Syria’s chemical weapons and America’s determination to bomb Syria, America is seen as the one that wants peace and Russia as the warmonger — a faint echo of the days of Cold War propaganda featuring the bad Russians and the good Americans.

Russia’s return is not entirely good news. With its highly dubious regime, corrupt economy and abysmal human rights record, it certainly will be no light unto the nations. A country that fights gay people, locks up journalists, assassinates opponents of the regime and imprisons women singers is a sick country. But its return tells us that once again there will be one who balances, even a little, the power of the U.S.; a country that stands in its way, which is far from always being the way of peace and justice.

Take Syria, for example. Let’s say Russia was not its ally. Let’s say Russia hadn’t stopped America. Let’s say America was the sole superpower in the region. Would the result have been better or worse? The solution Russia proposed has not been carried out yet. It is full of pitfalls. But if it works, it could serve as a lesson for the future. Not everything can be solved with a bomb, no matter how “smart” it may be. Occasionally, it is a good idea to try diplomacy, too. Russia could play the constructive role it is playing in Syria in Iran as well. We need to encourage its involvement and not mark it as an enemy from the start.

Obama should send a bouquet of flowers to Vladimir Putin, the man who helped him out of the corner he had painted himself into regarding the bombing of Syria. The world should thank Moscow for having saved him from trouble. Israel also needs to stop grimacing every time a war or bombardment against Arabs in the region is averted and tell Russia: Spasiba. Thank you for showing us, even for a moment, that there is another way, without bombardments.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (l) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.Credit: Reuters

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