Fresh from signing a $400 billion gas sale to China, a thirty-year deal that will more than replace any lost sales from his skirmish in Ukraine, and only one day after the Prince of Wales, in Canada in a private conversation with a woman who left Europe before Hitler destroyed the remainder of her family, commented that Putin is doing the same thing today, Vladimir Putin continues to stride the globe under the illusion that he is himself the "Colossus"....
And today, when the United Nations Security Council votes on a resolution to refer the Syria crisis to the International Criminal Court, Russia has announced she will VETO the resolution.
So while we watch China appear to be moving closer to Moscow, as the United States increases its presence and its pressure in the Far East, Putin draws even closer to his mot dangerous allies, Syria's Assad, and Iran, deeply locked in negotiations with the west over their nuclear ambitions. With North Korea already allied only with China, it is not difficult to see a block of nations, albeit not necessarily the strongest nations in the world (except China), linking "arms" both literally and metaphorically, in an attempt to thwart the west at every turn. China, the public advocate for North Korea, has to be wondering just what kind of chicanery the new leader there will pull off, while attempting to lead the world in economic growth, and in providing a secure energy supply for that expansion for the next three decades.
Putin also is attempting to burnish his image at home with his inciting of violence in Ukraine, putting the leaders of the west (UK, EU, US) on notice that any moves by NATO toward the borders with Russia, through former satellite nations of the Soviet Union, will not be tolerated.
In the U.S. there is a debate over whether a new world order can and will emerge from the already formed and progressively more activist chain of countries that includes China, Russia, Iran, Syria and possibly North Korea. Some observers suggest that, while the west needs to be vigilant, there is really no danger to the status quo being threatened by these rogue states (Putin will not greet any reference to Russia as a rogue state, yet his behaviour recently could clearly be judged in that light!) Others however, believe and fear that this new convergence of interests and alliances between Syria, Iran (increasingly stirring the pot in Iraq) and Russia and China represents a significant threat to the maintainence of US and western influence on the world stage.
Human rights in all of these countries is reported to be vague and almost non-existent, with no international body able to bring pressure to bear on this file with any of the leaders in these countries. The reasons for their contempt of the western lifestyle, economics and political systems vary significantly, but that does not mean that they cannot and will not find common ground to make the life of western leaders and their people more fractious and destabilized. Overlay this convergence of rogue states, from the western perspective, with the continually growing threat from radical Islam, whenever and wherever they see an opportunity to infiltrate any kind of civil conflict or political instability (including Syria, Iraq and in too many countries in Africa) and it is not hard to envisage the arms trade in which Russia is also heavily engaged, supplying arms to different faces of the enemies of all liberal values, while at the same time attempting to reap many of the economic benefits from a global economic 'system' that includes both legal and illicit trade of both legal and contraband goods.
It is the capacity of western countries and the governments and leaders to keep the pressure on the human rights abuses that are occurring every day especially in countries like Russia, China and Iran, and most obviously Syria, while also maintaining diligent surveillance of the chess moves by leaders like Assad, Putin and the cabal in Bejing, in a concerted effort to protect the vital interests of the west, without having to engage militarily to reduce the nefarious ways Putin and his gang of rogues will attempt to derail and destabilize and to parade and to preen themselves and their accomplishments for their manipulated audiences back home.
If Harper can and will mount an expensive advertising campaign (really a propaganda war!) in Canada to cover his government's failure to address the legitimate needs of veterans from Afghanistan, in what we have considered an open democracy for over a century, just imagine the lengths to which leaders like Putin and Assad can and will go to present themselves in an heroic posture and mask to the people they reported "govern" (but effectively "rule) and the deception that those efforts do and will continue to entail. And while China's leaders are a little more hidden behind the veil of a ruling committee, their actions too will continue to reek of deception and image making for their own political purposes, inspite of what we read and hear about in their attempts to control pollution, and to enhance incomes of the middle class.
The UN Security Council will vote on Thursday on a resolution to refer the Syria crisis to the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged war crimes by all sides.The draft resolution has wide support, with over 50 countries behind the move.
But Russia, one of the permanent five members of the council, said it will veto the resolution and called it a "publicity stunt."
More than 150,000 people have been killed since the war began in 2011.
The BBC's UN correspondent, Nick Bryant, says Russia argues that the move will destroy any chance of a peaceful solution to the civil war.
But France's ambassador to the UN, Gerard Araud, dismissed Moscow's claim, saying the resolution would not "undermine the political process because there is no political process."
The civil war in Syria is now into its fourth year and peace talks have continually failed to yield any significant agreement. (BBC News, May 22, 2014)