In the West, most intel analysts have a habit of saying that Putin is dangerous and unpredictable. He always seems to be one step ahead of the US, and his actions often come as a complete surprise to Western governments. He keeps his cards close, and allegedly, even many of his closest advisers are not aware of his long-term plans. In addition to this, his history as a spy with KGB taught him a thing or two on counter-intelligence and misdirection, and he is hyper aware of the fact that what he says could telegraph his intentions. In short, Putin is one tough cookie to crack.
Obviously this worries most people in the US intelligence community, such as Gregory Treverton, the chairman of the National Intelligence Council. As far as world figures go, he views Putin as the most difficult person to unravel.
“Putin is so isolated that the chances that he might miscalculate and do something rash are top of my list for things I worry about,” says Treverton. “I am fond of distinguishing between puzzles — those things that have an answer, though we may not know it — and mysteries, those things that are iffy and contingent. And so how Putin is going to behave is presumably a mystery, and probably even a mystery to Putin.”
He makes it sound like Putin is an agent of chaos. A wild card if you will. However, it’s more likely that Putin is just smarter than our intelligence agencies give him credit for, which gives him the appearance of being unpredictable. After all, smart people always seem wily and magical to people who lack imagination. It’s obvious that he isn’t making random and rash decisions, because after the fact, those decisions often make a lot of sense.
Case in point, Putin’s recent decision to pull the bulk of his military forces out of Syria.
President Vladimir Putin announced out of the blue on Monday that “the main part” of Russian armed forces in Syria would start to withdraw, telling his diplomats to step up the push for peace as U.N.-mediated talks resumed on ending the five-year-old war.
Damascus rejected any suggestion of a rift with Moscow, saying President Bashar al-Assad had agreed on the “reduction” of Russian forces in a telephone call with Putin.
Western diplomats speculated that Putin may be trying to press Assad into accepting a political settlement to the war, which has killed 250,000 people, although U.S. officials saw no sign yet of Russian forces preparing to pull out.
The anti-Assad opposition expressed bafflement, with a spokesman saying, “Nobody knows what is in Putin’s mind”.
Just as the West was blindsided by Russia’s move into Syria, they were equally shocked to hear that he was pulling out. As of this writing, Putin has followed through on his promise, and Russian fighter jets are periodically being flown out of the country. Troop withdrawals are expected to follow very soon. Meanwhile, the Western media is still scrambling to figure out why this is happening.
They keep saying that Russia is trying to stifle Assad’s hubris, or that they’re afraid the Syrian war is going to turn into a quagmire, or some nonsense like that. So what’s the real reason Putin ordered this surprising withdrawal? In a sense, it’s a demonstration of Russia’s power and newfound political clout. According to Paul Craig Roberts:
With ISIS beat down, there is less danger of Washington using a peace-seeking ceasefire to resurrect the Islamic State’s military capability. Therefore, the risk Putin is taking by trusting Washington is worth the payoff if the result is to enhance Russian diplomacy and elevate it above Washington’s reliance on threats, coercion, and violence. What Putin is really aiming for is to make Europeans realize that by serving as Washington’s vassals European governments are supporting violence over peace and may themselves be swept by the neoconservatives into a deadly conflict with Russia that would ensure Europe’s destruction.
Putin has also demonstrated that, unlike Washington, Russia is able to achieve decisive military results in a short time without Russian casualties and to withdraw without becoming a permanent occupying force. This very impressive performance is causing the world to rethink which country is really the superpower.
Does anyone else get the sense that while Washington is playing checkers, Putin is playing chess? I sure do.
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Contributed by Joshua Krause of The Daily Sheeple.
Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger .