The perspectives of Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S President Barack Obama on Syria are so different that you have to wonder if they are living on the same planet.
Putin’s public rationale for intervening in Syria and backing President Bashar al-Assad boils down to a case against failed states. “After the invasion [of] Iraq, the authorities were destroyed, Saddam was hanged, and then the ISIL came there,” Putin told interviewer Charlie Rose. “And what happened in Libya? Full disintegration, no state at all….We don’t like the same thing to be repeated in Syria.” In other words, when Western democracies take down despotic, human-rights-abusing strongmen, the result is chaos and terrorism.
From Obama’s perspective,
When a dictator slaughters tens of thousands of his own people, that is not just a matter of one nation’s internal affairs—it breeds human suffering on an order of magnitude that affects us all….Let’s remember how this started. Assad reacted to peaceful protests by escalating repression and killing that, in turn, created the environment for the current strife.
Both leaders call for a diplomatic solution, with Putin supporting Assad and Obama calling for a managed transition away from Assad. Both leaders are using air assets to bomb “terrorists,” although Obama is going after the Islamic State (ISIS or IS) and Putin is targeting anti-Assad rebels. Both are supplying their proxies with training, arms, and supplies—as are Iran and Saudi Arabia.