No longer easy to boss around a pesky ally
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Mr. Assad, tear down your chemical weapons! Mr. Putin, tear down these murderous allies of yours!
The old tear-down plea worked pretty well for Ronald Reagan, back when he was beseeching the Soviet Union's Mikhail Gorbachev to pressure his pesky allies in East Berlin to dismantle the Cold War's infamous wall. Can the same direct beseeching work on Russian President (and freelance op-ed columnist) Vladimir Putin?
For one thing, Syria is a far less compliant ally than East Germany ever was, even in the days before the wall fell. For another, Bashar Assad has at least some oil under his feet. The only natural resources East Germany had were gray skies and dour facial expressions.
Superpower domination was so much easier in the bad old days!
If this were 1987, Gorby would bark an order at Assad's dad, Hafez Assad. "Dump the chems -- or at least hide them better!" The order would be executed promptly. And the newspaper Pravda would write it all up as another triumph of the peace-loving Soviet empire and their peace-loving friends in the Middle East.
We'd know it was all a pile of East Bloc propaganda. But Washington would be secretly happy that the leaders in the Kremlin were capable of rational self-interest and at least some inclination to clean up their own mess.
Now? Who knows?
Today's petty dictators have far scarier weapons and far stronger independent streaks.
Doesn't Vladimir Putin know how to boss anyone around?
1. Caviar cavalry
2. Borscht brigade
3. Vladimir vodka gimlet
4. Ghoulish goulash
5. Sarin Stroganoff
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