No longer easy to boss around a pesky ally

President Barack Obama and Russia's President Vladimir Putin President Barack Obama and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands during their bilateral meeting at the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. (June 18, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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Ellis Henican Newsday columnist Ellis Henican

Henican is a columnist for Newsday. He also is a political analyst at the Fox News Channel and ...

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?

Probably not.

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.

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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?


TASTY TREATS

1. Caviar cavalry

2. Borscht brigade

3. Vladimir vodka gimlet

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4. Ghoulish goulash

5. Sarin Stroganoff


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LONG ISLANDER OF THE WEEK: KAMAL SHANRABI
They may be a little ahead of the curve at Farmingdale State College. Not too many students are pulling up on campus yet in fully electric vehicles. But the college is definitely ready for them with the state university's first solar carport and charging station. It's one piece of the $24 million Long Island Smart Energy Corridor, supported by LIPA, Stony Brook University and the U.S. Department of Energy. The dean of Farmingdale's Engineering Technology Department, Kamal Shahrabi, says the college's Renewable Energy and Sustainability Center reflects a 101-year legacy of pioneering green technology. Green then, green now, green whenever electric cars finally fill the Farmingdale parking lots.

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Email Ellis@henican.com
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