which includes minorities such as African Americans and Hispanic or Latino Americans, and receives the financial support of large companies and the banks of Wall Street. Putin leans on a small circle of partners who served with him in the Soviet intelligence services (FSB) in Saint Petersburg, who managed to take over all economic sectors using threats, persecution and the arrest of company owners.
This difference underscores the difference between the regimes in the two countries. While the political regime in Russia has tended towards a monopolistic takeover by the Putin group for the last 14 years, trampling all opposition underfoot, the US regime is characterized by the interchanging of the two major parties, whose domestic and foreign policies are very different even though both maintain US standing around the globe and serve the interests of Wall Street. The difference between the two leaders stems also from the way each came to power. Putin arrived on the back of Russia’s bankruptcy and dismemberment. Obama rose in the midst of a financial crisis stemming from the relaxation of regulation on the banks’ corrupt and foolhardy behavior, which led to the collapse of the banking and financial sector at a global level, as well as the depletion of US resources in the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Attempts at regime change using military force in Iraq not only ended in defeat but led to economic catastrophe in the US, and public opinion shifted firmly against sending US troops abroad. On the other hand, the US can apply its power and influence through its monopoly in advanced technologies and through its money, via Wall Street, without needing an army which has become extremely expensive and, in the long term, not particularly effective.
Putin does not have this kind of economic power. He relies on traditional industry, energy export and the military industries. Putin feels threatened, and fears the West will support forces that will bring him down, which is why he ruthlessly suppresses all opposition and closes down independent media outlets. The revolution against Yanukovych in the Ukraine or the extension of NATO to Georgia or the Ukraine are perceived by Putin as a threat to his regime, but there is nothing threatening the US regime because of its military and financial supremacy.
After the Iraq fiasco, Obama came to the conclusion that it is not possible to impose a regime by force or through a dictatorial regime such as that in Egypt or Saudi Arabia. Support for such regimes, Obama thinks, places the US in direct conflict with the Arab nations at a time when these regimes have no future because they are based on suppression and corruption, not on persuasion and free choice. Democracy cannot be repressed, nor can it be imposed from outside. It must be the natural result of the aspirations of citizens to freedom from oppression and backwardness. The war on terror must be waged without the use of support from these rotten and repressive regimes, since support only increases hatred of the West. Obama’s speech at CairoUniversity in 2009 was the first volley in this new direction, and the Arab Spring which followed vindicated US perception of Arab reality. The US wants to influence events in the Middle East not through threats, but by means of its economic power and diplomatic influence, and this is what led the US administration to recognize the first elected president in Egypt even though it was from the Muslim Brotherhood.
Clearly Putin has a different view. Putin does not believe in democracy. He does not believe in democratic regimes in the Arab world either. So it was only natural that he would support Assad and all his crimes against his own people just as he rapidly accepted the military coup in Egypt and encouraged Field Marshal Sisi as the only one able to govern Egypt.
The US position on the military regime in Egypt and the Syrian regime is without doubt more progressive than the Russian position, which is undeniably reactionary according to any yardstick. This does not mean the US has changed its capitalist and imperialist character, but it has changed the way it goes about achieving its objectives. The US position provoked the Saudis who supported the Egyptian coup and fear the Arab Spring may make its way to them too.
Thus it can be understood that the disagreement between Israel and the US is not only over the Palestinian issue and solution to the conflict in the Middle East. Netanyahu, like Putin and Saudi King Abdullah, fear the spread of democracy in the Arab world. Every step in the direction of democracy will lead to the fall of regimes who have been Israel’s allies, such as those in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. That’s why Netanyahu kept quiet on the Ukrainian issue, despite US pressure on Israel to declare it supports the US position. Israel made do with a vague declaration, and Netanyahu does all he can to bring down Obama using his Republican