Syria as an Issue for
On 24 December Kirill, Patriarch of the Moscow Patriarchate, terminated Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, his well-known, long-time church diplomat. Chaplin has been accusing his church of timidity in its relations with the government: “We need to speak prophetically and not look back fearfully every time we speak.” He also told the “Interfax” news agency, that the church “should not be smiling at and embracing someone known to be corrupt”. After his release, Chaplin added that he had repeatedly criticised Vladimir Putin because of his indecision on Donbass. Chaplin has supported the concept of “Rus”, a kind of Russian super state.
Chaplin, who can be described as a conservative nationalist, remains prior of a leading Moscow church.
Vsevolod Chaplin was also criticised within Russia for describing the “war against terror“ in Syria as a holy war on the terms of a medieval crusader. He even called for the usage of nuclear weaponry.
Articles from Jacob Dreizin, a Washington-based critic of US foreign policy, are worthy of reading in the Syrian context. (See for ex.: „russia-insider.com/en/curb-your-enthusiasm-russia-not-winning-syria/ri11485” and “russia-insider.com/en/curb-your-enthusiasm-part-2-russia-still-not-winning-syria/ri12018”.) On 27 November, Dreizin wrote: The Russian claim that “’ we have to fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here’ is pure fantasy imported from America”. “It pains me to see wise Russia parroting failed Bush-era mantras straight out of Fox News. For a country that is intellectually head-and-shoulders over the US, . . . it is certainly a new low. Russia should have stayed home. Now it is in a hopeless situation rolling downhill at dizzying speed. I’m almost afraid to open my eyes.”
He added on 26 December: “I believe the case for Russian involvement is . . . a perfect mirror image of the disease that plagues Washington D.C.” Yet only the US economy is big enough to survive economic debacles.
My commentary: The danger of terrorism cannot be eliminated by the elimination of „terrorists“. A mathematical solution such as attrition is rarely successful – see for ex. Vietnam. Diplomacy and a resolution of the social and economic needs would offer a more promising perspective. There are Russian politicians who claim their foreign ministry is counting above all on diplomacy. That is a source of some comfort for me. I think it defensible that Russia is counting on Assad, virtually the last secular and multi-confessional oriented head-of-state in the Middle East. Dreizin does not address this aspect here.
William Yoder, Ph.D.
Berlin, 28 December 2015
A journalistic release for which the author is solely responsible. It is informational in character and does not express the official position of any church organisation. This release may be reprinted free-of-charge if the source is cited. Release #15-12.