handout photo distributed by Syrian News Agency (SANA) on July 3, 2012, shows Syria's President Bashar al-Assad during an interview with a Turkish newspaper in Damascus.
In Russia's case, paranoia is almost part of the country's DNA.
Those with memories stretching back 30-plus years, or who take the time to study history, will recall that the Soviet Union (when it existed), suspected China's break from echoing the Soviet line was a ploy manipulated by Washington.
And in those days, the famed American counterintelligence guru, James Jesus Angleton, didn't believe the China-Soviet split was real, but a ploy by the communist powers to lull America into complacency.
Paranoia does that to people - and to nations. Sometimes what you see is real and not a devious plot.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says he (and his country's leadership) think the UN peace plan for Syria is orchestrated by America and western countries to "blackmail" Russia into turning against its client state.
Of course we in western democracies know better ... don't we?
Our political leaders just want the Syrian rebellion resolved, without any nonsense like getting involved militarily as we did so enthusiastically in Libya.
Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan has been scurrying around the Middle East (and Russia) trying to get a six-point peace proposal adopted.
In a word, Kofi Annan as a negotiator is useless - and now probably unnecessary.
With four leaders of Syria's inner circle killed by a suicide bomber - including Defence Minister Gen. Daoud Rajiha and his deputy - the end, as they say, is near. At this writing even President Bashar al-Assad is nowhere to be seen, and his wife is reportedly getting sanctuary in Russia.
Assad is a tyrant without conscience, mercy or remorse. But he's astute enough to see the weakness of Kofi Annan and the UN. By agreeing to everything while violating every agreement, Assad had a certain immunity to continue slaughtering.
The 16 months of killing in Syria offends the sensitivities of western democracies - and some Arab states. But mass killings are nothing new in the histories of Russia or communist China, and have been rationalized in the past by the slogan that you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.
As for Kofi Annan, a devout Methodist from Ghana, he was the UN's hopeless secretary-general from 1997 to 2006, and seemed intent of avoiding awkward decisions. He even declared the high commissioner for refugees innocent of sexual harassment when a UN report found him guilty as sin.
He was involved in the oil-for-food program that was exploited by Saddam Hussein, with Annan's son getting payments from a Swiss firm involved.
The U.S. finally lost patience with Annan's passive leadership and he was more-or-less bounced (America's UN ambassador John Bolton was no fan). Annan moved on the become the Arab League's Mideast negotiator - another failure.
So what happens now?
Not much - and not much needs to be done. The Assad dynasty seems finished. Only Iran mourns, since Syria was a useful conduit to support Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel. Mercifully, western countries have stayed out of the fray, and Syria's future hinges on Syrians themselves.
Even paranoid Russia and China must see that.