Russian President Vladimir Putin is continuing on his so-called ‘victory lap’ after seemingly getting the better of President Obama in the Syrian chemical weapons impasse. Putin wrote a very controversial op-ed in the New York Times calling for Washington to pursue diplomacy rather than use force. By the way, PR giant Ketchum placed the article with the NY Times.
Putin writes, “The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders.” He also called for the United Nations Security Council to be used as “one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos.”
Um, we all know that the United Nations has stumbled on many occasions and be considered virtually useless. The bigger question for me is why didn’t Vladimir Putin offer such a proposal before President Obama started calling for military strikes against Syria after President Bashar al-Assad’s regime gassed over 1,400 people, including more than 400 kids?
Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us.”
But force has proved ineffective and pointless. Afghanistan is reeling, and no one can say what will happen after international forces withdraw. Libya is divided into tribes and clans. In Iraq the civil war continues, with dozens killed each day. In the United States, many draw an analogy between Iraq and Syria, and ask why their government would want to repeat recent mistakes.
No matter how targeted the strikes or how sophisticated the weapons, civilian casualties are inevitable, including the elderly and children, whom the strikes are meant to protect.The world reacts by asking: if you cannot count on international law, then you must find other ways to ensure your security. Thus a growing number of countries seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction. This is logical: if you have the bomb, no one will touch you. We are left with talk of the need to strengthen nonproliferation, when in reality this is being eroded.
I wonder if we are to talk about Vladimir Putin’s record on human rights, including gay rights, and using ‘brute force’ against his critics, how would he feel? Vladimir Putin ends his article with this parting shot:
“My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”
This was cross-posted from The Hinterland Gazette.