September 13, 2013
Writing yesterday in the New York Times, Russian President Vladimir Putin went to great lengths to insist that the issue of Syria’s chemical weapons should be resolved at the United Nations. In an article informed by Cold War-era thinking, he also went to great lengths to lecture the United States about democracy.
By focusing attention on Syria, Heritage Foundation expert Ariel Cohen explains, Putin is distracting the world from his own unenviable domestic track record:
As long as Obama is focused on the Butcher of Damascus, he will not harass Putin with questions about the battery of oppressive laws passed by the Duma. These include a ban on adoption of Russian babies, cutoff of U.S. support to Russian nongovernmental organizations, draconian laws limiting freedom of speech and freedom of religion, abuse of peaceful demonstrators, keeping Mikhail Khodorkovsky and other political prisoners in jail, and threatening whistleblower and politician Alexei Navalny with a five-year prison term.
But how did America let herself get to this point?
Part of it is because of John Kerry’s brand of diplomacy and President Obama’s weak foreign policy. Our administration’s policies have opened the flood gates for international criticism. So much so that Putin is now lecturing us on democracy and telling us our belief in American exceptionalism is dangerous.
Yes, he really said that. “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation,” Putin wrote at the end of his screed.
Heritage’s Matthew Spalding reminds us why America is exceptional. His colleague Rich Tucker points out that President Obama has also taken issue with American exceptionalism.
Putin’s New York Times article was a brazen attempt to subvert our elected officials and talk directly to the American people, Cohen says. This puts President Obama on the defensive and further undermines the weak domestic support for his military plans in Syria.
And this, Cohen warns “is exactly where Putin wants the U.S. to be.”
What do you think about President Putin’s New York Times article?