From Russia, with a smirk

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Hunter Johnson, Commentary Editor

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin –Photo courtesy of kremlin.ru
Russian President Vladimir Putin
–Photo courtesy of kremlin.ru

This past Wednesday we Americans were in for quite a treat: the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, wanted to speak directly to us!

Well, more appropriately, Putin decided to take this special opportunity to spit on our collective American faces.

In an opinion piece published by The New York Times, the Russian president proceeded to tell us what is really in our national interests. Drawing a comparison to the failure of the League of Nations before World War II, he urged the United States to refrain from taking “military action” in Syria “without [United Nations] Security Council authorization.” That way, the world could avoid seeing “the United Nations suffer the same fate as the League of Nations.”

Putin went on to inform us how American action in Syria would do more than simply increase violence there and acts of terrorism around the world. In fact, he said, it “could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.”

Well, then. Is that all? Of course not.

After singing some of Russia’s praises, Putin made one more declaration. Quoting President Barack Obama’s statement from the previous night on how America was exceptional in the world, Putin decided to put us in our place.

“I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism … It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.”

Just to be clear, Putin all but directly compared the United States to the Axis Powers of World War II, who brought an end to the League of Nations. And he all but claimed that the United States is sowing greater insecurity throughout the world. And he actually did say that there’s nothing particularly special about being an American.

Those are just some parts of Putin’s op-ed that we as Americans should find offensive. Even the date that he decided to deliver his smackdown, the twelfth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, should make us angry. That’s just in terrible taste (not that the shirtless horseman of Moscow had good taste to begin with).

Ultimately, the timing of the decision rested with the Times, who really made the poor decision here by running it in the first place. His timing in general, though, was excellent in maximizing the strong position in which Russia has currently placed herself – at America’s expense.

As the Obama administration struggled to create a coalition for a strike on Syria, the Russians came riding in on their white horses with an arms proposal, an idea that originated in a slip-of-the-tongue by the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry.

Now that our country has been caught with its foreign-policy britches down – due jointly to the administration’s failure to successfully sell a strike on Syria and the Russians’ clever maneuvering – how should we, as American citizens, respond?

We need to remember that the United States is exceptional, not because we say so but because it actually is. Historically, geographically, politically, demographically – I could elaborate for days on what makes this country special. But for your sake, I won’t.

The moment we forget the U.S. is exceptional, as Putin would like us to do, our actions abroad will change in such a manner that our influence will diminish. Many countries will ignore our wishes; some will begin to openly act against our interests (if they weren’t doing so already). America’s era as a superpower will be brought to an end, as will our national and economic security.

If the issue of Syria doesn’t seem like a big deal to many Americans, it is because they don’t see the long-term effects of the conflict. We, as citizens, cannot forget that our standing in the world, our security, hangs in the balance. We must urge the Obama administration to be strong in dealing with the Russians and Syrians and not allow our reputation to be steamrolled any further.

That, Mr. Putin, is in America’s best interest.

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