Writing in todays New York Times, the Russian leader explains to the American president, and the American people, how the world is really working, versus how Barack Obama claims he thinks it does.
I say "claims", because the simplistic jingoism Obama has to often display, supposedly to appeal to American militarists (and other yahoos) seems insincere to most people not sporting an "I ♥ Obama '08" tattoo on their ass—and even to many of them. And ordering the nation off to war on the basis of insincere motives, is so last decade, and so something Americans are fed up with.
Putin, for his part, has sized up Obama, and found him pliable when it comes to the urgency of doing what is morally imperative. A real president, after all, who sincerely believed his nation had a moral obligation to strike Assad, and yet confronted with just about NOBODY who thinks that military strike is a good idea, would have struck anyway, and before some silly debate about it could have started. At the same time, a real president might have figured out, before the Russian president had to explain it to him, that maybe blowing up more stuff (and people), in response to a lot of people dying in Syria, was more extremist than exigent.
But a real president is something Barack Obama increasingly seems like he simply is not and will never be. As the Times said today, Obama is properly described, in most of his policy meanderings that have consumed him for almost five years now, by the dreaded f-word—feckless.
Putin, among other pointed and quite reasonable criticisms, said that Obama's and the US's longterm posture in the world, as the exceptional defender of freedom, was actually just a dangerous delusion, which frightened a lot more people than it encouraged:
"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 in reaction to something Obama had said to the American people on Tuesday evening:
"When, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional."
The problem is, too often Barack Obama ends up sounding like Emilie Litella. If reflection is such a good thing, maybe a president should do it BEFORE demanding the US go to war over an extraordinarily dubious "norm".
Putin also talked about how, in the face of a global US aggression against so many nations, there is really only one way that being equal in the world matters:
"The world reacts [to illegal US wars] 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."This is obviously a reference to Iran, pointing out that the US has itself to blame for the Iranian decision, perhaps now moving to a point of bearing fruit, to pursue making nuclear weapons.
Somehow, Obama told the American people, attacking Syria for allegedly using WMD was going to send a necessary message to Iran and North Korea and other countries that the US considers dangerous, rogue states. But, somehow, the importance of that message diminished as Barack Obama decided the best person to help him out of his current confusion is Vladimir Putin.
The American people meanwhile? What difference do they make?
Oh yeah—they're the ones who keep sending in the clowns. They should be ashamed of themselves, for a lot of reasons.