On Wednesday, Vladimir Putin published his op-ed piece in The New York Times urging “caution from Russia” with respect to U.S. policy in Syria. The piece is worth reading if you haven’t already, and it is an impressive piece of political theatre. Although the left is up-in-arms over what they are calling Putin’s hypocrisy, that is completely beside the point. Few with any wits about them should consider Putin to be anything but a power-hungry Machiavellian, though that is also what makes this performance so noteworthy. The Op-ed piece is a complete and utter smackdown of Obama and Obama’s failed foreign policy in a very public sphere, and that is what has the political establishment in Washington, DC so hopping mad about it. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), John McCain and John Boehner were all quoted expressing their displeasure in an article that appeared on Yahoo yesterday. One wonders which heavy weights will express their dismay next: Harry Reid, perhaps, or Nancy Pelosi, or maybe even Lindsay Graham. I’m sure Putin is feeling very afraid.
If you haven’t yet read the Putin piece, I urge you to do so, simply to observe the way Putin cleverly throws Obama’s and the left’s rhetoric back at them and calls them dangerous hypocrites and warmongers. I’d quote the whole thing, but for the purpose of illustrating my point, the last paragraph will more than suffice. Putin writes:
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.
Some conservatives I know are angry with thuggish Putin for saying that America is not exceptional. But that is beside the point. In fact, that completely misses the point.
Putin is simply echoing a point Obama made at a NATO meeting back in April 2009:
I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.
Now, the fact that I am very proud of my country and I think that we’ve got a whole lot to offer the world does not lessen my interest in recognizing the value and wonderful qualities of other countries, or recognizing that we’re not always going to be right, or that other people may have good ideas, or that in order for us to work collectively, all parties have to compromise and that includes us.
And so I see no contradiction between believing that America has a continued extraordinary role in leading the world towards peace and prosperity and recognizing that that leadership is incumbent, depends on, our ability to create partnerships because we create partnerships because we can’t solve these problems alone.
As Jim Yardley observes in the article from which I have culled the Obama passage above: “These words of the President are fairly typical of what has passed as thoughtful analysis from the current occupant of the White House. They are words that would be right at home in the faculty lounge in Chicago or Cambridge, Massachusetts.” So to return to our present context: Putin has cleverly turned Obama’s words against him for all to see, and in the context of the situation with Syria, he has revealed Obama to be an arrogant, narcissistic, posturing fraud.
Yesterday when I was in the car, I heard a very insightful interview about the Putin op-ed on the Tom Sullivan radio show. I didn’t recognize the speaker’s voice, but I was impressed with all he had to say about how Putin’s strategy in Syria was all about making Russia and not the United States the dominant power in the Middle East. He talked about the Reagan years and the fact that, aside from the arms buildup, one way Reagan was able to win the cold war was by keeping oil prices low. He pointed out that to keep the Russian economy afloat, Putin has an interest in keeping oil prices high. Likewise, for the sake of energy, Putin has an interesting in forming strong allegiances with as many Middle-Eastern oil producing states as it can.
It turned out the speaker being interviewed was none other than Col. Oliver North. He called the Putin op-ed piece “brilliant” and said that with that clever op-ed piece, Putin had effectively changed the dynamics in the Middle East by very publicly embarrassing Obama in a way that let the nations of the Middle East see that Obama is weak, vain, and unreliable as a potential ally. I haven’t been able to embed either the video or the audio here, but if you care to know more about what the future of the Middle East may look like as a result of Obama’s failed policies and posturing, you really owe it to yourself to listen to the whole interview.