A Plea for Caution From Russia

It is dangerous for any country, including America, to see itself as exceptional, whatever its motivation.
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Exceptional? Hardly.
4 2014-12-09 03:52:55 - michael

Thank you, Mr. Putin. I thought only our US President was still campaigning for office.

So I am sure to understand: The world, Russia and the US included, have no care for over 100,000 people killed in Syria. (Evidence, we've done nothing to stop it, but we have, respectively, armed each side in order to allow them to kill more).

Then, poison gas is used. Of course, somehow the 1,400 people killed by gas are somehow a different form of "dead" than those shot. Therefore, we must punish Syria. (In other words, if Assad simply shot those 1.400 people, all would be well.)

In order to protect Russia's interest in Syria, you played an incredible role AND you were able to humiliate Obama. Well played, Old man!

And now both you and Obama are telling us that Assad will "hand over his gas weapons" (which are the ones he denied he even has) to the UN.

And (this is really an incredible story, isn't it!!!!) there is full faith that Assad won't keep any of the gas (which he says he doesn't have) nor make more, etc. And - ready for this one? ..... he'll be allowed to kill more by shooting them. (just no gas, thank you)

Then again, you and Obama do have an alliance on one important thing - you are both committed to make your populations all equally miserable in an effort to create "equality". I know you have succeeded and Obama is struggling to surpass you.

Please don't help him.

13 2014-12-09 02:55:00 - John

This is a pretty funny piece of propaganda, designed to persuade Americans to leave Russia's client Assad in power. It's full of emotional appeals and not-that-subtle rhetorical trickery. The clincher? Accusing Americans of hypocrisy for suggesting that Obama's assertion that

"Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong. But 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."

is a violation of the first "truth" laid out in the Declaration of Independence.

Very clever. Especially from a man who hunts his dissident opponents with strontium 90.

7 2014-12-09 01:13:53 - RBS

Wonder who that ghost writer was...Snowden?

0 2014-12-08 22:12:56 - FJM

Putin is pointing out that promoting American exceptionalism is damaging not because it threatens the World peace, but because it causes the brain drain, as the brightest and most talented seek to escape the place they were born to reach the United States, and leave the leadership of the remaining nations with limited pool of talent to advance the standard of living in their own respective countries.

0 2014-12-08 16:18:12 - laconic

For those of you reading this as pure propaganda, now's your chance to pick apart the content. Of course there is the dubious claim that the nerve gas may have been used by the rebels to mimic an attack by the Syrian Army, but what else is wrong with the letter?

It seems like the main objections that have been raised thus far are that we can't trust ex-KGB Putin, and Putin is a hypocrite on human rights, so therefore we should disregard his message. This kind of ad hominem attack doesn't really do much to make a case.

I mean, yes, where Putin is involved, it's best to proceed with caution. But that should be the beginning of the rebuttal process, not the end of it.

If it's truly just propaganda, it won't hold up to scrutiny. If the message is valid, then we can't dismiss it just because the messenger is shady. The rest of the world certainly won't.

0 2014-12-08 13:41:46 - Ashley

Proof of the pudding Will be the Quick and complete removal of these type of weapons anything less will bring on problems ...

0 2014-12-08 12:09:04 - R Galutia

Good points. Correct theme.

1 2014-12-08 09:15:59 - Max21c

I find Putin's statement overall to be good, helpful to the world's situation and correct with respect to his aims as stated. I do not think that the Syrian rebels had anything to do with the gassing of Syrians and I do believe that it is much more likely that Bashir Assad, who is acknowledged as having control of the country's chemical weapons, is responsible. Putin should acknowledge that. HIs last paragraph, without the assignment of divinity, is in my view also right.

3 2014-12-08 09:08:36 - aaron horowitz

You do know that Putin is the one who supported and helped to arm the Assad regime, making it possible for the tyrant to kill 100,000 Syrians in this brutal civil war, right?

6 2014-12-08 08:10:05 - Andrea

I agree completely. Israel does same and now is the time to have a backbone and stand up to them as well. Lets look out for USA interests first and foremost.

2 2014-12-08 06:29:49 - Maison

Mr. Putin is not displaying "leadership." He is simply trying to burnish his international reputation so that he can continue his anti-democratic rule at home. You're a fool if you believe this is about promoting peace and solidarity.

0 2014-12-08 04:32:55 - Brad Blumenstock

While I don't agree with everything Mr. Putin states, I appreciate his appeal to us. I appreciate The New York Times' providing a platform for him to speak to us. And I appreciate living in a country that allows him to speak to us.

0 2014-12-08 02:29:29 - mary barlow

I commend Mr. Putin for a viable solution that avoids war. But "deep understanding of decades old conflict"? We all have that -- because we all have our experts (the people with the PhD's who really know this stuff). What Mr. Putin has is a deep understanding of politics. That is what he has committed. But, in this instance, I'll take it. Hopefully Mr. Obama will as well. By the way, American exceptionalism is not a hubris on the part of the American people. It is simply the idea that the United States is "qualitatively different" from other nations (not in a superior or inferior sense, just different), in the sense of how it was created (on principles rather than ethnicity for example). Some will claim a superiority, but that was not it's original meaning. And I think it was the Frenchman Alexis deTocqueville (sp?) who first used the phrase.

4 2014-12-07 23:57:05 - RG

The question regarding who shot the poison gas should be put to the World Court or some other tribunal, with the US and Russia presenting their evidence.

I agree with most of what Putin had to say, but it bothers me that there is no mention of about 20k Hezbollah fighters on Assad's side: Hezbollah armed with poison gas missiles would pose an extreme threat to Israel.

2 2014-12-07 18:14:09 - Juvenal451

I quibble with several of president Putin's remarks, but I agree completely with this:

"And I would rather disagree with a case he (Obama) 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. "

I am curious if this type of open acknowledgement of "American exceptionalism" existed in the 20s and 30's interwar period, and during WWII to the extent that politicians would regularly claim it?

0 2014-12-07 00:44:57 - Lafayette Ann
Putin is right on this one. Diplomacy is better than war.
2 2014-12-06 23:44:43 - david

I totally understand where you're coming from; I'm no fan of Putin either (to put it mildly). But as rational adults, we have to do our best to separate the message from its speaker. If there's wisdom in Putin's words we need to hear it, regardless of how much we dislike him as a person. To do otherwise is to effectively engage in the logical fallacy of ad hominem.

1 2014-12-06 19:33:51 - Z in TX

the Russians are laughing at obama

0 2014-12-06 17:14:27 - b seattle

The world in some places needs dictators, Americas position for democracy all over is a clear show of a misunderstanding of the world. If we go to Syria and punish a leader who we don't really want out, we achieve nothing other than showing that we will punish people and petty dictators. President Obama, please declare war on poverty here in the US, war on the fact that we are becoming a third world country and war on education, so people can afford a good one without falling into a debt trap forever.
Putin knows first hand what will happen, Chaos and more radicalism. Assad is never a choice, but given the worse, he is the better choice.

1 2014-12-06 09:45:56 - Javier

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