Writing in the New York Times in 1999, Vladimir Putin argued that Russia could bomb Chechnya regardless of what the rest of the world might think. Writing in the same paper in 2013, he has just argued that the United States cannot not bomb Syria unless the rest of the world gives its approval.
Putin's latest op-ed for the Gray Lady is the ultimate expression of the parallel neo-Soviet universe in which Putin lives, a world where not even the laws of physics apply to Russia. In his words one can clearly hear the echo of the laughably deranged polices of the Politburo, policies that drove the USSR into the dustbin of history.
Putin complains about poor communication between the U.S. and Russia, but while he takes advantage of the Gray Lady's hospitality, he doesn't offer access to state-controlled Russian newspapers or TV so that the U.S. can argue against him.
Putin claims that the U.S. and Russia were allies against the Nazis, but he ignores the fact that Russian students learn Russia defeated the Nazis all by itself.
He touts the importance of the United Nations, then threatens to destroy it if the U.S. doesn't do Russia's bidding. He touts the Security Council's will, but Russia ignored the Security Council when it invaded Georgia in 2008 and when it bombed Chechnya into oblivion in 1999.
He states that the Roman pope opposes U.S. intervention in Syria, ignoring the fact that Russia has its own pope and routinely represses any religion, including any Christian religion, that does not follow the Russian pope's teachings.
He warns that attacking Syria could "unleash a new wave of terrorism," ignoring the fact that Russian support for Hizb'allah, Iran, and Syria plays significant role in the old wave of terrorism American has been fighting for years now.
Putin completely ignores Russia's alliance with Syria, its vast profits from military weapons sales and the fact that Syria is one of Russia's last beachheads in the Middle East, writing as if he were an objective truth-teller only interested in world peace. His remarks echo those of Hitler just after he liquidated Poland.
Putin claims that since al Qaeda has forces opposing the Syrian government, the U.S. should side with that murderous regime and help it kill hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians, ignoring that al Qaeda is vastly outnumbered in the opposition by the same type of forces who brought down tyranny in Egypt and Libya. Putin lied shamelessly about John Kerry's remarks on al Qaeda, saying Kerry claimed it did not exist in Syria when in fact he merely said it was not growing in strength. His need to lie speaks volumes about the validity of his position.
Putin claims Russia has "advocated peaceful dialogue from the outset" in Syria, forgetting to tell Times readers that Russia has also been deluging Syria with weapons "from the outset," weapons it has used to murder tens of thousands of innocent civilians. The chemical weapons Syria is using are also of Russian origin.
Putin hails the power of "international law," the same law Russia wantonly disregarded when it annexed Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2008. His suggestion that no country can take action unless every country on the Security Council approves is laughable. If only the U.S. and Britain vetoed Russian action approved by every other member of the Council, Putin would act without hesitation.
Putin says there is "every reason to believe" that poison gas was used by the Syrian rebels, not the regime, but he does not cite one single shred of evidence proving this is so, and has never done so. The only "evidence" Putin has ever mentioned is his logical canard that the regime would not use chemical weapons unless it were losing badly on the battlefield. The U.S. must have evidence, in other words, but Putin needs none.
Putin claims that he is advising the U.S. about its own "long-term interest." But Russia bristles with fury every time the U.S. tries to advise Russia in this regard, and Putin's palpable hatred of American and its values makes such claims from him seem ludicrous beyond words. He claims he doesn't want "millions around the world" to look away from the U.S. for leadership, but in fact that is exactly what Putin wants and has been working for from his first moments in power. He is a career KGB spy, after all.
According to Putin, the U.S. should have followed Russia and done all it could to leave murderous dictatorships Egypt, Afghanistan, and Iraq in place. That would have suited Putin quite well, since Russian influence in the world diminishes each time Russia-friendly dictators in such regions fell.
Putin's worry about "civilian casualties" coming from U.S. strikes on Syria is a real howler. Putin totally ignores not just the rivers of blood being churned out by the genocidal Syrian regime itself, but also the civilian casualties Russia inflicted in Chechnya and Georgia, heedless of international concerns.
Putin argues that attacking Syria will induce similar regimes to seek "the bomb" to defend themselves from attacks, ignoring the fact that Russia is flooding Iran with nuclear technology and all sorts of weapons, including sophisticated missiles, dismissing international outrage.
Putin advocates a plan whereby the Syrian government would surrender its chemical weapons to Russia, but he refuses to support a binding U.N. resolution that would place clear standards on such a handover and call for military action to enforce it. That's because Putin's gambit is only a delaying tactic, not a real effort to rein in the Assad regime.
Then comes the mother of all neo-Soviet whoppers. Putin writes: "My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust." The truth is that Putin has no relationship with Obama, that the relationship was laid in its grave when Putin gave asylum to Edward Snowden and Obama responded by snubbing Putin that the G-20 summit and meeting instead with a group of homosexual activists.
Putin ends by arguing that it is "extremely dangerous" for Americans to consider themselves exceptional because "God created us equal." Putin presides over a society where sexual, racial, and religious diversity is being liquidated at breakneck speed, a society that sees itself as being far more exceptional than the U.S. ever dreamed of being. Give an example, just one, of Russia abandoning a policy because the world so instructed it (as opposed to because of blunt force). You can't do it, because that's not how Russia rolls.
What Putin means when he says it's "extremely dangerous" is dangerous for Russia. Russia simply doesn't have any hope of winning a fair competition against the U.S., so Putin must spin a web of distortions, just as was done in the USSR, in the hopes of undermining and replacing the U.S. And he thinks that because the U.S. has a dithering, inexperienced, and spineless president, he might be able to get away with it.