If one were to take Vladimir Putin’s New York Times op-ed article and dismantle it word for word, that person would come up with some interesting similarities between what Putin has accused President Obama of doing, and of what Putin has done himself in the past.
Thankfully, someone has.
Max Fisher is a Washington Post, foreign affairs blogger and has a master’s degree in security studies from Johns Hopkins University. On Friday, the Washington Post published his article, which supplied, a fact-checked and annotated interpretation of just what Putin was trying to say in the New York Times op-ed. I say, “The New York Times op-ed” because there seems to be no way that Putin can be given credit for having wrote it himself. An op-ed, which, by the way, was offered to the New York Times by an American public relations firm who represents Putin. Whoever wrote the op-ed seems to be entirely seasoned as a skilled-wordsmith and knows the intricacies of how to write an opinion piece.
I doubt Putin learned that in the KGB.
The op-ed, itself, was cleverly crafted to feed into the mainstream emotions of anti-war Americans (and politicians) who want nothing at all to do with the civil war in Syria. It obviously was prodded along by a psychologist, (or maybe even a hypnotist) who was looking over the writer’s shoulder and telling him what to compose.
Putin’s attempt, however, to give the average American citizen a crash course in Middle-Eastern politics was an inept one, and showed what ignorance Putin has towards western-style ambivalence. The average American only cares about foreign politics when its destructive forces hit home as it did on 9/11. It may have worked on the die-hard, anti-war activist or the uneducated internet surfer, but for the most part, it became just another piece of Russian propaganda to be held up for criticism.
Did Putin believe that hundreds of thousands of Americans were going to take the White House by storm, and drag a kicking and screaming Obama out into the streets demanding he stand down? Putin does not realize that Americans would only do that if their food stamps and unemployment checks were cancelled.
Fisher’s piece is interesting as it points out one instance where Putin forgot to mention that he started more than one war himself without the blessings of the United Nations Security Council, like in the Republic of Georgia and Afghanistan. It also reminds the reader of how Putin has been steadily supplying arms to Syria in its war against the rebels. In another part of the article, he shows how Putin uses the importance of adhering to the veto powers of the Security Council to his advantage, which disallows any nation from acting without its unanimous approval. This is clearly a reminder, and a boost to the American people of the power that Russia retains for blocking any such sanctions.
Putin’s directive, however, only proves how shaky his confidence is of the balance of power between Russia and the United States. By going directly to the American public, he shows total disregard for rules of diplomacy and shows how worried he is of what effect America’s so-called bullying has had on his own image, and his capacity to control and dictate Middle-Eastern affairs. It is comparable to a child running to his mother when his father is not giving in to him; it is also laughable, if not pathetic.
I personally found it amusing how Putin used the reference to the Catholic pope, when he said:
”The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in…”
This was a mute reference because the pope always speaks out against any military action at all, and any form of war for that matter. Did Putin recognize and take into account the then pope’s opinion when he started his wars in Georgia and Afghanistan? Putin obviously is not aware of the American catholic’s disdain for the Catholic Church’s past cover-ups of pedophilia by its own priests, and its perceived archaic views on current social issues.
Putin said in the op-ed that chemical weapons were used by:
“…opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists.”
He forgot to take into account, however, how Syrian military forces, had for days after the chemical attack, bombarded the very same neighborhoods that suffered the attack. If the Syrian government forces had known the rebels had done so, why would they repeatedly shell that area and consequently cover-up any evidence of it? It would have been more advantageous for them to show and prove to the world the atrocities the rebels had committed. It seems more logical that they had done so to cover up their own involvement. This theory makes more sense due to the fact that Putin agreed to the demand that Syria accept the new proposal to thwart any missile attack from the United States. Why would he, if he had truly believed that the rebels were indeed responsible?
There are many other hypocritical comments from Putin in the op-ed, and ones, which Max Fisher has gone into in detail. Surely, the more one analyzes the op-ed, the incriminating, hypocrisies one can find. Putin obviously, or whoever wrote it, did not take into account this possibility, furthermore proving, that Putin has once again misjudged the intelligence and reasoning abilities of the American people.
Finally, Putin clearly showed his ignorance and true nature and communistic views when he wrote:
“It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.”
It is exactly this exceptionalism that makes America a superior nation when compared to Russia. If we were to think any less of ourselves, as Putin would like us to, how could we expect the rest of the world to have respect for us?
I have some advice for Putin: Stick to what you do best, which is giving other countries arms to fight your little wars and ideologies for you…and give us back that Super Bowl ring!
© Joseph Rathjen – All Rights Reserved – 2013
- Putin/Ketchum New York Times Op-Ed Inspires PR Ethics Debate (mediabistro.com)
- Putin’s New York Times op-ed, annotated and fact-checked (mareaperblog.wordpress.com)
- Vladimir Putin’s New York Times op-ed, annotated and fact-checked (globaldiplomacy.wordpress.com)