Nervy move by Vladimir Putin: writing a New York Times op-ed in an effort to prevent a U.S. attack on Syria.
Foolishly, though, Putin alienates the Americans whose opinions matter most in this crisis, namely the wingnut GOP base and the elected Republican hypocrites the base votes for, folks who've now decided as a bloc that they hate war if a Kenyan socialist Democrat is in charge. They're the key plsyers in all this because they're the people who used to accuse war skeptics of treason; in the past, they cowed people who doubted that war was a wise course. By making war skepticism something we're allowed to talk about, they're allowing a generalized public skepticism to flourish.
So Putin should have pitched his op-ed to them. He should have given them something they could happily quote at length as they laughed at how the Russian leader was humiliating Obama. Instead, Putin wrote this:
The United Nations' founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.U.S. wingnuts may be nouveau peaceniks, but they still hate the UN with every fiber of their being. They absolutely want the UN to suffer the fate of the League of Nations.
No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.
And Putin alienates the U.S. right further with 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.Wrong -- U.S. right-wingers absolutely believe in American exceptionalism. God wrote our Constitution! Jesus loves us and thinks other countries suck!
The U.S. right just believes that American exceptionalism is impossible under the evil Obama -- but exceptionalism is still a very good thing.
This was Putin's chance to build on the U.S. right's infatuation with him. It was another chance for American righties to use him as a stick to beat Obama with, and to declare him more of a leader, more of a statesman, and more of a man than Obama. And I think Putin blew it.
BUT: Maybe I have this all wrong. In all likelihood, Putin's target audience is the mainstream punditocracy in the U.S., which doesn't give a crap what actually happens in Syria and is exclusively concerned with who's a big strong manly person with power and who's a pathetic girlyman with no power. Never mind the fact that Putin is clearly worried about an attack on Syria, and clearly fears a wider Middle Eastern war, as well as the possibility that chemical weapons will fall into the hands of Muslim rebels within Russia’s borders. In other words, never mind the fact that the credible threat of force moved Putin to do all this, which means that, however clumsily, Obama did use power effectively, as even the mainstream press has begun to acknowledge. The insiders’ preferred narrative is still shirtless macho man Putin makes Obama look like a wuss in mom jeans. So, in that respect, this op-ed works.