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OBAMA GOES GLOBAL WITH WAR PITCH - President Obama appears in a joint press conference this morning in Stockholm with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, marking the first time Obama has faced questions since submitting to Congress his request for authorization to attack Syria. While there’s some irony for a president whose most famous previous trip to Scandinavia was to collect a Nobel Peace Prize, he will surely find friends as he meets with Nordic leaders who have joined in U.S. calls for U.N. action against Syria.
Putin unpleasant on purpose - It’s tomorrow when things will get really testy as Obama arrives in St. Petersburg, Russia for a meeting of the G20, ostensibly on economic issues. The summit is taking place on the soil of Syria’s most powerful protector. It also takes place as traditional U.S. allies, like Britain and Germany, are spurning Obama’s pleas for an attack. In an interview with the Associated Press, Russian President Vladimir Putin embraced his role as Obama’s chief international rival. “President Obama hasn't been elected by the American people with the purpose of being pleasant to Russia,” Putin said. “And your humble servant hasn't been elected by the people of Russia to be pleasant to anyone.”
The takeaway - Obama’s Swedish stopover is designed to show the president on the side of liberal humanitarians with his Syria strike plan. Putin will be trying to cast the proposed strike on Russia’s traditional Middle East ally as a re-emergence of Cold War-era proxy conflicts.