Topics: Barack Obama

The thuggish Mr. Putin speaks to America

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Op-Eds,Barack Obama,United States,Iran,Russia,Syria,Analysis,Middle East,Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin, the thuggish president of Russia, recently wrote an open letter to Americans challenging the American identity as an exceptional people, presaging the demise of international law in the face of unilateral action, and generally defending Syrian tyrant Bashar Assad’s reign for practical purposes.

The article is utterly bombastic and hypocritical. President Obama has been played and Putin wrote this article to make sure Obama knew as much.

The New York Times, of course, is perfectly within its rights to publish such dribble. Unlike Russia, American enjoys a free press that is lauded for its role as a watchdog in the American political system.

Of course Putin is a foe of America’s success, but that merely puts him in the same camp as Americans like New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and others who would see American decline as a positive gain for the world. There is a strong case to be made, however, that Putin is much more willing to act on his desire for a declining America.

Putin’s scolding of the United States and American exceptionalism, is, as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said, “an insult to the intelligence of every American.” It is a cheap political ploy in the midst of a diplomatic maneuver whereby Obama has abrogated American leadership in the Middle East to the former head of the KGB.

As a result, America is less safe today than it was last week.

This is not the first time an American president has chosen to devalue America’s leadership in the world. Yet, in responding to Jimmy Carter’s malaise speech, President Reagan wrote that “those who speak of an age of limitation are speaking of their own, not America’s.”

Obama referenced America’s exceptional nature but rooted it in an old FDR speech calling for non-interventionism. As The Weekly Standard’s William Kristol pointed out, this was not the FDR who fought Hitler, but the FDR of the 1930s, the day before Mussolini invaded Ethiopia.

When Reagan called the Soviet Union an evil empire, he did so with the great weight of moral authority earned after decades of decrying Soviet expansionism and while in the midst of coordinating efforts to roll it back with the Bishop of Rome and the Iron Lady.

Obama cannot even bring himself to use the term “terrorism” when it threatens our embassies, military bases, or cities and has undermined U.S. relations with the Holy See, the United Kingdom, and other U.S. allies around the world.

Regardless of whether intervention in Syria is the best course of action, there is no role for the brutish head of a pseudo-democratic nation known for supplying weapons to rogue states and propping up oppressive dictators in that deliberation.

If anything, Putin's article should only increase the level of skepticism of Russian’s interests in supposedly brokering a deal between Syria and the U.S. This is, of course, the inevitable result when choosing to lead from behind.

The Obama doctrine of leading from behind has resulted in attacks on U.S. embassies abroad, the murder of a U.S. ambassador, the apparent proliferation of nuclear weapons, a destabilized Egypt, and the brutal killing of countless civilians in Syria.

It is time to declare an end to the leading from behind doctrine. The United States under Obama has essentially abandoned its role as a leader in international security. It is no wonder, then, that he and Congress face complex questions with no positive results likely.

America has a history of leading the world in issues of international security, leading the charge against fascism, communism, genocide, terrorism and nuclear proliferation.

Obama has scoffed at the idea of American exceptionalism in the past. There should be no surprise, therefore, about the brazen nature of Putin’s scoffing of American exceptionalism now.

When inaction is policy, the lives of Americans and the lives of millions of unnamed people around the globe are put at risk. Putin may be the first to take advantage of Obama’s tragically naïve foreign policy skills. Unfortunately, he may not be the last.

America needs a president who will neither rush into battle nor sit alone and watch the world burn. America needs a president who believes in American exceptionalism built by the millions of Americans who seek to make America stronger, safer, and more prosperous every day, and who will restore this country to its status as a beacon of hope for liberty and freedom, a city upon a hill showing the world there is a better way.

Brandon James Smith is a lawyer working in Washington D.C. and an adjunct professor teaching applied politics at American University.
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