House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., wrote a scathing retort in the Moscow Times to Russian President Vladimir Putin's Sept. 11 New York Times op-ed on Syria that also claimed America wasn't exceptional.
McKeon's op-ed accuses Putin of making false conclusions about the war in Syria and the decision by the United States to consider, then reject, air strikes in Syria in retaliation for the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons against its own people.
"The Americans who read Putin's op-ed are not dupes," McKeon wrote. "They are aware of the suppression of the Russian people, the intimidation of journalists and the wanton disregard for basic human rights. In addition, they are able to identify irony when they see it, particularly when it is Putin who is making a spontaneous appeal for humanitarianism and the observance of rule of law."
McKeon's op-ed does not directly criticize President Obama, but he suggested Obama's handling of Syria marked a "temporary failure in leadership" after the president indicated he was ready to strike Syria but then unexpectedly put off any action until Congress agreed to authorize military intervention.
McKeon said that when vital American interests are clearly at stake, "We will act decisively."
Putin's op-ed questioned the notion of American exceptionalism and suggested United States intervention in Syria would lead only lead to the deaths of more innocent civilians. Putin also insisted that Syrian rebels and not the government of President Bashar al-Assad launched the Aug. 21 chemical attack that left more than 1,400 people, including hundreds of children, dead. The Obama administration says it has proof Assad's regime is responsible.
Putin accused the United States of habitually using military force to intervene in other countries' internal conflicts.
"I acknowledge that U.S. humanitarian interventions are controversial and often unpopular," McKeon responded. "We have seen successes and failures. With that said, I welcome any humanitarian comparisons between the Western intervention in Libya and Putin's intervention in Chechnya."
McKeon won't be the only lawmaker who responds to Putin's op-ed, which was widely criticized by lawmakers and the Obama administration.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he plans to write a rebuttal to Putin to be printed in the Communist Party newspaper, Pravda.
"It's being written," McCain said Tuesday.