As the Obama administration weighs its options for intervention in Syria following a declaration of chemical disarmament by President Bashar al-Assad, Russian president Vladimir Putin took to the New York Times to broadcast his own opinions on the conflict.
The piece, titled “A Plea for Caution from Russia,” discusses the slow cultivation of the Russian-American relationship–even going as far as commending the United States– before launching into what some say is an insult to the idea of American exceptionalism.
While the focus of the piece is on President Obama’s indecision towards Syria, it is the final paragraph that has left many Americans aghast:
“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,'” Putin penned. “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy.”
The editorial, published Thursday morning, has already been met with anger from much of the American public, many claiming Putin, whose record on human rights in Russia is all-but clean, a hypocrite.
The White House has responded, stating the editorial is “irrelevant.” Statements from other politicians, however, have been much less reserved.
Senator Robert Menendez said the piece almost made him want to throw up, whereas House Speaker John Boehner said the piece was downright insulting.
Regardless of Putin’s intent, the op-ed has obviously stirred up emotions in the United States, and will be the focus of many Syrian-related discussions over the coming days.