Putin's remarks about American exceptionalism, Syria raise hackles

Sept. 12, 2013 at 9:56 AM
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MOSCOW, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin's commentary urging caution in Syria prompted a flurry of comments, including a U.S. senator saying he wanted to vomit.

Putin's commentary arguing against military intervention in Syria over chemical weapons use was published by The New York Times Wednesday. Among other things he said it was "alarming" that military intervention in foreign matters "has become commonplace for the United States."

But what really got some people ticked off was Putin's remarks about President Obama's comments on what makes the United States exceptional during his national address Tuesday night, CNN reported Thursday.

"It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation," he wrote, concluding that, "We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal."

"Hey Putin, next time you wanna write a letter to convince America about something, how about you skip saying we're not exceptional? #rude," Sarah Rumpf, a political consultant in Florida, posted on her Twitter page.

Other posters suggested Putin's talk of equality didn't square with his government's treatment of homosexuals, CNN said. Earlier this year, Putin signed a law banning public discussion of gay rights and relationships where children might hear it, punishable by a fine and possible deportation, if applicable.

"In his open letter Putin says 'God created us all equal' -- guess he forgot about the gays & his discriminatory laws," tweeted Kristopher Wells, an assistant professor at the University of Alberta in Canada.

Putin also drew criticism from some posters who recalled Russia's military action in recent years.

"Man who launched military action in Georgia and Chechnya without UN say-so says wars without it are illegal?" journalist John Podhoretz tweeted.

Russia blames Georgia for starting the war between the two countries in 2008 during which Russian troops occupied two breakaway territories under Georgian control. Moscow said it considered two wars with separatists in Chechnya as internal conflicts.

Putin's commentary was a bit much for Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, who told CNN he read the article during dinner Wednesday.

"I almost wanted to vomit," Menendez said. "I worry when someone who came up through the KGB tells us what is in our national interests, and what is not. It really raises the question of how serious the Russian proposal is."

However, Putin had people in his corner.

"Putin made a compelling, though disingenuous, case against military strikes. Its effectiveness shows how badly Pres Obama was outmaneuvered," tweeted Marc Lamont Hill.

The White House called Putin's jabs at Obama "irrelevant," CNN said.

A senior White House official said the key issue now is that Putin is "fully invested in Syria's [chemical weapons] disarmament."

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