I read the NYTimes opinion piece. It’s worth reading if only to see what kinds of arguments Russia thinks the U.S. will respond to. It’s not quiet as smooth as I’d expect from an ex-KGB guy. He a little too blatantly tries to both claim that someone else in Syria has control of the chemical weapons and that Syria can put its chemical weapons under U.N. control–”No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists.” vs. “The United States, Russia and all members of the international community must take advantage of the Syrian government’s willingness to place its chemical arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction.”
If the Syrian government isn’t the one using chemical weapons, why would destroying the government’s cache of chemical weapons solve anything?
Then there’s a lot of stuff about the dangers of brute force in foreign countries which must be hilarious in a painful way to the people of Georgia and Ukraine and… well, you know, anywhere Russia is regularly throwing its weight around.
But it’s odd, because Americans like Putin because he comes across as a decisive bad-ass. But here he is, counting on being able to appeal to some sense in Americans that decisive bad-assry is not always called for. He reinforces this by trying to call on us to see ourselves as a little less “exceptional.”
The only way this is possibly flying with conservatives is just because they dislike Obama.
But lastly, I think his appeal to us as fellow religious, specifically Christian, believers–”We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.” Note that he mentioned the Pope specifically, but he didn’t mention Kirill. I’m assuming Putin is saying shit Kirill would agree with here, but to me it was just an interesting reminder that this is not quite an honest argument on his part. I mean, in Putin’s world, Kirill has much more authority and his opinions carry much more weight than Francis.
But when he’s pretending to be just like “us,” he invokes Francis’s authority to make his point.
Anyway, he didn’t sway me one way or another. To me, either option is a clusterfuck of problems–bombing or not. But I’m fascinated that he thought this was the piece that might sway us.