X
Beltway Buzz

Putin: Peacemaker and Philosopher?

Whatever deal works its way through the high-stakes talks in Geneva over Syria's chemical weapons, it will be met with plenty of skepticism. And for good reason.

Consider the deal broker. Russia?

Russia and Syria have a longtime friendly relationship and strong economic ties. Critics quickly called Russia's face-saving move nothing more than a stalling tactic. (Syria is already delaying. Instead of offering to immediately hand over weapons, the Assad regime says its willing to give up information about Syria's stockpile in the next 30 days.)

Adding insult to injury, Russian President Vladimir Putin lambasted the United States in a New York Times editorial, saying it's now "commonplace" for America to intervene in the internal conflicts of other countries.

He questions America's example of democracy and instead insists that others around the world see the U.S. as "relying solely on brute force."

But the most pointed part of the op-ed is when Putin -- or "Pootie Poot," as George W. Bush liked to refer to him -- challenged the notion of American exceptionalism. He was responding to a line in President Obama's televised address to the nation.

Putin flatly rejected the idea, saying "the United States' policy is 'what makes America different.'"

"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 ... We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal," he wrote.

True, we all may be equal in God's eyes. And, the value of each human life is precious. But Putin's broad brush of equality fails to understand that people, their ability, ideas, creative works, and even their countries can be exceptional.

For example, and reducing this to the most basic analogy, Jennifer Wishon might want a record deal, but unless she sings exceptionally well - like Celine Dion or Mariah Carey - that probably won't happen. Likewise, John Jessup might like to run fast, but he knows he's no Usain Bolt.

America and Americans aren't perfect, but we're motivated to do better and to keep trying. Many still believe the sky's the limit. And that's part of what makes us exceptional.

If Putin is indeed to be trusted as an honest broker in his new role as a peacemaker, let's pray his path to peace goes better than his ability to play philosopher.