Obama and Kerry get schooled by Putin in the New York Times

Obama and Kerry get schooled by Putin in the New York Times

This has been quite the month for me. I wrote in my post last week that I agreed with Charlie Rangel on the issue of Syria (God help me), today I find myself living up the the old saying “politics makes for strange bedfellows” once again by finding that I agree with most of Vladimir Putin’s op-ed in the New York Times published Thursday.  Yes, it is an astounding thing to me as well, but with the current amateur hour that is Obama and Kerry this is where I am today.

For the whole of this Presidency I have been saying to well, anyone who will listen really, that it is amateur hour in Washington D.C. I began voicing my opinion on this topic when our heel of a President gave the Queen of England an iPod loaded with-what else? His speeches. I was aghast, and horrified. Even I, as the daughter of a Foreign Area Officer (FAO) for the United States Army could tell you that was an astounding breach of protocol in the realm of gift giving among dignitaries. Alas, this is what happens when a nation elects someone with no previous experience on the world stage, only a sad couple of years as a Senator voting “Present” on most issues and relying on his “star power” while keeping an eye on the real prize-the Presidency.

President Obama and John “Ketchup” Kerry

Not that John “Ketchup” Kerry is much more accomplished on the world stage. Though he has spent much of his life in the upper echelon of American politics, he was elected to the Senate in 1984 then re-elected in 1990, 1996, 2002 and 2008, he still has not made much of an impression in the foreign policy arena-even after chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The real kicker though has been the two of these amateurs making proclamations, and then back-peddling away from them when other world leaders have scoffed at their attempts to control a situation well beyond their control-Syria. Yesterday, Vladimir Putin put pen to paper (via a ghost writer I am sure) and dealt an incredible sucker punch to the Keystone Cops of Foreign Policy-Obama and Kerry-and the worst part is that he made many cogent points. Ugh, it makes my stomach twist to read that last sentence, dear reader. After all this is a man who is well known for riding his horses shirtless in front of the Russian media.

While that may be, we cannot forget who Putin is. He is a well trained former KGB assassin and the former head of Boris Yeltsin’s Security Council. He has been on the world stage since the late 1990’s when he was promoted by Yeltsin to the post of Prime Minister of Russia. While Obama was hitting the books at Harvard, Putin was learning how to play foreign policy chess with the big boys.

Putin in one of his shirtless moments

All of this is evident in his op-ed on Syria. While he did take a couple of cheap shots at Obama, and at the U.S. in general telling us not to think we are exceptional (we aren’t) and that we are viewed the world over as a “brute force” (thanks Barack) he also displays a stunning knowledge of both international law:

“Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.”

This is true, as explained by Max Fisher in his article “Vladimir Putin’s New York Times op-ed annotated and fact checked” in the Washington Post. If Obama were to strike Syria he would in fact be in violation of international law which states that strikes are permitted only when a nation is directly threatened or the United Nations (UN) Security Council has approved such action.

He also displays a deep understanding of the two year old Syrian civil war:

Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country. There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government. The United States State Department has designated Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, fighting with the opposition, as terrorist organizations. This internal conflict, fueled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition, is one of the bloodiest in the world.”

As a student of the Middle Eastern political scene for some years now, I can tell you that the above statement is an accurate representation of the current situation. Had Obama gone into Syria at the outset of the civil war supporting the Free Syrian Army (which was, at the time, a largely secular organization) things might have looked very different in Damascus today. Unfortunately our President was too concerned with “fundamentally transforming” our own nation-into what I still could not tell you, other than a mess.

No matter what you think of Putin, of his character (a moral void) and his shirtless antics (frankly creepy) he has shown himself to be an adroit and eloquent master of foreign policy statements in this op-ed; even if he has taken some departures from the absolute truth of Russia’s position in the current situation (being the major pusher of munitions in the “neighborhood”). As for our Keystone Foreign Policy cops-Kerry and Obama-Putin has shown us something even scarier about them-he, and the rest of the world, are not at all afraid of them or their “red (blurry) lines”.

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