Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — Dear Vladimir (you don’t mind being called Vladimir, do you? Since you used the New York Times op-ed piece to get closer to us Americans, we figured you wanted to be less formal),
Now that we’re pen pals (at least with help from your PR firm, Ketchum), let’s talk a little more about those things that seem to concern you - Syria, international law and the American psyche.
Your professorial observation that Syria is not a battle for democracy but an “internal conflict, fueled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition ...” is interesting. But one has to wonder where Damascus is getting its Russian-made S-3000 missiles, MiG-29M/M2 and MiG21 jets and those Russian Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopter gunships as well as Russian-made Mi24/25 attack helicopters that can drop 250-kg bombs.
And while we can agree that chemical weapons were used in Syria, frankly we’re a little confused by your insistence that “there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces…” Hmm. Not Syria?
Syrian president Bashar Assad initially denied even having chemical weapons, and then his foreign minister says, ‘Well, yes we do, and by the way, we want them under international supervision. And we’ll sign the pact barring use of such weapons, something we’ve resisted for years.’
Vladimir? Come on. Give us a little credit here. We’ve seen the Wizard of Oz, too, and won’t fall for that “man behind the curtain” ruse.
But frankly the one area you may want to revisit is your chiding us for our feeling of being exceptional. You say it is “extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. … We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”
Does this view mean we’re all created equal, including gays and lesbians? Does this mean you are standing down your enforcement of anti-gay propaganda laws? Or you will release the members of Pussy Riot from the penal colonies where they have been imprisoned for “hooliganism” after performing a punk prayer? Or maybe you’ll release Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who blew the whistle on Kremlin insiders who profited by defrauding the Russian government of $200 million taxes, only to end up in prison?
Yeah, we’re still feeling pretty exceptional, because while we have our faults, we have the freedom to complain about them without fear of imprisonment or worse. And people are still knocking on our door to enjoy our freedoms. How about you?
But getting back to your op-ed piece, we’re glad you are open to engaging in constructive dialogue. We hope you will extend that courtesy to our foreign diplomats who are looking to end the bloodshed and gassing of Syrians.
All in all, you seem to be pretty confident in your ownership of what will work in the Syrian conflict. We don’t see an easy out, but frankly, if you want to take over this Syrian mess, it’s all yours. We know a bad situation when we see one. We bungled it thus far. If you have the answer, go for it.
Just don’t expect an invitation to our Fourth of July barbecue.
Your exceptional Americans
— The Mankato Free Press, Mankato, Minn.
See more at: http://www.cnhinews.com/cnhins_opinion/x703116644/EDITORIALS-strikes-averted-for-now-Open-letter-to-Vladimir-Putin#sthash.0tmfKzBQ.dpuf