Vladimir Putin has what some might call an oversized ego. He is fond of being photographed doing manly things like riding horses while shirtless, hunting big game, scuba diving or beating up some poor schmuck in judo class.
He has admitted that some of the photographs were staged. So what! It’s the image that counts. Vladimir the badass! Bring it!
He is also a world leader with a very big chip on his shoulder when it comes to the United States in general and the US president in particular. He bristles at the second class mantle that hangs around his once mighty nation; and his animosity toward President Obama is palpable. Pull up any video of the two of them appearing in public and the image is always the same…Obama using his soaring oratory to make a point while a slouching Putin looks away with total disinterest.
So it is not surprising to see Putin use the president’s “difficulties” with Syria to take center stage in the world arena. What better chance to promote himself and his beloved country in the eyes of the world.
Putin has assumed the position of leadership in the Syrian conflict. When Secretary of State Kerry off handedly commented that the United States would hold off on military intervention if Syria gave up its chemical weapons, Putin immediately instructed his Foreign Minister to accept and muscled his Syrian ally to agree.
Suddenly Putin is a world hero being considered for a Nobel Peace Prize. In the blink of an eye he has replaced Obama as the world leader running the show on the Syrian crisis.
Embolden by his rise to stardom the egomaniacal former KGB chief placed an op-ed in the New York Times. In the piece Putin channels Rand Paul. He criticizes the United States foreign policy saying “US military intervention in the internal conflicts of foreign countries has become commonplace” and warns that the president’s use of military strikes in Syria runs the risk of “spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders.”
He ends by taking a personal shot at Obama’s reference to “American exceptionalism.” “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 that are still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessing, we must not forget that God crated us all equal.”
Now there are those in our government who will bristle at Putin’s commandeering the spotlight from the president and the world’s lone superpower. We can already hear Senator McCain screaming “the president is leading from behind.”
But we welcome Putin’s willingness to grab the spotlight. And so should the president.
A resolution to the Syrian conflict now rests with Putin. He owns it. Now he has to deliver.
We have said before that the US cannot win the peace in the Middle East by way of unilateral military strikes. World peace can only come through the world’s involvement.
Putin has handed Obama a gift.
Just say “thank you.”