Yesterday I had the bizarre experience of reading an article in the New York Times purportedly written by Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia. Bizarre, because now that he is a Russian journalist his life may be in very grave danger. Seventy-seven Russian journalists have been murdered since 1992 -- 41 during Yeltsin's eight years in power and 36 during Putin's 12 years. Hopefully Mr. Putin, understanding the danger of being a Russian journalist has taken adequate precautions.
I suspect that the article I read was a cleverly disguised satirical piece -- Mr. Putin was not trying to be serious, he was trying to prove that in addition to a master statesman, bear hunter and judo expert, is also master of the ever elusive art of ironic humor.
For example, he admonishes the United States for claiming to be "exceptional" and writes "God created us equal." An interesting and laudable notion, but clearly Mr. Putin does not himself believe this applies to those of us created gay -- or perhaps he believes there exists an exemption solely for those created gay and unlucky enough to be born in the geographic region currently called Russia.
A great deal of the article takes on an international flair (a hint at it's true audience) with some of it appealing to, bizarrely, "international law." Mr. Putin writes:
"The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. 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 the same Mr. Putin whose armies invaded independent Georgiain 2008. The author continues:
"No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. "
Failing to mention of course, that Russia has assisted in the emaciation of the United Nations by using what was designed to be an emergency veto option multiple times -- more specifically, every time a resolution on Syria is introduced.
Mr. Putin also claims in the piece that rebels were responsible for the chemical weapon attacks. One would hope that accompanying such a claim would be some evidence, but the reader is to accept this on the word of the author alone. Curious however, is that despite the tone of affection for the United Nations woven throughout the piece, it ignores a report from the United Nations that concluded Assad and his government were responsible for the chemical weapon attacks.
And one must also wonder why Mr. Putin would insist, as a measure to prevent future chemical weapon attacks and assuage the concerns of the United States, that the Syrian government surrender its chemical weapon stockpiles.
If the author genuinely believed that the chemical weapons were used by rebels and not the Syrian government, an offer for the Syrian government to give up its chemical weapons would be meaningless to the United States and the International Community.
I repeat: if chemical weapons were used by the rebels, the current measure being proposed by Russia (the Assad regime giving up its stockpiles) would be meaningless to the international community -- unless of course the whole world is part of a conspiracy to topple the Assad regime and desperately wants to maintain this ruse. If you believe that, you are likely reading this article by candlelight in a basement with tin foil wrapped around your head, looking forward to a good night's sleep so you can wake up and sell blue pens from a paper cup somewhere.
The author, who we are told is Putin himself, surreptitiously also believes what most the rest of the world suspects to be true: that the origin of the chemical weapon attacks is more likely a source in government than a source in the rebel leadership.
The intended audience of whomever wrote this article is clearly not the American people -- it is us -- the international community. Someone wants us to be their naïve cheerleaders, and they may very well succeed; the scars from George W. Bush and his lies about weapons of mass destruction have left deep furrows in the minds of all people who were breathing oxygen while they were so convincingly made.
Nowhere are those scars more present than on the face of a skeptical American public, particularly whenever their President uses the now tainted words "weapons of mass destruction."
Ah well, at least Russia is the kind of free, open society that will allow President Obama to respond in their biggest newspaper. Oh, wait...