Putin’s two cents on Syria

If it’s true, is it still propaganda?

Vladimir Putin’s OpEd in the NYT is a masterpiece. Its checkable facts check out. Its opinions are widely held. Its sentiments are unassailable. The question is, does Putin really believe any of this stuff?

Putin is an autocrat. To draw a parallel between Russia and traditional royalty, he’s a Constitutional Dictator. His only interest is in strengthening himself, personally, and strengthening Russia’s position on the international scene. In pursuit of these goals, he is perfectly capable of cheating, lying, and even, on occasion, telling the truth.

What makes his OpEd such a powerful statement is that it all rings true — with  the exception of the self-serving comments about Russia.  It is arguably true that US intervention is likely to destabilize the region. It is arguably true that an intervention will make WMD available to terrorists. It is absolutely true that the US has been acting as a bully throughout the Middle East, and it is absolutely true that the US follows UN directives only when it suits us (yes, yes, Russia does the same thing. Your point?).  It is a sad day when the actions and intentions of the US can be held up by an autocrat as an example of poor international citizenship.

As one blogger said recently, if you don’t want your opponent to take the moral high ground, then don’t abandon it yourself

UPDATE: WaPo does a good job of dissecting Putin’s claims. The one claim that’s almost certainly wrong is that this was a rebel use.  It was almost certainly Syrian government forces, but there’s still no strong evidence that it was ordered by Assad.

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