People attend a rally against Russia in Kiev's Independence square on March 2, 2014.
Photo by Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty

Putting ‘a plea for caution’ in a new context

Updated
About six months ago, the Obama administration was very close to launching missile strikes in Syria, following the Assad government’s apparent use of chemical weapons. Russian President Vladimir Putin, an Assad ally and benefactor, took the unusual step of writing an op-ed in the New York Times.
 
The headline read, “A Plea for Caution From Russia,” and a half-year later, it’s interesting to read it again with a fresh perspective, given recent events in Ukraine.
[W]e were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization – the United Nations – was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.
Sure, Vladimir, tell us again how important it is to celebrate the United Nations as the bedrock for global stability seems a little ironic.
The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus…. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.
Ahem.
No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.
Yep.
From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law.
It appears Putin’s interest in peaceful dialogue and international law isn’t quite what it was in September.
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.
Does Putin still realize he put these words together on paper?
Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force.
Says the authoritarian leader who’s relying on brute force.
We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement.
When U.S. conservatives began offering louder praise for Putin last year, RedState published a piece arguing, “We’ve reached a sad state of affairs when the Russian president has more credibility that [sic] the American president but that is where we are.”
 
In light of recent events, I’m wondering who, if anyone, still perceives Putin as the credible one on the international stage.
 

Foreign Policy, Russia and Vladimir Putin

Putting 'a plea for caution' in a new context

Updated