The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

September 15, 2013

An open letter response to Putin

WHY IT MATTERS: About that exceptionalism psyche we have? Yeah, it's still ours.

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?

Is this the same reasoning when Syrian president Bashar Assad denied even having chemical weapons and then his foreign minister says, well yes we do? Oh, 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.”

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