Putin cautions against military force in Syria

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Russia President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday cautioned the United States to find a diplomatic solution to Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons, warning anything else would be considered an act of “aggression.”

In a direct plea to the American people in the pages of The New York Times, Putin welcomed a new deal that emerged this week to get Syria to give up its chemical weapons and said its success could lead to increased cooperation.

But he also cautioned that the threat of force by the United States without U.N. Security Council support could throw international relations out of balance and would unleash a “new wave of terrorism” outside of Syria’s borders.

“It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance,” Putin wrote. 

Putin said his relationship with president Obama is marked by a growing trust. But he disputed Obama’s use of the term “American exceptionalism” — a tenant of U.S. democracy — in his national address on Tuesday. 

“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,” he said. 

Putin called the United States’ use of force in the region “alarming” and questioned whether it has been in the United States’ best interest. 

Military force in places like Iraq and Afghanistan has proved “pointless,” according to Putin, and has hurt its credibility. 

“Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan “you’re either with us or against us,’” Putin wrote. 

Putin continued to dispute Syrian President Bashar Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons and blamed it on the Syrian rebels — a charge Assad has also made. 

He alleged that rebels were also preparing to bomb Israel. 

“There are few champions of democracy in Syria,” he said. “But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government.”

Putin acknowledged relations between the two countries have been rocky but harkened back to World War II when, as allies, the U.S. and Russia “defeated Nazis together.”

“We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement,” he said.