I'm sure some people may think that I'm being anti-patriotic, but bear with this post for a bit because it's going to take a lot of energy to make my points....
I think often times the Russians get a bad reputation, but, I tend to understand them in terms of everyone else. Who doesn't want to be the best at what they do? Why would one settle for 2nd place if there's a means of being the best.
I will comment in RED, and add some more commentary on the comments later
from the NYT
RECENT events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people (Well, picking the NYT will work) and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies (This has always existed, there's been a natural tendency towards distrust especially since the cold war and the fall of Soviet Russia).
Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we 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 (well, while WWIII hasn't happened, they haven't been successful at stopping other things now have they?).
The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades (Well, being apart of the UN, they govern the rules of the game).
No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations (speak for yourself here Putin, I wish the UN would disappear), 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 (I'm pretty sure this won't get rid of the UN by itself).
The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope (translation: you're an idiot if you decide to strike Syria), will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders (aka WWIII). A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism (absolutely right, remember, the rebels are a terrorist organization). It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance (once again, actually Putin once again is right, but let's not kid ourselves, Iran isn't going to stop nuclear weapon building, even with the UN).
Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy (yep), but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country (Amen). There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government (Reason # 1 why we should stay out). The United States State Department has designated Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, fighting with the opposition, as terrorist organizations. This internal conflict, fueled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition, is one of the bloodiest in the world (We did supply weapons to the bad guys in Egypt).
Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even Russia, are an issue of our deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria? After all, after fighting in Libya, extremists moved on to Mali. This threatens us all (calling a spade a spade, I like this).
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. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not (Well, Putin, Obama can barely follow US Law, what in the world makes you think he'll follow international law?). 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 (Obama getting schooled in international law by Putin...well, comes as no surprise to me, Putin is very smart).
No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces (Al Quaeda using chemical weapons? no, never...though I'm inclined to say both sides suck and probably used chemical weapons on each other), to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored (Israel is an aly....at least until we threw them under the bus and ran them over).
It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States (Well, there was Afganistan, Iraq, Libya....). Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it (Indeed it's probably not in our best interest to keep wasting resources abroad). 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.” (Our way or the highway, often as it's said, there is a perception around the world that Americans are arrogant)
But force has proved ineffective and pointless (ouch, burn). Afghanistan is reeling, and no one can say what will happen after international forces withdraw (I can, the sides would be back at civil war and trying to destroy each other...Sadaam for better or for worse kept the sides from killing each other). Libya is divided into tribes and clans. In Iraq the civil war continues, with dozens killed each day (The liberal media of course do not tell you such news). In the United States, many draw an analogy between Iraq and Syria, and ask why their government would want to repeat recent mistakes (The only difference is that in Iraq, there was international support for the mission).
No matter how targeted the strikes or how sophisticated the weapons, civilian casualties are inevitable, including the elderly and children, whom the strikes are meant to protect (Never a truer statement about war than this one).
The world reacts by asking: if you cannot count on international law, then you must find other ways to ensure your security (Never thought of this perspective as to why people would want chemical weapons). Thus a growing number of countries seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction. This is logical: if you have the bomb, no one will touch you. We are left with talk of the need to strengthen nonproliferation, when in reality this is being eroded.
We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement.
A new opportunity to avoid military action has emerged in the past few days. The United States, Russia and all members of the international community must take advantage of the Syrian government’s willingness to place its chemical arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction (Pope Francis + Vladimir Putin?, who'd a thought?). Judging by the statements of President Obama, the United States sees this as an alternative to military action.
I welcome the president’s interest in continuing the dialogue with Russia on Syria. We must work together to keep this hope alive, as we agreed to at the Group of 8 meeting in Lough Erne in Northern Ireland in June, and steer the discussion back toward negotiations.
If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust. It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues. (He's speaking as a head of state here, and I'm tempted to agree on this point)
My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust (This statement is utter BS, we all know Putin thinks Obama is an useful idiot). I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional (in a sense of pride and being better than a person or community, yes, but in a sense of a competitive nature, one ought to think that one is the best at what they do), whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy(You can say that again). Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal (Putin invoking our Lord, and paraphrasing the constitution for the win...whatever Putin's faults are, and he has plenty, he's trying, something ours is not doing).