- (Photo: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov)
Russian President Vladimir Putin's Thursday op-ed for The New York Times arguing against American intervention in Syria contained many false, misleading and hypocritical statements. Here are seven of them.
1. "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."
Hypocrisy. Putin led attacks against Georgia and Chechnya without U.N. approval.
2. "A strike ... 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."
Hypocrisy. Russia has been supplying Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with weapons and has been helping Iran with its nuclear program. Putin seems less concerned that these actions would destabilize the region and "throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance."
3. "This internal conflict, fueled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition, is one of the bloodiest in the world."
Hypocrisy. Again, he complains about foreign weapons going to the opposition while he supplies Assad with weapons.
4. "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."
Misleading. In public statements Putin has indeed advocated peaceful dialogue. In his actions, though, Putin is doing everything he can to help Assad win. He blocks any action by the U.N. Security Council and continues to supply the regime with arms.
5. "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."
Hypocrisy. Putin, indeed, does not follow international law when he does not like it, and has used his veto in the Security Council to prevent it from doing anything about Assad's violations of international law after Assad killed his own innocent civilians.
6. "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, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists."
False. Every organization that has investigated this has concluded that it was the Syrian army that used chemical weapons. Plus, Putin himself ackowledges that Syria has chemical weapons. In the same op-ed, six paragraphs later, he writes about "the Syrian government's willingness to place its chemical arsenal under international control ... ."
7. "It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation."
Hypocrisy. During his leadership, Putin has tried build a greater sense of national pride among his people. He wants Russians to view themselves as exceptional while criticizing Americans for doing the same.