|Putin Says Strike on Syria Would Unleash 'Wave of Terrorism'|
|By ANTHONY CASTELLANO (@AntCastellano)||Sep 12, 2013, 2:12 AM|
In the op-ed posted Wednesday on the Times' website titled "A Plea for Caution From Russia," Putin said there's no doubt poison gas was used in Syria, but it could have been used by opposition forces to provoke intervention from other countries.
Putin slammed the United States for getting involved in the Syrian civil war, which he described as an internal conflict.
"It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America's long-term interest? I doubt it," he wrote.
"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 said force has proved "ineffective and pointless," and then proceeded to list countries where the United States has used military force to intervene in conflicts.
"Afghanistan is reeling, and no one can say what will happen after international forces withdraw. Libya is divided into tribes and clans. In Iraq the civil war continues, with dozens killed each day," Putin wrote.
"In the United States, many draw an analogy between Iraq and Syria, and ask why their government would want to repeat recent mistakes."
The Russian president warned that military intervention in the war-torn country could spread far beyond Syria's borders and "unleash a new wave of terrorism."
"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," Putin added.
Putin's op-ed came as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is headed to Geneva, Switzerland, to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Kerry is accompanied by U.S. weapons experts to look at and possibly expand on Russia's proposal to force Syria to turn over its weapons amid a brutal and unpredictable conflict. Russian technical experts will join Lavrov in the meetings.
Putin does his best to combat the perception of an obstructionist Russia's backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime.
"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," he wrote.
Putin's op-ed is almost a point-by-point rebuttal to President Obama's address to the nation Tuesday night, when he announced he was putting off a military strike on Syria in hopes of a diplomatic solution.
Putin concluded his op-ed writing that his relationship with Obama is "marked by growing trust." But the Russian president took a swipe at Obama's comment about U.S. exceptionalism.
"I believe we should act. That's what makes America different," Obama said in his address. "That's what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth."
Putin said, "It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation."