Thursday, September 12, 2013
A Plea for Caution From Russia
What Putin Has to Say to Americans About
by Vladimir V. Putin
reposted from the New York Times, Opinion Pages
Recent events surrounding
prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political
leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication
between our societies. Syria
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.
The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with
’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. America
No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the
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.
The potential strike by the
United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many
countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will
result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the
conflict far beyond ’s
borders. A strike would increase violence 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 Syria North Africa. It could throw the
entire system of international law and order out of balance.
Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even
are an issue of our deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with
experience acquired in Russia ?
After all, after fighting in Syria Libya,
extremists moved on to .
This threatens us all. Mali
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. 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.
No one doubts that poison gas was used in
. 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. Reports that militants are preparing another attack —
this time against Syria —
cannot be ignored. Israel
It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the
. Is it in United States ’s
long-term interest? I doubt it. 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.” America
But force has proved ineffective and pointless.
is reeling, and no
one can say what will happen after international forces withdraw. Afghanistan is
divided into tribes and clans. In Libya the civil war continues,
with dozens killed each day. In the Iraq United
States, many draw an analogy between Iraq and , and ask why their government
would want to repeat recent mistakes. Syria
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.
The world reacts by asking: if you cannot count on international law, then you must find other ways to ensure your security. 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, 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. Judging by the statements of President Obama, the Russia sees
this as an alternative to military action. United States
I welcome the president’s interest in continuing the dialogue with
Russia on . 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. Syria
If we can avoid force against
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. Syria
My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. 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
policy is “what makes different.
It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people
to see themselves as exceptional, 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. 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. America