Russian President Vladimir Putin took his case against a military strike against Syria directly to the American public Wednesday night, arguing an attack would only spark more terrorism and violence.
Putin's message in a New York Times op-ed piece also warned that President Barack Obama's national address on Tuesday night about America's leadership in the world as part of its "exceptionalism" was simply "dangerous."
"This threatens us all," the ex-KGB strongman wrote in the alternately eloquent and stern commentary in The New York Times.
"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 North Africa.
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"It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance."
The no-strike plea comes in the wake of an extraordinary shift in gears for the Obama administration — which went from advocating a unilateral strike against Syria to asking for congressional authorization for retaliation in a suspected chemical weapons attack and a surprising diplomatic proposal from Russia that Syria turn over its chemical weapons arsenal.
In his commentary, Putin noted both the United States and Russia faced a crucial time "of insufficient communication between our societies."
"We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together," he wrote.
But the Russian leader also needled the Obama administration by suggesting it took the bait dangled by opposition forces to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
"No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria," he wrote. "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 Israel — cannot be ignored."
Then appearing to take the high road, Putin wrote that Russia's interest is not in "protecting the Syrian government," but in protecting "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," he wrote.
"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."
He also chastised America's perceived bully-cop role around the globe.
"It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States," he wrote. "Is it in America’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.'"
Putin argues instead for a "return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement," adding that the United States, Russia, and the rest of the international community "must take advantage of the Syrian government’s willingness to place its chemical arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction."
Though relations between the two world leaders have reportedly been chilly, Putin dismissed any animosity — though he didn't bypass a chance to harshly critique Obama's Tuesday night speech to the nation.
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"My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust," he wrote. But he said Obama's assertion that America is "exceptional" was "dangerous."
"We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal," he wrote.
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