Russian President Vladimir Putin is "running circles" around President Barack Obama, and if the Syrian crisis was a "game," the Russian leader would be winning it, says Sen. Rand Paul.
"If this were a tennis match, it would be the umpire shouting, 'Advantage Putin!' He seems to be running circles around this administration,"” The Kentucky Republican told Glenn Beck on his radio show The Blaze Wednesday night, Politico reports
Paul made his remarks before an op-ed piece written by Putin appeared in The New York Times
. In his opinion, Putin said, the United States is "not exceptional," a comment that would almost certainly draw criticism from Paul, who has often argued that the U.S. is exceptional because it stands for strong democratic principles.
Putin was writing to make the case for a diplomatic response to allegations that Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons on his own people, including children.
The Obama administration has agreed to give Putin time to work out a diplomatic resolution but is still holding out the possibility of military action against Assad if Putin's proposal aimed at putting Assad chemical arsenal under international control falls through.
Paul told Beck the president's attempts at a "face-saving enterprise" on Syria aren't working, but disagreed with Beck's contention that events this week showed the United States is no longer the world's superpower, a point Putin stressed as well in his Times piece.
"I would see that Russia is grasping, they’re grasping to try to look like a superpower that they once were, and I don’t think they are," Paul said, adding that the U.S. is still a superpower even though it may not look like one now.
Paul also said he does not think what he believes to be Obama confused approach to Syria and other foreign policy issues is harming America's credibility abroad.
“I don’t take [the president’s] insecurities and inabilities to make decisions, I don’t see that as something that damns all of America,” he said.
Paul also kept up his opposition to Obama's call for military strikes in Syria, suggesting that would help Syrian rebels who may be working with extremists like al-Qaida.
“We’re hearing it directly from soldiers, we’re hearing it from their parents . . . They aren’t willing to fight for al-Qaida,” Paul said, referring to comments from Americans and even some members of the military worried about the U.S. being drawn into the civil war in Syria.
In another interview Wednesday, Paul told National Public Radio
that he believes there is "evil on both sides" of the Syrian conflict, but he also believes the U.S. should work with Russia and the United Nations on reaching a solution.
"I've thought for some time that the answer to a lot of problems in the Middle East, including Iran, include an active role with Russia," Paul said.
"In a reality, what we should be doing is having quiet diplomacy with the Russians to convince them that it's in their self-interest to have a more stable Middle East because trade enriches us all. And the more we can have peaceful trade, both with Russia, with China, and with others — you know, there's a self-interest in this for everyone. And I think we can't be naive in dealing with the Russians or dealing with the Syrians."
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