Veteran political commentator and author Pat Buchanan said Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his New York Times opinion piece, made a stronger case against the United States striking Syria than President Barack Obama did in his speech to the nation.
"[It was] much more compelling [and] conclusive, the arguments against it ... the terrorists among the rebels, what they could do if they got control of various weapons," Buchanan told former Michigan Congressman Pete Hoeskstra, guest host of "The Steve Malzberg Show," Friday on Newsmax TV.
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"He's saying in effect to the American people, you look what happened in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and these other places — do you really want to get into another war? And most Americans would say ... no.
"The U.S. military ... the American people ... the Congress don't want the war, so that, coupled with the fact that as Barack Obama called him, the bored kid slouching in the back of class, [Putin] is now the prized student."
Buchanan, a senior adviser to Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan, compared Putin to a man who has "gone up the steps on ... the 15-foot dive and brought the kid down who was about to jump. That's Barack Obama, and he is moved effectively to basically keep the United States out of a war which would be a complete disaster."
"Behind [Wednesday's] editorial, Putin is cagily watching out for Russia's military interests," Buchanan said.
"He doesn't want to have to respond to an American air strike by moving in surface-to-air missiles or moving weaponry into Syria, enlarging and widening the war, increasing the likelihood of a war that drags in Iran and, basically, totals the global economy," he said.
"So what he's done also [is] he's allowed Barack Obama to say, 'It's my tarred line that has brought everyone around here,' and he's letting Barack Obama get away with that. And so he's handled it very well."
Meanwhile, according to Buchanan, Secretary of State John Kerry has been left in the lurch.
"Kerry's got a hellish problem on his hands for this reason: The Russians will slow-walk this thing at the U.N., and as their Syrian partners, playing the bad cop, will say, 'OK, we're going over the list of all our weaponry but in return, you've got to stop supporting the opposition.
"'If we're going to give up these weapons, you've got to stop sending weapons to the opposition; you've got to give up these threats that you've got us under because we don't want to negotiate under threat – you wouldn't, and we don't want to do that' — and the Russians will run their separate operation slowly."
Buchanan said the nation is in trouble over the Syria crisis because Obama "popped off like some high-school kid saying [Syrian President Bashar] Assad must go and don't cross my red line.
"The implication is, the greatest country on earth is going to war if you do this. He had no authority to do that and you cannot have him threatening Iran, threatening Syria, threatening anyone when the Congress of the United States, which alone has the power to take us to war absent an attack upon us, hasn't authorized him.
"He makes these threats that the Congress has not given him the power to carry out. So that's why the Congress has got to say, 'Look, absent an attack on this country or an imminent threat, the president of the United States has no right to take us into a war of choice,'" Buchanan said.
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