On September 11, Vladimir Putin exercised a freedom protected by the United States that is not widely available in his country, freedom of the press. In what spread across the internet like wild fire, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s op-ed piece, published by the New York Times, criticized President Obama’s decision to put the option of a military strike against Syria on the table, as well as the motivations behind it.
Specifically, Putin questioned the bypassing of the international community for a national goal that would be considered an act of aggression under the United Nations Charter. Putting the irony of Putin’s criticism aside, this sends a clear message about the type of leader that the United States needs to both deal with a controversial international issue as well as resistant and strong minded world leaders that seem function more as a monkey wrench than a useful national representative.
A recent article by columnist Peggy Noonan presents an interesting analysis of Putin’s strategy, and what it means for American politics. Contrary to the fact that Russia has been a protector for Syrian President Assad, Peggy Noonan writes that, “Putin has no reason to want a Syrian conflagration. He is perhaps amused to have a stray comment by John Kerry be the basis for a resolution of the crisis.”
However, the more intriguing claim made by Noonan was that Vladimir Putin is in search of a Nixon like President; one that can truly negotiate with him as well as candidly talk about the needs of both nations.
President Nixon’s famed foreign policy was based, in part, on his ability to negotiate with nations and rulers deemed out of reach or difficult. This included his candid conversations with Chinese premier Mao Zedong in 1972, as well as the negotiations with the Soviet Union for the signing of SALT in 1971.
“A serious foreign-policy intellectual said recently that Putin’s problem is that he’s a Russian leader in search of a Nixon, a U.S. president he can really negotiate with, a stone player who can talk grand strategy and the needs of his nation, someone with whom he can thrash it through and work it out. Instead he has Obama, a self-besotted charismatic who can’t tell the difference between showbiz and strategy, and who enjoys unburdening himself of moral insights to his peers.”