Vladimir Putin is that ex who you just made up with, and then immediately makes you wonder why you answered the door.
On September 11th, our once and possibly future ex wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times, directly giving America his stance on our position on Syria. That is pretty rare for any political leader, so you do have to give him points for testicular fortitude. Especially on a tender day like Sept. 11th. Especially when he still owes us a Superbowl ring. Especially when he still owes us a Superbowl ring ON September 11th, and he ends his otherwise pretty well-reasoned op-ed with this comment on Barack Obama’s “American exceptionalism:”
“It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.”
You just said the wrong thing.
Might as well stop unpacking your sock drawer, Putin. We’ve got some things to talk about first.
If there’s one thing that will unite both sides of the aisle on any issue, it’s questioning our right to consider ourselves exceptional in the world:
Democratic Senator Bob Menendez: “I was at dinner, and I almost wanted to vomit.”
Koch-friend John Boehner: “I was insulted. I’ve probably already said more than I should have said, but you’ve got the truth.”
John McCain called Putin’s entire article an “insult to the intelligence of the American people.”
All right. But, John…let’s take a look at who we just sent to Egypt before we start talking about insults to national intelligence. But, that’s beside the point for the moment. For now, here’s OUR open-letter, op-ed reply to Vladimir Putin’s opinion.
First, just to get something out of the way…listen, you, and every other Russian. We didn’t want to go there, but since YOU brought it up:
Russia is a country that is so awful that literally the only reason it exists is that nobody else wants to live there. When other countries around Russia were drawing their Northern and Eastern borders, they pretty much stopped at the place that sucked the most, that nobody ever wanted to go for any reason, and the huge gap in between later became Russia. Russia is a place so Godforsaken that Ghengis Khan didn’t want to be there. GHENGIS f***ing KHAN. Quick question: Are there any notable Russians in America? They came here because they wanted to, right? Remind us of the last notable American who went to Russia, and why he went there. Because…he couldn’t be HERE without going to prison for life. Proving that no American would ever want to live in Moscow unless the only other option were life in prison.
Baby, get real…the only people psychotic enough to REALLY want to invade Russia only tried because they wanted to rule the whole world, and Russia is unfortunately a place in the world. And the only thing that stopped them was that the sheer God-awfulness of your country made them realize it wasn’t worth the trouble. Don’t pretend like you don’t know it, either; about three-quarters of Russia is covered by Siberia, which is so inherently Hellish that you’ve sent plenty of your own people there to die the most miserable deaths imaginable. And the threat of sending them there is the ONLY reason you managed to briefly hold together the rusted, self-exploding, paper tiger of an “empire” that you called the “Soviet Union.” Yeah, we BET you “former” Soviets don’t want anyone else thinking of themselves as anything but “equal,” because you sure as Hell wouldn’t come out on top of any comparison to any country, anywhere. ESPECIALLY the United States.
OK, sorry. For real. Done now. For real.
No, NO, NO. You put that damned puppy down, NOW, Putin. You’re not going to “cute” your way out of this conversation. We’re just getting to the point.
At the core of this issue is the belief that every American holds dear: That we ARE an exceptional nation. We have a right, even a DUTY, to consider ourselves an exception to some of the world’s traditional rules and values. Not to be a flag-waving jingoist, but there isn’t a nation on Earth that has had the history, the power, the influence or the responsibility of the United States. And, as New York resident Uncle Ben once said: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
But, why is this such an insult to Americans? Why do we consider ourselves an exception to the world’s standards? Quick quiz:
- Ask most people in anywhere in the world to name three streets in any foreign city that isn’t New York.
- Name one other country so desirable as a place to live that politicians can get elected solely on their stance about keeping people OUT.
- Name another country whose immigration policies can be based almost entirely on the color of a person’s skin. In America, we have so many people who want to move here that politicians can arbitrarily pick a skin color, and say “Yeah…YOU guys stay over there.” It’s not right, but it’s true.
- Name three Chinese fast food chains.
- Count up the number of countries that have English as a primary or secondary language, and subtract from that the number non-former-Soviet-bloc nations who use Russian as a primary or secondary language.
- Name another country (aside from England) with a street full of banks that could crash the economies of almost every other nation on Earth.
- Name another country that could kill literally every other person on Earth without incurring a single casualty within its own borders. ICBMs blowing up on launch count.
- Name three foreign television shows with subtitles at the bottom, shown on basic network television.
- Ask anyone anywhere in the world to name the equivalent of the Secretary of State of any other country but America.
- Name another nuclear power that has, for its entire history, been either a Republic or a Democracy.
What percentage of Russia’s gross national product comes from the black-market pawning off of poorly built military relics from its Soviet glory days? (Hint: About 15 to 20 percent)
Sorry. We know that one hurt, but it had to be said.
We could go on, and on, and on. The point is that we Americans are right to feel as though certain things that might apply to you (or the rest of the world) just don’t apply to us. Now, you’re partially right; exceptionalism in the absence of a sense of responsibility, empathy or humanity IS dangerous. Not that the former Soviet Union would know anything about that. But, sorry, Vlady…for better or worse, like it or not, America isn’t held to the standards of the rest of the world.
We’re held to a higher one.
Sometimes we meet those standards, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we’re right, sometimes we’re wrong, and sometimes we put a bunch of evil douchebags in the wrong office. Nobody’s perfect — but we do try. We TRY to live up to the standards that the world holds us to, and to which we hold ourselves. We have to — we’re held to those standards because it is our duty to never forget the consequences of our decisions, and the power of our influence.
So, that’s what it is, Vlady. That’s the understanding we’re going to have, and those are the terms of this relationship, if there’s going to be one. You’re free to have your opinion; but unless you want a repeat of what just happened, you’d do well to keep it to yourself. And if you can’t do that, we’ll call you a cab. Assuming we can find one that will go to your frozen Hellhole of a country this time of night.
You may unpack your sock drawer now, if you wish.
The United States of Go F**k Yourself