What, after all, did Putin actually argue in that column? Piereson cites three things:
- It is contrary to international law for a member of the United Nations to attack another country without UN approval. But isn’t that just what leftists always say whenever there’s a conservative in charge? Go back and watch some re-runs from the second Bush administration. Of course, Bush actually did get UN approval for attacking Iraq, but that’s as irrelevant as the fact that he assembled a large coalition of partners to conduct the attack. What matters is the UN-friendly rhetoric that is perpetually oozing out of leftist purlieus.
- Major powers (especially major powers called the United States) should not intervene in the internal conflicts of other countries.
- The United States is not an “exceptional” nation. This perfidious belief, as Piereson puts it, “promotes a sense that the United States is not bound by conventional rule of international conduct. Since Americans believe they are exceptional . . . they believe they can make their own rules.” That’s what Putin said. But isn’t that exactly what every left-wing government bureaucrat from Samantha Power on down has always maintained? Isn’t it exactly the sort of thing you expect to hear from every tenured radical in the academy, from every over-coiffed newscaster with a multi-million-dollar contract to worry about?
Barack Obama, as Piereson observes, has at one time or another expressed support for all three of Putin’s main points:
During the 2008 presidential campaign, he said that the intervention in Iraq was illegal because it was not authorized by the United Nations. In 2009, when asked about American exceptionalism, President Obama said, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” In other words, we are all exceptional alike, just as Mr. Putin said.
Ouch. Will this large and gooey omelet splattered over the countenance of left-wing self-satisfaction make any long-term difference? Probably not. The linguistic curiosity that “shameful” and “shameless” are synonyms will doubtless once again come into play. It would, as Piereson says, be a good thing if leftists shelved for good “their doctrines about diversity, multiculturalism, and American imperialism.” But don’t count on it. The next time — and God willing, it will be soon — that a Republican occupies the White House you can be sure that leftists will once again “dust off Mr. Putin’s principles and put them into play once more.” Just wait.