Dear Mr. Putin
I am only one individual American with no special position of government, political or financial power, but I represent a much broader power base that you may not understand or appreciate. While you may be receiving mixed signals from our current leaders, it is critical that you do not underestimate the American people, our commitment to individual liberty and our willingness to back up our convictions with whatever sacrifice is necessary. So, I am glad to have this opportunity to respond to your communication to me and my fellow Americans in your New York Times Op-Ed.
It is both ironic and fortuitous that you have chosen to exercise the most sacred right of all Americans, to communicate to us, the God given right to free speech. While we often take this and other critical rights, protecting individual freedom, for granted, it is the first example of why America is an exceptional country. We are exceptional because will fight just as hard for your right to free speech as we will for our own.
Unlike any other country in the world, America was founded on a set of ideals and laws permanently enshrined in our founding documents; the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and The Bill of Rights. These laws spell out very clearly that “we the people” are in charge of our own destiny and they protect us from tyranny, even tyranny from our own government.
It is in this spirit of the first Amendment, that I welcome your explanation of your position on Syria, the United Nations, the prospect of America taking a military action against the Syrian government and even your lecture to us about the dangers of promoting American exceptionalism. I welcome this discussion, because in a free society a healthy open debate leads to better decisions and greater progress.
You obviously understand and respect the power of free speech, as you adroitly exercised it in your direct communication to the American public. It is a powerful force which is essential to democracy, but which can also be manipulated by the political masters of Machiavellian deception. Perhaps you can demonstrate your good intentions by having the courage and courtesy to extend my response to you, directly to the Russian public.
As you have witnessed, by the reaction of the American people to the prospect of another military intervention in the Middle East, Americans by nature are a peace loving people. But, please don’t make the mistake of interpreting our resistance to a poorly thought out plan, being promoted by our political leaders, as any indication of a lack of willingness to make whatever sacrifices that are necessary to protect against clear and present threats to the security interests of the United States and its allies.
You make a lot of very good points about why America should not make a military strike against Syria. Many of us, like you, do not believe that it makes sense for America to intervene in a foreign civil war where there are no clear objectives and where there is no clear and direct threat to the security interests of the US. It is not our role to be the policeman of the world, or to punish all the bad actors. However, it is our role to defend freedom and democracy whenever and wherever we can, without forcing it on people who are not ready for it, don’t understand it and don’t want it.
While our elected political leaders have not provided you, us or the many countries comprising the Mid-East region with a clear and unambiguous position, let me be very clear about the commitment of the American people. We will defend Israel as if it were Alaska. Any threats to Israel by Iran or any other country will be considered a direct threat to us and will be met with the full force and will of the American people.
There are many ways to advance the cause of freedom and military action should be a last consideration. We must be very careful with when and how we exercise the great power that we have. We prefer the Theodore Roosevelt foreign policy of “talk softly and carry a big stick”. In the meantime, we are committed to the policy of peace through strength, and we fully support building our military strength.
An exceptional responsibility for an exceptional country
As the leader of the free world, America has an exceptional responsibility to protect and to advance the cause of individual freedom throughout the world. We remain the best hope in the world for the survival of individual freedom. We are an exceptional country not just because we are free but because we have demonstrated time after time over history, our willingness to sacrifice our own lives so that others throughout the world can enjoy the same freedoms that have made America a great country.
On U.S. Russia relations and the United Nations
You make a good point about how America and Russia were once allies before we became cold war enemies. We need only to look at the historical relationship between the U.S. and Germany and the U.S. and Japan to recognize the immense potential of a positive relationship developing between Russia and America. It did not take very long for the bitterness of WWII’s arch enemies to give way to the rewards, success and friendship of free and open societies. The Marshall plan is a great example of how we might approach solving some of the great problems facing our world today, like a fair and peaceful solution to the Mid-East conflict. The evidence is overwhelming. Russia and the U.S. could be partners in progress. We have much more to unite us than we have to divide us. We face the same terrorist threats and the same concerns over nuclear proliferation. We have the same desire to advance our citizens with respect to their health, education and economic success. We all want to raise our families in peace and prosperity.
We also appreciate the founding purpose of the United Nations, but we have legitimate reasons to be skeptical of it, not the least of which, is the lack of its effectiveness, its socialistic leanings and the historical lack of cooperation between the U.S and Russia. It comes down to an issue of trust, and freedom, which goes to the heart of the American soul. We are fierce individualists. We believe that the power of government rests with the individual citizens who have a responsibility to exercise control over their government. The government is there to serve us, not to control us. Every time we, as individuals, give up power and personal responsibility to government entities we give up our individual liberties. The further away (local, state, national, and international) the governmental entity is, the worse the outcome and the harder it is to get the power back. Every time we give up our individual liberties we reduce progress for all humans.
We have had our own taste of socialism over the last few years under the leadership of President Obama, and it is a bitter and disappointing experience. Many of us view the United Nations as just another large bureaucratic, ineffective and unaccountable organization diluting the power of the American citizen and promoting anti-American sentiment throughout the world.
America’s bigger challenges
Speaking of accountability, America faces much larger challenges than Syria. Today, America is involved in a gigantic struggle for its own soul and its future. Will we embrace the concepts of maximum individual freedom, responsibility, independence and privacy like our founders envisioned or will we allow huge unaccountable bureaucracies to take our freedoms from us? Will we succumb to the bribery of low information voters with government handouts and the corruption of giant special interest lobbyists or will we stand up for truth and justice and our belief in self reliance and capitalism which are the core principles on which this great country was built?
Unfortunately our current President seems to agree with you about American Exceptionalism. He apologizes to the world for an America he should be proud of. Oh, he says the right words to us, but he acts just the opposite. He promises boldly what he knows he can’t deliver. He hides the truth and he supports the people who work for him, who lie in front of Congressional hearings. He does not respect the will of the American people and he disrespects the institutions that have been set up to protect us. He spends our grandchildren’s money with no sense of responsibility nor does he have any inkling of the horrendous impending consequences for America of his bad leadership. He attacks our energy independence, capitalism, free enterprise and the institutions that have made America great. He successfully divides America when he could easily be uniting it. Instead of celebrating the progress we have made on racial equality, he sows the seeds of discontent. He forces really bad laws (like Obamacare) on the public against their will. He is aided and abetted by a free press that has forgot and/or ignored their critical responsibilities to protect our democracy by demanding the truth wherever it leads. We have lost more freedoms to our internal enemies over the last five years than we have lost to our external enemies over the last 50 years.
So Mr. Putin, you see that we have a lot bigger problems that America needs to address instead of creating a new one by invading Syria. Fortunately, we are an exceptional country and the forces of freedom and responsibility will soon emerge with an even greater conviction to reestablish the rule of the people over our government. We are an exceptional country because we are protected by a Constitution and a Bill of Rights and a Declaration of Independence that very specifically limit the power of the federal government in favor of the individual and the States. We are an exceptional country because we recognize that our freedoms were given to us by our Creator and no government, religious organization or corporate bureaucracy has any right to take any of our freedoms away from us. Not even Prince Machiavelli himself. Be assured that we will put our own house in order and be the world leader that speaks clearly and unambiguously.
So please, don’t let the America you see today give you a false impression of weakness or lack of conviction. We are not happy with what has happened to America over the last five years. Democracy is imperfect and sometimes we vote with our hearts and not our heads. But America always gets it right in the long run and there is nothing more powerful than a united free people that finally figures out that they have been misled.
A personal challenge for you
So now, President Putin, it’s time to, as we say in America, to “put your money where your mouth is”. The real world issues are nuclear proliferation, Iran, world-wide terrorism sponsored by Islamic terrorists, and world economic success. We need Russia to come together with America and guarantee that Iran will not get nuclear capability and that those countries that already have it will not allow it to be provided to others. Nuclear catastrophe remains the biggest threat to the world and you, President Putin, could become a world-wide hero by joining America and other peace loving countries to lead a grand plan to reduce the nuclear threat to humanity. I can only speak as an individual, but I believe a world wide effort led by Russia and America, starting with Iran, would be welcome by the American people. It is certainly a much better idea than spending trillions of dollars on future wars that will surely come if we don’t take aggressive action to solve this problem now. In the spirit of capitalism Russia and its people could benefit greatly by joining America as partners in peace. Given what happened to Japan and Germany, it’s really not that great of a leap to envision Russia and America coming together in peace and prosperity.
On American exceptionalism
Finally, there may be a language misunderstanding with respect to “American exceptionalism.” We agree with you that as individuals we are all equal in the eyes of the Lord. None of us by nature are superior to the rest of us. We want the same things for our families as the people of any other country; security and the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. These are natural rights of all humans and we have a responsibility to help all humans secure these rights. But this is not to be confused with socialism or communism which the vast majority of Americans do not believe in. While we believe in equal opportunity we do not believe in equal outcome. Every individual has the right to distinguish themselves (to become exceptional) through, hard work, education, perseverance, risk taking, individual choices and yes even luck. We believe in private property, capitalism, self-reliance and individual achievement and we encourage exceptionalism. Whether it’s academics, sports, business, music or community service, or our service to our country, we encourage and honor exceptionalism.
It is not dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional. It is only dangerous if they don’t earn it or deserve it. It’s like the Olympics. Every four years we get together to see, who the most exceptional athletes in the world compete. And every time we are amazed at how exceptional these athletes are. They are exceptional because they are talented, train hard and exercise discipline. This is a good thing to encourage and they deserve their gold metals, not to have them redistributed to those that were not exceptional. We do not encourage people to think of themselves as exceptional, because of their color or their political status, their connections or their ethnicity. To consider them exceptional they have to earn it.
America is exceptional for very different reasons. America is much more than a physical space with great natural resources. America is much more than a nation state with an exceptional history of fighting for the freedom of other nations thousands of miles away. America is an idea of individual liberty and personal responsibility that can help people throughout the world. America is a way of life, and a belief in the sovereignty of the individual. America is philosophy that is enshrined in our founding documents. America is exceptional because it is the best hope for freedom for the rest of the world. We are proud and exceptionally lucky to be Americans. We understand that our freedom is dependent on our ability to recognize and fulfill our responsibilities as individuals and as a country. We also understand that individual freedom can only be sustained to the degree that we exercise an equal level of responsibility as individuals and as a country.
Just as you say that “we must not forget that God created us equal” we must also remember that God gave to us as individuals the right to self-determination and there is no doubt that God did that with the expectation that we would use that right to become better human beings- perhaps even exceptional ones.
Sincerely, MI FRIP