Yesterday, September 11, Russian President Vladimir Putin penned an op-ed in the NY Times. Regardless of what you may think of President Putin, his motives, or the origins (did he write it?) of "A Plea for Caution From Russia" his article is a sweeping and thoughtful look at the role of international law and American Exceptionalism in the international community.
For my money, Putin's piece offers an extraordinary glimpse into how much international relations and our approach to war has changed over the past 100 years.
Appealing to "international law" 100 years ago - with the world on the brink of 30 years of major war and economic turmoil - would likely have made Putin a pariah at home, and turned him into the laughing stock of a global community still focused on balance of power and realpolitik. This is not the case today, which explains why I sent Putin's article to all my American Foreign Policy and International Relations students (and we're not meeting until next week).
If you're inclined to read the piece (and I encourage you to do so) you probably should also take a look at what the Washington Post's Max Fisher has to say about the op-ed in "Vladimir Putin's New York Times op-ed, annotated and fact checked". While it doesn't provide broad historical insights it's balanced and will help those who might find some of Putin's references to be murky.
For a less than flattering take on Putin's work check out what Gary Kasparov - a former chess champion and an elected member of Russia's opposition movement's Coordination Council - had to say.
In these stinging and even humorous Tweets, picked up by the The Daily Beast, Kasparov makes it clear that, for him at least, Putin is a fraud.