UNITED NATIONS, September 24 (RIA Novosti) – US President Barack Obama pushed back Tuesday against Russian President Vladimir Putin, insisting that “America is exceptional” because it is prepared to fight not just for its own national interests but for the rights of people in other parts of the world.
In an address to the UN General Assembly, Obama acknowledged that US “engagement” in the Middle East had been met with hostility from some but argued that US disengagement from the region would create power vacuums no one else could fill and would present a bigger threat to world security.
“Some may disagree. But I believe America is exceptional – in part because we have shown a willingness, through the sacrifice of blood and treasure, to stand up not only for our own narrow self-interest, but for the interests of all,” Obama said.
His remarks were seen as a direct response to an op-ed piece by Putin published earlier this month in The New York Times in which the Russian leader, referencing earlier comments by Obama, said: “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation.”
Putin’s comments – that one in particular – triggered an emotional backlash from US politicians and also sparked a continuing public debate about the US approach to foreign policy in general and preconceptions that underpin that approach.
The United States and Russia are working on a plan to ensure the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria. Washington is pushing for a UN resolution containing a threat of military force if the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad does not comply with the plan, an approach Moscow rejects.