Russian-American rivalry has become commonplace since the close of WWII, so it cannot come as a surprise for Putin to want to remind America that it is not exceptional. However, I do not think this comment should merely be taken as a typical Russian criticism. In this same letter, Putin went on to say that despite countries’ differences, “we must not forget that God created us equal.” I think there is great wisdom behind his words, regardless of whether he does in fact apply this view of equality when he compares Russia to other nations. For years the United States has considered itself a high and mighty nation. In many ways, the U.S is a great nation; but it cannot allow its successes to inflate its head. America’s large ego has led it to intervene in multiple nations—at times with noble aims, but at others, seeking to fulfill its own interests. Although this country has strength and wisdom to offer, it does not know what is best for everyone. Its attempts to impose its own views and systems upon other people, as occurred in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, have often resulted in the perpetuation of disaster. For this reason, it is important for the U.S to see itself as a participant in the international community who should seek to cooperate with other nations, instead of pursuing a domineering agenda. It has been a great step in the right direction for the U.S to choose to withhold military action in Syria and to have reached an agreement with Russia, Syria and the international community at large.
I disagree with this statement. While one should not see themselves as better than someone else, they should see themselves as exceptional. Yes, we were all created equal and are entitled to certain rights and should not belittle others just to let ourselves grow. However, we should all recognize our internal strengths and what makes us unique. If you don't encourage people to look in and find what makes them exceptional, they usually won't have any motivation to exploit those strengths and do anything. I don't know what caused Putin to make this statement, but I can understand there are many cultural differences between the US and Russia.
I don't know how I feel about people thinking their exceptional, possibly because there seems to be a slippery slope that can lead to complacency and false ideas about what they (we) are entitled to. However, I do think it is crucial for humanity's progress and the improvement of our standards of living for individual to know they have the potential to be exceptional.
As a country, I do believe that we have always thought of ourselves as the "police force" of the world. This has gone back to almost the beginning of our country, and we should not have assumed that we are above all of the other countries in the world. That creates a big point of contention against our country around the globe. At the same time, however, Putin's comments should not all be taken in truth. He mentions, "we must not forget that God created us all equal," however Russia recently passed some of the strictest anti-gay laws in the world. I believe this is extremely hypocritical, and while our own country is grappling with gay rights right now, we are no where near how Russia treats its citizens. There has been tension for a while now between Russia and the United States, and this probably will not change for a while. Both have things to change before tensions might cool off.
I thought that Putin's letter was interesting for a number of reasons - most notably his association with the American PR firm Ketchum. I was shocked to find out that Ketchum works so closely with the Russian President, and it certainly raises a lot of questions with regards to ethics and where PR firms should draw the line when it comes to dollars versus a basic loyalty to country.
Of course, it's hard to know how involved they were in the writing and publishing of this piece. The quote above sounds like something Putin wrote himself, and while he surely has ulterior motives, I don't particularly disagree with it. There is nothing wrong with believing in something and wanting others to think the same way. The problem arises when people start thinking that they are fundamentally better than others because they possess said belief.