Carney: Russia’s human rights record shows why America is exceptional

September 12, 2013
(Alexei Nikolsky/AFP-Getty Images)
(Alexei Nikolsky/AFP-Getty Images)

White House press secretary Jay Carney fought back Thursday against Russian President Vladimir Putin's New York Times op-ed, in which Putin criticized President Obama for embracing the concept of American exceptionalism.

Carney said at his daily briefing that Russia's human rights record presents a "stark contrast" to American exceptionalism.

"Unlike Russia, the United States stands up for democratic values and human rights in our own country and around the world," Carney said, according to a transcript. "And we believe that our global security is advanced when children cannot be gassed to death by a dictator."Carney also noted that Putin benefited in his op-ed from the American ideal of freedom of speech contained in the First Amendment.

"It's worth also pointing out that there's a great irony that, in the placement of an op-ed like this -- because it reflects the truly exceptional tradition in this country of freedom of expression," Carney said.

Carney also was asked about Secretary of State John Kerry's comment that a military response "might" be required if no diplomatic solution is reached requiring Syria to turn over its chemical weapons.

The administration to this point has been firmer in its statements that military action would be required absent a diplomatic solution, which led some to read Kerry's remarks as backing away from that position.

"He said 'might,' and I think that allows for a variety of things that might happen in the coming days and weeks," Carney said.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake · September 12, 2013