In a New York Times op-ed, Russian President Vladimir Putin takes issue with President Obama's reference to American exceptionalism during his speech on Syria on Tuesday, calling the notion "extremely dangerous."
"I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday," Putin wrote in the op-ed, published online late Wednesday and printed in Thursday's newspaper. "And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is 'what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.'"
"It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation," Putin continued. "There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal."
As Obama convened a Cabinet meeting Thursday, a reporter attempted to shout a question about Putin's remarks, but Obama did not respond.
Obama's embrace Tuesday of American exceptionalism -- the idea that the United States qualitatively different than other nations -- was notable, especially since Republicans have criticized him for not fully embracing it in the past.
This criticism stemmed from a comment that the president made in 2009, at a news conference held during his first trip overseas as commander in chief. Asked whether he subscribed to American exceptionalism, Obama replied: "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism."
That was seen at the time as a nod to the fact that many abroad hear talk of American exceptionalism as jingoism.
During the run-up to the 2012 campaign, it seemed that nearly every candidate or would-be candidate on the Republican side took a turn lambasting him on the concept.
"This reorientation away from a celebration of American exceptionalism is misguided and bankrupt," former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney wrote in his campaign setup book, "No Apology: The Case For American Greatness."
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin also echoed that theme frequently in her speeches, Facebook postings, tweets and appearances on Fox News Channel. Her book, "America by Heart," had a chapter titled "America the Exceptional."
Obama has since often invoked American exceptionalism in his own rhetoric. But the speech on Syria marked a new emphasis, and the first time he had specifically relied on it in a full-throated call to action on an endeavor in which the United States finds itself largely isolated in the world.
In the op-ed, Putin also said the United States too often resorts to force as a knee-jerk reaction.
He noted continuing uncertainty in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
"It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States," Putin wrote. "Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan 'you’re either with us or against us.'
"We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement."
Putin repeated his claim that the Syrian rebels, rather than the government, are responsible for the use of chemical weapons, in an effort to dupe the United States and other countries into intervening on their behalf.
"No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria," Putin wrote. "But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists."
Lawmakers responded to Putin's op-ed with a mix of scorn and humor:
— Ed O'Keefe (@edatpost) September 12, 2013
Putin's NYT op-ed is an insult to the intelligence of every American
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) September 12, 2013
"I was insulted." -- Boehner, on his initial reaction to reading Putin's op/ed.
— jennifer bendery (@jbendery) September 12, 2013
Advice for Putin; exceptional countries allow fair elections and free speech. http://t.co/hzXnpyGpfH
— Rep. Todd Rokita (@ToddRokita) September 12, 2013
Karen Tumulty contributed to this report. Updated at 12:39 p.m.