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Dear Mr. Putin:

I read your op-ed in The New York Times yesterday, and your decision to push your message through America’s most widely read news source still baffles me. I can only assume you were attempting to reach the American people. But why? Americans do not support military action in Syria in the first place. Do you even read The New York Times?

I know you are not familiar with the whole freedom of the press thing or freedom of speech thing, but plenty of Americans have already taken the liberty to express their disagreements with the president. Now, I know what you’re thinking: How is Obama going to silence all those dissenters? Is Alaska big enough and cold enough for that kind of prison population? Fortunately, these are not issues President Obama has to deal with. Instead, he was able to defer to congress to save face and appease the dissenters, thanks to what we call a constitutional separation of powers.

So if the American people already agreed with your general premise that America should not blow up some stuff in Syria (and thereby make the seat of your partner in crime warcrime a little hotter), what was the op-ed all about?

It must have been some kind of PR stunt to improve your image in the states.  I know you don’t have to do much pandering in Russia—as the threat of Siberian work camps has worked so well for you in maintaining public “support”—but your attempts to win over Americans could use a little work. For instance, you fell a bit flat when you started talking about how the use of force proves to be “ineffective and pointless.” You see, the Times and other media outlets in America keep us informed of how effective the use of force has been for you, so while Americans do seem to have a penchant for the likes of pervert politicians and corrupt officials, we don’t take quite as kindly to outright hypocrites and liars.

If it is American approval you are seeking, you should also refrain from telling Americans they aren’t exceptional. We just aren’t used to that. Frankly, it made some of us cry. We give trophies just for participation in youth sports and no child gets left behind when it comes to academics. We are special; everybody else tells us so.

If you want some Western admiration, you need to start being more Western.  You have certainly seen some Holywood movies, right? Here is a tip: the big strong serious guys in the movies who beat up on nicer, weaker people are not the crowd favorites. Try a more Forrest Gump-like or Supermanish approach. And if humility and protecting the innocent don’t work well for you, perhaps you could just try smiling more—or once.

Good luck, Vlad!