Boehner on Putin's Op-Ed: ‘I Was Insulted'

By Melanie Arter | September 12, 2013 | 1:53 PM EDT

House Speaker John Boehner (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

( – House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) Thursday said he was “insulted” by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s op-ed in Thursday’s New York Times on the U.S. seeking military intervention in Syria.

“I was insulted,” Boehner said during a Thursday press conference when a reporter asked for his “blunt reaction” to the op-ed, which ran on the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

“Returning to Syria for one second. What is your blunt reaction when you read that Op-ed today? I mean do you think that America needs to respond more forcefully to his comments? Do you think that he is playing the president here? What was your blunt reaction when you read that?” the reporter asked.

Another reporter later asked Boehner to expound on his comment.

“I think that the president does foreign policy, and I’ve always believed that while we have opinions. I probably said more than I should have said,” Boehner said.

In his op-ed, Putin said no one wants the United Nations, which was established to make decisions affecting war and peace “by consensus,” to “suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage.”

“This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization,” Putin warned.

Putin said a potential U.S. military strike against Syria “could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.”

It would “result in more innocent victims and escalation,” he warned, and spread beyond the Syrian border.

It would also “increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism,” as well as “undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa,” he said.

Putin said while there is no doubt that poisonous sarin gas was used on innocent civilians in Syria, “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.”

Then the Russian leader accused the U.S. of continually intervening in the internal conflicts of other countries.

“It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States,” Putin said. “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,’” he added.

Putin also warned that strikes – “no matter how targeted” or “sophisticated the weapons” will result in civilian casualties, “including the elderly and children, whom the strikes are meant to protect.”

“The world reacts by asking: if you cannot count on international law, then you must find other ways to ensure your security,” Putin said. “Thus a growing number of countries seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

The Russian leader implied that he understood why some countries sought to acquire weapons of mass destruction, saying: “This is logical: if you have the bomb, no one will touch you.”

“We are left with talk of the need to strengthen nonproliferation, when in reality this is being eroded,” he added.

Putin said he “carefully studied” President Barack Obama’s address to the nation Tuesday, and he disagreed with Obama’s statement that U.S. 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 said. “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,” Putin added.