On September 11th, The New York Times published an opinion piece by Russian President Vladimir Putin which contains his viewpoint on the Syria situation. Putin ended the piece by writing: “And I would rather disagree with a case he [President Obama] 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.”

I find it amazing that Mr. Putin would take it upon himself to lecture the United States about “American exceptionalism” on September 11th, of all days. Or that he tellingly thinks it is dangerous to encourage individuals to see themselves as exceptional.

What is truly dangerous is what happens when a nation’s leaders convince its citizens that they are not exceptional. What is dangerous is a government that seeks to curtail the exceptionalism of its individual citizens by trampling their personal liberties and freedoms and by ruthlessly stifling free speech that opposes the policies of government leaders.

I can understand Mr. Putin’s fear of “American exceptionalism.” It’s certainly the last thing he wants his country's people to begin admiring or emulating.