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On his first trip overseas as president in 2010, President Barack Obama was asked in a news conference whether he subscribed to the notion of American exceptionalism.
"I believe in American exceptionalism. Just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism, and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism," Obama responded.
That answer was a striking contrast to his endorsement of American exceptionalism Tuesday night, during his address to the nation on Syria.
"Terrible things happen across the globe. It is beyond our means to right every wrong. But when with modest effort and risk we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That's what makes America different. That's what makes us exceptional," Obama said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed Obama's political shift in a New York Times op-ed, writing, "It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional no matter the motivation."
Russia's "policy is in many ways a resentment-based policy. So if Obama embraces exceptionalism, he's going to attack it," said Bloomberg View columnist and The Atlantic contributor Jeffrey Goldberg.
"You cannot underestimate the role of resentment and humiliation in this relationship," said Goldberg.
For Goldberg, and many other Americans, the United States is indeed exceptional.
"We defeated fascism and communism in a single century, that's pretty exceptional," said Goldberg.
Putin's op-ed tried to dissuade Americans, and Obama, of that notion of superiority.
"(Putin) was a KGB agent who was trained his whole life to fight America. He was raised to believe that his system was superior. It turned out not to be superior. That's what Syria is, Syria is a proxy for them in some ways," said Goldberg.
"Russia believed it inherited Syria as part of its diminished sphere of influence. Having America attack Syria would be a humiliating event for Russia. Because it can't defend its client state, it's client state of many decades," said Goldberg.
Meanwhile, Obama appears reluctant to get involved in Syria at all.
"The president spent the last two years avoiding this subject hoping that Syria would just go (away). Look he's a domestic policy president, anyway. And then he looks at impossible problems in the Middle East – the Middle East which is where hope goes to die – and says, 'I can't get involved in this,'" said Goldberg.
For more of this discussion with Bloomberg View's Jeffrey Goldberg, along with CNN's Dana Bash, Gloria Borger, Jessica Yellin, and Jake Tapper, watch the video above.