Obama, Ukraine, and Republican amnesia

     Pro Russian soldiers guard Ukraine's infantry base in Perevalne, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow reserves the right to use all means to protect Russians in Ukraine as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was on his way to Kiev. Tensions remained high in the strategic Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea with troops loyal to Moscow firing warning shots to ward off protesting Ukrainian soldiers. (Sergei Grits/AP Photo)

    Pro Russian soldiers guard Ukraine's infantry base in Perevalne, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow reserves the right to use all means to protect Russians in Ukraine as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was on his way to Kiev. Tensions remained high in the strategic Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea with troops loyal to Moscow firing warning shots to ward off protesting Ukrainian soldiers. (Sergei Grits/AP Photo)

    Boy oh boy, the President of the United States is such a wimp!

    Russian troops have invaded a nearby sovereign nation, yet all he has done is respond with words: “Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century…The Russian government must reverse the course that it appears to be on…These actions have substantially damaged Russia’s standing in the world. And these actions jeopardize Russia’s relations with the United States and Europe.” He wants to punish Russia with sanctions (big deal), and, worse yet, he doesn’t have the stones to take manly military action.

    No wonder the Republicans are hammering Barack Obama for being such a feckless timid indecisive weakling…oh, but wait a sec. Let’s set the record straight. The aforementioned quotes were actually uttered by George W. Bush.

    It was the summer of 2008, and autocratic thug Vladimir Putin had just sent his soldiers into Georgia. Bush’s team decided to forego an aggressive response; his secretary of state scoffed at the notion of “chest-beating,” and a national security aide later said, “We did a lot, but in the end there was not that much that you could do.”

    Funny, I don’t seem to remember Bush being tagged as a wimp by the Republican warriors, the keyboard neocons, or the lockstep trolls. Nor did they ever seek to remind us of Bush’s peerless analytical powers circa 2001, when he famously said of Putin, “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul.”

    Yet today, naturally, it’s an entirely different story. The right-wing chorale is singing with abandon, demanding that the Obama administration Do Something Big about Putin’s illegal dispatch of troops to the Crimean peninsula in southern Ukraine. The McCain-Graham tag team is predictably agitated, the Fox News hawks are dissing Obama for merely warning Putin that “there will be costs”…you know, the usual stuff. It’s a good thing that Obama never publicly vouched for Putin by peering into his soul; had he done so, it would be deemed grounds for impeachment.

    But how, pray tell, would the president’s knee-jerk critics police the Ukraine crisis? What are their bright ideas for compelling Putin to retreat?

    Marco Rubio, who’s trying to reignite his prospective ’16 White House bid by donning big boy pants, suggested some moves in an article this weekend. For instance: In a show of solidarity with the Ukranians, send Secretary of State John Kerry to embattled Kiev; develop some “security assurance measures” to help the Ukrainians; boycott the G-8 economic summit meeting that’s slated for June in Russia; and suspend “any and all discussions and negotiations with Moscow on any issue unrelated to this crisis, including trade and other matters.”

    Well, guess what: Obama is already doing virtually all that stuff – and more. He has sent Kerry to Kiev (offering a $1-billion loan guarantee), called off trade talks with Russia, suspended military business with Russia, halted planning for that G-8 meeting, laid the groundwork for banning visas to prospective Russian visitors, begun plans to freeze the U.S. bank assets of Russian officials, and given the nod to congressionally-enacted sanctions, plus economic aid to the tenuous pro-western government in Ukraine. These economic and diplomatic moves, Obama said yesterday, “will isolate Russia and will have a negative impact on Russia’s economy and its standing in the world.”

    Would the Republicans care to top that, perhaps by agitating for a U.S. military intervention? Nope. Even among the Obama-haters, there is a nary a soul who pines for the guns of war.

    So perhaps we should all take a deep breath, and let this crisis play out in the economic and diplomatic spheres. In fact, Putin’s country has already taken a big financial hit. When the international markets opened yesterday, Russian stock indexes got hammered, dropping $60 billion in value in just one day. (That’s more than what Russia spent on last month’s Olympics. Remember the propagandistic Russian-greatness opening ceremony? What a joke.) Meanwhile, in just one day, the ruble fell to a record low against the dollar. Even a messianic tyrant like Putin might eventually recognize the cumulative economic pinch.

    Some of what Obama seeks to do won’t be easy, however. He’ll have a tough time pushing for draconian sanctions against Russia – given the American corporate community’s heavy investments in the Russian market (for instance, Pepsi, Boeing, and GM); and given the resistence of our European allies, who do $340 billion in annual business with Russia. So, at minimum, it would be nice if the right-wing Obama haters lowered the volume.

    For once. If only for a little while.

    ——-

    Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1

    ://themoderatevoice.com/192167/ukraine-what-a-difference-partisanship-makes/#ExUtX0qoVYTE6Lcz.99

    “Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century,” the President said.

    Referring to how Russia’s actions have raised serious questions about its intentions in the region, the President said, “These actions have substantially damaged Russia’s standing in the world. And these actions jeopardize Russians’ relations — Russia’s relations with the United States and Europe. It is time for Russia to be true to its word and to act to end this crisis.”

    Read more at http://themoderatevoice.com/192167/ukraine-what-a-difference-partisanship-makes/#ExUtX0qoVYTE6Lcz.99

    Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century,” the President said.

    Referring to how Russia’s actions have raised serious questions about its intentions in the region, the President said, “These actions have substantially damaged Russia’s standing in the world. And these actions jeopardize Russians’ relations — Russia’s relations with the United States and Europe. It is time for Russia to be true to its word and to act to end this crisis.”

    Read more at http://themoderatevoice.com/192167/ukraine-what-a-difference-partisanship-makes/#seZz5esTomQfdXUS.99

    “Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century,” the President said.

    Referring to how Russia’s actions have raised serious questions about its intentions in the region, the President said, “These actions have substantially damaged Russia’s standing in the world. And these actions jeopardize Russians’ relations — Russia’s relations with the United States and Europe. It is time for Russia to be true to its word and to act to end this crisis.”

    Read more at http://themoderatevoice.com/192167/ukraine-what-a-difference-partisanship-makes/#seZz5esTomQfdXUS.99

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