Monday, March 3, 2014

Window on Russia



"After the Russian army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama's reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence – the kind of response that would only encourage Russia's Putin to invade Ukraine next," she said in Reno, Nevada on October 21, 2008.

The media appears to be fully enjoying Sarah Palin's seemingly prophetic words from 2008.  the only problem is that Obama wasn't President then, George Bush was, and it was he, not Obama, who chose not to act against Russia's invasion.  But, to be fair, George Bush was in the midst of an economic collapse so we can pardon him for having other things on his mind.

Once again, the media has made Palin into a celebrity.  Virtually every news outlet is running the story, and Sarah is positively glowing in the limelight.  Why, she might even seriously consider a presidential run in 2016 now that her foreign policy creds have been significantly enhanced.  

McCain in Ukraine
Of course, she's not the only Republican saying "I told you so."   John McCain is similarly looking smug on the talk show circuit.  The unrepentant Cold Warrior has long had a hard on for Russia and sees Putin's latest incursion as proof we have underestimated Vlad the Conqueror's  broader ambitions.  He was particularly hard on Obama when the President scrapped the missile defense complexes in Poland and the Czech Republic, which Mackie felt was the only deterrent we had in place against Soviet, I mean Russian, aggression.

Before we have too many "I told you sos," here was Romney just one month ago telling the world that Putin has "outperformed" Obama on everything from Syria to the handling of Eric Snowden, and praising the Russian president's handling of the Winter Olympic games.  Romney wasn't the only Republican praising Putin.  Here is Pat Buchanan extolling Putin just three months ago.  In fact, many Republicans side with Putin when it comes to social conservative issues, particularly Vlad's stance against gay marriage, leading Jason Jones to ponder the parallels in one of his amusing segments Live from Sochi-ish.


But, here we are with Vladimir Putin once again public enemy number one for having the gall to invade Ukraine, ostensibly to protect Russian nationals in Crimea.  On a more serious note, Stephen F. Cohen recently told Fareed Zakaria that Russia is only protecting its geopolitical interests, and the US would do the same if American nationals were threatened in Canada.  I did say serious didn't I?

Here you have the two extremes.  An off-the-cuff statement by Palin five years ago, and a recent academic appraisal of the situation by a NYU professor in Russian studies.  Of course, the conservative press is jumping all over Cohen's statements, but the professor is a well-respected conservative who advised President George H.W. Bush.  

The Crimean standoff
Meanwhile, Obama is discussing with world leaders the best economic and diplomatic sanctions against Russia.  We are told nothing is off the table short of war, which essentially has already been declared.  John Kerry will be traveling to Kiev to provide moral support to the new government in Ukraine, but it seems that Crimea may have been irrevocably severed, and at best only some kind of face-saving gesture can come out of this. As Bob Gates noted, Putin is sitting in the catbird's seat.

The real corker is that the same Republicans who opposed an attack on Syria back in October, which was aimed at bringing Russia to the negotiating table (as it was the country supplying Syria's arsenal) are now saying that Obama didn't act strongly enough, among them Bob Corker.  You really have to marvel at all this wiggling and squirming in an attempt to make Obama look weak.

I guess the only question is what would Sarah Palin have done?  It doesn't seem like she really offers any plan of action in her rambling statements on Fox News, too proud to go very far beyond her bold prediction five years ago.  It's hard to take anything she says seriously, but that seems to be what the "lamestream" media is doing.


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