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McCain: Ukraine Crisis Exposes Obama’s ‘Disturbing Lack of Realism’.


Image: McCain: Ukraine Crisis Exposes Obama's 'Disturbing Lack of Realism'

 

By Joe Battaglia

A day after calling Barack Obama “the most naive president in history,” Arizona Sen. John McCain continued his assault on the president’s foreign policy in an op-ed piece in Friday’s New York Times.

Specifically addressing Russia’s invasion of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine, McCain wrote that the United States’ response “has exposed the disturbing lack of realism” of the Obama administration and made the country look weak in the eyes of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the rest of the world.

According to McCain, President Obama’s belief that “the tide of war is receding” around the world so the United States can afford to scale back its military presence is a miscalculation.

That “reset” policy, coupled with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s crossing of Obama’s “red line” without consequence, has emboldened Chinese and Iranian loyalists, al-Qaida terrorists, and aggressive actors like Putin, whom he called “an unreconstructed Russian imperialist and KGB apparatchik.”

“To people like Mr. Putin, weakness is provocative,” McCain wrote.

He added, “What is most troubling about Mr. Putin’s aggression in Crimea is that it reflects a growing disregard for America’s credibility in the world.”

McCain echoed that sentiment in a fundraising letter penned for the Republican National Committee on Thursday.

“A secure world relies on a strong America. And a strong America relies on a robust military,” McCain wrote, according to The Washington Examiner. “Yet, sadly under President Obama, America’s military strength has been weakened and our country’s leadership in the world has been questioned. As a result, the world’s most dangerous players are flexing their muscles. Extremists are gaining ground. And these conflicts are becoming more dangerous by the day for our allies — and for us.”

Earlier in the day, McCain told Phoenix radio station KFYI, “The naivete of Barack Obama and [Secretary of State] John Kerry is stunning,” adding that Putin, whom he described as “amoral,” “cold,” “distant,” and “tough,” had “played us so incredibly.”

While McCain condemned Obama’s stance on Crimea to date, he outlined a plan he believes would change the course of events in Ukraine and regain global standing for the United States.

The first step McCain called for was a shoring up of Ukraine and reassuring of the Baltic states that the United States and the world will not stand for Putin bringing Russia’s neighbors “back under Moscow’s dominion.” McCain did not call for military action, but suggested an increased military presence by NATO in the region.

He also said Russia should be ostracized through a boycott of the G-8 summit scheduled for April 24-25 in Sochi, suggesting a Group of 7 meeting be convened elsewhere.

McCain added that the United States should “support and resupply Ukrainian patriots, both soldiers and civilians, who are standing their ground in government facilities across Crimea” as a way to stand with the Ukrainian people in defiance of the dismemberment of their country.

“We need to work with our allies to … show Mr. Putin a strong, united front, and prevent the crisis from getting worse,” McCain wrote. He added that the United States needs to “rearm ourselves morally and intellectually” to prevent Putin from attempting to occupy other nations along Russia’s borders.

McCain remains convinced that strong U.S.-led support of Ukraine will expose Putin’s Russia as being “not a great power on par with America,” but “a gas station run by a corrupt, autocratic regime.” Eventually, he said, the Russian people will revolt against him the same way the Ukrainians ousted Viktor Yanukovych.

“If Ukraine can emerge from this crisis independent, prosperous, and anchored firmly in Europe, how long before Russians begin to ask, ‘Why not us?'” McCain wrote.

While McCain said that there is still hope for a reversal of course in the region, he cautioned that “hopes do not advance themselves.”

“The darkness that threatens [Ukraine] will not be checked by an America in denial about the world as it is,” McCain wrote. “It requires realism, strength and leadership. If Crimea does not awaken us to this fact, I am afraid to think what will.”

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McCain: Putin Doesn’t Want Democracy Next Door.


Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn’t want democracy in Ukraine because he thinks it would set a bad example for Russians, Sen. John McCain said.

“Vladimir Putin does not want a democracy on his borders. That would be a very bad example, from his point of view, to be set for the Russian people,” the Arizona Republican told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday.

Last month, a protest movement by Ukrainians seeking closer ties with the European Union ousted President Viktor Yanukovych. In the last several days, as many as 16,000 Russian troops landed in the strategic Crimea region and demanded a surrender of Ukrainian forces.

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McCain has had harsh words for President Barack Obama’s handling of the Russian invasion of Crimea. On Monday, he called the president “feckless,” and charged “nobody believes in America’s strength anymore.”

McCain defended his criticism, claiming Obama was incorrect when he said the Cold War had been over for 20 years.

“Maybe in the president’s eyes, but certainly not in Vladimir Putin’s eyes,” McCain said.

Russia was likely to keep Crimea, McCain conceded, and predicted, “It’s not going to change.” He said the United States needs to gauge what Putin’s future ambitions are “for the restoration of the Russian empire.” He maintained it was important to view Putin for what he is, and “not what we want him to be.”

“There is has been a fundamental misreading of Vladimir Putin, his intentions, and things that he will do. There is no doubt that he will not give up in Crimea because of his belief in the near abroad,” McCain said.

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By Wanda Carruthers

Weekly Standard’s Kristol: Putin Should ‘Pay’ for Crimea Invasion.


Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to “pay a price” at home through the imposition of economic sanctions for invading the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol said Tuesday.

“There is a lot one can do with economic sanctions and other things. And
Putin needs to pay a price for this, and he needs to pay a price for it at home,” Kristol told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“The Russian people, and especially Russian elites close to him, need to feel, ‘Yikes he has endangered our bank accounts abroad, our ability to travel abroad, our hopes to get even richer’ off Putin’s kind of crony version of corporatism,” he added.

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The opinion was echoed by Financial Times journalist Gillian Tett on the “Morning Joe” panel, “If the West could actually get its act together and coordinate, [it] could be used very effectively indeed.”

The impact of sanctions may not hold that great a sway, Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for The Atlantic, told the “Morning Joe” panel. He said Putin had “outfoxed everyone,” and maintained the move into Ukraine would not be “easily reversible.” He also warned the Russian president could become emboldened by his success in Ukraine.

“There is nothing in the response of the United States, or Europe, or anyone else [that] has suggested to him that anyone would stop him actually from rolling forward. And he just has to calculate.

“He might say, ‘All right, I’m going to get criticized. I’m going to get excoriated for a while. But nobody is really going to stop me if I move forward in Ukraine or elsewhere,'” Goldberg said.

It was a mistake not to use the threat of military action against Russia, Kristol argued. He said Americans were “too quick to proclaim our own helplessness.”

“One thing that would help would be if Americans, in government especially, didn’t say, the first thing they say, ‘Well, God forbid, we can’t do anything militarily. The troops, that would be just out of the question,'” Kristol said.

The Russian invasion into Crimea, Tett emphasized, had set off alarms for Europeans as they realized their dependence on Russia for energy. She said it served as a reminder, “They need to get a lot less dependent on Russia.”

The invasion was also important, Kristol maintained, given the fact the Ukraine voluntarily gave up its nuclear weapons in an agreement with Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States in 1994 called the Budapest Memorandum. He said a part of the agreement was that “Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty would be respected by Russia.”

“If it now turns out that a nuclear-armed neighbor can just invade a country with whom they made this deal, with impunity, what signal does it send everywhere around the world?” Kristol asked. “The signal it sends is, not only don’t give up your nuclear weapons, build nuclear weapons. That will guarantee your safety. Everything else is just talk.”

Goldberg agreed, and said Middle East countries could decide to take up nuclear arms in the face of the events in the Ukraine.

“If you are sitting in Saudi Arabia right now or the United Arab Emirates, you would see Russia marching into Crimea, and saying, ‘Well, I think we might need the ultimate deterrent as well,'” Goldberg said.

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By Wanda Carruthers

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