Ukraine: What a Difference Partisanship Makes

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As Russian troops entered neighboring territory the president of the United States, in an address to the nation, expressed his deep concern at reports that Russian troops have “invaded a sovereign neighboring state.” “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.”

NBC News reported that, while waiting for the results of a European Union initiative, the administration and its allies are debating ways to punish Russia for its invasion, including expelling Moscow from an exclusive club of wealthy nations and canceling an upcoming joint NATO-Russia military exercise and that the President “and his top aides are engaged in urgent consultations with European and other nations over how best to demonstrate their fierce condemnation of the Russian operation.”

NBC also reported that “In the medium term, the United States and its partners in the Group of Seven, or G-7, the club of the world’s leading industrialized nations that also includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, are debating whether to effectively disband what is known as the G-8, which incorporates Russia, by throwing Moscow out, the officials said.” Officials also said, “Russia’s pending membership in the World Trade Organization might also be affected.” However, “[t]he officials spoke on condition of anonymity because no decisions have yet been made and consultations with other countries involved were still under way.”

Meanwhile, as fellow blogger Janet Shan points out, Conservative pundits are wasting no time in slamming President Obama’s handling of the Ukraine crisis.

They are bashing the president for being “all talk and no action,” and are ridiculing his statements of “deep concern” and of “unacceptability” of the Russian actions that “jeopardize” Russians’ relations with the United States and Europe.

On Special Report, Charles Krauthammer explains that when the president says that the United States will stand with the international community he really means that “we are going to negotiate with a dozen other countries who will water down the statement” and that when the president affirms that there will be costs: “meaning in making a statement not even imposing a cost, but in making a statement about imposing a cost — for any military intervention” — whatever that means.

“What [the president is] saying is we’re not really going to do anything and we’re telling the world,” Krauthammer says.

At this point I have to disclose that the president making the remarks, above, about the Russian invasion is not President Obama but rather President Bush in August 2008, during the Russian invasion of Georgia.

However, Krauthammer’s remarks are indeed Krauthammer’s and are directed not at his ideological idol, President Bush, but rather at his favorite punching bag, President Obama, and the comments are in reference to the present Russian military intervention in Ukraine.

I really don’t know what Krauthammer had to say about President Bush’s “deep concern,” “fierce condemnation” and his desire to consult, confer and negotiate “with a dozen other countries” while Russian tanks were rumbling into the city of Gori and thrusting deep into Georgian territory and while, according to Georgian officials, “Gori was looted and bombed by the Russians.”

I don’t know what Krauthammer had to say about Bush debating with allies on “ways to punish Russia for its invasion of Georgia, including expelling Moscow from an exclusive club of wealthy nations and canceling an upcoming joint NATO-Russia military exercise” while “waiting for the results of a European Union initiative led by French President Nicholas Sarkozy” and while Georgia was being trampled by Russian tanks and soldiers.

Today, nearly six years later, Russian troops remain in Georgia.

Mind you, all the presidential “deep concern” and cautionary statements were after “five days of fierce fighting that may have [already] killed 2,000 people” in Georgia. Not — as we are now — at the beginning of a Russian military intervention, where the Obama administration has already discussed a broad range of costs to the Russians — costs and measures that Krauthammer and his colleagues are berating in advance.

Finally, it has just been reported that Secretary of State John F. Kerry will visit Kiev on Tuesday to show support for the new leadership there in the face of Russian military intervention.

One wonders how Krauthammer will (mis)characterize this latest Obama administration action.

Edited to correct number of years since Russian invasion of Georgia

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist