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

  • JSpencer

    Krauthammer is just another in a long line of low signal to noise ratio blatherers who imagines his opinion matters. I’m glad the person at the helm has more sense than his critics do.

  • slamfu

    Nothing Obama does will be anything but mocked by the right. They have made it clear enough that their only intention is to spin any and all actions of the president in the worst possible light in the hopes that somehow disappointment with Obama will translate into better results for the GOP. Their opinion no longer matter in the realm of fact or strategy, only in politics. Adjusting our actions in any way to respond to their talking points and negativity is not in the best interests of this nation.

  • Chickenfarmer

    It would be nice if Krauthammer and the other conservatives would tell us exactly what they would do if they were in the president’s shoes.

  • JSpencer

    Adjusting our actions in any way to respond to their talking points and negativity is not in the best interests of this nation.

    True dat.

    It would be nice if Krauthammer and the other conservatives would tell us exactly what they would do if they were in the president’s shoes.

    Usually they don’t. When they do it’s likely to be some chickenhawk/neocon nonsense not worth hearing anyway.

  • jdledell

    DD – Nice summary of Bush and Georgia and Obama and Ukraine. I still shake my head at the ability of partisans(of either stripe) to twist the narrative in their favor ignoring logic or history.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Good to hear from you, jdl.

    I agree, people of both (or all) Parties — including yours truly — sometimes color the narrative to fit their views, but it gets really tiresome when such is done consistently and brazenly.

  • petew

    For all of us who remain comfortably on the sidelines and unaccountable for our ideas and actions, It’s very easy to beat our chests and rattle our sabers, but when one is actually commander in Chief, the numerous realities and complicated results involved in taking aggressive executive actions, suddenly take on an appropriate seriousness, and dissuade most Presidents from acting rashly or rapidly.

    Krauthammer, and many other conservative pundits continue to pile on the scorn and criticism because they understand how any blame, and any doubts at all, that are assigned to Obama’s actions (no matter how prudent and appropriately cautious)can potentially damage his image among swing voters.

    Personally I think that the President’s commitment to seeking diplomatic solutions first and military ones later, is born of a sincere desire to protect American lives and preserve world security. In this sense it is a refreshing change to see all the saber rattling put aside for just a moment, to see if real diplomacy and multilateral sanctions can accomplish the needed results.

    Another vital area used by Republicans in order to discredit the President, involves anything and everything about the ACA. One moment Obama is assailed as being anti-business and out to hurt even small businesses in order to advance his “evil” agenda, but when the President actually does something like, give businesses extra time to adjust and coordinate their computers in order to handle the complexities in an immense new health care law, his implementation of Obama-care, is immediately assailed with charges of being weak and indecisive—therefore why shouldn’t the entire law be scrapped?

    This type of two-faced hypocrisy is regularly employed by members of each party to discredit their opponents, but In the case of Obama, the resistance and vitriol has been particularly intense. The President is now pushing for new work projects designed to rebuild our infrastructure and create jobs that cannot be outsourced. And, he has been pushing for these very same projects during the last six years. None of it will get anywhere, as long as the GOP wants to prevent anything and everything that he thinks, says or does, from being perceived as being good or needed.

    Let’s also face it—GOP objections are basically about preserving more wealth for the wealthy, not out of real concerns for the middle class. And, when it comes to a black American President, with an Arabic sounding name, Obama becomes a very easy mark to blame for the frustrations and failures of conservative agendas which exist primarily to create money and keep it in the hands of those who really don’t give a damn about ordinary Americans!

    Hypocrisy, thy name is “Republican!” Webster’s should consider listing this word as part of a working definition for the practice of using manipulation and greed!

  • ShannonLeee

    The Georgia and Ukraine invasions are so similar that it makes it very easy to spot the partisan bs on both sides. The people that ridiculed Bush but support Obama and the people that supported Bush and ridiculed Obama are exactly the people that need to be ignored at all times.

  • epiphyte

    Macbeth’s poisoned vision of life pretty much sums up
    Krauthammer…

    … but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more: it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.