Editorial: From GOP troika, an unhelpful foreign policy critique
They form a troika of critics of President Obama’s foreign policy: Sens. Kelly Ayotte, John McCain and Lindsey Graham But the three Republicans appear more interested in finding fault than solutions. Their cicada-like screeching about a weak president and threats to America’s military sovereignty is neither helpful nor true. In Ayotte’s case, it’s embarrassing coming from a neophyte senator.
“Every time the president goes on national television and threatens Putin, everybody’s eyes roll, including mine. We have a weak and indecisive president that invites aggression,” Graham said recently.
“The naïveté of Barack Obama and (Secretary of State) John Kerry is stunning,” McCain told a radio show audience. “This is the most naive president in history.”
Russian president Vladimir Putin is “playing hardball and Obama is playing T-ball,” Ayotte said in a red meat speech she gave to fellow Republicans in Nashua earlier this month.
Since the troika, like most in their party, are constantly seeking to improve Republican midterm election prospects by bashing the president, it’s impossible to know how serious they are when they talk tough about using America’s power to police the world and force autocrats to behave. Do they forget that under a recent Republican president we tried that in two nations at great cost and with uncertain but probably dismal long-term results?
Do they forget that it was George W. Bush who said of Putin, “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. . . . I was able to get a sense of his soul.” That was, of course, before Putin invaded Georgia and bombed some of its cities on Bush’s watch.
Given its military importance and historic ties to Russia, there is probably nothing that the United States or any other nation could have done to prevent Putin from trying to reclaim Russia’s glorious past by invading Crimea. He will now pay a price for his aggression, one that should escalate. That price should include economic, but not military, support for Ukraine and other nations on Russia’s periphery. More should also be done to reduce the region’s dependence on Russian oil and gas.
What Putin fears more than anything else is stronger ties between Ukraine and the West. America and its European allies should make those fears a reality.