Winds Of War Or Just Hot Air?

The Russian seizure of the Crimea may be one of the most serious international crises in years and should stimulate serious foreign policy debate in Washington.

Instead, there's just more of same old political posturing and partisan bickering as both the President and his critics are fumbling around looking clueless.

The Republicans are stumbling over each other in a mad rush to the cameras to attack Barack Obama, who they would have us believe is the real villain in this drama, not Vladimir Putin. They want the President to "do something."  What?  That's for him to figure out, apparently. 

In attacking the Obama they sound almost like Putin groupies. 

A fawning Sarah Palin sees the Russian leader as one who "wrestles bears and drills for oil"; Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) says he makes Obama tremble; Rudy Giuliani says he's "a leader" who "makes a decision and he executes it," and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) says “Putin is playing chess and I think we’re playing marbles.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky" said " were I in charge" he would "project strength."

And Dick Cheney, who did his utmost to avoid military service himself before going on to push us into two needless wars, is calling for "military options that don't involve putting troops on the ground in Crimea."  At least not right away.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said this all a result of what happened in Benghazi. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) wants to "punish Russia."  Like Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), his bold prescription was to do what the administration was already working on, including sanctions, freezing assets, and banning visas.

Republicans, incidentally, including Cheney, were strangely silent when Putin intervened in Georgia in 2008 and George W. Bush did even less than Obama is already doing.  Could Putin have been emboldened to act in Ukraine by Bush's weak response? Could Obama have added to that by not bombing Syria last year as he had threatened but instead opting for removal of Bashar Assad's chemical weapons arsenal?

What seems lost in the winds blowing around Washington is what columnist David Ignatius pointed out: “This is a story about Putin’s violation of the international order” and not about “whether Obama had encouraged it by being insufficiently muscular.”

That’s painfully apparent on Capitol Hill, where serious and constructive foreign policy debate has succumbed to the epidemic of hyper-partisan squabbling.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.