Archive for March, 2014


The party of gridlock


The party of gridlock.

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No, American Weakness Didn’t Encourage Putin to Invade Ukraine

If you’ve listened to President Obama’s critics in recent days, you’ve almost certainly heard two claims. First, that under Obama, America is in retreat around the world. Second, that America’s retreat emboldened Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine.

Let’s take the second claim first. Obama’s critics differ as to which moment of White House fecklessness spurred Putin to act. “Ever since the [Obama] administration threw themselves in [Putin’s] arms in Syria … I think he’s seen weakness. These are the consequences,” insists Tennessee Senator Bob Corker. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, by contrast, suggests, “The big one that started this was the absolute retreat on our missile defense system in Poland and Czechoslovakia.” Either way, there’s a causation problem. If it was Obama’s weakness—in the Middle East or Eastern Europe—that encouraged the Russian president to invade Ukraine, then how do Corker and Rogers explain Putin’s decision to do something similar in Georgia in 2008, back when George W. Bush was president?


Obama, the feckless tyrant

In theory, it is possible for Obama to rule domestic politics with an iron fist and yet play the 98-pound weakling in foreign affairs. But it doesn’t make a lot of sense that one person would vacillate between those two extremes. A better e…xplanation is Obama’s critics are so convinced that he is wrong about everything that they haven’t paused to consider the consistency of their accusations.Obama is neither tyrant nor pushover. In general, the criticism of him being inconsistent and indecisive is closer to the mark. But the accusation that he has been feckless in Ukraine is still dubious, because those demanding a stronger response have been unable to come up with one.
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