In recent days American politicians and pundits have evoked the Cold War more frequently than at any point since the sustained state of political tension ended (or didn’t) in the early 1990s. And, as was the case at the height of the actual Cold War, a large part of the national conversation in the U.S. currently revolves around questions of which of the international leaders involved is the strongest.
With Democrats largely quiet on the issue and Republican criticisms flying, the current dynamic of U.S.-Russian relations paints a portrait that looks something like this: A guy in mom-jeans and a pink bicycle helmet trying to figure out how to go toe-to-toe with a man who wrestles bears before breakfast.
Whether the imagery is accurate, or a simple result of the personal image each man has worked to cultivate over the years, doesn’t matter. What matters is that the Obama Administration is publicly fumbling in the midst of a foreign policy situation that could affect American citizens for decades to come.
What’s being said about President Obama’s response to increasing international tension
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) recently suggested that the Obama Administration is “agonizing” over international law and failing to realize that Russian President Vladimir Putin is in the initial phases of an effort to reassemble the Soviet Union.
“Today his sights are set on Ukraine, but if he continues undeterred tomorrow it could be Estonia, Latvia, Moldova, Romania, the Czech Republic, or Poland,” Cruz said, according to Breitbart.
The Senator said that Obama take steps to withdraw from the new START Treaty and reinstate a cancelled missile defense system in Poland.
“With a few strokes of his pen, Vladimir Putin has in recent days both created the Republic of Crimea and annexed that new entity into the Russian Federation, thereby violating the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Cruz said. “To hear Putin tell it in his address to the Duma, this action is not only perfectly legal, it also rights a historical wrong in which Russia was ‘robbed’ of its rightful claim to the Crimean peninsula in 1954.”
Cruz went on to suggest that Putin is on a mission to correct what the Russian leader personally views as a mistake in Russian history.
“President Obama has disputed the legality of [Russia’s] actions, observing that ‘President Putin seems to have a different set of lawyers making a different set of interpretations, but I don’t think that’s fooling anyone,’” Cruz said. “The reality, however, is that Putin is not concerned with international law or historical justice. His sole focus is on correcting what he considers to be the ‘greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century’ by reassembling the Soviet Union. Ukraine is only a step in this process. That is the real challenge the United States has to face, which we cannot do when we are agonizing over what our respective legal teams think.”
Representative Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) took a similarly harsh stance during an interview on Fox and Friends Wednesday, explaining, “What you’re seeing … is what you get when a community organizer takes on a KGB agent. It doesn’t go well.
“As you know, you don’t take a knife to a gunfight. Well, this president’s taken a paintball gun to a gunfight: It looks pretty, but it’s not going to accomplish anything,” he went on.
And it isn’t just Republicans criticizing Obama’s perceived weakness in taking on an international thug like Putin. A recent survey of national security insiders conducted by National Journal concluded that 53 percent think that Obama lacks the power to alter Russia’s course.
“Putin holds most of the cards in this conflict, and he’s also taken the measure of Obama and concluded that there’s no downside to pressing his advantage,” one participant said. “If Obama’s red lines in Syria meant nothing, why would they mean anything here?”